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, 16 September 2011

The library of a fourteenth century Queen of France

I was interested to read a posting on the Medieval Religion discussion group from Jean Luc Deuffic drawing attention to his recent post on his Medieval Manuscrpt blog about the library of Queen Blanche of Navarre or Evreux (1331-1398), the second wife of King Philip VI of France.

It is based on her testamentary bequests from 1398, when she died after 48 years of widowhood. Queen Blanche possessed a not inconsiderable library, and a sense of family piety in both senses of the phrase. His post, which is in French, mais c'nest pas difficle, can be read here.

Queen Blanche does not appear, unlike her husband, in Druon's Les Rois Maudits, which ends with the outbreak of the hostilities of the Hundred Years War in 1337-40, but her life is very much in the tradition he depicts so well. A beautiful member of a cadet branch of the royal house and betrothed to King Philip's son she was married by her recently widowed father -in-law to be in 1349, bore him a daughter and was then left as a widowed Queen Dowager at the age of nineteen. When marriage was proposed to her by King Pedro I of Castille she replied "The Queens of France never remarried." Her daughter predeceased her, but she appears to have fulfilled a dignified role as Queen Dowager.

The photograph shows her tomb effigy at the abbey of St Denis.

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