Sunday 7 September 1264: Canterbury and cash

 

Canterbury Castle in 1775. Much of the outer walls were demolished later in the eighteenth century.

Canterbury Castle in 1775. Much of the outer walls were demolished later in the eighteenth century.

Henry III’s court remained in Canterbury for the whole month of September, to be close to the continuing negotiations in northern France with Louis IX and the papal legate, and to oversee the defence of the coasts against the continuing threat of invasion by the Queen’s forces. While the king was in Canterbury, on 5 September, the sheriff of Kent was ordered to repair the great gate of the castle, which had recently been burned down, and the gates, doors and windows which had been pulled down and damaged. (There had been disorder in Canterbury in April, including attacks on the Jewish community.) (CLR 1260-67, 142)

The legate, Guy de Foulquois, had ordered the barons to send representatives to Gravelines, on the French coast, by 1 September. One of the legate’s chaplains waited for them, but reported to his master that nobody turned up. (Heidemann, register, nos. 30-32) On 4 September, one of the royal hostages, Henry of Almain, who had been held in Dover castle, was released on parole, to go to France to try to negotiate a peace settlement. He was to return to custody by 8 September, unless the negotiations took two or three days longer. Several bishops stood security for his return, in the enormous sum of 20,000 marks. (Foedera, I, I, 446; CPR 1258-66, 345)

The defence of the coasts was still a priority. Nobody was to cross the Channel from Dover without permission from the king or Henry de Montfort. The city of London was to send a galley and a large ship, with crossbowmen, to Sandwich, in readiness for a foreign invasion. While the men of Winchelsea were serving with the fleet off Sandwich, the Winchelsea region was to be defended by 300 archers. The problems of maintaining a large army in Kent were demonstrated by a letter to the sheriff of Rutland: the county would have to cover the expenses of its contingent for longer than expected, up to 15 September, but their daily rate would have to increase from 3d. to 4d. per man, because of the dearth produced by the presence of such great numbers. The sheriff was to seize the lands of those who failed to serve in the defence of the coast, or who deserted from the army without permission. It was also necessary to stem desertions from the forces guarding the coast of East Anglia, by offering to pay their expenses up to 15 September. (Close Rolls 1261-64, 360-2, 405-6; CPR 1258-66, 367-8)

The church had shown its support for the baronial regime in August by offering a subsidy of one-tenth of clerical income. The government was now pressing for payment of this subsidy, writing to the bishop of Norwich, asking for the money to be sent without delay; the council threatened that otherwise the tenth would be collected by the sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk. The bishop of Rochester was told to provide £20 at once, and to deliver the rest to Canterbury by the end of the week. Similarly, the archbishop of York was told to deliver the subsidy by Michaelmas, or it would be collected by royal officials, for the security and defence of the kingdom. (Foedera, I, I, 445; Close Rolls 1261-64, 361-2, 403-5)

The government was evidently short of cash, as usual, and relying on the imminent arrival of the cash from the clerical tenth to cover frantic borrowing. Simon de Montfort was empowered to contract a loan of money, wine and corn, for supplies for the king’s ships and wages for the sailors. Hugh Despenser took wine worth £33 from merchants at Sandwich, to munition the ships. The bishop of London loaned 200 marks. The city of London was asked to lend £50 from each aldermanry. They were all promised repayment in October, out of the tenth. (CPR 1258-66, 345-6)

There was at least one piece of potential good news on the financial front. The German miners led by Walter of Hamburg, who had been sent to Devon in July, had struck copper. John Silvester, the former warden of the mint, was to determine whether to invest in developing a mine. (Close Rolls 1261-64, 406-7)

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