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.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

King David II

Today is the 640th anniversary of the unexpected death at the age of 46 of King David II of Scots in 1371, an event which brought to the throne the Stewart family in the person of his nephew King Robert II. There is an illustrated online biography of King David here. A much fuller critical biography and assessment by Bruce Webster in the Oxford DNB can be read here and provides an excellent account of his life and reign.

That life and reign, with its pattern of minority and regency, upbringing abroad and english invasion and domination, not to mention personal and marital difficulties was typical of most Scottish monarchs until the accession of King James VI to the English throne in 1603. What is almost more remarkable is the achievement of the Scottish monarchy in retaining and consolidating its hold on the country. Historians today are, as Webster indicates more inclined to a positive view of his achievements as monarch than was the case in the past, notably in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries

The illuminated initial of him with his brother-in-law King Edward III reproduced below has always struck me as more than usually insightful for such a piece. It is not only elegant, but manages to convey the Scottish King's discomfiture in the presence of the seemingly more urbane and successful English King, of whom he was a prisoner. King David looks somehow rather dowdy by comparison with the more fashionably attired King Edward.
David II with Edward III

King David II and King Edward III after the battle of Neville's Cross, 1346.
Each king is surmounted by his Coat of Arms
© British Library

Image: royal.gov.uk

On his Great Seal King David II does look more confidently regal:

News Photo: royal seal from 1329 depicting David II King…

Image: Getty images.com

No comments: