James 1, Peace with Spain
Produced by Nicholas Hilliard, the portrait is very similar to some of the painted miniature portraits by the artist.
Barrie Cook in his British Museum publication, "Angels and Ducats, Shakespeare's Money & Medals" explains the background to this medal. Shakespeare makes one reference to a medal in " A Winter's Tale," in 1611 when King Leontes is convinced that his queen Hermione is having an affair with the visiting Polixenes, King of Bohemia. He envisages her as a medal hanging around Polixenes neck.
james 1 was the first monarch to issue a portrait medal of both himself and his queen for his coronation, and silver examples were scattered around at the ceremony.
Portrait medals became used at this time as gifts at court and Shakespeare who spent much time there especially during the Christmas season (when his playing company might have performed half a dozen plays) would have been very aware of these.
1st January was the time when seasonal gifts were exchanged and at the Jacobean court gold medals on chains were a prominent part of this.
For example in 1605 new years gifts included to a messenger of the Elector Palatine, "one cheyne of gold and one medaillie of gold with the king's picture therin."
This medal for the Peace with Spain was issued in gold with a loop for suspension it is most likely that Shakespeare was in attendance at the ceremonial signing in the Chapel Royal.
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