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 28 November 2022

The Household Accounts and the Crosses of Queen Eleanor of Castile

Yesterday I posted in connection with the anniversary of the death in 1272 of King Henry III. Today is the anniversary of the death in 1290 of his daughter-in-law Queen Eleanor of Castile, the first wife of King Edward I. 

There is an illustrated introduction to her life from the Historic-UK website at Eleanor of Castile
The British Library Medieval Manuscript blog recently featured an article about her expenditure in the last year of her life as recorded in her Wardrobe account from September 1289 to December 1299 which can be read at The expenses of Queen Eleanor of Castile

The Queeen died at the village of Harby in Nottinghamshire on November 28th 1290 and her body was taken to Lincoln for embalming. Her viscera were buried in the recently completed Angel Choir of the cathedral with a tomb chest to mark the site. 

Along the route of her funeral procession to Westminster her sorrowing husband was to commission the famous series of Eleanor Crosses of which there were twelve, beginning at Lincoln, then at the places the cortège rested overnight at Grantham, Stamford, Geddington, Northampton, Stony Stratford, Woburn, Dunstable, St Albans, Waltham, Cheapside in London and finishing at Charing Cross. Unique as a tribute in England I understand that twenty years earlier a similar set of crosses were set up to mark the resting points of the funerary procession of the King’s uncle, St Louis on its return to France from North Africa.

English Heritage has a website piece devoted to the Eleanor Crosses which can be seen at The Eleanor Crosses: A Journey Set in Stone

The History Press also has an online account of the crosses which can be viewed at The Eleanor Crosses: Longshanks’ love set in stone

Queen Eleanor’s nephew, the illegitimate son of her brother the Infante Enrique, was Master James of Spain who spent most of his life in Oxford, was the recipient of royal patronage and where, it has now been shown, he was an important writer on music theory. In his last years he agreed to give his house in Oxford, La Oriole, to the new college, the House of Blessed Mary the Virgin in Oxford, which has been established more or less on his doorstep. Thus his sizeable house was to give its name to the new college - Oriel. As part of the arrangement Master James was in effect made an Honorary Fellow and he and his aunt Queen Eleanor were to be prayed for after their decease by the College. Somewhere along the historic line Queen Eleanor was omitted from the list of benefactors in the College Prayer. When I was Head Bible Clerk at Oriel I got her name included once more.

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