Would a Medieval Prince Have Had an ‘Office’?

A reader asked me this the other day, and I thought it worth a post because we think of ‘offices’ as being a modern invention, with computers and fax machines and secretaries. And yet, a medieval prince or king–any ruler, from a sheriff to a thane for that matter–must have had a place for conducting business.  Where were papers kept? Where did he upbraid his inferiors for shoddy work? England in particular has been known for its government system of record keeping back to the Middle Ages. Where did the king keep all that? I chose to use the word ‘office’  because it does, in fact, have ancient roots in the English language and because even if a Welsh prince wouldn’t have used the word ‘office’ (which he actually might have, see below), he still would have needed its function. Read more…

Medieval Moneylending

Edward Longshankes (Edward I) got himself in debt to various moneylenders in order to fund his wars.  During his reign, he fought with his father in the Baron’s War against Simon de Montfort, against Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the Prince of Wales, against the French, and against the Scots.  All of these wars cost money. A king had a couple of options when on a quest for funds.  One, he can tax his people.  Edward certainly did that.  Two, he can confiscate funds from those over whom he wields power.  I blogged earlier about what he did to Jewish coinsmiths in 1278 (http://www.sarahwoodbury.com/?p=179).  Henry VIII had the great plan of starting his own religion and confiscating the wealth of the Catholic Church.  That was a little more radical than Edward, who often relied on the third method, money lending. In the Read more…

The Wild Boar in Britain

Four hundred years ago, wild boar officially became extinct in Britain.  A wild boar is a creature that weighed upwards of two hundred pounds. “The wild boar is a member of the pig family, Suidae, and is an even-toed ungulate or artiodactyl. It is a large mammal, with an adult male weighing up to 200 kg., or occasionally more, and with a head and body length of up to 2 metres. The tail, which is usually straight, is about 25 cm. long. Female boars are about two thirds of the size of the males, although both stand about one metre in height. A prominent feature of the wild boar is its coat of short, thick bristly hair, which can vary in colour from brown and black to grey. In western Europe, boar generally have brown coats, while in eastern Europe Read more…