Important Henry VIII linenfold chest
Circa 1510 - 1530
London or Bristol
W 56 3/4" × H 24 1/4" × D 20 1/2"
Stock # Marh2887
Important and newly discovered Henry VIII joined oak linenfold chest of rare form. The front with four deep recessed linenfold panels framed in heavy mitred mouldings with a central carved panel depicting a six pointed star with a rose in the centre. The sides with single linenfold panels and the back of plain form with four panels. Both the front sides and back retain the lower skirting with the front and sides carved and back skirt un-carved. The top, hinges and hasp later. The six-pointed star is a formidable emblem that wards off evil spirits and shields you. It also prevents terrible intentions and ill-will. It uses the power of protection to keep you safe from all kinds of harm, disease, and more. Many also claim that it even protects against black magic. The six pointed star is recognised as the Star of David and its use in England during Henry VIII's reign was rarely seen. Henry VIII and the Jews of England We will first present the state of the Jews in England during the reign of Henry VIII to understand why Jews in England were not in a position to be consulted. Between the years 1290 when Edward I expelled the Jews from England and 1656 when Jews were re-admitted under Oliver Cromwell, there were officially no Jews in England. There were however Jews living in secret, as marranos. After the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, many Jews continued to live under Spanish and Portuguese rule, adopting Christianity in the open while observing Jewish practice in secret. Some of these Jews settled in England, establishing the early Sephardic community in London and Bristol. This community was however broken up by Henry VII as part of the negotiation of his son Arthur Prince of Wales’ marriage to Catherine of Aragon in 1501. Jorge Anes, progenitor of the distinguished British family Ames, had been living in London with his family since 1521. Jewish business families were involved with finance and loans with the English government in 1532. When Diogo Mendes, the head of the Antwerp branch that conducted also business in London, was threatened with prosecution on the charges of Judaising, Henry VIII intervened to have him released. By 1536 a small secret Jewish community was already established in London. By 1550, the community was about 100 people. The community however came to the attention of the government by its discovery by the Inquisition and Henry VIII was compelled to break the community up and most left the country while those remaining made sure to conceal their Judaism. After a few years, a new community became established in London, though much smaller than its predecessor, with a larger one in the port city of Bristol. This lasted until the accession of Queen Mary in 1553 and the return of England to Catholicism, when the Jewish community was broken up again. The Bristol community was completely dispersed while the London community went into further hiding until the accession of Elizabeth who brought the country back to Protestantism. The community, some of whom arose to prominence, was subsequently maintained until 1609 when it once again came to an end under James I. This was due to the trial of Rodrigo Lopez, Queen Elizabeth’s trusted Jewish physician, who was accused of a plot against the queen, and was hung. This caused anti-Jewish sentiment to spread, forcing the Jewish community to disperse, though some families, like members of the Anes family became absorbed in the local population. Jews were officially allowed to return under Oliver Cromwell through the effort of Menasseh ben Israel in 1656. As there was no English Jewish community to consult regarding Henry’s divorce attention was turned to one of the most prominent Jewish communities of Europe at the time in Venice.
Similar skirting and framing is found on the Prince Arthur cupboard in the Victoria and Albert museum