Posts Tagged ‘Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn’

Sunday 16 March 1264: Oxford, Gloucester and London

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

Henry III stayed in Oxford all week, waiting for his followers to respond to the summons he had sent out. He sent the students away, as many undisciplined men (indomiti) would be coming to the town. Henry would not be able to guarantee the safety of the clerks in an armed camp; in addition, his troops would presumably need to take over the students’ accommodation. We know the names of some of those who were already with him, because there is an entry on the charter roll from 14 March, the first charter to be recorded since December. The witnesses who were present in Oxford include earl Richard, Hugh Bigod, Philip Basset, Roger Leybourne, Warin de Bassingbourn, Roger Mortimer and James Audley – some of the leading royalist commanders. (Foedera, I, 1, 435; Royal Charter Witness Lists of Henry III)

The fine roll this week shows that Henry was losing such support as he had had in Wales. Back in 1257, he had granted the manors of Market Harborough, Great Bowden and Kingsthorpe to the Welsh magnate Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn. This was a reward for Gruffydd’s service to the king and lord Edward, against the rising power of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd. Gruffydd lost his lands and chattels in Powys during the war in Wales, but he and his family would be sustained by these English manors. In 1263, Gruffydd evidently saw which way the wind was blowing, and deserted the king’s cause, to attach himself to Llywelyn. Henry responded on 14 March, taking away Gruffydd’s manors, committing them to be managed by the men of those manors instead. (CFR 1257-58, no. 140; CPR 1247-58, 560, 608; CFR 1263-64, nos. 87-8)

Lord Edward began the week trapped in Gloucester castle, with baronial forces holding the town, and the troops of Robert de Ferrers approaching, following their sack of Worcester. In Robert of Gloucester’s verses:

Then they saw out of the tower the earl Robert of Ferrers
At the town’s end come, with noble men and fierce,
From the direction of Tewkesbury, armed well each one,
Horse and men, all ready battle to do anon.
When sir Edward saw this, nothing was he glad,
For it was said that he was not so sore afraid of any one.

Bishop Walter de Cantilupe negotiated a ceasefire between Edward and Henry de Montfort, much to Ferrers’ annoyance. Edward promised to arrange terms for peace by 13 March. De Montfort’s baronial forces withdrew from the town, under the terms of the agreement, which Edward promptly disregarded, ‘with foxlike cunning.’ Edward occupied the town, imprisoned the leading citizens and extorted a large ransom. The gatekeepers who had been tricked into letting the baronial forces into Gloucester were hanged from the west gate. The ransom was said to be £1,000; Roger Clifford, the royalist constable of Gloucester castle, was ordered to send £100 of this directly to the king. The king did take steps to negotiate with his opponents: on 13 March he appointed proctors to seek Simon de Montfort and negotiate with him, in the presence of a French envoy. (Church Historians, V, 365-6; Ann Mon, III, 228; Flores Hist, II, 487; Close Rolls 1261-64, 336-7; Foedera, I, 1, 436)

London remained hostile to the king. It is notable that he had avoided the capital when he travelled from Rochester to Oxford. The city was controlled by baronial sympathizers, who appointed a constable and marshal to command the Londoners. The Tower appears to have been in the hands of Hugh Despenser, who had been appointed Justiciar (the chief administrative and judicial officer) and keeper of the Tower by the baronial council in 1260-61. Despenser had returned to these offices in 1263, when de Montfort was briefly in control. Although he ceased to function as Justiciar in October 1263, as Henry re-asserted his authority, Despenser seems to have kept control of the Tower. This week, Despenser and the Londoners attacked and plundered earl Richard’s manor of Isleworth, and destroyed his house in Westminster. The London mob also ‘ravaged with fire and destruction’ the estates of other royalists, including Philip Basset. Basset was one of the charter witnesses with the king in Oxford; he was also Despenser’s father-in-law, and had replaced him as Justiciar between 1261 and 1263. The Londoners are said to have attacked and imprisoned the king’s clerks, the barons of the Exchequer and the justices of the Bench. Henry responded by imposing sanctions (as we would now say): the constable of Windsor castle was to prevent supplies reaching London by boat, cart or pack-horse; royalist supporters were not to pay debts owed to burgesses who held their manors, which were to be seized by the sheriff of Kent. (Cronica Maiorum, 61; Ann Mon, IV, 140-1; Flores Hist, II, 487; Close Rolls 1261-64, 375-6)