Queen Mary’s Big Belly: Hope for an heir in Catholic England | Signum SIGCD464

Queen Mary’s Big Belly: Hope for an heir in Catholic England


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Label: Signum

Cat No: SIGCD464

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Vocal/Choral

Release Date: 3rd February 2017



Gallicantus perform music surrounding the fascinating yet tragic story of Queen Mary Tudor’s ‘phantom pregnancy’. On 30 April 1555 the city of London celebrated the birth of a healthy male heir, but abruptly ceased the next day after the news was revealed to be nothing but rumour. There was to be no heir, with gossip and speculation surrounding the tale of Mary’s pregnancy from that day onwards.

The music performed here resonates with the circumstances of the mid-1550s, including items composed outside of Mary’s reign; from the royal ceremonies in which Mary participated as queen, and music directly tied to the specific events of 1554-5. This includes a newly-reconstructed Litany which was performed during Mary’s assumed pregnancy. The viewpoint shifts from the streets of London and its suburbs, through the ceremonial grandeur of the royal palaces and their chapels, to the intimacy of the Privy Chamber itself.

The all-male early-music consort Gallicantus (Latin for ‘song of the rooster’), led by former King's Singer Gabriel Crouch, is drawn from the ranks of award-winning choir Tenebrae.


This entertainingly titled disc tells the story of the phantom pregnancy of Queen Mary in April 1555, when excitement was high that a male heir to the Catholic throne had been born. It turned out to be a false hope, but in drawing together a selection of relevant sacred and secular music, the harmonious voices of Gallicantus create a strong narrative.  Nicholas Kenyon
The Observer 5 February 2017

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