Did you know that Cambridge University, widely regarded as one of the finest universities in the world, would never have been founded but for a little vigilante action and kangaroo court justice by the citizens of Oxford?
The sources on the story disagree on details, but all accept that in 1209 two students killed a woman, (accidentally or otherwise) and the outraged locals hanged them (or, in some accounts, hanged the first two students they could lay their hands on). Most of the scholars fled. Some went to Paris – and some to Cambridge, where they founded the university.
Nor was this the only example of a clash between town and gown in Oxford. On St Scholastica’s Day in 1335, students in one of the pubs complained about the quality of the wine, and in the fight which ensued, 30 townspeople and sixty-three students were killed. Both sides appealed to the king, who took the university’s side, and from then on, the mayor and corporation were obliged, every year, to attend a mass on the saint’s day, and pay the university 63 pence (one penny for each student killed). This went on until 1846, when the mayor finally said enough was enough, and refused to pay..
The Shivering Turn in the first entry in a new series, featuring Private Investigator Jennie Redhead, set in Oxford.
17-year-old Linda Corbet is missing and Jennie Redhead is hired to investigate. The only clue she has is a fragment of a 17th century poem she finds in Linda’s room. But from that one clue Jennie’s investigations will lead her to a hidden world of privilege, violence and excess which lies behind Oxford’s dreaming spires.
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