Sacred Monarchy in Medieval England
Fri 13 Jan 2012 - Fri 13 Jan 2012, 18.30 - 20.00
£7.50 / £5 concessions
Throughout the Middle Ages, kings in England, as elsewhere, sought to legitimise and underpin their rule by invoking divine blessing and a divine mandate.
Westminster Abbey, the coronation church and mausoleum of England’s rulers, was raised by Henry III over the tomb of Edward the Confessor, the first and only English king to be papally canonised, and Henry imported Roman craftsman to adorn the royal Church with the symbols of both classical and Christian Rome.
Richard II had himself portrayed in the Wilton Diptych as the favoured client of the Virgin and her divine Son, attended by his sainted predecessors, St Edmund King and Martyr, and St Edward. And on the eve of the Reformation, the fastest growing saint’s cult in England was that of the holy fool, Henry VI, widely believed to have been murdered, whose shrine at Windsor attracted pilgrims in their thousands and generated hundreds of miracle stories.
This lecture by Eamon Duffy, Professor of the History of Christianity, University of Cambridge, considers the nature and forms of medieval holy kingship, and reflects on its relationship to the revolutionary Reformation doctrine of the Royal Supremacy.