The Magna Carta Project

John demonstrates his willingness to rule according to law

by Professor Nicholas Vincent

28 September 1214 - 4 October 1214


30 Sep 1214

Saintes (Charente-Maritime)

RC, 201b

2 Oct 1214

La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime)

RC, 201b

The King travelled south to Saintes on 30 September, returning to La Rochelle by 1 October.  Only four letters are recorded this week, all from the schedule of copies later inserted into the chancery Charter Roll.1  One of them is a routine grant of a market in England.  Another concerns a failed promotion to the office of chancellor in Chichester Cathedral of a man named Hugh de Tonnay, perhaps a kinsman of the lords of Tonnay-Charente.2  The two other charters are more interesting.  The first concerns the transfer of the lordship and castle of La Couture in Gascony to the archbishop of Bordeaux.3  The interest here lies principally in a memorandum inserted after the charter noting that when he next came to England the archbishop would pay ten marks to the chancellor and two marks five shillings to clerks and servants (of the chancery).  In other words, there was no chancery officer in Poitou at this time able to take the standard fees payable for the issue of new grants.  The fees themselves prove that the arrangements for the payment of charters remained in force, as laid down in John's chancery ordinance issued in June 1199, immediately after the King's coronation.  The fee to be paid by the archbishop in September 1214 was equivalent to the 12 marks and five shillings specified in 1199 as the fee for a charter of new enfeoffment; namely ten marks to the chancellor, a mark each for the vice-chancellor and the protonotary, and five shillings for the wax.4 

The last of the King's charters recorded as being issued in Poitou is undated, but was intended to ensure succession to the estates of the earldom of Aumale for William de Forz, a Poitevin knight, son of the late heiress of Aumale, herself previously married to Baldwin of Béthune.  The charter is interesting in several respects.  It makes the grant of the earldom to William conditional upon his marriage to Avelina, a daughter of the Essex baron Richard de Montfiquet, himself a crucial player in the subsequent rebellion of 1215, with longstanding grievances against the crown.5  It also guarantees Baldwin's daughter her marriage portion within the earldom 'according to English custom', yet another reminder of the King's anxiety to be seen acting in accordance with law.  Both William and his mother were pardoned the reliefs that they would otherwise have been expected to pay for their inheritance, and William was promised not only the restoration of stock taken by the King, but a 40 mark annual rent at the time of his marriage with Avelina. William de Forz was to have a prominent role in English politics for the next thirty years.6  In June 1215, both he and his father-in-law, Richard de Montfiquet, were to be numbered amongst the twenty-five rebel barons of Magna Carta.


RC, 201b.


RC, 201b, apparently occasioned by the failed attempt to have Ralph de Neville, the previous chancellor, promoted as dean of York, for which see Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066-1300. Volume 5 – Chichester, ed. D. Greenway (London, 1996), 15.


RC, 201b, also preserved as a (fraudulently enhanced) copy in the cartulary of the archbishopric of Bordeaux: Le Cartulaire de l’église collégiale St-Seurin de Bordeaux, ed. J.-A. Brutails (Bordeaux 1897), 351 no.353.  For the identity of the estate, more likely La Couture, Lot-et-Garonne, com. Romestaing, cant. Bouglon, than Couthures-sur-Garonne, Lot-et-Garonne, cant. Meilhan-sur-Garonne, see F. Boutoulle, Le duc et la société: pouvoirs et groupes sociaux dans la Gascogne bordelaise au XIIe siècle (1075-1199) (Bordeaux 2007), 335.


Foedera, Conventiones, Litterae etc., or Rymer’s Foedera, 1066-1383, ed. A. Clarke et al., vol. 1, part i (London, 1816), 95-6.


For Richard, see : N. Vincent, ‘Montfichet, Richard de (b. after 1190, d. 1267)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2005 [, accessed 17 Sept 2014].


R.V. Turner, ‘William de Forz, Count of Aumale: An Early Thirteenth-Century English Baron’, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 115 (1971), 221-49.

King John's Diary & Itinerary