English Politics in the Thirteenth Century by Michael Prestwich

By Michael Prestwich

Meant to collect contemporary rules in regards to the thirteenth century, this booklet discusses kingship, the aristocracy, the county neighborhood, the Church, Englishmen and foreigners, army provider, taxation and parliament and neighborhood.

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It was necessary for lords to provide for the interests of their followers: if they did not do so, they would soon lose their backing. The re volt of Richard the Marshai in 1233 was precipitated by Henry m's cancellation of a grant to Gilbert Basset of the manor of Upavon in Wiltshire. Gilbert was a member of the circle connected to the Marshai, who duly felt obliged to assist him. IO In a wider sense, the need great men had to provide good lordship towards their supporters helps to explain why there is so much emphasis in so many of the major reforming enactments of the period on the interests not of the magnates themselves, but of their tenants and knights.

In 1226 John Marshal's steward went to the court of Kesteven, one of the parts of Lincolnshire, on behalf of his lord, and there is further evidence for the practice of lords sending stewards to act on their behalf in the county courts. These men, expert in administration and law, held the key to the county courts: 'It was clearly the seneschals and bailiffs who dominated the county courts, at least when the bishops, abbots, earls and barons were not present'. 3 The author of Bracton in a celebrated passage referred to the way in which justices might summon be fore them four or six of the important men in the county, known as buzones, who would be given detailed instructions about such matters 53 English Politics in the Thirteenth Century as the organisation of the hue and cry.

In a well-known incident in 1295 Edward I was able to force the earl of Arundel and a group of other magnates to go to fight in Gascony against their wishes, simply by threatening to collect the debts that they owed to the crown. Most of Arundel's debts dated back to the relief imposed on William FitzAlan by J ohn. Exchequer press ure on Roger Bigod, earl of Norfolk, in the early 1290s was a factor which helps to explain why he was one of the leaders of opposition in 1297, but after the crisis of that year Edward effectively neutralised the earl in political terms by playing on his indebtedness to the crown, which stood at about fl ,800.

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