23 April 2021

Doubly crowned?

April 23 (1661) was the date of the Coronation of King Charles II; the return of Merry England marked by a Coronation on the Feast of S George, Patron of the Realm. After His Majesty's death, his brother James fixed his Coronation (1685) for the same date (and I am sure that a political point was being made when 'Queen Anne' did the same).

But the Coronation of King James VII & II offered a complication. The form of the English Coronation Service, laid out in a venerable liturgical book called the Liber Regalis, kept at Westminster Abbey, retained the old Catholic structure of a Coronation inserted into a non-communicating Pontifical High Mass. (Apart from the Celebrant, he only Communicant was the Sovereign, and, if he had one, his Consort.) The celebrant was, normally, the Archbishop of Canterbury; deacon ('Gospeller') and subdeacon ('Epistoler') were senior diocesan bishops.

All well and good. But since the Schism which Bloody Bess perpetrated (incidentally, after her Coronation by Catholic rites and lawful Catholic bishops), the Eucharistic Rite had been the new Anglican one. James VI & I; Charles I; Charles II had all thus been crowned. And the Celebrant, who also performed the Anointing and the Crowning. was a prelate not in communion with the See of Rome.

And, in 1685, the new King was a Catholic. 

They tried to persuade him that, since the Eucharist was an integral part of the ceremony, he should receive Holy Communion according to the Anglican Use. But he resisted; and, on April 23, for the only time in history, a King of England was crowned according to a rite which excluded the Eucharist.

You may or may not have have found all that interesting. But here comes the really intriguing bit.

There have been persistent rumours that King James had himself crowned privately according to Catholic rites, before his 'Anglican' Coronation.

Where? No problem there. Despite the Schism, most Queens Consort had been Catholics, and, just to the North of S James's Park, there is the Chapel Royal of the Queen (built by Inigo Jones). So there was a Royal Catholic Chapel fully equipped with clergy and other necessary persons and appurtenances.

By whom? This is the dodgy bit. At that time there was no Catholic Bishop in England.

Andrew Barclay's doctoral thesis on King James' Household alludes to notes by a Benedictine called Ralph Benet Weldon. He claimed that the King, and Queen Mary of Modena, were anointed and crowned in private by a Capuchin priest called Mansuet, using oil sent from Rheims by Louis XIV (British Library Additional Manuscript 10118, folio 93). 

A lovely idea. But it worries me. Kings should be crowned by Bishops, both in the traditions of the English Monarchy and according to the Post-Reformation Pontificale Romanum.

I find it hard to believe that a mere presbyter took it upon himself to do a full Coronation Service, according to either of those two rites.

Might he have simply anointed King James, on the grounds that the anointing in Westminster Abbey was going to be invalid? 

Or, possibly, the information is a garbled version of information to the effect that King James received Holy Communin from Fr Mansuet (of course, reception of Holy Communion by layfolk was not very common among Catholics at that time and might therefore have been noticed). 

It would be interesting to know if there is any other evidence which does not come ultimately from the Weldon-source. 

 


5 comments:

William Tighe said...

"But since the Schism which Bloody Bess perpetrated (incidentally, after her Coronation by Catholic rites and lawful Catholic bishops) ..."

As you are aware, there has been some controversy about the manner of her coronation; specifically, about the Mass at it and whether she received communion. IMO, the most probable view is that although she was anointed and crowned by Owen Oglethorpe, Bishop of Carlisle (who was later, in June 1559, deprived of his see for refusing the Supremacy Oath, and who died on 31 December of that year), the Mass was celebrated, in a "traverse" behind the altar with few others present and which was concealed from general view, by George Carew (d. 1583), the Dean of her Chapel Royal. The Mass rite was the Sarum Rite, with the elevations of the Host and Chalice at the consecration presumably omitted (because the Queen had walked out of Mass in her Chapel Royal on Christmas Day, when Bishop Oglethorpe, the celebrant, refused to omit those elevations, as the Queen demanded) and with Cranmer's 1548 "Order of Communion" interpolated into it (as had been required in 1548), and with communion being given to the Queen in both kinds. I think we can term it a "Catholic rite," despite its obvious hint that a movement towards Protestantism was in the offing.

Paul said...

“Bloody Bess” !!
Can that description of Queen Elizabeth I be honestly regarded as accurate and fair?

Augustine Pinnock said...

Thank you, Father. This is indeed very interesting. It has got me looking in the 'De benedictione et consecratione Regis'section of the Pontificale Romanum (I wasn't able to find the text of the Liber Regalis online, unfortunately). Does anyone know when the last coronation of a Catholic monarch was according to these rites? I would guess Blessed Emperor Charles or one of the Spanish monarchs.

Fr. Terence Crotty said...

Father, there is an article by Fr. Hugh Fenning OP in the Armagh Diocese Historical Journal, Vol. 18/1, from 1999-2000, on Archbishop Dominic Maguire OP, of Armagh, and so the most senior Catholic cleric in James' three kingdoms, available on JStor. He writes (p. 39) that 'rumours flew as far as Brussels and even Naples that Maguire was to officiate at James' coronation ...' Nevertheless, the Archbishop of Canterbury did, and at the time 'so far as one can tell, Maguire was still in Ireland.' Nevertheless, Maguire was an intrepid traveller, and did spend several months in London early in 1685, with a fulsome welcome from James, who had already recommended him for Armagh. Fr. Hugh, who died some years ago, told me in conversation that he personally thought that Maguire did, in fact, crown James before his coronation in Westminster. No proof, there, so, but another name to add to the plot.

coradcorloquitur said...

"Bloody Bess"? Ask the countless faithful Catholics in England, Ireland and Wales at the time of Elizabeth I who were hounded in possibly the world's first police state (presaging the monstrous use of that arm of the state in 20th century Europe and present-day UK and America), tortured, and fined into penury (for refusing to attend the new Protestant service in once Catholic parishes), as well as the countless martyrs (both dry and bloody) who fell victim to this unfortunate woman's complex pathologies. Yes, bloody indeed---in fact, bloody is an example of the rhetorical litotes, the intended understatement, for in justice she deserves much more. St. Oliver Plunkett, St. Margaret Clitherow, St. Thomas More, St. John Fisher, St. Edmund Campion, St. Robert Southwell and all glorious martyrs of the English Reformation who suffered for the Faith under Henry, Edward, Bloody Bess and James I---pray for us.