In the year 1249

Another intensive year in the reign of Henry III – and there’s 56 of them! – and the lucky house today gets to recall the year of his famous ‘I’m only one man’ speech. The occasion was all the highway robbery afflicting the land. No one was safe, not even the king’s wine merchants. The malefactors not only stole the royal wine, but laughed and got drunk off of it. ‘Here’s to his majesty!’ Henry went to Winchester, informed the officials there that law and order was something they should take an interest in, and summoned twelve men to start naming names. When they refused, he tossed them in the dungeon and summoned another twelve. They sang like it was a fresh spring morning. The robberies turned out to be part of a racket that went all the way up to the king’s household (hence the wine). One who sang in the hope of not getting hung was Walter Blowberme. He accused ten other people as accomplices, among them Hamo le Stare. Hamo insisted on trial by combat to prove his innocence. He lost to Walter and was hung, as seen in this drawing made by the roll clerk. Walter was allowed to abjure the realm, whereas of the other nine he ratted on, six also sang (turned ‘approver’ in the legalese) and three were outlawed.

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