Sunday, 21 October 2012

Henry Stuart, Prince Of Wales

I have slipped backwards Century wise with this post, but found this character particularly fascinating.

Born at Stirling Castle in February 1594, as Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of The Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland. Henry Frederick was named after his murdered grandfather, Henry Darnley, the second husband of Mary Queen of Scots, and Frederick II of Denmark.

James I was concerned [or paranoid] that his wife’s interest in Catholicism would influence their son, so he placed him in the care of Alexander Erskine, Earl of Mar with whom Henry stayed for the first eight years of his life. James was equally protective of his other two children, Elizabeth who became Queen of Bohemia and Charles I, who were also removed from their mother’s care at a young age.  Elizabeth was born at Falkland Palace, Fife and brought up at Linlithgow Palace. Her father became King when she was six, and Elizabeth came to England under her governess the Countess of Kildare, but was later consigned to the care of Lord Harington and grew up at Combe Abbey in Warwickshire.
Charles Stuart Circa 1615

Charles was born in Dunfermline Palace, but was not considered strong enough to make the journey to London when his parents and older siblings left for England. He was only reunited with his family when he was three and a half and could walk the hall at Dunfirmline unaided.

At his father's accession in 1605, Henry became Duke of Cornwall and
Henry Stuart on Horseback
entered Magdalen College, Oxford, where the hugely popular young man became interested in sports. His other interests included naval and military affairs, and national issues, about which he often disagreed with his father. He also disapproved of the way James I conducted the royal court, disliked his favourite, Robert Carr and was friends with Sir Walter Raleigh and campaigned for him to be released from the Tower of London.

In 1610, Henry was invested as Prince of Wales, by which time his popularity eclipsed his father, causing tension between them. On one occasion they were hunting near Royston when James I criticized his son for lacking enthusiasm for the chase. Henry moved to strike his father with a caneollowed by most of the hunting party.

Henry is said to have disliked his younger brother, Charles, and once teased him by snatching off the hat of a bishop and put it on the younger child's head, saying he would make Charles Archbishop of Canterbury when he was king, so Charles would have a long robe to hide his ugly, rickety legs. Charles was only nine and had to be dragged off in tears after stamping on the cap.

Elizabeth Stuart
Henry was ardently Protestant and fiercely moral as well as being an enthusiastic patron of the arts. He collected paintings, sculpture and books, enjoyed music and literature, and commissioned garden designs and architecture, as well as personally performing in court festivities and masques. He took an active interest in the navy and sponsored an expedition to find the North-West Passage, subsequently giving his name to new settlements in Virginia.

When the king proposed a French marriage for Henry, he answered that he was 'resolved that two religions should not lie in his bed.'  He was also approving of his sister Elizabeth's proposed match to the Protestant Frederick, Elector Palatine.  

At the age of 16 he was already building up a spectacular art collection, including Holbein drawings [now held in the Windsor Castle library]. He was also so interested in shipbuilding that Sir Walter Raleigh, imprisoned in the tower, wrote him a treatise on the subject.

'Upright to the point of priggishness, he fined all who swore in his presence', according to Charles Carlton, a biographer of Charles I, who describes Henry as an 'obdurate Protestant'. who ensured his household attended church services, and himself listened humbly, attentively and regularly to the sermons preached to his household.

In November 1612, just before his nineteenth birthday, Henry contracted typhoid fever. While on his deathbed, the 12-year-old Charles sent for the horse and gave it to his brother hoping it would cheer him up - but it was too late, Henry died.

Prince Henry's death was widely regarded as a tragedy for the nation. According to Charles Carlton, 'Few heirs to the English throne have been as widely and deeply mourned as Prince Henry.'  His body lay in state at St James Palace for four weeks, and over a thousand people walked in the mile-long cortege to Westminster Abbey to hear the two-hour sermon delivered by the Archbishop of Canterbury. As Henry's body was lowered into the ground, his chief servants broke their staves of office at the grave.

Anne of Denmark in Mouring
A contemporary record notes: “There was to bee seene an innumerable multitude of all sorts of ages and degrees of men, women and children... some weeping, crying, howling, wringing of their hands, others halfe dead, sounding, sighing inwardly, others holding up their hands, passionately bewayling so great a losse, with Rivers, nay with an Ocean of teares.”

Charles was the chief mourner at Henry's funeral, which James I (detesting funerals) refused to attend. All of Henry's automatic titles passed to Charles. Months later, in the middle of a conversation with diplomats, the king suddenly collapsed, sobbing: "Henry is dead, Henry is dead."

The National Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar square is holding an exhibition entitled: The Lost Prince: The Life and Death of Henry Stuart which runs from October 18 2012 - January 13 2013.

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