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Author Topic: King Henry VIII Celebrates May Day at Greenwich 1515  (Read 2567 times)

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King Henry VIII Celebrates May Day at Greenwich 1515
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2015, 22:34:19 »
Greenwich Palace.

A.D. 1515. The Venetian ambassador, Sebastian Giustinian had an interview with king Henry the VIII. at Greenwich palace, in celebration of May-day.
He reports to the Doge:-

"After dinner a stately joust took place, at which his Majesty jousted, with many others, strenuously and valorously; and assuredly, most serene prince, from what we have seen of him, and in conformity, moreover, with the report made to us by others, this most serene king is not only very expert in arms and of great valour, and most excellent in personal endowments, but is likewise so gifted and adorned with mental accomplishments of every sort, that we believe him to have few equals in the world. He speaks English, French, and Latin; understands Italian well; plays almost on every instrument; sings and composes fairly; is prudent and sage, and free from every vice; and besides, is so good and affectionate a friend to the most serene state, that we consider it certain no ultramontane sovereign ever surpassed him in this respect."

In a letter written by Nicolo Sagudino, the secretary to the embassy, we find the following.-

On the first day of May, his majesty sent two English lords to the ambassadors, who were taken by them to a place called Greenwich, five miles hence, where the king was, for the purpose of celebrating May-day. On the ambassadors arriving there, they mounted on horseback, with many of the chief nobles of the kingdom, and accompanied the most serene queen
(Queen Catherine of Arragon) into the country, to meet the king. Her majesty was most excellently attired, and very richly, and with her twenty-five damsels, mounted on white palfreys, with housings of the same fashion, most beautifully embroidered in gold, and these damsels had all dresses slashed with gold lama in very costly trim, with a number of footmen in most excellent order. The queen went thus with her retinue a distance of two miles out of Greenwich, into a wood, where they found the king with his guard, all clad in a livery of green, with bows in their hands and about a hundred noblemen on horseback, all gorgeously arrayed. In this woods were certain bowers filled purposely with singing birds, which carrolled most sweetly; and in one of these bastions or bowers were some triumphal cars, on which were singers and musicians, who played on an organ and lute and flutes for a good while, during a banquet which was served in this place; then proceeding homewards, certain tall, paste-board giants, being placed on cars and surrounded by his majesty's guard, were conducted with the greatest order to Greenwich, the musicians singing the whole way, and sounding the trumpets and other instruments, so that, by my faith, it was an extremely fine triumph and very pompous, and the king in person brought up the rear in as great state as possible, being followed by the queen, with such a crowd on foot as to exceed, I think, 25,000 persons. On arriving at Greenwich, his majesty went to mass, after which the ambassadors had private audience.

From the Archaeological Mine. Antiquarian nuggets relating to Kent, by A. J. Dunkin, 1855. Page 152.


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