In a town where every man was armed with sword or dagger, you would be reasonable to assume that urban crime in Medieval London was rife. Whether you were stealthily attacked in the shadows of a back alley or were drowned in the name of one less mouth to feed, 14th century London was a violent and dangerous place to be. The information comes from the Coroners’ Scrolls of which several have survived from this period in history. A coroner was someone who recorded all cases of premature, unnatural and sudden death and it’s because of their documentation that we can get an insight into this scarily intriguing part of London’s past.
For history buffs with a dark curiosity, the University of Cambridge has created an interactive map of crime in London, pinpointing where crimes took place with all sorts of gory details about their happenings. All in all, you can find out about the stories of 142 homicides that took place in the first half of the 14th century in London. The map can be filtered for gender of the victims, location and even weapon of use (spoiler: swords and daggers are the preferred modus operandi!). Did you know that wounds to the throat, neck and head were the most frequently targeted area making up 42% of all reported murder cases. Surprising or not, men make up 92% of the perpetrators but the stories of the 8% of women perpetrators are just as intriguing. For example, one woman killed a young boy for stealing some wool!
You can find the map here. Happy exploring – but watch your back!