Outlaws and Highwaymen

Passage from Fasciculus Morum
trans. Gillian Spraggs from Fasciculus Morum. A Fourteenth-Century Preacher’s Handbook, ed. Siegfried Wenzel, (University Park, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1989), p. 340

c. 1317

Take note that among all nations the English may return thanks to God for a special privilege. For it is said that Ireland and Wales are overrun with robbers, who steal their neighbours’ cows, oxen and other cattle, on account of which they are openly called ‘robbers’. But in England — may God be praised — this is not the case. What do we find instead? Among us, gentlemen are called ‘shaveldours’ and ‘ryfelours’.1 For men of this kind break into the treasure-houses of the great, carry off property, drive away herds, plunder churchmen, nor does this touch their consciences; instead, they are hugely delighted when they can plunder an abbot, a prior or another monastic, and they say: ‘Undoubtedly it was God’s will that such a peasant, monk or friar encountered us today.’ It seems to them that whatever they do, they do justly and with reason. And so they do nothing for which they do not know how to come up with reasons that appear to be satisfactory, as a result of the lying way they disguise them and misrepresent them.

Unknown Franciscan friar


Translation, notes and page design © Gillian Spraggs 2001, 2007
Text added to site on 20 September 2001 | Page last modified on 28 August 2007

return to top | site map