History is often constructed from stories that were passed down by word of mouth and those that were put to record. When stories are shared by word of mouth the human mind has the ability to exaggerate the truth and the lines between fact and fiction can become blurred. Most of this exaggeration comes from the human nature to try and manipulate the truth to benefit oneself. The Strange Story of Thomas of Elderfield is a perfect example of what verbal passing of a story can do. I will first give a short synopsis of the story, then I will explain why this story was of great enough significance to document and finally I will explain what a person of the time would most likely take from this tale.
There was a man by the name of Thomas of Elderfield who had a life full of ups and downs, but who never lost his faith in Christianity. He came from a poor family and worked his way up the social ladder to a successful business man. This climb up the social ladder was beneficial to him, but soon led to trouble as he attracted a suitor. After several years of infidelity with the suitor, Thomas’s conscious got to him and he discontinued seeing the married woman. His faith in God kept him from returning to her despite her repeated attempts at pulling him into sin. Thomas could not live with the weight of the sin on his shoulders so he went to a priest to confess what was causing him anguish and repent for his sins. “Eventually God's grace intervened and remorse stung him; so he presented himself to a priest and took his healthy advice to do proper penance for his offence,” (Malmesbury, par. 2). The woman remarried a man named George years after her first husband had passed away. In time George found out about his new wife’s previous infidelity and it caused his anger towards Thomas, which he would soon act upon, (Malmesbury, par. 2).
Following a night of friendly drinking George saw his moment to enact revenge on Thomas. After a small scuffle, Thomas acted in self-defense which resulted in a small, non-lethal cut to George’s arm. With physical proof of an interaction George immediately fled and shouted about Thomas breaking the King’s Peace. Due to the loud cries of George and aid from his wife, who still felt remorse towards Thomas for abandoning him, Thomas was blamed for this crime (Malmesbury, par. 3). Both Thomas and his father were brought into custody multiple times, but each time the charges were paid off (Malmesbury, par. 4). Following the crowning of a new king George once again brought charges against Thomas and this time he got a trial. The result of the trial was that the two men would fight in a duel to determine who was right in the case (Malmesbury, par. 5).
Unfortunately for Thomas, George was a much better fighter and he was defeated. While he lay nearly lifeless on the ground Thomas has both of his eyes and testicles removed (Malmesbury, par. 6). “…Thomas f. Estmar was conquered and therefore judgment is made of him, and it was carried...