Posts Tagged ‘Roger Mortimer’

Sunday 31 August 1264: Flanders and Marchers

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Henry III’s court remained at Canterbury for another week. It clearly planned to remain there for some time: on 28 August, the sheriffs of London were ordered to transport 20 tuns of white wine to Canterbury, out of the stock of 60 tuns which the king’s butler had taken at Portsmouth. (CLR 1260-67, 141)

Henry’s government was still mainly concerned with the threats from France, the north, and the Marches. The authorities in Dover and the other ports were ordered to ensure that nobody crossed the Channel without the government’s permission. Such measures may have been intended to prevent contacts with regime’s enemies, or the papal legate, but they also hindered normal commerce. Margaret, countess of Flanders, wrote to Henry on 31 August, about the problems faced by Flemish merchants. Because peace had not yet been restored, they could not bring merchandise to Flanders safely and securely; she asked that they should be assured the same security as English merchants enjoyed in Flanders. (Close Rolls 1261-64, 359; Diplomatic Documents, I, no. 392)

There was yet another attempt to win over the northern royalists, like John and Eustace de Balliol, Peter de Brus, Robert Neville and Adam of Jesmond. They were again ordered to come to the king with horses and arms for the defence of the realm, but they were offered the reassurance that the bishop of Durham would conduct them to York. The bishop would then have to return to the north, to organize its defence. Safe conduct would then be provided by the abbot of St Mary’s, York, who would bring the royalists to the king. As before, these instructions were ignored. (CPR 1258-66, 343, 366)

Wigmore castle, the Mortimer family stronghold, as it appeared in the eighteenth century.

Wigmore castle, the Mortimer family stronghold, as it appeared in the eighteenth century.

Negotiations with the other major group of royalist opponents, the Marcher lords, had apparently been more successful. The Marchers sent negotiators to the king, and the negotiators were given safe conduct for their return journey to Wales on 24 August. They also carried letters instructing the Marchers to release the prisoners taken at Northampton and to hand over royal castles they occupied. On 25 August, the king ratified a peace agreement, made between the barons led by Simon de Montfort, and the Marchers. The Marcher leaders, Roger Mortimer and James of Audley, were each to hand over a son as hostage for the observance of the peace. (CPR 1258-66, 343-4, 366-7)

The papal legate, Guy Foulquois, sent another angry letter, this time to the English bishops. The bishops had written to him, under the seal of the bishop of London, defending the settlement made after the battle of Lewes, and denying that the king’s authority had been taken away by the governing council. The legate replied that the council were three new princes. The legate had heard the king of France say that he would rather break clods behind a plough than have this kind of rule. (Heidemann, register entries nos. 27-9)

Sunday 10 February 1264: preparing for war

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

While Henry III remained in northern France – by 10 February he had reached Wissant, the usual port for the Channel crossing – the news of the Mise of Amiens had led to a rapid resumption of hostilities in England. Rather than settling the dispute between king and barons, Louis IX’s total rejection of the barons’ arguments had removed the possibility of a compromise. As early as 4 February, lord Edward, Henry of Almain and earl Richard, who were then at Windsor, had heard that baronial forces were moving westward. They wrote to the sheriffs of Gloucestershire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire: they understood that certain barons planned to cross the Severn with horses and arms, to link up with Llywelyn ap Gruffudd and attack Roger Mortimer’s castles in the Marches; the sheriffs were to break down all the bridges across the Severn, except the bridge at Gloucester, which was to be closely guarded, and to destroy the ferries and block the fords. Roger Mortimer had earlier been instructed to meet Llywelyn on 10 February, to negotiate a truce, and he was sent further, unspecified, instructions for these negotiations on 7 February. This may have been an attempt to forestall the alliance of the barons and the Welsh against the king and his supporters in the Marches, particularly Mortimer. Earl Richard himself travelled westwards, reaching Oxford on 7 February and Worcester on 9 February.1

The background to this baronial incursion into the Marches was as much personal as political. In December, Henry had granted to Mortimer three manors in Herefordshire, which had earlier been assigned to Simon de Montfort. Mortimer had looted these manors, and held de Montfort’s bailiff captive until he paid a ransom of 100 marks. It appears that de Montfort had refrained from retaliating, while awaiting the news from Amiens. He now sent his sons Simon and Henry, with a great army, to avenge their father by attacking Mortimer’s castles and towns, which they wasted and burned.2

The disorders in the Marches had their impact on the normal activities of the civil service. Little routine business was conducted – the Calendar of the Fine Rolls records only three fines between 4 February and 5 March. The Exchequer audited the accounts of the sheriff of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire on 5 February, but that was the last audit for the year. Several more had been scheduled, but they were postponed, or simply didn’t happen. In some cases, this was directly attributable to the outbreak of hostilities. The audit for Surrey and Sussex, which should have happened on 5 February, was cancelled because the sheriff was in Wales. On 9 February, earl Richard told the Exchequer to postpone the Wiltshire audit, because the sheriff had to stay in Salisbury, to ensure the security of the castle. Eventually, the pipe roll for 1263 contained only nine sheriffs’ accounts, out of a potential 28.3

Something to look forward to

who_leeds

Like The Who, but slightly quieter, the International Medieval Congress will be live at Leeds University in July. For those interested in 1264, the undoubted highlight will be a series of three sessions on Thursday 10 July, on the theme The Battle of Lewes, 1264: Reflections on the 750th Anniversary. These sessions, organized by Sophie Ambler and Kathleen Neal, cover the religious and intellectual background, the military and political events, and some immediate consequences of the battle:

I. Ideas and Principles (session 1531), moderator Michael Clanchy

  • Felicity Hill, Papal Excommunication: A Threat to the Montfortian Regime, 1264-1265?
  • Jennifer Jahner, Veritasluxcaritascalor: Metaphysical Politics and The Song of Lewes
  • Sophie Ambler, The Role of Churchmen in the Montfortian Regime, 1264-1265

II. Conflict and Combatants (session 1631), moderator Kathleen Neal

  • Andrew M. Spencer, Brothers-in-Arms: Gilbert and Thomas de Clare in the Barons’ Wars
  • Adrian Jobson, Reluctant Commander: The Military Career of Richard of Cornwall
  • Fergus Oakes, The Scots at the Battle of Lewes

III. Context and Aftermath (session 1731), moderator Adrian Jobson

  • Tony Moore, Criminal Plundering or Legitimate Distraint?: Perspectives on the Montfortian Campaign of 1263
  • Beth Hartland, Lewes: Repercussions in Ireland
  • Richard Cassidy, Simon de Montfort’s Sheriffs, 1264-65
Live at Lewes

The Argus has published an article on the events planned for May this year, in and around the town of Lewes, to mark the 750th anniversary of the battle.

  1. CR 1261-64, 374, 334. CPR 1258-66, 306.
  2. Ann Mon, III, 226-7.
  3. E 159/38 m. 7, 14. CR 1261-64, 334. E 372/107.

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.

A Visit to the Mortimer History Society’s Conference

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

On Saturday 18 September David Carpenter and Paul Dryburgh attended the autumn conference of the Mortimer History Society (http://mortimerhistorysociety.org.uk/) in the suitably medieval setting of Ludlow in Shropshire. David gave a stimulating talk about Roger Mortimer (d. 1282) and his role in the political upheavals of the 1250s and 1260s, in which he brought a good deal of information mined from the Fine Rolls to bear. He highlighted the highly personal causes for political rebellion and reconciliation at that time, arguing that Mortimer’s guiding principle in the baronial conflict with Henry III was his desire to recover the valuable manor of Lechlade (Gloucs) and to safeguard his interests on the March against Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. This was followed by a fascinating micro-study of the lost medieval manor and deerpark of Tedstone Wafer (Herefs.) by Dr. Martin Toms, who demonstrated how a tiny border community was catapulted into the national spotlight by the activities of its lord, Roger Mortimer of Chirk (d. 1326).

Following a good lunch in Ludlow, David and Paul, who is Honorary President of the MHS, headed for Wigmore castle, one of the great fortresses on the Middle March and the principal Mortimer stronghold. There they rediscovered this wonderful ruin and mused both on whether more could not be made of it as an attraction for scholars and the general public and on its suitability as the location for an Arthurian tournament held in September 1329 by Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March. This was the occasion when Mortimer, lover of Isabella the queen mother, invited the king and court to sample his extravagant hospitality, and can perhaps be seen as part of his policy of self-aggrandisement locally and nationally. Paul’s main contribution to the day, however, was in buying some local cheese, ferrying Professor Carpenter safely to the station and in eating two cream teas!