1503 - Marriage of 'the Thistle and the Rose'

The Marriage of the Thistle and the Rose

Under James IV, relations between Scotland and England seemed to take a happier turn with his glorious marriage to Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII and sister of Henry VIII. It was this marriage into the English royal family which was to lead eventually to the Scots succession to the throne of the Tudors in 1603. Few would have forseen this in 1503. John Young, Somerset herald, was a young English official who accompanied the Princess Margaret on her journey to Edinburgh. He took a careful note of all the festivities he witnessed, in a narrative showing the precise concern for ceremonial detail to be expected of a herald. Since this was essentially a report confirming that the English princess was well treated, James IV gets rather pushed into the background at his own marriage.

The king was conveyed to the queens chamber, where she met him at her great chamber door, right honourably accompanied. At the meeting he and she made great reverences the one to the other, his head being bare, and they kissed together, and in likewise kissed the ladies, and others also. And he in especial welcomed the earl of Surrey very heartily.

Then the queen and he went aside and commoned together by long space. She held good manner, and he [was] bare headed during the time, and many courtesies passed. Incontinent [at once] was the bord [table] set and served. They washed their hands in humble reverences, and after, set them down together, where many good devices were rehearsed . . .

The town of Edinbourgh was in many places hanged with tappissery [tapestry], the houses and windows were full of lords, ladies, gentlewomen, and gentlemen, and in the streets war so great multitude, of people without number, that it was a fair thing to see. The which people war very glad of the coming of the said queen: and in the churches of the said town bells rang for mirth. The same day the king supped in his chamber, accompanied of many of the part of the said queen within her own. And after that, the king went to see her, and he danced some bass dances. This done, the king took his leave, and bade her good night joyously, and after the same to ychon [each one] also.

The 8th day of the said month every man appointed himself richly, for the honour of the noble marriage. Between 8 and 9 of the clock everychon [everyone] was ready, nobly apparelled; and the ladies above said came richly arrayed, sum in gowns of cloth of gold, the others of crimson velvet and black. Others of satin and of tinsel, of damask, and of camlet of many colours, hoods, chains and collars upon their necks, accompanied of their gentlewomen arrayed honestly their guise, for to hold company to the said queen . . .

A little after, the queen was by the said lords and company brought from her chamber to the church crowned with a very riche crown of gold garnished with pierrery [jewellery] and pearls. She was led on the right hand by the archbishop of York, and on the left hand by the earl of Surrey. Her train was born by the countess of Surrey, a gentleman usher helping her. The said queen was nobly accompanied with her ladies arrayed that is to wit, the said countess of Surrey arrayed in a rich robe, of cloth of gold; the two ladies Nevill, the lady Lille, the lady Stanneley, and the lady Guilleford, in riche apparel; and all the others following had rich collars and chains upon their necks; and good jewels. It was ordered by the said earl of Surrey, that two of the greatest ladies of England going together should take with them two of the greatest ladies of Scotland, and so all four to go together in a row; and so sewingly always two of the best ladies and gentlewomen of England and two of Scotland to go together as before, where they had room so to do: and thus they did daily.

Thus the said queen was conveyed to the said church, and placed near to the font; Mistresse Denton, her mistresse, being always near her; and all her noble company standing in order on the left side of the church. Incontinent [straight away] cam the right reverend father in god my lord the archbishop of Glasgow, accompanied with the prelates, all in pontificals, and other notable folks of the church.

Then the king was brought by a very fair company, consisting of his said brother and of the lords above said, his steward, chamberlain, the constable, and the marischall, with all their staffs of their offices, and other nobles, knights, squires, and gentlemen, richly and honestly arrayed and with good chains. The lord of Hamilton bore his sword before him. His officers of arms were in their coats, and all his nobles stood in order on the right side of the church.

Then the king coming near to the queen, made reverence and she to him very humbly. The king was in a gown of white damask, figured with gold and lined with sarsenet. He had on a jacket with sleeves of crimson satin, the lists [borders] of black velvett, under that same a doublet of cloth of gold, and a pair of scarlet hose. His shirt broided [embroidered] with thread of gold, his bonnet black, with a riche balay [ruby], and his sword about him.

The queen was arrayed in a rich robe, like himself, bordered of crimson velvet, and lined of the self. She had a very riche collar of gold, of pierrery and pearls, round her neck, and the crown upon her head; her hair hanging. Between the said crown and the hairs was a very riche coif hanging down behind the whole length of the body.

Then the noble marriage was performed by the said archbishop of Glasgow; and the archbishop of York, in presence of all, read the bulls of our holy father the Pope of Rome, consenting thereto . . .

At dinner the queen was served before king, with all the honour that might be done, the officers of arms, and the sergeants at arms, proceeding before the meal. On that day sir John Willars was sewar [attendant at the meal], sir Davie Owen carver, and sir Edward Stanneley cupbearer; and with her dined the said archbishop of Glasgow. The chamber in which she dined was richly dressed, and the cloth of estate where she sat, was of clothe of gold very rich.

At the first course, she was served of a wild boars head gilt, within a fair platter, then with a fair piece of brain, and in the third place with a gambon, which were followed by diverse other dishes, to the number of 12, of many sorts, in fair and rich vessel.

Collectanea de Rebus Anglicanis, iv, ed. John Leland, London, 1809.

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