Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Radnorshire Crusade

English and American film-makers regularly revisit the old Robin Hood legend which, I'd say, provides most of us with our initial impression of the crusades.  A bearded chap in chain-mail with a white apron and a red cross - why you can still see them supporting the England team at football matches.  Dig a little deeper and we come across oddities like the children's crusade or the noble Saracen warrior Saladin.

Radnorians who've read Gerald de Barri's Itinerary will be aware of the Archbishop of Canterbury preaching the Third Crusade in New Radnor in 1188.  Two local princes Einion ab Einion Clud of Elfael and Maelgwn ap Cadwallon of Maelienydd initially signed-up for a bit of action, although they eventually had the good sense to keep out of Middle-Eastern politics and concentrate on matters closer to hand.

Being something of a teenage fan of Anglo-Irish poetry and knowing the Young Irelander Thomas Davis's poem The Sack of Baltimore, I was well aware of the Barbary slave raids of the 16C and 17C.  I might even have known that Lundy was occupied by Ottoman pirates for five years in the 1620s.  Being a long way from the coast these depredations would hardly have bothered stay-at-home Radnorians.  What I was totally unaware of, until reading Mr Faraday's book (see previous post), was Henry VIII's proposed crusade of 1543.  No, that had certainly escaped attention.

A benefit of the Act of Union was that Radnorshire was now able to fully engage in England's overseas adventures, one such being fat Henry's proposal to launch a crusade against the Turkish Sultan, Sulieman the Magnificent.  The first priority was to raise cash to finance the war, local clergy were required to preach the crusade for six weeks and encourage their flocks to contribute.  This was a voluntary tax, a bit like those paid nowadays by trendy American companies operating in the UK, the "pay what you can, we won't press too hard" deal.

A total of £8 15s 8d was collected from the thrifty Radnorshire parishioners, ranging from the 6s 5d collected in Presteigne down to Llanelwedd, who managed a parsimonious 4d.  The crusade, of course, never came off, although London probably put the Radnorshire contribution to good use.


Barry the Bear said...
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radnorian said...

LOL Better Fewer But Better as Lenin used to say