Thursday 25 March 2021

Four English Kings


A Dutch depiction of four English Kings: Edward IV, Edward V (looking sorrowful and with a crown floating above his head as he had disappeared and had no coronation), Richard III, and Henry VII. 
By Hendrick Goltzius, 1584.

Monday 22 March 2021

Anne Boleyn - The Queen Mother


Anne Boleyn (by an Unknown Artist)


 The title of 'Queen Mother' is an honorific one given to the mother (usually a former queen herself) of the current sovereign.

Such persons are usually held in great esteem, like the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (1900-2002), but in the case of Anne Boleyn, that was not the case. In 1536, her husband Henry VIII had her executed on charges of high treason, and her infamy was blazoned across Europe.

Consequently, we will never know how Elizabeth I felt exactly about her infamous parent. She was gone before her daughter was three years old, and ever since, the subject of Anne must have been a painful one to Elizabeth.

Nonetheless, there are indications that despite her silence, Elizabeth honored her mother's memory, at least privately. You can read about such examples here:


Still, Anne Boleyn made her presence felt on two great public occasions, those marking the beginning and the end of her daughter's reign.


The Coronation Procession of Elizabeth I

In January 1559, at Elizabeth's coronation procession through London, a tableau was set up at on Gracechurch Street showing the 'uniting of the two houses of Lancaster and York.’ At the bottom were figures of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, in the middle Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn (which the Venetian ambassador described as being accompanied by her device of the white falcon with 'a gold crown on its head and a gilt scepter in its right talon, the other resting on a hillock; and surrounded in front of her by small branches of little roses, the coat of arms and device of the said Queen'), and at the top Elizabeth herself.

When Elizabeth passed away in 1603, Anne was acknowledged again. At Elizabeth's funeral that April, among the banners of her royal ancestors surrounding her hearse, was that of the coat-of-arms of 'Henry the eight and Anne Bulleine, father and mother to our deceased Queene, carried by the Lord de la Ware'.

This banner can be seen in an illustration of the procession. It is the last on the second row of banners.


 The Funeral Procession of Elizabeth I

 The Funeral Procession of Elizabeth I (Detail, showing a banner with the arms of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn)



Saturday 20 March 2021

A Plea to Anne of Cleves


Dorothea's letter to Anne of Cleves


On December 29, 1539, Dorothea of Denmark, wife of Elector Frederick II of the Palatinate, wrote a pleading letter to Anne of Cleves, who was set to marry Henry VIII shortly. 

She begged Anne to get the King's help in releasing her father Christian II of Denmark, 'a pitiful prisoner'. He had been dethroned and had been locked up for the past seven years.


Dorothea of Denmark (by Johann Georg Wissger, detail)


Anne of Cleves (attributed to Barthel Bruyn)


Unfortunately, Anne could do nothing, and the ex-King remained in custody till his death in 1559.

Incidentally, Dorothea's sister was Christina of Denmark, a famed beauty whom Henry VIII had hoped to marry earlier. 


Christian II of Denmark (by an Unknown Artist)


 Christina of Denmark (by Hans Holbein)



Tuesday 16 March 2021

William Tyndale's English Bible of 1535

English Bible (translated by William Tyndale) with the coat-of-arms of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, printed in London and dated June 16, 1535.

'A goodly prymer in englyshe, newly corrected and printed, with certeyne godly meditations and prayers...'

The signature of its 16th century owner (Kathryn Goswold) appears at the bottom.




Thursday 11 March 2021

The Price of Love - Edward Seymour and Lady Katherine Grey



Edward Seymour (by Nicholas Hilliard)

Katherine Grey and her child Edward Seymour (after Levina Teerlinc)

In 1561, Edward Seymour (son of the King Edward VI's Lord Protector) and Katherine Grey (sister of the tragic Lady Jane, the 'Nine Days Queen') were locked up in the Tower of London for marrying behind Queen Elizabeth's back.

Their two sons, Edward and Thomas, were born in prison, and the marriage was annulled by the authorities.

Katherine was then separated from her husband, whom she never saw again. She died in 1568. Edward married two more times, and passed way in 1621.

The coat of arms of Edward Seymour and Katherine Grey

Wednesday 10 March 2021

Dutch Drawings of European Royalty

Illustrations of Henry VIII, Francis I of France, and Eleanor of Austria (Francis' second wife and the sister of the Emperor Charles V). 

Attributed to the Dutch artist Cornelis Anthonis (1505-1553). From the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.