L’Ordre des Ceremonies Observees au Mariage du Roy de la Grand Bretagne, & de Madame Sœur du Roy. Paris: Jean Martin, 1625.

Call Number: SpC. 941.062 O65m1625

 

Portrait of Henrietta-Maria of France, by Wenceslas Hollar

Portrait of Henrietta-Maria of France, by Wenceslas Hollar

During St. Vincent’s lifetime, French foreign policy for continental Europe revolved around real politik strategies to undermine the power of the Habsburgs (the Holy Roman Empire and Spain). Surrounded to the north, east and south France naturally sought Protestant allies in its geo-political struggles with its Catholic enemies. A potential ally of the French in this effort was Protestant England.

One of the most widely-used diplomatic means to cement alliances was through royal marriages. On May 11, 1625 Henrietta-Marie—at fifteen years the youngest sister of Louis XIII—was married in Paris by proxy to the Stuart King of England, Scotland, and Ireland Charles I (age 24). The present volume published in Paris is an account of that ceremony.

Charles had succeeded to the throne after the death of his father, James I, in March. A papal dispensation was necessary for this first royal matrimonial alliance to cross confessional boundaries. The marriage ceremony was repeated in England in June of 1625, during which the new queen sat out the Anglican coronation service.

Protestant England never really warmed to this very Catholic queen, though Charles I did during the course of his marriage.  The court of Charles I and Henrietta-Maria became known for its glamour, style, and sophistication much to the dismay of the English Puritans. As Charles I and his queen grew  personally close, Henrietta-Maria’s political influence increased as well. The queen also admirably fulfilled one of her most important functions by providing the king with an heir and several other children.

During Charles’ reign, the religious and political tensions within England and between King and Parliament began to heighten, eventually leading to the long English Civil War, the execution of the king, the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of the Protectorate under Oliver Cromwell. Henrietta-Maria stood loyally beside her husband. They saw each other for the last time in early 1644. In July 1644, the queen fled to France for refuge. Her residence at the Chateau of Saint Germain-en-Laye became a center for Stuart activities in exile. She lived there, under her nephew’s protection (Louis XIII died in May 1643), until her son’s restoration in 1660 when she returned to England. In ill health she returned to France in 1665, where she died in 1669.

In the end, the Protestant fears about introducing Catholicism into the royal family were confirmed by the conversions of Charles II and his brother James II, leading to the Glorious Revolution of 1685 and the end of the Catholic Stuarts on the throne of England. Thus the geopolitical impact of the matrimonial alliance between France and England ended with quite unforeseen consequences for England.

Vincent de Paul mentions the progress of the English Civil War often in his correspondence, especially as they impacted his missionaries in the Hebrides and in Ireland.

 

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St. Vincent’s Reading List is a recurring blog series exploring texts known to have been read and recommended by Saint Vincent de Paul, those which can be presumed to have been read by him, and works published during his lifetime (1581-1660) illustrating his world. All materials discussed are held by DePaul University’s John T. Richardson Library. The entire series may be viewed here.

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