Here is a brief summary of my latest non-fiction, Manx, Medieval history book which is available to purchase from August 2023, which I have titled: “Meet the Garrison of 1428”.
At some point prior to October 1428 an over-zealous Controller of the Lord of Mann’s finances, a certain John Cote, wrote formal letters of complaint to his master – Sir John Stanley II on the mainland, into what he perceived as endemic corruption and lax administration within the various high offices of government on the Isle of Man. These were very serious allegations, implicating many of the high officials he worked alongside and with potentially dire consequences.
His complaints brought about a series of “Enquests” (formal inquiries) on the island, held during October 1428, held under the direction of the newly appointed Lieutenant of Mann – Henry Byron, which ultimately led to nearly all of the accused officials being declared traitors to the Lord of Mann, including ironically John Cote himself!
The testimony given at enquest by the complainant and the various accused provide a very rare insight into the daily lives, struggles, misdeeds, moral failings and character traits of those members of the castle garrisons at Castle Rushen and Peel Castle, from the very highest officials down to the lowliest common soldier.
The alleged offences included the following:
Theft of the king’s goods on a large scale;
Extortion of Goods from the island’s clergy;
False accounting and fraud of the castle accounting records;
Failing to maintain the structure of both castles and their supplies;
Physical assaults on the garrison members by high officials within the castles;
False imprisonment and torture of a castle soldier by a high official;
Illegally establishing a pub within Castle Rushen;
Illegal drinking parties on the castle walls and within the Constable’s chamber whilst on guard duty;
Allowing ‘loose women’ into both castles;
An endemic break down of order/discipline within the garrisons and neglect of duty by the castles Constables;
Poaching of the king’s fish and game;
Absent without leave and leaving the castle gates insecure;
Secretly employing strangers, aliens and potential enemies within the castle garrisons – Welshmen and Scotsmen. Men unsworn to protect the Lord of Mann.
Officials breaching their authority and powers and acting as if they were the King of Mann.
The list goes on.
I am now delighted to present to you my interpretation of the “Garrison Rolls of 1428 A.D.”, the original Court Records from these enquests, a unique snapshot of those two island fortresses and their garrisons in that late medieval year.
Should you wish to purchase a copy of my book, the price is £25 plus postings costs, and you can contact me directly on this website. If off-island, books can be posted to you on the mainland at the most economical rate.
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