Additions to the Chronicles: The History of Arnald Fitz-themar

Chronicles of the Mayors and Sheriffs of London 1188-1274. Originally published by Trübner, London, 1863.

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'Additions to the Chronicles: The History of Arnald Fitz-themar', in Chronicles of the Mayors and Sheriffs of London 1188-1274, (London, 1863) pp. 201-208. British History Online [accessed 24 April 2024]

The History of Arnald Fitz-themar

The History of Arnald Fitz-Thedmar.

There was a certain man dwelling in the city of Cologne, Arnald by name, and surnamed "de Grevingge," who had a wife, a native of the same city, whose name was Ode. Their life, after the manner of the Christian religion, was simple and upright before God and with man. Living for many years in wedlock a pious and righteous life, they had remained without offspring. Hearing however by report how many and great miracles God had wrought in England for the Blessed Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury, who at that period had recently suffered martyrdom at the hands of impious men, they made a vow that they would set out for England, for the purpose of visiting the sepulchre of the said martyr.

Accordingly setting out, after they had crossed the sea, they came to Canterbury, where the body of the said martyr reposes, and there offering up their adorations to the Saint, they made a vow that if the Lord should grant offspring unto them, they would devote it to the service of the Lord; and that if it should prove of the male sex, they would call him "Thomas," after the martyr's name, and would make him a monk, that so in the same church, and in the same garb of religion, he might serve God and the Blessed Martyr all the days of his life. When all this had been done, they were unwilling to return home before they had visited London, of which city, so noble and so famous, they had heard the fame in their own land. Accordingly, coming to London, they took up their abode there; and after they had made a stay of some time, the woman conceived; whereupon the husband, on learning that his wife had so conceived, was unwilling to return home until after her delivery, by reason of the peril that might befall her.

The time of her delivery having now arrived, she brought forth a son, and his name was called "Thomas," in manner as his parents had vowed. After this, by reason of the weak state of the infant, they continued their stay in London, without returning home, until she had again conceived and been delivered of a daughter, who was named "Juliana." In the meantime however, the mother of the before-named Ode, who was most tenderly beloved by her and her husband, even more than any others of their acquaintances, both friends and kinsfolk, departed this life; by reason whereof, they never cared to return to their own land, but, buying a house in the City of London, were made citizens thereof. Thomas, their son, however, did not become a monk, as his parents had vowed; but at the time when Richard, King of England, and Philip, King of France, with a countless multitude of Crusaders, set out for the Holy Land, which Saladin had seized, and when the Earl of Flanders, Baldwin by name, had gone upon the Crusade and had taken possession of Constantinople by force of arms, and been made Emperor thereof, the same Thomas joined the army of the said Earl as a Crusader. Upon reaching Constantinople however, he there departed this life.

As to his sister Juliana, she was married to a certain man of Almaine, "Thedmar" by name, a native of the city of Bremen. Living in wedlock a pious and righteous life, they had eleven children, six daughters namely, and five sons. Of these daughters, two died before arriving at marriageable years, while the other four were very advantageously married in the City of London; and from them sprang a numerous progeny, namely, sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, and other kinsfolk, more than I can enumerate. As to the five sons of the aforesaid Thedmar and Juliana, one died under age, and three others when they had reached the age of twenty-four years. The fifth son however, who, after his grandfather, was called "Arnald," lived long after the death of all his brothers and sisters.

It is of what happened in reference to him that I purpose here to write; namely, that while his mother was still pregnant of him she had a dream to the following effect.—In a vision, she thought that the Prior and Brethren of the Hospital of (fn. 1) Jerusalem, without London, sent for a log of wood which was lying upon the fire in her house, as the custom is in the houses of the citizens, and that accordingly the porters carried it out of the house. After this, about the (fn. 2) ninth hour of the day the same porters brought a slab of marble, which had been sent to the woman's husband by the Prior and Brethren aforesaid, and then departed. Immediately after which, as it appeared to her, the porters before-mentioned brought back the log of wood, and told her that the log must be laid upon the fire as long as it would last, and that after it was wholly consumed, the marble slab must be substituted in its place.

A certain skilful man thus expounded this dream, and said to the woman as follows:—"The log of wood signifies your husband, and the slab of marble the son who shall be born of you. The circumstance that the log of wood was not in the house when the slab of marble was sent thither about the ninth hour, signifies that your husband will not be at home, when your son is born; whose birth will take place at the ninth hour of the day. The log of wood being afterwards brought back to be placed upon the fire, signifies that immediately after your son is born, your husband will return home, and will continue to be master of this house all the days of his life, and after him your son will succeed by right of inheritance to the house aforesaid." And so it happened. For the woman's husband was not in the City, when she was seized with the pains of labour; but had occasion to be staying away from the City until after his wife had been delivered. But immediately after the child's birth, which took place about the ninth hour, he came home; and afterwards remained there as master of the house all the days of his life. After his death, his son Arnald, before-mentioned, came into possession of the house by right of inheritance.

As to the difference however that there is between a log of wood and a slab of marble, the expounder of the dream on that occasion gave no explanation, and this matter may be known to God only. This Arnald was born in the year of Our Lord 1201, on the Vigil of Saint Laurence [10 August], at the ninth hour of the day.

Be it remembered, that after the commotions in the kingdom of England in the time of the Earl of Leicester, the citizens made fine with his lordship the King for the offences imputed to them, and by certain persons committed, with the view of gaining his good will, in the sum of 20000 marks sterling; and at the same time injunction was given to the citizens, with all haste to acquit the King of a great sum of money as against the King of France. They were unable however within so short a time to assess this money upon each of the citizens in equal and fair proportions; and, by provision made in reference thereto, the citizens gave, some more, some less, with the view of the more speedily paying the money to the King of France. After this, the citizens made offer, a second and a third time, to discharge themselves by instalments of the sum due to his lordship the King. Afterwards, his lordship the King being desirous to give one thousand marks to the Duke of (fn. 3) Bruneswyc, who had lately married the Queen's cousin, he sent his writ to the citizens, commanding that they should be assessed before John Waleran, the then Warden of the Tower and of the City of London, and William de Haselbech, in a sum of 1500 pounds. Accordingly, the said John and William caused a sum of more than 560 pounds to be assessed upon eight men, without inquest of their (fn. 4) venue, but by the agency of certain malevolent persons of the City whom the said John had chosen for the purpose. But after this, whatever was levied by virtue of the said writ, was in due manner by the venue assessed. It should also be known, that the whole of the assessment by the said writ did not amount to 1000 pounds sterling.

At last, provision was made by the whole of the community, that examination should be made by the men of the venue and by sworn men of the trades, as to what persons had in previous times been aggrieved, and who had been favoured: upon the result whereof, the said tallage was to be ordained. Accordingly, upon this tallage many persons were acquitted of all claim, more especially those who had been tallaged before John and William aforesaid. At the same time also, award was given as to Arnald Fitz-Thedmar, as is set forth in this leaf.—

"As to Arnald Thedmar, it was found by his venue and by certain men of the other Wards, that the same Arnald is unduly aggrieved; for that the same Arnald, as concerns the ransom of twenty thousand marks, first paid four marks and forty pence for the house which he inhabits; and after that, twenty marks by inquisition of his neighbours. Then again, an increase of five marks, and after that, one hundred marks, which were assessed before John Waleraund and William de Haselbech without award of his neighbours. After that, half a mark, and then after that, fifteen shillings upon his rent. Therefore it was awarded by the jurors that the same Arnald should stand in peace, and be acquitted of the aforesaid ransom and of the fine of one thousand marks, as towards his lordship the King of Almaine."

The above award is written in the Rolls of the City and of the Chamberlains.

After this, Walter Hervi, in the time of his Mayoralty, taking with him such of the citizens as he pleased, had brought before him all the rolls of tallages which had been previously made in the City, and endeavoured to extort from the citizens all the monies therein contained, and would not make allowance to any one of those who had been aggrieved beyond measure and beyond their means. Where a claim had been withdrawn against any one by oath of his venue and by letters of his lordship the King, he would pay no attention thereto. Accordingly at this time, demand was made of the aforesaid Arnald Thedmar, of a very large sum of money, which had been assessed upon him in an undue manner and without any oath, as already stated. However, Arnald waited upon his lordship King Henry, who was then living, and obtained from him letters directed to the Mayor and citizens, to the effect that they should not presume in any way to aggrieve him, in contravention of the enrolment by the Chamberlains of the City; and afterwards obtained letters from Sir Edward, his son, to a like effect. This Walter however, so long as he continued to be Mayor, did not cease to aggrieve Arnald, so far as demanding of him that sum of money, or part thereof.

After this, Henry le Waleis was made Mayor, who, summoning certain sworn citizens before him to examine the clear arrears of the City, again unjustly demanded of him a certain sum in reference to the exaction before-mentioned; whereupon, he again obtained letters of his lordship King Edward, which being read before the said Mayor and citizens, they gave assent to the observance of the enrolment beforementioned. (fn. 5)

Copies of Letters of his lordship King Henry, and of his lordship King Edward, his son, of which mention is made at the end of this Book.

"Henry, by the grace of God, etc. Arnald Fitz-Thedmar, your fellow-citizen, hath shown unto us, that when our citizens of London lately made fine unto us in the sum of 20000 marks, for gaining our good will, he, the same Arnald, on the pretence aforesaid, by certain persons who entertained ill-will towards him, was assessed in a certain large sum of money unjustly, without inquisition of his venue, and beyond the sufficiency of his means thereunto; of which sum of money, not without great hardship, he paid one hundred marks. Also, when after this, by our special command, in presence of our well-beloved and trusty Alan le Zuche, the then Warden of the City and Constable of our Tower of London, by the commons of all the City aforesaid strict enquiry was made, and award given, how much each citizen ought to pay in accordance with his means, as also how much each had already paid by way of contribution to the said fine; and when, in accordance with the award then made, a general tallage was assessed upon the citizens aforesaid, it was found, on inquisition made upon the oaths of reputable men of the venue of the aforesaid Arnald and others, who had been deputed to assess the said tallage, that the said Arnald had already paid beyond the limits of his means: it was therefore provided by the same reputable men, in presence of Alan aforesaid, that the said Arnald, by reason of the payment of one hundred marks aforesaid, which, as well as other thirty-two marks, which at other times had been assessed upon him, he had fully paid, should be, and ought to be, wholly acquitted as well of the-fine aforesaid as of the contribution of one thousand marks made unto our brother, the King of Almaine; he invoking thereupon the testimony of the Rolls of the City Chamberlains as to the tallage aforesaid. Being unwilling therefore that the said Arnald, who has always faithfully and constantly adhered unto us and ours, should be unduly aggrieved, we do strictly enjoin that, searching the rolls aforesaid, you do exact of the said Arnald nothing whatever beyond the award and enrolment aforesaid, nor do in future molest him by reason of the fine aforesaid; and that, if you shall have made upon him any distress by reason of such further exaction, you do wholly release the same. Witness, etc."

"Edward, by the grace of God, etc., to the Mayor and Sheriffs of London, greeting. Arnald Fitz-Thedmar, your fellow-citizen, hath shown unto us, that when our citizens of London lately made fine unto his lordship King Henry our father, in the sum of 20000 marks, for gaining the good will of the same our father, he, the same Arnald, on pretence of the fine aforesaid, etc. [as above, mutatis mutandis.]"

For all the letters aforesaid, Walter Hervi, in the time of his Mayoralty, would not desist from aggrieving the before-named Arnald, in contravention of the enrolment.

(fn. 6) After this, Henry le Waleys was made Mayor, who, together with some citizens who had been sworn to examine the arrears of all the tallages, as already mentioned, exacted of him a certain sum of money in contravention of the said enrolment; whereupon, he repaired to the Court of his lordship the King, and again obtained letters of the King, directed to the Mayor and citizens. These being read and understood, they agreed to observe the said enrolment; but still, expressed a wish that the said Arnald should aid in discharging the Queen's (fn. 7) gold and other expenses of the City. Wherefore an agreement was made between the Mayor and citizens and the said Arnald, in manner below set forth, this also being written in the Chamberlains' Roll.—

"Be it remembered, that when a certain sum of money had been demanded of Arnald Fitz-Thedmar before Sir Henry le Waleys, Mayor of London, and certain other citizens whose names are below set forth by the whole community of the City appointed and sworn to examine the arrears of all assessments and tallages in the City before made, and there had for some time been a dispute hereupon between the aforesaid Mayor and citizens and the said Arnald in reference thereto, at length the said contest between the said Mayor and citizens and the said Arnald was brought to a conclusion in form underwritten; that is to say, that it was made satisfactorily evident to the said Mayor and citizens, by the rolls of great tallage made in the time of Sir Alan la Zouche, late Warden of the said City, that the said Arnald had been wholly acquitted of the ransom of 20000 marks, and of the fine of 1000 marks to his lordship the King of Almaine, by reason of the 132 marks which at the same time he had paid, in manner as the said rolls fully record. It was also shown to them that the same Arnald had been oftentimes on other occasions aggrieved. It was therefore awarded by the said Mayor and citizens sworn thereunto, that the same Arnald, in consideration of six pounds which he then paid to them in aid of defraying the City's expenses, and of forty shillings which in the time of the Mayoralty of Sir Walter Hervi he had paid as a contribution to the Queen's gold, should be wholly acquitted of Queen's gold and of all tallages, assessments, double quarterages, twentieths, aids, loans, and expenses, in the City of London made, until the Feast of the Apostles Philip and James [1 May] in the second year of the reign of his lordship King Edward, son of King Henry; there being present the aforesaid Sir Henry, the Mayor, and the others sworn, namely, Nicholas de Wyncestre, Sheriff, Stephen de Mundene and Hugh Mutun, Chamberlains, John, Walter le Poter, John de Norhampton, Ralph le Blund, Aldermen, Ralph de la More, Ralph de Brumle, Robert Gratefige, William de Farenedon, Hugh de Duntone, Thomas Heyrun, and Godfrey le Cofrer, and others."


  • 1. I.e. St. John of Jerusalem, in Clerkenwell.
  • 2. Three in the afternoon.
  • 3. Brunswick.
  • 4. Or visuet; see p. 10 ante.
  • 5. Reference is here made in the text to a continuation of this subject at the beginning of the volume.
  • 6. This, it will be remarked, is somewhat of a repetition of what has been already stated.
  • 7. A perquisite anciently due to the Queen Consort; see p. 25 ante.