Sunday, February 12, 2017

News You Can Use: How to defraud your lord on the medieval manor

It was ever thus., March 2016: Securities Professional Charged With Defrauding Institutional Investors

From, Feb. 26, 2014:

In the 1260s, Robert Carpenter, a freehold farmer and former bailiff living on the Isle of Wight, wrote up a formulary – a collection of form letters and legal texts that would be useful for local administration. In the middle of these texts, however, he added detailed instructions on six ways you could commit fraud.
This work has been translated and analyzed by Martha Carlin in her article ‘Cheating the Boss: Robert Carpenter’s Embezzlement Instructions (1261×1268) and Employee Fraud in Medieval England’. Carpenter does not provide any introduction to these texts, nor does he give a hint on why he decided to include it in this work. Some scholars suggest he was bragging about his past exploits, others that he wrote it to warn his readers of ways they could be defrauded. Carlin adds another possibility – that it was “simply as a form of wry recollection or humour with which to entertain himself and his intimates.”

Carpenter’s first fraud is a simple one – if you are a bailiff or reeve that managed a flock of sheep, you would know that not all breeding ewes would have lambs during a year. When reporting you the numbers you could misrepresent the totals, giving an example of how to get 12 lambs for yourself out of a flock of 150.

The second fraud occurs when you go to sell lambskins – if you have 160 lambskins you would take 25 of the best lambskins and sell them for a penny each, then use that money to buy 50 lambskins for a half-penny each. After that you could replace the lambskins you took and deliver them to your lord, while keeping the other 25 for your own use.

The third fraud is “to make a sheepskin appear to be that of a ewe that died of murrain. As soon as it it flayed, let the skin be placed in hot water and then immediately dried, and it will become as if the ewe were dead of murrain.” In this way, you would convince everyone that the animal was diseased and that’s it flesh could not be eaten – meanwhile the flesh, which is really fine could be yours to eat or sell...MORE