Medieval Yarmouth,EnglandYarmouth was a town consisting of twomajor sections, Great and Little Yarmouth.
The founder of Yarmouth is believedto be a man named Cedric, who was a Saxon leader, but people still doubtthis to this very day. One of the main reasons for the foundation of Yarmouthis the Herring, a fish that was very healthy to eat, and especially importantto the lower classes because it was cheap and readily available. Fishingwas a very important part of their society. The seal of the town of Yarmouthhas everything to do with fishing, including a Herring boat and a pictureof St. Nicholas. Yarmouth consists of several rivers, which was importantfor its economy.
All of the rivers flow into a big estuary, which thenflowed into the ocean. Two main features of Yarmouth, were its port andmarketplace. Another major function of this town issilting, which developed from a huge sandbank formed over a long periodof time. The sandbank became strong enough to become a place for the saltingand smoking of Herring, and a great dock for boats.
This attracted manyfisherman from all over the continent, including the Clique Port fishermen. After awhile silting became very useless and migration began to occur towardsthe south part of the town. In the royal domain, Yarmouth was knownas a borough, in which they had to pay “every third penny” of revenuesto the Earl. Yarmouth was a very small town compared to others in the region.
According to the Doomsday survey, it had at least seventy burgesses byten sixty six. Yarmouth was known as a frontier town due to its lackof role of administration in the area. In addition, the king never setup anything financially significant in Yarmouth. There was one church in Yarmouth, St. Nicholas’sChurch, which was dedicated to St. Benedict.
It was founded by the Bishopof Norwich. The Church became a major attraction to townspeople. Anothermarketplace was built shortly after the church. Due to the migration andconstruction, the town wall was expanded around the Church.
Another significantbuilding, St. Mary’s Hospital was soon built, and covered up a large portionof the East Side of the town. For centuries , government was a huge problemfor Yarmouth, resulting in many changes of power. The town started outwith a Reeve, which was an official appointed by the King.
Shortly thereafter,the king granted the town their first self-administration. A royal charterwas granted, which included conditions such as: “free borough”,and “theright to choose your executive officer of your local government”. The town was divided into four main sections,therefore, four bailiffs were appointed who were elected annually. Despitethese changes, government became conflicted, resulting in violence, andformation of a town council to assist the bailiffs.
In response to theconflict, officers responsible for the borough treasury, also know as the”pyx”, were created. Balance of power soon shifted from democracy to oligarchy,and bailiffs were downsized. A second council was created featuring a Chamberlain,whose main responsibility was finances, and a water bailiff, who collectedthe bills. Originally the meeting place for the administrationwas the Toll house. It was too small and a second “common hall” was builtto replace it.
The borough court presided each Monday to deal withpleas, but soon extra days were added for special occasions. One day ayear was set out for Leers to present various suggestion to help the town,including annual fairs. Conflicts emerged between the Yarmouthand Clique ports administrations . The conflicts were caused in part becausethe King granted Clique the ability to administer justice in cases involvingtheir own townsmen.
In Twelve Seventy Seven, king Edward the First hada plan to compromise power between the groups by making a shared jurisdiction. This attempt failed, as well as many different interventions during thereign of Kind Edward. In addition, a deadly fight broke out between thetwo towns, resulting in many lost ships. The fairs had to be regulated,hoping to supervise the sales of goods during this time. Soon new conflictsprevailed as Clique complained to the King about new regulations, and thatYarmouth had control over the fishing areas. Problems with France pressedthe communities to set aside some of the conflict for a short period oftime, but soon that problem was resolved.
Yarmouth, then had yet another problem. The inhabitants that lived by the harbor area were avoiding payments andwere getting very disrespectful to the King’s rules. In response to thedisobedience, the King annexed the area of loading and unloading cargoes,and taxed the town for jurisdiction. Parliament unsuccessfully tried totake away the annexation. This Medieval town spent many years tryingto make a better authority, in which many charters were signed and manyfailed. Eventually, cargoes were allowed to be boarded back on the harborarea, but with strict rules.
Yarmouth consisted of three main streets:Northgate, Southgate, and Middlegate. Yarmouth was famous for its architecturalrows, which were very narrow. Rows were named after many wealthy. As soonas rows were built, Yarmouth’s populations expanded, consisting of overfive thousand people.
Unlike streets, they were very slim passages, separatingrows of peoples homes. Despite their small size, these rows managed tolast throughout the Medieval times. The only reason they were destroyedwas because of the Second World War. Two architectural problems in Yarmouthwere the cost of a harbor facility, because the people wanted it to beso big with boat docks all around, stores, and many more things. The second problem was construction: a very large wall surrounding thecity for protection, including a wall and ditch at the opening of the town.
Both propositions were very costly. The only way to raise money for theseexpenses was for the King to tax the town. Corruption soon followed asthe townspeople were complaining of paying too much money, however theworkers did not even begin to start to work. As a matter of fact,no work had begun on the walls of the city until about Twelve Eighty Five. That delay of construction brought a great threat of invasion from theirrival France, and the King soon ordered for a faster paced work, but ittook too long and the walls of defense were just too big to finish in ashort amount of time. The walls were built poorly, and soon crumbledinto pieces.
Therefore the king made a new tax on the people and constructionof the town’s defense began once again. The safe harbor was also a huge problem. Due to too much silting, water was too shallow for boats to dock in, andtherefore a new harbor had to be built in replace of it. Soon a newand bigger haven was built, with the expenses paid off from the money madefrom the sale of Herring in the town.
Soon the King of England wanted yetanother haven to be built in Yarmouth, which resulted in angry townsmenbeing taxed again, but this haven was built very well and lasted throughoutthe Medieval period. Back then, with the advantage of the seathat Yarmouth had, it became a very popular site for shipbuilding, etc. Merchants came in this town trying to purchase boats, but the townsmencould have the right to all the fish that the brought had brought in. Yarmouth conflicted its economy trying to purchase Herring while they werestill at sea, in an attempt to discourage out- of – towners from makingdeals. Parliament did its best to stop that, but it still went on.
Also, Yarmouth became an important maritimebase, due to its defensive port. It became a great resource of ships toprovide for other areas, carrying over forty ships, which was fifteen biggerthen the next biggest town. But supplying ships for other peoplewas unpopular in Yarmouth because of the fear of them being damaged atwar, and a lot of times the boats required supplies to be brought withthem, and the King was not ready to pay for any of that. Another problem for Yarmouth was they werebeing accused of Piracy. An investigation was held and they found out atleast thirty of Yarmouth’s ships had been involved in piratic activities. In the later years of the middle ages,Yarmouth was in decline.
Due to piracy, their ships being damaged, problemswith silting, and the Black Death wiping out a large part of its population. Also, they became a rival with another town in England, Norwich. Norwichcontrolled the trade the exports of wool. Yarmouth fought for many yearsto get that back. When they finally did, they didn’t even care about itbecause they were profiting so much from smuggling goods and the exportationof cloth. Yarmouth was surely a medieval town withproblems, corruption, and a lot of ups and downs.
It profited the mostamount of money on Herring and became feared for its advantages of thesea. They had many problems with construction and was severely set backwith the Black Death Plague. Yarmouth was surely a famous medieval town,but it surely wasn’t powerful and strong enough to be called one of thebest!