Posts Tagged ‘London’

Sunday 27 April 1264: Henry marches south

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

After celebrating Easter in Nottingham, Henry moved rapidly to counter the threat to Rochester. He had established his dominance of the Midlands, but did not want to lose one of his few strongholds in the south-east. On Monday 21 April, he was in Grantham, where he collected some more cash; the bailiffs of Derby paid into the Wardrobe £17 for the Easter term’s farm of their town. By the end of the week Henry was south of London.
With Henry on the move like this, there was evidently little opportunity for people to pay fines or for the Chancery to update the fine roll. Both the fine roll and the originalia roll peter out at the beginning of this week, with orders to appoint a new sheriff of Lincolnshire and to provision castles, particularly in the Midlands and north, ready for war. There are no more entries in the fine roll until July. (E 368/39 m. 1d; CLR 1260-67, 135; CFR 1263-64, nos. 108-114, 259-64)
Similarly, the patent roll has entries made at Grantham on Monday, then nothing until Saturday, when Henry was in Aylesbury. There are entries in the liberate roll on the same day showing that Henry had reached Kingston on Thames, while in the close roll there are entries made in Croydon. Henry was moving fast, circling around to the west and south of London, rather than confronting the city dominated by his opponents. (CPR 1258-66, 313-5; CLR 1260-67, 135-6; Close Rolls 1261-64, 342)

Trebuchet, from BL Egerton 3028

Trebuchet, from BL Egerton 3028

The approach of Henry’s army was enough to put an end to the siege of Rochester castle. Simon de Montfort and Gilbert de Clare had taken the town, but, after a week of siege operations with engines and mines, the keep still held out against them. The news of Henry’s arrival in the south-east, and the potential threat to the capital, caused them to abandon the siege and return to London on Saturday 26 April. According to the London annals, the mayor of the city, fearing the approach of Henry and lord Edward, asked de Montfort to return to London. Some poor Londoners, found in Rochester after the siege, had their hands and feet cut off or were put to the sword. (Flores, II, 490-1; London annals, 62; Ann Mon, IV, 147)
A marginal note in the Osney annals serves as a reminder that, as well as the major operations by the royal and baronial armies, there were continuing obscure episodes of local violence, mostly unrecorded: about 25 April, the barons burned many manors belonging to earl Richard, Philip Basset and others who were with king; and similarly the royalists set fire to the manors of the barons and those who were on their side. (Ann Mon, IV,146)

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)

Andrew Bukerel’s fine – a note from Ian Stone

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Ian Stone is a research student at King’s College London, working on producing a critical edition of the Liber de Antiquis Legibus, a thirteenth century manuscript written and compiled in London. Ian writes about a discovery in the fine rolls:

As an undergraduate interested in medieval London, I recall reading Gwyn Williams’s study of the capital in the `long thirteenth century`.  I was mesmerised.  Since then, many of Williams’s conclusions have been challenged, but that should not detract from the quality of his writing.  Above all, he had an ability to bring the energy and drive of London in the thirteenth century to the page.  Simply put, it made me want to know more.

So it was that, whilst studying for my MA, I decided to research one of the most prominent families in his work: the Bukerels of London, after whom the road Bucklersbury in the City of London takes its name.  Like any good student of the thirteenth century, my research began with the records – and of course, the Fine Rolls of Henry III are now the most accessible of all of those records.  As one would expect, a family which provided London with at least six sheriffs, five aldermen, two royal chamberlains and one mayor frequently appears in the chancery records.  One of the most enigmatic entries was that to be found on the Fine Roll in November 1221 relating to Andrew Bukerel.  Andrew was the eldest son of Andrew and Idonea Bukerel.  By 1220 he was Henry III’s royal chamberlain in London, responsible for supplying the court with wine, spices, wax and other luxury items.  So close in fact were his links to the court, that he’d actually helped to cover the costs of Henry’s second coronation at Westminster.

In November 1221, we learn that Andrew had fined 4,000 marks with the king, and that his pledges included several noteworthy people, perhaps most interestingly, Hubert de Burgh, the justiciar and effectively regent of the kingdom.  We are not told what this enormous fine was for; it took some further enquiry for me to learn that it was to hold more office – this time as Warden of the Exchanges at London and Canterbury for three years.  This lucrative role would have placed Andrew in charge of the exchange of all the silver coming into the country at these two places.  No wonder the fine was so great.

What this entry on the Fine Roll did show, however, was the company that Andrew was keeping.  Aside from Hubert, his other pledges are five leading citizens of London, including his brother, and later heir, Thomas.  What is clear, then, from this entry is that already by 1221 Andrew was extremely well connected in London.  This must have helped his later career.  He was an alderman of Cripplegate Ward in London.  He was later to serve as sheriff for two years, and mayor for almost six years.  Only three men have ever served as mayor, consecutively, for a longer period.  What we can see in 1221 is that these bonds of connection between leading citizens in London were already formed, and working in one of their interests.

What it further shows is just how close Andrew was to the real power at court, Hubert de Burgh.  This fine was subsequently cancelled, for which no reason was ever given.  One is given to wonder what role Hubert might have really been playing in all this.  Did he cancel the fine, in return for some of the profits of the exchanges of which Andrew was master?  This sort of shady deal would, of course, be one that would be kept hidden from the records.  Every trace of this fine could, however, not be removed from view, and in this one brief entry, there is much to provoke further historical enquiry.

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 9 September to Saturday 15 September 1257

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

During this week, Henry began his journey home from Wales. His aim was to be at Westminster for the feast of his patron saint, Edward the Confessor on 13 October. The journey  disrupted fine roll business because none at all is recorded between 30 August, when Henry was at Deganwy, and 13 September when he was at Chester.  At Chester, however,  between the 13 and 15 September, there was a revival of the normal judicial business with half a dozen writs to initiate or further common law legal actions being purchased.  There was also one other highly profitable transaction, although it also pointed forward to the revolution of 1258.  At Chester, the king reached an agreement with the executors of the late bishop of Ely, William of Kilkenny.  In return,  amongst other things, for the promise of 2000 marks (£1333), he allowed them to have all the corn due to be harvested from the late bishop’s manors. A marginal note added later records what Henry did with this extremely valuable windfall. The executors gave 1000 marks of it to the Lord Edward at the Temple in London at the feast of St Martin 1257. This money was then used (although the note does not say so) to help finance Edward’s war in Wales, which was fair enough. It is the fate of the other 1000 which was extraordinary. This, the note indicates,  was given on 9 April 1258 to the queen’s uncle, Thomas of Savoy. The date is immensely significant because it was right at the start of the revolutionary parliament which was to strip the king of power.  News of the gift evidently  reverberated round the parliament for it soon reached an appalled Matthew Paris at St Albans.  For many it epitomised the king’s profligate generosity to his foreign relatives.  What made it worse was that Thomas was not even any longer a useful ally.  He had arrived in England on a litter, his health broken down and his ambitions in tatters, after  his capture and imprisonment by the citizens of Turin.  Although the Savoyards were not themselves attacked in 1258 (the fire was concentrated on the king’s Poitevin half brothers), the gift  to Thomas, at such a sensitive  time, must have contributed, in no small measure,  to the general dissatisfaction  expressed at the parliament with Henry’s rule. One final point. As far as can be seen,  the exchequer was never informed of the debt owed by the executors of the late bishop of Ely. It was dealt with entirely by the wardrobe. This is why the note of payment was made in the margin of the fine rolls. This by passing of the exchequer was something else the reformers intended to stop. 

For the entry, click here (and count down nine entries from the top).

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 29 May to Saturday 4 June 1261

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

From Guildford, where he was on Sunday 29 May, Henry moved to Chawton, later of course of Jane Austen fame. He left there on Tuesday 31 May and the same day reached Winchester. He now had plenty of time to prepare for the proclamation of the papal letters quashing  the Provisions of Oxford. The lives of medieval rulers revolved around the ecclesiastical calendar. They were deeply aware of how celebration of the  great religious festivals could give a sacral gloss to their rule before large gatherings of people.  Thus coronations and crown wearings, parliaments and proclamations were frequently time to coincide with the great feasts. [See the blog on the ‘Revealing Records’ symposium below.]  So it was in 1261 for Henry III intended to pronounce the papal letters on the feast on Pentecost. In 1261 as in 2011, this fell on Sunday 12 June.  Arriving at Winchester on 31 May, Henry thus had eleven days before  the papal balloon went up.

The journey to Winchester, not surprisingly, saw a sharp decline in the numbers of writs purchased in connection with  the common law legal procedures;  only nineteen  as opposed to sixty the week before when the king had been largely in London. The fine rolls for this week also have a fascinating order highlighting  various aspects of the king’s relations with the Jews. It was issued at the instance of Henry’s son, the Lord Edward, which reflected the fact that the Jews had been placed in some respects under his control.  The Jews owed the king 1000 marks (£666) as a penalty for an unspecified ‘trespass’. This they had been due to pay before Pentecost. Now, at Edward’s request, the payment was postponed till three weeks after the feast of John the Baptist, so to 15 July (another example of how the calendar was conceived in terms of the great ecclesiastical festivals).  Meanwhile the Jews were to recover their  chattels seized for the non payment of the debt. Henry then added a proviso. In the assessment of the  money to pay the debt, poor Jews were not to be ‘grieved’.  In intervening for the Jews, Edward was probably serving his own interests. There would be all the more of Jewish money for himself. Quite probably, he was also paid for his intervention.  But in Henry’s proviso one wonders if one sees his well known concern for the poor embracing even the poor of the Jewish community.  The importance attached to the proviso  is shown in the way  it was added to the initial record of the order on the fine rolls. Henry, however, was also casting an avaricious eye over Jewish wealth.  Before the chattels were returned,  there was to be an inquiry into what exactly was in the  ‘coffers’ or ‘chests’  of the Jews  in London and elsewhere. This was to be carried out secretly so the Jews were unaware of it, and the king was to be informed of the results.

Henry III Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 1 May to Saturday 7 May 1261

Friday, May 6th, 2011

At the end of last week’s blog, we asked what Henry’s decision to leave London and advance on Dover (which he reached on  Monday 2 May) would have on the business recorded in the fine rolls. The answer is the business collapsed. Henry’s long residence at the Tower of London had meant that those wishing to purchase writs and other favours had a central and certain place to go. They were clearly not deterred by the surrounding political tension. The five weeks down to 30 April had seen the purchase of   20, 13, 17, 17 and 12 writs respectively to further the common legal actions. The week between 1-7 May saw the purchase of only four,   these at Dover on 3 and 4 May.   There were  only two other entries on the fine rolls.  In the one, Henry pardoned a one mark penalty  imposed on a Rochester vintner for selling his wares contrary to the weights and measures regulations. In the other, Henry accepted an offer of 100  marks from the convent of Much Wenlock in Shropshire to have custody of their house during the vacancy caused by the death of their prior.

The disappearance  of the usual fine roll business was of little moment, against this week’s triumphal political success. What happened at Dover was recorded on the patent rolls.

‘Memorandum that on 2 May the king came to Dover and on the morrow took into his hand the castle of Dover and the wardenship of the Cinque Ports, which Hugh Bigod held before of the king’s bail by counsel of the nobles of the council, and he committed these during his pleasure to Robert Walerand’.

 The phraseology here was deliberately chosen and deeply significant for it indicated that the authority of the 1258 Provisions of Oxford council was at end. Yes, in giving Dover to Bigod, Henry had acted ‘by counsel of the nobles of the council’, but there was no suggestion that he had done the same in transferring the castle to the trusty Robert Walerand. Walerand was to hold during his pleasure.  Henry was now acting free of restraint of his own free will.

Materially Henry had struck a mighty blow for Dover was ‘the key to England’.  He could now dominate the Cinque ports, control the channel and call in foreign help. Symbolically the blow was equally great. Hugh Bigod, with his appointment at justiciar in 1258, had been at the summit of the reform regime.  If he was now prepared to throw it over, that really seemed the end.  Bigod, moreover, put up no struggle. He supplied the king’s household with the castle’s wine, and immediately joined the circle of the court, witnessing a royal charter while the king was at Dover.

Later in the year Bigod may have regretted his conduct. In August, he refused to surrender Scarborough and Pickering castles to the king, on the grounds that he had received them from the council as well as the king, and was sworn to surrender them only with the council’s consent. Precisely the situation, one would have thought at Dover. At this moment,  however, his conduct was understandable. He had been close to the king before the revolution of 1258, and thereafter, as justiciar, had been careful treat him with respect, much more respect than some other members of the regime. In 1260,  he had obeyed the king, rather than Simon de Montfort, and refused to hold the Candlemas parliament laid down by the Provisions of Oxford.  Montfort had  threatened him with reprisals, and then in October 1260 secured his removal as justiciar, only failing to  remove him from Dover at the same time. Doubtless Bigod was now told by the king that a papal bull was on its way quashing the oath to the 1258 reforms. He believed  the baronial enterprise was at end.  It was only  subsequent events which showed he had miscalculated.

After his triumph at Dover, Henry  moved on to Romney near where, on 6 May, the barons of the Cinque Ports came to do him homage.  But there were signs it would not all  be plain sailing. On 2 May, the day he arrived at Dover, there was resistance to the king’s judges hearing pleas at Hertford, and complaints that they were acting in contravention of the Provisions of Oxford. Two day later, Henry summoned foreign soldiers to England. The struggle had only just begun.