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In this she was unsuccessful. During the same year we however find, in the Issue Roll 1st Edward, "a daily allowance of ten marks a-day" assigned her; and from a similar precept in the fourth year, we learn that it was " in aid of her dower until after an extent of her lands should be made, so that the king might calculate her dower." In the third year of her son, we again find her demanding arrears of queen's-gold, and prosecuting the bishop of Winchester for a debt due from his predecessor of £2,229; but in this suit she was also unsuccessful. Even two years after, we again find her prosecuting another suit, and in this instance against the barons of the Cinque-Ports; but the king forbade the payment.
From this period, we find scarcely any notice of Elinor of Provence; she probably, therefore, soon after retired to Ambresbury, although she did not take the veil there until 1287; and in this convent she continued until her death.
Few religious houses have been more celebrated in legend or romance than the abbey of Ambresbury: there, the legend placed one of the earliest British convents, which was richly endowed, for three hundred monks, by the celebrated king Ambrosius; while there, the romance placed a noble convent of nuns; among whom the repentant Guenore, the faithless wife of king Arthur, found an asylum, and passed her later days in prayer and penitence. But the testimony of legend and romance were equally incorrect, for the abbey of Ambresbury owed its foundation to a much later period, and to a Saxon queen, Elfrida, who founded both that and Wherwell, in the vain hope of propitiating heaven for the murder of king Edward, her son-inlaw. Here she is said to have ended her days; and during the Saxon period, the abbey of Ambresbury was among the wealthiest in the land, and it continued an independent foundation until the reign of Plantagenet, when a charge of immorality was made against its inmates, and the monarch suppressed the convent, confiscated its rich endowments, and subsequently caused a prioress and twenty-four nuns to be brought from Fontevraud, to fill the now vacant cloisters. In its new form, however, Ambresbury received high patronage; Plantagenet granted it three charters of abundant privileges, which John enlarged; and it henceforth seems to have become a favourite convent for wealthy and noble women. In 1241, Elinor, the damsel of Britany, that unhappy sister of the unfortunate Arthur, after undergoing a captivity of more than thirty years, was, at her urgent request, here buried; and here, in 1283, her parents' consent having been with difficulty obtained, Mary, the sixth daughter of king Edward, at the instance of her grandmother, the subject of this memoir, although scarcely past the age of childhood, together with thirteen young companions of noble birth, took the veil.
In 1287, according to Walsingham, the aged queen, "despising all worldly pomps/' also took the veil in the convent of Ambresbury, where she remained until her death, which took place about Midsummer, 1291. Of her benefactions to this convent we have no specific account; but she appears in the Monasticon as the foundress of the Dominican priory at Guilford, and of the house of the Black Friars at Chichester, which she founded after Henry's death; and she is also recorded as having been a munificent benefactress to the nunnery of Tarent in Dorsetshire.
Her surviving children were, king Edward; Edmund, surnamed Crouchback, from the circumstance of his having taken the cross; Margaret, first wife of Alexander III. of Scotland; and Beatrix, married to the duke of Britany.
When Edward, who was then in Scotland, received the account of his mother's death, he immediately returned; and, proceeding to Ambresbury, he respectfully superintended the arrangements for her funeral, which were conducted with great splendour. According to Leland, she was buried in the monastery of the Grey Friars at Bedford, where her "image of plaine plate of brass encrounid" was yet to be seen; but the Chronicle of Dunstable, a contemporary authority, and Walsingham, concur in stating that she was buried at Ambresbury.
Architecture—The Norman Style—Its Characteristics—The Gothic— Theories respecting its Origin—Improvements in our Cathedrals— Salisbury built—Westminster Abbey built—Improvements in Secular Buildings—Decorative Painting—Introduction of Stained Glass— The Ancient Method of Painting on Glass—Sculpture—The Sepulchral Effigy—Statues of this Period—Progress of Gothic Architecture —Engraving—Illuminated Manuscripts—General View.
WHILE the thirteenth century was distinguished by rapid improvement in every department, its progress in the arts was so marked and pre-eminent, that it might almost be called the era of their resurrection. Then first the graceful saint smiled from her foliaged canopy on the gazing crowd; then first the suppliant effigy adorned the altar-tomb; then first the gorgeous window, with its " glass of thousand colourings," shed its flood of rainbow light upon the kneeling worshipper; and then first did Gothic architecture display all her surpassing beauty, and rear those splendid fabrics, which even to the present day challenge the admiration of every beholder.
The singularly rapid progress of the arts during this age will best be estimated if we take a view of their progress during the two preceding centuries, which witnessed both the rise and the decline of the Norman style of architecture, and the first rude attempts at sculpture. During the five centuries which succeeded the fall of the Roman empire, the arts in western Europe seem to have wholly vanished from among the natives. Although surrounded by so many monuments of Roman magnificence, no effort, even the rudest, at imitation seems to have been made; and when the stately temples mouldered away, their place was supplied by buildings of the most barbarous construction and materials. About the close of the tenth, or earliest commencement of the eleventh century, a new era in ecclesiastical architecture commenced among the Normans—those regenerators of modern Europe; and the barn-like church was ere long superseded by the imposing Norman cathedral.
The characteristics of this style are strongly marked; in the circular arch, the cylindrical and often massive column; and in the small arcades, with their circular arches interlacing each other along the outer walls, and ranging with the numerous tiers round the lofty square towers. The western entrance is generally plain, except the chief doorway, which is often surrounded by many rows of grotesquely carved mouldings. The east end of the church "always terminates in a semicircular apsis, divided into several compartments by slender pillars, and by string courses, into three stories.5'