JOHN's HOUSEHOLD KNIGHTS DURING
THE MINORITY OF HENRY III
Amongst those gathered around King John's death-bed to witness the terms of his last will and testament were the men who were to become the key players in the minority government. Guala, the papal legate, who was to play a central role in establishing Henry III securely on his throne; Peter des Roches, bishop of Winchester, who was to be the young king's tutor in his early years; William Marshal, the earl of Pembroke, who was to be Henry's regent; Ranulf, earl of Chester, considered by some as a possible alternative as regent to the earl Marshal; William Brewer, who was also destined to be a major player in the minority government; and Falkes de Bréauté, the royal steward. Absent from this list of John's foremost supporters gathered around his death-bed was, of course, Hubert de Burgh, at that time holed up in Dover castle which he dare not leave given its importance to the safety of the realm; but he, too, was to have a significant role to play in the new minority government.1 It was these men who in the first years of the reign were to bring the civil war to its conclusion and to begin the process of reestablishing royal rule in England. And it was these men who determined the composition of the body of milites defamilia regis during the minority years.
The first notice that we have of the new king's knightly establishment occurs in the close rolls for the end of November 1217. Here the regent gave orders for seven knights of the king's household to receive robes of green or brown, presumably for the celebrations that must have greeted the end of Henry's first year as king.2 The names of five of these seven____________________