Posts Tagged ‘Welsh Marches’

Sunday 12 October 1264: an unusual delivery

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

The court and Simon de Montfort’s government were based in Canterbury until the end of this week. According to the London chronicler Arnold fitz Thedmar, the king returned to London on 11 October, two days before the feast of St Edward the Confessor, which was always an important date in Henry III’s calendar. The king would thus be able to celebrate the feast at the saint’s shrine in Westminster abbey. (Cronica Maiorum, 69)
The government continued its unavailing efforts to assert its authority over the northern royalists. Robert de Nevill was ordered to hand over York castle to the Montfortian sheriff of Yorkshire. Similarly, Adam of Jesmond was commanded to deliver the castle of Newcastle on Tyne to the sheriff of Northumberland. Nevill and Jesmond, together with John and Eustace de Balliol, Peter de Brus and other Northern barons, were yet again ordered to come to the king with horses and arms, to defend the realm against the threat of invasion. They were offered safe conduct until 28 October, but this offer was once more ignored.
The Marchers, led by Roger Mortimer and James of Audley, resumed hostilities by besieging Gilbert de Clare’s castle at Hanley in Worcestershire. De Montfort’s government initially responded by pointing out that this threatened any prospect of release for the royalist hostages it held, lord Edward and Henry of Almain. (CPR 1258-66, 373-5)

Knights in a ship, with a letter. From BL Royal 14 E III, first quarter of 14th century

Knights in a ship, with a letter. From BL Royal 14 E III, first quarter of 14th century

The bishops of London and Winchester, the baronial government’s representatives in talks with the papal legate, had asked for safe conduct to return to Wissant on 7 or 8 October, but did not appear. Instead, on 11 October, ‘a certain knight of the king of England’ sailed to Wissant, but did not land, throwing into the sea a small box full of letters to the legate. These included the texts of the peace of Canterbury and of the ordinance establishing the government of England by the baronial council, as well as letters formally rejecting the legate’s proposals. Negotiations were well and truly ended. (Heidemann, register, 45-6)

Sunday 20 July 1264: castles and cash

Sunday, July 20th, 2014
Pevensey castle in the 17th century, by Wenceslas Hollar

Pevensey castle in the 17th century, by Wenceslas Hollar

Simon de Montfort’s administration continued to issue orders intended to establish its authority over the country. Several royalist nobles and castellans, particularly in the north and the Welsh Marches, continued to ignore these instructions. Key castles were supposed to be delivered to loyal supporters of the new regime, including Corfe to Henry de Montfort, Oxford, Orford and Devizes to Hugh Despenser, and Nottingham initially to Simon de Montfort junior, then to the sheriff William fitz Herbert. The castle of Pevensey, where many royalists had fled after the battle of Lewes, was besieged by Simon de Monfort junior, around 20 July. The royalist garrison of Pevensey was offered safe conduct to go overseas, if they surrendered the castle to the sheriff, or to the king himself, but the siege was to continue for many months. The royalist northern magnates were yet again offered safe conduct to come to London, and assured that the Montfortian northerners had been instructed not to molest them. (CPR 1258-66, 335-7, 363; Close Rolls 1261-64, 399-401; Annales Londonienses, 64)

De Montfort’s first military priority was to establish control of the Welsh Marches. De Montfort and Gilbert de Clare went to the March, calling for the support of Shropshire, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire against the Marchers who had seized the king’s castles. A brief campaign resulted in the recovery of several castles, the devastation of Roger Mortimer’s lands, and another peace agreement. De Montfort then had to hurry back to Kent, to deal with the threat of invasion from Flanders by the mercenary forces which Queen Eleanor had assembled. (CPR 1258-66, 363; Flores Historiarum, II, 498-9)

There was an indication of the privileged position which Simon de Montfort was adopting: the ruling council had forbidden anyone to bear arms, or to go with horses and arms, as a peace-keeping measure, but de Montfort was given permission to do so, because of the hostages and prisoners he had. (CPR 1258-66, 337)

The government’s finances evidently continued to be precarious, with the royal household being supplied by hand-to-mouth expedients. The keepers of St Botulph’s fair were told that the king’s revenues from the fair should be used to cover purchases at the fair by the Wardrobe, and by the taker of the king’s wines. A few weeks later, on 8 August, there was a further emergency measure to cover purchases for the Wardrobe at the fair. The bailiffs of Lincoln, Grimsby, York and Caistor were told to pay the farms of their towns for the coming Michaelmas term to the Wardrobe’s buyers, “quia rex denarios ad presens non habet”. The sheriff of Lincolnshire was to ensure that 60 tuns of wine were transported from the fair to Canterbury. (Close Rolls 1261-64, 351, 353; CLR 1260-67, 140)

Sunday 13 July 1264: marchers, manors, and mines

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

The government continued to try to impose its authority over royalist magnates. The bishop of Worcester was sent to the March to offer safe conduct for a group of marcher lords such as Roger Mortimer to come to London. The royalists holding Pevensey castle, and the northern barons such as John Balliol and Adam of Jesmond, were also summoned to speak to the king. These overtures were fruitless, as usual. Gilbert de Clare continued to accumulate the spoils of backing the winning side. He was given custody of Peter of Savoy’s lands, including Richmond castle. On the other hand, Clare was instructed to hand over the manors of the bishop of Hereford which he had seized; the government had committed the bishopric to two canons of Hereford, in the absence of the royalist bishop, who had fled to France. The process of distributing the economic and strategic prizes of victory also included Devizes and Oxford castles for Hugh Despenser, Colchester castle for Nicholas Spigurnel, and Scarborough castle for Henry of Hastings. In some cases, the new castellans might find that the royalist incumbents were unwilling to hand over these strongholds. (CPR 1258-66, 332-6)

The government wrote in the king’s name to Louis of France on 6 and 10 July, pointing out that they still awaited a French response to the proposals for arbitration set out in the mise of Lewes. The letters included mentions of the royal hostages, lord Edward and Henry of Almain, presumably intended to spur Louis into action, but received no answer. (Close Rolls 1261-64, 389-91)

Government finance continued to have the air of improvization, although there was at last some sign of the Exchequer resuming activity. The barons of the Exchequer were told that Roger de Legh was managing Exchequer business, and would therefore be unable to continue as one of the wardens of the exchanges. Revenue from the exchanges was used to cover current expenditure, such as the building works at Westminster. The exchanges were also to provide the cash for the king’s alms for the monks of Pontigny – this cash usually came from the farm of Canterbury, but the 20 marks for the Easter payment had been “borrowed” from the bailiffs of Canterbury when the king and de Montfort were making their way though Kent after Lewes.  Other income, such as manorial revenues, seems to have been channelled through the Wardrobe. There is evidence of a search for income from an unusual source in a writ to the sheriff of Devon of 8 July. The king was sending Walter of Hamburg and other German miners to Devon to mine copper, silver, gold and lead. The sheriff was to pay their wages and expenses. (CLR 1260-67, 136-8; Close Rolls 1261-64, 349-50)

Welcome to the blog for the Henry III Fine Rolls Project, 1216-1272

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Welcome to the blog for the Henry III Fine Rolls Project.  We are delighted to announce the publication of our latest Fine of the Month, ‘Beyond respite: a case study in local power and authority during the minority of Henry III’ by Dr Colin Veach, an authority on the de Lacy family and their lands in England, Ireland and Normandy. In this essay, Colin shows how an entry in the Fine Rolls, in this case a mandate that granted Walter de Lacy respite from rendering his shrieval account for Herefordshire in 1219, can offer important insights into the crown’s weakness in the localities at this time, and into the damaging effect which the rivalries between the de Braose, de Burgh and de Lacy families had on royal authority in the Welsh Marches. This Fine of the Month will be of particular interest to those studying the history of the castles of Grosmont (Monmouthshire), Skenfrith (Monmouthshire) and Llantilio (Whitecastle, Monmouthshire), known collectively as the Three Castles.