Chronicles of the Mayors and Sheriffs of London 1188-1274. Originally published by Trübner, London, 1863.
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In this year, at a Parliament held at Westminster, after the Feast of the Translation of Saint Edward [13 October], there came before the King's Council the persons, who by his command had been sent throughout England to make inquisition as to the goods and chattels of the Flemings, and said that the goods that had been found by them, in the shape of debts and chattels, amounted to 8000 pounds, together with the King's debt. At the same time also, it was provided by the Council of his lordship the King, that all the merchants of England from whom the Countess of Flanders had taken anything, should come to Westminster at the approaching Feast of Saint Hilary [13 January], to shew and certify the Council of his lordship the King, each by himself, as to the value of the chattels which the said Countess had so taken from them, and then to receive, each his own proportion, from the aforesaid goods of the Flemings. It should also be known, that the chattels which the Countess had taken from the English, amounted to 7000 pounds sterling, besides chattels of the merchants of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and of tenants of Sir Edward.
Afterwards, at the Parliament held on the quinzaine of Saint Hilary, certain persons whose goods had been taken in Flanders, as already stated, and the Londoners more especially, in hope of having some money out of the debts of the Flemings which were then being collected throughout England, certified those who by his lordship the King and his Council had been appointed thereto, each by his own oath and the oaths of two others, what goods the Countess had taken from them, and the value thereof. At the same time, all the persons as to whom it had been found by the inquisition that had been previously made, what they had of goods or debts belonging to the Flemings, were instructed that they must produce all monies arising therefrom before the Council of his lordship the King, in the first week of Lent. And then too, inquisition was made at the same time by each of the City Wards, as also by all merchant-strangers who were in the City, as to all those who had had intercourse with any persons of the dominions of the Countess of Flanders, either in the way of selling, or of buying, or of exchanging, or of harbouring their goods; and also, as to who had taken wools out of England to the parts beyond sea, in contravention of the prohibition of his lordship the King.
At this time also, many Flemings found in the City were arrested, and kept in custody for some days; in order to be liberated from which, they abjured the realm of England, not to return thither, so long as the dispute before-mentioned should exist between the King of England and the Countess of Flanders.
This year, in the week before the Annunciation of Our Lady [25 March], there was brought to London the under-written copy of letters which the King of the Tartars, Albaga by name, had sent to Sir Edward, who was then at Aeon, together with sixty thousand Tartars and Christians, it is said.—
"By aid and by power of the living God, the (fn. 1) Chaan Albaga to Sir Edward, by the grace of God the most illustrious first-born of the King of England. Through the prudent men and discreet envoys sent unto us, (fn. 2) Brotner Reginald Rossel, Godfrey de Waus, John le Parker, we have diligently come to an understanding of the words of the proposition made on your part. At the expressions of your good will we have been very greatly rejoiced. But seeing that, in the past year, the Saracen infidels, causing no slight injury to the Christian faith, have inflicted very numerous losses upon very many of the Christians, and did in no way hesitate to lay waste their lands [and] possessions, it has pleased us that these, equally the enemies of us and of you, and who meditate hostility towards us both, should be surrounded by our valiant troops on either side, and, put to confusion by the supreme aid of the living God, be thoroughly rooted out. Therefore, being advised thereon, we have on our behalf made it our care to send unto you, in our name, Cemakar, the captain of our army, with a powerful force; wherefore you, discreetly taking counsel with the said Cemakar, will in future make it your care, with due caution, to issue orders both as to the day and the month for engaging with the foe. Given at Maraga, this fourth day of the month of September."
In the beginning of the year (fn. 3) 72, at the end of the month of March, died Richard King of Almaine and Earl of Cornwall, brother of his lordship Henry, King of England, it being the fifteenth year after his Coronation; and was buried in the Abbey of (fn. 4) White Monks at Heyles, which he himself had built.
In the same month there came news to London, that a new Pope had been created at Rome, after the Papal See had been vacant for (fn. 5) three years and more; which Pope was called "Gregory," being the tenth Pope of that name, and was consecrated on the tenth of the Calends of April [23 March], which then fell on a Sunday.
In this year, after Easter, there came envoys who had been sent by the Countess of Flanders unto his lordship the King, saying that it was her wish to make satisfaction to all the merchants of his realm as to all goods and chattels which had been taken in her territory, in manner already stated; upon condition however, that the said King should bind himself by his letters patent to pay unto her the rent which she demanded of him, as also all the debts which he and his Queen owed to the Flemings, within the three years then next ensuing ; and that in case he should not do so, she might lawfully distrain all persons coming into Flanders from the realm of England by their bodies and all their goods, until satisfaction should have been made to her for whatever should be in arrear. But upon hearing and understanding this haughty message, the King, with his Council, was indignant thereat, and contemptuously dismissed the said envoys, commanding them, on peril of life and limb, to leave the kingdom of England within the three days next ensuing, and that no one from the dominions of the said Countess, on the like peril, should come into England. This was done on the sixth day of May. Still however, by assent of the Council of his lordship the King, it was allowed that wool should be taken out of the kingdom in the same manner that it used to be in the preceding year; with this addition however, that every sack of wool should be marked with the mark of his lordship the King; so that, in case any sack should be found without a seal in any ship when crossing the sea, the same should be forfeited. This mark too was as follows,—that is to say, upon each sack there was a cross to be painted with (fn. 6) red earth lengthwise, above and below, as also another cross, crosswise, above and below; and for this mark the merchant was to give one halfpenny for each sack. This regulation however, did not last.
This year, in the month of August, there befell at Norwich a certain most unhappy calamity, and one hitherto unheard of by the world, as among Christians; for the Cathedral Church in honour of the Holy Trinity, which had been founded there from of old, was burnt by fire purposely applied, together with all the houses of the monks built within the cloisters of the said church. And this took place through the pride of the person who at that time was Prior of this Convent; as from the following facts may be ascertained. For by assent and consent of this same Prior, the grooms and servants of the monks very frequently went into the City, beating and wounding men and women, both within their houses and without, and doing much mischief. This Prior also used to endeavour to draw away men of the franchise from the commons of the City, in order that they might be under his own jurisdiction and severed from the commons. Also, whereas the monks have a fair by ancient custom each year, it happened this year, about the Feast of the Holy Trinity, that after the citizens had come with their merchandize there, and the greater part of them, at the end of the fair, had returned home, the servants of the monks, wickedly assaulting those who remained, beat and wounded them, and slew some; and for this, they never cared to make any amends, but always persevering in their malice and wickedness towards the citizens, perpetrated all manner of mischief. The citizens however, no longer able to endure so many evils, and such violence as this, assembled together and had recourse to arms, in order that they might repel force by force; which this most wicked Prior understanding, brought over a great multitude of malevolent persons from (fn. 7) Gernemue, who had been robbers, plunderers, and malefactors, during the disturbances in the realm. All these persons, coming by water to the Convent, ascended to the belfry where the bells were hung, fortified it with arms, just as if it were a castle, and took aim with their bows and arbalests therefrom, so that no one could pass along the streets or lanes near the Convent, without being wounded. The citizens, seeing these acts of violence, were of opinion that these misdoers were acting manifestly against the peace of his lordship the King, in thus setting up a spurious castle in his city. Accordingly, meeting together, and coming to a determination to seize these persons and to bring them to judgment in the King's name, they provided themselves with arms, and, approaching the closed gate of the court-yard, on being unable to enter it by reason of the armed men by whom it was defended, set fire to it, and ruthlessly burnt the gate.
The fire spreading however, the belfry was burnt, and all the dwellings of the monks, as well as, according to what some say, the Cathedral Church, alas! together with all the relics of the Saints, books, and ornaments, of the church; so that whatever could be burnt, was reduced to ashes, a certain chapel only excepted, which remained unburnt. The monks however, and all who were able, took to flight and made their escape; though still, some persons on either side were slain.
But it ought to be known, that although it is allowable in every way to harass and attack the King's enemies and those who break his peace, even to the extent of applying fire, if necessary; still however, it is not lawful for Christians to set fire to churches or to other holy places.
His lordship the King however, on hearing this most shocking news, was greatly grieved thereat; and accordingly, in a fury and in great wrath he set out for that city, and on his arrival had as many of the citizens seized as were held suspected, and imprisoned in his castle. He also caused some men who dwelt without the said city to be summoned, desiring to learn from them the truth of this matter upon oath; but when they appeared before the Justiciars who by his lordship the King for this purpose had been chosen, there came the Bishop of the place, (fn. 8) Roger by name, one who was in no way inferior in wickedness and cruelty to his Prior, and having no consideration for the ties of religion attaching to his order or his rank, but, wholly destitute of all pity and mercy, and desirous to the utmost of his ability to get all the citizens condemned to death, in presence of all the people excommunicated all those who by advocacy, for reward, or through feelings of pity or mercy, should spare any one of the citizens, so that he should not undergo his trial. Consequently, after his sentence pronounced, his lordship the King would shew no favour to any one, although entreated so to do by many religious men dwelling as well within the city as without. And then besides, no allowance was made for the citizens, because the Prior and his accomplices had been the origin and cause of all this misfortune, nor yet for the mischiefs and many evils which the citizens had suffered through the said Prior and his people; but inquisition was only made, as to who were present in that conflict; all which persons,—young men of the city, in number about thirty-two,—being indicted thereupon, were by the jurors condemned to death, and, by Laurence de Broke, who is a Justiciar at Neugate for gaol delivery, and was there present, sentenced to a most cruel death; in accordance with which, they were drawn and hanged, and their bodies, after death, burnt with fire. A priest however and two clerks, who were convicted upon clear evidence of having committed robbery in that church, were delivered to the Bishop for judgment according to the usage of Holy Church.
Afterwards, by the most truthful inquisition of forty knights dwelling near the city, it was found that the church had been burnt by (fn. 9) that accursed man, and not by fire of the citizens. For he had secretly had blacksmiths introduced into the tower of the church, who there forged bolts and arrows to be used for shooting from arbalests into the city: and when these blacksmiths saw the belfry burning, as already written, they took to flight and never put out their own fire; and this communicating, the tower was set on fire and the church burnt. It was also found that this most iniquitous Prior had purposed burning all the city; for which purpose, by three accomplices of his, he caused the city to be set on fire, in three places. Some of the citizens, however, wishing to avenge their misfortune, most sadly increased it. For they, during the self-same fire burnt down the gate of the Priory aforesaid, of which mention has been made above.
This wicked Prior too was convicted of homicide, of robbery, and of numberless other cruelties and iniquities, both by him personally, and by his iniquitous accomplices, committed. And therefore, the King had him seized, and handed him over to his Bishop, to keep him in safe custody in his prison, and produce him before the King at his command. But afterwards, this same Prior, after the ecclesiastical manner, purged himself before his Bishop, who shewed himself much too favourable to him; and thus did this most iniquitous man, alas! go unpunished for the crimes imputed to him. But after this, within the half year next ensuing, the divine vengeance, I believe, overtaking him, (fn. 10) this most iniquitous person died a wretched death.
Be it remembered, that in the time of John Horn and Walter le Poter, Sheriffs of London, whose names are written in the next leaf but one of this Book, when the citizens of London, as the custom is, met together for the election of Mayor, in the Guildhall, on the Feast of Simon and Jude [28 October], and the Aldermen and more discreet citizens would have chosen Philip le Tayllur, the mob of the City, opposing such election and making a great tumult, cried aloud, —"Nay, nay, we will have no one for Mayor but Walter Hervi," who before was Mayor; and against the will of the rest, with all their might, placed him in the seat of the Mayoralty. The Aldermen however, and many discreet men who sided with them, being unable to make head against the vast multitude of a countless populace, immediately went to his lordship the King and his Council at Westminster; and Walter Herevy, taking with him the populace, proceeded thither in like manner, promising them, as he before had promised, that he would preserve them, one and all, throughout the whole time of his Mayoralty, exempt from all tallages, exactions, and tolls, and would keep the City acquitted of all its debts, both as towards the Queen as towards all other persons, out of the arrears in the rolls of the City Chamberlain contained.
But this name of "arrears" he gave to whatever sums had been released and remitted, by writ of his lordship the King sent to Sir Alan de la Souche, the then Warden of the City, on the occasion of the great tallage made by assent of all the citizens, to those among the citizens who, beyond the sufficiency of their means, had been assessed towards the loans made for the purpose of paying the City's ransom to his lordship the King. This release too, and remission, was made by sworn men of the venue, and of the trades of those in favour of whom such remission was made; and so, was openly and distinctly enrolled in the rolls of the City Chamberlains, which rolls are of record. And besides this, his lordship the King had lately written in behalf of some of them to the same Mayor and to the Sheriffs of London, that they should have the aforesaid rolls examined, and should not aggrieve them, or suffer them to be aggrieved, in contravention of the enrolment in them contained.
But still, this Mayor, in contravention of the aforesaid enrolment and of the mandate of his lordship the King, endeavoured to extort from the said citizens a great sum of money; and always made promises to the populace with affirmation of his good faith, as already written; and accordingly, the populace, believing it to be true as he had promised, became his adherents and submitted themselves to his will; so much so, that the people, by hundreds, by thousands, and by multitudes of persons, without number, followed him at his command both on horseback and on foot.
But on the Feast of Simon and Jude [28 October] before-mentioned, the said Aldermen and their adherents, on coming before his lordship the King and his Council, as already written, shewed unto them, with grievous complaints, how that this populace by force had violently and unjustly impeded their election, by those to whom the election of Mayor and Sheriffs in the City of right more particularly belongs than to any one else, and has always been wont to belong. They also duteously besought his lordship the King and his Council, that the King would be pleased to set his arm and his hand thereto, that so this populace, calling itself the "Commons of the City," and excluding the Aldermen and discreet men of the City, might not upraise itself against his peace and against the peace of his realm, as had happened in the time of the Earl of Leicester; namely, when Thomas Fitz-Thomas and Thomas de (fn. 11) Pullesdon had so exalted the populace of the City above the Aldermen and discreet men of the City, that, when it was necessary so to do, they could not make such populace amenable to justice; through which, as a thing notorious to the whole world, a deadly war arose in England.
The populace however, shewing no reason against this, but making a great tumult in the King's Hall,—so much so, that the noise reached his lordship the King in bed, to which he was confined by a severe illness,— was continually crying aloud,—"We are the Commons of the City, and unto us belongs the election of Mayor of the City, and our will distinctly is, that Walter Herevy shall be Mayor, whom we have chosen." But on the other hand, the Aldermen shewed by many reasons, that unto them belongs the election of Mayor, both because they the Aldermen are the heads, as it were, and the populace the limbs, as also because it is the Aldermen who pronounce all judgments in pleas moved within the City. Of the populace, on the other hand, there are many who have neither lands, rents, nor dwellings in the City, being sons of divers mothers, some of them of servile station, and all of them caring little or nothing about the City's welfare.
The populace however still kept crying aloud as before: whereupon, the members of the King's Council, wishing to give offence to neither the Aldermen's party nor that of the populace, and to the end that the King, who was in a weak state, might not be in any way disturbed, dismissed them until the morrow, and told the said Walter, that he must not come to Court attended with such a vast multitude of people, but only with ten or twelve persons, at most; and after this had been told them, they all returned to the City.
But the said Walter, caring nothing for the orders that had been given him by the Council of his lordship the King, immediately after dinner had all the people of the City summoned, except those who were adherents of the Aldermen,—and this too in the name of his lordship the King, though the King knew nothing whatever about it,—and commanded them all, under heavy pecuniary penalties, to follow him. Accordingly, on the morrow, a countless multitude went with him, both horse and foot, to Westminster; and there entering the King's Hall, set forth no reasons, but, just as they had done before, kept crying aloud and saying,—"It is our will that Walter Herevy shall be our Mayor, "because no person in the City is so fit and proper to govern us." The Aldermen too were there present, awaiting the answer of his lordship the King and his Council. The members however of the King's Council told the Aldermen and the others who were adherents of the said Walter, that they themselves should unanimously have given their assent to any person in the City whom they might have thought proper to be their Mayor; and that if they should present such a person unto his lordship the King, the King would admit him to the Mayoralty. The populace however always kept crying aloud, as already mentioned. For all this, the parties aforesaid could obtain no answer from the King and his Council for several days.
But the Aldermen, together with those who adhered to them, as well as the said Walter, with a countless multitude of people, who were summoned daily under the same penalty, and in every way in the same manner as already noticed, attended daily at Westminster, until the Feast of Saint Martin [11 November].
It should also be remarked, that when this Walter understood that he was censured by some persons for wishing to be Mayor of the City, who said,—"No man ought to hold an office who covets it; seeing that such people think nothing about the welfare of those subject to them, but only about their own promotion,"—this Walter, I say, thereupon made answer to the people standing about him, affirming and swearing by God and by his own soul, to the effect that he did not desire to be Mayor or any other officer in the City, for his own sake; but that solely from love of God, and from motives of charity, he was willing to endure that burden and that labour, that so he might support the poor of the City against the rich, who wish to oppress them in the matter of the tallages and expenditure of the City.
However, upon the Feast of Saint Martin before-mentioned, the members of the King's Council, seeing that it would be of no use any further to delay this matter, called before them the Aldermen, as well as Walter and his adherents, and said to them,—"His lordship the King wishes to preserve all your liberties unimpaired; and as you cannot unanimously agree to the election of the same person as Mayor, it is his will, that both Walter Herevy and Philip le Taillur shall be removed from the Mayoralty, and that you shall have a Warden from among ourselves—'who for me may keep the City in my behalf, and in that 'of Edward my son.'" And immediately thereupon, Henry de Frowick was made Warden of the City, to keep the same until the Feast of Saint Hilary [13 January] next ensuing; but at whatever hour the citizens should be willing unanimously to agree upon the same person for Mayor, they were to present him to his lordship the King; and the King, removing Henry from the Wardenship of the City, would willingly admit him to the Mayoralty.
After this, certain persons of the King's Council, namely, Walter de Merton and others, came into the City, and for several days held conference with the said Aldermen and the said Walter, for the purpose of making peace and concord; whereupon, it was in common agreed that five men should be chosen upon the Aldermen's side, and five on the side of the said Walter; and that the person whom they should elect should be Mayor for that year.
The names of those chosen by the Aldermen were, John Addrian, Walter le Poter, Henry le Waleys, Henry de Coventre, and Thomas de Basinge. The names of those chosen by Walter Herevy were, Robert Gratefige, Robert Hauteyn, Allan le (fn. 12) Hurer, Bartholomew le Spicer, and Henry de Wyncestre.
Be it remembered, that certain malicious men of Belial, as it was said, proposed that, immediately the King was dead, they should rise against the Aldermen and those who adhered to them, and deprive them of all their goods and chattels to be found in the City; thinking among themselves that this might be done with impunity, while the realm was without a King. This however was erroneously supposed by them; for immediately after the King's death, the kingdom devolved upon his son Sir Edward; and when once all persons in the realm had done fealty to him, then it is very evident that those under his rule who should have perpetrated anything against the peace, ought to be just as severely punished, as if it had been under the rule of his father when alive. But however, these iniquitous persons were prevented, so that this iniquity was not committed. For immediately the King was dead, on the morrow of Saint Edmund the Archbishop [16 November], the Archbishop of York, the Earl of Gloucester, and many other nobles of England, who were then present, came into the City and caused peace to be proclaimed as towards all persons, Jews as well as Christians; after which, they came into the Chamber of the Guildhall, where the Aldermen and the aforesaid Walter, with a countless multitude of people, were assembled; and, upon hearing of the disagreement that existed between the Aldermen and the said Walter, the Earl before-named, seeing such a vast multitude of people adhering to this Walter, in order that the quiet of the City might not be disturbed, requested that he might be admitted to the Mayoralty. But the Aldermen told him that that matter had been referred to the arbitration of ten men, in manner already stated. The Earl however, disregarding this arbitration, commanded that on the morrow, Friday namely, a Folkmote should be called together in the Churchyard, at Saint Paul's Cross, and that he should continue to be Mayor for that year, to whose election the greater part of the citizens should agree.
On the morrow accordingly, all the City came into Saint Paul's Churchyard, and the Archbishop, the Earl, Robert Burnel, Walter de Merton, and many other men of high rank, came to the Church of Saint Paul; and, entering the Chapter-house there, with some of the Aldermen, advised them to agree to the election of this Walter, so long as he should be Mayor for one year only, lest something still worse might happen in the City. Accordingly, seeing that such was the wish of these nobles, and that on that conjuncture nothing else could be done, the Aldermen gave their assent thereto, and, calling the said Walter before them, he was told what had been done. And then, by order of the aforesaid Archbishop, Earl, and other nobles, the said Walter made oath, that he would not aggrieve, or allow to be aggrieved throughout all his Mayoralty, any one of those who had been against his election; and so, declaration was made by "Walter de Merton before all the people at Saint Paul's Cross, to the effect that the Aldermen had agreed that the said Walter should be Mayor for one year.
On the fourth day after the King's death, namely, on the Feast of Saint Edmund the King, [20 November] which then fell on a Sunday his body, nobly attended, in such manner as befits royalty, was committed to the tomb in the Conventual Church of the Monks at Westminster, before the great altar there. And after he had been buried, the Archbishop of York, who had been celebrating Mass there, the Earl of Gloucester, the Earl of Warenne, the Earl of Hereford, and other Bishops, Barons, and all the nobles there present, made oath that they would keep the peace in the realm, and would with all their strength cause the same to be kept; and that they would keep the kingdom in behalf of Sir Edward, who was then in the Holy Land. The King's Seal also was then broken, in presence of all the people.
Afterwards, on the Monday following, and so from day to day, the Bishops and Barons met together at the (fn. 13) New Temple, for making reformation of the state of the realm.
At this time a new Seal was made for Sir Edward, the inscription on which is the same as it was while his father was living, the name only upon the new Seal being changed. Walter de Merton also was made his Chancellor.