Crispin: The Cross of Lead – Literature – Plot

Crispin lives in the small village of Stromford in southern England (1: Hyperlink) in 1377. Stromford village is ruled by Lord Furnival, a veteran of the Hundred Years’ War. He is known for his cruelty and turns out to be Crispin’s biological father (Everett Myrik 2002). Crispin’s mother Asta has just died. He is simply known as “Asta’s son” and doesn’t know anything about his father. He doesn’t even know his real name. After his mothers’ death, he is so distressed that he runs into the forest. By pure chance he overhears John Aycliffe, the village steward discussing him with a stranger. They are arguing about a great danger when they discover Crispin. They want to see him dead, but he is able to escape from them. Father Quinel, the local priest, tells him his real name Crispin, just before he must flee from Stromford. He has been declared a “wolf’s head”, which means that everyone is permitted to kill him as if he were a wild animal.

Before he escapes, Father Quinel tells him that his mother was literate, which indicates that she was educated and must have been of noble blood. He gives Crispin her cross of lead. Crispin has a lot of questions that Father Quinel promises to answer. Unfortunately, the priest is murdered before he can answer the questions. Crispin flees without any answers and meets Bear, a fool who juggles for his daily bread, in an abandoned village. He forces Crispin to become his servant. Bear has a mysterious mission in Great Wexly on June 23rd. At first, they seem like an odd couple and Crispin is a bit terrified of Bear, but as time goes by, they become a good team and Bear encourages Crispin to think for himself. Consequently, Crispin gains a lot more confidence. Bear teaches Crispin to play music while he juggles. They wander together and earn money with their performances in the villages they pass through. In one of these villages, they hear that Crispin has been falsely accused of the murder of Father Quinel.

In Great Wexly, they stay in the Green Man tavern of Widow Daventry, an old friend of Bear. Crispin explores the city although Bear tells him to stay in their room. John Aycliffe discovers him in the cathedral and hunts him through the city where Crispin gets lost in the winding streets. Fortunately, Bear finds him. Bear attends a secret meeting of rebels. He has talked to John Ball about a rebellion the day before, which could possibly bring him into great danger. Bear gets captured by soldiers, though Crispin has warned the other rebels. He must hide himself so as not get captured. While he is hiding, Widow Daventry tells him who he really is: the son of Lord Furnival, the Lord of Stromford village. His mother was the daughter of Lord Douglas, so Crispin is the true heir of Lord Furnival. John Aycliffe is related to Lady Furnival. She wants to keep all the estate her husband left, so John Aycliffe has the order to kill Crispin to keep him from inheriting land and title.

Crispin breaks into the castle of Lord Furnival to save Bear. On his way, he meets John Aycliffe once again. Crispin shows his cross of lead and acknowledges his noble blood. Crispin promises, if John Aycliffe frees Bear, he won’t claim his inheritance. John Aycliffe breaks his vow to let them go. Bear kills John in a fight and Crispin rejects his noble blood by throwing his cross of lead on John Aycliffe’s dead body. They leave the city as free men. Crispin knows his name Crispin with all his heart, but this name and his companion will bring him into great danger again.