Dressed to Impress

  • Maria Hayward
Part of the Queenship and Power book series (QAP)


According to Sir Thomas Elyot, in his Boke Named the Governor (1531), the imperial crown was the most potent symbol of Tudor authority. Second in importance were the monarch’s coronation robes because “we be men and nay aungels, wherefore we knowe nothinge but by outwarde significations.” He went on to state that “reporte is nat so commune a token as apparayle.”1 With these words, Elyot preempted the ideas of a range of more recent theorists who have seen clothes as signifying power, authority, and the right to rule.2 He also echoed ideas about clothes and the ways in which they could be used to emphasize royal magnificence that were expressed by writers such as Sir John Fortescue.3 Equally significant, but not touched upon by either writer, was the way in which the monarch could exploit the changing sixteenth-century fashions to set themselves apart from the rest of their court.


Henry VIII Visual History Religious Devotion Potent Symbol Black Velvet 
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© Anna Whitelock and Alice Hunt 2010

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  • Maria Hayward

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