14th February 1613. A Royal Wedding and Entertainment.
Today saw the marriage in 1613, after prolonged negotiations with several European countries, of the German, Prince Frederick, Elector Palatine, with Elizabeth, daughter of James I.(1)
A rabid Protestant he accepted the throne of Bohemia and became the leader of the revolt against the Catholic Habsburgs, though soon to be driven out, and his lands possessed by Hapsburg troops. His short tenure as monarch, lead to his being known as the Winter King. (2)
It was the first royal wedding to take place in England since that of Mary Tudor and Philip of Spain in 1554. Their daughter Sophie was to give birth to a son, the first of the Hanoverians, to become George I.
By her marriage Elizabeth was to marry into one of the most militaristic and Calvinistic Protestant, of the German States.
By the marriage James was presented with an opportunity for his country to be more than just English or British as now he could be part of a Protestant Europe, anti-Hapsburg and hold a privileged position between the two powers.
The wedding elicited vast panegyrical (excessive praise), outbursts of poetry and masque (an extravagant courtly entertainment), which even surpassed those of the funeral rites on the early death of James’s son Prince Henry in 1612. Even the Inns of Court who in 10 years of James’s Court, had not mounted any entertainment, provided two of the three masques.
The magnificence of the occasion, had not been seen since Prince Arthur married Katherine of Aragon in 1501, but with a cost of £93,293, it was a vast amount to spend even for those days.
The grandest entertainment was the Masque of Truth, possibly in remembrance of the death of Prince Henry, who had previously commanded it. It was a masque which represented a departure from those held previously in the Jacobean Court, as it swapped classical mythology for one of purely Biblical imagery.
The masque represented princes and princesses of each continent dancing forth, paying tribute to James and the married couple, as champions of the true religion.
They enter through a large globe held by a colossal reclining figure of Althea who reads from the Bible, describing European submissive entry into the Jacobean Court and embracing an apocalyptic and panegyrical tone.
What a change for The Royal Family today, the direct descendants of this Court, who have to endure, for instance, the Royal Variety Performance and Highland Games, when they are not watching tribal dances, in far away climes.
(1) James I of England and James VI of Scotland.
(2) The Hanoverian Kings descend from Frederick and Eliabeth through through their daughter Sophia, mother of George I.
Ref: historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/marriage-of-winter-queen. Vol 63. Iss. 2. Feb. 2013.
Ref: encyclopeadia2 the free dictionary.com Frederick V Elector Palatine.
Ref: Marriage Performance and Politics at Jacobean Court, Kevin Curran.
Ref: This Sceptred isle P191-2 Christopher Lee BBC 1999.