Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Coronation of Mary I

There is a new blog dedicated to researching the life of Mary Tudor. Here is a post on the coronation of the first Queen Regnant of England. (Thank you, Matterhorn!) To quote:
Whilst Matilda, daughter of Henry I, had fought unsuccessfully for the throne in the twelfth-century and Jane Grey was proclaimed queen in July 1553, neither was officially anointed as sovereign. Thus Mary was the first women in English history who was crowned queen in her own right.

This naturally raised problems. Everyone had been used to a male fulfilling this role – and the existence of a queen regnant raised a number of questions regarding the extent of her power, how much power her prospective husband should have, etc. And the coronation itself was bound to be different.

Judith Richards in her excellent article, Mary Tudor as ‘Sole Quene’?: Gendering Tudor Monarchy (1997), notes that reports regarding the coronation procession that occurred on the 30th September 1553, were mixed. The eyewitness accounts don’t add up – one contemporary noted that she wore ‘a gown of blew velvet, furred with powdered armyen’ whilst another stated that she wore a white gown and had her hair worn lose to emphasise her virginity. Others recorded that her hair was up and adorned with jewels. These disagreements may seem trivial. But Richards raises an interesting point when she notes that such differences tell us a lot about the uncertainties felt by contemporaries watching the coronation procession. They were witnessing something unseen in England – the coronation of a female ruler and it seems that no one could agree on what manner Mary should present herself. Namely, whether she should have dressed in the same colours and in the same style as a king would at his coronation procession (that is to wear blue or purple velvet), or to follow the style of the queen consort (to wear white and wear her hair loose).

So evidently the day was a puzzling as well as an exciting event. It seems that Mary did wear her hair loose – and she proceeded to have herself depicted as such in the first plea roll portrait of her (dated Michaelmas, 1533)....


Stephanie A. Mann said...

As you can imagine, I'm adding this to my favorites! Thanks for the link.

elena maria vidal said...

You are welcome, Stephanie! Enjoy!

May said...

Isn't that a fascinating blog? I'm glad you enjoy it too.

Sir Red Velvet said...

Very interesting article. First time I have posted here. I enjoy your blog very much.

"Thus Mary was the first women in English history who was crowned queen in her own right."

I always found it amusing that Mary came to the throne anyways after all that "drama" the Henry put England through. I like to play those what if games, as what if Henry had staid true to Catherine and the Church? What if Mary had come straight to the throne? Would she still have married Philip II? Would she still have had issue with producing an heir? If so who would of been next in line? Would the Stuarts have come to throne sooner? I would also have been curious to how that would of affected the course the Reformation took.

elena maria vidal said...

Welcome, Benjamin and thank you for commenting. I have often had the same speculations. Queen Catherine was raising Mary to be a reigning monarch like her mother Isabel of Castile. I often wonder what Mary would have been like if she had not been so crushed by her parents' divorce. Perhaps her health would have even been better.