Students Vs Residents, Town vs Gown – The Battle of 1355


The noise is the worst part. Doesn’t matter which side you are on. As a normal person who only wants to live in peace you hear the repetitive beat of loud music then the herds of loud groups announcing their return from revelry for all of the once-asleep residents to hear. As a student who is only having fun you hear the dreaded knock on the door followed by the rehearsed lecture about work the next morning and peace. You may even receive a call from the landlord with threats of eviction you know to be hot air. Each side wants revenge, but how? As with most questions, the answer can be found in the past. Join me in 1355 Oxford for the ultimate Town versus Gown showdown.

Two students, Roger and Walter, were raising a glass to St Scholastica on 10th February in the Swindlestock tavern. They were enjoying wine imported from the English territory of Bordeaux, but it was not to their liking. They informed the barkeep of their distaste towards his ‘indifferent wine’. He became indignant so firstly they threw their drinks in his face then threw themselves out the door.

Each side sensed a skirmish and summoned for support. The residents rang the church bell of St Martins and the students rang their equivalent on campus. Reinforcements flooded in and battle commenced. With the country immersed in the One Hundred Years War (Which lasted 116 years) weapons and military training were commonplace. This added to the ferociousness of the clashes across the town. After three days of hostilities, 63 students and 30 townsfolk lay dead with scores more horrifically injured. During the fracas the mayor had rode nine miles to Woodstock, where Edward III was in residence, to request support but to no avail.

When the dust had settled the monarch sided firmly with the students. He ruled that each year on the anniversary of the event (Rather appropriately on St Scholastica’s Day) the town was to pay 5 shillings and three pence to the university. This equated to one penny for each student killed. On this day they also had to attend mass and swear an oath to permanently recognise the primacy of the university. And to ensure that this would never happen again, the university was given the powers to regulate the quality of wine in the town.

Let this be a warning to any publican who has the audacity to serve anything less than the finest alcoholic beverages to the scholars of twenty sixteen.

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2 Responses to Students Vs Residents, Town vs Gown – The Battle of 1355

  1. Sean Munger says:

    Great article, and fascinating event! I did an article on my own blog about this on the anniversary of the riot:


  2. simonjkyte says:

    I am in that building at the moment


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