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  • Writer's pictureRobin Yong

Persecution of the Kings

Updated: Jan 14



A slightly different and one of my favourite pictures this Venice Carnevale.

In ancient times, being a King is not an easy task. Persecutions and even executions are not uncommon. Often, these stem from differing religious beliefs and values.

Looking back at past histories and prophecies, of sins and holiness, which ones allow us to discern the truth from falsehood? And which ones distinguish between anti-Catholic propaganda and the actual reality of the Church?

In today's societies, which groups are being persecuted?


My Italian friends Arnaldo and Daniel at the Venice Carnevale. When it comes to costumes, most Italians prefer painted faces to full masks.

Arnaldo and Daniel's costumes are very dramatic and always amongst the best every year. This set of King costumes come with my favourite Elizabethan collars. Elizabethan court fashion was heavily influenced by Spanish and French styles. Notable garments of this period include the farthingale for women, military styles like the mandilion for men, and ruffs for both sexes. Ruffs served as changeable pieces of cloth that could themselves be laundered separately while keeping the wearer's doublet or gown from becoming soiled at the neckline. The stiffness of the garment forced upright posture, and their impracticality led them to become a symbol of wealth and status. The most popular and basic colour for ruffs was white, but sometimes the starch used to stiffen the ruff was enhanced with dyes, giving ruffs a range of pastel shades that washed away along with the starch. Dyes of vegetable origin made ruffs pink, light purple, yellow, or green. Light purple could also be achieved using cochineal. Yellow could come from saffron, and pale blue from smalt.

The bluish tint of a ruff was supposed to make the wearer's complexion appear paler, thus more attractive to contemporaries. Elizabeth I took against this colour and issued a royal prerogative: "Her Majesty's pleasure is that no blue starch shall be used or worn by any of her Majesty's subjects, since blue was the colour of the flag of Scotland ...".

From a photographer and artist point of view, costumes with ruffs make for good portraits.


The Elizabethan era is the epoch in the Tudor period of the history of England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603). Historians often depict it as the golden age in English history. With William Shakespeare at his peak, as well as Christopher Marlowe and many other playwrights, actors and theatres constantly busy, the high culture of the Elizabethan Renaissance was best expressed in its theatre. Historical topics were especially popular, not to mention the usual comedies and tragedies.


The costumes represent that of King James I of England (1566 - 1625). The son of Mary, Queen of Scots, this British monarch, known as both King James VI of Scotland and King James I of England, has been described by the historian Michael B. Young as “​​the most prominent homosexual figure in the early modern period.” Throughout his life James had close relationships with male courtiers, most notably, George Villiers, whom he made the Earl and later the Duke of Buckingham. (In the early 2000s, restoration work on Apethorpe Palace revealed a secret passageway connecting James’ and Villiers’ bedchambers.)

“To the shock of many courtiers, the pair were demonstratively affectionate to each other in public, despite James’ various proclamations against homosexuality.”

A popular epigram at the time compared the Jacobean monarch to his Tudor predecessor, Elizabeth I, declaring, “Elizabeth was King, now James is Queen.”

Contemporary poet Théophile de Viau put it more bluntly: “It is well known that the king of England f---- the Duke of Buckingham.”

Fending off claims of favoritism, James proclaimed, “You may be sure that I love the Earl of Buckingham more than anyone else.”

“I wish … to not to have it thought to be a defect,” he added, “for Jesus Christ did the same, and therefore I cannot be blamed. Christ had John, and I have George.”


During Carnevale, the whole Venice becomes a real life theatrical stage, and many of these historical costumes carry deep perspectives...


Persecution of the Kings is included in one of the Top 101 Portrait Photographs of the Year (Portrait Story category) in the 2023 International Portrait Photographer of the Year awards and included in their annual book.

For those interested, you can follow this link to the organiser's webpage and see the flipbook at the bottom of their webpage: https://www.internationalportraitphotographer.com/



And also on the Guardian:

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