The not-quite-eighteen-years-old Henry had come to the throne on April 22nd – and in just two months he had quickly established his authority. Within days, he arrested his father’s most trusted advisors, Empson and Dudley (he would go on to execute them). Next, on June 11, he solidified his alliance with Spain by marrying Catherine of Aragon (which would come back to haunt him but…). Finally, he was crowned on Midsummer Day – a seemingly auspicious choice (the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, the midpoint between reaping and sowing….).
A coronation was always a heady affair, and the event was extensively described in Hall’s Chronicle. I’m going to let Hall tell it – he was less intrigued by the religious ceremony and utterly fascinated by the tradition of the King’s Champion riding into the Great Hall while they were enjoying the feast, so that’s largely what you will read here. FYI, I left the crazy run-on sentences but I did clean it up a LOT…if you want to read the original, click the link in the citation…
The morrow following being Sunday, and also Midsummer Day, this noble Prince with his Queen, at time convenient, under their canopies borne by the Baron of the Five Ports, went from the said Palace to Westminster Abbey upon cloth, called vulgarly cloth of Ray, the which cloth was cut and spoiled by the rude and common people immediately after their repair into the Abbey, where, according to the sacred observance and ancient custom, His Grace and the Queen were anointed and crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury, with other prelates of the realm there present, and the nobility, with a great multitude of Commons of the same. It was demanded of the people whether they would receive, obey, and take the same most noble Prince for their king; and with great reverence, love, and desire, they said and cried yea, yea. After the which solemnity and coronation were finished, the lords spiritual and temporal did to him homage, and returned to Westminster Hall, with the Queen’s grace, every one under their canopies, where, by the Lord Marshall and his tipped staves, was made room, and every lord, and other novel men, according to their tenures, before claimed and viewed, seen, and allowed by the lords, and other of his Grace’s council, entered into such room and office that day, to execute their services accordingly. The King’s estate on the right hand, and the Queen’s on the left hand, the [cobard] of 9 stages, their noble personages being set: first, at the bringing of the first course, the trumpets blew up. And in came the Duke of Buckingham, mounted on a great courser, richly trapped and embroidered, and the Lord Steward, in likewise on a horse trapped in cloth of gold, riding before the service, which was sumptuous, with many subtleties, strange devices, with several poses, and many dainty dishes. At the King’s feet, under the table, were certain gentlemen. And in likewise with the Queen, who there continued, during that long and royal feast. What should I speak or write, of the sumptuous, fine, and delicate meats prepared for this high and honorable coronation, provided for as well in the parties beyond the sea, as in many and sundry places within this realm, where God so abundantly hath sent such plenty and foyson: or of the honorable order of the services, the clean handling and breaking of meats, the ordering of the dishes, with the plentiful abundance. So that none of any estate being there did lack, nor no honorable or worshipful person went unfeasted. The second course being served: in at the hall door entered a knight, armed at all points, his base’s rich tissue embroidered. A great plume of ostrich feathers on his helmet, sitting on a great courser, trapped in tissue embroidered with the arms of England and of France, and a herald of arms before him. And passing through the hall, presented himself with humble reverence before the King’s majesty, to whom the Garter king of heralds cried and said with a loud voice, “Sir knight, from whence come you and what is your pretence?” This knight’s name was Sir Robert Dimmocke, Champion to the king by tenure of his inheritance, who answered the said king of Arms, in effect after this manner: “Sir, the place that I come from is not material, nor the cause of my repair hither is not concerning any matter of any place or country, but only this.” And there with all, commanded his Herald to make an Oyes: then said the knight, to the king of Arms , “How shall ye hear the cause of my coming and pretence?” Then he commanded his own Herald to say by proclamation: “If there be any person, of what estate or degree whatsoever he be, that will say or prove that King Henry the Eighth is not the rightful inheritor and king of this realm, I, Sir Robert Dimmoke here his Champion, offer my glove to fight in his quarrel, with any person to the utterance.” This Proclamation was made in sundry places of the hall. And at every time, his gauntlet cast down, in the maintenance thereof. After which several proclamations done, and offers made, the said knight or champion eftsones repaired to the King’s presence, demanding drink, to whom the King’s grace sent a cup of gold, with wine, whereof after this knight had drunk, he demanded the cover of the said cup which to him was also delivered. That done, he departed out of the hall with the said cup and cover as his own.https://archive.org/details/hallschronicleco00halluoft/page/510/mode/2up
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