Posts Tagged ‘Pevensey’

Sunday 9 November 1264: the Exchequer and Pevensey

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

The court spent this week at St Paul’s. There were plans to go to Northampton: the sheriff was ordered to repair the buildings of Northampton castle before the king’s arrival, as they were in danger of falling down. (CLR 1260-67, 147)

The Exchequer was operating relatively normally, having recovered from its closure in the spring of 1264, and at last had a permanent head. Roger de la Legh had been acting treasurer since November 1263, combining this post with being chancellor of the exchequer; he had been re-appointed acting treasurer by the baronial council at the beginning of Michaelmas term. On 3 November, the bishop of London and Hugh Despenser, the justiciar, presented to the barons of the Exchequer the new treasurer, Henry, prior of St Radegund’s (an abbey in Bradsole, Kent). Henry had previously held office between July and November 1263, when de Montfort was briefly in charge of the government, so may have been seen as a supporter of the baronial cause; he only remained in office until the summer of 1265, when the royalists returned to power. (E 368/39 m. 3d; Treharne, Baronial Plan, 330)

The normal business of the Exchequer was continuing. During this week, the accounts for Hampshire for 1263-64 were audited. The two sheriffs who had held office during the year owed £46, which they were to pay in January, together with a further £74 which they had not collected, but could collect. (E 368/39 m. 18-9) The Exchequer was also the site for the ceremony of the mayor of London taking his oath of office. Usually, this was a formality, but in 1263 the elected mayor, Thomas fitz Thomas, had not been admitted to office. Fitz Thomas was the populist mayor who had overthrown the traditional authority of the city magnates, represented by the aldermen. This year, the citizens of London came before the king, sitting in the Exchequer, and presented fitz Thomas as mayor; he was admitted and took the oath. (E 368/39 m. 2d, which confusingly calls the mayor Thomas fitz Richard; Cronica Maiorum, 70)

Although the threat of invasion had diminished, military operations continued against the royalists still resisting within England. Simon de Montfort junior was still besieging Pevensey castle, where royalists had held out since their escape there after the battle of Lewes. This was an expensive business, and Simon junior was to receive £800 from the bishop of Winchester, in part payment of his expenses. (CPR 1258-66, 386; CLR 1260-67, 145)

Sunday 20 July 1264: castles and cash

Sunday, July 20th, 2014
Pevensey castle in the 17th century, by Wenceslas Hollar

Pevensey castle in the 17th century, by Wenceslas Hollar

Simon de Montfort’s administration continued to issue orders intended to establish its authority over the country. Several royalist nobles and castellans, particularly in the north and the Welsh Marches, continued to ignore these instructions. Key castles were supposed to be delivered to loyal supporters of the new regime, including Corfe to Henry de Montfort, Oxford, Orford and Devizes to Hugh Despenser, and Nottingham initially to Simon de Montfort junior, then to the sheriff William fitz Herbert. The castle of Pevensey, where many royalists had fled after the battle of Lewes, was besieged by Simon de Monfort junior, around 20 July. The royalist garrison of Pevensey was offered safe conduct to go overseas, if they surrendered the castle to the sheriff, or to the king himself, but the siege was to continue for many months. The royalist northern magnates were yet again offered safe conduct to come to London, and assured that the Montfortian northerners had been instructed not to molest them. (CPR 1258-66, 335-7, 363; Close Rolls 1261-64, 399-401; Annales Londonienses, 64)

De Montfort’s first military priority was to establish control of the Welsh Marches. De Montfort and Gilbert de Clare went to the March, calling for the support of Shropshire, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire against the Marchers who had seized the king’s castles. A brief campaign resulted in the recovery of several castles, the devastation of Roger Mortimer’s lands, and another peace agreement. De Montfort then had to hurry back to Kent, to deal with the threat of invasion from Flanders by the mercenary forces which Queen Eleanor had assembled. (CPR 1258-66, 363; Flores Historiarum, II, 498-9)

There was an indication of the privileged position which Simon de Montfort was adopting: the ruling council had forbidden anyone to bear arms, or to go with horses and arms, as a peace-keeping measure, but de Montfort was given permission to do so, because of the hostages and prisoners he had. (CPR 1258-66, 337)

The government’s finances evidently continued to be precarious, with the royal household being supplied by hand-to-mouth expedients. The keepers of St Botulph’s fair were told that the king’s revenues from the fair should be used to cover purchases at the fair by the Wardrobe, and by the taker of the king’s wines. A few weeks later, on 8 August, there was a further emergency measure to cover purchases for the Wardrobe at the fair. The bailiffs of Lincoln, Grimsby, York and Caistor were told to pay the farms of their towns for the coming Michaelmas term to the Wardrobe’s buyers, “quia rex denarios ad presens non habet”. The sheriff of Lincolnshire was to ensure that 60 tuns of wine were transported from the fair to Canterbury. (Close Rolls 1261-64, 351, 353; CLR 1260-67, 140)

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 9 October to Saturday 15 October 1261

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Henry III began this week at St Paul’s in London, where he was almost certainly staying in the palace of the bishop.  He had around him a large body of supporters including the archbishop of Canterbury, the bishops of Salisbury and Norwich, the earls of Hereford and Warwick, the marcher barons, James of Audley and  Reginald fitzPeter, and such leading ministers as Philip Basset, justiciar of England and John Mansel.  The chronicle written by the London alderman, Arnold fitzThedmar, adds that the king’s brother, Richard, earl of Cornwall and king of the Romans, was  at St Martin le Grand, while the queen herself was with the king at St Paul’s. Also in London, presumably staying at his palace in the Strand,  was the queen’s uncle, Peter of Savoy, who, thanks to Henry’s munificence,  was lord of both Pevensey in Sussex and Richmond in Yorkshire.  Meanwhile, up river at Westminster the exchequer was bravely at work, receiving revenue  from loyalist sheriffs and beginning the work of hearing their accounts.

The trouble was that in and around London there were also large numbers of insurgent barons and knights, including in all probability, Simon de Montfort.  Meanwhile, out in the counties the king’s sheriffs were being challenged for control by rival officials set up by the opposition.  Henry now faced a difficult decision. Did he dare go to Westminster on 13 October to celebrate the feast of his patron saint, Edward the Confessor? At Westminster, where palace and abbey were  unprotected, he would  be vulnerable to the kind of armed coup which had overthrown him in 1258.  Yet, on the other hand, 13 October was the day in his religious year. He always celebrated it at Westminster besides the sainted body of his predecessor.  The year before, in 1260, his household records show he fed 5016 paupers around the great day and spent some £200 on a stupendous feast,  the very rough equivalent of two million pounds in modern money (at least according to my conversion ratio).  Entertainment for the guests was provided by the  Cinque Ports who were ordered to send  boats with trumpeters to play water music on the Thames. But that was 1260. What would happen if Henry went in the very different circumstances of 1261?

In the event Henry did go. The dating clauses of his letters place him at St Paul’s on 12 October, and on 13 October at Westminster. Henry was probably encouraged  by a relaxation in the tension, for fitzThedmar’s chronicle avers that before the feast of the Confessor the ‘dissension’ between the king and the barons was ‘pacified’. He adds, however, that the ‘peace’ did not last.  The truth of that is very apparent in Henry’s conduct. On 13 October he was at Westminster. But for all the spiritual balm radiating from the Confessor’s body, he did not stay there. The very next day he was back in London, and back not at St Pauls but at the Tower of London.  Evidently the situation had taken a turn for the worse. The bishop’s house at St Paul’s was itself now thought insecure. Only within the walls of the Tower could Henry feel safe.

On the fine rolls between 8 and 18 October only thirteen items of business were enrolled. All were entries, undated as usual, about the purchase of writs to initiate and further common law legal procedures.  Just how many of these writs  were issued in this week, and how many in the next, we cannot know, but whatever the breakdown, the numbers are comparatively small, and almost certainly reflect the uncertain situation.  Historians of the future will have to do a great deal of work to establish just who was purchasing these common law writs and engaging in the subsequent litigation. In this week, one name does stand out, that of Matthew of Kniveton in Derbyshire. He offered half a mark for a writ ad terminum, a writ that is which gave his law case a time to be heard before the king’s justices. The search facility for the fine rolls show that Matthew purchased similar writs in  October 1258 and January and May 1261. Matthew was a remarkable man.  Through a whole series of purchases, he was engaged in building up a landed estate, raising his family  from the free peasantry into the ranks of the knightly class.  The charters which recorded his endeavours were later copied into a family cartulary,  published as The Kniveton Leiger, ed. A. Saltman (London, HMSO, 1977).  In the forthcoming civil war, Matthew was involved with his lord, Robert de Ferrers, earl of Derby in  pillaging property in Staffordshire and Derbyshire, although, unlike his lord, he escaped the consequences, and made his peace with the post Evesham regime.  That this canny and ambitious man, in the fraught situation  in October 1261, was prepared to come to court and purchase a writ to prosecute a law case, suggests he was confident that peace would  soon be restored.  For whether that confidence was justified, see the following blogs.