Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 18 November to Saturday 25 November 1257 (and a contribution by Dr Richard Cassidy)

Monday, November 26th, 2012

King Henry spent all this week at Guildford castle. There was no great press of business and he  had time to plan  extensive improvements  to what had become one of his favourite residences.  On 25 November he ordered the sheriff of Surrey to carry out a whole series of works, works which, as he said,  he  had explained in more detail to ‘Master John the mason’. The John here was of Beverley who was also the master mason at Westminster abbey. We can imagine the two men walking over the castle together and discussing what needed to be done.

 

The works commissioned were as follows:

 

A door and a fireplace.

 

A saucer and a larder under one roof

 

A building to store brushwood.

 

The paving of the chapels and chambers of king and queen.

 

A stable between the hall and kitchen.

 

The blocking of the outer and inner doors of the chamber under the gallery and the making of a new door to enter it under the gallery from the wardrobe.

 

A small building for  warming the queen’s food.

 

A passage from the chamber of Edward, the king’s son, to the kitchens and another from the chaplains’ chamber to the kitchens.

 

Repair of the almonry.

 

One notes, of course, Henry’s concern for Queen Eleanor and Edward and his son and heir.

 

In terms of fine roll business, one item this week (no.80 in the translation) shows Henry carefully establishing the status of an heiress’s inheritance so that (although this is not stated explicitly) he  could observe the stipulations of Magna Carta. The Charter had laid down that  the ‘relief’  (that is inheritance tax) for anyone entering a barony should be £100 whereas that for a knight’s fee should only be £5.  On 21 November Henry took the homage of Thomas of Aldham. Thomas had married an heiress, Isabella, but the nature of her inheritance was unclear. Henry, therefore, ordered the exchequer to inquire, by examining its rolls, whether the inheritance  was held by barony or by knight service.  The exchequer was then to levy a relief accordingly.

 

Richard Cassidy writes:

 

The names of Thomas of Aldham and Isabella should have rung a bell with the Chancery clerks. Only a few years before, they had featured in the fine rolls and the close rolls: Isabella’s first husband was Ralph de Haya, who died in 1254; early in 1255, Isabella had married Thomas without licence, despite having taken an oath not to marry without the king’s consent, and the lands of both Isabella and Thomas were taken into the king’s hand (Close Rolls 1254-56, 40). In April 1255, Isabella fined 200 marks for licence to marry whomever she chose. The fine was assigned to Geoffrey de Lusignan, and when Isabella paid the first instalment, the sheriffs of Sussex, Lincolnshire, Somerset and Kent were ordered to restore Thomas and Isabella’s lands. Thomas and Isabella had paid the full fine by January 1256 (CFR 1254-55, no. 332; Close Rolls 1254-56, 67-8, 263).

 

The clerks could also have checked the inquisitions post mortem. The query in 1257 concerned lands which Isabella had inherited from her sister Margery, who had been married to William of Etchingham. William had died in 1253, and the inquisition then recorded that William held half the manor of Chiselborough, near Yeovil. He held this half as part of Margery’s inheritance, and it was held of the king in chief by barony. The other half of the manor was held by Ralph de Haya, by reason of his wife, Isabella (Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, I, no. 287). So the inquisition showed that the sisters shared a manor held as a barony. After Margery’s death Isabella was to hold the whole manor (among many other properties).

 

Margery’s executors, Robert le Poher and Osbert Huse, were given administration of her estate, and undertook to pay her debts to the king (E 368/33 m. 5d). The fine roll records that the sheriff and escheator of Somerset were ordered to give Thomas and Isabella full seisin of Margery’s lands. They seem to have exceeded their orders, by ejecting Robert le Poher from land in Chiselborough with which Margery had enfeoffed him (Close Rolls 1256-59, 213-4).

 

In the long run, Thomas and Isabella’s status as holders of a barony must have become plain. When Thomas died in 1275, the inquisition noted that he had held Chiselborough through Isabella, as her inheritance, and that she now held it of the king in chief by barony (Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, II, no. 193).

Peter de Maulay’s Debts: A Contribution by Dr Richard Cassidy

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

The fine roll entry for Peter de Maulay’s 60m. fine includes a marginal note that he had paid the first half into the Wardrobe. This payment is also noted in the 1258 pipe roll. This shows that Maulay accounted for a fine of 60m. of silver , for having the King’s grace for the contempt of neither coming nor sending his service for the King’s expedition to Wales, and had paid 30m. to Peter de Rivallis, the keeper of the Wardrobe (E 372/102 rot. 20d). This first instalment was due on 5 January 1258; the remainder at Easter 1258. Maulay’s failure to carry out his duty in Wales may have been compounded by the fact that, just a few months before the fine was made, in July 1257, he had been given permission to let the manor of Doncaster at farm for five years, specifically in order to do the service due to the King for the expedition to Wales (CPR 1247-58, 572).

The remaining 30m., or £20, was actually paid, but fell behind the schedule set out in the fine roll. That was not unusual; more significantly, the payments were made, not to the Wardrobe, but to the Treasury. The receipt rolls show that Maulay paid £10 on 30 October 1259, and £10 on 14 May 1260, ‘because he did not send his service to Wales’ (E 401/41 m. 4 and E 401/42 m. 6). The first of these payments was made in time to be recorded in the 1259 pipe roll (E 372/103 rot. 17). These payments were made after the baronial seizure of power in 1258, and thus after the reforms intended to establish tighter controls over royal finances, by directing payments to the Treasury rather than allowing Wardrobe autonomy.

The fine roll also mentions Maulay’s liability for scutage, the payment of £2 per knight’s fee for the Welsh expedition. This too appears in the 1258 pipe roll, which shows that Maulay was liable for £63 scutage for the 31½ fees of the Fossard barony, and that he had paid £21 (E 372/102 rot. 20). He paid a further £10 on 30 October 1259 (E 401/41 m. 4, E 372/103 rot. 17d). The threat in the fine roll of having his lands confiscated no doubt helped to concentrate his mind on paying his debts.

But Maulay’s troubles were not over, for the Exchequer began to pursue some old debts contracted by his father, one of King John’s ‘evil counsellors’, who had died in 1241. The 1261 pipe roll notes that Maulay owed 10m. for a prest from the Wardrobe, made by Brother Geoffrey, the keeper of the Wardrobe, in 1236-37. That prest is indeed recorded in the 1237 accounts, where a note has been added that Maulay answered for the debt in 1261 (E 372/105 rot. 2; E 372/81 rot. 13d). The 1262 pipe roll revived another 10m. prest, this one made by Brother Geoffrey in 1238/39. After more than 20 years’ neglect, this appears among the new debts incurred in 1262, and was still being pursued in the 1264 roll (E 372/106 rot. 2; E 372/108 rot. 1; original debt in Wardrobe account, E 372/83 rot. 7). What must have made this pursuit still more galling for Maulay was that his father had actually been pardoned the first of these debts, back in April 1238 (Close Rolls 1237-42, 44).

RJC/11.11.12

William of Gloucester and the Royal Mint, a contribution by Dr Richard Cassidy

Friday, October 12th, 2012

William of Gloucester had been the king’s goldsmith since 1252. His role in the royal mints and exchanges went back to May 1255, when he was granted one of the dies in the London mint. The dies of the London and Canterbury mints were traditionally farmed for a payment of 100s. a year each, which seems to have allowed the die-keepers to pocket a proportion of the profits of the coinage. In 1256, William was a member of a consortium of moneyers who took over the farm of all eight dies at the London mint.

In October 1257, as well as being appointed warden of the exchanges, William was granted a die at the Canterbury mint. He thus achieved a dominant position in control of the coinage, while continuing to receive commissions from the king as a goldsmith.

William retained his posts in the exchanges during the early years of the baronial reform period, but official inquiries into the management of the exchanges uncovered several dubious practices, suggesting that a margin of perhaps 3d. in the pound was being taken by the moneyers. This sum, the profits of the foundry, was then claimed for the crown, and the practice of farming out the dies was ended. Early in 1262, William was replaced as warden of the exchanges.

Despite this apparent disgrace, William continued to work as the king’s goldsmith until his death, late in 1268 or early in 1269. His executors’ account, in the 1272 pipe roll, includes such expenditures as £80 for painted panels for an altar at Westminster Abbey, and 20 marks for a painted canopy around the king’s bed.

Hilary Mantel and Henry III’s Elephant: A Contribution by Dr Richard Cassidy

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Henry III’s elephant keeps cropping up. I have just started reading Bring up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel (her sequel to Wolf Hall). And Thomas Cromwell is thinking about monasteries, and relics:

‘In the year 1257, an elephant died in the Tower menagerie and was buried in a pit near the chapel. But the following year he was dug up and his remains sent to Westminster Abbey. Now, what did they want at Westminster Abbey, with the remains of an elephant? If not to carve a ton of relics out of him, and make his animal bones into the bones of saints?’

She has evidently done her homework. If only she had written earlier, we would have had a great intro for the Fine of the Month.

David Carpenter on Louis’s invasion of England, 1216

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Here is David Carpenter’s contribution to an episode of the BBC Radio 4 series, headed by Michael Portillo, where he discusses the invasion of England by Louis of France in 1216.

The Nuns of Wherwell Abbey

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Dr Rhoda Bucknill, whose doctoral thesis was about Wherwell abbey, writes as follows about the fine, mentioned in last week’s blog, of the prioress and nuns of Wherwell to have custody of their abbey during the vacancy caused by the death or resignation of their Abbess Euphemia.  

Euphemia  died on 26 April 1257. The fine  is undated but occurs between entries belonging  to  27 and 29 April.  Since the fine was clearly made while Euphemia was thought to be still alive, the nuns presumably set off shorly before 26 April, which would fit with the time needed to travel the fifty or so miles from Wherwell to Merton priory.   Henry knew Wherwell well as it was conveniently placed to stop off at when visiting Winchester, just a few miles to the south, thus many gifts of wine and deer by the king are recorded over the forty-four years in which Euphemia was abbess, probably in return for the hospitality he received.  He was well acquainted with the ambitious building projects that Euphemia had initiated in the abbey precinct and beyond, and contributed timber from Chute Forest to assist her. His last visit was in December 1256, just four months before her death.

Henry III and the Sicilian Affair

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

David Carpenter writes…

I have had a most interesting letter from Margaret Howell about my fine of the month on Henry III and the Sicilian affair.  She observes  that it was Huw Ridgeway, in his doctoral thesis, who  first grasped the centrality of Henry III’s Savoyard kinsmen  to the project. She points this out on p.132 of her Eleanor of Provence. Margaret also thinks I have under-estimated the role of the Savoyards in the second phase of the project initiated by Pope Alexander IV in 1255. She notes in particular the way Henry III, in June 1255, commissioned Thomas of Savoy, Peter of Savoy and Philip of Savoy, bishop elect of Lyons, to recruit knights for his service.  I am sure Margaret is right about this.  However, I am still struck  by the way neither Thomas nor Peter of Savoy seem to have been involved with either negotiating or accepting the deal  of 1255.  They must surely have  regarded it as very unfortunate, for themselves as much as for the king.  Essentially,  the terms meant the Savoyards would never have the resources to recruit an  army to intervene in Sicily on Henry’s behalf.  Henry could ask them to retain knights as much as he liked, but he had no money with which they could do it.

Huw Ridgeway’s thesis is ‘The politics of the English royal court 1247-1265 with special reference to the role of the aliens’ (University of Oxford, 1983).

A drawing of Eva, nurse of Richard, the future earl of Cornwall

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Richard De Renzy Channer, an eagle-eyed MA student at King’s College London spotted this image of a woman’s head that is reminiscent of those of other women (e.g. Muriel the Jewess of Gloucester) found in the margins of the fine rolls. It is from the close roll of June 1213 (held at The National Archives) and is against an order to the exchequer to give 4d a day to Eva, nurse of King John’s son, Richard, the future earl of Cornwall, so it might well be her.

Charter Roll for 17 John and Other Images.

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Here is an image supplied by Richard Channer of the heading for the Charter Roll of 17 John for users of our website to compare with the fine roll headings.

Here is another image of John’s mise roll for 1212-1213.

More on Henry III’s sense of humour

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Readers of the Fine of the Month on Henry III’s sense of humour may be interested in two further communications about it.

It will be remembered that one of the ridiculous debts with which Henry saddled his clerk, Peter the Poitevin ran as follows.

Item, he owes the king 34 tuns of wine for the arrears of wines which he bought to the king’s use at Mussak where he dreamed he had seen the Emperor Otto.

In writing up the fine of the month,  I said I had been unable to identify Mussak. Nicholas Vincent now emails as follows: ‘Mussak, I suspect, is Moissac on the Tarn (dep. Tarn-et-Garonne), to the east of Agen and a major centre both for the wine trade and for mercantile activity.’

I have also remembered another example of Henry’s humour recorded in the Annals of Burton abbey. (Annales Monastici, i,  324).  The annalist tells how Henry’s envoys at the papal court entered into an ‘amicabilis altercatio sive risum’ about who was older, Pope Innocent IV or Henry III. When this was relayed to Henry, he sent a graceful letter back to Innocent saying that although he was older in years, the pope far exceeded him in grace and wisdom. The annalist does not give the actual text of Henry’s letter (which he may slightly have misunderstood) but he does preserve Innocent’s reply which observed how Henry had ‘mixed ludicrous with serious things’ in order to entertain him.  One might think Henry had little to laugh about given that Innocent was in the process of drawing him into the disastrous Sicilian affair. The annalist himself observed that the pope’s friendship was based  more on love of  money than any higher considerations.  In fact, however, Innocent was far less exacting when it came to Sicily than  at first appears. This will be the subject of a future ‘fine of the month’