Six centuries ago a group of students and a whole number of townspeople were killed in a riot over a pint. The riots began on St Benedict’s Day, which happens to be known as St Scholastica Day (which is known as a celebration in honor of perhaps the better known – St Benedict), but also a holiday for the Catholic Church in Ireland. Some Oxford students were drinking in a pub called Swindlestock Tavern, a pub in the center of the city, when two students started complaining about the quality of the beer on offer. They complained to the bartenders of the swan-stock pub about the lower quality wine they were served. When the host responded with stubborn, cheeky words, the students threw their cups at the man’s head, beat him up, and then threw his cup at his head.
The pub row led to a furious row between the residents of Oxford and university academics. But the binge got out of control and led to the unintentional death of one of the most famous personalities of the city, St. Scholastica. A seemingly minor pub brawl sparked a city dispute over university gowns, with fatal and surprising consequences. The germ of the riots was the drunkenness of a group of students at St Scholastica’s College, Oxford. They strolled into a pub in the early hours of June 14, 1515, drinking a bottle of wine, a pint of beer and a cup of tea. The City – The riots in costume continued, but this was by no means the end of the battle at Oxford on Scholastica Day, or even the beginning of it.
Oxford Mayor John de Bereford asked for the arrest of the two students, but this was refused. Most humiliating of all, the Mayor of the Corporation had to attend the Day of St. Scholastica and then the Mass in the University Church and take an oath to recognize the privilege of this University forever. Every year, the university is paid 63 pence (5 s a penny) for every scientist killed, by the scholars killed.
The adventures of Verdant Green, students regarded the day of Scholastica as an excellent opportunity for punch-ups. His research focuses on violence in medieval universities, and he has written a number of books on the history of violence in medieval England and the Middle Ages, as well as a number of articles on violence in medieval universities for Oxford University Press.
This incident spiralled out of control and the two students, one of whom was a student at Oxford University and the other a member of the university’s law school, were arrested. Between 1297 and 1322, 29 cases of violence against students were recorded in the city. About 40 people died, at least 20 buildings were set on fire, student apartments were looted, a city gate was damaged and one of the city gates was broken open. The violence calmed down for a while, but the students, after losing the battle, fled the city and some of their homes were looted by townspeople.
In 1298, students murdered a citizen, and in response, the townspeople also killed one of the students. The students were not punished, but the city dwellers responsible for the scholars “murder were excommunicated. In addition to being fined by the city, they were also fined and the punishment was imposed on all students for their actions. The consequences were predictable, but the St. Scholastica Day riot was by far the worst of them all and it was the biggest battle in an ongoing conflict. Although all schools have their rivalries in the city dress, most do not behave like medieval body counters, except for St. Scholastica Day.
On this day in 1355, the start of the Scholastic Day riots in Oxford, England, two Oxford scholars were lynched for suspected involvement in the death of a local woman. Oxford was so shaken that a part of the university community left the city altogether and founded Cambridge University in the same year. The row began when two Oxford University students who were drinking at the Swinlestock Tavern complained to the landlord about the wine. Harsh words were exchanged and physical violence ensued when one of the students threw a tanker at another man. What had been triggered by a fairly trivial, locally limited event had serious and bloody consequences. Variety-city relations have always been troubled, but this series of events and a series of other incidents in the city over the centuries had damaged the relations between varieties and cities for centuries.