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Sunday is traditionally a day of rest, but for 14th century Londoners it could be deadly, according to academics.

Criminologists at Cambridge University trawled through Coroner’s Rolls which document sudden and unnatural deaths between 1300 and 1340 to determine when the capital was at its most murderous.

They discovered the majority of killings took place in London’s busy streets and markets, and one third happened on a Sunday, including six in religious buildings and one by a jealous priest who caught his lover with another man.


Bloody Sunday: how the Lord's day was murder in Medieval England



Cambridge University has mapped the murder hot spots of Medieval England CREDIT: UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE

Sarah Knapton, science editor
28 November 2018
The Telegraph

Sunday is traditionally a day of rest, but for 14th century Londoners it could be deadly, according to academics.

Criminologists at Cambridge University trawled through Coroner’s Rolls which document sudden and unnatural deaths between 1300 and 1340 to determine when the capital was at its most murderous.

They discovered the majority of killings took place in London’s busy streets and markets, and one third happened on a Sunday, including six in religious buildings and one by a jealous priest who caught his lover with another man.

Professor Manuel Eisner, who has created an interactive map of the murders, said: “The events described in the Coroners’ Rolls show weapons were never far away, male honour had to be protected, and conflicts easily got out of hand.

“They give us a detailed picture of how homicide was embedded in the rhythms of urban medieval life.

“Sunday was the day when people had time to engage in social activities, such as drinking and gaming, which would often trigger frictions that led to assault.”


Academics trawled through Coroner's rolls of inquests to find the most bloody and violent deaths CREDIT: NATIONAL ARCHIVES

Among the more notable killings was that of Thomas of Lynn who, irritated by the sound of a late night musician, chased him up Cornhill with a wooden bar only to be stabbed to the death by the minstrel in self-defence.

Innkeeper Stephen of Lynn was murdered by a sore-loser after winning at backgammon, while Roger Styward of Hamptone was beaten to death by irate shopkeepers after he threw pungent eel skins on to the ground outside their premises.

Fishmonger William Mysone was stabbed to death by his mistress Isabella Heyron, while Thomas the Baker was pushed down the stairs by a disgruntled employee.

Although the map shows murders occurred across the city, two main homicide ‘hotspots’ emerged.

One was the stretch of Cheapside from St Mary-le-Bow church to St Paul’s Cathedral.


Hot spots emerged in Cheapside and near Leadenhall Market CREDIT: UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE

The second was further east near streets radiating out from Leadenhall Market, the history of which can be traced back to the 14th century.

Around 77 per cent of murders were committed between early evenings, “around the hour of vespers” - between 4pm and 6pm - and the first hours after curfew around 9pm.

Daggers and swords dominate the list of murder weapons, used in 68 per cent of all cases, and thick ‘quarter staff’ poles designed for close combat also accounted for 19 per cent of cases.

Almost all (92 per cent) perpetrators were men. In just four cases a woman was the only suspect.

Estimates for London populations in the 14th century range from 40,000 to 100,000 (compared to 8.8 million today), which suggests that murder rates were about 15-20 times higher than we would expect to see in a contemporary British town of equivalent size today.

And the records show that death by murder could be a slow process in the 14th century.

“Over 18 per cent of victims survived at least a week after the initial trauma, probably dying eventually from infections or blood loss,” added Prof Eisner.

One saddle-maker who had his fingers cut off by a rival died of his wounds – and consequently became a murder victim – a full three weeks later.

The “murder map” of medieval London will be made publicly available on Wednesday on the website of the Violence Research Centre at Cambridge University.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/...ieval-england/
Last edited by Blackleaf; Dec 2nd, 2018 at 01:41 PM..