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.MOTTEThe artificial mound on which the wooden donjon (q.v.) tower was erected in early Norman castles, surrounded by the bailey (q.v.).An excellent example is Totnes Castle.MURDRUM FINEAn amercement (q.v.) levied on a community by the coroner when a person was found dead in suspicious circumstances and no culprit could be produced – unless the villagers could make ‘presentment of Englishry’ (q.v.).ORDEALThough sometimes used to extract confessions, the Ordeal was an ancient ritual, abolished by the Vatican in 1215, in which suspects were subjected to painful and often fatal activities, such as walking barefoot over nine red-hot plough-shares, picking a stone from a vat of boiling water, licking white-hot iron, etc.If they suffered no injury, they were judged innocent.Another common ordeal was to be bound and thrown into deep water; if the victims sank they were innocent; if they floated they were guilty, and were hanged or mutilated.OUTLAWLiterally, anyone outside the law, usually escaped prisoners or fugitives lurking in the forests.They ceased to exist as legal persons, and anyone was entitled to kill them on sight to collect a bounty, as if they were the ‘wolf’s head’.OUTREMERThe four Christian kingdoms in the Levant at the time of the Crusades, including the kingdom of Jerusalem.PEINE ET FORTE DURE‘Hard and severe punishment’, a torture used for the extraction of confessions from suspects.PHTHISISTuberculosis, rife in medieval times.PORTREEVEOne of the senior burgesses in a township, elected by the others as leader.There were usually two, later superseded by a mayor, the first mayor of Exeter being installed in 1208.PREBENDARY see CANONPRECENTORA senior canon in a cathedral, responsible for organising the religious services, singing, etc.PRESENTMENT OF ENGLISHRYFollowing the 1066 Conquest, many Normans were covertly killed by aggrieved Saxons, so the law decreed that anyone found dead from unnatural causes was presumed to be Norman and the village was punished by a murdrum fine (q.v.) unless they could prove that the deceased was English or a foreigner.This was usually done before the coroner by a male member of the family.This continued for several centuries as, even though it became meaningless so long after the Conquest, it was a good source of revenue to the Crown.RULE OF ST CHRODEGANGA strict regime of a simple communal life, devised by an eighth-century bishop of Metz.It was adopted by Bishop Leofric, who founded Exeter Cathedral in 1050, but did not long survive his death.The canons soon adopted a more comfortable, even luxurious lifestyle.SHERIFFThe ‘shire reeve’, the King’s representative and principal law officer in a county, responsible for law and order and the collection of taxes.SURCOATEither a light over-tunic or a garment worn over armour, to protect it from the sun’s heat and to display heraldic recognition devices.TITHEA tenth part of the harvest and all farm produce, demanded by the Church.Stored in large tithe barns in each village.TUNICThe main garment for a man, pulled over the head to reach the knee or calf.A linen shirt might be worn underneath and the lower sides or front and back would be slit for riding a horse.UNDERCROFTThe lowest floor of a a fortified building.The entrance to the rest of the building was on the floor above, isolated from the undercroft, which might be partly below ground level.Removable wooden steps prevented attackers from reaching the main door.VERDERERA judicial officer who supervised the royal forests and applied the harsh laws of the verge.VICARA priest employed by a more senior cleric, such as a canon (q.v.), to carry out some of his religious duties, especially attending the numerous daily services in a cathedral.Often called a vicar-choral, from his participation in chanted services.PROLOGUEDecember 1194The morning was ravaged by the sound of axe on tree and the crackle of flames as branches were hacked off and burned.A dozen men were slowly but surely pushing back the forest edge from the strips of cultivated land that lay on the valley slopes around the village of Afton, a few miles from Totnes.Already this month, in spite of interruptions caused by angry disputes with men from Loventor, the next village beyond the trees, they had advanced the new ground won from the woods by a dozen acres.Alward, the Saxon reeve from Afton, was walking around the ash-strewn ground, counting the trees felled that week.He recorded them by notches cut with his dagger on a tally stick to show to the bailiff of his lord, Henry de la Pomeroy, who would inevitably complain about the amount of work done, whatever new area they had managed to add to his manor.Alward was well aware that they were on disputed land and that, with every tree dropped, they were getting deeper into the property claimed by Sir William Fitzhamon, who included the tiny hamlet of Loventor within his honour.He disliked having to argue with the men from Loventor.When they had come to shout abuse at his team for trespassing the week before, it had come to blows: he had suffered a cut head and one of his men was knocked out during the scuffle.Following this, the bailiff had sent a couple of men-at-arms to escort the felling team, but after two days of peace, they were sent back to Berry Castle, the Pomeroy stronghold high on a ridge a mile away.But that had proved to be the quiet before the storm.Today they had been at work for barely two hours when suddenly, from out of the trees opposite, came a yelling horde of men, waving cudgels and staves.Some of the Afton men immediately dropped their tools and ran downhill towards the village, which was visible in the distance.Others held their ground, encouraged by Alward, who tried to halt the attackers by shouting and waving his arms.The next moment a ragged figure felled him with a blow on the shoulder from a staff and another wild-looking peasant began kicking him.Similar scenes took place all over the despoiled area, with hand-to-hand fights going on amid yelling and curses.Before long the rout was over – half the Afton men had fled and the rest were on the ground, nursing sore heads and bruised ribs, though no one was seriously hurt.Alward sat up painfully and saw that the raiders were now ignoring his men and collecting up all their tools [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]