The King's Glass
A Story of Tudor Power and Secret Art
Monarchs and makers. The tense, captivating story of the glorious windows of the King's College Chapel, Cambridge.
Each year more than 250,000 people visit the Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, one of Europe’s best-known buildings. This book tells the untold story of the Chapel’s crowning glory, its stained glass windows, and of the people who created them – the triumphant culmination of a project completed despite wars, the death of kings and violent religious conflict. The glass symbolises the power of the Tudors, and is a mirror of their souls. Planned by Henry VII and continued by Henry VIII, the windows are dynastic propaganda, simultaneously blatant and subtle, boasting the ancient lineage of an upstart monarchy. Their unfolding scenes honoured the Catholic faith that Henry VIII was challenging in the 1530s, when he made himself head of the church to marry Anne Boleyn. The windows show how Henry commemorated his wives in art, then airbrushed them out when they fell from favour, and how he recruited leading artists to make this England’s response to the Sistine Chapel.
The great ‘King’s Glass’ also flaunts the skills of its makers, many of them innovative immigrants. It is a tale of guilds and artisans as well as of the court. It is, too, a history of England, reflecting change, conflict and modernity in the sixteenth century. Exploring the stories behind these luminous treasures, this fascinating book, as vivid as a novel, uncovers the power struggles behind the beauty of the past.