ETC. ETC. ETC.
PRINTED BY J. MOYES, GREVILLE STREET.
SELECT AND INTERESTING
ENGLISH CORONATION CEREMONIES
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BY GILES GOSSIP, ESQ.
"In pensive thought recal the fancied scene, See Coronations rise on every green."—POPE.
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PRINTED FOR ROBERT JENNINGS,
IN THE POULTRY.
A letter with a dot over it, is denoted in the following way ẏ Superscripts are denoted by a carat ^ ]
The coronation of our monarchs presents a wide field of meditation to an intelligent eye. It is an epitome of the genius of the monarchy, and a miniature exhibition of the leading events of our annals.
Connected, in point of fact, with the first establishment of Christianity in this island, it also perpetuates some of the earliest British notions of public liberty; and while it confirms the hereditary claims of each succeeding prince, it is introduced by a recognition of some of the most ancient rights of the people,
"Mighty states, characterless, are grated To dusty nothing,"
says that great dramatist who has so largely alluded to English coronations in his historical plays. These ceremonies exhibit the character of each constituent portion of the political body from age to age; and are chiefly valuable, perhaps, as preserving a chain of national identity, unbroken by conquest, or by civil war; by changing dynasties, or the most important revolutions of the empire: on the other hand, they present to us a vast variety of character and events.—They are associated with the gloom, "the dim religious light" of Anglo-Saxon history, with the stormy character of the Conquest and the Norman domination; they bring before us the lofty Plantagenet, the proud Tudor, and the tyrannical but unfortunate House of Stuart, in all the pomp, and strife, and vanity of their respective pretensions.
But the general reader will require a clue to this symbolical kind of instruction: a companion to his recollections of such an exhibition, which, without destroying the vividness and pleasure of the pageantry, shall connect its objects with the march of history, the advance of civilization, and the final settlement of our laws and liberties. "To converse with historians," says an accomplished writer, "is always to keep good company;" while, "to carry back the mind in uniting and to make IT old," is the one great difficulty which Lord Bacon points out in the study of history. Every effort, therefore, to smooth this difficult path, and to introduce the rising generation to such company, will be properly appreciated by the anxious and intelligent parent; and such is the design of this little volume. It is the especial business of the historian, certainly, to instruct; but the more he can keep alive our interest without flattering either our passions or vices, the more effectually will he accomplish his great object, and swell the train of the votaries of truth.
Sec. 1. ANECDOTES OF THE REGALIA AND ROYAL VESTMENTS.
"History—the picture of man—has shared the fate of its original. It has had its infancy of Fable; its youth of Poetry; its manhood of Thought, Intelligence, and Reflection."—ANON.
No. 1. The Regal Chair.
The Regalia of England are the symbols of a monarchical authority that has been transmitted by coronation ceremonies for upwards of ten centuries. But the incorporation of England, Scotland, and Ireland, into one united kingdom,—an event peculiar to the coronation of George IV, to have recognised,—has connected the history of the Imperial Regalia with some tales of legendary lore, the truth of which, if this circumstance does not demonstrate, be assured, gentle reader, nothing will. Irish records are said to add at least another thousand years of substantial history to the honours of that solid regal seat, or coronation chair, in which our monarchs are both anointed and crowned: while some of our own "honest chroniclers" assign to it a still more marvellous antiquity.
Holinshed gives us the history of one Gathelus, a Greek, who brought from Egypt into Spain the identical stone on which the patriarch Jacob slept and "poured oil" at Luz. He was "the sonne of Cecrops, who builded the citie of Athens;" but having married Scota, the daughter of Pharaoh, he resided for some time in Egypt, from whence he was induced to remove into the West by the judgments pronounced on that country by Moses. In Spain, "having peace with his neighbors, he builded a citie called Brigantia (Compostella)," where he "sat vpon his marble stone, gave lawes, and ministred justice vnto his people, thereby to maintaine them in wealth and quietnesse," And "Hereof it came to passe, that first in Spaine, after in Ireland, and then in Scotland, the kings which ruled over the Scotishmen received the crowne sittinge vpon that stone, vntill the time of Robert the First, king of Scotland." In another part of his "Historie of Scotland," Holinshed mentions king Simon Brech as having transmitted this stone to Ireland, about 700 years before the birth of Christ, and that "the first Fergus" brought it "out of Ireland into Albion," B.C. 330. One important property of this stone should not be unnoticed. It is said, by the writers from whom the foregoing particulars are derived, to furnish a test of legitimate royal descent; yielding an oracular sound when a prince of the true blood is placed upon it, and remaining silent under a mere pretender to the throne. We heard various joyful acclamations on the recent "royal day;" but (perhaps from that very circumstance) could not distinguish the sound in question.
Apart from these legends, the real history of the [Saxon: hag-fail], or Fatal Stone, is curious; and has induced the learned Toland to call it "the antientest respected monument in the world." It is to be traced, on the best authorities, into Ireland; whence it had been brought into Scotland, and had become of great notoriety in Argyleshire, some time before the reign of Kennith, or A.D. 834. This monarch found it at Dunstaffnage, a royal castle, enclosed it in a wooden chair, and removed it to the abbey of Scone, where for 450 years "all kingis of Scotland war crownit" upon it; or "quhil y^e tyme of Robert Bruse. In quhais tyme, besyde mony othir crueltis done be kyng EDWARD Lang Schankis, the said chiar of merbyll wes taikin be Inglismen, and brocht out of Scone to London, and put into Westmonistar, quhaer it remains to our dayis."
An ancient Irish prophecy, quoted by Mr. Taylor in his learned "Glory of Regality," assures us, that the possession of this stone is essential to the preservation of regal power. It runs literally, "The race of Scots of the true blood, if this prophecy be not false, unless they possess the Stone of Fate, shall fail to obtain regal power." King Kennith caused the leonine verses following to be engraved on the chair:—
Ni fallat fatum Scoti quocunque locatum Invenient lapidem Regnare tenentur ibidem.
Thus given by Camden,
Or Fate is blind, Or Scots shall find, Where'er this stone A royal throne.
A prophecy which is said to have reconciled many a true Scot to the Union in Queen Anne's time; and which, since the extinction of the Stuart family, is remarkably fulfilled in the claims of the House of Brunswick,—George IV. being now the legitimate heir of both lines.
At or near a consecrated stone, it was an ancient Eastern custom to appoint kings or chieftains to their office. Thus we read in Scripture of Abimelech being "made king by the plain of the pillar that was in Shechem," (the earliest royal appointment, perhaps, of which we have any traces in history;) and of Joash having the "crown put upon him" while he "stood by a pillar, as the manner was." Subsequently, and among the northern nations, the practice "was to form a circle of large stones, commonly twelve in number, in the middle of which one was set up, much larger than the rest: this was the royal seat; and the nobles occupied those surrounding it, which served also as a barrier to keep off the people who stood without. Here the leading men of the kingdom delivered their suffrages, and placed the elected king on his seat of dignity." From such places, afterwards, justice was frequently dispensed.
"The old mun early rose, walk'd forth, and sate On polished stone, before his palace gate; With unguent smooth the lucid marble shone, Where ancient Neleus sate, a rustic throne."
HOMER'S Odyss. POPE'S Tr. [Greek: G]. 496—10.
Thus arises the name of our Court of King's Bench.
At the coronation of our kings, the royal chair is now disguised in cloth of gold; but the wood-work, which forms its principal parts, is supposed to be the same in which Edward I. recased it, on bringing it to England.
Shakspeare's RICHARD III. inquires—
"Is the Chair empty? Is the Sword unswayed? Is the King dead? The empire unpossessed? What heir of York is there alive but We?"
And the Earl of Richmond describes him, in admirable allusion to the foregoing facts, as
"A base foul stone, made precious by the foil Of England's chair, where he is falsely set."
[Footnote 1: See Toland; Sir J. Ware's Antiq. of Ireland, vol. ii. pp. 10, 124, &c.]
[Footnote 2: Called also by the Irish Cloch na cineaṁna, or, the Stone of Fortune.]
[Footnote 3: History of the Druids, p. 104.]
[Footnote 4: Chron. of Scotland, lib. i. cap. 2.]
[Footnote 5: P. 54.]
[Footnote 6: Judges ix. 6.]
[Footnote 7: 2 Kings, xi. 12, 14.]
[Footnote 8: Taylor's Glory of Regality, p. 31.]
[Footnote 9: Richard III.]
No. 2. Of the Crowns.
We, can only speak to the growth and antiquity of their present "fashion," none of those now used being of older date than the reign of Charles II. This monarch issued a commission for the "remakeing such royall ornaments and regalia" as the rebellious Parliament of his father had destroyed, in which "the old names and fashions" were directed to be carefully sought after and retained. Upon this authority, we still have the national crown with which our monarchs are actually invested called St. EDWARD'S, although the Great Seal of the Confessor exhibits him wearing a crown of a very different shape.
Whether the parent of our present crowns were the Eastern fillet, in the tying on which there was great ceremony, according to Selden,—the Roman or Grecian wreath, a "corruptible crown" of laurel, olive, or bay,—or the Jewish diadem of gold,—we shall leave to antiquarian research.
"This high imperial type of [England's] glory"
has slowly advanced, like the monarchy itself, to its present commanding size and brilliant appearance. From the coins and seals of the respective periods, several of our Anglo-Saxon princes appear to have worn only a fillet of pearl, and others a radiated diadem, with a crescent in front. AEthelstan's crown was of a more regular shape, resembling a modern earl's coronet. On king Alfred's there was the singular addition of "two little bells;" and the identical crown worn by this prince seems to have been long preserved at Westminster, if it were not the same which is described in the Parliamentary Inventory of 1642, as "King Alfred's crowne of gould wyer worke, sett with slight stones." Sir Henry Spelman thinks, there is some reason to conjecture that "the king fell upon the composing of an imperial crown;" but what could he mean by this accompaniment?
Gradually the crown grew from ear to ear, and then from the back to the forehead; sometimes it is represented as encircling a cap or helm, and sometimes without. William the Conqueror and his successor wore it on a cap adorned with points, and with "labels hanging at each ear;" the Plantagenets a diadem ornamented with fleurs de lis or strawberry leaves, between which were small globes raised, or points rather lower than the leaves; Richard III. or Henry VII. introduced the crosses; about the same time (on the coins of Henry VII.) the arches first appear; and the subsequent varieties of shape are in the elevation or depression of the arches. The maiden queen wore them remarkably high.
Blood's exploit with the new crown of Charles II. is told to all the young visitors at the Tower. It is only wonderful that, in that age of plots, no political object or accusation was connected with it. The beautiful dialogue which our great dramatist puts into the mouth of Henry IV. and his son, who had taken the crown from his dying father's pillow, we could willingly transcribe entire:—
"K. Henry. O foolish youth! Thou seek'st a greatness that will overwhelm thee. Stay but a little; for my cloud of dignity Is held from falling by so weak a wind, That it will quickly drop; my day is dim. Thou hast stolen THAT, which after some few hours Were thine without offence; and at my death Thou hast sealed up my expectation; Thy life did manifest thou lovedst me not; And thou wilt have me die assured of it.
"P. Henry. O pardon me, my Liege! but for my tears, (The moist impediments unto my speech,) I had forestalled this clear and deep rebuke, Ere you with grief had spoke, and I had heard The course of it so far. There is your CROWN— And He that wears the crown immortally Long guard it yours!—— Coming to look on you, thinking you dead, (And dead almost, my Liege, to think you were,) I spake unto the crown, as having sense, And thus upbraided it. 'The care on thee depending Hath fed upon the body of my father; Therefore thou best of gold art worst of gold; Other, less fine in carat, is more precious, Preserving life, in medicine potable: But thou, most fine, most honoured, most renowned, Hast eat thy bearer up!'"
It is the same prince who afterwards so well apostrophizes his own greatness:—
"O, be sick, great Greatness! And bid thy ceremony give thee cure. Think'st thou the fiery fever will go out With titles blown from adulation? Will it give place to flexure and low bending? Canst thou, when thou command'st the beggar's knee, Command the health of it? No, thou proud dream, That play'st so subtly with a king's repose, I am a king that find thee; and I know, 'Tis not the balm, the sceptre, and the ball, The sword, the mace, the crown imperial, The intertissued robe of gold and pearl, The farsed title running 'fore the king, The throne he sits on, nor the tide of pomp That beats upon the high shoar of this world; No, not all these thrice gorgeous ceremonies, Not all these, laid in bed majestical, Can sleep so soundly as the wretched slave."
[Footnote 10: In the Archaeologia, vol. xv. art. 24, is "A true and perfect Inventory of all the Plate and Jewells now being in the Upper Jewell House of the Tower, in the charge of Sir Henry Mildmay, together with an appraisement of them, made and taken the 13th, 14th, and 15th daies of August, 1649;" containing the following account of "crowns," &c. demolished:—
L. s. d.
"The imperiall crowne of massy gold, weighing 7 lb. 6 oz. valued at 1110 0 0
The queene's crowne of massy gold, weighing 3 lb. 10 oz. 338 3 4
A small crowne found in an iron chest formerly in the Lord Cottingham's charge, &c.:
The gold 73 16 8 The diamonds, rubies, sapphires, &c. 355 0 0 The globe, weighing 1 lb. 5 1/4 oz. 57 10 0 Two coronation bracelets, weighing 7 oz. (with three rubies and twelve pearls) 36 0 0 Two sceptres, weighing 11 oz. 60 0 0 A long rod of silver gilt, 1 lb. 5 oz. 4 10 8
"The foremencion'd crownes, since the inventorie was taken, are, according to ord^r of Parliam^t, totallie broken and defaced."
A second inventory, containing "that part of the regalia" found at Westminster, mentions "King Alfred's crowne of gould wyer worke, sett with slight stones, and 2 little bells, p. oz. 79 1/2, at L3. per oz., L248. 10s. 0d."]
[Footnote 11: See Sir Edward Walker's Account of "The Preparations for His Majesty's Coronation," &c. 8vo. Lond. First printed 1820.]
[Footnote 12: Taylor, p, 65. The Saxon Chronicle says of the Conqueror: "He was very worshipful. Thrice he bore his king-helmet every year, when he was in England: at Easter, he bore it at Winchester; at Pentecost, at Westminster; in midwinter, at Gloucester. And there were with him all the rich men over all England," &c.—Sax. Chron. 189, &c.]
[Footnote 13: The following is Hume's account of this memorable project:—
"A little after [his attempt to carry off the Duke of Ormond], Blood formed a design of carrying off the crown and regalia from the Tower; a design to which he was prompted, as well by the surprising boldness of the enterprise, as by the views of profit. He was near succeeding; he had bound and wounded Edwards, the keeper of the Jewel Office, and had gotten out of the Tower with his prey; but was overtaken and seized, with some of his associates. One of them was known to have been concerned in the attempt upon Ormond; and Blood was immediately concluded to be the ring-leader. When questioned, he frankly avowed the enterprise, but refused to tell his accomplices. 'The fear of death,' he said, 'should never engage him either to deny a guilt, or betray a friend.' All these extraordinary circumstances made him the general subject of conversation; and the king was moved by an idle curiosity to see and speak with a person so noted for his courage and his crimes.... Blood might now esteem himself secure of pardon, and he wanted not address to improve the opportunity."—Charles eventually pardoned him, granted him an estate of L500. per annum, and encouraged his attendance about his person. "And while old Edwards, who had bravely ventured his life, and had been wounded in defending the crown and regalia, was forgotten and neglected, this man, who deserved only to be stared at and detested as a monster, became a kind of favourite."—HUME'S England, CHARLES II.]
No. 3. The Sceptre
Is a more ancient symbol of royalty than the crown. Homer speaks of "sceptred kings"—[Greek: skeptouchoi basilees]; and the book of Genesis, "of far elder memory," of a sceptre, as denoting a king or supreme governor. There is a very early form of delivering this ensign of authority preserved in the Saxon coronation services; and the coins and seals of succeeding reigns usually place it in the hand of our monarchs. Very anciently, too, our kings received at their coronations a sceptre for the right hand, surmounted by a cross; and for the left, sometimes called the verge, one that terminated in a globe, surmounted by a dove. The two great symbols of the Christian religion are thus professedly embraced; but the monarch never appears with two sceptres except on this occasion.
[Footnote 14: Gen. xlix. 10.]
No. 4. The Ampulla, or Golden Eagle
And the "holy oil" which is poured from it, are connected, like the royal chair, with some of the miracles that no one now believes, and with some interesting historical facts.
Amongst the honours bestowed by the Virgin on St. Thomas a Becket, (according to a MS. in the Cotton Library,) he received from our Lady's own hands, at Sens, in France, a golden eagle, and a small phial of stone or glass, containing an unction, on whose virtues she largely expatiated. Being then in banishment, he was directed to give them in charge to a monk of Poictiers, who hid them in St. Gregory's church at that place, where they were discovered in the reign of Edward III., with a written account of the vision; and, being delivered to the Black Prince, were deposited safely in the Tower. Henry IV. is said to be the first prince anointed with these vessels.
"Holy oil" still retains its use, if not its virtue, in our coronations. The king was formerly anointed on the head, the bowings of the arms, on both shoulders, and between the shoulders, on the breast, and on the hands; but the ceremonials of the last two coronations only prescribe the anointing of the head, breast, and hands. In these, too, nothing is said of the "consecration" of the oil, which seems anciently to have been performed on the morning of the coronation.
Historically, the custom of anointing kings is to be traced to the times of the Jewish judges; the consecration of one of whose descendants, Abimelech (before noticed), connects the subject with the earliest and one of the most beautiful fables of the East—that of the trees going forth to anoint a king. Selden regards this fable as a proof "that anointing of kings was of known use in the eldest times," and "that solemnly to declare one to be a king, and to anoint a king, in the Eastern parts, were but synonymies." The elegant allusion to the olive tree, "honouring both God and man" with its "fatness" or oil, should not escape us, as corroborating this conjecture. This poem is dated by the learned antiquary "about 200 years before the beginning of the [Jewish] kingdom in Saul."
We have several instances in Scripture of the inauguration of the Jewish kings by anointing, and of its being performed at the express command of God—a circumstance which was held to communicate an official sanctity to their persons, their attire, &c. The noble David twice spares the life of his bitterest enemy, Saul, upon this ground.—"Jehovah shall smite him," he says; "or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into the battle, and perish"—"Who can stretch forth his hand against Jehovah's anointed, and be guiltless?"—and he finely alludes to the general reverence of his country for these appointments, when he exclaims, in his memorable ode over his fallen rival, "The shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though it had not been anointed with oil!"
With the spread of Christianity, or rather of the papal domination, over the kingdoms of western Europe, came the adoption of this rite into the coronation ceremonies of its princes. It at once increased the influence of the church, and surrounded the monarch with a popular veneration. The three distinct anointings yet retained (i.e. on the head, breast, and hands or arms,) were said by Becket to indicate glory, holiness, and fortitude: another prelate, one of the greatest scholars of his age, assured our Henry III., that as all former sins were washed away in baptism, "so also by this unction."
"Not all the water in the rough rude sea Can wash the balm from an ANOINTED king,"—
Richard II. is made to say, by Shakspeare, on the invasion of Bolingbroke. Sir Walter Scott, in his notes to Marmion, speaks of a singular ancient consecration of the kings of arms in Scotland, who seem to have had a regular coronation down to the middle of the sixteenth century,—only that they were anointed with wine instead of oil.
[Footnote 15: Sandford does not omit to notice, that the dean of Westminster, assisted by the prebendaries, duly performed this office for the coronation of James II., "early in the morning."]
[Footnote 16: Vide Judges, chap. ix.]
[Footnote 17: Titles of Honour, p. i, chap. 8.]
[Footnote 18: 1 Sam. x. 10; xvi. 1; 1 Kings, xiv. 15; &c.]
[Footnote 19: 1 Sam. xxvi. 9, 10.]
[Footnote 20: Selden's Titles.]
[Footnote 21: Marmion, 8vo. Note, p. 456.]
No. 5. The Royal Swords
Are named, Curtana, or the Sword of Mercy; the Sword of Justice to the Spirituality; the Sword of Justice to the Temporality; and the Sword of State. Of these the last alone is actually used in the coronation, being that with which the king is girded after his anointing; the rest are only carried before him by certain great officers. But Curtana has been honoured with a proper name since the reign of Henry III., at whose coronation it was carried by the Earl of Chester. It is a flat sword, without a point; looking to which circumstance, and to its being also entitled the Sword of Mercy, some etymologists have traced it to the Latin curto, to cut short; while other writers, among whom is the learned Mr. Taylor, would transfer our researches to the scenes of ancient chivalry, and the exploits of Oger the Dane, or Orlando, as affording the title to this appendage of the monarchy, "The sword of Tristan," says this writer, "is found (ubi lapsus!) among the regalia of king John; and that of Charlemagne, Joyeuse, was preserved to grace the coronations of the kings of France. The adoption of these titles was, indeed, perfectly consonant with the taste and feeling of those ages, in which the gests of chivalry were the favourite theme of oral and historical celebration; and when the names of Durlindana, of Curtein, or Escalibere, would nerve the warrior's arm with a new and nobler energy."
The Sword of Justice to the Spirituality is obtuse, that of Justice to the Temporality sharp at the point. "Henry VIII.," says a writer in a respectable periodical publication for July, "seems to have exercised his taste in endeavouring to abolish this discrepancy."
[Footnote 22: "Comite Cestriae gladium S. Edwardi, qui Curtein dicetur, ante regem bagulante," &c.]
[Footnote 23: Glory of Regality, p. 73, 4.]
No. 6. Of the Ring, Spurs, and Orb; and St. Edward's Staff.
In the book of Genesis we read of Pharaoh's ring being given by him to Joseph, as a method of investing him with power: and thus the Persian monarch Ahasuerus transferred his authority to Haman and to Mordecai. What is added in the Scripture narration of one of these latter cases will illustrate the significancy of this mode of investiture. "Then were the king's scribes called, on the thirteenth day of the first month; and there was written according to all that Haman commanded unto the king's lieutenants, and to the governors that were over every province—to every people after their language; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king's ring."
Of the golden ring with which our kings are invested, as "the ensign of royal dignity, and of defence of the catholic faith," there is yet another miracle of the coronation to relate. A certain "fayre old man" having asked alms of St. Edward the Confessor, he had nothing at hand to bestow upon him but his ring. Shortly after, two English pilgrims lost their way in the Holy Land, when "there came to them a fayr ancient man, wyth whyte heer for age. Thenne the olde man axed theym what they were, and of what regyon. And they answerde that they were pylgryms of England, and hadde lost theyr fellyshyp and way also. Thenne thys olde man comforted theym goodly, and brought theym in to a fayre cytee; and whanne they had well refreshed theym, and rested there alle nyhte, on the morne, this fayre olde man went with theym, and brought theym in the ryght waye agayne. And he was gladde to here theym talke of the welfare and holynesse of theyr kynge Saynt Edward. And whan he shold depart fro theym, thenne he tolde theym what he was, and sayd, 'I am JOHAN THE EVANGELYST; and saye ye vnto Edward your kyng, that I grete him well by the token that he gaff to me, thys rynge, with hys one handes.'"
By the exact mode that we have quoted from Scripture, do we find Offa, king of the East Angles, appointing Edmund as his successor; and with the ring, it is noticed, with which he had been invested at his own promotion to the royal dignity.
On the detention of James II. by the fishermen of Sheerness, in his first attempt at escape from this country, in 1688, it is particularly noticed in his Memoirs, "The king kept the diamond bodkin which he had of the queen's, and the coronation ring, which for more security he put into his drawers." The captain, it appeared, was well acquainted with the dispositions of his crew; (one of whom "cried out, 'It is father Petre—I know him by his lantern jaws;' a second called him an 'old hatchet-faced Jesuit;' and a third, 'a cunning old rogue, he would warrant him!') for, some time after he was gone, and probably by his order, several seamen entered the king's cabin, saying they must search him and the gentlemen, believing they had not given up all their money. The king and his companions told them that they were at liberty to do so, thinking that their readiness would induce them not to persist; but they were mistaken; the sailors began their search with a roughness and rudeness which proved they were accustomed to the employment: at last, one of them, feeling about the king's knee, got hold of the diamond bodkin, and cried out, with the usual oath, he had found a prize, but the king boldly declared he was mistaken. He had, indeed, scissors, a tooth-pick case, and little keys in his pocket, and what he felt was undoubtedly one of those articles. The man still seemed incredulous, and rudely thrust his hand into the king's pocket; but in his haste he lost hold of the diamond bodkin, and finding the things the king mentioned, remained satisfied it was so: by this means the bodkin and ring were preserved." Whatever may be our opinion of the conduct of the monarch, we cannot follow him into these scenes without compassion for the exile, whose family seems to have been born to demonstrate how much of our pity unfortunate princes may claim, apart from their personal worth.
This is said to have been originally a favourite ring of the beautiful but unfortunate Mary queen of Scots; to have been sent by her, at her death, to James I.; through whom it came into the possession of our Charles I., and on his execution, was transmitted by bishop Juxon to his son. It lately came into the possession of his present Majesty, through the channels by which he has obtained all the remaining papers of the house of Stuart.
Richard II. resigned the crown to Henry IV. by transferring to him his ring. A paper was put into Richard's hands, from which he read an acknowledgment of being incapable of the royal office, and worthy, from his past conduct, to be deposed; that he freely absolved his subjects from their allegiance, and swore by the holy Gospels never to act in opposition to this surrender: adding, that if it were left wholly to him to name the future monarch, it should be Henry of Lancaster, to whom he then gave his ring.
The SPURS are a very ancient emblem of knighthood; in later coronations, the abundance of ceremonies has only allowed time for the king's heel to be touched with them. At the battle of Crecy, when Edward III. was requested to send reinforcements to his son, his reply was: "No; tell Warwick he shall have no assistance. Let the boy win his spurs."
The ORB, or MOUND (Fr. monde), is an emblem of sovereignty, said to be derived from imperial Rome; and to have been first adorned with the cross by Constantine, on his conversion to Christianity. It first appears among the royal insignia of England on the coins of Edward the Confessor; but Mr. Strutt authenticates a picture of Edgar, "made in the year 996," which represents that prince kneeling between two saints, who bear severally his sceptre and a globe surmounted by a cross. This part of the regalia being inductive of supreme political power, has never been placed in the hands of any but kings or queens regnant. In the anomalous case of the coronation of William and Mary as joint sovereigns—the 'other world,' that Alexander wept for, was created; and the spare orb is still to be seen amongst the royal jewels of England!
The only remaining member of the regalia now in use is St. EDWARD'S Staff; but whether so called from any of the pilgrimages of the Confessor—from its being designed to remind our monarchs of their being but pilgrims on earth—or simply from its being offered with the other regalia at that monarch's shrine, on the coronation of our kings, we have not the means of determining. All the regalia are supposed, indeed, to be in the custody of the Dean, as the successor of the Abbot of Westminster, at the period of each coronation.
[Footnote 24: Esther, iii. 10, and viii. 2.]
[Footnote 25: Golden Legende (Julyan Notary, 1503).]
[Footnote 26: Battley's Antiq. St. Edm. Burgi, p. 119.]
[Footnote 27: Memoirs of James II., ed. by Clarke. 2 vols, 4to.]
[Footnote 28: Rot. Parl. iii. 417.]
[Footnote 29: Lingard's Hist. England, iii. p. 51.]
[Footnote 30: Strutt's [Saxon: Horda Angel-cẏnnan], v. ii.]
No. 7. The Royal Vestments
Of England are amongst the most gorgeous "makings of a king" known to history. In the robes ordinarily designed to be worn in Parliament; and consisting of a surcoat of the richest crimson velvet, and a mantle and hood of the same, furred with ermine, and bordered with gold lace, the king first makes his appearance on the Coronation day; (on which he wears a cap of state, of the same materials, and at this time only.) These are, therefore, called his Parliament Robes, in distinction from the Robes of Estate, for which he exchanges them in the Abbey, at the close of the coronation, and which only differ from the former in being made of purple velvet.
These sumptuous external robes are of course laid aside during the anointing, and other parts of the coronation service.
The ARMIL, or STOLE, is the only ecclesiastic symbol now retained in the investiture of our kings. In "MS. W. Y. in the College of Arms," quoted by Mr. Taylor, Henry VI. is said to have been "arrayed at the time of his coronation as a bishop that should sing mass, with a dalmatic like a tunic, and a stole about his neck." This writer insists that the conductors of our English coronations since Henry VII.'s time (at the least) have very singularly mistaken the Stole for the Armil of more ancient times, and transferred to the latter the form of delivery originally designed for "a BRACELET or royal ornament of the wrist." It is singular that the form in question should appear, as it certainly does, to suit either symbol. "Receive this armil as a token of the divine mercy embracing thee on every side." The ornament at present in use embraces the neck.
[Footnote 31: Glory of Regality, p. 81.]
[Footnote 32: These were (prudently enough, after the error hinted at,) the whole of the words used at the late ceremonial.]
Sec. 2. ANECDOTES OF THE DISUSED CEREMONIES OF THE CORONATION.
We regard the coronation ceremonies of England as presenting a bird's-eye view of our history; and particularly of the various claims and privileges—and changes—of the monarchical branch of the Constitution. Some of these ceremonies, as we have seen, had their origin in those remote periods in which every believer in Revelation must accord "a divine right" to the kings of Judea; others are connected with the ancient hero-worship of our Pagan ancestors; while a third class perpetuate certain feudal rights and customs, of which they form the only distinct remaining traces. Some, again, are memorials of the triumph of our princes over the liberties of the people, while others present the plainest proof of the noble and successful struggles of the people against the encroachments of the crown.
The RECOGNITION, with which the coronation, strictly so called, begins, is an elective rite, in which some of the more direct terms of appeal to the people are disused. Its title, "the Recognition," is of modern date. After reciting the coronation oath, a respectable writer of queen Elizabeth's time thus gives the "sum of the English coronation." "Then doth the archbishop, turning about to the people, declare what the king hath promised and sworn, and by the mouth of an herald at arms asketh their consents, whether they be content to submit themselves unto this man as their king, or no, under the conditions proposed; whereunto when they have yielded themselves, then beginneth the archbishop to put upon him the regal ornaments." Some of the questions anciently asked, accordingly, were, "Will you serve at this time, and give your good wills and assent to this same consecration, enunction, and coronation?"—To which the people answered, "Yea, yea." This was the form observed on the coronations of Edward VI., Henry VIII., and Henry VII. That of Henry VI.'s reign is curious. The archbishop made the "proclamacion on the iiij quarters of the scaffolde, seyend in this wyse: Sirs, heere comyth Henry, kyng Henryes sone the Vth, on whose sowle God have mercy, Amen. He humblyth hym to God and to holy cherche, askyng the crowne of this reame by right and defence of herytage; if ye hold y^e pays with hym say Ya, and hold up handes. And then all the people cryed with oon voyce, Ye, ye."
King John claimed the throne by "unanimous consent of the kingdom;" and the prelate of the day observed to the people that it was well known to them "that no man hath right of succession to this crown," except by such consent, and that "with invocation of the Holy Ghost, he be elected for his own deserts."
During the Norman reigns it is evident that the coronation oath was administered before the recognition, and then the archbishop having stated what the king had engaged to do, asked the people if they would consent to take him for their king? And of an earlier period, says Mr. Turner, "From the comparison of all the passages on this subject, the result seems to be that the king was elected at the Witenagemote, held on the demise of the preceding sovereign."
On the whole, what is left of this ceremony seems rather unmeaning. The people are addressed, "ye that are come this day to do your homage, service, and bounden duty, are ye willing to do the same?" A feudal "recognition," and feudal "homage," it is not for the people, but the prelates and peers to perform; the ceremony, however, establishes what our history will corroborate, the undoubted right of the people to interfere with, and limit the succession of their princes, on extraordinary occasions, while it is the peaceful and sound policy of the Constitution to keep as near to the hereditary line as the emergency of the times shall allow.
It was at Edward VI.'s coronation that the ancient form of receiving the king's oath, prior to the recognition, was first reversed.—See the Chronological Anecdotes.
Coronations were anciently regarded as a species of parliamentary meeting between the king and his subjects. Writs of summons issued for the coronation of Edward II. are preserved in Rymer, which require the attendance of the people by their "knights, citizens, and burgesses;" and which differ very slightly from the ordinary parliamentary writs. Selden observes that at the coronation of Henry I. clerus Angliae et populus universus were summoned to Westminster, "when divers lawes were both made and declared."
The coronation oath has undergone some remarkable changes. The oath of AEthelred II. dated A.D. 978, is extant both in Latin and Anglo-Saxon, and agrees exactly with that of Henry I. preserved in the Cotton Library—a proof, as Lord Lyttleton observes, that even at the Conquest it was thought expedient to respect this fundamental compact between the prince and people. In the reign of Edward II. it first assumed the interrogatory form in which it is now administered, and remained in substance the same until the accession of Charles I. In this reign Archbishop Laud was accused of making both a serious interpolation, and an important omission in the coronation oath—a circumstance which, on his trial, brought its introductory clauses into warm discussion. Our forefathers had ever been jealous of all encroachments on what some copies of the old oath call "the lawes and customes of the people," by "old, rightfull, and devoute kings graunted;" and others "the laws, customs, and franchises granted to the clergy, and to the people by the glorious king St. Edward, according and conformable to the laws of God, the true profession of the Gospel established in this kingdom," &c. They had even compelled the Conqueror to engage repeatedly that these ancient statutes of the kingdom should not be violated; a stipulation renewed expressly in the great charter of his son Henry I. Laud was charged with adding, after the clause last quoted, the words "agreeable to the king's prerogative;" and of omitting these words, "which the people have chosen or shall choose." Of the latter charge he soon disposed by proving there were no such words in the oath of James I.; and on the former he remarks, "First, I humbly conceive this clause takes off none of the people's assurance. Secondly, that alteration, whatever it be, was not made by me—'tis not altogether improbable [it] was added in Edward VI. or Queen Elizabeth's time; and hath no relation at all to the laws of this kingdom absolutely mentioned before in the beginning of this oath; but only to the words, 'the profession of the Gospel established in this kingdom:' and then immediately follows 'and agreeing to the prerogative of the kings thereof,'—If this be the meaning, he that made the alteration, whoever it were, for I did it not, deserves thanks for it, and not the reward of a traitor."
In James II.'s oath, as preserved by Sandford, and in which the precedent of Charles II.'s coronation was followed, we find both these alleged alterations!
On the accession of William and Mary it was enacted, that "as the [coronation] oath hath hitherto been framed in doubtful words and expressions, with relation to ancient laws and constitutions at this time unknown, and to the end that one uniform oath may be in all times to come taken by the kings and queens of this realm, and to them respectively administered at the time of their coronation," the oath, of which the following is a copy, should be taken by all succeeding sovereigns.
"Abp. Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the people of this kingdom of England [now, this united kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland,] and the dominions thereunto belonging, according to the statutes in parliament agreed on, and the [respective] laws and customs of the same?
King. I solemnly promise so to do.
Abp. Will you, to your power, cause law and justice, in mercy, to be executed in all your judgments?
King. I will.
Abp. Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the laws of God, the true profession of the Gospel, and the Protestant reformed Religion established by law? [Here was inserted, at the Union with Scotland, in 1707, And will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, [now the united church of England and Ireland] and the doctrine, worship, discipline and government thereof as by law established, within the kingdoms of England and Ireland, the dominion of Wales and the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed, and the territories thereunto belonging, before the union of the two kingdoms?] And will you preserve unto the bishops and clergy of England, and to the churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges as by law do or shall appertain unto them or any of them?
King. All this I promise to do."
We have some slight traces in the history of our Anglo-Saxon kings of the Gothic mode of royal inauguration by the elevation of their princes. Eardnoulf, the second of those monarchs whose coronation is mentioned by our historians, was Ahoen, lifted up to his royal seat, we are told by the Saxon Chronicle; and Athelstan received the royal unction at Kingston on a high scaffolding which exhibited him to the multitude. This custom is no further worth noticing, than as a pagan rite which was soon disused, on the direction of these ceremonies being assumed by the church: and as being probably the origin of the existing mode of chairing members of parliament.
Anciently the king knelt while receiving the sacred unction from the prelate of the day, who sat in his chair at the high altar: a deference to the priesthood which the kings of France retained to the period of the Revolution; and which the Roman Pontifical expressly requires. Since the Reformation our monarchs have also dispensed with "sprinkling the crown with holy water" and "censing it" before it is made use of in these important ceremonies—duties of the archbishop which are laid down in the Liber Regalis, of the dean and chapter of Westminster.
There seems to have been a double anointing of our kings at their respective coronations until the reign of James I. or Charles I.; that is, after the present use of the unction on the hands, breast, &c.; the chrism of the Catholic church was applied, in forma crucis, on the forehead. The distinct signification of this anointing we cannot discover, even after a late learned attempt to elucidate it. The sign of the cross, a symbolical acknowledgment of the Christian faith used in the anointing, we retain: but the two vessels, the eagle and vial of the ancient ceremonies (so intelligently provided by the Virgin; see our last section) establish the fact of a double anointing having at one time obtained.
But the most important ceremonies of the coronation which the superior economy, or superior intelligence, of modern times has taught us to omit, are the special creation of Knights of the Bath on this occasion, and the progress of the court from the Tower, through London.
The ancient and noble order in question was so far very appropriately connected with the assumption of a sovereignty partly feudal, as it formed one of the most splendid feudal distinctions. It was conferred with great solemnity, among the Franks and Saxons, long prior to the Conquest; at which period our first William is shown by Mr. Anstey, to have been in the habit of bestowing it both in his Norman and English dominions. The candidate for that honour was required to keep his vigils with great strictness, after a previous ablution from which the name of the order is derived, and which were together meant to indicate the moral purity required of him; as the motto "Tria juncta in uno" implied a peculiar devotion to the honour of the Holy Trinity.
The coronation of Henry IV. however, first brings it prominently into notice in our history. That prince, having compelled the unfortunate Richard II.
"With his own tears to wash away his balm, With his own hands to give away the crown, With his own tongue deny his sacred state;"
was anxious to give those "sun-shine days" to the people which should induce them to forget the stormy commencement of his reign. Froissart describes him as proceeding with great pomp from Westminster to the Tower, "on the Saturday before his coronation." This was at that time "the castle royall and cheefe howse of safetye in this kingdome." Hither, therefore, many of our princes repaired for security until "all things of royal apparell and pompe necessarye and proper" to the coronation could be arranged. "Those squires who were to be knighted watched their arms that night: they amounted to forty-six; each squire had his chamber and bath, in which he bathed. The ensuing day the duke of Lancaster (Henry IV.) after mass, created them knights, and presented them with long green coats, with straight sleeves lined with minever, after the manner of prelates. These knights had on their left shoulders a double cord of white silk, with white tufts hanging down."
Henry VI. created thirty-six knights on his coronation; Edward IV. thirty-two; and Charles II. sixty-eight. The marriages of the royal family, the birth of heirs to the crown, and the fitting out of military expeditions of importance, furnish other accessions to the order during this long period. After the reign of Charles II. this part of the ceremonial was omitted; and the order, in fact, discontinued until the accession of the House of Brunswick.
The princes of this august house, however, have not revived the custom of an extraordinary creation of knights as a part of the coronation ceremonies.
The other ancient and disused custom of a royal progress from the Tower to Westminster is a theme of admiration with several of our old chroniclers, and must have been a highly interesting and popular accompaniment of the royal pageant.
The monarch, ordinarily, dined at the Tower on the day after the creation of the Knights of the Bath; and devoted the greater part of the day, after dinner, to this prolonged exhibition of himself to the people. Charles II. dined at what is called an "early" hour, in the "account" of sir Edward Walker, i.e. nine o'clock in the morning, on this occasion.
Froissart thus gives us the progress of Henry IV. "The duke of Lancaster left the Tower this Sunday after dinner, on his return to Westminster: he was bare-headed, and had round his neck the order of the king of France. The prince of Wales, six dukes, six earls, eighteen barons, accompanied him; and there were, of knights and other nobility, from eight to nine hundred horse with the procession. The duke was dressed in a jacket of the German fashion, of cloth of gold, mounted on a white courser, with a blue garter on his left leg. He passed through the streets of London, which were all handsomely decorated with tapestries and other rich hangings: there were nine fountains in Cheapside, and other streets he passed through, which perpetually ran with white and red wines. He was escorted by prodigious numbers of gentlemen, with their servants in liveries and badges; and the different companies of London were led by their wardens, clothed in their proper livery, and with ensigns of their trade. The whole cavalcade amounted to six thousand horse, which escorted the duke from the Tower to Westminster."
Or, as Shakspeare brings every movement of a similar procession of this monarch before us,
"Mounted upon a hot and fiery steed, Which his aspiring rider seemed to know, With slow but stately pace, kept on his course: While all tongues cried, God save thee, Bolingbroke! You would have thought the very windows spake, So many greedy looks of young and old Through casements darted their desiring eyes Upon his visage; and that all the walls With painted imagery had said at once Jesu preserve thee! welcome Bolingbroke! Whilst he, from one side to the other turning, Bare-headed, lower than his proud steed's neck, Bespoke them thus; I thank you, countrymen; And thus still doing, thus he past along."
The coronation of Elizabeth the queen of Henry VII. includes one of the most splendid royal progresses on record. It will be recollected by our readers that this prince exhibited a strong personal reluctance to marry Elizabeth as well as to her subsequent coronation; although his union with her extinguished the bloody feuds of the houses of York and Lancaster, and bequeathed to posterity the invaluable boon of an undisputed succession to the throne. The Commons, in presenting him on his accession with the usual grant of tonnage and poundage, took the liberty to add their desire that he would "take to wife and consort the Princess Elizabeth, which marriage they hoped God would bless with a progeny of the race of kings," (de stirpe regum, the united race, perhaps, is meant). But it was not until a pretender to the throne had shaken the regal authority to its base, that, eighteen months after his marriage, he prepared for the coronation of his queen. A very superior modern historian thus expresses the feelings of the prince and people on this occasion:—
"From this insurrection [that which was terminated by the battle of Stoke] the king learned an important lesson, that it was not his interest to wound the feelings of those whose principles had attached them to the house of York. His behaviour to the queen had created great discontent. Why, it was asked, was she not crowned? Why was she, the rightful heir to the crown, refused the usual honours of royalty? Other kings had been eager to crown their consorts: but Elizabeth had now been married a year and a half; she had borne the king a son to succeed to the throne; and yet she was kept in obscurity, as if she were unworthy her station."
The orders which he now gave, therefore, for her public investiture with the royal dignity, were calculated fully to conciliate the popular feeling. On the Friday preceding her coronation fourteen gentlemen were created knights of the Bath, and on the same day "the queene's good grace, royally apparelled, and accompanyed with my ladie the king's mother, and many other great estates, bothe lordes and ladies, richely besene, came forward to the coronacion; and, at their coming furth from Grenewich by water, there was attending upon her there, the maior, shrifes, and aldermen of the citie, and divers and many worshipfull comoners, chosen out of every craft, in their levereyes, in barges freshly furnished with banners and stremers of silke, richely beaton with the armes and bagges of their craftes; and, in especially, a barge called the bachelor's barge, garnished and apparelled passing all other; wherein was ordeynid a great redde dragon spowting flames of fyer into the Thamess, and many other gentlemanlie pagiaunts, well and curiously devised to do her highness sporte and pleasoure with. And her grace, thus royally apparelled and accompanied, and also furnished in every behalf with trumpettes, claryons, and other mynstrelleys as apperteynid and was fitting to her estate roial, came from Grenewich aforesaid, and landed at the Toure wharfe, and enterid into the Toure; where the king's highnes welcomed her in such maner and fourme as was to all the estates and others there being present, a very good sight, and right joyous and comfortable to beholde."
Next day she went in procession from the Tower to Westminster, dressed in white cloth of gold of damask, with a mantle of the same furred with ermine. Reclining on a litter, she wore "Her faire yelow haire hanging downe plaine behynd her bak, with a calle of pipes over it;" and confined only on the forehead by a circlet of gold, ornamented with precious stones. An elegant canopy of cloth of gold was borne over her by four knights of the body; and immediately behind her rode four baronesses on grey palfreys. The streets on this occasion were "clensed, dressed, and beseene with clothes of tapestrie and arras; and some, as Cheepe, hanged with rich clothe of golde, velvet, and silke; and along the streets, from the Toure to Powles, stode in order all the craftes of London in their liveries; and in divers places of the citie were ordeynid singing children, some arayed like angelles, and other like virgins, to sing swete songes as her grace passed by."
Similar accounts are given by Hall of the progress of Henry VIII. and Catherine of Arragon through the city. "The streates were railed and barred on the one side; from over ageynst Grace churche unto Bredstreate in Chepeside, where every occupacion stode in their liveries in ordre, beginnyng with base and meane occupacions, and so ascendyng to the worshipfull craftes; highest and lastly stode the maior with the aldermen. The goldsmithes stalles, unto the ende of the Olde Chaunge, beeing replenished with virgins in white, with braunches of white waxe; the priestes and clerkes in rich copes with crosses and censers of silver, censying his grace and the quene also as they passed." The latter was borne on a litter by two white palfreys, trapped in cloth of gold.
Anne Boleyn's progress must not be unnoticed. Like Elizabeth's, it began with a voyage from Greenwich, and the creation of a due number of knights "bathed and shryven according to the old vsuage of England."—"The high stretes where the queene should passe were all graveled from the Toure to Temple barre, and railed on the one side; within whiche rayle stode the craftes along in their order. And before the quene and her traine should come, Cornehill and Gracious Street were hanged with fyne scarlet, crimson and other greyned clothes, and in some place with rich arras, tapestry, and carpettes, and the moste part of the Chepe was hanged with clothe of tyssue, golde, velvet, and many riche hangings whyche made a goodlie shewe."
Her connexion with the French court, it is to be supposed, suggested the appearance of "xii Frenchmen, whiche were belongyng to the Frenche ambassador," coming "fyrst" in her "company—in coats of blewe velvet, with sleves of yelowe and blewe velvet, and their horses trapped with close trappers of blewe sarcenet, powdered with white crosses." The French ambassador also rode before her.
At Gracious Church street was a costly and a marveilous connyng pageaunt, made by the merchauntes of the Styllarde, for there was the Mount Penasus, with the fountayne of Helycon, which was of white marble, and iiii streames, without pype, did rise an elle hye and mette together in a litle cuppe above the fountain, which ranne abundantly Racke and Rennishe wyne 'til night! On the mountaine satte Apollo, and at his feete satte Calliope, and on every side of the mountaine satte iiii Muses playing on several swete instrumentes, and at their feete Epigrammes and Poyses were written in golden letters, with the which every Muse, accordyng to her propertie, praised the Quene.—"At the conduite in Cornhill there were thre graces set in a throne; afore whom was the spryng of grace continually ronnyng—wine!" At the cross in Chepe, "Master Baker, the recorder, with lowe reverence, makyng a proper and briefe proposicion—gave to her, in the name of the citie, 1000 marks of golde in a purse of golde." This was the last time (we mean no reflection on its inhabitants,) that the Muses and Graces exhibited themselves on such an occasion in the city. Hereafter the zeal of contending religious parties in the state taught them to choose other emblems of their desires and anticipations.
Edward VI.'s progress exhibited Valentine and Orson, "in Cheap," at due distance from whom stood Sapience and the Seven Liberal Sciences, who "declared certaine goodly speeches," for the instruction of the young king. Various other allegorical personages harangued him by the way; but the most singular spectacle was that whereby "Paul's steple laie at anchor," as Holinshed expresses it. An Arragosen made fast a rope to the battlements of St. Paul's, which was also attached to an anchor at the gate of the dean's house; and descended upon it in the sight of the king and assembled populace, to the no small gratification of both.
His sister Mary was welcomed into the city by "one Peter, a Dutchman," who placed himself on the weathercock of St. Paul's, holding "a streamer in his hand five yards long;" occasionally kneeling down on the said weathercock, "to the great marvell of the people," and balancing himself sometimes on one foot and sometimes on another.
In her procession appeared "the ladie Elizabeth and the ladie Anne of Cleve;" the queen rode in a chariot of cloth of tissue, her sister following in "another chariot having a covering of cloth of silver."—"She sat in a gowne of purple velvet, furred with powdered ermins, having on her head a kall of cloth of tinsell, beeset with pearle and stone, and above the same, vppon her head, a round circlet of gold, beeset so richlie with pretius stones, that the value thereof was inestimable; the same kall and circle being so massie and ponderous, that she was faine to beare vp her head with her hand."
Holinshed is very garrulous on the progress of the Virgin Queen, although he singularly enough omits all details of the principal parts of her coronation.
"On Thursdaie the twelfe of Januari (1559), the queene's maiestie remooved from her palace at Westminster, by water, vnto the tower of London, the lord mayor and aldermen in their barge, and all the citizens with their barges decked and trimmed with targets and banners of their mysteries accordinglie, attending on her grace. The bachellers barge of the lord maior's companie, to wit, the mercers', had their barge with a foist trimmed with three tops, and artillerie aboord, gallantlie appointed to wait vpon them, shooting off lustilie as they went, with great and pleasant melodie of instruments, which plaied in most swete and heavenlie maner. Her grace shut (shot) the bridge about two of the clocke in the after noone, at the still of the ebbe, the lord maior and the rest following after her barge, attending the same, till her maiestie tooke lande at the privie staires at the tower wharfe."
"At her entring the citie" a variety of pageants were prepared to express the "praiers, wishes, and welcommings" of her loving people, which we cannot attempt to particularize. "If a man should saie well," remarks our chronicler, "he could not better terme the citie of London that time than a stage wherein was shewed the woonderfull spectacle of a noble hearted princesse toward her most loving people, and the people's exceeding comfort in beholding so woorthie a soveraigne, and hearing so princelike a voice."
The Muses had, indeed, quitted "the citie"—and miserable enough are the ditties which Holinshed gives us from the mouth of the various children "who expounded the pageants:" some appropriate devices were, however, mixed up with much child's-play. The union of the red and white roses on the marriage of Henry VII. (the queen's grandfather) with Elizabeth of York, was commemorated by personages representing the king and queen, sitting with hands joined together by the ring of matrimony; "and all emptie places of this pageant were furnished with sentences concerning vnitie."—"This pageant was grounded upon the queen's name," adds our historian, "For like as the long warre betweene the two houses of Yorke and Lancaster then ended, when Elizabeth, daughter to Edward the Fourth, matched in marriage with Henrie the Seventh, heire to the house of Lancaster: so—the queene maiestie's name was Elizabeth, and for so much as she is the onlie heir of Henrie the Eighth, which came of both houses, [she was] the knitting vp of concord." The eight beatitudes expressed in the fifth chapter of the gospell of Saint Matthew "applied to our soveraigne ladie Elizabeth," were at "Soper Lane end," in Chepe: but the pageant presenting an English Bible to the queen was particularly well devised. Our readers will take the poetry as by far the best specimen of the productions of the day. Between two hills, representing a flourishing and a decayed commonwealth, "was made artificiallie one hollow place or cave, with doore and locke inclosed, out of the which, a little before the queenes' highnesse commyng thither, issued one personage, whose name was Time, apparalled as an old man, with a sieth in his hand, havinge winges artificiallie made, leading a personage of lesser stature than himselfe, which was finelie and well apparalled, all clad in white silke, and directly over her head was set her name and title in Latin and English, Temporis filia, the daughter of Time. Which two, as appointed, went forwards toward the south side of the pageants, and on her brest was written her proper name, which was Veritas, Truth, who held a book in her hand, upon the which was written Verbum Veritas, the Word of Truth. And out of the south side of the pageant was cast a standing for a child, which should interpret the same pageant. Against whom when the queen's maiestie came, he spake vnto her grace these sweet words:—
"This old man with a sieth Old father Time they call, And her his daughter Truth, Which holdeth yonder booke: Whome he out of his nooke Hath brought foorth to us all, From whence this manie yeares She durst not once out looke.
"Now sith that Time againe His daughter Truth hath brought, We trust, o worthie queene, Thou wilt this truth embrace, And sith thou vnderstandst The good estate and naught, We trust wealth thou wilt plant, And barrenesse displace.
"But for to heale the sore And cure that is not seene; Which thing the booke of truth, Dooth teach in writing plaine: Shee doth present to thee The same, o worthie queene, For that, that words doo flie, But written dooth remaine."
"Thus the queene's highnesse passed through the citie, which, without anie foreigne person, of itself beautified itselfe, and received her grace at all places, as hath been before mentioned, with most tender obedience and love, due to so gratious a queene and sovereigne a ladie."
JAMES I. made the most important "progress" for himself and family that we have yet recorded; when, as tranquilly as ever the crown of England had descended from father to son, the house of Stuart succeeded that of Tudor on the throne of Great Britain. Nor was his journey from Edinburgh to London unobserved by the people. They are said to have contrasted his hauteur and reserve at this period with the well-remembered affability and popular manner of Elizabeth on such occasions; but neither does his coronation progress, nor that of his immediate successors, Charles I. or II. (with whom this usage terminated) present any new features of interest. The great object of the conductors of the ceremony was to conform to the ancient precedents; while the personal disposition of each of the sovereigns of this house was to retain as much of the demi-god as possible in these stately movements of the monarch.
[Footnote 33: Being first given by Sandford to his description of this part of the ceremony of James II.'s coronation.]
[Footnote 34: Doleman's Conferences concerning Succession, &c.]
[Footnote 35: MS. Cott. Nero, c. ix. p. 172.]
[Footnote 36: See his curious Speech in M. Paris, Hist. Major, 1640, p. 197.]
[Footnote 37: Hoveden, Walsingham, &c. are quoted to this effect by Taylor.]
[Footnote 38: History of the Anglo-Saxons, b. iv. chap. 1.]
[Footnote 39: Titles of Honour, p. ii. c. v. 26.]
[Footnote 40: Wharton's Troubles of Archbishop Laud, p. 324.]
[Footnote 41: Inserted on the union with Scotland, in 1707.]
[Footnote 42: In the oath recently taken by His Majesty the latter members of this clause, read 'within England and Ireland, and the territories thereunto belonging.']
[Footnote 43: Stow's Annals.]
[Footnote 44: In France we read of the exaltation of king Pharamond on a shield, so early as the year 420; of the chairing of Gunbald, king of Burgundy, A.D. 500, in which that prince fell from the supporting arms of his subjects, nearly to the ground; and of king Pepin being elevated on a target in 751. (Greg. Turon. Hist. lib. vii. cap. 10. Mezeray Hist. de Pepin, &c.) In Navarre, the king and queen, after being anointed, were thrice elevated before the altar on a shield emblazoned with the arms of the kingdom, and upheld by six staves.]
[Footnote 45: Thus in the ordo of Henry VII.'s coronation; "the cardinal," it is said, "sitting, shall anoynte the king, kneeling."—IVE'S Papers.]
[Footnote 46: Vide Taylor's Additional Notes, p. 347, &c.]
[Footnote 47: It will complete the sketch of the history of an institution closely connected with our subject, to observe, that George I. on restoring it in 1725, constituted it a regular military order of thirty-six companions and one grand-master, having as officers a dean, genealogist, king at arms, register, secretary, usher and messenger; and a seal, on one side of which is the figure of the king on horseback in complete armour, the shield azure and three imperial crowns with the circumscription, Sigillum Honoratissimi Militaris Ordinis De Balneo; and on the reverse the same, impaling the royal arms.
The badge of the order exhibits a happy specimen of the art of moulding old institutions to modern purposes. It consists of a rose, thistle and shamrock, issuing from a sceptre surrounded by three imperial crowns, enclosed within the ancient motto Tria juncta in uno. Of pure gold chased and pierced, it is worn by the knight elect pendant from a red riband across the right shoulder. The collar is also of gold, weighing thirty ounces troy, and is composed of nine imperial crowns, and eight roses, thistles, and shamrocks, issuing from a sceptre, enamelled in proper colours, tied or linked together with seventeen gold knots, enamelled white, and having the badge of the order pendant from it. The star consists of three imperial crowns of gold, surrounded by the motto upon a circle of red, with rays issuing from the silver centre forming a star, and is embroidered on the left side of the upper garment.
The installation dress is a surcoat of white satin, a mantle of crimson satin lined with white, tied at the neck with a cordon of crimson silk and gold, with gold tassels, and the star of the order embroidered on the left shoulder; a white silk hat adorned with a standing plume of white ostrich feathers, white leather boots, edged and heeled, spurs of crimson and gold, a sword in a white leather scabbard with cross hilts of gold. Each knight is allowed three squires, who must be gentlemen of blood, bearing coat armour, and who are entitled during life to all the privileges and exemptions enjoyed by the esquires of the sovereign's body, or the gentlemen of the privy chamber.
We need hardly add, that both in the number of knights and the brilliancy of its appearance, this order maintained its full splendor at the coronation of the fourth sovereign of the House of Brunswick.]
[Footnote 48: Johnes' Froissart, v. 12. p. 160, 1.]
[Footnote 49: King Richard II.]
[Footnote 50: Rot. Parl, vi. 278.]
[Footnote 51: Lingard's History of England, v. iii. p. 662, 3.]
[Footnote 52: Ives' Coronacion of Queene Elizabeth, p. 120.]
[Footnote 53: Ives' Coronacion of Queene Elizabeth, p. 120.]
[Footnote 54: Hall's Chronicle.]
[Footnote 55: Hall's Chronicle, Henry VIII.]
Sec.3. ANECDOTES OF THE ASSISTANT OFFICES OF THE CORONATION.
The assistant offices of the coronation are, for the far greater part, ecclesiastical or hereditary. They are connected therefore with all the religious changes, and family honours of the empire. The nobility bear in person a part in the royal day, and approach and actually touch that crown, from which, as the fountain of honour, they seem to renew, and re-invigorate, their most ancient claims to distinction: while the metropolitan of the English Church enjoys the exclusive right of consecrating and crowning the monarch.
As early as the Norman Conquest, this privilege of the see of Canterbury is spoken of as well-established; and but two subsequent instances occur of its being overlooked or denied: both remarkably associated with the history of the papal power in this country. In the first, that of the coronation by the archbishop of York of prince Henry, son of Henry II., may be traced the incipient cause of the assassination of archbishop Becket, whose martyrdom became conducive to the highest triumphs of that power: in the second, queen Elizabeth's coronation by Oglethorpe, bishop of Carlisle, and the refusal of all the other prelates to assist in the ceremony, we behold its dying struggles for a dominion never more to be renewed.
Mr. Lingard, who, as a Catholic, may be supposed to state these transactions with a sufficient leaning to his own church, as expressly connects the murder of Becket with a jealousy on this subject as any other of our historians. Henry II. had employed the known enemy of the archbishop, Roger of York, in the consecration of his son above alluded to; but the primate and the king met on friendly terms at Rouen, in the following month; they compromised their differences; and the former set out on his return to his diocese. The Pope, however, "before he heard of the reconciliation, had issued letters of suspension or excommunication against the bishops who had officiated at the late coronation." The archbishop had at one time resolved to suppress these letters, our historian admits; and surely it was now an imperative duty so to do. But the prelates concerned, it seems, who knew that he carried them about him, had assembled at Canterbury, and sent to the coast Ranulf de Broc, with a party of soldiers, to search him on his landing, and take them from him. Information of the design reached him at Witsand: and "in a moment of irritation," says Mr. L., "he despatched them before himself by a trusty messenger, by whom, or by whose means, they were publicly delivered to the bishops in the presence of their attendants. It was a precipitate and unfortunate measure, the occasion, at least, of the catastrophe that followed."
The prelates hastened to Normandy to demand redress and protection from the king; who, irritated by their representation, exclaimed: "Of the cowards who eat my bread, is there not one, who will free me from this turbulent priest?" and the blood of Becket flowed a few days after in reply. When he asked one of his assassins, "What is thy object?" he was told that he must instantly absolve the bishops—"Till they offer satisfaction, I will not," said the primate. "Then die," exclaimed his murderers, and closed around him.
The Lord Great Chamberlain's office commences with carrying the king his shirt on the morning of the coronation, and assisting the chamberlain of the household to dress his majesty. Queens regnant depute this office to some of the ladies of the household: we are told that the celebrated duchess of Marlborough last enjoyed it, at the coronation of queen Anne.
The office gives a claim to all the furniture of the royal chamber, in which its duties begin. The idea of our ancestors was, that the coronation, and particularly the consecration of a king, conferred new honours and talents of the most sacred and extraordinary description. He was now made a new man, and elevated into a new order of beings;
"Consideration, like an angel, came And whipt the offending Adam out of him; Leaving his body as a paradise, To envelope and contain celestial spirits."
Hence every part of his office was new and kingly. Froissart describes the consecration of Henry IV. immediately after the recognition, thus: "after this the duke descended from his throne, and advanced to the altar to be consecrated. This ceremony was performed by two archbishops and ten bishops: he was stripped of all his royal state before the altar, naked to his shirt, and was then anointed and consecrated in six places; that is to say, on the head, the breast, the shoulders, before and behind, on the back and hands: they then placed a bonnet on his head; and while this was doing, the clergy chaunted the litany, a service that is performed to hallow a font." The lord chamberlain is official governor of the palace for the time being, and the principal personal attendant of the king.
The Lord High Constable also attends the royal person, assists at the reception of the regalia from the dean and chapter of Westminster, and, together with the earl Marshal, ushers the champion into the hall.
Of the Royal Championship.
Whether we consider its uninterrupted exercise, and that by one family, for so many centuries, its feudal import, or its present splendid and imposing effect, the office of champion certainly eclipses all the other services of the coronation.
Since the coronation of Richard II. A.D. 1377, (of which there is in Walsingham a detailed account) this office has been performed by a Dymoke, the head of the family of that name who have held the manor of Scrivelsby in Lincolnshire, worth about L1200 per annum, by the tenure of this service. During the reigns of Edward II. and III. the right was in dispute: prior to that period and from the days of the Conqueror it was vested in the far-famed family of MARMION, whose chief, as
"——Lord of Fontenay, Of Lutterworth and Scrivilbaye, Of Tamworth tower and town,"
came from Normandy with William, and is there supposed to have held the first of these possessions, on condition of performing the service of champion to the successive dukes.
At the conquest the feudal system was established in England in its maturest and strictest forms; and the present office being the most perfect relic of that system known to modern times, a slight sketch of its peculiarities will not be uninteresting.
The foundation of all the subsequent customs of homage, suit, service, purveyance, &c. is to be traced in the original connexion between the vassal and his lord, or the chief and his retainers, which Tacitus notices as remarkable in ancient Germany. According to this, every follower was to be found fighting by the side of his chief in time of war, as the very first duty of social life—and in time of peace to look up to him as the only legitimate fountain of honour and justice.
Certain it is, that this relation was, in substance, as well known and supported by our Anglo-Saxon ancestors, before the accession of William, as it was by our Highland neighbours, down to the rebellion in 1745. A striking instance of the romantic and desperate courage to which it gave rise occurs as early as the reign of Cynewulf, king of Wessex, A.D. 784. Sigebircht, the deposed predecessor of this prince, was, in the first year of his rival's reign, found murdered in the forest of Andreswald: but left a brother, of the name of Cyneheard, who cherished for thirty-one years the secret purpose of avenging his death. At last he returned, with eighty-four retainers, into the neighbourhood of Winchester, the royal residence; and, tracing the king to a country seat at Merton, the abode of a favourite lady, surrounded the house at midnight. Cynewulf was quickly roused; but his followers were scattered throughout the place, and could not be collected until, after a brave personal conflict with the enemy, the king's life-blood had satiated his vengeance. Cyneheard now offered the royal train their liberty and possessions, on condition of their peaceable departure; but they rejected his proposals with scorn, and to a man died on the threshold of their master. On the intelligence reaching the court, in the morning, Osric and Wavirth, two powerful chieftains, surrounded themselves with their vassals, and rode to Merton, where they were met by Cyneheard, with professions of friendship. He called their attention to the injuries of his family, the duty of avenging which had devolved upon himself; urged his claim to the vacant throne; made them the most liberal offers, in case of their acknowledgment of him; and concluded by reminding them, that many of his adherents were their own near kinsmen. "Our kinsmen," they indignantly answered, "are not dearer to us than was our lord. To his murderer we shall never submit. If those who are related to us wish to save their lives, let them depart." "The same offer," rejoined the followers of Cyneheard, "was made to the attendants of the king, who refused it. We will prove to-day that our attachment is equal to theirs:" and Cyneheard, and all his adherents except one, were slain.
But the Conqueror, owing his crown to the sword, more strictly adapted the system which he found in use to his own military notions and future safety. Having divided all the principal estates of the country amongst his vassals, he converted the English military tenures into a regular obligation, called knights' fees, which compelled each tenant in chief to have a certain number of knights, or horsemen, always ready to assert the rights of the crown, and to fight under its banner, in any cause, "We will," says a law on this subject, yet extant, "that all the freemen of our kingdom possess their lands in peace, free of all tollage and unjust exaction: that nothing be required or taken from them but their free service, which they owe to us of right, as has been appointed to them, and granted by us with hereditary right for ever, by the common council of our whole kingdom." "And we command that all earls, barons, knights, serjeants, and freemen, be always provided with horses and arms as they ought; and that they be always ready to perform to us their whole service, in manner as they owe it to us of right, for their fees and tenements, and as we have appointed to them by the common council of our whole kingdom, and as we have granted to them in fee a right of inheritance." This free service required the due quota of horsemen, which each vassal was to furnish, to come, completely armed, on his requisition, and to be maintained under the royal command, at the charge of the party sending them, for forty days. Even the dignitaries of the church, and monastic bodies holding lands, were not exempt from this service.
Each tenant in chief subdivided his property into sub-vassalships, imposing a similar service, and carrying downwards all the obligations of homage, fealty, and personal attendance on all important occasions.
Out of such a system, that a favoured vassal should be selected to assert the personal right of the monarch to his throne, will appear very natural: it is only surprising that the violence and constant habit of appealing to the sword, in which this with the other feudal claims originated, should have left it to flow on in such an uninterrupted course—a course of succession far more regular than the transmission of the crown it is supposed to defend.
The championship is connected also with a remarkable feature of ancient jurisprudence, the wager of battle, recently abolished. This was regarded as an appeal to the judgment of God; and succeeded, at the Conquest, the fires and other ordeals of our ancestors, which the Normans affected to despise. The reader, however, may be disposed to conjecture, that as much of the divine interposition might be expected to decide the healing of a burn or scald, as the issue of a battle. The older custom was for the accused to plunge his hand into a cauldron of boiling water, and take out a stone or piece of iron of a given weight; the depth of the vessel being proportionate to the magnitude of the crime charged: or for him to seize, at the end of a religious service, a bar of iron placed on a fire at the beginning of the service, and run over a certain length of ground with it: the method in which the wounds healed, in either case, being the criterion of guilt or innocence.
The wager of battle was certainly of more splendid pretensions, and was introduced at first with these stipulations. If the opposite parties were countrymen, they were to follow their national customs, whatever they were; if the appellee were a foreigner, or of foreign descent, he might offer wager of battle, and on its being declined, purge himself by his own oath and that of his witnesses, according to the Norman law; or if a native of the country, he might have his choice of the trial by ordeal or by battle.
The solemn feelings and great religious sincerity with which our forefathers regarded combats of this description, cannot be more powerfully or more accurately depicted, than in the memorable combat scene of IVANHOE:—
"The draw-bridge fell, the gates opened, and a knight, bearing the great standard of the order, sallied from the castle, preceded by six trumpets, and followed by the knights preceptors, two and two, the grand master coming last, mounted on a stately horse, whose furniture was of the simplest kind. Behind him came Brian de Bois Guilbert, armed cap-a-pee in bright armour, but without his lance, shield, or sword, which were borne by his two esquires behind him.—He looked ghastly pale, as if he had not slept for several nights, yet reined in his pawing war-horse with the habitual ease and grace proper to the best lance of the Order of the Temple. His general appearance was grand and commanding; but looking at him with attention, men read that in his dark features from which we willingly withdraw our eyes.
"On either side rode Conrade of Mont Fitchet and Albert de Malvoisin, who acted as godfathers to the champion. They were in their robes of peace, the white dress of the order. Behind them followed other knights companions of the Temple, with a long train of esquires and pages, clad in black, aspirants to the honour of being one day knights of the order."
After these walked the accused in a coarse white dress, surrounded by wardens in sable livery.
"The slow procession moved up the gentle eminence, on the summit of which was the tilt-yard, and entering the lists, marched once around them from right to left, and when they had completed the circle made a halt. There was then a momentary bustle while the grand-master and his attendants" took their places: when "a long and loud flourish of trumpets announced that the court was seated for judgment. Malvoisin, then acting as godfather to the champion, stepped forward and laid the glove of the Jewess, which was the pledge of battle, at the feet of the grand-master.
"Valourous lord and reverend father," said he, "here standeth the good knight Brian de Bois Guilbert, knight preceptor of the Order of the Temple, who by accepting the pledge of battle which I now lay at your reverence's feet, hath become bound to do his devoir in combat this day, to maintain that this Jewish maiden, by name Rebecca, hath justly deserved the doom passed upon her—condemning her to die as a sorceress. Here, I say, he standeth such battle to do knightly and honourably, if such should be your noble and sanctified pleasure."
"Hath he made oath," said the grand-master, "that his quarrel is just and honourable? Bring forward the crucifix and the Te igitur."
"Sir and most reverend father," answered Malvoisin readily, "our brother here present hath already sworn to the truth of his accusation, in the hand of the good knight Conrade de Mont Fitchet, and otherwise he ought not to be sworn, seeing his adversary is an unbeliever and may take no oath."
"The grand-master having allowed the apology, commanded the herald to stand forth and do his devoir. The trumpets then flourished, and a herald stepping forward, proclaimed aloud, "Oyez, oyez, oyez. Here standeth the good knight Sir Brian de Bois Guilbert, ready to do battle with any knight of free blood who will sustain the quarrel allowed and allotted to the Jewess Rebecca, to try by champion in respect of lawful essoigne of her own body; and to such champion the reverend and valorous grand-master here present allows a fair field, an equal partition of sun and wind, and whatever else appertains to a fair combat." The trumpets again sounded, and there was a dead pause of many minutes.—
"The judges had now been two hours in the lists, awaiting in vain the appearance of a champion.
"It was the general belief, that no one could or would appear for a Jewess accused of sorcery, and the knights, instigated by Malvoisin, whispered to each other, that it was time to declare the pledge of Rebecca forfeited. At this instant a knight, urging his horse to speed, appeared on the plain, advancing towards the lists. An hundred voices exclaimed, 'A champion,' 'a champion!' And, despite the prepossession and prejudices of the multitude, they shouted unanimously as the knight rode into the tilt-yard. The second glance, however, served to destroy the hope that his timely arrival had excited. His horse, urged for many miles to its utmost speed, appeared to reel from fatigue, and the rider, however undauntedly he presented himself to the lists, either from weakness, weariness, or both, seemed scarce able to support himself in the saddle.
"To the summons of the herald who demanded his rank, his name and purpose, the strange knight answered readily and boldly, 'I am a good knight and noble, come hither to sustain with lance and sword the just and lawful quarrel of this damsel, Rebecca, daughter of Isaac of York; to uphold the doom pronounced against her to be false, and truthless, and to defy Sir Brian de Bois Guilbert as a traitor, murtherer, and liar; as I will prove in this field with my body against his, by the aid of God, our Lady, and of Monseigneur Saint George, the good knight.'
"The stranger must first show," said Malvoisin, "that he is a good knight, and of honourable lineage. The Temple sendeth not forth her champion against nameless men."
"My name," said the knight, raising his helmet, "is better known, my lineage more pure, Malvoisin, than thine own. I am Wilfrid of Ivanhoe."—"Rebecca", said he, riding up to the fatal chair, "dost thou accept of me for thy champion?"
"I do," she said, "I do!" fluttered by an emotion which the fear of death was unable to produce.
—"Ivanhoe was already at his post, and had closed his visor, and assumed his lance. Bois Guilbert did the same.
—"The herald then, seeing each champion in his place, uplifted his voice, repeating thrice, Faites vos devoirs, preux chevaliers. After the third cry, he withdrew to one side of the lists, and again proclaimed, that none on peril of instant death should dare by word, cry, or action, to interfere with, or disturb this fair field of combat. The grand-master, who held in his hand the gage of battle, Rebecca's glove, now threw it into the lists, and pronounced the fatal signal words, Laissez aller. The trumpets sounded, and the knights charged each other in full career."
The result arising out of the peculiar situation of one of the combatants toward Rebecca, was his almost immediate death: but, seeing him fall, Wilfrid assumed the rights of a victor, and "placing his foot on his breast, and the sword point to his throat, commanded him to yield or die on the spot. Bois Guilbert returned no answer.
"Slay him not, sir knight," said the grand-master, "unshriven and unabsolved—kill not body and soul. We allow him vanquished."—"This is indeed the judgment of God," said he, looking upwards—"Fiat voluntas tua!"
But Froissart records a most curious instance of the motives that were sometimes assigned for "a deed of arms" of this description.
Shortly after Henry IV. had ascended the throne of our feeble Richard II. Louis duke of Orleans sent him a letter of the following tenor.
"I Louis, by the grace of God, son and brother to the kings of France, duke of Orleans, write and make known to you, that with the aid of God and the blessed Trinity, in the desire which I have to gain renown, and which you in like manner should feel, considering idleness as the bane of lords of high birth which do not employ themselves in arms, and thinking I can no way better seek renown than by proposing to you to meet me at an appointed place, each of us accompanied with one hundred knights and esquires, of name and arms without reproach, there to combat together until one of the parties shall surrender; and he to whom God shall grant the victory, shall do with his prisoners as it may please him. We will not employ any incantations that are forbidden by the church, but make every use of the bodily strength granted us by God, having armour as may be most agreeable to every one for the security of his person, and with the usual arms; that is to say, lance, battle-axe, sword and dagger, and each to employ them as he shall think most to his advantage, without aiding himself by any bodkins, hooks, bearded darts, poisoned needles, or razors, as may be done by persons unless they be positively ordered to the contrary."
He then states, that "under the good pleasure of our Lady and my lord St. Michael" he will wait the answer of the king at Angouleme: and concludes,
"Most potent and noble prince, let me know your will in regard to this proposal, and have the goodness to send me as speedy an answer as may be; for in all affairs of arms, the shortest determination is the best, especially for the kings of France, and great lords and princes; and as many delays may arise from business of importance, which must be attended to, as well as doubts respecting the veracity of our letters, that you may know I am resolved, with God's help, on the accomplishment of this deed of arms, I have signed this letter with my own hand, and sealed it with my seal of arms. Written at my castle of Coucy, the 7th of August, 1402."
Henry replied to this curious challenge, by expressing his surprise at such an invitation from a sworn friend and ally.—"With regard to what you say, that we ought to accept your proposal to avoid idleness," he adds, "it is true we are not so much employed in arms and honourable exploits as our noble predecessors have been; but the all-powerful God may, when he pleases, make us follow their steps, and we through the indulgence of his graces have not been so idle, but that we have been able to defend our honour." He declines the meeting, at that time, principally on account of the inequality of rank between the parties,—but intimates that he shall be ready to afford all proper satisfaction to his challenger on his next visit to the continent. This affair ended in a mere war of words; but the real motive of Louis was subsequently avowed by him to be the revenging on Henry what he had "done against king Richard," the son-in-law of the king of France. "With regard to your high station," he smartly says, "I do not think the divine virtues have placed you there. God may have dissembled with you, and have set you on a throne, like many other princes, whose reign has ended in confusion; but in consideration of my own honour I do not wish to be compared with you."
An Inquisitio post mortem, dated in the 7th of Edward III., speaks of the tenure of the manor appertaining to the royal champion as follows: "That the manor of Scrivelsby is holden by grand sergeanty, to wit by the service of finding, on the day of coronation, an armed knight, who shall prove by his body, if need be, that the king is true and rightful heir to the kingdom."
It is remarkable that this important document neither prescribes the absolute appearance of the lord of the manor as knight, but only that he is bound to 'find an armed knight' if required; nor does it describe the office as hereditary. With regard to the latter point, it would seem that possession is the entire law of the case, and we suppose the office would pass with the property by sale: with respect to the former, the honour seems to have called forth the valour of every successive lord, and princes have seldom imagined that their subjects can in such a cause overstep their duty.
Anciently, the champion rode with the royal procession from the Hall to the Abbey, and proclaimed the challenge on his way, as well as at the feast: some instances have occurred of its being repeated also in the city, as at the coronation of Henry IV. At his predecessors coronation it is remarked by Walsingham, that sir John Dimmock, being armed according to custom, came to the door of the Abbey with his attendants before the service was concluded: and that the earl marshal of the day went out to him and said, he should not have made his appearance so soon.
The fate of our recent and future champions has become of late duly regarded by law. To challenge all who should dispute the pretensions of the king is rightly enough a post of honour; to accept the challenge would always, we know, have been still more bold; but an act of parliament passed during the regency (59 Geo. III. cap. 46.) abolishes altogether the trial and actual battle; so that the champion's lands, after being held with manifest peril for centuries, have at last become a peaceable possession; and all dispute respecting the crown is of course as fully disposed of. It no longer rests on the valour of a single arm—not even on that of a Marmion, or a Dymoke.
There was another office, that of the Lord High Steward of England, to which in former times much authority was attached. He possessed a kind of vice-regal power on the demise of the crown and until the coronation of the rightful heir, and was a governor of the kingdom immediately under the reigning monarch, so as to be able to control or remove the judicial servants of the crown, at any time. What was once the importance of this office is still indicated by the temporary guardianship of St. Edward's crown being committed to an officer bearing this title on the day of the coronation, and his honourable place of walking immediately before the king in procession. The Earls of Leicester once enjoyed this great dignity hereditarily; through them it descended to the De Montford family, until, on the attainder of the last Earl, it was granted by Henry III. to his younger son Edmund, by whom it became transmitted to John of Gaunt, and eventually to Henry IV. while Duke of Lancaster; since which period it has been prudently suffered to merge in the crown.