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.
Thinking of visiting Oxford?
Allow me to be your guide... and discover the history of Oxford with an Oxford historian.
I offer a wide range of guided walks around the city and university. These can be a general introduction to the history and architecture or looking at specific themes and subjects.
I am a Catholic and a historian based in Oxford, where I am a member of Oriel College. My research, for a long delayed D.Phil., is a study of Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln in the second decade of the fifteenth century. I also work as a freelance tutor in History and as an independent tour guide.
I was received into the Church in 2005 and am a Brother of the External Oratory of St Philip Neri at the Oxford Oratory.
Tribunus on his excellent and always well-researched Roman Christendom blog has two valuable and related articles answering the argument that The Queen could have refused to sign into law the 1967 Abortion Act.The first is here, and the follow up one here.
In the discussion there is reference to the situation in Belgium when the late King "abdicated" for the day, but that was under a written constitution. More recently we have seen a constitutional crisis and amendment to the powers of the Grand Duke in Luxembourg over the related issue of euthanasia legislation. The Spanish example is worth talking note of- when the King signed into law a liberalisation of the abortion legislation the Spanish bishops issued a statement clearly distinguishing between the King's position as Sovereign, bound by constitutional laws and norms, and his personal position as a Catholic.
They clearly understood something not always understood by people in this country whom I have heard criticize The Queen for not intervening by refusing to sign or exercising a theoretical veto. Understanding the constitutional position is one of the many benefits of reading Ernst Kantorowicz's The King's Two Bodies - it really is a "must read" book.
This post raises a further point - how common was it ever for monarch's to veto legislation? It last happened with a Scottish Militia Bill in 1707. I suspect apart from the occasional pesky bill sent up by Puritans in the time of Elizabeth I and the occasional spats of the Stuarts with recalcitrant Parliaments, it did not happen - and it did not happen because Parliament was managed by the Crown. That is why the Treasury bench is in the Commons. Good government is in part about managing Parliament, and has been since the thirteenth century. Legislation is killed off in Parliament, not by a veto. If you have to use the option of Le Roy or La Reine s'avisera something has gone wrong in managing Parliament. In 1967 the Abortion Act was tacitly backed by the government. Had The Queen sought spiritual advice on the matter she would have found that her Archbishop of Canterbury and many of the bishops had voted for the legislation - so no help there.