Posts Tagged ‘Jewish debts’

Sunday 14 December 1264: peace and parliament

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

During this week, the court travelled from Woodstock, via Pershore, to Worcester. The main focus of attention was the threat from the Marches. While the court was at Woodstock, preparing to move west, the sheriff of Oxfordshire and Berkshire was ordered to assemble all the knights of the counties and lead them in person to meet the king at Worcester on 11 December. (CPR 1258-66, 475-6)

A rapid campaign in the Marches led to the submission of the marcher lords, caught between de Montfort’s forces advancing from Oxford, and on the other side Llywellyn’s Welsh. The Peace of Worcester required the marchers to go into exile for a year, while de Montfort took custody of their lands. Arrangements for Edward’s release would be discussed at a parliament, to be held in January. (Flores, II, 504; Maddicott, Montfort, 307)

A stamp from 1965, showing Simon de Montfort’s seal, and a caption which might require a certain amount of qualification.

A stamp from 1965, showing Simon de Montfort’s seal, and a caption which might require a certain amount of qualification.

At Worcester, on 14 December, summonses were sent out for this parliament to meet in London on 20 January. These summonses were sent to bishops and abbots, with many more following on 24 December, covering a large number of abbots and priors, five earls and only eighteen barons – an indication perhaps of the government’s lack of support among the magnates. The summonses which were to make this parliament famous were also sent out on 24 December: each county was to send two knights; the citizens of York, Lincoln and unspecified other towns were each to send two citizens or burgesses; and the Cinque Ports were each to send four representatives. (Foedera, I, I, 449; Close Rolls 1264-68, 84-7, 89)

The court’s presence in Worcester was presumably responsible for a gesture aimed at undoing some of the damage done during the disorders early in the year. At the end of February, Robert de Ferrers, earl of Derby, had besieged and taken Worcester, sacking the city and destroying the Jewish quarter. Ferrers had seized the chest holding the charters recording debts to the Jews, and taken it to his castle at Tutbury. When lord Edward had captured Tutbury, he had broken open the chest and sent the charters to Bristol, which was held by the royalists. Edward’s clerks were ordered to hand over the charters to the chirographers of the Jews of Worcester, so that they could be replaced in the chest. This would allow the Jews once again to collect the debts they were owed, but it seems unlikely that Edward’s followers would obey such instructions, particularly as one of them was Warin of Bassingbourn, who had led the attempt to free Edward from captivity. (Close Rolls 1264-68, 82-3)

There were outbreaks of disorder in the south-west, where the government was trying to repress breaches of the peace, homicides, plundering and house-burning in Devon, Somerset and Dorset. Also in Devon, there was a further indication of the dominance of Simon de Montfort, and the personal advantages he was gaining. De Montfort was given custody of all the lands and holdings in Devon belonging to Richard of Cornwall, the king’s brother.(CPR 1258-66, 475; Foedera, I, I, 448) Henry de Montfort, as warden of the Cinque Ports, had been instructed to ensure the safety of wool and other goods belonging to foreign merchants. He was now ordered to move the merchandise to safer places. (CPR 1258-66, 393)

On 8 December, the archbishop of York and the bishops of London and Lincoln were instructed to hear the complaints of the clergy who had suffered injuries and damages due to plundering during the recent disorders, as provided by the prelates and nobles in London. The patent roll said that the bishops would arrange compensation for the clergy, which would be enforced by the justiciar, who would have a hundred or more knights and serjeants to distrain offenders.  According to the London chronicler Arnold fitz Thedmar, this tribunal was set up about the end of October, and given full powers by the king and barons to correct all the injuries done to the church since Easter 1263. Anyone who did not submit to the judgement of the bishops would be excommunicated. The bishops were also to collect the revenues of benefices held by foreigners. Three chronicles record that a church council was held about this time at Reading. This approved an appeal against the legate’s sentence of excommunication, which the bishops had refused to publish. (CPR 1258-66, 375, 393; Cronica Maiorum, 70; C&S, II, I, 699-700)

Sunday 2 November 1264: a new year

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

A new regnal year began on 28 October, the 49th year of Henry III’s reign. As usual, the Chancery marked the new year by beginning a new set of rolls (the Exchequer worked on a different system, and had begun its new year on 30 September, the morrow of Michaelmas). Henry spent most of the week in Westminster, moving on 1 November to St Paul’s. He evidently marked the new year in his usual pious manner, offering 24 gold obols, bought from the revenues of the exchange. (CLR 1260-67, 148)

The final section of the 1263-64 fine roll is largely occupied by a series of transactions, which seem to show that the baronial government had found a way of rewarding its supporters at the expense of the Jewish community. Between 25 and 28 October, nearly twenty individuals were pardoned the interest and fees due on any debts owed to Jews. A few more were pardoned their debts entirely. The charters recording the debts were to be handed over. In addition, Peter de Montfort, a member of the governing council, was pardoned all his own debts to Jewish moneylenders, and debts which others had contracted on his behalf were also set aside, with the charters to be delivered to Peter. (CFR 1263-64, 226-43)

The abbey gate, Bury St Edmunds, in 1827.

The abbey gate, Bury St Edmunds, in 1827.

The council set up an inquiry into disturbances which had been going on in Bury St Edmunds since early in 1264. The abbey of Bury had extensive privileges within its liberty, including even the right to its own mint. At some point before the battle of Lewes, the young men of the town had organized themselves into a guild, which seized control of the government of the town. They disregarded the authority of the abbot’s port-reeve, and refused to obey the authority of the horn summoning them to the portman-moot. These local rebels elected their own alderman and bailiffs, established a court, and imposed an oath of obedience. The patent roll said that they had set up their own horn, which they used to summon the conspirators who had risen against the abbot. (CPR 1258-66, 375; Chronicle of Bury St Edmunds, xxiv; H.W.C. Davis, EHR, 1909)

The baronial government was still engaged in sporadic attempts at negotiating with its opponents in France. Guy Foulquois’ last act as papal legate had been the sentences of excommunication and interdict delivered on 20 October, but he apparently remained in France until December or January, shortly before he was elected pope as Clement IV. By now, queen Eleanor had been forced to accept that the planned invasion would not take place. In the words of the Bury chronicle: ‘When the queen’s money ran out everyone went home, not without discomfort and disgrace. It should be remembered that England would have been captured by foreigners if the seas had not been protected.’ In England, the council tried to resume negotiations with king Louis, requesting safe conduct for messengers from the barons and the bishops, who would be sent to Wissant. The men of Dunwich were rewarded for their support in defending the coasts by being given respite from paying the farm of the town and any other debts they owed to the Exchequer. (C&S, II, I, 694; CPR 1258-66, 385; Chronicle of Bury, 29; CFR 1263-64, 236)