Walk: Curran Theater (Into the Woods)
Distance: 4.5 miles
|Cope of Henry VII (1499-1505) Velvet cloth-of-gold, brocaded with loops of silver-gilt and silver, embroaidery on tabby linen in silver-gilt thread and silk. English with cloth woven in Florence, Italy (Front view)
Last month, along with much of the world, Ciwt watched the coronation of Charles III as King of the United Kingdom and many other titles. It was a magnificent ceremony, the orderly culmination of his ascending to throne automatically upon the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.
But this orderly, ceremonial transfer of the crown from monarch to monarch is at odds with history. Historically has not been easy becoming King or Queen of England and usually involved prolonged physical, legal, religious battles over territory and bloodlines. Certainly the beginning of the Tudor Dynesty was one of most complicated and tenuous. It's first monarch, Henry Tudor VII's bloodline was to the former King was tenuous and tiny, and he only succeeded to the throne after killing his most formidable rival in battle to end the War of the Roses. So the throne he ascended to was shakey at best.
But Henry's strategic sense of victorious combat blossomed under his crown. He healed the feud with his strongest rival family by taking one of them, Elizabeth of York, as his wife and built alliances and secured his fledgling dynsty by marrying his children to foreign royalty. His exchequer was limited along with his initial stature in the eyes of his kingdom and the rest of the world, primarily Europe, but through politics and miserliness, he amassed a fortune and built a stable foundation for his younger son Henry VII.
To the everlasting joy of art and artifact lovers, the only area where Henry VII lavished his funds was the arts. He understood the literally awesome power of art and sought out the most talented and avant garde painters, wood workers, weavers and other artisans in his country and abroad and kept them busy with commisions to produce the most dazzling artworks in the Western world at that time. It was art as propaganda: any country with the stability, funds, discernment was a country to be reconded with, and any citizen of such a country felt pride and trust in their monarch.
Imagine all the clergy officiating at the altar of an English Catholic church service wearing sumptuous vestments like this Cope commissioned by Henry. It is enormous, the threads are silver and golden, they catch the candlelight and glisten. The whole altar is awesomely golden as a perfectly crafted instrument plays newly commissioned English music and the building resonates with the tones of Latin text being chanted. The visuals and music are overwhelmingly compelling and redound to the King and country of England. Thus, primarily was the magnificent and storied Tudor dynasty established.