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The Earl of Paunchley lived in a castle outside the village of Poppleton, England. Noted for his cruel and tyrannical nature, he made life extremely difficult for the villagers, meting out harsh punishments for the smallest misdeeds: children caught eating apples that had fallen from trees he owned received a beating, women who did not curtsy low enough when he walked by were forced to work as servants at his castle, and men who dared to stand up to him were never seen again.
In 1484, the Earl decided to hold a Jousting Tournament on his castle grounds, in which he himself would compete. Nobles from the surrounding area were invited to attend. The entire village of Poppleton was also ordered to show up to watch the Earl compete, whether they liked it or not, as no excuses for absences would be accepted.
One hour before the match was scheduled to start, Edmund Gaddlegate, a young boy who the Earl had instructed to hang banners and pennants, fell out of a tree and broke his leg. His mother put him to bed and sent word to the Earl that he would not be able to attend the match.
The Earl responded by sending four burly henchmen to drag Edmund and his mother to the castle. There, the Earl informed Edmund's mother that as punishment for his mistake, Edmund would be tied to a horse and forced to joust against him, as well as all the knights who had gathered to compete. However, when the knights learned that the Earl expected them to compete against an injured boy, they left in disgust, refusing to partake in the tournament. The Earl, furious, thus announced that he alone would joust against Edmund.
As the Earl charged toward Edmund, a witch among the spectators, Hannah Cockleford, cast a Shield Charm between them. Slamming into the spell, the Earl was knocked backwards, his horse landing on top of him. At first, the crowd thought he was dead, but he survived. However, for the rest of his life, he thought he was a donkey named Hairy Cyril.