In brief – Early-Stuart London

The procession of Marie de Medici, widow of the late King Henry IV of France, passes the Eleanor Cross and the Standard in Cheapside, 1638. By that stage in Marie’s life the once powerful Queen of France was living in exile and came to England seeking refuge, which she was granted by King Charles I and her daughter Queen Henrietta Maria. The illustration is from the book ‘Histoire de l’Entrée de la Reyne Mère du Roy tres-chrestien dans la Grande-Bretagne’ by Jean Puget de la Serre, which recounts Marie’s travels.

The early postal services, dating back to the time of Henry VIII, were only for royal and government use. It was a proclamation from King Charles in 1635 that established a public postal service under the jurisdiction of the monarch. Letters were carried according to a published timetable and the first General Post Office in London was located near Dowgate, later moving to Threadneedle Street.

Charles I was an extravagant patron of the arts and brought two of Europe’s most famous artists, Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony Van Dyke, to London. From 1632 until his death Van Dyke lived at Blackfriars, working as the principle painter to the royal court.

The technical ability of artists and map-makers improved rapidly during the early 17th century and a number of bird’s-eye views of London from above Southwark looking north were made, becoming known as ‘panoramas’. The Bohemian-born artist Wenceslas Hollar was very prolific in London from 1636, providing us with fine prints of London during and after the Great Fire.

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