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I have not been able to learn what was really the fact, at the coronations of K. George IV. and of William IV. and Queen Adelaide: there is no rubric in their Services regarding the removal of the crown before communion; and it is a curious circumstance, that some personages who were present, and close by, upon both occasions, assure me that they do not recollect whether the crown was laid aside or not." But in the Order for the coronation of her present Majesty, as the reader will see below, there are these rubrics: and, at whose wish or recommendation soever they were at length introduced, we cannot but admire the reverence and religious feeling which thus set the question at rest, we may hope, for the future. "The Queen," says the rubric, "descends from her throne-and goes to the steps of the altar, where, taking off her crown, she kneels down." And again, the Holy Eucharist having been received, before the post-communion; "The Queen then puts on her crown, and taking the sceptres in her hands again, repairs to her throne."
As regards the coronations before that of George II. we know that there was no celebration of the holy
communion in the case of James II. But if archbishop Secker had thought of examining the records of Charles II.'s he would have found that then the crown was removed. " After the offertory,— the king kneel'd before his ffaldstool, and layd his crown vpon the cushion at his right hand;-(after communion) the king arose, putt on his crowne, etc." And, if we go far back into the earlier ages, we shall find nothing
which can lead us to suppose that the contrary was then the practice, although we may not be able to bring forward a decisive rule upon the point. Thus, as Matthew Paris relates it, we might be led to conjecture that the crown was not removed, at the third coronation of Henry II. Apud Wigorniam coronatus est: ubi post celebrationem divinorum sacramentorum, coronam super altare posuit, nec ultra coronam portavit."9 But it is of this very coronation that Hoveden tells us, of the king, and queen Eleanor, in a place already cited: " ubi cum ad oblationem venirent, deposuerunt coronas suas, et eas super altare obtulerunt." 10 It may be said that this does not prove much; but I understand the statement to mean, not merely that they made an oblation of their crowns, but that they did so, at the proper and accustomed time of removing them, that is, before the offertory, at the holy communion.
We find therefore that in the twelfth and in the seventeenth centuries, the custom probably was to remove the crown. But I am doubtful as to what was observed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The "Devyse" for Henry VIII. positively says that "the king
8 Walker. Account, &c. p. 118.
10 See above, p.
crowned shall be ledde as above, and shall offre, etc." nor is mention made, though the details are minute enough, of any laying aside of the crown at the receiving afterwards." So in the account of Henry VI. the crown is plainly directed to be set upon his head, just before the communion, not to be removed until afterwards, before S. Edward's shrine. But with respect to this last case, the king for some cause or other, it is said, was "dyspoiled" of his proper coronation robes, immediately before the mass, and pontifically vested. They rayde hym lyke as a bysshop shuld say masse, with a dalmatyk and a stole about his necke. And also as hosyn and shone and copys and gloves lyke a bisshopp. And then agen they set seynt Edwardes crowne on his hede." All the orders, I may observe, which I have quoted, speak particularly at this part of the ceremony, of "S. Edward's crown :" but the reader must decide whether it is probable, that in the course of time some peculiar sanctity was attributed to that crown, or that it was intended, as in the case of Henry VI., to complete, instead of a mitre, "the pontifical array."
Until the Order of K. William IV. it had been always directed, that "a towel of silk" or "houseling cloth" should be held before the king, during the receiving of the Sacrament. It was then omitted, nor was it restored in the Order of Queen Victoria. In the account of the coronation of Henry VI. we find that "the cardynall and the other bisshoppes helde the towell." In the "Devyse" for Henry VIII. that "two of the grettest estates then present held before the kyng and the queene a longe towell of silke.”
11 Nor in the "Form, etc." Lansdown MS. 285.
The kings of France and the emperors have long been permitted to communicate in both kinds, upon the solemnity of their coronations and probably this, which has in modern times been rather looked upon as a concession or a favour from the court of Rome," is but a continuance, which would not suffer interruption in their case, of that unquestionable right which all Christians once enjoyed, before the Cup was unhappily taken from them. I do not think that this privilege, from the twelfth to the sixteenth century, was claimed by the kings of England: the evidence seems against it. Grafton, in his continuation of Hardyng, says of Richard III. and his queen: "The kyng and the quene discended, and before the high altare, they were both houseled with one hoste, deuyded between them."13 No mention is made of the chalice. Walsingham in his account of Richard II. says: "Obtulit archiepiscopo panem et vinum, unde postea, tam metropolitanus, quam ipse rex, communicati fuerunt.” 14 This would appear to favour the argument in proof of both kinds. The MS. account, so often quoted, of K. Henry VI. speaks of the communion of the Body of our blessed Lord, but not of the Blood: and then of
12" Tandem post unctionem receptam communicare posse imperatorem sub utraque specie præcipue in die inaugurationis suæ, et in articulo mortis, ex bulla Clementis VI. refert Carrier tomo. 2." Catalani, in pontif. Rom. tom. 1. p. 388. "Tradit Spon
danus ad annum 1352, Clementem VI. pontificem maximum, ob ingentia coronæ Franciæ in sedem
apostolicam merita, Christianissimis regibus potestatem fecisse, sub utraque specie, quandocunque id optarent, communicandi; eos tamen illa potestate raro, nec nisi die inaugurationis suæ, et in viatico mortis, uti consuevisse." Ibid. p. 400.
13 P. 517.
14 See above, p. xxxiii.
“the wyne” in a manner which can only mean that it was taken, unconsecrated, as an ablution. " And than knelyng with humylite and gret deuocion, receyuing the thyrde parte of the holy sacrament vpon the patent of the archebisshoppes handes. Then come the bisshoppe of London with the grete solempne chales of seynt Edward, and serued hym with wyne." In the same manner, the "Devyse" for Henry VIII. "After the cardynall hath commoned his self, he hauing betweene his handes the same chalice wheruppon the holy sacrament shall be leyed, shall turne hymselfe vnto the king and the quene. And theye lying prostrate before hym shall sey their Confiteor, all the prelates answering, Misereatur. And the cardynall, seying, Absolve. That done, the king and the quene shall sumwhat aryse knelyng, and with grete humylitee and deuocion receyue the sacrament by the handes of the seid cardynall. This so done, the kinge and the quene shall stande vp, and take wine of the aboue reherced chalice, by the hands of the abbot of Westminster." 15
I may observe that the fatigue of the sovereign, as not unfrequently noticed in the old histories and records, is to be referred to the obligation under which he was, to receive the holy communion, fasting. And "the Devyse" has an especial reference to this; succeeding the conclusion of the mass. "And also it is to
15 So, this direction previously in the same MS. "The kyng shall offre an obbley of brede layed vppon the patent of Seint Edwardes chalice, with the whiche obleye after consecrate, the king shall be howseld. Also he shall offre in a cruet of golde, wyne,
whiche he shall use in the chalice after he is howselde. And as well the seid patent with the obleye, as the cruce with wyne, shall be delyuered unto him by the Gospeller, at the tyme of his of rynge."