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.
The other day I was engaged in a triangular discussion with two friends
online which started when one forwarded me this article about the late Professor John Boswell of Yale's The Marriage of Likeness: Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe published in 1994, the year in which he died.
have a copy of the Boswell book somewhere, though I have never got
around to reading
it fully. I recall that when it came out critics said it was very
interesting - but, and it is a very important "but" - that their main
point seemed to be that the unions he describes were matters of
"friendship" or "brotherhood", and
not "marriage" - i.e. non-sexual compacts.
Other examples of such pacts are recorded - Maurice Keen has a
on two early fifteenth century English knights agreeing a business
partnership (shares in
ransoms and prizes etc) as brothers-in arms rather on those lines. We
may well not make sufficient allowance for the existence and forms of
friendship and its impacty on medieval and early modern people simply
because today we have only partial evidence.
Equally historians with a contemporary agenda may find themselves
writing about what are in essence present issues in their work on the
past, or indeed go looking for evidence of what they want to believe
happened, not what did happen.
In particular in Boswell's book there does also appear to have been a misunderstanding of what are mainly Eastern Orthodox liturgies - a point made by modern Orthodox commentators.
There is a good demolition job of the Boswell thesis which can be read here.
What is perhaps surprising is that eighteen years after its publication the Boswell book, despite very serious criticism of its argument and use of evidence, is still being cited by advocates of same-sex marriage as though its conclusions were unchallenged and incontrovertible.