Corpus Christi College, Oxford

Corpus Christi College, Oxford

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Corpus Christi College is one of the constituent colleges
Colleges of the University of Oxford
The University of Oxford comprises 38 Colleges and 6 Permanent Private Halls of religious foundation. Colleges and PPHs are autonomous self-governing corporations within the university, and all teaching staff and students studying for a degree of the university must belong to one of the colleges...

 of the University of Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

 in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. Founded in 1517, it is the 12th oldest college in Oxford, with an estimated financial endowment
Financial endowment
A financial endowment is a transfer of money or property donated to an institution. The total value of an institution's investments is often referred to as the institution's endowment and is typically organized as a public charity, private foundation, or trust....

 of £58m as of 2006.

The college, situated on Merton Street between Merton College and Oriel College
Oriel College
Oriel College is a constituent college of the University of Oxford in Oxford, England. Located in Oriel Square, the college has the distinction of being the oldest royal foundation in Oxford...

, is one of the smallest in Oxford by student population, having around 230 undergraduates and 120 graduates. It is academic by Oxford standards, averaging in the top half of the university's informal ranking system, the Norrington Table
Norrington Table
The Norrington Table is an annual ranking that lists the colleges of the University of Oxford that have undergraduate students in order of the performance of their undergraduate students on that year's final examinations.- Overview :...

, in recent years, and coming second in 2009-10.

The college has had for a long time a reputation as specializing and excelling in Classics, due to the emphasis placed upon this subject since its founding; to this day it takes more students to study Classics (and its joint schools) each year than any other single subject.

The college's historical significance includes its role in the translation of the King James Bible. The college is also noted for the pillar sundial in the main quadrangle, known as the Pelican Sundial, which was erected in 1581 by Charles Turnbull. Corpus achieved notability in more recent years when teams representing them won University Challenge
University Challenge
University Challenge is a British quiz programme that has aired since 1962. The format is based on the American show College Bowl, which ran on NBC radio from 1953 to 1957, and on NBC television from 1959 to 1970....

 on 9 May 2005 and once again on 23 February 2009, although the latter win was later disqualified.

The Visitor
Visitor
A Visitor, in United Kingdom law and history, is an overseer of an autonomous ecclesiastical or eleemosynary institution , who can intervene in the internal affairs of that institution...

 of the College is ex officio the Bishop of Winchester
Bishop of Winchester
The Bishop of Winchester is the head of the Church of England diocese of Winchester, with his cathedra at Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire.The bishop is one of five Church of England bishops to be among the Lords Spiritual regardless of their length of service. His diocese is one of the oldest and...

, currently vacant.

Founding


The college dates its founding to 1517, when its founder, Richard Foxe
Richard Foxe
Richard Foxe was an English churchman, successively Bishop of Exeter, Bath and Wells, Durham, and Winchester, Lord Privy Seal, and founder of Corpus Christi College, Oxford.-Life:...

, the Bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 of Winchester, established the college statutes. Letters patent had been granted by Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 in the previous year, and building work had started as early as 1512. Foxe had initially stated that he intended the college as a lodge for monks from St Swythun's Priory in Winchester; however, under the influence of the Bishop of Exeter
Bishop of Exeter
The Bishop of Exeter is the Ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Exeter in the Province of Canterbury. The incumbent usually signs his name as Exon or incorporates this in his signature....

 (and friend of Foxe) Hugh Oldham
Hugh Oldham
Hugh Oldham was a Bishop of Exeter and a notable patron of education. Born in Lancashire to a family of minor gentry, he probably attended both Oxford and Cambridge universities, following which he was a clerk at Durham, then a rector in Cornwall before being employed by Lady Margaret Beaufort ,...

 it became a humanist enterprise, dedicated to the study of the classics. The library, founded at the same time as the college, was 'probably, when completed, the largest and best furnished library then in Europe'. The scholar Erasmus
Desiderius Erasmus
Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus , known as Erasmus of Rotterdam, was a Dutch Renaissance humanist, Catholic priest, and a theologian....

 noted in a letter of 1519 to the first President, John Claymond
John Claymond
John Claymond was the first President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford.He was admitted to Magdalen College, Oxford at the age of 16 in 1484, where he remained until his appointment as President in 1507...

, that it was a library 'inter praecipua decora Britanniae' ('among the chief beauties of Britain'), and praised the fact that it was a 'biblioteca trilinguis' (trilingual library) containing, as it did, books in Latin, Greek and Hebrew. The important Spanish humanist Juan Luis Vives
Juan Luís Vives
Juan Luis Vives , also Joan Lluís Vives i March , was a Valencian Spanish scholar and humanist.-Biography:Vives was born in Valencia...

 taught at Corpus during the 1520s while tutor to Mary Tudor, later Mary I of England
Mary I of England
Mary I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death.She was the only surviving child born of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Her younger half-brother, Edward VI, succeeded Henry in 1547...

.

Religious ferment


In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the college was again involved in religious ferment. Reginald Pole, a fellow of the college in the 1520s, was Archbishop of Canterbury during the reign of Queen Mary, and a candidate for the papacy. John Rainolds
John Rainolds
John Rainolds , English divine, was born about Michaelmas 1549 at Pinhoe, near Exeter.He was educated at Merton and Corpus Christi Colleges, Oxford, becoming a fellow of the latter in 1568. In 1572-73 he was appointed reader in Greek, and his lectures on Aristotle's Rhetoric laid the sure basis of...

, another fellow, and Corpus's seventh President, was involved in the inception and translation of the King James Bible, published in 1611.

Nineteenth century


John Keble
John Keble
John Keble was an English churchman and poet, one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement, and gave his name to Keble College, Oxford.-Early life:...

, a leader of the Oxford Movement
Oxford Movement
The Oxford Movement was a movement of High Church Anglicans, eventually developing into Anglo-Catholicism. The movement, whose members were often associated with the University of Oxford, argued for the reinstatement of lost Christian traditions of faith and their inclusion into Anglican liturgy...

, was an undergraduate at Corpus at the start of the nineteenth century, and went on to a fellowship at Oriel
Oriel College
Oriel College is a constituent college of the University of Oxford in Oxford, England. Located in Oriel Square, the college has the distinction of being the oldest royal foundation in Oxford...

 and to have a college named after him (Keble College, Oxford
Keble College, Oxford
Keble College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. Its main buildings are on Parks Road, opposite the University Museum and the University Parks. The college is bordered to the north by Keble Road, to the south by Museum Road, and to the west by Blackhall...

).

Coat of arms


The coat of arms
Coat of arms
A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth...

 is quite complex, since it incorporates (from left to right) a symbol chosen by the founder, the arms of the See of Winchester
Diocese of Winchester
The Diocese of Winchester forms part of the Province of Canterbury of the Church of England.Founded in 676, it is one of the oldest and largest of the dioceses in England.The area of the diocese incorporates:...

, and the arms of Hugh Oldham
Hugh Oldham
Hugh Oldham was a Bishop of Exeter and a notable patron of education. Born in Lancashire to a family of minor gentry, he probably attended both Oxford and Cambridge universities, following which he was a clerk at Durham, then a rector in Cornwall before being employed by Lady Margaret Beaufort ,...

.
In heraldic
Heraldry
Heraldry is the profession, study, or art of creating, granting, and blazoning arms and ruling on questions of rank or protocol, as exercised by an officer of arms. Heraldry comes from Anglo-Norman herald, from the Germanic compound harja-waldaz, "army commander"...

 terminology: Tierced per pale: (1) Azure, a pelican with wings endorsed vulning herself, or; (2) argent, thereon an escutcheon charged with the arms of the See of Winchester (i.e. gules, two keys addorsed in bend, the uppermost or, the other argent, a sword interposed between them in bend sinister of the third, pommel and hilt gold; the escutcheon ensigned with a mitre of the last); (3) sable, a chevron or between three owls argent, on a chief of the second as many roses gules, seeded of the second, barbed vert.

The pelican is a reference to the college's name: 'corpus christi' means 'the body of Christ', and the pelican was said to have offered its own blood to its children, just as Christ offers his body to his followers in the Eucharist
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

. Because of the complexity of the arms they are not suitable for use on items such as the college crested tie, where the pelican is used instead. The pelican also appears alone on the college flag and on top of the Pelican Sundial.

Notable former students and fellows


These include the philosopher Isaiah Berlin
Isaiah Berlin
Sir Isaiah Berlin OM, FBA was a British social and political theorist, philosopher and historian of ideas of Russian-Jewish origin, regarded as one of the leading thinkers of the twentieth century and a dominant liberal scholar of his generation...

, the writer Vikram Seth
Vikram Seth
Vikram Seth is an Indian poet, novelist, travel writer, librettist, children's writer, biographer and memoirist.-Early life:Vikram Seth was born on 20 June 1952 to Leila and Prem Seth in Calcutta...

, current Leader of the Labour Party Ed Miliband
Ed Miliband
Edward Samuel Miliband is a British Labour Party politician, currently the Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition...

 and former UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband
David Miliband
David Wright Miliband is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament for South Shields since 2001, and was the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from 2007 to 2010. He is the elder son of the late Marxist theorist Ralph Miliband...

. For a longer list, see List of alumni of Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

External links