By the early 14th century, Kilkenny was the largest inland settlement in Ireland. Its annual eight-day fair attracted merchants from far and wide. In 1306, among those hoping to sell goods at the fair was William Douce, a leading merchant in Dublin. However getting goods from Dublin to Kilkenny was no easy task.
The overland journey took a traveler south through the lawless upper Barrow valley. Any merchant laden with goods was vulnerable to brigands and outlaws. William Douce however did not have to worry about his own personal safety. In 1306 the seventy mile journey, which would take several days, was undertaken by his serving man.
The road leaving Dublin took this serving man south west avoiding the Wicklow Mountains, home to Gaelic Irish rebels. Twenty miles south west of Dublin the serving man broke his journey at the town of Naas. Shortly after he arrived in the town, while he was still taking his goods off his horse, he met a local woman Cristiana la Sadelhackere. Cristiana was what as known in the medieval world as mulier communis (common woman) or a prostitute. In the course of their conversation she and the serving man came to an agreement that that in return for goods worth two shillings that ‘he should lie with her’.
The year is 1310. Ireland was gripped by a severe economic, military and political crisis – pretty much everything that could go wrong had gone wrong for the Norman colonists. In October of that year, a man called Jordan the Chaplain made his way to Drogheda, a major port in medieval Ireland. However not long after arriving he got involved in a dispute with one of the townspeople – Robert the Tailor. What started as a fraca in a tavern, quickly escalated begining a fascinating story which ended in a murder, producing strange and unexpected reactions in the divided and crisis ridden Drogheda.
This podcast is a little different that many of the previous episodes. In this story, I attempt to explain how a major crisis in Ireland in the 14th century affected two ordinary people who lived in these trying times. Through this story of murder and unexpected solidarity the podcast explains why such what were seemingly minor events were indicative of much bigger changes underway in medieval Ireland. It is a bit of an experiment so I would appreciate feedback – whether you enjoyed the show and whether agree with my argument or disagree, mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you ever been puzzled by history? Did people really only live to 40? What was it like to go to a medieval dentist? Maybe you’ve been puzzled how people survived before email, phones, cars or even proper roads? Well if you have the Irish history podcast is for you! The series tracks Irish history and archaeology trying to understand what daily life was like for normal people whilst also tracking the big picture of war, politics and needless to say invasions.
The first episode looks at early medieval Ireland, a world called Barbarian by the Romans. What did Ireland look like to the first missionaries from Rome and see how the Gaelic Irish lived. It also examines how people dealt with low life expectancy and constant death.
I am 32 year old historian, archaeologist and blogger. I have published a book on life in medieval Ireland entitled 'Witches, Spies and Stockholm Syndrome, life in Medieval Ireland'. I also organise tours of medieval Dublin, available on request.