Sunday 23 November 1264: two Eleanors

The court spent most of this week at Windsor, and at the end of the week began the planned move towards Northampton, reaching St Albans on 23 November.

Although the threat of invasion had largely dissipated, and the forces assembled by queen Eleanor had dispersed, the government continued to take precautions. The authorities in Winchelsea were instructed to continue guarding the Channel, and to prevent anyone crossing without permission. Any suspect arrivals from overseas were to be arrested and detained. It would appear that there was some justification for such measures: a ship belonging to the abbot of St Mary’s, Dublin, had been forced by rough seas to land at Yarmouth, Isle of Wight; the ship and its sailors were being held there because the bailiffs of the island had suspicions about a knight on the ship, who was being transported from Dieppe to Ireland with letters addressed to Irish magnates. (Close Rolls 1264-68, 80-1)

Preparations continued for further negotiations in France, with king Louis, the legate and queen Eleanor. The king of France’s envoys were expecting to meet an English delegation at Wissant, and escort them to the king. The French envoys were asked to wait, as the English negotiators were going with the court to meet lord Edward. The dean of Wells was then given safe conduct to go to France as an envoy. The dean was armed with a set of letters in king Henry’s name to Louis and the queen of France, queen Eleanor, Peter of Savoy, and the legate. Louis, Eleanor and Peter were asked to prevent the sale or alienation of royal rights and properties — a reference, presumably, to Eleanor’s attempts to raise money for her invasion force. The legate was asked to exercise mercy and kindness, rather than ecclesiastical coercion. The letter to Eleanor included a more personal opening paragraph, perhaps from the king himself rather than the council which spoke on his behalf: ‘Know that we and Edward our firstborn son are healthy and unharmed … we have firm hope of having secure and good peace in our kingdom, for which you may be cheerful and delighted.’ (CPR 1258-66, 388, 473-4; Foedera, I, I, 448)

Matthew Paris reports the death of William Marshal junior in 1231, showing his arms reversed. Marshal’s death left Eleanor a widow at the age of 16; she married Simon de Montfort in 1238.

Matthew Paris reports the death of William Marshal junior in 1231, showing his arms reversed. Marshal’s death left Eleanor a widow at the age of 16; she married Simon de Montfort in 1238. From BL Royal 14 C VII.

The government continued to pay special attention to the interests of the de Montfort family. Eleanor de Montfort had long complained that she had not received the full dower to which she was entitled, following the death of her first husband, William Marshal junior, earl of Pembroke. This dispute had helped to embitter relations between the de Montforts and Henry III. There was now to be an inquiry into Eleanor’s complaints against the king, by the bishops of Worcester and London, Hugh Despenser the justiciar, and Peter de Montfort. With such committed supporters of the regime to conduct the inquiry, its conclusions must have seemed rather predictable. (CPR 1258-66, 388-9; Wilkinson, Eleanor de Montfort, 106-7)

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