HIST 371 Lecture Outline (Fall 2016 – Week 5)


Week 5: Lordship and Government



Medieval fiddle (vielle) music, played by Barry Hall (2:18 min.)
“Estampie real” (from the “Chansonnier du Roi,” Paris, Bibl. nat., MS fonds français 844, folios 103-4, c. 1300; 57:46 min.)
(for notes on MS, see http://www.goear.com/listen/a7db187/estampies-royales-manuscript-royal-de-paris-siecle-xiii-jordi-savall-hesperion-xxi)


Bartlett, England under the Norman and Angevin Kings, pp. 121-143 (Kingship and Lordship, Regality, the Household and Household Administration, Itineration)
Carlin and Crouch, Lost Letters of Medieval Life, pp. 84-85 (Document 19)

Topic and Terms:

The apparatus of power:
armed men, treasure, courts, lands, officials, and secretariats
Lord, vassal, tenant-in-chief
Earl/countess (16 earldoms in England in 1200): Earls received the “third penny” from their counties (i.e., one-third of the profits of the county court and the royal boroughs)
Baron/lady [baroness] (approx. 100-200 tenants-in-chief below the level of earl, holding more than 5 knights’ fees and with annual incomes of around £100 or more)
Knight/lady [women could not be knights themselves]
Archbishop, bishop, archdeacon
Constant itineration of kings and lords
Prise (of wine, etc.)

Discussion Topics:

According to Robert Bartlett:
What were some of the ways in which kingship was ordinary lordship writ large?
What were some ways in which kingship was very different from ordinary lordship?
What were the standard units of administration of a magnate household?
Why did lords and kings travel so incessantly?

According to Document 19 in Lost Letters of Medieval Life:
What was the prise system?
What were some of the major defects in the prise system?
What does the following sentence mean:
“If you find anyone who resists, place him on pledge and surety to come to the king’s court and answer to the king for his defiance.”

Money Quiz:

You are a master carpenter who earns 2d. a day. Like everyone else, you work six days a week, and you lose about 36 days’ work to religious holidays. How much do you earn in a year?


Castle — Rochester and Hedingham, Episode 2
(46:43 minutes; begin at 8:30 for castle-building in the 12th century; 11:30 for castle furnishings and occupation; 14:40 for Magna Carta and siege of Rochester Castle, 1215)

David Starkey’s Monarchy, 2: Medieval Monarchs
(54:44 min.),
(Henry II, 00:26-11:45 min.)
(John: 12:44-17:52)
(Henry III, to 1258: 17:53-22:22)

Robert Bartlett, Inside the Medieval Mind: Power (Part 4 of 6)
(9:58 minutes)
(start at 4:40- end, King John)

Robert Bartlett, Inside the Medieval Mind: Power (Part 5 of 6)
(9:58 minutes)
(00:00 – 1:48, Magna Carta)

Bad King John (part 2 of 2: 10 minutes):


The Angevin “Empire”:

Henry III’s territories:

Medieval England and Wales:

Wales and the Marches in the Thirteenth Century:

Map of England by Matthew Paris

Family Trees:

The Norman and Angevin/Plantagenet kings of England, 1066-1377:

The descendents of Henry II and Eleanor of Acquitaine:

Sample Primary Source:

Chronicle account by Roger of Wendover, monk of St. Albans, of King John’s loss of Normandy to King Philip Augustus of France in 1203-4. John’s queen was Isabelle, heiress of the count of Angoulême; John had married her in August 1200, when she was twelve years old. Because Isabelle had been betrothed to the vassal of an important Poitevin lord, John de Lusignon, and because de Lusignon appealed the matter to King Philip, the French king used the pretext of King John’s refusal to appear before his court in Paris to invade King John’s French possessions. A major prize was Philip’s capture of the castle on the “Rock of Andelys” — Richard the Lionheart’s gem, Château Gaillard:

How the Nobles of England Deserted King John in NOrmandy.

A.d. 1203. King John spent Christmas [25 December 1202] at Caen in Normandy, where, laying aside all thoughts of war, he feasted sumptuously with his queen daily, and prolonged his sleep in the morning till breakfast time. But after the solemnities of Easter [6 April 1203] had been observed, the French king, having collected a large army, took several castles belonging to the king of England, some of which he levelled to the ground, but the stronger ones he kept entire. At length messengers came to king John with the news, saying, the king of the French has entered your territories as an enemy, has taken such and such castles, carries off the governors of them ignominiously bound to their horses’ tails, and disposes of your property at will, without any one gainsaying him. In reply to this news, king John said, ” Let him do so; whatever he now seizes on I will one day recover;” and neither these messengers, nor others who brought him the like news, could obtain any other answer. But the earls and barons, and other nobles of the kingdom of England, who had till that time firmly adhered to him, when they heard his words and saw his incorrigible idleness, obtained his permission and returned home, pretending that they would come back to him, and so left the king with only a few soldiers in Normandy . . .

How king John came to England and exacted large sums of money from the nobles.

King John at length seeing his fault, and that he was destitute of all military supplies, took ship in all haste and on St. Nicholas’s day [6 December 1203] landed at Portsmouth. Then urging against the earls and barons as an excuse, that they had left him in the midst of his enemies on the continent, by which he had lost his castles and territories through their defection, he took from them the seventh part of all their moveable goods; and in this act he did not refrain from laying violent hands on the property of conventual or parochial churches, inasmuch as he employed Hubert [Walter] archbishop of Canterbury as the agent of this robbery in regard to the church property, and Geoffrey Fitz-Peter [Earl of Essex], justiciary of England, for the goods of the laity, and these two spared no one in the execution of their orders. The French king, when he learnt that the king of England had left his transmarine territories, went in great strength to each of the towns and castles of the district, explaining to the citizens and governors of castles that they were deserted by their lord. He also said that he was the principal lord of those provinces, and that if the English king should ignominiously abandon them, he had no intention of losing the superior authority which belonged to him; wherefore he begged of them as a friend to receive him as their lord since they had no other; but he declared with an oath, that if they did not do this willingly, and dared to contend against him, he would subdue them as enemies and hang them all on the gibbet or flay them alive. At length, after much disputing on both sides, they unanimously agreed to give hostages to the king of the French, for their keeping a truce for one year; after which time, if they did not receive assistance from the king of the English, they would thenceorward acknowledge him as their ruler, and give the cities and castles up to him; having effected this the French king returned to his own territories. . .

How Normandy with other transmarine possessions yielded to the rule of the French king.

About that time the French king’s army which for almost a year had been besieging the castle of the Rock of Andelys [i.e., Château Gaillard], had undermined and knocked down a great part of the walls. But the noble and warlike Roger, constable of Chester, still defended the entrance against the French; but at length his provisions failing him, and being reduced to such want, that no one had a single allowance of food, he preferred to die in battle to being starved: on which he and his soldiers armed themselves, flew to horse, and sallied from the castle: but after they had slain numbers opposed to them, they were at length taken prisoners, although with much difficulty. Thus the castle of the Rock of Andelys fell into the hands of the French king on the 6th of March [1204], and Roger de Lacy with all his followers were taken to France, where, on account of the bravery which he had shown in defence of his castle, he was detained prisoner on parole. On this all the holders of castles in the transmarine territories, with the citizens and other subjects of the king of England, sent messengers to England to tell him in what a precarious situation they were placed, and that the time, according to the terms of the treaty, was near, when they must either give up the cities and castles to the king of the French, or consign to destruction the hostages which they had given him. To which message king John answered; and intimated by the same messengers to all of them, that they were to expect no assistance from him, but that they each were to do what seemed best to him. And thus, all kind of defence failing in those provinces, the whole of Normandy, Tours, Anjou, and Poictou, with the cities, castles, and other possessions, except the castles of Rochelle, Thouars, and Niorz, fell to the dominion of the king of the French. When this was told to the English king, he was enjoying all the pleasures of life with his queen, in whose company he believed that he possessed everything he wanted; moreover, he felt confidence in the immensity of the wealth he had collected, as if by that he could regain the territory he had lost.

Source: Roger of Wendover’s Flowers of History, Comprising the History of England from the Descent of the Saxons to A.D. 1235, trans. J. A. Giles, 2 vols. (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1849), vol. II, pp. 206-209, 213-14, available online at
http://books.google.com/books?printsec=frontcover&pg=PA333&id=hjVVdz57dR0C#v=onepage&q&f=false [accessed 22 August 2011].


Corvus Corax (live in Münich, 2010): O varium fortune (Cantus Buranus; 6:29 min.):


Bartlett, England under the Norman and Angevin Kings, pp. 143-147 (Assemblies), pp. 147-171 (Territorial Administration, Royal Finances)

Carlin and Crouch, Lost Letters of Medieval Life, pp. 144-149 (Documents 42-43), pp. 184-191 (Documents 58-60)

Topics and Terms:

Lords and vassals:
Lord (landholder with one or more vassals)
Vassal (holder of one or more fiefs from a lord in return for fealty and military and other services)
Knight’s fee (from Latin feodum: an estate or other fief that would support one knight’s household, and for which the knight owed his services — mostly military — to the lord of the fee)
Homage (ceremony by which a vassal swore fealty to his lord and received one or more fiefs in return)
Fealty (oath of loyalty taken by a vassal when doing homage to his lord)
Seisin (full legal possession of freehold land)
Subinfeudation (process by which vassals divide their fief(s) and the services due for them among sub-vassals.)
Liege lord (chief lord)
Scutage (“shield-money,” from Latin scutum, shield: fee payable by a knight in lieu of performing military service. King John levied most scutages at 4 marks per knight’s fee, and imposed them on his tenants-in-chief every 18 months.)
Relief (inheritance tax payable by a vassal’s heir to the lord of the fee. The amount was fixed by Magna Carta at £100 for a barony or honour [large territorial fief] and 100 shillings for a knight’s fee.)
Aid (tax payable by vassals and free tenants to lords for ransom of the lord himself, knighting of his eldest son, or marriage of his eldest daughter.)
Feudal incidents (miscellaneous payments and other demands, such as the wardship of minor heirs, due to lords from vassals)

Counties and sheriffs:
County/shire: England was divided into 39 counties. (Counties called “shire,” e.g., Yorkshire, took their name from their county town.)
Sheriff (“shire-reeve” in English; “vicecomes” [deputy-count] in Latin. Royal officer in charge of each county except Cheshire and Durham, where the sheriff was appointed, respectively, by the earl of Chester and the bishop of Durham. The sheriffs presided every month over the county court, and accounted annually to the royal Exchequer for the farms or full revenues of their counties.)
County farm (fixed amount payable annually by the sheriff to the Exchequer from the profits of the county: fines from county and hundred courts, profits from manors in royal demesne, etc.)
Hundred or wapentake (subdivision of the county, called “hundred” in the south and “wapentake” in the former Danelaw)
Hundred court (civil court held monthly by the sheriff’s bailiff or lord’s steward; twice a year courts of frankpledge were held in each hundred by the sheriff to check that each free adult male was enrolled in a tithing of ten men)
Suit of court (those who held land by freehold tenure were required to attend the respective hundred and county courts and the more substantial “suitors,” not the presiding officer, made the judgments)
Naam (property seized by distraint by an officer authorized by a court, from someone who had defaulted on carrying out a duty or service; the naam was held until the defaulter offered a pledge to perform the duty or to answer the case in court)

Royal finances:
Main ordinary sources of royal income: Crown lands (royal demesne), rights of feudal overlordship, taxes, profits of justice
Exchequer: royal finance department, first mentioned in 1110. Normally headquartered in Westminster. Kept annual audit of sheriffs’ accounts, and accounts of certain other royal debtors, on parchment rolls called “Pipe Rolls.”
Tally sticks (see also drawing of a tally stick for 6s. 8d. issued by Edw. I’s Treasurer to the Sheriff of Lincolnshire) Wooden sticks used as IOU’s/receipts by royal officials and others.
Forest law (special laws governing all areas included in royal forests)