19 October 2022

A Royal Visit, which might have changed History.

 Very best wishes to all readers on this auspicious Festival of S Frideswide, Patron of the City and University of Oxford. Of course, I am observing the day as a Double of the First Class.

During the 1980s, some savants shewed quite a lot of interest in historical aspects of the Shrine of S Frideswide at Oxford (you will know such names as Biddle and Mayr Harting); articles which you could read, if you wanted to do so, by chasing up papers published in the periodical Oxoniensia which are listed in the footnotes accompanying S Frideswide's entry in Wikipaedia

Here is a little taster. 

Richard Pace, Secretary to King Henry VIII, reported to Cardinal Wolsey, that there was a rumour that "Queen Catherine of Aragon was with child". Pace, naturally, hoped fervently that the child might be a boy. The court from which he wrote was, on 16 April 1518, at Abingdon (melius Abendon); it moved to Woodstock by the 18th. 

"The Queen took the opportunity to visit Oxford en route, and to call upon the former royal almoner to Henry VIII who had preached at the funeral of ... the first of her three baby boys in 1511 ... Richard Rawlyns, Warden of Merton. He entertained her to a meal, and recorded his enthusiasm for her prestigious visit in his own hand in the College Register, where he compared her to Juno and Minerva. To this day a portrait of her (perhaps contemporary) hangs in the Warden's House ... but her visit to Oxford was much more than a social occasion. She also went to the Shrine of the Saint in the Priory and sought a miracle - a male heir for the Tudors.

"On the failure of the Anglo-Saxon princess to answer [the Queen's] prayers hung the fate of the English Reformation."

Sic J.R.L. Highfield. 

King James VII and II and his Queen Mary of Modena were to be luckier in their visit to Holywell a century and a half later... although a cynic might wonder what ultimate good that pilgrimage did.

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