Archive for June, 2014

Sunday 29 June 1264: parliament and sheriffs

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

The parliament which had been summoned on 4 June met during this week. The chief business appears to have been the announcement of a new council to govern the country, and the appointment of sheriffs for most of the counties. The arrangements for the council were supposedly provisional, to apply only until the completion of the French arbitration required by the mise of Lewes. As there was no prospect of Louis IX co-operating with de Montfort over the arbitration, the arrangements for central government were effectively a new constitution. A group of three, de Montfort, Gilbert de Clare and the bishop of Chichester, were to nominate a council of nine experienced men to rule the affairs of the realm. The council would oversee all official appointments, and three of its members would be with the king at all times. Unlike the council of 1258, which included royal nominees, this new council would give unfettered power to de Montfort and his allies, and remove any possibility of independent action by the king. According to one chronicler, Henry III was forced by threats to give his assent to the Ordinance setting out these arrangements; he was told that he would be replaced by another king, and lord Edward imprisoned forever. (DBM, no. 40; Flores, III, 262)

Eight new sheriffs were announced on 27 June, and Hereford and Cumberland were instructed to elect sheriffs. It may be significant that the announcement of these sheriffs was made during the parliament, to which four knights had been summoned from each county. It may mean that the new regime was following the proposals set out in the Provisions of Westminster in 1259, for each county to select four knights, from whom the central government would select one to be sheriff. The new sheriffs had a formidable task, “as the king has learned that plunderings, burnings and other enormities have occurred in those counties since the proclamation of peace.” The keepers of the peace in each county were told to summon the county court to hear the king’s orders, and to assist the sheriff. One of the sheriffs appointed the previous week, Fulk Peyforer of Kent, had begun work already: he held a session of the county court on Monday 23 June, showing that the machinery of local government was beginning to function again. (CPR 1258-66, 326-8; appointments of sheriffs and castellans also in the originalia roll, CFR 1263-64, 272-98; E 389/81)

Two continuing problems again exercised de Montfort’s government. The archbishop of Canterbury remained in France, and was refusing to co-operate by confirming the election of Walter Giffard as bishop of Bath and Wells. The garrison of Windsor castle continued to ignore instructions to leave the castle, and disregarded offers of safe conduct to come to London. (CPR 1258-66, 328-9)

The council was also exercised by the need to secure the ports against enemy infiltration. Thry decreed that anybody entering or leaving the country should do so through Dover (except for merchants bringing wine or other necessities). Other ports were to arrest anyone landing there. (CPR 1258-66, 361)

Sunday 22 June 1264

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

Windsor castle continued to be a thorn in the side of de Montfort’s regime. The royalist constable, Drogo de Barentin, and his knights continued to ignore orders to come to London and to hand over the castle. De Montfort sent the bishop of Carlisle to deliver their safe conduct to come to London, with the threat that they would otherwise be considered to be rebels. Eleanor of Castile, wife of lord Edward, and Joan, the wife of William de Valence, had both taken refuge in the castle, and were ordered to leave. (CPR 1258-66, 324, 325)

The new government began to assert its authority in the counties, with the appointment of two sheriffs on 18 June. Fulk Peyforer was appointed sheriff of Kent, with instructions to deliver the county’s revenues to Henry de Montfort to pay for munitions for Dover castle. John de Scalariis became sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire. The announcement of their appointments acknowledged that the new regime had yet to restore order. Both new sheriffs were instructed to keep the peace, as the king understood that plunderings, burnings and other enormities were being perpetrated daily since the proclamation of peace. They were both local landowners, and experienced local administrators – Fulk had been sheriff of Kent in 1258-59, John had been sheriff of Cambridgeshire in 1249 and 1259-61. They were the sort of reliable person with roots in the locality whom the reformers of 1258-59 had wanted to see in office. (CPR 1258-66, 325)

Sunday 15 June 1264

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

Monday 9 June was Whit Monday, the day of the procession by the villagers of Kibworth, in Leicestershire, to the church of Market Harborough, which David Carpenter wrote about in the September 2010 Fine of the Month. We know about this event from the pardon later granted to Wodard of Kibworth for the killing of William King in self-defence. It could be evidence of peasants’ awareness of the political struggle, and support for the cause of reform, only four weeks after the battle of Lewes.

During this week, the new government in London continued to try to impose its authority over the rest of the country, and to distribute some of the prizes of office. Leading royalists were repeatedly commanded to come to London, and the constable of Nottingham castle was ordered to release the prisoners whom the royalists had taken at Northampton. Gilbert de Clare was granted the wardenship of Boston fair, one of the main annual commercial events, where much of the business of the wool trade was transacted. He was also given custody of the estates of the émigré royalist, John de Warenne. (CPR 1258-66, 323, 325-6)

De Montfort and the Jews

The attitude of the de Montfort regime to the Jews seems particularly relevant this week. A letter to The Times on Tuesday (The Times, 10 June 2014, p. 29 – the online edition is only available to subscribers, apparently) accused Simon de Montfort of being ‘a notorious and rabid antisemite’. He certainly had a record suggesting hostility to Jews. De Montfort, as lord of Leicester, issued a charter in 1231-32, expelling the Jews from that city. His supporters, as we have seen in recent weeks, had been involved in attacks on the Jewish communities in Worcester, Canterbury and London. Two prominent rebels had been personally involved in these outrages. Robert Ferrers, earl of Derby, killed or imprisoned many Jews during the sack of Worcester, and later carried off the bonds recording Jewish loans to his castle of Tutbury; this was perhaps the action of a debtor. John fitz John led the pillage of the Jews of London, and himself murdered Kok son of Abraham. (Maddicott, Simon de Montfort, 15; Maddicott, ‘Ferrers’ and Carpenter ‘John’, ODNB)

The new government, on the other hand, was trying to restore some semblance of normality. On 2 June, several burgesses of Northampton were ordered to protect the Jewish community, who had fled to Northampton castle during the battle, and had not dared to leave it. The Jews should return to the town and live there, protected by the burgesses. Similarly, the mayor and sheriffs of London were instructed on 11 June to protect the Jews who had taken refuge in the Tower, and who should now be allowed to return to their homes in security. And on 14 June 1264, a group of citizens of Winchester were appointed as wardens of the Jews of Winchester; now that peace had been made, they were to proclaim, on behalf of the king and the barons, that the Jews should not be molested. These were not, of course, straightforward gestures of tolerance; as the royal letter to Northampton pointed out, while the Jews remained in the castle, the king was suffering no small loss. (CPR 1258-66, 323; Foedera, I, I, 441-3)

Sunday 8 June 1264: keeping the peace

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

Today was Whit Sunday, in 1264 as in 2014, and the king was evidently allowed to maintain at least part of the usual observances, preserving the fiction that he continued to rule. The sheriffs of London provided the cash for the king to give 115 pairs of shoes for the poor, and cloth worth £9, as Whitsuntide alms. (CLR 1260-67, 137)

During the week, de Montfort, in the king’s name, took a number of steps to impose the authority of the new regime and to re-assert control of the counties. Several castles, including Windsor and Nottingham, were still held by royalists. Prominent royalists, including these castellans and the northern and marcher lords, were repeatedly and unavailingly instructed to hand over the castles, to come to London, and to release their prisoners, particularly those baronial supporters captured at Northampton. The royalists were told that, since peace had been restored, they were forbidden to carry arms without permission, at peril of life and limb. The estates of royalist émigrés like Hugh Bigod, John de Warenne, William de Valence and Peter of Savoy were entrusted to de Montfort’s supporters. Most importantly, on 4 June keepers of the peace were appointed in each county. They were to maintain law and order. They were also to send four knights from each county to London by the last week in June – de Montfort was preparing to hold a parliament. (CPR 1258-66, 321-3, 359-60; Close Rolls 1261-64, 386-7; Foedera, I, 1, 442)

Queen Eleanor began, so far as she could, to exercise royal authority in France on behalf of her husband. She made a decision on a court case concerning the community of Dax in Gascony, and issued instructions to the royal officials in the duchy.  (Howell, Eleanor of Provence, 211-2)

7 Class 5d3-e Willem of London obv

… and obverse

7 Class 5d3-e Willem of London rev

Long cross penny of Henry III from the London mint. Reverse …

During the week, de Montfort took steps to revive overseas trade, which had evidently been affected by the war. The civic authorities of Flanders and Brabant were told that the disturbance of the realm had been settled, and peace had been made between the king and his barons. Merchants could again come safely to the realm. This was an important attempt to revive both trade and royal income, as the king in normal times received significant revenues from the exchanges where foreign merchants obtained English coins. This should have been the exchanges’ busiest time, at the height of the season for shearing and selling wool, the key component of England’s exports. The mint output statistics show how badly trade had been affected. In the year to the end of January 1263, the London and Canterbury mints produced over £50,000; in the year to January 1264, output was £54,000; but in the period from January to July 1264, they produced only £7,400. Mint output was driven by demand from foreign merchants, particularly those in the wool trade, and it is clear that trade had collapsed, and with it government revenue. (CPR 1258-66, 320; Allen, Mints and Money in Medieval England, table C.1)

Sunday 1 June 1264: from Rochester to London

Sunday, June 1st, 2014
Rochester cathedral and castle

Rochester cathedral and castle

Simon de Montfort and Henry were in Rochester at the beginning of the week. The castle there had held out against de Montfort’s siege in April. According to the Canterbury/Dover chronicle, Simon now swore that he would not eat until the castle surrendered to him. The castellan would not surrender without instructions from the king, but then came to the priory where the king was staying, and in the chapter house handed over the castle to the king and the earl. While they were in Rochester, de Montfort wrote in Henry’s name to the king of France, informing him that peace had been restored, and seeking his co-operation in the arbitration proposed under the mise of Lewes. (Gervase, II, 238; Close Rolls 1261-64, 386)

By 28 May, de Montfort and the captive king had reached Westminster, and on 30 May they moved to St Paul’s, where they remained for several weeks. There was now time for the new administration to deal with some outstanding issues. The church received attention, with royal assent to the election of Walter Giffard as bishop of Bath and Wells. The new bishop’s proctors had to go to France to find archbishop Boniface and seek his confirmation of the election, and obtain authority for the consecration. The university was instructed to return to Oxford, from where it had been expelled in March, when the king established his headquarters in the city. (CPR 1258-66, 319-20)

In the immediate aftermath of the battle of Lewes, lord Edward and Henry of Almain (earl Richard’s son) had been sent to Dover castle, in the custody of Henry de Montfort. They were then transferred to Wallingford castle, under the supervision of Eleanor de Montfort. Earl Richard had been sent to the Tower of London on 30 May, but he too was soon sent to Wallingford, formerly his own castle, where he became the involuntary guest of his sister Eleanor. (Wilkinson, Eleanor de Montfort, 105-6; London annals, 64)

Queen Eleanor had reached the French court in Paris by 1 June. She then acknowledged the receipt of the money due from Louis IX under the Treaty of Paris. (Howell, Eleanor of Provence, 211)