30 December 2012

Mary Tudor: The Wedding

When Mary first laid eyes on her husband-to-be, it was love at first sight.  For Mary, Philip was family, and to be implicitly trusted, loved without question.  Mary believed with all her heart that she and Philip were meant-to-be. Philip was the gallant man Mary had been waiting for her whole life. With Philip, all her greatest dreams would be realized. Unified, they would bring Catholicism back to England. Together they would enjoy a romantic, idealistic marriage.  And the fruit that naturally follows such a marriage would be their children, preferably sons to be future Catholic kings of England. Mary was  full of hope that day, perhaps more so than she had ever been. She was happy and hopeful, positively brimming with excitement over her upcoming marriage. Mary couldn't have had an inkling that the future held no such visions of domestic bliss. She couldn't have known that there would be no romantic companionship, no sons to be future kings, that she would find herself entirely alone.

Mary was actually Philip's aunt, and he sometimes referred to her as his Tia Amada. This is not a romantic pet name as it means beloved aunt. They were related in that Mary was the granddaughter of the late Queen Isabella of Castile; Philip was her great-grandson. Strange as this might seem to modern thinking, marrying within families was considered ideal and a good way to keep political objectives, not to mention wealth, on a straight course.

 Philip was not exactly a spectacular male specimen; he had odd, spindly legs and was and quite short. Mary was very short herself, having inherited none of her father's incredible height, and Philip stood over her slightly.  But Mary had eyes of blind love for her betrothed, and all she could see was a handsome and dignified man, with a fine featured face and attractive light hair. As far as Mary was concerned, Philip was nothing short of splendid. Philip took care to present himself with meticulous manners and pleasant disposition. If he was disappointed, and he was, Philip took pains to not let it show in in his face.  It was essential that Mary not know how Philip really felt about their first face to face meeting.

But Philip was disappointed. Though Mary was attired in a black velvet gown, dripping with large jewels, Philip did not find her at all pleasing. In Mary, Philip saw a woman who was thin, but not in a flattering way,
very pale, and who had a deep resonating voice. But it was some of Philip's men who described Mary so cruelly. They described Mary as sagging, her skin lacking firmness. It was crude of Philip's men to voice such things, but it was true. Mary was physically older than her years. Time had taken its toll on her always frail constitution. Years of chronic depression, anxiety, menstrual difficulties, and digestive problems had ravaged her, and Mary was already in her late 30's. If Mary could have known what Philip thought, and what his men said about her, she would have been crushed. Mary believed that her Philip was just as enamoured with her, as she was with him. Philip knew that Mary would not be a young maiden in the bloom of youth, but he was surprised to find her even older looking than he had believed.

Mary was flush with love after that pleasant first meeting. It was the day before the wedding. She showered Philip with expensive and wonderful gifts. There were finely tailored suits of brocade with diamond and pearl buttons, one of the suits a lush crimson brocade. Philip did not put these gifts on and instead wore a fine purple brocade suit of his choosing. Mary and Philip talked and exchanged kisses. Sadly it was all perfunctory for Philip, something he felt was obligatory, a duty; Mary was walking on clouds.

The actual wedding was a splendid affair.  No expense was spared for the nuptials of Queen Mary to her handsome prince. Gorgeously arrayed, Mary shined bright on that day. The wedding day was a rainy one, 25, July. It was a beautiful wedding at Winchester Cathedral. Philip truly looked the Shining Knight as he was dressed that day. He dazzled all in his white breeches and doublet. Philip wore a mantle of gold and crimson, adorned with precious stones. Mary wore a dream of a gown, purple satin set with pearls, French style with wide sleeves, white satin kirtle, high collar, and a train.

The couple must have looked ethereal to their wedding guests on that long ago day. After the ceremony, the newly-weds walked to bishop's palace, where their wedding reception took place .Again, Mary's bliss can only be imagined. She must have believed that the day would begin a whole new life for her, and the end of the misery which had plagued Mary for so many years. The reception fare was pure luxury, with about 140 people in attendance. After the meal, there was a dance, and Spaniards seemed less than impressed by the English ladies there. The Spanish men found the English ladies immodest and distinctly lacking in beauty. Yet by other accounts, many of the English ladies present at the wedding dance were considered beautiful. Clearly, personal biases were at work.  The tension between the Spaniards and the English courtiers was already making itself very obvious. The wedding dance ended relatively early, and Mary and Philip left separately to have a final supper. Gardiner blessed the marriage and Mary and Philip were finally left alone.

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