The Coggeshall Cloak and Hood


For a while, one of my favorite Twitter accounts tweeted out medieval deaths: names that would otherwise be lost to unforgiving time. Unfortunately, the Twitter account has since been taken down, but while it lasted I did write a few poems based on some of the deaths. (O Simon is a personal favorite.) Today is inspired by someone who was hanged for stealing a Coggeshall cloak and fur-lined hood. Apparently Coggeshall was known for producing quality textiles. At the time it would have been wool, but eventually they expanded to lace and velvet.

The Coggeshall Cloak and Hood

Originally written November 23, 2020

“John, son of Thomas of Rothwell, hanged in 1320 for stealing a Coggeshall cloak and a red fur-lined hood from Henry Dowel of Leicester”

“Your honor, aye: I stole the cloak and hood
From Master Henry. He weren’t needing them,
And they would do my Jenny loads of good—
So cold, she was. I thought, sew up the hem
To fit her—tuck her in, my lady fair—
Just like a real lady in that cloak,
With that soft mink all bundled round her hair.
I didn’t think he’d notice, that old bloke,
Since he’s so rich. Has dozens, left to mold
At his estate in Leicester, and I’ve none.
And my poor Jenny, shivering and cold,
And on my honor, sir, I took but one.”
But ah, there is no justice for the poor.
Despite his pleas, the gallows were in store.

Image Credit: The Art Institute of Chicago