Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding.

I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop...
It was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.


Monday, 26 April 2010

Magna Carta


Magna-CartaWhilst it is a comfort to be assured by the Bodleian on their website that the copy of the 1217 reissue of Magna Carta which has been stranded in New York by the rather unreasonable behaviour of the Icelandic volcano is not only safe, but going to be displayed in a museum there, it is something less of a comfort to actually read the website.

This informs the reader that Magna Carta was "signed" at Runnymede on June 15th 1215. Now surely everyone knows that Magna Carta, being a charter was not signed - other than possibly by the Chancery clerks who wrote out the multiple copies dispatched across the realm - but authenticated by affixing the Great Seal - and that again probably not at Runnymede, but in the Chancery offices. Sir James Holt was of the view in his book - Magna Carta - that what happened at Runnymede was the re-taking of homage to the King by the nobility who had forced the concession of Magna Carta from him by renouncing that homage shortly beforehand.

In addition the manuscript is described as "[o]ne of the earliest originals of Magna Carta in existence" - which is pretty meaningless in the context of the history of the text with its successive re-issues - or at least poor English.

It is really not very impressive to see such well known facts being ignored by an institution which really should know better.

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