Posts Tagged ‘Henry III’

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

Henry III Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 10 April to Saturday 16 April 1261

Monday, April 11th, 2011

For Henry this was another week in the Tower of London. How he must have wished to escape the confines of the great fortress.  He had not lived there since early in 1238 during  the protests  over the secret marriage of Simon de Montfort to his sister. How right the protesters were, Henry may now have ruefully reflected.  At least Henry could also reflect  that in the intervening years he had transformed the Tower, giving it a new gateway, moat and outer  line of  turreted walls. That was why it could now form the base for his recovery of power. One thinks of Henry III as the builder of Westminster Abbey. Much of the Tower of London, as we have it today, was also his work: the majesty of kingship at Westminster; the might at the Tower. Never, in the whole history of the Tower was that might put to better use than in 1261.

In fine rolls terms this week was business as usual.  Individuals continued to come into the Tower to buy from the chancery the writs to initiate and further the  common law legal actions. Some seventeen were  purchased in this week. Many of these (as in any week)  secured a time and place for a particular legal action to be heard, most often, although this was usually  not specified, before the justices of the bench. (These are the writs of ‘pone’ and ‘ad terminum’ which feature so largely in the fine rolls.)  Other writs  commissioned a particular judge to hear a case in the localities. This week Henry of Bratton received such a commission to hear a case in Somerset. Henry used to be regarded as the author as one of the greatest law books ever written: Bracton on the Laws and Customs of England, although it is now clear he was only its editor and preserver. We can think of him as the proud possessor of the text  at the time of his hearing this assize. The cost of these writs was usually about half a mark,  a third of a pound, which would equate to several thousand pounds in modern money.  So they were not cheap. However, the routine standard form common law writs, which initiated legal actions and simply gave you a place before the judges when they next toured your county, only cost 6d (around £250 perhaps in modern money).  This money went straight into the chancery and was never recorded on the fine rolls.  Doubtless many of these writs were also purchased in this week. Henry himself would   have had nothing to do with this routine business. However, he almost certainly was involved in one act recorded on the fine rolls this week. On 16  April Henry pardoned Ida de Beauchamp the 5 marks which she had been amerced  in the course of a law suit in the previous year.

Outside the fine rolls, this week was vital  in providing Henry with the authority to overthrow the Provisions of Oxford.  On Wednesday 13 April, in Rome, Pope Alexander IV issued the crucial  bull which freed Henry from his oath to observe them. It would be around month before the bull would arrive in England, but meanwhile Henry must have felt his decision to overthrow the Provisions had been amply vindicated.  His attempt  to conciliate Simon de Montfort (revealed in last week’s blog) had proved an utter failure. This was all too clear from the replies to Henry’s complaints against his council which  he must have  received this week or next.  They were unyielding, not so say insulting, and bore all the hallmarks of Montfort’s abrasive hand. So Henry was told ‘it is right and reasonable that whenever you talk sense, you should be heard and listened to as lord of us all’.  The counsellors  also  acknowledged that they discussed and effectively settled matters on their own and only then asked the king for his assent, adding that ‘they do nothing on his sole word’.  Henry might well have cried out, as did Louis IX later when he heard of the Provisions, ‘I would rather be a peasant breaking clods behind the plough than live under a regime of that kind’.

There were indications this week of the way Henry’s mind was working. On 13 April he was munitioning the castles of Corfe and Salisbury with arrows.  On 14 April, he encouraged his Poitevin favourite, Elyas de Rabayne, dismissed as castellan of Corfe and expelled in 1258, to hasten back to England.

King Henry III’s Fine Roll Blog

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Easter in this year, 2011, is unusually late, falling on 24 April.  There were in fact only two years in the  reign of Henry III when Easter was on 24  April, and in which, therefore,  the whole calendar was exactly the same as it is in 2011,  with each day of the month falling on the same day of the week.   These years were 1261 and 1272. 1272 was, of course, the last year of Henry’s reign and he did not reach its end, dying on 16 November.  I have decided therefore, in starting Henry III’s fine rolls blog, to take the year 1261, a very dramatic one in which he threw off the controls imposed on him by the Provisions of Oxford in 1258.

Between Sunday 27 March and Saturday 3 April, Henry III was at the Tower of London, a place where normally he would never live, much preferring his palace at Westminster.  Having at the start of the year, escaped from the ruling council imposed in 1258 and recovered control over his seal, he had been based at the Tower since February, the great fortress providing  a secure base from which he could defy the gathering opposition to his demarche. Letters Henry wrote in this week showed his anxieties. He cautioned his Poitevin half brother, William de Valence, expelled in 1258, against returning to England, doubtless fearing the storm it would provoke, and also expressed his hope that the arbitration of the king of France might settle his quarrels with Simon de Montfort. The  fine rolls of this week, however, suggest a different picture, that of business as usual.  Henry (or his ministers) issued orders about the running of two royal manors, Brill in Oxfordshire and Havering in Essex. The money arising from Brill  was to be sent to the Exchequer at Westminster, so clearly this was still seen as a safe place for the king’s money, even if he himself was at the Tower.   There were also twenty individuals who bought writs from the chancery to progress the legal actions in which they were involved. Clearly they were perfectly prepared to enter the Tower of London to get these.

A request for help with an entry on the Jews of Winchester

Friday, February 25th, 2011

The project team wonders if anyone can help with the meaning of an entry in the fine roll for 1251-1252.  Entry number 173 from near the start of membrane 20, with the marginal annotation ‘concerning taking an inquisition’, is an order to the sheriff of Hampshire to inquire by oath of twelve of the more law-worthy Jews of Winchester by their roll, whether a Jew, Cressus of Stamford, had violently seized and taken away from the synagogue  of the Jews in the same city ‘the apple of eve’ to the shame and opprobrium of the Jewish community. If convicted, Cressus was to give one mark of gold to the king for the trespass.  The writ was authorised by the king and ‘witnessed as above’ which indicates it was witnessed by the king at Geddington on 19 January 1252.

What, then, is all this about?   Was ‘the apple of Eve’ some kind of object within the synagogue, perhaps of ritualistic significance, hence the shame involved in its theft.   Any ideas gratefully received.

Henry III Fine Rolls Project Launch, 24 November 2010

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

For those of us in the “engine room” of the project, constantly shovelling coal on the historical fires to prevent the good ship FRH3 from colliding with the iceberg and sinking without trace (I borrow a metaphor here regularly wheeled out by David Carpenter – I kid you not!), the chance to view the dazzling lights of the outside world and to demonstrate our achievements is rare indeed. Such an opportunity arose on 24 November when the project hosted a launch in the wonderfully appropriate setting of the Weston Room, King’s College, formerly the Rolls Chapel of the Public Record Office in Chancery Lane. Over seventy invited guests braved the elements, enticed mainly by the prospect of unlimited wine and canapé privileges, to hear members of the project team, King’s College, Canterbury Christ Church University College and the Arts and Humanities Research Council give various brief talks which set the project and the Fine Rolls in their historical and administrative context and celebrated the project’s contribution to historical and digital humanities scholarship and its place within the wider UK research environment.

The launch principally marked the upload of a large amount of new content to the website, all of which is freely available:

  1. Translations of all the rolls down to 1272.
  2. Images of all the rolls from 1248-72.
  3. A search facility to the rolls now down to 1242.

 It also marked the fifth birthday of the ‘Fine of the Month’ feature, which now numbers sixty articles and has contributed ten of thousands of words of original research on top of the calendars and scholarly introductory material. The event passed very successfully with some particularly kind and encouraging words from Rick Rylance, Chief Executive of the AHRC, and Sir Alan Wilson, Chairman of the AHRC, to whom we were able to demonstrate from the Fine Rolls that Henry III had visited his home town of Darlington on two separate occasions.

 Obviously, events like these require a good deal of planning and arranging, and our particular thanks go to Paul Caton of CCH, who saved us from IT paralysis with about 30 minutes to go before the kick-off (how many historians does it take to turn on a computer?), to the King’s catering staff, and to several King’s MA and doctoral students who were given the unduly onerous tasks by their nameless supervisor of manning the doors and serving the canapés. Unfortunately, our well-laid plan of welcoming Michael Wood and his fabled magnifying glass was foiled when Michael got the days mixed up and arrived at the correct time but on the following day!

 Above all, the launch was the brainchild of David Carpenter. Given the amount of nervous energy he had expended in the run-up to the event, including forcing us to do about seventeen full run-throughs and subjecting the audience to a hideous picture of Yours Truly woofing a fish supper at a chippy in Leeds, he can now rest easy and bask in one of his greatest triumphs.

Members of the Project Team at the Reception on 24 November 2010

Members of the Project Team with Representatives from the AHRC, Canterbury Christ Church University, King's College London and The National Archives

Number Crunching Writs

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

 

This graph provides a quick demonstration of how entries relating to the purchase of writs become such a major feature of the Fine Rolls during the reign of Henry III. This graph only shows one type of writ – writs ad terminum  – if other types of writ were included, particularly writs of pone and precipe the dominance of writs would be even more apparent. Research into the purchase of writs remains one of the key areas to be investigated.

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.

Welcome to the blog for the Henry III Fine Rolls Project, 1216-1272

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Welcome to the blog for the Henry III Fine Rolls Project.  We are delighted to announce the publication of our latest Fine of the Month, ‘Beyond respite: a case study in local power and authority during the minority of Henry III’ by Dr Colin Veach, an authority on the de Lacy family and their lands in England, Ireland and Normandy. In this essay, Colin shows how an entry in the Fine Rolls, in this case a mandate that granted Walter de Lacy respite from rendering his shrieval account for Herefordshire in 1219, can offer important insights into the crown’s weakness in the localities at this time, and into the damaging effect which the rivalries between the de Braose, de Burgh and de Lacy families had on royal authority in the Welsh Marches. This Fine of the Month will be of particular interest to those studying the history of the castles of Grosmont (Monmouthshire), Skenfrith (Monmouthshire) and Llantilio (Whitecastle, Monmouthshire), known collectively as the Three Castles.