"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Jeffrey Hudson

In Van Dyck's 1633 portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria she is accompanied by her pet monkey Pug and her dwarf Sir Henry Hudson.

The Crisis Magazine calls Jeffrey Hudson "The smallest known Catholic". He was 14 years old in 1633.
"Sir Jeffrey Hudson (1619 – circa 1682) was an English court dwarf at the court of Queen Henrietta Maria. He was famous as the "Queen's dwarf" and "Lord Minimus", and was considered one of the "wonders of the age" because of his extreme but well-proportioned smallness. He fought with the Royalists in the English Civil War and fled with the Queen to France but was expelled from her court when he killed a man in a duel. He was captured by Barbary pirates and spent 25 years as a slave in North Africa before being ransomed back to England." -- Wikipedia
Hudson first appeared in the Court of Charles I when he emerged from a pie during a banquet given by the Duke and Duchess of Buckingham for the King and Queen. He was a gift from the Buckinghams who had collected him as a "human wonder".

He was appointed "Captain of Cavalry" during the Civil War but may not have actually fought. In 1644, in France, he fought a duel with a man named Crofts. The duel was to be fought on horseback with pistols, but Crofts seems to have regarded it as a jest. He brought instead of a pistol a squirt, a sort of water gun, with the intention of dowsing both Hudson and his gun powder.  In the event, Hudson fatally shot Crofts in the forehead. Dueling was illegal in France at the time and Hudson was sentenced to death for his "transgression against hospitality".  His sentence was commuted by the Queen to exile and he returned to England.

He was soon after captured by Barbary Pirates, serving as slave in North Africa 25 years. Freed in 1669 Hudson returned to England. In 1676 he was implicated in a "Popish Plot" and imprisoned for being a Roman Catholic. He died in 1682 two years after his release.

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