The Household Knights of King John

By S. D. Church | Go to book overview

5
LOYALTY, CIVIL WAR, AND THE
HOUSEHOLD KNIGHTS

The reign of King John culminated in near political extinction for the Angevin dynasty when the English barons threatened to depose John in favour of Louis, son and heir of Philip II of France. The reasons for this catastrophic turn of events do not concern us here; rather this chapter seeks to examine the position of John's household knights during this critical phase of Angevin history. Throughout this work I have argued that the royal household knights were an essential arm of Angevin governance, both militarily and politically. How these men reacted to the political circumstances of the day is therefore of utmost importance if we are fully to understand this period in John's reign.

One of the most telling changes to affect the household knights during the civil war was the number of grants of escheated land which they received. As has been alluded to in another chapter, the number of such grants to household knights increased dramatically during this period.1 In total, thirty-four knights received eighty-four grants of royal escheats during the period October 1214 to October 1216, contrasting markedly with the nineteen knights who received twenty-seven grants of this kind in the period before October 1214. The scale of these grants can be seen from these examples. Between 20 October and 23 December 1215, Walter de Baillolet was given the lands of Eudo Patrick in Kent, half the vill of Maldon, Essex, and the manor of Barford, Wiltshire.2 As the bailiff of the count of St Pol, Walter was also given the lands of the count's rebellious tenants.3 In addition, Walter received the lands of Peter of Wells in Wells and Peter de Mara in Eastleigh, Herefordshire, in the fee of Walter de Neville.4 Henry de Lorty was given the lands of Ralph of Hastingleigh in Kent and of

____________________
1
See ch. 4
2
Rot. Litt. Claus., i, pp. 232 (2), 233 b; Book of Fees, p. 121.
3
Rot. Litt. Claus., i, p. 232 b; Pipe Roll 17 John, p. 100.
4
Rot. Litt. Claus., i, p. 243.

-100-

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