Gateway to the Classics: The World's Story: England by Eva March Tappan
The World's Story: England by  Eva March Tappan

The Coming of Philip II


[ON the 19th of July, the fleets came to anchor in the port of Southampton. A number of barges were soon seen pushing off from the shore; one of which, protected by a rich awning and superbly lined with cloth of gold, was manned by sailors whose dress of white and green intimated the royal livery. It was the queen's barge, intended for Philip; while the other boats, all gayly ornamented, received his nobles and their retinues.
The Editor. ]

THE Spanish prince was welcomed, on landing, by a goodly company of English lords, assembled to pay him their allegiance. The Earl of Arundel presented him, in the queen's name, with the splendid insignia of the Order of the Garter. Philip's dress, as usual, was of plain black velvet, with a berret cap, ornamented, after the fashion of the time, with gold chains. By Mary's orders, a spirited Andalusian jennet had been provided for him, which the prince instantly mounted. He was a good rider, and pleased the people by his courteous bearing, and the graceful manner in which he managed his horse.

The royal procession then moved forward to the ancient church of the Holy Rood, where mass was said, and thanks were offered up for their prosperous voyage. Philip, after this, repaired to the quarters assigned to him during his stay in the town. They were sumptuously fitted up, and the walls of the principal apartment hung with arras, commemorating the doings of that royal polemic, Henry VIII. Among other inscriptions in honor of him might be seen one proclaiming him "Head of the Church," and "Defender of the Faith";—words which, as they were probably in Latin, could not have been lost on the Spaniards.

The news of Philip's landing was received in London with every demonstration of joy. Guns were fired, bells were rung, processions were made to the churches, bonfires were lighted in all the principal streets, tables were spread in the squares, laden with good cheer, and wine and ale flowed freely as water for all corners. In short, the city gave itself up to a general jubilee, as if it were celebrating some victorious monarch returned to his dominions, and not the man whose name had lately been the object of such general execration. Mary gave instant orders that the nobles of her court should hold themselves in readiness to accompany her to Winchester, where she was to receive the prince; and on the 21st of July she made her entry, in great state, into that capital, and established her residence at the episcopal palace.

During the few days that Philip stayed at Southampton, he rode constantly abroad, and showed himself frequently to the people. The information he had received, before his voyage, of the state of public feeling, had suggested to him some natural apprehensions for his safety. He seems to have resolved, from the first, therefore, to adopt such a condescending, and indeed affable, demeanor, as would disarm the jealousy of the English, and if possible conciliate their good will. In this he appears to have been very successful, although some of the more haughty of the aristocracy did take exception at his neglecting to raise his cap to them. That he should have imposed the degree of restraint which he seems to have done on the indulgence of his natural disposition is good proof of the strength of his apprehensions.

The favor which Philip showed the English gave umbrage to his own nobles. They were still more disgusted by the rigid interpretation of one of the marriage articles, by which some hundreds of their attendants were prohibited, as foreigners, from landing, or, after landing, were compelled to reembark, and return to Spain. Whenever Philip went abroad he was accompanied by Englishmen. He was served by Englishmen at his meals. He breakfasted and dined in public—a thing but little to his taste. He drank healths, after the manner of the English, and encouraged his Spanish followers to imitate his example, as he quaffed the strong ale of the country.

On the 23d. of the month, the Earl of Pembroke arrived, with a brilliant company of two hundred mounted gentlemen, to escort the prince to Winchester. He was attended, moreover, by a body of English archers, whose tunics of yellow cloth, striped with bars of red velvet, displayed the gaudy-colored livery of the House of Aragon. The day was unpropitious. The rain fell heavily, in such torrents as might have cooled the enthusiasm of a more ardent lover than Philip. But he was too gallant a cavalier to be daunted by the elements. The distance, not great in itself, was to be traveled on horseback—the usual mode of conveyance at a time when roads were scarcely practicable for carriages.

Philip and his retinue had not proceeded far when they were encountered by a cavalier, riding at full speed, and bringing with him a ring which Mary had sent her lover, with the request that he would not expose himself to the weather, but postpone his departure to the following day. The prince, not understanding the messenger, who spoke in English, and suspecting that it was intended by Mary to warn him of some danger in his path, instantly drew up by the roadside, and took counsel with Alva and Egmont as to what was to be done. One of the courtiers, who perceived his embarrassment, rode up and acquainted the prince with the real purport of the message. Relieved of his alarm, Philip no longer hesitated, but, with his red felt cloak wrapped closely about him, and a broad beaver slouched over his eyes, manfully pushed forward, in spite of the tempest.

As he advanced, his retinue received continual accessions from the neighboring gentry and yeomanry, until it amounted to some thousands before he reached Winchester. It was late in the afternoon when the cavalcade, soiled with travel and thoroughly drenched with rain, arrived before the gates of the city. The mayor and aldermen, dressed in their robes of scarlet, came to welcome the prince, and, presenting the keys of the city, conducted him to his quarters.

That evening Philip had his first interview with Mary. It was private, and he was taken to her residence by the chancellor, Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester. The royal pair passed an hour or more together; and, as Mary spoke the Castilian fluently, the interview must have been spared much of the embarrassment that would otherwise have attended it.

On the following day the parties met in public. Philip was attended by the principal persons of his suite, of both sexes; and as the procession, making a goodly show, passed through the streets on foot, the minstrelsy played before them till they reached the royal residence. The reception-room was the great hall of the palace. Mary, stepping forward to receive her betrothed, saluted him with a loving kiss before all the company. She then conducted him to a sort of throne, where she took her seat by his side, under a stately canopy. They remained there for an hour or more, conversing together, while the courtiers had leisure to become acquainted with one another, and to find ample food, doubtless, for future criticism, in the peculiarities of national costume and manners. Notwithstanding the Spanish blood in Mary's veins, the higher circles of Spain and England had personally almost as little intercourse with one another at that period, as England and Japan have at present.

The ensuing day, the festival of St. James, the patron saint of Spain, was the one appointed for the marriage. Philip exchanged his usual simple dress for the bridal vestments provided for him by his mistress. They were of spotless white, as the reporter is careful to inform us, satin and cloth of gold, thickly powdered with pearls and precious stones. Round his neck he wore the superb collar of the Golden Fleece, the famous Burgundian Order; while the brilliant ribbon below his knee served as the badge of the no less illustrious Order of the Garter. He went on foot to the cathedral, attended by all his nobles, vying with one another in the ostentatious splendor of their retinues.

Half an hour elapsed before Philip was joined by the queen at the entrance of the cathedral. Mary was surrounded by the lords and ladies of her court. Her dress, of white satin and cloth of gold, like his own, was studded and fringed with diamonds of inestimable price, some of them, doubtless, the gift of Philip, which he had sent to her by the hands of the Prince of Eboli soon after his landing. Her bright red slippers, and her mantle of black velvet, formed a contrast to the rest of her apparel, and, for a bridal costume, would hardly suit the taste of the present day. The royal party then moved up the nave of the cathedral, and were received in the choir by the Bishop of Winchester, supported by the great prelates of the English Church. The greatest of all, Cranmer, the primate of all England, was absent—in disgrace and a prisoner.

Philip and Mary took their seats under a royal canopy, with an altar between them. The queen was surrounded by the ladies of her court; whose beauty, says an Italian writer, acquired additional luster by contrast with the shadowy complexions of the South. The aisles and spacious galleries were crowded with spectators of every degree, drawn together from the most distant quarters to witness the ceremony.

The silence was broken by Figueroa, one of the Imperial Council, who read aloud an instrument of the Emperor, Charles V. It stated that this marriage had been of his own seeking; and he was desirous that his beloved son should enter into it in a manner suitable to his own expectations and the dignity of his illustrious consort. He therefore resigned to him his entire right and sovereignty over the kingdom of Naples and the duchy of Milan. The rank of the parties would thus be equal, and Mary, instead of giving her hand to a subject, would wed a sovereign like herself.

Some embarrassment occurred as to the person who should give the queen away—a part of the ceremony not provided for. After a brief conference, it was removed by the Marquis of Winchester and the Earls of Pembroke and Derby, who took it on themselves to give her away in the name of the whole realm; at which the multitude raised a shout that made the old walls of the cathedral ring again. The marriage service was then concluded by the Bishop of Winchester. Philip and Mary resumed their scats, and mass was performed, when the bridegroom, rising, gave his consort the "kiss of peace," according to the custom of the time. The whole ceremony occupied nearly four hours. At the close of it, Philip, taking Mary by the hand, led her from the church. The royal couple were followed by, the long train of prelates and nobles, and were preceded by the Earls of Pembroke and Derby, each bearing aloft a naked sword, the symbol of sovereignty. The effect of the spectacle was heightened by the various costumes of the two nations,—the richly tinted and picturesque dresses of the Spaniards, and the solid magnificence of the English and Flemings, mingling together in gay confusion. The glittering procession moved slowly on, to the blithe sounds of festal music, while the air was rent with the loyal acclamations of the populace, delighted, as usual, with the splendor of the pageant.

In the great hall of the episcopal palace, a sumptuous banquet was prepared for the whole company. At one end of the apartment was a dais, on which, under a superb canopy, a table was set for the king and queen; and a third scat was added for Bishop Gardiner, the only one of the great lords who was admitted to the distinction of dining with royalty.

Below the dais, the tables were set on either side through the whole length of the hall, for the English and Spanish nobles, all arranged—a perilous point of etiquette—with due regard to their relative rank. The royal table was covered with dishes of gold. A spacious buffet, rising to the height of eight stages, or shelves, and filled with a profusion of gold and silver vessels, somewhat ostentatiously displayed the magnificence of the prelate, or of his sovereign. Yet this ostentation was rather Spanish than English; and was one of the forms in which the Castilian grandee loved to display his opulence.

At the bottom of the hall was an orchestra, occupied by a band of excellent performers, who enlivened the repast by their music. But the most interesting part of the show was that of the Winchester boys, some of whom were permitted to enter the presence, and recite in Latin their epithalamiums in honor of the royal nuptials, for which they received a handsome guerdon from the queen.

After the banquet came the ball, at which, if we are to take an old English authority, "the Spaniards were greatly out of countenance when they saw the English so far excel them." This seems somewhat strange, considering that dancing is, and always has been, the national pastime of Spain. Dancing is to the Spaniard what music is to the Italian—the very condition of his social existence. It did not continue late on the present occasion, and, at the temperate hour of nine, the bridal festivities closed for the evening.

by William H. Prescott

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