The Siege of Nottingham Castle in 1194

Nottingham-CastleThe Siege of Nottingham Castle in 1194

Trevor Foulds

Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire: v.95 (1991)

The last years of King Henry II’s reign were troubled by fierce family squabbles between him and his sons, Henry, Richard, Geoffrey and John. In order to try and secure a peaceful succession to the ramshackle edifice commonly termed the Angevin empire, Henry had proposed that young Henry would have Anjou, Maine, Touraine, Normandy and England, but in practice he was given no real power in these lands. Richard received Aquitaine in which he had real power. Geoffrey was married to Constance, the only daughter of the Duke of Brittany over whom Henry II claimed lordship; Geoffrey successfully imposed himself on the somewhat reluctant Bretons. As yet, John had nothing. John was made lord of Ireland in 1185 but his personal rule was so disastrous that he ignominiously scuttled back to England a failure six months later having wasted his resources. Death upset everything. Young Henry died of dysentry in 1183. Henry tried to affect a re-distribution of land to provide John with something by proposing that Richard release Aquitaine to John. Richard refused. Henry countered by refusing formally to recognise Richard as his heir. Richard was aggrieved, felt insecure and prepared for war. The situation was explosive and ripe for exploitation. The young king of France, Philip II, Henry II’s overlord for his continental possessions, gradually revealed the ambition which had remained concealed for some years: the ultimate dismemberment of the Angevin empire. It would take some years but here was the start. Devious and deceitful, he played one son off against the other and the sons against their father. Geoffrey was fatally wounded in a tournament and died in 1186. His son, Arthur, was born posthumously. Richard was keen to go on crusade but since Henry refused formally to recognise him as his heir he remained unsure of obtaining the crown of England. So Richard and Philip made war on Henry II. Henry was ill and they hounded him even to his death-bed. On seeing his son John’s name at the head of a list of his enemies, Henry’s will to live left him and he died almost alone at Chinon on 6th July 1189 at only 56 years of age.(1)


When Richard became king in July 1189 he carried out Henry II’s expressed but unfulfilled intentions regarding John. John was made Count of Mortain, which placed him amongst the higher ranks of the Norman barons, but did not provide him with much income. This Richard resolved by marrying John to the great heiress, Isabella of Gloucester. She brought with her the Earldom of Gloucester, which made John one of the greatest barons in England and gave him a substantial income. However, there was to be more. The Pipe Roll of 1189 reveals that John had been granted the honors of Peveril, Tickhill and Lancaster, two manors in Suffolk, land in Northamptonshire, the profits of Sherwood Forest and the Forest of Andover in Wiltshire. The grant of the honors of Peveril and Lancaster included the honorial castles, whereas the castles of Tickhill and Gloucester were reserved to the king as was Orford Castle in one of the Suffolk manors. Further honors were also given: Marlborough and Ludgershall with the castles, Eye and Wallingford possibly without the castles. Before the end of the year he received the counties of Nottingham, Derby, Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall with the vill of Nottingham and its honor, but not Nottingham Castle.(2) John still held Ireland but after the disastrous earlier episode he no longer ruled Ireland personally. Richard’s grants to John virtually created a kingdom within a kingdom and it was hoped that this would satisfy John and keep him quiet when Richard left on crusade. This form of government might have worked had the personalities involved in the delicate balancing act done their share of the balancing, but it was not to be.(3) Since Richard was unmarried when he left on crusade, from which he might not return, and his subsequent marriage to Berengaria of Navarre failed to produce an heir, John was the only adult heir of Richard, as Arthur, son of their brother Geoffrey, was a mere child. Neither the government left behind by Richard nor Queen Eleanor herself, John’s mother, could afford to unduly upset John, a situation he fully exploited.

Essentially, John wanted the castles which he had not received with their honors, such as Nottingham. Castles were status symbols and having an honor without the honorial castle was an impossible situation for a 12th-century baron to countenance. However much land he held, the lack of the castles diminished his status amongst other barons. Moreover, both Nottingham and Tickhill Castles were strategically important. Whoever controlled them and their respective honors was someone to be reckoned with and well-placed to commit both mischief and, if necessary, an act of defiance. John seized the castles of Nottingham and Tickhill in 1191, and held them more or less continuously for the next three years, despite the protests of the Council and his mother and attempts to dislodge him. The news of Richard’s capture and detention whilst returning from the Holy Land, which reached England at the very end of 1192, induced John to plot with Philip II, king of France, to displace Richard. The castles were still held for John, who was in France, when Richard eventually landed in England on 13th March 1194.

Richard’s siege of Nottingham Castle, from the 25th to the 28th of March 1194, has received scant attention from secondary writers on the period in contrast to the Council which followed its successful conclusion.(4) The brevity of the siege, lasting only three days, has led to the idea that it was an unimportant event. Its brevity was largely because of two factors: Richard’s military reputation and the immediacy and ferociousness of his initial attack, and the uncertainty of the besieged regarding their position. If they were in fact being besieged by the King himself they could expect little mercy for their act of defiance, but until they had ascertained that it was really Richard in person they were quite prepared to hold out for as long as possible; the Castle was well provisioned for an indefinite but prolonged period of time.(5) However once they had determined that they were besieged by the king rather than the agents of the Council, resistance collapsed.

Nottingham Castle stands on a narrow ridge of sandstone to the west of the medieval borough of Nottingham. At its highest point, some 200 feet (61 metres) above sea level, on the southern end of this ridge, was situated the motte and keep in what was known as the upper bailey enclosed in the late 12th century by a stone curtain wall. Below this to the north was the middle bailey also enclosed by a stone curtain wall at this time. To the north and east, following the rock towards the south, was the outer enclosure. This outer enclosure was defended by an earth and timber palisade. There appears to have been only one gate in this palisade which stood where the present 13th-century stone gate is now.(6) To the west of the defended area of the castle was the park, to the north what was known as the northern bailey, and an area possibly largely uninhabited in the late 12th century. To the east of the outer enclosure was the French Borough of Nottingham, and beyond that the English Borough set on its own sandstone eminence.

There are two detailed accounts of the siege of 1194: the chronicle of Roger of Howden and the panegyric poem Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal.(7) It seems clear from the text of Howden that the chronicler himself was present during the siege. He was aware of events removed from the army but is less clear on the military operations, unlike the source of the Histoire. His presence seems detectable in the episode of the interchange between the Archbishops of Canterbury and York(8) and especially in the detail of the arrival of the Bishop of Durham from the siege of Tickhill Castle. It is probable that the person from whom the account of the siege in theHistoire was derived was also present. Although this unknown person was seemingly unaware of certain occurrences involving the king removed from the scene of battle beyond the siege lines, he took more interest in the military operations against the castle, especially the king’s own part in the fighting. Details may differ between the two accounts, and the Histoire has the siege lasting only two days instead of Howden’s three days, yet many of the details appear to be eye-witness accounts, for example theHistoire’s account of the king greeting with a kiss the leaders of the besieging army sent by the Council before his arrival; how Richard was armoured for the siege; the positions of the crossbowmen and the advance behind shields towards the castle gate; and the references to ‘our people’ and ‘our men’.

On 4th February 1194, Richard had been set free from Germany by the Emperor Henry VI and letters were despatched from the Emperor to Philip II and John requiring them to restore to Richard all that was his.(9) Before the news may have reached England John, who was in France, sent over a clerk, Adam of St Edmund, who carried secret letters ordering all castles held by John’s men to be defended against the king. Adam dined with Hubert Walter, Archbishop of Canterbury, and rashly disclosed certain plans and the thinking of his master. Hubert, alarmed, remained composed and allowed Adam to leave on his mission but he was arrested by the Mayor of London and all his papers were taken and given to the Archbishop. The following day these papers were shown to the bishops, earls and barons of the Council and by common assent they disseised John of all his lands and proceeded to reduce his castles.(10) John and all his adherents were anathematised by the clergy. The Bishop of Durham, Hugh de Puiset, was to besiege Tickhill Castle with the armies of Yorkshire and Northumberland, the Archbishop of Canterbury besieged Marlborough Castle which was speedily reduced, and similarly so was Lancaster Castle besieged by the Archbishop’s brother, Theobald. There was little problem with Mont St Michel since the commander, Henry de Pumerai, who had ejected the monks of the abbey, died of fright on receiving the news of Richard’s release. To reduce Nottingham Castle were sent David, Earl of Huntingdon and brother of the King of Scots, Ranulph, Earl of Chester, and William, Earl Ferrers.(11) The sending of three earls to Nottingham may have been dictated by the knowledge that because of its position and reputed impregnability, a siege of Nottingham Castle could be difficult, absorbing time and money in its reduction. The Earl Ferrers, and to a certain extent the Earl of Chester, would have possessed invaluable local knowledge and could have called on the assistance of their tenants in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire. Tickhill Castle held out manfully, according to Howden, until the besieged heard of King Richard’s arrival in England. They obtained permission from the Bishop of Durham, who was besieging the castle, to send two knights to ascertain if Richard had really returned. This being so, they offered to return the castle to Richard who refused to accept it unless they made an unconditional surrender and threw themselves on his mercy. They returned to Tickhill and informed Robert de la Mare, the constable, of Richard’s conditions. They further parleyed with the Bishop of Durham who promised them their lives, and so handed over the Castle.(12)

On 13th March 1194 Richard had landed in England at Sandwich. Howden is silent on the king’s movements during the next twelve days until he arrived at Nottingham. The Histoire states that Richard left Marlborough with a large army and retinue and made straight for Nottingham.(13) Other chroniclers give an itinerary: Richard proceeded to London via Canterbury and Rochester, and left London arriving at Nottingham by way of Bury St Edmunds and Huntingdon.(14) He was met at Huntingdon by William Marshall.(15)

Meanwhile the siege of Nottingham Castle continued. Both Howden and the Histoire heavily imply that there had been little or no communication between the besiegers and the besieged. From both accounts the besieged were genuinely ignorant of Richard’s return and were under the impression that they were being attacked by John’s enemies so as to trick him out of the castle. Richard had expected a repetition of the surrender of Tickhill Castle but the besieged at Nottingham, unlike the garrison at Tickhill, did not send anyone out to ascertain if the rumours of the king’s return were true. If they had any information or had heard any rumours they simply refused to believe it or ignored it. It is possible that they were so heavily invested that men could neither get out to obtain information nor get in to tell them, or were deliberately prevented from gaining entrance by the besieging army. The apparent refusal of the Nottingham Castle garrison to seek out Richard to treat with him and obtain his terms angered the king: “But those who were in the castle of Nottingham did not send anyone to meet the king. Whereof, the king, angry, came to Nottingham on 25th March with so great a multitude of men and the sound of horns and trumpets, that those who were in the castle, hearing and seeing this, were astonished, perturbed [and] upset; fear overcame them and yet they were unable to believe that the king had come but hoped that all this [noise] was being made by the leaders (principibus) of the army to have sport with them (ad illudendum eis)”.(16)

From Howden’s account then, there was a genuine conviction on the part of the besieged that Richard had not returned to England and that the siege was a noisy deception by the enemies of John and the whole process thus treated as a game. At this stage, the Histoire knew nothing, or did not care, of the state of mind of the besieged, nor of the great display attendant on Richard’s arrival in Nottingham on 25th March: “the king left Marlborough with a large army and retinue and rode, as is well known, straight to Nottingham, which had been besieged by the northerners. They had not been conducting the siege for very long when they heard news of the king, at which they were very pleased. Joyfully they went to meet the king and when he met them he kissed them all one by one. His coming made them very happy.”(17)

The size of the army in knights and men, and the number of men in the Castle, are difficult to estimate. In medieval terms, Richard’s forces were quite substantial, for Howden and the Histoire both tell of a large force. Not only had Richard his own men with him, but in addition probably those forces of William Marshall who had joined the king at Huntingdon. Also those other dignitaries who are mentioned later by Howden as attending the Council which followed the termination of the siege cannot have come empty-handed: Queen Eleanor, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Bishops of Lincoln, Ely, Hereford Worcester, Exeter and Whithorn, and the Earls Warenne and Salisbury, and Roger Bigod.(18) The only figures available are payments on the Pipe Rolls for sixty-six knights at Derby, sixty-seven knights at Nottingham, and an unknown number of horses, three of which were subsequently slain.(19)

On his arrival Richard commandeered a lodging near the Castle “so that the archers of the castle shot the king’s men before his feet”.(20) This is partially echoed by the Histoire: “The king, who did not want to delay there any longer, ordered his lodgings to be prepared in the house closest to the castle, and for good reason. Why? So that the people in the castle would be more afraid.”(21)  This information reinforces the view that the besieged refused to believe that Richard had returned and so Richard placed himself where he could be readily seen to obtain, hopefully, the maximum psychological effect. Richard was angry and armed himself(22) with only a light coat of mail (gazigan) “because that was what he was used to and no more than an iron hat on his head”.(23) This is an interesting observation on the part of the Histoire and suggests an eye-witness account. Although the implied emphasis is on the personal bravery of Richard to be so lightly armoured, the phrase `because that was what he was used to’ denotes he was unused to wearing any heavier mail and preferred the lighter mail more suitable to a warmer climate such as the Holy Land; Richard had been imprisoned but it was not that long ago he had returned from the Holy Land. Immediately an assault was made on the Castle. According to Howden, there was a great conflict between the besiegers and the besieged and “many were killed [and] on either side wounded and dead. The king killed a knight with an arrow. Thus the king prevailed and having forced them back into the castle, he took certain preparations (praeparationes) which had been made before the gates and he burnt the outer gates”.(24) On the taking of the gates and the first bailey (outer enclosure) the Histoire is much more detailed. After arming himself, Richard “had his men take strong, thick and broad shields; many a man carried these in front of him until he came up to the gateway. When the king came there, all those who were with the king and who loved him the most and wanted to fulfil his purposes, raced to arm themselves. They advanced boldly until they took the first bailey. The king and the barons entered the bailey and brought shields with which they protected themselves extremely well so that the crossbowmen did not hurt them. In front of the king crossbowmen began to shoot and to do the best they could and held to their task until they took the barbican. And there were such feats of arms that there were many injured and wounded amongst those from the castle which greatly pleased those outside. They did extremely well in this attack but they withdrew at nightfall, and when the assailants had all withdrawn, those inside, under cover of darkness, set fire to the gate and burned and destroyed by fire the final barbican. This was all wasted effort. In the morning the king heard about it and began to rejoice at it and said, ‘This is much to our advantage unless I am mistaken.'”(25)

Both Howden and the Histoire relate that a great battle and some fierce close fighting took place, even if Howden lacks the details of the operation. The king himself was in the thick of the fighting. Neither account gives any information as to the disposition of the army nor where it was camped. Nor is it known where the lodging of the king’s house was. Neither archaeological nor documentary evidence indicate how close to the castle walls the French Borough was built up in the late 12th century. The king’s prime objective was to take the outer gate, probably the weakest point, but how it was approached and from what direction is unknown. Since there was only one gate, then and now, according to Drage, the bulk of the army would have been concentrated in front of it. It is therefore pure speculation to even suggest the disposition of the army, where it was camped, or where Richard’s lodging was. Nevertheless, the general outline of the first day is clear enough. The first gate encountered by the army, which was of wood, was easily taken and the army with Richard moved into the bailey (outer enclosure). Here stiff opposition was encountered and some close fighting took place. Howden implies that there was a sortie from the stone-built castle since he stated that Richard forced the besieged back into the castle. Against fierce opposition the king and his men moved inexorably across the bailey (outer enclosure) towards the next gate of the castle. Howden and the Histoire state that the barbican before the gate was only taken with much bloodshed. Only nightfall (Histoire) brought the day’s fighting to a close and Richard and his army retired burning the wooden first gate on the way (Howden). According to the Histoire, this gate was burnt by the besieged as they retired behind stone walls and set fire to the barbican before the second gate. Thus at the end of the first day Richard had gained entrance into the first bailey (outer enclosure) and was in possession of it with the besieged penned in the rest of the castle. Richard now had a real problem on his hands: he was confronted by the stone walls of the middle and upper baileys which stood on higher ground than the first bailey.

At some time during the first day of the siege, Hubert Walter, Archbishop of Canterbury, arrived at Nottingham with his archiepiscopal cross carried before him. As was often the case, this seemingly innocuous act, to modern eyes, caused friction and tempers to flare. The Archbishop of York, Geoffrey, the illegitimate son of Henry II and therefore half-brother of King Richard and John, was already at Nottingham and took exception to the Archbishop of Canterbury having his cross carried before him outside his own province, Nottingham being in the province of York, and on this matter complained to the king. Geoffrey, although in his own province, apparently had not had his cross borne before him, for reasons not related. On hearing of Geoffrey’s complaint, Hubert saw an opportunity to make mischief on the vexed question, often conducted in a highly vitriolic manner, of the primacy of Canterbury over York. The archbishops appear to have met with one another and Hubert loftily regaled Geoffrey with: “I carry, and ought to carry, my cross throughout England as primate of all England. But you may not carry your cross and perhaps you ought not to carry it; and these things being so, I appeal to the lord pope”.(26) The immediate outcome of this incident was not recorded. Geoffrey remained uncharacteristically silent. He may have been commanded to do so by the king who would not have welcomed the raising of such a controversial issue in the middle of a siege. Geoffrey was already under a cloud concerning numerous complaints against him, which were to be given an airing in the Council following the siege.(27) Until the complaints were heard and the king’s views and decision known Geoffrey may have thought that discretion was the better part of valour and stayed quiet.(28)

On the second day of the siege, 26th March, Richard pondered the problem before him: the stone walls of the middle and upper baileys of the castle. “The king of England caused to be made his petraries [siege-engines], having proposed not to make a further assault on the castle whilst his war-machines were being made ready”.(29)Payment is recorded on the Pipe Rolls to Master Roger the carpenter and his fellows for their machines and their other necessaries, and for at least one petrary and one mangonel.(30) Whilst the siege-engines were assembled and positioned, Richard entertained his troops and to intimidate the besieged in the castle: “he caused gallows to be erected near the castle on which he hanged certain serjeants of Count John taken outside the castle.”(31) Apart from the information that the gallows were erected near the castle, Howden provided no evidence as to where exactly they were or where the siege-engines were located. The ground on the south-east side of the castle would probably have been unsuitable for heavy siege-engines. They may have been placed in the quasi extra-mural northern bailey on the hill to the north overlooking the castle itself, or, possibly, in the recently captured outer enclosure. Here, however, they would have come under fire from the castle garrison’s weapons and would have had to be heavily protected as would the men building them. Howden does not state if the siege-engines were used but it is probable that they were. The Pipe Rolls disclose payments for work on the stable and small chamber, the gutter of the high chamber, the louvres and windows of the hall, a postern on the motte(32) and repairs to the chapels and houses on the motte,(33) damage which may have been caused by air-borne missiles. Also, it is noteworthy that the Pipe Rolls record no further expenditure of any significance for the castle for some years, apart from small sums for routine maintenance.

The following day, 27th March, Hugh de Puiset, Bishop of Durham, and those with him at the siege of Tickhill Castle, arrived at Nottingham bringing with them their prisoners. “The king went out to meet them. On seeing the king, the bishop dismounted, and the king likewise on seeing him, and he kissed him. Thereafter, mounting their horses, they went to the siege”.(34) The hanging of Count John’s serjeants, the probable bombardment of the castle by the siege-machines, and possibly the sight of the arrival of the Bishop of Durham with his reinforcements from Yorkshire and Northumberland, produced a reaction from the castle garrison. According to Howden, “on the same day [27th March] whilst the king was seated at his dinner, Ralph Murdac and William de Wenneval, constables of Nottingham castle, sent two of their fellows to see the king. Who, on seeing [the king] returned to the castle announcing to those who had sent them that which they had heard and seen concerning the king and his condition (statu ejus). Which, when William de Wenneval and Roger de Montbegon heard [this], left the castle with twelve others and placed themselves on the king’s mercy and no more returned to the castle”.(35)

The Histoire’s account of this episode differs somewhat. The incident of the king at dinner was placed on the first day of the siege after Richard had commandeered his lodging and before he put on his armour. The Histoire suggests that an informal and unofficial colloquy took place between the king’s men and the besieged. “Next day our people from outside went to talk with those inside and said that they must be mad to hold the castle against the king of England who was lord of the land. Then those inside replied immediately to our people that they were handing them a pack of lies, for they could not believe that the king was free, nor that he had arrived in these parts”.(36) Contrary to Howden who implied that the first move in negotiation came from the besieged, the Histoire has the first move on the part of the attackers and seemingly no important person was involved. The Histoire confirms Howden in that the besieged were totally ignorant of Richard’s arrival and could not believe in it anyway. Once the informal exchange of information had taken place, the news must have provoked some discussion amongst the garrison. “Afterwards they all asked if they could come to the army under a safe-conduct to see him [Richard]. Our men reported this to the king and the king approved and said that he agreed. Then they [the besieged] sent a knight, Sir Fouchier de Grendon, and Henry Russell with him. They both came to the king; they were both in the king’s presence. They looked at him closely and knew him from his bearing and from his face. ‘Am I him? What do you think?’, said the king. They said, ‘Yes.’ ‘You may go back freely’, he said. ‘That is right; do the best that you can’. They took leave and went away and reported what they had found. They considered their situation and surrendered themselves to the king’s mercy; they were wise [for] they greatly reduced their penal in this way. The king had captured the castle [and] this was very pleasing to all his men”.(37) This episode from the Histoire accords extremely well with Howden’s version. Two men were sent out by the besieged to inspect the king’s person to determine if it was Richard and the Histoire names the two men. Now the besieged had little choice but to surrender. After being apprised of the news, to continue their defiance of the king would be foolish given the king’s renowned military skill and consummate ability in reducing castles. They risked being attainted as traitors, losing their lives and having their families disinherited; no quarter would have been given once Richard had entered the castle by storm.

“To cut a long story short, the king was so well-disposed and so mild and so merciful that he put them to fair ransom without further dispute”,(38) and others might have interceded on their behalf. Otherwise Richard would have had every right to arbitrarily dispose of them as he saw fit and no one, not even the church, would have blamed him for acting according to the understood rules governing sieges and war in general in the late 12th century. However, what does seem odd on the garrison’s part is the sending out of two nonentities, Fulcher de Grendon and Henry Russell. Henry appears in no other evidence. Fulcher de Grendon was a local man but of little consequence, a younger son of Serlo I de Grendon, lord of Bradley and Sturston in Derbyshire.(39) His father, and brother William, had extensive connections locally but it is difficult to understand how Fulcher would have personally recognised King Richard. Nevertheless their report was accepted by the besieged and there is no reason to doubt the veracity of the Histoire as to their names. Indeed, as two named nonentities its accuracy is vindicated.

Although for the Histoire the surrender of the castle was complete and the siege over, it was not so in Howden’s account. William de Wenneval, Roger de Montbegon and twelve others had surrendered but there remained a hard-core element of resistance in the castle after their departure on 27th March. Howden provides no details, but further negotiation took place conducted this time by an important figure, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Only his mediation induced Ralph Murdac, his brothers Philip of Worcester and Ralph of Worcester, and others (unnamed) to surrender the castle and place themselves on the king’s mercy on 28th March 1194.(40) Thus the siege of Nottingham Castle was over. It had been short and to a certain extent bloody, especially on the first day. On King Richard’s part an example had been made. His prestige and fame as a soldier of skill and renown was intact and there could be no mistaking that the king was back and in full command of the kingdom he had left four years before. He had swiftly and decisively destroyed a very powerful threat to the security of his throne. The concentration of the extensive royal demesne and honors and lands in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire in the hands of one man, such as John, Count of Mortain, had made that man very influential, but without the castles of Nottingham and Tickhill he would be relatively harmless. John’s acquisition and retention of these strategically important castles, although resisted by the Council, a council largely ineffectual until Richard was released, had allowed him to become highly dangerous. This concentration of castles and lands in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire was recognised as a serious mistake and one which was not repeated for some time.

Following the siege Richard decided that some recreation was in order whilst the castle was tidied-up and before the Council, which he had summoned, began. So on 29th March “Richard, king of England, professed a desire to see Clipstone and Sherwood Forest which he had never seen before and it pleased him much. On the same day he returned to Nottingham”.(41)

The first day’s business of the Council consisted of putting up for sale several shrievalties to the highest bidder; the second day he heard accusations against Count John and his devoted supporter, Hugh de Nonant, Bishop of Coventry. On the third day, Richard levied a tax known as a carucage, and on the fourth day (2nd April) he heard complaints against Geoffrey, Archbishop of York, which were dismissed, and against others.(42) The king left Nottingham on the same day and went again to Clipstone to await the arrival of William the Lion, King of Scots. Whilst at Clipstone he commanded that all the men who had been taken in the castles of Nottingham, Tickhill, Marlborough and Lancaster, and in Mont St Michel, to be brought to him at Winchester on the day after the close of Easter. On Palm Sunday (3rd April) Richard was still at Clipstone, whilst the king of Scots stayed at Worksop “because of the solemnity of the day”.(43) Both kings went to Southwell, though the purpose was unmentioned, on 4th April, and the following day went to Melton.(44) Thus Richard, in the company of the King of Scots, left Nottinghamshire never to return. As promised, he dealt with the prisoners from Nottingham, Tickhill and the other castles at Winchester on 20th April: “the king of England separated the wealthier men from the others who were taken in the castles of Nottingham and Tickhill and the other castles of Count John and put [them] in prison for ransom; the others he allowed to go away to find pledges . . . and each one of them brought pledges of 100 marks if they should not return to the king’s court”.(45) Under the titles of “Fines made for the knights and men of Count John” and “Chattels and lands of the king’s enemies seised in the king’s hand by the sheriff”, the Pipe Rolls record the names of some of the men from Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire so fined at Winchester on 20th April.(46) These fines were slowly paid during the rest of Richard’s reign. There were a few remaining on the Pipe Roll when John became king in 1199. Thereafter they disappear; they were quietly dropped. Whatever faults King John had he rarely forgot service loyally given.

End Notes

1.    W.L.Warren, Henry II(1972), 594-630.

2.    K. Norgate, John Lackland (1902), 24-9.

3.    Norgate, op. cit., 24-55; J. T. Appleby, England without Richard 1189-1199 (1965), 1-169.

4.    Norgate, op. cit., 50; Appleby, op. cit., 126-7, the longest account; J. Gillingham, Richard the Lionheart (1978), 241-2; W. L. Warren, King John (1961), 46.

5.    P(ipe) R(oll) 6 Richard I, 87. Although the account is damaged, £ 145 17s. was realised from the sale of provisions after the siege, which included large quantities of corn, mixed corn, wheat, oats, beans, peas, bacons, butter and cheeses.

6.    C. Drage, “Nottingham Castle: A Place Full Royal”, Trans. Thoroton Soc. xciii (1989), 19, 25, 37-40.

7.    W. Stubbs, ed. Chronica magistri Rogeri de Houedene (Rolls Series, 1870) iii, 328-40 (cited as Howden); M.P. Meyer, ed., L’Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal (3 vols. Paris, 1891-1901), 10177-10234. (Cited as Histoire.)

8.    Howden, 239.

9.    Ibid., 232, 234.

10.    Ibid., 236-7.

11.    Ibid., 237-8.

12.    Ibid., 238.

13.    Histoire, 10177-10183.

14.    Appleby, op. cit., 124-5.

15.    Histoire, 10081, after attending to his brother’s funeral. Meyer (Histoire iii, 134 note 4) questioned the confusion of the text concerning the king’s movements. It was probably William Marshall who left Marlborough and not King Richard.

16.    Howden, 238.

17.    Histoire, 10177-10187. Presumably only the more important men were afforded the kiss of greeting.

18.    Howden, 240-1.

19.    P.R. 6 Richard I, 95. This part of the roll is damaged.

20.    Howden, 238.

21.    Histoire, 10189-10194.

22.    Howden, 238.

23.    Histoire, 10195-10199.

24.    Howden, 239.

25.    Histoire, 10200-10234. The last two lines are corrupt.

26.    Howden, 239.

27.    Ibid., 243; Appleby, op. cit., 133-4.

28.    Richard refused to arbitrate between Hugh and Geoffrey over the issue on 23rd April at Bishop’s Waltham, Hants. (Howden, 250).

29.    Ibid., 239.

30.    P.R. 6 Richard I, 87. The account is damaged.

31.    Howden, 239.

32.    P.R. 6 Richard I, 80.

33.    P.R. 7 Richard I, 15.

34.    Howden, 239.

35.    Ibid., 240.

36.    Histoire, 10235-10246.

37.    Ibid., 10247-10272.

38.    Ibid., 10284-10288.

39.    A. Saltman. “The Cartulary of Dale Abbey”, Derbyshire Arch. Soc. Record Series ii (1966), 2, 15. Serlo de Grendon had been under-sheriff to William Fitz Ranulph in 1177 (P.R.O. Lists and Indexes: Lists of sheriffs ix (1963), 102).

40.    Howden, 240.

41.    Ibid., 240.

42.     For details see Ibid., 241-2; Appleby, op. cit., 129-35.

43.    Howden, 243, Apud Wirkesope propter diem solemnem. In other words, William, King of Scots, heard mass probably at Worksop Priory, whereas Richard stayed firmly put in the royal hunting-lodge. There may have been a reason for this. On his death-bed Richard confessed to not having received Holy Communion for seven years (c. 1192) “because in his heart he bore a mortal hatred for the king of France” (J. Stevenson, ed. Radulphi de Coggeshall Chronicon Anglicanum (Rolls series, 1875), 96). He did receive communion at Winchester on 17th April 1194 (Appleby, op. cit., 129 n. 1.).

44.    Howden, 243, venerunt ad Maltonam. The editor of the chronicle did not query this and gave it in his marginal notes as `Malton’. As the kings passed through Rutland, Melton Mowbray must have been where they were on 5th April 1194.

45.    Howden, 249.

46.    P.R. 6 Richard I, 84-5. It is not possible to give accurate figures since a number of men must have compounded outright and only those who could only pay by instalments appear in the Pipe Rolls. Only nine men are named in the Pipe Rolls for the years 1194-5 but it is probable that a number of others are subsumed in other headings. Others emerge in later Pipe Rolls. I hope to discuss these men and their relationship to Count John, and the difficulties of the Pipe Roll evidence in another paper.


I am particularly grateful to Doctors Margaret and Roger Middleton who translated the relevant passages of the Histoire for me. Charles Young and David Roffe read through a draft of the paper and I thank them for their useful comments, as always.


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