TKJ – A Medieval cartoon – Can you decode its secrets?

WHERE IT SAYS ‘COMMENTS’ ABOVE – CLICK TO LEAVE A COMMENT, PLEASE.

This series of ‘blogs’ sets out to give you an insight into the building blocks that make up “The King’s Jew” – if you have any questions concerning any of these points just get in touch and I’ll be happy to share what knowledge I have garnered. Thanks.

The winner of last week’s FREE COPY is ……. Bev Newman – Congratulations, Bev.

YOU TOO can win a copy – just see offer at the end.

 

CHAPTER FIVE – Here we find the knight Gilles de Burgh at the house of the Jewish moneylender, Joseph ben Simon ben Moshe in London in 1238. Gilles wants to extend his credit but something totally unexpected is revealed (you’ll have to buy the book!).

But how did the Christian people of England see the Jews? All is revealed in this very telling cartoon from 1233.

 

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Click to enlarge this medieval ‘cartoon’.

 

Tax records can tell us a great deal about life in the middle Ages. They don’t usually come with pictures, but this one does.

It is a cartoon from 1233 during the reign of King Henry III. It’s a detailed, complex cartoon and it is a bit of a mystery.

It was found on an Exchequer Roll, a government document recording various payments that is stored rolled up. This roll listed tax payments made by Jewish people in the city of Norwich in Norfolk.

Look at the cartoon above and see if you can find:

A castle – Pitchforks – A set of scales AND

A woman – A crown –Devils.

 

Background – Persecution of the Jews

The terrible treatment of Jews by the Nazi Government in the 1930s and 1940s was not a new event. Though nothing had ever been seen on the scale of the appalling ‘Final Solution’ begun in 1942 in which 6 million were murdered, Jews have been the victims of mistreatment since Roman times, as their different religion and their success in business attracted hatred and jealousy.

Laws were sometimes passed against them, such as the 1215 ruling by the Catholic Church that Jewish men had to wear spiked hats to identify them. At other times they have been made to wear stars on their clothing or change their names.

 

At the time this roll was written Jews in England were subjected to heavy taxes, had property stolen or confiscated and were sometimes attacked. The most serious attack on a Jewish community was the York Massacre in 1190 in which hundreds of Jews were killed as they took refuge in Clifford’s Tower, one of the city’s castles. The 12th century historian William of Newburgh accused the townspeople of an attempt at ‘sweeping away the whole race in their city’.

 

nch Markets

Medieval Norwich.

 

Medieval Norwich

In the 13th century, Norwich was one of the largest and most important towns in England. One of its richest and most powerful residents was Isaac fil Jurnet, a Jewish money lender who owned a large amount of property in the city and was a banker to the king. To some jealous citizens Isaac seemed like a king himself.

Isaac employed other Jews to collect the money that borrowers in the city owed to him. The most well-known (and most disliked) were Mosse Mokke and his wife Abigail.

The cartoon above is an example of the feelings many people had towards Jews in medieval England. It is about real people and their situation within 13th century society.

 

Let’s look at the image in more detail – below is the left section.

 

Image 2

Look at all my money!

 

You’ll see a man is holding a set of scales containing money.

This man is not a Jew. He is a poor Christian monk, his scales full of coin that Isaac is trying to wrest from him using one of the many devils at his command – that’s a devil behind him, the figure with the forked tongue!

Isaac had sued the Westminster monks to get the interest from money they had borrowed after they refused to pay it.

 

Now look at the centre images of the cartoon – below

 

Image 4

‘Three-headed Isaac.

 

That three-headed monster above with the crown towering over the centre of the drawing is Isaac fil Jurnet, the wealthy Jewish moneylender from Norwich who was banker to King Henry III, the Abbot and monks of Westminster, the Bishop of Norwich and many others.

 

 

Image 3

Mosse and his wife Abigail.

 

The man and woman facing each other above with Satan between them are Mosse Mokke and his wife Abigail both of whom were employed as debt collectors by Isaac.

Mosse wears the pointed hat that all Jews were ordered to wear AND the demon is pointing to their noses!

 

Now look at the right-hand side of the cartoon. –below.

Image 5

What do you think these characters are supposed to be? Well you’re right. These are even more devils come to assist the moneylender. They carry pitchforks and reaping tools in order to gather in the ‘harvest’ of money and debt.

 

Such was the febrile nature of English Christianity in those days and it saddens me to think that such attitudes eventually culminated in the ‘Holocaust’ of World War Two.

 

In 1290 when the Jews of England were expelled a learned Jew in Norwich, Meir ben Eliahu wrote a collection of poems imbued with a mixture of fear, anger and sorrow – in short a concoction of all sorts of those emotions, which the Jewish community in England must have lived through, when they finally lost their livelihoods and homes after more than 200 years of anti-Semitic persecution.

“Forced away from where we dwelt

We go like cattle to the slaughter.

A slayer stands above us all.

We burn and die.”

How prophetic was that?

 

JUST LEAVE A COMMENT OR ‘SIGN UP’ FOR YOUR PRIZE and next week we’ll have a sneaky peek at some more background from TKJ = “The King’s Jew. Book One. At the tomb of King Edward the First…”

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TKJ – What the Medieval Butler saw!

WHERE IT SAYS ‘COMMENTS’ ABOVE – CLICK TO LEAVE A COMMENT, PLEASE.

When researching in order to write a 1,200-page trilogy there is so much background that never sees the light of day (or pages) of the finished books (though such close detail is naturally included to build and enhance the story). This series of ‘blogs’ sets out to give you an insight into building blocks that make up “The King’s Jew” – if you have any questions concerning any of these points just get in touch and I’ll be happy to share what knowledge I have garnered. Thanks

LAST WEEK’S WINNERS of the book were WYNEMA WALKER – LINDA ROOT and RICHARD BRADBURN.

THERE’S ANOTHER FREE OFFER AT THE END. FREE?  YES, FREE!

 

In Chapter Four we meet Merek a young madman who has one wish to fulfil – he wants to kill King Henry the Third.

It is a documented fact that an assassin did make an attempt on Henry’s life.

In order to gain access to the Palace of Westminster – where Henry was staying – Merek devised what he thought was a fool-proof stratagem. He would gain the confidence of the workers in the Great Kitchens and then wheedle his way into the residential quarters of the palace.

But what were the medieval kitchens really like and what type of persons worked within those fiery furnaces?

 

Dover Castle 12th century

Dover Castle – Twelfth century.

 

Ancient fire pits were positioned in the middle of the room. A central fireplace can allow the maximum number of people to warm up around it and radiate heat into the maximum useable area. A hole in the ceiling would provide a draft through which the smoke could escape.

This design lasted for thousands of years. It wasn’t until two-story buildings became common that the next design innovation took place. The fireplace was moved to the outside wall. People didn’t want to build a fire in the middle of a wood floor on the second story. So it was easier to set the fireplace and chimney structure off to the side. These early designs vented horizontally.

Constables House and Norman Chimney - Christchurch. Dorset

Christchurch, Dorset. 12th-century chimney.

That’s when the chimney was discovered. By venting the fireplace up through the roof, a draft was created, drawing the smoke away. The chimney is probably the most important and enduring innovation in fireplace technology

Eventually, separate kitchens evolved in a dedicated kitchen area, often separated from the main building by a covered arcade/walkway. This way, the smoke, odours and noise of the kitchen could be kept out of sight of guests, and the fire risk to the main building reduced.

 

Skipton Castle Kitchen

Representation of Skipton castle. Yorkshire.

 

Spits roasting meat and huge iron cauldrons bubbling with soups and stews were all part of the kitchen’s daily routine.

Lambs, cattle, pigs, and fowl were tethered or penned nearby. Indeed, barrels of live fish and crabs ETC were kept within easy reach. Many castles kept a pond stocked with fish, and cooking herbs would be grown in nearby gardens. Castle kitchens could be large enough to roast up to three whole oxen at once! Don’t try this in your modern kitchen!

 

Water would be normally be supplied by a well, but castles during the later Middle Ages began to pipe water right into the kitchen area. Utensils and whatever dishes the lord might possess would be washed in large stone sinks often using grass or straw as a scouring medium. Often sand would be used to properly clean metal cauldrons.

 

Well at Dover Castle

Dover castle well.

 

Breakfast in the Middle Ages was usually a simple meal of bread and wine / water. Dinner would be served between 10 a.m. and noon and feature several courses. Dinner, especially for celebratory feasts, would demand large quantities of food be prepared. At the marriage of Henry III’s daughter, sixty cattle were slaughtered and prepared as the main course for the meal!

Kitchens, Pantries, Larders and Butteries

There were also assorted knives, stirring spoons, ladles and graters. In wealthy households one of the most common tools was the mortar and sieve cloth since many medieval recipes called for food to be finely chopped, mashed, strained and seasoned either before or after cooking. This was based on a belief among physicians that the finer the consistency of food, the more effectively the body would absorb the nourishment.

It also gave skilled cooks the opportunity to elaborately shape the results. Fine-textured food was also associated with wealth; for example, finely milled flour was expensive, while the bread of commoners was typically brown and coarse. A typical procedure was farcing (from the Latin farcio, “to cram”), to skin and dress an animal, grind up the meat and mix it with spices and other ingredients and then return it into its own skin, or mould it into the shape of a completely different animal.

 

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Plan of Westminster Palace.

 

Major kitchens – like those of thirteenth century Westminster Palace – had to cope with the logistics of daily providing at least two meals for several hundred people. Guidelines on how to prepare for a two-day banquet include a recommendation that the chief cook should have at hand hundreds of cartloads of “good, dry firewood”.

Besides washing up – using grass, straw and sand – the other job of highest importance and continual nature was tending the fire; watching the pots and spits, banking the embers to keep them going all night, lighting dead fires with brands or coals from living ones, and hauling coals and wood. This was when the SOUFFLEURS  – from the French meaning ‘to blow’ – came into their own as these guys looked after the fires and either made them burst into roaring flames or kept them low so as to simmer food.

The kitchen staff of huge noble or royal courts like Westminster Palace occasionally numbered in the hundreds, including:

Pantlers – (a servant or officer in charge of the bread and the pantry in a great family) who oversaw the storage and preparation of bread in the pantry.

Bakers – making pastry and the many and varied loafs of bread.

Waferers – who specialised in making crisp, often sweet, very thin, flat, and dry biscuits;

Sauciers – specialising in producing all manner of sauces.

Larderer – responsible for the storage of meat and fish.

Butchers – who slaughtered the animals, dressed the flesh and prepared the standard cuts of meat, poultry, fish, and shellfish.

luttrell-psalter-kitchen 1320

I wouldn’t like to argue with this guy!

Carvers – skilled at disjointing the meat and slicing it uniformly to obtain a maximum or satisfactory number of portions.

Page boys – young male servants;

Milkmaids – employed to milk dairy cows and prepare dairy products such as cream, butter, and cheese.

Butlers – a middle-ranking member of the servants of a great house, in charge of the buttery (originally a storeroom for “butts“, that is casks, of wine and ale).

AND many scullions who performed the most physical and demanding tasks in the kitchen, such as cleaning and scouring the floor, pots and dishes and assisting in the cleaning of vegetables, plucking fowl, and scaling fish. Hence the name SCULLERY – the place where this all took place.

 

Wenceslas_Hollar_-_A_pack_of_knaves_-_A_Mere_Scullion

The scullion.

 

Off the kitchen was the Pantry

 

Dover Castle - Henry the Second

Dover castle.

 

A pantry is a room where food, provisions or dishes are stored and served in an ancillary capacity to the kitchen. The derivation of the word is from the same source as the Old French term paneterie; that is from pain, the French form of the Latin pan for bread.

The head of the office responsible for this room was referred to as a pantler. .

 

The Larder

A larder is a cool area for storing food prior to use. Essential qualities of a larder are that it should be as cool as possible, close to food preparation areas, constructed so as to exclude flies and vermin, easy to keep clean and equipped with shelves and cupboards appropriate to the food being stored.

 

scullery

Dover castle.

 

In the northern hemisphere, most houses would arrange to have their larder and kitchen on the north or east side of the house where it received least sun.

A pantry may contain a stone slab or shelf used to keep food cool. In the late medieval hall, a thrawl (cold shelf) would have been appropriate to a larder. In a large manor all these rooms would have been placed as low in the building as possible, or as convenient, in order to use the mass of the ground to retain a low summer temperature. For this reason, a buttery was usually called the cellar by this stage.

Pay attention you readers of Scottish descent – The Scots term for larder was the spence, and so in Scotland larderers (also pantlers and cellarers) were known as spencers. This is one of the Anglo-Scottish derivations of the modern surname. Introduced by the Norman French after the Invasion of England in 1066, it was a metonymic occupational surname for someone who was originally in charge of the pantry of a great house or monastery. The term derives from the pre 10th century Old French word “despense”, from the Latin “dispendere”, meaning to weigh out or dispense. Any Spencers out there?

Buttery

A buttery was a domestic room in a castle or large medieval house. It was one of the offices pertaining to the kitchen. It was generally a room close to the Great Hall and was traditionally the place from which the yeoman of the buttery (The Butler) served beer and candles to those lower members of the household not entitled to drink wine. The room takes its name from the beer butts (barrels) stored there.

Did Merek succeed in his deadly task? Well, you’ll have to read what happened to him but below is how he managed to gain entrance to the King’s chamber –

Extract from chapter four“Welcome, Merek,” said the leader of this group, “a busy night ahead of us. The King and his young Queen are in residence and we are short of one of our number as that scullion, John, has once more absented himself from our company.” Merek saw his chance. 

“Master Thomas,” he said with due deference, “if it please you, for a hearty meal and a mug of small beer, let me help this night for I have no more work at the Tower until the morrow.” He held his breath, amazed at his own audacity since he knew nothing of the real duties of these men yet it couldn’t be that difficult to carry a platter up a flight of stairs could it?

The man, Thomas, looked him over before he spoke quietly to the fellow next to him. The man disappeared for a brief moment returning with the colours of their calling. “Off with your cowl, Merek,” said Thomas, “and pull this on.”  He slipped the tabard over his head and, now officially a worker in the palace he smiled an inward smile unseen by any other and mentally danced a jig on the spot. Thomas watched him, and saw nothing but an additional serving man sent by the saints to make his night’s work easier. Merek revelled in the veil of innocence that covered his face and stood there quietly ready to do his duty. Kill the King.’

 

Thus ends our look behind the scenes of Chapter Four.

 

BUT SCROLL DOWN FOR YOUR PRIZE and next week we’ll have a sneaky peek at some more background from TKJ = “The King’s Jew. Book One. At the tomb of King Edward the First…”

 

 

And it is available at the following outlets:

 

Amazon = http://amzn.to/1WTrZMv

Kobo = http://bit.ly/1NEdzzd

Google Play = http://bit.ly/1MIR0nQ

Apple iTunes = http://apple.co/1WO8470

Barnes & Noble – Nook = http://bit.ly/1PDDPtD

 

 

 

Now then – as you’ve read this far I believe you need a reward.

 

Sign up or Leave a comment and I’ll pick TWO names at random from my black fedora and send the lucky winners a FREE copy of the latest eBook incarnation of “The King’s Jew. Book One.”

 

Thank you, dear reader. Any questions – just SHOUT!

 

 

 

 

TKJ -From Peasant to Knight?

When researching in order to write a 1,200-page trilogy there is so much background that never sees the light of day (or pages) of the finished books (though such close detail is naturally included to build and enhance the story). This series of ‘blogs’ sets out to give you an insight into building blocks that make up “The King’s Jew” – if you have any questions concerning any of these points just get in touch and I’ll be happy to share what knowledge I have garnered. Thanks

THE DRAW FOR YOUR FREE GIFT IS AT NOON GMT WEDNESDAY

THERE’S A FREE OFFER AT THE END. FREE? YES, FREE!

 

crusaders

Crusader knight

 

In Chapter Three

We meet sixteen-year-old Mathew. I suppose we could describe Mathew as a trainee thug in the service of Gilles de Burgh a knight in the service of King Henry III.

Mathew is assisting Robert, one of de Burgh’s men-at-arms, in terrorising a London peasant – the two are trying to retrieve a pig that they inadvertently lost (yes, a pig! – but not just any old pig – their master’s pig!).

But this begs the question of how Mathew came to be in the service of a titled knight? AND how did one become a knight in thirteenth century England?

Medieval Soldiers and Feudalism

During the Middle Ages a knight was originally a person of noble birth trained in weapons, horsemanship and chivalry. This ‘training’ began when the boy was maybe six-years-old.

 

kids3

Training started at an early age.

 

A Knight’s tools of the trade were expensive. Chainmail had to be tailor-made to fit or the wearer ran the risk of an ill-fitting suit hampering him in battle. In the early Middle Ages, a horse played an extremely important part in the life of a knight. A knight would own several horses which were built for different duties. The Courser was the most sought after and expensive warhorse, but the more common warhorse was the Destrier. The wealthy noblemen who became mounted knights were worth the equivalent of many foot soldiers. A successful soldier could become wealthy and knighthood conferred regardless of his background. Even if he started life as a peasant – like Mathew.

 

medieval-peasants-clothing-labeled

Sartorial elegance eh?

 

 

Although it isn’t mentioned in too much detail, Mathew arrived at the Manor of Longhurst aged six as an orphan. At first he slept with the animals and eked out a living as best he could. Then he began stealing food and was eventually caught and taken to Gilles de Burgh to be punished. Mathew put up such a fight that de Burgh was impressed and took him into his household as a dog boy.

 

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The lord’s dog was more important than a peasant.

 

 

Being around soldiers and fighters seemed second nature to Mathew and soon he was accepted by de Burghs men and almost ‘adopted’ by them. As he grew in stature and guile he just ‘drifted’ into the life of a soldier.

Was this a glamorous life?

To a peasant who worked from dawn till dusk, it seemed a life of great delights. Yet these common soldiers earned hardly a penny-piece in what we would consider wages (on an ‘official’ campaign when they followed their lord into battle at the behest of the king they would be paid 8d a day – if they were lucky). Their main reward came in the free supply of chainmail and weapons, good horses, regular food, a place to sleep and that’s about all – except for the odd chance of booty and possessions after a fight /battle.

A man-at-arms like Mathew would never be able to afford a horse (£10 to £90) himself so this jobbing soldier – armed and dangerous – had a much better life than the peasants. And all for free! Except when he lost his life in service!

 

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Death and destruction – the soldier’s lot.

 

Feudalism was based on the exchange of land for military service. A portion of land (called a fief) would be granted by the King to a successful soldier who had performed well during battle. This reward would be granted in exchange for his services. The fief, or land, was granted to create a lasting bond between a vassal and his lord. The knight would swear allegiance to his lord – the Knights Oath of Fealty. Fealty and homage were key elements of feudalism.

The Feudal Levy – A knight who had been rewarded with land pledged his military services.  This was called the Feudal Levy. When wars broke out soldiers and knights were raised by the Feudal Levy when there was a ‘Call to Arms’. Under the Feudal Levy soldiers and knights were required to fight for a limited period of 40 days – under certain circumstances this could be increased to 90 days. Medieval nobles, lords and knights of the Middle Ages were expected to provide trained soldiers to fight for the King and to provide clothes and weapons for the soldiers. The limited time requirement of the Feudal Levy was designed to ensure that the land would not suffer from neglect.

 

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War over – time for the harvest.

 

The Feudal Pyramid

The King owned the land and granted land to important barons – who pledged their loyalty by swearing to serve and protect the king.

The king also granted land to the less powerful military men (the knights) who were called vassals.

The knights (or vassals) also agreed to fight for the king in exchange for their land.

The land was worked by the peasants or serfs who were bound to the land.

 

The Three Main Medieval categories

Were – The knight, The Priest, The Peasant – as shown below;

photo

 

Climbing the Pyramid – The Feudal Pyramid of Power made it possible for everyone to move higher up the ranks and this is what many aspired to. Medieval Squires and Pages of the Middle Ages wanted to become knights. A Knight who proved valiant in battle could become wealthy. The most wealthy and powerful knights then joined the nobility.

Manors and Castles – The lands granted to knights in England were called manors. Dues and taxes were paid to the knights under Manorialism. A knight would live in a Manor House on his fief. A knight could bring in additional wealth by competing in jousting tournaments. These tournaments offered a substantial purse to the winner. Winners of such jousting tournaments became the Medieval ‘superstars’ of the Middle Ages. Knights became rich and famous. The tournaments were a necessary part of feudalism as they acted as a training ground for the knights. The most successful and, therefore, wealthy knights were able to increase their land holdings and acquire their own soldiers to whom he might grant lands and who in turn swore an Oath of Fealty to the knight. Powerful knights under feudalism were, therefore, able to acquire their own substantial fighting forces. This in turn led to the construction of castles by knights – the great power bases of the Middle Ages.

 

medieval_castle_layout

Typical castle layout.

 

Thus, despite all prohibitions to the contrary, many a poor soldier won knighthood through valour in the service of a lord. Despite this double-ended openness of the knightly class, it nevertheless retained distinct caste rigidity. Its newest members, like parvenus of every age, copied or even excelled the hauteur of their older brothers in aristocracy.’

Did Mathew become a knight?

Well, without spoiling the novel let me just say this – at the end of Book one (1265) he is still a soldier though he is now aged forty-three. He has been offered other positions yet remains true to his new master. Indeed, he now commands a garrison and has been elevated to captain’s rank yet his upbringing keeps him within his soldier’s ethics.

Mathew is that rare thing ‘a man’s man’ – fiercely loyal, dangerous to a fault (don’t ever cross him) and – strangely for the time period – he is not a religious man. Given the choice of putting his trust in God – or otherwise – Mathew would rather trust his weapons.

He doesn’t have many friends yet I would class him as a friend of mine. I like Mathew and all that he stands for.

 

APTOPIX-Mideast-Israe_Horo1-e1436159475341-965x543

Is Mathew riding to the rescue? Such a sight would give me hope.

 

Thus ends our look behind the scenes of Chapter Three.

BUT SCROLL DOWN FOR YOUR PRIZE and next week we’ll have a sneaky peek at some more background from TKJ = “The King’s Jew. Book One. At the tomb of King Edward the First…”

01_THE_KING_s_JEW (1)2

And it is available at the following outlets:

Amazon = http://amzn.to/1WTrZMv

Kobo = http://bit.ly/1NEdzzd

Google Play = http://bit.ly/1MIR0nQ

Apple iTunes = http://apple.co/1WO8470

Barnes & Noble – Nook = http://bit.ly/1PDDPtD

 

Now then – as you’ve read this far I believe you need a reward.

Sign up or Leave a comment and I’ll pick TWO names at random from my black fedora and send the lucky winners a FREE copy of the latest eBook incarnation of “The King’s Jew. Book One.”

Thank you, dear reader. Any questions – just SHOUT!