The king’s highway

December 18, 2010

This is too fun not to post:

In about 1200 King John proposed building a hunting lodge near the city of Nottingham. The residents of Gotham [not the denizens of Batman’s domain] realized the implications of this—he would pass through the village on the way to his lodge, making it a king’s highway and thus making them liable to new taxes.

So what did they do? The entire village pretended to be mad. It is said that the villagers built a fence around a cuckoo bush to prevent the cuckoo escaping, tried to drown an eel, set about pulling the moon out of a pond with a rake and rolled cheeses down a hill to make them round. Since madness was considered contagious the idea of a whole village of lunatics was perfectly feasible, and apparently the ploy worked.

~Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives