The Musical Education and Involvement of the Six Wives of Henry VIII
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The first half of sixteenth-century England was a land permeated by religious upheaval and political instability. Despite being a land fraught with discord, it was a time of great advances in education, theology, and the musical arts. Henry VIII, king of England during this time, married six different women during his reign, which lasted from 1509 to 1547. Each queen experienced a different musical education, which resulted in musical involvement that reflected that queen’s own background and preferences. By and large, each of the reasons discussed in this thesis; religious, financial, social, sexual and even at times political, circle back to the idea of the manifestation and acquisition of power. Inadvertently, the more power the queen or queen in training gained as she climbed the social ladder, the better her chances of her survival were compared to her lower- class counterparts. Spanish born, Katherine of Aragon was raised at the court of Ferdinand and Isabella, where she was educated in both singing and instrumental performance, as well as dance. Katherine’s music education was meant to prepare Katherine to showcase her fertility, which inevitably in her marriage, she failed to provide the kingdom with a male heir. Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second queen, was raised in the English countryside in Kent, and then travelled to the posh courts of Northern Europe, where she too learned singing, dancing, and instrumental performance. Anne’s musical involvement had a seductive quality which lead to a rapid ascension through the ranks of Tudor court society but adversely lead to her ruination. Jane Seymour, raised on the country estate of Wulfhall, in Wiltshire, had a simple music education through her Catholic upbringing. Jane’s musical involvement, or lack thereof, was a direct reaction to Anne Boleyn’s detrimental musical involvement and her minimal involvement was meant to showcase her chastity rather than her charisma. German-born Anne of Cleves was raised in the Protestant belief that music education impinged upon a woman’s purity. Anne’s musical involvement demonstrates the transition not only into English society, but also how a woman’s musical involvement changed with the change in marital status. As a single woman, Anne was free to pursue the musical education she never had in her conservative Protestant German upbringing. As the fifth wife, the young Katherine Howard received music education specifically for her families, and her own, upward social mobility. In turn, she gained the king’s attention and earned the most advantageous marriage possible. However, as queen, like she failed to make the transition to the more serious role of musical patroness, and continued living as if she were still a young girl at Lambeth, immensely enjoying dance. Katherine Parre, Henry’s final and sixth wife, received a musical education much modeled after Katherine of Aragon’s ideas for her own daughter, Mary. Under Maude Parre’s supervision, Katherine Parre received training in instrumental music, singing, and dance, at her families’ northern country estate. As queen, Katherine’s musical involvement encapsulates pieces of each of the preceeding queens in addition to enhancing her own sense of majesty and prestige. In turn, Katherine Parre’s involvement would inspire future Tudor monarchs, Elizabeth and Edward, to do the same.
Table of Contents
Introduction and literature review -- Henry VIII: humanism and musical education at the early Tudor Court -- Katherine of Aragon: Music, the pomegranate,and songs of childloss -- Anne Boleyn's musical education and musical performance: the maid, the marquess, and the queen -- Training in the spirit: religion and music in the lives of Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves -- Katherine Howard: music to her rise, dancing to her fall -- Katherine Parre and conclusion: born to sit on the highest seat of "musical" majesty