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, 6 January 2016

The Coronation of King Harold II

Today is the 950th anniversary of the coronation of  Harold Godwinson as King Harold II in Westminster Abbey.

His predecessor King Edward the Confessor had died only the day before, apparently nominating the Earl when on his deathbed. The fact that the new King was crowned the very next day is often commented upon as  being a sign of haste  - which it doubtless was - but it was also the Epiphany, a very suitable day for a king to have his coronation, and medieval coronations were usually on a feast day. Thus King Edgar was crowned on Whitsunday, and King John on Ascension Day, whilst Charlemagne had been crowned Emperor on Christmas Day

The crown is offered to Earl Harold and he is crowned as King Harold II
Bayeux Tapestry


The scene of the coronation of King Harold II in the Bayeux Tapestry appears to be the earliest surviving depiction of a specific English coronation, even if it has been questioned whether he was in fact crowned by Archbishop Stigand of Canterbury, who was under censure as a pluralist, and not by Archbishop Ealdred of York.

The enthroned King, with crown orb and sceptre, flanked by the Archbishop and the officers of state holding the sword is an image that thas been repeated down the centuries.


The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

Image: telegraph.co.uk

For King Harold II however it was not to be a long reign.

1 comment:

Oxfordtheist said...

An interesting fact about Harold Godwinson is that he is considered by many Orthodox Christians to be the last Orthodox king of England.
The belief is that the Saxon church held onto Orthodox theology until 1066, when the Normans dismantled it and enforced strict Roman Catholicism.
Of course, this theory only holds up if you believe, as the Orthodox do, that Roman Catholicism only developed after Orthodox Christianity, not before or alongside it.