Toxic masculinity medieval-style

The Durham sanctuary register records that on 27 November 1491 John Joy of Amcotts, Lincs, sought asylum. As he explained, he’d been indicted for the murder of John Portyngton of Amcotts, but he wasn’t guilty.

… Or, well, maybe he was a bit guilty: he hadn’t been present when other men had killed Portyngton, but he had to admit that he had taken the killers into his house after the fact. It was just a bit inconvenient that harbouring killers was also a felony (so unfair).

The actual killer had been his relative, also named John Joy, who was bailiff of Whatton in the Vale of Belvoir in Nottinghamshire. Bailiff Joy had been passing through Amcotts along with his retinue (adherentibus) and stayed overnight with his same-named relative. As the bailiff and his posse were riding out of town early the next morning, they met up with John Portyngton. On learning the name of the man leading the entourage, Portyngton began to insult John Joy of Amcotts (“ha! You’re related to that dastardly John Joy of our town who is a varlet and a knave” etc).


Bailiff Joy and his retinue then had to defend the honour of their recent host, and so they assaulted Portyngton, cutting off his right hand. (I’m not sure if the hand-cutting had symbolic meaning or just happened to be the wound.) Portyngton died soon afterward.


We see it all here: the over-the-top defence of honour and aggrieved cries of “it wasn’t my fault” when the indictments come down. Toxic masculinity medieval-style.

SDSB, 19-20. Images: Source.

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