Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A medieval murder mystery begging to be written


It has been my experience that many medieval murder mysteries are set in the 14th century, often with the plague in the background. This makes them hardly medieval by my standards, but let that go. What you actually may be interested in is a free plot, which I found lurking on my hard disk. I think it's from a source collection on war in the later Middle Ages, but it is unlabeled. The story as we have it here is not a murder mystery, it's just a murder committed at the orders of important men in one of the great churches of England in a time of political turmoil, the year 1377 when Edward III died and his young grandson, Richard II, succeeded to the throne but not to actual power.

Robert Hawley and John Shakell, two esquires, had captured the count of Denia, a Spanish grandee, at the battle of Nájera [1367]. The count was allowed to go home on leaving his eldest son Alphonso as a hostage. In 1377 the money was said to be ready, and the English government therefore tried to get possession of the hostage. Hawley and Shakell refused to give him up, whereupon they were imprisoned in the Tower of London. Some months later they escaped and took sanctuary at Westminster. The Constable of the Tower followed them in force. Shakell was recaptured; but Hawley resisted and was killed in the choir of the Abbey, during the celebration of High Mass. Shakell remained in the Tower until 1379, when he came to terms with the government, and agreed to give up his hostage in return for his own release.

There are actually lots of documents on this case, because it went on and on.

Maybe it should be a movie -- can't you see the two hardbitten squires fighting for the "Treasure of the Count of Denia?"

Image: The Choir of Westminster Abbey in 1848. In the 14th century it would have had no pews.

Labels: , , , , ,

3 Comments:

Blogger Tiecelin said...

Intrigueing tale, Steve. Is there anywhere on the net where I can find out more?

1:38 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

As a side note, it'd be interesting to know who all's been killed in Westminster Abbey, as opposed to who all's been buried there (or just had a memorial erected). I suppose you could count the Chapter House too, though the king who died in the Jerusalem Room wasn't exactly killed there, I suppose.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Steve Muhlberger said...

Tiecelin, I can only suggest searching for the proper names.

3:59 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home