I thought it might be funny to write a 419 scam style letter to read at the Feast at the recent Festival of Fools. A 419 is the type of letter where someone sends a letter trying to get the receiver to believe that their help is required moving money or goods, and that their assistance will result is a significant financial gain. The internet is full of examples, and most people have received or at least seen a variation at one time or another. My idea was that one time King of Leinster, Diarmuid McMorrough – the man usually blamed for bringing the Normans to Ireland – had received a letter like this, and given his troubles with the High King of Ireland, Ruaidri Ua Conchobair in 1167 utterly fell for it. Anyway, this was the gist of it. Aodh kindly helped medievalise it better. I didn’t read it in the end, but I still quite like the idea of it.
Richard, to the vigorous soldier and noble friend, Diarmuid, King of Leinster, greeting, wishing him health, prosperity and the continuance of divine favour.
You will, no doubt, be astonished to be receiving a letter from one previously unknown to you, who will now beg your forgiveness and a boon from you. I doubt not that this request shall seem to you both strange and unsolicited, but I crave thy indulgence and pray thee view it seriously; for I have urgent need of friendship in foreign places. My good father, the Earl of Pembroke, taken unto God these last months, was once held in the highest regard, sat at the King’s right hand, and spoke to him in private. He was given in secret a purse of some considerable value, and instructed forthwith to purchase materiél and to provision an army. By misfortune, on his untimely death and the coronation of that king called Henry II, I am deprived of right and title, and the noble aspirations of my Lord father go to waste. Knowing my father’s heart I have managed to divert the fruits of his labours to a secret place for safe keeping. It will be clear to your Lordship that this is an untenable position. So significant an army will not long pass unnoticed, and so I require with great urgency an honourable and trustworthy Lord in lands abroad to assist us in the movement of same as a beneficiary. In your name we can move to suitable accommodation and treasuries in your kingdom temporarily until we can begin again our quest to defend the downtrodden, the overlooked, the unjustly put upon.
Though we have never met, an associate gave you the highest commendations, and encouraged and convinced us of your sincere assistance, that you would handle the necessary
transactions with modesty and honesty. In addition to a well deserved portion of the monies and troops for your assistance and kindness, my associate also gave me to understand that you should benefit from the temporary assistance of the soldiers that would, for a time, reside on your lands. If you find you may be willing to assist us, please contact me at your earliest convenience. I do implore you to exercise the utmost indulgence to keep this matter in confidence.
Right worshipful lord, I beseech Almighty God send you as much joy and worship as ever had any of your ancestors, and keep you and all yours. Written in haste the Thursday after Candlemass Day,
Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, God Willing.