After landing at
on 13 August 1189, Richard, the younger brother of Henry the Young King, was
crowned king of
“on the third of September, being Sunday, the feast of the ordination of Pope
St Gregory”. Following the tradition, the ceremony- always an elaborate affair,
consisting of prayers and rites- took place in Westminster Abbey on a Sunday*.
It was described by Roger of Howden, whose account became the first full and detailed
description of a coronation from this period. Thanks to Howden we know that the
nineteen archbishops, bishops and bishops-elect, the thirteen abbots (two from England ), the
eleven earls, the seventeen great barons and officials participated. The elder
brother of William Marshal, John was responsible for ‘carrying in his hands two large and heavy spurs from
the king’s treasure’, that Godfrey the Luci was the one who went next to him
carrying the royal cope, and that William himself was carrying ‘the royal
sceptre, on the top of which was a golden design of the cross’. The canon also
mentioned William earl of France Salisbury with the
royal rod (with a dove on the top),
David, earl of Huntingdon (the younger brother of William I of Scotland), Robert earl of Leicester, and
Richard’s younger brother, John, count of Mortain and earl of . David, Robert and John were all
carrying ‘three swords with splendid golden sheaths from the king’s treasure’.
At the time of the ceremony sword-bearing before the monarch was a mark of
signal honour. William de Mandeville, count of Aumale and earl of Essex, and
one time official to Richard’s father was carrying the golden crown. Gloucester
Richard's coronation (via Wikipedia)
What does the chronicler say about the ritual itself? After Richard assisted by Hugh, bishop of Durham on his right, and Reginald bishop of Bath on his left, had arrived at the altar he made three oaths to the archbishops, bishops, earls, barons, clergy and people. He swore on the Gospels and on the holy relics that ‘he would bear peace and honour and reverence towards God and the holy Church and her ministers all the days of his life’. He also swore that ‘he would administer fair justice to the people committed to him [and]… that if there were any bad laws or corrupt customs in his kingdom he would destroy them, and uphold good ones’.
After having been stripped of his clothes and left only in his shirt (unstitched at the shoulder) and breeches, Richard was shod with sandals woven from gold. Then he received the sceptre to hold in his right and the royal rod in his left hand from the Archbishop. Then he was anointed as king by Baldwin, archbishop of
. This was done by pouring holy oil
over Richard ‘on three parts of his body, namely on his head, on his shoulders
and on his right arm, with the appointed prayers for this act’. Canterbury
Then a consecrated linen and the cope over it were placed on Richard’s head and he was dressed in the ceremonial robes: a tunic and a dalmatic. Afterwards the archbishop girded him with a sword “for constraining those who do wrong to the Church” and protect the weak. Then he received the splendid golden spurs and was dressed in the cloak, and promised again that ‘with God’s help everything he had said before would be upheld in good faith’. Finally the crown he picked up himself and handed to the Archbishop was placed on his head and he was lead to his throne by Hugh bishop of
Durham on his right and Reginald bishop of on his left. Bath
The lavish banquet followed and all the participants ‘feasted magnificently’. 1,770 pitchers, 900 cups and 5,050 dishes had been bought for the occasion. It was also an occasion to exchange the gifs. The freshly crowned king, for instance, gave the archbishop of
Canterbury a huge ivory horn, that the archbishop chose to
dispatch to the shire of St Thomas, . To this
particular feast we can date back the first piece of music composed especially
for the occasion in honour of a monarch. Let me quote the English translation
of Professor Gillingham: Canterbury
The age of gold returns
The world’s reform draws nigh
The rich man new cast down
The pauper raised on high.
Unfortunately the next day opened with Richard receiving a most unwelcome news. At the time of the ceremony the riots occurred. The Jews, who had been barred from attending the coronation, tried to enter with the gifts for the new king, but the Christian participants would not allow them. Some Jews were killed, others wounded. The riots spread to the city of
where further Jews fell prey to Christians, their houses and properties
plundered and burned down. The occurrence infuriated Richard, who had taken
Jews under his protective wings, treating them as a source of income. In spite
of the king’s effort to prevent further trouble, the anti-Jewish riots followed at London Lynn,
Stamford, reaching its height at in March 1190. Richard,
next to Stephen (king of England 1135-1154) half-a-century earlier, was the
only English monarch of this period, who underwent a kind of a “re-crowning” ceremony- the could be no
question of precipitating the unctions as being too unique- to emphasize his
return to full power and his regality. Richard, and Stephen before him,
suffered the indignity of being held captive by their opponents. Stephen in early
1141, when he was captured at the battle of York Lincoln;
Richard in late 1192, on his returning from the Holy Land.
Richard, whose capture and imprisonment caused uncertainty in England, took Stephen’s re-crowning of 1141 as a
model and was crowned for a second time on 17 April 1194, at . Winchester
* John’s crowning ten years later took place on Ascension Day and was a notable exception.
The Plantagenet Chronicles ed. by Dr.Elizabeth Hallam.
Editions, 2002. Greenwich
Coronation. From the 8th to the 21st Century by Roy Strong. Harper Perennial, 2006.
Richard the Lionheart by John Gillingham. Wiedenfeld and Nicolson, 1989.
1042-1228 by Toby
Purser. Heinemann, 2004. England