Posts Tagged ‘Simon de Montfort’

Sunday 28 December 1264: Woodstock and Kenilworth

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

This week, Henry III’s court moved from Worcester to Woodstock, where the king celebrated Christmas. It would seem that the arrangements for the feast were more lavish than usual: the sheriff of Oxfordshire supplied 30 oxen, 100 sheep, five boars and nine dozen fowls; salted venison was brought from Wiltshire; salmon and lampreys were sent from Gloucester; six tuns of new wine were transported from Bristol, thirteen tuns from Northampton; and the bailiff of Woodstock provided charcoal and brushwood. In all, purchases for the feast amounted to £205, more than double what Henry had spent the year before. Christmas robes would be provided for lord Edward’s wife, Eleanor, and her household. While the king was at Woodstock, he also ordered repairs for the wall of the park and his chaplains’ chamber, as well as the planting of 100 pear saplings. (CLR 1260-67, 152-66; Wild, ‘A captive king’, TCE XIII, 49; Close Rolls 1264-68, 8)

At Woodstock, there was yet another attempt to order the northern royalists to come to the king, with the assurance that the northern leaders loyal to Simon de Montfort would not molest them; this was linked to the promise of discussions about the liberation of lord Edward, who would not be required as a hostage now that peace had been restored. At the same time, de Montfort was given still more power and privilege. Porchester castle was committed to him; lord Edward was said to have granted to him the county, castle and honour of Chester; and the earl of Derby was instructed to deliver the castle of the Peak to de Montfort. (CPR 1258-66, 397-8)

According to one chronicle, while Henry held Christmas solemnly at Woodstock, Simon de Montfort celebrated in his own castle of Kenilworth, surrounded by many knights. He was said to have at least 140 paid knights in his household (another chronicle gives the number as 160), with many more, devoted to him, who joined him when he went to war. Fortune smiled on everything he did, and the whole of England, apart from the far north, was subject to him. Everything in the kingdom was controlled by de Montfort, and the king could do nothing without his supervision. (Flores, II, 504; Rishanger, in Ypodigma Neustriae, 537)

The battle well, on the hill outside Evesham, the traditional site of Simon de Montfort’s death in battle, on 4 August 1265.

The battle well, on the hill outside Evesham, the traditional site of Simon de Montfort’s death in battle, on 4 August 1265.

Year’s end

This is where we have to leave the year 1264, with Simon de Montfort at the peak of his success. He ruled the country, having defeated the king’s army, deterred the threat of invasion, withstood the threats of the papal legate, and finally imposed peace on the barons of the Marches. The king was his puppet, the heir to the crown his hostage. Representatives of the nobility, church, counties and towns had been summoned to the parliament which would meet in January 1265, to endorse the new regime’s programme, as set out in the Provisions of Westminster. The events of Christmas week, however, show the weaknesses of this apparent triumph. The royalists of the north continued to disregard de Montfort’s instructions. Magnates like the earl of Derby were being pushed aside. De Montfort and his family were appearing increasingly greedy and arrogant, monopolizing power and the spoils of victory. De Montfort was making enemies, and when lord Edward escaped from captivity, he was soon able to assemble the army which would defeat de Montfort at Evesham in August 1265.

Sunday 15 June 1264

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

Monday 9 June was Whit Monday, the day of the procession by the villagers of Kibworth, in Leicestershire, to the church of Market Harborough, which David Carpenter wrote about in the September 2010 Fine of the Month. We know about this event from the pardon later granted to Wodard of Kibworth for the killing of William King in self-defence. It could be evidence of peasants’ awareness of the political struggle, and support for the cause of reform, only four weeks after the battle of Lewes.

During this week, the new government in London continued to try to impose its authority over the rest of the country, and to distribute some of the prizes of office. Leading royalists were repeatedly commanded to come to London, and the constable of Nottingham castle was ordered to release the prisoners whom the royalists had taken at Northampton. Gilbert de Clare was granted the wardenship of Boston fair, one of the main annual commercial events, where much of the business of the wool trade was transacted. He was also given custody of the estates of the émigré royalist, John de Warenne. (CPR 1258-66, 323, 325-6)

De Montfort and the Jews

The attitude of the de Montfort regime to the Jews seems particularly relevant this week. A letter to The Times on Tuesday (The Times, 10 June 2014, p. 29 – the online edition is only available to subscribers, apparently) accused Simon de Montfort of being ‘a notorious and rabid antisemite’. He certainly had a record suggesting hostility to Jews. De Montfort, as lord of Leicester, issued a charter in 1231-32, expelling the Jews from that city. His supporters, as we have seen in recent weeks, had been involved in attacks on the Jewish communities in Worcester, Canterbury and London. Two prominent rebels had been personally involved in these outrages. Robert Ferrers, earl of Derby, killed or imprisoned many Jews during the sack of Worcester, and later carried off the bonds recording Jewish loans to his castle of Tutbury; this was perhaps the action of a debtor. John fitz John led the pillage of the Jews of London, and himself murdered Kok son of Abraham. (Maddicott, Simon de Montfort, 15; Maddicott, ‘Ferrers’ and Carpenter ‘John’, ODNB)

The new government, on the other hand, was trying to restore some semblance of normality. On 2 June, several burgesses of Northampton were ordered to protect the Jewish community, who had fled to Northampton castle during the battle, and had not dared to leave it. The Jews should return to the town and live there, protected by the burgesses. Similarly, the mayor and sheriffs of London were instructed on 11 June to protect the Jews who had taken refuge in the Tower, and who should now be allowed to return to their homes in security. And on 14 June 1264, a group of citizens of Winchester were appointed as wardens of the Jews of Winchester; now that peace had been made, they were to proclaim, on behalf of the king and the barons, that the Jews should not be molested. These were not, of course, straightforward gestures of tolerance; as the royal letter to Northampton pointed out, while the Jews remained in the castle, the king was suffering no small loss. (CPR 1258-66, 323; Foedera, I, I, 441-3)

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.

1264: the blog begins

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014
Henry III versus Simon de Montfort, from the British Library manuscript Royal 16 G VI, Chroniques de France ou de St Denis, after 1332, before 1350

Henry III versus Simon de Montfort, from the British Library manuscript Royal 16 G VI, Chroniques de France ou de St Denis, after 1332, before 1350

This illustration from a French chronicle gives an attractively simplified view of the Barons’ War.  The reality was rather more complex than a mounted combat between Henry III and Simon de Montfort, picturesque as that might appear. This year, 2014, could be a good opportunity to take a closer look at events, week by week. The 750th anniversary of the battle of Lewes, and the other events of 1264, seem worth remembering, even if likely to be overshadowed by other anniversaries this year and next.

David Carpenter’s blogs for 1257 and 1261 showed how much material is available, in the fine rolls and other records of this period, to build up a detailed account. Those years were chosen because their calendars largely coincided with the years when the blogs appeared. Of course, 1264 was a leap year, and 2014 isn’t; but the calendars do align from 1 March onwards, with Easter day falling on 20 April in both years. And 1264 should provide plenty of material for a blog: Louis IX of France’s attempt at mediation, in the mise of Amiens; the drift towards all-out war; the initial royal success at Northampton; de Montfort’s victory at Lewes, and the captivity of the king; the queen massing an invasion force in France, and the popular response in defence of England’s shores; a new constitution, establishing rule by a small council, with the king as a figurehead; the papal legate’s attempts to intervene; and the war in the Welsh Marches, ending with the marchers’ submission and agreement to go into exile.

Comments and corrections would be welcome. Contributions on any aspect of the year would be even more welcome. In the absence of volunteers, arms will be twisted …

 

MParis heading

When the year began, king Henry was in France, or on his way there.1 Henry was heading for Amiens, where Louis IX was to consider the submissions of the king and his baronial opponents, and deliver his judgment on their conflicting claims. Queen Eleanor was already in France, having stayed there after Henry’s previous meeting with Louis IX in September-October 1263. There was also a group of royalist exiles in France, including the king’s influential counsellor John Mansel, who were alleged to be lobbying for French support against the baronial party. Henry had left his brother Richard of Cornwall in charge of the government in England, and it was Richard who attested the relatively few letters patent issued in England in January and February 1264. According to one chronicle, the lord Edward collected a large army after Christmas, and devoted himself to plunder and arson; but according to another, he accompanied his father to France.2

Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, recognized as the leader of the baronial movement, should have been travelling to Amiens too. He had set out from his castle at Kenilworth, and had only reached Catesby, Northamptonshire, when his horse fell. De Montfort’s leg was broken, and he had to return to Kenilworth.3

The arbitration at Amiens had been agreed late in 1263, as part of an uneasy, and widely disregarded, truce. After a year of varying fortunes, neither side could claim victory, or even a clear chance of victory. Henry had the support of most of the magnates, and had won over the lords of the Welsh Marches. One of their leaders, Roger Mortimer, had been granted de Montfort’s three manors in Herefordshire, where fighting and looting continued.4 At the end of December, the marchers had been instructed to seek a truce with Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the Welsh leader who had led a successful revolt against English domination.5 Henry had resumed control of the machinery of central government, but the loyalty of the counties was less secure. On 20 December, Henry sent a propaganda letter to all the counties, denying that he had tried to bring foreigners into the country, and pledging that he would always keep his oath made at Oxford – that is, to observe the provisions for good government; a few days later, he had appointed keepers in 22 counties, with a military role distinct from the sheriffs’ administrative functions, apparently preparing for conflict.6

Henry’s opponents could rely on the city of London, run by a populist mayor who had overthrown the old city hierarchy. The Londoners had saved de Montfort from being trapped by Henry’s forces outside London on 11 December. The baronial party also held Dover castle, and thus commanded the main route into England from the Continent. Early in December, Henry had been refused entry to the castle, by a custodian loyal to the baronial council. Many of the bishops also backed reform, but the Pope had appointed a legate, Guy Foulquois, with instructions explicitly hostile to de Montfort.

Such was the situation as the year began.

  1. The classic account of this period, R.F. Treharne’s The Baronial Plan of Reform, says on p. 337 that Henry crossed to France on 27 December 1263, and on p. 387 that Henry was at Dover on 1 January 1264. The first date derives from Thomas Wykes’ chronicle, Annales Monastici [Ann Mon] IV, 139, the second from Chancery records (CPR 1258-66, 376). Unfortunately, Treharne’s work ends in January 1264, and his promised second volume, The Barons’ War, 1264-68, never appeared.
  2. Chronicle of Bury St Edmunds, 28; Ann Mon III, 227. Michael Prestwich, Edward I, 41, is clear: ‘Edward accompanied his father to Amiens for the negotiations.’
  3. Ann Mon, III, 227.
  4. Ann Mon, III, 226.
  5. Close Rolls 1261-64, 373.
  6. CPR 1258-66, 357-8.

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 25 November to Saturday 8 December 1257

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

King Henry remained at Guildford until around 26 November and then returned to Westminster, where he was to remain till early January. Henry had intended during this time to visit his castle at Marlborough, and then to celebrate Christmas at Winchester, as he often did.  Urgent business, however, as he explained, kept him instead at Westminster. He was anxiously awaiting the return of envoys sent to the pope. Would they bring news that the Holy Father had modified the terms of the Sicilian business so that it could be pursued with some hope of success?  Henry was also arranging the despatch of a high powered delegation (including Simon de Montfort) to the king of France in the hope of advancing the peace negotiations and thus making it all the more possible to concentrate on Sicily. And then too  Henry was becoming  worried about events in Scotland, where  the young King Alexander was married to his daughter.  Would Henry have to go north, as he had in 1255, to rescue the royal couple from their enemies?

It must have been a relief for Henry to turn from these great matters to the comforting business of the fine rolls. During these two week, around twenty four people came to court to purchase the writs to initiate or further common law legal actions. Henry’s justice remained in demand.  One item on the rolls particularly stands out and will be commented on here. It bears on both the administrative processes and rituals of Henry’s kingship. It also shows how difficult it can be to capture the sense of an entry when translating it from Latin into English.

The entry is no.105 in the translation (forty-four entries down in the image) and appears as follows.

105

6 Dec. Westminster. For the burgesses of Bridgnorth. On Tuesday next after St. Andrew the Apostle in the forty-second year, the burgesses of Bridgnorth paid 25 m. in the king’s Wardrobe to Peter de Rivallis, keeper of the same Wardrobe, which remained to be rendered of the fine of 50 m. which they made with him a short while ago for having liberties, and, on the aforesaid day, they paid into the same Wardrobe the 10 m. which they had promised for their good coming to the king when he had last been at Bridgnorth. Order to the sheriff of Shropshire to cause the same burgesses to be quit from the aforesaid 35 m.

This entry is not in the originalia roll.

The feast of Andrew the Apostle was 30 November and the following Tuesday in 1258, when the payment was made into the wardrobe, was 4 December. The 6 December date at the head of the translation is that of the writ to the sheriff of Shropshire referred to at the end of the entry. Throughout the fine rolls it is these writs to  officials which actually give the dates to the entries.   The fine of 50 marks, which the burgesses made with the king, is not recorded on the fine rolls. It may be that the full way it was now recorded  was to make up for that lack. The fine was evidently made on 21-22 September 1257 when Henry passed through Bridgnorth on his way home from his campaign in Wales.  A couple of days later, now at Worcester, Henry issued a letter patent granting the ‘bailiffs and good men’ of Bridgnorth the right to take ‘murage’ for another three years, ‘murage’ being a toll whose revenues were devoted to works on the walls of the town. Perhaps this was the concession for which the men offered the king 50 marks, or  perhaps there were other ‘liberties’, building on an earlier charter of 1227, of which there seem to be no record.

From the administrative point of view, what is interesting is the way the whole business of the Bridgnorth debt was controlled by the wardrobe and chancery, travelling with the king, rather than, as would have been normal,  by the exchequer at Westminster.  At the end of the entry there is the statement,  provided by the editors of the fine roll,  ‘This entry is not in the originalia roll’. This means that no information about the fine and its payment was  sent to the exchequer, the originalia roll being the copy of the fine  roll despatched to the exchequer so that it knew what money to collect. As a result there is no entry for this debt on the pipe roll, the exchequer’s annual audit of  the money it was demanding for the  crown.  Instead, the only record of the existence  of the debt (apart from that on the wardrobe receipt roll) was that given here on the fine roll.   It is likewise the chancery writ, not the exchequer, which tells the sheriff that the burgesses are quit. The handling of the Bridgnorth debt was typical of many other debts at this time. Large numbers of fines between 1255 and 1257 – for  example for town liberties (as here)  and exemption from knighthood – were treated in the same way. There was no ‘constitutional’ reason for Henry bypassing the exchequer. Under its treasurer, Philip Lovel,  it was never less than under his  control.  The point was that Henry just got his money in more quickly and simply if he had such fines paid in directly to his wardrobe. Nonetheless the reformers in 1258 thought the king’s finances would be run  more responsibly if all the revenues were routed through the exchequer, a subject discussed in Richard Cassidy’s fine of the month .

The great majority of the fines paid into the wardrobe were in gold, or were in silver earmarked to buy gold, and were thus part of Henry’s campaign to build up a gold treasure to fund his Sicilian army. Another reason for making this a wardrobe treasure was that Henry could see the gold accumulating  before his eyes.  What a joy it must have been. By the autumn of 1257, however, as we have seen in previous blogs, the enterprise was beginning  to falter. Henry was having to spend his gold treasure, minting his wonderful gold penny in order to do so. The fact that the Bridgnorth fine was not in gold, or in silver earmarked to buy gold, may reflect this situation.  Henry had not quite given up, however, and these two weeks see two more fines of gold (nos.97, 102).

During the king’s visit in September 1257, the burgesses of Bridgnorth did not merely offer 50 mark for liberties. They also promised 10 marks ‘for their good coming to the king’. The Latin here, as one can see from the image, is ‘pro bono adventuo suo’. When the final checked and corrected version of the translation is put up, this passage will be altered since the ‘good coming’ is that of the king, not the burgesses. They are offering 10 marks ‘for his good coming’.  But does ‘good coming’, or ‘good arrival’ or ‘good advent’ quite capture the sense of what is happening?  At the very least, it sounds odd in modern English, and is another reason why we hope to provide the project with glossary.   What, of course, the burgesses were  giving, or in this case, promising Henry was a welcome present, one which demonstrated their loyalty, affection, and joy at his arrival. The present was designed to make his arrival ‘good’ for him, and also (in the benefits which might flow) ‘good’ for them.  In some circumstances, for example when the king was returning from overseas, there might also, wrapped up in the ‘good’, be joy at the king’s ‘safe’ arrival, and perhaps there was an element of that here too, given the hazards of the recent campaign in Wales.  Normally, we have no record of such gifts, because they were paid cash down into the wardrobe. It is only here, because the burgesses had exhausted (or so they must have said), their ready money in coming up with the initial 25 marks for their liberties, that we know about it. Such gifts, of course, in cash or precious  objects, were integral to Henry’s kingship, as they were to that of other kings. They were made, as here, by individual towns and, on a much grander and more organized scale, by the assembled great and good of the realm, on the king’s arrival back in his kingdom. They were also accompanied by other rituals, notably welcome processions of a town’s clergy and people. When the king rode up from Windsor to Westminster,  the custom was for the mayor and citizens of London to go out and meet him at Knightsbridge. They knew they were out of favour when he refused to meet them.

In such arrivals, the giving was not all one way. Quite the reverse. Henry himself might mark his coming by feeding paupers over and above his standard 100 a day, or 150 a day if the queen was with him, as she was at Bridgnorth.  He would also visit the religious establishments of the town and shower them with gifts.  At Bridgnorth, Henry  gave nine  ‘good oaks’ for work on the churches of the  Franciscan friars and  the hospital of Saint John, and another five good oaks to the canons of Bridgnorth chapel for the  repair of their chancel and stalls. His visit also brought other work to the town. On 21 September, probably the day of his arrival, he ordered  his chamber in the castle and that of the queen to be wainscoted, while the queen’s chamber was also to have  new windows and a fireplace.  On 25 September, having left Bridgnorth and arrived at Worcester, Henry ordered ten oaks to be sent to ‘the upstanding men of Bridgnorth’, as a ‘gift of the king’, to help with repairing the town gates. The visit, therefore,  had been a success. Henry’s ‘good oaks’, he doubtless hoped, would  be a perpetual memory to his piety and generosity in Bridgnorth and his concern for the security of this royal town.

The kind of ‘good arrival’, we glimpse here at Bridgnorth, must have been repeated thousands of times over during Henry’s reign. Such reciprocal rituals could  bind king and realm together.  But it did not always work like that.  Accounts in chroniclers make very plain that donors sometimes resented having to give such presents, just as the king resented it if he deemed the presents inadequate. The ritual could set apart as well as bring together. Were the men of Bridgnorth themselves disappointed that they had to pay for their ‘liberties’, especially if these were simply for the right to levy ‘murage’,  which they might have expected anyway, given  the threat from Llywelyn.  Did they also look askance at what they saw of Henry’ court?  The keeper of the wardrobe to whom they gave their money, both at Bridgnorth and Westminster, was Peter des Rivallis, one of Henry’s most notorious Poitevin servants, who was to be dismissed by the reformers in 1258.

 

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 4 November to Saturday 10 November 1257

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Henry’s itinerary for this week is revealed in the dating clauses of the writs enrolled on the fine rolls.

Henry began the week at Westminster and then went to Windsor.  In the fine roll business, one item stands out. This is the fine  (37 down in the above image and no.37 in the translation)  made by the baron, Peter de Maulay, lord of Doncaster and other lands in Yorkshire. Peter offered 60 marks (so £40) to be pardoned Henry’s indignation and rancour. He had incurred this through failing  either to muster personally or to send his due quota of knights to the king’s recent expedition to Wales. As a result, the sheriff of Yorkshire had been ordered to take his lands into the king’s hands. These were now to be restored to him.  Henry was arguably well within his rights in seizing Peter’s lands. After all,  Peter had failed in the most basic obligation of a baron, namely to provide the military service due from his barony.  It would be interesting to know, however, whether the seizure was ordered after some kind of ‘judgement by peers’ had been given against Peter. After all, Magna Carta had laid down that no one was to be disseised save by ‘the lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land’.  If there was no judgement, was Henry covered by the ‘law of the land’, which might be thought to sanction seizure when there was so blatant and basic a failure to fulfil  obligations?  The episode shows the power of Henry’s kingship when he chose to exercise it, for Peter was brought to heel and forced to offer his fine of 60 marks. On the other hand, the amount was hardly very large and one can imagine King John being far more punitive.  Henry himself,  admittedly for very different offences, had been far more punitive himself  in his treatment, at this time,  of John de Balliol and Robert de Ros for which see the fine of the month for last August.

This was not the first time Peter de Maulay had been in trouble with the king.  In January 1254, while in Gascony, Henry had sent a furious letter home to the queen, his regent in England (Close Rolls 12534, p.295). This complained that Peter had come out to Gascony late, and then done more harm than good. Indeed, he had insulted the king to his face, and tried to undermined the allegiance of  ‘the faithful men of England’  by persuading them to return home. Having, nonetheless, been placed in charge of fifty knights,  forming the king’s body guard, Peter  had gone off  without leave, placing the king in great peril. The queen and the home government were, therefore, ordered to ‘pay him back as you think expedient’. Given the depth of Henry’s anger, this seems a fairly mind form of punishment, and perhaps voices were already being raised on Peter’s behalf.  In the event, the letter was not sent, and Peter was soon back in favour. The storm in 1257 seems similarly to have passed away. Peter remained loyal during the subsequent civil war.  There are signs he was in financial difficulties, which perhaps explain why, in November 1258, he leased Doncaster and other properties for ten years to Simon de Montfort (Cal.Patent Rolls 1258-66, p.5)  Perhaps  Peter did not find  the great earl an altogether congenial tenant.

Peter de Maulay’s father, Peter de Maulay I,  had been one of King John’s most notorious foreign imports.  The reputed murderer of Arthur, his marriage to the Doncaster heiress had been one of the episodes which lay behind Magna Carta’s stipulation that heirs should not be ‘disparaged’ by being married to someone of a lower social class.  Henry III’s allegation that Peter de Maulay II, in Gascony, had tried to undermine the allegiance of the ‘fideles Angliae’,  suggests that he was now fully accepted as one of their number. Peter de Maulays were to continue, one after the other, as lords of Doncaster all the way down to 1438. A great deal about Peter de  Maulay I, may be found in N. Vincent’s Peter des Roches and D.A. Carpenter’s Minority of Henry III.

About another person making a fine  this week, much is known, although we are now at the level not of the baronage, but of the country gentry. Again, as in so much else, there is a Magna Carta angle. In the fine 27 down in the above image, and 27 in the translation, Thomas de Hotot offered one mark of gold (worth 10 marks of silver) to be exempted from assizes, which meant essentially he did not have to appear on juries. Thomas was lord of Clopton in Northamptonshire, and other properties, many of them acquired by his father Richard. It was Thomas who put together and partly wrote a fascinating register which contains  a family history,  surveys of  land, and records of  acquisitions. The register shows how politically aware were gentry lords for it also contained a text of the 1225 Magna Carta and the 1217 charter of the forest, as well as the charters in which King John made the kingdom a papal fief. The register is printed in A Northamptonshire Miscellany, ed. E. King (Northamptonshire Record society, xxxii, 1983).  The fine itself to be exempted from juries adds a little to our picture of Thomas’s world.  He had to come (or send) twice to court in connection with it.  The initial fine was made on 4 November 1257 at Westminster, while payment, (as a note  added to the fine shows)  was made to Peter de Rivallis, keeper of the wardrobe, at Windsor in the following January. It is a testimony to the business sense we see in the register, that Thomas paid in the whole of the one mark of gold in January, although only half was due then, the other half being due at Easter.

Thomas’s fine of gold shows that Henry was still trying to build up a gold treasure to finance the army which would help him conquer Sicily, a vain ambition if ever there was one, for which see the fine of the month for February 2012.

The ambition had recently become even vainer  because, while Henry was still receiving gold for his treasure, he was also spending it at a far quicker rate.  He had no alternative given his financial problems.  In order to spend it, Henry came up with a brilliant idea or so he thought. He would turn his treasure into his own gold coinage, the first minted in England since the Norman Conquest. The gold coin weighed two silver pennies,  and thus was worth twenty pence of silver. Unfortunately, the new coinage proved extremely unpopular.  In response, on Sunday 4 November, Henry summoned the mayor and citizens of London to come before him at the exchequer. He charged them on their allegiance to say if the new coinage was ‘of value for the common benefit of the kingdom or not’. The answer was that it was not!  This was partly because it was irrelevant for poor people whose total wealth was not worth one gold penny. It was also because (and here the goldsmith lobby spoke) because the sudden appearance of so much gold, as the king broke into his treasure to pay his expenses, was bringing down the value of the metal.  Henry, defiant, said he still wished the coinage to run, but it was not a success, which is why so few of his gold coins survive, making it the most valuable British coin at auction. The penny shows Henry sitting elegantly on his throne, crowned and holding orb and sceptre. As so often in Henry’s kingship, there was a glaring contrast between image and reality.

For an image of one of the coins, click here.

 

 

 

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 24 June to Saturday 7 July 1257

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

The fine rolls in these two weeks reveal Henry III’s itinerary. On 25 June, he was at Windsor, on 30 June at Reading and by 11 July at Woodstock, where (as other evidence shows) he had arrived on 3 July. For the membrane covering this period, click here.

Henry was, of course, on his way to Wales to lead a campaign against Llywelyn. He was now brought face to face with the impact this must have on his finances. On  25 June, the goldsmith, William of Gloucester  was ordered to send Henry, out of the silver  earmarked for the purchase of gold, 1000 marks now needed for the expenses of the household and the forthcoming campaign. So Henry was  having to break into the money set aside for acquiring the great treasure of gold needed to finance the army which would conquer Sicily.  The fine roll business on this front was equally depressing, for it showed all too clearly that Henry’s various expedients to extract fines of gold, and thus build up the gold treasure,  had run their course. In these weeks, not a single fine of gold was received. Given this situation,  Henry might have concluded that the Sicilian business should be brought to an end. That was not  his conclusion.  In late June,  Henry did send Simon de Montfort and Peter of Savoy on an important diplomatic mission.  They were to go first to king of France and continue the negotiations for a comprehensive peace. They were then to go on to the pope, having full power to renounce the Sicilian  throne.  In case, however,  they did not go to Rome, Henry (acting on the advice of the papal chaplain Rostand) set out detailed instructions for those who might go in their stead. These, in extraordinary, indeed excruciating detail, covered almost every conceivable way (none of them very practical) in which the pope might alleviate the current terms and thus enable Henry to prosecute the  project with some hope of success.  It appears all too clearly this is what Henry really wanted. The threat to renounce the whole business appears as no more than a bargaining device.

Away from these diplomatic fantasies, the fine rolls in these weeks give a fascinating insight into many aspects of English life.  Last week we say how there was a drop in the number of people coming to court to purchase the writs needed to initiate and further actions according to the common law. The numbers now recover. Between 25 June and 11 July, a three week period, thirty-six such writs were purchased. Clearly people were not put off by the king’s journey from Westminster to Woodstock.

 One  fine in this period (no.819 in the translation)  made on 30 June at  Reading, shows the property rights of women.  William of [East] Carlton in Norfolk had died leaving no sons and four daughters. These now became the heirs of his property,  which shows that this was a  society where women could inherit. Their rights were not, however, on a par with those of men in several ways. Firstly, a daughter only inherited if she had no brother. Secondly, whereas the eldest inheriting male would have all the inheritance,  this was not the case with the eldest inheriting female. Rather, if she had sisters,  the inheritance was split between them.  Thus in the Carlton case, all four daughters, Alice, Isabella, Agnes and Matilda, shared their father’s inheritance.  The marital state of the sisters was different, however, which makes another important point about the law with regard to women. In the case of the married sisters, Alice and Isabella, it was their husbands who did homage to the king, and had control of the lands. The unmarried sisters, however, Agnes and Matilda, did homage and controlled their land for themselves. Were they widows, or is this a rare example of inheriting spinsters? Fortunately, other information provides the answer to that question, which will be given in a future fine of the month.  One detail it reveals is that the bulk of the Carlton property was held by the service of carrying a hundred herrings in pies from the burgesses of Norwich to the king!

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 17 June to Saturday 23 June 1257

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

On Thursday 21 June, at Westminster, Henry III ordered ‘a certain standard of red cendal and gold brocade’ to be offered at the shrine of Edward the Confessor in the Abbey ‘as is customary  when he is about to go on campaign’. The same day Henry left Westminster. He was setting out on a slow journey to Chester where he had ordered his military forces to rendezvous.  At last Henry had decided to do something about the rebellion, as he would have seen it, of the ruler of Gwynedd, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd.

In the previous winter Llywelyn had overrun Henry’s ‘conquests’ as he called them in North Wales between the Conwy and the Dee, leaving only the new castles of Deganwy and Disserth holding out. In the spring he had defeated the native rulers of Powys, who were Henry’s allies.  For Henry, all this was an unwelcome distraction.  He had tried to conciliate Llywelyn.  Alternatively, he had hoped that Edward, his son and heir, and now the ruler of the crown’s dominions in Wales,  could sort thing out. Henry’s eyes were set on quite other things. There were the negotiations with France for a permanent peace. In this week, on 22 June, now at Windsor, Henry  had given full power to his envoys the bishop of Worcester and Hugh Bigod, counselled by Simon de Montfort and Peter of Savoy, to agree a peace. Three days later, Henry ordered a ship to be found for them all to cross at Dover. And with peace, and with his brother, Richard of Cornwall now installed as king of Germany (Henry was careful to keep him informed of the negotiations), might not the Sicilian project take on a new lease of life? The last thing Henry wanted now was to have to dig into his hard saved gold treasure to finance a campaign in Wales.  But the massacre of English forces near Cardigan at the start of June had given him no alternative. 

The fine rolls in this week have  eleven entries, all about the purchase of common law writs. It will be fascinating to see how business is affected by Henry’s journey and military campaign in Wales. 

For the membrane covering this week where one can see Henry’s move from Westminster to Windsor, click here.

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 3 June to Saturday 16 June 1257

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

King Henry III spent these two weeks at Westminster. He had, so Matthew Paris tells us, fallen ill.  He continued to grieve over  the death of his daughter Katherine, and he was anxious about Queen Eleanor, who lying sick at Windsor.  There were also, so  Paris thought,  two political problems which depressed Henry’s health. One was the state of the Sicilian project, which seemed to be existing on borrowed time, given that the deadline for paying all the money owed the pope and despatching an army to Italy had expired the previous Michaelmas. Henry, as we have seen in earlier blogs, had thought of pulling out altogether but had then unwisely decided to continue. In these weeks, there were earnest discussions about sending Peter of Savoy, Simon de Montfort and the bishop of Worcester (all now present at court), on an important diplomatic mission. They were to go first to France to push on the negotiations for a permanent peace, and then proceed to the papal court to seek alleviation of the Sicilian terms.  On 15 June Henry took out a huge loan of 20,000 marks (£13,333) from Florentine merchants, half of which was to support his envoys at the papal court.

The other political problem centred on the situation in Wales.  What had previously been a distraction  had now become a disaster. Earlier in the year the ruler of Gwynedd, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, had attacked Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn and Gruffudd of Bromfield, the native rulers of Powys and Henry’s allies. On 16 June Henry granted them lands in England as compensation for their losses.  Up till now, however, Henry had hoped that Edward, his son and heir, as lord of Chester, and the royal lands in Wales, would be able to deal with the situation himself. This was no longer the case. On Saturday 2 June a substantial force, commanded by  Edward’s lieutenant, the  trusted knight, Stephen Bauzan, was massacred in South Wales. On 18 June Henry made a concession to Stephen’s widow.  He also began to contemplate summoning an army and  going to  Wales himself.

The fine roll business in these two weeks is interesting, although it can have given Henry little comfort. The fines  of gold from which he hoped to amass his gold treasure to fund his Sicilian army, were still coming in, but hardly at a pace to alter the  situation. Henry had no reserves to speak of,  as the great Florentine loan taken out this week showed.  At least the king’s justice was in demand. Indeed in these two weeks no less than 54 writs were purchased to initiate or further legal actions according to the common law. 

For the membrane covering this week, click here.

What was going to happen in Wales? Would Henry have to go there? What would the effect be on fine rolls business? Read future blogs to find out!

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 20 May to Sunday 27 May 1257

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Henry spent all this week at Westminster. He was preparing for the great feast of Pentecost on Sunday 28 May. To join in the celebrations, he was joined during the week by Walter de Cantilupe, bishop of Worcester, Peter of Savoy, Simon de Montfort earl of Leicester and Richard de Clare earl of Gloucester. Both Savoy and Montfort used their presence to  secure concessions from the king.  Montfort’s was a writ to the  exchequer ordering it to pay him all of £500 for his losses while Henry’s seneschal in Gascony between 1248 and 1252, although, in the event, the order was cancelled as Montfort secured payment through an earlier writ.

The fine rolls for this week continue to record a good flow of judicial business. Some 18 writs were purchased to initiate or further common law legal actions. Another purchase seems more sinister. On 25 May, Henry accepted 20s from John son of Reginald of Rawcliffe in Yorkshire for a writ of grace which commanded the judge Roger of Thirkleby not to hear the assize being brought against him by the abbot of Selby for land in Rawcliffe. Was Henry here obstructing the judicial process, or are other interpretations possible?  Three fines this week to have cases brought before the court coram rege, the court which travelled with the king. One of these concerning land in Berkshire was to be held when the king was at Windsor, and another, concerning land in Wiltshire, when he was at Clarendon.  Litigants living in the west and the north of the country, which Henry rarely visited, were not, of course, able to have their cases heard on the spot in this way.

For the membrane covering this week, click here

Next week, the feast of Pentecost.