The Court of Claims takes its origin from the ancient prerogatives of the Lord High Steward, who sat judicially in the Whitehall of the king's palace, at Westminster, to receive the applications and decide upon the claims of all those who held lands on the tenure of performing some personal service at the coronation. It is a court, in fact, exercising this part of his ancient office by commission. These services had the name of magnum servitium, or grand sergeanty, as being attached to the person of the king, and involve the honour of knighthood in all cases; no person under the rank of a knight, nor a minor or female tenant, being allowed to perform them.
Numerous offices occur in the list of claims, to which our limits will not allow us to pay attention. Toward him who is "every inch a king" every sort of service is supposed to confer honour; and many comparatively trivial duties have been long connected with the more substantial rights of property. The preceding offices require no recognition of the Court of Claims for their exercise; but those which follow are to be substantiated before this tribunal at each successive coronation.
The hereditary Grand Almoner of England is an honour attached to the barony of Bedford. Its duties are to collect and distribute certain monies at the coronation from a silver dish; which the Almoner claims for his fee, together with all the cloth on which the king walks in procession from the door of the hall at Westminster to the Abbey church.
The Chief Butlership is traced by authentic records into the hands of William de Albini, who came to England with William the Conqueror, and has been exercised by some of the noblest families in the country since. It is now an hereditary right of the Duke of Norfolk as Earl of Arundel, and entitles the possessor to the best gold cup and cover, with all the vessels and wine remaining under the bar, and all the pots and cups, except those of gold and silver, which shall be in the wine cellar after dinner.
In the remote periods of our history, when the assassination of princes was practised by various arts, a faithful guardian of the royal cup might well be esteemed an acquisition to the court. A "chief butler" was one of the most ancient attendants on royalty, we know from Scripture history, and, according to the same details, was instrumental in bringing about that singular revolution in the court of Egypt, which resulted in planting the Jews there, for the accomplishment of some of the most extraordinary purposes of God. The same kind of office seems to have been held by the Jewish chieftain Nehemiah in the court of Persia, and to have given him considerable influence in accelerating the return of his countrymen from their captivity in Babylon.
The Dapifer or Sewer, who, "in his surcote, with tabard, sleeves, and a hoode about his neck, and his towell above all, served the messes," or arranged the dishes on the table of the coronation feast of Elizabeth, Henry VII.'s queen, is an ancient worthy of the royal day, whose office has become extinct. If the dishes are not become more tractable, or the royal observation less nice, royal feasting has become, perhaps, less rare in modern times, and this kind of skill, therefore, more common.
The Grand Carver—Grand Panniter, or provider of bread, and the Royal Napier, are offices that have also become extinct, while good carving and good living have been still found at the royal table; and while the Chief Cupbearer has retained his office and the possession of the manor of Great Wimondley, in Hertfordshire, as his reward.
The Chief Lardiner is also still entitled to notice, as having the care and management of the royal larder, and being duly careful of "the remainder of beef, mutton, venison, kids, lard, and other flesh; as also the fish, salt, &c. remaining in the larder," which fall to his share of the feast. This office has been attached to the manor of Scoulton, in Norfolk, from the reign of Henry II.
Nor should we omit to notice that the Lord Mayor and Citizens of London claim a snug "seat next the cupboard, on the left side of the hall," in virtue of their right to assist the Chief Butler in his duties at the coronation feast; or that his lordship serves the king after dinner with wine in a gold cup, having the cup and its cover for a fee. It is remarkable that the city claims a right to perform the same service, and to receive a similar fee, at the coronation of our queens: but as this escaped Her Majesty's law officers in the late argument for her coronation, we will not suppose it had any connexion with the strong desire for that event at the Mansion House. The mayor, bailiffs, and commonalty of Oxford also claim to assist in the office of butlery, and receive the humbler reward of three maple cups.
With other presents—of grout or gruel, maple cups and napkins, to the king, gentle reader, we will suppose thou hast of late been sufficiently acquainted; but the conspicuous duty of the Barons of the Cinque Ports must not pass unnoticed.
These ports claim to furnish sixteen supporters of the royal canopy, in the following proportion, i.e.—Hastings, 3; Dover, 2; Hithe, 2; Rye, 2; Sandwich, 3; Rumney, 2; Winchelsea, 2. It is called in an account of the coronation of Richard I. "a silk umbraculum, borne on four lances:" but is now generally composed of cloth of gold, having a gilt silver bell at each of the four corners, which are supported by four staves of silver. The origin of this claim is involved in such remote antiquity, that a charter of Charles II. speaks of "the time of the contrary being never remembered to have been." We have seen that a crown, ascribed to the days of King Alfred, bore a couple of bells on its sides. These accompaniments of royal and pontifical dignity, appear to be of Eastern origin; but the modern application of them is curiously contrasted with the ancient design. At the doors of the tents or houses of grandees a bell or sonorous body was generally placed, that applicants for admission might announce their desires: thus the Jewish High Priest wore bells round the lower border of his sacerdotal garments, "that his sound might be heard" on approaching the presence of God. It was clearly designed to indicate an application for the audience of a superior: but in the roar of cannon, the clatter of church bells, and the warm gratulations of such a people as received His Majesty on a late occasion, what tidings of any kind could the feeble bells of the canopy convey?
We shall notice but one other claim, that of the lord of the Isle of Man to present the king with the interesting present of two falcons on the day of his coronation. "Hawks and falcons were favourite subjects of amusement, and valuable presents in those days," says Mr. Turner, "when the country being much over-run with wood, all species of the feathered race must have abounded. A king of Kent begged of a friend abroad two falcons of such skill and courage as to attack cranes willingly, and seizing them to throw them on the ground. An Anglo-Saxon, by his will, gives two hawks (hafocas), and all his stag-hounds (head or hundas) to his natural lord." And similarly to this claim of the king on the lord of Man, "Ethelstan," according to this writer, "made North Wales furnish him with as many dogs as he chose, whose scent-pursuing noses might explore the haunts and coverts of the deer; he also exacted birds 'who knew how to hunt others along the atmosphere.'"
The Isle of Man was given in the reign of Henry IV. to the Northumberland family; on the forfeiture of that earldom Sir John Stanley became possessed of it, on the present tenure of presenting the kings of England with two falcons on the day of their coronation; and although the sovereignty was purchased from the Duke of Athol by the crown during the late king's reign, that nobleman still holds his manorial rights by the performance of this duty.
[Footnote 56: There have been instances in which the see having been vacant, and the archbishop suspended or abroad, other prelates have officiated: but the right of the metropolitan see seems to have been still preserved.]
[Footnote 57: Lingard's History of England, vol. ii. p. 88, 89.]
[Footnote 58: Henry V. p. i.]
[Footnote 59: Johnes' Froissart, v. 12. p. 162.]
[Footnote 60: Chron. Sax. 57, 63; Malmsbury, &c.]
[Footnote 61: Wilk. Leg. 217, 228.]
[Footnote 62: Ivanhoe, v. iii. p. 328-345.]
[Footnote 63: Gen. xli. 9.]
[Footnote 64: Neh. i. 11.]
[Footnote 65: Clarke's Bible, Part ii. Exod.]
[Footnote 66: Hist. Anglo-Saxons, v. ii, p. 79.]
[Footnote 67: Malmsb. lib. iii. p. 80.]
Sec. 4. ANECDOTES OF THE ACTUAL CEREMONIES OF THE CORONATION,
Although the ceremonies of the royal investiture form a spectacle for the eye of the passing age, rather than a subject of historical record, presenting any thing characteristic of our monarchs, traces of the "form and body of the time" have occasionally been left by them on the page of history, which it is now our design to present to the reader.
The chief of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of the octarchy at the close of the eighth century was Mercia; and hither we find Pope Adrian, the friend and favourite of Charlemagne, sending two legates to enforce a new code of ecclesiastical laws, as early as A.D. 785. A synod was held in Northumbria, and another in Mercia, to receive them; but while the former kingdom first embraced Christianity, in the latter were first exhibited, at this time, the solemn rites of an ecclesiastical consecration in the person of EGFURTH, the son of Offa, who was "hallowed to king," in the presence of his father, then reigning. This phrase of the Saxon Chronicle describes all that is now known of the mode of this early coronation; but prince Egfurth seems, in virtue of it, to have reigned conjointly with his father afterwards. It is remarkable that, although the Archbishop of Canterbury soon obtained the entire ecclesiastical precedence in the coronation of our kings, at this same synod of Calcuith, (Chelsey, Bucks,) it was decided that a metropolitan see should be established amongst the Mercians, taking from that of Canterbury all the territory between the Thames and the Humber; and that Adrian accordingly sent the pallium of archiepiscopal dignity to Adulph, Bishop of Lichfield. Charlemagne, who called himself in letters produced at this synod, "the most powerful of the kings of the east," gives to Offa the sounding title of "the most powerful of the kings of the west." Egfurth, it would seem, was not again crowned on his accession to the entire regal authority.
There is one instance of a Northumbrian coronation, in the stormy close of that dynasty, i.e., that of EARDULF, A.D. 795. This prince had a singular escape from the hands of Ethelred, his predecessor, by whom he was brought to the church door of Rippon, in Yorkshire, and as the monarch and the spectators thought, put to death. The body was carried into the choir by the monks; who, in chanting the funeral service, perceived it to breathe, dressed his wounds, and carefully preserved their future sovereign in their monastery. He was consecrated and assisted to the throne by AEanbald, Archbishop of York, and two other prelates.
A consecration of ALFRED the Great, which is by many writers regarded as "regal," took place at Rome, A.D. 754, when that prince was but five years of age; and was performed by Pope Leo IV. at the request of his father. Mr. Turner supposes that AEthelwulf thus intended to designate him for his heir in preference to his elder brothers: and Mr. Lingard, that it was to secure his succession to the crown after his brothers, to the exclusion of their children; a conjecture that is strongly supported by the subsequent arrangements of the will of AEthelwulf, by which the minor kingdom of Kent was left to his second son, Ethelbert; and the kingdom of Wessex to Ethelbald, Ethelred, and Alfred, in order of seniority. "If there be room here for conjecture, I rather think," says Selden, "that as the unction used in the baptism of king Clovis was among the French made also by tradition to be an anointing him for king, so here the use of chrisme in confirmation (for it appears that at the same time Pope Leo confirmed king Alured,) was afterward, by mistaking, accounted for the royal unction."
Malmsbury says expressly that the pope gave him "the regal unction and the crown;" and Robert of Gloucester
—Pope Leon hẏm blessede e he uder com, And e kẏnges crowne of ẏs lond.—
It is also to be observed that no one of his brothers, Ethelbert, Ethelbald, or Ethelred, seem to have received a regal consecration, and that we do not read of a repetition of that ceremony when Alfred himself was crowned at Winchester;—and here we leave the solution of the meaning of this ceremony to the reader.
Our next is an instance of female coronation. AEthelwulf, devotedly attached to the church, and fitted more for the cowl than the crowns she was now in the habit of bestowing, espoused, on his return from a pilgrimage to Rome, JUDITH, the daughter of Charles the Bold—and at the close of the marriage ceremony caused her to be crowned and anointed by the archbishop of Rheims. A regal seat was prepared for her by his side, and she received the new or disused title of Queen. This was in the year 856. To his people the marriage seems to have been as distasteful as it was in itself unnatural; the lady not having reached her 12th year, and the king being advanced in age; but the "royal makings of a queen," with which she was honoured, are said to have excited their particular displeasure. Whether this arose, as is probable, from the consecration of a female to the royal dignity being wholly unprecedented at the court of Wessex, from some apprehension on the part of his subjects that the king designed to transfer their allegiance to a female at his death, or from disgust at the recent conduct of Eadburga, who had poisoned her husband king Brichtric, must at this period be matter of pure conjecture. Clear, however, it is that some of our most respectable historians must be mistaken respecting the crime of Eadburga, causing the honour of a coronation to be "taken from" the Saxon queens. We have no instance of a female coronation in England until so late as the year 978, in the reign of Ethelred II.: that of Judith, therefore, was no revival of a discontinued custom. But a degradation of the consorts of the kings of Wessex in regard to the title of queen, and the right to sit in equal dignity with the king upon a throne, in consequence of the crime of Eadburga, is, perhaps, sufficiently established. Mr. Lingard, whose accuracy as an historian is entitled to the highest praise, adverts to this circumstance in the following summary of the honours of an Anglo-Saxon queen. "The consort of the cẏning was originally known by the appellation of "queen," and shared, in common with her husband, the splendour of royalty. But of this distinction she was deprived by the crime of Eadburga, the daughter of Offa, who had administered poison to her husband Brichtric, the king of Wessex. In the paroxysm of their indignation the witan punished the unoffending wives of their future monarchs by abolishing, with the title of queen, all the appendages of female royalty. AEthelwulf, in his old age, ventured to despise the prejudices of his subjects. His young consort Judith was crowned in France, and was permitted to seat herself by his side on the throne. But during several subsequent reigns no other king imitated his example: and the latest of the Anglo-Saxon queens, though they had been solemnly crowned, generally contented themselves with the modest appellation of "the lady.""
After king "Alfride," saith Peter Langtoft—
Kam EDWARD the olde, Faire man he was and wis, stalworth and bolde.
He was distinguished for those successful inroads on the Danish possessions in Britain which resulted in the entire dominion of England being united under the sceptre of his successors.
On the same authority we learn that he "toke the croun at Saynt Poule's," London: if by this his coronation is intended, Stow and Speed contradict the poet, assigning this honour to the town of Kingston-upon-Thames. But the proclamation of the monarch in London may be the meaning of the old chronicler.
ETHELSTAN, the first monarch of England, was crowned at Kingston, (id est, villa regia, says an early writer), "according to the ancient laws," A.D. 924, by Athelm, archbishop of Canterbury. On this occasion, as we have before noticed, a high scaffolding was erected in the market-place of that borough, for the better exhibition of the prince and of the ceremonies to the people.
The coronations of EDMUND I. and EDRED, his brothers, (both of which took place at Kingston,) present nothing remarkable to our notice.
But that of EDWY, the eldest son of Edmund, was distinguished for a remarkable outrage on the person of the king. The popular account of this affair is, that the young prince had espoused a beautiful young lady of the royal blood, Elgiva, who was pronounced by the monks to be within the canonical degrees of affinity. Before his accession, therefore, she had been a source of dispute between the dignified ecclesiastics and the king. On the coronation-day he did not obtrude her claims upon the people; nor, on the contrary, would he forego his private comforts in her society. When the barons were indulging themselves in the pleasures of the feast, Edwy retired to his domestic apartments, and in the company of Elgiva and her mother, laid aside his crown and regal state. Dunstan, the aspiring abbot of Glastonbury, surmised the cause of his retreat; and taking with him his creature Odo, the nominal primate, penetrated into the interior of the palace, upbraided the prince with this untimely indulgence of his passions, and after branding his consort with the most opprobrious name of woman, brought him back with considerable personal violence into the hall. Mr. Turner, our able Anglo-Saxon historian, regards the transaction as a bold attempt of Dunstan to subdue the regal power to his ambition. He represents the nobility as evincing some displeasure at the king's early departure, and the anxiety of Odo to communicate the state of their minds to Edwy. That the persons he first addressed excused themselves from undertaking this errand: and the commission devolved by a sort of general wish on Dunstan and Cynesius, a bishop, his relative. "But with the delivery of the message," he observes, "his commission must have terminated; and on the king's refusal [if he did refuse] it was his duty to have retired. As an ecclesiastic, he should not have compelled him to a scene of inebriety; as a subject, it was treasonable to offer violence to his prince."
The latest, and not least able of our English historians, however, would place these events in a different light. He insists, somewhat in the spirit of the monkish writers, on this amour being highly disgraceful to the king; and while he represents it as "the scandal of the age" (whose sources, in the king's disputes with the ecclesiastics, Mr. Lingard in any other instance would have readily traced,) he states it as not altogether incredible that both Ethelgiva, the mother, and her daughter, whom he does not name, had sacrificed their honour to the equivocal ambition of one of them becoming queen. The nobles, he adds, accompanied their demand for the king's return with an injunction in the name of the whole assembly, for Ethelgiva to leave the court. The rest of his account does not materially differ from that of former historians. But with all the unfeigned respect for his impartiality, with which the perusal of this writer's volumes has inspired us, we cannot hold him successful in this attempt to disengage the character of Dunstan and his associates from the imputation of great indecorum.
Were the lady the king's mistress and not his wife, was a dignified ecclesiastic justified in following him into her apartments? and had the amour been ever so unbecoming, was this a species of conduct likely to detach him from it? But the story of the wife and daughter together speculating upon his affections is surely improbable in the highest degree: we know that the monkish writers, who furnish the only account we have of the transaction, would call a wife espoused in opposition to the will of the church, a mistress; and the sufferings of the young monarch from this interference with his affections, should teach us to exercise the judgment of charity on his memory.
EDGAR, the successor of Edwy, surnamed "the Peaceful," his whole reign being exempt from the scourge of war, delayed his coronation for thirteen of the sixteen years to which it extended; a circumstance for which none of our historians assign a reason. The royal investiture was celebrated at last, (A.D. 973,) with great pomp at Bath, Dunstan, archbishop of Canterbury, presiding.
"There was bliss mickle On that happy day Caused to all"—
says a poem in commemoration of the event, preserved in the Saxon Chronicle,
"Of priests a heap, Of monks much crowd, I understand."—
The monarch, indeed, was as celebrated for his magnificence as for the talents suited to his station. From Bath he proceeded to Chester, to receive the homage of eight tributary princes, i.e. Kenneth, king of Scotland, Malcolm of Cumberland, M'Orric of Anglesey and the Iles, Jukil of Westmoreland, Iago of Galloway, and Howel, Dyfnwel, and Griffith, princes of Wales. A splendid procession by water introduced the ceremony. Edgar assumed his seat at the stern of the royal barge, and his tributaries taking the oars, rowed the monarch to the church of St. John; the bishops and noblemen following in their state barges, and returning the acclamations of the populace who lined the shores. The king is said to have remarked, "When my successors can command the service of the like number of princes, let them consider themselves kings."
A remarkable objection was made, according to the Saxon Chronicle, to the right of EDWARD, the son of Edgar, to the throne, viz. that he was born before the coronation either of his father or mother, and the pretensions of his younger brother, Ethelred, were so successfully urged by the Queen dowager, that a convocation of the witan was held to settle the dispute. Here the claim of Edward was fully admitted, and he was crowned and anointed by Dunstan, at Kingston, accordingly, in the year 975—to be sacrificed to the ambition of his cruel stepmother, in less than four years afterwards.
Stained with the blood of its former wearer, even the ambitious prelate Dunstan "hated much to give the crown" to ETHELRED II., as Robert of Gloucester informs us; he assisted, however, at his coronation, and, according to the most perfect Anglo-Saxon ritual that has come down to us, addressed some admirable counsel to the monarch on the duties of his new station. The following is a translation of the coronation oath of this period. "In the name of the Most Holy Trinity, I promise; First, that the church of God, and all Christian people, shall enjoy true peace under my government; secondly, that I will prohibit all manner of rapine and injustice to men of every condition; thirdly, that in all judgments, I will cause equity to be united with mercy, that the most clement God may, through his eternal mercy, forgive us all. Amen." The ceremony was performed at Kingston, on the festival of Easter, 978.
EDMUND II., surnamed Ironside, was also crowned at Kingston; he struggled nobly for seven months against the overwhelming power of the Danes, who, at the moment of his coronation, had an army of 27,000 men on board their fleet in the Thames; and who, in the fatal field of Ashdown, extirpated almost all the old nobility of the kingdom, ere this unfortunate reign closed. This hero led them, during his short reign, into five pitched battles against the enemy.
CANUTE is said to have been chosen by the unanimous voice of the nation to the vacant throne; and received consecration from Levingius, archbishop of Canterbury, at London, A.D. 1016. He first surrounded the throne with regular guards, called Thing-men, for whose government he compiled a set of rules still extant. The king himself having violated one of them in a transport of passion, by slaying a private soldier, assembled the whole corps, and having referred to the law prohibiting such excesses, acknowledged his crime, descended from the throne, and demanded punishment. The Thing-men were silent, and being urged, on a promise of perfect impunity, to state their sentiments, they left the decision to the king, who adjudged himself to pay 69 talents of gold, more than nine times the ordinary pecuniary mulct in such a case.
The Scots refused homage to this prince, because he had not obtained the crown of hereditary descent; but on his assembling an army to assert his claims, they submitted: shortly after which occurred the memorable effort of his courtiers to persuade him, that the monarch of six powerful nations—England, Scotland, and Wales, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden,—could command the ocean tide to retire from his feet. Having convinced them of their folly, by making the experiment, he took the crown from his head, it is said, and placed it on the great cross in the cathedral of Winchester, refusing ever after to wear it, even on occasions of public ceremony.
At the coronation of HAROLD I., who in fact usurped the throne in the absence of the legitimate claimant, Hardicanute, Egilnoth, archbishop of Canterbury, refused the episcopal benediction. He placed the royal insignia on the altar, and addressing the king and his surrounding prelates, said, "There are the crown and sceptre which Canute intrusted to my charge. To you, I neither give nor refuse them, you may take them if you please; but I strictly forbid any of my brother bishops to usurp an office, which is the prerogative of my see."
EDWARD THE CONFESSOR'S name is attached to too much of the Regalia, to allow us to overlook his accession to the throne. He was crowned at Winchester, A.D. 1042, on Easter day; and being a Saxon, was hailed by the people as a native prince. The archbishop, Eadsius, read to him a long exhortation on the duties of a sovereign, and closed by reminding him of the paternal government which England enjoyed under his predecessors in the Saxon line. All our early historians dwell with great zeal on the manner in which he fulfilled these duties. He was "the good king Edward," for whose "laws" the people were always anxious, when under the subsequent despotism of the Normans, they found an opportunity of expressing their desires; and his reign, forming an interval between the Danish and Norman Conquest, was long remembered as an era of deliverance from foreign thraldom. It is principally from these feelings, that historians account for the crown itself wearing for so many ages the name of St. Edward's—St. Edward's staff, as it is called, being carried before our monarchs at their coronation, &c. The people literally applied to him that celebrated maxim of our constitution, the king can do no wrong; for, although his reign was chequered by many internal commotions, on his ministers and not on himself, was the blame uniformly cast.
This prince, however, seems to have committed a pious fraud on his good people. Being importuned by his council to marry, he espoused the daughter of the powerful Earl Godwin; to whom he privately disclosed a vow of perpetual continence under which he had bound himself: but offered to raise her to the regal seat (and she was accordingly publicly crowned as queen), on condition that he should be allowed without molestation to observe his vow. She is represented by our historians as a very learned lady.
The coronation of the unfortunate HAROLD II. took place on the day of the funeral of his predecessor—a striking proof of the importance attached to this ceremony at that period. But William, Duke of Normandy, having previously extorted from him an oath of fealty, protested from the first against his consecration, and in the memorable battle of Hastings caused him to pay the penalty of his life for the momentary honour.
At this point of our progress through the history of these ceremonies, it will be interesting to review briefly the political character of the Anglo-Saxon cyning or king. The rites in question will always derive the greatest illustration from being considered as the reflected light of ancient opinions respecting the monarchy.
The eorl and ceorl were the great distinctive appellations of noble and ignoble descent: none were or are admitted, it will be seen, to any important office in the coronation ceremonies but the former class. They were said to be "ethel-born," and every member of the royal family was an "etheling," or son of the noble, emphatically. Ere Christianity dispelled the fables of divine descent, the pedigree of the monarch was always to be traced to Woden, and after the demi-god was no longer revered, the first of earthly families and "full-born" blood was seen in him.
Yet our Anglo-Saxon ancestors unquestionably chose the identical member of the family whom they would acknowledge as king: the witan regularly assembled on the death of a monarch, and proceeded to the election of his successor.
"The Saxons could not comprehend," says Mr. Lingard, "how a freeman could become the dependent of another, except by his own consent: but the election rendered the cyning the lord of the principal chieftains, and through them of their respective vassals."
His revenue, derived from the fines and amercements known to the Anglo-Saxon law for crimes of every description—from territory obtained by conquest, or forfeited by treason—and from those gross bargains for obtaining the king's peace, which were only exceeded by those which purchased at this time, what was called "the peace of God," (both being an exemption for certain days, or in certain places, from the pursuit of every enemy or claimant), was far larger than that of the most powerful of the nobles who were, in fact, his feudal tenants, in whatever portion of lands they possessed. Thrice in the year this proud muster-roll of noble tenants was examined, i.e. at the festivals of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide, where they appeared before the monarch in all the pomp of state. A sort of coronation scene was at this time exhibited. The nobles renewed their homage to the monarch, who received them at once as his guests and dependents—seated on his throne, with a crown on his head, and a sceptre in each of his hands. Public officers were at this time appointed, laws, on some occasions, enacted, while for eight days it was forbidden for any man to slay, maim, or assault his enemy, or to distrain upon his debtor's lands. The return of these festivals has sometimes been mistaken by our historians for a repetition of the coronation, strictly so called.
The monarch exercised, as at the present time, a supreme command over the national forces. He consulted the witan, but he himself determined on, and proclaimed war or peace. He was also, as now, the supreme judge, and received appeals in person, from all the ordinary courts of judicature: the ealdormen, sheriffs, and other officers of those courts, holding their appointments at his pleasure. The intelligent reader will thus find the substantial duties of the royal office as remarkably similar at this distant period with its present functions, as the pageant of a coronation can be uniform.
WILLIAM I. may be said to have been crowned in character as a conqueror. Christmas-day 1066, being appointed for his coronation, at Westminster, he was surrounded by his Norman barons, and a full attendance of the English nobles and prelates—when Aldred, archbishop of York, put the questions of the Recognition to his new subjects; and the bishop of Constance, who was in his train, to the Normans, The assent of both nations was given with loud acclaim. So boisterous, indeed, was their loyalty at this part of the ceremony, that the Norman soldiers of William, on the outside of the Abbey church, affected to consider the shouts as the signal of insurrection, and immediately set fire to the houses of the neighbourhood (a singular remedy for riot), and began the congenial work of plunder, to the great mortification of the king. All now became confusion in the interior of the Abbey: the Norman barons prepared for battle; the native nobles regarded themselves as victims selected for slaughter, and the king is said to have been left alone, with the ecclesiastics, to conclude the ceremony. That the shouts were but the pretext for a preconcerted attack and plunder of the people, appears but too clearly from the subsequent remonstrance of the king with the barons, whom he warned against the certain result of oppressing the English; while he strictly prohibited the soldiers from appearing at taverns, or molesting the private abodes of the citizens; and appointed a commission to enforce his regulations.
Matilda, duchess of Normandy, was not brought into England until William had fully subdued his refractory subjects—when, on Whit Sunday, 1068, she was crowned queen at Winchester, by the archbishop of York.
WILLIAM RUFUS, though a second son, was the Conqueror's favorite, and duly elected his successor by the prelates and barons of England. His coronation, as it was principally procured by the influence of the church, was conducted with great splendour by Lanfranc, archbishop of Canterbury, at Westminster, 20th Sept, 1087.
Of this prince the Saxon Chronicle furnishes an anecdote, of which the naval excursions of his present Majesty are calculated to remind us. While hunting in the New Forest he received intelligence of the defeat of his Norman forces by Helie de la Fleche—and would hardly suffer the messenger to conclude his tale, ere he exclaimed, "Let those that love, follow me;" and rode immediately toward the sea shore. He leaped into the first vessel that presented itself: the master remonstrating that the weather was very stormy, and the passage perilous in such a bark, "Hold thy peace," said William, "kings are never drowned."
HENRY I., who was near his brother at the time of his death in the New Forest, hastened to Winchester to secure the royal treasures. So precipitate was the prince on this occasion, as to neglect all care for the decent interment of William, whose body was carried in a cart to the royal city, and without any religious rites interred in the cathedral. The treasurer of his predecessor seems to have been more respectful to his memory. He ventured to tell Henry that he held the money for the rightful heir, his brother Robert; and blood would have been shed but for the interference of the surrounding nobles, who overcame the scruples of the minister. Having obtained possession of the royal castle and treasures, Henry proceeded to Westminster, where on the third day after his brother's death he was crowned by the bishop of London, the see of York being vacant, and Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury, abroad.
This was the first of our monarchs who thought it needful to strengthen the attachment of his subjects to him by a formal charter; which seems in some measure to have been regarded as a condition of his election to the crown. It was, at any rate, promulgated on the day of the coronation, and is a document of no small historical importance, as professing to abolish all the grievances that had been introduced by the Norman princes, and to restore the laws of Edward the Confessor. We can only notice a few of its items. 1. The people were exempted from all taxes which they had not paid under their Saxon rulers; and the venders of base or light coin were to be punished with severity. 2. The church was reinstated in all her ancient rights, and the king engaged never to sell or farm vacant benefices, or to retain their revenues for the use of his exchequer. 3. He granted to all the barons and immediate vassals of the crown (requiring them to make the same grant to their respective tenants) the right of a free disposal of personal property: that for breaches of the peace they should not be placed as heretofore at the king's mercy, but be adjudged to pay the sums prescribed by the Saxon law; that their heirs should pay the customary reliefs for the livery of lands, and not the arbitrary compensations which had been exacted by his two predecessors; that the wardship of minors, and the custody of their lands, should be committed to their nearest relations; that neither heiresses nor widows should be compelled by the king to marry, but the daughters and female relations of noble families should be given in marriage without any impediment being offered by the crown, or any fee being required for the exercise of such liberty. He at the same time granted a very beneficial charter to the citizens of London. Two queens of this prince were successively crowned.
STEPHEN was the fourth monarch in succession from the Conqueror who claimed the crown without an hereditary title. Any settlement of the government was preferred by well-disposed men to the anarchy that usually succeeded the decease of a feudal sovereign: and the promptitude of this monarch, and his former popularity in the country, united with the antipathy of the people to a female reign, gave him an easy access to sovereign power. He was crowned at Winchester, by the archbishop of Canterbury, Dec, 22, 1135; stipulating in the coronation oath that he would not levy the danegelt which his uncle had so frequently extorted, nor retain for his own profit the vacant benefices of the church, nor molest clerks or laymen in the possession of their woods or forests.
By a compact entered into with Stephen and the assembled barons, in the latter days of that prince, HENRY II., grandson of Henry I., succeeded to the throne, and was crowned at Westminster, Dec. 19, 1154, attended by a great concourse of foreign nobility. His queen received the royal unction on Christmas-day, 1158.
During the disputes between this monarch and the celebrated Thomas a Becket, we find the king adopting a singular expedient for strengthening and perpetuating the authority of his family—the coronation of his son Henry. Historians are divided as to his design in this ceremony; but a probable opinion is suggested by Mr. Hume, that when the thunders of the Vatican were every day expected to dissolve the ties of allegiance between Henry's subjects and himself, he was anxious by the new oaths of allegiance now taken, to secure their obedience, at least, to his family in the person of his son.
But in the manner of conducting this unique coronation he added new matter to the existing strife. It had long been esteemed a right of the metropolitan to anoint and crown the kings of England; and Becket had been diligent enough to procure the pope's letters prohibitory against the interference of any other prelate with his privileges on this occasion. The coronation however proceeded; the archbishop of York feeling no scruple in supplying Becket's place:—all the royal makings of a king were bestowed on the young prince, at Westminster, June 15, 1170, and his father waited upon him during the coronation feast, at table. It being remarked to the prince how great was the honour for him to be thus attended, he is said to have replied haughtily, "That he thought it no such great condescension for the son of an earl to wait on the son of a king."
This coronation also involved the father in a rupture with the court of France. Prince Henry had married a daughter of that crown, to which the omission of her coronation with her husband was in the highest degree offensive: the king of France entered the Norman territories of Henry in consequence, and it was not until that monarch had promised to supply the omission, and that the prince and princess should be together crowned by Becket, that either the French king or the primate were appeased. The ultimate issue of this circumstance, in the assassination of Becket, we have noticed in another part of this work. Hume remarks on the whole affair—"There prevailed in that age an opinion which was akin to its other superstitions, that the royal unction was essential to the exercise of royal power. It was therefore natural both for the king of France, careful of his daughter's establishment, and for Becket, jealous of his own dignity, to demand in the treaty with Henry some satisfaction on this essential point." The second coronation of the prince (in which his consort was duly associated) took place Aug. 27th, 1172.
Nor did the calamitous consequences of this event thus terminate. It seems to have sown deeply the seeds of ambitious discord in the family of Henry. The young prince, after a visit to France with his consort, formally demanded of his father some substantial share of the royal power with whose insignia he had been invested. The intrigues and civil commotions that followed, it is not within our plan to detail; but the conduct of his different children, instigated by the example of this unworthy first-born, eventually brought the parent to his grave.
The coronation of RICHARD I., is the earliest upon which our historians dilate. It took place September 3, 1189, at Westminster; differing in no material point from the modern ceremony. The archbishop is said to have solemnly adjured the king at the altar, "not to assume the royal dignity unless he were resolved to keep the regal oath." An infamous outrage on the unoffending and oppressed race of the Jews closed the coronation day in London, and was followed by equally cruel treatment of them in several large towns. They seem on this occasion to have tempted the cupidity, by appealing to the generosity and humanity of the court. Numbers of them came to the metropolis with presents for the young king, who forbade them, however, to appear at his coronation. In the evening a few of the richer Israelites endeavoured to pass into the hall of the palace; when they were repulsed, insulted, and pursued into the city. A report now spread that the king, regretting the unhallowed forbearance of his father toward this apostate race, had given orders for a general attack upon them. The populace quickly murdered the first that had appeared; they then attacked the houses of all the richer Jews, and after stripping them of every thing valuable, left them in flames. At York, five hundred of this hapless nation who had retired into the castle for protection, and eventually seized it from the governor, murdered their own wives and children, to prevent their falling into the hands of their enemies, and then despatched each other nearly to a man.
On the return of Richard from his romantic expedition to Jerusalem, in 1194, he is said to have been crowned a second time; "to put awaie, as it were, the reproofe of his captivitie." A solemn council was held at Nottingham, to review the affairs of the kingdom, and the conduct of his brother John during the king's absence; the last or third day being occupied in discussing the question, whether it were necessary that the king should be crowned a second time; the king voted in the negative, but his peers and prelates were of the contrary opinion, and the ceremony was accordingly performed at Winchester, by Hubert, archbishop of Canterbury.
JOHN was declared by Richard, on his death-bed, to be his legitimate successor: but the people being divided between his claims and those of Arthur, his nephew, a great council was held at Northampton, in which the nobles resolved unanimously on swearing fealty to him; and the coronation was ordered to take place at Westminster, 27th of May, 1199. The primate introduced the ceremony by a speech intended to maintain the claim of John. He observed, that all his auditors well knew the crown to be elective, and could only be held by the unanimous agreement of the nation with regard to the personal merits of the wearer: that it was the gift of the people, who chose generally from the members of the reigning family the prince who appeared most deserving of that honour. Such was the selection in the scriptural case of David, and others: and that having that day met to perform this important duty, they, on these principles, brought forward their future sovereign, John, earl of Montaigne, brother to the deceased king. John, who was present, signified his concurrence with these sentiments; and a few days afterwards, (June 7) we find a law published from Northampton in which he asserts, that 'God had given him the throne by hereditary right, through the unanimous consent and favour of the clergy and people.' The friends of Arthur made a faint resistance to the claims of John, as duke of Normandy, but that unhappy prince, we know, soon met an untimely death, by the means, if not by the dagger of his uncle.
This prince, having procured a divorce, on the pretext of consanguinity, from a wife to whom he had been married twelve years, negociated a new marriage in 1200 with the princess of Portugal. Ere his overtures, however, could be answered, he was by accident diverted to another choice. Isabella, daughter of the count of Angouleme, was a celebrated beauty of the day, who had been publicly promised and privately espoused to Hugh, count of La Marche. But John, in one of his visits to Normandy, became enamoured of her: and the lady found the crown of her new lover an irresistible recommendation. The princess of Portugal was disappointed, the count de La Marche enraged, and all Europe surprised at the event, when the monarch conducted his bride in triumph to Westminster early in the month of October, and assembled his peers for her coronation, on the 8th of that month. Hoveden represents king John himself to have partaken of the benediction on the occasion: some writers state, that he was a second time crowned.
Soon after this event, we have a formal demand of feudal homage made by John on William king of Scotland, with which the latter promised promptly to comply. The two monarchs met at Lincoln, and, on an eminence near that city, in the presence of the assembled nobles of both kingdoms, the king of Scotland swore fealty of life and limb to John—against all men, saving his own right. He, at the same time, is said to have acknowledged by a written document the feudal superiority of the English crown, to have engaged to keep the peace with its king and kingdom, and to have bound himself not to marry his son without the permission of John, as his liege lord. But this is a little inconsistent with another recorded fact—rising from his knees, he explicitly demanded of John the restoration of the three counties of Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmoreland, as the heir of his grandfather David, from whom he alleged them to have been unjustly wrested in the wars of Matilda and Stephen. The kind of homage rendered by the Scottish princes to the English crown, in this and succeeding ages, was always proportioned to the strength or weakness of the respective governments, and was hardly construed to mean the same thing during two successive reigns. On the whole, this singular interview seems to have been consented to on the part of the wily Scot, principally with a view to sound the dispositions of the new sovereign.
The profligate and pusillanimous John is well known to have exposed his own rights, and the liberties of his people, to all the evils of protracted civil wars, and foreign invasion. At the period of his decease, the capital and the southern counties were in the hands of Louis, king of France.
HENRY III., his son, had but just completed his tenth year when the title of a king descended to him. But his youth and innocence conciliated that regard to his person, which the conduct of John had long estranged from himself; the claims of Louis were disowned by the holy see; and the more powerful of the barons saw an object worth contending for in the direction of the young king's affairs. Ten days after the death of his father, (October 28, 1218), he was brought in procession to the cathedral of Gloucester, and crowned by the papal legate Gualo, assisted by the bishops of Winchester, Exeter, and Bath. It is remarked by the contemporary historians, that a plain circle of gold was used on this occasion in lieu of the crown, which had been lost with the other jewels and baggage of John in his passage across the wash near Wisbech. A proclamation was next day issued, lamenting the dissensions that had existed between the king's father and his barons, and promising, on the part of Henry, to bury them in oblivion. By the same instrument he commanded the tenants of the crown forthwith to appear, and do him homage; and enjoined upon all persons appearing in public, to wear a white fillet round their heads during the ensuing month, in honour of his coronation.
Henry was crowned a second time, on the final deliverance of his kingdom from the French invaders, i.e. in May 1220; by Langton, archbishop of Canterbury:—"all the estates and subjects of his realme," meeting him at Westminster—"to the end; it might be said, that now after the extinguishment of all seditious factions, he was crowned by the general consent."
At the late age of twenty-nine, a bride was provided for the young monarch: her father, who accompanied her to England, was only bishop elect of Valence; but the beauty of the queen seems in this case to have been the sovereign recommendation; and all the eloquence of the historian is exerted by Matthew Paris, in describing the ceremonies of her marriage and coronation. The nobility of both sexes, the clergy in their various orders, all the vassals of the crown and the citizens are assigned their several places and offices, with an amusing precision; nor does he forget the trumpet's clang, or the minstrel's pipe: the various banners that streamed in the procession; or the viands and wines of the banquet. Eleanor, the pride of the day, was a queen amongst beauties—the whole world, he says in conclusion, might be challenged to produce a spectacle equally glorious and enchanting.
This monarch rebuilt the whole of the abbey church at Westminster from its foundations; and was interred in the tomb out of which he had removed the bones of Edward the Confessor. At his funeral his successor was proclaimed by the earl of Gloucester; who, before the deceased king's body was covered, stept forward, and putting his hand upon it, swore fealty to the then absent prince.
EDWARD I., at this period returning to Europe from the Holy Land. He is said to have received the news of his father's death with those tears of sincere grief, which surprised some of his princely companions; and did not much appear to quicken his progress toward England. Being challenged to a tournament, by the count of Chalons, the exhortations of the reigning Pontiff could not induce him to forego the combat; he felt his honour, as the champion of the cross, at stake; and appeared in the lists at the appointed day, attended by a thousand knights. The trial of skill was converted into a deadly battle, in which the count seriously attempted the king's life; and out of which, the English only came victorious after a sanguinary conflict. Edward succeeded to the throne in November 1272; but did not arrive in England, until August 1274, when his first object was to receive, with his consort, Eleanor of Castile, the regal unction. He was crowned with this affectionate companion of his crusade, at Westminster, on the 19th; Alexander, king of Scotland, being present, and doing homage as a vassal of the English crown. Several of the orders for provisions required for the coronation feast, are preserved in Rymer, among which are, 380 head of cattle; 430 sheep, 450 pigs, 18 wild boars, 278 flitches of bacon; and 19,660 capons and fowls. Holinshed informs us, that there were five hundred horses "let go at libertie" on this occasion, "catch them that catch might." In Rymer we also read of a singular stipulation originally made by Richard I., that, whenever a king of Scotland should attend at the summons of the English king, to do homage, or service at his court, he should be attended, and provided for, by the bishop, sheriffs, and barons of each county, through which he came; 5l. per day being allowed for his expenses on the road, and 30s. per day so long as he remained at the English court, together with twenty-four loaves, four sexterces of the best, and eight of inferior, wine, four wax tapers, forty better, and eighty inferior, candles, two pounds of pepper, and four pounds of cinnamon. At this time, it appears, the Scottish party received regularly the 5l. a day, and purchased their own provision: Alexander's whole disbursement was 175l.
Edward, in the first year after his coronation, forbade the Jews to erect, or hold any synagogues in his dominions; to hold fiefs, or any free tenement; or to demand interest for the loan of money: at seven years of age they were to wear two pieces of woollen cloth, sown into their outward garment, and at twelve to be subject to a capitation tax of three pence, to be paid annually at Easter. Thus cut off from their ordinary modes of living, they had recourse to the clipping of money and other illegal modes of debasing the coin; and after trials, fines, and executions of the most oppressive and unjustifiable description, were finally banished the realm, A.D. 1290.
EDWARD II. ascended a throne that, by the energies of his father, had extended its sway over almost the whole island of Great Britain. At the period of his decease, Edward I. was prosecuting the conquest of Scotland, and left, according to Froissart, a solemn charge to his successor, "to have his body boiled in a large cauldron, until the flesh should be separated from the bones; that he would have the flesh buried and the bones preserved; and that every time the Scots should rebel against him, he would summon his people, and carry against them the bones of his father: for he believed most firmly, that as long as his bones should be carried against the Scots, those Scots should never be victorious." The young prince first visited the court of France, and married Isabella, the French king's daughter; whom he brought to England with her two uncles, and a magnificent train of foreign nobility, to participate in the splendors of their joint coronation, which was celebrated at Westminster, February 25, 1308. It was well attended also by the English nobility; but the king's marked preference for a personal favourite, (Piers Gaveston) was resented as a general insult. He appeared the sole dispenser of all the honours and favours of the day; for the promotion of his friends and dependents, the claims of inheritance and the precedents of former reigns were alike disregarded. Three days afterwards, the barons met in the refectory of the monks, at Westminster, to petition for the banishment of Gaveston, and thus began the unhappy differences between this monarch and his nobles, which resulted in his final deposition.
This involved the singular circumstance of the barons formally withdrawing their homage. The favourites of the king, against whom they had armed, being slain,—a parliament was called by the queen Isabella, and her paramour; which was opened by a long speech from the bishop of Hereford. He painted in strong terms the incapacity, and what he called the vindictive and treacherous disposition, of the king; and declared, that to liberate him from the confinement under which he was now placed, would be to expose to certain death, a princess, who, by her wisdom and courage, had been the salvation of the state. He, therefore, desired them to retire, and to consider, by the next morning, whether it were not better to deprive the father of the crown, and elect, forthwith, his son. On the following day this motion was carried by acclamation; the temporal peers, and many of the prelates, swore fealty at once to the young Edward: a bill of impeachment, containing six articles, was drawn up against the old king; and the reign of Edward of Carnarvon was declared to have terminated, and that of Edward of Windsor to have begun.
But the queen now affected great scruples and grief at these proceedings; declared her fears, that the parliament had exceeded its powers, and exhorted her son, it is said, to refuse the crown. On the ground of this delicacy of feeling, a deputation of both lords and commons was appointed to wait on the deposed monarch,—to give him notice of the election of his son; tender him back their homage, and "act as circumstances might suggest." Their measures are variously related by the partisans of the new and old king. They flattered and they threatened him; they exhorted him to show that greatness of mind, which could sacrifice a throne to the good of his people, and promised him an ample revenue and the indulgence of all his personal wishes, if he should freely resign the crown. At last he was brought, dressed in a plain black gown, into a room where the deputation had been arranged to receive him; and sir William Trussel, a judge, addressed him in these words: "I, William Trussel, procurator of the earls, barons, and others, having for this full and sufficient power, do render and give back to you Edward, once king of England, the homage and fealty of the persons named in my procuracy: and acquit and discharge them thereof, in the best manner that law and custom will give. And I now make protestation, in their name, that they will no longer be in your fealty, or allegiance, nor claim to hold any thing of you as king, but will account you, hereafter, as a private person, without any manner of royal dignity." Then sir Thomas Blount, the steward of the king's household, broke his staff of office, as is usual on the death of a king, and declared all persons once in his Majesty's service, to be discharged from their former duty.
On the return of the deputation, the new king was proclaimed in the metropolis by the heralds, in the following unprecedented form. "Whereas, sir Edward, late king of England, of his own good will, and with the common advice and assent of the prelates, earls, barons, and other nobles, and all the commonalty of the realm, hath put himself out of the government of the realm, and has granted and willed that the government of the said realm should come to sir Edward, his eldest son and heir, and that he should govern the kingdom, and be crowned king, on which account all the lords have done him homage; we cry and publish the peace of our said lord, sir Edward, the son, and on his part strictly command and enjoin under pain and peril of disherison and loss of life and member, that no one break the peace of our said lord the king. For he is, and will be ready to do justice to all and each of the said kingdom, both to the little and the great, in all things and against all men. And if any one have a claim against another, let him proceed by way of action, and not by violence or force."
At the coronation, February 1st, 1327, a similar assertion of the late king having resigned by his free-will, and with the consent of parliament, was made. The medal distributed during the ceremony, represented the son resting his sceptre on the heart of his people, within the motto, "Populo dat jura volenti;" having on the reverse a hand receiving a fallen crown, with the inscription, "Non rapit, sed recipit." The best comment on the "free-will" of the deposed monarch, appeared in his being murdered by the queen's party, in the course of the year following.
EDWARD III. married Philippa of Hainault, in 1327, on which occasion she was crowned at Westminster. She bore the king a son, the celebrated Edward the Black Prince, before he had reached his 19th year.
RICHARD II. succeeded his grandfather in 1377, being then in his eleventh year; and no coronation in our annals was more magnificent. The Liber Regalis, still preserved at Westminster, contains the ritual used on this occasion, and a record of the proceedings of the Court of Claims is also extant.
On the day after the death of Edward, this prince entered London in great state: triumphal arches were erected, conduits ran with wine, and the usual pageants of the coronation procession were displayed in the streets. Walsingham mentions in particular a turreted building, erected in the market of Cheap, out of which ran streams of wine, and at the angles of which, on the top, four young maidens of the age of the king were placed, dressed in white. On the approach of the sovereign, shreds of gold leaf were blown to him, and florins of paper were showered on his head!—such was what at this time was regarded as the "superior ingenuity of the merchants of Cheapside."
The progress through the city on the day preceding the coronation, (15th of July, 1377) was similarly distinguished. The king dined at the Tower, from which he came forth dressed in white garments, and placed himself under the escort of the mayor and citizens, who conducted him to his palace at Westminster. On the following morning he rose early, and, having received mass in his private chapel, came down into the great hall "arraid in the fairest vestments, and with buskins only upon his feet." The procession from Westminster Hall to the Abbey, was now marshalled in the usual order. While the litany was chanted the young prince lay prostrate before the altar, whence he was conducted to his throne on a platform in the centre of the nave. The entire ceremony of the coronation so much exhausted him, that he was borne back to the palace in a litter carried by knights. He soon, however, appeared at the banquet, where he created four earls and nine knights, and partook of a splendid though turbulent repast. The next morning a council of regency was formed, to exercise the royal authority, during the minority of the king. It is remarkable, that in the first parliament of this monarch's reign, we find the archbishop of Canterbury recommending the young king to the affection of his subjects, because he was not an elected sovereign, but the true heir and representative of their former kings.
On the 22d of January, 1382, this monarch espoused Anne of Bohemia, daughter of the late emperor Charles IV., and sister of Winceslaus, king of the Romans. As usual, she was crowned at the same period; and is said so entirely to have possessed, during the twelve years of her union with him, the affections of her husband and his people, as to be long remembered among the latter by the title of the good Queen Anne.
The tragic close of this prince's reign will never be forgotten while
—— ——"The hallowed crown Shall round the mortal temples of a king,"
or Shakspeare's celebrated "Richard II." be extant. The march of his successor, Bolingbroke, from Ravenspur to London, and the rapid increase of his followers from twenty men to sixty thousand, his peaceful entry into the metropolis, and ultimate possession of the kingdom, without striking a blow, have only been exceeded, in modern times, by the celebrated march of Napoleon from Cannes to Paris.
HENRY IV. challenged the crown partly by right of conquest. In his coronation, which took place on the 13th of Oct. 1399, he caused the sword which he wore when he landed at Ravenspur to be carried naked, on his left hand, by the earl of Northumberland. Froissart's description of "the progress" of this monarch we have before noticed.
Of HENRY V., Holinshed says, "This kyng, this man, was he whiche, (accordyng to the old proverbe) declared and shewed that honour ought to change maners: for incontinent after that he was stalled in the siege royall, and had received the crowne and sceptre of this famous and fortunate region, [he] determined with hymself to put on the shape of a new man, and to use another sorte of livyng, turning insolence and wildnesse into gravitie and sobernes, and wavering vice into constant virtue." It was this prince, our readers will recollect, who, while "the immediate heir of England," was committed into custody by the Lord Chief Justice, for disturbing the court in which he sat as judge, and who afterwards, when king, so nobly commended that officer's conduct. Shakspeare has a similar train of thought with the old chronicler.
——"Princes all, believe me, I beseech you, My father is gone wild into his grave; For in his tomb lie my affections; And with his spirit sadly I survive, To mock the expectations of the world, To frustrate prophecies, and to raze out Rotten opinion, which hath writ me down After my seeming. Though my tide of blood Hath proudly flowed in vanity till now; Now doth it turn and ebb unto the sea, Where it shall mingle with the state of flood, And flow henceforth in formal majesty."
Fabian gives a splendid account of the coronation of Katherine, the queen of Henry V. "upon whose ryght hande satte at the ende of the same table the archebyshop of Cauntorbury, and Henrye, surnamed the ryche cardynall of Wynchester. And vppon the lefte hande of the quene satte the Kynge of Scottes in hys estate, the wyche was served wythe covered messe, like vnto the forenamed byshoppes, but after them." "And ye shall vnderstande, that this feaste was al of fyshe." Each course had its "sotyltye," however, embodying the wit of other parts of the creation; as "a pellycane syttyng on his nest with her byrdes, and an ymage of saynte Katheryne holdyng a boke and disputyng with the doctoures, holdyng a reason in her ryghte hande, saiynge: 'Madame le roigne' and the pellycan as an answere, 'Ce est la signe et du roy, partenir joy, et a tout sa gent, elle mete sa entent,'—a sotyltye named a panter with an ymage of saynte Katheryne with a whele in her hande, and a rolle wyth a reason in that other hande, sayeng: 'La royne ma file, in ceste ile, per bon reson, aves renoun.'" &c.
HENRY VI. had the high honour of being solemnly crowned as king, both at London and in Paris—"in infant bands." In the ninth year of his age "he was leyde upon the high scaffold" in Westminster Abbey, "and that was covered all with red soy between the high autere and the quere. And he was set in his astate in the middes of the scaffold there, beholdynge the people all abowte sadly and wisely." The archbishop "made a proclamacion on the iiij quarters of the scaffolde, seyend in this wyse: Sirs, heere comyth Henry, kyng Henryes sone the Vth, on whos sowle God have mercy, amen. He homblyth hym to God and to holy cherche, askynge the crowne of this reame by right and defence of herytage; if ye hold ye pays with hym, say ya, and hold up handes. And than all the people cryed with oon voyce, Ye, ye. Having been crowned, he rose vp ayen and wente to the shryne; and there was he dyspoyled of all his bysshopp's gere, and arayd as a kynge in rich cloth of gold, with a crowne on his hede; which crown the kyng dyd doo make for hymself." The following account of the appearance of the champion at the coronation feast, will show the antiquity of the present observances. "Settynge at the mete the kyng kept his astate; and on the right hand sat the cardynall with a lower astate, and on the left hande satt the chaunceler and a bysshop of Fraunce, and no mob at that table. And on the righth hand of the table at that boord sat the barons of the V. portes. And so forth the clerkes of the same chauncery. And on the lefte hande of the hall sat the mayre of London with the aldyrmen. And so forth worthy cominers: and in the myddes of the hall sat the bisshoppes, justices, and worthy knyghts and equyers. And so they filled bothe the midde boordes of the hall. And upon a scaffold stoode the kynges herawdes of armes all the tyme with crownes on thyr hedes; and at the fyrst cours they came down from her scaffold, and they wente before the kynges champyon Sir Phelip Dymok that rode in the hall bright as saynte George! And he proclaimed in the iiij quarters of the hall that the kyng was a rightfull kyng and heyre to the crowne of Engelond: and what maner man that wyll say the contrary he was redy to defende it as hys knyght and hys chaumpion, for by that offyce he holdith his lande."
At Paris, in his eleventh year, this prince was "honourably accompanied to the church of our Lady, where he was anointed and crowned by the cardinal bishop of Winchester, after which he departed to the palace, having one crown on his head, and another borne before him." "But what should I speake," continues Grafton, "of the honorable service, the dayntie dishes, the pleasant conceytes, the costly wynes, the sweet armony, the musicall instruments which were seene and shewed at that feast, sithe all men may conjecture, that nothing was omitted that might be bought for golde, nor nothing was forgotten, that by man's wyt could be invented."
Our fourth EDWARD, like John, affected an elective right to the crown. What is now called the Recognition, being at this period what Burnet terms, "a rite of an election, rather than a ceremony of investing one, who was already king." "A question was asked of the people then present," says Fabian, "if they would admitte hym for their kyng and soveraigne lorde, the which with one voice cried Yea, yea."
RICHARD III. and his consort Anne, were crowned with great state at Westminster, 6th of July, 1483; there being an unusual concourse of nobility at this festival, according to Walpole, including three duchesses of Norfolk. Some preparations seem also to have been made for the appearance of his deposed nephew, Edward V., in the procession, but whether he in reality wore his "apparel and array" there, will ever remain, among "Historic Doubts." The circumstance of such an arrangement being publicly made, however, demonstrates the confidence of Richard in his own title. Lord Orford, who first brought forward the evidence of this singular arrangement, says, "Though Richard's son did not walk at his father's coronation, Edward V. probably did. I conceive all the astonishment of my readers at this assertion, and yet it is founded on strongly presumptive evidence. In the coronation roll itself, is this amazing entry: 'To lord Edward, son of late king Edward IV., for his apparel and array, that is to say, a short gowne made of two yards and three quarters of crymsyn clothe of gold, lined with two yards and three quarters of blac velvet, a long gowne made of six yards of crymsyn cloth of gold, lynned with six yards of green damask, a shorte gowne made of two yards and three quarters of purpell velvet, &c.' Let nobody tell me that these robes, this magnificence, these trappings for a cavalcade, were for the use of a prisoner. Marvellous as the fact is, there can be no doubt but the deposed young king walked, or it was intended should walk, at his uncle's coronation."
HENRY VII. was crowned "both in form and substance" on Bosworth Field. Grafton's remark is, "Lord Stanley took the crown of king Richard, which was found amongst the spoyle in the field, and set it on the erle's head—as though he had been elected king by the voyce of the people, as in auncient tymes past in divers realmes it hath been accustomed." This monarch, it is well known, endeavoured to strengthen the substantial claims of conquest by those of marriage with the daughter of Edward IV., and his own hereditary rights. To the people, he seems to have promised a joint coronation with "dame Elizabeth his wief," according to a "Little Devise" of his coronation at Westminster, which has reached the present times. But in point of fact, she did not appear there. Unwilling to lose the influence, Henry was still more determined not to appear to rely on the importance, of his matrimonial title: he did not, therefore, marry the heiress of the house of York, until after his coronation, and delayed to invest her with the diadem, until the 3d year of his reign. We have a fine description of her coronation in Mr. Ives' Select Papers relating to English Antiquities, to which we have already adverted.
No English monarch ascended the throne under happier auspices, or with more splendour, than HENRY VIII. "The ordre of the services" of this "high and honourable coronation" is given at great length by Hall: in which the disused custom of a progress through the metropolis constitutes no small part of the pageantry.
Katherine of Arragon appeared on this occasion, borne on a litter by two white palfreys, "apparelled in white satyn embroudered, her heeire hanging doune to her back of a very great length, bewtefull and goodly to behold, and on her head a coronate set with many rich orient stones." The entrance of the champion, and his challenge, are in the highest style of feudal pomp, and in strict accordance with the old mode of trial by combat. "The seconde course beyng served, in at the haule doore entered a knight, armed at al poyntes, his bases rich tissue embroudered, a great plume and a sumpteous of ostriche fethers on his helmet, sittyng on a great courser trapped in tissue, and embroudered with tharmes of England, and of Fraunce, and an herauld of armes before him. And passyng through the halle, presented hymself with humble reverence before the kynges majestie, to whom garter kyng of herauldes cried and said, with a loude voyce, Sir knight, from whence come you, and what is your pretence? This knight's name was Sir Robert Dimmocke, champion to the kyng by tenure of his enheritaunce, who answered the saied kyng of armes in effecte after this manner:—Sir, the place that I come from is not materiall, nor the cause of my repaire hether is not concernyng any matter of any place or countrey, but only this; and therewithall commanded his heraulde to make an O yes: then saied the knyght to the kyng of armes, Now shal ye here the cause of my commyng and pretence. Then he commaunded his owne herauld by proclamacion to saye: If there be any persone, of what estate or degree soever he be, that wil saie or prove that King Henry the Eight is not the rightfull enheritor and kyng of this realme, I, Sir Robert Dimmocke, here his champion, offre my glove, to fight in his querrell with any persone to the utteraunce."
The coronation of Anne Boleyn was distinguished by the appearance of "marvailous connyng pageauntes" in the city: all the Graces were seen on Cornhill; the Muses hailed her approach "in Cheap;" and the Cardinal Virtues (how are times changed!) paraded Fleet Street. At the banquet the king took his station, incog. in a little closet made out of the cloyster of St. Stephen's, on the right side of the hall.
We are informed by Burnet, that at the coronation of EDWARD VI. the office for that ceremony was revised and much shortened; there being "some things that did not agree with" the existing "laws of the land, as the promise made to the abbotts for maintaining their lands and dignities;" and "for the tedious length of the same, which should weary and be hurtsome, peradventure, to the king's majesty, being yet of tender age, fully to endure and bide out."—"The most material thing in it," he adds, "is the first ceremony, whereby the king being shewed to the people at the four corners of the stage, the archbishop was to demand their consent to it; and yet in such terms as to demonstrate he was no elective prince, for he being declared the rightful and undoubted heir, both by the laws of God and man, they were desired to give their good wills and assent to the same, as by their duty and allegiance they were bound to do." Yet 'King Edward's Journal,' preserved in the Appendix of this writer, says, "and it was asked of the people whether they would have him to be the king? Who answered, yea, yea." The young monarch did not, of course, understand the doctrine of his own "legitimacy" so well as his loyal courtiers.
MARY, our first queen regnant, was crowned at Westminster, Oct. 1, 1553, by Gardiner, bishop of Winchester; the archbishops of Canterbury and York being both involved in the rigorous persecution of the Protestants which had now begun. In Cheapside the chamberlain of the city presented her majesty with a purse containing a thousand marks of gold. It is somewhat remarkable, that with all the personal fondness of Mary for her husband, Philip of Spain, she should never have proposed his coronation, in any form: it would have been quite as regular and constitutional, we imagine, as that of a queen consort, and much more so than many of her fruitless efforts to promote his influence and authority over her subjects.
Queen ELIZABETH, according to the usual custom, resorted to the Tower at the death of her sister. Every part of her conduct, until finally established in the most unbounded sway over the hearts of her people, is from this moment interesting. On entering the Tower she is said to have been immediately impressed with the important change that had taken place in her condition since she was imprisoned in that fortress, and in constant danger of her life. She went on her knees in gratitude to Heaven, and spoke of her deliverance being as great as that of Daniel from the lions' den: an "act of pious gratitude," says Hume, "which seems to have been the last circumstance in which she remembered any past hardships or injuries." Cautious and temperate as she was in the restoration of Protestantism, the prelates almost entirely refused to grant her episcopal consecration. At length, Oglethorpe, bishop of Carlisle, was prevailed upon to officiate—but he was the only bishop present.
Whether the solemn presentation of the Bible to the sovereign, at his coronation, was an improvement upon the pageant in which an English Bible was presented to this princess during her progress through the city (see p. 60), or at which of our Protestant coronations it was introduced, we know not. It clearly is a Protestant and most appropriate symbol of the royal duty, and of the best means of performing it.
In her first communication with her parliament, there is an allusion of this princess to one part of the coronation ceremony, which we must not omit to notice. The Commons, after granting a liberal subsidy, ventured to recommend the queen to marry. In reply she told them, that as the application was general, without presuming to direct her choice as to a husband, she could not take offence at it; but that any further interposition on their parts would have ill become them to make, or her to bear: that even while she was a private person, and exposed to much danger from the malice of her enemies, she had always declined that engagement, as an encumbrance; much more at present must she persevere in that sentiment, when the charge of a great kingdom was committed to her, and her life ought to be devoted to its interests: that as England was her husband, wedded to her by this pledge (and here she exhibited her finger with the CORONATION RING upon it), Englishmen were her children; and while she was employed in rearing or governing such a family, she could not deem herself barren, or her life useless and unprofitable: that if she ever entertained thoughts of changing her condition, the care of her subjects' welfare would be uppermost in her thoughts; but should she live and die a virgin, she doubted not but divine Providence, seconding their counsels and her own measures, would be able to prevent all dispute with regard to the succession;—and that, for her part, she desired no higher character or fairer remembrance of her should be transmitted to posterity, than to have this inscription engraved on her tombstone, "Here lies Elizabeth, who lived and died a maiden queen!"
The accession of JAMES I. to the throne was distinguished by nothing remarkable connected with our subject, except the numerous creations of peers and other titles. He is said, during the first six weeks after his entrance into the kingdom, to have bestowed knighthood on 237 persons. It was at this period that an advertisement was affixed to the door of St. Paul's cathedral, offering to teach a new art of memory, to enable the people to recollect the names of the additions to the nobility.
There has been a recent publication of Sir Edward Walker's "Account of the Preparations for the Coronation of King CHARLES II.;" but his "minute detail" adds nothing important to the history of that splendid ceremony, unless we so account the "double felicitie" of the prince and people, "that as hee was the object of innumerable multitudes of his subjects, so by no accident from Towre-Hill to his own palace, no one suffered the least prejudice; and that the sunne shined gloriously all that day and the next until after his coronation, not one drop of raine falling in all that time, as very much had done at least ten dayes before, and as many after those two great solemnityes."
Sandford, the "most dutiful author and collector" of the details of JAMES II.'s coronation, has furnished the only complete text-book of our subject. Mr. Taylor, and all subsequent writers, follow him throughout the entire ritual of the church service, and in "every thing relating to practice." In an address to "the King," he speaks of "the pomp, the dignity, and the many glorious circumstances which accompany this matter and occasion," "being such as would endanger the tempting of another man to swell a dedication to the bulk of a History;" and dilates upon "the boundless antiquity of the imperial descent," with the splendour, "both in war and peace," of the kingly progenitors of His Majesty—not forgetting the "series of miracles," which he asserts to have been still following in that descent, and to have been specially "wrought in favour of His Majesty's life and government." "If I should presume to follow the impulse of my zeal," he adds, "I should enlarge myself upon this theme; but being conscious, that it is as little my faculty as it is my province, and that long importunities from a subject to his sovereign are neither good discretion nor good manners; I will take care not to be needlessly troublesome, by being over officiously thankful," &c. This is modest enough for the introduction of a folio on the royal occupations of one day.
The book describes the preparations for the coronation, the performances, and the subsequent claims arising out of the performances of the day: but it is as stiff and stately throughout as in the dedication. Omitting no one Christian name of a dowager peeress, nor of any "individual person who went in the grand proceeding," nor even of "such who ought to have gone," it furnishes not a single personal anecdote of the day, nothing that stirs our sympathies: the king is a sort of demi-god, "most high, most mighty, and most excellent," and his nobles a number of well ordered automata moving round him. They speak all the day "out of a book held before" them. Nothing is heard, even at dinner, but grace and defiance from the bishop and champion.
Something human, however, appears in their appetites. In the Journal of Preparations, we find His Majesty's pleasure declared in council, that "a particular account" should be obtained "of the dinner kept in Westminster Hall, at the coronation of His Majesty King Charles II., as also that provided at the coronation of his royal father; together," gentle reader, "with the whole expense and charge of the said dinners." And we accordingly find the feet and inches of the royal table of Charles II. duly given; the courses of meat, hot and cold, and the dishes in each course; as likewise the orders of the "banquet," served in plate, on each of the tables of the Hall: that term (our future commentators on Shakspeare must observe) being confined to the "confections dried and wet, with fruit of the season." In another minute of council is a recommendation that there "be provided a magnificent table for their Majesties in the nature of an ambigue; but with two courses, in regard to the ceremonies that are to be performed at the second course." On turning to our books to understand this method of good living, we were somewhat startled to find the following contradictory recommendation, quoted by Johnson, from an old Art of Cookery:—
When straitened in your time, and servants few, You'd richly then compose an ambigue, Where first and second course, and your desert, All in one single table have their part.
St. George's day, in 1684-5, was happily chosen for the ceremony; and a letter of summons, which seems to constitute the actual right of appearing at a coronation, was ordered to be drawn up by the Earl of Sunderland. This document, the form of which continues to be followed, runs thus:—