The Tudor Rose
March 29, 1461
Duke Edward of York defeats the Lancastrian army of King Henry VI at the Battle of Towton, one of many battles in England’s Wars of the Roses.
“The Tudor rose, seen on so many British embroideries from the late fifteenth century to the present, is a hybrid of the floral heraldic badges of two feuding branches of the royal Plantagenet dynasty, the Yorks and the Lancasters. For thirty years, the rivals fought for the grandest prize of all—the royal crown of England.” This is from Elly Smith’s article, “The Tudor Rose Motif in History and Needlework,” found in the May/June 2000 issue of PieceWork.
The two families had incorporated roses into their heraldic badges: a white rose for the Yorks and a red one for the Lancasters. When peace finally reigned, the white and red roses were combined into one flower called the “Tudor rose,” and the Tudor family came to power.
Elly’s article chronicles the history of these two families and the long-standing popularity of the Tudor rose emblem in paintings, stained-glass windows, wood, stone, and embroidery. Among the embroidered objects with the Tudor rose motif depicted in Elly’s article are a jacket worn by Margaret Laton (1579–1641), now in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O11095/the-layton-jacket-jacket-unknown). For another exquisite example of the use of the Tudor-rose motif, see the Victorian restoration of a 16th-century embroidered bookbinding. The image is included in English Embroidered Bookbindings by Cyril James Humphries Davenport (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner and Company, 1899) and may be seen in this Wikipedia article. The binding was on Historia Ecclesiastica written by John Christopherson (unknown–1558), bishop of Chichester, which was printed in 1569.
Elly’s companion project to her article is a cross-stitched wedding sampler: “This Renaissance wedding or anniversary ‘exemplar’ celebrates the golden era of sample making and the Tudor-rose motif.” Wedding season is right around the corner. Complete instructions to make this gorgeous sampler are in the May/June 2000 issue.
Long live the Tudor rose!
Explore more about Tudor-era needlework in these issues of PieceWork!