Thursday, March 08, 2007

Furred grey gloves and hot air

This post is partly in response to Kemberlee's request for more whimsies from the twelfth century world, and partly because I've been meaning to do it anyway. Continuing to research and still currently digesting a thesis by Susan Atkin 'The Bigod Family: an investigation into their lands and activities 1066-1306, I have been fascinated by the list of petty serjeantries held by the family. A serjeantry was land held in return for performing a particular service or giving a particular gift to the king. Some of these services and gifts are a tad curious to say the least. Take a look.
Banningham in Norfolk was the one that Roger Bigod II (my hero) purchased from one Avice Tussard and aforementioned Hubert Corn de Boeuf and was held for the provision of one crossbowman and one man with a lance, valued at £3.3s and 3 1/2 d

Berwick in Wiltshire was inherited by the Bigods from the Bassets (mid 13thC) and was held for one sparrowhawk.

Cratfield in Suffolk was held by the Bigods from 1242 for one clove gilleyflower.

Haddiscoe in Norfolk had been held by the Bigods from 1086 for the provision of one man with a lance.

Kersey in Suffolk, another Basset inheritance was held for one pair of gilt spurs, valued at 6d.

Langham in Norfolk was held by Roland le Pettur who held it for a leap, whistle and fart. (!!!) (In English, 'le Pettur' means 'the farter.' I don't know how much research has been done into the subject of musical farting as entertainment, but I seem to recall that it does exist as an art form. Presumably Roland must have eaten plenty of onions and beans in preparation for his performance. I wonder if the office was one of court jester.

Swainsthorpe in Norfolk had been held by the Bigods from 1086 for the provision of one crossbowman and one lancer for thirty days in time of war to guard Norwich castle.

Tasburgh was held for the service of one horseman in time of war in England.

Woking in Surrey was another Basset inheritance and the service due was one pair of furred grey gloves.

So there you have it. Mundane practicality, little touches of luxury and the slapstick absurd. I love Medieval society!


Carla said...

Some of these are fascinating. Did they hold the land indefinitely for providing the gift or service, or was there a fixed term, or did the gift or service have to be repeated each year like a rental, or what?

Elizabeth Chadwick said...

Hi Carla,

The land appears to have been held indefinitely and to have been hereditory as Roland le Pettur's son held the serjeantry after him and on the same terms. I recall reading elsewhere that certainly in Roland's case, the service was performed at least once a year at Christmas. Servants leans over to whisper to the King sitting at dinner, 'Sire,the entertainment's arrived)! It doesn't say with the others but I would assume from my other readings and meanderings that it's an annual thing.

Anonymous said...

No time to email (no energy, really - bronchitis is a greedy creature) but I just took your name in vain on my foodblog and used your words, so I thought you might appreciate knowing. Your gingerbread comments have given me much to think about, which is good cos I have thinking time while I recover.