The makings of
At length her grace rose, and with modest paces
Came to the altar, where she kneel'd, and saint-like
Cast her fair eyes to heaven, and pray'd devoutly;
Then rose again and bow'd her to the people;
When by the archbishop of Canterbury
She had all the royal makings of a queen,
As holy oil, Edward Confessor's crown,
The rod, and bird of peace, and all such emblems
Laid nobly on her. . . .
The "3rd gentleman" (Shakespeare's generic or "everyman"
characters are identified by number) describes the coronation of
Henry VIII's second wife, Anne Boleyn. The elaborate rituals he
describes are of some historical interest; but for our purposes,
what's notable is that this is the first recorded use of the phrase
"the makings of." We mean "the potential to be" or "the stuff of"
Shakespeare means something like "the trappings of or "the symbolic
distinctions of." In the modern sense, Anne didn't really have "the
makings of" a queen. Henry VIII, inspired by little more than lust,
single-handedly "made" her, just as he was soon to "un-make" her
with charges of, among other things, adultery. She was ultimately