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capacity of ambassadors at the Twelfthnight masque
in the presence of King and Court. The Ambassador
from Spain, Gondomar, delayed the masque by appeal-
ing to the King for the removal or subordination of
the Ambassador from Holland. James I answered that
Gondomar's predecessor had admitted the States'
Ambassador in his presence without question. 2 This
Gondomar denied on the strength of his instructions,
which James requested that he immediately produce.

While the matter in dispute was under discussion,
the Court were all waiting for Mercury Vindicated to
begin. The King, Council, and the other Ambassadors

1 Cf . supra, 60, also Appendix 43. * Cf. Appendix 43.

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Masques Less Important Diplomatically 97

became involved and the discussion increased to a
storm. Being unable to effect a compromise, the
Spaniard finally withdrew, in some heat, followed by
the States 9 Ambassador who was requested by the King
to leave, lest it should be said that preference was
given the States over Spain. x The affair caused much
comment and "no good bloode neither here [in England]
nor in Holland whither Caron [the States' Ambassador]
made a difpatch the fame night." 2 The eyes of
Holland and of the world were attracted by the incident
to a growing Spanish confidence which they feared
might result in another attempt of that country, to
regain her lost territory and prestige. a

This European conviction was not lessened by the
preparations then under way in Paris for the marriage
of the French King's sister with the Prince of Spain,
whose betrothal in 1612 was the occasion for so many
French masques and f fetes. * Coupled with this fact,
the Spaniard's unwillingness to retract his demands of
Twelfthnight, and to apologise for his behaviour, made
the English and their allies suspicious lest the Spanish
should "haue fome great hopes at hand, or that they
prefume as much of others weakness as of theyre owne

The retiring of the Ambassadors from Spain and
Holland, left the Venetian alone in the place of honour,
reserved for Ambassadors, during the performance of
Mercury Vindicated. $ The Spanish Ambassador, before
leaving, requested "that since his servants were not
Ambafsadors & would not strive for places they might
be allowed Roome to see the Maske. " This was of

* See Appendix 60. * See Appendix 61 and 62.

* Cf. supra, 67 f. « See Appendix 61.

* "The Venetian Amb* as soon as the Spanish was departed, was
conducted by me into the second Roome from the privie gallerie, and

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98 Court Masques of James I

course granted. An Agent from Florence was present
but was able only to occupy a form among the Lords.

The masque was so well liked that James arranged for
a second production on Sunday following Twelfthnight. ■
Mercury Vindicated itself does not elicit very favourable
comment from Chamberlain though he was pleased with
the dancing, an accomplishment in which we find the
young Villiers so proficient on a later occasion, that he
placates the King in a horrible outburst of rage and
saves the masquers from disgrace.*

The King of England made good his position toward
the Protestant alliance in his announcement on the
following day that the Spanish pretentions at the
masque of the previous night were unfounded. James
declared that

the exception or Protestation he had made, could not be
made any way good by him, the King of Spaines Agent, in
regard the vaf salage which the King his Master pretended
of the States was not properly his, but should belong (if to
any) to the Arch-Dukes, to whom he had made a cefsion

there attending till his Majesty & the Queene came, went along with
them & was seated on the left hand of the King beneath the Queene,
& the Prince on the right.

" The Agent of Florence . . . supped also in the Councill Chamber,
& followed the King to the Maske with the Venetian, but having been
ordained his seate in one of the galleries, he intreated me to move the
Lord Chamberlaine, that (as he understood the Great Duke his Masters
Agent, and the Duke of Savoyes had been) he might be placed among
the Lords, which was afsented to." John Finett, Fmetti Philoxenis.

1 "the only matter I can aduertife fince I wrote the last weeke is the
fuccefse of the mafke on twelfe night, w** was fo well liked and ap-
plauded that the king had yt repref ented again the fonday night after,
in the very fame manner though neither in deuife nor fhew was there
anything extraordinarie but only excellent dauncing the choife being
made of the best both English and Scottes. " Chamberlain to Carleton,
12 January, 1614-15, in State Papers Domestic James /, lxxx, No. 4.

'See infra, 116.

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Masques Less Important Diplomatically 99

of those Provinces, & had likewise (he said) but a poore
title to them, having at the time of the treaty of truce
between them, agreed to treate with them, as with a free
state, & given them since in severall letters the title and
stile they pretend to (& which all other Princes & States,
(he said) give (them) of Les Etats confederer de provinces
vnies. This dispute, & difference occurred in the time
that the truce between the King of Spaine, the Arch-Duke
and the States yet lasted. 1

To celebrate her marriage, the French King's sister
gave a masque in France which was reported to have
been "a most brilliant function. It constituted prac-
tically a triumph upon her marriage, allusions being
made to her journey in the music and ceremonies. All
the ambassadors were invited, " a but it will be noted
that the representatives of those countries which used
every means to hinder the marriage* were absent, while
those who favoured the union, the Papal Nuncio,
Spain and Venice, attended.*

It would seem that this French-Spanish alliance was
a counter stroke of the Catholic powers for self-preser-
vation, after the Protestant marriage alliance of
England and the continental forces represented by the
Count Palatine of the Rhine. 4 During the formation of

> John Finett, FineUi Philoxenis, in Lord Chamberlain's Office, Class
Miscellaneous 5, No. 1.

3 See Pietro Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France to the Doge
and Senate, 31 March [O. S. 21], 1615, in Calendar of Stale Papers
Venetian, xiii, 394~5» No. 723.

» Note especially England, Savoy and the Dutch. See Calendar of
Slate Papers Venetian, xiii, 484, 491, 546 et passim.

« It seems hardly necessary to insert here that much of this so-called
religious struggle here as elsewhere was political :

Cf. " One might thank God if it really were to the advantage of our holy
religion and to bring these realms back to the true light, but the harm is
that it is only to please the Spaniards, to stand well with them and help

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ioo Court Masques of James I

this alliance, however, the Spanish Ambassador went
to the trouble and expense of presenting some masques
by Spaniards to the English Court 1 but for what
purpose or how they were received, I am unable at
present to discover. 8

The following year, 1615-16, the French, Venetian,
and Savoy Ambassadors were invited to be present
at the first production of the masque, The Golden Age
Restored, prepared by Ben Jonson for New Year's
night. 3 It will be remembered that on at least two
occasions before, when the French Ambassador had
been invited to a masque to be given before Twelfth-
night, the masque of the latter feast was reserved for
the Ambassador from Spain. Whether or not he had
suspicion that the same trick might be played him
again, at any rate, he succeeded in inducing the King
to change his invitation to the second production of
the same masque, to be given on Twelfthnight. 3 The
King complied with the request and all three Ambassa-
dors were present at the Twelfthnight performance
where they were given all honour.

I find no record of any Ambassadors present at the
New Year's performance, though the sons of the Am-
bassadors of Venice and of Savoy were in attendance
and sat on the "forms" of the Lords. On the occasion
of Twelfthnight the son of the Spanish Ambassador
and the Agent of the Arch-Duke (who invited himself)
were seated on the " forms " and the sons of the
Venetian and Savoy Ambassadors were forced to be

the marriage, and does not have religion as its principal object. " Giro*
lamo Lando, Venetian Ambassador in England to the Doge and Senate,
30 Dec [O. S. 20], 1621, in Calendar of State Papers Venetian, xvii, 190.

1 See John Nichols, Progresses, iii, 41. * Cf. infra, 126-7.

* See Appendix 63.

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Masques Less Important Diplomatically 101

content with places in the gallery with their country-

But the years 1613 to 1616, while the marriage
alliance between Prance and Spain was in process of
preparation and completion, were singularly free from
the violent clashes of the earlier and the later years of
James. The one struggle over the rejection of the
Arch-Duke's Ambassador caused serious comment.

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HPWO such hereditary enemies as Spain and France
1 could not remain long on friendly terms. Prince
Charles, afterward Charles I, was "created" Prince of
Wales in November, 1616, but all members of the
diplomatic corps were excluded from the ceremonies
of the "creation" because of a quarrel between the
French and Spanish Ambassadors. The trouble still
continued at the time of the Christmas festivities,
1616-17, when the Spanish Ambassador reported to the
Duke of Lerma that, "the King had determined not
to invite to a masquerade at the palace any ambassador
owing to the entreaties of the French ambassador to be
invited." « The masque to which he refers, Ben Jon-
son's Vision of Delight, presented on Twelfthnight, 161 7,
is not wholly without interest, however, especially to
students of American history.

For some time prior to 1616, England had been
interested in her American ventures. 2 In 1616, Sar-
miento, the Spanish Ambassador in England, brought

'See D* Diego Sarmiento to his Excellency the Duke of Lerma,
Jan. 1 1 , 1616, in Arch, de Simancas, E. L., 2595, foL 20 (cipher), as found
in Spanish Transcripts, Series II, xxxvii. Cf. also Appendix 64.

'In 1609 we find Prince Henry presenting a "bafon and yore of
redde copper" to "som of Virginia," and again in 1612 the Prince paid
ioo£ put for him "into the lotterie for Virginia." Cf. Appendix 65.


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Prince Charles, Chief Masquer 103

suit in Chancery against Sir Richard Bingley for piracy
against two Spanish ships which, according to Sarmi-
ento's claim, were filled with a valuable cargo of hides,
tallow, tobacco, redwood, &c, from America. But more
than in their trade, English nobles saw in American
possessions an opportunity to repair all their depleted
f ortunes through the fabulous gold mines reported to
have been found across the Atlantic. 1 Raleigh's
publications had done much to arouse world-wide
imagination and credulity. English literature of the
time abounds with references to America and its
inhabitants. Shakespeare in The Tempest, 11, ii, makes
Trinculo voice the popular curiosity when he says,
" when they will not give a doit to relieve a lame beggar
they will lay out ten to see a dead Indian." The
masques give frequent evidence of the interest in
America through the presence of Indian characters
as masquers, and the continued association of great
mines of gold with the American colonies. In 1613,
foreign Ambassadors report the excitement in England
over the capture of Pocahontas. She was to them a
daughter of a King in a country of fabulous wealth « and
her retention by the English soldiers meant success
to the English arms. 2

So when Pocahontas was brought to London, it is .
not strange that James invited her with her "afsistant"
to the Court, and gave her a prominent place, 3 such

1 Cf., "The Spanish Ambassador went recently to the royal council
to ask that Sir Walter Raleigh should not be allowed to go to the Indies.
He is to leave in two months with eight ships full of nobles, all well
appointed, to acquire mines. " Giovanni Battista Lionello, to the Doge
and Senate, 10 February, 1617, in Calendar of State Papers Venetian,
xiv, No. 631. Cf. Appendix 66. a See Appendix 67.

3 "The Virginian woman Pocahontas w* her father Counfaillor
haue ben w* the King and graciously vfed, and both fhe and her

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104 Court Masques of James I

as he was accustomed to give to representatives of
other Kings and Queens among the Twelfthnight
audience who gathered to hear King James's praises
sung* in Ben Jonson's Vision of Delight, on January 6,
1617. We may well be curious as to the feelings of
the Indian maiden, transplanted from the wigwam to
the most elaborate species of entertainment of the most
magnificent court of Europe, but the correspondence of
the time, so far found, gives us no clue as to the thoughts
in the mind of Pocahontas concerning the audience who
listened to The Vision of Delight, nor of their attitude
toward her.

Besides the presence of Pocahontas at the presenta-
tion of The Vision of Delight, one other event caused
comment. The favourite, who had climbed since last
we saw him from being merely young Villiers to the
rank of Earl of Buckingham, had the honour of dancing
with the Queen, when the masquers, according to the
usual custom, took out the ladies for the dance, near the
close of the masque. John Chamberlain, writing of
the entertainment, says:

I forgot in my last to geue notice that therewas a meaning
before the end of Christmas to make the L. villers an Earle
(though I knew not of what place) w * fell out the next day
to be performed w* all vfuall folemnitie and he bears the
name of Buckingham, on twelfe night was a mafke wherin

assistant well placed at the mafke, fhe is vpon her return (though fore
againft her will) yf the wind wold come about to fend them away."
Chamberlain to Carleton, 18 January, 1616-17, in State Papers Domestic
James I, xc, No. 25.

1 " Pkau. Behold a king

Whose presence maketh this perpetual spring;
The glories of which spring grow in that bower,
And are the marks and beauties of his power."

—Ben Jonson, Works (1903), iii, 119.

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Prince Charles, Chief Masquer 105

the new made Earle and the Earle of mongomerie daunced
w* the Queene. I haue heard no great fpeach nor com-
mendations of the mafke neither before nor fince, but yt is
apointed to be reprefented again to morrow night, and the
Spanish Ambaffador invited. 1

The second masque of the season, 1616-17, was given
by the Middle Templers on the seventeenth of January,
1616-17, in honour of the new-created Earl of Bucking-
ham. The favourite was advancing to power with
such leaps and bounds that the winning of his influence
was worth serious effort. Chamberlain suggests the
purpose of the Middle-Tempters' masque in Bucking-
ham's honour, when he says: "yesternight the Middle-
Tempters entertained the Earle of Buckingham w th
a fupper and a mafke, whether yt be that he was of
theyre focietie or that they wold preoccupate his
favour." 8

On the twenty-second of February, 1616-17, Ben
Jonson's Lovers Made Men was presented in honour
of the Ambassador, Baron de la Tour.

European politics had been so readjusting themselves
that the smouldering flames of the Thirty Years' War
were about to break out. Historians have used all
effort to lay bare the attitude of England toward the
struggle and to account for James's sacrifice of his son-
in-law in favour of his attachment to Spain, but with
only varying success. For our purposes, we can only
note here that such was his attitude.

In the ceremonies surrounding the Twelfthnight
masque of 1616-17, there is no open avowal as to James's
policy, and yet a careful reader of conditions must have
realised that indications boded no good for the Protes-

1 Chamberlain to Carleton, 18 January. 1 616-17, in State Papers
Domestic James I, lxxxx, No. 25. 2 Ibid.

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106 Court Masques of James I

tant cause. Spain's feelings were salved not only by
the reproduction on January 19, 1616-17 of The Vision
of Delight, to which the Spanish Ambassador was in-
vited, but by a promise given to Sarmiento by the King,
that on Twelfthnight of the coming year, 1617-18,
the new Prince of Wales would give his first masque
to which Sarmiento would be invited. 1

Ben Jonson was early set to work on Pleasure Re-
conciled to Virtue for Twelfthnight, 1617-18, and the
coming masque was the talk of the hour. This was to
be the first great Court masque given by a member of
the Royal family since the long-delayed masque of
Queen Anne which awaited de Laverdin's coming in
161 1. In addition to the significance attached to the
presentation of Pleasure Reconciled to Virtue^ because of
the princely rank of its chief masquer, Prince Charles's
first masque grew in importance because it began to be
understood about the Court, that the English-Spanish
marriage alliance was close to fulfilment and the
masque was looked upon as a confirmation and an-
nouncement of the coming union. a

To make the entertainment of sufficient grandeur
to fit such an occasion, James, although almost destitute
of money, set aside for his son's first masque, four
thousand pounds from a promised fifty thousand which
had just been wrung with great difficulty from the
merchants, 3 and in addition to Ben Jonson, the best

1 See Appendix 70.

* See Appendix 69 and 70. Cf. also, Calendar of State Papers Venetian,
xv, 107.

J "The Qu: hath caufed y« La: mafke to be put of w« h my L d Hay
fhould haue made at y robes last night. The other w* h y**Prince is to
make in the banqueting houfe on I2 tfc night, and wherein himfelf is to
be an actor, is likely to hould.

Your L» heard before this time y* y* marchands of middleb. & y*

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Prince Charles, Chief Masquer 107

artists and artificers of every description were employed
to make the masquing evening a success. For at
least fifty days before Twelfthnight* messengers were
hurrying hither and thither gathering members of the
nobility together for the rehearsals, arranging elaborate
quarters for the performers and citing, at the Prince's
command, poets, painters, musicians, actors, etc.,
including Shakespeare's company and others to the
Prince's Household. 1

When 161 7-18 arrived, a Masque of Amazons pre-
pared for the first of January was, for some unknown
reason, distasteful to the King and Queen who "fayd
as yf they wold haue hadd no courte but there owne fo
near them or fome fuch like. " 3 Though all the expense
was incurred by Lady Hay and her friends who were
to present the masque at the home of the former, the
royal sanction being withheld, no performance was
given. Early in 1618, however, the Gentlemen gave
two productions of a masque representing the marriage
of the son of a farmer, the first at "Enfielde" where
"S r George Goringe vpon fentinge a farmer's fonne
& apparrell thereafter the reft, weare come to daunce at
his weddinge w th many pleafant fpeeches, & much

Eaft Indies haue undertaken to furaifh y* excheque* with 5000o£, of
w* h hif ma tle hath bin pleafed to affigne for Ireland i200o£, for y*
arrerages of y* artillerie 8ooo£, for Marquis Hammelton 8ooo£, for mjr
L d D'Aubigni 400o£ f for my L d Hey 300o£, for my L d Haddingto
200o£ and 400o£ for y* Princes mafke. al which he wil most gratioufly
pforme if there be not to much difficulty found in y* collecting of it.

London, Jan. A, 1617.

" Your D>« most devoted to do you fervice

"Nathanael Brent."

In Stale Papers Domestic James J, xcv, No. 3.

1 See infra, 148*. a See infra, 180-1.

* See Chamberlain to Carleton, 3 January, i6i7-[8] f in State Papers
Domestic James I, xcv, No. 5.

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io8 Court Masques of James I

mirth dree the ende. Which the kinge hearinge,
defired to fee them perf orme the fame at Tibbalds the
night ere he pted, w* he did and was much contented
& very merry therew*." 1

But of course the big event ova: which every tongue
was loosed, and the one to which diplomatic importance
was attached, was the presentation of Pleasure Recon-
ciled to Virtue, the first masque of the future King
Charles I. This, with its implied confirmation of
England's choice of a future Queen, gave opportunity
for perhaps the most unusual and elaborate single
masque of James's reign.

When the French were finally assured of the Spanish
invitation, they felt that the publication of so over-
whelming a defeat could not be accepted without the
most serious protest. The French Ambassador, there-
fore, after failing to influence King James through
other means, repaired to the Court, without regard to
the seasonableness of his visit and impatiently demand-
ing access to his Majesty, forced his way into the
private apartments, where he " expostulated very
roundly" against the wrong done his master in his
Ambassador's person. * Being unable to bring about a
change in James's plans, he despatched his secretary
post-haste into France for immediate instructions
concerning his further procedure. In the meantime,
however, the illness of Gondomar, as the masquing
evening approached, threatened to force the English
to extend an invitation to de Mar6ts because of the
Spaniard's absence. But things had reached such a
pass that "the King had a bed and room prepared for
Gondomar," in case he should succumb physically

1 Gerrard Herbert to Carleton, 12 Jan., 1618, in State Papers Domestic
James I, xcv, No. 14. * See Appendix 70.

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Prince Charles, Chief Masquer 109

during the evening and James "had a chair placed for
him on his right and by his side." 1 From this place
of honour the representative of the House of Austria
gave his share of applause to the " dance of the bottles "
and saw the undignified behaviour of the King to whose
policies Spain was supposed to be committing herself. '
When the French secretary returned, he brought
with him evidence of the French King's displeasure in
the form of his Ambassador's recall from the Court of
England with a cessation of diplomatic relations be-
tween the two countries. 3 De M&rets still stayed on in

1 "He says that he went on the day of the Epiphany to an entertain-
ment given by the Prince at the Palace. He did not send an excuse
although he was so ill, for the French Ambassador wishes to be present
alone, and on seeing the preference with which Gondomar was treated,
he said he meant to return to France.

" The King had a bed and room prepared for Gondomar in case he
was taken ill.

"The King had a chair placed for him on his right, and by his side. "
In Spanish Transcripts, Series II, 39, from Arch, del marques de IUoavil,
copy of a letter from Count Gondomar to Cardinal Borja y Velasco,
London, 19 January, 1618.

9 See Ben Jonson, Works, iii., Pleasure Reconciled to Virtue, also
infra, 116.

* "He says that on the previous day the 4th of February, the secretary
of the f rench ambassador had returned from Paris, who had been sent to
say that James had allowed Gondomar to have the precedence at the
Palace. The secretary brought orders for the ambassador to leave
England immediately & he gave James a letter written in the same sent
by the King.

" The f rench ambassador [De Marets] is very ill, and will be much
annoyed at leaving for he had brought his family with him, and had
arranged his house and gardens, hoping to stay here several years.
They are preparing everything in his house for his departure.

" The ashes with which Gondomar had loaded the French in the
present instance would give a very good result.

" Secretary Lake went to visit Des Marets in the King's name without
urging him to remain; he found him in in bed furious against England &
King James & saying that every Englishman was a subject and pensioner
of the King of Spain." Count of Gondomar to Philip III., London,

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no Court Masques of James I

London under pretence of his wife's illness for three
weeks after his recall had arrived, until finally James,
impatient to be rid of him, sent word that the gifts,
always presented to an ambassador upon his departure,
were ready for him. De Mdrets failed to present
himself immediately for the gifts and the King sent

Online LibraryMary SullivanCourt masques of James I: their influence on Shakespeare and the public theatres → online text (page 9 of 24)