The Magna Carta Project

John and the siege of Rochester: week six

by Professor Nicholas Vincent

15 November 1215 - 21 November 1215


15-21 Nov 1215

Rochester (Kent)

RLP, 159-60; RLC, i, 236b-8; Rot.Ob., 567

Giles de Broase

Effigy of Giles de Broase, bishop of Hereford, in Hereford Cathedral

The present week (the sixth that the King spent encamped before Rochester) witnessed significant changes in local government. The castles of Guildford, Oxford, and Portchester reveived new constables, and Fawkes de Breauté was granted custody of Oxfordshire, as the King's bailiff but as yet without formal office as sheriff.1 In the far west, Robert de Cardinan was appointed to keep the county of Cornwall, with the King specifically disassociating himself from a series of homages and fealties that had been demanded by the previous sheriff, Henry fitz Count.2 At the same time, Henry fitz Count was commanded to release the castle of Totnes to Reginald de Vautort, one of several potential claimants to this hotly disputed Devon lordship.3 Henry himself retained custody of the stannaries of Cornwall, but not those of Devon.4 The death of Giles de Braose, bishop of Hereford, of which the King learned this week, led to a major redistribution of the Braose lands and castles. Here, Bramber castle was taken from John of Monmouth, Knepp was granted in custody to Roland Bloet, and the late bishop's castles and estates in Herefordshire passed to Walter Clifford the younger, with the remainder being assigned to William Marshal.5 An exceptionally large number of rebels faced the confiscation of their lands: no less than thirty-six individuals, ranging from great barons to minor freeholders, had their estates redistributed this week in favour of royalists.6 Foreign mercenaries continued to land at Sandwich and Dover, whilst elsewhere there were orders for wages or arrears to be paid to those already serving in England with Fawkes de Breauté, John Marshal, Peter de Maulay, and Geoffrey de Neville, the money in these instances being raised locally, sometimes from the forced seizures (or 'tenseria') imposed upon rebel estates.7 Fawkes himself seems to have been operating by this time not just in Oxfordshire, but as far west as Bridgnorth in Shropshire, and as far east as Lincoln, where he and Geoffrey de Neville were expected to station troops, under the castellan, Nicola de Haye, 'to harass our enemies'.8 There was continued concern to police Channel shipping, with the arrest of ships at Hythe and Hastings.9 At Winchelsea, a Thursday market, previously held on the land of John of Guestling, was moved within the town, near to the church of St Thomas, perhaps in response to John of Guestling siding with the rebels.10 A ship belonging to Thomas de Saint-Valery, arrested by one of the King's galleys in the Orwell estuary, was ordered released, and Thomas himself was once again promised restoration to his lands in Hampshire.11 Elsewhere, there were promises of land for Richard de Mucegros, and commands for the restoration of estates seized either for rebellion, or by mistake, from Roland Bloet and Roger of Mereworth (this latter, apparently as a former rebel, fining 40 marks for restoration).12 On 18 November, from Rochester, the King sent further messages to Rome. The fact that their bearer, Peter de Cresek, was expected to pass through the lands of the German emperor perhaps suggests that the Rhineland route was on this occasion chosen in preference to the more customary, but by this time more perilous route through France.13



RLP, 159-9b: Portchester from Jocelin de Montibus to a replacement to be nominated by Peter fitz Herbert, Guildford from John fitz Hugh to whomever the bishop of Winchester might nominate, Oxford to whomever Fawkes de Breauté might appoint.


RLP, 159, ending 'et sciatis quod per nos non fuit id quod Henr(icus) fil(ius) comitis fec(it) de fidelitatibus et homagiis capiend(um) de dominicis nostris'.


RLP, 159b.


RLC, i, 237b.


RLP, 159-60, and for the bishop's death, at Gloucester c.17 November, see King John’s Diary and Itinerary 18-24 October. Land at Horleslan and Burgelton, Herefordshire, seized by William Marshal, was subsequently ordered restored to Godeschal de Malines, who had held it before it had passed to the late bishop: RLC, i, 237b.


RLC, i, 236b-8, including seizures of the estates of Robert de Abernun (in Hayling, Hampshire, 50s. of land to Roger de Merlay), Nicholas of Anstey (in Essex, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire and Surrey, to Andrew de Chanceaux), Thomas of Arden (in Oxfordshire, to Osbert Giffard, here no doubt incorrectly described as the King's son), Nicholas of Bassingbourne (in Northamptonshire, to Baldwin de Guînes), John de Bayeux (in 'Waya', Dorset, to Walter de Bray, provided a value of less than £10), Michael Belet (in Sheen, Surrey, and elsewhere in Dorset, to Hugh de Neville, although see RLC, i, 236b for the possibility that Michael had died, with Ralph Mussard petitioning for custody of his widow on behalf of a kinsman), William Blund (to Theodoric the Teuton), Roger de Cantil(oupe) (in West (or 'Parva') Quantoxhead, Somerset, land worth £10 to William Brewer the younger), John de Clichesham (in Kent, £20 of land to Ernald de Grebevalle), Philip de Columbières (in 'Sac', ?Shaw, Berkshire, to Peter fitz Herbert), Brian fitz Ralph (in Chessington, Farleigh near Croydon, and Malden, Surrey, granted to Hugh of Windsor), Gilbert fitz Reiner (in Donnington, Berkshire, to Peter fitz Herbert), Geoffrey fitz Theoderic (in Lillechurch alias Higham, Kent, granted to Geoffrey le Sauvage), Henry Furneaux ('Fornell') (in Kilve ('Keue') and Heathcombe ('Ecumb'), Somerset, to Nicholas Avenel, cf. VCH Somerset, v, 98; vi, 9), Maurice de Gaunt/Ghent (in Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Somerset, to Philip d'Aubigny, save for the manors of Weston and Beverston, Gloucestershire, cf. King John’s Diary and Itinerary 8-14 November), Richard de Graveney (in Graveney, Kent, and Tooting, Surrey, to Brito the crossbowman), Baldwin of Hodnet (in Manley, Staffordshire, to Geoffrey de Canville), William of Huntingfield (custody of land of Henry Biset in Shamblehurst, Hampshire, and Kidderminster, Worcestershire, to Roger de la Zuche), Nicholas de Kennet (at Lamberhurst, Kent, £10 of land to Walter Arket), William de Keword' (in Blackland, Wiltshire, to William de Canville, provided worth less than £5), Geoffrey de Lucy (custody of the lands once belonging to Juhel de Mayenne, at 'Luvuntun' and Black Torrington, Devon, granted to Hugh Wacelin/Gacelin and Hamelin his brother), Geoffrey de Mandeville (at Alrewas, Staffordshire, to Geoffrey de Canville), William de Mandeville (in 'Gessich' (?Gussage, Dorset), granted to Ralph de Raleigh), Robert Mauduit (in 'Hurtleg', Somerset, to Peter fitz Herbert), James de Neufmarché (in Berkshire, to John Russell), Hugh Peverel of Ermington (in Ermington, Devon, to William Brewer the younger), Nicholas Pincerna (in 'Tillebir', Yorkshire, to Gerard Flaundrin), Hugh de Plaiz (in Portsea, Hampshire, £10 of land to Walter Rufus), Henry d'Oilly (in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, to Engelard de Cigogné), Roland of Oxted (in Oxted ('Aested'), Surrey, to Hugh de Neville), Robert de Rokele (at Westwood, Kent, to Furmer de Hentrevalle), Robert de Saucey (in Northamptonshire, to Ingelram de Gentele), John de St Helen (in 'Abendon' Buckinghamshire (probably Abingdon, Berkshire), to Walter de Saint-Ouen), John de St John (in Somerset and Wiltshire, to Fawkes de Breauté), Walter of Tew (in Tew, Oxfordshire, and Kilmersdon ('Kinemeresden'), Somerset, granted to Roger Aliz, a knight of Peter des Roches, bishop of Winchester), William de Tychesye (in Iwade, Kent, to Geoffrey the Fleming, provided valued at less than £5), John de Wahull (in Hampshire, to Godeschal de Malines).


RLC, i, 236b-8, including notice of the landing of Baldwin de Comines (Komen, Belgium, Hainault. arr. Mouscron), John de Chisham, Saher de Malines, Boidin de Slipes, Gerard de Zottegem, Hoel de Vendioles, in each case accompanied by mercenary companies.


RLP, 159b ('ad grauandum inimicos nostros'); RLC, i, 238.


RLC, i, 237, 238, including orders for the release of eight sailors from Boulogne held at Hastings. At Portsmouth, Enjuger de Bohun was promised a mast ('virga') from one of the King's ships: RLC, i, 237b.


RLC, i, 237, including orders over John's land at Rye.


RLP, 159, naming those on the ship arrested at Dunwich as William de Saint-Valery, Amfred Feidin and Thomas de Molineaux, and for the land at Norton St Valery and Sutton Scotney, Hampshire, see RLC, i, 237b, and for the previous allocation of Sutton and Norton to Henry de Saint-Valery, see RLC, i, 232b.


RLC, i, 237-7b; Rot.Ob., 567 (Roger of Mereworth fining 40 marks, for which Stephen Harengod was expected to answer), and cf. RLP, 159, for a safe conduct granted so that Eudo de Eyton and his wife might discuss a certain exaction ('de quadam exactione') claimed from them by Peter de Maulay.


RLP, 159.

King John's Diary & Itinerary