Wedding Suit of James II
The wedding suit of James II includes two items of an ensemble that James, the then Duke of York, wore to his wedding in 1673. It represented a new fashion in men’s wear introduced by the Duke’s older brother, Charles II.
The style came from France, where it derived from a version of a military coat made fashionable by Louis XIV.
The Duke of York married for the second time in 1673 to Mary of Modena, a fifteen-year-old Italian princess. James and Mary were married by proxy in a Roman Catholic ceremony.
When Mary arrived in England, the Bishop of Oxford performed a brief Anglican service that did little more than recognize the marriage by proxy.
Many British people, distrustful of Catholicism, regarded the new Duchess of York as a Papacy agent.
James was noted for his devotion. He once said,
“If the occasion were, I hope God would give me his grace to suffer death for the true Catholic religion as well as banishment.”
Only the Duke’s closest supporters attended, and the Duke of York wore this coat and breeches.
The design of stylized flowers and leaves is not symmetrical. It was drawn freehand and not transferred from a printed pattern. Couching attaches the silver and silver-gilt threads to the surface of the fabric.
Tiny strips of parchment wrapped in metal thread give the embroidery a three-dimensional effect.
James II (1633 – 1701) was King of England and Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 1685 until he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
He was the last Catholic monarch of England, Scotland, and Ireland; his reign is now remembered primarily for religious tolerance struggles.
Wedding suit of James II
- Title: Wedding suit of James II
- Date: 1673
- Origin: England
- Materials: Wool, embroidered with silver and silver-gilt thread and lined with red silk
- Museum: Victoria and Albert Museum
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