Tudor Masque Background Resource, Richard York
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The Masque - So What Was THAT About?

This page explains some of the things behind remarks Diccen makes, and things he does, while teaching the Masque.

"Good Morrow"
- It was polite to greet people much more than we now tend to do. Diccen hasn't yet had time to sort out whether the people in front of him are very important, so he treats them as GENTRY just in case.
Beating Children?
Diccen tells how any father would expect his son to be beaten at school. In the first place, only sons, that is, boys, went to school. If girls were tutored, they were taught at home.
In the second place, it was thought that if you beat a boy, he would remember what you'd been telling him better. So school involved many beatings. I'm hoping to find a copyright-free picture I can put here, but meanwhile, any picture you see of a schoolmaster with boys normally has the birch branch somewhere in sight, usually in the master's hand.

- the richer, land-owning classes. As with most ages up until almost the present day it mattered very much who you were; you would live very differently depending on whether you were gentry or commonality - the ordinary people. This is simplifying a complicated subject.

The playing of the pipes to wake up.
This is me, the teacher inside Diccen, making sure you get to see the Flemish pipes played; and depending which set of clothes I'm wearing that day, quite possibly by a musician wearing the sort of clothes painted by Brueghel in "The Wedding Feast" painting. At present that's not the one on my web site in the Bagpipes pages, (...click here, then maximise the new window, (top right corner,) then close that new window (top right corner, x) to finish looking,) but it's not hard to find. I suggest you leave this boring computer for a while, go & find an art history book!
At least the pipes are the same- check the painting!
Getting properly dressed - points
Diccen always makes a point of doing up his points, usually cursing at the same time. Points, which could be ribbon, tape, or leather ties, are what held up the hose - leggings - and many other items of Tudor clothing. They were still being used in Stuart times.
Points in BruegelClick to see the rest of the picture Here's part of a Bruegel, or Brueghel, painting. This bit shows the points between jerkin (waistcoat) and hose (leggings) quite clearly.
Look at Brueghel's paintings again - "Children's Games" is a good one. The boy with blue hose in the front right hand corner, playing a sort of leap-frog game shows them well. Or paintings of more gentry people, where you'll see ribbons, often with metal tags, points, on the end, fastening gaps between parts of clothing. Sleeves were often held in this way too.

...Cursing, and other rude bits... or not.
Some Tudor English seems at least not very polite to people who are used to modern English. If you're working with me as Master Diccen, Tudor travelling musician, you may well be told to "sit on your arse."
This isn't at all rude. It's the same as a modern teacher telling you to sit on your bottom.
Tudor people used very straight words to describe things modern people sometimes get embarrassed about. For example the pot under the bed, for use at night, was properly called the pisspot. There are plenty more examples in Tudor writing.
BUT when Diccen actually swears, hardly any modern people seem to notice - you may hear things like, "God's Bones" or "By the Mass." This, to a Tudor person, would be quite strong.
It just goes to show that at different times in history, different things are important to people; and people swear about what they think is important.

Diccen is often fairly rude about people of other countries too. I don't like this part of him, but you may notice he makes remarks about the French and the Spanish, though he very much likes everything Italian. This is simply to show how people of his time were. (I apologise to French and Spanish people - I have very much enjoyed visits to both France and Spain!!)
But wait, I hear you say, we thought Henry VIII spoke French at court himself.
Quite right, he did... some of the time. It all depended whether he liked the French at the time or not. So when he was trying to get his younger sister Mary Rose (18 yrs.old at the time,) to marry the old, ill King Louis of France, as a way of getting France on his side, French was in fashion. It was different when he was fighting the French to get back bits of France he thought of as belonging to England. France was now The Enemy and things French were out of fashion.

And as for the Spanish,
wasn't Henry himself married to a Spanish Princess, Katherine of Aragon?
Quite true, and some of the time he made friendly noises to the Spanish. Then various things happened, including Katherine's father choosing to make friends with kings Henry didn't like, just when poor Mary Rose was due to be married to as Spanish Prince, who was also an Austrian Prince (what horribly complicated families these Royals all had!) So that marriage was off...just in time to marry her off to the French Louis.
Then of course he fell out with Katherine herself, and ended their marriage, so Spain was not too pleased about that, and things Spanish were then very much out of fashion.

In fact it was often quite difficult keeping up with King Henry's latest mood.
For Example...
1509: Henry brings French and other European musicians and artists to England, to make the court more fashionable.
Then French falls out of fashion and is banned as a language at court.
1513: Henry & his court all visit France, and copy EVERYTHING French, especially Burgundian.
1513: Henry and some other countries go to war with France.
1513: Mary Rose has been betrothed - promised in marriage - to Charles Archduke of Austria and Prince of Castile, in Spain. King Ferdinand of Spain, Katherine of Aragon's Dad, offends Henry. The wedding's off.
1514: Mary Rose is married to the old (52 yr old!) French King Louis, instead, to show how friendly we all are after all.
1515: Louis is dead.
In the time leading up to the 1520 meeting with the new French King Francis, he & Henry agree that neither of them will shave their beards off until they've met.
1520, June. The Field of the Cloth of Gold. The two kings meet. Henry spends the equivalent of over 4 million, at modern value, on food and drink alone, to impress France. They sign treaties of eternal peace & friendship.
1520, July. Henry signs a treaty with Emperor Charles, the Holy Roman Emperor, that he won't sign any more friendly treaties with France for at least two years. Francis hears, & is not pleased.
Early 1521: H. hears Francis has had a head injury, causing him to have his hair cut short while it mends. Orders the English courtiers to have theirs cut short too, to show sympathy, but grows his own long again quite soon.
1523: England at war with France again.
And so it went on.
Which instruments are played by Whom?
Obviously, Diccen plays lots of instruments. If you listen well, though , you'll notice that Diccen comments sometimes on the way that some instruments were played by the gentry, others not.
Generally, the ones which involve obvious hard work to play - bagpipes & shawms for a start - were not played by the gentry, because they make your cheeks puff out & your face to go red. These were left to mere professional musicians - rather lower class!
The gentry preferred playing instruments which were difficult to play well, but can be made to look easy. These include the flute which we call the recorder, the transverse flute, (our flute,) the the viols - violin family of the time - the lute; or the virginals, harpsichord, spinet or clavichord - all keyboard instruments.
Diccen doesn't play these. For one thing I don't have them in my collection, nor would I have time to practise enough on them; for another, he's more a professional musician than a real gentry musician, for all he brags about the places he's been! Find out more about the instruments by looking them up on the link to TOCTable of Contents.
The Story of the Masque
This is based on a real Masque, one of the very many in which King Henry enjoyed taking part, and one of the many for which we haven't actually got the script! Luckily the story line remains.
Henry VIII was very fond of courtly entertainments - he spent the equivalent of millions of pounds on staging them. They normally involved fantastic clothes, especially for him. They normally involved large amounts of dancing, especially good flashy dances where Henry could show off.
Sometimes these elaborate shows were put on out of doors... if you own large forests, why not use them as background settings? Then Henry could be seen riding horses too, something else he did superbly well. The special effects were spectacular too - flat wagons or floats were often used. On one occasion a float had a complete garden apparently growing on it. (Probably quite a small garden, then.)
They often involved disguises and masks covering people's faces. Queen Katherine was supposed to pretend that she didn't know who the big handsome bloke behind the mask was, that one who just happened to be the hero and get all the best dances, and then look terribly surprised when it turned out to be, guess who? her own dear King Henry all the time!
Apparently she was very good at pretending to be surprised.
This masque was done at a time when the then Lady Anne Boleyn was joining in too - she played one of the Virtuous Maids.
Masques were often played before inmportant foreign visitors - they were a way of impressing people, not just with the skill Henry showed at everything, but the general level of music, poetry, dancing, and sheer cost of the clothes and special effects - what a stupendous court this King had. Be impressed!

More points to pick up from clues in the Masque - how many did you spot?

...at present these are brief and they need pictures adding. Be patient - I'll get them in one day!
These are roughly in the order they might crop up. They don't all get in every time, though, as a lot depends on each group. However, they're usually mostly there. I wonder how many you can remember?

Reverence to the Master(s)/Mistress(es) on waking - Status established straight away - and the Tudor manner of greeting everyone in sight too.

...reinforced in the homily about "maners makyth man" Note that only boys went to school, as in this account. Girls, if taught book learning, had tutors.

Dice - a passion of the time. Whole estates were indeed risked on the roll of a pair of dice.

Pattens, Cloak & Staff - typical, as explained, in use by many people. Pattens were the sort of clogs worn fastened under your shoes. To remind yourself what they were like, in a minute, click on this link, but before you do, don't forget that you get back her by clicking on the "back" arrow on yur browser. It's a medieval artefacts page, but pattens hadn't changed. They are at the bottom of the page: link to picTo the pattens.

Description of The Players, or actors. Self explanatory.

Suitable arts for a Gentleman - "only half a man" - Henry VIII really did encourage the new fashion of the Burgundian Court to be The Renaissance Man - skilled in the arts of war and learning, and knowing everything possible about as much as possible.

Which activities belong to which status? The Pavan/ Pavanne/Pavin, whatever, is essentially a high status processional type dance wherein you may show off your clothes & posture, and being not too demanding, may also chat up your partner at the same time! Certain instruments were played by certain levels of society - generally the higher you are, the quieter & more complex the instruments you played. You probably didn't play ones like my shawm, requiring too much blowing and puffing of the cheeks. These were left to professional musicians.

Diccen's parents couldn't afford to send him to school - fee paying grammar schools, and only for boys.

The gazes or spectacles. Self explanatory. The true story: only rich people could afford them and I do need them for reading, so had to find an appropriate way for Diccen to own some, in case I need to look closely at anything. Gambling seemed the most likely possibility! - sometimes this part comes with an offer of exchanging skills - tunes for reading lessons.

The idea of the King's Company moving like sheep, hens , or moving as one person to best represent order. Diccen assumes that such countryside images are things you see every day.

Books of Instruction of Dance of which a number survive. This is partly by way of dropping a hint that there were printed books then, and partly that we do have sources for the dance steps we use.

Reverence The word for a bow or curtsey, (from courtesy.) Note Dicon's rather sly reference to the maid's reverence being simpler, "as befits the wits of a maid." This is him, not me!
Also there's a mention of "squatting upon the jakes in the house of easement." - toilet in the public privy. There was a house of easesent on London bridge. The holes simply opened over the river. Not good for those in boats...

Boys'/Mens' reverence, also called, "making a leg."

Diccen mentions what happens when someone has broken a leg, and its being bound up in splints by the barber surgeon, to keep it straight while it healed. Not that different from a plaster of Paris pot nowadays, really. At this time, the surgeons, sometimes licensed barber-surgeons, were often very skilled. They could remedy all sorts of physical injuries, especially those of fighting, as broken bones, arrow heads stuck in wounds, etc. The drawback was that there wasn't much in the way of pain killers for such operations. The Doctors, who were a separate profession, were rather less successful when it came to illnesses. You were probably safer with a country herbalist.

The King's Company standing for peace & order, Maids for virtue, etc. Allegory - something or someone representing a quality, was very sommon in court masques.

Carvings on Churches Diccen assumes that you all go to church at least once a week, as by law you should; also that you've all seen carvings. 1546 is not that long after Henry VIII's change to the Church of England from Roman Catholicism. It was his son Edward VI who really got going on removing statues and "graven images" from churches. In this time they would have still been very much more common than nowadays. Stone masons did indeed use copy books.

Beverley Minster Not only is it still there, and it does indeed have some of the finest carvings of instrumentalists in the country, but it was the Guild Church for all musicians in the north of England from Medieval times. They would meet there each year for musician's gatherings, and exchange skills and tunes, etc. You can see my pig's snout psaltery if you go in at the door and turn left. At the third archway along the wall, look at the carving, not that far up.

Money lenders. By law only Jews were allowed to lend money. This was seen as a way of protecting the souls of Christians from the dangers of such a job. They made a lot from it, and this made them even more unpopular. This may seem rather unfair.

Cittern - often played in Barbers' shops. Sometimes there's the gory tale of a tooth extraction or a leg amputation: simply the type of thing that happened. Notice that when this tale does get told, Diccen wastes no sympathy on the pain of the sufferer, but rather that everyone thought it a huge joke. Typical, again.

Pipe and Tabor - Sometimes there's the story of Diccon's cousin Tom, drowned just last year on the Mary Rose, sunk so deep they'll surely never raise her up again, and that by the perfidious Frenchman. Lots of stuff here.
(i) Of course the Mary Rose was raised in about 1980. My 3-hole pipe is in the style of one of three discovered at the time.
(ii) The reason for her sinking was most probably that Henry VIII had had too many guns placed behind gun ports, or openings, too close to the water line, so the water simply poured in when the ship heeled over.
(iii) The French were widely blamed at the time. No-one knew how, but it was probably some French spy or something. Or witchcraft. Anything rather than blame the King!

Fortune my Foe is said often to have been sung at public hangings, and was known as a "Gallows Song." Sometimes Diccon mentions having been to an "excellent" hanging recently where a cutpurse took a long time to finish dancing at the rope's end.
cutpurse - one who steals your hanging purse by cutting it from your belt.
Morris Dance of the Rope, as they called it - as the victim strangled to death under their own weight, they would often jerk about in the attempt to get some breath. The hanging wasn't a drop to break the neck, but a slow & painful way to die. The crowd loved it. If the victim had either a friend in the crowd, or had bribed the hangman, they would sometimes swing on the victim's legs and thus break his/her neck, making it quicker.

The Hunt is Up - King Harry, or Hary, (note the varied spelling) loved hunting. As a fit younger man he spent hours at it. Later in life, when no longer fit to ride for the chase, the deer were herded past the hunting stand. There's one in Epping Forest. It's a house with a very open upper storey.(The Epping one has since been altered and given windows.) Loaded crossbows are passed to the King and his gentlemen, and they shoot the passing animals. It all sounds a bit too easy. In two days Henry and his gentlemen did indeed shoot 400 deer, or "head of deer" as they said, at Sherwood Forest.

"The King, when he was a younger man... Do I trust these people? ... we must not talk of the King's health..." Following the accident when jousting which left him with a leg ulcer which never healed, Henry became ill and out of shape. This wasn't at all his image. He depended on being seen as a fit strong man who led his people. So this was an early example of what's now called spin doctoring. It was indeed against the law to discuss the King's health. Apparently the famous Holbein portrait is simply not what he looked like at the time.

The story of the King of Denmark and the Royal Ambassador. I'm sorry, I cheated. It was actually said to have been Elizabeth I's ambassador, but otherwise the story, of the Danish gentleman who pushed his way through the door in front of the English Amabssador then having his head cut off, is supposed to be true. It's just that it illustrates the power of the crown of England, so I couldn't resist using it here!

The King reducing strong men to tears by his anger; others who would complain finding that they are struck dumb with fear when they come before him; and boxing the ears of those who annoy him.
All three are true.

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Last revised October 23rd, 2001
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