Sunday 17 February 1264: the return of the king

After more than six weeks in France, Henry III sailed back to Dover on 15 February. He left queen Eleanor, Peter of Savoy and John Mansel in France, in charge of raising funds to finance the coming struggle for power. They were to receive the payment due from Louis of France, under the terms of the Treaty of Paris, and to raise money using the king’s jewels, which had been deposited at the Temple in Paris. (CPR 1258-66, 381)

The king’s return to England brought a prompt reminder that his authority was far from unquestioned. He had sent messengers from Wissant, demanding entry to Dover castle, and received the reply that the castle would not be delivered to anyone without orders from Richard de Grey, to whom the castle had been committed by the council. Hugh Bigod and Roger Leybourne crossed to France to urge Henry to return, and when Henry reached Dover he was honourably received in Dover priory. But when he again demanded entry to the castle, he received the same answer as before. Henry’s response seems rather feeble: he had the Mise of Amiens read out to all those present, then went to Canterbury, where he stayed for nine days. (Gervase of Canterbury, II, 232-3)

The king’s brother, earl Richard, had reached Hereford, a good deal closer to the fighting which had begun along the Severn. He ordered the sheriff to pay £20 for equipping Hereford castle. (CLR 1260-67, 131) There were also indications of trouble in the north of England. In December 1263, Robert Neville had been appointed as one of the king’s keepers of the peace in the northern counties. About this time, he wrote to the king, complaining that he found only tepid support for measures to oppose the rebels. He asked for orders to be sent to Robert Bruce, John Comyn, John Balliol and Henry Percy, instructing them to assist Neville in keeping the peace north of the Trent. Neville also asked for a strong garrison in Pontefract castle, ‘which is like the key to Yorkshire’. (Royal Letters, II, 255)

Henry had thus returned to find that he faced problems in all parts of the country.

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