Archive for November, 2012

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).

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

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

King Henry spent the first part of this week at Windsor, and then moved to Guildford before returning to Westminster at the end of the month.   In this week,  there is an entry on the fine rolls which foreshadows the terrible famine which was to sweep England in the summer of 1258.  By November, the failure of the 1257 harvest had long been clear. Grain prices were already more than double their normal level, and everyone knew that worse was to come.   The three serjeants in the garrison of  Windsor castle evidently complained to the king about the difficulties this was causing  them, all the more so because at this time a block had been placed on their wages.  This emerges in the concession the king made to them on Thursday 15 November after he arrived at  Guildford (no.60 in the translation and three from the bottom).

The concession was made on account of the ‘caritudo’ of the current year,  ‘caritudo’ here meaning  ‘dearth’, and hence ‘dearness’ in the sense of  high prices.  Because of this,  Henry said he would allow the serjeants a delay till the following Michalemas (or longer if he thought it expedient) in repaying a debt which they owed the exchequer. The debt was for 150s owed for a prest, that is a loan, made to the serjeants in advance of their wages when the king was in Gascony in 1253-1254.  The exchequer was also now to pay them the arrears of their wages which had been withheld because they had not paid the debt.  Each of the serjeants received a wage of 6d a day, where 1.5 pennies a day was the pay at this time of a labourer working on Westminster abbey.  Provided they could unlock their wages, the serjeants  would probably be alright in the famine.  Many people were much less well off.  By the spring of 1258, thousands who had flocked to London in search of food were dying of starvation.  In the counties the same situation prevailed. Indeed, so many were dying that the government allowed bodies to be buried without view of the coroners. The great famine provided the context for the political revolution of 1258.

 

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

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

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Henry’s itinerary for this week is revealed in the dating clauses of the writs enrolled on the fine rolls.

Henry began the week at Westminster and then went to Windsor.  In the fine roll business, one item stands out. This is the fine  (37 down in the above image and no.37 in the translation)  made by the baron, Peter de Maulay, lord of Doncaster and other lands in Yorkshire. Peter offered 60 marks (so £40) to be pardoned Henry’s indignation and rancour. He had incurred this through failing  either to muster personally or to send his due quota of knights to the king’s recent expedition to Wales. As a result, the sheriff of Yorkshire had been ordered to take his lands into the king’s hands. These were now to be restored to him.  Henry was arguably well within his rights in seizing Peter’s lands. After all,  Peter had failed in the most basic obligation of a baron, namely to provide the military service due from his barony.  It would be interesting to know, however, whether the seizure was ordered after some kind of ‘judgement by peers’ had been given against Peter. After all, Magna Carta had laid down that no one was to be disseised save by ‘the lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land’.  If there was no judgement, was Henry covered by the ‘law of the land’, which might be thought to sanction seizure when there was so blatant and basic a failure to fulfil  obligations?  The episode shows the power of Henry’s kingship when he chose to exercise it, for Peter was brought to heel and forced to offer his fine of 60 marks. On the other hand, the amount was hardly very large and one can imagine King John being far more punitive.  Henry himself,  admittedly for very different offences, had been far more punitive himself  in his treatment, at this time,  of John de Balliol and Robert de Ros for which see the fine of the month for last August.

This was not the first time Peter de Maulay had been in trouble with the king.  In January 1254, while in Gascony, Henry had sent a furious letter home to the queen, his regent in England (Close Rolls 12534, p.295). This complained that Peter had come out to Gascony late, and then done more harm than good. Indeed, he had insulted the king to his face, and tried to undermined the allegiance of  ‘the faithful men of England’  by persuading them to return home. Having, nonetheless, been placed in charge of fifty knights,  forming the king’s body guard, Peter  had gone off  without leave, placing the king in great peril. The queen and the home government were, therefore, ordered to ‘pay him back as you think expedient’. Given the depth of Henry’s anger, this seems a fairly mind form of punishment, and perhaps voices were already being raised on Peter’s behalf.  In the event, the letter was not sent, and Peter was soon back in favour. The storm in 1257 seems similarly to have passed away. Peter remained loyal during the subsequent civil war.  There are signs he was in financial difficulties, which perhaps explain why, in November 1258, he leased Doncaster and other properties for ten years to Simon de Montfort (Cal.Patent Rolls 1258-66, p.5)  Perhaps  Peter did not find  the great earl an altogether congenial tenant.

Peter de Maulay’s father, Peter de Maulay I,  had been one of King John’s most notorious foreign imports.  The reputed murderer of Arthur, his marriage to the Doncaster heiress had been one of the episodes which lay behind Magna Carta’s stipulation that heirs should not be ‘disparaged’ by being married to someone of a lower social class.  Henry III’s allegation that Peter de Maulay II, in Gascony, had tried to undermine the allegiance of the ‘fideles Angliae’,  suggests that he was now fully accepted as one of their number. Peter de Maulays were to continue, one after the other, as lords of Doncaster all the way down to 1438. A great deal about Peter de  Maulay I, may be found in N. Vincent’s Peter des Roches and D.A. Carpenter’s Minority of Henry III.

About another person making a fine  this week, much is known, although we are now at the level not of the baronage, but of the country gentry. Again, as in so much else, there is a Magna Carta angle. In the fine 27 down in the above image, and 27 in the translation, Thomas de Hotot offered one mark of gold (worth 10 marks of silver) to be exempted from assizes, which meant essentially he did not have to appear on juries. Thomas was lord of Clopton in Northamptonshire, and other properties, many of them acquired by his father Richard. It was Thomas who put together and partly wrote a fascinating register which contains  a family history,  surveys of  land, and records of  acquisitions. The register shows how politically aware were gentry lords for it also contained a text of the 1225 Magna Carta and the 1217 charter of the forest, as well as the charters in which King John made the kingdom a papal fief. The register is printed in A Northamptonshire Miscellany, ed. E. King (Northamptonshire Record society, xxxii, 1983).  The fine itself to be exempted from juries adds a little to our picture of Thomas’s world.  He had to come (or send) twice to court in connection with it.  The initial fine was made on 4 November 1257 at Westminster, while payment, (as a note  added to the fine shows)  was made to Peter de Rivallis, keeper of the wardrobe, at Windsor in the following January. It is a testimony to the business sense we see in the register, that Thomas paid in the whole of the one mark of gold in January, although only half was due then, the other half being due at Easter.

Thomas’s fine of gold shows that Henry was still trying to build up a gold treasure to finance the army which would help him conquer Sicily, a vain ambition if ever there was one, for which see the fine of the month for February 2012.

The ambition had recently become even vainer  because, while Henry was still receiving gold for his treasure, he was also spending it at a far quicker rate.  He had no alternative given his financial problems.  In order to spend it, Henry came up with a brilliant idea or so he thought. He would turn his treasure into his own gold coinage, the first minted in England since the Norman Conquest. The gold coin weighed two silver pennies,  and thus was worth twenty pence of silver. Unfortunately, the new coinage proved extremely unpopular.  In response, on Sunday 4 November, Henry summoned the mayor and citizens of London to come before him at the exchequer. He charged them on their allegiance to say if the new coinage was ‘of value for the common benefit of the kingdom or not’. The answer was that it was not!  This was partly because it was irrelevant for poor people whose total wealth was not worth one gold penny. It was also because (and here the goldsmith lobby spoke) because the sudden appearance of so much gold, as the king broke into his treasure to pay his expenses, was bringing down the value of the metal.  Henry, defiant, said he still wished the coinage to run, but it was not a success, which is why so few of his gold coins survive, making it the most valuable British coin at auction. The penny shows Henry sitting elegantly on his throne, crowned and holding orb and sceptre. As so often in Henry’s kingship, there was a glaring contrast between image and reality.

For an image of one of the coins, click here.

 

 

 

Henry III Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 28 October to Sunday 4 November 1257

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

King Henry III spent all this week at Westminster.  On Sunday 28 October, his forty-second regnal year opened, Henry having been crowned at Gloucester on 28 October 1216. The new regnal year meant that the chancery clerks had to begin a fresh set off rolls.  If one clicks here,  one can see the first membrane of the fine roll for the forty-second year.

Evidently, a space has been left for a big heading in capitals,  such as is found early in the reign, which would have proclaimed that this was ‘The Roll of Fines for the forty-second year of King Henry son of King John’. The clerk, however, could not be bothered with that and contented  himself with writing in a tiny hand ‘fines anni xlii’, leaving blank space all around.  One is tempted to think that this reflects the low morale of the chancery staff as Henry’s rule became more and more ineffective and contentious. No one, however, could have foreseen that by the end of the regnal year a revolution would have stripped the king of power.

The week in the fine rolls had many points of interest, but one may be singled out. The question is often raised as to just how valuable the chancery rolls were as records of royal government. Were they ever consulted to see what the king had done? Entry no. 18 from this week provides an example of when they were.  (This is eighteen entries down in the image above). It shows  the king informing the exchequer that, ‘having inspected the rolls of the chancery’, he has found that Master Roger de Cantilupe ‘had quittance of the common summons before the justices of common pleas in their last eyre in Somerset’. What this means is that Roger had been let off appearing before the justices on the first day of their business in Somerset in answer to the general summons sent round for people to attend. Accordingly, the king went on, Roger was to be pardoned the amercement of one mark imposed on him by the justices for his ‘default’ in  not turning up.   The actual record showing Roger’s exemption is  found on the close rolls for Henry III’s fortieth year, being on the dorse of membrane 19 (Close Rolls 1254-6, p.380), so quite a considerable search must have been necessary to find it.

The fine rolls for this week, under 1 November, also record the king’s grant to Elyas Marshal of land in Alton in Hampshire. Probably this was put on the fine rolls so as to inform the exchequer, through the originalia roll (the copy of the fine roll  sent the exchequer)   of the rent which Elyas was  to pay.  The ‘in the roll’ annotation to the entry made by our editors (no.17 in the translation ) shows that  there was such an annotation on the originalia roll. This would have been made by the exchequer and indicated it had put the debt into the pipe roll, the record of the annual audit of money owed the crown.  The charter corresponding to the entry likewise bears the date 1 November. It has an interesting witness list which shows those who were soon to make the revolution were not outsiders and strangers to the court. It is headed by Roger Bigod earl of Norfolk, and also includes his brother Hugh Bigod, who were both to be leading revolutionaries.  It also features the king’s half brother, William de Valence, whom the revolution was to expel from England.  Two foreign courtiers, the Savoyard steward, Imbert Pugeys and butler, William de Sancta Ermina (another to be expelled) featured alongside two native stewards, John and William de Grey. One puzzle  concerns John de Warenne, who was earl of Surrey. Why in the witness lists here (as elsewhere)  is he not given the title of ‘earl’?

Next week, Henry has humiliating news about his gold coinage.