Posts Tagged ‘Eleanor of Provence’

Sunday 23 November 1264: two Eleanors

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

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)

Sunday 19 October 1264: return to Westminster

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

The return of the king and the government from Canterbury to Westminster demonstrated growing confidence about the threat of invasion. It was clearly no longer considered so pressing that it required the court to remain near the Kent coast. Queen Eleanor’s invasion force in Flanders was dispersing and her funds were running out. About this time, the queen gave up and withdrew to France. (Howell, Eleanor of Provence, 221)
The government acknowledged the receipt of £133 which Thomas fitz Thomas, mayor of London, had paid into the Wardrobe for the wardship of the lands and heirs of Robert le Blund, tenant-in-chief. This payment, which had been agreed in July, gave fitz Thomas control of lands in Essex, Wiltshire and Staffordshire. It showed that fitz Thomas was a very wealthy man. Despite that, he was a populist mayor who supported the reforming regime and opposed the élite of aldermen who traditionally ruled London. It also showed that the government was continuing to channel income through the Wardrobe, rather than the Treasury (although this payment does not appear in the accounts of the Wardrobe, which handled the finances of the royal household) — the sort of behaviour which the reformers had once criticized. (CPR 1258-66, 341, 353; CFR 1263-64, 302)

Edward the Confessor, Henry III’s favourite saint, as depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry

Edward the Confessor, Henry III’s favourite saint, as depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry

The feast of Edward the Confessor on 13 October was always an important event for Henry III. It would seem that it was celebrated as usual this year. The court had returned to Westminster, the king’s sauser was buying pepper, cumin and cinnamon to make sauces for the king at the feast, and the keeper of the wardrobe was buying wax and gold coins for offerings. (CLR 1260-67, 143-4) One chronicler, in the annals of Dunstable, records that the clergy of England met in a council at Westminster on 19 October, to ratify an appeal against the legate’s condemnation. (C&S, II, I, 700)

Sunday 5 October 1264: undelivered letters

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

Pope Urban IV died on 2 October, which formally ended Guy Foulquois’ appointment as papal legate, although the news would obviously take some time to reach the legate in northern France. The legate’s attempts to impose a settlement between the Montfortian government and the royalist exiles, led by the queen, had effectively collapsed. Queen Eleanor’s representatives had withdrawn from the talks, saying that the queen was outraged that nothing had been said about the hostages, her son and nephew. On 3 October, the representatives of the baronial government, the bishops of Winchester and London, also withdrew for further deliberations, taking with them a letter from the legate to the bishops of England. This ordered the bishops to announce the excommunication of the leading barons and of the citizens of London and the Cinque Ports, unless they had submitted to the legate’s demands within fifteen days. These demands included a complex scheme for arbitration, overseen by the legate, which would have required the barons to surrender Dover castle and the hostages – terms which were clearly unacceptable to the barons. The bishops were also ordered not to pay the tenth or any other form of subsidy to the baronial government. In any event, the legate’s letters never reached their destination; the citizens of Dover seized them, tore them up and threw them into the sea. (Heidemann, register, 43-4; Flores, II, 501)

Castle and ship, from BL Royal 10 E IV, the Smithfield Decretals.

Castle and ship, from BL Royal 10 E IV, the Smithfield Decretals.

The traditional enmity between the sailors of the Cinque Ports and those of Yarmouth had broken out again. The government intervened on the side of the Cinque Ports, which were playing a crucial role in the defence of the south-east coast against a possible landing by the forces which queen Eleanor had assembled across the Channel. They were to be compensated for any losses caused by the men of Yarmouth, as the men of the Cinque Ports were ‘labouring manfully about the defence of the sea and the maritime parts against the invasion of aliens’. Hostages from Yarmouth were to be delivered to the sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, who would hold them in Norwich castle, as security against disorder breaking out at Yarmouth fair. The sheriff was to ensure that the arguments between the Cinque Ports and Yarmouth did not lead to new contentions and grievances at the fair, while the burgesses of Yarmouth were warned to keep the peace, or ‘the king will betake himself so grievously to them that they and their heirs shall thenceforward feel themselves aggrieved in no small measure.’ (CPR 1258-66, 352, 372-3)
The liberate roll contains a passing reference to a sad event. Lord Edward, the king’s son, was still being held as a hostage. At this time, the only child of Edward and Eleanor of Castile was Katherine, of whom we know only that she was born some time between 1261 and 1263, and died in September 1264. The king’s almoner paid 4 marks for two cloths of gold adorned with wheels for the use of Katherine, Edward’s deceased daughter. The almoner also received £40 for making offerings on the day of Katherine’s funeral. Some of the usual pieties were evidently being observed, even while Edward was a captive. (CLR 1260-67,143; Morris, A Great and Terrible King, 73)

Sunday 27 July 1264: heirs, courts and ships

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

The fine rolls record a transaction this week which shows both the continuation of the normal mechanisms concerning inheritance, and the way in which de Montfort’s regime used its position of power to reward supporters. Alfred of Lincoln was a member of a gentry family, long established in Dorset and Somerset (he was the fifth with the same, rather confusing, name). Alfred had succeeded his father, Alfred IV, in 1240, when he paid a relief of £100. Alfred V died in 1264, without male heirs, and his estates were divided between his three sisters, or their heirs. On 11 July, the fine roll recorded that the king had taken homage from the three heirs: Albreda of Lincoln, Alfred’s sister; Robert fitz Payn, the son of Alfred’s sister Margery; and William de Gouiz, the son of Alfred’s sister Beatrice. In each case, the escheator was to give them seisin of their share of the family estates, having accepted security for payment of relief. On 21 July, there was a further entry in the fine roll, pardoning fitz Payn and Gouiz payment of the relief they owed, for their praiseworthy service to the king and the damages they had sustained in his service in the conflict at Lewes. (CFR 1263-64, 136-8, 147; John Walker, ‘Lincoln family’, ODNB; CIPM, I, 580; Close Rolls 1261-64, 350)

There were other signs that the routine processes of administration were beginning to function, at least in parts of the country. The county courts of Nottinghamshire and Kent both met on Monday 21 July, with the sheriffs appointed by the new government presiding. The sheriffs’ accounts show only that a few minor amercements were imposed at each court, but they indicate that there was at least a measure of order and justice being established in those counties. Similarly, William de Wendling was appointed escheator for the southern half of the country, with authority to appoint or replace each county’s local escheator; the escheators played a key role in administering lands that fell into the king’s hands, and delivering the revenues to the Exchequer, as in the case of the lands of Alfred of Lincoln. (E 389/81; E 389/121; CPR 1258-66, 338)

The government was increasingly concerned about the threat of invasion, and the need to assert its authority over Bordeaux and Bayonne. Two masters of Gascon ships were thanked for refusing to carry enemies from Flanders, but ships from Bristol and Southampton had been detained in Bordeaux. Eleanor of Provence may have had more influence in Gascony than de Montfort’s government: she was in France, with cash to pay for shipping, and influential support. On 24 July, she wrote to Alphonse of Poitiers, as she was sending messengers to La Rochelle to recruit ships to carry the invasion force assembled at Damme. (CPR 1258-66, 338, 363; Howell, Eleanor of Provence, 215-6)

Henry III, under de Montfort’s control, wrote to the king of France, proposing that negotiations should begin. Henry would be at Dover by 7 August, and messengers from Henry and his barons would be at Boulogne the following day. Henry also wrote to Simon de Montfort and Gilbert de Clare about these arrangements, to ensure that they would have their representatives at Boulogne, and that lord Edward and Henry of Almain, the hostages, would be brought to Dover. (Close Rolls 1261-64, 398-9)

Sunday 1 June 1264: from Rochester to London

Sunday, June 1st, 2014
Rochester cathedral and castle

Rochester cathedral and castle

Simon de Montfort and Henry were in Rochester at the beginning of the week. The castle there had held out against de Montfort’s siege in April. According to the Canterbury/Dover chronicle, Simon now swore that he would not eat until the castle surrendered to him. The castellan would not surrender without instructions from the king, but then came to the priory where the king was staying, and in the chapter house handed over the castle to the king and the earl. While they were in Rochester, de Montfort wrote in Henry’s name to the king of France, informing him that peace had been restored, and seeking his co-operation in the arbitration proposed under the mise of Lewes. (Gervase, II, 238; Close Rolls 1261-64, 386)

By 28 May, de Montfort and the captive king had reached Westminster, and on 30 May they moved to St Paul’s, where they remained for several weeks. There was now time for the new administration to deal with some outstanding issues. The church received attention, with royal assent to the election of Walter Giffard as bishop of Bath and Wells. The new bishop’s proctors had to go to France to find archbishop Boniface and seek his confirmation of the election, and obtain authority for the consecration. The university was instructed to return to Oxford, from where it had been expelled in March, when the king established his headquarters in the city. (CPR 1258-66, 319-20)

In the immediate aftermath of the battle of Lewes, lord Edward and Henry of Almain (earl Richard’s son) had been sent to Dover castle, in the custody of Henry de Montfort. They were then transferred to Wallingford castle, under the supervision of Eleanor de Montfort. Earl Richard had been sent to the Tower of London on 30 May, but he too was soon sent to Wallingford, formerly his own castle, where he became the involuntary guest of his sister Eleanor. (Wilkinson, Eleanor de Montfort, 105-6; London annals, 64)

Queen Eleanor had reached the French court in Paris by 1 June. She then acknowledged the receipt of the money due from Louis IX under the Treaty of Paris. (Howell, Eleanor of Provence, 211)

Sunday 25 May 1264: under new management

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

This week, Simon de Montfort transported his captive king through Kent. They began the week in Battle, and made their way to Canterbury. According to the Canterbury/Dover chronicle, they reached Canterbury on 20 May, and spent several days in a great discussion of affairs. The earl and the king, and many prisoners, set off again for London on 25 May, and reached Rochester, by way of Ospringe, near Faversham. While the court was at Ospringe, the writing of the originalia roll resumed, as the bureaucracy of government began to function under new management (although maintaining the fiction of acting in the king’s name). On 25 May, Dover castle and the Cinque Ports were committed to Henry de Montfort, earl Simon’s son; this is also recorded a few days later in the patent roll. The young de Montfort was thus in charge of the strategically crucial crossing from France. In addition, he had custody of lord Edward and Henry of Almain, earl Richard’s son. These royal hostages were held in Dover castle, and, according to a royalist chronicler, treated harshly by Henry de Montfort. (Gervase II, 238; CFR 1263-64, no. 266; Ann Mon IV, 153)

Dover castle in the 17th century, by Wenceslaus Hollar.

Dover castle in the 17th century, by Wenceslaus Hollar.

The royal household was being supported by local officials as it passed through Kent: the Wardrobe received cash from the bailiffs of Canterbury (including 20 marks which they should have delivered as alms for the monks of Pontigny); the bailiff of the manor of Ospringe also provided cash, and had to pay for wine which the household had taken in Canterbury. There was clearly little cash in hand, but the household was planning ahead, and arranging to use the farm of the city of London to pay for wine and bread for Whitsun (which fell on 8 June). (CLR 1260-67, 136; CPR 1258-66, 318)

De Montfort was taking steps to let the counties know of his victory. The bailiffs of Derby were informed that peace had been made, and instructed to prevent disorder. The coroners were to proclaim the peace throughout the county. (CPR 1258-66, 359)

A group of royalist magnates, including earl Warenne, William de Valence, Guy de Lusignan and Hugh Bigod, had fled from Lewes and made their way to Pevensey castle, and thence to France. They joined queen Eleanor, who had been trying to organize military support for Henry, and informed her of the king’s misfortune. They stayed with her for a while, awaiting happier times, as one chronicle put it. Another chronicle, the London annals, claims that the émigrés went to the king of France, and told him that Henry had been captured by the barons while asleep in his bed at Lewes, unarmed and without warning. They urged Louis to help Henry, and Louis was angered by their lies. While Simon and Henry were in Canterbury, Guy de Lusignan’s household were given permission to leave the country and join him. (Howell, Eleanor of Provence, 211; Battle chronicle, in Bémont, 377; Ann Mon IV, 152; London annals, 64; CPR 1258-66, 318)

Sunday 11 May 1264: the road to Lewes

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

With the rebels having retreated from Rochester, Henry was now concentrating on the ports of the south-east coast. The Cinque Ports could provide ships for a blockade of London, and there was the possibility of bringing in troops from across the Channel: queen Eleanor had remained in France when Henry returned to England in February, and was trying to arrange for military support for her husband’s cause. On 7 May, she wrote to Alphonse of Poitiers, urging him to seize any English ships in his ports, which included La Rochelle; despite Eleanor’s appeal, and her references to the treachery of the barons who were striving to disinherit the king and his children, Alphone refused. (Howell, Eleanor of Provence, 209)

The gatehouse of Battle Abbey, 1792, by Michael Angelo Rooker

The gatehouse of Battle Abbey, 1792, by Michael Angelo Rooker

Henry’s forces began the week in Battle, then moved to Winchelsea, where they spent a few days ravaging the countryside and helping themselves to the wine in the port, before returning to Battle. Henry was making preparations for the next stage of his campaign in the south-east. According to Walter of Guisborough, while at Winchelsea Henry made peace with the sailors of the Cinque Ports and came to an agreement for their support. The London annals claim that some of the mayors and leading men of Winchelsea and the other ports came over to the king, believing that they would be well rewarded. The Worcester annals imply that it was a less amicable arrangement, with Henry taking hostages from the Cinque Ports to make them submit. (Henry had certainly taken hostages from Winchelsea, as the close roll records that he sent them back from Battle on 9 May, with instructions to summon ships, supplies and men to the king’s service.) Henry ordered the men of the Weald to assemble with arms in Canterbury on Monday 12 May. He may have intended to attack the rebel stronghold of Dover. This would effectively have left the rebels isolated in London, had it come to pass, but the king’s opponents were also on the move. (CPR 1258-66, 316, 359; Close Rolls 1261-64, 383-4; Battle chronicle, in Bémont, 376; Guisborough, 192; Gervase, II, 236; London annals, 62; Ann Mon, IV, 451)

De Montfort led the forces of the barons and Londoners out of the city on 6 May. As a hostile chronicler put it, de Montfort had gathered together a great multitude of barons, together with a countless crowd of Londoners, because the number of fools is infinite. Hearing that the rebels were advancing, Henry moved from Battle to Lewes, which had the advantage of a strong castle belonging to his loyal supporter John de Warenne. By 11 May, Henry was established in Lewes priory, while de Montfort was only about eight miles away at his own manor of Fletching. (Cronica Maiorum, 62; Ann Mon, IV, 148; Carpenter, Battles of Lewes and Evesham, 16-18)

Sunday 17 February 1264: the return of the king

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

After more than six weeks in France, Henry III sailed back to Dover on 15 February. He left queen Eleanor, Peter of Savoy and John Mansel in France, in charge of raising funds to finance the coming struggle for power. They were to receive the payment due from Louis of France, under the terms of the Treaty of Paris, and to raise money using the king’s jewels, which had been deposited at the Temple in Paris. (CPR 1258-66, 381)

The king’s return to England brought a prompt reminder that his authority was far from unquestioned. He had sent messengers from Wissant, demanding entry to Dover castle, and received the reply that the castle would not be delivered to anyone without orders from Richard de Grey, to whom the castle had been committed by the council. Hugh Bigod and Roger Leybourne crossed to France to urge Henry to return, and when Henry reached Dover he was honourably received in Dover priory. But when he again demanded entry to the castle, he received the same answer as before. Henry’s response seems rather feeble: he had the Mise of Amiens read out to all those present, then went to Canterbury, where he stayed for nine days. (Gervase of Canterbury, II, 232-3)

The king’s brother, earl Richard, had reached Hereford, a good deal closer to the fighting which had begun along the Severn. He ordered the sheriff to pay £20 for equipping Hereford castle. (CLR 1260-67, 131) There were also indications of trouble in the north of England. In December 1263, Robert Neville had been appointed as one of the king’s keepers of the peace in the northern counties. About this time, he wrote to the king, complaining that he found only tepid support for measures to oppose the rebels. He asked for orders to be sent to Robert Bruce, John Comyn, John Balliol and Henry Percy, instructing them to assist Neville in keeping the peace north of the Trent. Neville also asked for a strong garrison in Pontefract castle, ‘which is like the key to Yorkshire’. (Royal Letters, II, 255)

Henry had thus returned to find that he faced problems in all parts of the country.

1264: the blog begins

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014
Henry III versus Simon de Montfort, from the British Library manuscript Royal 16 G VI, Chroniques de France ou de St Denis, after 1332, before 1350

Henry III versus Simon de Montfort, from the British Library manuscript Royal 16 G VI, Chroniques de France ou de St Denis, after 1332, before 1350

This illustration from a French chronicle gives an attractively simplified view of the Barons’ War.  The reality was rather more complex than a mounted combat between Henry III and Simon de Montfort, picturesque as that might appear. This year, 2014, could be a good opportunity to take a closer look at events, week by week. The 750th anniversary of the battle of Lewes, and the other events of 1264, seem worth remembering, even if likely to be overshadowed by other anniversaries this year and next.

David Carpenter’s blogs for 1257 and 1261 showed how much material is available, in the fine rolls and other records of this period, to build up a detailed account. Those years were chosen because their calendars largely coincided with the years when the blogs appeared. Of course, 1264 was a leap year, and 2014 isn’t; but the calendars do align from 1 March onwards, with Easter day falling on 20 April in both years. And 1264 should provide plenty of material for a blog: Louis IX of France’s attempt at mediation, in the mise of Amiens; the drift towards all-out war; the initial royal success at Northampton; de Montfort’s victory at Lewes, and the captivity of the king; the queen massing an invasion force in France, and the popular response in defence of England’s shores; a new constitution, establishing rule by a small council, with the king as a figurehead; the papal legate’s attempts to intervene; and the war in the Welsh Marches, ending with the marchers’ submission and agreement to go into exile.

Comments and corrections would be welcome. Contributions on any aspect of the year would be even more welcome. In the absence of volunteers, arms will be twisted …

 

MParis heading

When the year began, king Henry was in France, or on his way there.1 Henry was heading for Amiens, where Louis IX was to consider the submissions of the king and his baronial opponents, and deliver his judgment on their conflicting claims. Queen Eleanor was already in France, having stayed there after Henry’s previous meeting with Louis IX in September-October 1263. There was also a group of royalist exiles in France, including the king’s influential counsellor John Mansel, who were alleged to be lobbying for French support against the baronial party. Henry had left his brother Richard of Cornwall in charge of the government in England, and it was Richard who attested the relatively few letters patent issued in England in January and February 1264. According to one chronicle, the lord Edward collected a large army after Christmas, and devoted himself to plunder and arson; but according to another, he accompanied his father to France.2

Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, recognized as the leader of the baronial movement, should have been travelling to Amiens too. He had set out from his castle at Kenilworth, and had only reached Catesby, Northamptonshire, when his horse fell. De Montfort’s leg was broken, and he had to return to Kenilworth.3

The arbitration at Amiens had been agreed late in 1263, as part of an uneasy, and widely disregarded, truce. After a year of varying fortunes, neither side could claim victory, or even a clear chance of victory. Henry had the support of most of the magnates, and had won over the lords of the Welsh Marches. One of their leaders, Roger Mortimer, had been granted de Montfort’s three manors in Herefordshire, where fighting and looting continued.4 At the end of December, the marchers had been instructed to seek a truce with Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the Welsh leader who had led a successful revolt against English domination.5 Henry had resumed control of the machinery of central government, but the loyalty of the counties was less secure. On 20 December, Henry sent a propaganda letter to all the counties, denying that he had tried to bring foreigners into the country, and pledging that he would always keep his oath made at Oxford – that is, to observe the provisions for good government; a few days later, he had appointed keepers in 22 counties, with a military role distinct from the sheriffs’ administrative functions, apparently preparing for conflict.6

Henry’s opponents could rely on the city of London, run by a populist mayor who had overthrown the old city hierarchy. The Londoners had saved de Montfort from being trapped by Henry’s forces outside London on 11 December. The baronial party also held Dover castle, and thus commanded the main route into England from the Continent. Early in December, Henry had been refused entry to the castle, by a custodian loyal to the baronial council. Many of the bishops also backed reform, but the Pope had appointed a legate, Guy Foulquois, with instructions explicitly hostile to de Montfort.

Such was the situation as the year began.

  1. The classic account of this period, R.F. Treharne’s The Baronial Plan of Reform, says on p. 337 that Henry crossed to France on 27 December 1263, and on p. 387 that Henry was at Dover on 1 January 1264. The first date derives from Thomas Wykes’ chronicle, Annales Monastici [Ann Mon] IV, 139, the second from Chancery records (CPR 1258-66, 376). Unfortunately, Treharne’s work ends in January 1264, and his promised second volume, The Barons’ War, 1264-68, never appeared.
  2. Chronicle of Bury St Edmunds, 28; Ann Mon III, 227. Michael Prestwich, Edward I, 41, is clear: ‘Edward accompanied his father to Amiens for the negotiations.’
  3. Ann Mon, III, 227.
  4. Ann Mon, III, 226.
  5. Close Rolls 1261-64, 373.
  6. CPR 1258-66, 357-8.

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.