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Authors: Michael Jecks

31 - City of Fiends

BOOK: 31 - City of Fiends
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Also by Michael Jecks

The Last Templar

The Merchant’s Partner

A Moorland Hanging

The Crediton Killings

The Abbot’s Gibbet

The Leper’s Return

Squire Throwleigh’s Heir

Belladonna at Belstone

The Traitor of St Giles

The Boy Bishop’s Glovemaker

The Tournament of Blood

The Sticklepath Strangler

The Devil’s Acolyte

The Mad Monk of Gidleigh

The Templar’s Penance

The Outlaws of Ennor

The Tolls of Death

The Chapel of Bones

The Butcher of St Peter’s

A Friar’s Bloodfeud

The Death Ship of Dartmouth

The Malice of Unnatural Death

Dispensation of Death

The Templar, the Queen and Her Lover

The Prophecy of Death

The King of Thieves

The Bishop Must Die

The Oath

King’s Gold


First published in Great Britain by Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, 2012
A CBS Company

Copyright © Michael Jecks, 2012

This book is copyright under the Berne Convention.
No reproduction without permission.
® and © 1997 Simon & Schuster Inc. All rights reserved.

The right of Michael Jecks to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

Simon & Schuster UK Ltd
1st Floor
222 Gray’s Inn Road
London WC1X 8HB

Simon & Schuster Australia, Sydney
Simon & Schuster India, New Delhi

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN HB: 978-0-85720-521-6
TPB: 978-0-85720-522-3
Ebook: 978-0-85720-524-7

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to
actual people living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

Typeset by Hewer Text UK Ltd, Edinburgh
Printed and bound in Great Britain by CPI Group (UK) Ltd,
Croydon, CR0 4YY


This book is for Andy, Jenny,

and all the BERTS Frangles,

for ales, for Morris dancing, for cycling,

and for all the fun.

You are the best of neighbours.


a diminutive form of ‘brat’.

a pie-case of pastry.

the fine exacted for the value of a thing that occasioned death. Deodand finally disappeared after a train killed a man in the nineteenth century, and the full value of engine and train was charged
to the company.

two terms of opprobrium.

term of contempt for man or woman.

lover or sweetheart.

sluggard, vagabond, rascal – also implying dimness.

small wooden projection set into choir stalls for monks and canons to rest upon to ease their legs during long services; also a long, narrow-bladed dagger for the
coup de grâce.
implying compassion, pity, or mercy.

wanton young woman, harlot.

one who refuses to submit to authority.

very small, insignificant in size.

Strummel patch
term of contempt.

speaking slander of a person.


Sir Baldwin de Furnshill
Keeper of the King’s Peace and keen investigator of felonies.

Sir Baldwin’s loyal Sergeant.

Simon Puttock
once a bailiff of Dartmoor, now a farmer near Crediton and friend to Sir Baldwin.

Simon’s daughter.

Edith’s husband.

Edith and Peter’s baby.

Simon’s servant.

Sir Richard de Welles
Coroner in Lifton.

Sir Reginald
Coroner in Exeter.

Sir James de Cockington
Sheriff of Exeter.

Luke Chepman
a successful merchant and member of the Freedom of Exeter

Sir Charles of Lancaster
the loyal servant of the Lancaster family, he has become a committed supporter of the former King, Edward II.

Ulric of Exeter
servant to Sir Charles.

Cathedral & Religious

Adam Murimuth
Precentor and Canon at Exeter Cathedral.

Fr Laurence Coscumbe
Vicar within the Cathedral.

Fr Paul
Vicar of Holy Trinity at the South Gate.

Janekyn Beyvyn
porter responsible for all the gates to the Cathedral Close.


Henry Paffard
a wealthy merchant in Exeter.

Claricia Paffard
Henry’s long suffering wife.

Gregory Paffard
eldest son of Henry and Claricia.

the second child, with the most business acumen.

the third child, a boy of six years.

old bottler to the family.

Henry Paffard’s apprentice.

maid to the Paffards.

younger maid.

De Coyntes

Bydaud de Coyntes
Gascon merchant.

Emma de Coyntes
Bydaud’s wife.

Bydaud’s eldest daughter.

Bydaud’s younger daughter.

maid to the de Coyntes family.


Roger Avice
a dealer in good wines, who has suffered from debts.

Helewisia Avice
Roger’s wife; a determined woman from farming stock.

their daughter of sixteen.

their son, who died two years before.


Juliana Marsille
a widow, who struggles to survive.

her eldest son, who is trying to build up his family’s business again.

aged sixteen, he is determined to help his brother and mother.


The idea for this book came to me while I was researching what I had intended to be a very parochial little story about four families in Exeter. Why is it that, when sitting in
a darkened library, so many curious little diversions always occur to me?

This one came about because I was looking into that strange period after the capture, and escape from captivity, of King Edward II.

The kingdom must have been in complete turmoil. Many men were keen to try to spring Edward from his prisons, first at Kenilworth, then at Berkeley, while others were more than happy to see him
languish in gaol, letting his son rule in his stead.

Despenser, at last, had been removed. But in his place was the ever more avaricious Mortimer, who took every advantage. Some believe he was hoping to take the throne for one of his sons. I
don’t believe that myself, but there is no doubt that he grabbed all the money, lands and authority he could lay his hands on.

And in the middle of all this, poor Bishop Berkeley suddenly died.

The facts are few and far between. We know that the good Bishop was elected, and confirmed on 8 January 1327. He left no Register, or other record, apparently. About the only document we have
from him was a letter to Adam Murimuth, on 12 January, appointing him his Official-Principal.

It is thought that he was enthroned soon after 25 March, and then, following the precedent of his immediate predecessors, he went on a tour of the ecclesiastical estates. Proof of his
determination to be a good administrator, I suppose.

But his journey was cut short by his death.

It is Murimuth’s chronicle that tells us that he died at Petreshayes, in Yarcombe, on 24 June. A shockingly sudden death.

What could have led to such a brief episcopate? Was he merely unwell?

I suspect not.

Generally, it is true that men, whether bishops or lords, could die while travelling from one manor to another. Their entourages generally used up all the resources of a manor quite quickly,
after which they would move on to the next. However, if there was even a hint of ill-health, they would stay put, since there was no point in hastening a man’s demise by forcing him to cover
twenty miles on horseback.

Be that as it may, there is other evidence that must be looked at.

Berkeley’s successor was Grandisson, one of Exeter’s greatest bishops. According to Wikipedia there was mention in Coulton’s
Social Life in Britain
of a section from
Grandisson’s Register
that said Berkeley had been murdered and his estates despoiled.

I am not convinced. This is the only mention I have seen (in Wikipedia, I mean) of this murder and despoilation. Looking in Coulton’s book, which was published in 1918, there is a footnote
on page 27 that reads:
Grandisson succeeded (after a very brief episcopate of John (sic) de Berkeley) to that Bishop Stapeldon whose murder is recounted in the
French Chronicle of London
(Camden Soc. 1844), P.52.

BOOK: 31 - City of Fiends
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