ceremonial & pageantry

Henry’s reign was characterised by lavish ceremonials and pageantry which all contributed to reinforcing the power of the King. While births, marriages, coronations and funerals were occasions for elaborate ceremonies, so were the King’s dining and washing.

Part of the pageantry harked back to earlier codes of chivalry such as those of the Knights of the Bath and Order of the Garter, which were honours bestowed on select individuals. Pageantry included 'revels' using fancy dress and disguises, jousting and tournaments. Heraldic devices on flags, streamers, banners and shields were displayed on these occasions using coats of arms controlled by the College of Heralds.

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The initial 'h' and the composition of the King in relation to the group in the document above (EXT 9/68) is surprisingly similar to the images of Henry found in Valor Ecclesiasticus. The style employed in this letter patent is also reminiscent of earlier religious illuminated manuscripts. Henry is flanked by his officials while granting this document to the kneeling William Rede, his wife and son. The decorative border includes considerable allegorical and symbolic features such as the greyhound and the dragon. Henry’s heraldic colours of green and white are displayed at the back of his throne in a spacious architectural interior.

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This is a copy of the gold seal of Henry VIII (PRO 30/26/65) and was attached to a confirmation of a peace treaty made with Henry VIII in 1527. The 'Treaty of Perpetual Peace' didn’t last long, however, as Henry ordered the invasion of France in 1543. The original gold seal displays immense craftsmanship by French goldsmiths and is thought to have been designed by the artist Hans Holbein. It depicts Henry VIII in extraordinary splendour with his feet resting on the Tudor rose. A Latin motto encircles the seal which translates as: “Henry by the grace of God King of England and France defender of the faith and Lord of Ireland”.

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This is the reverse side of the seal of Henry, which shows the arms of England and France quarterly surrounded by the collar of the Order of the Garter. The Latin motto surrounding it reads: “All things are joined by order and stand firm by treaty”. In honour of their renewed friendship both Kings were admitted to each others' orders of chivalry - the Order of St. Michael (French) and the Order of Garter (English).