Struck by a Scottish axe

Betrayal from within the household in 15th century Newcastle: in August 1493, Robert Grene of South Shields was in Newcastle, “in a lane called the Close” (down by the Tyne), when Robert Nicholson attacked him.

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Source

Nicholson, from Winlaton on the other side of Newcastle, had been part of Grene’s own household in South Shields until shortly before the attack; obviously they’d had a falling-out. The record doesn’t identify their occupations, but another record for Grene (participating in an enclosure riot in 1489) suggests he was some kind of agriculturalist.

Grene defended himself; he was apparently at the time carrying a “Scotteȝaxe” (Scottish axe), and he struck Nicholson twice in the chest, killing him. Then he ran to Durham cathedral and asked for sanctuary. My internet searches suggest a Scottish axe might have looked something like the implement drawn by Dürer in his famous 1521 depiction of the Irish, at the top of this post. [The young warriors look like they’re ready to be the newest boy-band sensation, though the mustache has to go.]

Sanctuarium Dunelmense, 23. Image: Dürer (source).

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