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.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

The coronation of King Richard III

Today marks the 530th anniversary of the coronation of King Richard III and his Queen Anne in Westminster Abbey in 1483 by Cardinal Thomas Bourchier, the third and fourth crownings of the five he was to perform - I think that is record for an Archbishop of Canterbury.


King Richard III
The earliest portrait, now in the possession of the Society of Antiquaries


So came for the new King the triumphant conclusion of the process which had begun with the death of his elder brother King Edward IV on April 9th of that year, and which had, by means of skill and determination, if not perhaps much morality, and quite a bit of blood letting amongst the Yorkist elite, brought him the crown. The future for the new king may have looked positive on that coronation day, but his only legitimate son and his wife both died within a year or so, and he was to die at Bosworth a little over two years later. Thereafter he became, rightly or wrongly, identified as a usurper, murder and tyrant, and lay, as we now know, under a carpark until his bones were recovered last year. With due historical method and discipline, I am inclined to an anti-Ricardian view, and indeed do not find myself sympathetic to the Yorkists - but then I come from a town on the estates of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Recently I saw a piece, in connection with the latest television costume drama offering on the period, which laid stress on the fact that this was the first joint coronation of a King and Queen, and implied a significant role for Queen Anne. That I think unlikely, for all that she was the daughter of Warwick the Kingmaker - I sense her two marriages to Edward Prince of Wales (killed at the battle of Tewkesbury in 1471) and to Richard Duke of Gloucester were largely beyond her control. It is also worth pointing out that not since 1308, when the newly married King Edward II and Queen Isabella were crowned together, had there been a married King - they were either bachelors, or in the case of King Henry IV, a widower, and hence there was no Queen to crown. There had been previous joint coronations of a king and queen, as in 1154 and 1274 for King Henry II and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine and for King Edward I and Queen Eleanor of Castile, but seperate coronations for Queens consort were not su uncommon, with monarchs marrying during their reigns, or marrying for a second time. Such aseperate coronation has not been held in this country since 1533.

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