Henry Stuart ‘The Rising Sun of England’

Caterina Pagnini

Data di pubblicazione su web 29/03/2014


On 6 November 1612 HenryFrederick Stuart, heir to the throne of England, was dying just eighteen yearsold in his Palace of St. James, assisted by the Archbishop  of Canterbury and by his closest servants, after a long illness that hadafflicted him since the previous summer.[1]

Henry Frederick was born on 19 February 1594, at Stirling Castle (Scotland); eldest son of kingJames VI of Scotland and his wife Anne of Denmark, he was nine years old whenhis father succeeded Elizabeth I as king of England, Ireland and Scotland, on24March 1603.[2]The Stuarts, the royal couple and three sons (Henry, Elizabeth and Charles),were warmly welcomed in England, a kingdom without a royal family for more thanfifty years and which has never seen a heir to the throne after Edward VITudor. Thus it didn't take too long that the mythology of the new Royal Houseof Stuart spread among the citizens, a cult which immediately focused onHenry's figure, idealized as the warrior prince, founder of a new generation ofideals, ambitions and military policy.

Henry's first official appearance was his involvement as a dancer in Ben Jonson's Masqueof Hymen, in 1606[3];soon after, in the summer of the same year, he brilliantly attracted attentionon himself during the tournament in honour of his uncle Christian IV of Denmark[4].On January 1610, during the solemnities of Twelfth Night, he made his definitive appearance with amagnificent chivalric spectacle, Prince Henry's Barrier,[5]written by Ben Jonson after the prince's own project. It was only in June thathe could make his official debut, with the ceremonies for his Creation ofPrince of Wales. Prince Henry's Barriers was just the preliminary event for Henry's investiture festivities,which started the last day of May 1610 with the solemn entry of the prince inLondon on the river Thames, from Richmond to Whitehall Palace. Few days beforeHenry had been greatly celebrated in the city of Chester, during St. George'sFeast (April 23rd), for the occasion of his investiture of Earl of Chester, previousto the designation of Prince of Wales.

In the middle of May, the noble John Chamberlain refers of the programme for these solemn occasionsof the Creation: «The solemnitie of creating the Prince of Wales is appointedthe 4th of the next moneth, when there shalbe 24 new Knights of the Bath made[…]. The Quene is preparing and practising a new maske against that time».[6]The schedule of the ceremonies was the following:

May 30th: Henry'sjourney from St. James' Palace to Richmond

May 31st, Thursday:Henry solemn entry in London

June 3rd, Sunday:creation of twenty-five Knights of the Bath

June 4th, Monday:the Creation of Prince of Wales in the Parliament House, then the state banquetin the evening

June 5th, Tuesday:performance of the masque Tethys Festival at Whitehall

June 6th,Wednesday: Creation-Tilt, See-fight and Fireworks

The magnificentcycle was greatly attended by all the kingdom and its political importance wasclearly evident to every court and royal dynasty all around Europe. Above them,the Medici of Florence were carefully considering the young heir, with theblessing of James I and queen Anna, for a marriage with princess Caterina, theGrand Duke's sister.[7]

From James' accessionto the throne of England a wide correspondence between Florence and Londonstarted, thanks to the Medici secretaries who were sent in England to serve thenegotiations; the most industrious of them was certainly Ottaviano Lotti; inone of many his letters to the Florentine secretary he describes hisconversation with the treasures Robert Cecil, earl of Salisbury, about thenegotiations for the marriage:

Il granduca ha molte sorelle e bisogna che voi cidiate la più bella perché ella ha da esser regina et avrà per sposo non un belgiovane, non un gran principe solamente ma un angelo di paradiso; basta, voi loconoscete meglio di me. Et il segretario disse che era tutto vero et dissequalche cosa anche delle doti della principessa di Toscana, alle quali il conteacconsentì, rispondendo di esserne molto bene informato […]. Parlò il contecome di bocca del re et che poi come di sua propria soggiunse, Per contento delprincipe vorremmo modo di poter veder il ritratto della seconda principessa diToscana.[8]

In such a delicateoccasion, the Henry's Creation and his official entrance into the policy of hiskingdom was particularly expected by the Medici court; the Florentine residentis perfectly aware of the importance of his diplomatic role and he sends to hispatrons an accurate account of the upcoming ceremonies:

Si preparano tuttavia i cavalieri e le dame per onorarele feste diverse per la creazione del Serenissimo Henrico del Principato diWallia, che doverà seguire la prossima Pentecoste a questo stile; e la Mestà dellaRegina farà un bellissimo Balletto nel quale hora è la Maestà Sua tuttaoccupata.[9]

Domani che ègiovedì fa il Serenissimo Principe la sua entrata in Londra, ma per acqua, e siparte da Ricciamonti; venerdì e sabato si avranno 24 Cavalieri del Bagno,domenica si fa una giostra, lunedì è la creazione di Sua Altezza.  Martedì la Regina fa un bellissimo Balletto,e molti altri giorni starà la corte con grandi feste.[10]

Henry, who was an admirable riderand excelled in every kind of sport activities, had requested his father to beallowed to entry in London by horse, with a long overland procession throughoutthe city, but the king could not complied with this ambitious project,  too expensive for the real cash; moreover, he couldnot get  from the Parliament any financialhelp for these ceremonies: «Sua Maestà […] negò che Sua Altezza la cavalcassepubblicamente ma che un corto viaggio che le conviene fare lo facesse per acquacontro il desiderio di Sua Altezza».[11]

Henry's journey toward London beganacross the river Thames at the first lights of the day; set sail from Richmond,the royal fleet first stopped at Chelsea, where the Major of London and theCity Council were waiting, all placed on wide richly decorated barges towelcome the prince and his retinue with a loud sumptuous music. The authoritiesof the city honoured to the prince with a magnificent water-entertainmentwritten by Anthony Munday, the official poet of the Major's Pageants:the show consisted in two Sea-monsters, one in fashion of a whale, the otherlike a dolphin: the first one carried Corinea, a beautiful nymph representingthe spirit of the ancient Queen of Cornwall, the other carried Amphion, thespirit of Harmony and Music. Riding the whale, Corinea welcomed the Prince asDuke of Cornwall on behalf of the whole city of London, gathered to honour him:

Gracious Prince, and great Duke ofCornwall, I, the good Angell or Genius of Corinea […] in honor of this generalrejoycing day and to expresse the endeared affections of London's Lord Major …and all these worthie Cittizens, Merchants […] in or very best and richestcommodities, doe thus usher them the way, to applaude in this Triumphe, and tolet you know their willing readiness by all meanes possible to love and honouryou.[12]

The main character, Corinea, wasplayed by John Rice, a boy actor of the King's Men company.[13] After Corinea's speech, Henrywent further by water toward Whitehall Palace, followed by the two marinemonsters and the barges with the main personalities of the city. As soon asthey arrived in front of the Court Bridge, the barges divided into two parallelfronts to create a sufficient space for the passage of the royal boat; beingHenry ready to land, Amphion (the genius of Wales and the father of Harmony andMusic), played by Richard Burbage, raised up from his dolphin and welcomed theprince with his speech:

Royall Prince of Wales, in thisfigure of musicall Amphion upon this dolphin, we personate the caracter ofWales your Principalitie […]. We are all now forced to an unwilling departure […].Home again then, fayre Fleet, you have brought a Royall freight to landing […];and since we must needs parte, in our lowdest voice of drommes, trumpets andordenaunce, be this our last accent: Long live our Prince of Wales, the RoyallHenrie.[14]

The journey on the Thames ended,  Henry was stately received  at Whitehall-stairs, while several gunshotswere fired off from Lambeth shore on the opposite side of the Royal Palace;then the Lord Chamberlain accompanied the prince  into the Privy Chamber, where the whole royalfamily was waiting for him to receive the official welcome of the king: «Honourmust not, unaccompanied, invest him only, but signs of nobleness, like stars,shall shine on all deserves».[15]

On  June 3rd, the day of  Henry's investiture, James decided to create twenty-fivenew Knights of the Bath;[16] this ceremony was not wellreceived by  Henry, who had alwaysdisapproved his father's policy of the selling of royal or military offices andhe didn't want to be connected with it  justin the day of his creation as Prince of Wales:

Sua Maestà[…] vista una lista di molti gentilhuomini da crearsi in quella medesimasolennità Cavalieri di Bagno, parendoli che fusse a sua modo, perché forse gliera in apparenza che alcuni procurassero honore per forza di Denari, lastracciò et comandò che vi fussero porti tutti i Figlioli o Fratelli de Baroni.[17]

The next day thelords and the peers of the realm were all assembled in the Parliament House,waiting for Henry to be created Prince of Wales. The king and the prince boardedin the morning from the Privy Stairs of Whitehall to reach Westminster Bridgeand then pass in the Parliament House, where the official ceremony of theCreation took place.[18]

A solemn processionpreceded Henry's entry: first the heralds and officers of Arms, then the newlyformed Knights of the Bath in their robes, followed by the Garter King of Armsand several of the most important nobles of the court. At last the princearrived, in his long purple velvet coat, coming forward to meet the king, saton his throne, and the whole State of Realm; he made his obedience three times,then kneed down on a pillar to listen to the words of the investiture, read bythe Earl of Salisbury. In the meanwhile, the king put the robes upon him and,drawing out the sword, invested him with the rod and the ring, setting the capand coronet on his head. Being the investiture completed, Henry could sit inhis place of Parliament, as Prince of Wales, to his father's left, receiving hisceremonial kiss on the hand and the head.

In the eveningHenry had his state banquet in the Hall of the royal palace in London, withseveral lords and nobles of his circle and with the Knights of the Bath, whilethe king had previously retired in his private rooms to reserve his son theglory of his new title and the whole homage of the nobles.  

The next evening atcourt there was the allegorical fulfilment of the investiture, therepresentation of Tethys' Festival or The Queen's Wake[19], a sumptuousmasque  created and organized forhis son by queen Anna, who decided to entrust the composition of the librettoto Samuel Daniel instead of the ‘usual' Ben Jonson. Daniel had been the authorof the first Queen's masque of the Jacobean era, The Vision of the TwelveGoddesses (1604), represented on 8 January at HamptonCourt and which had represented a model of this kind of royal entertainmentsfor a long time;[20] it broughtsuch honour to his author that he was appointed “Special Licenser of theQueen's Revels”  and groom of the Queen'sPrivy Chamber.

Tethys Festival was one of themost expansive spectacle ever organized at the Jacobean court, with richcostumes and three scenes designed and created by Inigo Jones; the characterswere acted by gentlemen and ladies of the court («There were none of inferiorsort, mixed amongst these great personages of state and honour […] but all wasperformed by themselves with a due reservation of their dignity»)[21] and while speakingroles, such as the two Tritons who spoke on behalf of the main characters, weresupposed to be the actors of the contemporary public theatres, as Danielsclaims: «And for those two which did personated the tritons, they weregentlemen known of good worth and respect»[22]. Queen Anne hadcommissioned the masque since the previous February not only to honour her sonbut also to accentuate her own relationship to him, now that he was going to createhis private court. According to Daniel's script, she played the role of Tethys,Queen of the Ocean and wife of Neptune, while prince Charles played the role ofthe west wind Zephyrus and princess Elizabeth, for the first time on stage,performed the river Thames, accompanied by other twelve Nymphs as the allegoryof the British rivers and played by the ladies of the court.

As for the plot, Tethys' Festival follows the aquatic and dynastic metaphor of Henry's civicprocession two days earlier, developing it from a political perspective directlyrecollected to the metaphors cited by James I in his first speech toParliament, which referred to the action of small streams merging into largerones achieving greatness in unity, that is the union of the British Isles.[23] The queen/Tethys, wife of Neptune, arrives with the thirteen nymphs to their pay tribute toprince Henry (as Meliades) and king James (the Ocean King). Tethys advice tothe prince, expressed by the words of the Tritons, who spoke on behalf of thequeen and prince Charles, is a clear suggestion against imperialism: Henry ispresented with a scarf with the British Isles figured on, and Tethys urges himto enjoy the richness within the pillars of Hercules,[24] supporting James'pacific policies rather than the Protestant wars favoured by the young princeand his supporters. Thus the spectacle not only glorified the new Prince ofWales but also celebrated Anna as queen of England, creator of the royal lineage,and she wants to present his eldest son as the chief auditor of the masque athis father's side, showing on stage for the first time her other two sons,Elizabeth and Charles.[25]

Though the masquewas sumptuously staged, it didn't show anything innovative compared to themagnificence of The Masque of Queens the year before (1609), withthe House of Fame, the principal ‘machine', and the triumphal procession of thechariots of the twelve queens created by Inigo Jones; without talking about thestrong impact ‘hellish' antimasque, with the witches on stage dancing, singingand acting in a very staggering way for the English courtly audience of thetime. In Tethys Festival Jones' three scenes merely consisted instereotyped maritime settings, with no view-changes except that one of the «threecircles of lights»[26] coming down fromthe upper stage for the second scene, which was rather a visual expedient tocover the changing of the wings, with the help of a loud music, than aneffective shift of the perspectives on stage. Daniels regrets that he could notput on stage the usual torches, by means of the torch bearers, because of the hotinside the room; the lack of this staging artifice certainly determined a lessspectacular impact on stage: «The introducing of Pages with torches might haveadded more splendour, but yet they would have pestered the roome, which theseason would not permit».[27]

The splendour ofthe masque was mainly due to the richness of the costumes and to the largenumber of dances and choreographies, which always involved the queen and herladies who, following peculiar choice for the Jacobean masque, returned onstage in their courtly habits in the third and final scene, reaching the kingwith a solemn march, thus bringing the royal entertainment to an end.

The third and lastday of the celebrations was dedicated to a tilt, The Creation Tilt, inwhich a «divers Earls and Barons […] being in rich and glorious armoure, andhaving costly caparisons, wondrous couriuosly imbroydered with pearls, gouldand silver, the like rich habiliments for horses were never seene before»[28] presented theirdevices and trophies before the king and prince, then ran at the tilt, admiredby «a world of people».

In the evening therewas a spectacular water-fight on the Thames in front of Whitehall,[29] representing thebattle of the Turkish pirates, supported by a castle «builded upon the water», against some merchant's ships, which in the end,after a long and brave resistance, managed to overthrow their enemies anddestroy the castle, whose glorious defeat was underlined by «verie strange andvariable fier-workes in the castle and in all the shippes and gallies, withoutany manner to hurt to any person, the Thamis being in a manner close coveredwith boates and barges full of people, beside the shoar on both sides».[30]

[1] This essay isdirectly connected with the author's researches dealing the cultural, politicaland spectacular relationship between the court of England and the Florentinecourt of the Medici family, in the persons, on a side, of James I, his wifequeen Anne of Denmark and Henry Frederick, their eldest son; on the other side,the Grand Duke Ferdinando I and, after his death, his son Cosimo II and all theofficers involved in that which was a most fertile and prolific time of greatdynamism, political contacts and cultural osmosis, in the years between 1603and 1615. For more details see C. Pagnini, Costantinode' Servi, architetto-scenografo fiorentino alla corte d'Inghilterra(1611-1615), Firenze, Società Editrice Fiorentina, 2006.

[2] The studies aboutHenry are not that wide, though recently the historiography is tending toreconsider his role in the British culture and policywithin the Stuart era. Following up this tendency, the recent and valuableexhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, The Lost Prince: The Life andDeath of Henry Stuart (London, The National Portrait Gallery, 18 October2012-13 January 2013), has been a charming show of art and objects – includingfuneral relics and the devastating autopsy report – curated by CatharineMacLeod; a first ever exhibition about Prince Henry which included aninteresting conference dealing with the various aspects of his life, ideologyand patronage program. Regarding Henry's bibliography, we cite here the variousCornwallis' accounts (C. Cornwallis, A Discourse ofthe most Illustrious Prince, Henry, late Prince of Wales. Written anno 1626,London, John Benson, 1641; Id., The Life and Death of our late mostIncomparable and Heroique Prince, Henry Prince of Wales,  London, John Dawson for Nathanael Butter,1641; Id., The Short Life and Much Lamented Death ofthat Most Magnanimous Prince Henry, Leyden, W. Christian, 1644; Id.,  An Account of the Baptism, Life, Death andFuneral, of the most Incomparable Prince Frederick Henry, Prince of Wales,London, J. Freeman, 1751; Id., A Discourse concerning the Marriagepropounded to Prince Henry with a Daughter of Florence, in Collectanea curiosa, Or Miscellaneous Tracts, Relating to theHistory and Antiquities of England and Ireland, edited by JohnGutch, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1781, vol. I); T. Birch, The Court andTimes of James the First, London, Henry Colburn, 1848, 2 vols.; R. Strong, Henry Prince of Wales and England's Lost Renaissance, London, Thames and Hudson, 1986;  Pagnini, Costantino de'Servi, cit.; C. Murray, The Pacific King and the Militant Prince?Representation and Collaboration in the Letters Patent of James I, Creating hisson Henry, Prince of Wales, BritishLibrary Journal, 8 (2012), http://www.bl.uk/eblj/2012articles/article8.html (latestaccess: March 5th 2014).

[3] See J. Nichols,The progresses, processions andmagnificent festivities of king James I, New York, AMSPress, 1977, vol. II, p. 33.

[4] The festivities tohonour the visit of the Danish royal guest are entirely described by Sir DudleyCarleton in one of his most interesting letter to Sir Ralph Winwood, dated 20August 1606 (see Dudley Carleton to JohnChamberlain (1603-1624). Jacobean Letters, edited with an introduction by M. Lee, New Brunswick, RutgersUniversity Press, 1972, pp.  85-93) andby Sir John Harington in a letter of the same period to Mr. Secretary Barlow(see J. Harington, Nugae Antiquae, London, Vernor and Hood,1804, vol. I, p. 34). For the analysis of the spectacular English tradition towardthe Italian one, but especially Florentine, see Pagnini,Costantino de' Servi, cit., pp. 19-53and pp. 168-198.

[5] For the text andthe spectacular analysis of the Barrier see S. Orgel, Ben Jonson: the Complete Masques, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1969, pp.142-158. On the same festival see Nichols,The Progresses, cit., pp. 360-361, N.Council, Ben Jonson, Inigo Jones and theTransformation of Tudor Chivalry, «Journalof English Literary History», 47 (1980), pp. 259-275, J. Barroll-J. Pitcher Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England, Madison, FairleighDickinson University Press, 1984, p. 158, Strong,Henry Prince of Wales, cit., pp. 141-151.

[6] John Chamberlain to Sir Ralph Winwood, London, 24 May 1610 transcribed in J. Chamberlain The Letters of John Chamberlain, edited by N.E. McClure, Philadelphia, The American Philosophical Society, 1939, vol. I, p. 300. On the Creation festivals see also Strong, Henry Prince of Wales, cit., pp. 151-160, J.P.V. Akrigg, Jacobean Pageant or The court of King James I, New York, Athenaeum, 1974, pp. 125-128, Pagnini, Costantino de' Servi, cit., 2006, pp. 64-74.

[7]All the negotiations for the wedding between Henry and the several possible brides from the various court in Europe, included the Florentine one, are wholly reported, politically and culturally analysed in C. Pagnini, Ottaviano Lotti residente mediceo a Londra (1603-1614), «Medioevo e Rinascimento»,XVII / n.s. XIV (2003), pp. 323-340 and Pagnini, Costantino de' Servi, cit., pp. 103-152.

[8]Florence State Archive (hereafter ASF), f. 6357, cc. nn., Sunto di qualche Ottaviano Lotto Segretario del Serenissimo Granduca di Toscana Residente appresso la Maestà del Re della Gran Bretagna ha scritto con più soluzione dell'Altezza Serenissima., ottobre 1611. For the peculiar figure of the Florentine resident Ottaviano Lotti see C. Pagnini, Ottaviano Lotti, cit., and Pagnini, Costantino de' Servi, cit., pp. 103-154.

[9] ASF, f. 4189, cc. nn., OttavianoLotti to Andrea Cioli, London, 12 May 1610.

[10]ASF,f. 4189, cc. nn., Ottaviano Lotti to Andrea Cioli, London, 9 June 1610.


[11]ASF, f. 4189, cc. nn., Ottaviano Lotti to Andrea Cioli, London, 2 June 1610.

[12]Nichols, The progresses, cit., p. 320. The official report of the festivities for Henry's progress from Richmond to Whitehall Palace, London's Love to the Royal Prince Henrie, Meeting Him on the River Thames, at His Return from Richmonde, with a Worthe Fleete of Her Citizens, on Thursday the Last of May 1610, with a Briefe Reporte of the Wather Fight and Fire Workes (London, Edward Allde for Nathaniell Fosbrooke, 1610), is entirely transcribed in the above volume, pp. 315- 323.

[13]John Rice left the company in 1611 to join the Lady Elizabeth's Men, but was back in the King's company in 1619 and his name appears at the end of the First Folio list. He is not mentioned in any acting list after 1625, since he gave up the stage to become a church official. See A. Palmer-V. Palmer Who's Who in Shakespeare England, London, MacMillan, 1999, pp. 202-203.

[14] Nichols, The Progresses, cit., pp. 321-322.

[15] Akrigg, Jacobean Pageant, cit., 1974, p. 126.

[16]  For the ceremony of the knights' creation see the detailed account in Nichols, The Progresses, cit., pp. 336-345; see also Akrigg, Jacobean Pageant, cit., pp. 125-128.

[17] ASF, f. 4189, Ottaviano Lotti to Andrea Cioli, London, 2 June 1610.

[18] The official report of the Henry's Creation, The Order and Solemnitieof the Creation of the High and Mightie Prince Henry, Eldest Sonne to OurSoveraigne, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, Earl of Chester, &c., as ItWas Celebrated in the Parliament House, on Munday the Fourthe of June Last Past(London, John Budge, 1610), is entirely transcribed in Nichols, The Progresses, cit., pp. 324-331, to which we refer forthe following account in the text. See also P. CroftThe Parliamentary Instructions of Henry Prince of Wales, «Historical Research», 157 (1992), pp. 177-193, andC. Murray The Pacific King and the Militant Prince? Representation and Collaboration in the Letters Patent of James I, Creating hisson Henry, Prince of Wales, «British Library Journal», 8 (2012), http://www.bl.uk/eblj/2012articles/article8.html(latest access: 13 February 2014).

[19] See John Chamberlain to Sir Ralph Winwood, London, 24 May 1610, in J. Chamberlain, The letters, cit., p. 300. The masque was presented on June 5th in the Banqueting House, with staging and perspectives by Inigo Jones. Though the contemporary official sources describe the masque as a sumptuous spectacle, it seems the concrete result was much far from this, since Tethys's didn't improved any relevant technical innovation compared with the two years preceding Masque of Queens. On Tethys's Festival see E.K. Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage, cit., pp. 281-283. For the staging, choreographic and musical structure of the Jacobean masque see A. Nicoll, Stuart Masques and Renaissance Stage, London, Harrap, 1937, S. Orgel-R. Strong Inigo Jones: the theatre at the Stuart court, London-Berkeley, Sotheby Parke Bernet-University of California Press, 1973, S. Orgel Four Hundred Songs and Dances from the Stuart Masque, London, Andrew J. Sabol, 1977, J. Peacock The Stuart Court Masque, «Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes», 56 (1993), pp. 183-208, Id.,  The stage designs of Inigo Jones, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1995.

[20]«The Quene is preparing and practising a new maske against that time» (John Chamberlain to Sir Ralph Winwood, London, May 24th 1610, in Chamberlain, The Letters, cit., p.300). See also Pagnini, Costantino de' Servi, cit., pp. 168-198.

[21] Court Masques, Jacobean and Caroline Entertainments (1605-1640), edited with an Introduction by David Lindley, New York-Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1995, p. 64.

[22] Ibid.

[23] R. King, Cymbeline: Constructions of Britain, London, Ashgate, 2005, p. 54.


[24]Court Masques, cit., pp. 37-38.

[25] L. Barroll Anne of Denmark, Queen of England: a Cultural Biography, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001, p. 123.

[26] Court Masques, cit., p. 60.

[27] Nichols, The Progresses,cit., p. 358.

[28] Ivi, p. 361.

[29] «And the night there were other naval triumphes and pastimes upon the water, over against the Court, with shippes of warre and gallies fighting one against another, and against a great castle builded upon the water» (ibid.).

[30] Ivi, pp. 361-362.