This Day in History: 1456-09-19

On 19th September 1456, whilst Richard, Duke of York (lord of Sandal Castle), was in London, staying at the adjacent palace of the Bishop of Salisbury ahead of an autumn great council, five severed dogs’ heads were set up on the standard (public water conduit) in Fleet Street. Each dog’s mouth had in it a verse bemoaning the current state of political affairs, with one wishing that the head of the commander of the political leaders was on a spike: ‘ What planet compelled me, or what sign, To serve that man that all men hate? I would his head were here for mine, For he hath caused all the debate.’ Whether York or the Duke of Somerset was the intended target of this poem is open to debate but this public display of disquiet amongst the populace was indicative of the febrile state of the nation.