Archive for February, 2012

Visit by King’s MA students to The National Archives

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

On Thursday 16 February, Dr Jessica Nelson hosted a visit for David Carpenter’s MA students from King’s College London at the National Archives.

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.

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 18 February to Saturday 24 February 1257

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

At the start of this week, or possibly at the end of last, Henry moved from Westminster to Windsor, going by way of Merton priory in Surrey.  On Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, his Lenten fast began, which at the very least must have meant a fish diet.   Henry  remained pre-occupied by the Sicilian project, the project that is to place Edmund, his second son, on the throne of Sicily.  In this week he gave 100 marks for the support of  Henry, the brother of the king of Castile. Henry was in England and being canvassed  as the man who might lead the army to conquer Sicily from Manfred, its Hohenstaufen ruler. In this week, King  Henry also appointed Simon de Montfort  as his ambassador to negotiate a peace with the king of France. This too was linked to the Sicilian project since, without such a peace, a passage of an English army through France on its way to Sicily would never be permitted.  Montfort was at court at Windsor during the week and, preparatory to his mission, gained permission both to make his will and to receive his inheritance in France if the king of France would grant it to him.

It is a curious week for the fine rolls because between 16 and 26 February only six items of business were enrolled upon them.  Since a new membrane was started in the course of the week and an old one finished, one wonders whether some business was lost in the transition. By far the most striking entry – the last in the image above – concerned Amice countess of Devon. On 19 February the king made her a life grant of the royal manor of Melksham in Wiltshire in return for the traditional annual payment or farm of  a little over £48. This was a generous concession because when Melksham had been valued  in 1250 its farm had been set at £140. (See CFR 1250-1, no.1107).  Amice  was a woman of the highest status.  She was the daughter of Gilbert de Clare earl of Gloucester and his wife, Isabel,  daughter of the great William Marshal, earl of Pembroke. She was the widow of Baldwin de Redvers, earl of Devon, who had died in 1245. Since then she  had resisted pressure to take a second husband. Amice was protected by Magna Carta which laid down that no widow could be made re-marry.  She was also protected by her close relationship with Queen Eleanor and her party of Savoyards. In this year,  Amice’s son and heir,  Baldwin, was to marry a daughter of the queen’s uncle Thomas of Savoy.  The gift of Melksham to Amice was made at Windsor, Eleanor’s chief base. Almost certainly she had a hand in it, as perhaps did Peter of Savoy, who was also at court this week. Doubtless Amice was there too, as she had been at the start of January, when she received a new year’s gift of  six deer from the king.  Queen Eleanor continued to keep her eye on Melksham. In 1258,  the £48 annual farm was used to support her lady Willelma, ‘who from the childhood of the queen has served her and now, wearied in that service and worn out by old age and sickness, does not wish to follow the queen, but proposes for her better quiet  to dwell in the abbey of Lacock or some other religious house’. (See p.105 of Margaret Howell’s, Eleanor of Provence).

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’

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 11 February to Saturday 17 February 1257

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Henry III spent all this week at Westminster.  At its start, the bishop of London, the bishop of Lincoln, the elect of Salisbury, Richard earl of Cornwall, and Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester all appeared at court. On 11 February Simon obtained a recognition that custody of lands in Toddington in Bedfordshire  belonged to him rather than the king. Toddington, has of course, given its name to a service station on the M1 from which there are pleasant views over surrounding fields. Simon held the manor as part of Eleanor’s dower from the lands of her first husband, William Marshal earl of Pembroke.  With major players at court, Henry now took an important decision. On Monday 12 February he sent out the writs summoning the lay and ecclesiastical magnates to  meet him in London at mid Lent (18 March).  The writs announced that Richard was to leave immediately afterwards to take up his kingship in Germany. Henry, therefore, wished to have discussion with his prelates and magnates ‘about great and arduous affairs touching ourselves and our kingdom for the common utility of you and us and all our kingdom’.  These affairs included, although it was not said, the Sicilian enterprise.  The archbishop of Messina had now arrived in England from the papal court to stir Henry into action. On 15 February Henry ordered the exchequer to give him fifteen marks to distribute to knights and others coming with messages from Sicily.  Action for Henry meant  more than anything else securing a tax from parliament. Without it there was no hope of him  ever sending an army to Sicily to wrest control of the kingdom.  Making the case for such a tax would therefore by high on the agenda of the parliament summoned for mid Lent.

The fine rolls reflect Henry’s need for taxation to fill his coffers in this  Magna Carta world. On 13 February, Henry took the homage of Henry of Lexington (or Laxton), the bishop of Lincoln, for the lands he had inherited from his elder brother, the former royal steward, John of Lexington. The bishop’s relief or inheritance tax was £5, which was strictly in accordance with  Magna Carta. This laid down £5 as the relief for a knight’s fee which was all that John held from the king. John’s estates, however, were far greater than this single fee. Orders to put the bishop in possession of John’s  properties were sent to the king’s officials in London and six counties.  A relief of much larger size might seem to have been justified but was prevented by Magna Carta. The fine rolls of this week also underlined the necessity of a tax  in another way for there were only two of the fines of gold from which, as we have seen, Henry was hoping to support his Sicilian army. If this pattern continued it would be worrying indeed.  See future blogs to find out what happened to the gold treasure.

For the bishop of Lincoln’s fine, count up eleven from bottom on the membrane and no.434 in the Calendar.

NEWS – Fine of the Month Winners Announced for 2011

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

We are delighted to announce the joint winners of the Fine of the Month competition for 2011:

Jeremy Ashbee, ‘”Gloriette” in Corfe Castle, 1260’ (FOM, July 2011)

Evyatar Marienberg, ‘The Stealing of the “Apple of Eve” from the Thirteenth-Century Synagogue of Winchester’ (FOM, December 2011)

Congratulations to both contributors for such splendid pieces and many thanks, on behalf of the Project Team, to everyone else who wrote a Fine of the Month last year.

Louise Wilkinson

Papal duplicity or not?

Thursday, February 9th, 2012
Serena Ferente, a scholar of medieval Italy, writes in response to David Carpenter’s recent post on papal duplicity…

Well, I think you are being unfair: this looks like a wonderfully smart political manoeuvre on the part of both, something that every parent must have tried with their adolescent children at one point or another (my father certainly did it, when he tricked me into believing that a debate with my mother about my wish to go on a trip to Greece would settle the matter, whereas the two of them had already conspired to say no). Innocent is not being duplicitous here, his commitment is to Charles, not his counsellors.

I have a soft spot for the Genoese and Innocent was quite a specimen of that race.

Westminster Abbey Tiles

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Richard Cassidy has kindly provided us with these superb images of some of the floor tiles from the chapter house of Westminster Abbey.

The Misplaced Concession to Philip Basset

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

David Carpenter and William Stewart-Parker write:

Readers of Henry III’s blog may recall the question of the date of the concession to Philip Basset which freed him from 60s a year  owed the king for the manor of Dymock in Gloucestershire. The concession was embodied in a writ to the exchequer dated 7 November 1256 but, puzzlingly,  was enrolled amongst material on the fine rolls dating from late January 1257. (See no.380  in the Calendar and sixteen from the top in this link . The explanation may be as follows. The original concession of Dymock to Basset had indeed been made back on 7 November 1256 (Cal. Patent Rolls 1247-58, 529).  The king was now, in January, going further and feeing him from the annual rent, but to ensure this concession ran from the date of the original grant, this was the date put on the writ sent to the exchequer.

The concession of Dymock to Basset had been made at the instance of Richard of Cornwall.  The manor had been granted by the king to Ela, countess of Warwick, but only during her widowhood. When, therefore, she married Basset a fresh concession was necessary if he was to obtain the manor.  Both the marriage and the grant of Dymock are useful reminders that not all the patronage in this period was going to Henry’s foreign relatives. Basset was conspicuously loyal during the ensuing period of reform and rebellion as readers of Henry III’s blog for 1261 may remember.

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 4 February to Saturday 10 February 1257

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

This week’s blog needs to begin with a small correction. The blog for last week stated that Henry spent the whole of that week at Windsor. I was relying here on the Itinerary of Henry III, prepared by Theodore Craib of the Public Record Office,  as found in the later edition put together by English Heritage. I failed to notice  that the latter has a mistake and gives as Henry’s itinerary for February what is in fact his itinerary for March, leaving out February altogether.  As is actually clear from the fine rolls, during the week of 28 January-3 February, Henry left Windsor and returned to Westminster.

Henry spent the whole of the week  from 4 to 10 February at Westminster.  The fine rolls show his continuing efforts to build up his gold treasure to fund the campaign to place his second son on the throne of Sicily. In this week, there were thirteen  fines made in gold, of which eight  were connected with exemptions from knighthood. The most valuable fine was produced by an alliance planned between two noble houses. On Friday 9 February, Edmund de Lacy, heir to the earldom of Lincoln,  fined in ten marks of gold (the equivalent of 100 marks of silver) for permission to marry  Henry, his son and heir,  to the eldest daughter and heir of William Longespee.  As a  result of this marriage, Henry, who was to be a leading counsellor  of King Edward I,  ultimately  became  earl of Salisbury as well as earl of Lincoln.  It might be wondered why this marriage was not snapped up by one of Henry III’s foreign relations, who dominated the court in this week. On 4 February a royal charter was witnessed by three of the king’s Poitevin half brothers (Guy and Geoffrey de Lusignan and William de Valence), by the queen’s uncle, Peter of Savoy, by two other Savoyard ministers, and not a single English magnate. The answer was that Edmund de Lacy was already part of the Savoyard circle because his wife, through the brokerage of Peter of Savoy, was Alice, daughter of the marquis of Saluzzo in North Italy and his Savoyard bride. Edmund’s mother, moreover, Margaret de Lacy, countess of Lincoln, who had played a key part in negotiating Henry’s marriage to the Longespee heiress, was  close to Queen Eleanor, as Louise Wilkinson has shown in an article about her in Historical Research.

For the image of Edmund de Lacy’s fine, count up twenty-nine entries from the bottom of the membrane on the fine roll, and see no.416 in the calendar.

Saving hard for Sicily, and hoping to accompany his brother Richard to Germany for his coronation as king of the Romans, the last thing Henry  wanted was trouble in Wales.  Yet he could no longer ignore the insurgency of the ruler of Gwynedd, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. On 10 February he issued letters of safe conduct to Llywelyn’s envoys to come and see Richard, who hoped (as Matthew Paris noted) to persuade the Welsh prince to keep quiet so as not to interfere with his departure from the kingdom. Some hope! Henry himself had done little since the start of the year to meet his growing problems. Next week’s blog will at last show him taking action.