The Three Graces with the lilies of France and the
roses of England
France, Paris, 1514.
French; 270 x 170 mm, 15 fols.
Cotton MS Vespasian B. ii, f.6
In 1514, Mary, the 18-year-old younger sister of King Henry VIII of England, was dispatched to France as the unwilling bride of the ageing French King Louis XII. The match was a political one. As was the custom on such occasions, her state entry into Paris, as its future queen, was marked by a series of pageants along the route, each offering some symbolical comment on the event. The text accompanying each pageant, with a record of its appearance, is collected into this handsome souvenir volume which may have been intended for Mary herself. The marriage lasted only a few months. In 1515 Louis died and was succeeded by Francois I. Mary subsequently married one of her brother’s oldest friends, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and was the grandmother of the unhappy Lady Jane Grey.