King's College, Cambridge

King's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England. Formally The King's College of Our Lady and Saint Nicholas in Cambridge, the college lies beside the River Cam and faces out onto King's Parade in the centre of the city. King's was founded in 1441 by Henry VI. However, the King's plans for the college were disrupted by the Wars of the Roses and resultant scarcity of funds, his eventual deposition. Little progress was made on the project until in 1508 Henry VII began to take an interest in the college, most as a political move to legitimise his new position; the building of the college's chapel, begun in 1446, was finished in 1544 during the reign of Henry VIII. King's College Chapel, Cambridge is regarded as one of the greatest examples of late Gothic English architecture, it has the world's largest fan vault, the chapel's stained-glass windows and wooden chancel screen are considered some of the finest from their era. The building is seen as emblematic of Cambridge.

The chapel's choir, composed of male students at King's and choristers from the nearby King's College School, is one of the most accomplished and renowned in the world. Every year on Christmas Eve the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is broadcast from the chapel to millions of listeners worldwide. On 12 February 1441 King Henry VI issued letters patent founding a college at Cambridge for a rector and twelve poor scholars; this college was to be named upon whose saint day Henry had been born. The first stone of the college's Old Court was laid by the King on Passion Sunday, 2 April 1441, on a site which lies directly north of the modern college and, a garden belonging to Trinity Hall. William Millington, a fellow of Clare College was installed as the rector. Henry directed the publication of the college's first governing statutes in 1443, his original modest plan for the college was abandoned, provision was instead made for a community of seventy fellows and scholars headed by a provost. Henry had belatedly learned of William of Wykeham's 1379 twin foundation of New College and Winchester College, wanted his own achievements to surpass those of Wykeham.

The King had in fact founded Eton College on 11 October 1440, but up until 1443 King's and Eton had been unconnected. However, that year the relationship between the two was remodelled upon Wykeham's successful institutions and the original sizes of the colleges scaled up to surpass Wykeham's. A second royal charter which re-founded the now much larger King's College was issued on 12 July 1443. On 1 September 1444, the Provosts of King's and Eton, the Wardens of Winchester and New College formally signed the Amicabilis Concordia in which they bound their colleges to support one another and financially. Members of King's were to be recruited from Eton; each year, the provost and two fellows travelled to Eton to impartially elect the worthiest boys to fill any vacancies at the college, always maintaining the total number of scholars and fellows at seventy. Membership of King's was a vocation for life. Scholars were eligible for election to the fellowship after three years of probation, irrespective of whether they had achieved a degree or not.

In fact, undergraduates at King's – unlike those from other colleges – did not have to pass university examinations to achieve their BA degree and instead had only to satisfy the college. Every fellow was to study theology, save for two who were to study astronomy, two civil law, four canon law, two medicine. In 1445 a Papal Bull from Eugenius IV exempted college members from parish duties, in 1457 an agreement between the provost and chancellor of the university limited the chancellor's authority and gave the college full jurisdiction over internal matters; the original plans for Old Court were too small to comfortably accommodate the larger college community of the second foundation, so in 1443 Henry began to purchase the land upon which the modern college now sits. The gateway and south range of Old Court had been built, but the rest was completed in a temporary fashion to serve until the new court was ready. However, the new college site would itself be left unfinished and the "temporary" Old Court buildings, arranged to accommodate seventy, served as the permanent residential fabric of the college until the beginning of the 19th century.

Henry's grand design for the new college buildings survives in the 1448 Founder's Will which describes his vision in detail. The new college site was to be centred on a great courtyard, bordered on all sides by adjoining buildings: a chapel to the north. Behind the hall and buttery was to be another courtyard, behind the library a cloistered cemetery including a magnificent bell tower; the first stone of the chapel was laid by the King on St James' Day, 25 July 1446. However, within a decade Henry's engagement in the Wars of the Roses meant that funds began to dry up. By the time of Henry's deposition in 1461, the chapel walls had been raised 60 ft high at the east end but only 8 ft at the west. Work proceeded sporadically until a generation in 1508 when the Founder's nephew Henry VII was prevailed upon to finish the shell of t

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