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, 4 December 2014

King William the Lion

Today is the 800th anniversary of the death at Stirling of King William I of Scots - probably better known as William the Lion - in 1214. Born circa 1142 he had been King of Scots for almost forty nine years, having succeeded his brother King Malcolm IV in 1165. His son and successor, the sixteen year old King Alexander II, was enthroned and crowned at Scone on December 6th.

There is an online account of him here and the British Monarchy website has a biography of him here.

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography life by W.W.Scott can be read at William I. In it he emerges as an energetic and capable monarch, operating in the traditions of his grandfather King David I.


The Great Seal of King William I


King William had founded the Tironensian abbey of St Thomas of Canterbury at Arbroath in 1178, about which there is an introduction to its history and remains here, and it was there that he was buried on December 10th.


Model of Arbroath Abbey

Image Christine Barnes on Flickr

The remains of Arbroath Abbey*
The King was buried before the High Altar


* This photograph from the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments for Scotland was published like this on their website. It is in fact in reverse, but still gives an idea of the total remains - and near total wreck - of the abbey. Hence I have included it. Blame RCAHMS, not the Clever Boy.

Arbroath Abbey 2 

The remains of the west front of the abbey


Arbroath Abbey: Arboath Abbey

View along the nave of Arbroath Abbey


What is believed to be the effigy from his tomb has been recovered on the site and can be seen in the museum there. It dates from the fourteenth century and is, alas, missing its head. There is an online article about it, complete with photographs, at Lion hunt: a royal tomb-effigy at Arbroath Abbey

Drawing showing effigies of Bishop Paniter and William the Lion, Arbroath Abbey. SC848136 Copyright RCAHMS

 The effigies of Bishop Paniter and King William I from Arbroath Abbey


His successor King Alexander II reigned until 1249. There is an online biography of him here, and the Oxford DNB life of him, by Keith Stringer, can be read at Alexander II. It is clear from that life that King Alexander continued policies based on those of his father, proving to be an energetic monarch, consolidating his realm and his authority over it.

No comments: