ST PAULS CATHEDRAL

ST PAULS CATHEDRAL LONDON DURING THE REIGNS OF KING WILLIAM II AND KING HENRY I.
KING WILLIAM II

On 9th September 1087, William the Conqueror was thrown from his horse whilst riding through the ruins of the town of Mantes, (situated in Normandy, France), which had been sacked after he had successfully laid siege to it.

Suffering fatal abdominal injuries from the saddle pommel he was carried to the convent of St. Gervais in Rouen, which was the Norman capital.

There in the presence of his two younger sons, William and Henry, he bequeathed England to William Rufus his second surviving and also his favourite son.

The Duchy of Normandy, he left to his eldest son Robert, despite his reluctance to do so, and 5,000 silver pounds, he left to his youngest son Henry.

From 1090-1100 during the Reign of King William II, several natural disasters occurred in the City, which did in turn have an effect on the construction of St Pauls Cathedral London.

King William II (William Rufus) from the Stowe Manuscript.

King William II

ABOVE: KING WILLIAM II (WILLIAM RUFUS) FROM THE STOWE MANUSCRIPT.

In a violent hurricane during the month of November in the year 1090 or 1091, the roof of the nearby, newly built Norman Church of St. Mary le Bow in Cheapside was blown off. This disaster killed several people.

Four of the rafters, each of them measuring twenty six feet in length were torn away, and pitched with such violence into Cheapside, that they were embedded into the ground with scarcely four feet of them remaining visible above the ground.

In the same tremendous storm six hundred houses were flattened in the city, while the great White square Tower of London, which had been started by William the Conqeror and was still under construction was very badly shaken, causing much concern.

Accompanying this hurricane was a tremendous deluge, which brought with it strong floods. These floods were sufficient enough in strength, to carry away the whole of London Bridge.

The year 1093 saw a great part of the City of London, yet again destroyed by fire, followed by a near famine, which had been brought about by the scarcity of corn and other provisions, caused by these disasters.

The tremendous problems these calamities brought upon the citizens of London, were made worse by the imposition of unbearably heavy taxes on the populace, by the king, William Rufus.

These taxes were used to rebuild London Bridge, again using wood, the construction of a strong defensive wall to encompass the Tower of London and the construction of Westminster Hall, which is still standing and forms part of the Houses of Parliament complex.

Westminster Hall

ABOVE:WESTMINSTER HALL.

Yet the air of devotion which William Rufus put on, when he exempted all the vessels from tolls and custom, which entered the River Fleet from the River Thames, all heavily laden with materials for the construction of St Pauls Cathedral London, did nothing to stop the dislike his subjects had for him, from turning into intense hatred.

Bishop Maurice carried out most of the design for the new St Pauls Cathedral London and constructed its foundations. However, it was mainly under his successor, that the work fully commenced.

These foundations were all that King William II would see of it, for while he was on a hunting trip in the New Forest one bright day in August 1100, he was killed by an arrow in mysterious circumstances.

ST PAULS CATHEDRAL LONDON DURING THE REIGN OF KING HENRY 1.

King William II was succeeded, not by his elder brother Robert, but by his younger sibling Henry, in whose reign an enormous amount of construction in London would take place, particularly religious buildings.

King Henry 1 Depicted In Cassells History Of England (1902) St.Pauls Cathedral London.

King Henry I

ABOVE: KING HENRY I DEPICTED IN CASSELL’S HISTORY OF ENGLAND (1902).

Bishop Maurice died eight years later in 1108. He was succeeded by Richard de Belmeis (or Beauvais) who spent large sums of money, including all the revenues he received from his office as bishop of London, on the construction of St Pauls Cathedral London.

In this he was assisted by King Henry I, both by donations of money and stone.

De Belmeis (Beauvais) constructed St Paul’s churchyard, gave a site which was home to the original foundation of St Pauls School, and he also enlarged the lanes and the streets which surrounded the cathedral, all at his own expense.

From King Henry 1, he was able to obtain a grant for as much of the ditch around Baynard’s Castle that he required to construct a wall around the Church.

King Henry I also commanded that all the material brought up the River Fleet from the River Thames was to be free from toll.

As a further gift to de Belmeis (Beauvais), all the fish that was caught within range of the new St Pauls Cathedral London, were to be his, and a tithe of all the venison from the County of Essex were given to him, towards the funding for the construction of St Pauls Cathedral London.

It is quite probably the case that those two particular gifts were bestowed on the bishop because of the abstemious life he lived. He had chosen to live that lifestyle, in order that he could devote his entire life and income to the construction of the Cathedral.

Richard de Belmeis (Beauvais) occupied the see of London for twenty years, (1108-1128) just as his predecessor, bishop Maurice had done. His health deteriorated apparently after an unsuccessful attempt to remove the Primatial seat from Canterbury to London.

He withdrew from active service and devoted the remaining years of his life to founding the monastery of St. Osyth in Essex, where four years later he died and it was there he was laid to rest.

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