Conspicuous Consumption at the Court of Henry VIII. What do first-hand accounts and sources from the 16th Century tell us about material culture in Early Modern Europe and at the Court of Henry VIII?
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This study aims to identify how first-hand accounts and sources can inform us about conspicuous consumption and material culture at the court of Henry VIII. The paper uses a broad range of sources to gather this information. Surviving first-hand accounts make up the majority of sources. Through examining and analysing existing historical evidence, in the form of: the Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, Calendars of State Papers, Inventories and Wardrobe accounts, this paper uncovers the motivations and outcomes of Henry VIII’s sartorial habits. The original sources are supported by research already undertaken on subjects of Tudor dress, by authors such as Maria Hayward and David Starkey. The paper focuses on specific aspects of the Tudor court, royal residences, courtiers. It examines elements of the king’s wardrobe, textiles, embellishments and jewellery. It explores Sumptuary Law and relations with foreign rulers. Lastly it investigates the king’s personal wardrobe and how it functioned as part of his household. The combination of these topics in relation to their topics provide a unique insight into conspicuous consumption and material culture at the court of Henry VIII.