Archive for August, 2014

Sunday 31 August 1264: Flanders and Marchers

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Henry III’s court remained at Canterbury for another week. It clearly planned to remain there for some time: on 28 August, the sheriffs of London were ordered to transport 20 tuns of white wine to Canterbury, out of the stock of 60 tuns which the king’s butler had taken at Portsmouth. (CLR 1260-67, 141)

Henry’s government was still mainly concerned with the threats from France, the north, and the Marches. The authorities in Dover and the other ports were ordered to ensure that nobody crossed the Channel without the government’s permission. Such measures may have been intended to prevent contacts with regime’s enemies, or the papal legate, but they also hindered normal commerce. Margaret, countess of Flanders, wrote to Henry on 31 August, about the problems faced by Flemish merchants. Because peace had not yet been restored, they could not bring merchandise to Flanders safely and securely; she asked that they should be assured the same security as English merchants enjoyed in Flanders. (Close Rolls 1261-64, 359; Diplomatic Documents, I, no. 392)

There was yet another attempt to win over the northern royalists, like John and Eustace de Balliol, Peter de Brus, Robert Neville and Adam of Jesmond. They were again ordered to come to the king with horses and arms for the defence of the realm, but they were offered the reassurance that the bishop of Durham would conduct them to York. The bishop would then have to return to the north, to organize its defence. Safe conduct would then be provided by the abbot of St Mary’s, York, who would bring the royalists to the king. As before, these instructions were ignored. (CPR 1258-66, 343, 366)

Wigmore castle, the Mortimer family stronghold, as it appeared in the eighteenth century.

Wigmore castle, the Mortimer family stronghold, as it appeared in the eighteenth century.

Negotiations with the other major group of royalist opponents, the Marcher lords, had apparently been more successful. The Marchers sent negotiators to the king, and the negotiators were given safe conduct for their return journey to Wales on 24 August. They also carried letters instructing the Marchers to release the prisoners taken at Northampton and to hand over royal castles they occupied. On 25 August, the king ratified a peace agreement, made between the barons led by Simon de Montfort, and the Marchers. The Marcher leaders, Roger Mortimer and James of Audley, were each to hand over a son as hostage for the observance of the peace. (CPR 1258-66, 343-4, 366-7)

The papal legate, Guy Foulquois, sent another angry letter, this time to the English bishops. The bishops had written to him, under the seal of the bishop of London, defending the settlement made after the battle of Lewes, and denying that the king’s authority had been taken away by the governing council. The legate replied that the council were three new princes. The legate had heard the king of France say that he would rather break clods behind a plough than have this kind of rule. (Heidemann, register entries nos. 27-9)

Sunday 24 August 1264: courts and ports

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

The court spent the week at Canterbury, again mostly concerned with the threat of invasion and the exchanges with the legate in France. There was still time, however, for the king and Simon de Montfort to involve themselves in more local matters. Fulk Peyforer, the sheriff of Kent, reported that he had collected no revenue from the meeting of the county court on Monday 18 August, ‘because the lord king was present and the pleas were held by the earl of Leicester.’ (E 389/81)

Perquisites of the county court on Monday after the Assumption: ‘nothing, because the lord king was present and the pleas were held by the earl of Leicester.'

Perquisites of the Kent county court on Monday after the Assumption: ‘nothing, because the lord king was present and the pleas were held by the earl of Leicester.’ The same thing happened at the next meeting of the court, on 15 September. (E 389/81)

Another indication of the continuing bureaucratic routine was the resumption of entries in the charter roll. It had not been used since 30 March, when the king was at Oxford. He now began again to issue charters, with three enrolled on 24 August at Canterbury. They were unremarkable grants of free warren and the right to a weekly market and annual fair, but their enrolment was another indication that de Montfort’s regime was trying to maintain the usual procedures of government. (Calendar of Charter Rolls, II, 49)

Military preparations were still being made. The officials of the Cinque Ports were ordered to bring all their ships, with men, arms and provisions, before the port of Sandwich by Thursday 21 August, for the defence of the realm against a foreign invasion. They were not to allow any merchandise to leave the ports without the permission of Henry de Montfort. Even the most remote regions were thought to be under threat: a letter in the king’s name to the whole community of Northumberland warned them to prepare to defend the coast against invasion. The royalists of the north and the Marches were still disregarding orders to come to London, to release their prisoners, and to hand over the castles they held, such as Gloucester, Shrewsbury and Bridgnorth. (Close Rolls 1261-64, 356; Royal Letters, II, 271-3; CPR 1258-66, 366-7)

Relations with the papal legate were not improving. A further exchange of letters showed how far apart the two sides were. The barons wrote that they were amazed at the legate’s public rejection of the peace terms agreed by the king, the prelates and the whole community of the realm. This resulted in another unyielding set of demands from the legate. He should be assured of safe conduct for coming to England, or the barons would be excommunicated and London and the Cinque Ports placed under an interdict. The king’s freedom should be restored, and the hostages, lord Edward and Henry of Almain, should be liberated. The Provisions of Oxford should be abandoned. The barons’ representatives should come to him at Boulogne by the beginning of September. There was clearly little willingness to compromise on either side. (Heidemann, register, nos. 24-6)

Sunday 17 August 1264: the Peace of Canterbury, and a hanging

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

This week, Henry III and his court moved from St Paul’s, where they had been based since the end of May, to Canterbury. This brought the king and his keepers closer to the great army preparing to resist invasion by the queen’s forces. It was also more convenient for the diplomatic exchanges taking place across the Channel, with the king of France and the papal legate.

The legate and Louis were displeased because no negotiators had appeared to meet them in Boulogne. The legate delivered a lengthy public denunciation of the baronial regime in the church of Boulogne on 12 August. He demanded that he should be allowed entry to England by the beginning of September, under threat of excommunication of the barons and their supporters. The legate’s terms allowed little room for compromise: Henry was to be restored to power, the hostages freed, and the Provisions of Oxford abandoned. (Heidemann, register nos. 19 and 20)

It was plain that the legate was firmly opposed to the baronial government. It was also clear that Louis would have no part in the proposed arbitration under the Mise of Lewes. Simon de Montfort’s government responded on 15 August by sending to Louis and the legate the Peace of Canterbury. This document was an expanded version of the ordinance adopted by the June parliament. It set out the arrangements for government by council, in the absence of progress on the Mise of Lewes. One significant difference was that it was now stated that the constitutional arrangements would last throughout Henry’s reign and until some unspecified point in the reign of Edward. The Montfortian government for the first time made a public claim to a long-term role, and considered the prospect of dealing with another king who would be just as hostile and much more forceful. The Peace of Canterbury also re-stated the commitment to the Charters and the Provisions. It somewhat weakened the former hostility to aliens, who would be allowed to enter or leave the country freely (although the councillors, castellans and royal officials should always be natives). Louis was asked to examine and approve the Peace, and cause it to be accepted by the royalist exiles. (DBM, 294-301; CPR 1258-66, 366)

The legate did not delay in delivering his reaction. He wrote to Henry on 16 August, rejecting the Peace, and to the bishops of England on 17 August, again dismissing a settlement which replaced one king with three councillors, and exposed England to dangers and schisms. The bishops were again summoned to appear before him. (Heidemann, register nos. 21-3)

Initial C for Crimen, from BL Royal 6 E VI, S.E. England, c. 1360-75.

Initial C for Crimen, from BL Royal 6 E VI, S.E. England, c. 1360-75.

Away from these momentous events, there was an odd item recorded in the patent roll this week. Juetta de Balsham had been sentenced to hang for receiving thieves. She had been hanged from the ninth hour of Monday until sunrise of the Tuesday following, as appeared on trustworthy testimony, and lived. She was to be pardoned. Such survivals were not unknown. They could be attributed to a miracle, as in the case of the hanged man saved by St Thomas Cantilupe, or to incompetence or collusion. (CPR 1258-66, 342; Robert Bartlett, The Hanged Man, for an account of a miracle; Henry Summerson, ‘Attitudes to capital punishment in England, 1200-1350’, Thirteenth Century England VIII, for instances of recovery from hanging.)

Sunday 10 August 1264: the bishops and the legate

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

Henry III spent another week in London, but the attention of the government which ruled in his name was concentrated on the coasts of France and England. The great popular army to resist the threatened invasion was mustering in Kent. According to one chronicler, there was such a multitude of mounted and foot soldiers gathered at Harbledown, near Canterbury, that you would not have believed there were so many in England. There was a further summons for the sheriffs of Cambridgeshire and Essex to ensure that their counties provided armed men for the defence of the coast; those who failed to come were to be imprisoned. The army which had been called out to defend the coasts had already been serving for a long time, beyond the customary period of service, and they were assured that this would not be regarded as establishing a precedent. A letter in Henry’s name was sent to the archbishop of Rheims and other councillors of the king of France, asking them to use their influence to prevent the levying of troops in France for the invasion. The letter drew attention to the possible danger this would pose to the hostages, lord Edward and Henry of Almain. (Rishanger, 36; CPR 1258-66, 364-5, 340; Royal Letters, II, 268-9)

Two bishops, from BL Royal 2 B VI, a psalter and canticles from St Albans, c. 1246-60

Two bishops, from BL Royal 2 B VI, a psalter and canticles from St Albans, c. 1246-60

The English clergy were also participating in the national mobilization, some by providing their customary military service for their lands, some by contributing a levy of one-tenth of their revenues (and in the case of Dunstable priory, apparently both). It seems that this had been decided by a council of prelates and magnates. This may have been the same council of bishops and magnates, reported in only one chronicle, where the bishop of Worcester set out the case for the new regime; as spokesman for the bishops, he formally rejected any attempt by the legate to impose excommunication or interdict. A further council early in August (before 11 August, when the bishop of Exeter sent a mandate for collection of a levy) involved both prelates and the lower clergy, who agreed that the religious and the beneficed clergy should give a tenth of their spiritual income. (Councils & Synods, II, I, 694-9; Ann Mon, III, 233; Gervase, II, 239-42)

The legate, if he knew of the bishop of Worcester’s statement, was unimpressed. He was certainly displeased by the way in which the English government had treated his messengers, refusing them entry and confiscating their letters. The government feared the importation of papal letters condemning their seizure of power. Monks from Fountains abbey were only allowed to attend a general chapter of the Cistercian order on condition that they did not bring back anything prejudicial. The legate’s  response was proclaimed publicly, in the church at Amiens, on 3 or 4 August. As the legate was not allowed into England, he summoned the bishops to Boulogne. The clerical and secular negotiations were thus coming together, with the legate arriving in Boulogne on 9 August and Louis IX on 10 August, both waiting for a response from England. (CPR 1258-66, 340; Heidemann, register entries 17-19)

The government made yet more attempts to establish its authority over the northern royalists. It ordered its supporters in the north to cease harassing the royalist leaders, so that they would not have that excuse for refusing to come to the king. It then enlisted the bishop and prior of Durham and the abbot of St Mary’s, York, to ensure safe conduct for the northern magnates who were ordered to come to London. As usual, these instructions were ignored. At least one of the northerners who had fought for the king at Lewes, Robert de Brus, was still held captive; his son was given safe conduct to come to England to arrange for his father’s release. (CPR 1258-66, 364, 339-40; Royal Letters, II, 269-70)

Sunday 3 August 1264: the legate and negotiations

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014
Pope Clement IV and Charles of Anjou

Pope Clement IV and Charles of Anjou

This week, Simon de Montfort’s government was mostly concerned with events across the Channel, where queen Eleanor was amassing an invasion force, the king of France was being enlisted as arbiter, and the papal legate had reached the north of France and begun to take an active role in support of the royal cause. The legate, Guy de Foulquois, a Provençal cardinal, was later to become pope as Clement IV. He had been appointed legate in November 1263, at Henry III’s request, with the general object of restoring the king’s authority and suppressing baronial rebellion. The baronial government was naturally suspicious of the legate, who was closely associated with Louis IX. In addition, the papacy had previously shown itself hostile, in 1261 assisting Henry’s return to power by issuing a papal bull releasing him from his oath to observe the Provisions of Oxford.  According to a note in one source, from Ramsey abbey, the government at the end of July announced that it had prohibited the importation and publication of sentences of excommunication and interdict against those who observed the Provisions; it even decreed the unusual penalty of beheading for anyone who disobeyed this ban. (Councils & Synods, II, I, 693-4; Gilson, ‘Parliament of 1264’, EHR 1901)

The legate’s attempts to open negotiations with the government were repeatedly rebuffed. The government’s attitude was demonstrated early in July when the legate’s messenger, a friar, brother Alan, was detained at Dover. Alan reported that he was searched, and all his letters were seized. He was told that if he brought in a letter harmful to the kingdom, he would lose his life. Unsurprisingly, Alan advised the legate against attempting to come to England in person. Around the end of July, while the legate was in Amiens, he received a letter from the barons. This said that the legate could not enter England without invitation, but that negotiations might begin in Boulogne. It also asked the legate to prevent the king of France providing financial support for the planned invasion. The legate replied on 2 or 3 August that he could not help: the money had already been paid. (Heidemann, Papst Clemens IV, register entries 5-14)

The government continued to be greatly concerned with the arrangements for defence against a foreign invasion. The sheriff of Essex was told not to distrain the vicar of Coggeshall to contribute to the support of the four or six men of the town who were supposed to be sent to London, with 40 days’ expenses. The sheriff of Kent was not to force the men of Greenwich to join the land forces assembled near Dover, because they were more useful at sea, guarding the Thames and Medway against alien incursions. There were elaborate arrangements limiting the amount of trade, particularly wine imports, permitted through the major ports. (Close Rolls 1261-64, 391-5)

The king wrote to Simon de Montfort and Gilbert de Clare concerning negotiations with the king of France. Messengers were to be sent to Boulogne, and the king himself was to go to Dover. Lord Edward and Henry of Almain had been sent from Wallingford to Kenilworth, but should also be present at Dover. Letters in Henry III’s name were also sent to the king of France, and to Charles of Anjou, stressing the threat of invasion, and the danger to lord Edward and Henry of Almain, as hostages.  Henry asked that the proposed negotations at Boulogne should be postponed from 8 to 17 August, provided delegates were given safe conduct. (Close Rolls 1261-64, 396-7; Royal Letters, II, 262-6)

Royal ceremonial was being maintained, even if finances were precarious. The revenues from towns, manors and vacant bishoprics were being paid into the Wardrobe, rather than the Exchequer. The exchanges provided the cash needed to buy twelve gold pieces and 36 gold obols for the king’s annual offering on 1 August, the feast of St Peter’s Chains. (CLR 1260-67, 138-9)