Royal Grief in England, 1485–1640

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This essay explores recorded responses to bereavements within the Tudor and early Stuart royal families. It recognizes that customs and conventional expectations may to a large extent have concealed, or distorted the representation of, individual experiences. Thus kings customarily passed their sorrows in seclusion after the death of a spouse. (Monarchs occasionally sought to exercise this privilege more informally and less successfully when favourites died.) Accounts of how kings and queens behaved when they lost sons tended to emphasize manly fortitude and womanly sorrow, but also revealed more complex reactions. Condolences addressed to members of the royal family during this period shared certain conventional themes. New in James I's reign was the outpouring of verse in which the grief of the king, the queen and their children was sympathetically imagined by poets.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Reading

Publication date: January 1, 2005

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