First, as you know, my house within the city
Is richly furnishèd with plate and gold,
Basins and ewers to lave her dainty hands;
My hangings all of Tyrian tapestry.
In ivory coffers I have stuffed my crowns,
In cypress chests my arras, counterpoints,
Costly apparel, tents, and canopies,
Fine linen, Turkey cushions bossed with pearl,
Valance of Venice gold in needlework,
Pewter, and brass, and all things that belong
To house, or housekeeping.
—William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew, 2.1

The Physical and Conceptual Layout of an Elite Household in Tudor England

1From 1547 to 1553, Princess Mary and Princess Elizabeth resided in manors that were arranged to display their social position and financial resources. Stray references to Mary and Elizabeth having privy and presence chambers—at least as departments if not actual rooms—are found in their accounts and checkerolls. I have not been able to locate any floorplans or detailed descriptions of their manors, but the physical arrangement of rooms from presence chamber to bed chamber was quite common for the period. Knowledge about the lesser royal manors that were placed at the disposal of Princess Mary and Princess Elizabeth after 1547 allows for some informed speculation on what a visitor to one of their residences would have found.1

2On arrival, such a visitor would likely be ushered first into a public reception room known as the Presence Chamber (or "Great Chamber"). There the guest would await a formal reception by the princess. The Presence Chamber was clearly delineated as a space separate from the Great Hall or the house, either by intervening structural elements, such as walls or columns, or else by furnishings (tapestries, for example). Privileged guests would be taken to the Privy Chamber, which served primarily as a private dining area though it might also typically contain an elaborately decorated bed on which the princess could recline during the daytime. If the manor was of recent construction and the visitor of suitable rank or perhaps a close relative or friend of the princess, then the visitor would be received in the bedchamber; this would of course contain a sumptuously dressed bed. An overnight guest would expect to sleep in their own bedchamber (rather than in a dormitory as in early medieval times). This "guest room" would contain a bed furnished in a manner appropriate to the guest's own social and political standing.

3This layout of rooms and furnishings, along with the functions they served, was typical of sixteenth-century manor houses; they illustrate the transition in the arrangement and use of interior space from medieval military headquarters to primarily domestic establishments. This transition was not novel to the sixteenth century but had been in process for some time.2 Long-term residency in fortified manors fueled the late medieval trend in which communal rooms gave way to compartmentalization. The head of household and his immediate family now occupied rooms reserved for them alone, separated from the large reception rooms such as the great hall. As households came to serve more overtly as administrative and political centers, in addition to continuing their traditional function as regional military headquarters, it became necessary (especially by the sixteenth century) to regulate the crush of place-seekers, suitors, and clients. Hence, large rooms that once contained dormitory-style accommodation were now divided into cellular lodgings for the head, his immediate family, and guests, and access to them was controlled.

4The physical separation of the elite kin group from the living spaces reserved for guests and servants was not primarily to preserve the modesty of the head of household but, rather, to clearly demarcate the social hierarchy within the establishment.3 At the apex of the domestic social pyramid was the householder, whose relative isolation within the establishment made visible his/her unique status within it—paradoxically by making the householder less visible to the majority of her/his staff.

5There was a paradox at the heart of the elite domestic interior. The "private" chambers of the householder and their immediate relatives were, in fact, an indication of their "public" status. Only the elite, the economically advantaged, could reside within houses large enough to accommodate the division of interior space. The "public" nature of the householder's "private" rooms manifested itself in other ways. Perhaps the most notable is that the householder would use these rooms to receive guests in a way that few modern householders would. There are reports of Elizabeth, as sovereign, receiving her ministers in her bedchamber. Both she and Mary, as princesses, took especial care in the furnishings of bedrooms and their beds. This and other accounts of the usage of restricted rooms, all suggest that elite householders received important guests in their bedrooms in order to indicate the esteem the householder "publicly" evinced toward the guest.

6Indeed, these restricted rooms were furnished in the full expectation that important guests would regularly visit them. These cellular chambers and limited-function rooms furthered the early-modern drive toward the display of luxury items that made visible the householder's social and political standing.4 Collectively, the presence chamber, privy chamber, private chapel, and bedchamber contained many of the elaborate tapestries, cloths of estate, ornate beds, and sumptuous cushions that displayed the wealth of the householder to the guests that they wished to impress.

7Royalty and the nobility no longer proclaimed their political and social importance exclusively on the battlefield or through the maintenance of an impressively armed escort. They also made political statements through architecture and furniture. Or, as Natasha Korda phrased it, the "relations between subjects within the home became increasingly centered around and mediated by objects."5 This trend would culminate later in the sixteenth century with elaborate architectural showpieces such as that of socially prominent figures including Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury, builder of Chatsworth and Hardwick Hall.6 Royalty and nobles regularly commissioned portraits of themselves, which included their most prized residences and/or furniture as indicators of their wealth and status. Architecture and furniture functioned not simply as a reflection of a person's social and political position but also as a form of self-aggrandizement. Building a large house and furnishing it lavishly, including such things in one's portrait, was a means by which householders publicized both their current standing and the status to which they yet aspired.

8Indeed, it was not only royalty and the aristocracy that practiced this form of the "politics of ostentation."7 William Harrison noted in his Description of England, printed in 1577, that anyone with any means at all laid claim to status via the materiality of their households:

Likewise in the houses of knights, gentlemen, merchantmen and some other wealthy citizens, it is not geason [uncommon] to behold generally their great provision of tapestry, Turkey work, pewter, brass, fine linen, and thereto costly cupboards of plate . . . the costly furniture . . . descended yet lower, even unto the inferior artificers and many farmers, [who] . . . for the most part [have] learned to garnish their cupboards with plate, their joint beds with tapestry and silk hangings, and their tables with carpets and fine napery whereby the wealth of our country . . . doth infinitely appear.8

9The visible households of the princesses would impress not only their noble guests, but also their servants, the suppliers, the temporary laborers, and the messengers from other households who lived, worked, and visited their manors. Material display in a household setting was universally appreciated as a method for proclaiming status.9 Also, in an age before mass media, household display and hospitality were the mechanisms by which the fame, wealth, and status of the householder became public knowledge. As contemporaries recognized, the household was the "theater of hospitality."10 Domestic display highlighted the political and economic importance of the householder.


The Early Households of Mary Tudor, 1516–1519

10Initially, however, Mary's and Elizabeth's residences reflected Henry VIII's view of their status. As royal offspring, their childhood households were dependent adjuncts of the king's own domestic establishment. Since the medieval period, it was customary for all royal children to live together either at court or in nursery households in country manors.11 Only the heir, the eldest son, resided in his own separate establishment. The household of a Prince of Wales (the title reserved for monarch's eldest son) was a distinct corporation, separate from the king's household and funded by revenues from the Prince's own estates.12 If the royal couple produced several offspring, as did Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, then their younger children often shared one household. At times, the Prince of Wales shared accommodation with his younger siblings in country manors. Even during such periods the prince would continue to employ his own separate and substantial staff. To my knowledge, spinster princesses always lived in shared accommodation either with their siblings in country manors or at court with their parents.

11If the royal couple's first child was a girl, as in Mary's case, the princess would technically have her own household but only in the very limited sense that she was the first occupant of a nursery household. Other than such cases, I have found no record of an unmarried English princess maintaining her own household for any significant length of time before Mary. Before marriage, English princesses did not head their own independent establishments funded from their own property revenues. Even adult unmarried princesses lived at court rather than in their own separate households, as did Mary's aunt, known (later) as Mary the French Queen, up to the time of her first marriage. The elder Mary Tudor, sister to Henry VIII, in 1514 had married King Louis XI of France. After his death, she married Charles Brandon and they returned to England in 1515.13 Before her marriage, Mary, the French Queen, lived either with her siblings (during her father's lifetime) or at the court of her brother, Henry VIII.14

12Mary Tudor, one of the two subjects of this study, was the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, born on February 18, 1516. As the king's eldest child, Mary initially had her own separate establishment. Mary's establishment, however, reflected her status as the king's only legitimate child rather than any anticipation that she might be the next monarch of England. Indeed, the king clearly hoped that Mary would soon share her household with other—preferably male—royal children. Shortly after Mary's birth, in a conversation with the Venetian ambassador, Henry famously reasoned: "If it was a daughter this time, by the grace of God the sons will follow."15 There are indications that Henry was not alone in taking this view. When Lord Mountjoy wrote to congratulate the king on Mary's birth, he described it as a good beginning.16 The king evidently considered Mary to be no more than a placeholder in the succession until a son was born. Although Mary was, by default, the king's heir until and unless the royal couple produced a son, Henry refused, in the two full years after Mary's birth, to make an official announcement to that effect.

13The scale and expenditure of Mary's initial household reflected Henry's hope that he would soon have son to displace Mary as his successor. Princess Mary's household was, initially, little more than an ad hoc collection of staff transferred from the king's and queen's own households. The earliest records pointing to the formation of Mary's first household are preserved in "the king's payment book," which listed the actual costs of Henry VIII's Privy Purse expenses as well as estimates for recurring costs.17

14The payment book lists only seven officers serving in Princess Mary's household including four female "rockers vnto ye prñces," who, as their title suggests, rocked the infant princess to sleep. In November, the accounts list a "gentylwoman to the prñces" who received her wages for three quarters of the year. The account books indicate that the infant princess had a chaplain who doubled as her clerk, the aforementioned gentlewoman attendant, as well as a nurse, laundress and the four rockers. There was also mention of a nurse, who was probably Katherine Pole and who received two annuities as the princess' nurse in July 1517.18 The king's expense account records the quarterly payments to these servants in March, June, September, and December 1517 and March 1518.19

15Henry VIII's accounts are not sufficiently comprehensive to allow an estimate of the total number of staff in Mary's first household, or even of the number serving in a particular capacity. Clearly, her initial staff must have included far more members than the few individuals mentioned explicitly in the king's surviving accounts. Even the minimum staff of seven, as outlined earlier, would have required others to prepare their food and care for their horses.

16These kitchen, stable, and other staff may have been assigned initially from Henry's own household, and so their wages do not appear separately in his accounts; nor would they be considered, at this stage, to be permanently attached to Princess Mary's household. Richard Sydnor, for instance, may have been a typical example. In 1518, Sydnor received wages as a member of Henry's household, although he was clearly employed on the princess' business (obtaining horses for her litter).20 It is also possible that some of the princess' staff came from Catherine of Aragon's household. Mary later demonstrated a great knowledge of Catherine's staff, which may have begun when the queen's staff served temporarily in the young princess' establishment. There is no indication that any of these servants, even those specified as Mary's exclusive staff, wore any livery but that of the king's or queen's households. There may have been no outward sign that they were the princess' servants.

17Moreover, Mary's household was such ad hoc affair that at least one of her senior officers held two positions in her household. Henry Rowle served both as Mary's clerk of the closet and also as her chaplain.21 That Mary's clerk doubled as the chaplain for her initial household further evidences its modest scale. That at least two of the princess' senior officers were either still technically part of the king's household (Sydnor) or served in more than one capacity (Rowle) suggests that Mary's first household was little more than an appendage of the king's own establishment. As late as 1518, when Mary was two years old, her household expenses were still listed as part of the daily expenses of the king's household; subsequently, they would be presented clearly as those of a separate establishment.22

18The strongest indication of her status as a mere placeholder until the birth of a male heir was that Mary was granted none of the trappings of firstborn royal male children. In contrast to firstborn infant royal sons, Mary enjoyed no landed revenues from which to fund her household. No evidence has survived indicating that, until she reached the age of two, Mary's household expanded much beyond more than half-dozen or so staff.

19Traditionally, firstborn sons were treated differently in the English royal family. Edward IV's eldest son nominally presided over a viceregal household in the Welsh Marches when he was only six months old. Edward IV further granted his infant son the Welsh Principality from which the young prince's lavish household was funded.23 Although Mary was officially the heir to the throne in the same way as Edward IV's son, the scale of her first household suggests strongly that Henry VIII, as he indicated to the Venetian ambassador, considered her as merely a harbinger of better things to come, and certainly not as the next ruler of England.

20A comparison between Mary's household during her infancy and those of her future siblings Elizabeth and Edward demonstrates Henry's unwillingness to fund Mary's household on a princely scale. After the births of his younger children, Henry VIII could not take the political risk of failing to demonstrate publicly his support for their succession rights, as he had with Mary. Elizabeth was born of a marital union that was recognized only by the English church, and not by Roman Catholics in England or abroad. Henry was obliged to declare Elizabeth the heir to the throne immediately after her birth to provide a public reaffirmation of his commitment to the Boleyn marriage and his rejection both of Catherine Aragon as his wife and of Mary as his heir. Furthermore, Henry pressured Parliament into passing the first Act of Succession 1534, which declared Elizabeth the successor to the crown.

21Although very little documentation survives for Elizabeth's first household, it was clearly much more lavish than the initial household of Mary. The one stray reference to Elizabeth's household expenditure dates from March 1535 when her steward, Sir John Shelton, promised the king that he would attempt to rein in costs for the coming half-year.24 He promised not to exceed substantially a total of £1,000 for the following six-month period. This suggests that the household of the two-year-old Elizabeth had already cost the king at least £2,000 per annum. This was roughly twice the cost of Mary's household from 1516 until 1533. Until she was nine, Mary's household rarely required the king to lay out more than the £1,400 that he spent in 1518. As late as 1523, when Mary was seven, her household cost the king just under £1,100.25 For comparison purposes, the king's household averaged around £13,000 until the late 1530s.26

22After the birth of king's son, Prince Edward, in 1537, Henry VIII wasted no time in declaring him heir to the throne and conferring on him the title of Prince of Wales. The king proceeded to confer several further titles on the infant prince, making him also Duke of Cornwall, and Earl of Chester; the revenues from all these estates were available to fund the prince's household. Mary's initial household would not have possessed similar funding sources because, unlike Prince Edward, she held no landed titles from infancy. Initially, however, the king did not wait for a rogation day to collect the necessary revenues for the young prince's household. By May 1538, when the prince was only seven months old, the king had already spent £6,500 from his own coffers on his son's household.27 This was an enormous sum. In the late 1530s, per annum expenses for the king's own household averaged around £25,000, so the Prince's household expenditure was roughly equal to 10 percent of the king's own annual household expenditure.28

23The later financial worries of the Henrician regime make it unlikely that the king was able to continue maintaining such a lavish establishment even if Edward's household could draw on the revenues of Wales, Cornwall, and Chester. Some retrenchment is suggested by Edward's household later sharing accommodation with Elizabeth and Mary. This retrenchment, however, appears to have been temporary. The independence of Prince Edward's household was reemphasized in 1543 when he ceased to share accommodations with his sisters. At this time, preparations were underway to invest Prince Edward with a viceregal household in Ludlow, the traditional residence of the Prince of Wales. The plans for Edward's viceregal household/court in Ludlow exist in draft form.29

24Another indication that Elizabeth's and Edward's first households were much more complicated establishments than Mary's first household was that the king took more time to institute them. Henry's household accounts support David Loades's suggestion that Mary's household took shape very shortly after her birth.30 In contrast, the time lapse between, on the one hand, the births of Elizabeth and Edward and, on the other, the commencement of their households indicate that Henry VIII spent months recruiting staff, assigning offices, and establishing regulations for the households of his younger children. The king did not officially constitute Elizabeth's household until December 1533, over three months after her birth.31 Edward's household officers did not receive their appointments until March 1538—five months after his birth.32 As noted earlier, Henry VIII's accounts indicated that he patched together Mary's household quickly and minimally within weeks of her birth.

25Yet another testament to the importance of Edward's first household, in contrast to Mary's, and among the reasons that it took so long to establish Edward's household, are the elaborate procedures that Henry VIII established to ensure the boy's safety. Among them was a set of instructions to the prince's household officers, who by rank and number were indicative of a substantial household. In order to ensure the proper "keepinge oversight care and care [sic] of his ma[jes]ties and the holl realmes most precyouse jewell the Princes grace," Edward's initial household had the full complement of departments such as kitchen, buttery, larder, scaldinghouse, and so on. Overseeing these departments was a complete staff of senior officers including a chamberlain, vice chamberlain, steward, and a controller, all supported by "yomen and gromes of the hall" as well as "sundry boyes, pages and seruants."33 No such instructions survive for Mary's first household or even any indications that, initially, she had similar departments or officers.

26The comparison with Elizabeth's and Edward's households shows clearly that the small size and limited financial resources of Mary's first household reflected Henry VIII's 1516 statement to the Venetian ambassador that she was only a temporary placeholder in the succession, soon to be supplanted by a Prince of Wales. Both Mary and her younger siblings technically enjoyed, at separate times, the same official status as the king's only heir, but only Elizabeth and Edward were immediately given households commensurate with the status of future monarchs.

27Mary was Henry's only child until the illegitimate birth of Henry Fitzroy in 1519, and remained his only legitimate child until 1533 when Elizabeth was born. Although Edward was born after his two sisters, he was, legally, the king's only legitimate child until 1544 as both Mary and Elizabeth were declared illegitimate in the second Act of Succession (1536). It was not until the third Act of Succession in 1544 that Edward became only the first in a line of three heirs when Mary and Elizabeth were restored to the succession order (while still remaining illegitimate).

28The gap between Mary's official status in 1516–1518 as the king's heir and his personal opinion that she was merely, as David Loades put it, the "token of hope" heralding the birth of the real heir (a son) was clearly demonstrated by the hasty formation, minimal staffing, and limited scale of her first household.34


Mary's Childhood Household, 1519–1525

29The scale of Mary's household expanded from 1519 onward as her political status rose. Since Mary's birth in 1516, Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon had not produced a child, let alone a son. It appeared increasingly likely that Mary would remain the king's only heir. Catherine of Aragon did not conceive again until 1518. This was (at least) Catherine's sixth pregnancy since her marriage to Henry in 1509 and so far, she had given birth successfully only to Mary and, earlier in 1511, to a son who lived but a few weeks. All the others had ended in stillbirths and miscarriages.35 This sad history of unsuccessful pregnancies, combined with Catherine's health (she had likely begun menopause in 1519), made Mary's succession an ever more realistic outcome as she grew from an infant into a healthy toddler.

30Despite Henry VIII's clear reluctance to acknowledge Mary as his probable successor, Mary's status was rising in the international marriage market based on the increasing likelihood that she would become the next monarch of England. These negotiations were to have immediate consequences for the princess' household. In 1518, Henry entered into negotiations with the French for an alliance to be cemented by a marriage between the princess and the French dauphin. The French negotiators insisted that Henry finally acknowledge Mary as his only heir. Accordingly, the terms of the marriage contract contained a stipulation that Mary was Henry's next successor in default of any future sons that he might have.36 A month after the betrothal ceremonies took place in October 1518, binding Mary to the dauphin, Catherine gave birth to a stillborn daughter. This was a "vexatious" outcome, according to Sebastiano Giustiniani. The Venetian ambassador was convinced that Henry agreed to the clause naming Mary as his immediate successor in the French marriage contract only because he was in fact confident that Catherine would shortly give birth to a healthy son, whose arrival would make the acknowledgment of Mary's succession rights irrelevant.37 After the November 1518 miscarriage of a daughter, Catherine would not conceive again. Hence, the acknowledgment in the French marriage treaty of Mary's succession rights became by default the political reality from late 1518 until Mary's later disinheritance in the wake of the Henry's divorce from Catherine.

31Mary's household began to reflect this new reality. From 1519, Mary's household steadily increased its staff, and by implication, its scale. In this year, the king authorized the purchase of liveries for sixteen newly hired servants.38 The household acquired an additional six new gentlemen, nine valets, and four grooms. Now three years old, Mary no longer needed rockers; those formerly employed in this capacity became gentlewomen of her privy chamber.39

32As the king's (reluctantly) acknowledged heir, tradition required that Mary preside over a household that showcased her potential as the next sovereign. Her household performed this function during Mary's reception of unnamed French envoys in early July 1520.40 At the time, the king and queen were in Calais for the famous meeting, known as the Field of the Cloth of Gold, with the French king, François I. The French delegation assumed that Mary, as the betrothed of the dauphin and potentially the next queen-consort of France, would be present at this event. No doubt they were greatly surprised when, in the event, she made no appearance. It is unclear what prompted Henry and Catherine to exclude their daughter from the occasion, leaving her at home. The important point for this study are the repercussions of Mary's non-appearance. Evidently suspicious that Mary was prevented by some form of ill-health from coming to France, François I sent envoys to England to report back on her physical and mental development.41 The king's chief minister, Thomas, Cardinal Wolsey, warned the privy councilors, in charge of the government in Henry VIII's and Wolsey's absence, of the arrival of the envoys. Wolsey instructed the councilors to ensure that the four-year-old Mary was shown to best advantage.

33On short notice, the council decided that it was time for Mary and her household to overawe the envoys with royal hospitality.42 Mary was too young to preside over a banquet but, apparently, it was felt that she could host a reception. The councilors installed Mary and her household at the king's palace of Richmond, which was usually reserved exclusively to the royal court, during periods when the sovereign was in residence. Mary's household expanded to include the noble ladies who had not accompanied Queen Catherine to France. Their function was to impress on the French envoys that Mary was not a princess of the usual subordinate status, whose future contained merely a consort's crown. The council ensured that Mary appeared before the French envoys as a princely figure, the next sovereign of England, unquestionably worthy also to become the next queen-consort of France. The following account of the meeting comes from a letter from the Privy Council to Henry VIII. It is worth quoting at some length as it underscores the household's central role in offering hospitality on a politically important occasion.

. . . [the] gentilmen of ffraunce of whose commyng and ent[ainment] we had aduertisement by my lorde Cardinall . . . being well accompanied by [the] Lorde darcy and others repared to yor derest doughter the [princess] at Richmounte/ where they founde her grace right honorable [and well] accompanied wt your counseill and other lordes booth sp[irit]uãll and temporall/ and her house and chambers right well appointed and furnished wt a goodly company of gentilmen and tall yomeñ/ And as vnto ladies ther were in the chamber of presence attending on her grace besides the lady gõu[er]nes and other her gentilwomen the duches of Norff[olk] wt her iij doughters/ the lady [Margaret] wiff to the lorde herbert countesse of Worcestre/ the ladies gray and nevill/the lord Johns wiff wt sondery other ladies and gentilwomen/ and in the great chamber wer many goodly gentilwomen well apparailled/And at the commyng of the said gentilmen of ffraunce to the princes presence her grace in suche wise showed her self vnto theym furst in welcommyng and enterteynyng of theym wt moost goodly countenence/ proper commyunycacõn and pleasant passe tyme in playing at the virginalles that they greately marveled and reioyesed the same her yong and tendre age considered/ And soe after they departed ageine to London . . . 43

34A copy of the letter sent to Wolsey added that Mary's household offered the envoys "strawberes wafers wyne and ypocras in plenty" for their "goodly chere."44 In these letters, the privy councilors list Mary's household staff as second in importance only to the privy councilors themselves and the nobles present. The household staff were the laudable "furnishings" of the chamber and as such, crucial in creating what the Privy Council hoped was a good impression in the minds of the envoys.45

35In July 1520, the Anglo-French alliance was, in many respects, predicated on Mary's continued survival and eventual inheritance of the English throne. It was therefore vital that the Privy Council ensure that Mary appeared before the French envoys as a princely (and healthy) hostess, against a material background that indicated the king's endorsement of her future as the next ruler of England. The central element of the setting in which Mary received the ambassadors was her household: her noble governess (Margaret Plantagenet, countess of Salisbury), tall servants and smartly dressed gentlewomen. Mary's status was further emphasized by the presence of bishops, nobles, and councilors, and aristocratic women. The importance of this household reception (and Henry VIII's particular interest) is demonstrated by the Privy Council's letters which refer to Mary's household reception as the only really noteworthy political event that had occurred recently in the king's absence.46

36It is unlikely that the more modest establishment Mary maintained before 1519 could have "appointed" her chambers with such a socially (and physically) impressive staff, or offered hospitality to the standard required "in plenty" for such an occasion. Additionally, it would appear that Salisbury had ensured that the toddler performed her duties as a political hostess by training Mary in "proper commyunycacõn."

37It would appear that Mary's household offered hospitality to others besides the French envoys during the king's absence. In their letter to the king, the Privy Council reported that the princess made a good impression upon "all such as repaire vnto her presence" and indicated that they themselves were frequent visitors.47 In the absence of the king and his consort, Mary's household served as the royal court in England.

38Significantly, from 1519 onwards, Mary's household disbursed sums directly to household officers. Mary's staff now received their wages as members of her household rather than as the king's agents temporarily assigned to her service as had been the case from 1516 until 1518. Her establishment was no longer merely an adjunct of the king's own household; it was now too large and complex to be conflated, and clearly merited the keeping of entirely separate household accounts.48 These accounts also witness her household's continued expansion throughout the 1520s. The entries for the years 1522 and 1523 reveal that Mary's establishment now contained the full complement of departments and staff found in contemporary aristocratic households. As with other royal and elite households, she had her own household Privy Council that managed her household affairs.49 During these years, Mary's household continued to take on staff, adding ushers, valets and grooms of the chamber. In 1521, the king furnished the princess' chamber with seventeen liveried servants.50 According to accounts her treasurer submitted to the crown, by September 1522, Mary's privy chamber staff alone included thirty-six members: six gentlemen ushers, ten valets, fifteen grooms, a stable boy, three children of the kitchen, and a woodbearer.51 None of these accounts provides a complete list of her household staff; these stray references, however, suggest that her establishment employed around seventy-five staff members, a number fairly typical for an aristocratic household, although clearly still well short of the two-hundred or so commonly found in a ducal household.52

39Mary's household accounts from the early 1520s suggest that besides the expansion of her staff, the king also at last provided her with furnishings that reflected her status as his direct successor. The 1523 accounts record that her table linens were made from the finest Holland cloth and Brussels linen. The seven-year-old Mary received important visitors while sitting under a cloth of estate, made from cloth of gold tissue. This was an important indicator of her status, and not just because material itself was so sumptuous: customarily, only the king or those who received his special permission were permitted to sit beneath a cloth of estate. In fact, the king had furnished the princess with four such cloths. The other three were nearly as lavish as the first, being made of "brocade," blue cloth of gold, and crimson velvet. Her household was now decorated with several sets of tapestries and her beds were dressed with satin and velvet linens. She sat on chairs cushioned in crimson and purple velvet, as well as red cloth of gold, and satin. The tapestries depicted the story of Hercules, the siege of Damascus, Christ's Passion, scriptural allegory, and Alexander the Great. Her bed linens were of crimson satin embroidered with deer, lions, and falcons. Others consisted of gold and green velvet. Admittedly, many of these textiles were listed by her treasurer as "old." This does not necessarily indicate that they were in poor condition. Usually, an item that was clearly in need of replacement would be designated not simply as "old" but "old and worn." None of Mary's goods were so described; rather, "old" here referred to her goods being secondhand rather than newly purchased.53

40All this domestic splendor was not provided exclusively through the king's generosity. The nobility, following the king's lead, presented Mary with objects intended for household display. Her accounts list a set of hangings with the duke of Buckingham's coat of arms in the border, suggesting that he gave them to her along with matching bed curtains. During 1522, Cardinal Wolsey gave her a gold cross; the Countess of Devon sent two silver flagons; and the princess' aunt, Mary the French Queen, gave her a solid gold pomander. In 1523, the king gave her a silver cup; Wolsey sent her a gold salter; and the countess of Devonshire gave her a gold cross.54 In 1524, the same countess gave her a silver gilt image of the Virgin; Wolsey gave her a saucer of gold; and the duke of Norfolk sent her a silver cup.55

41These were clearly not children's toys, but household ornaments of the richest kind. The gift-givers did not intend these objects to provide the princess with diversion, but rather to exalt her through domestic display. This display formed the backdrop to the household's important function as a center of hospitality.

42In addition to the reception of the French envoys in 1520, Mary's household offered hospitality on a grand scale around Christmas. In 1522, John Thurgood, selected as the Lord of Misrule, submitted costs to Mary's treasurer for expenses incurred in orchestrating the entertainments. These included the live butchering of a calf (!), a play on a naval theme, a skit with a friar, dancers with staves, a "disguising" that involved twelve men playing animate haystacks, and an unknown entertainment featuring gunners and gunpowder. On a more sedate note, John Stenton led the clerks of the Windsor College in the singing of ballads before Mary and her household on Christmas Day.56 For the next year, 1523, the scale of the Christmas entertainments is suggested by the bloated entry for foodstuffs and table linen for the month of December in the accounts. For example, it is recorded that the household consumed six pounds of pepper in December as compared to the more usual one pound per month. Additionally, the unusual amounts of liquorice and comfits as well as gold and silver leaf argues for sumptuous and ornate culinary creations. It is little wonder that an extra cook was employed for the twelve days of Christmas in 1523 to help out with "the gilting of divers subtleties."57 For this Christmas, Mary's household commissioned the forest wardens in Essex to provide her table with at least twelve deer. The hearty diners in Mary's household were presented with a thoroughly civilized dining ambience that included brand new linen towels and napkins—twelve of which were made out of the more expensive and delicate "diaper" cloth— and all prepared the month before. Moreover, their food was served on brand new pewter plates and saucers. The feast was prepared using new kitchen equipment purchased for the occasion, including copper pots and new wooden trays and bowls. Serenading the household and guests were three musicians sent by Mary the French Queen.

43The dishes at Mary's table were flavored with expensive spices such as saffron, cloves and mace.58 Records of the establishment's meat and seafood consumption suggests the scale of her newly expanded household. From October 1522 to September 1523, her household digested 22 bulls, 158 sheep, 45 calves, 8 large pigs and 48 small ones, 163 stock-fish, 4 barrels of white herrings, and an uncalculated number of chickens, which alone cost the household the considerable sum of £35.59 To put this expenditure on poultry in perspective, the costs for the entire household including wages, tips, and other consumables were just under £1,400 during this same period of twelve months. To serve all of this food, the household commissioned a London silversmith to make two dozen platters, four dozen dishes, and two dozen saucers out of pewter.60

44It is not easy to compare the scale of this display and the level of hospitality in Mary's household with those of her contemporaries; records for other elite households have not survived in sufficient quantity. Certainly, her household hospitality was less lavish than that offered at the king's court. A comparison between Mary's household expenditure and that of the duke of Buckingham during these years can be offered, however. In 1519, the Duke's household expenses totaled nearly £2,500. As noted, Mary's expenses during the early 1520s averaged around £1,100.61 This suggests that Mary's household could not compete with the establishments of the high aristocracy. For a landless minor, though, Mary's household was impressive indeed.

45For the heir to the throne, it was still modest. Historians have not examined Henry's and Mary's household accounts during these years for clues to the king's attitude toward a female succession. It is clear from these records, however, that Henry did not initially regard Mary as his heir. Furthermore, although the scale and furnishings of her household expanded and improved in keeping with her increasing chances of succession in the early 1520s, the king was still unwilling to spend the lavish sums on her household that he would spend later on those of his younger children to ensure their public acceptance as his heirs. Yet there was a brief period in early 1525 when the king finally seemed resigned to Mary's succession, which he characteristically indicated by significantly altering the scale and material furnishings of his daughter's household.


Princess of Wales by Household: Mary's Household in the Welsh Marches, 1525–1528

46In 1525, at the age of nine, Mary's household finally achieved through significant further expansion a scale that clearly presented her as a king's successor. In the summer of 1525, Henry VIII bestowed on Mary a viceregal household and dispatched her to the Welsh Marches to govern the counties and the Welsh Principality in his name. Even at this stage, Henry refused to bestow on Mary the status—as signified via her household—of being his only heir. Just before Mary left for Wales, the king elevated her illegitimate half-brother, Henry Fitzroy, to the peerage. In June 1525, Henry created Fitzroy duke of Richmond and Somerset and dispatched him up north with a household on a scale commensurate with Mary's. Henry was, essentially, backing two horses. The long-term effects Richmond's household might have had on his credibility as a successor were frustrated by his early death in 1536.62

47During the early 1520s, as Queen Catherine failed to conceive again after her miscarriage in 1518, it appeared ever more probable that Mary would be the only child of the marriage. In accordance with shifting alliances in 1521, Mary was betrothed to her cousin, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Imperial negotiators, like the French before them, had insisted that the marriage contract contain Henry's acknowledgment of Mary as his heir.63 In early 1525, when the king began making preparations to send Mary to the Welsh Marches, the princess' future looked very promising. Not only was she likely to be the next ruler of England but also the consort of Western Europe's most powerful monarch.

48Mary's position was strengthened in Henry's estimation when Charles won a major victory over the French king at Pavia in Italy in February 1525. The French king was taken prisoner by Charles' army. On hearing this news, Henry hoped to enlist his future son-in-law to help him invade France. Henry argued that Charles should support him militarily in this because Charles would eventually inherit Henry's French conquests through his marriage to Mary.64

49It was amid these plans to invade France with Imperial support that Henry made the arrangements to send Mary to Wales. Given that it later took Henry five months to establish Edward's household in 1538, it is reasonable to assume it took a similar amount of time to gather together Mary's new viceregal household. Mary's household was fully constituted by July 1525, suggesting that the king began planning the household in late February/early March, that is, shortly after Charles V's victory at Pavia. He intended to present her to the English and Welsh people as their future monarch and to indicate to Charles the importance of his future consort and also, by implication, that of the Anglo-Imperial alliance.

50 Cross Reference:
Read more about the Welsh power vacuum.
In the event, by the time Mary left for Wales in August, she was no longer betrothed to the Emperor, and the plans Henry had built on this foundation were in ruins. Her new household, however, had already taken shape and, due to a recent power vacuum, a royal presence was needed in the Welsh Marches. According to the payroll, Mary's new household officially commenced around the beginning of July 1525.65 Charles V had broken off his betrothal to her very suddenly, only a month before. The crown was short of representatives in 1525, which, in part, justified the king's decision to implement his plan to send Mary to Wales despite Charles's repudiation. In March 1525, the king recalled Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, from his role as justiciar of North Wales and, in south Wales, the long-time crown agent, Sir Rhys ap Thomas, had died in the spring.66 This household was to have a profound effect on Mary's political status and composition of future households.67

51Mary left for Wales in August 1525 and returned sometime in mid-1528. Of all her childhood households, this one has left the most substantive documentation. These documents comprise accounts submitted by her household to the crown, lists of servants and furnishings, correspondence between her new household council and the king's chief minister, Cardinal Wolsey, and sets of instructions for the household and its Privy Council. The most detailed of these documents is the "Instruction Book," preserved in a manuscript from the Cotton collection, and now in the British Library.68

52Henry's primary intention in sending Mary to the Welsh Marches was for her household to serve as a royal hospitality center. In the instructions that the king commissioned for the regulation of the new household, he specified that the goal of the establishment was to ensure that the local population was "by meanes of good hospitalitie refreshed."69 It was customary for the English monarch to govern Wales through a combination of a council and royal agents serving as justiciars, especially when there was no Prince of Wales.70 Henry dispatched Mary to Wales so her household, in common with others of elite and royal standing, could perform the one governing function—offering hospitality—which a viceregal figure could discharge most credibly, even one who was little more than a figurehead.71 The king's "Instructions" reveal a general expectation that Mary's household would quickly become the center of elite social life in the region:

. . . the gentlemen vshers yomen of the chambers, groomes and others belonging to the chambers to giue their due attendance every one as to his rome [job] and place doeth appertayne so that the chambers be alwayes seruised as the tyme and case shall requyer /That is to say Sondayes Saturdayes and other principall seasons when there shallbe accesse or recourse of noblemen or other straungers repayring vnto that court or that it be as festiviall dayes or tymes or other thinges requisite to haue a great and honorable p[e]rsonne then all the officers and ministers of the chambers to giue their continuall attendance for that tyme . . .72

53A council of the king's commissioners accompanied Mary's household and also served as her personal household council. One of the council's main tasks was to ensure that her household was performing its hospitable functions. John Vosey, bishop of Exeter and Lord President of the council, wrote anxiously to Wolsey about the preparations Mary's household should make for the public celebration of Christmas at Tewkesbury Castle in the marches in 1525:

Please it youre grace for the great reparre of straungers supposed vnto the princesse honorable householde this solemne fest of Cristmas. We humbly beseche the same to let vs knowe youre gracious pleasure concerñyg aswell a ship of silver for the almes dysshe requysite for her high estate/ and spice plate/ as also for trumpettes and a rebek to be sent/ and whither we shall appoynte any lord of mysrule for the said honorable household/ previde for enterludes disgysynges or pleyes in the said fest/ or for banket on twelf nyght . . .73

54 Cross Reference:
Read more about Mary's first land grant.
Vosey's letter indicates that Mary's Welsh household, like other satellite royal households and the royal court itself, used Christmas as an occasion for conspicuous display and hospitality.74 The "Instructions" and Vosey's letter suggest the scale of Mary's household. This household was so lavish that Henry, for the first and only time, granted Mary lands to help defray the costs of the establishment. The cost of her new household was around £4,500 per annum for her two and half year residency. This was over three times her household expenditure in the preceding years.75 Although women could hold legal title to land in England, it was still rare for them to receive grants in their own right, especially if they were unmarried or minors and Mary was both. According to the final folio of the "Instructions," Henry bestowed on Mary the counties of Bromfield, Yale, and Chirkland for "the supportacõn and maintenance of the chardgs for thestate and household of the said Princess," that is, to draw the necessary revenues to support and maintain the lavish scale of her household.76

55These grants provide important testimony regarding the scale of Mary's household, which was by now unquestionably princely. It had the full standing and function of a regional court. As such, Henry anticipated that it would attract local magnates and gentry to witness Mary's "high estate," her sumptuous lifestyle. Mary now finally presided over a household worthy of an heir to the throne.

56When the locals repaired to Mary's household, they would have found that the king had outfitted it to high standards. Her servants—all 213 of them—wore liveries of damask.77 Among the furniture that traveled with her to the Welsh Marches were goods to furnish three altars. These included two cushions of cloth of gold and another two of crimson velvet. Her keeper of the Wardrobe took a delivery of cloth of gold on August 11. Her privy chamber ladies were instructed to wear gowns of black velvet. She had a throne in the presence chamber.78

57From measuring instruments to senior staff, all household personnel and goods identified themselves as embodiments of her rank and privilege. Her senior servants wore damask liveries of her colors: blue and green. Her senior officers who also doubled as her privy councilors would have worn their own clothing but their servants, who were on Mary's payroll, would have worn her colors. This was an important indication of Mary's status. Her servants wore her colors, rather than the king's. Even the keeper of the princess' horse was expected to wear the damask livery (although presumably only on ceremonial or public occasions). Nothing was too small to escape identification with the princess, including the masking iron used for measuring that also bore her badge.79

58Although the king intended the household's new grandeur to reflect glory primarily on himself, he had also, perhaps with some personal misgivings, substantially enhanced Mary's credibility as his successor. Henry's elevation of Fitzroy to the dukedom of Richmond immediately after Charles V repudiated his betrothal to Mary in June 1525 may reflect these misgivings. Henry's decision to send Richmond to the north with his own viceregal household adds further credibility to the idea that the king was ambivalent about having Mary as his only heir now that she was no longer the linchpin in an Anglo-Imperial alliance, which had at one point looked likely to help Henry relive the conquest of France accomplished by Henry's already legendary ancestor and namesake, Henry V.

59 Cross Reference:
Appendix C: Creating and Investing a Prince of Wales
Whatever Henry's true intentions, by allowing Mary to preside over a viceregal household just as male Princes of Wales had before her, he fostered the impression that she was unquestionably the heir to the throne, the next ruler of England, and a de jure as well as a de facto Princess of Wales. Contemporaries now generally, if erroneously, referred to her as "Princess of Wales." Juan Luis Vives dedicated his educational treatise, Satellium, to her as "Princeps Walliae."80 The Imperial ambassador designated her as the Princess of Wales in his dispatches.81 This was not simply an error made by foreign observers. Official documents bore some of the responsibility by shortening the official title of her household council from "the king's commissioners with my lady Princess" to "the princess' council."82

60David Loades has uncovered evidence that Mary's Welsh household servants remained on the crown payroll as late as 1532, apparently in case she should return to hold court again in Ludlow Castle (the principal residence of the Prince of Wales, which Mary briefly occupied in 1526).83 Her former household council continued to govern the region under the name of "the princes council" until 1536—eight years after Mary left the Marches and two years after she was declared illegitimate by the first Act of Succession.

61This confusion over Mary's official status may be explained at least in part by the fact that her household, most particularly her Privy Council, performed very much as the households and councils of her male predecessors—actual Princes of Wales. By the mid-sixteenth century, it was customary to provide outlying borderlands like the Welsh and Scottish Marches with a royal viceregal figure to represent royal authority in areas where the actual sovereign would likely never visit. It was also customary by this point to draw these viceregal figures from the royal family. English sovereigns often dispatched their firstborn sons to the Welsh Marches in order to provide a satellite royal court, a visible manifestation of the English crown's control of the Welsh principality.

62In 1525, Henry and Wolsey reached the conclusion that both the Scottish and Welsh Marches required more direct supervision by royal officials. But the king had no legitimate son. He had no Prince of Wales to send to the Welsh Marches as his father, Henry VII, had sent Prince Arthur. Nor did he have a second son to dispatch to the Scottish Marches. Yet, both places had recently become nearly ungovernable: the Scottish border was the scene of mutual raiding on both sides, and the efforts of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, to stabilize the Welsh Marches had ended in failure.84 Generally, in the absence of any suitable royal male offspring, the monarch selected instead a nobleman with a substantial landed presence in or near Wales. The obvious choice in the 1520s was the Duke of Buckingham, whose patrimony included many substantial estates along the Welsh border. But English kings from Richard III to Henry VIII had a complicated relationship with the Buckingham family, the Staffords, which recently had resulted in the judicial execution of the last two dukes, including Edward Stafford, third Duke of Buckingham, in 1521.85 Something needed to be done about Wales, but the pool of viceregal figures available to the crown was depressingly small. Henry must, perforce, appoint the children he had: a bastard son and a legitimate daughter. Accordingly, he sent his son, Henry Fitzroy, to the Scottish marches along with a princely household, and dispatched his daughter to the Welsh marches with nearly the same fanfare and household as if she had been a male Prince of Wales.

63The lavishness of Mary's household in the Welsh Marches created confusion as to whether or not she had been granted the title of "Princess of Wales" by her father. This confusion was, perhaps, exacerbated by idiosyncratic nature of the way in which the title was bestowed and invested. The royal tradition for designating the monarch's firstborn son as "Prince of Wales" has remained remarkably stable for centuries. The associated procedures and legal status of the title are the same today as they were in late medieval England. The title "Prince of Wales" is (and has always been) in the sovereign's gift. The title is reserved only for the monarch's firstborn son. The sovereign can opt to withhold the title from his/her firstborn son, but does not have complete discretion over the granting of the title. Most important, the monarch cannot bestow the title "Prince of Wales" on anyone but the firstborn son, and that child must furthermore be the issue of a legally valid marriage. So Henry VIII could not bestow the title on his illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy. The other caveat relevant to this study is that during Henry VIII's time, the sovereign could not (and never could) bestow the title on a female.86

64Although these strictures are widely known among jurists, there has been less appreciation of the informality that has always been attendant on the initial designation of the monarch's first born son as "Prince of Wales." A Prince of Wales is "created" or granted the title by the monarch informally. The sovereign can "create" (designate) their firstborn son as "Prince of Wales" shortly after birth as Edward IV did for his son, the future Edward V and as Henry VIII would later do for his son, the future Edward VI. This designation need be nothing more than a witnessed verbal declaration, which finds confirmation in subsequent written documents. Edward VI's right to the title of Prince of Wales was confirmed by the crown in this way, as when Henry VIII issued instructions for Edward's first household of in which the infant was referred to as "prince of Wales and duke of Cornwall."87

65"Investing" a prince with the title "Prince of Wales" is a different and much more public matter. Though a sovereign might designate his firstborn son as Prince of Wales during the child's early infancy, the investiture often did not take place until years later when the prince was judged of sufficient age to withstand the ceremony. The "investiture" of a prince with the title involves not only elaborate ceremony but also a confirming act of Parliament. The confusion over "creating" and "investing" a royal offspring with the title was aggravated in the sixteenth century by the imprecise terminology employed on this issue even by those most vitally concerned. For instance, the first entry in the chronicle kept by Edward VI refers to his "creation" as Prince of Wales and explains that this ceremony was to take place but was cancelled when his father, Henry VIII, died and Edward acceded to the throne.88 Edward was referring here not to his informal "creation" as Prince of Wales, but rather to the formal public ceremony of his "investiture." He had held the title "Prince of Wales" since infancy, even signing himself "princeps" in his personal correspondence, but had not yet been invested with the title. It was the ceremony itself that was cancelled; Edward's assumption of the title of Prince of Wales remained unaffected.89

66This disjunction between the designation and the ceremonial investment of a Prince of Wales is something not widely appreciated in the sixteenth century. Edward VI, before his accession, was styled "Prince of Wales" in royal documents even though he never underwent a formal investiture ceremony.90 In this, he followed in his father's footsteps. After the death of Arthur, Prince of Wales, his father Henry VII declared verbally that his younger son, Prince Henry, was now Prince of Wales. But Prince Henry (the future Henry VIII) did not undergo a formal investiture ceremony nor was he granted the revenues of the principality as enjoyed by his brother before him. Despite this lack of ceremonial and public confirmation of the title, contemporaries understood in both cases that these princes held the title "Prince of Wales."

67It is not surprising, therefore, that some of Mary's contemporaries drew the erroneous impression from her household on the Welsh Marches (which so resembled in scale and function those of preceding Princes of Wales) that she, too, had been granted the title. Given all this ambiguity, it appears that the scale of Mary's household in the Welsh marches, evoking as it did the establishments of previous male Princes of Wales, was taken by many as a clear indication that Mary held the title officially.

68To ensure that modern readers do not share in this confusion, it is necessary to be clear about this here: Mary was neither created nor invested as Princess of Wales. In the sixteenth century (and at the time of this writing), a woman was not eligible to hold the title in her own right. The designation "Princess of Wales" was reserved only for the wife of the Prince of Wales. There are no official documents originated by the crown which refer to Mary by the title Princess of Wales or Prince of Wales.

69The designation referring to "princes council" signifies only that spelling has changed over the intervening centuries. The modern word "princess" was often spelled with only one "s" in the sixteenth century. Moreover, the possessive was often not employed and rarely with the type of punctuation common to modern usage. The "princes council" is properly translated into modern idiom as "the princess' council" with the term princess indicating Mary's rank as "my lady princess" rather than as a female Prince (or Princess) of Wales.

70Despite this, Mary's princely household in the Welsh Marches associated her very strongly with the Principality. As indicated earlier, this association—grounded in the visible scale and status of Mary's household—was compelling enough to lead observers both foreign and domestic into the assumption that Mary held the title officially. This association persisted long after Mary left the marches for good in 1527. Mary's Privy Purse accounts from 1536 until 1543 record regular presents of leeks, a popular symbol of Wales, presented to her by a yeoman of the king's guard every year on St. David's Day.91 Jane Dormer, a privy chamber lady in Mary's later households, insisted to her biographer that Mary had held the title of "Princess of Wales."92 One of the more remarkable instances of this continuing association is contained in William Forrest's poem on Catherine of Aragon, whom he identifies in the title as Grisild the Second. In this poem, printed in the last year of Queen Mary's reign in 1558, Forrest pointed to Mary's princely household as the mechanism by which she acquired an aura of sovereignty at a young age:

Suche complaynte (syttinge all solytarye)
Goode Grysilde wolde ofte vnto herselfe make,
Prayinge to God for her Doughter Marye,
That hee of her the gouernement wolde take . . .
Whoe at that season, as Pryncesse soueraigne,
At Ludlowe kepte howseholde much honorablye . . .93

71In view of Henry's ambivalence regarding Mary's succession in 1525, it is likely that he later considered her viceregal household to have been altogether too successful in elevating her political status. Henry must have found this success even more inconvenient once he resolved his doubts about a female succession by instituting divorce proceedings against Catherine of Aragon in 1527 with the aim of disinheriting Mary. The king now found himself in the awkward position of trying to undermine Mary's claim on the succession only a short time after he had spent lavish sums to establish her as his viceregal representative in the Welsh Marches.

72The elevation of Mary's political profile through her Welsh household may help to explain why, later, men such as Robert Aske were uneasy about the passage of the second Act of Succession in 1536, which disinherited the princess. According to the Imperial ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, the English and especially the Welsh exhibited great personal loyalty to Mary during the 1530s.94 The king had presented Mary to the political nation as its one of two possible future rulers (the other being Fitzroy) by granting her a materially impressive household in the Welsh Marches just as if she were a Princess of Wales. The polity had responded to this household image-making with a level of enthusiasm that became, by the mid-1530s, severely embarrassing to the king. In 1533, Henry's new daughter Elizabeth was born. Mary's household history as the unofficial Princess of Wales made her too great a threat to Elizabeth's succession rights. Having promoted Mary via the household, the king set out to demote her by the same means.


Legitimacy by Household: The Competing Succession Claims of Mary and Elizabeth Tudor within Their Combined Household, 1533–1536

73Henry VIII continued to exploit the household as a forum for the display of status in order to publicize his own views of the succession. With Elizabeth's birth in September 1533, the king now had two daughters. According to common law, if the English crown were simply an item of property, then both of his daughters would inherit equal shares of the country. But the crown was also an office, and therefore could not be divided. There could be only one heir. The king signaled which daughter was his chosen successor through his direct regulation of the scale and splendor of their respective households.

74In 1527, a few months before Mary returned from the Welsh Marches, Henry began divorce proceedings against her mother, Catherine of Aragon. The Pope rejected Henry's argument that the previous Pope had been in error when he granted a dispensation that allowed Henry to wed Catherine, even though she was the widow of his deceased brother. In retaliation for the Pope's refusal to overrule the previous dispensation, Henry instigated a separation of the English church from the Roman Catholic Church via parliamentary legislation in 1533. The fine details of the king's "Great Matter" have already been treated at length in other works, and so will not be detailed here.95 Furthermore, the king announced that he had married Anne Boleyn in the spring of that year. In May, Boleyn was crowned queen-consort of England and gave birth to Elizabeth in September. Throughout the divorce proceedings, from 1528 until 1533, Mary no longer presided over a viceregal household. Nevertheless, a favorable comment by an unknown Milanese envoy in England in the early 1530s suggests that the scale of her household was still suitable to one of her rank as the king's only acknowledged, if increasingly, contested heir.96

75After Elizabeth's birth, the king wasted little time in reducing Mary's status. Significantly, his first target was her household. According to the Imperial ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, within days of Elizabeth's christening, Henry commanded that Mary's servants cease to wear her liveries and, instead, wear the king's.97 This was a telling move. It is not too much of an anachronistic distortion to claim that Mary's household was "downsized" both in terms of scale and status. Mary's household had reverted to the standing it had assumed between 1516 and 1519: it was merely a dependent adjunct to the king's, rather than the satellite court of the king's immediate successor. Henry had stripped Mary's household of its status both literally and symbolically. It was a clear forewarning of the king's later plan to subsume Mary's household into that of Elizabeth's.

76Throughout these years, the king had showed a genuine personal affection for Mary, even if his support for her as his successor was minimal at times.98 Initially, therefore, he hoped to persuade her to accept the Boleyn marriage despite its inevitable implication of her own disinheritance. Henry determined that the strongest incentive he could offer to secure her acquiescence was the continuation of her household on nearly the same scale it enjoyed prior to Elizabeth's birth. A checkeroll listing of all Mary's household officers and department heads as well as her senior staff carries the date of October 1533, a month after Elizabeth's birth.99 The list provides a snapshot of Mary's household on the eve before she was to experience considerable loss in status as a result of the imminent reduction of her household.

77Indeed, the list initially presents something of a puzzle. The king had already announced plans to reduce Mary's household shortly after Elizabeth's birth in September. Yet the list contains exalted names apparently indicating that in October 1533 that Mary's household was still of sufficient status to attract the service and residency of Margaret, Countess of Salisbury and Lady Margaret Douglas (Henry VIII's niece). Did the October list represent a description of Mary's household as it actually existed, or was it instead a fantasy household offered to Mary, via the checkeroll, as an inducement to accept her own disinheritance? There is not enough evidence for a definitive answer. Given the positive comment by the Milanese envoy around this time that Mary's household was appropriate to her (then) status as heir to the throne combined with the rarity of household lists taking the form of fantasy literature and the tradition of compiling such lists for accounting during October, this study proceeds on the assumption that the October list of 1533 was an accurate depiction of Mary's household.

78This October list indicates that, as late as 1533, Mary continued to preside over an aristocratic privy chamber staff including Margaret, countess of Salisbury, Ladies Douglas, Maltravers, and Hussey, supported by eight gentlewomen.100 Her household contained the full complement of departments found in aristocratic and princely households. Although it was not comparable to her viceregal household of 1525, it was similar in scale to the household she had enjoyed from 1519 until 1525.

79In late October/early November, Mary apparently refused to acknowledge officially the validity of the Boleyn marriage and her own disinheritance.101 Her refusal is the likely motive for Henry's order that his Privy Council, in late October/early November, outline a plan for reducing her household; according to Chapuys, however, diminishing Mary's status in this way was so politically charged that after debating the various options, the council could not resolve upon a plan of action.102 On December 2, the Privy Council finally obliged the king by resolving to reduce the scale of Mary's household while at the same time arranging for the conveying of Elizabeth to her new residence of Hatfield.103 Later in the same month the council promised "to set order and establishment of the pryncesse dowagers [Catherine's] house with all celeryte and also of my lady Maryes house."104 At the same meeting, the Privy Council also put on the agenda "a full conclusion and determynacion to be taken for my Lady prynces house [Elizabeth]."105 Within a few days, the king ordered a Privy Council delegation to leave for Mary's residence and unveil the king's plan for her living arrangements in light of her refusal to cooperate. The delegation informed Mary that the king had decided to deprive her of her separate household. 106 From now on, she would share a single establishment with Elizabeth, the younger half-sister who had supplanted as heir to the throne.

80From December 1533, Mary had to share accommodation in Elizabeth's manors as part of a combined household in which she was very much the junior partner. The king allowed Mary to retain some of her servants such as Margaret, Countess of Salisbury; others, such as Lady Margaret Douglas, were transferred to Elizabeth's "side" of the household.107 Technically, Henry did not entirely deprive Mary of her household but, rather subsumed it into a combined household focused primarily on Elizabeth. The combined household was intended specifically to contrast the princely "state"—that is, lifestyle—of Elizabeth with the diminished state of Mary, and to anticipate in dress, furnishings and staff that which the first Act of Succession would shortly make law: that Elizabeth, not Mary, was the heir to the throne. The king also intended that the new household manifest a point that this Act would fail to articulate: that Mary was illegitimate and therefore ineligible to inherit. (The Act confirmed that Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon was invalid but did not explicitly state that Mary was illegitimate.)108

81The distinction between the sisters was made apparent from the beginning. At least, this was the impression fostered by the Imperial ambassador, Eutace Chapuys, biased as he was in favor of Catherine and Mary. Chapuys claimed that the material distinction observed in the combined household clearly was skewed to exalt Elizabeth at Mary's expense.109 According to Eric Ives, Queen Anne wanted to drive home the distinction between her daughter, the real princess, and the now illegitimate Lady Mary. Anne Boleyn's accounts reveal that she personally selected the sumptuous materials—satin, velvet, damask, and so on—that would clothe her infant daughter. Elizabeth slept under a bedspread of russet damask.110 She wore caps of purple satin and taffeta. She warmed her infant hands in a black fur muffler trimmed with a white satin ribbon. According to Ives, Anne was practicing "the politics of ostentation" in order to manifest Elizabeth's exalted status—questioned by Roman Catholics at home and abroad.111 (This is not to discount the likelihood that in addition to furthering her political agenda Queen Anne was also indulging in the pleasure of a wealthy parent dressing up her only child.)

82If Anne was trying to enhance her daughter's legitimacy through material consumption, she had good reason to do so. For years after Elizabeth's birth, Mary was still a legitimate heir to the throne even if she was clearly not the first choice of the royal couple. Mary was illegitimate according to the English Church that had declared her parents' marriage invalid in the spring of 1533. This was only partially confirmed by Parliament. The first Act of Succession in October 1534 gave the church's ruling statutory support but did not explicitly declare Mary illegitimate, nor deprive her of her succession rights.112

83The details of Mary's clothing and chamber furnishings for these years do not survive. State documents do reveal that Mary's depleted coffers were seized and her remaining servants detained.113 It is usually assumed that both Mary and Catherine of Aragon led a deprived existence after the birth of Elizabeth in 1533. Understandably, biographers of the two women have assumed that the Privy Council's orders to reduce the household of Catherine and to conflate Mary's into that of Elizabeth's resulted in considerable hardship for both Mary and Catherine.114 Imposing hardship or penury on either woman would, however, have been counterproductive to Henry's political intent. His goal was to manifest through their households that both Catherine and Mary were royal, but they were not to be treated according to their former titles of queen-consort and lady princess. Henry claimed, and there is evidence to support him, that the households he granted both Catherine and Mary after Elizabeth's birth were entirely appropriate to their new status as (respectively) princess-dowager of Wales (Catherine) and the king's "natural" or bastard daughter (Mary).

84Catherine enjoyed revenues and an independent household as the dowager princess of Wales. Henry granted Catherine not only an extensive household commensurate with her royal status but also estates to generate enough revenue to fund her establishment. Catherine was invested as dowager Princess of Wales by Act of Parliament, giving her legal title to lands and revenues that amounted to an income of around £3,000 p.a.115 Furthermore, Henry approved an act of Parliament declaring Catherine a femme sole, which meant that Catherine held her lands and manors in her own legal right.116 If Catherine were to (re)marry, then her lands would not pass out of her control; her new husband could not dispose of them or draw revenues from them without Catherine's explicit permission. Because Catherine died without legitimate offspring (at least according to Parliament and the English church), her lands reverted to the crown on her death.

85No similar provisions were made for Mary. Unlike her mother, she was given no lands to support an independent household. This was consistent with her status as the king's natural or bastard daughter. Indeed, for an illegitimate royal offspring, Mary enjoyed a level of household status that was generous and indicative of Henry's personal affection for her. Although her household was little more than a glorified Privy Chamber staff whose first loyalty was to the king, the fact that she had a Privy Chamber staff at all was indicative that she still enjoyed high status. Her household existed through the king's generosity, but that was fully consistent with her status as his natural daughter—something the king's chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, was at pains to point out to Henry's critics.117 She was not, as Eustace Chapuys claimed at times, a servant in Elizabeth's household. She is not listed as part of the Privy Chamber staff of Elizabeth's household. Rather, Mary's household formed one half of a combined establishment funded by the crown.118

86Although the conditions in which Catherine and Mary now lived were still very far indeed from penury, their households certainly reflected the reduction in their status. No longer queen-consort, Catherine ceased to control the considerable patrimony granted to the king's wife. This patrimony now belonged to the new queen-consort, Anne Boleyn. Mary was no longer the only legitimate child of the king, no longer the acknowledged heir to the throne. She was now merely the king's natural daughter. As such, she was on a similar footing to her cousin, Lady Margaret Douglas; in fact, as a bastard, Mary was technically a rung or two below her cousin on the legal ladder. As such, Mary was no longer entitled to an independent household or to estates to fund such a household. Henry stripped Mary of all these, and installed her instead in the newly created combined household of his "children." There are no indications that Mary's staff was less numerous than Elizabeth's, nor any that her furnishings less elaborate. All the same, the contrast is striking: while Anne Boleyn was spending lavishly on Elizabeth's behalf, Mary's revenues were curtailed and her coffers seized, suggesting a stark contrast between the two sisters' respective status under the new order of things. The new combined household was arranged to leave visitors to this establishment in no doubt as to which of the king's daughters was his legitimate heir and which was not.

87That Henry was scrupulous in his household provision for both Catherine and Mary is clearly revealed in a surviving set of instructions that Henry issued to Sir Thomas Wyatt, English ambassador at the court of Charles V. In these instructions, written by Henry's chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, it is clear that Henry was acutely sensitive to the allegations that he had acted unjustly in reducing the households and "state" of Catherine and Mary. The Emperor Charles, as Catherine's nephew and Mary's cousin, evinced concern over the treatment of his relatives now that Henry had repudiated his first marriage. In 1534, Cromwell instructed Wyatt to allay Charles's fears, and to assure him that Catherine and Mary were being treated generously, and in every respect to the standard that their new legal status warranted:

And as touching that whiche is spoken thence that the saide lady Katherine shold not be honorablie and well intreated as to suche a p[er]sonage aperteyneth. To that both vnto the Emperor and his Counsaile or to any other that will also affirme ye may trulie allege that such reporte and brute [rumor] is untrue affirmynge that in all thinges belonging to the saide lady Katherine both in the honorable establishinge of hir house wt hir officers and s[e]rv[a]ntes and in the allotting and apoynting vnto hir of londes tentes possessions and all other things condign for such an estate, it is donne in every thing to the best that can be deuised and the like also of or doughter the lady Mary which we do order and entertayne as we thinke most expedyent and also as to vs semyth pertynent ffor we thinke it not mete that any pson shold perscrybe vnto vs how we shold order or own dowghter we being her naturall ffather which thinges or plesure is that ye boldlie and assuredlie shall declare and defend.119

88Most of documents from Mary's household during from this period have not survived, making it necessary to glean as much as possible from the few still extant. An account by the steward of the combined household, Sir John Shelton, indicates at least one important point: Mary insisted on special treatment within the new combined household. Shelton's account was intended to explain why the combined household was costing more than the crown anticipated. He placed some of the blame on Mary, claiming that she was insisting on the same diet she had enjoyed when she had her own autonomous household:

Item, where the lady Mary, the King's daughter after she was restored to her health of her late infirmity, being in her own house, was much desirous to have meat immediately after she was ready in the morning, or else she should be in danger eftsoons to return to her said infirmity . . . therefore the said lady Mary, whose appetite was to have meat in the morning according to her accustomed diet, desired to have her breakfast somewhat the larger, to the intent that she would eat little more meat unto supper for the continuance and preservation of her health.120

89Although Mary was able to overawe Shelton into continuing to indulge her in expensive dietary preferences, this was probably one the few concessions allowed her. Taking together the information available from Anne Boleyn's accounts, from Henry's instructions to his ambassador, and from Shelton's report, it is possible to infer the materiality of Mary's life in the combined household. Her "state" was respectable, royal, but carefully distinguished from that of a legitimate princess or a credible successor to the throne. Mary was certainly not in rags, but it was the infant Elizabeth who now received guests beneath satin cloths of estate. The king likely reduced Mary's material "state" to a point at which the contrast between her furnishings and clothing and those of Elizabeth would have been obvious even to the most casual observer. Contemporaries would have recognized that the sumptuousness of Princess Elizabeth's clothes and furnishings indicated that the support of the crown now belonged entirely to her.

90In essence, Henry and Anne were attempting to "legitimize" Elizabeth through the household "politics of ostentation." Her clothing and state were intended to convey a birthright that the innovative nature of her parents' union could not by itself guarantee. This strategy apparently achieved some success. An indication of the importance of material signs in conveying political status is revealed in the diplomatic correspondence of French envoys visiting Henry's court. During the 1534 negotiations for a marriage between the Princess Elizabeth and the third son of the King of France, French diplomats were invited to examine the king's youngest daughter who had been brought to court especially for the occasion. The diplomats, familiar with court magnificence, were nevertheless impressed with little Elizabeth's very rich apparel, which they conceded gave her the appearance of an exalted royal princess.121

91All of this suggests a strong contrast in the material existence of the two sisters, even though they were living under the same roof. Elizabeth was dressed with conspicuous consumption by her mother, but it is highly unlikely that Anne Boleyn purchased anything like this for Mary. Elizabeth probably had the much larger staff. It is likely that Mary and her staff occupied rooms that were noticeably less well appointed than Elizabeth's.122 Mary now lived a visibly reduced existence as part of a combined household with Elizabeth.

92At first, the king's policy of reducing Mary's status appears to have had the desired effect. Some among her staff became convinced that continued service in her household was unlikely to offer career advancement. Her French tutor, Giles Duwes, with her since her time in the Welsh Marches, left her household in 1533 and wrote her a guilty little letter that he sheepishly noted was "written by your vnworthy seruant the nyght that he toke leue of your grace."123 The reduction of Mary's household, evidently, eroded Duwes's faith in Mary's political future; as he confessed that his departure might be permanent, "nat knowing if I shall haue grace to retourne in your seruyce or no."124

93Mary's diminished household dismayed others besides her servants such as Duwes. Chapuys was convinced Mary's status had fallen so low that she was herself a servant in Elizabeth's Privy Chamber, but this unlikely suggestion has not been confirmed by any other source.125 His comment indicates that Mary's household reduction was such a startlingly public indication of her demotion as to make even such melodramatic developments seem possible. Catherine of Aragon worried that Mary would find herself completely bereft of all her household staff and "shall haue no body to be wt you of your acqwayntaunce."126

94That people close to Mary were so worried indicates that Henry's strategy was enjoying some success. By depriving her of her independent household and conflating her establishment with that of Elizabeth, the king had signaled a dramatic change in Mary's status. Whatever personal views people may have held, they understood that it was now dangerous to treat Mary in public as if she were still a royal heir or a princely figure. By stripping Mary of her "state"—her household with its staff of servants wearing her liveries, its ornate furnishings, and some aristocratic members from its Privy Chamber—Henry hoped to neutralize the threat that Mary posed to Elizabeth's status as heir.

95Ultimately, however, the strategy failed. The king intended the conflated household to anticipate parliamentary legislation that Henry hoped would declare explicitly that Mary was barred from inheriting the throne. Despite the household reduction in Mary's status, Parliament failed to oblige the king in the first Act of Succession (1534). The Act declared that Elizabeth was the heir to the throne but omitted any explicit exclusion of Mary from the succession on grounds of her illegitimacy. Worse yet for the king, the leaders of the 1536 grassroots revolt known as the "Pilgrimage of Grace" demanded that Mary's succession rights be safeguarded and even further, be advanced in preference to Elizabeth's.127

96The importance attached by this group to Mary's succession rights was a puzzle that preoccupied state officials as they interrogated Robert Aske, one of the ringleaders.128 When asked about the demand concerning Mary's succession rights, Aske claimed that he believed Mary the most credible opponent to any future Scottish succession to the English throne. Aske was referring to the claims of the Scottish king, James V, who as a descendant of the Tudors had a viable claim to the throne in the event that Henry VIII were to die without a legitimate son to succeed him. Aske's reasons for his conviction regarding Mary's credibility could be religiously motivated in that, if he was a Catholic, he could not accept that the English church had authority to rule invalid the king's marriage to Catherine of Aragon. As far as English Catholics were concerned, Mary remained Henry's eldest legitimate offspring. This, combined with a prescient assessment of the "Scottish" claim (James V's grandson James VI would eventually inherit the English throne), led to the rebels' demand that Mary's succession rights be officially recognized by king and Parliament.

97 Another admittedly less tangible and quantifiable reason that may have played a role in the rebels' demand for the safeguarding of Mary's succession rights could be that the political nation, the polity, had by now formed the habit of regarding Mary as their next sovereign. For seventeen years, Mary had been the king's only legitimate offspring. Her probable future as the next sovereign of England had been acknowledged in England and abroad since 1519. In 1525, she had presided over a viceregal household reminiscent of male heirs to the throne—that is, of Princes of Wales—as if she were serving the apprenticeship customary to heirs to the throne. Mary's households had played a part, arguably a very significant part, in convincing the polity that Mary was the most credible heir and the best defense against a Scottish succession. An instance of this lingering habit of obedience to Mary concerns a member of this Welsh household. One of Mary's gentlewomen from the Welsh household, Anne Hussey, was imprisoned in 1536 because she referred to Mary, inadvertently, as "my lady Princess" when asking a servant to bring them both a drink. In her deposition, she readily admitted that she knew the second Act of Succession in 1536 had effectively deprived Mary of the title of "Princess" but said she thoughtlessly reverted to "custom" during the incident.129 Lady Hussey's words were all the more worrying because her husband, Lord Hussey, had once been the Lord Chamberlain of Mary's household, and was directly implicated in the 1536 Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion that called for Mary's restoration to the succession.130

98The conclusion that the scale of Mary's previous households could have played a large role in conferring (rather than simply reflecting) status on Mary is supported by a range of documents attesting to the lasting impact of Mary's viceregal household of 1525. The recurring gifts to her on St. David's Day, the continuation of the household itself and of the "princes council" after her departure in 1527, the invocation of Mary as a "princess sovereign" in Ludlow in 1558 all indicate that this household at least made a deep impression on Mary's contemporaries. It provided the setting in which Mary had been proclaimed as the female equivalent of a Prince of Wales. Her pre-1525 households had been enhanced when occasion demanded, as during her reception of the French envoys in 1521, that she be publicly presented as the future sovereign of England. In 1533, just as Mary was deprived of her independent household, Giles Duwes published his French grammar book in which he represented Mary as a young but absolute prince presiding authoritatively over her own court in Ludlow. There is no record that Aske or any of the other pilgrimage rebels met Mary. Although their loyalty to Mary doubtless stemmed in part from religious conviction, as well as a nationalistic fear of a Scottish succession, there is no reason to exclude the possibility that they had also absorbed and internalized the message that Henry had worked so hard to broadcast (quite probably to his later regret) through the material opulence and exalted staff of Mary's households from 1519 to 1533: Mary was the next ruler of England, a sovereign princess.

99Anne Boleyn was executed in May 1536. Within two weeks, Henry wed Jane Seymour. He was now determined to cleanly rid the succession of his most credible heirs—his daughters—in order to make way either for his own offspring by Jane, or else for a male successor of his own choosing (probably either Richmond or James V of Scotland). In July 1536, Parliament confirmed in the second Act of Succession that the king's second marriage was invalid, and that Elizabeth was therefore illegitimate. This Act finally provided the explicit disinheritance of Mary that Henry had sought several years earlier. The rebels in the Pilgrimage of Grace called for Mary's restoration to the succession. Immediately after the suppression of the rebellion, Henry put pressure directly on Mary herself to acknowledge the validity of the stipulations in the second Act of Succession. The king felt he could no longer tolerate her attitude of passive resistance, since it might encourage others to withhold recognition of the legitimacy of his future offspring. After Henry signalled that he was prepared to proceed even more harshly against her, Mary finally submitted in late July and sent the king a written statement acknowledging her own disinheritance.

100Three years after her household had been reduced, and during the turbulent year in which both Anne Boleyn and Catherine of Aragon died, Mary acknowledged the legal validity of her own disinheritance in a written document to the king.

101After showing Mary that he would not hesitate to wield the stick if necessary, Henry was equally swift in offering the carrot. He rewarded Mary for her submission by making her the senior partner in the conflated household. Conversely, he demoted three-year-old Elizabeth (who was still officially his heir after Anne Boleyn's death in May until the second Act of Succession in July 1533) to subordinate status. The king provided neither of his daughters with an independent household suitable to an heir to the throne.

102A checkeroll drawn up in 1536 indicates that after her submission to the king's demand, Mary was permitted a privy chamber staff of twenty-five, rather larger than the seventeen-member composition of Elizabeth's Privy Household Council.132 Apparently, more servants were on their way to Mary as evidenced by her letters during this period to the king's new chief minister, Thomas Cromwell. She requested that certain of her former servants, specified by name, be allowed to reenter her service.133 Mary's first Privy Chamber accounts date from this period of her rehabilitation.134 Her signature appears at the bottom of numerous pages, and hand-written corrections and notations appear frequently, indicating that she reviewed these accounts very closely.135 She appears to have paid particular attention to her jewels, signing every page of their inventory, and also scrutinizing and correcting the notations as to their current locations, further emphasizing the direct personal interest she took in her material resources, now finding renewal as an expression of her somewhat recovered status.

103Courtiers once again sent her expensive New Year's gifts. The king, queen, Cromwell, the dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk (and their wives), along with leading magnates and royal officials of the realm all sent her gifts to mark the New Year of 1537. Just as importantly, Mary was now in a position to reciprocate. For example, she sent to her longtime supporter Sir Anthony Browne a gold and ruby brooch when he drew her name as his valentine, and to the Duchess of Norfolk she sent a gold and garnet brooch.136 Mary gave similar brooches to Anne Seymour, Countess of Hertford and Jane Dudley, Lady Lisle.

104From this period, Mary's household is conflated with Elizabeth's only in a technical sense. Both households appeared in the king's accounts.137 They also shared a few senior officers such as the steward. In general, however, Mary spent much of her time at court or in country residences on her own. She shared accommodation with Elizabeth occasionally over the next few years, but only for brief and intermittent periods. While Mary was at court in the aftermath of her submission to the king, Elizabeth's establishment was, quite literally, looking the worse for wear.

105According to Margaret Bryan, her governess, Elizabeth's household now lacked the resources to provide appropriate clothing for the growing toddler. In her letter to Cromwell written between May and July 1536, Bryan claimed that the household was in such straits because of the uncertainty surrounding Elizabeth's status. From the time of Anne Boleyn's execution in May, until Parliament's passage of the second Act of Succession in July, Elizabeth remained, legally, the king's only heir. Nevertheless, her mother had been executed for adultery and the English church had declared her parents' marriage invalid. Bryan summarized the confusion in her letter, noting that Elizabeth "es pot from that degre she was afor."138

106Bryan's letter is undated, but her concern regarding Elizabeth's uncertain status indicates that it was written during this interim period between Anne Boleyn's execution, and the passage of the second Act of Succession. The Act formalized Elizabeth's status as the king's illegitimate daughter; after its passage, therefore, there would have been no need for Bryan to seek clarification from Cromwell. On this basis, it can be inferred with confidence that Bryan's letter to Cromwell must have been written sometime between May and July 1536.

107Elizabeth's uncertain political standing was made all too visible in her ill-fitting clothes. Bryan pleaded with Cromwell "that she may haue som rayment" for the little girl had neither "gown nor kertel nor petecot."139 Bryan begged Cromwell to intercede with the king so that Elizabeth might "haue that es nedful for har."140 Just as Elizabeth's lavish clothing had previously given her the appearance of king's only legitimate heir, so now her outgrown wardrobe signified her diminished political importance.

108Paradoxically, Bryan's letter reveals that the staff of Elizabeth's household, although hard pressed to clothe their young mistress properly, still managed to entertain on a scale sufficiently lavish to cause concern for Elizabeth's health and social development. Apparently, the steward of the combined household, John Shelton, insisted that Elizabeth preside over the main meal "euery day at the bord of astate" (board of estate or high table).141 Bryan felt that in this setting, the politics of ostentation might present dangerous temptation to the three-year-old Elizabeth, who would be unable to resist the "dyvers metes" and other rich foods laid out in the great hall. In Bryan's view, Elizabeth was far too young to preside over such a display of gastronomic hospitality, to "kepe syche rewl yet." 142 Elizabeth's practical ability to operate as head of the household was clearly limited by her age. As discussed later in this study, her minority was later to present recurring difficulties in maintaining the status and order of her household. Even while Elizabeth remained an infant, however, Bryan felt obliged to draw attention to what she saw as a serious imbalance in the household's priorities: the banquet table consistently offered food both rich and plentiful, while its young mistress could scarcely be attired appropriately to preside over it.

109Elizabeth's household was moving toward crisis, with the issue of display and hospitality at its focus. Bryan saw it as fundamental that Elizabeth should be clothed always in a manner appropriate to a king's daughter. By contrast, Shelton evidently believed the highest priority was to maintain the standard of household hospitality that had been established during the period when Elizabeth was the king's only acknowledged heir, embodied most clearly in the lavish table over which the three-year-old princess formally presided. Bryan's depiction of Shelton accords with that found in other records. Shelton made repeated requests for money to Cromwell and other officials to help fund the household's increasingly inappropriate hospitality, to the point that officials were becoming exasperated.143 Either the money was not forthcoming soon enough for Shelton, or was simply inadequate for his ambitions, for he most likely authorized a Ralph Shelton (presumably a relative) to set up a poaching scheme involving several of the steward's servants in the parklands surrounding Hatfield.144 No wonder Elizabeth's high table had such "dyvers metes."

110Ralph Shelton spent a term in the Fleet prison for the poaching; John Shelton's punishment, if any, is unknown.145 Indeed, in August 1536, Henry went against the advice of government officials in authorizing a payment of four thousand pounds to Shelton as the "steward of our children's household" to fund the yearly expenses both of Mary and Elizabeth in the (technically) combined household.146 By 1537, however, Shelton was no longer steward of Elizabeth's household. William Cholmely, Mary's steward/cofferer after her return from the Welsh Marches, took over these duties for the combined household.147

111Taken together, Shelton's activities and Bryan's letter indicate that the standard of hospitality offered by Elizabeth's household was a matter of heated debate and serious concern. Bryan directly linked Elizabeth's uncertain political status—was she a princess, the king's bastard, or the product of one of Anne Boleyn's alleged extramarital liaisons?—to the conflict and tension in her household. Shelton's motives are harder to discern; he was willing to risk imprisonment (at least of another, possibly a relative) and his own dismissal in order to maintain the impression through lavish hospitality that Elizabeth was still a princess, the heir to the throne. Perhaps his kinship to Elizabeth (his wife was Anne Boleyn's paternal aunt) caused him to feel personally invested in trying to maintain her princely status through the household. Perhaps motivated by personal ambition, he preferred to see himself as steward of a grand household, rather than the relatively modest and more economical establishment that Bryan outlined in her letter to Cromwell.

112As demonstrated by the events described earlier in this chapter, the combined household of Mary and Elizabeth served as a medium through which Henry VIII publicized his views regarding the succession. In 1533, Henry VIII publicly demoted Mary by doing away with her separate household. After Anne Boleyn's death, the king's neglect of Elizabeth's household and wardrobe signalled the reduction in Elizabeth's status. Henry VIII's regulation of his daughters' households anticipated their legal disinheritance, which was formalized in due course in the 1536 Act of Succession. This Act finally put into statute the political reality already articulated visibly in the combined household of the princesses. By denying separate households to Elizabeth and Mary after 1536, the king signalled his clear preference that neither of his daughters should succeed him. Indeed, he exhibited a special concern to keep Mary's household within prescribed limits, and potential staff were turned away by the crown with the warning that "her grace shall have no more than her number."148 After Prince Edward's birth in 1537, Henry moved at once to signal that his son was henceforth to be regarded as his successor, permitting Edward alone among his children to preside over a princely household. During the years prior to the prince's birth, when biology and Parliament were both slow to oblige the Henry in his hopes and plans for the succession, Henry used changes in the scale and splendor of his daughters' households as a means to signal the relative standing among his children with regard to the succession.


Furnishing Political Status: Mary's and Elizabeth's Selection of Household Goods from Henry VIII's Inventory, 1547–1548

113Henry VIII's last will and testament specified that Mary and Elizabeth each were to receive £3,000 "to lyve on" in "money plate jewelz and household stuffe."149 For reasons discussed later in this study, this stipulation was in fact honored in the form of property. Instead of receiving household goods as bequests, the princesses received, on loan, a selection of household goods from Henry VIII's storehouses.

114 Of all of the princesses' biographers, only David Starkey, in his biography of Elizabeth, has devoted any attention to this furniture loan. Starkey regards the loan as indicative only of "royal furnishings" and he views the Privy Council as the agent determining what goods the princesses received.150 I argue that it is more likely that the princesses personally selected these furnishings rather than the Privy Council. I also demonstrate that their selections were more than royal decorative statements. Their selections reveal that the princesses fully appreciated the value of household display in relation to political status. Their selections provide a rare glimpse of Mary's and Elizabeth's direct involvement in the creation of their public images. Through these selections, the princesses, as heads of households, were able to showcase their political ambitions and religious preoccupations.

115 Because the crown palaces were bursting with furnishings, the government of Prince Edward, now King Edward VI, decided that a detailed inventory was in order. This was a considerable undertaking, as Henry VIII was the Citizen Kane of his day with vast stores of furnishings and "stuff" crammed in palatial storehouses at the various royal residences. At Greenwich, for instance, the Edwardian government recognized the necessity of appointing extra officials "for the salf keapynge and often ayerynge, beatyng, turnyng and brusshyng" of all the royal textiles.151 Not surprisingly, the new government was only too happy to entrust some of the goods to the keeping of the princesses. This inventory of Henry VIII's household goods—hereafter referred to as the "Inventory"—preserves a description of those goods that Mary and Elizabeth received or, as the Inventory phrased it, "dothe remayne in the charge of her graces officers at the kinges majesties pleasure."152

116Regardless of whether Mary and Elizabeth selected personally the items listed in the Inventory, it is probable that the Privy Council set limits on the number of items the princesses could choose. This is indicated by the concern expressed during the Council's first recorded meeting in February 1547 in the Tower of London—where the nine-year-old Edward lodged, as custom dictated, before his coronation. In this meeting, members of the council argued that the security of the realm depended on the preservation of the king's "juelles, plate or other riche hanginges."153 These provided the young king with a quick means to raise cash, in the event that the Emperor Charles V or the French king were to attack England. The councilors considered the retention of these goods necessary for the honorable "discharge [of] our selfes towardes God and the worlde."154 In view of these sentiments, the councilors would hardly have allowed the princesses free rein in choosing as many items as they wished from the royal storehouses, but would instead have imposed strict limits.

117Another indication that the princesses were subject to constraints in making their selections comes from the very unequal distribution of the furniture between the two of them, the lion's share going to Mary. She received twenty-four large Persian rugs; Elizabeth, on the other hand, received only "Nyne small Carpettes of Turquy making" along with four others, for a total of only thirteen relatively undistinguished pieces; the list of Elizabeth's items describes several as "olde and worne." Unlike Mary, Elizabeth obtained no beds, no linens of Holland cloth, and no feather pillows. Indeed, the furnishings to be delivered to Mary were so numerous and bulky that she requested the government to supply her with new carts to transport them. Elizabeth received no new carts, either because she did not obtain enough goods to warrant them, or because her request was refused. It is unlikely that Elizabeth would have chosen fewer and older items than her sister as a matter of self-restraint; its is far more plausible that the Privy Council restricted Elizabeth's selections much more tightly than Mary's, with regard both to the quality and quantity of goods allowed.

118Having recognized this, the nature of the selections suggest nevertheless that the Privy Council did not itself choose specific items but, rather, allowed each princess to select according to her own preference from among a predetermined range. This would be in keeping with the property grants to the princesses, made in the same year. Scholars are certainly open to the idea that the princesses exercised some degree of choice as to the particular manors that came into their legal possession in 1547.155 It hardly seems credible that the council would allow the princesses to choose for themselves among the king's manors, yet around that time deny them the same level of choice regarding the items of the king's furniture that would decorate those new manors.

119In 1547, Mary was thirty-one years old, and certainly able to choose furnishings to suit her own preferences. Mary probably received her selections in September 1547, having obtained legal title to her estates a few months earlier in May. Evidence for a September delivery comes from a stray reference in the Inventory, separate from the list of all the other goods allocated to Mary, referring to another tapestry from the king's storehouses: the "folowing are delyvered to the ladye marye her grace vse mense Septembr anno primo Regis Edwarde sexti."156

120The descriptions of some items listed for Mary bear strong similarity to those of furnishings that she had owned in the early 1520s, a point that again argues for her personal involvement in the selection. A tapestry set depicting "a king riding in a chariott in a blewe gowne with starres" was likely the Alexander tapestry listed in her 1523 inventory.157 The Inventory describes the 1547 tapestry set as depicting a "fier in the middes," which separated two portrayals of a woman in the clouds. One of the cloud-dwelling women sat between another fire and a city; the other held "the worlde in thone hande and bunche of grapes in thother hande." The tapestry also included a chariot drawn by two beasts, and a representation of "the distruccion of the Children vnder herode."158 This could well be the same set listed in Mary's 1523 inventory as a depiction of the Old Law and the New.159

121Some indications of previous possession also may be detected in the allocation of damaged goods to Mary in 1547. For instance, a tapestry set in which the "Lettre B" figured prominently is reminiscent of one given to her by the duke of Buckingham, listed in the 1523 inventory.160 The 1547 Inventory noted that the set was "burned in one place."161 It seems unlikely that Mary's household officers would have accepted the tapestry in this condition unless specifically instructed by their mistress to do so. It is also equally improbable that Mary would have issued such instructions unless the burned tapestry had some personal significance for her.

122Elizabeth was fourteen when the selection of the goods was made and fifteen when her furnishings were delivered in December 1548.162 Even assuming that Elizabeth solicited adult advice on her selection, she was certainly sufficiently advanced both in age and education to form her own opinions. By the time she was fourteen, Elizabeth spoke several languages including Greek and Latin, and was fond of translating classical and modern philosophical and religious works into foreign languages, for example from ancient Greek into modern Italian. Elizabeth's educational and intellectual accomplishments as a teenager drew admiring commentary from her contemporaries and from her modern biographers also.163

123The concentration of chapel goods among the items delivered to Elizabeth provides another indication that the Privy Council did not exercise exclusive control over the selections made for the princesses. Had this been the case, the Council would seem to have acted arbitrarily indeed in awarding Elizabeth a broad range of chapel furnishings, yet allowing only one altar cloth to Mary. Even Starkey, who assigns agency to the Privy Council in the selection of these goods, admits that it is "curious" that Elizabeth received more chapel goods than Mary.164 Elizabeth had already demonstrated a keen interest in religion. She had presented translations of religious treatises from French, Latin, and Italian sources as gifts to Henry VIII and Katherine Parr. Surely, the most reasonable explanation is that Elizabeth, perhaps supported by the advice of her religiously inclined household officers, asked for these chapel goods herself.165

124Another indication that Mary and Elizabeth participated directly in the selection of their furniture comes from the themes recognizable in their respective lists of items. Mary's furniture, through sumptuous material and figurative depictions, highlighted her royal lineage, and her reinstatement as immediate successor to the crown. Elizabeth's allocation also emphasized her royal status, along with her religious interests as noted above. It is implausible that the Privy Council would have chosen items that so closely coincided with the ambitions and interests of each princess.

125After passage of the third Act of Succession (1544), Mary was re-established as heir to the throne, and she selected furnishings that reflected and proclaimed this status. One of her more interesting choices was a "sparver"—a canopy that could be hung over a bed or a throne. It was made of luxurious materials—cloth of gold tissue, black velvet, and purple and yellow silk—and furthermore contained an image of female sovereignty: it was "enbraidered with M crowned."166

126Assuming that this sparver was not originally made for Mary herself, how then did this item find its way into Henry VIII's collection? Perhaps it had belonged originally to Mary's great-grandmother, Margaret Beaufort; or to Mary the French Queen; or to Mary's great-aunt, Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy. It is possible that the initial refers not to a living individual, but rather to the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ, Queen of Heaven, hence the crowned letter "M." In any case, this tapestry carries a clear representation of female sovereignty and power. Considering common masculine names of that time that began with "M", there are few individuals indeed of sufficiently high status to commission their own tapestries. No matter the identity of the original owner or commissioner of the tapestry, the central point for this study is that by selecting this piece bearing the crowned "M", Princess Mary deftly redefined its symbolism to proclaim her new status: as of 1547, she was heir to the throne, the next sovereign of England.

127Other items that indicated her special royal status were two very fine cloths of estate. They were much more lavish even than those Henry had provided for her in 1523.167 They were made of crimson cloth of gold, red damask, silver tissue, and fringes of Venice gold and silk. Mary selected matching chairs to be placed beneath these cloths so that the cloths and chairs together served as royal thrones. Both were crimson-colored, and a third chair bore the king's arms. Materials such as cloth of gold and silk were very expensive and highly prized, and doubtless made these thrones very impressive to observers.168

128In addition to the cloths of estate, Mary selected tapestries that emphasized not only her current status as heir to the throne but also her royal lineage. Among the tapestries chosen by Mary was one that contained "borde[r]s of the kinges armes and lettres H E."169 The initials and royal arms suggest that the set had belonged to King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, Mary's grandparents. She also chose a tapestry "marked with letter K."170 Catherine of Aragon spelled her name in English fashion with a "K" after she arrived in England.

129Many of Mary's selections denoted her high status through their lavish materials and market value. For example, several of her cushions were made of cloth of gold, velvet and silk in various colors. Some contained elaborate embroidery: for example, one cushion of cloth of gold "raised with gold and silver Tissue of rooses and Honnysuckles," and two of crimson satin "with a traile alover embrawdred with rooses" and matching silk tassels.171

130These large rich cushions were typically used turn window seats into regal reception areas, and chests into royal benches, from which Mary might grant an impromptu audience. Tudor houses did not contain a great deal of what we would call "furniture"—no sofas or upholstered chairs. Typically there would be no more than one or two chairs in a room (many rooms containing no chairs at all), and these were universally understood to be reserved exclusively for the householder and a very important guest. Cushions made for comfortable seating on storage chests and window seats, which were generally the only other items of furniture.172 Those worthy by rank to be seated in the presence of the princess would have been fully sensible of the honor as they seated themselves on cushions of cloth of gold and satin.

131Mary's allocation included further high-status items in the form of the Holland table and bed linens. She was allowed to choose twenty-four "turkey carpets"—Persian rugs—that in this period were displayed as luxury items covering tables and cupboards. Fifteen sets of "verdours"—fauna tapestries—lined her walls and partitioned her rooms. The princess' guests would have slept on kingly beds she chose from the royal storehouses. Beds were status items in this period, as attested in wills in which beds are often the first item mentioned in order of importance. Shakespeare's will provides one of the more famous examples; in it, he left his best bed to his eldest son, but to his wife "my second best bed."173 Mary selected four elaborate bedspreads or "counterpoyntes" from Henry VIII's collection.174 Three were made from satin. Furthermore, her guests would have appreciated sleeping on any of the twenty feather mattresses, along with matching bolsters, and eight "pillowes of downe"; this was the most expensive and luxurious filler material.175 Special beds reserved for visitors of the highest rank were hung with canopies or "trauerses" made of crimson, yellow, and blue silk. "Traverses" were the vertical portion of a bed or throne canopy while sparvers or "celers" were the horizontal, ceiling part of the canopy.

132Mary used her household goods to proclaim her political ambitions, her royal lineage, and, most important, her reinstatement as heir to the throne. The tapestry with the crowned "M" especially embodies all these aims. This tapestry—with its overt association of sovereignty and the feminine gender—would have held compelling political resonances in the household of a female heir to the throne. The tapestries of Catherine of Aragon and Henry VII and Elizabeth of York emphasized her royal lineage. Mary's cloths of estate and royal tapestries unequivocally asserted her reclaimed position as heir to the throne. This reclamation was given further expression in the actual recouping of her former household goods after she became the acknowledged heir during Henry's reign. A visitor to any of Mary's manors after 1547 until her accession in 1553 would have understood through her household furnishings that this was an abode of the royal heir to the throne, who held both the ancestral right and the financial means to make good on the claim.

133Elizabeth's selections, while relatively restricted in number, were no less thematic. Probably with the guidance of her household officers, she chose furnishings that hinted at her possible future as a religious and educational patron. Although Elizabeth was prevented from matching Mary in the quantity of goods, she strove nevertheless to select items of the highest quality.

134One of the altar cloths that she chose was made of cloth of gold, crimson, and white velvet. Another consisted of cloth of yellow satin, "garnisshed in sundry places withe small pearles and fringed withe Silke." 176 Yet another cloth bore a fringed edge of "blewe yellowe and grene silke." Elizabeth selected matching vestments: cloth of gold, white, blue, crimson, and purple velvet, embroidered with "Trayles of golde."177 Elizabeth's cushions were equally ornate. Three cushions were made of cloth of gold. Others were tasseled in gold and red silk, while another was entirely of gold damask.178

135Although Elizabeth could not secure a cloth of estate, the princess laid claim to her royal status through the selection of thrones. Like those chosen by Mary, Elizabeth's chairs bore the arms of Henry VIII.179 They were covered in cloth of gold and crimson velvet fabric. The canopies that hung over them were made of taffeta, cloth of silver, and silk in white and crimson.180 Sitting in her father's chairs overhung with such rich fabrics, Elizabeth would have received important visitors in a material setting that amply confirmed her royal lineage.

136Elizabeth also chose items that reflected her humanist education. She selected an allegorical tapestry, most probably that which survives today in the royal collection as a set labeled "The Triumph of the Gods". In Elizabeth's allocation, it is called "Tapestrie of the Triumphes" and depicted, as its modern title suggests, the attributes and exploits of Greco-Roman gods. This was an elaborate and avant-garde tapestry set which, at the time Henry VIII originally commissioned it in 1542, "represented a complete acceptance of Italian Mannerist design."181 As I discuss in the next chapter, this aesthetic would have fitted in well with the Italianate culture of Elizabeth's courtly household of the 1550s. Elizabeth selected another famous tapestry set from the Inventory, illustrating Christine de Pisan's "Citie of Ladies."182

137Christine de Pisan (1364–1430) published Livre de la cité des dames (The Book of the City of Ladies) in 1405, which contains sketches of praiseworthy women from history and mythology. It was rare for a tapestry to depict relatively contemporary literary projects. Given that so many of the tapestries in Henry VIII's inventory presented more conventional themes from the Bible or classical poetry, it is certainly significant that Elizabeth chose a set that portrayed the work of female scholar. Moreover, it is likely that the panels depicted "six worthy ladies" mentioned in Pizan's work.183 It would be difficult to find a more explicit statement of female leadership and intellectual abilities than this tapestry, especially as it hung in the halls of a formidably learned young woman who was second in line to the royal succession.

138Elizabeth's selections from her father's storehouses indicate her junior status relative to Mary, as well as her personal inclinations. Her focus on chapel goods clearly relates to her recent translations of religious works. Elizabeth furnished her houses as religious centers. Elizabeth, like Mary, understood the value and use of opulent display. Not entitled to the cloths of estate, Elizabeth was at least able to sit upon lavish cushions and receive guests in former thrones of Henry VIII. The tapestries that would now adorn her manors, although not new, contained themes that touched on classical learning (The Triumphs) and female empowerment (City of Ladies). The visitor to Elizabeth's manors while she was in residence would have understood that this was the household of a royal, wealthy, and educated young woman who had the lineage, financial means, and mental acumen to emerge as an important figure in the religious life of the nation and—should the opportunity arise—in its political life as well.

139These themes presented by Elizabeth's selection of household goods are reminiscent of a famous early known portrait of her, completed probably between 1546 and 1547.184 It shows her standing against a backdrop of a bed hung with curtains. The bed is certainly not foregrounded or rendered in enough detail to provide the viewer with a clue as to its material. Nevertheless, its inclusion in the portrait is clearly intended to present the princess within a domestic (although not subordinate) context, just as the contemporaneous portrait of Prince Edward depicts him in a lavishly furnished domestic interior with a window overlooking his principal residence, Hunsdon.185 The different scale and detail of the backgrounds—probably both painted by the same artist—indicate their unequal status. The household background in Elizabeth's portrait was unquestionably much more modest than its sumptuous counterpart in Edward's, but its presence was no less deliberate. In fact, the portrait also corroborates to some extent the notion that Elizabeth and her household sought actively to display her erudition. The dominant elements in this depiction of the princess are her books, and the apparently windowless domestic interior. The princess displays prominently a brooch in the form of a cross on her dress. The household as portrayed in this picture was a self-contained religious and educational center.

140Throughout the period 1516–1547, Henry VIII chose the princely household as the most visible means to publicize his favored choice of successor. It was certainly quicker, and perhaps even more effective, than relying on his fertility or on Parliament to resolve the issue the succession in the absence of a male heir of his own body. A prolific builder of palaces and an avid collector of household furnishings, the king used the households of his children as the primary mechanism to display his hopes for the political future of his kingdom.

141The king's clear reluctance to leave the kingdom to a female successor was first made manifest as early as 1516 in his refusal to grant Mary a household commensurate with her official status as his heir. Only briefly, in 1525 and again in 1533, did Henry bestow on Mary and Elizabeth, respectively, households that mirrored their legal status as his successors. After the birth of Prince Edward, the king ensured that Edward's household, as the king's chosen (and legal) successor, materially eclipsed the combined household of sisters, indicating clearly their subordinated political importance.

142After Henry's death, Mary and Elizabeth, now presiding over their own independent establishments, could regulate for themselves (albeit with input from the Privy Council) the quality of their material furnishings. They demonstrated that they too understood the importance of the household practice of the "politics of ostentation." It is fitting that Mary and Elizabeth reclaimed their status as heirs to the crown through their display of household goods previously owned by Henry VIII—the very father who had sought to deny each of them their birthrights, and had manipulated the material fortunes of their childhood households according to the varying tides of his own political agenda.

143The "material cultures" of these princely households—from Mary's early nursery to the independent establishments the princesses received in 1547—served public notice of their political status. Mary began to live in a style approaching that associated with a royal heir only when her father loaned her his cloths of estate in 1523, and later when she presided over a viceregal household in the Welsh Marches. Elizabeth's wardrobe proclaimed her the king's heir in 1533, and the scale of her household emphasized her succession rights by absorbing the competing claims of Mary. Later, when Mary and Elizabeth were able to assume control over the construction of their public images, they used household furnishings to display their political ambitions, religious interests, and erudition. Their domestic material cultures publicly manifested to a patriarchal state that these female heirs were royal, wealthy, and politically viable.

144The material display in their households indicated that these were no ordinary princesses. They were not themselves mere ornaments of the court, as previous princesses had been. Exceptionally for royal unmarried women, they were princely rulers over their own courts. Like the ducal courts of the Italian city-states as described by Castiglione in The Courtier, the households of the princesses served as stages on which they could display their "magnificence." This term conveyed a carefully constructed display designed to showcase the wealth and prestige of the ruler. A ruler's political reputation derived just as much from his ability to present himself and his court as "magnificent" as it derived from the size of his domain or the splendor of his military successes. When Mary and Elizabeth furnished their post-Henrician households with goods from his storehouses, they were staking claims for themselves as political operators and future rulers. They were asserting visible the credibility of female rule.

145Furnishing a princely court was not simply a matter of scattering a few ornate cushions here and there. In many ways, these material objects helped each of the princesses in turn to construct her political persona as potential sovereign or, at least, her aspirations as a future patron of religion and learning. More than mere enhancements or reflections of their political status, these objects actually constituted in a very real sense their political identities as potential heirs to the throne and religious leaders. Moreover, Mary's and Elizabeth's courts were also furnished with people: their resident staff and nonresident retainers and suppliers. In recognizing that their households functioned as courts, it becomes essential to examine their respective court cultures.


Note 1: S. Thurley, The Royal Palaces of Tudor England: Architecture and Court Life 1460–1547 [Yale UP, 1993], passim back

Note 2: C.M. Woolgar, The Great Household in Late Medieval England [Yale UP, 1999], pp. 46–82 back

Note 3: S. M. Levy, An Elizabethan Inheritance: The Hardwick Hall Textiles [London, 1999], p. 38 back

Note 4: G. Beard, Upholsterers and Interior Furnishings in England, 1530-1840 [Yale UP, 1997], pp. 32–33; L. Jardine, Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance [London, 1996], pp. 399–402 back

Note 5: N. Korda, Shakespeare's Domestic Economies: Gender and Property in Early Modern England [Pennsylvania UP, 2002], p. 8 back

Note 6: Levy, An Elizabethan Inheritance . . . , pp. 1–41 back

Note 7: E. Ives, Anne Boleyn [Oxford, 1985], p. 273; Beard, Upholsterers and Interior Furnishings, p. 34; J. Thirsk, Economic Policy and Projects: The Development of a Consumer Society in Early Modern England [Oxford UP, 1978], pp. 8, 106; L. C. Orlin, Private Matters and Public Culture in Post-Reformation England [Cornell UP, 1994], p. 255 back

Note 8: W. Harrison's Description of England, ed. Georges Edelen [New York, 1968], p. 200 back

Note 9: B. Harris, "Property, Power and Personal Relations: Elite Mothers and Sons in Yorkist and Early Tudor England," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society (1990), 15/3, p. 611 back

Note 10: This description of the household as a theater of hospitality derives from an early-seventeenth-century image of the household found in Sir Henry Wotton, Elements of Architecture [London, 1624], p. 82, Early English Books Online, Huntington Library and Art Gallery, January 29, 2007,

Note 11: N. Orme, From Childhood to Chivalry: The Education of the English Kings and Aristocracy, 1066-1530 [London, 1984], pp. 18–23 back

Note 12: F. Jones, The Princes and Principality of Wales [Wales UP, 1969], p. 98 and F. Hepburn, "Arthur, Prince of Wales and His Training and for Kingship." The Historian, 55, (1997), pp. 4–9 back

Note 13: Although her proper title as Brandon's wife was Duchess of Suffolk, contemporaries referred to her as "the French Queen" out of courtesy to her former rank, and probably in part to distinguish her from her niece and namesake, Princess Mary back

Note 14: B. J. Harris, "Power, Profit, and Passion: Mary Tudor, Charles Brandon and the Arranged Marriage in Early Tudor England," Feminist Studies, 15/1 (Spring, 1989), p. 63 back

Note 15: Sebastiano Giustiniani, Four Years at the Court of Henry VIII: Selection of Despatches . . . , tr. Rawdon Brown, 2 vols. [London, 1854], p. 182 back

Note 16: LP, II, 1621 back

Note 17: There are two copies of Henry VIII's private expenses from 1509 until 1518. One copy is at the Public Records Office and the other used here, BL Additional 21481, is now at the British Library. Also, they are abstracted in Letters and Papers, commencing in April 1509 through December 1518 back

Note 18: D. Loades, Mary Tudor: A Life [Oxford, 1989], p. 29 back

Note 19: BL Additional 21481, f.236v; LP, II, pt.2, p. 1473; BL Additional 21481, ff.253r, 269v, 277r, 286v. f. 253v (LP, II, pt.2, 3429) back

Note 20: LP, II, p. 2, p. 1480. Also, see LP, Addenda, I, pt.1, 259 for a list of expenses of Mary's household for the three years from its inception in 1516 until 1519, with Sydnor listed as one who was to receive wages, suggesting that he had been part of Mary's household from its formation back

Note 21: BL Additional 21481, f.238v; LP, II, pt.2, p. 1473 back

Note 22: LP, vol.2, pt.2, App. 58 (3) back

Note 23: CPR, 1467–1477, p. 366; P. Williams Council of the Marches, p. 7 back

Note 24: LP, VII, 440 back

Note 25: LP, III, 3375 back

Note 26: LP, II, pt.2, pp. 1441–1480; P. Williams, Tudor Regime, p. 59 back

Note 27: LP, XIII, pt.1 1057 back

Note 28: Williams, Tudor Regime, p. 59 back

Note 29: LP, XIII, pt.1, 1057. BL Cotton Vitellius C., i., ff. 39r–44v [formerly 59r–64v]; printed in P. R. Roberts, "A Breviat of the Effectes Devised for Wales," Camden Miscellany, 1975 back

Note 30: Loades, p. 28 back

Note 31: LP, VI, pt.2, 1528 back

Note 32: LP, XIII, pt.1, 459 back

Note 33: BL Cotton Vitellius C., i., ff.45v, 46v back

Note 34: Loades, p. 9 back

Note 35: Loades, p. 12, fn.4 notes the difficulty in reconstructing the chronology of Catherine's pregnancies back

Note 36: Loades, p. 16 back

Note 37: Giustiniani, Four Years . . . , p. 240 back

Note 38: LP, III, pt.1, 491 back

Note 39: Loades, pp. 29–30 back

Note 40: The source for the following description of Mary's household reception of the French envoys, a letter from the Privy Council to the king, simply refers to the envoys as the "gentilmen of ffraunce." BL Cotton Caligula D VII, ff. 238r, 239r back

Note 41: The French king was right to be suspicious, for Mary was in fact recovering from a recent illness. The Privy Council wrote to Henry that they had recently made frequent visits to Mary, "whoe god be thanked is in prosperous health and convalescence." BL Cotton Caligula D.VII, f.238v back

Note 42: Ibid., f.240r back

Note 43: MSS has suffered fire damage, hence the bracketed interpolations. BL Cotton Caligula D. VII, ff.238v-239r; in LP, III, pt.1, 896 it is listed as f.231, according to an old numbering of the manuscript back

Note 44: Ibid., ff.240v-241r back

Note 45: The notion of "furnishing" a chamber with people as well as inanimate objects was common in England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. See A Collection of Ordinances and Regulations for the Government of the Royal Household made in divers reigns from King Edward III to King William and Queen Mary . . . [London, 1790], p. 341 for an early-seventeenth-century example back

Note 46: BL Cotton Caligula D. VII, f.238v back

Note 47: Ibid back

Note 48: LP, III, pt.2, p. 1533. The following description of her household goods also comes from this source back

Note 49: LP, III, pt. 2 ,2585 and 3375 back

Note 50: BL Cotton Vespasian, C. XIV, f.273; LP, 3/2, 2585 back

Note 51: LP, III, pt. 2, 2585 back

Note 52: Harris, "Property," p. 611 back

Note 53: LP, III, pt.2, 3375 back

Note 54: LP, III, pt.2, 2585; not all gifts were of this lavish yet impractical kind; Sir Richard Weston gave her twelve pairs of shoes back

Note 55: LP, 3/2, 3375. The editor misdated these accounts as ending on September 1523, although he does acknowledge that the original manuscript list the accounts as ending in September, year fifteen of Henry VIII's reign. As Henry's reign began in April 1509, the month of September that falls within the fifteenth year of the reign is that of 1524. Also, the accounts for the two previous years survive listed in LP, 3/2, 2285. The 3375 entry clearly refers to a separate account rather than a duplicate of 2285 and the only year it describes is 1524 as the manuscript itself indicates back

Note 56: LP, 3/2, 2585 back

Note 57: The details of the 1523 Christmas are in LP, 3/2, 3375 back

Note 58: For instance, in 1523, 4 oz. of saffron cost her household three shillings, whereas a pound of pepper cost only two shillings and a pound of almonds cost only twenty pence. LP, 3/2, 3375 back

Note 59: LP, 3/2, 2585 back

Note 60: LP, 3/2, 3375 back

Note 61: For Buckingham, LP, III, pt. 1, p. 504; For Mary, LP, III, 3375 back

Note 62: LP, IV, pt. 1, 1390, 1431; BL Harley 6807, ff. 29r–47v back

Note 63: LP, III, 1508, 1571 back

Note 64: LP, IV, pt. 1, 528 back

Note 65: LP, IV, pt. 1, 1577, nos.11 and 12 back

Note 66: S. J. Gunn, "The Regime of Charles, Duke of Suffolk, in North Wales and the Reform of the Welsh Government, 1509–1525," The Welsh History Review, 12/4 (December 1985): pp. 461–495 and R.A. Griffiths, Sir Rhys ap Thomas and his Family: A Study in the Wars of the Roses and Early Tudor Politics [Wales UP, 1993] back

Note 67: P. Williams, The Council in the Marches of Wales under Elizabeth I [Wales UP, 1958], pp. 12–15 and C. Skeel, The Council in the Marches of Wales [London, 1904], pp. 49–52; Loades, p. 39 back

Note 68: BL Cotton Vitellius, C.i., ff. 7r–18v [formerly 23r–35v], hereafter cited as "Instructions." This was a contemporary file copy made from the signed original which accompanied Mary to Wales but is no longer extant. MSS has been numbered by different archivists over the years. I provide numbers counting from the first folio but also indicate older, numbering scheme of folios in brackets back

Note 69: "Instructions," f. 7v back

Note 70: For instance, after Mary's birth, Henry VIII's accounts for August 1516, July 1517, and February 1518 record payments to "the commissioners in the marches of Wales"; BL Additional, 21481, f. 267v for August 1517. For July 1518, see LP, II, pt. 2, p1480 back

Note 71: Harris, English Aristocratic Women . . . , p. 29 back

Note 72: "Instructions," f. 10r back

Note 73: BL Cotton Vespasian, F.XIII, vol. 2, art. 187, f. 240r [formerly f. 134] back

Note 74: See, e.g., Henry Parker's description of the Christmas festivities at Margaret Beaufort's household when her establishment at Collyweston was serving as the satellite royal court in the Midlands in 1501 as quoted in F. Kisby, "A Mirror of Monarchy: Music and Musicians at the Household Chapel of the Lady Margaret Beaufort , Mother of Henry VII," Early Music History, 16 (1997), p. 211 back

Note 75: For Mary's expenses in 1525–1526, see BL Royal 14 B. XIX, 5324, unbound manuscript, no folio numbers; Loades, p. 41. Building repairs on some of the marcher residences accounted for some of the expenditure back

Cross Reference:
Read more about Mary's first land grant.
Note 76: "Instructions," f. 8r; T. P. Ellis, The First Extent of Bromfield and Yale, Lordships A.D. 1315 [London, 1924], p. 4 for a description of how the medieval history of these counties became crown lordships. The significance of these grants for Mary's political profile receives fuller treatment in Chapter 3 back

Note 77: This number is taken from the staff of the actual household departments, which was listed at 123 combined with the servants assigned to senior staff, about 90, who also wore Mary's livery. BL Harley 6807, ff.3r–6r back

Note 78: LP, IV, pt.1, 1577 back

Note 79: LP, IV, pt.1, 1577 back

Note 80: F. Watson, ed., Vives and the Renaissance Education of Women [London, 1912], p. 133 back

Note 81: CSP Spanishh, IV, pt.2, 1157 back

Note 82: BL Cotton Vitellius, C.i., ff. 19r–20v [formerly 35r–36v]; originally "princes" council in MSS to add further confusion but this was clearly short for "princess" rather than "prince's" back

Note 83: BL Stowe 141, f.13r; Loades, pp. 46–74 back

Note 84: S.J. Gunn, "The Regime of Charles, Duke of Suffolk, in North Wales and the Reform of the Welsh Government, 1509–1525," The Welsh History Review, 12/4 (December 1985): pp. 461–495 and R. A. Griffiths, Sir Rhys ap Thomas and His Family: A Study in the Wars of the Roses and Early Tudor Politics [Wales UP, 1993] back

Note 85: Wolffe, Crown Lands . . . , pp. 64, 84–85 back

Note 86: For an extended treatment of the procedures and history of the title, see F. Jones, The Princes and Principality of Wales [Wales UP, 1969] back

Note 87: BL Cotton Vitellius C., i., f. 45v back

Note 88: J. North, England's Boy King: The Diary of Edward VI, 1547-1553 [Welwyn Garden City, UK, 2005], p. 16; best modern edition is in W. K. Jordan, ed., The Chronicle and Political Papers of Edward VI [London, 1966] back

Note 89: Henry's plans for sending the prince to the Welsh marches after his investiture are in LP, XIII, pt.1, 1057. BL Cotton Vitellius C., i., ff. 39r–44v [formerly 59r–64v]; printed in P. R. Roberts, "A Breviat of the Effectes Devised for Wales," Camden Miscellany, 1975 back

Note 90: BL Cotton Vitellius C., i., ff. 45v, 46v back

Note 91: Madden, pp. 19, 61, 152 back

Note 92: H. Clifford, The Life of Jane Dormer, Duchess of Feria, ed. Rev. Joseph Stevenson [London, 1887], p. 80 back

Note 93: W. Forrest, The History of Grisild the Second: A Narrative, In verse, of the Divorce of Queen Katharine of Aragon (1558), ed. W. D. Macray [London, 1875], p. 86 back

Note 94: For discussions of the persistent loyalty of the Welsh to Mary, see G. Williams, "Wales and the Reign of Queen Mary I," The Welsh History Review, 10/3 (June 1981): 334–358 and also his Recovery, Reorientation, and Reformation Wales, c.1415–1642 [Oxford: 1987], p. 281; and Skeel, "Council," p. 74 back

Note 95: The seminal treatment of the "Divorce" and the resulting Reformation legislation is in Elton, Reform and Reformation, pp. 103–273 back

Note 96: Loades, p. 61 back

Note 97: CSP, Spanish, IV, pt.2, 1127 back

Note 98: CSP, Spanish, IV, pt.1, 633 back

Note 99: BL Harley 6807, ff.7r–9r back

Note 100: Ibid. back

Note 101: LP, VI, 1186, 1249 back

Note 102: CSP Spanish, IV, pt.2, 1144 back

Note 103: Strype, I, pp. 153–155 back

Note 104: BL Cleopatra, E. VI, ff.325r–328r back

Note 105: Ibid. back

Note 106: CSP, Spanish, 4/2, 1161; Loades, Mary Tudor . . . , p. 78 back

Note 107: R. K. Marshall, Mary I, [London, 1993], p. 24 back

Note 108: 25 Hen VIII, c.12, art. II in A. Luder, The Statutes of the Realm [Records Office, 1810–1828], vol. 3, p. 473 back

Note 109: CSP, Spanish, 5/1, 1 back

Note 110: E. W. Ives, Life and Death of Anne Boleyn: The Most Happy [Oxford 2004], pp. 253–254. back

Note 111: Ives, Anne Boleyn, p. 273 back

Note 112: Luder, Statutes of the Realm, III, p. 471; 25 Hen. VIII, c.22 back

Note 113: BL Cotton Otho C., X., f.265 back

Note 114: Mattingly, Catherine of Aragon, p. 374; Prescott, Mary Tudor, p. 50; Marshall, Mary, p. 23. Loades, p. 79, rightly takes issue with this popular assumption and points out that Catherine's household was hardly that of a pauper back

Note 115: 25 Hen. VIII c. 28 in Stat. Realm, p. 484 and Loades, p. 79. Strype [1721], I, no. lxx back

Note 116: Ibid. back

Note 117: BL Cotton Nero, B. vi., ff.89r [formerly ff.86r]; Madden identified Cromwell's hand in the corrective gloss; Madden, p. lxiii back

Note 118: BL Arundel 97, passim back

Note 119: Ibid. back

Note 120: LP, VII, 440; quotation from editor's transcription, not the abstract back

Note 121: LP, VII, 191 back

Note 122: CSP, Spanish, IV, pt.2, 1165; though this source must be treated with caution, as Chapuys habitually exaggerated the plight of Catherine and Mary probably in order to convince the Emperor to take stronger measures against Henry on their behalf back

Note 123: Duwes, U3r–v back

Note 124: Ibid. back

Note 125: Chapuys' dispatch to Charles V as quoted in Prescott, p. 42 back

Note 126: BL Arundel, 151, f.195v back

Note 127: Item no. 3 in Pontefract articles regarding Mary printed in N. Key and T. Bucholz, Sources and Debates in English History 1485-1714 [Oxford, 2004], p. 63. For full treatment of rebellion, see M. Bush, Pilgrimage of Grace: A Study of the Rebel Armies of October 1536 [Manchester UP, 1996] and R.W. Hoyle, Pilgrimage of Grace and Politics of the 1530s [Oxford UP, 2003] back

Note 128: Excerpted in M. Levine, Tudor Dynastic Problems, 1460-1571, [London, 1973], pp. 157–158 back

Note 129: BL Cotton Otho X, f. 260v back

Note 130: A. Fletcher and D. MacCulloch, eds, Tudor Rebellions, 5th ed. [Harlow, UK, 2004], p. 44 back

Note 131: BL Harley 283, ff.111v–112v back

Note 132: BL Cotton Vespasian, C. XIV, ff.274r–275v back

Note 133: For many of Mary's letters concerning the return of her servants in 1536, see BL Cotton Otho, C.X., ff.266r–291r back

Note 134: BL Royal MS. 17 B XXVIII; see also Madden. There is, however, quite a discrepancy in folio numbers between those cited in Madden and the numbering system currently found in the manuscript back

Note 135: It is possible that she also totaled the accounts herself on occasion. In the manuscript, the totals on ff. 6v, 19v–20r, 22r, 25r all match her handwriting and also indicate a change of ink back

Note 136: Dates of these gifts were not generally specified in her jewel inventory. BL Royal MS. 17 B XXVIII, ff. 112r–124r back

Note 137: BL Arundel 97, passim back

Note 138: BL Cotton Otho X, f.234r back

Note 139: Ibid. back

Note 140: Ibid. back

Note 141: Ibid. back

Note 142: Ibid. back

Note 143: LP, XI, 130, 104 back

Note 144: Ibid. back

Note 145: LP, XI, p. 202 back

Note 146: BL Additional Charter 67534 as cited in Loades, p. 111 back

Note 147: He was listed as Mary's cofferer in the October 1533 checkeroll, BL Harley 6807, ff.7r–9r. In Henry VIII's privy purse expenses 1538–1541 in BL Arundel 97, f. 2r, Cholmely is referred to as the "late Cofferer," suggesting that he had died or had moved on to another post by 1538 back

Note 148: This was Cromwell's reply to the countess of Sussex when she attempted to secure a place in Mary's household for Katherine Basset, daughter of Honor, Lady Lisle. The Lisle Letters, ed. M. St. Clare Byrne, IV, 167, 192 back

Note 149: The transcription of Henry VIII's will is in Fœdera, III, p. 145 back

Note 150: Starkey, pp. 97–98 back

Note 151: APC, p. 305 back

Note 152: From transcription of the Inventory in The Inventory of King Henry VIII, vol. 1, ed. David Starkey, [London, 1998]. The following descriptions of the allotted goods are on Starkey, pp. 376–380 for Mary and pp. 380–382 for Elizabeth back

Note 153: APC, II, p. 20 back

Note 154: Ibid. back

Note 155: Loades, Mary Tudor, p. 138; Starkey, Elizabeth: Apprenticeship, p. 96 back

Note 156: Inventory, f.356v back

Note 157: LP, III, pt. 2, 3375 back

Note 158: Unless otherwise noted, all quotations regarding Mary's receipt of goods from Henry VIII's storehouse are from the printed edition of 1547 inventory taken of Henry VIII's "stuffe" in D. Starkey, ed. The Inventory of Henry VIII, pp. 376–380 back

Note 159: LP, III, pt.2, 3375 back

Note 160: Ibid. back

Note 161: Inventory, p. 377 back

Note 162: Starkey, p. 97 back

Note 163: For a refreshingly unpanegyrical assessment of Elizabeth's erudition, see Starkey, pp. 83–84. back

Note 164: Starkey, p. 98 back

Note 165: Starkey admits that these chapel ornaments accorded with Elizabeth's later taste as queen in chapel decoration; Starkey, p. 98 back

Note 166: Inventory, p. 378 back

Note 167: LP, III, pt.2, 3375 back

Note 168: Beard, Upholsterers, p. 319 back

Note 169: Inventory, p. 377 back

Note 170: Inventory, p. 378 back

Note 171: Ibid. back

Note 172: Digby, Elizabethan Embroidery, p. 108 back

Note 173: Quoted in Beard, Upholsterers, p. 33 back

Note 174: Inventory, pp. 378–380 back

Note 175: Beard, Upholsterers, p. 18 back

Note 176: Inventory, p. 380 back

Note 177: Ibid. back

Note 178: Inventory, p. 382 back

Note 179: Ibid. back

Note 180: Ibid. back

Note 181: Thurley, Royal Palaces, p. 224 back

Note 182: For full discussion of this set of tapestries, see S. G. Bell, The Lost Tapestries of the City of Ladies: Christine de Pizan's Renaissance Legacy [California UP, 2004], passim back

Note 183: Bell, The Lost Tapestries . . . , p. 148 back

Note 184: An image of this portrait can be accessed at back

Note 185: An image of this portrait can be accessed at back