Friday, July 13, 2012

Overread at the Counter: From the Vagrancy and Poor Relief Act of 1572

All fencers, bearwards, common players in interludes and minstrels, not belonging to any baron of the realm or towards any other honourable personage of greater degree ... which ... shall wander abroad and have not license of two justices of the peace ... shall be judged rogues, vagabonds and sturdy beggars.
-- The Vagrancy and Poor Relief Act of 1572

Found this on a website called SCA Minstrel Homepage located here:

Looks like a page where they collect and present old English and Scottish ballads.  God bless 'em!   Doing the good work that I would love to do but am so too lazy to do.  

But the phrase above, from what appears to be a dissertation of some sort, is a wonderful wonderful summary of the times (at least, of my somewhat romantic notion of the times) - we think of the Middle Ages as either knights and maidens running around doing heroic things or else we think of dark dungeons where evil slaves to the Church study ways of driving nails into Jewish scrotums, but really the times were just like our times - a bunch of people making laws upon laws to try to stem the problem of traffic and commerce!

This phrase is obviously all about funneling the "alternative worker" (who is not a prositute) into recordable (and thus taxable) service, and at the same time trying to ensure that the commercial lanes are cleared of traffic.

This is the SAME type of law just passed in cities like Portland Oregon that make panhandlers move back off the sidewalk and into the doorways.    That law is designed to help the tourists get to the shops so they won't have to step over the bodies, and thus be forced to see a real part of Americana.

Same law, 500 years ago.   Fascinating!

Plus the fact what I really love is it lawfully defines musicians as ruffians.  And we think rock and rollers and hip hop artists are badapples!   Man, these guys 500 years ago were rocking the house and fightin' the powers that BE . . . or, whether, the powers that WUZ BE.

[side note: The above quote, and a link to the entire paper, is also found as the storyboard backing to "Ode to My Guitar" on Warren Peace, the 2011 album by the alternative Americana duo S and M.

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