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The Art of Monarchy

A collaboration with BBC Radio 4 to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Anonymous

[The genealogy of the Kings of England from the time of Henry II to the children of James I] c.1603-15

RCIN 601408

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This large print is one of a number produced to illustrate how the ancestry of James VI of Scotland made him the rightful King of England. James inherited his claim to the English throne from his mother, who was the great-granddaughter of Henry VII, the first Tudor monarch. When all of Henry VIII’s children died childless, James VI became King of England as James I, holding both the English and Scottish thrones.

The print takes the form of a family tree, which is read from bottom to top, showing the Kings of England from Henry II (1133–89) to James VI and I. At the very bottom are the names of Henry II’s parents, the Empress Matilda and Geoffrey Plantagenet. Each name appears as if it is inscribed on a scroll attached to the branches of the tree; the scrolls of those who held the throne are topped with crowns and numbered consecutively. At the top left are portraits of James VI and I and his queen, Anne of Denmark. In the background can be seen Nonsuch Palace, a magnificent residence built by Henry VIII, which was later to be used as a hunting lodge and was demolished in 1683.

The two topmost scrolls of this impression of the print have been left blank, with only the name of Prince Henry Frederick (1594–1612) printed. The names of James VI and I’s two younger children, Princess Elizabeth (1596–1662) and Prince Charles (1600–49) have been inserted in pen in an early hand. Other impressions of this print include the names of all of the King’s children, with a crown over the scroll of Prince Charles to indicate that he succeeded his father as Charles I. The absence of the two names on this impression may indicate that it is an early version, and dates from before Charles’s accession in 1625.