Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I Make Them Good Girls Go Ba-a-a-a-ad

There aren't many sources available for this one, given that it's a small local case file from 1311, so it's brief today, but there's enough to go on, including one of our recent Rapid-Fire Book Club entries, Uppity Women of Medieval Times by Vicki Leon.

Back in 1311, sheep were abundant in Ireland. Really, they still are, but we need some sort of flimsy lead-in here, so go with it, because we need to introduce a woman by the name of Eva Giffard. She was a weaver and wool seller from Waterford. With all the sheep around, this shouldn't have been all that bad, at least considering it was Europe in the Middle Ages.

But, the price of wool had gone up, leaving her less able to turn a profit on the resale. What's a medieval wool seller to do?

There is, of course, only one logical solution: break into the pen of old man Ivor Obrodir, walk up to twenty sheep, and rip the wool right off of them with her bare hands. Shockingly, the sheep had a problem with this innovative method of shearing, and she was caught. As Leon wrote, Giffard defended herself such that she almost managed to get acquitted.

Another difference between now and 1311: it took until the late stages of the trial for someone to go check her priors. And as her rap sheet went, she was a "common robber of sheep, calves and hens".

The record is silent on what was done with her, but let's hope 'an eye for an eye' was not applied.

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