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 22 March 2014

The beheading of Thomas of Lancaster in 1322

I have posted before on this anniversary day of his death by beheading at Pontefract in 1322 about Thomas  Earl of Lancaster - or as some came to regard him, St Thomas of Pontefract - and these previous posts can be seen at St Thomas of Pontefract from 2011, and there are three posts from 2012, St Thomas of Pontefract at South NewingtonSt Thomas of Pontefract in the British Museum and St Thomas of Pontefract in the Sellers Hours.

This year I have found another nearly contemporary depiction of his death. It is from Villani's Cronica Nuova and must date from only a generation or so after the event. As such it indicates interest in English political events in Florence at the time - but the downfall of Earl Thomas would have been a major news story given his prominence in English life and his family connections to both the English and French royal houses.

Unfortunately the photograph is in black and white rather than colour. The miniature is in no way, both in its Florentine provenence and its detail, an eye- witness record. King Edward II can be seen observing the execution of his cousin from within Pontefract castle - in reality the execution took place almost a mile away on what became known as St Thomas' Hill and became a place of pilgrimage as the cult of St Thomas of Pontefract developed in the following years. Nonetheless this is an interesting depiction of an event that clearly attracted wide attention in what happened to become my home town.

File:Eduard II mort Tomas Lancaster.jpg

Image: Wikimedia

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