Sunday 27 April 1264: Henry marches south

After celebrating Easter in Nottingham, Henry moved rapidly to counter the threat to Rochester. He had established his dominance of the Midlands, but did not want to lose one of his few strongholds in the south-east. On Monday 21 April, he was in Grantham, where he collected some more cash; the bailiffs of Derby paid into the Wardrobe £17 for the Easter term’s farm of their town. By the end of the week Henry was south of London.
With Henry on the move like this, there was evidently little opportunity for people to pay fines or for the Chancery to update the fine roll. Both the fine roll and the originalia roll peter out at the beginning of this week, with orders to appoint a new sheriff of Lincolnshire and to provision castles, particularly in the Midlands and north, ready for war. There are no more entries in the fine roll until July. (E 368/39 m. 1d; CLR 1260-67, 135; CFR 1263-64, nos. 108-114, 259-64)
Similarly, the patent roll has entries made at Grantham on Monday, then nothing until Saturday, when Henry was in Aylesbury. There are entries in the liberate roll on the same day showing that Henry had reached Kingston on Thames, while in the close roll there are entries made in Croydon. Henry was moving fast, circling around to the west and south of London, rather than confronting the city dominated by his opponents. (CPR 1258-66, 313-5; CLR 1260-67, 135-6; Close Rolls 1261-64, 342)

Trebuchet, from BL Egerton 3028

Trebuchet, from BL Egerton 3028

The approach of Henry’s army was enough to put an end to the siege of Rochester castle. Simon de Montfort and Gilbert de Clare had taken the town, but, after a week of siege operations with engines and mines, the keep still held out against them. The news of Henry’s arrival in the south-east, and the potential threat to the capital, caused them to abandon the siege and return to London on Saturday 26 April. According to the London annals, the mayor of the city, fearing the approach of Henry and lord Edward, asked de Montfort to return to London. Some poor Londoners, found in Rochester after the siege, had their hands and feet cut off or were put to the sword. (Flores, II, 490-1; London annals, 62; Ann Mon, IV, 147)
A marginal note in the Osney annals serves as a reminder that, as well as the major operations by the royal and baronial armies, there were continuing obscure episodes of local violence, mostly unrecorded: about 25 April, the barons burned many manors belonging to earl Richard, Philip Basset and others who were with king; and similarly the royalists set fire to the manors of the barons and those who were on their side. (Ann Mon, IV,146)

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