Archive for August, 2011

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 31 July – Saturday 6 August 1261

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

At last, in this week, Henry left the Tower of London, doubtless with a great sigh of relief.  On Sunday 31 July he was still witnessing letters there.  Next day, Monday 1 August, he witnessed at Windsor,  where he remained for the rest of the week.  In normal circumstances, Henry’s journey from London to Windsor was  leisurely. He would often stop along the route and spend a day or two at his house at Kempton, or at Merton priory, or at Chertsey abbey. (For Henry and Windsor see the Fine of the Month for November 2009).   On this occasion, it looks as though he went direct, quite probably by river, making the journey in a day. Henry’s safety, with the insurgency gathering force all round him, permitted  no other course. In Norfolk and Suffolk it was precisely from the start of August that Henry’s appointed sheriff lost all authority, and was unable to hold the county courts and collect any revenue.  Instead, the counties were run by ‘keepers of the peace’ set up by the earls of Gloucester and Norfolk.  Probably similar events were taking place elsewhere. The febrile situation is reflected in the fine rolls which record in this week the purchase of only a dozen writs to initiate or further legal actions according to the common law.  Henry, however, was still enjoying his  new freedom, and undoing the works of the reform regime. On 5 August, as recorded in the fine rolls, he restored to his half brother, Geoffrey de Lusignan, a manor which had been seized on Geoffrey’s expulsion from England in 1258.  In moving from the Tower to Windsor castle, Henry has swapped one great fortress for another, but at least at Windsor he could enjoy the park and the palatial apartments he had built there for himself and his queen. Windsor was the favoured residence of Queen Eleanor and she may well have urged the move. Based at Windsor,  Henry might also hope to stamp his authority on the surrounding area,  controlling traffic on the Thames, and guarding the approach to London from the west. Then, as now, the huge keep of the castle, a top its great mount,  was visible from miles around.  Henry  intended to stay some time.  On 3 August, he ordered the constable of the Tower to  send  money in his custody to the wardrobe at Windsor. Indeed Henry expressed amazement that he had failed to obey an earlier order to do so.