Paston letters

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Paston letters

Postby Thearos » 03 Jul 2012 16:53

It's been a while since anyone discussed the Paston letters, which I've started reading in the new Oxford World Classics version. (late C15th family papers)

In one letter, Margaret Paston describes an affray btw John Wyndham and James Goys, the latter a friend of hers: Goys did not take off his hat for Wyndham in the street, so they started fighting with daggers; Wyndham's two retainers pelt Goys with stones so he retreats to a friendly house; he comes out to taunt W., so W. and his people go and fetch swords and a spear (and Goys withdraws). Next day, one of W's retainers attacks Goys and a friend of his with a two-handed sword; Goys' friend is slightly wounded ("rippled") in the hand.

More to come.
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Re: Paston letters

Postby bigdummy » 03 Jul 2012 17:12

Very interesting ... where is this and who wrote it?

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Re: Paston letters

Postby Motley » 03 Jul 2012 18:05

the Paston letters are a collection the letters between the members of an English gentry family during the Wars of the Roses, they make for fascinating reading.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paston_Letters

The impression I get from this is very much like a cross between what we think of as Medieval and Jane Austin.

EDIT: BD you'll like them, poor family makes good.
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Re: Paston letters

Postby Thearos » 03 Jul 2012 18:13

The Paston letters are the family papers of a C15th family, not noble but well-off,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paston_Letters

who had lots of lawsuits with their neighbours, and were (it seems) rough social climbers themselves. They're pretty important for social and economic history of Med England; I'm interested because I'm interested in letter-writing, economic history, and violence in unegalitarian societies (as opposed to the people I really am interested in, city-states).

Above I summarized a letter of 1448. The scenes for this drama (which takes place in Norwich) are the church (Margaret Paston, who writes to her husband John Paston about the affray, is taking communion when the disorder breaks out), the street, and the house (MP notes that W.'s men actually broke into the courtyard of the house and threw a stone the size of a breadloaf at Goys). Violence comes in three grades: daggers+stones (+"much large language", as MP notes drily); swords and spear; and the ambush with a "two handed sword', presumably a C15th-type longsword, i.e. military-grade equipment, which is clearly meant to intimidate (W.'s man "lets fly a stroke"-- I imagine a downward cut-- which injures Goys' companion). MP also tells her husband to take care in London not to get himself ambushed; and a friend of Paston's advises him to buy a jack in London-- "a fetis [=wellmade] jack defensible, for there con they do best, and best cheap").

Later in 1448, Margaret has moved into the "mansion" at Gresham-- which another guy is claiming: she writes to her husband for crossbows, windlass, and quarrel-- the house is too low for longbow shooting if it gets attacked. She also has had apertures knocked out for handguns-- very low, at knee hight; and she needs 2-3 "short poleaxes to keep with doors [??]", and 2-3 jacks-- she's arming her folk. She also says that John is to get the stuff from Sir John Falstoff (Falstaff)-- just the man to have this sort of stuff about the house... In fact she was turfed out of Gresham Manor by the other claimant, by force; and some people tried to make her disarm her men (telling her that they should "leave their wifles [?? pollaxes ?] and jacks".

[oops, overlap with Motley]
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Re: Paston letters

Postby bigdummy » 03 Jul 2012 19:25

fascinting
"In the case of an ailing social order, the absence of an adequate diagnosis... is a crucial, perhaps decisive part of the disease." -Zygmunt Bauman

"With any luck we'll be in Stalingrad by winter. " - Anyonymous German soldier
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Re: Paston letters

Postby Thearos » 03 Jul 2012 19:43

In 1465, the Duke of Suffolk arrayed 300 men to try to seize a manor off Paston; his man had 60 men-- and :guns and such ordnance so that if they had set upon us they had be destroyed". Paston's man is also attacked by 12 of Suffolk's men, "eight of them in harness". Later (1469), the manor of Caister, which Paston inherited from Falstoff, is attacked by Suffolk with guns (Paston's men "fail gunpowder and arrows, and the place sore broken with guns of the tother part"), and surrendered.

In 1475-- and this is for BD-- John Paston II (the son of John Paston the husband of Margaret) writes to his brother (also called John Paston) "For it is so that as tomorrow I purpose to ride into Flanders to purvey me of horse and harness, and percase I shall see the assiege at Neuss ere I come again, if I have time".

John Paston travelled a number of times to Flanders (he witnesses the bastard of Burgundy joust with 24 companions against 25 challengers at Bruges in 1468, and thought the court of the Duke of Burgundy as great as that of King Arthur)
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Re: Paston letters

Postby Thearos » 03 Jul 2012 19:48

In 1465, Paston's friends James Gloys and THomas bond went to court to uphold Paston's claim to Caister; the Duke of Suffolk's men turned up with "60 persons or more by estimation, and the tenants of the same town, some of them having rusty pole-axes and bills".
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