This is the third in a series of five blogs about Historical & Special Collections’ English Manor Rolls (1305-1770). HSC was honored to have Eleanor Goerss, Pforzheimer Fellow ’17, with us last summer to perform research on and enhance description of this internationally-important collection, including authoring these posts. Stay tuned for more of what you’ll find, often unexpectedly, in this collection.
Here’s what a fourteenth-century English feud looks like, pieced together from court manor records. Warning: it involves blood.
The first entry in the section of the roll pictured above says that Gonne Brighamton, “unjustly and against the peace, drew blood from Margaret Conperes” [Gonne Brighamton iniuste et contra pacem traxit sanguinem de Margareta] and was fined four pence for it. In the next entry Walter Conperes and his wife Margaret bring a complaint against Gonne Brighamton for trespassing, saying that “she assaulted the said Margaret, who was beaten and badly handled against the peace, to damages of 50 s.” Gonne was fined three pence.
But we quickly learn that Margaret was not exactly a passive victim. The next two entries say: first, Margaret drew blood from the Gonne, and second that Margaret was fined for trespassing against Gonne, beating her and handling her badly, also for damages of 50 shillings.
In other words, Margaret and Gonne settled their bloody fight in court, loudly letting everyone know about it while also paying out a total of fourteen pence to the lord. An out-of-court settlement would have been much cheaper; in fourteenth-century Wiltshire the going rate for a “license of concord,” or permission to let charges drop, was only two pence!