Posts Tagged ‘Peter de Montfort’

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)

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 6 April 1264

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

The Battle of Northampton

by Adrian Jobson

April’s onset witnessed the end of any lingering hopes for a negotiated settlement between Henry III and the baronial opposition. On Wednesday 2 April, the king authorised a safe conduct for Peter de Montfort, a close friend and supporter of Simon de Montfort, to meet the royal envoys at Brackley in Northamptonshire.[1] But the earl of Leicester’s recent offer to accept the Mise of Amiens in its entirety, the only proviso being that the king should ‘remove the aliens and govern through natives’, was still unacceptable to Henry as it maintained a key principle of the reformist programme that his choice of ministers should be restricted.[2] For Henry, with whom the military advantage lay, there would be no conditional peace. On Thursday 3 April, therefore, he ordered the unfurling of the royal standard at Oxford.[3] This symbolic act, which marked the formal commencement of hostilities, was the opening salvo in a six week campaign that would begin with an astonishing victory for the royalists.

Northampton, lying some forty miles north-east of Oxford, was a key strategic castle town that lay at the crossroads of several important road networks. Strongly garrisoned, it shielded the main Montfortian stronghold at Kenilworth from a royalist attack. Commanded by Simon de Montfort the Younger, the earl of Leicester’s second son, Northampton’s garrison was mainly drawn from the surrounding shires and had been reinforced by the arrival of some students from the recently dispersed University of Oxford. Henry, having received intelligence that the town’s defences were in a poor state of repair, marched his now formidable army northwards. Arriving before Northampton’s walls on the evening of Friday 4 April, his demand for admittance to both the town and castle was immediately refused.[4]

At sunrise on Saturday 5 April, therefore, the royalists launched a two pronged assault upon the town. Sending several siege engines in a diversionary attack to engage the defenders at Northampton’s southern gate, the main royalist force directed its assault upon a weakened section of the town’s north-western wall adjacent to the gardens of St Andrew’s Priory. Soon the walls were breached, possibly with some assistance from the French prior Guy de Busseria as he was subsequently said to have secretly undermined the garden’s walls in advance and shored up the damaged section with wooden props.[5] The Young Simon, having learned of the breach, bravely attempted to rally the defence, but was soon captured when his horse stumbled and threw him unharmed into the town’s ditch. News of his capture caused immediate panic. Some threw down their arms and sought sanctuary in nearby churches. Others retreated into the castle, where they intended to offer further resistance.[6] Night fell, but next morning the depleted garrison realised that the castle’s poorly maintained walls were incapable of resisting a prolonged siege. Left with little alternative and in order to avoid further unnecessary bloodshed Peter de Montfort, who had assumed the command of the rebel forces following the Young Simon’s capture, surrendered to Henry. Joining them in captivity were more than 55 barons and knights – including Baldwin Wake, Adam of Newmarket and Adam le Despencer – the loss of whom considerably weakened the rebel cause.[7] In capturing Northampton, Henry had driven a wedge between the two heartlands of Montfortian power: the Midlands and the South. For Montfort, the war had commenced with the most inauspicious of starts.


[1] CPR 1258-66, 310.

[2] J.R. Maddicott, Simon de Montfort (Cambridge, 1994), 265-6; A. Jobson, The First English Revolution: Simon de Montfort, Henry III and the Barons’ War (London, 2012), 109-110.

[3] R.F. Treharne, ‘The Battle of Northampton, 5th April 1264’, in Simon de Montfort and Baronial Reform: Thirteenth-Century Essays, ed. E.B. Fryde (London, 1986), 307.

[4] Dunstable, 229-30; C.H. Lawrence, ‘The University of Oxford and the Chronicle of the Barons’ Wars’, EHR, 95 (1980), 100, 107-10.

[5] Dunstable, 229-30; Treharne, ‘Northampton’, 309-10.

[6] Treharne, ‘Battle of Northampton’, 309-11; Jobson, The First English Revolution, 109-110.

[7] Treharne, ‘Battle of Northampton’, 312-3.

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Monday 22 January to Saturday 27 January 1257

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Perspicacious readers will already have appreciated  why this week’s blog needs to run  from Monday not Sunday. Last week’s blog mistakenly followed the calendar for 2012 not 1257 and so ran from Sunday 15 January to Saturday 21 January instead of Sunday 14 January to Saturday 20 January. In this blog we are now back on the true 1257 course.

Henry III began this week at Westminster and then, between 24 and 27 January  moved to Windsor.  Once there, he took steps to see the five chaplains  serving the castle’s chapels and the four serjeants in the garrison received their pay.

The fine rolls show the raising of the gold treasure in full swing. In these six days no less than eleven men offered the king half a mark of gold apiece for exemption from knighthood.  How effectively the sheriffs were putting pressure throughout the country on men to assume the title  or (which was preferable)  pay not to do so, is shown by the fact that these fines came from a wide sweep of counties:  Devon, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire,   Hampshire, Sussex,  Cambridgeshire,   Suffolk, Leicestershire,  Rutland, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire.  The gold was intended to  finance an expedition to Sicily, and this week Henry, the brother of the king of Castile, who was being mooted as the possible commander of the army, was allowed to hunt at the royal manor of Havering in Essex.

Other fines of gold came from Robert of Canterbury for a die in the king’s mint at Canterbury and from  Walter de la More of Buckinghamshire to  have a pardon for a homicide. This second concession (no.383 in the Calendar)  was made at the instance of Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester.  (For the entry see twenty items down in the image of the membrane: http://frh3.org.uk/content/fimages/C60_54/m08.html.).  Montfort also secured in this week a charter from the king allowing him to set up a new park at his manor of Shipley in Northumberland.  Since there is no reference to a fine for this on the fine rolls, he got the concession free of charge. These favours are useful reminders of how far Montfort was back on good terms with the king before the revolution of 1258.  He was not at court this week,  but his close associate (although no relation),  Peter de Montfort,  a member of the king’s council, witnesses the Shipley charter  and it was probably  through Peter that the concessions were obtained. Other witnesses were Peter of Savoy, Guy de Lusignan and William de Valence which shows how very prominent the king’s foreign relatives were at court. In 1258 that court was to break apart.

One small point of chancery practice or mispractice. No 380 in the Calendar (seventeen items down in the image) is an interesting example of an  entry being enrolled late and out of sequence.  It is a concession to Philip Basset, witnessed at Windsor on 7 November 1256. Note also the smaller hand and lighter ink from the entries before and after.  This hand and ink, however, is not found in the marginal annotation to the entry, which looks the same as those to the other entries,  a  sure sign these marginalia were done later all at the same time.  I  assume, incidentally,  that when the immediately following entry (no.381) is said to be ‘witnessed as above’, that refers back to the 27 January of entry no.375 not 7 November of  380.