Posts Tagged ‘St Martin le Grand’

Peter de Chauvent (Champvent)

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Dr Michael Ray writes….

In the blog for the week of 6 November to 12 November 1261, David Carpenter mentions the presence of the Savoyard Peter de Champvent.  Champvent had only just moved into the premier league of curiales.  He had witnessed his first royal charter on 23 May.

First noted in England in June 1252, the King paid ten marks for his expenses when Peter, ‘his dear squire’, was sick in London during that October.  His brother, the cleric William, arrived at about the same time.  Peter built a career in royal service and received rewards in the form of marriages and wardships as well as annual fees.  William too moved up, becoming Dean of St Martin le Grand in 1262 and being used on papal missions.  Peter was a Keeper of the King’s Arms when violence broke out in 1263 and served with the Lord Edward in the garrison of Windsor.  Spoils of war came to him in the form of lands granted to him together with his cousin Otto de Grandson who made his first appearance in England in 1265.   Otto’s father, Peter, had received a royal pension from Henry III  since 1245.  He was the brother of Henry de Champvent, the father of Peter de Champvent.  Henry’s father, Ebal, had divided his lands in the Pays de Vaud, now Switzerland, between his sons.  Peter de Grandson obtained the castle of Grandson on the shores of Lake Neuchâtel, whilst Henry was given Champvent which lies on the edge of the Jura, and where he began the castle which was later substantially built by Peter de Champvent.

Champvent Chateau

Whilst Peter de Champvent stayed close to Henry III, Otto de Grandson became part of the Lord Edward’s circle.  William de Champvent returned to Vaud where he was Bishop of Lausanne from 1273 until 1301.  (Peter’s younger brother, Otto, a notorious absentee cleric in England, became Bishop in turn in 1309).   Peter was made Constable and later Sheriff of Gloucester.   He journeyed with the King during his last months.  When the new King, Edward I, returned to England, Peter suffered something of an eclipse.  He had lost his Gloucester posts in 1273 and, although he had witnessed 65 charters for Henry III, he did not witness another royal charter for seven years.  But, by 1286, he was Steward of the royal household and was promoted to be Chamberlain in 1291.  He saw military service in Wales and Scotland including fighting at the battle of Falkirk and, in 1295, he was recorded in one entry as the King’s secretary.  When parliament met in 1299, Peter was summoned as a baron.  The last record emanating from his lifetime refers to his Scottish lands in 1302 but he died in 1303.

The Grandsons or Grandisons have left a rich legacy in England being commemorated by peerage titles, rings, ivories, an annual carol service, a book of pedigrees, paintings in Westminster Abbey, place and street names, and armorials in embroidery and stained glass.  The Champvents have disappeared but, this summer, in the beautiful church of Norbury in Derbyshire, I found the arms of both Peter de Champvent and Otto de Grandson in a marvellous array of late thirteenth-century glass.

Arms of Peter de Champvent in Norbury Church

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.