“The most magnificent triumph” (John Evelyn, 1662)

Detail of Canaletto painting of early eighteenth-century triumphal procession

On this day in 1662, John Evelyn wrote in his diary:

“I was spectator of the most magnificent triumph that ever floated on the Thames; considering the innumerable … vessels, … adorned with all imaginable pomp, …  thrones, arches, pageants and other representations, stately barges of the Lord Mayor and Companies, … music and peals of ordnance … , going to meet and conduct the new Queen [Catherine of Braganza] from Hampton Court to Whitehall, at the first time of her coming to town.  In my opinion, it far exceeded all the Venetian Bucentoras etc on the Ascension … .  His Majesty and the Queen  came in an antique … open vessel, covered with a … canopy of cloth of gold, made in form of a cupola, supported with high Corinthian pillars, wreathed with flowers, festoons and garlands.  I was in our new-built vessel, sailing amongst them”.

Catherine of Braganza

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