Henry IV of England, National Portrait Gallery

Henry IV of England, National Portrait Gallery


Peter Paul Rubens

Rubens was a remarkable individual. Not only was he an enormously successful painter whose workshop produced a staggering number of works but he also played an important diplomatic role in 17th-century European politics. He was clearly a charming and attractive companion, described as having 'a tall stature, a stately bearing, with a regularly shaped face, rosy cheeks, chestnut brown hair, sparkling eyes but with passion restrained, a laughing air, gentle and courteous'.

Peter Paul Rubens was born in Siegen in Germany, but from the age of 10 he lived and went to school in Antwerp. His first job, at the age of 13, was as court page to a countess. It was a prestigious position for a young man, but Rubens found it stifling and began training as an artist.

As soon as he had completed his training, he set out for Italy in order to see for himself the great Renaissance and classical works that he knew from copies. For eight years, he travelled and worked in Spain, copying and incorporating the techniques of Renaissance and classical art.


He couldn’t get out of it! An alliance with the House of Cleves was a move intended to bring Henry the political support and power that he craved in Europe. He also needed a 'spare' to his heir, Prince Edward.

By the time Anne arrived in England the original political reason for the union had diminished, and the lack of any immediate chemistry between Henry and Anne didn’t help. Anne and Henry were also separated by language, culture and personality. They had not met before their betrothal.

Henry, who liked to choose his brides for himself (normally from the ranks of ladies in waiting at court) may have already set his sights on Catherine Howard as his next wife. Desperate attempts to halt the Cleves wedding failed, much to the King’s fury.

Image: An engraving called Anne of Cleves by Francesco Bartolozzi, after Hans Holbein the Younger, © National Portrait Gallery, London


Edward VI, born 1537, reigned 1547-53

Edward, born and christened at Hampton Court Palace was the eagerly-awaited son of Henry VIII and his third wife, Jane Seymour. Henry is said to have wept with joy as he held his infant son, then wept again a few days later when the queen died from post-birth complications. As a little boy Edward was spoiled and indulged, he even had his own fighting bears.

Edward was extremely well educated by a set of forward-thinking Cambridge scholars, who instilled in the prince a desire for religious reform. Even before he was 10, Edward was, apparently, fairly fluent in Latin, Greek and French.

Edward VI after Hans Holbein the Younger c1542, © National Portrait Gallery, London

The young king

Edward was crowned aged 9 although his uncle, Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, acted as the young King's governor and lord protector of the realm until he was deposed in 1550.

Edward's reign saw the foundations laid for one of the great transformations of English society, the English Reformation, but the King did not live to see the successful realisation of many of his religious plans. Falling ill in 1552, probably with tuberculosis, he finally succumbed on 6 July 1553, aged only 15.

Edward VI (1537-53) c.1550, attributed to William Scrots, Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II


The Field of Cloth of Gold confirmed

The delay caused by the imperial election meant that the meeting that would become known as the Field of Cloth of Gold was scheduled for 1520.

As soon as the meeting was agreed, Wolsey started making plans from his home at Hampton Court Palace.

Did you know?

In 1520, Wolsey was still building his new palace at Hampton Court.

Image: Autograph letter from François I to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey permitting him to arrange a meeting with Henry VIII. © The National Archives, E30/846

A neutral location

Wolsey agreed with his French counterpart, Guillaume Gouffier, that the meeting would take place in the summer on neutral ground between English-owned Guînes and the French town of Ardres.

Image: Plan of the town and castle of Guînes (Pas-de-Calais). © The British Library Board, Cotton MS Augustus I ii 23


Reformation and revolution

The 'Act of Union' was part of the intensification of the sovereignty of the crown – the essence of what Geoffrey Elton described as ‘the Tudor Revolution’. An even more central part of that revolution was Henry VIII’s abolition of the authority of the Pope within his territories, for, in doing so, the king was declaring that his kingdom was a totally sovereign state.

Evidence for the initial reaction in Wales is sparse, although it is unlikely that the anti-papal legislation was welcomed in so traditionalist a nation, where there was not, as there was in the more urban areas of England, a tradition of regarding the Pope as a focus of xenophobic feeling.

Yet that legislation, and later more radical moves such as the dissolution of the monasteries, the attack upon chantries and the introduction of an English-language Prayer Book, incited no uprisings in Wales as they did in northern England and in Cornwall. That may be because of the Welsh gentry’s instinctive loyalty towards the Tudor monarchy, but it was also a consequence of the reign of terror inflicted upon Wales in the 1530s by Rowland Lee, president of the Council of the Marches.

It was a myth that Protestantism was the re-embodiment of the beliefs of early Welsh Christianity, whose purity had been defiled by Romish practices.

Indeed, in seeking to understand the course of the Reformation in Wales, the increasing power of the agents of the English crown must always be borne in mind. Initially, attitudes in Wales were probably very similar to attitudes in Ireland.

In Ireland, however, the power of the English crown was limited, and there the coercive power of the English authorities was not strong enough to bar entry to those members of Roman Catholic orders who were determined upon campaigns to ensure that the Irish remained loyal to the faith of their forefathers. In Wales, that coercive power was sufficient to ensure that no such campaigns would be launched.

There were, nonetheless, more constructive elements in the story of how the Welsh came to accept the Henrican and Elizabethan religious settlements. Chief among them were the efforts of a handful of Welsh Humanists who were determined that the central tenets of Protestantism would be accessible to the Welsh people, the vast majority of whom knew no language other than Welsh.

There was John Price, who in 1546, published the first book in the Welsh language William Salesbury who in 1561 published a Welsh translation of the main texts of the English Prayer Book and in 1567 was mainly responsible for the first Welsh edition of the New Testament and, above all, there was William Morgan who in 1588 published the entire Bible in Welsh, using language so exalted that his work remains the object of veneration.

The publication was prepared in obedience to a statute of 1563 which commanded that a Welsh version of the Bible and the Prayer Book should be available in every one of the parish churches of Wales. (The statute was somewhat ironic, for it meant that parliament was authorizing the use of the Welsh language in spiritual matters barely a generation after the 'Act of Union’ had banned its use in secular matters.)

Equally important was the fading of the myth that Protestantism was ‘the English religion’. It was replaced by another myth: that Protestantism was the re-embodiment of the beliefs of early Welsh Christianity, whose purity had been defiled by the Romish practices imposed upon it following St Augustine’s arrival at Canterbury.

Thus, by becoming Protestants, the Welsh were not embracing a new and dangerous heresy rather were they returning to the faith of their forefathers, a faith which sprang directly from the era of the Apostles, for tradition maintained that it was Joseph of Arimathea who had converted the Britons to Christianity.


Two UK galleries to share portrait of German doctor who resisted Nazis

Lovis Corinth’s 1899 portrait of Dr Ferdinand Mainzer, which was accepted in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated jointly to the National Gallery and the Henry Barber Trust. Photograph: The National Gallery, London

Lovis Corinth’s 1899 portrait of Dr Ferdinand Mainzer, which was accepted in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated jointly to the National Gallery and the Henry Barber Trust. Photograph: The National Gallery, London

Last modified on Thu 20 May 2021 04.37 BST

A portrait of a German-Jewish doctor who became active in a circle of intellectuals secretly resisting the Nazis has been accepted for the nation in lieu of tax.

It was announced on Wednesday that Lovis Corinth’s 1899 portrait of Ferdinand Mainzer will be shared in the collections of the National Gallery in London and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham.

The painting has been offered as part of the Acceptance in Lieu (AiL) scheme, created in David Lloyd George’s 1910 “people’s budget”, which let cultural objects be left to the nation as a way of offsetting or settling inheritance tax bills.

This is the first time an object has been allocated to two collections, and the work will be displayed in rotation between London and Birmingham.

The painting of Mainzer – with his perfectly manicured moustache, raised eyebrows, and sceptical stare through pince-nez – shines light on a man with a fascinating story.

Mainzer was a gynaecologist and an active figure in the avant garde circles of Berlin in the early 20th century. Unable to perform surgery after injuring his hand, Mainzer turned to writing history.

He had international success with a biography of Julius Caesar, which was translated into English and French and was said to have inspired the American playwright and novelist Thornton Wilder’s 1948 book, The Ides of March.

In the 1930s Mainzer became active in the Solf Circle, a group of intellectuals who at great personal risk would gather to discuss how best to resist the Nazis. It was founded by Johanna Solf, the widow of a German ambassador, and her daughter Lagi, who helped Mainzer and his family escape to England.

Most of the circle were executed in 1944 after a betrayal by a Gestapo infiltrator. Mainzer and his wife moved to Los Angeles, becoming part of a burgeoning German-speaking expatriate community that included the writer Thomas Mann and the director Max Reinhardt.

He died in 1943 and his portrait was inherited by his granddaughter, Gisela Stone. It hung in her London home until her death in 2016.

Corinth is far from being a household name but he is a significant artist. Until now he has been unrepresented in the National Gallery, and the gallery said the acquisition would help show the influence on modern art of the Secession movements in Berlin and Vienna.

It goes on display first in Birmingham. Nicola Kalinsky, the director of the Barber, praised the AiL panel for a “thoughtful and creative decision which will allow this dynamic and arresting portrait to be seen in both London and Birmingham”.

She added: “At the Barber, it will introduce our visitors to Corinth’s distinctive qualities as a painter as well as offering a poignant lens through which to view a troubled period of European history.”


Over on twitter this week we are marking the 300 th anniversary of the death of Queen Anne and the Hanoverian succession with a series of daily ‘live tweets’ under the hashtag #Anne1714. In today’s accompanying guest blogpost, Professor William Gibson, Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Oxford Brookes, discusses the relationship between Anne and her successor, George I…

Queen Anne got some satisfaction at having outlived her heir, Sophia. The Electress had, even a few days before her death, agitated for a member of her family to come to England to secure the Hanoverian succession. It was an agitation that Anne found offensive and had repeatedly resisted for over a decade. Contemporaries gossiped about whether Anne would prefer to be succeeded by her half-brother, James Edward Stuart. According to John Wesley, Queen Anne told Archbishop John Sharp of York,

I love my brother well: but I never had the least thought or desire of resigning my crown in his favour. I would not, if I could: for it can never be good for England to have a Papist on the throne. And I could not place him upon it if I would: my people would not suffer it.

So for contemporaries the issue was whether and how the Hanoverians would succeed. Today assumptions are often made about how closely related Anne and George I were. Jacobites liked to emphasise how distant the Hanover family connection was, as well as George’s ‘alien’ German ways. Historians have often followed this, even suggesting that there were between thirty and fifty people more closely related to Anne disbarred from the succession by the Act of Settlement of 1701 because of their Catholicism. In fact the number who stood between Anne and George were very few. There were only six living people with a closer kinship to Anne than George. The reason for this is partly because of the extraordinary poor health of the Stuarts.

Anne herself, of course, was the end of a line of Stuart descent, her sister Mary having died childless in 1694 and her brother-in-law William, also a Stuart through his mother, in 1702. Anne’s father, James II had died in 1701 (leaving Francis Edward as his heir) and his brothers, Charles II and Henry Duke of Gloucester, had both died without legitimate issue. James II’s sister, Henrietta, had married Phillip d’Orleans and converted to Catholicism. Henrietta had four children, only one of whom was still alive in 1714, Anne Marie d’Orleans, who had married Victor Amadeus of Savoy. Anne Marie had two children, Charles Emmanuel and Victor Amadeus, both of whom were Catholics. But Henrietta’s descendants in 1714 represent three of the six cousins who stood between Anne and George of Hanover.

In the generation above James II, Charles II and Henrietta, the Stuart line had also been unlucky: James I and Anne of Denmark had eight children, six of whom died young or without issue. These included Henry Prince of Wales, who died of typhoid in 1612 and is often thought of as a great renaissance prince. This left Charles I and his sister Elizabeth, who married Frederick of the Palatine. Elizabeth and Frederick were, briefly, the elected King and Queen of Bohemia, reigning less than a year before they were ejected from their new kingdom by the Catholic Hapsburgs. Thereafter, Elizabeth, often called the ‘Winter Queen’, lived in Holland and for the last two years of her life in London following Charles II’s restoration. Elizabeth was hugely popular in England, having suffered for her Protestantism. Her portraits were some of the most widely copied and there can have been few English men and women in the period 1660-1714 who did not admire her. Elizabeth had thirteen children of these only two had legitimate issue. The first was Edward, who became a Catholic and had two daughters, Anne Henrietta and Benedicta, both of whom were alive in 1714. These are the other two living cousins who were closer in kinship to Anne than George of Hanover. Elizabeth of Bohemia’s youngest daughter was Sophia, who married Ernest Augustus of Hanover in 1658.

Elizabeth, the Winter Queen, died in 1662, and was interred in Westminster Abbey. As the sister of the executed Charles I, and mother of the royalist heroes Prince Rupert and Prince Maurice, she had been briefly feted in England in the last two years of her life. Her daughter Sophia was also strong in her identity as a Stuart princess. When after 1701 some tried to portray her as a foreign princess she indignantly emphasised that she regarded herself as thoroughly English. She read the English newsletters, received visitors from England and had a number of English correspondents.

It is moreover to Sophia that a little-known feature of royal law is due: the Sophia Naturalisation Act of 1705. This confirmed that Sophia was a naturalised British citizen and inadvertently granted that right to all their heirs of her body, together with the style of prince or princess of Great Britain and Ireland. It is to this act, confirmed in a legal ruling in 1957, that the current princes of Hanover claim British citizenship and also the right to the title prince of Great Britain and Ireland.

When in May 1714 the eighty four year old Sophia of Hanover died, Queen Anne referred to the event as ‘chipping porridge’ –meaning it had no significance for her. This was not because Sophia was such a distant cousin, but because Anne wanted to disguise the annoyance she had felt from Sophia’s repeated requests for a family member to come to England ready to claim the throne on Anne’s death. It was, as Queen Elizabeth I had said, like having her own shroud laid out before her. However it would be a mistake to assume that George of Hanover was a remote kinsman, he was a close Stuart cousin.

– J. N. Duggan, Sophia of Hanover: From Winter Princess to Heiress of Great Britain, London, Peter Owen, 2010.

– Edward Gregg, Queen Anne London: Routledge, Kegan & Paul, 1980.

– F. Holmes, The Sickly Stuarts, The Medical Downfall of a Dynasty, Stroud, Sutton Publishing, 2003.

– Rosalind K. Marshall, The Winter Queen, The Life of Elizabeth of Bohemia, 1596-1662, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 1998.

– J. Wesley, Concise History of England, London, 1775-6, 4 vols.

– James Anderson Winn, Queen Anne, Oxford University Press, 2014.

Professor William Gibson is Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Oxford Brookes University and Director of the Oxford Centre for Methodism and Church History.

To follow the events of 1714 ‘as they happened’, follow us on twitter @HistParl or #Anne1714.


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See the Earliest-Known Photograph of a U.S. President at the National Portrait Gallery in 2018

A lucky someone will soon have th e chance to own a 174-year-old piece of American history:  the oldest-known original photograph of a U.S. president has surfaced and is set to go on sale this fall ,  reports Jennifer Schuessler of the  New York Times.

"An invaluable document, this daguerreotype [crystallizes] a remarkable moment in the history of photography and American politics," the auction house Sotheby's announced in a statement detailing the auction, which is planned for October 5.

Taken in March 1843 in Washington, D.C., the daguerreotype beats out another surviving photograph from just a few months later, when Adams sat for a portrait in New York that he later deemed "hideous," reports Schuessler . That image is now held by the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.

Adams was more than a decade removed from his presidency when he sat for this photo, already deep into his second act  serving as a Massachusetts congressman. In these tense years leading up to the Civil War, Adams used his post and his prestige to wage a largely solitary fight against the institution of slavery on the floor of the House of Representatives, despite many efforts to silence him.

It was to one of his friends and allies in Congress, Vermont Representative Horace Everett that Adams gave his March 1843 photograph to, calling Everett his "kinsman" on a note in his own handwriting on the paper backing. The photograph, showing Adams looking sternly at the camera in wooden chair, passed through Everett's family for generations, reports Schuessler. In the 1990s, a great-great-grandson of Everett came across the image, and only after some internet sleuthing, did he realize the significance of the family heirloom.

Photography as a medium had only arisen just a few years prior to Adams' portrait. The 75-year-old statesman's daguerreotype, a process that exposed images on silver-coated plates, was on the cutting edge of technology for its day, similar to how President Barack Obama had a portrait of himself 3D-printed from a scan of his head in 2014.

While this may be the oldest-surviving photograph of a U.S. president, it was not the first photo ever taken of a commander-in-chief, notes George Dvorsky of Gizmodo. That honor goes to President William Henry Harrison, who had a photo taken at the beginning of his very brief term in office before his untimely death in 1841. But only an 1850 copy of that daguerreotype exists today, which is held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It's estimated that Adams' photograph will sell f or $150,000 to $250,000, reports Schuessler. It will be auctioned alongside other notable images from the 19th and 20th century, including a signed print of  photographer Robert Frank'​s shot of  a segregated New Orleans trolley, which he used as the cover for his stark 1958 book, The Americans.


What if Anne Boleyn of Kent's Hever Castle had survived Henry VIII?

She grew up at Kent's Hever Castle and found her place in the history books by becoming Henry VIII's second wife, but things didn't go too well for Anne Boleyn, dying by execution in 1536 at the Tower of London.

In the fourth of our series looking at how things might have turned out differently, the University of Kent's Professor Kenneth Fincham predicts what may have happened if she'd lived.

Ann Boleyn. Image courtesy of The National Portrait Gallery

The fate of Anne Boleyn is unpleasantly most recalled in the more unfavourable lines referring to the six wives of Henry VIII in the rhyme we learnt in school: “Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived."

It is perhaps wrong to reduce lives and grim deaths to such brevity, but it certainly is effective in reminding us their fates.

But what if the history and the rhyme were re-written: “Divorced,….survived?"

Let us imagine how this would look for that famous noble girl from Kent that became a Queen, to have remained with her beloved, to whom she swore loyalty even in her final moments. How would that look?

Picture this: Queen Anne, once Anne Boleyn, was the chief mourner at Henry VIII’s funeral at St George’s Chapel Windsor in February 1547.

The two had been happily married for 14 years, though their marriage had initially been rocky.

Henry VIII was desperate for a male heir to inherit his throne, which was why he had divorced his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, since she was past child-bearing age, and to marry Anne he’d had to become Head of the Church of England and launch the Reformation.

Anne then failed at the first hurdle, giving birth to a child who was cute and clever, but ultimately female Elizabeth.

Henry already had one of those from his first marriage, Mary, and one was more than enough.

But on May 19, 1536 Anne gave birth to a boy, a redhead called Harry in honour of his dad, sealing the marriage and securing Anne’s position.

Hever Castle near Edenbridge, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn

The two were thereon inseparable. Queen Anne accompanied King Henry on his travels across the kingdom – including a visit to Canterbury in August 1538, to break up the shrine and burn the bones of the meddling medieval archbishop, Thomas Becket.

This gave Anne the chance to look over the ancient city, with her eye falling on the wealthy monastery of St Augustine’s and its extensive lands.

One passion that Henry and Anne shared was building. They had jointly planned the expansion of Hampton Court Palace, acquired in the late 1520s from another overmighty cleric, Cardinal Wolsey.

There on the ceilings and walls, were placed love-knots of ‘H’ and ‘A’.

In 1539 the monastery of St Augustine’s was closed down, the monks expelled, and at Anne’s request (for how could Henry refuse her anything after Harry’s birth?) the abbot’s lodgings turned into a palace fit for a queen. “Anne’s Abbey”, as Henry affectionately called it.

Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn in the BBC drama Wolf Hall

Anne’s Abbey in Canterbury remains to this day one of the greatest of Henry’s buildings, with red brick ranges, a long gallery, a garden of pleasures and a deer park and everywhere, just everywhere, are the initials ‘H’ and ‘A’ intertwined.

After another visit to Canterbury, Henry showed Anne around his new defensive fort at Deal, built to repel a feared invasion from Francis I and Charles V, Henry’s great rivals abroad.

On journeys to and from Canterbury, Anne would often visit her childhood home of Hever Castle, which she owned after the death of her father, Sir Thomas Boleyn, in 1539.

There her children Harry and Elizabeth learnt to hunt, and would sometimes ride over to the nearby hunting lodge of Penhurst Place, with its glorious medieval hall.

Little Elizabeth loved learning about its history, but Prince Harry was more interested in the suits of armour he found in the undercroft.

A portrait of Anne Boleyn at Hever

After Henry VIII’s death in 1547, the dowager queen retired to her childhood home of Hever Castle.

New King Henry IX was aged just 10 so the country was ruled by the Lord Protector, Anne’s brother George Boleyn.

As for Elizabeth: She was married off to the Duke of Savoy in 1558, and disappeared from the pages of English history.

The influence on Anne on the King was evident in Kent, with Henry naming the county the ‘Garden of England’.

His adoration for his heir-providing wife meant a far greater royal-presence in the county, with an increase in royal hospitality as new estates were created to home the royal court, in addition to Hever.

A gold medal showing Elizabeth I commemorating victory over the Spanish Armada

After Hampton Court, Canterbury, became akin to a second home to the couple and their children, providing a county capital from which Henry could rule when away from home and establishing Kent as the Queen’s county of the Kingdom.

Sadly, this was not the way history went, with Anne’s execution for lack of a male heir.

Had Anne provided a male heir, England may not have gained Queen Elizabeth I. Considering the role Elizabeth played in our real history, would this be the greatest queen England never had?

Without Elizabeth, would English forces have been inspired to withstand the terror of the Spanish Armada – perhaps the greatest threat to face England till the 20th Century?

Professor Kenneth Fincham

Kenneth Fincham is Professor of History at the University of Kent, and specialises in 16-17th century British history.


Watch the video: Teaser The assassination of Henry IV