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euclid
02-27-2009, 06:03 PM
I'm looking for the title of those men who used to wander about medieval towns at night, calling out the time.

Watchmen?
Night watchmen?

Puma
02-27-2009, 06:08 PM
town crier?

euclid
02-27-2009, 06:55 PM
Wasn't he the one who called out Oyez, Oyez and made announcements?
The guy I'm looking for called out the time every hour (I imagine). Maybe he tended to the gas lamps, too.

DeleyanLee
02-27-2009, 07:03 PM
Wasn't he the one who called out Oyez, Oyez and made announcements?
The guy I'm looking for called out the time every hour (I imagine). Maybe he tended to the gas lamps, too.

Gas lamps?!? Ah, gas lamps were the end of the 19th Century, not even close to medieval.

And, honestly, outside of a religious order, time was kept by marked candles, if at all. The concept of time as in hours, minutes, etc was that important to the average person back then. The cycle of the year was far more important to them.

All that aside--make up something that sounds good and run with it. Historical fact shouldn't get in the way of a good story.

RJK
02-27-2009, 07:16 PM
If the town was walled and had a gate, they would have a gatekeeper on watch. The gate would be locked at sundown and the watchman would only open the gate if you could prove you were a member of the town. The gatekeeper kept travelers in, too. That insured strangers didn't steal from the townsfolk and make off in the night.

euclid
02-27-2009, 07:53 PM
Gas lamps?!? Ah, gas lamps were the end of the 19th Century, not even close to medieval.

...of course. What was I thinking? As I said somewhere else in AW it's been one of those weeks.

But wasn't there a watchman, timekeeper who called out the time: "Twelve o'clock and all's well." at some point in history? Or am I just confused?

Bravo
02-27-2009, 07:54 PM
doh!

i keep clicking this thinking it's about the movie coming out.

mods, please change this title to something less confusing.

thanks

Kathie Freeman
02-27-2009, 08:31 PM
The town crier was the one who walked the streets giving the time and "All's well", or if all was not well, what the danger was. But I don't know if that was medieval or later. I'm thinking more like 17th or 18th century.

DeleyanLee
02-28-2009, 12:22 AM
Personally, I think it's all Hollywood, but I could be wrong too.

Ariella
02-28-2009, 01:37 AM
Broadly speaking, late medieval night watches were usually comprised of a few officers called constables and a militia of watchmen who performed watch duty as part of their civic or feudal obligations. In towns and cities, each ward usually organized its own night watch.

The whole "Twelve o'clock and all's well!" thing strikes me as an anachronism. Clock towers with mechanical clocks don't begin to show up in Europe until the end of the fourteenth century, so it would be difficult to know what hour it was if you were standing on a wall on an overcast night. I suppose that watchmen could have called out something after church bells rang the canonical hours (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liturgy_of_the_Hours#Prior_the_Second_Vatican_Coun cil), but I'm not sure if the practice is attested in medieval sources.

pdr
02-28-2009, 11:55 AM
as Ariella says, the night watch, organised by each little ward/district? Like Dogberry et al in Much Ado About Nothing?

I believe that the night watch carried bells to ring if they found a fire or thief and needed aid. Can't see them disturbing the area by bawling out times, but this isn't my area of expertise.

If you need the time how about putting your people near a convent or monastery so they can hear the bells calling out the services and know the time that way?

euclid
02-28-2009, 02:49 PM
Thanks everyone. The short story I'm writing is about an old, defective grandfather clock. Here is the passage:

At the first quarter-hour, the clock would gather itself in a desperate flurry of wishbone springs and rustling ratchets and announce, like a watchman of old: “Dinnnng, Dong, Donk!, Donnnng”;

Puma
02-28-2009, 06:14 PM
I think it's fine just the way you wrote it, Euclid. It's a nebulous reference rather than specific so, my opinion, it should cause you any historical trouble. Puma