Archive for June, 2013

Conference – New Perspectives on the Scottish Wars of Independence

Friday, June 14th, 2013

A conference, New Perspectives on the Scottish Wars of Independence, is taking place at Glasgow University on 23 August 2013. It features several speakers who have been involved in the Fine Rolls and Breaking of Britain projects. Attendance is free; registration (by 16 August) here.

New perspectives on the Scottish Wars of Independence: Scotland and the governance of England in the thirteenth century

Friday 23 August (Senate Room, Univ. of Glasgow)

9.10 Registration

9.30 Preliminaries

Part I: Government and People in Scotland and Northern England

9.45–11.15

  • Beth Hartland, ‘The People of Northern England: Cumberland, Westmorland and Northumberland, 1216–1286’.
  • David Carpenter, ‘The King’s Government in Northern England in the thirteenth century’.
  • Matthew Hammond, ‘North of the Forth in the Ragman Roll’.

11.30–12.30

  • Richard Cassidy, ‘Sheriffs, kings and rebels in Cumberland and Northumberland’.
  • Keith Stringer, ‘Scottish Royal Lordship in the Thirteenth-Century English Borders’.

Part II: English politics in Scotland

13.45–3.15

  • John Reuben Davies, ‘England in the Chronicle of Melrose’.
  • Fergus Oakes, ‘Alexander III and the Barons’ Wars’.
  • Sophie Ambler, ‘The Montfortian revolution and Scottish political thought’.

Part III: Law and the construction of Scottish independence

3.45–4.45:

  • Alice Taylor, ‘Robert I’s legal reforms, 1318’
  • Sarah Tebbit, ‘The legal context of the formulation of nationhood in early fourteenth-century Scottish texts’

4.45–5.15: Summing up (Dauvit Broun)

 

Memories of Abbot Eleurius of Pershore: by Michael Ray

Friday, June 7th, 2013

I became interested in Eleurius, who was Abbot of the Benedictine Abbey of Pershore from 1251 until 1264, when I was researching John de Plessis.  Plessis, an obscure Norman alien, became a great man through his friendship with Henry III.  At the time of the disastrous Poitou campaign of 1242/3, Thomas, earl of Warwick, died leaving his sister, Margaret, as his heiress.  She was married to John Marshal but, when he died, Margaret’s marriage was awarded to the widowed John de Plessis who became earl of Warwick in her right.  In 1253 when Margaret died childless, John was permitted to retain the lands of the earldom for life.  He should also have been allowed to keep Margaret’s Oilly barony of Hook Norton for life too.  But, following an investigation, the barony had been adjudged Terra Normanorum and the King was free to grant it in hereditary right to John so that, in time, it would pass to his son by his first marriage.  The investigation had been carried out by the escheator, the Abbot of Pershore, and the sheriff and coroners of Oxfordshire, but it is not clear why they came to their conclusion. There were still Oillys in England but perhaps they adjudged that the nearest claimant lived under the power of France.   It is clear that Eleurius was not a man who stayed in his abbey as he was a fellow curialis of Plessis.  They witnessed charters together in September 1251 and August 1252 and the Abbot witnessed a further eight charters before February 1253. It looks as though royal pressure brought the “right result”.

Abbot Eleurius received more attention in 2012 when David Carpenter, in a paper in the English Historical Review (vol. CXXVII, no. 529, 1343-66), showed that Eleurius was originally a monk from Fécamp Abbey in Normandy who had come to England to manage the abbey’s estates but had entered royal service.  From 1238 he was prior of Fécamp’s priory of Cogges in Oxfordshire.   He may have been responsible for the text of the Flores Historiarum and tried to pursue a middle-of-the-road approach during the upheavals of the period of Baronial Reform.

Passing through Pershore last week, I decided to see if there were any memories of Eleurius.  The Abbey was badly damaged by fire in 1223 and needed rebuilding and there was another fire in 1288.  The only abbatial tomb dates from around 1476 but, in the south aisle, there are two large windows of 1870.  Designed by Canon Wickenden and created by Hardman and Co, they contain fifty-two scenes of the history of Pershore and the Abbey.  One shows Eleurius preaching the crusade to Llywelyn ap Gruffydd.  The quarter-changed red and gold arms with passant lions are held as a banner borne by an armoured knight and set into the ogival head.  Eleurius, in a black robe, is represented in a standing position with another monk before the enthroned red-robed prince who has a page with a hunting hound at his feet.  ( An image of the window can be seen here.)

The Crusade

David Carpenter writes that the Leland Pershore version of the Flores tells how ‘a monk of Fécamp’ became ‘escheator of the king of England over all of England this side of the river Trent’ and, in 1255, he was then sent ‘through all Wales on the business of the crusade and the tenth conceded to the king’, being ‘received by Llywelyn, Prince of North Wales, and other magnates of the same land everywhere honourably’.  David notes that the praise of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in the Pershore Flores for 1257 echoes Matthew Paris’s sentiments (CM, v. 646–7) and wonders whether it also echoes Eleurius’s views.   In turn, I wonder why Eleurius was chosen to press Llywelyn to become a crusader.  Eleurius was a Welsh name and perhaps he came originally from Wales and had the benefit of being Welsh-speaking.

The Fine Rolls have many entries relating to Eleurius, as Abbot of Pershore, beginning with one in April 1251 enabling Brother Eleurius to have custody of the Abbey, having agreed to pay 132 marks.  His position at court is further confirmed as, in July that year, he authorised the seisin of land in Berkshire and, by  August, he was acting as the King’s escheator in a number of cases.  There are many references to Eleurius in this position throughout the rest of 1251, 1252, 1253, 1254 and 1255.  In September 1255, Eleurius is referred to as ‘sometime King’s escheator’.  In November 1252, for a mere half of a mark, he was granted a royal charter for a market and fair at Pershore.  Then, in 1256, he was pardoned of £19 which he had received of the fines and perquisites of the pleas made before him while he had custody of the king’s manors when he was king’s escheator.  This is the last entry referring to Eleurius.  But even before he became Abbot of Pershore, Eleurius is found in the Fine Rolls.  In January 1248, as Prior of Cogges, he was excused two marks which was due for default before Justice Thirkleby.

 

Michael Ray

Andrew Bukerel’s fine – a note from Ian Stone

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Ian Stone is a research student at King’s College London, working on producing a critical edition of the Liber de Antiquis Legibus, a thirteenth century manuscript written and compiled in London. Ian writes about a discovery in the fine rolls:

As an undergraduate interested in medieval London, I recall reading Gwyn Williams’s study of the capital in the `long thirteenth century`.  I was mesmerised.  Since then, many of Williams’s conclusions have been challenged, but that should not detract from the quality of his writing.  Above all, he had an ability to bring the energy and drive of London in the thirteenth century to the page.  Simply put, it made me want to know more.

So it was that, whilst studying for my MA, I decided to research one of the most prominent families in his work: the Bukerels of London, after whom the road Bucklersbury in the City of London takes its name.  Like any good student of the thirteenth century, my research began with the records – and of course, the Fine Rolls of Henry III are now the most accessible of all of those records.  As one would expect, a family which provided London with at least six sheriffs, five aldermen, two royal chamberlains and one mayor frequently appears in the chancery records.  One of the most enigmatic entries was that to be found on the Fine Roll in November 1221 relating to Andrew Bukerel.  Andrew was the eldest son of Andrew and Idonea Bukerel.  By 1220 he was Henry III’s royal chamberlain in London, responsible for supplying the court with wine, spices, wax and other luxury items.  So close in fact were his links to the court, that he’d actually helped to cover the costs of Henry’s second coronation at Westminster.

In November 1221, we learn that Andrew had fined 4,000 marks with the king, and that his pledges included several noteworthy people, perhaps most interestingly, Hubert de Burgh, the justiciar and effectively regent of the kingdom.  We are not told what this enormous fine was for; it took some further enquiry for me to learn that it was to hold more office – this time as Warden of the Exchanges at London and Canterbury for three years.  This lucrative role would have placed Andrew in charge of the exchange of all the silver coming into the country at these two places.  No wonder the fine was so great.

What this entry on the Fine Roll did show, however, was the company that Andrew was keeping.  Aside from Hubert, his other pledges are five leading citizens of London, including his brother, and later heir, Thomas.  What is clear, then, from this entry is that already by 1221 Andrew was extremely well connected in London.  This must have helped his later career.  He was an alderman of Cripplegate Ward in London.  He was later to serve as sheriff for two years, and mayor for almost six years.  Only three men have ever served as mayor, consecutively, for a longer period.  What we can see in 1221 is that these bonds of connection between leading citizens in London were already formed, and working in one of their interests.

What it further shows is just how close Andrew was to the real power at court, Hubert de Burgh.  This fine was subsequently cancelled, for which no reason was ever given.  One is given to wonder what role Hubert might have really been playing in all this.  Did he cancel the fine, in return for some of the profits of the exchanges of which Andrew was master?  This sort of shady deal would, of course, be one that would be kept hidden from the records.  Every trace of this fine could, however, not be removed from view, and in this one brief entry, there is much to provoke further historical enquiry.