Chronicles of the Mayors and Sheriffs of London 1188-1274. Originally published by Trübner, London, 1863.
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In (fn. 1) this year, on the day after the Octaves of Saint Michael, his lordship the King, returning from Boulogne, arrived in England, and, on the Friday after, reached London.
Be it observed, that whereas for many years there had been a dispute between the Abbot of Westminster and the citizens of London as to some liberties which the said Abbot, by a certain Charter, obtained of his lordship the King, demanded in the County of Middlesex, at length, on the Tuesday after the Octaves of Saint Michael in this year, the said dispute was determined by judgment given at the Exchequer of his lordship the King, in presence of Gilbert de Preston, Justiciar, by Writ of the King thereunto specially deputed, and of the Barons of the Exchequer. For, by verdict upon oath of twelve knights of the county of Middlesex, it was decided that the Sheriffs of London may enter all vills and tenements which the Abbot holds in Middlesex, even unto the gate of his Abbey, and there in every way make summons and distraint, the same as in the tenements of other freeholders of the County; and that the tenants of the Abbot are bound to do suit at the County Courts and at the Hundred Courts, and to do all other services, as the freeholders of the County aforesaid are wont to do. Afterwards, in process of time the said Abbot and his Convent, by Charter sealed with the common seal, remitted for ever unto the citizens all right of action which they had in Middlesex by reason of the before-named Charter, obtained of his lordship the King to the prejudice of the citizens: which however was not afterwards adhered to.
This year, in the Parliament held after the quinzaine of Saint Michael, a dissension again arose between his lordship the King and the aforesaid Earl of Leicester and his accomplices. For the King and Sir Edward, and many nobles of the realm who adhered to them, desired that justice should be done to all those, upon whom depredations or trespasses had been unjustly committed; while the other party would not consent thereto. After this too, the King desired that those who were to be of his own household, should be chosen and put in office by himself.
At this season, Sir Edward, under colour of paying a visit to his wife, entered the Castle of Wyndeshor, and there continued to abide. The King also, on the morrow, departed in the morning from Westminster in the direction of the said Castle, and entered it with such of his own people as he thought proper; many Earls and Barons following, who adhered to him, while the Earl of Leicester and his accomplices were staying in London. Afterwards, however, the two parties submitted the dispute to the arbitration of the King of France.
This year, Thomas Fitz-Thomas was again elected Mayor by the populace, the Aldermen and principal men of the City being but little consulted thereon; and immediately after the election he was sworn, just as he had been the two preceding years; a thing that no other Mayor had ever been, unless he had been first admitted by the King or his Barons of the Exchequer. On the morrow however he was presented to the aforesaid Barons at Westminster; but was not admitted, the King forbidding it by his writ, he being for many reasons greatly moved to anger against the City.
After this, his lordship the King, who had before sent letters to the King of France, signifying that he would abide by his arbitration as to the dispute existing between himself and the Barons, crossed over in the week of the Nativity, and Sir Edward and others of his Council, to hold a conference with the King of France. Peter de Montfort also, and certain others on part of the Barons, whose letters patent the aforesaid King also had, to the effect that they would abide by his arbitration, crossed over.
"We, the parties being convened at Amiens, his lordship the King of England in person, and some of the Barons personally, and others by their proctors, appearing 'before us, after hearing the allegations and defences on either side, and fully understanding the reasons by the parties alleged, considering that, by the provisions, ordinances, statutes, and obligations, of Oxford, and by the results which therefrom have ensued, and by reason thereof, the royal right and honour have been greatly impaired, [and] that disturbance of the realm, oppression, and plunder of churches, and most grievous disasters to other persons of the said realm, ecclesiastical and secular, natives and aliens, have ensued; as also,—a thing that was reasonably to be apprehended,—to the end that evils still more grievous might not in future arise; after taking counsel of good and high personages, do, by our award and our ordinance, quash and annul the aforesaid provisions, ordinances, statutes, and obligations, by whatsoever name the same may be observed, and whatsoever through them, or by reason of them, has ensued; and this the more especially, as it appears that the Supreme Pontiff has by his letters pronounced the same quashed and annulled; we ordaining, that as well the said King as the Barons, and such other persons as have agreed to this present compromise, and have in any way bound themselves to observe the aforesaid, shall wholly acquit and absolve themselves thereof. We do also add that, by force or virtue of the aforesaid provisions, or ordinances, or obligations, or of any power by the King granted thereon, no person shall make new statutes, or shall hold or observe those already made; nor ought any one, for non-observance of the aforesaid, to be held guilty of a capital crime or in any other way to be an enemy, or to undergo any punishment by reason thereof. We do also decide, that all letters made as to the aforesaid provisions, and by reason thereof, shall be null and void, and do further ordain that the same shall be restored by the Barons unto the King of England, and duly returned. We do also say and ordain, that all castles which have been delivered for safe custody, or by reason of the aforesaid, and which are still withheld, shall, by the said Barons unto the King be freely restored, by the said King to be held, in such manner as, before the time of the aforesaid provisions, he was wont to hold the same. We do also say and ordain, that it shall be lawful unto the same King, freely to appoint, depose, institute, and remove, the Chief Justiciar, Chancellor, Treasurer, Minor Justiciars, Sheriffs, and all other ministers and officials of his realm and his household whomsoever, at his own free will, in such manner as, before the time aforesaid, he was wont. Also, we do revoke and quash the statute made, to the effect that the realm of England shall in future be governed by natives, as also that aliens shall depart therefrom, not to return, those only excepted whose stay the faithful subjects of the realm should in common allow. We do ordain by our award, that it shall be lawful for aliens to remain in security within the said realm, and that the said King shall be at liberty to call aliens to his counsel, such as he shall deem to him to be advantageous and trustworthy, in such manner as before the time aforesaid he might do. Also, we do say and do ordain, that the said King shall have full power and free rule within his realm and the appurtenances thereof; and that he shall be in the same position and with the same plenary power, in all things and by all things, that he was in before the time aforesaid. We further are unwilling, nor by this present ordinance do we intend, in any way to derogate from the royal privileges, charters, liberties, statutes, or praiseworthy customs, of the realm of England, which before the time aforesaid existed. We do also ordain, that the said King shall withhold and remit all rancour as towards the said Barons, which against them he may entertain by reason of the premises, and the Barons also in like manner; and that no person shall in future, himself or by any other, in any way aggrieve or offend another by reason of the premises, which unto us by way of compromise have been referred."
After this, his lordship the King returned to England from the parts beyond sea. (fn. 2)
The Barons however were not content with the award of the said King of France, but immediately levied war upon Roger de Mortimer in the Marches of Wales; and levelled all his castles, pillaged his lands, and burnt his manors and villas; Sir Edward also, on coming to his succour with a strong force, was nearly taken prisoner. At this time also, another Parliament was held at Oxford between his lordship the King and the Barons aforesaid. The Londoners however, and the Barons of the Cinque Ports, and nearly all the middle class of people throughout the kingdom of England, who indeed had not joined in the reference to the King of France, wholly declined his award.
Wherefore, the Londoners appointed one of their number, Thomas de Piwelesdone by name, to be their Constable, and as Marshal, Stephen Buckerel, at whose summons, upon hearing the great bell of Saint Paul's, all the people of the City were to sally forth, and not otherwise; being prepared as well by night as by day, [and] well armed, to follow the standards of the said Constable and Marshal wheresoever they might think proper to lead them. After this, Hugh le Despenser, the Justiciar, who then had charge of the Tower, with a countless multitude of Londoners, went forth from the City, following the standards of the aforesaid Constable and Marshal; none of them knowing whither they were going, or what they were to do. Being led however as far as (fn. 3) Ystleworthe, they there laid waste and ravaged with fire the manor of the King of Almaine, and plundered all the property there found, and broke down and burned his mills ane fish-preserves, observing no truce, at the very time that the said Parliament was in existence; And this was the beginning of woes, and the source of that deadly war, through which so many manors were committed to the flames, so many men, rich and poor, were plundered, and so many thousands of persons lost their lives.
The Parliament however being concluded without any agreement being arrived at, the Earl of Leicester came to London, and many of the Barons with him. Immediately upon this, his lordship the King and Sir Edward, with a strong force, fought at Norhamptone, and took that place, and the Castle there as well, as also Peter de Montfort, and Simon, son of the Earl before-mentioned, and all the Barons there found, together with all their harness; they also seized all the burgesses, the whole of whom the King caused to be kept in safe custody. At this time, the Barons and Londoners entered into a league by written instrument and by oath, all in fact of twelve years of age and upwards; to the effect that they would stand together against all men, saving however their fealty to their lord the King.
Afterwards, in the week before Palm Sunday, the (fn. 4) Jewry in London was destroyed, and all the property of the Jews carried off; as many of them as were found, being stripped naked, despoiled, and afterwards murdered by night in sections, to the number, that is to say, of more than five hundred. And as for those who survived, they were saved by the Justiciars and the Mayor, having been sent to the Tower before the slaughter took place; and then too, the Chest of (fn. 5) Chirographs was sent to the Tower for safe custody. Then also, as well as before, much money belonging to the men of Italy and of Quercy, which had been deposited in the Priories and Abbeys about London for safe custody, was dragged forth and carried off to London. Afterwards, in the week before Easter, the Barons and the Londoners attacked Rochester and took it, and laying siege to the Castle there, took the (fn. 6) bailey; but, on hearing news of the King's approach, they withdrew and returned to London in Easter week. After this, on the Feast of Saint John Port Latin [6 May], the Barons and Londoners went forth from the City to meet his said lordship the King, who was then in the neighbourhood of (fn. 7) Liawes, with a very great force. Making a halt there, the Barons sent letters to his lordship the King, and the King sent them letters of his in answer; and in like manner the King of Almaine and Sir Edward—which letters see written on the reverse of this leaf.—On the ninth day after that day, which fell on a Wednesday, very early in the morning, the contending parties met without the town of Liawes; and at the first onset, the greater part of the Londoners, horse and foot, as well as certain knights and Barons, took to flight towards London. The [other] Barons however, and those who remained, fought with the King's army until nightfall, and after a countless multitude on either side had been slain, the Barons gained the victory; and took the town of Liawes. The King of Almaine also was taken, and many other Earls and Barons either surrendered themselves or were slain. In this conflict, apart from the Kings and Sir Edward, five-and twenty Barons, bearing banners, were either taken or slain; certain Barons, however, of the King's army took to flight and escaped.
Be it remarked, that on the same night, between the King and the Barons it was provided and ordained, that the Provisions of Oxford should stand unshaken, and that if aught in them should need correction, the same should be duly corrected by four of the most noble men of England, Bishops or persons of rank; and that if any dissension should arise between them, so much so that they could in no way come to an agreement thereon, they should then abide by the decision of the Count of Anjou and the Duke of Burgundy; if indeed the greater part of the Barons should be willing to agree thereto. And that they would faithfully observe this provision, the two Kings before-mentioned gave their eldest sons, as hostages and prisoners, unto the Barons; and it was determined that a Parliament should be held in London at the Feast of (fn. 8) Pentecost then next ensuing; an arrangement which was never carried into effect.
Afterwards, on the Tuesday before Ascension Day, the peace between the King and the Barons was proclaimed in London, and on the morrow the army of the Barons came to London, and his lordship the King with his own people; as also the King of Almaine and many prisoners, who had been taken in the aforesaid battle; Sir Edward and Sir Henry of Almaine, who were hostages, as already stated, being kept in custody in Dover Castle. The King of Almaine however, and many other prisoners, were put in the Tower of London. As to his lordship the King, he was lodged at Saint Paul's, when many members of his household were removed from him; added to which, nothing was allowed to him or to the King of Almaine until they had delivered their hostages unto the Barons.
(fn. 9)Copy of the Letters which the Barons sent to his lordship the King, before the Battle before-mentioned, and of the Letters which the said King, in return, sent to them; as also, of the Letters which the King of Almaine sent to the Barons in return.
"To their most excellent Lord, Henry, by the grace of God, the illustrious King of England, Lord of Ireland, and Duke of Acquitaine, the Barons and other his faithful subjects, desiring to observe their oath and the fealty that is due unto God and to him, health and devoted service, with all reverence and honour. Whereas by many proofs it is evident, that certain persons about you have suggested unto your lordship many falsehoods as to ourselves, and that too, intending as great evils as they may, not only unto ourselves but also unto you and the whole of your realm; be it known unto your Excellency, that it has been our wish, with the fealty which unto you we owe, to maintain the safety and security of your person with all our might; it being our purpose, to the utmost of our power, to aggrieve not only our own enemies, but also yours as well, and those of all your realm. Be pleased therefore, not to believe them as to the matters aforesaid; for we shall always be found to be faithful unto you. And we, the Earl of Leicester and Gilbert de Clare, at the prayer of the others, for us and for them, here present, have hereto set our seals."
"Henry, by the grace of God, etc., to Simon de Montfort and Gilbert de Clare, and their accomplices. Whereas by the war and general commotion in our realm, which by you have lately been raised, as also by the conflagrations and other enormous acts of devastation, it is manifestly evident that you do not regard the fealty that from you is due unto us, nor do care in any way for the safety of our person; seeing too that you have outrageously aggrieved the nobles and other our faithful subjects, who with constancy do adhere unto their fealty to us, and do, to the utmost of your power, as by your letters you have signified unto us, purpose to aggrieve them; we, considering the grievance of them to be our own grievance, and the enemies of them to be our own enemies, the more especially as our said faithful subjects, in the observance of their fealty, do faithfully and manfully aid us against your unfaithfulness, do care nothing for your assurances or for your love, but, as being our enemies, do defy you. Witness myself at Lewes, this 12th day of May, in the eightand-fortieth year of our reign."
"Richard, by the grace of God, King of the Romans, ever August, and Edward, of the illustrious King of England the first-born, and all other the Barons and nobles, who in the works of sincere fealty and devotion do testify their constant adherence unto the aforesaid King of England, to Simon de Montfort, Gilbert de Clare, and all and singular other the accomplices of their perfidy. From your letters which you have sent unto the illustrious King of England, our most dear lord, we have heard that we by you are defied; although this your verbal defiance has already been sufficiently proved unto us by fact of your hostility, in the destruction by fire of our property and the laying waste of our possessions. We therefore do wish you to know that you, as public enemies by enemies, are defied by all and singular of us; and that from this time forward we will, with all our mind and our strength, wheresoever we shall have the means of so doing, do our utmost to inflict injury alike upon your persons and your possessions. And further, whereas you do falsely impute unto us, that we do give neither faithful nor good counsel unto our said King, you do say that which is not the truth. And if you, Sir Simon de Montfort, or Gilbert de Clare, do wish to assert that same in the Court of the said King, we are ready to procure for you a safe-conduct to come unto the said Court, and by another, your peer in nobility and in birth, to make proof of our innocence herein, and, as being a perfidious traitor, the falsehood of yourself. We all are content with the seals of the Lords aforesaid, that is to say, of the King of the Romans, and Sir Edward. Given at Lewes, this twelfth day of May."
Then the Bishops and Barons held a Parliament, in which it was ordained, as is set forth in the letters of his lordship the King, which he himself made, and sealed with his seal; which letters begin as follows:—
"For the reformation of the present state of the realm, there shall be chosen three of the most discreet persons of the realm, etc." (fn. 10)
At the same time provision was made as to depredators, as well clerical as lay, how proceedings were to be taken against them. Also, as to clerks who have borne arms in the war, or in the company of robbers. Also, as to clerks and laymen who have carried off ecclesiastical property in one diocese, and have benefices or domiciles in another; when they cannot be reached with citation where they have perpetrated their offences. Also, as to clerks and laymen who have made clerks captive.
(fn. 11) To the first, answer was made; if any one should think proper to act otherwise [than right], let due course of law be observed; but where rapine has been committed upon a church, either by clerk or layman, or at their moving, or where violence has been committed upon an ecclesiastical person by a person ecclesiastical or lay, or upon a layman by a clerk; because through fear of greater peril, injuries committed upon churches, as also those of a private nature, might, after many such wrongful deeds had been left unpunished, possibly be checked through the risk of such peril; (fn. 12) I do deem it in such cases to be agreeable and expedient, that the Bishop shall in his diocese cause inquisition to be made thereon, as to who, from whom, what, how much, and from what place, has with violence stripped and despoiled the house; and further, that the names being specified, the persons shall be lawfully cited, and in the case of notorious and manifest acts, after monition has issued, condemnation shall follow. But in secret cases where there is denial, purgation is to be awarded. And because a multitude is implicated herein, it is expedient, I think, that there should be some little tending to severity.
To the second, answer was made; that clerks, bearing arms in actual conflict, if on the side of those who were supporting justice and repelling violence, shall for a time be suspended from office, and, after the period of such suspension shall have expired, may be restored to office; provided however they have struck or wounded no one in the said conflict. From this you may form a judgment what I think as to other like cases. But where such persons have leagued themselves with robbers or depredators, and have been partakers in robbing or depredation, especially of churches and ecclesiastics, they must incur the peril of their order, and may by strict right be deprived of their benefices: against such persons, when accused, proceedings must be taken by way of inquisition, as already stated.
To the third, answer was made; that when misdoers betake themselves to other parts, so that citations cannot reach them there, an edict must be publicly put forth by the Bishop, to the effect that the same Bishop, at a certain time and place, will make inquisition as to such acts of rapine and such depredators; and notice must be given to all who are in any way interested, that they may be present at such inquisition, if they shall deem it expedient. And whoever shall be found guilty, shall by the Bishop of the place in which he has committed the offence, be excommunicated, and execution of such sentence shall be demanded of the Bishop in whose territory he has domicile or benefice. And if any person shall wish to bring such offender to trial, the Bishop of the place in which the offence was committed, must cite the Bishop in whose diocese he has benefice or domicile, who in such case must do for his peer whatever is necessary.
To the fourth, answer was made; that those who make clerks captive are by the Canon rendered excommunicate, and after satisfaction has been made for the injuries committed, and the costs and damages, they must be sent for absolution to the Apostolic See; and if they shall have extorted anything by way of ransom, the same shall be restored, simply or twofold, according to the award of the Bishop. Also, in this case, procedure may be had by way of action, if there be any one who may wish to proceed by inquisition, in case the injured parties have shown a purpose to act through the influence of fear, or through slothfulness, or collusion.— This ordinance was not at that season carried into effect.
At this season, because news came that through the Queen's contrivance, and that of Peter de (fn. 13) Sauveie, John Earl of Warenne, Hugh Bigot,. William de Valence, John Maunsell, and others, who were then in the parts beyond the sea, certain aliens intended to invade the kingdom of England by force of arms, a Writ of his lordship the King was sent to the Sheriffs of England, to the effect under-written:—
"Henry, by the grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, and Duke of Acquitaine, to the Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots, Priors, Earls, Barons, Sheriffs, Knights, freemen, and all the commons, of the County of Essex, greeting. Whereas we have heard for certain, that a great multitude of aliens, collecting ships from every quarter, are making preparations to enter our realm by force of arms, to the confusion and the everlasting disherison of us, and of all and singular persons in this realm, unless indeed we shall deem it proper to meet them with a strong hand, we do command you, in virtue of the fealty in which unto us you are bound, and do strictly enjoin, that manfully and strenuously you do forthwith equip with horses and with arms, all knights-and freeholders who shall thereunto suffice ; that so, you be with us at London, with all your array, on the Sunday next after the Feast of Saint Peter's Chains [1 August], to proceed with us forthwith against such aliens, in defence by us and by you of all this realm. And you, the Sheriff, taking with you the (fn. 14) Keeper of the Peace of the same County, are to give notice unto the Bishops, Abbots, Priors, Barons, and all others who owe service unto us, and are strictly to enjoin on our behalf, by virtue of the fealty and the homage in which unto us they are bound, and as they love themselves, their lands and tenements, that each one of them do come, not only with the military service which unto us is due, but with all the might and power that he may, or else send unto us upon that day such horses, and arms, and chosen foot-soldiers, as he shall be able; that so by their aid we may be enabled the more efficiently to meet this peril. And let no one, by reason of the shortness of this notice, and because that it does not contain a reasonable time of summons, excuse himself; seeing that urgent necessity does not allow of postponement to a future day; nor is it our intention or our wish, that even this shall be drawn into a precedent, to the prejudice of others. And further, from every vill, upon the same day, you are to summon eight, six, or four at the least, according to the size of such vill, of the best and most able foot-soldiers, well provided with befitting array, that is to say, with lances, bows and arrows, swords, arbalests, and axes, and have them provided therewith at the common expense for forty days. In the case also of cities, in like manner, castles, and boroughs, where there is a greater multitude of men, according to the extent and means of every such place, omit not, in manner aforesaid, to send as well foot as horse in such numbers as, taking into consideration the nature of the business you,shall think proper to provide. Nor is any one to make allegation of the approaching time of harvest, or of his being occupied with his family affairs of any other kind, seeing that it is more safe and more advantageous, with security to the person, to be in goods in some small measure damnified, than, with total loss of land and of goods, by the impious hands of those who, thirsting for your blood, will spare neither sex nor age, if they can prevail, to be delivered up to the sufferings of a cruel death. This our mandate therefore you are to have published throughout your County in form aforesaid, and notice thereof given unto each, that, as they love our honour and that of our land and their own lives, and as they would avoid their own disherison and the everlasting disherison of their posterity, they hasten to make preparations as manfully and as efficiently as they may; that so, all excuses laid aside, at the very latest, on the Sunday next after the Feast of Saint Peter's Chains [1 August] they appear at the place aforesaid. And you are to know, that if you shall find any persons to hold this mandate in contempt, or to be in reference thereto negligent and remiss, we shall heavily exact from their persons and their property for the same; in such manner as against those whose fault it will not be, if we and our realm are delivered over to confusion and to everlasting disherison. In testimony whereof, we have caused these our letters patent to be written. Witness myself, at Saint Paul's, London, this 7th day of July, in the eight-and-fortieth year of our reign."
After this, in obedience to the precept of the before-stated writ, countless multitudes of horse and foot gathered together from all the Counties of England; and, well provided with arms, set out for the seacoast, to defend the realm against aliens; and in like manner, numberless ships of the Cinque Ports and other places put to sea with crews well-armed, for the purpose of resisting the said aliens with a strong hand.
Afterwards, about the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Mary [15 August], his lordship the King and the Barons set out for Dover, where there was a conference held between envoys sent by the King and the Barons of England on the one hand, and the aliens whom the Queen of England, John Maunsell, Peter de Sauveie, and their accomplices had induced, at a vast outlay, to make a descent upon England.
Afterwards, about the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, [14 September], Sir Hugh le Despenser, Justiciar of England, Peter de Montfort, and other nobles, the Bishop of London, the Bishop of Worcester, and other Bishops, crossed over for the purpose of arranging and confirming a treaty of peace.