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.

Monday 31 January 2011

More on Confirmation

I see that Fr Sean Finnegan and Fr Hunwicke have been continuing, assisted by the comments of their readers, the discussion about Confirmation and first Communion generated by the Liverpool policy announcement. In particular they concentrate of the proliferation of bishops consequent upon a policy of exclusively episcopal confirmation.

Fr Finnegan can be read here, and Fr Hunwicke's response is here.

First Communion and Confirmation

It was from Fr Hunwicke's blog that I first read about the decision of the Archbishop of Liverpool to return to the apparently historic practice of conferring Confirmation before First Communion. The report on which he based it can be seen in this week's Catholic Herald.

Talking with a friend last night we began to see that this is really quite a complex issue. There is a discussion from 2003 of the issues surrounding First Communion and Confirmation on this Irish website. Last year the present Pope reaffirmed the wisdom in St Pius X's 1910 Quam Singulari Chrustus Amore which ruled in favour of communion at the age of reason, assumed to be at about seven years. Last year also Cardinal Cañizares Llovera was reported as arguing the case for an even earlier age for reception of the Eucharist. His comments are available here.

My initial reaction had been to be in favour of what is proposed in Liverpool, largely on the basis that it represents what I thought to be the historic tradition and is indeed something closer to the practice I knew when I was an Anglican, of baptism, then confirmation, followed by reception of Holy Communion. I was given to understand that it is what St Pius X still envisaged when he encouraged First Communion at a younger age. Of course I know that Eastern practice is different and I have attended an Orthodox baptism where the infant was communicated. That also has an impressive logic. Reflecting on the question makes me less certain as to what I think appropriate.

Sometimes it appears that First Communion becomes Last Communion for a very long time, and the Sacrament of Confirmation is downgraded. As the Irish article I refer to above points out the celebrations around First Communion tend to overshadow those at Confirmation. That was something that in my Anglican upbringing was avoided by making reception of the Eucharist follow on from Confirmation. Maybe the Anglican Patrimony can assist the wider Church here in terms of how growth in the sacramental life can be presented to and accepted by the faithful.

This led me to think that the real question is about Confirmation.

If it is in conformity not only with established traditional practice but the implication of the Acts of the Apostles, that Confirmation completes the Rites of Initiation with its gift of the Holy Spirit, then that can be seen as a prerequisite for First Communion, or it can be seen as something quite independent, and requiring more than the age of reason, but that of discretion. In that case it is indeed a rite of passage, the equipping of the prepared Christian for a mature Christian life. So not just an occasion for a rite-of-passage celebration but an acceptance of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to equip the individual for the life ahead, enabled to make right judgements.

These days there is less of Confirmation being perceived as a social stepping stone for adolescents than it once was, but the sense of it as a dynamic, enabling gift is, I suspect, not strong with many.

Given that situation assembling the confirmands in the cathedral of a diocese for the Ordinary to administer the sacrament stresses its significance and importance. The emphasis is not on it being a Passing-out Parade so much as receiving one's Commission.

The Liverpool plan does raise a serious query in my mind. Family preparation is well enough with the regular churchgoers, let alone the home-schoolers, but how will it work with the occasional conformists? I am sure this has been addressed, and maybe the hope is to draw back parents with the preparation of their children, but some not-that-dutiful parents may decide it is too much to be asked to do, and not bother.

Col John Morris

Since writing my post about the last siege of Pontefract Castle Post Mortem Patris Pro Filio I have been able to check the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and found the biography therein of Col. John Morris, who held the castle for the King in 1648-9. It is by Robert Ashton and can be read here.

Sunday 30 January 2011

The Prince of Asturias

Today is the 43rd birthday of the Prince of Asturias, heir to the Spanish throne.

In addition to wishing the Infante Don Felipe many happy returns I was interested to see that additional titles have been conferred upon him to reflect the historic roots of the monarchy, and to reflect the Spanish pattern of regional autonomy. Thus in addition to the traditional title of Prince of Asturias, a Castilian title, created in 1388 and modelled on that of the Prince of Wales, he now holds titles reflecting the various lands that comprised the Crown of Aragon and also the title of Prince of Viana as heir to the Kingdom of Navarre. This is analagous to the way in which the Prince of Wales is Duke of Rothesay in Scotland , and has other Scottish titles, and to Queen Victoria' bestowal of the title Earl of Dublin on the future King Edward VII, a title also borne by the future King George V and King Edward VIII as Prince of Wales.

I have copied part of the Wikipedia article to illustrate the different coats of arms, including the distinctive crown, again comparable to those of the Prince of Wales or the Dauphin. The images can be expanded by clicking on the symbol at the lower righthand side.

Titles and arms of the Prince of Asturias

The coat of arms of the Prince of Asturias
The coat of arms of the Prince of Girona
The coat of arms of the Prince of Viana

Since the proclamation of his father as King in 1975. In 1977, Felipe became Prince of Asturias, the title normally held by the heir to the Spanish throne.

On 21 April 1990, Felipe became the first Bourbon to hold the Aragonese title of Prince of Girona. Formerly no other Bourbon had ever used or even held this title. He is also titled Prince of VianaDuke of MontblancCount of Cervera and Lord of Balaguer.

On 30 January 1986, at the age of 18, Felipe swore allegiance to the Constitution and to the King in the Spanish Parliament, fully accepting his institutional role as successor to the Crown.

By Royal Decree 284/2001 of 16 March, HRH the Prince of Asturias’s Guidon and Standard were created. The decree describes his coat of arms, his Guidon and his standard.

He is also the 1,182nd Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece in 1981 and Knight of the Order of Charles III in Spain.

[edit]Titles and honours

  • His Royal Highness The Infante Felipe of Spain (1968–1977)
  • His Royal Highness The Prince of Asturias (1977–present)

His official title is "His Royal Highness Prince Felipe, Prince of Asturias, Prince of Girona, Prince of Viana, Duke of Montblanc, Count of Cervera and Lord of Balaguer."

Post Mortem Patris Pro Filio

File:Pontefract Castle.jpg

Pontefract Castle circa 1630

Image: Wakefield MDC Museums

In the summer of 1648 the castle at Pontefract was seized by a group of local Royalists as part of a plan to cover the invasion of England by a Scottish army led by the Duke of Hamilton with the aim of releasing King Charles I from the house arrest he was under and restablishing his authority. Its strategic importance had meant that unlike other castles it had not been slighted when it surrendered after two sieges in 1645. With the defeat of the Scots at the battle of Preston in August the garrison came under close siege.

When the Rump Parliament tried and executed the King the beseigers called upon the garrison to surrender - they were the only place actually still fighting in the King's name. The Rump had made it illegal to proclaim a new King, and abolished the office on February 7th but all their actions were those of a junta without any lawful authority of their own. The reaction of the Pontefract garrison was to proclaim the late King's son as King Charles II, and to continue to hold out in his name. A contemporary report said that "They say they will have a King whatever it cost them."

Within the castle silver siege coins had already been produced in the name of King Charles I, with the motto Dum Spero Spiro (Whlst I breathe I hope). The design of the die suggests the work of a much more competant engraver than that of other pieces produced elsewhere. He now produced a new set of dies in the name of King Charles II, and with the motto Post Mortem Patris Pro Filio (After the death of the father we are for the son). One example exists in gold, presumably a pound piece, or possibly a commemorative striking, but otherwise the coins are shillings and two shilling pieces.

The castle itself finally surrendered on March 24th, then the end of the year.* Six member sof the garrison were supposed to be surrendered for punishment but one was killed trying to escape, three hid in a collapsed part of the castle and broke out and escaped to the continent. One survived to see the restoration in 1660. The Governor, and mastermind of the plot to capture the castle the previous year, Col. John Morris, and Cornet Michael Blackburne were eventually captured, tried and executed at York in August 1649.

Prompted by the government the townspeople petitioned for the demolition of the castle, and this was carried out with devastating thoroughness during the summer of 1649.
Pomfret Castle on Obverse of 1648 Charles I Pontefract Shilling

Reverse of 1648 Charles I Pontefract Shilling
A shilling struck in the castle in the name of King Charles II

Pontefract's Coat Of Arm

After the Restoration the town began to use the motto Post Mortem Patris Pro Filio, and this can be seen in the arms of the borough of Pontefract, which are first recorded in a 1585 Heraldic Visitation, as exemplified by the College of Arms in 1931.

Brought up as I was in Pontefract the proclamation of King Charles II was one of those historic events which was impressed upon my mind at an early stage.

* Until 1752 the new year began on March 25th - hence the date of 1648 on coins struck in what
we would regard as 1649.

The Royal Martyr

Triple portrait of King Charles I by Sir Antony van Dyke 1636


Today is, of course, the anniversary of the beheading of King Charles I in 1649.

As a King Charles was not without his failings. He could be remote and intransigent, and had a knack of doing the wrong thing with disastrous consequences, whilst convinced of his own probity and rectitude. This was to include actions which could be seen as double-dealing. As King he saw himself as above such constraints, and as pursuing the highest of aims. 

On the other hand historians now appreciate that some of the policies he and his ministers sought to pursue in the period of personal rule were genuine attempts to deal with the problems of a system that was in need of overhaul, and in which vested interests were opposed to his plans. 

The opposition that came together by the end of the 1630s and brought all three of his kingdoms to civil war eventually overwhelmed the King, despite a courageous resistence on his part and that of his supporters.
His real stature appeared in adversity, above all in his trial and death.  Single-handed he stood for the rule of law and the traditional institutions of his kingdom against a revolutionary body whose sole claim to authority was force. Pride's purge had robbed the remaining Commons of real moral or legal authority.

In bringing the King to trial they thought they could resolve the problems the nation had suffered, and pin the blame on him, and the institution he personified. The King's constant request to know by what authority they were trying him, his point that if he was not safe in his rights then no-one else was, and his point that Sovereign and Subject are "clean different thing" did not save his life, but they saved the principle he embodied. Just as he could have bartered away episcopacy in the Church of England for a settlement so he could havenegotiated away the prerogatives of the Crown. His stubborness cost him his life, but safeguarded the basis of constitutional authority. In those senses he is a martyr for legitimate authority and tradition in the governance of the realm. That is how he presented himself in Westminster Hall and on the scaffold. That was to be his ultimate, personally costly, victory.

The memory of the Royal Martyr, preserved by the restored Church of England, with its special service on this day which was only removed from the Book of Common Prayer in 1859*, was a huge influence on the fathers of the Oxford Movement. As with Archbishop Laud's witness the defence of traditional authority was paid in blood. That ensured the survival of a church system that could find new life and vitality in a less violent age. 

The King's view of his responsibility before God for the Church in his lands may not have been Catholic, but it was open to the Catholic world as it had not been for almost a century, and was not to be again for another two. 

I wonder what will happen with the development of the Ordinariate to the Society of King Charles the Martyr.  This society has always drawn upon the Anglo-Catholic community and it will be interesting to see how many members move into communion with Rome. I see nothing inimical in honouring a King who died defending a vision of the Church of England not unrelated to a Catholic position, and who received the loyal support of his Catholic subjects. Several of its patrons are Catholics. Some members of SKCM however may consider that the Martyr King represents an exclusively Anglican tradition with which they will find it hard to break.

* A few years ago a friend revived the January 30th service in Oriel. For those of us who were present it was, well, memorable...

Saturday 29 January 2011

At sea in the Hundred Years War

Last night was the first meeting this term of the Stubbs Society, the oldest History society within Oxford University, and one which has had a genuine renaissance in recent years. The speaker was Jonathan Sumption QC, the author of several books, including a standar one on Pilgrimage and three magesterial volumes on the Hundred Year War. It was an aspect of that about which he spoke, giving an impressive and fascinating paper on "Problems of English naval strategy in thr Hundred Years War."

He began by making the point that although there are a considerable number of records of the navy at the time they have not received the attention given to the land armies of the war.

Amongst the many points he illuminated were the problems caused by frequent impressment of vessels, which with consequent losses of ships and to trade meant a gradual decline in the number of ships available. The consequential decline of Great Yarmouth as a port was highlighted. There was the necessity of not disrupting the late summer wine fleet from Bordeaux, vital to Gascon trade and taxes and to English palates. There was the sheer difficulty of knowing where the enemy was so as to fight them - the two fleets, in effect, made an appointment so to do near a harbour - or indeed for the government to know where its own fleet was once it had put to sea.

He dealt with the logistics of transporting men and horses, with provisions, the distances involved, and the contrasting utility of the deep sea English vessels and the more manoeuverable but vulnerable oared galleys of the French and Castillians, or hired in from the Italian maritime republics of Genoa, Venice and, later, Florence.

He also pointed out that Calais, prized possession that it was, and landbridge to the enemy was not necessarily in the best strategic position for land campaigns, or where an invading army might wish to commence activities. For that the Breton ports might be more useful, and hence the English interest there in the fourteenth century civil wars over succession to the Duchy.

The lecture addressed the fourteenth century rather more than the fifteenth, but there was a reference to King Henry V's ship building programme, including the Grace Dieu.

Channel 4's Time Team and Southampton scientists reveal the secrets of Henry V's greatest warship –

A reconstruction of King Henry V's ship Grace Dieu

Photo: Southampton University

I have included reference to the ship, about which you can read more here and here, which was the largest ship to be built for the next two centuries, and three times the size of the more famous Mary Rose, because its remains still survive in the Hamble, and it is a reminder of what English naval power could amount to under a ruler like King Henry V.

A most enjoyable and elegant lecture was followed by a convivial drinks party in the room of the Society's President - a good way to spend Friday evening stimulating the historical and vineous tastebuds.

Ford Lectures II

Last night was the second of this year's Ford Lectures, about which I wrote last week.

In this lecture Prof. Lake looked at the way in which the "secret histories" about Mary Queen of Scots were used to form or shape public opinion and how they came to be used in the trial of the Duke of Norfolk in 1572 and in the discussions in Parliament about his fate and that of the Scottish Queen in that year.

He argued that two of these secret histories were promoted. The first, deriving from Buchanan, depicted Mary as the murderess of her husband, a woman depraved by passion, with Bothwell as her amoral Machiavellian ally, and determined to exercise a tyranny in Scotland, from which her realm had been rescued by the Lords.

The second, deriving from Leslie, met these charges full on, using them to shape the response, but proposing the cynical amoral villain to be the Earl of Moray, determined to seize his legitimate sister's crown, and from whom Scorthetland was delivered by an assassin's bullet.

The former arguments entered into the attack on Norfolk, who was presented as being willing to marry in pursuit of his own ambition the murderess Mary, whom he despised as worth less in income as Queen than he had as Duke. If he was guilty then so was Mary and this could be used to exclude her from the English succession.


The Fourth Duke of Norfolk in 1563


The debates in Parliament saw these arguments advanced by the Cecil government, who had a pamphleteer such as Thomas Norton amongst their supporing MPs and those who sought to argue otherwise presented as being crypo-papist. The destruction or maginalisation of the conservative, Catholic-inclined, traditional lords who favoured a Spanish alliance and who had made significant progress politically in the 1560s was very much part of the ruling group's agenda. Excluding Mary of Scots from the succession had been part of their policy since 1562 and was to be a central part of their programme

The Treatise of Treason appeared shortly after, in 1573, and argued that it was Cecil and Lord Keeper Nicholas Bacon who were the villains of the piece, seen as base-born time servers and politiques and coming to the defence of Queen Mary and the by now beheaded Norfolk. In that year the young Christopher Hatton received a letter from a certain TG enclosing an abstract of the Treatise, which the author wanted Hatton to give to Queen Elizabeth. The assumption was that she did not know what was going on in her name, and would not approve of it.

Prof. Lake's lectures are proving a very interesting series and open up the political infighting and use of propaganda in the period.

Friday 28 January 2011

Anglican Orders

As the Ordinariate begins to be formed one central issue, and indeed event, for many will be the issue of re-ordination for Anglican priests. Indeed for some of them the requirement so to be ordained appear to be a barrier to acceptance of the Roman offer. They find it difficult to accept the implication, however subtle the way it is expressed, that they are not already in Orders, or that those Orders are somehow deficient. Whilst I can appreciate their own feelings I also recognise that all converts have to accept that they need the sacrament of Confirmation - we all have to admit that we have been outside the perimeter of the Church, even if we have been pressed up against the boundary and leaning over into the hortus conclusus for years. So for the clergy accepting Ordination afresh strikes me as not a problem, but a fulfillment.

Fr Blake in Brighton has a judicious and insightful posting about Anglican Orders and how the need for fresh Ordination should be understood. It is written with characteristic humanity, and has generated a number of comments. His article can be read here.

The tomb of the Duke and Duchess of Somerset at Wimborne Minster

Whilst looking for images of Lady Margaret Beaufort for my previous post I came across a fine series of pictures on Flickr of the tomb of her parents in Wimborne Minster in Dorset. I have reproduced two of them here. I particularly appreciated them as I recall, many years ago, trying unsuccessfully, to find or make a slide of the effigies for a lecture. The effigy of the Duchess in particular is difficult to photograph as the tomb is immediately above the entrance to the undercroft chapel, and without scaffolding difficult to get close to. The effigy of the Duke is on the choir side and so is more accessible.

Wimborne Minster is a church of great historic and architectural interest, which I have visited on several occasions since I was a small boy, and for which I have great affection.


John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset KG (+1444) and Margaret, Duchess of Somerset (+1482) Wimborne Minster. Tomb c.1450?

Photo: Roelipilami on Flickr

I have edited together the following notes, based upon comments accompanying the photograph on the Flickr site made by Mark Duffy and by the photographer.

John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset, born in 1404, was captured at the battle of Bauge in 1421 and remained in captivity in France until 1439. He was created Duke of Somerset and lieutenant of Aquitaine in 1443, and commanded the abortive English invasion of Normandy the same year. He died the following year at St Margaret's Hospital, Wimborne, near his ducal manor at Kingston Lacy. His duchess, Margaret Beauchamp, died in 1482. Their only child, Lady Margaret Beaufort, was the mother of King Henry VII.

The alabaster effigies depict the couple holding right hands, a device more typical of English effigies dating from a hundred years earlier. The two figures are carved from separate slabs (and different stone types) with no obvious join for the hands. The Duke's figure is shown in armour of the 1440s, while style of the Duchess's robes date from the 1480s. This is the likely date of the commission, either by the Duchess or by their daughter.
This in turn raises the question: If both effigies were comissioned around 1480 would the the sculptor would have depicted earlier armour on purpose?

However if the two effigies are of different stone types, could they have been made seperately, Duke John first, immediately after his death, and his widow around 1482?

It is not clear when the Duke's effigy was commissioned. A time interval of more than thirty years after his death is a long time, even by fifteenth century standards. Looked at on its own, the male figure could be contemporary with the time of the Duke's death. But both hands couldn't be changed, and it was always intended to hold the image of someone who died later; in this case almost 40 years later. Duffy suggests that it is possible that the male effigy was carved 'in retrospect' using an old suit of armour, old effigy designs. To this the photographer responds that being carved in retrospect was very rare during the fifteenth century, and cannot cite any dated example.


The clasped hands of the Duke and Duchess.
The join between the two effigy slabs can be seen.

Photo: Roelipilami on Flickr

To these comments I would make the suggestion that the Duke's effigy was carved soon after his death and that the plan was to install an effigy of Duchess Margaret when she died, as happened.

At Framlingham in Suffolk the second and third wives of the fourth Duke of Norfolk lie with a gap between them - he, being beheaded in 1572, never got to join them, and the tomb is a rare example of one that has never been completed. Similarly, in a later age, when the effigy of Prince Albert was carved and installed in the Mausoleum at Frogmore after 1861 one was prepared for Queen Victoria, but not installed until after her death in 1901. When that occurred the effigy had been mislaid at Windsor and was found after a search walled up in the castle. So delay in installation ( or even loss of an effigy) is not inconceivable.

Carving an effigy in the dress of a generation earlier would, I think, be very unusual, although in the fourteenth century sculptors were, apparently, often a generation behind in what they carved - thus actual armour was more advanced than that depicted on effigies. This emerged at a conference I attended in 1993 on Yorkshire figures.

The tomb would have required several stages to assemble. The base is Purbeck marble, so local to the area, but the effigies are of alabaster which would presumablymean they originated in either the Derbyshire-Nottinghamshire area, or have been produced in London and transported to Wimborne.

The choice of the motif of the clasped right hands, chosen, it is clear when the Duke died, or at least his effigy commissioned, may only be a convention, but is, as is pointed out above, one associated with an earlier period - such as the Arundel tomb in Chichester Cathedral from the 1370s. Perhaps we should give the Duke and Duchess the benefit of the doubt and assume there was genuine affection which they wished to embody in stone.


The head of the Duke. His Lancastrian livery collar of SS can be seen.

Photo: Roelipilami on Flickr

Thursday 27 January 2011

Lady Margaret Beaufort and Bl.Margaret Pole

This term I am teaching a course on women in sixteenth century England. When planning it I thought that a good way in which to approach the topic would be through giving a series of tutorials on individual women and their lives, both as of interest in themselves and also as a means of exploring the wider context and implications.

My first choice was a joint study of those two great matriarchs of the earlier Tudor period, who were also formidable as women in their own right - Lady Margaret Beaufort and Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury.

Lady Margaret's tomb

The tomb effigy of Lady Margaret Beaufort in Westminster Abbey.

Photo: Westminster Abbey

Her friend and confessor Bishop Fisher, who preached her funeral sermon at her month’s mind, said of her “Every one that knew her loved her, and everything that she said or did became her.”

The ODNB biography of Lady Margaret is here. The authors Michael Jones and Malcolm Underwood have written the standard biography The King's Mother (Cambridge 1992) . There is also one on Wikipedia, with links, here.

There is a website about her from the school she founded in Wimborne Minster here; it is of particular interest in that it includes a useful map of her estates, which gives an indication of her political and social influence. The Westminster Abbey website has an article concentrating on her tomb and funeral here.

A portrait traditionally identified as Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury

The ODNB life of Margaret Pole is here. It is by Hazel Pierce who has written a full length life - the first for a long time. The Wikipedia account, again with links, is here.

What struck me was how very similar the two ladies were in so many aspects of their upbringing and personality, and in many, but not all, of their lives. Most notably, of course, Lady Margaret died full of years and honours, the grandmother of the new King and esteemed as a benefactress, whereas Margaret Pole died particularly horribly at the hands of the headsman an attainted traitor - but in reality the victim of Henry VIII's vindictiveness.

Her violent end is a reminder of the extent to which both women lived all their lives in the shadow of violence. Thus Margaret Beaufort lost her uncle, two fathers-in-law, her step father, three male Beaufort cousins, their half brother and a cousin by marriage, two more cousins and finally a brother-in-law on the battlefield or scaffold between 1455 and 1495. Margaret Pole lost both grandfathers, a great uncle, father, two uncles, five cousins, her brother and her eldest son in similar fashions between 1460 and 1539, before she herself suffered in 1541.

Margaret Beaufort was, it was to turn out, more fortunate in the reign of Richard III when she had a son in exile who was a clear threat than was Margaret Pole in the time of Henry VIII when Cardinal Reginald Pole was perceived as one of the King's principal opponants, but out of reach on the continent.

Both were women who, in a certain sense, had to make their way in the world. Their fathers both died when they were young, and in adegree of dishonour, and Margaret Pole's mother the Duchess of Clarence had died when her daughter was three. Margaret Beaufort's mother lived until 1482, nearly long enough to see her grandson become King. Both women were of importance in the marriage market, and in both cases finding suitable husbands a political issue. Margaret of Clarence was married to Margaret Beaufort's nephew, as part of Henry VII's policy of marrying Yorkist female realtives to safe husbands linked to the new ruling branch of the royal house. Thus his mother's younger half-brother, John Viscount Welles, became his brother-in-law when he married one of Elizabeth of York's younger sisters, Cecily.

As landowners they are proof that aristocratic women (and those of fewer resources than these two exceptional figures) could and did manage great estates and exercise local influence. Under Henry VII Margaret Beaufort was a very substantial landholder and executive presence in the eastern counties. Both enjoyed exceptional status - Lady Margaret as the King's Mother and transmitter of his dynastic claim, signing herself "Margaret R", Margaret Pole, with her restored hereditary Salisbury title as one of only two women in the sixteenth century who did not have a titled husband - the other was the creation of Anne Boleyn as Marquess/Marchioness of Pembroke in 1532. In terms of income she ranked fifth amongst the peerage.

Both were devout women - examples of the aristocratic piety of the age, which included Cicely Duchess of York, grandmother of Countess Margaret, and later on Queen Catherine of Aragon and Queen Mary I. Both were patrons of the Church and learning. In John Fisher, as Lady Margaret's confessor and counsellor, and Reginald Pole, Countess Margaret's son, they had contact with two of the leading English churchmen of the age, both of whom were to become Cardinals.

As women of high birth they were seen as authoritative on precedence and ceremony in the case of Margaret Beaufort, whilst Margaret Pole was not only a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine, but chosen as governess to the Princess Mary when she was seen as heiress apparent in the 1520s.

Margaret Pole was beatified as a martyr in 1886, and it is perhaps surprising that no-one appears to have sought the beatification of Lady Margaret - being Henry VIII's grandmother should not be held against her. I strongly suspect that she would disapprove very strongly of his actions, and given the opportunity in the afterlife to tell him so would not hesitate so to do.


The vault of the chantry chapel the Countess of Salisbury built for herself in Christchurch Priory in Hampshire in 1529. She was actually buried in St Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London.

Photo: Paradoxplace.com

Wednesday 26 January 2011

The Order of the Saint-Esprit

My post The Orders worn by King Louis XVI had a problem with one of the illustrations, which I have deleted. The picture of the collars and badges of the Orders of St Michael and of the Saint-Esprit can be found on the website here.

This gives me an opportunity to share some other sources about the Order. There is an illustrated Wikipedia article about it here.

I have also found some more illustrations of the Order's insignia.

The collar and badge

The Badge of the Order is a gold, ball-tipped Maltese Cross, enameled in white and green, with a gold fleur-de-lys between each arm. In the center is St. Michael crushing Lucifer. The badge hangs from a sky blue riband worn over the right shoulder.

The comments above are from my source Laudem Gloriae (November 2008). I think what is shown is the reverse of the sash badge, whose obverse had the Holy Dove on it. It clearly refers to the linked Order of St Michael

In the Hermitage in St Petersburg is the mantle and costume worn by Emperor Alexander I in 1815.

Costume of the Order of the Saint Esprit (Holy Spirit) for the Ceremony of Initiation

On 25 August 1815 three sovereigns of countries belonging to the anti-Napoleonic coalition - Emperor Alexander I of Russia, King Frederick William III of Prussia and Emperor Francis I of Austria - were initiated into the Order. The costume that Alexander I wore for the ceremony retained traditional features dating back to the 16th century. The colours of the costume had a symbolic significance: green stood for "honour, love and gallantry"; orange represented the sun and gold. The decorative edging of the black velvet mantle has a pattern incorporating a motif of tongues of flame, trophies, fleur-de-lis and the letter H (for Henri III) framed by crowns. The largest motif - the trophy - is appliquè work made up of solid metal plates, flat pieces of foil, sequins, silver and gold threads. The brocade doublet and hose are decorated with silver thread embroidery and sequins.

File:Embroidered star of Order of the Holy Spirit (Alexander I of Russia).jpg

Emperor Alexander I's embroidered breast star and riband

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

File:La remise de l'Ordre du Saint-Esprit dans la chapelle de Versailles.jpg

An investiture of the Order in the Chapel Royal at Versailles c.1724
by Nicolas Lancret

Tuesday 25 January 2011

New Brothers of the Oxford Oratory

St Philip's Chapel
St Philip's Chapel

As many of you are doubtless aware Oratories have, in addition to priests and other full members, an attached External Oratory made up of Brothers. The analogy would be with Benedictine oblates, Franciscan tertiaries or similar groups. There are weekly meetings for much of the year with talks, rosary, formal devotions and intercessions, followed by recreation. It was this type of meeting for laymen organised by St Philip that led to the emergence of the organised Oratories with their own clergy. Each Oratory has its own particulatr pattern of activities. I have been a Brother of the Oxford External Oratory since early in 2006.

This evening two new members joined it. They are both students here in Oxford. Gregory Lippiatt is an American postgraduate historian, and Richard Craddock a computing undergraduate in his final year. Both have been regular servers at Mass and Vespers in the Oratory church.

They were admitted at the end of Mass, celebrated at St Philip's altar, which I served in my capacity of Sacristan to the Brothers, by the Prefect of the Brothers, Fr Anton Webb.

May Our Lady, Queen of the Oratory and St Philip pray for us as Brothers

The death of Bishop Richard Fleming

According to his episcopal register Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln, died at about two hours after noon on January 25th 1431 in his castle at Sleaford in Lincolnshire. He was about 45, and had suffered a stroke.

As he is the subject of my thesis research I always commemorate Bishop Fleming on his anniversary.

Virtually nothing now remains of Sleaford castle other than earthworks and one piece of stonework on the site, which lies on the south western edge of the town.

All that now remains of Sleaford castle is one small, toppled portion of a wall in the north-east corner of the inner bailey.

Photo: Eric Dewhurst

There are articles about the castle and its history here, and here, and here.

I have taken this reconstruction drawing from amongst the illustrations on the last of these sites:

Following his death the bishop's body was buried in his cathedral in Lincoln, where his cadaver or transi tomb can still be seen.


The tomb of Bishop Richard Fleming in the Angel Choir of Lincoln Cathedral

Photo by Gordon Plumb on Flickr

I believe that I have shown in my research that not only has the appearance of the tomb been changed in more recent centuries but also that as a result its place in the history of English, and European funerary monuments has been misunderstood.

Communion in the hand

Yesterday I was having tea with two friends when one of them volunteered the information that another friend had recently shamed him into receiving the Host on the tongue as opposed to his usual habit of receiving in the hand.

I gather my face conveyed my shock and disapproval of the fact that he did not always receive on the tongue. Our other friend enquired of him why he thought priest's hands were anointed if not to signify the sacredness of the eucharistic species.

Having found my voice I quoted Bl. Teresa of Calcutta:

"Wherever I go in the whole world, the thing that makes me the saddest is watching people receiving Communion in the hand."

As it happens I was recently pointed to a website called, slightly misleadingly, Communion in the Hand which explains why one should not receive in that manner.

I moved to reception on the tongue back in 1997 whilst I was still an Anglican precisely because I accepted the Catholic arguments about the Eucharist. Theology, tradition and practicality are all in favour of that mode of receiving. I get the impression that it is very much a generational thing, and also, I think, gender related. I am not suggesting we all start look as to who receives how, but some people might be encouraged to think at a higher level than that of contemporary kitchen hygene.

Monday 24 January 2011

The Orders worn by King Louis XVI

After writing my post last week about King Louis XVI it occurred to me that I could, and indeed should have said something about the Orders the King is wearing in the two portraits I included in my text.

In both paintings the King is wearing the premier Order of the French Crown, the Order of the Saint-Esprit (usually rendered in English as the Order of the Holy Ghost). It was founded in 1578 by KIng Henri III, and superceded the Order of St Michael, created by King Louis XI in 1469, as the most senior Order: thereafter Knights of the Saint-Esprit automatically received the Order of St Michael. There is a website about the Saint- Esprit here It has a few unfortunate mistranslations - such as rendering the 'Order of St Michael' as 'Michaelmas' produced by the automated system used - but is illustrated and informative.

There is another site which deals with all the French royal orders here.

In the portraits the King can clearly be seen wearing the sky blue moiree riband of the Order and the breast star with its motif of the Dove. The riband was the first to be prescribed in the statutes of an order, and is the origin of the term 'cordon bleu' as asign of honour. The Order specifically commemorated King Henri's accession to the thrones of Poland on Whitsunday 1573, and to that of France on Whitsunday 1574, and hence the use of the Dove as a symbol. It also served to recall the account of the Holy Dove bringing the Sainte-Ampoulle at the baptism of Clovis in 496, and the source of the Holy Oil used at the Sacre of the King at Rheims. The design of the breast star and badge of the Order was to be copied and adapted by nmany other orders in Spain, Sicily, Sweden and Great Britain with the badge of the Military Division of the Order of the Bath, with lions and unicorns replacing the fleur-de-lys.

Examples of the black mantles embroidered with flames worn by knights of the Order on ceremonial occasions can be seen in the Louvre. In Bernard Fay's biography
Louis XVI there is a reproduction of a painting of the knights paying homage to the King. It was in his reign, in 1778, that the bicentenary of the Order was celebrated and a commemorative medallion in silver produced by P.A.F. Tardieu.


King Louis XVI aged 20 in 1775


King Louis XVI in 1786

In both portraits the king is wearing on his jacket the badge of the Order of the Golden Fleece. I assume this is from the Austrian branch of the Order, through his marriage into the Habsburg dynasty. In the second
trait he is wearing with it the French Military Order of St Louis, founded in 1693. The red riband of that order was copied for the Napoloeonic and later Legion d'Honneur.

The chivalric orders of the monarchy were abolished by the revolution, but restored by King Louis XVIII. Amongst the recipients in those years were Britons such as King George IV and the Duke of Wellington. After 1830 the historic Orders were not retained under the Orleanist monarchy, although ocasionally worn and bestowed by the heirs of King Charles X.

In recent decades the Order has been revived, worn and bestowed by the Dukes of Anjou in respect of their claim through descent from King Philip V of Spain. In the photograph below, which shows him and his wife the present Duke of Anjou of that line, Louis Alphonse, who would claim to be
King Louis XX can be seen wearing the riband and star of the Order, as well as a collar of the Order of Malta.
Tke Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duche
Prince Louis Alphonse and Princess Maria Margarita, Duke and Duchess of Anjou

Another Royal engagement

The Mad Monarchist recently had this post about the engagement of Prince Georg Friedrich, the head of the House of Hohenzollern:
Finally, to end on a happy note, there is another royal engagement to mention. This time it is HIH Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia, head of the House of Hohenzollern and heir to the German Kaisers. The Prince (how much nicer it would be to say Kaiser Friedrich IV) announced yesterday that he is engaged to marry HSH Princess Sophie von Isenburg. The Princess grew up in Hesse and Freiburg im Breisgau, studied in Berlin in the area of business administration and is currently working at a consulting firm for a nonprofit organization in Berlin. Not wasting as much time as his fellow royals in Monaco or Britain, the Prussian prince plans to marry later this year in Potsdam and will coordinate the event with the 950th anniversary of the House of Hohenzollern. The Mad Monarchistcongratulates the happy couple and wishes them a long and prosperous union. Hoech der Kaiser!