Richard the Lionheart’s Milkbrother

I found this in a rather dubious place, but as historical trivia, it seems rather reasonable!

“An old chronicle from the Austin [Augustinian] Friars at York [now in the collection of the Earl of Arundel, 6 fol. 135v] informs us that Alexander Neckam was born in September A.D. 1157 at Sanctus Albanus [St. Albans] on the same day as Richard [Coeur-de-Lion] was born at Windeshore [Windsor], and that Alexander’s mother Hodierna suckled Alexander at her left breast and Richard at her right.

“Alexander was educated in the abbey school at St. Alban’s, and later at the University of Paris, where he had become a professor by 1180. He returned to England in 1186 and later became a professor at Oxford, where he lectured on the Song of Songs to anyone who had a mature mind and sublime intelligence [maturi pectoris et sublimis intelligentie].”

Later still, he became an Augustinian canon, and eventually an abbot.

Here’s his Wikipedia link, which leaves out the dramatic info on Neckam’s connections (which he didn’t apparently use much).

Here’s a very useful priors of Dunstable that also includes locally connected people, like Neckam. (Scroll way down past all the priors, or just run a search on his name.) His mom, Hodierna, got 7 pounds a year from Richard I, from the start of his reign, and even a few years into John’s reign. It also turns out that Neckam was sent on a fair amount of royal business and church business, so presumably he was seen as trustworthy. He attended the Fourth Lateran Council with funding from King John (along with the guy that John wanted for Archbishop of Canterbury, so presumably Neckam was there to help him look good). John badly needed to look good in front of the Pope, who’d just lifted an interdict on England (imposed because John was grabbing Church lands and revenues and appointments, annulling his own marriage, and basically acting like Henry VIII Part One). The Magna Carta also came along in 1215 during this period of John trying to be good (ie, under huge pressure by nobles, commons, churchmen, and everybody else).


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