19-23 Jul 1215
RC, 213b-15, 217-17b; RLP, 149b-50b; RLC, i, 221-2; Rot.Ob., 559
24-25 Jul 1215
RC, 215b-16; RLP, 150-50b; RLC, i, 222b
25 Jul 1215
RC, 215b; RLP, 150b; RLC, i, 222b; Rot.Ob., 559-60
The chief business of this week, postponed from Wednesday 15 July, was the meeting between King and barons at Oxford. The King arrived for this, three days late, on Saturday 18 July, staying in Oxford until the following Thursday. Although well documented in the chancery rolls, this meeting goes unnoticed by the chroniclers who instead refer to a much less well-documented conference, also held at Oxford, a month later. The Crowland chronicler nonetheless reports that the peace agreed at Runnymede was only fitfully observed. The King was forced to lurk in his strongholds whilst the barons wandered at will. During harvest time (presumably in July) the people were reluctant to engage in full-scale hostilities. Even so, and especially in the north, there were widespread attacks on the King's manors and forests, with the felling and sale of timber and the wholesale butchery of the King's game.1
From the very considerable volume of correspondence issued at Oxford and preserved in the chancery rolls, a number of themes emerge. To begin with, the King was clearly determined to secure the support of the bishops and other churchmen, themselves crucial not only as go-betweens with the barons but as the potential eyes and ears of the Pope. Those in attendance at Oxford included the archbishop of Dublin and the bishops of London, Winchester, Bath, Lincoln and Worcester. All of these men were still, or had once been servants of the court. All appeared regularly this week as witnesses to royal charters.2 Archbishop Langton, by contrast, although present at Oxford, witnessed only a single royal charter, issued on 23 July, the last day of the conference, confirming to the canons of St Oswald Nostell the immensely rich church of Bamburgh in Northumberland.3 The bishops of Coventry and Chichester were also present, Coventry as a former royal servant, Chichester (Richard Poer) as a pupil and close associate of Langton.4
Several of the charters issued at this time were specifically framed as recompense to churchmen who had suffered during the Interdict. Thus Hugh of Wells, bishop of Lincoln, was granted the right to empark his wood at Harthay in Huntingdonshire, in compensation for damage done by the King's men, during Hugh's exile, to the park at Stow St Mary.5 The bishop of London, a fellow sufferer during the Interdict, was granted extensive rights of free warren.6 The hand of peace was extended to others who had suffered injuries both during the Interdict and afterwards. Thus abbot Hugh of Bury St Edmunds, long kept out of the office to which he had been elected, obtained extensive privileges for his monks and men in the Essex forest.7 He was also received into the King's protection, granted the right to use whatever privileges might have been granted to his predecessors by earlier kings of England, restored to possession of his mint at Bury, and promised the restoration of any money seized without proper authority by the King's keeper, John of Cornard, during the vacancy in the abbey.8 More remarkably still, given Bury's struggle for immunity from the authority of its diocesan bishops, it was to abbot Hugh that Ranulf of Wareham, monk of Norwich, was commanded to deliver whatever coin he had received from the vacant bishopric of Norwich.9 The monks of Norwich, meanwhile, were granted licence to elect a bishop, acting under the counsel of the bishop of Worcester, the Italian, Simon of Apulia, bishop of Exeter, and Master Peter Russinol, a close associate of the alien Peter des Roches, bishop of Winchester and in all likelihood himself a Frenchman.10 There were major awards to the monks and canons of Furness, St Oswald Nostell and Malmesbury, and a few days later for the canons of Cartmel, a foundation of William Marshal earl of Pembroke.11 Peter des Roches, the royalist bishop of Winchester, was granted a weekly market for his manor of Calbourne on the Isle of Wight, and there were commands that the liberties of the bishop of Chichester be respected in Sussex.12
The Malmesbury charter is particularly interesting, granting the Benedictine monks there the vill of Malmesbury with its three hundreds and the castle of Malmesbury, with the provision that the King bear the cost of garrisoning the castle 'should there be war in England' ('si contigerit quod guerra fuerit in terra nostra Angl(ie)').13 Malmesbury itself formed part of the traditional dower of the queens of England, so that in due course John's grant was to be confirmed by his widow, the Queen, Isabella of Angoulême.14 In the meantime, these negotiations reflect ongoing tensions over Isabella's dower, conferred at the time of the death of her predecessor, Eleanor of Aquitaine, in 1204, but in direct contravention of the rights of the King's widowed sister-in-law, Berengaria of Navarre, widow of Richard I, whose claims for compensation had long obtained support both from the Pope and from the King of France. The negotiations over Berengaria's dower almost certainly explain the recital, in the portion of the Charter Roll devoted to business transacted at Oxford in July 1215, of John's charter of May 1204 conferring Malmesbury and the rest of Eleanor's dower upon Queen Isabella.15 All of this suggests caution in the King's disposal of an estate that he knew to be the object of close papal scrutiny. A similar caution perhaps informed John's dealings with the canons of Nostell over the church of Bamburgh, promised to Nostell but in practice held by the papal chamberlain Stephen of Fossanova.16
Into this same pattern of self-consciousness can be fitted a charter issued at Oxford on 22 July, granting an annual pension of 20 marks to the clerk, Master Robert of Airaines.17 Like Peter Saracen, Master Robert served as one of the King's principal representatives at the papal curia.18 We might also note here a royal command of 21 July that Ranulf earl of Chester be granted the whole estate of Simon de Montfort, keeping these lands as custodian in Simon's interest.19 Simon, the 'hero' of the Albigensian Crusade, was on the verge of obtaining papal recognition for his conquests in southern France.20 In these circumstances, although still withholding recognition from Simon as titular earl of Leicester, the King was forced to tread warily if he were not to incur censure from the Pope. His conferral of the Leicester lands upon the earl of Chester can be read meanwhile as a severe provocation to Saher de Quincy, earl of Winchester, who thus far had enjoyed custody of a large part of the Montfort estate.21 Ranulf of Chester, of course, had remained loyal to John. Saher de Quincy had been numbered amongst the baronial twenty-five. Hugh de Lacy, a member of Montfort's army for the past few years following his exile from Ireland, was granted licence on 21 July to communicate with the King.22
The King's anxiety to appear to act with justice is further reflected in decisions made this week of the widest political significance. The Oxford meeting was attended by envoys both from Scotland and from Wales, clearly there to discuss the implementation of the Scots and Welsh clauses of the Runnymede settlement.23 It was almost certainly at Oxford, in pursuit of agreement with the Welsh, that Langton and a group of other bishops and magnates (the archbishop of Dublin, the bishop of Coventry, and the earls of Chester, Salisbury and Derby) issued an exemplification of the humiliating treaty which, in August 1211, King John had imposed upon Llewelyn ap Iorweth.24 The intention may have been formally to annul the terms of this treaty in order to establish a new covenant between Llewellyn and John. More likely, the intention was merely to supply an agreed version of a text crucial to whatever might be done in future to regulate Anglo-Welsh disputes.25 As with other matters discussed at Oxford, it seems that discussion over practical outcomes very soon trickled away into efforts to agree terms of reference.
In just this way, there was also discussion at Oxford of the clauses of Magna Carta relating to disafforestation, in theory a function of the inquests by twelve knights in each county authorized in June, set to impose definitive settlements within forty days (i.e. well before the deadline of 15 August that had elsewhere been set at Runnymede for the pacification of England).26 The only practical outcome, however, seems to have been the issue of letters in the names of Langton and seven others of the bishops in attendance at Oxford, agreeing that whatever the requirements of Magna Carta clause 48 in respect to immediate disafforestation, it was agreed both by the King and his baronial opponents that no custom should be abolished hereby by which the survival of the institution of the forests might be threatened.27 In other words, the King was given a let-out by which to protest against any remedial measures that might be judged harmful to the forests as a whole.
Following the dismissal, earlier in the month, of Geoffrey de Martigny and Engelard de Cigogné, both prohibited from holding office in England under the terms of Magna Carta clause 50, at Oxford, on 19-20 July, Peter and Andrew de Chanceaux were commanded to deliver up their custodies at Bristol and Hereford: Bristol to the Breton, Philip d'Aubigny, Hereford to the justiciar, Hubert de Burgh.28 By these means, the King hoped to have showed himself to fulfil yet another of the promises he had made at Runnymede. In reality, however, neither Peter de Chanceaux nor Engelard de Cigogné was entirely dismissed from royal service.29 Philip Mark, meanwhile, another of those proscribed by name in Magna Carta clause 50, remained undisturbed as sheriff of Nottingham.
Even more significantly, at Oxford, headed by Archbishop Langton, the bishops and Pandulf, the Pope's clerk, were persuaded to issue a second letter clarifying the precise terms under which peace had been made at Runnymede. Their clarification merits quotation in full:
'You should know that at the time when peace was made between King John and the barons of England in respect to the disputes that had arisen between them, those same barons in our presence and hearing promised the lord King that they would grant him whatever security he might wish from them concerning observation of that peace, save for the release of castles or hostages. Afterwards, however, when the King sought from them that they grant him charters in the following form, "To all men etc. Know that we are bound by oaths and homages to our lord King John of England in faith to serve him with life and limb and earthly honour against all men who may live or die, maintaining and defending his realm and the rights of himself and his heirs", the barons refused to do this'30
The implication here was clearly that whilst the King had fulfilled his side of the agreement made at Runnymede, the barons, by contrast, were refusing to honour the promises they had made to King. It was almost certainly in search of clarification of the precise terms agreed that, at around this time, the chancery insisted on enrolling the terms of the treaty over London, agreed between King and barons on 19-20 June, but only now copied into the chancery rolls.31 It was on the basis of this treaty's terms that on 23 July, the final day of the Oxford conference, the King sent letters into Yorkshire and almost certainly other counties, reminding their earls, barons and knights of the obligation to restore before the feast of the Assumption (15 August) all lands and castles seized during the late war or since, to restore all chattels taken in time of peace, to release prisoners and pardon ransoms. Should these terms not be fulfilled, the King warned, he would be obliged, in the name of peace, to take hostile measures against anyone who failed to comply.32 On the day before this, Wednesday 22 July, at Oxford, the chancery released a further six engrossments of Magna Carta to Master Elias of Dereham, Archbishop Langton's steward.33 So far as we can establish, this marked the last occasion on which the charter was formally engrossed and sealed in chancery. The intention, as with the other instruments issued at Oxford, was clearly to establish agreed terms for a peace that, in practice, receded ever further from practical implementation.
Besides general principles, the Oxford conference attempted solutions to particular instances. Thus, on 18 July, the King demanded that William d'Aubigny of Belvoir, a member of the twenty-five, surrender the royal castle of Sauvey in Leicestershire to the keeping of the royalist Hugh de Neville.34 There were further changes in shrieval administration, including the appointment of Hubert de Burgh as sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, with commands to John fitz Robert, the baronial sheriff, to release the castles of Norwich and Orford.35 As recently as 25 June the two counties had in theory been transferred from John fitz Robert to John Marshal.36 The grant to Hubert de Burgh suggests that John fitz Robert had never surrendered custody. In late June, Lincolnshire had also been given to John Marshal. This too was now taken from him and committed to Walter of Coventry.37 John Marshal meanwhile was promised custody of the Dorsetshire castles of Dorchester and Sherborne.38 In the far north, Robert de Ros, a member of the twenty-five, was commanded to relinquish Cumberland and the castle of Carlisle to Robert de Vaux.39 In the contrary sense, here apparently answering baronial complaints, hostages taken from Nicholas de Verdun were ordered restored for so long as the earl of Chester would guarantee Nicholas's future good behaviour.40 Roland Bloet, keeper of the lands formerly belonging to William de Braose, was commanded to take nothing from his custody save for reasonable expenses, imposing no tallage and doing no waste in woods or forest.41 There was also a spate of commands relating to other landholdings that may or may not reflect negotiations between the King and former rebels.42 Further hostages imprisoned from the garrison of Carrickfergus since 1210 were ordered released.43 There were also favours for royalists: a fair and market at Kimbolton for Henry fitz Gerald (close associate of William Marshal);44 custody of the Suffolk manor of Westhall for Nicholas of Dunwich, keeper of the King's ships at Dunwich.45 The favour of the men of Winchester was sought through a major confirmation of their privileges, including a guarantee that the King's mint and exchange would also be sited within their city.46
Further light is thrown upon the King's financial affairs. Treasure previously deposited with the religious (of Crokesden, Darley and Rufford) continued to be brought in.47 Roald Bloet, keeper of the Braose lands in Sussex, was commanded to find a ship for Geoffrey de Neville, apparently bringing coin into England from Gascony, and a loan of 1100 marks was negotiated from the Templars of Poitou.48 Even so, other operations continued to be financed from hand to mouth, including the costs of three canons of York coming south to make election to their archbishopric, whose expenses were met from £20 delivered by Brian de Lisle from the receipts of the vacant bishopric of Ely.49
There is also continued evidence of the King's communication with both Rome and Paris. On 21 July, from Oxford, he wrote to Philip of France, informing him that the mayor and sheriffs of London had been instructed to allow French merchants access to the city's markets. Should these orders not be implemented, the King suggested, then Philip would be at liberty to take reprisals against Londoners in France, without King John considering this a breach of the Anglo-French truce. Once again, this suggests a depth of hostility on John's behalf towards the rebel Londoners.50 A day later, the sheriff of Essex was commanded to restore the count of Guînes to his lands within the county, suggesting negotiations with a northern French baron crucial both to cross-Channel communications and the recruitment of mercenaries.51 Much of the business of the Oxford conference had been conducted deliberately in order to secure favour from the Pope. At Oxford, on 21 July, the King granted Alexander Neckham, abbot of Cirencester, the standard letters of protection already issued for the bishop of Exeter and other English religious setting out to attend the general council that the Pope had summoned to meet that autumn at the Lateran Palace.52 We have found abbot Alexander, a week earlier, in regular attendance at court.53 According to the chroniclers, it was either Master Pandulf, the Pope's clerk, or the chancellor, Richard Marsh, who first carried to Rome the King's demand for papal condemnation of the barons and Magna Carta.54 But both men were still in England in mid July and did not receive letters of credence for their mission to Rome until mid-September.55 Likewise Alexander, theologian, poet and boyhood companion of the King's elder brother, does not appear to have sailed from Dover for France until after 19 August.56 Nonetheless, it must have been by some such agent sent in July that the King first informed the Pope of his determination to break with the settlement agreed at Runnymede. Certainly the timing here is suggestive. The Oxford conference broke up around 23 July. Just over a month later, on 24 August, having learned of the terms of Magna Carta, the Pope issued his letters comprehensively condemning what had taken place at Runnymede.
From Oxford, the King made his way northwestwards. Instructions for more than 350 lbs of wax to be sent to Bridgnorth suggest that his itinerary was already mapped out, with the Welsh Marches, and negotiations with Walter de Lacy and the Welsh princes as his next looming priority.57
Memoriale fratris Walteri de Coventria, ed. W. Stubbs, 2 vols. (London, 1872-73), ii, 222-3, esp. p.222: 'Iterum igitur direptiones, iterum depredationes, rege in locis munitioribus se tenente, proceribus autem libere per regionem tempus discurrentibus, pepercerunt tamen adhuc populo quoniam tempus messis instabat, tantummodo domos regias vel maneria regia que ab aquilonaribus erant partibus, vel forestas depopulantes, ligna vendendo et feras quarum plurima erat copia trucidando'.
Their presence can be established from the episcopal letters in Foedera, 134.
RC, 214b; The Registrum Antiquissimum of the Cathedral Church of Lincoln, ed. C.W. Foster and K. Major, 12 vols., Lincoln Record Society (1931-73), i, 138-9 no.211, in completion of arrangements first announced on 24 June, RLC, i, 217.
RC, 214, with orders for enforcement to Richard de Montfichet, a member of the baronial twenty-five recently restored as forester of Essex, RLP, 149b; RLC, i, 221.
RC, 214-14b, with writ for enforcement, RLC, i, 221.
RLP, 149b; RLC, i, 221.
RLC, i, 221. On 19 July, what appears to have been an additional 250 marks of receipts from the bishopric were paid in to the King's chamber: RLC, i, 221.
RC, 213-16. The second of the Nostell charters, entered on the Charter Roll without place date or witnesses, survives as a an original, dated at Woodstock on 25 July, at Wakefield, West Yorkshire Archives WYL 1352/C1/1/4, 'Testibus domino Henrico Dublin' archiepiscopo, Will(elm)o Mariscallo comite Penbroch', R(anulfo) comite Cestr', Will(el)mo comite Sarr', Huberto de Burgo iusticiario nostro, Thoma Basset, Iohanne Mariscallo, Gaufrido Luterel, Hugon(e) de Berneuall'. Dat' per manum magistri Ricardi de Marisc(o) cancellarii nostri apud Wudestok', xxv. die Iulii anno regni nostri septimo decimo', also in the St Oswald's cartulary, BL ms. Cotton Vespasian E xix fo.5r-v.
RLP, 150b; RLC, i, 221b.
RC, 213-13b, and for enforcement, entrusted to Thomas of Sandford, RLP, 149b.
Charter printed by N. Vincent, 'Isabella of Angoulême: John's Jezebel', King John: New Interpretations, ed. S.D. Church (Woodbridge 1999), 165-219, at 218-19 no.3, and cf. Ibid., 185-9.
RC, 213b-14, originally rehearsed in RC, 128-8b.
C.R. Cheney, Pope Innocent III and England, Päpste und Papsttum 9 (Stuttgart, 1976), 94 n.66.
RC, 214b, and for enforcement, RLC, i, 221b.
The Letters and Charters of Cardinal Guala Bicchieri, Papal Legate in England 1216-1218, ed. N. Vincent, Canterbury and York Society 83 (1996), no.40n.
For King John's response to Simon's victories in the south, and for the shelter he afforded in England first to Raymond VI count of Toulouse and then to the future Raymond VII, John's nephew, see N. Vincent, 'England and the Albigensian Crusade ', England and Europe in the Reign of Henry III (1216-1272), ed. B.K.U. Weiler and I.W. Rowlands (Aldershot, 2002), 67-97, esp. pp.74-8; King John’s Diary and Itinerary 5-11 July.
For the division of the Leicester estate, see D. Crouch, 'The Battle of the Countesses: The Division of the Honour of Leicester, March-December 1207', Rulership and Rebellion in the Anglo-Norman World, c.1066-c.1216: Essays in Honour of Professor Edmund King, ed. P. Dalton and D. Luscombe (Farnham, 2015), 179-211.
For the both the Scots envoys, and the Welsh (Llewelyn ap Iorweth, Gwenwynwyn ab Owain, Madog ap Gruffydd, Maelgwn ap Rhys and Rhys ap Gruffydd) brought to Oxford under safe conduct of Archbishop Langton: RLP, 150.
J. Beverley Smith, 'Magna Carta and the Charters of the Welsh Princes', English Historical Review, xcix (1984), 344-62, from a s.xiv copy now TNA E 163/4/47 m.6, although note that Smith incorrectly assumes (p.345) that his newly discovered letters of July 1215 were addressed in the name of bishops and barons including Hubert de Burgh as justiciar. In fact as the text itself makes plain (p.361), the letters were addressed to Hubert as justiciar.
Smith, 'Magna Carta and the Welsh Princes', 353-4.
The forty day term is referred to both in Magna Carta clause 48 and in the letters of the bishops, issued at Oxford, dealing with this same clause: Conventiones, Litterae etc., or Rymer’s Foedera, 1066-1383, ed. A. Clarke et al., vol. 1, part i (London, 1816), 134.
Foedera, 134, from the dorse of a membrane of the Close Roll (RLC, i, 269) whose face carries royal letters issued between 11-19 July: 'Uniuersitati vestre notum fieri volumus quod articulus iste (i.e. Magna Carta c.48) ita intellectus fuit ex utraque parte quum de eo tractabatur et expressus quod omnes consuetudines ille remanere debent sine quibus foreste seruari non possint, et hoc presentibus litteris protestamur'.
RLP, 149b-50b; RLC, i, 221.
N. Vincent, ‘Who's Who in Magna Carta Clause 50’, in Le Medieviste et la monographie familiale: sources, methodes et problematiques (Turnhout, 2004),235-264, at 250, 252.
Foedera, 134, from the dorse of a membrane of the Patent Roll (RLP, 181) whose face carries royal letters issued between 28 June and 2 July: 'Nouerit uniuersitas vestra quod quando facta fuit pax inter dominum regem Iohannem et barones Anglie de discordia inter eos orta, idem barones nobis presentibus et audientibus promiserunt domino regi quod quamcunque securitatem habere vellet ab eis de pace illa obseruanda, ipsi ei habere fecerent preter castella et obsides. Postea vero quando dominus rex petiit ab eis ut talem cartam ei facerent: "Omnibus etc Sciatis nos astrictos esse per sacrament(a) et homagia domino nostro Iohanni regi Anglie de fide ei seruanda de vita et membris et terreno honore contra omnes homines qui viuere possint et mori, et ad iura sua et heredum suorum et ad regnum suum custodiendum et defendendum", ipsi id facere noluerunt. Et in huius rei testimonium id ipsum per hoc scriptum protestamur'.
Foedera, 133, from its enrolment on the dorse of a membrane of the Close Roll (RLC, i, 268b) whose face carries royal letters issued between 11-19 July. Here supporting the contention of Holt that the treaty was issued at Runnymede. Its copying out at about the time of the Oxford conference nonetheless misled H.G. Richardson into supposing that the treaty was a product of negotiations at Oxford in July.
RLP, 150-50b: 'Rex comitibus, baronibus, vic(ecomitibus), militibus, libere tenentibus et omnibus aliis de com(itatu) Ebor' salutem. Mandamus vob(is) quod sic(iut) diligitis vos et omnia vestra statim visis litteris istis terras et tenementa, castra et municiones que abstulistis tempore guerre vel post illus quibus ea abstulistis reddatis infra festum Assumpcionis beate Marie proximo instans sic(ut) in reformacione pacis continetur. De catallis autem ablatis tempore quo sciuistis treugas fuisse captas inter nos et barones nostros vel postquam pax fuit inter nos reformata et iurata eis quibus ablata fuerunt plene satisfaciatis, et reddatis prisones qui tempore pacis facte capti tenebantur et quod de redempcionibus vel tenseriis tunc restabat soluendum penitus condonetis, et si quid de redempcionibus vel tenseriis post pacem factam cepistis, illis inde satisfaciatis quibus est satisfaciendum. Quia in reformacione pacis ita conuenit quod nisi feceritis nos ita ad vos et tenementa vestra nos capiemus q(uod) grauatos vos sencietis. Quia nolumus quod ocasione detencionis aliquorum predictorum contra formam predictam pax in aliquo turbetur vel violetur. T(este) me ipso apud Oxon', xxiii. die Iul(ii) anno r(egni) n(ostri) xvii.mo'.
RLP, 150, issued at Woodstock on 25 July.
RLP, 150b; RLC, i, 222b, and cf. for Ralph of Bray's expenses at Sherborne before this transfer, RLC, i, 221.
RLC, i, 222.
RLC, i, 221b (the rights of Richard de Redvers in his park at Ongar, dower in Essex for the widow of Ralph Purcell), 222 (dower of Ada de Courtenay at Upminster in Essex), 222b (stock of the manor of Ham in Surrey to Peter de Craon, compensation for Geoffrey Clement for land taken into the King's fishpond at Andover)
RLC, i, 222b.
RLC, i, 222.
RLC, i, 221b, also listing a favour to Aimery de Sacy.
RLP, 149b, 150b.
RLC, 221b, 222-2b.
RLC, i, 221b, also in Foedera, 135.
RLC, i, 221b.
Cirencester Cartulary, ed. Ross, i, 65 no.88.
King John’s Diary and Itinerary 12-18 July.
Wendover, in Paris, Chronica Majora, ed. H.R. Luard (7 vols., Rolls series, 1872–83), ii, 613. The Crowland chronicler (Walter of Coventry, ed. Stubbs, ii, 222) attributes the same role to the chancellor, Richard Marsh.
RLP, 182b (from the dorse of a membrane dealing with business from 14-27 September), whence the letters relating to Pandulf in Foedera, 135, but there misattributed as if from the dorse of the Close Roll and inserted amidst business for June/July 1215.
RLC, i, 227.
Orders for wax, RLC, i, 222, sent on 23 July from Oxford.