Thursday, March 21, 2019

Henry VIII and the Westminster Tournament

From Medievalists:
Henry celebrated the birth of his much-desired son with Katherine by hosting a grand tournament in Westminster. This might seem like the ultimate romantic gesture, but, in fact, the star of this show was Henry and no one else. Henry was the second son of the previous king, Henry VII, and was never meant to be king (that honour should have gone to his brother, Arthur). When Arthur died, the young Henry was dragged from his life of courtly leisure and into a role he hadn’t been prepared for. Henry brought with him his love of jousting – and all the extravagance, spectacle, and intense competition that came along with it. Unlike the popular modern image of the elderly, corpulent Henry, as a young man the king was slim and fit and bursting with energy.

The tournament was held over two days: 12-13 February. The cost for those two days came to over £4,000 – a hefty sum. The announcement for the event came in the form of an elaborate allegorical letter, which was said to be sent out by the queen of the land of Cuere Noble, who was sending her four champions to joust against any who wished to challenge them. These champions were to include, of course, Henry, jousting under the moniker Noble Cuere Loyall, and three other prominent knights of his court, each of whom also competed under assumed names – a romantic tradition common to the form of tournament known as a pas d’armes held in the prosperous court of Burgundy. (Read more.)

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