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.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Black Rod and the Door of the House of Commons

The Special Correspondent sent me this excellent piece from the blog by Paul Seaward of The History of Parliament:

I have always been inclined to  disagree with the Whiggish interpretation given to this ceremony in, for example, the television commentary on the State Opening of Parliament, and the post bears out my reservations. It is noteworthy that upon Black Rod striking the doors they are immediately opened and after he has paid his respects to the Speaker and House of Commons they immediately do as they are bidden by Black Rod as the Sovereign’s messenger. It recognises and respects the autonomy of the Commons, not their defiance of the Crown. 

In origin as an idea, even if we have no record of such a specific ceremonial, it could even go back to 1376 when in the Good Parliament the Commons asserted a distinct corporate identity, with a recognised Speaker, not an ad hoc spokesman, and the successful claim to bring charges in common against the King’s ministers.

Having been introduced to it I have subscribed to the blog, which has some very good posts illustrating many aspects of the history not only of Parliament but of the country. I would urge anyone interested in this wide ranging topic to do so as well.

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