Thursday, September 10, 2015

Queen Elizabeth I - New Year's Gifts 1581-1582



1580 Queen Elizabeth I 1533-1603 Unknown Artist after Zuccarro

An explanation of these lists appeared on the Museum of London blog.  Thought I would share it here to give a background on these amazing lists.

In Elizabethan London, New Year’s Day was the big time to give and receive gifts, particularly at court. The tradition appears to date back to at least the 13th century but under Queen Elizabeth I it reached new heights in terms of the extravagance and range of the gifts given.

Courtiers and members of the Queen’s household were expected to present her with gifts. As can be imagined competition to impress the Queen was fierce and there must have been immense pressure to come up with gifts that were valuable enough (many resorted to giving money, usually gold coins, in extravagant silk purses) or useful (she received many perfumed gloves and gold-trimmed hankies) or just intriguing.


In the latter category are many animal jewels, such as an emerald, diamond and ruby serpent with a pendant pearl, given in 1581 by the Countess of Oxford or a golden cat playing with mice and again decorated with diamonds and pearls given the same year by Lady Howard. One can imagine the emerald and diamond salamander or the pearl ship pin from the Cheapside Hoard being equally acceptable New Year’s gifts. The Queen loved puns and many of these jewels would have held hidden meanings and witty jokes for her amusement.


A number of rolls or lists detailing the gifts she received for New Year still survive and give a fascinating glimpse of life in the Elizabethan court. Many of the queen’s admirers liked to give her a gift which would remind her of themselves. Sir Christopher Hatton, whose portrait is on display in the Cheapside Hoard exhibition, on loan from the National Portrait Gallery, frequently used a knot motif and so in around 1585 he gave Elizabeth a headdress, decorated with expensive golden knots. In 1574 the fan that the Earl of Leicester gave her was decorated with bears, part of his device. Others gave gifts that they hoped would get them noticed and some of these were rather fabulous. For example, on New Year’s Day 1581 Sir Walter Raleigh presented Elizabeth with a crown set with Peruvian emeralds which he had captured in a raid on the Spanish fleet the previous year. However, the rolls show that she also received plainer gifts such as a quince pie from John Betts, who was a pastry servant, or a box of lute strings or eighteen larks in a cage.


In return the Queen would give gifts too, and whilst these were sometimes generous in the extreme, more often than not they were of a lower value than those she received. Often she would give an image of herself, such as the cameo portrait of the Queen which Hatton is shown holding in his portrait. A similar, though smaller cameo can be seen on display as part of the Cheapside Hoard. But if you wanted to impress the Queen it seems to have been much more a case of five gold rings rather than a partridge in a pear tree!


New Year's Gifts for Queen Elizabeth: 1581-1582

Anno 24° Regin√¶ Elizabeth√¶, 1581-2

Juells given to Her Majestie at Newyere’s-tyde.

First, a shackyll of golde with these words graven, serviet eternum dvlcis quem torqvet eliza. And a paddlock of golde hanging by a little cheyne of golde. Geven by Mounseur. 6 oz. dim. qa.
Item, more, one flower of golde, with a white rose and a butterflye, with other flowers garnished with little sparcks of dyamonds and rubyes, and a smale saphire. Geven also by Mounseur.
Item, more, a flower of golde, garnished with sparks of rubyes and diamonds, and a hynde sitting on it with two lytle perles pendante. Geven also by Mounseur.
Item, more, a juell being a shipp of golde garnished with six fayre dyamondes, and other smale dyamondes and rubyes, the sayles spredd abrode, with a word enamuled on them. Geven also by Mounseur.
Item, a litle boke of golde enamuled, garnished and furnished with smale diamondes and rubyes, both claspes, and all hanging at a chayne of golde, viz. six peces of golde enamuled, two of them garnisehd with raged staves of smale sparcks of diamondes, and four of them in eche, two smale diamonds and two smale sparcks of rubyes, 16 lesser peeces of golde, in every of them a smale diamonde, and also 24 peeces of golde, in every of them four perles iwth a ring of golde to hang it by. All geven by therle of Leycetor, Master of the Horse.
Item, a payre of braceletts of golde, containing eight peeces, in every of them an amatest, and eight other peeces, in every of them a perle. Geven by therle of Arondell.
Item, a bodkyn of golde, garnished at the ende with four smale diamondes and a smale rubye, with a crown of ophales, and very smale perle pendante peare fashione. Geven by therle of Hertforde.
Item, a juell of golde, being a serpent, having two emeraldes, and the rest garnished with sparcks of dyamonds and rubyes, and a smale perle pendant. Geven by the Countes of Oxforde.
Item, a knife, and a spone, and a forke of christall, garnished with golde sleightley, and sparkcs of garnetts. Geven by the Countes of Lyncolne.
Item, a chaine of golde, with pillors and pomaunders, garnished with smale perles, in 36 of them are 10 raged perles in a peece, and 12 pomaunders, garnished with seede perles, and 48 other peeces of golde betwixt them. Geven by the Lord Howarde; all together, 13 oz.
Item, a juell of golde, being the personage of a woman, having a rubye in her belly, and the rest garnished with smale rubyes and dyamondes, and a smale perle pendant. Gevne by L. Thomas Howarde.
Item, a payre of braceletts of golde, containing 22 peeces; in tenn of them are agath hedds, and 12 of them garnet, and two smale perles in a peece. Geven by the Lady Barones Burley.
Item, a juell of golde, being a catt, and myce playing with her, garnished with smale dyamondes and perle. Geven by the Lady Howarde.
Item, seven dosen buttons of golde, two lacking; in one of them a smale perle, and in other a smale emeralde. Geven by the Lady Barones Cheynye.
Item, a juell of golde, being an armlet, with a buckyll and pendant of golde, garnihed and furnished with dyamondes and rubyes, six peeces of golde enamuled, fully furnished with smale rubyes; betwixt every of the same peeces 80 meane perle hanging unto the smae peeces and perle, 13 pendants of golde garnished with smale rubyes and smale diamondes; thone pendant is a flower of very smale urbyes, and thother of very smale diamondes, one perle broken off. And more, 144 buttons of golde, pescodd fashion, halfe part enamuled greene. Geven by Sir Christofer Hatton, Vice-chamberlayne.
Item, a payre of braceletts of golde, contayning 16 peces enamuled; in eight of them are two smale sparcks of diamonds and smale rubyes, and in the other eight are four perles in a pece. Geven by Sir Francis Walsingham, Secretarye.
Item, a juell of golde, sett with a greate white stone in it, cut losenged, and bordered rownde with smale rubyes and diamonds, with a pendaunte cut lyke a marmyzat. Geven by Sir Thomas Henage, Treasuror of the Chamber.
Item, a juell of golde, being a pomaunder, garnished with sparcks of diamonds, rubyes, and perles. Geven by Sir William Druery.
Item, two serpents of gold knytt together, with three very smale perles hanging at it. Geven by Sir Henry Lee.
Item, a flower of golde, garnished with sparcks of diamonds, rubyes, and ophales, with an agathe of her Majesties phisnamy and a perle pendante, with devices painted in it. Geven by Eight Maskers in Christmas-weeke.
Item, more, an anker of golde, garnished with sparcks of dyamondes, and a woman lying on it. Geven by the said Maskers.
Item, a cage of golde, with a hope in it. Geven by Sir Henry Cobham.
Item, abooke of golde namuled, garnished with eight amatestes. Geven by Mr. Packington.
Item, a forcke of corrall, garnished slightly with golde. Geven by Mrs. Frances Drury.
Juells geven to her Majestie at other times than New-yere’s Gifts.
First, one greene frogg, the backe of emeraldes, smale and greate, and a pendaunte emeralde, with a smale cheyne of golde to hang by. Geven by the Counties of Huntington.
Item, one shilde of agathe, garnished with golde, with 13 smale sparcks of diamonds, and a pendaunte with four smale sparks of diamonds on the one side, and on the other side of the shilde seven smale white roses with sparcks of rubyes, on the pendaunte one smale sparke of rubye. Geven by therle of Hertforde.
Item, one gauntlet of golde, garnished with smale seede perles, and sparcks of dimounds, Geven by Sir Thomas Parrat. More, two bodkynnes and two eyes, garnished with smale sparks of rubyes and dimoundes, one broken. Geven by the said Sir Thomas Parrat.
Item, one bodkin of golde skutchion-wise, garnished with smale sparcks of rubyes and dimounds. Geven by Sir Thomas Knevet, of the Pryvie Chamber.
Item, a juell of golde, garnished with smale sparcks of dimonds and a litle paire of ballance in it being broken. No reporte made who gave the same.


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