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Thomas Gray to Horace Walpole, 3 March 1754

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You are to dispatch forthwith an Express to Angers to fetch the windows of St Bonaventure's Chappel in the Church of the Cordeliers there; in them are painted Margaret of Anjou herself kneeling; her Mother Isabella, Dutchess of Lorraine, first Wife of René, K: of Sicily; Joan de la Val, his second wife; Yolande, his eldest daughter, also D:ss of Lorraine; & John, Duke of Calabria, his eldest Son. these are not mobbled Queens upon a tomb, but fair & flourishing figures with entire faces: the hair of the four Women is dishevel'd below their girdle, wch one would think was a fashion peculiar to them, for no other cotemporary Lady have I ever seen, that did not wear hers trussed up & plaited, or quite hid. to stay your stomach till the return of the Courier, you may see them all in Montfaucon's Antiquities, (Tom: 3. Plates 47, & 63.) I think you have the Book, & pray observe, if the Mother does not resemble that figure in the Picture with the large sleeves & hair at length on the foreground. now for the time, place, & circumstances of the marriage, here begins Wyllyam Wyrcester (p. 462.) 'A:D: 1444, & anno Regis Hen: 6ti 23°, Rex accepit in uxorem dominam juvenem, filiam Regis Neapolis, Ceciliæ, & Jerusalem, quæ desponsata erat in abbaciâ de Tycchefield in Comitatu Suthampton .. A:D: 1445. Coronacio uxoris Henr: 6ti apud Westmonast:m 30mo Maii.' next comes Mr Alderman Fabian. 'A:D: 1444. the Marquess of Suffolke soon after with his wyfe & other honourable Personages as well of men as of women with great Apparayll of chayris and other costious ordenaunce for to convey the forenamed Lady Margerete into Englande sayled into Fraunce, & so tarryed there all this Mayres year .. A:D: 1445.

This 23d Year (of Henry 6th) & monthe of ... the foresayd Lady Margerete came over into Englande, & in the monthe of ... following she was maryed at a towne called Southwyke in the countre of Hamshyre, and from thence she was convey'd by the Lordes & Estates of this Lande, wch mette with her in sundry places with great retynewe of men in sundry Lyveryes with their slevys browderyd & some betyn with goldsmythe's werkes in most costly maner, & specyally (of) the D: of Glouceter mette with her with 500 Men in one lyverye, & so was convey'd unto Blackhethe, where upon the 18th of Maye she was mette with the Mayer, Ald:n & Sheryffes of the Citie & the Craftes of the same in Browne blew with brawderyd slevys, that is to meane, every maister or crafte with the conysaunce of his maister (read, mystery) & red hoodes upon eyther of their heddes, and so the same day brought her unto London, where for her were ordeyned sumptuous & costly Pagentes & resemblaunce of dyverse old hystories to the great comfort of her & such as came with her – & so with great triumphe she was brought unto Westminstre, where upon the 30th of May, the day after Trinitie Sonday she was solemply crowned.' (fol: 199.) As to Grafton, Hall, Speed, Hollingshed, & other Chroniclers of Q: Eliz:s time I transcribe nothing from them, because they add nothing new to Fabian's account, indeed only copy him, or one another: Stow only, as he is more particular, I shall make use of. 'This noble Company (Ld Suffolk, & others not named) came to the City of Towers in Touraine, where they were honourably received & entertain'd both of the 'French King & Duke Reiner, where the Marquess of Suffolke, as Procurator to K: Henry, espoused the said Lady in the Church of St Martin. at wch marriage were present the Father & Mother of the Bride, the French King who was Uncle to Duke Reiner, & the French Queen Aunt to the Dutchess his Wife. also the Dukes of Orleans, of Calabre, of Alanson & of Brytaine, 7 Earls, 12 Barons, 20 Bishops, besides Knights & Gentlemen, when the feast, triumphs, banquets, & justs were ended, the Lady was deliver'd to ye Marquess of Suffolk, wch in great estate conveied her thorow Normandy unto Diepe, where awhile they remained. the Lady, being transported from Diepe, landed at Portchester, from whence she was conveyed by water to Hampton, & rested there in a place call'd Gods-House; from thence she went to Southwicke, & was married to the King in the Abbey of Tichfield on the 22d of April &c:'

Now you are to determine whether the Picture represent the marriage at Tours, (wch may be; & yet Henry 6th may be introduced, tho' not there in person). this must be the case, if one of those women be the Queen of Sicily, for neither she, nor any of the family accompanied Margaret to England. they took leave of her at Bar-le-Duc with abundance of tears, & at Rouen she was consign'd to her English attendants, who made their entry with great pomp into that city. I can tell you exactly, who they were, & what they did there. shall I? if it is nothing to your purpose, you may pass it over.

'Le Roy Henry envoya plusieurs Seigneurs & Dames de son pays au dit lieu de Rouën fort hautement & richement habilléz, c'est a scavoir le Duc d'Jorcq, le Comte de Suffort, le Seigneur de Tallebot, le Marquis de Susalby, (Salisbury) le Seigneur de Clif (Ld Clifford) le Baron de Gruisot, Messires Jamet d'Ormont, Jean Bolledit, Guil: Bonnechille, Rich: Rios, Jean Secalay, Ed: Hoult, Rob: de Willeby, Rob: de Harcourt, & plusieurs autres Chevaliers & Ecuyers de grand etat. au regard des Dames y estoient la Comtesse de Suffort, la Dame de Talbot, la Dame de Salsebery, la Dame Marguerite Hoult, & autres en grand nombre. il y avoit aussi des chariots couverts & plusieurs haquenées houssées de si riches habillemens, que peu avoient eté veus de pareils, venans du susdit royaume d'Angleterre; sur tout a leur entrée de Rouën, ou ils pouvoient bien etre 1500 chevaux. or faut il declarer la maniere comment les Seign:rs & Dames devant dits & leurs gens entrerent en bel ordre en ladite ville. premierement pour l'Estat de la Reyne y estoient les premiers entrans les dessus nommez (here he names all the Men again, but the 3 first) & avec eux Messire Huy Coquesin, lesquels tous en leur compagnie avoient quelque 400 Archers pour l'estat de la maison d'icelle Reyne, tous vestus d'une meme parure de gris. aprés lesquels suivoient les Ecuyers & Officiers d'icelui Estat; & outre ce il y avoit avec les dessusdits 200 Archers de la grande Garde du Roi d'Angleterre, portans ses couleurs & livrées, c'est a scavoir, sur chacune de leurs manches une couronne d'or, lesquels estoient trés richement habillez: aprés les Chevaliers dessusdits venoient 6 Pages montéz sur six haquenées, richement vestus de robes & de chaperons noirs, chargez d'orfevrerie d'argent doré, qui estoient tous fils de Chevaliers; & menoit le premier Page par la main une haquenée de son costé dextre, que ledit Roy d'Anglet:e envoyoit a la Reyne sa femme, ornée d'une selle & de paremens, tels que le tout en estoit de fin or, & les paremens des autres haquenées estoient tous d'argent doré. aprés suivoit le chariot, que le dit Roy lui envoyoit, lequel estoit le plus richement orné & paré que depuis trés long tems il n'en estoit party du Royaume d'Ang:re un pareil; car il estoit couvert d'un trés riche drap d'or, & armoyé des armes de France & d'Angleterre: lequel chariot estoit tiré par 6 chevaux blancs de grand prix, & estoit icelui chariot figuré par dedans & dehors de plusieurs & diverses couleurs, dans lequel estoient la Comtesse de Suffort, les Dames de Talbot, & de Salsebery, & estoit ladite Comtesse en l'estat de la Reyne pareil au jour qu'elle espousa. les autres dames ensuivans de degré en degré venoient aprés ce chariot montées sur haquenées. au plus prés d'icelui chariot estoit le Duc d'Jorcq d'un costé, & le Sgr de Talbot de l'autre, tenant maniere et contenance, comme si la Reyne eust eté dedans. le Comte de Suffort alloit chevauchant devant le chariot representant la personne du Roy d'Ang:rre, & aprés luy il y avoit 36 tant chevaux qu'haquenées de grand parage tous housséz de vermeil armoyé de ses armes. aprés icelui chariot il y avoit encore 5 chevaux richement ornéz, dont 2 estoient couverts de velours vermeil battu à or, seméz de roses d'or dedans, & les autres estoient couverts de drap de damas cramoisy. aprés tout ce que dit est, venoit encore un chariot richement orné, dedans lequel estoient la Dame de Talbot la jeune, la Dame Marg:e Hoult, & autres, lesquelles estoient toutes ordonnées & destinées pour recevoir icelle nouvelle Reyne d'Angleterre.' (Matth:u de Coucy; a Cotemp:ry p. 553).

Out of these, if the Scene of the Picture lies in England, you may pick & chuse; for it is likely they all waited upon her to Southwick. I am sorry Duke Humphrey could not be there, but you see he did not meet her till after the marriage in her way to London. much less could his Wife Jaqueline appear, as that marriage was set aside 18 years before: indeed his Dutchess Eleanor Cobham was now in prison, & had been so (in spite of Shakespear ) 3 or 4 years, before Margaret came over. the Cardinal Beaufort, then at least 70 years old, one would think should have the honour of joining their hands, especially in his own Diocese; but I recollect no marks of a Cardinal, & what I take for the Pallium, wch he holds over their hands, is (I believe) peculiar to Archbishops: so it may be John Stafford, Archb:p of Canterbury, who certainly crown'd her the next month. I could tell you many small particulars, as the name of the Ship she came over in, wch was Coq Johan de Charburgh; Thomas Adams, Master. the Ring she was married with, wch was a fair Ruby, sometime yeven unto us (says the King) by our bel Oncle the Cardinal of Englande, with the wch we were sacred in the day of our Coronacion at Parys, & wch was broke, thereof to make another ring for the Quene's wedding. the Jewels he gave for New-year's gifts before the marriage to the D: of Gloucester, the Cardinal, the D: of Exeter, the Archbishop, Dutchess of Buckingham, Earl of Warwick, &c: the George he wore himself, wch cost 2000 Marks; the Puson of Golde, call'd Iklyngton Coler, garnish'd with 4 Rubees, 4 greet Saphurs, 32 greet Perles & 53 other Perles; & the Pectoral of Golde garnished with rubees, perles & diamondes; & also the greet Owche garnished with diamondes, rubees & perles, that cost 2000 Marcs, wch the Quene wore at the solempnitee of hir Coronation. if these suit your palate, you may see them all, & many other curious Papers, in Rymer's Fœdera, V: 11. some dated from the Priory of Southwyk, & witness'd by the Marquess of Suffolk, the Tresorer of Englande (wch was Sr Ralph Boteler, Ld Sudeley,) & the Privy-Seal (Adam Moleyns, Dean of Salisbury, afterwards Bishop of Chichester, & murther'd by the Mob at Southampton).

Now I shall set down the ages of the parties concern'd. the King was barely 23 years old. (what shall we do with this stubborn date?) the Queen was in her 15th Year. her mother Isabella was probably about 35. René, her father, was 36. (see his picture, when old; done by himself, in Montfaucon). Mary, Q: of France, her aunt, was 40 (see her, ibid: with a very odd face, an odder Coif, & high, but not pointed bonnet, from an original) Charles the 7th of France was 41. (see him in the same plate). John, her brother, D: of Calabria, was about 19. Yolande, her Sister, was not a year older than herself.

There is so particular a description of the dresses in use about the middle of the 15th Century extant, that (long as it is) I must send it you. 'En ceste année delaisserent les dames & damoiselles les queues a porter a leurs robes: & en ce lieu meirent bordures a leurs robbes de gris de lestices, de martres, de veloux & d'autres choses si larges, comme d'un veloux de haut ou plus. & si meirent sur leurs tetes bourrelets a maniere de bonnet rond, qui s'amenuisoient par dessus de la hauteur de demie aulne, ou de trois quartiers de long tels y avoit: & aucunes les portoient moindres, & deliez couvrechess par dessus pendans par derriere jusques a terre, les aucuns & les autres: & prindrent aussi a porter leurs ceintures de soye plus larges beaucoup qu'elles n'avoient accoutumé & de diverses façons; & les ferrures plus somptueuses assez, & coliers d'or a leurs cols autrement & plus cointement beaucoup qu'elles n'avoient accoutumé. et en ce temps aussi les hommes se prindrent a vestir plus court, qu'ils n'eurent onques fait; tellement que l'on veoit la façon de leurs culs & de leurs genitoires, ainsi comme l'en souloit vestir les singes, qui estoit chose tres malhonnête & impudique. & si faisoient les manches fendre de leurs robbes & de leurs pourpoints pour monstrer leurs chemises deliées, larges, & blanches. portoient aussi leurs cheveux si longs, qu'ils leur empêchoient leurs visages, mesmement leurs yeux. & sur leurs testes portoient bonnets de drap hauts & longs d'un quartier ou plus. portoient aussi, comme tous indifferemment, chaines d'or moult somptueuses chevaliers & escuyers: les varlets mêmes, pourpoints de soye, de satin & de veloux. et presque tous, especiallement és cours des Princes, portoient poulaines a leurs soulliers d'un quartier de long; et á leurs pourpoints gros mahoitres á leurs espaules pour monstrer, qu'ils fussent larges par les espaules; qui sont choses moult vaines, & par adventure fort haineuses a Dieu. & qui estoit huy court vestu, il estoit le lendemain long vestu jusques a terre.'

(Monstrelet. V: 3. aprés P: 130).

The Date he assigns to these new fashions is 1467. yet it is sure the sugar-loaf caps, the long close Hose, & long-pointed shoes, are seen in paintings a good while before. as in Montfaucon, (V: 3. Plate 46.) where one of the Lords has a Hawk on his fist, marque d'une grande qualité dans ces tems lá. Charles the 6th used to go to Council, l'epervier sur le poing. (ibid: p. 189.) Mary, the Heiress of Burgundy, is the last Lady with a high Cap that I meet with. she died 1481, & from what I recollect of the dresses in your picture, they are all older than that date, for about this time very different fashions came in. I even believe it was painted soon after 1445, & the Glory about the King's head might be added afterwards; tho' Jo: Blackman, a Carthusian, who has wrote a short account, as an eye-witness, of Henry 6th's private Life, treats him already as a sort of Saint. the Pomegranates are only a fashionable Pattern for Embroidery & Brocades about that time. Philip, D: of Burgundy made his entry into Ghent in such a robe, & Charles the 7th into Paris (V: 3. Pl: 39, & 45.) &c:

This is what I have yet met with to your purpose at all, tho' perhaps little to your satisfaction, with regard to that picture. now for the other, I must tell you my disappointment, wch has been the reason why I have made you & the world wait so long for this first volume of my Antiquities. a Senior-Fellow of Trinity, I was told, had got a Mss, in wch were painted Henry 7th, & many of his court: he was absent, & I have stayed with impatience for a sight of it: I have now met with him, but the painting is at his living in Cheshire. it is not a Mss, but a Roll of Vellom, as long as the Room (he says) in wch are represented that King and all his Lords going to Parliament. this must be a great curiosity, but we are not like to be the better for it. another disappointment! in reading Thomas of Otterbourne's Chronicle I found mention of a Sainte-Ampoule kept in Westm:r Abbey. he speaks of Henry 4th's being inunctus sancto oleo, quod S: Thomæ martyri dedit beatiss:a Virgo Maria in exilio ejus. this seem'd to account for S: Thomas' attending Elizabeth of York as the future anointed Queen of England. but alas! on second thoughts these words must mean S: Thomas Becket.

Immediately after the Battle of Bosworth, Aug: 22, 1485, the King sent Sr Rob: Willoughby to the Castle of Sheriff-Hutton in Yorkshire with orders to conduct the Princess Eliz:th to her Mother at London. he himself enter'd the City 5 days after; was crown'd, Oct: 30, by Cardl Tho: Bourchier, Archbp of Canterbury, & married Jan: 18, 1486, at Westminster, being then in his 31st year, & Elizabeth turn'd of 20. he (you see) is in his kingly ornaments; but he would not suffer her to be crown'd till almost two years after, when she had brought him a Son. if you are sure the Person who accompanies the King is a Cardinal, it must be Bourchier, who died very soon after this marriage, for the Writ, de custodiâ commissâ to Jo: Morton, Bp of Ely, who succeeded him, is dated July 13. 1486. Bourchier was not Legate de latere, but perhaps may bear the Legatine double-Cross as Archb: of Canterbury; for both our Archbishops were styled Apostolicæ Sedis Legati (see Rymer. V: 12. p. 208 & 245.) but I take the Person there represented to be James, Bishop of Imola, who granted the Dispensation for this marriage (they being in the 4th degree of Consanguinity to one another) & was then Orator & Commissarius cum potestate Legati de latere in regnis Angliæ et Scotiæ. (see the Bull, in Rymer, V: 12. p. 213.) and somewhere, tho' I can not turn to the place, I found the King returning the Pope thanks for honouring the solemnity with the presence of his Ambassador. 'tis true, this Legate was no Cardinal, but (I believe) as Legate he might wear the Purple: tho' I am not sure, his dress is any thing more, than a Dr in Divinity's scarlet robe, & the hood, as usual, lined with Meniver. it is certain, there is no hat, tho' this was the distinction of a Cardinal long before these times.

This is all at present compyled by the paynful hand & symple engyne of your honour's pour bedesman

T: G:

My Love to Mr C:, pray tell me about him, & about the Vine. I have not found his Dugdale yet; it is not in Emanuel, nor the Publick Library.

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Letter ID: letters.0216 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Writer's age: 37
Addressee: Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797
Addressee's age: 36


Date of composition: 3 March 1754
Date (on letter): March 3d 1754
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: [Cambridge, United Kingdom]


Languages: English, French
Incipit: You are to dispatch forthwith an Express to Angers to fetch the windows...
Mentioned: Angers
Chute, John, 1701-1776
Dugdale, Sir William
Hall, Edward
Leland, John
Monstrelet, Enguerrand de
Montfaucon, Bernard de
Rymer, Thomas
Stow, John
Vyne, The

Holding Institution

GBR/1058/GRA/3/4/60, College Library, Pembroke College, Cambridge , Cambridge, UK <>
Availability: The original letter is extant and usually available for academic research purposes

Print Versions

  • The Correspondence of Gray, Walpole, West and Ashton (1734-1771), 2 vols. Chronologically arranged and edited with introduction, notes, and index by Paget Toynbee. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1915, letter no. 186, vol. ii, 134-146
  • The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole's Correspondence. Ed. by W. S. Lewis. New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP; London: Oxford UP, 1937-83, vols. 13/14: Horace Walpole's Correspondence with Thomas Gray, Richard West and Thomas Ashton i, 1734-42, Horace Walpole's Correspondence with Thomas Gray ii, 1745-71, ed. by W. S. Lewis, George L. Lam and Charles H. Bennett, 1948, vol. ii, 69-80
  • Correspondence of Thomas Gray, 3 vols. Ed. by the late Paget Toynbee and Leonard Whibley, with corrections and additions by H. W. Starr. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971 [1st ed. 1935], letter no. 186, vol. i, 391-400