Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Saint Scholastica Day in Oxford town

Now, the first university in Britain is Oxford. Its formation began with the expulsion of the english, from the University of Paris, in 1167. At this time, Henry II had Thomas à Becket in exile, and had warred against Louis VII repeatedly. Oxford town, and its countryside, now had a new source of steady income, of a captive clientele. In the middle of the 14th century, the bubonic plague hit europe, afterwards there was a significant, and drastic reduction in population, with much social disruption of all kinds.

The three days, beginning with Tuesday, the 10th of February, Saint Scholastica* [yes, there is irony aplenty] Day, 1355, there was something between an urban riot, and warfare in Oxford. It began at Swindlestock [again irony in naming] Tavern, when scholars complained about bad wine. The taverner chose to use unfortunate words, the wine then hit him, followed by the pot. He wanted revenge and gathered men. He brought the local enforcement authorities to university. The university was not under town jurisdiction.

Wednesday the students attacked the town, and the town counterattacked. Thursday was the bloodiest day. Many of the scholars were clerics and were tonsured. The townies and rural locals scalped others. An Eucharistic procession, to demonstrate for calm, was attacked.‡ Some of the university fled to Stamford, which had earlier had Oxford émigrés.

Edward III was to rule on this. The town having inflicted the greater havoc was punished. Each year on Dies Scholastica: the mayor and 62 freemen were to attend mass at Saint Mary the Virgin on campus, and pray, for the souls of those that died in the slaughter; in addition, they were to give a penny each for each dead scholar. The mass was changed to a sermon, when England apostatized, and that atonement ended in 1825. A mayoral oath of good behavior lasted to 1859. All Masters of Arts had to swear, that, they would not lecture at Stamford. The university would guarantee weights, and measures and the prices on drink and bread, and would clean the streets. In 1955 a ceremony of all differences settled took place.

Now from that, one, especially one, who, has lived as a student in a college or university town, must gather, that, the townies gouged and cheated students, and did not maintain facilities. Students are a cash crop of livestock. It is true, they are often a drunk and rowdy lot, but they are temporary residents and cash cows, and are treated as such. Some will say the mediæval ages were brutal and ignorant, but that is often just a strawman argument. There was no such precedent, certainly, in England at this time. There were occasions of violence, but not battle; and within the school, the rivalry was between the scots and the english. No, it was something pertinent to 1355 and how the university was in relation to the town and countryside about it.
*Saint Scholastica *c.480 †547, abbess, twin sister of Saint Benedict of Nursia.
it was not an introduction by indians, but by the anti-clerical english
‡one can wonder, whether any of this was connected, with the rise of lollardry§, the lollards began about Oxford, and had anti-Eucharistic, and anti-clerical views; but it also co-incided with the the Great Schism of the West, and the Peasant revolt, which again may all be, in part, ripples from the plague.
§latin lolium =
certain ryegrasses, lolium temulentum = cockle, (bearded) darnel, false wheat, tares
cum autem dormirent homines venit inimicus eius et superseminavit zizania in medio tritici et abiit
But while men were asleep, his enemy came and oversowed cockle among the wheat and went his way. ― Matthew xiii. 25. DRC
But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. KJV
In Geoffrey Chaucer’s (*early1340s,†1400) Prologue to the Shipman’s Tale:
...“He woulde sowe some difficulty,
Or springe cockle in our cleane corn...

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