The coronation the world is going to witness on Saturday is very much a medieval ceremony, even as it has evolved and continues to evolve over the centuries. In the medieval and Tudor periods, the coronations of kings and queens were memorialised in manuscript illuminations, paintings, etc.
The images I have compiled are contemporary or near-contemporary depictions of every coronation from Harold Godwinson, in the Bayeux Tapestry, to Elizabeth I, in the copy of her coronation portrait.
The only monarch I was unable to find any coronational depiction of was Henry VII, however I did find an illustration of him wearing his coronation robes, with his crown and sceptre. I find it curious that this was the only king without some sort of visual depiction of his coronation, considering the lengths he went to to establish the legitimacy of his reign; nothing establishes the right of a king or queen more than a coronation.
Many of the earlier images come from the ‘Flores Historiarum,’ which was begun by Roger of Wendover in the early 13th century, and then continued by Matthew Paris. Although created two centuries after the Norman Conquest, these are still the closest to contemporary images we have of the coronations of the Norman, Angevin, and early Plantagenet kings.
I have provided information about each image in the caption, so please enjoy this walk through the medieval and Tudor history of coronations.
Edward the Confessor, enthroned, with crown and sceptre.From the Bayeux Tapestry, c.1070s
The coronation of Harold Godwinson, which is believed to have taken place in the newly constructed Westminster Abbey, on the 6th January, 1066. Almost all subsequent English coronation took place in the Abbey. From the Bayeux Tapestry, c.1070s
William the Conqueror, crowned 25th December, 1066. On his right is Archbishop Aeldred of York, the other figure is not named. From the Flores Historiarum, c.13th century.
William II, crowned on the 26th September, 1087. From the Flores Historiarum, c.13th century
Henry I, crowned 5th August, 1100. From a 12th century manuscript describing his coronation.
King Stephen’s coronation, which took place on 22nd December, 1135. Archbishop William of Corbreuil, of Canterbury, stands on the right. From the Flores Historiarum, c.13th century
Henry II’s coronation, which took place on 19th December, 1154. The text makes it clear that one of the clergymen shown is Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury, thought it doesn’t specify which one. From the Flores Historiarum, c.13th century.
Henry the Young King’s coronation. He was the son of Henry II who was crowned during his father’s lifetime on 14th June, 1170, in accordance with French tradition. Henry died in rebellion against his father in 1183. The second scene shows Young Henry being served by his father, as a public demonstration of his son’s elevation. From ‘La vie de Seint Thomas de Cantorbéry,’ c.1220-40
The coronation of Richard I, also known as the Lionheart, which took place on 3rd September, 1189. After his coronation, Richard spent less than six cumulative months in England. From the Flores Historiarum, c.13th century.
King John’s coronation, on the 27th May, 1199. From the Flores Historiarum, c.13th century.
Coronation of Henry III. Due to civil war, Henry was initially crowned in a very rushed ceremony in Gloucester Cathedral on the 28th November, 1216. He was later recrowned in Westminster Abbey on the 17th May, 1220.From the ‘Chronicle of the kings of England from Edward the Confessor to Edward I,’ c.1216-1299
Edward I, crowned on the 19th August, 1274. He had ascended the throne two years earlier upon his father’s death, however he was on crusade when this happened, hence the long delay. From the Flores Historiarum, c.13th century
The coronation of Edward II, which took place on 25th February, 1308. From an English Coronation Ordo, c.14th century
Edward III’s coronation took place on 1st February, 1327. From the Chronicle of Jean Froissart, c.1470-75
The coronation of Edward III’s wife, Philippa of Hainault, took place on 18th February, 1330. I haven’t included many consort coronations, but this one caught my eye. Philippa and Edward had been married a few years by this point, but the interference of Philippa’s mother in law, Isabella of France, prevented her coronation. From the Chronicle of Jean Froissart, c.1470-75
The coronation of Richard II took place on 16th July, 1377. This panel-painting is the earliest known portrait of an English monarch, dating from the 1390s. It shows Richard in his coronation robes, seated on the Coronation Chair, crowned and with sceptre and orb
The coronation of Henry IV on the 13th October, 1399. It is believed that Henry’s coronation address was the first to be spoken in English since the Conquest. From the Chronicle of Jean Froissart, c.1470-75
Henry V was crowned on the 9th April, 1413. From Jean de Wavrin’s ‘Chroniques d’Angleterre,’ c.1470-90
Henry VI was crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey on the 6th November, 1429. As shown here, he was also crowned King of France at Notre-Dame de Paris on the 16th December, 1431. From Jean de Wavrin’s ‘Chroniques d’Angleterre,’ c.1470-90
Edward IV was crowned on 28th April, 1442. An illuminated letter in ‘Nova Statuta , 1 Edward III to 3 Henry VII,’ c.1488-89
Richard III and his wife, Anne Neville, as at their coronation, which was on the 6th July, 1483. From the Rous Roll, c.1483-84
I wasn’t able to find a portrait of Henry VII’s coronation, which took place on 30th October, 1485, however we see him here in a letter illumination, crowned, enthroned with the sceptre and in his coronation robes. c.1490
Woodcut of the coronation of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon, which took place on the 24th June, 1509, showing their heraldic badges, the Tudor rose and the pomegranate. From Stephen Hawes ‘A Joyfull Medytacvon to All Englande,’ printed Wynkyn de Worde, c.1509
Sketch of Anne Boleyn’s coronation feast, which took place on 1st June, 1533.
Medal commemorating the coronation of King Edward VI, which took place on 20 February 1547.
Mary I was crowned on the 1st October, 1553. From the Plea Roll, Court of King’s Bench, 1553
The Coronation Procession of Elizabeth I, 15th January, 1559, from a document in the College of Arms