A Princess In Need Of A Prince

Royal marriages rarely include love instead duty is the other four-letter word used. Most royal couples hope for some form of compatibility between the prospective bride and bridegroom. And for Princess Charlotte and the Prince of Orange, such an outcome was hoped for as well. The first meeting between the royal pair was to happen over a dinner party her father was throwing.

For the party, Charlotte donned a “violet satin, trimmed with black lace.” The gown didn’t help hide how pale she was  or her agitation. At dinner, Lord Liverpool sat on her left and to her right was the Prince of Orange. 

Charlotte described the future King William III of Netherlands as “very plain but he was so lively and animated that it quite went off…” 

After dinner and allowing the two strolling in the gallery,  an impatient Prinny drew his daughter to a corner to learn her opinion of Slender Billy. Charlotte said, “I like his manner very well, as much as I have seen it.” All her father heard was her agreement to wed the prince so he summoned the Prime Minister (actually entitled First Lord of the Treasury) Lord Liverpool and his wife who offered their felicitations, which was followed by the surprised Prince of Orange. 

It seems Slender Billy was smart than Prinny since in truth he didn’t think he impressed her much. And he hadn’t. She “thought him particularly plain and sickly in his look, his figure very slender, his manner rather hearty and boyish, but not unpleasant in a young soldier.” Not words of affection not even a stir of such feeling. In fact, Charlotte wrote, “I am persuaded I shall have a very great regard and opinion of him which perhaps is better to begin with and more likely to last than love.”

The next day, Prince William called upon her. It wasn’t a success. He informed Charlotte that she would have to spend two or three months a year in Holland when he visited his home country. 

She was devastated. The prince promised that she wouldn’t have to accompany him on his every visit and when she did, she could bring her ladies with her. 

Such a concession had to be enough for her though. That didn’t stop her anger with her father. Slender Billy was chance at freedom from her father nevertheless, the government held the position that the Princess never leave England’s shores.

On January 7 1814, Charlotte spent her eighteenth birthday by visiting her mother during the day and the evening, at a concert with her uncles, the royal dukes. 

The next two months the marriage negotiations raged. Charlotte kept informed of every detail of the negotiations by having them put in writing. Her father was a feckless man who would change anything to suit his whims and that included sending his daughter to Holland. 

A Peace Party

While the talks continued, Napoleon was defeated and all of Europe (except France of course since they lost) and their sovereigns journeyed to England, including the Tsar’s favorite sister, the Grand Duchess Catherine, to celebrate. Much like everyone else, the Grand Duchess was impressed by the Princess. She described her as “the most interesting member of the family…She is blonde, has a handsome nose, a delicious mouth and fine teeth…She is full of spirit and positive in character. She seems to have an iron will in the smallest things…Her manners are so extraordinary that they take one’s breath away… She walks up to any man, young or old, especially takes them by the hand, and shakes it with all her strength… She looks like a boy, or rather a ragamuffin.” 

That strong will the duchess noticed in Charlotte stood firm against her father and his demands of her to visit Holland after her marriage. The princess refused to give in. To irritate her father even more the Prince of Orange didn’t want her to do anything against her will. In the end, the marriage contract specified that Charlotte would not have to leave England against her will. 

While Charlotte signed the marriage contract, Prince of Orange was at Ascot, getting rip roaring drunk. He had to be sent back to London in a coach. Two days later, Charlotte attended a great banquet at Carlton House (the only state occasion she was permitted to attend). Prince William also attended and as was his habit, he got drunk. 

Charlotte was becoming disheartened by the arrangement. She learned Slender Billy’s true nature. Her impression of him changed. To her, he was a “callow, scruffy boy who could not even hold his liquor.” 

Charlotte’s yearning for freedom wasn’t enough to marry Prince William and for three solid reasons. The first was that she wished to marry another prince since Slender Billy was a “dismal prospect”. The second reason was another prince had caught her eye, a certain handsome Prince August. The third was her duty to stand by her mother who would protect her own position as heir presumptive. 

Back Away Not So Slowly

On June 16 1814, Charlotte and Prince of Orange met at Warwick House where she informed him that she’d marry him only if her mother would always be welcome in their home. William wouldn’t agree to that (the two parties hated each other thanks to European politics). She couldn’t marry him without it. 

A shocked William plead for her to think over her decision. Of course, the Whigs and her mother were happy. Prinny not so much. 

 The Princess didn’t know what awaited her.  Soon after her meeting with Billy, she and a companion called upon the Tsar and his sister, who happened to be staying at the same hotel as the Prince of Orange. During the visit, the Tsar attempted to persuade Charlotte to change her mind. She wouldn’t budge. When Charlotte was departing, the Grand Duchess Catherine sent her to the back stairs to avoid William. 

She took the stairs where a small group lingered at the foot of them. Charlotte spotted “A tall, dark, handsome officer wearing the all-white uniform of the Russian heavy cavalry. The officer turned. He was not more than twenty-four years old, but his badges signified that he was already a Lieutenant-General.” 

The handsome Lieutenant-General asked if he could assist the ladies and the princess’s companion informed him of Charlotte’s identity and asked him to see them to her carriage. He did.

The drop-dead gorgeous officer was the General Officer Commanding Cavalry of the Tsar, Prince Leopold Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. 

Love had come for the Princess. 

A Royal Marriage…Perhaps?

A Princess With Benefits

The Prince Regent had marriage on his mind. Not for himself but for his daughter and the man he had his eye on William VI—Slender Billy—the Prince of Orange. Slender Billy hated the British but there was a threat a bigger threat—Napoleon and Britain was his only hope to defeating the Corsican.

Napoleon had taken the throne of Holland and with it William’s seat so a marriage between the Hereditary Prince of Orange (who reigned over Holland) and Princess Charlotte sounded like a win.

In 1813, this possible marriage fit into England’s desire. Napoleon’s army was rushing back to France and the plan for peace was to create a “buffer state” between France and Prussia. That state was Holland. And to sweeten the deal, the plan was to increase the size of Holland but subsume part of Austrian Netherlands (Belgium to us) and give the Dutch a constitutional monarchy like merry ole England and make Slender Billy king. Naturally, he loved the idea. 

The whispered rumors of the marriage negotiations reached Charlotte. Her mother, Caroline of Brunswick, hated Billy and his family but this was Charlotte’s chance to escape from her father’s thumb. 

A Prince Will Do

Two days after the Prince Regent’s birthday party, the Prince of Orange arrived from Spain to deliver the news of the Duke of Wellington advancing into France. Charlotte knew his appearance was a ploy to have Billy and Charlotte meet. It didn’t happen. 

The cautious Princess wished to learn more about Slender Billy. The Hereditary Prince was described in a way that would not make a woman’s heart race.  He was “very gentlemanlike, well informed and pleasant” as well as the best waltzer. All this was encased in a body that was “excessively plain” and “thin as a needle”.  A month later the Billy return to the theatre of war. 

In October, the first mention of the political marriage was raised to Charlotte. Not by her father but a Sir Henry Halford. Charlotte wasn’t ready to accept the Prince so used a ploy of her own, stating that she preferred the Duke of Gloucester, an Englishman. She was believed. 

Prinny was not pleased. And he knew what was wrong with his daughter. She was drunk because she couldn’t possibly fallen for Gloucester otherwise. This didn’t win over the Princess so the Prince Regent changed tactics by telling his daughter, “There were plenty of eligible princes to choose from and then assured her that he was not the sort of man who would force his daughter to marry anyone against her will.” 

She knew the bull her father was serving her. 

Dinner Then Decide

With Napoleon dealt with, Prince Orange was returning from France to Holland by way of England (the long way home) so the Prince Regent planned a dinner for him. Now, Charlotte had to meet him and consider marriage. Prinny’s new ploy to earn his daughter’s agreement was to be more respectful and loving with her than he had ever been in her life. 

The stubborn young lady understood she had a duty to her nation and her people. The marriage played into the interests of both Holland and Great Britain. Charlotte had a demand. She refuses to accompany Slender Billy to Holland during his visits, saying, “As heiress presumptive to the Crown it is certain that I could not quit this country, as Queen of England still less. Therefore P of O must visit his frogs solo.” 

Slender Billy’s boots hit British soil on December 10. The next day the Prince Regent visited his daughter to pressure her again. Charlotte put off giving an answer by promising to decide after the small and informal dinner. 

Now, a Princess had to decide if Slender Billy will do for her. 

Or another…

The Mysterious Lady Holding An Orange Blossom:What Was Worn

When I was searching for the next portrait for the What Was Worn series, I came across this portrait, Lady Holding an Orange Blossom and knew with the first glance that this one was it. Why? Her face captured me. This unknown lady reminded me of a friend I had during my teenage years. My friend and I had grown apart and I have seen her in decades but I wonder about her and her life. Where she happens to be, I hope she is healthy and happy.

Now back to our post.

Who’s That Girl?

Lady Holding An Orange Blossom is an oil canvas dated mid-eighteenth century with the fashion style circa 1775. The unknown artist was trained in the European Style yet, the artistic treatment of fabric and bodice was a style that dates to the 1750s and as stated the fashion timeline is later. This information tells us that the artist was a less prominent style and safe to say to resided in the Caribbean or Central or South America.

As for our sitter, she is unknown and ranges in age from twelve to fifteen years of age. She is a mystery that gazes out at us with a Mona Lisa quality that snares the viewer. For the purpose of this post, I’m naming her Grace. Our amazing Grace has medium-dark skin, with dark, deep brown eyes and hair to that matches and arranged of her face and pinned up.

Art historians believe Grace is from the British or Spanish colonies and possibly, mixed race since formal Spanish portraiture was used. Because of her fine clothing and accessories as well as the fact that her family possesses the money to commission a portrait of her, Grace was a free young lady of color. Since the Renaissance, free Africans had married into white English families and experienced wealth and status. Though, in the colonies, enslavement still occurred during this timeless so some Africans were subjected to that great sin. (If you wish to read about Black people in the Regency then visit Vanessa Riley at https://vanessariley.com/blackpeople.php)

Dress You Up

Our Grace is dressed in a matching blue silk bodice trimmed with blue silk box-pleated trim on the square neckline and a matching blue skirt/ petticoat. A lace fichu is tucked in her bodice. Her sleeves are trimmed in two tiers of lace box-pleated trim with a small festoon trim between the two tiers with lace engageantes (ruffles or flounces of linen, cotton or lace tacked to elbow-length sleeves) Grace has donned a fine, sheer apron trimmed with a ruffled edge.

Material Girl

The final touches of Grace’s outfit are simple in design. Grace wears a cap of lace with blue silk trim band with a bow. Her jewelry are understated with cut steel earrings and a choker of pearls that match the pearl bracelet on her right wrist and two bead bracelets on her left one.

She is holding an orange blossom. The white and orange blossom is a symbol or marriage and purity, which most likely relates to her age. An orange tree is in the background. The tree were expensive in European colonies and the tree reinforces her family’s wealth.

Grace’s true identity may never be discovered but she has captured our imagination.

A Regency Princess

It’s 1811 and George III is mad and his son, George has gone from the Prince of Wales to the Prince Regent. And George did as George loved to do—he decided to throw a grand fête at Carlton House. As the invites went out, Charlotte waited for her own to appear on her table. She waited in vain. Public favor and attention couldn’t be ripped off the Prince Regent and set upon his daughter or worse, her mother. Charlotte wasn’t his daughter and heir but his rival. Yet, the people expected her attendance at the June 5 occasion. The public favored the young princess and the Prince Regent believed a glimpse of Charlotte would increase the unpopularity even more than it was. According to one lady, the Prince Regent was “avoiding everything which could look like a recognition of her as the heir presumptive to the crown.”

If she had attended, society would have seen the young Princess changed. Now, fifteen-years-old, Charlotte was described as “…grown and improved in looks.” Charlotte was described as “very graceful” as well as “forward, dogmatic on all subjects, puckish about horses, and full of exclamations very like swearing.” Even in a letter, Charlotte wrote, she described her temperament as Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility. This young lady also was very aware of her political position. She was a Whig who was “sincere, committed, and above all radical.” 

Life As Before

Sadly, for the lively Charlotte, life continued much as it had before, being watched by her father’s household spies and hidden away from the outside but for few moments of freedom. In November when she visited Oatlands and experienced her first whirlwind of society. Two balls were given and even her father was in attendance. He welcomed her with great joy and warmth then, proceeded to ignore her until she was learning the dance entitled Highland Flurry, the Prince Regent forced himself into the instruction. 

The Princess’s social world was expanding beyond her rooms. At the end of the year, the Prince Regent opened Parliament and invited his daughter. The only reason he issued the offer was because otherwise her absence would reflect badly on him. On his return to Carlton House, the crowds chanted, “Down with the Regent” while Charlotte received cheers and shouts of her name. That must have riled the narcissistic Prinny.

In February 1812, she attended the opera and with youthful enthusiasm, she waved at everyone she knew. So, people that was improper but most loved her freshness. And her open demeanor endeared her even more to the people. 

Freedom Delayed

January 1813, the Princess turned seventeen and her gift was a new governess. At this age, the proper protocol was for her to have ladies-in-waiting. When she raised her objections, her father responded with “Depend upon it, as long as I live you shall never have an establishment, unless you marry.” Her only route to freedom started at a church’s aisle. 

At least, Charlotte began to have more of a social life even attending the February 5, 1813 ball at Carlton House. She had hoped to dance with the Duke of Devonshire. She had enjoyed his company when she met him before and even got the shy duke (who was deaf so isolated himself) to “talk a great deal.” Instead, she danced with her uncles and older men but she was free of her apartments. 

While all this was happening, the nation was at war—The Peninsula War—and she was still dealing with the war between her parents. Her mother’s letter to her father was published by the Morning Chronicle, which stated the curtailment of the visits with her daughter. This letter started The Delicate Investigation. This hoopla had Charlotte all but locked away since it wouldn’t be proper for her to be seen and her social life only included events that occurred in her father or uncle’s homes or strolls or drives in her carriage. The Prince Regent even prohibited Charlotte from  sitting for a painting. 

Meanwhile, the Prince Regent was seeking to arrange a marriage between Charlotte and the Hereditary Prince of Orange. 

But love would come for the Princess. 

Charlotte Augusta: The People’s Princess

The lone child of the Prince of Wales and his utterly unwanted wife resided above her parent’s apartments in the nursery of Carlton House. When Charlotte was a year old, her mother moved out of Carlton House and to a place five miles away in Blackheath.

Charlotte, Princess Of Wales

Not that either parent could be describe as tentative yet, she saw more of her father than her mother since she lived at Carlton House, the Prince’s residence though his attendance there was spotty at best. Charlotte’s staff raised her. When she was an eight-year-girl, Charlotte left behind that place and moved into Warwick House. With this move as well, the staff that had been with her since her first days were replaced. Warwick House was east of Carlton House and nothing more than a crumbling old brick building.

Her new governess was dowager Lady de Clifford. This fifty plus woman was in charge of the “…temperamental tomboy…” The good-natured woman couldn’t discipline her effectively since the princess who may not behave as a princess yet she knew her position and used it to her benefit. Like children everywhere still do.

Nevertheless, the two ladies grew fond of each other and Lady de Clifford did all to make Charlotte’s life less lonely. She had one of her grandsons, the Honorable George Keppe befriend her, a friendship that would last through her lifetime. These two kids got up to much trouble. Later in Keppe’s life when he became the Earl of Albemarle, he wrote a memoir of their childhood. In his memoir, he shared stories which include stories of “..fisticuffs, bolting horses and tears.” He even shared the time that when Charlotte and George visited his parents at their home named Earl’s Court. She slipped through a side gate and joined in the back of the crowd that had gathered outside the house to see the princess.

Yet, it was all fun. Children especially Princess’s must be educated. That task fell to Retired Reverend Dr. John Fisher, Bishop of Exeter. The man had tutored the Duke of Kent and had a long list of court positions. “He was sincerely pious and a connoisseur of painting and drawing. But he was pompous, homourless, dogmatic, willful and absurdly old-fashioned.” The man “…still wore a wig and spoke affectedly.” That man pronounced bishop as “bishup”. At nine, Charlotte graced him with the nickname “the Great UP.”

Charlotte, described as blue-eyed and with peculiarly blonde hair with beautifully shaped hands and feet, had a great talent for acting and mimicry. So, when Lady de Clifford and the “Great Up” argued about Charlotte’s lessons, the Princess would stand behind the bishop and mock him. Lady de Clifford struggled to hold back her laughter while trying to best the man. She would stand behind him, “…jutting out her lower lip, waving her arms and generally ridiculing his expressions and mannerisms in an exaggerated mime.”

This young Princess was educated in religious studies, English, Latin, ancient history, and religious instruction as well as reading, writing, French, German, modern history, and music, dancing, drawing, and writing. For her excellent education, the young princess was much like other children. If in trouble, she wasn’t about a little lie to get out of trouble or her studies.

In 1806, Charlotte saw one of her household writing and asked her what she was doing and was told that she was making her will. The Princess declared that she would too. She left many of her belonging to various staff and her birds to a Mrs. Gagrin and her dog or dogs to Mrs. Anna Hatton, her chambermaid.

In 1809, Charlotte’s tutor was replaced because Dr. Nott, tutor to the Princess had written to Princess Caroline. And no pleading save him, the man who was an “adoptive parent” and Charlotte wrote, “If we never meet again, keep for me your regard and affection.”

Yet, she met another who would love her–the Duke of Brunswick, her uncle William. He is describe as “bluff but dignified and patient.” The loving uncle listened to Charlotte’s “lisping chatter” and never tired of hearing it. The princess loved him so that she returned home and “painted a black moustache on her face and marched up and down in military manner barking guttural expletives, which she hoped very much sounded like German swear words.” Just like her uncle.

Also came the Honorable Margaret Mercer Elphinstone, a companion and confidante for the Princess.

As she grew older, Charlotte learned that she would have to be careful in deed and word, whether written or spoken. Now fifteen, her life would change. In January 1811, the government presented the Regency Bill. On February 6, the Prince of Wales was sworn in as Prince Regent.

The Regency began.

The Man Made The Clothes: What Was Worn

The idiom goes the clothes make the man. In the 1600s that was certainly true. Through fabric, colors, and style, a person’s position in society was announced without a word.

In this installment of What Was Worn, we are continuing with Renaissance Artemisia Gentileschi’s work of art entitled Esther Before Ahasuerus.

The last installment centered around Esther’s garments and accessories. This month will focus on Ahasuerus and his rich clothing.

What Is He Wearing: A Stylish Man

This post is all about male fashion. And Ahasuerus can only be described as fashionable. This work of art was painted c.1630. During this time, male fashion was shifting. Yet, Ahasuerus clothing reveals the timeline of this era.

Let’s start at the top of this rich outfit. On his neck is an untrimmed, crisp yet soft, white ruff of accordion pleats. It was fashionable at this time period for some to be trimmed with lace as well. He is wearing a rich, green velvet doublet with a long row of small, gold buttons. The armhole is a rolled sleeve that matches the doublet. Both the fabric and color were expensive and not easy to care for. Those big sleeves are paned, leg-of-mutton sleeves of green velvet trimmed in gold with a white silk lining. Beneath his luxurious clothing would be a linen shirt to protect the outer garments from sweat.

Detail of Ahasuerus Doublet

Ahasuerus’ bottoms certainly catch the eye. He is wearing trunk hose, which are padded hose with strips of fabric or panes as they are called over a full, inner layer or lining that reach mid-thigh. The trunk hose are fastened to the doublet by ties or points (short laces or ribbons pulled through matching sets of worked eyelets) . These points are not seen in the painting. At the era, men were also wearing breeches but not our man.

Seventeenth Century Bling: The Finer Touches

The accessories of Ahasuerus clothing are minimal. He isn’t wearing jewelry but he isn’t without finishing touches. First off is his hat. A matching, green velvet hat that flops. It’s reminiscent of a beret but larger. Men had been wearing a variation of this style since the sixteenth century. Two large feathers–a gold one and a white one–that flutter to the right side. He also seems to be wearing a diadem upon that hat. The golden pyramid appearing from the fullness of the hat.

The next accessory is his wine-hued scarf trimmed in gold embroidery with green details. It seems to be a wrap around scarf and from the draping of the garment it is a satin made of silk. A fancy item that still works in this day and age.

Next on our fashionable man is the bottom half of his outfit. Those boots. When I took notice of them, I couldn’t stop thinking of Nancy Sinatra’s song, These Boots Are Made For Walking. The soft, white leather boots are calf-height with a small heel and trimmed with black, short hair fur. Perhaps, mink, squirrel and trimmed with a gold and ruby brooch in the center.

The last item are white stockings. Even in this day and age, it is a trial to keep whites bright and clean. So in the seventeenth century such a task was even harder and only the rich wore such a color. I feel for the poor laundry maid who cared for those things. Those stocking are probably constructed like modern day leggings so they are pulled up with pants and tied so they remained smooth and upright.

If you missed the last What Was Worn post centered on Artemisia Gentileschi and her work of art entitled Esther Before Ahasuerus, please click here https://trocheauthor.wordpress.com/2021/01/27/a-lady-of-talent-and-strength/

A Rotten Wedding

The Prince of Wales, George, (who would go on to be crowned George IV—son of George III—the Mad King who lost America) loved the finer things in life—fashion, art, architecture, and fine food. He spent every shilling of his allowance on his interests.


And he had a very fine allowance. The Prince received an annual allowance of 60,000 pounds from the Privy Purse and as the Duke of Cornwall (as Prince Charles is now), he received an income of 13, 000 a year from the duchy. Yet, this spoiled, indulged man was in debt for over 600,000 pounds. So, the Prince went to his daddy, the King, who he never enjoyed a good relationship with, but the king refused to pay his bills yet the Prime Minister (a title that didn’t exist at this time and was actually called the First Lord of the Treasury) promised that when the Prince married, his income would increase to 100,000 a year.


Two Princesses were put on the marital block—Princess Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, niece to the Prince’s mother, Queen Charlotte. The other was Princess Caroline of Brunswick, niece to George III.

Caroline of Brunswick


Instead of following his mother’s lead, the Prince listened to his scheming mistress, Lady Jersey, and settled upon Princess Caroline of Brunswick, who the Queen had heard many “unsavory rumors” about her.


“The Brunswicker Princess was said to be coarse and uninhibited. She was said to have had several affairs, one with an Irish officer in her father’s army, and it was known that earlier marriage negotiations had been broken off without reason.”

The Prince must not have heard these tales because he sent James Harris, Baron Malmesbury to Brunswick to escort the Princess to England. The Baron arrived on 20 November 1794. The woman presented to him shocked the man.
“It was clear from the disheveled state of her clothes that no one had helped her to dress and that no one had ever taught her how to do it herself: it was also obvious for other reasons that it was at least several days since she had washed herself.”

However, he described her as “pretty face–not expressive of softness–her figure not graceful–fine eyes-good hand–tolerable teeth but going–fair hair and light eyebrows, good bust…”

Her father, the Duke of Brunswick, informed the baron that she is no fool but that she lacks judgment.”

Princess Caroline was twenty-six years old and couldn’t be described as discreet. “She was over-familiar with everyone, and her conversation was coarse and tactless.” Poor Malmesbury spent his time there teaching the Princess the manners of a Princess and proper behavior.

On 29 December 1794, they left for England but had to head to Hanover because it was too dangerous to continue. For the next six weeks, Malmesbury lived his own version of My Fair Lady teaching Caroline how to behave like an English Princess.

Finally, on 28 March 1795, they boarded the HMS Jupiter and traveled to Gravesend, England then climbed on the royal yacht, Augusta, and sailed to Greenwich, landing on Easter Sunday. No one was there to meet her so she was taken to St. James Palace and remained until her wedding day.

Then came the meeting between the couple. Caroline waved at the crowds from an open window, the Prince of Wales entered.

Malmesbury wrote in his diary. “She very properly, in consequence of my saying it to her it was the right mode of proceeding, attempted to kneel to him. He raised her (gracefully enough), and embraced her, said barely one word, turned round, retired to a distant part of the apartment, and calling me to him, said ‘Harris, I am not well; pray get a glass of brandy.’ I said, ‘Sir, had you not better have a glass of water?’—upon which he much out of humor, said with an oath, ‘No; I will go directly to the Queen,’ and away he went…”

Well, Princess Caroline wasn’t a meek miss. She gaped and said, “My God! Is the Prince always like that?” And even added what many thought, “I think he is very fat, and nothing like as handsome as his portrait.”
That night, the couple dined together. It did nothing to improve their relationship. Caroline still hurt by the Prince’s treatment of her was sarcastic and made it known that she knew of the Prince’s relationship with her lady-in-waiting, Lady Jersey. Malmesbury wrote “The Prince was disgusted and this unfortunate dinner fixed his dislike.

Three days later, Caroline was at the altar of the Chapel Royal dressed in a gown chosen by the queen. An old-fashioned confection of huge hoops, broad ribbons, and big bows wrapped around the outside.

The prince ambled his drunk self to the altar, thanks to the literal support of the Dukes of Bedford and Roxburghe. According to Caroline, now the Princess of Wales, her husband passed the greatest part of his bridal night under the grate, where he fell, and where I left him.”

The marriage didn’t improve. Caroline tried to please him but she was dirty and smelled and the Prince voice his displeasure so Caroline just repeated whatever action or word that had displeased him. After three weeks, the couple was living separately. Caroline on the ground floor of Carlton House and the Prince in his luxurious apartment above his wife’s.

Yet, one day short of their ninth month anniversary on 7 January 1796, Princess Charlotte was born into this dysfunctional famil

A Lady of Talent and Strength

During my education, I took many Art History classes. I learned about the old masters—Dutch, English, Spanish, and Italian. Yet, I never learned about my favorite artist. Artemisia Gentileschi.

I first learned about this female baroque Italian artist from a historical fiction novel entitled, The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland. After reading this book, I had to learn more about this woman and her art. That is why the next two months Historical Costume posts center on this grand dame

Artemisia Lomi Gentileschi was born on July 8, 1593 in Rome. She was the eldest child of Prudenzia di Ottaviano Montoni and Tuscan painter, Orazio Gentileschi. In 1605, her mother died and she began painting in her father’s workshop. In those times, an artist learned by apprenticing with an artist. Artemisia showed talent and love for art that her siblings lacked. There she learned drawing, how to mix color, and how to paint.

By her later teenage years, she showed great talent and her father proclaimed she had no peer. 

She took after her father’s style which was inspired by Caravaggio. Yet, this great talent had a style of her own. She was highly naturalistic. 

In 1611, her father was working with Agostino Tassi to decorate the vaults of Casino delle Muse located inside the Palazzo Pallavicini-Rospigliosi in Rome. In May of that year, Tassi visited the household where he raped Artemisia. In those days, a rape survivor had to marry her rapist to restore (I write that with a sneer, snort, and great derision) her reputation and secure her reputation. Her father pressed charges against Tassi but not for the rape but his failure to marry Artemisia. 

The trial lasted seven months. During the trial, Artemisia was tortured to discover if she was lying. Thumbscrews were used on her hands, which could have destroyed her artist life. During the torture, it is recorded that she cried out repeatedly, “It’s true. It’s true.”

Tassi was found guilty and banished from Rome, a sentence that was never carried out thanks to the pope who wanted him to stay so he could continue creating art for him. 

During this time, her father was trying to save his daughter from ruin. He wrote to the Grand Duchess of Tuscany pleading for her to intervene in the trial. He also found a husband for his daughter. 

On November 29, 1612, Artemisia married a Florentine named Pierantonio di Vincenzo Stiattesi in Rome. Soon after her marriage, she and her husband departed for Florence where with the Grand Duchess’s—Christina of Lorraine— support she found a place in the Medici court and thrived as a court painter. In 1613, on September 21, Artemisia gave birth to her first child, a son named Giovanni Battista. During her seven years in Florence, Artemisia produced great works of art that I encourage you to seek out as well as three more children. On November 9, 1615, she gave birth to her second son Cristofano and on August 2, 1617, her daughter, Prudenza, was born and October 13, 1618, her last child, Lisabella, made her appearance. Sadly, Lisabella died less than a year later.

Artemisia continued to create art and sold to the great collectors of the time period throughout Europe. And her works brought much recognition. Artemisia was the first woman to be accepted in the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno on July 19, 1616.

Yet, she did not remain in Florence. In 1621, Artemisia and her family returned to Rome where she continued to paint. In 1623, her husband leaves and she lost all contact with the man. 

Her works were so in demand that she traveled to Venice, Naples and even joined her father in England and Charles I’s court. She departed England as the English Civil War began. She continued to paint even to an old age. It is believed she died around 1656.

Esther Before Ahasuerus By Artemisia Gentileschi c.1630

This month’s work of art is entitled Esther Before Ahasuerus. For this month’s Historical Costume post, I will be focusing on the female named Esther or the Queen’s outfit. Next month, I will be breaking down the king’s garments.

Esther Before Ahasuerus is dated to 1630 and the garments confirm that date. The style of the sixteenth century changed at this time from the decades before this time.

Esther’s garment is soft and shimmering satins (made of silk) of the luxurious golden yellow or a bright mustard yellow. The robin’s blue egg sash is of the same material and reflects the light on our fainting figure. The upper half of the sleeves, which are called Virago Sleeves are the same yellow satin of the dress. The lower half of the sleeves are damask and embroidered with gold flower and leaf pattern. Lace peeks out at the end of the sleeves and along the bodice. She’s donned a bejeweled belt and with a jeweled- brooches pinned at the virago sleeve. 

Beneath this striking gown, Esther must be wearing a chemise made of linen and corset that is shorter than the bodice, that are a looser design than the style of the previous decade’s stiff style that ended lower on the waist. The gown’s natural bodice is high waisted and styled with a jeweled belt. The undergarments that gave the previous decades that wide-hipped, stiff look has vanished. The soft and natural look is all the rage. Yet, women are donning a padded roll or the French Farthingale so the skirt, now closed all around, has a rounded, soft shape that falls at folds to the ground. According to my research, the garment called an unfitted gown. An unfitted gown’s silhouette is loose and with long hanging sleeves, which brush against the floor. (Bottom left of the painting). The bodice has a low square neckline with white lace trim. 

Naturally, the rest of the look changed. Esther’s hair is curled and wavy hair in a style and most likely, uncovered as was fashionable during this era. She wears a gold crown with spikes. 

I encourage you to research the tale behind Esther Before Ahasuerus to learn the story behind this great work of art. 

Bright and Dark Tudor Times

In May 1499, months after the birth of the Tudor’s sixth child, Prince Arthur married by proxy Katherine of Aragon, Infanta to King and Queen of Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella. Henry, now, had his connection to the powerful Spanish nation. Katherine would arrive in England when she reached fourteen in December along with ladies who were beautiful in order to make “English” connections.

Those connections were endangered with the arrival of another pretender appeared on the scene and though, Henry took care of him quickly, the Spanish King and Queen’s faith on Henry’s hold on the English throne. Especially since there was a very true threat to Henry’s crown, that threat was the Earl of Warwick.

Henry had to rid himself of the claimant to the throne, one who had a better claim than Henry since he was the son of the Duke of Clarence (brother to Edward IV and uncle to Elizabeth of York). Alison Weir writes in Elizabeth of York, “the likelihood is that Ferdinand warned Henry VII that while Warwick lived, the Infanta would not be coming to England.”

How was Henry to accomplish this when Warwick committed no crime and was locked up in the Tower of London? But Henry needed the Spanish alliance and wasn’t the king the law? He just had to find a way.

Robert Cleymound met with Lord Warwick in his cell and plotted to “fire and seize the Tower, thus facilitating his escape to Flanders, whence he would make war upon Henry VII.” Then contact was made with Warbeck who was locked in the Tower and just below Warwick’s own cell. The plot was that Warbeck and Warwick would escape from the tower and Warbeck was told that Warwick would make him king whereas Warwick was told he would be king. But Cleymound claimed Warbeck informed the king of the plot.

Warwick was tried on November 19 in Westminster Hall. He plead guilty perhaps because he did not understand since he was considered simple-minded (as his contemporaries called him). He was sentenced to a traitor’s death.

On November 29, Warwick was beheaded on Tower Hill. He was twenty-four years old. He was buried in Bisham Priory beside his grandfather, Warwick the Kingmaker. Years later, Katherine was said to say, that her marriage to Prince Arthur had been made in blood.

After the executions, Henry fell ill and recovered by the middle of December. That same year, the plague so to over the pandemic the King and Queen traveled to Calais. This was the first and last time Elizabeth had traveled abroad. While in English-held territory in France, Elizabeth and Henry met with the Archduke Phillip and his Archduchess Juana of Castile, sister to Katherine of Aragon. Forty days after departing England, Elizabeth and Henry returned to the realm.

Upon the arrival at Greenwich, they received distressing news. Prince Andrew’s health was a concern yet the worse was the death of their infant son Prince Edmund at fifteen months. The baby prince was given a state funeral, provisions which Henry VII had laid down.

During this time, Katherine departed Spain. She arrived in England on October 2, 1501. Prince Arthur and the King traveled to with the future Queen of England.

Preparations for the marriage began. On November 9, Katherine met Prince Henry. Then on the 12th, Katherine entered the city of London to bells ringing, banners fluttering about and crowded streets where music played and wine ran free. The next day, Elizabeth met her future daughter-in-law. “During her audience, she and Elizabeth both spoke in Latin, and they enjoyed ‘pleasant and goodly communication, dancing, and disports. Thus, with honor and mirth, this Saturday was expired and done,’ and it was late when Katherine departed for Lambeth Palace to make ready for her wedding day.”

On November 14, 1501, Arthur and Katherine were married in St. Paul’s Cathedral. Their wedding night would play an importance years later when Henry VIII sought a divorce.

The young royal couple departed for Ludlow Castle on December 21, 1501. That royal marriage wasn’t the only one being arranged. In January 1502, Henry arranged a treaty of marriage with James IV of Scotland. His daughter, Margaret would become Queen of Scots but would not travel across the border until September 1503.

The good cheer of the wedding wouldn’t last. In February, Prince Arthur sickened. And another threat reared up. Henry dealt with the menace but the King’s power meant nothing with his son’s health. Prayers were said, pilgrimage was made by two priests Elizabeth hired, and offers were given to the church.

Arthur’s health improved enough that he was well enough to wash the feet of fifteen men on Maundy Thursday on March 24.

Four days into April, the worse happened. Arthur, Prince of Wales and future King, died. The fifteen-year-old was buried at Worcester and not Westminster Abbey. According to Weir, it has been suggested that Arthur died of something contagious since his body had to be buried as swiftly as possible.

Alison Weir says of forty-five-year-old Henry’s reaction, “‘When the King understood these sorrowful, heavy tidings, he sent for the Queen, saying that he and his wife would take their powerful sorrow together.’ Thus it was the Elizabeth heard the shattering news every parent dreads to hear, that her child was dead in the flower of his youth.”

Elizabeth reacted as any mother would. She collapsed. Henry rushed to her and comforted her. Her son’s death impacted her health. There are reports of the Queen’s health taking a turn for the worse.

Katherine, widow of Arthur afterward stayed with the King and Queen then went on to reside at Croydon Palace. The young Prince Henry Tudor was now being groomed as the heir to the English and Irish throne. But that’s another story.

Dressed in her mourning attire that Henry set down in his ordinances, the royal couple decided they were still capable of bearing more children. Elizabeth and Henry had always lived together. She accompanied him on his journeys yet on 1502 Elizabeth departed from Windsor and Henry’s side. By the end of September, Henry reunited with his wife.

Royal duties resumed but Elizabeth was with child again. She wasn’t due until February and preparations being made for her confinement.

Elizabeth, meanwhile, celebrated the Christmas season. Meanwhile, Henry was consumed with the construction of the new Lady Chapel. In January 1503, Elizabeth came by river to Westminster to reunite with the King. They, then, traveled onto the Tower.

On February 2, 1503, Elizabeth was still at the Tower (her father’s favorite residence) when the baby arrived ten days early. After the difficult birth, the daughter was christened Katherine on the Saturday after her birth at the parish church of the Tower.

That same time, Elizabeth fell ill. She worsened swiftly. The king sent a man for the physician and paid a boatman to wait for the doctor along with horses and guides to get him to the queen’s side through the dark night.

Elizabeth of York–the Bloom of the House of York–died in the early morning of Saturday, February 11. Her thirty-seventh birthday. Henry was at her side along with priests for last rites and her attendants and servants.

Henry was heartbroken. He traveled to Richmond to mourn his wife alone. For six weeks he was so low with grief that he sickened and was said near death. Tradition decreed that he would not attend her funeral. He ordered a new velvet cloth of estate of blue, the color of royal mourning. Books were bound in this fabric and mourning attire in black and blue. He slowly came out of mourning ten months later. He also abandoned the Tower, which led to the decline as a royal residence. Future royals only stay there for their coronations as tradition had set.

Elizabeth of York Funeral Effigy

In London, six-hundred and six masses were offered by the king and fifty-six pounds of wax candles burned at Walsingham for the monks while they prayed for her.

Henry now the lone king became even more of a miser than he was before along with being suspicious and harsh since Elizabeth’s influence was now absent. He never married again.

Henry VII died on April 21, 1509 at Richmond Palace of tuberculosis.

Yet the blood of Elizabeth flowed through Stuart monarchs, Hanoverians monarch and the House of Windsor and her namesake, Queen Elizabeth II, her sixteenth generation descendant.