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Authors: Susanna Gregory

Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #General, #Historical

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‘What do you think?’ asked the monk. ‘William and I were up most of the night with this.’

‘It looks like what it is,’ said Bartholomew, taking it disapprovingly. ‘An assemblage of chicken bones and parts of those
pig feet Agatha served for dinner last night.’

‘I see you are not lacking in anatomical expertise,’ said Michael, laughing. ‘What else would you have me use? Is my Corpse
Examiner prepared to procure me a real hand one dark night? No, I did not think so. And anyway, these are not just any old
chicken feet. They belonged to Walter’s cockerel.’

Bartholomew was unimpressed and a little disgusted. ‘But why resurrect the Hand when you know what harm it can do? Why not
let it go?’

‘We cannot afford a missing relic loose in the town. Who knows where it may appear next? No, Matt. The Hand of Justice must
be seen to leave Cambridge for ever, if we are to be completely free of the thing. Chancellor Tynkell and Mayor Morice are
taking it to the King this afternoon.’

‘You are going to send him that?’ asked Bartholomew in horror. ‘But he will see in an instant it is not real. Even
the most deformed of his subjects is unlikely to have fingers shaped like trotters. And then he will accuse Tynkell and Morice
of cheating him – and Tynkell has more than enough to worry about. Deynman is telling everyone he is pregnant.’

‘Deynman is doing no such thing,’ said Michael. His eyes gleamed with amusement. ‘Well, not any more. My grandmother had words
with him about spreading those sorts of tales, and he is now more than happy to keep quiet about his diagnosis. She appealed
to his sense of loyalty to the University – along with promising a little help with his disputations when the time comes.’

‘Lord!’ muttered Bartholomew, thinking Dame Pelagia would have a massacre on her conscience – if she had one – if Deynman
was ever allowed to qualify. His eyes narrowed as something occurred to him. ‘But all this bribery implies that Tynkell does
have a secret about his body, and that Dame Pelagia knows what it is.’

‘Yes,’ said Michael. ‘Isobel de Lavenham knew, too, which was why Tynkell was prepared to help her after the fire. Isobel
is now dead, so only my grandmother knows the truth.’

‘And you,’ surmised Bartholomew. ‘Come on, Brother. What is it?’

‘My lips are sealed,’ said Michael smugly. ‘You will just have to fathom it out for yourself, as I have done. Suffice to say
you will be very surprised. But let us return to the relic. There is something very appealing about sending the King something
called the “Hand of Justice”, after what his dubious pardons did to our town. Of course, no one seems to know what Quenhyth
did with the real Hand. You do not, do you?’

‘I have no idea where it is now,’ said Bartholomew, not inclined to confide in Michael when the monk would not share Tynkell’s
secret with him.

‘I thought you might say something like that,’ said Michael with another grin, which led Bartholomew to wonder whether Dame
Pelagia had found out anyway, and had told her grandson. She seemed to know everything else. ‘But it does not matter. I have
told Tynkell to let Morice do the talking until the King is satisfied the relic is genuine. Only then should he step forward
and accept credit on the University’s behalf.’

‘And what happens if the King is able to tell his chickens from his saints?’

Michael’s grin widened. ‘Then our corrupt and dishonest Mayor will have some explaining to do.’


In 1353 Cambridge’s bailiffs complained to the King that a man named Thomas Mortimer had recently built a mill that diverted
water from the King’s Mill. On 17 April the King appointed four men to serve on a Commission and investigate the matter. These
four men were Robert Thorpe, who was Master of the Hall of Valence Marie, William Warde, William de Lavenham and Gilbert Bernarde.
Records go on to tell what the Commission discovered.

Thomas Mortimer had raised himself a mill upstream from the King’s Mill, and although Mortimer’s structure was originally
designed for grinding corn, it had been expanded into a fulling mill the previous Christmas. Because extra water was required
for fulling, the loss of power to the King’s Mill was considerable. Worse yet, it meant that the rent that should have been
paid to the King for use of the King’s Mill had been delayed. The King did not like his dues to arrive late, and it comes
as no surprise to learn that the Commission found against Mortimer.

The Mortimers were a powerful family in fourteenth-century Cambridge, and one Constantine Mortimer – presumably a relative
of Thomas – is mentioned in a number of documents. The Deschalers were also rich and powerful. One Hardwin de Scalers was
a principal knight of William the Conqueror, who was rewarded for his loyalty with land in no fewer than forty Cambridgeshire
parishes, including an impressive administrative centre at Caxton and later at Whaddon. Branches of the family ventured
into Cambridge, where the name Deschalers appears in several documents as men of wealth and influence.

Stephen Morice was another force to be reckoned with. He was Mayor of Cambridge from 1353 to 1355, and again in 1361 and 1363,
and he had been a bailiff before that. Richard Tulyet was Mayor in the 1340s, and was accused of instigating riots against
the University at various times. William Tynkell was Chancellor of the University 1352–1359, while Ralph de Langelee (Master),
Thomas de Kenyngham, Thomas de Suttone, John de Clippesby and Michael (de Causton, who hailed from Norfolk) were all scholars
associated with Michaelhouse in the 1350s. Wynewyk came later.

Both Trinity Hall and Gonville Hall were institutions founded by William Bateman, the Bishop of Norwich, although Gonville
only fell into his lap when its original founder died. Gonville’s first Master was John Colton of Terrington, although records
indicate that he spent little, if any, time in Cambridge. He was one of Bateman’s chaplains, and was probably at the papal
court in Avignon on 6 January 1355 when Bateman died. There were rumours that Bateman was poisoned, although these were never

Gonville’s second Master was Richard de Pulham, and the third William de Rougham. Rougham and Pulham presided over what was
probably a struggling, impoverished institution at first, and there is some evidence that they were obliged to sell their
precious books in order to raise funds for their slowly emerging chapel. They obtained a licence to start this in 1353, but
it was not finished before the 1390s, indicating that progress was very slow. Rougham was a physician, and records indicate
that he was probably a good one. He may have been the personal physician of Bateman’s successor – Henry Despenser – in the
1360s. John Ufford (died 1375) and Nicholas Bottisham (a civil
and canon lawyer, whose dates are uncertain) were probably also Fellows around this time.

Cambridge has several medieval churches that date from the fourteenth century or earlier, and one of the most glorious of
these is Great St Mary’s, the University Church. St Michael’s Church, which was rebuilt specially for Michaelhouse by its
founder Hervey de Stanton in the 1320s, stands a little way down the street, and has recently been renovated as a community
centre and café – aptly named Michaelhouse. It welcomes visitors, and is a peaceful and atmospheric place to sit and relax
after a tour of Cambridge’s wonderful medieval past.

For more information on the Bartholomew
novels and medieval Cambridge, visit

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