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, 1 May 2012


This calendar page is attributed to Jean de Limbourg.

Here is the aristocratic world of Maying, of courtship and high society in the early fifteenth century. The occasion is the May jaunt, a pageant celebrating the "joli mois de Mai" in which one had to wear green garments known as livree de mai. It is an idyllic scene in a world that was far from idyllic, with France beset by internal strife and in 1415 the first invasion by King Henry V culminating in the English victory at Agincourt.

The element of escapism is borne out by the fact that in the background, beyond the woodland, is the Hôtel de Neslé, the Duke of Berry's Paris residence, and situated on the banks of the Seine in the heart of the capital.

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