Friday, July 15, 2016

The Coronation of Richard III

From Matt's History Blog:
The first matter of note was that this was a joint coronation. King Richard and his wife, Queen Anne Neville, were crowned together. This had only happened three times before. Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine had enjoyed a dual coronation on Sunday 19th December 1154, though they had perhaps not enjoyed their subsequent relationship quite as much. Edward I was crowned alongside Eleanor of Castille on 19th August 1274 and his son Edward II had his wife Isabella of France crowned beside him on 25th February 1308. The joint coronation of Richard and Anne was a first in 175 years.

The absence for so long of a couple being crowned together was in part a testament to the upheavals of the previous century or more. Edward III had taken his father’s throne at a young age. His heir had died less than a year before he was to, leaving his 10 year old grandson to reign. Richard II was to be punished for his tyranny when the unmarried Henry IV removed him. Henry died aged 46, leaving his unmarried son to be crowned King Henry V. When that warrior king died, his son was only 9 months old. Henry VI’s insipid rule brought about the Wars of the Roses and saw Edward IV seize the throne, crowned at 19 before he met Elizabeth Woodville. It was his son, aged 12, who had been due to be crowned on 22nd June. So, perhaps, this joint coronation of a settled, mature couple, Richard being 30 and Anne aged 27, promised much. They had a son to act as their heir. The omens were promising. This was something new at a time when the country did not want old problems.

On Sunday 6th July, King Richard and Queen Anne processed from White Hall to Westminster Hall, walking on a carpet of vibrant red cloth. The master of the ceremonies that had now begun to unfold was Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham. Another matter of some significance. John Howard had been granted the offices of Earl Marshall and High Steward of England, making him the man traditionally positioned to oversee the coronation. Buckingham, though, had handed Richard his crown and he was determined to be the second most significant man in attendance. It is questionable whether second was ever enough for this proud man. The coronation set a precedent of spoiled indulgence that was soon to overflow into rebellion.  (Read more.)

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