Tuesday, December 29, 2015

HERALDRY: Oriel College, Oxford

Oriel College, Oxford shield.

Blazon: Gules, three lions passant, gardant in pale, bordure engrailed argent. A lion is passant if viewed from the side with his head facing the viewer. A lion is gardant (also sometimes seen with the anglicized spelling guardant) if his front right leg is raised, although all the passant lions I have seen have only three feet on the ground. In pale means the lions are lined up in a column, one above the other.

Authority: These Royal Arms of England were used by the Plantagenet kings, from Richard I ("Lionheart") to Henry III and Edwards I, II and III. However, I could find no evidence that the college's differencing by a bordure engrailed argent has been granted.

Nominee: The College was founded in 1324 by Adam de Brome during the reign of Edward II (ruled 1307-1377). Edward is the titular founder of the college, which is why the Royal Arms are used.  The Bordure may have been informed by de Brome's coat of arms, which includes the rare bordure engrailed argent.

College History. The College was once known as King's Hall and has absorbed both St. Mary's Hall and Bedel Hall Soon after the foundation in 1326 as the College of the Blessed Virgin Mary, it was given a property called La Oriole, on the site of the present Front Quadrangle, and gradually the college came to be called by that name. Oriel was Oxford's fifth college, and the first to be royally founded. It began with a Provost and 10 Fellows. Students could pursue Theology, Law and Medicine. Three Provosts went on to become Bishops. It was the college of Walter Raleigh and Thomas More. In the early 1500s the first undergraduates arrived. Oriel survived the turbulence of the religious Reformation. By the end of the century more space was needed. Between 1620 and 1642 the medieval buildings were replaced by the present front quadrangle, which housed some of the court of King Charles I while Oxford was briefly his capital before he was defeated and beheaded by Cromwell. In the 1700s Oriel attracted its first transatlantic students, sons of planters in Virginia, one of whom later regretted employing a young surveyor, George Washington. Oriel expanded into a second quadrangle and built its Senior Library to house a large gift of books. Oriel in the 18th century  produced famed parson-naturalist Gilbert White. From 1780 to 1830 Oriel led the way in reforming academic standards, the brilliant Noetic era and then the Oxford Movement to revitalize the Church of England. The Oriel Fellowships were opened up to competitive examination and many of those who arrived, like Dr Thomas Arnold and John Henry Newman, made their mark.

Recent History. From the 1980s on Oriel College has grown rapidly, like the rest of Oxford, as graduate professional and specialty studies flourished and women were admitted in 1985. Oriel now has about 50 Fellows, 300 undergraduates and 200 graduate students. In recent weeks Ntokozo Qwabe, a 24-year-old Rhodes scholar from South Africa, has led a campaign to remove an Oriel College plaque to Cecil Rhodes and also a statue of Rhodes. Oriel College has started a process for removing the plaque. Qwabe was reported two days ago by the British Daily Telegraph as claiming that:
  • Students at Oxford endure “systemic racism, patriarchy and other oppressions” on a daily basis.
  • The university’s admissions and staff recruitment systems systematically exclude certain groups of people.
  • Oxford’s architecture is laid out in a “racist and violent” way. 
  • The British media treat him and his supporters like “terrorists” for challenging the establishment.
Other Posts on Heraldry at Oxford etc.:  HERALDRY SUPERLINK.

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