Progressive Changes in the Coronation Services

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Previous page: Part 2 - Progressive Changes in the Coronation Services

Apart from these separate copies of the Service, the most important manuscript of this recension is contained in the great Missal, which was presented to the Abbey by Abbot Litlyngton. The private accounts of this Abbot, by a fortunate chance, have been preserved among the Abbey muniments.

Among them is the account for the making of this Missal in 1383-4. It took two years to produce and cost at that time 34 14s. 7d. The scribe was Thomas Preston, who seems to have become a monk of Westminster a few years later.

The pages of the Missal which contain the coronation services have miniatures of the Coronation of a King and of a Queen, and there is evidence from the noticeably thumbed condition of the pages that the Missal was used at successive Coronations.

The recension represented by the "Liber Regalis" and allied manuscripts profoundly influenced the Coronation service. In its original Latin form it was used from the fourteenth century to the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth I. This was the last Coronation which was carried out mainly in Latin and in conformity with ancient ritual.

For the Coronation of James I. the "Liber Regalis" was translated into English, and in this form it continued to be used until 1685. It has been said that the "Liber Regalis" "represents the English Coronation service at the highest point that it attained."

Throughout the Service the ceremonies form a coherent and consecutive whole. First comes the introduction, consisting of the election by the people and the taking of the Oath by the Sovereign. This is followed by the "hallowing" or anointing of the Sovereign, which is, in fact, the central point in the Service. Then having been hallowed, the Sovereign is invested with the royal robes and ornaments, culminating in the Crown. He is then enthroned in the sight of all, and this is followed by the Communion Service.

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