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.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

St Louis

Today is the feast of St Louis, who as Louis IX was King of France from 1226 to 1270. He became recognised as the beau ideal of contemporary kingship and came to be held up as a role model to all his successors as Kings of France, who were on occasion described as "Son of St Louis"

Representation of Saint Louis considered to be true to life.

Early 14th century statue from the church of Mainneville (Eure departement).

Image: Wikipedia

The promotion of devotion to St Louis was aided by the memoirs of the King written by Jean, Sieur de Joinville. This, one of the most famous medieval biographies, was written in his old age by Joinville at the request of Queen Jeanne, wife of King Philip IV, as a guide to good kingship for her eldest son, the future King Louis X. It is available in a modern paperback translation published by Penguin as Two Chronicles of the Crusades: Villehardouin and Joinville. Here is an older translation online. It is a delightful account, and well worth reading for its informative nature and human sympathy. In the Life both the King and his biographer emerge as rounded individuals, not just, as not infrequently in medieval texts, conforming to recognisable stereotypical forms.

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