Edward IV and disdain for sanctuary

Edward IV was much less respectful of sanctuary than his rival Henry VI. Though by no means seeking to dismantle sanctuary altogether, he was in contemporary terms unprincipled in his disregard for the sacredness both of the refuge and of his own word. In this he followed the policy of his father, Richard duke ofContinue reading “Edward IV and disdain for sanctuary”

Edward IV and the desecration of sanctuary at Tewkesbury

What to do, what to do, when you’re in a civil war and your enemies have flown to sanctuary? If you’re Henry VI, Richard III, or Henry VII, you let them stay because breaching sanctuary would destroy your moral standing, which you can’t afford. But if you’re Edward IV – not a man especially knownContinue reading “Edward IV and the desecration of sanctuary at Tewkesbury”

Sanctuary and Henry VII’s new regime: The story of Francis Lovell

Sanctuary offered both a useful rhetorical opportunity and a potential major headache for Henry VII’s new regime in 1485-86. Henry VII publicly supported sanctuary as royally-granted refuge from injustice and tyranny. It was one thing, however, to note with righteous indignation that your predecessor had been so terrible that everyone had to flee to theContinue reading “Sanctuary and Henry VII’s new regime: The story of Francis Lovell”

Henry VII and Humphrey Stafford

In 1485-86 Richard III loyalist Humphrey Stafford sought sanctuary twice as he continued to resist the new regime of Henry VII: the first time Henry VII left him unmolested, but at the second attempt he found a technicality that allowed him to be dragged out. Humphrey Stafford first sought sanctuary at St John’s Abbey inContinue reading “Henry VII and Humphrey Stafford”

Treason and sanctuary: the case of Thomas Bagnall

The 1495 claim of sanctuary made by Thomas Bagnall, traitor, supporter of Perkin Warbeck, thorn in the side of Henry VII, is one of the most famous sanctuary cases of the Tudor period. I also think it’s been misinterpreted. In 1495 five men—Thomas Bagnall, John Heth, John Skotte, John Kenyngton, and Alexander Synger—were accused ofContinue reading “Treason and sanctuary: the case of Thomas Bagnall”

Perkin Warbeck and sanctuary

[I do like this fanciful 18th century depiction of the abbot welcoming Perkin: they all look so genteel.] This is one of the most famous of late medieval English sanctuary seekers, the pretender to the throne Perkin Warbeck, who claimed to be a son of Edward IV and thus rightful king over usurper Henry VII.Continue reading “Perkin Warbeck and sanctuary”

Walking the boundaries: Bland, the St Martin’s sanctuary man

Though Perkin Warbeck’s stay at Beaulieu Abbey was short, some of his followers remained in sanctuaries long term, including well-known sanctuary men of St Martin le Grand (SMLG) in London. In the 1530s, Henry VIII mandated a royal enquiry into the boundaries of the SMLG precinct as part of a long-running dispute between the CityContinue reading “Walking the boundaries: Bland, the St Martin’s sanctuary man”

Seyntbarbe, retainer of Lord Audley

The second Warbeck follower who became a sanctuary man in St Martin le Grand in London was named Seyntbarbe, a retainer of Lord Audeley. Seyntbarbe fled to SMLG after the battle of Blackheath in 1497. We learn about Seyntbarbe from London grocer William Mathew, who lived in St Martin’s as a youth when apprenticed toContinue reading “Seyntbarbe, retainer of Lord Audley”

Murder, treason, and exile

An odd case weaving together an apparently ordinary homicide with the last throes of the 15th century dynastic wars – and suggesting that in some circumstances traitors who might foment rebellion abroad could not be allowed to abjure. In Dec 1501, Thomas Forest, tailor of Leominster, Herefordshire, took sanctuary far from home in Holy CrossContinue reading “Murder, treason, and exile”

Three sanctuary breaches

The last years of Henry VII’s reign (he died in 1509) are often seen as rife with judicial corruption. That might not be completely fair, but there were lots of cases with odd outcomes in these years. Three sanctuary breach cases ended up in King’s Bench on the same day in 1508. The first involvedContinue reading “Three sanctuary breaches”