The Magna Carta Project

John and the siege of Rochester: week three

by Professor Nicholas Vincent

25 October 1215 - 31 October 1215


25-31 Oct 1215

Rochester (Kent)

RLP, 158; RLC, i, 233-4

Rochester Castle

Rochester Castle

This was a week of relative inactivity at Rochester. On Sunday 28 October, the King paid his Flemish mercenaries half of the new fees that had been promised to them, undertaking to pay the remainder on 30 November. If peace were made meanwhile, his mercenaries were to be paid off within eight days. His instructions here include a significant reference to the (long lost) rolls of the King's wardrobe in which each fee was individually accounted.1 On 30 October, William, the King's tailor was instructed to grant one of the King's Flemish captains, Baldwin de Haverskerque, a helmet previously belonging to the King, but not the King's helmet decorated with jewels.2 For the rest, the rolls continue to record the payment of transport costs for mercenaries shipped across the Channel via Sandwich and Dover.3 Land was seized from rebels as far afield as Somerset and Lincolnshire, but with a continuing focus upon Kent, where Hubert de Burgh was rewarded with the manor and hundred of Hoo, previously held by Robert Bardulf and valued at £100.4 Both William Ferrers, earl of Derby, and Ranulf earl of Chester, were promised the reversion of whatever fees might be confiscated from their rebel tenantry, whilst the increasing reach and precision with such seizures were made, including the precise valuations now assigned to rebel lands, suggests a county-by-county enquiry into rebel landholdings.5 At Winchester, William Brewer was commanded to compensate the city's mayor, and one of his fellow citizens, for chattels stolen by the King's enemies, suggesting the spread of unrest across southern England.6 Letters of safe conduct or grace for William Aguillon and William de Semilly (a junior member of the Hommet family, constables of Normandy) suggest the recruitment of further Frenchmen to the King's cause rather than the outcome of negotiations with rebels.7


RLP, 158.


RLC, i, 233b.


Hence the payment of the ferry costs ('frettum') of Goswin de Egrem, Nicholas de Homerville and Nicholas de Toukes, of men coming from Damme, and of serjeants of Lambert de Gravening: RLC, i, 233-3b


Hoo: RLC, i, 233b. Elsewhere in Kent, seizures from Reginald of Buckland (in Buckland, in favour of John the King's baker), from the knights of Robert de Crevequeor (in favour of Joldewin de Doué), from William de Guininges of the fee of William de Ros (in favour of Robert de Bareville), from Achard de Audenham (in favour of Michael the Welshman, valet of Philip de Langeberg, at Dartford), from Robert de Grammaville (in favour of William de Putot, at Gravesend): RLC, i, 233-3b. Elsewhere, seizures from Robert de Mandeville, a prisoner in Corfe castle (in favour of Ralph and William de Faye), from Matilda de Caux (restored to Richard the Welshman, at Winterbourne in Gloucestershire, previously held by Matilda at farm), in Somerset from Matthew of Clifton (at Clifton, in favour of Robert de Bayeux) and a man named William (in favour of Thomas de Mariscis, valet of William Brewer, at Shiplate, Middlezoy and 'Sistereinton'; from Simon de Kyme in Lincolnshire (in favour of Geoffrey de Neville); from Robert de Abbeville in Sussex (at Icklesham, in favour of Nicholas de Haringod); from Eudo Patrick in Wiltshire (at Barford, in favour of Walter de Baiollolet), and from Hamo the falconer at Braunston (in favour of William de Ferrers): RLC, i, 233-3b. For transfers of land that did not necessarily imply seizures from rebels, see the grant of Coleby Lincolnshire to William de Préaux, as the fee of his wife; of Ockford-Shillings (alias Shillingstone, Dorset) to Hugh de Neville, and of the Cornish land of Thomas Bloet to Roland Bloet, presumably a kinsman: RLC, i, 233-4.


RLC, i, 233b, and for valuations, generally set in units of £5, RLC, i, 233-3b.


RLC, i, 233.


RLP, 158.

King John's Diary & Itinerary