The Royal Entry of James I

Monarchs customarily processed through the city of London with the royal entourage on the day before their coronation, although in the case of James I the entry was delayed because of the plague. The entry was an important form of political communication: it displayed the loyalty of the political elite, while also lauding the qualities of the ruler through the iconography of the triumphal arches and the accompanying speeches which occurred at key points along the route. But tensions and rivalries between the devisers of the entry meant that it was not quite as ideologically coherent as it might at first seem.

Key Questions

  • What were the key political messages of James’s entry?
  • How ideologically coherent was James’s entry?
  • How did people respond to the entry of 1604?

Further Reading:

  • Malcolm R. Smuts , ‘Public Ceremony and Royal Charisma: The English Royal Entry in London, 1485-1642’, in The First Modern Society: Essays in English History in Honour of Lawrence Stone, ed. A. L. Beier, David Cannadine, and James M. Rosenheim (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), pp. 65-93.
  • James Knowles, ‘The Spectacle of the Realm: Civic Consciousness, Rhetoric and Ritual in Early Modern London’, in Theatre and Government Under the Early Stuarts, ed. J. R. Mulryne and Margaret Shewring (Cambridge, 1993), pp. 157-89.
  • Lawrence Manley, Literature and Culture in Early Modern London (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

Unless otherwise noted, images in this film are reproduced by courtesy of the Ashmolean Museum and the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford.

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