Images of love and religion: Henrietta Maria's catholicism and the court masques 1630-40
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 13:17 authored by Erica Veevers
The following study traces a connection, particularly significant for the court masques, between Henrietta Maria's doctrine of Platonic Love and her Catholicism. Chapter 1 suggests that the type of préciosité adopted by Henrietta was influenced by French Devout Humanism. Its characteristic feature was honnêteté, which advocated the pious uses of pleasure and which connected Platonic love with religion. The concept of honnêteté helps to explain characteristics of court drama, and the moralistic yet pleasure-seeking tone of Charles's court. Chapter 2 shows that Platonic ideals of Beauty and Love were important in the Catholicism introduced to court in 1630 by the Queen's Capucin Friars, and that the language used in court literature in relation to Henrietta was used in Catholic literature in relation to the Virgin Mary. In a cult of the Virgin established at court, the Queen became identified as the representative of Mary. The connection has particular significance in court masques. Chapter 3 analyses the masques in terms of their visual images, through which ideas of Platonic Beauty and Love were given expression on the stage. The analysis suggests that Inigo Jones created images for the King and Queen that harmonised on the visual level with their respective religions, and that these images, together with Jones's stage itself, were closely connected with the visible forms of religious ceremony in both the Anglican and the Counter-Reformation Catholic Church. It is further suggested that court masques referred to contemporary debate over issues of religious ceremony, and that, through the images of "Divine Beauty" created for the Queen, they defended the validity of "Beauty" in Anglican worship. Chapter 4 suggests that, in the Queen's masques, the visual images associated with the Queen were also appropriate to the Virgin, and hence related to the Catholic element in the Queen's doctrine of Platonic Love. The Queen's masques thus contain a double level of meaning, referring both to the progress of Love, and of Catholicism, at court. New meaning is given particularly to The Temple of Love and Luminalia in this context. Chapter 5 suggests that in the masques the marriage of the King and Queen became symbolic of a union, under discussion at the time, between the Anglican and Roman Churches. A comparison is made with works reflecting similar ecumenical hopes at the Valois court, and a new level of religious meaning is given to Tempe Restored, Coelum Britannicum, and The Temple of Love. The theme of union was further emphasised by the way in which the King and Queen, representing their respective religions, took on the roles of Christ and Mary. In conclusion, the connection between Henrietta's Catholicism and her doctrine of Platonic love illuminates many aspects of court life and culture that have formerly been neglected, or interpreted in contradictory ways. In particular it adds new and vital meaning to court masques.