First Barons' War



First Barons' War
Date1215 - 1217
LocationEngland
Casus
belli
Baronial discontent with
government of King John
ResultEventual return to status quo,
with some monarchic concessions
Territorial
changes
None
Combatants
Pro-Angevin forcesPro-Capetian forces, and
Kingdom of France
Commanders
Hubert de BurghPrince Louis
The First Barons' War (12151217) was a combination of a civil war in England between the forces of a number of rebellious barons and King John, and a foreign invasion invited by the barons aimed at toppling him.

Background

King John in June of 1215 was forced to sign Magna Carta by a group of powerful barons who had had enough of John's failed leadership and despotic rulership. "The law of the land" is one of the great watchwords of Magna Carta, standing in opposition to the king's mere will.

Magna Carta of 1215 contained clauses that no medieval king could accept, unless he wished to remain ruler in name only. This included clause 61, the "security clause", that allowed a group of 25 barons to override the king at any time by way of force, a medieval legal process called distraint that was normal in feudal relationships but had never been applied to a king. After a few months of half-hearted attempts to negotiate in the summer of 1215, open warfare broke out between the rebel barons and the king and his supporters.

Course of events

Louis invited and welcomed

The war began over Magna Carta but quickly turned into a dynastic war for the throne of England. The rebel barons, faced with a powerful king, turned to Prince Louis, son and heir apparent of King of France Philip Augustus. The Norman invasion had occurred only 150 years before, and the relationship between England and France was not so simply adversarial as it later became. The contemporary document called the annals of Waverley sees no oxymoron in stating that Louis was invited to invade in order to "prevent the realm being pillaged by aliens".

At first, in November 1215, Louis simply sent the barons a contingent of knights to protect London. However, even at that stage he also agreed to an open invasion, despite discouragement from his father the King of France and from the Pope. This came in May 1216 - on 21st, watchmen on the coast of Thanet detected sails on the horizon, and on the next day, the King of England and his armies saw Louis’s troops disembark on the coast of Kent. John decided to escape to the Saxon capital of Winchester, and so Louis had little resistance on his march to London. He entered London, also with little resistance, and was openly received by the rebel barons and citizens of London and proclaimed (though not crowned) king at the cathedral. Many nobles, along with Alexander II of Scotland (1214–49), gathered to give homage to him.

Many of John's supporters, sensing a tide of change, moved to support the barons. Gerald of Wales remarked: "The madness of slavery is over, the time of liberty has been granted, English necks are free from the yoke." On June 14 Louis captured Winchester (John had already left) and soon conquered over half of the English kingdom.

First siege of Dover

In the meantime, the King of France rightly taunted his son for trying to conquer England without first seizing its key: Dover. The royal castles at Canterbury and Rochester, their towns, and indeed most of Kent had already fallen to Louis but when he did move on to Dover Castle on July 25, it was prepared. Its constable, Hubert de Burgh, had successfully defended the castle at Chinon in 1205 and he had a well-supplied garrison of men.

The first siege began on 19 July, with Louis taking the high ground to the north of the castle. His men successfully undermined the barbican and attempted to topple the castle gate, but De Burgh's men managed to repulse the invaders, blocking the breach in the walls with giant timbers. (After the siege the weak northern gate was blocked and tunnels were built in that area, to St John's Tower, and the new Constable's Gate and Fitzwilliam's Gate were built.) After three months spent besieging the castle, and with a large part of his forces diverted by the siege, Louis called a truce on 14 October and soon after returned to London.

Sieges of Windsor and Rochester

Apart from Dover, the only castle to hold out against Louis was that at Windsor, where 60 loyalist knights survived a two-month siege, despite severe damage to the structure of its lower ward (immediately repaired in 1216 by Henry III, who further strengthened the defences with the construction of the western curtain wall, much of which survives today). This is possibly due to its having been already besieged by the barons in 1189, less than 30 years earlier.

In 1206, John had spent £115 on repairs to Rochester Castle, and he had even preemptively held it during the year of the negotiations leading up to Magna Carta, but the Charter's terms had forced him to hand it back into the custody of Stephen Langton, archbishop of Canterbury, in May 1215. The rebel barons had then sent troops under William de Albini to the castle, to whom its constable Reginald de Cornhill opened the castle's gates. Thus, during October 1216 on his marching from Dover to London, John found Rochester in his way and on 11th October began besieging it in person.

The rebels were expecting reinforcements from London but John sent fire ships out to burn their route in, the city's bridge over the Medway. Robert Fitzwalter rode out to stop the king, fighting his way onto the bridge but eventually being beaten back into the castle. He also sacked the cathedral, took anything of value and stabled his horses in it, all as a slight to Langton. Orders were then sent to the men of Canterbury saying " We order you, just as you love us, and as soon as you see this letter, to make by day and night, all the pickaxes that you can. Every blacksmith in your city should stop all other work in order to make them and you should send them to us at Rochester with all speed". Five siege engines were then erected and work carried out to undermine the curtain wall. By one of these means the king's forces entered and held the bailey in early November, and began attempting the same tactics against the keep, including undermining the south-east tower. The mine-roof was supported by wooden props, which were then set alight using pig-fat (on 25th November 1215 John had sent a writ to the justiciars saying "Send to us with all speed by day and night, forty of the fattest pigs of the sort least good for eating so that we may bring fire beneath the castle" [1]), causing the whole corner of the keep to collapse. The rebels withdrew behind the keep's cross-wall but still managed to hold out. A few were allowed to leave the castle but on John's orders had their hands and feet lopped off as an example.

Winter was now setting in, and the castle was only taken (on 30th November) by starvation and not by force. John set up a memorial to the pigs and a gallows with the intention of hanging the whole garrison, but one of his captains (Savari de Mauleon) persuaded him not to hang the rebels since hanging those who had surrendered would set a precedent if John ever surrendered - only one man was actually hanged (a young bowman who had previously been in John's service). The remainder of the rebel barons were taken away and imprisoned at various royal-held castles, such as Corfe Castle. Of the siege - against only 100 rebels, and costing over a thousand pounds a day - the Barnwell chronicler wrote "No one alive can remember a siege so fiercely pressed and so manfully resisted" and that, after it, "There were few who would put their trust in castles".

Enlarge picture
The round tower (right), in contrast to two square towers (centre and left)
John died the next year, so it fell to Henry III to repair the castle. He spent over a £1000 on rebuilding, with new stables and gateways, and a further ditch to strengthen the defences. A new chapel was built next to the Royal apartments in the bailey. The most notable surviving feature is the new south-east tower, which was rebuilt according to the latest defensive design and is three-quarters round better to deflect missile attack and work against attempts at undermining (see image left, right-most corner of the keep).

Death of John

Meanwhile, on October 18, 1216, John died in Lincolnshire and with him the main reason for the fighting. Louis now seemed much more of a threat to baronial interests than John's nine year old son, Henry. Pierre des Roches,bishop of Winchester, and a number of barons rushed to have the young Henry to be crowned as king of England. London was held by Louis (indeed, it was his seat of government) and therefore could not be used for this coronation so, on October 28, 1216, they brought the boy from the castle at Devizes to Gloucester Abbey in front of a small attendance presided over by a Papal Legate, Guala Bicchieri (d. 1227, bishop of Vercelli, papal legate in England 1216–1218). There, using as a crown a band of gold made from a necklace, they “crowned” Henry.

On November 12, 1216 Magna Carta was reissued in Henry's name with some of the clauses, including clause 61, omitted. The revised charter was signed by the young kings' regent William Marshal. A great deal of the country was loyal to Prince Louis but the southwest of England and the Midlands favoured Henry. Marshall was highly respected and he asked the barons not to blame the child Henry for his father's sins. The prevailing sentiment, helped by self interest, disliked the idea of depriving a boy of his inheritance. William also promised that he and the other regents would rule by Magna Carta. Furthermore, he managed to get support from the Pope, whom had already excommunicated Louis in any case.

Louis's losses

See also History of the Royal Navy.


William slowly managed to get most barons to switch sides from Louis to Henry and attack Louis. The two opposing sides fought for about a year. On December 6, 1216 Louis took Hertford Castle but allowed the defending knights to leave with their horses and weapons. He then took Berkhamstead in late December. And again Louis allowed the royal garrison to withdraw honourably with their horses and weapons.

Since the truce had been arranged with Dover, the Dover garrison had repeatedly disrupted Louis's communication with France, and so Louis returned to Dover to begin a second siege on 12 May 1217.

However, this new siege diverted so much of Louis's forces that William Marshal and Falkes de Breaute were able to attack and heavily defeat pro-Louis barons at Lincoln Castle on May 15 or May 20 1217, in what became known as the Second Battle of Lincoln

William Marshall prepared for a siege against London next. But in the meantime, Louis suffered two more heavy defeats, this time at sea, at the Battle of Dover and Battle of Sandwich in the Straits of Dover, this time at the hands of Guillaume’s ally and Dover's constable, Hubert de Burgh. Louis’ reinforcement convoy, under Eustace the Monk, was destroyed, making it nearly impossible for Louis to continue fighting.

Peace

After a year and a half of war, most of the rebellious barons had defected and so Louis VIII had to give up his claim to be the King of England by signing the Treaty of Lambeth on September 11, 1217. Louis accepted a symbolic sum to relinquish his English dominions and returned home. Though it was not in the treaty, it was often reported that Louis would try to convince the King of France, his father, to give to Henry what he had conquered from his father John.

Louis a king of England?

Since other English Kings such as Edward V and Edward VIII were not crowned but only proclaimed, and - more to the point - Louis occupied so much of England and was recognised as king by the barons[1] as well as by the king of Scotland[2], there is a good case for including Louis VIII in the list of Kings of England. This case was backed by the 'Monarch' episode of Terry Jones' Medieval Lives.

Museums

  • "The 1216 Experience" at Dover Castle (in the keep rather than at the site of the siege at the north gate) recounts the two sieges and battle of Sandwich, and there is also material on them at the town museum.
  • Rochester City Museum contains a model of the castle keep under siege.

Notes

1. ^ David Carpenter: "The Struggle for Mastery, The Penguin History of Britain 1066-1284" page 300: Louis, eldest son of the king of France, to whom the rebels had offered the throne, held London and the allegiance of nineteen of the twenty-seven greatest barons.
2. ^ David Carpenter in "The Struggle for Mastery, page 299" ... Carlisle was surrendered to Alexander who then came south to do homage to Louis for the Northern Counties.

See also

Sources

1 Contemporary source quoted in Salter (2000)
  • Salter, Mike (2000). The Castles of Kent. Folly Publications, Malvern. ISBN 1-871731-43-7

Siege of Dover

Barons' War may refer to:
  • First Barons' War (1215–1217)
  • Second Barons' War (1264–1267)

..... Click the link for more information.
Second Barons' War (1264–1267) was a civil war in England between the forces of a number of rebellious barons led by Simon de Montfort, against the Royalist forces led by Prince Edward (later Edward I of England).
..... Click the link for more information.
Dover Castle is situated at Dover, Kent and has been described as the "Key to England" due to its defensive significance throughout history.

History

Roman


..... Click the link for more information.
Windsor Castle, in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, is the largest inhabited castle in the world and, dating back to the time of William the Conqueror, is the oldest in continuous occupation.
..... Click the link for more information.
Hertford Castle was a Norman castle situated by the River Lea in Hertford, the county town of Hertfordshire, England (grid reference TL325125 ).

It was built on a site first fortified by Edward the Elder around 911.
..... Click the link for more information.
The Second Battle of Lincoln occurred at Lincoln Castle on 20 May 1217, during the First Barons' War, between the forces of the future Louis VIII of France and those of King Henry III of England.
..... Click the link for more information.
Rochester Castle () stands on the east bank of the River Medway, in Rochester, Kent. It is one of the best-preserved castles of its kind in the UK.
..... Click the link for more information.
The battle of Dover was a naval battle fought in early 1217 between an English fleet of 30-40 ships under Hubert de Burgh and a French fleet of 80 (mostly small craft) under Eustace the Monk.
..... Click the link for more information.
Name of 2 English medieval naval battles:
  • Battle of Sandwich (1217), immediate follow-on to the Battle of Dover
  • Battle of Sandwich (1460), skirmish during the Wars of the Roses

..... Click the link for more information.
Casus belli is a modern Latin language expression meaning the justification for acts of war. Casus means "incident", "rupture" or indeed "case", while belli means "of war".
..... Click the link for more information.
John (24 December 1166 – 18/19 October 1216) reigned as King of England from 6 April, 1199, until his death. He succeeded to the throne as the younger brother of King Richard I (known in later times as "Richard the Lionheart").
..... Click the link for more information.
Motto
Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité
"Liberty, Equality, Fraternity"
Anthem
"La Marseillaise"


..... Click the link for more information.
Hubert de Burgh (c. 1165 – 12 May, 1243) was Earl of Kent, Justiciar of England and Ireland, and one of the most influential men in England during the reigns of John and Henry III.
..... Click the link for more information.
Louis VIII the Lion
King of the Franks and Count of Artois (more...)

Reign 14 July 1223 – 8 November 1226
Coronation 6 August 1223, Reims
Titles Count of Artois (1189–1226)
King of England (1216–17)
Born
..... Click the link for more information.
1215 in other calendars
Gregorian calendar 1215
MCCXV
Ab urbe condita 1968
Armenian calendar 664
ԹՎ ՈԿԴ
Bah' calendar -629 – -628
Buddhist calendar 1759
..... Click the link for more information.
1217 in other calendars
Gregorian calendar 1217
MCCXVII
Ab urbe condita 1970
Armenian calendar 666
ԹՎ ՈԿԶ
Bah' calendar -627 – -626
Buddhist calendar 1761
..... Click the link for more information.
civil war is a war in which parties within the same culture, society or nationality fight against each other for the control of political power.

Some civil wars are categorized as revolutions when major societal restructuring is a possible outcome of the conflict.
..... Click the link for more information.
Motto
Dieu et mon droit   (French)
"God and my right"
Anthem
No official anthem specific to England — the anthem of the United Kingdom is "God Save the Queen".
..... Click the link for more information.
Baron is a specific title of nobility. The word baron comes from Spanish barón, itself from Frankish baro meaning "freeman, warrior"; it merged with cognate Old English beorn meaning "nobleman.
..... Click the link for more information.
John (24 December 1166 – 18/19 October 1216) reigned as King of England from 6 April, 1199, until his death. He succeeded to the throne as the younger brother of King Richard I (known in later times as "Richard the Lionheart").
..... Click the link for more information.
1215 in other calendars
Gregorian calendar 1215
MCCXV
Ab urbe condita 1968
Armenian calendar 664
ԹՎ ՈԿԴ
Bah' calendar -629 – -628
Buddhist calendar 1759
..... Click the link for more information.
Magna Carta (Latin for "Great Charter", literally "Great Paper"), also called Magna Carta Libertatum ("Great Charter of Freedoms"), is an English charter originally issued in 1215.
..... Click the link for more information.
In English law, distraint or distress is a remedy for non-payment of rent. Distraint is the act or process "whereby a person (the distrainor), without prior court approval, seizes the personal property of another located upon the distrainor's land in satisfaction of
..... Click the link for more information.
Louis VIII the Lion
King of the Franks and Count of Artois (more...)

Reign 14 July 1223 – 8 November 1226
Coronation 6 August 1223, Reims
Titles Count of Artois (1189–1226)
King of England (1216–17)
Born
..... Click the link for more information.
Philip II Augustus
King of the Franks (more...)

The seal of Philip Augustus, shown holding a fleur de lis in his right hand.
Reign As co-King: 1 November 1179–18 September 1180;
As senior King: 18 September 1180 – 14 July 1223

..... Click the link for more information.
Waverley Abbey was the first Cistercian abbey in England, founded in 1128 by William Giffard, Bishop of Winchester. It is situated about one mile south of Farnham, Surrey, in a bend of the River Wey.
..... Click the link for more information.
May 21 is the 1st day of the year (2nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 0 days remaining.

Events

  • 878 - Syracuse is captured by the Muslim sultan of Sicily.

..... Click the link for more information.


Thanet is a local government district of Kent, England which was formed under the Local Government Act 1972, and came into being on 1 April 1974.
..... Click the link for more information.
May 22 is the 1st day of the year (2nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 0 days remaining.

Events


..... Click the link for more information.
Kent

Geography
Status Ceremonial & (smaller) Non-metropolitan county
Region South East England
Area
- Total
- Admin. council
- Admin.
..... Click the link for more information.


This article is copied from an article on Wikipedia.org - the free encyclopedia created and edited by online user community. The text was not checked or edited by anyone on our staff. Although the vast majority of the wikipedia encyclopedia articles provide accurate and timely information please do not assume the accuracy of any particular article. This article is distributed under the terms of GNU Free Documentation License.