Music for King Henry VIII - Royal Choirbook

Music for King Henry - Royal Choirbook – The Folio Society – Royal MS 11 E XI – British Library (London, United Kingdom)

Antwerp (Belgium) β€” 1516

The magnificent gift from a Dutch merchant to King Henry VIII: a unique work of Renaissance music for one of its greatest patrons

  1. A gift from an Antwerp merchant named Petrus de Opitiis and his son Benedictus to Henry VIII (1491–1547)

  2. The manuscript is adorned with gorgeous paintings with an unmitigated connection to Henry VIII's life

  3. Six of the songs were composed for the King, one of the greatest musical patrons of Renaissance Europe

Music for King Henry VIII - Royal Choirbook

Facsimile Copy Available!
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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Music for King Henry VIII - Royal Choirbook

The English King Henry VIII was known as a great lover of music. A wonderful manuscript offers a glimpse into this passion of the King’s and into his biography and personality: the so-called Royal Choirbook. This manuscript was a gift from an Antwerp merchant named Petrus de Opitiis and his son Benedictus to Henry VIII. It contained six Latin motets, which were expressly composed for the King. Additionally, the manuscript is adorned with gorgeous paintings, which produce an unmitigated connection to Henry VIII, his family, and his life. A unique testimonial to the great musical tradition of England, which Henry VIII co-founded!

Music for King Henry - Royal Choirbook

The English King Henry VIII was known as a great lover of music. A wonderful manuscript offers a glimpse into this passion of the King’s and into his biography and personality: the so-called Royal Choirbook. This manuscript was a gift from an Antwerp merchant named Petrus de Opitiis and his son Benedictus to Henry VIII. It contained six Latin motets, which were expressly composed for the King. Additionally, the manuscript is adorned with gorgeous paintings, which produce an unmitigated connection to Henry VIII, his family, and his life. A unique testimonial to the great musical tradition of England, which Henry VIII co-founded!

The Musical King

Henry VIII (1491–1547), famous King of England, was a great lover of music. Henry played the harp passionately and enthusiastically composed pieces of music. Additionally, he was one of the greatest patrons of the musical arts in Europe of his time, he had 58 court musicians appointed. His fascination with music inspired him to found a great musical tradition in England. This Royal Choirbook, which was gifted to him, directly conveys this love of music.

A Personal Gift for the King

The manuscript with the shelf mark MS 11 E XI of the British Library in London originated in Flemish Antwerp in 1516 at the behest of Petrus de Opitiis. This Antwerp merchant probably wanted to make his son Benedictus, a gifted organist, known to the King or to thank the King for a favor done for Benedictus. The Royal Choirbook contains six wonderful Latin motets. These pieces for a choir – works by Benedictus de Opitiis and a composer named Sampson, who probably came from the Netherlands according to the latest research – was specifically composed for the King and whose contents also have an unmitigated connection to the circumstances of his life. This gift was presented in 1518.

Red Roses and Fine Gold

These musical pieces are also illustrated in a magnificently artistic manner on 36 pages of parchment measuring 49.5 x 34.5 cm. The gorgeously heraldic dΓ©cor with qualitatively outstanding miniatures makes the Royal Choirbook of Henry VIII an exceptional book! Among other decorations, a gorgeous frontispiece adorns the manuscript: three roses – one red, the red of Lancaster, a red-white rose as symbol of the unification of the houses of York and Lancaster, and a crowned rose as a symbol for the King Henry himself – adorn the page and a pomegranate tree symbolizes Henry’s spouse Catherine of Aragon. The red roses are found distributed throughout the entire manuscript and thus celebrate the Tudor dynasty, which is praised in the songs and honored in the miniatures!

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Musik fΓΌr Heinrich VIII. - KΓΆnigliches Chorbuch
Motets by Magister Sampson and others
The Royal Choirbook
Size / Format
36 pages / 49.5 Γ— 34.5 cm
Origin
Belgium
Date
1516
Genre
Language
Illustrations
1 full-page miniature of the Tudor rose, 2 miniatures of Lancaster roses surrounded by couplets with music inscribed on two circular staves, 1 historiated initial of the Virgin and Child, and numerous decorvative initials; all in rich colors and gold leaf
Patron
Petrus de Opitiis, a Flemish-Italian merchant
Artist / School
Previous Owners
King Henry VIII (1491–1547)
Catherine of Aragon (1485–1536)
Old Royal Library
King George II (1683–1760)

Available facsimile editions:
Music for King Henry - Royal Choirbook – The Folio Society – Royal MS 11 E XI – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
The Folio Society – London, 2009
Limited Edition: 500 copies
Detail Picture

Music for King Henry - Royal Choirbook

β€œS” Initial – Madonna and Child

With a serene look on her face, the Virgin Mary holds a red rose between her thumb and index finger as the baby Jesus reaches out for it. They are surrounded by a light blue aura interrupting the letter, which is created with leafy embellishments. Using five-line staves, the musical notation of a motet dedicated to the Virgin by Benedictus de Opitiis is surprisingly modern with the notes indicating both melody and rhythm – a testament to the advanced state of 16th century English music.

Music for King Henry - Royal Choirbook – The Folio Society – Royal MS 11 E XI – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Single Page

Music for King Henry - Royal Choirbook

The Tudor Rose

This allegorical miniature is found at the beginning of the songbook and is dense with symbolism. The walled garden represents peace and the Tudor Rose is a symbol of the reconciliation between the House of York (white rose) and House of Lancaster (Red rose), whose dynastic rivalry was at the root of the Wars of the Roses.

Other flowers represent members of the royal family: daises and marigolds for his sisters Margaret and Mary, a pomegranate bush for his wife Catherine of Aragon. Surrounded by water, this garden is the Kingdom of England, as indicated by flags with St. George’s cross as well as the escutcheons of the King and Queen. Flanked by a dragon and a greyhound, a lion guards the gateway, which is inscribed with Salve Felix Anglia.

Music for King Henry - Royal Choirbook – The Folio Society – Royal MS 11 E XI – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Music for King Henry - Royal Choirbook

The Folio Society – London, 2009
Music for King Henry - Royal Choirbook – The Folio Society – Royal MS 11 E XI – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Music for King Henry - Royal Choirbook – The Folio Society – Royal MS 11 E XI – British Library (London, United Kingdom) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: The Folio Society – London, 2009
Limited Edition: 500 copies
Binding: Vegetable parchment binding with buckram spine. Sides blocked in gold and colored foils. Gilded edges. Presented in a slipcase blocked in gold.
Commentary: 1 volume (120 pages) by Nicolas Bell
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding. With CD recording by the β€œAlamire Consort” directed by Dr. David Skinner.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €
(under 1,000€)
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