Blanche of Lancaster, Crown of Blanche of Lancaster, Crown of Bohemia, Crown of Margaret of York, Elector Ludwig III of the Rhine, Henry IV of England, House of Lancaster, House of York, Margaret of York, Richard Plantagenet
Crown of Margaret of York & Crown of Princess Blanche
From the Emperor’s Desk: Today begins a series of examining the history of my Top Favorite 12 Crowns of Europe (well, 13 because there is a tie for the 12th place).
Crown of Margaret of York
Margaret of York
Margaret of York (May 3, 1446 – November 23, 1503)—also by marriage known as Duchess Margaret of Burgundy—as the third wife of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy and acted as a protector of the Burgundian State after his death. She was a daughter of Richard, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville, and the sister of two kings of England, Edward IV and Richard III. She was born at Fotheringhay Castle, Northamptonshire, in the Kingdom of England, and she died at Mechelen in the Low Countries.
The celebrations that followed the Margaret of York’s wedding to Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy were extravagant even by the standards of the Burgundians, who were already noted for their opulence and generous festivities. The bride made her Joyous Entry in a golden litter drawn by white horses, wearing upon her head a golden crown.
Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy
When the Duke and Duchess of Burgundy appeared in Burgundy together for the first time, both wore magnificent crowns. Margaret’s crown was adorned with pearls, and with enamelled white roses for the House of York set between red, green and white enamelled letters of the Latinization of her name (“Margarita de York”, m ar ga ri ta de yo rk), with gold Cs and Ms, entwined with lovers’ knots (it can still be seen in the treasury at Aachen Cathedral).
The removal of the crown to Aachen was significant, since it allowed its survival from the ravages of the later English Civil War which involved the destruction of all the main English Crown Jewels. It thus remains one of only two medieval royal British crowns still surviving, the other being the Crown of Princess Blanche.
Charles the Bold wore an equally splendid crown, accompanied by a golden gown encrusted with diamonds, pearls and great jewels. The parades, the streets lined with tapestry hung from houses, the feasting, the masques and allegorical entertainments, the jewels, impressed all observers as “the marriage of the century”. It is reenacted at Bruges for tourists every five years with the next event in 2022, the last one having taken place in August 2017.
The Crown of Princess Blanche of Lancaster, also called the Palatine Crown or Bohemian Crown, is the oldest surviving royal crown known to have been in England, and probably dates to 1370–80.
The Crown of Princess Blanche of Lancaster
Blanche of England, (spring 1392 – May 22, 1409), also known as Blanche of Lancaster, was a member of the House of Lancaster, the daughter of King Henry IV of England by his first wife Mary de Bohun.
Her crown is made of gold with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, enamel and pearls. Its height and diameter are both 18 centimetres (7.1 in). The crown has been a property of the House of Wittelsbach since 1402, when it came with Princess Blanche of England, daughter of King Henry IV of England, on her marriage to Ludwig III, Elector Palatine.
The crown is made up of 12 hexagonal rosettes on the base each supporting a gold stem topped by a lily. The stems and lilies alternate in size and height. They are heavily jewelled versions of the fleur de lys (lily flower) that was popular for medieval crowns. In the middle of the hexagons, which have enamelled white flowers overlaid onto a translucent blue or red background, is a pale blue sapphire, 11 of which are oval and 1 is hexagonal. Each point is decorated with alternating rubies and clusters of four pearls that have a small diamond at the centre. In addition to diamonds, pearls, and sapphires, the lilies are also decorated with emeralds.
Detail of two hexagons mounted on the base with alternating arrangements of jewels and pearls
Some of the original pearls may have been replaced when the crown was restored in 1925. The lily stems are detachable, and it is possible to fold the crown’s base so that it can be transported more easily. Each rosette is numbered 1–12 to make sure the lilies are re-attached correctly. The crown is 18 centimetres (7.1 in) in both height and diameter.
The nuptial crown is first documented in the inventory of King Richard II of England It was recorded again in a 1399 list of royal jewels being moved across London which had been owned by the deposed Richard II and others. Therefore, the crown had most likely belonged to Queen Anne of Bohemia, the wife of Richard II, whom she married in 1382.
The crown came to the Palatine line of the House of Wittelsbach as dowry of Blanche of England, daughter of King Henry IV of England. After his accession to the English throne, Henry wanted to make important alliances in order to maintain and legitimize his rule. One ally whose support he hoped to gain was the Wittelsbach King Rupert of Germany, who also took the German throne after the deposition of King Wenceslaus. A marriage between Rupert’s eldest surviving son, Ludwig, and Henry IV’s eldest daughter, Blanche, was soon arranged.
On March 7, 1401, the marriage contract was signed in London, and the bride’s dowry was fixed at 40,000 nobles. In 1402, prior to the wedding of Blanche and Ludwig III, it was restored by a London goldsmith, who added a twelfth rosette and replaced the missing emerald and pearls on the fleurons.
The new rosette contained 12 pearls, 3 diamonds, 3 balas rubies, and 1 sapphire. In total, 1 6⁄8 ounces (50 g) of gold were added to the crown. Blanche wore the crown at her wedding, which took place on 6 July 1402 at Cologne Cathedral in the Holy Roman Empire. In 1421, it was pawned to Maulbronn Monastery, and by that time several gems and pearls had been taken out.