Information on A Lawde and Prayse Made fo Our Sovereigne Lord the Kyng

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Introduction and Background to

The poem is taken from PRO Records of the Treasury of the Receipt of the Exchequer MS E 36-228 which may be an autograph copy of Skelton (Scattergood 419).

It is not entirely certain when the text was written but since it deals with the coronation of Henry VIII it is likely that it was written shortly after 24 June 1509: the day that Henry was crowned. In any case, it is clear that the poem was composed in the year 1509.

A Lawde and Prayse Made for Our Sovereigne Lord the Kyng , besides being a panegyric poem, is especially a tool in Skelton’s attempt to gain a position at court. The poem, about Henry’s coronation, starts with a well-known theme of the early modern period: “the metaphorical theme of the union of the red and white rose” (Robinson 44). This indicates the union of two houses, Lancaster and York, under one monarch, Henry VII and it can be said that his son, Henry VIII, embodies the roses of both colours. Moreover, the numerous references to classical characters was purely a device to return in the king’s favour. However, Skelton does not only praise the new King but also refers to previous actions, since:

Throughout the poem, the rhetorical strategy of praise and flattery is reinforced by that of creating a dichotomy between past and present in a rejection of the past that serves as a negative folio, as Lusse points out, against which Henry’s good character and virtue ‘stands as a paragon of a perfect prince’ (Robinson 46).

Interesting, however, is that Skelton’s poem had no effect on his position at court. This can be concluded from the fact that a few years later at the birthday of Henry VIII in 1511 (Walker 44), Skelton provided a rich gift as “he … sent a small leather booklet to the king which contained a revised copy of his Speculum Principis, written in 1502, the epigram Ad Tanti Principis Maiestatem, composed between 1494 and 1502, and the poem praising Henry, Palinodium of 1509” (Robinson 46). This gift indicates the importance of a powerful position at court since that booklet must have cost a fortune for an ordinary clergyman (46).