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.

Friday, 23 April 2010

St George's Day

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Today is St George's Day. Being modern English people we are a little understated in our public expressions of devotion to our patron saint, or it is reduced to cheap commercialism or something frankly embarrassing. Pre-Reformation England would have been rather different - indeed the two centuries before the disasters of the 1530s was the great period of the growth of the cult here and its manifestation in art and liturgy, and the national consciousness.

Devotion to St George is far older, of course, and the pages in this site have a discussion of the development of the cult, a gallery of splendid images and the texts of the early Passios.

These accounts are, I think, clearly fantastical - though I am, of course, called to affirm that with God nothing is impossible. Nevertheless these stories do not appear very credible to modern readers as they stand. The cautious historian in me does, however, feel like pointing out that they may contain a substratum of truth - the memory of a martyr who suffered a series of tortures before being decapitated - rather than that they are complete fiction.

Now I'm off to buy a red rose and try not to look as if I am making a party political statement by wearing it.


Turcopilier said...

In your otherwise excellent comment you refer to the Constantinian Order of the Two Sicilies as being an Order of the Two Sicilies. While the grand magistery was held by the Kings of the Two Sicilies from 1734 - 1860, this was purely coincidence. The grand magistery is an hereditrary family inheritance of the Farnese and their heirs the Bourbons, an Ecclesiastical office invested by Papal Bull that passes exclusively by male primogeniture.

The male primogeniture heir of Ferdinand I, Francis I, Ferdinand II, Francis II, Alfonso (Count of Caserta) and the latter's son Ferdinando, Duke of Calabria is HRH the Infante D. Carlos, Duke of Calabria, whose grandfather was the next brother of Ferdinand, duke of Calabria. The illegitimate claim by a younger brother of the latter and now pursued with much energy by the his grandson has received a great deal of publicity in the UK; however Spanish government, commanded by the King of Spain, as head of the senior reigning line of the House of Bourbon, of which the Bourbon-Two Sicilies family is a branch, to investigate this claim in 1983, concluded in five unanimous reports by some of the highest organs of the Spanish State that the Infante D. Carlos is the legitimate heir. You will find the web site of the legitimate Order at www.constantinianorder.org and on this site photographs of the private audience granted to HRH, with His family, by his Holiness the Pope on 12 April 2010.

Once I Was A Clever Boy said...

Thank you for this information - clearly I need to follow this up in more detail.