Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Wedding of Mary I and Philip of Spain

Mary I had chosen to marry Philip of Spain despite the obvious resentment from both court and people. Their wedding took place on July 25 1554 within the Winchester Cathedral - it happened to be the celebration day for St. James, patron Saint of Spain. Mary was 37 at the time of her wedding while her bridegroom was ten years younger.

Mary had spent enormous amounts of time on her wedding dress which was in royal purple and gold; she had even had her soon-to-be husband's outfit sewn as while but his was in white and gold and embroidered. The cathedral itself was richly hung with cloth-of-gold and a scaffold had been erected in the middle (though for a more joyous occasion this time). Behing this stage two chairs had been produced: one for the bride and one for the bridegroom.
The prince entered first under a canopy with Spain's arms on it and then came the Queen accompanied by a large number of noblemen. Her train was carried by the Marquise of Winchester and the ceremonial sword by the Earl of Derby. The service was performed by the bishop of Winchester who was also Mary's Lord Chancellor. Besides him the bishops of London, Ely, Duresme, Chichester and Lincoln were present. It must have seem necessary to underline that Mary was not marrying a mere prince of Spain but also the King of Naples and Jerusalem because the bishop of Winchester held a short speech on the matter. Strangely enough it was Mary who sat on the right side during the ceremony and not her male counterpart - this was a clear signal that it was she who was the ruling monarch and not her Spanish co-regent.

The ceremony was said in both English and Latin (perhaps a compromise?) and then the Marquise of Winchester and the Earls of Pembroke, Bedford and Derby stepped forth to give away the Queen - after all she had no father to give her away and it was symbolically that the entire realm gave her away. After the ceremony the newly wedded couple attended Mass before the great altar. When the rings were securely placed and the treaty signed the congregation all rose and shouted out in happiness, beseeching God to give them joy through this union.

If you want to read a contemporary account of this mayor event (I used it for this post) then follow this link
This is a replica of Mary's wedding gown
Winchester Cathedral where the event took place

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