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Tudor Minute May 9: Henry VII's body is moved to London

Hey, this is Heather from the Renaissance English History Podcast, and this is your Tudor Minute for May 9. Today in 1509 the body of Henry VII was moved from Richmond Palace to St. Paul’s. He would be buried two days later in Westminster Abbey with his wife, Elizabeth of York.

The event was recorded 150 years later by James Pellar Malcolm, who was actually born in America in 1767 but went to London to pursue an artistic career after the American Revolution. He became an engraver who was admitted to the Society of Antiquaries, and created books on historical subjects. In 1807 he created Londinium redivivum; or, an ancient history and modern description of London. It was a parochial history compiled from original records, such as vestry-books, churchwardens' accounts, and parochial registers. The dean and chapter of St Paul's Cathedral gave him free access to their archives. The work is accompanied by forty-seven engraved plates.

He writes: “On the 9th of May, 1509, the body of Henry VII. was placed in a chariot, covered with black cloth of gold, which was drawn by five spirited horses, whose trappings were of black velvet, adorned with quishions of gold. The effigies of his Majesty lay upon the corpse, dressed in his regal habiliments. The carriage had suspended on it banners of arms, titles, and pedigrees. A number of prelates preceded the body, who were followed by the deceased king’s servants; after it were nine mourners. Six hundred men bearing torches surrounded the chariot. The chariot was met in St. George’s Fields [he died at Windsor] by all the priests and clergy of London and its neighbourhood; and at London Bridge by the Lord Mayor, aldermen, and common council, in black. To render this awful scene sublimely grand, the way was lined with children, who held burning tapers: those, with the flashes of great torches, whose red rays, darting in every direction upon glittering objects, and embroidered copes, showing the solemn pace, uplifted eyes, and mournful countenances, must have formed a noble picture. The slow, monotonous notes of the chaunt, mixed with the sonorous tones of the great bells, were not less grateful to the ear. When the body had arrived at St. Paul’s, which was superbly illuminated, it was taken from the chariot and carried to the choir, where it was placed beneath a hearse arrayed with all the accompaniments of death. A solemn mass and dirge were then sung, and a sermon preached by the Bishop of Rochester.”

That’s your Tudor Minute for today. Remember you can dive deeper into life in 16th century England through the Renaissance English History Podcast at englandcast.com, where we have some great talks from the 2017 Tudor Summit on the early Tudors.


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