DEFENCE AND SECURITY Florilegium Urbanum

Keywords: medieval London defences security night-watch fortifications guard duty murage midsummer watch national defence military service rebellion war naval service shipbuilding
Subject: Defence and security measures for capital and kingdom
Original source: Corporation of London Records Office, Liber Albus, ff. 303-305
Transcription in: Henry Thomas Riley, ed. Liber Albus. Rolls Series, no.12, vol.1 (1859), 646-653.
Original language: Latin
Location: London
Date: 1226 to 1381


Provisions for night-watches and the safekeeping of the city, gates and walls in wartime, both by land and on the River Thames, and for armed forces.

A [royal] commission to the citizens of London to take certain sums from various merchandize, over three years, for repairing the city walls. A 132
That each gate be guarded during the day by two well-armed men, and at night be closed by the sergeant dwelling therein; and that each sergeant have a wait at his own cost. A 135
That the city gates are to be under the guard of the various wards neighbouring them. B 32
That each beadle may call up a certain number of armed men from his ward to guard the gates; whoever fails to answer [the summons] is to pay 12d to substitute someone in his place. B 33
That the mayor and aldermen are to have written down the names of all the crafts[men] in the city able to bear arms, and those who are not; and their arms are to be inspected. B 34
That the gates are to be well guarded. B 34
That bars and chains are to be made for all the roads, particularly near the waterside, by the Friars Preacher. B 34
That defects in the walls are to be repaired. B 34
That the gates are to be watched over more closely by guards, and the River Thames guarded more closely. B 34
Ordinance concerning the aldermannic night-watch. C 20
In what fashion a grant was made of 2d. per 20s. for the [sailors'] wages and expenses of three ships going into the king's service, as a war aid. C 20
That the war aid recently made to the king not be treated as a precedent. C 31
Writ to arrest criminals under the terms of the Statute of Winchester. C 89
Return of that writ. C 89
That every alderman is to have three horses for peacekeeping; and that the night-watch be undertaken every night by the aldermen and men of the wards, on horseback. C 90
That no-one go about masked at Christmastide. E 1
How the citizens were summoned to appear before the king and were asked by what means they proposed to keep the city safe for the king; the reply thereto, and their provisions for safeguarding it. E 119
How on another occasion the citizens were summoned to appear before the king to inform him how they would keep the city secure, and the arrangements thereto approved by the king. F 14
Commission for collecting murage. F 16
Provisions for the safekeeping of the city. F 43
Various writs concerning the war. F 43
Writ concerning an array [of arms] of the city and suburbs. F 214
Writ to array the citizenry, under the terms of the Statute of Winchester. G 79
That good watch be kept in every ward. G 111
That watches be set every night Liber Custumarum 218
Writ for collecting murage and pavage. B 113
The city's murage on diverse items is granted to various men. C 94
Order that the wards ought to keep the city safe, and in what fashion; and how many men from each ward should be found for the custody of the gates. C 53
Various writs and letters concerning the proper defence and safekeeping of the city for the king. D 142, 143
Provisions for the safekeeping of the city. D 147
Writ for the city to be properly safeguarded, upon penalty of loss of life or limb. D 141
Writ for taking the city into the king's hand, and the king's letter in that regard D 150
Writ against the Earl of Hereford or anyone else of his faction entering the city. D 155
Murage granted by the king for a limited period. E 50
Writ cancelling murage. E 88
Letter from the king, that no lords who are opponents of the king should be received into the city. E 127
The city's response to the same. E 127
Various writs concerning arresting those opponents. E 127
Letter requesting a bond from the city, under the Common Seal, concerning keeping the city secure for the king.
Letter from the city in response to the same.
Letter from the mayor to the king concerning 300 foot-soldiers granted for the aid of the king's war.
Letter from the king, accepting the same.
Letter from the city in response to the same.
E 128
Order concerning performance of the night-watch. D 97
Provisions for the safekeeping of the city. D 98
Writ concerning the selection of crossbowmen and for arming them, with the names of the crossbowmen. D 165
Letter from the king [to the effect] that the citizens should not make any conspiracy or alliance with the Earl of Lancaster. E 129
Letter from the king accepting the food-soldiers sent from London.
King's writ revoking the exile of Hugh le Despenser junior.
Writ of protection for Hugh le Despenser senior and junior.MBR> Writ to arrest Bartholomew de Badelsmere.
E 129
King's writ to take the lands of the Earl of Hereford and other magnates into the king's hand. E 132
Writ to deliver custody of those lands to Hamon Chigwell. E 132
King's writ concerning the Scottish war. E 134
Various writs against lords opposing the king. E 135
Writ to arrest whoever is a supporter of the Earl of Kent. E 200
Writ that no-one, native or foreigner, bring any [Papal] bull or other instrument into England. F 76
Letter and writ from the king, then at war in France, concerning the capture of various towns. F 120
Writ to let the king have 20,000 sacks of wool for the siege of Calais. F 139
King's writ concerning disputes between the town and university of Oxford. G 33
Writ to enquire into evil spoken of the king and Council. G 38
Proclamation that Frenchmen are to leave England. G 76
Writ that no-one is to harass Flemings. G 76
Writ that no-one is to harass merchants of Flanders and Lombardy. G 226
Proclamation that Flemings, the enemy of the king of France, are to leave England. E 39
King's writ that the truce between England and France had been suspended. C 73
The agreement between the king of England and the Count of Flanders. 270
Letter from the Count of Flanders concerning that agreement. C 139
King's writ to make an arrest on Flemings. E 6
Writ to send five hundred armed men to York, at the cost of the city for 40 days, to be used in the war with Scotland. E 78
Letter that the armed men and foot-soldiers not be treated as a precedent. E 84
That no-one harass Flemings, who are under the king's protection. F 161
Writ for the safekeeping of the city and provisions for the safekeeping of it and its gates, and letters from the king sent to various aldermen in that regard. D 142
Other provisions for the safekeeping of the same and its gates, and letters sent to various aldermen and citizens. D 142
Provisions for the safekeeping of the city. H 63
Provisions for putting together a night-watch. G 253
Memorandum that the community granted the king's son twenty caparisoned horses. C 22
Writ for sending 7200 men to join the king's army. E 250
Writ for armed men to the sent to the king. F 17
Writ to send four ships to sea, and to raise the money for the same.. F 22
Writ of indemnification regarding the above-mentioned men sent to the king. F 22
Writ to send ship-owners before the king's Council. F 29
Writ for 500 men to be sent to Portsmouth, and cancellation of the same. F 6
Archers sent to Gascony. F 7
Commission to various magnates to arrest ships for the aforesaid crossing. F 37
Grant by the citizens of 400 [sic] armed men to be sent to the king. F 37
Writ to send seamen before the king's Council. F 60
Writ for the mayor and sheriffs to be intendant on the admiral. F 60
Writ for hoblers to hasten to Portsmouth. F 119
Writ that men-at-arms are to hasten to the king at the siege of Calais, and writ for transporting victual there. F 127
Writ to put ships to sea. F 132
Writ to arrest ships, and a writ to put 120 large ships to sea. F 134
Writ that men-at-arms are to hasten to the king at the siege of Calais. F 139
Writ to transport victuals to that siege. F 139
Letter to fit out a ship and send it there. F 140
Writ that men-at-arms and others are to hasten to the king at the siege of Calais. F 141
Writ for men-at-arms and others. F 157
Writ to send men-at-arms and the response thereto. F 176
Writ for one hundred men-at-arms to be sent to the king. F 170
Writ that all men between the ages of 16 and 60 should furnish themselves with arms. F 106
Writ that the Thames fleet has been taken into the king's hand, because of a dispute between the admirals over which of them has jurisdiction. F 109
Writ to muster men-at-arms and archers. F 110
Writ concerning the postponement of the king's crossing, and writ to muster men. F 115
Letter concerning two ships to be furnished with men, and arrangements for the same. F 188
Writ to provide 300 archers. F 201
Writ to muster men. F 115
Writ to muster archers. F 111
Writ for men-at-arms and archers. F 101
Commission to arrest ships. F 98
Writ to select 160 archers, a writ to the aldermen about the same, and a writ for 80 archers. F 99
Writ for archers. F 100
Writ for men-at-arms and archers. F 102
Notice given to each alderman to muster men. F 214
Writ that ships are to go to a certain port. G 11
Writ for men-at-arms and archers to go to Sandwich. G 38, 39
Writ to muster the men of the city. G 40
Writ that men-at-arms and archers are to hasten to the king. G 48
Proclamation of the king's crossing overseas. G 75
Writ concerning French hostages, and proclamation concerning armour and victuals. G 224
Writ that Englishmen may keep whatever they acquire in France. G 228
Writ to arrest anyone withdrawing from the fleet without permission. G 293
Writ to make two barges, and the levy of money for one barge. G 297
Account of the money received for the construction of the same. G 298
King's letter to send the barge to Sandwich. G 299
Indenture between the mayor and the sailors of those barges. G 303
King's letter to outfit the barge. G 306
Proclamation that if anyone should wish to complain against the Bishop of Chester as Treasurer. C 92
Proclamation regarding the coronation of King Edward, the son of King Edward [I]. C 93
Writ for selecting 400 archers. F 81
That no armed man leave the kingdom. F 91
Proclamation against the arrest of the goods of Spanish merchants. F 20
Writ to select 320 archers. F 109
Instructions sent by the mayor for undertaking the night-watch over Christmas. G 186
Proclamation concerning the sale of armour. G 290
Writ to turn over certain armour to the Earl of March of Scotland. H 39
Provisions for the safekeeping of the city. H 63
Instructions for undertaking the night-watch over Christmas. H 54
Instructions sent to armourers to sell at reasonable prices. H 68
Provisions for the safekeeping of the Thames by the wards at times of war. H 73
Instructions sent to the aldermen for undertaking the night-watch at times of war. H 101
Memorandum of one hundred marks paid to the Earl of Buckingham by Nicholas Brembre on behalf of the city. H 101
H 111
For the guarding of London's gates. H 137
Provisions made for the guarding of the gates [and] the River Thames. D 97
Provisions concerning the safekeeping of the city. D 98


Besides being evidence of archival science in the early fifteenth century, the above excerpt from a more extensive finding aid, entered into one of London's chief compilations of key documents, (to help the town clerk's office locate, in the numerous volumes of memoranda, additional sources of information) give a sense of the scope of the issues addressed by the London authorities in dealing with city defences, militia, and security concerns. The finding-aid is not a comprehensive index to London archival sources dealing with military matters; the compilers were interested in identifying documents they felt it might be needed to refer to in the future, such as formulae, precedents, and policies. So it is not a guide to the history of defence and security in the city, but it provides a fair cross-section of the themes, although at times the compilers seem to lose sight of their theme.

London, with its claims to be the capital of the realm and to have a voice in the selection of kings (even with the succession determined usually by law of inheritance, new kings found it politic to legitimize their rule by obtaining the acclamation of Londoners), inevitably had some influence over national affairs. The forces of populous and wealthy London had played an important role in English resistance to the renewed Danish assaults of the late tenth and early eleventh centuries, and as sign of their loyalty to the Wessex dynasty Londoners in 1016 elected Edmund Ironside king to continue the struggle. Cnut, after his victory, had to pay particular attention to keeping dangerous London under close control.

Similarly, from the time of William the Conqueror, factions struggling to dominate national government consistently recognized the importance of controlling or winning over London. The citizens, who resented the king just as other towns resented interference in their affairs by external authorities, were prepared to get involved in national power-struggles when they felt it might benefit the city interests. For instance, they supported Stephen in the civil war with Matilda, the baronial reformers against King John, the Montfortians against Henry III, Isabella and Mortimer against Edward II, and the Appellants against Richard II. Not just politically but also militarily they could make a difference. London supplied Stephen with a thousand soldiers for a siege of Winchester. A perverse example is the battle of Lewes, where the precipitous flight of the broken London contingent, prompting an ill-advised pursuit off the field by Prince Edward's cavalry, enabled Simon de Montfort to gain victory against the remaining royalist forces. In some conflicts it was felt that London's best interests were served by attempting neutrality, although this might sometimes mean running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. London was prepared to go to war, but it preferred to avoid doing so if possible. It was particularly reluctant when it came to foreign wars, which had little direct benefit to its interests.

Henry I's charter of liberties granted to London included the usual exemption from trial by battle, but used the term bellum rather than duellum, which became common in later charters. It may have been a possibly wilful misinterpretation of this that allowed, at some time during the reign of John, a compiler of London liberties and customs (himself probably a member of the city government) to include the broader assertion that:

"The citizens of London do not make war [bellum], nor are they obliged to go on expeditions, by land or by sea, because they are free and exempt from all military service. The city is [however] accustomed to serve as a refuge and defensive fortification of the realm; all may seek there an escape to safety."
[Felix Liebermann, Die Gesetze der Angelsachsen, vol.1 (1903), 673. My translation.]

This clause, which does not appear in all versions of the compilation and may have been an add-on in others, would reflect the policy position of the London authorities, that they accepted the obligation of Londoners to defend the city, but did not feel they should be at the beck and call of the king in providing contingents for offensive armies operating further afield. This became a bone of contention between city and king. Increasing demands were made by Edwards I and II for contributions from London to the army not only due to the wars with Scotland and France, but to the factional fighting within England.

The compilation of liberties was made at a period when the city, after having gained greater powers of self-government from Prince John, grateful to the city for its support of play for power, had then become a focus for the baronial disaffection and resistance. But the city rulers apparently knew better than to make a futile attempt to have their position on military service formalized via inclusion in a charter of liberties. Instead they sought written assurances that royal requests for military service outside the city and its suburbs would not serve as precedents; these assurances were not always provided by Edward II. However, the citizens were able to reap a reward for their support of Isabella and Mortimer by obtaining, in a new charter (1327), the specification that Londoners would not be forced to give military service outside the city. There followed a broader assurance, in the second statute of Edward III's reign, that no-one would be forced to give military service outside his shire, except in the event of foreign invasion. It did not stop future requests for support from London, nor make it possible for the city authorities to resist royal pressure, but it gave them room for negotiation. The hostilities with France obliged Edward III to make many demands on London, but he was prepared to scale down those demands, as well as to issue the desired assurances concerning precedent. Edward's military and financial needs probably strengthened London's hand in seeking concessions from him in jurisdictional and commercial matters.

The troubled reign of Edward II provides an example of how the Londoners had to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds when civil war was on the horizon, while at the same time trying to exploit the situation to their own advantage. Edward was distrusted by his subjects from the first, and soon gave good reason to confirm the suspicions of him.

[Item D 142, 143]

In 1311 an alliance of barons with the strongest objections to Edward's rule forced him to surrender decision-making to a committee and to banish his favourite, Piers de Gaveston; they had produced a set of reform ordinances which became the basis for years of conflict between the factions. At Christmas 1311 Edward had struck back by recalling Gaveston to his side, and his opponents (known as the Ordainers) responded by starting to gather their forces.

At London, a baronial army's presence in 1310 had encouraged local reformers to assert themselves against the aldermannic elite and have their leader, Richer de Refham, elected mayor; Refham instituted a programme to reform city administration, including the maintenance of public order (attacks by Londoners on Gascon residents being one symptom of problems). Despite Refham's deposition from the mayoralty in 1311, the reform movement continued to pick up steam,; the national crisis following Gaveston's return fuelled it further.

Edward's flurry of letters, commanding that London be secured for him, resulted in typical defensive provisions: musters to be made in each ward, the gates to be guarded, and lodging-house owners to be made responsible for the behaviour of their lodgers. Edward was not satisfied; he sent a series of letters to individual leading citizens (notably, aldermen), urging their support in holding London for him. Further defensive measures were authorized. It was to be ensured that the gates, barbicans and portcullises were in good repair and strong, a double chain being placed on either side of each gate to reinforce it. Any necessary repairs to the walls were to be undertaken, and the city ditch scoured and deepened where needed. Lanes leading down to the Thames were also to have chains put across them, and Thames-side quays protected by battlements. Each gate was to be guarded by six strong men, well armed and trained; the times of opening and closing the main and wicket gates were specified. Besides the night-watch, there was to be a force of one or two hundred men to patrol the streets, and two patrol boats on the Thames. Every resident or lodger in each ward was to pay sums ranging from a farthing to a penny per day to cover the costs of these measures.

In the letter advising the king of their intentions, city authorities also sought to extract from him financial concessions, reminding him that murage was currently being absorbed by work on the wall by the Friars Preacher, and asking that they have the power to levy contributions from clerics and other residents exempted from civic taxation. The defensive measures were clearly desirable, whichever way the wind blew, but truer colours were shown when the king asked that for assistance in provisioning the Tower; the authorities responded that they were unable to do so at this time. When the baronial forces arrived at London, no resistance was offered to them using the city and suburbs as a base. On February 8, Edward sent fresh orders for Londoners to hold the city against the Ordainers, and reminded them of a written promise of fealty to Henry III and his successors. But the reformers in London enacted regulations prohibiting the sealing of any letter committing the city to anything, without the unanimous approval of a communal assembly, and provisions were made for keeping the city's civic seal (called the Common Seal) secure.

In July, following Gaveston's murder, a desperate Edward resorted to a show of force, marching his army into London (July 1312) to intimidate the citizens. He extracted from them an assurance that they would not open their gates to his enemies. However, events at London continued on a roller-coaster ride as the fortunes of the national factions fluctuated over the next year or so, but an uneasy balance of power established itself for a few years, until a new favourite of the king, Hugh Despenser, made himself unpopular. In this period, Edward came to see London as a source of soldiers for his disastrous Scottish war. His demands on the city could only have increased his unpopularity there, while the Londoners' pressing requests that he repay past loans (to support war efforts) made Edward desirous of bringing the city to heel.

[Item E119]

In 1321, under renewed pressure from rebellious barons, the king (probably at the suggestion of Despenser) tried to intimidate the Londoners into loyalty by subjecting them to a gruelling eyre that involved an extensive audit of civic records, encouraging sentiments of grievance within the community, and a legal challenge to many of the civic liberties, leading to their suspension and the appointment of a royal warden to govern the city. So, when the baronial Contrariants rose up in arms against Edward, in the Welsh Marches and northern England, it was with some uncertainty that he summoned the mayor and aldermen before him on 1 July, to ask whether or not he could count on the city's support.

He could not; but mayor Chigwell played his cards carefully, agreeing to hold London for the king. On 4 July he reported again to the king, concerning the measures to be taken. These were basically procedures in place in the past (notably the crisis of 1312), augmented with provisions that reflect the fear of imminent attack:

  • The mayor and aldermen would ensure they and their households were adequately armed, and would muster and inspect the ward militia.
  • The aldermen would check out the hostelries to see if any persons of suspect character were staying there, and would advise the hostelers not to accept any lodgers for whom they were not prepared to be answerable.
  • Each city gate would be guarded by a force of twelve men, physically capable and well-armed, from sunrise to sunset, and a force of twenty-four overnight, with the ward beadles keeping records of those summoned to the watch, and the aldermen inspecting each contingent when it came on duty, to ensure the men were suitable and properly equipped.
  • The guards would not leave their posts (such as being lured away by sounds of trouble elsewhere in the city) unless ordered to by mayor or aldermen.
  • Two warders would be appointed for each gate to take responsibility for closing the main gates at sunset and the wicket gates when curfew was rung, and for opening the latter when Prime was rung and the former at sunrise.
  • Look-outs would be posted top the gates and along the walls, with horns for summoning guards should the enemy approach.
  • A force of at least two hundred armed men would patrol the streets at night and be available to reinforce the gate guards if needed.
  • No vessel would be allowed to moor overnight except at the docks at Billingsgate and Queenhythe, and two boats with armed men would patrol each of the stretches of Thames east and west of London Bridge, alerting the Thames-side guard contingents if they encountered trouble.

This plan ended on a small note of defiance, by asserting that, since the Londoners were themselves mostly merchants and craftsmen, it was not the intent to prevent the coming and going through the gates of peaceful people pursuing commerce.

Two days later the king, presumably having taken counsel, approved these arrangements and ordered them put into effect, but had to repeat this order on10 July, when the city authorities, who had apparently failed to take any action yet, summoned an assembly and made arrangements for the guarding of the gates. The authorities again assured the king of their preparedness to support him, at the same time asking for a restoration of certain of their liberties (implicit blackmail). Meanwhile, they had been conferring with the Contrariants (whose forces were encamped around the city) and sent a letter to them, asking them not to be alarmed by the defensive measures and assuring them that they would not aid Despenser or offer opposition to the rebels. Within days Londoners were taking part in the parliament that forced the king to exile Despenser.

Chigwell continued to play the middle ground as best he could. When the fortunes of Edward and Despenser revived, he found it politic to send a force of five hundred soldiers to join the royal army, while at the same time reporting no success in rooting out any of the king's enemies believed to be hiding in the city. In September, provisions were made for raising money (murage) for repairing the walls and men for scouring the city ditch.

The king remained worried, suspecting the London authorities were not sincere in their efforts to hunt down Contrariants; he continued to insist the city authorities live up to their promises for keeping London secure. Chigwell responded, on 3 December, by reaffirming the city's loyalty but refusing to give any guarantees, other than the assurance already made, that they would do their duty. Edward wanted the city to agree to a legal document binding it to provide military service in any future war. A second letter from Chigwell indicated that no such ongoing commitment would be agreed to, but that the city would provide 300 men to join the king, so long as this not be taken as a precedent. Edward and the Despensers were able to regain dominance, but their harsh rule only set the scene for a more determined revolt in which London – resentful of the king's demands for military service, particularly when used for political ends (rather than to defend against a foreign threat) – would play a prominent and violent role in their overthrow. The Hundred Years War – at least in its offensive dimension, as opposed to protecting England against French attack –was also unpopular at times, as regards supplying troops. It was rightly perceived as something for the personal gain of the king (the legitimacy of his claim to the French throne being a matter of much debate among the English), rather than the good of the nation. on the other hand, when there were successes such as Crecy and Poitiers, the war met with more approval, capitalizing on national pride combined with distrust of the French.

With the foreign wars of the fourteenth century demanding greater professionalism of the military, – the Lewes debacle having been a sign of the declining military abilities of the citizenry – and developments in armour making it more costly, the London authorities were more inclined to support the king financially rather than with soldiers. In 1369, for example, the city raised £2,000 instead of a troop of soldiers. The following year the king asked for £5,000, and the city authorities balked, but the king insisted, and the money was raised as a loan. It was repaid in 1371, then a similar sum promptly borrowed again. In response to a request from Richard II (not popular in the city) for military aid against the Appellants, the mayor begged off, on the grounds that Londoners were not professional soldiers, only merchants and craftsmen, most of whom were incapable of defending the city. The excuse did not prevent London from fielding armed forces on several later occasions, although it continued to go against the grain. The concern perhaps lay less with finding men to fight than to payment of their expenses, but there was a general reluctance on the part of towns to become embroiled in conflicts that did not affect them.

[Item G 111]

War was not the only threat to London. The Black Death ravaged the crowded, unhygienic and unprepared city between autumn 1348 and spring 1349. Family and social structures were, at least temporarily, weakened. Peasants escaping their bonds of serfdom flocked into the city, hoping to take advantage of shrinkage in the labour force; but many had to resort to begging and some probably to crime, and in 1359 they were ordered to leave the city. The food supply from the countryside became unreliable. There was heightened tension between native and immigrant Londoners, and a general restlessness within London society. Respect for the authorities, lay and ecclesiastical, who had been impotent to prevent the rapid spread of disease, diminished; communal customs were ignored, and moral standards declined. The plague victims included many of the officials responsible for supervising the city and its craft organizations; although they were quickly replaced, the effectiveness of the administration was reduced. A long and rambling list of stipulations attempting to control prices and wages (October 1349) was an indication of the futility of trying to maintain the status quo. Chroniclers noted an increase in crime for which London would become notorious.

In the context of the first recurrence of plague, which began in 1361 and persisted for a few years, the king and his council, in consultation with the city authorities, decided to reissue existing regulations regarding public order and give them more teeth. The reworked set of ordinances specified fines and periods of imprisonment were prescribed for various types of assault, emphasized that weapons should not be carried in the streets, and placed greater onus on the responsibility of the aldermen, law-abiding citizens, and the hosts of lodging-houses, to ensure that disreputable elements were kept under control and security provisions were properly enforced, while allowing for the possibility of citizen's arrests. Further indications at this time of possible sources of disorder were the reissue of some of the earlier caps on wages and prices, a royal proclamation that Londoner's should devote their spare time to archery rather than football or cock-fighting (pursuits prone to violence), and the reiteration of a prohibition (1359) against the carrying of weapons by Londoners hailing from the Low Countries . In regard to the last, regulations targeted in 1362 at foreign weavers working in London referred to trade union tactics to resolve grievances that workmen had against their masters.

The problems experienced in the period after the plague culminated in another type of threat to London's security: the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, during which royal officials, citizens and foreigners were slaughtered in the streets and some London houses destroyed by the rebels. London's fortifications proved of no avail on this occasion; for they were only as strong as the willpower of Londoners to defend the perimeter. Some Londoners sympathized with the rebels: long lists of them (mainly from the lower levels of society) being exempted from the general pardon issued by the king after the event, or identified in London's wardmoots as suspected of having supported the rebels. Other residents saw the disruption of order as an opportunity to settle personal grudges (e.g. native London weavers attacked their Fleming rivals). Many more must have been fearful that, if the city authorities tried to keep out the rebels , the latter would scale the city walls (or be let in by their London sympathizers) and vent their anger on the citizenry at large.

That last category included some aldermen who were sent to parley with the rebels when they reached the city outskirts. Instead of trying to persuade them to go home, the aldermen, perhaps intimidated by the size of the host, offered them encouragement and hospitality. One of them, Walter Sibil (it was accused), the alderman responsible for defending London Bridge, subsequently allowed one contingent of rebels across and through the bridge gates into the city, declining an offer from another alderman of help to defend the entrance. Meanwhile, the alderman responsible for defence of Aldgate had opened those gates to a second rebel contingent. Two days later, after mayor Walworth had helped deliver mortal blows to Wat Tyler, the peasants' leader, and was gathering a force of Londoners to lead out and repulse the rebel host, Sibil and another alderman urged their fellows to close the city gates and allow no-one in or out, claiming that the rebels had killed the king and the mayor. Whether this was treachery or fear (perhaps fed partly by factional in-fighting within citizen ranks), the behaviour was brushed under the carpet, but clearly, from lack of mettle and common purpose, London's defensive system had failed on this occasion.

The city walls, however, were sturdy enough, and possibly the military reputation of the Londoners sufficient, to discourage assaults during most episodes of civil war in medieval England; and during periods when a French invasion was anticipated the French fleet never confined itself to attacks on south coast ports . When an assault finally did come, in 1471, from a Lancastrian force, Londoners were able to mount a successful defence.



"A 132"
1279. A three-year grant of murage, with the toll rates specified for particular types of merchandize; the amounts ranged from ½d. payable on a thousand herring or a hundredweight of the spice cumin, to 1s.6d payable on a truss of cloth.

"A 135"
1287. the Letter-Book entry specifies which wards were responsible for each gate. It is not clear whether the reference to two guards means that each ward should provide that number, or whether there would be several two-man watches during the day. The term "wait" could be used to refer to the watch as a whole. But in this context it more likely refers to a specific watchman who would take principal responsibility for keeping a lookout at night, and sound the alarm in the event of trouble, the sergeant being close at hand. The sergeant was expected to pay the wages of the watchman out of his own salary, a not uncommon approach to the employment of minor officials.

"B 32"
1297 (July) A revised list of which wards were responsible for each gate.

"B 33"
1297 (August?). Those summoned by the beadle were to report for duty before sundown, and were to be off-duty at sunrise; each was to be equipped with body armour: an aketon (a padded doublet) supplemented by gambeson (another type of padded doublet), cuirass, or breastplate; As in the case of default of appearance, failing to come with the requisite armour meant the beadle should hire a substitute at the cost of the man summoned. Similarly, anyone failing to answer a summons to participate in the street patrol would be fined 3d. for the cost of a substitute. The beadle was essentially an alderman's sergeant and his role in preserving the peace and upholding city by-laws was to discover infringements and report them to higher authorities; the duties must have necessitated patrolling the ward to some degree.

"B 34"
1297 (September). These are among several requirements, the others being for the walls to be put in repair, and for ships to moor only on the north bank of the Thames. The Friars Preacher is now remembered as the Thames-side railway station, Blackfriars. Again we find a list of which wards would take responsibility for each gate; the London-based merchants of the German Hanse were now included (as in 1287, when referred to as "Danes"), subsequent to their agreement with the city authorities, in 1282, to contribute to the maintenance and defence of Bishopsgate, in return for concessions such as exemption from paying murage.

"C 20"
1294. A rotational division of responsibilities over the Christmas season. The first night the city warden (the mayoralty being suspended during a seizure of the liberties), sheriffs and their staffs were to perform the duty, providing horses and arms. On the other four nights the duty was assigned to specific aldermen and their wards.

"C 20"
1295. The London ships, which were to join others provided by the Cinque Ports, were to be financed via a tax on moveables of 2d. per 20s. value. They were to serve for three weeks at London's expense (and presumably at the king's expense if required for longer). The service related to the defence of the English coast, and harrying of the French coast, following the outbreak of war with France.

"C 31"
1226. A written assurance from Henry III, following a financial contribution towards his campaign in France. It may be significant that this document was copied into the Letter-Book at a much later date, when Edward I was making greater demands on Londoners to help resource his wars.

"C 89"
1306. As the only instance of a royal writ to this effect copied into the Letter-Books, it was perhaps the earliest example that the London authorities received following the statute's enactment in 1285.

"C 90"
1307 (July). Again a division of responsibility was specified, on a six-night rotation basis; on this occasion a sheriff and his staff were required to be involved every night. Possibly the extra concern was for a peaceful transition of power, following the death earlier that month of Edward I.

"E 1"
Ca. 1313? Not found at the location given. The context of this order is suggested by a later ordinance. Letter-Book G f.2 (ca.1352) has a similar prohibition of masks, or any kind of face covering, not restricted to Christmas time, in association with prohibitions of certain post-curfew activities: wandering the streets (except in the case of persons of known good character who carried a light), keeping taverns open, and going to private houses for purposes of gambling. Such activities were clearly prone to lead to infringements of the peace. The prohibition against masks had to be reissued periodically; it was evidently a hard habit to break. In 1311 Thomas de Bologne junior was convicted of an assault on the watchmen of Billingsgate ward during Christmas week 1310; this may have been the type of (possibly drunken?) brawling by young troublemakers that the prohibitions sought to prevent.

"E 119"
1321. Edward II's demand came in the context of active baronial opposition to his rule, discussed above.

"F 14"
April 1338. On this occasion the defensive measures were precautionary, there being no immediate threat, it was simply a case that Edward III was going overseas and he wanted to leave his capital safely provided for. Arrangements were less elaborate than they had been in 1321: there was repetition of the provisions for aldermen and their households to be armed, and regarding hostelries. With costs covered by a levy on all residents, a force to patrol the streets was to be put together, calling on six to twelve men from each ward; the names of those chosen was subsequently entered into the Letter-Book, the total number being 221. Names of anyone believed to be conspiring against the peace were to be reported to the authorities; anyone helping conspirators could face confiscation of property, and whoever raised a hubbub with a view to starting a riot would be subject to corporal or capital punishment. No-one other than those authorized was to go about armed in the city. Two members of the watch assigned to each gate were to hold the keys to the gate and be responsible for closing them at night, the hours of opening and closing of the main gates and wicket gates being as in 1321. The following month, the city raised a force of 40 men-at-arms and 60 archers to accompany the king on his foreign campaign.

"F 16"
May 1338. The new murage grant from the king was for five years. London being such a important centre for commerce, visiting merchants' resentment at having to pay this among other local tolls must have been correspondingly more vocal. In 1319 the king had ordered, apparently at the request of city authorities, a cessation of collection of murage, on the grounds that it had an adverse effect on commerce, importers taking their goods elsewhere. But the desirability of the revenue must have made this a short-lived policy. A more permanent solution had to originate with other towns seeking exemptions from paying murage elsewhere. Clauses in charters granting exemption from local tolls appeared several decades before the first murage grant was made to any town; exemptions specifically from murage appeared from the 1260s, and were held by several towns long before there is evidence of them having claimed the exemption at London. Whether an inevitable gradual decline in the income from murage was offset by an increase in the amount of commerce is hard to say. It may be that London resisted honouring claims of exemption, or that there was an issue with evidential proof. We cannot imagine that so precious a document as a royal charter of liberties would be loaned to every merchant each time he travelled; possibly the pursuit of a claim of exemption was sometimes assigned to parliamentary representatives, who were more likely to be entrusted with important documents (e.g. Lynn's claim in April 1340 was argued by Thomas de Melcheburne, representing the town at the parliament sitting at that time, and using a writ obtained two months earlier. On the other hand, Norwich's claim, presented at the same time, was made by two of the city bailiffs then in office (but not known to be attending parliament) and two others not known to have been in any official capacity. In the same month that the king granted London its renewal of murage in 1338, he supported with a confirming writ Coventry's claim that its merchants were exempt from paying the murage toll anywhere in England. Salisbury citizens, also backed up by the king's writ, successfully had asserted their exemption from London murage in July 1328, yet found it necessary to do so again in February 1339. Those of Exeter had done so in 1330, those of Cambridge in 1331, Ipswich in 1332, Rochester in 1333, and the men of Hereford followed suit in 1334 as soon as they obtained from the king a charter granting them exemption throughout the realm. On the other hand, Shrewsbury had an exemption from murage in its 1265 charter, yet did not force the issue at London until 1330; and Bristol, which had obtained its chartered exemption in 1300, succeeded in having this officially recognized at London not until 1337. More towns would do the same in coming years. During the same period the king was granting similar exemptions to towns under his sway in France of those of Flemish and Spanish allies. Just two days after conceding the Coventry exemption the Corporation decided to farm out the collection point at West Smithfield to a private citizen, for one year, for the sum of £8. A more extensive experiment with this had taken place in 1308 [See C 94] and it appears that in 1338 the Corporation was expecting to earn the same kind of income it had thirty years previously; or at least the profit-or-loss risk was transferred to the farmer. That no other collection points were farmed out in 1338 may suggest that the authorities could find no other takers willing to gamble. In 1332, the farm of murage proceeds was made under the condition that if, during the course of the lease, any groups of foreign merchants should be conceded exemption from murage, the amount payable by the farmer would be reduced from the £126.13s.4d originally negotiated. The chamberlain's account of 1339 indicates an income of £29.3s.8d. from murage, though whether this was from farmed or non-farmed sources is not stated.

"F 43"
1340. Letters patent reciting the writ of summons in 1338 (See F 14), accompanied by a new writ requiring the London authorities to make arrangements for the city while the king was overseas. This was a time of strong dissatisfaction within London caused by the taxation burden to support the costs of Edward III's wars, and violence erupted in the streets.

"F 214"
1352: The reason for the muster was fear that a French invasion was imminent.

"G 79"
1359: No specific reason was given for this muster, but it doubtless related to the king's imminent departure for France.

"G 111"
1363. A writ of June 1363, requiring the authorities to have public announcement made of an updated set of regulations concerning the preservation of the peace in London (See discussion above). The final clause of the regulations, enjoining alderman to take seriously their responsibility for organizing watches, was the inspiration for the wording of the index entry.

"Liber Custumarum"
The folio reference is to ordinances concerning aldermannic responsibility for investigating and judging infringements of the peace (with criticism of punishments that are too light to be a deterrent), but there is no mention of the watch.

"B 113"
1284. Renewal of murage for two years, on condition that the proceeds be used to work on the section of Thames-side wall near the Friars Preacher. In 1276, shortly after the Friars relocated close to the Thames, the king ordered the city authorities to allocate part of the murage proceeds to the wall there; the same stipulation applied when the murage was renewed in 1279 [See A 132] and into the early fourteenth century [See E 50] .

"C 94"
1308. The murage on bread, poultry, cheese and timber, and that collected at Stratford at Bow (a vill outside the city) was farmed out to two London poulterers for a year, for 4-weekly payments totalling £14.13s.4d. Various other collection points were also farmed out: those in the vicinity of Candlewick Street, eastwards to the Tower postern, to a citizen for a year for £10; those at Smithfield (with exclusions) to another for £8 for the year; those at four of the city gates and in several streets in the northern half of the city were farmed to a third(possibly one of the city sergeants) for £36.13s.4d for the year; yet other points, in the south-western sector of the city, on either side of Ludgate, stretching from Dowgate to the New Temple was let to an individual for £10.13s.4d.; that in the vicinity of West Cheap and Cornmarket (possibly restricted to the toll on grain) went for £16.13s.4d the year; finally, the murage collected in the Frippery (around Cornhill) was farmed to a fripperer (dealer in second-hand clothes and furnishings and in trifles) for a year for a modest 13s.4d.

"C 53"
Not found at this reference. But possibly an error for f. 93 (1308) where there is a list of the gates, and the number of armed men each ward was to raise to guard them. The number varied from 4 to 10 per ward; Aldgate and the Tower postern were assigned 24 guards, Bishopsgate 24 guards, Cripplegate 20, Aldersgate 20, Newgate 26, Ludgate 24, and the gate at the entrance to London Bridge was also to have 24 guards.

"D 142, 143"
1312. In January the king sent three messages to the Corporation to this effect. It was a time of disturbance at both national and local levels. [See discussion]

"D 147"
1311 (August). These provisions were made at a time when the Ordainers had the upper hand and were encamped at London with the intent of having Parliament approve their reforms. The provisions, however, largely restricted themselves to identifying how many men would guard each gate and the Thames bank, and which wards would raise those men; the only atypical arrangement was for a chain to be placed across the entrance to Baynardís Castle, to block access to it during the night. The castle, along with nearby Montfichet Castle (which together had once provided defence and access control on the west side of the city, as the Tower did in the east), had long since ceased to be in private hands, but the king did not wish them to come into the hands of city authorities; in 1275 he had the Friars Preacher relocate their house to the site where the castles had stood, they having been demolished or fallen into ruin. The friars undertook to maintain the adjacent stretch of city wall. By 1311, however, Baynard's had been rebuilt on a more modest scale, to the east of the friary, on the Thames bank.

"D 141"
Not found at this reference. But possibly an error for f. 150 (July 1312), where Edward advises of his intent to come to London.

"D 150"
1312 (June). Two weeks before the above item, Edward, then in the north of England, was in the process of reasserting himself against his enemies. In addition to ordering the mayor to turn over city government to the king, he instructed that all armour and war-horses that could be found should be seized, and held for his use.

"D 155"
1312 (October). Hereford was one of the leading Ordainers. The king allowed that Londoners could sell victuals and other necessaries to the earl's servants, but not arms or horses, nor might the earl be permitted to stay in the city.

"E 50"
1315. The grant itself had been made earlier that year, with the intent that the proceeds be applied to the wall around Newgate and to repairing Newgate prison. This purpose of the document indexed was to extend the term of that grant (one year) by a further year (but no longer), on condition the money be used to complete the stretch of wall between the Fleet river and the Friars Preacher, together with a new tower begun there, and that the citizens ceased collecting pontage on goods passing over or under London Bridge; a long list of the goods on which murage could be collected was appended. In March 1316 the king ordered that work on the tower be postponed, in favour of repairs to Newgate, and in May 1317 the murage was extended by two years so that work on the tower could resume.

"E 88"
1319. This year marked the end for a while of the murage grants to London. The reason given for the cancellation was that the citizens had complained that collecting the toll was discouraging merchants from coming to London. However, it was more likely associated with the political struggle within the city: a royal commission of investigation into city administration, following widespread public complaints, led to significant reforms to the city constitution, and gave the excuse for the eyre of 1321.

"E 127 and 128"
1321 (November-December) This exchange illustrates how London was prepared to defy even the king, in a diplomatic fashion, and to a point. Following his success at Leeds Castle, the king decided to move against the main Contrariant forces. Edward's letter ordering the arrest of Contrariants in London complains he had not yet received a response to instructions conveyed orally by the Earl of Pembroke; these apparently included a demand that London draw up a written guarantee, sealed with the Common Seal, committing them to hold the city for him (probably upon penalty of a large financial payment, should they default). The king also asked for the return of the sum of £20 12s. given by one of his sergeants to a London contingent sent to join the royal army at the successful siege of Leeds Castle (Kent). The mayor wrote back that they had searched for the Contrariants whom the king believed to be staying in London, and could not find them. Should they find them at any time in the future, they would deal with them as the king wished, but they would prefer to have a royal commission issued empowering the mayor to arrest any such enemies. As for the money given to the London soldiers, it had been understood that this was a reward from the king (perhaps to compensate the city for its expenses, but equally probably assumed to be wages payable by the king), but it would be returned if that was what the king wanted. Concerning the matter of a guarantee, the community would respond via an official letter. That official letter (i.e. one sealed with the Common Seal) stated that the undertaking to safeguard the city, previously given orally to the king in person, should suffice, and they asked to be excused having to provide a written one. The king's response was to issue the mandate requested empowering the mayor to punish anyone contravening arrangements made for the safekeeping of the city, to insist on the written guarantee, and to confirm his wish for repayment of the money; at the same time, he ordered the arrest of persons circulating documents slandering him. Mayor Chigwell replied by reiterating the opinion (attributed to the community), that the promise already made the king should be sufficient and no further security should be necessary. This sequence of communications was followed in December by another on the matter of how many soldiers London would send to Edward's aid [See discussion above]. The city resented that the king was expecting aid as a matter of right, rather than at the discretion of the city. The mayor's tone again seems measuredly defiant, although probably Chigwell was simply trying to protect London from royal anger, in a situation where the Londoners were themselves at odds with one another. Chigwell replied that he hoped the king would be satisfied with the number of men the city had decided, out of goodwill, to send; he asked for a written assurance that neither this support, nor that provided at Leeds Castle, be considered a precedent nor to the prejudice of the city liberties, adding a request that the king look favourably on an earlier request to restore those liberties (taken into the king's hand after the eyre). The king took a threatening tone in his response, and Chigwell decided it was safer to increase the contingent to 400, with a promise to try to raise it to 500, the city paying the costs of this contingent for 40 days of service. The mayor was not so cowed, however, as to omit to repeat the request for written assurance that this would be no precedent, and a reminder about restoring the city liberties. The king replied that an assurance would be issued, but left the issue of the liberties dangling.

"D 97"
1309 (November). The order was issued to the sheriffs, they being required to supervise the watches in person. The duty would normally have fallen to the aldermen, but this was a time of political factionalism in London, just before Refham and his reformers took power.

"D 98"
1309 (October). On this occasion the arrangements went no further than designating which wards would be responsible for guarding each gate and the Thames.

"D 165"
1314. The crossbowmen were to be sent to defend Berwick, this being a few months after the defeat at Bannockburn. The list of names divides them into five groups of 20 and one of 22, each unit under the command of a vintenar, with overall command of the contingent apparently given to an agent of the king. The occupations of a very few are given: dyer, baker, and skinner; if we may rely on surname evidence, the presence of two bowyers and an archer is interesting, but statistically not very significant. The equipment to be sent with them comprised 120 aketons, 120 bascinets (helmets) with collarettes (to protect the throat), 120 crossbows, 120 quivers and baldrics (straps for the quivers), and 4,000 quarrels. The city also provided wages to cover the march to Berwick (reckoned as 28 days), at 4d. a day per person, except for the vintenars, who received 6d. a day. The equipment was to be transported in casks and packs aboard three carts, each with two carters; it was thought they would need 18 days to reach Berwick. The total cost to the city, in wages of soldiers and carters, value of the armaments, provender and shoeing of four horses, was estimated at £167.18s.4d.

"E 129"
1321 (November). The item concerning the Earl of Lancaster, the leading Contrariant, found at that reference does not quite tally with the index description. the writ registered there prohibited anyone attending a meeting of the earl's supporters that was to take place at Doncaster. Although clearly a copy was sent to the London authorities, it is unlikely they would have sent representatives to such a meeting. The other documents indexed continued from what has been discussed above [E 127 and 128], with regard to the London contingent to join the king, and in relation to Edward reasserting himself by recalling the Despensers and seeking to lay hands on Badlesmere (lord of Leeds Castle). It is not evident why the compiler of the finding-aid thought these documents might need to be referenced in the future.

"E 132"
1321 (December). The writs were addressed to the sheriffs of London, and so applied to property within their jurisdiction.

"E 134"
1322. The sheriffs were ordered to proclaim a general muster, the Scots having invaded, although the Scottish threat had been used shortly before by Thomas of Lancaster to try to raise troops to oppose Edward II. It was probably in response to this call-up that London offered the king the choice of 500 soldiers whose expenses the city would cover for 40 days, or £1,333.6s.8d in cash or supplies. The king preferred the money, but asked for a 100-man bodyguard as well, to be provided at city expense.

"E 135"
1322. These writs ordered the arrest of Contrariants or their supporters found in London or Middlesex, authorizing the sheriffs to implement hue and cry, or to raise a posse, if necessary.

"E 200"
1330. The earl, the brother of the late Edward II, had been manoeuvred by Roger Mortimer into a misguided plot, so as to obtain his execution and strengthen Mortimer's hold over the young Edward III. The writ to London's sheriffs concerned a list of named supporters of the earl, some of them Londoners.

"F 76"
1344/ It is hard to see why the compiler thought this document should be included under the military category in the finding-aid. The matter of Papal interference in English affairs could, however, be considered a security issue, with the Avignon papacy allied with the French king.

"F 120"
1346. The writ asked that the good news to be proclaimed publicly, and ordered that the city prepare to send reinforcements.

"F 139"
1347. Possibly an error for a writ actually registered on f.137, being an order to the sheriffs to prohibit wool exports until Edward III had received the 20,000 sacks granted him by a Council towards the costs of continuing the war in France. f.139 contains a commission to collectors to raise part of that amount. It is curious that the compiler focuses on this aspect of London's obligations towards military support, but overlooks or ignores adjacent documents ordering men-at-arms, archers, supplies, and a fast ship with 80 armed men, to be sent to Edward III at Calais, in anticipation of an attempt by French forces to break the siege. Although town clerk John Carpenter likely oversaw the compilation of the finding-aid, much of the work must have been done by subordinate clerks, and inter-indexer inconsistency may have been the result. However, there do appear to be some sub-themes within the organization, which may explain some of the seeming anomalies.

"G 33"
1355. The writ required public proclamation to be made in London of a settlement following a notorious riot in Oxford over jurisdictional disputes. London was the "mother-town" (constitutional model) for Oxford, but that fact seems to have no part in the rationale for including this entry in the finding-aid. Perhaps it was because London was itself no stranger to disturbances, as the next item shows.

"G 38"
1355: Actually an assurance that a recent appointment of commissioners of enquiry into seditious and conspiratorial meetings in London would not be a precedent prejudicial to London's liberties.

"G 76"
1359. These two items are related. Whenever the Hundred Years War heated up, it was natural for any citizens of the enemy nation to be expelled; they were prohibited from taking with them any bows, arrows, horses or armour (since such would prove useful to English forces). At the same time, the king did not want Flemings conducting business in London to suffer because of the hostilities with France; Flemings were common targets of English xenophobia. The Londoners objected to them, as to other foreigners working in the city, because the king had encouraged them to establish themselves in London, yet did not require them to contribute to communal expenses such as the furnishing of military aid. At times of war, the hostility towards foreigners was only heightened.

"G 226"

"E 39"
1315. At this time a treaty had been signed between England and France, and the French king demanded the expulsion of the Flemings as part of the agreement.

"C 73"
1302. It was necessary to keep Londoners advised of the status of relations between England and France, as (for one thing) English merchants travelling overseas were subject to particular risks and dangers in times of hostility.

The letter of the book is not specified. However, Letter-book C ff..131 and 138 give the terms of the treaty signed in 1274. Flanders was an important trading partner with England, and so English-Flemish relations would have been a matter of concern to the Londoners.

"C 139"
1292. The letter confirmed that a treaty had been signed, and asked for the fact to be proclaimed.

"E 6"
1313. The instructions to the mayor and sheriffs were to detain ships and goods of Flemings, rather than the Flemings themselves.

"E 78"
1318. The writ specified that the soldiers should be equipped with aketons, helmets and gauntlets. Wishing to preserve its independence of decision in regard to military service, the Corporation decided it could send 200 men, financing it by having the wealthier citizens provided one foot-soldier each. The contingent was sent as two companies, each commanded by a centenar, each company divided into sections under vintenars. The two centenars were probably men with some military capability (relative to most Londoners): Roger atte Water was one of the city sergeants in 1311 and continued in later years undertaking enforcement work for the city; in 1321 he is described as a king's sergeant, when in some supervisory role related to the London forces sent to the Leeds Castle siege. Hanekyn le Heaumer's surname suggests he was an armourer. A list of the soldiers is recorded, but their daily occupations are not indicated.

"E 84"
1318. The letter provided by the king seems to have focused on the fact that the city had paid the costs of the soldiers, rather than that they furnished them at all. An earlier exchange of letters had the king thanking the city for the aid and commending the performance of the officers and men, while the city's response confirmed that the contingent had arrived back in London and had been paid by the king's clerk for the period of the return journey from York.

"F 161"
Undated, but Riley thought ca.1337. The same royal proclamation included other provisions for keeping the peace: curfew, prohibition of anyone trying to draw Londoners into any conspiracy, and encouragement of law-abiding Londoners be ready to assist city officials in arresting troublemakers, or, in absence of such officials, to make citizens' arrests themselves.

"D 142"
Deals with items already covered in the index. [see D 142, 143]

"H 63"
Undated, but according to Riley, precautionary measures prompted by French attacks on several south coastal towns (and their seizure of the Isle of Wight) and fears of a broader invasion, to take advantage of the death of Edward III. As in 1312, it was to be ensured that city gates had portcullises, chains and barbicans, and that quays between the Tower and London Bridge had battlements. Guards were to be posted at gates, and the keys to the gates were to be in the hands of two persons living close to each gate. The aldermen were to keep lists of hostelers in their wards, and to levy from them and their lodgers (excepting servants and apprentices) a contribution towards defensive costs. Aldermen were to have each resident swear to be ready to come equipped if summoned to maintain the peace, and they were to muster their wards. and be prepared to lead the ward contingent behind their pennants (bearing each alderman's arms) to wherever required for defending the city. Specific alderman were assigned particular sectors of the city to guard, four of them being required to assemble their forces in the city centre (at the Cheapside standard). The sheriffs were to have six mounted sergeants to act as messengers to the mayor. No-one was to carry any arms other than a baselard during the day, although knights could have their swords carried by servants. Pursuant to these decisions, orders were issued to the aldermen to provide, per ward, lists of hostelers and of the number of men who would be available armed by 24 June, along with those who could contribute a weekly payment towards defensive costs and/or contribute labour (one day every three weeks). A subsequent order was issued to array the ward militia and provide shields for those not able to afford other weapons (they were to serve by protecting other defenders from enemy missiles).

"G 253"
1370. These preparations were prompted by a report that ships holding armed men had been sighted close to the mouth of the Thames, and the fear that a raid on London was imminent. To protect the city and English ships anchored along the Thames banks, it was decided to have a nightly watch between the Tower and Billingsgate, comprising 40 men-at-arms and 60 archers; these men were to be supplied by different crafts, in rotation, each night.

"C 22"
1296. This had been a contentious issue in the city, which had already, the previous year, agreed to finance three ships for naval service [see C 20], and this at a time when the city liberties had been seized into the king's hand and a royal warden appointed to govern the city. In March the king ordered London to despatch a force of horsemen to help Prince Edward guard the south coast against French attack (the king being in the north fighting the Scots). Several citizens spoke out against providing this aid, but were persuaded (perhaps by threats, as the king apparently had to convey his wishes more forcefully through intermediaries) to withdraw their opposition and participate in person in the contingent. The objection raised may have had something to do with local concern that the city itself might be subject to attack. In its initial reply to the king's insistence, the citizen gave the excuse that it needed to have sufficient force to defend London, particularly since they distrusted what action might be taken by foreigners (presumably Frenchmen) then in the city. Nonetheless, they reported that they had raised forty horsemen, fifty crossbowmen and an unspecified number of foot-soldiers to accompany the Prince into Kent, and that they would try to send additional men. It was decided to send twenty more horsemen for four weeks, financed (the cost being estimated at £266.13s.4d) by levying a tax in the wards.

"E 250"
1336. The force being raised by the king was said to be for defensive purposes, and must have been intended to deploy against the Scots. Another writ, dated one day earlier, required London's sheriffs to proclaim an embargo on exports, and to divert provisions and arms to Berwick, Stirling, Perth, and elsewhere for the king's use. Unfortunately we do not know whether the city was able, and if so with what difficulty, to raise such a large force, or whether they felt that doing so left the city weakened in its defensive capabilities.

"F 17"
1338. The instructions were to muster the contingent chosen to accompany the king to France, and to send it to Ipswich with the week (the king then being at Bury St. Edmunds). The city authorities were dilatory, and Edward had to send a further message ordering them to hurry up and to make sure the men were suitable for soldiering.. 40 foot-soldiers and 60 archers were quickly identified and despatched, the authorities making the usual request that this not be considered a precedent. Each unit under a vintenar comprised a 7:12 mix of soldiers and archers. Two of the vintenars (one of whom doubled as the centenar) had been delegated by the mayor to make the selection of men for the company, and they received 40s. for performing this task. The costs of £137.11s.7d were assessed on the wards. Expenses included the purchase of red and green cloth for hooded uniforms, and of a standard, flag and trumpet, as well as transport for the weapons.

"F 22"
1338. A royal confirmation that the contingent recently sent to the king would not be treated as a precedent was followed in early 1339 by a demand the city send, to join up with the Cinque Ports fleet at Winchelsea, four ships with 300 armed men and four barges with 160 men, together with enough food for three months. The fleet was to defend the coast against French attack. The city authorities requested a reduction in the demand, and a compromise was reached at two ships for two months. The armed force sent in them comprised 160 men considered fully armed (aketon, breastplate, bascinet with visor, and plated gauntlets), while 60 others made do with aketon and bascinet; in addition there were 20 unarmoured grooms. Each was to receive 3d. a day as wages. The aldermen were ordered to impress the quota of men assigned each ward and to levy the corresponding costs.

"F 29"
1339: The request to mayor and sheriffs was for three or four ship-owners who could advise the Council on matters of naval defence, and was followed by orders to prepare all ships of 40 tons or more (the capacity of the hold in terms of tuns of wine) for crossing the Channel to serve the king.

"F 6 and F 7"
1337: The request in March was for foot-soldiers who would go via Bristol to Gascony to fight the French; they were to be at Portsmouth by 8 June. In April the deadline was extended by a week, and then extended again later in the month. Despite this, the new deadline was not met, the city authorities having raised some objections (presumably the usual ones), although they had already levied a tax to cover anticipated costs, and the delay may have been a pressure tactic, as the authorities were also trying to obtain a royal confirmation of city liberties. The king sent back a letter complaining of the delay and of the poor physique of the recruits (though it is not clear any had been selected, let alone inspected), with orders that 200 of the strongest and healthiest Londoners, capable of serving as archers, be sent by early July, but postponing indefinitely the provision of the remainder; furthermore, he sent a separate document assuring that this military aid would not be considered a precedent. Notwithstanding, yet another reminder from the king was needed in August before the archers were sent. As usual, the force was divided into units of 20 under vintenars and centenars; their names are all given, but once more only a few are identified by their occupation. One of the vintenars was an armourer, and the force included one physician, but we should not read anything into this, as it may simply have been the luck of the draw. The expenses of the expedition included flags, and the lances from which to fly them, for each of the vintenars, and cloth (red) for uniforms.

"F 37"
1340. The commissioners were to fit out for war any ships of 40 tons or more they could lay hands on. Two related messages were sent to the London authorities, one requiring them to prevent any ships leaving port there, and the other advising them that the king's messengers would convey further instructions regarding naval service, soldiers and supplies. As a result of which it was decided to provide 300 armed men at the king's expense; a committee was appointed to raise the force and arrange its transportation.

"F 60"
1342. Both writs issued the same day. The first required two of the city's best seamen to attend a Council discussion on naval defence. The second ordered the city authorities to supply the admiral of the western fleet with victuals and archers.

"F 119"
1346. The men in question, not only hoblers (lightly armed mounted men, used for reconnoitring, carrying messages, and pursuing fugitives) but archers, were not just Londoners. The purpose of the writ was to order the sheriffs to make public proclamation that anyone who had been recruited for the king's service should now set off for Portsmouth.

"F 127"

"F 132"
1347. The only item at this reference to approximate the index description was an order to send four citizens to a Council meeting to discuss the state of the navy.

"F 134"
Not found at this reference. But perhaps the items on f.133 (1347), the first for arresting ships in London's port, and the second ordering the city to prepare two large ships, each with 60 armed seamen and 20 archers, and send them to join a fleet at Sandwich; the costs of the ships were to be covered from proceeds from a subsidy on wool and other goods.

"F 139 to 141"
1347. The urgent requests were prompted by the approach of a French army, aiming at breaking the siege. The French, however, did not attack, but instead withdrew, and by the time the request for the ship (with 80 armed men) was made (August), Calais had already surrendered. The capture of Calais was one of the main accomplishments of this campaign. It had followed the victory at Crecy a year earlier, which is not noticed much in London records, although the city had contributed £2,000 towards the costs of the campaign, one-third gift and two-thirds loan. Crecy had depleted the royal army, as did desertion (prompted usually by a failure to pay wages), and so it was for the lengthy siege that the king needed to request additional forces and supplies, and the round-up and return of deserters. After Calais surrendered, Edward sent some of his forces home on leave, but recalled them upon intelligence that French forces were regrouping with the intent of retaking Calais; again, the attack never happened. A truce followed.

"F 157"
1348: As the truce was nearing its end, Edward called for volunteers to go to France, probably in anticipation that the French would try to retake Calais. Whether anything came of this we may doubt, since English society was soon after contending with the onset of plague.

"F 170, 176"
1350. Two items seem to be mixed up by the compiler. With the worst of the plague over, the king again called on London to send 100 soldiers to Sandwich, to accompany him to France. The second entry related to an enquiry (also 1350) about London's provision in 1328 of 120 men-at arms and 160 archers, for the Scottish war, and the question of who paid them; the city authorities replied that they had paid the wages of 100 of the men-at-arms.

"F 106"
(error for F 108) 1345. The Statute of Winchester had prescribed the age range for military service as between 15 and 60 (and 15 was the age of majority for participation in London wardmoots). The order was applicable to those of the status of esquire or higher, and essentially a call for volunteers to go to France.

"F 109"
1345. The city authorities were instructed to assist two of the king's sergeants, to whom naval affairs on the Thames had been committed, pending resolution of the dispute between the Admiral of the West and Admiral of the North as to which of them had command of naval forces raised at London or elsewhere on the river.

"F 110"
1345 (September. This was to urge haste in response to an earlier request (see F 101).

"F 115"
1346. The thrust of the first writ was to instruct the city authorities not to send to Portsmouth until a later date the soldiers previously requested – presumably via the writ recorded at F 110 (see above), a writ later in September 1345 having already once put a hold on the despatch of the troops, as the sailing date of the fleet had been put off. The second writ at F 115 increased the scope of the demand to all able-bodied males between the ages of 16 and 60.

"F 188"
(properly, 187) 1350. The enemy on this occasion was Spain, believed to be assembling a fleet off the Flanders coast for an attack on England. London was asked to contribute towards a naval defensive force two ships with soldiers and archers and with supplies and pay for at least a month. With the usual tax levied across the wards to pay the costs, ships belonging to Andrew Turk (a fishmonger, which suggests the type of vessel he owned) and Goscelin de Cleve were chosen to be sent; Turk's ship was to carry 40 armed men and 60 archers, while Cleve's 30 armed men and 40 archers, all the men chosen being identified by name and ward. Just before the ships set sail (15 August), their masters were given money to cover the wages of themselves, a constable (to command the troops), and a carpenter, and 56 bucklers. The force they joined later defeated the Spanish fleet, putting Edward III in a position to be able to negotiate a twenty-year truce with Spain.

"F 201"
1351. For foreign service.

"F 115"
A repeat of an entry already listed above.

"F 111"
1345. Deals with the hold put on despatching troops to Portsmouth, mentioned above. (See F 115)

"F 101"
1345 (June). For a contingent to accompany the Earl of Northampton (as the king's lieutenant in France) to Brittany.

"F 98"
1345. This was the commission to the king's sergeant, related to the dispute between the admirals. (See above F 109)

"F 99"
1345. The archers were to be sent to Sandwich. The first writ (20 March) called for 160, but a day later the command to the aldermen to assist in raising them specified 100. By the time of the final message (8 April), the demand had been lowered to 80. It was not until 23 April that the mayor issued orders to the aldermen to select an assigned quota of men from each of their wards and muster them on 9 May (the embarkation deadline specified by the king being 14 May. On 13 May (further writs having postponed the departure for Sandwich) the authorities appointed a committee to buy uniforms for the archers, which comprised surcoat, short cloak and hoods of red and white stripes. On 11 June the Common Sergeant of the city marched the contingent, divided into four sections headed by vintenars, out of London; upon arrival at Sandwich they were rewarded (or paid) by the division among them of £4 from the city coffers.

"F 100"
1345: A writ postponing the departure of the archers bound for Sandwich.

"F 102"
1345: The sheriffs were to proclaim that, the Earl of Derby being about to set out for Gascony, all soldiers and archers who were to accompany him should proceed to Southampton. Whether London was contributing men to this contingent is not clear. The Earl of Northampton's forces had already set out for Brittany.

"F 214"
1352. A royal writ having been received, calling for a general muster in expectation of a possible invasion by the French, orders were sent by the mayor to the aldermen to array the men of their wards.

"G 11"
1353: The sheriffs were to announce that all ships in the port of London that were intending to sail to Gascony were to trade for wine were first to go to Chalk (a Kentish port on the Thames) to assist with a convoy.

"G 38, 39"
1355. The force to assemble at Sandwich was bound for Calais; two writs requiring public announcement of the order to assemble were issued a few days apart. In relation to raising the costs of these archers, a Florentine merchant complained he had been compelled to contribute, when he should have been exempted (and could produce a royal writ to that effect). After an enquiry, the city authorities reported to the king that, since the merchant was a full-time resident of London, and conducted his business there, he should contribute along with other Londoners.

"G 40"
1356. On this occasion the justification for the muster was, rather than anticipation of an invasion, the notion that if the French knew southern England was not ready to defend, they would take advantage of the fact to attack.

"G 48"
1356. For an overseas campaign.

"G 75"

"G 224"
1369. The writ prohibited any harassment of French hostages then living in London. The proclamation was against arms and victuals being sold at excessive prices.

"G 228"
1369: This announcement was a recruitment incentive, Edward III being about to resume his attempt to conquer France.

"G 293"
1372. That is, deserters.

"G 297-299, 303 (properly, 304)"
1372. The barges were to be eighty feet long by twenty wide, and fully equipped to defend against French or Spanish navies; a deadline of 1 April 1373 was given. Nothing having been done by the city authorities after they received the first writ to this effect, sent on 3 November, the king sent another on 28 November. In the days or weeks that followed, they ordered several levies across the wards, the first for constructing a barge, a second for completing it and constructing a small boat to serve it, and the third for outfitting the barge and buying arms and uniforms for its crew. In August the two citizens to whom the management of the construction project had been delegated submitted their account to a committee of auditors. Construction costs totalled £261.3s.2¾d. (less £10.17s. worth of surplus lumber) There remained to be spent £8.10s. on 80 bows and 60 sheaves of arrows, while 10s. was still due to workmen. In February 1373 the king advanced to 1 March the date when the barges needed to be at Sandwich. He was still expecting two, and possibly the second was to have been built out of revenues from a special subsidy granted by parliament with the intent the income be spent on making the seas safe for merchant shipping. Whether the second was ever built is not clear. It was not until July that a formal document marked the handover of a fully equipped barge to the mariner who was to serve as its master and take it into royal service; the main purpose of this indenture was to list the rigging and equipment, for which the master would be accountable upon the barge's return. The barge was powered both by sail and oars. Atop the single mast was a fenced platform ('topcastle') on which defenders were stationed; the barge carried three such platforms, but whether the other two were held as replacements or were in use (perhaps lower down the mast, or placed at bow and stern as in a warship) is not specified. Our understanding of what medieval naval vessels looked like is still hazy; see the Portcities site for an illustration of a warship of about this period, which has many similarities to a barge. The barge's equipment included: a grapnel with a 96-foot chain and a windlass, (used for closing with an enemy ship, naval battles relying largely on hand-to-hand combat between their crews), a box in which 60 bows and 500 spare bowstrings were stored, 400 sheaves of arrows stored in a tun; 200 darts, 30 lances, and 4,000 crossbow quarrels; 80 shields, which would have been strung along the sides of the barge to protect its crew; an ensign (flown above the mast's topcastle), 3 standards, and 16 banners; and for boarding enemy ships there were a scaling-ladder and planks.

"G 306"
1373. Not mentioned in the list of equipment in the indenture between the mayor and the barge's master were anchors and their cables. The single-masted boat servicing the barge had an anchor, but of the barge's own nothing is said. The king complained that the barge could not be sent out to sea because of this deficiency and ordered London to correct it. At the same time the master offered to the mayor the explanation (or excuse) that the barge had lost its two anchors and cables (whether en route for Sandwich or on some previous voyage is unclear). The city chamberlain handed over money for the purchase of replacements.

"C 92"
1307. It is not evident how this item (stemming from a personal vendetta of Edward II against the bishop) fits with the theme of this section of the finding-aid.

"C 93"
1308. The proclamation urged the keeping of the peace during the coronation.

"F 81"
1344. For the war in France. Over six weeks later, the king had to send a reminder, instructing the city authorities to hurry up, as he was about to set sail.

"F 91"

"F 20"
Not found at this reference. This Letter-Book contained several instructions from the king (e.g. 1345) prohibiting offences against Spaniards, but perhaps what is intended is a document on f.203 (1351), requiring Spanish merchants to be treated favourably, consequent to the recent truce signed between England and Spain.

"F 109"
1345. To be sent to Portsmouth for embarkation; a separate writ of the same date called for an unspecified number of capable soldiers between 16 and 60. Once more, a follow-up notice was sent three weeks later, to hurry the process of raising the archers and soldiers.

"G 186"
1366. The instructions were to the aldermen concerning the city watch over Christmas, to be organized along customary lines, and for the watch after Epiphany, when the arrangements were for a different group of wards to take responsibility on a rota system (the cycle being repeated every four nights). The ward residents summoned to man the watch were to appear suitably armed; anyone failing in his duty was to be fined 12d. for each of the first two defaults, and for the third to pay the fine and suffer imprisonment.

"G 290"
1372. The king prohibited armourers, vintners and victuallers from capitalizing on the raising of an army (to assemble at Sandwich) by increasing the prices of their goods.

"H 39"
1376: The city authorities had seized various items of armour made by a Scot for the Earl of Dunbar and March; the king ordered them to surrender the items.

"H 63"
A repeat entry.

"H 54"
ca. 1376.

"H 68"
1377. The instructions were sent to the masters of the armourers' craft gild, to pass along.

"H 73"
1377. On a six-day rotation system, a force of 100 armed men provided daily by four of the wards, with their aldermen in charge, was to guard the Thames from midday to midday, to protect shipping there.

"H 101"
1378. The orders (without specifics) for keeping a proper watch applied to Christmas-time, not wartime as the index entry suggests. The payment to the earl (Thomas of Woodstock) was an out-of-court settlement to placate and compensate him for an alleged assault on his servants by a group of Londoners, who pursued the servants to the hostelry where the earl was himself staying, and used axes to break down its door. This entry was perhaps included in this section of the finding-aid insofar as the affair was a serious breach of the peace, leading to. the earl complaining to parliament that mayor Brembre, through negligence, had failed to counter the assault. However, the affair had wider significance to Londoners, being part of a broader assault by John of Gaunt on London's liberties; Gaunt and Woodstock, along with others of the nobility, resented the involvement of various London capitalists in the financial administration of the war with France. Brembre defended himself but, the earl remaining dissatisfied, felt it politic to appease him with the monetary compensation, which the Corporation tried to recoup from the guilty Londoners. The earl nonetheless harboured a grudge, and he played a role in Brembre's downfall ten years later.

"H 111"
ca. 1379. This concerned the watch on the night before the festival of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (24 June), the time of Midsummer Eve communal celebrations in the streets, involving bonfires, torchlight parades, and entertainments. The occasion must have been viewed by city authorities as a potential risk to public order and property (it being a dry season, there was increased risk of fires); hence the need for the streets to be patrolled. Traditionally, this was the time of year when one of the three major communal gatherings, or folkmoots, was called; the particular task of the Midsummer meeting was to make arrangements for the city watch to keep an eye out for fires; By the Late Middle Ages, the responsibility had devolved to the aldermen's wardmoots. The aldermen were instructed to gather a sufficient number of men from their wards – armed with bascinets, gauntlets, and axes (to demolish burning structures?), and in red-and-white uniforms (over their armour). These were to assemble at Smithfield at nine o'clock on the evening, bearing three or four iron cressets (metal fire-containers fixed atop, or suspended from, poles), lit. Led by mayor and aldermen (wearing the same colours), these watchmen would proceed on their patrol, for the honour of the city and the king. In 1378 a similar order had been issued in regard both to Midsummer Eve and the eve of the feast of SS. Peter and Paul (when midsummer celebrations were repeated) a few days later; the reason given included reference to keeping the peace and to protecting the honour of the city (which might be damaged by unruly public behaviour). The parade was divided into groups of wards, with the aldermen leading each group, and the poles supporting the cressets differently decorated for each group of wards. This was the earliest known reference to the Midsummer Watch that may have begun as early as the thirteenth century, in the form of an armed muster of the populace who then marched through the city, and was to develop into an elaborate tradition at London and several other towns (e.g. Chester) by the close of the Middle Ages, although it was abandoned or suppressed in most places during the Tudor period. The next references in London records to night-watch were in June 1386, a period of political discontent in London. The first, on 2 June, mentioned taking the usual steps to prevent fires. The second, probably a week or so later, concerned itself specifically with the two festival eves and designated St. Paul's churchyard as the assembly point; the aldermen were to wear red, and their contingents (whom they were to choose from their households or other good people of the wards) white with a red stripe. It was intimated that the purpose of the march was to display the citizens' military might and/or solidarity to outsiders, particularly those from countries at war with England. But it was probably as much with a view to avoiding a large ;unsupervised, armed public assembly turning, or being turned, to violent expression of political dissatisfaction or demand for reform, that the Corporation brought it under control by having the aldermen take the lead and substituting for torches the somewhat safer cressets. The conversion, or subversion, into civic pageantry continued in later years, with the city gilds brought into the ritual.

"H 137"
1381 (November). Each alderman was instructed which gate he would help to guard and how many armed men he should recruit. Ludgate, Newgate, Aldersgate, Cripplegate, Bishopsgate, and Aldgate each had 50 guards assigned to them, while the postern gate by the Tower was felt to need only two guards (compare to the quotas in 1308 [see C 53]). Three of the aldermen were assigned to guarding London Bridge, with a total of 50 men. This was a daytime guard, in effect from 6 o'clock in the morning to 6 o'clock in the evening, after which time the alderman of the ward in which the gate was situated, who had possession of the keys to the gate, was to lock it, and place the keys in safekeeping. At 8 o'clock the usual night-watch was to be set. The alderman of Candlewick Street ward was given the special task of mustering armed men to keep guard at times when the mayor and sheriffs passed through the city streets. The reason for these special arrangements was that a parliament about to be convened at Westminster, and the Peasants' Revolt was still very fresh in everyone's minds. The arrangements were to remain in place while parliament was in session. They were made in anticipation of a royal command (which arrived a day or two later) to take steps to ensure the peace was preserved during the session. Parliamentary sessions typically saw an influx of outsiders into the city (some bringing with them enmities and grudges), and this now posed a particular threat at a time when the country was so disturbed. The concerns were also addressed by proclamations that those in temporary lodgings should not leave them between 6 in the evening and 6 in the morning, nor at any time go about armed or armoured in the city, unless in the king's service, upon pain of imprisonment and forfeiture of any arms or armour borne. Hostelers were to inform their guests of these requirements and would be held accountable for the behaviour of their lodgers. Other orders at this time were directed at preventing price-gouging by those selling alcohol or feed for travellers' horses. The level of nervousness is reflected in the quick trial of a Sussex man arrested in London for spreading rumours. His story was that a killing had taken place in Wood Street and the killer, who had taken sanctuary in a church, had been rescued by others and made an escape from London after his friends skirmished with the guards at Cripplegate, who thereby failed in their duty. Whether the story was true or just an attempt to stir up trouble, we cannot know; but certainly it was in the interest of the city authorities to suppress it, and the rumour-monger was condemned to the pillory for an hour, to show publicly he was a liar, and thereafter sequestered in Newgate prison indefinitely.

D 97"
A repeat entry.

"D 98"
A repeat entry.

"more costly"
In 1322 a jury of seven London armourers, examining transactions by two royal commissioners charged with raising and equipping 500 foot-soldiers, identified a range of prices for armour sold to the commissioners. One member of the jury had sold sets comprising aketon, bascinet and gauntlets for 16s. a set, while another member (described as a merchant, perhaps meaning that he was a middleman rather than a maker) sold bascinets for 3s.6d each but had apparently given a discount for a volume purchase, and a third member of the jury reported selling gauntlets at 12d. a pair. Two other members had sold aketon-bascinet combinations, one of them for 15s. each, the other for 12s. The introduction of plate armour can only have pushed prices up. The king was a major buyer and it was in his interest, and the interest of others whose service he was seeking (particularly when expeditions were being assembled), to order periodically for proclamation be made that armourers, bowyers, fletchers and other makers of weapons should sell at un-inflated prices and should not demand excessive additional amounts under the rubric of labour costs. Other ways of making larger profit from armour are suggested in reforms of the armourers' trade enacted in 1322 (a few months earlier than the enquiry mentioned above). One was to use old or lower-quality cloths to pad quilted body-armour; another, to refurbish battered second-hand helmets in such a way as to disguise their defects, and then take them off o sell in the countryside, where there were none of the quality-control inspectors such as were found in London. In the fifteenth century armour and weapons were fairly common items mentioned in wills of wealthier townsmen, but their bequest to heirs does not mean they were for any more than show.

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Created: December 31, 2007. Last update: August 9, 2014 © Stephen Alsford, 2007-2014