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What kind of king was Charles I?

Case Study 2: Charles I as a ruler – Source 3

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An order to pay a bill for embroidering royal gowns, March 1627

(Catalogue ref: SP 39/19/51)

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SP 39/19/51; order to pay for royal gowns, 1627

What is this source?

This is an order to pay a bill for embroidering the gowns of Charles’s wife, Queen Henrietta Maria, and thirteen ladies in waiting.


What's the background to this source?

Charles was a small shy young man with a stammer. He was probably a little insecure. This was one reason why he wanted to be surrounded by impressive art, buildings and clothes for him and his wife and his nobles.


It's worth knowing that...

All monarchs liked to be surrounded by beautiful things. Elizabeth I and James I both spent large amounts of money on art, architecture, entertaining, clothing etc. Charles I was the same.


Your turn: What does this source tell us?

  1. What is being paid for in this document?
  2. Does it seem like a lot of money?
  3. Check out a newspaper or website. Do celebrities today spend similar amounts on clothes?
  4. Do you think people in the 17th century would have all agreed with one of the following views, or do you think they would have been divided?
    • It’s an outrageous amount of money to spend on decorating clothes.
    • It’s necessary that the queen and the royal court look their best so that the country looks rich and important.