Sunday 27 July 1264: heirs, courts and ships

Posted on 27 July 2014 by Richard Cassidy

The fine rolls record a transaction this week which shows both the continuation of the normal mechanisms concerning inheritance, and the way in which de Montfort’s regime used its position of power to reward supporters. Alfred of Lincoln was a member of a gentry family, long established in Dorset and Somerset (he was the fifth with the same, rather confusing, name). Alfred had succeeded his father, Alfred IV, in 1240, when he paid a relief of £100. Alfred V died in 1264, without male heirs, and his estates were divided between his three sisters, or their heirs. On 11 July, the fine roll recorded that the king had taken homage from the three heirs: Albreda of Lincoln, Alfred’s sister; Robert fitz Payn, the son of Alfred’s sister Margery; and William de Gouiz, the son of Alfred’s sister Beatrice. In each case, the escheator was to give them seisin of their share of the family estates, having accepted security for payment of relief. On 21 July, there was a further entry in the fine roll, pardoning fitz Payn and Gouiz payment of the relief they owed, for their praiseworthy service to the king and the damages they had sustained in his service in the conflict at Lewes. (CFR 1263-64, 136-8, 147; John Walker, ‘Lincoln family’, ODNB; CIPM, I, 580; Close Rolls 1261-64, 350)

There were other signs that the routine processes of administration were beginning to function, at least in parts of the country. The county courts of Nottinghamshire and Kent both met on Monday 21 July, with the sheriffs appointed by the new government presiding. The sheriffs’ accounts show only that a few minor amercements were imposed at each court, but they indicate that there was at least a measure of order and justice being established in those counties. Similarly, William de Wendling was appointed escheator for the southern half of the country, with authority to appoint or replace each county’s local escheator; the escheators played a key role in administering lands that fell into the king’s hands, and delivering the revenues to the Exchequer, as in the case of the lands of Alfred of Lincoln. (E 389/81; E 389/121; CPR 1258-66, 338)

The government was increasingly concerned about the threat of invasion, and the need to assert its authority over Bordeaux and Bayonne. Two masters of Gascon ships were thanked for refusing to carry enemies from Flanders, but ships from Bristol and Southampton had been detained in Bordeaux. Eleanor of Provence may have had more influence in Gascony than de Montfort’s government: she was in France, with cash to pay for shipping, and influential support. On 24 July, she wrote to Alphonse of Poitiers, as she was sending messengers to La Rochelle to recruit ships to carry the invasion force assembled at Damme. (CPR 1258-66, 338, 363; Howell, Eleanor of Provence, 215-6)

Henry III, under de Montfort’s control, wrote to the king of France, proposing that negotiations should begin. Henry would be at Dover by 7 August, and messengers from Henry and his barons would be at Boulogne the following day. Henry also wrote to Simon de Montfort and Gilbert de Clare about these arrangements, to ensure that they would have their representatives at Boulogne, and that lord Edward and Henry of Almain, the hostages, would be brought to Dover. (Close Rolls 1261-64, 398-9)

Sunday 20 July 1264: castles and cash

Posted on 20 July 2014 by Richard Cassidy
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)

Ebulo de Montibus, by Michael Ray

Posted on 14 July 2014 by Richard Cassidy

Michael Ray writes:

Ebulo de Montibus or Ebal de Mont of Mont-sur-Rolle, Vaud, Switzerland

The motte/donjon of Mont-le-Grand, Vaud

The motte/donjon of Mont-le-Grand, Vaud

Last weekend I was due to meet a retired professor of medieval history from the University of Lyon who was going to help me locate the collegiate church of St Catherine built by Peter de Aigueblanche, Bishop of Hereford 1240-68, at Aiguebelle in the Maurienne, Savoy.  However he had car trouble and was not able to come.  We carried on to Aiguebelle but, after an extensive search, we found nothing.  On returning to England, I discovered that the foundation was actually at Randens, a nearby village, but there may be no remains.

View from the castle of Mont-le-Grand

View from the castle of Mont-le-Grand

However, the trip to Savoy was not completely wasted.  The day before, with the help of a guest at a wedding at the Chateau de Mont vineyard at Mont-sur-Rolle in the Swiss canton of Vaud, we were able to find the remains of the castle of Mont-le-Grand.  This was the home of Ebal II de Mont who came to England with Peter of Savoy and is known in our records as Ebulo de Montibus.  First mentioned in England in 1246 (CCR 1242-7, 487), his initial mention in the Fine Rolls was in April 1250 when he was respited for scutage for the manor of Ewell (Surrey) (CFR 1249-50, no.268).  As Huw Ridgeway noted, Ebal was chosen in 1251 by the Queen and Peter to be a companion of the twelve-year-old Lord Edward.  He might have acted as his Chamberlain and as Steward.  Later Ebal served Henry III himself as Steward of the Household from 1256 (the date is challenged by Ridgeway who puts it as much later).  His fellow steward was another Savoyard, Imbert Pugeys.  Ebal was Constable of Windsor castle in 1266.  Between 1251 and 1262, he witnessed at least eighty-seven royal charters.  He was dead by 1268 when the Queen was one of his executors.  Like so many of the aliens, Ebal married a widow:  Joan de Bohun, of the senior but non-comital branch of the family, had first wed Stephen de Somery and then Godfrey of Crowcombe, a prominent curialis.

The castle at Rolle, Vaud

The castle at Rolle, Vaud

The castle is on the wooded slopes of the Jura mountains, high above Mont-sur-Rolle along an unsigned and unmarked trackway but the bailey is set out as a picnic spot.  On the motte there are three story-boards and, from it, there is a magnificent view of Lake Geneva as far as the Jet d’Eau fountain at Geneva.  To the south, across the lake, is the line of the Alps.  No stone work survives above ground but there are extensive earth works and the castle must have been a formidable presence dominating the east-west route from Lausanne to Geneva along the north side of the lake.  However, Peter of Savoy built a fine stone castle on the lakeside itself at Rolle, and this still exists and is in plain view of Mont-le-Grand.

Sunday 13 July 1264: marchers, manors, and mines

Posted on 13 July 2014 by Richard Cassidy

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)

Sunday 6 July 1264: keeping the peace

Posted on 5 July 2014 by Richard Cassidy

This week, entries in the fine roll resumed, for the first time since April. There were the usual fines for having routine writs, and records of reliefs owed by heirs of tenants in chief – encouraging signs of the return of normal business, with the prospect of some income for the government. (CFR 1263-64, 115-35)

At last, de Montfort secured control of Windsor castle. Drogo de Barentin and his garrison were given safe conduct, and John fitz John was appointed constable. On the other hand, the marcher lords, like Roger Mortimer, continued to ignore orders to come to London and to release their prisoners. (CPR 1258-66, 329-30, 362)

After the disorders of the preceding months, it was hardly surprising that the government was short of money, and managing by short-term expedients. The king’s chamberlain bought wine worth £95 from Gascon merchants, with payment guaranteed by William son of Richard and Reginald of Canterbury, the London moneyers. The moneyers were to be reimbursed from the revenues of the London and Canterbury exchanges. The need for cash led to Hervey of Stanhoe, the new sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, being instructed to collect arrears of farms from the cities and towns of those counties, disregarding their liberties if need be, and to send the proceeds to the Wardrobe. This indicates that revenue, which should have been paid to the Exchequer, was still being diverted to the Wardrobe to pay day-to-day expenses, as had been done during the period of civil war. (CPR 1258-66, 331)

The new sheriffs evidently faced considerable problems. They were all instructed to preserve the peace: the king understood that certain keepers of the peace had become disturbers of the peace; others held men to ransom and plundered their goods. The sheriffs were to take action against them, and hold them prisoner, awaiting further instructions. (CPR 1258-66, 362)

There was also the threat from royalists overseas, with reports that the queen was leading a large army to the coast of Flanders, ready to cross to England. Letters were sent to most of the counties, setting out the threat of a great number of foreigners invading the country, and instructing the knights and free tenants to come to London with horses and arms on Sunday 2 August. In each township, the sheriff was to summon eight, six or at least four of the best men, mounted and on foot, armed with lances, bows and arrows, crossbows and axes. He was to accept no excuses because it was harvest-time: better to lose some goods than to risk total loss of land and goods at the hands of those who would spare neither age nor sex if they prevailed. Similarly, the commonalty of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex were to be ready to defend the coasts, commanded by Hugh Despenser. This was the de Montfort regime’s response to the preparations for invasion from France, calling up a peasant army to defend against the foreign threat. (Ann Mon III, 233; IV, 154; CPR 1258-66, 360-2; Foedera, I, I, 444)

An unattractive aspect of the new regime became apparent on 30 June, in a blatantly biased judgment against William de Braose. He had plundered Sedgewick, a Sussex manor belonging to Simon de Montfort junior. He was ordered to pay 10,000 marks damages, a ridiculously large sum, by a tribunal headed by Henry de Montfort, who was hardly likely to be impartial. (Bémont, Simon de Montfort, 353-4)

Sunday 29 June 1264: parliament and sheriffs

Posted on 29 June 2014 by Richard Cassidy

The parliament which had been summoned on 4 June met during this week. The chief business appears to have been the announcement of a new council to govern the country, and the appointment of sheriffs for most of the counties. The arrangements for the council were supposedly provisional, to apply only until the completion of the French arbitration required by the mise of Lewes. As there was no prospect of Louis IX co-operating with de Montfort over the arbitration, the arrangements for central government were effectively a new constitution. A group of three, de Montfort, Gilbert de Clare and the bishop of Chichester, were to nominate a council of nine experienced men to rule the affairs of the realm. The council would oversee all official appointments, and three of its members would be with the king at all times. Unlike the council of 1258, which included royal nominees, this new council would give unfettered power to de Montfort and his allies, and remove any possibility of independent action by the king. According to one chronicler, Henry III was forced by threats to give his assent to the Ordinance setting out these arrangements; he was told that he would be replaced by another king, and lord Edward imprisoned forever. (DBM, no. 40; Flores, III, 262)

Eight new sheriffs were announced on 27 June, and Hereford and Cumberland were instructed to elect sheriffs. It may be significant that the announcement of these sheriffs was made during the parliament, to which four knights had been summoned from each county. It may mean that the new regime was following the proposals set out in the Provisions of Westminster in 1259, for each county to select four knights, from whom the central government would select one to be sheriff. The new sheriffs had a formidable task, “as the king has learned that plunderings, burnings and other enormities have occurred in those counties since the proclamation of peace.” The keepers of the peace in each county were told to summon the county court to hear the king’s orders, and to assist the sheriff. One of the sheriffs appointed the previous week, Fulk Peyforer of Kent, had begun work already: he held a session of the county court on Monday 23 June, showing that the machinery of local government was beginning to function again. (CPR 1258-66, 326-8; appointments of sheriffs and castellans also in the originalia roll, CFR 1263-64, 272-98; E 389/81)

Two continuing problems again exercised de Montfort’s government. The archbishop of Canterbury remained in France, and was refusing to co-operate by confirming the election of Walter Giffard as bishop of Bath and Wells. The garrison of Windsor castle continued to ignore instructions to leave the castle, and disregarded offers of safe conduct to come to London. (CPR 1258-66, 328-9)

The council was also exercised by the need to secure the ports against enemy infiltration. Thry decreed that anybody entering or leaving the country should do so through Dover (except for merchants bringing wine or other necessities). Other ports were to arrest anyone landing there. (CPR 1258-66, 361)

Sunday 22 June 1264

Posted on 22 June 2014 by Richard Cassidy

Windsor castle continued to be a thorn in the side of de Montfort’s regime. The royalist constable, Drogo de Barentin, and his knights continued to ignore orders to come to London and to hand over the castle. De Montfort sent the bishop of Carlisle to deliver their safe conduct to come to London, with the threat that they would otherwise be considered to be rebels. Eleanor of Castile, wife of lord Edward, and Joan, the wife of William de Valence, had both taken refuge in the castle, and were ordered to leave. (CPR 1258-66, 324, 325)

The new government began to assert its authority in the counties, with the appointment of two sheriffs on 18 June. Fulk Peyforer was appointed sheriff of Kent, with instructions to deliver the county’s revenues to Henry de Montfort to pay for munitions for Dover castle. John de Scalariis became sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire. The announcement of their appointments acknowledged that the new regime had yet to restore order. Both new sheriffs were instructed to keep the peace, as the king understood that plunderings, burnings and other enormities were being perpetrated daily since the proclamation of peace. They were both local landowners, and experienced local administrators – Fulk had been sheriff of Kent in 1258-59, John had been sheriff of Cambridgeshire in 1249 and 1259-61. They were the sort of reliable person with roots in the locality whom the reformers of 1258-59 had wanted to see in office. (CPR 1258-66, 325)

Sunday 15 June 1264

Posted on 15 June 2014 by Richard Cassidy

Monday 9 June was Whit Monday, the day of the procession by the villagers of Kibworth, in Leicestershire, to the church of Market Harborough, which David Carpenter wrote about in the September 2010 Fine of the Month. We know about this event from the pardon later granted to Wodard of Kibworth for the killing of William King in self-defence. It could be evidence of peasants’ awareness of the political struggle, and support for the cause of reform, only four weeks after the battle of Lewes.

During this week, the new government in London continued to try to impose its authority over the rest of the country, and to distribute some of the prizes of office. Leading royalists were repeatedly commanded to come to London, and the constable of Nottingham castle was ordered to release the prisoners whom the royalists had taken at Northampton. Gilbert de Clare was granted the wardenship of Boston fair, one of the main annual commercial events, where much of the business of the wool trade was transacted. He was also given custody of the estates of the émigré royalist, John de Warenne. (CPR 1258-66, 323, 325-6)

De Montfort and the Jews

The attitude of the de Montfort regime to the Jews seems particularly relevant this week. A letter to The Times on Tuesday (The Times, 10 June 2014, p. 29 – the online edition is only available to subscribers, apparently) accused Simon de Montfort of being ‘a notorious and rabid antisemite’. He certainly had a record suggesting hostility to Jews. De Montfort, as lord of Leicester, issued a charter in 1231-32, expelling the Jews from that city. His supporters, as we have seen in recent weeks, had been involved in attacks on the Jewish communities in Worcester, Canterbury and London. Two prominent rebels had been personally involved in these outrages. Robert Ferrers, earl of Derby, killed or imprisoned many Jews during the sack of Worcester, and later carried off the bonds recording Jewish loans to his castle of Tutbury; this was perhaps the action of a debtor. John fitz John led the pillage of the Jews of London, and himself murdered Kok son of Abraham. (Maddicott, Simon de Montfort, 15; Maddicott, ‘Ferrers’ and Carpenter ‘John’, ODNB)

The new government, on the other hand, was trying to restore some semblance of normality. On 2 June, several burgesses of Northampton were ordered to protect the Jewish community, who had fled to Northampton castle during the battle, and had not dared to leave it. The Jews should return to the town and live there, protected by the burgesses. Similarly, the mayor and sheriffs of London were instructed on 11 June to protect the Jews who had taken refuge in the Tower, and who should now be allowed to return to their homes in security. And on 14 June 1264, a group of citizens of Winchester were appointed as wardens of the Jews of Winchester; now that peace had been made, they were to proclaim, on behalf of the king and the barons, that the Jews should not be molested. These were not, of course, straightforward gestures of tolerance; as the royal letter to Northampton pointed out, while the Jews remained in the castle, the king was suffering no small loss. (CPR 1258-66, 323; Foedera, I, I, 441-3)

Sunday 8 June 1264: keeping the peace

Posted on 8 June 2014 by Richard Cassidy

Today was Whit Sunday, in 1264 as in 2014, and the king was evidently allowed to maintain at least part of the usual observances, preserving the fiction that he continued to rule. The sheriffs of London provided the cash for the king to give 115 pairs of shoes for the poor, and cloth worth £9, as Whitsuntide alms. (CLR 1260-67, 137)

During the week, de Montfort, in the king’s name, took a number of steps to impose the authority of the new regime and to re-assert control of the counties. Several castles, including Windsor and Nottingham, were still held by royalists. Prominent royalists, including these castellans and the northern and marcher lords, were repeatedly and unavailingly instructed to hand over the castles, to come to London, and to release their prisoners, particularly those baronial supporters captured at Northampton. The royalists were told that, since peace had been restored, they were forbidden to carry arms without permission, at peril of life and limb. The estates of royalist émigrés like Hugh Bigod, John de Warenne, William de Valence and Peter of Savoy were entrusted to de Montfort’s supporters. Most importantly, on 4 June keepers of the peace were appointed in each county. They were to maintain law and order. They were also to send four knights from each county to London by the last week in June – de Montfort was preparing to hold a parliament. (CPR 1258-66, 321-3, 359-60; Close Rolls 1261-64, 386-7; Foedera, I, 1, 442)

Queen Eleanor began, so far as she could, to exercise royal authority in France on behalf of her husband. She made a decision on a court case concerning the community of Dax in Gascony, and issued instructions to the royal officials in the duchy.  (Howell, Eleanor of Provence, 211-2)

7 Class 5d3-e Willem of London obv

… and obverse

7 Class 5d3-e Willem of London rev

Long cross penny of Henry III from the London mint. Reverse …

During the week, de Montfort took steps to revive overseas trade, which had evidently been affected by the war. The civic authorities of Flanders and Brabant were told that the disturbance of the realm had been settled, and peace had been made between the king and his barons. Merchants could again come safely to the realm. This was an important attempt to revive both trade and royal income, as the king in normal times received significant revenues from the exchanges where foreign merchants obtained English coins. This should have been the exchanges’ busiest time, at the height of the season for shearing and selling wool, the key component of England’s exports. The mint output statistics show how badly trade had been affected. In the year to the end of January 1263, the London and Canterbury mints produced over £50,000; in the year to January 1264, output was £54,000; but in the period from January to July 1264, they produced only £7,400. Mint output was driven by demand from foreign merchants, particularly those in the wool trade, and it is clear that trade had collapsed, and with it government revenue. (CPR 1258-66, 320; Allen, Mints and Money in Medieval England, table C.1)

Sunday 1 June 1264: from Rochester to London

Posted on 1 June 2014 by Richard Cassidy
Rochester cathedral and castle

Rochester cathedral and castle

Simon de Montfort and Henry were in Rochester at the beginning of the week. The castle there had held out against de Montfort’s siege in April. According to the Canterbury/Dover chronicle, Simon now swore that he would not eat until the castle surrendered to him. The castellan would not surrender without instructions from the king, but then came to the priory where the king was staying, and in the chapter house handed over the castle to the king and the earl. While they were in Rochester, de Montfort wrote in Henry’s name to the king of France, informing him that peace had been restored, and seeking his co-operation in the arbitration proposed under the mise of Lewes. (Gervase, II, 238; Close Rolls 1261-64, 386)

By 28 May, de Montfort and the captive king had reached Westminster, and on 30 May they moved to St Paul’s, where they remained for several weeks. There was now time for the new administration to deal with some outstanding issues. The church received attention, with royal assent to the election of Walter Giffard as bishop of Bath and Wells. The new bishop’s proctors had to go to France to find archbishop Boniface and seek his confirmation of the election, and obtain authority for the consecration. The university was instructed to return to Oxford, from where it had been expelled in March, when the king established his headquarters in the city. (CPR 1258-66, 319-20)

In the immediate aftermath of the battle of Lewes, lord Edward and Henry of Almain (earl Richard’s son) had been sent to Dover castle, in the custody of Henry de Montfort. They were then transferred to Wallingford castle, under the supervision of Eleanor de Montfort. Earl Richard had been sent to the Tower of London on 30 May, but he too was soon sent to Wallingford, formerly his own castle, where he became the involuntary guest of his sister Eleanor. (Wilkinson, Eleanor de Montfort, 105-6; London annals, 64)

Queen Eleanor had reached the French court in Paris by 1 June. She then acknowledged the receipt of the money due from Louis IX under the Treaty of Paris. (Howell, Eleanor of Provence, 211)