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.

Friday 30 January 2015

Secondary relics of King Charles I

Today is the anniversary of the regicide of the Royal Martyr, King Charles I, in 1649.
 Image: The Mad Monarchist
My previous posts about this anniversary can be seen at The Royal Martyr , at Post Mortem Patris Pro Filio , at "Remember" and at  Commemorating the Royal Martyr
It seems therefore an appropriate day on which to share the news published last month by the Bodleian Library who have recently acquired the travelling library owned by the King when he was Prince of Wales. It is a fascinating insight into his intellectual formation as heir to the throne. The announcement of this acquisition can be read at the illustrated post  Bodleian receives Charles I's travelling library

The Suppression of Evesham abbey

Today is the 475th anniversary of the dissolution of the great Benedictine abbey of Evesham, the last monastic house to be suppressed under King Henry VIII.

There is an online history of the abbey which can be viewed at Evesham Abbey.

The detailed Victoria County History for Worcestershire account of the monastery can be read at Abbey of Evesham  and the Catholic Encyclopaedia article can be seen at Evesham Abbey

Two posts on the blog A Clerk of Oxford  give a good idea of the charm of the town, the remains of the abbey, the two historic churches and the museum, and many illustrations, notably of the fine nineteenth and twentieth century stained glass in the churches. They can be seen at A Trip to Evesham: Pigs, Fish, Angels, and the Dissolution of the Monasteries and at Medieval People in Modern Stained Glass: Evesham Edition

In the Almonry museum at Evesham - one of the few buildings to survive from the complex - there is a model showing what the abbey may have looked like in 1540.

 Evesham Abbey as it may have appeared in 1540
The bell tower is centre right, adjacent to the two surviving parish churches


Model of Abbey

The abbey from the south-west


The bell tower of Evesham Abbey. 
Completed on the eve of the dissolution it is, apart from the doorway of the chapter house and some very low walling, all that survives above ground of the central buildings of the complex.

Image: railbus.co.uk

“The sufferings of history, for example, are dulled by repetition and time, but personal accounts bring such events to life. The Dissolution of the Monasteries has become to many yet another ‘statistic’ to be absorbed in a study of a larger-than-life Henry VIII, yet it was an agonising period for the men who devoted their lives to the Church.

“In the first of the STC (short title catalogue) sales in 1973, for example, one item was a 1537 first edition of Matthew’s version of the Bible which belonged to John Alcetur (Alcester), a monk at the great Benedictine Abbey of Evesham. The Abbey, partly owing to its size and partly to the resistance of Abbot Lichfield, was one of the last to be suppressed. Only about twenty Benedictine abbeys and priories survived into the year 1540, and by the end of that year not one remained. Alcester had made extensive annotations in Latin and English, and had covered three blank pages with a musical score, probably of his own composition.

“However, it is his personal record, at the end of the Book of Maccabees, of Henry’s tough measures that makes poignant reading today. He wrote:
. . . the monastery of Evesham was suppressed by Kyng Henry the viii the xxxi yere of his raygne the xxx day of Januer at Evensong tyme the convent beyng in the quere [choir] at thys verse [in the Magnificat] Deposuit potentes and wold not suffur them to make an ende. Phillypp Ballard beyng Abbot at that tyme and xxxv Relygius men at that day alyre in the seyde monastry . . .
“It is thought that within two months of the suppression of the Abbey, Alcester’s Bible was taken from him.” — Roy Hartley Lewis, Antiquarian books: an insider’s account, pp.138-9.

Source: roger-pearse.com

There is more about John Alcester's Bible in M.D.Knowles: 'Notes on a Bible of Evesham Abbey' The English Historical Review 79, No. 313 (1964), 775-778. The Bible itself can be seen in the Almonry Museum at Evesham. 

Dom Richard Lyttleton was sub-sexton at the time of the dissolution, and was, presumably, a member of the family which has played a major part in the history of the county. He lived on through all the successive changes of religious practice of the sixteenth century. Eventually in 1603, Father Augustine Bradshaw reconciled to the Benedictine order 'one Lyttleton, who had formerly been a monk of Evesham, and was now best known by the nickname of 'parson-tinker.' Being reclaimed he went home and 'presently fell blind and so remained almost two years deprived of his benefice and had he not been bedridden had been imprisoned for his conscience and so died with great repentance being near 100 years old.'

Another monk who was doubtless present at that last saying of the Office in the abbey church was Dom John Feckenham (c.1510-1584). Born John Howman he took the name of his home town on entering the abbey. After the dispersal of the community he became rector of Solihull, was imprisoned under King Edward VI, released under Queen Mary I, becoming Dean of St Pauls and in 1556 returned to the Benedictine life as Abbot of the refounded Westminster Abbey. As such he participated in the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth I in 1559. Following the second dissolution of the abbey later that year his life alternated between imprisonment and parole until his death at Wisbech in 1584.

The life of him by C.S.Knighton in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography can be read here.

Feckenham's Westminster refoundation's last survivor, Dom Siegebert Buckley, transferred in the early years of the seventeenth century, his rights as representative of the whole community to two English benedictine who sought to establish in exile a specifically English house. Armed with his grant they did so, at Dieulard. that community, forced into exile by the French revolution returned to England and established Ampleforth, which in consequence useds the arms of the medieval abbey of Westminster.

Thus a link, tenuous but real, binds the great abbey of Evesham, and all it represented, to the modern Benedictines in Yorkshire and beyond.

Thursday 29 January 2015

O radiosum lilium

Yesterday evening I went to the Mass for the feast of St Thomas Aquinas at Blackfriars here in Oxford - it seemed an appropriate homage to the Angelic Doctor.

The liturgy was the combination of Mass and Vespers they use on such feastdays- sometimes it is referred to as "Masspers".

Although I would not personally combine Mass and Office in such a way this was a dignified celebration, with Fr Richard Conrad OP as celebrant and preacher, and had an enhanced liturgical solemnity to commemorate the Order's greatest theologian.

The occasion was prayerful and reflective, inviting the congregation to ponder the philosophical and theological achievements as well as the mystical and Eucharistic insights of the saint described in the Alleluia as the Radiant Lily.

Monday 26 January 2015

Prince Philip AK

The announcement today by the Australian Prime Minister, on Australia Day, that Prince Philip has been appointed as a Knight of the Order of Australia (AK), has produced a number of critical comments that indicate the nasty petty mean-mindedness of republicans down under.

Insignia of a Knight and of a Dame of the Order

Knight or Dame: Star

Star of the Order


What is worthy of remark is the fact that the Consort of the Queen of Australia has not been made a Knight of the Order hitherto - I am surprised he was not a recipient of its highest rank when it was instituted. Until today the Prince held a lesser class of the Order, unlike the Prince of Wales who has always held its highest rank.

There is more about the Order and its insignia in my post What will Dame Edna say?

Saturday 24 January 2015

Greek General Election

Tomorrow the Greek electorate will go to the polls in a their latest General Election. The choice appears to be between the centre-right New Democracy party, who agreed to the EU financial package that committed the country to retrenchment and austerity and the left wing Syriza party, which is pledged to renegotiate it. They appear to be in the lead in polling surveys. If that is not possible then Greece may well leave the Euro. I do not claim to be able to say how the Greeks should vote on these matters. Clearly austerity, which seems to be improving the situation, has made life very hard for many Greeks.

My interest lies in the constitution. This election was called because the old Parliament could not agree on the election of a new President, ultimately forcing a dissolution at the end of December. So a fresh election and more potential uncertainty for a troubled country.

As far as I am concerned this is all unnecessary as Greece has - or should have - a head of state in the King of the Hellenes, King Constantine II, who , following years of exile, now lived again in Athens as a private individual.

Restoring the monarchy would not, of course, solve in itself Greece's economic woes, but it should provide stability, and prevent unnecessary elections and the risk of further uncertainty.

Friday 23 January 2015

Pope Paul II

The other day the Mad Monarchist blog had a post about one of the lesser known Renaissance holders of the papacy, Pope Paul II, who reigned from 1464-71. The Supreme Pontiffs of the period are often traduced in the popular imagination, and the article seeks to redress the balance in the case of Pope Paul. Despite a typo which confuses his dates of election and death, this makes for interesting reading, and reproduces a photograph of a bust of the Pope, showing him as a striking looking man.

Proud of these good looks he was said to have wanted to take Formosus as his papal name when elected, as it means beautiful, but was persuaded to adopt the safer name of Paul - but is that story a bit of fifteenth century calumny or tittle-tattle?

Pope Paul II 
The victim of his good looks and his tiara?
Image; Mad Monarchist

The Mad Monarchist refers to rumours about the cause of the Pope's death - the version I have seen is that he suffered a stroke as a result of wearing a new and heavy Papal tiara - what a way to go! Again - is that true or is it gossip?

The post can be read at Papal Profile: Pope Paul II

A Monstrance from Milan

The New Liturgical Movement recemtly had an intersting post about an item in the treasury of Milan cathedral - a late medieval monstrance apparently made from a crystal cup. The article, with a photograph, can be seen at An Antique Monstrance from the Duomo of Milan

Thursday 22 January 2015

St Vincent in stained glass

The Rev Gordon Plumb has posted on the Medieval Religion discussion group aseries of photographs of stained glass images of St Vincent of Saragossa, whose feast day it is today.

St Vincent , who died in 304, was a deacon and the first Spanish martyr. He was trained by Valerius, bishop of Saragossa. Of his martyrdom there is no doubt, though there is considerable uncertainty about exactly how it occurred. Prudentius is our first witness and Augustine attests that the cult was known all over the Roman Empire. According to the ancient Legend, he suffered under the edicts of Diocletian and Maximian. At first imprisoned and kept short of food, he refused to sacrifice and was then racked, roasted on a grid, imprisoned and put into the stocks. He died as a result of his sufferings. He is often shown as a deacon holding a palm, or else suffering on the grid.

Angers, Cathédrale Saint-Maurice, Bay 121, Martyrdom of St Vincent, c.1180:
and detail of Vincent's body protected by crows:
Vincent being flogged:
Vincent being visited by angels in prison:
Vincent on the grill:
Death of Vincent:
Vincent and Valerian before Decius:

Oxford, St Peter in the East (now the library of St Edmund Hall), North Chapel, North window, right-hand light, part of deacon holding palm (St Vincent of Saragossa): This glass was given by Vincent Wycking, Vicar in 1433.

Heydour, St Michael, nV, 2a-3a:

Harpley, St Lawrence, wI, D2, Vincent and Ledger:

Gordon then sent an additional number of images of St Vincent as follows:

Panel in the Collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum showing Vincent being burnt on the rack from Saint-Germain-des-Près, Paris of c.1240-45.
The church was originally dedicated to St Vincent, later being rededicated to St Vincent and St Germanus.  On this window see Mary B. Shepard in Gesta, Vol. 37, No, 2, 1998.
Further panels in the Metropolitan Museum, New York can be seen here:

Bourges Cathedral, Bay 12, St Vincent of Saragossa window, with facility to see excellent images of each panel by clicking on the window outline. To get to Bay 12 click on the appropriate box in the general plan of the Bourges windows:

In previous years I have posted about this martyr saint and his images in St Vincent, in Another red pileus, in Conferring the Diaconate and in  St Vincent of Saragossa.

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Je suis Louis

The violent events in Paris the other week and, more significantly in many ways,the reaction of the French political establishment and the media there and elsewhere have attracted considerable attention and comment.

Clearly such killings by terrorists are wrong and to be condemned - we certainly do not have a right to kill those we do not like or agree with. 

However being deliberately and provocatively offensive to others religious opinions is a dubious right to claim, and not easy to justify. Let's be honest - Charlie Hebdo is not Private Eye, and many of its cartoons were deeply offensive, indeed blasphemous, and I cannot imagine they would be published in this country in a magazine that would be available in newsagents. That they set out to offend Christians, Jews and Muslims alike does not mitigate this fact, rather it compounds it.

Not a few people have made these points in the media - on the blogs I read both Fr Blake (who reproduced some of Charlie Hebdo's deeply offensive covers) and Fr Hunwicke drew out these points in various posts.

Even the BBC pointed to French hypocrisy over freedom of speech when, in the name of freedom of speech the Hollande government proposes to prosecute the comedian Dieudonne M'Bala -in his own way as equally offensive as the magazine - for exercising his, er, freedom of speech...

The French, having avoided the various types of political and religious based terrorism that have affected the UK, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy in recent decades have been shaken out of their complacency - but only it would seem, to fall back into the assertion of republican values and secularism - to challenge that in any way is to be beyond the pale. Then they get so many European leaders to march through Paris - against terrorism, well and good, but also seemingly in support of an ironically narrow and bigoted version of "freedom of speech".

True freedom - if that is your cause - involves the right to say and write what you believe, but to offer respect to others different perspectives and to receive that respect in return. Freedom therefore requires self-restraint (i.e.good old fashioned good manners) and not to say you are curtailing someone else's right of free speech in the cause of free speech.
I am thinking these thoughts today especially as January 21st is the anniversary of the guillotining of King Louis XVI in 1793, the event which symbolises the repudiation of the Ancien Regime and its precursors.

So much of the contemporary French political ethos and discourse, founded on those shocking events over two centuries ago, seems to me sterile and stiffling, an insistant rejection of the past and its culture, an at times frantic denial of alternatives or of past crimes and failing by the revolutionary tradition. 

As a friend said to me the other day of the situation in France "Vive le Roi, a bas la republique"

** Having written this post I anm now given to understand that French monarchists have adopted a "Je suis Louis XVI" slogan for today.

Tuesday 20 January 2015

750 years of the House of Commons

Today is being celebrated as the 750th anniversary of the first meeting of an English parliament that included the Commons - Parliaments had already met earlier in the reign of King Henry III, but had been more like the later Great Councils, consisting of the nobles alone gathered around the monarch to give advice and consent. 

The 1265 Parliament was essentially called by Simon de Montfort, Earl ofc Leicester and brother-in-law to the King, who had been in his power since the Battle of Lewes the previous year. Earl Simon may well have thought having representitives of the knights of the shire and the towns would strngthen his regime, which was to collapse at the Battle of Evesham in August 1265. However the idea was not new - that noted constitional innovator and reformer King John had had a similar plan in 1212, even if the assenbley never actually met.

Most meetings of the Commons were in the Chapter House of Westminster Abbey until the mid-sixteenth century,when the Commons were given the Chapel of St Stephen in the palace of Westminster for their meetings in 1547. 

This had an effect on how the House worked. In the Anonimalle Chronicle of St Mary's Abbey York is a detailed insider's account of what occurred during the Good Parliament of 1367. The Knights sat on the floor, the townsmen behind them along the wall. The member speaking addressed the assembly from the lectern. In other words, something rather like a continental Parliament today with a half-moon of seats, reflecting the political spectrum - hence the "left" and the "right". By moving into St Stephen's in the time of King Edward VI and occupying the choir stalls facing each other across the floor, and with the Speaker sitting where the altar had been, the modern adversarial arrangement came into being, favouring a two party system of Government and Opposition.

The Chapter House of Westminster Abbey
Some of the glass dates from Sir George Gilbert Scott's restoration 1866-72, which revealed medieval encaustic floor tiles in excellent condition. On the walls are early fifteenth century paintings, including a scene of the Last Judgement. 


Monday 19 January 2015

St Wulstan of Worcester

Today is the feast of St Wulstan, born c.1008, and Bishop of Worcester from 1062 until 1095. He was the only Anglo-Saxon bishop to retain his see following the Conquest. At Worcester he initiated the rebuiilding of the cathedral and it was under his auspices that Great Malvern Prory was founded. His cult came into prominence in the early part of the thirteenth century, when miracles at his tomb began to be recorded. He was canonized in 1203.


St Wulstan
Later fifteenth century glass at Great Malvern Priory

Image: Gordon Plumb on Flickr

Sunday 18 January 2015

Prussian Palaces

Today,January 18th was a significant date in teh calendar of the Kingdom of Prussia - it was on this day in 1701 that King Frederick I was crowned and on which in 1871 German Empire, presided over by the King of Prussia as German Emperor was proclaimed at Versailles.

As I am justa bout to sart reading Christopher Clark's acclaimed Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia 1600-1947 today seems a good day on which to post some pictures of Prussian palaces and royal residences.

I have posted previously about the rebuilding of the Royal Palace in Berlin in Rebuilding the Berlin Stadtschloss and in The reconstruction of the Royal Palace in Berlin

The coronation of 1701 took place in the church of the castle in Königsberg. The buildings were destroyed in the latter stages of the Second World War and afterwards, being finally blown up in 1986. Subsequently there has been talk of rebuilding it. The case for that is set out in a very interesting illustrated post, which includes aplan of the buildings, from a blogger in the city here.  There is an illustrated history of the buildings at the online piece Königsberg Castle

File:Königsberg Castle courtyard.jpg

The courtyard and church of Königsberg castle in the 1890s


Prior to World War II, Königsberg was a major German city in East Prussia. The...

The castle before the Second World War


As Kings the Hohenzollerns were in the eighteenth century prodigious builders in the Baroque and Rococco styles, despite the rather dour image we often have of Prussian court and social life.

The first of these palaces which survives intact is Charlottenburg, in the western part of Berlin. There is an illustrated account of the history and architecture of the building at Charlottenburg Palace.


Charlottenburg Palace


Further to the west of the city a whole series of royal residences were created at Potsdam. Of these the oldest, of which there is an illustrated history at Potsdam City Palace, has recently been rebuilt following its final deliberate destruction by the East German authorities after wartime bombing. There is an illustrated post by Andrew Cusack about the plans from 2010 at Potsdam's City Palace to be Resurrected. Whether such a partial reconstruction of the interior is right is, of course, open to debate.I would prefer to see a full reconstruction.

There is more about the rebuilding at Reconstruction projects in Potsdam (City Palace, baroque Quartier) and the history of the building, its destruction and the begining of reconstruction work is covered in awell illustrated article at Rise and Fall of the City Palace

Potsdam City Palace

Potsdam City Palace in 1928
The dome is that of St Nicholas Church which is next to the Palace


Inspired by King Louis XIV's palace at Marly King Frederick II created his own palace for relaxation, at Sanssouci in the park at Potsdam. This was an idyllic place situated above terraced vineyards where he couls escape the cares of state and military operations. The palace was built in 1747-7, towards the end of the War of the Austrian Succession. There is an account of it at Sanssouci. A fine set of photographs of the Palace can be seen here.


There are a fine series of photographs of the palace here.

Photo of Schloss Sanssouci Germany Stylish



Following his next major European conflict, the Seven Years War , the King built the Neue Palais in Potsdam in the years after 1763. On top of the dome naked figures of his three female opponants - the Empress Maria Theresa, the Empress Elizabeth of Russia and Madame de Pompadour - are to be seen, holding up the King's crown.

Insider's Potsdam

The Neue Palais built by King Frederick II


There is an account of the building at the illustrated article New Palace Potsdam, which shows how it was built to entertain other royal guests and only used as a regular residence in the late nineteenth century. It survived the Second Wotld War relatively unscathed.

If the eighteenth century was the great age of Prussian palace building - and its achievements were spectacular - in the late nineteenth century the tradition continued with structures such as the Empress Frederick's Schloss Friedrichshof, built in the Taunus in her widowhood, and now a hotel, and her son Emperor Wilhelm II's Romanesque palace at Posen/Poznan, about which there is an illustrated article at Imperial Castle, Poznań. This was built in 1905-10.

1910 look of Palace

The Imperial Castle as originally built.
Following damage in the Second World War the tower was reduced in height


Saturday 17 January 2015

St Anthony

Today, 17th January, is the feast of St Antony of Egypt. Here are some images of him in medieval stained glass posted on the Medieval Religion discussion group by the Rev Gordon Plumb. Click on the links to view the panels.

Chartres, Cathédrale Notre Dame, Bay 30b:
and panels 1-7:
panels 8-14:
panels 15-21:

Langport, All Saints, Somerset, East window B3:

Oxford, Balliol College Chapel, nV, 2b:

Gresford, Trevor Chapel, East window, 3d:

Gresford, Trevor Chapel, East window, 3c:
and a detail of his pig:

Rivenhall, St Mary and All Saints, Essex, East window 4c, 16th century.:

Stanford-on-Avon, St Nicholas, Northamptonshire, wI, 1b:

In addition there is another image of Antony posted on the Flickr site today by Fr Lawrence Lew, OP:

The New Liturgical Movement has an interesting illustrated post from Gregory di Pippo about St Antony and the promption of his cult bt St Athanasius in his biography which can be read at The Feast of St Anthony the Abbot

Friday 16 January 2015

St Joseph Vaz

Today is the feast of St Joseph Vaz, who was canonised on Wednesday by the Pope in Colombo during his visit to Sri Lanka. St Joseph was an Oratorian from Goa, where he was born in 1651, and who is known as the Apostle of Sri Lanka (Ceylon). He died in 1711. There is an account of his life at Joseph Vaz 


St Joseph Vaz

Image: Wikipedia

There is a report frpm the BBC about the canonisation ceremony which can be seen at Pope in Sri Lanka: Huge crowds for Colombo Mass

The Pope's address can be read on the Zenit newsagency website at Pope Draws 3 Lessons From Saint He Canonized Today in Colombo

This evening at the Oxford Oratory following Mass for the feast we had Solemn Pontifical Benediction conducted by Bishop Robert. Here are two photographs of this taken by a friend:



Images: Irim Sarwar

On Sunday the 11am Mass at the Oratory will be in honour of St Joseph and will conclude with the singing of the Te Deum to give thanks for his canonisation. 

May St Joseph Vaz continue to pray for the people of Sri Lanka and Goa and for the Oratories worldwide

Thursday 15 January 2015

More medieval images of St Hilary

Following on from my recent post here are some more medieval images of St Hilary of Poitiers, courtesy of John Dillon from the Medieval Religion discussion group. Click on the links to view the pictures:

a) Hilary of Poitiers as depicted in an eleventh-century copy of his Vita by St. Venantius Fortunatus (Montpellier, Faculté de Médecine, ms. 48, fol. 31v):

b) Hilary of Poitiers' soul received by angels as portrayed on a later eleventh- or early twelfth-century capital in the église Saint-Hilaire-le-Grand in Poitiers:

c) Hilary of Poitiers (at right) blessing St. Troecia / Troesia (Ste. Triaise) as portrayed on an earlier twelfth-century relief now in the Musée Sainte-Croix in Poitiers:

d) Hilary of Poitiers' soul received by an angel as portrayed on the surviving fragment of his mid-to-later twelfth-century cenotaph in the église Saint-Hilaire-le-Grand in Poitiers:
Detailed views, at different resolutions, of a cast of this sculpture belonging to the Musées de Poitiers are available here:

e) Hilary of Poitiers (at left) at the Council of Seleucia and devils inspiring and tormenting the non-Nicene (heretical) bishops as portrayed on the later twelfth-century lintel of the west portal of the église (ancienne collégiale) Saint-Hilaire in Sémur-en-Brionnais (Saône-et-Loire):
Detailed views:

f) Hilary of Poitiers treading on the dragon of heresy as depicted by Savalo of Saint-Amand in a later twelfth-century (third quarter) copy of his De Trinitate, De synodis, and Liber in Constantium imperatorem (Paris, BnF, ms. Latin. 166, fol. 3v):

g) Hilary of Poitiers as depicted (four scenes) in the late twelfth-century Navarre Picture Bible from Pamplona (Amiens, Bibliothèques d'Amiens Métropole, ms. 108, fol. 214v):
Detail (Hilary instructing heretics):

h) Hilary of Poitiers blessing St. Martin of Tours as depicted in a panel of the earlier thirteenth-century St. Martin window (ca. 1215-1225) in the ambulatory of the basilique cathédrale Notre-Dame in Chartres:

i) Hilary of Poitiers' soul received by an angel as depicted in a later thirteenth-century gradual (ca. 1250-1260) for the Use of the abbey of Notre-Dame at Fontevrault
(Limoges, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 2, fol. 54r):

j) Hilary of Poitiers (at centre) at a council as depicted in a late thirteenth-century copy of French origin of the Legenda aurea (San Marino, CA, Huntington Library, ms. HM 3027, fol. 20v; image greatly expandable):

k) Hilary of Poitiers (at right) consecrating St. Martin of Tours bishop as depicted in a panel of the late thirteenth- or early fourteenth-century St. Martin window in the cathédrale Saint-Gatien in Tours:

l) Hilary of Poitiers' consecration as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century (second quarter) French-language collection of saint's lives (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 185, fol. 211r):

m) Hilary of Poitiers and other bishops fighting heretics as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century copy (1348) of the Legenda aurea in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 241, fol. 38v):

n) Hilary of Poitiers as depicted by Jean Bandini in a late fourteenth-century book of prayers (payments recorded, 1385 and 1386) made for the Avignonese Pope Clement VII (Avignon, Bibliothèque-Médiathèque Municipale Ceccano, ms. 6733, fol. 30r):

o) Hilary of Poitiers driving out the serpents as depicted in an early fifteenth-century copy of the Legenda aurea in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 242, fol. 32v):

p) Hilary of Poitiers at a council as depicted by Jean Fouquet in his now dismembered mid-fifteenth-century Hours of Étienne Chevalier (1450s; this folio in the Musée Condé, Chantilly [Oise], ms. 71, fol. 36r):

q) Hilary of Poitiers (at centre in the image at left) at the Council of Seleucia as depicted in a later fifteenth-century copy (1463) of Vincent of Beauvais' Speculum historiale in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 51, fol. 138v):

r) Hilary of Poitiers as depicted in a late fifteenth-century Book of Hours (ca. 1490) for the Use of Tours (Paris, Bibliothèque Mazarine, ms. 507, fol. 174r):

s) Hilary of Poitiers (at left, lower half of the page) as depicted in a hand-colored woodcut in the Beloit College copy of Hartmann Schedel's Nuremberg Chronicle (1493) at fol. CXXXIr:

Another list member, Genevra Kornbluth, added the following image of St Hilary with St Martin, a fourteenth century embroidery (second photo):

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Le Roi est mort. Vive Le Roi. France in 1515

Five centuries ago France, in January 1515, witnessed the death of one king, and the accession of another.

The process began with the death on January 1st of King Louis XII. He had been ill since before Christmas, allegedly worn out by his recent marriage to Mary, sister of King Henry VIII.

King Louis XII

King Louis XII

Image: frenchmoments.eu

The King who was 52, the same age as King Henry VII had been, and formerly Duke of Orleans, had ruled France since 1498 when he succeeded his cousin King Charles VIII. From his predecessor he took over his wife Queen Anne so as to secure her inheritance of Brittany, and also the French campaign in Italy. From being a Prince of the Blood willing to challenge the monarch as he had done in the 1480s he now became King and pursued a pragmatic course, actively engaged in plans to conquer the Duchy of Milan and to partition Naples and Sicily with Spain, anxious to preserve the unity of his French realm  regarding Brittany, able to conciliate the nobility and yet retain secure finances. There is an online account of his life and reign here.

 King Louis XII

Image: Wikimedia

To retain Brittany and, hopefully, secure the succession, he married the widow of his predecessor, Queen Anne, of whom there is an illustrated online life here.

To do so required an annulment of his existing marriage to Jeanne of France, daughter of King Louis XI, who appears to have cynically married his disabled daughter to Louis as a means of ensuring that the Orleans line would die without heirs.  The Pope was willing to grant the appropriate dispensation and Queen Anne, uniquely, had her second turn at being Queen of France. Jeanne retired to a convent and was eventaually beatified in the twentieth century. The episode cannot have escaped the notice of King Henry VIII and his advisors a generation later.

As events turned out the new King and Queen hadsons who died at birth, and were left with two daughters,  the elder of whom, Claude, was married to the next male heir, Francis Duke of Angouleme, so as to maintain the Breton inheritance.

King Louis XII was buried alongside his late wife Queen Anne in the royal abbey of St Denis.

The tomb of King Louis XII and Queen Anne at St Denis


The baldachin was in arcades, and in the base of the sarcophagus was depicted the victories of Louis XII (Battle of Agnadello, the triumphal entry into Milan), and statues of the Twelve Apostles and the four cardinal virtues are the work of the Juste brothers, Italian sculptors who received the order in 1515. The transi(whose realism was so shocking that included an opening abdomen stitched after the extraction of the entrails before embalming) and orans Prie-dieu crowning the platform are attributed to Guillaume Regnault. The tomb was desecrated during the Revolution on 18 October 1793 and the bodies being thrown into a mass grave. Alexandre Lenoir saved much of the monument, which was preserved in the Museum of French Monuments in 1795, before being returned to the Royal Basilica under the second Bourbon Restoration.

Adapted from Wikipedia

The most important and original work of the Juste brothers is the tomb of Louis XII at St Denis, commissioned by his successor Francis I, probably in 1515, and finished in 1531. It bears the name of Jean (Giovanni) only, but is often said to be a work of both brothers working in collaboration. The arrangement with the kneeling figures above links the design with the tomb of Charles VIII, and the placing of the gisants in an arcaded enclosure below follows the usual disposition of the fifteenth century. In all other respects, however, the tomb marks an innovation in French practice. First of all, the enclosure of the gisants is now almost a small chapel open at the sides and the ends. This feature is combined with the allegorical figures of the Virtues at the corners and the apostles in front of the arcade.

In the sculpture several different hands can be distinguished. Two groups - the apostles and the Virtues - seem to be Florentine in derivation and apparently connected with the style of Andrea Sansovino. The apostles and the Virtues can almost certainly be attributed to members of the Juste family. The bas-reliefs round the base seem also Florentine in style and indicate an artist trained in the studio of Bertoldo. On the other hand, as suggested by Vitry and Pradel, the kneeling figures of the King and Queen on the top of the tomb are likely to be by a French artist of the circle of Colombe. The most remarkable group consists of the two gisants. It seems likely that these figures are by a French artist with some knowledge of Italian sculpture. The statues are among the most remarkable works of the period. The sensitiveness of their modelling and the liveliness of their conception are shown up by the contrast with the heavy proportions and coarse modelling of the statues round the base of the tomb. 

Web Gallery of Art

Image: Jean I Juste - Effigies of Louis XII (1462-1515) and Anne of Brittany (1477-1514) from their tomb

 Gisante sffigies of King Louis XII (1462-1515) and Queen Anne of Brittany (1477-1514) from their tomb at St Denis


To English popular perception King Louis XII is presented as the elderly husband of Mary Tudor, who then married for love Charles Brandonm, and who, once reconciled to her brother King Henry VIII, became Duke and Duchess of Suffolk. By contrast King Francis I is one of the most easily recognised Kings of France, and recalled as a (usually)friendly rival and contemporary of King Henry VIII - the French king died only two months after him in 1547.  

There is an online biography of King Francis I here

The new king was 20 and there soon developed that rivalry over appearance and matters of style and presentation with King Henry VIII, who was three years older.

 File:François 1515.jpg

King Francis I

A portrait of 1515-20

Musée Condé Chantilly

Image: Wikipedia

King Francis I was crowned at Rheims on January 25th 1515. There is a useful online account of the history of the ceremony and its form at Coronation of the French monarch and there are some details of the regalia used in the liturgy at Crown of Charlemagne.

In the ritual of the Sacre the new King was anointed with oil from the Sainte Ampoulle - about which there is an online article here - and was vested and crowned as King of France.

The Sainte Ampoulle before it was smashed in 1793

Some fragments of the reliquary and of the oil survived and are still at Rheims


The Crown of Charlemagne - the Coronation Crown of France

Image: Wikipedia