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Karen Maitland

Tuesday Tidbits from Karen Maitland

Posted on: 30/05/2017 with tags: karen maitland, Medieval facts, The Plague Charmer, Tuesday Tidbits, Medieval, Middle Ages

Crooked Tables

Medieval gambling houses offered different forms of gaming including one known as tables, chequers or quek, where marbles or round stones were rolled across the board and players bet on them landing on white or black squares. The outcome could be rigged by having some of the black squares raised slightly higher than the white ones or vice versa. The chequer board pattern made it impossible to see this, especially in candle light. In 1382, William Soys cheated three men of a total of 76 shillings, 8d with such a board. He was sentenced to the pillory for an hour for three days.

Fashionable Ferrets

Medieval illustrations show noblemen and women hunting rabbits, called conies, with ferrets. But the lower classes started to acquire ferrets too, especially poachers. So, in 1390, Richard II made it illegal to own either ferrets or hunting hounds if you weren’t a landowner, declaring, ‘It is ordained that no manner of layman which hath not lands to the value of forty shillings a year shall from henceforth keep any greyhound or other dog to hunt, nor shall he use ferrets, nets, heys, harepipes nor cords, nor other engines for to take or destroy deer, hares, nor conies, nor other gentlemen’s game, under pain of twelve months’ imprisonment.’

A Horse’s Revenge

In the fourteenth century, Sir Robert de Shurland, Barron of Sheppey, killed a priest and was banished by Edward I. He swam his horse two miles out to where the king’s ship lay to beg for pardon, but on his return, a witness said his horse had made the journey by sorcery. So, Robert cut off the beast’s head. A year later, his new horse reared at that spot. Robert was thrown onto the skull of his dead horse and killed. This tale may have originated from a horse’s head and waves depicted on his tomb, probably the sign that he’d been granted the right to any claim wreck he could ride to on horseback at low tide and touch with his lance.

 

The Plague Charmer

Karen Maitland’s THE PLAGUE CHARMER is out now

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Jo Liddiard

Post author: Jo Liddiard

Jo represents Headline on the H for History team, and likes to spend her Sunday afternoons wandering the gardens of historical buildings. Preferably with ice-cream. Favourite period of history: V hard to pick but probably The Tudors! Favourite historical read: Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy or Lyndsay Faye’s The Gods of Gotham Upcoming book I’m most looking forward to: Antonia Hodgson’s A Death at Fountains Abbey

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