I saw a tweet today…

You know it’ll all end well when that’s how I open a post.  I saw a tweet today that featured a portrait of James VI/I of Scotland and England.  While that is all well and good, and I am very glad that he got a bit of publicity today, the author of the tweet continued on that it was he who first thought to bring the two nations together under one monarch.

James was particularly fond of the idea of a “Great Britain,” and while he did unite the two nations (of course along with Wales and Ireland) under one crown when he ascended the throne of England in 1603, he was not the first monarch of the Isle to take action with that end goal in mind.  The ascendancy of the Stewarts was the inverse of the fortunes of the Tudors, whose last monarch, Elizabeth, passed her crown on to James.  The first Tudor king, though, Henry VII, also held dear the dream of a united kingdom of Great Britain.  Why else, would one imagine, he marry his eldest daughter, Margaret, not to the French, the Spanish, or a German prince, but to the Scottish King?  Any of their future children would carry the blood of both the Tudors and the Stewarts, bringing the two dynasties an intimate connection which later came to fruition with James VI.

Without the ambition of Henry VII, there would not have been a Stewart claim to the English throne, or at least as legitimate as the one James possessed through his descent from Margaret Tudor.

Of course, there had been marriages between the royal families of Scotland and England before, such as the marriage of Joan Beaufort and James I, but she was not the daughter of a ruling monarch, she was only his half-niece.  She did, however, have royal blood and was a descendant of Edward III through her father’s line.  Another example of the English royals marrying into the Scottish ruling family occurred much earlier, with the marriage of Joan of the Tower, the youngest daughter of Edward II and Isabella of France to David II of Scotland (the House of Bruce).  Margaret of England, daughter of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence, married into the Scottish royal family by her marriage to Alexander III.  Joan, a daughter of John of England, married Alexander II.  I could go on, but the point is adequately made.

Marrying into the Scottish royal family wasn’t a new idea in by Henry VII’s time, actually, it seems to have been almost a traditional practice (especially if one had a daughter named Joan!).  Henry VII, though, hoped to have Scotland under his thumb more directly by having his eldest daughter marry her King, whereas most of the aforementioned marriages were between Scottish monarchs and younger daughters of English monarchs.  In an interesting turn of events, it was not Scotland under England’s rule, but England under the rule of a Scottish king that brought together the two nations in a more peaceful manner than had been experienced previously.  The Wars of Scottish Independence had, for a time, brought both nations together, but in a forcible manner, unlike that which passed under James VI.

 

This is particularly important to remember, especially tonight, when the Scottish people are voting in the largest referendum to date in their history.  Scotland has a proud and vibrant history, and it is because of that history that the citizens of Scotland are voting tonight.

I cannot make any claim as to how I want to see this turn out.  I certainly have my own opinions, but it is up to the Scots, tonight, to decide for themselves.   I just hope that they remember how it wouldn’t have been the United Kingdom without a Scottish monarch to bring it all together (even if it had been an aim of the English monarchs for centuries before it actually happened).

James IVMargaret Tudor

Review and Rambling: Crown of Thistles – The Fatal Inheritance of Mary Queen of Scots

Crown of Thistles: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary Queen of Scots (or in the US Tudors vs. Stewarts: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary Queen of Scots)

By Linda Porter

Crown of Thistles cover

In the course of my hiatus, I had the opportunity to read a few books that’d been on my “want” pile, and at the very top was Crown of Thistles, which I purchased on my trip to England earlier this summer.  I’d already read the other “fun” book I purchased at the same time, a biography on Queen Matilda, whose husband was King William I of England.  I’d wanted to get one in temporal area of research and one out.  I was quite pleased to find one that seemed to be about Mary Queen of Scots, mother-in-law to Anna of Denmark, whom I presented a paper on this summer.

After presenting and having the opportunity to talk shop about history with the other presenters, I’ve become more resolved to look at not just English history, as I’ve done previously, but also Scottish.  Scottish history is a rich and vibrant field and I want to continue my study looking at royalty, the construction of feminine identity and authority, and educational history, especially in context of the other monarchy on the island and in relation to those on the continent.

So this book Crown of Thistles, fits in quite well with my geographic focus and my focus on royal studies.  Originally, from the title, I thought it was primarily going to be about Mary Queen of Scots, and a focus on her relationship with Elizabeth I of England, but I was mistaken.  From the start, I was annoyed that we were reading about Catherine de Valois, Queen Consort to Henry V, and James III, but I was drawn in to Porter’s prose with her flair for bringing these historical characters to life as flesh and blood people and realizing where she was going by starting so far in the past.

By starting in the 15th century, she carefully sets up the tempestuous relationship between the two dynasties, and then carefully gives us background and biography on each of the rulers and other main players in the government and society.  I was glad, it was a breath of fresh air, to read about Scottish monarchs James III, James IV, and James V.

Also written in great detail was the Battle of Bosworth Field, as well as the rest of Henry VII’s exile and battles for the throne.

Pulling together these two seemingly disparate threads to put light on Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth was an interesting approach, and although I’d wanted more on Mary, there are other sources which fall under that heading, like Lady Antonia Fraser’s work, or John Guy’s.  This put her childhood in France in context with the ambitious nature of her mother and brought to life the Auld Alliance.  As a reader, she helped me to understand that while the story can seem simple, it is infinitely more complex than it seems, and to bring an understanding of the people, as living-breathing people, can grant the reader more clarity.

 

I would whole heartedly recommend this book, with the caveats that it is 1) not just about Mary Queen of Scots, and 2) for a trade paperback, REALLY long.  It reads quickly and is not overly difficult.

“And I Will Make Them One Nation.”

This BBC programme, all about how the Stewarts led the century that set up England, Scotland and Ireland to become Great Britain, is a highly watchable and accessible piece of work by Dr. Clare Jackson, of Cambridge University.

Mary Queen of Scots (Mary, Queen of Scots as a young girl)

“The Stuarts” BBC Programme Link

 

In it, she starts of telling the story of James VI and his impeccable lineage, descended from not only the Scottish Stewarts, but also the Danish royal family (Through Margaret of Denmark),  and, more importantly, the English royal family (through his paternal great-grandmother, Margaret Tudor).  He had apparently always felt that he would unite the crowns and kingdoms of England and Scotland under one man, himself.  Dr. Jackson then takes us through his efforts to legally unite the two nations, but for James, to no avail.

Margaret Tudor   (Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York)

What was curious for me, and I was glad to see it, was that she had also paid attention to Henry Frederick, James’ eldest son and Prince of Wales.  In many texts, his life tends to be glossed over a bit as it wasn’t he, but his younger brother Charles, who succeeded their father as King.  This was due to a premature death at the age of 18.  From there, Dr. Jackson goes into the story of Charles as Prince of Wales and his incredible journey to Spain.  She supposes that much of his style of kingship was influenced by his time there as a guest of King Philip IV.   His love of pageantry and his insistence on ceremony may also have been influenced by Philip’s court.

Elizabeth Stuart (Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen, daughter of Anna of Denmark and James I)

She concludes the episode after explaining how Charles came to be king, married a French princess, the Catholic Henrietta Maria, and the struggles he faced over religion with Scotland.

Henrietta Maria (Henrietta Maria, queen consort to Charles I)

All in all, this episode is a fabulous bit of history and it was quite enjoyable to watch!  The only thing that was frustrating to me, really was the lack of Queen Anna.  Her name was mentioned exactly once.  That was in reference to the death of Henry.  Was Anna’s influence as queen consort not felt more than just the death of her son?  Wasn’t she a partner in the creation of the legacy of the Stuart dynasty?  She spent 14 years in Scotland with James before they took England by storm in 1603. She then spent 16 years as Queen of England before her death in 1619.  It seems as though she was shunted to the side, ignored.  Henrietta Maria got her portrait on the screen and the mention about how she was Catholic.  There is evidence to support a supposition that Anna converted to Catholicism, so wouldn’t that conflict between her and her strongly Protestant husband make for an interesting bit of monologue?

 

What seems to be forgotten, at least so far, is the story of the women of the Stewart/Stuart dynasty.  Brief mention of Mary, Queen of Scots, Margaret Tudor, Elizabeth Stuart, Henrietta Maria, and even less for Anna.  Perhaps this will be discussed in the future two episodes set to air?  If not, then I hope there will be material on the programme’s website dedicated to these women.  (Anna’s not even mentioned in the “The early Stuarts: marriage is power” page!)  I think that focusing on the monarchs makes for good TV, but including the consorts and daughters makes for good history.

Greece vs. Rome in “Vision of the Twelve Goddesses”

“It is noteworthy that the model for the King’s action is Greek.  Luminalia also had a Greek component in that one of the minor themes dealt with the expulsion of the Muses from Greece and their eventual settlement in Britain.  Greece signified culture in contrast to Rome with its associations with military and imperial might.”

– Graham Perry, The Golden Age Restor’d: The Culture of the Stuart Court 1603-42, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1981, p. 202-203.

 

From a printed edition - 1880

From a printed edition – 1880

 

Upon reading the above quote in Graham Perry’s work on the Stuart masques, it really got me thinking of Queen Anna’s first public masque, The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses by Samuel Daniel and designed by Inigo Jones.  Even though the quote is in reference to the Caroline masques and not the Jacobean ones, it is an interesting framework to examine the assignment of roles in the masque.  Performed in 1604, it was the first masque of Anna’s career as Chief Masquer (not Blackness by Ben Jonson in 1605 as Perry asserts).     Below I have compiled a chart of who danced with Anna in the masque and what persona they embodied.  This is an appendix taken from a paper I wrote up as a thesis of sorts to complete a directed study.  In the scope of this post, I’ll just be looking at the role that Anna took, rather than the ones that were assigned to her Ladies of Honour.  I hope to, at another juncture, have the opportunity to look even deeper at the masque and analyze the iconography and symbolism in the text and device.

The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses, by Samuel Daniel
Name/Rank Role
Queen Anna Pallas Athena
Countess of Suffolk Juno
Countess of Hertford Diana
Countess of Bedford Vesta
Countess of Derby Persephone
Countess of Nottingham Concordia
Lady Rich Venus
Lady Hatton Macaria
Lady Walsingham Astraea
Susan de Vere Flora
Dorothy Hastings Ceres
Elizabeth Howard Tethys

 

I’ve gone through and done a simple sorting scheme – Red = Roman, Green = Greek.  The role that Anna chose for herself was quite significant in terms of how she wanted to be perceived and was an effort in self-fashioning her public identity.  Instead of choosing the role of the Roman Queen of the Goddesses (well, Queen Consort!), Juno, she gave that role to Catherine Howard, the Countess of Suffolk.  Suffolk had served Queen Elizabeth for many years and was a person Anna respected and trusted, as is evidenced by the fact that Suffolk had been chosen to be godmother to Anna’s daughter, Sophia.  Anna accorded Suffolk with a very high honor in placing her as the queen of the goddesses.  Her choice for herself was Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, battle, and the arts.

Athena was also the patroness of the City of Athens, which was named for her.  An ancient cosmopolitan centre, Athens was home to a bustling arts and culture scene and has typically been regarded as the birthplace of western civilization as we know it.

Perhaps Anna’s motive was to seize a new image for herself, one that reflected virtues that she wanted others to think she possessed, or ones to which she did lay rightful claim?  Perhaps her choice of Athena was a chance to scintillate and titillate the English and to show that she was a very different sort of Queen consort?  The last queen consort, Katherine Parr, was also a very literary woman who published popular works in her own name while she was Queen.  Anna didn’t create written works on her own, she was more of an idea lady who directed the works of others.   It was through those works though, that the image that Anna wished to portray comes out clearly.  In Vision of the Twelve Goddesses, as Athena, her persona was of a strong, wise female who held dominion over Athens.  Her costume included a short tunic (that bared her legs below the knee) and a helmet with a spear.

Anna’s husband, James, dearly held to the ideal of pacifism and detested using force and military might.  With her act of appropriating the weaponry and tools of war, Anna took on a more traditionally masculine role in their perceived relationship and set herself up as a worthy successor of Elizabeth I.  Which was a prudent act to take as the costumes were also from Elizabeth’s wardrobe.  As a cost saving measure, the Late Queen’s wardrobe was raided for her sumptuous gowns and the garments altered to be fit into appropriate costumes for the masque.

(“I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.” ~excerpt from Elizabeth’s speech at Tilbury, 1588)

Looking to the quote at the start of the post, however, it is interesting that Anna chose Athena instead of Minerva.  Minerva, Athena’s Roman counterpart, would have more exemplified the Early Modern interpretation of the Roman empire, one of peace loving imperialism, instead of the Greeks, who demonstrated the aforementioned arts and sophistication.  Anna, then, presented a dual image.  With choosing the Greco-interpretation of Athena, she sided herself with the perception of culture that was generally accepted to have belonged to the Greeks.  Perhaps she was trying to conflate the new dynasty with a rebirth of Athens.  With choosing Athena, though, she also personified the militaristic might of the Goddess of War, tempered, of course, with Wisdom.

In so doing, Anna managed to display both the sophistication of the Greeks with the imperialistic might of the Romans, subtly reminding the attendees of the virtues of Pax Romana and the olive tree of Athens.

Current Projects and Near Future?

Masque of Queens

In light of the fantastic experience I had at Kings and Queens 3, I come away with an even greater appreciation for the act of research and the necessity of sharing said research with others.  I was inspired by the many fantastic papers I heard and would like to work on some more projects of my own in the near future.

 

First project?  I will continue the work I presented at the conference.  I still have a few more masques of Anna’s to analyze and I have even more ideas thanks to comments and questions at the panel to inform my current work.  I’ll work on adding in ideas from Samuel Daniel’s work, “Tethys Festival or The Queen’s Wake” and then the final Anna-produced masque, “Love Freed from Ignorance and Folly.”  I’ll continue to focus on the political use of the masques as well as a literary analysis in terms of how Anna used them to self-fashion her own public image.

Masque of Queens

Masque of Queens

 

I was also particularly inspired by the work presented by Estelle Paranque, “Jezabel d’Angleterre”: Queen Elizabeth I through French eyes”  and how she used French sources to chart and analyze the reaction of the royalty and aristocracy to Elizabeth’s rise and reign.  I think it may be particularly interesting to analyze the French (or others) reaction to Anne Boleyn’s meteoric rise and catastrophic fall.  The French perspective would be, I think, the richest to focus upon because of Anne’s early ties to the French royalty.  This will also make me work on learning French, which, after this conference, I’ve learned is a necessity.  This site is one that Estelle said she used quite a bit, and I hope it’ll aid me in my research: Gallica.

Anne Boleyn Portrait

Another particularly inspirational paper, for my research, was “Scotland’s Royal Children: 1371-1528″ by Amy Hayes.  She worked on researching the lives of the children of monarchs who were not expected to inherit the throne.  This was difficult research for her as there is scant documentary evidence available.  It doesn’t seem to exist.  What I would like to do, though, is look for threads on the curriculum taught to these children and to piece together the educational programme established for the royal broods.  England will be far easier than either Scotland or Ireland, and I’d also like to add in the Danish royal family.  There are not that many (read: basically none) sources in English on the Danish royal family, but with the work I’ve done on Anna of Denmark, I would really like to see what I can do to piece together her early childhood and that of her siblings.  One key way to understand the reigns of monarchs is to understand what was taught to them as children.  I’d like to do that with Anna and her siblings to start off with and then move on to other  royal broods.

 

This is in addition to studying for the GRE (again… ugh) and getting applications in line for graduate programs!