On this day in Tudor history, 24th June 1509, seventeen-year-old King Henry VIII and his new bride, Catherine of Aragon, were crowned king and queen at a joint coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey.
It was Midsummer’s Day and the Feast of St John the Baptist, a perfect day for this young couple’s coronation.
Let me tell you more about their coronation…
On 24th June 1509, Midsummer’s Day and the Feast of St John the Baptist, King Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, were crowned king and queen by William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, in a joint ceremony at Westminster Abbey, London.
Midsummer’s Day was a day associated with fairies and magic, and it was traditional for fires to be burned on Midsummer’s Eve to give the sun strength. David Starkey writes of how the new king and queen “seemed indeed to be another Oberon and Titania: their magic spell would knit up old wounds and end ancient hatreds, and all, all would live happily ever after.”
At 8am, under canopies carried by the barons of the Cinques Ports, Henry and Catherine processed behind twenty-eight bishops, from the Palace of Westminster to the Abbey for the coronation ceremony. They walked on a carpet of striped cloth which was immediately torn to bits by the excited crowd who wanted a souvenir of that special day.
In the Abbey, William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, presented Henry to his people who acclaimed him by calling out “Vivat, vivat rex!“, or “Long Live the King!”, four times. When asked if they would “receive, obey and take” Henry as their King, the crowd in the Abbey all cried “Yeh! Yeh!” Henry then swore the nine oaths of kingship before Warham anointed him with holy oils and crowned him. Catherine was then crowned Queen of England and the royal party processed back to Westminster Hall for a celebration banquet. The banquet was opened by a fanfare of trumpets and special procession of dishes, led by the Duke of Buckingham and the Lord Steward, both on horseback.
The celebrations did not end with the banquet. There was a special tournament that night and then two days of jousting and feasting. In his “Coronation Ode of King Henry VIII”, Thomas More wrote “This day is the end of our slavery, the fount of our liberty; the end of sadness, the beginning of joy… Such a King will wipe the tears from every eye and put joy in the place of our long distress”. It was the end of an era. The Winter King was dead and Henry VIII’s accession brought new hope and joy to the people of England, and the coronation of this good-looking and virtuous young couple was an event to celebrate.