It was today in 1284, in the Welsh town of Rhuddlan that an act, known as the Statute of Rhuddlan, became law.
This meant that the people of Wales had to abide by the laws of England and that Edward I was able to place of his choice of officials in important positions. Seventeen years later in 1301, he would reinforce his claim to Wales by making his son, Edward of Caernarfon, Prince of Wales.
By 1535, under the Laws of Wales Act, Wales became part of England, a single state under English laws, since then its Englishness/Welshness has become a subject open to interpretation.
Roger Mortimer was a member of a powerful Mortimer family whose established their great dynasty in the Welsh Marches. They were granted lands in Herefordshire and Shropshire at the conquest of England and by the fourteenth century, they were honoured with the title of Earls of March.
For eight months following the Battle of Lewes Edward, heir to the English throne, was being held captive as a hostage by rebel leader Simon de Montfort. It was Roger Mortimer, deploying a plan of action created by his wife Maud, who rescued Edward enabling him to retake the rebel-held towns of Worcester and Gloucester.
Roger Mortimer would go on to assist Henry III in the final victory over barons in 1265 at the Battle of Evesham, it would be Mortimer who would strike the blow that ended the life of the aforementioned Simon de Montfort.
Mortimer later sent this gruesome trophy and other parts of de Montfort's anatomy home to Wigmore Castle as a gift for his wife. Of this event, English chronicler Robert of Gloucester wrote:
"To dam Maud the Mortimer that wel foule it ssende."
It is alleged that Lady Mortimer held feast that evening to celebrate Henry's victory and that she had Simon de Montfort's head, still attached to the point of the lance, placed on show for all to see.
Roger Mortimer would survive the years that saw the Statute of Marlborough passed and the signing of the Dictum of Kenilworth. Mortimer would also witness Henry III passing many of Simon de Montfort's ideas and changes to government although what he thought of it all goe's unrecorded.
Roger Mortimer died on this day in 1282 at the age of fifty-one. His death, it has been said, was seen by many as a major setback in the early years of Edward I's reign.
Mortimers epitaph reads:
"Here lies buried, glittering with praise, Roger the pure, Roger Mortimer the second, called Lord of Wigmore by those who held him dear. While he lived all Wales feared his power and given as a gift to him all Wales remained his. It knew his campaigns, he subjected it to torment."
4th August 1265
Following King John to the throne of England in 1216 was his son Henry III. Henry turned out to be an intelligent man who was quick to master the problems of administration and government, he was also seen as an
"uncomplicated, almost naive man, and a lover of peace."
It seems then that England would, at last, be a calm and peaceful country, however this was not to be.
In our tales of history, the events of 1258 to 1265, were played out through the actions of a man who would come to be known as "the father of the English parliament" - Simon de Montfort, who Chronicler Matthew Paris describes as dictatorial and a military strategist, stating he was charismatic, plain spoken and fair.
Many of Henry III's barons had become a law unto themselves and they were now seeing Henry as weak, David Carpenter writes that Henry “failed as a ruler due to his naivety and inability to produce realistic plans for reform” and Henry did not do himself any favours, his personal extravagances that had resulted in large taxes and a major fall out with de Montfort did not help matters either. In 1238, in a blatant piece of favouritism towards de Montfort (interestingly, one of the reasons de Montfort took a dislike Henry III was because of his favouritism towards foreign nobles - it seems he conveniently forgot that he was a favoured foreigner himself !) Henry had approved de Montfort’s marriage to his sister Eleanor, and both Henry and de Montfort chose to ignore the condemnation of the marriage by the Archbishop of Canterbury along with the protest made by Henry's brother, the greedy Richard of Cornwall, who made a song and dance of the whole episode, however he was eventually bought on side for a couple of bags of gold. Henry also appointed de Montfort as Governor of Gascony, a mistake that cost him dearly. In Gascony, Montfort was disliked, but he was powerful and he abused his position and this forced Henry to intervene. On Montfort's return to England, he too perceived Henry as weak and with the barons eager for a fight, Simon de Montfort stepped into take charge.
It was Simon de Monfort who lead the rebellion against his one time friend, and after the Battle of Lewes in 1264 both the king and his son Edward, later Edward I, were captured and it was de Montfort who ruled in his name. Eventually though,de Montfort lost the support of many of Henry's disaffected barons, this along with Edward's escape would be the beginning of the end of Simon de Montfort's rule.
Edward had raised an army that outnumbered de Montfort's forces and had pursued them through the Welsh Marches to the Worcestershire town of Evesham. Edward arrived there on the morning of the 4th of August 1265. This arrival had taken de Montfort by surprise, but he was quick to respond and taking the king along with him engaged Edward's army, however within hours the battle turned into what can only be described as a massacre, one historian writing that it was "an episode of noble bloodletting unprecedented since the Conquest." quickly followed by Simon de Montfort's grizzly end, a fact that bears witness to the slaughter.
Of de Montforts death there is a contemporary account that is attributed to a London chronicler name Arnald FitzThedmar.
"The head of the Earl of Leicester, it is said, was severed from his body, and his testicles cut off and hung on
either side of his nose. In this state, the head was sent to the wife of Roger de Mortimer, at Wigmore Castle.
Simon de Montfort’s hands and feet were also cut off, and sent to many of his enemies as a great mark of dishonour
to the deceased. The trunk of his body, however, and that alone, was given for burial in the church of Evesham."
Also losing their lives that day were Simon's son Henry, and Peter de Montfort who both died in the battle. Hugh Despencer, Chief Justiciar of England, grandfather of the more famous Hugh Despencer the younger, was slain at the hands of Roger Mortimer.
By 1267 the problems between Henry and his barons, that were based on the 1258/9 provisions, had still not settled down and a new set of laws were needed. On the 18th or 19th of November 1267, in a Parliament at Marlborough the twenty nine chapters that made up the Statute of Marlborough, was passed. The kings last few years saw his power restored and it was a relatively peaceful one following the signing of the Dictum of Kenilworth. Henry was sensible enough to pass many of Simon de Montfort's ideas and changes to government, and this act was brought into play by the end of October 1266.
On the 14th May 1264, Henry III forces were defeated by the armies of Simon de Montfort at the Battle of Lewes in Sussex. This battle was one of two main battles in the conflict known as the Second Barons War and at this point Montfort was riding high.
King Henry III is said to have been intelligent and quick to master the problems of administration and government, he was also seen a "uncomplicated, almost naive man, and a lover of peace," yet all this is hardly mentioned, historians preferring to write about Simon de Montfort who not only stole Henry's crown but also his limelight.
The dissatisfaction of Henry's barons culminated in the Second Barons War in 1263. It was Simon de Montfort who lead the rebellion against Henry, and after the Battle of Lewes both the king and his son Edward, later Edward I, were captured and it was de Montfort who ruled in his name.
Eventually, de Montfort lost the support of many of Henry's disaffected barons, this along with Edward escaping his captors and raising an army was the beginning of the end for de Montfort. After the Battle of Evesham, Montfort met a grizzly end and Henry regained his throne.
Image Credit Lewes Town Council
Simon de Montfort was French by birth and a year younger than Henry III. In 1248, Henry had appointed Montfort as
Governor of Gascony, a mistake that cost Henry dearly.
In Gascony, Montfort was disliked, but he was powerful and he abused his position and this forced Henry to intervene.
On Montfort's return to England, he perceived Henry as weak and with the barons aching for a fight, it was
Simon de Montfort that stepped in to take charge.
In 1258 this action culminated in the Provisions of Oxford, a law that served to limit Henry’s power. Henry’s refusal
to accept the Provisions of Westminster the following year saw Montfort’s power base grow rapidly, and by 1263 he
was all but wearing the crown.
On the 14th of May 1264 at the Battle of Lewes, Henry, his son the future Edward I, and Richard, Duke of Cornwall
were taken prisoner but a year later the tables were turned, and it was at the Battle of Evesham, on the 4th August in
1265, that Simon de Montfort and his eldest son Henry died a grisly death.
The Bishop of Lincoln, Robert Grosseteste, once said to Henry de Montfort:
"My beloved child, both you and your father will meet your deaths on one day, and by one kind of death, but it
will be in the name of justice and truth."
The bishop was right on both counts:
Of Henry de Montfort's death, the
"first born son and heir, in full view of his father, perished, split by a sword.
and Simon himself:
"the head was severed from his body, and his testicles cut off and hung on either side of his nose"
Bishop Grosseteste was correct.
Executed this day in 1322.
"And now I shall tell you of the noble Earl Thomas of Lancaster. When he was taken and brought to York, many of the city were full glad, and upon him cried with high voice "Ah, Sir Traitor! Now shall you have the reward that long time you have deserved!"
It was in 1322 at Pontefract Castle, King Edward I's ‘key to the north’ that Thomas of Lancaster finally received his 'reward.'
Lancaster had been a supporter of Edward II, but like many within the realm he was angered by the kings reliance on his favourites, namely Piers Gaveston. Lancaster was among a number of men who were intent of seeing off Gaveston, they succeeded in 1312, when he was executed near Kenilworth in Warwickshire, on land belonging to Lancaster. Gaveston's death is thought to be at the top of the list of reasons as to why Lancaster was executed.
Thomas of Lancaster would not be the last to meet his death because he was prepared to stand up to a monarch who was influenced by others, Richard Fitz Alan, one of the founding members of the Lords Appellant was executed in 1397 for standing up to Richard II and Richard Duke of York's revenge death in 1460 is another example.
Lancaster has been called a
"coarse, selfish and violent man, without any of the attributes of a statesman."
However, history it is said, is written by the victors, we can only wonder what would have been written of them if they had succeeded.
The word Stannary means 'belonging to tin mines' and is taken from the Latin word Stanum.
The areas in Cornwall, where tin was extracted, were known as Stannaries and the law that affected them were known as Stannary Law. These Cornish Stannaries form part of the Duchy of Cornwall, an estate which was created by Edward III in 1337 when he granted his son, Edward, the Black Prince Duke of Cornwall.
Tin mining in Cornwall is ancient, and employed men in remote and outlying areas away from the main towns, and therefore they had their own rules and regulations. The early Earls and Dukes of this distant county reaped great rewards from mining and since early times the mines and the men working them have been protected by the crown. This institution had its its head wardens who were governed by the Lord Warden of the Stannaries.
The writ appointing the Lord Warden covered the
"just and ancient customs and liberties of miners, smelters and merchants of tin."
The first to hold this title was William de Wrotham who was given this title on the 20th November 1197 during the reign of King Richard I. In 1198, juries of miners at Launceston, stood before Wrotham to swear by the law and practice of the tin mines.
Over the years, Royal Charters issued by Edward I in 1305, Edward IV in 1466, and Henry VII in 1508 have changed and
added to the laws within the Stannaries. King John, often seen as a selfish and greedy king, was not slow to see the attraction of the Cornish tin industry. In 1201 he issued the first charter to the Stannaries. By 1214, production of tin had risen to six hundred tons, the result of this saw many men, who once worked on the land, move to mining. One of the clauses of Magna Carta was that no lord shoud lose the service of his men whether he dug tin or not. Henry III confired his fathers charter, and
the Stannaries soon had their own taxation, no acknowledged lord and were 'a law unto themselves.' By the end of the 13th century the Stannaries were under the control of Richard, the second son of King John and his son Edmund as the Earls of Cornwall.
In 1225, Richard, at just sixteen, was granted the County of Cornwall and all its tin works, and following that the Earldom of Cornwall. Later Edward I granted privileges to tinners to be tried by their own courts and benefit from the exemption of taxation.
The above image records one John Gurney’s appointment as Vicewarden of the Stannaries for Devon and explains the differences between the courts in Cornwall and Devon.
Henry III or Henry of Winchester was the eldest son of King John by his second wife, Isabella of Angouleme, he was born at Winchester on the 1st October 1207.
Henry is said to have been intelligent and quick to master the problems of administration and government, he was also seen a "uncomplicated, almost naive man, and a lover of peace," yet all this is hardly mentioned, historians preferring to write about Simon de Monfort who not only stole Henry's crown but also his limelight.
The dissatisfaction of Henry's barons culminated in the Second Barons War in 1263. It was Simon de Monfort who lead the rebellion against Henry, and after the Battle of Lewes in 1264 both the king and his son Edward, later Edward I, were captured and it was de Montfort who ruled in his name. Eventually, de Montfort lost the support of many of Henry's disaffected barons, this along with Edward escaping his captors and raising an army was the beginning of the end for de Montfort. After the Battle of Evesham, Simon de Montfort met a grizzly end and Henry regained his throne.
Henry III was the first English king to be crowned as a child. His reign was a long one, he was king of England for fifty six years, and I feel his time as our countries monarch was one of the most important and significant reigns in our history and as I mentioned earlier, much overlooked.
Henry III improved the educational system in England, he was a lover of art and architecture and it was Henry who ordered the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey in the Gothic style we see today.
The kings last few years saw his power restored and it was a relatively peaceful one following the signing of the Dictum of Kenilworth. Henry was sensible enough to pass many of de Montfort's ideas and changes to government, and this act was brought into play by the end of October 1266.
Two years later Henry had Edward the Confessors body moved to its new shrine at Westminster Abbey, a clever move on Henry's part that suggests he considered or he hoped others would consider that trouble between him and his barons was over for good, although the death of his brother's son Henry of Almain, who was murdered by the vengeful Guy and Simon de Montfort, the sons of Simon de Montfort in 1271, was a blot on the new peace.
In 1270, Henry became ill, he wrote to Edward, who was on crusade asking him to return. For a time the king regained his strength, but he continued to worry about the fragility of the peace he had worked hard to obtain, this must have been a contributing factor that led to his death on the 16th of November 1272. In 1290, Henry's body was exhumed, it was noted then that his body was in a very good condition, many thought that this was an indication of his saintly status leading to miracles being reported as occurring at his tomb.
Just as Richard III did in later years, Henry III suffered at the hands of antagonistic chroniclers, disregarding this, what did this man leave behind, what was his legacy?
Under Henry we saw the implementation of Magna Carta, and as mentioned earlier, learning flourished as many men followed in his wake in their pursuit of knowledge. We have marital alliances with the kingdoms of France and Scotland, and we have many magnificent buildings dotted around our fine country thanks to this 13th century monarch.
The ballad, that you can read at the end of this blog was written by Reverend Stephen Hawker, was published in 1867, and is the story of a crusading knight known as Ralph de Blanchminster of the manor Bien Amie in the County of Cornwall.
Ralph, whose tale in the ballad, is not fictitious but based on the true story of Reginald Blanchminster, a devoted husband and father, abandoned for another man by Isabel his adulterous wife.
I am adding, along with Hawkers ballad, an excerpt from my ongoing research into the "Blanchminster of Binamy" the story of my medieval maternal ancestors who were prominent in England from 1086 to 1289.
Ralph's real name was Reginald, he was the Blanchminster heir, born around the middle of the thirteenth century.
Reginald Blanchminster was the brother of my 20th great grandmother, both have a very very special place in my heart.
Islam had spread as far as France by 732, and by 1095 the Saracens had refused to allow the Christians to continue their pilgrimages to the Holy City. The Christian world considered this as an act of aggression, so it was inevitable that warfare between the civilisation of Christianity and Islam followed. Having left Isabel and Ralph behind Reginald probably arrived in Palestine shortly after Prince Edward and joined others to relieve the Christian forces in Acre, but by the time they had arrived in Tunis he found the French king had signed a peace treaty just before his death and Edward's crusading army was forced to return to Sicily to wait the arrival of the forces of the French kings successor Phillip III. Phillip never arrived and Edward and his troops continued to Acre alone finally landing at on the 9th May 1271. Jerusalem had fallen in 1244 and Acre was now the centre of the Christianity. Reginald and his fellow crusaders, although they were an important addition to the garrison at Acre, stood little chance against the Muslim superior forces and they would have soon realised that their position was increasingly desperate, by the middle of 1272 they had seen the Cypriot army join forces against them. Reginald was either killed outright in one of the many battles with Muslim forces but as the aforementioned Hawker suggests he was fatally wounded. Before we go on to reveal the real reason of Sir Reginald Blanchminster’s sad death in Syria we must read the Reverend Hawker’s ballad entitled Sir Ralph de Blancminster of Bien Amie......."
".........In Hawkers ballad we see the fictitious Bertha as a young woman who was already resolved of the fact that her husband will not return to Binamie with his life, she states “Time trieth troth” or “time tests faith” She goes on to give Reginald a time frame and a ultimatum stating “three years let the severing seas divide” and “a warrior must rest in Bertha's bed”. Obviously undeterred by these words from his wife, he cries a sad farewell to his turreted castle and riding into the distance shouts "Thou too farewell my chosen bride" Hawker then goes onto suggest in the verse “The Treachery” that Bertha had not kept her side of the bargain. In a wilful betrayal of fidelity, Bertha becomes an adulterous wife fleeing Ralph’s manor of Binamie on the call of one Sir Rupert! The Cornish messenger tells the dying Ralph of three dark omens in a kindly effort to break the new of Bertha's betrayal but the astute Ralph asks “Say on the woe thy looks betide” to which the poor page has to reply “Master, the Lady Bertha s fled the hall."
Reginald’s wife in Hawkers ballad is named Bertha, in fact she was Isabel, a woman who we know little about. At this point Reginald had been married only a few years and between 1262 and 1265 Isabel had given Reginald a son who they named Ralph. During the next five years Reginald became increasingly unhappy and his family think that this was due to the discontent he felt on having heard of the decision of the young prince Edward and Edmund of Cornwall leaving on a crusade to the Holy Land, but we now know is that this could not be further from the truth. At prayer and his frequent times spent alone he struggled with his conscience, asking himself whether he should he remain at his Cornish manor or if he should take up the cross himself. Ralph’s decision to journey to the Holy Land would have been either duty or religious sentiment. Of course both of these would have undoubtedly influenced him as it had done large masses of people who enthusiastically set out for the east to meet the Muslims in battle. Finally with his mind made up Reginald set forth in 1270 to join Prince Edward and the Earl of Cornwall on crusade.
Hawkers ballad is of the sentimental kind, very popular in the late nineteenth century, he has romanticised the tale of a hero knight and his young wife fleeing to the arms of her waiting lover, in fact Hawker was not too far from the truth.
The Sir Rupert in the ballad was one John Allet.
According to an entry for him in the Cornish Fleet of Fines it is stated
Ralph Blanchminster * She was the widow of Sir Reginald Blanchminster, and her marriage with John de Aleth had been secretly performed. ...
in a manuscript dated 1284 it states
John Allet in Kenwyn and Isabella his wife hold the Isle of Scilly and hold there all kinds of pleas of the Crown throughout their jurisdiction and make indictments of felonies.
The aforementioned * entry of Reginald’s fathers death in the Episcopal Register of Exeter we find the entry of the death of Reginald and along side it, probably written at the same time, is an entry regarding Isabel Blanchminster. The purpose of this entry regarding Reginald’s widow in this register is to record the sentence of excommunication pronounced against her for her adultery with Allett. We can assume that Isabel began an affair with Sir John Allet soon after the birth of Ralph and this was the real reason that induced Reginald to take up the cross. How poor Reginald came to know of this infidelity is not known, betrayed and rejected his journey to the Holy Land must have been a sorrowful one. Away on crusade and supposing him dead Isabel and Allet married in secret. The effect all this had on their son is not known but the news of this adulteress marriage and excommunication must have been a major scandal at the time. The Allets must have been keen to stay on good terms with Reginald’s sister Margery, for we know that the two families were still in contact by 1290 as John Allet witnessed a gift of land on the 9th June.
After this date both Isabel and Allett fade into obscurity.
And now for Hawker's Ballard
Hush! Tis a tale of elder time
Caught from an old barbaric rhyme
How the fierce Sir Ralph, of the haughty hand
Harnessed him for our Savious land.
“Time trieth troth” the lady said
“And a warrior must rest in Berthas bed.
Three year let the severing seas divide,
And strike thou for Christ and they trusting bride”
So he buckled on the beamy blade
That Gaspar of Spanish Leon made
Whose hilted cross is the awful sigh
It must burn or the Lord and his tarnished shrine.
“Now a long farewell tall Stratton Tower
Dark Bude, thy fatal sea
And God thee speed in hall and bower
My manor of Bien amie.
“Thou, too, farewell my chosen bride,
Thou Rose of Rou-tor land
Though all on earth were false beside
I trust thy plighted hand.
“Dark seas amy swlll, and temests lower,
And surging bellows foam,
The cresset of they bridal bower
Shall guide the wander home.
“On! For the cross in Jesu’s land,
When Syrian armies flee;
One thought hall thrill my lifted hand,
I strike for God and thee”
Hark! How the brattling trumpets blare,
Lo! The red banner flaunt the air,
And see, his good sword girded on
The stern Sir Ralph to the wars has gone.
Hurrah! For the Syrian dastards flee
Charge! Charge! Ye Western chivalry
Sweet is the strife for God’s renown,
The Cross is up and the Crescent down.
The weary seeks his tent
For good Sir Ralph is pale and spent
Five wounds he reaped in the field of fame
Five in his blessed masters name.
The solemn Leech looks sad and grim
As he binds and sooths each gory limb
And the solemn Priest must chant and prey.
Lest the soul un-houseled pass away.
A sound of horse hoofs on the sand
And lo! A page from Cornish lands
Tidings,” he said as he bent the knee
“Tidings, my lord, from Bien amie”
“The owl shrieked thrice from the warder’s tower
The crown-rose wither in her bower
Thy good grey foal, at event fed,
Lay in the sunrise stark and dead”
“Dark omens three!” the sick man cried
“Say on the woe thy looks betide”
“Master! At bold Sir Rupert’s call,
Thy lady Bertha fled the hall
Bring me,” he said “that scribe of fame,
Symeon el Siddekah his name
With parchment skin, and pen in hand
I would devise my Cornish land.
“Seven goodly manors, fair and wide,
Stretch from the sea to Tamar side,
And Bien amie, my hall and tower,
Nestles beneath tall Stratton Tower
“All these I render to my God,
By seal and signe, knife and sod
I give and grant to Church and poor
In franc-almoign for evermore
“Choose ye seven men among the just,
And bid them hold my lands in truse:
On Micheal’s morn, and Mary’s Day,
To deal the dole, and watch and pray.
“Then bear me coldly o’er the deep,
Mid my own people I would sleep
Their hearts shall melt, their prayers will breathe,
Where he who loved them rests beneath.
“Mould me in stone as here I lie,
My face upturned to Syria’s sky
Carve ye this good sword at my side
And write the legend, “True and tried”
“Let mass be said, and requiem sung;
And that sweet chime I loved be rung,
The sounds along the northern wall,
Shall thrill me like a trumpet call”
Thus said he, and the set of sun
The bold Crusader’s race was run.
Seek ye his ruined hall and tower
Then stand beneath tall Stratton Tower
The Mort Main
Now the Demon had watched for the warrior’s soul
Mid the din of war where blood streams roll
He had waited long on the dabbled sands,
Ere the Priest had cleansed the gory hand
Then as he heard the stately dole,
Wherewith Sir Ralph had soothed his soul
The unclean spirit turned away,
With a baffled glare of grim dismay.
But when he caught those words of trust,
That sevenfold choice among the just,
“Ho! Ho! Cried the fiend with a mock at heaven
“I have lost but one, I shall win my seven.”
After ten years in the workplace I became a mother to three very beautiful daughters, I was fortunate enough to have been able to stay at home and spend my time with them as they grew into the young women they are now. I am still in the position of being able to be at home and pursue all the interests I have previously mentioned. We live in a beautiful Victorian spa town with wooded walks for the dog, lovely shops and a host of lovely people, what more could I ask for.
All works © Andrea Povey 2014. Please do not reproduce without the expressed written consent of Andrea Povey.
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