A Tudor Christmas: Part Two

A Tudor Christmas: Part Two

A guest post by Wendy Pyatt

Tudor Christmas Gifts

The Tudors gave gifts at the New Year. Every important person was expected to give the monarch a New Year’s gift and then receive one in return. This was considered so important that a list, called the Gift Roll, of all gifts was kept. Acceptance or rejection of a gift was vital as this quite often had a hidden meaning! For example, in 1532 Henry VIII accepted Anne Boleyn’s gift but rejected Katherine of Aragon’s; Anne and Henry were married the following year.  The women of Henry’s court are listed as giving him embroidered shirts, and other craftsmen would show off their skills, too. For example, the Hans Holbein painting of Edward was given as a Christmas gift.

Another example of the meaning behind Tudor gift-giving occured when Sir Philip Sidney enraged Elizabeth I by suggesting she should not marry; for the New Year he gave her a jeweled whip to show subjection to her will. In 1568 Elizabeth I was given a pair of cambric sleeves by Mr. Adams, schoolmaster of Queen’s pages.

Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, was a very successful gift giver; he gave silk stockings in the 1st year of Elizabeth’s reign and also possibly the world’s first wrist watch. Epigrams were often sent as New Year’s gifts and contained one or two verses, like a short poem, usually with a sarcastic or satirical thought. From 1582 Elizabeth began to receive New Year gifts of gold, silver and rock crystal handled forks – forks were new to the country, and therefore, to court!

{Main photo credit: by Annie Spratt @ Unsplash, https://unsplash.com/search/christmas?photo=-tEHoH5kP7w }