The Magna Carta Project

John and the siege of Rochester: week four

by Professor Nicholas Vincent

1 November 1215 - 7 November 1215


1-7 Nov 1215

Rochester (Kent)

RLP, 158-9; RLC, i, 234-5

A siege

Detail of a siege, BL Harley MS 1526 f.18v (France, 2nd quarter of the 13th century)

In this, the fourth week of the siege of Rochester, matters proceeded much as before. The King continued to command the confiscation of rebel estates, adding the names of Henry of Braybrooke, Alexander of Pointon and James de Neufmarché to the list of those said to be 'with the King's enemies'.1 Royalists continued to be rewarded, not least with the restoration to them of fees within their honours previously held by rebels.2 In a limited number of instances, confiscated land was restored to its previous holders, either because such men had returned to allegiance, or more likely in correction of false reports of rebel allegiance.3 In one such instance, requiring John fitz Hugh to disgorge land seized in Oxfordshire, the King added a postscript to his mandate, promising that 'very shortly and God willing', John would receive far more land.4 Foreign mercenaries, especially Flemings, continued to be landed at the King's ports.5 Here, too, we find orders to the 'masters' (plural) of the King's galleys, and to the bailiffs of Portsmouth in favour of Enjuger de Bohun, a Sussex landowner who in due course is to be found presiding over the ship in which the King proposed to embark for his putative crusade.6 To Hastings, the Cinque Ports and those parts of southern England where Godfrey of Crowcombe now served as commander, the King dispatched verbal commands to be delivered by Hugh de Foresta.7 Savaric de Mauléon, commanding further mercenaries from southern France, was once again promised circulation for the money struck in his mints in Poitou.8 As for circumstances at Rochester itself, mangonels were brought across the Weald from Winchelsea, and the bailiffs of Canterbury were promised reimbursement of their expenses not only in the defence of their city but in providing pickaxes ('pikosii'), shovels ('beschae') and other iron tools, arms, ladders ('scalae'), shields ('targiari') and ropes.9 The King's mercenaries were specifically prohibited from attacks upon the property or persons of the canons of St Mary's Southwark.10 On Sunday 6 November, an annual pension was promised to Master Raniero, variously described as acolyte or notary of the Pope, our first proof since September 1215 of ongoing Anglo-papal diplomacy.11


Seizures from in Wiltshire from Gerard of Membury, in favour of William de Ros; at Frome in Somerset from Ralph fitz Bernard, in favour of Oliver, the King's bastard son; from Nicholas de Kennet at Lamberhurst in Kent, and from William fitz Reiner in Kent, Essex, Middelsex and Surrey, in favour of Walter of Hanl(ey); from Robert de Vere in Buckinghamshire, in favour of Elias de Beauchamp; from Richard of Graveney at Tooting, and from William Huscarl at Beddington in Surrey, in favour of Denis 'clericus' the King's servant; from John de Mar(?isco) at 'Seutling' (?Selling) in Kent, in favour of Walter, Maloc and Geoffrey de Merc; from Alexander of Pointon in Lincolnshire in favour of Daniel de Ghent; from Henry of St Albans, in favour of Thomas de Saint-Valery; from William clerk of Winterslaw at Sutton in Wiltshire, in favour of Nicholas de Limesy; from James of Neufmarché/Newmarket in Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire, Buckinghamshire and Gloucestershire, in favour of John Russell; from Gilbert de Baseville at Worplesdon in Surrey, in favour of James of Scudemore; from Richard de Ve(?re) in Frampton on Severn, Gloucestershire, in favour of Aelard the Fleming, and from Henry of Braybrooke in Northamptonshire, in favour of Henry de Ortiay: RLC, i, 234-5. Of those listed here, we elsewhere find both William de Ros and Richard of Graveney amongst the four Kentish knights charged in June 1215 with administering oaths to the baronial twenty-five in the Kent county court: N. Vincent, 'Feature of the Month: July 2015 - A New Letter of the Twenty-Five Barons of Magna Carta'. Nicholas of Kennet, a knight holding of Geoffrey de Mandeville's honour of Gloucester, can be found in 1216 witnessing amongst other rebel barons and knights still established in London: N. Vincent, 'Feature of the Month: May 2015 - A Glimpse of Rebel London, May 1216’.


As in the case of fees belonging to the estates of William Brewer (RLC, i, 234), the count of Eu (RLC, i, 234-4b, including land confiscated from Ralph Pilot, Robert de Crevequer and Reginald of Cornhill), and Thomas de Saint-Valery (RLC, i, 234b, including land confiscated from Henry of St Albans), and cf. the promise of £40 of land to Ralph Gernon (RLC, i, 234b).


RLC, i, 234-4b, covering the release from captivity of Warin Child, should it be found on inquest that he was a man of Robert de Vieuxpont, and the lands of Ralph Martel, and Ralph de Montibus (at Kirtlington, Oxfordshire), and Gilbert de Halling, and cf. the restoration to William of Bodiham of land that Ralph de Normanville had previously held with an heiress, now dead, whose heir William was said to be: RLC, i, 234b.


RLC, i, 234b-5, 'nec moleste hoc feratis quia in breui, Deo dante, vobis prouidebimus in terra que multo plus valebit'.


RLC, i, 234-4b, covering the costs of landing ships belonging to Reginald de Santavintes, Godeschal of Louvain and Thomas de Graveling, in the last of which Guarin de Canceya is said to have landed.


RLP, 158, licence to Geoffrey Caperon and his fellow merchants to export horn, wool and hare skins, directed to the 'magistri galearum'; RLC, i, 234, commanding that Enjuger have the mast ('malum') of the King's great ship granted to Richard Deudone. For Richard's widow, on 4 November granted a pensions of 100s. from the profits of Southampton, see RLC i, 234b. For Enjuger's involvement elsewhere in the King's naval affairs, see N. Vincent, ‘A Nuns’ Priests’ Tale: The Foundation of Easebourne Priory (1216-1240)’, Sussex Archaeological Collections, cxlvii (2009), 113-14.


RLP, 158.


RLP, 158b-9, following on from orders of September 1214 and May 1215, King John’s Diary and Itinerary 24-30 May.


RLC, i, 234-4b.


RLP, 158, directed to the King's knights, serjeants and mercenaries ('soldarii').


RLP, 158b, here assuming that the two promises, of 10 marks or 20 marks from the King's chamber, pending the assignment of a benefice, were intended for the same man.

King John's Diary & Itinerary