This essay examines the ways in which Henry used poetics and performances to establish the iconography of his court and the relevance, within this context, of Henry’s specific choice of Katherine as queen to preside over his chivalric court. Though analysis may now often interrogate the possibility of underlying insecurities motivating Henry’s actions, the king’s consciousness of his own power and belief in his own ultimate sovereignty are equally important elements of almost every such analysis. However, the court over which a not-yet-eighteen year old Henry ascended in 1509 was a very different animal. Henry may have already begun to conceive of his sovereignty as unimpeachable, but he was a fair distance from being able to enforce that conception. How he handled the problems arising from this gap between desire and action determined many of the more defining elements of his reign, for in these first moments Henry intentionally created, in contrast to his father, and through verse and performance, a court invested in the ideals of courtly love, chose as the subject center for that court the regal Katherine, and began the drive towards absolute monarchy in its most ambitious sense that would make everything that followed possible. In the decisions he made in transitioning the court from his father’s to his own and in establishing his own royal identity, Henry VIII created, by example, the definitions of masculinity, courtiership, and chivalric behavior which he expected to be followed in his court and to define his court in history.
Rebecca M. Moore, University of Arkansas, USA
Stream: Humanities - Literature/Literary Studies*
This paper is part of the ECAH2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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