Coronation Anecdotes - TopLightNovels.com
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_Abp._ Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the laws of God, the true profession of the Gospel, and the Protestant reformed Religion established by law? [Here was inserted, at the Union with Scotland, in 1707, And will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, [now the united church of England and Ireland]
and the doctrine, worship, discipline and government thereof as by law established, within the kingdoms of England and Ireland, the dominion of Wales and the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed, and the territories thereunto belonging, before the union of the two kingdoms?] And will you preserve unto the bishops and clergy of England, and to the churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges as by law do or shall appertain unto them or any of them?
_King._ All this I promise to do."
We have some slight traces in the history of our Anglo-Saxon kings of the Gothic mode of royal inauguration by the elevation of their princes.
Eardnoulf, the second of those monarchs whose coronation is mentioned by our historians, was Ahoen, lifted up to his royal seat, we are told by the Saxon Chronicle; and Athelstan received the royal unction at Kingston on a high scaffolding which exhibited him to the multitude.
This custom is no further worth noticing, than as a pagan rite which was soon disused, on the direction of these ceremonies being assumed by the church: and as being probably the origin of the existing mode of chairing members of parliament.
Anciently the king knelt while receiving the sacred unction from the prelate of the day, who sat in his chair at the high altar: a deference to the priesthood which the kings of France retained to the period of the Revolution; and which the Roman Pontifical expressly requires. Since the Reformation our monarchs have also dispensed with "sprinkling the crown with holy water" and "censing it" before it is made use of in these important ceremonies--duties of the archbishop which are laid down in the Liber Regalis, of the dean and chapter of Westminster.
There seems to have been a double anointing of our kings at their respective coronations until the reign of James I. or Charles I.; that is, after the present use of the unction on the hands, breast, &c.; the _chrism_ of the Catholic church was applied, in forma crucis, on the forehead. The distinct signification of this anointing we cannot discover, even after a late learned attempt to elucidate it. The sign of the cross, a symbolical acknowledgment of the Christian faith used in the anointing, we retain: but the _two_ vessels, the eagle and vial of the ancient ceremonies (so intelligently provided by the Virgin; see our last section) establish the fact of a double anointing having at one time obtained.
But the most important ceremonies of the coronation which the superior economy, or superior intelligence, of modern times has taught us to omit, are the special creation of Knights of the Bath on this occasion, and the progress of the court from the Tower, through London.
The ancient and noble order in question was so far very appropriately connected with the assumption of a sovereignty partly feudal, as it formed one of the most splendid feudal distinctions. It was conferred with great solemnity, among the Franks and Saxons, long prior to the Conquest; at which period our first William is shown by Mr. Anstey, to have been in the habit of bestowing it both in his Norman and English dominions. The candidate for that honour was required to keep his vigils with great strictness, after a previous ablution from which the name of the order is derived, and which were together meant to indicate the moral purity required of him; as the motto "_Tria juncta in uno_"
implied a peculiar devotion to the honour of the Holy Trinity.
The coronation of Henry IV. however, first brings it prominently into notice in our history. That prince, having compelled the unfortunate Richard II.
"With his own tears to wash away his balm, With his own hands to give away the crown, With his own tongue deny his sacred state;"
was anxious to give those "sun-shine days" to the people which should induce them to forget the stormy commencement of his reign. Froissart describes him as proceeding with great pomp from Westminster to the Tower, "on the Saturday before his coronation." This was at that time "the castle royall and cheefe howse of safetye in this kingdome."
Hither, therefore, many of our princes repaired for security until "all things of royal apparell and pompe necessarye and proper" to the coronation could be arranged. "Those squires who were to be knighted watched their arms that night: they amounted to forty-six; each squire had his chamber and bath, in which he bathed. The ensuing day the duke of Lancaster (Henry IV.) after mass, created them knights, and presented them with long green coats, with straight sleeves lined with minever, after the manner of prelates. These knights had on their left shoulders a double cord of white silk, with white tufts hanging down."
Henry VI. created thirty-six knights on his coronation; Edward IV.
thirty-two; and Charles II. sixty-eight. The marriages of the royal family, the birth of heirs to the crown, and the fitting out of military expeditions of importance, furnish other accessions to the order during this long period. After the reign of Charles II. this part of the ceremonial was omitted; and the order, in fact, discontinued until the accession of the House of Brunswick.
The princes of this august house, however, have not revived the custom of an extraordinary creation of knights as a part of the coronation ceremonies.
The other ancient and disused custom of a royal progress from the Tower to Westminster is a theme of admiration with several of our old chroniclers, and must have been a highly interesting and popular accompaniment of the royal pageant.
The monarch, ordinarily, dined at the Tower on the day after the creation of the Knights of the Bath; and devoted the greater part of the day, _after_ dinner, to this prolonged exhibition of himself to the people. Charles II. dined at what is called an "early" hour, in the "account" of sir Edward Walker, i.e. nine o'clock in the morning, on this occasion.
Froissart thus gives us the progress of Henry IV. "The duke of Lancaster left the Tower this Sunday after dinner, on his return to Westminster: he was bare-headed, and had round his neck the order of the king of France. The prince of Wales, six dukes, six earls, eighteen barons, accompanied him; and there were, of knights and other nobility, from eight to nine hundred horse with the procession. The duke was dressed in a jacket of the German fashion, of cloth of gold, mounted on a white courser, with a blue garter on his left leg. He passed through the streets of London, which were all handsomely decorated with tapestries and other rich hangings: there were nine fountains in Cheapside, and other streets he passed through, which perpetually ran with white and red wines. He was escorted by prodigious numbers of gentlemen, with their servants in liveries and badges; and the different companies of London were led by their wardens, clothed in their proper livery, and with ensigns of their trade. The whole cavalcade amounted to six thousand horse, which escorted the duke from the Tower to Westminster."
Or, as Shakspeare brings every movement of a similar procession of this monarch before us,
"Mounted upon a hot and fiery steed, Which his aspiring rider seemed to know, With slow but stately pace, kept on his course: While all tongues cried, God save thee, Bolingbroke!
You would have thought the very windows spake, So many greedy looks of young and old Through casements darted their desiring eyes Upon his visage; and that all the walls With painted imagery had said at once Jesu preserve thee! welcome Bolingbroke!
Whilst he, from one side to the other turning, Bare-headed, lower than his proud steed's neck, Bespoke them thus; I thank you, countrymen; And thus still doing, thus he past along."
The coronation of Elizabeth the queen of Henry VII. includes one of the most splendid royal progresses on record. It will be recollected by our readers that this prince exhibited a strong personal reluctance to marry Elizabeth as well as to her subsequent coronation; although his union with her extinguished the bloody feuds of the houses of York and Lancaster, and bequeathed to posterity the invaluable boon of an undisputed succession to the throne. The Commons, in presenting him on his accession with the usual grant of tonnage and poundage, took the liberty to add their desire that he would "take to wife and consort the Princess Elizabeth, which marriage they hoped God would bless with a progeny of the race of kings," (_de stirpe regum_, the united race, perhaps, is meant). But it was not until a pretender to the throne had shaken the regal authority to its base, that, eighteen months after his marriage, he prepared for the coronation of his queen. A very superior modern historian thus expresses the feelings of the prince and people on this occasion:--
"From this insurrection [that which was terminated by the battle of Stoke] the king learned an important lesson, that it was not his interest to wound the feelings of those whose principles had attached them to the house of York. His behaviour to the queen had created great discontent. Why, it was asked, was she not crowned? Why was she, the rightful heir to the crown, refused the usual honours of royalty? Other kings had been eager to crown their consorts: but Elizabeth had now been married a year and a half; she had borne the king a son to succeed to the throne; and yet she was kept in obscurity, as if she were unworthy her station."
The orders which he now gave, therefore, for her public investiture with the royal dignity, were calculated fully to conciliate the popular feeling. On the Friday preceding her coronation fourteen gentlemen were created knights of the Bath, and on the same day "the queene's good grace, royally apparelled, and accompanyed with my ladie the king's mother, and many other great estates, bothe lordes and ladies, richely besene, came forward to the coronacion; and, at their coming furth from Grenewich by water, there was attending upon her there, the maior, shrifes, and aldermen of the citie, and divers and many worshipfull comoners, chosen out of every craft, in their levereyes, in barges freshly furnished with banners and stremers of silke, richely beaton with the armes and bagges of their craftes; and, in especially, a barge called the bachelor's barge, garnished and apparelled passing all other; wherein was ordeynid a great redde dragon spowting flames of fyer into the Thamess, and many other gentlemanlie pagiaunts, well and curiously devised to do her highness sporte and pleasoure with. And her grace, thus royally apparelled and accompanied, and also furnished in every behalf with trumpettes, claryons, and other mynstrelleys as apperteynid and was fitting to her estate roial, came from Grenewich aforesaid, and landed at the Toure wharfe, and enterid into the Toure; where the king's highnes welcomed her in such maner and fourme as was to all the estates and others there being present, a very good sight, and right joyous and comfortable to beholde."
Next day she went in procession from the Tower to Westminster, dressed in white cloth of gold of damask, with a mantle of the same furred with ermine. Reclining on a litter, she wore "Her faire yelow haire hanging downe plaine behynd her bak, with a calle of pipes over it;" and confined only on the forehead by a circlet of gold, ornamented with precious stones. An elegant canopy of cloth of gold was borne over her by four knights of the body; and immediately behind her rode four baronesses on grey palfreys. The streets on this occasion were "clensed, dressed, and beseene with clothes of tapestrie and arras; and some, as Cheepe, hanged with rich clothe of golde, velvet, and silke; and along the streets, from the Toure to Powles, stode in order all the craftes of London in their liveries; and in divers places of the citie were ordeynid singing children, some arayed like angelles, and other like virgins, to sing swete songes as her grace passed by."
Similar accounts are given by Hall of the progress of Henry VIII. and Catherine of Arragon through the city. "The streates were railed and barred on the one side; from over ageynst Grace churche unto Bredstreate in Chepeside, where every occupacion stode in their liveries in ordre, beginnyng with base and meane occupacions, and so ascendyng to the worshipfull craftes; highest and lastly stode the maior with the aldermen. The goldsmithes stalles, unto the ende of the Olde Chaunge, beeing replenished with virgins in white, with braunches of white waxe; the priestes and clerkes in rich copes with crosses and censers of silver, censying his grace and the quene also as they passed." The latter was borne on a litter by two white palfreys, trapped in cloth of gold.
Anne Boleyn's progress must not be unnoticed. Like Elizabeth's, it began with a voyage from Greenwich, and the creation of a due number of knights "bathed and shryven according to the old vsuage of England."--"The high stretes where the queene should passe were all graveled from the Toure to Temple barre, and railed on the one side; within whiche rayle stode the craftes along in their order. And before the quene and her traine should come, Cornehill and Gracious Street were hanged with fyne scarlet, crimson and other greyned clothes, and in some place with rich arras, tapestry, and carpettes, and the moste part of the Chepe was hanged with clothe of tyssue, golde, velvet, and many riche hangings whyche made a goodlie shewe."
Her connexion with the French court, it is to be supposed, suggested the appearance of "xii Frenchmen, whiche were belongyng to the Frenche ambassador," coming "fyrst" in her "company--in coats of blewe velvet, with sleves of yelowe and blewe velvet, and their horses trapped with close trappers of blewe sarcenet, powdered with white crosses." The French ambassador also rode before her.
At Gracious Church street was a costly and a marveilous connyng pageaunt, made by the merchauntes of the Styllarde, for there was the Mount Penasus, with the fountayne of Helycon, which was of white marble, and iiii streames, without pype, did rise an elle hye and mette together in a litle cuppe above the fountain, which ranne abundantly Racke and Rennishe wyne 'til night! On the mountaine satte Apollo, and at his feete satte Calliope, and on every side of the mountaine satte iiii Muses playing on several swete instrumentes, and at their feete Epigrammes and Poyses were written in golden letters, with the which every Muse, accordyng to her propertie, praised the Quene.--"At the conduite in Cornhill there were thre graces set in a throne; afore whom was the _spryng of grace_ continually ronnyng--wine!" At the cross in Chepe, "Master Baker, the recorder, with lowe reverence, makyng a proper and briefe proposicion--gave to her, in the name of the citie, 1000 marks of golde in a purse of golde." This was the last time (we mean no reflection on its inhabitants,) that the Muses and Graces exhibited themselves on such an occasion in the city. Hereafter the zeal of contending religious parties in the state taught them to choose other emblems of their desires and anticipations.
Edward VI.'s progress exhibited Valentine and Orson, "in Cheap," at due distance from whom stood Sapience and the Seven Liberal Sciences, who "declared certaine goodly speeches," for the instruction of the young king. Various other allegorical personages harangued him by the way; but the most singular spectacle was that whereby "Paul's steple laie at anchor," as Holinshed expresses it. An Arragosen made fast a rope to the battlements of St. Paul's, which was also attached to an anchor at the gate of the dean's house; and descended upon it in the sight of the king and assembled populace, to the no small gratification of both.
His sister Mary was welcomed into the city by "one Peter, a Dutchman,"
who placed himself on the weathercock of St. Paul's, holding "a streamer in his hand five yards long;" occasionally kneeling down on the said weathercock, "to the great marvell of the people," and balancing himself sometimes on one foot and sometimes on another.
In her procession appeared "the ladie Elizabeth and the ladie Anne of Cleve;" the queen rode in a chariot of cloth of tissue, her sister following in "another chariot having a covering of cloth of silver."--"She sat in a gowne of purple velvet, furred with powdered ermins, having on her head a kall of cloth of tinsell, beeset with pearle and stone, and above the same, vppon her head, a round circlet of gold, beeset so richlie with pretius stones, that the value thereof was inestimable; the same kall and circle being so massie and ponderous, that she was faine to beare vp her head with her hand."
Holinshed is very garrulous on the progress of the Virgin Queen, although he singularly enough omits all details of the principal parts of her coronation.
"On Thursdaie the twelfe of Januari (1559), the queene's maiestie remooved from her palace at Westminster, by water, vnto the tower of London, the lord mayor and aldermen in their barge, and all the citizens with their barges decked and trimmed with targets and banners of their mysteries accordinglie, attending on her grace. The bachellers barge of the lord maior's companie, to wit, the mercers', had their barge with a foist trimmed with three tops, and artillerie aboord, gallantlie appointed to wait vpon them, shooting off lustilie as they went, with great and pleasant melodie of instruments, which plaied in most swete and heavenlie maner. Her grace shut (shot) the bridge about two of the clocke in the after noone, at the still of the ebbe, the lord maior and the rest following after her barge, attending the same, till her maiestie tooke lande at the privie staires at the tower wharfe."
"At her entring the citie" a variety of pageants were prepared to express the "praiers, wishes, and welcommings" of her loving people, which we cannot attempt to particularize. "If a man should saie well,"
remarks our chronicler, "he could not better terme the citie of London that time than a stage wherein was shewed the woonderfull spectacle of a noble hearted princesse toward her most loving people, and the people's exceeding comfort in beholding so woorthie a soveraigne, and hearing so princelike a voice."
The Muses had, indeed, quitted "the citie"--and miserable enough are the ditties which Holinshed gives us from the mouth of the various children "who expounded the pageants:" some appropriate devices were, however, mixed up with much child's-play. The union of the red and white roses on the marriage of Henry VII. (the queen's grandfather) with Elizabeth of York, was commemorated by personages representing the king and queen, sitting with hands joined together by the ring of matrimony; "and all emptie places of this pageant were furnished with sentences concerning vnitie."--"This pageant was grounded upon the queen's name," adds our historian, "For like as the long warre betweene the two houses of Yorke and Lancaster then ended, when Elizabeth, daughter to Edward the Fourth, matched in marriage with Henrie the Seventh, heire to the house of Lancaster: so--the queene maiestie's name was Elizabeth, and for so much as she is the onlie heir of Henrie the Eighth, which came of both houses, [she was] the knitting vp of concord." The eight beatitudes expressed in the fifth chapter of the gospell of Saint Matthew "applied to our soveraigne ladie Elizabeth," were at "Soper Lane end," in Chepe: but the pageant presenting an English Bible to the queen was particularly well devised. Our readers will take the poetry as by far the best specimen of the productions of the day. Between two hills, representing a flourishing and a decayed commonwealth, "was made artificiallie one hollow place or cave, with doore and locke inclosed, out of the which, a little before the queenes' highnesse commyng thither, issued one personage, whose name was Time, apparalled as an old man, with a sieth in his hand, havinge winges artificiallie made, leading a personage of lesser stature than himselfe, which was finelie and well apparalled, all clad in white silke, and directly over her head was set her name and title in Latin and English, Temporis filia, the daughter of Time. Which two, as appointed, went forwards toward the south side of the pageants, and on her brest was written her proper name, which was Veritas, Truth, who held a book in her hand, upon the which was written Verbum Veritas, the Word of Truth. And out of the south side of the pageant was cast a standing for a child, which should interpret the same pageant. Against whom when the queen's maiestie came, he spake vnto her grace these sweet words:--
"This old man with a sieth Old father Time they call, And her his daughter Truth, Which holdeth yonder booke: Whome he out of his nooke Hath brought foorth to us all, From whence this manie yeares She durst not once out looke.
"Now sith that Time againe His daughter Truth hath brought, We trust, o worthie queene, Thou wilt this truth embrace, And sith thou vnderstandst The good estate and naught, We trust wealth thou wilt plant, And barrenesse displace.
"But for to heale the sore And cure that is not seene; Which thing the booke of truth, Dooth teach in writing plaine: Shee doth present to thee The same, o worthie queene, For that, that words doo flie, But written dooth remaine."
"Thus the queene's highnesse passed through the citie, which, without anie foreigne person, of itself beautified itselfe, and received her grace at all places, as hath been before mentioned, with most tender obedience and love, due to so gratious a queene and sovereigne a ladie."
JAMES I. made the most important "progress" for himself and family that we have yet recorded; when, as tranquilly as ever the crown of England had descended from father to son, the house of Stuart succeeded that of Tudor on the throne of Great Britain. Nor was his journey from Edinburgh to London unobserved by the people. They are said to have contrasted his hauteur and reserve at this period with the well-remembered affability and popular manner of Elizabeth on such occasions; but neither does his coronation progress, nor that of his immediate successors, Charles I. or II. (with whom this usage terminated) present any new features of interest. The great object of the conductors of the ceremony was to conform to the ancient precedents; while the personal disposition of each of the sovereigns of this house was to retain as much of the demi-god as possible in these stately movements of the monarch.
[Footnote 33: Being first given by Sandford to his description of this part of the ceremony of James II.'s coronation.]
[Footnote 34: Doleman's Conferences concerning Succession, &c.]
[Footnote 35: MS. Cott. Nero, c. ix. p. 172.]
[Footnote 36: See his curious Speech in M. Paris, Hist. Major, 1640, p.
[Footnote 37: Hoveden, Walsingham, &c. are quoted to this effect by Taylor.]
[Footnote 38: History of the Anglo-Saxons, b. iv. chap. 1.]
[Footnote 39: Titles of Honour, p. ii. c. v. 26.]