18 February 2011

18 February - Queen Mary I of England; Caudle

Astronomy: Full Snow Moon

"God give good life and long unto the right high, right noble, and right excellent Princess Mary, Princess of England and daughter of our sovereign lord the King..."

Today in 1516, in the royal palace at Greenwich, a daughter was born to King Henry VIII of England and his queen Catherine of Aragon.  Two days later, the baby was christened in the Church of the Observant Friars at Greenwich, and named Mary after her aunt, the beautiful Princess Mary Tudor, dowager Queen of France and Duchess of Suffolk.

The baby's sponsor was Margaret Plantagenet Pole, Countess of Salisbury (daughter of Henry's maternal grand-uncle Clarence); her godmother was Catherine Plantagenet Courtney, Countess of Devon (Henry's maternal aunt).  A second godmother was the Duchess of Norfolk; Mary's godfather was the powerful Cardinal Wolsey.

She is reputed to have been not only a beautiful child, but also intelligent and precocious.  Both Henry and Catherine doted on her and took great pains with her education.  As the child of parents noted for their learning, she was tutored in various languages - Latin, Greek, French, Spanish, and Italian, musical instruments and dance, religion and philosophy, and read the Bible, especially the New Testament, writings of the early Church Fathers, and the works of Cicero, Seneca, Plutarch, and Plato.

From the start of her life, she was considered a useful pawn for alliances with the European powers, and just short of her third birthday was formally betrothed to the 7-month-old son and heir of the King of France; within two years it was set aside.  At the age of 6, she was just as formally betrothed as part of a treaty to her 22-year-old cousin, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, but this again lasted only long enough to ensure an alliance between the two sovereigns; Charles married his (and Mary's) cousin Isabella of Portugal in 1526.
Mary about the time of her engagement to Charles V
In 1525, the 9-year-old princess was sent to Ludlow in Wales to hold court there and to preside over the Council of Wales and the Marches.  While she was never formally invested as the Princess of Wales, this move was considered by many as Henry's acknowledgment of his daughter as Heiress Presumptive.

To secure a new alliance with the French in 1527, Mary was promised in marriage to either King Francois of France, or to his second son Henri; this also fell through, and the alliance was made without her having to marry either man.  A year previously, Mary's father (wondering if maybe the lack of a living son was Heaven's way of disapproving of his marriage to his brother's widow) had started the process which would end in 1533 with an annulment from Mary's mother, depriving the teenage girl of both her mother and her position. 

Overnight she went from Princess Mary to Lady Mary, bastard daughter of the king.  This considerably lowered her attractiveness in the royal marriage mart, even though most of Europe considered her Henry's legitimate daughter.  There were other abortive negotiations in the succeeding years, and Mary, wondering if she would ever be married lamented, "...there was nothing to be got but fine words and while my father lives, I shall be only the Lady Mary, the most unhappy lady in Christendom."

You know the rest of the story, and if not, go here or here or here.
CAUDLE was a popular drink from at least the Middle Ages through the beginning of the 19th century, and was considered especially nourishing for invalids, including women in childbed.  Those visiting the newborn were also offered caudle as part of the refreshments.  It was a thick drink, of a texture between thin pudding and eggnog, most often made with eggs (although not invariably), mixed with warm wine or ale, with additions of sugar and spices.

Here is a medieval recipe for caudle as printed in "Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books" edited by Thomas Austin and found here at Internet Archive:

This recipe mixes almond milk with wine (red or white) and a few beaten egg yolks, some sugar and a little salt.  The mixture is cooked until almost boiling and then served with a sprinkling of 'Alkenade' (a red dye made from the root of the alkenet plant).  If the cook wanted a thicker mixture ('chargeaunt'), he could mix in rice flour or wheat flour.  The caudle could also be colored with a little saffron while cooking and sprinkled with ground spice and sugar before serving.

In honor of the newborn Princess, here is an easy recipe for CAUDLE:

Lightly beat 4 egg yolks.  Fill the bottom part of a double boiler with water and heat to simmering. In the top part of the double boiler, mix the beaten yolks with 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of white wine [I like Riesling] and a pinch of saffron.  Cook over the simmering water, beating constantly with a wire whip or an egg beater, until the mixture thickens slightly and is soft and fluffy (about 10 minutes).  Serve immediately in glasses or small cups.  Sprinkle a little ground nutmeg or cinnamon on each serving, if preferred.