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Failure as Invention : King Henry III, the Holy Blood, and Gothic Art at Westminster Abbey

Guerry, Emily (2016) Failure as Invention : King Henry III, the Holy Blood, and Gothic Art at Westminster Abbey. In: Visual Culture and Religion in London. Pickering and Chatto. (Submitted) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Abstract

In the early morning of 13 October 1247, the king of England removed his crown and walked barefoot through the streets of London. This extraordinary display of royal humility served a singular purpose: Henry III (r. 1217–1272) had received a relic of the Holy Blood and he intended to establish a new cult in Westminster Abbey. This particular relic was putatively collected from the wound in Christ's side caused by the pierce of the Holy Lance. To celebrate his acquisition of this precious measure of Christ's blood, Henry carried his new relic in a pious procession, walking from the Cathedral of Saint Paul's to Westminster. Despite the spectacle of the ceremonies staged in honour of the relic's arrival, the cult of the Holy Blood immediately faced skepticism and failed to attract devotion. It was found to be an extremely problematic relic and, ultimately, a confluence of historical, financial, and theological concerns irrevocably undermined its status. While this chapter cannot innumerate every possible factor that led to the collapse of the Westminster cult, which has been examined in depth by Nicholas Vincent, it will examine the ceremonial culture of the relic's reception in London and offer a comparative study with the recent and popular processions in Paris. Although the cult of the Holy Blood failed to flourish throughout the Plantagenet kingdom, it did inspire innovative designs in Westminster Abbey. In the end, this discussion will offer a novel interpretation of the legacy of the Holy Blood cult in Gothic art.

Item Type: Book section
Subjects: D History General and Old World
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: M.R.L. Hurst
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2016 11:12 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 16:56 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/53928 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Guerry, Emily: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1844-3347
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