Supplied by Royal Collection Trust/© HM Queen Elizabeth II 2012

Over the last couple of years much of my time has been spent tracking down and researching objects associated with Prince Henry, the son of James VI of Scotland and I of England, the boy who, had he lived, would have become King Henry IX. Henry is now a largely forgotten figure, but in his lifetime, and for some time afterwards, he was seen as the ideal Renaissance prince. Brave, handsome, athletic, clever, noble and virtuous, he seems to have possessed every quality desirable in a prince. He became the focus of almost unlimited hope for the future for his family, his would-be subjects, and Protestant states abroad. Many wonderful paintings and objects connected with him survive to this day.

These include extraordinary portraits, one showing him hunting with a friend, another, riding a huge grey horse, accompanied by an apparently naked figure of Father Time.

© Michael Donne

There are also exquisite portrait miniatures, beautifully bound books from his collection, Old Master paintings branded with his ‘HP’ monogram, elegant Renaissance bronzes, and much more. Some of the most touching artefacts are letters to and from his parents, and Henry’s own exercise book. The latter has lines of Latin written out as handwriting practice, but also a page of doodles and smudges, practice signatures and scribbles.

Visiting these objects has been one of the most exciting parts of my research for the exhibition – and sometimes surprisingly moving as well. My next post will tell the story of one such visit.

© The British Library Board, Royal.12.A.LXVI.

As part of the exhibition The Lost Prince: The Life and Death of Henry Stuart

Image Credits (from top to bottom)

Henry, Prince of Wales, Isaac Oliver, c.1610-12. The Royal Collection. Supplied by Royal Collection Trust/© HM Queen Elizabeth II 2012.

Prince Henry on Horseback, Robert Peake the Elder, c.1666-8? From the collection at Parham House, Pulborough, West Sussex. © Michael Donne.

Prince Henry’s Copy-book, Prince Henry, 1606-6, bound probably in 1610. The Master and fellows of Trinity College Cambridge. © The British Library Board, Royal.12.A.LXVI.


Got something to say?

Catharine McLeod

12 October 2012, 11:39

it’s impossible to guess! He would have had to live another 13 years to inherit the throne from his father, by which time he may have changed completely as a person. He was, when he died, very militant in outlook, and perhaps he would have drawn Britain into war in Europe, which may have had even worse consequences. He had just as strong a belief in the divine right of kings as Charles and James, although he may perhaps have been more popular and charismatic as an individual. BUT the real question behind this is, of course, what were the causes of civil war? At most, the king’s character and policies were just part of the story. There were also many other factors, like the growth of Puritanism, which would probably have existed whoever was king. So, it’s really an unanswerable question.


11 October 2012, 21:14

Had he lived could the English Civil War have been avoided?

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