Sunday 15 June 1264

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)

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