Posts Tagged ‘Pope Urban IV’

Sunday 5 October 1264: undelivered letters

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

Pope Urban IV died on 2 October, which formally ended Guy Foulquois’ appointment as papal legate, although the news would obviously take some time to reach the legate in northern France. The legate’s attempts to impose a settlement between the Montfortian government and the royalist exiles, led by the queen, had effectively collapsed. Queen Eleanor’s representatives had withdrawn from the talks, saying that the queen was outraged that nothing had been said about the hostages, her son and nephew. On 3 October, the representatives of the baronial government, the bishops of Winchester and London, also withdrew for further deliberations, taking with them a letter from the legate to the bishops of England. This ordered the bishops to announce the excommunication of the leading barons and of the citizens of London and the Cinque Ports, unless they had submitted to the legate’s demands within fifteen days. These demands included a complex scheme for arbitration, overseen by the legate, which would have required the barons to surrender Dover castle and the hostages – terms which were clearly unacceptable to the barons. The bishops were also ordered not to pay the tenth or any other form of subsidy to the baronial government. In any event, the legate’s letters never reached their destination; the citizens of Dover seized them, tore them up and threw them into the sea. (Heidemann, register, 43-4; Flores, II, 501)

Castle and ship, from BL Royal 10 E IV, the Smithfield Decretals.

Castle and ship, from BL Royal 10 E IV, the Smithfield Decretals.

The traditional enmity between the sailors of the Cinque Ports and those of Yarmouth had broken out again. The government intervened on the side of the Cinque Ports, which were playing a crucial role in the defence of the south-east coast against a possible landing by the forces which queen Eleanor had assembled across the Channel. They were to be compensated for any losses caused by the men of Yarmouth, as the men of the Cinque Ports were ‘labouring manfully about the defence of the sea and the maritime parts against the invasion of aliens’. Hostages from Yarmouth were to be delivered to the sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, who would hold them in Norwich castle, as security against disorder breaking out at Yarmouth fair. The sheriff was to ensure that the arguments between the Cinque Ports and Yarmouth did not lead to new contentions and grievances at the fair, while the burgesses of Yarmouth were warned to keep the peace, or ‘the king will betake himself so grievously to them that they and their heirs shall thenceforward feel themselves aggrieved in no small measure.’ (CPR 1258-66, 352, 372-3)
The liberate roll contains a passing reference to a sad event. Lord Edward, the king’s son, was still being held as a hostage. At this time, the only child of Edward and Eleanor of Castile was Katherine, of whom we know only that she was born some time between 1261 and 1263, and died in September 1264. The king’s almoner paid 4 marks for two cloths of gold adorned with wheels for the use of Katherine, Edward’s deceased daughter. The almoner also received £40 for making offerings on the day of Katherine’s funeral. Some of the usual pieties were evidently being observed, even while Edward was a captive. (CLR 1260-67,143; Morris, A Great and Terrible King, 73)

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 11 December to Saturday 17 December 1261

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Henry III began this week at Westminster.  After his long sojourn in the Tower, what a relief to be back at his great  palace. Once more he could pray beside the shrine of his patron saint, Edward the Confessor, and survey the magnificent abbey he was rebuilding in his honour. Surprisingly, however, Henry’s stay only lasted a few days. On 14 December he left for Merton priory in Surrey, a religious house where he often stayed.  Conceivably, after his long absence, the palace of Westminster was not ready to receive him.  He would enjoy the hospitality of the Merton monks before returning to Westminster  for Christmas.

As we saw from last week’s blog, on 7 December Henry had  proclaimed the ‘form of peace’ agreed with his opponents.  But the agreement was far from universal. At Merton on Friday 16 December, Henry issued an appeal to those who had yet to seal the document, urging them  to do so. If they could not come in person, they could just send their seals.

The list of the recalcitrants  was  the same as it had been on 7 December. In the order given  it was as follows.

Roger Bigod, earl of Norfolk

John de Warenne, earl of Surrey,

Simon de Montfort, earl of Leiecester

Roger Mortimer

Hugh Despencer

William Bardolph

John de Burgh

Henry de Hastings

John fitzJohn

Robert de Vipont

William de Munchensy

John fitzAlan

Nicholas of Seagrave

Geoffrey de Lucy

How many of these men actually responded to the call to  seal the agreement we do not know, but what we do know is that they never acted as a body to oppose it. That for Henry was enough.  Inaction amounted to acceptance, acceptance of his recovery of power and the effective abrogation of the Provisions of Oxford.  Just to hammer home the point, on 11 December Henry sent envoys to the new pope Urban IV, asking him to renew his predecessor’s absolution from the oath to obey the Provisions,  Provisions which had been issued ‘manifestly to the depression and diminution of royal power’.

Only one man stood out  against this feeble acquiescence: Simon de Montfort.  According to the friendly and well informed annals of Dunstable priory, having heard that his erstwhile allies  had capitulated, ‘he left England, saying that he preferred to die without land than be a perjurer and depart from the truth’.  This was the defining moment in Simon’s career, the moment when he showed he was not as other men.  Unlike everyone else, he would not abandon the Provisions.  He would only return to England if they were resurrected. When he did return in 1263 it was to lead a movement which aimed to do just that.

The fine rolls continue to reflect the uncertainty of this period. Things were far from back to normal.  The fine rolls, like the other rolls of the chancery, continue to record business in a jumbled chronological order. The dearth of those  seeking the writs to pursue the common law legal actions continued. Only four such writs were purchased between  dated entries on 12 and 23 December. In one writ on the fine rolls, issued on 12 December,  Henry rewarded a man who, morally and materially, had been crucial to his recovery of power.  This was Philip Basset. Basset was  a wealthy and respected magnate. In the subsequent  civil war he was as defiant in defeat as he was magnanimous in victory. He refused to surrender at the battle of Lewes, and was captured covered in wounds. After Evesham, he did all he could to alleviate the lot of the disinherited. It was immensely important for Henry’s cause in 1261, that he had a man of this calibre on his side, and indeed could appoint him as justiciar, in effect the chief minister of his regime.  What made Basset’s stance all the more significant, was that years before, in 1233 he and his older brother, Gilbert Basset,  had joined Richard Marshal, earl of Pembroke’s rebellion against the crown. Philip then was no pliant,  unthinking loyalist. Henry’s concession on 12 December itself reached back to the events of 1233, since when Philip had succeeded Gilbert as lord of the Basset estates. Henry now pardoned Philip the £9 4s 4d owed for the farm of High Wycombe (a chief Basset manor held from the crown)  for the first part of the financial year 1232-3. The concession appears 6th from the bottom on the fine roll. The reason was that Gilbert had been unable to receive the money ‘because the king had taken [High Wycombe] into his hand at the aforesaid time by reason of the war waged between the king and Richard earl Marshal’. So, for the king. Philip’s loyalty in 1261 wiped away the last stain  disloyalty of 1233.  Philip would not have looked at it like that.  Rebellion in 1233 had been justified. In 1261 it was not.

Would Henry get to his palace and abbey at Westminster for a happy and peaceful Christmas?  Read subsequent blogs to find out.