Friday, 6 January 2017

Birth of King Richard II

On January 6th 1367, 650 years ago, the future King Richard II was born in Bordeaux. He was the second son of Edward Prince of Wales and his wife Joan of Kent.

Their elder son, Edward of Angoulême, born in 1365 died in 1370, and thus Richard became heir to the throne after his father. There is a useful online account of the elder brother at Edward of Angoulême ( though I think few now believe the idea that he is depicted in the Wilton Diptych as the Christ Child ) and more about his date of death at Edward of Angoulême.

Image result for Wilton Diptych

King Richard II from the Wilton Diptych


This day is, of course the feast of the Epiphany and imagery of the Magi figured in later orations to Richard as well, by implication, in the Wilton Diptych of 1397 (or thereabouts) which shows him with St Edward the Confessor and St Edmund in adoration of the Christ Child.

The Wilton Diptych


The connotation of the link with the Magi was further brought out by the fact or tradition that three kings were present at Richard's baptism - those of Majorca, Armenia and the exiled ruler of Castile.
The presence of St John the Baptist in the Wilton Diptych and a saint to whom Richard showed especial devotion - as he records on the inscription he prepared for his tomb - is another link to the future king's birth and baptism. As his birth he was first named John by the midwives and only received the name Richard at his formal baptism, and the Epiphany is also the traditonal day on which the Baptism of Christ was recalled as well as the visit of the Magi and the miracle at Cana.

Richard was baptised in the cathedral of St Andre in Bordeaux 

Bordeaux Cathedral from the north-east

Bordeaux Cathedral from the north-west


The interior looking east


The interior looking west


There is an online account of the history and architecture of the cathedral, with a plan and photographs, here.

There are illustrated online accounts of the Ombrière, the administrative centre of English rule in Aquitaine - Guienne, at The Ombrière Palace and, in French, at Palais de l'Ombrière.

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