This is a transcript of a talk I gave at Riddles Court in Edinburgh and Jesus College, Oxford, in 2019 about Anna of Denmark in Scotland, 1589 to 1603

Anna Waldegrave 1597 BMIntroduction

In Scotland Anna of Denmark had her own household separate from the kings’. These people lived with her and worked with her. An ambassador called it ‘her small family.’ The council of Denmark and her mother Sophie of Mecklenberg had organised a small household on her departure. After her coronation in May 1590 she was said to enjoy a ‘partial solitariness’ with Scottish ladies banished ‘clean from her’ and in the following months some of the Danish retinue departed, and some were replaced.

In the Autumn of 1590 a new larger household was formed by the Chancellor, John Maitland of Thirlestane, under the direction of Queen Sophie. We know a lot about the people of household, and especially what they wore, and where they ate their meals, which tells us about their relative status, and how Anna managed her public image by dressing her ladies in waiting and servants. Imagination is required however, because we don’t have many portraits or objects from this period.

It is appropriate to consider this a separate court, where, Anna received ambassadors without James, and from this context we get a sense of her presence and authority.

She first learned French to write to James, writing two letters from Norway in 1589 that survive, then learned Scots “as good as any court lady” and gained a reputation for diplomatic skills, in 1592 a Jesuit reported in Spain that she was “more sensible and discreet than James”, and John Colville said she was better than James at dissembling.

Showing less discretion, in February 1593 she listened to Lord Borough talk on the Spanish peril and gave him “ill grace both of words and looks” and in 1596 it was noted that she would not look at the side of the room where her enemy the Earl of Mar was standing. These are indications that her glances and appearance were keenly observed.

Anna was less mobile than James, and rarely stayed away from the royal palaces in the Forth valley, venturing no further than Perth. The larger palaces where Anna stayed would have accommodated the two households in separate lodgings, and there glimpses of palace life for the couple, especially when things went wrong – an incident at Dalkeith mentions their shared bedchamber – and when the Earl of Bothwell attacked Holyroodhouse his men “violently broke down with hammers the doors of the inner bedchamber of our dearest queen”.

 Court Finances

Anna had at least 25 Danish household servants, and this is the same as the number of English servants allowed in Margaret Tudor’s marriage contract in 1503. Two royal households were a burden on the Scottish royal income. In 1592 the exchequer investigated the expenses of both households and recommended that Anna dress like her mother Sophie of Mecklenberg, and James like his grandfather James V. This was not literal fashion advice and meant only that their expenditure ought to be proportionate to their income, as both Sophie and James V had positive financial reputations.

The National Library of Scotlands has an estimate for a year’s food and fees, and is based on tables for dinner where the household sat at dinner, divided on lines of gender, nationality and personal rank.

Anna ate alone or in an inner chamber with her ladies or maidens, and guests. There were tables for ladies, the gentlewomen, and another for the maidens or damsels of the chamber, some of whom did the queen’s laundry, while other ‘maidens of honour’ were aristocratic, and the relative status of people in the household can be difficult to assess – the costume record adds problems and solutions to this issue.

There was a Danish master cook and also a Danish female cook called Marion, perhaps like James’ Christene Lindsay who supplied him with shortbread. Food accounts survive for a few months in 1598 and the most expensive day was the wedding of the Danish preacher Hans Sering and Danish maiden Anna Ellis, with £57 spent on sweetmeats, and the whole day’s food cost five times as much as usual. The day was recorded as the wedding of Hairy Hans and Little Anna, nicknames indicative of of affection or perhaps resentment from the household clerks.

The Master Household’s report

Anna of Denmark Oxford talk detail

Certainly the Masters of Household complained that others were paid more for easier duties, and were open about their greivances. They considered their own work more painful and honourable, than others, and this perceived honour was another dimension of status in the household. An extra £100 a year would settle this.

Their report to the lords of exchequer demonstrates tension and rivalry in household over status. The gifts of clothing that Anna made weren’t helping, because the Scottish masters of household and gentleman attendants had to buy their own clothes, while the overpaid Danish secretariat were given fine black clothing.

 The table for Danish servants

Among the Danish servants Anna had a goldsmith, Jacob Kruger, a furrier, the keeper of her wardrobe, Soren Jonson, her tailor Paul Ray, and four tailor’s servants, and a carpenter called Frederick.  Frederick is mentioned in Denmark in 1590, and may have looked after Anna’s furniture and coffers, he was described as a wright, and as a turner.

These craftsmen were concerned with dress and display, underlining this priority for Anna.

Demonstrating an urge to surround Anna in Danish culture, and reliable workmanship, their inclusion was perhaps prompted by her lack of the Scots language and inability to express her needs to local tailors and others. Over the years their numbers dwindled, the, and Anna used tailors and goldsmiths outside the household like George Heriot.

Jacob Kruger complaining of a lack of pay in 1594, stole some of Anna’s jewels and ran away from Holyroodhouse to England with a French servant in the king’s stable, Guillaume Martin. James asked the authorities in Berwick to arrest them, and Kruger supplied an inventory of the stolen jewels.

He told John Carey, an English official, that he had made some of the items, he had lots of gold buttons and aglets, and the wings of gown embroidered with pearls, a pair of blue sleeves, and a pearl necklace to go twice around the queen’s neck.

Kruger probably took the buttons, in a red bag with a draw string, because they would be easy to exchange, but they also fit with the idea that he and the Danish tailors dressed the queen. Clothing with pearl embroidery and aglets doesn’t much feature in later records of Anna’s wardrobe in England, so these were probably in items in Danish or Elizabethan style, and Anna’s style developed to use less of this applied ornament.

The elaborated style peaked in July 1597, with a gown embroidered with jet beads. This was rejected as “over heavy”, too heavy for Anna to wear. It involved 27 ells of jet passments and 360 long jet buttons with brown silk tags. The light-weight replacement gown had four gross of smaller jet horns, and no heavy jet passments.

 Danish Fashion: French Fashion: Joussie’s account.

Costumes, annual liveries, for some of Anna’s servants were provided by the Scottish exchequer, and the allowances were made according to the custom of Denmark. The fabric, pattern and style of these liveries, called “common, linen and silk liveries”, would have been in Danish fashion, and not like those worn by the king’s servants. Her Danish secretary Calixtus complained he had not been given his silk livery before he left Denmark.

We know a lot more about the clothes Anna ordered for her and her servants, from accounts made by a merchant Robert Joussie and his goldsmith partner Thomas Foulis. They were financed by money sent by Elizabeth of England, and by loans from Edinburgh people, including the poet John Burel, and Bartholomew Kello, the husband of the calligrapher Esther Inglis.

The clothes were made at first by her Danish tailor Paul Ray. He once made Anna a ‘fine black Genoese sattin … goun of the Dence fassone’. It had fore-loops, probably braid and frogging around buttons on the bodice. The national style of other outfits was not noted.

However in August 1594 Anna was wearing gowns of the French fashion, suitable for a new style of necklace, as if her costume had previously been Danish or German. Clearly, the Danish outfits had something going on the front, with fore loops or wings, that affected how necklaces and chains were worn.

Sophie of Brunswick-Luneberg

German and Danish costume in the 1590s mostly looked like this, Sophie of Luneberg, a second cousin of Anna’s, often including a black outer gown closed at the neck. Anna’s costume in the accounts does seem to reflect this kind of outfit, with some black gowns without sleeves.

And this engraving dated 1595 purports to show Anna in that Germanic style of costume, wearing a diamond feather jewel in her hair, her hair apparently piled up.


This portrait, although clearly inscribed Queen of England, may include an older style costume, with pearl embroidery on the outer garment, and ruby and diamond studs on the gown. The pendant with the diamond lozenge and cabochon ruby seems to be the Great H of  Scotland, a well-known jewel dismantled in 1606, which Anna had worn in the 1590s,

Her household, at least in the first four years, may well have appeared distinctively foreign, which would have pleased that sector of the population who supported the marriage over French options, and bolstered her independent identity.

This Anna fanclub was strong in Edinburgh, where merchants had lobbied the chancellor in favour of the marriage, hoping for reduced custom charges, and some continued to loan money to Foulis for the household.

John McMoran, the shipping magnate who built Riddle’s Court was an enthusiast for the Danish marriage, although he had some French furniture in his house. He was the organiser of a banquet in 1590 given by the town after Anna’s coronation, for her and the Danish ambassadors. That banquet was heldd in a house in the Cowgate. In 1598 he hosted the king, queen and her younger brother Ulrik duke of Holstein in this house.

It was intended that Ulrik would leave Edinburgh with a Scottish embassy to Denmark and German states, bringing closer ties, and in particular to seek a promise of aid to put James VI on the English throne. Anna’s court was many things, and it was became an emblem for these objectives.

Although Foulis and Joussie went bust in 1598, this didn’t immediately disturb their supply of fabrics and costume to the court. In 1599 their agent was in London, and bought a carved sapphire with a portrait of Elizabeth.

Elizabeth claimed affinity with Anna as a queen, and in her letters had emphasised she was a “stranger in Scotland with no blood relations, or persons of quality to deal with her in delicate political matters”. Anna’s letters in return were grateful, requesting her portrait, and in 1599 she bought a sapphire carved with Elizabeth’s portrait, in London with Elizabeth’s money. This was gesture conceived as flattery, after the 1598 embassy to Germany had caused offence, by anticipating her death, and Anna perhaps wore a sapphire portrait when the English ambassador was around.

The maker Cornelius ‘Deady’ or ‘Dreghe’ seems to have been an associate of Abraham Hardrett, who became a royal jeweller after 1603.

Thomas Riis and Amy Juhala dipped into the costume record and noted the rich clothing and tabulated the expense. But there are other insights, hard to spot without a close reading

Wearing of matching outfits was frequent, perhaps a kind of daily choreography in the queen’s audience chamber, and so the women of court echoed the queen’s appearance.

Christene, a Danish maiden in the queen’s chamber had a summer gown made with the same silk camlet as two maidens of the chamber both called Anna. Queen Anna had at least four maiden called Anna.

On 13 June 1592 matching outfits were ordered for the queen, Marie Stewart, and the Danish maiden Margaret Winster. All three wore gowns in orange damask with green satin sleeves, embroidered with silver cordons. The queen’s outfit used slightly more fabric, almost certainly because it was more elaborate in design, but the gowns were otherwise nearly identical. Marie was the daughter of the James’ favourite Esme Stewart, and Margaret was not of equivalent rank, and the costume gift was appropriate to occasion, rather than status.

A month later the Earl of Argyll married Agnes Douglas, but Anna (as far I can tell) did not attend this wedding. There are very few Scottish portraits of the 1590s, and this one outfit is very dark, but I think suggesting that women of court dressed like Anna is uncontroversial, especially in regard to hair and the wearing of wires or tires.


Anna had horses for riding, and a coach with nine horses, and was said to ride between houses. Her equestrian activity shaped the household, since two of her maidens rode with her, and the Danish and German lackeys presumably also waited in her lodgings.

Anna had riding cloaks and safeguard skirts, incarnate pink satin in summer, and tanny orange London cloth in winter, embroidered with gold cordons, and she wore masks of black satin to protect her complexion.

Her Danish maidens of honour Margaret Winster and Christene were dressed to ride with her, but in cheaper woollen cloth, with skirts embroidered with gold and velvet trim.

Apart from routine travel, Anna rode at more formal events, she went hunting with James in May 1590 in sight of the Danish ships, as part of a planned spectacle, and the English ambassador was invited to this pastime.

At the time of the baptism of Prince Henry in 1594 Anna had a taffeta gown with blue satin sleeves gown made for riding at Stirling.

Anna’s everyday riding with her Danish maidens and lackeys, would have been a common and colourful sight, familiar to the people of Edinburgh and elsewhere, and a regular opportunity for display and projecting her image, which included her identity as a Danish princess as much as the consort of the Scottish king.

Masque dancing

In September 1591 Anna had masque costumes made with four colours of taffeta, grey, green, blue and yellow, with  silver and gold cloth, and red and white feathers, perhaps for six masquers.

Entertainment at the baptism of Prince Henry  at Stirling Castle on 30 August 1594 involved six ‘Gallant dames’ dressed in similar fabrics, ‘who represented a silent Comedie, three of them clothed in Argentyne Saten, and three in Crimson Saten: All these six garments, were enriched with Togue and Tinsal, of pure gold and silver,’

Anna’s masque was probably for a wedding. James VI also had a masque costume made this year, and the accounts explain the occasion was a wedding, where he danced with his valet, rather than Anna.

The Masque at Alloa

This costume for “maskery” was bought in December 1592, either for Anna’s birthday celebrations on the 12th, or perhaps more likely, for the wedding of her aristocratic maiden of honour Marie Stuart, daughter of Esme Duke of Lennox, to the Earl of Mar. Once again tok fabric was used, the go-to fabric for Scottish masquing in the 1590s.

Item the Nynt of December 1592, twenty five ellis quarter and half quarter taffeteis of the cord to be your majestie maskrie claithis  ____ £68-13-4.

Item 21 ellis of gold tock to thir maskrie claithis ____ £42.

Item 6 ellis of quhyt Florence ribanes to thir claithis ___ 24s.

The wedding was celebrated at Alloa, said to have been held in ‘quiet manner’ by the English ambassador.

We know that Anna also held birthday celebrations, because in 1596 it was proposed to combine the event with Princess Elizabeth’s christening.

Marriages: Dowry: Jean Stewart (Lady Bargany and Ardstinchar)

Anna played a role in organising marriages for her women, especially those whose fathers were deceased. This could become complicated.

When Jean Stewart, daughter of  Lord Ochiltree, married Gilbert Kennedy of Bargany, this was described as a punishment for his father’s involvement in a riot in 1596, as she had no dowry.

Two Kennedy chronicles have the story, that James ‘was so heavily offended, the laird of Bargany wes forfitt to marry his eldest sone on the Queen’s Maiden Jonet Stewart, which was a great wreck to the house, other nor he got a good woman.’

It’s true that Anna worked to provide a dowry for Jean, first asking James for the forfeit of another rioter, and when this money was given to another, she arranged a loan encouraging Sir Robert Stewart of Traquair, Jean’s sister-in-law, to be a cautioner for the sum. Anna still felt an obligation to Traquair in 1615, and hoped James would settle the debt. Jean Drummond, countess of Roxburghe, explained that Anna had done this because ‘the gentlewoman being married out of her company’ as if it was usual for Anna to get involved in borrowing money to pay dowries for her maidens.

Anna had bought gowns of velvet for Jean Stewart in previous years. For the wedding James bought her a black velvet gown which cost £614 in materials.

When her sister Margaret married Robert Stewart of Traquair she did better, getting clothes costing £772. And, another Jean Stewart, daughter of James Stewart of Doune, and reckoned a closer relation to James, was given a lavish three-tailed purple velvet gown involving more fabric and passmenterie costing £797.

James and Anna spent £2332 on clothes for Anne Murray, who married Lord Glamis, who was not part of the queen’s household. She was said to be the king’s mistress, and the wedding was intended to be a big event at Stirling Castle, reconciling faction, which didn’t work out and James and Anna didn’t attend.

These gifts of clothing depended on Anna’s favour, and allow analysis of the relative status of the women in the household, the political value of the marriages, and the weddings as spectacle.

In a slightly different political context, Anna was friends with Henrietta Stuart, Lady Huntly, sister of her lady in waiting, Marie Stewart. She picked Henrietta to be a witness at the christening of Princess Elizabeth in November 1596, with Beatrix Ruthven, and Beatrix was bought an elaborate gown for the event.

The Earl of Huntly was a rebel, for his catholic beliefs, and his son Lord Gordon was lodged with Anna as a hostage for his parent’s behaviour and religious compliance. She bought him a lavish purple velvet coat with gold braid for the button loops. This was a strong signal of her kindly disposition to the Henrietta and the Earl, and undermined measures demanded against the couple demanded by kirk. An indication of  her personal friendship with Henrietta, and by extension, support for the Catholic cause in Scotland.

The German Lackeys.

Anna bought costumes of four lackeys, servants who rode alongside her and her coach, William and Hans the Danish lackeys wore gray.

In May 1591 an outfit was bought for the Duke of Brunswick’s lackey. His doublet and breeches were made of green damask, and the trimmings were also green. The Duke of Brunswick-Luneberg was Anna’s brother-in-law.

In September 1593 an outfit in blue velvet and orange satin with yellow hose was ordered, and again in December 1594 for Jacob, described as the Duke of Mecklenburg’s lackey. The duke was Anna’s grandfather.

Green was the colour used to decorate the seat and desk of the Brunswick ambassador at the baptism of Prince Henry in 1594, and so the colour of the lackey’s outfit somehow represented the duchy. The blue lackey’s outfit presumably represented Mecklenburg in some way.

Royal lackeys in Scotland were usually dressed in yellow and red, the colours of the Stewart heraldry, and the traditional Stuart household livery since the time of James V and presumably earlier.

In September 1589 James had commissioned saddles and garments for pages and lackeys for Anna in red and yellow.  At her coronation six pages wore red velvet, their cloaks lined with yellow and scarlet, and red hats with yellow strings and four lackeys wore the same colours. But afterwards, no one in Anna’s household wore Stewart red and yellow,

The colours used by Anna’s German lackeys are likely to reflect colours used at the respective courts. Their liveries promoted and maintained her wider European identity in the state rooms of the Scottish royal palaces and when she travelled by coach or horse, asserting her Oldenburg identity.

In conclusion, the costume accounts show that Anna was able to dress her court as she wished, carefully curating its appearance, and the dress of ladies and servants, while also able to use gifts of clothes to reward and encourage loyalty.


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