Posts Tagged ‘Henry of Almain’

Sunday 28 September 1264: peace talks

Sunday, September 28th, 2014
Harley 4380 f.189v

Another, rather later, party arrives by sea at Boulogne. From BL Harley 4380, Froissart, 1470-72.

The negotiations about the peace settlement and the future government of England began, at last, during this week. Simon de Montfort and Hugh Despenser wrote to the papal legate, explaining that they had come to Dover, ready to cross to France with nobles and prelates to meet the legate, but that they found his letters of safe conduct unsatisfactory. On 24 September, the papal legate was asked to provide letters of safe conduct for Peter de Montfort to come to him to explain in person the baronial proposals for a peace settlement. The legate sent more comprehensive safe conduct letters, and a baronial delegation, led by the bishop of London, came to Boulogne on 24 September, as did representatives of the Queen and the king’s son Edmund.

After some delay, the baronial party presented their proposals for arbiters to choose the council to govern England, to consist only of Englishmen. The two sides could not agree, and the talks broke up on 29 September. A further attempt at negotiation was hampered by a baronial party, including Henry of Almain, losing their documents, taken by the sailors who brought them to Boulogne. The Queen’s representatives said that she was outraged that the hostages, her son Edward and nephew Henry of Almain, had not been mentioned in the negotiations. The talks had achieved very little. (Heidemann, register, nos. 30-43; Foedera, I, I, 447; Close Rolls 1261-64, 410)

The countess of Flanders had written in August, expressing concern about the security of Flemish merchants. On 24 September, the governing council announced that, as the countess had taken English merchants under her protection in Flanders, Flemish merchants and merchandise would be protected in England. Merchants should store their goods in churches or religious houses until full tranquillity was restored. Although the authorities in the ports of East Anglia had been ordered not to let any ships cross the sea, Flemish merchants would be allowed to export their wool, hides and other merchandise.  (CPR 1258-66, 350, 371-2)

The government was still trying to maintain the army to defend against invasion, and to ensure that it remained on guard for at least another month. The sheriff of Oxford and Berkshire was to summon knights and free tenants to come with horses and arms, and to provide for the expenses of the mounted and foot soldiers until late October. (CPR 1258-66, 372)

Sunday 7 September 1264: Canterbury and cash

Sunday, September 7th, 2014


Canterbury Castle in 1775. Much of the outer walls were demolished later in the eighteenth century.

Canterbury Castle in 1775. Much of the outer walls were demolished later in the eighteenth century.

Henry III’s court remained in Canterbury for the whole month of September, to be close to the continuing negotiations in northern France with Louis IX and the papal legate, and to oversee the defence of the coasts against the continuing threat of invasion by the Queen’s forces. While the king was in Canterbury, on 5 September, the sheriff of Kent was ordered to repair the great gate of the castle, which had recently been burned down, and the gates, doors and windows which had been pulled down and damaged. (There had been disorder in Canterbury in April, including attacks on the Jewish community.) (CLR 1260-67, 142)

The legate, Guy de Foulquois, had ordered the barons to send representatives to Gravelines, on the French coast, by 1 September. One of the legate’s chaplains waited for them, but reported to his master that nobody turned up. (Heidemann, register, nos. 30-32) On 4 September, one of the royal hostages, Henry of Almain, who had been held in Dover castle, was released on parole, to go to France to try to negotiate a peace settlement. He was to return to custody by 8 September, unless the negotiations took two or three days longer. Several bishops stood security for his return, in the enormous sum of 20,000 marks. (Foedera, I, I, 446; CPR 1258-66, 345)

The defence of the coasts was still a priority. Nobody was to cross the Channel from Dover without permission from the king or Henry de Montfort. The city of London was to send a galley and a large ship, with crossbowmen, to Sandwich, in readiness for a foreign invasion. While the men of Winchelsea were serving with the fleet off Sandwich, the Winchelsea region was to be defended by 300 archers. The problems of maintaining a large army in Kent were demonstrated by a letter to the sheriff of Rutland: the county would have to cover the expenses of its contingent for longer than expected, up to 15 September, but their daily rate would have to increase from 3d. to 4d. per man, because of the dearth produced by the presence of such great numbers. The sheriff was to seize the lands of those who failed to serve in the defence of the coast, or who deserted from the army without permission. It was also necessary to stem desertions from the forces guarding the coast of East Anglia, by offering to pay their expenses up to 15 September. (Close Rolls 1261-64, 360-2, 405-6; CPR 1258-66, 367-8)

The church had shown its support for the baronial regime in August by offering a subsidy of one-tenth of clerical income. The government was now pressing for payment of this subsidy, writing to the bishop of Norwich, asking for the money to be sent without delay; the council threatened that otherwise the tenth would be collected by the sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk. The bishop of Rochester was told to provide £20 at once, and to deliver the rest to Canterbury by the end of the week. Similarly, the archbishop of York was told to deliver the subsidy by Michaelmas, or it would be collected by royal officials, for the security and defence of the kingdom. (Foedera, I, I, 445; Close Rolls 1261-64, 361-2, 403-5)

The government was evidently short of cash, as usual, and relying on the imminent arrival of the cash from the clerical tenth to cover frantic borrowing. Simon de Montfort was empowered to contract a loan of money, wine and corn, for supplies for the king’s ships and wages for the sailors. Hugh Despenser took wine worth £33 from merchants at Sandwich, to munition the ships. The bishop of London loaned 200 marks. The city of London was asked to lend £50 from each aldermanry. They were all promised repayment in October, out of the tenth. (CPR 1258-66, 345-6)

There was at least one piece of potential good news on the financial front. The German miners led by Walter of Hamburg, who had been sent to Devon in July, had struck copper. John Silvester, the former warden of the mint, was to determine whether to invest in developing a mine. (Close Rolls 1261-64, 406-7)

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 22 May to Saturday 28 May 1261

Friday, May 27th, 2011

From Saturday 21 May till Thursday 26 May, Henry III remained at the bishop of London’s palace at Saint Pauls. The flood of litigants seeking writs to initiate and further common law legal actions continued. The fine rolls show no less than sixty such writs were purchased in these days. On Tuesday 24 May, the chancery despatched to the exchequer  a copy of the fine roll down to that date so that it knew what monies to collect.  Alongside the note  recording  this despatch,  the clerk drew a grotesque head.  In the draft translation of the roll currently on line we suggested this was might have been a caricature of Mabel, daughter of Simon de Bere, who in an adjoining entry was recorded as giving half a mark for the hearing of an assize.  Closer inspection of the image  shows the imputation is false and we are pleased to withdraw it. The head, instead, was clearly intended to mark out the note about the despatch of the roll to the exchequer.

Head drawn on membrane 10 of roll C60/58

Under the cloak of this routine business, great matters were now afoot.  The king must certainly have received the papal letter of 13 April absolving his from his oath to observe the Provisions of Oxford.  Probably too the follow up letter of 29 April had also arrived in England. This was even more crucial because it was not personal to Henry but general to the realm.  The letter empowered the  archbishop of Canterbury, the bishop of Norwich, and John Mansel, to absolve everyone from their oaths. At St Paul’s,  there must have been earnest debate as to when, where and how to detonate this explosive weapon. One problem concerned the addressees. The bishop of Norwich, a former royal judge, was completely to be trusted. So, of course, was Henry’s loyal, wise and courageous clerk,  John Mansel. Indeed, in this week Mansel was made constable of the Tower of London.  He was at court and central to the direction of policy. The problem was the archbishop, Boniface of Savoy,  the uncle of the queen, who had incurred the king’s displeasure over the legislation, very critical of royal government, passed at the Lambeth ecclesiastical council earlier in the month.  (See Sophie Ambler’s contribution to this blog).  On Thursday 26 May, Henry sent a proctor to Rome to appeal against the ordinances made  ‘to the prejudice of the king’s right and dignity and the liberties,  laws and customs of the realm’. The phraseology reflects royal thinking on a wider front. The king was now to take action against another set of Ordinances, the Provisions of Oxford, which  were equally prejudicial to the king and the realm. Henry could only hope (probably rightly) that Boniface would be more co-operative in the secular sphere than he was in the ecclesiastical.

In other respects, what was in the making seems very much a foreign, Savoyard plot, in which doubtless the queen herself was deeply involved. At court were her uncle, Peter of Savoy, and a host other Savoyards or Savoyard connections, including  Imbert Pugeys,  Imbert de Montferrand, Eubule de Montibus and Ingram de Fiennes.  Also there, providing muscle, were a group of Welsh marcher barons, James of Audley, Thomas Corbet, and Reginald fitzPeter.  Behind this group stood  the king’s brother, Richard earl of Cornwall and king of Germany.  He received major concessions this week, as did Henry his son. And even more vital was the  support or at least acquiescence of Henry’s own son, Edward. On his return to England,  he had seemed to sympathise with Montfort. But he had appeared for his father at the Lambeth conference to protest against any violation of the rights of the crown, and this week a concession was made ‘at his instance’.

It was this grouping  which took the momentous decision. They would detonate the papal letters and publicly denounce the Provisions of Oxford. But they would not do it in London. For all the security of the Tower, there was danger of an explosion from the heaving  and volatile populace. Instead the coup would be launched  somewhere both safe and symbolic. This was Winchester, Henry’s birthplace, and ancient seat of royal government, where the great castle dominated the small town, and ensured the loyalty of its docile inhabitants. Henry, therefore, left London on Thursday 26 May. Covering over thirty miles, that evening he reached his palace castle at Guildford.  There he remained, gathering breath, on the Friday and Saturday. On the Saturday, despite the tension all around,  the fine rolls recorded a characteristic act of  charity.   Henry, so he said,  had heard that the resources of Ralph de Heppewrth’ (perhaps Hepworth in Suffolk),  were insufficient to pay his debts to the Jews. Therefore, ‘out of compassion for his poverty’, Henry  took steps to ensure Ralph had enough to live off and was not ‘forced to beg’.