Friday, 10 October 2014


     Oxford attained full university status in 1163.  Shortly thereafter, an anonymous student penned these lines that were repeated well into the 1400s.  The poem became part of the anti-simony movement that fought the buying and selling of church and political positions and was named after Simon Marcus mentioned in the Bible as trying to buy privileges from Saint Peter.

The hand that holds the heavy purse 
Makes right of wrong, better of worse.
So, Penny binds all bargains fast,
Rough is smooth when he has passed.

Who but Penny settles wars?
He is the Prince of Counsellors.
Make room for Penny, ye who judge
With consciences elastic.
The Penny's law no man can budge
In courts ecclesiastical.

When the Penny's voice is heard 
The sense of right is sadly blurred.
The poor man seldom finds refuge
Whose one hope is his righteousness.
Whenever Money's power appears
The poor man finds himself in tears.  

The best of pleas is brushed aside
That has no cash to back it.
And lawful judgments are denied
By those who own the racket.

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