Entertaining the Mother-in-law: Salmacida Spolia 1640

Marie de Medici, mother to Henrietta Maria, could not have arrived in  England  at  a  more difficult time. Her stay, from 1638 – 1641, coincided  with  resistance  in  England  against  the king’s taxation of Ship Money and anger in Scotland at his insistence on the acceptance of the Book of Common Prayer. The provision  of  hospitality  to  an  exiled  Catholic  monarch augmented dissatisfaction with the king’s rule.

Salmacida Spolia, the masque for the Christmas season of 1640, was  presented  as  an honour to Marie de Medici. The theme addressed the ‘sullen times’ showing the forces of insurrection soundly defeated by the moral influence of the king.

This paper will offer an analysis  from a dance performance perspective to reveal the structured argument delivered by the antimasques. In relation to the history of  professional dancing in England, the text of the masque is unique in identifying the antimasque performers by name, alongside several costume designs for antimasque  characters  by  Jones.  Salmacida Spolia was the last Stuart masque as the court disbanded soon after. However, Davenant began to stage mixed entertainments called ‘opera’ including dance during  the  Commonwealth, laying a foundation for the new theatre of the Restoration and providing continuity with the achievements of the Stuart court.

Anne Daye pursues documentary research and practical reconstruction of dances and dancing of the past, with specialist study of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Her doctoral thesis examined the antimasque of the Stuart masque, exploring its development as a political and artistic concept, alongside the emergence of the professional dancer in England. Post-doctoral research investigates further the growth of expressive dance on the London stage. Anne teaches, rehearses and publishes widely on 16th - 19th century dance, combining theory and practice. She has contributed sections on dance to two recent publications: The Palatine Wedding of 1613 (2013) ed. S. Smart and M. Wade; Singing Simpkin and other Bawdy Jigs by R. Clegg and L. Skeaping. In addition to teaching in HE dance departments, such as TrinityLaban and the University of Bedfordshire, Anne is the Chairman of the Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society.


Anne Daye
Symposium Title: 
Dancing for Anniversaries and Occasions: Chamber, Court, Theatre & Assembly 2015
Author affiliation: 
TrinityLaban, London, and Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society