Today, 6th January, is Epiphany, the feast day celebrating the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child, and a day which brought the Twelve Days of Christmas to a close in medieval and Tudor England.

Epiphany at the royal court was celebrated with feasting and pageantry, and you can find out all about it in a video I’ve just made for the Tudor Society. I’ve made this weekly video chat available to all in celebration of Epiphany and I do hope you enjoy it. Click here to view it now.

The 6th January was also a wedding anniversary for King Henry VIII, one that he would want to forget about. It was on this day in 1540 that he married Anne of Cleves in the Queen’s closet at Greenwich Palace.The King wore a gown of cloth of gold lined and the bride was “apparelled in a gowne of ryche cloth of gold set full of large flowers of great & Orient Pearle, made after the Dutche fassion rownde”, with her long blonde hair loose, a gold “coronall” on her head, which was set with a large precious stone and decorated with branches of rosemary, and jewels around her neck and waist.

The couple were married by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, and the ceremony was followed by a banquet, a masque and other entertainment.

Click here to read more about the wedding and their short-lived marriage.

Also on this day in history, 6th January 1536, Maria de Salinas arrived at the dying Catherine of Aragon’s bedside at Kimbolton Castle to be with her friend in her last hours – click here to read more about the two women’s friendship.

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5 thoughts on “Epiphany and a royal wedding”
  1. First of all Happy Epiphany and eight days of festival. Henry must have gone down the aisle kicking and screaming. Well he could hardly get out of it. The treaty had been signed, he had consulted his lawyers and no breaking the binding betrothal or risking war. Henry had to keep his word. Anne had no idea, although she probably felt some awkwardness. This was meant to be a wedding to bind two countries as well as two people for years, but Henry very soon afterwards was moaning and complaining that he could not consummate the marriage, although I suspect it was nothing to do with her looks. The chemistry was there, Henry was having sexual problems, he could not get over the humiliation a few days earlier at Rochford, it was clear he was going to find a way out one way or another. Henry treated Anne with dignity and no sign of disrespect. He gave her every dignity and welcome and people seem to have loved and welcome her. She was certainly smart, she was worthy to be a Queen, pity he could not see that.

  2. Also very nice to see how Epiphany and other ceremonies are kept around the world. Last night I was reading the Wikipedia article. It is very good.

  3. I stumbled across her grave and gave a gasp – she’s my favourite of his wives. Smart as a whip.

  4. By the way Merry Christmas to all my sisters and brothers from the Orthodox and Armenian traditions this weekend. Peace and Joy.

  5. I wonder what Anne really looked like, no one else said she was plain and smelt which is what Henry complained about, he is recorded as saying she had evil smells about her, I reckon she had been indulging in too much saukraut, she just obviously wasn’t his type maybe she was too tall for him and big boned, he did seem to prefer petite women, maybe he found her accent off putting and had dreamt instead of a dainty Nordic maiden and instead thought he was saddled with a rather clumsy Nordic sow, other men may have found her attractive, the image of the wedding conjures up a sour faced Henry glowering under all his finery and his poor bride who I believe must have looked quite striking with her long blonde locks and golden coronet, I can see Cromwell quaking in fear hiding behind a long curtain nervously gulping a goblet of wine, well aware that his Lord and master was doing this very reluctantly, was he aware that his days as Henry’s faithful servant was numbered? I believe so, Wolsley had fallen from favour because he had failed to secure the divorce from his first wife, now Cromwell had brought about this most unhappy marriage which the King could not get out of and was blaming it all on him, reading about the feast of Epiphany the Tudors certainly made the most of the festivals with much pomp and celebrating, I find it a little sad that now those dates are now just numbers on the calendar, I bet the court looked beautiful with the decorations and the sumptuously clad courtiers.

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