Coronation Anecdotes Part 8

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HENRY VII. was crowned "both in form and substance" on Bosworth Field.

Grafton's remark is, "Lord Stanley took the crown of king Richard, which was found amongst the spoyle in the field, and set it on the erle's head--as though he had been _elected_ king by the voyce of the people, as in auncient tymes past in divers realmes it hath been accustomed[105]." This monarch, it is well known, endeavoured to strengthen the substantial claims of conquest by those of marriage with the daughter of Edward IV., and his own hereditary rights. To the people, he seems to have promised a joint coronation with "dame Elizabeth his wief," according to a "Little Devise" of his coronation at Westminster, which has reached the present times. But in point of fact, she did not appear there. Unwilling to lose the influence, Henry was still more determined not to appear to rely on the importance, of his matrimonial t.i.tle: he did not, therefore, marry the heiress of the house of York, until after his coronation, and delayed to invest her with the diadem, until the 3d year of his reign. We have a fine description of her coronation in Mr. Ives' Select Papers relating to English Antiquities, to which we have already adverted.

No English monarch ascended the throne under happier auspices, or with more splendour, than HENRY VIII. "The ordre of the services" of this "high and honourable coronation" is given at great length by Hall: in which the disused custom of a progress through the metropolis const.i.tutes no small part of the pageantry.

Katherine of Arragon appeared on this occasion, borne on a litter by two white palfreys, "apparelled in white satyn embroudered, her heeire hanging doune to her back of a very great length, bewtefull and goodly to behold, and on her head a coronate set with many rich orient stones."

The entrance of the champion, and his challenge, are in the highest style of feudal pomp, and in strict accordance with the old mode of trial by combat. "The seconde course beyng served, in at the haule doore entered a knight, armed at al poyntes, his bases rich tissue embroudered, a great plume and a sumpteous of ostriche fethers on his helmet, sittyng on a great courser trapped in tissue, and embroudered with tharmes of England, and of Fraunce, and an herauld of armes before him. And pa.s.syng through the halle, presented hymself with humble reverence before the kynges majestie, to whom garter kyng of herauldes cried and said, with a loude voyce, Sir knight, from whence come you, and what is your pretence? This knight's name was Sir Robert Dimmocke, champion to the kyng by tenure of his enheritaunce, who answered the saied kyng of armes in effecte after this manner:--Sir, the place that I come from is not materiall, nor the cause of my repaire hether is not concernyng any matter of any place or countrey, but only this; and therewithall commanded his heraulde to make an O yes: then saied the knyght to the kyng of armes, Now shal ye here the cause of my commyng and pretence. Then he commaunded his owne herauld by proclamacion to saye: If there be any persone, of what estate or degree soever he be, that wil saie or prove that King Henry the Eight is not the rightfull enheritor and kyng of this realme, I, Sir Robert Dimmocke, here his champion, offre my glove, to fight in his querrell with any persone to the utteraunce."

The coronation of Anne Boleyn was distinguished by the appearance of "marvailous connyng pageauntes" in the city: all the Graces were seen on Cornhill; the Muses hailed her approach "in Cheap;" and the Cardinal Virtues (how are times changed!) paraded Fleet Street. At the banquet the king took his station, incog. in a little closet made out of the cloyster of St. Stephen's, on the right side of the hall.

We are informed by Burnet, that at the coronation of EDWARD VI. the office for that ceremony was revised and much shortened; there being "some things that did not agree with" the existing "laws of the land, as the promise made to the abbotts for maintaining their lands and dignities;" and "for the tedious length of the same, which should weary and be hurtsome, peradventure, to the king's majesty, being yet of tender age, fully to endure and bide out[106]."--"The most material thing in it," he adds, "is the first ceremony, whereby the king being shewed to the people at the four corners of the stage, the archbishop was to demand their consent to it; and yet in such terms as to demonstrate he was no elective prince, for he being declared the rightful and undoubted heir, both by the laws of G.o.d and man, they were desired to give their good wills and a.s.sent to the same, as by their duty and allegiance they were bound to do." Yet 'King Edward's Journal,'

preserved in the Appendix of this writer, says, "and it was asked of the people whether they would have him _to be the king_? Who answered, yea, yea." The young monarch did not, of course, understand the doctrine of his own "legitimacy" so well as his loyal courtiers.

MARY, our first queen regnant, was crowned at Westminster, Oct. 1, 1553, by Gardiner, bishop of Winchester; the archbishops of Canterbury and York being both involved in the rigorous persecution of the Protestants which had now begun. In Cheapside the chamberlain of the city presented her majesty with a purse containing a thousand marks of gold. It is somewhat remarkable, that with all the personal fondness of Mary for her husband, Philip of Spain, she should never have proposed his coronation, in any form: it would have been quite as regular and const.i.tutional, we imagine, as that of a queen consort, and much more so than many of her fruitless efforts to promote his influence and authority over her subjects.

Queen ELIZABETH, according to the usual custom, resorted to the Tower at the death of her sister. Every part of her conduct, until finally established in the most unbounded sway over the hearts of her people, is from this moment interesting. On entering the Tower she is said to have been immediately impressed with the important change that had taken place in her condition since she was imprisoned in that fortress, and in constant danger of her life. She went on her knees in grat.i.tude to Heaven, and spoke of her deliverance being as great as that of Daniel from the lions' den: an "act of pious grat.i.tude," says Hume, "which seems to have been the last circ.u.mstance in which she remembered any past hardships or injuries." Cautious and temperate as she was in the restoration of Protestantism, the prelates almost entirely refused to grant her episcopal consecration. At length, Oglethorpe, bishop of Carlisle, was prevailed upon to officiate--but he was the only bishop present.

Whether the solemn presentation of the Bible to the sovereign, at his coronation, was an improvement upon the pageant in which an English Bible was presented to this princess during her progress through the city (see p. 60), or at which of our Protestant coronations it was introduced, we know not. It clearly is a Protestant and most appropriate symbol of the royal duty, and of the best means of performing it.

In her first communication with her parliament, there is an allusion of this princess to one part of the coronation ceremony, which we must not omit to notice. The Commons, after granting a liberal subsidy, ventured to recommend the queen to marry. In reply she told them, that as the application was general, without presuming to direct her choice as to a husband, she could not take offence at it; but that any further interposition on their parts would have ill become them to make, or her to bear: that even while she was a private person, and exposed to much danger from the malice of her enemies, she had always declined that engagement, as an enc.u.mbrance; much more at present must she persevere in that sentiment, when the charge of a great kingdom was committed to her, and her life ought to be devoted to its interests: that as _England_ was her husband, wedded to her by this pledge (and here she exhibited her finger with the CORONATION RING upon it), Englishmen were her children; and while she was employed in rearing or governing such a family, she could not deem herself barren, or her life useless and unprofitable: that if she ever entertained thoughts of changing her condition, the care of her subjects' welfare would be uppermost in her thoughts; but should she live and die a virgin, she doubted not but divine Providence, seconding their counsels and her own measures, would be able to prevent all dispute with regard to the succession;--and that, for her part, she desired no higher character or fairer remembrance of her should be transmitted to posterity, than to have this inscription engraved on her tombstone, "Here lies Elizabeth, who lived and died a maiden queen!"

The accession of JAMES I. to the throne was distinguished by nothing remarkable connected with our subject, except the numerous creations of peers and other t.i.tles. He is said, during the first six weeks after his entrance into the kingdom, to have bestowed knighthood on 237 persons.

It was at this period that an advertis.e.m.e.nt was affixed to the door of St. Paul's cathedral, offering to teach a new art of memory, to enable the people to recollect the names of the additions to the n.o.bility.

There has been a recent publication of Sir Edward Walker's "Account of the Preparations for the Coronation of King CHARLES II.;" but his "minute detail" adds nothing important to the history of that splendid ceremony, unless we so account the "double felicitie" of the prince and people, "that as hee was the object of innumerable mult.i.tudes of his subjects, so by no accident from Towre-Hill to his own palace, no one suffered the least prejudice; and that the sunne shined gloriously all that day and the next until after his coronation, not one drop of raine falling in all that time, as very much had done at least ten dayes before, and as many after those two great solemnityes[107]."

Sandford, the "most dutiful author and collector" of the details of JAMES II.'s coronation, has furnished the only complete text-book of our subject. Mr. Taylor, and all subsequent writers, follow him throughout the entire ritual of the church service, and in "every thing relating to practice[108]." In an address to "the King," he speaks of "the pomp, the dignity, and the many glorious circ.u.mstances which accompany this matter and occasion," "being such as would _endanger the tempting_ of another man to swell a dedication to the bulk of a History;" and dilates upon "the boundless antiquity of the imperial descent," with the splendour, "both in war and peace," of the kingly progenitors of His Majesty--not forgetting the "_series of miracles_,"

which he a.s.serts to have been still following in that descent, and to have been specially "wrought in favour of His Majesty's life and government." "If I should presume to follow the impulse of my zeal," he adds, "I should _enlarge_ myself upon this theme; but being conscious, that it is as little my faculty as it is my province, and that long importunities from a subject to his sovereign are neither good discretion nor good manners; I will take care not to be needlessly troublesome, by being over officiously thankful," &c. This is modest enough for the introduction of a folio on the royal occupations of one day.

The book describes the preparations for the coronation, the performances, and the subsequent claims arising out of the performances of the day: but it is as stiff and stately throughout as in the dedication. Omitting no one Christian name of a dowager peeress, nor of any "individual person who went in the grand proceeding," nor even of "such who _ought_ to have gone," it furnishes not a single personal anecdote of the day, nothing that stirs our sympathies: the king is a sort of demi-G.o.d, "most high, most mighty, and most excellent," and his n.o.bles a number of well ordered automata moving round him. They speak all the day "out of a book held before" them. Nothing is heard, even at dinner, but grace and defiance from the bishop and champion.

Something human, however, appears in their appet.i.tes. In the Journal of Preparations, we find His Majesty's pleasure declared in council, that "a particular account" should be obtained "of the dinner kept in Westminster Hall, at the coronation of His Majesty King Charles II., as also that provided at the coronation of his royal father; together,"

gentle reader, "with the whole _expense_ and charge of the said dinners." And we accordingly find the feet and inches of the royal table of Charles II. duly given; the courses of meat, hot and cold, and the dishes in each course; as likewise the orders of the "_banquet_," served in plate, on each of the tables of the Hall: that term (our future commentators on Shakspeare must observe) being confined to the "confections dried and wet, with fruit of the season." In another minute of council is a recommendation that there "be provided a magnificent table for their Majesties in the nature of an ambigue; but with two courses, in regard to the ceremonies that are to be performed at the second course." On turning to our books to understand _this_ method of good living, we were somewhat startled to find the following contradictory recommendation, quoted by Johnson, from an old Art of Cookery:--

When _straitened_ in your time, and servants _few_, You'd richly then compose an ambigue, Where first and second course, and your desert, All in _one single_ table have their part.

St. George's day, in 1684-5, was happily chosen for the ceremony; and a letter of summons, which seems to const.i.tute the actual right of appearing at a coronation, was ordered to be drawn up by the Earl of Sunderland. This doc.u.ment, the form of which continues to be followed, runs thus:--


"Right trusty and well-beloved cousin, we greet you well. Whereas we have appointed the 23d day of April next for the solemnity of our royal coronation. These are, therefore, to will and command you, all excuses set apart, that you make your personal attendance on us, at the time above mentioned, furnished and appointed, as to your rank and quality appertaineth, there to do and perform such services as shall be required and belonging to you. And whereas we have also resolved, that the coronation of our Royal Consort the Queen shall be solemnized on the same day; we do further require the [Countess]

your wife to make her personal attendance on our said Royal Consort, at the time, and in the manner aforesaid: whereof you and she are not to fail. And so we bid you heartily farewell. Given at our Court at Whitehall, the 21st day of March, in the first year of our reign, 1684-5."

In the "Explanation of the Sacred and Royal Habits, and other Ornaments, wherewith the King was invested," Sandford mentions a tablet which hung to the royal chair, and on which were "written, in the Old English letter, these verses"--

Si quid habent veri vel chronica cana fidesve, Clauditur hac cathedra n.o.bilis ecce lapis, Ad caput eximus Jacob quondam patriarcha Quem posuit cernens numina mira poli: Quem tulit ex Scotis spolians quasi victor honoristhan Edwardus Primus, Mars velut armipotens, Scotorum domitor, notis validissimus Hector, Anglorum decus, et gloria militiae.

This must, therefore, have been destroyed since King James's coronation, for it is now lost. There is but one objection to ascribing the verses, with Mr. Taylor, to Edward the First's reign--would he have written "Edwardus _Primus_?"

The queen's crown of state, or that worn on her return from Westminster Hall, seems to have been the most valuable part of the regalia of that day. It is regularly set forth, in its component pearls and diamonds, as of "value 111,900_l._" (an immense sum at that period), and weighing only eighteen ounces ten pennyweights.

King James and his Queen slept at St. James's Palace on the vigil of St.

George, "for the greater convenience of performing their devotions,"

&c.; and joined the peers and other dignitaries at the Palace of Westminster, by "half an hour after ten." Here the latter were marshalled according to their respective cla.s.ses, _four_ in a rank; placing the youngest on the left, pursuant to what had been before resolved on by his majesty in council, for "the greater glory of the solemnity:" and "note," says our accurate chronicler, "that at _all_ former coronations the cla.s.ses proceeded only by two abreast." The king and queen entered Westminster Hall at half past eleven o'clock precisely; when the dean of Westminster "having, early in the morning, with the a.s.sistance of the prebendaries, consecrated the holy oil for their majesties' anointing," (in what manner we are not informed), presented the regalia to the king. Then the queen's regalia were placed before her; and the several n.o.blemen and gentlemen who were to bear the different symbols of royalty to the Abbey were summoned to receive them; the whole procession being ready to move forward exactly at _noon_.

Now came the stately pomp of England's royalty and n.o.bility "through the New Palace Yard into King Street, and so through the Great Sanctuary unto the west door of the collegiate church of St. Peter," as depicted by Sandford in "nineteen sculptures following," or, as modern book-manufacturers would say, in thirty-eight well-executed folio plates, which give the exact appearance of "each degree and order of person in the same," and really form an admirable memorial of such a procession.

The twelve princ.i.p.al ceremonies a.s.signed by this writer to the Abbey are the same in substance with the modern observances. It is noticed by Mr.

Taylor that Sandford is the author who _first_ terms the presentation of the monarch to the people, and their reply, "the recognition."

The king sat down in St. Edward's chair; and the archbishop, a.s.sisted by the dean of Westminster, "reverently put the crown on the king's head"

at three of the clock precisely. The queen, having been first anointed on her head and breast, was now crowned and enthroned, and the procession returned to the Hall at "five of the clock."

The first course of the "ambigue" appears to have consisted of "ninety-nine dishes of the most excellent and choicest of all sorts of cold meats, both flesh and fish, excellently well dressed, and ordered all manner of ways;" and the whole feast of 1445 dishes, of the placing of which we have a numbered scheme (a folio plate), and catalogues corresponding. Could this _provoking_ volume present its viands to some of our other senses in equal perfection with that in which "the first course of hot meat served up to their majesties' table" meets the eye, it were more reasonable to detain the reader over this part of the work; but, at the late hour of the morning at which we write this, it is too much to dwell on the "c.o.c.ks' combs," and "petty-toes" and "turkeys-a-la-royale," and "partridges by the dozen," with which it abounds.

The appearance of the champion and the challenge were exactly according to modern usage.

Sandford concludes with an abstract of the record of the Court of Claims, giving both those which were admitted and those which were rejected. The following is a form of judgment respecting the office of lord great chamberlain:--

"Quarum quidem pet.i.tionum consideratione matura habita, eo quod idem Comes de Lyndsey modo exist.i.t in possessione et executione officii praedicti, et quod Robertus non ita pridem Carolum Primum faelicissimae memoriae, tunc Regem Angliae, de advisamento Dominorum in Parliamento; quod quidem officium Montague nuper Comes Lyndsey pater ejus, cujus haeres ipse est executus est in coronatione Caroli Secundi nuper Regis Angliae. Ideo consideratum est per commissionarios praedictos quod clameum praedicti Comitis de Lyndsey ad officium praedictum eidem Comiti de Lyndsey allocetur, exercendum praedicto die Coronationis; et quod clameum praedicti Comitis Derbiae non allocetur; sed quoad feoda et vadia per dictum Comitem de Lyndsey clamata, clameum ejus quoad poculum de a.s.say non allocatur, eo quod non constabat praedictis commissionariis Magnum Angliae Camerarium dictum poculum aliqua precedenti coronatione habuisse. Sed quod alia clamea praedicta eidem Comiti de Lyndsey allocantur.

"Et postea et ante coronationem praedietam dicta quadraginta Virgatae Velveti eidem Comiti deliberatae fuere: et pro reliquis feodis praedictis compositio facta est c.u.m praedicto Comiti, pro ducentis libris sterlingorum, et praedictus Comes de Lyndsey officium Magni Camerarii Angliae in die Coronationis adimplevit."

And thus the reader has a summary of the contents of this important work.

James II. boasts, in his Memoirs, of having saved the country 60,000_l._ by the omission (for the first time) of the royal procession through the city, at his coronation.

The coronation of WILLIAM and MARY presented the singular feature of a joint sovereignty over these realms, conferred by public consent. The only alteration this made in the ceremonial was, that another symbol of sovereign power, the orb, was required, and presented in due form to the queen as well as to the king. The new-modelling of the coronation oath, at this period, we have before noticed[109].

It is certainly remarkable that neither of our married queens regnant, MARY or ANNE, should have obtained the coronation of their husbands: in neither case was conjugal influence wanted; but the superior force of the people's jealousy of foreign sway was, perhaps, wisely deferred to: in neither reign were other subjects of strife wanted between the crown and the people.

The princes of the ill.u.s.trious House now seated on the throne have affected no novelties in their coronation ceremonies--except, perhaps, that they have endeavoured to simplify and abridge them. GEORGE I.

ascended the throne at the age of fifty-five, and was crowned at Westminster, on the 20th of October, 1714. His consort, the Princess Sophia Dorothy of Zell, having fallen under his displeasure for alleged infidelity to her marriage vows, and having been, it is said, divorced from him by the Hanoverian law, was never brought into this country; and never, therefore, acknowledged Queen of England. GEORGE II. was crowned with his consort, at Westminster, on the 11th day of October, 1727.

Our late beloved monarch had the happiness of exhibiting to his people the splendid spectacles of his marriage and coronation within the same month of September, 1761. On the 8th of July, in that year, the king first announced to the privy council his intention of demanding in marriage the Princess Charlotte of Mecklenberg, sister of the reigning Duke Adolphus IV., and on the same day signed a proclamation for the a.s.sembling of the Court of Claims, and for his own coronation. The queen, being detained by contrary winds, did not arrive in this country until the 6th of September; on the 8th the nuptial ceremony was performed; on the 11th a second proclamation directed that her majesty should be united with her royal consort in the pending coronation ceremonies. These so far varied from that august ceremonial which has recently occupied the public attention, as the presence of a queen consort in the procession to the Abbey, and at the royal feast; her personal attendants; and the body of the peeresses, may be thought to give additional interest and splendour to the scene. The queen entered Westminster Hall the same hour as his majesty, and occupied a chair of state at his left hand, while the regalia were presented by the Dean of Westminster and his attendants. In the procession to the Abbey her majesty's vice-chamberlain took his place immediately following the gentlemen who personated the Dukes of Aquitaine and Normandy, and was succeeded by the other part of the queen's state in the following order:--

The Queen's Vice-Chamberlain, (Lord Viscount Cantalupe,)

Two Gentlemen Ushers.

The Ivory Rod with The Queen's Lord The Sceptre with the the Dove, borne by the Chamberlain, (Duke Cross, borne by the Earl of Northampton, of Manchester,) Duke of Rutland, in his robes of estate. in his robes, with his in his robes of estate.

coronet and staff in his hands.

Two Serjeants at { The Queen's Crown, borne by } Two Serjeants at Arms, { the Duke of Bolton, } Arms, with their gilt collars { in his robes of estate. } with their gilt collars and maces. { } and maces.

G G e A Baron of +--------------+---------------+--------------+A Baron of e n the Cinque-Ports, Dr. Dr. the Cinque-Ports, n t supporting the Thomas THE John supporting the t l Canopy. Hayter, QUEEN, Thomas, Canopy. l e Lord Lord e m Bishop of in her Royal Bishop of m e Norwich, Robes of Lincoln, e n in his Rochet, Crimson Velvet; in his Rochet, n supporter on her supporter P A Baron, do. to the Queen. head a circlet to the Queen. A Baron, do. P e +--------------+ +--------------+ e n A Baron, do. of Gold, adorned with A Baron, do. n s s i Jewels; going under i o o n A Baron, do. a Canopy of A Baron, do. n e e r Cloth of Gold: her Train r s s , A Baron, do. borne by Her Royal A Baron, do. , c Highness the c a a r A Baron, do. Princess Augusta, A Baron, do. r r r y in her Robes of y i i n A Baron, do. Estate, a.s.sisted by A Baron, do. n g g Six Earls' daughters. t t h A Baron of Lady Jane Steuart. Ldy. Mary Douglas A Baron of h e the Cinque-Ports, Lady Elizabeth Lady Heneage the Cinque-Ports e i supporting the Montague. Finch. supporting the i r Canopy. Lady Mary Grey. L. Selina Hastings. Canopy. r +---------------------+-----------------------+ g g i THE PRINCESS AUGUSTA, i l l t her coronet borne by the Marquess of Carnarvon. t A d.u.c.h.ess of Ancaster, Mistress of the Robes. A x x e Two Women of Her Majesty's Bed-Chamber. e s s . .

The peeresses preceded their respective lords--each rank of the peerage being cla.s.sed together; that is, the baronesses preceding the barons, the viscountesses the viscounts, and so forth. In the Abbey the queen first ascended the theatre, and stood opposite her chair until the king was seated. His majesty was then anointed and crowned: when the order for the queen's coronation prescribed as follows:--

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Coronation Anecdotes Part 8 summary

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