My parents have been doing what we in our family call ‘rootling’ – searching through family roots, trees and provenance. They’ve been doing some digging on their area in Norfolk and suddenly came across this utterly bizarre little mediaeval detail.

It is a scan from Blomefield’s Topographical History of Norfolk published c1739 – and I can only imagine what must of gone through the learned Mr Blomefield’s mind as he recorded the annual (Christmas, no less!!) duty of Baldwin le Pettour of Hemmingston. I just love the fact that he takes the trouble to include a quote from a contemporary Latin chronicle, just in case we doubted his word: per saltum, sufflatum, et pettum).

The mind boggles about what Baldwin must have initially done to deserve such an honour; or, for that matter, what particularly provoked King John (right) to demand such a duty.

But what the king commands, the king receives. Dieu et mon droit and all that…

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. that is very strange and funny. One wants to say “only in England” but I suspect similarly mad behaviour went on all over the medieval and Ancient world. Indeed, I believe in undergraduate common rooms it may yet continue.

    1. too true, Maggi. Though I wonder how many undergraduates ‘cry hem’ before indulging…

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