Posts Tagged ‘Nottingham’

Sunday 20 April 1264: Easter in Nottingham

Saturday, April 19th, 2014
Nottingham Castle

Nottingham Castle

Henry III spent this week in Nottingham, consolidating his recent military successes and dealing with his enemies. He must have felt that he had inflicted a decisive blow on the rebels, and that he could enjoy his victory. He was joined in Nottingham by his supporters from the north – John Balliol, Robert de Brus, Peter de Brus and many other barons. They would be welcomed with suitable provisions for the Easter feast: the bailiffs of Lincoln, Newark, Grantham and elsewhere were ordered to send to Nottingham 40 fat cattle, 30 cattle, 140 sheep, 20 boars, 40 pigs, 500 hens, 600 chickens, 300 pigeons, 4,000 eggs, and 560 shillings-worth of bread. The end of the Lenten fast would clearly be celebrated in the traditional manner. Henry was also collecting cash, by having some £85 from the farm payments for Lincoln, Nottingham and Derby paid into the Wardrobe this week, rather than being delivered to the Treasury. The Wardrobe travelled with the king, so this would be cash which he could use for his immediate needs, particularly his military expenditure. (The bailiffs who provided food for the feast were not paid cash, of course. They would have to wait; they were told that the king would allow them the cost when their total expenditure was known.) (Flores, II, 488; Close Rolls 1261-64, 341-2; CLR 1260-67, 135)

Henry and Edward now seemed to have struck a decisive blow against the rebels. Within the last few weeks they had taken control of Gloucester, commanding the Severn crossing, and most of the Midlands, one of the two centres of baronial support. The barons still held London and Dover, but Henry had also sent forces to reinforce Rochester, on the road between them. The fine roll records Henry’s revenge on the opponents whom he appeared to have defeated. The king’s newly-appointed sheriffs of the Midlands counties were ordered to seize the lands of the king’s adversaries. Those listed include Simon de Montfort, Hugh Despenser, Henry of Hastings, Ralph Basset of Sapcote, Ralph Basset of Drayton, and so on. The sheriffs were also to take the lands of those who had opposed the king in Northampton, particularly Peter de Montfort and Simon de Montfort junior. The escheator for the north of England received similar orders for the lands of the rebels beyond the Trent. The magnates, bishops and abbots who had failed to obey the king’s summons to send troops were also to be punished by losing their estates (the king had already ordered the confiscation of the baronies of the archbishop of York, the bishops of Winchester, Ely, and Lincoln, and the abbots of Abingdon and Ramsey). Castles across England were to be stocked with supplies. (CFR 1263-64, nos. 101-8, 259-64; Close Rolls 1261-64, 382-3; CPR 1258-66, 313)

Simon de Montfort, as we saw last week, had failed to relieve Northampton and returned to London. Now, rather than directly countering the king’s successes in the Midlands, Simon turned south-east, towards Rochester. Henry had sent Roger of Leybourne and John de Warenne, earl of Surrey, to hold Rochester castle. Simon co-ordinated his attack on the town with Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester. De Clare, a great magnate, aged only 20, had only recently declared his support for the baronial cause. His forces, coming from Clare’s castle of Tonbridge, attacked from the south. De Montfort’s forces, coming from London, crossed the Medway into the town from Strood, to the west. The two baronial forces fought their way into the town on 18 April, and took the outer fortifications of the castle, but were unable to take the keep. (Ann Mon, III, 230-1, and IV, 146-7; Flores, 489-91)

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)

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 15 July to Saturday 28 July 1257

Friday, July 27th, 2012

King Henry’s itinerary in these two week can be followed in the fine rolls.  Down to 20 July he is found at Woodstock. On 24 July he is at Coventry and on 29 July at Lichfield. For the membrane covering the period, click here.

Henry was on his way to Chester to meet the army he had summoned for his campaign against Llywelyn. Preparations were now in full swing.  On 18 July 100 good archers were summoned from Sussex and a 100 good lancers from Northamptonshire. There was, however,  an important change of plan. On 13 July Llywelyn had attacked Richard de Clare’s lordship of Glamorgan.  The result was that on 18 July Henry decided to split his army and place a substantial force in south Wales under Richard’s command. Henry was also anxious on another front, one he had very much to heart. There was more trouble in Scotland where factional disputes were threatening the peace of the young king Alexander, who was married to Henry’s cherished daughter Margaret. On 20 July Henry sent envoys to Scotland to try and settle the disputes.  On the same day we find that Queen Eleanor was on her way to stay at Nottingham. This journey, hitherto unexplained, was almost certainly connected with events in Scotland. Eleanor felt as strongly about the welfare of Alexander and Margaret as did Henry. In 1255, when they had been under threat before, she had gone all the way to Scotland with Henry to effect their rescue. On that occasion, Henry and Eleanor had broken their journey at Nottingham. This year, Eleanor probably saw it as a base from which, if necessary, she could go further north. In fact, Eleanor did not stay at Nottingham long, although the  windows of her apartments there had been glassed, and the walls  wainscoted, plastered and adorned with a painting of the story of Alexander. She found the air not to her taste (an issue on which she was always sensitive) and moved to  the Ferrers castle of Tutbury, which was then, through a wardship,  in her own hands.

The fine rolls in these two weeks, show the usual common law business holding up well  with twenty-two writs being purchased to initiate or further legal actions. There is, as usual, a wide variety of other business. On 20 July at Woodstock, Henry, allowed Agnes, the widow of Stephen Bauzan, whose death at the hands of the Welsh had triggered the campaign, to have the royal manor of Wooton in Oxfordshire for six years, a nice act of compassion.  At Coventry, on 24 July, the ex sheriff of Shropshire and Staffordshire, Robert de Grendon, was allowed to pay off his arrears, which amounted to £484, at £20 a year.  How had he run up such a large deficit and why had he been allowed to do so? It would be interesting to research these questions, which could be posed concerning several other sheriffs at this time. There was also an important fine made by the Jewish community. Elyas Bishop, a London Jew, had just been removed from his position as ‘priest of the community of Jews of England’ for having allegedly tried to defraud Henry III’s brother, Richard earl of Cornwall and now, of course, king of Germany.  Despite its title, the position of ‘priest’ or ‘archpriest’ was a secular office held under the crown, the holder being responsible for carrying out the king’s orders with respect to the Jewry. Now Elyas’s brothers, Cress and Hagin, on behalf of the Jewish  community, offered the king three marks of gold (so the equivalent of thirty marks of silver) to ensure that Elyas never recovered the office and that henceforth the priest should be appointed by ‘common election of the aforesaid community’. It is interesting to see how the idea of that royal officials should be elected was embraced by the Jewish community just as much as it was by the Christian. It might seem strange that Henry III gave way to the request that the priest be elected,  but it had one great advantage.  If the priest was elected by the community, then the community could be penalised for his misdemeanours. Parliament’s demand to elect the king’s chief ministers, which Henry consistently rejected, was a rather different matter. For the fine, see nineteen from top on the membrane. The marginal note says the fine was by the community of the Jews of London, but the body of the fine makes clear it was by the community of the Jews of England.

Next week on to Chester.