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Answer 81. Lord Byron. The burning of his memoirs here in Albermarle Street remains one of the great disasters of literary history.


Tom Moore was Byron’s friend and fellow poet. Byron had given him his memoirs as a  way of helping him out financially. With Byron’s blessing, Moore had sold the copyright to John Murray for two thousand guineas, an enormous sum in 1824. Neither of them was happy as they watched all that money going up in smoke.

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The green at Smithfield, seen from the old meat market. In June 1381, a famous confrontation took place here between King Richard II and the leader of the Peasants’ Revolt.

Smithfield2

The peasants were having an open air meeting. They were debating whether to loot London when the King arrived at the head of 60 horsemen:

‘When he reached the Abbey of St Bartholomew which stands there, he stopped and looked at the great crowd and said that he would not go on without hearing what they wanted. If they were discontented, he would placate them.’

The peasant leader rode forward to negotiate with the 14-year-old King by the Abbey. He was so insolent that the Lord Mayor of London, who was with the King, unsheathed his sword and struck the peasant on the head, knocking him off his horse.

By some accounts, the dying man was then carried into St Bartholomew’s Abbey (see photo, next post), while the peasants looked on angrily, but without doing anything.

LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT. Question 82. The episode is famous in English history. What was the peasant’s name?

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