Posts Tagged ‘Arundel’

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 23 September to Saturday 29 September 1257

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

During this week, Henry left the Welsh march and set off eastwards back to Westminster. On  24 and 27  September, the fine rolls show him still at Worcester. By 29 September, he was at Woodstock. What a relief to enjoy once more the comfort of a major royal palace.  By far the most interesting entry on the fine rolls this week relates to a concession Henry made at Worcester on 27 September. This was to give John fitzAlan easier terms on which to repay a debt of 10,000 marks (£6666) which he owed the king. John was paying this debt off at the rate of £100 a year, £50 at Easter and £50 at Michaelmas.  Henry now allowed him to miss the payment due at Michaelmas 1257, the reason for the concession being that John was remaining in the king’s service in Wales.

John fitzAlan was a great baron of the Welsh march, being lord of Oswestry and Clun. He was also lord of Arundel in Sussex. His descendants indeed became earls of Arundel. How was it then that he owed such an astronomical sum to the king?  The answer is that  he had inherited the debt. The 10,000 marks had actually been offered King John back in 1214 by John fitzAlan’s uncle, William fitzAlan in order to be allowed to enter the fitzAlan inheritance. William died in 1216 and was followed by his brother, John fitzAlan, who died in 1240. Neither of them paid a penny towards the 10,000 marks.  When our John fitzAlan (the son of John who died in 1240), came of age in 1244, he might have hoped he too would be exempted from paying the debt, if not pardoned it all together. After all it originated in what was surely one of King John’s  most tyrannous exactions. Not a bit of it. Henry III demanded that John pay the debt. True he was allowed first to pay at the rate of £200 a year, and then (as we see in 1257) at the rate of a £100, but these were still substantial sums.  Nor was that all. When John had  succeeded in 1244, his relief was not the statutory £100 laid down in Magna Carta but a whopping £1000.  In his treatment of John fitzAlan, Henry seems to have been returning to the worst days of his father. What on earth was going on? I hope to answer that question before too long in a new fine of the month.      

For the membrane covering this week, click here (the John fitzAlan entry is 28 down).