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.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

The coronation in Dublin

Today is the 525th anniversary of the only coronation to have been held in Dublin - and a somewhat strange occasion it was.
Centre stage in Christ Church catheral - or Holy Trinity as it was then known - was King Edward VI - in reality the imposter Lambert Simnel masquerading as the very unfortunate Edward Earl of Warwick, son of the late George Duke of Clarence. The young Earl was, in reality, in detention in the Tower of London by reason of his potential asa rival to King Henry VII. In the absence of a crown one was borrowed for the ceremony from a statue of Our Lady.
I do not know if there is any record of the ceremonial used - did Archbishop Walter Fitzsimon, who was certainly present, if not actually officiating, raid his Pontifical or was their access to the English Liber Regalis?
The coronation may have been something improvised in a hurry to win over or reassure the Anglo-Irish nobility, who had tended to support the Yorkist cause, but it also indicates more than a temporary strategem. "King Edward VI" was thereby presented as ruler of one polity, not just as Lord of Ireland (then the title of the English King in respect of Ireland) and this incident can be seen as an apt illustration of Steven G. Ellis's thesis about the relationship between England and Ireland in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries as set out in his fascinating and readable (and not uncontroversial ) Ireland in the Age of the Tudors 1447-1603 - that is that the Anglo-Irish world was indeed that, and that English Ireland saw itself, and was seen by the English, as part of a common unity, but with its own local institutions, modelled on those of England. I would heartily recommend Prof. Ellis's book to anyone interested in the topic and period.
Michael J. Bennett's very useful life of Lambert Simnel in the new Oxford DNB can be read here, and gives an excellent account of the events of 1487 and their aftermath. The cathedral in Dublin has changed more than most since that day in 1487, not only with the reformation, but also in consequence of the extensive restoration by G.E. Street in 1871-78, as can be read here.

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