Posts Tagged ‘siege’

Sunday 27 April 1264: Henry marches south

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

After celebrating Easter in Nottingham, Henry moved rapidly to counter the threat to Rochester. He had established his dominance of the Midlands, but did not want to lose one of his few strongholds in the south-east. On Monday 21 April, he was in Grantham, where he collected some more cash; the bailiffs of Derby paid into the Wardrobe £17 for the Easter term’s farm of their town. By the end of the week Henry was south of London.
With Henry on the move like this, there was evidently little opportunity for people to pay fines or for the Chancery to update the fine roll. Both the fine roll and the originalia roll peter out at the beginning of this week, with orders to appoint a new sheriff of Lincolnshire and to provision castles, particularly in the Midlands and north, ready for war. There are no more entries in the fine roll until July. (E 368/39 m. 1d; CLR 1260-67, 135; CFR 1263-64, nos. 108-114, 259-64)
Similarly, the patent roll has entries made at Grantham on Monday, then nothing until Saturday, when Henry was in Aylesbury. There are entries in the liberate roll on the same day showing that Henry had reached Kingston on Thames, while in the close roll there are entries made in Croydon. Henry was moving fast, circling around to the west and south of London, rather than confronting the city dominated by his opponents. (CPR 1258-66, 313-5; CLR 1260-67, 135-6; Close Rolls 1261-64, 342)

Trebuchet, from BL Egerton 3028

Trebuchet, from BL Egerton 3028

The approach of Henry’s army was enough to put an end to the siege of Rochester castle. Simon de Montfort and Gilbert de Clare had taken the town, but, after a week of siege operations with engines and mines, the keep still held out against them. The news of Henry’s arrival in the south-east, and the potential threat to the capital, caused them to abandon the siege and return to London on Saturday 26 April. According to the London annals, the mayor of the city, fearing the approach of Henry and lord Edward, asked de Montfort to return to London. Some poor Londoners, found in Rochester after the siege, had their hands and feet cut off or were put to the sword. (Flores, II, 490-1; London annals, 62; Ann Mon, IV, 147)
A marginal note in the Osney annals serves as a reminder that, as well as the major operations by the royal and baronial armies, there were continuing obscure episodes of local violence, mostly unrecorded: about 25 April, the barons burned many manors belonging to earl Richard, Philip Basset and others who were with king; and similarly the royalists set fire to the manors of the barons and those who were on their side. (Ann Mon, IV,146)

Sunday 20 April 1264: Easter in Nottingham

Saturday, April 19th, 2014
Nottingham Castle

Nottingham Castle

Henry III spent this week in Nottingham, consolidating his recent military successes and dealing with his enemies. He must have felt that he had inflicted a decisive blow on the rebels, and that he could enjoy his victory. He was joined in Nottingham by his supporters from the north – John Balliol, Robert de Brus, Peter de Brus and many other barons. They would be welcomed with suitable provisions for the Easter feast: the bailiffs of Lincoln, Newark, Grantham and elsewhere were ordered to send to Nottingham 40 fat cattle, 30 cattle, 140 sheep, 20 boars, 40 pigs, 500 hens, 600 chickens, 300 pigeons, 4,000 eggs, and 560 shillings-worth of bread. The end of the Lenten fast would clearly be celebrated in the traditional manner. Henry was also collecting cash, by having some £85 from the farm payments for Lincoln, Nottingham and Derby paid into the Wardrobe this week, rather than being delivered to the Treasury. The Wardrobe travelled with the king, so this would be cash which he could use for his immediate needs, particularly his military expenditure. (The bailiffs who provided food for the feast were not paid cash, of course. They would have to wait; they were told that the king would allow them the cost when their total expenditure was known.) (Flores, II, 488; Close Rolls 1261-64, 341-2; CLR 1260-67, 135)

Henry and Edward now seemed to have struck a decisive blow against the rebels. Within the last few weeks they had taken control of Gloucester, commanding the Severn crossing, and most of the Midlands, one of the two centres of baronial support. The barons still held London and Dover, but Henry had also sent forces to reinforce Rochester, on the road between them. The fine roll records Henry’s revenge on the opponents whom he appeared to have defeated. The king’s newly-appointed sheriffs of the Midlands counties were ordered to seize the lands of the king’s adversaries. Those listed include Simon de Montfort, Hugh Despenser, Henry of Hastings, Ralph Basset of Sapcote, Ralph Basset of Drayton, and so on. The sheriffs were also to take the lands of those who had opposed the king in Northampton, particularly Peter de Montfort and Simon de Montfort junior. The escheator for the north of England received similar orders for the lands of the rebels beyond the Trent. The magnates, bishops and abbots who had failed to obey the king’s summons to send troops were also to be punished by losing their estates (the king had already ordered the confiscation of the baronies of the archbishop of York, the bishops of Winchester, Ely, and Lincoln, and the abbots of Abingdon and Ramsey). Castles across England were to be stocked with supplies. (CFR 1263-64, nos. 101-8, 259-64; Close Rolls 1261-64, 382-3; CPR 1258-66, 313)

Simon de Montfort, as we saw last week, had failed to relieve Northampton and returned to London. Now, rather than directly countering the king’s successes in the Midlands, Simon turned south-east, towards Rochester. Henry had sent Roger of Leybourne and John de Warenne, earl of Surrey, to hold Rochester castle. Simon co-ordinated his attack on the town with Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester. De Clare, a great magnate, aged only 20, had only recently declared his support for the baronial cause. His forces, coming from Clare’s castle of Tonbridge, attacked from the south. De Montfort’s forces, coming from London, crossed the Medway into the town from Strood, to the west. The two baronial forces fought their way into the town on 18 April, and took the outer fortifications of the castle, but were unable to take the keep. (Ann Mon, III, 230-1, and IV, 146-7; Flores, 489-91)