Several people have told me that #TheQueue ( #thequeueforthequeen) is like something from the Middle Ages and have asked me, as a medievalist, about it. Here are a few #medieval thoughts about some similarities and differences. 🧵
People on @BBCr4today described seeing flashes of light at the catafalque. Similar signs were reported at medieval royal shrines; e.g at St Fremund's tomb at Offchurch (Warwickshire) the sun shone brightly as a 'special sygne', guiding pilgrims to the entombment of the saint St Fremund's body entombed under an elaborate canopy at Offc
(The Catafalque, a word we don’t use very often, is a borrowing from baroque Roman Catholicism, especially papal catafalques. @OED says it first appeared c. 1660 as 'cartapalco' and derives from medieval Latin 'catafaltus', scaffold. Here's Pope Paul V's catafalque, Rome, 1621) Pope Paul V [Borghese]'s catafalque, Rome (Santa Maria Maggi
The 'disabled access' queue for the Queen’s coffin brings to mind the throngs of people who in the Middle Ages sought spiritual and/or physical succour at royal shrines. There were reports of miraculous cures at Edward the Confessor’s Westminster tomb soon after his burial (1066) Cure's at Edward's tomb. From Cambridge University Library LAs King Edward is buried, sick people are cured at his tomb.
and people associated Henry VI's tomb with healing (here's a representative miracle from Henry VI's cult; Henry was first buried at Chertsey Abbey and later at Windsor, and his tomb became a popular pilgrimage site). Even the act of walking towards the tomb could be curative:
I’ve also read of people bringing photos of the dead, their partner's ashes, and flags to the Queen's coffin. This is akin to a contact relic, where proximity to the shrine can communicate with inanimate objects. Medieval visitors to Charlemagne's cathedral at Aachen often had
little pieces of mirror worked into their pilgrim-badges so the reflection of the image 'touched' and thereby blessed their souvenirs. This 14th-century badge would have once contained a round mirror, to 'touch' the relics through reflection Pewter badge which would have once held a mirror, with seate
Many visitors to the Queen's coffin are making the Sign of the Cross, a gesture of blessing that has a complicated & not uncontroversial history, especially given Queen’s role as head of Church of England. The Sign of the Cross was rare among Protestant laity until the Oxford
Movement revived it in C19. In C15 England, the Brigittine nuns of Syon near London explained it thus: Jesus came down from the Father (forehead), was born as man (breast), suffered on the Cross (left shoulder), ascended to sit at the Father's right hand (right shoulder).
#TheQueue goes via London Bridge, medieval London's key ceremonial entry-point. This was also the site of royal miracles, like the child who fell from the bridge in 1441, saved by miraculous intervention of Edmund of East Anglia, king and martyr (@BLMedieval Yates Thompson 47) A child in a red gown is pushed by a herd of oxen from LondoThe drowned child is passed to his mother, waiting on Thames
A man was arrested today for touching the coffin, a controversial subject in the Middle Ages too. When a thief tried to bite a jewel from the shrine of St Edmund at Bury, Edmund ensured that he was stuck to it until he repented.Edmund's tomb was one of the foremost royal shrines. Henry VI as a child kneeling at the tomb of St Edmund, king

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