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, 6 August 2010

Cardinal Beaufort

In connection with the feast of St Oswald yesterday one of the contributors to the Medieval religion discussion group, the Rev. Gordon Plumb, who takes fine photographs of stained glass, submitted some images from the St Cuthbert window in York Minster. The window, dating from the 1440s, lights the non-projecting south-east choir transept, and with its pair on the north, illustrating the story of St William of York, was designed to illuminate the original site of the high altar of the Minster - it is now situated a bay to the east in what was once the shrine chapel of St William. There is an article about the window here.

Amongst the details Gordon Plumb illustrates is a figure of Cardinal Henry Beaufort, born 1374/5, one of the illegitimate children of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and Katherine Swynford, who was legitimised following their marriage in 1396, made Bishop of Lincoln in 1398 and translated to Winchester in 1405. He was offered a Cardinal's hat by Pope Martin V in 1417-18, but forced to decline it by King Henry V. It was not until a decade later that he was able to accept the honour, and he can be seen with it in the picture. He died in 1447.

He appears to have been a patron of Richard Fleming, who both became Bishop of Lincoln, like Beaufort, and was a contender to succeed him at Winchester in 1419, when Henry V offered his uncle the choice of retaining Winchester or the red hat - and, in effect, exile. That, due to the course of the war in France, did not come to pass.

The panels at the base of the window are difficult to see when in the Minster because of the height of the wall and the angle and I had not seen a photograph of this panel before, and due to my interest in the subject thought I would share it.


York Minster, sVII, 1b-2b, Cardinal Beaufort of Winchester

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