Quarrel over a “frowe”

On 30 November 1394, after sundown, three men were amongst a large group drinking in the King’s Head tavern in St Magnus’s parish near London bridge. Two, Herman Stokfyssh and Nicholas Clarebount, were ‘Doche’, a word late medieval English people applied to anyone coming from the lower Rhineland area that now includes the Netherlands, Belgium,Continue reading “Quarrel over a “frowe””

Pardon for a “travelynggeman”

A coroner’s memorandum records that on 30 April 1397 at the church of St. Martin Outwich in London, John Stokes, “Travelynggeman*, ” took sanctuary. When the coroner appeared, he confessing that he had killed Nicholas Wodyngton, esquire, with a poleaxe, in the midst of an argument. There’s also a second record of the same homicide,Continue reading “Pardon for a “travelynggeman””

Mysterious pardons and time machines

Although some seekers, such as John Sutton, were hanged when found in the realm after abjuration, that was not always the outcome: on 1 Dec. 1405, Alexander Copeman was pardoned by the king not only for all his felonies but also for “being in the realm without licence” after abjuration. I’m not sure what exactlyContinue reading “Mysterious pardons and time machines”

Escape from sanctuary

On 23 March 1405, William Holt, esquire, of Sussex took sanctuary in the church of St. Martin in the Fields (now on Trafalgar Square). He confessed to the coroner that he was an accessory to a decade-old homicide. The coroner, however, was suspicious about the long time lag: he thought Holt had already abjured forContinue reading “Escape from sanctuary”

Seizing the ring: Claiming sanctuary at Arundel castle chapel

In 1405, the bishop of Chichester’s register tells the story of one John Moot. Moot had been arrested and taken into custody at Arundel Castle for theft and robbery, but then escaped. He ran to the chapel in Arundel Castle, where he “took hold of the ring” of the cloister gates “as a sign ofContinue reading “Seizing the ring: Claiming sanctuary at Arundel castle chapel”

An overzealous gaoler

Not surprisingly, when an accused felon in custody escaped from gaol (or jail in North American spelling), the gaolers were angry – incensed because their authority was flouted, and worried because they themselves were liable to be charged with negligence for allowing the prisoner to scamper away. The gaolers’ frustrations, however, didn’t give them licenceContinue reading “An overzealous gaoler”

Celebrity knight flees to sanctuary

In 1411, a minor celebrity knight, Sir John Prendergast, fled to Westminster Abbey for sanctuary. Retainer of John Beaufort, earl of Somerset, around 1400 Prendergast had been the recipient of a famous (but unfulfilled) tournament challenge from an Aragonese knight named Michel d’Oris, the challenge subsequently becoming a model of chivalric glamour even though theContinue reading “Celebrity knight flees to sanctuary”

The king’s favour

In the early days of the reign of Henry V, several sanctuary seekers who were somehow connected to the king or at least to his military forces were given special signs of favour. Some were offered pardons so they could fight in the war; in this case the king gave the abjuring felons expensive gownsContinue reading “The king’s favour”

Escape from the bishop’s prison

In March 1418, Peter Hughebard, labourer of Woodchurch, Kent, was arrested for theft and put into the prison of Christchurch cathedral priory in Canterbury (presumably because he had been arrested within the liberty of the priory). Though we don’t usually think about churches as needing prisons, English bishops and other ecclesiastical leaders often acted asContinue reading “Escape from the bishop’s prison”

Ex-soldiers and violence in the 1430s

Around 1431, an argument broke out on an agricultural estate just outside Rochester in Kent. Two farm servants, thresher William Wynter and ostler William Pope, quarrelled over a belt decorated with silver. Wynter was an ex-soldier, a veteran presumably of the French wars (there are various William Wynters, archer, in http://medievalsoldier.org) and perhaps Pope, too,Continue reading “Ex-soldiers and violence in the 1430s”