Posts Tagged ‘Oxford’

Sunday 7 December 1264: a siege and a debt

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

The king spent most of this week in Oxford, moving only as far as Woodstock on 6 December. Hugh Despenser, the justiciar, had evidently rejoined the court; he had been sent to find any stragglers who had gone to Northampton, following the earlier instructions for forces to gather there, rather than at Oxford. Despenser held an inquiry in Oxford on 3 December, concerning a death during a quarrel; the report of the inquiry is confused, beginning by saying that it concerns the death of Robert son of Cecil de Stokes, but ending by saying that Robert drew his knife and killed Richard Crindel. (Cal Inq Misc, I, no. 283)

Pevensey Castle in 1737. In 1246, Henry III had granted the castle to Peter of Savoy (Cal Charter Rolls, I, 296).

Pevensey Castle in 1737. In 1246, Henry III had granted the castle to Peter of Savoy (Cal Charter Rolls, I, 296).

Although Despenser had time for such local matters, the main business of the week was preparation for operations against the royalists. Nine of the king’s crossbowmen were paid 40 shillings each for arrears of wages, so that they could come to the March with the king, with horses and arms. (CLR 1260-67, 150) The council committed Scarborough castle to John de Eyvill and Newcastle on Tyne castle to Robert de Lisle, ordering their royalist commanders to hand them over. The ports of Hastings, Winchelsea and Rye were instructed to prevent royalist attempts to deliver supplies by sea, and break the siege of Pevensey castle. Simon de Montfort junior, who commanded the siege, was paid £100 toward the costs of continuing the siege during the winter, and for making a ditch in front of the castle so that the royalists could not get out. (CPR 1258-66, 390-2; CLR 1260-67, 152; CFR 1264-65, 626, 628)

Simon de Montfort appears again to have been using his position for his own benefit, in the matter of his wife’s dower. The sheriff of Lincolnshire was ordered to raise 600 marks from the goods and chattels of Margaret countess of Lincoln, which the king owed as Eleanor’s dower. This was to be paid on 1 December. (E 368/39 m. 2d)

Sunday 14 September 1264: peace terms

Sunday, September 14th, 2014
Eudes Rigaud, archbishop of Rouen. It was proposed that he should have the deciding vote if negotiations were tied.

Eudes Rigaud, archbishop of Rouen. It was proposed that he should have the deciding vote if negotiations were tied.

On 11 September, Simon de Montfort’s government produced a set of proposals for negotiations about the ‘form of peace’, the settlement agreed after the baronial victory. Several draft proposals survive, showing various approaches to setting up an Anglo-French committee to rule on the future government of England. Initially, the negotiators, to meet Louis IX and the papal legate, were the bishops of Worcester and Winchester, and Peter de Montfort. They were to propose establishing a group of four to decide what changes to the peace were needed, if any; two would be English (the bishop of London and Hugh Despenser) and two French, with the archbishop of Rouen as arbiter in the event of disagreement. The proposals stipulated that England must be governed by natives, and that castles and offices must be held by natives. A few days later, the bishop of London, Hugh Despenser, and the archdeacon of Oxford were added to the baronial negotiating team. (Diplomatic Documents, I, 269-70; Foedera, I, I, 446-7; CPR 1258-66, 369-70)

A further set of proposals was then produced. The arbitrators were to rule on the election of councillors, who must be Englishmen. These councillors would rule on the appointment of officials, who must also be English, the observance of the charters and the control of the king’s expenditure. When agreement was reached, the royal hostages would be released. If the arbitration failed, then the terms of the Peace of Canterbury would remain in effect. (CPR 1258-66, 370-1)

One chronicler, Arnold fitz Thedmar, reported that the king and barons went to Dover about this time, for a meeting between the representatives of the king and barons on one side, and on the other the foreigners whom the Queen had paid to invade England. Then Hugh Despenser, Peter de Montfort and other nobles and bishops went to France to discuss peace. A rather confused version of the actual events had evidently become known in London. (Cronica Maiorum, 69)

The government was not only concerned with the defence of the coasts: the local authorities in Oxford were ordered to repress illicit gatherings, intended to disturb the region, and to prevent the assembly of ‘a multitude of foreign Jews’ in the town. (Close Rolls 1261-64, 363-4)

Sunday 30 March 1264: an abbey, a saint and a curse

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Henry’s forces were assembling in Oxford. The charter roll shows that those present on 30 March included: the king’s brother, earl Richard; the earl’s son, Henry of Almain; Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford; Hugh Bigod, who had been Justiciar in the early days of the reform movement; Philip Basset; Roger de Mortimer; James Audley; Robert Walerand; John de Grey; and Warin de Bassingbourn. They were witnessing a charter for the citizens of Worcester, who were granted a range of privileges and liberties, in return for an increase in the farm, for the good service they had rendered to the king and lord Edward; perhaps this was some compensation for the recent sacking of the city by Robert de Ferrers. Henry had promised to pay the expenses of those coming to Oxford to join his army. This must have been a problem, particularly with the Treasury either closed or inaccessible, in rebel-held London. Henry was presumably using the Wardrobe to administer his finances, and seems to have taken some steps to direct revenues there, rather than to the the Treasury: £200 from the farm of Southampton was paid to the Wardrobe on 27 March. (Royal Charter Witness Lists, 332; CChR 1257-1300, 48; CLR 1260-67, 132; Wardrobe Accounts Henry III, 109)

The fine roll shows another source of revenue, resulting from the siege of Gloucester and lord Edward’s eventual success in taking the town. On 15 March, Henry had sent orders to Roger de Clifford, his constable of Gloucester castle, concerning the property of St Peter’s abbey which had been confiscated; the abbey had until 23 March to make amends for recent offences. On 27 March, the fine roll records that the abbot and convent had paid 100 marks to the Wardrobe. This was a fine paid because they had harboured barons (hospitaverunt barones) in the abbey without the king’s permission, and to have the king’s goodwill. This may be an indicator both of the sympathies of many churchmen, who supported the barons, and of the way in which Henry was raising cash. The abbey did not have to dip into its own reserves, however; on the same day as the fine was recorded, the tenants of the abbey were instructed to contribute an aid to the abbot and convent, for the relief of its debts. The abbot was also given an allowance for the provisions which Roger de Clifford had taken from his property, for supplying the castle. (Close Rolls 1261-64, 336; CFR 1263-64, no. 90; CPR 1258-66, 308; CLR 1260-67, 135)

St Frideswide, from a window in Christ Church, Oxford, designed by Edward Burne-Jones

St Frideswide, from a window in Christ Church, Oxford, designed by Edward Burne-Jones

While he was in Oxford, Henry granted the prior and convent of St Frideswide’s an annual payment of 100s. to pay for a chaplain and candles at the saint’s shrine. This was the sort of gesture which one might expect from a pious king like Henry, but contemporary chroniclers were more impressed by the fact that he had entered Oxford at all. There was said to be a curse, which no previous king had dared to defy. Supposedly, Frideswide (d. 727) was the daughter of the king of Oxford. She became an abbess, and was pursued by the lecherous king Algar of Leicester. Frideswide went into hiding, and when Algar tried to enter Oxford he was struck blind. The Osney chronicle said that Henry entered the church of St Frideswide with great devotion, which no king had attempted since the time of king Algar; he gave many goods to the church, and promised more if God gave him victory over his enemies. (CPR 1258-66, 308; John Blair, ‘Frithuswith’, ODNB; Flores Hist, II, 487; Ann Mon, IV, 142-3)

 

Sunday 23 March 1264: talking peace, preparing for war

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

Henry III spent another week in Oxford, waiting for his forces to gather there, ostensibly to launch a campaign against the Welsh. He sent messages to ten southern and western counties, instructing their knights and freemen to come to Oxford with horses and arms by 30 March. The sheriffs would induce and if necessary compel them to do so, and the king would pay their costs. The sheriffs should proclaim this immediately, and come to Oxford in person with the knights, serjeants and squires they could gather at the king’s expense. (CPR 1258-66, 358; Close Rolls 1261-64, 382)

“Cum equis et armis.” From BL Royal 12 F XIII, a bestiary, possibly from Rochester, second quarter of 13th century.

“Cum equis et armis.” From BL Royal 12 F XIII, a bestiary, possibly from Rochester, second quarter of 13th century.

At the same time, Henry was trying to negotiate a settlement with the barons. He issued a safe conduct for a baronial delegation to come to Brackley (in Northamptonshire, about 19 miles from Oxford) for peace talks. Henry was represented by Roger Longespee, bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, and master Nicholas de Plumpton, archdeacon of Norfolk. A French knight, John de Valentinis, was to act as arbitrator. Following the capture of Gloucester, Henry must have felt that he was negotiating from a position of strength. According to the London annals, the bishops representing the baronial party were willing to compromise on almost everything, accepting the terms laid down by Louis IX in the mise of Amiens. Their only stipulation was that foreigners should be removed from England, which should be ruled by natives. The king’s answer was that he would not go back on the terms imposed by the king of France, which he would enforce forever. The difference between the two sides came down to this single point: the king could not allow any limitation on his choice of ministers and officials; the barons could not swallow the loss of this last vestige of their reforming programme. No compromise was possible. (CPR 1258-66, 307-8; Ann Lond, 61)

Book review

English Historical Review has just put online a book review which is relevant to the events of 1264: Sophie Ambler reviews The First English Revolution: Simon de Montfort, Henry III and the Barons’ War, by Adrian Jobson. She says: ‘this book provides a superb introduction for those unfamiliar with the topic, as well as a very useful summary for specialists.’

You can’t say fairer than that. And we can look forward to a contribution to this blog from Adrian Jobson, to appear in a couple of weeks.

Sunday 16 March 1264: Oxford, Gloucester and London

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

Henry III stayed in Oxford all week, waiting for his followers to respond to the summons he had sent out. He sent the students away, as many undisciplined men (indomiti) would be coming to the town. Henry would not be able to guarantee the safety of the clerks in an armed camp; in addition, his troops would presumably need to take over the students’ accommodation. We know the names of some of those who were already with him, because there is an entry on the charter roll from 14 March, the first charter to be recorded since December. The witnesses who were present in Oxford include earl Richard, Hugh Bigod, Philip Basset, Roger Leybourne, Warin de Bassingbourn, Roger Mortimer and James Audley – some of the leading royalist commanders. (Foedera, I, 1, 435; Royal Charter Witness Lists of Henry III)

The fine roll this week shows that Henry was losing such support as he had had in Wales. Back in 1257, he had granted the manors of Market Harborough, Great Bowden and Kingsthorpe to the Welsh magnate Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn. This was a reward for Gruffydd’s service to the king and lord Edward, against the rising power of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd. Gruffydd lost his lands and chattels in Powys during the war in Wales, but he and his family would be sustained by these English manors. In 1263, Gruffydd evidently saw which way the wind was blowing, and deserted the king’s cause, to attach himself to Llywelyn. Henry responded on 14 March, taking away Gruffydd’s manors, committing them to be managed by the men of those manors instead. (CFR 1257-58, no. 140; CPR 1247-58, 560, 608; CFR 1263-64, nos. 87-8)

Lord Edward began the week trapped in Gloucester castle, with baronial forces holding the town, and the troops of Robert de Ferrers approaching, following their sack of Worcester. In Robert of Gloucester’s verses:

Then they saw out of the tower the earl Robert of Ferrers
At the town’s end come, with noble men and fierce,
From the direction of Tewkesbury, armed well each one,
Horse and men, all ready battle to do anon.
When sir Edward saw this, nothing was he glad,
For it was said that he was not so sore afraid of any one.

Bishop Walter de Cantilupe negotiated a ceasefire between Edward and Henry de Montfort, much to Ferrers’ annoyance. Edward promised to arrange terms for peace by 13 March. De Montfort’s baronial forces withdrew from the town, under the terms of the agreement, which Edward promptly disregarded, ‘with foxlike cunning.’ Edward occupied the town, imprisoned the leading citizens and extorted a large ransom. The gatekeepers who had been tricked into letting the baronial forces into Gloucester were hanged from the west gate. The ransom was said to be £1,000; Roger Clifford, the royalist constable of Gloucester castle, was ordered to send £100 of this directly to the king. The king did take steps to negotiate with his opponents: on 13 March he appointed proctors to seek Simon de Montfort and negotiate with him, in the presence of a French envoy. (Church Historians, V, 365-6; Ann Mon, III, 228; Flores Hist, II, 487; Close Rolls 1261-64, 336-7; Foedera, I, 1, 436)

London remained hostile to the king. It is notable that he had avoided the capital when he travelled from Rochester to Oxford. The city was controlled by baronial sympathizers, who appointed a constable and marshal to command the Londoners. The Tower appears to have been in the hands of Hugh Despenser, who had been appointed Justiciar (the chief administrative and judicial officer) and keeper of the Tower by the baronial council in 1260-61. Despenser had returned to these offices in 1263, when de Montfort was briefly in control. Although he ceased to function as Justiciar in October 1263, as Henry re-asserted his authority, Despenser seems to have kept control of the Tower. This week, Despenser and the Londoners attacked and plundered earl Richard’s manor of Isleworth, and destroyed his house in Westminster. The London mob also ‘ravaged with fire and destruction’ the estates of other royalists, including Philip Basset. Basset was one of the charter witnesses with the king in Oxford; he was also Despenser’s father-in-law, and had replaced him as Justiciar between 1261 and 1263. The Londoners are said to have attacked and imprisoned the king’s clerks, the barons of the Exchequer and the justices of the Bench. Henry responded by imposing sanctions (as we would now say): the constable of Windsor castle was to prevent supplies reaching London by boat, cart or pack-horse; royalist supporters were not to pay debts owed to burgesses who held their manors, which were to be seized by the sheriff of Kent. (Cronica Maiorum, 61; Ann Mon, IV, 140-1; Flores Hist, II, 487; Close Rolls 1261-64, 375-6)

William Bagot and the Hospital of St John, Oxford

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

On 9 May 1261, one week after the Exchequer’s Easter term had begun, the fine rolls noted an unusual arrangement for a sheriff’s debt to be paid by a hospital. William Bagot, the sheriff of Warwickshire, was recorded to have attended the Adventus at the beginning of term, and brought £100 for the farm of the county and the debts for which he had been summoned. In fact, he does not seem to have paid any cash into the Treasury until the following week. He paid £22 on Friday 13 May, then £11 for the remainder of his farm and £82 profit on 17 May. Leaving aside the profit, he had paid only £33 towards the farm and debts. The difference was made up by the arrangement set out in the fine roll on 9 May: brother Henry, the master of the hospital of St John in Oxford, had recently bought some land from Bagot for 100 marks (£67); rather than paying the money to the sheriff, the master would pay it into the Exchequer, to set against the sheriff’s debt there. The deal, also recorded in the Exchequer’s memoranda rolls, was for the master to pay 50 marks on 18 May, and the rest at the end of September.

The hospital was a wealthy insitution, with extensive land holdings (a list of its properties occupies nearly eight pages of the printed charter rolls). It was one of Henry III’s favoured institutions – he regarded himself as its founder, because he had given it the site outside the east gate of Oxford, where Magdalen College now stands. It often received royal gifts of timber, and had a wide range of liberties and privileges. Perhaps this favoured status led the master to take a rather casual attitude towards paying the debt he owed to the Exchequer. Despite agreeing to pay the 100 marks in full by the end of September 1261, the pipe roll shows that brother Henry had still paid nothing by the end of September 1262, although the 100 marks had been set against Bagot’s debts to the Exchequer.

Brother Henry did eventually pay the first instalment of 50 marks, due just nine days after the agreement was made. It is recorded in the 1265 pipe roll, which also notes that he had been pardoned the remaining 50 marks by writ of the king. And indeed the fine rolls record the pardon too, on 18 January 1266. Nearly five years after the arrangement had been made, Bagot still owed £65 from the farm for 1261, but at least his debt had been reduced by 100 marks; the hospital of St John had acquired a piece of land at half-price; and the Exchequer had indirectly paid for it, through Henry’s usual generosity.

Sources:

Calendar Fine Rolls 1260-61, 404; 1265-66, 120.

Memoranda roll E 159/34 m. 14.

Pipe rolls E 372/106; E 372/109 rot. 4.

Victoria County History, Oxfordshire, II, 158-9 (online)

Calendar of Charter Rolls, I, 296-304.