Date:  Thursday, February 20th, 2020
Time:  7:30 pm
Place:  Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC Campus, 515 West Hastings Street (between Seymour and Richards Streets) in the Diamond Alumni Lounge on the second floor
Speaker: Michael Ledger-Lomas
Topic:  ‘This Thorny Crown’: Queen Victoria and Religion

Brief Biography:

Michael Ledger-Lomas is a historian of nineteenth-century Christianity. He is a former fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge and a lecturer in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at King’s College, London and now lives in Vancouver. He is currently completing a religious biography of Queen Victoria for Oxford University Press.


This talk will take a new look at the intense and sometimes contradictory piety of Queen Victoria. Drawing on a rich range of textual and visual sources, it will argue that Victoria’s religion changed over the course of her reign in ways which strengthened her power over her subjects at home and abroad. When Victoria took the throne in 1837, she did so primarily as supreme head of the Church of England. The reactions to her death in 1901 around the British Empire showed that in the intervening decades she developed a much broader spiritual persona, which appealed not just to Anglicans but also to Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, Jews, Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. Central to this transformation were public perceptions that Victoria’s religion consisted not in theological dogmas, but in the experience of love, suffering and bereavement. Towards the end of her reign, Victoria wrote to a friend of her gratitude for God’s help in the many years she had ‘worn this thorny crown, & carried a heavy cross’. The talk suggests not only that religion remained central to a shared understanding between Victoria and her subjects of what monarchy was and what it should do, but also that Victoria epitomized a shift towards defining the core of religion as emotional and human, rather than as divine and transcendent. Hers was indeed a thorny crown.

Last Meeting:

I wish to thank Richard Mackie for giving us a thorough overview of how the Ormsby Review is working. There was informed discussion about the selection and editorial process and of course the platform inside Ormsby that has been established for the Canadian Academy of Independent Scholars. This talk was followed by our annual XMAS event which was well received by all those who were able to attend.

Additional Information:

A list of upcoming meetings:

March 19, 2020
April 16, 2020
May 21, 2020

Any questions, please contact me:
Mark Dwor

Categories: EventLecture