The Riddle and The Knight – Giles Milton

The Riddle and The Knight - Giles Milton
The Riddle and The Knight – Giles Milton

Giles Milton always tells a good story and The Riddle and The Knight is no exception.

Part travelogue, part history, part biography, The Riddle and The Knight explores the life and times of medieval traveller (two of my loves combined!) Sir John de Mandeville, who spent 34 years on an extended pilgrimage tour of the near east and beyond, and wrote them up in The Travels of Sir John Mandeville on his return. His account became a Medieval best seller. In it he claimed to have circumnavigated the globe.

But, having finished the book relaxing on the sofa at 40A as the rain tipped down outside, I really, REALLY want to know how his wife spent those 34 years.

She get this one tantalising mention on page 110 (my emphasis added):

“Yet in 1321 – just months before the author of The Travels claimed to have left England – he sold everything he owned and disappears from all records for the next 37 years. According to one of the few surviving land registries from that year, a ‘John de Mandeville and Agnes his wife‘ sold ten acres of land to Richard and Emma Filliol. Furthermore, ‘John atte Tye of Teryling and Alice his wife had a settlement with John Mandeville of Borham and Agnes his wife by which the former secured twenty marks of silver one messuage, sixteen acres of land, and one and a half acres of wood in Borham.’ Men didn’t dispose of land in the Middle Ages unless they had an extremely good reason. But it is entirely possible that Sir John did have a good reason. He was going abroad for a very long time, and needed a huge amount of cash to find his voyage.”

Author’s page: The Riddle and The Knight – Giles Milton

P.S. I also like the fact the Sir John was liege man to Sir Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford and Essex. Those two counties loom large in this Loosemore’s life!

And look what popped up in my Twitter feed two days later: