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.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Maurice Keen R.I.P

I was extremely sorry to learn today of the death yesterday of the distinguished Oxford historian aurice Keen, Fellow Emeritus of Balliol.

I first became aware of him as a schoolboy when I borrowed his first book, on Robin Hood and the outlaws of medieval legend from the local library in my home town. This was a book he was subsequently to state in print that he saw as completely superseded by the work of others.

In later years I read his now standard text book on England in the later middle ages and he was to produce what has become the standard book on Chivalry.

 When in 1993 I came to Oxford to discuss the possibilities of research I was sent by G.L. Harriss, after ameeting with him at Magdalen, to discuss matters with maurice keen at balliol. The meeting was in his book-lined room in the oldest part of the college, and we sat either side of an electric fire on a cold March 1st deciding that Richard Fleming was a much more fruitful or practical topic of enquiry than my other possible lines of enquiry

During the following years I attended his lectures on heraldry in the fourteenth century and worked on improving my Latin with his wife Mary's tutorial assisitance
Maurice Keen was very much a traditional tweed clad Oxford History don, with a traditional courtesy that included all he knew. I was once told that he had described me as one of the last gentlemen scholars. I could not say if that is true, but I am sure that he was both a scholar and a gentleman.

May he rest in peace.

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