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””

Murder over a board game

In 1401 a board game – chess, chequers, backgammon? – in a London brewhouse turned into a deadly brawl, with the killer running to the safety of sanctuary at Westminster Abbey. A coroner’s inquest was held on 25 September 1401 in the parish of St. Michael Queenhithe, near the docks on the river Thames, overContinue reading “Murder over a board game”

Escape from Strand Church

On 5 November 1410, William Orwell took sanctuary at the church of St. Mary le Strand for “divers felonies”; after he confessed to the coroner, the townspeople of Westminster were set to watch over him. They guarded him for two days (perhaps wondering when he was actually going to abjure and get out of theirContinue reading “Escape from Strand Church”

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”

Undead kings and treasonous conspiracies

In 1399, Henry of Derby overthrew his cousin, King Richard II, to seize the English throne, having himself crowned as Henry IV. Though Richard was probably murdered soon after the coup at the orders of his cousin, his death was concealed and rumours circulated through Henry IV’s reign (1399-1413) and into that of his son,Continue reading “Undead kings and treasonous conspiracies”

Sanctuary men and Oldcastle’s Revolt

On 9-10 January 1414, Sir John Oldcastle led an ill-fated and probably poorly conceived uprising against Henry V, which may (or may not) have been inspired by Oldcastle’s adherence to ideas of an unorthodox religious group, the Lollards. Although the insurrection was suppressed, Oldcastle himself escaped and remained on the loose for the next severalContinue reading “Sanctuary men and Oldcastle’s Revolt”

Heresy and corruption in 1410s London

London was a very tense place in the 1410s: a new king, a renewed war in France, accusations of corruption, and the first major rounds of heresy executions in the kingdom’s history. In 1416, John Russell, woolpacker, went around London spreading the story that alderman and former mayor Thomas Fauconer had gone ahead with theContinue reading “Heresy and corruption in 1410s London”

Escape from the Marshalsea prison

On 12 July 1418, Thomas Corbet, gentleman of London, was in the Marshalsea prison, incarcerated there to force him to answer to a trespass suit launched by one Matthew Preston. A Lombard named Alexander Jon (Alessandro Gianni?) “fraudulently machinated” so that Corbet was able to escape from the Marshalsea and flee to sanctuary at Westminster.Continue reading “Escape from the Marshalsea prison”

MP John Colles joins the Wawe gang?

John Colles, a wool merchant from Huntingdon who served four times as MP in the early 1420s, was named in a 1427 parliamentary petition that alleged he had defrauded creditors and since then had “retreated” to various sanctuaries, at Westminster Abbey, Culham (a manor of Abingdon abbey), and Beaulieu Abbey, staying out of reach ofContinue reading “MP John Colles joins the Wawe gang?”

Gentry violence in Lincolnshire, 1427

In 1427 a gentleman in his 50s assembled a small private army to ambush an enemy. The enemy was killed in the affray and the gentleman ran to sanctuary – but then later was acquitted of the charge. He went on (of course) to be an MP and sheriff. On 10 August 1427, a coroner’sContinue reading “Gentry violence in Lincolnshire, 1427”