Posts Tagged ‘wool’

Sunday 16 November 1264: marchers and merchants

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

The court moved to Windsor this week, but preparations continued for a further move, to Northampton. The sheriff of Cambridge was instructed to send 20 tuns of wine to Northampton, in readiness for the king’s arrival. The Dunstable annals record that the king, on the advice of the barons, sent letters to every county, summoning all those who owed military service to be ready with horses and arms at Northampton by 25 November. The government was evidently preparing to take on the marcher lords who had seized the castles of Gloucester, Bridgnorth and Marlborough, and sacked Hereford on 10 November. (CLR 1260-67, 147-8; Ann Mon, III, 234-5)

Wallingford castle

Wallingford castle

About this time, the royalists who held Bristol castle made a daring attempt to free lord Edward and Richard of Cornwall from captivity at Wallingford. Led by Warin of Bassingbourn, some 300 men dashed across southern England undetected, and surprised the garrison of Wallingford. The attackers breached the outer defences of the castle, but withdrew empty-handed when the defenders threatened to throw Edward out of the castle, using a mangonel. Simon de Montfort then had the royal hostages moved to greater safety, in his own castle of Kenilworth. (Robert of Gloucester, II, 751-2; Flores, II, 503)

While the court was at Windsor, the king and his advisors made a generous gesture, which seems rather extravagant at a time when cash was in short supply. The king’s master carpenter at Windsor castle, Ralph Burnel, had died in 1262. The post, with 3d. a day in wages, had then been granted to his son, Thomas Burnel. It was now recorded that Thomas was not a carpenter, and therefore could not fill the office; nevertheless, in recognition of his father’s long service, he was still to be paid 3d. a day, for life. (CPR 1258-66, 202, 387)

The countess of Flanders wrote again to Henry III, requesting that he ensure that Flemish merchants were protected in England, as English merchants were in Flanders. Henry was asked not to allow violence or injury to merchants, their goods or their ships, so that merchants could freely enter England, do business, and return to Flanders. (Diplomatic Documents, I, 271) A reason for the countess’s concern may be indicated by the chronicler Thomas Wykes. He was a royalist, perhaps connected to Richard of Cornwall, and tended to stress the failings of the de Montfort regime. He presents, in rather lurid terms, what must have been a real problem, with overseas trade disrupted by the preparations for defence against invasion. According to Wykes, the sailors of the Cinque Ports turned to piracy, patrolling the coasts, seizing any ships they came across, cutting the throats of those on board and throwing their bodies into the sea. As a result, there were shortages of imported goods. The price of wine went up from 40s. to 10 marks; a pound of pepper which was hardly worth 6d. was sold for 3s. In addition, Henry de Montfort seized all the wool which merchants were bringing to the ports, so that he was commonly called a wool-merchant rather than a knight. (Ann Mon, IV, 157-9)