Posts Tagged ‘wine’

More on Henry III’s sense of humour

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Readers of the Fine of the Month on Henry III’s sense of humour may be interested in two further communications about it.

It will be remembered that one of the ridiculous debts with which Henry saddled his clerk, Peter the Poitevin ran as follows.

Item, he owes the king 34 tuns of wine for the arrears of wines which he bought to the king’s use at Mussak where he dreamed he had seen the Emperor Otto.

In writing up the fine of the month,  I said I had been unable to identify Mussak. Nicholas Vincent now emails as follows: ‘Mussak, I suspect, is Moissac on the Tarn (dep. Tarn-et-Garonne), to the east of Agen and a major centre both for the wine trade and for mercantile activity.’

I have also remembered another example of Henry’s humour recorded in the Annals of Burton abbey. (Annales Monastici, i,  324).  The annalist tells how Henry’s envoys at the papal court entered into an ‘amicabilis altercatio sive risum’ about who was older, Pope Innocent IV or Henry III. When this was relayed to Henry, he sent a graceful letter back to Innocent saying that although he was older in years, the pope far exceeded him in grace and wisdom. The annalist does not give the actual text of Henry’s letter (which he may slightly have misunderstood) but he does preserve Innocent’s reply which observed how Henry had ‘mixed ludicrous with serious things’ in order to entertain him.  One might think Henry had little to laugh about given that Innocent was in the process of drawing him into the disastrous Sicilian affair. The annalist himself observed that the pope’s friendship was based  more on love of  money than any higher considerations.  In fact, however, Innocent was far less exacting when it came to Sicily than  at first appears. This will be the subject of a future ‘fine of the month’

Number Crunching the Fine Rolls (1242-1248)

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
Recently I’ve been adding up the sums given to the king as fines in the Fine Rolls for 1242-1248 to provide some statistics to go in the front matter of Volume 4 of CFR, and also on the website. Here’s a preview:
Total £233 6s. 8d.
Largest fine £133 6s. 8d.
Average fine £116 13s. 4d.
Total £678 6s. 8d. and 2 palfreys
Largest fine £667 6s. 8d.
Average fine £56 10s. 7d.
Total £587
Largest fine £100
Average fine £5 1s. 3d.
Total £3925 3s. 8d. and 6 palfreys
Largest fine £667 6s. 8d.
Average fine £16 19s. 10d.
Total £9145 13s. 4d. and 7 palfreys and 2 tuns of wine
Largest fine £667 6s. 8d.
Average fine £43 11s.
Total £12058 13s. 4d. and 6 palfreys and 1 palfrey worth 100s.
Largest fine £3,000
Average fine £59 2s. 3d.
Total £4715 3s. and 6 palfreys and 100 live rabbits
Largest fine £1333 6s. 8d.
Average fine £16 4s.
Total £3009 16s. 8d.
Largest fine £400
Average fine £10 14s. 4d.
Of course, like most statistics, these figures obscure as much as they show. For example, from this data it is hardly obvious that most fines were for considerably less than the average sums given here. Take roll C60/41. Of the 231 entries added together to arrive at the figure of £3925 3s. 8d. and 6 palfreys, 124 (or 54%) were fines for writs with an average value of 15s. 3d., and another 46 entries (20%) were fines for assizes of novel disseisin to be taken, with an average value of £1 1s. 9d. Far less than the overall average of £16 19s. 10d. If other stats on these particular rolls would be of use to readers of the blog, let me know.