‘She was a Queen and by the same title a King also’: Constructing Authority, Court Ceremony and The Chapel Royal of Queen Mary I.
My dissertation discusses how monarchical authority was constructed and performed using ceremonies associated with the Chapel Royal. In focusing attention on Queen Mary I, England’s first ruling queen, this dissertation fills a gap in recent historiography of the Tudor court. Though current literature draws attention to the highly structured and liturgical aspects of court life, it has largely overlooked the role of Mary’s Chapel Royal.
The crowning of a female monarch in 1553 was an unprecedented situation that clashed with the accepted image of Tudor monarchy. Henry VIII, with his claims of Imperial Monarchy and desperate quest for a male heir, had emphasised the masculine aspects of the English crown. Henry’s son, Edward VI, used much of his father’s material culture, while furthering Protestant change. It will be argued that Mary used her Chapel Royal as a tool of communication to respond to these precedents, establishing her own, female and Catholic, authority.
Marian court ceremony tells us a great deal about contemporary perceptions of gender. The images constructed both reveal Mary’s personal views on her own authority and reflect contemporary concerns about the ability of a woman to rule. Mary constructed images of authority to answer the four greatest concerns of her reign: her legitimacy, gender, marriage and fertility. It will be argued that, contrary to prevailing opinion, Mary strategically used material culture to construct and maintain authority as a ruling Queen.
School of Humanities
MA History of Design, 2015
+44 (0)7880 881146
I am interested in expressions of monarchical authority in the early modern period. My project discusses how Queen Mary I (1553-1558) constructed and performed monarchical authority using ceremonies associated with the Chapel Royal.
The crowning of a female monarch in 1553 was an unprecedented situation that clashed with the accepted image of Tudor monarchy. Through exploration of material culture - dress, religious objects, colour and style - it is argued that Mary used her Chapel Royal as a tool of communication to respond to precedent, establishing her own, female and Catholic, authority.
- BA History, University of Cambridge, 2013
- Assistant to film director David Yates, Warner Brothers Studios, May 2015; Section editor 'Global Networks', Unmaking Things online academic journal, 2015 ; Researcher for 'Dated Objects' project, Crab Tree Farm Chicago, 2014; Early modern seminar series organiser, V&A Museum, 2014
- 'Objects of Loyalty', in: Angela McShane, (ed.), Crab Tree Farm Dated Objects Project [forthcoming]