Rye in East Sussex Town Guide

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The Pirate Devils of Rye and Winchelsea

A presentation by David EP Dennis BA (Hons) FCIPD AFRHS LCGI RAF
David is an Associate Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and Journal Editor for the Hastings and East Sussex Natural History Society. He researches and writes books on medieval history and features for Hastings Independent Press newspaper.
We examine the notorious careers of three of England’s greatest pirates. We learn of the truly exceptional Eustace the Monk: a genius and Toledo-trained satanist and turncoat admiral for King John and the Dauphin of France, whose battle cry was ‘A’ Winchelsea!’, and whose family ruled the Channel Islands, his partner-in-crime Stephen Crabbe whose name appears in local court records. We learn how Rye and Winchelsea pirates raided shipping from all of Europe and massacred pilgrims on their way to the shine of Thomas a Becket. Then to the arrival in Winchelsea of Simon, the young son of Simon de Montfort after the disaster of the Battle of Evesham. It is true that he gave up piracy eventually, but only to become an assassin. Lastly, we look at the Alards, where having a Winchelsea family member appointed by the king to be an admiral of the fleet did not stop them from ‘other nefarious activities’. Learn about the weakly-policed laws and terrible punishments of the time. The presentation includes images of Eustace the Monk drawn by medieval historian Matthew Paris and photographs of the tomb of the Alards and details of the Toscana Virus that killed young Simon.

ryeheritage.co.uk

The Pirate Devils of Rye and Winchelsea

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