Posts Tagged ‘Gilbert de Clare’

Sunday 26 October 1264: the legate’s farewell

Monday, October 27th, 2014

The final act of Guy Foulquois as papal legate, marking the complete failure of his attempts to assert his authority over the baronial government, came on 20 October. He repeated the formal excommunication which he had pronounced in August, denouncing the Provisions of Oxford. The authority of his denunciation was much diminished, however, because he had to pronounce the excommunication at Hesdin, in Flanders, rather than in England. He ordered bulls of excommunication and interdict to be published throughout France, but had been unable to secure their publication in England, where his authority was ignored. (Heidemann, register, 49-52; Foedera, I, I, 447-8)

Meanwhile, Simon de Montfort’s government, now again established in Westminster, continued its unavailing efforts to assert its authority over the royalist barons of the Marches and the north. Roger Mortimer and James of Audley were yet again ordered to come to the king’s court. Simon de Montfort’s son Henry, as warden of the Cinque Ports, was given the task of safeguarding merchandise, particularly wool, belonging to foreign merchants. The disorder in the country must have had an adverse effect on trade, which the government needed to counter. But the appointment also showed the increasingly prominent role being taken by de Montfort’s own family. (CPR 1258-66, 355)

The fine roll records the appointment of Ralph of Ash as sheriff of Devon. He was a local landowner (he held the manor now known as Rose Ash), so his appointment was in accordance with the reformers’ commitment to appointing local men as sheriffs, rather than the outsiders who had been blamed for exploiting the counties. Ash replaced Hugh Peverel of Sampford (another local man, from the village now named after his family, Sampford Peverell). Peverel had been appointed in the initial wave of new sheriffs put in place when the reforming barons took over the government in June 1264. There seems to be no particular explanation for the new appointment; Peverel continued to serve the baronial government, as castellan of Oxford, then as keeper of the peace for Devon. (CFR 1263-64, 220; CPR 1258-66, 387, 400)

Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester, had agreed to pay £1,000 in order to take possession of the lands he had inherited. He now paid £100 of this enormous sum to the keepers of the works at Westminster — this payment helped to continue the construction of Westminster abbey, but it by-passed the usual procedures for Exchequer control of income and expenditure. The £1,000 fine had been recorded in the fine roll in July 1263, and Gilbert had taken formal possession of his inheritance in September 1264, when he came of age. (CPR 1258-66, 354; CFR 1262-63, 727)

Sunday 13 July 1264: marchers, manors, and mines

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

The government continued to try to impose its authority over royalist magnates. The bishop of Worcester was sent to the March to offer safe conduct for a group of marcher lords such as Roger Mortimer to come to London. The royalists holding Pevensey castle, and the northern barons such as John Balliol and Adam of Jesmond, were also summoned to speak to the king. These overtures were fruitless, as usual. Gilbert de Clare continued to accumulate the spoils of backing the winning side. He was given custody of Peter of Savoy’s lands, including Richmond castle. On the other hand, Clare was instructed to hand over the manors of the bishop of Hereford which he had seized; the government had committed the bishopric to two canons of Hereford, in the absence of the royalist bishop, who had fled to France. The process of distributing the economic and strategic prizes of victory also included Devizes and Oxford castles for Hugh Despenser, Colchester castle for Nicholas Spigurnel, and Scarborough castle for Henry of Hastings. In some cases, the new castellans might find that the royalist incumbents were unwilling to hand over these strongholds. (CPR 1258-66, 332-6)

The government wrote in the king’s name to Louis of France on 6 and 10 July, pointing out that they still awaited a French response to the proposals for arbitration set out in the mise of Lewes. The letters included mentions of the royal hostages, lord Edward and Henry of Almain, presumably intended to spur Louis into action, but received no answer. (Close Rolls 1261-64, 389-91)

Government finance continued to have the air of improvization, although there was at last some sign of the Exchequer resuming activity. The barons of the Exchequer were told that Roger de Legh was managing Exchequer business, and would therefore be unable to continue as one of the wardens of the exchanges. Revenue from the exchanges was used to cover current expenditure, such as the building works at Westminster. The exchanges were also to provide the cash for the king’s alms for the monks of Pontigny – this cash usually came from the farm of Canterbury, but the 20 marks for the Easter payment had been “borrowed” from the bailiffs of Canterbury when the king and de Montfort were making their way though Kent after Lewes.  Other income, such as manorial revenues, seems to have been channelled through the Wardrobe. There is evidence of a search for income from an unusual source in a writ to the sheriff of Devon of 8 July. The king was sending Walter of Hamburg and other German miners to Devon to mine copper, silver, gold and lead. The sheriff was to pay their wages and expenses. (CLR 1260-67, 136-8; Close Rolls 1261-64, 349-50)

Sunday 20 April 1264: Easter in Nottingham

Saturday, April 19th, 2014
Nottingham Castle

Nottingham Castle

Henry III spent this week in Nottingham, consolidating his recent military successes and dealing with his enemies. He must have felt that he had inflicted a decisive blow on the rebels, and that he could enjoy his victory. He was joined in Nottingham by his supporters from the north – John Balliol, Robert de Brus, Peter de Brus and many other barons. They would be welcomed with suitable provisions for the Easter feast: the bailiffs of Lincoln, Newark, Grantham and elsewhere were ordered to send to Nottingham 40 fat cattle, 30 cattle, 140 sheep, 20 boars, 40 pigs, 500 hens, 600 chickens, 300 pigeons, 4,000 eggs, and 560 shillings-worth of bread. The end of the Lenten fast would clearly be celebrated in the traditional manner. Henry was also collecting cash, by having some £85 from the farm payments for Lincoln, Nottingham and Derby paid into the Wardrobe this week, rather than being delivered to the Treasury. The Wardrobe travelled with the king, so this would be cash which he could use for his immediate needs, particularly his military expenditure. (The bailiffs who provided food for the feast were not paid cash, of course. They would have to wait; they were told that the king would allow them the cost when their total expenditure was known.) (Flores, II, 488; Close Rolls 1261-64, 341-2; CLR 1260-67, 135)

Henry and Edward now seemed to have struck a decisive blow against the rebels. Within the last few weeks they had taken control of Gloucester, commanding the Severn crossing, and most of the Midlands, one of the two centres of baronial support. The barons still held London and Dover, but Henry had also sent forces to reinforce Rochester, on the road between them. The fine roll records Henry’s revenge on the opponents whom he appeared to have defeated. The king’s newly-appointed sheriffs of the Midlands counties were ordered to seize the lands of the king’s adversaries. Those listed include Simon de Montfort, Hugh Despenser, Henry of Hastings, Ralph Basset of Sapcote, Ralph Basset of Drayton, and so on. The sheriffs were also to take the lands of those who had opposed the king in Northampton, particularly Peter de Montfort and Simon de Montfort junior. The escheator for the north of England received similar orders for the lands of the rebels beyond the Trent. The magnates, bishops and abbots who had failed to obey the king’s summons to send troops were also to be punished by losing their estates (the king had already ordered the confiscation of the baronies of the archbishop of York, the bishops of Winchester, Ely, and Lincoln, and the abbots of Abingdon and Ramsey). Castles across England were to be stocked with supplies. (CFR 1263-64, nos. 101-8, 259-64; Close Rolls 1261-64, 382-3; CPR 1258-66, 313)

Simon de Montfort, as we saw last week, had failed to relieve Northampton and returned to London. Now, rather than directly countering the king’s successes in the Midlands, Simon turned south-east, towards Rochester. Henry had sent Roger of Leybourne and John de Warenne, earl of Surrey, to hold Rochester castle. Simon co-ordinated his attack on the town with Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester. De Clare, a great magnate, aged only 20, had only recently declared his support for the baronial cause. His forces, coming from Clare’s castle of Tonbridge, attacked from the south. De Montfort’s forces, coming from London, crossed the Medway into the town from Strood, to the west. The two baronial forces fought their way into the town on 18 April, and took the outer fortifications of the castle, but were unable to take the keep. (Ann Mon, III, 230-1, and IV, 146-7; Flores, 489-91)

Sunday 13 April 1264: Looting, burning and murder

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

Following the capture of Northampton, Henry moved rapidly towards Leicester and Nottingham, burning and wasting the manors of his baronial enemies. At Nottingham, he entered the castle without opposition. Following his military successes in the Midlands, the king needed to ensure that he maintained control of the area through reliable sheriffs and castellans. The fine roll shows that, while Henry was in Northampton, he committed the county and the castle to his supporters. A few days later, in Nottingham, he made similar appointments for Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Warwickshire and Leicestershire, and for Nottingham castle. 

Two royalist commanders, Roger of Leybourne and John de Warenne, the earl of Surrey, had been sent south to hold Rochester and Reigate castles. Meanwhile, lord Edward was leading another force into Derbyshire and Staffordshire, pillaging the estates of Robert de Ferrers, and destroying his castle of Tutbury. He was also engaging in extortion, demanding £200 to spare the wapentake of Wirksworth in Derbyshire; the Dunstable annals record that the prior of Dunstable had to contribute £10 towards this. In the words of a chronicler with baronial sympathies, wherever the armies of the king and Edward went, they were followed by three companions – looting, burning and murder. The only success for the barons was the capture of Warwick castle, using Simon de Montfort’s siege engines from his nearby castle of Kenilworth. (CFR 1263-64, nos. 94-100; Guisborough, 191; Ann Mon, III, 230; Flores, II, 489; London annals, 61-2) 

The baronial party was also guilty of atrocities. Simon de Montfort and many other prominent rebels were in London at the end of March, when they swore an oath of mutual support with the citizens of London. Some of these barons went immediately to Northampton, where they were captured, as we saw last week. The main baronial force had set out from London to support the defenders of Northampton, but had been too late. Henry had taken the town before they reached St Albans. They turned back, and in this week, which was the week before Palm Sunday, they embarked on a massacre of the Jewish community in London. At about the same time, Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester, who had only recently declared his support for the barons, led an attack on the Jews of Canterbury. (Ann Mon, III, 230; Gervase of Canterbury, II, 235)

The Dunstable annals report rumours that the Jews of London were preparing to betray the citizens: they had Greek fire to burn the city, copies of the keys to the city gates, and subterranean passages to each gate. Such tales were used to excuse an outbreak of looting and murder. One chronicler says that the Jews were suspected of betraying the barons and citizens, and almost all were killed. Another says that the Jewish quarter was pillaged, and any Jews who were caught were stripped, robbed and murdered. Estimates of the number killed range from 200 to 500, with the remainder forcibly converted or imprisoned (or, looking at it another way, the rest were saved by the justices and the mayor, who sent them to the Tower for protection). The chronicler Wykes, who tended to be less favourable to the baronial party, singled out the baronial leader John fitz John, who was said to have killed the leading Jew, Kok son of Abraham, with his own hands, and seized his treasure. Fitz John was then forced to share the proceeds with Simon de Montfort. It is possible that de Montfort was taking the Jewish treasure, not to enrich himself, but to finance his forces. At the same time, the cash of Italian and French merchants, deposited in religious houses around London, was also seized and taken to the city. (Ian Stone, ‘The rebel barons of 1264 and the commune of London’, EHR, CXXIX (2014), 1-18; Flores, II, 489; Cronica Maiorum, 62; Ann Mon, III, 230, and IV, 142-3)

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 18 February to Saturday 24 February 1257

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

At the start of this week, or possibly at the end of last, Henry moved from Westminster to Windsor, going by way of Merton priory in Surrey.  On Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, his Lenten fast began, which at the very least must have meant a fish diet.   Henry  remained pre-occupied by the Sicilian project, the project that is to place Edmund, his second son, on the throne of Sicily.  In this week he gave 100 marks for the support of  Henry, the brother of the king of Castile. Henry was in England and being canvassed  as the man who might lead the army to conquer Sicily from Manfred, its Hohenstaufen ruler. In this week, King  Henry also appointed Simon de Montfort  as his ambassador to negotiate a peace with the king of France. This too was linked to the Sicilian project since, without such a peace, a passage of an English army through France on its way to Sicily would never be permitted.  Montfort was at court at Windsor during the week and, preparatory to his mission, gained permission both to make his will and to receive his inheritance in France if the king of France would grant it to him.

It is a curious week for the fine rolls because between 16 and 26 February only six items of business were enrolled upon them.  Since a new membrane was started in the course of the week and an old one finished, one wonders whether some business was lost in the transition. By far the most striking entry – the last in the image above – concerned Amice countess of Devon. On 19 February the king made her a life grant of the royal manor of Melksham in Wiltshire in return for the traditional annual payment or farm of  a little over £48. This was a generous concession because when Melksham had been valued  in 1250 its farm had been set at £140. (See CFR 1250-1, no.1107).  Amice  was a woman of the highest status.  She was the daughter of Gilbert de Clare earl of Gloucester and his wife, Isabel,  daughter of the great William Marshal, earl of Pembroke. She was the widow of Baldwin de Redvers, earl of Devon, who had died in 1245. Since then she  had resisted pressure to take a second husband. Amice was protected by Magna Carta which laid down that no widow could be made re-marry.  She was also protected by her close relationship with Queen Eleanor and her party of Savoyards. In this year,  Amice’s son and heir,  Baldwin, was to marry a daughter of the queen’s uncle Thomas of Savoy.  The gift of Melksham to Amice was made at Windsor, Eleanor’s chief base. Almost certainly she had a hand in it, as perhaps did Peter of Savoy, who was also at court this week. Doubtless Amice was there too, as she had been at the start of January, when she received a new year’s gift of  six deer from the king.  Queen Eleanor continued to keep her eye on Melksham. In 1258,  the £48 annual farm was used to support her lady Willelma, ‘who from the childhood of the queen has served her and now, wearied in that service and worn out by old age and sickness, does not wish to follow the queen, but proposes for her better quiet  to dwell in the abbey of Lacock or some other religious house’. (See p.105 of Margaret Howell’s, Eleanor of Provence).