Friday, May 4, 2018

Westminster Abbey Royal Treasury Raid in April and May 1303 in England


Summary: Westminster Abbey Royal Treasury raid participants took King Edward I's treasures in London by storming a window, not locked doors, in April and May 1303.


George Gilbert Scott, Gleanings From Westminster Abbey (1863), Plate XXIX, opposite page 195, via Internet Archive

The Westminster Abbey Royal Treasury raid from the last day of April through the first days of May 1303 accessed the crown treasures while the king absented himself from England to Scotland.
Westminster Abbey became the Royal Treasury after the Norman Conquest Oct. 14, 1066, because it bore the body of a king beloved by 11th-century Anglo-Saxon England. It contained Saint Edward the Confessor's (Feb. 11, 1003?-Jan. 5, 1066) Anglo-Saxon coronation regalia and King Edward I's (June 17, 1239-July 7, 1307) cumulative state regalia. Texts in early 14th-century Latin and Norman French, translated into English by Paul Doherty, described the dispersal of crown coins, jewels, tableware and treasure from Westminster.
The ensuing interviews and investigations established by the king June 6, 1303, elicited many confinements, much of the extracted treasure back and some confessions and executions.

London's Constable and New York's Carroll & Graf Publishers furnished means, motives and opportunities in 2005 with Paul Doherty's The Great Crown Jewels Robbery of 1303.
Doherty gives the means as the sixth barred, chamfer-jammed, square-headed window right of the 2-foot (0.61-meter-) round column in the center of the Westminster Abbey Crypt. The sixth window to this day has no stone sill even though the other five barred, chamfer-jammed, otherwise similar, square-headed windows have bottom sills of stone. Absence of the bottom stone sill is physical evidence of the imperative to loosen the window bottom- to window top-embedded steel rods to infiltrate the crypt.
Infiltrators judged the window the only way to enter the subterranean octagon with 9-yard- (8.23-meter-) wide floors and 17- to 18-foot- (5.18- to 5.49-meter-) thick walls.

The Westminster Abbey Crypt keeps its stone-vaulted ceiling with chamfered ribs that radiate from the central, rounded, column with molded base and top and tiled flooring.
The Westminster Abbey Royal Treasury raid looked to the sixth window to let raiders loot Crypt chests and coffers since the entryway lacked a complete staircase. Standard entry meant moving down a turret-staircase in-between the ground-level Chapter House and the underground Crypt walls' series of six heavy, thick doors with fortified locks. It necessitated the keys of Walter de Bedwyn, King's Wardrobe Cofferer, and a wooden bridge for the 2-yard (1.83-meter) gap between the Crypt door and floor.
Window access obviated obtaining the bridge and the keys and offered organizational options of relaying objects between Westminster Abbey Royal Treasury raid participants inside and outside.

The leftmost and rightmost windows respectively patrolled the pathway to the Royal Palace and grounds between the Chapter House and the Infirmary of the Black Monks.
Cresset torches in iron sconces, oil lamps, wax candles and the sixth window quit of its wooden shutters quadrupled the light levels in the gloomy Crypt. The sixth window registered eastward routes across the monks' cemetery, Palace gateways, the new and old Palace yards and the king's steps to the River Thames. Whoever staged the Westminster Abbey Royal Treasury raid secured the scene by shutting Abbey and Palace gates against farmland-leasers and latrine-users and sowing cemetery-screening hempen weeds.
Labor-, noise- and time-intensive means other than legitimately through heavy, locked, thick doors tilted the Westminster Abbey Royal Treasury raid toward anti-monarchist motives and monarchy-unfriendly opportunities.

George Gilbert Scott, Gleanings From Westminster Abbey (1863), Plate XXIX, opposite page 195, via Internet Archive

Acknowledgment
My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.

Image credits:
the crypt of the Chapter House: George Gilbert Scott, Gleanings From Westminster Abbey (1863), Plate XXIX, opposite page 195, via Internet Archive @ https://archive.org/stream/gleaningsfromwes00scot_0#page/n275/mode/1up
plan of the crypt of Westminster Abbey's chapter house: : George Gilbert Scott, Gleanings From Westminster Abbey (1863), Plate XXIX, opposite page 195, via Internet Archive @ https://archive.org/stream/gleaningsfromwes00scot_0#page/n275/mode/1up

For further information:
Doherty, Paul. 2005. The Great Crown Jewels Robbery of 1303: The Extraordinary Story of the First Big Bank Raid in History. New York NY: Carroll & Graf Publishers.
Harrod, Henry. 31 March 1870. "On the Crypt of the Chapter House, Westminster Abbey. Read March 31, 1870." Archaeologia: Or, Miscellaneous Tracts Relating to Antiquity, vol. 44, issue 2 (1874): 373-382. London, England: Nichols and Sons, MDCCCLXXIII (1873).
Available via HathiTrust @ https://hdl.handle.net/2027/njp.32101076451788?urlappend=%3Bseq=163
Available via Internet Archive @ https://archive.org/stream/archaeologiaopt244sociuoft#page/373/mode/1up
Keay, Anna. 2011. The Crown Jewels. London UK: Thames & Hudson Ltd.
Marriner, Derdriu. 20 April 2018. "Richard Puddlicott and the Westminster Abbey Royal Treasury Raid, 1303." Earth and Space News. Friday.
Available @ https://earth-and-space-news.blogspot.com/2018/04/richard-puddlicott-and-westminster.html
Scott, George Gilbert. 1863. Gleanings From Westminster Abbey. Oxford and London, England: John Henry and James Parker.
Available via Internet Archive @ https://archive.org/details/gleaningsfromwes00scot_0


No comments:

Post a Comment