Archive for September, 2011

Fine Rolls and Pipe Rolls

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Richard Cassidy writes…

I have been looking at the way in which fines make their way from the Chancery’s fine rolls, via the originalia rolls which transmit the information to the Exchequer, onto the pipe rolls. The pipe rolls are said to relate to a given Exchequer year – that is, a year ending at Michaelmas. But I have noticed that the fines recorded in the pipe rolls do not necessarily match either the Exchequer year, or the regnal year used in the fine rolls.

For example, the Staffordshire account in the 1259 pipe roll is supposed to cover two years, from 30 September 1257 to 29 September 1259. The Nova Oblata section, recording the new entries for this roll, begins with a fine made by the abbot of Burton on 28 December 1257. The rest of the Staffordshire fines follow, more or less in the order in which they appear in the fine rolls, up to the last fine for the county from the 1258-59 fine roll, made on 24 October 1259. This fine must have been included on the section of originalia roll covering the last part of the Chancery’s year 1258-59, which the Treasurer received on 25 November 1259; the summonses derived from this roll had all been sent out to the sheriffs by Christmas 1259, according to a note on the dorse of the originalia roll. In other words, the Staffordshire entries on the pipe roll include fines made after the end of the year it is meant to cover, but before the day on which the county accounts were examined by the Exchequer (9 February 1260).

This is not entirely surprising – it is fairly well known that the pipe rolls include payments made up to the date of each county’s account, after the nominal year end. What does seem odd is the pattern of fines recorded over several years for a conveniently small county, Sussex. The Sussex fines from five years’ fine rolls can nearly all be traced in the pipe rolls (about 110 out of 120). They appear in chronological order, with one pipe roll taking over from another, but with the sequence breaking at irregular intervals:

the 1254-55 pipe roll includes fines dated up to 16 June 1255;

the 1255-56 pipe roll includes fines from 2 November 1255 to 6 June 1256;

the 1256-57 pipe roll includes fines from 12 June 1256 to 14 October 1257, plus one out-of-sequence fine from 22 November 1255;

the 1257-58 pipe roll includes fines from 16 November 1257 to 20 April 1258;

the 1258-59 pipe roll includes fines from 2 June 1258 to 30 June 1259;

the 1259-60 pipe roll includes fines from 4 July 1259 onwards.

From this sample, it seems that in most years the listing of fines in the pipe roll ended with the batch of fines sent in June in an instalment of the originalia roll. This seems odd, on the face of it, and raises the question of what exactly it means to say that a pipe roll relates to a particular year, when there seems to be no clear relationship between the nominal year of the roll and the events which it covers. I would be grateful for any suggestions which might clarify this, particularly from anybody who has already undertaken the tedious task of matching up fine roll and pipe roll entries.

Anglo-Gascon Aquitaine: Problems and Perspectives. An Anglo-French Conference organised by the AHRC-Funded Project, The Gascon Rolls, 1317-1468, and held on 23-24 September 2011 in the History Faculty Building at Oxford

Monday, September 26th, 2011

David Carpenter writes.  I could not attend the first day of this conference as it coincided with the start of the  MA in Medieval History at King’s. However, I was able to attend on the Saturday and indeed give a paper which drew on material from the fine rolls project.

I heard a series of fascinating talks including one Frédéric Boutoulle from the University of Bordeaux on ‘Royal bailiffs and village communities in Gascony during the reign of Henry III’.

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 25 September to Saturday 1 October 2161

Monday, September 26th, 2011

At last in this week Henry left Windsor.  There had been some indications that he intended to go to Oxfordshire and then Northamptonshire, thus rallying support in those counties. But if so, these plans were dropped in favour of a move far less ambitious and dangerous.  On Saturday 24 September Henry was still at Windsor. His whereabouts on Sunday 25 September are unknown. Probably he was travelling, for on Monday 26 September and for the rest of the week he is found in London, at St Paul’s. The only chronicler to notice this move is Thomas Wykes, and what he says is dramatic.

‘ After many disputes [between the king and his opponents], around Michaelmas [29 September], the king secretly entered the city of London, fearing sedition of the barons, since they refused to parliament with him’.

The reference here to a ‘refusal to parliament’ fits perfectly with the assembly Henry had summoned to Windsor for 21 September. We saw in last week’s blog some indication that knights did attend from Norfolk, but, judging from Wykes’s comment, the meeting (called a parliament at the time) was poorly attended.  It  did not encourage Henry to carry his standard into  the counties. Instead  ‘secretly’ (an indication both of his weakness and anxieties), he returned to London. The only bright spot was that Henry evidently felt secure in the city for he went not to the Tower but to St Paul’s where, in greater comfort than in the great fortress,  he almost certainly lived in the bishop’s palace.

Henry’s critical situation is  reflected in the fine rolls, where this week sees an extraordinary dearth  of business. On the roll there  are writs witnessed at Windsor on Saturday  24 September, followed by ten  undated entries. After these, the roll records in sequence a writ witnessed on Saturday 1 October at St Paul’s, two undated entries, and then an entry witnessed at St Paul’s on 5 October. In other words, this week, between 25 September and 1 October has only one item of business securely dated to it.  Although it is probable that some of the undated entries (mostly about the purchase of common law writs)   belong to this week, the impression that such business  was dwindling may not be far from the truth.  Conditions of near civil war did not encourage travel, and,  in any case, where was one to go? Given the ‘secrecy’ of Henry’s retreat from Windsor to London, many may not have known  just where the king was.

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 18 September to 24 September 1261

Monday, September 19th, 2011

For Henry this was another week at Windsor castle.  Wednesday 21 September, as we saw in the last blog, was supposed to be the day when three knights from each county were to come to Windsor rather than to the baronial assembly at St Albans.  While there is no hard evidence about who attended either meeting, the fine rolls do contain a remarkable, and hitherto unknown, suggestion that at least two knights did come to Windsor from Norfolk. The same entry also shows that Henry’s sheriff was at least able to exercise some authority in the county.

Since the start of August  Henry’s sheriff in Norfolk and Suffolk, Philip Marmion, had been challenged by two rival ‘keepers’ set up by the earls of  Norfolk, Gloucester and other magnates.  It was said later that, as a result, he had been unable to hold  county courts. Nonetheless, during this week  the burgesses of Norwich  were willing and able to lay a complaint  before Henry III. Their grievance was against the sheriff so he evidently had control of the town and presumably its great castle.  The burgesses claimed that they had the privilege of answering directly either to the king’s judges or the exchequer for the chattels of those convicted of felony in the town. Instead, they now alleged,  the sheriff was demanding the chattels so he could answer for them himself. (The immediate issue was over the chattels of someone who had  committed suicide through drowning.)  In response to this complaint, Henry ordered the sheriff to take two local knights, William of Stalham and Stephen of Reedham, with him, and  inquire into the value of the chattels. He was then to allow the burgesses to answer for them as they requested.

How did Henry know that these two knights could be trusted at a time when his rule in Norfolk was under  the severest challenge? The most natural answer is that they had both turned up at Windsor for the parliament on 21 September.  Quite probably they had themselves brought the burgesses’ complaint.  It would be interesting to do more research on the careers of the two men. The electronic search facility to the fine rolls, here so useful, shows at once that Reedham purchased a series of writs in the 1250s and 1260s to initiate and further law cases. Stalham secured an exemption from having to sit on juries. He was certainly a leading figure in the  Norfolk for he was one of the four knights appointed under the reforms of 1258 to inquire into abuses in the county. There is also some indication that he was connected with the earl of Norfolk, Roger Bigod. If so, his attendance at Windsor may suggest the latter’s opposition to the king at this time was not root and branch.

Apart from these encouraging signs from Norfolk, the fine rolls for this week suggest little of comfort to the king. There was a decline  to a low thirteen in the number of common law writs purchased. Again, as in the week before,  not one came from Berkshire and the surrounding counties. Meanwhile, the king promised John Mansel, who was in charge of the Tower of London, to meet the  great expenses he was incurring ‘because of the dissension between the king and his barons’.

In all he was enduring, Henry had the support of his Queen Eleanor, as a writ from this week on the fine rolls shows.   On 24 September, ‘at the instance of his beloved queen’, he made a concession to Salomon l’Evesque (the bishop), a member of a Jewish family, which she often protected. (See Margaret Howell’s book Eleanor of Provence, p.277).

Towards the end of this week, Henry made the decision to leave Windsor. For where he went, see next week’s blog.

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 11 September to Saturday 18 September 1261

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Henry remained all this week at Windsor. He had heard that Simon de Montfort,  Richard de Clare, earl of Gloucester, and the bishop of Worcester, Montfort’s old friend, Walter de Cantilupe, had summoned three knights from each county to meet them at St Albans on 21 September to  discuss the common affairs of the realm.  Their aim manifestly was to rally support for the insurgency, and then perhaps to  advance on Windsor itself, not twenty-five miles away. Faced with this threat, on Sunday 11 September, Henry took action. He did not, however, bravely march out of Windsor towards St Albans  to  confront this usurpation of royal authority, which was what the summons amounted to. Instead,   he ordered, by letters, his sheriffs to ensure that  that the knights came on 21 September  to Windsor instead. There they would take part in peace negotiations between Henry and the nobles. They would see from the results, Henry averred, how he intended nothing save what would make ‘for the honour and common utility of our kingdom’.

There is much that is mysterious about  this famous episode. We do not know how the three knights were chosen in the first place, nor indeed whether any came  either to St Albans or to Windsor.  The rival summonses, however, reveal the political importance of the knights, and mark a  stage in the process by which they  appeared in  parliament.  Henry’s assembly indeed could be regarded as a parliament. So much is revealed in a letter, probably written this week, by the justiciar, Philip Basset, to the chancellor, Walter of Merton, a letter which also shows the efforts to ensure that individual barons as well  attended the royal rather than the Montfortian assembly.  Basset had learnt that Roger de Somery,  lord of Dudley in the west midlands, intended to go to St Albans if he did not receive a letter of summons from the king. He, therefore, urged Merton to get the king  to write to Somery summoning him to his forthcoming ‘parliament’. Basset added helpfully that Somery was at his manor Berkshire manor of Bradfield. Basset’s plea gives an interesting insight into  Henry’s own involvement in affairs. Basset clearly thought the decision  had to be made by the king, and that Merton, as chancellor, could not simply write on his own authority.

Philip Basset was clearly at this time not at court, and was presumably trying to uphold the king’s authority in the provinces.  Henry, himself, as we have said, had clearly decided not to go out himself to confront the rebellion. There is, however, a sign in this week that he was contemplating a move.  On 11 September, the day he wrote to the sheriffs summoning the knights to Windsor, he also ordered repairs to Oxford Castle, Woodstock, and his Northamptonshire houses at King’s Cliffe and Geddington to be ready by Michaelmas. This may indicate that Henry intended to  be there at  the end of the month.

The fine rolls of this week shed interesting light on the situation.   The number of writs purchased to initiate or further the common law legal procedures picked up from the low of the week before. They numbered a respectable thirty-two.  It is very noticeable, however, that not one of these came from  Berkshire, or from the surrounding counties of Buckinghamshire, Surrey, and Hampshire.  The one from Middlesex was cancelled because the purchaser, for an unexplained reason,  did not have the writ.  It seems highly likely that this reflects  the disintegration of royal authority in the home counties.  

One pleasure for Henry in these traumatic times was to exercise in  Windsor great park. That alone made Windsor a much more congenial a place to stay than the Tower of London.  But how secure was the park?  The fine rolls show the issue came up this week, perhaps as a result of Henry’s own inspection.  On 18 September, the constable of Windsor, was ordered to sell the alder and birch in the park, and spend the resulting money making good the defects in the park’s  enclosure.

Two Fortified Manor Houses in Northern England

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

During Henry III’s reign two fortified and moated manor houses belonging to the Foliot family of Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire played a small part in national affairs, and I have been able this summer to visit both of them and take the photographs displayed here.  It seems that they were of the kind classified by archaeologists as ‘ring works’, illustrated in the reconstruction of the one at Grimston, Notts made by Ray Straw for a publication issued by Nottinghamshire County Council in 2008.  This was the subject of one of the project’s Fines of the Month, the one for February 2009, which can be read elsewhere on this site.  It lies on the cattle farm of Sydney and Janet Carr at Wellow, near the site of the lost village of Grimston, which stood on a nearby hill in what is now the parish of Wellow.  It was built, or at least renewed, following the inheritance of the manor by the Yorkshire knight Jordan Foliot, who had served in the armies of King John during the later years of his reign.  It came to him in 1225 as part of his share of the property of his deceased uncle, Robert Bardolf.  The young Henry III and his advisors spent several nights in the manor house during 1227, 1228 and 1229, when travelling to or returning from visits to counties further north; at the time his chamber at his nearby ‘palace’ at Clipstone, a favourite hunting lodge of Henry II and John, and where the monarch usually stayed when visiting the area, was in a state of disrepair.  Among the rewards for these acts of hospitality was a grant to Jordan of a buck and eight does to stock the park he was then creating at Grimston to the north of the manor house.  Later, after Jordan’s death in 1236, the king allowed his son and heir Richard Foliot, still well under the age of 21, to inherit his father’s property immediately, allowing him to avoid the inconvenience and dangers of a long minority.  In 1252 Richard acquired from the king a charter of free warren, granting him control of hunting of the beasts of the warren on both his Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire manors.  He enjoyed his estates until his death in 1299, and in 1264, in return for his renewed adherence to the king’s cause after earlier siding with the rebels, he was granted licence to enclose the manor house at Grimston with a ditch and wall of stone and lime, and to fortify and crenellate it.  The site was later, and still is, called Jordan Castle, and the Carrs’ farm as Jordan Castle Farm.

On a lovely sunny evening in May I was invited by Sydney and Janet to tour the farm at Wellow in the company of a group of visitors from the neighbouring village of Laxton, famous for the survival of its medieval open fields.  I gave a brief talk about the manor house as part of the tour.  In August my family and I made a return visit to Fenwick, in an area of southern Yorkshire north-east of Doncaster, and not far from the former mining village of Askern, to photograph the remains of what I believe to be the original manor house of this branch of the Foliot family, and the home of Jordan Foliot before he inherited Grimston.  We had been to Fenwick before, many years before, and were given to believe that the Foliot manor house there had been on what was then the site of an old hall in the village, in a very dangerous state of disrepair and then in use as a chicken run.  Dissatisfied with this, over a long period I wished to return to have another look, and eventually came to the conclusion that a moated site marked on the map, in a corner of the parish of Fenwick a couple a miles to the south-east of the village itself, might be the right place, an opinion confirmed by its appearance on the relevant aerial photograph on Google Earth.  We were fortunate that we arrived just after the crop that had been sown in the field was harvested, because most of what was there would have been effectively concealed a few days earlier.  The site was somewhat flatter than the slightly undulating one at Grimston, but included a well-defined, roughly-rectangular moat that can be seen in the illustration.  Its relative angularity may make it inaccurate to describe it as a ringwork in the usual sense, and on a single occasion in 1272, when the sheriff of Yorkshire was ordered to seize it because Richard Foliot had harboured some notorious criminals there, it was described as a castle.  I am now happy that the twelfth-century home of the Foliot family of Fenwick, Norton and Stubbs in Yorkshire has, at last, been correctly identified.

Jordan Castle Farm, Wellow, Notts

Fenwick, Yorks

Ideas for an Opera

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Followers of the fine rolls on Twitter  will have noticed some debate at the Thirteenth Century England Conference in Aberystwyth about how to cast a feature film on Henry III and Simon de Montfort. Another question would be how to cast an opera. If  Verdi had written ‘Simon de Montfort’, it could surely have rivalled Don Carlos. My own feeling is that Henry III and Queen Eleanor should be sung by respectively a tenor and a mezzo, while Montfort should be a bass baritone and Eleanor M a soprano.  Of course, it depends what era one is taking the singers from.  I have a  fine recording of Rigoletto from around 1960, and if one transposed the cast from that, then we would have:  Montfort,  Ettore Bastianini  (the right confidence, but perhaps not the neurotic edge); Henry III, Alfredo Kraus (my favourite tenor); Queen Eleanor, Fiorenza Cossotto; and Eleanor M, Renata Scotto (my favourite soprano). But I am sure others will have better and more up to date ideas!

Henry III Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 4 September to Saturday 10 September 1261

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Henry spent all of this week at Windsor castle.  The pressure was mounting. He must have during the the week that  Simon de Montfort, Richard de Clare, earl of Gloucester, and the bishop of Worcester, had summoned three knights from each  county to meet them on 21 September at St Albans, less than twenty-five miles away. Would the upshot of that assembly be outright defiance of the king and the start of  civil war?  The parlous political situation impacted on the fine rolls. Only three writs to initiate or further the common law legal actions were purchased in this week, as opposed to thirty-six the week before.  Even allowing for problems of dating these writs exactly, this small  number  surely reflects the dangers of travelling to the king.

It is good to see that during this difficult time, Henry had with him that best of all his counsellors, John Mansel. Mansel had returned to court from  supervising the building works at his Sussex castle and endeavouring to win over to the king the hearts and minds of those in the area. On or around 8 September, he authorised a writ in favour of the Lincolnshire knight Ralph Darcy and his wife Philippa. After an investigation of their resources, they were to be given reasonable terms for the payment of the debts they owed Jews in Lincoln, Stamford and London.  Later  Ralph was turned into an outright enemy of the king by a far bigger concession over his  Jewish debts made by Simon de Montfort. What else could Henry do to shore up support in 1261, faced with the coming assembly at St Albans. Read next week’s blog.