House of Stuart

In March Royal Mail released the House of Stewart stamps, celebrating the Scottish monarchs who reigned from 1406 to 1625. Today a follow-up set is released, the House of Stuart. 

When Elizabeth I of England, the last of the Tudor monarchs, died childless in 1603, the Stewarts inherited the English throne. Later that year came The Union of the Crowns between England and Scotland, with King James VI of Scotland becoming James I of England. This signalled the start of the House of Stuart’s turbulent reign which would last until the death of Queen Anne in 1714.

The six Stuart monarchs: James I, Charles I, Charles II, James II, William III, Mary II and Anne

The six Stuart monarchs: James I, Charles I, Charles II, James II, William III, Mary II and Anne

Accompanying this stamp issue is a miniature sheet, The Age of the Stuarts, featuring the physician William Harvey, poet John Milton, architect and dramatist John Vanbrugh and the Battle of Naseby.

The Age of the Stuarts miniature sheet

The Age of the Stuarts miniature sheet

William Harvey was the first person to accurately describe the circulation of the blood. His description was published in the book De Motu Cordis (On the Motion of the Heart and Blood) in 1628. Harvey was also Physician to James I, and later to Charles I. He continued in this post until around the time of the Battle of Naseby, one of the most decisive battles of the English Civil Wars, which saw the Royalists all but destroyed by the Parliamentarians.

The English Civil Wars were previously commemorated on stamps in 1992

The English Civil Wars were previously commemorated on stamps in 1992

One of the beneficiaries of the Royalists eventual defeat was John Milton, a poet and polemicist. He believed passionately in the Parliamentarian cause and played several roles within the Commonwealth government, including composing foreign correspondence in Latin and producing propaganda. Following the Restoration of the monarchy he wrote his most famous work, Paradise Lost, an epic poem reflecting on the failure of the revolution. Milton’s work has not previously been represented on a British stamp.

Also making his debut on British stamps is architect and dramatist John Vanburgh, represented by one of his most famous buildings, Castle Howard. Built for the 3rd Earl of Carlisle, it is perhaps best known for its use in the TV series and film Brideshead Revisited.

Stamps showing Blenheim Palace, British Gardens (1983) and World Heritage Sites (2005)

Stamps showing Blenheim Palace, British Gardens (1983) and World Heritage Sites (2005)

Another of Vanburgh’s buildings, Blenheim Palace, has appeared on stamps twice before as part of the British Gardens (1983) and World Heritage Sites (2005) issues. Blenheim, among other things, is the birthplace and ancestral home of Winston Churchill, a man who is no stranger to British stamps. The Palace was built in the early 18th Century for John Churchill, a soldier and statesman who served the last four of the Stuart monarchs, and the first of the Hanover monarchs, George I.

Accompanying this stamp issue are two First Day of Issue postmarks. One bears a quote from John Milton’s Areopagitica, a speech given to parliament against censorship. The other features the House of Stuart coat of arms.

House of Stuart first day of issue postmarks

House of Stuart first day of issue postmarks

The House of Stuart stamps are available from Royal Mail.

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