Map of medieval murders in London, with the known history of each

Originally published at: Map of medieval murders in London, with the known history of each | Boing Boing


Based on a hasty and unscientific survey of the data displayed by the map, I conclude that, to a close approximation, everyone murdered in medieval London was named John. Historians are divided as to whether this was because the majority of adult males in London were named John, or because there was a widespread conspiracy of John-haters who sought to bloodily dispose of anyone bearing the loathed moniker.


… this seems to be where our current system comes from (the “grand jury”)

I wonder if it was practiced all over England at the time, or just in the capital :thinking:


Huh, interesting. I was trying to figure out the population of London at this time, to see how bad the murder rate was, but as they mention, they vary from 100,000 to 40,000 for various years in that range. I don’t know how much of this is due to the estimates being very wobbly, and how much is the population actually changing. There were a couple famines in this period, but the plague happens just after… I’m assuming wobbly estimates.

Even with the higher population estimate, and assuming there weren’t other, unrecorded or undetected murders (which is unlikely), that’s… not great. With the lower population estimate, it’s really not great. I suppose the violence wasn’t necessarily any worse than a modern city, but the survivability of even “minor” injuries, particularly anything that might get infected, was quite poor (see, for example, the case of the guy who died from having a finger cut off). Since a lot of people were wandering around with knives (if not swords), conflicts got deadly even without killing intent (which would really be required to kill someone with a knife today), which is why there were almost 10 times as many deaths by cutting implements vs. hands and feet compared to a disparity today that’s only a bit over 2-to-1.


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