Effigies of Henry Vll and Elizabeth of York by Torrigiano
Henry died on 21 April 1509. Henry has come down through history as something of a miser, a tightwad. Whether this is undeserved or otherwise , I do not know, although his Privy Purse Expenses make very interesting reading. He certainly enjoyed gambling, frequently incurring debts (1) as did Elizabeth, his wife, whose debts often Henry paid (2), although on one occasion £100 was given as a loan and to be repaid (3). An astonishing £30 pounds was paid to a ‘young damoysell that daunceth’ (4) really, Henry! although the ‘little feloo of Shaftesbury‘ only received a £1, presumably the poor little blighter was not as attractive as the damoysell (5). But I digress, because what I wanted to discuss here, are the expenses incurred from Henry’s funeral and tomb, an area in which Henry clearly did not wish to rein in.
I am grateful for the following information which I have gleaned from Royal Tombs of Medieval England Mark Duffy – a marvellous book which I can thoroughly recommend.
‘The costs of building the new chapel at Westminster are estimated at around £14,856. The chapel was conceived as Henry’s personal chantry, and there was to be no room for any doubt. Henry’s will instructed that
‘the Walles , Doores, Windows, Archies and Vaults, and Ymages of the same our chappel, wittin and without, be painted, garnished and adorned with our Armes, Bagies, Cognoissants, and other convenient painting, in as goodly and riche maner as suche a work requireth, and as to a Kings wek apperteigneth'(6).
And so it was done! An Interior View of the Henry VII Chapel. Artist Giovanni Canaletto
The pendant fan vaulted roof of the Henry VII chapel adorned with Beaufort portcullis and Tudor Rose ‘Bagies’.
‘The tomb commissioned by Henry itself, featured gilt effigies of himself and Elizabeth, plus figures of himself and 4 kneeling lords and a tomb chest of black and white marble housing 12 small images of saints to be crafted by a group of craftsmen. The cost of this tomb was estimated at £1257.6s.8d of which the gilt metal amounted to £1050 (7).’
‘The funeral expenses exceeded an unprecedented £7,000 including £ 1,000 pounds of black cloth supplied by 56 merchants and 3,606 lbs of candle wax (8)’
‘The bronze screen enclosing the tomb was supplied by a Thomas Ducheman who was paid £51.8s and housed 32 bronze statues of saints (of which only 6 survive)’. (9)
‘The tomb chest contains an epitaph in bronze recording the achievements of the couple, not least the procreation of Henry VII, suggesting his role in the detailing of the monument’ (10)
Chantry screen of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York
Tomb of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York
If you liked this post you might be interested in :
- Excerpta Historica Edited by Samuel Bentley pp 88, 90, 102, 108, 120, 122, 126.
- Excerpta Historica Edited by Samuel Bentley pp 95, 907, 111, 132.
- Excerpta Historica Edited by Samuel Bentley p 97
- Excerpta Historica Edited by Samuel Bentley P 94
- Excerpta Historica Edited by Samuel Bentley P 88
- Royal Tombs of Medieval England Mark Duffy p 279
- Royal Tombs of Medieval England Mark Duffy P.281
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- Royal Tombs of Medieval England Mark Duffy p.286