Edward III: September 1334

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

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1334 September

Introduction September 1334


19 September - 23 September

For the writs of summons see RDP , iv, 427-30; CCR 1333-37 , 349-50.

(There is no surviving roll for this parliament.)

England's relations with France and events in Scotland dominated the period between the parliaments of February and September 1334. At the end of April 1334 an embassy consisting of the bishop of Winchester, William Montagu, William Clinton, the Chief Justice Sir Geoffrey le Scrope, and an expert clerk John of Shoreditch was sent to France to continue negotiations over Aquitaine and to make plans for the crusade. The negotiations went well and produced a draft treaty. Almost simultaneously news reached the French court that David II of Scotland and his court had arrived in Normandy as exiles from Scotland. Philip VI of France had been encouraging David II to come to France for several months past and had no choice but to assist his ally, who was sent for refuge to Château Gaillard in the Seine valley. Philip, who was already under pressure to give the Scots military assistance against Edward Balliol and his English allies, now realised that the Scots would have to be included in any treaty between France and England. The English envoys immediately rejected this proposal. Edward III had too much to lose by abandoning Edward Balliol who on 12 June 1334 ceded Berwick and other towns and castles in the March of Scotland to England. For his part Philip VI, who had been prepared to make a reasonable settlement of his differences with Edward III over Aquitaine, had now added a precondition which made such a settlement almost impossible. From now on Edward III and Philip VI deeply distrusted one another: the slide into war had begun. (fn. f1334sint-1)

Writs of summons were issued at Reading on 24 July 1334 for the holding of a parliament at Westminster on 23 September 1334. The writs stated that the king had proposed the holding of a parliament. The writs stated that the king wished to have a 'colloquium et tractatum' with those in attendance; the proposed assembly was described as a parliament both in the writs and in the marginal note on the Close Roll.

The writs of summons gave the purpose of the parliament as 'various arduous affairs touching the king and the state of the realm and of his other lands.'

Writs of summons were sent to the two archbishops, eighteen bishops (including the four Welsh bishops), twenty-eight abbots, three priors; twelve earls (Norfolk, Cornwall, Lancaster, Surrey, Richmond, Arundel, Oxford, Hereford, Warwick; and three earls from Scotland, Atholl, Angus, and Buchan), sixty barons; twenty-three royal judges and clerks; and for the election of representatives the knights, burgesses, and lower clergy.

By the time that parliament opened on 19 September 1334 the situation in Scotland had deteriorated dramatically. Supporters of the exiled David II had risen in insurrection in July, and by the middle of August the revolt had spread to almost all parts of Scotland. For a second time Edward Balliol was forced to flee his kingdom, this time to Berwick. The shocking news of Balliol's flight arrived while parliament was in session and led to the grant of a subsidy, the first to be approved since September 1332. Under intense pressure from the king's ministers, the two provinces of the Church also granted a subsidy shortly after the parliament ended. Edward III also began to increase the scale of his borrowing from the Italian banking company, the Bardi, using receipts from the customs duties as collateral. Edward now gathered his army and in November 1334 invaded Scotland once again. (fn. f1334sint-2)

The grant of a fifteenth and a tenth for the defence of the realm against the Scots and 'other great matters' was made on the last day of the parliament, 23 September 1334. 'The sums agreed (in the assessment made in 1334) became the basis of a standardized fifteenth and tenth that, while granted periodically as extraordinary taxation, continued to be levied for 300 years.' 'This new assessment increased the overall yield, and the quota system had other advantages as well.' As G.L. Harriss has pointed out, 'any further tendency of the lay subsidy to shrink was counteracted by stabilising the quota for each county and each vill at a slightly higher figure than the preceding tax of 1332. This avoided delay in negotiating and collecting the tax, and was a further step towards familiarizing the realm with the need for recurrent taxation. It may also have helped to shift the burden rather more onto the shoulders of the peasantry.' (fn. f1334sint-3)

Other matters were also discussed during the parliament. It was agreed that Edward III's existing plans to go on crusade should be delayed for a further five years, but these plans were contingent on an agreement with France over Aquitaine and, since the summer of 1334, over Scotland. It was agreed to send another embassy to Paris. (fn. f1334sint-4)

There is no record of any commune petitions being lodged at this parliament, and there are no statutes associated with it. It is however possible that some individual petitions were submitted during one or other of the parliaments held in March and September 1334. See PROME , Appendix of Unedited Petitions, 1307 - 1337 , Petitions in Parliament, 8 Edward III (1334-35) , Transcripts of sixty-eight petitions from a manuscript belonging to Sir Matthew Hale , and elsewhere in the Appendix, using the search engine.


  • f1334sint-1. Sumption, The Hundred Years' War , I, 135-7; Haines, Archbishop John Stratford , 233-5.
  • f1334sint-2. Sumption, The Hundred Years' War , I, 139-41; Haines, Archbishop John Stratford , 236-7.
  • f1334sint-3. Lay Taxes , 38; Harriss, King, Parliament and Public Finance , 85.
  • f1334sint-4. Haines, Archbishop John Stratford , 236-7.