Posts Tagged ‘Robert de Ferrers’

Sunday 14 December 1264: peace and parliament

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

During this week, the court travelled from Woodstock, via Pershore, to Worcester. The main focus of attention was the threat from the Marches. While the court was at Woodstock, preparing to move west, the sheriff of Oxfordshire and Berkshire was ordered to assemble all the knights of the counties and lead them in person to meet the king at Worcester on 11 December. (CPR 1258-66, 475-6)

A rapid campaign in the Marches led to the submission of the marcher lords, caught between de Montfort’s forces advancing from Oxford, and on the other side Llywellyn’s Welsh. The Peace of Worcester required the marchers to go into exile for a year, while de Montfort took custody of their lands. Arrangements for Edward’s release would be discussed at a parliament, to be held in January. (Flores, II, 504; Maddicott, Montfort, 307)

A stamp from 1965, showing Simon de Montfort’s seal, and a caption which might require a certain amount of qualification.

A stamp from 1965, showing Simon de Montfort’s seal, and a caption which might require a certain amount of qualification.

At Worcester, on 14 December, summonses were sent out for this parliament to meet in London on 20 January. These summonses were sent to bishops and abbots, with many more following on 24 December, covering a large number of abbots and priors, five earls and only eighteen barons – an indication perhaps of the government’s lack of support among the magnates. The summonses which were to make this parliament famous were also sent out on 24 December: each county was to send two knights; the citizens of York, Lincoln and unspecified other towns were each to send two citizens or burgesses; and the Cinque Ports were each to send four representatives. (Foedera, I, I, 449; Close Rolls 1264-68, 84-7, 89)

The court’s presence in Worcester was presumably responsible for a gesture aimed at undoing some of the damage done during the disorders early in the year. At the end of February, Robert de Ferrers, earl of Derby, had besieged and taken Worcester, sacking the city and destroying the Jewish quarter. Ferrers had seized the chest holding the charters recording debts to the Jews, and taken it to his castle at Tutbury. When lord Edward had captured Tutbury, he had broken open the chest and sent the charters to Bristol, which was held by the royalists. Edward’s clerks were ordered to hand over the charters to the chirographers of the Jews of Worcester, so that they could be replaced in the chest. This would allow the Jews once again to collect the debts they were owed, but it seems unlikely that Edward’s followers would obey such instructions, particularly as one of them was Warin of Bassingbourn, who had led the attempt to free Edward from captivity. (Close Rolls 1264-68, 82-3)

There were outbreaks of disorder in the south-west, where the government was trying to repress breaches of the peace, homicides, plundering and house-burning in Devon, Somerset and Dorset. Also in Devon, there was a further indication of the dominance of Simon de Montfort, and the personal advantages he was gaining. De Montfort was given custody of all the lands and holdings in Devon belonging to Richard of Cornwall, the king’s brother.(CPR 1258-66, 475; Foedera, I, I, 448) Henry de Montfort, as warden of the Cinque Ports, had been instructed to ensure the safety of wool and other goods belonging to foreign merchants. He was now ordered to move the merchandise to safer places. (CPR 1258-66, 393)

On 8 December, the archbishop of York and the bishops of London and Lincoln were instructed to hear the complaints of the clergy who had suffered injuries and damages due to plundering during the recent disorders, as provided by the prelates and nobles in London. The patent roll said that the bishops would arrange compensation for the clergy, which would be enforced by the justiciar, who would have a hundred or more knights and serjeants to distrain offenders.  According to the London chronicler Arnold fitz Thedmar, this tribunal was set up about the end of October, and given full powers by the king and barons to correct all the injuries done to the church since Easter 1263. Anyone who did not submit to the judgement of the bishops would be excommunicated. The bishops were also to collect the revenues of benefices held by foreigners. Three chronicles record that a church council was held about this time at Reading. This approved an appeal against the legate’s sentence of excommunication, which the bishops had refused to publish. (CPR 1258-66, 375, 393; Cronica Maiorum, 70; C&S, II, I, 699-700)

Sunday 2 March 1264: A grandson, and the sack of Worcester

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

Henry III received some good news this week: his first grandson had been born. Henry’s daughter Margaret, married to Alexander III of Scotland, had given birth to her first son, also Alexander, on 21 January. The news had been brought from Jedburgh to Rochester by Margaret’s cook, Robert de Huntingfeld, who was promised a generous reward of land worth £10 a year. Robert had to wait for this promise to be fulfilled. In November 1269, Henry granted a wardship to Peter de Arenges, with the condition that Peter should pay Robert his £10 a year.  Oddly, there was a liberate writ as late as May 1272, for payment of 10 marks to Robert, ‘of the king’s gift for his expenses homewards.’ (CPR 1258-66, 382; CPR 1266-72, 395; CLR 1267-72, 1933)

The other news was not so good. Henry travelled this week only from Canterbury to Rochester, but he did begin to take a more active role in government. Although the main body of the Chancery remained with earl Richard in Hereford, Henry issued writs from Rochester concerned with preparations for conflict. He ordered the authorities in York to support Robert de Neville; Neville had written to the king, warning of opposition in the north, and Henry now wanted him to take York castle, which John de Eyville was holding for the barons. Henry also took steps to strengthen his position in another part of the country. He granted Roger Leybourne not only a pardon for his participation in the disorders of the previous year, but also an undertaking that the king would support him against anyone who took action against him. Leybourne had joined the Marcher lords in 1263 in their attacks on the Savoyard bishop of Hereford, and the pillaging of royalists’ estates. Despite that, Henry was now offering to back Leybourne against claims for compensation. The victims in the disturbances had included prominent royalists like Peter of Savoy, John Mansel and Robert Walerand. There had also been attacks on church property. In January, Henry had said that he was ‘perturbed about the injuries, damages and violences lately committed.’ He had promised the archbishop of Canterbury that Leybourne and others would ‘make competent amends.’ The church and his closest allies might well have grievances against Leybourne, but now it was more important for Henry to ensure that he had the backing of this competent soldier and landowner in the south-east. (CFR 1263-64, no 77; CPR 1258-66, 378, 382-3)

The situation along the Severn became more violent with the intervention of Robert de Ferrers, earl of Derby. Ferrers seems to have had no principled commitment to the baronial cause, but he was strongly hostile to lord Edward. This resentment may have stemmed from competing claims to the Peverel inheritance, and from Edwards wardship of Ferrers lands between 1254 and 1257. Ferrers joined forces with Peter and Henry de Montfort, and besieged Worcester. After several assaults, they took the city on 29 February. According to the Worcester annals: ‘They plundered whatever they could find outside the church, together with the whole of the Jewry; they took and imprisoned some Jews, they killed others. Another account says that Ferrers destroyed the city and ruined the Jewish quarter.

Several years later, the Worcester eyre of 1275 recorded the cases of William Magge, who had murdered a man in Worcester, and of Robert son of Alexander, who committed a burglary and murdered a clerk in February 1263. Ferrers broke into Worcester gaol, released these two murderers, and took them away with him. This gives us an indication of the way in which Ferrers recruited his troops, and of their likely character. (J.R. Maddicott, Ferrers, Robert de, sixth earl of Derby, ODNB; Ann Mon, IV, 448-9; Flores Hist, II, 486-7; Worcester Eyre of 1275, nos 1270, 1284)

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.