Art and Magic in the Court of the Stuarts by Vaughan Hart

By Vaughan Hart

Spanning from the innauguration of James I in 1603 to the execution of Charles I in 1649, the Stuart court docket observed the emergence of a whole expression of Renaissance tradition in Britain. In artwork and Magic within the courtroom of the Stuarts, Vaughan Hart examines the impression of magic on Renaissance artwork and the way in its function as a component of royal propaganda, artwork used to be used to symbolize the ability of the monarch and mirror his obvious command over the hidden forces of nature.`Court artists sought to symbolize magic as an expression of the Stuart Kings' divine correct, and later in their coverage of Absolutism, via masques, sermons, heraldy, gardens, structure and processions. As such, magic of the sort enshrined in Neoplatonic philosophy and the courtroom artwork which expressed its cosmology, performed their half within the advanced reasons of the Civil warfare and the destruction of the Stuart photograph which in its wake.

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17 Heywood was later to produce his parallel Life of MERLIN…His Prophesies, and Predictions Interpreted…Being a Chronographicall History of all the Kings…from BRUTE to the Reign of our Royall Soveraigne King CHARLES (1641). Here Geoffrey again constituted the main source for the life of the ancient British magician and his prophecies, inevitably culminating in the wise rule of the Stuarts. James’; in this according to Merlin a king will ‘Garter,/The Northern Thistle to the Southern Rose’, whilst dark forces will attempt ‘To undermine both Crown 33 ART AND MAGIC IN THE COURT OF THE STUARTS and Government…/By blowing up the State in powder flames’.

9 Geoffrey thus chronicled a history of supernatural British kingship which stemmed from the Golden Age of Troy. 12 Despite medieval critics such as the historian Polydore Vergil, Geoffrey’s tale was to exercise an enormous influence on actual events in British history up to and including the Stuart age. Medieval English monarchs had traditionally used British legends of magical heroic deeds to bolster their rule:13 Henry VIII had cultivated the legend of Arthur’s empire to justify his breach with Rome, and the emerging Church of England advanced a parallel claim to an ancient British ancestry.

A guide that gives them laws To all their motions: Daedalus the wise. HERCULES. And doth in sacred harmony comprise His precepts? MERCURY. Yes. HERCULES. They may securely prove Then any labyrinth, though it be of love. (lines 230–8) The steps of the following dance, which the text makes clear were directed by Daedalus, were demonstrations of the poetry, representing moving symbols of royal love treading an even, harmonious path through life’s maze and thereby reconciling, as the title promises, pleasure to virtue: …all actions of mankind Are but a labyrinth or maze, So let your dances be entwined, Yet not perplex men unto gaze; 21 ART AND MAGIC IN THE COURT OF THE STUARTS But measured, and so numerous too, As men may read each act you do And when they see the graces meet, Admire the wisdom of your feet.

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