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.

Sunday 31 May 2015

Trimity Sunday

Today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity - a few images posted by Gordon Plumb on the Medieval Religion discussion group:

York Minster, sXXVIII, 4a, c.1450:

Leicester, Jewry Wall Museum, Roundel showing Trinity crowning Mary, late 15th century.:

York, Holy Trinity, I, 1c, the same subject of c1470:

York, Holy Trinity, I, 2c, Trinity with Christ as Corpus Christi":

Stamford, Browne's Hospital, sII, Throne of Grace or Gnadenstuhl Trinity, c.1475::

Greystoke, St Andrew, Cumbria, sIII, 2b, Trinity shield:

Salle, St Peter & St Paul, I, 2d, angel holding Trinity shield:

Prof Maddy Gray added a note about the repainted Trinity at St Teilo's chuirch now re-erected and restored at the Welsh National History Museumwith a link to the following account of that painting:
and added that originally the fragmentary wall painting was identified as a Christ in Majesty and it had to be repainted when the text at the bottom was identified

As an addendum to the images in glass John Dillon posted some later medieval images of the Trinity in other media:

a) The Trinity (at centre) as depicted on a later thirteenth-century altarpiece (1260s) from Soest now in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin (image greatly expandable):

b) The Trinity as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century fresco (1317 or later) in Perugia's chiesa di Sant'Agata:
Detail view:

c) The Trinity (upper right) as portrayed by Michiel van der Borch in an earlier fourteenth-century copy (1332) of Jacob Maerlant's Rijmbibel (Den Haag, Museum Meermanno, cod. 10 B 21, fol. 118r):

d) The Trinity as portrayed in the earlier fourteenth-century Hours of Jeanne of Navarre (ca. 1336-1340; Paris, BnF, ms. Nouvelle acquisition latine 3145, fol. 11r):

e) The Trinity as depicted in the mid- to later fourteenth-century Breviary of King Charles V (betw. 1347 and 1380; Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 1052, fol. 154r):

f) The Trinity as portrayed in a mid-to later fourteenth-century copy (before 1376) of Guiard des Moulins' Bible historiale (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 161, fol. 1r):

g) The Trinity as portrayed on a late fourteenth-century boss in the west porch of Peterborough Cathedral (cf. C. S. Lewis' Christ-figure Aslan, often a maned lion, sometimes a bird):

peterborough cathedral porch boss

This boss under the late fourteenth century western porch shows the Trinity, with the Father as the sun holding up Christ's wounded hand whilst the Holy Spirit takes the form of a dove. 

I would add that this is an image I have not seen before and it is quite extraordinary - Clever Boy

h) The Trinity as portrayed on an early fifteenth-century boss (ca. 1402-07) in the south porch of the church of St. John the Baptist, Peterborough:

i) The Trinity as depicted by Antonio Martini of Atri in an early fifteenth-century fresco (ca. 1410) in the basilica cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta in Atri (TE) in Abruzzo:
Detail view:

j) The Trinity as depicted in an early fifteenth-century panel painting (ca. 1410 or ca. 1423-25) by Andrei Rublev in the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow:

k) The Trinity as depicted by Masaccio in an earlier fifteenth-century fresco (ca. 1425-27) in the left aisle of Florence's chiesa di Santa Maria Novella:

l) Jerome's vision of the Trinity (at left St. Eustochium; at right, St. Paula of Rome) as depicted by Andrea del Castagno in an earlier fifteenth-century fresco (ca. 1444-1445) in the chapel of Girolamo Corboli in Florence's chiesa della Santissima Annunziata:

m) The Trinity as portrayed on a fifteenth-century boss in the south porch of the church of St Margaret, Lowestoft (Suffolk):

n) The Trinity as portrayed in a later fifteenth-century apse fresco in the chiesa di San Nicolao in Giornico (canton Ticino):

I would add to these examples the fact that in the late middle ages the Trinity were often depicted crowning the Blessed Virgin Mary as opposed to that act being performed by Christ alone.

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries reformation attitudes to depictions of the Trinity were strong, based on the Second Commandment, and many such images were doubtless destroyed.

Saturday 30 May 2015

Plan to explore the past of Reading Abbey

Stephanie A. Mann has an interesting piece on her excellent blog Supremacy and Survival: The English Reformation about the possibilities of further excavations at the site of Reading Abbey, and in particular the search for the remains of the founder King Henry I. She also writes about the fate of the last Abbot Bl.Hign Cook of faringdon who was martyred in 1539.

St Bede the Venerable

Last Monday was the feast of St Bede the Venerable, and John Dillon has posted these medieval images of St. Bede on the Medieval Religion discussion group.

a) Bede as depicted on the opening folio of a twelfth-century copy of his Homiliae Evangelii (Engelberg, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. 47, fol. 1v):

b) St. John dictating to Bede as depicted on detached fol. 1v of Lambach, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. VI (frontispiece to Bede's In Apocalypsin; circa 1140; leaf now in the Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; image expandable):

  • Saint John Dictating to the Venerable Bede

c) Bede as depicted in an initial 'S' in an earlier thirteenth-century copy (ca. 1220) of his De locis sanctis (Reims, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 36, fol. 221r):


d) Bede as depicted in an illumination illustrating his prayer Domine ihesu christe qui septem verba... in a later fourteenth-century (circa 1378-1383) book of prayers of southern French origin (Avignon, Bibliothèque-Médiathèque Municipale Ceccano, ms. 6733, fol. 56r):


Statues at St Wilfrid's in York

The website of St Wilfrid's in York, now in the care of the Oxford Oratorians recently reported a gift of statues to the church from the Poor Clares in the city:

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Visitors to the church will have noticed the new statues in the baptistery and on the altar steps. At least, they are new to St Wilfrid's. They have been in the Poor Clares' monastery in Lawrence Street for 140 years and have been given to us by the nuns now they have moved to their new house at Askham Bryan. We are very grateful to the sisters for their generosity.

The altar of the Sacred Heart was in the church and may be familiar to some people. The statues of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and the Pietà are probably less well-known as they were in the cloister of the monastic enclosure.

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The statues have already attracted a lot of prayerful devotion. We will use the Immaculate Conception statue in May and in December.

If these devotional images seem to fit very well here we should not be surprised. The plinth, altar and niches were designed by George Goldie, the architect of St Wilfrid's, only a few years after St Wilfrid's was opened in 1864. Goldie built a number of other churches in the diocese, including the old cathedral, and a number of churches in Ireland. His practice was in York; he was a parishioner here; and his daughter was one of the first nuns in Lawrence Street. So perhaps these statues were a labour of love. It is right that they should be kept in York.

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Text and images: stwilfridsyork.org.uk

Plans for Corpus Christi in Oxford

Next Thursday is the Feast of Corpus Christi, and on the day itself there will be a High Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the Oxford Oratory at 6 pm. I believe there will also be an EF Mass at SS Gregory and Augustine in Woodstock Road at the same time

On Sunday June 7, the day of the transferred Solemnity in the novus ordo, there will also be the North Oxford Deanery Corpus Christi Procession in the city. This year it will be led by the Archbishop of Birmingham. The procession commences at 2.30 at Oxford Oratory, and is scheduled to have a station with sermon at Blackfriars (but this may be affected by the need for urgent repairs to the ceiling of Blackfriars church) and proceeding to the University Chaplaincy for Solemn Benediction to conclude the afternoon.

This is always a good occasion to participate in - an act of witness, and an act of celebration of our Lord's abiding presence with His people.

Friday 29 May 2015

Happy Oak Apple Day!

Having been busy with posts about deposing Popes and crowning Kings of France I have almost forgotten to wish readers a happy Oak Apple Day and to celebrate the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660. a day upon which to render thanks to God for the happy events of that day and to pray that other nations may yet be similarly blessed.

The Coronation of King Charles X - the Regalia

Following on from my previous post I have found a useful online site, which covers the history of both the regalia and th crown jewels, including their sale and dispersal in the 1880s, and which can be accessed here.  I have copied and slightly edited those parts about the surviving pieces of the French regalia which would have been used in 1825.

There are still in the Louvre French coronation ornaments of varying antiquity which were 'restored' for the coronations of Napoleon and King Charles X.

The most important item is the Sword of Charlemagne known as Joyeuse. The hilt and the ornamentation of the scabbard and hilt are in gold. The pommel is adorned with the intertwined figures of two fabulous birds resembling phoenixes. The guard terminates with two winged lions, the eyes being of lapis lazuli. The best authorities attribute the handle to between 1000 and 1100 AD although some consider that it has features which could date it back to the Carolingian period. The grip was remade in the 1800s but was restored for the coronation of King Charles X when the blue velvet covering was used. The goldsmith's work on the scabbard is enriched with sapphires, topazes, amethysts, a garnet and a rock crystal. The sword and scabbard in its original state can be seen in  Rigaud's portrait of King Louis XIV.

The Sword of Charlemagne ("Joyeuse")

Hyacinthe Rigaud's portrait of King Louis XIV. The sword 'Joyuese' is at his side.

The coronation spurs are made of gold and were restored in the 1800s when some garnets were added and the fastenings of gold and velvet were provided.

The Royal Sceptre, depicting Charlemagne seated on a throne.

The royal sceptre consists of the sceptre proper, a short rod with a lily resting on a ball, on the top of which rests a detailed statue of Charlemagne seated on a throne, with a closed crown on his head and a long scepter in his right hand and an orb in his left. On the step of the throne is the inscription Sanctus Karolus Magnus, Italia, Roma, Germania. On the base of the lily are three bas-reliefs of subjects taken from the Chronicle of Archbishop Turpin. The first subject is taken from the beginnings of the Chronicle in which the Apostle St. John ordered Charlemagne to deliver Spain and Galicia from the power of the Saracens. The second is taken from Chapter XIX of the Chronicle: "How the lances and axes of the Christian knights were found all flowing and rooted in the earth." The third subject is from Chapter XXXII of the Chronicle, and represents the death of Charlemagne. The sceptre was adapted for King Louis XIV into a long sceptre by the addition of a plain gold staff six feet high which could have been seperated into three pieces. The present staff (formerly that belonging to the Precentor of St. Denis) bears the following inscription in old French:

Of silver this baton was made
In the year MCC eighty [sic] [1280 AD?]
Fourteen, neither more nor less
(Of) those who will hold it in their hands
Will pray when life is ended
That his soul shall be transported to heaven
...Let it be kept
and he looked at great feasts
For to maintain loyalty
The Precentor should carry it in his hand.
Today the inscription is covered with purple velvet embroidered with fleurs-de-lis, added for the coronation of King Charles X.

The sceptre itself is thought to have been made for King Charles V (1364-1380) and that the lily was originally enamelled white [Clever Boy]


The Hand of Justice sceptre, now in the Louvre. 
The lower image  mirrored - it should be a reverse of what you see.

The clasp of the royal mantle, sometimes called the Clasp of St. Louis, is a large lozenge-shaped chased silver plate in the center of which is a large fleur-de-lis picked out with jewels. Several stones are now missing but 6 amethysts, 6 emeralds and 11 garnets remain while the framework is adorned with 26 garnets and 2 sapphires. Clasps of this sort had been worn by the Kings of France for several centuries and certainly earlier than St. Louis, but this one, despite its inscription in the inventories of St. Denis, is attributed to the 1300s and is similar to the one described in an inventory of the jewels of King Charles V taken in 1379.

The signet of St. Louis which was formerly kept at St. Denis has on the bezel a pale, table-cut aquamarine in which is engraved the figure of St. Louis standing crowned and carrying a scepter and the letters S.L., --- Sigillim Ludovici. The setting is of gold and on the hoop of the ring is a fleur-de-lis in niello. As the figure of St. Louis has a nimbus it must be of a later date than his canonization in 1297, twenty years after his death.

The crown of King Charles X, designed by the House of Bapst for King Louis XVIII. It followed the traditional pattern and the Regent Diamond was set in the great surmounting fleur-de-lis. It was not broken up until 1854, at which date the frame without the stones was kept in the cellars of the Ministry of Finance. The Crown Jewelers, Messrs Bapst, offered to purchase the crown, set it with facsimile stones and present it to the Louvre. Unfortunately, this led to authorities ordering it to be secretly broken up.

The Regent Diamond 140.50 carats
There is a history of this famous stone here

Images and text(adapted):famousdiamonds.tripod.com

The Coronation of King Charles X in 1825

190 years ago, on May 29th 1825, there took place the coronation of King Charles X in the cathedral at Rheims. Fify years earlier, and a world away, his elder brother King Louis XVI had been anointed and crowned at Rheims. Now in a true spirit of restoration once more a King of France approached his sacre. In style and splendour the Coronation was similar to that of King George IV at Westminster in 1821. They can both be seen as part of that awakening interest in medieval culture across western Europe at the time. For an introduction to the history of the ceremonial see the online article Coronation of the French monarch.

The Coronation of King Charles X
The homage of the Dauphin
François Gérard, 1827. Palace of Tau, Rheims


France, Dauphin's Crown, 1823Dauphin Crowns, Dauphin Louis, Royal Crowns, Diadem Crowns Tiaras, Louis Antoine, 1825, Crowns Jewels French, France, Royal Jewels

The Crown of the Dauiphin, Louis Antoine, Duke of Angouleme, and later the de jure King Louis XIXwhich he wore at his father's Coronation in 1825. The crown was apparently made in 1823.


There are pictures of some of  the liturgical vessels and robes and other insignia used at the Coronation, such as the Chancellor's mace which are now preserved in the Tau Palace adjoining the cathedral at the website Charles X, The Last Coronation. Tau Palace, Reims, [traveltoeat.com/charles-x-the-last-coronation-tau-palace-reims-france/} - but the link appears unstable.

For the Coronation a new state coach was made, and which today can be seen at Versailles..

The coronation coach of Charles X (otherwise know as Charles Philippe, the comte d'Artois)

  The Coronation Coach of King Charles X

There is a video about it on the website at The Coronation Coach of Charles X - 1825, with some details about it and its subsequent history at Close-up on the Coronation Coach of Charles X - 1825. There are more pictures of the coach and other French royal coaches, including the very impressive funeral coach made for the body of King Louis XVIII in 1824, here.

The entry of Charles X into Paris after his coronation on June 6, 1825Louis François Lejene

The entry of King Charles X into Paris on June 6th 1825 following his coronation

Louis François Lejene


A British link with the coronation can still be seen at Alnwick castle in Northumbertland:

The Percy family State Carriage - a luxurious state coach which once carried the 3rd Duke of Northumberland as George IV's personal representative to the coronation of Charles X in France in 1825.  It was repainted in 1902 for use at the coronation of King Edward VII, and was beautifully restored in 2011 for the wedding of the present Duke's eldest daughter, Katie.  Lady Katie's wedding dress is also on display in the coach house.  The coach was used again in June 2013 for the wedding of the Duke's youngest daughter, Lady Melissa, to Thomas van Straubenzee.

The Percy family State Carriage which carried the third Duke of Northumberland as KingGeorge IV’s personal representative at the coronation of King Charles X.

It was repainted in 1902 for use at the coronation of King Edward VII, and was beautifully restored in 2011 for the wedding of the present Duke’s eldest daughter, Katie. The coach was used again in June 2013 for the wedding of the Duke’s youngest daughter, Lady Melissa, to Thomas van Straubenzee.

Image: bikernz.wordpress.com

I am. of course, awaiting the next coronation of a King of France at Rheims.

St Philip's Day with HE Cardinal Burke

Last Wednesday evening the Oxford Oratory was honoured to welcome His Eminence Cardinal Burke to our Church to celebrate a Solemn Pontifical Mass for the feast of Our Holy Father St Philip, in the fifth centenary of his birth. These images are all from the Oratory website, with a few additional comments which I have added.

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We were joined by many friends and visitors, including the Rt Rev. Hugh Allan O.Praem., Prior of the Norbertine community in Chelmsford, and many local clergy and Knights of Malta.

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The Cardinal entered the Oratory church in his cappa magna :

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After praying before the Blessed Sacrament the Cardinal went to vest for Mass in the Sacristy:

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In the procession was a new banner of St Philip, commissioned to mark his fifth centenary:

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In his sermon, the Cardinal encouraged each one of us to take St Philip as an example of how to transform the world in Christ. His full sermon can be read here.


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The Archbishop of Birmingham very kindly leant us Bishop Ullathorne's crozier for the Cardinal to use:


On Wednesday, Fr Daniel took the Cardinal on a tour of Oxford. Here he is pictured next to the bust of Blessed John Henry Newman in Trinity College. He also visited Christ Church where he was able to view what is believed to be Cardinal Wolsey's red hat, which he received in 1515, the year of St Philip's birth.


Images: Oxford Oratory

Deposing the Pope

Today is the anniversary of the twelfth session of the Council of Constance which deposed Pope John XXII, of the Pisan line, one of the three claimants to the Papal throne.

There are online lives of the Pope at Antipope John XXIII and from the old Catholic Encyclopaedia at Antipope John XXIII

He had already fled from Constance, seeking thereby not only his own liberty but perhaps to thereby invalidate the Council. In both he was uncuccessful.

During his absence John was deposed by the Council, and upon his return he was tried for heresy, simony, schism and immorality, and found guilty on all counts. Gibbon As Edward Gibbon, with typical Enlightenment cynicism, famously wrote, "The more scandalous charges were suppressed; the Vicar of Christ was accused only of piracy, rape, sodomy, murder and incest."

The following paragraphs are adapted from an internet source:

Following this the ex-Pope, once more Baldessare Cossa, was promptly imprisoned in Germany and was just as quickly ransomed by his friend Giovanni di Bici di Medici of Florence. Powerful, cunning men often attract the interest and friendships of other powerful and cunning men and the father of the Medici fortune had become a friend of Baldassare during the young man’s time in Bologna. Giovanni di Bici di Medici had an eye for making money and Baldassare had a perpetual love and need of it. Bici must have seen the path that Baldassare was forging for himself, often with brute force, and a friendship evolved. As a supporter of Baldassare, Bici had loaned his money in an astute way at an important point in the career of the future Pope John XXIII and his reward from his friend in 1413 was for the Medici Bank to obtain the Curia account - a near monopoly of the bank account of the Papal Estates. It was a piece of business genius that laid the foundation for the wealth and power of the Medici in Florence that lasted almost 300 years.


The only tomb in the magnificent Baptistery in Florence is that of Baldassare Cossa.  It was commissioned by the executors of his will after his death on December 22, 1419 and completed during the 1420s. The cost of this tomb was reputed to be 800 Florins - at a time when a rich man could build an entire palazzo in Florence for 1,000 Florins. The tomb was paid forby the Medici’s to say express their gratitude; engaging the great Donatello who sculptured the figure of Baldassare whilst Michelozzo created the surrounding drapery and tabernacle. It is a masterpiece in its own right, which outraged Pope Martin V who protested in vain against the inscription on the sarcophagus: "John the former Pope".

Image and text (adapted): perfectraveller.com


Wednesday 27 May 2015

Iron Kingdom

I recently completed reading Christopher Clark's  excellent Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia 1600-1947


This really is a wonderful piece of historical scholarship, and a very readable book. It combines elegance and erudition, and richly illustrated with telling, and often entertaining, examples from the history of Prussia and the Prussians. Inevitably, and fittingly, the Hohenzollerns are centre stage for much of the historic drama that is unfolded before the reader's eyes.

It is thought provoking, and a book from which the reader learns a very great deal. It is the type of book to read, to have for refernce and to share with others.

A recurring theme is that of the contrasts and conflicts between a sense of identity inherent in the realm, the state and the nationalism of a unified Germany, even if led and dominated by Prussia. That these three concepts might not indeed be the same, however much they shared, is central to much of Clark's argument about what made Prussia what it was, and the extent to which their conflicting ends counteracted each other.

Political map of central Europe showing the 26 areas that became part of the united German Empire in 1891. Germany based in the northeast, dominates in size, occupying about 40% of the new empire.

Prussia within the German Empire

Image: Wikipedia

He also draws out the dilemma posed by the location of the Kingdom and the continuing question as to whether it should primarily look west or look east or look south. For much of its history it was the weaker in power relationships with its neighbours. 

The sudden move to the first rank came only in the 1860s, and that was more uncertain than is often depicted. Thus in 1860 The Times could write of Prussia that had hitherto failed to demonstrate true potential, and in the war of 1864 - the first Prussia had fought since 1815, bar policing measures in 1848-9 within the Confederation - its army was far less successful than that of the Austrians, who had fought in 1858-9 in northern Italy, against Denmark. Again in 1866 the defeat of Austria was perhaps more surprising than one is often led to believe in school text books.

This is above all a balanced and humane book, rich in human sympathy for both princes and paupers. The one Prussian Clark writes about whom he appears to dislike is Hindenburg - who has, I think, had a rather good press in Britain.

The last chapter, covering the period after 1918 makes for depressing reading, heartrending at times, and culminates in the idiocy of the 1947 abolition of Prussia by the Allies, on the basis that Prussia of itself was the cause of all the evils that had beset Germany. The problem and perception of the memory of Prussia, the remembrance of the realm, which runs through the book draws it to a conclusion as elegant as one could wish to find in such a work.

File:Royal Standard of the King of Prussia (1871–1918).svg

Royal Standard of the King of Prussia from 1871

Image: Wikimedia Commons