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1355 Oxford Riots

St Scholastica was not one of the better known of mediaeval saints.  However her destiny was to be rescued from complete obscurity by the original Town and Gown riot which happened on her feast day. On 10th February, 1355 the quiet scholarly life of Oxford was torn apart. Following a brawl between a scholar and some townsmen in a local tavern, the whole town erupted into violent rioting with the scholars and their religious associates viciously set upon and at least six of them killed. The King was anxious to restore order and get the scholars back into the city as the extract below shows. However for the young Adam Easton the Oxford riots were one of the reasons that he returned to Norwich towards the end of 1355. This was not the sort of education the Prior of Norwich had in mind for his protégés.

 

May 20th at Westminster

Whereas between the masters and scholars of the university of Oxford and the men of the town, great disturbance has arisen and homicides, robberies, firings, trespasses and other crimes have been committed and so the students alien and denizen are dispersed because of injuries and brutalities done to them and the university; which as a most fertile vine produced many fruitful branches in the church of God, for lack of cultivators is now made barren like a foolish fig tree without fruit. And whereas the chancellor masters and scholars of the university, as well as the mayor, bailiffs and commonality of the town, desiring that the debate be settled by the King swiftly and mercifully, have submitted themselves their goods, jurisdictions, liberties, privileges, and immunities, praying that the Kind admit such submissions and thereon to make order at his good pleasure. The King has admitted the said submissions and according to those submissions has taken the whole debate and all the said jurisdictions, liberties, privileges and immunities into his hands and that the way may be open for the scholars and their servants to return to the university without fear, he has taken all who would study and become proficient there, as well those withdrawn by reason of the disturbance as others who will come there to study and their servants into his special protection. And further that none may say he dare not come thither, out of the plenitude of his royal power and virtue of the said submissions, he has pardoned all the  masters scholars and their servants for all felonies robberies, homicides, firings, trespasses and other crimes whereof they are or can be indicted and of any consequent outlawries.

Close Rolls of 29 Edward III