Felonious monk

William Lane, a monk at Abingdon Abbey, fled to a church after having been indicted of horse theft. He abjured the realm, but did not actually leave; when he was caught and brought before the king’s justices, he then claimed benefit of clergy.

He was delivered into the custody of the bishop of London, who put him in prison. Lane managed to lobby Henry VI about his situation and persuaded the king “that he wishes to make amends…and return to his religion”; Henry – a soft touch for claims of repentance – gave him a pardon in 1444. I wonder if Brother William really did go back to the abbey to live out his life in prayer.

Ruins of Abingdon Abbey. Source

CPR 1441-46, 259-60. Top image: The Ellesmere Chaucer.

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