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Title: Mediaeval London, Volume 1 (of 2) - Vol. 1 Historical & Social, Vol. 2 Ecclesiastical
Author: Besant, Walter
Language: English
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Transcriber’s Notes

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. Variations
in hyphenation and spelling remain unchanged except where in conflict
with the index.

Page numbers have been added to the index entries for City Police, the,
and for Kingston-on-Hull

Italics are represented thus _italic_, bold thus =bold= and underlining
thus +underline+.

+The Survey of London+


                         HISTORICAL AND SOCIAL

                      _UNIFORM WITH THIS VOLUME_

                         PRICE =30/= NET EACH

                       IN THE TIME OF THE TUDORS

 _With 146 Illustrations and a Reproduction of Agas’ Map of London in

“For the student, as well as for those desultory readers who are drawn
by the rare fascination of London to peruse its pages, this book
will have a value and a charm which are unsurpassed by any of its
predecessors.”—_Pall Mall Gazette._

“A vivid and fascinating picture of London life in the sixteenth
century—a novelist’s picture, full of life and movement, yet with the
accurate detail of an antiquarian treatise.”—_Contemporary Review._

                      IN THE TIME OF THE STUARTS

_With 116 Illustrations and a Reproduction of Ogilby’s Map of London in

“It is a mine in which the student, alike of topography and of manners
and customs, may dig and dig again with the certainty of finding
something new and interesting.”—_The Times._

“The pen of the ready writer here is fluent; the picture wants nothing
in completeness. The records of the city and the kingdom have been
ransacked for facts and documents, and they are marshalled with
consummate skill.”—_Pall Mall Gazette._

                       IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

_With 104 Illustrations and a Reproduction of Rocque’s Map of London in

“The book is engrossing, and its manner delightful.”—_The Times._

“Of facts and figures such as these this valuable book will be found
full to overflowing, and it is calculated therefore to interest all
kinds of readers, from the student to the dilettante, from the romancer
in search of matter to the most voracious student of Tit-Bits.”—_The


From MS. in British Museum. Royal 15 E4.]


                                VOL. I
                          HISTORICAL & SOCIAL

                           SIR WALTER BESANT


                         ADAM & CHARLES BLACK


                                PART I

                          MEDIÆVAL SOVEREIGNS

  CHAP.                                                             PAGE

  1. HENRY II.                                                         3

  2. RICHARD I.                                                        9

  3. JOHN                                                             13

  4. HENRY III.                                                       20

  5. EDWARD I.                                                        35

  6. EDWARD II.                                                       48

  7. EDWARD III.                                                      58

  8. RICHARD II.                                                      78

  9. HENRY IV.                                                        92

  10. HENRY V.                                                       103

  11. HENRY VI.                                                      111

  12. EDWARD IV.                                                     138

  13. RICHARD III.                                                   152

                                PART II

                          SOCIAL AND GENERAL

  1. GENERAL VIEW                                                    159

  2. PORT AND TRADE OF LONDON                                        185

  3. TRADE AND GENTILITY                                             216

  4. THE STREETS                                                     226

  5. THE BUILDINGS                                                   240

  6. FURNITURE                                                       255

  7. WEALTH AND STATE OF NOBLES AND CITIZENS                         259

  8. MANNERS AND CUSTOMS                                             264

  9. FOOD                                                            294

  10. SPORT AND RECREATION                                           307


        § I. THE LIBRARIES OF LONDON                                 327

       § II. LONDON AND LITERATURE                                   330

      § III. THE PHYSICIAN                                           336

  12. FIRE, PLAGUE, AND FAMINE                                       341

  13. CRIME AND PUNISHMENT                                           349

  14. CHRISTIAN NAMES AND SURNAMES                                   372

  APPENDICES                                                         379

  INDEX                                                              405



  Edward IV. and his Courtiers                            _Frontispiece_

  Henry II.                                                            3

  Coronation of the “Young King”                                       5

  Becket disputing with the King                                       7

  Great Seal of Henry II.                                              8

  First Seal of Richard I.                                            10

  Cross of Knight Templar                                             12

  King John                                                           13

  Henry Fitzailwyn, Knt., First Lord Mayor of London                  14

  King John hunting                                                   16

  A Portion of the Great Charter                                      17

  Coronation of Henry III.                                            21

  Jews’ Passover                                                      27

  A Pope in Consistory                                                29

  Edward I.                                                           35

  Queen Eleanor of Castile                                            36

  Charing Cross                                                       41

  Parliament of Edward I.                                    _Facing_ 44

  Great Seal of Edward I.                                             46

  Head of Edward II.                                                  48

  Shrine of King Edward II., Gloucester Cathedral                     56

  Edward III.                                                         58

  A Joust or Tournament of the Period                                 63

  Sir Henry Picard entertaining the Kings of England, France,
    Scotland, Denmark and Cyprus                             _Facing_ 70

  John Wyclyf                                                         76

  Richard II.                                                         78

  King Richard II. and his Council go down the Thames in a Barge
    to confer with the Rebels                                         83

  Wat Tyler for his Insolence is killed by Walworth, and
    King Richard puts himself at the Head of the Rebels               85

  King Richard II. in Great Danger in the City of London              87

  Henry of Lancaster brings King Richard back to London               90

  How Richard II. resigned the Crown to the Duke of
    Lancaster                                                _Facing_ 90

  Henry IV.                                                           92

  Funeral Procession of Richard II.                          _Facing_ 94

  “The True Portraiture of Richard Whittington, Thrice Lord Mayor
     of London”                                                       98

  The Porch of the Church of St. Alphage, London Wall, formerly
    the Chapel of the Priory of Elsinge Spital                        99

  Henry V.                                                           103

  Ships at La Rochelle                                               106

  Marriage of Henry V. and Katherine of France                       108

  Henry VI. as an Infant                                             111

  The Duke of Bedford                                                115

  Henry VI.                                                          119

  Henry VI. at the Shrine of St. Edmund                              123

  White Hart Tavern, Bishopsgate Street                              130

  London Stone                                                       131

  Henry VI. and his Courtiers                                        133

  Edward IV.                                                         138

  Ships of the Period                                                141

  The Bastard of Falconbridge attacks London Bridge                  143

  “The Hierarchy of the Sciences,” as conceived by Mediæval Thought  149

  Richard III.                                                       152

  North-East View of Crosby Hall                                     153

  Interior of the Council Room, Crosby Hall                          153

  Sketch Map of London in the Fifteenth Century                      159

  The White Tower                                                    160

  St. Katherine’s by the Tower                                       161

  Chaucer                                                            163

  The Old Fountain in the Minories, built about 1480,
    demolished 1793                                                  175

  North-West View of the Ancient Structure of Merchant-Taylors
    Hall, and the Alms-Houses adjoining, in Threadneedle Street      179

  A South-East View of London before the Destruction of
    St. Paul’s Steeple by Fire, A.D. 1560                            181

  Temple Church, London                                              183

  A Household Dining                                                 203

  The Steelyard, Thames Street                                       207

  The Merchant                                                       213

  The Knight                                                         219

  Court of King’s Bench. Temp. Henry VI.                             221

  View of the Ruins of Part of the late Church of St. Leonard        229

  View of the Crypt on the Site of the late College of
    St. Martin Le Grand                                              229

  Arch of Blackfriars Priory, revealed by the Demolition of
    a Building in Ireland Yard, May 1900                             238

  Matthew Paris Dying                                                241

  Embassy from the King of England to ask the Hand of the
    Lady Isabella of France in Marriage                              243

  Hall of the Knights of St. John                                    247

  “The Ladies’ Bower”                                                249

  Whittington’s House in Swithin’s Passage, Moor Lane                250

  Builders at Work                                                   252

  Retinue of the Earl of Warwick                                     260

  House Servant and Porter, Early Fourteenth Century                 261

  Earl Rivers presenting his Book to Edward IV.                      262

  Knights preparing for a Passage of Arms                            265

  Queen Isabella and her Ladies out Riding                           269

  Making Tapestry                                                    271

  Honi Soit qui mal y Pense                                 _Facing_ 274

  Westminster Hall                                                   276

  Parting of St. Thomas and the Two Kings                            277

  Beggar Importuning Noble Lady                                      285

  Banquet in London. Temp. Edward IV.                       _Facing_ 296

  A Banquet                                                          301

  A Hunting Party                                                    311

  Types of Chaucer’s Characters                                      313

  A Banquet                                                          315

  King and Jester                                                    316

  Types of Chaucer’s Characters                                      317

  Tournament of the Earl of Warwick                                  321

  Coronation of Henry IV.                                   _Facing_ 322

  English Knights Travelling                                         323

  A Tournament in London                                             325

  John Lydgate presenting his “Life of St. Edmund” to Henry VI.      328

  Page from Pleshy Bible                                             331

  Lydgate at Work                                                    335

  The Doctor of Physic                                               336

  An Operation                                                       337

  Surgeon Operating on the Skull                                     337

  An Alchemist’s Laboratory                                          338

  The _Couvre-feu_                                                   341

  Prisoner being Sentenced and taken to Execution                    349

  The Tun, Cornhill                                                  355

  The Scold’s Bridle in Walton-on-Thames Church                      356

  A Beggar                                                           363

  A Hand-to-Hand Fight                                               367

                                PART I

                          MEDIÆVAL SOVEREIGNS



 [In considering the reigning Kings in order, I have found it necessary
 to reserve for the chapters on the Mediæval Government of the City the
 Charters successively granted to the Citizens, and their meaning.]

[Illustration: HENRY II. (1133-1189)

From his effigy at Fontevrault.]

The accession of the young King, then only three-and-twenty years of
age, brought to the City as well as to the Country, a welcome period
of rest and peace and prosperity. These precious gifts were secured
by the ceaseless watchfulness of the King, whose itinerary shows that
he was a most unwearied traveller, with a determined purpose and a
bulldog tenacity. From the outset he gave the whole nation, barons and
burgesses, to understand that he meant to be King. To begin with, he
ordered all aliens to depart. The land and the City were full of them;
they were known by their gait as well as their speech; the good people
of London looked about the streets, the day after the proclamation of
exile, for these unwelcome guests, whose violence they had endured so
long. They were gone “as though they had been phantoms,” Holinshed
writes. During his long reign, 1154-1189, Henry, who seldom stayed
in one place more than a few days, was in London or Westminster on
twenty-seven occasions, but in many of them for a day or two only.
These occasions were in March 1155; in April 1157; in March, July, and
October 1163; in April and September 1164; in September and October
1165; in April and June 1170; in July 1174; in May, August, and October
1175; in March and May 1176; in March and April 1177; in July 1178;
in August, November, and December 1186; in March 1185; in June 1186,
and in June 1188. And all these visits together amounted to less than
three months in thirty-five years. We may note that Henry held his
first Christmas at Bermondsey, not at Westminster. One asks in vain
what reason there was for holding the Court at a monastic house in
the middle of a marsh, much more difficult of access than that of
Westminster. It was here that it was decided that the Flemings, who had
flocked over during the last reign, should leave the country. Among
them was William of Ypres whom Stephen had made Earl of Kent. We hear
very little of the King’s personal relations with the citizens, by
whom he was respected as befits one of whom it is written that he was
“pitiful to the poor, liberal to all men, that he took of his subjects
but seldom times any great tributes, and, further, that he was careful
above all things to have the laws duly executed and justice uprightly
administered on all hands.”

In the year 1170 Henry II. had his eldest son Henry crowned King; but
the “Young King,” as he was called, never lived to occupy his father’s
place; after a career of rebellion he died of a fever in 1183.

Henry’s Charter gave the citizens privileges and liberties as large as
those granted by Henry I.—with one or two important exceptions. The
opening clause in the former Charter was as follows:—

 “Know ye that I have granted to my citizens of London to hold
 Middlesex to farm for three hundred pounds upon accompt to them
 and their heirs: so that the said citizens shall place as sheriff
 whomsoever they will of themselves: and as Justiciar whomsoever they
 will of themselves, for keeping of the pleas of the crown, and of the
 pleadings of the same, and none other shall be justice over the same
 men of London.”

Except for a few years in the twelfth century the sheriffs were always
elected by the Crown. In the reign of Stephen the citizens are said
to have bought the right of electing their sheriffs. The omission of
so important a clause indicates the policy of the King. It was his
intention to bring the City under the direct supervision of the Crown.
He therefore retained the appointment of the sheriff in his own hands;
he calls him “my sheriff,” _meus_ Vicecomes; and it was so kept by
himself and his successor Richard the First. When John restored to
the City the election of the sheriff, the post had lost much of its
importance because the communal system of municipal government had been
introduced under a mayor. Thanks mainly to the strong hand of the King,
who enforced peace and order throughout the country, the prosperity
of London greatly increased during his reign. As yet the City was
governed by its aristocracy, the aldermen of the wards, which were at
first manors or private estates. They endeavoured to rule the City as
a baron ruled his people each in his own ward: there was, however, the
Folk Mote to be reckoned with. The people understood what was meant
by meeting and by open discussion: the right of combination was but a

It is at this time that we first hear of the licences of guilds. We
may take it as a sign of prosperity when men of the same craft begin
to unite themselves into corporate bodies, and to form rules for the
common interest.

In the year 1180 it is recorded that a number of Guilds formed without
licence were fined:—

 “The Gild whereof Gosceline was Alderman or President, thirty marks;
 Gilda Aurifabrorum, or Goldsmiths, Radulphus Flael, Alderman,
 forty-five marks; Gilda de Holiwell, Henry son of Godr. Alderman,
 twenty shillings; Gilda Bocheiorum, William la Feite, Alderman,
 one mark; Gilda de Ponte Thomas Cocus, Alderman, one mark; Gilda
 Piperariorum, Edward ——, Alderman, sixteen marks; Gilda de Ponte,
 Alwin Fink, Alderman, fifteen marks; Gilda Panariorum, John Maurus,
 Alderman, one mark; Robert Rochefolet, his Gild, one mark; Richard
 Thedr. Feltrarius, Alderman, two marks; Gilda de Sancto Lazaro,
 Radulph de Barre, Alderman, twenty-five marks; Gilda de Ponte, Robert
 de Bosio, Alderman, ten marks; Gilda Peregrinorum, Warner le Turner,
 Alderman, forty shillings; Odo Vigil, Alderman, his Gild, one mark;
 Hugo Leo, Alderman, his Gild, one mark; and Gilda de Ponte, Peter, son
 of Alan, Alderman, fifteen marks.” (Maitland, vol. i. p. 53.)


From Vie de St. Thomas (a French MS., 1230-1260).]

If there were unlicensed guilds, there must have been licensed guilds.
Unfortunately it is not known how many, or of what kind, these were.
Among them, however, was the important and powerful Guild of Weavers,
who were at that time to London what the “drapiers” were to Ypres in
Flanders. (See p. 201.)

It is sufficient to note the claim of the King to license every guild.
As for the fining of the unlicensed guild, since the business of a
guild is the regulation of trade, one would like to know how trade was
regulated when there was no guild. But enough of this matter for the

In this reign occurs an early instance of heresy obstinate unto
death. The heretics came over from Germany. There were thirty of
them, men and women. They called themselves Publicans; one of them,
their leader, Gerard, had some learning: the rest were ignorant. They
derided matrimony, the Sacraments of Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and
other articles. Being brought before the King, they were pressed
with Scripture, “but stuck manfully to their faith and refused to be
convinced.” It was therefore ordered that they should be burned with
a hot iron on the forehead, and the leader on the chin as well, that
they should be whipped, that they should be thrust out into the fields
and that none should give them food, or fire, or lodging; which was
done, the sufferers singing all the time, “Blessed are ye when men do
hate you”—and so they went out into the open country, where they all
died of cold and starvation. A pitiful story!

Here is a strange story told by Stow. It is a good deal amplified from
that given by Roger of Hoveden, but perhaps Stow obtained more material
from other authorities also:—

“A brother of the Earle Ferrers was in the night privily slayne at
London, which when the King understoode, he sware that he would bee
avenged on the Citizens: for it was then a common practice in the
Citie, and an hundred or more in a company of young and old, would
make nightly invasions upon the houses of the wealthie, to the intent
to robbe them, and if they found any man stirring in the Citie within
the night, they would presently murther him, in so much, that when
night was come, no man durst adventure to walke in the Streetes. When
this had continued long, it fortuned that a crewe of young and wealthy
Cittizens assembling together in the night, assaulted a stone house of
a certaine rich manne, and breaking through the wall, the good man of
that house having prepared himselfe with other in a corner, when he
perceived one of the Theeves named Andrew Bucquinte to leade the way,
with a burning brand in the one hand and a pot of coales in the other,
whiche he assayed to kindle with the brande, hee flew upon him, and
smote off his right hande, and then with a lowde voyce cryed Theeves,
at the hearing whereof the Theeves tooke their flight, all saving
hee that had lost his hande, whom the good man in the next morning
delivered to Richarde de Lucy the King’s Justice. This Theefe uppon
warrant of his life, appeached his confederates, of whome many were
taken, and many were fled, but among the rest that were apprehended, a
certaine Citizen of great countenance, credite, and wealth, surnamed
Iohn the olde,[1] when he could not acquite himselfe by the Watardome,
offered the King for his life five hundred Marks, but the King
commanded that he shoulde be hanged, which was done, and the Citie
became more quiet.” (Howe’s edition of Stow’s _Chronicles_, p. 153.)

  [1] “The old,” _i.e._ “Senex.” It has been suggested that this is a
  Latin rendering of the name Vyel.

Here, then, is a case in which the ordeal by water was thought to prove
a man’s guilt. In another place will be found described the method of
the ordeal by water. What happened was, of course, that the unfortunate
man’s arm was scalded. However, the City became quiet, which was some

In the year 1164 London Bridge was “new made of timber” by Peter of
Colechurch, who afterwards built it of stone.

In the year 1176 the stone bridge over the river was commenced. It was
not completed until 1209, after the death of the architect.

Henry I. had punished the moneyers for their base coin. Henry II. also
had to punish them for the same offence, but he chose a method perhaps
more effective. He fined them.


From MS. in British Museum—Claudius D2 (Cotton).]

The relations of Thomas à Becket with the King: their friendship and
their quarrels and the tragic end of the Archbishop, belong to the
history of the country. It does concern this book, however, that Thomas
was by birth a Londoner. His father, Gilbert, whose family came from
Caen, was a citizen of good position, chief magistrate, or portreeve,
in the reign of Stephen. Gilbert Becket was remembered in the City not
only by the history of his illustrious son, but by the fact that it was
he who built the chapel in the Pardon Churchyard, on the north side of
St. Paul’s, a place where many persons of honour were buried. It was
ever the mediæval custom to make one place more sacred than another,
so that if it was a blessed thing to be buried in a certain church,
it was more blessed to lie in front of the altar. The old story about
Gilbert’s wife being a Syrian is repeated by the historians, and is
very possibly true. Holinshed says she was a “Saracen by religion,”
which is certainly not true. Thomas Becket was born in wedlock; his
father was certainly not married to a Mohammedan, and the birthplace of
the future martyr was in a house on the site of the present Mercers’
Chapel, which itself stands on the site of the chapel of St. Thomas of

Gilbert Becket died leaving behind him a considerable property in
houses and lands. Whether the archbishop took possession of this
property as his father’s son, or whether he gave it to his sister,
I do not know. Certain it is that after his death his sister Agnes,
then married to Thomas Fitz Theobald de Heiley, gave the whole of the
family estates to endow a Hospital dedicated to her brother Saint and
Martyr. Nothing should be kept back: all—all must be given: one sees
the intensity of affection, sorrow, pride, with which the new Saint was
regarded by his family. There could be no worshipper at the altar of
St. Thomas à Becket more devout than his own sister. (See also p. 278.)

[Illustration: GREAT SEAL OF HENRY II.]



The coronation of King Richard on September 3, 1189, was disgraced
by a massacre of the Jews—the first example of anti-Jewish feeling.
Perhaps when they first came over these unfortunate people hoped that
no traditional hatred of the race existed in England. Experience, alas!
might have taught them, perhaps had taught them, that hatred grew up
round the footsteps of the Infidel as quickly as the thistles in the
field. When the Jew arrived in England what could he do? He could not
trade because the merchants had their guilds; and every guild had its
church, its saint, its priests, its holy days. He could not hold land
because every acre had its own lord, and could only be transferred by
an Act including a declaration of faith; he could not become a lawyer
or a physician because the avenues to these professions lay also
through the Church. Did a man wish to build a bridge, he must belong to
the Holy Brotherhood of Bridge-Builders—Pontifices. Was an architect
wanted, he was looked for in a Monastery. The scholars, the physicians,
the artists were men of the cloister. Even the minstrels, gleemen,
jugglers, tumblers, dancers, buffoons, and mimes, though the Church did
not bless their calling, would have scorned to suffer a Jew among them.
That was the position of the Jew. Every calling closed to him, every
door shut. There was, however, one way open, but a way of contempt, a
way accursed by the Church, a way held impossible to the Christian. He
might practise usury. The lending of money for profit was absolutely
forbidden by the Church. He who carried on this business was accounted
as excommunicated. If he died while carrying it on, his goods were
forfeited and fell to the Crown. In the matter of usury the Church had
always been firm and consistent. The Church, through one or two of the
Fathers, had even denounced trade. St. Augustine plainly said that in
selling goods no addition was to be made to the price for which they
were bought, a method which if carried out would destroy all trade
except barter. So that while the usurer was accursed by the Church,
to the King he became a large and very valuable asset. Every Jew who
became rich, by his death enriched the King. It was calculated (see
Joseph Jacobs, _The Jews of Angevin England_) that the Jews contributed
every year one-twelfth of the King’s revenues. The interest charged by
the usurer was in those days enormously high, forty per cent and even
more: so that it is easy to understand how rich a Jew might become and
how strong would be the temptation to squeeze him.

[Illustration: FIRST SEAL OF RICHARD I.]

As for the hatred of the people for the Jews, I think that it had
nothing whatever to do with their money-lending, for the simple reason
that they had no dealings with them. The common people never borrowed
money of the Jews, because they had no security to offer and no want of
money except for their daily bread. Those who borrowed of the Jews were
the Barons, who strengthened or repaired or rebuilt their castles; the
Bishop, who wanted to carry on his cathedral or to build a church; the
Abbot, who had works to execute upon the monastery estates, or a church
to beautify. The great Lords of the Church and the Realm were the
borrowers; and we do not find that they murdered the Jews. The popular
hatred was purely religious. The Jew was an unbeliever: when no one
was looking at him he spat upon the Cross; when he dared he kidnapped
children and crucified them; he it was who crucified our Lord, and
would do so again if he could. Why, the King was going off to the East
to kill infidels, and here were infidels at home. Why not begin by
killing them first? So the people reasoned, quite logically, on these

To return to the coronation of Richard I. For fear of magic it was
ordered that no Jew and no woman should be allowed admission to the
Abbey Church during the function. Unfortunately, the Jews, hoping to
conciliate the new Sovereign with gifts, assembled outside the gates
and endeavoured to gain admission. It was always characteristic of the
Jews, especially in times of persecution, that they never in the least
understood the intensity of hatred with which they were regarded by
the world. One would think that on such an occasion common prudence
would have kept them at home. Not so, they endeavoured to force their
way into the Hall during the Coronation Banquet, but they were roughly
driven back, and the rumour ran that the King had ordered them to be
put to death; so they were cudgelled, stoned, struck with knives,
chased to their houses, which were then set on fire. From mid-day till
two of the clock on the following day the mob continued to murder, to
pillage, and to destroy.

It is noted that at Richard’s Coronation Banquet the Chief Magistrate
of London, not yet Mayor, officiated as Butler, an office claimed in
the following reigns from that precedent.

When Richard prepared for his Crusade he ordered the City to furnish a
certain quantity of armour, spears, knives, tents, etc., for the use of
his army, together with wine, silken habits, and other things for his
own use.

On the departure of Richard for Palestine his Chancellor, William
Longchamp, Bishop of Ely, took up his residence in the Tower. Power
turned his head; he acted like one whose position is safe, and
authority unbounded. He annoyed the citizens by constructing a moat
round the Tower, and by including within the external wall of the
Tower a piece of land here and another there, a mill which belonged
to St. Katherine’s Hospital, and a garden belonging to the City. He
offended the Bishops by seizing his brother Regent, Bishop Pudsey; and
the Barons by insulting Geoffrey, Archbishop of York, the son of Fair
Rosamond. Thereafter, when John, at the head of a large army, summoned
him to justify himself at Reading, Longchamp closed the gates of the

John proceeded to ascertain the disposition of the leading citizens of
London. On the one hand Longchamp was the representative of the King,
appointed by the King, to whom obedience was due. On the other hand, he
had exasperated the citizens beyond endurance. They were ready—but with
exceptions—to transfer their allegiance to John—always as the King’s
representative. And here they saw their opportunity for making terms
with John to their own advantage. Why not ask for the Commune? They
did so. They made the granting of the Commune the condition of John’s
admission into the City, and therefore of Longchamp’s disgrace. Should
John refuse they would close their gates and support the Chancellor.
But John accepted.

He rode from Reading into London accompanied by the Archbishop of
Rouen and a great number of Bishops, Earls, and Barons. He was met by
the citizens. The gates were thrown open; and John’s army sat down to
besiege the Tower from the City and from the outside. This done, he
called a council in the Chapel House of St. Paul’s and there solemnly
conceded the Commune, upon which the citizens took oath of obedience to
him, subject to the rights of the King. The meaning of this concession
will be found more fully considered later on. At present it is
sufficient to observe that it was followed by the election of the first
Mayor of London: that other towns hastened to get the same recognition:
and that the Commune, though never formally withdrawn by Richard
himself, was never allowed by him.

Two Charters were granted to the City by Richard. The first, dated
April 23, 1194, was an exact copy of his father’s Charter, with the
same omission as to the election of Sheriff and Justiciar. It is
not addressed to the Mayor, because Richard never recognised that
office, but, as the Charter of Henry II. and that of Henry I., “To
the Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots, Earls, Barons, Justices, Sheriffs,
Ministers, and all others his faithful Friends and English people.”

The second Charter of July 14, 1197, authorised the removal of all
weirs in the River: “For it is manifest to us ... that great determent
and discommodity have grown to our City of London and also to the whole
realm by reason of the said wears.”

We now arrive at the first intimation of an articulate discontent
among the people. In all times those “who have not” regard those “who
have” with envy and disfavour; from time to time, generally when the
conditions of society seem to make partition possible, this hatred
shows itself openly. In the year 1195, there first arose among the
people a leader who became the voice of their discontent: he flourished
for a while upon their favour; in the end he met with the usual fate of
those who rely upon the gratitude and the support of the people. (See
vol. ii. pt. i. ch. vi.)

In the year 1198 the Sheriffs of London and Middlesex were ordered by
the King to provide standards of weight, length, and measures to be
sent into all the Counties.

Richard was received by the City, on his return from captivity, with
the greatest show of rejoicing; the houses being so decorated as to
move the astonishment of the “Lords of Almaine” who rode with the King.

“When they saw the great riches,” Holinshed writes, “which the
Londoners shewed in that triumphant receiuing of their souereigne lord
and king, they maruelled greatlie thereat, insomuch that one of them
said unto him: ‘Surelie, oh King, your people are wise and subtile,
which doo nothing doubt to shew the beautiful shine of their riches
now that they have receiued you home, whereas before they seemed to
bewaile their need and povertie, whilest you remained in captiuitie.
For verelie if the emperor had understood that the riches of the realme
had bin such, neither would he have beene persuaded that England could
have been made bare of wealth, neither yet should you so lightlie have
escaped his hands without the paiment of a more huge and intollerable
ransome.’” (Vol. iii. p. 142, 1586 edition.)


The whole period of Richard’s residence in London, or, indeed, in
England, was limited to a few weeks after his coronation and a few
weeks after his return from captivity.



John granted five Charters to the City.

By the first of these Charters, June 17, 1199, he confirmed the City in
the liberties which they had enjoyed under King Henry II.

[Illustration: KING JOHN (1167(?)-1216)

From the effigy in Worcester Cathedral.]

By the third Charter, July 5, 1199, he went farther: he gave back to
the citizens the rights they had obtained from Henry I., viz. the farm
of Middlesex for a payment of £300 sterling every year, and the right
of electing their own sheriffs. This seemed a great concession, but
was not in reality very great, for the existence of a Mayor somewhat
lessened the importance of the Sheriffs.

The second Charter confirmed previous laws as to the conservation of
the Thames and its Fisheries.

The fourth Charter, March 20, 1202, disfranchised the Weavers’ Guild.

The fifth Charter, May 9, 1215, granted the right of the City to
appoint a Mayor. Now there had been already a Mayor for many years,
but he had not been formally recognised by the King, and this Charter
recognised his existence. The right involved the establishment of the
Commune, that is to say, the association of all the burghers alike for
the purpose of protecting their common interests. It was no longer, for
instance, the Merchant Guild which regulated trade as a whole; nor an
association of Trade Guilds: nor was it an association of City Barons:
nor was it a tribunal of Justice: it was simply the association of the
burghers as a body.

We are now, however, approaching that period of the City History
in which was carried on the long struggle between the aristocratic
party and the crafts for power. In this place it is only necessary
to indicate the beginning of the strife. The parties were first
the Barons and Aldermen, owners of the City manors; secondly, the
merchants, some of whom belonged to the City aristocracy; and, lastly,
the craft. The Chief Magistrate of the Commune held a position of great
power and importance. It was necessary for the various parties to
endeavour to secure this post for a man of their own side.


From an old print.]

The disfranchisement of the weavers certainly marks a point of
importance in this conflict. It shows that the aristocratic party was
for the time victorious. The Weavers’ Guild, as we have seen, had
become very powerful. Their Guild united in itself all the tradesmen
belonging to the manufacture, or the use, of textile fabrics; such as
weavers, clothmakers, shearmen, fullers, cloth merchants, tailors,
drapers, linen armourers, hosiers, and others, forming a body powerful
by numbers, wealth, and organisation. To break up this body was
equivalent to destroying the power of the crafts for a long time.

The domestic incidents of the City during this reign are not of great

A very curious story occurs in the year 1209. The King’s Purveyor
bought in the City a certain quantity of corn. The two Sheriffs, Roger
Winchester and Edmund Hardell, refused to allow him to carry it off.
King John, who was never remarkable for meekness, flew into a royal
rage on this being reported to him, and ordered the Council of the
City to degrade and imprison the said Sheriffs—which was done. But the
Council sent a deputation to the King, then staying at Langley, to
intercede for the Sheriffs. Their conduct, it was explained, was forced
upon them. Had they not stopped the carrying off of the corn there
would have been an insurrection which might have proved dangerous. This
makes us wonder if the Commonalty resented the sending of corn out of
the City? If so, why? Or was there some other reason for preventing it?

After the King’s return from his Irish expedition the Parliament or
Council held at St Bride’s, Fleet Street, took place. John wanted
money. He insisted on taking it, not from the City but from the
Religious Houses. It was an act worthy of an Angevin. The fact, and the
way of achieving the fact, are thus narrated by Holinshed:—

 “From hence he made hast to London, and at his comming thither, tooke
 counsell how to recover the great charges and expenses that he had
 beene at in this journey and by the advice of William Brewer, Robert
 de Turnham, Reignold de Cornhill, and Richard de Marish, he caused all
 the cheefe prelats of England to assemble before him at St. Bride’s
 in London. So that thither came all the Abbats, Abbesses, Templars,
 Hospitallers, keepers of farmes and possessions of the order of
 Clugnie, and other such forreners as had lands within this realme
 belonging to their houses. All which were constreined to paie such
 a greevous tax, that the whole amounted to the summe of an hundred
 thousand pounds. The moonks of the Cisteaux order, otherwise called
 White Moonks, were constreined to paie 40 thousand pounds of silver
 at this time, all their privileges to the contrarie notwithstanding.
 Moreover, the abbats of that order might not get licence to go their
 generall chapter that yeere, which yeerelie was used to be holden,
 least their complaint should moove all the world against the king, for
 his too too hard and severe handling of them.” (Holinshed, vol. iii.
 p. 174, 1586 edition.)

This act of spoliation belonged to the period of the six years’
Interdict. The Interdict was pronounced on Passion Sunday, March 23,
1208, “which,” says Roger of Wendover, “since it was expressed to be by
authority of our Lord the Pope, was inviolably observed by all without
regard of persons or privileges. Therefore, all church services ceased
to be performed in England, with the exception only of confession; the
viaticum in cases of extremity; and the baptism of children: the bodies
of the dead, too, were carried out of cities and towns, and buried in
roads and ditches without prayers or the attendance of priests.”

[Illustration: KING JOHN HUNTING

From MS. in British Museum—Claudius D2 (Cotton).]

At the beginning of the Interdict, the solemn silence of the church
bells, the closing of the church gates, the cessation of all religious
rites at a time when nothing was done without religion taking her
part, struck terror into the minds of all folk. But as time went on
and the people became accustomed to live without religion, this terror
wore itself away. One understands very plainly that an Interdict too
long maintained and too rigorously carried out might result in the
destruction of religion itself. We must also remember, first, that
the Interdict was in many places only partially observed, and in
other places was not observed at all. Some of the Bishops remained
on the King’s side; some of the clergy were rewarded for disobeying
the Interdict. And in London and elsewhere there were relaxations.
Thus, marriages and churchings took place at church doors; children
were baptized in the church; offerings might be made at the altar:
in the Monastic Houses the canonical hours were observed, but there
was no singing. In a word, though the close connection of religious
observances with the daily life made the Interdict grievous, there
can be no doubt that its burden was felt less and less the longer it
was maintained. Moreover, the King afforded the City a proof that the
longer the Interdict lasted the richer and more powerful he would
become: a fact which would certainly weaken the terror of the Church,
while it might make the King’s subjects uneasy as to their liberties;
for John confiscated all the property of the Church that he could
lay his hands upon. “The King’s agents,” says Roger of Wendover,
“converted the property of the Bishops to the King’s use, giving them
only a scanty allowance of food and clothing out of their own property.
The coin of the clergy was everywhere locked up and distrained for the
benefit of the revenue: the concubines of the priests and clerks were
taken by the King’s servants and compelled to ransom themselves at
great expense. Religious men and other persons ordained, of any kind,
when found travelling on the road, were dragged from their horses,
robbed, and basely ill-treated by the satellites of the King, and no
one could do them justice. About that time the servants of a certain
sheriff on the confines of Wales came to the King, bringing in their
custody a robber with his hands tied behind him, who had robbed and
murdered a priest on the road: and on their asking the King what it
was his pleasure should be done to the robber in such a case, the King
immediately answered, ‘He hath slain an enemy of mine. Release him, and
let him go!’”

In the year 1210 the Town Ditch was dug for the greater strengthening
of the City.


From the copy of original in British Museum. Rischgitz Collection.]

In 1213 the Standard Bearer of the City, Robert FitzWalter, one of the
malcontent Barons, fled to France rather than give a security of his
fidelity to John the King, whereupon John ordered his castle—Baynard’s
Castle—to be destroyed. This castle stood at the angle in the junction
of Thames and Fleet. The second Baynard’s Castle, erected by the Duke
of Gloucester, was some little distance to the east, also on the bank
of the river.

The leader of the Barons was this Robert FitzWalter, “Marshal of the
Army of God and of Holy Church.” He was Castellain of London, Chief
Banneret of the City, Baron of Dunmow, owner of Baynard’s Castle, and
of a soke which now forms the parish of St. Andrew by the Wardrobe.
As Castellain and Banneret it was his duty to direct the execution of
traitors by drowning in the Thames. At the Court of Husting his place
was on the right hand of the Mayor. In time of war the Castellain
proceeded to the western gate of St. Paul’s, attended by nineteen
knights mounted and armed, his banner borne before him. The Mayor and
Aldermen came forth to meet him, all in arms, the Mayor carrying the
City banner, which he placed in FitzWalter’s hands, at the same time
giving him a charger fully caparisoned valued at £20. A sum of £20 was
also given to FitzWalter for his expenses. The Mote bell was then
rung, and the whole party rode to the Priory of the Holy Trinity, there
to concert measures for the defence of the City.

The events which led to the concession of Magna Charta belong to the
history of the country. But the part played by London in this memorable
event must not be passed over.

The Barons, under FitzWalter, were besieging Northampton when letters
arrived from certain citizens of London offering their admission into
the City, no doubt on terms and conditions. The chance of getting the
chief city of the country into their power was too good to be refused.
A large company of soldiers took back the Barons’ answer. They were
admitted within the walls secretly; according to one Chronicle, at
night and by scaling the wall; according to another, by day, and
on Sunday morning, the people being at mass; according to another,
openly and by Aldgate. Once in the City, however, they seized and
held the gates and proclaimed rebellion against the King, murdering
his partisans. Then the Barons themselves entered London. From this
stronghold they threatened destruction to such of the Lords as had not
joined their confederacy. And for a time all government ceased; there
were no pleas heard in the Courts; the Sheriffs no longer attempted
to carry out their duties; no one paid tax dues, tolls, or customs.
The King, at one time reduced to a personal following of half a dozen,
found himself unable to make any resistance; and on the glorious June
15, 1215, Magna Charta was signed.

The Barons, who retained London by way of security, returned to the
City and there remained for twelve months, but in doubt and anxiety as
to what the King would do next. That he would loyally carry out his
promises no one expected. He was sending ambassadors to Rome seeking
the Pope’s aid; and he was living with a few attendants in the Isle of
Wight, or on the sea-coast near the Cinque Ports, currying favour with
the sailors.

The rest is national history. The Barons appear to have spent their
time in banqueting while the King was acting. Presently they found
that the King had become once more strong enough to meet them. Indeed,
he attempted to besiege London, but was compelled to abandon the
enterprise by the courageous bearing of the citizens, who threw open
their gates and sallied forth. The Barons were excommunicated; the
City was once more laid under an Interdict; these measures produced
no effect, but the Barons clearly perceived that their only hope lay
in setting up another king. They therefore invited Louis, son of the
French King, to come over; and then John died.

To return to the grant of Magna Charta. Its effects upon the liberties
of the people have been thus summarised by George Norton in his
_Historical Account of London_:—

 “This charter has become the very alphabet of the language of freedom
 and proverbialized in the mouths of Englishmen.... Merchants could now
 transact their business without being exposed to arbitrary tolls: the
 King’s Court for Common Pleas should no longer follow his person but
 be stationary in one place: that circuits should be established and
 held every year: and that the inferior local courts should be held
 only at their regular and appointed times ... that the Sheriffs should
 not be allowed in their districts to hold the pleas of the crown:
 that no aids should be demanded of the people except by consent of
 Parliament and in the three cases of the King’s captivity, the making
 his son a knight, and the marriage of his daughter. And lastly, as
 an object of national concern, it was expressly provided that London
 and all the cities and boroughs of the kingdom should preserve their
 ancient liberties, immunities and free customs.”

The words which Norton describes as the alphabet of freedom are the

 “Nullus liber homo capiatur vel imprisonetur, aut disseisiatur de
 libero tenemento suo, vel libertatibus, vel consuetudinibus suis, aut
 utlagetur aut exulet aut aliquo modo destruatur: nec super eum ibimus,
 nec super eum mittimus, nisi per legale judicium parium suorum vel per
 legem terrae. Nulli vendemus: nulli negabimus, aut differemus rectum
 vel Justitiam.”



John was succeeded by his son Henry, then a boy of nine. The death of
their enemy brought back the Barons to their allegiance: forty of them
at once went over to the young King, the rest followed one by one.
Louis was left almost alone in London with his Frenchmen. The pride
and arrogance of the foreigners went far to disgust the English and
inclined them to return to their loyalty. After the defeat at Lincoln,
Louis found himself blockaded within the City walls, unable to get out,
and, unless relief came, likely to be starved into submission. This
is the second instance in history of the City being blockaded both by
land and sea: the first being that siege in which Cnut brought his
ships round the Bridge. The Thames was closed: the roads were closed:
no provisions could be brought into the City by river or by road. And
when a fleet, sent by the French King to the assistance of his son, was
defeated by Hubert de Burgh off Dover, whatever chance the Prince might
have had on his arrival was gone. Louis made terms. He stipulated for
an amnesty for the citizens of London: on the strength of that amnesty,
or as the price of it, he borrowed 5000 marks (or perhaps £1000) of
them and so returned to France.

The young King was received by the citizens with the usual
demonstrations of exuberant joy. Had they known what a terrible
half-century awaited them, they would have been less demonstrative.

A Parliament was held at London as soon as Louis had gone: the care of
the young King, whose mother had already married again, was committed
to the Bishop of Winchester.

The new buildings at Westminster were commenced by the Bishop of
Winchester as one of the first of Henry’s acts.

The story of the wrestling match which belongs to the year 1221 throws
some light upon the internal conditions of the City. In itself it had
no political significance except to show the readiness with which a
mob can be raised on small provocation and the mischief which may
follow. It was on St. James’s Day that sports were held in St. Giles’s
Fields near the Leper Hospital. The young men of London contended with
those of the “suburbs,” especially those of Westminster. Those who
have witnessed a great football match in the North of England will
understand the intense and passionate interest with which each “event”
was followed by the mass of onlookers. A gladiatorial combat was not
more warlike than the wrestling of these young men. The Londoners came
out best in this match, whereupon the Steward of Westminster, according
to the account, resolved upon revenge, and a very unsportsmanlike
revenge he took. For he invited the young men of London to a return
match. They accepted, suspecting nothing; they went unarmed to Tothill
Fields, ready to renew the bloodless contest: they were received, not
by wrestlers, but by armed men, who fell upon them and wounded them
grievously, and so drove them back to the City. One feels that this
story is incomplete, and on the face of it impossible. Holinshed’s
account of what happened in consequence is as follows:—


From MS. in British Museum—Vitellius A. XIII.]

 “The citizens, sore offended to see their people so misused, rose
 in tumult, and rang the common bell to gather the more companies
 to them. Robert Serle, mayor of the Citie, would have pacified the
 matter, persuading them to let the injurie passe till by orderlie
 plaint they might get redresse, as law and justice should assigne. But
 a certeine stout man of the Citie named Constantine FitzArnulfe, of
 good authoritie amongst them, advised the multitude not to harken unto
 peace, but to seeke revenge out of hand (wherein he shewed himselfe
 so farre from true manhood, that he bewraied himselfe rather to have a
 woman’s heart),—

           ... Quod vindicta
    Nemo magis gaudet quam fœmina—

 still prosecuting the strife with tooth and naile, and blowing the
 coles of contention as it were with full bellowes, that the houses
 belonging to the Abbat of Westminster, and manelie the house of his
 steward might be overthrowne and beaten downe flat with the ground.
 This lewd counsell was soone received and executed by the outragious
 people, and Constantine himselfe being cheefe leader of them, cried
 with a lowd voice, ‘Mount Joy! Mount Joy! God be our aid and our
 sovereigne Lewes!’ This outragious part comming to the notice of
 Hubert de Burgh, Lord Cheefe Justice, he gat togither a power of armed
 men, and came to the Citie with the same, and taking inquisition of
 the cheefe offenders, found Constantine as constant in affirming
 the deed to be his, as he had before constanlie put it in practise,
 whereupon he was apprehended and two other citizens with him. On the
 next day in the morning Fouks de Brent was appointed to have them
 to execution: and so by the Thames he quietly led them to the place
 where they should suffer. Now when Constantine had the halter about
 his necke, he offered fifteene thousand marks of silver to have beene
 pardoned, but it would not be. There was hanged with him his nephew
 also named Constantine, and one Geffrey, who made the proclamation
 devised by the said Constantine.” (Holinshed, vol. iii. p. 204, 1586

In this singular incident we perceive very plainly the existence of a
French party in the City. It was only two or three years since Prince
Louis had been called over: there was no love for the advisers or the
guardians of the young King: the memory of John still rankled: the
cries of “Mount Joy!” came from men of the French party: the party
was so strong that they believed themselves certain to be respected:
Constantine fully expected to be acquitted if he were tried by
his peers. And the party contained some—perhaps a majority—of the
wealthiest merchants, since one of them was able to offer 15,000
marks for his release, equal to £10,000, and about six times as much
according to our present value. The story also enables us to understand
both the exaggerated belief in their own powers entertained by the
citizens of London, and the resentment with which the King would
receive indication of this belief. It wanted fifty years of Henry
and thirty of Edward to make the citizens lay aside the belief that
king-making was one of the privileges exclusively granted to the City.

Meantime the resentment of the young King, who never forgot or forgave
this affair, was shown by the arrest of many citizens on the charge of
taking part in the business, and their punishment by the loss of hand,
foot, or eyesight. The King also deposed all the City officers. In this
way the seeds of animosity and distrust between the King and the City
were sown.

In the year 1227 Henry declared himself of age. This declaration was
followed by five Charters granted to the City of London.

In the first of these Charters, February 8, 1227, the King grants the
citizens the Sheriffwick of London and Middlesex; all their liberties
and free customs; the election of their Sheriffs, whom they are to
present to the King’s Justices; but not the election of their Mayor.
The second Charter, of the same date, gives them the power of electing
their Mayor “every year.” It is addressed to Archbishops, Bishops,
etc., and all faithful subjects; and it speaks of the King’s “Barons”
in his City. The third Charter orders the removal of all weirs in the
Thames and the Medway, recites the privileges granted by the Charter of
King John with “all other liberties which they had in the time of Henry
I.” (It is remarkable that Edward the Confessor appears no longer in
Charters and in laws.) The fifth Charter, dated August 18, 1227, refers
to the warren of Staines.

In 1229 came over to England Stephen, the Pope’s Nuncio, with orders to
levy a tenth upon all property, spiritual or temporal, for the Pope.
After much hesitation, and only to avoid excommunication, the Bishops
and Abbots consented; but the temporal Lords refused, in some cases
giving way when they were compelled to do so, and in others holding
out. The Earl of Chester, for instance, would not allow the tax to be
levied on any part of his lands or upon any priest, or Religious House.
The Nuncio made himself odious, partly by his grasping demands, even
taking the gold and silver chalices when there was no money; partly
by the tax itself, which gave over, as it seemed, the whole country
into the hands of the Pope; and partly because the Nuncio brought over
with him certain “Caursines,” or Caursini, agents for the Pope, who
collected the tax. These foreigners remained, and, as will be seen,
increased yearly in wealth and in the detestation of the people.

In this reign, also, the country people received other lessons as
to the duty of affection for the Pope by the arrival among them of
foreigners intruded into their benefices from Rome; these priests knew
no English and were unable to instruct the people. The troubles which
arose on account of these evils belong to the history of the country.

Despite his Charters the King’s exactions grew continually more
grievous. He levied a Poll Tax in the City and a Ward Tax, and after
a fire which destroyed a large part of the City, he exacted a sum of
£20,000. In 1231 the Jews built a synagogue “very curiously,” but the
citizens, by permission of the King, obtained possession of it, and
caused it, humorously, to be dedicated to the Virgin Mary. About the
same time the King built “a fair church adjoining thereto in the City
of London near the old temple,” _e.g._ the _Domus Conversorum_ or House
of Converts. Stow says that there were a great many converts who were
baptized and instructed in the laws of Christ and “did live laudably
under a learned man appointed to govern them.” The “fair church” was
the Rolls Chapel, wantonly destroyed in the year 1896.

The Chronicles of this date contain a great deal of information about
the weather. I have not thought it necessary to note the hard frosts,
the high tides, and the storms, which were remarked in London and
elsewhere. The weather seems to have been much the same at all times
in this country. Now and then a storm more than commonly severe is
experienced. For instance, on January 25, 1230, while the Bishop was
celebrating High Mass in St. Paul’s, there arose a terrible storm of
thunder and lightning, and so dreadful a “savour and stinke withal”
that a panic seized the people and they rushed out of the church
headlong, falling over each other, priests and choristers and all,
saving only the Bishop and one deacon. When the storm passed away,
they all went back again, and the Bishop continued the Mass. In 1233
there was a wet summer with floods in all parts of the country and a
bad harvest. We are not yet out of the age of prodigies and miracles
and monsters. Four suns appeared in the sky at the same time, together
with a great circle of crystalline colour; and in the South of England
two dragons were seen fighting in the air until one overcame the other,
when both plunged into the sea. In the North of England and also in
Ireland bodies of armed men sprang out of the ground and fought in
battle array and then sank into the ground again. To show that this was
no mere apparition the ground was trodden down where they had fought.
And once a strange star appeared with a flaming tail. What could these
prodigies portend?

In the year 1236 the City received the new Queen with every outward
sign of welcome, and, unfortunately for themselves, of wealth. What was
Eleanor of Provence, what was the young King, to think of the resources
of the city which could receive them with so brave a show? Thus writes
Stow concerning this Riding:—

 “The cittie was adorned with silkes, and in the night with lampes,
 cressets, and other lights without number, besides many pageants and
 strange devices which were shewed. The citizens rode to meete the
 king and queene, beeing clothed in long garmentes embrodered about
 with golde and silke of divers colours, their horses finely trapped
 in arraie to the number of three hundred and sixty, every man bearing
 golden or silver cuppes in their hands, and the king’s trumpeters
 before them sounding. The citizens of London did minister wine as
 butlers.” (Howe’s edition of Stow’s _Chronicles_, p. 184.)

In the year 1236 water was first brought into the City by pipes from
the Tyburn, or from wells or springs in the district called Tyburn,
now Marylebone. These pipes were of lead and discharged the water
into cisterns which were afterwards castellated with stone. The most
important of them was that in Chepe: there were in all, when other
pipes had been laid down, nineteen conduits: and it became the custom,
once a year, for the Mayor and Aldermen to ride out in order to inspect
the Heads from which the conduits were supplied, after which they were
wont to hunt a hare before dinner and a fox after dinner in the fields
about Marylebone.

In the year 1238 a singular procession passed out of St. Paul’s
Cathedral along Fleet Street and the Strand as far as Durham House,
then the palace of the Legate. The procession consisted of a large
body of ecclesiastics, Doctors in Divinity and Law, followed (or
preceded) by a company of young men: they were ungirded, without gown,
bareheaded and barefooted. There were the Heads of Houses, the Master
and Students of the University of Oxford headed by Ado de Kilkenny,
Standard Bearer to the scholars: they were on their way to pray the
Legate’s pardon for a late lamentable outbreak in Oxford. It began with
an Irish undergraduate, who went into the Legate’s kitchen to beg for
food. The cook in reply took up a pot filled with hot broth and threw
it in his face. A Welsh student, also come on the same errand, was so
exasperated at the sight of the outrage that he killed the cook, there
and then. After which the students rose in a body and attacked the
house. The Legate fled for his life, taking refuge in a church steeple
whence he escaped under cover of the night. As soon as he was safe he
interdicted the University, and excommunicated all concerned in the
riot. But on their submission he granted his forgiveness and removed
the Interdict.

In 1250 the King sent for the principal citizens, and assured them
that he would no longer oppress them by taxation. This promise was
never meant to be kept. On a frivolous complaint of Richard, the King’s
brother, the City liberties were seized and a _custos_ appointed, who
remained in office until the City had paid a fine of six hundred marks.
Five hundred more were demanded for a new charter by which the incoming
Mayor might be presented to the Barons of the Exchequer every year
instead of the King. The old jealousy with which the citizens looked
upon the Tower was about this time revived and strengthened by the
erection of a wall round the Tower. Longchamp had made the ditch, but
his work remained incomplete. Henry resolved to carry it on and to make
an independent fortress surrounded by its own walls and having its own
communications with the river and the country outside. The citizens
looked upon the rise of this wall with suspicion and misgiving. Before
the work was completed the wall fell down. It was put up again, and
again it fell down, to the great joy of the people, who looked upon
it as a direct intervention of Heaven on their behalf. That this was
really the case was proved by a story which ran about the City that the
overthrow of the wall was done by St. Thomas à Becket himself.

“A vision appeared by night to a certain priest, a wise and holy man,
wherein an archprelate, dressed in pontifical robes, and carrying
a cross in his hand, came to the walls which the King had at that
time built near the Tower of London, and, after regarding them with
a scowling look, struck them strongly and violently with the cross,
saying, ‘Why do ye rebuild them?’ Whereupon the newly-erected walls
suddenly fell to the ground, as if thrown down by an earthquake.
The priest, frightened at this sight, said to a clerk who appeared
following the archprelate, ‘Who is this archbishop?’ to which the
clerk replied, ‘It is St. Thomas the martyr, a Londoner by birth,
who considered that these walls were built as an insult, and to the
prejudice of the Londoners, and has therefore irreparably destroyed
them.’ The priest then said, ‘What expense and builders’ labour have
they not cost.’ The clerk replied,‘If poor artificers, who seek after
and have need of pay, had obtained food for themselves by the work,
that would be endurable; but inasmuch as they have been built, not for
the defence of the kingdom, but only to oppress harmless citizens, if
St. Thomas had not destroyed them, St. Edmund the Confessor and his
successor would still more relentlessly have overthrown them from their
foundations.’ The priest, after having seen these things, awoke from
his sleep, rose from his bed, and in the dead silence of the night
told his vision to all who were in the house. Early in the morning a
report spread through the city of London that the walls built round the
Tower, on the construction of which the King had expended more than
twelve thousand marks, had fallen to pieces, to the wonder of many, who
proclaimed it a bad omen, because the year before, on the same night,
which was that of St. George’s day, and at the same hour of the night,
the said walls had fallen down, together with their bastions. The
citizens of London, although astonished at this event, were not sorry
for it; for these walls were to them as a thorn in their eyes, and they
had heard the taunts of the people who said that these walls had been
built as an insult to them, and that if any one of them should dare
to contend for the liberty of the City, he would be shut up in them,
and consigned to imprisonment; and in order that, if several were to
be imprisoned, they might be confined in several different prisons, a
great number of cells were constructed in them apart from one another,
that one person might not have communication with another.” (Matthew

The wealth of the Jews—or at least of one Jew—is shown by the exactions
of the King from Aaron of York. He made this man—one of “his” Jews—pay
him the sum of 14,000 marks for himself and 10,000 marks for the
Queen. He had before this made the unfortunate Aaron give him 3000
marks besides 200 marks of gold for the Queen, in all about 60,000
marks or £40,000, which in our money would be equal to about half a
million sterling. In 1252 the King seized the half of all the property
possessed by the Jews. But there was worse trouble for the Jews than
mere plunder. In 1225 the Jews of Norwich were thrown into prison on a
charge of circumcising a boy with the intention of crucifying him at
Easter. They were accused, convicted, and “punished”—hanged or burned.
In 1255 one hundred and forty-three Jews were brought to Westminster
charged with crucifying a child named Hugh de Lincoln. Eighteen of
them were hanged; the rest were kept in prison a long time. In 1239
they were accused of a murder “secretly committed,” and were glad to
escape with the loss of the third part of their property. The Pope’s
Nuncio, Stephen, was succeeded by one Martin, who carried on the same
exactions, regardless of murmurs and threats. The King was persuaded
to hold an inquiry into the number and value of the benefices held by
foreigners preferred by the Pope. The annual value was found to be
60,000 marks, or £40,000, an enormous sum at that time. The detention
of a messenger with letters from the Pope to his Nuncio, brought the
matter to a head. On an occasion when a large number of lords, knights,
and gentlemen met together at Dunstable, they united in sending a
message to Martin that he must quit the kingdom. He was then residing
in the Temple. The story shows the exasperation of the people and the
helplessness of the King, whose authority was thus usurped:—

[Illustration: JEWS’ PASSOVER

From a missal of the fifteenth century.]

 “Maister Martine hearing this, got him to the court, and declaring
 to the king what message he had received, required to understand
 whether he was privie to the matter, or that his people tooke it
 upon them so rashlie without his authoritie or no? To whome the king
 answered, that he had not given them any authoritie so to command
 him out of the realme; but indeed (saith he) my barons doo scarselie
 forbeare to rise against me, bicause I have maintained and suffered
 thy pilling and injurious polling within this my realme, and I have
 had much adoo to staie them from running upon thee to pull thee in
 peeces. Maister Martine hearing these words, with a fearfull voice
 besought the king that he might for the love of God, and reverence of
 the pope, have free passage out of the realme; to whome the king in
 great displeasure answered, ‘The divill that brought thee in carrie
 thee out, even to the pit of hell for me.’ Howbeit, at length, when
 those that were about the king had pacified him, he appointed one of
 the marshals of his house, called Robert North or Nores, to conduct
 him to the sea side, and so he did, but not without great feare,
 sithens he was afraid of everie bush, least men should have risen upon
 him and murthered him. Whereupon when he came to the pope, he made a
 greevious complaint both against the king and others.” (Holinshed,
 vol. iii. p. 237, 1586 edition.)

After a futile remonstrance with the Pope, the Barons and Lords
resolved that they would pay no more tribute to Rome. The Pope
therefore ordered the Bishops to set their seals to the Charter by
which John had consented to the tribute. This they did, whereupon the
King, who was always strong in words, swore that so long as he should
live no tribute should be paid to Rome. The position of the country
towards the Pope was considered at a Parliament called in London in
Lent 1246. As regards London, it is sufficient to note the quarrel
and to remember that the attitude of the country, three hundred years
before the Reformation, was thus hostile to the claims of the Pope.

In the year 1241 took place the election of Boniface, Bishop Elect
of Basle, and uncle of the Queen, as Archbishop of Canterbury. This
election was the greatest and the worst of the many intrusions of
foreigners into English offices. Matthew Paris tells the story of the

“The monks of Canterbury, then, finding that the Pope and the King
indulged them by turns, and mutually assented to each other’s requests,
after invoking the grace of the Holy Spirit and the King’s favour,
elected as the pastor of their souls, Boniface, bishop elect of Basle,
and an uncle of the Lady Eleanor, the illustrious Queen of England, yet
entirely unknown to the aforesaid monks, as regarded his knowledge,
morals, or age, and (as was stated) totally incompetent, compared with
the archbishops his predecessors, for such a dignified station. They
however elected him, on this consideration, namely, that, if they had
elected any one else, the King, who obtained the favour of the Pope in
everything, would invent some grounds of objections, and reject and
annul the election. And in order that the Pope might not reject the
bishop elect as incompetent, or rather that he might appear competent
and fit for such a high dignity, the King, who endeavoured by all the
means in his power to promote the cause and raise the fame of the said
Boniface, now elected or about to be elected, ordered a paper to be
drawn up, in which the person of the said Boniface was praised beyond
measure, and in evidence of the truth of it appended his royal seal to
the said writing. He then sent it to the bishops and abbats, enjoining
or imperiously begging them to set their seals also to it, and to bear
evidence to his assertion; several, however, unwilling to violate
the integrity of their conscience, and fearing to break the Lord’s
commandment, ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness,’ firmly refused to
obey him. Several of the clergy of the higher ranks, however, namely
some bishops and abbats, were alarmed and enervated by the King’s
threats, and, laying aside their godly fear, and showing reverence to
man more than to God, affixed their seals to it, as a guarantee and
testimony of their belief, and willingly accepted of this Boniface as
their superior. Although he was of noble blood and a most particular
friend of the princes of both kingdoms, and himself well-made in
person, and sufficiently qualified, yet the monks of Canterbury were
extremely sorry that they had been overcome by the King’s entreaties
and agreed to his request in this matter; and some of them, after
reflecting within themselves, knowing the misery in store for them,
seceded from their church, and, in order to perform continued penance,
betook themselves to the Carthusian order.”


From MS. in British Museum. Add. 23,923.]

Nine years later, in 1250, there occurred an ecclesiastical scandal
of a very unusual kind caused and provoked by the arrogance of this
prelate. It is related by Stow as follows:—

 “Boniface, Archbishop of Canterburie, in his visitation came to the
 priory of Saint Bartholomew in Smithfielde, where, being received with
 procession in the most solemne wise, he said he passed not upon the
 honor but came to visit them, unto whome the Chanons answered, that
 they having a learned Byshoppe ought not in contempt of him to bee
 visited by any other, which answere so much misliked the Archbyshopp,
 that he forthwith fell on the Subprior, and smote him on the face
 with his fist, saying, ‘Indeede! Indeede, doeth it become you English
 Traytors so to answere me?’ Thus raging with othes not to be recited,
 he rent in pieces the rich coape of the Subprior, trode it under
 feete, and thrust him against a pillar of the chancell, that he hadde
 almost killed him but the Chanons seeing that their Subprior was
 almost dead they ranne and plucked off the Archbyshoppe with such
 a violence that they overthrew him backwardes, whereby they might
 see that he was armed and prepared to fight. The Archbyshoppe’s men
 seeing their maister downe (being all strangers, and their maister’s
 countrymen borne in Provance), fell upon the Chanons, beate them, tare
 them, and trode them under their feet: at length the Chanons getting
 away as well as they could, ranne bloddy and myrie, rent and torne,
 to the Bishoppe of London to complaine, who bade them go to the king
 at Westminster, and tell him thereof: whereupon four of them went
 thither, the rest were not able, they were so sore hurt: but when they
 came at Westminster, the king woulde neyther heare nor see them, so
 they returned without redresse. In the meane season the whole citie
 was in an uproare, and ready to have rang the common bell, and to have
 hewed the Archbyshoppe into small pieces, but he was secretly gotte
 away to Lambeth.” (Howe’s edition of Stow’s _Chronicles_, p. 188.)

At a Parliament held in the year 1246, a memorandum was drawn up of
the injuries sustained by England at the hands of the Pope, especially
in the presentation of English benefices to foreigners. The document
is of the highest interest, but belongs to the national history. The
reading and adoption of this memorandum was followed by the despatch of
letters from (1) “all the English”; (2) the Abbots of England; (3) the
general community of England; (4) the King—all these to the Pope—and
lastly from the King to the Cardinals. The third of these letters,
which was sent out with the seal of the City of London, was the most
straightforward. It may be quoted here:—

 “To the most holy Father in Christ and well-beloved Lord, Innocent,
 by the grace of God supreme Pontiff of the Universe Church, his
 devoted sons, Richard, earl of Cornwall; Simon de Montfort, earl of
 Leicester; De Bohun, earl of Hereford and Essex; R. le Bigod, earl of
 Norfolk; R., earl of Gloucester and Hereford; R., earl of Winchester;
 W., earl of Albemarle; H., earl of Oxford; and others throughout the
 whole of England, barons and nobles, as well as the nobles of the
 ports dwelling near the sea-coast, as also the clergy and people in
 general, Health and due reverence in all respects to such a potent
 pontiff. The Mother Church is bound so to cherish her children,
 and to assemble them under her wings, that they may not degenerate
 in their duty to their mother, but may make stronger efforts on
 her behalf, if necessary, and taking up the sword and buckler, may
 oppose themselves to every peril in her defence, from whose milk they
 derive consolation, whilst they hang on the breasts of her motherly
 affection: for the mother ought to remember the children of her womb,
 lest, by acting otherwise, and withdrawing the nourishment of her
 milk, she may appear to become a stepmother. The father, also, who
 withdraws his affection from his sons, is no father, but ought, with
 good reason, to be called a stepfather, as he considers his natural
 children as illegitimate ones, or stepsons. On this account, reverend
 father, ‘chariot of Israel and its charioteer,’ we confidently resort
 to the asylum of your affection, crying aloud after you, humbly
 and devoutly praying of you, in the hopes of divine retribution,
 compassionately to listen to the voices of those crying after you, and
 to apply a salutary remedy to the burdens, injuries, and oppressions
 repeatedly imposed and practised on the kingdom of England, and our
 lord the king: otherwise, scandal will necessarily arise, urged on as
 we are ourselves, as well as the king, by the clamours of the people;
 since it will be necessary for us, unless the king and kingdom are
 soon released from the oppressions practised on him and it, to oppose
 ourselves as a wall for the house of the Lord, and for the liberty of
 the kingdom. This, indeed, we have, out of respect for the Apostolic
 See, hitherto delayed doing; but we shall not be able to dissemble
 after the return of our messengers who are sent on this matter to
 the Apostolic See, or to refrain from giving succour, as far as lies
 in our power, to the clergy, as well as the people of the kingdom of
 England, who will on no account endure such proceedings: and your
 holiness may rest assured that, unless the aforesaid matters are
 speedily reformed by you, there will be reasonable grounds to fear
 that such peril will impend over the Roman church, as well as our lord
 the king, that it will not be easy to apply a remedy to the same:
 which God forbid.”

The reign of Henry III. should have taught the citizens the great
lesson that a charter is only a recognition and a promise: a
recognition of ancient rights and liberties achieved, and a promise to
respect these rights and liberties. When a king ascended the throne,
who had no regard for oaths or charters, and who was strong enough to
enforce his will, what became of the rights and liberties? The City had
to learn that more than a king’s word was necessary. “Make a law,” is
the cry of the weak and ignorant. “Let us defend what laws we have,”
is the cry of the strong. During the greater part of this long reign
London was weak and ignorant. The weakness of London—the alternate fits
of rage and apathy—as, one after the other, her liberties were taken
from her, is to be explained by the fact that the City was divided
within itself. London united and of one mind could have dictated terms
to king or barons. The secret of the successful and long-continued
oppression of the City is the internal dissension of the people.

I must reserve for another chapter the history of the King’s
encroachments and the internal dissensions. They form part of the
growth—though apparently a check or hindrance—of the civil liberties.

The City, at the same time, laboured together with the country under
heavy grievances. An arbitrary and extravagant king; the immigration of
foreigners by swarms; the exactions of the Italian usurers, licensed
by the Pope; the continuous and almost hopeless struggle against the
domination and pretensions of the Pope; the loss of foreign and home
trade, owing to internal dissensions and unchecked piracies,—all these
things together make the long reign of Henry III. the most disastrous
in the whole history of London. The struggle with the Pope belongs
to the history of the country rather than to that of London. The
unpopularity of the King was extended to the Queen as well. Perhaps
Eleanor was regarded as the chief cause of the invasion of the country
by these foreigners—ecclesiastics and usurers. The hatred of the people
was shown on one unfortunate day when the Queen proposed to go by boat
from the Tower to Windsor. As she drew near the Bridge, according to
Holinshed, “a sorte of lewd naughtepacks, got them to the Bridge,
making a noise at her, and crying ‘Drown the witch!’ threw down stones,
cudgels, dirt, and other things at her, so that she escaped in great
danger of her person, fled to Lambeth, and, through fear to be further
pursued, landed there, and so stayed till the Mayor of London, with
much ado appeasing the peril of the people, repaired to the Queen and
brought her back again in safety to the Tower.”

London suffered worse things than the country because her people were
throughout this long reign the unceasing object of the King’s rapacity,
tyranny, and hatred. He deprived the City of the Mayor and Sheriffs,
substituting a Custos and Bailiffs; he fined them relentlessly and on
the smallest pretext; he laid upon them more heavy taxes than they had
ever before known; he made them pay for their charters; he tried to
divert the trade of the City to Westminster; yet from time to time he
seems to have understood the necessity for conciliation: he met the
citizens at a folk-mote; he took leave of them before going abroad.
On another occasion he cut down the expenses of his household, even
suppressing some of the tapers on his altar, so that he was not always
an extravagant monarch. Again, on another occasion we find him spending
the day and dining with the Dominican Friars, so that he was not always
a luxurious monarch. And there is the memorable scene in Westminster
Hall, which may be given in the words of Matthew of Westminster:—

“The day fortnight after Easter, a great parliament being assembled,
nearly all the prelates being met together, requested that the King,
observing their charters and liberties as he had often promised, would
also permit the Holy Church to enjoy its liberties, especially in
the matter of the elections of prelates of the cathedral churches,
and of the churches of convents: all which the King protested that
he would observe inviolably, and thus obtained the consent which he
desired from them and from the other nobles, to the subsidy which he
required for his pilgrimage. Accordingly, there was granted to the King
one-tenth part of all the ecclesiastical revenues for three years,
and from the knights a scutage for that year, at the rate of three
marks for each shield. And the King promised in all good faith that
he would inviolably observe all those things which he had on other
occasions repeatedly sworn to, and which had been originally granted
by his father John. And that they might feel more sure of his promise,
he ordered sentence to that effect to be publicly pronounced in his
presence, which was also done in the following manner:—

Accordingly on the third of May, in the larger royal palace at
Westminster, in the presence of, and under the authority of the Lord
Henry, by the grace of God, King of England, etc., etc. And after
this was done, the charter of his father John was produced before the
assembly, in which the said King John had granted the same things of
his own absolute will, out of which charter they caused the aforesaid
liberties to be recited. But while the King was listening to the
aforesaid sentence, he held his hand to his breast with a serene
and willing countenance; and at last, when all the tapers had been
thrown down and were smoking, each person said, ‘So may all those who
transgress this sentence be extinguished and stink in hell’; and the
King, with all those who were standing by, answered, ‘Amen, Amen.’”

When civil war broke out the City took the side of the Barons. London
provided a contingent of 12,000 men. At Lewes the Londoners were routed
by Prince Edward in return for the insults with which they had assailed
the Queen, his mother; at Evesham their party was defeated and the
King was once more restored to power. He deposed the Mayor; he put a
Custos in his place; he refused to receive the citizens when they went
to London to sue for mercy; he imprisoned Thomas FitzThomas for life;
he confiscated the property of sixty of the wealthier citizens; he
fined the City 20,000 marks, and because it was from the Bridge that
the Queen had been insulted by the citizens, he gave the Bridge and its
tolls to her. She kept it for a few years, neglecting to keep it in
repair, and then gave it back to the City.

In the year 1257 Henry issued a new coinage of golden pennies, each
weighing two sterlings, _i.e._ two silver pennies, and each ordered
to represent twenty sterlings. He asked the advice of the City upon
the matter. There was a general feeling that the golden penny was not
wanted, and that it would cause a depreciation in the value of gold.
The King ordered the coinage to be continued, but that no one should be
compelled to take it.

We now come upon a confused episode in the history. It is that of the
occupation of the City by the Earl of Gloucester (Gilbert de Clare).
As Arnold FitzThedmar tells the story, the Earl was coming to London
by command of the Legate, who held the Tower. The Legate further told
the citizens that Gloucester was a friend of the King, and that they
must admit him and his men into the City. However, the citizens begged
the Earl not to take up his quarters within their walls by reason
of the great multitude with him. Accordingly, he rode through with
his host, and lay at Southwark. But next day the Earl came back, to
hold a conference with the Legate, and there remained, he and all his
people. The roving bands of the “disherisoned” who had been wasting
Norfolk from their headquarters at Ely appeared before the City. The
Earl took the keys of the gates, let in these dangerous marauders,
and assumed the command over the whole City. Many of the better sort
went away from this, and the Earl ordered their chattels to be seized
for his own use or allowed his soldiers to plunder them. His men were
joined by certain “low people” calling themselves the “Commons of the
City”—they were obviously the craftsmen—who seized the opportunity to
assert themselves: they arrested many of the principal citizens and
spoiled and wasted their goods; deposed the mayor and sheriffs; they
chose three of themselves to be custos and bailiffs; they imprisoned
some of the aldermen; they invited back all those who had been expelled
the City for breach of the peace against King Henry; and they released
those who were prisoners in Newgate, Ludgate, Cripplegate, and any
other prison. Some of the disorderly company of the “disherisoned”
marched to Westminster, and there did as much mischief as they could to
the palace, breaking the glass windows, drinking the wine, and defacing
the buildings. The Pope’s Legate, meantime, was in the Tower. With him
were many of the King’s friends—those of the aristocratic party—and a
great number of Jews; we may also believe that the Caursini and the
foreigners were taking shelter in the Tower. The Jews, who had with
them their wives and children together with all their portable wealth,
were assigned the defence of one ward of the Tower, which, it is
pleasant to read, they did defend valiantly. In the end peace was made,
and the City escaped without a fine save 1000 marks for the destruction
of the house of the King’s brother Richard at Isleworth.

In 1267 the King gave the City of London to his son Edward in order
that he might rule over it, and to enjoy its revenues. Edward appointed
a Custos, one Hugh FitzOthon, who was also Constable of the Tower.

In 1271 the Prince restored the Mayor and Sheriffs and obtained a
charter of confirmation for the City. This done he assumed the Cross
and went upon his crusade.

The amount of revenue obtained by the King from the City of London
in the year 1268 is shown by the following return furnished by the
Bailiffs Walter Hervey and William de Durham.

                                                            £  _s._ _d._

  By the amount of Tunnages (king’s weigh-house) and
    petty strandages                                        97  13  11½
  By the amount of Customs of Foreign Merchandise
    together with the Issues of divers Passages             75   6  10
  By the Metage of Corn and Customs at Billingsgate          5  18   7
  By the Customs of Fish, etc., brought to London Bridge
    Street                                                   7   0   2
  By the Issue of the Field and Bars of Smithfield           4   7   6
  By Tolls raised at the City Gates and Duties in the
    River Thames westward of the Bridge                      8  13   2
  By Stallages, Duties arising from the Markets of
    Westcheap, Grass Cheap, and Wool Church, Haw
    and Annual Socage of the Butchers of London             42   0   5
  By the Produce of Queenshithe                             17   9   2
  By Chattels of Foreigners forfeited for trading
    in the City                                             10  11   0
  By Places and Perquisites within the City                 86   5   9
  By the Produce of the Waidarii and Ambiani or Corbye
    and Neele French Merchants of these towns                9   6   8
                                        Total             £364  13   2½

In the year 1267 there was a serious riot, showing that the craftsmen
had not yet learned the lesson of fraternity towards each other. It
rose from a quarrel between the goldsmiths and the tailors. Other
trades joined in: for instance the tawyers who prepared fine leather:
and the parmenters who dealt in broad-cloth. For several days the
streets were thronged with companies of these conflicting trades,
fighting and murdering. In the end the riot was suppressed and the
ringleaders were executed.



[Illustration: EDWARD I. (1239-1307)]

The new reign began with the adjustment of an outstanding quarrel.
Flanders was the principal cloth-making country, and, as such, she was
always the chief customer of England for wool, in the trade of which
so many of the London merchants were interested. In the year 1270,
when the Countess of Flanders thought fit to lay hands upon the wool
and other merchandise belonging to English merchants in her dominions,
Henry issued a writ to the Mayor and Sheriffs forbidding the export
of wool anywhere out of the kingdom. This measure failed to produce
the desired effect. The King therefore, in 1270, seized all the goods
of the Flemings, Hainaulters, and other subjects of the Countess; he
ordered the London merchants to draw up an estimate of their wares, to
be replaced out of the Flemings’ goods, and banished every Fleming out
of the country. The property seized more than covered the amount of
the loss. When the old King died during the absence of Edward in the
Holy Land, the Chancellor, Walter de Merton, continued to banish the

On his journey home, Edward received an embassy from the Countess, and
sent for four discreet citizens to confer with him. The four chosen
were Henry Waleys, afterwards Mayor of Bordeaux, as well as of London;
Gregory de Rokesley, goldsmith and wool merchant; John Horn, evidently
of Flemish descent; and Luke de Battencourt, Sheriff. Peace was
concluded and signed in the same year—1274.

On the return of Edward from the Holy Land, he was received by the City
with every appearance of joy, all the houses being hung with silk and
tapestry, while the conduits ran with wine.

He was crowned at Westminster Abbey with his Queen Eleanor on August
19, 1274. The ceremony took place in the Abbey Church very much as we
see it, though without later additions of chapel and western towers.
The Abbey had been rebuilt by Henry III. though as yet it was not
finished. The Queen-mother, Eleanor of Provence, was present. The day
after the coronation Alexander III. of Scotland did homage. In honour
of the occasion five hundred horses were let loose among the crowd for
any to take who could. One would like a picture of the scramble which
followed, and an enumeration of the dead and wounded when all the
horses had been ridden away.


From the effigy in Westminster Abbey.]

In the City the contest between the two parties was continued. The old
party tried to obtain the election of their man Philip le Taillour, but
were beaten by the common sort who elected Walter Hervey. An appeal was
made to the King: a committee of ten, five on each side, were to agree
upon a Mayor. The names of the members of this committee on both sides
show pretty plainly the real nature of the quarrel. For one side are
Walter Merton, William le Polter, John Adrian, Henry de Coventry, and
Thomas Basyng, all members of old City families; on the other side are
Robert Grapefige, Alan the Capmaker, and Bartholomew the Grocer. It was
while the dispute was still unsettled that the old King had died, and
Walter Merton told the people at Paul’s Cross that they should have
their Mayor. The new Mayor and Sheriffs set themselves to regulate the
trade of the City, especially the sale of bread, meal, and provisions
generally, and to pass laws for the punishment of those who gave short
weight or adulterated food. The laws being passed, the City Fathers, as
was customary in those times, sat down with the consciousness of having
done their duty. The appointment of an executive force to insist upon
the observance of the laws was an expedient not yet invented by the wit
of man.

It is, however, another illustration of the upheaval and discontent
of the people that in the third year of this reign, the juries of the
wards made a presentment to the King complaining that although the City
ought not to be tallaged except by order of the King, yet it had been
on several occasions tallaged by the Mayor; and that although all
the citizens were equal as regards their freedom and privileges, yet
some of the Aldermen and others had obtained charters from Henry III.
exempting them from tallage: in so much that all the tallage fell upon
the middle sort and the poor, to their great loss and oppression.

The King further considered the complaints against the Jews for usury.
They were forbidden to practise their trade; and it was ordained, as
a mark of infamy, that every usurer should wear upon his breast a
badge, the “breadth of a paveline,” in sign of his trade. This law was
levelled at the Italian merchants, the men of the Pope, who traded in
money and refused to obey any laws against the practice except those
of the Pope. As for the unfortunate Jews, being deprived of the only
trade open to them—if they were really deprived, but I think the edict
was never enforced,—they took to clipping and diminishing the King’s
coin—if they really did do so, but one doubts—and were all seized
and imprisoned in one day: out of those so arrested in the City, two
hundred and eighty were executed. Alas! poor Jews!

It is an illustration of the melancholy condition to which London was
reduced by the late disastrous reign that in the year 1281 it was
reported to the King that London Bridge had become so ruinous that it
might any moment fall down. This was in consequence of the Queen of
Henry III. having spent the revenues and rents upon herself, and left
the fabric to fall into ruin, in so much that in 1282 a great frost
happening, five of the piers were carried away by the ice. Edward
ordered a toll of one penny for every horseman and one halfpenny for
every saleable pack of goods that crossed the bridge, the toll to
continue for three years. Grants of land, made to the City by Edward
I. and following kings for the repair of the Bridge, prove that the
citizens had recovered their ancient rights as to its custody.

Nor were the City Gates in much better case than the Bridge. Thus, the
Hanseatic merchants enjoyed the privilege of trading in the City on the
condition of keeping one of the Gates—Bishopsgate—in repair, and of
defending it in case of siege. The condition was imposed by Henry III.,
but the merchants neglected the Gate so that it had by this time fallen
into ruin. On being called upon to fulfil their contract they at first
refused, but when the case was decided against them by the Court of
Exchequer, they performed their duty with zeal, and a hundred and fifty
years later, when the gate again fell into decay, they pulled it down
and rebuilt it.

The brutality of the time is illustrated by the reception given to
the head of Llewelyn, Prince of Wales. He had fled to the castle of
Builth after losing his last battle. Here he was betrayed into the
hands of Roger le Strange, who cut off his head with his sword and
sent it to the King. Edward ordered that it should be carried to
London. Consequently the head of the dead warrior was borne on a lance,
crowned with a silver chaplet, through the streets with a cavalcade
of men-at-arms, with trumpets and drums, and with the shouting of the
people. Then it was stuck up on the Tower, crowned with a mock diadem.
One remembers also the unspeakable indignities perpetrated on the dead
body of Simon de Montfort.

All the histories of London notice the remarkable case of Lawrence
Ducket mentioned by Fabyan. It occurred in the year 1284, and presents
many points of mystery. Lawrence Ducket was a goldsmith who, in some
kind of affray, wounded one Ralph Crepin in Westchepe. Immediately
after the deed, it would seem, probably running away from the crowd,
he took sanctuary in Bow Church tower. But certain friends of Crepin
getting into the tower at night hanged Lawrence from one of the windows
in such a manner that it seemed as if he had committed suicide. And
a Coroner’s jury holding inquest on the body brought in a verdict of
self-murder, whereupon the body was thrown into a cart, carried out
of the City, and buried in a ditch. Then, however, a boy came forward
and deposed that he was sleeping in the tower with Lawrence Ducket,
and that he witnessed from a corner where he hid himself—the murder by
certain persons whom he named. Arrests were made and more information
obtained, in consequence of which it was discovered that a woman had
contrived and designed this murder and sacrilege. She was burned alive.
Sixteen were hanged; and many others, persons of consideration, were
fined. A notable murder.

One remembers the quarrel between the Goldsmiths and the Tailors
fifteen years before this. Was it a renewal of that, or some other old
feud? That would seem the only way of accounting for so determined and
so daring a revenge.

Two things are remarkable in the year 1285. First, the great conduit of
Cheapside was set up in this year. It was a cistern of lead built round
with stone and castellated. The water had been brought from Paddington
fifty years before, but this was the first attempt to form a reservoir;
the leaden pipes originally used were changed for wooden pipes formed
by hollowing out trunks of trees. There were three sections: one of 510
rods from Paddington to “James’ Head”; one of 102 rods from “James’
Head on the hill” to the Mewsgate; from the Mewsgate to the Cross in
Cheape, 484 rods. For a long time this conduit formed the sole supply
of water brought in from without for the whole City excepting the foul
waters of the Fleet and the Walbrook. There were, however, many private
wells and springs in the City, and of water without the City there was
a plentiful supply.

The second noticeable act of the year was the order of the Archbishop
of Canterbury that all the Jews’ synagogues in the City should be
destroyed. The hatred of the Jews was, it will be seen, rapidly
becoming irresistible.

In 1285, also, thirteen years after the death of King Henry, there
comes to light what is either an act of revenge or a curious survival
of the spirit of discontent which placed the Londoners on the side of
the barons. A citizen named Thomas Piwilesdon (? By Willesden) who
in the time of the barons had been a great “doer, to stir the people
against King Henry,” was arrested on the charge of compassing new
disturbances. No doubt this was in connection with the efforts of the
craftsmen. The Custos arrested him and banished him, with fifty others,
out of the City for life.

What followed was, apparently, a concession to the merchants. The
foreign traders had formerly been compelled to lodge in the houses of
citizens and to sell their goods by procuration, through the London
merchants. Afterwards being allowed to take houses and use them for
storage and for sale, they were now charged with abusing the privilege
in various ways; they caused their goods to be weighed by their private
beams instead of the King’s beam; and they used false weights. Twenty
of them were arrested and taken to the Tower; their false weights were
publicly destroyed in West Chepe, and they themselves, after a long
imprisonment, were fined a thousand pounds.

The City had sunk into a dreadful condition by the bad government of
the mayors and sheriffs, the internal dissensions, and the general
anarchy. The streets were nightly infested with companies of robbers
and murderers; the crafts, especially those whose work overlapped each
other, were perpetually quarrelling; there was dissension everywhere;
the old order was breaking up. For a time it was well that London
should cease to elect her Mayor. Moreover, there were examples of this
despotic remedy under Henry III. The Sheriff of the year 1285 was
Gregory Rockesley, who was a goldsmith. With his friend Henry Waleys
he had taken turns in holding the chief office of the City. Waleys was
a vintner. Both were wealthy men and of good repute with the King. In
1275 Henry Waleys stepped from the Mayoralty of London into that of
Bordeaux. In 1274 Rockesley held no office in London, because he was
sent to Flanders on an embassy. The following table will illustrate the
position in the City of these two merchants.

  1264. Gregory Rockesley is one of the Sheriffs.
  1271. Sheriffs, Gregory Rockesley and Henry Waleys.
  1274. Mayor, Henry Waleys.
  1275. Mayor, Gregory Rockesley.
  1276. Mayor, Gregory Rockesley.
  1277. Mayor, Gregory Rockesley.
  1278. Mayor, Gregory Rockesley.
  1279. Mayor, Gregory Rockesley.
  1280. Mayor, Gregory Rockesley.
  1281. Mayor, Gregory Rockesley.
  1282. Mayor, Henry Waleys.
  1283. Mayor, Henry Waleys.
  1284. Mayor, Henry Waleys.
  1285. Mayor, Gregory Rockesley.
  1286-1297. No Mayor.
  1298. Mayor, Henry Waleys.

So that in thirteen years no other citizen was put forward as Mayor
except these two, and when the City after twelve years returned to its
old constitution, one of these two—probably the survivor—became once
more Mayor.

In the year 1285 Edward took over the City into his own hands in the
manner following. On the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul (June 29)
the Lord Treasurer summoned the Mayor to the Tower there to give an
account of his keeping of the peace. The summons was an infraction
upon the liberties of the City (see also vol. ii. part i. ch. iv.).
Gregory Rockesley, however, without formally refusing to obey, marched
in procession with the City Fathers as far as Barking Church. Here he
cast aside his gown, his collar, his rings, and dismissed his officers,
and entered the Tower as a private person there appearing before the
Justices. They asked him what he meant. He replied that as mayor he
was not bound to appear before any Court beyond the liberties of the
City. I think that we may assume that this question and this answer
had been arranged beforehand, because it was most unlikely that the
Treasurer was ignorant of the City’s Charters. Rockesley was allowed to
retire. Next day, he and the principal citizens were arrested and put
in prison. The King, “finding the City without a Mayor,” took it into
his own hands and appointed as Custos Sir Ralph Sandwich. After this
everybody was released and the Custos remained in charge.

The whole story shows previous arrangement. The only two men who seemed
possible for the post of Mayor were growing old; the office was more
onerous than they could well bear; the City grew daily more lawless;
deeds of violence were more rife; the quarrels of the craftsmen more
frequent; street fights more common; the arm of the law weaker. But
the King was strong, there was no doubt on that point. Long before his
accession Edward had proved to the citizens that he was strong and just
and inflexible. Let the King take over the City and keep possession
till the restoration of good order. Not by trampling on the Charters.
Let it be done by a legal quibble.

So it was all arranged, and Gregory Rockesley, being released from
prison, retired from office to the quiet management of his own affairs.
As we hear no more about him we may assume that he was probably dead
when the citizens returned to the election of their Mayor. And the King
finding the City without a mayor appointed a Custos in his own name.
One of the citizens, Aswy, Alderman of Chepe, was kept in prison a
little longer, for some other reason, which we are not able to learn.
The new Custos, it is evident, was a strong man. He not only knew how
to make laws but he enforced them. He would allow no foreigner to
wear any weapon, nor to be abroad after curfew; and since the late
disturbances took place chiefly by night, all people wandering about
the streets after dark were liable to be arrested and clapped into the
Tun of Cornhill. No vintners or victuallers were to keep their shops
open after curfew: and, since many lewd persons learned the art of
fencing as a help to their disorderly conduct, all schools of fencing
were closed: the Aldermen were enjoined to make a visitation of their
wards and to arrest rogues and bring them to punishment. As a practical
example, the Custos arrested fifty-eight persons and banished them from
the City. Then the hearts of honest men were gladdened. They had got a
just and strong King who had appointed a just and strong Custos. The
laws would be obeyed. As for the City liberties, they would doubtless
be restored when the City had purged herself and was ready to live a
cleanly and reputable life. Another important step was taken. It was
ordered, with the view of securing for the King an army of defence
in case of need, every man was to have arms and armour according to
his rank, and that the armour should be inspected twice a year; and,
further, for the better security of the City that every gate should be
guarded by six men and should be closed from sunset to sunrise.


  _Grove and Boulton._


Designed by Pietro Cavalini.]

This strong king, by another act of justice accomplished at the same
time, filled the souls of wrongdoers in high places with terror.
This was the punishment of the King’s Justiciars for the delays and
corruptions with which they had conducted their Courts. Twelve Judges
were found guilty and condemned in various penalties and fines. The
Chief Justice was stripped of all his property and banished. Another
was fined 32,000 marks, an enormous sum of money; the rest were fined
from one thousand to seven thousand marks.

Respect for the law, after a long period of lawlessness, was the
lesson which the nation had to learn. In London it was sternly taught
the citizens by the King’s Custos, Sir Ralph Sandwich. And first by
the example of the foreign merchants: for finding them justly charged
with short measure and false weight, he imprisoned them all in the
Tower, and fined them a thousand pounds. This punishment struck a
salutary terror into the heart of many an honest trader: quart pots,
for instance, were everywhere restored to their original dimensions
by the removal of the pitch which had raised up the bottom. Another
useful lesson was given when a rescue was attempted. The Sheriff was
haling a criminal to prison when three misguided citizens assaulted
him and forcibly released the man. They were promptly arrested, tried,
and sentenced to have their right hands struck off. It is a punishment
which one would not willingly see revived; at the same time, it may
be acknowledged that the spectacle of these unhappy stumps must have
reminded the citizens every day of the respect due to a magistrate.
It was an object lesson which continued till the death of the last
survivor of the three. And another lesson was taught them when some of
the principal citizens broke open the Tun prison and set the prisoners
free. They were themselves imprisoned and the City was fined 20,000

In the year 1295 there happened a thing happily most unusual in
the annals of the country—the deliberate venal treachery of a
knight esteemed honourable and loyal as he was already proved to be
courageous. There is an account of the case in Holinshed; Stow and
others briefly notice it; the fullest account, however, is that of
Bartholomew Cotton, quoted in the Appendix to the _Chronicles of Old
London_ (FitzThedmar):—

“In the same year (A.D. 1295) a certain knight, Thomas Turbevile by
name, who had been taken by the French at the siege of Rheims, and
detained in prison by the said King of France, came over to England
with traitorous designs, and said that he had escaped from prison of
the said King of France: whereupon, he was kindly received by our Lord
the King of England, and much honoured. But after he had remained some
little time in the Court of our Lord the King of England aforesaid, he
attempted to send a certain letter to the King of France: whereupon,
his messenger carried the same to our Lord the King of England and
gave him a full and open account of the treachery of his employer. The
traitor, suspecting this, took to flight, but was taken shortly after.
The tenor of his treasonable letter was as follows:—

The whole of the letter need not be quoted here. It proved the treason
of the man up to the hilt.

 “‘And know that the King is sending into Gascoigne twenty ships laden
 with wheat and oats, and with other provisions and a large amount of
 money: and Sir Edmund the King’s brother will go thither, and the
 Earle of Nichole, Sir Hugh le Despenser, the Earl of Warwyk, and many
 other good folks: and this you may tell to the high Lord. And know
 that we think we have enough to do against those of Scotland! and if
 those of Scotland rise against the King of England, the Welsh will
 rise also. And this I have well contrived, and Morgan has covenanted
 with me to that effect. Wherefore I counsel you forthwith to send
 great persons into Scotland: for if you can enter therein, you will
 have gained it for ever.’”

The said Thomas was seized on the Saturday next before the Feast of
Saint Michael, and taken to the Tower of London: and on the Saturday
next after the Feast of Saint Faith (October 6) he had his trial, and
departed in manner underwritten:—He came from the Tower, mounted on a
poor hack, in a coat of ray, and shod with white shoes, his head being
covered with a hood, and his feet tied beneath the horse’s belly, and
his hands tied before him: and around him were riding six torturers
attired in the form of the devil, one of whom held his rein, and the
hangman his halter, for the horse which bore him had them both upon
it: and in such a manner was he led from the Tower through London to
Westminster, and was condemned on the dais in the Great Hall there: and
Sir Roger Brabazun pronounced judgment on him, that he should be drawn
and hanged, and that he should hang so long as anything should be left
whole of him: and he was drawn on a fresh ox-hide from Westminster to
the Conduit of London, and then back to the gallows: and there is he
hung by a chain of iron, and will hang so long as anything of him may

In the year 1290 Edward lost his Queen, Eleanor of Castile, and to
show his grief for her death he erected crosses of a beautiful design
at all the stopping-places of the funeral procession on its way from
Nottingham to London. It may be remembered that one of the suggested
derivations of Charing Cross is “Chère reine,” in allusion to the cross
there. The present cross in the station courtyard is on the model of
the ancient one, though not exactly like it.

In the same year those remaining of the Jews were banished, their lands
and houses were seized; though they were suffered to carry with them
their portable property. The hardships endured by these unfortunate
people are spoken of elsewhere (see p. 9). The following simple story
of brutal murder is related by Holinshed (vol. ii.):—

 “A sort of the richest of them, being shipped with their treasure
 in a mightie tall ship which they had hired, when the same was under
 saile, and got downe the Thames towards the mouth of the river beyond
 Quinborowe, the maister mariner bethought him of a wile, and caused
 his men to cast anchor, and so rode at the same, till the ship by
 ebbing of the stream remained on the drie sands. The maister herewith
 entised the Jewes to walke out with him on land for recreation. And at
 length, when he understood the tide to be coming in, he got him backe
 to the ship, whither he was drawne up by a cord. The Jewes made not so
 much hast as he did, bicause they were not aware of the danger. But
 when they perceived how the matter stood, they cried to him for helpe;
 howbeit he told them, that they ought to crie rather unto Moses,
 by whose conduct their fathers had passed through the Red Sea, and
 therefore, if they would call to him for helpe, he was able inough to
 helpe them out of those raging floods, which now came in upon them;
 they cried indeed, but no succour appeared, and so they were swallowed
 up in the water. The maister returned with the ship, and told the King
 how he had used the matter, and had both thanks and reward, as some
 have written. But other affirme (and more trulie as should seem) that
 diverse of those mariners, which dealt so wickedlie against the Jewes,
 were hanged for their wicked practise, and so received a just reward
 of their fraudulent and mischeevous dealing.”

In the end the banishment of the Jews brought no alleviation to those
who wanted to borrow money. The Lombards and the Caursini proved as
flinty-hearted in the matter of interest as any Jew had been.

Edward granted but one Charter to the City. This was in 1298, when the
Mayor was restored to the City. It is simply a Charter of Confirmation.
The citizens are to have all their old liberties together with the
right of electing their Mayor and Sheriffs. The election of Henry
Waleys as the first of the new series showed that the preponderance
of power was still with the aristocratic class. Edward’s financial
embarrassments and his wars belong to the history of the country. As
regards the City, Edward borrowed money of the Italian Companies (see
p. 212); he created knights by the hundred; he searched the monasteries
and churches for treasure; he seized the lay fees of the clergy; he got
£2000 out of the City in recognition of his knighting the Mayor; and he
persuaded, or ordered, the Londoners to furnish him with three ships,
forty men mounted and equipped, and fifty arbalisters for the defence
of the southern coast.

After the King’s victorious campaign in Scotland, he was welcomed on
his return with a procession and pageant most magnificent. The houses
were hung high with scarlet cloth; the trades and crafts appeared, each
offering some device or “subtlety” showing its kind of work. Thus, the
fishmongers marched with four gilt sturgeons and four silver salmon on
horses; they also equipped forty-six knights in full armour, riding
horses “made like luces of the sea”; the knights were followed by St.
Magnus—his church is at the bottom of Fish Street—with a thousand


From Pinkerton, _Iconographia Scotica_.]

On August 10, 1305, Westminster witnessed a trial surpassed by few
in interest and importance—that of the patriot Sir William Wallace,
who had been captured in his Highland retreat by treachery, and had
been brought to London. Wallace was at this time not more than thirty
years of age: in the full vigour of manhood and of genius. He had
filled his short life with fights and forays. As a hero of romance,
the ideal patriot, all kinds of legends and stories have accumulated
round his name. All we know for certain about him is that he was at the
head of an army gathered from that part of the Lowlands lying north
of the Tay; that without the help of the Scottish earls or barons he
defeated the English at Stirling and drove them out of the country;
and though he was defeated at Falkirk he awakened in the hearts of the
Scots the spirit of independence: he made them a nation. On his
arrival in London the illustrious prisoner was taken to the house of
a private citizen, William De Leyre by name, who lived in the parish
of Allhallows the Great. It does not appear why he was not taken to
the Tower. Perhaps it was desired to attach as little importance as
possible in the case. “Great numbers,” however, according to Stow,
“both men and women came out to wonder upon him.... On the morrow,
being the eve of St. Bartholomew, he was brought on horseback to
Westminster, John Segrave and Geoffrey, knights, the Mayor, Sheriffs
and Aldermen of London and many others, both on horseback and on foot,
accompanying him: and in the Great Hall at Westminster he being placed
on the south bench, crowned with lawrel—for that he had said in time
past that he ought to bear a crown in that hall as it was commonly
reported—and being appeached as a traitor by Sir Peter Mallorie the
King’s Justice, he answered that he was never traitor to the King of
England: but for other things whereof he was accused”—what were those
other things?—“he confessed them.” What he pleaded was, in fact, that
he could be no traitor because he owed no allegiance to the King of
England. It is clear from this statement that the name and fame of
William Wallace were spread over the whole of England; and that the
man who had driven out the English and ravaged Northumberland and
defied the conqueror, was sent up to London as a captive fore-doomed to
death. The prentices ran and shouted; the women looked out of the upper
chambers—pity that a man so gallant, who rode as if to his wedding
instead of his death, should have to die the death of a traitor. As
for the manner of his death, it followed the usual ceremony: first he
was dragged at the heels of horses to the place of execution, the Elms
at Smithfield; he was placed on a hurdle, otherwise he would have been
dead long before reaching the place, for from Westminster Hall to the
Elms, Smithfield, is two miles at least. There were multitudes waiting
at Smithfield to see this gallant Scot done to death. First they hanged
him on a high gallows, but only for the ignominy of it, not to kill
him; then they took the rope from his neck, laid him down, took out his
bowels and performed other mutilations which one hopes were done when
the life was out of him. Then they cut up his body and distributed it
in parts: some to rejoice the hearts of the English on London Bridge,
at Newcastle, at Berwick: and of the Scots at Perth and Aberdeen. The
business was as barbarous as possible, but it was the fashion of the
time. Two hundred and fifty years later in the reign of Queen Elizabeth
the same punishment in all its details was inflicted upon Babington
and his friends. Three hundred and eighty years later almost the same
punishment was inflicted upon Monmouth’s adherents. The execution
itself, apart from the cruel manner of it, which belonged to the time,
is generally condemned as a blot upon the life and reign of the great
Edward. Perhaps, however, the history of the case may show some reason
for an act quite contrary in spirit to the King’s usual treatment of
the indomitable Scots. After the overtures of Balliol, the Scottish
lords swore homage to Edward. Wallace alone—a simple knight—refused
to recognise the surrender, called the people to arms, against the
wish of nobles and priests, drove the English out of Scotland and led
a foray into Northumberland. At the battle of Falkirk the Scots were
defeated and cut to pieces, Wallace himself escaping with difficulty.
That was in 1298. But the struggle was continued. For six years Edward
was occupied with other troubles. When, in 1304, he again invaded the
country, the Scottish lords laid down their arms and the conquest of
Scotland was accomplished without further bloodshed. A general amnesty
was extended to all. But the name of Wallace was excluded—“let him
submit to the grace of the King, if so it seemeth him good.” Wallace
would not submit: he retreated to the Highlands, where he was captured.

[Illustration: GREAT SEAL OF EDWARD I.]

In every age civilised war is governed by certain rules: one must play
the game according to these rules. One of them is that when the King
has accepted peace, there shall be peace. Wallace might be supposed
to have broken that rule. His country had submitted formally: he
alone stood out. Patriot he was, no doubt. So was Andreas Hofer; but
irregular warfare everywhere is treated as treason or rebellion. And
therefore the King, who might well have shown a magnanimous clemency,
was justified in his own eyes in putting Sir William Wallace to a
shameful end.

The opinion of the English people upon Wallace may be understood
from that of Matthew of Westminster, who pours a shower of abuse
upon his head. William Wallace is “an outcast from pity, a robber, a
sacrilegious man, an incendiary, a homicide, a man more cruel than
the cruelty of Herod, more insane than the fury of Nero.” He made men
and women in the North of England dance naked before him; he murdered
infants; burnt boys in schools “in great numbers,” and at last ran away
and deserted his people.

It remains to be added that Wallace’s head was the first of many which
decorated London Bridge.

The remarkable robbery of the King’s Treasury by Podelicote took place
in 1305.

In the same year the King offered an excellent example of obedience to
the laws by sending his son, Prince Edward, to prison for riotously
breaking into the park of Walter Langton, Bishop of Chester, and at the
same time banished from the realm the Prince’s companion and unworthy
friend, Piers Gaveston.

On July 7, 1307, King Edward died while on his way to carry out his vow
of vengeance against Bruce.



The least worthy, or the most worthless, of all the English sovereigns,
was the first who sat upon the sacred stone of Scone, brought into
England by Edward I. The coronation was held on February 25, 1308, the
Queen being crowned with the King. The Mayor and Aldermen took part in
the function and in the banquet afterwards.

[Illustration: HEAD OF EDWARD II.

From effigy in Gloucester Cathedral.]

The history of this miserable reign chiefly consists of the troubles
caused by the King’s favourites. London, however, played a large part
in the events arising out of their quarrels. In the autumn of 1308,
the first year of the King’s reign, the Barons succeeded in getting
Piers Gaveston banished. In 1309, however, he was back again and was
made Earl of Cornwall, “to the great detriment of the realm” (_French
Chronicle_). The indignation of the Barons waxed daily greater against
the favourite, who lavished the wealth that was heaped upon him in
ostentation and display. We must remember the strong feeling of
the time that rank should be marked by such display as we now call
ostentation. An Earl, for instance, was expected to carry about with
him a great retinue; to wear costly armour; to give his followers a
rich livery; and to keep up a noble house. But Piers Gaveston, whatever
rank the King had conferred upon him, was a foreigner and an upstart,
the son of a simple Gascon knight. That he was enabled to exhibit the
display which befitted an ancient House made the nobles recall his
origin. Besides, the man had a ready wit and a keen tongue. He gave
every one of the Barons a nickname. Lancaster was the “old hog” or the
“churl”; Gloucester the “cuckold’s bird” or the “Bastard”; Lincoln was
“Bursten bellie”; Pembroke was “Joseph the Jew”; Warwick was the “Black
hound of Arderne”; and so with the others.

There had been trouble about this favourite in the late King’s reign.
In 1305, as we have seen, Edward put his son in prison for riotously
breaking into a Bishop’s park, “and because the Prince had done
this deed by the procurement of a lewd and wanton person, one Piers
Gaveston, an Esquire of Gascoine; the King banished him the nation,
lest the Prince, who delighted much in his company, might, by his evil
and wanton counsel, fall to evill and naughtie rule.” (Holinshed.)

The first thing the new King did, then, was to recall his favourite
and to create him Earl of Cornwall. He also married him to his niece,
the daughter of his sister Joan, and of Gilbert de Clare, Earl of

The favourite repaid these favours as might be expected. He furnished
the Court, Holinshed says, with “companies of jesters, ruffians,
flattering parasites, musicians, and other vile and naughtie ribalds,
that the King might spend both daies and nights in jesting, plaieng,
blanketing, and other filthie and dishonourable exercises.”

How the Barons remonstrated with the King; how they took Gaveston
prisoner under promise to deliver him to the King; how they broke that
promise and beheaded him, is to be read in every history of England.

It is noted by Sharpe as one reason for the hatred which the citizens
of London as well as the Barons felt towards this and the following
favourites, that they were always soliciting small favours from the
citizens for their own friends. “At one time,” he writes, “it was Piers
Gaveston who wanted a post for his valet: at another time Hugh le
Despenser asked for the Small Beam for a friend.”

It was before this, however, that the Barons appointed “ordainers” to
draw up ordinances for the better government of the City. When their
work was completed it was laid before a Parliament which assembled at
the Black Friars, and here it received sanction. The ordinances were
afterwards proclaimed at St. Paul’s Cross.

In March 1311 the City gave the King the sum of 1000 marks. The
Mayor, Richard de Refham, who belonged to the popular party, caused
an examination of all the charters and documents concerning the City
liberties. He then read them publicly, and asked the people if they
were resolved upon the maintenance of their liberties. He also took
steps to clear the streets of the night-walkers and “roreres” who for
a long time had committed murders and robberies unchecked. The entries
in Riley’s _Memorials of London_ under the year 1311 show the activity
of this Mayor’s reign. He would tolerate no abusive language in his
Court; he would not allow trades which were a nuisance to be carried
on in the street, such as the skinning of dead horses, the dressing
of fur, etc.; he arrested and committed to prison a great number of
rogues, criminals, and strumpets. He strengthened and guarded the
Gates, keeping a night watch of sixteen men for every one. Perhaps his
activity made enemies, for he was deposed before his term of office
had expired. The _French Chronicle_, however, says nothing about any

In November 1312 a son was born to the King, named Edward of Windsor.
The following account shows how such an event was received and
celebrated by the loyal citizens:—

The Queen herself sent a letter to the citizens.

 “Isabel by the grace of God, Queen of England, Lady of Ireland, and
 Duchess of Aquitaine, to our well-beloved, the Mayor, and Aldermen,
 and the Commonalty of London, greeting. Forasmuch as we believe that
 you would willingly hear good tidings of us, we do make known to you
 that our Lord in His grace has delivered us of a son, on the 13th day
 of November with safety to ourselves, and to the child. May our Lord
 preserve you. Given at Wyndesore, on the day above-named.”

“Of this letter the bearer was John de Phalaise, tailor to the Queen:
and he came on the Tuesday next after the feast of St. Martin (November
11) in the 6th year of the reign of King Edward, son of King Edward.
But as the news had been brought by Robert Oliver on the Monday before,
the Mayor and Aldermen, and great part of the Commonalty, assembled in
the Guildhall at time of Vespers and carolled, and showed great joy
thereat; and so passed through the City, with glare of torches, and
with trumpets and other ministrelsies.

And on the Tuesday next, early in the morning, cry was made throughout
all the City to the effect that there was to be no work, labour, or
business in shop, on that day; but that every one was to apparel
himself in the most becoming manner that he could, and come to the
Guildhall at the hour for Prime: ready to go with the Mayor, together
with other good folks, to St. Paul’s there to make praise and offering,
to the honour of God, who had shown them such favour on earth, and to
show respect for this child that had been born. And after this, they
were to return all together to the Guildhall, to do whatever might be

On the Wednesday following, the Mayor, by assent of the Aldermen, and
of others of the Commonalty, gave to the said John de Phalaise, bearer
of the letter aforesaid, ten pounds sterling and a cup of silver, four
marks in weight. And on the morrow, this same John de Phalaise sent
back the present aforesaid because it seemed to him too little.

On the Monday following, the Mayor was richly costumed, and the
Aldermen arrayed in like suits of robes; and the drapers, mercers,
and vintners were in costume; and they rode on horseback thence
to Westminster, and there made offering, and then returned to the
Guildhall, which was excellently well tapestried and dressed out, and
there they dined. And after dinner they went in carols throughout the
City all the rest of the day, and great part of the night. And on the
same day the Conduit in Chepe ran with nothing but wine for all those
who chose to drink there. And at the Cross just by the Church of St.
Michael in West Chepe, there was a pavilion extended in the middle of
the street, in which was set a tun of wine, for all passers-by to drink
of, who might wish for any.”

In 1313 an important case was argued before the Royal Council sitting
at the White Friars. The King had issued orders for a tallage which the
City refused to pay on various grounds, but especially on the ground
that their charters granted them exemption from tallage. By lending
the King £1000 they obtained a postponement of the question till the
meeting of Parliament. When Parliament did meet, eighteen months later,
they obtained a further postponement by another loan of £400, part of
which was devoted to the equipment of 120 men for the Scottish war.

In the years 1314 and 1315 there was a dearth, and many died of hunger.
“There followed this famine”—Stow’s _Chronicle_—“a grievous mortalitie
of people, so that the quicke might unneath bury the dead. The Beastes
and Cattell also by the corrupt Grasse whereof they fedde, dyed,
whereby it came to passe that the eating of flesh was suspected of all
men, for flesh of Beastes not corrupted was hard to finde. Horseflesh
was counted great delicates; the poore stole fatte Dogges to eate;
some (as it was sayde) compelled through famine, in hidde places, did
eate the fleshe of their owne children, some stole others which they
devoured. Thieves that were in prisons, did plucke in peeces those that
were newly brought amongst them and greedily devoured them half alive.”
In 1315 there was also a storm which damaged Holborn Bridge and Fleet

In the years 1316, 1317, and 1318, under the Mayoralty of John de
Wengrave, Recorder and Coroner of the City and Alderman of Chepe, there
were dissensions in the City.

The _French Chronicle_ lays the blame upon the Mayor, who, he says,
“did much evil in his time to the Commons.” They were drawing up for
submission to the King certain Articles for the more regular Government
of the City. As John de Wengrave owed his third election to the King
it was not unreasonable to suppose that he was acting in the interest
of the King rather than that of the citizens. However, the articles
were confirmed by the King, who got £1000 in return. The Charter
touches on a great many points, most of them fruitful in quarrels and
disturbances. The analysis of the Charter given in the _Liber Albus_ is
as follows:—

 “That the Mayor and Sheriffs of London shall be chosen by the
 citizens of that City according to the tenor of their Charters, and in
 no other manner.

 That the Mayor of the said City shall not remain in office as such
 Mayor beyond one year at a time.

 Also, that no Sheriff of the City shall have more than two clerks and
 two serjeants by reason of his office, and those, persons for whom he
 shall be willing to answer.

 Also, that the Mayor of the said City, so long as he shall be Mayor,
 shall hold no other office pertaining unto that City than such office
 of Mayor.

 Also, that the Mayor shall not demand to have brought before him, or
 hold, any plea that belongs to the Sheriff’s Court.

 Also, that the Aldermen of that City shall be removable yearly, and
 be removed, on the day of Saint Gregory (12th March), and in the year
 following shall not be re-elected, but others (shall be elected) in
 their stead, etc.

 Also, that the tallages, after being assessed by the men of the
 Wards thereunto deputed, shall not be augmented or increased by the
 Mayor and Aldermen, except with the common consent of the Mayor and

 Also, that the monies arising from such tallages shall be in the
 keeping of four reputable men, commoners of the said City.

 Also, that no stranger shall be admitted to the freedom of the said
 City, except at the Hustings.

 Also, that an inhabitant, and especially an Englishman by birth,
 a trader of a certain mystery or craft, shall not be admitted to
 the freedom of the City aforesaid except upon the security of six
 reputable men, of such certain mystery or craft, etc.

 Also, that enquiry shall be made each year, if any persons enjoying
 the freedom of the City have traded with the property of others who
 are not of the freedom, avowing that such goods are their own. And
 those who shall be lawfully convicted thereof, shall lose the freedom.

 Also, that all who wish to enjoy the freedom of the City shall be in
 Lot and Scot, and partakers of all burdens for (maintaining) the state
 of the City, etc.

 Also, that all persons of the freedom of the City, and dwelling
 without the said City, who by themselves and their servants follow a
 trade within the City, shall be in Lot and Scot with the commoners of
 the same City, etc., or shall be removed from the freedom thereof.

 Also, that the Common Seal shall be in the keeping of two Aldermen and
 two commoners, by the commonalty to be chosen, and that the same shall
 not be denied to poor or to rich.

 Also, that the giving of judgment in the Courts of the City, after
 verdict (given), shall not be deferred, unless some difficulty
 intervene. And if such difficulty shall intervene, such verdicts shall
 not stand over beyond the third Court.

 Also, that the weights and beams for weighing merchandize as between
 merchant and merchant, the issues of which belong to the commonalty,
 shall be in the keeping of reputable men, by the commonalty to be

 Also, that the Sheriffs may entrust the charge of collecting toll and
 other customs into their ferm pertaining, as also other public duties
 unto themselves belonging, to sufficient men for whom they shall be
 willing to answer.

 Also, that merchants who are not of the freedom, etc., shall not sell
 wines or other wares by retail within the said City.

 Also, that in future there shall be no brokers of any merchandize in
 the said City, but those who have been chosen thereto by the traders
 of their mysteries; and that they shall be sworn before the Mayor.

 Also, that common hostelers, although they may not be of the freedom
 of the same City, shall be partakers of all (burdens) unto the said
 City pertaining, etc. Saving always, that the merchants of Gascoigne
 and other strangers may dwell and keep hostels for each other in the
 said City, in such manner as they have heretofore been wont to do.

 Also, that the keeping of the Bridge shall be entrusted unto two
 reputable men of the City aforesaid, other than the Aldermen thereof.

 Also, that no Serjeant of the Chamber at the Guildhall shall take a
 fee of the commonalty, etc., or do execution, unless he be one elected
 by the commonalty thereto.

 Also, that the Chamberlain, Common Clerk (and) Common Serjeant of the
 City, shall be chosen and removed by the commonalty, at the will of
 the same commonalty.

 Also, that the Mayor, Recorder, and the Chamberlain and Common Clerk
 aforesaid, shall be content with their fees, from of old appointed and

 Also, that the property of the Aldermen of the said City shall be
 taxed in aids, tallages, and contributions, by the men of the Wards
 in which such Aldermen shall be residing, in the same manner as the
 property of the other citizens of the same Wards.

 Also, that the Aldermen and commonalty, for the necessities and
 advantage of the said City, may among themselves assess and levy
 tallages upon their property within the said City, rents as well as
 other things.” (Riley’s _Trans._ pp. 127-129.)

According to this Charter the only way to the civic franchise was by
becoming a member of the civic guilds: “That no inhabitant, of any
mystery or trade, be admitted into the freedom of the City, unless by
surety of six honest and sufficient men of the mystery or trade that he
shall be of”—a fact which proves the importance of the guilds. “At this
time,” says the _French Chronicle_, “many of the people of the trades
of London were arrayed in Livery and a good time was about to begin.”
But few of the trades were as yet incorporated.

The history of this unhappy reign, as concerns the City, is much
occupied with charges, claims, and attacks upon the rights of the
citizens of London. In these, the King was advised or led, by men who
understood how to evade and to ignore the law. Edward II., like his
predecessor Henry III., and his successor Richard II., was always in
want of money and never without advisers to show him how to extort
money from the City, whose wealth they believed to be inexhaustible.
Among the last of these attempts was one made in the year 1321 by means
of an Iter. The business is passed over by Maitland, Holinshed, and by
the _French Chronicle_. Its history is related by R. R. Sharpe (_London
and the Kingdom_). He says:

 “Its professed object was to examine into unlawful colligations,
 confederations, and conventions by oaths, which were known (or
 supposed) to have been formed in the City. The annoyance caused by
 this Iter, the general stoppage of trade and commerce, the hindrance
 of municipal business, is realised when we consider that for six
 months not only the Mayor, Sheriffs, and Aldermen for the time
 being, but every one who had filled any office in the City since the
 holding of the last Iter—a period of nearly half a century—as well
 as twelve representatives from each ward, were called upon to be in
 constant attendance. All charters were to be produced, and persons who
 had grievances of any kind were invited to appear. Great commotion
 prevailed among the citizens upon receiving the King’s writ, and they
 at once addressed themselves to examining the procedure followed at
 former Iters.” ...

 “The opening of the Iter did not augur well for the City. Fault
 was found at the outset, by Geoffrey le Scrop, the King’s
 Sergeant-pleader, because the Sheriffs had not attended so promptly as
 they should have done. The excuse, that they had only acted according
 to custom in waiting for the grant of a safe-conduct, was held
 unsatisfactory, and nothing would please him but that the City should
 be at once taken into the King’s hand.

 Again, when the citizens claimed to record their liberties and customs
 by word of mouth without being compelled to reduce them into writing,
 as the justices had ordered, the only reply they got was that they
 did so at their own peril. Three days were consumed in preliminary
 discussion of points of etiquette and questions of minor importance.

 On the fourth day the Mayor and citizens put in their claim of
 liberties, which they supported in various charters. The justiciars
 desired answers on three points, which were duly made, and matters
 seemed to be getting forward when there arrived orders from the King
 that the justiciars should inquire as to the ancient right of the
 Aldermen to record their liberties orally in the King’s Courts. Having
 heard what the citizens had to say on this point, the justiciars were
 instructed to withhold their judgment; and this and other questions
 touching the liberties of the City were to be postponed for future

 On the ninth day of the Iter, a long schedule, containing over a
 hundred articles upon which the Crown desired information, was
 delivered to each ward of the City. Days and weeks were consumed in
 considering various presentments, besides private suits and pleas of
 the Crown. Suits were determined in the Great Hall of the Tower facing
 the Thames, whilst pleas of the Crown were heard in the Lesser Hall,
 beneath the eastern tower. The justiciars occasionally protracted
 their sittings till dusk, much to the disgust of the citizens, whose
 business was necessarily at a stand-still, and as yet no indictments
 had been made. These were to come.”

First on a pretext of dilatory attendance the Sheriffs were reproved
and the City taken into the King’s hands; then, when the citizens put
in their claims and pleaded their rights, everything was disputed,
discussed, and deferred. The Mayor was deposed, and one Richard de
Kendole took his place as the King’s Commissioner; indictments were
issued against certain leading citizens on one pretext or another; and
after five weary months the Iter was brought to an abrupt conclusion,
having effected nothing. The reason of this was the rebellion of the
Earl of Hereford, which made it dangerous to exasperate the citizens
too much. The King’s Commissioner retired and a new Mayor was elected.

The Earl of Hereford wrote a letter to the City asking for an
interview. The Mayor, Hamo de Chigwell, a diplomatist of a high order,
managed so as to keep on terms both with the King and the Lords. He
promised that he would not aid the Spensers nor would he oppose the
Lords: the City, in a word, proclaimed neutrality. The Mayor preserved
order by a patrol of a thousand men. The events which followed
belong to the history of England; London played her part: she sent a
contingent with the King to punish Sir Bartholomew de Badlesmere for
an insult offered to the Queen; she gave the king 500 archers to fight
at Boroughbridge, when the Earl of Lancaster was taken prisoner. After
taking part in the defeat of Lancaster the people of London set him
up as a Saint: they declared that miracles were wrought at his tomb.
Edward tried to force a “Charter of Service” binding the Londoners to
go out with him to war, but the City stood firm: Edward’s time was
nearly completed. The Queen came over with the avowed intention of
banishing the Spensers. The King fled from London, and London rose in
open revolt. Edward, before leaving, placed the town in the hands of
Sir John de Weston, gave the custody of the City to Walter Stapleton,
Bishop of Exeter, and then set out for the western part of the kingdom,
for the defence of his favourites, and, as it turned out, to meet his
death. The determination with which the Prince constantly stood by his
favourites argues obstinacy at least as a quality which might have been
turned to better purpose.

Hamo de Chigwell, who was a fishmonger, seems to have led one party
and Nicholas Farringdon, a goldsmith, another; but the King appears
to have set up and deposed both in turn and with impartiality. In
1326, when the Queen was in Flanders and her lands were seized, Hamo
de Chigwell was Mayor. The streets of London were every day the scene
of rioting and fighting; the trades fought with each other; the
partisans of the Queen fought with the partisans of the King. When the
Queen came over bringing her son with her she sent a letter to London
with a proclamation denouncing the Spensers. This proclamation amid
the cheers of the people was affixed to the Cross in Chepe. Hamo de
Chigwell forsook his post and fled to the Black Friars for safety.
Hither came the commons and forced him to proclaim the enemies of the
King and Queen and their son. And they showed that they meant what
they said by seizing one William Marshall, an adherent of the Spensers,
and murdering him. It is a curious story of wild justice. The City
was for some time entirely in the hands of the common people, who
robbed and murdered all suspected of being favourable to the King and
the Spensers. The events are thus graphically related by the _French

“At this time, at Saint Michael, Lady Isabelle, the Queen, and Sir
Edward, her son, sent their letters to the commons of London, to the
effect that they should assist in destroying the enemies of the land:
but received no answer in return, as to their wishes thereon, through
fear of the King. Wherefore a letter was sent to London by the Queen
and her son, and was fixed at daybreak upon the Cross in Chepe, and a
copy of the letter on the windows elsewhere, upon Thursday, that is
to say, the Feast of Saint Dionis (October 9), to the effect that the
commons should be aiding with all their power in destroying the enemies
of the land, and Hugh le Despenser in especial, for the common profit
of all the realm: and that the commons should send them information as
to their wishes thereon. Wherefore the commonalty proceeded to wait
upon the Mayor and other great men of the City at the Friars Preachers
in London, upon the Wednesday before the Feast of Saint Luke (October
18), which then fell on a Saturday: so much so, that the Mayor, crying
mercy with clasped hands, went to the Guildhall and granted the commons
their demand, and cry was accordingly made in Chepe, that the enemies
to the King, and the Queen, and their son, should all quit the City
upon such peril as might ensue. It happened also on the same day, at
the hour of noon, that some persons had recourse to arms, and seized
one John le Marchal, a burgess of the City, in his own house near
Walbrok, who was held as an enemy to the City and a spy of Sir Hugh
le Despenser; and he was brought into Chepe and there despoiled and
beheaded. Just after this, upon the same day and at the same hour,
there came one Sir Walter de Stapelton, the then Bishop of Exestre
and Treasurer to the King the year before, riding towards his hostel
in Eldedeaneslane, to dine there; and just then he was proclaimed a
traitor; upon hearing of which, he took to flight and rode towards
Saint Paul’s Church, where he was met, and instantly dragged from his
horse and carried into Chepe; and there he was despoiled, and his head
cut off. Also, one of his esquires, who was a vigorous man, William
Walle by name, took to flight, but was seized at London Bridge, brought
back into Chepe and beheaded; while John de Padington, another, who
was warden of the manor of the said Bishop, without Temple Bar, and
was held in bad repute, was beheaded the same day in Chepe. Upon the
same day, towards Vespers, came the choir of Saint Paul’s and took
the headless body of the said Bishop, and carried it to Saint Paul’s
Church: where they were given to understand that he had died under
sentence: upon which, the body was carried to the church of Saint
Clement without Temple Bar. But the people of that church put it out of
the building: whereupon certain women and persons in the most abject
poverty took the body, which would have been quite naked, had not
one woman given a piece of old cloth to cover the middle, and buried
it in a place apart without making a grave, and his esquire near him
all naked, and without any office of priest or clerk: and this spot
is called ‘the Lawless Church.’ The same night there was a burgess
robbed, John de Charltone by name. Also, on the Thursday following, the
Manors of Fynesbury and of Yvilane, which belonged to Master Robert
Baldok, the King’s Chancellor, were despoiled of the wines and of all
things that were therein, and many other robberies were committed in
the City. Also, upon the same day, the commons of London were armed
and assembled at the Lede Hall on Cornhille, and the Constable of the
Tower there agreed with the commons that he would deliver unto them
Sir John de Eltham, the King’s son; as also, the children of Sir Roger
Mortimer, Sir Moriz de Berklee, Sir Bartholomew de Burghasche, and the
other persons who had been imprisoned in the Tower, by reason of the
dissensions for which Sir Thomas de Lancaster and other great men had
been put to death: those who were released being sworn unto the commons
that they would live and die with them in that cause, and that they
would maintain the well being of the City and the peace thereof. Also,
there were sworn and received into the protection of the City, the Dean
of Saint Paul’s, the Official of Canterbury, the Dean of the Arches,
the Abbots of Westminster and of Stratford, and all the religious, and
all the justices and clerks, to do such watch and ward as unto them
belonged to do. At the same time, upon the Vigil of Saint Luke (October
18) the tablet which Saint Thomas de Lancastre had painted and hung up
in the church of Saint Paul was replaced upon the pillar: which tablet
had been removed from the pillar by the rigorous command of the King’s
writ. At the same time, the Friars Preachers took to flight, because
they feared that they should be maltreated and annihilated: seeing
that the commonalty entertained great enmity against them by reason of
their haughty carriage, they not behaving themselves as friars ought to
behave. At this time, it was everywhere the common talk that if Stephen
de Segrave, Bishop of London, had been found, he would have been put to
the sword with the others who were beheaded: as well as some Justiciars
and others, who betook themselves elsewhere in concealment so that they
could not be found.”


  _G. W. Wilson & Co._


The condition of London during the later years of Edward II. was
miserable. There was no authority: the King deposed one Mayor and set
up another; the crafts quarrelled and fought with each other; the
popular sympathies were with Queen Isabella: we have seen how these
sympathies ended with robbery and murder; the Black Friars who were
thought to favour the King had to fly for their lives.

On the 15th of November 1326 the Queen sent the Bishop of Winchester
into the City. He met the Aldermen at Guildhall, received the freedom
of the City, swore to maintain its franchise and then presented a
letter from the Queen restoring to the citizens the right of electing
their Mayor—a right withheld since the Iter of 1321. They showed
their sense of obligation by electing two citizens, named Richard de
Betoyne and John Gisors, who had been active in assisting the escape of
Mortimer from the Tower in 1322.

Mortimer himself, with the Archbishop of Canterbury and a large
following, repaired to the Guildhall early in the year 1327, and there
swore to maintain the liberties of the City. A few days later the
unhappy Edward was brutally murdered.



[Illustration: EDWARD III. (1312-1377)

From a print in the British Museum.]

The letter from the Queen in November 1326; the visit of Mortimer in
1327 and his oath taken before the Mayor and Chamberlain; and the
first acts of the new reign—not of the new King, who was not yet of
age,—all together prove the importance of the City in the minds of the
new rulers. For the first acts were the grants of three simultaneous

The _Liber Albus_ contains a brief synopsis of the contents of the
first of these charters, which Maitland rightly calls golden. It is
dated 6th March 1327:—

 “That the citizens of London shall have their liberties according
 to the form of the Great Charter, etc.; and that impediments of
 usurpation upon them in that behalf made shall be repealed and

 Also, that the Mayor of London for the time being shall be one of the
 Justiciars for (the delivery of) the Gaol of Newgate.

 Also, that the citizens of London shall have Infangthef, and
 Outfangthef, and the chattels of all felons who shall be adjudged by
 them as such within the liberties of the City aforesaid.

 Also, that whereas the citizens of London had been charged by the
 Sheriffwick of London and Middlesex in the sum of four hundred pounds
 into the Exchequer of his lordship the King, the said citizens shall
 in future have one hundred pounds thereof remitted.

 Also, that the citizens of London may devise their tenements within
 the liberties as well in mortmain as in any other way.

 That the Sheriffs of London, so often as it shall happen that they are
 amerced for any offence, shall be amerced according to the extent of
 such offence, in the same manner as the other Sheriffs of the realm.

 Also, that for the escape of thieves the Sheriffs of London shall on
 no account be charged or amerced otherwise than other Sheriffs, on
 this side Trent; who for such escapes are amerced, it is said, in the
 sum of one hundred shillings.

 Also, that the citizens of London shall not be charged otherwise than
 as of old they have been wont to be charged, for the custody of those
 who flee to churches for immunity, etc.

 Also that the citizens of London may remove and seize all Kidels in
 the waters of Thames and Medewaie, and shall have the punishments
 therefore unto us pertaining.

 Also, that foreign merchants coming into England shall sell their
 merchandise within forty days after their arrival, and shall lodge at
 the tables of the free hosts of the City.

 Also, that neither the Steward or the Marshal nor the Clerk of the
 Market shall sit within the liberties of the City, or exercise any
 office there.

 Also, that the Mayor for the time being shall exercise the office of
 Escheator within the City aforesaid.

 Also, that the citizens of London shall not be compelled to go or to
 send to war beyond the City aforesaid.

 Also, that the Constable of the Tower of London shall not make prises,
 by land or by water, of provisions or of any other things whatsoever.

 Also, that the citizens of London shall have wardens of the number
 of their fellow-citizens to hold pleas in all good fairs of England,
 pleas of land and pleas of the Crown excepted.

 Also, that the Sheriffs for the time being shall not be compelled to
 make oath at our Exchequer, except at the rendering of their accounts.

 Also, that the citizens shall have all their liberties and
 free customs, as from of old they were wont to enjoy the same,
 notwithstanding that the said citizens at the Iter of Henry de
 Stantone and his associates, etc., were challenged as to the same.

 Also, that one writ shall suffice in the Exchequer, and in every place
 of his lordship the King, for the allowance of their charters.

 Also, that no summons, attachment, or execution shall be made within
 the liberties of the City by any officer of his lordship the King,
 with writ or without writ, but only by the officers of the said (City).

 Also, that the Sheriffs of London shall have wholly the forfeitures
 of victuals, and of other articles and merchandise, according to the
 tenor of the Charters, etc.

 Also, that the citizens of London in future shall at their Iters, be
 dealt with according to the same laws by which they were dealt with at
 the Iters holden in the times of their lordships John and Henry, late
 Kings of England, and other their progenitors.

 Also, that nothing in the Iter aforesaid done or attempted against
 the liberties and free customs of the citizens, shall act to their
 prejudice or prevent them from being dealt with as from of old.

 Also, that the citizens of London, in aids, grants, and contributions,
 shall be taxed and shall contribute with the commonalty of the realm,
 like men of the counties and not like men of the cities and boroughs;
 and that they shall be quit of all other tallages.

 Also, that the liberties of the City of London shall not be taken
 into the hand of his lordship the King for any personal trespass or
 personal judgment of any officer of the said City; and that no Warden
 shall in the same on such pretext be appointed.

 Also, that no officer of his lordship the King shall make any prise
 within the City aforesaid, or without, of the goods of citizens
 against their will, unless he shall immediately make due payment for
 the same.

 Also, that no prise shall be made of the wines of the said citizens by
 any servant (of ourselves) or of our heirs, or of any other person,
 against their will; that is to say, (prisage) of one tun before the
 mast and of one tun behind the mast.

 Also, that no officer or purveyor of the King or of his heirs shall
 trade, by himself or by others, within the said City or without, in
 anything as to which their offices are concerned.

 Also, that the lands lying without the City of such citizens of London
 as have been, or shall hereafter be, officers of the City aforesaid,
 shall be held liable for keeping the said City harmless, etc., as to
 matters that concern their offices, in the same way as their tenements
 within the same City.

 Also, that no market shall in future be held within seven miles in
 circuit of the City aforesaid.

 Also, that all Inquisitions to be taken by the Justiciars and other
 officers of the King as to men of the said City shall be taken at
 Saint Martin’s le Grand, and not elsewhere, except inquisitions taken
 at Iters at the Tower and for delivery of the Gaol of Newgate.

 Also, that no citizen shall be impleaded or troubled at the Exchequer
 or elsewhere by bill; except as to those matters which concern his
 lordship the King or his heirs.

 Also, that the citizens of London shall have all their liberties and
 free customs whole and unimpaired, as freely as they ever had the same
 (the Statute for merchants, to the injury of the liberties of the
 City aforesaid, in the Parliament at York in the ninth year of Edward
 the Third enacted to the contrary notwithstanding), etc.” (Riley’s
 _Trans._ pp. 129-132.)

It will be observed that this charter is not only a confirmation of
all the ancient Privileges and Liberties, but it creates new ones. (1)
The Mayor was appointed one of the Judges of Oyer and Terminer for the
trials of criminals in Newgate; (2) the citizens were to have the right
of Infang-thefe and Outfang-thefe, _i.e._ the right of trying every
thief or robber taken within the City, and the right of bringing back
to the City for trial every citizen apprehended elsewhere. (3) A right
to the goods and chattels of all felons condemned within the City. (4)
The remission of £100 a year on the rent of Middlesex. (5) The right
of devising real property. (6) The Sheriffs of London to be amerced
no otherwise than their brothers south of the Thames. (7) All Foreign
Merchants to sell their goods within forty days. (8) The citizens not
chargeable with the custody of those who take Sanctuary. (9) The King’s
Marshal, Steward, or Clerk of the Household to have no authority in the
City. (10) The Mayor to be the King’s escheator of felons’ goods. (11)
The citizens who resort to country fairs to carry with them a Court
of Pie Powder. (12) The citizens to be free from tallages, other than
those assessed upon other places. (13) The City liberties not to be
seized on account of the personal offences of any magistrate. (14) The
King’s Purveyor to have no right to fix the price of anything. (15) And
no market to be held within seven miles of the City.

The charter looked as if the citizens had been simply invited to take
what they pleased in the way of liberties.

By another charter Southwark, _i.e._ the King’s Manor, not the whole
of Southwark, was granted as a part of the City. By a third a general
pardon for all late offences was also granted.

Maitland speaks of a dangerous insurrection of certain trades and
of their parading the streets armed, killing many. The so-called
“insurrection” seems to have been nothing more than a continuation of
the late lawless brawls; the people had tasted the joy of fighting in
the streets and wanted to continue that amusement. The King addressed
a letter to the Mayor calling upon him to keep better order. A number
of arrests were made and a good many persons were executed; but the
riotous condition of the City continued. The chief cause of trouble was
the continual quarrelling between the trades. Thus at this very time,
viz. the first years of Edward III., the Mayor arranged a dispute,
which led to free fighting in the streets, between the Saddlers of the
one part and the Joiners, Painters, and Loriners of the other part.

“Be it remembered, that whereas a certain affray lately took place
between the men of the trade of the saddlers of the City of London,
on the one part, and the men of the trades of the joiners, painters,
and loriners, as well in copper as in iron, of the same City, on the
other part, by reason of a certain rancour and dissension which had
lately arisen between them, namely, on Thursday, the Feast of our
Lord’s Ascension (May 20) last past: upon which day, certain of them,
on either side, strongly provided with an armed force, exchanged blows
and manfully began to fight, as well in Chepe as in the street of
Crepelgate, and elsewhere in the same City; on which occasion certain
among them were wickedly, and against the peace of our Lord the King,
killed, and many others mortally wounded; by reason of which dissension
and exchange of blows, the greater part of the City was in alarm, to
the great disgrace and scandal of the whole City, and the manifest
peril thereof; which dissension and exchange of blows became so serious
and so outrageous as hardly to be appeased through the intervention
of the Mayor, Sheriffs, and officers of the City; such contention
being however at last, so well as it might be, allayed by the Mayor,
Sheriffs, and other officers of the City, the said Mayor and Sheriffs
appointed a day for the men of the trades aforesaid to appear before
them at the Guildhall, namely, the Friday following, being the morrow
of Our Lord’s Ascension, to the end that they might set forth their
reasons on either side.

Upon the said day, there came accordingly to the Guildhall the men
of the said trades, and, in presence of the Mayor, Sheriffs, and
Aldermen, did set forth their grievances in writing, Whereupon, a
certain Petition was presented to the Mayor by the joiners, painters,
and loriners. The causes of quarrel are too long to be detailed here.
Suffice it to say that all these trades attempted then what they
attempt still, and that they cried out on each other for wickedness.”

The reception of the Lady Philippa of Hainault, who came over to be
married to the young King, was made an occasion for the display and
magnificence which the City has always loved.

As soon as the King was crowned he set out to take the field against
the Scots. The Londoners gave him a hundred horsemen fully equipped,
and a hundred footmen, on the assurance that this gift would not be
taken as a precedent. The expedition accomplished little, and the war
was ended by the Treaty of Northampton, which angered the Londoners
against Isabella and Mortimer excessively.

In November 1328 the Earl of Lancaster rose in revolt against the
Queen-mother. How that rebellion fared we know. Mortimer came out of
it, apparently, stronger than ever.

It is difficult to make out clearly what passed in London during and
after the revolt of Lancaster. The citizens regarded the want of
success in the Scottish Expedition as due to Mortimer and the Queen.
But between anger and rebellion there may be a wide gulf. There were
partisans of Lancaster and there were supporters of the Queen; the
King’s name was used by both parties.

We have already, in the preceding reign, heard of Hamo de Chigwell: we
find him now brought to trial; not for favouring the late King, but on
a charge of feloniously appropriating two silver basins, the property
of the Abbot of Bury St. Edmunds. He was convicted, but claimed the
benefit of clergy, and was conveyed to the Bishop of London’s prison.
His character is not of the clearest to decipher, but he was one of the
foremost citizens of the time, and it was a time when they demanded
much strength and resolution. A year later he was allowed to go free.
But as the citizens prepared to make a demonstration of rejoicing and
welcome, the Queen with alarm ordered his arrest. He escaped, however,
and is heard of no more in the City. In 1332 he devised some property
to the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul’s to found a chantry.

Before leaving England in 1329 the King sent to the City a general
proclamation. No one was to carry arms in the City except the officers
of the City. No one was to walk about the City after curfew; there were
to be no covins or congregations; no tavern was to be kept open after
curfew; nobody was to spread lies about the City; no one was to harbour
a stranger more than one night and one day, if he did not wish to be
answerable for him.

The question which occupied the City at this time was practically that
of Free Trade. There had been certain towns at which was established
the Staple; that is to say, the market from which wools could be
exported. No wool was to be exported until it had remained at a staple
for a period of forty days. The rule was relaxed by Edward II. in
favour of all towns except London, merchants being allowed to remove
wool after fifteen days. The merchants of London naturally complained
of this exception, but at first without success.


From Strutt’s _Manners and Customs_.]

Edward proposed, next, to remove the Staple to the Continent, but the
opposition of the merchants obliged him to renounce this project. He
thereupon abolished all Staples, and established Free Trade in Wool.
He also invited Flemings to come over, settle in England, and carry on
their weaving here.

Cheapside would seem to present a narrow and confined area for the
manœuvres and the combat of mounted knights, yet King Edward held a
great Tournament there in the year 1331. We must remember that between
the Church of St. Peter in the west and the House of St. Thomas of Acon
in the east the street was a great deal wider than it was afterwards:
for a length of 750 feet east and west it had a width of something
like 150 feet; the space being occupied chiefly by stalls. It narrowed
on the east side at the Poultry, and on the west side at St. Peter’s
Church, part of the burial ground of which still remains. Stow’s
account of what happened at the Tournament is as follows:—

 “In the middle of the City of London in a street called Cheape, the
 stone pavement being covered with sand, that the horses might not
 slide when they strongly set their feet to the ground, the King held a
 tournament three days together, with the nobility, valiant men of the
 realm, and other some strange knights. And to the end the beholders
 might with the better ease see the same, there was a wooden scaffold
 erected across the street, like unto a tower, wherein Queen Philippa
 and many other ladies, richly attired, and assembled from all parts
 of the realm, did stand to behold the jousts: but the higher frame,
 on which the ladies were placed, brake in sunder, whereby they were
 with some shame forced to fall down, by reason whereof the knights,
 and such as were underneath were grievously hurt: wherefore the Queen
 took great care to save the carpenters from punishment, and through
 her prayers (which she made upon her knees) pacified the King and
 Council, and thereby purchased great love of the people. After which
 time the King caused a shed to be strongly made of stone for himself,
 the Queen, and other estates to stand on, and there to behold the
 joustings, and other shows, at their pleasure, by the Church of St.
 Mary Bow, as is showed in Cordwainer Street Ward.”

The stone “selde” or shed, as Stow calls it, was still standing in his
time. “Without the north side of St. Mary Bow towards West Cheap a
fair building of stone called in record Seldam: a shed which greatly
darkeneth the said church; for by means thereof all the windows and
doors of that side are stopped up.” Henry IV. granted the place to
certain Mercers who established shops there but did not pull it down or
alter it, and it remained until the Great Fire as the place from which
great personages witnessed City shows. The places most commonly used
for tournaments were Smithfield and Tothill Fields. At the former was
held a very great tournament thirty years later, in the presence of the
King and Queen, and another forty years after there was another when
the old King conducted thither, to grace the sports, his mistress Alice
Perrers, sitting in a triumphal chariot, as the “Lady of the Sun.”

The example in anarchy and disorder witnessed during the last reign
makes it less surprising to hear of fresh riots in London, apparently
among the Craftsmen. The King addressed a strong letter to the Mayor
calling upon the City to repress these disorders. Further measures were
taken against disorderly folk in the City but without success, since
the King was forced to write again upon the subject. On Wednesday,
12th April, Sir Robert de Asheby, Clerk of the King, summoned the
Mayor and Aldermen before the King’s Council at Westminster. Here they
were informed that the King was going to war; that this was a costly
amusement; and that he desired the City to lend him £20,000. The Mayor
begged for time, and called a meeting of the Aldermen and the better
sort, not at Guildhall, but at the Chapter House of Westminster.
They began by offering the King 5000 marks, which is £3333: 6: 8.
This the King refused, with an intimation that if they could do no
better than that, he should ask for a list of the principal citizens.
They therefore held another meeting and offered to lend the King
£5000—“although it was a hard thing and difficult to do.” This offer
was accepted. To raise this sum the whole of the City was assessed,
sparing none. The richest man in the City was William de Caustom,
Alderman, who was assessed at £400; that is to say, his share of the
loan was set down at £400.

In 1338 there was a scare about a French descent. The King ordered the
City to be “strictly closed” and fortified against any sudden attack
by water. Everybody was to aid in this work, whether belonging to a
religious community or not.

An inventory of munitions of war was drawn up in 1339. It shows that at
a house near the Tower called the “Bretasche” there were 7 springalds
(large crossbows); 380 quarels or bolts feathered with leatten or
latone (a mixed metal); 500 quarels of wood; 29 cords; and 8 bows of
ash for the springalds. At Aldgate 1 springald and 40 quarels; in the
Chamber of the Guildhall 6 engines of latone usually called “gonnes”
and 5 rollers for the same; also pellets of lead weighing 4½ cwt.;
and 32 pounds of powder. This is the earliest mention of guns in
England, the next earliest occurring five years later. Riley suggests
that they had been brought over to this country by the Bardi from
Florence whose guns had been used in war as early as 1326. He quotes
Chaucer, _House of Fame_, book iii.:

    “Swift as a pellet out of a gonne
    When fire is in the powder ronne.”

The King and the citizens were on friendly terms throughout: but from
time to time we see a touch of the Plantagenet.

The assessment shows the comparative wealth of the various wards:

                              £   _s._  _d._
  Tower Ward                 365    0     0
  Billingsgate Ward          763    0     0
  Bridge Ward                765    6     8
  Dowgate Ward               660   10     0
  Langburn Ward              352    6     8
  Wallbrook                  911    0     0
  Bishopsgate Ward           559    6     8
  Limestreet Ward            110    0     0
  Cornhill Ward              315    0     0
  Cheap Ward                 517   10     0
  Broadstreet Ward           588    0     0
  Vintry Ward                634   16     8
  Bread Street Ward          461   16     8
  Queenhithe Ward            435   13     4
  Cordwainer Street Ward    2195    3     4
  Faringdon Ward Within      730   16     8
  Faringdon Ward Without     114   13     4
  Cripplegate Ward           462   10     0
  Colemanstreet Ward        1051   16     8
  Candlewickstreet Ward      133    6     8
  Aldgate Ward                30    0     0
  Portsoken Ward              27   10     0
  Castle Baynard Ward         63    6     8
  Bassisshaw Ward             79   13     4
  Aldersgate Ward             57   10     0
             Sum Total   £12,385   13     4

A riot in the streets between the Fishmongers and the Skinners led to
results much more useful than a King’s letter, for two rioters were
executed—an example greatly needed and extremely useful.

Among the ships of Edward’s Fleet were three belonging to London:
“La Jonette,” “La Cogge,” and “La Sainte Marie Cogne.” The last ship
belonged to William Haunsard, ex-Sheriff. London also sent a contingent
of nearly 200 men fully armed on board these ships. These ships were
among those which fought in the great victory of Sluys. The battle is
thus described by the _French Chronicle_:—

“In this year all the mariners of England, by commission of our Lord
the King, had all their ships speedily assembled and victualled, and
hardy and vigorous men from all parts well equipped and armed at all
points, in every place to fight for life or death. And when the fleet
of ships of England was assembled in manner aforesaid, Sir Edward, our
King, and his people were in the parts of Bury Saint Edmund’s: and from
thence he passed on to Orwelle, where he put to sea, with his people
beyond number, upon the Thirsday next before the Nativity of Saint John
the Baptist (24 June) which was on a Saturday: and upon the next Friday
morning, our King espied his enemies upon the sea, and said ‘Because
our Lord Jesus Christ was put to death on a Friday, we will not shed
blood upon that day.’

The wind had then been in the east for a whole fortnight before the
King put to sea, but by the grace of Him who is Almighty, the wind
shifted immediately to the west: so that by the grace of God, the King
and his fleet had both wind and weather to their mind. And so they
sailed on until sunrise at break of day: when he saw his enemies so
strongly equipped, that it was a most dreadful thing to behold: for
the fleet of the ships of France was so strongly bound together with
massive chains, castles, bretasches, and bars. But, notwithstanding
this, Sir Edward our King, said to all those who were around him in
the fleet of England:—‘Fair lords and brethren of mine, be nothing
dismayed, but be all of good cheer, and he who for me shall begin the
fight and shall combat with a right good heart, shall have the benison
of God Almighty: and everyone shall retain that which he shall gain.’

And so soon as our King had said this, all were of right eager heart
to avenge him of his enemies. And then our mariners hauled their
sails half-mast high, and hauled up their anchors in manner as though
they intended to fly: and when the fleet of France beheld this, they
loosened themselves from their heavy chains to pursue us. And forthwith
our ships turned back upon them, and the mêlée began, to the sound of
trumpets, nakers, viols, tabors, and many other kinds of minstrelsy.
And then did our King, with three hundred ships, vigorously assail the
French with their five hundred great ships and gallies, and eagerly
did our people exert great diligence to give battle to the French. Our
archers and our arbalesters began to fire as densely as hail falls in
winter, and our engineers hurled so steadily, that the French had not
power to look or to hold up their heads. And in the meantime, while
this assault lasted, our English people with a great force boarded
their gallies, and fought with the French hand to hand, and threw them
out of their ships and gallies. And always our King encouraged to fight
bravely with his enemies, he himself being in the cog called ‘Thomas
of Winchelsee.’ And at the hour of tierce there came to them a ship of
London, which belonged to William Haunsard, and it did much good in
the said battle. For the battle was so severe and so hardly contested,
that the assault lasted from noon all day and all night, and the morrow
until the hour of prime: and when the battle was discontinued no French
man remained alive, save only Spaudefisshe, who took to flight with
four and twenty ships and gallies.”

The Battle of Sluys was followed by the Siege of Tournay which proved
fruitless: the King came home without any money, and furious against
his ministers, whom he sent to prison. An inquiry was ordered as to
the mode of collecting the King’s revenues in the City. The citizens
objected to the judges holding this session in the City; they refused
to answer any questions unless their liberties were respected; they
raised a special fund for the purpose of defending the City’s rights.
The King retorted by ordering an Iter, but being unwilling to alienate
the City, which was so useful in time of war, he desisted and gave the
citizens a new Charter (26th March 1341). At the same time they were
called upon to provide twenty-six ships fully equipped and victualled,
and the King for his part got another thousand pounds for himself.
After a truce for three years the war was renewed. In March 1346 the
London contingent of 600 archers, 100 men-at-arms, and 200 horsemen,
were called out and paraded on Tothill Fields. They sailed with the
King’s fleet of a thousand ships on the 10th July 1346.

After the battle of Crecy the King sent word to the Mayor that many of
his men had deserted, and that all who could be found were to be seized
and sent back, whether they were knights, esquires, or of lower order.
This seems to show that they went out on short service time which had
expired. It also shows that no police existed to prevent deserters from
taking ship across the Channel. Another fleet was fitted out to which
the City contributed two ships. All the ships in the port were also

After the surrender of Calais the King came home, his army laden with
spoil. “And now,” says Holinshed, “it seemed to the English people
that the sunne breake foorth after a long cloudie season, by reason
both of the great plentie of althings, and remembrance of the late
glorious victories: for there were few women that were housekeepers
within this land, but they had some furniture of household that had
beene brought to them out of France as part of the Spoile got in Caen,
Calis, Carenten, or some other good towne. And beside household stuffe,
the English maides and matrones were bedecked and trimmed up in French
women’s jewels and apparell, so that as the French women lamented for
the loss of these things, so our women rejoiced of the gaine.”

In the twentieth year of Edward’s reign he issued an ordinance
providing for the expulsion of all leprous persons from the City.
“Forasmuch,” he begins, “as we have been given to understand that many
persons, as well of the City aforesaid, as others coming to the same
City, being smitten with the blemish of leprosy, do publicly dwell
among the other citizens and sound persons and there continually abide;
and do not hesitate to communicate with them as well in public places
as in private: and that some of them endeavouring to contaminate others
with that abominable blemish (that so to their own wretched solace
they may have the more fellows in suffering) as well as in the way of
mutual communication, and by the contagion of their polluted breath,
and by sexual intercourse with women in stews and other secret places
detestably frequenting the same, do so taint persons who are sound,
both male and female, to the great injury of the people dwelling in
the City aforesaid, and the manifest peril of other persons to the
same City resorting....” And he orders the removal of all such persons
from the City within fifteen days, and forbids for the future any one
to harbour in his house any one “smitten with the blemish of leprosy.”
This order seems to have been obeyed.

It is unfortunate that we do not know the number of the wretched lepers
who were thus driven out. The disease itself, the ravages of which
had been terrible, was now slowly disappearing: within two hundred
years from this time it had practically disappeared. That there were
still a good number of lepers in London is proved by the fact that the
citizens in obedience to the law began to build lazar houses outside
the City. Three at least there were already: that of St. Giles in
the Fields, founded by Queen Matilda, wife of Henry I.; that of St.
James in the Fields, founded for leprous virgins; and that of Great
Ilford in Essex, founded by King Stephen, the only one now left of
the leprous foundations. The new lazar houses erected were: one at
the Lock without Southwark in Kent Street; one between Mile End Road
and Stratford-le-Bow; one at Kingsland between Shoreditch and Stoke
Newington; and one at Knightsbridge. One is mentioned twenty years
later at Hackney. Another was founded a hundred years later by one
William Yeoman of the Crown, himself a leper, on the high road between
Highgate and Holloway. Twenty-six years later John Mayn, a baker and
a leper, “who had oftentimes been before commanded by the Mayor and
Aldermen to depart from the City” (oftentimes! Here is a proof of the
weakness of the Executive!), was finally ordered to depart at once. It
is not stated whether he obeyed.

In 1348 the Black Death broke out. We shall hear of this again. It
is sufficient here to record that probably two-thirds of the whole
population of London were killed by this pestilence. The churchyards
were full, and would hold no more bodies. The Bishop of London gave one
piece of ground and Sir Walter Manny gave another, making in all over
13 acres of land for the burial of the dead: in a short time 50,000
persons were lying there. Another piece of ground given by a priest
named John Cony for the same object on the east side of the City was
also speedily filled with thousands of bodies.

Scarcely had the City recovered from this calamity when it was called
upon to join in suppressing pirates who in time of war and trouble
always infested the Channel. The City furnished two ships, one with
forty men-at-arms and sixty archers, commanded by Andrew Turk, and one
with thirty men-at-arms and forty archers, commanded by Gosceline de
Cleve. The fleet destroyed a Spanish fleet and captured twenty-four
ships laden with merchandise.

The return of the Black Prince with his royal captive after the battle
of Poitiers was an occasion for such a display as the City always
loved. A thousand of the citizens, richly clad and well mounted, met
the Prince at Southwark: the King of France rode a splendid charger:
beside him the victorious Prince rode a little galloway. At the foot
of London Bridge they were met by the Mayor, Aldermen, Sheriffs, and
the several craftsmen in their liveries and colours. All through the
streets the houses were hung with tapestries and glittered with arms
and armour of all kinds. It was perhaps the greatest day for the
national pride and rejoicing that the City had ever seen.

At the expiration of the Two Years’ truce the war broke out again. A
French fleet swept along the coast of Sussex landing an army of 20,000
men, who committed the atrocities common to an invading force, burning
towns, destroying crops, killing men. The City of London fitted out a
fleet of 80 vessels with 14,000 men, including archers, but these were
too late to meet the enemy.

It was at this time that Henry Picard, the Vintner, gave that most
famous of all the City banquets, at which he entertained the King of
England, the King of France, the King of Scotland, the King of Denmark,
and the King of Cyprus, as well as the Black Prince.

The war lingered on for some years, but there were no more glorious
victories, and in 1375 peace was concluded. A change was attempted in
the constitution of the City; by this the election of Mayor, Sheriffs,
and Common Council was placed in the hands of the guilds instead of the
wards, but after ten years the new plan was found not to work so well
as the old, to which the City returned.

In 1365 an important ordinance was passed concerning what things a
tenant in leaving a house might take with him:—

 “It is ordained that if any persons hire a tenement, House, or Houses,
 in the city of London or in the suburbs of the said city, to hold the
 same for the term of Life, or of Years, or only from year to year, or
 from quarter to quarter: if the said tenant shall make, or cause to
 be made, any pentyses or other easements in the said tenement, house,
 outhouses, fixed with nails of iron or wooden pegs to the premises, or
 to the soil thereof: it shall not be lawful for such tenant to remove
 such pentyses or easements at the end of the term, or at any other
 time to destroy them: but they shall always remain to the landlord of
 the said premises, as a parcel thereof.”

This ordinance was translated from Latin into English with the
following explanation:—

 “Whereas nowe of late amonge divers people was sprongen Matter of
 doute upon the most olde custome had and used in this Cyte of London,
 of suche thyngys which by tenauntys terms of lyfe or yerys been
 affixyd unto houses, without specyall lycence of the owner of the
 soyle, whether they owe to remayne unto the Owner of the Soyle, as
 Parcel of the same, or ellys whether it shall be lawfull unto suche
 Tenantys on thende of her terme all suche thyngys affyxed to remove.

 Whereupon olde Bokys seen, and many Recordys, olde processys,
 and judementys of the sayd Cyte, it was declared by the Mayre and
 Aldermen, for an olde prescrybed custome of the Cyte aforesayd,
 that all suche easementys fixyd unto houses, or to soyle by suche
 tenementys, without specyal and expresse lycence of the owner of
 the soyle, if they be affyxed with Nayles of Irne or of tree, as
 pentyses, glasse, lockys, benchys or ony suche other, or ellse yf they
 be affyxed with Morter or Lyme, or of erther or ony other Morter as
 forneys, leedys, candorous Chemyneys, Corbels, pavemettis, or suche
 other: or elles yf plantes be roetyd in the grounds, as vines, trees,
 grasse stounks, trees of fruit, etc., it shall not be laufull into
 suche tenauntys in the end of her terme, or ony other tyme therin, nor
 only of them, to put awaye more, or plucke up in ony wyse, but that
 they shall alway remayne to the ownar of the soyle, as parcels of the
 same soyle or Tenement.”

At the Good Parliament of 1376 three City Aldermen were charged
with malversation. All three were deprived of their posts: one was
imprisoned, one fled to Flanders to escape trial, one was deprived of
his patent of monopoly. With the design of winning favour from the
young heir to the Crown, the City resolved upon presenting him with an
entertainment and gifts. The Prince with his mother and his suite was
living at the Palace of Kennington.


From the Fresco painting in the Royal Exchange, London, by permission
of the Artist, A. Chevallier Tayler.]

“For which purpose, on the Sunday before Candlemas one hundred and
thirty-two citizens on horseback in Masquerade attended by trumpets, a
variety of other musical instruments, and a vast number of flambeaux,
marched from Newgate through the City and Borough of Southwark, to
the Prince’s residence aforesaid. In the first division rode eight
and forty persons dressed in the habits of Esquires, with Red Coats,
Say[2] Gowns, and beautiful Vizards. Then followed the same number of
persons apparelled like knights, in the same livery as the former.
Then rode one in a very pompous imperial habit, followed at some
distance by a person resembling the Pope, attended by four and twenty
Cardinals: followed by ten persons in hideous black vizards, as legates
from an infernal Pontiff. This Cavalcade of masquers being arrived at
the Palace, they dismounted and entered the hall, whither instantly
repaired the Prince, the Princess of Wales, and the Nobility their
attendants. They were saluted by the masquers, who, producing a pair
of Dice, showed their inclination of playing with the Prince. The
Dice were so artfully prepared that, whenever the Prince threw, he
was sure to win, and having thrown three Times, he won a Bowl, a Cup,
and a Ring, all of massy gold: after which the said masquers set the
Princess, the Duke of Lancaster, and all the other lords, each with a
gold ring which they likewise won: whereupon they were most sumptuously
entertained at supper: and, after having the honour of dancing with the
Prince and Nobility, they joyfully returned to the City.”

  [2] Say = a kind of serge.

In 1371 the King granted a charter ordering that no strangers, _i.e._
none except freemen, should be allowed to sell by retail, within the
City and the suburbs. This privilege had always been resented by the
citizens, who were more in favour of free trade.

The reign of Edward III. is remarkable for the regulations of the
crafts and companies which were issued, and the formation of companies
under rules and by royal license. In Riley’s _Memorials_ we find
Charters, Articles, and Ordinances granted to the following long list,
between 1327 and 1377. The list is set down in chronological order:—

Pellipers, or Skinners, Girdlers, Hostlers and Haymongers, Tapicers,
Butchers, Bakers, Taverners, Vintners, Cutters, Brewers, Spurriers,
Whittawyers, Turners, Heaumers, Hatters, Pewterers, Glovers, Shearmen,
Furbishers, Braelers, Masons, Farriers, Wax Chandlers, Alien Weavers,
Tylers, Dyers, Plumbers, Tawyers, Flemish Weavers, Bowyers, Fletchers,
Pouch Makers, Blacksmiths, Leather Sellers, Poulterers, Cordwainers,
Barbers, Fullers, Hurers, and Cheesemongers. Some of the articles of
the new Companies will be dealt with in another place.

The Black Death of 1349-50 caused a dearth of labour which ran up wages

Some attempt to fly in the face of the effect of demand upon supply
was made soon after the Pestilence by a Proclamation issued (24 Ed.
III. 1350) by order of the Mayor, Walter Turk, the Aldermen and the
Commonality in which wages were laid down “to be held and firmly
observed for ever.” This proclamation gave the craftsmen 6d. a day
in the summer months and 5½d. a day in the winter. Any employer
who paid more was fined 40s.:—any craftsman who took more was sent
to prison for 40 days. It seems strange that in a commercial and
industrial city it could be supposed possible to regulate wages and
prices “for ever,” or for a week. Like so many other mediæval laws and
ordinances there is no proof whatever of any obedience, while in the
trials that follow there is no case reported of disobedience. We may
assert without fear of contradiction that the proclamation fell dead,
and that the craftsmen continued to make the most of the situation.

The relations of Edward III. and the City, on the whole of a cordial
kind, are illustrated by some of the papers in Riley’s _Memorials_.
Thus, in November 1328, the King and the Queen being at Westminster,
the City resolved to send them a present, and these were the seasonable
gifts they sent:—

 “To our Lord the King:—10 carcasses of beeves, price £7: 10s.; 20
 pigs, price £4;—these being bought of Nicholas Derman: 24 swans, price
 £6; 24 bitterns and herons, price £4: 4s.; and 10 dozens of capons,
 price 50s.;—the same being bought of John Brid and John Scott: 5 stone
 of wax, price £19: 19: 0-3/4; 4 barrels of sturgeon, price £12; 6 pike
 and 6 eels, price 10 marks;—these being bought of Hugh Medefrei.

 To our Lady the Queen:—5 carcasses of beeves, price 75s.; 12 pigs,
 price 48s.;—these being bought of the said Nicholas Derman: 12
 pheasants, price 48s.; 12 swans, price 60s.;—these being bought of the
 said John Brid and John Scot:—3 stone of wax, price £11: 19: 5-1/4; 2
 barrels of sturgeon, price £6; also, 3 pike and 3 eels, price 66s. 8d.

 Sum total paid for the gift aforesaid, £95: 13: 6.”

Nine years later, at the meeting of Parliament, held in London,
the City voted a great number of gifts to the King, the Queen, the
Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishops of London and Durham and many
great Lords. To some, money was given, to others, silver plate, silk
cloths, gloves for holding the marks. Apparently, the gifts were
intended to buy their favour, for the City got a charter which secured
their liberties, although they had appeared in danger from the new
statutes about the Staple.

While mentioning these presents we may state that in the year 1363 we
find a dozen trades uniting to send a small present of money, amounting
in all to no more than £40, to the King. Four companies also present
King John of France, then a captive, with money amounting in all to
£24: 6: 8; and in the year 1371 a magnificent present of plate costing,
for the time, a vast sum of money, was given to the Black Prince on his
return from Gascony.

In 1357 the King, evidently from his own observation, called attention
to the lay stalls and filth allowed to accumulate on the banks of the
river, and gave orders that all should be cleaned up without delay.
In the same year he ordered the streets to be kept free of such
impediments. And, which shows a glimmering of sanitary science, he
orders that this refuse shall be put into carts and taken out of the
City, or into the dung boats which were probably intended to carry the
refuse down the river; but nothing was to be thrown into the river.
When one remembers the uses to which the Walbrook and the Fleet,
together with the banks of the Thames, had been put, it is easy to
understand that it was necessary to do something. At the same time, the
Thames is a broad river, and capable of cleansing itself from a good
deal of corruption.

In some cases of robbery or violence the King interfered himself. Thus
in 1359 the King ordered the Mayor to make Inquisition into a robbery
committed at the House of the Crutched Friars in Hart Street, Aldgate,
and to send him the result of his Inquisition. The case is curious,
one that implicated certain Brethren of the House. The things stolen
consisted of a chalice, two sets of vestments, many valuable books
and other goods, the whole valued at £87: 13: 4, _i.e._ over £1200 of
our money. The robbers were Robert de Stannowe, John de Dunmowe, and
Richard de Evesham, all Brethren of the Holy Cross. The witnesses, John
Bretoun and eleven others, swore that these three were all malefactors
and disturbers of the Peace of our Lord the King, and that they stole
these things and “committed other enormities.” What became of the
sacrilegious three is not known. Possibly the Bishop’s prison could
reveal the secret.

There is also a proclamation against sturdy vagrants who get alms
“which would otherwise go to many poor folk, such as lepers, blind,
halt, and persons oppressed with old age and divers other maladies.”
They are ordered to be put in the stocks and then to forswear the City
for ever. Nothing is as yet said about whipping vagrants through the

There is a proclamation against evening markets. Nothing was to be sold
after sunset because it is easy in the dark to pass off old things for

Another scare of a French descent took place in 1370, when it was
reported that certain galleys were lying off the Foreland of Thanet. It
was ordered that a watch should be kept every night between the Tower
and Billingsgate, to consist of 40 men-at-arms and 60 archers. The
companies were to form the watch in the following order:—

  Sunday. The Ironmongers, the Armourers, and the Cutlers.
  Monday. The Tawyers, the Spurriers, the Bowyers, and the Girdlers.
  Tuesday. The Drapers and the Tailors.
  Wednesday. The Mercers and the Apothecaries.
  Thursday. The Fishmongers and the Butchers.
  Friday. The Pelterers and the Vintners.
  Saturday. The Goldsmiths and the Saddlers.

The bad government of London at this time is illustrated by the decay
of archery. The recent victories in France had proved the immense
superiority of the archers to the mounted knights in battle: yet we
find the youth of London allowed to neglect a weapon which could only
be serviceable if its practice was encouraged and ordered. On this
subject we find that the King sent the following letter to the Sheriffs
of London in the year 1365:—

 “The King to the Sheriffs of _London_, greeting.

 Because the People of our Realm, as well of good Quality as mean,
 have commonly in their Sports before these Times exercised the Skill
 of shooting Arrows; whence it is well known, that Honour and Profit
 have accrued to our whole Realm, and to us, by the Help of God, no
 small Assistance in our warlike Acts; and now the said Skill being,
 as it were, wholly laid aside, the same People please themselves in
 hurling of Stones and Wood and Iron; and some in Hand-ball, Foot-ball,
 Bandy-ball, and in Cambuck, or Cockfighting; and some also apply
 themselves to other dishonest Games, and less Profitable or useful;
 whereby the said Realm is likely, in a short time, to become destitute
 of Archers:

 We, willing to apply a seasonable Remedy to this, command you,
 that in Places in the foresaid City, as well within the Liberties
 as without, where you shall see it expedient, you cause publick
 Proclamation to be made, that every one of the said City, strong in
 Body, at leisure Times on Holidays, use in their Recreations Bows
 and Arrows, or Pellets, or Bolts, and learn and exercise the Art of
 Shooting; forbidding all and singular on our Behalf, that they do not
 after any Manner apply themselves to the throwing of Stones, Wood,
 Iron, Hand-ball, Foot-ball, Bandy-ball, Cambuck, or Cockfighting, nor
 such other like vain Plays, which have no Profit in them, or concern
 themselves therein, under Pain of Imprisonment. Witness the King at
 Westminster, the twelfth Day of June.”

In the same year the City was visited by a company of Flagellants. They
were Dutch and a hundred and twenty in number. They marched through the
streets stripped to the waist, wearing hats with one red cross before
and one behind: in their hands they carried whips. They sang a Litany
as they walked, and then began to flagellate each other till the blood
ran down their bodies. This they are said to have done twice a day
either in the streets or in St. Paul’s.

In the disturbances and quarrels which marked the conclusion of the
third Edward’s reign and the commencement of Richard’s, it is difficult
to separate the part taken by London from the general history of the
country. It was a gloomy time for London as well as for the nation:
the conquests and the vast possessions acquired by Edward had been
lost more quickly than they were won. In 1372 the English fleet was
destroyed off Rochelle: in 1373 Poitiers was lost and the English
army destroyed: in 1374 Aquitaine was lost: our holding in France was
reduced to certain strong places, as Bordeaux and Calais: the King was
falling into dotage: the Black Prince was dying: not only the pride of
the country was humiliated, but her wealth was impoverished and her
trade diminished.

New ideas were rising up in all directions, precursors of the
Reformation. Wyclyf wanted a return to simpler external forms and the
lowering of the pride and wealth and power of the Church. Piers Plowman
spoke for the inarticulate: Chaucer shows the kindly and good-humoured
contempt of the well-to-do bourgeois for Friar and Monk: the commons
demanded the dismissal of the Clergy from Civil Service: a few years
later they petitioned the King (Henry IV.) to suppress all the monastic
Houses. And the most powerful noble in the land, John of Gaunt,
espoused the popular side and stood forth as the protector of Wyclyf
and of John of Northampton.

Unfortunately John of Gaunt meddled with trade. Probably in ignorance
of what he was doing he placed himself in the hands of a merchant named
Richard Lyons in whom he seems to have had great confidence. Lyons was
clearly the predecessor of many who have followed him in the endeavour
to make fortune by short cuts; he got from John permission to ship his
wool without taking it first to the Staple, thus avoiding the tax; he
got himself made farmer of customs at Calais and levied higher duties
than those imposed by Parliament; he bought up the King’s debts at a
large reduction and made the Council pay him in full; he made corners,
obtained and sold monopolies.

In 1376, the year before the old King’s death, the Good Parliament sat.
Their speaker, Peter de la Mare, in the name of the Commons refused
all supplies so long as the Duke of Lancaster, Lord Latimer, and Sir
Richard Sturrie remained counsellors to the King, and so long as Alice
Perrers remained the King’s concubine. The charge was allowed. Then the
Parliament considered certain abuses in the City. First, they impeached
Richard Lyons, “of divers deceits, Extortions, and other Misdemeanours,
as well at the Time when he repaired to certain of the King’s Council,
as when he was Farmer of the Subsidies and Customs; and especially for
his obtaining Licences for the Exportation of large Faizons of Wool
and staple Ware; for procuring new Impositions upon staple Ware; for
devising the Change of Money; for making the King, for one Chevizance
of twenty Marks, to pay thirty Pounds; for buying Debts of divers Men
due by the King for small Values; for taking Bribes by way of Brokage
for paying the King’s just Debts. All which, it seems, he was guilty
of, by tampering with the Council.

To some Part of which Articles Richard answered, and to the rest
submitted himself to the King’s mercy; Whereupon he was committed to
Prison, and his Estate, both real and personal, confiscated, and for
which Crimes he was also disfranchised.

John Peach of London was soon after impeached for procuring a Licence
under the Great Seal, for the sole Privilege of selling sweet wine in
London; it was said that by colour of this Grant, he took of every
Vintner four shillings and fourpence for every tun he sold. The which
he justified, as lawfully he might; yet nevertheless he was adjudged to
prison, and to make Restitution to all Persons aggrieved. Whereupon the
Grant was reversed, and the Citizens restored to their ancient Right of
selling such Wine, under the Restriction of having the Price thereof
always regulated by the Mayor.” (Maitland, vol. i. p. 134.)

The Parliament, however, came to an end. John of Gaunt returned to
power; Richard Lyons and John Peach were let out of prison; the late
Speaker, Peter de la Mare, was committed to Nottingham Castle; Alice
Perrers went back to the King.

[Illustration: JOHN WYCLYF (d. 1384)

From MS. Harl. 4866.]

It does not belong to this history to attempt an estimate of the
character and the political career of John of Gaunt. Yet it may be
mentioned that he was regarded with the deepest jealousy and was
suspected of designs upon the Crown; for it was considered it might
be easy for him to supplant the young prince Richard. Yet he was
undoubtedly the greatest and most powerful noble in the land. Moreover,
in matters of religion he took the side of Reform, especially as
regards the wealth and power of the higher clergy. In this respect
he undoubtedly had with him the general opinion of the City, both of
the better sort—Whittington, among others, was reputed to lean in
that direction—and of the craftsmen, among whom the Friars and their
teaching had great influence. Unfortunately he offended the City beyond
all power of forgiveness by proposing to abolish the Mayoralty and to
encroach further upon their liberties. And then came the famous trial
of Wyclyf in St. Paul’s Cathedral. Wyclyf was summoned to appear at St.
Paul’s before the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London to
answer certain charges as to opinions.

He obeyed, but there came with him his protector, John of Gaunt, and
the Earl Marshal, with, one doubts not, a sufficient following to
protect their persons. The Cathedral was filled with people drawn
together by the desire to see and to hear this fearless champion of
Reform. It was with difficulty that the party could work their way
through to the place of hearing, which was the Lady Chapel. The Earl
Marshal exercised his authority, perhaps loudly, to keep the people
back. The Bishop of London, indignant at the exercise of any authority
but his own in his own Cathedral, declared that had he known how Lord
Percy would act he would have forbidden him admission. The Duke of
Lancaster with equal heat assured the Bishop that the Lord Marshal
would maintain order, despite him. When they reached the Lady Chapel,
the Earl Marshal demanded a seat for Wyclyf. The Bishop refused. Then
angry words passed and recriminations; it was rumoured that John of
Gaunt threatened to drag the Bishop out of the Church by the hair
of his head. The quarrel grew to a tumult; the Court was dissolved;
Wyclyf, who had said nothing, withdrew, and the Duke with his party
left the Church and rode to the house of one John de Ypres.

There was rancour against the Duke of Lancaster for other reasons,
apart from this insult to the Bishop. It was rumoured that he had the
design of abolishing the Mayor and of appointing a Custos in his place;
and that he held that the Marshal of England should have the right of
arresting criminals in London as well as in other parts of the kingdom.
The quarrel at St. Paul’s was only the last drop in the cup. That
strange wildfire which seizes mobs, beginning one knows not where, and
spreading one knows not how, flamed up in the London streets. The mob
would have the Duke’s life. He, who was at the house of John de Ypres
in the City, and at dinner, was startled by one of his knights who
came to warn him. There was no time to be lost; he rose from table and
hastening down to the nearest stairs took boat across the river and
went to the Palace at Kennington. When the mob found that he was gone
they came to his Palace of the Savoy, where they murdered a priest, and
would have wrecked the palace but for the intervention of the Bishop of

The Mayor and Aldermen obtained an interview with the King and
expressed their sorrow at what had happened: they said it was the
act of a few lawless men, who should be found and punished, and
therewith the Duke seemed satisfied. But the insults of the populace
continued; they hung up his shield reversed to show that he was a
traitor; they posted libels and insults upon him until he demanded the
excommunication of the City. The Bishop of London refused; whereupon
the Bishop of Bangor pronounced the excommunication. Had, then, one
Bishop the right of excommunicating the people in the diocese of
another Bishop? The Mayor, Adam Staple, was removed, and Nicolas
Brembre was elected. Certainly it seems as if Adam Staple had shown
his own weakness in not maintaining order. Lastly, the City tried
to appease the Duke by offering a wax taper bearing his arms in St.
Paul’s. Just then the old King died.



[Illustration: RICHARD II. (1367-1399)

From a painting in Westminster Abbey. Artist unknown.]

No one who considers the life and reign of Richard II. can fail to
observe, and in some measure to understand, the very remarkable
personal affection which he inspired in the people, especially the
people of London, whose loyalty he rewarded so shamefully. His singular
beauty, his kingliness, his charm of manner, the splendour and luxury
of his court, his love of art and music, his personal bearing, all
these things dazzled and fascinated the populace. Never was there a
more gallant prince to look upon. That he was proud, almost as proud
as Henry III., proud to a degree which is in these days absolutely
unintelligible; that he was wasteful and prodigal; that he was led
by unworthy favourites almost as much as his great-grandfather; that
he was revengeful; that he always wanted money and cared nothing
about charters, rights, and liberties, upon all of which he trampled
without scruple in order to get money,—these things the people of
London were going to find out to their cost. Meantime they loved the
lovely boy, the son of the Black Prince. To begin with, the nobles
called Richard the Londoners’ King. We shall see that the City endured
blow after blow, before they finally abandoned him. Mostly, I think,
the City regarded Richard with gratitude and affection for that deed
of desperate daring when he faced the mob, himself a mere boy, and
persuaded them to go home. Every citizen who remembered those few
terrible days when the wildest mob ever seen in London streets held
possession of the City, and when they remembered what the better sort
had to endure, robbery, fire, and murder, looked on that act as the
salvation of himself as well as of the City. The alienation of the City
which followed was due solely to the King’s long-continued exactions
and his arbitrary disregard of Charters.

The new reign—Richard was only eleven—began happily for London by
a reconciliation of the City with the Duke of Lancaster. At the
Coronation Banquet the Mayor and Citizens claimed their right to assist
the chief butler, but were refused by Robert Belknap, Chief-Justice
of the Common Pleas, who told them that they might come and wash up
the pots and pans if they pleased. The citizens therefore set up an
effigy of Belknap on one of the arches erected in Cheapside for the
procession. The figure was made to vomit wine continuously. This is
an early example of caricature in things political. Robert Belknap
withdrew his opposition; the effigy was removed, and the Mayor and
Aldermen played their accustomed part in the Coronation Banquet. It
is noted by Sharpe (_London and the Kingdom_, p. 213) that the King’s
Butler in ordinary could claim the post of City Coroner.

The City granted the Council an advance of £5000 on the security of
the Customs. When Parliament met, it granted a tallage of two-tenths
and two-fifteenths, and named two citizens, Walworth and Philpot, to
act as treasurers. At this time, nearly the worst in our annals, the
French were harrying the south coast almost unopposed; the Scottish
army was on the borders; and a Scottish fleet was in the North Sea
making descents upon the ports and seaboard towns. The Abbot of Battle
drove off the French, and it was left to a private merchant of London
to destroy the Scottish fleet.

This fleet was commanded by a man named Mercer who was called a
pirate. Like his countrymen on the Border he probably called his own
proceedings lawful acts of war. Sir John Philpot, hearing that this sea
captain, or pirate, Mercer was plundering English towns and picking
up English ships, fitted out at his own private expense a fleet of
ships manned with a thousand men well armed, went on board himself as
Admiral or Commander, sailed north, met Mercer’s fleet off Scarborough,
valiantly attacked it, and killed him and took all his ships; then,
with these and fifteen Spanish vessels, deeply laden, which had been
captured by Mercer, he returned to London. The Council sent for him
and asked him to explain his presumption in going to war on his own
account. But the citizens showed their approval of his work by electing
him Mayor in the following year.

The late King having died while the petition of the City for a
confirmation of their liberties was impending, they renewed it on the
accession of Richard. The House of Commons also prayed the King that
the City might continue to enjoy all the Franchises and usages granted
by his Progenitors. This was answered by a Charter of Confirmation as

 “Whereas the said Citizens, by their Petition exhibited to us in
 Parliament, did set forth that although they, for a long time past,
 have used and enjoyed certain free Customs, until of late Years they
 have been unjustly molested; which Customs are as followeth, viz.,
 That no Foreigner do buy or sell of another Foreigner any Merchandises
 within the Liberties of the said City, upon Pain of forfeiting the
 same. Nevertheless, being desirous, for the future, to take away
 all Controversies about the same, We do by these presents, with the
 Assent aforesaid, will and grant, and by these Presents, for us and
 our heirs, do confirm unto the said Citizens, and their Successors,
 that, for the future, no Foreigner sell to another Foreigner any
 Merchandises within the Liberties of the said City: nor that any
 Foreigner do buy of another Foreigner any Merchandise, upon pain of
 forfeiting the same; the Privileges of our Subjects of Aquitaine in
 all Things excepted, so that such buying and selling be made betwixt
 Merchant and Merchant.”

The City was still at this time torn by internal dissensions. The party
headed by John of Northampton, representing the popular cause of the
craft guilds, was always striving after more power and always meeting
with the most determined resistance; it is also certain that a new and
very important spirit had been introduced into the City, which was
teaching new ideas concerning personal holiness, the riches of priest
and monk, the true teaching of Christ as set forth in the Gospels,
and spread abroad by Wyclyf’s preachers. The other side, headed by
Philpot and Brembre, represented the old aristocratic party with the
great guilds of distribution, import and export. The Duke of Lancaster,
for reasons of his own, gave his support to John of Northampton and
the popular party. In this he was joined by his brother Thomas of
Woodstock, Earl of Buckingham, who three times accused Brembre before
the Parliament: first of connivance in a riotous attack upon his house,
and next of treason. The Earl showed his resentment still further by
withdrawing from the City with all his following and all his friends.
He must have had a great many friends, because the blow to trade was so
sorely felt that the richer merchants subscribed and bribed him to come
back again. The history of the City factions will be found in another

In 1379 a poll tax was imposed. Every man had to pay according to his
rank and station. The Mayor of London was assessed as an Earl and
paid £4. The Aldermen, assessed as barons, paid £2 each. The lowest
workmen had to pay a groat—fourpence. The poll tax of the City amounted
to no more than £700. It is estimated that there was a population of
about 46,000. But the expenses of collection are not included. In the
taxation of the whole population, man, woman, and child, there must
have been a great number of clerks and collectors. Perhaps 25 per cent
was spent in the work. That would give us a population of 56,000. Next
year the poll tax was again imposed; but this time the smallest sum
to be paid was three groats, and that by every man, woman, and child
over the age of fifteen. What would this tax mean at the present day?
It would mean that every working man would have to pay half-a-crown
for himself, half-a-crown for his wife, and half-a-crown for every one
in his house over fifteen years of age, say four half-crowns, or ten
shillings in all. How long would a Government last which should impose
such a tax? The tax produced in London alone no more than £1000. It
was a fatal impost for the country, for it proved the cause of the
rebellion, the most formidable rising of the peasantry which this
country ever had to encounter, that named after Wat Tyler. The history
of this insurrection belongs to the history of England rather than that
of London, but the later and more dramatic part of it took place in the
City. Perhaps I cannot do better than transcribe the short and graphic
contemporary account given in Riley’s _Memorials_ (p. 449):—

“Among the most wondrous and hitherto unheard-of prodigies that have
ever happened in the City of London, that which took place there on the
Feast of Corpus Christi, the 13th day of June, in the 4th year of the
reign of King Richard the Second, seems deserving to be committed to
writing, that it may be not unknown to those to come.

For on that day, while the King was holding his Council in the Tower of
London, countless companies of the commoners and persons of the lowest
grade from Kent and Essex suddenly approached the said City, the one
body coming to the town of Southwark, and the other to the place called
‘Mileende,’ without Algate. By the aid also of perfidious commoners
within the City, of their own condition, who rose in countless numbers
there, they suddenly entered the City together, and, passing straight
through it, went to the mansion of Sir John, Duke of Lancaster, called
‘Le Savoye,’ and completely levelled the same with the ground, and
burned it. From thence they turned to the Church of the Hospital of St.
John of Jerusalem, without Smethfeld, and burnt and levelled nearly all
the houses there, the Church excepted.

On the next morning, all the men from Kent and Essex met at the said
place called ‘Mileende,’ together with some of the perfidious persons
of the City aforesaid; whose numbers in all were past reckoning.
And there the King came to them from the Tower, accompanied by many
knights and esquires, and citizens on horseback, the lady his mother
following him also in a chariot. Where, at the prayer of the infuriated
rout, our Lord the King granted that they might take those who were
traitors against him, and slay them, wheresoever they might be found.
And from thence the King rode to his Wardrobe, which is situated near
to Castle Baynard; while the whole of the infuriated rout took its way
towards the Tower of London; entering which by force, they dragged
forth from it Sir Simon, Archbishop of Canterbury, Chancellor of our
Lord the King, and Brother Robert Hales, Prior of the said Hospital of
St. John of Jerusalem, the King’s Treasurer; and, together with them,
Brother William Appletone, of the Order of Friars Minors, and John Leg,
Serjeant-at-arms to the King, and also, one Richard Somenour, of the
Parish of Stebenhuthe; all of whom they beheaded in the place called
‘Tourhille,’ without the said Tower; and then carrying their heads
through the City upon lances, they set them up on London Bridge, fixing
them there on stakes.

Upon the same day there was also no little slaughter within the City,
as well of natives as of aliens. Richard Lions, citizen and vintner of
the said City, and many others, were beheaded in Chepe. In the Vintry
also, there was a very great massacre of Flemings, and in one heap
there were lying about forty headless bodies of persons who had been
dragged forth from the churches and their houses; and hardly was there
a street in the City in which there were not bodies lying of those who
had been slain. Some of the houses also in the said City were pulled
down, and others in the suburbs destroyed, and some too, burnt.

Such tribulation as this, greater and more horrible than could be
believed by those who had not seen it, lasted down to the hour of
Vespers on the following day, which was Saturday, the 15th of June;
on which day God sent remedy for the same, and His own gracious aid,
by the hand of the most renowned man, Sir William Walworthe, the then
Mayor; who in Smethefelde, in presence of our Lord the King and those
standing by him, lords, knights, esquires, and citizens on horseback,
on the one side, and the whole of this infuriated rout on the other,
most manfully, by himself, rushed upon the captain of the said
multitude, ‘Walter Tylere’ by name, and, as he was altercating with the
King and the nobles, first wounded him in the neck with his sword, and
then hurled him from his horse, mortally pierced in the breast; and
further, by favour of the divine grace, so defended himself from those
who had come with him, both on foot and horseback, that he departed
from thence unhurt, and rode on with our Lord the King and his people,
towards a field near to the spring that is called ‘Whittewellebeche’;
in which place, while the whole of the infuriated multitude in warlike
manner was making ready against our Lord the King and his people,
refusing to treat of peace except on condition that they should first
have the head of the said Mayor, the Mayor himself, who had gone into
the City at the instance of our Lord the King, in the space of half an
hour sent and led forth therefrom so great a force of citizen warriors
in aid of his Lord the King, that the whole multitude of madmen was
surrounded and hemmed in; and not one of them would have escaped, if
our Lord the King had not commanded them to be gone.


From Froissart’s _Chronicles_.]

Therefore our Lord the King returned into the City of London with the
greatest of glory and honour, and the whole of this profane multitude
in confusion fled forthwith for concealment in their affright.

For this same deed our Lord the King, beneath his standard, in the said
field with his own hands decorated with the order of knighthood the
said Mayor, and Sir Nicholas Brembre, and Sir John Phelipot, who had
already been Mayors of the said City; as also Sir Robert Launde.”

“Jack Straw” before his execution made a full confession. It has been
doubted whether this confession is genuine, but it seems possible and
even probable. They promised to have masses said for his soul (which
assured him that it was purgatory to which he would be sent) and on
this promise he declared that they had intended to seize the King, to
carry him about in order to reassure the people, and in the end to kill
him and all who were set in authority. They were going to spare the
mendicant friars alone. And they were going to set up separate kingdoms
all over the country.

The doctrines of Wyclyf’s preachers and “simple priests” certainly made
this rebellion possible: they filled the minds of the rustics with new
ideas of equality and right; they made them question authority; they
made it possible for them to unite. As regards London, on inquiry after
the rebellion, it was proved that two hundred persons had left the City
in consequence, which does not seem to show that Lollardy was advanced
by the rebels, or that there was any sympathy extended to them from
the Lollards of the City. Now London at this time, Walsingham says,
was full of Lollards—they were all Lollards. A little later than this
even Whittington was accused of being _male credulus_. As regards the
word Lollard its true meaning has been ascertained by Professor Skeat
(_Piers the Plowman_, Early Eng. Text Soc., vol. iv. p. 86). There was
a sect in Brabant before Wyclyf was born who were called Lollards....
“Sive Deum laudantes,” says one writer. “Mussitatores,” _i.e._ mumblers
of prayers, says another. The name of Lollard, a term of reproach in
Brabant, was borrowed from that country and applied to the followers
of Wyclyf in order to render them unpopular. The word _lollere_ or
_loller_—one who lolls, an indolent person—had nothing to do with
the word Lollard: nor with the Latin _lolium_, tares, which was also
pressed into the service in order to make the new opinions unpopular.

After the murder of Archbishop Sudbury, William Courtenay became
Archbishop of Canterbury: he was a man of high birth, a scholar,
one of a temper which would not bear opposition, and one who held
the strongest views as to authority and the power of the Church. He
naturally saw in the late dangerous rising of the people a blow against
authority, which he also ascribed, quite reasonably, to the teaching
and the influence of Wyclyf. The doctrines of the rebel leaders were,
however, an exaggeration and perversion of those taught by Wyclyf. And
we must remember that Jack Straw looked forward to a time when the
Franciscans should inherit the whole earth, an aspiration certainly
not shared by Wyclyf. Twice had Wyclyf been summoned to appear before
an ecclesiastical court. Courtenay called a Court and again summoned
Wyclyf to appear. He was probably prevented by a stroke of paralysis,
for he did not come. The Court was held in his absence in the Great
Hall of the Black Friars. There were assembled (see Milman’s _Latin
Christianity_, v. 509) eight Bishops, fourteen Doctors in Civil and
Canon Law, six Bachelors of Divinity, four monks, fifteen Mendicant
Friars, not one being a Franciscan, which is significant. Twenty-four
articles were gathered out of the writings of Wyclyf, all to be
condemned. In order to give these scenes great solemnity, a procession
of clergy and laity walked barefoot to St. Paul’s to hear a sermon on
the subject. (See Appendix I.).


 _Etch^d. By. J Harris_


From Froissart’s _Chronicles_.]

There is the significant fact that in 1393 the Archbishop of York and
the Bishop of London complained formally to the King of the Mayor,
Aldermen, and Sheriffs—Whittington being then one of the Sheriffs—as
_male creduli_, upholders of Lollards, detractors of religious persons,
detainers of tithes, and defrauders of the poor. Richard II.’s “Good
Queen Anne” was a Wyclyfite. She read the Gospels for herself in
English, in Bohemian, and in Latin. Nobles and knights, among them
Sir John Oldcastle, sometimes called Lord Cobham, and the Earl of
Salisbury, were avowed Wyclyfites. Even among the monks themselves
there were Lollards. Peter Patishull, an Augustinian monk, and
actually one of the Pope’s chaplains, preached plain Wyclyfism at St.
Christopher’s Church, close to the monastery of St. Augustine. And he
affixed a written document to the doors of St. Paul’s, stating that
“he had escaped from the companionship of the worst of men”—meaning
his brethren of St. Augustine’s—“to the most perfect and holy life of
the Lollards.” And again there is that most remarkable Petition of the
London Lollards to Parliament. Remember that these words were written a
hundred and fifty years before the Dissolution of the Religious Houses.
They were the opinions of the common people put into articulate speech
by such men as Peter Patishull. The document is, as Dean Milman says,
“vehemently anti-papal, anti-Roman.”

 “Since the Church of England, fatally following that of Rome, has been
 endowed with temporalities, Faith, Hope, and Charity have deserted
 her communion. Their Priesthood is no Priesthood: men in mortal sin
 cannot convey the Holy Ghost. The clergy profess celibacy but from
 their pampered living are unable to practise it. The pretended miracle
 of Transubstantiation leads to idolatry. Exorcism or Benedictions
 are vain, delusive, and diabolical. The realm cannot prosper so long
 as spiritual persons hold secular offices. One who unites these two
 is a hermaphrodite. All chantries of prayer for the dead should be
 suppressed: one hundred religious houses would be enough for the
 spiritual wants of the realm. Pilgrimages, the worshipping of the
 Cross or images, or reliques, is idolatry. Auricular confession,
 indulgences, are mischievous or a mockery. Capital punishments are to
 be abolished as contrary to the New Testament. Convents of females
 are defiled by licentiousness and the worst crimes. All trades which
 minister to pride or luxury, especially goldsmiths and sword cutlers,
 are unlawful.” (_Latin Christianity._)

London was placarded with these manifestoes, half wise, half foolish.
The Archbishop of York and the Bishop of London hastily summoned
Richard from Ireland by information that an outbreak of Lollards was at
hand. Probably fear and hatred exaggerated the danger. Then came the
deposition of Richard, the accession of Henry and his declaration that
he would support the Church. For a time the Lollards were quiet.

Returning to City history it was perhaps in the hope of increasing
the popularity of the King that Brembre in 1383 issued a proclamation
“concerning the liberties lately granted to the Citizens of London by
the Lord King in his Parliament.”

The substance of the Charter is given in the _Liber Albus_. It was
obtained partly by the good offices of the Queen, and partly by an
advance, loan, or gift of 4000 marks.


From Froissart’s _Chronicles_.]

In the year 1392 the King, wanting money as usual, ordered every
London citizen who possessed an estate worth £40 at least to take up
the honour of knighthood for which heavy fees would have to be paid.
The Sheriffs reported, however, that all tenements and rents in
the City were “held of the King _in capite_ as for burgage at a fee
farm (_ad feodi firmam_); that the tenements were constantly in need
of repair, and that it was impossible to make such a return as the
King desired. The King had to withdraw the order. But he had a new
quarrel with the City: he offered some jewels as security for a loan;
the citizens said they were too poor to advance the money; therefore
the King sent to a certain Lombard who promised to find the money; in
order to get it, he himself borrowed of the citizens. Another version
of the story is that the citizens learning that this Lombard, one of
the Pope’s licensed usurers, had advanced the money, fell upon him and
beat him grievously. If this story is true the reasons were probably
the general ill feeling towards foreigners always existing in the City,
and next, a special rage that this man should have become so rich.
Richard heard of this; for the moment he said nothing, for he was in
some respects a most self-restrained prince, though at all times most
revengeful. Moreover, he had another quarrel with the City on account
of the side they took in the late troubles. His chance came. It began
with a loaf of bread snatched from a baker’s tray by a servant of the
Bishop of Salisbury, named Roman, in Fleet Street. The baker, as the
tale is told, naturally resented the robbery and tried to recover his
loaf: in the scuffle he was wounded by the said Roman—probably they had
both drawn their knives. A crowd collected; Roman’s fellow-servants
rescued him, dragged him into the house and refused to give him up.
The crowding people round the gates bawled that they would set fire to
the place in order to get the man out. The Mayor and Sheriffs hurried
to the spot and with some difficulty persuaded the people to go home,
before violence was done. Here the affair, really a trifle, should have
ended. But the Bishop of Salisbury, who is said to have desired an
opportunity to do the City a bad turn, hurried to the King and asked if
the Londoners were to be allowed with impunity to insult the Church and
defy the State.” “Certainly not,” said Richard; “if necessary I will
raze the City to the ground.” He ordered the Mayor, the Sheriffs, the
Aldermen, and four-and-twenty principal men of the City to attend him
to Nottingham there to answer for these grievous disorders.

It was very soon discovered that the King meant mischief. The citizens
threw themselves upon his mercy as the shortest and perhaps the
cheapest way out of the quarrel. He committed the Mayor to prison at
Windsor, and the Sheriffs to Odysham and Wallingford. He then appointed
a commission under the Great Seal—his uncles the Dukes of York and
Gloucester being the Commissioners—to inquire into the misgovernment of
the City. The prisoners had to pay a fine of 1000 marks for the first
offence, whatever that was, of which they were convicted; 2000 marks
for the second; and in the third the Liberties of the City were seized
by the King, contrary to the Charters. The Mayor was degraded, the
Sheriffs and Aldermen deposed and others appointed in their place, and
a Custos was given to the City—Sir Edward Dalyngrigge. Richard then
summoned the Aldermen to Windsor and imposed a fine of £100,000 upon
the City. But it does not appear that he meant it to be paid, for in
the following month he announced his intention of riding through the
City. Then the citizens humbled themselves and made a very expensive
effort to win back the King’s favour. They prepared a most magnificent
reception for him. First, at St. George’s Church, Southwark, he was met
by the Bishop of London, all the clergy, and five hundred choristers in
surplices: at London Bridge he was presented with a splendid charger
richly clad in cloth of gold, and to the Queen was given a stately
white pad with rich furniture: the streets through which he passed were
lined with the City Companies in order: the conduits ran wine: and
the people shouted. At the Standard in Cheapside stood a boy in white
raiment, representing an angel, who presented the King a crown of gold
and the Queen with another: he also offered wine from a golden cup.
Then the Mayor and the City Fathers rode with the King to Westminster.
The next day, to complete this show of loyalty, they sent the King two
silver gilt basins in each of which lay a thousand nobles of gold: and
a picture of the Trinity said to have been valued at eight hundred
pounds—one cannot believe there was then any picture in the world
valued at so much. The King remitted the fine of £100,000 and restored
the Charters.

The citizens on receiving back their Charters proceeded to institute
certain reforms. They resolved that their Aldermen should be elected
for life, and not year by year: a measure which diminished the factious
quarrels over the elections. They also divided the Ward of Farringdon
into two.

In the year 1394 the Queen Anne of Bohemia died. She had the reputation
of being a good friend to the City. In the Latin poem of “Richard of
Maidstone” (Camden Society, _Deposition of Richard the Second_), the
Queen is represented as pleading with the King for the City:—

    Ingreditur Regina suis comitata puellis,
      Pronaque regales corruit ante pedes.
    Erigitur, mandante viro, “Quid,” ait, “petis Anna,
      Exprime, de votis expediere tuis.”

_Supplicatio Reginae pro eisdem civibus._

    “Dulcis,” ait, “mi Rex, mihi vir, mihi vis, mihi vita,
      Dulcis amor, sine quo vivere fit mihi mors.
    Regibus in cunctis similem quis possidet urbem?
      Quae velut haec hodie magnificaret eum?
    Et rogo constanter per eum quem fertis amorem
      Ad me, condignum si quid amore gero,
    Parcere dignemini plebibus, qui tanta dedere
      Munera tam prompte nobis ad obsequia.
    Et placeat veteri nunc urbem reddere juri,
      Ac libertates restituisse suas.”

Two years later the King went through the form of marriage with the
French princess Isabel who was brought over at the age of eight. The
Mayor and Aldermen went out to meet the “little Queen” at Blackheath,
and escorted her to Kennington Palace, and the next day from that
Palace to the Tower, the roads and streets being crowded with an
innumerable throng.

The extravagance of the King had now become an intolerable burden to
the country, especially to London. He is said to have maintained 10,000
persons at his Court. There were 300 employed in the kitchen alone.
There was never any prince who clad himself more gorgeously: one cloak
he had made of gold and silver cloth studded with jewels which cost
him £2000, or about £40,000 of our money. He seems to have been unable
to understand the meaning of money or the relation between things he
desired, and the taxable wealth of the country. His last method of
extortion was to issue blank charters which the merchants were to sign
and he was to fill up at his pleasure. This proved too much for the
long-suffering City. John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, had recently
died; so they sent for his son Henry, Duke of Lancaster.


From MS. in British Museum. Harl. 1319.]

The rest is history; Henry came, was received with acclamations by
the City, a company of 1200 Londoners, fully armed, was raised for
him; he marched out with them and with others and seized the King
whom he brought back to London with him. The rabble wanted to murder
their former idol on the way. The Recorder with a great number of
Knights and Esquires went out to meet Lancaster and his captive. In
the name of the City this functionary begged Henry to behead the King.
Perhaps, however, the story is not true. Holinshed simply speaks of the
immense joy of the people, and says that “many evil-disposed persons,
assembling themselves together in great numbers, intended to have met
with him and to have taken him from such as had the conveying of him,
that they might have slain him.”


From Froissart’s _Chronicles_.]

In the Parliament which was called on the arrival of the King at the
Tower, thirty-three articles were drawn up showing that he was worthy
of deposition. These articles were read at the Guildhall. The King,
brought to Westminster, read publicly the renunciation of his Crown.



We have now to consider a rare event in the history of London—the
accession of a sovereign who honestly maintained friendly relations
with the City of London and respected its liberties. The note of
conciliation was struck at the Coronation Banquet, at which the Mayor
and Aldermen claimed and were assigned places of honour and their
right of assisting the Chief Butler. Let us assist at one of the many
mediæval banquets—we can do so by the help of Fabyan:—

[Illustration: HENRY IV (1367-1413)

From portrait in the possession of the Earl of Essex.]

“Upon Monday, beyng the day of seynt Edwarde and the xiii day of
October, the King was crowned at Westmynster of the archebysshop of
Canterbury: after which solempnyte fynysshed, an honourable feest was
holden within the great halle of Westmynster, where the kynge beynge
set in the mydde see of the table the Archebysshop of Canterbury with
iii other prelates were set at the same table upon the right hande of
the kynge, and the archebysshop of Yorke with other iiii prelatys was
sette upon that other hande of the kynge, and Henry the kynges eldest
sone stoode upon the right hande with a poyntlesse swerde holdynge up
right and the erle of Northumberlande, newely made constable, stode
upon the lefte hande with a sharpe swerde holden up right, and by
eyther of those swerdys stode ii other lordys holding ii cepters. And
before the kynge stode all the dyner whyle the dukys of Amorarle,
of Surrey, and of Exetyr, with other ii lordys. And the erle of
Westmerlande, that newely made marshall, rode about the halle with
many typped staves about hym, to see the roume of the halle kept, that
offycers myght with ease serue the tables. Of the whyche tables the
chief upon the ryght syde of the halle was begunne with the barons of
the v portys, and at the table next the cupborde upon the lefte hande,
sate the mayer and his bretherne the aldermen of London, which mayer
that tyme beynge Drewe Barentyne, goldsmyth, for servyce there by hym
that daye done, as other mayers at every kyngs and quenys coronacion
use for to do, had there a standynge cuppe of gold. Then after the
seconde course was servyd, Syr Thomas Dymmoke, knyght, benyng armed
at all peacis, and syttynge upon a good stede, rode to the hygher
parte of the halle and there before the kyng caused an herowde to
make proclamacyon, that what man wolde saye that Kynge Henry was
not rightfull enherytoure of the crowne of Englonde, and rightfully
crownyd, he was there redy to wage with him batayll then, or sych tyme
as it shuld please the kynge to assynge. Whiche proclamacion he causyd
to be made after in iii sundry places of the halle in Englysshe and in
Frenshe, with many more observauncies at his solempnytie exercysyd and
done whiche were longe to reherse.”

The reign began with the very remarkable conspiracy formed by the
Abbot of Westminster, and the Lords of Albemarle, Surrey, Exeter, and
Salisbury and Gloucester. This rebellion was speedily put down with
the help of the Londoners, and the chiefs of the rebellion were all
beheaded. The Abbot of Westminster was struck by paralysis. It was
probably in consequence of this rebellion, and the knowledge that there
would be more risings as long as Richard lived, that he was murdered at
Pontefract. But his death did not put a stop to conspiracies.

Early in the second year of Henry there were more executions for
treason, viz. Sir Roger Claryngton, two of his servants, and eight
Franciscan friars. London Bridge and the City Gates were decorated with
the heads of the traitors. In the year 1404 one of the murderers of the
late Duke of Gloucester at Calais was arrested and brought to London,
where he was tried, found guilty and drawn all the way to Tyburn, to be
hanged and quartered. The next year the Archbishop of York and Lord
Mowbray rebelled, were defeated, and taken. As a new thing in the land
the Archbishop was beheaded as well as the noble. The general horror
aroused by this execution of a Prelate is shown by the story that grew
up. “The Archbishop,” it was said, “in worship of Christ’s five wounds,
entreated the executioner to strike him five times. At each stroke the
King sitting in his lodging felt that stroke exactly as if some person
were striking him. And shortly after he was stricken with leprosy, so
that he recognised the hand of God. And soon after God shewyd many
miracles for the sayde Bishop, which called the Kynge into the more

In 1407 there was an ordeal by battle held at Smithfield between “one
named the Welsh Clerk” and a knight, Sir Percyval Sowdan. The latter
was accused by the clerk of treason. They fought for a “season,” but
the clerk proved recreant: therefore they took off his armour; laid him
on a hurdle and so to Tyburn, where he met the usual death. In the same
year London Bridge received the heads of the Earl of Northumberland and
Lord Bardolf. And after these examples the land for a brief season had
rest from rebellions.

Returning to the relations of the City and the King. Henry granted a
Charter the provisions of which are enumerated in the _Liber Albus_.
They confirm the fullest liberties, and privileges are granted to
the City. He also repealed the Act (27 Ed. III.) by which the Mayor,
Aldermen, and Sheriffs were liable to be tried by a foreign inquest
taken from the counties of Kent, Sussex, Essex, Hertfordshire, Bucks,
and Berks, together with the penalties and forfeitures belonging to
the Act; he gave the London merchants the same liberty of packing
their cloths as was enjoyed by the foreigners; and he won the favour
of the commonalty by allowing all fishermen foreign or not, provided
they belonged to countries at amity with the King, to sell fish in
the London market. The first appearance of Free Trade, it will be
seen, is intended to cheapen provisions. The City was able to show its
readiness to support the King in the business of the conspiracy above
mentioned. When Henry went to meet the rebels it was with an army of
twenty thousand men, among whom was a strong contingent of six thousand
Londoners. They were rewarded by a Charter giving them, with the
custody of the City, all the Gates and Fortresses, the collection of
the Tolls and Customs in Cheap, Billingsgate, and Smithfield, and also
the Tronage or weighing of lead, wax, pepper, alum, madder, etc.


From Froissart’s _Chronicles_.]

Whether honestly or not, there were many who professed to believe that
the late King Richard was still living, and one William Serle was
active in spreading abroad this persuasion. Yet Henry had caused the
face of the dead King to be exposed when the body was brought to London
in order that there might be no possible doubt. Serle was arrested at
length and brought to London, where he was executed at Tyburn. But
still the delusion lingered on. Sixteen years later one Thomas Ward,
called “Trumpyngtone,” personated the King, and two London citizens
named Benedict Wolman and Thomas Bikering hatched a conspiracy to
produce the false Richard. They were, however, arrested: one of them
died in prison, the other was executed. Four years later, when Ward was
dead, two more Londoners were arrested for keeping up the mischievous
story. One of them was released, the other was kept in prison.

The Church and the clergy at that time had grave cause for anxiety. The
spirit of discontent was abroad. It was shown by the late rebellion
of the Essex and the Kentish men; it was shown by the falling off
in bequests and donations and foundations of chantries, obits, and
anniversaries; it was shown by the general hatred of the mendicant
orders, and especially of the Franciscans, formerly so widely, and
so deservedly loved; it was shown by the murmurings, deep and low,
against the wealth of the Church, against the laziness and luxury of
the Religious, against the general immorality imputed, rightly or
wrongly, to the Ecclesiastics of all kinds—there were sixty clerks in
Holy Orders caught in the act of adultery in the years 1400 to 1440:
there were notoriously women who kept disorderly houses for priests and
procured girls for them (see Riley’s _Memorials_). The spirit of revolt
was shown by the action of the City when it prayed for the dissolution
of St. Martin’s Sanctuary on the ground that the place was a mere
receptacle of murderers, thieves, and bankrupts; it was shown most
decisively and unmistakably in the remarkable prayer of Parliament that
the King would take over into his own hands the whole of the Church
lands. This petition demands larger notice. The following is Fabyan’s

“In this yere (xi Henry IV.) the kyng helde his parliament at
Westmynster, during the whiche the commons of this lande put up a
bylle to the kyng, to take the temporall landes out from spiritual
mene’s handes or possession. The effect of whiche bylle was, that the
temporaltes, disordynately wasted by men of the churche, myghte suffice
to find for the kyng xv erles, xv C knyghts, xi M and CC esquyers and
C houses of almes, to the releef of poore people, more than at these
dayes were within Englande. And over all thyse aforesayd charges the
kynge myght put yerely in his coffers xx M pounds. Provyded that every
erle should have of yerely rent iii M marke, every knyght an C marke
& iiii ploughe lande, every esquyer xl marke by yere, with ii plughe
land, and every house of almesse an C marke and oversyght of ii trewe
seculers into every house. And also with provicion that every township
shoulde kepe all poore people of theyr owne dwellers, whiche myght
not labour for theyr lyvynge, with condycyon that if more fell in a
towne than the towne myght maynteyn, that the said almesse houses to
releve suche townshyppes. And for to bere thyse charges, they allegyd
by theyr sayd bylle, that the temporalyties beyng in the possession of
spirituell men, amounted to CCC and xxii M marke by yere, whereof they
affermyd to be in the see of Caunterbury, with the abbeys of Cristes
Churche, of Seynt Augustyns, Shrowsbury, Coggeshale, and Seynt Osiys xx
M marke by yere.

In the see of Durham and other abbeys there, xx M marke: in the
see of York & abbays there, xx M marke: in the see of Wynchester &
abbays there, xx M marke: in the see of London with abbays and other
houses there, xx M marke: in the see of Lincoln, with the abbays of
Peterbourth, Ramsay, & other, xx M marke: in the see of Norwych, with
the abbays of Bury and other, xx M marke: in the see of Hely, with
the abbays of Hely, Spaldyng, & other, xx M marke: in the see of
Bathe, with the abbay of Okynborne & other, xx M marke: in the see of
Worceter, with the abbays of Euisham, Abyngdon, & other, xx M marke:
in the see of Chester with precinct of the same, with the sees of
Seynt Davyd of Salisbury & Exceter, with theyr precinctes, xx M marke:
the abbays of Ravens, or Revans, of Founteyns, of Geruons, and dyvers
other, to the number of five more, xx M marke: the abbays of Leyceter,
Waltham, Gisbourne, Merton, Circetir, Osney, & other, to the number of
vi more, xx M marke: the abbays of Dovers, Batell, Lewis, Coventre,
Daventry, & Tourney, xx M marke: the abbays of Northampton, Thornton,
Brystow, Kelyngworth, Wynchecombe, Hayles, Parchissor, Frediswyde,
Notley, and Grymysby, xx M marke.

The which foresayd sumes amounte to the full of CCC M marke: and for
the odde xxii M marke, they appointed Herdford, Rochester, Huntyngdon,
Swyneshede, Crowlande, Malmesbury, Burton, Tewkisbury, Dunstable,
Shirborn, Taunton, & Bylande.

And over this, they allegyd by the sayd byll, that over and above the
sayd sume of CCC & xxii M marke dyvers houses of relygon in Englande,
possessyd as many temporalties as might suffyce to fynde yerely xv M
preestes & clerkes, every preest to be allowed for his stipende vii
marke by yere.

To the which byll none answere was made, but that the kyng of this
matyer wolde take delybracion & advycement, and with that answer it

This estimate of the revenues of the various religious houses at the
enormous sum of 322,000 marks, or £216,000 sterling, a sum which we
must multiply by fifteen or twenty in order to get an approximation to
our money, would thus be equivalent to a revenue of from three millions
to four millions and a quarter. If we bear in mind the vast extent of
the country then lying waste, untilled, and uncleared, merely forest
land, we can understand the enormous proportion which the lands of the
Church bore to the rest of the cultivated soil. The Religious Houses
of London (not including Westminster) were set down at 20,000 marks or
£13,333 a year, equivalent to £200,000 a year of our money.

In the next reign (2 Henry V.) the Commons returned to the subject, and
sent up the same Bill. And this in the face of the recent severities
towards the Lollards. Fabyan asserts that in fear lest the King should
give to this Bill a “comfortable audyence,” certain Bishops and other
head men of the Church reminded him of his claims upon France, and
he says also that this Bill was the cause of the French wars which
followed. It might have been one of the causes, perhaps; Henry V. was
the last man to quarrel with the Church or to deprive the Church of
her lands; at the same time, his title to the throne was accounted
defective—there were many elements of trouble; there were nobles to
conciliate; there were towns to please. He would not willingly create
new enemies; a successful foreign war is always most popular; what
the Black Prince achieved,—the same popularity, the same splendid
reputation,—he might also achieve. The King therefore gently laid aside
the Bill and presently embarked upon his war with France.

The clergy knew perfectly well that the main cause of the national
discontent with the existing forms and institutions of religion was the
teaching of the Wyclyfite.


From the engraving by R. Elstrack.]

It was, indeed, to be expected that his preaching would be popular in
all classes down to the very humblest. How should it be otherwise? He
addressed all who could be moved by noble and generous inspirations. He
preached against the enormous wealth of the clergy and the Religious
Houses, wealth which choked up and destroyed the springs of piety;
against the vices which too many of the clergy flaunted impudently
in the face of the world, sloth, luxury, gluttony, intemperance,
and incontinence: he preached in favour of personal righteousness,
purity, and faith: it is significant that no new Monastic Houses were
founded; that on the other hand, men like Whittington, Carpenter,
Niel, and Sevenoke, in the City were founding schools, endowing
libraries, rebuilding prisons, erecting almshouses, but never endowing
monasteries. Whittington, for instance, gave a library to Grey Friars:
he built and endowed an almshouse called God’s House: he founded the
College of the Holy Spirit for five fellows, clerks, conducts, and
servants: he restored the hospital of St. Bartholomew: he provided
“bosses” or taps of fresh water in various parts of London: he rebuilt
Newgate: he gave money for a library at the Guildhall. Of other civic
benefactors in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries we must record
the names of Sir John Philpot, who destroyed the pirates: of Sir
William Sevenoke, who founded a grammar school in his native town: of
Sir Robert Chichele, who gave money to provide a dinner and two-pence
once a year to 2400 poor householders: of Sir John Wells, who brought
water from Tyburn: of Sir William Estfried, who constructed a conduit
from Highbury to Cripplegate: of John Carpenter, town clerk, who has
given us the _Liber Albus_, and who founded a small charity which in
time grew into the City of London School: of Sir John Niel, master
of the hospital of St. Thomas Acon in Chepe, who proposed to found
four new City schools: of William Byngham, who founded at Cambridge
the small college called God’s House for twenty-four scholars, which
afterwards developed into the illustrious and venerable College of
Christ: of William Elsinge, who founded the Spital for a hundred poor
men which afterwards became Sion College: of John Barnes, who left
money to be lent to young men beginning in business: of Philip Malpas,
who left the then large sum of £125 a year for the relief of poor
prisoners, besides great benefactions to the poor, and a sum of money
then yielding £25 a year for Preachers on the three Easter Holydays at
St. Mary Spital. When we remember that a priest could then live on £6 a
year—does that include his lodging?—the remuneration for three sermons
seems generous indeed. Robert Large belongs to the latter half of the
fifteenth century: he left a great sum of money in various bequests,
including the very useful charity of a marriage _dot_ for poor Maids.
There were others, but these may suffice. They sufficiently prove the
wealth of the donors, because a man thinks first of his own children
or nephews: when he has provided for them, and not till then, he may
consider how best to dispose of the residue. They prove also what is
known from other sources of information that the endowment of monastic
houses had practically ceased. Whittington, it is true, founded a
college, but the chief duty of the Fellows was to sing masses daily and
for ever for the repose of his own soul and that of his wife. I know
nothing that shows the decay of the old belief in monks and friars more
clearly than the list of fourteenth and fifteenth century benefactions
and endowments. “Let us have libraries for scholars, and almshouses
for the aged poor,” says Whittington, and endowed them. “Let us have
schools,” says Sevenoke, Carpenter, and Byngham, and they endow them.
But for the rich monks of the Holy Trinity, St. Mary of Grace, of St.
Albans, of St. Peter’s—nothing.


  _Grove and Boulton._


Henry could not afford to quarrel either with the Church or with the
City. He passed the statute _De comburendis haereticis_ and the Bishops
began to light those baleful fires of Smithfield which, far more than
wealth, far more than luxury, alienated the hearts of the people from
the Church.

The first of London Martyrs was a priest of St. Osyth’s in the City.
At the head of a narrow lane south of Cheapside called Size Lane—or
St. Osyth’s Lane—is one of those tiny enclosures which in the City
mark the site of a former church and churchyard, encroached upon by
successive generations, surrounded by high walls, a melancholy reminder
of the past. Here was the church of St. Osyth, and on this spot were
preached the doctrines of Wyclyf by William Sautre. He was chosen as
the first victim on account of his personal popularity. The greater the
man, the more terrible would be the example. Already he had been tried
and convicted of heresy. He was now tried and convicted as a relapsed
heretic. He denied the doctrine of transubstantiation, which has always
been the heretic’s stumbling-block. They burned him at Smithfield after
a ceremony of degradation at St. Paul’s. Sharpe thinks that he was
sentenced by special order of the King, because it took place before
the passing of the Statute.

In the year 1410 was burnt a humble working man, a tailor—but the
_Chronicle_ and Stow call him a clerk—of Worcester, named John Bradby.
The Prince of Wales, already a zealot in the cause of orthodoxy, was
present. The poor wretch was placed in a cask surrounded with faggots.
At the agonised shrieks of the wretched man, the Prince ordered him to
be taken out, and offered him life and enough to live upon if he would
confess the true faith. The man refused and was put back again into the
cask. The story is thus related in the _Chronicle_:—

 “This same yere there was a clerk that beleved nought on the sacrament
 of the auter, that is to seye Godes body, which was dampned and
 brought into Smythfield to be brent, and was bounde to a stake where
 he schulde be brent. And Henry, prynce of Walys, thanne the kynges
 eldest sone, consailed him for to as forsake his heresye, and holde
 the righte wey of holy chirche. And the prior of seynt Bertelmewes in
 Smythfield broughte the holy sacrament of Godes body, with xii torches
 lyght before, and in this wyse cam to this cursed heretyk: and it was
 asked hym how he beleved: and he ansuerde, that he belevyd well that
 it was halowed bred and nought Godes body: and thanne was the toune
 put over him, and fyre kindled thereinne: and whanne the wrecche
 felte the fyre he cried mercy: and annon the prynce comanded to take
 away the toune and to quench the fyre, the whiche was don anon at his
 comaundement: and thanne the prynce asked him if he would forsake his
 heresye and taken hym to the feith of holy chirche, whiche if he wold
 don, he schuld have hys lyf and good ynowe to lyven by: and the cursed
 schrewe wold nought, but contynued forth in his heresye: wherefore he
 was brent.”

Besides the weapon of the stake the King gave the clergy other help in
suppressing heresy. He put a price upon the head of Sir John Oldcastle,
Lord Cobham, who was considered the leader of the Lollards. His
importance is indicated by the huge rewards offered for his capture.
Information which would lead to his arrest would be rewarded by 500
marks: actual arrest would be rewarded with a thousand marks: the city
or borough which should take him should be forever free of all taxes,
tallages, tenths, fifteenths, and other assessments. Conventicles were
forbidden; and, to prevent the performance of heretical services, no
one was allowed to enter a church after nine in the evening or before
five in the morning.

In the year 1407 there occurred a pestilence in the City which carried
off, Stow says, thirty thousand in London alone. Nothing, however, is
said about it in Holinshed, or in the _Chronicle_.

In 1409 there was a great and noble tournament held between the
Hainaulters and the English.

In order to gratify the richer part of the commonalty by keeping out
the country, those who flocked into the towns and wanted to learn
trades and be apprenticed, Henry passed a law forbidding any to be
apprenticed who had not land to the extent of 20s. a year. The act was
repealed, however, in the next reign.

Everything points to a condition of great prosperity in the City before
the outbreak of the Wars of the Roses. After every restoration of order
the prosperity of London goes up by leaps and bounds. Many important
buildings were erected: the Guildhall was removed to its present site
from its former site in Aldermanbury “and of an olde and lytel cottage,
made unto a fayre and goodly house”: Leadenhall Market was built: the
walls of the City were repaired and strengthened: the City Ditch was
drained out and cleaned: a new gate was built: the streets were lit at
night, or ordered to be lit, which is not quite the same thing: and,
as we have seen, the rich merchants gave large and costly gifts to the

The consideration and respect in which the City was held at this time
is illustrated by the fact that when Parliament granted the King a
shilling in the pound on all lands they placed the money in the hands
of four Treasurers, three of whom were citizens of London.

In the year 1412 the Sheriffs were called upon to prepare a return of
the amount of lands and Tenements held in the City—for purposes of
taxation. The gross rental of the whole City was returned at £4220, or,
in our money, about £60,000, which would not now represent Cheapside
alone. But comparisons based on the assumed modern value of money
at any period are at best unsatisfactory. How, for instance, can we
reconcile the fact that Richard Whittington’s estate was worth no more
than £25 a year with the great sums which he possessed and spent?

The death of King Henry is a thrice-told tale. Let Fabyan tell the
story:—it belongs to the Annals of Westminster.

  “In this yere, and xx days of the moneth of November, was a great
 counsayll holden at the Whyte Freres of London, by the whiche it was
 amonge other thynges concluded, that for the kynges great journaye
 that he entendyd to take, in vysytynge of the holy sepulcre of our
 Lord, certayne galeys of warre shuld be made & other pursueaunce
 concernynge the same journay. Whereupon all hasty and possyble spede
 was made: but after the feest of Christenmasse, whyle he was makynge
 his prayers at Seynt Edwardes shryne, to take there his leve, and so
 to spede hym upon his journaye, he became so syke, that such as were
 about him feryd that he wolde have dyed right there: wherefore they,
 for his comforte, bare hym into the abbottes place, & lodgyd him in
 a chamber, & there upon a paylet, layde him before the fyre, where
 he laye in great agony a certayne of tyme. At length, whan he was
 comyn to himselfe nat knowynge where he was, freyned of suche as then
 were aboute hym, what place that was: the which shewyd to him that it
 belongyd unto the abbot of Westmynster: and, for he felte himselfe so
 syke, he commaunded to aske if that chamber had any specyall name:
 whereunto it was answeryd, that it was named Jerusalem. Than sayd the
 kynge, louvynge be to the Fader of Heven, for noew I knowe I shall dye
 in this chamber, accordyng to the prophecye of me beforesayd, that I
 shulde dye in Jerusalem: and so after he made himself redy, and dyed
 shortly after.”

Other details given by Monstrelet bear the stamp of truth.

 “The king,” he says, “in great pain and weakness lay before the fire,
 his crown on a cushion beside him. They thought him dead. Then the
 Prince took up the crown. But the king recovered, it was a fainting
 fit before the end. ‘Fair son,’ he asked, ‘why hast thou taken my
 crown?’ ‘Monseigneur,’ replied the Prince, ‘here present are those who
 assured me that you were dead, and because I am your eldest son and to
 me will belong the crown when you have passed from life, I have taken
 it.’ Then said the king, with a sigh, ‘Fair son, how should you have
 my right to the crown when I have never had any, and that you know
 well?’ ‘Monseigneur,’ replied the Prince, ‘just as you have held it
 and defended it by the sword, so will I defend it all my life.’ Then
 said the king, ‘Do with it as it seemeth good to thee.’”



[Illustration: HENRY V. (1387-1422)

From the engraving by Greatbach of the picture at Windsor Castle.]

On the night of his father’s funeral, the new King remained in the
Abbey. He spent that night in confessing and praying at the cell of the
anchorite which was outside the Chapel of Saint Catherine where are
now the Little Cloisters. Stanley calls this the Conversion of Henry.
That is because Stanley believed all that has been written about the
youth of Henry—about his wild days, and his wild companions. But this
Prince never existed except in the later popular imagination. That is
to say, it has been clearly proved that he was so much occupied in
Wales and elsewhere during his youth and early manhood that there was
small opportunity for wild revels in London. It must be owned that
there has been a persistent tradition of a stormy time in youth, but
it seems as if the popular imagination had confused Henry with Edward
II. Holinshed, for instance, quotes one:

  Ille inter juvenes paulo lascivior ante,
  Defuncto genitore, gravis constansque repente
  Moribus ablegat corruptis regis ab aula
  Assuetos socios, et nugatoribus acrem
  Poenam (si quisquam sua tecta reviserit) addit,
  Atque ita mutatus facit omnia principe digna,
  Ingenio magno post consultoribus usus, etc. (Vol. iii.)

However this may be, Henry was always open to the influences of
religion. He was crowned on 9th April, Passion Sunday. The coronation
was marred by a heavy thunderstorm with torrents of rain, so that men’s
hearts failed them for fear, thinking of what evil things this portent
might mean. In the end it was recognised as foreshadowing trouble for
the French.

His first act was the removal of King Richard’s body to Westminster
with great pomp and state. He was probably induced to perform this
pious act by the desire to dissociate himself and his father from any
connection with the deposed King’s death. He then, being urged thereto
by Archbishop Arundel, arrested Sir John Oldcastle, but first sent
for him and caused him to explain his faith and teaching. This Sir
John did, declaring the King, and not the Archbishop at all, to be his
supreme judge, and offering to purge himself in battle or to bring
a hundred knights or esquires for his purgation. The King, however,
being advised by his Council, handed him over to be tried by the
Spiritual Courts. The trial was held first in St. Paul’s Cathedral,
and next in the Hall of the Dominicans. The verdict of the Archbishop
was, of course, that Oldcastle was a heretic. He was sent back to the
Tower, whence he managed to escape. And then occurred the mysterious
plot, which one cannot avoid concluding was no more a plot than any
fabricated by Titus Oates. What really happened was this. Sir Roger
Acton, a knight “of great wit and possessions,” one John Browne, an
esquire, and one John Beverley, Priest, and some others were reported
to the King to be gathered together in armour near St. Giles Church.
It was also said that they expected reinforcements in large numbers
from the City: Holinshed says 50,000 were expected; Walsingham puts the
number at 5000. The time of year was soon after Christmas. The King
caused the City gates to be closed, then he repaired to Westminster and
there getting together a sufficient force, rode out to St. Giles where
he found the people assembling at midnight, and falling upon them,
either killed or took them all prisoners. Possibly the leaders proposed
a Lollard demonstration, armed, no doubt, because every one carried
arms for every occasion; certainly, next day the arrest of suspected
persons began: in a short time the City prisons were full: those who
appeared to be the leaders were tried, some for heresy by the clergy,
and some for high treason at the Guildhall. In the end twenty-nine
were either hanged or burned, the latter, for the greater terror,
gallows and all.

This so-called rising gave an occasion for a more severe statute
against the Lollards by which the secular power, no longer contented
with carrying out the sentences of the ecclesiastical courts, undertook
the initiative against heretics. This points to some kind of panic.
Perhaps the clergy had realised the full danger of the Lollard
movement. Early in 1415 Henry sent an offer of pardon to Oldcastle if
he would make submission. He refused, perhaps distrusting the promise,
and, according to Walsingham, prepared for an insurrection as soon
as the King should have gone to France. But the King went to France
not troubling about Oldcastle: and there was no rising. Probably,
therefore, Walsingham imagined or invented this motive. The fires of
martyrdom were lit again that same day. Witness the letter written by
the Mayor or Aldermen to the King, touching the trial and execution of
John Cleydon. The man was a currier by trade: he had in his possession
a number of heretical books, for which he was tried by Archbishop
Chichele in St. Paul’s on 17th August 1415. The king being then in
France, the Mayor himself gave evidence against the prisoner, who was
sentenced to be burned with all his books. The case was deemed of
sufficient importance to demand a special letter to the King, of which
the following is the important part:—

 “Forasmuch as the King of all might and the Lord of Heaven, who of
 late graciously taught your hands to fight, and has guided your feet
 to battle, has now, during your absence, placed in our hands certain
 persons who not only were enemies of Him and of your dignity, but
 also, in so far as they might be, were subverters of the whole of
 your realm: men commonly known as “Lollards” who for long time have
 laboured for the subversion of the whole Catholic Faith and of Holy
 Church, the lessening of public worship, and the destruction of your
 realm, as also the perpetration of very many other enormities horrible
 to hear: the same persons, in accordance with the requirements of law,
 we have unto the Reverend Commissaries of Reverend Father in Christ,
 and Lord, Richard, by Divine permission, the Lord Bishop of London,
 by indenture caused to be delivered. Whereupon one John Cleydone, by
 name, the arch parent of this heretical depravity, was by the most
 reverend Father in Christ, and Lord, Henry, by Divine permission,
 the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of all your realm and
 other Bishops, his brethren, as well as very many Professors of Holy
 Scripture and Doctors of Laws, in accordance with the canonical
 sanctions, by sentence in this behalf lawfully pronounced, as being
 a person relapsed into heresy, which before had been by him abjured,
 left in the hands of the secular Court: for the execution of whose
 body, and the entire destruction of all such enemies, with all
 diligence, to the utmost of our power we shall be assisting.” (Riley’s
 _Memorials_, p. 617.)

We may perhaps see in this letter the desire of the City Fathers to
clear themselves from any suspicion of Lollardy. The worthy citizens
did not desire a reform in church doctrine so much as a return to
simple measures and holy living.

[Illustration: SHIPS AT LA ROCHELLE, 1372

From Froissart’s _Chronicles_.]

For two years Oldcastle led a wandering life with a few companions.
He was once nearly taken at St. Albans, where the Abbot’s servants
heard of him and went out to arrest him. He got away, but some of his
servants were caught: and they found books of devotion upon them in
which the painted heads of the Saints had been scraped off: the names
of the Virgin and of the saints had been blotted: and divers writings
had been made up and down the page in derogation of honour paid to
the Virgin and to the Saints. These books were displayed at Paul’s
Cross to illustrate the extreme wickedness of Lollardy. At length Sir
John Oldcastle was taken by Sir Edward Charlton, Lord of Powis. So
much importance was attached to the capture that Charlton received
a reward of 1000 marks. There does not appear to have been the
slightest grounds for representing this great and noble man, a hundred
and fifty years in advance of his age, as a traitor, a conspirator,
or in any sense hostile to the King. He was free for two years to
work his conspiracies and he refrained. But he was always active in
disseminating Lollard teaching. In 1417 he was hung on a gallows by
chains, and was, it is said, slowly burned to death, at St. Giles,
close to the south end of the present Tottenham Court Road. Like so
many martyrs, like Latimer, like Cranmer, like Ridley, he was sustained
through the fiery torment by the steadfast faith which burned in his
soul more fiercely than the crackling flame without. Before he suffered
he prayed forgiveness for his enemies: he exhorted the people to obey
the Scripture in all things: he refused the ministrations of a priest.
“To God only, now as ever present, he would confess.”

It seems afterwards, amid the wars and strifes and bloodshed of the
century, as if Lollardy was dead. It was not. The memory of Sir John
survived; the teaching of the simple life, the pure life, the chaste
life, remained in men’s hearts and bore fruit when they found time and
opportunity to compare once more the Church of the present with the
Church of the past.

Henry, for the purpose of strengthening his doubtful seat on the throne
by the prestige of victories, resolved upon continuing the foreign
policy of Edward III. On 10th March 1415 he informed the Mayor of his
intention. A great meeting, with the King’s brothers and some of the
Bishops, was held at the Guildhall to consider the question of finance.
This meeting is important because the precedence of the Mayor in the
City was there decided. He was considered as the King’s representative
in the City, and therefore took the highest place with the Bishops on
his right and the King’s brothers on his left. The King pledged his
jewels and the security of his customs for the sum of 20,000 marks.
Later on, the City advanced the sum of 5000 marks and a further sum
of £2000 on the security of a valuable sword set in gold and precious

The conspiracy of the Earl of Cambridge and Lord Scrope, discovered
on the eve of sailing from Southampton, proves that the crown of the
Lancastrian was still insecure. But Henry was going to show himself in
the light of a great captain against whom conspiracies were useless and


From MS. in British Museum. Roy. 20 E vi.]

There was no doubt as to the loyalty of the City under Harry of
Monmouth. When the forces in France were suffering from scarcity of
victuals, the citizens sent off to Rouen thirty butts of sweet wine,
1000 pipes of ale and beer, and 25,000 cups for the men’s use. And they
scoured the City for any vagrant soldiers, whom they shipped off as
they were pressed, to join the army. The news of Agincourt (Oct. 25,
1415) reached London on 28th October when the new Lord Mayor, Nicholas
Wotton, was sworn into office at the Guildhall. He conveyed the news
to the Lord High Chancellor, and they celebrated the event with a Te
Deum at St. Paul’s. On the following day the Mayor, accompanied by the
Aldermen, the companies, and as many of the nobility as had houses
in the City, walked in procession to Westminster, where they made
oblations at the shrine of St. Edward. They were careful to record that
this walking on foot was not to be taken as a precedent or to supplant
their riding. When the King himself returned he was received with the
greatest rejoicings, rejoicings unlike those which greeted many of his
predecessors, for they were real. A victorious Prince, young, gallant,
successful, wins all hearts. He brought to England with him all his
prisoners, a goodly company. He was met on Blackheath by the Mayor,
Aldermen, and Sheriffs dressed in scarlet gowns, with three hundred of
the principal citizens all richly accoutred. At St. Thomas Watering
the London clergy met him with their most gorgeous robes; the City
was decorated with carpets and tapestry, and there were pageants with
children representing angels and singing praises and psalms, while the
conduits ran wine. This is William Gregory’s account of the Riding:—

 “And the xxiij day of November the kyng came unto London whythe
 alle hys prisoners above sayd. And there he was resseyvyd worthily
 and royally by the mayre with all the aldermen whythe hym there. And
 whythe a royalle processyon he was broughte home: and there was made
 stondyng upon the brydge Syn George royally armyd, and at the Crosse
 in Cheppe was made a castelle and there with was moche solemnyte of
 angelys and virgenys syngyng. And soo he roode untylle that he came to
 Powbys and there mette whithe hym xvi byschoppys and abbatys whithe
 processyon and seizyd him and broughte hym uppe into thw quere whythe
 devoute songe, and there he offered and the Fraunsythe lordys alle so.
 And thaunce he roode forthe unto Westmynster: and the mayre and hys
 brethren broughte hym there.”

The day after this triumph the Mayor and Aldermen presented the King
with the sum of £1000 in gold and deposited it in two golden basins
worth half as much.

There was another grand procession of 14th June 1420, when the news
arrived of the Treaty of Troyes which made Henry heir to the French
crown. In February 1421 the King with his newly-married Queen,
Katherine, arrived at London and lay at the Tower. Another grand
procession escorted them to Westminster where Katherine was crowned. On
this occasion, as on the return from Agincourt, the City assumed every
appearance of joy.

As regards internal affairs during this reign, the Mayor in 1415
ordered the citizens to hang out lanthorns for the lighting of the
City by night. Leadenhall Market was built at the expense of Sir Simon
Eyre, sometime Mayor. He designed it as a public granary in time of
scarcity, but it never appears to have been used as such. On one side
was a chapel with a college endowed as a Fraternity of the Trinity,
consisting of sixty priests, by whom mass was sung on market day. In
the Hall was kept the common Beam for weighing wool, and a public
market was held. The Hall was afterwards used as an Armoury for the
City, and lastly turned into a Meat Market.

And then, alas! this gallant Prince died, being then no more than
thirty-two years of age. This lamentable event, which prepared the way
for all the miseries of foreign humiliation and civil war, happened at
Bois de Vincennes on the 31st August 1422. The body of the King was
brought over from France, and received a funeral worthy of his kingly
virtues. In an open chariot it lay coffined; and above the coffin was
the effigy of the King in royal robes, a crown upon his head, a sceptre
in one hand and the orb in the other. The figure lay upon a rich cloth
and the canopy was borne by nobles. The obsequies were performed at St.
Paul’s, and the body was then taken to Westminster.

And so ended prematurely the life of the best-beloved King that ever
England saw, and they were no feigned or perfunctory tears that flowed
abundantly at his obsequies. Let me transcribe the words of John
Hardyng in his _Chronicle_:—

    “O good Lord God that art omnipotent,
    Why streched not thy power and thy might
    To kepe this prince, that sette was and consent
    With th’ emperour, to conquere cirry right,
    And with Christen inhabite, it had hight
    Why favoured so thyne high omnipotence
    Miscreaunce more then his benevolence.

    Above all thyng he keped the lawe and peace
    Through all England, that none insurrection
    Ne no riotes were then withouten lese,
    Nor neighbour werre in faute of correccion:
    But peasebly under his proteccion,
    Compleyntes all, of wronges in generall,
    Refourmed were well under his yerd egall.

    When he in Fraunce was dayly conversant
    His shadow so obumbred all England,
    That peace and lawe kepte continuant
    In his absence throughout all this land,
    And else, as I conceyve and understand,
    His power had been lite to conquere Fraunce
    Nor other realmes that well were lesse perchaunce.

    The peace at home and lawe so well conserved,
    Were croppe and rote of all his hie conquest
    Through whiche the love of God he well deserved
    And of his people by North, South, Est, and West,
    Who might have slain that prince or downe him cast
    That stode so sure in rightfull governaunce
    For common weale, to God his hie pleasaunce.”



[Illustration: HENRY VI. AS AN INFANT

From Strutt’s _Manners and Customs_.]

The disastrous and miserable reign of Henry of Windsor began when the
King, an infant less than a year old, was carried through London in
the lap of his mother. He was placed under the guardianship of the
late King’s brothers, the Duke of Bedford and the Duke of Gloucester.
The former being the elder claimed to be Protector of the Realm,
which was granted him, his Protectorate to begin on his return from
France. The glories and victories of the late reign, the personal
popularity of Henry V., and his constant support of the Church seemed
to have removed for the time all fears of further risings against
the Lancastrian House. But the materials for rebellion always remain
where there is a rightful heir standing apart, and not contented with
the simple rank of noble. The reign, indeed, began with the conviction
of Sir John Mortimer for treasonable designs in favour of the Earl of
March. In addition to this danger, the great nobles were always ready
to take offence and to join any insurrection that might offer; while,
as regards the City, though it was true and loyal to all appearance,
its loyalty, as had been already proved on many occasions, would not
stand the strain of bad trade, increased taxation, or invasion of the
City liberties. Above all, the young King had a very long period of
tutelage before him, and the country had to expect during that period
the uncertainties and the dangers of a Protectorate. The first sign of
approaching disturbance was the quarrel between the Duke of Gloucester
and Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester. It is a very singular story
as told by Gregory. The Bishop was going to seize the City by armed
force. Why? with what object? Perhaps he proposed to depose the Duke
of Gloucester, but then he would have had to reckon with the Duke of

“And that same yere that the mayre rode to Westmynster on the same
daye for to take hys othe, that ys, was the xxix daye of Septembyr,
whenne that he come home to hys mete with hys aldyrmen and with hys
goode comyners, or that they hadde fully, etc., the Duke of Glouceter
sende for the mayre and hys aldermen that they shulde come speke with
hym: and whenne they come he cargyd the mayre that he shuld kepe welle
the cytte that nyght for my Lorde of Glouceter and the Byschoppe
of Wynchester were not goode frendys as in that tyme. And on the
morowe certayne men kepte the gatys of the brygge of London by the
commaundement of the Lorde of Glouceter and of the mayre. And by-twyne
ix and x of the belle ther come certayne men of the Byschoppys of
Wynchester and drewe the chaynys of the stulpys at the brygge ende in
Southework ys syde, the whiche were both knyghtys and squyers, with a
great mayny of archerys, and they enbaytaylyd them, and made defens of
wyndowys and pypys as hyt hadde bene in the londe of warre, as thowe
they wolde have fought agayne the kyngys pepylle and brekyng of the
pes. And thenne the pepylle of the cytte hyrde thereof, and they in
haste schytte in ther shoppys and come downe to the gatys of the brygge
in kepyng of the cytte ande savacyon of the cytte a-gayns the kyngys
enmys, for alle the shoppys in London were schytte in one howr. And
thenne come my Lorde of Cauntyrbury ande the Prynce of Portynggale, and
tretyd by twyne my Lorde of Glouceter and the Byschoppe of Wynchester
for they rode viij tymes by twyne the duke and the byschoppe that day.
And thonkyd be God, thoroughe goode governaunce of the mayre and hys
aldyrmen, alle the pepylle was sessyde and wentte home ayenne every
mann, and none harme done thorough ealle the cytte, thonkyd be God.”
(W. Gregory’s “Chronicle” in _Collections of a London Citizen_.)

The same story is told more briefly in the _Chronicle of London_
(Nicolas). The Duke of Bedford came over and acted as arbitrator.
The citizens made him a present of a thousand marks in gold with two
golden basins; but he received them coldly, one cannot tell why.
However, he patched up a peace between the Bishop and his brother and
took the Bishop to France with him, perhaps to get him out of the way.
When, five years later, Beaufort was made Cardinal and Papal Legate
he returned, and was honourably received by the citizens, “and he was
resiayvd there worthily and ryally of the mayre and alle hys brethreyn.”

The following letters between the King, _i.e._ the Protector in the
King’s name, and the Mayor are quoted by Maitland to show certain
claims and alleged immunities made by the Corporation at this time.

 “Henry, by the Grace of God, King of England and France, and Lord of
 Ireland, to the Mayor and aldermen of the City of London, greeting.
 Willing for certain Causes, to be certified upon the Tenors of divers
 Liberties and Customs of the aforesaid City, and concerning the
 Records and Memoranda of Servants and Natives coming to the aforesaid
 City, and tarrying there for a Year and a Day, without complaint of
 their Lords or Masters before you had, and inrolled in our Court
 of our Chamber of Guildhall of the aforesaid City as is said: We
 command you the Mayor, distinctly and openly to send the Tenor of
 the Liberties, Customs, Records, and Memoranda beforesaid, to us in
 our Chancery, under your Seal and this our Brief. Witness myself at
 Westminster the twentieth of January, in the seventh year of our

 To which the Mayor and Aldermen returned the following answer:—

 “Be it remembered that in the Time of Holy King Edward, heretofore
 King of England, and before from all time no Memory of Man, then was
 extant such dignity, liberty, and Royal Custom, among others was had,
 used, and approved in the City of London, which is, and from all
 time hath been called The free Chamber of the King of England, as
 from ancient Time it was used, and had in the great city of Troy: to
 wit, That every Servant whosoever he were, that came to the City of
 London, and tarried in it for a Year and a Day, without Reclamation
 of his Lord there, afterwards he may, ought, and hath accustomed
 through his whole Life so freely and securely to tarry there, as it
 were in the House or Chamber of the King: And thence it is, that the
 same holy King Edward, amongst other things, by his Laws remaining of
 Record in the Treasury of Guyhald of the said City, and reciting the
 City itself to be the head of his Kingdom, and that it was founded
 like and after the manner of old Troy; and that it containeth in it
 the Laws, Liberties, Dignities, and royal Customs of great Troy: He
 appointed and ordained, that the said city of London may have and
 keep everywhere, by one Inviolability always, all her old Usages
 and Customs, wheresoever the King himself shall be, whether in an
 Expedition or otherwise.

 And afterwards King William the Conqueror, King of England, by his
 charter, which remaineth of the Record in the same Treasury, granted
 to the Men of London, that they be worthy of all that both Law
 and Right, as they were in the days of the aforesaid Edward. And
 moreover, the said William the King, among other laws at the said City
 made, with the consent of noble and wise men of the whole Kingdom,
 and remaining in the said Treasury, likewise remaining of record,
 appointed and ordained, that if Servants remain, without Complaint,
 by a Year and a Day in a Burgh compassed with a Wall, or in Castles,
 or in the cities of the said King; whence the said City of London, to
 that Time, and from all Time before, was one, and the more principal
 of the whole Kingdom, as is said before; from that Day let them become
 Freemen, and let them be for ever free and quit from the Yoke of their
 Servitude. And the Record continues, viz., It is to be noted, that
 the Laws, Recitements, and Statutes of holy King Edward, of which
 Mention is made above, are contained in Folio 34 of this Book, in the
 Title De Heretochiis and Libertatibus, London; and in Folio 113 of the
 Book of Customs of the said City: and in Folio 36 of the Book called
 Recordatorium London, etc. It is also had in folio 162 of the Red Book
 of the Exchequer, called the True Charter; by which the foresaid lord
 the Conqueror hath confirmed to the citizens of London all Rights and
 Laws which they had in the time of holy King Edward, together with
 certain other charters, by which the said Lord, immediately after the
 Conquest, gave the whole Hyde and land of the City of London, whereof
 he had then been possessed in his Demesne, to the Men of the said
 City, patent and remanent under the Seal of the said King, in the
 Custody of the Chamberlain, in the Treasury of the said City; which
 Charters are contained and incorporated in the Great Charter of the
 Liberties and Customs of the City of London, and are confirmed by the
 Lord the King (Henry the Sixth) and his progenitors. But the Tenors of
 the said Charters are patent in the Latin Tongue, in Folio 238 of the
 Book of Ordinations of the said City.” (Maitland, vol. i. p. 188.)

The fifteenth century is full of the disasters and violent deaths of
great nobles. The history of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, brother to
Henry V., belongs especially to London. On the death of his brother,
being then about twenty-seven years of age, he was, as we have seen,
named joint-guardian of the infant King, and was to rule England
by consent of Parliament, until his elder brother returned from
France. The wars and the threatening aspect of things kept the Duke
of Bedford abroad except for occasional visits to England until his
death. Gloucester is spoken of as a man of profligate habits and great
ambition. These general adjectives are convenient for the historian;
they sum up a man, and present him in bold outline. Now in nature there
is no outline, only gradual shadings. He was, it is said, ambitious.
The Court of the young, weak-minded King was full of intrigue and
plottings and conspiracies for power and place. The courtiers were all
ambitious. What any one wanted, if not power, it is not possible to
arrive at with certainty. They all wanted power and place, nor is it
easy to see that any one of the ambitious lords was in that respect
worse than any other. And as regards Gloucester it must be remembered
that if Henry died without heirs he stood next to Bedford in the
succession, and that Bedford had no children. As for Gloucester’s
morals, we have seen that London at this time, thanks to the Lollard
movement, was exacting in the point of morals: yet Gloucester remained
popular with the citizens: they made him presents—500 marks on one
occasion and 1000 on another—though the latter gift was for the Duchess
Jacqueline. It is said that Eleanor Cobham was his mistress before
he married her. Perhaps he had the sense not to parade the liaison,
in which case the good citizens would not be scandalised. But the
morals of kings and princes have never been very jealously watched by
their subjects. Charles II. and George IV. are by no means alone in
immorality: and the world has forgiven or forgotten most of the others.
In other words, there is nothing to show that Gloucester was specially
blameworthy on the score of morals. It is, however, quite certain that
he was a splendid and lordly Prince, a patron and a lover of the fine

[Illustration: THE DUKE OF BEDFORD]

The stormy career of Jacqueline de Brabant, his first wife, belongs to
the history of her time rather than that of London. Yet because her
misfortunes first awakened the voice of the women of London her life
may be briefly noted in this place. She was the only daughter and the
heiress of William, Count of Hainault and of Margaret of Burgundy his
wife. No one, to outward seeming, could be more strongly protected
or in safer hands than this girl. She was married at five years of
age to John, second son of Charles VI. of France, the young prince
being like herself, a child. On the death of the Dauphin John took the
title of the Dauphin du Viennois. He was killed by poison immediately
upon arriving in France. Jacqueline was thus a widow at sixteen. They
married her immediately to John, Duke of Brabant, her cousin german, by
dispensation of the Pope. The Duke was an imbecile, with whom his wife
refused to continue. In 1420 she left him and came to England. Here
Duke Humphrey proposed to consider the marriage null and void. On the
death of Henry V. a bull was obtained to that effect from the anti-Pope
Benedict XIII., and she and Gloucester were married. Gloucester then
demanded of the Duke of Brabant the restitution of his wife’s estates.
On his refusal he entered the country with 5000 English troops prepared
to encounter the allied forces of Brabant and Burgundy. But the latter
withdrawing, Gloucester returned to England leaving Jacqueline in Mons.
She was taken prisoner, conducted to Holland, escaped in the disguise
of a soldier, and, then being reduced to great straits and receiving
no succour from Gloucester, who could probably get none, she concluded
peace with the Duke of Burgundy, her cousin. The Duke of Brabant was
now dead. In the treaty of peace she acknowledged that she was not the
lawful wife of Gloucester; she named the Duke of Burgundy her heir; and
she engaged not to marry again without the Duke’s permission.

It was before this treaty, which separated Jacqueline entirely from
English sympathies, that the women of London, for the first time in
history, made their appearance in public. Filled with sympathy for the
misfortunes of this unhappy heiress, thus driven out of her estates,
a prisoner, a wanderer, deserted by her cousin and her husband, they
presented themselves before Parliament in the year 1427 and laid before
the Commons at Westminster assembled, a petition or letter complaining
of the Duke’s behaviour towards his wife. In the following year the
citizens themselves begged the consideration of Parliament for the
abandonment of the Duchess. This would lead us to believe that in the
distracted condition of the State the Duke of Gloucester simply could
not get succour for his wife. It would be interesting to know how the
women were got to act together, whether by meeting at Paul’s Cross and
by female oratory, or, which is much more likely, by house-to-house
visitation. Nothing, however, came of their interference.

Jacqueline very soon grew tired of her engagement not to marry without
her cousin’s leave. She married a knight of Flanders named François de
Borcelen, whom the Duke of Burgundy promptly imprisoned. Jacqueline
bought his liberty by the surrender of all her estates, receiving only
out of all her princely possessions a modest annuity. Meantime, the
Duke of Gloucester was already married to Eleanor, daughter of Lord

In the year 1441 Gloucester’s second marriage was brought to a
miserable end. The Duchess was accused, it is said by the wicked wiles
of Cardinal Beaufort, but it is quite possible that his wiles were
not in this case exercised at all. Eleanor may have been, probably
was, ambitious for her husband and for herself. Henry was by this time
nineteen years of age and unmarried. The physical weakness of the
lad was certainly known to his uncles and the Court circle. Perhaps
he would never be able to marry. Perhaps he would die. In the latter
event, which was by no means improbable, the Duke of Gloucester would
succeed, the Duke of Bedford now being dead, and then Eleanor would
be Queen. Of magic and witchcraft there was at this time plenty, as
there is still, and always has been; that is to say, plenty to be had
for those who could afford to pay for it. The Duchess learned where
there was a wise woman, she paid her money, and she inquired and
learned what she wanted, viz. how to get rid of a person whose end was
ardently desired. Nothing was easier; one had only to make with fitting
incantations and magical formulæ, an image in wax of the person whose
death was desired, and then, simply by sticking pins into the image,
or by holding it before the fire, to make it, and at the same time her
enemy, waste away. There is nothing at all incredible in supposing
that a woman in the fifteenth century, strongly tempted by ambition,
conscious that her husband was watching every day with expectation the
health of the feeble king, would follow such a course. The persons
charged with being the Duchess’s accomplices were four—namely, Master
Thomas Southwell, a Canon of St. Stephen’s, Westminster; Master John
Hume, Chaplain of the Duchess; Master Roger Bolingbroke—his name is
also written Bulbroke—and Wyche, “a man,” says Fabyan, “expert in
negromancy”; and a woman named Margery Jourdemayne, surnamed the
witch of Eye in Suffolk, obviously a wise woman of the time with some
reputation for sorcery. The accused persons seem to have been brought
before the Lords in Council, who also interrogated the Duchess. They
are all said to have confessed. The four confederates were tried at
the Guildhall. Was the offence, then, committed in the City of London?
The three men were sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered;
the witch was sentenced to be burned. As regards the latter, poor
old Margery, the sentence was duly carried out, for she was “brent”
in Smithfield. The Canon of St. Stephen’s died in his cell the day
before that appointed for his execution; John Hume, the chaplain, was
pardoned and went about his business; the unfortunate “negromancer”
alone, Roger Bolingbroke, paid the penalty of his crime. First he stood
in pillory at Paul’s Cross, with all his instruments, the wizard’s
tools and weapons hanging around him in the presence of the shuddering
crowd; next he was drawn to Tyburn and there hanged, with the usual
accompaniments. He protested his innocence to the last.

As for the Duchess she first took sanctuary at Westminster; then, for
some reason unknown, she left sanctuary and fled to the “Castle” of
Lesnes. Is this Lesnes Abbey near Woolwich? There she was arrested and
examined by the Lords in Council. It is said that she confessed. The
complete silence and inactivity of her husband, who does not appear to
have moved a step in the matter, seems to show that he was convinced of
her guilt, and that he was anxious not to appear involved in an odious
crime which, if Henry were to die, would imperil his succession, or
at least, blacken his name, and strengthen his enemies. Eleanor was
ordered by the Council to do public penance. And here follows one
of the most picturesque incidents in the whole history of Mediæval
London. Accompanied by her women, the Duchess was taken on Monday,
13th November, from Westminster (from which we gather that she was
lodged in the Palace), in a barge to the Temple Stairs. There her
maids took off her shoes and stockings and her rich gown, wrapped her
in a white sheet, took off her hood, tied a white handkerchief over
her head, and placed in her hand a wax taper weighing two pounds. In
this dismal guise, while trumpets went before, and men-at-arms marched
before her and behind her,—one hopes she was allowed the attendance
of her maids,—this great lady, the wife of the Regent or Protector,
the greatest lady in the land, stepped barefooted along the rough
road, while all the streets were crowded and every window was filled
with curious eyes, and the people each asked the other if this pale
and shrinking woman could be the wife of Duke Humphrey, the Duke of
Gloucester, brother to King Henry V., Protector of the Realm? Pity she
received none: who could pity one who had practised arts of devilish
magic? And were not the ashes of her confederate, the witch of Eye,
still smoking on the soil of Smithfield? At St. Paul’s she offered her
taper at the high altar. Two days afterwards, she was again taken by
barge from Westminster to the Swan Stairs, where she landed, and in
the same guise as before, walked “through Bridge Streete, Groschirche
Street, to the Ledenhalle and so to Crichurche.” And on Friday in
the same way she landed at Queenhithe and so into Chepe and to St.
Michael’s, Cornhill. It is a curious illustration of the time and of
the respect due to rank that though this public and infamous penance
was inflicted upon the lady, the Mayor, the Sheriffs, and the Crafts of
London met her every day at her landing. It is not stated whether they
accompanied her in her dolorous walk afoot. The Duchess was taken to
Chester, where she lived in retirement for the rest of her life.

Six years later, the King being now in the hands of William de la Pole,
Earl of Suffolk, the Duke of Gloucester met his end. He was arrested
at St. Edmundsbury on a charge of treason, and on the morrow was found
dead in his bed. People were frequently found dead in their beds in
these circumstances. To give some colour to the charge of treason five
of his people were accused of complicity, and condemned to the usual
mode of death. They were drawn to Tyburn, hanged for a few moments,
cut down alive, stripped naked and “marked with a knife in order to be
quartered.” That is to say, slight incisions were made all about the
body in order to guide the executioner’s hand. They were then, having
experienced nearly all the agonies of death by violence and torture,
unexpectedly pardoned by the Earl of Suffolk. Did the conductor of the
proceedings keep the pardon in his pocket and produce it just at the
critical moment when the knife had drawn those diagrams in lines of
blood round the victims’ naked bodies? or did the Earl send off the
pardon by special messenger who arrived just in time to save them? If
so, then the situation is one of the most dramatic in all the annals
of Tyburn. It is said that their clothes were kept by the hangman, and
that they all had to return, naked and bleeding as they were, to the
City, where they were received with great joy.

[Illustration: HENRY VI. (1421-1461)

From a portrait in Eton College.]

The popularity of the Duke in the City is attested by the memory of his
name which long survived in a proverb, “to dine with Duke Humphrey,”
_i.e._ to have no dinner at all. The name of the “Good Duke,” who was
buried at St. Albans, was given to a certain tomb in St. Paul’s, that
of Sir John Beauchamp, warden of the Cinque Ports, who died in 1358.
It became a custom for certain citizens—probably they were a club or
association of some kind—to meet at this tomb on St. Andrew’s Day in
the morning, and there, under pretence of holding offices under Duke
Humphrey, to conclude with a feast. Also, on Mayday, watermen, bearers
of tankards, and others, came to the tomb and strewed it with nuts
and sprinkled water upon it as if they too were the servants of Duke
Humphrey. This custom perished in the Great Fire, which burned up not
only tombs and churches and great houses but the memory of great men.

The materials for the reign of Henry VI. as regards London are scanty.
We can set forth the principal events in a short space. When the Duke
of Burgundy changed sides and joined the King of France, the citizens
first showed their detestation of perfidy by murdering a great number
of Burgundians and other foreigners resident in the City, and also
provided a large body of troops maintained at their own expense for the
defence of Calais. There was trouble with the Fishmongers, who were
made to abate their pretensions. There was trouble about sanctuary. A
soldier named Knight was in prison at Newgate, his friends trumped up a
charge of debt against him, and as they had expected, it was necessary
for him to go to the Guildhall for trial. His friends, to the number
of five, lay in wait in Panyer Alley and snatched him from the hands
of the guard as he passed St. Martin le Grand. They hurried him into
sanctuary where they defied the power of the City authorities. The two
Sheriffs, however, forcibly entered St. Martin’s, and dragged out the
whole gang, prisoners and rescuers. These they laid by the heels in
Newgate and waited the event. It came, after much argument before the
Judges, in the confirmation of St. Martin’s rights. The prisoners were
all handed back to the Dean of the College, and replaced in sanctuary
where they abode, probably till death.

In Gregory’s _Chronicle_ (see p. 112) we read about a certain Sir
Richard Whyche (or Wick) who with his servant was burned on Tower Hill
for heresy, “for the whyche there was moche trobil amonge the pepylle,
in soo moche that alle the wardys in London were assygnyd to wake there
day and nyght that the pepylle myght nought have hyr ylle purpose as at
that tyme.” The reason of the “trobil” is told by Fabyan. The people
regarded this Richard Wick as a holy and righteous man and greatly
resented his martyrdom. The Vicar of Allhallows, Barking, close by,
thinking to profit in some way by the deception—probably proposing to
get a saint, or martyr, or shrine with offerings, or pilgrimages for
his own church—hit upon a notable design for increasing the popular
reverence. He mixed fragrant powders with the ashes of the heretic as
they lay on Tower Hill: then he loudly called attention to this marvel:
“Lo! the very ashes of the martyr exhale a sweet scent.” And he sold
small portions of the ashes for large sums of money. This villainy
continued for some days until the whole town being disturbed by the
strange story, they arrested the Vicar and made him confess. Perhaps
the Vicar was himself a Lollard and endeavoured in this way to become a
popular martyr. There had been, indeed, many popular martyrs, Sautre,
Bradby, Cobham, Cleydon, and others; the people stood round the stake
in tears, but no one ever dared to move. Lollardy was dying out save
for the hatred entertained by the people against the wealthy Religious

In 1429 the King, being then eight years of age, was crowned at
Westminster before being taken over to France to be crowned there. The
ceremony and order of the coronation service are fully set forth by

“Nowe of the solempnyte of the coronacyon. Alle the prelatys wente
on processyon beryng eche of hem a certayne relyke: and the Pryor of
Westemyster bare a rodde callyde _Virga regia_, ande the Abbot of
Westemyster bare the kyngys ceptoure. And my Lorde of Warwyke bare
the kynge to chyrche in a clothe of scharlet furryd, evyn as the newe
knyghtys of the Bathe wente whythe furryde hoodys with menyver. And
then he was led up in to the hyghe schaffold, whyche schaffold was
coveryd alle with saye by twyne the hyghe auter and the quere. And
there the kyng was sette in hys sete in the myddys of the schaffold
there, beholdynge the pepylle alle aboute saddely and wysely. Thenne
the Arche-byschoppe of Cantyrbury made a proclamacyon at the iiij
quartyrs of schaffolde, sayynge in thys wyse: ‘Syrys, here comythe
Harry, Kyng Harry the v ys sone, humylyche to God and Hooly Chyrche,
askynge the crowne of thy(s) realme by ryght and dyscent of herytage.
Yf ye holde you welle plesyd with alle and wylle be plesyd with hym,
say you nowe, ye! and holde uppe youre hondys.’ And thenne alle the
pepylle cryde with oo voyce, ‘Ye! ye!’ Thenne the kynge went unto the
hyghe auter, and humely layde hym downe prostrate, hys hedde to the
auter warde, longe tyme lyyng stylle. Thenne the arche-byschoppys and
byschoppys stode rounde a-boute hym, and radde exercysyons ovyr hym,
and many antemys i-song by note. And thenne the arche-byschoppes wente
to hym and strypte hym owte of hys clothys in to hys schyrte. And there
was yn hys schyrte a thynge lyke grene taffata, whyche was i-lasyd at
iiij placys of hym. Thenne was he layde a downe a yenne, and helyd
hym with hys owne clothys yn the same maner a-fore sayde. And thenne
the Byschoppe of Chester and of Rouchester songe a letany ovyr hym.
And the Arche-byschoppe of Cantyrbury radde demany colettys ovyr him.
Thenne the arche-byschoppys toke hym uppe a gayne and unlasyd hym,
and a-noynted hym. Fyrste hys bryste and hys ij tetys, and the myddys
of hys backe, and hys hedde, alle a-crosse hys ij schylderys, hys ij
elbowys, his pamys of hys hondys: and thenne they layde a certayne
softe thynge as cotton to alle the placys a-noyntyd: and on hys hedde
they putt on a whyte coyffe of sylke. And so he wentte viij days: and
at the viij dayes the byschoppys dyde wasche hit a-waye with whyte wyne
i-warmyd leuke warme. And the knyghtys of the Garter helde a clothe
of a-state ovyr hym alle the whyle of his waschynge. To the fyrste
processe, aftyr the oyntynge he layde hym doune prostrate a-gayne.
Thenne the arche-byschoppys raddyn solempne colettys with a solempne
prefas. And thenne they toke hym up a-gayne and putte a-pon hym a goune
of scharlette whythe a pane of ermyn, and Synt Edwarde ys sporys,
and toke hym hys cepter in hys honde, and the kyngys yerde i-callyd
_Virga regia_ in hys othyr honde, sayyng there-with, _Reges eos in
virga ferrea_, etc., he syttyng thenne in a chayre by fore the hyghe
auter. And thenne alle the byschoppys seseden with a swerde, they alle
syttynge there hondys thereon, ande alle they saynge thes wordys thys
to hym, _Accingere gladio tuo super femur tuum, potentissime_. And at
every tyme the kyng answeryd and sayde, _Observabo_. Thenne toke they
the swerde a-gayne fro hym, and layde the swerde on the hyghe auter.
Thenne bought the kyng hys swerde a-gayne of Hooly Chyrche for an C
s. in signe and in tokyn that the vertu and power sholde come fyrste
fro Hooly Chyrche. Thenne sette they on hys hedde Synt Edwarde ys
crowne. Thenne rose he owte of hys chayre and layde hym downe prostrate
a-gayne. And there the byschoppys sayde ovyr hym many hooly colettys.
And thenne they toke hym up and dyspoylyd hym of hys gere a-yen, and
thenne a-rayde hym as a byschoppe that sholde sing a masse, with a
dalmadyke lyke unto a tunycule with a stole a-bowte hys necke, not
crossyd, and a-pon hys fete a payre of sandellys as a byschoppe, and a
cope and glovys lyke a byschoppe: and thenne sette a-yen on hys hedde
Synt Edward ys crowne, and layde hym a-pon the schaffold and sette
hym a sete of hys astate, and ij byschoppys stondyng on every syde of
hym, helpyng hym to bere the crowne, for hyt was ovyr hevy for hym,
for he was of a tendyr age. And then they be-ganne the masse, and the
Arche-byschoppe of Cauntyrbury songe the masse. And a nothyr byschop
radde the pystylle. And the Byschoppe of Worsethyr radde the gospelle
at the auter. And at the offretory come the kyng downe and made the
oblacyon of brede and wyne, there whythe offerynge a pounde weyght of
golde, the whiche contaynyd xvj marke of nobbelys. And thenne wente he
uppe a-gayne in to the schaffold and satte there in hys sete tylle the
iij Agnus Dei, and thenne he come downe a-gayne and layde hym prostrate
saying there hys _Confyteor_ and alle the prelatys sayde _Misereator_.
And thenne he sate uppe, knelynge with humylyte and grete devocyon,
ressavyng the iij parte of the holy sacrament apon the paten of the
chalys of the Arch-byschoppe handys. Thenne there come the Byschoppe of
London with the grete solempne chalys by Synt Edwarde and servyd hym
whythe wyne: the whyche chalis by Synt Edwarde ys dayes was praysyd at
xxx M marke: and the Cardenalle of Wynchester and a othyr byschoppe
helde to hym the towelle of sylke: and so he knelyd stylle tylle mas
was i-doo. Thenne rosse he up a-gayne and yede a-fore the schryne, and
there was he dyspoylyde of all the ornamentys that he weryde, lyke the
ornamentys of a byschoppe, as hyt was sayde by-fore: and thenne he was
a-rayde lyke a kynge in a ryche clothe of golde, with a crowne sette on
hys hedde, whyche crowne Kynge Rycharde hadde made for hym selfe. And
so the kynge was ladde thoroughe the palys yn to the halle, and alle
the newe knyghtys be-fore hym in hyr a-raye of scharlette: and thenne
all the othyr lordys comynge aftyr hym: thenne come the othyr lordys
comynge aftyr hem. Thenne come the chaunceler with hys crosse bare
heddyd: and aftyr hym come cardenelle with hys crosse in hys abyte lyke
a chanon yn a garment of rede chamelett, furryd whythe whyte menyver.
And thenne folowyde the Kynge, and he was ladde by-twyne the Byschoppe
of Dyrham and the Byschoppe of Bathe; and my goode Lorde of Warwyke
bare uppe hys trayne. And byfore hym rode my Lorde of Saulysbury as
Constabylle of Ingelonde in my Lorde of Bedforde hys stede, and thenne
my Lorde of Glouceter as Stywarde of Ingelonde. And aftyr hym rode the
Duke of Northefolke as Marchalle of Ingelonde. And before the kynge
iiij lordys bare iiij swerdys, ij in there schaberdys and ij nakyde.
And one wa[s] poynteles of the iiij swerdys above sayde. And as they
[were] syttyng at mete the kyng kepte hys astate: and on the ryght
honde sate the Cardynalle whythe a lower astate: and on the lyfte syde
sate the chaunceler and a byschoppe of Fraunce, and noo moo at that
tabylle. And on the ryght honde of the halle at that borde kepte the
baronys of the Fyffe portys, and soo forthe, clerkes of the Chaunsery:
and on the lefte honde sate the Mayre of London and hys aldyrmen, and
othyr worthy comynerys of the cytte of London. And in the myddys of
the halle sate the byschoppys, and justysys, and worthy knyghtys, and
squyers, and soo fyllyde bothe the myddylle tabyllys of the halle. And
at the ryght honde of the halle uppon a schaffolde, stode the kyngys of
harowdys alle the mete tyme in hyr cote armorys and hyr crownys in hyr
heddys. Ande at the fyrste course they come downe and wente by fore the
kyngys champyon, Syr Phylyppe Dymmoke, that rode in the halle i-armyde
clene as Syn Jorge. And he proclaymyd in the iiij quarterys of the
halle that the kynge was ryghtefulle ayre to the crowne of Ingelonde,
and what maner man that wolde nay hyt, he was redy for to defende
hyt as hys knyghte and hys champyon. Ande by that offyce he holdythe
hys londys, etc.” (“Chronicle” in _Collection of a London Citizen_.)
William Gregory as a good citizen cannot refrain from giving the menu
of the Coronation banquet. One pities the poor child having to go
through the long ceremony of the Abbey first and having to sit out this
long banquet afterwards.


From MS. in British Museum. Harl. 2278.]

Next year Henry was taken over to Paris, and there also solemnly
crowned, with no doubt another Coronation banquet. In the same year
there was a small and unimportant tumult which shows the lingering of
Lollardy. The leader who called himself Jack Sharpe wanted to have a
rising in London in order to take away the temporalities of the Church.
The _Chronicle of London_ says that his name was William Maundeville,
some time a weaver of Abingdon. He chose his time when the King and
most of the lords were away in France, when, with his friends, he
spread abroad bills and placards in every town. Nothing came of it
except to himself and his party, for he and some of his friends were
hanged, drawn, and quartered, and their heads set upon London Bridge.
And, the same year, there was one Russell, a craftsman of free and
independent thought, who purposed to create an entirely new House of
Lords after his own ideas. He, a Reformer before his age, was hanged,
drawn, and quartered. In the same year it is casually mentioned “that
Pucylle was brent at Rone and that was upon Corpus Christi Even.”

In January 1432 the King returned to England, and on St. Valentine’s
Day (Sharpe says 20th February: Gregory says Valentine’s Day) he was
received by the City, the Mayor, Aldermen, and Sheriffs, with an
immense following of citizens, who rode out as far as Blackheath to
meet him. They presented him with the following address:—

 “Sovereign Lord as welcome be ye to your Roiaulme of Englond, and in
 especial to your notable Cite London, otherwise called your Chambre,
 as ever was Christen Prince to place or people, and of the good and
 gracioux achevying of your Coronne of Fraunce, we thank hertlich our
 Lord Almighty which of His endless mercy sende you grace in joye and
 prosperite on us and all your other people long for to regnew.”

The King receiving this address rode on to Deptford, where he was met
by a whole regiment of clergy all in their robes, with monks chanting
psalms of praise. Thence into London where a noble reception awaited
him. The description which follows is also taken from Gregory’s

“At the south end of London Bridge was erected a tower: and in the
tower stood a giant holding a sword and saying solemnly _Inimicos ejus
induam confusione_. On each side of the giant was an antelope, one with
the arms of England and one with that of France. At the drawbridge
was another tower with three crowned empresses namely, Nature, Grace,
and Fortune who gave the young king gifts. On the right hand of the
Empresses stood seven fair maidens in white powdered with stars of
gold, who gave the king seven gifts of the Holy Spirit in the likeness
of seven white doves. On the left side were seven maidens in white
powdered with stars of gold, who gave the king seven gifts of worship,
and the maydens sang an hevynly songe unto the kynge of praysynge and
of hys victorye and welle comynge home.”

At the Conduit of Cornhill there was a tabernacle in which sat a King
in royal apparel: with him the Lady of Mercy, the Lady of Truth, and
the Lady of Cleanness, “hem embracing with Reson.” Before the King
two Judges of great worthiness with eight serjeants-at-law with this

    “Honowre of kyngys in every mannys syght
    Of comyn curtosie, lovythe, equyte, and ryghte.”

At the Great Conduit there was a royal sight like unto Paradise. There
were virgins drawing water and wine of joy and of pleasure and comfort,
the which are to every man’s comfort and health. These maidens were
named Mercy, Grace, and Pity. In this Paradise stood two old men “like
heveynly folk.” They were named Enoch and Eli, and they saluted the
King with words of grace and virtue.

“And soo rode he forthe unto the Crosse in Cheppe. There stood a
royalle castelle of jasper grene, and there yn ij grene treys stondyng
uppe ryght, showyng the ryght tytyllys of the Kyng of Inglond and of
Fraunce, convaying from Synt Edwarde and Synt Lowys be kyngys unto the
tyme of Kyng Harry the vj every kyng stondynge whythe hys cote armowre,
sum lyberdys, and sum flourdelysse; and on that othyr syde was made the
Jesse of owre Lorde ascendyng uppewards from Davyd unto Jesu. And so
rode he forthe unto the Lytylle Condyte. And there was a ryalle mageste
of the Trynyte, fulle of angelys syngyng hevynly songys, blessynge ande
halowynge the kyngys whythe thes resonys in Latyn wrytyn; _Angelis suis
mandavit de te ut custodiant te_, etc. _Longitudinem dierum replebo
in eum et ostendam illi salutare meum._ And thenne vente he forthe
unto Poulys, and there he was ressayvyd whythe bysvhoppys and prelatys
whythe dene and the quere, and whythe devoute songe, as hyt longythe to
a kynge. Ande so he offerryd there and thankyd God of hys goode speede
and of hys welfare. And thenne he rode to Westemyster, and there he
restyd hym: and on the nexte day followynge the mayre and the aldyrmen
whythe a certayne comeners that were worthy men, and they presentyde
the kynge whythe an hampyr of sylvyr and gylte, whythe a M l. there yn
of nobellys, etc.”

The next great Riding was the reception of Margaret of Anjou when she
came over to be married in the year 1445, when the same “properties,”
castle, tower, and other devices, were brought out to greet her.

The disastrous wars in France, the lavish expenditure which produced
nothing but defeat, the unsettled condition of the Low Countries with
which the greatest part of the London foreign trade had been carried
on, a succession of bad harvests, with other causes, affected the
prosperity of the City as well as smaller towns very sensibly. When the
Parliament of 1433 voted a fifteenth and a tenth it assigned £4000 to
the relief of poor towns. Of this sum £76: 15: 6-1/4 was assigned to
eighteen wards of London.

In 1447 a petition was presented to Parliament by four priests of the
City, viz. William Litchfield, Allhallows the Great: Gilbert, St.
Andrew’s Holborn; John Cote, St. Peter’s Cornhill: and John Neil, St.
Thomas Acons Hospital, and St. Peter Colechurch; praying for permission
to set up schools of grammar in their respective parishes. They base
their request on the small and insufficient number of schools in London
compared with the great number that had existed in former days. What
schools were they? FitzStephen mentions three in the time of Henry
II. What grammar schools were founded between 1150 and 1450? Every
monastery it is said had its school. Certainly the novices and the
wards of the Abbot were under instruction: their place was assigned to
them in the Cloisters and there were rules as to their supervision. But
the sons of the citizens were not admitted to these schools. The King
replied that the schools might be established or provided, subject to
the approval of the Archbishop.

We have now arrived at a strange and not wholly intelligible event, the
rising of the Kentish men and their occupation of London.

The most important of these rebellions, known as that of Jack Cade,
was one among many which showed the temper of the people. The reverses
in France, where all that Henry V. had won was lost, never to be
recovered; the exactions and taxations; the many cases in which persons
were accused of treason and thrown into prison in order that others
might obtain their lands; created a widespread discontent, which, in
these risings, became the wrath which seizes on the sword and demands
the ordeal of civil war. There were at least three other leaders in
Kentish risings, one called Blue Beard, another named William Parminter
and a third named John Smyth. In Wiltshire the Bishop of Salisbury was
dragged from the altar and brutally murdered; and the insurgents in
that county were reckoned at 10,000 men.

Why they rose, and what were their grievances, are shown in the
remarkable document in which they are set forth.

As for the people who took part in these risings, it is certain that
they were by no means the common labourers and villeins, such as
those who went out with Wat Tyler. It is also certain that they chose
as their leader one who had some knowledge of war. And it must be
remembered that the men who flocked to the standard of Mortimer were as
well armed, and as good soldiers, as any whom the King could collect or
could command.

The leader called himself, or was called, Mortimer, and it is said
gave out that he was cousin to the Duke of York. His real name it is
said—but there seems some reason to doubt the story—was John Cade; he
was an Irishman by birth and he had been in the service of Sir Thomas
Dacre in Sussex, but had been compelled to abjure the country for
having killed a woman with child. He passed over to France and served
in the French army against England, but later he returned, assumed the
name of Aylmer, and married the daughter of a Squire; at this time he
called himself physician, and on the outbreak of the rebellion assumed
the name of Mortimer.[3]

  [3] Gairdner, Introduction to the _Paston Letters_.

On the 1st of June the rebels reached London and encamped at
Blackheath. The King, who was at Leicester, hastened to town with a
large army of 20,000 men and lay at St. John’s Priory, Smithfield.
Instead of marching upon the rebels at once, he waited, and sent
messengers to know what they wanted.

They replied by a long and carefully drawn up “Bill of Articles,”
which was evidently the work of some clerk or lawyer: it was a
document which proves the rising to have been no chance effervescence,
but a deliberate and intelligent attempt to set forth and to remedy
grievances. It must be noted that Jack Cade or Mortimer kept up
correspondence with the City, having appointed one Thomas Cocke,
Draper, as his agent.

The following is the “Bill of Articles”:—

 1. “Imprimis, it is openly noised that Kent shoulde be destroyed with
 a royall power, and made a wylde foreste for the Deathe of the Duke of
 Suffolk, of which the Commons of Kent thereof were never guilty.

 2. “Item, the king is stirred to lyve only on his Commons and other
 men to have ther revenues of the Crown the which hath caused povertie
 in his excellencie, and great payments of the people, now late to the
 king graunted in his Parliament.

 3. “Item, that the Lordes of his Royall bloud been put from his dayly
 presence, and other meane persons of lower nature exalted and made
 chiefe of his Privie Counsell, the whiche stoppeth matters of wronges
 done in the realme, from his excellent audience, and may not be
 redressed as lawe will, but if bribes and giftes be messengers to the
 handes of the Sayd Counsell.

 4. “Item, the people of his realme be not payd of debts owing for
 stuffe and purveyance taken to the use of the king’s householde, in
 undoing of the sayd people, and the poor Commons of this realme.

 5. “Item, the king’s menial servantes of householde and other persons,
 asken dayly goods and lands, of impeached or indited of treason, the
 which the king graunteth anon, ere they so endangered be convict.
 The which causeth the receyvers thereof to enforge labours and means
 applyed to the death of such people, so apeached or indited, by subtyl
 means, for covetyse of the said grauntes: and the people so impeached
 or indited, though it be untrue, may not be committed to the Lawe
 for their deliverance, but helde still in prison, to their uttermost
 undoing and destruction, for covetyse of goods.

 6. “Item, though divers of the poore people and Commons of the Realme,
 have never so great right, trueth, and perfect tytle to these landes,
 yet by untrue clayme of enesessment made unto divers States, Gentles,
 and the king’s meniall Servauntes in maintenaunces againste the ryght,
 the true owners dare not holde, clayme, nor pursue their right.

 7. “Item, it is noysed by common voices, that the king’s landes in
 Fraunce been aliened and put awaye from the Crown, and his Lordes and
 people there destroyed with untrue means of treason, of which it is
 desyred, enquiries through all the realme to be made howe and by whom,
 and if such traytors may be found guiltie, them to have execution of
 Lawe without any pardon in example of other.

 8. “Item, Collectors of the 3rd pennie in Kent be greatly vexed and
 hurte in paying great summes of money, in the Eqchequere to sue out
 a Writ called Quorum nomina for the allowance of the Barons of the
 ports, which nowe is desyred, that hereafter in the lieu of the
 Collectors the Barons aforesaide may sue it out for their ease at
 their own costes.

 9. “Item, the Sheriffs and undersheriffs, let to farme their offices
 and Bayliwikes, taking great suertie therefore, the which causeth
 extortions done by them and by their Bailiffs to the people.

 10. “Item, simple and poore people that use not hunting be greatly
 oppressed by inditments sained and done by the said sheriffs,
 undersheriffs, Baylifs, and oter of their assent, to cause their
 increase for paying of their said farme.

 11. “Item, they returne in names of conquests in writing into divers
 courtes of the kinges not summoned nor warned, where though the people
 dayly leese great sumes of money, welny to the uttermost of their
 undoing: make levie of amercementes called the Greene Ware, more in
 summes of money than can be founde due of recorde in the kinges bookes.

 12. “Item, the ministers of the courte of Dover in Kent bere and arest
 diver people through all the Shire out of Castle warde passing their
 bands and libertie bred of oldde time, by divers subtile and untrue
 meanes and actions falsely sained, taking great fee at their lust in
 great hurt of the people on all the Shire of Kent.

 13. “Item, the people of the saide Shire of Kent, may not have their
 free election in the choosing knights of the Shire, but letters bene
 sent from divers estates to the great Rulers of all the Country, the
 which embraceth their tenants and other people by force to choose
 other persons than the common will is.

 14. “Item, whereas knightes of the Shire should chose the kinges
 collectors indifferently without any bribe taking, they have sent now
 late to divers persons, notifying them to be collectors whereupon
 giftes and bribes be taken, and so the collector’s office is bought
 and sold extortionously at the knightes lust.

 15. “Item, the people be sore vexed in costes and labour called to the
 Sessions of peace in the sayd Shire, appearing from the farthest and
 uttermost parts of the west unto the east, the which causeth to some
 men v dayes journey, whereupon they desire the saide appearaunce to be
 divided into two parties, the which one part to appeare in one place
 an other part in an other place in releving of the grievaunce and
 intollerable labours and vexations of the said people.


 “Imprimis, desireth the Captaine of the commons, the welfare of our
 soveraigne Lord the king, and all his true Lords spirituall and
 temporall, desiring of our faire soveraigne Lorde, and of all the true
 Lordes of his counsell, he to take in all his demaines, that he may
 raigne like a king royall, according as he is borne our true Christian
 king annoynted, and who so will saye the contrarye, we will all live
 and die in the quarrell as his true liege men.

 “Item, desireth the said Captaine, that he will avoide al the false
 progenie and affinitie of the Duke of Suffolk, the which bene openlye
 knowne, and they to be punished after the custome and Lawe of this
 Land, and to take about his noble person the true Lordes of his Royal
 bloud of this his realme, that is to say, the high and mighty Prince
 the Duke of Yorke, late exiled from our saide soveraigne Lordes
 presence (by the motion and stirring of the traiterous and false
 disposed the Duke of Suffolke and his affinite) and the mighty princes
 the Dukes of Exeter, Buckingham, and Norfolke, and all the Earles and
 Barons of this land and than that he be the richest king Christen.

 “Item, desireth the said Captaine and Commons punishment upon the
 false traitors, the which contrived and imagine the Death of the high
 and mightful excellent Prince the Duke of Gloucester, the whiche is
 too much to rehearse, and which Duke was proclaomed as traitor. Upon
 the which quarrell, we purpose all to live and die that it is false.

 “Item, the Duke of Exeter, our holy father the Cardinal, the noble
 Prince, Duke of Warwick, and also the realme of Fraunce, the Dutchie
 of Normandie, Gascoyne and Gwoin, Ansoy and Mayne, were delivered and
 lost by the meanes of the sayd traytors and our true Lords, knights,
 and esquires, and many a good yoman lost and sold ere they went, the
 which is great pitie to heare, of the great and grievous losse to our
 Soveraigne Lorde and his realme.

 “Item, desireth the said captayne and commons that all the extortions
 bred dayly among the Common people, might be layde downe, that is to
 say, the Greene Ware the which is falsely bred, to the perpetuall
 destruction of the king’s true commons of Kent. Also the king’s bench,
 the which is too griefefull to the shire of Kent without provision of
 our Soveraigne and Lord and his true Counsell. And also in taking of
 Wheate and other graynes, Beefe, Mutton, and all other victual, the
 which is importable to the Sayd Commons without the brief provision
 of our said soveraigne Lorde and his true Counsell, they may no
 longer beare it. And also unto the statute of labourers and the great
 extortioners, the which is to say the false traytors, Slegge, Crowmer,
 Isle, and Robert Este.”

These bills were of course disallowed by the Council as presumptuous,
and the King was exhorted to suppress the rebels by force. He thereupon
moved from Westminster to Greenwich, but when he would have sent an
army against the rebels the men refused to fight against those who
“laboured to amende the Common Weale.” Then the King temporised, and
since the rebels called out against Lord Saye, he committed him to
the Tower to pacify them. He then returned to Westminster, and two
days afterwards went against the rebels with 15,000 men. But they
had withdrawn to Sevenoaks in Kent. Therefore the King sent off Sir
Humphrey and William Stafford with a strong force to attack them.
They did so, but with the unfortunate result that the force was cut
up and all the men slain, and that Jack Cade and his men returned
to Blackheath. Then the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Duke of
Buckingham held an interview with the leader and found him “discreet in
his answers,” though he would not separate himself from his people.

The King and Queen, meanwhile, hearing of more adherents to Cade’s army
and perceiving the spread of disaffection among their own people, left
London for Kenilworth. Hearing of their departure the “Captain of Kent”
entered Southwark, taking up his lodging at the “White Hart”—was it
accidental or by design that he chose an Inn with the sign of Richard
II.’s badge? On the same day the Commons of Essex in great numbers
encamped at Mile End.

The Chronicles and authorities differ as to the order and details of
what followed. The broad outlines are clear. The authorities, who
appear to have been at first terror-stricken, resolved on putting the
City into a state of defence, chiefly on the exhortation of Robert
Horne, Alderman and Stockfish-monger. They placed a guard at all the
gates and at the lanes and stairs leading to the river; they forbade
the sending of arms outside the City; they placed machines for throwing
stones on the wharves; they gave every Alderman four men to assist him
in keeping the peace in his ward; but, in spite of all, the rebels
came in. There was no resistance, somebody—nobody knew who—got the
keys in some mysterious manner and opened the Bridge. And somehow,
the courageous Horne found himself in Newgate. Jack Cade’s symbolical
action in regard to London Stone is quoted in every child’s history
book. Shakespeare alludes to it in _Henry VI._ (Part II. Act iv. Scene

 “SCENE—_Cannon Street. Enter Jack Cade with his followers. He strikes
 his staff on London Stone._

 _Cade._ Now is Mortimer lord of this city.”

On the first day there was peace, no acts of violence were permitted.
The rebels roamed at will about the London streets, and probably
if they wanted anything they took it. In the evening most of them
went home again. But some remained inside, and according to Gregory
“searched,” _i.e._ robbed, all night. On the next day the real
brutality of the mob showed itself. They arrested Lord Saye, the High
Treasurer of England, and beheaded him in Chepe after a mock trial
at the Guildhall, and in so great a hurry were they that they would
not give him time to finish his confession. They also beheaded Sir
James Crowmer, High Sheriff of Kent, at Mile End, one John Bayle at
Whitechapel. Cade would also have beheaded Robert Horne, but his
friends ransomed him for 500 marks. According to Fabyan it was after
these murders—according to Gregory it was on the first day—that Cade
began to pillage the rich merchants, commencing with Philip Malpas.
“They spoyled him,” says Gregory, “ande bare away moche goode of hys
and in specyalle moche money, both of sylvyr and golde, the valowe of
a notabylle sum, and in specyalle of merchaundys as of tynne, woode,
madyr, and alym, whythe grete quantyte of wollyn clothe and many ryche
jewellys, whythe othyr notabylle stuffs of fedyr beddys, beddyng,
napery, and many a ryche clothe of arys, to the valewe of a notabylle
sum—_nescio; sed Deus omnia scit_.”


From an old print.]

Cade also robbed other merchants. Now since nothing so rouses a
merchant to fury as the prospect of being robbed, the Aldermen met
again and seriously determined that at all costs the rebels must be
kept out. They therefore put their defence into the hands of Lord
Scales, Lord Governor of the Tower. And then follows a battle, now
forgotten, which should have been one of the most picturesque in the
whole list of desperate fights. Like the famous Holding of the Bridge
of Rome was the Holding of the Bridge of London by Matthew Gough and
the citizens. It began on the night of Sunday, July the 5th, at ten
“of the bell,” and it continued all night long, without stopping,
till eight in the morning. Sometimes the Kentish men drove back the
citizens, but never beyond the drawbridge: sometimes the citizens drove
back the Kentish men, but never beyond the “bulwark” of the bridge.
Matthew Gough, lieutenant of the Tower, was killed in the encounter, so
was John Sutton, Alderman, with many other stout citizens and sturdy
rebels. All night long, in the clear twilight of the season, while the
quiet tide ebbed and flowed beneath the bridge, there were the clash
of arms and shouts and groans until the early sun rose. Beyond the
Bridge stood the citizens waiting for their turn, which never came, for
no one could pass out or in, but the fighting men in the front surged
backwards and forwards in a solid mass. And in the houses the people
lay sleepless: trembling while the din of battle ceased not.

[Illustration: LONDON STONE]

The rebels were worsted in the end. That is, thinking it impossible to
force their way into the City they withdrew. Then the Archbishop of
Canterbury with the Bishop of Winchester offered them a free pardon, to
include their leader, if they would go home quietly.

In the Church of St. Margaret, Southwark, an interview was held between
Cade and the Archbishop. The pardons signed by the Chancellor were
shown and handed over. The rebels accepted, and in a few hours the
whole army had melted away. Probably Cade found that it was useless
to hope for success since London held out so fiercely against him. It
is said that he tried to continue a hopeless struggle by taking the
prisoners out of the Marshalsea and King’s Bench. He then sent his
treasures by ship to Rochester and prepared to march on that place
with his army of prisoners. Here the story grows confused. There were
certainly not enough prisoners to form an army. Perhaps Cade looked
for local support at Rochester. However, he found that Rochester would
not receive him, so he made an attempt on Queenborough, and he then
fled, making for the dense forest which at that time covered nearly the
whole of Sussex. He was pursued by the new Sheriff, Alexander Iden, and
mortally wounded at a place called Heathfield.

When all was over and there was no more danger, the King returned to
London and marched through the City in state. Mindful, perhaps, of
Richard’s broken promises of pardon to the rebels, Henry continued his
march into Kent and executed twenty-six of them. With these exceptions
there seem to have been no other acts of revenge, and the men were
tried by the King’s Justices. The usual distribution of rebels’
quarters followed, and the decorations of London Bridge were enlarged
by the addition of Jack Cade’s head and by the heads of a few of his

When we consider this strange insurrection it is impossible to class it
with that of the rabble under Wat Tyler. There were men of substance
among Cade’s followers. We do not find that at first they robbed or
plundered or committed any acts of violence: they called upon all men
to join them; and they undertook, as soon as these things were amended,
to go home quietly again. The insurgents were not a mere rabble.
In many villages they were regularly called out by the constables.
Either they were an orderly body or they were kept in admirable order
by this mysterious leader of theirs. It is true that a charge is
brought against Jack Cade of taking things from the houses of two rich
citizens; and of loading a ship with his plunder. It may be true, on
the other hand it may be the invention of an enemy. When, again, we
examine into the actual crimes charged against Cade we find that he
executed Lord Saye, regarded as one of the greatest enemies of the
realm; also Lord Saye’s son-in-law, late High Sheriff for Kent; one
man whose offence is unknown; and one or two marauders in his own
camp. That concludes the list of executions, or murders. We have also
seen that he had influential friends in London. He kept good order;
he defeated the royal force sent out to capture him; he sent up to
the King, whoever drew it up, a well-drawn statement of grievances;
the Archbishop thought it well to confer with him and was under no
apprehension of ill treatment; on his giving the word of dismissal
his men quietly dispersed and went home. It is impossible to believe
that this man was a mere adventurer seeking an opportunity of private
pillage. Who he was, what he was, whence he came, why he was made
captain of the Kentish army, it is impossible to say. That he was a
common robber and murderer the facts of the case will not allow us
to believe. That he was considered of great importance is proved by
the perfidy which granted him a “charter” of safety and pardon, and
yet offered a reward for his body, dead or alive, and set up his head
on London Bridge looking towards Kent. The “Short English Chronicle”
(“_Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles_,” Camden Society) contains a
memorable statement. The day after the all-night battle of London
Bridge, the Chancellor—Cardinal Kemp—went to “the capteyne and gave
him a charter and his men another and so withdrewe him homeward.” The
“Charter” means a free pardon. Richard II. had done the same thing in
the case of Wat Tyler’s rebellion. Yet, a day or two afterwards the
charter was disregarded, and a proclamation made of a thousand marks
reward for the capture of the leader quick or dead. The reason of this
broken faith is said by the chronicler to be that it became known that
the leader’s name was not Mortimer but Jack Cade, “and therefore his
charter stode in no strength.” So they hunted him down and killed him.


From tapestry in St. Mary’s Hall, Coventry.]

The most interesting of all the _Paston Letters_ is one signed John
Payn, in which the writer narrates his personal recollections of the
Cade Rebellion. I quote it entirely as illustrative of the remarkable

“Pleasyth it your gode and gracios maistershipp tendyrly to consedir
the grete losses and hurts that your por peticioner haeth, and haeth
jhad evyr seth the comons of Kent come to the Blakheth, and that is at
xv yer passed, whereas my maister Syr John Fastolf, Knyght, that is
youre testator, commandyt your besecher to take a man, and ij of the
beste orsse that were in his stabyll, with hym to ryde to the comens of
Kent, to gete the articles that they come for. And so I dyd; and al so
sone as I come to the Blakheth, the capteyn made the comens to take me.
And for the savacion of my maisters horse, I made my fellowe to ryde a
wey with the ij horses; and I was brought forth with before the capteyn
of Kent. And the capteyn demaundit me what was my cause of comyng
thedyr, and why that I made my fellowe to stele a wey with the horse.
And I seyd that I come thedyr to chere with my wyves brethren, and
other that were my alys and gossippes of myn that were present there.
And than was there oone there, and seid to the capteyn that I was one
of Syr John Fastolfes men, and the ij horse were Syr John Fastolfes;
and then the capteyn lete cry treson upon me thorought all the felde,
and brought me at iiij partes of the feld with a harrawd of the Duke
of Exetter before me in the dukes cote of armes makyng iiij _Oyes_ at
iiij partes of the feld; proclaymyng opynly by the seid harrawd that
I was sent thedyr for to espy theyre pusaunce, and theyre abyllyments
of werr, fro the grettyst traytor that was in Yngelond or in Fraunce,
as the seyd capteyn made proclaymycion at that tyme, fro oone Syr John
Fastolf, Knyght, the whech mynnysshed all the garrisons of Normaundy,
and Manns, and Mayn, the whech was the cause of the lesyng of all the
Kyngs tytyll and ryght of an herytaunce that he had by yonde see. And
morovyr he seid that the seid Sir John Fastolf had furnysshed his plase
with the olde sawdyors of Normaundy and abyllyments of werr, to destroy
the comens of Kent whan that they come to Southewerk; and therfor he
seyd playnly that I shulde lese my hede.

And so furthewith I was taken, and led to the capteyns tent, and j
ax and j blok was brought forth to have smetyn of myn hede; and than
my maister Ponyngs, your brodyr, with other of my frendes, come and
lettyd the capteyn, and seyd pleynly that ther shulde dye a C or ij
[a hundred or two], that in case be that I dyed; and so by that meane
my lyf was savyd at that tyme. And than I was sworen to the capteyn,
and to the comens, that I shulde go to Southewerk, and aray me in the
best wyse that I coude, and come ageyn to hem to helpe hem; and so I
gote th’articles, and brought hem to my maister, and that cost me more
emongs the comens that day than xxvijs.

Wherupon I come to my maister Fastolf, and brought hym th’articles,
and enformed hym of all the mater, and counseyled hym to put a wey all
his abyllyments of werr and the olde sawdiors; and so he dyd, and went
hymself to the Tour, and all his meyny with hym but Betts and j [_i.e._
one] Mathew Brayn; and had not I ben, the comens wolde have brennyd
his plase and all his tennuryes, wher thorough it coste me of my noune
propr godes at that tyme more than vj merks in mate and drynke; and
nought withstondyng the capteyn that same tyme lete take me atte Whyte
Harte in Suthewerk, and ther comandyt Lovelase to dispoyle me oute
of myn aray, and so he dyd. And there he toke a fyn gowne of muster
dewyllers furryd with fyn bevers, and j peyr of Bregandyrns kevert with
blew fellewer [velvet] and gylt naile, with leg-harneyse, the vallew of
the gown and the bregardyns viij l. [£8].

Item, the capteyn sent certeyn of his meyny to my chamber in your
rents, and there breke up my chest, and toke awey j obligacion of myn
that was due unto me of xxxvj l. by a prest of Poules, and j nother
obligacion of j knyght of x l., and my purse with v ryngs of golde, and
xvijs vjd of golde and sylver; and j herneyse [harness] complete of the
touche of Milleyn; and j gowne of fyn perse blewe furryd with martens;
and ij gounes, one furryd with bogey, and j nother lyned with fryse;
and ther wolde have smetyn of myn hede, whan that they had dyspoyled
me atte White Hart. And there my Maister Ponyngs and my frends savyd
me, and so I was put up tyll at nyght that the batayle was at London
Brygge; and than atte nyght the capteyn put me oute into the batayle
atte Brygge, and there I was woundyt, and hurt nere hand to deth; and
there I was vj oures in the batayle, and myght nevyr come oute therof;
and iiij tymes before that tyme I was caryd abought thorought Kent and
Sousex, and ther they wolde have smetyn of my hede.

And in Kent there as my wyfe dwellyd, they toke awey all oure godes
mevabyll that we had, and there wolde have hongyd my wyfe and v of my
chyldren, and lefte her no more gode but her kyrtyll and her smook. And
a none aftyr that hurlyng, the Bysshop Roffe apechyd me to the Quene,
and so I was arrestyd by the Quenes commaundment in to the Marchalsy,
and there was in ryght grete durasse, and fere of myn lyf, and was
thretenyd to have ben hongyd, drawen, and quarterud; and so wold have
made me to have pechyd my Maister Fastolf of treson. And by cause that
I wolde not, they had me up to Westminster, and there wolde have sent
me to the gole house at Wyndsor; but my wyves and j coseyn of myn noune
that were yomen of the Croune, they went to the Kyng, and got grase and
j chartyr of pardon.”

The Civil Wars and the part taken by the City belong to the history of
the nation, and may be briefly dismissed in these pages. The City began
with loyalty to the King. He was the son of their hero and darling, the
Victor of Agincourt; and he was the grandson of their own King whom
they themselves had brought over and set upon the throne. These two
considerations outweighed all others, even the disasters in France,
the miserable condition to which the country had been brought, and
the weakness of the King. Meantime the long-deferred birth of a son
strengthened the loyalty of all Lancastrians. The poverty of the City
at this time is proved by the fact that when, in 1453, an assessment of
half a fifteenth was made, eleven out of the twenty-five wards were in
default. After the battle of St. Albans, 22nd May 1455, the Duke of
York brought the King to London and lodged him in the Bishop’s Palace,
St. Paul’s Churchyard.

There were no Jews to bait and murder, but there were the Lombard
money-lenders. On two occasions there were riots between the mercers
and the Lombards. After the first, two of the Lombards were hanged.
They threatened to retire from the City altogether, but remained and
suffered another attack a year later for which twenty-eight mercers
were committed to prison. The internal dissensions were followed by the
inevitable consequences, of diminished trade, the appearance of pirates
in the Channel, and the descent of the French upon the coasts. They
plundered Sandwich, for instance, and captured thirty ships. Thereupon
the City raised a small force of 2000 men and fitted out ships for them.

The unhappy reign of Henry draws to a close. In 1458 the King tried to
effect a reconciliation between the two rival sections of the nobility,
and called a conference to meet in St. Paul’s. Warwick attended with
a following of 600 men in his livery; the Duke of York and the Earl
of Salisbury were received in the City; the young Duke of Warwick and
others of the opposite factions were kept outside. And still further to
prevent disorder, the Mayor kept a guard of 3000 men in readiness to
stand by the Aldermen in case of a disturbance.

The conference was held, and the reconciliation was effected; a solemn
service with a procession was held in the Cathedral. Six months later
the war broke out again.

Early in 1460 the King issued a commission to the Mayor, Aldermen, and
Sheriffs for collecting men and arms to resist the Duke of York. The
order was received with jealousy as threatening the City liberties, but
the King explained that no such attack was intended. In February the
masters and wardens were ordered to look to their arms and their men
in view of the dangers threatening the City. In June the Yorkist Lords
made a descent on Sandwich, and marched upon London. The City hurriedly
placed itself in a position for defence. There was a great show of
resistance; the rebel Lords were not to be admitted; they were to keep
at a certain distance from the City; then a letter was received from
the Earl of Warwick, and, no one knows why, the gates were thrown open
and the Lords were admitted.

They proceeded to starve the garrison of the Tower into surrender. Lord
Scales, the governor, attempted to reach Westminster by boat in order
to take refuge in Sanctuary. He was discovered by the Thames watermen
and murdered. After the Battle of Northampton, Henry was brought into
London as prisoner. In October of the same year, 1460, the Duke of York
declared his right to the Crown, and the struggle was no longer between
rival sections of nobles, but between the King and the Claimant.

After the Second Battle of St. Albans, the Queen ordered provisions
to be sent to her at St. Albans from London, but the mob stopped the
carts. Margaret moved her troops farther north. Then Edward and the
Earl of Warwick were admitted within the walls, London was lost to the
Lancastrians, and the first half of the Wars of the Roses was at an end.


    (and fully to be endid, payinge yerely the seid—
    successours in hand halfe yere afore that is—
    next suyinge xxiij s iiij d by even_e_ porciou_n_s.)]



[Illustration: EDWARD IV. (1442-1483)]

The reign of Edward IV., who had now become, as he remained to the end,
the most popular of kings in the City of London, presents a record
of continual agitation and excitement. He stayed first at Baynard’s
Castle, where he began his reign by hanging an unfortunate grocer of
Cheapside, trading under the sign of the “Crown,” for saying that his
son was heir to the crown. Of course Walker must have said more than
that. There were Lancastrians still among the citizens. One could
hardly hang a man for making a feeble pun. His remarks were probably
seditious and disrespectful to Edward’s title. From the death of
Richard II. to the accession of Henry VIII. all the English kings were
extremely sensitive as to the strength and reality of their titles.

The news from the north of the siege of Carlisle would not allow
the King to be crowned at once as was intended. A week after the
Proclamation he started hurriedly for the north to meet Henry, to whom
he gave battle at Towton. The result of the stubborn contest was the
defeat of Henry, who with the Queen and his son Prince Edward and such
of the Lords as were left, fled into Scotland. Edward stayed awhile to
set things in order and then rode south. He was welcomed by the Mayor
and Aldermen and five hundred citizens at Lambeth on 27th July, and was
escorted to the Tower, whence on the 29th—the 28th day of each month
was accounted unlucky—he rode to Westminster and was crowned with due

In the second year of his reign he granted a Charter to the City in
which he confirmed all past privileges and liberties. The Mayor,
Recorder, and Aldermen past the chair, were appointed perpetual
justices as long as they continued to be Aldermen. They were also
constituted justices of _Oyer and Terminer_ for the trying of all
malefactors within their jurisdiction; they were exempt from serving
on Juries or on Foreign Assizes, and from having to undertake certain
offices; they were empowered to hold a Fair in the Borough of
Southwark; and they received certain other privileges connected with
waifs, strays, and treasure trove. Three other Charters were granted by
Edward. All of them will be found in the Appendix.

The year 1463 was taken up by another campaign in the north, with
sieges of castles, and with the usual crop of treasures, perjuries,
arrests, and beheadings. Surely there was never any war or contest more
disgraced by change of sides, broken oaths, and villainies, than this
War of the Roses.

Edward returned to London in February 1463, and was received by a
procession of barges. It has been observed, doubtless, that the
mediæval citizens were at all times perfectly regardless of the season:
they had a Riding in January, a Coronation in December, a water
procession in February quite as happily as in July or August. Yet it is
very certain that the climate was as capricious and as uncertain then
as now.

In 1464 the King married secretly Elizabeth, the young widow of Sir
John Grey, and daughter of Lord Rivers. The Queen was crowned in May
1465. In the same year the unfortunate King Henry was taken prisoner,
and brought to the Tower of London. At this point we may take up
the somewhat tangled story of Alderman Coke. In the early years of
King Edward’s reign Coke was treated with special favour by the
King. Other Aldermen were made plain Knights. Coke was made a Knight
of the Bath. He had a town-house and a country seat, Gidea Hall in
Essex. It was this Coke who, when he was made Lord Mayor, finding at
an entertainment that the most honourable seat at the table, which
belonged to himself, had been taken by the Lord High Treasurer, refused
to sit down at all, and with the Aldermen and the citizens retired to
his own house, where he gave a dinner.

Coke in 1465 was impeached of treason. What kind of treason? Gregory
says that many men both of London and of other towns were also
impeached. Treason was everywhere. Every man’s dearest friend conspired
against him. When one sees the things that were done by great lords we
may believe the charges against the merchants. The times, moreover,
were doubtful. It behoved men who were afraid of losing their
substance, if not their heads, to be ready at any moment for a change.
Therefore Alderman Sir Thomas Coke, K.C.B., may very well have carried
on treasonable correspondence with the other side. He was arrested,
released on bail, arrested again, his effects seized, and his wife
committed to the care of the Lord Mayor. He was acquitted, but in
spite of his acquittal he was sent to the Bread Street Compter, and
thence to the King’s Bench, and there kept till he paid £8000 to the
King, and £800 to the Queen. Moreover, the servants of Lord Rivers had
pillaged his house in Essex, destroyed the deer in his park, killed his
rabbits and his fish, carried off all his brass and his pewter, and
Lord Rivers obtained the dismissal of the judge who acquitted him. When
Henry VI. was restored Coke had his property restored, but on power
being regained by Edward, he fled. He was caught, imprisoned, and then
pardoned, with everybody else concerned. Coke is an ancestor both of
Sir Francis Bacon and the Marquis of Salisbury.

In a few years the proverbial instability of fortune was again
illustrated, together with the wisdom—the cunning of a fox—of keeping
in with both parties. It was Edward’s lavish gifts to the Queen’s
brothers and cousins, and his neglect of the few great nobles left,
that caused the next disturbances. The defection of Warwick, and the
Rebellion of Lincolnshire, hardly belong to London history. But it
must be recorded that the rebels reached Charing Cross, that they
found in the “Palace called the Mews” Lord Rivers and his son, whom
they beheaded, and that they captured the King. Edward, however, found
means to escape and reached London, where he was received with loyal
assurances. And so the war began again, as may be read in the History
of England.

On October the 1st, Edward fled to Scotland where he was certain to
find safety at least. The Queen, then enceinte, took refuge in the
Sanctuary. The Tower of London was surrendered to the Mayor, who held
it until the arrival of Warwick and Clarence. But Henry was removed
from his prison to the State apartments. There appears to have been no
order maintained or attempted in the City during these distractions.
Every man made haste to change his side, and the caps that had been
tossed up for Edward now darkened the sky for Henry with equal zeal.
There was a rising of the City rabble, headed by one Sir Geoffrey
Gates, whose character is vaguely summed up by Maitland in the words,
“of abandoned principles.” The mob, under his leading, spoiled the
foreign merchants—Lombards, Flemings, and others—and then, probably
having met with some resistance, they got over to Southwark, where they
robbed, burned, and destroyed and ravished through all the Borough,
together with St. Catherine’s, Limehouse, and Ratcliffe, the City not
attempting anything until the arrival of Warwick, when the mob was
dispersed and the ringleaders hanged.

[Illustration: SHIPS OF THE PERIOD

From MS. in Brit. Mus. Reg. 15, Ed. IV.]

Henry was once more a King, and lodged in the Bishop’s Palace. The
Parliament, summoned in haste, met in St. Paul’s Chapter House and
called Edward a usurper. But the Mayor took care to be sick and
confined to his bed. Coke occupied his place, which seems to increase
the probability of that alleged treason. The restoration of the
unfortunate Henry lasted for six months. In April, Edward entered
London again with the customary rejoicings, sallied forth immediately,
met Warwick at Barnet, defeated and slew him, and returned for more
rejoicings and in order to lead Henry clad in a long gown like a
bedesman back to the Tower, and then marched into the west, where
Tewkesbury witnessed the final destruction of the Lancastrian cause.

Then followed, as concerns London, the gallant attempt of the captain
known as the Bastard of Falconbridge. We may look upon this leader
as a freebooter and as a pirate, or we may look upon him as a loyal
and faithful follower of Warwick. From either point of view it is a
striking episode in the history of the time as well as the history of
London. Moreover, it is one of the few early recorded appearances of
the English sailor.

Thomas, the Bastard of Falconbridge, was an illegitimate son of William
Nevill, Lord Falconbridge or Falconberg, Earl of Kent, and brother of
the Earl of Warwick. He had received the freedom of the City in the
year 1454, seventeen years before his attempt. (Sharpe, _London and
the Kingdom_.) This distinction was in recognition of his services in
connection with the destruction of pirates at the mouth of the Thames.
As for his age, if he were about twenty-five at that time, he would be
about forty when he led his men to the siege of London. He was by no
means an unknown or an obscure person. The Earl of Warwick[4] had made
him Vice-Admiral of the Sea, “so that none should pass from Calais to
Dover for the succour of Edward,” a post of no mean responsibility.
Then, Grafton tells us, being driven into need and poverty, he became
a pirate, and through his robbery and “shameful spoyling” got together
a great navy of ships. We need not believe in the piracy; he probably
held the navy for the Earl of Warwick, for whom he seems to have had a
sailor-like fidelity. Nor is there anything to show need and poverty.
Hearing, however, that his patron was again in the field, the Bastard
resolved on striking a blow for him. He landed, therefore, on the
coast of Kent and raised a large force of Kentishmen, who seem to have
forgiven Henry for his perfidy in the Cade business and now joined the
stout-hearted sailor who called himself Captain of King Henry’s people
in Kent. He was not therefore a rebel, he was a soldier on the side
of the Red Rose. He sent his ships up the Thames with orders to await
his coming in the Pool off Blackwall; and with 17,000 men he marched
through Kent and appeared before the gates of London Bridge. He wrote
to the Mayor from Blackheath asking for permission to pass through
the City, promising that no violence would be committed by any of his
men. What the ships were to do meanwhile does not appear. It looks,
however, very much like an attempt to seize the City. It is certain,
further, that he had not received the news of Barnet, or of the death
of his illustrious cousin. The Battle of Barnet was fought on 13th
April. News could certainly reach the City on the same day, within two
or three hours. But it was very possible that in those disturbed times,
the ordinary channels of communication being broken off, the news
might not reach Kent for some weeks. However that may be, or whenever
Falconbridge heard of it, he did not know of Warwick’s death when he
began to levy his men.

  [4] In 1462 the Earl of Warwick was Lord High Admiral, in the
  following year his brother the Earl of Kent succeeded him, in the same
  year he was superseded in favour of the Duke of Gloucester; in 1470
  Warwick was again Admiral, in 1471 Richard succeeded him.


From a MS. in the University Library, Ghent.]

Sharpe has found both Falconbridge’s letter and the Mayor’s reply in
the archives of the City. The latter stated that he might possibly hold
a commission for the Earl of Warwick, but that the Earl of Warwick was
dead, slain on the field of Barnet together with his brother Montague.
That further, since that battle, another, that of Tewkesbury, had been
fought a week before (this was May 11, and Tewkesbury was fought on
May 4), of which they had certain information from their own runners:
that “Sir Edward,” the son of Henry VI., was killed after that battle.
They therefore exhorted this Captain to disband his forces and to
acknowledge King Edward IV. But as for passing through the City they
were determined he should not do so. The Bastard professed not to
believe that Warwick and Prince Edward were dead; perhaps he really
did not believe it. In what followed, however, he certainly showed the
intention of making himself master of the City if he could, and the
Mayor evidently understood this to be his intention, for he proceeded
to fortify the river bank, which, the wall having been long since
taken down, was now accessible at fifty points by stairs and narrow
alleys and courts leading from Thames Street to the river. The City
had not been threatened with an attack from the river since the time
of King Canute. The details of the fight which followed are very
scanty. Falconbridge landed some of his men—three or four thousand—at
St. Katherine’s, and attempted a simultaneous attack on Bishopsgate,
Aldgate, the riverside, and London Bridge. Fabyan says that they shot
guns and arrows and fired the gates, but nevertheless they seem to
have effected nothing in their attack from the river; at Aldgate they
actually got in, but the portcullis was dropped and none of them got
out again. Robert Basset, the valiant Alderman of Aldgate Ward, was
conspicuous for his courage on this occasion. He drove back the Kentish
men, put them to flight and killed three hundred of them in their
endeavours to reach their boats at Blackwall. Meantime, Falconbridge
with the main body of his men was trying to fight his way across London
Bridge. They lost heart on hearing of the repulse at Aldgate and fled,
being pursued as far as Deptford, a great number being slain. Ralph
Jocelyn, late Mayor, was in command of the citizens; he, too, like
Robert Basset, performed prodigies of valour. Many of the men were
taken prisoners and held for ransom “as they had been Frenchmen,”
says Fabyan. The rising was treated as a rebellion, a good many being
executed for their share in it. The Captain got on board ship and
on the following night dropped down the river with his fleet and so
escaped. At Sandwich he fortified himself, for, as he had 47 ships
and 800 men, he was strong enough to dictate his own terms—pardon for
himself and his men, in return for which he was ready to deliver the
ships into the hands of the King. Edward accepted, and the Bastard did
deliver up his ships. Six months later, we hear that he was captured
at Southampton; and, one knows not on what pretence, they beheaded
him. What are we to call the Bastard, pirate or patriot? Henry was
still living, though his very hours were now numbered, for on Edward’s
return—he had been brought back—it was announced that he was dead,
having met with nothing but care and sorrow during the whole of his
most wretched life. Gloucester—not of course Humphrey, but Richard—is
said to have killed him; but then Gloucester is said to have killed
everybody; tradition makes him a universal murderer. At the same time,
as everybody else belonging to the Lancastrian party was killed, there
seems a sort of rounding off and completion of the work by the murder
of Henry. The fight happening so soon after Tewkesbury as to appear
uninfluenced by that event, was a splendid example of the City loyalty.
What the Mayor would have done had Tewkesbury gone the other way, it is
impossible to say. Loyalty, fidelity, honour, truth, in the Wars of the
Roses never survived defeat. They were, however, hugely encouraged by
a victory. And when Edward rode back to London he heard with pleasure
that while he had smitten his enemies in the West of England, his loyal
City, his “Chamber,” had bravely rid him of all that were left in the

The Battle of London Bridge is recounted in a contemporary ballad:—

    “In Sothwerke, at Bambere heth, and Kyngston eke,
      The Bastarde and his meane in the contre abowte,
    Many grett men in London they made seke,
      Man, wyff, ne childe there durst non rowte,
      Oxin, shepe, and vetayle, withowtyn any dowte,
    They stale away and carrid ever to and froo.
    God suffirs moche thyng, his wille to be doo.

    Moche sorow and shame the wrecchis thay wroughte,
      Fayre placis they brend on the water side.
    Thayre myschevus dedis avaylid ham noughte,
      Schamfully thay wrougte, and so them betyd.
      Thay wolde not leve ther malice, but therin abyde,
    Thay cryed kynge Edward and Warwicke also.
    Thus the wille of God in every thynge is doo.

    At Londone brygge they made asawte, sham to see,
      The utter gate on the brygge thay sett on fyre;
    Into Londone shott arrows withowte pete.
      With gunnus thay were bett that sum lay in the myre.
      Thay asked wage of the brygge, thay paid them thayre hire
    Ever amonge thay had the worse, then wakynd thaire woo,
    False men most be poyneshed, the will of God is soo.

    At London brige anodyr sawte thay made agayne,
      Wyth gunpowdir and wildefire and straw eke;
    Fro the gate to the drawbrygge that brent down playne,
      That x myle men mygte se the smeke.
      Thay were not of thayre entent the nere of a leke
    For into the cite they mygte not com for a wele ne for woo;
    God restid thayre malice, the wille of hym was soo.

    At Alegate thay sawtid in an ill seasoun;
      Thay brente fayre howsis, pitie was to se.
    Thus these false men did opyne tresoun,
      Supposynge evermore to enture into cite.
      God and good seyntes thereof had pitie.
    Thayre malice was sesid and turned hem to woo
    Thus in everythynge, Lorde, thy will be doo.

    The erle of Esex, and also the aldurmen,
      At Bysshopus gate togedder they mette,
    And owte therat sewde like manly men.
      Thay bete hem down, no man mygte hem lett;
      Freshely on thayre enmyes that day did thay fyghte.
    Thayre false treson brougte theym in woo;
    Thus in every thynge, Lorde, thy wille be doo.

    The erle Revers, that gentill knygte,
      Blessid be the tym that he borne was
    By the power of God and his great mygte,
      Throw his enmyes that day did he passe.
      The maryners were kellid, thay cryed ‘Alas!’
    Thayre false tresoun brougte hem in woo,
    Thus in every thynge, Lorde, thy wille be doo.”

    (_Political Poems and Songs, Ed. III.—Rich. III._, p. 277;
    edited by Thomas Wright.)

These tumults appeased, and the Civil Wars apparently ended, the City
got itself to work upon a question of morals.

William Hampton, Mayor in 1473, hit upon a notable device of terrifying
evil-doers. Until then, one pair of stocks had been considered
sufficient for the whole City. Hampton set up a pair in every Ward.
He also hunted out the women of loose conduct; “he corrected”—_i.e._

 “strumpets and causyd them to be ladde aboute the towne with raye
 hoodes upon their heddes divers and many; and spared none for mede nor
 for favour, that were by the law atteynted, notwithstanding that he
 might have taken xl pounds of redy money to hym offerid for to have
 spared one from that jugment.” (Fabyan.)

Henry’s remains lay in state at St. Paul’s and at Blackfriars. It was
necessary that people should understand that he was really dead and
out of the way. They were then carried to Chertsey where they were
buried. Edward knighted all the Aldermen. Sharpe gives the list, in
which one is grieved to find neither Robert Basset nor Ralph Jocelyn.

In the year 1475 by an Act of Common Council the election of the
Mayor was ordered to be made henceforth by the Mayor, Aldermen,
Common-Councilmen, and Liverymen of the City. And so it has remained
ever since. Only while the City gave the election to the Liverymen it
included all those who had the freedom of the City, excluding any other
residents, tenants, foreigners, great Lords, or their followers. The
house called “Gildhalla Teutonicorum,” the Steelyard, was in this year
granted to the Hanseatic League. The history of this house will be
considered separately.

Two more charters were obtained from the King. One granted permission
to hold lands in mortmain to a limited extent: the other gave the
City the privilege of package, portage, garbling of spices, gauging,
wine-drawing, etc., a charter of a commercial and technical kind.

As for the rest of the acts of King Edward they concern not much the
City of London. He entertained the Mayor and Aldermen at a hunt; he
also sent the Lady Mayoress six fat bucks and a tun of wine, of which
they made a great feast at Drapers’ Hall; he murdered his brother, the
Duke of Clarence; he invaded France and came back again;—one must needs
speak of his mistress, Jane Shore;—and he borrowed a great deal of
money which he did not repay.

The history of the King’s mistresses should hardly claim a place
in the history of London. There are, however, one or two of these
favourites who, in some way inexplicable, have captured the imagination
of the people, and have won their sympathies. Why do we think more of
Jane Shore than of Alice Perrers? Why, out of the long list of frail
beauties about the court of Charles II., do we fix our eyes upon Nell
Gwynne and neglect the rest? Certain it is that, not only in her own
lifetime but also long afterwards, Jane Shore was remembered with
kindliness and pity. Everybody knows her story: she was the wife of a
London citizen, a goldsmith; she attracted the attention of the man who
is commonly believed to have been the handsomest man in the country,
as he was certainly the most dissolute. If, however, the portrait
of Edward IV. in the possession of the Society of Antiquaries is to
be trusted, his beauty did not lie in his face; it must have been
his stature and his strength which gave him this reputation. When he
died, Jane Shore, whose husband had cast her off, fell into the power
of Hastings or of the Marquis of Dorset. When Hastings was beheaded,
Richard endeavoured to convict her of witchcraft, probably he had some
private reason for personal malice against Jane Shore. This attempt
failing, he accused her of unchastity, which was not to be denied.
She was taken to the Bishop’s Palace there clothed in a white sheet,
a wax taper was placed in her hand, and she was led to the Cathedral
beside the Palace, where she offered the taper, and to Paul’s Cross,
where she made confession of her sins. One is glad to think that the
poor creature had so short a distance to walk in this deplorable guise.
Some, as Stow says, may think this woman “too slight a thing” to be
written of: yet who can read the words of the grave Sir Thomas More,
and still think so? And one cannot read the words of Stow himself
without feeling that it was no common woman who could thus draw all
hearts to her; who could leave behind her the memory of so many good
deeds; who expiated a youth of such splendid sin by an old age of such
terrible poverty and neglect.

Here are the words of Sir Thomas More:—

“Her stature was mean: her hair of a dark yellow, her face round
and full, her eye grey, delicate harmony being betwixt each part’s
proportion, and each proportion’s colour; her body fat, white, and
smooth; her countenance cheerful, and like to her condition. That
picture which I have seen of her, was such as she rose out of her bed
in the morning, having nothing on but a rich mantle, cast under her
arm, over her shoulder, and sitting in a chair on which her naked arm
did lie. What her father’s name was, or where she was born, is not
certainly known: but Shore, a young man of right goodly person, wealth,
and behaviour, abandoned her bed, after the King had made her his

And, next, hear Stow:—“This woman was borne in London, worshipfully
friended, honestly brought up, and very well married, saving somewhat
too soone, hir husband an honest citizen, yong and godly, and of good
substance. But for as much as they were coupled ere they were wel ripe,
she not very fervently loved, for whom she never longed, which was
happily the thing that the more easily made hir incline unto the King’s
appetite, when he required hir. Howbeit the respect of his royaltie,
the hope of gay apparell, ease, pleasure, and other wanton wealth, was
able soone to pierce a soft tender heart.

But when the King had abused hir, anone hir husband (as he was an
honest man) left hir up to him altogether.

When the King died, the Lord Chamberlain tooke hyr, which in the King’s
dayes, albeit he was sore enamoured upon hir, yet he forebare hir,
eyther for reverence, or for a certain friendly faythfulnesse. Proper
she was and fayre: nothing in hir bodie that you would have chaunged,
but if you would have wished hir somewhat higher.

Thus say they that knewe hir in hir youth. Albeit some that nowe see
hir (for yet she liveth) deeme hir never to have bene wel visaged,
whose judgement seemeth me somewhat like as though men should gesse
the beautie of one long before departed, by her scalpe taken out of
the charnelhouse: so now is she olde, leane, withered, and dryed up,
nothing left but riveled skin and hard bone. And yet being even such:
who so wil advise her visage, might gesse and devise, which parts how
filled would make it a faire face. Yet delited not men so much in her
beautie, as in her pleasant behaviour. For a proper wit had she, and
coulde both reade well and write, merrie in companye, readie and quicke
of aunswere, neyther mute nor full of bable, sometime taunting without
displeasure, and not without disporte.

The King would say that he had three concubines, which in their diverse
properties diversly excelled. One the merriest, another the wyliest,
the third the holyest harlot in his realme, as one whom no man could
get out of the Church lightly to any place, but it were to his bed. The
other two were somewhat greater personages, and nathelesse of their
humility content to be namelesse, and to forbeare the praise of those
properties. But the meriest was this Shors wife, in whom the King
therefore took special pleasure. For many he had but hir he loved,
whose favour to saye the truth (for sinne it were to belie the Devil)
she never abused to any man’s hurt, but to manye a mannes comforte
and relief: where the Kyng tooke displeasure, she would mitigate and
appease his mynde: where men were out of favour she woulde brynge them
in his grace. For manye that hadde highlye offended shee obtayned
pardon. Of great forfeytures she gat men remission. And finally, in
many weightie sutes she stoode many men in great steade, eyther for
none or very small rewardes, and those rather gaye than riche: eyther
for that she was content with the deed selfe well done, or for that
shee delyted to bee sued unto, and to shewe what she was able to doe
with the King, for what wanton women and wealthy be not always covetous.

I doubt not some shall thinke this woman too sleyghte a thing to be
written of, and set among the remembrances of great matters: whych
they shall specially thinke, that happilye shall esteem hir onely by
that they nowe see hir. But me seemeth the chaunce so muche the more
worthy to be remembered, in how much she is nowe in the most beggerlye
condition, unfriended and worn out of acquaintance, after good
substance, after as great favour with the Prince, after as greate sute
and seekyng to with all those that those dayes had businesse to speede,
as many other men were in theyr tymes, which be now famous only by the
infamye of theyr yl dedes. Hir doings wer not much lesse albeit they
be much lesse remembered because they were not so evil. For men use if
they have an evill turne to write it in Marble; and who so doeth us a
good turne, we write it in duste, whiche is not worst proved by hir:
for at this day she beggeth of manye at thys daye lyving, that at this
day had begged if she had not bin.”


From the Berri Bible in British Museum. Harl. 1585.]

It will be observed that Stow speaks of Jane Shore as living at the
time he wrote. She was born about 1450; and she became mistress of
Edward IV. about 1470; the King died in 1483, when she became the
mistress of the first Marquis of Dorset for a short time. She was
imprisoned in the Tower on a charge of sorcery, her goods were seized
and sold, she did penance as above described, she was imprisoned in
Ludgate, she fell into poverty and she lived to an advanced age, dying,
it is supposed, about the year 1526, at the age of seventy-five or six.
Seeing Stow was born in 1525 how can he speak of Jane Shore as living
at the time he wrote? He is obviously quoting some older writer. Sir
Thomas More, who was born in 1478, and died in 1535, was five years of
age when Jane Shore did penance; he could hardly remember the event,
even if he saw it. Nor could the unfortunate woman retain much of her
early beauty when More was of an age to observe and to compare. At
the same time he probably knew plenty of people who could remember the
London beauty in her pride, and in the full flow of her generosity and
wit and grace.

The funeral of Edward was celebrated with great splendour. The
following account is taken from _Archæologia_, vol. i.:—

“But when that noble prince the good King Edward the iiiith was
deceased, at Westminster in his paleys, which was the 5th day of April,
the xxiii yer of his reign:

First, the corps was leyde upon a borde all naked, saving he was
covered from the navell to the knees, and so lay openly X or XII
hourez, that all the lordes both spirituell and temporell then beying
in London or ner theraboute, and the meyer of London with his bredre
sawe hym so lyng, and then he was sered etc. and was brought into the
chapell on the morn after, when wer songen iii solemn massez: first
of our Lady songe by the chapeleyn: and so was the second of the
courte: the iiide masse of Requiem whiche was songen by the bishop of
Chichester, and at afternoon ther was songen dirige and commendacion.

After that he had the hole psalter seid by the chapell, and at nyght
well wecched with nobles and oder his servants, whose names ensuen
like an apperethe in the watche rolle from the first nyght in tyme he
was beryed. And at the masse of Requiem the lorde Dacre, the queen’s
chambreleyn, offred for the quene, and the lordes temporell offred
dayly at that seid masse, but the lordez spirituells offred not to
the bishop but to the high auter, and oder the King’s servants offred
also: this ordre was kept in the paleys viii dayez, savinge after the
first daye ther was but on solemp masse, whiche alway was songen by
a bishop: and on Wednysday the xvii day of the monyth, the corps was
convenied into the abbey born by divers knyghts and esquires that wer
for his body: having upon the corps a riche and a large blak cloth
of gold with a crosse of white cloth of gold, and above that a riche
canapye of cloth imperiall frenged with gold and blue silk. And at
every corner a baner. And the Lord Howard ber the King’s baner next
before the corps, having the officers of armez aboute them. Wher was
ordeyned a worthy herse like as it apperteyneth, having before hym a
grete procession. And in that herse, above the corps and the cloth of
gold abovesaid, ther was a personage like to the similitude of the king
in habite roiall, crowned with the verray crown on his hed. Holding in
that one hande a sceptr, and in that other hand a balle of silver and
gilte with a crosplate. And after that the lordes that wer within the
herse, and the bisshoppez had offred, the meyer of London offred, and
next after hym the chef juge and other juges and knyghts of the Kings
hous with the barons of the eschequier and aldermen of London as they
myght went to. And when the masse was don and all other solempnite, and
that the lordes wer redy for to ryde: ther was ordeyned a roiall char
covered with blak velvet, having about that a blak clothe of gold with
a white cross of gold: under that a mageste clothe of blak sarsenet,
drawen with vi coursers trapped with blac velvet with certeyn scochens
betyn upon sarsenet betyn with fyne gold. Apon the fore hors and the
third hors sate ii charet men. And on the iiii oder hors satte iiii
henchemen. On either side the for seid draught went divers knyghts
and esquiers for the body and other: some leying their handez to the
draught and some leyding the hors unto tyme they passed the townes
whose namez ensuen.

And the Lorde Haward, the Kings banerer, rode next before the
forschorse bering the Kings baner upon a courser trapped with blak
velvet with divers scochons of the Kings armez with his morenyng hudd
on his hed. When the corps with the personage as above with procession
of bishoppes in pontificalibz and the iiii ordrez of frerez was
conveyed to the chare. And in ordre as above to Charingcrosse wher
the bishops sensed the char, and the lordes toke their horse, and so
proceded to Syon that nyght, where at the churche dore the bishoppes
censed the corps, etc., the corps and the personage was born as before
in the qure. And ther the bishop of Duresm did the service. And on the
morn in like ordre as above he was conveyed to the chare, and from
thens to Wyndesore.”



On the death of Edward IV., the Duke of Gloucester made haste to seize
upon the Prince, his elder son, then a boy of thirteen, on his way from
Ludlow Castle to Westminster.

[Illustration: RICHARD III. (1452-1485)

After the painting in Windsor Castle.]

The City thereupon began to busy itself about the Coronation Festival.
The civic procession was already organised (Sharpe, _London and the
Kingdom_, i. 319). The City Fathers were to meet the young King who
would come into the City: they were to be arrayed in gowns of scarlet,
their attendants, including five sergeants at mace belonging to the
Mayor and nineteen belonging to the Sheriffs, would have gowns of pied
de lyon colour: the sword-bearer with four hundred and ten persons,
forming a deputation from the guilds, were to have gowns of murrey. The
riding out duly took place: the procession met the young King and the
Duke of Gloucester at Hornsey and rode back with them to the Tower.
That same day the Queen-mother with her younger son took sanctuary
again at Westminster.

Gloucester took up his quarters at Crosby House or Hall, which still
remains though greatly altered. The house was built by Sir Thomas
Crosby, Grocer and Woolman, in the year 1466, on a piece of land
belonging to St. Helen’s Nunnery, let to him by Alice Ashfield,
Prioress, for ninety-nine years. Sir John Crosby cleared away the
tenements which covered the spot, together with the poor people who
lived in them, and built this palace, where he died in 1475. When the
long lease expired there was no nunnery left to claim the ground.


  _Grove and Boulton._



What follows belongs to the history of England. Yet it must be briefly
narrated for the part taken in these events by the City. Gloucester
began by executing without trial and without law Lord Hastings, the
most powerful friend of the young King, on a trumped-up charge of
conspiracy. He then called the Mayor and Aldermen to the Tower and gave
them his version of the business. For himself the execution served his
purposes: it removed an obstacle and it proclaimed his power. He next
issued a proclamation as to the treason of Hastings, whom he connected
with the notorious and unbridled incontinency of the late King. He then
courted the City favour by bestowing honours on the City magistrates.
London has always been open to flattery by royal distinctions. He made
the Mayor a Privy Councillor. This drew to his side, one may suppose,
not only the Mayor himself, but some of the Aldermen, with the Mayor’s
brother, Dr. Shaw, a celebrated preacher. It was arranged that Shaw,
who was to preach on the following Sunday at Paul’s Cross, should
open the subject of the succession. The subject and the matter of the
sermon were obviously agreed upon beforehand. The sermon is “reported”
in More’s _Life of Edward V_. If his account of it be true then Shaw
must have been one of the most brazen liars then living. His text was
taken from the Book of Wisdom, and it showed at the outset what line
the sermon would take. The words “Bastard slips shall take no deep
root.” He said that the late King having promised marriage to the Lady
Elizabeth Lucy before she would consent to her own dishonour, and
having had a child by her, was already married to her—yet a Catholic
Priest knew very well that there is no marriage except that which is
celebrated by the Church: that his marriage with Elizabeth Woodville
was therefore null and void, and that his children by Elizabeth were
illegitimate. Therefore, of course, they could not succeed.

Next, neither the late King, nor his late brother, the Duke of
Clarence, nor, consequently, the son of Clarence, had any right to the
throne because, as was well known—the allegation may have had some
slight foundation in scandals and gossip but could not be known to the
citizens,—their mother, the late Duchess of York, was an adulteress,
and these two Princes were the children of a certain person about the
Duke of York’s Court. “But,” he cried, “in ancestry my Lord Protector,
that noble Prince, the Pattern of all Virtuous and Heroic Actions,
carried in his Air and in his Mien and in his Soul the perfect Image of
his illustrious father the Great Duke of York.”

According to some Gloucester was to have appeared at this point as if
by accident, but he did not come. Either he mistook the time, or he was
hindered, or his mind misgave him, or news came to Baynard’s Castle,
which was no more than five minutes’ distance, that the people were
cold and quiet. If this account be true, the _coup_ was missed. It is,
however, stated by Fabyan that the Duke of Gloucester, accompanied by
Buckingham and other Lords, was present during the sermon which branded
his mother as an adulteress. One would willingly believe that Fabyan
was wrong. In what follows, one hopes that he was right. For he tells
us that Dr. Shaw never ceased to feel the agonies of remorse for this
sermon, which helped to bring death upon two innocent boys, and that
he died shortly afterwards. Next, the Mayor and Aldermen, the Common
Council, and the principal citizens, were summoned to Guildhall to hear
the Duke of Buckingham on affairs of State. The City was in silent
surprise: most men knew, or feared, what was coming. The Princes in
the Tower; sanctuary broken and by order of the Archbishop; Hastings
executed; Shaw proclaiming the illegitimacy of the Princes and their
father; what but one thing could these actions mean? The citizens
assembled, however, in silence: and in silence they stood while
Buckingham, in a long oration, endeavoured to bring them round to the
point which he desired. If it be reported truly, or only in substance,
as he delivered it, the speech must be accounted a remarkable effort.
Unfortunately, it must be considered as apocryphal, as the speeches
in history usually are. As it is reported, however, he attacked the
morals of the King, his lewdness and incontinency, which was easy;
he asked them to remember the many cruelties of his reign, which was
also easy—but Edward was no more revengeful or bloodthirsty than his
enemies; he recalled the bloodshed and slaughter through which he had
climbed to the throne, the heavy taxes he had imposed—in which he
compared favourably with his predecessors; he repeated the calumnies
and statements of Dr. Shaw; he showed—which was the most moving
argument of all—the miseries of having a child for King. “Vae Regno
cujus Rex puer est!” What sufferings had the realm endured through the
long minority of Henry VI.! Finally, he called upon them in impassioned
terms to proclaim Richard, Duke of Gloucester, lawful King of England.
No one replied: the citizens stood in cold silence. The Duke repeated
part of his speech: they still remained impassive. The Mayor suggested
that perhaps they resented an address from one who did not belong to
them: they expected to hear the voice of their Recorder. The Duke
therefore ordered their Recorder to speak to them, in accordance with
City usage. The Recorder did so, repeating the Duke’s own words. Yet
still the citizens remained silent. Buckingham thereupon told them
that their voice was not wanted in the matter at all: the succession
was already decided upon by the Lords. He had invited their voices as
a compliment to the City. They might, however, answer Yea or Nay—would
they have the Protector to reign over them? A few hats were thrown up
with the cry, King Richard! King Richard! upon which the Duke declared
that the citizens were unanimous, and retired. The day after, Richard,
being then at Baynard’s Castle and not at Crosby House, as is generally
supposed, received the Mayor and Aldermen, and, pretending it to be
much against his wish, accepted the proffered crown.

In the dead silence, neither of approval nor of dissent, which greeted
the Duke’s speech we may read anxiety, doubt, and even dismay. The
history of Henry III., of Richard II., of Henry VI., all cried aloud
the dangers that awaited a country whose King was a child. All the
rivers of blood, the destruction of noble houses, the loss of France,
the national humiliation, the waste of treasure, the ruin of trade, of
the last sixty years were caused by the feebleness of a child King,
and the dissensions of his guardians. Were all those troubles to be
begun again? It would seem so. We have seen a similar hesitation
with the Archbishops over the invasion of Sanctuary. Both Princes,
if the younger should join his brother in the Tower, would be most
certainly murdered; no one could doubt that; yet—yet—what were the
lives of these two boys compared with the chance of bringing peace
once more to this distracted country? I am, therefore, of opinion that
the Archbishops consented to the removal of the younger boy and the
violation of Sanctuary deliberately, and knowing full well beforehand
that the children would be murdered: yet feeling that the evils of a
long minority were far worse than the murder of two boys: and that a
strong King sitting on the throne, however he got there, was above all
things needed by the distracted and bleeding and impoverished country.
In the same way I am of opinion that in the City the nomination of
Richard was a thing agreed upon by the City—it certainly was agreed
upon—deliberately and perhaps unanimously, perhaps also in heaviness of
spirit—in order to prevent worse calamities.

After the defeat and death of Buckingham, Richard received a loyal
welcome from the City, together with a petition in which the citizens
boldly told him that they were resolved no longer to live in thraldom
and bondage, “oppressed and injured by extortions and new impositions
against the laws of God and man.” Richard received this protest
graciously, and passed a statute acknowledging that the exaction
of money under the name of a benevolence was unconstitutional. He
also pleased the City by forbidding alien merchants to have alien
apprentices. In 1484-85, when it was known that Henry Tudor would
attempt an invasion, the City presented the King first with the sum of
£2400 and afterwards with £2000. Thus assisted, Richard marched out of
London and met his enemy at Bosworth Field.

With the death of Richard we may fitly close the history of Mediæval
London. The City no longer stands in isolation surrounded by its grey
old walls: on the East and North suburbs are rising outside the walls:
along the roads stand inns and taverns and houses for half a mile
beyond the gates: Westminster is joined to London by a mile of Palaces
as well as by the river highway: the old danger that the City might
become another Venice—a state in itself—is gone: the other danger,
that it would be seized by any King and deprived of its liberties is
also gone. London was the chief town of the kingdom: the centre of the
Parliament: the centre of intellectual life. Its institutions were by
this time fully grown and fully formed.

                                PART II

                          SOCIAL AND GENERAL




Let us go back to the fourteenth century; let us walk about London in
the reign of Edward III., great Captain and glorious Sovereign. Before
we enter the City we will first stand upon the wall and look out upon
the country outside. The wall itself, of Roman origin so far as the
foundation and the core, has been faced and refaced and repaired over
and over again. It is provided still, however, as in Roman times,
with round bastions about 250 feet apart. One of these bastions, much
rebuilt, overlooks, beyond the ditch, the church and churchyard of St.
Giles, Cripplegate; the towers, erected at irregular intervals, belong
to a period after the Romans. The wall is twenty-two feet high; the
height of the towers is forty feet.

The wall kept out the Danes in six successive sieges, it kept out Earl
Godwin in 1052.

[Illustration: THE WHITE TOWER]

The most important repairs which the wall has lately received are
those of the Barons in 1215, who, after entering the City by Aldgate,
breaking into the Jews’ houses, pillaging them of their valuables, and
taking away all their money, used the stones of their houses for the
repair of the gates and the wall. In the year 1257 Henry III. caused
the wall to be again repaired and strengthened. In 1282 the south-west
corner was shifted west in order to enclose the House of the Dominicans
lately removed from their old house in Holborn. This new part of the
wall rose along the bank of the Fleet. It was built, but very slowly,
by the Corporation. Once more, in 1328, the walls were repaired, and
again in 1386, when there was a scare about a French invasion, and the
citizens in great haste repaired the wall and the gates and cleared
out the ditch. The frequency of the repair seems to indicate bad and
slovenly work. In 1477 the wall was strengthened in many places. After
this, little or nothing seems to have been done for it.

The whole circuit of the wall is 2 miles and 605 feet. It is provided
with battlements on the outside and a ledge or standing-place within,
two or three feet wide, for the defenders. There may have been also
some kind of rail for protection on the inside; the railing, however,
sometimes found on old walls still existing, as at Chester, is modern;
and we observe that the walls of York, Aigues Mortes, Avignon, and
other places, are without any railing. Outside the wall lies the ditch,
broad and deep, first constructed in the early part of the thirteenth
century; the water is kept flowing by means of a culvert in the wall
which leads it into the old bed of the Walbrook; it is renewed and kept
fresh by certain small streams which fall into it from the Moorfields;
it is full of fish, but since nothing can keep the people from throwing
things into it, the water is always growing more shallow and the ditch
always needs more dredging. The White Tower is built upon the original
eastern end of the wall. Just north of the Tower on the east side is a
postern of late date giving access to the riverside; and it serves as
access to two religious houses, but there are no dwelling-houses there.
St. Katherine’s by the Tower, one of the religious houses, stands on
the bank of the river. It is quite a small foundation, but from the
beginning it has been closely connected with the Queens of England.
On the north of St. Katherine’s rises the stately Abbey of Grace,
Graces, or Eastminster, not one of the most wealthy monasteries, but an
important house, provided with very beautiful buildings (see vol. ii.
pt. iii. ch. xxvi.). Between the ditch and the monastery is the open
space called Little Tower Hill with its Stone Cross.


From Dugdale’s _Monasticon_.]

The Town Ditch begins just south of Smithfield at the angle. There is
no ditch along the west wall; probably there never was any, the Fleet
River serving here for the moat. There is a Bridge over the ditch for
the Grey Friars’ Postern, and another outside Aldersgate.

As we walk along the wall northwards, looking over the battlements, we
see, running across the broad stretch of level ground, a roadway. It is
not in the least like a modern road, or a Roman road; it is simply a
wide grassy track broken up by feet of horses and by ruts! the latter
are both broad and deep, for wheels are broad and carts are heavy.
Trees stand here and there along the road; dotted about the fields are
farm buildings, barns, and gardens. Presently, our view across the
fields is blocked by the House of the Sorores Minores, the Sisters of
St. Clare. You can see the nuns walking in their cloister garth; the
buildings lying among their gardens and their orchards look strangely
quiet and peaceful. As for the Sisters, they are reputed to be good
and pious; the voice of scandal may be making free with the Mendicant
Friars, and with the richly endowed monks; but no word or whisper of
scandal has ever been uttered as regards these Franciscan Sisters.
The farm beside their house, with the meadows, farm buildings, and
farm-yard, rich with cows, sheep, swine, and fowls, belongs to the good
Sisters, and is cultivated for them. It is one of the most ancient of
the market gardens of London.

We arrive at the first of the City gates—Aldgate, otherwise spelt
Algate or Alegate; but, according to Prof. Skeat, _ald_ is Med. Eng.
for _old_. It was not one of the Roman gates, because the Romans
would not make a gate opening simply to the outside, and there was no
Roman road connected with this part of the wall. It is, however, a
sufficiently ancient gate. The gate is double, with two portcullises,
but the drawbridge has become practically a permanent bridge; beside
the gate is a hermitage. Such hermitages near gates and bridges are not
uncommon. The hermit lives on the alms of the passers-by and promises
his prayers in return. There are sometimes two or three hermits lodged
together in one cell; their piety is occasionally doubtful; but
concerning the piety of the Aldgate hermit have I heard nothing. It is
not known when this gate was first constructed, certainly before the
time of Fitz Stephen; probably after the arrival of the Conqueror. We
may, if we please, ascribe its opening to Henry I., connecting it with
the tradition which used to make his Queen the builder of Bow Bridge.
In the neighbourhood of this gate, many years subsequently to the era
we are considering, Roman coins were found sixteen feet deep.

Each of the City gates is granted to a Sergeant-at-Arms, who occupies
the chambers over the gateway, and whose duty it is to keep watch at
night, being assisted by a watchman (_wayte_) whom he keeps at his own
expense. During the day each gate, according to the City regulations,
is kept by two men well armed; sometimes the Bedel is directed to
summon the men of the Ward to watch the gate armed, those absent
finding substitutes at their own expense. This is done as a reminder
of their duty. The City Gates, the Gate of London Bridge, and the City
Posterns, are let to certain persons from time to time, for the profit,
no doubt, arising from the farming of the tolls; Geoffrey Chaucer at
this very time has taken a lease of that at Aldgate. The keepers of the
City Gates are sworn, among other things, not to allow lepers to pass
into the City.

Newgate and Ludgate have been prisons from time immemorial. All the
chambers over all the gates are let on the condition that they may be
taken over as prisons if they are wanted.

[Illustration: CHAUCER

From the Ellesmere MS.]

On the north side, just outside the gate, stands one of the churches
dedicated to St. Botolph, the saint who protected travellers. The first
church built outside the wall must have been erected when times grew
somewhat settled,—it would have been little use building up a church
which at any time could be destroyed by marauders. Now as Botolph was a
Saxon Saint this church must have been built after the Danes had become
Christian, but before the Norman Conquest. In St. Botolph’s honour the
old town of Icanhoe changed its name to Botolphstown, or Boston.

Beyond the church are certain inns for the convenience of travellers;
among them the “Nuns” Inn. By this way come all the travellers and the
waggons out of Essex, the garden of England. In the broad courtyard
of the inns stand for safety the covered waggons laden and piled high,
to be driven to market in the morning. About a hundred yards beyond
the gate stands Aldgate Bar, corresponding to the later turnpike.
There are other bars which mark the bounds of the City liberties, but
the distance from each gate is not always the same. Temple Bar, for
instance, is a long way beyond Ludgate; Aldersgate Bar is near the
north end of Aldersgate Street; Bishopsgate Bar is near the Prior’s
Almshouse, Norton Folgate. Along the broad grassy track beyond Aldgate
Bar stands a small white chapel, that of St. Mary Matfelon, and there
are already a few houses, but not many. Beyond Aldgate and before
Bishopsgate the wall runs in a northwesterly direction; on the opposite
bank of the ditch there are certain small tenements. At this point
the ditch is called Houndsditch, because, it is said, “dead dogs are
thrown in here.” But dead dogs are thrown into other ditches as well.
People do not carry a dead dog to this part of the wall in order to
throw it into the ditch, so that this derivation does not ring true.
Houndsditch was probably so named from the kennels standing on the
north side—“dog-houses” they are called by the people. The breeding of
dogs for the hunt is a very important branch of trade; it can only be
carried on in the open country outside the wall of the City. A low wall
has been erected on the north side of the ditch to prevent the shooting
of rubbish into it, but, apparently, without effect. Beyond the wall
the broad stretch of fields belongs to the Priory of the Holy Trinity.

The next gate is Bishopsgate, the most stately of all the London gates.
The Bishop after whom it is named is Bishop Erkenwald (cons. 675, d.
693), perhaps because he rebuilt or repaired its predecessor. Not
exactly on this spot, but very near to this spot, on the east, stood
the Roman gate of which these are the successors. The foundations of
this original gate have been found in Camomile Street. There is a row
of Almshouses at Bishopsgate Bars for poor bedridden folk, who are
provided with a roof at least, while they beg their bread of passers-by.

If we remember that Newgate was also rebuilt some distance south of its
original position, we shall find strong confirmation of the theory that
London was for a while a deserted City. For it is impossible that the
occupation of a City should be continuous if the old position of the
gates is forgotten. Nor is it only the site of the gates itself which
is concerned; the change of position of a gate means the destruction
and the obliteration of the old streets in the City which led to it;
also of the roads outside which led to it: it means total oblivion of
the former position of houses and streets. All this is meant by the
transference of a gate. As for the date of the transference, we have
the tradition which makes the good Bishop Erkenwald the builder; we
have, close by the gate, the Church of St. Ethelburga, who was the
Bishop’s friend. On the other hand, Alfred found the wall in a ruinous
condition and strengthened it. Perhaps it was he who built the gate.
The actual gate before which we are now, in imagination, standing,
was erected in 1210, and succeeded that built by either Alfred or
Erkenwald. The two stone images of Bishops on the south side of this
represent St. Erkenwald and William the Norman; the other two images
are those of Alfred and his son-in-law Ethelred, Earl of Mercia.

Outside this gate we observe a second church dedicated to St. Botolph,
and opposite the church one of the great inns which are found outside
every City gate. This is the “Dolphin.” The broad road outside leads
past the poverty-stricken House of St. Mary of Bethlehem, now reduced
to two or three Brethren, through an almost continuous line of houses
as far as the noble and beneficent foundation of St. Mary Spital,
whither the sick folk of London are brought by hundreds to lie in the
sweet fresh country air outside the foul smells of the City. The road
leads also to Holywell Nunnery on the west, and as far as the little
church of St. Leonard Shoreditch, lying among the gardens and the
orchards. At the east end of the road is a great field, “Teazle Field,”
where they used to cultivate teazles for the clothmakers: at the
time we are considering it is the place where the crossbow-men shoot
for prizes. In Lollesworth Field, behind St. Mary Spital, there was
formerly a Roman cemetery: many evidences of the fact have been found.

Leaving Bishopsgate and walking along the straight line of wall running
nearly east and west we look out upon the open moor. It is dotted
by ponds and intersected by sluggish streams and ditches; there are
kennels belonging to the City Hunt and to rich citizens, and all day
long you can hear the barking of dogs. There is a stretch of moorland,
waste and uncultivated, covered with rank grass and weeds and reeds
and flowers of the marsh, which is an area of irregular shape, roughly
speaking, 400 yards from east to west by 300 yards from north to
south. Any buildings erected here must stand upon piles driven into
the London Clay. There is talk about the construction of a postern
opening upon the moor and of causeways across the moor. These would be
of great convenience to people wishing to go across to Iselden, or upon
pilgrimage to Our Lady of Muswell Hill or Willesden. There is already
a causeway leading from Bishopsgate Street without to Fensbury Court,
where there was a quadrangular house with a garden and a pond belonging
to the Mayor; and here are the kennels for the “Common Hunt.” Houses
now become thicker outside the wall; and when we reach Cripplegate we
find there is a considerable suburb, with a church called after St.
Giles. It was built two hundred years ago in the reign of Henry I.,
so that, as far back as the twelfth century, there was at least the
beginning of a suburb at this place.

As to the first building of Cripplegate there has been a good deal
of conjecture. Since the church was founded about the year 1090,
it is certain that there must have been, even then, a postern at
least for communication between the City and this suburb. And since
the name Cripplegate has nothing to do with any cripples but means
small—“crepul”—gate, the name seems to point to existence of a postern
at first. The gate, whoever built it originally, has been already
rebuilt; once in 1244 by the Brewers—perhaps they changed it from a
postern to a gate—who also constructed rooms above, which serve for the
imprisonment of debtors. You may see one at the barred window, holding
a string with a cup at the end of it, for the charity of pitiful
persons. Put in it a penny for the poor debtors. I think, from the
appearance of the gate, that it will have to be repaired again before

Here the wall bends suddenly to the south by west, running in that
direction for 850 feet. Then it turns sharply to the west and after a
little to the south again. Why did it take this sudden bend? There has
never been anything in the nature of the ground to necessitate any such
turn: there is neither stream, nor lake, nor rock, nor hill, in the
way. Outside the wall, when it was first put up, there was moorland at
this spot as all along the north, yet there must have been some reason.
I have already ventured to offer a suggestion, which I repeat in this
place, that this is the site of the Roman amphitheatre.

Just beyond the turn of the wall we come to Aldersgate. There appears
to be no tradition concerning the date of this gate. It was one of the
first four gates of the City; and it has been enlarged by the addition
of a great framework house on the south side, and another on the east
side, the latter of which is remarkable for the possession of a very
deep well within its walls. Outside the gate is yet another church of
St. Botolph. Beyond the church you may observe the modest buildings of
a Fraternity. It is an Alien House called the Brotherhood of St. Fabian
and St. Sebastian. Beyond the House of this Brotherhood are two or
three great houses belonging to nobles. The cluster of religious houses
in this neighbourhood may account for the number of houses which very
early began to grow up around them. Under the wall is the Hospital of
St. Bartholomew; beyond the Hospital is the Priory; beyond the Priory
is the House of the Carthusian Friars; and on the west of these are the
houses of the Knights Hospitallers and the Clerkenwell Nuns. Standing
on the wall we command an excellent view of these buildings: grouped
about in picturesque beauty, they stand among trees and gardens; beyond
them, close to the City wall, lies the level plain of Smithfield with
its trees and ponds, with its Horse Fair and its Cloth Fair, with its
race-course and its gibbet, the place of amusements, the place of
executions, the place of ordeal.

Beyond Aldersgate the wall runs west for a little, when it turns south
again and passes Newgate. This is a goodly and a strong gate, and
beside it stands the prison of which, at another time, we will speak at
length. As we have said, Newgate, like Bishopsgate, was not built upon
the site of the Roman Gate but near it. This is the traditional history
of the gate:—

“This gate was first erected about the reign of Henry the First or of
King Stephen, upon this occasion. The Cathedral Church of St. Paul,
being burnt about the year 1086 in the reign of William the Conqueror,
Mauritius, then Bishop of London, repaired not the old church, as
some have supposed, but began the foundation of a new work, such as
men then judged would never have been performed: it was to them so
wonderful for heighth, length, and breadth, as also in respect it was
raised upon arches or vaults, a kind of workmanship brought in by
the Normans, and never known to the artificers of this land before
that time. After Mauritius, Richard Beaumore did wonderfully advance
the work of the said church, purchasing the large streets and lanes
round about, wherein were wont to dwell many lay-people, which grounds
he began to compass about with a strong wall of stone and gates. By
means of this increase of the church territory, but more by enclosing
of ground for so large a cœmitery or churchyard, the high and large
street stretching from Aldgate in the east to Ludgate in the west, was
in this place so crossed and stopped up, that the carriage through
the city westward was forced to pass without the said churchyard wall
on the north side, through Paternoster row; and then south, down
Ave Marie lane; and again west, through Bowyer row to Ludgate; or
else out of Cheap, or Watheling Street to turn south through the old
Change; then west through Carter lane, again north up Creed lane and
then west to Ludgate. Which passage, by reason of so much turning,
was very cumbersome and dangerous both for horse and man. For remedy
whereof a new gate was made, and so called, by which men and cattle,
with all manner of carriages, might pass more directly (as before)
from Aldgate, through west Cheap by St. Paul’s, on the north side:
through St. Nicholas Shambles and Newgate market to Newgate, and from
thence to any part westward over Holborn bridge, or turning without
the gate into Smithfield, and through Iseldon to any part north and
by west. This gate hath of long time been a gaol or prison for felons
and trespassers, as appeareth by records in the reign of King John and
of other kings; amongst the which I find one testifying, that in the
year 1218, the 3rd of King Henry the Third, the King writeth unto the
Sheriffs of London, commanding them to repair the gaol of Newgate for
the safe keeping of his prisoners, promising that the charges laid out
should be allowed unto them upon their accompt in the Exchequer.”

Continuing our walk we overlook the Fleet River, which is much choked
with filth and rubbish, especially from things thrown into it from
the Fleet prison, whose walls it washes and whose refuse it receives.
Perhaps after heavy rains it becomes a cleaner stream. Over against
it rises the steep slope of Holborn crowned with its ancient church
of St. Andrew. The broad road on which it stands is the military
road, which branched off from the Roman road, when London Bridge
was built. Formerly, and long after the building of the Bridge, the
highway between the north and the south ran across the marshes round
Westminster, and over Thorney Island itself.

Ludgate—perhaps, we do not know—was built as a postern before the
Conquest. It was rebuilt or strongly repaired, in the year 1215, by the
Barons when they entered the City and pillaged the Jews, as already
mentioned. Ludgate is now—in this fourteenth century—also a prison
concerning which more will be said hereafter.

The wall of London at first passed in a direction due south to the
river from this gate, which was on the hill just without the Church of
St. Martin. Between the wall and the Fleet was a small piece of wet and
undesirable ground on which the Dominicans were permitted to settle;
it was their precinct, outside the jurisdiction of the City. Presently
the Friars were allowed to pull down the City walls beside them. This
was in 1276. The King ordered the City to apply some of the murage dues
to building a new wall on the banks of the Fleet, so as to include the
House of the Dominicans. Three years later the order was renewed, yet
the wall remained unfinished. The lack of zeal probably meant a growing
disbelief in the importance of the wall, especially that part of it
which overlooked the muddy banks and the mouth of the Fleet. The wall,
however, was finished in due course.

We have now completed our circuit of the City wall and have seen what
was in the immediate neighbourhood of London. Farmhouses and pasture
lands in the direction of Stepney and Mile End; beyond them, which we
could not see, the low-lying lands and marshes of the river Lea. North
of Bishopsgate is a line of houses, three or four stately monasteries,
and inns for travellers; north of Moorgate a vast marsh crossed by
causeways, given over chiefly to kennels; beyond the moor, the pleasant
village of Iselden. At Cripplegate, a suburb populous but composed
entirely of craftsmen; outside Aldersgate, stately monasteries, a noble
hospital for the sick, a tract of ground, flat, dotted with ponds,
with some small clusters of trees upon it, decorated by a gibbet on
which hang always the mouldering remains of some poor dead wretches, a
gallows-tree on which half a dozen can be comfortably hanged at once.
This place is also the site of a great cloth fair held once a year,
of a horse fair once a week; and a part is given over to the Jews for
their burial-place. On the west, looking out from Ludgate, there is
the slope to the Fleet River, with its bridge; the street beyond with
its one or two great houses and its shops and taverns beginning to
spring up; beyond this street there is the rising slope of the Strand,
with its glittering streamlets. And standing on the southern tower of
the wall we can look across the river, and see on the other side, the
immense marsh that extends from Redriff to Battersea, and the gentle
rise of the Surrey Hills beyond. Along that southern marsh there are
few houses as yet. Southwark is little more than a High Street. There
are one or two houses belonging to Bishop, Abbot, and noble; there are
the infamous houses on Bankside; there is the Archbishop’s Palace at
Lambeth, but on this side there is little more.

Let us now leave the wall and begin to walk about the streets of the
City—we are still, it must be remembered, in the fourteenth century.
The first and most distinctive feature of every mediæval city, as
compared with its modern successor, is the number of its churches and
of its monastic foundations. The latter, it is true, are situated
outside the very heart of the City—thus, there are no convents in
Thames Street. The Dominicans, as we have seen, were at first outside
the wall: one religious foundation there was in Cheapside itself, but
that was due to the birthplace of a saint; all the rest were placed
near the wall, either within or without, one reason being that they
were founded late when the inner part of the City was already filled
up, and another, that they were founded, for the most part, with
slender endowments, so that they were compelled to get land where
it was cheapest. But the churches stand in every street; one cannot
escape the presence of a church; and the minute size of the parishes
proves, among other things, the former density of the population.
Take, for instance, that part of Thames Street which extends from St.
Peter’s Hill to Little College Street. That is a length of 1600 feet
by a breadth averaging 400 feet. This area, which is divided along the
upper part by Thames Street, consists almost entirely of warehouses,
wharves, and narrow lanes leading to the river stairs; the south of it
consists of that curious little collection of inhabited streets, the
whole of which was reclaimed from the foreshore; there are a tangle of
narrow lanes and noisome courts lying among and between the wharves,
which lanes and courts are always foul and stinking, inhabited by the
people belonging to the service of the Port. There are actually five
parishes in that little district. The first of them, St. Peter’s,
contains not quite two acres; the second, St. Mary Somerset, about
four acres; the third, St. Michael’s, Queenhithe, about two acres and
a half; the fourth, St. James, Garlickhithe, the same; and the fifth,
St. Martin Vintry, about three acres and three-quarters. Five parishes
in this little slip of land! But if we take the whole slip of land,
which we call the riverside—an area of a mile in length by about 400
feet in width, we find that there are no fewer than eighteen parishes
in it. All the churches now within the City, together with those which
must have been burned or destroyed, are standing in the century we are
considering. So frequent are the churches, so scanty the dimensions of
the parish, that the most remarkable feature in the architecture and
appearance of the City is the church which one sees in every street
and from every point of view. These churches have been already rebuilt
over and over again. At first they were small wooden structures, like
that at Greenstead, Chipping Ongar, with their walls composed of
trunks cut in half and placed side by side. A few were of stone, for
the name of St. Mary Staining commemorates such a church. After the
Conquest a rage for building set in, builders and masons came over
from the Continent in numbers, and the period of Norman architecture
began. Still, however, the parish churches continued to be small and
dark. But the City grew richer: the nobles who lived in the City and
the merchants began to rebuild, to decorate, and to beautify their
churches: they pulled down the old churches, they built them up again
larger and lighter, in Early English first and next in Decorated Style.
Small the City churches continued and remained, but to some of them
were added gateways and arches. Adorned as they were by the pious care
of the citizens, for generation after generation, by this fifteenth
century they had become beautiful. The citizens had filled the windows
with painted glass, they had covered the bare walls with paintings,
they had erected tombs for themselves with fine carved work and figures
in marble and alabaster, they had covered the carved font with a carved
tabernacle, they had glorified the roof with gold and azure, they had
given the chancel carved seats, they had adorned the altars, they had
given organs, they had endowed the church with singing men and boys,
and they had bestowed upon it such collections of plate, furniture,
rich robes, candlesticks, and altar cloths, as makes one wonder where
the Church found room to stow everything. Everybody knows the Treasury
of Notre Dame, of St. Denys, of Aix-la-Chapelle. The cupboards are
crammed with ecclesiastical gear and relics and reliquaries. We must
realise that the same thing, on a smaller scale, is to be seen, in the
fourteenth century, in every parish church of London. We look into
church after church. There are treasures in every one, treasures that
the priests and the sacristans bring out with pride. And the monuments
over the graves of City worthies bring out very strongly, as we stand
in the churches and read the names, the fact that the members of the
great distributing Companies, largely, if not entirely, belong to
families of gentle birth: upon this fact there will be more to say in
another place. Another point is that there are few monuments older than
this—the fourteenth-century. Thus, taking half a dozen of the churches
as we walk about the streets, we find that a monument of the thirteenth
century occurs in one or two cases only. What does this mean? That the
monuments of all the merchants who died in London and are buried in the
City churches have been removed or wantonly destroyed? I think not.
It has another meaning. The erection of monuments to the dead belongs
to a very primitive stage of civilisation, and it is also found in
an advanced stage; in times of continual uncertainty and warfare it
does not always exist: nor does the craftsman or the rustic desire a
post-mortem memory. The citizens of London before this time have not
generally nourished the desire of posthumous honour. They left money
for masses, or to beautify the church; or they founded doles for the
Mind Day, but not for the erection of a monument. This desire seems to
belong to a time when the conditions of life have been smoothed and
some of the old miseries have abated. Not that the dangers of fire,
famine, or pestilence ever weigh heavily upon the minds of a people
actively engaged; or that they are bowed down by the consciousness that
war, with a painful death on the field, is always a possibility for
them; or that they find life intolerable by reason of its diseases,
its chances, its changes, or its brevity. But it is quite certain
that they do realise so vividly the world to come, that in all their
transactions it is acknowledged in words, if not really felt, to be of
far greater importance than the world in which they live. Since, after
a time of Purgatory, one is going for ever to sit among the Saints,
what matters it whether one’s name is preserved or not? When many of
the old dangers are abated; when fortune is more stable; when wealth
accumulates; when the growth of the City brings dignity, honour, and
authority to the citizens,—then it may become natural for the people to
erect monuments in memory of the men whose personality in life has been
large and full of dignity; and then every man will begin to desire such
a monument in memory of those surprising achievements of which he alone
is conscious. Every family will begin to desire such a commemoration,
if only to swell the family pride, and to make the church itself
proclaim the glory of the line. But in the thirteenth century these
aspirations were rare. Henry of London Stone, first Mayor and Mayor for
five-and-twenty years, was one of those thus honoured.

Let us exchange generalities for a single example.

We are standing at the entrance of a narrow lane leading north from
Thames Street. It is the street called Fish Street Hill or Labour in
Vain Hill. On the south-east corner stands the very ancient church of
St. Mary Somerset. It is placed a little back from Thames Street with
part of its churchyard on the south side: it is a large and handsome
church; the churchyard is planted with trees and the graves are mounds
of grass. We enter the street, which presents a steep incline: down
the middle runs a tiny stream, for there has been rain; offal, bones,
grease, fish-heads, dirty water, refuse of all kinds float down this
stream, which, after a heavy shower, keeps the street comparatively
clean and wholesome. There are, however, fortunately, other scavengers
besides the rain; they swoop down out of the sky, they alight in the
street, they tear the offal with their beaks and claws, they carry it
up to the house-tops; these are the kites and crows, who build their
nests on the church towers and roofs, and find their food in the refuse
thrown out into the streets. Were it not for these birds, London
streets would be intolerable.

It is a morning in May: along the street on either side are houses;
here is a rich merchant’s house standing behind its wall, and beside it
is a little tenement occupied by a craftsman. Looking up the street one
can see green trees here and there, from those of St. Mary Somerset on
the south to those of St. Nicholas Cole Abbey on the north. Half-way up
we come upon a low wall; looking over it we see a churchyard shaded by
trees and covered with graves, the grass growing long and rank; on the
west side of the churchyard stands the church—it is a very small church
called St. Mary Mounthaw, one of the latest of the City churches, and
built originally as a chapel for a private family. Its name shows that
the parish was a slice of St. Mary Somerset, just as St. Katherine
Coleman was carved out of St. Katherine Cree, and All Hallows the Less
out of All Hallows the Great. The door is open—if we look in we see a
few women kneeling; there is the murmur of a chantry priest, for it
is morning, singing his daily mass; the church is Early English, the
roof is high, with beams crossing and recrossing, they are painted
red and gold; springing out from the side of the church are angels
with outspread wings; high up in the roof itself above the beams is a
sky all blue with silver stars. The walls of the church are decorated
with bright-coloured paintings from the life of the Blessed Virgin and
her Son; the windows are richly painted; the altar is covered with
candlesticks, crosses and furniture in white silk, gold, silver, and
latoun. There are two noble monuments, each with its effigy and its
chapel of white marble: one effigy wears a Bishop’s mitre; another is
the image of an Alderman, who was a benefactor to the church. Dozens of
candles stuck on iron sticks are burning, with a few great wax tapers
paid for by a bequest; at the door sit two old women, beggars. On the
north side of the church, and outside it, is a projecting structure
half underground. This is the anchorite’s cell (see vol. ii. pt. ii.
ch. v.): on the level of the ground is a small aperture protected by a
rusty iron grating without glass and without shutter; by this window
everything must be handed in to the occupant. If we look through the
bars, we see that within there reigns a dim and terrible twilight,
for no gleam of sunshine can penetrate this cold and gloomy den, and
even on this bright and sunny morning the air is cold and damp like
the air of a crypt. On the other side is a narrow slit in the wall,
like the leper’s squint, through which the anchorite can witness the
Elevation of the Host; at the end of the cell a raised stone serves
for an altar, a crucifix stands upon it, and before it the anchorite
spends most of his time day and night, praying. The present occupant
has been built up into this cell for many years; he subsists on what is
brought him. There is never any fear of his being starved or forgotten:
he is well provided for, and the people offer him dainties which he
will not touch, for he lives on bread and water: sick or well, he will
never leave this cell till they find him lying dead on the floor and
carry him out. And when the cell is empty there will be no difficulty
in finding a successor to occupy his place and fulfil the same dreary
austere life.

Let us leave the church and pass on. The street is very narrow, but
not so narrow as some. The houses, which are for the most part two and
three stories high, are gabled, and the windows are glazed: many of
them, such as those on Labour in Vain Hill, do not contain shops but
are what we should call private houses, some are let for lodgings to
those who come to town on business; and when the lodger is an _armiger_
or a noble, he hangs his scutcheon out of the window, or fixes it
on the wall above the door. Thus, Chaucer’s attention, you will
remember—see that famous lawsuit tried but the other day, Scrope _v._
Grosvenor—was first called to the doubtful heraldry on the Grosvenor
shield by seeing the scutcheon hanging out of the window in Friday
Street. The houses are not in line, but are placed as the builders
choose, fronting in various directions and abutting at different depths
on the street. Here is a narrow court leading out of the street, it
is so narrow that a man standing in the middle can easily touch
each side. It contains about a dozen small tenements inhabited by
craftsmen, who are all at work in the ground-floor rooms, which are
at once workshop, kitchen, and sleeping-room. All about, in the air,
one hears the continual noise of work, the sound of hammering, sawing,
grating, the ringing of the anvil, the voices of women who quarrel and
scold. Now and then rises, all in a moment, without warning, a sudden
brawl between two of the working men, at once knives are drawn and in
a moment the thing is over, but it leaves a little pool of blood in
the middle of the street, and a woman binds up a bleeding arm. We have
seen enough of the court. Come back into the street. Here is a gateway
and over it a gatehouse, but without battlements or portcullis. Two or
three men-at-arms are hanging about the gate, and within is a broad
square court in which boys, pages practising tilting, are riding about.
There are buildings on all four sides; one of these is a stately hall
with a lofty roof and lantern, and the others are noble buildings. This
is the town house of a great Baron, who rides with a following of three
hundred gentlemen and men-at-arms, and owns manors broad, rich, and
numerous. He maintains five hundred people, at least, in his service.
Next, there is another gateway and another court with another hall, but
not so great. This is the town house of the Bishop of Hereford. There
is no tilting or riding in his court: it is, on the other hand, turned
into a garden with roses and lilies blossoming in the flower-beds, a
fountain sparkling in the sunshine and splashing musically. There is a
south aspect, and vines are trained upon the wall; there is a sun-dial,
and some seats are placed upon the grass. As for the house, the
windows and porches are full of beautiful carved woodwork and shields
are carved on the walls. Below the windows are figures in bas-relief
representing all the virtues, and the great window of the hall is of
painted glass with the family arms of the Bishop, a man of no mean
descent, in the centre. Near the Bishop’s house, and like unto it in
appearance, but of lesser splendour, is the house of a great merchant,
as great men went in the fourteenth century. We will presently enter
one of these houses and see how they are furnished. And among the great
houses standing side by side, rich and poor together, as it should be,
are tenements of the craftsmen, such as we have seen in the narrow
court which we have just now passed. In the street itself, dabbling
in the water barefooted, are the children, rosy-cheeked, fair-haired,
playing, running, and shouting, as they do to this day, and always have
done since the beginning of the City.

Shall we next enter the City at Ludgate and walk about its streets from
there? Ludgate is half-way up the hill that rises above the valley of
the Fleet; passing through it we stand before the west front of St.
Paul’s. The noble church must be reserved for another occasion. We walk
through the churchyard, and so by the north-east gate of the Precinct
find ourselves in Chepe.

This is the greatest market of the City. Hither come the craftsmen, for
to each craft is assigned its own place in the market. Not only do the
trades work together, but they sell their wares together, so that there
is no underselling, and everything is offered at a fixed price.

There is a great deal to be said for this custom. It is convenient for
the apprentice to live and work in the atmosphere, so to speak, of
his own trade, and to see all day long his own industry. It is also
convenient for men of the same craft to work together, first, because
solitary labour is bad for a man, next, because hours of labour can
only be enforced when men work in companies, third, because bad work
cannot be successfully palmed off as good where all work is in common,
and, last, if any other reason were wanted, because in some trades
tools are costly, and by this method can be held and used in common.
Out of this working in common spring the fraternities and guilds and,
in fulness of time, the companies. There also grows up, what would
never have arisen out of solitary labour, the pride and dignity of
trade. The dignity of trade will be greatly increased when the City
Companies become rich and strong, and when each fraternity can carry on
occasions of state its own banners and insignia, and can wear its own
distinctive dress.

There were changes in the quarters of trade from time to time owing to
causes which we can only guess.

“Men of trades and sellers of wares in this City have oftentimes
since changed their places, as they have found their best advantage.
For whereas mercers and haberdashers used wholly then to keep their
shops in West Cheap; of later time they held them on London Bridge,
where partly they do yet remain. The Goldsmiths of Gutheron’s Lane
and the Old Exchange are now, for the most part, removed into the
south side of West Cheap. The pepperers and grocers of Soper’s Lane
are now in Bucklersbury, and other places dispersed. The drapers of
Lombard Street and of Cornhill are seated in Candlewick Street and
Watheling Street. The skinners from St. Marie Pellipers, or at the
Axe, into Budge Row and Walbrook. The stockfish-mongers in Thames
Street. Wet-fish-mongers in Knightriders Street and Bridge Street. The
ironmongers of Ironmongers’ Lane and Old Jury into Thames Street. The
vintners from the Vinetree into divers places. But the brewers for the
most part remain near to the friendly water of Thames. The butchers in
East Cheap, St. Nicholas Shambles, and the Stockes market. The hosiers,
of old time, in Hosier Lane, near unto Smithfield, are since removed
into Cordwainer Street, the upper part thereof, by Bow Church, and last
of all into Birchovers Lane by Cornhill. The shoemakers and curriers of
Cordwainer Street removed, the one to St. Martin’s le Grand, the other
to London wall near to Moorgate. The founders remain by themselves
in Lothbury. The cooks or pastelars, for the more part, in Thames
Street; the other dispersed into divers parts. The poulters of late
removed out of the Poultry, betwixt the Stockes and the Great Conduit
in Cheap, into Grass Street and St. Nicholas Shambles. Bowyers from
Bowyers’ Row by Ludgate into divers parts; and almost worn out with the
fletchers. The paternoster bead-makers and text-writers are gone out
of Paternoster Row, and are called stationers of Paul’s Churchyard.
The patten-makers, of St. Margaret Pattens Lane, are clean worn out.
Labourers every work-day are to be found in Cheap, about Soper’s Lane
end. Horse-coursers and sellers of oxen, sheep, swine, and such like,
remain in their old market of Smithfield.”


From an old print.]

West Chepe is a broad place covered with movable stalls arranged in
prescribed order; and this arrangement marks out the streets. On the
north and south are large “selds,” which are warehouses and shops in
which the servants have their sleeping-rooms, but there is, as yet,
very little order or regularity observed in the erection of the seld.
Already many of the stalls, especially on the south side, are shops
with houses above them. In the midst of Chepe is the Standard, as
important a part of the City as Paul’s Cross, for it is the old Town
Cross, the Cross that marks the centre of the City, and round the
Standard are stalls for fish and vegetables; there are also “stations”
for the sale of small things. There are other associations connected
with the Standard—it has been used for execution. In the time of the
present King’s grandfather, Edward, first of the name, were some who
had their right hands struck off for rescuing a prisoner: only the
other day we saw two fishmongers beheaded here. Not far from the
Standard is Queen Eleanor’s Cross, which is opposite Wood Street.

The “Frame” houses are beginning to be built on the south side of
Chepe. They are not, like the palaces of the wealthy merchants and
the nobles, built round a court, but are simply developments of the
ordinary citizen’s house, decorated and better built. The “frame” is of
strong and thick oak, folded in with plaster, and the front, carried
up to three or four stories, is covered with carved woodwork; here are
shields and the arms of the trade to which the owner belongs, here are
effigies and carvings of men and creatures, here are bright paintings
in red and blue and gold. We have passed through Chepe and are in the

This large house, with its solid gate and its spacious court, is the
residence of the Lord Mayor for the year. Observe that the posts
outside his gates are gilded, a pretty decoration for the street. Yet
it is not in pride that the Chief Magistrate of the City sets up two
pillars of gold before his house, it is the City custom thus to mark
the house of Mayor, Alderman, or Sheriff. The posts may be painted or
they may be gilt. When Proclamations of the King are read they are set
up on these posts, and they who read them do so bareheaded, to show
their respect for King and Mayor.

Let us not forget to notice the “Room-lands” of which there were many,
though now they are greatly reduced in number and in space. There was
the broad space round St. Paul’s Cathedral, the place where the Folk
Mote assembled. This area was in course of time partly covered with
buildings, and with graves and receptacles for bones: another vacant
area was that at the north-west corner of the City Wall, where the
Franciscans built their House: West Chepe was a Room-land: East Chepe
was another: and there were broad spaces designedly left unbuilt upon
at Billingsgate, Queenhithe, and Dowgate. The Coal Exchange stands upon
the site of the Billingsgate Room-land.

The changes that crept over London during the centuries we are
considering were so slow and so imperceptible that the ordinary
observer must have thought the world was standing still. Always there
had been the Church with its services, always the Friar in the street,
always the market and the selds: he did not know, because he had no
power of judging, that the City was growing richer, that the standard
of comfort had risen immensely, that life was not so rude as it had
been, that, perhaps, there was less violence. As much uncertainty there
always was, for in the midst of life we are in death, and there were
many terrors—the pestilence that stalked the streets, invisible, by
day and by night, fire, famine, and war. The population of the City did
not increase so fast as its wealth; there were more stately houses,
more carved work, more gold and silver cups, finer tapestry, finer
weapons, but the world, in the eyes of the ordinary citizen, stood
still: as things had been, so they were still, so they would be till
the end of all things; there was no hope, no thought of a larger and
nobler humanity, all his hope lay beyond the world. Let us remember
this fact, because it explains a great deal of mediæval history.

West Chepe was the heart of the City: but it was not the Exchange.
There was no Exchange. The merchants met in the most convenient place,
that is to say, for foreign trade, in Thames Street. They had their
houses for the most part in the sloping streets north of Thames Street;
here they received the foreign merchants. The lesser sort transacted
business at the tavern.

As we continue our walk we discover that there are three or four
principal streets in the City. The apparent labyrinth is pierced by
parallel thoroughfares and by others at right angles, so that one need
not be lost in the winding lanes. The most important is the street—if
we may call that a continuous street which is interrupted at so many
places—which enters at Newgate. It is here called Flesh-shambles or
Newgate Street, but it is interrupted at Blowbladder Street, and it
becomes Chepe; it is interrupted by the Poultry, and it goes along
Cornhill and Leadenhall Street, and so out at Aldgate. It is crossed
by Grasschurch Street and Bishopsgate Street and by a great number of
narrow streets. Other streets of less importance are Candlewick Street,
East Chepe, Tower Street, Walbrook, Lombard Street, Fenchurch Street,
Watling Street, Knightrider Street, besides a great number of narrow
lanes, themselves intersected by courts and alleys. Remark, however,
that as yet every house of any importance has its garden. The citizen
of London clings to his garden, however small it is.

One thinks that, with streets and lanes so narrow, where there is no
system of sewage, and everything is thrown into the street, the filth
and general uncleanness must have been intolerable. Look around: we
are in the midst of narrow lanes, but where is the intolerable filth?
Let us consider. There is a great deal of rain which washes the street
continually, and these lanes mostly stand on a slope; there is a
service, not very effective, but still of some use, carried on by the
“rakers,” who pick up things and take them to lay-stalls; there are
the scavenger birds of which we have spoken; and, the most important
point of any, there is public opinion. All the people have to use these
lanes to go up and down about their daily business; the children play
in them; the housewives go to early mass and to market; the great lady
who, with her maids, lives in the house behind the gates before you
has to use this lane. Think you that these people will consent to have
their ways defiled and made impassable? Not so. Therefore the streets
are kept tolerably clean. I say not, that in August, after a month
or two of hot weather, they are so sweet and fresh as they should
be. But one will find more inconvenience from the people than from
the streets. What can one expect? Most of them have but one suit of
clothes which they wear all the year round. But seen in this way, by
walking from one narrow lane into another, where all the streets are
narrow except Cheapside, one cannot get a just idea of the size and
the splendour of the ancient City. Let us therefore, since the tide
is flowing, take boat at the Iron Gate Stairs between the Tower and
St. Katherine’s. This is the end of the town, a gathering of houses
round the venerable church and college, a river embankment, ruinous in
places, and a low-lying marsh beyond, this is all that one can see of
the east of London. Marshes lie on either side of the City, moorland
and forest are on the north, and there are marshes on the south. In
the Pool are moored the ships, not yet in long lines four deep, but
here and there; some of these are lying off the Tower, some are in the
port of Billingsgate, and some sailing up the river; all of them have
high poops and low bows, and most of them two masts and four square
sails. Other vessels there are, vessels of strange build of which
we know not the names. We drop across the river, and hoisting sails
gently glide with wind and tide up the river as far as Westminster.
The Tower looms large above the waters. It is the fortress of London,
the Palace and Fortress and Prison of the King, and is guarded with
jealous care by moat, outward and inner wall, and barbican against any
attack of the citizens within rather than any enemies from without. The
King’s Lieutenant never leaves the place; he has his guard of archers
and men-at-arms; as well as the prisoners of State in his charge. He
has his entrance from the river, and from the east, so that he is
quite independent of the City. That little forest of masts belongs to
the Port of Billingsgate, one of the ancient ports of the City. The
riverside houses between the Tower and Billingsgate are mean and small:
the quarter is inhabited by sailors and sailors’ folk, by foreign as
well as English sailors. After Billingsgate the houses are higher:
some are built out upon piles driven into the mud of the river. Here
we pass under London Bridge. On the south bridge gate are stuck on
poles the heads of a dozen traitors. Alas! it would be hard to make
out the features, so blackened are they by weather and so shrunken and
decayed. Yet there are old crones standing about the Surrey side of
the bridge for doles from the Bridgemaster and Brethren, who know the
name of each, and can tell you his history, and when he suffered, and
why. At each end of the bridge stands a church—as if to guard it—St.
Magnus on the north and St. Olave on the south—though why should there
be two Danish saints to guard an English bridge? In the middle is the
chapel—that of an English saint. This bridge, in the imagination of the
citizens, is the finest in the world. Admire the number of the arches,
and note that no two arches are of the same breadth; look at the houses
on the bridge; the way between them is narrow and dark, yet here and
there are open spaces, where carts and waggons and pack-horses can
wait their turn for passing. Once a house fell from the bridge into
the river; once a child fell and was rescued by an apprentice who
afterwards married her, and many other stories there are. Now we are
through the bridge safely, though many boats have been upset and many
brave fellows drowned in shooting the arches. There are no great ships
above bridge, but there are a good many of the smaller kind laden with
cargoes for Queenhithe Port and Market. And now look up. Saw one ever
such a forest of spires and towers? Can we make them out? The light
and slender steeple behind the bridge is St. Helen’s; the still more
beautiful spire is that of Austin Friars; the tall square tower is St.
Michael’s, Cornhill; on the right, the tower and low spire belong to
St. Peter’s. And so on.


From drawing taken by William Goodman in the year 1599 and now in
possession of the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors.]

The heavy barges, laden to the water’s edge, have come down from
Oxfordshire and Wiltshire; observe the swans, the fishing-boats, and
the swarm of watermen plying between stairs, for this is the highway of
the City. Not Cheapside, or East Cheap, or Thames Street, or the Strand
is the highway of the City, but the river. And as on a main road we
pass the noble Lord and his retinue, on their war-horses, caparisoned
and equipped with shining steel and gilded leather, and after him a
band of minstrels or a company of soldiers; or a lady riding on her
palfrey followed by her servants and her followers; so on the river we
pass the stately barge of some great courtier, the gilded barge of the
Mayor, the common wherry, the tilt-boat, the loaded lighter, and the
poor old fishing-boat decayed and crazy.

Look at the riverside houses. Yonder great palace, with its watergate
and stairs and its embattled walls, is Fishmongers’ Hall. It is a
wealthy company, albeit never one beloved of the people, whom they must
supply with food for a good fourth part of the year. That other great
house is Cold Harbour, of the first building of which no man knows.
Many great people have lived in Cold Harbour, which, as you see, is a
vast great place of many storeys, and with a multitude of rooms. Within
there is a court, invisible from the river, though its stairs may be

Almost next to Cold Harbour is the “Domus Teutonicorum,” the Hall of
the Hanseatic Merchants. What you see from the river is the embattled
wall on the river side, one side of the Hall, some windows of the
dormitories, stone houses built on wooden columns, also the great
weighing-beam and the courtyard. The front of this fortress—for it is
nothing less—contains three gates, viz. two small gates easily closed,
and one great gate, seldom opened. You see that they have their own
watergate and stairs. In everything they must be independent of the
London folk, with whom they never mix if they can keep separate. The
men live here under strict rule and discipline; they may not marry;
they stay but a short time as a rule; and when they are recalled by
the rulers of the great company they are allowed to marry. Here, from
the south side of the river, we get the only good view of the church
of St. Paul. ’Tis a noble Church: is there a nobler anywhere? If we
consider how it stands upon a hill dominating the City and all around
it, of what length it is, of what height, how its spire seeks the
sky and draws the clouds, then when one realises these things one’s
heart glows with pride at the possession of so great and splendid a
church. See how it rises far above the houses on its south side! Was
it by accident, think you, that the churches between the bank and the
Cathedral, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Nicolas Cole Abbey, St. Benedict,
and the others, were all provided with short square towers without
steeples so as to set off the wondrous height of the Cathedral? Was
it by accident that on the west side of the Cathedral rose the spire
of Blackfriars, and on the east the lesser spire of St. Augustine’s,
making a contrast with the lofty proportions of the great church? In
front of us is the ancient port once called Edred’s Hythe after the
name of a former Wharfinger or Harbour Master or Port Captain; it was
afterwards called Potter’s Hythe and later Queen Hythe, because King
John gave it to his mother Queen Eleanor, which name it still retains.
The port is square, and open on one side to the river; there are
never any storms to wreck the shipping within. It is now filled with
ships, chiefly of the smaller kind, because the larger craft cannot
pass through the Bridge. For this reason Billingsgate long surpassed
Queenhithe in the number and importance of its ships and the magnitude
of its trade. However, at Queenhithe they are busy. The cranes wheeze
and grunt as they turn round; carriers with bales and sacks upon their
backs toil unceasingly. All round the quay runs a kind of open cloister
with an upper storey on pillars: this is the warehouse of the Harbour.


  _Grove and Boulton._


The earliest harbour, whose mouth we passed just now, is an
insignificant stream; one cannot understand how it could ever be a
harbour for ships. It was once, however, a full and deep stream
running rapidly down its valley, and sometimes swollen by rains. It
drained Moorfields, and half a dozen rivulets joined together to make
the brook, but when the ditch was dug round the wall, the brook fell
into the ditch, and although a culvert was cut in the wall for the
surplus water to pass down the old bed, little flowed through, and the
Walbrook was only kept up as a stream by two or three springs in the
northern part of the City.

There is a street in Rouen called the rue des Eaux de Robec, which
suggests something of the appearance of the Walbrook before the
sixteenth century. The street, which is fairly straight, contains a
double row of houses, tall and ancient, projecting in three upper
storeys, and decayed from former respectability. Such at the present
day, were they still standing, would be the houses lining the course of
the Walbrook in the fourteenth century. Along one side of the street
runs a rapid stream in a deep channel; the water is black, whether from
the darkness or the impurity I know not; it is partly bridged over; the
bridges have been broadened until they are no longer narrow footways,
but platforms on which workmen sit at their trade, and stalls are set
out with things for sale. On the other side is the narrow roadway with
its pavement of small uneven square blocks; there is no central gutter,
because the stream carries everything off. Such was the appearance of
the Walbrook. At first foot-bridges crossed it at intervals; then it
was confined to a narrow channel; then other uses were made of the
stream; then the footways became floors of stone or woodwork, with the
stream open between them; then these openings became gradually filled
up, and the stream was shut out of sight and forgotten. If you wish to
understand how Walbrook appeared in our imaginary walk, go to see the
rue des Eaux de Robec in Rouen.

The stately Palace rising straight from the water’s edge with its
river-gate and stairs and its lofty face is Baynard’s Castle, so called
from its first founder. Within, there are two spacious courts with
rooms to accommodate hundreds of followers. It was formerly the House
of the Castellain, for the rights and title of Castellain at first
went with the possession of the Castle. When Robert FitzWalter in 1275
parted with Baynard’s Castle he reserved, so far as he could, these
rights. They were exercised only in time of war, and at such a time it
was the duty of the Castellain, mounted and caparisoned, with nineteen
knights and his banner borne before him, to proceed to the great Gate
of St. Paul’s, where he was met by the Mayor, Aldermen, and Sheriffs,
all arrayed in arms, the Mayor holding the City Banner in his hand, the
ground of which was bright vermilion, or gules, with a figure thereon
of St. Paul in gold—the feet, hands, and head of the Saint being argent.

At the West End of St. Paul’s was a piece of open ground upon which
the citizens made muster of arms for the defence of the City under the
inspection of the Lord of Baynard’s Castle. At the East End there was
another piece of open ground where the citizens assembled for their
folkmote and for making parade of arms for keeping the King’s peace.
Here was Paul’s Cross, and here was the clochier or Campanile, the
great bell of which summoned the citizens either to the folkmote or to
the muster of arms. The following is the order of the ceremonies:—


From an engraving by Measom.]

 “And as soon as the said Robert shall see the Mayor, and the
 Sheriffs, and the Aldermen, coming on foot out of the said church
 armed, with such banner, the said Robert (or his heirs who owe this
 service unto the said city) shall then dismount from his horse, and
 shall salute the Mayor as his companion and his peer, and shall say
 unto him: ‘Sir Mayor, I am come to do my service that I owe unto the
 city’; and the Mayor, and the Sheriffs, and the Aldermen shall say:
 ‘We deliver unto you here, as to our Banneret in fee of this city,
 this banner of the city, to bear, carry, and govern, to the honour and
 to the profit of our city, to the best of your power.’ And the said
 Robert, or his heirs, shall receive the banner in his hand, and shall
 go on foot as far as the outside of the gate, with the banner in his
 hand; and the Mayor of the said city, and the Sheriffs, shall follow
 him to the gate, and shall bring a horse unto the said Robert, of the
 price of twenty pounds; and the horse shall be saddled with a saddle
 with the arms of the said Robert thereon, and covered with cendal with
 the same arms thereon. And they shall take twenty pounds sterling, and
 shall deliver them unto the chamberlain of the said Robert, for his
 expenses of that day. And the said Robert shall mount the horse which
 the said Mayor has presented unto him, with the banner wholly in his

 And as soon as he shall be mounted he shall tell the Mayor to cause a
 Marshal to be chosen forthwith, of the host of the city of London. As
 soon as the Marshal is chosen, the said Robert shall cause the Mayor
 and his burgesses of the city to be commanded to have the communal
 bell of the said city rung; and all the community shall go to follow
 the banner of Saint Paul and the banner of the said Robert; the which
 banner of Saint Paul the self-same Robert shall carry in his own hand
 as far as Alegate. And when they are come to Alegate, the said Robert
 and the Mayor shall deliver the said banner of Saint Paul, to be borne
 onward from Alegate, unto such person as the said Robert and the Mayor
 shall agree upon, if so be that they have to make their exit out of
 the city. And then ought the Mayor to dismount. and the said Robert,
 and of each Ward two of the wisest men behind them, to provide how the
 city may best be guarded. And counsel to this effect shall be taken in
 the Priory of the Trinity, by the side of Alegate.

 And before every city or castle that the said host of London besieges,
 if it remains one whole year about the siege, the said Robert ought
 to have for each siege, from the commonalty of London, one hundred
 shillings for his trouble, and no more.

 And further, the said Robert and his heirs possess a great honour,
 which he holds as a great franchise in the said city, [and] which the
 Mayor of the city and the citizens of the same place are bound to do
 unto him as of right; that is to say, that when the Mayor wishes to
 hold his Great Council, he ought to invite the said Robert, or his
 heirs, to be present at his council and at the council of the city;
 and the said Robert ought to be sworn of the council of the city
 against all persons, save the King of England or his heirs. And when
 the said Robert comes to the Hustings in the Guildhall of the city,
 then ought the Mayor, or the person holding his place, to rise before
 him, and to place him near unto him; and so long as he is in the said
 Guildhall, all the judgments ought to be given by his mouth, according
 to the record of the Recorders of the Guildhall; and as to all the
 waifs that come so long as he is there, he ought to give them unto
 the bailiffs of the city, or unto such person as he shall please, by
 counsel of the Mayor of the said city.” (Riley, _Liber Custumarum_.)

Yonder is the mouth of the Fleet: as this stream is now, so was the
Walbrook of old. On its western bank stands the Palace of Bridewell
over against the House of the Blackfriars with its splendid group of
buildings and its tall _flèche_. And now is London left behind us;
there is no more trade along the banks of the river save a little at
Westminster. These stairs upon the bank, and these carved and painted
barges belong to the Palaces of the Bishops, Abbots, and great Lords.
We pass Essex House, Arundel House, Somerset House, Burleigh House,
the Savoy, Bedford House, Durham House, York House, all with gardens,
terraces, and spacious courts. And so we come to the King’s Stairs,
Westminster. Here is the King’s Palace, a crowded, busy, noisy place,
and beyond is the Abbey of St. Peter, rich and famous. A noble church
it is; but it is not so noble, nor is it yet so famous as the Church
of St. Paul. Coronations, marriages, funerals, and tombs of kings
do ennoble a great church, but there are other kinds of nobility.
St. Paul’s is the centre, the heart of a City, which is the centre,
the heart of the nation. As the people to the King, so is St. Paul’s
Cathedral to Westminster Abbey Church.



The limits of the Port of London, never defined until the reign
of Charles II., seem to have been always understood as reaching
from the North Foreland to London Bridge. Queenhithe, which, early
in the thirteenth century, employed thirty-eight men as carriers,
was the oldest landing-place and port. Its present appearance is,
save for the warehouses round it, nearly the same as it has always
been, substituting the small vessels then in use for the barges and
lighters which now lie in that muddy port. Billingsgate was another
landing-place at which the King’s Customs were collected. As trade
increased it was found necessary to provide increased accommodation,
and the following places were appointed, but long afterwards, for the
general lading and discharging places for all kinds of goods to be
landed and shipped between sunrise and sunset. (Strype.)

  Brewers’ Quay.
  Chesters’ Quay.
  Galley Quay.
  Wool Dock.
  Custom House Quay.
  Porter’s Quay.
  Wiggon’s Quay.
  Young’s Quay.
  Ralph’s Quay.
  Dice Quay.
  Smart’s Quay.
  Somer’s Quay.
  Buttolph Wharf.
  Hammon’s Quay.
  Gaunt’s Quay.
  Cock’s Quay.
  Fresh Wharf.
  Lyon Quay.
  Sab’s Dock.
  Bear Quay.

Billingsgate was appointed only for fish, corn, salt, stones, victuals,
and fruit. The Bridge House for corn and other provisions. The Steel
Yard for merchant strangers of that Guild.

“By far the most important results of the Norman Conquest, as far
as English Industry and Commerce were concerned, lay in the new
communications which were opened up with other parts of the Continent.”
(W. Cunningham, _Growth of English Industry_.) These words strike
a keynote. It was necessary for the growth and development of the
national spirit that the insular isolation of Britain should be swept
away. No doubt the close connection of the country with the richest
provinces of France for four hundred years brought with it many serious
evils, but the stimulus it gave to trade proved of incalculable
advantage. And the isolation of England was swept away just at the
right moment, when everywhere in western Europe there were springing
into wealth and power and independence cities, which had been the
private property of barons, or the mere ruins of what had once been
busy and populous places. The first essential to trade is some kind of
security that an agreement will be kept and a debt will be paid. This
security was then impossible unless in a fair, regularly and lawfully
held, with its own court; or in a town when the municipality defended
the foreign merchant.

The opening of Europe to England had its other side in the opening of
England to Europe. A large number of merchants from Rouen and Caen
came over both before and after the Norman Conquest to carry on their
trade in London. Flemish weavers came over and sought protection from
the Queen, a Flemish Princess. Builders in stone came over in great
numbers; most of the Churches throughout the country which were of
wood were rebuilt in stone. And in addition to these, there were the
foreigners who did not wish to settle, but came and went, bringing
their wares with them, carrying away the exports, and while they were
in Port, living according to their own rules in their own houses.

Of what kind was the Shipping of London, its growth, and its extent?
What were the most important lines of trade? These questions are
difficult to answer completely. First, we must remember that a merchant
ship was also a man o’ war. The great Flanders Fleet of Venice was
provided with a company of thirty-six archers for every galley, and the
sailors were all fighting men. Next, the shipping of London meant its
foreign trade, and this was continually rising and falling. Attempts
were made by King Alfred to create a navy; and Sir John Philpot, when
he set off to encounter the pirate, was able to lay his hand upon
ships enough to carry a thousand men. When the Bastard of Falconbridge
attacked the City there were no ships in the Port able to meet him;
this, however, was at the close of a long Civil War which greatly
damaged the trade of London.

The sailor has always been a creature distinct from his fellow-man.
It would seem, from such scanty notice as we can get, that the London
craftsman had never any great love for the sea; the sailor came from
Dover, Sandwich, Hythe, Dartmouth, and other places, but not from
London. In later years a riverside population grew up from the Tower
as far as the Isle of Dogs, and eventually these people were connected
with shipping. Among them was a whole multitude of sailors, together
with those who lived by working among and for the ships in the Pool.
There are glimpses of this invisible population within the walls of the
City, especially below the Bridge and near the Tower. To this day the
courts and lanes in which they lived remain. They are narrow, dark,
and noisome. Only the lowest craftsmen could live in such courts;
they contained drinking places for the sailors, native and foreign,
sleeping dens for them, fighting places for them, but not decent
living houses. In such a narrow street, where the houses were built
of wood and closely packed with people, broke out the Great Fire of
London. Chaucer’s sailor was a Dartmouth man. There were plenty like
him standing about on the quay and drinking in the taverns. Your true
seafaring man never does anything while he is on shore except stand
about on the quays, lean against a post, or carouse in a tavern. Many a
fight took place along these quays and in these narrow courts: fights
between Genoese and Venetian; between Englishman and Frenchman; between
Englishman and Fleming; fights with knife and dagger; fights which
began with a duello and ended in a _mêlée_, all begun, carried on, and
ended in a few minutes, leaving a man dying and half a dozen wounded;
fights between a man of Dover and a man of Yarmouth; fights over the
reckoning at the tavern; fights over Doll and Moll and Poll. Always
the riverside of London has been a place remarkable for its life,
and vividness, its riot and noise, the cheerful cry of battle, the
inspiriting song of the tippler, and the dulcet voice of love.

Every sailor was a fighting man. Until the reign of Henry IV. it was
easy to turn a merchant ship into a man o’ war by placing in her the
little “castles” from which the bowmen could work. Henry IV. seems to
have begun the practice of building ships exclusively for fighting;
his son had three very large ships called the _Trinity_, the _Grace de
Dieu_, and _The Holy Ghost_; his navy consisted in all of three great
vessels, six “nefs,” six “barges,” ten “balingers.” It is not easy
to distinguish between the different kinds of ships. The “nef” was a
ship of the largest size until the construction of the three great
vessels; the “barge” was a large vessel, as is known by the fact that
the City possessed one called the _Paul of London_, for river defence.
You may, if you please, learn how the City barge was equipped and
rigged and fitted out for sea from the pages of Riley’s _Memorials_.
The terms used, the nautical terms of the time, are translated in
footnotes, moreover they are mostly unintelligible. The list is perhaps
too technical for these pages. There were also the “balingers,” the
“craiez,” the “cogge,” the “katte,” the “galley,” and others.

As soon as riverside land became valuable and ships grew in size the
building of ships was carried on, of necessity, outside the walls.
When the Shipwrights’ Company was incorporated, in the reign of James
I., they built their Hall at Ratcliffe Cross, in the centre of their
industry. Shipbuilding yards were placed all along the north bank of
the Thames as far east as Northfleet. Until thirty or forty years
ago the industry was one of the most important of those belonging to
London. There might be occasionally, though its continuance could
not be relied upon, peace on land, but there was never peace at sea.
From the time when the Count of the Saxon Shore set up his forts from
Porchester to Bradwell, and sent out his fleets to sweep the narrow
seas, the pirates continued without cessation; they came out of the
Low Country ports, from Calais, from Dieppe, from St. Malo; they came
down from Scotland; they even came out of English ports to destroy the
English trade. They were attacked and dispersed, but they collected
again. If France and England were at open war, as was very often the
case, the pirates pretended to be in the service of the King most
convenient for the moment. They were called the Rovers of the Sea;
there was the instance of that Scottish pirate Mercer, who, as we
have seen, was attacked and killed by Philpot, most gallant of Lord
Mayors; there was Eustace the Monk, whose life and exploits have been
written by Thomas Wright; there was William de Marish, who from the
safe retreat of Lundy carried on piracy for a time with impunity; there
was Savery de Maloleone, the French pirate; there was John of Newport,
who murdered the crews of the ships which he took—he held possession
of the Isle of Wight; there were pirates of Lynn, Wells, Yarmouth, and
Dartmouth. The Cinque Ports were nests of pirates; the mouth of the
Rhine, the harbour of Calais, and that of St. Malo were filled with
pirates. The English coasts were ravaged by them; Portsmouth, Rye,
Southampton, Sandwich, the Isle of Wight, Scarborough, the coast of
Norfolk suffered from descents, from sieges, and from capture, by these
Rovers. Letters of license were granted. Henry III. granted license to
Adam Robertwolt and William le Sauvage to attack and to pillage the
King’s enemies where they could, on condition of giving him half the
plunder. In the following reign a merchant, having been plundered,
received from the King license to carry on reprisals up to the amount
which he had lost, but no more; and there is one instance in which
English ships despatched north for the defence of Berwick plundered
the coast of England on their way! In the twelfth century the same
danger attended men who sailed abroad as in the ninth. But in the ninth
century every merchant who voyaged three times over the wide seas in
his own ship was “of thane right-worthy.” This distinction the master
mariner and merchant lost in later years. Yet this kind of reward was
still remembered very unexpectedly, when, in the year 1780, James Cook,
who had voyaged three times across the wide seas, received after his
death the coat of arms which made his family “of thane right-worthy.”
During the later Saxon reigns there was a large merchant navy, together
with a regular royal navy. This navy was called out once a year for
training. Unfortunately for Harold this annual training was over, and
the men had gone home when William sailed. Harold’s son seized the
ships and sailed for Ireland, whence he carried on depredations for
some years on the west coast. England was for a while without a navy,
so the pirates began again, and the merchant service suffered.

The history of the next four hundred years, as regards the shipping
and the foreign trade of London, is one either of a weak police, or a
strong police in the Channel. The merchants of London never ceased to
struggle in order to get the foreign trade into their own hands, but,
during all this time, with only partial success: we have seen that the
men of Rouen, the men of the Emperor, the Venetians, the Genoese, the
Florentines, the Lombards, the people of the Hanseatic League, and
the Flemings all came to London and carried on their trade themselves.
Perhaps the worst time for the London merchant service was the
fourteenth century. Yet England still boasted the sovereignty of the
sea, and the device of Edward III.’s gold noble still proudly claimed
that supremacy—

    “For four things our Noble showeth unto me
    King, ship, and sword, and Power of the Sea.”

“Our enemies,” said Capgrave, “laugh at us. They say, ‘Take the ship off
your gold noble and impress a sheep instead.’” The origin of England’s
claim to the sovereignty of the sea, which was constantly advanced even
in times of national degradation, was, I believe, a survival from the
time when the Roman Fleet, which was maintained for the police of the
narrow seas, made and sustained an Emperor, first Carausius, and then
Allectus—this fleet had its headquarters sometimes at Southampton,
sometimes at Dover, and sometimes at Boulogne, and was undoubtedly
sovereign of the sea. The Fleet which King John—under whom the Channel
was safe—placed upon the sea was the successor and the heir of the
Fleet of Admiral Carausius. The first merchant ship whose name is
preserved is the _Little Edward_. She was lying off Margate in the year
1315, when she was attacked and carried off by the French. Her owner
and commander was one John Brand: she was bound for Antwerp: her cargo
of wool belonged to three merchants of the Hanse. The ship—probably
not a very large vessel—was valued at £40 and the cargo at £120. In
the same year a great galley or dromond of Genoa, laden with corn and
other provisions for London, was attacked and taken by French pirates.
She was estimated to be worth—cargo and ship—£5716: 12s., or about
£100,000 of our money. The incorporation of the Merchant Adventurer
gave a stimulus to foreign trade in English vessels. London Merchants
established themselves on the shores of the Baltic, in Sweden, in
the Netherlands, and in the Levant. In the north they encountered
the hostility of the Hansard: there was fighting continually: on one
occasion all the English merchants at Bergen were massacred. In the
Channel, during this century, piracy revived, and became again a great
and pressing evil. But that the English ships were not deterred by the
dangers innumerable which threatened them is proved by the fact that,
in 1438, all the Genoese merchants in London were arrested in a body,
put into prison and fined 6000 marks, because the ship belonging to
one Sturmyer, a merchant of Bristol, had been seized in the Levant on
an alleged charge of breaking the regulations of trade. If a Bristol
merchant traded so far, the London merchants, one may be quite certain,
penetrated to the same waters. There were also pilgrimages over the
seas, and especially during the fifteenth century, to the shrine of St.
Iago de Compostella, the tomb of the Apostle James himself. In the year
1434 two vessels sailed from London carrying eighty and sixty pilgrims
respectively. And in the reign of Edward IV. no English merchants were
allowed to ship goods in foreign ships unless there were no English
ships ready for them. At the same time the tonnage of ships had so
greatly increased that Canynges of Bristol owned a great ship of 900

The ships, lying off the quays of Billingsgate and Queenhithe, were
the great galleys of Gascony laden with casks of wine, the woad ships
of Picardy, the scuts of Flanders, the whelk-boats of Essex, the great
vessels of Almaine and Norway, the fleets that came every year sweeping
over the seas from Genoa to Southampton and London, the ships which
carried on the trade of the Hanse merchants, the fishing-boats and
trawlers, the sea-coal boats called “kattes,” the barges and lighters
which carried their cargoes up and down the river, the coasting boats
which brought stores for building, and which, when not lying off the
quays, were moored in the river below London Bridge. And always, all
day long, there was the uproar of the sailors and of those who loaded
and unloaded; and the din of the markets; and everywhere the serjeants’
men went in and out among the throng, seeing that trade regulations
were complied with, that every sack lay open, that foreigners dealt
not in retail, that foreigners cleared their goods in a certain time,
that there was no underselling. And high above the uproar arose, from
every ship of every country as she reached the Port and dropped her
anchor, the sailors’ Hymn of Praise to the Virgin that their voyage
was safely concluded. This Hymn was the same for all the countries of
Western Europe. It adds to the picturesque aspect of the Mediæval Port
that when the ships came up the river, when they rounded the point of
Deptford and Rotherhithe, the Genoese or Venetian galley, galliot,
galleasse—sweeping up against the tide with their banks of oars, the
heavy Bordeaux ship laden with wine, sailing up with wind and tide,
the craft whose names convey no meaning to us, from each as it arrived
in the Pool was heard the same hymn sung by all the ship’s company
together, in the midst of the noise of loading and unloading, the
dropping or the weighing of anchor, or the casting off of other ships,
with the sailors’ chanteys in their own language. It was by special
permission that the sailors in Greek ships were allowed to sing their
“Kyriele” instead of the Hymn to the Virgin, when the ship dropped
anchor below the Bridge.

 The Rules of Trade, as set forth in the _Liber Albus_, are many and
 stringent. I append the more important. The Ordinances bear date 13
 Ed. I.

 1. _Corn Dealers._ Corn brought to London by land is to be taken in
 bulk to the Market within Newgate before the Friars Minors or at Gras
 chirche (Gracechurch Street). That “none” of it is to be sold before
 the hour of Prime, _i.e._ 6 A.M. to 7 A.M. And that corn brought by
 water shall be offered to the common people by retail during a whole

 2. _On Forestalling._ It is forbidden to meet dealers coming with
 their wares by land or water before they have put up their wares for

 3. No one to sell anything dutiable until he has paid the duty.

 4. No freeman of the City to enter into partnership with a stranger
 (_i.e._ one who is not a freeman).

 5. Bakers are to make loaves of two sizes, viz. two for a penny, and
 four for a penny. Bread shall be sold in the market only. Every baker
 to have his own stamp by which his bread may be known. The baker of
 brown bread not to make white bread and the converse. A baker shall
 not buy corn to sell it again. A baker shall not sell his flour to
 cooks for making pastry. Once a month every baker’s bread shall be

 If a baker be found to be selling bread under weight he is to be
 placed on a hurdle with the faulty loaf hanging from his neck and
 dragged through the “great streets where there may be most people
 assembled and through the great streets which are the most dirty.”
 For a second offence he is to be dragged in like manner and set in
 pillory. For a third offence he is to be dragged, set in pillory, his
 oven pulled down and himself forbidden to carry on that trade any

 A baker is not allowed to give the regratess (_i.e._ the woman who
 retails bread from house to house) the “handsel money” of sixpence on
 Monday or the “curtesy-money” of threepence on Friday: but, instead,
 he is to give her thirteen loaves as twelve.

 6. _Of Brewers and Taverners._ No measures to be used except the
 gallon, pottle, and quart. These are to be stamped by the Alderman.
 The tun of the brewster (brewing was conducted principally by women)
 to contain 150 gallons. And since the measures (which were made of
 wood) do sometimes shrink from dryness, they are to be examined four
 times a year.

 7. No stranger to sell by retail in the City unless he has been
 received into the freedom and enrolled at Guildhall.

 No stranger to keep an Inn or to let lodgings in the City.

 If a stranger, however, obtain the freedom of the City he may keep an
 Inn in any part of the City except the river-side.

 8. All citizens to be in scot and lot. Scot is the payment of
 contributions and taxes, Lot, the assessment of it in due proportions.

 9. No pigs to be allowed in the streets and lanes. If any man find a
 pig in the street he may kill it and keep it.

 10. Markets to be held only in places assigned. Retailers of
 provisions not to buy before Prime.

 11. None but freemen to receive apprentices. No time of apprenticeship
 to be less than seven years. And an apprentice who has served his time
 must take up his freedom and be enrolled before he carries on his

 12. The Mayor, Sheriffs, Aldermen, or their serjeants, clerks, and
 bedels, shall not keep a baker’s oven, or a tavern, or any trade of
 low repute.

 13. Carts carrying firewood, timber, or charcoal, not to stand in the
 City except on Cornhill.

 14. No one to go into Southwark for the purchase of corn, beasts, or
 other merchandise whereby a market might be established.

 15. Lepers not to go about the streets or to sleep in the City. They
 are to have their common “attorney” or procter who shall go round the
 Churches on Sunday morning to collect alms for them.

 16. Sellers of fish not to throw their water into the streets but to
 carry it to the Thames.

 17. Schools for fencing and buckler play not to be kept within the

 18. Foreign butchers (_i.e._ butchers who have not the freedom of
 the City) to bring into the City the hides and pelts of the oxen
 and sheep: to be allowed to sell their meat until high noon (Riley
 interprets this to mean from one to three o’clock).

 19. All the lanes leading from Thames Street to the river to be kept
 clear so that persons on horseback may ride up and down.

 20. No tavern to be kept open after curfew.

 21. Boatmen to have their boats moored by sunset.

 22. Woolfels to be sold in open market.

 23. Regulations as to the making of furs.

 24. Merchants bringing goods to the City to be allowed to proceed
 without molestation.

 25. Labourers, _i.e._ carpenters, masons, plasterers, tilers, etc.,
 are to be paid according to the orders of the Mayor and Aldermen.

 26. Fishmongers not to buy fish before the hour of Prime.

No market was to be held on London Bridge, especially by Fripperers, or
dealers in old clothes. No market was to be made in Southwark.

Barbers were not to expose blood in their windows, but were ordered to
throw it into the river. They were also forbidden to carry on their
trade on Sundays. Bowyers were forbidden to send bows for sale to
Cornhill or to any other place in the City. What does this mean?

Goldsmiths were to have a private mark on every piece. Smiths were
to have their private mark on every sword or knife. Hostelers were
those who lodged and fed the servants and horses of their guests.
Herbergeours gave them lodging only. Strangers were not lodged in
taverns. Strangers and foreigners were not, as a rule, permitted to
let lodgings. A stranger could only be admitted for a day and a night.
After that, the hosteler had to be responsible for any offences a guest
might commit. Hostelers were forbidden to sell food and drink to any
but their guests. They were not allowed to brew or to make bread.

The “articles” of the ward motes overlapped in some particulars the
Trade Regulations. I take a few clauses. Strangers could only be
received for a night and a day unless the host became responsible for
them. No open fireplace was to be placed near partitions, or boards,
or in any upper room. All persons were to give their assistance to the
Officers of the Ward in arresting disorderly or rebellious persons.
Residents in great houses to keep a ladder or two for the use of their
neighbours. From Whit Sunday to St. Bartholomew’s a barrel full of
water to be kept before every house. The roof of every house to be of
tile, stone, or lead. Crooks and cords to be provided to pull down
houses in case of fire. No refuse to be thrown into the street. No pigs
or cows allowed within the houses. Stalls not to be more than 2½
feet in width before the house. Pent-houses to be so high that persons
can ride and walk below them.

Before every Ward Mote there is to be an Inquisition into the
observance of these ordinances and a few other points.

Viz.: If there is any huckster in the Ward.

If any swine or cows are reared within the Ward.

If any leper is resident within the Ward.

If any purprestures (_i.e._ encroachments) have been made in the

If any baker of “tourte,” or “trete” bread (_i.e._ the coarse brown
bread) make fine bread.

If an officer of the Ward has extorted money on any pretence.

If any bargain of usury has been made in the Ward since the last Ward

The rule about pigs was constantly repeated and as often disregarded.
At one time in the thirteenth century four men were appointed to find
and kill all pigs wandering about the streets. St. Anthony’s Hospital
was an exception. This House was privileged to let its pigs go free in
the City provided that they had bells hanging from their necks and
that they were pigs bestowed upon the Hospital out of charity. (See
vol. ii. pt. iii. ch. viii.) Later on, however, it was forbidden to
keep pigs, cows, or oxen in the City at all.

The fuel used in the houses largely consisted of charcoal, which was
brought into the City from the forests in the north and south of
London in carts. It was ordered, temp. Richard II., that both charcoal
and firewood should be sold at 10d. a quarter between Michaelmas and
Easter, and at 8d. between Easter and Michaelmas. This price seems very
high in comparison with that of other commodities. It is not known
when coals began to be used. The name of Sea Coal Lane, near the Fleet
River, was so called from coal being there stored in the reign of Henry
III., if not much earlier. Coal paid custom at Billingsgate. The market
for wood was not Wood Street (? Woad Street) but at Smithfield and at
Cornhill. The carters sold “talwood, fagot, and busche”—words which
explain themselves. Fern, reeds and stubble were also used as fuel.

The sense in which a London craftsman was a “freeman” was, happily
for the growth of real freedom, extremely restricted. He must be
apprenticed, and during his term of seven years he was the servant, or
perhaps the adopted son of the man to whom he was bound; he must belong
to a Guild; he must obey the laws of that Guild; these were minute and
careful: they made a man work during stated hours and no longer; they
regulated the price of his work; they would not allow him to work on
Church festivals; they would not let him go to law with another of
the same Guild; they sent him to church regularly; if he disgraced
his moral character in any way they turned him out of his trade and
sent him out of the City. In other words, he could not exercise his
freedom in living idly or mischievously. The system was admirable on
paper, and in fact seems to have worked well. Above all, it taught the
lesson which we have since forgotten, that a workman does not belong
to himself alone, but to the community. That was the meaning of fixed
hours, fixed prices, fixed holidays.

 “As regards wages, carpenters and that class of workman mostly
 received, between Michaelmas and Martimas (11th Nov.) 4d. per day,
 or else 1½d. ‘and their table,’ at the option of the employer;
 between Martimas and the Purification (2nd Feb.), 3d., or 1d. and
 their table; between the Purification and Easter, 4d., or 1½d. and
 their table; and between Easter and Michaelmas, 5d., or 2d. and their
 table. Saturdays and Vigils were to be paid for as whole days, the men
 only working till the evening, and on Sundays and Feast-days they were
 ‘to take nothing,’ the meaning being, no doubt, that on those days
 they did not work at all. Their servants, or under-workmen, and the
 makers of clay walls, were to receive, between Michaelmas and Easter,
 2d., and between Easter and Michaelmas, 3d., for all demands. Should
 any person pay a workman beyond these rates, he was to pay to the
 City a fine of 40s., and the workman to be subjected to forty days’
 imprisonment. About seventy years later, the wages of certain of these
 artisans had apparently increased, Masons, Carpenters, Plasterers,
 and Sawyers receiving sixpence during the long days, and fivepence in
 winter, but without being permitted to charge for the repair of their
 implements. The wages of Tilers, however, had not made so great an
 advance, being at the rate of 5½d. and 4½d. according to the
 length of the days, and the wages of their boys (_garsons_) 3½d.
 and 3d. ‘Master Daubers’ also were to be content with fivepence and
 fourpence, according to the length of the days, their boys receiving
 at the same rate as those of Tilers.”—Riley, _Liber Albus_, pp.

London made within its own walls almost everything that it wanted (see
p. 195). The subdivision of trade in a hundred branches was inevitable
as the town grew larger and its demands more imperious. For instance,
in the branch of arms and armour, there were wanted the bowyer who made
bows, the fletcher who made arrows, the bokelsmyth who made buckles,
the bracers who made armour for the arms, the gorgoaricer who made
gorgets, the tabourer who made drums, the heaulmere who made helmets,
the maker of haketons—a quilted jacket worn under armour and sometimes
used for armour—of gambesons—another lighter kind of jacket—of pikes,
swords, spears, and cross-bow bolts. Again, in the matter of clothing,
each kind of garment had its own maker. The wympler made wymples, or
those handkerchiefs for the neck worn by nuns and elderly ladies; the
capletmonger made and sold caps; the callere made cowls or coifs; the
chaloner made chalons or corselets; the bureller worked in coarse
cloth; the white tawyer in white leather; the names of the quilter,
the pinner, and the plumer, explain their branches. Many of the trades
were extremely offensive to the neighbours, and complaints were made
from time to time. Not even a mediæval Londoner, for instance, could
enjoy the neighbourhood of tallow-melting or of soap-making; nor could
the people at any time endure the sight and stink of the blood and
offal from the Shambles pouring down the narrow lanes into the river.
Therefore order was taken on these subjects. It must, however, be
remembered that the City of London, now a warehouse and a distributing
centre, was formerly a great hive of industries. Wherever one walked
there arose the busy hum and mingled sounds of work: the melodious
anvil rang out from a court; the cry of the prentices sounded in Chepe;
the song of those who retailed wares was heard about the street; the
women who sold fish cried aloud; the man who carried water also cried
his wares; and so did the baker who took round the loaves. In the
broad streets, Chepe and Cornhill and Bishopsgate Street, the knights
and men-at-arms rode slowly along; perhaps a great noble entered the
City with five hundred followers all wearing his livery; broad-wheeled
waggons heavily rumbled; the Queen was carried along in her cumbrous
but richly decorated carriage or her horse litter; the Mayor rode
down the street accompanied by the Sheriffs and the Aldermen on the
way to a City Function; a trumpeter, a drummer, and a piper preceded
a little procession in which the principal figure was a man tied on a
hurdle with a whetstone round his neck to show that he was a liar and
a cheat; thus was the attention of the people called to the culprit,
and they were invited to assist at his pillory, and were admonished of
the punishment meted out to offenders. And all the time from every shop
and stall and seld the voice of the prentice was uplifted crying, “Buy!
buy! buy! What d’ye lack? what d’ye lack?” Above all, and all day long,
was heard the ringing of the bells in the hundred and fifty churches
and chapels of the City. They sounded all together for early mass,
and all together for angelus; at other times for the various services
in the Religious Houses: even at midnight they sounded, when the monks
were summoned from their warm beds to Matins. It was a noisy, bustling
city full of life and animation; the people were always ready to fight,
always dreading fire, famine, and plague, yet always hopeful; and the
City was always young as befits a city continually at work.

The Trade of London covers the exports and the imports, the industries
and the productions, the wants and the luxuries, the superfluities and
the extravagances, of the City. There was no great change in these
respects during the whole period from the Norman Conquest to the
accession of the Tudors. That is to say, the Court of Edward IV. was in
all essentials the same as the court of Richard II. A dignitary of the
Church in the year 1480 was more magnificent than, but not otherwise
different from, one in the year 1280. The rank and state of a Mayor of
the later period were much like those of a Mayor in the former period.
There had been some development in art; there had been some changes
in arms, armour, and warfare: we will try to enumerate the callings,
trades, and industries of Mediæval London. It will be matter of
surprise to learn how many there were; how many have disappeared; and
how many have been merged in other trades. It was not machinery alone
that turned man into a machine and made him spend his whole life on one
little piece of work, always beginning, always ending, always repeated.
In the Appendix will be found a categorical list of trades. I do not
advance the list as complete, but it contains nearly all the trades
mentioned in the authorities for the time.

This list shows, what I have already stated, that nearly everything
wanted for the daily use of the people was made within the walls of the
City; here wool was made fit for use, flax was spun, cloth was woven,
weapons were hammered out and shaped, bow and arrow, lance, pike, and
sword; armour was made, became breastplate and cuirasses; skins were
converted into leather, leather into saddles; tiles and bricks were
made; the skins and furs were made fit for use; the gold and silver
cups, mazers and chalices were made in the City; the people of London
made blankets of shalloon, they also made the quilts and pillows;
beautiful things with silk, glass vessels, and dainty things for women;
in fine—everything that could be made in the City was made. This fact
not only limits the imports from foreign and native markets, but shows
how self-sufficient a mediæval city could be. This self-sufficiency is
further illustrated by the law (3 Ed. IV. c. 4), which prohibited the
importation—a measure of Protection—of a great number of goods on the
ground that the English artificers cannot compete against foreign-made

Here is a list of things made:—

“Woollen Caps, Woollen Cloth, Laces, Corses, Ribbands, Fringes of Silk
and Thread, Laces of Thread, Silk twined, Silk in any wise embroidered,
Laces of Gold, Tyres of silk or gold, Saddles, Stirrups, or any Harness
pertaining to Saddlery, Spurs, Bosses of Bridles, Aundirons, Gridirons,
any Manner of Locks, Pinsons, Fire-tongs, Dripping Pans, Dice, Tennis
Balls, Points, Purses, Gloves, Girdles, Harness for Girdles of Iron,
Latten Steel, Tin or of Alkemine, anything wrought of any Tawed
Leather, any Tawed Furrs, Buscans, Shoes, Galoches, or Corks, Knives,
Daggers, Wood-knives, Bodkins, Sheers for Taylors, Scissors, Razors,
Sheaths, Playing Cards, Pins, Pattens, Pack Needles, or any Painted
Ware, Forcers, Caskets, Rings of Copper or of Latten Gilt, or Chaffing
Dishes, Hanging Candlesticks, Chaffing Balls, Sacring Bells, Rings for
Curtains, Ladles, Scimmers, Counterfeit Basons, Ewers, Hats, Brushes,
Cards for Wool, Blanch Iron Thread commonly called White Wire.” (W.
Cunningham, _Growth of English Industry_.) (See also Appendix II.)

The following notes on the regulations of trade are by Riley:—

 “The business of the Winedrawers (_Wyndrawers_) seems to have been
 limited to the loading, carriage, and unloading, of tuns and pipes of
 wine from the Quay cellars to other parts of the City. Their charges
 were restricted by enactment to certain prices, according to the
 distance; ten pence being the largest sum allowed for the carriage
 of a tun of wine to any part within the walls, and eight pence for a

       *       *       *       *       *

 “The business of a Brewer was acknowledgedly one held in low
 estimation; indeed ‘Breweress’ rather should be the term, as, in the
 times now under consideration, the business was almost wholly in
 the hands of females, and so continued to be till the close of the
 fifteenth century, if not later; at which period Fleet Street was
 tenanted almost wholly by breweresses or alewives, and makers of felt
 caps. The brewers of ale generally, if not always, sold it also by
 retail to the public, as well as wholesale, to such dealers as were
 not brewers themselves, but privileged to sell it. Indeed, at some
 periods, as already noticed, we meet with prohibitory enactments,
 forbidding any person but brewers and hostelers to be sellers of ale.

 The ale-tavern or ale-house seems to have been a distinct
 establishment from the wine-tavern; the keeper of which, though the
 fact does not appear [_Liber Albus_], was probably prohibited from
 selling ale. For the present, it is proposed to call the reader’s
 attention exclusively to the brewing and sale of ale.

 Immediately a brewing was finished, it was the duty of the brewer or
 breweress to send for the Ale-conner of the Ward in order to taste the
 ale. Upon so doing, the Ale-conner, in case he did not find the ale
 equal to the Assize, or, in other words, not so good as it ought to
 be, with the assent of his Alderman set a lower price upon it, which,
 upon sale thereof, was not to be exceeded. Fine, imprisonment, and
 even punishment by pillory, were the result of reiterated breaches of
 the Assize. The gallon, pottle, and quart of the brewer and taverner
 were to be duly impressed with the seal of the Alderman of the Ward;
 the tun also, or vat, of the brewery (containing 150 gallons) was
 similarly sealed. The pottles and quarts, there is reason to believe,
 were sometimes made of wood, as we find them spoken of as being made
 when green, and as shrinking from dryness on getting cold. Consumers,
 private probably as well as taverners, sent their vessel to the
 brewery; and, by public enactment, there it was to stand the rest of
 the day and through the night, for the purpose of giving the ale time
 to work, another proof of its newness when consumed. The next morning
 on being taken away by the customer, the vessel was to be ‘full of
 good and clear ale.’

 No brewer or breweress, or regrator or regratress of ale, was to
 keep his or her doors open after Curfew rung, under heavy penalties.
 Brewers, as well as hostelers, were ordered to retail their ale by
 full and lawful measure, and not to sell it by the hanap, or metal
 drinking-mug of the establishment.”

       *       *       *       *       *

 “The best ale, which was no better than _sweet-wort_, was probably
 so thin that it might be drunk in ‘potations pottle deep’ without
 disturbing the equilibrium of the drinker. Fermented liquors were
 drunk too in these days as new as possible; and there can be little
 doubt that the ale was used the moment it was made. This, combined
 with its possible thinness and its lusciousness, would additionally
 tend to prevent it from producing inebriety; and it is doubtful
 whether the Londoners then deserved the character for drunkenness
 which FitzStephen had seemed inclined to give them little better than
 a century before. The fact, however, that the smallest ale-measure
 here noticed is a quart would certainly seem, it must be admitted, to
 militate somewhat against a belief in their comparative sobriety. The
 extensive consumption, too, of wine, which, at one period, was little
 more than twice as dear as ale, may have exercised some influence
 in this respect. Wine at this low price would be no better than,
 if indeed as good as, the _vin ordinaire_ of the present day; and
 consequently, though largely drunk, there would be but little chance
 of its causing inebriety.”

       *       *       *       *       *

 “Pastelers were a class of tradesmen who made pies, and probably other
 kinds of pastry as well. By one enactment we find them ordered to make
 pies for one halfpenny; the materials probably being found by those
 who employed them. Pie-bakers (_pybakeres_), there seems reason to
 believe, united the trade of baking pies for their customers with the
 keeping of tables for guests on their own account; as already noticed,
 like their brethren, the cooks, they are occasionally spoken of as
 retailing ale. In one instance, we find an order made that no cook
 shall charge more than one penny for putting a capon or a rabbit in a
 crust; the materials for the pastry, with the exception perhaps of the
 flour, being evidently found by the customer employing him.

 The wholesale markets for corn, malt, and salt, brought to London
 by water, were at Billingsgate, and Queen Hythe. Sometimes in the
 reign of Edward III. and Richard II., we find it enacted, that the
 commodities brought to these quays shall remain three days on sale
 to the public, before the dealers shall be allowed to buy; at other
 times, the period is limited to a single day. Corn coming to Queen
 Hythe, _temp._ Edward II., the property of a stranger, or non-freeman,
 was not to be put up for sale before prime rung at St. Paul’s, six
 in the morning. _Temp._ Richard II., certain bells seem to have been
 rung to announce to the dealers when the sale of corn at Queen Hythe,
 Graschirche, and Billingsgate was about to commence. Corn and malt
 were also sold at Smithfield in the times, apparently, of Edward I.,
 and his successor. In the two following reigns, however, we find it
 frequently enacted, that persons bringing corn and malt for sale in
 carts or on horses from the Eastern parts, namely, from the counties
 of Cambridge, Bedford, Huntingdon, and from Ware, shall take their
 stand on the Pavement at Graschirche; and those coming from the West,
 ‘as from Barnet,’ shall expose their wares for sale on the Pavement
 before the Friars Minors, at Newgate. As they were not allowed to sell
 by sample, these extensive pavements would be particularly convenient
 for the deposit and exposure of their sacks. Besides supplying the
 City to a considerable extent with bread, Stratford, in Essex, was
 evidently a great repository for corn and flour: which, _temp._ Edward
 III., was brought to the City by carts, several times in the week
 probably, as they paid 3d. _per week_ for Pavage.

 Sellers and buyers of corn seem to have been watched at all times with
 the greatest jealousy and suspicion; out of numerous regulations made
 at various periods in reference to them, the following may deserve
 notice:—Vendors of corn were forbidden to sell it by sample, or to
 put it in any place out of public view. No monger or regrator of
 corn, fish, or poultry, was to make purchase thereof, before the hour
 of prime. Good corn was not to be mixed with bad, ‘in deceit of the
 people,’ under pain of forfeiture. No one was to buy corn, malt, or
 salt, and leave it in the hands of the original seller for the purpose
 of selling it as his agent at a profit. No freeman of the City, a
 regrator of corn, was to stand on the Pavements of Graschirche and
 Newgate between the foreign sellers, but each class of dealers was
 to have its separate stand. No retailer was to buy corn or malt for
 resale except on market days.”

       *       *       *       *       *

 “Fishmongers, selling fish in large quantities to their customers,
 were to sell by the basket; such basket to be capable of containing
 one bushel of oats, and, if found deficient, to be burnt in open
 market. Each basket was also to contain only one kind of sea-fish; and
 the fishmongers were warned not to colour (_douber_) their baskets;
 or, in other words, not to put good fish on the top and inferior
 beneath. Fish arriving by water at night was not to be moved from
 the boat till sunrise; but in case the night was rainy, it might be
 landed on the Quay, under charge of the ‘Serjeant of the Street,’ till
 the proper time for sale. Herrings, mackerel, and other fish brought
 by cart, were not to be bought for resale before the hour of noon.
 Fish brought by land in baskets, when purchased by the keeper of a
 shop, was not to be taken into the shop, but to be exposed publicly
 for sale in front of it; the case of a freeman excepted, who might
 warehouse it for the night, on condition of selling it, without
 subtraction, in open market next day.

 Though, as already stated, fish was occasionally sold at places
 lower down the river, dealers in the City were at times forbidden to
 forestall sea-fish or freshwater fish, ‘for the purpose of sending
 it to any great lord or to a house of religion, or of regrating
 it,’ until the purveyors for the King had made their purchases for
 their master’s use. At another period, a regulation was made that
 no fishmonger should buy fish brought to the City ‘before the good
 people have bought what they need.’ Very similar, too, in spirit were
 the following enactments, belonging to various periods in the century
 under notice:—No fish was to be bought till the vessel was moored.
 Citizens of London might buy at the boat at the same price as the
 dealers. Fishmongers were not to buy fresh fish till after mass sung
 (probably at sunrise) at the Chapel on London Bridge, or at the Church
 of St. Martin; and not to buy salt fish till after prime; though, by a
 regulation, _temp._ Edward I., this last article applied only to salt
 fish in which strangers had a share, that belonging to citizens being
 allowed to be sold at sunrise, like the fresh. Freemen of the City,
 too, were permitted to stand with the fishmongers at their stalls, and
 to be partners with them in the sale of their wares. No apprentice
 was to enter a vessel for the purpose of buying fish; and no porter,
 unless he was called.

 We find it also enacted, that no one shall sell fish upon the Quay
 by retail; and that no one shall carry about cooked whelks for sale,
 under pain of being amerced and losing his whelks. Fish coming by
 land, and arriving after dinner, was allowed to be warehoused, whether
 belonging to a freeman or not, and sold in the market on the morrow.
 No seller of stockfish was allowed to enter a vessel for the purchase
 of fish: his trade was wholly distinct from that of the ordinary

       *       *       *       *       *

 “The great cattle-market, of course, was Smithfield (Smooth field),
 which is mentioned as a ‘_campus_,’ a plain, or open space; and
 ordinances are met with, of an early date, for keeping it clean. Among
 other animals sold at Smithfield, lean swine are mentioned, probably
 for fattening in town or in its close vicinity. From the frequent
 mention of pigs, it would seem probable that pork was more extensively
 consumed than any other kind of butchers’ meat. _Temp._ Edward III.,
 lambs are mentioned as being brought by boat to St. Botolph’s Wharf,
 near the Tower. The great meat-markets were held at the Flesh-Shambles
 of St. Nicholas, near Newgate, and at the stalls under the covered
 place or market-house (_domus_) known as ‘Le Stokkes,’ afterwards
 Stocks Market. At some periods, if not constantly, the meat-markets
 were open on Sundays. _Temp._ Richard II., a regulation was made that
 all butchers, keeping shops, should close them at dark, and not sell
 their meat by candle-light; a rule which seems, at times, to have
 applied to all other trades as well. On the same occasion, too, it
 was ordered that no one should go out of the City for the purchase of
 lambs, and that no lambs should be sold at a higher price than six

 In the reign of Edward III., orders were issued that the offals of
 St. Nicholas Flesh-Shambles should be buried in spots appointed
 for the purpose; and at a later period, in the same reign, we find
 proclamation made that the butchers of St. Nicholas shall no longer
 carry the offals and filth of the market down to the Thames; a mandate
 also being issued that large cattle shall in future be slaughtered
 without the City.

 In the early part of the reign of Edward I., it was ordered that
 strange or foreign butchers should sell till _none_ (our noon) by
 retail, and, after that, by wholesale, until Vespers rung at St.
 Paul’s; at which time they must have finished the sale of their meat,
 without carrying anything away to salt or store, under penalty of
 forfeiting the same. In the reign of Edward III., the time for the
 foreign butchers closing market had been prolonged to Curfew at St
 Martin’s le Grand. Foreign butchers were also strictly forbidden to
 bring any carcase to market without the hide or woolfel belonging
 thereto. Among other ordinances, which seem to have applied equally
 to free butchers and foreign, it was provided that they should not
 sell hides or woolfels till after prime, or six in the morning; that
 they should not sell a woolfel while the animal was alive; and an
 injunction is to be met with more than once, that butchers, neither
 themselves nor by their wives, should sell suet, tallow, or lard, for
 the purpose of being taken beyond sea. Candles were made in these days
 of tallow or wax, as now.”

       *       *       *       *       *

 “The persons whose business it was to receive guests for profit,
 appear to have been divided into two classes, ‘_Hostelers_’ and the
 ‘_Herbergeours_.’ The line of distinction between these two classes
 is not very evident, but it seems not improbable that it consisted
 in the fact that the former lodged and fed the servants and horses
 of their guests, while the latter did not. At all events, hostelers
 are mentioned as supplying hay and corn for horses, but herbergeours

       *       *       *       *       *

 “_Temp._ Edward I., Barbers were forbidden to expose blood in their
 windows, but were ordered to carry it privily to the Thames,—one of
 the comparatively few ordinances of these times to the detriment of
 that now much ill-used stream. _Temp._ Henry IV., an enactment is
 found, to the effect that Barbers shall not follow their calling, or
 keep their shops open on Sundays. At the close of Edward the Third’s
 reign, Bowyers were forbidden to send bows to Cornhill, or to any
 other place within the City, for sale. In the early part of the same
 reign, Spurriers were ordered to sell spurs at the rate of 6d. and 8d.
 the pair, the very best not to exceed 12d. In the same reign, it was
 also enacted that every Goldsmith should put his mark on plate of his
 manufacture; all Smiths, too, who made swords, and knives, were to
 have their private mark. _Temp._ Edward I., the prices to be charged
 and materials were regulated on the following terms: for putting on
 a common horse-shoe with six nails, 1½d.; with eight nails, 2d.;
 and for removing the same, 1/2d.; for putting a shoe on a courser,
 2½d.; for putting a shoe on a charger, 3d.; and for removing a shoe
 from either, 1d.

 Carriage or cartage might at any time be seized by the serjeants and
 grooms (_garsons_) of the City dignitaries and officials from the
 ‘_Traventers_,’ or persons who kept carts and horses for hire. The
 carts, however, that carried away the filth of the City are mentioned
 as being especially exempted; an enactment that has very much the
 semblance of making a virtue of necessity. The serjeants and grooms
 were especially directed, not to molest the carts and horses of the
 poor persons who brought victuals and other wares to the City for
 sale, and not ‘for their own private gain,’ to spare those of persons
 who kept them for hire,—a rather strong hint as to the prevalence
 of bribery, which in all probability was anything but uncalled for.
 Carts used in the City for the carriage of sand, gravel, or potter’s
 clay, contained one full quarter and no more.” (Riley, Introduction to
 _Liber Albus_.)

To these trade regulations should be appended a most formidable
document (38 Ed. III.) issued against usurers. The preamble will
sufficiently expose the view held of usury at that time.

“Whereas heretofore the City of London has sustained great mischiefs,
scandals, and damages, and in time to come might sustain the same, by
reason of certain persons who, neither for fear of God nor for shame of
the world, cease, but rather do daily exert themselves, to maintain the
false and abominable contract of usury, under cover and colour of good
and lawful trading; which kind of contract, the more subtly to deceive
the people, they call ‘exchange’ or ‘chevisance’; whereas it might more
truly be called ‘wickedness,’ seeing that it ruins the honour and the
soul of the agent, and sweeps away the goods and property of him who
appears to be accommodated, and destroys all manner of right and lawful
traffic, whereby, as well throughout all the land as the said City,
they ought principally to be upheld and maintained. Wherefore, etc.”

Mints were anciently established in every important town, the work of
coinage being entrusted to private persons named moneyers.

In the reign of Edward I. there were mints in London, Canterbury,
Kingston-on-Hull, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Bristol, and Exeter, a system
which produced endless disorders and complaints as to light weight
and bad money. It was not until the reign of Elizabeth that all the
mints were reduced to one, and that in the Tower of London. Gold coins
were introduced by Henry III., but they were not liked, and, as it was
optional to take them, they were not in common use until the reign of
Edward III., who originated the noble, the half noble, and the quarter

When the King or Queen communicated, and on Twelfth Day, an offering
was made of a coin called a Besant, which was afterwards redeemed by
the King’s Chamberlain. The Besant was a circular piece of hammered
gold engraved on one side with the Trinity and on the other with
the Virgin Mary. Those worked for James I. were different. The
representation of the King showed him kneeling before an altar, with
four crowns before him, and the legend _Quid retribuam Domino pro
omnibus quæ tribuit mihi?_ On the other side was a lamb lying beside a
cross with the words _Cor contritum et humiliatum non despiciet Deus_.

On all occasions of state, such as a Coronation, a marriage, a baptism,
a funeral, or the installation of a Knight of the Garter, it was
customary for the King to offer a Besant. The custom is said to have
fallen into disuse when a certain Dean of Windsor refused to allow the
Besant to be redeemed with money. The moneyer to whom was entrusted the
engraving of the Besant was named after the coin. Thus we find in the
reign of Henry II. that the moneyers, as officers especially dependent
on the King, were assessed separately. The Moneyers of London paid a
tallage _ad filiam maritandam_. They were five in number, Achard, who
paid six shillings, Lefwine Besant, who paid five marks, Aylwin Finch,
who paid two marks, and two others.

Let us next ask what were the goods which London merchants had to offer
for exchange and for exportation?

Henry of Huntingdon, writing in the reign of Henry II., says that
England possessed mines of copper, iron, lead, and silver, the last
metal in very small quantities. “Silver, however, is received from the
neighbouring ports of Germany, with which an extensive commerce is
carried on by the Rhine in the abundant product of fish and meat, as
well as of fine wool and fat cattle which Britain supplies.... Britain
also furnishes large quantities of very excellent jet of a black and
brilliant hue.” One observes that he does not include slaves among the
exports. That trade had therefore disappeared. The statement of this
Chronicle stands good for four hundred years. The staple exports of
England continued to be wool, hides, iron, and tin. Sometimes grain
was also exported. England, for many centuries, was the greatest
wool-producing country of Europe. The chief reason appears to have been
the comparative peace enjoyed by the island at a time when the rest of
Western Europe was continually devastated by wars of all kinds, namely,
civil wars, foreign wars, wars between barons, wars between towns. The
Englishman was the only farmer who could keep his sheep. Therefore it
happened that the German Ocean was always covered with light ships
sailing to and fro laden with wool. Flanders was the manufacturing
country which received the wool; when there was a break in the friendly
relations of England and Flanders half the Flemish people were thrown
out of work. England sent abroad money by means of wool: the tribute
to the Pope was paid in sacks of wool sent to Bruges and there sold.
In the year 1343 the Deans of York, Lichfield, and Salisbury, and the
Archdeacon of Canterbury, who were all non-resident Italians, received
their stipends in wool. Even the taxes were calculated by sacks of wool.

Many efforts were made to make England a manufacturing country, but
for a long time in vain. Henry I. established the cloth fair at St.
Bartholomew’s. Edward III. brought weavers from Flanders and settled
them at Norwich. One has only to stand before the Guildhalls of Bruges
and Ghent, or in the splendid Hall of the Drapiers of Ypres, to
understand how great an industry was this of the cloth manufacture,
which the English people were so slow in learning.

Up to the fifteenth century the English ships went up to Bruges by
canal. When in the sixteenth century Maximilian dammed the canal at
Sluys, the English vessels then went to Antwerp.

The chief town of the wool trade was called the Staple. It was changed
from time to time: Bruges, St. Omer, Calais, Antwerp, were all in
succession Staples. When Antwerp was sacked in 1567 and 1585, London
took its place.

The imports may be classified under the division of the countries
whence they came. Thus, from Spain the port of London received figs,
raisins, bastard wine, dates, liquorice, Seville oil, grain, Castile
soap, wax, iron, wool, wadmoles, skins of goats and kids, saffron,
and quicksilver. But these goods were not received from Spain direct,
but through Bruges, the great Flemish emporium, where the English
bought the Spanish merchandise. Portugal exported wine, wax, grain,
figs, raisins, honey, cordovan, dates, salt, hides. Prussia exported
beer, bacon, wax, osmunds, copper, steel, bowstaves, peltry, pitch,
tar, boards, flax, Cologne thread, fustian, canvas, cards, buckram,
etc. The Genoese brought over cloth of gold, silk, pepper, woad, oil,
woodashes, cotton, alum, and gold. The Venetians brought all kinds of
spices and groceries, sweet wines, apes, and other foreign articles,
and many articles of luxury.

    “The grete galleys of Venees and Fflorence
    Be wel ladene with thynges of complacence:
    Alle spicerye and of grocers ware.
    With swete wynes, alle manere of chaffare
    Apes and japes and marmasettes taylede
    Trifles, trifles that littelle have availidde
    And thynges with which they fetely blere oure eye
    With thynges not enduring that we bye
    Ffor moche of thys chaffare that is wastable
    Might be fore borne for diere and dissevable.”

    (_Libelle of English Polycie._)

From Brabant and Zealand came madder, woad, garlick, onions, and salt
fish. In the markets of Brabant were exposed for sale the wares of
France, Burgundy, and Hainault, brought overland in carts.

From Ireland came wool, hides, salt fish, such as salmon, haddock,
herring; limes, skins of martens, otters, rabbits, kids, etc. Scotland
exported direct, without passing through London, wool and hides.

From Brittany came wine, what wine? It must have been wine of the Loire
country shipped from St. Malo; salt and canvas. Iceland sent stockfish
and took corn, cloth, ale, and wine.

Thorold Rogers has compiled a list of English towns which produced and
exported. London is not in that list. London made nothing except for
its own use; it imported all the things which we have enumerated above,
but it made nothing for export. This is a remarkable fact. It proves
that the City was quite early regarded as a centre of distribution.

It will be observed in this list that in matters of necessity London
could do without foreign assistance altogether. The houses were
built of English oak and English stone; bread, butter, cheese, meat,
game, fish, ale, cider, perry, mead, salt, honey, could be made or
obtained; cloth, woollen stuffs of all kinds, linen, fur, fuel, all
these necessary things were provided at home. Even wine—of a kind—was
made of English grapes. The poorer classes had nothing to do with
foreign imports. Except for woad—and some of this was grown at home—the
manufactures and industries of the country could get along very well
without foreign help. The swords of Toledo and Damascus were very
beautiful, but an English cutlass made out of Sussex iron by an English
artificer was more serviceable in battle. The imports were either
luxuries for the wealthy classes, such as wine, preserved fruit, cloth
of gold, buckram, fur, etc., or they were things wanted to supplement
and make cheaper home products, as wax, honey, leather, salt fish,
onions, garlic, etc. For this reason the imports were not as a rule
equal to the exports, and the balance of trade was in favour of London.
Compare the craftsman of Edward III. with him of Victoria. The former
drank brews of various kinds but all home made, the latter drinks tea,
coffee, cocoa, sometimes German beer, whisky, brandy, rum, geneva,
and perhaps wine, all imported. The former ate bread, bacon, mutton,
beef, cheese, eggs, fish, which were all produced at home. Half of the
food stuffs of the latter come from abroad. The former made everything
that was wanted for the house; the latter imports everything, doors,
window-frames, coffins, matches, in fact everything that can be got
cheaper from abroad than at home. Cheapness has its dangers; we no
longer value what it costs no effort to procure; fine wheaten bread
lies unheeded in our gutters; the sense of conquest and possession is
lost; the struggle is no longer for the simple needs of life but for
the luxuries.


From MS. 28162 in British Museum.]

Mention has been frequently made of Fairs. There is nothing now in
existence which in the least resembles one of the great Fairs of this
time. The shops, which were sheds or stalls or booths covered with
canvas, were ranged side by side in streets, called after the kind
of goods sold in them. Thus, there was the “Spicery,” the “Portery,”
the “Drapery.” The Fair lasted for two or three weeks. It was a fair
for exchange as well as for sale; the wholesale merchants frequented
the Fair, exchanging silks for wool or skins; and the retailers
spread out their wares to catch the people. Everything was offered
for sale, while the Fair, which always contained a certain element of
feasting, was amply provided with taverns, eating and drinking shops,
musicians, dancers, tumblers, and jugglers. When the necessity for
the Fair gradually ceased, the entertainments remained. Yet down to
the ’fifties, in the nineteenth century, among the booths there were
always some which kept up the semblance of serious trade; between the
toy-stalls and the gingerbread were booths of cheap books and booths of
hosiery and clothing.

Let us go on to consider the conduct of the trade of London Port.
And, first, as regards the English merchants. When trade begins, all
the regulations of trade for its security, such as the enforcement of
debts, the due carrying out of contracts and agreements, must begin
at the same time. Hence there was created in every trading town an
organised Chamber of Commerce, anciently called the Merchant Gild. Of
this organisation I will speak in another place (see vol. ii. pt. i.
ch. ix.). This Chamber or association of traders assumed, as possessed
by Royal Charter, executive powers, it passed laws, regulated trade in
every branch, ordered prices, received foreign merchants and cargoes
from abroad, appointed the time of market, and punished offenders. The
Gild may have exercised all these functions not only in a prehistoric
but also in a non-historic manner. For in London we have no Merchant
Gild ever spoken of.

Among the foreign traders are mentioned in the _Liber Albus_ the
Cologne merchants, the Hanse merchants, and merchants of Lorraine,
Bavaria, Lemberg, Flanders, Antwerp, Bruges, Louvain, Perugia, Lucca,
Lombardy, Tuscany, Spain, Portugal, Catalonia, Navarre, Provence,
Aquitaine, Quercy, Gascony, Bordeaux, Genoa, and the Italian Societies
of Frescobaldi and Morori. Liberties are also mentioned as being
granted to the Merchants of Douay, Malines, and St. Omer; also to
numerous cities and corporations in England; and allocations were
granted to the citizens of Dublin and Cork.

All these merchants occupied their own houses, in which they were
expected to live by themselves, not associating more than was necessary
with the citizens, who, as far down as the nineteenth century, were
wont to hustle and abuse any foreigner who ventured unprotected into
the streets. The men of Germany had the Domus Teutonicorum, the
Steelyard, where is now Cannon Street Terminus: the men of Bordeaux had
the “Vintry”: the Flemings their own house near the Vintry. The history
of the trade of London for five hundred years is largely composed of
the jealousies and quarrels between the foreign merchants and the
merchants of London.

In the year 1000, strangers from France, Normandy, Rome, Flanders,
Liège, and the Emperor’s men, were permitted to trade at Billingsgate.
In the twelfth century a fleet, carrying wine as its principal cargo
from Germany, arrived at London once a year. It lay off the bank two
ebbs and one flood. This means that the vessels came up the river
with the flood, and lay off during the following ebb and one tide
afterwards. During this time the men were not permitted to land, nor
to sell their cargo. The King’s officers came on board and purchased
what was wanted for the King’s use—gems, plate, tapestry, as well as
wine. After this the traders were allowed to sell to merchants, but
not to go to the open market nor to sell by retail. When they carried
their wares on shore the Sheriff examined them, and they had to pay
scavage, _i.e._ “showage.” They could sell for the space of forty days,
after which they had to go away. But one suspects that the law was not
administered with great strictness. Some things they were forbidden to
buy, as lamb skins: and they were not to buy more than three live pigs!

In 1217, a convention was made between the merchants of London, Amiens,
and other towns. Those of the convention were permitted to load and
to unload, to warehouse in the City, and to sell to citizens, not
to foreigners. In return they were to pay fifty marks a year to the
Sheriffs. One of them might keep a hostel for a year, but not longer.
They were not to take provisions out of the City. These foreigners
contributed £100 towards the construction of a conduit from Tyburn into
the City. Before this time, in 1194, Richard I. had granted to Cologne
merchants the right to attend all Fairs “saving the franchise of the
City of London.”

The expansion of trade and the creation of industries in England
owed a great deal to the spirit of enterprise made possible, or even
engendered, by the new municipal life of the towns. All over the
country the towns asked for and obtained charters after the fashion
of London. There are everywhere, up to the end of the thirteenth
century, signs of activity and of prosperity: churches were rebuilt;
bridges were thrown over rivers; walls were repaired; gates, wharves,
aqueducts were constructed; new trading-ports arose such as Lynn,
Sandwich, Southampton, for instance; new manufactures were started
at Norwich, Worcester, Coventry, Leicester, Nottingham, Reading,
and elsewhere; there are no complaints of poverty and misery; there
is no Piers Plowman for London; the merchants are seen to be buying
country estates; and whereas in the twelfth century England exported
little besides her wool, in the fifteenth century there are entries of
industry and manufactures everywhere. And for all these, London was the
recipient and the distributor.

The Hanseatic League was in existence as far back as the eighth
century. The members began to trade with London apparently very soon
after that date, and were esteemed as merchants who introduced wares
very useful and otherwise difficult to procure. In the reign of
Ethelred, A.D. 979, the “men of the Emperor” were accounted worthy of
“good laws.” They settled by the river-side, where they obtained a
house near Dowgate. Either before or after their settlement the “men of
Cologne” settled next to them. After disputes between the two Houses
they were amalgamated and formed the Gildhalla Teutonicorum. Their
merchandise consisted mainly of wheat, rye and other grain, cables,
masts, pitch, tar, flax, hemp, linen cloth, wainscots, wax, steel, and
other “profitable merchandize.” (Stow).

Not only the citizens of London but the country people looked on the
aliens with hate. No royal proclamation was of avail to protect
them against this hatred. Partly, no doubt, they were hated because
they were foreigners; but mainly, it is certain, because they were
monopolists and could charge what they pleased. Thus when Wat Tyler and
his merry men held possession of the City they murdered all the foreign
merchants, especially the Flemings, dragging them even from the altars.
Chaucer says (_Nonnes Prestes Tale_):—

    “Certes, he Jacke Strawe and his meynee
    Ne made never shoutes half so shrille,
    When that they wolden any Fleming kille,
    As thilke day was made upon the fox.”

The Hanseatic League was most powerful: to it belonged all the
important towns of North Germany, it had ships numbering hundreds,
and controlled the whole trade of the Baltic, that is to say, of
Scandinavia, Russia, Poland, and Germany, and exercised in England
for its own purposes the influence which everywhere belongs to the
purse. The members advanced money to the King on large interest; they
got him out of his difficulties, for a consideration. Thus Edward
III., in return for money advanced, let the Black Prince’s tin mines
in Cornwall to the Germans; and, for the same consideration, he gave
them a number of farms for a thousand years. One need not here follow
the Gildhalla Teutonicorum and its various charters and privileges.
It is sufficient to note that the continual wars of the English—civil
wars, as in the reign of Stephen, Henry III., Edward II., Richard II.,
Henry VI., Edward IV. and Richard III.; foreign wars with Scotland and
France; the repression of rebellion as in Ireland and in Wales—checked
the growth of commercial enterprise and made it impossible for the
English merchant to contend against the League. Yet when the Merchant
Adventurers began, early in the fifteenth century, they attacked the
Hanseatic trade in Norway and in Denmark and in Flanders. There was
fierce resistance; in Bergen the English merchants were murdered; on
the open sea the “Rovers” or pirates attacked and destroyed the English
ships; the Hanseatics pillaged the English coasts. The English power at
sea was unable to put down these acts of piracy or war. The King was
obliged to invite the arbitration of Charles, Duke of Burgundy, who
accorded to the English merchants the substantial benefit of trading in
the Baltic, but restored to the League all their former privileges and
more. This arbitration was called the Treaty of Utrecht. It remained in
force till the final expulsion of the League a hundred years later.

The Gildhalla Teutonicorum or Steelyard covered a large area in the
most crowded part of London. Its river front extended from Cousin
Lane—a narrow lane close to Dowgate Dock on the west—to Allhallows Lane
on the east; and from the river to Thames Street. This area contained
about 110,000 square feet. It was surrounded by a strong wall; the
chief building was a large hall called the Guildhall in which the
merchants and their clerks took common meals; the north front looking
on Thames Street possessed three arched gates, of which for greater
security the two side gates were walled up. Above the three gates were
the following inscriptions:—

  (1) “Haec domus est laeta semper bonitate reputa:
       Hic pax, hic requies, hic gaudia semper honesta.”

  (2) “Aurum blanditiae frater est natusque doloris:
       Qui caret hoc moeret, qui tenet hoc metuit.”

  (3) “Qui bonis parere recusat, quasi vilato fumo in flammas cecidit.”


  _Grove and Boulton_


Another strong building was the residence of the Master overlooking the
river. Between the two houses was the garden planted with fruit-trees
and vines. Here later the merchants sold Rhenish wine. The quay, which
extended along the river front, was provided with a large crane, and
all the goods were landed on this quay. The life led by the residents
was monastic in its character. They were unmarried; no women were
allowed within the walls; cleanliness was strictly enforced; every man
was bound to have a complete suit of armour; they were not allowed to
fence or to play tennis with Englishmen, in order to avoid any occasion
for a brawl; and at a certain hour the gates were closed. Disputes
arose between the company of Merchant Adventurers and the Hanseatic
merchants. In 1552, in the reign of Edward VI., the monopoly of the
Hanseatic League was taken from them. The following is the entry made
by King Edward VI. in the resolution of the Privy Council:—

“Feb. 23. A decree was made by the board, that, upon knowledge and
information of their charters (those of the Stiliard), they had found:
First, that they were no sufficient corporation; Secondarily, that,
when they had forfeited their liberties, King Edward IV. did restore
them on this condition, that they should colour no strangers’ goods
(_i.e._ that they should pass no goods of other foreigners through
the Customs as if they were their own), which (yet) they had done.
Also, that, whereas in the beginning they shipped not past eighty
cloths, after 100, after 1,000, after that 6,000, now in their names
was shipped 14,000 cloths in one year, and but 1,100 of all other
strangers. For these considerations sentence was given that they had
forfeited their liberties, and were in like case with other strangers.”

They continued to trade like other foreign merchants until the year
1599, when Elizabeth ordered them to depart; yet many remained and
became merged in the general population of London. At the time of the
Great Fire the buildings were entirely destroyed; but the site still
belonged to the merchants, who obtained a charter from Charles II.
“granting permission to erect a church for themselves on a spot where
one had formerly stood.” What was that church? It was not Allhallows
the Great, which was rebuilt out of the coal dues. Nor Allhallows the
Less, which was never rebuilt. Perhaps there was a chapel within their
walls which these pious merchants desired to restore; but they never
carried out that laudable intention. It was resolved in 1599 that the
House should be taken from them and converted into an office for the
Queen’s Navy. Yet in 1666 we find that the site still belongs to them.
The two statements are difficult to reconcile.

But there were other foreign merchants besides the Hansards. The men of
Genoa had privileges. Bordeaux sent fleets containing wine; Rochelle
sent wine; Lorraine sent also an annual fleet containing wine; there
were ships from Genoa and Venice. Whatever they brought, they carried
away wool. England paid her Peter’s Pence in wool; she paid for
everything that she bought of these merchants in wool.

As regards the trading fleets, consider the “Flanders Fleet” of
Venice. This splendidly organised merchant service consisted of a
large number of galleys, each manned by 180 oarsmen not apparently
slaves, but Sclavonians who had their own fraternity at Southampton:
each ship had also on board thirty archers well equipped for purposes
of defence. This fleet, which was first sent out in 1307, “visited
Syracuse, Majorca, the coasts of Spain and Portugal, and proceeded
thence to England and to the low countries.” They did not always call
at London, but always at Southampton, which was their chief port in
England. There still remains at the church of North Stoneham a stone
marking the burial-place of certain Sclavonian oarsmen who died while
at Southampton. “Sepultura de la Schola de Sclavoni” (Cunningham).
Arrived at the Downs the fleet broke up and repaired to London, Rye,
Winchelsea, Sandwich, and other places.

The Italian Quarter in London was near the Tower. These Italians, men
of Pisa, Lucca, Genoa, and Venice, were called “Galleys men” because
they came up the river in galleys, and the quay where they landed their
wines and other merchandise was Galley Quay. Stow says:—

 “In this lane of old time dwelt divers strangers, born of Genoa and
 those parts; these were commonly called galley men, as men that came
 up in the galleys brought up wines and other merchandise, which they
 landed in Thames St. at a place called Galley key: they had a certain
 coin of silver amongst themselves, which were halfpence of Genoa and
 were called Galley halfpence: these halfpence were forbidden in the
 13th of Henry IV., and again by Parliament in the 4th of Henry V. It
 was, that if any person bring into this realm halfpence, suskinges,
 or dodkins, he should be punished as a thief: and he that taketh
 or payeth such money shall lose a hundred shillings, whereof the
 king shall have the one half, and he that will sue the other half.
 Notwithstanding in my youth, I have seen them pass current, but with
 some difficulty, for that the English halfpence were then, though not
 so broad, somewhat thicker and stronger.” (_Survey_, Book II.)

In the year 1353 Edward III. sent a Royal Injunction to the Mayor and
Sheriffs concerning two Genoese, named Francisco of Genoa, and Panimo
Guilliemi servant of Francisco de Spinola of Genoa. These foreigners
had opened a wine-shop consisting of two cellars, in one of which was
stored red and white wine, and in the other sweet wine (of Sicily,
Crete, Cyprus, Gaza, etc.). The City officers, fearing that these
foreigners would mix the wine, which was supposed to be extremely
prejudicial to health, made them shut their shop, and the Mayor took
the oath of the two men that they would not mix the sweet and the white
wine, before he suffered them to continue in their trade.

The Flemings were always in closer commercial relation with London than
any other nation. They were the greatest buyers of wool; they came over
here to settle first when William the Conqueror’s Queen protected them;
next, on the invitation of Edward III. The Weald of Kent was full of
wealthy Flemings in the fifteenth century; it is probable that Caxton
in his boyhood spoke Flemish as well as English, because he was born in
the Weald; and though these men remained among us for many generations
they did not become English. They were considered hard in their money
dealings; it was against their honour and good name that the famous
“Stews” were peopled with Flemish women; and when Jack Straw’s rebels
held the City, one of the first things they did was to murder the

There is another point of view from which we may consider the foreign
element of London, that of the so-called Caursini. The origin of the
name is generally assumed to be the town of Cahors. But why the
Italians of London should be called natives of Cahors is not easy
to understand. When merchants of Cahors are mentioned it is never
in connection with the great financial operations conducted by the
Italians, nor have the Caursini, mentioned in contemporary documents,
any connection at all with the city of Cahors. Another, and perhaps a
more likely derivation, is from an Italian family called Caursini. It
should be noted also that Matthew Paris in the curious specimen of a
deed or agreement between these merchants and a certain Religious House
calls them “of the City of ...” not mentioning Cahors. In another place
he distinctly calls them Transalpines.

The Italians came to London in the reign of King John, not as traders,
but as agents for the collection of the Papal revenue, especially that
part of it which was contributed, very much against their will, by the
Religious Houses. They came chiefly from Sienna, Lucca, and Florence.
They were members of trading companies, apparently of the joint stock
kind, of which all the substantial citizens of the flourishing towns of
Lombardy were members and shareholders, or fellow adventurers.

Their work as Papal agents was very soon supplemented by financial
operations on their own account. They became in communication with
the monasteries, not only on account of the Pope’s exactions, but
also in connection with the sale of wool, which constituted the chief
wealth of the Religious. They were able to give a higher price than
could be obtained from other merchants. They could advance money for
the building which was continually going on in the monasteries. When
a House had to send representatives to Rome the Caursini gave them
letters of credit which enabled them to bribe the officers of the Papal

But—a fact of far greater importance—their resources, which seemed
practically inexhaustible, enabled them to supply money to the English
Kings for nearly two hundred years.

They lent money at high rates of interest; but, as usury was forbidden
by the Church, and a thing hateful and in bad repute, they disguised
the real nature of their transactions. The actual money advanced
was repaid without any interest; but the lender was paid by various
arrangements called by different names, but all meaning the same thing,
though of course there was no affectation of not understanding the true
nature of the transaction. The Italians were regarded, especially by
ecclesiastics, with detestation. Matthew Paris says of them:—

“In these days prevailed the horrible nuisance of the Caursines, to
such a degree that there was hardly any one in all England, especially
among the bishops, who was not caught in their net. Even the King
himself was held indebted to them in an incalculable sum of money. For
they circumvented the needy in their necessities, cloaking their usury
under the show of trade, and pretending not to know that whatever is
added to the principal is usury, under whatever name it may be called.
For it is manifest that their loans lie not in the path of charity,
inasmuch as they do not hold out a helping hand to the poor to relieve
them, but to deceive them; not to aid others in their starvation, but
to gratify their own covetousness.” (Giles’s translation.)

He gives also a specimen of their ordinary form of agreement:—

“_To all who shall see the present writings—the Prior and Convent
of ..., Health in the Lord...._ Be it known to you that we have
received on loan, at London, for the purpose of usefully settling
matters concerning us and our church, from such an one, and such an
one, for themselves and their partners, citizens and merchants of the
city of ..., 104 marks of good and lawful money sterling, each mark
being computed at 13 shillings and 4 pence sterling. For which 104
marks, we, in our own name and in the name of our church, do declare
that we are quit, and do protest that we are fully paid, altogether
renouncing any exception of the money not being reckoned, and paid,
and handed over to us, and also the exception that the said money has
not been converted to our own uses and to the uses of our church. And
the aforesaid one hundred and four marks sterling, in the manner and
to the number aforesaid, to be reckoned to the said merchants, or to
one of them, or to their certain emissary, who shall bring with him
these present letters, on the feast of St. Peter ad Vincula, namely,
the first day of the month of August, at the New Temple, London,
in the year of our Lord’s incarnation one thousand two hundred and
thirty-five, we promise by lawful covenant, and bind ourselves, in our
own name and in that of our church, that we will pay and discharge
in full. Adding moreover this condition, that if the aforesaid money
shall not be paid and discharged at the place and term aforesaid, as
has been said, we promise from that time, at the term always before
completed, and bind ourselves by the same covenant, to give and render
to the aforesaid merchants, or their certain emissary, every two
months, for every ten marks, one mark of the said money, in recompense
for losses, which losses and expenses these merchants might incur
or receive therefrom, so that the losses and expenses and principal
may effectually be claimed, as they have been stated above, and the
expenses of one merchant, with one horse and one servant, wherever the
merchant shall be, until the full payment of all the aforesaid. And the
expenses incurred and to be incurred, for recovering the same money,
we will render and restore to the same merchants, or one of them, or
their certain emissary. Which recompense for losses, interest, and
expenses, we promise the said merchants in no wise shall be reckoned
towards the principal of the said debt; and not to keep back the
said debt under pretence of the above-mentioned recompense, against
the will of the aforesaid merchants, beyond the term aforesaid. For
all which articles aforesaid, firmly and wholly to be fulfilled, and
inviolably to be observed, we bind ourselves and our church, and our
successors, and all our goods and those of our church, movable and
immovable, ecclesiastical and temporal, in possession and hereafter to
be in possession, wherever they shall be found, to the said merchants
and their heirs, until the full payment of all the aforesaid; which
goods we hereby recognise that we possess from them by a precarious
tenure. And we consent on all the aforesaid to be convened in all
places, and before any tribunal, and do renounce, for all the aforesaid
for ourselves and our successors, all the aid of law, both canon and
civil, the privilege both of clerkship and of court, the letter of
Saint Adrian, every custom and statute, all letters, indulgences, and
privileges obtained, or to be hereafter obtained from the Apostolic
See for the King of England and all the people of his kingdom, the
constitution _De duabus dietis_, the benefit of full repayment, the
benefit of appeal and of recusation, the inhibitory letters of the
King of England, and all other exception, real and personal, which
might be objected against this instrument or deed. All these things we
promise faithfully shall be observed. In testimony of which matter we
have thought it right to affix our seals to this present writing. Done
on the fifth day of Elphege, in the year of grace MCCXXXV.”—(Matthew
Paris, Giles’s translation, pp. 2-4.)

The rate of interest, it will be seen, was 60 per cent per annum.

In that same year—1235—the Bishop of London “perceiving that the
Caursines openly multiplied their usury without shame and led a most
filthy life, harassing the Religious with various injuries and amassing
heaps of riches from the numbers who were forced to submit to their
yoke,” arose and admonished them to desist from their practices and to
do penance for their misdeeds. But what is a Bishop of London compared
with the Pope of Rome? The Caursini laughed at the Bishop; they
appealed to Rome; they procured an order that the Bishop, then old and
ill, should repair to Rome with his complaints. The Bishop, therefore,
said no more.

In the year 1251, proceedings were taken against some of them. They
have the air of being a concession to popular prejudice, and also as a
means of raising money for the King.

Again, to quote Matthew Paris:—

“The Transalpine usurers whom we call Caursins were so multiplied
and became so rich that they built noble palaces for themselves at
London, and determined to take up a permanent abode there, like the
native-born citizens; and the prelates did not dare to murmur, as
they, the Caursins, asserted that they were the agents of the Pope;
nor did the citizens dare to express their discontent, as these men
were protected by the favour of certain nobles, whose money, as was
reported, they put out to amass interest after the fashion of the Roman
Court. However, about this time, by the wish and instrumentality of the
King, heavy accusations were made against them in the civil courts, and
were brought to trial before a judge, and whilst some one in London sat
as judge on the part of the King, who accused them, they were charged
with being schismatics, heretics, and guilty of treason against the
King, because, although they professed themselves Christians, they had
most evidently polluted the kingdom of England with their base trade
of usury; at which the most Christian King complained that he was
deeply wounded in conscience, as he had sworn to preserve uninjured
the holy institutes of the Church. As the Caursins could not deny the
charge, some of them were seized and committed to prison, and others
concealed themselves in out-of-the-way places. At this proceeding the
Jews were rejoiced, as they had now participators in their state of
slavery. At length, however, by the payment of a large sum of money,
these Caursins, the rivals of the Jews, were allowed to be at peace
for a time. One of them had told me, the writer of this work, of these
matters, and declared on his oath, that if they had not built these
costly houses at London, scarcely one of them would have remained in

[Illustration: THE MERCHANT

From the Ellesmere MS. of Chaucer’s _Canterbury Tales_.]

The methods of repayment by the King were various. The creditors
received a bill upon the Exchequer or the Keeper of the Wardrobe;
an assignment of a branch of the revenue—thus 27 Ed. I., the whole
revenues of Ireland were assigned to the Frescobaldi of Florence
in payment of a loan of £11,000; or the proceeds of a subsidy were
given—thus 8 Ed. I., the proceeds of a fifteenth were assigned to the
Italian merchants; or they took over the customs; or they received an
addition to the principal large communal privileges; or they received
offices of dignity and profit: they collected the customs; they took
charge of the Mint; they were ambassadors. In the year 1294 there were
twelve Florentines holding the title of ambassadors from throne states
of Europe.

Among the companies which lent money to English kings in the thirteenth
and fourteenth centuries were the Muzzi of Florence, the Company of
Jacopo Brabazen of Sienna, the Bardi of Florence, the Ammanati of
Pistoia, the Circuli Nerci and the Circuli Bianche of Florence, the
Company of the Sons of Beccori of Lucca, the Palci of Florence, the
Riccardi of Lucca, the Spini of Florence, the Company of Bestre of
Lucca, the Scali of Florence and the Peruzzi of Florence, besides the
Frescobaldi of Florence already mentioned. (See Appendix III.)

Enormous sums were advanced by these companies and repaid, during
these two centuries. In 1254 Henry III. was called upon by the Pope to
pay the sum of 130,541 marks sterling for expenses connected with the
business of Sicily. Between the years 1295 and 1309 the Frescobaldi
received of Edward I. and Edward II. the sum of £100,000. On the
accession of Edward II. he had to pay, on account of his father’s
debts, the sum of £118,000 and on his own account £28,000.

If, however, the Italians made immense profits out of the English kings
retribution fell upon them, because the English King caused their ruin.
Giovanni Villani tells the story:—

“At the period of the war between the kings of France and England,
the companies of the Bardi and Peruzzi, of Florence, were the King of
England’s merchants. All his revenues and wools came into their hands,
and they furnished from them all his expenses. But the expenses so
much exceeded the revenues that the King of England, when he returned
home from the war, found himself indebted for principal, assignments,
and rewards, to the Bardi more than 100,000 marks sterling, and to
the Peruzzi more than 135,000 marks. Of these sums a considerable
portion consisted in assignments which the King had made to them in
times passed: but they were rash enough, whether from covet of gain
or led on by the hope of recovering the entire debt, to give them
up, and entrust all their own property and that of others in their
keeping, to this one prince. And observe, that a large part of the
money they had lent was not their own capital, but had been borrowed
by them or received on trust from fellow-citizens and strangers. And
great danger thence accrued both to them and to the city of Florence.
For not being able to answer the calls of their creditors in England
and Florence, and elsewhere, where they trafficked, they lost their
credit on all sides, and became bankrupts; and especially the Peruzzi.
Yet they avoided complete ruin by their possessions in the city and
territory of Florence, and by the great power and rank which they
held in the republic. This failure, and the expenses of the state in
Lombardy, greatly reduced the wealth and condition of the merchants
and traders of Florence, and of the whole community. For the Bardi and
Peruzzi had held so large a share of the commerce of Christendom, that
upon their fall every other merchant was suspected and distrusted.
Our city of Florence, in consequence, received a shock, such as
had not been experienced before for many years. But, to add to the
reverses of these companies, the King of France caused them and other
Florentines throughout his dominions to be pillaged of all their
merchandise and property, both on account of the bankruptcy and because
we had been obliged to borrow money of his subjects, to expend on our
affairs in Lombardy and Lucca: and this caused the ruin of many other
smaller companies of Florence, as we shall afterwards make mention.”
(_Archæologia, XXVII.-XXVIII._ pp. 259-260.)

The power of the Caursini thus received a check from which it never
recovered. Italian merchants, however, continued to reside in London,
and to trade there. A curious story is told by Thomas of Walsingham,
and repeated by Stow, of a Genoese merchant resident in the City.
He is said to have proposed that if the King would erect a castle
at Southampton, he would make that place the principal Port in the
Kingdom, and the resort of foreign merchants from all parts. Some of
the merchants of London, however, apprehensive of their own interests,
caused the unfortunate Genoese to be murdered—for which crime one of
them, John Kirby, was executed.

One more story, of a later period, illustrates the still lingering
hatred of the Italians. I give the story in the words of Stow:—

 “In the moneth of Maye, an Italians servaunte walkyng throughe Cheape
 of London, wyth a dagger hangyng at hys gyrdle, a Merchauntes servaunt
 that before tyme had bin in Italy and there blamed for wearing of the
 like weapon, chalenged the straunger, howe hee durst be so bolde to
 beare weapon, consydering he was out of hys Countrey, knowyng that
 in hys Countrey no straunger was suffered to wear the like. To the
 which question such answere was made by the straunger, that the Mercer
 toke from him hys dagger and brake it upon his heade, whereupon the
 stranger complayned to the Maior, who on the morrow sent for the yong
 man to the Guilde Hall: wherfore after his aunswere made unto the
 complaynt, by agreemente of a full Courte of Aldermen, he was sent
 to ward, and after the Court was finished, the Maior and Sherifes
 walking homewarde thoroughe Cheape, were there mette by suche a
 number of Mercers servauntes and other, that they mighte not passe,
 for ought they coulde speake or doe, till they hadde delivered the
 young manne that before was by them sente to prison. And the same
 daye in the afternoone sodainely was assembled a multitude of lewde
 and pore people of the City, which without heade or guide ranne unto
 certaine Italians houses, and especially to the Florentines, Lukesses
 and Venetians, and there toke and spoyled what they found, and dyd
 great hurt in sundry places, but moste in foure houses standing
 in Breadstreete warde, whereof three stoode in Saint Bartholmewes
 Parishe the little, and one in the Parish of Saint Benits Finke.
 The Maior, Aldermen and worshipful Commoners of the Citie, with all
 theyr diligence resisted them what they coulde, and sente diverse of
 them to Newegate: and fynallye, not without shedding of bloude and
 mayming of diverse Citizens, the rumour was appeased. The yong manne
 beginner of all thys businesse, tooke Sanctuarie at Westminster, and
 not long after the Duke of Buckingham with other noble menne were
 sente from the kyng into the Cytie, who there charged the Maior by
 Vertue of a Commission, that inquirie shoulde bee made of thys ryot,
 and so called an Oyer determyner at the Guilde Hall, where satte for
 Judges the Maior, as the kyngs Lieuetenaunte, the Duke of Buckingham
 on hys ryghte hande, the chiefe Justice on the lefte hande, and manye
 other men of name, where whyle they were enpanelyng theyr inquestes,
 the other Commons of the Citie manye of them secretly putte them in
 armour, and ment to have roong the common bell, so to have raysed
 the whole force of the Citie, and to so have delivered such persons
 as before for the robberie were committed to ward. But this matter
 was discretely handled by the counsel and labour of some discrete
 Commoners, which appeased their neighbours in such wise, that all
 this furie was quenched: but when worde was brought to the Duke of
 Buckingham, that the commonaltie were in harnesse, he with the other
 Lordes tooke leaue of the Maior and departed, and so ceased the
 inquirie for that day. Upon the morrow the Maior commaunded the common
 Counsell with the Wardens of fellowships to appeare at the Guild
 Hall, where by the Recorder in the King’s name and the Maior’s, was
 commaunded every Warden, that in the afternoone eyther of them should
 assemble his whole fellowship at their common Halles, and there to
 give straight commaundement, that every man see the king’s peace kept
 within the Citie. After which time the Citizens were brought to such
 quietnesse, that after that day, the enquirie was duly perused, and
 iij persons for the said ryot put in execution and hanged at Tyborne,
 whereof ij were Sanctuarie men of Saint Martins le graunde, the other
 a shipman, for robbing of Anthony Mowricine and other Lumbardes.”
 (Stow’s _Chronicle_.)



The popular imagination has always presented the City of London as
paved with gold; the popular tradition has always delighted to present
the rise of the humble village boy from the poor apprentice to the rich
merchant, Alderman, and Mayor. In London itself this tradition did not
exist, because it was known to be absurd. The honours open to the young
craftsman were those obtained by valour on the field of battle. I do
not think, however, that the traditional rise of the humble village
boy is more than two hundred years old. It began at a time when the
ancient connection of the City and the country had been severed, for
reasons which are treated in another place. There has always been a
perennial stream of immigration into the City; this is proved by the
ancient jealousy with which the people regarded the intrusion into
their trades of “foreigners,” meaning not only Flemings, French, and
people generally of other nations, but men from the country, who were
not freemen or members of any company. This stream consisted almost
entirely of sons of the country gentry, because the humbler kind could
only get away from their villages by running away. As regards the
former, their choice of a profession was limited; they might attach
themselves to the service of some great noble—how many younger sons
were thrown upon the world when Warwick fell? how many when Wolsey was
disgraced? They might follow the King on his wars—thus rose Owen Tudor,
whose own father was a simple gentleman, if he was so much, in the
service of the Bishop of Chester. They might obtain some place at Court
or in one of the King’s houses. Thus, in the sixteenth century, on a
feud arising between the Forsters and the Fenwicks of Northumberland,
one of the Forsters found it expedient to change his native air, which
had become dangerous. He fled south; he made the acquaintance of Henry
Carey, who was keeper of Hunsdon House, then a royal Palace, and was
appointed Yeoman—_i.e._ Head or Chief of one of the Departments; his
son became a Judge; his grandson Lord Chief Justice. Again, he might
enter a monastery—one of Owen Tudor’s sons entered the Benedictine
House of Westminster. He might remain in his own country as bailiff or
steward; he might become a lawyer—it would be interesting to learn how
the Inns of Court were recruited; or, lastly, he might go up to London
and be apprenticed to one of the great companies.

I have long been of opinion that the last line was far more common
than is generally understood. Until recently, however, I have not been
able to establish my theory that the connection between the country
and the City was close, continuous, and widespread; that the younger
sons were sent up to the City as they are now sent into the Army, for
a career considered both honourable and profitable. If this theory can
be maintained, it is quite obvious that the importance of London in the
eyes of the country must have been very much greater than is generally
understood: its political weight must have been much more than has
hitherto been allowed, and its dignity and the dignity of its chief
offices must be in a corresponding degree enhanced. It was not by men
who had been humble village boys that great offices in the City were
filled, but by men of gentility and of good connections. This theory,
if it is well founded, will also show why London has never created an
hereditary aristocracy of her own; why, in a word, London never became
a Venice or a Genoa. The leaders among the citizens always, according
to my view, were connected with brothers and cousins over the whole of
the country; and when the great nobles rode up to their town houses
with their following of hundreds, all gentlemen, they entered a City
containing their own people, their own cousins, living in Palaces equal
to their own; apparelled in the robes of authority and with the gold
chains of power and of dignity.

Thus, I find groups of families from this or that county—the
Fitzwarrens of Devon and Somerset with their cousins the Whittingtons
of Somerset and Gloucester; the Chicheles, Northampton; the Brembres,
Philpots, and Sevenokes from Kent; the Greshams, Bacons, Boleyns, and
Banhams from Norfolk; and this indicates not only that many country
families were connected with the City, but that there were groups of
families, cousins near or far, which habitually sent up their boys to
London. But more direct proofs are necessary to establish what, I feel
certain, was the case, that this connection was widespread and even
general; that a younger son of a gentle family, from the fourteenth
to the seventeenth century at least, regarded trade in the City as a
desirable and honourable profession. I do not think that this was the
case after the middle of the seventeenth century. One of the latest
instances, indeed, of the country gentleman’s son being sent up to town
and made an apprentice is that of Gibbon’s grandfather.

There are, however, many other facts which point in the same direction:—

1. The separation of the distributing and wholesale companies from the
crafts of the working Companies; the position of authority and power
held by the former; the jealousy with which apprentices were admitted
into their bodies; the honours bestowed upon their members by the
sovereign; the responsible offices entrusted to them—one, for instance,
was made Mayor of Bordeaux, another the representative of the King
in the Low Countries. These dignities were not open to mechanics and
persons whose fingers were “blue.”

2. The rapid increase in the fee required of the apprentice. It was at
first a few shillings. Then for shillings they read pounds. Next they
required a property qualification, upon which, however, they did not
long insist. In the time of James I. the fee had risen to £20; it was
afterwards raised to £100 and even to £500. What craftsman—what village
boy—what mechanic—could raise, think you, a fee of even £10—which means
in our money perhaps £300?

3. The practice in the craft companies of admitting two kinds of
apprentices—those who would be received into the trade as master, and
those as journeyman. In the latter case the boy was sometimes made
to swear that he would not attempt to set up as a master on his own
account; he could not, as a rule, hope to do so, for the same reason
that keeps a journeyman in his place to this day: the want of capital
and credit. However, the distinction between master and journeyman was
sharply drawn and jealously maintained. Yet the master must know his
trade, otherwise he could not superintend it. It is true that there
were small masters who worked with their own hands.

4. In _Remembrancia_ (1579-1664) there are notes on 119 Mayors,
Aldermen, Sheriffs, and City Officers. Of these the largest number are
sons of country gentlemen. Thus we have:

  From the Country
      Sons of Gentlemen           59
  Born in London
      Sons of City Merchants      16
  From the Country
      Apparently of poor
        parents                    5
  Parentage not stated            39

5. Another point is the very significant fact that the admiration
of the people was not bestowed, as we might expect, on the rich and
successful merchant, but upon the fighting man. The hero of the London
apprentice was not the Lord Mayor, nor one of the Aldermen, nor the
poor lad who became the rich trader, nor the merchant who owned ships
and lent money to kings; his hero was the London youth who went forth
to fight, and came home a knight.

I have before me a certain book of the year 1590, called _The Nine
Worthies of London_. You would expect to find Thomas à Becket,
Whittington, Chichele, Caxton, Gresham, among these worthies. You would
expect to find that stout old radical, William Longbeard, among them.
You would be quite wrong. Not one of these worthies was remembered.
Thomas à Becket, the protecting saint of London—their own saint—a
member, almost, of the Mercers’ Company, was completely forgotten. None
of the others did the people care to remember. They remembered, as I
have said, only those who had gone out to fight. One London ’prentice
had the honour of fighting for a whole hour with the Dauphin of France;
another was knighted on the field by Edward the Black Prince, and came
home to marry his master’s daughter—her name was Doll; a third slew a
wild boar in Poland; and so on.

There is additional proof that the greater number—by far the greater
number—of the citizens constituting the principal companies, together
with many of those representing the former kind of apprentice, were
gentlefolk—_armigeri_—belonging to what we should call county families.

[Illustration: THE KNIGHT

From the Ellesmere M.S. of Chaucer’s _Canterbury Tales_.]

In the Edition, or the Continuator, of Stow, published by “A. M.—H. D.,
and others,” in the year 1633, the arms of all the Mayors of London
from Henry Fitz Aylwin to that year are given. With the arms is added a
note of the origin and parentage of the Mayors, one by one.

Let me take the latter first. What do we find when we analyse these
returns? I divide the analysis into three heads. First, that of the
Mayors whose parents lived in the country, where they were born; next,
those who were born in London; thirdly, those who were born in other

There are 203 Mayors thus accounted for in 210 years. Re-elections and
obscurity of birth account for the missing seven years:—

  1. Of those who were born in the country there are 156
  2. Of those who were born in London there are       34
  3. Of those who came from other towns there are     13.

Out of 203 citizens who achieved the position of Mayor, 156 came from
the country. These figures are very remarkable. Actually 77 per cent
of the citizens who rose to the highest honours were born in the
country. If the same proportion was observed among all the masters,
there were 77 per cent of those who were the merchant adventurers,
wholesale dealers, importers, exporters, and what we should now call
the heads of firms, capitalists, and employers of labour, in the City,
who were immigrants born in the country. I would not, however, insist
on the latter proportion, for the simple reason that the country lad
has generally shown more ability than the son of the wealthy townsman,
and this, not because he was born and bred in the country, but because
the son of the Alderman is prone to believe that wealth comes of its
own accord, not understanding his father’s early struggles, while the
country lad understands that Fortune helps those who help themselves.
If we make a large deduction on this ground, we may fairly admit that
fully 50 per cent of the merchants came from the country.

Look a little more closely into the accompaniments of this fact. What
is meant by coming from the country? A village of the fourteenth
century contained the Lord of the Manor, the Priest, and the tenantry,
hinds, or cultivators of the soil, with such craftsmen as were
necessary for agriculture. Now it was absolutely impossible for one
of the latter class to find the apprentice fee for a great company or
even the journeyman apprentice fees for a craft company. If he could,
none of the great companies would admit the son of a hind. And in the
craft companies there was always the greatest unwillingness among
the craftsmen of London to admit outsiders at all. The Priest, after
the fourteenth century, was presumably childless, the old custom of
marriage or concubinage being gradually repressed. The Lord of the
Manor remained. He knew that the City offered the chance of fortune
and rank; he knew that his neighbours, his cousins, his friends,
had sent their boys up to the City; he could learn from them how to
find a master for his boy, what fees he would pay, how to get him
introductions, a company, and a career.

But since a very small number of those yearly apprenticed could
rise to the City offices, we may assume that for every Mayor there
were hundreds of apprentices, and we may conclude with absolute
certainty that it was not an uncommon thing, but a well-recognised and
widely-spread practice, for country lads to be sent to London, and that
these country lads were sons of country gentlemen. And this properly
understood, we understand also why London never for a moment thought
of separating herself from the country, and why London, in the truest
sense of the word, was always the very heart of England.

If it be asked why these young fellows were always welcomed in
London, the answer is ready. First, they came to their relations as
the two sons of John Chichele came to their cousins, as Whittington
came to his. Next, the great City had then, as it has now, the custom
of devouring her children; it must always be recruited with fresh
blood; in his energy and strength, stimulated by his poverty and his
resolution and his ambition, the country lad easily rises above the
Londoner of the second generation, and in his turn produces boys who
lack their father’s stimulus, even when they inherit their father’s
strength; they cannot compete with the boy from the country.


From an illumination of the fifteenth century.]

In London at this day, in every great town, in every little town,
even, the same rapid rise, the same decline and fall, of the middle
class goes on perpetually. The successful man has died; the sons throw
away or lose what their fathers gained. Look for them in the third
generation; they are gone; they are lost in the huge flood of the
unknown, the unfortunate, the incapable, the obscure. Perhaps after
many generations one may again emerge; he will be ignorant of the past,
he will begin a family anew—I please myself when I look down the City
lists with thinking that Robert Besaunt, Sheriff in 1195, was perhaps
my own ancestor: a theory for which there is no proof at all; the very
tradition of that descent, if it is a descent, has long been lost.
What has become of the three-and-twenty generations between him and
me? I know not; for six hundred years they have been unknown outside
the village, outside the town, where they were born, and the nameless
mounds that covered their bones have long since been levelled with the
grass around, like those of the descendants of Orgar the Proud, Henry
of London Stone, the Bukerels, the Hardels, the Haverels, and the

There is, however, another point. With the parentage and origin of the
Mayors, there are presented, in this edition (see p. 219) of Stow, the
arms of every Mayor. The earlier shields, such as that of Fitz Aylwin,
we need not regard as authentic. After the thirteenth century, however,
there could be no tampering with things heraldic. All the Mayors bore
arms. Of course we know that in many cases there could be no doubt
about the family arms. Such names suggest themselves as Whittington,
Bullen, Chalton, Fielding, Cooke, Jocelyn, Hampton, Colet, Clopton,
Percival, Capel, Bradbury, and Gresham. Some of them have on their
shields the distinctive signs which mark the younger son. I am indebted
to my friend Mr. Loftie for information on this point.

Thus, in 1631, Whitmore carries a mullet and a crescent—he was
therefore the second son of a third son. Gore was a third son; Hacket
was a second son; Jocelyn was a third son; Gamage was a third son;
Mosely, the son of a third son; Anderson, son of a sixth son. All
these, therefore, without doubt belonged to country families. In some
cases, the arms were late, and were probably granted by the Heralds’
College. Among these are the arms of Cow, Warner, Hardy, Warren, Donne,
and Cotes. Others given in the same book are ancient, as those of
Calthorpe, Duckett, and Gore. In those days, we must remember, there
was the greatest jealousy over the right to bear arms. The Heralds’
Visitations continued into the seventeenth century. A man could no more
assume a coat of arms than he could—or can now—assume a peerage.

I claim, therefore, to have proved the social position and
consideration of the merchants and wholesale traders and adventurers of
London. The aristocracy of the City were brothers and cousins to the
gentry—perhaps the lesser landed gentry of the country. Let that fact
be borne in mind all through our History until the last century, when,
as we have seen, a great change fell upon the City, which ceased for a
long time to have any connection with the country, or to receive any
lads from the country houses and the country gentry.

Then we naturally ask the question, “Does trade detract from honour?”
We have seen that the gentry kept London continually supplied with new
blood; this fact is in itself a sufficient answer. Let us consult a few
authorities on this point. The first is Camden. He is speaking of the
De la Poles:—

“William de la Pole, a merchant and mayor of Hull, was made a Baron of
the Exchequer. His son, Michael de la Pole, became Earl of Suffolk,
Knight of the Garter, and Lord Chancellor. His being a merchant,” says
Camden, “did not detract from his honour, for who knows not that even
our noblemen’s sons have been merchants? Nor will I deny that he was
nobly descended, though a merchant. Whence it follows that _mercatura
non derogat nobilitati_—trade is no abatement of honour.”

The Baron de Pollnitz testifies to the social position of English

“In England the nobility intermarry with traders’ daughters as they
do in France; however, a great distinction should be made betwixt the
one and the other. In England, merchants are sometimes sprung of the
greatest houses in the kingdom, and it has often happened that younger
branches of noble families, who have been brought up to trade, by the
right of succession, have become peers; and frequently it falls out
that when a lord espouses a merchant’s daughter, she may be his cousin,
or at least a lady of good family. Whereas in France, it is always the
daughter of a Roturier.”

Defoe, who always stood up for the honour of trade, says, “Trading is
so far from being inconsistent with a gentleman that in England trade
makes a gentleman; for, after a generation or two, the tradesman’s
children come to be as good gentlemen, statesmen, parliament men,
judges, bishops, and noblemen as those of the highest birth and the
most ancient families.” Swift says, “The power which used to follow
land has gone over to money.” Johnson says, “An English merchant is a
new species of gentleman.” Harrison says, “Citizens often change with
gentlemen as gentlemen do with them.”

If, however, the country gentry sent their sons up to London, there to
be apprenticed, there to become wholesale merchants and adventurers,
the common proposition is equally true that the successful merchant
or his children retired from London into the country, and carried on
a cadet branch of the old house or founded a line of new gentry. This
practice was in use as far back as the twelfth century, when the family
of Gervase, the London merchant, became country gentry of Essex. The
practice has been continued, estates have changed hands over and over
again, the new purchasers being London merchants, or even, in these
latter days, London tradesmen. In the second generation they are
received into county society; in the third their origin is forgotten,
or no longer talked about.

It would be a work of great interest to follow the family history of
those who left London, and became owners of manors, parks, and country
houses. But it would carry me too far, nor could I attempt it, even had
I the time necessary, because the genealogies of the people are so full
of errors, intentional and otherwise, that there would be no certainty
as to the result. One would willingly learn, if one could, who are the
modern representatives of Gervase of Cornhill, Ansgar the Staller,
Leofwin the Portreeve, Orgar the Proud, the Haverels, the Bukerels,
the Farringdons, the Whittingtons, the Philpots, the Greshams, and
the later merchants. The descendants of some of the City houses can,
however, be traced. An imperfect list has been compiled for my use, as

 Sir William de la Pole, already mentioned, Knight of the Garter.

 Alderman Sir Geoffrey Boleyn, Mayor 1457, ancestor of Queen Elizabeth,
 Lord Nelson, and the Earl of Kimberley.

 Alderman Loke, ancestor of John Locke, Lord Chancellor King, and the
 Earl of Lovelace.

 Sir Stephen Broun, grocer, twice Mayor, 1438, 1448, ancestor of Lord

 Robert Pakington and Alderman Barnham, ancestors of Earl Stanhope and
 Sir J. S. Pakington.

 Alderman Sir Baptist Hicks, ancestor of the Earl of Gainsborough, the
 Marquis of Sligo, Admiral Lord Howe, Lord Byron, and Lord Raglan.

 Sir William Holles, ancestor of the Earl of Clare.

 Sir Edward Osborne, Mayor 1582, ancestor of the Duke of Leeds.

 Thomas Legge, citizen and skinner of London, was twice Mayor thereof;
 he married Elizabeth, one of the daughters of Thomas Beauchamp, Earl
 of Warwick, which shows that even in those times the first nobility
 thought it no dishonour to intermarry with merchants. This Thomas
 Legge was direct ancestor of the Earl of Dartmouth.

 Sir Richard Rich, ancestor of the Rich family, Earls of Warwick and

 Sir Josiah Child, ancestor of the Duke of Bedford, Earl Russell, and
 the Duke of Beaufort.

 Alderman Sir John Barnard, ancestor of Lord Palmerston.

 Sir John Coventry, Mayor 1425, ancestor of the Earl of Coventry.

 Sir Thomas Leigh, Mayor 1558, ancestor of Lord Leigh, the Earl of
 Chatham, William Pitt, and Viscount Millman.

 Alderman Bond, ancestor of the Dukes of Marlborough, Leeds, and

 Sir Michael Dormer, Mayor 1541, ancestor of Lord Dormer.

 Alderman Sir Rowland Hill, ancestor of Lord Chancellor Cowper and
 William Cowper the poet.

 Sir Ralph Warren, Mayor 1536, ancestor of Oliver Cromwell and John

 Sir William Capell, Mayor 1503, ancestor of the Earl of Essex.

 Alderman Thompson, ancestor of the Marquis of Bradford.

 Alderman Heathcote, ancestor of Lord Abeland.

 Alderman Coke, Alderman FitzWilliam, ancestors of the Marquess of
 Salisbury, Lord Chancellor Bacon, and the Marquess of Worcester.

 Lionel Cranfield, created Earl of Middlesex.

 Alderman Bathurst, ancestor of Lord Chancellor Bathurst.

 Alderman Herne, ancestor of the Earl of Clarendon.

 Alderman Rythis, ancestor of General Lord Coke.

 Alderman Bardham, ancestor of Sir Robert Walpole and Horace Walpole.

 Alderman Beckford, ancestor of the Dukes of Hamilton and Newcastle.

 Alderman Wall, ancestor of the Duke of Somerset.

 Alderman Shorter, ancestor of the Marquis of Hertford.

 John Coventry, Mayor 1425, ancestor of the Earl of Coventry.

 E. de Bouverie, ancestor of Pleydell Bouverie.

 Sir Robert Ducie, Mayor 1631, ancestor of Lord Ducie.

 Paul Banning, Sheriff 1593, ancestor of Lord Banning.

 Hugh Irwin, ancestor of Viscount Irwin.

 Sir William Craven, Mayor 1610, ancestor of Earl Craven.

 William Ward, goldsmith, ancestor of Lord Dudley and Ward.



The mediæval regulations as to the cleanliness and order of the town
leave nothing to desire, for they were minute, precise, and continually
repeated. If they were passed by the London County Council of to-day
they could not be clearer or more satisfactory.

Thus (A.D. 1282) it was ordered that every trade in the City should
present to the Mayor a list of those practising that trade; by which
means the Mayor and Aldermen would have accessible a Directory of
the City: those not on the list had no right to remain in the City.
Aldermen, also, were to learn who were staying at the hostels, and what
was their business in the City. Curfew was rung at eight every night
at St. Martin le Grand, St. Laurence, and All Hallows Barking. At a
later period it was rung at St. Paul’s and St. Mary le Bow. At curfew
the gates were to be closed; and taverns and brewers were to shut up;
and no one was to walk about the streets. In every ward six men were to
watch all night: the sergeants of Queenhithe and Billingsgate were to
see that all boats were moored at night: no one was to cross the river
after dark: and each sergeant was to have his boat kept in readiness
with a crew of four men, to guard the river. No one was to walk about
the streets at night.

In 1297 a similar proclamation was made. In the same year it was
ordered, in addition, that everybody was to keep the front before
his own house clean; that low pentices were to be removed; and that
no pig-sties were to be allowed in the streets. By this time four
pig-killers had been appointed, but it is evident that little had been
done to enforce the law.

In 1304 a capture of rioters had been effected. Nine men were returned
to prison as common “roreres” and night-walkers.

In 1309 the condition of the streets called for another ordinance.
No man was to throw ordure or refuse into the streets; it was to be
carted down to the river, there to be placed in boats provided for the
purpose, or to be carried out of the town to the lay-stalls beyond the
walls. The fine for the first offence was 40d., for the second and
subsequent offences, half a mark.

In 1311 there was renewed activity in sending to prison “roreres,”
street walkers, male and female, vagabonds, beggars, dicers, and

In 1312 it was ordered that the gates should not only be closed at
curfew, but that chains should be drawn across them on either side, and
that they should be guarded by twelve, or at least eight, men every
night, and sixteen, or at least twelve, men every day. The warders
were ordered to have a watch on the top of the gate to warn them of
the approach of armed men, and to put up the chains and to lower the
portcullis if armed men attempted to enter.

In the year 1321, when trouble first began between King Edward II. and
his nobles, the Mayor and Aldermen were summoned before the King’s
Council at Westminster, and asked whether they would be “willing to
preserve the King’s City of London to the use of him and his heirs as
being the heritage of them, the Mayor and citizens, and at their own

They replied that they would so preserve the City, and they drew up in
writing the method which they proposed to adopt:—

“The manner in which the safe-keeping of the City ought to be performed—

“That is to say: that the Mayor and Aldermen shall be properly armed,
in manner as pertains to them and all their household. And that every
Alderman shall cause to assemble in his Ward, in such place as he
shall think best, the most proved and most wise men of his Ward; and
that they, to prevent perils that may arise to the City—the which may
God forbid—shall survey all the hostels of the Ward, in which they
understand any strangers or suspected persons to be lodged; and that
they shall enjoin such manner of hostelers and herbergeours, that they
shall not harbour or receive any persons whomsoever, if they will not
be answerable for their deeds and their trespasses, if in any way they

“And that every Alderman, in his own Ward, shall cause all those of
the Ward to be assessed to arms; that so they may be armed according
as their condition demands, for maintaining the peace of our Lord the
King, and saving and preserving the same in the said City.

“And that all the Gates of the City shall be well guarded by day and
by night; that is to say, every gate by day, by 12 men, strong and
vigorous, and well instructed, and well armed; so as to overlook those
entering and going forth, if perchance any one be suspected of coming
to do mischief to the City; and by night, by 24 men: so that those who
keep ward by day, come at sunrise, and remain until sunset; and those
who keep watch at night, come at sunset, and remain until sunrise. And
that the bedels of the Wards of those who are summoned to keep ward
shall be there ready with the names of those upon whom they have made
summons, before the Aldermen of their Wards.

“And that every Alderman shall come there at the hour aforesaid, to see
that those who are summoned to keep ward are strong and powerful men,
and well and sufficiently armed.

“And that every night all the great gates shall be closed at sunset by
the Warders thereunto assigned; that is to say, by two of the loyal
and most powerful men of all the Ward, and sworn thereunto; and that
the wickets of the gates shall be kept open until curfew rung out at
St. Martin le Grand; and that then, all the wickets shall be closed,
for all the night through, that so no one enter until Prime rung at St.
Thomas of Acon: and then all the wickets shall be opened until sunrise,
at which time the great gates shall be first opened.

“And that above the gates, and upon the walls between the gates of the
City, there shall be placed sufficient people for watch and ward, that
so no men-at-arms or other persons approach the walls or the gates,
for doing mischief to the City. And if any one shall approach there
in manner aforesaid, then the horn is to be sounded, that the nearest
guards may be warned to come to such spot in defence of the City.

“And that those who are assigned to a certain guard, shall not, for any
noise, for any cry, or for any affray, elsewhere in the City, in any
manner depart from their guard; unless by the Mayor or by the Aldermen
they be commanded so to do.

“And that every night there shall be ordained 200 men, well armed, or
more, according as need demands, to go throughout the City to keep the
peace, and to aid those who keep watch at the gates, if need be.

“And that no ship or boat shall moor or lie to at night, elsewhere than
in the hythes of Billyngesgate and Queen Hythe, from sunset, namely,
to sunrise. And that two good and strong boats shall be provided on
the Thames at night, with armed men, on the one side of London Bridge,
towards the West, and two boats on the other side, towards the East; so
as to guard the water by night, and watch that no one may enter this
part of the City to do mischief; and, if they see peril, to warn the
people of those Wards which are keeping guard upon the water.”

In 1334 another proclamation was made to the same effect as those
of 1282, 1297, 1309, 1312, and 1334. In this case an additional
prohibition was made. No one was to wear a “false face,” meaning a mask.

In 1353 the old proclamation is issued with additions. Hostelers shall
not allow their guests to go around with arms or armour; strangers were
not to carry weapons of any kind; every citizen was to aid the officers
of the City in keeping order; no one was to harbour criminals; no one
was to make “covin, confederacy, or alliance.”

In 1356 the bad roads just outside the Gates were taken into
consideration, and a toll was ordered; for every cart, one penny, for
every horse, one farthing.

In 1357 the King called the attention of the Mayor to the disgusting
condition of the river banks, and ordered them to be cleansed. In
consequence a Proclamation was made that no one was to throw refuse
into the streets or on the river banks.

In 1367 it was ordered that lay-stalls should not be placed near the
water beside the Tower. A lay-stall was a large shallow depression,
generally a pond, into which ordure and filth of all kinds were thrown.

In 1371 the King himself ordered that there should be no killing of
cattle, sheep, and pigs at the shambles, but that the _abattoirs_ of
the City should be at Stratford le Bow on one side of the town, and
at Knightsbridge at the other. I am not aware that any record exists
to show obedience to this order. But in the same year the Mayor
established a tax at Smithfield of one penny for a horse, a halfpenny
for an ox, a penny for eight sheep, and a penny for four pigs, the tax
to be paid both by the vendor and the purchaser, and the proceeds to be
devoted to cleansing Smithfield.

[Illustration: VIEW of the RUINS of Part of the late CHURCH of S^T.
LEONARD, _and the Steeple of S^t. Vedast Foster Lane._


From _Londina Illustrata_.]

In 1372 another Royal Proclamation was issued against the defilement of
the bank. This kind of proclamation always proved futile, because no
one could enforce it.

In 1379 another order of the Common Council was made about keeping
the streets clean. This time the Corporation seems to have recognised
the absurdity of prohibiting what they could not prevent. They no
longer forbid the citizens the throwing of “ordure, filth, rubbish and
shavings” into the kennels, but they say that they must not throw those
things into the kennels except in the time of rain so that they will be
washed away, and they give the Officers of the Wards power to use loam,
sand, and gravel carts for the purpose of carrying off the refuse and
cleaning the kennels.

The result of many centuries’ conversion of the streets into sewers
was of course the saturation of the soil with poisonous matter, which
powerfully assisted the spread of plague.

These are the principal regulations as to the cleaning of the streets
during a hundred years, all of the same tenor, thirteen proclamations
and orders—that is to say, one in every eight years—and no effect

I have made one or two notes from Riley’s _Memorials_ on other points
connected with the government of the City. Thus, in 1288 it was ordered
that the course of Walbrook was to be kept clean. In 1374 a lease
was granted of the Moor to a certain person coupled with the duty of
keeping the Walbrook reasonably clean. Along the Walbrook every house
had its latrine built out over the bed of the stream, and for each, at
one time, a rent of 12d. was paid yearly. The now greatly narrowed bed
of the stream was constantly becoming choked with the accumulation of
filth of all kinds thrown into it: the slender stream was not strong
enough as of old, before the wall was built, to carry things down to
its mouth.

There were public latrines along the river bank—sometimes built out on
quays, sometimes on piers, roofed. The Master of the Temple was bound
to keep up one on the “Temple bridge,” _i.e._ the Temple pier, to which
access was the right of the public. We hear also of a public latrine
without the postern where now Moor Lane begins. It was condemned as
a nuisance, A.D. 1415, and was removed. Another public latrine was
at Bishopsgate just without the gate, probably built over the ditch.
The City gates continued, down to the time of their removal, to have
lay-stalls and heaps of filth and rubbish lying piled without them.
Probably there was a public latrine outside every gate. That of
Bishopsgate was also condemned, and another constructed just within the
walls over the much-enduring bed of the Walbrook. In other places, the
cesspool added its contamination to whatever part of the soil escaped
the contamination of the street. The first construction of the cesspool
was in the reign of Henry III. We shall find, presently, certain wise
laws as to its isolation.

There were men in every ward appointed to be “sweepers of litter,” and
they were sometimes called “rakers.”

Scavagers were officers who took custom upon the Scavage (showage) of
imported goods. They also discharged various other duties, one of which
was to see that precautions were taken in case of fire. Later, they
kept pavements in repair and looked after streets and lanes, so that
they gradually became what we now call scavengers, giving the name of
an honourable occupation to a menial office. On this word Professor
Skeat sends me the following remarks:—

“Another London word is _scavenger_; the solution of which, without
the _Liber Albus_, would have been hopeless. It arose in a way we
could never have suspected, and could never have anticipated; and it
shows the futility of guessing. To begin with, the old sense was quite
different, and the old form was not _scavenger_, but _scavager_. The
man whom we now call a _scavenger_ was formerly called a _raker_;
Langland tells us that, amongst the company in the tavern of which
I have already spoken, there was ‘a raker of Cheapside,’ _i.e._ one
who had to rake the filth together and keep the street clean. The
inspection of streets came to be included among the duties of a
_scavager_, but this was not so at first. Originally, his business was
_scavage_; and _scavage_ meant the inspection of imported goods, which
had to be submitted or shown to the _scavagers_, or inspectors. As to
the word _scavage_ itself, it is a Norman coinage meaning ‘show-age’
or exhibition, coined in an extraordinary fashion by adding the French
suffix _-age_ (as seen in _porter-age_, or _broker-age_), to the
Middle-English word _schaw-en_, which we now pronounce as _show_. And
the net result is, that, once upon a time, a _scavenger_ was one who
was busied about the ‘inspection’ of imported goods; which is quite a
recondite point of history. And it is clear to me, though the fact has
never been made out before, that—when we come to consider that Chaucer
was controller of the City Customs, that it was his special duty to
inspect the imports of wool, and that wool was one of the commodities
on which there was a duty of twelve-pence for every ‘cark’ or load—it
is clear to me (as I said before) that Geoffrey Chaucer the poet was,
by occupation, neither more nor less than a scavenger.”

Complaints were made in 1298 that the people took the stones from the
wall and the timber from the gates, so that both wall and gates were
falling into ruin.

In 1302 one Thomas Bat, being haled before the Mayor on a charge of
neglecting to put tiles instead of thatch on his houses, offered to
indemnify the City in case of any fire happening by reason of his
thatch. The offer was accepted on the understanding that the thatch was
to be removed by a certain time. The _naïveté_ of Mr. Bat in offering,
and the City in accepting, an indemnity in case of fire is truly
remarkable. What would Mr. Bat have done, how far would his personal
estate have gone, if a quarter of the City had been burned down by
reason of his thatch?

Some entries are very remarkable. In 1308 a “supervisor” of barbers was
appointed. Why of barbers? In another place it is hinted that barbers
allowed their shops to become places of assignation; and in another
place they were ordered not to ply their trade on Sundays. Furriers
are not to scour their furs in Cheapside. Turners who made the wooden
measures are ordered to make no measures but those of the gallon, the
potell (or half gallon), and the quart, and not to make any of the
false measures called chopins and “gylles.” But why were the chopin and
the gill false measures? White tawyers and megusers were not to flay
horses in the City: were there, then, no knackers’ yards?

The paving of the City did not become general until the fourteenth
century. Even then, in 1372, we find “the Pavement” before the Friars
Minors in Newgate Street mentioned as if it were a distinguishing
feature of that street. Perhaps the explanation is that the roadway
itself was paved for the convenience of the poultry market there.
Paving was required of every householder before his own house, but the
middle of the street was paved by means of the tax called Pavage. By
means of this tax, every cart that entered the gates paid a penny. But
a cart carrying sand or clay paid 3d. a week, and a cart carrying corn
and flour paid the same: a cart laden with firewood paid 1/4d., and a
cart with charcoal paid 1d. But carts and horses carrying provisions
for private consumption paid nothing.

In 1334 certain foreign merchants were exempted from the toll or tax of
Pavage except before their own hostels. Riley thinks that the pavement
for the Poultry Market in Newgate Street, and other open spaces used
as markets, consisted of “rough layers of stones.” But the paviors
formed a separate craft, and their pay was regulated at so much a toise
(7½ feet) in length. This indicates some skill and knowledge, which
certainly would not be wanted for “rough layers of stones.”

The dangers of the night were always present in the minds of the
sober citizens. When the streets were without light—which was the
case practically, in spite of regulations and ordinances, till the
eighteenth century—and without a patrol, the way of the robbers and
murderers was easy. The danger varied; sometimes, especially in time
of foreign war, the streets were comparatively quiet; sometimes,
especially when the soldiers returned, they were filled with violence,
brawls, and robberies. A strong Alderman in a Ward suppressed
disorders: indeed, it is most certain that it was easy to find out
the character of every man in the Ward; a weak Alderman encouraged
evil-doers: and it was always easy for a malefactor to get across the
river in a boat and find safety in those parts of Southwark where the
City had no jurisdiction. The worst time ever known in London for this
kind of disorder was certainly towards the end of the twelfth century,
unless, perhaps, it was a hundred years later, when King Edward
suppressed the Mayor for twelve years.

As for the craftsman, on Saturdays work was knocked off at Vespers,
that is, at 4 P.M. The shops stood open on the ground floor with wide
windows, glazed at the top or not at all. The selds, of which we hear
so much, were places for storage and warehousing first, and shops next.
Thus North and South Shields are the north and south selds. One of the
streets, as Broad Street, for example, had two kennels or gutters, the
others only one. Many laws were passed about pigs, which were allowed
to be kept within the house, one supposes in the garden or back-yard,
but not in the streets.

The lawlessness that was continually breaking out in the streets is
abundantly illustrated in the pages of Riley. Thus, there was the
quarrel between the saddlers and the painters in 1327. It began with
“contumelious” words between William de Karleton, saddler, and William
de Stokwell, a painter: their friends arranged for the dispute between
them to be settled by arbitration of six persons on either side, and
a “day of love,” _i.e._ of reconciliation, was appointed to be held
at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Unfortunately the painter went about making
mischief and got together all the painters, joiners, loriners, and
gilders in the City, so that they agreed to stand by each other, and
in case of dispute or offence to close their selds until the case was
adjusted. This was naturally followed by a fight in the streets, in
which many were killed or wounded. The case was brought before the
Mayor and Aldermen, by whom a Committee of Arbitration, consisting of
six Aldermen, was appointed. The Aldermen heard the case on both sides,
and chose six men of each trade, by whom articles of agreement were
arrived at and a day of love was named.

The water supply of the City was in its early history abundant. There
were wells, springs, and streams everywhere. Through the wall of the
City flowed the Walbrook, fed by one spring at least within the City.
This stream received half-a-dozen affluents before it reached the wall.
Outside there were the springs of Clerkenwell, the Holy Well, Sadler’s
Well, and others falling into the River of Wells or Fleet River: in the
Strand there were small streams flowing down to the Thames from what
is now the site of Covent Garden. And within the City there were many
wells of pure water: in Broad Street, at Aldgate, at St. Antholin’s
Church, at St. Paul’s Churchyard, at the Grey Friars, at Aldersgate, at
many private houses; the number of these wells can never be discovered,
because the Fire of London choked them, and they were built over and
forgotten. When Furnival’s Inn was destroyed quite recently, old wells
were found below the foundations. There was also the Thames water,
which at certain periods of the ebb tide was tolerably pure, if it was
taken some distance from the bank.

When the Walbrook became an open sewer, and the Fleet River defiled
with every kind of refuse, it was necessary to obtain a supply of water
from outside. In the reign of Henry III. (1236) a conduit of stone was
erected at Marylebone for the reception of water from the Tyburn. (See
p. 24.)

There were nine conduits or bosses set up in different parts of the
City, but all on the western side of Walbrook. Three of these conduits
were in Chepe, one opposite Honey Lane, another where Chepe becomes the
Poultry, and a third, the Little Conduit, at the west end of Chepe,
just east of the present statue of Sir Robert Peel. Another conduit
stood in Snow Hill. It was repaired and restored in 1577 by one Lamb,
who connected it with a spring on the site of the drinking fountain
before the Foundling Hospital. The City on the east of Walbrook was
supplied by wells, especially by a well opposite the future site of
the Royal Exchange. The great conduit of Cornhill called the Standard
was not set up until 1581. An earlier conduit, however, was that at
Aldgate, which brought water from Hackney. The New River water was
brought into the New River Head in the year 1613.

When there was no well within reach and no “boss,” water was carried
about by men. Those who lived on the banks of the river used the
river water for their workshops and other purposes. Southwark was
supplied partly from a great pond in St. Mary Overies open to any
high tide, partly from springs, and partly from streams. In the City
itself there were many springs, especially in the lanes ascending from
Thames Street. But water had to be fetched. Therefore, the breweries
were all placed on the river bank; and also as many of the industries
requiring water as could find place there. As every gallon of water had
to be paid for or carried by a servant, it is obvious that personal
cleanliness could only be regarded in houses where money was plentiful
or the service sufficient. We must not, however, conclude that the
mediæval citizen went always unwashed; there were “stews,” or places
for hot baths—which became notorious places of resort; and in great
houses and castles the visitor was always conducted to the bath-room on
arrival. The craftsmen, one supposes, were in the fourteenth century
exactly like the craftsmen of the eighteenth century in this respect,
that is to say, they did not often bathe.

The scarcity of water affected the house even more than the people
in it. Where was the water for the continual scrubbing of floors and
stairs on which the modern housekeeper insists? There was none. The
ground floors were of hard clay: and, as we have seen, they were
covered with rushes, which were not too often changed: the bedrooms
were strewn with flowers in the summer, and with sweet herbs of all
kinds in the winter: but all the rooms, as one would expect where there
was little washing and little ventilation, were pestered with vermin.

Wilkinson (_Londina Illustrata_, vol. i.) gives an account of the City

“In addition to the Great and Little Conduits in West-Cheap, the
other public reservoirs of London consisted of the following. The
Tun upon Cornhill, furnished with a cistern in 1401; the Standard in
West-Cheap, supplied with water 1431; the Conduit in Aldermanbury, and
the Standard in Fleet-Street, made and finished by the executors of
Sir William Eastfield in 1471; the Cisterns erected at the Standard
in Fleet-Street, Fleet-Bridge, and without Cripplegate, in 1478; the
Conduit in Grass-Street, made in 1491; the Conduit at Holborn Cross,
erected about 1491, and rebuilt by William Lambe, in 1577, whence it
was called Lambe’s Conduit; the Little Conduit at the Stocks Market,
built about 1500; the Conduit at Bishopsgate, about 1513; the Conduit
at London Wall against Coleman-Street, about 1528; the Conduit without
Aldgate, supplied with water from Hackney, about 1535; the Conduit in
Lothbury and Coleman-Street, near the Church, about 1546; the Conduit
of Thames water at Dowgate, in 1568.” “Of the fore-mentioned conduits
of fresh water that serve the city,” adds Richard Blome, in reference
to their state after the Great Fire, “the greater part of them do still
continue where first erected; but some, by reason of the great quantity
of ground they took up, standing in the midst of the City, were a great
hindrance, not only to foot-passengers, but to porters, coaches, and
cars; and were therefore thought fit to be taken down and to be removed
to places more convenient and not of that resort of people; so that
the water is still the same. The Conduits taken away and removed with
their cisterns are the Great Conduit at the east end of Cheapside; the
Great Conduit called the Tun in Cornhill; the Standard in Cheapside;
the Little Conduit at the west end of Cheapside; the Conduit in
Fleet Street; the Great Conduit in Grass-Church Street; the Conduit
without Aldgate; the Conduit at Dowgate.”[5] The final disuse of these
aqueducts took place about 1701. The Conduit at the Stocks Market after
its re-erection appears to have been celebrated principally for the
fine statue placed over it by Sir Robert Viner, the whole of which was
removed for the building of the present Mansion House in 1739.

  [5] _Londina Illustrata_, vol. i.

The accounts of the “Masters” of the Great Conduit in Chepe for the
year 1350 (see Riley, _Memorials of London_, pp. 264, 265) touch on
many points of interest. They show that the conduit was maintained
and kept in repair by a rate levied on the houses of Chepe and the
Poultry, and that this rate varied from 5s. to 6s. 8d.; that the whole
line of the pipes was examined, which examination led to the repair
of the fountain head at Tyburn, also to bringing a branch pipe to the
King’s Mews at Charing Cross, mending the pipe between the Mews and the
Windmill, Haymarket, withdrawing the fountain-head twice a quarter, and
mending the pipe at Fleet Bridge, etc. The pay of the workmen was 8d. a
day with a penny for drink, called _none chenche_, _i.e._ non-quencher,
whence our word _nuncheon_ or luncheon. The conduit as well as that at
the other end of Chepe was provided with “tankards,” _i.e._ vessels
shaped like a cone, narrow at the top, holding three gallons and
provided with a stopper and a handle by which they could be carried.
The men who took the water from the conduit to the houses were called
Cobbs, or Water-leaders.

In the matter of crowding we must not exaggerate. The City was crowded
even in the time of Henry V., but not nearly so crowded as it became
later on. There were still fair gardens in it, extensive gardens,
with fruit trees and lawns and flowers, all over the City, especially
on the northern and eastern sides, where land was of less value than
elsewhere. Every Monastic House had its garden, St. Paul’s Churchyard
was on its south side a great garden, the Companies’ Halls had their
gardens, the churchyards were spots of greenery, and there were whole
streets whose houses looked out upon broad stretches of open garden
ground. I have mentioned the way in which the great nobles’ and
merchants’ houses stood about in the narrow streets among the tenements
and workmen’s houses. These town houses were in the City until the
nobles began to build palaces along the river for the sake of the open
air and the pleasantness. Many of the town houses had been deserted,
sold, and pulled down before the end of the sixteenth century.

In the main thoroughfares it was at some time or other found necessary
to rank the houses, the stalls, and the selds, in line along both
sides of the street; the earliest representation of Cheapside shows
such a line. But with the bye-streets this was by no means the case.
Their _raison d’être_ was the passage from one main artery to another.
How did the merchandise get itself carried out of Thames Street
and from the Quays? By means of the narrow ways from Thames Street
north. Observe that these were for the most part straight, because
the easiest way to carry a burden up a short hill is to take it with
a run; the porters ran straight up the hill to Eastcheap and walked
thence to London Bridge, Cheapside, the markets of London, and the high
roads, north, south, east, and west. In other parts of the City the
bye-streets were not always, or even generally, straight. Was it that
the lane was formed by the proverbial cows following each other? Not
at all. There was no cow, in other words, the cow was not consulted
in forming the lane. It was for this reason. The craftsmen gathered
together, each according to his own trade and with his fellows for
convenience of production, price, and common furnaces and appliances;
it was necessary that there should be a lane of communication from
the place of work to the place of sale; the workmen, however, set up
their houses, without much regard to this lane of communication, beside
each other (see also p. 251), opposite to each other, at right angles,
anyhow, and the lane wound its way through and among these houses; at
first there were gardens behind the houses, but, when the ground became
more valuable, courts and narrow streets were thrust through these
gardens—Ogilby’s map of 1677 (see _London in the Time of the Stuarts_)
shows in parts the very process of building through the gardens. We
must again remind ourselves that in the early centuries there were no
attempts to make the streets straight, except for those which were
wanted for the main thoroughfares, and for convenience of carriage.
Even as late as the seventeenth century, and after the fire, there were
streets where the houses projected right across the roadway. In Mark
Lane one house projected twelve feet. I have in some places thought
that indications of the former projections may still be discovered,
but cannot insist upon the theory in any single instance. Most of them,
certainly, were either entirely removed or greatly reduced, and the
houses were set in line after the Great Fire. Illustrations of the way
in which a street wound and turned among houses, built without regard
to line, may be found in many old villages; especially in Bunyan’s
village of Elstow, where many of the houses are quite irregular, and
the road (wider than a London bye-street) follows the houses rather
than the reverse. In this way, especially, the lanes or narrow streets
round the old Palace of Westminster and beside the river gradually made

I have already mentioned the houses of nobles, ecclesiastics, and
merchants, which stood among these narrow lanes. Many of these had to
be large enough to accommodate the immense following of the noble lord
to whom they belonged—perhaps five hundred men or more; yet, since
the standard of accommodation was by no means so high as our own,
the number of rooms wanted would not after all be so very great. If
the men-at-arms lay side by side on straw or rushes, each wrapped in
the coarse blanket called hop-harlot with a log for a pillow, thirty
or forty could sleep in a single room of moderate size, just as in a
man-o’-war the sailors are allowed fourteen inches in width for a

Such, then, was the appearance of London in the fifteenth century;
always and everywhere picturesque, whether for the courts of its
stately palaces, or the topheavy gabled houses, or the carvings,
paintings, and gilding of the exterior, or the tumble-down courts
and lanes, or the many old churches, or the magnificence of the
religious houses, or the trade and shipping on the river, or the people
themselves. Of the old City houses there now remain but a portion of
one, namely, Crosby Hall, and the front of another, Sir Paul Pindar’s
house, which is in the South Kensington Museum.

If we consider the ancient names of streets and places in London,
we find that while a great many have been lost or changed out of
recognition, there still remain many which are the same to-day as
they were six hundred years ago and more, I have drawn up a list
of those streets which are mentioned in the books most useful for
this purpose—the _Memorials_, the _Calendar of Wills_, the _Liber
Custumarum_, and the _Report of the Commission_. (See Appendix IV.) The
names may be divided into classes. Thus, the natural features of the
City, while they were yet dimly marked and still visible, are indicated
by such names as Cornhill (unless that is the name of the old family
of Corenhell), Ludgate Hill, Tower Hill, Lambeth Hill, Bread Street
Hill, Addle Hill. These names remind us of the time when the low cliff
overhanging the river was gradually cut away till it became a short
and steep hill running along the north side of Thames Street. The name
River of Wells given to the Fleet commemorated the number of springs or
wells which bubbled up in and round the place called Clerkenwell, so
named after one of them. Walbrook is only remembered in the City by
the street which covers the stream. Next, the ancient holders of City
property are still remembered by many surviving names. Among the wards
there is Bassieshaw, which takes its name from the family of Basing.
Cornhill, as stated above, may refer to the hill or it may be the name
of the family of Corenhell; Farringdon Ward retains the name of the
Farringdons; Portsoken Ward marks the estate whose rents were formerly
reserved for the defensive purposes of the City; Baynard’s Castle
preserves the name of the first recorded owner of property in this
place; Orgar (St. Martin’s Orgar), Billing, Gresham, Guthrum, _i.e._
Gutter Lane, Philpot, and others, preserve the names of old families.


Thirdly, many trades are localised by the names of streets or places.
Thus there are Milk Street, Ironmonger Lane, Wood Street, Honey
Lane, Bread Street, Old Fish Street, Garlick Hithe, Silver Street,
Paternoster Row, Budge Row.

The great houses, which formerly stood along the river between
Blackfriars and Westminster, have given their names to the streets
running north and south of the Strand.

Some of the streets preserve the memory of churches long since
destroyed and not rebuilt, or of Monastic Houses, such as Pancras
Lane, Size Lane (where was the church of St. Osyth), Great St. Thomas
Apostle, Trinity Lane, Botolph Lane (where stood the fourth church
of St. Botolph at the River Gate of the City), Austin Friars, Black
Friars, Crutched Friars, Minories, St. Helen’s, St. Martin le Grand,
St. Mary Axe, Mincing Lane, College Street, Rood Lane, Laurence

The names of the Gates are preserved in the streets which run through
them: Aldgate, Aldersgate, Bishopsgate, Dowgate, Ludgate, Moorgate,
Newgate. Other names indicate ancient sites which would otherwise have
been forgotten: London Wall, Fore Street, Galley Wharf, Fleet, Thames,
Walbrook, Lombard Street, Old Bailey, Playhouse Yard, Jewry.

A great many of the names are the ancient Saxon names still unchanged,
while others remain in altered forms. Thus we have the names of
Watling, Portsoken, Cripplegate, Hithe, in Queenhithe and Garlickhithe,
Coleman Street, Chepe, Size Lane, Aldermanbury, Addle Street, Lambeth

The old Bars or Boundaries of the City jurisdiction are now all gone
and, with the exception of Temple Bar, are clean forgotten. Queen
Hithe preserves the memory of Queen Eleanor its owner. The site of
Paul’s Cross is carefully laid down; Bucklersbury stands on the site of
the family estate of the Bukerels. Outside the City wall in the vast
wilderness of streets there are a few, as at Westminster, Southwark,
Whitechapel, Clerkenwell, and the part which has contained the town
houses of families of position for two hundred years, where there are
histories and persons commemorated in the names of streets, but, as a
general rule, the names have neither any significance worthy of note,
nor any historical character, and there is not any reason at all why
they should be painted up at the corners of the streets.



The Kings of England had many palaces, both within and without the
City. Their principal palace from King Cnut to King Henry VIII. was
the “King’s House” of Westminster. Within the City itself was first
and foremost the Citadel, Castle, Palace, and Prison, called the Tower
of London. Baynard’s Castle was held successively by the Baynards,
who lost it in 1111, by a son of Gilbert, Earl of Clare, and his
heirs until 1213, when the then holder, Robert FitzWalter, being on
the side of the Barons, the King seized and destroyed the place.
Afterwards, however, he permitted the owner to restore it. This was
done imperfectly, for when the Dominicans removed from their quarters
in Holborn to the place now called Blackfriars, they built their church
and part of their house with the stones of Baynard’s Castle and the
Tower of Montfichet.

In 1428 Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, built a house by the riverside to
the east of the old castle, and apparently named it after the former
Baynard’s Castle, just as at the present day we call a modern structure
in Regent’s Park by the old and venerable name of St. Katherine’s by
the Tower.

A smaller Tower stood beside the first Baynard’s Castle, also on or
without the wall, called Montfichet. Both places were intended by the
Normans as strongholds, from which the City could be kept down, if
necessary. On the building of the Dominican House, the Mayor of London,
Gregory Rokesley, gave permission for the use of some of the stones by
the Friars. The best of them had already been taken for the repair of
St. Paul’s.

A third Tower was built at the confluence of the Fleet and the Thames,
by order of the King, upon the portion of wall south of Ludgate Hill.
This tower is described by Stow as having been “large and magnificent
and such as was fit for the reception of a king; and where Edward I.
intended some time at his pleasure to lye.” He granted to the citizens
a three years’ toll on goods brought into the City for sale, in order
that they might build the wall so as to enclose the Dominicans’ house,
and put up this tower at the angle. It stood until 1502, when John
Shaw, Mayor, commanded it to be taken down.

On the west bank of the Fleet, opposite to this Tower, was another,
afterwards called Bridewell. Stow’s account of its early history has an
air of uncertainty:—

“I read, that in the year 1087, the 20th of William the First, the City
of London, with the Church of S. Paul being burned, Mauritius then
Bishop of London, afterwards began the Foundation of a New Church,
whereunto King William (saith mine Author) gave the choice Stones of
this Castle, standing near to the Bank of the River of Thames, at the
West End of the City. After this Mauritius, Richard his Successor
purchased the Streets above Paul’s Church, compassing the same with a
Wall of Stone, and Gates. King Henry the First gave to this Richard,
so much of the Moat or Wall of the Castle, on the Thames side to the
South, as should be needful to make the said Wall of the Churchyard,
and so much more as should suffice to make a way without the Wall on
the North side, etc.


From MS. in British Museum. Reg. 14 C. 7.]

This Tower or Castle being thus destroyed, stood, as it may seem,
in Place where now standeth the House called Bridewell. For
notwithstanding the Destruction of the said Castle or Tower the House
remained large, so that the Kings of this Realm long after were lodged
there, and kept their Courts. For in the Ninth Year of Henry the
Third, the Courts of Law and Justice were kept in the King’s House,
wheresoever he was Lodged, and not elsewhere.

More (as Matthew Paris hath) about the Year 1210, King John, in the
Twelfth Year of his Reign, summoned a Parliament at S. Brides in
London; where he exacted of the Clergy, and Religious Persons, the sum
of One Hundred Thousand Pounds: And besides all this, the White Monks
were compelled to cancel their Privileges, and to pay 40,000_l._ to
the King, etc. This House of S. Brides (of later Time) being left, and
not used by the Kings, fell to Ruin; insomuch that the very Platform
thereof remained (for great part) waste, and, as it were, but a
Lay-stall of Filth and Rubbish, only a fair Well remained there. A
great part whereof, namely on the West, as hath been said, was given to
the Bishop of Salisbury; the other Part toward the East remained waste,
until King Henry the Eighth builded a stately and beautiful House
thereupon, giving it to Name Bridewell, of the Parish and Well there.
This House he purposely builded for the Entertainment of the Emperor
Charles the Fifth; who in the Year 1522 came into this City, as I have
showed in my _Summary_, _Annals_, and large _Chronicles_.” (Stow, vol.
i. p. 63.)

The Tower Royal, whose name is still preserved in the City, was one
of the King’s houses; Stephen is said to have lodged there; the
Princess of Wales, mother of Richard II., fled here during Wat Tyler’s
rebellion. The King’s Wardrobe, a name also surviving, was a house of
the King. And in Bucklersbury there was another house, Serne’s Tower,
also called the King’s House. On the south side of London, besides
Greenwich and Eltham, was the Palace of Kennington.

As for the site of the last-named palace, if you walk along the
Kennington Road from Bridge Street, Westminster, you presently come
to a place where four roads meet, Upper Kennington Lane on the left,
and Lower Kennington Lane on the right; the road goes on to the Horns
Tavern and Kennington Park. On the right-hand side stood the palace. In
the year 1636 a plan of the house and grounds was executed; but by that
time the mediæval character of the place was quite forgotten. It was a
square house, probably Elizabethan.

Of this last once magnificent palace not a stone remains and not a
memory or tradition; it is entirely forgotten. The reason of this
strange oblivion is very simple. When it was pulled down, which was
some time before 1667, for then, Camden says, there was not a stone
remaining, there were no houses within half a mile in every direction.
Even a hundred and fifty years later there were no cottages or houses
near the spot. The moat, however, remained, and a long stone barn.

In this house Harold Harefoot crowned himself. In this house his
half-brother Hardacnut drank himself to death.

Forty years after this event, when Domesday Book was compiled, the
place was in the possession of a London citizen, Theodric by name and a
goldsmith by trade. It was still a royal manor, because the goldsmith
held it of Edward the Confessor. It was then valued at three pounds a

We next hear of Kennington in 1189, when King Richard granted it on
lease, or for life, to Sir Robert Percy with the title of Lord of the
Manor. Henry III. came here on several occasions; here he held his
Lambeth Parliament. He kept his Christmas here in 1231. Great was the
feasting and boundless the hospitality of this Christmas, at which the
King lavished the treasures of the State.


From Froissart’s _Chronicles_.]

Edward I. was here occasionally. During his reign it was the residence
of John, Earl of Surrey, and of his son, John Plantagenet, Earl of
Warren and Surrey. Edward III. made the manor part of the Duchy of
Cornwall. After the death of the Black Prince the princess lived here
with the young Prince Richard. I do not find that Henry IV. was fond of
a house which would certainly be haunted—especially the room in which
he was to sleep—by the sorrowful shade of his murdered cousin. Nor did
Henry V. come here during his short reign. Henry VI. however, made use
of Kennington Palace, so did Henry VII.; and the last of the Queens,
whose name can be connected with the palace, was Catherine of Arragon.

The name that we especially associate with Kennington Palace is that
of Richard II. When the Black Prince died, in 1376, Richard remained
at Kennington under the care of his mother and the tutorship of Sir
Guiscard d’Angle, “that accomplished knight.”

In the year of his accession, 1377, occurred the great riot of London,
which arose out of Wyclyf’s trial in St. Paul’s and the quarrel between
the Bishop of London and John of Gaunt. The latter, after the dismissal
of Wyclyf, repaired to the house of John de Ypres, close beside the
river, where he was sitting at dinner, when one of his following ran
hastily to warn him that the people were flocking together with intent
to murder him if they could. The Duke therefore hastily ran down to
the nearest stairs, took a boat across the river, and fled as quickly
as possible to Kennington Palace, where he took shelter with the young
Prince Richard and his guardians.

One more reminiscence of Kennington Palace. The last occasion on which
Richard lodged there was when he brought home his little bride Isabel,
the Queen of eight years. They brought her from Dover, resting on the
way at Canterbury and Rochester. At Blackheath they were met by the
Mayor and Aldermen, attired with great magnificence of costume to do
honour to the bride. After reverences due, they fell into their place
and rode on with the procession. When they arrived at Newington, the
King thanked the Mayor and permitted him to leave the procession and
return home. He himself, with his company, rode by the cross-country
lane from Newington to Kennington Palace. I observe that this proves
the existence of a path or lane where is now Upper Kennington Lane. At
this palace the little Queen rested a night, and next day was carried
in another procession to the Tower. The knights rode before, and the
French ladies came after. It is pretty to read how Isabel, with her
long fair hair falling over her shoulders, and her sweet childish face,
sat up and smiled upon the people, playing and pretending to be queen,
which she had been practising ever since her betrothal. Needless to
say that all hearts were ravished. The good people of London were ever
ready to welcome one princess after another, and to lose their hearts
to them, whether it was Isabel of France, or Katherine her sister,
or Anne Boleyn, or Queen Charlotte, or the fair Princess of Denmark.
So great a press was there that many were actually squeezed to death
at London Bridge, where the houses only left twelve feet in breadth.
Isabel’s queenship proved a pretence; before she was old enough to be
Queen, indeed, her husband was in confinement; before she understood
that he was a captive, he was murdered, and the splendid extravagant
reign was over.

London was, in very truth, a city of Palaces. There were, in London
itself, more palaces than in Venice and Florence and Verona and Genoa
all together.

The Fitz Alans, Earls of Arundel, had their town house in Botolph
Lane, Billingsgate, down to the end of the sixteenth century. The
street is, and always has been, narrow, and, from its proximity to
the fish-market, is, and always has been, unsavoury. The Earls of
Northumberland had town houses successively in Crutched Friars,
Fenchurch Street, and Aldersgate Street. The Earls of Worcester lived
in Worcester Lane, on the river-bank; the Duke of Buckingham on College
Hill—observe how the nobles, like the merchants, built their houses
in the most busy part of the town. The Beaumonts and the Huntingdons
lived beside Paul’s Wharf; the Lords of Berkeley had a house near
Blackfriars; Doctors’ Commons was the town house of the Blounts, Lords
Mountjoy. Close to Paul’s Wharf stood the mansion once occupied by the
widow of Richard, Duke of York, mother of Edward IV., Clarence, and
Richard III. Edward the Black Prince lived on Fish Street Hill, and the
house was afterwards turned into an inn. The De la Poles had a house in
Lombard Street. The De Veres, Earls of Oxford, lived first in St. Mary
Axe, and afterwards in Oxford Court, St. Swithin’s Lane; Cromwell, Earl
of Essex, had a house in Throgmorton Street. The Barons FitzWalter had
a house where now stands Grocers’ Hall, Poultry. In Aldersgate Street
were houses of the Earl of Westmoreland, the Earl of Northumberland,
and the Earl of Thanet, Lord Percy, and the Marquis of Dorchester.
Suffolk Lane marks the site of the “Manor of the Rose,” belonging
successively to the Suffolks and the Buckinghams; Lovell’s Court,
Paternoster Row, marks the site of the Lovells’ mansion; between Amen
Corner and Ludgate Street stood Abergavenny House, where lived in the
reign of Edward II. the Earl of Richmond and Duke of Brittany, grandson
of Henry III. Afterwards it became the house of John Hastings, Earl of
Pembroke, who married Lady Margaret, daughter of Edward III. It passed
to the Nevilles, Earls of Abergavenny, and from them to the Stationers’
Company. Warwick Lane runs over Warwick House. The Sidneys, Earls of
Leicester, lived in the Old Bailey. The Staffords, Dukes of Buckingham,
lived in Milk Street. (See Appendix V.)

We must add to this list the houses more or less connected with the
sovereigns. Such as the King’s Ward Mote, the Tower Royal, the Erber,
Cold Harbour, Baynard’s Castle, Crosby House, Bridewell, the Savoy,
the great nobles’ houses along the riverside, which came later; the
Halls of the City Companies; the town houses of Bishops and Abbots,
especially those on the south side; the town houses of the country
gentry, such as those of Pont de l’Arche in the reign of Henry I., or
of Sir John Fastolf in the fifteenth century; the houses in the City
used for trade and official business such as Blackwell and Guildhall;
and the houses of the great City merchants such as those of Philpot,
Whittington, and Picard, and we have a list not to be equalled by that
of any other area of the same size.

Of the architecture of London churches before the Fire we need
not speak—one or two, especially St. Helen’s, St. Ethelburga, St.
Bartholomew the Great, and St. Mary Overies, survive to show us what
they were; that is to say, it is impossible in most cases to know
at what period a church, long since destroyed, was built, repaired,
or rebuilt. The general opinion is that these ancient churches were
not remarkable, as a rule, for beauty or splendour. Outside each lay
its churchyard, a narrow enclosure continually being encroached upon
as land grew dear. Before the Fire a great many of the churches were
hidden from the streets by the houses which had been built upon part
of the churchyards. The present condition of St. Ethelburga is an
example of this; other examples occur in the houses which stand on the
north side of St. Mary le Bow, on the north side of St. Alphege, and
all round St. Katherine Colman. The swallowing up of churchyards is
shown by the miserable fragments remaining of those belonging to St.
Peter, Thames Street, St. John the Baptist, St. Olave, Silver Street,
St. Osyth, St. Martin Outwich, while the restoration lately completed
of St. Martin, Ludgate Hill, proved that the so-called Stationers’
Garden on the north side of the church had once been the burial-ground.
And there are many other instances. The architecture of the Monastic
Houses belongs to all contemporary buildings of the kind. That which
may still be studied at Westminster consisted of a noble church, as
splendid, as stately, and as rich as the brothers could afford or
could effect by the help of their friends. Beside the church was the
cloister, which was the actual living-place of the brethren. There they
walked, sat, worked, and talked. Within the cloister was the garth,
the open space which was sometimes turned into a garden, and sometimes
served as a burying-ground; monks were also buried beneath the stones
of the cloister. The open carved work in later times was glazed; the
hard stones—seats and floor—were covered with cloth and carpet; there
were desks for those who studied. On one side of the cloister was the
Chapter House, where the monks assembled every morning. On the other
side was the Abbot’s House. On the fourth side was the Refectory, a
hall which the Brethren loved to make stately, like the church; not
for purposes of gluttony, but of hospitality, and because they were
jealous of the fair fame of the House. Besides these buildings were the
library, the Scriptorum, the Calefactory, the Dormitories, the kitchen
and cellar, the Misericorde, the Infirmary, and the gardens. All these
things belong to every Monastic House. In London there was so great a
number of them, that we passed House after House as we walked along the
wall, and saw spire after spire, tower after tower; they circled London
as with a chain of fortresses to keep out the hosts of hell. We come
next to the great noble’s town house, and the rich merchant’s house. We
have already regarded the appearance of such a house. It was entered
by a gate of architectural beauty, without a portcullis or a ditch,
for there was no fortified house in the City except the Tower; though
many of the houses were so strongly built, and protected by gates so
massive, that any sudden outbreak of the mob could be kept back; thus
the house of the Hanseatic merchants possessed gates massive enough to
keep out the mob until relief arrived, or the foreign merchants could
make good their retreat upon the river. You may learn the appearance of
such a house from that of Hampton Court or any old College of Oxford
or Cambridge. It consisted of at least two square Courts and a Hall
between; a guard-room over the gate; a stable; a place for arms; a
kitchen with buttery, cellar, storehouses, and a garden. Round the
courts ran buildings two storeys high; the rooms were long and low and
only used as sleeping-rooms.


One will find the houses more unclean than the streets. What can one
expect? The floors are strewn thick with rushes, and it is costly
to change them; they lie, therefore, thick with accumulations of
refuse—bones, grease, and every abomination. Rushes are warm even after
they are dirty, and warmth comes before cleanliness. Yet if we were to
go into those houses where the better sort of citizens live, we should
find sweet herbs and fragrant branches and strong perfumes scattered
about to counteract the close and evil-smelling atmosphere of the

Let us consider the construction and the furniture of a London
citizen’s house. Not, that is, such a house as Crosby Hall, which was a
palace, or that of the Earl of Warwick, which was a barrack as well as
a Palace, but the house of the substantial merchant, one of the better
sort, say the house of a retail trader, and the house of a craftsman.

Among the treasures collected by Riley may be found the specifications
for building a new house. It is evidently a house meant for a man of
position, one William de Hanington, a pelterer, _i.e._ a skinner or
furrier: a member of a most wealthy and flourishing trade at a time
when men and women of every consideration wore furs for half the year.
Whatever the position of this pelterer, the house designed for him was
evidently, though the dimensions are not given, large and commodious.
Here are the exact words:—

 “Simon de Canterbury, carpenter, came before the Mayor, etc.... and
 acknowledged that he would make at his own proper charges down to the
 locks, for William de Hanigtone, pelterer, before the Feast of Easter
 then ensuing, a Hall and a room with a Chimney, and one larder between
 the same hall and room: and one sollar over the room and larder: also,
 an oriole at the end of the Hall beyond the high bench: and one step
 with an oriole, from the ground to the door of the Hall aforesaid,
 outside of the Hall: and two enclosures as cellars, opposite to each
 other, beneath the Hall: and one enclosure for a sewer, with two pipes
 leading to the said sewer and one stable between the said Hall and the
 old kitchen and twelve feet in width with a sollar above and stable,
 and a garret above the sollar aforesaid: and at one end of such sollar
 there is to be a kitchen, with a chimney: and there is to be an oriole
 between the said Hall and the old chamber 8 feet in width.”

According to Riley, the first oriole is an oriel window such as is
commonly found in a Hall, the second oriole is a porch, and the third
is a small chamber. Without this explanation the document would be

[Illustration: “THE LADIES’ BOWER”

From MS. in British Museum. Harl. 2278.]

The house was to contain a large hall with, no doubt, a fire under
the lantern in the middle of the hall; also a sitting-room with a
chimney near the hall, but with a larder between. In the larder was,
one supposes, the entrance to the cellars. The “old chamber” with the
“oriole” beside provided two bedrooms; the solar or upper chamber over
the larder and sitting-room was another bedroom; the solar and garret
over the stable gave two more bedrooms; there was the “old kitchen” and
there was the new kitchen. In all, five bedrooms, two sitting-rooms,
and two kitchens, with cellars and other things. The buttery or larder
always stood, for convenience, next to the hall. Sometimes it was
called a _Spence_, and the servant who attended to it was called the
Spenser or Despencer, which shows the origin of a very common surname
found everywhere, from the House of Lords to the village pothouse.
The room with a chimney next to the larder was sometimes called the
“berser” or the “ladies’ bower”: some houses had a “parlour” or room
where visitors of distinction might be received. Such was the house
of a substantial citizen. As for the house of the retailer, there are
many pictures which leave us in little doubt as to the appearance of
these houses. Thus, as good an illustration as I know of the mediæval
street with its shops is given by Lacroix (see _Science and Literature
in the Middle Ages_, p. 161). The street is quite narrow: there is no
gutter running down the middle, but perhaps this was an oversight of
the limner. The pictures represent four shops, viz., that of a barber,
an apothecary, a tailor, and a furrier. The houses are detached,
not standing side by side in a line, but each according to the will
of the builder: they are built of wood and plaster, and are gabled,
with tiled roofs. There is a room—the solar or sollar—above the shop
and a garret in the roof. The barber’s shop has a sign: it is a pole
projecting into the street horizontally, hung with brass or latoun
basins, which indicate an important part of the barber’s calling. The
shops are all open to the street, and the goods are displayed upon a
counter. (See Appendix VI.) A pent-house, or pentice, projecting from
the front of the house, protects the goods on the counter; hangings on
either side shelter them further from wind and rain and sun; and there
is a curtain suspended from the pentice for still further protection.
This illustration represents a French town. In London it was necessary
to ensure a greater amount of protection against cold, and rain, and
hail, and snow. Consequently the upper half of the window was covered
in and glazed, while the lower half in very cold weather was closed by
means of a shutter. In summer the shutter disappears, and the window is
always open. This arrangement was probably what Chaucer calls a “shot”
window. Mr. Baring-Gould (_Old Country Life_) gives plans and drawings
of two ancient country houses. The first of these shows the houses
built round a small court, into which all the windows of the house
looked. A gateway, over which was a room, led into the hall, a room of
20 feet by 15 feet. Beyond the hall was the ladies’ bower. Above the
bower were bedrooms. The kitchen, buttery, and dairy took up two other
sides of the court. In front of the house were the yard, the barn,
and the stables. The court was no more than 18 feet square. We have,
therefore, the court as the leading feature of a mediæval house; it
survives in colleges and in some almshouses to this day. The dimensions
of the court marked the splendour or the humility of the house. The
rich merchant when he began to build laid down his court with a view
to the proportions of his hall; we may be quite sure that Whittington
sat in a hall which proclaimed his wealth; the great hall of Crosby
House was not the only noble hall belonging to a City merchant.


The following details and specifications are found in the MSS.
belonging to the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul’s, and printed in an
abridged form in the _9th Report of the Royal Historical Commission_,
p. 20:—

“Agreement between Master Walter Cook and Sir Henry Jolypas, clerks,
and John More, tymbermongere, and John Gerard, carpenter, citizens of
London, for the erection of three shops in Friday Street, with one
cellar below. The three shops are to have three ‘stalles’ and three
‘entreclos’ on the ground floor. On the first floor each house is to
have ‘une sale, une spence, et une cusyne,’ and in each ‘sale’ there
are to be ‘benches et speres.’ The second floor in each house is to
be divided into ‘une principal chambre, une drawying chamber, et une
forein,’ and was to have ‘une seylingpece.’ Each house is to have
two ‘esteires.’ The height from the ground to the ‘gistes del primer
flore’ is to be ten feet and a half, and the ‘punchons’ of the first
floor are to be nine feet up to the ‘gistes’ above, and the ‘punchons’
of the second floor eight feet up the ‘resoner.’ Each house is to
have a gable towards the street on the east, according to a ‘patron’
made on parchment. The ‘huisses’ and ‘fenestres’ are to be made of
‘Estricchebord.’ Dated, August 20, 11 Henry IV.”

It is generally stated that access to the upper chamber of a mediæval
house was by stairs on the outside. I venture to think that this
statement requires explanation. The houses of London at first consisted
of nothing more than a room below and a smaller room above, and in the
upper room—oh! so tiny—were a bed and a cradle, and the cushions or
pillows of which the Londoner was so fond. I have seen one or two old
houses in which a ladder from the room below served for access to the
room above, and this arrangement, I believe, was that commonly adopted.
But early in the fourteenth century we find houses of two or three
storeys, each of which in some cases formed the freehold of different
persons; in fact, it was an early kind of “flat.” It is observed that
communication to these upper storeys could not be made through the
lower rooms and must have been by an external staircase. (See also
below, p. 252.) We find this arrangement in the modern flat; and in
Edinburgh in the old flats. There were quarrels among the occupants of
these “flats.” King Edward II. passed an ordinance directing each owner
to keep his own part in due repair.

Riley quotes a case in which a widow claimed Free Bench in a tenement
belonging to her late husband in the parish of St. Nicholas Flesh
Shambles. The sheriffs gave her a wing (alam) or perhaps the principal
room (aulam) with a chamber, a cellar, and the right of easement in the
kitchen, stable, common drain, and courtyard; the rest of the house
remained in possession of the heirs and next-of-kin of the deceased.

The chief source of information on the houses of the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries is Fitz-Aylwin’s Assize, of which an abridgment
will be found in Appendix VII. The regulations were drawn up in
consequence of a fire in 1212, which destroyed a part of Southwark and
a part of London Bridge. The following by Riley (Introduction to _Liber
Albus_, p. xxx) is an explanation or commentary chiefly on that Assize:—

 “The party-walls of the houses were of freestone, three feet thick and
 sixteen feet high, from which the roof (whether covered with tiles or
 thatch) ran up to a point, with the gable towards the street. Along
 this wall rain-gutters were laid, to carry off the water, either on to
 the ground of the party to whom the house belonged or into the high
 road. Kennels for its reception are not mentioned in the Assize, but
 they were very general, about 100 years later. If arches were left
 in the walls, for ‘almeria’ or ‘aumbries’ (cupboards or larders),
 they were to be one foot in depth, and no more. The framework rising
 from the top of the party-wall was of course of wood, and the gable
 facing the street, as well as the one opposite to it, seems to have
 been in general made of the same material, plastered over probably by
 the ‘daubers,’ and perhaps whitewashed. The upper room was generally
 known as the ‘solar,’ and is also called in Fitz-Alwyne’s Assize
 the ‘domus,’ or ‘house’: its usual height in comparison with the
 room below does not appear from the present work; but from a deed
 bearing date 1217 or 1218, it appears that the corbels or joists for
 supporting the upper floor were inserted at a height of eight feet
 from the ground. Apart from the main room or rooms on the ground
 floor in the houses of the citizens was the ‘necessary chamber’; in
 reference to which it was enacted by the Assize, that if the pit was
 walled with stone, the mouth of it was to be two and a half feet from
 the neighbour’s land; but in case it was not faced with stone, the
 distance was to be three and a half feet. The same regulation too held
 good, at a somewhat later period, in reference to sinks for receiving
 refuse or dirty water.

 At the time of the promulgation of Fitz-Alwyne’s Assize, it is evident
 that the houses in London consisted of but one storey over the ground
 floor and no more. At what period more storeys were first added
 does not appear; but in the early part of the fourteenth century we
 find houses in London of two or three storeys mentioned; each of
 which storeys, as also the cellar beneath, occasionally formed the
 freehold of different individuals: a state of things which caused such
 multiplied disputes between the owners, that the King (Edward the
 Second) was at length obliged to interfere by mandate, directing each
 owner to keep his own part in due repair. The upper storeys in houses
 of this description were entered probably by stairs on the outside.

 Cellars are not mentioned in the Assize, but we find them noticed,
 and that too as places used for business, as early as the first half
 of the reign of Henry the Third. It is incidentally mentioned, also,
 that steps led to these cellars from the street; indeed, they seem
 to have seriously encroached upon the footway at times, for at later
 periods they are the subject of frequent enactment. By Fitz-Alwyne’s
 Assize, contrary to the spirit of equity that has prevailed in more
 recent times, a person when building had full liberty to obstruct a
 neighbour’s ancient lights, unless, indeed, some writing could be
 produced by that neighbour showing a right on his side to the contrary.

[Illustration: BUILDERS AT WORK

From MS. in British Museum. Harl. 2278.]

 The Assize, as already noticed, makes no provision for the materials
 to be used for roofing; within a century and a half later, however,
 we find reiterated enactments that the houses of the citizens shall
 be covered with lead, tiles, or stone. Stalls, too, are not mentioned
 in the Assize; but these had become common in the latter part of the
 following century. These stalls were projections—of wooden framework,
 no doubt—from the gable facing the street, and were used as shops for
 the exposure of various articles for sale. By civic enactment we find
 it ordered that these stalls shall not be more than two and a half
 feet in depth, movable and flexible, according to the discretion of
 the Alderman of the Ward, and according as the streets or lanes are
 wide or narrow. The pentices, or pent-houses, which are so frequently
 mentioned in the City ordinances, must have been projections on a
 larger scale, as the citizens are reminded that they are to be made at
 least nine feet in height, ‘so as to allow of people riding beneath’;
 a provision, from which it is evident that they must have extended
 beyond the portion of the street reserved as a footpath. In favour of
 the landlords, it was also enacted that penthouses, once fastened by
 iron nails or wooden pegs to the timber framework of the house—be the
 occupier a tenant for life, for years, or quarterly,—should be deemed
 not removable, but fixtures, part and parcel of the freehold.

 Windows are mentioned in the Assize. Glass, however, was used only
 by the most opulent in those days, and the windows of the citizens,
 _temp._ Richard the First, were evidently mere apertures, open in the
 day, crossed perhaps with iron stanchions, and covered, no doubt, by
 wooden shutters at night. In the reign of Henry the Third, however,
 glass, packed in the _Karke_, is enumerated among the regular imports
 into this country, from Flanders, most probably. Glaziers (_Verrers_)
 are mentioned as an established Mystery, in the time of Edward the
 Third, and in the account given of a riot which took place, about
 forty years later, at Barking, in Essex, and the vicinity, the
 offenders are represented, even in those suburban districts, as
 arming themselves with doors and windows, ‘by way of shield’; glass
 windows of lattice-work, in all probability, being meant.

 There is no mention of, or most remote allusion to, chimneys in
 Fitz-Alwyne’s Assize; and at that period, if they existed at all in
 this country, they were to be found only in the abodes of the most
 wealthy; the smoke in the houses of the middle and lower classes
 having to find its way out at the doors and windows as it best might.
 By the close, however, of the following century, the use of chimneys
 had become, probably, comparatively common; for, by way of prevention
 against fire, we find it enacted that chimneys shall be faced with
 plaster, tiles, or stone; and part of the oath taken by the Scavagers
 of the City on entering office is to the effect that they will see
 ‘that all chimneys, ovens, and rere-dosses, are made of stone, and
 sufficiently protected against the peril of fire.’ In the same prudent
 spirit too it was enacted that no reredos of an oven or furnace, where
 bread or ale was made, or meat was cooked, should be placed near
 wooden partition, lath-work, or boards; and, in case of contravention
 thereof, the Scavager was to remove the same, exacting four pence from
 the offender for his trouble.

 By way of further precaution against fire it was also ordered, that
 occupiers of large houses should keep one or two ladders for the
 succour of their neighbours on an emergency; and that they should
 keep, in summer, _i.e._ between the Feasts of Whitsuntide and of Saint
 Bartholomew, in consequence of the excessive drought, a barrel or
 large earthen vessel full of water before the house, for the purpose
 of quenching fire; unless, indeed, the house should happen to have
 ‘a fountain’ of its own. For the more speedy removal also of burning
 houses, each Ward was enjoined to provide a strong iron hook, with a
 wooden handle, two chains, and two strong cords; these to be left in
 possession of the Bedel of the Ward, who was also to be provided with
 a good horn, ‘loudly sounding.’ Nothing could more strongly bespeak
 the frail nature of the London houses, even to the days of Edward the
 Third, than the above enactments as to the barrel of water and the
 Bedel’s hook.

 The mention of conflagrations naturally leads to some enquiry about
 fuel. Charcoal (_carbones_) is frequently mentioned: it was prepared
 in the country, and the suburbs, perhaps, as well, for it is spoken
 of as being brought into the City by cart; by enactment, _temp._
 Richard the Second, it is ordered that charcoal shall be sold at
 the rate, between Michaelmas and Easter, of ten pence, and between
 Easter and Michaelmas, of eight pence per quarter, the price of
 it, as also of firewood, being assessed by the Mayor and Aldermen.
 Seacoal (_carbo marinus_) too was in common use so early as the time
 of Edward the Second, and perhaps much earlier, being sold in sacks,
 and measured by the quarter under the inspection of Meters appointed
 by the Mayor. Seacoal Lane, in the vicinity of the Fleet River, or
 Ditch, is mentioned under that name, we learn from other authorities,
 so early as 1253, the reign of Henry the Third; it had its name from
 the seacoal being brought thither by water, and there stored. The
 different kinds of wood used for fuel seem to have been distinguished
 under the names of ‘_talwode_,’ ‘_faget_,’ and ‘_busche_,’ tallwood,
 faggots, and (probably) brushwood. Carts with wood and charcoal on
 sale stood at Smithfield and on Cornhill, and seacoal is mentioned as
 paying custom at Billingsgate. Ferns, too, reeds, and stubble were
 sometimes used as fuel.

 To revert, however, to the structure of houses. Bricks, as
 distinguished from tiles, are not mentioned throughout the book,
 or indeed in any other English work of so early a date; and there
 is strong reason to believe that the ‘_teule_’ or ‘tile’ was used
 indifferently for tile or brick. At all events, there can be no doubt
 that, like those of Roman times, the bricks then in use were much
 thinner than at the present day; and supposing the tiles to be flat,
 there would be nothing to distinguish them from bricks. Repeated
 injunctions by the civic authorities are to be met with, that the
 _teules_ shall be ‘well burnt, of the ancient scantling, and well
 leaded;’ the latter provision, however, it is apprehended, could only
 apply to such _teules_ as were used for genuine tiles. The ‘Tilers’
 so often mentioned, in all probability performed the duties of the
 modern bricklayers as well. Lime was sold, sometimes by the sack,
 containing one bushel, and sometimes by the basket, holding half a
 quarter. _Temp._ Edward the Third, a sack of burnt lime cost one
 penny, and tiles were sold at the rate of from five to eight shillings
 the thousand.”

       *       *       *       *       *

 “Tenements are mentioned, about the time probably of Edward the
 Second, as renting in the City above the sum of forty shillings, and
 below. The fact has been already noticed that in some cases houses of
 two and three storeys were divided into distinct separate freeholds.
 In one instance a case is met with, perhaps a not uncommon one, of a
 widow claiming her Free-bench in a tenement that had belonged to her
 late husband (in the parish of St. Nicholas Flesh-Shambles), and the
 Sheriffs putting her in possession of a wing of the building, the
 principal chamber and the cellar beneath that chamber, with a right of
 easement in the kitchen, stable, common drain and courtyard; the rest
 remaining in possession of the heirs and next of kin of the deceased;
 an arrangement certainly by no means conducive to a state of domestic
 tranquillity, but bespeaking the existence of considerable mansions,
 and that too in that most uninviting locality—the near neighbourhood
 of ‘Stynkyng Lane’ and the Convent of the Friars Minors.

 It sometimes happened that a house was situate in two Wards; in such
 case it was provided that the owner should be assessed in the Ward in
 which he went to bed, slept, and put on his clothes. Of course such an
 enactment as this could only apply to a house with more than one room,
 on the floor where the sleeping-room was situate, and probably of more
 than ordinary magnitude.

 The ‘_shopae_,’ or shops, were probably mere open rooms on the ground
 floors, with wide windows, closed with shutters, but destitute of
 stanchions, perhaps; these rooms being enlarged, no doubt, in some
 instances, by the extra space afforded by the projecting and movable
 stalls already mentioned: of their plan or structure, in the present
 volume, no further particulars are given. ‘_Seldæ_,’ _selds_, or
 _shealds_, are occasionally mentioned as places for the stowage or
 sale of goods; the _selda_ of Winchester, for example, belonging
 probably to the Soke or exclusive jurisdiction of the Bishop of that
 diocese; and the _selda_ in Friday Street, to which place, in the
 latter part of the reign of Edward the Third, the sale of hides was
 wholly restricted. These _seldæ_ seem to have been sheds, on a large
 scale, used as warehouses, and belonged probably only to public
 Guilds, or men of considerable opulence; there is some evidence also
 that cranes and balances for the ascertaining of Customs and Pesage
 were kept beneath them.

 Before quitting this subject, a few words in reference to the
 relation of landlord and tenant within the City, will, perhaps, be
 not altogether inappropriate. By an ordinance, of the time probably
 of Edward the Second, or Edward the Third, it was enacted that every
 tenant at will within the franchise of the City, whose yearly rent was
 below forty shillings, should give the landlord (at any time, it is
 presumed) at least one quarter’s notice; but in case the yearly rent
 exceeded forty shillings, the notice was to be given a full half-year
 before leaving. In case of neglect on part of the tenant to give the
 proper notice, he was to pay the landlord a quarter or half-year’s
 rent, beyond the rent due at the time of leaving, as the case might
 be; or else to find a sufficient tenant for those periods. Conversely,
 the landlord was bound to give similar notice to his tenant; but in
 case the landlord sold the house, the tenant having no ‘specialty by
 deed,’ the purchaser was at liberty to eject him at his pleasure. On
 seizure of the tenant’s goods and chattels, at the suit of any other
 person, the landlord was deemed a preference creditor for two years’
 rent in arrear, but no more; the landlord’s oath being taken for proof
 that so much rent was due.” (See Appendices VI. and VII.)



The furniture of a mediæval house was scanty in the living-rooms, ample
in the sleeping-rooms. The hall, which was the dining-room, the public
room, and the room where all business matters were transacted, was
provided with permanent benches running along the sides: at one end
was a dais, on which, in great houses, was sometimes a table dormant,
_i.e._ a permanent table, placed across the hall. Other tables were on
trestles laid for each meal, and removed after the meal. At the middle
of the “dormant” or the high table was the principal chair or bench
with arms, and a cushion: the other guests sat on the bench with their
backs to the wall or without backs at all. The lower tables were always
boards laid upon trestles: in the middle of the hall was the fire,
sometimes in an iron frame: the smoke ascended and went out through
the lantern in the roof. Pieces of tapestry, worked to represent coats
of arms, or figures of birds and beasts, or painted with pictures of
some historical event, hung round the hall: arms and armour were hung
more for use and to be in readiness than for show—in fact, the great
hall was the armoury of the house. Rushes were thickly strewn over the
floor; over the head of the master was a cupboard loaded with gold
and silver plate; bankers or dorsers, _e.g._ cushions, were used to
mitigate the hardness of the bench. The furniture of the “parlour”
was equally simple. It consisted of a worsted hanging, a cupboard, a
table on trestles, a chafing dish to heat the room, a candlestick for
four candles, andirons, tongs, a bench and a chair, coffers and strong
boxes, table covers, gilt and silver _broches_, it was provided with a
chimney. Candle and torch holders stood against the wall; a “perche”
or arrangement of hooks and pegs for hanging arms, cloaks, and other
things was set up in every room. The falcons and hawks were placed on
these perches. In the bedroom, where comfort was studied, the principal
article of furniture was, of course, the bed; and upon this useful
piece of furniture was lavished all the expense and adornment that the
possessor could afford. Sometimes a canopy stretched over the whole
bed: it was decorated with the family arms, or with religious emblems;
at the back of the bed were also painted the family arms; the heavy
curtains were not intended for ornament but for use, because in these
rooms, in which the windows were always ill-fitting, it was necessary
to draw the curtains in order to keep off draughts; and, besides, as
a nightdress seems to have been unusual and most people slept in the
costume of Eden, it was all the more necessary to guard against cold.
The bedstead was always made of wood, and was sometimes beautifully
carved and gilded; the bed itself was commonly a mattress of straw, on
which, in the better sort of house, the feather bed was laid. Chaucer

        “Of downe of pure dovis white
        I wol yeve him a fether bed,
    Rayed with gold and right well cled,
        In firm black satin d’outre mere,
        And many a pilowe and every bere
        Of cloth of Raines to slepe on soft.”

The furniture of the bed was much the same as at present; it
was provided with a great and a small pillow, also with pillow
covers—“pillow beres”: with sheets, blankets, and coverlet of
_Turtaine_—a common cloth like burel. Servants, however, slept on straw
with a rough mat below and a coarse coverlet above. Sometimes there
was a truckle bed under the great bed for the use of a maidservant
or a child. At the foot of the bed was the “hutch” or strong box
for the keeping of money, plate, and other valuables. There were
other coffers kept in the chambers of great houses for securities,
title-deeds, and documents of all kinds. We must remember that there
were no banks; every man kept his own property, money, valuables,
papers, everything—in his house and generally in his bedroom. There
were no insurance companies, so that the fickleness of Dame Fortune was
constantly illustrated in the most startling manner.

The illuminated MSS. of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries
represent the rooms of castles and palaces. They show the rich bed
with the embroidered coverlet, the cushioned chair, the fireplace and
chimney, the bench which was probably the box or hutch, the gold and
silver plate on a sideboard, the mats before the fire; in a word, a
very luxurious and well-furnished chamber. As for the furniture of the
hall, it is enumerated in a vocabulary of the fifteenth century quoted
by Wright (_Domestic Manners_). It contained “a board, a trestle, a
banker or dorser (cushion), a natte (tablecloth), a table dormant, a
basin, a laver, a hearth, a torch, a yule block, andiron, tongs, a
pair of bellows, wood for the fire, a long settle, a chair, a bench, a
stool, a cushion and a screen.” For the parlour the furniture should
consist of “a hanging of worsted, red and green, a cupboard of ash
boards, a table and a pair of trestles, a branch of latten with four
lights, a pair of andirons, a pair of tongs, a form to sit upon, and a
chair.” In rooms of the ruder class, where there were no hangings, the
wall was decorated with paintings.

As regards the furniture in houses of the middle class, Riley
(_Memorials of London_) furnishes an inventory of the furniture of a
house in which lived an unfortunate couple named Le Bever.

The house consisted of the lower room which was the shop, and a
“solar” or upper chamber, which was approached by a stair at the back
of the house: there was a back place or kitchen behind the shop. All
day long Hugh le Bever stood in his stall; his goods were all ranged on
a bench at the open window; above them was a pent-house to keep off the
rain; in very cold weather he could cover the upper part of the window
with a shutter; Alice, his wife, helped him in his serving when she was
not engaged in the household work. One morning the shop was not opened
as usual. Fearing that something was wrong, the neighbours sent for the
Alderman, who broke open the door and found Alice lying dead on the
floor and beside her, her husband Hugh. They took him to the Mayor; he
was taken to prison at Newgate; refused the law of England and would
not plead; so he was put back in prison to live on bread and water till
he died. And his goods were sold. They were as follows:—

 “One mattress, value 4s.; 6 blankets and one serge, 13s. 6d.; one
 green carpet, 2s.; one torn coverlet, with shields of cendale, 4s.;
 one coat, and one surcoat of worstede, 40d.; one robe of perset,
 furred, 20s.; one robe of medley, furred, one mark; one old fur,
 almost consumed by moths, 6d.; one robe of scarlet, furred, 16s.;
 one robe of perset, 7s.; one surcoat, with a hood of ray, 2s. 6d.;
 one coat, with a hood of perset, 18d.; one surcoat and one coat of
 ray, 6s. 1d.; one green hood of cendale with edging, 6d.; 7 linen
 sheets, 5s.; one table-cloth, 2s.; 3 table-cloths, 18d.; one camise
 and one savenape (apron), 4d.; one canvas, 8d.; 3 feather-beds, 8s.;
 5 cushions, 6d.; one haketone, 12d.; 3 brass pots, 12s.; one brass
 pot, 6s.; 2 pairs of brass pots, 2s. 6d.; one brass pot, broken, 2s.
 6d.; one candlestick of latone, and one plate, with one small brass
 plate, 2s.; 2 pieces of lead, 6d.; one grate, 3d.; 2 aundirons, 18d.;
 2 basins with one washing vessel, 5s.; one iron herce, 12d.; one
 tripod, 2d.; one iron headpiece, 12d.; one iron spit, 3d.; one frying
 pan, 1d.; one tonour (a funnel), 1d.; one small canvas bag, 1d.; 7
 savenapes, 5d.; one old linen sheet, 1d.; 2 pillows, 3d.; one cap,
 1d.; one counter, 4s.; 2 coffers, 8d.; 2 curtains, 8d.; a remnant of
 cloth, 1d.; 6 chests, 10s. 10d.; one folding table, 12d.; 2 chairs,
 8d.; one aumbrey, 6d.; 2 anceres (tubs), 2s.: Also firewood, sold for
 3s.; one mazer cup, 6s.; 6 casks of wine, 6 marks, the value of each
 cask being one mark. Total £12: 18: 4.

 The same John also received, of the goods of the said Hugh, from
 Richard de Pulham, one cup called ‘note,’ with a foot and cover of
 silver, value 30s.; 6 silver spoons, 6s. Also, of John de Whytsand,
 one surcoat, and one woman’s coat, value 8s., which were pledged
 to the said Hugh by Paul le Botiller, for one mark. Total 44s.”
 (_Memorials of London_, p. 199.)

Thus of what we call furniture there were two chairs and a folding
table only, a carpet, an aumbrey or an armoire, and certain coffers and
chests. Yet this couple had a plentiful supply of mattresses, feather
beds, pillows, sheets, and blankets; they had apparently a large
quantity of kitchen apparatus; they had fur clothes in abundance; they
had six casks of wine in the house; they had silver cups and silver
spoons. The list shows very clearly how a house of the middle sort was
furnished. One thing will be noted: as there were but two chairs it
is certain that the trader of London did not entertain his friends.
Society, with the craftsman, has at all times been conducted during
summer in the street, during winter in the tavern; the Church also
offered to the women even larger opportunities for social intercourse
than they could enjoy at the open door in the intervals of household

The platters and spoons were of wood—“treene.” When people grew richer
they used pewter plates; when they were richer still, silver. The table
linen and napkins were hempen first, and in better households, flaxen.
A ball of thread was called a “bottom of thread.” Hence the name of
Bottom the weaver.

In accounts and inventories of ecclesiastical, as well as domestic,
furniture, we are constantly meeting with material called _latoun_. On
this compound metal, Skeat has the following note: “The word _latten_
is still in use in Devon and the North of England for plate tin, but,
as Halliwell remarks, that is not the sense of _latoun_ in our older
writers. It was a kind of mixed metal, somewhat resembling brass both
in its nature and colour, but still more like pinchbeck. It was used
for helmets, lavers, spoons, sepulchral memorials, and other articles.
Todd remarks that the escutcheons on the tomb of the Black Prince are
of _laton_ over-gilt, in accordance with the Prince’s instructions.
He adds, ‘In our old Church Inventories a _cross of laton_ frequently
occurs.’” The description of the metal given in Batman upon
Bartholomew is as follows: “Laton is called _Auricalcum_, and hath
that name, for, though it be brasse or copper, yet it shineth as gold
without, as Isidore saith: for brass is _calco_ in Greek. Also laton
is hard as brasse or copper: for by medling of copper, of tinne, and
of auripigment (orpiment) and with other mettal, it is brought in the
fire to the colour of gold, as Isidore saith. Also it hath colour and
likenesse of gold, but not the value.”

In Mediæval inventories of furniture frequent mention is made of a
mazer. This, which was the common and favourite form of drinking cup,
was a bowl made of maple wood chiefly of the spotted variety called
bird’s eye. The part chosen for the hollowing of the cup was the bole
of the tree, or the part where several branches met. Great houses
and monasteries contained a great many mazers. Canterbury had 182
in the year 1328; Battle, in 1437, had 32; Durham, in 1446, had 49;
Westminster, in 1540, had 40.

The characteristics of the mazer were, that round the bowl ran a band
of silver or silver gilt, at the bottom of the bowl was the “Print,” a
medallion of silver or gold, with figures of saints or other devices
upon it; there was a “foot,” generally of silver; and there was a cover
of maple wood with a rim of silver or silver gilt. Not many examples of
the mazer survive considering the great number of them formerly in use.

The vocabulary of Alexander Neckham called _Liber de Utensilibus_
enumerates the various necessaries for the furniture of a kitchen.
From this vocabulary and that of John de Garlande, three hundred
years later, Thomas Wright has compiled a list of kitchen furniture
(_Domestic Manners_), which is as follows:—

“A brandreth, or iron tripod, for supporting the caldron over the fire:
a caldron, a dressing-board and dressing-knife, a bras-pot, a posnet, a
frying-pan, a grid-iron or, as it is sometimes called, a roasting-iron,
a spit, a gobard, a mier, a flesh-hook, a scummer, a ladle, a
pot-stick, a slice for turning meat in the frying-pan, a pot-hook, a
mortar and pestle, a pepper-quern, a platter, a saucer.”



The wealth of the great nobles and the cost of keeping up the
households which enriched the City when they were in residence is set
forth in some detail by Stow. Thus he says that Hugh Spencer the elder,
when he was banished from the realm, was found to possess 59 manors,
28,000 sheep, 1000 oxen and steers, 1200 kine with their calves, 40
mares with their colts, 100 drawing horses, 2000 hogs, 300 bullocks,
40 tuns of wine, 600 bacons, 80 carcases of Martimas beef, 600 muttons
in larder, 10 tuns of cider, £10,000 in ready money, armour, plate,
jewels, 36 sacks of wool, and a library of books.

In the reign of Henry VI., the Earl of Salisbury was lodged in the
Erber with 500 men on horseback; the Duke of York resided at Baynard’s
Castle with 400 men; the Dukes of Exeter and Somerset had 800 men; the
Earl of Northumberland with the Lord Egremont and Lord Clifford had
1500 men; Richard Nevill, Earl of Warwick, had 600 men, and so on.
We may take it that in every great house when it was occupied there
would be 500 knights and men, and their horses and their grooms, and
the cooks, bakers, brewers, valets, footmen, stable boys, blacksmiths,
armourers, makers and menders of all kinds, who made up a little
colony by themselves, among the London craftsmen who lived around
them. The victualling of these huge barracks was a source of very
great profit to the City. We remember that curious little episode when
Thomas of Woodstock quarrelled with Nicholas Brembre the Mayor, and
punished the citizens by withdrawing—he and his men and as many of his
friends as would go with him—out of the City. To lose at one blow the
maintenance of many thousand men was ruin. Imagine the consternation at
Fishmongers’ Hall, Bakers’ Hall, Butchers’ Hall, among the Vintners,
the Brewers, the Cooks, the Poulterers! This unexpected act threw into
confusion the whole machinery of supply! Nor was it only the loss of
the profit on food and drink, but on the things always wanted for the
service of such a host, on the making and the mending, the repairs and
the replacements! There was weeping and consternation even among the
Mercers, the Grocers, and the Goldsmiths. The whole trade of London
suffered. On this occasion a subscription was raised among the leading
merchants for the purpose of bribing the nobles to come back. It
is the only instance on record of a strike among consumers against
providers. Had it been long continued there would have been an end of
London trade. But when members of a body fall out among themselves,
they very quickly perceive the advantage of reconciliation before it
comes to starvation.


From Strutt’s _Manners and Customs_.]

The Knights and men in each all wore his livery and badge. Sometimes
the livery and badge meant nothing more than the chief’s coat of arms
in silver sewn on the sleeve of the left arm. Sometimes it meant also
jackets of the same colour, as in the case of Warwick’s men, who all
wore red jackets. Later, the badge was discontinued, and the followers
wore the same coloured coat or jacket, a custom which survives in the
cap and jacket of the jockey.

Every noble carried about with him his Treasury Chest; one of the
king’s chests is still preserved in the Chapel of the Pyx. The
expenditure was profuse, and, from a modern point of view, certainly
pauperising. In the Earl of Warwick’s town house, any one who had an
acquaintance in the house was allowed to enter freely, and to carry
away as much meat as he could stick on a dagger.


Richard Redman, Bishop of Ely (1500), gave food to the poor wherever
he went, and on his departure from a town gave every poor man sixpence
at least. Nicholas, Lord Bishop of Ely, gave every day bread and drink
and warm meat to 200 persons. The Earl of Derby fed 60 aged persons
twice a day, all comers thrice a week, and on Good Friday 2700. Robert
Winchesley, in the thirteenth century, fed thousands every day in
time of dearth. Henry in 1236 ordered 6000 poor persons to be fed at
Westminster on Circumcision Day; and so on, other instances being
recorded by the careful Stow.

There is a very simple explanation of this profuseness, which seems
to us so wasteful and so mischievous. There were no bank investments,
no companies, no stocks or shares; a nobleman’s estates brought him
in every year so much money; it belonged to his rank to maintain as
great a state as his means would allow; to accumulate money was not
considered either noble or princely; to accumulate manors—yes—and
to spend the rents as they came in every year with a lavish hand,
was considered the part of a courteous and noble lord. Henry III.,
Edward II., and Richard II. are instances where the association of
lavish expenditure with true princeliness was carried to a disease.
This, however, is a characteristic trait of the mediæval noble.
The bourgeois, the merchant, the trader, might save and spare and
accumulate. It was his _métier_. The noble must exhibit his wealth by a
splendid dress, a splendid following, a splendid table, and a splendid
generosity. No doubt had Hugh Spencer the elder been longer spared to
an admiring country he would have added many more manors to his long
list; but he would not have added much, if anything, to the ready money
in the long narrow chest which was carried between two horses as he
went with his riding from town to castle.


From MS. Lambeth, 265.]

Stories of the banquets and gifts of the great citizens show a command
of ready money which the most princely of the nobles never possessed,
though probably few of the citizens could compare, as far as wealth
went, with the first among the nobles.

The magnificence of the banquet at which Whittington made a gift to
the King, astonished both the King and his bride; probably there was
not, in all England and France together, another man who could have
provided such a banquet. Among the great nobles, with a vast territory
and many thousands of vassals, there was not certainly, outside the
City of London, any one who could command the rich and splendid things
which were ready to the hand of a great merchant. Even the fires were
fed with cedar and perfumed wood. When Katherine spoke of it, the
Mayor proposed to feed the flames with something still more costly and
valuable, and, in fact, he threw into the fire the King’s own bonds,
to the amount of £60,000. Among the bonds were some, to the amount of
10,000 marks, due to the Mercers’ Company; one of 1500 marks, due to
the Chamber of London; one of 2000 marks, belonging to the Grocers; and
all Whittington’s private loans and advances. It is probable that in
burning these bonds the Mayor acted by previous agreement of the City;
but if not—if he took on himself the loans due to the Companies—he made
a most splendid and princely gift. The sum of £60,000 advanced by one
man would, even in these days, be considered enormous; in those days
it can hardly be reckoned as less than a million and a quarter of our
present money.

Or again, we may take Whittington’s will. He gave a library, and a
house for it, to the Grey Friars; he founded a College of Priests and
an almshouse; he rebuilt his Parish Church; he rebuilt Newgate Prison,
because most of the prisoners there died “by reason of the fœtid and
corrupt atmosphere.”

And we may illustrate the wealth of London by the rich benefactions
made by the Mayors about the same time. Sevenoke, who founded the
grammar school in his native place of that name; Chichele, Mayor, and
his brother the Sheriff, who rebuilt, with their greater brother, the
Archbishop, the Church of their native place at Higham Ferrers and
endowed it with a school, an almshouse, and a College of Priests;
the Sheriff also left a large sum of money to feast every year 2400
householders of the City on his “mind” day. There was Sir John
Rainwell, who gave lands and houses to discharge the tax called the
Fifteenth for three parishes—with what gratitude should we regard the
memory of a man who would pay our rates for us! There was Wells, who
brought water from Tyburn, and Estfield, who made a conduit of water
from Highbury to Cripplegate.

And we may remember the ridings, the pageants, the processions in which
the City showed its wealth to Kings and Princes; the loans which it
granted to the King; and the taxes which it paid without a murmur,
until one King, at least, deemed its treasures inexhaustible. All these
things show that there was a vast amount of money and lavish generosity
in the mediæval City.



In this chapter I propose to put together a miscellaneous collection
bearing upon the manners and customs of mediæval London.

1. Letters from the Corporation.

It is not easy to arrange them in any kind of order. I begin, however,
with certain letters, which illustrate the City Government and show
that there was already some organised plan of communication between
London and the chief centres in the country, by which the Corporation
was kept informed as to matters concerning its interest in those cities
and especially with regard to runaways and rogues.

These letters, copies of those written 1330-1370 by order of the Mayor
and Corporation, have been recently published. They may be divided into

The first class, of which there are one or two, illustrates the manner
in which London, the parent of so many municipalities—twenty-seven
at least can be proved to be the children of London—was looked to
for guidance in difficult and doubtful procedure. Thus in 1357 the
Mayor of Oxford writes to know the manner of holding Pleas of Land
in the Hustings of London. The charter of Oxford expressly instructs
the burghers or citizens that in cases of dispute they should refer
to London. And the charters, not only of Oxford, but of Exeter,
Gloucester, etc., conferred on the burgesses the same privileges and
customs as those enjoyed by the citizens of London. This fact makes the
early charters of London far more valuable than if they stood alone. We
see London as the fountain of liberties, the exemplar, the free City,
to which all the lesser cities looked as an example and a model.

The next class is that of letters demanding the return of tolls and
taxes levied on merchants in contempt of the Charter.

Now, the most important of the early charters, after that short and
comprehensive document, the Charter of William, was that of Henry I.
(see vol. ii. pt. i. ch. ii.). In this there occurs the invaluable
concession which placed the London merchants above the reach of the
barons, that they were to be “quit and free, they and their goods,
throughout England and the ports of the sea of and from all toll and
passage and listage, and all other customs.... And if any shall take
toll or custom of any citizen of London, the citizens of London shall
take of the borough or town where toll and custom was so taken as much
as the man of London gave for toll, and as he received damage thereby.”

In other words, when the Lord of the Manor could enforce upon other
traders a tax for murage, pavage, pontage, stallage, and other tolls,
customs, and taxes, the London merchant alone could be called upon for
none of these charges, or, if any, then only those which belonged to
the general usages of trade. Many of these letters, then, are letters
demanding the return of tolls and taxes levied upon merchants in
contempt of the Charter. The first letter was invariably courteous,
asking “for love’s sake,” and calling upon the offender to act “in such
manner as they could wish their own folk to be treated in like case,
or weightier.” If the first letter produced no reply they sent another
called an _alias_, because it sometimes called upon them to remark that
they should answer the letter, _otherwise_.... If this failed they
sent a third called _pluries_, because several letters had now been
sent without reply, and the time was come for reprisals, which would
certainly be taken upon such of their own folk as might be living in


Another class of letters is concerned with piracies and outrages
committed at sea.

Thus in 1364 the Mayor and Aldermen demand of Baudwyn de la Heuse,
Admiral of France, compensation from the towns of Rouen, Harfleur,
Caen, and Bayeux, for an outrage in which certain Norman sailors called
“billecoks claybakes” had captured and pillaged a ship laden with
tin. Again, there was the case of Thomas de Ware, citizen of London,
who loaded a ship with wine, oil, pewter vessels, spurs, etc., to
the tune of £231: 0: 10 and sent it across to Bruges. While sailing
on “La Sheelde” the ship was attacked and pillaged by four Flemish
ships. Would the city of Bruges make compensation, or would they prefer

It is sometimes asserted that all the carrying trade for centuries was
in the hands of foreigners, and especially of the Hanseatic merchants.
This is not wholly true, for there were many ships belonging to the
London merchant, the Merchant Adventurer; it is undoubtedly true that
the Hanseatic Merchants at one time threatened to absorb the whole of
the carrying trade, but they never quite succeeded. There were the
English ships, a very large fleet which sailed every year to Bordeaux
and back, bringing with them some fifteen thousand tuns of wine.
They went forth together, and they came home together, for fear of
the pirates who swarmed in the Channel and in the North Sea. Now and
then the Hanseatics put forth their strength and drove the English
vessels off the seas, but they went back again. In 1348 a pirate named
Vitaliani seized Bruges, a city containing English as well as German
Merchants, and looted it. We remember how Mayor Sir John Philpot manned
a fleet, put himself on board, and destroyed the ships of Mercer the
Scottish pirate. In 1440 the Bastard Falconbridge received the thanks
of the City for his services against pirates. In consequence of the
losses sustained at the hands of the Breton pirates, Edward III.
granted to the towns of Dartmouth, Plymouth, and Fowey, the right to
carry on war with Brittany. The people of Brittany, says the poet,

    “Are the greatest rovers and the greatest thieves
    That have been on the sea many a year.”

The Mayor and Aldermen also collected debts. Debt-collecting forms
another class of letters. They wrote, for instance, to the Mayor and
Bailiffs of Gloucester informing them that one John de St. Alban,
pinner, owes Walter Wyredrawer, citizen of London, 41s. Will they get
the money and send it up to London?

A great many letters refer to runaway apprentices. It must not be
imagined that the condition of the prentice was always satisfactory,
or that his conduct was always good. Very often he ran away, sometimes
taking his master’s property with him; sometimes he complained that his
master would not teach him his craft; sometimes his master sent him to
prison for idleness or roguery; sometimes, when his articles were out,
his master refused to get him his freedom; he then petitioned the Lord
Mayor’s Court.

The letters always show that the City knew where the runaway prentice,
or where any other kind of rogue that they wanted, was to be found.
How were they traced? In country districts there was no resting-place
or hiding-place found for persons escaping with stolen property. They
could not sell it in the country; nor could they live on it; they were
obliged, therefore, to take refuge in towns; all the towns were small,
so the runaways could not hide or skulk in obscure corners, they had
to declare themselves, their names, their quality. That this was the
case is shown by these letters, many of which demand restitution for
a citizen unjustly detained and deprived of his wares on suspicion of
being a rogue.

Thus, Roger Bountayn, Citizen of London, was arrested at Chepstow as
a suspicious person. For some unknown reason, for he was clearly a
respectable citizen, he was unable to give an account of himself.
Perhaps he stammered. So he was clapped into prison, and they took
from him all he had; viz. 10s. 6d. in money, two chains and a ring of
silver, worth 5s., and a robe trimmed with white budge (rabbit fur)
worth 7s. 6d. I suppose that he communicated by means of some Lawyer
or Merchant with the Mayor, who presently entreated the Bailiffs of
Chepstow to make restitution “for love’s sake.”

For the same sweet reason, the Mayor and Bailiffs of Oxford were
entreated to send to John English the goods, viz. a horse, half a sack
of wool, and four nobles in money, taken by them from William Ware, the
runaway apprentice of the said John English. Sometimes the Mayor and
Corporation wrote an account of an injury which reveals, or seems to
reveal, a great deal.

What possibilities, for instance, there are in the story of John de
Walhouse! He was a citizen of London; and, being moved, one hopes, by
piety and not by a morbid desire of change and travel, was resolved
on going a pilgrimage. He might have gone to the Black Virgin of
Willesden, in which case he could have taken his wife Lucy, and so
might have done the job in one day. Or he might have gone to Our Lady
of Walsingham, which would have taken a fortnight or three weeks. He
could have taken his wife there, too. Nothing would do, however, but
that he must go to Rome, a long journey of two thousand miles, too far
for tender woman to endure. So he left her at home, in charge of all
he had; perhaps, but this is not explained, in charge of the shop, if
there were a shop. What happened in his absence? The Tempter came; he
must have come, otherwise Lucy would not have behaved as she did. He
came in the shape, form, and appearance of a young man of attractive
manners. He flattered poor Lucy, who was but weak; he made love to her;
he persuaded her to fly with him; and, as there was property in the
house, they took the property with them—robes of fur, harness, mazers,
all kinds of things. They loaded a pack-horse or two with these things
and they travelled northwards. When the pilgrim returned, proud of his
staff and cockleshells, bearing perhaps some priceless relic which a
good friar had let him have for a mere trifle, burning to tell his wife
about all his adventures, he found the house closed. Where was Lucy?
The neighbours only knew that one morning, when they arose at break of
day, the house was closed. Lucy must have gone through the gates of
the City as soon as they were opened. While he stood agape with looks
of distraction, one whispered in his ear, “Master, I know where they
are—he and she—and your goods. They are at Lynn.” So the Mayor wrote
the letter calling for restitution, and one knows nothing more, but
fears the worst.

It was to Lynn that another sinner, John Aleyn, repaired, taking with
him the goods of his mistress Alice. Again, there was the injury done
to Peter Grubbe, who chartered a ship and sent her to Winchelsea to
bring home a cargo of free wood. Observe that the Sussex forests were
not then destroyed, and that the woods on the north of London were
not sufficient to provide the City with fuel. The Captain loaded his
ship, but then steered for Dunkirk, where he sold the cargo on his own
account. Will the Echevins of Dunkirk, asks the Mayor of London, act
honourably in the matter, and make Peter disgorge? It would be a pity
to proceed to reprisals.

One more case. It is that of John de Hilton, citizen and pewterer. He
thought himself quite safe when he went away to St. Ives’ Fair with
his string of pack-horses and his load of pewter. For he had confided
the care of his property to his servant Agnes, whom he trusted, as a
woman of blameless life. Alas! Agnes had deceived her worthy master.
She was a married woman who pretended to be single, and her husband was
a great rogue. As soon as the master went away the husband concerted
with his wife, and they carried off between them property left behind
to the extent of £30: 14s. There were no banks in those days, nor
were there any “running cashes” at the goldsmiths’. What a man had
he carried about, or kept in some safe place, unknown to the world.
Agnes took with her £10 in gold, £6 in silver, silver pieces valued
at 26s. 8d., fourteen silver spoons, 20s., one piece of cloth, 100s.,
one long furred robe, 33s. 4d., one short robe, 26s., one stone called
“peletote,” 16s., rings of gold, 20s., and naperie, 20s.; the fugitives
were traced to the City of Dublin. The Mayor of London writes to the
Mayor of Dublin asking for the recovery of the goods, and the bringing
of the two to justice.

Another class of letter was the Letter Patent, or the Letter
Recommendatory. Two friars are going to Rome on business, they bear
with them the Mayor’s Letter Recommendatory; a merchant is going to a
country fair, he takes with him Letters Patent with the Mayor’s seal,
stating that he is a good and true man and entitled to the privileges
of the City. The unfortunate John de Radclive, born in St. Botolph’s
Without Bishopsgate, asks for and obtains a letter from the Mayor,
stating that his left ear, deficient by one half, was not, as many
would think, struck off by the hangman as the concluding ceremony of
procession and pillory, but was actually bitten off by a horse.

These extracts may conclude with a case which illustrates the custom of
London as to testamentary disposition. It was that the testator could
bequeath one-third of his estate as he wished, but that one-third must
go to his heirs, sons, or brothers, and one-third to his widow. If,
however, it could be shown that the heirs had received the part or the
whole in advance, they would have nothing. These shares were called the
“reasonable part.” The custom continued in London until 11 George I.,
_i.e._ 1725. In the case before us, the Mayor and Aldermen inform the
Burgomasters and Echevins of Bruges, that Agatha, widow of Geoffrey de
Wantynche, lately resident in Bruges, had brought over the property
of her husband, or such of it as was portable, and had satisfied
her husband’s two brothers Peter Brown and John Brown of Wantynche,
brethren and heirs of the deceased, as to the “reasonable part” of the
property. To this testimony they are asked to give credence “for love’s


From Froissart’s _Chronicles_.]

Concerning the position of women in Mediæval London. The ladies of the
Palace and the Castle certainly managed to obtain as much pleasure out
of life as their modern descendants. The young maidens, who were, in
a way, apprentices of the _grande dame_, learned how a household was
to be managed; they sat at the spinning-wheel; they carded wool; they
heckled flax; they embroidered very beautifully. As for amusements,
they had plenty, for they danced, they sang, and danced as they sang;
they played games, of which they possessed and knew an immense number;
they listened to the reading of romances and to minstrels; they either
heard music or they played music; they went to mass every morning; they
told stories and asked riddles; they played chess and draughts; they
rode; they went hunting; they went hawking; and they kept pets—larks,
magpies, falcons, jays, parrots, squirrels, cats. In the spring and
summer they passed a great deal of time in the garden—the literature of
the period is full of the garden.

The ladies in the garden danced; they looked on at dancing; they played
the mandoline and sang songs; the young knights sat with them and
played and sang with them; they plucked the fruit; they played with
their pets; they picked the flowers and made garlands—for themselves
and the young gallants. The wife and daughters of a merchant had a
garden, which they used in exactly the same way as the ladies of the
Castle. A summer-house and a fountain were necessary accompaniments to
every garden.

    “Amiddes the garden so moche delectable
    There was an herber fayre and quadrante,
    To paradyse right well comparable,
    Set all about with floures fragraunt:
    And in the myddle there was resplendyshaunte
    A dulcet spring and marvaylous fountaine
    Of golde and asure made all certaine.”

The great ladies had their bevy of maids in attendance, who sat at the
spinning-wheel and embroidered. They made all kinds of fine things
for themselves; they had their hawks and hounds; they practised
music; they understood how to distil certain things. In the City,
the merchant’s wife had her servants who made things, but not so
much as in the country because there were shops where one could buy.
Many of them, however, were skilled in the properties of herbs; they
understood midwifery—it is remarkable that in the whole of Riley’s
_Memorials_ the midwife is never mentioned. Was every married woman,
then, a practitioner among her friends? Or were there _sages femmes_?
The amusements of the better sort in the City were, one imagines,
principally the gossip and daily chat among friends, particularly after
the morning mass. The women dined with their husbands in the Companies’
Halls; they held banquets in their own halls; they had dancers and
mummers to amuse them; they had their children to bring up; and they
paid great attention to their dress.

If we descend a step we find ourselves among the retailers
and the craftsmen. The retailers or shopkeepers included many
women—regratresses: there were alewives—brewsters—who made and brewed
and sold their own beer; there were fish-wives—from time immemorial
there have been fish-wives—there were “broiderers” and dressmakers of
all kinds in immense numbers; there were weaverwomen—websters; women
who baked—baksters; those who spun—spinsters; there were domestic
servants; and there were many thousands of matrons who took care of the
house, brought up the children, brewed the ale, bought and dressed the
food, made and mended the clothes.

A married woman could rent a house, or carry on business in a shop or
a craft on her own account; if her husband had nothing to do with the
business she was to be charged as a _femme sole_. She could be sued for
debt and she could be cast into prison, her husband being untouched.

[Illustration: MAKING TAPESTRY

From MS. in British Museum. Add. 20,698.]

The women who worked for their livelihood were cheated and defrauded,
as they are now, for they had no companies or guilds, and no
associations; they were paid in kind. Edward IV., for instance, passed
an ordinance that the carders should pay their women servants in coin
and should give them full weight of wool. Some of the women, as has
happened since, occasionally got drunk; some played dishonest tricks,
as that woman who was set in stocks for putting pitch into the beer
measure, thereby lessening the quantity of the quart; or that fish-wife
who sold stinking fish and stood in the stocks while her fish was burnt
under her nose—a terrible punishment; there were scolds among them;
there were in fact as many kinds of women as there are at present.

In a poem called “The most Pleasant Song of Lady Bessy,” by Humphrey
Brereton, are the following lines which illustrate the education of
noble ladies. “Lady Bessy” is Elizabeth of York, and she thus speaks:—

    “Good father Stanley, hearken unto me,
    What my father King Edward, that King royal
        Did for my sister, my Lady Wells, and me.
    He sent for a scrivener to lusty London,
        He was the best in that City,
    He taught us both to write and read full soon
        If it please you full soon you shall see.
    Lauded be God! I had such speed
        That I can write as well as he,
    And also indite and full well read;
        And that—Lord—soon shall you see,
    Both English and alsoe French
        And also Spanish if you had need,
    The earle said, You are a proper wench.”

    (_Antiquary_, XV.)

One little anecdote I must give to show the spirit that was then in
the women of England. In the year 1404 the French effected a landing
at Dartmouth, the landsmen turned against them armed; they were joined
by their wives, who fought beside their husbands and drove off the

Another anecdote to show the small consideration held for women. In the
year 1379 Sir John Arundel’s squadron, then at sea in the Channel, was
overtaken by a storm. There were on board the ships sixty women, some
of whom had gone with the sailors of their own accord, and others who
had been forcibly carried off. To lighten the ship, every one of these
wretched women was thrown into the sea and drowned.

The model _bourgeoise_ is set forth in “How the Good Wyf taugte hir
Dougter” (published by the E. E. Text Society in _The Babees Book_)

    “The good wife taught hir daughter
        Ful manye a time and ofte
            A ful good woman to be:
    And saide ‘Daughter to me dere,
    Sum good thou must lere (learn)
        If were thou wolt thee (thrive).”

The sum of her teaching is as follows: It is the aim of every woman to
become a wife, she must therefore carefully consider her actions. In
the first place, she must go to church every day and love God.

    “Go to Church whanne thou may
        Look thou spare for no reyn:
    For thou farest best that ilke day
          Whanne thou hast God y-seyn.
        He must need weel thrive
        That liveth weel all his life
            My leef child.”

She must pay the church, dues; she must help the poor; in church she
must pray, beads in hand, neither chattering nor laughing; she must be
“of fair bearing and of good tongue.” If any man makes her an offer
of marriage, she is to receive him courteously, whoever he may be,
and must show the case to her friends, and she must not sit with him
in any place where a scandal might arise. When she marries a man she
must love him above all earthly things; she must answer him meekly;
she must be fair of speech, mild of mood, true in word and deed, of
good conscience. She must be of seemly semblance; she must not be loud
in laughter. In the street she must not brandish her head or shake
her shoulders; she must not swear; she must not gaze about in the
streets; she must not visit the tavern; she must take “measurably” of
the good ale; and must not get drunk. She must not go to see wrestlings
or cock-throwing like a strumpet—the ways of the class, one observes,
remain unchanged—they went to public shows then just as they go to the
Music Halls now. Again, if a strange man speaks to her in the street
she is to greet him and pass on; above all things she must not stand
and talk with him lest he tempt her with gifts. She is to govern her
household wisely and set everybody to work early; if need be, she
will work herself; she will see that when work is done things are put
away; on pay day she must administer the wages. She is not to envy her
neighbour’s fine attire, but to behave in a friendly spirit towards her

    “It behoveth thee so for to do
    And to do to them as thou woldist be doon to.”

She must not ruin her husband with extravagance, nor must she borrow.
She must not spare the rod if her children “been rebel.” As soon as her
daughters are born she will begin to collect things for them against
their marriage—this leads us to think that the wife was expected to
contribute part at least of the furniture of the house: or was it a
_dot_ that was gathered and stored up for the girl?

That is enough; the good mother supposes the life of a housewife,
able to work herself if need be, _i.e._ work of making and sewing,
embroidering, brewing, cooking, and all kinds of household work;
obedient to church and husband; a fond mother, a good manager. There
is not a single word said of books or of learning, of reading or of
writing—was the _bourgeoise_ not taught to read and write? I do not
know. But I imagine, remembering the custom later on, that the woman
was taught to read, but that she seldom had any occasion to use that
accomplishment. Nothing, again, is said of any amusements, we are not
in the gardens of the Castle, we are in a City street, the house is one
of a cluster, each house facing a different way, perhaps, gabled, the
storeys projecting one above the other, we look out across the narrow
street upon another house like this. At the back is a small garden, the
doors are all open and the housewives come out and talk to each other
about the prices of everything, which have gone up horribly within the
memory of people still young; within, the maids and the daughters work
and whisper. The rod hangs upon the wall for those who talk and do not

    “Now have I thee taught, daughter, as my modir dide me
    Think thereon nyght and day, forgete that it not be:
        Have mesure and lownes, as I have thee taught,
    And what man thee wedde schal, him dare care nought.
            Better were a child unbore
            Than untaught of wise lore
                Mi leve child.”

We learn, from the frequent practice of bequeathing a dowry, that it
was customary to endow a girl with a marriage portion. Thus in 1341
Richard atte Gate leaves his daughter Agnes ten pounds of silver for
her marriage; in 1342 Nicholas Crane, fishmonger, leaves Amina his
niece £20 sterling for her marriage portion, a robe valued at 20s.,
and divers household stuffs. In 1340 Lucy Wycombe leaves her daughter
Johanna certain rents in Eastcheap, certain household goods, and a
letter patent of the King worth £100, all for her dowry. In 1344 Philip
Swift leaves an annuity to hand out of his estate to Juliana his
daughter for her marriage. If a girl, the daughter of a citizen, was
left an orphan, the right of giving her in marriage belonged to the
Mayor and Commonalty.

It was held to be greatly meritorious for a widow to make a solemn vow
of chastity in honour of her deceased husband. Such an act had to be
first allowed by the Bishop before whom the widow was led, and after
the celebration of mass she made her vow in these words:—

“I ... M. or N. heretofore the wife of M. or N. vow to God and to our
Holy Lady Saint Mary and to all Saints in the presence of our Reverend
Father in God M. or N. by the grace of God Bishop of M. or N. that I
will be chaste henceforth during my life.”

And the Bishop, after receiving her vow, put a ring upon her finger and
clad her in a mantle which she was to wear during the rest of her life.

I must now touch upon a subject which belongs to every great town in
all times, namely, the existence of the disorderly woman. There is
little direct information on the subject, but indirectly much may be
inferred. Thus in 1281 women of the town were ordered to wear hoods
lined with common lambskin or rabbitskin and not with richer furs. In
1351 such women were ordered to wear abroad a hood made of ray only,
and without lining of any kind, _i.e._ they were not to set off their
faces by beautiful hoods, and thus try to make themselves attractive.
In the year 1382 they were again enjoined to wear hoods of ray only. In
the year 1393 they were admonished to keep within the quarters assigned
to them on Bankside, and in Cock Lane, Smithfield, and they were
ordered not on any account to presume to be seen in any tavern, street,
or public place outside these limits. These repeated ordinances clearly
point to a considerable number of such women, and to their intrusion
into respectable places.

John of Northampton, Mayor and Reformer, took upon himself the duty of
the Bishop, and cleansed the City of the disorderly women, ordering any
woman guilty of unchaste deeds to be carried through the City on a cart
and placed in stocks, with her hair cut off.

In the year 1385 there is a suggestive case. It is that of Elizabeth,
wife of Henry Moring, who, under the cover of the craft of brodery,
which she pretended to follow, took in one Johanna and other girls as
apprentices, but instead of teaching them that craft she incited them
to follow a lewd life, and let them out on hire to friars and chaplains
and other men.


From the painting by A. Chevallier Tayler, by permission of the

From time to time there were attempts to get rid of the scandal,
especially among the followers of the court and camp. The women were
driven away, but they came back again; they were punished in the most
cruel manner; they were made hideous by slitting their noses and even
cutting off their lips, yet more women came.

Everything, in a word, points to the fact that in spite of all
ordinances and provisions, London was then, as now, greatly frequented
by the disorderly woman. She was musician, singer, dancer, and tumbler;
tambourine in hand, she haunted the taverns; she followed the army in
multitudes; she arrayed herself in gorgeous clothing to entice the
young priest and the friar; she would not be restrained within certain
quarters; she lived in the Palace; she belonged to the Court; when her
beauty faded, unless she died, as often happened, she became servant
to those who succeeded her; or she became an alewife; or she procured
and enticed girls to take her place and follow in her steps. History
is almost silent about her; yet we can make out so much. Her appointed
places were Bankside and Cock Lane: near the former place there lay,
until quite recently, a narrow patch of green without any tombs or
tombstones—it is now a timber yard. It was the graveyard of the “Single
Women.” They existed—they still exist,—because there was then—as
there is now—a whole army of single men. Then there were thousands of
priests, monks, and friars, thousands of men-at-arms following in the
livery of this Lord and that Lord; now there are thousands of men, no
longer ecclesiastics and soldiers, but of every profession and every
trade, who remain unmarried into middle life, for whom the “single”
woman still exists. Now, as formerly, the only way to abolish the
courtesan is to teach the young men restraint.

The maintenance of houses for the reception of prostitutes was always
strictly forbidden within the walls of the City. The licensed houses
of Bankside were kept up until the reign of Henry VII., then they were
closed: but the old traditions clung to the place, and the women, if
they were banished, quickly returned. Ordinances for the management of
the houses and regulations for the prevention of disorder were issued
by Henry II., by Edward III., by Richard II., and by Henry VI. The
following is the information upon the subject given by Stow:—

“Next on this bank was sometime the Bordello, or Stewes, a place so
called of certain stew-houses privileged there, for the repair of
incontinent men to the like women: of the which privilege I have read

In a Parliament holden at Westminster, the eighth of Henry the Second,
it was ordained by the Commons, and confirmed by the King and Lords,
that divers constitutions for ever should be kept within that lordship
or franchise, according to the old customs that had been there used
time out of mind.

I have also seen divers patents of confirmation, namely, one dated
1345, the nineteenth of Edward the Third. Also, I find that in the
fourth of Richard the Second these stew-houses, belonging to William
Walworth, then Mayor of London, were farmed by ‘Froes’ of Flanders,
and spoiled by Wat Tyler and other rebels of Kent: notwithstanding, I
find that ordinances for the same place and houses were again confirmed
in the reign of Henry the Sixth to be continued as before. Also,
Robert Fabian writeth, that in the year 1506 the twenty-first of Henry
the Seventh, the said stew-houses in Southwarke were for a season
inhibited, and the doors closed up, but it was not long (saith he) ere
the houses there were set open again, as many as were permitted for
(as it was said) whereas before were eighteen houses, from thenceforth
were appointed to be used but twelve only. These allowed stew-houses
had signs on their fronts, towards the Thames, not hanged out, but
painted on the walls, as a Boar’s Head, the Cross Keys, the Gun, the
Castle, the Crane, the Cardinal’s Hat, the Bell, the Swan, etc. I have
heard of ancient men, of good credit, report, that these single women
were forbidden the rites of the Church so long as they continued that
sinful life, and were excluded from Christian burial, if they were not
reconciled before their death. And therefore there was a plot of ground
called the Single Woman’s Churchyard, appointed for them far from the
parish Church.


  _G. W. Wilson and Co._


In the year of Christ 1546, the thirty-seventh of Henry the Eighth,
this row of stews in Southwarke was put down by the King’s commandment,
which was proclaimed by sound of trumpet, no more to be privileged, and
used as a common brothel, but the inhabitants of the same to keep good
and honest rule as in other places of this realm, etc.”


From “Vie de St. Thomas” (a French MS. 1230-1260).]

To turn to another subject. In the account of the early days of St.
Thomas à Becket we get a glimpse of the London merchant’s home which,
like Fitzstephen’s description of London, goes not far enough. The
future Archbishop, Martyr, and Saint was born where the present
Mercers’ Chapel stands in Cheapside. His father, Gilbert, was of
knightly family, a native of Thierceville, a little town near the
Abbey of Bec in Normandy. He appears to have migrated to Rouen while
still young; there he married Roesia, daughter of a burgher of Caen.
The young couple came over to London about the year 1116 and here
prospered. It has been suggested that Gilbert of Rouen and Roesia of
Caen were Thomas’s grandparents and that his father, Gilbert, was born
in London and that his mother’s name was Matilda. It seems difficult
to understand how a simple burgher from Rouen should in two or three
years become a leading citizen in London, even, according to his
biographer, vice-comes, _i.e._ portreeve. He was a man at one time of
large property; he founded a chapel in St. Paul’s Churchyard, where he
was himself buried; and for many years the newly elected Mayor paid a
visit on his election to the tomb of Gilbert. To say that Gilbert came
over in the wake of the Conqueror is absurd, because he must then have
been of age, which would make him seventy, at least, when Thomas was
born. Yet he was a leading citizen of London during the years of his
boyhood, and this fact is impossible to explain on the assumption that
Gilbert came over in 1116. If, however, his father, the elder Gilbert,
came over in 1066 or thereabouts, being then, perhaps, twenty years of
age, a son of his, born say in 1086, might very well be the father of
Thomas, born in 1118. (See also p. 8).

The City of London in any case claimed the saint as her own son:

 “Me quae te peperi, ne cesses, Thoma, tueri.”

Gilbert claimed kinship with the Norman Theobald; among his friends was
one Rechin de l’Aigle of Pevensey, a noble of Norman birth, who lodged
with Gilbert when he came to London.

The visions which came to the mother before the birth of her child
are pleasing in their simplicity. We are told that she saw her child
standing before her at the door of Canterbury Cathedral; that twelve
bright stars dropped into her lap; and that she dreamed that she was
giving birth to the Cathedral itself. There is the pretty story of the
baby’s coverlet. Roesia (or Matilda) found fault with the nurse for
not laying a coverlet over him in his cradle. “Why,” said the nurse,
“he has already got a beautiful red silk coverlet.” She took it up
and unfolded it. The coverlet proved too big for the room; it was too
big for the hall; it was too big for the street; it was too big for

The mother placed Thomas under the special protection of the Virgin,
who saved him from a fever—when she came to him in a vision and gave
him the keys of Heaven. She also saved him by a miracle when he fell
into the stream and was nearly drawn into the mill-wheel.

It was the mother’s godly custom to put the child into a scale and
to weigh him against bread, meat, clothes, and money which she gave
to the poor. She died when the boy was twenty-one. If only the good
and pious soul could have lived to see her boy a glorified Saint! He
was sent to school at Merton Priory—not one of the City schools. From
Merton he was sent to Paris. On his return he found that his father
had suffered losses, having had his house burned over his head three
times. He then, with the intention of becoming a merchant, entered
into the counting-house of one Osbern Huitdeniers “of great name and
repute.” Two Normans, however, named Baldwin the Archdeacon and Eustace
of Boulogne, who lodged with Gilbert when they were in London, remarked
the intelligence of the young man, Gilbert’s son, and introduced him to
Theobald. The rest of the story belongs to history.

Here is a glimpse of City manners. To Thomas, son of Hugh atte Bow,
citizen and mercer, was left the sum of £300 on the death of his
father. This sum was deposited with Robert de Brinkeleye, mercer, to
be kept and judiciously employed for the profit of the boy. Robert had
the use of this sum for thirteen years. He paid yearly for the use of
the money “according to the custom of the City” 4s. for every pound, or
£60 a year, which is 20 per cent. This makes £780, so that when Thomas
came of age he would have had, but for deductions, the sum of £1080,
equivalent to about £15,000 of our money. But Robert, also according
to the custom of the City, sent in a bill for 2s. in the pound per
annum for the said £300 for his trouble in the guardianship of the boy.
That amounted to £390. Further, he charged for the board of Thomas 2s.
a week or 104 shillings yearly, which amounted to £67: 12s. For the
clothes of Thomas he charged 40 shillings a year or £26 in all. Also,
for teaching, 2 marks yearly for ten years, making 20 marks or £13: 6:
8. Also, for learning to ride and for work and residence at Oxford £13
more. It was not, therefore, uncommon for the son of a London merchant
to study at Oxford. In all, the guardian’s charges amounted to £509:
18: 8, so that Thomas’s inheritance came to £570: 1: 4. This little
history shows that the cost of maintenance of a boy at that time was
no more than 3½d. a day; that education could be had for £1: 6: 8 a
year, and that for the use of money 20 per cent was considered a fair

The cost of keeping a girl, perhaps not an heiress, in the case of a
certain Alice, was reckoned at 8d. a week, and the cost of her clothes
at 13s. 4d. a year.

We may now consider the expenses of London members of Parliament. In
the year 1389 Parliament was held at Cambridge and was attended by four
representatives of the City, viz. Adam Bamme, Henry Vanner, William
Tonge, and John Clenhond. They rode down together, taking with them
or sending before them two pipes of red wine. They hired a house at
Cambridge, but were compelled to take one nearly ruinous; the woodwork
was rotten, the roof leaky, the plaster broken. A thorough repair of
the house was carried out; the rubbish with which it was filled was
carted away, fine stools and forms were made; tablecloths, cushions,
and wall-hangings of striped worsted were bought; eating, drinking, and
cooking utensils were procured; fuel, consisting of firewood, charcoal,
turf and sedge, was laid in; and the bills for the whole attendance
were sent in to the Corporation and by them paid. They show that the
journey to Cambridge and back of the party, with their servants and
“harness,” cost £7: 16: 8; the distance we know is 57 miles or 114
miles there and back; but the number of servants we do not know; and
we cannot get at the items. But this was what the City had to pay for
its members of Parliament. The total may be reckoned, money being worth
then fifteen times its present value, at least, at about £1500, which
is an enormous bill.

                                                            £. _s._ _d._
  Rent, Repairs, and Furniture                              6    9   0
  Utensils, Tablecloths, and Cushions                       6   16   8
  Fuel                                                      5   13   0
  Horses, their keep and litter, also straw for Servants’
    Beds                                                   12   15   7
  Journey to Cambridge and back                             7   16   8
  Wine                                                      9    2   0
  Vestments for Servants’ Livery                           22    5   0
  Food, Ale, Candles, and Lavender                         23    5   9
  Wages to Butler, Cook, etc.                               7   13   4
                                                         £101   17   0

The language used in London was most certainly always English. The
better class undoubtedly understood that kind of French which Chaucer
called the French of Stratford-atte-Bow. For the nunnery of St.
Leonard, Bow, was an ancient Benedictine Foundation, where Anglo-French
was taught by the nuns.

The people never spoke any other language than English. The proceedings
at the Court of Hustings were in English, so were those of the Folk
mote and the Ward mote; the sermons were in English; the miracle
plays were in English: the Early English Text Society has unearthed
and published a vast mass of Early English, not Anglo-Norman, work,
consisting of popular songs, satirical verses, paraphrases of
Scripture, rules of Anchorites and monks, and translations.

At Oxford the students translated into French and English alternately,
“ne illa lingua Gallica penitus sit omissa.” Chaucer knew Anglo-French,
but wrote in English, and he wrote for the better class, not the
common people. Gower wrote first in French, then in Latin, and lastly
in English. In the year 1362, Parliament was opened by a speech in
English: about the same time the Courts of Law were ordered to be held
in English.

The custom of the Anglo-Saxon of the present day, who, wherever he is
found, imposes his language upon the markets in place of the language
of any other trader, no doubt prevailed on the quays and at the port of
London then, where the polyglot Babel of the foreign sailors had to be
reduced to the common English for the transaction of business.

Skeat has the following remarks on Chaucer’s “French of

“There is nothing to show that Chaucer here speaks slightingly of the
French spoken by the Prioress, though this view is commonly adopted by
newspaper-writers who know only this one line of Chaucer, and cannot
forbear to use it in jest. Even Tyrwhitt and Wright have thoughtlessly
given currency to this idea: and it is worth remarking that Tyrwhitt’s
conclusion as to Chaucer thinking but meanly of Anglo-French was
derived (as he tells us) from a remark in the Prologue to the
_Testament of Love_, which Chaucer did not write. But Chaucer merely
states a fact, viz., that the Prioress spoke the usual Anglo-French
of the English Court, of the English law-courts, and of the English
ecclesiastics of the higher rank. The poet, however, had been himself
in France, and knew precisely the difference between the two dialects:
but he had no special reason for thinking more highly of the Parisian
than of the Anglo-French. He merely states that the French which she
spoke so ‘fetisly’ was, naturally, such as was spoken in England. She
had never travelled, and was therefore quite satisfied with the French
which she had learnt at home. The language of the King of England was
quite as good, in the esteem of Chaucer’s hearers, as that of the King
of France; in fact, King Edward called himself king of France as well
as of England, and King John, was, at one time, merely his prisoner.
Warton’s note on the line is quite sane. He shows that Queen Philippa
wrote business letters in French (doubtless Anglo-French) with ‘great
propriety.’ What Mr. Wright means by saying that ‘it was similar to
that used at a later period in the courts of law’ is somewhat puzzling.
It was, of course, not similar to, but the very same language as was
used at the very same period in the courts of law. In fact, he and
Tyrwhitt have unconsciously given us the view entertained, not by
Chaucer, but by unthinking readers of the present age: a view which is
not expressed and was probably not intended. At the modern Stratford
we may find Parisian French inefficiently taught: but at the ancient
Stratford, the very important Anglo-French was taught efficiently

Lydgate’s poem called “London Lickpenny,” because the City drinks and
absorbs the visitor’s money, contains the most lively picture of the
streets of London in the fifteenth century. The title, as Skeat has
pointed out, was wrongly conjectured (by Halliwell) to mean “London

    “To London once my steps I bent,
      Where truth in no wise should be faint:
    To Westminster I forthwith went
      To a man of law to make complaint.
      I said—‘For Mary’s love, that holy saint,
    Pity the poor that would proceed!’
    But, for lack of money, I could not speed.

    And, as I thrust the crowd among,
      By froward chance my hood was gone!
    Yet for all that I stayed not long
      Till to the King’s Bench I was come.
      Before the judge I kneeled anon,
    And prayed him, for God’s sake, to take heed!
    But, for lack of money, I might not speed.”

Whether he wanted money for the payment of fees, or whether it was
necessary to bribe the judge, he does not explain. Let us charitably
take the former view:—

    “Unto the Common Pleas I did go,
      Where sat one with a silken hood;
    I did him reverence (I ought to do so)
      And told my case as well as I could,
      How my goods were defrauded me by falsehood.
    I got not a word of his mouth for my meed,
    And, for lack of money, I might not speed.

    In Westminster Hall, neither rich nor poor
      Would do for me aught, although I should die;
    Which seeing, I gat me out of the door,
      When Flemings began on me for to cry,
      ‘Master, what will you copen[6] or buy?
    Fine felt hats, or spectacles to read?
    Lay down your silver, and here you may speed.’

      [6] Buy (Flemish).

    Then to Westminster-gate I presently went,
      When the sun was at high prime;
    Cooks, to me they took good entent,
      And proffered me bread, with ale and wine;
      Ribs of beef, both fat and fine.
    A fair cloth they began to spread;
    But, wanting money, I might not speed.

    Then unto London I did me hie,
      Of all the land it bears the price.
    ‘Hot pease-cods!’ one began to cry,
      ‘Strawberries ripe!’ and ‘cherries on the rice!’ (_bough_)
      One bad me come near and buy some spice;
    Pepper and saffron they did me bede (_offer_);
    But, for lack of money, I might not speed.

    Then went I forth by London stone,
      All the length of Canwick[7] Street;
    Drapers much cloth me offered anon;
      Then met I one, cried ‘Hot sheep’s feet!’
      One, ‘mackerel!’ One did ‘rushes’ repeat.
    One offered a hood, to cover my head;
    But, for lack of money, I might not be sped.

      [7] Candlewick Street, now Cannon Street.

    Then I hied me to East-Cheap,
      One cries ‘ribs of beef,’ and many a pie;
    Pewter-pots they clattered in a heap;
      There was harp and pipe, and minstrelsy.
      ‘Yea, ’faith,’ and ‘nay, ’faith,’ some did cry.
    Some sang of Jenkyn and Gill for meed;
    But, for lack of money, I might not speed.

    Then into Cornhill anon I strode,
      Where was much stolen gear among;
    I saw where hung my own lost hood,
      That I had lost among the throng;
      To buy my own hood, I thought it wrong.
    I knew it as well as I did my creed;
    But, for lack of money, I might not speed.

    The taverner took me by the sleeve,
      ‘Sir,’ saith he, ‘now my wine assay’;
    I answered ‘that cannot much me grieve,
      A penny can do no more than it may.’
      I drank a pint, and for it did pay;
    Yet sore a-hungered from thence I yede (_went_),
    And, wanting money, I could not speed.”

He ends by saying how he at last went to Billingsgate and there tried
to persuade a bargeman to row him across the river for nothing. But
the bargeman declined to take any less than twopence, saying that he
was not yet come to the time of life when he wished to practise active
benevolence by the bestowal of alms. At last the poet got safely into
Kent, and made up his mind to have no more to do with lawyers. The
whole concludes with a pious wish for the welfare of London and of all
honest lawyers:—

    “Save London, and send true lawyers their meed!
    For who-so lacks money, with them shall not speed!”

The moral of the ballad is obvious. If you wish to go to law, you
should go to London; and if you wish to go to London, you should first
of all fill your purse.

We want to get at the mind of the people. We have seen that the women
at least did not read, and of book-learning the London craftsman
had none. But they must have had ideas, subjects of conversation,
current beliefs,—what were they? Towards the end of the fourteenth
and throughout the fifteenth century, there can be no doubt that
there was everywhere a spirit of restlessness and questioning. The
wandering preachers, Wyclyf’s Preachers, made the people compare the
true religious life with the example of the religious life held out
for them by the prelates and abbots with their splendid retinues and
their pride, by the monks with their sloth, and by the friars with
their greed and their licentiousness. Those who defend the Church at
this time are unwilling to admit either the pride of the former or
the license of the latter. Let us, therefore, be content to mark what
was said and taught, whether it was true or not, and to remember that
these things were openly said and taught, and were believed by the
people. One remembers what was said by a woman of London when a fire
broke out at Willesden and the image of the Virgin was partly burned?
“How can she help me,” asked this shrewd questioner, “if she cannot
help herself?” During this period of slow awakening the people learned
anew the lesson that religion was not a thing of rule and purchase,
and that the profession of religion demanded a corresponding life of
purity. To put on the Franciscan habit, and to profess the Franciscan
Rule, was not, it was discovered, in itself an act, or a proof, or an
illustration of religion. The perception by the people of the great
rule—the scholars had long since understood—prepared the way for the
expression of free thought in the sixteenth century.

Equally interesting it is to mark the revolt in the minds of the people
against their rulers—and the mingling of the revolt against the Church
with the revolt against the nobles:—

 “John the Miller hath yground small, small,
  The King’s son of heaven shall pay for all,
  Beware ere ye be wo!
  Know your friend from your foe,
  Haveth ynough and saith (_say ye_) ‘ho’! (_stop!_)
  And do well and better and fleeth sinne,
  And seeketh peace and holde therein!
  And so biddeth John Trueman and all his fellows.”

    “John Ball, Saint Mary Priest,
    Greeteth well all manner of men,
    And biddeth them in name of the Trinitie,
    Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
    Stand manlike together in truth,
    And helpe truth, and truth shall help you.
    Now reigneth pride in price,
    Couetise is holden wise,
    Lechery without shame,
    Gluttonie without blame.
    Enuie raigneth without reason,
    And sloth is taken in great season,
    God do boot, for now is time, Amen.”

And again (Percy Society):—

    “Jack Trewman doeth you to understand
    That falsenesse and guile hath raigned too long:
    And truth hath been set under a locke,
    And falsenesse raigneth in every flocke,
    No man may come truth to,
    But he sing, si dedero:
    Speake, spend and speed, quoth John of Bathon, and therefore,
    Sinne fareth as wilde flood,
    True love is away that is so good,
    And clarkes for wealth wirketh them wo—
    God doe boote for now is time, Amen.”

“My good friends”—these were the words of John Ball of Canterbury,
as reported by Froissart—and there were others who preached the same
doctrine—“things cannot go on well in England, nor ever will, until
everything shall be in common; when there shall neither be vassal nor
lord and all distinctions levelled; when the lords shall be no more
masters than ourselves. Are we not all descended from the same parents,
Adam and Eve?” He then goes on to contrast the lot of the lords with
that of the people. “We are called slaves, and if we do not perform our
services we are beaten, and we have not any sovereign to whom we can
complain, or who wishes to hear us and to do us justice.”

As regards the ideas of the people on Government, we must remember that
in London the old Saxon freedom was never lost. Londoners chose their
Mayor, Aldermen, and Sheriffs, and appointed their own Judges. Every
freeman of the City of London, therefore, felt that he had part in the
government of the City. As we have seen in the history of the City,
there were dissensions and factions from time to time, but the one
great principle that London was free to elect its own magistrates and
to preserve its own form of government was never departed from.

It was, therefore, not an imposed government, but a popular government
of their own. There was never any question about obeying the government
of London, there was never any popular rising against the government
of London. It was natural and it was proper that the Aldermen should
be the rulers, and if any one had the temerity to strike an Alderman
or refuse to obey his ruling, it was just and proper to the people
themselves for that man to have his hand struck off; and in the same
way it was understood by everybody that in defence of the King, their
“Overlord,” it might be necessary to go forth and fight. Therefore
it was incumbent for every one to learn the use of arms and to be
possessed of certain weapons. In the inventories which we find of house
furniture of the fourteenth century, there are always armour and arms.
The craftsman, therefore, was a soldier, a freeman, and an elector.
Further, for the advantage of his own trade, he understood that it
was important for him to combine and associate himself into a guild or
company. He understood that he must be loyal to this company, that he
must obey its officers, and that he must put in good work.


From _Romaunt of the Rose_ in British Museum. Harl. MS. 4425.]

The rebellion of Wat Tyler was encouraged by the people of London,
according to Froissart, who repeats what he heard and clearly echoes
the rumours prevalent at the Court. The Londoners, he says, invited
the country people to assemble and to march upon London, where they
promised them a good reception and such a welcome that there should
soon be not a slave left in all England—but there were none in
London. The people came up from all parts of the Kingdom; they came
in companies of a dozen or a hundred. Froissart says they knew not
what they wanted; it is, however, quite certain that they wanted to
realise the dream of their preachers; they wanted, what people always
want, justice; they wanted to see the life of religion instead of
the profession of religion, and they knew very well what the life of
religion meant; they wanted a more equitable division of the world’s
goods. The great rebellion of Wat Tyler, if it was really encouraged,
welcomed, or invited by the common people of London, which I doubt,
further than that there were certainly some who had imbibed the ideas
of John Ball, shows us what the common people thought.

As for the extent of their knowledge and its limitations, London was
a place of foreign trade, and the centre of internal trade. It was
therefore filled with people carrying on the trade of distribution,
collection, import, and export. In other words, it was constantly
receiving and sending forth men to foreign countries across the sea and
to all parts of the realm of England to carry on their trade. The boys
went down to the quays to talk with the sailors and the stevedores:
they learned to distinguish the Genoese and the Venetian galleys, the
ships of the Hanseatic League, the ships from Lisbon and the ships from
Bordeaux, they heard where these places were, and what they sent to
London. The voyagers themselves in the taverns told their travellers’
tales. All that trade could teach the people was learned by them in
the fourteenth century as well as in the nineteenth. I suppose that
they would not be able to draw a _mappa mundi_ with much approach to
accuracy, but they knew where places were.

Their knowledge of geography and of peoples was widened also by their
pilgrimages and by the stories told by pilgrims on their return. As
to science, each man had the mastery of his craft: that was enough
for him. As to history, the people of London remembered; no doubt
they mixed up a good many events, but they remembered at least their
own liberties. Of books they had none and could not read; of songs
satirical, historical, commemorative, they had, of their own, a good
many which are still surviving.

It will be understood from the foregoing what were the rough ideas of
the people as to religion and social economy; how their knowledge of
the world was considerable; how their trades taught them a certain
amount of science; and how their popular songs extended and deepened
and strengthened the popular ideas.

In the chapter on Sports and Recreations these matters are fully dealt
with, but there are a few minor notes which do not exactly belong to
these things and come more properly here under the heading of Manners.
On festive occasions the people wore garlands, the Master and Wardens
of a Company wore garlands on their great days, at banquets they wore
garlands, ladies wore garlands, young ecclesiastics wore garlands. When
any one rode abroad—not to battle—he hung little bells on the bridles
and harness of his horse. Wyclyf speaks of a priest “in pompe and
pride, coveitise and envye, with fatte hors, and bridelis ryngynge be
(by) the weye and himself in costly clothes and pelure (fur).”

In every wealthy household the falcon was as much of a domestic pet as
the dog. The peregrine especially was easy to tame, “mult cortois et
vaillan et de bon manniere”—very tame, bold, and of good manners.

The clerk and the notary and the scrivener carried about with them a
case containing paper, pens, ink, and other necessaries for writing,
so that they could be called into a house or shop for the purpose of
writing down anything. The writing-case was called a Penner.

I have already said that every man was bound to keep ready for use arms
or armour according to his degree. We must always bear in mind that
the Londoner was a soldier first, whatever his calling; he was liable
to be called out for the defence of the City, or even, on occasion, to
march out into the country. Therefore every man had to learn, and to
practise, the use of arms, such as shooting with the long-bow, how to
handle a pike, and how to use a sword. Thus in the inventory of the
furniture belonging to Hugh le Bever, whose case is quoted elsewhere,
we find a haketon—_i.e._ a jacket of quilted leather sometimes worn
under armour, sometimes used as armour. In the reign of Henry II.,
every one who held a knight’s fee was bound to have a habergeon or
under coat of mail, a helmet, a shield, and a lance. A free-holder
of sixteen marks must have the same; one of ten marks must provide a
small habergeon, and a capeline of iron and a lance; while the ordinary
burgher must at least have a capeline and a lance.

Besides the wholesale merchants and the shopkeepers there were the
“stationers.” In every public place, wherever there was a church, or
a cross, or a conduit there were put up “stations” or stalls. Thus in
the year 1370 there were eleven stations round the High Cross of Chepe,
let to as many women, at the annual rent of 13s. 4d. In that year the
whole number were convicted of using false measures. The modern word
stationer is derived from the practice of selling paper, pens, etc., at
such stations.

Among the Fraternities of London must not be forgotten that called the
Company of the Pui, “in honour of God, our Lady Saint Mary, and all
saints both male and female; and in honour of our Lord the King and all
the Barons of this country.” It has been suggested that the Fraternity
was named after our Lady of Le Puy in Auvergne, an image of the Black
Virgin which worked miracles. There were many societies of the Pui in
France: this of London drew up for its own use and guidance a set of
Rules which are still existing and have been published in the _Liber
Custumarum_. It was, in fact, an early specimen of a club founded for
purposes of peace, joyousness, harmony, and friendship. It was open
to everybody, that is, to everybody whom the governing body chose to
admit. There were no distinctions of nationality. There was an entrance
fee and a subscription. The society was governed by a committee of
twelve members, elected for life, and by a “Prince,” who was elected
every year. As no Fraternity could exist without religion, a Chaplain
was maintained for the purpose of singing mass every day and for all
the members, living or dead. The great day of the Society was the first
Sunday after Trinity, when a meeting was held in a Hall newly strewn
with rushes and decked with branches. On this day the Prince for the
year was invested. The old Prince, with the crown of office on his
head and a gilt cup full of wine in his hands, marched down the room
singing. Then he gave the newly chosen Prince the crown, offered him
the cup, and hung up his arms over the Presidential chair.

This done, the meeting proceeded with the business of the day, which,
like the famous annual Festival at Toulouse, chiefly consisted in
choosing and rewarding the best song. The competitors sat in a row on
a seat covered with cloth of gold; the judges were the newly elected
Prince and the outgoing Prince, assisted by fifteen jurymen: the
competitors sang the songs to music of their own composition. When the
prize was adjudged the successful competitor was duly crowned.

Then dinner was served, and after dinner they all rode in procession
through the City, the two Princes heading the cavalcade, followed by
the poetic champion of the day. At the house of the new Prince they all
dismounted, and the brethren executed a dance in the street. The day
after this great feast, mass was sung at St. Helen’s for the souls of
the brotherhood. It is a pleasant glimpse of the sunnier side of the
City life. The merchants unite once a year at least—English, French,
and Germans, all alike, in friendliness; they sing, they feast, they
dance, they go to Church, and they encourage each other, all together,
in the practice of concord and harmony, brotherly help and brotherly

The postage or carriage of letters was by no means neglected, and
grew into a regular system by slow degrees. Edward IV. stationed men
every twenty miles, whose duty it was to carry despatches as fast as
they could gallop for this distance, and to hand them on to the next
man. Edward I. had messengers, who took charge of the despatches of
the Officers of State, the Constables of Castles, and the Sheriffs
of Counties. The messenger was paid at the rate of a shilling a day.
Some tenants held their land on the condition of carrying the lord’s
letters. There was a regular mail sent off by the Venetians from
London to Venice every month. It included the letters of the merchants
of both cities. Private gentlemen also sent their servants to carry
letters. In this way the Paston correspondence was carried on. If this
correspondence be taken as an average example of the letter-writing
of the time, there must have been great need of an organised postal
system. The internal trade was managed in the summer by means of long
strings of pack-horses; in the winter there was very little travelling
and no traffic. Probably messengers were sent about at least on the
King’s service, which could not be stopped, all the winter, but the
state of the roads forbade any but the most necessary travelling. Yet
they were not so bad in the fourteenth century as they were in the
seventeenth, three hundred years later.

Here are a few notes:—

It was customary after the arrest of criminals and disorderly persons,
at the dragging of a man on a hurdle, or at the putting of a man in
pillory, to precede the prisoner and his guards with music—trumpets,
pipe, and tabor. The object, of course, was to call general attention
to the culprit, and to increase the shame of his punishment.

Lovers gave and exchanged a true-love-knot; some of these knots had
four loops, for which reason the herb paris, which had four leaves set
against each other, was known as True Love.

A great feast was continued for three days, during which the company
continued to eat, drink, sing, dance, and look on at games.

It was a common practice with friends to take oaths of fraternity and
friendship one with another; sometimes even to die for each other if
the occasion should demand this proof of friendship.

Of reconstruction of the past there is no end, because something new,
which was also old, is continually turning up. See, for instance,
the cart covered with a black cloth on which is a white cross,
slowly passing down the street. The horse carries a bell which tolls
mournfully, the cart is led by a man in the livery of the Carthusian
Brothers; it contains the body of one who has died a violent death,
killed in a brawl by some rioter unknown, killed in a mad fight over
a woman—who knows? They will take the cart to Pardon Churchyard where
lie buried so many victims of the Black Death; the poor wretch will
be laid, at least, in sacred soil. Or there is the procession of the
sanctuary-man who has abjured the Kingdom; he is bare-headed and
bare-footed; he carries a wooden cross; he is led to the Bridge Gate by
the serjeants of his Ward; he has three days in which to reach Dover
and to get across the seas. And after? History knows no more. Here
is a crowd gathered round the woman set up in the shameful thew. Why
is she set there? For tampering with her measures and defrauding her
customers. The interests of beer are concerned. The crowd is justly
indignant, words of reproach and contumely greet the culprit; she hides
her face in terror and in shame. It seems a light thing to stand up
for an hour or two before the people. It is anything but light, it is
grievous, it is a lifelong disgrace; women have been known to fall
down dead in such a case, overwhelmed and heartbroken with the public

Here comes one, a City officer, clad in a tunic ornamented with death’s
heads. The grinning skulls proclaim his office. He is the Death Crier.
In his hand he carries a bell, which he rings as he walks along the
streets; at night he carries a lantern; he might walk through the
streets at any time of the day or night, for he announces the death of
some great man. “Good people,” he cries, “of your charity pray for the
soul of our dear brother ——, who departed this life at such or such an
hour.” As he passes, perhaps in the dead of night, his voice awakens
those who sleep. They arise, they open their windows, they put out
their heads, and murmur a prayer. When the King died, it was the custom
for the Death Crier to march through the streets escorted by the Guild
of Allhallows carrying crosses.

Other duties were imposed upon the officers in order to find work
enough for them to do. There was one, it seems, for every ward. They
inspected taverns and reported to the Alderman on their conduct and
management, they also watched for, and reported, houses of ill-fame,
and places which harboured disorderly persons.

Chaucer, in describing the Miller, speaks of the “goliardeys.” The
goliardus was a professional diner-out; one who earned his dinner by
telling tales, reciting verses, and making jests for the amusement
of the company. The profession is one branch of the many devoted to
making a sad world merry. The mime, the tumbler, the dancing girl, the
juggler, the Tom Fool, the singer, the musician, and the diner-out are
all members of this honourable and creditable profession.

Professor Skeat has kindly sent me the following notes on Mediæval
manners and customs, taken from a Lecture delivered before the
University Extension Conference in 1898. In one or two places they
mention matters already recited by myself. The greater part of the
notes, however, will be found to supplement my own. But the field of
Mediæval manners is absolutely inexhaustible. I would recommend the
reader to look through the learned Professor’s _Notes to Chaucer and
Piers Plowman_ for an illustration of the axiom.

It was usual, he remarks, for tradesmen’s apprentices to stand at the
shop-doors, touting for custom by means of incessant shouting. At the
door of the cook, who provided meat and drink for the hungry wayfarer,
was heard the cry—“Hote pies, hote,” _i.e._ hot pies, all hot. Or
else—“gode grys and gees,” _i.e._ good roast pigs, good roast geese.
Or—“gowe, dyne, gowe,” _i.e._ let’s go and dine. At the door of the
taverner was heard the cry—“whyte wyn of Gascoigne,” _i.e._ white wine
of Alsace, red wine of Gascony. Or else—“wyn of the Ryne,” _i.e._ wine
of the Rhine; or “wyn of Rochel,” _i.e._ wine of Rochelle; and these
wines were especially warranted to assist the digestion, as being the
correct drink to take after dining off roast meat.

One common use of bread was to feed horses and dogs with. I have often
seen a horse eat a loaf of bread in Switzerland, but never in London;
so I suppose it is not now in use here. One common name for a horse was
_Bayard_, and hence a horse-loaf was sometimes called a _Bayard’s bun_.
In the same way, I may here note that there was once a place in London
called _Bayard’s water_, _i.e._ a watering-place for horses. It is now
called _Bayswater_.

It deserves to be mentioned that there was a kind of ale particularly
known by the name of _London Ale_. As early as the time of Henry III.,
London had established a special reputation for its ale, which was
considered by good judges of drink as being of the first quality.
There is a particular allusion to it in Chaucer’s description of the
Cook. The Cook, it seems, was a good judge of liquor, hence it is said
of him—“well could he know a draught of London ale.” One of the most
noticeable and obvious characteristics of Old London was the use of
tradesmen’s signs. At the present day, we seldom see signs hung out
before any houses except inns and taverns; but it was formerly usual
for nearly every trade to exhibit a sign, and their great multitude
added considerably to the picturesque effect of nearly every street.
They were extremely conspicuous, being intended, of course, for
advertisements, and varied greatly. Sometimes they were stuck up on
posts, but these were in the way of the passengers; so it was more
usual to hang them out above the door, supported by poles or ornamental
iron-work; or, if the street was unusually narrow, they were slung
across the road. It is capable of proof that it is from this custom
that the phrase _to hang out_ originated. “Where do you hang out”
is now a colloquial phrase for “where do you live”; but the fuller
expression “where do you hang out your sign” could once have been asked
in all seriousness, and would have been understood in the same sense.
Examples are given in the New English Dictionary and in the Century
Dictionary. There are still a few survivals of the old custom. Thus
it was common for a dealer in woollen articles to hang out the Golden
Fleece; and the Golden Fleece may still be seen before shops of this
description. Another sign is well known as the barber’s pole. These
signs were so numerous, so cumbersome, and in a high wind so dangerous,
that they sometimes had to be suppressed; and we meet with enactments
that attempted to regulate their size. The most objectionable were
the ale-stakes of taverns. An ale-stake was a horizontal pole,
projecting far in front of a tavern, sometimes bearing a sign, and
almost invariably ornamented with a bunch of leaves suspended from its
extremity. This bunch was called a _bush_, and gave rise to the proverb
that “good wine needs no bush,” _i.e._ no advertisement. We find the
following ordinance in the _Liber Albus_:—

“Whereas the ale-stakes, projecting in front of taverns in East
Cheap, and elsewhere in the said City, extend too far over the King’s
highways, to the impeding of riders and others, and by reason of their
excessive weight to the great deterioration of the houses in which they
are fixed, it is enjoined that no one in future shall have a stake,
bearing either his sign or leaves (_i.e._ or a bush) extending over the
King’s highway, of greater length than seven feet at most.” Seven feet
is rather a large allowance, and affords some notion of the lengths to
which these ale-stakes had grown.

There is one famous passage in Langland which reminds us of
Shakespeare’s description of the Boar’s Head tavern in East Cheap,
where Sir John Falstaff was wont to “take his ease in his inn.” It is
a description of the company assembled in a large tavern in Cheapside
or thereabouts; a company of a very miscellaneous sort. The chief
person there is called Sir Glutton, who seems to have been just such
another as Sir John Falstaff. This Sir Glutton was on his way to church
on a certain Friday, in order to make confession; but he just called
in at the tavern as he went along. For it so happened that Beton the
brewster was standing at the tavern-door, and took occasion to mention
that she had some especially good ale for immediate consumption.
“But have you,” said he, “any hot spices to put in it?” “Yes,” said
she, “there’s pepper, and peony-seeds, and a pound of garlic, and a
farthing’s worth of fennel-seed, especially reserved for Fridays.” That
was just too much for him. In went Sir Glutton; and, it is remarked,
“great oaths went with him.” We are then introduced to the company,
which included Ciss the sempstress, Wat the gamekeeper and his wife,
who was already drunk, Tom the tinker and two of his boys, Hick the
horse-dealer, Hugh the needle-seller, Clarice of Cock Lane, and the
clerk of the church—which probably alludes to St. Peter’s Cornhill—a
certain Sir Piers, a Flemish woman named Parnel (once a common female
name), a hay-ward or hedge-warden, a hermit, the hangman of Tyburn, Daw
the diker, _i.e._ hedger and ditcher, and a dozen rascals more, made
up of porters and pick-pockets and drawers of teeth. Then there were a
minstrel and a rat-catcher, and Rose the seller of dishes; Godfrey who
sold garlic, and a Welshman named Griffin; and, to conclude all, a heap
of upholsterers or dealers in ready-made furniture.

Then the whole company looked on while Hick the horsedealer and Clement
the cobbler played at a kind of game called the _New Fair_; which was
really a kind of bartering by handicap, and constituted a mild form of
gambling. The idea was simple enough, though it led to a large amount
of dispute and wrangling before it could be satisfactorily settled.
First of all, Clement the cobbler took off his cloak and laid it on a
table or chair. Then Hick took off his hood, and laid it beside the
cloak. Then the whole business was to appraise the relative worth of
the articles, which they wholly failed to do, till they appointed
an umpire, viz. Robin the rope-maker. Robin’s decision was very
advantageous to the taverner. It was clear that the cloak was worth
more than the hood; so that some compensation was due to Clement, who
accepted the hood in exchange. So he was allowed to fill up his cup
at Hick’s expense. And it was further provided that, if either of the
parties was dissatisfied with the award, he was to be fined in a gallon
of ale; out of which gallon he was to drink the health of Sir Glutton,
who had been so good as to preside over the matter in dispute.

And so things went on, till every one grew more or less uproarious;
and we are not surprised to hear that when Sir Glutton at last rose
up, late in the evening, too late to go to church, he had already
consumed about a gallon, and a gill over; and, in crossing the floor,
he went no straighter than a blind man’s dog, which is sometimes in
front and sometimes behind. He had much difficulty in finding the door,
and finally stumbled over the threshold, unable to rise; and at last,
Clement and others had to carry him home. Then, with all the trouble
in the world, his wife and his maid got him safely into bed, and there
he slept all Saturday and all Sunday, waking up at last on the Sunday
evening. And as soon as ever he unclosed his eyes, the first word
that he said was, “Where stands the bowl?” It is some satisfaction to
know that his wife administered to him a severe rebuke, and that he
was thoroughly ashamed of himself, and promised to observe Friday,
thenceforward, as a day of abstinence and church-going. From this it
would appear that the manner of life as conducted inside a tavern
was not very different from what it is now. One of the most curious
points in Langland’s description of this company is his inclusion of
“the hangman of Tyburn.” Perhaps it is not generally known that there
were, in fact, two Tyburns. The more celebrated one is that which took
its name from the bourn or stream that was formerly called Tybourn.
The exact spot where the gallows stood was not always precisely the
same, but one position of it is denoted by a mark near the junction
of Edgware Road with Oxford Street, not far from the Marble Arch. But
there was another place of execution in Southwark, close to the St.
Thomas-a-Waterings mentioned by Chaucer in his famous Prologue; and
this place was expressly called Tyburn of Kent, to prevent mistakes.

In one passage, Langland alludes to what was then known as “the benefit
of clergy.” This is a phrase which I strongly suspect has frequently
been misunderstood; at any rate, to the modern ear, it is extremely
misleading. It sounds as if it meant that the attendance of a clergyman
might benefit the condemned criminal; but it means nothing of the kind.
The word _clergy_ had formerly two distinct meanings; or, strictly
speaking, there were two distinct words which came to be sounded
alike. One of these, referring to the clerical order, is still in
common use; the other, meaning “clerkship, scholarship, or learning,”
is practically obsolete. In old law, it meant “ability to read”; and
at a time when such ability was uncommon, it was permissible, in the
case of some misdeeds, that the criminal should claim his privilege
of scholarship, if it was his first offence. If he could prove his
ability to read, he could claim exemption from capital punishment.
The person who examined the criminal—perhaps we may call him “the
examiner”—usually selected one of the Latin psalms as the subject; very
often it was the fifty-first psalm beginning with the words _Miserere
mei, Deus_; or sometimes he pointed to the fifth verse of the sixteenth
psalm, _Dominus pars hereditatis mee_. It is to be suspected that some
of the thieves carefully learned these Latin verses by heart before
they stole a purse: a practice of which we never hear at the present
day. Langland’s praise of the benefits of a good education is surely
remarkable, and such as we are by no means accustomed to. “Well
may the child bless the man who set him to learn books. Familiarity
with literature has often saved a man, body and soul. _Dominus pars
hereditatis mee_ is a pleasant verse; it has been known to save from
Tyburn some twenty strong thieves. When ignorant thieves are made to
dangle, just see how the learned ones are saved!”



London has always been a City renowned for the great plenty and
excellence of its food. In the twelfth century Fitz Stephen vaunts the
cook-shops. He says, “There is also in London on the bank of the river,
amongst the wine shops which are kept in shops and cellars, a public
eating house. There are to be found, according to the season, every
day, dishes of meat, roast, fried, and boiled, great and small fish,
coarser meats for the poor, more delicate for the rich, of game, fowls,
and small birds.” These cook-shops were principally stationed in Thames
Street and East Chepe.

The Londoner had two meals a day. For the nobility, dinner at eleven
and supper at five. For the merchants, dinner at twelve, supper at six.
Cookery books in manuscript have come down to us from the fourteenth
century, and a great many menus of feasts have been preserved. So
it is quite easy to understand how the King and the great lords
lived, but it is not so easy to understand the ordinary fare of the
well-to-do citizen and the craftsman. Before presenting the menu let
us speak of certain dinner customs. The tables were movable; they
were laid on trestles; they were covered with white cloths. Before
every man was a wooden platter or a “roundel.” The roundel was a
circular wooden platter, one side of which was covered with a black
ground on which were inscribed certain verses in gilt letters within
a circle formed by a broad band of white and a narrow band of gold.
In the inner circle was a figure of some kind, and generally each
roundel was one of a series representing a group of figures. Thus in
_Archæologia_, vol. xxxiv., may be found the figures and verses of
nine such roundels out of a set of twelve. They belong to the time
of Elizabeth or James I.; that is to say, later than that we are now
considering. Each figure represents some calling or trade. Thus, there
are the Courtier, the Divine, the Soldier, the Lawyer, the Merchant,
the Gentleman, the Bachelor, the Wife, the Widow, nine in all. Three
are lost. It is suggested that these platters were used for fruit. But
surely fruit would speedily have stained the figures. May they not have
been intended for bread, which would not spoil a trencher? But it is
possible also that they were only used for ornaments.

For the King or for any great lord there was the taster, to prevent the
danger of poison; and the fool or jester sat or stood near the King and
made him laugh—a feat, at times, of considerable difficulty.

As for the provisions at the banquet, here are two menus, both of the
fourteenth century; they belong to great feasts, the kind of feast
which would last for perhaps three days:—


  Browet farsed, and charlet, for pottage.
  Baked mallard. Teals. Small birds. Almond milk served with them.
  Capon roasted with the syrup.
  Roasted veal. Pig roasted “endored, and served with the yoke on his
    neck over gilt.” Herons.
  A leche. A tart of flesh.


  Browet of Almayne and Viaunde rial, for pottage.
  Mallard. Roasted rabbits. Pheasant. Venison.
  Jelly. A leche. Urchynnes (hedgehogs).
  Pome de orynge.


  Boar in egurdouce, and Mawmené, for pottage.
  Cranes. Kid. Curlew. Partridge. (All roasted.)
  A leche. A custarde.
  A peacock endored and roasted and served with the skin.
  Cockagris. Flaumpoyntes. Daryoles.
  Pears in syrup.

 FIRST COURSE.—Brawn with mustard; cabbages in pottage; swan standard;
 cony, roasted; great custards.

 SECOND COURSE.—Venison, in broth, with white mottrews; cony standard;
 partridges, with cocks, roasted; leche lombard; doucettes, with little

 THIRD COURSE.—Pears in syrop; great birds with little ones together;
 fritters; payn puff, with a cold bake-meat.

 [A few notes are necessary to elucidate the above menu:—Browet was a
 soup or broth made from boiled meat; Cockagris was a peculiar dish
 consisting of an old cock and a pig cooked together; Doucettes were
 sweet dishes; Flaumpoyntes were ornamented tarts; and to endore
 anything was to glaze it with yolk of egg.—ED.]

It will be remarked that there is no mention here of plain beef or
mutton. These did not belong to a feast. They are, however, mentioned
in plainer bills of fare. The endeavour of the cook was to serve made
dishes highly seasoned and spiced. Wright, for instance, explains
some of the receipts by which it will be seen that our forefathers
were luxurious in their food, if not gross. Everything also points
to the fact that they were very large eaters. The open-air life led
by the better class, the riding and exercise, the very scanty use of
vegetables,—all these contributed to make them ready for the trencher.

At every course of a great banquet the cook sent up a “subtlety”—which
was a composition in pastry, the last survival of which was the
ornamental castle in sponge cake which used to occupy the middle of the
table at a dinner party. These “subtleties” were sometimes elaborate
and artistic groups with figures of animals—such as a boar, hart,
or sheep. In John Russell’s _Boke of Nurture_ are presented several
“subteltis.” Thus at his “Dinner of Flesche” for the first course—

    “And then a Sotelte.
    Maydon Mary that holy Virgyne;
    And Gabrille gretynge her with an Ave.”

For the second course—

          “A sotelte folowynge in fere,
      The course for to fullfylle
      An angell goodly can appere,
        And syngynge with a mery chere
    Unto iij shepherdes uppon an hille.”

And for the third course—
          “Soteltes fulle soleym:
      That Lady that conseuyd by the Holy Ghost
    Hym that destroyed the fendes boost
      Presented pleasantly by the Kinges of Coleyn.”[8]

      [8] Cologne.

Chaucer alludes to the extravagances of “soteltes” in the Parson’s
Tale:—“Pryde of the table apereth eeke ful ofte: for certes, riche
men bene cleped in feestes and poure folk ben putte away and rebuked.
Also in excesse of dyverse metes and drynkes: and namely suche manere
bake metes and dish metes: brennenge of wilde fyr and peynted and
castellated with papir and scurblable wast: so that it is abusive for
to thinke.”


From MS. in British Museum. Royal E4.]

The people of mediæval times loved everything to be sweet, as is shown
above in their pouring a sweet sauce over their birds, and honey
over their meat; they also sweetened their wine. Each course, which
consisted of three or more dishes for an ordinary dinner, was a dinner
in itself, containing fish, flesh, fowl, and sweets. For instance, at a
certain dinner there were two courses only, but of eight or nine dishes
to each course; thus we have in the first course, lamprey, codling,
shoulder of mutton, chicken, wild goose, wood dove, worts (vegetable)
and “tortous” in paste. In the second we have eels, sea horse, lamb,
mallard, quail, goldfinch, and “pynnondde”; but there was an interval
between each course. As we shall see immediately, table manners were
carefully taught and insisted upon. One curious regulation was that
cooks were forbidden to go out of the City in order to meet victuals
coming in, so that they might get them more cheaply than in the open
market. The Mayor also took account of the deceitful ways of certain
pastelers or piebakers, who dared to put giblets and rabbits into
their pies, and to sell beef pies for venison pies. And the sale of
meat that was putrid was punished by pillory, while the meat itself
was burned under the offender’s nose. The great City merchant fed
as well as the King, and sometimes entertained the King quite royally.
The humbler man, the well-to-do burgher, and even the craftsman, there
is every reason to believe, fared well and plentifully: they lived on
beef and mutton, meat pies, pork, capons, wild birds, and sea fish.
The wild birds were brought up in great quantities from the counties
of Essex and Suffolk; there was a plentiful supply of fish; from all
the country round along every track that they called a highway, down
the rivers—the Thames, the Brent, the Wandle, the Fleet, the Lea, the
Ravensbourne, came boats and barges laden with farm produce. The City
was well supplied; and there was seldom any dearth. As for the food of
the middle classes—the better sort—was not the Company at the Tabard
chiefly composed of the middle class? Among them was the Cook. What did
he cook for them?

    “A cook they hadde with them for the nones,
    To boil the chicken and the marrow bones,
    And poudre marchant tart, and galingale
    Well could he know a draught of London ale.
    He could roast and seethe and broil and fry,
    Maken mortrewes and well bake a pie.
           *       *       *       *       *
    For blank manger that made he with the best.”

“‘Blank manger’ is a compound of capon minced, with rice, milk, sugar
and almonds. ‘Poudre marchant tart’ is a sharp kind of flavouring
powder stewed with meat. Galingale is the root of the sweet cyprus, now
no longer used. It is said to have an aromatic smell and a hot, biting

Of ‘mortrewes’ there were two kinds, ‘mortrewes de char’ and ‘mortrewes
of fysshe.’ The first was a kind of soup in which chicken, fresh pork,
bread crumbs, yolks of eggs, and saffron formed the chief ingredients.
The second kind was a soup containing the roe (or milt) and liver of
fish, bread, pepper, and ale. The ingredients were first brazed in a
mortar, whence their name.” (Skeat, _Notes to Canterbury Tales_.)

For a mixed company which contained—all together—craftsmen, retailers,
merchants, sailors, ecclesiastics, squires, and knights, the kind of
food here indicated is generous, at least.

If, however, we study the list of creatures killed for one of the
huge feasts in which the people took delight we arrive at a clearer
understanding of the kind of food that could be bought by those who
could afford it. Of animals we find wild bulls (!), oxen, sheep,
calves, swine, kids, stags, bucks, and does. Of birds there are plover,
quail, “rees” (query, ruffs and reeves?), peacock, mallard, swan, teal,
crane, chicken, pigeon, bittern, heron, pheasant, partridge, woodcock,
curlew, egrette. Of fish, pike, bream, porpoise, seal. Jellies, tarts,
custards, and sugared spices sweetened the magnificent feast. In
the account of another meal which took place on a fast day, we find
the following:—Of fish: ling, cod, salmon, fresh and salted, white
herring, red herring, sturgeon, eel, salt and fresh, whelk, pike,
tench, carp, bream, lamprey, fresh and salt, conger, roach, seal, and
porpoise. And in other menus we find entries of magpie, rook, jackdaw,
thrush, starling, linnet, sparrow, heathcock, cormorant, sheldrake,
wildfowl, lark. The crane plays a considerable part in mediæval
feasting. On one occasion when ambassadors arrived from France, the
City gave them, among other things, twelve cranes and twelve pheasants.
At the enthronisation feast of the Archbishop of York (6 Ed. IV.) there
were provided 204 cranes, 204 bitterns, and 400 heron-shaws. At a feast
of Richard II. we find the following as the second course:—

  Pigges rosted
  Cranes rosted
  Fesaunts rosted
  Herne rosted

Cranes lived in damp and marshy places, as did also egrettes, a kind
of heron; the country was covered with such places; so that they were
doubtless common. Since 204 cranes could have been trapped or caught or
shot with bow or with sling, for a single feast, they must have been
quite common.

In a word, the people trapped, killed, and devoured all birds great and
small. Hares and rabbits, of course, were served at table; and perhaps,
no less daintily, the squirrel and hedgehog.

Of vegetables and herbs there was a considerable variety, such as
garlic, sage, parsley, ditany, wild thyme, onions, leeks, beans,
peas, etc. The table, generally laid on trestles, was spread with
a white cloth, the cleanliness of which was a matter of pride. The
dinner scenes presented in MSS. of the time show a service of a very
simple character. The Royal or noble party are seated upon what
appears to be a bench without a back. Minstrels made music during the
feast, especially between the courses; jugglers, acrobats, or dancers
performed after dinner. The principal ornament of the table was the
_nef_, a silver vessel in the form of a ship which stood before the
King or lord, and contained the salt and the King’s towel. The meat,
carved by a carver at a side table, was laid upon thick slices of bread
which received the gravy. Each guest brought his own knife. Before and
after dinner every one washed their hands. The ale and wine went round
in horns and drinking cups. Every guest had his napkin, the conduct
of which is carefully laid down in the _Babees Book_. The floor was
spread with rushes, which were by no means too clean or fresh. The
old custom of laying straw in coaches and omnibuses may remind us
of such a carpet. When the guest had done with the bones, he threw
them on the floor for the dogs, if they chose; he did the same with
the uneaten scraps. As for forks there were none. Edward I., it is
recorded, possessed one. Gaveston luxuriously ate pears with the help
of a fork—he had four. The Duke of Burgundy at the same time had
one. During dinner the minstrels played in the gallery. It has been
stated that bread was used for plates. The word “trencher” is derived
from this custom. It was not the best bread that was so used, but a
second quality baked for the purpose. The loaf was first pared to get
rid of the crusts, and then cut into “tranchoirs” or “trenchers,” _i.e._
into thick slices. The parings went into the alms dish. Thus (_Boke of
Curtasye_, edited by F. J. Furnivall) the Almoner said grace—

    “The aumener by this hathe sayde grace,
    And the almes dysshe hathe sett in place,
    Therein the carver a lofe schalle sette,
    To serve God fyrst withouten lette:
    These othere lofes he parys aboute,
    Lays hit myd dysshe, withouten doute.”

They were dainty in the matter of bread. The commoner kinds were
known as “tourte,” “his,” or “trete” and white. The finer kinds
were “simnel,” “painman,” or “payn de main,” _i.e._ _panis domini_,
from the figure of our Lord stamped upon it; and manchet. The finer
kinds were not allowed to be made in Lent. The kinds called “pouffe”
and “Fraunceise” seem to have been the same as the “simnel” and the
manchet. The bread of the working classes was of oats, of rye, of beans
and bran, or of beans and acorns.

Among river fish and fish of ponds or stews, carp was extremely scarce.
Dame Juliana Berners, in her _Book of St. Alban’s_, says, “And of
the carp that it is a deyntous fyssche, but there ben but fewe in
Englande.” It is said to have been naturalised by one Leonard Mascal in
Sussex about the year 1514.

    “Hops and turkeys, carp and beer,
    Came into England all in a year.”

This is not true so far as the hop is concerned, for it seems to have
been introduced by Edward I. Wine was made in England down to the
fifteenth century. The Vale of Gloucester produced the finest wine,
which was said to be in no way inferior to the wine of Gascony. Richard
II. planted vines at Windsor, and made a large quantity of wine, some
of which was sold, and the rest used by the Court. The reason why this
industry fell into disuse was the discovery that wine could be imported
from Bordeaux cheaper and better than it could be made at home.

London has always been well supplied with taverns and drinking-places;
its people have never taken kindly to ways of temperance. We must,
however, distinguish between an inn and a tavern. At first the
inn—hostel, hostelry—was a lodging-house only; it received the
traveller and gave him a room, but not much else; and, as we have seen,
after one day and night the hosteller must become responsible for his
guest unless he could get special license from the authorities. The
visitor was not allowed to carry a sword or any weapon, or to wear
armour in the City boundaries; and he must not go about the streets
after curfew; also he must buy his food, bread and beer, and meat and
wine, from the dealer, and not from the hosteller.

When the inn became a house that supplied food and drink to the guest I
know not, yet in Stow’s time it would seem that it did so. The point to
remember, however, is that the inn was not a tavern or an eating-house.

Of taverns Stow mentions some, as the “Pope’s Head” and the “Cardinal’s
Hat” in Cornhill Ward; certain “tippling” houses in Mountgodard Street,
and others. The ale-house and the tavern which proclaimed their trade
by the “ale-stake” had often the extra adornment of a garland or
hoop. The garland was decorated with ribbons, and was attached to the
“ale-stake” with the “bush” of ivy leaves, which dangled from the pole
before every tavern. We have seen what is said in _Liber Albus_ as to
the regulation length of the pole. The signs of the taverns were not at
first different from other trade signs; there were the Swan, the Bull,
the Dog, the Boar’s Head, and so forth. But this practice of hanging
out a garland in addition to the old sign caused the names of tavern
signs to undergo change: thus, the Swan became the Swan on the Hoop;
the Star became the Star on the Hoop. Riley enumerates many of these
signs: thus Hugh atte Cocke, Thomas atte Red Door, Walter atte Gote,
John atte Belle, the Catfethele (Cat and Fiddle), the Lion atte Dore,
Le Sonner, Le Mone, and others.

For drink, the common and national drink was ale, of which the people
consumed immense quantities. It seems to have been served out to any
member of the household in any reasonable quantity whenever he asked
for it. Of course there were no hot drinks such as tea and coffee,
although herbs were often infused with hot water for medicine. The
principal wines were red wine from Bordeaux, white wine from Bordeaux,
also from the Rhine, strong wine from Spain, Portugal, Tuscany,
Sicily, Cyprus, Gaza. There were also cider, perry, mead, and strong
ale—anything but water, and many drinks were compounded. Thus the
people made “Claré,” “Bragot,” “Hippocras,” the receipts for which are
given in Skeat’s _Chaucer_.[9] Thus to make claré, “Take a galoun of
honi, and skome (skim) it wel, and loke whanne it is isoden (boiled),
that ther be a galoun; thanne take viii galouns of red wyn, than take
a pound of pouder canel (cinnamon) and half a pounde of pouder gynger
and a quarter of a pounde of pouder pepper, and medle (mix) alle these
thynges togeder and (with) the wyn; and do hym in a clene barelle, and
stoppe it fast, and rolle it well ofte sithes, as men don verious 3

  [9] _Knightes Tale_, p. 177, quotation from Sloan MS.

In the fifteenth century home-brewed beer cost 1½d. a gallon. Since
beer is now 16d. a gallon, the inference would be that money then
could buy thirteen times as much as at present. But this inference, as
I shall show presently, would not be sound. Wine cost 8d. or 12d. a
gallon. Good wine can hardly be had now under 15s. a gallon or 30s. a
dozen. It would not, however, be fair to conclude that money then would
buy twenty times as much as it does now.

[Illustration: A BANQUET

From Strutt’s _Manners and Customs_.]

In considering the food of the people we must be reminded that a large
part of every year consisted of those days on which neither meat,
eggs, butter, nor milk could be eaten, and only one meal a day was to
be taken; and of those days on which meat was forbidden. There were
one hundred and ten days in the year, nearly one in three, on which
a strict churchman would not eat meat, and of these there were more
than sixty days on which he was allowed only one meal a day, and that
without meat, butter, eggs, or milk. It is not to be supposed that the
great mass of the people obeyed so rigid a rule: the work of the world,
at least in the case of everything that demands activity of brain or
strength of arm, would come to an end. Such a rule is only for a
company of monks; but it is very certain that Lent and Fridays were
observed with the greatest strictness so far as concerned abstinence
from meat. No butchers’ stalls were opened; no cooks’ shops served meat
to their customers. Dispensations and indulgences were granted, but the
broad fact remains that in Lent and on Fridays no meat could be bought
or sold, and none was used. Fish was thus a very important constituent
in the food-supply; and the price of fish, which the Companies for the
most part regulated by themselves for their own profit, was continually
the subject of complaint and even of riots. Leprosy, it was commonly
held, was caused by eating salted fish after it had become putrid or

The following sorts of fish were salted: cod, salmon, conger, ling,
brake, sturgeon, herring, pilchard, sprats, and eels; while perch,
tench, bream, grayling, eels, and trout were caught for food. Carp and
pike were considered delicacies. The great houses had fish-ponds or
stews. Sea fish were baked in pies to enable them to be carried inland.
(See also _London in the Time of the Tudors_, pp. 127, 152.)

There were many markets for food in London. The names of most of them
have been preserved by the name of the street. Of the instances in
the case of the streets running out of Chepe we have already spoken.
Certain commodities are still associated with certain localities; fish
has always been sold at Billingsgate, cattle and horses at Smithfield,
and butchers’ meat in Newgate Street. The great market on the south
side of Chepe was given up to mercers, tailors, drapers, armourers,
saddlers—all trades unconnected with food.

The food of the country people, according to Piers Plowman, consisted
almost entirely of vegetable produce. “I have no money,” says Piers,
“to buy pullets, geese, or pigs.” He had two green cheeses, a few
curds and cream, an oat-cake and two loaves of beans and bran for
the children. He says that he has no salt bacon, but he has parsley,
leeks, and cabbages. The peasants ate, besides, peascods, beans, leeks,
onions, chervils, and such fruit as grew wild; but they had no meat, or
fish, wheaten or barley bread, no wine or beer.

This was in the country, where life was truly grievous. In the town,
according to the same authority, there was a very different scene.
Here, among the crowd of craftsmen of all kinds, cooks and their valets
cried out all day, “Hot pies, hot! Good pigs and geese! Come and dine!
come and dine!” While the taverner bawled, “White wine of Alsace! Red
wine of Gascony! Wine of the Rhine! Wine of Rochelle!”

And he paints a tavern scene at which Clement the cobbler sells his
cloak, and Hick the hackney man his hood, and they spend the money in

“Cis the shoemaker sat on the bench, Wat the warrener and his wife
also, Tim the tinker and two of his prentices, Hick the hackney man,
and Hugh the needle-seller, Clarice of Cock Lane, and the clerk of the
church, Daw the ditcher, and a dozen others, Sir Piers of Pridie and
Pernel of Flanders, a fiddle-player, a ratter, a sweeper of Cheap,
a rope-maker, a riding-man, and Rose the dish-maker, Godfrey of
Garlickhithe, and Griffin the Welshman, and many old-clothesmen.”

In 1412 Henry instructed the Mayor to obtain a return of the land
and tenements held in the City and suburbs for purposes of taxation.
The return professed to be incomplete, but the details (see Sharpe’s
_London and the Kingdom_) are instructive. The gross rental of London
was set down at £4120; that of the Mayor and Corporation at £150: 9:
11. The Bridge Estate was worth £148: 15: 3. Private property in the
City showed that Robert Chichele, the Mayor, owned houses returning
£42: 19: 2, and Whittington owned houses returning £25. Of course this
rental in no way represents the whole property of either. Attempts have
been made to use old rentals in order to ascertain the comparative
value of money. It is, however, an absolute impossibility to estimate
in this, or in any other way, the true value of money at any date. It
is almost waste of time to attempt any comparison with the present
day unless we know—which we can never learn—the standards of comfort
and the way of life in every rank and every class. For instance, as
we have seen, a noble lord, who owned hundreds of manors, kept up a
great state with a huge following who lived upon him. He neither saved
money nor tried to save money; his estates produced an income regular
and large; he spent all; what was over was given in charity or to the
Church; he emptied his coffers as fast as they were replenished. The
merchant, who lived in luxury, had to save because his way of life
was precarious. The retailer for the same reason—the uncertainty of
trade—was compelled, by the ordinary rules of prudence, to live within
his income. The craftsman, on the other hand, was like the noble lord
in one respect—that he never saw or felt the necessity of saving money;
he was always, as he is still, removed from starvation by one week’s
wages. The position, the wages of the craftsman can only, therefore, be
understood if we know how he was accustomed to live and how he wished
to live, the amount of meat, bread, and beer he consumed.

Then, again, the prices which are quoted are always those of
regulation. When provisions began to be dear the Mayor and Aldermen
made laws as to the market price. They returned again and again to
this method. When, as sometimes happened, the high prices were caused
by the greed of traders, or by any kind of combination, this method
answered very well. For instance, there were continual complaints of
the fishmongers’ exorbitant charges,—perhaps they were not really
exorbitant,—but at any rate regulations were passed, accordingly,
ordering the price of fish. These regulations answered roughly for a
little while, and were then forgotten and disregarded. What was the use
of ordering the fishmonger to sell his “best” smelts at a penny the
hundred, if the supply were limited and the demand excessive? The right
of the Mayor and Aldermen to regulate the price at which anything was
to be sold was never questioned; but, like many other mediæval rights,
it could never be enforced for lack of a police. In the year 1300, for
instance, without any apparent pressure of scarcity, the Mayor issued
regulations as to the price of all provisions, but those for birds
alone are preserved.

Again, it helps one very little or not at all in the estimate of money
and its value, to know the market price of things, unless we know also
whether the said commodities were at the time necessaries or luxuries,
whether they were abundant or scarce. Thus a pheasant was to be sold at
fourpence. Who bought pheasants? Were they scarce or plentiful? Again,
the following table drawn up by Dugdale is often quoted to show the
purchasing power of money in the year 1300:—

  A quarter of Wheat            4s.
  A quarter of Ground Malt      3s. 4d.
  A quarter of Pease            2s. 4d.
  A Bull                        7s. 6d.
  A Cow                         6s.
  A Fat Mutton                  1s.
  An Ewe Sheep                  0s. 8d.
  A Capon                       0s. 2d.
  A Cock or Hen                 0s. 1½d.

We know that a quarter of wheat costs at the present moment so much,
and we may, if we please, compare modern prices with mediæval prices
of wheat, but that helps us little, because we all eat wheaten bread
now, and formerly the common people did not. The value of money must
depend, not on prices alone, but, as I have said, also on the standard
of living, on wages, on hours of work, on the cost of things, on plenty
and scarcity, on taxation, and on many other considerations.

Thus, in the year 1314, corn being scarce, and provisions dear,
the King, with the consent of his Parliament, fixed the price of
provisions. Comparing the King’s prices of 1314 with the Lord Mayor’s
of 1300, it is plain that scarcity had raised the price considerably.
“If any person,” says the Proclamation, “will not sell the saleable
things for the price appointed as hereinbefore set forth, then the
said saleable thing shall remain forfeited to us. And we will that the
aforesaid ordinances from this time be firmly and inviolably observed
in our said City.” So that the Parliament of the year 1314 actually
believed that they could fix the prices of provisions so that they
should remain fixed! That an attempt was made seriously to carry out
this law is apparent from a Brief of two years after, in which the
King says, referring to the unlucky law of 1314, “Because we have
understood that such a Proclamation, which at that time we believed
would be to the Profit of the People of our Realm, redounds to their
greater damage than profit, we command you that in the said several
places ye cause publicly to be proclaimed that Oxen, Cows, Sheep, Hogs,
Geese, Capons, Hens, Chickens, Young Pigeons and Eggs, be sold for a
reasonable price as was accustomed to be done before the said former

The knowledge of what was commonly paid for rent is some help towards
understanding the value of money, but not much. There must be left over
and above the rent, for the tenant, enough for him and his family to
live upon. We are also helped by the endowments of Chantries. A Chantry
priest was expected to live upon an endowment varying generally from
£5 to £7 a year. The priest was an able-bodied man, raised above the
lowest class—to which he often belonged by birth—and he looked for a
certain standard of comfort. He had to live, say, on six pounds a year,
which is about 2s. 4d. a week, or 4d. a day. It may also be noted that
a young woman of the better sort was supposed to cost 8d. a week for
her board. Comparing this allowance with the prices ordered by the
Mayor at any time within two hundred years, it will be found that a
man could live very well on 4d. a day. This would go a long way when a
whole sheep cost a shilling, and a quarter of wheat 4s. If we suppose
that a craftsman lived at two-thirds the cost of a priest, and that he
had a wife and four children, we obtain the following estimate:—

  The craftsman per annum       £4 0 0
  His wife                       2 0 0
  His four children              4 0 0
                               £10 0 0

He would, therefore, want a wage of four shillings a week or 8d. a day.
Now the wages given to the workmen at St. Stephen’s Chapel in 1358 are
preserved in the Account Rolls of Edward III. Some of them, enough
for our purpose, are extracted in Britton and Bayley’s _History of
Westminster Palace_ (p. 174). The wages varied. Eighteenpence a day was
paid to Master Edmund Canon, stone-cutter, one shilling a day to Hugh
the painter, 10d. a day to C. Pokerick, 8d. a day to W. Lincoln and W.
Somervile, 6d. a day to W. Heston, 4½d., and even 4d., a day to J.
York and W. Cambridge.

The craftsman, therefore, who had a family to keep was paid from 4d.
to 8d. a day. His standard of living must have been considerably lower
than that of the priest, who obtained the same allowance in money, but
had no family to bring up.

In a word, if we assume, what we have no right to assume, that a
clergyman of the present day has the same standard of living as the
priest of the fourteenth century, and, when unmarried, lives in the
same style, that is to say, without giving away money in charity,
without buying books, without having a club, without travelling, living
quite plainly, he could manage on about £80 a year compared with the
priest’s £6 or £7, so that money in the fourteenth century was worth
about twelve times what it would purchase at the present day. But that
theory breaks down when we consider that a sheep could be bought for
a shilling, and a cock or hen for 1½d., because at the present
day a sheep cannot be bought for twelve shillings, and a cock or hen
for eighteenpence. So that it comes to what I said above, that it is
perfectly impossible to ascertain the value of money in the fourteenth
or any other century compared with this, unless we know a great
quantity of things which we can never ascertain.

Into the subject of dress we cannot venture, if only for the reason
that the fashions changed then as now, and nearly as often. Some
attempt was made at sumptuary laws, but without effect, for the simple
reason that every woman will always, in every age, despite any laws
to the contrary, dress herself as well as her means allows, and that
with men splendour of dress was then accepted as a proof of success and
wealth. Their fashions were on the whole far more beautiful than those
of modern days, and not more absurd.



As regards the sports and pastimes of the City, there is cockfighting
on Shrove Tuesday, with hockey. Every Friday in Lent there are
tournaments with “disarmed” lances; when Easter has made the river a
little less inclement there will be water sports, tilting in boats,
etc.; in the summer the young men leap, dance, shoot, wrestle, cast the
stone, practise their shields, play at quarter-staff, single-stick,
football and bucklers; the maidens play their timbrels and dance as
long as they can see. In spring boars, bulls, badgers, and even horses
are baited; when the water is frozen over the young men slide and skate
on bones, particularly on the marshy ground at Moorfields and behind
Bankside; many of the citizens keep hawks and hounds, “for they have
liberty of hunting in Middlesex, Hertfordshire, all Chiltern, and in
Kent to the water of Cray.” Fitz Stephen’s description of London in the
reign of Henry II. tells us this and much else; it is repeated by Stow,
who says that with the exception of the tilting on horseback these
sports were continued to his day. He then enumerates the sports and
pastimes belonging to every successive season of the year:—

 “First in the feast of Christmas, there was in the King’s house,
 wheresoever he was lodged, a lord of misrule or master of merry
 disports, and the like had ye in the house of every nobleman of honour
 or good worship, were he spiritual or temporal. Amongst the which
 the Mayor of London, and either of the sheriffs, had their several
 lords of misrule, ever contending, without quarrel or offence, who
 should make the rarest pastimes to delight the beholders. These lords
 beginning their rule on Allhallon Eve, continued the same till the
 morrow after the Feast of the Purification, commonly called Candlemas
 Day. In all which space there was fine and subtle disguisings, masks,
 and mummeries, with playing at cards for counters nails, and points,
 in every house, more for pastime than for gain.

 Against the feast of Christmas every man’s house, as also the parish
 churches, were decked with holm, ivy, bays, and whatsoever the season
 of the year afforded to be green. The conduits and standards in the
 streets were likewise garnished; amongst the which I read, in the
 year 1444, that by tempest of thunder and lightning, on the first of
 February at night, Paule’s Steeple was fired, but with great labour
 quenched; and towards the morning of Candlemas Day at the Leadenhall
 in Cornhill, a standard of tree was being set up in the midst of the
 pavement, fast in the ground, nailed full of holm and ivy, for disport
 of Christmas to the people, was torn up and cast down by the malignant
 spirit (as was thought) and the stones of the pavement all about were
 cast in the streets, and into divers houses, so that the people were
 sore aghast of the great tempests.

 In the week before Easter had ye great shows made for the fetching in
 of a twisted tree, or with, as they termed it, out of the woods into
 the King’s house; and the like into every man’s house of honour or

 In the month of May, namely, on May-day in the morning, every man,
 except impediment, would walk into the sweet meadows and green woods,
 there to rejoice their spirits with the beauty and savour of sweet
 flowers, and with the harmony of birds, praising God in their kind;
 and for example hereof Edward Hall hath noted, that King Henry VIII.,
 as in the 3rd of his reign and divers other years, so namely in the
 7th of his reign, on May-day in the morning, with Queen Katherine
 his wife, accompanied by many lords and ladies, rode a-maying from
 Greenwich to the high ground of Shooter’s Hill, where, as they
 passed by the way, they espied a company of tall yeomen, clothed all
 in green, with green hoods, and bows and arrows, to the number of
 two hundred; one being their chieftain, was called Robin Hood, who
 required the King and his company to stay and see his men shoot;
 whereunto the King granting, Robin Hood whistled, and all the two
 hundred archers shot off, loosing all at once; and when he whistled
 again they likewise shot again; their arrows whistled by craft of the
 head, so that the noise was strange and loud, which greatly delighted
 the King, Queen, and their company. Moreover, this Robin Hood desired
 the King and Queen, with their retinue, to enter the greenwood, where,
 in harbours made of boughs and decked with flowers, they were set and
 served plentifully with venison and wine by Robin Hood and his men, to
 their great contentment, and had other pageants and pastimes, as ye
 may read in my said author.

 I find also, that in the month of May, the citizens of London of
 all estates, lightly in every parish, or sometimes two or three
 parishes joining together, had their several mayings, and did fetch
 in maypoles, with divers warlike shows, with good archers, morris
 dancers, and other devices, for pastime all the day long; and toward
 the evening they had stage plays and bonfires in the streets.” (Stow’s

Stow mentions the Lord of Misrule, but he hardly assigns sufficient
importance to this functionary. The great event of the Christmas
holidays were the masques, mummings, and frolics prepared and played
by the Lord of Misrule, or the Master of the Revels, not only at
Court, but in every great house in the country. During his tenure of
office the Lord of Misrule was treated with all the deference and
state that belonged to the King. He had his Lord Keeper, Treasurer,
and body-guard; his chaplains preached before him, bowing low as they
entered the pulpit; his Master of Requests received petitions for him;
he conferred knighthood; had his favourites, and was permitted to
spend his money freely. At every one of the Inns of Court they had at
Christmas a Lord of Misrule.

The Lord of Misrule in the year 1551 was one George Ferrers, who gave
great satisfaction not only to the King, but also to the City. For that
year his style was “Master of the King’s Pastimes.” Stow says:—

 “Mr. Ferrers being lord of the merrie disportes all the twelve days,
 so pleasantly and wisely behaved himself, that the King had great
 delight in his pastimes. On Monday the 4th of January, he came by
 water to London, and landed at the Tower wharf, entered the Tower,
 and then rode through Tower street, where he was received by Serjeant
 Vawce, Lord of Misrule to John Mainard, one of the Sheriffs of London,
 and so was conducted through the City, with a great company of young
 lords and gentlemen, to the house of Sir Geo. Barne, Lord Mayor,
 where he with the chief of his company dined, and afterwards had a
 great banket, and at his departure the Lord Mayor gave him a standing
 cup with a cover of silver gilt, of the value of ten pounds, for a
 reward; he also set a hogshead of wine and a barrell of beer at his
 gate for his train that followed him; the rest of his gentlemen and
 servants dined at other Aldermen’s houses and with the Sheriffs, and
 so departed to the Tower wharfe again, and to the Court by water, to
 the great commendation of the Mayor and Aldermen, and highly accepted
 of the King and Counsaille.” (_Archæeologia_, vol. xviii.)

Some of the bills and charges for the masques and plays presented
by Ferrers remain to show the kind of entertainment provided. There
were, for instance, four challengers and twenty horses properly
apparelled. The Lord of Misrule was attended by his heir, his other
sons, his base sons, counsellors, pages of honour, gentlemen ushers,
serjeants-at-arms, a provost marshal, heralds, trumpeters, and an
orator, a jailer, a footman, jugglers, Irishmen, and fools. The masque
was the Triumph of Mars and Venus; there were jousts and tournaments;
there were mock courts of justice, with a pillory, stocks, and sham
executions. The whole show was magnificently mounted, as appears from
the following bill for dressing the Lord of Misrule himself:—

 “For Christmas day and that week, the Lord of Misrule himself had a
 robe of white bawdekyn, containing nine yards at 16s. a yard, garded
 with a great embroidered gard of cloth of gold, wrought in knots,
 fourteen yards, at 13s. 4d. a yard, having a fur of red feathers, with
 a cape of chamblet thrum. A coat of flat silver fine with works, five
 yards at 50 shillings, with an embroidered gard of leaves of gold
 and silk coloured, containing fifteen yards at 20 shillings. A cap
 of maintenance of red feathers and chamblett thrum, very rich, with a
 plume of feathers. A pair of hosen, the breeches made of a garde of
 cloth of gold imbroidered in paynes, nine yards of gardind at 13s. 4d.
 lined with silver sarsnet, one ell at 8 shillings. A pair of buskins
 of white bawdekyn, one yard, at 16 shillings. A pair of pantacles of
 brydges [? Bruges] sattin, 3s. 4d. A girdle of yellow sarsnet, 16d.
 The cost £51: 17: 4.” (_Archæeologia_, vol. xviii.)

But there are other details not yet mentioned. The year’s sports very
properly began with the New Year’s gifts.

    “These giftes the husband gives his wife and father eke the child,
    And master on his men bestows the like with favour mild;
    And good beginning of the year they wish and wish again,
    According to the ancient guise of heathen people vain.
    Then eight days no man doth require his debts of any man,
    Their tables do they furnish forth with all the meat they can.”

On the day before Ascension there was the annual beating of the bounds,
a custom still observed, but without the old ceremony of beating
each other for the better preservation of the memory of the ancient
boundaries. At Whitsuntide there was feasting with Whitsun ale. Stow
has told us how May-day was kept. But he writes as an old man, coldly;
the full meaning of May-day he has forgotten. Remember what it meant
for the young Londoner. It fell on what is now the 12th of May, a time
when, except at very rare springs, the biting east wind is over, and
spring has really begun. The leaves and blossoms are out at last,
after struggling against the cold winds since the middle of March; the
days have lengthened; it is now light till nine o’clock, and twilight
all the night through. There is no more huddling around the fire,
perhaps without candles, going off to bed as soon as is possible,
rising before the break of day, sitting all day long in a workshop
darkened by the lowering of the shutters as well as by the dreary grey
skies of winter, working with frozen fingers, living on salt meat for
six months except for the fast days and the forty days of Lent, when
for a change there was salted fish. Spring had come at last, and in
this northern clime the City, like the gardens and the fields, sprang
into new life and returned to the joy of living.

Then all went out into the fields on May-day Eve. They passed over
the marshy and muddy plain of Moorfields till they came to the little
village of Iseldon or Iselden, where the great forest began. There grew
the whitethorn and the blackthorn, the broom and the gorse blossomed,
there the wild crab was covered with a garment of pink and white, and
the wild rose was all glorious to behold; the people came home bearing
boughs of those sweet blossoms, singing and dancing as they went;
with them marched the lusty fellow with pipe and tabor, with them ran
barking and fighting, for pure joy, all the dogs of the parish. Then
they set up their Maypole adorned with ribbons and garlands, and they
danced around it, singing, hand in hand, right hand with left hand, and
left hand with right, covered with chaplets of wild rose and wild apple
blossom. As at Christmas they celebrated the close of the old year and
the beginning of the new, so now they celebrated the end of the winter
and the birth of the spring. They had Tom Fools, mummers, hobby horses,
Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Little John; they had bonfires; and they had
feasting and drinking. ’Twas the most joyous festival of all the year.

On the feast of St. Bartholomew were held athletic sports with
races, archery, and wrestling. At Holyrood they went nutting in the
woods; at Martinmas they feasted—I know not why. Then in the long
summer days they celebrated the eves of festivals and the festivals
themselves by a kind of open-house hospitality. Then burned bonfires
in the streets—this was partly with a view to keep off infection; and
certainly in their narrow streets it was necessary to renew the air as
much as possible. Then the wealthier sort spread tables before their
doors and furnished them on the vigils with bread and drink, and on
the festival days with meat and drink, to which they would invite all
passers-by, “praising God for His benefits bestowed upon them.” There
were feasts of reconciliation and amity for those who had quarrelled.
The feast of reconciliation was a ceremony observed down to the last

A kind of Flower Feast was held on the vigil of St. John the Baptist,
and on the days of St. Peter and St. Paul the Apostles. Then every
man’s door was decorated with “green birch, long fennel, St. John’s
wort, orpin, white leten, and such like.” Garlands of flowers were
hung up among the leaves, with small lamps of glass containing enough
oil to last all through the night; there were branches of wrought iron
hung out over the street thus decorated, and some houses had hundreds
of lamps hung up all over them. Picture to yourself a street in Old
London, narrow, with lofty gabled houses projecting in each storey,
so that at the top one might almost shake hands across. Even in the
soft and limpid twilight of a June evening it is generally almost dark
in the streets thus deprived of the sky; but to-night it is lighter
than at noontide. There are rows on rows, one row above the others of
bright lamps, red and blue and green, gleaming among green branches and
white flowers; there are people dancing and pledging each other, there
is music—nay, not pipe and tabor only, but harp and rebeck, flute and
silver bells, drum and syrinx. And of course the lads and maidens are
dancing with all the spirit they possess.

[Illustration: A HUNTING PARTY

From fourteenth-century MS. Bibliothèque Nat. de Paris.]

Dancing was a passion with everybody. From the Queen to the milkmaid
all the women danced; from the King to the craftsman all the young men
danced. They danced in the streets whenever it was possible, which
was one of the reasons why May-day was so joyous a festival. The more
courtly people had dances dignified and stately, such as the _Danse au
Virlet_, in which each performer sang a verse, and then they all danced
round singing the same verse in chorus; the _Pas de Brabant_, where
every man knelt to his partner; the _Danse au chapelet_, where every
man kissed his partner; they danced together singing minstrels’ songs;
they danced in the garden, they danced in the meadow, they went out at
night to dance with tapers in their hands; they danced to beautiful
music played by an orchestra. But for the humbler folk the street was
the ball-room, and the pipe and tabor the music; while the dance was
the simple _Hey_, or a round with capers of surprising agility, or the
interlacing of hands and the dancing round a maypole.

The wrestling match filled much the same place in the civic mind as
the football match of the present day. It was not a sport so much as a
battle, and occasionally, as in the case of London _v._ Westminster, it
caused serious riots and disturbances. The usual prize at a wrestling
match was a ram, or a ram and a ring. Sometimes there were more
valuable prizes, as in the old poem, “A mery Geste of Robin Hood,”
quoted by Strutt,[10] in which a white bull, a courser with saddle and
bridle, a pair of gloves, a gold ring, and a pipe of wine, were prizes.
In Chaucer’s Prologue we read, “At wrastling he wolde have alwey the
ram.” And Matthew Paris mentions a wrestling match at Westminster, A.D.
1222, at which a ram was the prize.

  [10] Joseph Strutt, _Sports and Pastimes of the English People_.

Then there was the valuable right of hunting in the forest of
Middlesex. The country was nearly covered with a vast forest, opened up
here and there by the clearings of charcoal-burners, woodcutters, and
licensed huntsmen. The forest of Middlesex extended on the east side
far into Essex. It was filled with fallow deer, red deer, wild swine,
and wild boar. Of vermin there were wolves still, wild cats, foxes,
badgers, and the smaller creatures. The rabbit warren or the coney
garth was found on every estate, partly for food and partly for the
fur. Two thousand rabbits were supplied in one year for the table of a
rich Norfolk squire. Hares and pheasants were bred in the coney garth.
The crane, the bittern, the great bustard, together with wild ducks
and smaller birds innumerable, were also found—by the marshes along
the river side or in the forests. It is noted that in London even the
craftsmen feasted freely on hares and rabbits.

Music was even a more favourite form of recreation than dancing.
To learn the use of some instrument was part of every gentleman’s
education. The details of the education of the lower class are scanty,
but there is a treasury of manners and customs in Chaucer, from which
it is certain that all classes learned and practised music of some
kind. For instance. Of the Squire, he is said to have been singing or
fluting all the day.

Of the Nun the poet says—

    “Ful wel sche sange the service devyne
    Entuned in hire nose ful semely.”

[Illustration: THE PARDONER





From the Ellesmere MS.]

Of the Mendicant Friar—

    “And certainly he had a merry note
    Wel couthe he synge and playe on a rote
    Somwhat he lipsede for his wantonnesse,
    To make his Englische swete upon his Tunge.
    And in his harping when that he had sunge
    His eyghen twynkeled in his hed aright,
    As du the sterris in the frosty night.”

Of the Miller—

 “A baggepipe well could he blowe and sowne.”

Of the Pardoner—

 “Ful loude he sang ‘Come hider love to me.’”

Of the Scholar—

    “And al above ther lay a gay sautrye (_psaltery_)
    On which he made a-nightes melody
    So swetely that all the chamber rang,
    And Angelus et Virginem he sang.”

Of the Carpenter’s wife—

    “But of her song it was so loude and yerne (_brisk_)
    As eny swalwe chitering on a berne.”

And so on,—they could all sing and play. It was a disgrace for any not
to play some kind of instrument.

A bas-relief on a capital in a Norman church of the eleventh century
represents a concert in which the performers are playing on different
instruments. There was the violin, the violoncello, the guitar, the
harp, the syrinx or Pandora pipes, a zither, great bells and little
bells, and an unintelligible instrument. The list does not include the
flute, pipe, or whistle of various kinds, the bagpipe, the lute, the
trumpet, the horn, the water organ, the wind organ, the cymbals, the
drum, the psaltery, the three-stringed organistrum, the hurdy-gurdy,
the pipe and tabor, the rebeck, and others. Of course many of them
are but varieties. The instruments dear to the common people were the
fiddle and the pipe and tabor, at the music of which the bear capered,
the bull was baited, the prentices and maidens danced, and the tumblers
performed; at the tap of the tabor, and the call of the pipe, everybody
turned out to see what was going on. In every tavern there was music of
a more pretentious kind; there sat the harper, there the mandoline was
touched by those who sat in the place to drink; then to flute and viol
the dancing girl gave her performance; then the story-teller sang his
long tale to the sound of the lute in a low monotone, while the music
rambled up and down, in the same way as a Welsh singer sings while
the air itself rolls round and round about his words. In every church
there was the organ, sometimes only a hand organ; sometimes a great and
glorious organ, the thunders of which awed the trembling soul while
its soft notes uplifted and cheered the worshipper. There was long
opposition to the introduction of the organ; and it was not until the
thirteenth century that the voice of opposition was hushed altogether;
once the organ found admission the difficulty was to make it splendid
enough. Winchester boasted as early as the year 951 an organ divided
into parts, each with its own bellows, its own keyboard, and its own
organist. At Milan Cathedral the organ pipes were made of silver; at
Venice they were made of gold. The best organs of western Europe were
made after the model of an organ presented by Constantine Copronymus to
King Pepin.

[Illustration: A BANQUET

From Willemin, _Monuments inédits_, etc.]

Another form of recreation in the City life was the garden. The poetry
of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries is full of the garden. In
Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale Emelie goes into the garden to make a chaplet:—

    “And in the garden at the sonne uppriste
    Sche walketh up and doun, and as hir liste,
    Sche gadereth floures, party white and redde,
    To make a sotil gerland for here hedde,
    And as an angel hevenly sche song.”

Every house of importance in London had its garden. Of these gardens
some traces yet remain. The Drapers’ Garden until recently covered a
large area, and there is still a little left; other Companies retain
some portion of their old gardens; apart from the churchyards, now
converted into gardens, there are still even in some crowded parts of
the City one or two private gardens left. The garden afforded a safe
and pleasant place of recreation for the ladies of the house. It seems
as if, with the noise, the dirt, the crowds, the violence, there was no
place for ladies in the streets of Mediæval London; they were escorted
to and from church, and for the rest of the day there was the house or
the garden “ful of leves and of floures.”

    “And craft of mannes hand so curiously
    Arrayed had the gardeyn of such pris,
    As if it were the verray paradise.”

Here the ladies kept their singing birds, of which they were extremely

[Illustration: KING AND JESTER

From MS. in British Museum. Harl. 1892.]

Then, for recreation in the daily life, we have the morning mass, the
several services of the Church, the work of the shop for the craftsman,
the house for his wife; in summer evenings ramblings in the fields,
rowing on the river, dancing in the streets, athletics of all kinds,
for the young; for the men the tavern with its songs and drink; for
the women, talk in the street at the house doors in the summer; in
the evening, work and music and singing and talk before the fire. In
addition to the festivals and the rejoicings on stated days there was
the procession of the watch, the miracle play within the church or
without, the Royal pageants and the City ridings. The procession of the
watches has been given in _London in the Time of the Tudors_, p. 362.

[Illustration: THE SQUIRE





From the Ellesmere MS.]

What part, if any, had cards in the houses of Mediæval London? The
origin of card-playing need not concern us here. Probably the theory
that cards first appeared at Viterbo, whither they were brought from
the East, is true; that they spread over Italy, Germany, France, and
Spain is quite certain. In the year 1393 occurs the well-known and
often-quoted passage in the account of the Treasurer of France, Charles
Poupart. “Givin to Grinfonneur, painter, for three packs of cards, gilt
and coloured, and variously ornamented, for the amusement of the King,
fifty-six livres.” From this passage it has been argued that cards were
invented for the solace of the mad King Charles VI. But if they were a
new invention the entry would not have been made with such simplicity,
and, in fact, we now know that cards had before this date been brought
into France. Whatever was known or practised in France speedily crossed
over to England. Yet it is remarkable that Chaucer makes no mention
of card-playing. In the year 1463 it was practised. This is proved by
a clause in an Act of 1463, by which the importation of cards, among
other wares of foreign manufacture, was forbidden. In one of the Paston
Letters, dated Dec. 24, 1484, Margery Paston tells her husband that in
a certain great lady’s house there were at Christmas “no disguisings,
nor harpings, nor luting, nor singing, nor none loud disputes; but
playing at the tables, chess and cards.” It may therefore be assumed
that card-playing was known in London during the fifteenth century;
that it was not an amusement or a form of gambling belonging to the
common sort, but that it belonged to the wealthier class. This is what
we should expect from the cost of the early cards with their gold and
their hand-painted faces and backs. Of gambling with dice a great deal
is said, and it would appear the lower classes as well as the upper
classes were greatly addicted to dice and games of pure chance. Every
tavern had its gaming table; the keeper advanced money to those who
lost: there were then as now gamesters _acharnés_ who gambled away all
that they had and more. In the satirical drawings of the time they are
represented as having stripped themselves of everything, including
every shred of clothing. The lower classes of London have always been,
and are still, incurably addicted to the pursuit of fortune, blind and
incapable of favouritism. Laying on the odds and backing his fancy
takes the place with the young Londoner of the old-fashioned dice.

For games we have the rhyme:—“The men and maids do merry make, at
Stoolball and at Barley-break.” The games played by boys were “Hoop and
hide,” “Hide and seek,” “Harry Racket,” “Fillip the toad,” “Hoos and
Blind,” “Hoodwink Play,” “Loggats,” “Slide Sheriff or Shove groat.”

    “To wrestle, play at stooleballe, or to runne;
      To pitch the Barre, or to shoote off a gun;
    To play at Luggats, nine holes, or Tenpinnes:
      To try it out at Football by the shinnes.”

Fitz Stephen says that on Shrove Tuesday the boys brought cocks to
school and made them fight—the Master received from every boy a
“Cockpenny.” The custom was kept up in some parts of England, I believe
in the town of Lancaster, until well into the eighteenth century.

With all these aids to rest and recreation it will be seen that London
was a City full of joy and cheerfulness. But there was a great deal
more than this. No City on the Continent, not even Antwerp, Bruges,
or Paris, surpassed London in the splendour and magnificence of her
Pageants and Ridings. They were the public processions and rejoicings
at coronations whether of the King or his consort, those after great
victories, those when the King rode in state through London, those in
which foreign sovereigns were received, and the Ridings of the Mayor
and Aldermen. Let us consider what was meant by such a Pageant in the
thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries, the period to which
this chapter belongs. They were rare events, naturally—a coronation
does not happen often in one generation,—so rare were they that the
principal Pageants can all be enumerated in a few lines. Thus:—

  A.D. 1205 Reception of Otho, nephew to King John.
       1216     ”     ”  Louis the Dauphin.
       1236     ”     ”  Henry III.
       1243     ”     ”  Beatrice, Countess of Provence.
       1274     ”     ”  Queen Margaret.
       1307     ”     ”  Queen Isabella.
       1328     ”     ”  Queen Philippa.
       1357     ”     ”  King John of France.
       1363     ”     ”  King John of France, King David of Scotland,
                           and the King of Cyprus.
       1377     ”     ”  King Richard II.
       1382     ”     ”  Queen Anne.
       1392 Reconciliation of King Richard II. and the City.
       1396 Coronation of Queen Isabella.
       1399     ”      ”  Henry IV.
       1399 Reception of Emmanuel, Emperor of Constantinople.
       1413 Coronation of Henry V.
       1415 Return of Henry V. after Agincourt.
       1416 Reception of the Emperor Sigismund.
       1421 Return of Henry V. and Queen Katherine.
       1422 Reception of infant King Henry VI.
       1432     ”     ”  Henry VI.
       1445     ”     ”  Margaret of Anjou.
       1461 Coronation of Edward IV.
       1465     ”      ”  Queen Elizabeth Grey.
       1483 Reception of Edward V.
       1483 Coronation of Richard III.

Thus in 278 years there were twenty-seven Pageants and Receptions,
an average of one in every ten years. It is certain that at every
coronation there was some kind of pageant or procession, but there
seems no record of those of Kings Edward II. and III. The first of
which a detailed account has come down to us is the reception of Henry
III. on his marriage in 1286. It is by Matthew Paris:—

“There were assembled at the King’s nuptial festivities such a host of
nobles of both sexes, such numbers of religious men, such crowds of the
populace, and such a variety of actors, that London, with its capacious
bosom, could scarcely contain them. The whole City was ornamented with
flags and banners, chaplets and hangings, candles and lamps, and with
wonderful devices and extraordinary representations, and all the roads
were cleansed from mud and dirt, sticks and everything offensive. The
citizens, too, went out to meet the King and Queen dressed in their
ornaments, and vied with each other trying the speed of their horses.
On the same day when they left the City for Westminster, to perform
the duties of butler to the King (which office belonged to them by
right of old, at the coronation), they proceeded thither dressed in
silk garments, with mantles worked in gold, and with costly changes
of raiment, mounted on valuable horses, glittering with new bits and
saddles, and riding in troops arranged in order. They carried with
them three hundred and sixty gold and silver cups, preceded by the
King’s trumpeters and with horns sounding, so that such a wonderful
novelty struck all who beheld it with astonishment. The Archbishop
of Canterbury, by the right especially belonging to him, performed
the duty of crowning with the usual solemnities, the Bishop of London
assisting him as a dean, the other bishops taking their stations
according to their rank. In the same way all the abbats, at the head
of whom, as was his right, was the abbat of St. Alban’s (for as the
Protomartyr of England, B. Alban, was the chief of all the martyrs of
England, so also was his abbat the chief of all the abbats in rank
and dignity), as the authentic privilege of that church set forth.
The nobles, too, performed the duties, which, by ancient right and
custom, pertained to them at the coronations of kings. In like manner
some of the inhabitants of certain cities discharged certain duties
which belonged to them by right of their ancestors. The Earl of Chester
carried the sword of St. Edward, which was called ‘Curtein,’ before the
King, as a sign that he was earl of the palace, and had by right the
power of restraining the King if he should commit an error. The Earl
was attended by the Constable of Chester, and kept the people away with
a wand when they pressed forward in a disorderly way. The Grand Marshal
of England, the Earl of Pembroke, carried a wand before the King, and
cleared the way before him both in the church and in the banquet-hall,
and arranged the banquet and the guests at table. The wardens of the
Cinque Ports carried the pall over the King, supported by four spears,
but the claim to this duty was not altogether undisputed. The Earl
of Leicester supplied the King with water in basins to wash before
his meal; the Earl Warrenne performed the duty of King’s cupbearer,
supplying the place of the Earl of Arundel, because the latter was
a youth and not as yet made a belted knight. Master Michael Belet
was butler _ex officio_: the Earl of Hereford performed the duties
of marshal of the King’s household, and William Beauchamp held the
station as almoner. The Justiciary of the Forests arranged the drinking
cups on the table at the King’s right hand, although he met with some
opposition, which however fell to the ground. The citizens of London
passed the wine about in all directions, in costly cups, and those of
Winchester superintended the cooking of the feast; the rest, according
to the ancient statutes, filled their separate stations, or made their
claim to do so. And in order that the nuptial festivities might not
be clouded by any disputes, saving the right of any one, many things
were put up with for the time which they left for decision at a more
favourable opportunity. The office of Chancellor of England, and all
the offices connected with the King, are ordained and assized in the
Exchequer. Therefore the Chancellor, the Chamberlain, the Marshal, and
the Constable, by right of their office, took their seats there, as
also did the barons according to the date of their creation, in the
City of London, whereby they each knew his own place. The ceremony
was splendid, with the gay dresses of the clergy and knights who were
present. The Abbat of Westminster sprinkled the holy water, and the
Treasurer, acting the part of sub-dean, carried the paten. Why should
I describe all those persons who reverently ministered in the church
to God as was their duty? Why describe the abundance of meats and
dishes on the table? the quantity of venison, the variety of fish, the
joyous sounds of the glee-men, and the gaiety of the waiters? Whatever
the world could afford to create pleasure and magnificence was there
brought together from every quarter.” (Giles’s trans. pp. 8, 9.)


From Strutt’s _Manners and Customs_.]

It must have been a wealthy city which could thus furnish for a
coronation banquet three hundred and sixty wealthy citizens, who
could afford to dress in silk with gold-embroidered mantles, and to
ride stately horses richly caparisoned, and to carry every man a
gold or silver cup, and to decorate and light up their houses with
flags and banners, chaplets and hangings, candles and lamps. The
magnificent dress of the citizen at all these pageants strikes one with
astonishment. They welcomed Queen Margaret in 1300 to the number of 600
in a livery of red and white, each with the cognisance of his Mystery
embroidered on his sleeve. They followed King Henry IV. in 1399 with a
train of 6000 horse—all of London and clothed in their proper livery.
When Henry V. came home after Agincourt, the Mayor and Aldermen met him
clothed in “orient grained scarlet,” with 400 citizens in murrey, well
mounted, with collars and chains of gold; with them went a multitude of
the city clergy in sumptuous copes with rich crosses and massy censers.


From Froissart’s _Chronicles_.]

The Lord Mayor’s Show began with the presentation of the Mayor elect to
the King or his justiciary. The new Mayor had to ride to Westminster;
of course he rode in state with the Sheriffs, Aldermen, and officers
of the city. It was in 1452 that John Norman, then Mayor, is said to
have changed the custom of riding by land to going by barge. For this
purpose he presented the City with a beautiful barge; the Companies
followed his example, and provided themselves with barges; of course it
was no new thing for a wealthy citizen or a nobleman to have his barge;
the Thames was always, until quite recent times, the chief highway
of the City—witness the line of palaces which lay along its north
bank from Baynard’s Castle to the King’s House of Westminster. The
innovation of Norman was to present the City with its barge of state:
there is reason to believe that before his time some of the journeys to
Westminster had been made by water. Some notes of the cost of such
a procession have been preserved. For instance, in the year 1401, on
the Riding of John Walcote, Mayor, there is the following entry in the
books of the Grocers’ Company:—

  Itm. Meres Averes paie po le chevache du      £     _s_    _d_
    John Walcote mayr, po vi mynstrelles
    po. lo. sabire                                    XL
  Itm. po. lo. cheprous and po. lo. pessure           VIIj
  It. po. lo. dyner & po vyn po. le chaucer                 XXI
  Itm. po. un cluvue po. le bidge                           IIIj


From MS. in British Museum. Harl. 1319.]

The wealth and state of the City itself were confided to the care of
the Mayor and Aldermen, who lost no opportunity, whether by a Riding,
or a Pageant, or a Feast, of exhibiting the wealth of the City by the
liveries and splendour of dress worn by the citizens. Thus, Stow gives
some particulars on the subject, which help to show us the real wealth
of the citizens:—

 “1236. The 20th of Henry III., the Mayor, Aldermen, Sheriffs, and
 citizens of London, rode out to meet the King and his new wife Queen
 Eleanor, daughter to Reymond Beringarius of Aragon, Earl of Provence
 and Narbone. The citizens were clothed in long garments, embroidered
 about with gold, and silk in divers colours, their horses finely
 trapped, to the number of three hundred and sixty, every man bearing
 a gold or silver cup in his hand, the King’s trumpets before them
 sounding, etc. as ye may read in my Annales.

 1300. The 29th of Edward I., the said King took to wife Margaret,
 sister to Philip le Beau, King of France: they were married at
 Canterbury. The Queen was conveyed to London, against whom the
 citizens to the number of six hundred rode in one livery of white and
 red, with the cognisances of their mysteries embroidered upon their
 sleeves; they received her four miles out of London, and so conveyed
 her to Westminster.

 1415. The 3rd of Henry V., the said King arriving at Dover, the Mayor
 of London, with the Aldermen and craftsmen riding in red, with hoods
 red and white, met with the King on the Black hith, coming from Eltham
 with his prisoners out of France.

 1432. The 10th of Henry VI., he being crowned in France, returning
 into England, came to Eltham towards London, and the Mayor of London,
 John Welles, the Aldermen, with the commonality, rode against him on
 horseback, the Mayor in crimson velvet, a great velvet hat furred, a
 girdle of gold about his middle, and a bawdrike of gold about his neck
 trilling down behind him, his three henxeme, on three great coursers
 following him, in one suit of red, all spangled in silver, then
 the Aldermen in gowns of scarlet, with sanguine hoods, and all the
 commonality of the city clothed in white gowns and scarlet hoods, with
 divers cognisances embroidered on their sleeves, etc.

 1485. The 1st of Henry VII., the Mayor, Aldermen, Sheriffs, and
 commonality, all clothed in violet (as in a mourning colour), met
 the King at Shireditch, and conveyed him to Bowles Church, where he
 offered his banners.

 Thus much for liveries of citizens in ancient times, both in triumphs
 and otherwise, may suffice, whereby, may be observed, that the
 coverture of men’s heads was then hoods, for neither cap nor hat is
 spoken of, except that John Welles, Mayor of London, to wear a hat in
 time of triumph, but differing from the hats lately taken in use, and
 now commonly worn for noblemen’s liveries. I read that Thomas, Earl of
 Lancaster, in the reign of Edward II., gave at Christmas in liveries,
 to such as served him, a hundred and fifty-nine broadcloths, allowing
 to every garment furs to fur their hoods: more near our time, thereby
 remaineth the counterfeits and pictures of Aldermen and others that
 lived in the reigns of Henry VI. and Edward IV., namely, Alderman
 Darby, dwelling in Fenchurch Street, over against the parish church
 of St. Diones, left his picture, as of an Alderman, in a gown of
 scarlet on his back, a hood on his head, etc. as is in that house (and
 elsewhere) to be seen. For a further monument of those late times, men
 may behold the glass windows of the Mayor’s Court in the Guildhall
 above the stairs; the Mayor is there pictured sitting in habit,
 party-coloured, and a hood on his head, his sword-bearer before him
 with a hat or cap of maintenance; the common clerk and other officers
 bareheaded, their hoods on their shoulders: and therefore, I take it,
 that the use of square bonnets worn by noblemen, gentlemen, citizens,
 and others, took beginning in the realm by Henry VII., and in his
 time, and of further antiquity, I can see no counterfeit or other
 proof of use. Henry VIII. (towards his latter reign) wore a flat round
 cap of scarlet or of velvet, with a bruch or jewel and a feather:
 divers gentlemen, courtiers, and others did the like. The youthful
 citizens also took them to the new fashion of flat caps knitted of
 woollen yarn black, but so light that they were obliged to tie them
 under their chins, for else the wind would be master over them. The
 use of these flat round caps so far increased (being of less price
 than the French bonnet) that in short time the young Aldermen took the
 wearing of them: Sir John White wore it in his Mayoralty, and was the
 first that left example to his followers; but now the Spanish felt, or
 the like counterfeit, is most commonly, of all men both spiritual and
 temporal, taken to use, so that the French bonnet or square cap, and
 also the round cap, have for the most part given place to the Spanish
 felt; but yet in London amongst the graver sort (I mean the liveries
 of companies) remaineth a memory of the hoods of old time worn by
 their predecessors; these hoods were worn, the roundlets upon their
 heads, the skirts to hang behind in their necks to keep them warm, the
 tippet to lie on their shoulder, or to wind about their necks; these
 hoods were of old time made in colours according to their gowns, which
 were of two colours, as red and blue, or red and purple, murrey, or as
 it pleased their masters and wardens to appoint to the companies: but
 now of late time they have used their gowns to be all of one colour,
 and those of the saddest, but their hoods being made the one half of
 the same cloth their gowns be of, the other half remaineth red as of
 old time.”

The age was, above all, martial, therefore battle real or battle
mimic was the sport which mostly moved the people. The tournament
was nominally a mimic battle, yet it so closely resembled a real
battle, and so often ended in wounds or death, that it was sometimes
difficult to distinguish between a tournament and a duel. At the Tilt
Yard at Whitehall, in Tothill Fields, at Smithfield and in Cheapside,
tournaments were held. Among the most famous tournaments were the

That of 1329 in Cheapside when the scaffolding erected for the Queen
and her ladies fell, fortunately without injury to the Queen.


From Froissart’s _Chronicles_.]

Those of 1357, 1362, and 1374. The last was especially splendid: it was
held in honour of Alice Perrers, the “Lady of the Sun,” and continued
for seven days.

The magnificent tournament, held by Richard II. in 1390, which was
also continued for several days, and was attended by sixty combatants.
The famous encounter of Scottish with English knights in 1393. That of
French and English knights at Smithfield in 1409. The challenge of a
knight of Aragon who was defeated by Robert Carey. The challenge, 1442,
of another knight of Aragon, Sir Philip le Beaufe, who was defeated by
John Ansley.

The challenge, 1467, of the Bastard of Burgundy. These challenges were
more than joustings; they were duels to the death. The Burgundian
knight challenged Lord Scales, brother of the Queen. They fought for
three days. On the first they fought on foot without result. On the
second they fought on horseback, when the Burgundian’s horse fell with
him. On the third they fought with poleaxes until the point of Lord
Scales’ axe entered his antagonist’s helmet, so that he could have
thrown him to the ground and killed him. But the King threw down his
warder and discontinued the combat. In 1501 there was a tournament in
the Tower. In 1540 there was a five days’ tournament at Westminster. In
1571, 1581, and 1599, there were tournaments, but not on the same scale
as formerly.

In 1610 the last tournament was held in the Tilt Yard, Westminster, in
honour of Henry, Prince of Wales.




The Libraries in London were few in number, and, according to modern
ideas, scanty as to the works they contained. Every monastery had its
library: St. Paul’s Cathedral had its library; there were books of
devotion belonging to every church, and, indeed, to every house; but of
private libraries there were very few. The famous Duke Humphrey had a
great collection of books, which he gave to the University of Oxford in
two donations, one of two hundred and sixty-four volumes, the other of
two hundred and sixty-five. The Duke of Bedford at the same time bought
the collection of Charles the Fifth of France, and brought the books
over to England. Guy Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, had another great
library. The finest libraries in London were those of the Franciscans,
whose Library was built for them by Whittington, and the Dominicans,
who in their best days were remarkable for their pursuit of learning.


From MS. in British Museum. Harl. 2278.]

The catalogue of the books presented by Guy Beauchamp to the monks of
Bordesley shows what was the lighter reading of the brethren. It is as

“A tus iceux, qe ceste lettre verront, ou orrount, Guy de Beauchamp,
Comte de Warr. Saluz, en Deu. Saluz nous aveir baylè en la garde le
Abbé e le Covent de Bordesleye, lessé à demorer a touz jours touz les
Romaunces de sonz nomes: ceo est assaveyr, un volum, qe est appelé
Tresor. Un volum, en le quel est le premer livre de Lancelot, e un
volum del Romaunce de Aygnes. Un Sauter de Romaunce. Un volum des
Evangelies, e de Vie des Seine. Un volum, qe p’le des quatre principals
Gestes de Charles, e de dooun, e de Meyace e de Girard de Vienne et
de Emery de Nerbonne. Un volum del Romaunce Emmonnd de Ageland, e deu
Roy Charles dooun de Nauntoyle. E le Romaunce de Gwyoun de Nauntoyl.
E un volum del Romaunce Titus et Vespasien. E un volum del Romaunce
Josep ab Arimathie e deu Seint Grael. E un volum, qe p’le coment Adam
fust eniesté hors de paradys, e le Genesie. E un volum en le quel
sount contenuz touns des Romaunces, ceo est assaveir, Vitas patrum ay
commencement: e pus un Conte de Auteypt; e la Vision Seint Poll: et
pus les Vies des xii Seins. E le Romaunce de Willame de Loungespe. E
Autorites des Seins humes. E le Mirour de Alme. Un volum ne le quel
sount contenuz la Vie Seint Pére e seint Pol, e des autres liv. E un
volum qe est appelé l’Apocalips. E un livere de Phisik, e de Surgie.
Un volum del Romaunce de Gwy, e de la Reyhne tut enterement. Un volum
del Romaunce de Troies. Un volum del Romaunce de Willame de Orenges e
de Teband de Arabie. Un volum del Romaunce de Amase e de Idoine. Un
volum del Romaunce Girard de Viene. Un volum del Romaunce deu Brut, e
del Roy Costentine. Un volum de le enseignment Aristotle enveiez au Roy
Alisaundre. Un volum en le quel sount contenuz les Eufaunces Nostre
Seygneur, coment il fust mené en Egipt. E la vie Seint Edwd. E la
Visioun Seint Pol. La Vengeaunce n’re Seygneur par Vespasien a Titus,
e la Vie Seint Nicolas, qe fust nez en patras. E la Vie Seint Eustace.
E la Vie Seint Cudlac. E la Passioun n’re Seygneur. E la Meditacioun
Seint Bernard de n’re Dame Seint Marie, e del Passioun sour deuz fiz
Jesu Creist n’re Seignt. E la Vie Seint Eufrasie. E la Vie Seint
Radegounde. E la Vie Seint Juliane. Un Volum, en lequel est aprise
de Enfants et lumiere à Lays. Un volum del Romaunce d’a Alisaundre,
ove peintures. Un petit rouge livere, en le quel sount contenuz mons
diverses choses. Un volum del Romaunce des Mareschans, e de Ferebras e
de Alisaundre. Les queus livres nous grauntous par nos hryrs e pur nos
assignes qil demorront en la dit Abbeye, etc.”

The more serious part of these libraries may be gathered from the
Glastonbury List, which contains the following classical authors:—

  Virgil, Æneid
  Virgil’s Georgics
  Virgil’s Bucolics
  Isagoge of Porphyry

While the list of Forty Books, collected by Abbot John de Taunton and
given to the Library in 1271, is instructive:—

  St. Augustine upon Genesis.
  Ecclesiastical Dogmas.
  St. Bernard’s Enchiridion.
  St. Bernard’s Flowers.
  Books of Wisdom, with a Gloss.
  Postils upon Jeremiah and the Lesser Prophets.
  Concordances to the Bible.
  Postils of Albertus upon Matthew, and the Lamentations of Jeremiah
    and Others, in One Volume.
  Postils upon Mark.
  Postils upon John, with a Discourse on the Epistles throughout
    the Year.
  Brother Thomas’ Old and New Gloss.
  Moralities on the Gospels and Epistles.
  St. Augustine on the Trinity.
  Epistles of Paul glossed.
  St. Augustine’s City of God.
  Kylwardesby upon the Letter of the Sentences.
  Questions concerning Crimes.
  Perfection of the Spiritual Life.
  Brother Thomas’ Sum of Divinity, in Four Volumes.
  Decrees and Decretals.
  A Book of Perspectives.
  Distinctions of Maurice.
  Books of Natural History, in Two Volumes.
  Books on the Properties of Things.

The disposition and arrangement of a mediæval library has been treated
by Mr. Willis Clarke in his Rede Lecture for 1894. The books were at
first kept in the cloister, but since our climate would very speedily
destroy books lying in the open air, there were aumbries, or presses,
constructed for them. In course of time the cloister was flagged, and
the readers were provided with “carrels,” _i.e._ small wooden pews, or
cupboards, closed except in the front, which was open to the light.
Each carrel contained a desk on which to lay the books. The next step
was the construction of the library. That built by Whittington for
the Franciscans was a noble hall, 129 feet long and 31 feet broad.
It contained twenty-eight desks and twenty-eight double settles of
wainscot. Certain books remained always on the desks for reference,
and others were brought out from time to time, and both sorts were
chained. In some cases an upright bookcase had an open shelf in front
on which books could be read, but they were all chained in their
places. This caused the books to be ranged with their backs towards
the wall. In some cases when books were embossed on the side, they
were not placed side by side but flat on the shelf. The chaining of
books in all monastic libraries was the constant rule. Since every
monastery had its scriptorium, it is reasonable to believe that copies
of books were continually being renewed, when the scribes were not
occupied in renewing the books wanted for service in the chapel. In
every monastery, also, there were illuminators and painters. Lastly,
to show that the much-abused friars made good use of the libraries
they possessed, there is a List of Scholars given in Steven’s
_Monasticon_,[11] from which it appears that eighty names of learned
scholars and writers may be found among the Dominicans, as many as
one hundred and twenty-two among the Franciscans, and one hundred and
thirty-seven among the Carmelites.

  [11] Steven’s edition of Dugdale’s _Monasticon_.—ED.

A good deal of information remains concerning the library of St.
Paul’s. It contained, among other treasures, eleven MSS. of the
Gospels, beautifully written, and bound with silver covers richly
enamelled; there were also five Psalters, eight Antiphonals, twenty
books of Homilies, seventeen Missals, Manuals, Graduals, Treposia,
Organ books, Epistle books, Gospel books, Collectaria and Capitularia,
Pontificals, Benedictionals. There were Bibles and portions of
Scripture with glosses. And there was the Chronicle of Ralph de Diceto.
There was another library in the precinct of St. Paul’s, and that was
founded by Walter Sherington; in it were books on medicine, chronicles,
grammars, the Fathers, classical authors, and books on law.


The connection of Mediæval London with literature and learning must be
considered first in the light of Ecclesiastical History and next from
the secular point of view.

How far were monastic institutions in general, and those of London
in particular, homes of learning and literature? The question can be
answered by inference from what we know of other monasteries, not
in London, and by the examples of scholars and writers who sprang
from those Houses. In the first place, by far the greater number of
scholars and writers, for eight hundred years, worked in the Religious
Houses. If we run through a list, however imperfect, we shall see that,
especially in the writing of histories, monks and later friars are
conspicuous. Such a list is instructive and suggestive.


For instance, Bede was a monk of Durham; Egbert, Archbishop of York,
was a monk of Hexham; Alcuin, of York; John Scotus or Erigena was a
monk; Eadmer, who wrote the life of Anselm, was a monk of Canterbury;
the Saxon Chronicle was carried on by monks; Astern, another monk of
Canterbury, wrote the lives of St. Dunstan and St. Alphege; Lucian,
monk of Eberburgh, wrote an account of Chester; Colman, monk of
Worcester, wrote the life of Bishop Wulstan of that see; Turgot, monk
of Jarrow, wrote the history of the Monastery of Durham; the famous
Ordericus Vitalis was a monk of St. Evroult, Normandy; the great
historian, William of Malmesbury, belonged to the monastery of that
town; Geoffrey of Monmouth was a monk in the monastery of the town he
is called after; Henry of Huntingdon, another well-known historian,
was a monk at Romsey; Ailred of Rievaulx was a Cistercian; Hilarius,
who wrote the miracle plays, was an English monk; Walter of Evesham
was a monk of that place; Layamon was a priest; Roger Bacon was a Grey
Friar—as was also Duns Scotus; Roger of Wendover was a monk of St.
Albans; of the same monastery was Matthew Paris; Bartholomew Cotton was
a monk of Norwich; Matthew of Westminster was a Benedictine, probably
of St. Peter’s; Ralph, or Ranulf, Higden was a monk of St. Werburgh’s;
Robert of Brunen was a canon of the Gilbertine Order; Nigel Wireker,
author of “Brunellus,” was precentor in the Benedictine Monastery of
Canterbury; John of Salisbury, author of _De Nugis Curialum_ was a
monk in La Celle, in the French diocese of Troyes; Thomas of Ely, who
wrote a Chronicle, was a monk of Ely; Jocelin of Brakelonde was a monk
of Bury St. Edmunds; William Newburgh was an Augustinian monk; Roger
of Hoveden was at one time under vows, since he was employed to go
from one Abbey to another, as a kind of visitor or receiver; Benedict,
author of a Chronicle, was Abbot of Peterborough; Ralph de Diceto
was Dean of St. Paul’s; Alexander Neckham was Abbot of Cirencester;
Gervase, the herdman, was a monk of Canterbury; Robert Holcot,
theologian, was a Dominican. This long list, which might be enlarged,
is sufficient to prove that the pursuit of learning was encouraged, and
held in honour in the monasteries. A few of the names quoted above are
those of scholars, most of them are the names of chroniclers, and many
of contemporary chroniclers. Now the practice followed in one House
was observed in every other House obedient to the same Rule. If at St.
Albans we find one monk after another writing contemporary history,
it is reasonable to suppose that at Westminster and at Holy Trinity
Priory, and at Bermondsey, other monks were employing their time in
similar pursuits. We do not, in other words, hear of many learned men
coming from the London Houses, but since it is certain that at other
Houses of the same Rule there were scholars and writers; since it is
certain, for instance, that the Dominicans produced fiery champions for
the true faith; since, further, it is certain that some of the greatest
men of learning were Franciscans, it seems childish to doubt that the
same studies, the same incentives to study, were found in the London
Houses. Further, out of the great mass of learned doctors, monks, and
friars who preached, wrote, and disputed at Oxford, Cambridge, and
elsewhere, since only one or two names have survived, there should
be little cause for surprise if, for any given House, not one single
man should survive of all those who adorned the Rule and advanced its
name for learning during the long centuries of its existence. We must
remember that although the monks and friars were savagely attacked
for pride, luxury, and incontinence, their enemies seldom ventured to
attack them for lack of interest in learning or zeal for study. If it
is true that the learned and studious life had become discouraged, or
had been allowed to die out, which I cannot believe, there would have
been this additional crime alleged against them.

Stanley mildly laments that he can find no mention of any great scholar
among the Benedictines of St. Peter’s. The same lament may, with equal
justice, be made over the Houses of Bermondsey, the Holy Trinity, the
Cistercians of Eastminster, and any other London House. Nay, a similar
lament may be made over many a college of Oxford and Cambridge in the
present century, where, with every possible encouragement to learning,
so few great scholars can be found belonging to any single College. I
imagine that these desks, these closed cabins, in the north cloister,
of which we read, where the monks sat and studied, were never empty,
generation after generation; there must always have been some to whom
the quiet of the cloister was a special gift of Heaven enabling them
to study; and there must always have been also the majority, who had
no gift for scholarship. To them was assigned the practical management
of the House, or some other work, to save them from vacuity. In truth,
for such men as these, the atmosphere of the House was distinctly
prejudicial to study, cut up as the day was by service, by forms, and

And lastly, as regards the monastic learning, we must not forget the
masses of papers and parchments destroyed in the Dissolution of the
Houses and the Dispersion of the Libraries; we do not know, we can have
no conception, what treasures were destroyed and scattered. Bale says,
“To destroye all without consideracyon is, and will be unto Englande
for ever, a most horrible infamy among the grave seniors of other
nacyons. I know a merchante that boughte the contentes of two noble
lybraryes for XL shyllyngs pryce, a shame it is to be spoken. Thys
stuffe hath he occupy in the stede of paper by the space of more than
these X yeares.”

For eight hundred years the monks of St. Peter’s, Westminster,
had worked in their cloister. What had they done? Where were the
Chronicles, the scholastic disputations, the treatises they had
compiled? They were never taken out of the library; they never saw
the light at all; they were burned when the House perished. In common
candour, let us acknowledge that in all these generations of monks some
must have done good work.

As regards the literature of the people, we are not without specimens
of their songs, though these do not date, for the greater part,
before the fifteenth century. Yet London was always a City for music,
song, and dancing. Probably the songs that have been preserved for
us had older forms. There are the religious songs, as that in the
Annunciation, beginning:

“Tyrle, Tyrle, so merylye the shepperdes began to blow.” There are the
moral songs lamenting the vices of the age:—

    “Every man in hys degre
      Cane say yf he avysed be
    Ther was more trust in sum care
    Than is now in many on.
    Thys warld ys now al changed new
      So many men bene found ontrew
    That in trewth lyven but few
      Feythfull to tryst upon.”

And the drinking song:—

    “Brynge us in good ale, and brynge us in good ale;
    For our Blessed Lady’s sake brynge us in good ale;
    Brynge us in no brown brede, for that is made of branne,
    Nor brynge us in no whyt brede, for therein is no gaine,
        But brynge us in good ale.
    Brynge us in no befe, for ther is many bonys,
      But brynge us in good ale, for that goeth downe at onys,
        And brynge us in good ale.”

And there were the songs sung in dancing:—

    “Skip it, and trip it, nimbly, nimbly,
      Tickle it, tickle it, lustily:
    Strike up the tabour for the wenches’ favour
      Tickle it, tickle it, lustily.

    Let us be seen upon Hygate Greene,
      To dance for the honour of Holloway:
    Since we are come hither let us spare for no leather
      To dance for the honour of Holloway.”

And there is the old song of the folk—the oldest that has come down
to us. The pipe plays the air, the tabor beats an accompaniment, the
singers march down the street wearing garlands and carrying green
branches, to welcome the coming of spring:—

    “Sumer is icumen in,
      Lhude sing cuccu
    Groweth sed and bloweth med,
      And springth the wde nu (_wood anew_).
        Sing cuccu.

    Awe bleteth after lomb,
      Llouth after calve cu,
    Bulluc sterteth, bucke verteth,
      Murie sing cuccu.

    Cuccu, cuccu, wel singeth thu cuccu
      Ne swik thu naver nu;
    Sing cuccu, cuccu nu, sing cuccu,
      Sing cuccu, sing cuccu, nu.”

    (Harley MS. British Museum, 978.)

There is another side to the connection of London with literature. It
was in London that modern English poetry began. Geoffrey Chaucer was
born in London, the descendant of a long line of Londoners; Gower
lived much in London; Occleve was a Londoner; Lydgate knew London well,
and lived much in the City. If we were permitted to choose poets to
grace the mediæval life of London, we could not select four about whom
the City could more fitly pride herself than this illustrious company.

[Illustration: LYDGATE AT WORK

From MS. in British Museum. Harl. 2278.]

Just as colleges increased and multiplied at Oxford and Cambridge for
students in Divinity and Arts, so they increased in London, that great
University for Lawyers. There were Inns of Court and Chancery Inns,
and an Inn of Serjeants. Here lived the students of law, “of their own
private maintenance as being altogether fed either by their places or
their practice, or otherwise by their proper revenue, or exhibition
of parents or friend: for that the younger sort were either gentlemen
or the sons of gentlemen or of other more wealthy persons. There were
six of such colleges. Four of them were Inns of Court, viz. the Inner
and Middle Temple, Lincoln’s Inn, and Gray’s Inn. Nine were houses of
Chancery, viz. Clifford’s Inn, Dane’s Inn, Furnival’s Inn, Barnard’s
Inn, Staple Inn, Clement’s Inn, New Inn, Chester’s Inn, and one other
whose site is unknown. There was a Serjeants’ Inn in Fleet Street,
another in Chancery Lane, and a third called Scroop’s Inn over against
St. Andrew’s Church, Holborn. The Serjeants’ Inns were only for Judges
and Serjeants. The difference between the Houses of Court and the
Houses of Chancery was that the former were set apart for students
and graduates of Law only, while the latter received the officers,
attorneys, solicitors, and clerks who followed the Court of King’s
Bench or Common Pleas. Some young students, however, entered a House of
Chancery first, and then, after having performed the exercises of that
House, removed to an Inn of Court, where they studied for seven years:
frequented “readings, meetings, boltings, and other learned exercises,”
including small pleadings before a mock Court, and then, but only by
the general consent of the Benchers, who have always been extremely
jealous of admission, were called to the upper Bar, with permission
to practise in the Courts, and in their chambers. After fourteen or
fifteen years at the least, the barrister might hope to be elected a
Bencher. From the Benchers were chosen Readers for each House; from the
Benchers also were elected the Serjeants, and from the Serjeants the

This observance dates from the time when ecclesiastics ceased to
be judges, and when the legal machinery of the country was framed
and ordered. The origin of the Serjeants is the small body of
servants—“serjeants”—of the King, who were learned at law and were kept
in the pay of the King to plead his cases. Some of these serjeants
were Italian canonists. There was a great body of ecclesiastical
lawyers. The temporal lawyer grew gradually. He was an attorney, that
is, he represented some one, or he was a pleader who was allowed to
speak on behalf of a client. It was in the reign of Henry III. that
ecclesiastics ceased to be judges. One supposes that the ecclesiastical
lawyer, the canonist, continued to exist and to find plenty of
employment. (See Appendix VIII.)


The advance of medicine, as of all the sciences, was slow indeed during
the centuries under consideration. In earlier times monks were the
only physicians: their modes of cure were principally prayer, holy
water, relics, and pilgrimages; but they knew the use of herbs. It was
forbidden to ecclesiastics to use fire or knife, in other words, to
practise surgery, but they treated wounds. They set broken limbs, and
on occasion they let blood. They set up everywhere houses or hospitals
for lepers, and in all the greater monastic foundations there were
rooms for cupping and blood-letting. At the medical school of Monte
Cassino, the relics of St. Matthew were relied upon far more than the
teaching of the professors. Sisterhoods or associations of matrons
and elderly women studied and practised obstetrics. Abelard exhorted
nuns to learn and practise surgery. Certain Orders undertook different
branches of medical work. The Johannists and the brotherhood of St.
Mary gave their attention to epidemics and plagues; the brethren of
St. Lazarus treated leprosy, smallpox, and fever; the brothers of St.
Anthony and the Holy Ghost studied “St. Anthony’s Fire”—dysentery;
the Knights Templars studied ophthalmia; the Knights Hospitallers
maintained companies of women as nurses.


From the Ellesmere MS.]

[Illustration: AN OPERATION

From a MS. in Trinity College, Cambridge.]


From a MS. in Trinity College, Cambridge.]

It was because the physician was at first an ecclesiastic that surgery
was separated from medicine. When the physician was a professional
person living by the profession, he pretended to hold surgery in
contempt, and refused to operate at all. Lanfranc, however, insisted
that medicine and surgery ought to go together. When Henry V. invaded
France in 1415, he took with him thirteen surgeons, viz. Thomas
Morstede and twelve assistants. On his second expedition he asked
the City of London to send him volunteers as assistants. None were
forthcoming, and Thomas Morstede was empowered to impress as many
assistants as he might require. By this time the blood-letting and the
surgery were entrusted to the barbers, who were forbidden to advertise
this part of their work by placing a cup full of blood in the window.
For the people for whom a physician was not attainable, there were
bone-setters and herbalists, the latter of whom, if not the former, are
still with us.


From MS. Add. in British Museum. 10,302.]

If the physician of the ninth century believed in relics and holy
water, his successor of the fourteenth century placed his reliance
mainly on astrology. He was a learned man; he had read all the authors
enumerated by Chaucer; he had also read all that was necessary to
make an astrologer. This branch of medical science was of the highest
importance. “A Physician”—see Skeat’s _Notes to the Canterbury Tales_,
...—“must take heed and advyse hym of a certain thing, that faileth
not, nor deceyveth, the which thing the Astronomer of Egypt taught,
that by conjunction of the Moone with sterres fortunate cummeth
dreadful sickness to good end: and with contrary Planets falleth the
contrary, that is, to evill ende.” The physician therefore treated his
patient with reference to fortunate hours. This was “magik naturel”
as opposed to magic forbidden. Also when he framed images of wax for
his patient, making them at a fortunate moment. He also understood
what were considered the four elementary qualities—hot, moist, cold,
dry,—the mixture of these qualities determined the nature of a man. The
physician, it will be observed, did not keep or sell his own drugs;
for that purpose he went to the apothecaries, who were distinguished
from the physicians chiefly by their ignorance as to the astrological
part of medicine they knew—that is, the power and use of the drugs they
imported, collected, and sold, but they did not know the proper moment
of administering them. The physician observed diet very carefully;
he was dressed in a manner which proclaimed the high opinion he
entertained of his importance, and he believed in _aurum potabile_,
gold that could be administered as a medicine.

In another place (Knight’s Tale), Chaucer describes in general terms
the medical treatment of the time:—

    “Al were they sore y-hurt, and namely oon,
    That with a spere was thirled his brest boon.
    To othere woundes, and to broken armes,
    Some hadden salves and some hadden charmes
    Fermacies of herbes, and eek save
    They dronken.”

Save (salvia) is sage, still taken by country people in the form of
tea. It was greatly esteemed formerly. Hence the proverb of the school
of Salerno, “Cui moriatur homo dum salvia crescit in horto?” And still
in another place (The Nonne Preestes Tale), Chaucer enumerates some
herbs in common use:—

    “A day or two ye shul have digestyves
    Of wormes, er ye take your laxatyves,
    Of lauriol, centaure, and fumetere,
    Or elles of ellebor, that groweth there,
    Of catapuce, or of gaytres beryis,
    Of erbe yve, growing in our yerd, that mery is:
    Pekke hem up right as they growe, and ete hem in.”

On this passage Skeat explains that the “gaytres beryes” were probably
the berries of the Greek thorn, _Rhamnus catharticus_, which in
Swedish is the goat berries tree = (A.S.) treow and goat = (A.S.)
gate. The _catapuce_ is the caper spurge. Skeat also quotes a passage
from Burton’s _Anatomy of Melancholy_ on the merits of these herbs.
“Wormwood, centaury, pennyroyal, are likewise magnified and much
prescribed, especially in hypochondrian melancholy, and because the
spleen and blood are often misaffected in melancholy. I may not omit
endive, succory, dandelion, and fumitory, which cleanse the blood.”

It was the property of every wort or herb to heal a man or to harm him.
I have added a few to the list given above. Every herbalist or wise
woman knew them and their properties.

  Betony dispels nightmare, cures sudden giddiness, and prevents
  Cress cures baldness and scurf
  Wood lettuce cures dimness of vision
  White poppy    ”   sleeplessness
  Smear wort     ”   fevers
  Asterion       ”   falling sickness
  Everfern   }   ”   headache and liver
  Churmel    }
  Water lily     ”   dysentery
  Leek wort      ”   bite of adder
  Savine         ”   swollen feet
  Wood dock      ”   stiff joints
  Five leaf }
  Madder    }    ”   sickness and sores
  Way-bread      ”   worms

In the country house the ladies were all herbalists: in the towns, the
herbalist kept a shop for the sale of her roots and flowers and leaves,
and was the General Practitioner for the craftsmen and their households.

[Illustration: ‘Recuyell of the Hist. of Troye,’ _c._ 1471

‘Dictes and Sayings,’ p. 1477




“London at that time was built of wood, consequently there was
continual danger of fire.” This is a commonplace among historians.
Let us examine into the statement. There were two great fires in
London between the ninth and the seventeenth centuries, _i.e._ in 800
years—two fires, which swept the town almost from end to end, namely
that of 1135 and that of 1666: between these two fires there were
several others of considerable magnitude, one of which burned down
the greater part of Southwark, then no more than a causeway and an
embankment; and another the houses on the Bridge, and another which
made a large gap among the streets; but there were only these two
fires which devoured any considerable part of the City. Yet there was
constant danger, we are told.

[Illustration: THE _COUVRE-FEU_]

But was London built of wood? When we speak of a wooden house we begin
to think of a frame-house with thin deal planks nailed across, as in
the backwoods of Canada. But such was not the way of our ancestors.
They erected a frame of massive oaken beams, square and strong;
between the beams they filled up the spaces with plaster, thick and
incombustible; there was but one fire in the house of the ordinary
citizen, and that was on a thick hearthstone; the hot ashes every
night were swept up and placed within a _couvre-feu_. The Curfew or
Couvre-feu was an instrument used in the days when the fire was made
upon the flat hearth. It was a bell-shaped vessel with a portion cut
off. When it was desired to extinguish the fire, or to preserve some
fire in the embers until the next day, the ashes and wood were all
raked together at the back of the hearth and the Curfew placed over
them; the part cut out enabled the vessel to stand against the wall, so
that no air could reach the fire. The specimen from which Grose drew
this engraving was in the Antiquarian Repository; it was ten inches
high, sixteen inches broad, and nine inches deep. It was of copper
riveted together, for solder would have melted in the heat. Now such
a house as that described above was nearly as safe as a house built
with bricks, unless there was some other point of weakness in it. The
often-repeated edict which ordered the building of every house to be
of stone to a certain height was certainly never enforced; like the
rest of the mediæval ordinances, it could not be enforced for want of
a Police. The weak point of the house was often the roof: sometimes
wood of a lighter and cheaper kind was used for the support of the
roof, and sometimes—against the Laws—the material was even thatch,
though generally of tiles. Moreover, one suspects that in the poor
quarters, those south of Thames Street, where the narrow lanes still
contain a population of working people, the framework was not of oak,
but of a more inflammable kind of wood. The danger was not so much
from the houses themselves as from the stores containing oil, tallow,
and similarly combustible goods, and from the furnaces and smithies
standing about among the houses. Whatever the danger might have been,
the fact remains that during a thousand years there were only two great
fires, and but a few others which could be called considerable. And
the chief reason why the wooden City was not burned a hundred times
was that a framework of oak does not readily catch fire. All classes,
moreover, were deeply sensible of the danger: in every house, great or
small, before going to bed, the householder carefully raked together
the embers and covered them with a pot, so that they should not be
blown about and should retain their fire till the morning.

When, by acts of carelessness, drunkenness, or other mishap, fires
did occur, they understood how to stop the spreading of the flames
by pulling down the adjoining houses with hooks and grappling-irons.
There were also laws passed from time to time—with the curious mediæval
faith in the efficacy of laws without police to enforce them—ordering
various preventive measures, and one especially, namely, that partition
walls were to be of stone up to a certain height. But it is certain
that in the poorer parts the law could not be enforced; moreover, above
this height it was allowable to build in wood; and, in addition, the
thatched roof, though constantly threatened and ordered to be removed,
still remained in obscure places.

But it was from plague, of various kinds, that London had more to fear
than from fire. There was hardly a generation which neither witnessed
nor remembered some visitation of plague. And it was almost always of
one type. The outbreak of the sixth century, which overran the whole
of the Roman Empire, and spared England, perhaps did so because at the
time there was scarcely any communication between the Island and the

The plagues of London followed each other at irregular intervals.
Occasionally, as in the thirteenth century, the City remained a long
time without any unusual mortality. At other times, as in the fifteenth
century, plague or pestilence of some kind was continually in the City.
The following are the dates of the plagues recorded of London, not
including the doubtful one of 430:—There were plagues in 952, 1094,
1111, 1349, 1361, 1367, 1369, 1407, 1478, 1485, 1499, 1506, 1517 to
1521 (during which years the plague was never entirely absent), 1528,
1543, 1551, 1603, 1625, and 1665. That is to say, in seven hundred
years there were about twenty outbreaks of pestilence, an average
of one for every thirty-five years, although, as stated above, and
as can be observed in the list, there were long periods—one of 238
years—without any plague at all.

The great pestilence of the fourteenth century, most fearful,
most deadly, most incurable, called the “Black Death,” the “Great
Mortality,” which desolated three continents, came to us from the East.
It is conjectured that the disease was in some way caused by certain
strange disturbances of the earth in China, where there were droughts,
famines, thunderstorms, torrents of rain, earthquakes, and inundations.
In China there was a plague of some kind which carried off, it is said,
millions of the people. It was reported that a thick, stinking mist
advanced from the East, and covered one part of Europe, namely Italy
(Hecker’s _Epidemics of the Middle Ages_). There were many earthquakes.
There was one in January 1348, felt in Greece and Italy, in which
castles, churches, houses were overthrown, and villages were swallowed
up; the same earthquake was felt in other countries: in Carinthia
thirty villages were overthrown. These earthquakes continued to recur
until the year 1360, being felt over the whole of western and northern
Europe. Fireballs were observed in the heavens, filling the people with
terror. There were torrents, floods of rain, with the failure of the
harvest, so that famine set in. All these things preceded the plague.

It broke out in Constantinople, whither it had been brought by the
lines of trade from China, India, and Persia, in the year 1347. In
the same year it appeared at Cyprus, Sicily, Marseilles, and some of
the seaports in Italy. Sardinia, Corsica, Majorca were visited in
succession. In January 1348 it appeared at Avignon and the South of
France. In Florence it appeared in April of the same year. In England
it first appeared in the town of Dorchester, whence it spread, but not
rapidly, till it reached London in the autumn. It is quite impossible
to over-estimate the mortality caused by this fearful plague, the
worst, certainly, that ever afflicted the human race. The figures,
indeed, as given by Hecker, may be mostly disregarded. For instance,
in one line he tells us that India was depopulated, and in another
that twenty-three millions perished in all the East. It would take
many times twenty-three millions to depopulate India. Italy is said
to have lost half its population; in the city of Padua two-thirds of
the population died. In France there were places in which only two
or three people remained alive out of a whole village. And so on,
one might go on for pages to show the wholesale slaughter caused by
the scourge. In England it lasted until August 1349, a period of ten
months. There was a plentiful harvest, but there were no labourers to
reap the corn; there was abundance of cattle, but the plague seized
them, and they wandered about without herdsmen until they died. As for
London, the disease was beyond the skill of physicians. Very few of
those who were attacked recovered; the symptoms were the well-known
ones belonging to this virulent disease; we have but a scanty record
of London during this most terrible time; we can see, later on, by
the history of another plague, how the life of the City was affected
by such an event; we shall note the dislocation of the machinery, the
stoppage of work and trade, the destitution of the poor, the madness of
some, the repentance and contrition of some, the despair of some, the
callous fatalism of some, the reckless profligacy of some. (See _London
in the Time of the Stuarts_.) It was no use to fly into the country;
the poor country folk were lying dead in every village, and almost
in every field; one might as well sit down in the house overlooking
the City lanes, and watch the carrying away of the dead, and wait
one’s own time. The City churchyards became too crowded to allow any
more burials. Then other cemeteries were opened outside the walls.
The Bishop of London bought a piece of ground, called No Man’s Land,
north-east of Smithfield, enclosed it with a brick wall, and gave it
to the City for a burial-ground. It was called Pardon Churchyard, and
lay beyond what is now the north wall of the Charterhouse. After the
plague ceased, Pardon Churchyard became the burial-place of suicides
and executed criminals. Their bodies were carried thither in a cart
belonging to the Hospital or House of St. John; it was covered with
black cloth which had a white cross in front, and was provided with
a bell which rang with its jolting. The plague still continuing, Sir
Walter Manny bought another piece of ground, adjacent to the Pardon
Churchyard, thirteen acres in extent. This he enclosed, and gave to the
City as an additional burial-place. He further erected a chapel upon
it. This chapel stood somewhere in the middle of Charterhouse Square.
On the burial-ground, and with ten acres more of ground, Sir Walter
Manny afterwards built the House of the Carthusians. Fifty thousand
people who died of the plague were buried in this ground. The fact was
recorded on a stone pillar which stood in the place (see also vol. ii.
pt. iii. ch. iv.):—

“Anno Domini 1349, regnante magnâ pestilentiâ consecratum fuit hoc
coemiterium in quo et infra septa presentis monasterii sepulta fuerunt
mortuorum corpora plus quam quinquaginta millia præter alia multa
abhinc usque ad presens: quorum animabus propitietur Deus. Amen.”

These were not the only cemeteries consecrated for the reception of the
victims. On the north-east of the Tower there lay a piece of ground,
perhaps cultivated, perhaps waste, which was bought by a priest named
Corey, and given by him to the City, calling it the Churchyard of the
Holy Trinity. One, Robert Elsing, gave five pounds towards enclosing
it and building a chapel upon it; other citizens also assisted, and
when the plague was over, King Edward III., mindful of a recent escape
in a tempest through the miraculous interposition of the Virgin Mary
herself, built here a monastery, and called the House King Edward’s
Free Chapel of the Blessed Virgin of Grace—in memoriam Gratiarum. The
site is long since built over. But I suppose there must have been the
memory of that plague associated with the House. Indeed, though the
plague went away, it came again in 1361, again in 1367, in 1369, and in

These illustrations may indicate something of the impression made
upon the people by this terrible visitation, for such dangers, such
bereavements, incline the better class of mind to reflection and to
meditation. It is not impossible that the spread of Wyclyf’s opinions
among the citizens of London may have been partly due to the shock of
these successive plagues—the quickening shock which caused those who
were able to think to ask if outward forms were really all that made

The immediate effect of the Black Death on the Continent took many
forms. Many thousands were terrified into repentance of sins; many
thousands died of sheer terror; rich men and noble dames gave their
gold to monasteries; when the gates were closed to keep out infection
they actually threw their offerings over the walls. Many strange
things were done under the influence of this terror; the strangest of
all was the Brotherhood of the Flagellants, which sprang directly from
the terror caused by the Black Death. It originated in Hungary, and
it spread over the whole of Europe except England, where it appeared,
as will be seen immediately, once only. The Flagellants marched in
procession through the cities with singers at their head; they were
clad in sombre garments; they wore a kind of mask, or hood, over their
eyes; their heads were bent; they had red crosses on back and breast
and hood; and in their hands every man carried a triple scourge tied in
knots with points of iron. They sang a hymn as they marched, and at a
given signal they stripped to the waist and scourged each other. It was
a wonderful mania, and lasted for nearly a quarter of a century. These
Flagellants fanned into a flame the most fanatical prejudices; they
caused a persecution of the Jews equalled only by that when the hordes
of the First Crusade poured across Europe on their way to massacre on
the plains of Asia Minor. It seems wonderful that any Jews escaped,
for they were murdered, they were burned, and they were banished.
In Mayence alone 12,000 were put to death. Wherever the Flagellants
came, a persecution of the Jews followed. And—which has always been
observed in the persecution of this race—the more fanatical were their
enemies, the more resolute the Jews became. At Eslingen the whole
Jewish community burned themselves in their synagogue: an act equalled
only by the tragedy of Masada and the tragedy of York. In England at
this time we had no Jews. The Flagellants, therefore, when they arrived
here, which was not till the year 1368, could do no great harm. They
were Dutch, and a company of a hundred and twenty. They came over,
uninvited, with the laudable intention of making London repent. This
they tried to effect by marching as I have described above, every man
lustily scourging the man next to him—they must have marched in single
file. It would seem, however, as if London was not in the least moved
by the appearance of the blood streaming from the backs and shoulders
of the Brotherhood. The insular hatred of foreigners probably made the
citizens resent this uncalled-for interference with their wickedness.
So the Flagellants went home again. But the hymn they sang has been
preserved. It may be found in Hecker’s book, and it is all, like a
Salvation Army hymn, based upon the fear of Hell fire:—

    “Ye that repent your sins draw nigh,
      From the burning hell we fly,
      From Satan’s wicked company,
            Where he leads
            With pitch he feeds.
    If we be wise we then shall flee.
    Maria! Queen! we trust in thee
    To move thy Son to sympathy.

    Glad news I bring thee, sinful mortal,
    In heaven Saint Peter keeps the portal,
    Apply to him with suppliant mien,
    He bringeth thee before thy Queen.
    Benignant Michael, blessed Saint,
    Guardian of souls, receive our plaint,
    Through the Almighty Maker’s death
    Preserve us from the Hell beneath.”

The growing frequency of these terrible visitations of plague in the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries shows the insalubrity of the City.
That every day quantities of offal were thrown into the river, and that
a stream of blood from the shambles rolled daily down open gutters,
mattered very little: London was too small as yet, even with a hundred
thousand people, to do much harm to her noble river. The swans still
delighted to float and swim about London Bridge; salmon came up to be
caught in mid-stream; and even the town ditch, which also received a
good deal of the refuse, continued to be full of good fish. There were
scavengers—not only the rain, the frost, the sun, the wind, and the
kites, but men appointed to do for the householder then what they do
now: to remove the refuse. These men were appointed for every ward.
Their oath, given by Stow, seems from its language to belong to the
sixteenth century, but it may be older:

 “Ye shal swear that ye shal wel and diligently observe that the
 Pavements in every ward be wel and rightfully repaired: and not
 haunted by the Noyance of the Neighbours: and that the ways, Streets,
 and Lanes be kept clene from Donge and other filth, for the Honesty of
 the City. And that all the chimnies, Reredoses, and Furnaces be made
 of stone, for defence of Fire; and if ye know of any such ye shal show
 it to the Alderman; that he may make due Redress therefor. And this ye
 shal not leve. So help you God and by this Book.”

It is not what is thrown into a great tidal river from a town that
corrupts the town, nor is it what is thrown upon a lay-stall there to
lie for a few days until it is taken away; it is what sinks into the
earth and slowly spreads around, corrupting all the springs and wells,
and causing exhalations in times of heat and moisture. The greatest
difficulty of cities has always been the disposal of waste matter,
solid and liquid. For nearly two thousand years the lower part of the
City, the most densely populated part, was dotted with latrines and
cesspools; the whole soil of the City was soaked and permeated and
corrupted with the pestiferous stuff; the ground gave off a poisoned
breath; when the plague came, this poison encouraged it, helped it
along, spread it, and strengthened it. We have had no plague for more
than two hundred years. Perhaps the reason has been that the Fire of
London in 1666 not only baked and calcined the ground with its heat for
many feet deep, burning up the dead bodies which rested three or four
feet below the surface, with the coffins, bones, and deadly poisonous
soil of the churchyards, but also choking up the City wells—which were
never again opened—and burning the whole of the soil, decayed with the
impurities of two thousand years.

The fire baked the earth, and cleansed it, and destroyed its
exhalations for many feet below the surface; when the folk came back
again they found, though they knew it not, the ground cleaner than it
had been for two thousand years; as clean as when the solitary elk
stood upon the edge of the cliff and looked out upon the broad lagoon
of the river at high tide. The people began at once to restore, as
much as they could, the old state of things: the cesspools came back
and remained for a hundred and fifty years, but not the wells; in the
two hundred years that have passed, it has been impossible to restore
completely the mischievous conditions due to two thousand years of

There was another horrible method of poisoning the ground, and
therefore the air, namely the practice of burying in tiny churchyards,
crowded with the dreadful dead, not yet restored to the dust and
ashes from whence they came. The fire, as I have said, restored the
churchyards to their pristine purity of soil. The people, in this
respect as well, for they learned nothing, did their best to restore
the old conditions. As the population increased, they nearly succeeded;
the revelations of Dr. Walker in 1843 made the world shudder at the
enormities daily committed. This, too, we have altered; the crowded,
stinking churchyard is now a tiny spot of green with a tree in it and
a bench and a border of flowers. Only we may note that while we have
cleaned out and filled up cesspools, and stopped the burial of the
dead in our midst, and ceased to drink well water, we have arranged
for the introduction into the soil of a new and perhaps equally fatal
poison: the earth is now black and reeking with gas. It is, perhaps, a
scientifically interesting point to learn how long it will be before
the atmosphere, charged with gas, which all our millions breathe, will
encourage or develop another pestilence. And it will be a much more
costly business to burn down all London once more in the twentieth than
it was in the seventeenth century in order to purge and purify the soil

The next great danger always hanging over the City was that of famine.
The uncertain character of our climate, the occurrence of long rains,
untimely frost, summer with no warmth or sunshine, blight and murrain,
the ravages of war, and especially of civil war, the devastation
caused by plague and pestilence, the difficulty of importing grain
from abroad: all these causes conspired to make famine an ever-present
danger. Terrible famines are reported to have happened in the third and
fourth centuries; there were pestilences which accompanied times of
great scarcity. In the year 1086 there was a famine, in 1150 there was
a great dearth in London, another in 1195, another in 1257. The worst
famine ever experienced by London was that of the year 1315-16 (see
p. 51). It came after a succession of wet seasons and bad harvests,
and nothing in the history of famines can be worse than the horrors
of those two years: people lay out in the open streets and on the
highways dying of starvation, they and their children; men fought for
food everywhere; there were stories of mothers devouring their own
offspring; the prisoners in the gaols murdered and devoured each other.
Another terrible famine occurred in the year 1338; London, however,
felt it little, because the Mayor imported grain from Prussia: outside
London the people were making bread out of ivy berries and fern roots.




From MS. in British Museum. Harl. 4375.]

In Saxon London we have to consider the amazing ferocity of the
punishments, and the severity of the penance ordered (though evaded),
but in this era we may be surprised at the comparative mildness of
the mediæval punishments. Criminals were hanged, it is true, with
greater frequency than at present. They were also sometimes sentenced
to have their right hands lopped off, but the Alderman was generally
present, and ready to pardon the offenders on submission; chiefly we
read of pillory and stocks; if a second or third offence, pillory
with banishment from the City. The stocks were also a favourite form
of punishment, being a kind of pillory; they were for the most part
movable stocks—just two beams laid alongside each other with holes
for the feet; sometimes there was a ducking stool; sometimes a rogue
was clapped in prison—a noisome, stinking place, full of fever; in
extreme cases, he was put on penance, that is bread and water, until he
died. Of burning there were few examples until the reign of Henry V.
Margaret Jourdain, the witch, who assisted Eleanor Cobham, was burned.
Murder, burglary, and highway robbery were punished by hanging. Runaway
labourers were branded; sacrilege or rape was punished by hanging;
child-stealing—a common offence,—scolding, and other offences of women,
were punished by the stocks. The punishment of women by drowning was
practised in very early times by the ancient Germans and Anglo-Saxons.
It was continued down to the middle of the fifteenth century, when it
was finally, but not formally, abolished. But women were drowned on
the Continent in the eighteenth century. Among the Anglo-Saxons, women
who were convicted of theft were thrown over a cliff into the sea, or
submerged in any piece of water—stones being tied round the neck. The
London places of execution were the Thames and the pools of St. Giles,
Smithfield, St. Thomas Watering, and Tyburn. Sometimes the criminal
was sewn up in a sack with a snake, a dog, an ape—but where did they
get that ape?—and a cock. In the tenth century a woman was thrown from
London Bridge into the Thames. In the year 1200 a woman of Southfleet
was drowned for stealing cloth, and in the year 1244 one, Ann of
Lodbury, was drowned in St. Giles’ Pool.

In the reign of Henry III. the penalty of drowning began to be changed
for that of hanging. One woman, Ivella de Balsham, in that reign was
pardoned because, although hanged on Monday at the ninth hour, she was
found living on Tuesday at sunrise. It was thought a great innovation
when women were first hanged at Paris, and when it was begun, in the
reign of Charles VII., a great concourse of people, especially of
women, flocked together to witness it. “La dite femme pendue toute
deschevelee revestue d’une longue robe ceinte d’une corde sur les deux
jambes jointe ensemble au dessous de genoux.”

In Burgundy they suffocated the adulterous woman in mud. At Hastings
and Winchelsea they had no other form of capital punishment. Burying
alive was sometimes, but seldom, practised. On one occasion a party of
English soldiers, at the siege of Meaux by Henry V., were cut off, and
they were all killed except one man, who escaped by flight. The King
caused him to be buried alive with his dead companions. At Sandwich
there was a place called Thieves’ Down, where criminals were formerly
buried alive.

Treason has always, in every country, been punished by death; no
crime, indeed, has ever affected men’s minds with so much horror and
indignation. The English method is well known. The criminal was first
hanged by the neck, but not until he was dead; in many cases he was
only allowed to swing to and fro once or twice, and was then taken
down, before he was insensible, to undergo the more terrible part
of his punishment. He was stripped naked, and lines were marked, or
pricked, over his body as a guide to the hangman’s knife. The first cut
of the knife deprived him of his manhood; the next slashed open his
body; his bowels were then taken out and burned before his eyes—if the
poor wretch had any longer eyes to see; his heart was torn out; he was
then dismembered and his head taken off; head, limbs, and trunk were
set up in different places. In one case on record, a pardon arrived
just in time when the men had already been hanged, cut down, stripped
naked, and pricked all over for the hangman’s knife, and were lying in
a row waiting for the last agonies. The hangman refused to give them
back their clothes, and they walked home as they were.

The debtors’ prison for citizens and freemen of the City was Ludgate.
Thither were sent those debtors sentenced to prison by the Mayor,
Aldermen, Sheriffs, or Chamberlain. It appears that they were to stay
in prison until they paid their debts. Ludgate was assigned by charity
to the poor freemen of the City; it was thought that they would be more
happy by themselves than with “strangers” in Newgate. At one time,
however, the debtors made a bad use of this clemency by conspiring
together to invent charges against innocent men—they accused Aldermen,
for instance, of treason and other things. Instead of taking measures
to prevent these practices by the punishment of the malefactors,
King Henry V. was advised to abolish the prison altogether, and to
remove the prisoners to Newgate. There so many of them died that in
the same year the survivors were all taken back again to their old
quarters. The fact that they were prisoners for life appears in the
ordinance for abolishing the prison. It says that the prisoners ought
to dwell in quiet, pray for their benefactors, live upon the alms of
the people, and, in increase of their merits, by benign sufferance, in
such imprisonment pass all their lives, if God should provide no other
remedy for them.

Of punishments Holinshed gives what we may assume to be a complete
account. There was no torture; the country neither broke on the wheel
nor with the bar. For high treason the offender, if a commoner, was
hanged, drawn, and quartered, as we have seen; if a nobleman, he was
beheaded; for felony, manslaughter, piracy, murder, and rape, hanging
was the penalty. In heinous cases the body was hanged in chains. A
very large number of crimes came under the head of felony, which was
a capital offence. Thus it was felony to carry horses or mares into
Scotland; it was felony to steal hawks’ eggs; it was felony to practise
sorcery, witchcraft, or the digging up of crosses. For poisoning—a
crime held in the deepest abhorrence,—a woman was to be burned alive;
a man was to be boiled alive—either in water, oil, or lead. There was
one case recorded of boiling alive in water, but none that I know of
boiling in lead. Boiling in oil was conducted by tying the wretched
criminal to a pole and slowly lowering him, feet first, into the awful
caldron. Perjury was punished by pillory, and by branding on the
forehead with the letter P. Those who uttered seditious words had
their ears cut off; sheep-stealers had their hands struck off; heretics
were burned alive; disorderly women were put in pillory or stocks, and
stood in streets; they were also carted and ducked. The Knight Marshal
had the power of dragging a malefactor, man or woman, behind his boat
across the river between Lambeth and Westminster. Rogues and vagabonds
were stocked and whipped; scolds were ducked; pirates and robbers were
hanged at low water on the bank, and suffered to hang there till three
tides had flowed over them. Holinshed mentions as well a very strange
custom—one wonders if it was ever really practised. If any man living
beside a river wall or sea wall should suffer the wall to decay, he was
apprehended, condemned, and staked in the breach, to form part of the
foundation of the new wall to be erected thereon. Harrison corroborates
the statement.

Here are some of the crimes for which pillory was ordered as a
punishment. Adulteration of wine, pretending to be one of the
King’s purveyors, short measure, pretending to be a summoner of
the Archbishop, selling putrid fish, forging letters and seals,
pretending to be a collector for the Hospital of Bethlehem, stealing a
Baselard,[12] stealing a leg of mutton, forging title-deeds, slandering
the Sheriff, selling bad pigeons, insulting the Recorder, raising price
of wheat, spreading false reports, putting iron in a loaf to make it
weigh heavy, bringing false accusations, procuring, using false dice,
selling counterfeit goods or bad goods of any kind, short weight,
magic, fortune-telling.

  [12] A kind of knife worn at the girdle.—ED.

The City of London, except when the Mayor sat on a Justiciary at the
Gaol Delivery of Newgate, had not to deal with capital offences. It was
in excess of his powers when a certain Mayor caused two rioters, who
had insulted and assaulted him, to be beheaded. The King was out of
England, and the Mayor reported the case to him for his approval, which
was very cordially granted.

The offences punished by the City authorities were chiefly of the petty
cheateries enumerated above.

Aldersgate was let as a place of residence to the Common Serjeant;
Cripplegate, on the other hand, was let to John Watlyng, the serjeant
and common crier, on the condition of keeping there all the prisoners
who might be sent by the Mayor and Aldermen.

The case of Thomas de Albertis is curious and unsatisfactory. He was
a man of repute, and apparently of some wealth, living in the parish
of St. Swithin. The accusation against him was as follows: In the
year 1415 Thomas sent one, Michael Petyn, an alien and broker, to the
shop of William Bury, mercer in Soper Lane (now Queen Street), on the
pretence that the French King, then a prisoner, wanted a certain cloth
of gold. William Bury showed the cloth of gold, of which Michael agreed
to buy four pieces at £150, “and,” he said, “if you will send the
goods to Thomas de Albertis, he will pay for them on delivery.” William
Bury sent the goods by a servant, who was accompanied by Michael.
When they arrived at Thomas de Albertis’ house they were received
by the butler, who said that his master was out—this being part of
the conspiracy,—so the servant left the cloth of gold, and Michael,
as had been arranged, went to take sanctuary at the House of the
Minoresses outside Aldgate, while Thomas returned and took possession
of the cloth without paying for it. Thomas was tried by a jury, half
Englishmen, half aliens—which shows that he was an alien,—and found
guilty. They sentenced him to three appearances in the pillory. But on
the intercession of certain reputable merchants, the punishment was
commuted into a fine of £20.

The story on the face of it is quite inconsistent with truth. First,
what was Michael Petyn to get out of it? And next, how should a man
of position lend himself to a conspiracy certain to be exposed? But
the story shows that there were ingenious rogues in the London of the
fifteenth century.

The minute laws which regulated everything betray the absence of police
for the enforcement of those laws; a town which possessed a police
would never venture to pass rules which the most efficient police
could never enforce. Thus, to take some of the regulations almost at
random, it will be seen that there could not possibly be any method of
enforcing them. Serjeants and other officers were not allowed to take
Christmas gifts. So, in the same way, in the early days of the railway,
guards and porters were forbidden to take tips; yet, see what has come
of that rule. It was forbidden to go about the streets mumming, or
disguised, or acting at Christmas; the people were to make merry at
home. But one could not make merry at home; there must be a company
gathered together. Besides, what was Christmas without its mummers?
Also at Christmas time every house was to hang out a lantern—and who
was to go about the streets to enforce this rule? Then, as we have
seen, the prices of things were regulated over and over again without
the least regard to the ordinary rules of supply and demand. It was
also ordered, with blind confidence in the power of law, that no man
or woman of vicious life should live in the city; women of loose life
were to be known by their hoods, which were to be of ray, or striped
cloth—it was so perfectly certain that every woman who had lost her
virtue would hasten to proclaim the fact publicly. Taverns were to
be shut at curfew; nobody was to walk in the streets after dark;
nobody was to carry arms at night; boys were not to ask for money for
hocking, football or cock-throwing. All such laws are little more than
an expression of opinion. They were repeated over and over again;
offenders, no doubt, retired for a time—a week or two. Then they came
out again. For not even an effective police can make a city virtuous,
honest, and sober. Nothing will do this except public opinion—the
opinion of the whole people; and the City of London was as far from
that public opinion formerly as it is now.

Occasionally the law made itself felt in unexpected strength. Thus,
when John Gedeney, draper, refused to be Alderman, they shut up his
shop and confiscated his chattels until he changed his mind. And there
was the case of the priest who bought a man’s wife. The Mayor could
not punish him, because the Bishop alone had the power of punishing a
priest, but he could, and did, order that no one in the City should
employ him in any spiritual office whatever. And as regards the
observance of prices according to regulations, there was one case,
at least, in which women were sent to prison for refusing to sell at
the ordered price. The arm of the law, moreover, proved long enough
to catch William Blakeney, shuttlemaker, after six long years, during
which he had enjoyed a pleasant and profitable time as a Pilgrim. He
dressed for the part with bare feet and long hair and a Pilgrim’s
staff. According to his own account, he had been to Jerusalem, Rome,
Venice, and Seville; and the good people were never tired of listening
to his adventures and experiences; they were never tired, in addition,
of giving him food and drink. But he was found at last, and he was
paraded about the streets in a cart, with a whetstone round his neck,
to show that he was a liar, and was then put in pillory. A more serious
offence was that of William Pykemyle. He pretended to be a messenger
of the King. In this disguise he called upon the Countess of Bedford,
and upon the Countess of Norfolk, carrying the command of the King
that these ladies should join the Court at Leeds Castle in Kent. In
return for this gracious royal command, William received rich rewards.
This man was found out, tried, and sentenced first to pillory, then to
prison during the King’s pleasure, and then to banishment from the City.

In connection with the ridings “about London” in carts and on
horseback, with the face to the animal’s tail, with music to invite
attention, with pillory for greater publicity, with the offence written
on a placard hung upon the criminal’s neck, sometimes with the actual
matter of offence tied round his neck, as in the case of that chain of
putrid smelts forming a necklace for the vendor, were the attentions
of the people confined to jeers and derision and hooting? When one
stood in the pillory were things thrown? I am inclined to think that
the pelting was always possible, but uncommon, because it is mentioned
occasionally as having happened. Had it been customary, it would not
have been mentioned. Thus, in November 1553, a certain profligate
priest, or parson, Rector of St. Nicolas Cole Abbey, sold his wife to
a butcher. It was a time when all priests who regarded their safety
made haste to put away their wives; that was pardonable, but to make
money by the sad necessity was not well thought of. Therefore Parson
Chicken—that was his nickname—was carried round London in a cart. A
second time this worthy priest was taken round “for assisting an old
acquaintance in a ditch”—I do not understand the nature of the offence.
On this occasion it is noted that the popular indignation showed itself
in the hurling of rotten eggs at the man’s head, and the emptying of
vessels upon him from the windows as he passed. Another case is that
of Perkin Warbeck. He sat in stocks for a whole day before Westminster
Hall, and also in Cheapside. He received, we learn, numberless scorns,
reproaches, and gibes, but nothing is said of any personal ill-usage.

[Illustration: THE TUN, CORNHILL

E. Gardner’s Collection.]

The description of the prison on Cornhill, called the Tun, which was
of the kind elsewhere called a Clink, and consisted of one strong
room above and one below, gives Stow an opportunity of enlarging upon
punishments and offenders. Thus to the Tun were committed night walkers
and persons suspected or proved of incontinence. In the Mayoralty of
John of Northampton in 1383, the citizens, taking into their own hands
the rights belonging to the Bishop, imprisoned a number of unchaste
women in the Tun, and then bringing them out to be seen by all the
people, cut off their hair and carried them about the City with
trumpets and pipes. And they used the men who were guilty of the like
offence in the same way. This public shame seems to have been felt as
the greatest ignominy possible. There is, indeed, a case on record in
which three persons, notorious ringleaders of false inquests (_i.e._
persons who take money to be put in the jury and run to be made foremen
in certain cases), who were led about the City with papers on their
heads and their faces to the horse’s tail, actually died of shame.

 “And now,” says Stow, “for the punishments of priests in my youth: one
 note and no more. John Atwod, draper, dwelling in the parish of St.
 Michael upon Cornehill, directly against the church, having a proper
 woman to his wife, such an one as seemed the holiest among a thousand,
 had also a lusty chantry priest, of the said parish church, repairing
 to his house: with the which priest the said Atwod would sometimes
 after supper play a game at tables for a pint of ale: it chanced on
 a time, having haste of work, and his game proving long, he left his
 wife to play it out, and went down to his shop, but returning to fetch
 a pressing iron, he found such play to his misliking, that he forced
 the priest to leap out at a window over the penthouse into the street,
 and so to run to his lodging in the churchyard. Atwod and his wife
 were soon reconciled, so that he would not suffer her to be called in
 question: but the priest being apprehended and committed, I saw his
 punishment to be thus:—He was on three market days conveyed through
 the high street and markets of the city with a paper on his head
 wherein was written his trespass. The first day he rode in a cart, the
 second on a horse, his face to the horse’s tail, the third led betwixt
 twain, and every day rung with basons, and proclamations made of his
 fact at every turning of the street, as also before John Atwod’s
 stall, and the church door of his service where he lost his chantry of
 twenty nobles a year, and was banished the city for ever.”


From _What to See in England_, Gordon Home.]

So much is said about the scolding wife, the shrew, the brawling woman,
that one would incline to think either that women have changed, or that
some special conditions of the time tended to produce this variety
of woman. Everywhere it was found necessary to punish her by the
cucking-stool, which was a punishment belonging to the law of the land;
the woman was tied in it and dipped, head over ears, and the punishment
was carried on in some parts of the country as late as the last
century. There was, however, another and a more ignominious form of
punishment, if possible, than the cucking-stool. This was the “brank,”
or “the branks,” or the “pare of branks,” consisting of a light iron
frame, which was fitted on the head with an iron tongue, to be placed
in the mouth; there were many varieties of this, but the principle was
the same. The woman fitted with this headgear was either marched up
and down the streets, or carried about in a cart, or placed on a stage
in a kind of pillory. It has been suggested that probably the woman,
who became so violent that this punishment was thought necessary, was
suffering from some kind of excited brain; it is also possible that
domestic misfortunes may have ruined a woman’s temper, a bodily pain,
or excessive work. When life is easy, and there are no vexations or
sufferings, there are few scolds. In the year 1640, or thereabouts,
one, John Willis, deposed that he had seen a scold driven through the
streets of Newcastle with a brank upon her head. In this town there
used also to parade a drunkard walking in a cask which came down to his
knees. At Worcester, Ludlow, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Oxford, Shrewsbury,
Walsall, Lichfield, Walton-on-Thames, and many other places, there are
also branks preserved, I believe, to this day. At Bolton-le-Moor the
brank was used for the punishment of women of bad character.

Let us from the annals of mediæval crime extract a few illustrations of
mediæval punishment.

Since the greatest possible offence that can be committed against the
State is treason, I begin with the most remarkable case of high treason
that can be found in our history. It occurred in the year 1295.

The traitor was one Thomas Turberville, knight. He was taken prisoner
by the French at the siege of Rheims. While a prisoner, he was induced
to engage himself to convey information to the French as to what was
going on in England. Probably poverty—perhaps revenge—made him consent
to this shameful undertaking. He gave two sons as hostages to the
Provost of Paris, and came over to England pretending that he had
escaped. He was favourably received by the King, and such confidence
was reposed in him as might be expected for an honourable and gallant
soldier, who had done good service.

In consequence of this confidence he was able to convey to the French
information which enabled them to effect a landing at Hythe, Dover,
and other parts of the kingdom. Then he went into Wales on this
service, and engaged the Welsh to rise at the same time as the Scots.
He sent his letters by a secret messenger, who contrived to travel
without suspicion as belonging to the train or following of Ambassador
or Cardinal. On one occasion, however, the messenger betrayed him,
and instead of carrying the letters to Paris, took them straight to
the King, before whom he laid open the whole villainy of Sir Thomas
Turberville. The principal letter left no doubt possible. It was that
of a self-confessed, double-dyed villain. It was as follows:—

“To the noble Baron and Lord Provost of Paris, sweet Sire, at the Wood
of Viciens, his liege man at his hands, greeting. Dear Sire, know that
I am come to the Court of the King of England, sound and hearty; and
I found the King at London, and he asked much news of me, of which
I told him the best that I knew: and know, that I found the land of
Wales in peace, wherefore I did not dare to deliver unto Morgan the
thing which you well wot of. And know that the King has fully granted
peace and truce; but be you careful and well advised to take no truce,
if the same be not to your great advantage: and know that if you make
no truce, great advantage will accrue unto you, and this you may say
to the high Lord. And know that I found Sir John Fitz Thomas at the
King’s Court, for the purpose of treating of peace between him and
the Earl of Nichole as to the Earldom of Ulvester: but I do not yet
know how the business will turn out, as this letter was written the
day after that the Cardinals had been answered: wherefore I dare not
touch at all upon the business that concerns you. And know that there
is little watch kept on the sea-coast towards the South: and know
that the Isle of Wycht is without garrison: and know that the King is
sending into Almaine two bishops, and two barons, to speak to, and to
counsel with, the King of Almaine as to this war. And know that the
King is sending into Gascoigne twenty ships laden with wheat and oats,
and with other provisions, and a large sum of money: and Sir Edmund,
the King’s brother, will go thither, and the Earl of Nichole, Sir Hugh
le Despenser, the Earl of Warwyk, and many other good folks: and this
you may tell to the high Lord. And know that we think we have enough
to do against those of Scotland: and if those of Scotland rise against
the King of England, the Welsh will rise also. And this I have well
contrived, and Morgan has fully covenanted with me to that effect.
Wherefore I counsel you forthwith to send great persons into Scotland:
for if you can enter therein, you will have gained it forever. And if
you will that I should go thither, send word to the King of Scotland,
that he find for me and all my people at their charges honourably: but
be you well advised whether you will that I should go thither or not:
for I think that I shall act more for your advantage by waiting at the
King’s Court, to espy and learn by enquiry such news as may be for you:
for all that I can learn by enquiry I will let you know. And send to me
Perot, who was my keeper in the prison where I was: for to him I shall
say such things as I shall know from henceforth: and by him I will send
you the matters that I fully ascertain. And for the sake of God, I pray
you that you will remember and be advised of the promises that you made
me on behalf of the high Lord, that is to say, one hundred livres of
land to me and my heirs. And for the sake of God I pray you on behalf
of my children, that they may have no want so long as they are in your
keeping, in meat or in drink, or other sustenance. And for the sake of
God I pray you that you be advised how I may be paid here: for I have
nothing, as I have lost all, as well on this side as on the other: and
nothing have I from you, except your great loyalty, in which I greatly
trust. Confide fearlessly in the bearer of this letter, and show him
courtesy. And know that I am in great fear and in great dread: for some
folks entertain suspicion against me, because I have said that I have
escaped from prison. Inform me as to your wishes in all things. Unto
God (I commend you) and may he have you in his keeping.”

The traitor was arrested and taken to the Tower of London. A week later
he expiated his crime as follows:—

“He came from the Tower, mounted on a poor hack, in a coat of ray, and
shod with white shoes, his head being covered with a hood, and his
feet tied beneath the horse’s belly, and his hands tied before him;
and around him were riding six torturers attired in the form of the
devil, one of whom held his rein, and the hangman his halter, for the
horse which bore him had them both upon it; and in such manner was he
led from the Tower through London to Westminster, and was condemned on
the dais in the great hall there; and Sir Roger Brabazun pronounced
judgment upon him, that he should be drawn and hanged, and that he
should hang so long as anything should be left whole of him; and he was
drawn on a fresh ox-hide from Westminster to the Conduit of London, and
then back to the gallows; and there is he hung by a chain of iron, and
will hang, so long as anything of him remain.”

Understand what was meant by all these details. They were partly to
make him undergo the greatest humiliations possible; partly to teach
the people what was meant by high treason. First, he had been a noble
knight, therefore he must ride—but on a wretched hack. Next, he had
been a gallant soldier, therefore he must wear a helmet—but it was a
monk’s hood. Thirdly, as a soldier, he must have a coat of mail—but it
was of the poorest and commonest striped cloth, such as used to mark
the trade of a prostitute. Fourthly, instead of a soldier’s boots, he
wore the white shoes of a scullion. Fifthly, so that no one could doubt
what would be his fate after death, the devils had already got him; and
since he was to be drawn to his place of hanging, let the journey be
as long as possible, viz. from Westminster to the middle of Cheapside,
and then by Newgate to the gallows at the elms at Smithfield; and since
the ordinary hurdle as used for murderers and housebreakers is far too
good for him, therefore let him be drawn on the gory and bleeding hide
freshly stripped from the carcase. And finally, let him hang as long as
anything remains of him to hang—for all the world to see, and for all
the world to execrate.

Another memorable punishment was that of Sir Robert Tresilian, Lord
Chief Justice of Richard II., who was hanged with Sir Nicholas Brembre
and others. The method of his punishment illustrates the curious
mixture of barbarity and of pity which characterised the time. His
judges were anxious to inflict upon him the greatest possible amount
of ignominy, and at the same time not to destroy his soul. He was
therefore drawn on a hurdle all the way from the Tower of London to
Tyburn, and with some humanity they allowed him to rest at the end
of each furlong, in order that he might confess with the friar who
accompanied him. When, however, he arrived at Tyburn, he refused
absolutely to go up the ladder which led to the gallows. Then they
proceeded to beat him with clubs—remember this man had been Lord Chief
Justice,—and he finally consented to climb the ladder. When he stood
upon the scaffold he turned to the hangman and said, “You cannot
hang me as long as I have got anything on.” Thereupon they took off
his clothes and found in his pockets certain charms with which he had
provided himself against a violent death. Having thus removed the
charms, they proceeded to hang him naked, and he was left hanging for
the next twenty-four hours.

The prisons of London were those of the Tower (for persons accused of
high treason), Newgate, Ludgate, and the Fleet. The chambers over the
Gates of the City were, as we have seen, also used as prisons; and the
gate in Westminster leading from the Abbey to Tothill Fields. There
were also places of confinement of a temporary kind, such as the Tun in
Cornhill. Every liberty, again, had its own prison—as, for instance,
St. Katherine by the Tower,—and its own Court. Every monastery,
also, had its own prison for offending brethren. The ordinary prison
consisted of two rooms, one below the other, constructed of stone, with
very strong and thick woodwork. This was protected by being everywhere
covered with strong square-headed nails; the windows had iron gratings;
the heavy doors were studded with nails; the lower room, which was
the kitchen as well as the living-room, and a sleeping-room when the
prison was crowded, had a great fireplace, the chimney being strongly
barred above to prevent escape that way; there was outside a very small
courtyard for air and exercise. The Fleet prison, which was outside the
wall, was surrounded by a narrow fosse forming a branch of the Fleet
river. The arrangement of the room above, and the room below, was, of
course, modified when it became necessary to enlarge prisons, and to
provide for the separate accommodation of women.

When we speak of Crime and Punishment we are forced to speak of
Vagrants and Rogues. Below the busy and honest life of industry, hidden
away in the holes and corners of the labyrinthine City, was the life
of the rogues, the vagrants, the masterless men. If anything were
wanted to prove the ever-present existence of this population, one need
only read the Proclamations and Acts passed from time to time. Every
outbreak of foreign or civil war added to the number of those who, once
being taken from their work, would never return to it, and so became
tramps, highway robbers, common thieves. The nomad instinct provides
another contingent of those who cannot or will not work; the criminal
whom no one will employ furnishes a third contingent; the prodigal son,
who yearns and longs for the life of unrestraint with women, drink,
feasting, and singing, furnishes another contingent. All these people
found a harbour with congenial society in the Plantagenet times, as
they do now in and about the City of London. If they were not within
the walls they were not far without—in Clerkenwell, in Southwark, and
in Westminster. The laws for the repression of vagrancy and robbery
were sound and strong. If they could have been enforced, vagrants
and highway robbers would have disappeared. For the Saxon system of
frank-pledge provided that the hundred—or the tything—should be
responsible for every crime committed within its borders; further, if a
man entertained a guest for more than two nights, he became liable for
that guest. Yet without the goodwill of the people what is the use of
laws? Who could enforce these laws? Robin Hood, Adam Bell, Clym of the
Clough, and William of Cloudesley were popular heroes. As for vagrants,
it was notorious that thousands were driven to vagrancy to escape
starvation, through the tyrannous exactions of the overlord, or through
the hard forest laws.

Another cause of vagrancy was that which remains in force to this
day—the encouragement of beggars by giving them alms. There were
places dotted all over the country, not monasteries only but castles
and houses, where there were endowments and doles on certain days of
the year; these days, of course, were perfectly well known to the
tramp. The Statute of Winchester (A.D. 1285) makes it plain that the
sympathies of the people were with the tramp and highway robber. It
was enacted in this statute that there were to be stationed six men at
every gate of the City; that the gate was to be closed from sunset to
sunrise; and that the watch should arrest every suspicious person. This
statute was to be enforced in every town, but in London it was further
ordered that after Curfew tolled at St. Martin-le-Grand no man should
go about the City streets armed; nor should he go about the streets at
all unless “he be a great man or other lawful person of good repute,
or their certain messenger”; and whereas “offenders do commonly meet
and talk in taverns,” it was enacted that every tavern should be closed
at curfew, under penalties, the last and chief of which was to be
“forejudged” of his trade.

Again, who was to enforce these laws? What police were there to arrest
night walkers? Who was to ascertain whether a tavern was closed or
not? Accordingly, after the weak rule and troubled time of Edward II.,
we find his son in 1328 making a Proclamation against the granting
of Charters of Pardon for Robberies, Manslaughters, Felonies, etc.
Again, two years later, it is ordered that if suspicious persons pass
by they may be arrested, either by day or by night, and delivered up
to the Sheriff, who will judge if they be “Roberdes men, wastours, or
Draghlacthe” (draw latches). The three Proclamations—23 Edward III., 25
Edward IV., and 2 Richard II.—concerning labour and vagrancy forbade
absolutely the giving of alms to sturdy beggars. But proclamations
availed nothing: the peasants left their villages and wandered about
the roads; the men-at-arms wandered with them; the cripples, the blind,
the maimed, the mutilated, wandered from town to town; the leper walked
along with his “clack dish”; the strolling minstrel walked with them;
and they were all rogues and thieves and murderers together. Sometimes
they were set in the stocks; how could that have any effect upon a
tramp? Shame he had none; trade he had none; employer he had none;
vagrancy ran through his veins; there was no other life possible for
him. Prison was the only cure for vagrancy; and that, imprisonment for
life. Imprisonment, however, generally shortened life very quickly. A
case is mentioned by Jusserand (_Wayfaring Life_, p. 366) in which two
men and one woman were imprisoned as vagrants without being charged
with any robbery. It was at a place called Thorlestan; one of the men
died in prison; the other man lost one foot; the woman lost two feet by
putrefaction. The prison, in fact, was a foul and noisome place, not
paved, not cleaned, in which fever always lingered. In the fourteenth
century there is mentioned for the first time the influx of people from
the country into London. In the year 1359 the following Proclamation
was issued:—

“Forasmuch as many men and women, and others, of divers Counties, who
might work, to the help of the common people, have betaken themselves
out of their own country to the City of London, and do go about begging
there, so as to have their own ease and repose, not wishing to labour
or work for their sustenance, to the great damage of such the common
people; and also, do waste divers alms, which would otherwise be
given to many poor folks, such as lepers, blind, halt, and persons
oppressed with old age and divers other maladies, to the destruction
of the support of the same: We do therefore command on behalf of our
Lord the King, whom may God preserve and bless, that all those who go
about begging in the said city, and who are able to labour and work,
for the profit of the common people, shall quit the said city between
now and Monday next ensuing, and if any such shall be found begging
after the day aforesaid, the same shall be taken and put in the stocks
on Cornhulle, for half a day the first time: and the second time he
shall be taken he shall remain in the stocks one whole day: and the
third time he shall be taken, and shall remain in prison for 40 days,
and then forswear the said city for ever. And every constable, and the
bedel of every ward of the said city, shall be empowered to arrest such
manner of folks, and to put them in the stocks in manner aforesaid.”

In the _Vision of Piers Plowman_ there is a powerful contrast between
the honest labourer and the beggar. In the description of the latter
there is a touch which opens up a wide field of wickedness. “They
observe,” he says, “no law, nor marry women with whom they have
been connected. They beget bastards who are beggars by nature, and
either _break the back or some other bone of their little ones_, and
go begging with them on false pretences ever after. There are more
misshapen children among such beggars than among any other men that
walk on the earth.”

[Illustration: A BEGGAR

From _Romaunt of the Rose_ in British Museum. Harl. MS. 4425.]

This chapter belongs to the period which ends with the last of the
Plantagenets. Yet the legislation of the next century, which was
conducted on much the same lines as that of Richard II., and designed
to meet the same evils, may be considered here as showing the condition
of the City as regards beggars and rogues and persons without a
trade. We have seen that Order after Order, Statute after Statute,
Proclamation after Proclamation, was passed for the suppression of
the rogue, who, nevertheless, continually multiplied and thrived.
They tried other methods. They ordered sixteen Beadles of the four
hospitals—Christ’s, Bartholomew’s, St. Thomas’s, and Bridewell—to
divide the City between them, taking six wards for the party of four,
and to arrest all the beggars of the City: the impotent and the aged,
the sick, the lame, the blind they were to take to St. Bartholomew’s
or St. Thomas’s; the children were to be taken to Christ’s Hospital;
the sturdy beggars and vagabonds were to be taken to Bridewell, where
they would receive “Payment”—it need not be explained what was the
nature of the remuneration. It is not stated that success attended this
measure, but the imagination pictures the sturdy beggar marching out
of Bishopsgate, and Newgate, and Ludgate, with all possible speed, and
with the air of an honest craftsman, while the impotent and the rest
of them betook themselves to Southwark. At every gate of the City was
planted one of the Beadles. It seems an odd service to exact of an
Hospital officer to watch those who entered and those who went out; and
every Beadle was to inquire of the collectors in every Ward for the
houses which harboured vagrants; and these vagrants and sturdy beggars
who should be set to work should be attended by a Beadle. Strange as it
may appear, this method produced no visible decrease in the number of
beggars and vagabonds, maimed soldiers, and masterless men, by whom
the City was infested. They then made trial of a City Police. At first
it was a beginning only. They appointed two City Marshals for the
clearance of disorderly persons, whom they had authority to banish. One
supposes that they did banish them, but it is certain that they came
back again. Yet, for a time, the City Marshals succeeded; the chief
haunts of rogues at this time were the new streets about Clerkenwell
and Islington. On one occasion, a great and unexpected search being
made in these places, several hundreds were arrested and taken to
Bridewell, where they were all flogged and set to work. Yet a few years
later the proclamations against masterless men were out again, with
more vigorous search and more arrests and more floggings.

This view of low life in London may be concluded with Stow’s account of
Mr. Wotton, though in reality he adorned the next century:—

 “Among the rest they found out one Wotton, a Gentleman born, and
 sometime a Merchant of good Credit, but falling by Time into Decay:
 this Man kept an Alehouse at Smarts-key near Billingsgate: and after,
 for some Misdemeanour, put down, he reared up a new Trade of Life.
 And in the same house he procured all the Cutpurses about the City to
 repair to his House. There was a School-house set up, to learn young
 Boys to cut Purses: two Devices were hung up, the one was a Pocket the
 other was a Purse. The Pocket had in it certain Counters, and was hung
 about with Hawks Bells, and over the top did hang a little Sacring
 Bell. The Purse had silver in it. And he that could take out a Counter
 without any Noise, was allowed to be a public Foyster. And he that
 could take a piece of silver out of the Purse without Noise of any of
 the Bells, was adjudged a judicial Nypper, according to their Terms of
 Art. A Foyster was a Pickpocket, a Nypper was a Pickpurse or Cutpurse.
 In this Wotton’s House were written in a Table divers Poesies, and
 among the rest this was one.

    Si spie, Sporte: si non spie, tunc Steal.
    Another this—
    Si spie, si non spie, Foyste, Nyppe, Lyfte
    shave, and spare not.

 _Note_, that Foyst is to cut a pocket: Nyppe is to cut a purse: Lyfte
 is to rob a shop, or a Gentleman’s Chamber: Shave is to filch a Cloak,
 a Sword, a Silver Spoon, or such-like, that is negligently looked
 into: to which add one phrase more in those times used among this
 sort, Mylken Ken, which is, to commit a robbery or Burglary in the
 Night in a Dwelling house.”

The Coroner’s Rolls from 1272-1278 have been preserved, and are
published by Riley in his _Memorials_. They form a curious collection
of cases. Let us go through these inquests of the thirteenth century.
The exact dates do not concern us.

John Fuatard and John le Clerk were playing a game called
“tiles”—probably rounded like quoits—on a certain Sunday morning in the
churchyard of St. Mary Overies, the latter being Clerk in the Church
of St. Mary Magdalene. By accident, John le Clerk, in throwing his
tile, struck the other so violent a blow on the head that it killed him
on the spot. Having done this, John le Clerk ran away to the Church,
and was no more seen, at all events, till after the inquest. Goods
and chattels the Clerk had none. The neighbours of the deceased were
attached, _i.e._ bound over to give evidence if called upon.

Henry de Flegge, taking his horse to water in the Dock of Castle
Baynard Ward, was carried out into the river by the animal, and fell
off his back and so was drowned. The nearest people to the place where
the body was found were attached.

In the Tower Ward—“Ward of William de Hadestock”—and in the Parish
of Barking Church, one, Gervase de Noreys, was found lying dead. It
was ascertained that the deceased was quarrelling with one William
Lyndeseye, and that the said William, drawing a knife, gave Gervase
two wounds, one in the left breast, and one in the back, of which
wounds he immediately died. William thereupon fled to the Church, where
he remained. The goods of William were seized, but they amounted to
nothing more than a tabard (short coat), one hatchet, a bow with three
arrows, and one shirt, the whole valued at 16 pence.

On the Wednesday following, William acknowledged the crime before the
Chamberlain and Sheriffs, and “abjured the realm.” They gave him three
days to get to Dover, where he was to take boat across the Channel.

Henry Green, a water carrier, went down to the river to fill his
tankard. The water carrier, sometimes called a cobb, carried a
vessel—perhaps two vessels at a time—called tankards.

Henry Green, then, went down to the riverside with his tankard; he
stepped into a boat; he filled the tankard and would have gone back
to the quay, but the weight of the tankard caused the boat to move
backwards, and Henry Green fell in and was drowned.

The Coroner learned the facts, examined the body, which showed no
sign of violence, and appraised the boat and the tankard at 5s. 6d.
The valuing of things at an inquest was for deodand, or the King’s
perquisite. It would then appear that the owner of the boat lost it.
Yet he was not to blame. The theory of the deodand was that the value
of the instrument, or cause of the death, was to be given to the King,
by him to be offered to God, if he so chose.

Another man, name unknown, was found drowned in the fosse of the Tower.
The evidence stated that he was seen to take off the “coat of russet
which he wore,” and in a naked state entered the water and sank to the

In the Ward of Henry de Coventre (Vintry Ward), Adam Seliot, a servant
of Ponce de More of St. James Garlickhythe, was trying to climb a pear
tree in the garden, when a branch broke and he fell to the ground, by
which fall his “whole body was almost burst asunder.” The pear tree was
valued at 5s. for the deodand.

In the Parish of St. Brigid and the Ward of Anketil de Auvergne
(Farringdon Ward Without) an inquest was held on the body of John le
Hancrete. The witness said:—

“That the said John came from a certain feast that had been held in the
City of London to the house of William before-named, being very drunk,
that is to say, on the Monday before, at the hour of Vespers, where he
had hired his bed by the day; and that then, intending to lie down upon
it, he took a lighted candle for the purpose of making his bed; which
done, he left the candle burning, and fell asleep thereon. And the
candle being thus left without any one to look after it, the flame of
it caught the straw of the bed upon which the said John was lying; and
accordingly, he, as well as the bed and the straw aforesaid, was burnt,
through the flame of the candle so communicating, at about the hour of
midnight. And so, languishing from the effects thereof, he lived until
the Tuesday following, at the hour of Matins, on which day and hour
he died from the burning aforesaid. Being asked if they hold any one
suspected of the death of the said John, they say they do not. And the
body was viewed; upon which no wound or hurt appeared, save only the
burning aforesaid.”

Roger Canny, on a certain cold night in December, was going home. He
had been drinking till curfew at the tavern of Robert Box. He was very
drunk when he started: presently he fell down in the street, and so
lay out in the frost and died of the cold. It was stated that he had
epilepsy, or a “falling sickness,” but the “falling” was probably due
to the beer and not to the epilepsy.

The inquest on Richard de Parys, chaloner (maker of _chalons_ or
blankets), was of a much more complicated nature. Let us quote Riley’s

The witnesses “say that on the preceding Sunday, after curfew rung,
it happened that one Richard Moys, going along the King’s highway, came
to the door of John le Chaloner, next to the house of Agnes de Essexe,
near Fancherche; in which house lodged Robert de Munceny and Arnulph,
his son, with his household; and so, trying to make entrance therein,
he knocked, shouted, and made a noise. On seeing which, four of the
household aforesaid, who were standing at the hostel of the knights
before-mentioned, and of whose names they are ignorant, being moved
thereat, requested him to cease making his noise, and go away; and
as he refused to do so, they cried out that he must leave forthwith;
whereupon, hearing the outcry aforesaid, Robert and Arnulph, and all
of Robert’s household, came out, that is to say, John de Munceny,
son of Robert, John Fauntilun, Robert de la Rokele, Henry de Ginges,
John Curtoys, John de Hakone, John le Wyte, Hugh de Hoddone, Hachard
de Garbodesham, and Robert de le Lo, some with swords, and some with
other arms. And all of them, save only the said Robert, who stood at
the door of his hostel, followed the said Richard, who fled to the
house of Alice le Official; in which house many persons were seated
drinking, with the door open, among whom were Richard de Parys, now
dead, and one Henry Page; and Richard Moys concealed himself between
two wooden vessels there. And the said Arnulph, on entering, met at the
door the said Richard de Parys, who cried out, ‘Who are these people?’
whereupon Arnulph struck him with his drawn sword, already stupefied
as he was at the sight of the sword. Then rushing into the house, he
gave him a wound in the back, between the ribs of the body, two inches
in breadth, and penetrating to the intestines; and another small wound
under the left breast. From which wounds he languished, and survived
until the Thursday following, on which day, at the hour of Matins, he
died. And immediately after perpetrating this felony, Arnulph went
forth and joined his accomplices, and they went together to his hostel,
John and Hachard excepted, who took to flight; and there they remained
in his house. Being asked if they hold anyone else suspected of that
death, either in deed or in abetting the same; they say all the persons
aforesaid, except the said Robert de Munceny, who was standing at
the door of the hostel where he lodged, while this was going on, the
said Hachard and John included, who fled immediately after the felony
was committed, were present when the same was committed. No person,
however, wounded him, save only the said Arnulph; nor do they hold the
said Robert suspected of abetting him. And all of them were taken and
imprisoned, except those who took to flight. None of them had any goods
or chattels, except the said Robert de Munceny and Arnulph, his son;
who had six horses, three beds, one falcon, and three greyhounds, which
are appraised at 20 marks in the whole. And the body was viewed, etc.

[Illustration: A HAND-TO-HAND FIGHT

From MS. in British Museum. Harl. 4374.]

And the two neighbours nearest to the spot where the said Richard de
Parys lay dead, were attached, by sureties; and the two neighbours
nearest to the spot where he was wounded; and the two neighbours
nearest to the hostel from which they went forth. And Agnes de Essexe
was attached, in whose house the said malefactors were lodged, and
Alice, her maid-servant. And all the persons were attached, who were in
the house where he was wounded.”

Matilda, wife of Henry le Coffeur, came to a tragic end like Roger
Canny, through the effects of drink. She was going home very drunk and
she fell and broke her right arm. They carried her to her own home
and she languished for three days, when she died. Probably there was
something else broken as well as the arm.

The next is a case of murder with several points of interest.

Symon de Winton kept a tavern in Ironmonger Lane. His body was found in
a coal-cellar in Easter 1278.

The facts were these. The said Symon had a servant named Roger de
Westminster. On December 7, 1277, the master and his man had a violent
quarrel. They carried on the quarrel the whole of the next day. Now
they slept in the same room. On the following morning, Roger opened the
tavern as usual, set out the benches and sold wine, as if nothing had

“And as the said Symon had not been seen by the neighbours all that
day, they asked Roger what had become of his master; whereupon he made
answer that he had gone to Westminster, to recover some debts that
were owing to him there; and on the second day and third he gave the
same answer. At twilight, however, on the third day, he departed by
the outer door, locking it with the key, and carrying off with him a
silver cup, a robe, and some bedclothes, which had belonged to the
same Symon. Afterwards he returned, and threw the key in the house of
one Hamon Cook, a near neighbour, telling him that he was going to
seek the said Symon, his master, and asking him to give him the key,
in case he should come back. And from that day the house remained
closed and empty until the Eve of Our Lord’s Circumcision (January
1) following; upon which day John Doget, a taverner, taking with him
Gilbert de Colecestre, went to the house aforesaid to recover a debt
which the said Symon owed to him for wines. But when he found the door
closed and locked, he inquired after the key of the neighbours who
were standing about; upon hearing of which, the said Hamon gave him up
the key forthwith. Upon entering the tavern with Gilbert aforesaid,
he found there one tun full of wine, and another half full, which he
himself had sold to Symon for 50 shillings; and this he at once ordered
to be taken out by porters, namely, Henry Wyting, William le Waleys,
Ralph le Yreis, Hugh Noteman, and Stephen de Eyminge, and put in a cart
belonging to Henry Wyting aforesaid, and taken to his own house, for
the debt so due to him; together with some small tables, canvas cloths,
gallons, and wooden potels, two shillings in value. This being done,
the said John Doget shut the door of the house, carrying away with him
the key thereof; from which time the house was empty, no one having
entered it until the Tuesday before Palm Sunday. Upon which day, Master
Robert aforesaid, to whom the house belonged, came and broke open
the door for want of a key, and so entering it, immediately enfoffed
Michael le Oynter thereof; which Michael, on the Saturday in Easter
week, went there alone, to examine all the offices belonging thereto,
and see which of them required to be cleansed of filth and dust. But
when he came to the narrow and dark place aforesaid, he there found the
headless body; upon seeing which, he sent word to the said Chamberlain
and Sheriffs.

Being asked if any one else dwelt in the house, save and except those
two persons, or if any one else had been seen or heard in that house
with them on the night the felony was committed, or if any other person
had had frequent or especial access to the house by day or night, from
which mischief might have arisen, they say, not beyond the usual resort
that all persons have to a tavern. Being asked if the said Roger had
any well-known or especial (friend) in the City, or without, to whose
house he was wont to resort, they say they understand that he had not,
seeing that he was a stranger, and had been in the service of this
Symon hardly a fortnight. Being asked therefore whither he had taken
the goods he had carried off, they say that, seeing that the house was
near to the Jewry, they believe that he took them to the Jewry; but to
whose house they know not. Being asked what became of the head so cut
off, they say they know not, nor can they ascertain anything as to the
same. They say also that the said Roger escaped by stealth, and has not
since been seen. Chattels he had none.”

In the Church of St. Stephen Walbrook, William le Clerke ascended the
belfry to look for a pigeon’s nest. As he was climbing from beam to
beam his feet failed him and he fell, being instantly killed. The beam
was appraised at fourpence.

In West Chepe, the body of William le Pannere, pelterer, was discovered
near the Conduit. It was found that he had been just weakened by being
blooded so that he fell on his way home and expired on the spot.

In Broad Street Ward—the “Ward of William Bukerel”—one Matthew de
Hekham was lying dead in the house of Richard le Clerk in Lothbury. The
story is curious:—

“Who say that on the Sunday next after the Feast of St. Matthew the
Apostle (September 21), the said Matthew was going from Bradestrete
towards the Jewry, and when he had reached midway between the lane
called ‘Isemongere Lane,’ and the Guildhall of London, there met him
certain Jews, Abraham de Derkynge, Isaac de Canterbury, and Cresse, son
of Isaac de Lynton. And upon so meeting him, Abraham before-named, of
malice aforethought, took the said Matthew by the shoulder, and threw
him in the mud; and upon his attempting to rise, Isaac before-mentioned
struck the said Matthew with a certain _anelace_ [a knife or dagger]
of his below the right shoulder-blade, in the loins, inflicting upon
him a wound one inch in breadth and six inches deep. After which,
the said Matthew pursued them, as well as he was able, from the spot
before-mentioned to the wall of St. Laurence Jewry, where, being
too much weakened through excessive loss of blood, he could follow
them no farther; but rising from the ground, he went to the house of
Richard before-named, where he was found. And so, after languishing
from the Sunday before-named to the Friday next before the Feast
above-mentioned, he died at daybreak on that day. Being asked if they
hold any other person or persons suspected, they say no one, except the
said Isaac, who gave him the wound from which he died: and that the
aforesaid Abraham and Cresse were consenting to the felony. Being asked
as to the chattels of the felons, they say that they know nothing of
them. And the body was viewed, upon which appeared the wound aforesaid,
and that most horrible.”

Nothing is said as to the trial of Abraham, Isaac, and Cresse.

It was reported that one Gilbert Clope was lying dead on a quay near
the Tower. Gilbert was not quite right in his mind. One says he was
leaning against a certain wall on London Bridge, and apparently fell
asleep, his head and body projecting over the Bridge, so that he fell
in and was drowned.

Henry de Lanfare met his death in a very singular manner:—

“One Richard de Codesfold having fled to the Church of St. Mary
Stanigeslane in London, by reason of a certain robbery being by one
William de London, cutler, imputed to him, and the same William
pursuing him on his flight thereto; it so happened that on the night
following the Day of the Invention of the Holy Cross (May 5) in the
present year, there being many persons watching about the church
aforesaid, to take him, in case he should come out, a certain Henry de
Lanfare, ironmonger, one of the persons on the watch, hearing a noise
in the church, and thence fearing that the same Richard was about to
get out by another part of the church, and so escape through a breach
that there was in a certain glass window therein, went to examine
it. The said Richard and one Thomas, the then clerk of that church,
perceiving this, the said Thomas, seizing a lance, without an iron
head, struck at Henry before-mentioned through the hole in the window,
and wounded him between the nose and the eye, penetrating almost to
the brain. From the effects of which wound he languished until the Day
of St. Dunstan (May 19), when he died, at about the third hour. They
say also, that as well the said Richard as Thomas before-mentioned are
guilty of that felony, seeing that Richard was consenting thereto.”

“And the said Thomas was taken, and imprisoned in Newgate, and
afterwards delivered before Hamon Haweteyn, Justiciar of Newgate. And
the said Richard still keeps himself within the church before-named.
Being asked if they hold any more persons suspected as to that death,
they say they do not. They have no lands or chattels. And the body was
viewed, upon which no other injury or wound was found, save only the
wound aforesaid.”

The last of these historiettes is the story of Godfrey de Belstede and
the manner of his death:—

“The before-named Godfrey, on the Day of St. Bartholomew (August 24)
last past, was coming from Cestrehunte (Cheshunt) towards London,
mounted on a hackney, hired of a certain man of that village, as
they believe, but as to whose name and person they are ignorant, and
having one Richard le Lacir in his company, they met certain carters
coming from London, with three carts, but as to the names and persons
of whom they are altogether ignorant. Whereupon, one of the carters
aforesaid began most shamefully to abuse the said Godfrey, for riding
the said hackney so fast, and a dispute arose between Godfrey and the
said Richard, on the one side, and the said carters on the other, one
of the carters seizing with his hands a certain iron fork, struck
Godfrey upon the crown of his head, with such force, as to inflict a
wound two inches in length, and penetrating almost to the brain. The
other carters also badly beat him all over the body with sticks, and
maltreated both him and the said Richard le Lacir; so much so, that
the latter hardly escaped with his life. Godfrey before-named survived
from the Day of St. Bartholomew to the Thursday before-mentioned,
languishing from the wound and beating aforesaid; and on that day, at
about the third hour, he died. And the body was viewed: upon which was
seen the wound aforesaid, and it appeared altogether disfigured from
the beating before-mentioned.”



The best method of treatment as regards the Christian names borne by
the people during this period is to give a list of the more common
names. Now there is a list ready to hand giving the names—Christian
and surname—of Cade’s Kentish followers. The whole number of men on
the list amounts to 1719. I have gone through the list and transcribed
the Christian names. The following is the result, classified according
to frequency. The names present themselves to us rather unexpectedly.
Thus, we have them as follows:—

  John               546
  William            277
  Thomas             233
  Richard            196
  Robert             115
  Henry               53
  Nicolas and }
  Stephen     } each  37
  Roger               33
  Simon               22
  Laurence            21
  Peter and   }
  Walter      } each  17
  James               15
  Ralph               12
  Hugh                 8
  Adam                 7
  Philip               6
  Alan        }
  Elias       }
  Dionysius   } each   5
  George      }
  Galfrid     }
  Hamo        }

  Guy         }
  Bernard     } each   3
  Bartholomew }
  Michael     }

  Andrew      }
  Benedict    }
  Augustine   } each   2
  Salmon      }
  Herman      }

  Alexander   }
  Alexius     }
  Christopher }
  David       }
  Gerard      }
  Marcus      }
  Lodowik     }
  Vincentius  } each   1
  Valentine   }
  Goodman     }
  Gilbert     }
  Daniel      }
  Waldus      }
  Clement     }
  Sampson     }

It will be seen that there are only forty-eight names in all. One-third
of the men are named John, one-sixth William, one-seventh Thomas,
one-eighth Richard, one-fifteenth Robert, one-thirtieth Henry; and that
more than thirty out of the forty-eight names are used less than six
times each. Two-thirds of the people are called either John, William,
Thomas, Richard, or Robert. And all the Saxon names except one are
clean gone and forgotten. Not one Alfred, Edward, Ethelred among them

Here, again, is another list containing the names of 130 men. They come
out in the following order:—

  John         34
  William      17
  Thomas       15
  Richard      10
  Robert        8
  Henry         8
  Roger         5
  Adam          5
  Stephen       3
  Geoffrey      3
  Nicholas      4
  Walter        3
  Alexander     2
  Simon         2

And once:—Laurence, James, Peter, Godfrey, Alan, Giles, Gilbert,
Andrew, Raynard.

Here, too, Saxon names have gone quite out of use. Among the names of
women we find Johanna or Joan very common. Also frequently met with are
the names of Isabel, Matilda, Alison, Lucy, Petronilla (Parnel), Agnes,
Idonia, Avica, Elecota, Richolda, Ecota, Claricia, Arabella, Theophania
(Tiffany), Massanda, Desiderata, Fynea, Massilia, Auncelia, Godiyeva.

As regards the women’s names, I have taken them from the _Calendar of
Wills_ and arranged them in alphabetical order. It will be observed
that though Saxon Christian names have entirely died out among men,
many are preserved among women. It will also be observed that many
beautiful names have been lost to us, though they might very well be
revived. In spelling there are varieties, of which a few are here

  { Adrey
  { Awdrey

  { Agata
  { Agatha
  { Amia
  { Amy

  { Amisia
  { Amicia
  { Anselina
  { Auncelina

  { Beatrice
  { Beatrix

  { Cecilley
  { Cecilia
  { Collecta
  { Collet
  { Coletta

  { Deonisia
  { Dionisia

  { Edith
  { Edyth
  { Em
  { Emma



  { Hawisia
  { Hawysa

  { Helen
  { Helyn

  { Isolda
  { Isoude

  { Joane
  { Johan

  { Johanetta
  { Johanna
  { Jouette
  { Juetta


  { Lecia
  { Liecia
  { Letia

  { Marion
  { Mariona

  { Marsilia
  { Massilia
  { Maudelyn
  { Mawdlyne


  { Pernella
  { Petronilla

  { Rayna
  { Reyna
  { Roesia
  { Roisia
  { Roysia

  { Rosa
  { Rose

  { Sabina
  { Sabine

  { Thypphanya
  { Tyffania
  { Theophania


I have also drawn up a list of surnames belonging to London citizens in
the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries. Such a list very
properly belongs to the history of London. It may be analysed by any
who desire to investigate the origins of names. For the purpose of this
work, I have found it to be sufficient to take the analysis made by
Riley for his _Memorials of London and London Life_. It is in substance
as follows:—

1. The surname of the native country, William Waleys—“the Welshman”;
Walter Noreys—“the Norwegian”; John Frauncis—“the Frenchman.”

2. The surname of the native town—Riley found nearly every town and
village of England represented in the London names.

3. The surname taken from the position of the man’s residence, as Hugh
de Stone Crouche—Hugh near the Stone Cross of Cheapside; John atte
Strond—in the Strand; Ralph de Honeylane.

4. From the sign of a house. Hence the class of names such as Gander,
Buck, Hind, etc.

5. From the trade of the man or that of his father or his ancestor.
All such names as Brewer, Baker, Smith, etc., belong to this class.
The name of Chaucer (shoemaker) came to the poet from his grandfather
presumably, as his father was not a shoemaker.

6. From a nickname, descriptive or sobriquet. Among these Riley
enumerates Bon Valet, Godgrom (good groom), Cache marke (Hide
halfpenny), Piggesfleshe, Brokedishei, Black in the Mouth, Weathercock,
Spillwyne, Gollylolly.

The learned editor of the _Memorials_ very justly argues that at that
time most men had no need of a surname. If a man were poor he would
never have to sign any document at all during the whole of his life.
If he were a servant or a craftsman, a Christian name would be quite
enough for him; as, at the present day, we may have servants in the
house without knowing their surnames at all; and among the better sort
a Christian name with something to distinguish the holder from others
with the same Christian name would be quite enough.

By the fourteenth century the old names of the ancient City families
have quite died out. These were Algar, Hacon, Thovy, Lotering, Bukerel,
Aswy, Basing, Anketill, Blount, Batte, Frowyk, Hervy, Vyel, Harvell,
Aleyne, Hardel, and others. Some of these families became extinct; some
withdrew into the country; some, perhaps, lost their wealth and sank
down into the mass of the people.

As an illustration of these divisions, let us take a string of names
consecutively from the Index to the _Calendar of Wills_, part i.



Of these names—thirty-nine in all—fourteen belong to trades, fifteen
belong to places, three express a qualification or condition, three
are Christian names, the name Gamelyn suggests Chaucer’s Cook’s
Tale of Gamelyn. In another place this occurs as a Christian name.
Furnival reminds us that as early as the reign of Henry IV. the Inn
once belonged to the Lords Furnival and their town house had become an
Inn of Chancery. The name of Fynch appears from Riley’s _Memorials_,
p. 229, to have belonged to Winchelsea; the Galocher was a maker of
galoches, which were shoes with wooden soles; the name of Gene may
have referred to Genoa; Fusedame and Gautroun are beyond me. (See also
Appendix IX.)




 _Of the discord raised in St. Paule hys churche in London betwene the
 Cleargie & the Duke, Syr Henry Percye & the Duke, by John Wiclyffe._

“Thys sonne, therefor, of perdition, John Wiclyffe, was to appeare
before the bishopps the Thursday before the feast of St. Peter his
chaire (23 of February) there to be converted for marvellous wordes
that he had spoken, Sathan, the adversarye of the whoole churche, as
ye beleaved, teachynge hym: whoe after the nynth houre, the duke &
Syr Henry Percye & divyers other assystynge hym, whoe by there powre
were able to trouble the weake people, and also beynge as a meane
betwene them, what yf any thynge sholde fall from the table of the
ritche bishopps, that ys to say plate, although it were soyled in the
fall, they wolde gather yt upp and wolde chew yt by there backbytynge,
beholde the abominable hoste, John aforenamed, was brought furthe
with greate pomp, nether yet was sufficient yt for hym to have onely
the common sergeants, unlesse Syr Henrye Percye the chiefe Marshall
of Englande did goe before hym; in the waye he was animated by his
companions not to feare the congregation of the bishopps, whoe in
respect of hym were unlearned, nether yet the concourse of the people,
seynge that he was walled in on every syde with so many knightes. His
body was now broughte into St. Paul’s churche with an incredible pryde,
where such a multitude of people was gathered togeather to heare hym,
that yt was harde for the noble men and knyghtes (the people lettynge
them) to pass through, and even by & by with this occasion they were
persuaded craftely to pull backe with there handes there scholer, that
he myght escape deathe entended him by manye bishopps. The devill found
a way, that fyrste a dissension beynge mayde betwene the noble men &
bishopp, hys answer myght be differed. Truly when the people beynge
gathered togeather, stayed to geave place unto the noble men, Syr Henry
Percye abusynge hys authorytye miserably pricked forwardes the people
in the churche, whiche the Bishop of London seyng, prohibited him to
exercyse such authoritye in the churche, saynge that yf he had knowne
he wolde have used hym selffe so there, he sholde not have come into
the churche yf he coulde have letted hym, whiche the duke hearynge
was offended, and protested that he wolde exercyse suche authorytye
whether he wolde or not. When they were come ito our Ladyes chappell,
the duke & barons, with the archbishopp and bishopps, syttynge downe,
the foresayed John also was sent in by Syr Henrye Percye to sytt downe,
for because, sayed he, he haythe much to answeare he haith neade of
a better seate. On the other syde the byshopp of London denyed the
sayme, affyrmynge ye to be agaynst reason that he sholde sytt there,
& also contrary to the law for hym to sytt, whoe there was cited to
answere before hys ordinarye: and therfor the tyme of hys answearynge
or so longe as any thynge sholde be deposed agaynste hym, or hys cause
sholde be handled, he ought to stande. Hereupon very contumelyous
wordes did ryse betwene Syr Henrye Percye and the bishopp, & the whoole
multitude began to be troubled. And then the duke began to reprehende
the bishopp & and the bishopp to turne then on the duke agayne. The
duke was ashamed that he colde not in this stryfe prevaile, and then
began with frowarde threatenynges to deale with the bishopp, swearyng
that he wolde pull down both the pryde of hym & of all the bishopps
in Englande, & added, thou trustest (sayed he) in thy parents, whoe
can profytt the nothynge, for they shall have enough to doo to defend
themselves, for hys parents, that ys to say hys father & hys mother,
were of nobylitye, the Erle & the Countes of Devonshire. The bishopp
on the other syde sayed, in defendynge the trueth I truste not in my
parents, nor in the lyfe of any man, but in God in whom I ought to
trust. Then the duke whysperynge in his eare, sayed he had rather draw
hym furth of the churche by the heare then suffer such thynges. The
Londoners hearynge these words, angerlye with a lowd voyce cried out,
swearynge they wolde not suffer ther Bishopp to be injured & that they
wold soner loose ther lyfe then there bishopp sholde be dishonoured
in the churche, or pulled out with such vyolence. There fury was the
more encreased, for that the same day before none in the parlyament
at Westminster, the duke being president &c. it was requested in the
kyng’s name, that from that day forward there should be no more Mayre
of London accordynge to the auncyent custome, but a captayne, and that
the Marshall of England, as well in the cytye as in other places myght
arrest such as offended, with many other thynges, which were manyfestly
agaynst the lybertyes of the cytye, and portended daungers and hurt to
the same, which being once hard, John Philpott, a cytezyn of specyall
name, arose, and affyrmed that such thynges were never sene, and that
the mayor and comons wold suffer no such arrest and so before none the
counsell brake up. The duke and the byshops revylyng one another, the
people wondefully enraged and trobled, the enemy of mankynde, as I sayd
before, procyryng this counsell, and by these occasyons that false
varlet & mynster of the devill persuaded, lest he should be confounded
in his inventions, for he saw that in all thynges he wold be profytable
unto hym & therefore was careful lest such a defender of his part
should perysh ether secretly or so lightly.”—_Archæologia_, xxii. 256.




  Baker (White)
  Baker (Brown)
  Barber Surgeon
    Bell founder
  Bottle maker
  Bowstring maker

  Cap maker
  Carpenter or Charpenter
  Ceynturer or Ceinturer
  Chandler or Chaundeler
  Coal meter
  Courser (horsedealer)

  Diegher (Dyer)


  Felt maker
    (Fresh or Stock)
  Fripperer or Philiper
  Fruter or Fruiterer

  Glover or Gaunter
  Gorguarius or Gorgiarius(?)

    Hakenay man
  Hanaper maker
  Hatband maker




  Le Lenter

  Maderman (seller of madder)
  Male maker
    Meriner or Mazelyner
  Meneter, Minter, or Moneyer
  Moneyer or Minter


  Orbatur or Orbatter

  Parish clerk
  Patten maker
  Paviour or Pavour
  Pilliper or Peliper
  Pessoner (see Fishmonger)
  Plumer or Plomer
  Pye baker
  Pytmaker, _i.e._ gravedigger



  Saker or Sakker
  Sauner (salt dealer)
  Sautreour (player on the psaltery)
  Seal maker
  Seler, Seller
  Serjeant or Sergeant
  Silk thrower
  Skirmisor (fencing master)
  Soap maker
  Spectacle maker
  Street sweeper

  Tailor, Taylor,  Taillur
  Talgh chandler (tallow)
  Text letter writer
  Thread woman
  Tinplate worker
  Torte baker
  Trussing coffrer



  Weaver, Webbe
  Whetstone maker

  Ymage maker
  Ymaiour or Imaiour

Some of these trades are obscure. The following notes will perhaps be

  Ancermaker = maker of balances
  Arbalester = “balesterius,” crossbowman
  Batur = beater of cloth
  Bleter = blader, _i.e._ cornmonger
  Bokeler, Bukeler = maker of buckles
  Braeler = maker of braels or braces
  Brasur = Brewer
  Brigirdler = bracegirdler
  Brochere = spitmaker
  Bureller = worker in _burel_, coarse cloth
  Calenderer = one who “calenders” or presses cloth
  Callere = maker of “calls” or coifs
  Ceinturer = girdler
  Chaloner = maker of chalons for coverlets and blankets
  Chapeler = maker of caps
  Chaucer = shoemaker
  Cirger = wax chandler
  Cossun = corsour, horsedealer
  Coureter = probably = corretarius, correctarius, broker
  Courier = currier
  Dinanter = maker of brass vessels known as dinanterie, from Dinan
  Flauner = maker of flauns—light cakes
  Forbour = furbisher of armour
  Fuster = maker of saddle-wood work
  Hurer = maker of hures, shaggy fur caps
  Kissire = cuissier, maker of cusher or armour for the hips
  Orbatur = goldbeater
  Pasteler = pastry-cook
  Peleter = pelterer or skinner
  Pesour = weigher
  Pessoner = fishmonger
  Peverer = pepperer
  Pheleper = fripperer
  Poleter = poulterer
  Retunder = shearman or shearer of cloth
  Sakker = sackmaker
  Seller = saddler
  Seltere = arrowmaker, O.F. sete = an arrow
  Sporier = maker of spurs
  Tableter = maker of tablets, or carver of marble tables
  Tabourer = maker of tabours or small drums
  Tuler = tiler
  Violer = player on the viol.



“For many centuries the enterprising foreigner who ventured to visit
this country for the purposes of traffic had to struggle against
numerous discouragements and grievous restrictions, originating partly
in the avarice of the English sovereigns and the insolence and rapacity
of their officers, and, to a still greater extent, in the jealousy
entertained towards them by the English population, the freemen of the
cities and towns more specially. So early, however, as the time of
Ethelred II. (about A.D. 1000) some brief regulations were framed, if
not for their encouragement at least for their protection.

The existing text of this document, which empowers the merchants of
certain foreign countries to trade at the Hythe, even then known as
‘Billingesgate,’ is evidently in an imperfect and mutilated state;
so much so, in fact, that, brief as it is, some portions of it are
all but wholly unintelligible. In the list, however, of the traders
thus favoured, we are enabled to discover the names of the men of
France and Normandy, the people of Rouen, the merchants of Flanders,
the inhabitants of Liège and of Lier (in Brabant), and the ‘Emperor’s
men,’ at an early period known as the ‘Easterlings,’ and in the latter
half of the thirteenth century, if not before, under the aggregate
appellation of the ‘Merchants of the Hanse of Almaine.’

The curious document, called _Regulations for the Lorraine Merchants_,
is probably based upon the code of Ethelred to some extent, to which
indeed it bears a strong resemblance in one or two of its provisions;
so far, that is to say, as the unsatisfactory state of the manuscripts
containing Ethelred’s tariff allows of its provisions being understood.
Though of less remote antiquity, the code of regulations given in the
_Liber Custumarum_ is of greatly superior interest to its predecessor:
it belongs probably to the first half of the thirteenth century, if,
indeed, not an earlier date, and no other copy of it, so far as the
Editor has been enabled to ascertain, is known to exist. Under what
peculiar circumstances these regulations were drawn up in favour of
the Lorrainers, it is probably impossible to say; a people who, though
subjects of, or in a state of vassalage under, the Emperors of Almaine,
or Germany, do not appear at this period to have come under the more
general appellation of ‘Emperor’s men.’

From this document we are enabled to gather that in the earlier days of
the Plantagenets, if not at a still more remote period, a wine-fleet,
its freight probably the produce of the banks of the Moselle, was in
the habit of visiting this country each year. The moment this fleet
of adventurous ‘hulks and keels’ had escaped the perils of the German
Ocean, and had reached the New Wear, in the Thames, the eastern limit
of the City’s jurisdiction, it was their duty, in conformity with
fiscal and civic regulations, to arrange themselves in due order and
raise their ensign; the crews being at liberty, if so inclined, to
sing their _kiriele_, or song of praise and thanksgiving, ‘according
to the old law,’ until London Bridge was reached. Arrived here, and
the drawbridge duly raised, they were for a certain time to lie moored
off the Wharf (_Rive_); which not improbably was Queen-Hythe, the most
important, in these times, of all the hythes or landing-places, to the
west of London Bridge. Here they were to remain at their moorings two
ebb, and a flood; during which period the merchants were to sell no
part of their cargo, it being the duty of one of the Sheriffs and the
King’s Chamberlain to board each vessel in the meantime, and to select
for the royal use such precious stones, massive plate of gold or silver
(called ‘Work of Solomon’), tapestry of Constantinople, or other
valuable articles, as they might think proper; the price thereof being
duly assessed by lawful merchants of London, and credit given until a
fortnight’s end.

The two ebbs and a flood expired, and the officials having duly made
their purchases or declined to do so, the wine-ship was allowed to lie
alongside the wharf, the tuns of wine being disposed of under certain
regulations, apparently meant as a precaution against picking and
choosing, to such merchants as might present themselves as customers,
those of London having the priority, and those of Winchester coming
next. The first night after his arrival in the City, no Lorrainer was
allowed to go ‘to market or to fair’ for any purposes of traffic,
beyond four specified points, which seem to have been Stratford-le-Bow,
Stamford Hill, Knightsbridge, and Blackheath. The reason for this
singular restriction may possibly have been a desire that the foreigner
should have at least the opportunity forced upon him of spending his
newly-earned money in the City or its vicinity; and it was in a like
spirit, probably, that a premium was offered to such of the Lorrainers
as forbore to land at all, or to pass the limits of the wharf, or
Thames Street, at most, in the shape of a reduction of the duties on
their wines.

If, however, on the other hand, the Lorrainer thought proper to carry
his wares and luggage beyond those limits, and to ‘take hostel’ within
the City, it was the duty of the Sheriff to visit him at his lodging
and exact scavage on his goods; the merchant being bound to wait three
days for the Sheriff’s attendance, and during that interval not allowed
even to unpack his goods. Unless prevented by contrary winds, sickness,
or debt, the Lorrainer, in common with most other foreigners in these
times, was bound to leave London by the end of forty days; and during
his stay there were certain articles, woolfels, lambskins, fresh
leather, and unwrought wool, in the number, which he was absolutely
forbidden to purchase, under pain of forfeiture to the Sheriff. Three
live pigs was all he was allowed to buy for his own consumption, at
sea, probably; and if he dared to violate so important a regulation,
upon outcry being raised thereon, he was to be brought up for judgment
in the Court of Hustings forthwith. By a regulation of probably the
same date, the ‘men of the Emperor of Almaine’ were allowed the
privilege of lodging within the walls of the City wherever they might
please, an option that was left to few other foreign merchants in these
days. The inhabitants, however, of Tiesle (Thiel in Gelderland) and
Brune (or Bruune, probably Bruurren, in Gelderland) were excepted; what
offence had given cause for their exclusion it is perhaps impossible
now to say. The men of Antwerp, too, were not allowed to go beyond
London Bridge, in case they should object to be ruled by London law; a
piece of contumacy of which they had no doubt been guilty at a recent
period, and which may possibly have been carried to a still more
unpardonable extent by the traders from Tiesle and Brune. Retailing was
in general wholly forbidden to foreign merchants, but the ‘Emperor’s
men’ were privileged to sell so small a quantity as a quarter of
cummin-seed, and a dozen, or even half-dozen, cloths of fustian.

The natives of Denmark seem, in these times, to have been peculiarly
favoured, in consequence, probably, of their more intimate connection
with this country at a still earlier period. They enjoyed the privilege
of sojourning in London all the year through; in addition to which they
had a right to all the benefits of ‘the law of the City of London’—in
other words, the right of resorting to fair or to market in any place
throughout England. The Norwegians, on the other hand, were upon an
equal footing with the Danes as to the right of sojourning in London
all the year, but did not enjoy ‘the law of the City,’ being prohibited
from leaving it for the purposes of traffic.

In the year 1237 a Convention, or compact, was entered into between the
citizens of London and the merchants of Amiens, Corby, and Nesle, in
Picardy; the privileges granted by which will go far towards showing
the disabilities and inconveniences under which their less fortunate
brethren in trade had to labour. They were from thenceforth to be at
liberty to load and unload, and to warehouse, within the City, their
cargoes of woad, garlic, and onions, and to sell the same within the
City alike to citizens and to strangers of the realm; they were also
to be at liberty to carry them out of the City, by land or by water,
to such parts of the country as they might deem most advantageous. All
their other wares, wine and corn excepted, they were also privileged
to load and unload, and to warehouse, within the City, but only for
sale to citizens, and not to strangers, if sold within the precincts
of the City; though, at the same time, they were equally permitted to
carry them to any other part of England, ‘saving the rightful and due
customs of the City.’ In return for these concessions, the merchants
were to pay yearly to the Sheriffs of London fifty marks sterling at
three periods denoted by three of the great Fairs of England, those of
Saint Ives (in Huntingdonshire), Winchester, and Saint Botolph’s Town,
or Boston, in Lincolnshire.

In addition to these privileges, it was granted that if any ‘companion’
of such merchants should wish to keep hostel for the entertainment of
his countrymen, he should be at liberty to do so, provided always that
he did not stay in London beyond one whole year. In case, by reason of
war, or of command given by the King of England to that effect, the
merchants should be precluded from making stay in London, they were to
be acquitted of payment of their annual ferm to a proportionate extent.
Provisions and arms they were under no circumstances to carry out of
the realm; and at the same time they were to make due payment to the
Sheriffs of London ‘for all their wares and merchandises, of rightful
and due custom, coming into the City, making stay in the City, going
forth from the City into the parts of England, returning into the City
from the parts of England, and departing from the City unto the parts
beyond sea.’ By way of confirmation of this compact, the merchants of
the three towns before mentioned very liberally paid down a sum of one
hundred pounds sterling towards making the conduit, which was then
building, for bringing water into the City from Tyburn spring.

At an early period the traffic of the City of Cologne with England
appears to have been considerable. Richard I., in the fifth year of his
reign (1194), by Charter, signed at Louvain, granted unto its citizens,
upon payment of an annual sum of two shillings, their Guildhall in
London, ‘and all other customs and demands’; and King John, it is said,
conferred upon them several important privileges. In the fourth year of
Henry III., we find them paying into the Exchequer thirty marks ‘for
having seisin of their Guildhall in London.’ The same King, in the
twentieth year of his reign, by Charter granted unto ‘his well-beloved,
the citizens of Cologne,’ quitted claim not only of the aforesaid
yearly rent of two shillings, but of ‘all other customs and demands
which unto us pertain in London, and throughout all our territories in
England.’ They also received permission thereby safely to go and safely
to come throughout all his territories, and freely to resort to all
Fairs throughout the same, and to sell and to buy, as well in ‘the vill
of London’ as elsewhere, ‘saving the franchise of the City of London.’
This Charter was confirmed by Edward I. in the eighteenth year of his

Though, strictly speaking, coming under the denomination of ‘Emperor’s
men,’ the Colognese, until near the close of the thirteenth century,
continued to form a distinct society from that of ‘the Hanse of
Almaine.’ Each of them at this period had its own Guildhall, situate
at Dowgate in the City of London; but by the end, probably, of that
century they had amalgamated, though the date and particulars of
that event do not seem to have been ascertained. Hides and woolfels,
apparently, were extensively imported by the traders of Cologne.

The Ordinances for the regulation of the woad-merchants would seem to
bear date prior to the Convention made (A.D. 1237) with the merchants
of Amiens, Corby, and Nesle; as they are evidently drawn up in a spirit
quite incompatible with the provisions of that document, and it was the
merchants of Picardy, jointly with those of Normandy, who were in those
times the principal importers of woad. In the very perfection of the
spirit of corporate jealousy in ancient times, it is authoritatively
laid down that all foreign merchants, and more especially the
woad-merchants, when they have once come within the limits known as
_La Newe Were_, ‘may not, and ought not, according to the ancient
customs and franchises of the City and the realm, to come to, or anchor
at, any other place than London only.’ On their arrival there, the
merchants are reminded that it is their duty to place their woad upon
the quay, and that they may enclose it with hurdles and hatches, if
they think proper, but upon no account are they to stow it in houses or
in cellars. Here they were to sell it, or give it in exchange for other
merchandise, ‘but only to men of the City, and to no one else, and
that, by reasonable and ancient measure of the City.’ Nor ought they
to, nor might they, buy anything of foreigners, but only of men of the
City, for exportation beyond sea; nor might they leave the City for the
purpose of visiting any fair, or for going to any other place for the
purposes of traffic. If found to be on the road to such a place, and
proceeding towards a fair, all their chattels were to be forfeited,
‘seeing that all their buying and selling ought to take place within
the City, and that only with the men of the City.’

Even more than this. The said merchants ‘might not, nor ought they
to, stay within the City more than forty days’; at the end of which,
they were to return to their own country, or else ‘to some other
place beyond sea, at as great a distance as the place from which they
came.’ To fill up the measure of the woad-merchant’s difficulties, the
‘foreigner’ (_foraneus_) was also to take care that within such forty
days he had sold or exchanged the whole of his wares, without holding
back any part thereof, ‘seeing that when such term shall have expired,
and it shall be his duty to depart, he may not hand over any part of
his wares to his host, or to any other person, nor may he carry them
away with him. But let him see that within the time limited he makes
sale of the same, as well as he can; for if any part thereof shall be
found after the time limited unto him, it shall be wholly lost.’ In the
trade of dyeing cloth, on no account were these merchants to interfere.

On reading such astounding regulations as these, one might almost be
inclined to believe that the civic authorities had conceived some
inveterate hatred against all foreign dealers in woad, accompanied by a
wish to put an end to the import of the commodity altogether. Be this
as it may, we may safely conclude that the profits realised upon the
import of this article were considerable; or assuredly, thanks to their
short-sighted rulers, the Londoners would have had to go with their
burels, russets, and halberjects undyed, so far at least as the broad
acres of Picardy and Normandy were concerned.

At a later date (A.D. 1300) we read of several merchants getting into
trouble with the authorities, some of the comparatively favoured
Teutonics, or Hanse merchants, in the number, for presuming to keep
hostels in the City, for bed and for board, a thing that ‘was allowed
to the hostels of the freemen only.’ Time, however, with an unwonted
degree of considerateness, was allowed them by the Mayor and Aldermen
for getting rid of the obnoxious establishments, ‘under forfeiture of
all their moveables.’ Others, again, we find appearing before the Mayor
and Aldermen, and submissively making oath that they had prolonged
their stay in the City through inadvertence, ‘for that of the custom as
to staying in the City forty days only, they were wholly in ignorance.’
At a somewhat earlier date (A.D. 1293) certain merchants of Provence,
upon being rigidly questioned by the Warden and Aldermen as to their
claims to right of stay and exemption from custom, acknowledge that
they have no privileges to assert, as granted them by the King of
England, and that they claim no rights or franchises within the City,
by land or by water, save only that, in addition to the freemen of
the City, they may sell their wares in gross ‘to the great men of the
land,’ but only for their own private use, taking due care to have
no dealings with other ‘strangers.’ Their former patrons, Eleanor of
Provence, Archbishop Boniface, and Peter of Savoy, were now in their
graves, or we probably should not have found the worthy Provencals
making admissions so alien to the spirit manifested in this country by
their money-seeking grandsires of half a century before.

In the 33rd of Edward I. (A.D. 1305), the Mayor, Aldermen, and Sheriffs
of London awarded and granted that the merchants of the Hanse of
Almaine should be exempted from the customary payment of two shillings,
‘going and coming with their “goods,” at the Gate of Bishopsgate,
seeing that they were already charged with the custody and repair of
the said Gate.‘

In the twenty-seventh year of the same reign we find a somewhat serious
charge brought against these ‘Merchants of Almaine’; to what extent
it was justified, we have no means of forming a conclusion. The King
had recently, by precept, commanded the Sheriffs of London that they
should allow no good money, or silver in bullion, to be carried out
of the realm, or any spurious coin to be brought into the City. In
spite, however, of this prohibition, it had come to the royal ears that
certain merchants of Almaine, resident in the City, and dwelling in
houses by the water-side and elsewhere, had, ‘under colour of certain
liberties and acquittances,’ unto them by the King and his progenitors
granted, harboured certain strange merchants, with fardels and divers
packages of goods, both in the night and, clandestinely, by day. Even
more than this, the Teutonics had been in the habit (_sæpius_) of
avowing such goods as their own, and, in virtue of their privileges,
opening them out and selling them, without any scavage, or examination,
on part of the Sheriffs; thereby not only defrauding the revenue of
its customs, but affording an opportunity for the concealment and
circulation of bad money. The merchants are therefore strictly enjoined
in future to avow (or colour) no wares but their own; and on no account
to receive any such into their possession, or to open out any such
fardels without the Sheriffs duly having view and making scrutiny

The status of the foreign merchants in general was no doubt materially
improved by the statute _De Novâ Custumâ_ of the 31st Edward I. (A.D.
1303). From it we learn, among numerous other particulars of interest,
that no trader was allowed to break off or abandon any contract when
once the ‘God’s penny,’ or earnest money, had by the contracting
principals been given and received. All bailiffs and officers of
fairs, cities, boroughs, and market-towns were to do speedy justice
to all merchant-strangers, and duly to hold Court from day to day,
according to the provisions of Law-merchant, for that purpose. In every
market-town and fair throughout the realm, the royal Beam, or Balance,
was to be placed in some fixed spot; and, before weighing, the scale
was to be viewed by vendor and purchaser alike, to see that it was
empty; the arms, too, of the balance were to be exactly equal before
the troner weighed, and, when weighing, he was to remove his hands the
instant he found them on a level.”—_Liber Custumarum_, vol. ii. pt. i.
pp. xxxiv.-xlvii.



The following list of mediæval streets is compiled from Riley’s
_Memorials_, Sharpe’s _Calendar of Wills_, _Liber Custumarum_, and the
Ninth Report of the Commissioners. Other streets could be found in
other documents, but this list certainly gives a very full index to the
streets of Mediæval London. They are here produced alphabetically.

The abbreviations used are simply “A.” for Alley, “L.” for Lane, “R.”
for Row, “S.” for Street:—

  Abbechurch L.
  Addle S.
  Adlynge S.
  Alden’s L. (Warwick L.)
  Aldewyche (Extra Temple Bar)
  Aldersgate, Aldrichgate, Aldredesgate
  Aldersgate S.
  Alfrichbury (Portpool Manor)
  Almes L.
  Alsies L. (over against St. Paul’s)
  Amen Corner
  Anchor A. (Thames St.)
  Armenter’s Lane
  Arounes L. or Kynge’s L. (St. Peter the Less)
  Arundel L. (All Hallows the Great)
  Ave Maria L.
  Ayelyn S. (near Aldersgate)

  Bailey, Old
  Bareman L.
  Barmondsey S.
  Bartholomew’s Hospital
  Basing L.
  Basinghall S., Bassishaw St.
  Bathesteres L. (All Hallows the Gt.)
  Battes L. or Heywharfe L.
  Beare Court
  Beche L., Beche S. (St. Giles, Cripplegate)
  Bell A.
  Bell Tower
  Belleyeters L. (Billiter S.)
  Berbynders L.
  Bercheveres L., Berchever L., Berewardes L., Bergeres L.
  Berwardes L. (Birchin L.)
  Bevis Marks (Buries M.)
  Bishops’ Court
  Bishopsgate S., Biscoppisgate S.
  Black Friars
  Black Raven A.
  Boklersbury, Boclersbury
  Boliot L. (Holy Trinity)
  Bordhaw L., Barthawe L., Burdell L. (St. Mary Colech)
  Botulph’s L.
  Bow L.
  Bowyer R. (St. Martin, Ludgate)
  Brade S.
  Brandrees L.
  Brede S.
  Bretaske L.
  Bretton S., Little Britain
  Bridge S., Brige S., Brigge S., Brugge S.
  Brode L. (St. Martin’s in Vintry)
  Broken Wharf
  Budge Row (Bogerowe)
  Bunting A. (St. Alphege P.)

  Candlewick S., Candlewyke, Canwyke
  Cannon R. (Channel R.)
  Carme S.
  Carteres L., Carteres S., Carter S.
  Castle Baynard
  Catte S., Cateaton S., Cate L.
  Cattene S.
  Cecilia’s L., La Tur
  Cescile L.
  Chauncelers L., Chancery L.
  Checker A. (St. Botolph’s, Bishopsgate)
  Chepe, Cheap, Cheapside
  Chigene L., Chiken L., Chikene L.
  Chimney Alley
  Christopher L.
  Church A.
  Chysel S. (Without, Cripplegate)
  Clements’ Lane
  Cocker L., Cokker L., Cock L.
  Colchirche L. (Colechurch L.)
  Cole Abbey
  Coleman S.
  Conohop L., Conyhope L., Conynghop L. (Grocers’ Hall C.)
  Convers L. (St. Dunstan’s In Vico Conversorum)
  Conynes L.
  Cordwainer S.
  Corveyserestrate (Corner S.)
  Cosines L., Cosynes L.
  Coubrugge S., Coubregge S., Cowbridge S. (Smithfield)
  Counter A.
  Cressyngham L.
  Crew L.
  Croked L. (Crooked L.)
  Cruched Friars, Crutched Friars
  Curriers’ A.

  Derkes L., Dark L. (St. Michael Queenhithe)
  Dibbles L.
  Diceres L. (St. Nich. Shambles)
  Distaff L.
  Dolittle L., Dolytel L. (Carter L.)
  Donston’s L. (St. Dunstan’s L.)
  Dorkingges L.
  Duckettes L.
  Dyers L. (St. N. Flesh.)

  Ealde Fish S. (Old Fish S.)
  East Water Gate
  Edwardes welle S., Everardes Welle S. (St. Giles)
  Elde bowe L.
  Elde Chaunge
  Eldedean L. (Old Dean’s L.), Eldedone’s L.
  Elms at Smithfield
  Eber L.
  Exchequer, Court of

  Faiteres L., Faitur L., Faytores L., Faytour L.
  Fanchurch S. (Fench. S.)
  Faster L. (Foster L., St. Vedast’s L.)
  Fastes L. (St.)
  Fastolf A.
  Fattes L.
  Felipes L., Philip’s L.
  Fish S.
  Fish S. New
  Fish S. Old
  Fish Wharf
  Fleet Br.
  Flete L., Fleet S.
  Folkmares L.
  Fore S.
  Friday S.
  Furnival’s Inn
  Fynamoures L. (St. Nic. Olaf)
  Fynesbiri, Finsbury
  Fynghis L., Fynkes L., Finch L.

  Garscherch S., Gerscherche S., Gracious S., Gracech St.
  Gayspore L.
  George Alley
  Germayne’s L.
  Gerwell S.
  Goderes L., Goderone L., Godrene L., Goderane L., Godrun L., Gudrene L.
  Godfaire L., Godfayr L., Govayr L. (St. Swithins)
  Golden L.
  Golding L.
  Golding Welle S.
  Gose L., Goose L.
  Goswell S.
  Gother L. (Gutter L.)
  Gough A.
  Goveres L.
  Gray’s Inn L., Portpoole L.
  Great Windmill S.
  Grenewych L., Greenwich S.
  Grobbe L., Grubbe S., Grobbe S.

  Harpe A.
  Hart S.
  Hay L.
  Hay Wharf
  Hayward L. (All Hallows the Great)
  Herbier L.
  High Holborne
  High Street (St. Mary Matfelon)
  Hog L.
  Hoggen L., Huggin L.
  Holborn Bars
  Holebourne Cross
  Holeburne S.
  Holy Rood Wharf
  Hony L.
  Horsehead Alley
  Hosier L. (1) St. Sepulchre; (2) Cordwainer S., Hosier S., Bow S.

  Ingene L., Inggelene L., Engaine L. (Maiden L.)
  Ironmonger L.
  Ivy L.

  Jewry, Old
  John S.

  Katone S.
  King’s Bench
  King’s Highway, Cripplegate to Bishopsgate
  Knyghtrideres S.
  Kyrone L. (St. James’, Garlick Hythe)

  Lad Lane
  Langburne S.
  Lavendon B.
  Leadenhall Market
  Le Barbican
  Lederes L.
  Le Kynyges L.
  Leigh S.
  Le Mir L., Leather L.
  Le Newe A. (St. Michael’s, Cornhill)
  Le Olde S.
  Le Peynted A. (All Hallows, Staining)
  Le Ryole
  Lesnes Abbey
  Levethan L. (All Hallows, Barking)
  Little L.
  Little Wood S.
  Lodebury, Lodberi, Lothbury
  Lombard S.
  London Bridge
  Long L.
  Loueronelane, Lonerone L., Lyneroune L.
  Love L.
  Ludgate S.
  Lyme S., Lime S.
  Lymbarneres L., Lymburneres L., Lymbrynners’ L.

  Maiones L., Manchon L., Mengone L., Maione L., Menione L.,
    Monechene L., Munchen L., Mynioun L.,
    Mynchen L. (Mincing L.)
  Manimane L.
  Mark L.
  Martel L. (near Tower of L.)
  Medelane, Ld.
  Melk S., Milk S., Melck S.
  Middleton A., Moundevyle A. (St. Michael, Bassishaw)
  Mille A. (_This is mentioned in Sharpe._)
  Monkwell S., Mugwell S.
  Moor of Finsbury
  More L., More S., Moor L.
  Mountenhaut L.
  Mukewelle S.
  Mutton L.

  New Fish S.
  Norton Folgate

  Old Bailey
  Old Change
  Old L.
  Olde Swanne A.

  Palmers L.
  Pamyer Alley
  Pardon Ch. Yd.
  Pater noster Cherche L.
  Pater noster R.
  Paul’s A.
  Paul’s Chain
  Paul’s Ch. Haw.
  Paul’s Wharf
  Peacock A.
  Pentecost L.
  Petrelane end
  Petty France
  Philip’s L., Felipes L.
  Philpot L.
  Place of St. Othelbert K.
  Pope’s L.
  Portes L.
  Portpool S., Purtepoole S. (Gray’s Inn L.)
  Powles brewerie
  Primrose S. (S. Botolph’s, Bishopsgate)
  Pudding L., Podding L.
  Puppekirt L., Puppekirtil L. (St. Pancras)


  Raton S.
  Redecrouchestrete, Redecrochestrete, Red Cross Street
  Red Rose L. (Parish of St. Marg. Bridge S.)
  Redersgate, Redersgate L., Rederslane, Rethereslane,
    Rothergate L. (now Pudding L.)
  Renner strete (Parish of St. Sepulchre)
  Ridere S.
  Roperelane (afterwards Lovelane), Ropereslane, Roperstrate
  Rosemary L.
  Rutland C.
  Rylondes A.

  Sacollelane, Secollane, etc. (Seacoal L.)
  St. Bartholomew the Less L.
  St. Benedict
  St. Botolph L.
  St. Brideslane
  St. Clement L. and S.
  St. James’ Hospital
  St. John’s S.
  St. Katherine de Belyterslane (Billiter S.)
  St. Laurence L. or S.
  St. Marg. atte Patynes L. or S.
  St. Margaret L.
  St. Martin Orgar L.
  St. Mary Axe
  St. Mary Matfelon
  St. Matthew’s A.
  St. Michael’s L.
  St. Nicholas L.
  St. Paul’s Churchyard
  St. Peter’s L.
  St. Sithe’s L.
  St. Swithin’s L.
  St. Vedast L. or Foster L.
  Sakfrerelane (so called from the Fratres de Sacca, near Coleman S.)
  Salisbury Court
  Sarmonereslane (Sermon Lane)
  Scaldinge Alley, Scaldynglane
  Scholand. See also Sholane, Shoe L.
  Secollane, Seacoal L.
  Selvernestrate, Selverstrate (Silver Street), Silverstrete,
  Sermon L.
  Seuenhodeslane, Sofhodlane (Parish of St. Laurence Jury)
  Sheppardes Alley
  Shiteburuelane, Shitteboruelane, or Schiteburnelane, Sheteburuelane,
    Scheteboruelane (Sherburn Lane)
  Shoreditch, Soresditch, Sordige, Syoresdich, Soresdich, Shordich
  Sieudenleane, Sivethenelane, Sivendestret (Seething L.)
  Silver S.
  Sixe L.
  Slaperslane (Parish of St. Barth. the Less)
  Smethelane (Parish of All Hallows, Barking)
  Soperlane, Sopereslane
  Southam Lane
  Spital S.
  Sporenlane, Sporoneslane (now Huggin L.)
  Sporiereslane, Spiryerslane, Sporierstret, Waterlane
    (Parish of All Hallows, Barking)
  Stanynglane, Staining Lane
  Stepheneslane (Parish of St. Margaret), Steveneslane
  Stiliard, or Steelyard
  Stodyeslane (Parish of St. Martin in the Vintry)
  Stokfisshmonger R.
  Suffolk L.
  Swan A.
  Synechene S.
  Syvethenelane, Syvedenlane, Syvidlane, Seething Lane

  Talbutt A., Whitechapel
  Thames S.
  Three Nunnes Alley
  Threeneedle S.
  Tornebastonlane, Turnebastlane, or Turnebastonlane
  Tourestrets, Tourstrate, Tower Street
  Tower Hill
  Trinity Lane
  Tymbrehithlane, Timber Hithe (Parish of St. Mary, Somerset)

  Vine Court

  Wandayeneslane (Parish of St. Sepulchre; Windagain, or Turnagain Lane)
  Wandegoselane (Parish of All Hallows the Great)
  Warwick L.
  Water L.
  Watlingstrate, Wattlyngestrete
  West Chepe
  West Fish S.
  Whitecross S., Whitecrouchestrete, Whytecroychestrate
  White Friars
  Windmill S.
  Wirehale L.
  Woderouelane, or Woderovelane
  Wodestrate (Wood S.)
  Wolsislane, Woldieslane (Parish of All Hallows the Less)
  Wytech S.
  Wyvenelane (Parish of St. Mary, Somerset)

  Yvilane. See also Fukemerlane, Yvylane.


The following is a list of the principal residents and householders
of London, 12 Edward II., compiled for purposes of assessment: it
shows how many great men of the time had town houses in the fourteenth

  Abbot de Tower Hill
   ” Waltham
   ” Berking
   ” Evesham
   ” Wynchecombe
   ” Malmesbury
   ” Burton
   ” Netley
   ” Coggeshall
   ” Carthusians
   ” Elsing Spital
   ” Ely
   ” Bretesham
   ” Crichurch
   ” St. Barth
   ” St. Mary
   ” St. Mich. de Canterbury
   ” St. James
   ” St. Giles
   ” Temple
   ” Coll. de Derby
   ” Cobbeham
   ” St. Mich. Crooked L.
   ” Baylly Hall (Baliol)
   ” Merton
   ” St. Mary
   ” Kingston on Th.
   ” Pontefract
   ” Chaddendon
   ” Rejis West
   ” Sudbury
   ” Shottersbrook
   ” Stanford
   ” St. Lawrence
   ” Bedlem
   ” Domus Conversorum
   ” St. Thos. Southwark
   ” St. Kath. by Tower
   ” Minoresses
   ” Burnham
   ” Clerkenwell
   ” Haliwell
   ” St. Elym
   ” Kilburn
   ” Cheshunt
   ” Durtford
   ” Stratford
   ” Authwyke
   ” Godstone
  Prince of Wales
  Thomas Fitz Regis
  Johannes  ”      ”
  E. Duke of York
  Earl Arundele
   ” Westmoreland
   ” Oxford
   ” Marshall
   ” Warr
   ” Suffolk
  Lord de Clifford
   ” Ffererers
   ” Chertly
   ” Lestrange
   ” Ffurnyvall
   ” Le Scrope
   ” Beaumont
   ” Bargavenny
   ” Lovall
   ” Ffitzwalter
   ” Berkeley
   ” Haryngton
   ” De Grey de Rifsyn
   ” Grey de Sodnor
   ” Le Souche
   ” Cobham
   ” Fitz Symond
  Sir H. S. Miles
   ” J. Acourt
   ” J. Chamber
   ” Hugo Daltor
   ” John Bremer
   ” Ed. Sandsford
   ” Coricorele, J.
   ” Rd. Waldegrave
   ” W. Manny
   ” J. Chastelyon
   ” W. Argentyn
   ” J. Dabrichecourte
   ” J. Dauntesay
   ” R. Crumwell
   ” W. Peckle
   ” J. Eymsfred
   ” Thos. Grene
   ” T. Ffitz Nichol
   ” Chryke, John
   ” Lumley, J.
   ” Roger Straunge
   ” Adam Ffraunceys
   ” R. Denny
   ” J. Stanley
   ” Grantham
   ” J. Crosseby
  Mayor & Corp. of London
  Lady Mā Querne
  Countess Salisbury
   ” Hertford
  Lady Clynton
   ” Kenyett
   ” Pyett
   ” Roos
   ” Bardolf
   ” Ffartolf
   ” De Beauthan
   ” Philipot
   ” Norford, etc.



The following textures were sold in London, the coarse woollen goods
manufactured in the City:—Mercery; “wad mal,” a woollen stuff; “lake”
or fine linen; canvas, woven linen, frestian, felt, “lymere” or
“lormerie,” the material used for making saddles and trappings for
horses, pile, kersey, haberdashery, _i.e._ all kinds of “hapertas,” a
thick woollen cloth, raw texture of Limoges, “Parmentrye” qualloorn,
cloth of silk and cloth of Rheims. Striped cloth called “ray” was
brought from Brabant and Flanders. Foreign weavers came to the country
in great numbers. To prevent collision, the weavers of Flanders who
worked to be hired were ordered to repair to the churchyard of St.
Laurence Pomeroy, and those of Brabant to the churchyard of St. Mary

The following inventory of a haberdasher’s shop in the year 1378 shows
that it contained a most various assortment of goods. The haberdasher
of the fourteenth century was a stationer, a mercer, a draper, a
hatter, a boot and shoe maker, a dealer in leather, and fifty other
trades. He sold, in a word, all small articles.

 “2 dozens of laces of red leather, value 8d.; one gross of poynts of
 red leather, 18d.; one dozen of cradilbowes, made of wool and flax,
 18d.; 3 cradilbowes, made of wool and flax, 3d.; one dozen of caps,
 one half of which are of red colour, and the other half green, 2s.
 8d.; one dozen of white caps, called ‘nightcappes,’ 2s. 3d.; 2 dozens
 of woollen caps of divers colours, 16s.; 6 caps of black wool, 4s.;
 5 caps of blue colour, and one cap of russet, 2s. 6d.; 5 children’s
 caps, red and blue, 2s. 1d.; one dozen of black hures, 4s.; one black
 hure, 4d.; two hair camises, 12d.; one red cap, 7d.; one other cap
 of russet, 7d.; one hat of russet, 6d.; one white hat, 3d.; 2 papers
 covered with red leather, 12d.; two other paper