#On This Day – Tudors

Monday, February 10th, 2020


On 10 February 1355 a group of students attending the university at Oxford went for a few drinks at the nearby Swindlestock Tavern. Two members of the group, finding the local ale or wine not to their liking, complain the the tavern owner, John Croidon. An argument breaks out  and insults are flung by both sides, this quickly escalated into blows and some of the other customers join the brawl which then spills into the street. Word began to spread through the local streets that the students are attacking locals, and more people join the melee. The bells in the local bell tower were rung calling locals, the university then ring the bells of it’s bell tower calling more students to the defence of their compatriots. On the second day of the riot 2,000 people came in from the countryside to join the townsfolk and the students barricaded themselves into the university.  On the third day the king, Edward III, issued a proclamation calling upon the locals not to injury any more students, this was ignored and again the local bells rang out calling people to arms. The mass riot carried on over three days, with reports of the killing of thirty townsfolk and over sixty members of the university.

King Edward III sent judges to determine what had occurred during the riot. The decision was taken that the town had been at fault and the town council was fined 500 marks and the city Mayor along with the bailiffs were imprisoned. An annual penance was also imposed on the town; a sum of one penny for ever student killed was to be paid to the university on February 10 each year, this carried on until 1825.

The date of the incident became known as St Scholastica Day Riot.

There were further incidents down through the following centuries and into the reign of Henry VIII, with both the town and the university complaining about which held various jurisdictions. For more on the unexpected history of the Tudors listen to our podcast here!

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