This post was meant to be written about 5 days ago but then the cockies (Sulphur-crested Cockatoos) chewed through the telephone line to our house and we’ve been without the Internet while a new line was connected. The fact that the very plump local brushtail possums also use the telephone line as an aerial highway probably doesn’t help either!
Hopefully I’ll be able to squeeze in an extra post over the coming week.
Now back to the second instalment of the royal history in Barbara’s cross stitch. Here are the rows of kings and queens we’ll be looking at in this post:
From Edward IV to William & Mary
This period of royal history covers the end of the War of the Roses and then the turbulent and complex couple of centuries of tensions between Protestants and Catholics and Parliaments and monarchs about which faith would prevail as the established state religion of England.
Just to recap where we left off last time – it was with Henry VI the last of the Lancastrian Kings. He and Edward IV fought a series of battles in the War of the Roses. Henry VI was defeated in 1461 and confined to the Tower of London but re-instated briefly in 1470 when nobles loyal to him rebelled against Edward IV who was forced to flee. Edward IV returned and defeated the forces loyal to Henry VI in 1471:
Edward IV (r. 1461-1470 & 1471-1483 ) is regarded as a military and administrative genius. He was a popular king who restored the royal finances through tough management of royal revenues and shrewd investments including wool trading. His Court is described in records of the time as the most splendid in Europe. He spent a lot on expensive status symbols to demonstrate his wealth and power. The way he’s shown here probably refers to the fact that in the last few years of his reign he became rather stout.
Edward V (r. April-June 1483) was one of the Princes in the Tower. He became king at the age of 12. His uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was made Lord Protector of the realm. He had Edward V declared illegitimate and confined to the Tower of London (then a royal residence) with his younger brother. The young princes were never seen again.
Richard III (r. 1483-85) usurped the throne from his nephew Edward V. He had a strong power base in the north of England and this caused growing resentment in the south. He died in the Battle of Bosworth Field fighting Henry Tudor. Richard III was the last English king to die in battle.
Henry VII to Edward VI
Henry VII (r. 1485-1509) was the first Tudor monarch. In the latter part of his reign he imposed heavy taxation and his greed made him unpopular. He’s shown in this design carrying a chest of money.
Henry VIII (r. 1509-1547) is one of the best known and flamboyant kings of England. He was a larger than life figure and a talented linguist, musician, composer and writer and great patron of the arts. He established the Church of England and was married 6 times.
Edward VI (r. 1547-1553) became king at the age of 9. He was a devout Protestant and the Book of Common Prayer was introduced in 1549. Edward was physically frail and when his health was failing he accepted Lady Jane Grey (one of Henry VIII’s great nieces) as his heir.
Lady Jane Grey & Mary I
Lady Jane Grey (r. 10-19 July 1553) was a pawn in a broader political play. She was only 16 when she became heir to the throne. Unfortunately for her the country rebelled and rallied behind Mary the daughter of Catherine of Aragon. She was executed not long after.
Mary I (r. 1553-1558) was the first Queen to rule in her own right. She was a devout Catholic and over 300 Protestant heretics were burned at the stake and many more imprisoned.
Elizabeth I & James I
Elizabeth I (r. 1558-1603) is regarded as one of the great monarchs of England. During her reign there was a Renaissance in the arts and fashion. Embroidery and lace were used to embellish sumptuous costumes. Imported reticello and other laces were used to create lavish cuffs, collars and ruffs (ornate, high collars). As Europe was going through a mini Ice Age during this period there was a demand for warm materials and many costumes were made of wool or wool blends. Elizabethan embroidery was used to add decorative elements to an otherwise plain fabric.
James I (r. 1603-1625) was the first Stuart king. He had been King of Scotland for 36 years when he became King of England. He commissioned the King James Version of the Bible which is why he’s shown here with a bible.
Charles I – James II
Charles I (r. 1625-1649) is not regarded by historians as a successful ruler. His whole reign was one of conflict with Parliament and controversy. This led to his execution in 1649.
Charles II (r. 1660-1685) became king when the monarchy was restored in 1660. He had to deal with the Plague and the Great Fire of London. He was the patron of the architect Sir Christopher Wren in the rebuilding of St Paul’s Cathedral. But we’re going to focus on the lighter side – he loved to play tennis. He had special tennis outfits made of Holland (a Dutch linen regarded as one of the finest linens ever produced) along with special tennis shoes. Research by Professor Maria Hayward of the University of Southampton has established that the frames of the tennis racquets that he used were bordered with luxurious lace.
James II (r. 1685-1688) became king when Charles II died without heirs. He attempted to promote the Roman Catholic cause and this made him unpopular with Parliament and the people. When William of Orange invaded and was supported by the English military he was forced to flee to France.
William and Mary of Orange
William III (1689-1702) & Mary II (1689-1694)
Mary is recorded as being very attractive in contrast to her husband William III who was reported as being short and stout. She died of smallpox in 1694. William died from complications following a fall from his horse Sorrel which had stumbled into a mole’s burrow.
The more I research the royal history in this design the more I appreciate the thought and wit that’s gone into it. The designer has managed to pull off a balance between the often harsh reality of history and the more light hearted moments.
Hope you have a great week!