Monday, January 14, 2013

Today's research snippet. Letters from King John

Today's research snippet. Here are two business letters of King John. They show him protecting the interests of the Jewish population in London and being strong worded about it. The second concerns the release of prisoners as a gesture of honour and respect to mark his mother's passing.  The photo from my archive is of a 

The King to the mayor and barons of London,
we have always loved you much, and have caused your rights and liberties to be well served; hence we infer that you especially love us, and voluntarily desire to do those things which tend to our honour, and to the peace and tranquillity of our kingdom. But, when you know that the Jews are under our special protection, we indeed marvel that you have allowed mischief to be done to the Jews dwelling in the city of London, such being manifestly against the peace and tranquillity of our realm; and we are so much the more astonished and concerned thereat, because the other Jews throughout England, wheresoever they dwell, excepting those in your city, are in perfect peace. Nor do we notice this on account of the Jews only, but also for our own quiet, because if we had granted our protection to a dog, it ought to be inviolably observed. Henceforth, however we commit the Jews dwelling in London to your custody; and if any one shall attempt to harm them, you may always defend and assist them; for in future at your hands will we require their blood, if perchance, by your default, any evil happen to them, for we well know that things of this sort do occur throughout the foolish people of the town, and not to the discreet, by whom the folly of the foolish ought to be restrained. Witness ourself at Montfort, on the 29th day of July.

The King to the Sheriff of Dorsetshire,
Know ye, that, for the love of God and safety of the soul of our very dear mother who is recently dead, we have liberated and quitted claim on the Wednesday next before Palm Sunday, viz., the 14th day of April, in the fifth year of our reign, all prisoners, whatever the cause for which they may have been detained, whether for murder, felony, or larceny, or breaking the forest laws, or for any other misdemeanour whatsoever, except the prisoners taken in our late war, those also whom we sent over from Normandy into England to be there kept and imprisoned, and the Jews who are now our prisoners.
And therefore we command you, immediately on sight of these letters, to liberate all the aforesaid prisoners, except as above excepted, so that those prisoners who are to be liberated find security in full county court, to be hereafter faithful, and then they may remain in our territories. Otherwise make them, in full County Court, abjure our realm, on condition that they confess their guilt, and depart within 40 days after such abjuration. Those, however, who had been imprisoned for homicide are to find bail, either to stand their trial or to make peace with the parents, which if they be unwilling or unable to do, they must also abjure our realm, and depart therefrom within the term aforesaid, unless they prefer to return into prison and stand their trial,.
As for those who are arrained for breach of forest laws, and are detained in prison, we will that they be altogether liberated, excepting those who are found with venison, and were convicted thereof, concerning whom we will they find bail not to commit trespass in our forests in future. But if they shall be unwilling or unable to find security, let them, like the others aforesaid in our mercy, abjure our realm, and depart therefrom within the aforesaid term.
Witness our self at Fremantle, on the 15th day of April

Today's photo - King John's hand on his sword hilt from the tomb effigy set at the Cast Court: Victoria and Albert Museum.

No comments: