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 January 2013

Baltic Brasses

Fr Jerome Bertram C.O. of the Oxford Oratory is, in addition to his very considerable skills as a priest and preacher, a leading authority on monumental brasses and related matters. In recent years he has spent holidays looking at, and indeed for, brasses in the Baltic coastlands east of Lubeck right round to the remains of East Prussia. Since 1989-91 this has become much easier and his discoveries were presented to the Society of Antiquaries (he is an FSA )in a lecture in 2011. He has now made this available to a wider public in a monograph, Bishops and Burghers, Dukes and Knights.

Bishops and Burgers, Dukes and Knights

This is not just a catalogue of brasses, brass indents and incised slabs, but with its illustrations of the churches and castles of the bishops, nobles and Teutonic knights who are commemorated an evocation not only of the splendid things that are once again accessible along the shores of the Baltic but also of the world that created them. Here is the landscape and culture of the Northern Crusades and the medieval conversion and colonisation of the medieval  Ostsiedlung, the origins of the Drang nach Osten. The monuments Fr Jerome illustrates are impressive in themselves and well worthy of being better known, and if it achieves nothing more then his study of them should do that.

Handsomely illustrated and written with knowledge and characteristc good humour Bishops and Burghers, Dukes and Knights is published by Lulu.com and can be ordered online from them, and costs £10.50.

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