Margaret of Anjou Queen of Henry VI. and her court.

Margaret,Anjou, Queen, 15th century, clothing, court, costumes, England, fashion, middle ages, medieval

Margaret of Anjou 1430-1482 wife of King Henry VI of England.

Margaret of Anjou Queen of Henry VI. and her court.

LONG attachments and frequent visits rendered King Henry VI. and his queen Margaret, even in the midst of their misfortunes, great favourites with, the people of Coventry. 

Medieval book illustration Shrewsbury book. the daisies.

Illustration from the Shrewsbury book

Their memory is still preserved there in the traditions connected with the tapestry, of which a portion is represented in our plate. It is placed at the north end of the dining hall of St. Mary’s Hall, at Coventry, above the dais, occupying the space beneath the windows, and is thirty feet long by ten high. A compartment in the middle, now much defaced, appears to have represented the Deity, with other sacred objects.

To the left of this are seen the king, with his court, occupied in prayer. Over their heads are saints (their patrons), and some emblematical figures. On the other side of the central compartment are the queen, with the ladies of her court, also praying. From the similarity of the king to other portraits of him, it is believed that we have here a correct portrait of Queen Margaret. She is represented as a tall stately woman, with somewhat of a masculine face.

She is dressed in a rich flowing robe, with a chain of gold round her neck. The lady kneeling behind the queen, who has also a chain of gold, is identified by tradition with the Duchess of Buckingham; but we cannot place much confidence in such authority.

In the tapestry, above this group of ladies, are female saints, placed similarly to the saints on the side of the king. St. Mary’s Hall, one of the most remarkable buildings in Coventry, which owes its foundation to some of those gilds of merchants, which here, as well as at Chester, are so well known to the literary antiquarian by the mysteries and miracle plays they were accustomed to perform on their festival days, was itself built in the earlier part of the reign of Henry VI. Among the numerous paintings in its windows, and the architectural ornaments with which it is profusely decorated, the arms and figure of that monarch recur more than once.

The border at the outside of the foregoing page is taken from the Shrewsbury book; the daisies, of which it is composed, being a conceit upon the queen’s name of Margaret (marguerite).

The wood-cut at the foot of the present page is taken from an illumination in a fine manuscript in the British Museum (MS. Harl. No. 4372), and represents a coach of the middle or latter half of the fifteenth century, at which time probably’ this manuscript was written. It contains a French translation of Valerius Maximus, made in the reign of Charles V. of France, and dedicated to that monarch; but the compiler of the Harleian Catalogue can hardly be correct in stating that the MS. itself may be of that age.

The kind of carriage here represented, very similar in form to our covered waggons, is frequently found in MSS. from an early period down to the sixteenth century. It appears to be covered with figured silk, supported upon brass rods.

Medieval Coach of the 15th century

Coach of the fifteenth century

Source: Dresses and Decorations of the Middle Ages from the 7th to the 17th centuries by Henry Shaw F.S.A. Published: London William Pickering 1843.

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