191:  A Royal Revel

An alert-looking black and white cat
Harry, our narrator

The sickness in the citie lingered long.

When a cat came by to tell me of revels to be held for All Hallow E’en, I sayt I would not go.

He offered an enticement.  “A cat from Mr Secretary’s household will bring newes.”

“My sister?” I arrkst, hopeful.  He did not know.

Thus it was that I made my way to the appointed place.  The roof of Luvvie’s playhouse in Black-Fryes.

Luvvie was Master of our Revels.  An office he sayt my mother gave him.

“She offered it first to me,” sayt a well-furred queen cat, coloured like a pearl.  “But I had matters of state to attend to.”

Oh, that were my sister.  Though I never heard our mother offer her more than a blow on the ear.

I seated myself nigh, meaning to greet her quiet and courteous.

Harry’s sister.  No resemblance.

She swore she knew me not.

I sought to flatter her.  “Sister, ’tis no wonder you’ve forgot me.  You, being the prettiest, was the first to leave our household.”

She looked on me glass-eyed, then stepped away.

Grown too fine for me, that were the truth of it.

I vowed to take her down a peg before the night was done.

I sat with Onix.  There were few cats I knew, and none from Paws’ yard.

Onix sayt that Picker and Stealer had business to attend to, and doubtless their minions were with them.  “Spyery,” sayt he.  “I know no more than that.”   

Luvvie began our revel with verses and a song.  I knew they came from my Uncle Gib and my mother, though he sayt nowt of that.

I told my witch tale to much applauds and cryings out against Scots.

Then Luvvie called for newes, and arrkst my sister to speak first.

She gave an account of the Dane King’s first coming into our river, which none present had seen.  Nor, I think, had she, but she spake as if she did.

Christian IV of Denmark

Item:  The Denmark fleet first came nigh to that place where Queen Puss of gracious memory told everyone she had a heart and stomack.

(That were enuff to make me puke.)

Item:  The Dane King brought with him many folks, both high and low.  His guards, pages, trumpeters and all were apparelled in blue and silver or blue and white, very costly.

Item:  For the proper government of his followers, he ordained Marshals to see that any who became drunk were punished.

(I could not refrain from crying out, “Those poor Marshals had much to do.”)

Item:  Our King, Prince, and nobles took their barges down the river to greet him. After salutations with guns and trumpets, they came in the barges to Green-Itch [Greenwich] so the Dane King might greet our Queen his sister there.

(At which I called, “His sister was joyed to see him after so many years apart.”)

“True,” sayt my sister.  “They being so like one to another there’s no doubting they are kin.”

That were a shrewd blow, and I esteemed her for it.  Then she continued her newes.

Christian’s sister Anne. A definite resemblance.

Item:  A great multitude were at Green-Itch to see the most rare and excellent sight of two Kings and a Prince.

There were some days of rest and feasting and hunting before the barges came again to row the Kings across the river.

Coaches and horses awaited to carry them to Tibbles [Theobalds], which my sister called “the famous and most delightful house of my master”.

Item:  Outside London the ways had been so throng with well-wishers the royal party could scarce pass.  But when they drew nigh to Tibbles, they saw a pretty device of an oak tree, with leaves coloured green and Welcome writ on each in gold.  Some were strewn in the highway, that they might be taken up for the Kings to see.   

Item:  The Kings were offered admirable entertainment.  And so many came to see them that in the towns and villages adjoining there was no lodging to be had, nor vittles neither.  So beef, bread, beer, wine were served from Tibbles to those known to the officers of the household.

“King James,” sayt my sister, “loves Tibbles so well my master is like to give it to him.  Such is the bounty of my good and honourable lord.”

“But what of the play?” I arrkst.  “Was it made by Luvvie’s friend Pen [Ben Jonson]?”

Luvvie pricked his ears.

“I know nowt of any play,” sayt my sister.

“Sure you do,” sayt I.  “All were too deep in drink to enact their parts.  The Dane King fell down.”

“Lies,” sayt she.

“Who cares for truth at a revel?” arrkst I.

Others called, “Not we.”

I sayt, “Then heark my newes of a most admirable entertainment.”

Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorVisits from heads of state were such a rarity, it’s no wonder King Christian IV and his entourage created a sensation.

Queen Anne had recently given birth to a daughter, Sophia, who’d died the next day.  Her brother’s visit would have helped cheer her.

He arrived on 17 July 1606, and was met by King James and escorted to Greenwich, where Anne was.  Then to Theobalds, Robert Cecil’s country house on 24 July, and back to Greenwich four days later.  Next came a grand procession through the city of London on 31 July, followed shortly after by Anne’s churching – the ceremony of thanksgiving and purification after childbirth. 

The Prince that Harry’s sister mentions is the 12 year old Henry Frederick, James’ elder son and heir.


5 thoughts on “191:  A Royal Revel

  1. April Munday October 25, 2019 / 1:29 am

    By the look of it, James knew how to throw a family party.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi October 25, 2019 / 8:15 am

      He must have been very happy to have a family, after the childhood he described as lonely and miserable.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. colonialist October 25, 2019 / 4:45 am

    Quite an occasion.
    One wonders if the Danish King’s Marshalls did anything about his falling-down-drunk condition?

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi October 25, 2019 / 7:59 am

      The mere fact that he made his state visit with such Marshalls should have sent a signal to his hosts…

      Liked by 1 person

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