Posts Tagged ‘Gascony’

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)

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 4 November to Saturday 10 November 1257

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Henry’s itinerary for this week is revealed in the dating clauses of the writs enrolled on the fine rolls.

Henry began the week at Westminster and then went to Windsor.  In the fine roll business, one item stands out. This is the fine  (37 down in the above image and no.37 in the translation)  made by the baron, Peter de Maulay, lord of Doncaster and other lands in Yorkshire. Peter offered 60 marks (so £40) to be pardoned Henry’s indignation and rancour. He had incurred this through failing  either to muster personally or to send his due quota of knights to the king’s recent expedition to Wales. As a result, the sheriff of Yorkshire had been ordered to take his lands into the king’s hands. These were now to be restored to him.  Henry was arguably well within his rights in seizing Peter’s lands. After all,  Peter had failed in the most basic obligation of a baron, namely to provide the military service due from his barony.  It would be interesting to know, however, whether the seizure was ordered after some kind of ‘judgement by peers’ had been given against Peter. After all, Magna Carta had laid down that no one was to be disseised save by ‘the lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land’.  If there was no judgement, was Henry covered by the ‘law of the land’, which might be thought to sanction seizure when there was so blatant and basic a failure to fulfil  obligations?  The episode shows the power of Henry’s kingship when he chose to exercise it, for Peter was brought to heel and forced to offer his fine of 60 marks. On the other hand, the amount was hardly very large and one can imagine King John being far more punitive.  Henry himself,  admittedly for very different offences, had been far more punitive himself  in his treatment, at this time,  of John de Balliol and Robert de Ros for which see the fine of the month for last August.

This was not the first time Peter de Maulay had been in trouble with the king.  In January 1254, while in Gascony, Henry had sent a furious letter home to the queen, his regent in England (Close Rolls 12534, p.295). This complained that Peter had come out to Gascony late, and then done more harm than good. Indeed, he had insulted the king to his face, and tried to undermined the allegiance of  ‘the faithful men of England’  by persuading them to return home. Having, nonetheless, been placed in charge of fifty knights,  forming the king’s body guard, Peter  had gone off  without leave, placing the king in great peril. The queen and the home government were, therefore, ordered to ‘pay him back as you think expedient’. Given the depth of Henry’s anger, this seems a fairly mind form of punishment, and perhaps voices were already being raised on Peter’s behalf.  In the event, the letter was not sent, and Peter was soon back in favour. The storm in 1257 seems similarly to have passed away. Peter remained loyal during the subsequent civil war.  There are signs he was in financial difficulties, which perhaps explain why, in November 1258, he leased Doncaster and other properties for ten years to Simon de Montfort (Cal.Patent Rolls 1258-66, p.5)  Perhaps  Peter did not find  the great earl an altogether congenial tenant.

Peter de Maulay’s father, Peter de Maulay I,  had been one of King John’s most notorious foreign imports.  The reputed murderer of Arthur, his marriage to the Doncaster heiress had been one of the episodes which lay behind Magna Carta’s stipulation that heirs should not be ‘disparaged’ by being married to someone of a lower social class.  Henry III’s allegation that Peter de Maulay II, in Gascony, had tried to undermine the allegiance of the ‘fideles Angliae’,  suggests that he was now fully accepted as one of their number. Peter de Maulays were to continue, one after the other, as lords of Doncaster all the way down to 1438. A great deal about Peter de  Maulay I, may be found in N. Vincent’s Peter des Roches and D.A. Carpenter’s Minority of Henry III.

About another person making a fine  this week, much is known, although we are now at the level not of the baronage, but of the country gentry. Again, as in so much else, there is a Magna Carta angle. In the fine 27 down in the above image, and 27 in the translation, Thomas de Hotot offered one mark of gold (worth 10 marks of silver) to be exempted from assizes, which meant essentially he did not have to appear on juries. Thomas was lord of Clopton in Northamptonshire, and other properties, many of them acquired by his father Richard. It was Thomas who put together and partly wrote a fascinating register which contains  a family history,  surveys of  land, and records of  acquisitions. The register shows how politically aware were gentry lords for it also contained a text of the 1225 Magna Carta and the 1217 charter of the forest, as well as the charters in which King John made the kingdom a papal fief. The register is printed in A Northamptonshire Miscellany, ed. E. King (Northamptonshire Record society, xxxii, 1983).  The fine itself to be exempted from juries adds a little to our picture of Thomas’s world.  He had to come (or send) twice to court in connection with it.  The initial fine was made on 4 November 1257 at Westminster, while payment, (as a note  added to the fine shows)  was made to Peter de Rivallis, keeper of the wardrobe, at Windsor in the following January. It is a testimony to the business sense we see in the register, that Thomas paid in the whole of the one mark of gold in January, although only half was due then, the other half being due at Easter.

Thomas’s fine of gold shows that Henry was still trying to build up a gold treasure to finance the army which would help him conquer Sicily, a vain ambition if ever there was one, for which see the fine of the month for February 2012.

The ambition had recently become even vainer  because, while Henry was still receiving gold for his treasure, he was also spending it at a far quicker rate.  He had no alternative given his financial problems.  In order to spend it, Henry came up with a brilliant idea or so he thought. He would turn his treasure into his own gold coinage, the first minted in England since the Norman Conquest. The gold coin weighed two silver pennies,  and thus was worth twenty pence of silver. Unfortunately, the new coinage proved extremely unpopular.  In response, on Sunday 4 November, Henry summoned the mayor and citizens of London to come before him at the exchequer. He charged them on their allegiance to say if the new coinage was ‘of value for the common benefit of the kingdom or not’. The answer was that it was not!  This was partly because it was irrelevant for poor people whose total wealth was not worth one gold penny. It was also because (and here the goldsmith lobby spoke) because the sudden appearance of so much gold, as the king broke into his treasure to pay his expenses, was bringing down the value of the metal.  Henry, defiant, said he still wished the coinage to run, but it was not a success, which is why so few of his gold coins survive, making it the most valuable British coin at auction. The penny shows Henry sitting elegantly on his throne, crowned and holding orb and sceptre. As so often in Henry’s kingship, there was a glaring contrast between image and reality.

For an image of one of the coins, click here.

 

 

 

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 20 May to Sunday 27 May 1257

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Henry spent all this week at Westminster. He was preparing for the great feast of Pentecost on Sunday 28 May. To join in the celebrations, he was joined during the week by Walter de Cantilupe, bishop of Worcester, Peter of Savoy, Simon de Montfort earl of Leicester and Richard de Clare earl of Gloucester. Both Savoy and Montfort used their presence to  secure concessions from the king.  Montfort’s was a writ to the  exchequer ordering it to pay him all of £500 for his losses while Henry’s seneschal in Gascony between 1248 and 1252, although, in the event, the order was cancelled as Montfort secured payment through an earlier writ.

The fine rolls for this week continue to record a good flow of judicial business. Some 18 writs were purchased to initiate or further common law legal actions. Another purchase seems more sinister. On 25 May, Henry accepted 20s from John son of Reginald of Rawcliffe in Yorkshire for a writ of grace which commanded the judge Roger of Thirkleby not to hear the assize being brought against him by the abbot of Selby for land in Rawcliffe. Was Henry here obstructing the judicial process, or are other interpretations possible?  Three fines this week to have cases brought before the court coram rege, the court which travelled with the king. One of these concerning land in Berkshire was to be held when the king was at Windsor, and another, concerning land in Wiltshire, when he was at Clarendon.  Litigants living in the west and the north of the country, which Henry rarely visited, were not, of course, able to have their cases heard on the spot in this way.

For the membrane covering this week, click here

Next week, the feast of Pentecost.

Consent and the Community of the Realm

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Over the last week I have been trying to plan out a chapter on Henry III’s crusade, foreign policies, and management of Gascon affairs between 1243 and 1254.  Yesterday I read a remarkable paper, alas unprinted, by Nicholas Vincent on ‘Henry III, Frederick II and the council of Lyons (1245)’.  This is based on evidence in hitherto unknown letter collections, the most striking of which, from Glastonbury abbey, contains a unique copy of an appeal made  at the papal council at Lyons by   Roger Bigod, earl of Norfolk, Philip Basset, baron, and Henry de la Mare, knight, styling themselves ‘actores et nuncii universitatis regni Anglie’.  The substance of the appeal was the claim made by Bigod and his colleagues,  on behalf of ‘the community of the whole realm, communitate totius regni’ that the ‘magnates and people’ had never consented to King John’s submission of England to the papacy. As Vincent observes, ‘what is remarkable’ here ‘is the degree to which [Bigod and his colleagues] claim the assent of the universitas or communitas regni’.

Those who keep an eagle eye on the Fines of the Month will realise at once why this new evidence made me sit up!   In the FOM for last May – ‘Consent to taxation, the community of the realm, and the development of parliament: the aid of 1245’, I showed, from evidence in the fine rolls, how  chancery clerks in 1245 (the very time of Bigod’s appeal)  were themselves writing about taxation ‘a tota communitate regni nostri nobis concessum’, and also deciding that the aid of 1245 had not received such consent. No more on this now. I may take it further in a future ‘Fine of the Month’.

Posted on behalf of David Carpenter.