Renaissance culture at the court of James V, 1528-1542
Thomas, Andrea Susan
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This study of the cultural activities of the Scottish court in the adult reign of King James V reveals a vibrant, sophisticated and confident outlook, which was more closely integrated with the developments of the northern-European Renaissance than has been apparent hitherto. James V utilised the limited resources at his disposal to good effect, and his cultural patronage propagated multi-layered images of royal power. Continuity with the traditions established by his Stewart forbears, especially his father, James IV, was stressed, particularly in the early years of his reign. However, the chivalric, imperial and humanist themes which were fashionable at the Valois, Habsburg and Tudor courts of the period, were also important and became more prominent at the Scottish court as the reign progressed. An initial examination of the daily life of the court focuses on the personnel, structure and organisation of the royal household and considers the itinerary and routine activities of the king, his family and his entourage. This allows the cultural patronage of the court to be placed in a social context, in which the role and status of women at the court are particularly highlighted. Subsequent chapters consider developments in the visual arts, music and religious observance, learning and literature, military technology, and pageantry and ceremonial. The architectural patronage of the court was particularly rich and encompassed buildings in the ornate High-Gothic style, which was pioneered in the Burgundian Netherlands, and a more restrained Italianate Classicism borrowed from the French court. Music also flourished at the Scottish court, where the French chanson and the Italian consort of viols could be heard alongside the florid, Anglo-Flemish, sacred polyphony of the chapel royal. Likewise, the literary life of the court included vivid (and sometimes bawdy) vernacular verse, scholarly translations of classical texts, neo-Latin humanist treatises, and one of the earliest known examples of a Scottish play. The king also spent heavily on developing an embryonic royal navy, royal artillery and a network of coastal and border fortifications, which incorporated the latest advances in military technology. The ceremonial highlights of the reign included two royal weddings, the lavish funerals of Queens Madeleine de Valois and Margaret Tudor, the coronation of Queen Mary of Lorraine as well as tournaments and rituals connected with the chivalric orders of the Garter, the Golden Fleece and St. Michael. In all of these areas the inspiration of the court of Francis I was particularly strong, since James V spent several years of his minority under the authority of a French Governor, married two French princesses and made a personal visit to the French court in 1536-37. However, men of English, Flemish and Italian origins served the king or visited his court and their influence can also be detected operating alongside the tastes and customs of the Scottish realm. Emerging defiantly from a long and turbulent minority, the adult James V managed to create an exuberant and cosmopolitan court in only fourteen years. His patronage was, of necessity, on a smaller scale than that of the Tudor and Valois kings but a detailed examination of the Scottish court at this period nevertheless reveals a cultural achievement of remarkable quality and diversity.