Everyday People, Jobs and Things
Richard de Windsor
In 1296, a royal watchman named Richard de Windsor saved the life of the future Edward II from being burned to death in his bed in Windsor Castle. The fire destroyed the great hall in the lower ward. Prince Edward later rewarded de Windsor and other night watchmen with 10 shillings each.
Jobs in the Town or Village
All medieval towns had officers who were charged with keeping order in what was then a very rural environment. For example, there were the pinders whose job it was to round up and impound any stray household pigs, sheep, cattle and fowl; pound-keepers who looked after animals on market days; the hayward, who looked after the fences and enclosures and also similarly, the hedge-looker who also looked after the hedges and enclosures; pasture masters and grassmen who looked after the common land and grazing; mole-catchers, brookwardens and woodwards.
To be a royal watchman was a very important duty. It was his responsibility to call the night watch, to call the hour every four hours during winter nights, and every three hours during the summer nights. He also was required to patrol the corridors of the palace, making sure that everything was as it should be and that there were no thieves at large. He also kept watch for any signs of fire.
Especially Those Who Lived in Kent...
Europeans loved to mock the English in the middle ages (and we gave as good as we got). For instance, it was said that the English (and especially those who lived in Kent), were possessed of long tails. For some reason, this was regarded as quite an insult and arose from an old story that the men of Kent were cursed with such appendages after they docked the tail of St. Augustinian’s horse!
One of the most popular entertainers at court between 1296 and 1311 was a female saltatrix (acrobatic dancer) named Matilda Makejoy! It is thought that she would have performed her moves in a short tunic rather than the usual long dress. She first appears in the records in 1296, performing for Prince Edward (later Edward II) who was aged 13.
The State of the Roads!
A recurring problem that plagued the travellers between London and Westminster was the state of the road called The Strand. This piece comes, once again, from the The History of the Ancient Palace and Late Houses of Parliament at Westminster: "In the same year , on the 14th of May, a writ was addressed to William de Leyre and Richard Abbot, stating that the pavement between Temple Bar and the gate of the king's palace at Westminster, was so broken and injured, that it was a great nuisance to those frequenting the court, and very perilous both for horsemen and foot passengers; and that a petition had been preferred to the king and council, praying them to provide a remedy for the same. The said William and Richard were, consequently, commanded to cause the said pavement to be repaired, and to distrain for the expense 'pro rata,' upon all persons having houses adjacent to it, between the said Bar and the Palace."