Jacobean Pageant: Or, the Court of King James I

By G. P. V. Akrigg | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII

The Royal Brother-in-Law

O N JULY 17, 1606, a squadron of Danish warships anchored off Tilbury. As seamen manned the sides and masts, and trumpets sounded, the King of England accompanied by his heir and Privy Council came alongside in the royal barge. On the deck of the Danish flagship King James found his brother-in-law, Christian IV, King of Denmark and Norway. The two monarchs hastened to embrace. Eager to see James's new realm, and to visit a sister for whom he felt real affection, King Christian had waited a decent interval until the royal family was settled in its new kingdom, and now had arrived for a month's visit.

Escorted by English barges, the Danish flagship carried the two kings up the river towards Greenwich while the other Danish warships and the English blockhouses guarding the lower Thames made the day thunderous with cannonades. At Greenwich was the royal palace assigned to Queen Anne as her own residence. Here she toyed away months of separation from her husband, enjoying her own mild amusements while James was hunting the deer at Royston or Newmarket.

When King Christian came forward to kiss his sister, he saw not the beautiful gold and silver little blonde who had sailed for Scotland seventeen years before, but a somewhat bony sallow woman, sharp-nosed and tight-mouthed, a discontented wife and a purposeless woman. A month before, one of her numerous pregnancies had ended with the birth of a princess. King Christian in planning his journey had hoped to see her happy with her babe, but Princess Sophia had died at the age of one day and been given solemn burial in Westminster Abbey.

The first two weeks of King Christian's visit were spent quietly with his sister at Greenwich. To the lonely Queen, the time must have seemed all too short for talk with her brother about their childhood and what had happened since. Not that all the time was given to family talk. There was hunting with King James in the morning, and drinking at night. James had a weakness for wine, especially the rich sweet wines of Greece, but he was no match for Christian and his Danes. The drinking reached a climax during a four-day visit to Theobalds where the two kings were the guests of Cecil, who for over a year had been Earl of Salisbury. The wonders to be seen at Theobalds we noted earlier. Now they were augmented by such

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