Edward II: May 1319

Parliament Rolls of Medieval England. Originally published by Boydell, Woodbridge, 2005.

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1319 May

Introduction 1319


6 May - 25 May

For the writs of summons see PW, II, ii, 197-214

(Records of the parliament: there are two separate records for this parliament.)

1. SC 9/22: Parliament Roll: previously edited in Cole, Documents Illustrative of English History in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries , 47-54. (fn. f1319int-1)

2. C 49/4/25: a single membrane containing petitions presented at the May 1319 parliament. It may originally have been part of a duplicate of SC 9/22. The material in C 49/4/25 does not however appear in SC 9/22 in its present form. Previously edited in R & S , 81-5.

1. SC 9/22 is a roll of two unnumbered membranes, sewn together at the top. Membrane 1 is attached to a modern parchment wrapper with the legend: '12 E2. Copied and printed by the record commission. [About 3 letters illegible here.] H. Cole.' There is also a contemporary identification at the foot of the dorse of membrane 1: 'Rotulus parliamenti convocati apud Ebor' a die Pasche in unum mensem anno regni regis Edwardi filii regis Edwardi duodecimo'. The membranes are both written in a neat official hand, but in different inks and apparently by different scribes. There are small marks in the margin against certain items on both membranes: apparently to call attention to them. The general condition of the manuscript is good. Membrane 1 is 685 mm long and approximately 245 mm broad. The text occupies the recto only. The dorse of membrane 1 is blank, except for the heading 'The roll of the parliament summoned at York one month after Easter in the twelfth year of the reign of King Edward, the son of King Edward.'Membrane 2 is 640 mm long, with a width that varies between 225 mm and 245 mm. The text occupies both sides. There is a small round hole in the centre, about 35 mm from the foot, which looks as though it has been made deliberately.

C 49/4/25 is a membrane 272 mm broad and 288 mm long, to which is sewn a slip of parchment which measures 170 mm by 65 mm. The writing is on the recto only of both and is in a neat official hand, the work (probably) of two different scribes.

The political settlement of 1318 was apparently working at least until the time of the York parliament of May 1319. There is some evidence that the standing council appointed at York was meeting and that its membership changed according to plan. The only sign of a representative of Lancaster is the presence of his brother Henry in early February 1319, but this evidence is too slight to conclude that Lancaster was not represented. There were however outstanding issues still unresolved. Although Edward II's favourites had left court at the time of the York parliament of October 1318, there was still the possibility that they might return; while Hugh Despenser the Younger, the husband of one of one of the heiresses to the Gloucester earldom, was still at court where his position as chamberlain of the household had been confirmed in parliament. There was also the matter of Lancaster's claim to appoint the steward of the household which had been shelved in 1318. External events were also threatening. In April 1318 the Scots had taken the strategic border town of Berwick-on-Tweed, and were raiding the north of England. As the author of the Vita Edwardi Secundi remarked, 'the king could make no headway against the Scots without the help of the Earl of Lancaster'. The one bright spot was the end of the Scottish threat to the lordship of Ireland, with the defeat and death of Robert Bruce's brother Edward at Faughart near Dundalk on 14 October 1318. (fn. f1319int-2)

Prior to the 1319 parliament two assemblies of merchants had been summoned before the king's council to discuss the wool staple. The first met in London on 20 January 1319, having been summoned on 22 November 1318; the second met at Westminster 24 April 1319, having been summoned on 8-9 March. The purpose of the discussions was apparently to consider whether to move the staple from St. Omer, in territory obedient to the French crown, where it had been established since 1314, to Bruges in the county of Flanders, which was hostile to France. Bruges would have suited the interests of the merchants better than St. Omer, but the interests of good relations between England and France won the day and the staple remained where it was. An alternative suggestion, which was raised at the Westminster meeting in April, was for the creation of a staple town or towns in England itself. But opinion among the merchants was apparently divided and no general resolution was reached. The demand for an English staple town was however to be one of the issues raised in the list of baronial grievances in 1321. (fn. f1319int-3)

The writs of summons were issued at York on 20 March 1319 for a parliament to meet at York on 6 May 1319. The writs say that the king has proposed the holding of 'parliamentum nostrum' to have a 'colloquium and tractatum' with those attending. A marginal note on the Close Roll also describes the intended meeting as a parliament.

Writs of summons were issued on 20 March 1319 to the two archbishops, eighteen bishops (including the four Welsh bishops), fifty abbots, and five priors; nine earls (Lancaster, Norfolk, Surrey, Pembroke, Hereford, Arundel, Oxford, the earl of Angus from Scotland, and the earl of Richmond), seventy-nine barons; twenty-five royal judges and clerks; and for the election of representatives of the knights of the shire and burgesses, and of the lower clergy.

The writs of summons issued on 20 March gave the purpose of the parliament as 'various arduous affairs touching the king and the state of the kingdom.'

The York parliament of May 1319 was in most respects a continuation of the York parliament of October 1318. The petition lodged in the previous parliament by Hugh Audley and his wife Margaret, the widow of Gaveston, in which they claimed the earldom of Cornwall as Margaret's inheritance, was considered. 'After a careful discussion of that petition in full parliament, and because record was borne there, both by the prelates and by the earls, barons and the whole community of the realm', it was decided that the request could not be granted since all grants made by the king to Gaveston had been revoked. (fn. f1319int-4)

Another important issue which had first been raised in the previous parliament was Lancaster's claim to appoint the steward of the royal household. This was a consequence of a much bigger claim by Lancaster to hold the office of Steward of the kingdom, as the successor of Simon de Montfort earl of Leicester. Lancaster's right to the office had been recognised by the king in 1308, but did not become a major political issue until September 1317 when Lancaster claimed that, in his capacity as Steward, he should look to the best interests of the kingdom and that, in consequence, he should first be notified by the king if he wished to take up arms against anyone. At the time this claim had served to justify Lancaster's refusal to co-operate in a campaign against the Scots. Consideration of his claim had been postponed during the 1318 parliament by a promise to search the records of the exchequer, chancery, and wardrobe and to report back at Easter. During that parliament Lancaster had tried to use his position as Steward to claim the right to approve the appointment of Badlesmere as steward of the royal household. Now in 1319 he went a stage further and claimed that he himself should hold office as steward of the household. Lancaster was in attendance at York with many of his retainers, but whether this was meant to be a show of force is not clear. If conceded, this would have given a position of control and influence over many of the king's actions. As in the previous parliament, a search of the records was ordered, but no conclusion was reached, and it appears that for the moment Lancaster allowed his claim to drop. (fn. f1319int-5)

The 1319 parliament also confirmed final details of a territorial settlement between Lancaster and the earl of Surrey, which had been made in the autumn of 1318 independently of the negotiations at Leake and in the York parliament. This agreement was imposed on Surrey as punishment for his abduction of Lancaster's estranged wife in 1317. Under its terms Lancaster gained the lordships of Bromfield and Yale in the Welsh March and the castles of Conisborough and Sandal and other lands in Yorkshire. The effect was to make Lancaster a major power in the March, where he already held the lordship of Denbigh, and greatly to strengthen his position in the West Riding of Yorkshire, in the vicinity of his powerbase at Pontefract. In the process the earl of Surrey had been abandoned to his fate by the king, to whom he had remained loyal since the death of Gaveston in 1312. (fn. f1319int-6)

It was implicit in the various agreements reached with Lancaster that he would co-operate in a new military campaign against the Scots. This would be the first since the disastrous campaign of 1314 and was now extremely urgent. John de Bermingham, the victor over the Scottish army in Ireland in October 1318, was rewarded on 12 May by the creation of the earldom of Louth. Orders for a campaign in Scotland to start on 10 June 1319 had already been issued in November 11318, during the previous parliament. On 22 May 1319, three days before the end of parliament, the date was postponed until 22 July, the objective being the recapture of Berwick. Orders were issued for the distraint of knighthood and for the levying of £20 fines on all those who did not serve. Purveyance on a large scale was organised in twenty-six English counties and included the collection of grain supplies, which the magnates had agreed at York to loan to the king in aid of the war. The exchequer was also ordered to move from Westminster to York. (fn. f1319int-7)

Before the end of the parliament a grant of taxation in aid of the Scottish war was made by the laity. It took the form of an eighteenth of the value of moveable goods in townships (i.e., vills), excluding the clergy but including their villeins; and a twelfth to be levied on moveable goods in cities and boroughs. The assessment of the eighteenth was to be made by men who had not previously done so, because there had been complaint in parliament that those earlier assessors and their clerks had embezzled much of the money collected. A scutage was also ordered on 28 May 1319 in aid of the Scottish campaign. Six scutages (one of them double) were now being collected simultaneously, without any agreement between the king and magnates on the basis of collection. There was much resistance, which continued until Edward III finally pardoned arrears of all scutages in 1340. (fn. f1319int-8)

The records of the 1319 parliament (SC 9/22 and C 49/4/25) consist entirely of petitions, including (in SC 9/22) the petitions of the earl of Lancaster on the office of Steward and of Hugh Audley on the earldom of Cornwall mentioned above, and a petition of the community of the realm complaining that commissions of oyer and terminer were being issued too frequently. C 49/4/25 includes petitions by the dean and chapter of Chichester and twelve other clergy of the diocese against the assessment of an ecclesiastical tenth.


  • f1319int-1. The Vetus Codex, C.153/1, f.155r:, contains a list of the major items of business which were transacted in the 1319 parliament and which are recorded on SC 9/22:De parliamento apud Ebor' a die Pasch' in unum mensem anno duodecimo.cap.i. Processus inter regem et Johannem de Hastyng'.ii Peticio Hugonis de Audeleye et iudicium super eadem.iii. Peticio Willelmi de Souche. The author of the Vetus Codex followed a similar procedure in relation to the York parliament of October 1318. The roll of the 1320 parliament was transcribed in the Vetus Codex (see the Parliament of 1320), and it is possible that it was also intended eventually to transcribe the rolls of the 1318 and 1319 parliaments.
  • f1319int-2. Phillips, Aymer de Valence , 177-80; Maddicott, Thomas of Lancaster , 237-40.
  • f1319int-3. PW , II (II), 196; EHR , XXIX, 94-7; Calendar of Letter-Books of London: Letter-Book E , 105; Tout, Place of the Reign of Edward II , 226-33; Maddicott, Thomas of Lancaster , 277-8.
  • f1319int-4. Maddicott, Thomas of Lancaster , 240; SC 9/ 22, item 7.
  • f1319int-5. Phillips, Aymer de Valence , 183; Maddicott, Thomas of Lancaster , 208, 233, 241-3.
  • f1319int-6. Phillips, Aymer de Valence , 157, 161, 170-1, 183; Maddicott, Thomas of Lancaster , 234-7.
  • f1319int-7. Phillips, Aymer de Valence , 183-4; Maddicott, Thomas of Lancaster , 243-4.
  • f1319int-8. Lay Taxes , 34-5; Phillips, Aymer de Valence , 184; Maddicott, Thomas of Lancaster , 243-4.