This hat along with a magnificent bearing sword, on the right-hand-side of this page, was a gift to the Mayor of Waterford from King Henry VIII in 1536. Made of red velvet from Lucca in Italy, the hat is embroidered with a Tudor rose on the top and daisies on the brim and was probably made at the royal court.
This gift was a significant mark of royal approval and is the only piece of Henry VIII’s wardrobe to survive anywhere in the world.
King Henry VIII’s boyhood friend was a Waterford man William Wyse who grew up in the royal court.
Because of the city’s loyalty during a rebellion in Ireland in 1534 William Wyse, former mayor of Waterford and in 1536 its ambassador to the royal court had the great honour of bringing home the gift of the Cap of Maintenance and sword to Waterford, amid scenes of great pageantry and celebration.
King Henry VII was the first Tudor monarch to rule as King of England and Lord of Ireland. He came to the throne following a long period of political turmoil and civil war known as the Wars of the Roses.
Henry VII granted Waterford its motto Urbs Intacta Manet Waterfordia – Waterford remains the untaken city in recognition of the city’s loyalty to him. Also in recognition of the personal loyalty of the Waterford merchant John Wyse, King Henry VII invited John’s son William to be brought up and educated in the royal family in England. William became particularly friendly with the king’s younger son Henry who went on to inherit the throne as King Henry VIII. Henry was also the first English king to formally adopt the title King of Ireland.
William Wyse was in a very powerful position at the royal court in London as the king’s close friend and confidant. No less than three royal charters were given to the city of Waterford by King Henry VIII and two of these are on display in the Medieval Museum.
Following William Wyse’s return to Waterford from the court of King Henry VIII he was elected mayor in 1534 and continued to be a loyal friend to the king, particularly during the rebellion that broke that year in Dublin. In 1536 William returned to London as Waterford’s ambassador to the royal court. That same year the king, in recognition of Waterford’s support and loyalty, asked William Wyse to deliver to the mayor of the city a remarkable bearing sword and this Cap of Maintenance as symbol’s of the king’s favour.
The hat is made from Italian velvet from Lucca in Italy using baleen from a whale to stiffen the crown. Baleen was used in ladies' corsets for centuries but this is possibly the earliest surviving use of baleen in costume. It is decorated with an embroidered Tudor rose on top and daisies around the brim. Gold bullion was used in the embroidery. The red rose was the symbol of the Tudor family. The embroidered daisies on the brim are particularly significant. Henry VIII loved daisies in memory of his grandmother Marguerite de Beaufort. Marguerite is the French for daisy. Henry's grandmother, a direct descendant of King Edward III, was the only claim to royalty that the Tudor family had!
William Wyse also benefited personally from Henry VIII’s reign. When the king dissolved the monasteries in England and Ireland Wyse received thousands of acres of church land from the king.
The reign of King Henry VIII marked the highpoint of the success and progress of the City of Waterford in the medieval period. The gifts of hat, sword and charters from the most famous king of England are all on display in the Medieval Museum.