Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Royal Portrait Exhibition at Buckingham Palace


From The Court Jeweller:

In May, Buckingham Palace will open the doors of The King’s Gallery to visitors for their annual summer exhibition. This year’s Royal Collection display, Royal Portraits: A Century of Photography, includes some truly iconic royal images. Curator Alessandro Nasini explains, “This is the first exhibition from the Royal Collection entirely dedicated to modern portrait photography, an artistic medium that has helped to shape how the world views the British monarchy. We are excited for visitors to discover the beauty and materiality of these original prints, many on display for the first time, and we hope they will also enjoy a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the creative process behind some of these iconic royal images.”

The exhibition features work from some of the great royal portrait photographers of the 20th century, including Cecil Beaton, Dorothy Wilding, and (former royal spouse) Lord Snowdon. Delightfully, the vintage prints are also accompanied by some fascinating ephemera–unreleased proof sheets, handwritten annotations, and even correspondence with members of the royal family. You’ll recognize some of Beaton’s work from his famous 1939 sitting with Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother , shown on the proofs above. (Read more.)

The Underground Government: Volunteer Committees and Commissions In Small Towns

 From Jan Greenhawk at The Easton Gazette:

If you know anything about living in a small town, you know about volunteers, committees and commissions. Most small towns don't have the population or the money to run all town operations with paid employees, so volunteers often fill the gap. These people are mostly wonderful people who want to give back to the community. Many are retirees or stay at home spouses. Sadly, sometimes they work to get favors from town government.

Having been what someone once called a "professional volunteer" throughout my life, I know how important volunteers are. I was a volunteer coach, a volunteer state, regional and national chairman for a sports organization, and a volunteer for other projects. If you think about it, most of what happens in our country would not happen without volunteers.

So, when I started to look into volunteers in some of our local communities, I looked beyond charitable organizations and instead looked at what I call "government volunteers." In other words, these are people who help in quasi-official government committees and commissions. Many are sworn in to office by local officials. (Read more.)


Women in the Days of the Cathedrals

While researching my novel set in medieval France, I was recommended  Women in the Days of the Cathedral Share

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Saint George and King Charles I

But the knight, turning him about, bade her remain where she was, and went out to meet the dragon.
When it observed him approach, the beast was struck with amazement, and, having paused for but a moment, it ran toward the knight with a great swiftness, and beating its dark wings upon the ground as it ran.
When it drew near to him, it puffed out from its nostrils a smoke so dense that the knight was enveloped in it as in a cloud; and darted hot flames from its eyes. Rearing its horrid body, it beat against the knight, dealing him fearful blows; but he, bending, thrust his spear against it, and caught the blows upon his shield. 
~ Legend of St. George and the Dragon

St. George's Day is on April 23. St. George is the patron saint of England as well as the patron of the Royal Order of the Garter, the order of chivalry cherished by King Charles I. The legend of St. George and the dragon was one of the most popular stories in the Middle Ages. St. George is generally believed to have lived in Asia Minor and to have suffered under the Emperor Diocletian. Ascalon, the sword of St. George, was celebrated by knights who took the martyred warrior as the patron of chivalry. While his name became the battle-cry of Merry Old England, St. George  was universally venerated in both the East and the West; in the Roman Church he was one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

While we know there was indeed a martyr named George, how true is the account of his battle with the dragon? According to New Advent:
This episode of the dragon is in fact a very late development, which cannot be traced further back than the twelfth or thirteenth century. It is found in the Golden Legend (Historia Lombardic of James de Voragine and to this circumstance it probably owes its wide diffusion. It may have been derived from an allegorization of the tyrant Diocletian or Dadianus, who is sometimes called a dragon (ho bythios drakon) in the older text, but despite the researches of Vetter (Reinbot von Durne, pp.lxxv-cix) the origin of the dragon story remains very obscure. In any case the late occurrence of this development refutes the attempts made to derive it from pagan sources....

The best known form of the legend of St. George and the Dragon is that made popular by the "Legenda Aurea", and translated into English by Caxton. According to this, a terrible dragon had ravaged all the country round a city of Libya, called Selena, making its lair in a marshy swamp. Its breath caused pestilence whenever it approached the town, so the people gave the monster two sheep every day to satisfy its hunger, but, when the sheep failed, a human victim was necessary and lots were drawn to determine the victim.

On one occasion the lot fell to the king's little daughter. The king offered all his wealth to purchase a substitute, but the people had pledged themselves that no substitutes should be allowed, and so the maiden, dressed as a bride, was led to the marsh. There St. George chanced to ride by, and asked the maiden what she did, but she bade him leave her lest he also might perish. The good knight stayed, however, and, when the dragon appeared, St. George, making the sign of the cross, bravely attacked it and transfixed it with his lance. Then asking the maiden for her girdle (an incident in the story which may possibly have something to do with St. George's selection as patron of the Order of the Garter), he bound it round the neck of the monster, and thereupon the princess was able to lead it like a lamb.

They then returned to the city, where St. George bade the people have no fear but only be baptized, after which he cut off the dragon's head and the townsfolk were all converted. The king would have given George half his kingdom, but the saint replied that he must ride on, bidding the king meanwhile take good care of God's churches, honour the clergy, and have pity on the poor. The earliest reference to any such episode in art is probably to be found in an old Roman tombstone at Conisborough in Yorkshire, considered to belong to the first half of the twelfth century. Here the princess is depicted as already in the dragon's clutches, while an abbot stands by and blesses the rescuer.
The key to the legend of St. George is that it epitomizes the spiritual combat in which all Christians are engaged, on one level or another. As Fr. Blake explains:
I love saints like St George, whose true story is lost in myth. In both stories George becomes a Christian "everyman". The first legend reminds us that despite every attempt to overcome him by God's grace George endures and survives all, and even in death is victorious.
The second story draws on apocalyptic imagery, the dragon is the symbol of evil, the power of sin, but here it is to be contrasted with the pure virgin. I am reminded of St Athanasius' struggle for twenty years in the tomb against demons. In all of us there is the pure virgin and the dragon. George, here takes on the attributes of St Michael (Michael means "Who is like God"), in his struggle he overcomes evil which then becomes subject to purity.
King Charles I was greatly devoted to the chivalric mission of the English Order of the Garter, founded by Edward III on Saint George's Day, 1348. Charles I had the Garter Star embroidered on the cloaks of all the knights, as a "testimony to the World." From The Victoria and Albert:
This form of the Order of the Garter (the highest order of English knighthood) as a star was introduced by Charles I (ruled 1625-1649) in 1627. It was to be worn by Knights of the Garter 'upon the left part of their cloaks, coats and riding cassocks, at all times when they shall not wear their robes, and in all places and assemblies...a testimony to the World, of the honour they hold...the Order Instituted and Ordained for persons of the highest honour and greatest worth'. (Read more.)
A pendant of Saint George slaying the dragon was also worn. From Sotheby's:

By the end of the fifteenth century a collar had been added to the regalia, possibly as a result of the influence of foreign Orders where a collar was worn to form a badge. The collar design has changed very little since its introduction being composed of a series of gold heraldic knots and roses encircled by the Garter, with a hanging pendant of St George slaying a dragon, known as the Great George.  As for other British chivalric orders, the collar is worn on ceremonial occasions and designated Collar Days throughout the year.

Over time the collar came to be regarded as an encumbrance during ordinary activities and by the early sixteenth century the first reference can be found to the Lesser George [Lots 24; 28], an image of St George encircled with the Garter worn as a separate badge. Lesser Georges were originally hung from a blue ribbon around the neck so as to be worn upon the breast. But by the late seventeenth century it had become practice to sling the Lesser George under the right arm, a contemporary chronicler explaining that this was for ‘conveniency of riding and action’. (Read more.)

From the Royal Collection Trust:

A length of blue silk attached to a book in the Royal Collection may in fact be the Garter ribbon worn by Charles I as he sat for Sir Anthony van Dyck’s famous triple portrait, scientific analysis has revealed. The portrait and the ribbon will be brought together for the first time for In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion, which opens on 10 May, 2013, at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace.  The exhibition explores the changing fashions of the rich and powerful of the Tudor and Stuart era through paintings, drawings and prints, as well as rare surviving examples of clothing and accessories.

Charles I placed great importance on the Order of the Garter, the oldest and highest order of chivalry in England – even wearing a Garter badge to his execution in 1649.  Fourteen years earlier, in Van Dyck’s portrait, the monarch is shown wearing a pale blue Garter ribbon around his neck. 

The inclusion of Van Dyck’s painting in the exhibition prompted Royal Collection Trust curators to take a closer look at four lengths of blue silk ribbon attached to the binding of a copy of the Eikon Basilike (‘The Royal Portrait’), now in the Royal Library, Windsor Castle.  The book was first published just ten days after the monarch’s execution on 30 January 1649 and quickly became one of the biggest-selling books of the 17th century, fuelling the image of Charles I as a martyr. (Read more.)

Charles I never converted to Catholicism, in spite of his wife Queen Henrietta Maria's efforts and prayers. He continued to collect recusancy fines from practicing Catholics throughout his personal rule. However, he frequently showed  leniency to Catholics who had been arrested. Charles insisted that the Church of England be hierarchical and appointed bishops who were in favor of a majestic and dignified liturgy. His mentor and Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud, upset the Puritans when he said that the Church of Rome was not the "Whore of Babylon." (In spite of that, Henrietta Maria never liked him.) From The Amish Catholic on the life and death of Charles I:

A few years ago, Fr. Hunwicke produced a very good argument as to why, canonically and liturgically, a soul who died in schism could be recognized as a saint (taking the precedent of various Eastern saints like Palamas and Gregory of Narek). He has argued for a favorable reading of Charles’s Catholicizing tendencies before.

I would add my voice to Fr. Hunwicke’s. Charles was, on the whole, a boon to the Catholic Church. Charles’s marriage to a formidable Catholic princess, Henrietta Maria of France, saw the arrival at court of Roman Catholic priests, a first since the days of Mary Tudor. He allowed the ambassadors of foreign courts to hold their own chaplains, notably at St. James’s, Spanish Place. Charles even opened up diplomatic talks with the Pope for the first time in decades, receiving more than one papal legate during his personal reign. High-level talks about reunion between the two churches were carried on in secret. He wrote to the Pope, in a letter of 1623 preserved and collected for publication by Sir Charles Petrie (1935),

Be your holiness persuaded that I am, and ever shall be, of such moderation as to keep aloof, as far as possible, from every undertaking which may testify any hatred towards the Roman Catholic religion. Nay, rather I will seize all opportunities, by a gentle and generous mode of conduct, to remove all sinister suspicions entirely; so that, as we all confess one undivided Trinity and one Christ crucified, we may be banded together unanimously into one faith. (See Petrie, The Letters…of King Charles I, pg. 16).

Of course, Charles was inconstant in these measures of good will. He was harsher on Recusants when it came to fines, but significantly lowered priest-hunting efforts. I believe I will not err in saying that, among the many martyrs of the English Reformation, none came during the King’s personal reign in the 1630’s. I only count four overall, of which we can probably acquit Charles from the burden of guilt. The two Catholics executed in 1628 – St. Edmund Arrowsmith, a Jesuit, and Blessed Richard Herst, a layman – seem to have fallen victim to the prejudices of lower officials rather than to any especially anti-Catholic venom emanating from the Crown. And once trouble with the Scots and Parliament began, Charles attempted to hold the situation together by, among other things, clamping down on priests. But even those martyrs which followed in the wake of these efforts owe their deaths more to the actions of local and middling anti-Papist forces than to the intentions of a harried crown. Only two seem to have died in 1641, the last year the King had any discernible control over what was going on in London. Realistically, it would be more appropriate to blame parliament for those deaths. In his church appointments, Charles always preferred those clerics who showed a marked sympathy to the doctrine of Rome. William Laud is only one among several examples that could be cited. (Read more.)

This triple portrait by Van Dyck was for the purpose of making a sculpture of the King
Henrietta Maria holding a butterfly

I am happy to announce that I have become a staff writer for The Easton Gazette under my legal name, Mary-Eileen Russell. I am mostly writing about cultural things but some political. Please do follow The Easton Gazette on social media. We are on Facebook, Gab,Telegram, Rumble, Truth Social, Gettr, X/Twitter.



Columbia President After 9/11 Said Terrorism Is ‘A Form Of Protesting’

 From The Daily Wire:

Just two months after the September 11 terrorist attack on the United States, Columbia University’s president Minouche Shafik remarked that terrorism was a “form of protesting against a system,” according to a video unearthed by The Daily Wire.

Shafik, who was a vice president at the World Bank at the time, was asked about the economic roots of terrorism in developing countries during an event with the University of California-Berkeley’s Institute of International Studies. While she condemned “extreme views” held by terrorist groups, she said the reason they are popular is because terrorism is a “protest.”

“You’ll always have individuals who will have extreme views,” Shafik said at the November 2001 event, “but what’s really troubling in the region is that there’s actually quite a broad base of society which has some sympathy for the terrorists, not so much because they approve of their methods, but it’s a form of protesting against a system which is not delivering for them on the economic or the political front.” (Read more.)

Divine Right and the Petition of Right

 From The History Jar:

Divine right is the belief in the God given right of a monarch to rule. The idea was established in the reign of James (1603-25) who believed that the king was subject to no other earthly authority and could only be judged by God. Any attempt to depose or even to restrict the powers of the king went against God’s will. In 1598 he had published a book called The True Law of Free Monarchies. He claimed that ‘Kings are justly called gods for that they exercise a manner or resemblance of divine power on earth’. The Basilikon Doron written by the king as a set of instructions for his eldest son, Prince Henry, in 1599 identified his ideology more clearly.

The book is divided into three parts:

I) how to be a Christian king

2) practical aspects of kingship

3) the king’s behaviour in everyday life.

James’ belief in the divine right of kings had a negative impact on his relationship with the English Parliament. During the reign of his successor, Charles who inherited the throne following the deaths of his elder brother in 1612 and James in 1625 also believed in the divine right of kings. Charles I also believed that because he was God’s representative only he had the right to make laws and that to oppose him was a sin. He believed that he was above the law and had to govern according to his conscience.

By the time James died in 1625 Parliament was suspicious of the Stuart kings, by 1628 the tension turned to Parliamentary demands known as the Petition of Right. Charles lacked both experience and confidence and relied upon the advice of his favourite, the Duke of Buckingham. Buckingham advocated a raid on Cadiz which was a disaster. Parliament demanded that she should be impeached – so Charles dissolved parliament before it granted him any funds. Buckingham arranged for the king to marry a French Catholic bride (Henrietta Maria) and then went to war with the French in 1627 in support of the Huguenots of La Rochelle – the whole thing was a disaster because of poor planning. By 1628 Charles was at war, without any money and was trying to extract forced loans. He had no choice but to call Parliament. (Read more.)


Monday, April 22, 2024

The Context of Henriette-Marie


An insightful assessment of My Queen, My Love from Laura Crockett at The History Desk:

Henriette Marie married Charles I of England in 1625. She became his queen but was never crowned, formally. When she married Charles, she was 15. Our modern perspective tells us that is a mere girl. Nevertheless, previous ages were practical in these matters. Henriette died when she was 59. That too, is young in our eyes.  Nonetheless, she lived to a ripe age, because the average, back in the day, was 35 years.

Vidal structures the story as one of those perfect circles, wherein she begins with Marie de Medici, Henriette’s mother, and then closes the story with Marie. What is given to us, in between the Marie sections, is the story of her daughter, who lived during a crucial development era in the history of the Western world.

Marie’s story is fascinating all on its own. Marie was an old maid of 25 before she was married. But what a marriage! Her guy was Henry IV, perhaps one of the smartest men to hold the French crown for centuries. His grandson was Louis XIV. But after that, for the French royal houses, it was all downhill. Marie was Henri’s second wife. Louis XIII, of Musketeer fame, was their first child. Henriette their last. When Henriette was still in infancy, her father was assassinated. That was an event that truly changed the trajectory of history. Henri would be considered a rather liberal thinker, in the traditional sense of the word; live, and let live. Indeed, the French coined the phrase, laissez faire; leave it alone. Wherein we get the phrase, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Henri gave us the Edict of Nance, which ended the religious wars in France. The essence of the Edict was toleration of the protestants, i.e., leave them alone. (Read more.)


Are There Furries In Your Child's School?

 From Jan Greenhawk at The Easton Gazette:

What in the heck is a "furry? " This is a question I was asked recently by a parent who was totally confused when they saw a story about students walking out of a middle school in Utah because the Administration of their school, Mt. Nebo Middle School, allows students who claim to be animals to act and dress up like animals during school. Other students claim to be spit on, sprayed on, clawed at, barked at etc. by these "furries." The administration allegedly set up a litter box in the girls' bathroom.

So what are "furries"? I mean it sounds so cute, right? Can this be real?

Yes, it is.

"Furries" can be defined in many different ways, but the bottom line is that they are people who dress up and portray animals in their everyday lives. It's sort of like a Halloween costume but worn more, even during the day when one might be on the job or in school. The fad started in the 1980's as an off shoot of events like Comic Con where people dress up like their favorite comic book and/or science fiction characters. Rod Stansfield and his partner Mark Merlino saw hundreds, sometimes thousands, attended the Comic Con events, and decided to start one for people who wanted to take on the appearance of animals. They suddenly had a following as big as Comic Con. The furry culture grew after several popular TV series such as CSI devoted episodes to it.

Over the decades, the concept of "furries" has started creeping into society and has morphed into a haven for some adolescents and adults who are dealing with bullying or some form of disability. Others want attention and this is a way to get it. Many associate overly committed "furries" with transgenderism and point to body dysphoria as the mental state that brings on the behavior. Some associate the behavior with sexual fetishes. Many trace the practice back to anthropomorphic animals portrayed in movies, video games, and televisions.

Not all "furries" are disruptive. Some just participate in the practice during their lives outside of work or school. Like the attendees at a Comin Con, they dress up for the weekend, have a blast, and then go home to reality. (Read more.)