Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about the Imperial Family and European Royalty => The Tudors => Topic started by: Prince_Lieven on March 29, 2006, 04:07:56 PM

Title: Contemporary Descriptions
Post by: Prince_Lieven on March 29, 2006, 04:07:56 PM
Hey, I thought it would be a good idea if we gathered as many contemporary descriptions of the Tudors and Plantagenets as we can - for example, quotations from ambassadors ("Mistress Boleyn is of middling beauty" etc). Anyone interested?  :)
Title: Re: Contemporary Descriptions
Post by: Kimberly on March 30, 2006, 12:55:49 AM
Oh, good one. I'll hit the books ;)
Title: Re: Contemporary Descriptions
Post by: Kimberly on March 30, 2006, 02:51:25 AM
Marillac on Catherine Howard; he thought that she was graceful rather than the great beauty he had been lead to expect.
Chapuys on Jane Seymour; "She is of middle height and nobody thinks she has much beauty. Her complexion is so whitish that she may be called rather pale"
The Venetian Ambassador on Anne Boleyn (1532);" Not one of the handsomest women in the world. Of middling stature, with a swarthy complexion, long neck, wide mouth, bosom not much raised and in fact, has nothing but the King's great appetite, and her eyes which are black and very beautiful."
The Venetian Ambassador on Henry; "The handsomest potentate I have ever set eyes on, above the usual height with an extremely fine calf to his leg, his complexion very fair and bright with auburn hair combed straight and short.....his throat being rather long and thick"
There are some for starters.
Title: Re: Contemporary Descriptions
Post by: Kimberly on March 30, 2006, 03:12:12 AM
On Richard III.....NONE of the contemporary sources remark upon ANY deformity; "Never has so much spirit or greater virtue reigned in such a small body"- Archibald Whitelaw, Scottish envoy to the English Court 1484.
"Three fingers taller than myself...also much slimmer; he had delicate  arms and legs, also a great heart"- Nicholas von Poppelau.
Title: Re: Contemporary Descriptions
Post by: Kimberly on March 30, 2006, 08:34:30 AM
Catherine of Aragon; At age 30, the Netherlands ambassador reported her "of a lively and gracious disposition; quite the opposite of the Queen her sister (Juana) in complexion and manner". One year and two miscarriages later, Guistiani wrote "she is rather ugly than otherwise" A further 4 years later he wrote "She was not handsome but has a very beautiful complexion" Francois 1st was ruder, saying that Henry "has an old deformed wife" (meaning fat) :-X
Title: Re: Contemporary Descriptions
Post by: Kimberly on March 30, 2006, 08:50:31 AM
Henry VII; "Slender, well-built and strong; his height above the average...... Face was cheerful, especially when speaking, his eyes were small and blue, his teeth few, poor and blackish; his hair thin and white; his complexion sallow"- Polydore Vergil. ;)
Elizabeth Woodville;"She hath beauty of person and charm of manner"- Mancini.
Title: Re: Contemporary Descriptions
Post by: Prince_Lieven on March 31, 2006, 03:29:17 PM
Henry VII described as 'well built', 'strong' and 'cheerful'!  :o :o Thanks Kim!  :D

Any descriptions of Edward IV?
Title: Re: Contemporary Descriptions
Post by: Kimberly on March 31, 2006, 03:33:56 PM
Well, I have been looking for 2 days and not found anything yet. Henry VIII was supposed to resemble him ( in his youth)
Title: Re: Contemporary Descriptions
Post by: Prince_Lieven on March 31, 2006, 03:36:16 PM
Thanks Kim, I appreciate you doing the work for lazy folk like me.  ;D Any descriptions of Margaret or Mary Rose Tudor?
Title: Re: Contemporary Descriptions
Post by: Kimberly on April 01, 2006, 05:35:37 AM
Margaret Beaufort by Bishop Fisher; "Right studious she was in books which she had in great number, both in English and French. She had a holding memory and a ready wit".
She was;"In manner, all that was praisable in a woman, either in soul or body".
She even cracked a joke ...once. There is a portrait of her (contemporary?) in a red gown with a jewelled head dress but I have never seen it.
Title: Re: Contemporary Descriptions
Post by: Prince_Lieven on April 01, 2006, 09:26:55 AM
Thank you Kim.  :-*

I recently read that Catherine Parr was the tallest of Henry VIII's wives.
Title: Re: Contemporary Descriptions
Post by: Mari on May 11, 2007, 03:37:47 AM


As for her face, it is and appears to be very aged. It is long and thin, and her teeth are very yellow and unequal, compared with what they were formerly, so they say, and on the left side less than on the right. Many of them are missing so that one cannot understand her easily when she speaks quickly. Her figure is fair and tall and graceful in whatever she does; so far as may be she keeps her dignity, yet humbly and graciously withal."

References:
   The Ambassador's eyewitness account appears in: Maisse, Andre Hurualt, (G.B. Harrison and R.A. Jones eds.) De Maisse; a Journal of all that was accomplished by Monsieur de Maisse, ambassador in England from King Henri IV to Queen Elizabeth (1931); Johnson, Paul, Elizabeth I, a Study in Power and Intellect (1976).

How To Cite This Article:
"An Audience with Queen Elizabeth I, 1597," EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2004).

   
Ancient World | Middle Ages/Renassiance | 17th Century | 18th Cen..He led me along a passage somewhat dark, into a chamber that they call the Privy Chamber, at the head of which was the Queen seated in a low chair, by herself, and withdrawn from all the Lords and Ladies that were present, they being in one place and she in another. After I had made her my reverence at the entry of the chamber, she rose and came five or six paces towards me, almost into the middle of the chamber. I kissed the fringe of her robe and she embraced me with both hands. She looked at me kindly, and began to excuse herself that she had not sooner given me audience, saying that the day before she had been very ill with a gathering on the right side of her face, which I should never have thought seeing her eyes and face: but she did not remember ever to have been so ill before.

She was strangely attired in a dress of silver cloth, white and crimson, or silver 'gauze', as they call it. This dress had
Elizabeth I at the time of
her coronation, 1558
slashed sleeves lined with red taffeta, and was girt about with other little sleeves that hung down to the ground, which she was for ever twisting and untwisting. She kept the front of her dress open, and one could see the whole of her bosom, and passing low, and often she would open the front of this robe with her hands as if she was too hot. The collar of the robe was very high, and the lining of the inner part all adorned with little pendants of rubies and pearls, very many, but quite small. She had also a chain of rubies and pearls about her neck. On her head she wore a garland of the same material and beneath it a great reddish-colored wig, with a great number of spangles of gold and silver, and hanging down over her forehead some pearls, but of no great worth. On either side of her ears hung two great curls of hair, almost down to her shoulders and within the collar of her robe, spangled as the top of her head. Her bosom is somewhat wrinkled as well as one can see for the collar that she wears round her neck, but lower down her flesh is exceeding white and delicate, so far as one could see.

(Elizabeth I was 65 years old at this description) and had reigned for 39 years.
Title: Re: Contemporary Descriptions
Post by: Kimberly on May 11, 2007, 06:46:28 AM
Good grief Mari. I was reading that description of Elizabeth only this morning and now you have posted it.....spooky or what. :o ;D
Title: Re: Contemporary Descriptions
Post by: Mari on May 13, 2007, 12:58:28 AM
Well, it was a good description.... ;D
Title: Re: Contemporary Descriptions
Post by: Mari on May 15, 2007, 05:43:43 AM
I really like descriptions.       ::)..ran across another...

Mary Rose Tudor ""Madame, you are the rose of Christendom.  You should have stayed in France.  We would have appreciated you." 
All contemporary accounts remark on her great beauty, particularly her clear complexion and long red-gold hair, the Tudor trademark. 
From Cloth of Gold and Cloth of Frieze
Title: Re: Contemporary Descriptions
Post by: FaithWhiteRose on May 31, 2007, 04:52:46 PM
On Richard III.....NONE of the contemporary sources remark upon ANY deformity; "Never has so much spirit or greater virtue reigned in such a small body"- Archibald Whitelaw, Scottish envoy to the English Court 1484.
"Three fingers taller than myself...also much slimmer; he had delicate  arms and legs, also a great heart"- Nicholas von Poppelau.

Quite the opposite from: "Big, hairy, wicked, hump-backed murdering monster who was born with hair and teeth."
seriously. henry VII should know that the future generations would be smarter than THAT.
Title: Re: Contemporary Descriptions
Post by: Oliver on June 10, 2007, 03:26:04 AM
I found some in Starkeys "Six Wives" on Anne of Cleves

The English Ambassor Christopher Mont who visited the Saxon court in 1539 reported favourably on Anne, "Everyman praiseth the beauty of the said Lady, as well for the face, as for the whole body"

He also said "She excelleth as far the Duchess (Of Milan, and other suitor for King Henry VIII) as the golden sun excelleth the silvern moon"

Yet when Henry met Anne, afterwards he was reported to have asked Lord Russel -
"How do you like this woman?, do you think her so fair and of such beauty as report hath been made unto me of her? I pray you tell me the truth?"

Russel was said to have replied "that he took her not to be fair, but to be of a brown complexion".

Title: Re: Contemporary Descriptions
Post by: FaithWhiteRose on June 10, 2007, 01:21:06 PM
Yes, Holbein did make Anne of Cleves's portrait look prettier. But I think Henry might have been so devestated after Jane Seymour's death that he slightly over-reacted about Anne's 'hideousness'.
Title: Re: Contemporary Descriptions
Post by: Oliver on June 10, 2007, 01:34:19 PM
Yeah that could be the reason but I've also read he was dissapointed in how Anne looked nothing like Jane, Jane was a typical English rose with fair features so it gave whoever was to be his next Queen alot to live up to. I don't think Anne was extremely ugly, probaly more plain and had not the "ideal" beauty features of the time with her dark hair and "brown complexion" (which probaly means she had olive-skin tone which ironically nowadays everybody wants).

There is alot of comtemporary descriptions on Anne, most of them from Henry himself slandering her appearance which is quite ironic considering that by this time he was overweight, old and ailing.

Title: Re: Contemporary Descriptions
Post by: FaithWhiteRose on June 10, 2007, 01:51:58 PM
Yeah that could be the reason but I've also read he was dissapointed in how Anne looked nothing like Jane, Jane was a typical English rose with fair features so it gave whoever was to be his next Queen alot to live up to. I don't think Anne was extremely ugly, probaly more plain and had not the "ideal" beauty features of the time with her dark hair and "brown complexion" (which probaly means she had olive-skin tone which ironically nowadays everybody wants).

There is alot of comtemporary descriptions on Anne, most of them from Henry himself slandering her appearance which is quite ironic considering that by this time he was overweight, old and ailing.



I agree, and about Henry ruining her appearance and it being ironic---I maybe being too biased, but I don't think Henry cared so much about others. I don't think he was under the impression that he'd be remembered as a violent tyrant with six wives, of two whom got their heads chopped off.
Title: Re: Contemporary Descriptions
Post by: Mari on June 13, 2007, 05:26:33 AM
On Edward IV "contemporary Writers agreed that he was self-indulgent to a fault, discriminating in wine and food and if Mancini and Commynes are to be believed a threat to all Men's Wives and Daughters. Ross describes him as tall, fair and cool with a natural optimism and a cheery self-confidence that brought many a Woman, but left him vulnerable to aristocratic intrigue. He was well educated in romantic French chivalry and the realties of estate management."
The Historical Journal XVIII,  Edward IV by Charles Ross, London, Eyre Methuen, 1974