Some more snippets from The Crown Jewels 1998
“At some time in the late fourteenth century Richard II, who took the same eager interest in the Coronation and its antiquities as his forbear Henry III, made inquiry of the monks of Westminster Abbey about the origins of the English Regalia and the Coronation of the English Kings. In answer Walter of Sudbury, a reverend and learned monk and priest of Westminster, composed a little treatise for the King’s edification. In it he declares that opinion about the origins of the Regalia was divided between those who held that they originated with Alfred (d. 901), the first King of England, and those who held that they had been instituted by Edward the Confessor (1042-66).
[Much arguing to and fro.]
“A special difficulty in setting out lucidly the history of the English medieval regalia is that the Westminster Regalia was not the only Regalia used at coronations. The kings also had their own Regalia, kept in their own treasury.
[It gets very complicated.]
“To make confusion worse, the king also wore a crown, royal robes and other royal ornaments on certain solemn festivals in the year, in earlier times at Christmas, Easter and Pentecost, and whenever he appeared in his estate, for example in the late Middle Ages on Twelfth Night or at the opening of Parliament. For these occasions other royal robes and ornaments were provided, at any rate from Edward III’s reign, when it became the custom to keep the Coronation Ornaments and Robes apart and not use them for any other ceremonial purpose, a practice first documented in 1356 but evidently antedating that year. The great exception to this segregation of the Coronation Ornaments was the great crown which was probably worn by the king or held over his head on other occasions besides the coronation.
“The Westminster Regalia were under the perpetual custody of the Abbot and monks. It was the duty of the Abbey’s Sacrist, at any rate in the later Middle Ages, to produce it and lay it all out ready on the High Altar before the Coronation began. By forgery and perhaps by a genuine papal bull the monks of Westminster surrounded it with Papal inhibitions against alienation, but at no time did they lay claim to its ownership, and it remained the uncontested property of the English kings.
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