Posts Tagged ‘William of Axmouth’

Sunday 3 February 1264: the barons reject Louis IX’s verdict

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Following the announcement of the Mise of Amiens, Louis IX’s verdict on the dispute between Henry III and the barons, Henry remained in France. By 3 February he had travelled as far as Boulogne, where he borrowed 100 marks from the abbot of St Mary’s, to be repaid by 30 March. As usual, Henry was short of ready cash, but he had the promise of large sums to come from his friend Louis. Under the 1259 Treaty of Paris, Louis had agreed to pay the cost of 500 knights for two years. On 30 January, Henry and Louis agreed terms for payment of the remaining balance, equivalent to £14,500, a useful amount for a king facing renewed civil war.1

104-Ruins-of-the-Abbey-Church-at-Einsham-q75-500x431The Chancery staff must have been kept busy during the arbitration, and were duly rewarded: Henry’s Chancellor, John de Chishull, was to receive £20 in part payment of the expenses of himself and his staff while the king was abroad.2 Their colleagues at home still had relatively little to do, but the fine rolls did record the appointment of the king’s clerk William of Axmouth to administer another ecclesiastical vacancy, the abbey of Eynsham. As with the bishopric of Bath, mentioned two weeks ago, the king’s government might hope to receive a helpful sum from this vacancy, but William of Axmouth seems not to have accounted for any revenues he collected from Eynsham. There was a good reason for this. Nearly two years later, on 10 January 1266, William’s heirs and executors were pardoned of all his debts and accounts. This was explained more fully in the 1269 pipe roll: William had been entrusted with money for paying the wages of the knights and serjeants in the king’s service, but he did not have to account for this money because, while serving with the king at the battle of Lewes, he was so badly wounded that he died shortly afterwards. For his long and laudable service, the king forgave William and his heirs all the debts which he owed on the day he died.3

Of mise and men

Both the king and the barons had sworn to abide by Louis IX’s decision, as set out in the Mise of Amiens. The mise was wholly favourable to Henry III, but in this case, the referee’s decision was far from final. Walter of Guisborough wrote that the barons withdrew angrily, not wanting to obey an award in which one king decided wholly in favour of another king. The Cronica Maiorum says that the barons were not content with the king’s award, but immediately levied war on Roger Mortimer in the Marches of Wales; the Londoners, the barons of the Cinque Ports, and nearly all the middle class of people of the kingdom wholly rejected the king of France’s award, to which they had not been party.4 As we will see next week, hostilities did indeed resume almost immediately, and the mise was completely disregarded.

The generally royalist Thomas Wykes thought that Louis acted more hastily and much less wisely than he should have done. Other chroniclers, more or less sympathetic to the baronial cause, found various explanations for Louis’ utter rejection of the baronial case. The Tewkesbury annals, for example, blame queen Eleanor: the king of France was led astray by the serpentine deceit of a woman. The Dunstable annals say that Louis exceeded his powers at the urging of his wife and of the queen of England (who were sisters). It was true that Eleanor had been in France since September, and had no doubt been lobbying for the royal cause. A less credible version was provided by a later writer, John of Oxenedes, who alleged that Louis was corrupted by the receipt of money from Henry: we can be fairly sure that Henry, perennially short of funds, was not in a position to bribe his fellow-monarch.5

William Rishanger claimed that de Montfort and the barons rejected the mise, because they stood by the Provisions of Oxford, which were based on Magna Carta. John Maddicott says that Rishanger ‘as usual seems to have had access to sources close to Montfort.’ On the other hand, H.T. Riley, who edited Rishanger’s chronicle of Lewes and Evesham for the Rolls Series in 1876, described it ‘as a literary production, lame, disjointed, verbose, obscure, and, in places, almost unintelligible; … the singular obscurity of its style, its disjointed form, the badness of the writing, and the marvellous ignorance manifested by its scribe, detracting, to a very great extent, from the value which, if better executed, it might have possessed as an historical work.’ Which is hardly a recommendation from the editor.6

  1. CPR 1258-66, 379-80. Howell, Eleanor of Provence, 207.
  2. CLR 1260-67, 130.
  3. CFR 1263-64, nos. 69 and 70. E 159/40 rot. 10d. E 372/113 rot. 2. This pardon had evidently been forgotten when William’s debt from the bishopric of Bath was revived in 1325.
  4. Chronicle of Walter of Guisborough, 188. Cronica Maiorum, 61, and Riley’s translation, Chronicles of the Mayors, 64. The Cronica says that the barons were not contempti, which would mean something like ‘scornful’. Riley translates it as content, which makes sense of an otherwise baffling sentence.
  5. Ann Mon, IV, 139; Ann Mon, I, 177; Ann Mon, III, 227; Chronica Johannis de Oxenedes, 226.
  6. Ypodigma Neustriae, 509, xxxvii-xxxviii; Maddicott, Simon de Montfort, 261.