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.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Reaction to my Hungarian Heraldry lecture

A few weeks ago I gave advance notice on this blog that I was going to give a talk to the Oxford University Heraldry Society entitled “Hungary Ancient and Hungary Modern: An Heraldic History of the Crown and Lands of St Stephen” on April 8th. That talk has now been delivered, and, thanks to illustrations assembled by a friend into an effective PowerPoint display, went well. It was delivered by Zoom, which meant we had something like fifty attendees. This was more than we usually get and meant that OUHS can link up with other Heraldic groups. That is surely a positive development. From the feedback I have had the talk was a success.

One such response was shared with me from the blog of the Heraldic Society of Scotland which I am copying and sharing as it says nice things about me, but also, and more importantly, comments on one of the images I used, and shows how heraldic art can also be used as striking political comment. It is entitled  Thanks to OUHS :

Many thanks to OUHS secretary, Priscilla Frost, for inviting us to attend an excellent lecture this evening by John Whitehead of Oriel College on "Hungary Ancient and Hungary Modern. The Crown and Lands of St Stephen." This was a tour-de-force of scholarship. One highlight for the present writer was the image of heraldry used as protest.

Here are the arms:

(HungaryAncient impaling Hungary Modern surmounted of the Holy Crown of St Stephen)

Traditionally the bars Argent refer to the four rivers the Duna (Danube), Tisza, Dráva, and Száva.

In 1920 this poster of protest appeared:

The religious and royal elements are cast down and the legend "You have stolen our rivers, you have stolen our montains." is added with the spoiled bars Argent replaced by the names of the rivers. The message in red asks if this should now be the national coat of arms.

Hungary's assent to the Treaty of Trianon on 4 June 1920 ratified the decision of the victorious Entente powers to re-draw the country's borders. The treaty required Hungary to surrender more than two-thirds of its pre-war territories. Irredentism—the demand for return of lost territories—became a central “Maimed Hungary” theme in national politics. The mutilation of the ancient coat of arms captured this idea most effectively.  

The Oxford University Heraldry Society lecture series continues and we are all welcome to sign up to join: 


The next lecture is on May 6th at 6.30 on Heraldry and the Mayflower.

The Romans on the Yorkshire Coast

The discovery of a Roman building complex at Eastfield, which is part of the southern suburbs of Scarborough, has attracted considerable interest. 

The presence of Roman troops at the signal stations along the northern Yorkshire coastline in the later period of the Empire has long been known. The remains of the best preserved of these can indeed be seen at the eastern edge of the promentary on which Scarborough Castle is situated. Some miles to the south at Rudston there was a villa with mosaic floors which are now on display at the museum in Hull. 

However what has attracted attention in the latest discovery is that it is not clear what type of building it was. No comparable structure in known here in Britain. One possibility is that it was a villa with a temple or equivalent feature at its centre. Another suggestion is that it might have been a shrine with accommodation for administrators and for pilgrims. It appears that the buildings replaced an earlier villa or possibly that it had two predecessors.

The site was discovered during preparations for building work but will be preserved as the plans are being altered to accommodate the discovery. For the immediate future it will be reburied to preserve the foundations. Unfortunately it has already attracted the unwelcome attention of unprincipled metal detectorists, but that situation is now being monitored more closely.

There is a report on the discovery from the Smithsonian Magazine at Archaeologists Unearth Sprawling Roman Ruins Unlike Any Found in the U.K.This stresses the importance of the site and has good aerial  photographs. Another report, with more details and which also emphasises the quality of the buildings, and suggests they may have been dismantled rather than falling into decay is from The Scarborough News. This, which has photographs of the site at ground level, can be seen at Scarborough Roman villa: Trespass at significant ruins 'inevitable' say Historic England

LiveScience Essentials also has a report about the discovery which rather concentrates on the actions of the illicit metal detectorists but does also have good views of the site and gives a good indication of its size at Vandals sack Roman-era estate and bathhouse just discovered in UK

The Roman-era estate's remains include a cylindrical building and a bathhouse.
The foundations of the cylindrical main building and its adjuncts. There is also a bathhouse.
Image: MAP Archaeological Practice and LiveScience Essentials

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Interpreting Culloden

In the wake of the 275th anniversary of the battle of Culloden I came across several relevant articles on the website of The Scotsman

The first is from 2016 and it is by Trevor Royle and based on a book he had written about the battle. In the article he concentrates on correcting misconceptions about the battle itself and in putting it into the correct historical context as to its legacy for the Hanoverian army. This ties in with the work of historians such as Christopher Duffy in recent years. The article can be read at Battle of Culloden: myths debunked

The second article is from 2019 and is about the period after the battle when Jacobites sought for some time to continue the fight or to harass government troops, and the period when the government mopped up opponents or sought to overaw them. It is based around the work of Murray Pittock and can be read at The Jacobites who fought on after Culloden

The third piece is from this year and concentrates on the work of Peter Pininski who asserts that he is a direct descendent of Prince Charles Edward. He believes that he is descended from one of the illegitimate daughters of Charlotte, Duchess of Albany and  Prince Charles Edward’s own illegitimate daughter. The story of the descent from Charlotte’s affair with Cardinal de Rohan is set out in a book referred to and the story summarised in another Scotsman article The Polish art historian who claims to be a blood relative of Bonnie Prince Charlie from two years ago. The material in this years article by Peter Pininski is a rebuttal of claims that the Prince neglected the interests of those who had fought for him. This ties in with other evidence of the Prince’s resolve to return to Scotland and to renew the struggle. This does indeed seem to have been his intention until the early 1750s. The article can be read at Bonnie Prince Charlie: My flawed ancestor who 'tried his absolute hardest' for Scotland

The Royal Victorian Order - 125th anniversary

Today is not only the 95th birthday of HM The Queen but the 125th anniversary of the foundation in 1896 by Queen Victoria of the Royal Victorian Order.

The Order was intended as, and has remained, a means of honouring those who support and assist the Sovereign, from members of the Royal Family, members of other Royal Houses and to courtiers and staff. It is normally reported as being founded in part as a memorial to the Queen’s son-in-law Prince Henry of Battenberg who had died that year of disease on the Ashanti campaign. 

As an Order created by the Queen it was under her direct control whereas the established Orders, including at that time the three great national ones of the Garter, Thistle and Patrick were bestowed on ministerial advice. As one in the personal gift of the Monarch it has since 1931 been awarded in each of the Commonwealth realms.

There is a very good and detailed account, with links to other relevant entries, of the Order, its history and insignia from Wikipedia at  Royal Victorian Order This also includes some discussion of the Royal Victorian Chain introduced in 1902 by King Edward VII. This is not part of the Order but is affiliated to it. In some respects it functions as an enhanced upper degree of it, reserved for monarchs and royalty, and most Archbishops of Canterbury and Lords Chamberlain. I suspect this article derived from Peter Galliway’s book on the Order which will cost you an appropriate £125.

The riband, badge and star of a GCVO of the Royal Victorian Order

Image: Nicholas Jackson/ Wikimedia/The Court Jeweller

The closest similar Order amongst other European monarchies is the Order of the House of Orange in the Netherlands. This was founded by Queen Wilhelmina in 1905, and re-structured by Queen Juliana in 1969. There are accounts of it and of the additions to it made in 1969 at Order of the House of Orange at Order of the Crown (Netherlands) and at Order for Loyalty and Merit

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Identifying a significant source for Shakespeare?

An article in the Smithsonian Magazine gives an overview of a recent publication suggesting that a major source for some of Shakespeare’s plays were those of the now little remembered  Thomas North. Those are apparently lost, and positing lost texts can be a dangerous “short cut” of course, but the evidence looks to be substantial for identifying North as a writer whose works were subsequently used by Shakespeare. On the basis of the report, this appears to be a credible argument, even if the case is not proven.

It has long been appreciated that Shakespeare and other dramatists of the period re-wrote plays by other writers, bringing their own greater skills to bear and thus creating their own enduring achievements. In this case it is the identification of North as potentially the author of major sources that is important. 

Shakespearean studies have over the years generated all kinds of eccentric theories as to other people who “wrote” Shakespeare. This however is a much more realistic and credible identification of source material. It does not really detract from Shakespeare’s genius any more than does his use of Plutarch or Holinshead. It might help explain however how it was that in a busy life as an actor-manager and travelling between bases in London and Stratford on Avon in a short period of years one man could be so remarkably productive of great work. As C.S.Lewis commented writers then saw their creativity in how they told an established story rather than it being a new one.

The article, which includes references to recent publications about the theory, can be read at Did Shakespeare Base His Masterpieces on Works by an Obscure Elizabethan Playwright?

Celebrating Easter with the pre-‘55 liturgy

Peter Kwasniewski has an interesting article on the New Liturgical Movement about the increasing use of the traditional liturgy for the Triduum in its form as used before 1955. That it is becoming more widespread is clear both from direct evidence and anecdote, and Kwasniewski suggests it had acquired a momentum that can only increase. His article also has useful links to various other pieces by him relating to the use of the traditional Easter liturgy.

As someone who was, thanks to lockdown and live-streaming, able to follow that form of the liturgy this year thanks to FSSP in Warrington and Fribourg, the article resonated with me. With its author I share both surprise and heartened, that such a development has taken place and so quickly.

Prince Philip on being a ‘European mongrel’

For someone of my views, and being of a sensitive disposition, reading articles in The Guardian on the Monarchy is not usually recommended. However I came across an article from the paper’s online site which does rather probe that rule. It is by Will Hutton, the economics journalist and academic, and is informative as to Prince Philip in action on behalf of the Crown and is an entertaining account of a dinner party at Buckingham Palace. In that it is also ties in with what I wrote in The supra-national background of Prince PhilipIt is also is an interesting commentary on aspects of the European debate amongst the political insiders of recent years.

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Funeral of Prince Philip - some reflections

I spent a significant part of yesterday watching the funeral of Prince Philip, and here are a few reflections on what I saw and thought.

I watched the BBC coverage, which I thought was, on the whole, very good, and more or less back to what one would, and should, expect after some noticeably poorer coverage such as that of the Diamond Jubilee in 2012. However I see that there has been criticism of Huw Edwards and his tendency to talk too much. I thought that was in check on his part and far better than on past occasions when he was certainly far too loquacious.

The various interviewees, drawn from different generations and covering different aspects of the Prince’s life, drew upon the memories of those who knew him, but also spoke of the continuing causes he championed, such as the environment, the Commonwealth and young people through his award scheme and other initiatives. This brought out the Duke’s acuity and his ability to focus on detail and on achieving results. It also brought out the remarkable balance he sustained between being a very real figure of authority and an openness to those he met and encouraged, and to those who were employed by him.

Spring sunshine made Windsor look at its best. The emptiness of the castle was striking and beautiful, lending a sombre dignity to the buildings and setting for the procession and service. In the case of the latter the sight of the nave of St George’s devoid of chairs was especially striking. 

The Royal family were not in uniform, but in morning dress. Whatever one might think about that much publicised situation it did mean that visually they stood stood out from the military personnel, and were in consequence emphasised as a family in mourning. That gave the spectator a sense of personal immediacy and empathy that here was grief and loss, not just public ceremonial.

The service itself was very dignified in the best traditions of The Book of Common Prayer celebrated in a ‘High and Dry’ style with the distinctive presentation of both the Royal Peculars of Westminster Abbey and St George’s. and within the coronavirus restrictions. The austere wording and presence of just the Dean and the Archbishop was appropriate to what was essentially a family funeral but one that was in front of millions of viewers.

The physical emptiness of the nave and the limited number of those in the Quire perhaps reflected coincidentally something of the feelings of the Queen and her family. Here again the viewer, without wishing to intrude, was able to sense something of what might be in the minds of those actually attending. A life of almost a century is a very long one, yet in a chapel over five centuries old and in a castle over nine centuries old, it was a reminder that people live their lives against a longer timescale, yet become part of that wider identity - so the Prince’s life was one fifth of that of the Chapel, as its longest lived Knight more than a sixth of the history of the Garter. In a few weeks time it is five and a half centuries since the first monarch to be eventually buried in St George’s died, yet King Henry VI and all the other monarchs and their family members who have joined him in the vaults there felt very close as part of a continuing thread.

In some of the discussion beforehand there had been a stress on the Prince’s strong Christian belief, his liking for the linguistic economy of the BCP - an example perhaps of his “Get on with it!” approach - and also, in the singing of the Russian Kontakion for the Departed, an acknowledgement of his roots in Orthodoxy and his family members who were martyrs and Passion Bearers for that Church. Whilst he was alive this was not something that was, I think, especially noted in his public persona beyond attendance at Anglican worship on ceremonial occasions and in encouraging the work of St George’s House at Windsor. This was doubtless typical of him, not to make the private side of his life public, but it adds an important dimension to our understanding of him, and to reflect on that essentially private witness in the public sphere, and its legacy.

May he rest in peace.

Friday, 16 April 2021

The supra-national background of Prince Philip

I have been struck in this last week by the overwhelmingly warm and generous nature of the tributes to Prince Philip and the reminiscences of him as both public and private figure. In this day and age that is in itself no small recognition of him and his achievements.

One set of comments amongst so many that registered with me was from my friend Fr Hunwicke on his blog. This was in his post Philip Mountbatten Prince of Greece and Denmark and which drew attention to the Prince’s lack of nationality in his upbringing, travelling as someone of no fixed abode on a Danish passport as a descendent of King Christian IX, and until he became legally British in the months before he married. This is indeed an insight into the still transnational world of European royal families in that period. 

In Prince Philip’s case it can be seen very clearly in the cost of arms he used from 1947 to 1949. Unlike the one we have become used to this one brought out the complexity of his personal ancestry. Granted before his marriage early in 1947 he replaced them in 1949 probably because of the difficulties in reproducing such a shield in small scale and usually only in outline, the arms are discussed in detail in a post from 2015 by the blog A Royal Heraldry in HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh 

The shield was that of the Greek Royal Arms, with an inescutcheon of the Danish coat of King Christian IX, indicating his birth as a Prince of both Greece and Denmark, and with a cantonal shield of the arms of Princess Alice, daughter of Queen Victoria and Grand Duchess of Hesse Darmstadt and by the Rhine, his great grandmother, thus representing both his British and Hesse heritage, which includes that of the Battenburgs-Mountbattens. Therein is expressed the personal history of someone who has been quintessentially British for longer than most us have been alive or can remember, and who could still, truthfully, assert that he was not English ..,


The coat of arms of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh 1947-1949

Image: aroyalheraldry 

Culloden 275

Today is the 275th anniversary of the battle of Culloden.

The events of that day, and, probably more importantly, the events leading up to it since at least the preceding summer, and those which followed it, have proved to have an enduring fascination. This has proved irresistible to continuing or wishful Jacobites, to romantics, to those concerned with Gaelic culture and, indeed, to tourism. 

For historians there have been several interpretations, which to a greater or lesser extent reflect the prevailing mood of the times they were written and the sympathies of the writer.

One, Anglocentric view would see it as little more than a side show, a last, doomed and pathetic protest against the inevitable creation of Great Britain and of greater Britain overseas. For this view the ending of Gaelic society was inevitable, and doubtless for the best. I suspect that in Scotland surviving “North Britons” still subscribe to a version of this, whilst south of the border there is an English view - how widespread I am not sure - that Scotland, like Wales and Ireland, are vaguely picturesque and possibly endearing dependencies to be tolerated but not overly indulged.

A second view would be that this really was a decisive event in Scottish history - the end of the Gaelic and Clan world that had endured for centuries. As a consequence it also has a wider significance for British history and development with the emigration that followed on. For some they see this as a direct consequence of the Prince’s use of Highlanders loyal to his cause, and blame him for what followed. That does not seem to have been the reaction of those who did rally to the Stuart cause, be they Highlander or Lowlander, but it resonates with some today of a more radical persuasion. Others, by contrast, see that the Gaelic way of life was already declining and the effects of the ‘45 and of repression thereafter only hastened the way to the Clearances and the disruption of a centuries-old way of life. These views became more popular as an interpretation in the mid-twentieth century and can be linked to John Prebble’s 1961 book on the battle

A third view is more recent. This would see Culloden, and the campaign leading to it, as indeed one of the decisive battles of the western world. Not for the scale of the events on Culloden Moor on April 16th 1746, but because the Stuarts did not replace the Hanoverians they did not shift their restored monarchy into alliance with France. That would have meant that in the Sevrn Years War the two would not have clashed in North America, New France would have survived and the tensions that resulted between London anc the Thirteen Colonies over the formerly French territories would not have led to rebellion in 1776, to France not virtually bankrupting itself in vain in the resulting war, and so not having to call the Estates General in 1789....

This argument which I have heard set out by the distinguished Scots historian Murray Pittock is an idea more worth reflecting upon than most counterfactuals. It is also part of a significant trend in scholarship which sees the Jacobite rising in 1745-6 as a much more serious challenge to the whole polity than do the other arguments I have cited above.  

Reinforcing that last point is the evidence that Prince Charles Edward definitely hoped to return with men, arms and money, and that Jacobitism was not vanquished on this day in 1746. Much of it did slip into wishful thinking and romantic nostalgia, and in England largely untested. After 1760 when King George III offered a new generation of a British-born Hanoverian monarch did Stuart loyalism become a thing of the heart rather than of the mind. Even so it was one of King George III’s daughters who commented in later life that it was only with the death of Cardinal York - King Henry IX - in 1807 that she felt her family was secure. Within twenty years her kilted eldest brother was feted in Edinburgh and met a surviving Highlander who had fought for Prince Charles Edward in the ‘45, who was introduced to him as “Your Majesty’s oldest rebel”, and Queen Victoria was to show a sizeable dose of romantic Jacobitism in her emotional response to Scotland and its history. In 1873 she wrote in her Journal about the placed Prince Charles Edward had hidden in the aftermath of Culloden and that that she had Stuart blood in her veins.

That romantic engaged with the Riding remains, ebbing and flowing a bit, but still coursing, and not just in the Highlands. For a cause said to have been finished two and three quarter centuries ago, for all its current contradictions and ambiguities, Jacobite emotion is still potent.

Jacobite and neo-Jacobite action lies in the area of commemoration and preservation both of tradition and of places. Yesterday evening the 1745 Association annual commemorative lecture was delivered via Zoom by Andrew  Grant McKenzie. This was entitled “Tourism, Research and Conservation at Culloden Battlefield, 1746-2021“ and looked at the expansion at Culloden of interest, commemoration and of tourism, but also at the threat to site posed by possible development. The hope is that the National Trust for Scotland can expand their landholding and acquire the whole site of the battlefield. The latter part of his talk can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbmzV5VYM80

Culloden has a potential future as a place for tourists, for researchers, for commemoration and for remembrance. Culloden is a place I have not so far visited. Those who have been speak of its essential and palpable sadness. That it was a terrible place of death and destruction 275 years ago is clear, and its aftermath no better. All the more case for respecting and remembering what happened there, and howsoever you interpret the battle and its significance. Whichever side you might have been on had you been there, if nothing else, pray for the dead.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

The Enthronement of Bishop Richard Fleming in 1421

Today is the 600th anniversary of the enthronement of Bishop Richard Fleming - ‘my’ Bishop and the original ‘Clever Boy’ - in his cathedral church at Lincoln in 1421. 

Fleming had been appointed to Lincoln and personally consecrated - “with wonderful piety” as the Bishop recalled later for his epitaph - a year earlier in Florence by Pope Martin V, whom he had served as a Chamberlain. He had returned to England that year but it was not until this day that he was actually enthroned in his cathedral. 

Although Lincoln has a spectacular series of stalls for the canons from the late fourteenth century the bishop’s throne of that era has long gone, and the present one is a not especially successful attempt from the nineteen century to match them.

The enthronement of a medieval Bishop was not only a grand occasion in ecclesiastical matters but also in secular one, the new diocesan being seen as the feudal superior of his estates which stretched across the diocese to Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. The diocese comprised not only Lincolnshire but Rutland, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Huntingdonshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and a large part of Hertfordshire, and was probably the most populous in England, with prosperous towns and countryside, adorned with fine parish churches, numerous monastic foundations and the University in Oxford. The economy might be changing and there might be Lollards in known places, but as a diocese it was an impressive testimony to the spiritual and administrative life of the medieval English church. This achieved its ultimate public expression in the cathedral at Lincoln.

Lincoln Cathedral from the North

Engraving by Wenceslaus Hollar from the seventeenth century showing Lincoln Cathedral from the north and before the fall of the central spire in 1548, which made it the tallest building in the world. The two on the western towers survived until 1807. The Chapter House is in the left foreground.

Image: art.famsf.org

For the occasion we know that as a Lincolnshire landed figure the head of the Mowbray family, the Earl Marshal and also of Nottingham provided new liveries for his retainers on this occasion. To mark the day there was a feast in the Palace for which the menu survives in Two Fifteenth Century Cookery Books (EETS)

Medieval Bishops' Palace, Lincoln, Lincolnshire

The Bishop’s Palace at Lincoln
The remains of the Great Hall are on the left with a second range in the foreground. The central gate tower and lost range to its right were built or rebuilt by Bishop Alnwick in the years after 1436.

Image: explorelincolnshire.co.uk

Such preparations were not just in honour of the new Bishop but for his principal guest, King Henry V and his entourage.

Henry V
King Henry V


The King had been on a tour around the realm, accompanied for part of the time by his new Queen Catherine, who at about this time became pregnant with the future King Henry VI. The visit to Lincoln came after time in Yorkshire, with two shrines favoured by the King to St John of Beverley and St John of Bridlington. It was probably on the last stage of this that news arrived if the defeat and death of  the King’s brother and heir Thomas Duke of Clarence at Baugé on Easter Eve, March 22nd.

The King had been at his Lancastrian ancestral castle at Pontefract and travelled, as his itinerary reveals, by water along the rivers Aire, Ouse - with an overnight stay with the Bishop of Durham on his Howdenshire estates - and Trent and, presumably, the Foss Dyke to Lincoln.

The King’s presence at the enthronement is interesting. He was notably devout and was certainly already acquainred with Fleming. As a gesture of support it may be noteworthy and one reason may be that the new diocesan wanted royal support for his attempt to bring peace to the troubled Chapter at Lincoln. Disputes there have rumbled on across the centuries, but Fleming was attempting to strike a balance between the canons - of which he had been one as Prebrndsry of Cropredy - and the seemingly cantankerous Dean John Mackworth in s long running series of disputes.  Having heard Fleming make his award the King asked if all concerned were content. To this they all replied in the affirmative. The agreement was witnessed by others from outside the Chapter, including Fleming’s brother-in-law, the long standing Lancastrian retainer, Robert Waterton, and all may have been seen to be resolved. This may have been one reason Fleming was doubtless pleased to welcome the King to Lincoln.

However no sooner had the King departed back to France and the new Bishop moved on around his diocese than the Dean and Chapter resumed their feuding. That was not finally ended until Fleming’s successor but one, Bishop William Alnwick (1436-49) - who as the King’s Secretary may well have been present on this day in 1421 - produced his review of the cathedral statutes and issued his Laudum which regulated such matters successfully - or as well as it could until Mackworth had gone to his eternal reward. It has remained as the guide for the Chapter until the General Synod in its wisdom (sic) legislated nationally to create new regulations after the most recent clerical spat at Lincoln in the 1990s....


King Henry V on his visit oversees the award as to the Chapter of Lincoln.
Stained glass by Clayton and Bell 1874 in the Chapter House, Lincoln Cathedral

Image: Flickr 

The Roman Catholic Relief Act 1926

Stephanie Mann on her blog Supremacy and Survival has an interesting post about a topic she had hitherto been unaware of, as had I and, I suspect many others. This is the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1926 which removed many of the remaining legal disabilities against Catholics in Great Britain - not Northern Ireland, which had its own Parliament for such internal legislation. 

It is interesting to read how many pieces of anti- Catholic legislation remained on the Statute Book, even though most appear to have been otiose by the time of their repeal. At that time the Law Commission did not exist to tidy and prune the accumulation of enactments, hence the survival of the measures done away with in 1926 until that date. 

This is an interesting reminder of how legislation piled up and could be overlooked at earlier times, as in 1829, 1832 and 1844, and that the main 1829 Catholic Emanciption Act was not as far reaching as might be thought. It is also a reminder that there were opportunities which were occasionally indulged in, as over the Westminster Eucharistic Conference in 1907, for Catholic baiting. 

That some of it was completely ignored or forgotten is also witnessed to by Catholic churches with towers and bells being built before 1926 or the establishment of Catholic schools and colleges. This I assume was because the relevant authorities and the nation generally assumed such prohibitions were done away with by the 1829 Act.

The post about the legislation can be seen at Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1926

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

The end of the line for Warwick the Kingmaker

I am not the first to make the slightly bad taste joke that the death of Warwick the Kingmaker on the battlefield at Barnet marked the end of the line for him as did for his brother Marquess Montagu on this day 550 years ago in 1471. Not being a great proponent of counter-factuals I will not speculate on what impact the Northern Line ( first opened in 1890 ) might have made in the events of the day had it been in existence in 1471.

Portrait of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, 'The Kingmaker', from the Rous Roll, 15th century.

Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick and Salisbury from the Rous Roll of 1483-4
His shield displays the arms of the Salisbury earldom alone.

Image: luminarium.org

r/heraldry - Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick. Bettter known as 'the Kingmaker' for his influence in English politics.
A modern depiction of the Earl and his heraldic achievements and badges

Image: reddit.com

April 14 1471 was Easter Sunday and the battle of Barnet took place very early in the morning in mist and fog. One of the recorded effects of this was when some Lancastrian troops mistook the star and streamers standard of the Earl of Oxford, who was on their side, for the Sun in Splendour standard of the Yorkist King Edward IV and attacked it.
There is a detailed online account of the campaign preceding the battle and of the events of the day at Battle of Barnet: Death of a KingmakerWikipedia has a shorter narrative at Battle of Barnet There is another, illustrated, account at Battle of Barnet 1471

The specific site of the fighting is somewhat debatable and there is a piece from The Times from 2015 about using possible archaeological evidence of early handguns, as were used at Towton a decade earlier, to ascertain that. What the investigation revealed does not appear. The original report can be seen at Handguns may reveal Battle of Barnet site.

Of those Lancastrian leaders who survived Barnet the Duke of Exeter appears to have been very lucky. His refuge and recovery, presumably in sanctuary, at Westminster doubtless saved him from King Edward IV’s vengeance, as well, perhaps, as the fact that he was married, if estranged, to the Yorkist King’s sister Anne. After a spell in the Tower of London he accompanied the King on his invasion of France in 1475, and somehow managed to fall overboard and drown on the return journey... The Earl of Oxford was a better survivor: after exile, capture, imprisonment and escape he joined King Henry VII at Bosworth and lived on into the early sixteenth century.  

Following his early morning victory King Edward IV was able to attend St Paul’s in London, and later, for the next three days,  the corpses of Warwick and Montagu, naked save for loincloths or their braies, were displayed in the cathedral to show that they were indeed dead. This is not the sort of visitor attraction the cathedral offers these days over the Easter weekend. Following that the bodies were interred at the Salisbury family burial place of Bisham Priory in Berkshire. Nothing remains above ground of the Augustinian priory, although the adjacent Montagu manor house, now styled Bisham Abbey, does survive. As the  monastic site is unexcavated one may assume that the two brothers and their parents are still there awaiting a King Richard III style rediscovery and examination.

Bisham Priory as depicted in the Earldom of Salisbury Roll 1463

Bisham Priory
Image: David Nash Ford’s Royal Berkshire History

When he died Warwick the Kingmaker was only 42, yet for over twenty years he had been a major player in the politics of the country and beyond. There is an introduction to his life, including a useful introduction to the historiography about it, at Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick from Wikipedia.

For all his importance in his lifetime apart from the Rous Roll of a few years later the only other contemporary depiction of Warwick is as one of the weepers on the tomb of his father-in-law, Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick (d. 1439) in the church of St Mary Warwick

Richard Beauchamp 1439 weeper Richard Neville 1460 I

Richard Beauchamp 1439 weeper Anne Beauchamp 1492 
Warwick and his wife Anne, who died in 1492, from the Beauchamp tomb

Images: themcs.org

The Earl’s appearance is not reassuring. He does not look like someone one would want an argument with, as quite a few found in the 1450s, 1460s and in 1470-71. The fourteen figures of the weepers do look like attempts at portraits. Warwick is dressed in his Parliamentary robes, but swathes them in a mourning cloak and, like others of the male figures, holds what is probably a Book of Hours or Breviary.

The Wikipedia summary of his historiography which I drew attention to assesses that in terms of how contemporary accounts shaped Edward Hall, Ralph Holinshead and William Shakespeare’s views, and how Warwick the Kingmaker was on the wrong side of history for the Whig interpretation of the past. Bulwar Lytton The Ladt of the Barons captures te spirit of that combined with nineteenth century romanticism. The Yorkists seem to continue to attract far more historical novelists to their camp than do the Lancastrians - but that is a matter for another post.

For many the best known biography of the Earl is that by the US based historian Paul Murray Kendall, and published in 1957. This has what might be described as a pro-Yorkist emphasis, and presents Warwick in a positive and dynamic way. I have not yet had occasion or opportunity to read the more recent biographies by the English academic historians Michael Hicks (1998) and A.J.Pollard (2007) These I imagine would revise Kendall’s view significantly - as the Wikipedia account suggests - and I really ought to look at them. I am not sure he was as successful a military man as he is sometimes presented, but lucky on significant occasions. As a politician he made the disastrous mistake of creating, but then underrating King Edward IV, and believed that the Lancastrians would forgive and forget. I doubt if they did, whatever the outward appearances. His tumultuous career ended bloodily that foggy morning at Barnet 550 years ago.

That same Easter Day Queen Margaret and her son the Prince of Wales arrived at Weymouth where they were joined by long-standing Lancastrian forces led by the Duke of Somerset, and who were to have their own appointment in Samarra at Tewkesbury at the beginning of May...

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

St Hermenegild

Today is the feast of the Spanish Visigothic St Hermenegild, who was martyred on the orders of his father King Leovigild, or Liuvigild, on this day in 585 for his adherence to Catholic rather than Arian Christianity. At the time he was only twenty one.

The Apotheosis of St Hermenegild
Francisco de Herrero the Elder (1576-1656)
Painted 1620-24

The martyr is shown ascending into Heaven. On the left is St Leander with Hermenegild’s son whilst Leander’s brother St Isidore, is shown on the right. King Leovigild crouches with his face averted.

Image :Wikimedia

There is an account of his life and martyrdom from Wikipedia which can be seen at Hermenegild

There is another account of the story from the National Catholic Reporter at April 13, St. Hermenegild, Martyr

Triunfo de san hermenegildo herrera el joven.jpeg

The Triumph of St Hermenegild
Francisco de Herrero the Younger (1622-1685)
Painted 1654

Image: Wikipedia

Both these paintings point to devotion to the Saint through such commissions and how he appealed to the Spanish Baroque imagination.

This royal martyr is the patron of the Spanish Armed Services and of the Royal and Military Order of St Hermenegild which was founded as a military award by King Ferdinand VII in 1814. It is in many ways the equivalent of the British Order of the Bath (1725/1815) and the Austrian Order of Maria Theresa (1757). It has four classes and is essentially a recognition for faithful  length of service. Wikipedia  has an account of it at Royal and Military Order of Saint Hermenegild

The distinctive Roman purple and white riband of the Order can be seen being worn frequently on pictures of Spanish State and Military occasions.

St Hermenegild pray for Spain and for fidelity to orthodox belief in the Church

More from the Peterborough Psalter

I have now found a set of images of more of the illuminations in the Peterborough Psalter which I posted about yesterday. They give a good idea of the richness of the design and skill of the painters.



Images: manuscriptminiatures.com