Competing Fictions and Fictional Authority at the Palatine Wedding Celebrations
On 14 February 1613, after prolonged negotiations with several European countries, James’s daughter, Elizabeth Stuart, married the German prince, Frederick the Elector Palatine.1 Unlike the court weddings I have been discussing in the previous two chapters, Elizabeth’s marriage was an international event. Celebrations were mounted both inside Whitehall and in the city for the public to view. The festivities continued in the Netherlands and Germany as Elizabeth made the long voyage to her new court in Heidelberg.2 This was the first royal wedding to take place in England since the marriage of Mary Tudor to Philip of Spain in 1554, and such magnificence had not been witnessed for a nuptial event since the even earlier marriage of Prince Arthur and Katharine of Aragon in 1501. The total cost of the Palatine wedding-ceremony and festivities included-came to an astounding £93,293.3 The wedding elicited a vast panegyrical response, the amount of poetry produced for the occasion surpassing that offered in reaction to
the death of Prince Henry in 1612.4 Pamphlets describing the marriage circulated in several different languages, both within Britain and on the continent. Even at Whitehall we find new voices emerging: the Inns of Court, who, after 10 years of James’s English reign, had not mounted any entertainments for the king at court, now manifested themselves vigorously, providing two out of the three marriage masques. In both its scale and its political significance, this was a very different kind of event from the marriages of Philip Herbert and Susan de Vere, Frances Howard and Robert Devereux, James Hay and Honora Denny, or Elizabeth Radcliffe and John Ramsay.