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.

Monday, 14 September 2015

John Duke of Bedford

Today is the 580th anniversary of the death of John of Lancaster, Duke of Bedford (1389–1435), the third son of King Henry IV, and, after the death in 1422 of his eldest brother King Henry V, Regent of France and, when in England, of this realm also for King Henry VI.


 Duke John kneels before St George, who wears the mantle and garter of the Order of the Garter.
The Duke's badge of a root forms the background to the border.
From the Bedford Book of Hours, circa 1423.
  Image: Wikimedia


The Duke's Garter Plate at Windsor 

Jenny Stratford's life of Duke John in the Oxford DNB can be read here. There is a short, illustrated, online account of him at  John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford

 The Duke in close-up from the image shown above

 Image: Wikipedia

An able soldier and administrator under both his father and brother he spent the years of his regency in actively pursuing the Lancastrian cause in France, winning the battle of Verneuil in 1424 - as I often point out to people this was the last major English military victory on the continent until Blenheim, almost exactly 280 years later to the day, in 1704. He was involved in keeping political peace at home with the feuds between his younger brother Humphrey Duke of Gloucester and their uncle Bishop, and later Cardinal, Beaufort, and between wavering allies in the Dukes of Brittany and Burgundy.  His death was a major blow to the English cause in France. A cultured intelligent and able prince he was to prove irreplaceable.

The Duke was also a notable collector and patron of the arts and two pages from his earlier Book of Hours and Psalter from 1414 which went to the British Library in 1928-30 can be seen at http://www.artfund.org/supporting-museums/art-weve-helped-buy/artwork/816/the-psalter-and-book-of-hours-of-john-duke-of-bedford-medieval

Anne, Duchess of Bedford (detail) - British Library Add MS 18850 f257v cropped.jpg

The Duke's first wife, Anne of Burgundy
Detail from the Bedford Book of Hours



Duchess Anne kneels before St Anne, the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child

From the Bedford Book of Hours

Image: Wikimedia 

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