Sunday 23 November 1264: two Eleanors

Posted on 23 November 2014 by Richard Cassidy

The court spent most of this week at Windsor, and at the end of the week began the planned move towards Northampton, reaching St Albans on 23 November.

Although the threat of invasion had largely dissipated, and the forces assembled by queen Eleanor had dispersed, the government continued to take precautions. The authorities in Winchelsea were instructed to continue guarding the Channel, and to prevent anyone crossing without permission. Any suspect arrivals from overseas were to be arrested and detained. It would appear that there was some justification for such measures: a ship belonging to the abbot of St Mary’s, Dublin, had been forced by rough seas to land at Yarmouth, Isle of Wight; the ship and its sailors were being held there because the bailiffs of the island had suspicions about a knight on the ship, who was being transported from Dieppe to Ireland with letters addressed to Irish magnates. (Close Rolls 1264-68, 80-1)

Preparations continued for further negotiations in France, with king Louis, the legate and queen Eleanor. The king of France’s envoys were expecting to meet an English delegation at Wissant, and escort them to the king. The French envoys were asked to wait, as the English negotiators were going with the court to meet lord Edward. The dean of Wells was then given safe conduct to go to France as an envoy. The dean was armed with a set of letters in king Henry’s name to Louis and the queen of France, queen Eleanor, Peter of Savoy, and the legate. Louis, Eleanor and Peter were asked to prevent the sale or alienation of royal rights and properties — a reference, presumably, to Eleanor’s attempts to raise money for her invasion force. The legate was asked to exercise mercy and kindness, rather than ecclesiastical coercion. The letter to Eleanor included a more personal opening paragraph, perhaps from the king himself rather than the council which spoke on his behalf: ‘Know that we and Edward our firstborn son are healthy and unharmed … we have firm hope of having secure and good peace in our kingdom, for which you may be cheerful and delighted.’ (CPR 1258-66, 388, 473-4; Foedera, I, I, 448)

Matthew Paris reports the death of William Marshal junior in 1231, showing his arms reversed. Marshal’s death left Eleanor a widow at the age of 16; she married Simon de Montfort in 1238.

Matthew Paris reports the death of William Marshal junior in 1231, showing his arms reversed. Marshal’s death left Eleanor a widow at the age of 16; she married Simon de Montfort in 1238. From BL Royal 14 C VII.

The government continued to pay special attention to the interests of the de Montfort family. Eleanor de Montfort had long complained that she had not received the full dower to which she was entitled, following the death of her first husband, William Marshal junior, earl of Pembroke. This dispute had helped to embitter relations between the de Montforts and Henry III. There was now to be an inquiry into Eleanor’s complaints against the king, by the bishops of Worcester and London, Hugh Despenser the justiciar, and Peter de Montfort. With such committed supporters of the regime to conduct the inquiry, its conclusions must have seemed rather predictable. (CPR 1258-66, 388-9; Wilkinson, Eleanor de Montfort, 106-7)

16 November 1264: marchers and merchants

Posted on 16 November 2014 by Richard Cassidy

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)

Sunday 9 November 1264: the Exchequer and Pevensey

Posted on 9 November 2014 by Richard Cassidy

The court spent this week at St Paul’s. There were plans to go to Northampton: the sheriff was ordered to repair the buildings of Northampton castle before the king’s arrival, as they were in danger of falling down. (CLR 1260-67, 147)

The Exchequer was operating relatively normally, having recovered from its closure in the spring of 1264, and at last had a permanent head. Roger de la Legh had been acting treasurer since November 1263, combining this post with being chancellor of the exchequer; he had been re-appointed acting treasurer by the baronial council at the beginning of Michaelmas term. On 3 November, the bishop of London and Hugh Despenser, the justiciar, presented to the barons of the Exchequer the new treasurer, Henry, prior of St Radegund’s (an abbey in Bradsole, Kent). Henry had previously held office between July and November 1263, when de Montfort was briefly in charge of the government, so may have been seen as a supporter of the baronial cause; he only remained in office until the summer of 1265, when the royalists returned to power. (E 368/39 m. 3d; Treharne, Baronial Plan, 330)

The normal business of the Exchequer was continuing. During this week, the accounts for Hampshire for 1263-64 were audited. The two sheriffs who had held office during the year owed £46, which they were to pay in January, together with a further £74 which they had not collected, but could collect. (E 368/39 m. 18-9) The Exchequer was also the site for the ceremony of the mayor of London taking his oath of office. Usually, this was a formality, but in 1263 the elected mayor, Thomas fitz Thomas, had not been admitted to office. Fitz Thomas was the populist mayor who had overthrown the traditional authority of the city magnates, represented by the aldermen. This year, the citizens of London came before the king, sitting in the Exchequer, and presented fitz Thomas as mayor; he was admitted and took the oath. (E 368/39 m. 2d, which confusingly calls the mayor Thomas fitz Richard; Cronica Maiorum, 70)

Although the threat of invasion had diminished, military operations continued against the royalists still resisting within England. Simon de Montfort junior was still besieging Pevensey castle, where royalists had held out since their escape there after the battle of Lewes. This was an expensive business, and Simon junior was to receive £800 from the bishop of Winchester, in part payment of his expenses. (CPR 1258-66, 386; CLR 1260-67, 145)

Sunday 2 November 1264: a new year

Posted on 2 November 2014 by Richard Cassidy

A new regnal year began on 28 October, the 49th year of Henry III’s reign. As usual, the Chancery marked the new year by beginning a new set of rolls (the Exchequer worked on a different system, and had begun its new year on 30 September, the morrow of Michaelmas). Henry spent most of the week in Westminster, moving on 1 November to St Paul’s. He evidently marked the new year in his usual pious manner, offering 24 gold obols, bought from the revenues of the exchange. (CLR 1260-67, 148)

The final section of the 1263-64 fine roll is largely occupied by a series of transactions, which seem to show that the baronial government had found a way of rewarding its supporters at the expense of the Jewish community. Between 25 and 28 October, nearly twenty individuals were pardoned the interest and fees due on any debts owed to Jews. A few more were pardoned their debts entirely. The charters recording the debts were to be handed over. In addition, Peter de Montfort, a member of the governing council, was pardoned all his own debts to Jewish moneylenders, and debts which others had contracted on his behalf were also set aside, with the charters to be delivered to Peter. (CFR 1263-64, 226-43)

The abbey gate, Bury St Edmunds, in 1827.

The abbey gate, Bury St Edmunds, in 1827.

The council set up an inquiry into disturbances which had been going on in Bury St Edmunds since early in 1264. The abbey of Bury had extensive privileges within its liberty, including even the right to its own mint. At some point before the battle of Lewes, the young men of the town had organized themselves into a guild, which seized control of the government of the town. They disregarded the authority of the abbot’s port-reeve, and refused to obey the authority of the horn summoning them to the portman-moot. These local rebels elected their own alderman and bailiffs, established a court, and imposed an oath of obedience. The patent roll said that they had set up their own horn, which they used to summon the conspirators who had risen against the abbot. (CPR 1258-66, 375; Chronicle of Bury St Edmunds, xxiv; H.W.C. Davis, EHR, 1909)

The baronial government was still engaged in sporadic attempts at negotiating with its opponents in France. Guy Foulquois’ last act as papal legate had been the sentences of excommunication and interdict delivered on 20 October, but he apparently remained in France until December or January, shortly before he was elected pope as Clement IV. By now, queen Eleanor had been forced to accept that the planned invasion would not take place. In the words of the Bury chronicle: ‘When the queen’s money ran out everyone went home, not without discomfort and disgrace. It should be remembered that England would have been captured by foreigners if the seas had not been protected.’ In England, the council tried to resume negotiations with king Louis, requesting safe conduct for messengers from the barons and the bishops, who would be sent to Wissant. The men of Dunwich were rewarded for their support in defending the coasts by being given respite from paying the farm of the town and any other debts they owed to the Exchequer. (C&S, II, I, 694; CPR 1258-66, 385; Chronicle of Bury, 29; CFR 1263-64, 236)

Sunday 26 October 1264: the legate’s farewell

Posted on 27 October 2014 by Richard Cassidy

The final act of Guy Foulquois as papal legate, marking the complete failure of his attempts to assert his authority over the baronial government, came on 20 October. He repeated the formal excommunication which he had pronounced in August, denouncing the Provisions of Oxford. The authority of his denunciation was much diminished, however, because he had to pronounce the excommunication at Hesdin, in Flanders, rather than in England. He ordered bulls of excommunication and interdict to be published throughout France, but had been unable to secure their publication in England, where his authority was ignored. (Heidemann, register, 49-52; Foedera, I, I, 447-8)

Meanwhile, Simon de Montfort’s government, now again established in Westminster, continued its unavailing efforts to assert its authority over the royalist barons of the Marches and the north. Roger Mortimer and James of Audley were yet again ordered to come to the king’s court. Simon de Montfort’s son Henry, as warden of the Cinque Ports, was given the task of safeguarding merchandise, particularly wool, belonging to foreign merchants. The disorder in the country must have had an adverse effect on trade, which the government needed to counter. But the appointment also showed the increasingly prominent role being taken by de Montfort’s own family. (CPR 1258-66, 355)

The fine roll records the appointment of Ralph of Ash as sheriff of Devon. He was a local landowner (he held the manor now known as Rose Ash), so his appointment was in accordance with the reformers’ commitment to appointing local men as sheriffs, rather than the outsiders who had been blamed for exploiting the counties. Ash replaced Hugh Peverel of Sampford (another local man, from the village now named after his family, Sampford Peverell). Peverel had been appointed in the initial wave of new sheriffs put in place when the reforming barons took over the government in June 1264. There seems to be no particular explanation for the new appointment; Peverel continued to serve the baronial government, as castellan of Oxford, then as keeper of the peace for Devon. (CFR 1263-64, 220; CPR 1258-66, 387, 400)

Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester, had agreed to pay £1,000 in order to take possession of the lands he had inherited. He now paid £100 of this enormous sum to the keepers of the works at Westminster — this payment helped to continue the construction of Westminster abbey, but it by-passed the usual procedures for Exchequer control of income and expenditure. The £1,000 fine had been recorded in the fine roll in July 1263, and Gilbert had taken formal possession of his inheritance in September 1264, when he came of age. (CPR 1258-66, 354; CFR 1262-63, 727)

Sunday 19 October 1264: return to Westminster

Posted on 19 October 2014 by Richard Cassidy

The return of the king and the government from Canterbury to Westminster demonstrated growing confidence about the threat of invasion. It was clearly no longer considered so pressing that it required the court to remain near the Kent coast. Queen Eleanor’s invasion force in Flanders was dispersing and her funds were running out. About this time, the queen gave up and withdrew to France. (Howell, Eleanor of Provence, 221)
The government acknowledged the receipt of £133 which Thomas fitz Thomas, mayor of London, had paid into the Wardrobe for the wardship of the lands and heirs of Robert le Blund, tenant-in-chief. This payment, which had been agreed in July, gave fitz Thomas control of lands in Essex, Wiltshire and Staffordshire. It showed that fitz Thomas was a very wealthy man. Despite that, he was a populist mayor who supported the reforming regime and opposed the élite of aldermen who traditionally ruled London. It also showed that the government was continuing to channel income through the Wardrobe, rather than the Treasury (although this payment does not appear in the accounts of the Wardrobe, which handled the finances of the royal household) — the sort of behaviour which the reformers had once criticized. (CPR 1258-66, 341, 353; CFR 1263-64, 302)

Edward the Confessor, Henry III’s favourite saint, as depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry

Edward the Confessor, Henry III’s favourite saint, as depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry

The feast of Edward the Confessor on 13 October was always an important event for Henry III. It would seem that it was celebrated as usual this year. The court had returned to Westminster, the king’s sauser was buying pepper, cumin and cinnamon to make sauces for the king at the feast, and the keeper of the wardrobe was buying wax and gold coins for offerings. (CLR 1260-67, 143-4) One chronicler, in the annals of Dunstable, records that the clergy of England met in a council at Westminster on 19 October, to ratify an appeal against the legate’s condemnation. (C&S, II, I, 700)

Sunday 12 October 1264: an unusual delivery

Posted on 12 October 2014 by Richard Cassidy

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 5 October 1264: undelivered letters

Posted on 5 October 2014 by Richard Cassidy

Pope Urban IV died on 2 October, which formally ended Guy Foulquois’ appointment as papal legate, although the news would obviously take some time to reach the legate in northern France. The legate’s attempts to impose a settlement between the Montfortian government and the royalist exiles, led by the queen, had effectively collapsed. Queen Eleanor’s representatives had withdrawn from the talks, saying that the queen was outraged that nothing had been said about the hostages, her son and nephew. On 3 October, the representatives of the baronial government, the bishops of Winchester and London, also withdrew for further deliberations, taking with them a letter from the legate to the bishops of England. This ordered the bishops to announce the excommunication of the leading barons and of the citizens of London and the Cinque Ports, unless they had submitted to the legate’s demands within fifteen days. These demands included a complex scheme for arbitration, overseen by the legate, which would have required the barons to surrender Dover castle and the hostages – terms which were clearly unacceptable to the barons. The bishops were also ordered not to pay the tenth or any other form of subsidy to the baronial government. In any event, the legate’s letters never reached their destination; the citizens of Dover seized them, tore them up and threw them into the sea. (Heidemann, register, 43-4; Flores, II, 501)

Castle and ship, from BL Royal 10 E IV, the Smithfield Decretals.

Castle and ship, from BL Royal 10 E IV, the Smithfield Decretals.

The traditional enmity between the sailors of the Cinque Ports and those of Yarmouth had broken out again. The government intervened on the side of the Cinque Ports, which were playing a crucial role in the defence of the south-east coast against a possible landing by the forces which queen Eleanor had assembled across the Channel. They were to be compensated for any losses caused by the men of Yarmouth, as the men of the Cinque Ports were ‘labouring manfully about the defence of the sea and the maritime parts against the invasion of aliens’. Hostages from Yarmouth were to be delivered to the sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, who would hold them in Norwich castle, as security against disorder breaking out at Yarmouth fair. The sheriff was to ensure that the arguments between the Cinque Ports and Yarmouth did not lead to new contentions and grievances at the fair, while the burgesses of Yarmouth were warned to keep the peace, or ‘the king will betake himself so grievously to them that they and their heirs shall thenceforward feel themselves aggrieved in no small measure.’ (CPR 1258-66, 352, 372-3)
The liberate roll contains a passing reference to a sad event. Lord Edward, the king’s son, was still being held as a hostage. At this time, the only child of Edward and Eleanor of Castile was Katherine, of whom we know only that she was born some time between 1261 and 1263, and died in September 1264. The king’s almoner paid 4 marks for two cloths of gold adorned with wheels for the use of Katherine, Edward’s deceased daughter. The almoner also received £40 for making offerings on the day of Katherine’s funeral. Some of the usual pieties were evidently being observed, even while Edward was a captive. (CLR 1260-67,143; Morris, A Great and Terrible King, 73)

Sunday 28 September 1264: peace talks

Posted on 28 September 2014 by Richard Cassidy
Harley 4380 f.189v

Another, rather later, party arrives by sea at Boulogne. From BL Harley 4380, Froissart, 1470-72.

The negotiations about the peace settlement and the future government of England began, at last, during this week. Simon de Montfort and Hugh Despenser wrote to the papal legate, explaining that they had come to Dover, ready to cross to France with nobles and prelates to meet the legate, but that they found his letters of safe conduct unsatisfactory. On 24 September, the papal legate was asked to provide letters of safe conduct for Peter de Montfort to come to him to explain in person the baronial proposals for a peace settlement. The legate sent more comprehensive safe conduct letters, and a baronial delegation, led by the bishop of London, came to Boulogne on 24 September, as did representatives of the Queen and the king’s son Edmund.

After some delay, the baronial party presented their proposals for arbiters to choose the council to govern England, to consist only of Englishmen. The two sides could not agree, and the talks broke up on 29 September. A further attempt at negotiation was hampered by a baronial party, including Henry of Almain, losing their documents, taken by the sailors who brought them to Boulogne. The Queen’s representatives said that she was outraged that the hostages, her son Edward and nephew Henry of Almain, had not been mentioned in the negotiations. The talks had achieved very little. (Heidemann, register, nos. 30-43; Foedera, I, I, 447; Close Rolls 1261-64, 410)

The countess of Flanders had written in August, expressing concern about the security of Flemish merchants. On 24 September, the governing council announced that, as the countess had taken English merchants under her protection in Flanders, Flemish merchants and merchandise would be protected in England. Merchants should store their goods in churches or religious houses until full tranquillity was restored. Although the authorities in the ports of East Anglia had been ordered not to let any ships cross the sea, Flemish merchants would be allowed to export their wool, hides and other merchandise.  (CPR 1258-66, 350, 371-2)

The government was still trying to maintain the army to defend against invasion, and to ensure that it remained on guard for at least another month. The sheriff of Oxford and Berkshire was to summon knights and free tenants to come with horses and arms, and to provide for the expenses of the mounted and foot soldiers until late October. (CPR 1258-66, 372)

Sunday 21 September 1264: fines and earls

Posted on 21 September 2014 by Richard Cassidy

At this time, for the most part the fine rolls record little except a series of payments for judicial writs, or for having an assize taken by a particular justice. On 18 September, there were two less common payments.

Thomas de Craven offered 5 marks not to be placed on assizes. Such fines were common in the 1250s, when Henry III had a deliberate policy of raising money by selling respites from knighthood, and exemptions from the burdensome obligations of serving on juries and inquests. The reformers of 1258 had objected to this practice, as it led to a shortage of qualified personnel in local administration. The sale of exemptions was then greatly reduced – there were none in 1258-59. Scott Waugh thought there were also none in 1263-64 (‘Reluctant knights and jurors’, Speculum, 58, (1983), table 2), but it would seem that the baronial government made at least one exception to the reformers’ usual policy. (CFR 1263-64, 195).

A plaque showing the arms of Roger de Quincy, in the south choir aisle of Westminster Abbey.

A thirteenth-century plaque showing the arms of Roger de Quincy, in the south choir aisle of Westminster Abbey.

The other unusual fine was from the executors of Roger de Quincy, earl of Winchester, who had died on 25 April. They had found pledges for the payment of the earl’s debts to the king. This would allow them to proceed with the distribution of his estates. The close rolls include an extent of de Quincy’s estates, valuing them at £385 a year, and instructions to provide dower of one-third of this amount for his widow Eleanor. De Quincy also had extensive estates in Scotland (he was constable of Scotland), but had not been particularly wealthy, as earls go, compared to incomes of £2,000 for Simon de Montfort, £2,500 for Roger Bigod, or £3,700 for Gilbert de Clare. (CFR 1263-64, 193; Close Rolls 1261-64, 407-8; Morris, The Bigod Earls of Norfolk, 70; R.D. Oram, ‘Quincy, Roger de’, ODNB) De Quincy had three daughters from his first marriage, but no sons, so the earldom lapsed. His oldest daughter, Margaret, had married William de Ferrers, earl of Derby, who had died in 1254. She was Ferrers’ second wife. The widow Eleanor was de Quincy’s third wife. She was William de Ferrers’ daughter by his first marriage. Margaret had thus been step-mother to her own future step-mother.

The defence of the coast was being maintained by the fleet at Sandwich, which needed provisions of grain and wine. Royal officials were ordered to take 300 quarters of wheat from nearby towns; it would be paid for in October. (Foedera, I, I, 447; CPR 1258-66, 349)

Some less serious matters also occupied the government this week. The king was making preparations for his annual celebration of the feast of St Edward (13 October), and ordered his goldsmith, William of Gloucester, to provide gold for the completion of the paintings in his chamber. (Close Rolls 1261-64, 366)