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Might Richard have become Archbishop of Canterbury….?

 

Richard as Archbishop - WordPress

An oft-asked question arose again the other day. Had Richard been originally intended for the Church? He was the youngest son of the 3rd Duke of York, and the Church was the fate of most aristocratic youngest sons. It has been suggested to me that such early training would explain his beautifully precise handwriting. After all, his letters and signature make his peers look uneducated!

Yes, his piety is frequently remarked upon, but then they were all pious in those days. Outwardly, at least. Richard’s piety seems to be have deeper, because the purity of his private life is also remarked upon. He does not seem to have strayed from the marriage bed, which was surely very unusual. He was a young king, and good-looking. His scoliosis wouldn’t been seen because good tailoring would hide it, so none of the awful lies perpetrated by Shakespeare would have applied. He would have been a prime target for female advances. These advances do not seem to have been welcomed. At least, if they were, post-marriage he hid it well! Before marrying Anne, he fathered illegitimate children and acknowledged them all, so he was red-blooded.

Was he a reluctant temporal lord? Was his brilliance on the battlefield, enjoyment of sumptuous fashionable clothes and penchant for lavish festivities a smokescreen? Would he much rather have been Archbishop of Canterbury? That might have depended upon which point in his life it was decided he should not enter the Church after all. When might that have happened? What might have prompted it?

I do not know the finer points of such things, and for all I know the precise proof of it all is known to exist, but if so, I am ignorant of it. So, simply looking on the surface, I would guess a decision to change his destiny was maybe made after Wakefield. The deaths of his father and brother Edmund might have decided the eldest brother, Edward, Earl of March, who would become King Edward IV, that his youngest brother would be better employed as a soldier, “going forth and multiplying” for the benefit of the House of York.

Richard (then eight years old) and his slightly older brother George were children at that time, and exiled safely to their aunt in Burgundy. After the soon-to-be Edward IV’s subsequent victory at Towton, they were brought home. Is that when and why it was agreed that Richard and the Church should no longer be an item? Richard was thus created Duke of Gloucester, and George, for whom the Church was not a consideration, became Duke of Clarence.

So, is it possible that until being sent into exile in Burgundy, Richard had been trained and prepared for the Church? I can remember how, at that same age of eight, I absorbed education like blotting paper. I read books by the score, and everything that was drummed into me at school was taken on board, as modern parlance has it. In the 15th century, when strictness and volume of tuition would have far exceeded that of the 20th century, Richard (being studious by nature) would have been much higher quality blotting paper! For instance, if the Church was involved, he’d have been be well on the way to a thorough knowledge of Latin. It nearly happened to his nephew and did happen to his great-nephew.

I’m sure there are those who will read this and have more informed thoughts and explanations. If so, I hope they will share them.

 

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The ten worst Britons in history?

This is a very entertaining and well-illustrated 2006 article, choosing one arch-villain for each century from the eleventh to the twentieth. The all-male list includes just one King but two Archbishops of Canterbury.

So what do you think?

The Copes of Westminster Abbey….?

copes

Do not let the above title confuse you. This is not about a TV family saga miniseries, but a very interesting subject for all that.

I still like to watch the repeats of ‘Time Team’, and yesterday it was the turn of the lost sacristy of Westminster Abbey. During the course of the programme, Tony Robinson was shown the chest that contained the copes. Only two drawers were opened – one cope was rich ruby red with golden embroidery, the other was purple with silver-gilt embroidery. They were absolutely wonderful, and I so wanted the other drawers to be opened as well! But they weren’t, and I was left wondering what other joys were still hidden away. Surely too many for just the one chest.

Does anyone know if the copes can be seen? Is there, at the very least, a website where I can gaze at my leisure? And what do they call such storage cupboards/chests? I’m sure I’ve heard the name in the past, but cannot recall it now.

Thomas Langton: Richard III’s Character Witness

RICARDIAN LOONS

Amongst the glories of Winchester Cathedral, there is a chantry chapel of outstanding beauty and magnificence. The man who is buried there, and for whom the roof bosses provide a rebus clue, is Thomas Langton, who died of plague in 1501 only days after being elected by Henry VII as Archbishop of Canterbury. Earlier, he had served as the Bishop of Winchester (1493-1501), Salisbury (1484-93) and St. David’s (1483-84), and acted as a servant to three — or four, depending on how you count — English kings. As the information plaque at Winchester Cathedral succinctly announces, Langton had been a chaplain to Edward IV and Richard III, and Ambassador to France and Rome.

Although his death came as a surprise in his 70th year, he did have the opportunity to make an extensive will, showing he died a very wealthy man. It runs to over 100 items, and contains…

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Of well-connected Archbishops

Before the English Reformation, Archbishops were often related to the King, a spare brother from a branch of the Royal family. There were commoners, increasingly so as the years went on. Then the Reformation ensured that the clergy were no longer required to be celibate.

Focussing particularly on the province of Canterbury, there have been three Archbishops of clear Royal descent since 1536:
1) Reginald, Cardinal Pole (1500-58) – a great-nephew of Richard III and a Catholic who wasCardinal_Reginald_Pole ordained late in life, consecrated in 1556 and died on the same day as Mary I, his cousin.
2) Charles Manners-Sutton (1755-1828) – descended220px-Charles_Manners-Sutton_(1755–1828),_Archbishop_of_Canterbury from Anne of Exeter, he was the grandson of the 3rd Duke of Rutland and served from 1805.
3) Justin Welby (1956-) – has been Archbishop since 2013 and was previously thought to be the first incumbent of partial Jewish descent. Earlier this month we learned, through a Charles Moore article following a DNA test, that his biological father was Anthony Montague Browne, a descendant of James I and Joan, traditionally surnamed Beaufort. Ironically, the paternity of Joan’s father is now at issue and she may have been a Swynford.JustinWelby

Subject to that question, this trio of primates would have Edward III as a common ancestor

 

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