Greetings from iainthepict. This blog of mine is meant to be like a 'Book of Days' or a kind of 'Scottish Year Book' if you will. The idea was to present an event for each day of the year. Somewhere in here, you can find out what happened, affecting Scotland and the Scots, on any given day of the year. Your comments and observations are very welcome.
The photograph is by Sam Perkins (check him out on Facebook at Sam Perkins Photography) and was taken near Oban.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Anne of Denmark, Queen Consort to James VI & I

Anne of Denmark, Queen Consort to James VI & I, died on the 2nd of March, 1619.

Anne is the name, royalty's the game, eh? The King of an independent Scotland may not amount to much of a catch in the 21st Century, but for a bonnie wee lassie frae the Denmark of the 17th Century, Jamie Saxt would've made a decent suitor. In principle, that is; maybe not so in practice, but then, Anne hersel' proved to be a bit of a disappointment. She was gey bonnie, though, and Jamesie was smitten wi' her at first, although his own strange predilections, coupled with her spendthriftery and apparent dalliances, meant that
they drifted away from being the ideal couple. And then there was religion, that bane of civilisation, which was a particularly troublesome aspect of life in the time of James VI & I and his Queen. 

Anne was a member of the Danish Royal Family. She was born at Skanderborg Castle in Denmark, the daughter of Frederick II of Denmark and Norway, and Sophia of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. In August 1589, then a mere fifteen years old, Anne was married, by proxy, to the twenty-three years old James VI of Scotland. From James' point of view, she was the ideal wife. Young and attractive, Anne was also a Protestant, which should have gone down well in post-Reformation Scotland. And, appealingly, certainly to James, who was ever short of cash, she came with a huge dowry (for the day) of £150,000. The price of fame.

In September, 1589, a Danish fleet was dispatched to carry Anne to Scotland. Unfortunately, a storm struck up and it was so violent that the Danish Admiral said he felt it must have been summoned by witchcraft. It  might've been an omen. Most likely, it was caused by a front of low pressure taking a bight out of the dogger bank. Whatever the cause, the sailor obviously felt discretion to have been the better part of valour and promptly turned round and headed for Norway – it was nearer than Denmark. So it was that, in late October, James himself, in a rare fit of heroic endeavour, left Scotland to get the wee lassie.

James had a rare time in Norway and Denmark. Not content with being already married, he married Anne, not once again, but twice over. First, in Oslo, in November, 1589, and then again, in January, 1590, in the Danish Royal Family's traditional seat at Kronenberg Castle. The happy couple eventually arrived back in Scotland, landing at Leith in the May of 1690. Maybe it was a sign, but puir Anne had to endure yet another very stormy North Sea crossing. The Scots were made of sterner stuff than yon Danes, despite their Viking heritage, and there was no question of turning back. Witches' craft or weather's front, James was for Edinburgh. Back in bonnie Scotland, bonnie wee Anne was crowned Queen Consort in the Abbey Church at Holyrood, in May of 1590.

Despite being a very well educated mannie, having had some of the best tutors in the western world thrash it into him, James was superstitious. The belief that the storms that had adversely affected both of Anne's voyages to Scotland had been the result of witchcraft led James VI to start a major witch-hunt across Scotland. That became one of his pet projects and as a legacy, over the century that followed, more than a thousand witches were arrested, tortured, made to confess and executed. That behaviour is a serious blemish on one of the great Kings of the British Isles, but he wasn't alone; just ask England's Queen Mary.

Early doors, James appeared devoted to Anne, but her shallowness came to annoy him. Also, her Lutheran upbringing and frivolous nature cost the affection of James’s staunchly Presbyterian subjects. Now, there you go; that demonstrates the essential difference between the primary Christian religions, right there. Your Presbyterian was a dour chiel, given to being over serious, due to a sense-of-humour-botamy at birth. Your Cafflic, on the other hand, was full of the joys of spring, secure in the knowledge that any earthly misdemeanours would be ingeniously forgiven by confession. Anne further distanced herself from her stereotypical Scotch subjects by converting to Roman Catholicism some time during the 1590s – so much for the ideal bride, eh? That conversion caused James severe problems in Scotland and, indeed, throughout his reign. It also placed a considerable strain on the marriage and is the reason why, even unto this day, no Catholic may become the spouse of a British Monarch.

Anne was sent away to live apart from James at Dunfermline Palace. She was also separated from their eldest son, Henry Frederick, whose upbringing was entrusted to John Erskine, the 2nd Earl of Mar, based at Stirling Castle. Anne did, however, accompany James to London in 1603, when he succeeded Elizabeth I as King of England. James and Anne were crowned King and Queen of England together on the 25th of July, 1603, in Windsor Castle. Not only did they have three weddings, they had two crownings, albeit they had only the one funeral each. Mind you, during the ceremonial at Windsor, Anne  caused more, and considerable, embarrassment and disquiet by refusing to take Anglican Communion.

Anne found London society very much to her taste and devoted herself to court entertainments and functions rather than interfere in politics. She spent extravagantly on the production of masques in which she herself took part. She also demonstrated a great liking for very expensive clothing, jewellery, and building projects, all of which contributed to the financial difficulties that plagued James’ reign. It was all good for Jinglin' Georgie Heriot though, for he made his fortune as money lender to both King and Queen.

The royal couple had eight children together and none apart, so far as we can tell. Their first child, Henry Frederick, was born in 1594, followed by daughters Elizabeth and Margaret. A son, later King Charles I of England, was born in 1600. Robert died in infancy, and Mary and Sophia followed, along with an unnamed son. Child mortality was high in the 17th Century, a statistic that even Royalty couldn’t escape and only three of their offspring survived childhood.

The fate of two of those surviving offspring was also tragic. Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, met an untimely death from typhoid in November, 1612, at the age of eighteen. Charles I was beheaded by Cromwell, for his arrogance and claims of divine right. However, Elizabeth became Queen of Bohemia, by marrying another Frederick, the Elector Palatine, and her grandson became George I of Great Britain. Anne died on the 2nd of March, 1619, at Hampton Court Palace. She was buried in Westminster Abbey.

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