The Magna Carta Project

John’s chancery staff departs for England

by Professor Nicholas Vincent

21 September 1214 - 27 September 1214


21-22 Sep 1214

Niort (Deux-Sèvres)

RC, 201; RLP, 122; RLC, i, 172b, 202b

23 Sep 1214

Saint-Jean-d’Angély (Charente-Maritime)

RLC, i, 172b

After the making of the truce on 18 September, the chancery rolls continue extremely sparse through to the King's sailing to England in October.  Presumably, either a large part of the chancery staff went ahead of the King into England, or the system by which letters were kept for copying onto the chancery rolls somehow broke down.  What we know of the business of these weeks comes to us chiefly from a parchment schedule copying nine royal charters issued on or after 22 September, later inserted at the appropriate place within the chancery Charter Roll.  The Charter Roll is otherwise devoid of items issued between 13 September and 28 October.1  The Patent Roll records no business dated between 21 September and 25 October, restarting in October on a new parchment membrane.2  The Close Roll has no business dated after 21 September and before 15 October when it likewise resumes on a new membrane.3  All of the charters recorded on the Charter Roll as issued at Niort on 22 September concern grants of fairs and markets in England to Anglo-Norman barons (Nicholas de Verdun, Norman d'Arcy, William of Lancaster and William of Avranches) and are witnessed by Anglo-Norman courtiers, save for a charter supposedly granting Savaric de Mauléon the privilege of minting his own coin equivalent to the value of the livre poitevin, a charter which has itself been crossed through on the roll with a marginal note 'cancelled' (cancell'), perhaps because it was never issued.4  On 21 September, the Close Roll records an order to Peter de Maulay to send the King two of the five remaining barrels of coin kept at La Rochelle, under the guard of at least twenty mounted serjeants, ready to meet the King at Saint-Jean-d'Angély on 23 September.5  Robes were supplied to the King's two trumpeters who had been with him in Poitou.  The very last item of business recorded on the Close Roll before the King's departure commands the seneschal of Angoulême to send the King whatever game (preda) had been taken on his behalf.6  Even at this stage, the King seems not to have overlooked his passion for the chase.


RC, 201-2, from TNA/PRO C 53/12 (Charter Roll 16 John) mm.7-6.


RLP, 122.


RLC, i, 172b-173, and cf. the letters enrolled on the dorse of the Close Roll (RLC, i, 202b), dated 21 September, warning Peter des Roches that the King was preoccupied with affairs in Poitou and that the election of a new abbot at St Albans should therefore be left for consideration until a fortnight after his return to England.


RC, 201.


RLC, i, 172b.


RLC, i, 172b-173.

King John's Diary & Itinerary