Jack Cade’s Revolt and Sanctuary: Could traitors seek sanctuary?

Another Jack Cade’s Revolt story, this time a challenging one for Henry VI, as one of the rebels who sought to overthrow him sought shelter in a sanctuary.

Over recent entries from the 1440s, we’ve seen Henry VI as protector of sanctuary, part of his exercise of royal mercy and patronage of the church. Traitors to his regime seeking sanctuary, however, posed a challenge to his magnanimity.

Henry VI in BL MS Royal 15 E VI
Source

One of these was William Cayme of Kent, who was a “petty captain” in Jack Cade’s revolt in 1450. Following the revolt and his indictment for treason, he fled to sanctuary at St Martin le Grand in London. Henry VI evidently wanted to seize Cayme from the precinct, but the dean of St Martin’s, Richard Caudray, was once again able to convince the king to respect the sanctuary. Caudry brought on board in his campaign of dissuasion two justices of Common Pleas, who convinced the king that traitors also could have protection of the church.

Copies of documents relating to William Cayme: Westminster Abbey Muniments, Book 5, St Martin’s Register, fol 66v

The dean agreed to place Cayme under close guard to ensure he didn’t escape, but this lasted only a short time as soon the king granted Cayme a pardon.

Westminster Abbey Muniments Book 5, fols. 66rv; CPR 1446-52, 424. Top image: 19th-century image of Jack Cade derisively encountering a nobleman. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Cade%27s_Rebellion#/media/File:Jack_Cade.jpg

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