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.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

A fateful marriage

Today is the 450th anniversary of the marriage at Holyrood of Queen Mary I of Scots to Henry Lord Darnley, whom she had created Duke of Albany and who through his marriage became King Consort of Scots. There is a biography of him, illustrated with several portraits, at Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley

King Henry and Queen Mary
A painting of 1565, now at Hardwick Hall

Image: Wikimedia

The marriage potentially reinforced both their claims to the English throne as close relatives of Queen Elizabeth, and as Catholics, or at least sympathetic to Catholicism, likely to receive the support of conservative minded Englishmen in the event of the throne becoming vacant.

In reality the marriage was far from placid, with suspicion and the threat or reality of violence, such as the murder of Rizzio. Their one child, the future King James VI was born in June 1566, but in February 1567 King Henry was murdered at Kirk o Field, followed by the reaction against Quen Mary, her deposition and imprisonment and the passing of the crown to their son, who was crowned as King of Scots two years to the day after his parents wedding. The following year Queen Mary escaped from Loch Leven, was defeated and fled to England, and nineteen years of house detention before she died by the headsman's axe at Fotheringhay.

Is it to indulge in superstition to reflect in passing that the only other royal wedding held on July 29th was that in 1981 of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer? Furthermore the only previous royal nuptials celebrated in St Paul's were those of Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon in 1501 - and think what that led to. These were not good omens.

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