Posts Tagged ‘Edward I’

KCL at The National Archives

Friday, April 26th, 2013

 

MA students from KCL at The National Archives

MA students from KCL at The National Archives

On Wednesday 27 March a group of students from KCL’s MA in Medieval History visited The National Archives. They were taken round by Dr Jessica Nelson (centre in group photo) who herself studied for her MA and doctorate at King’s. Illustrated below are some of the documents the group looked at.

closerollhead

A marginal head from a close roll

nationalarchivesroll

A Basset charter

A Basset charter

On the following day David Carpenter was back at TNA to photo the authorised version of Magna Carta in the Red Book of the Exchequer. While there he took the images illustrated of Henry II on his death bed (from the text of his will in the Black Book of the Exchequer):IMG_0032

and the image of Edward I legislating in the cartulary of Malmesbury Abbey:IMG_0052

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 19 August to Saturday 8 September 1257

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

These were the weeks of Henry III’s campaign in Wales, all be it a campaign of a very static nature. Its basic outline can be seen from the fine rolls, if you look at the relevant membrane. Here, five items from the bottom, is a letter witnessed by the king at Chester on 18 August: T’ R’ ap’ Cestr xviii. die Aug, that is  Teste Rege apud Cestr’ xviii. die Augusti. The next entry, four from bottom, the letter  is witnessed by the king ‘in castris apud Gannok’ (in the fields at Deganwy)  on 30 August. And then the next shows him back at Chester, the witness clause having the date 13 September.

Other evidence shows that Henry arrived at Deganwy on 27 August and stayed there till at least 4 September. At Deganwy, of course, was the great castle which Henry had built to hold down his Welsh conquests between the Conwy and the Dee. The castle stood proud, high above the Conwy estuary, and glared westwards towards the great mountain ranges in the heart of Gwynedd. For images, click here.

Henry, however, as the witness clause in the fine rolls shows, did not stay in the castle but in the fields round about.  There he probably lived in a great pavilion lent him by the earl of Gloucester.  Doubtless the castle was full masons, for one object of the campaign was to repair and augment its defences. Another was to ravage the land of  Llywelyn and his supporters. Matthew Paris gives a vivid picture of Henry, riding about ‘elegantly’ in armour under his dragon standard, encouraging his knights, although whether this amounted to more than wishing them well as they set out on their chevauchées  one may doubt. Henry had also much bigger schemes. These were the conquest of Anglesey and the division of what was left of Gwynedd west of Conwy between Llywelyn’s disaffected brothers. To that end, he had summoned shipping both from Ireland and the Cinque Ports. Henry’s ambitions, therefore,   were just as great as those of his son, the future Edward I. The difference was that Edward actually carried them out. Indeed, present on this campaign, he may have learnt something from his father’s failure.

For fail Henry did. In a letter to the earl of Gloucester from Deganwy on 4 September, he explained that he was going home.  The shipping had not arrived for the invasion of Anglesy and winter was approaching. Given that it was only  the first week of September, this was hardly a complete excuse, and Henry was clearly embarrassed by the decision. He explained to the earl (who had been far more successful in South Wales), that the decision had been taken  on the advice of the magnates present with him. It was not at all what he would have wanted, indeed it  was ‘repugnant’ to him. He was determined to return next summer and finish the job. Meanwhile  (which was not said in the letter),  Henry realised with relief that he could get back to Westminster in time for the feast of Edward the Confessor on 13 October, as both Matthew Paris and the Dunstable annalist noted. Indeed perhaps the desire to do that was another reason for abandoning the campaign. Nonetheless, Henry was serious about coming back. He was under pressure from Edward and the marcher barons; but he also felt deeply on his own account about preserving his Welsh conquests.  Preparations for the campaign of 1258 went on through the winter.

Returning to the fine rolls, it is interesting to see that the campaign brought an almost complete stop to the usual business.  Clearly no one sought the king out at Deganwy to buy the usual writs to initiate and further legal actions.  There is only one item of business recorded at Deganwy, itself the only business on the roll between 18 August and 13 September. This was, on 30 August, to allow the baron, Philip de Columbars [one of two Colombières near Bayeux in Normandy] to pay his £100 relief to enter his inheritance  on easier terms  as a reward for the service he was giving in the Welsh army.  The £100 relief, was, of course, in line with what was laid down in Magna Carta. It will be interesting to see how business picks up as Henry returns to Westminster

Peter de Chauvent (Champvent)

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Dr Michael Ray writes….

In the blog for the week of 6 November to 12 November 1261, David Carpenter mentions the presence of the Savoyard Peter de Champvent.  Champvent had only just moved into the premier league of curiales.  He had witnessed his first royal charter on 23 May.

First noted in England in June 1252, the King paid ten marks for his expenses when Peter, ‘his dear squire’, was sick in London during that October.  His brother, the cleric William, arrived at about the same time.  Peter built a career in royal service and received rewards in the form of marriages and wardships as well as annual fees.  William too moved up, becoming Dean of St Martin le Grand in 1262 and being used on papal missions.  Peter was a Keeper of the King’s Arms when violence broke out in 1263 and served with the Lord Edward in the garrison of Windsor.  Spoils of war came to him in the form of lands granted to him together with his cousin Otto de Grandson who made his first appearance in England in 1265.   Otto’s father, Peter, had received a royal pension from Henry III  since 1245.  He was the brother of Henry de Champvent, the father of Peter de Champvent.  Henry’s father, Ebal, had divided his lands in the Pays de Vaud, now Switzerland, between his sons.  Peter de Grandson obtained the castle of Grandson on the shores of Lake Neuchâtel, whilst Henry was given Champvent which lies on the edge of the Jura, and where he began the castle which was later substantially built by Peter de Champvent.

Champvent Chateau

Whilst Peter de Champvent stayed close to Henry III, Otto de Grandson became part of the Lord Edward’s circle.  William de Champvent returned to Vaud where he was Bishop of Lausanne from 1273 until 1301.  (Peter’s younger brother, Otto, a notorious absentee cleric in England, became Bishop in turn in 1309).   Peter was made Constable and later Sheriff of Gloucester.   He journeyed with the King during his last months.  When the new King, Edward I, returned to England, Peter suffered something of an eclipse.  He had lost his Gloucester posts in 1273 and, although he had witnessed 65 charters for Henry III, he did not witness another royal charter for seven years.  But, by 1286, he was Steward of the royal household and was promoted to be Chamberlain in 1291.  He saw military service in Wales and Scotland including fighting at the battle of Falkirk and, in 1295, he was recorded in one entry as the King’s secretary.  When parliament met in 1299, Peter was summoned as a baron.  The last record emanating from his lifetime refers to his Scottish lands in 1302 but he died in 1303.

The Grandsons or Grandisons have left a rich legacy in England being commemorated by peerage titles, rings, ivories, an annual carol service, a book of pedigrees, paintings in Westminster Abbey, place and street names, and armorials in embroidery and stained glass.  The Champvents have disappeared but, this summer, in the beautiful church of Norbury in Derbyshire, I found the arms of both Peter de Champvent and Otto de Grandson in a marvellous array of late thirteenth-century glass.

Arms of Peter de Champvent in Norbury Church

Elias de Rabayn

Friday, May 6th, 2011

It is not surprising that Henry III sent for Elias Rabayn (see ‘Elyas de Rabayne’ in Henry III Fine Rolls Blog, Sunday 24 April to Saturday 30 April 1261).  Like all his fellow aliens, Rabayn, whilst much criticised by the English and their chroniclers, maintained a scrupulous loyalty to the King.  It is ironic that the only alien who betrayed him was the one to whom he had been most generous, Simon de Montfort.

The thirteenth century saw several waves of aliens coming to serve the English kings.  They came from Normandy, Touraine, Poitou, Savoy and even Germany.  The last wave, who arrived before the reform period, was that of the Poitevins.  They came to England in 1247, when the Lusignans arrived to be welcomed by their generous half-brother, Henry III.   Rabayn, probably from the Isle of Oléron, was first noted in English records in 1247.  He married an heiress and was Sheriff of Somerset and Dorset in 1251 as well as Constable of Corfe and Sherborne.  Corfe was a vital castle which had once been the home of King John’s treasure and was still used for the imprisonment of important captives.  Rabayn retained Corfe when he was replaced as sheriff in 1255.  It was a gift of 500 marks’ worth of land to Rabayn that infuriated Matthew Paris in 1252.  He wrote that, whilst the King had refused to allow his own subjects to pay their debts in installments, he had nevertheless rewarded the Poitevin.

When the storm broke around the King’s head in 1258, the Barons in their Petition of that May asked that all royal castles including those adjoining harbours from which ships sailed, should be committed to the custody of men born in England and that no women should be disparaged by being married to ‘men who are not true-born Englishmen’.  As a result of the Provisions of Oxford of June/July, the Norman, John de Plessis, far from being removed, was appointed to the group of four who would chose the King’s Council, by a vote of the Barons.  In addition he was to hold Devizes castle.  Mathias Bezill was retained as Constable of Gloucester but Imbert Pugeys was removed from the Tower of London.  Rabayn lost the custody of Corfe castle.  The main casualties of 1258 were the Poitevins.  Their leaders, the Lusignans, who were perceived to have resisted the reformers, were driven out of England.  Their fall impacted on their associates; Rabayn also left England and his lands were taken into the King’s hands. 

1261 saw Henry III overthrowing the Provisions of Oxford and recovering his royal power. He replaced sheriffs with those he could trust.  With the recovery of royal power, some of the Poitevins returned; on 14 April, Rabayn was granted permission to return to England and was told to come at all speed.  Nine days later, he was remitted of the King’s rancour and his lands, which had been taken into the King’s hands on that account, were to be restored to him.

Serious concerns about disturbances in Wales and the March marked the beginning of 1263 and the King planned to go there with Rabayn as one of his party.  During June a petition of the Barons was produced which sought the restitution of the Provisions of Oxford but with a new demand that ‘aliens should depart from the kingdom never further to return, save those whose stay the faithful men of the realm might with unanimous assent accept’.  By July the King had agreed to the baronial demand and, following his consent  to  the Statute against the Aliens, the Lord Edward was forced to cede Windsor castle to the barons.  The alien knights had moved there when they were removed from London.   These knights were then escorted to the Channel coast and, according to one chronicler, ‘they returned to their native land’ and to another, they were allowed to ‘freely depart with their horses and arms after first swearing not to come back again without being sent for by the community‘. Was Rabayn among them?   But by November the Windsor castle was back in royal hands.

 As part of their submission to the arbitration of Louis IX of France, the Barons returned to the attack on the aliens, albeit linked to courtiers in general.  When, in January 1264, Louis announced his judgement at  Amiens, one knight with Henry III in France was Rabayn.  But perhaps he sensed that trouble was coming as, in February, he obtained a licence to crenellate his manor at Upway, near Lyme Regis in Dorset.

It is not certain whether Rabayn was at the Battles of Lewes or Evesham but he held rebel’s lands as early as October 1265.   Rabayn has been said to have joined the Lord Edward’s crusade but his presence as a royal charter witness during this period shows that he did not go.  However, he was Constable of Corfe again from 1272 until 1280 and for a short while he regained Sherborne castle.  When he died in 1285, some of his lands went to the alien Bezill family as his daughter married Mathias’s Bezill’s son, John.

A contribution by Dr Michael Ray