Archive for October, 2014

Sunday 26 October 1264: the legate’s farewell

Monday, October 27th, 2014

The final act of Guy Foulquois as papal legate, marking the complete failure of his attempts to assert his authority over the baronial government, came on 20 October. He repeated the formal excommunication which he had pronounced in August, denouncing the Provisions of Oxford. The authority of his denunciation was much diminished, however, because he had to pronounce the excommunication at Hesdin, in Flanders, rather than in England. He ordered bulls of excommunication and interdict to be published throughout France, but had been unable to secure their publication in England, where his authority was ignored. (Heidemann, register, 49-52; Foedera, I, I, 447-8)

Meanwhile, Simon de Montfort’s government, now again established in Westminster, continued its unavailing efforts to assert its authority over the royalist barons of the Marches and the north. Roger Mortimer and James of Audley were yet again ordered to come to the king’s court. Simon de Montfort’s son Henry, as warden of the Cinque Ports, was given the task of safeguarding merchandise, particularly wool, belonging to foreign merchants. The disorder in the country must have had an adverse effect on trade, which the government needed to counter. But the appointment also showed the increasingly prominent role being taken by de Montfort’s own family. (CPR 1258-66, 355)

The fine roll records the appointment of Ralph of Ash as sheriff of Devon. He was a local landowner (he held the manor now known as Rose Ash), so his appointment was in accordance with the reformers’ commitment to appointing local men as sheriffs, rather than the outsiders who had been blamed for exploiting the counties. Ash replaced Hugh Peverel of Sampford (another local man, from the village now named after his family, Sampford Peverell). Peverel had been appointed in the initial wave of new sheriffs put in place when the reforming barons took over the government in June 1264. There seems to be no particular explanation for the new appointment; Peverel continued to serve the baronial government, as castellan of Oxford, then as keeper of the peace for Devon. (CFR 1263-64, 220; CPR 1258-66, 387, 400)

Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester, had agreed to pay £1,000 in order to take possession of the lands he had inherited. He now paid £100 of this enormous sum to the keepers of the works at Westminster — this payment helped to continue the construction of Westminster abbey, but it by-passed the usual procedures for Exchequer control of income and expenditure. The £1,000 fine had been recorded in the fine roll in July 1263, and Gilbert had taken formal possession of his inheritance in September 1264, when he came of age. (CPR 1258-66, 354; CFR 1262-63, 727)

Sunday 19 October 1264: return to Westminster

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

The return of the king and the government from Canterbury to Westminster demonstrated growing confidence about the threat of invasion. It was clearly no longer considered so pressing that it required the court to remain near the Kent coast. Queen Eleanor’s invasion force in Flanders was dispersing and her funds were running out. About this time, the queen gave up and withdrew to France. (Howell, Eleanor of Provence, 221)
The government acknowledged the receipt of £133 which Thomas fitz Thomas, mayor of London, had paid into the Wardrobe for the wardship of the lands and heirs of Robert le Blund, tenant-in-chief. This payment, which had been agreed in July, gave fitz Thomas control of lands in Essex, Wiltshire and Staffordshire. It showed that fitz Thomas was a very wealthy man. Despite that, he was a populist mayor who supported the reforming regime and opposed the élite of aldermen who traditionally ruled London. It also showed that the government was continuing to channel income through the Wardrobe, rather than the Treasury (although this payment does not appear in the accounts of the Wardrobe, which handled the finances of the royal household) — the sort of behaviour which the reformers had once criticized. (CPR 1258-66, 341, 353; CFR 1263-64, 302)

Edward the Confessor, Henry III’s favourite saint, as depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry

Edward the Confessor, Henry III’s favourite saint, as depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry

The feast of Edward the Confessor on 13 October was always an important event for Henry III. It would seem that it was celebrated as usual this year. The court had returned to Westminster, the king’s sauser was buying pepper, cumin and cinnamon to make sauces for the king at the feast, and the keeper of the wardrobe was buying wax and gold coins for offerings. (CLR 1260-67, 143-4) One chronicler, in the annals of Dunstable, records that the clergy of England met in a council at Westminster on 19 October, to ratify an appeal against the legate’s condemnation. (C&S, II, I, 700)

Sunday 12 October 1264: an unusual delivery

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

The court and Simon de Montfort’s government were based in Canterbury until the end of this week. According to the London chronicler Arnold fitz Thedmar, the king returned to London on 11 October, two days before the feast of St Edward the Confessor, which was always an important date in Henry III’s calendar. The king would thus be able to celebrate the feast at the saint’s shrine in Westminster abbey. (Cronica Maiorum, 69)
The government continued its unavailing efforts to assert its authority over the northern royalists. Robert de Nevill was ordered to hand over York castle to the Montfortian sheriff of Yorkshire. Similarly, Adam of Jesmond was commanded to deliver the castle of Newcastle on Tyne to the sheriff of Northumberland. Nevill and Jesmond, together with John and Eustace de Balliol, Peter de Brus and other Northern barons, were yet again ordered to come to the king with horses and arms, to defend the realm against the threat of invasion. They were offered safe conduct until 28 October, but this offer was once more ignored.
The Marchers, led by Roger Mortimer and James of Audley, resumed hostilities by besieging Gilbert de Clare’s castle at Hanley in Worcestershire. De Montfort’s government initially responded by pointing out that this threatened any prospect of release for the royalist hostages it held, lord Edward and Henry of Almain. (CPR 1258-66, 373-5)

Knights in a ship, with a letter. From BL Royal 14 E III, first quarter of 14th century

Knights in a ship, with a letter. From BL Royal 14 E III, first quarter of 14th century

The bishops of London and Winchester, the baronial government’s representatives in talks with the papal legate, had asked for safe conduct to return to Wissant on 7 or 8 October, but did not appear. Instead, on 11 October, ‘a certain knight of the king of England’ sailed to Wissant, but did not land, throwing into the sea a small box full of letters to the legate. These included the texts of the peace of Canterbury and of the ordinance establishing the government of England by the baronial council, as well as letters formally rejecting the legate’s proposals. Negotiations were well and truly ended. (Heidemann, register, 45-6)

Sunday 5 October 1264: undelivered letters

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

Pope Urban IV died on 2 October, which formally ended Guy Foulquois’ appointment as papal legate, although the news would obviously take some time to reach the legate in northern France. The legate’s attempts to impose a settlement between the Montfortian government and the royalist exiles, led by the queen, had effectively collapsed. Queen Eleanor’s representatives had withdrawn from the talks, saying that the queen was outraged that nothing had been said about the hostages, her son and nephew. On 3 October, the representatives of the baronial government, the bishops of Winchester and London, also withdrew for further deliberations, taking with them a letter from the legate to the bishops of England. This ordered the bishops to announce the excommunication of the leading barons and of the citizens of London and the Cinque Ports, unless they had submitted to the legate’s demands within fifteen days. These demands included a complex scheme for arbitration, overseen by the legate, which would have required the barons to surrender Dover castle and the hostages – terms which were clearly unacceptable to the barons. The bishops were also ordered not to pay the tenth or any other form of subsidy to the baronial government. In any event, the legate’s letters never reached their destination; the citizens of Dover seized them, tore them up and threw them into the sea. (Heidemann, register, 43-4; Flores, II, 501)

Castle and ship, from BL Royal 10 E IV, the Smithfield Decretals.

Castle and ship, from BL Royal 10 E IV, the Smithfield Decretals.

The traditional enmity between the sailors of the Cinque Ports and those of Yarmouth had broken out again. The government intervened on the side of the Cinque Ports, which were playing a crucial role in the defence of the south-east coast against a possible landing by the forces which queen Eleanor had assembled across the Channel. They were to be compensated for any losses caused by the men of Yarmouth, as the men of the Cinque Ports were ‘labouring manfully about the defence of the sea and the maritime parts against the invasion of aliens’. Hostages from Yarmouth were to be delivered to the sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, who would hold them in Norwich castle, as security against disorder breaking out at Yarmouth fair. The sheriff was to ensure that the arguments between the Cinque Ports and Yarmouth did not lead to new contentions and grievances at the fair, while the burgesses of Yarmouth were warned to keep the peace, or ‘the king will betake himself so grievously to them that they and their heirs shall thenceforward feel themselves aggrieved in no small measure.’ (CPR 1258-66, 352, 372-3)
The liberate roll contains a passing reference to a sad event. Lord Edward, the king’s son, was still being held as a hostage. At this time, the only child of Edward and Eleanor of Castile was Katherine, of whom we know only that she was born some time between 1261 and 1263, and died in September 1264. The king’s almoner paid 4 marks for two cloths of gold adorned with wheels for the use of Katherine, Edward’s deceased daughter. The almoner also received £40 for making offerings on the day of Katherine’s funeral. Some of the usual pieties were evidently being observed, even while Edward was a captive. (CLR 1260-67,143; Morris, A Great and Terrible King, 73)