Anne of Denmark (1574 – 1619), wife of King James VI & I, collected quite a few ‘firsts’. She was the first woman to be queen of both Scotland and England, the first crowned as Queen Consort in a Protestant ceremony in either country, the first foreign born English queen since Anne of Bohemia in 1382 who did not come from France or Iberia, and the only queen – so far, at least - to have a mother-in-law (Mary, Queen of Scots), and son, (Charles I), who were executed for treason against the English state.
Anne grew up in a country growing in influence in Europe as a leader of the northern Lutheran states, before travelling to Scotland aged just fifteen. Her marriage was in many ways successful – she and James shared an enduring affection and children they both loved, but they were not temperamentally well-suited. Anne found refuge in patronising poets, painters and architects, making the Jacobean court one of the most sophisticated in Europe. She also employed painters to record the royal family and many of their courtiers, paving the way for her son, Charles I’s, magnificent art collection.
But the court was also a place of scandal – the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury having all the elements of a Jacobean Melodrama.
Anne travelled more extensively in her kingdoms than most of her predecessors, undertaking numerous progresses in southern England during which she was frequently entertained with masques and tableaux, both professional and amateur. She was even an early supporter of taking the waters at Bath.
Listen to our editor, Melita Thomas, discussing Anne of Denmark with Heather Teysko of the Renaissance English History Podcast.