Posts Tagged ‘chancery’

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 25 November to Saturday 8 December 1257

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

King Henry remained at Guildford until around 26 November and then returned to Westminster, where he was to remain till early January. Henry had intended during this time to visit his castle at Marlborough, and then to celebrate Christmas at Winchester, as he often did.  Urgent business, however, as he explained, kept him instead at Westminster. He was anxiously awaiting the return of envoys sent to the pope. Would they bring news that the Holy Father had modified the terms of the Sicilian business so that it could be pursued with some hope of success?  Henry was also arranging the despatch of a high powered delegation (including Simon de Montfort) to the king of France in the hope of advancing the peace negotiations and thus making it all the more possible to concentrate on Sicily. And then too  Henry was becoming  worried about events in Scotland, where  the young King Alexander was married to his daughter.  Would Henry have to go north, as he had in 1255, to rescue the royal couple from their enemies?

It must have been a relief for Henry to turn from these great matters to the comforting business of the fine rolls. During these two week, around twenty four people came to court to purchase the writs to initiate or further common law legal actions. Henry’s justice remained in demand.  One item on the rolls particularly stands out and will be commented on here. It bears on both the administrative processes and rituals of Henry’s kingship. It also shows how difficult it can be to capture the sense of an entry when translating it from Latin into English.

The entry is no.105 in the translation (forty-four entries down in the image) and appears as follows.

105

6 Dec. Westminster. For the burgesses of Bridgnorth. On Tuesday next after St. Andrew the Apostle in the forty-second year, the burgesses of Bridgnorth paid 25 m. in the king’s Wardrobe to Peter de Rivallis, keeper of the same Wardrobe, which remained to be rendered of the fine of 50 m. which they made with him a short while ago for having liberties, and, on the aforesaid day, they paid into the same Wardrobe the 10 m. which they had promised for their good coming to the king when he had last been at Bridgnorth. Order to the sheriff of Shropshire to cause the same burgesses to be quit from the aforesaid 35 m.

This entry is not in the originalia roll.

The feast of Andrew the Apostle was 30 November and the following Tuesday in 1258, when the payment was made into the wardrobe, was 4 December. The 6 December date at the head of the translation is that of the writ to the sheriff of Shropshire referred to at the end of the entry. Throughout the fine rolls it is these writs to  officials which actually give the dates to the entries.   The fine of 50 marks, which the burgesses made with the king, is not recorded on the fine rolls. It may be that the full way it was now recorded  was to make up for that lack. The fine was evidently made on 21-22 September 1257 when Henry passed through Bridgnorth on his way home from his campaign in Wales.  A couple of days later, now at Worcester, Henry issued a letter patent granting the ‘bailiffs and good men’ of Bridgnorth the right to take ‘murage’ for another three years, ‘murage’ being a toll whose revenues were devoted to works on the walls of the town. Perhaps this was the concession for which the men offered the king 50 marks, or  perhaps there were other ‘liberties’, building on an earlier charter of 1227, of which there seem to be no record.

From the administrative point of view, what is interesting is the way the whole business of the Bridgnorth debt was controlled by the wardrobe and chancery, travelling with the king, rather than, as would have been normal,  by the exchequer at Westminster.  At the end of the entry there is the statement,  provided by the editors of the fine roll,  ‘This entry is not in the originalia roll’. This means that no information about the fine and its payment was  sent to the exchequer, the originalia roll being the copy of the fine  roll despatched to the exchequer so that it knew what money to collect. As a result there is no entry for this debt on the pipe roll, the exchequer’s annual audit of  the money it was demanding for the  crown.  Instead, the only record of the existence  of the debt (apart from that on the wardrobe receipt roll) was that given here on the fine roll.   It is likewise the chancery writ, not the exchequer, which tells the sheriff that the burgesses are quit. The handling of the Bridgnorth debt was typical of many other debts at this time. Large numbers of fines between 1255 and 1257 – for  example for town liberties (as here)  and exemption from knighthood – were treated in the same way. There was no ‘constitutional’ reason for Henry bypassing the exchequer. Under its treasurer, Philip Lovel,  it was never less than under his  control.  The point was that Henry just got his money in more quickly and simply if he had such fines paid in directly to his wardrobe. Nonetheless the reformers in 1258 thought the king’s finances would be run  more responsibly if all the revenues were routed through the exchequer, a subject discussed in Richard Cassidy’s fine of the month .

The great majority of the fines paid into the wardrobe were in gold, or were in silver earmarked to buy gold, and were thus part of Henry’s campaign to build up a gold treasure to fund his Sicilian army. Another reason for making this a wardrobe treasure was that Henry could see the gold accumulating  before his eyes.  What a joy it must have been. By the autumn of 1257, however, as we have seen in previous blogs, the enterprise was beginning  to falter. Henry was having to spend his gold treasure, minting his wonderful gold penny in order to do so. The fact that the Bridgnorth fine was not in gold, or in silver earmarked to buy gold, may reflect this situation.  Henry had not quite given up, however, and these two weeks see two more fines of gold (nos.97, 102).

During the king’s visit in September 1257, the burgesses of Bridgnorth did not merely offer 50 mark for liberties. They also promised 10 marks ‘for their good coming to the king’. The Latin here, as one can see from the image, is ‘pro bono adventuo suo’. When the final checked and corrected version of the translation is put up, this passage will be altered since the ‘good coming’ is that of the king, not the burgesses. They are offering 10 marks ‘for his good coming’.  But does ‘good coming’, or ‘good arrival’ or ‘good advent’ quite capture the sense of what is happening?  At the very least, it sounds odd in modern English, and is another reason why we hope to provide the project with glossary.   What, of course, the burgesses were  giving, or in this case, promising Henry was a welcome present, one which demonstrated their loyalty, affection, and joy at his arrival. The present was designed to make his arrival ‘good’ for him, and also (in the benefits which might flow) ‘good’ for them.  In some circumstances, for example when the king was returning from overseas, there might also, wrapped up in the ‘good’, be joy at the king’s ‘safe’ arrival, and perhaps there was an element of that here too, given the hazards of the recent campaign in Wales.  Normally, we have no record of such gifts, because they were paid cash down into the wardrobe. It is only here, because the burgesses had exhausted (or so they must have said), their ready money in coming up with the initial 25 marks for their liberties, that we know about it. Such gifts, of course, in cash or precious  objects, were integral to Henry’s kingship, as they were to that of other kings. They were made, as here, by individual towns and, on a much grander and more organized scale, by the assembled great and good of the realm, on the king’s arrival back in his kingdom. They were also accompanied by other rituals, notably welcome processions of a town’s clergy and people. When the king rode up from Windsor to Westminster,  the custom was for the mayor and citizens of London to go out and meet him at Knightsbridge. They knew they were out of favour when he refused to meet them.

In such arrivals, the giving was not all one way. Quite the reverse. Henry himself might mark his coming by feeding paupers over and above his standard 100 a day, or 150 a day if the queen was with him, as she was at Bridgnorth.  He would also visit the religious establishments of the town and shower them with gifts.  At Bridgnorth, Henry  gave nine  ‘good oaks’ for work on the churches of the  Franciscan friars and  the hospital of Saint John, and another five good oaks to the canons of Bridgnorth chapel for the  repair of their chancel and stalls. His visit also brought other work to the town. On 21 September, probably the day of his arrival, he ordered  his chamber in the castle and that of the queen to be wainscoted, while the queen’s chamber was also to have  new windows and a fireplace.  On 25 September, having left Bridgnorth and arrived at Worcester, Henry ordered ten oaks to be sent to ‘the upstanding men of Bridgnorth’, as a ‘gift of the king’, to help with repairing the town gates. The visit, therefore,  had been a success. Henry’s ‘good oaks’, he doubtless hoped, would  be a perpetual memory to his piety and generosity in Bridgnorth and his concern for the security of this royal town.

The kind of ‘good arrival’, we glimpse here at Bridgnorth, must have been repeated thousands of times over during Henry’s reign. Such reciprocal rituals could  bind king and realm together.  But it did not always work like that.  Accounts in chroniclers make very plain that donors sometimes resented having to give such presents, just as the king resented it if he deemed the presents inadequate. The ritual could set apart as well as bring together. Were the men of Bridgnorth themselves disappointed that they had to pay for their ‘liberties’, especially if these were simply for the right to levy ‘murage’,  which they might have expected anyway, given  the threat from Llywelyn.  Did they also look askance at what they saw of Henry’ court?  The keeper of the wardrobe to whom they gave their money, both at Bridgnorth and Westminster, was Peter des Rivallis, one of Henry’s most notorious Poitevin servants, who was to be dismissed by the reformers in 1258.

 

Henry III Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 28 October to Sunday 4 November 1257

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

King Henry III spent all this week at Westminster.  On Sunday 28 October, his forty-second regnal year opened, Henry having been crowned at Gloucester on 28 October 1216. The new regnal year meant that the chancery clerks had to begin a fresh set off rolls.  If one clicks here,  one can see the first membrane of the fine roll for the forty-second year.

Evidently, a space has been left for a big heading in capitals,  such as is found early in the reign, which would have proclaimed that this was ‘The Roll of Fines for the forty-second year of King Henry son of King John’. The clerk, however, could not be bothered with that and contented  himself with writing in a tiny hand ‘fines anni xlii’, leaving blank space all around.  One is tempted to think that this reflects the low morale of the chancery staff as Henry’s rule became more and more ineffective and contentious. No one, however, could have foreseen that by the end of the regnal year a revolution would have stripped the king of power.

The week in the fine rolls had many points of interest, but one may be singled out. The question is often raised as to just how valuable the chancery rolls were as records of royal government. Were they ever consulted to see what the king had done? Entry no. 18 from this week provides an example of when they were.  (This is eighteen entries down in the image above). It shows  the king informing the exchequer that, ‘having inspected the rolls of the chancery’, he has found that Master Roger de Cantilupe ‘had quittance of the common summons before the justices of common pleas in their last eyre in Somerset’. What this means is that Roger had been let off appearing before the justices on the first day of their business in Somerset in answer to the general summons sent round for people to attend. Accordingly, the king went on, Roger was to be pardoned the amercement of one mark imposed on him by the justices for his ‘default’ in  not turning up.   The actual record showing Roger’s exemption is  found on the close rolls for Henry III’s fortieth year, being on the dorse of membrane 19 (Close Rolls 1254-6, p.380), so quite a considerable search must have been necessary to find it.

The fine rolls for this week, under 1 November, also record the king’s grant to Elyas Marshal of land in Alton in Hampshire. Probably this was put on the fine rolls so as to inform the exchequer, through the originalia roll (the copy of the fine roll  sent the exchequer)   of the rent which Elyas was  to pay.  The ‘in the roll’ annotation to the entry made by our editors (no.17 in the translation ) shows that  there was such an annotation on the originalia roll. This would have been made by the exchequer and indicated it had put the debt into the pipe roll, the record of the annual audit of money owed the crown.  The charter corresponding to the entry likewise bears the date 1 November. It has an interesting witness list which shows those who were soon to make the revolution were not outsiders and strangers to the court. It is headed by Roger Bigod earl of Norfolk, and also includes his brother Hugh Bigod, who were both to be leading revolutionaries.  It also features the king’s half brother, William de Valence, whom the revolution was to expel from England.  Two foreign courtiers, the Savoyard steward, Imbert Pugeys and butler, William de Sancta Ermina (another to be expelled) featured alongside two native stewards, John and William de Grey. One puzzle  concerns John de Warenne, who was earl of Surrey. Why in the witness lists here (as elsewhere)  is he not given the title of ‘earl’?

Next week, Henry has humiliating news about his gold coinage.

Fine Rolls and Pipe Rolls

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Richard Cassidy writes…

I have been looking at the way in which fines make their way from the Chancery’s fine rolls, via the originalia rolls which transmit the information to the Exchequer, onto the pipe rolls. The pipe rolls are said to relate to a given Exchequer year – that is, a year ending at Michaelmas. But I have noticed that the fines recorded in the pipe rolls do not necessarily match either the Exchequer year, or the regnal year used in the fine rolls.

For example, the Staffordshire account in the 1259 pipe roll is supposed to cover two years, from 30 September 1257 to 29 September 1259. The Nova Oblata section, recording the new entries for this roll, begins with a fine made by the abbot of Burton on 28 December 1257. The rest of the Staffordshire fines follow, more or less in the order in which they appear in the fine rolls, up to the last fine for the county from the 1258-59 fine roll, made on 24 October 1259. This fine must have been included on the section of originalia roll covering the last part of the Chancery’s year 1258-59, which the Treasurer received on 25 November 1259; the summonses derived from this roll had all been sent out to the sheriffs by Christmas 1259, according to a note on the dorse of the originalia roll. In other words, the Staffordshire entries on the pipe roll include fines made after the end of the year it is meant to cover, but before the day on which the county accounts were examined by the Exchequer (9 February 1260).

This is not entirely surprising – it is fairly well known that the pipe rolls include payments made up to the date of each county’s account, after the nominal year end. What does seem odd is the pattern of fines recorded over several years for a conveniently small county, Sussex. The Sussex fines from five years’ fine rolls can nearly all be traced in the pipe rolls (about 110 out of 120). They appear in chronological order, with one pipe roll taking over from another, but with the sequence breaking at irregular intervals:

the 1254-55 pipe roll includes fines dated up to 16 June 1255;

the 1255-56 pipe roll includes fines from 2 November 1255 to 6 June 1256;

the 1256-57 pipe roll includes fines from 12 June 1256 to 14 October 1257, plus one out-of-sequence fine from 22 November 1255;

the 1257-58 pipe roll includes fines from 16 November 1257 to 20 April 1258;

the 1258-59 pipe roll includes fines from 2 June 1258 to 30 June 1259;

the 1259-60 pipe roll includes fines from 4 July 1259 onwards.

From this sample, it seems that in most years the listing of fines in the pipe roll ended with the batch of fines sent in June in an instalment of the originalia roll. This seems odd, on the face of it, and raises the question of what exactly it means to say that a pipe roll relates to a particular year, when there seems to be no clear relationship between the nominal year of the roll and the events which it covers. I would be grateful for any suggestions which might clarify this, particularly from anybody who has already undertaken the tedious task of matching up fine roll and pipe roll entries.

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 22 May to Saturday 28 May 1261

Friday, May 27th, 2011

From Saturday 21 May till Thursday 26 May, Henry III remained at the bishop of London’s palace at Saint Pauls. The flood of litigants seeking writs to initiate and further common law legal actions continued. The fine rolls show no less than sixty such writs were purchased in these days. On Tuesday 24 May, the chancery despatched to the exchequer  a copy of the fine roll down to that date so that it knew what monies to collect.  Alongside the note  recording  this despatch,  the clerk drew a grotesque head.  In the draft translation of the roll currently on line we suggested this was might have been a caricature of Mabel, daughter of Simon de Bere, who in an adjoining entry was recorded as giving half a mark for the hearing of an assize.  Closer inspection of the image  shows the imputation is false and we are pleased to withdraw it. The head, instead, was clearly intended to mark out the note about the despatch of the roll to the exchequer.

Head drawn on membrane 10 of roll C60/58

Under the cloak of this routine business, great matters were now afoot.  The king must certainly have received the papal letter of 13 April absolving his from his oath to observe the Provisions of Oxford.  Probably too the follow up letter of 29 April had also arrived in England. This was even more crucial because it was not personal to Henry but general to the realm.  The letter empowered the  archbishop of Canterbury, the bishop of Norwich, and John Mansel, to absolve everyone from their oaths. At St Paul’s,  there must have been earnest debate as to when, where and how to detonate this explosive weapon. One problem concerned the addressees. The bishop of Norwich, a former royal judge, was completely to be trusted. So, of course, was Henry’s loyal, wise and courageous clerk,  John Mansel. Indeed, in this week Mansel was made constable of the Tower of London.  He was at court and central to the direction of policy. The problem was the archbishop, Boniface of Savoy,  the uncle of the queen, who had incurred the king’s displeasure over the legislation, very critical of royal government, passed at the Lambeth ecclesiastical council earlier in the month.  (See Sophie Ambler’s contribution to this blog).  On Thursday 26 May, Henry sent a proctor to Rome to appeal against the ordinances made  ‘to the prejudice of the king’s right and dignity and the liberties,  laws and customs of the realm’. The phraseology reflects royal thinking on a wider front. The king was now to take action against another set of Ordinances, the Provisions of Oxford, which  were equally prejudicial to the king and the realm. Henry could only hope (probably rightly) that Boniface would be more co-operative in the secular sphere than he was in the ecclesiastical.

In other respects, what was in the making seems very much a foreign, Savoyard plot, in which doubtless the queen herself was deeply involved. At court were her uncle, Peter of Savoy, and a host other Savoyards or Savoyard connections, including  Imbert Pugeys,  Imbert de Montferrand, Eubule de Montibus and Ingram de Fiennes.  Also there, providing muscle, were a group of Welsh marcher barons, James of Audley, Thomas Corbet, and Reginald fitzPeter.  Behind this group stood  the king’s brother, Richard earl of Cornwall and king of Germany.  He received major concessions this week, as did Henry his son. And even more vital was the  support or at least acquiescence of Henry’s own son, Edward. On his return to England,  he had seemed to sympathise with Montfort. But he had appeared for his father at the Lambeth conference to protest against any violation of the rights of the crown, and this week a concession was made ‘at his instance’.

It was this grouping  which took the momentous decision. They would detonate the papal letters and publicly denounce the Provisions of Oxford. But they would not do it in London. For all the security of the Tower, there was danger of an explosion from the heaving  and volatile populace. Instead the coup would be launched  somewhere both safe and symbolic. This was Winchester, Henry’s birthplace, and ancient seat of royal government, where the great castle dominated the small town, and ensured the loyalty of its docile inhabitants. Henry, therefore, left London on Thursday 26 May. Covering over thirty miles, that evening he reached his palace castle at Guildford.  There he remained, gathering breath, on the Friday and Saturday. On the Saturday, despite the tension all around,  the fine rolls recorded a characteristic act of  charity.   Henry, so he said,  had heard that the resources of Ralph de Heppewrth’ (perhaps Hepworth in Suffolk),  were insufficient to pay his debts to the Jews. Therefore, ‘out of compassion for his poverty’, Henry  took steps to ensure Ralph had enough to live off and was not ‘forced to beg’.