Degradation from the Order – Script and Stage Directions

The following ceremony is a reconstruction of the degradation of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, from the Order of the Garter in 1521, during the reign of Henry VIII. The text is taken directly from the actual Instrument of Degradation from the Order used against the Duke of Buckingham, as it appears in Elias Ashmole’s The Institution, Laws and Ceremonies of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Appendix 184. Stage directions are derived from the same source, Chapter 24.

Setting: St. George’s Chapel. Garter King of Arms stands in the quire, vested in Tudor fashion, over which he wears a tabard in the arms of King Henry VIII. A pursuivant on a ladder waits at the Duke of Buckingham’s stall.

Be it known unto all men, That whereas Edward, late Duke of Buckingham, Knight, and Companion of the Noble Order of Saint George, named the Garter, hath lately done and committed High Treason against the King, Soveraign of the said Order of the Garter, in compassing and imagining the destruction of the most Noble person of our said Soveraign Lord the King, contrary to his Oath, Duty, and Allegiance; for which High Treason, the said Edward hath been indicted, arraigned, convicted, and attainted, and for the which detestable Offence and High Treason, the said Edward hath deserved to be disgraded of the said Noble Order, and expelled out of the said Company, and not worthy that his Arms, Ensigns, and Atchievements should remain amongst other Noble Ensigns and Atchievements, of other noble, vertuous, and approved Knights of the said Noble Order, nor to have the benefits of the said Noble Order. Where∣fore our Soveraign Lord the King, Soveraign of the said Noble Order of St. George, named the Garter, by the advice of other Knights of the said Noble Order, for his said Offences, and committing of the said High Treason, willeth and commandeth, that the said Edward, late Duke of Buckingham, be disgraded of the said Noble Order, and his Arms, and Ensigns, and Atchievements clearly expelled, and put out from amongst the Arms, Ensigns, and Atchievements of the other Noble Knights of the said Order to the intent that all other Noble men, thereby may take Example, hereafter not to commit any such hainous and detestable Treason and Offence as God forbid they should.

God save the King.

Upon the words “put out” the pursuivant should throw the crest, mantling, banner and sword down into the quire. When Garter finishes reading, the heralds kick the achievements out of the quire, through the Chapel, out of the door, across the Lower Ward, and into the Castle ditch. The stall plate is likewise removed.

The script and directions being set, the next step in this project is to decide upon the pronunciation. I’ve been looking into Original Pronunciation (OP) of Elizabethan England, but it appears that the speech patterns had substantially changed in the latter half of the 16th century that I will need to reverse-engineer a pronunciation guide to properly recreate the voice of Sir Thomas Wriothesly, Garter King of Arms at the time of the Duke of Buckingham’s degradation.