Archive for January, 2014

Scotland and sterling: Henry III’s solution

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Interchangeable long-cross pennies from England and Scotland

Could an independent Scotland continue to use sterling? This question was asked yesterday by the Governor of the Bank of England. It was also addressed slightly earlier, by Henry III.

In 1247, England adopted a new design for its only coin, the silver penny. This design, with a long cross (allegedly to deter clipping), was followed by Scotland for its pennies a few years later. In July 1251, Henry III wrote to all the sheriffs in England, telling them to proclaim that no Scottish money, or any other money apart from the king’s new money, should henceforth be allowed to circulate. Diversity of money in the kingdom would be damaging for both natives and foreigners, and other coins would not be of the same value as the king’s money. (Close Rolls 1247-51, 549)

In November 1253, Henry wrote to Alexander III of Scotland. He told Alexander that assays had shown that the silver content of the new Scottish money was not as high as in English money. He asked that Scottish money should be reformed without delay to conform with English money, otherwise he would not allow Scottish money to circulate in England. (Close Rolls 1253-54, 2)

This was apparently done, and Scottish long-cross pennies have a silver content closely in line with English coins. English coins continued to circulate in Scotland, and Scottish coins in England. A thorough mix of coinages has been found in coin hoards, which ‘indicates the operation of a Sterling Trading Area.’ (D.M. Metcalf (ed.), Coinage in Medieval Scotland (1100-1600), 76, 90)

Sunday 27 January, 1264: two kings, two saints, and two castles

Sunday, January 26th, 2014
Henry and Louis

Henry III meets Louis IX in 1259. British Library MS Royal 16 G VI.

Henry III spent another week in Amiens, and was at last rewarded when Louis IX delivered his verdict on the competing cases put to him by the king and his baronial opponents. This decision, known as the Mise of Amiens, was announced on 23 January.1

The Mise begins with letters from the royal and baronial parties, written in December 1263, submitting their differences to Louis for his arbitration, and swearing to abide by his decision. The letters describe their dispute as concerning ‘the provisions, ordinances, statutes and all other obligations of Oxford.’ Louis then states that he had heard and understood both cases, and gives his conclusions: the provisions had harmed the rights and honour of the king, and disturbed the realm; Louis quashed and invalidated the provisions, as the pope had already done; all castles should be restored to the king; the king should appoint and dismiss his officials as he wished; foreigners should be allowed to stay in the realm, and to provide counsel to the king; the king should have full power and free authority in his kingdom, as he did before the provisions, subject to the charters and liberties which were in force before the provisions; and the king and the barons should be reconciled.

Louis had effectively awarded Henry everything he wanted (apart from his financial demands). The Mise turned the clock back to 1258, before the Provisions of Oxford, although it retained Magna Carta and the forest charter as limits to the king’s power.

Two saints

Henry led his own delegation to Amiens, to put his case in person to his fellow-monarch. The barons’ leader, Simon de Montfort, being detained in England by a broken leg, the baronial side was represented by William Marshal, Adam of Newmarket, Peter de Montfort and Thomas de Cantilupe. Cantilupe may well have drafted the baronial statement. He was an intellectual from an aristocratic background, a former chancellor of Oxford university. He was briefly to become Chancellor for the de Montfort regime, and from 1275 bishop of Hereford. Cantilupe died in 1282. Many miracles were attributed to him, including the resuscitation of a hanged man, and he was canonized in 1320. The Mise of Amiens was thus delivered by the future Saint Louis, rejecting the arguments of the future Saint Thomas of Hereford.2

Two castles

The Chancery at home was still quiet, with few fines or writs to record. But there were indications that, despite the apparent settlement announced at Amiens, the royalist party in England was continuing to prepare for hostilities.

On 20 January, an order was issued at Windsor by Edward, the king’s son, and Henry of Almain, son of Richard of Cornwall. This would seem to indicate that Edward had returned from France before the mise. (Or that he had not actually accompanied his father – could the chronicler who reported his presence on their rough sea voyage, noted on 6 January, have meant Edmund rather than Edward?) Roger of Leybourne, as sheriff of Kent, was to pay  200 marks to himself, in one of his other roles, as constable of Rochester castle. He was to equip the castle ‘and do other things enjoined on him.’3

On 26 January, the Exchequer carried out the audit of the accounts of Alan la Zuche, sheriff of Northampton. The completion of the sheriff’s accounting, the sum, was later deferred because he was detained on the king’s arduous business’. This included the provision of munitions for Northampton castle. He was instructed to spend whatever was reasonably necessary, and the inspectors of the works told the Exchequer that he had spent £110, out of the county’s revenues. He had to wait for this account to be settled. A writ to cover this expenditure of £110 was issued in January 1267, and the amount was included in his authorized expenditure for 1263-64, when he finally came to account in the 1266 pipe roll.4

Both Rochester and Northampton castles were to play significant roles in the next few months.

  1. Documents of the Baronial Movement, no. 38.
  2. R.C. Finucane, ‘Cantilupe, Thomas de [St Thomas of Hereford] (c. 1220-1282)’, ODNB. Robert Bartlett, The Hanged Man.
  3. CLR 1260-67, 131.
  4. E 159/38 m. 7, 4d. CLR 1260-67, 256. E 372/110 rot. 3.

Sunday 20 January 1264: bishops and barons

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Henry III spent the week in Amiens, awaiting Louis IX’s decision on the cases submitted by the king and his opponents. Back in England, the Exchequer was getting busier, as Hilary term began. On 14 January, the morrow of Hilary, the Exchequer audited the accounts of John Lovel, sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, for the previous year. His accounts appear in the 1263 pipe roll, showing that at this stage of the year the routine of accounting and auditing was still functioning.1

MParis inverted mitreAlso in England, the Chancery produced an odd entry in the fine roll. This entry was dated 20 January, witnessed by the king’s brother Richard of Cornwall, but cancelled before transmission to the Exchequer on the originalia roll. It said that the vacant bishopric of Bath and Wells was to be committed to James Fresel, to administer it and account for its revenues. The Chancery seems to have been a little premature: the bishop of Bath and Wells, William Button (sometimes known as William of Bitton) was still alive. He actually died on 3 April 1264. On 9 April, the vacant bishopric was committed to William of Axmouth, and this time the appointment was duly recorded in the fine roll and the originalia roll. The canons of Wells and monks of Bath formally informed the king of Button’s death on 15 April, and were given licence to elect a successor. The new bishop, Walter Giffard, was elected on 22 May (just after the battle of Lewes), but there was then a delay in receiving confirmation from the archbishop, Boniface of Savoy, who was abroad and not inclined to co-operate with de Montfort’s new regime. As a result, the see remained in the hands of William of Axmouth until 1 September. When Axmouth accounted, in the 1264 pipe roll, he recorded revenues of £245. After some minor expenses, he paid £203 into the king’s wardrobe, and owed a further £35. This amount was still outstanding sixty years later, as was noted in the 1325 pipe roll.2

The vacancy at Bath thus produced a small but useful contribution to government income. Some vacancies lasted longer, and in rich sees could provide the government with a windfall addition to its resources. When Winchester was vacant from June 1238 to September 1244, it contributed £17,600 net receipts. The potential for abuse, by prolonging vacancies and wasting sees’ resources, was, as it happens, the first example of the ‘grievances which oppressed the land of England’ listed by the barons in their submission to Louis IX.3

These grievances began by claiming that the king had been whittling away the inviolable liberties granted in the charters, and giving examples: ecclesiastical vacancies, as we have seen; the abuse of wardships and escheats; the perversion of justice to favour aliens and courtiers; forcing tenants to perform undue and uncustomary services; excessive prises; oppressive sheriffs; grants and fees for courtiers and aliens; the diversion of the crusade into the Sicilian venture, and the waste of money extorted from the church. The barons continued: the king had agreed that a council should reform the realm, and sworn to abide by its decisions. The council had committed castles to faithful Englishmen, and made provisions for reform, which the king and his brother had sworn to observe. The barons and the community of the realm ask Louis to approve these provisions and ensure that they are observed. The barons’ case then goes on to justify the actions of the council, such as the appointments which had been attacked in the king’s case (as we saw last week). It ends by listing the king’s breaches of the truce, including the imposition of sheriffs such as Roger of Leybourne in Kent, and Roger Mortimer’s attacks on the Herefordshire manors of Simon de Montfort.

Next week, both sides would find out what Louis IX thought about their opposing views.

A discovery about 1264

You might think that we already know everything there is to know about such a well-studied year as 1264, and that all the significant documents have already been published. Not so: Ian Stone has found the text of the oath of mutual support, sworn by the commune of London and the rebel barons, just six weeks before the battle of Lewes. He has written an article, to be published in English Historical Review; it has just been made available for advance access online. The abstract is here on the EHR site, with links to the full text for those with online access.

Department of silly names

The close roll records a writ on 14 January concerning a prisoner ‘in prisona regis de Halfnaked’.’ Which is now Halnaker, in Sussex, as one can see from The Historical Gazetteer of England’s Place-names, a valuable resource which has recently appeared online.


  1. The memoranda roll records the way in which the date was set for Lovel to account (E 159/38 m. 7) and the list of debts (E 159/38 m. 11d). The resulting accounts are in the pipe roll, E 372/107 m. 4d.
  2. CFR 1263-64, nos. 65 and 93. An image of the cancelled fine is here. David Gary Shaw, ‘Button, William (d. 1264)’, ODNB‘Bishops’, Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066-1300: volume 7: Bath and Wells (2001), 1-6. Axmouth’s account: E 372/108, rot. 15; outstanding debt in E 372/170 rot. 29d. [The marginal illustration is of course an inverted mitre and crozier, as used by Matthew Paris to note the death of a bishop.]
  3. Margaret Howell, Regalian Right in Medieval England, 229. The barons’ case is in Documents of the Baronial Movement, documents 37C and 37B (in that order – see Robert C. Stacey, ‘Crusades, crusaders and the baronial gravamina of 1263-64’, in Thirteenth Century England III).


Sunday 13 January 1264: Peter of Savoy, and Henry’s complaints

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

There was still little routine business being conducted in England this week – the Exchequer term did not begin until 14 January, and the Chancery recorded only seven small fines under 7 January. In France, Henry had moved to Amiens, for the process of arbitration by Louis IX. The clerks keeping the patent roll in France  noted a few writs. One of these was relevant to the case which Henry was putting forward: Guichard de Charrun, to whom the king had committed Peter of Savoy’s lands in the honour of Richmond, was to pay Peter the revenues from these lands; Peter was also to receive the revenues of his lands in Sussex.1

Richmond castle, part of Peter of Savoy’s estates

Richmond castle, part of Peter of Savoy’s estates

Peter of Savoy was the uncle of queen Eleanor. He had come to England in 1240, and received an extravagant welcome, including the grant of the lordship of Richmond in Yorkshire and the honour of Aigle in Sussex.  His brother Boniface became archbishop of Canterbury. Peter was one of the magnates who led the original coup against Henry III’s rule in 1258, but soon drifted away from the reform movement. He became increasingly preoccupied with his interests in Savoy, particularly after being recognized as count in June 1263, but he was with Henry and Eleanor in Boulogne in September-October 1263, at the time of an earlier attempt at arbitration by Louis IX. While Peter was in Savoy, in the summer of 1263, his estates were among those singled out for attack in the wave of disorder which swept across England following the return of Simon de Montfort. Several marcher lords and Roger of Leybourne formed a loose coalition with de Montfort. Their immediate targets were aliens, royalists and courtiers, and in particular the Savoyard relatives of the queen. The victims  included Peter of Aigueblanche, the Savoyard bishop of Hereford, Robert Walerand, John Mansel, and Boniface and Peter of Savoy. Their estates were occupied and looted.2

When the coalition fell apart, and the marchers and Leybourne turned against de Montfort, Henry recovered control of the civil service. He began to issue writs, demanding the return of the plundered estates to their rightful owners. In November 1263, Peter of Savoy’s land and castles, ‘lately occupied by some persons by occasion of the disturbance of the realm’,  were committed to Guichard de Charrun. Charrun was Peter of Savoy’s steward, which must have been a demanding post: he had to recover control of Peter’s extensive estates, and deliver their income to their absentee landlord, who was using his English revenues to build up his family’s domination of what is now western Switzerland. Charrun evidently had some success in taking back Peter’s possessions, for in March 1265 he was holding Richmond castle, despite the orders of de Montfort’s government that he should surrender it. After de Montfort’s defeat, in September 1265, all Peter of Savoy’s possessions were restored to him, and again committed to Charrun. Charrun later became sheriff of Northumberland.3

The influence of aliens, and the excessive favours which Henry III granted to them, were among the factors fuelling the discontent in England. Simon de Montfort, despite being a Frenchman, had made use of this anti-alien sentiment. When the reform movement began in 1258, the Petition of the Barons called for royal castles to be committed to faithful subjects born in England, and for women whose marriage was in the king’s gift not to be disparaged by marriage to foreigners. The sentiment against foreigners widened in scope, and it became one of the demands of Henry’s opponents that sheriffs, castellans and holders of other key posts should be Englishmen, and that aliens should be excluded from the king’s council. For Henry, this was an unacceptable limitation on his freedom of action. His freedom to make appointments, and the attacks on the property of his supporters, were key points in the statement of his case which was submitted to Louis for arbitration.4

This statement took the form of a set of complaints (gravamina) and a demand for damages, as if Henry was bringing a law suit against his opponents. Henry said that the council nominated by the barons appointed the chief justiciar, chancellor, treasurer, sheriffs, justices, castellans and stewards of the royal household; the king and his ancestors had been accustomed to appointing and removing these officials at their own pleasure. The council had taken away his right to monitor and correct the activities of his ministers. The castles and properties of the king, his family and supporters had been attacked and plundered. Henry asked for compensation and damages totalling £433,000 – a vast sum, equivalent to perhaps ten or fifteen years’ government revenues in normal times. And he asked king Louis to quash and invalidate the provisions upon which his opponents based their case – that is, to overthrow the reforming measures which were loosely known as the Provisions of Oxford, and which Henry had promised to uphold only a few weeks before.

  1. CPR 1258-66, 377.
  2. Nicholas Vincent, ‘Savoy, Peter of, count of Savoy and de facto earl of Richmond (1203?– 1268)’, ODNB. J.R. Maddicott, Simon de Montfort, 225-9. Peter’s presence in Boulogne in 1263 is mentioned in the Dover chronicle: Gervase of Canterbury, II, 225.
  3. CPR 1258-66, 297, 301, 410, 452. Close Rolls 1261-64, 369-70. Close Rolls 1264-68, 101-2. Charrun is mentioned as Peter’s steward in July 1262: CPR 1258-66, 218.
  4. R.F. Treharne, ‘The Mise of Amiens, 23 January 1264’, in Studies in Medieval History Presented to F.M. Powicke. D.A. Carpenter, ‘King Henry III’s statute against aliens: July 1263’, in The Reign of Henry III. The Petition of the Barons is document 3, and Henry’s submission document 37A, in Documents of the Baronial Movement.



Sunday 6 January 1264: seasickness and control of Kent

Sunday, January 5th, 2014
MParis Henry III in boat

Henry III on an earlier crossing to Brittany, by Matthew Paris.

Henry III spent most of the first week of 1264 in Boulogne. It appears that he had had a rough crossing to France. The Dunstable chronicler said that Henry went overseas with the lord Edward; when they were in the middle of the sea, a terrible great tempest arose, so that Edward made many vows, though fear, and they reached Wissant with great difficulty. Henry wrote to Louis IX on Saturday 5 January, apologizing that he would be unable to meet him at Amiens on the following Tuesday, because of ‘the feebleness of our body and the labours we have undergone for some time, both by sea and by land.’ Henry’s younger son Edmund was also suffering: Henry undertook to pay up to £100 (in money of Paris) to the abbey of St Mary in Boulogne, for the expenses of Edmund who was staying at the abbey while he was ill.1

Little routine business was conducted. The patent roll kept with the king in France recorded that Roger of Leybourne had been appointed sheriff of Kent. Leybourne was a Kent landowner, who had been associated with the lord Edward and the marcher lords. He had joined the marchers in the disorders of 1263, then been won over, with them, to the king’s side in the autumn of that year. He was to prove a consistent royalist from then on, fighting for the king at Lewes, then leading the pacification of the south-east after the royalist victory at Evesham.2

Leybourne’s appointment as sheriff had already been noted on the fine roll in December, when he was given a string of posts in the south-east: he was warden of the Cinque Ports, chamberlain of Sandwich, keeper of the hundred of Milton and the seven hundreds of the Weald, and keeper of the Dover ferry, or crossing (passagium).3 He had earlier been appointed as a steward of the royal household, and seems to have retained this role.4 But the key position in Kent was still not within the king’s gift. Dover castle remained in the hands of the Montfortians. It had been committed to Richard de Grey when de Montfort took control of government in the summer of 1263. Even though Henry had recovered much of his power since then, he was still not in command of the castle. This had been made only too clear when he was refused entry in December 1263. He would try again when he returned from France.

Back in England, the administration seems to have been at a standstill. The fine roll has a large blank space after the entries for 23 and 24 December (see the image here). There is then the heading for fines made after the king’s departure from Windsor castle on 23 December, but the first fine attested by earl Richard was not made until 7 January. There are similar gaps in the close roll  – a heading for the king’s crossing overseas, then the next entry on 8 January – and in the patent roll kept in England, where there are no entries until 11 January.5

  1. Ann Mon, III, 227; CPR 1258-66, 376.
  2. Kathryn Faulkner, ‘Leybourne , Sir Roger of (c.1215–1271)’, ODNB
  3. CFR 1263-64, nos. 37, 38, 42, 255, 256. Leybourne accounted as sheriff of Kent for the first half of 1263-64 (E 372/109 rot. 9d). Several of Leybourne’s numerous roles were recorded in the patent roll on 5 December, and he was also appointed keeper of the county on December 24: CPR 1258-66, 300, 358.
  4. Leybourne was apparently appointed steward on 15 August 1263, when de Montfort controlled such appointments (Gervase of Canterbury, II, 224), and Leybourne retained the post when he came over to the king’s side, still being mentioned in this role in January 1264 (Close Rolls 1261-64, 333).
  5. Close Rolls 1261-64, 333; CPR 1258-66, 305.

1264: the blog begins

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014
Henry III versus Simon de Montfort, from the British Library manuscript Royal 16 G VI, Chroniques de France ou de St Denis, after 1332, before 1350

Henry III versus Simon de Montfort, from the British Library manuscript Royal 16 G VI, Chroniques de France ou de St Denis, after 1332, before 1350

This illustration from a French chronicle gives an attractively simplified view of the Barons’ War.  The reality was rather more complex than a mounted combat between Henry III and Simon de Montfort, picturesque as that might appear. This year, 2014, could be a good opportunity to take a closer look at events, week by week. The 750th anniversary of the battle of Lewes, and the other events of 1264, seem worth remembering, even if likely to be overshadowed by other anniversaries this year and next.

David Carpenter’s blogs for 1257 and 1261 showed how much material is available, in the fine rolls and other records of this period, to build up a detailed account. Those years were chosen because their calendars largely coincided with the years when the blogs appeared. Of course, 1264 was a leap year, and 2014 isn’t; but the calendars do align from 1 March onwards, with Easter day falling on 20 April in both years. And 1264 should provide plenty of material for a blog: Louis IX of France’s attempt at mediation, in the mise of Amiens; the drift towards all-out war; the initial royal success at Northampton; de Montfort’s victory at Lewes, and the captivity of the king; the queen massing an invasion force in France, and the popular response in defence of England’s shores; a new constitution, establishing rule by a small council, with the king as a figurehead; the papal legate’s attempts to intervene; and the war in the Welsh Marches, ending with the marchers’ submission and agreement to go into exile.

Comments and corrections would be welcome. Contributions on any aspect of the year would be even more welcome. In the absence of volunteers, arms will be twisted …


MParis heading

When the year began, king Henry was in France, or on his way there.1 Henry was heading for Amiens, where Louis IX was to consider the submissions of the king and his baronial opponents, and deliver his judgment on their conflicting claims. Queen Eleanor was already in France, having stayed there after Henry’s previous meeting with Louis IX in September-October 1263. There was also a group of royalist exiles in France, including the king’s influential counsellor John Mansel, who were alleged to be lobbying for French support against the baronial party. Henry had left his brother Richard of Cornwall in charge of the government in England, and it was Richard who attested the relatively few letters patent issued in England in January and February 1264. According to one chronicle, the lord Edward collected a large army after Christmas, and devoted himself to plunder and arson; but according to another, he accompanied his father to France.2

Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, recognized as the leader of the baronial movement, should have been travelling to Amiens too. He had set out from his castle at Kenilworth, and had only reached Catesby, Northamptonshire, when his horse fell. De Montfort’s leg was broken, and he had to return to Kenilworth.3

The arbitration at Amiens had been agreed late in 1263, as part of an uneasy, and widely disregarded, truce. After a year of varying fortunes, neither side could claim victory, or even a clear chance of victory. Henry had the support of most of the magnates, and had won over the lords of the Welsh Marches. One of their leaders, Roger Mortimer, had been granted de Montfort’s three manors in Herefordshire, where fighting and looting continued.4 At the end of December, the marchers had been instructed to seek a truce with Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the Welsh leader who had led a successful revolt against English domination.5 Henry had resumed control of the machinery of central government, but the loyalty of the counties was less secure. On 20 December, Henry sent a propaganda letter to all the counties, denying that he had tried to bring foreigners into the country, and pledging that he would always keep his oath made at Oxford – that is, to observe the provisions for good government; a few days later, he had appointed keepers in 22 counties, with a military role distinct from the sheriffs’ administrative functions, apparently preparing for conflict.6

Henry’s opponents could rely on the city of London, run by a populist mayor who had overthrown the old city hierarchy. The Londoners had saved de Montfort from being trapped by Henry’s forces outside London on 11 December. The baronial party also held Dover castle, and thus commanded the main route into England from the Continent. Early in December, Henry had been refused entry to the castle, by a custodian loyal to the baronial council. Many of the bishops also backed reform, but the Pope had appointed a legate, Guy Foulquois, with instructions explicitly hostile to de Montfort.

Such was the situation as the year began.

  1. The classic account of this period, R.F. Treharne’s The Baronial Plan of Reform, says on p. 337 that Henry crossed to France on 27 December 1263, and on p. 387 that Henry was at Dover on 1 January 1264. The first date derives from Thomas Wykes’ chronicle, Annales Monastici [Ann Mon] IV, 139, the second from Chancery records (CPR 1258-66, 376). Unfortunately, Treharne’s work ends in January 1264, and his promised second volume, The Barons’ War, 1264-68, never appeared.
  2. Chronicle of Bury St Edmunds, 28; Ann Mon III, 227. Michael Prestwich, Edward I, 41, is clear: ‘Edward accompanied his father to Amiens for the negotiations.’
  3. Ann Mon, III, 227.
  4. Ann Mon, III, 226.
  5. Close Rolls 1261-64, 373.
  6. CPR 1258-66, 357-8.