Story Of London

A London Chronology: The Thirteenth Century- King John

A London Chronology: The Thirteenth Century- King John
Posted on Jun 17, 2002 – 03:32 AM by Bill McCann

This series of articles presents a basic chronology of London but will also contain references to national events where these are important in the development of the London area. Wherever possible, the precise dates and days of the week on which the events here recorded took place are noted. The series is an organic one and will change frequently as new events or dates are extracted from our sources.

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The Thirteenth Century: King John

King John agreeing Magna Carta at Runnymede

1201A sum of £15 10s was paid for repairs to the Fleet Prison.
1201A chapel built this year in the grounds of Holy Trinity Priory would become the parish church of St Catharine Cree in 1280.
1201FebruaryJohn and his new queen Isabella of Angouleme visited York and at Easter revived the ancient custom of crown-wearing at Canterbury.
1201February“Hugh of Lusignan, John’s vassal and fiance of Isabella of Angouleme formally protested to John about his “theft” of Isabella. John ignored him and the Lusignans at once rebelled.”
1201March“In response to the rebellion in Lusignan, John confiscated La Marche, sent in his officers with an armed force to take over its adminsitration and bestowed it on his father-in-law, Count Aymer.”
1201April“John ordered the seneschal of Normandy to seize Driencourt, a castle owned by Ralph Count of Eu and brother of Hugh de Lusignan.”
1201April“The Lusignanians revoked their oaths of allegiance to John and appealed to their ultimate overlord, Philip II of France, for justice. Philip, who was in conflict with the pope, was reluctant and appealed to the Lusignanians to stop harrying their suzerain. They ignored him and were now in open revolt.”
1201April“John ordered his officials to pester and plunder the Lusignanians and “do them all the harm they could”. “
1201MayEvery castle owned by the Lusignanians was either seized or under siege
1201Thursday May 31John and Eleanor crossed to Normandy and lodged in the Chateau Gaillard.
1201JulyPhilip entertained John and Isabella in Paris. He suggested that John should allow the grievances of the Lusignanians to be aired in a court presided over by Philip and the Peers of France. John consented to this.

Isabella of Angouleme.

1201July“Philip’s mistress Agnes of Meran, died. With this source of conflict with the papacy removed, Philip had more freedom of action and began to devise a means of depriving John of his French possessions.”
1201September“Death of Constance of Brittany, mother of Arthur who now came increasingly under the influence of Philip and more hostile to John.”
1201SeptemberThe barons of southern France began defect from John and join forces with the Lusignanians.
1201October“John now fearful that a French court of peers would find for Hugh de Lusignan, suddenly accused the Lusignanians of treason and challenged them to Trial by Combat. They refused and appealed again to Philip and the Lords of France for justice. Philip agreed and John and Hugh were summoned to appear before the French Peers. The court, however, was repeatedly postponed by Philip.”
1201DecemberArthur of Brittany allied with Philip and the Lusignanians against John.
1202Two payments of £5 were made in respect of repairs to the Fleet Prison.
1202March“Pope Innocent III legitimated the children of Philip II by Agnes Meran. Free from the threat of papal censure, Philip now felt able to act more boldly.”
1202April“Philip summoned John to appear before the French Court. John claimed that as King of England and Duke of Normandy he was not answerable to a French court. Philip replied that he was summoned in his capacity as Duke of Aquitaine, Count of Poitou and Count of Anjou. John ignored him.”
1202Sunday April 28Philip issued a final summons to John to submit himself to the judgement of the French peers and ordered the barons of France to assemble on the following Tuesday.
1202Tuesday April 30Philip and the court of barons declared that John was a contumacious traitor who had forfeited all his French possessions except Normandy.
1202MayPhilip declared that John had broken the truce between Normandy and France and launched an armed onslaught on the defences of Normandy.
1202July“Philip knighted the fifteen year old Arthur of Brittany and invested him with John’s Angevin territories. With 500 knights supplied by Philip, Arthur marched on Poitou. En route he learned that Eleanor of Aquitaine was lodged in the castle at Mirebeau. He at once laid siege in an attempt to seize his grandmother as a valuable hostage. She stoutly defended the castle and rounded on her grandson for his lack of “courtly honour” in besieging a castle in which she was lodged.”
1202Tuesday July 30“John, on his way to Chinon and hearing of his mother’s plight, immediately made for Mirebau.”
1202Wednesday July 31“John was joined by William des Roches who offered to lead the attack, on condition that Arthur and the other rebels would not be executed. John agreed.”
1202Thursday August 1“In a dawn raid, William surprised Arthur and Hugh at breakfast. Both they and Hugh’s brother were taken prisoner and the entire force either killed or captured. Hugh was imprisoned in chains at Caen. “
1202Saturday August 10“Arthur was imprisoned at Falaise in the custody of John’s chamberlain, Hubert de Burgh. “
1202August“More than 250 knights taken prisoner at Mirebeau were ignominiously chained together and trundled through the Loire valley in ox carts. They were all incarcerated in chains in Normandy or England. At Corfe Castle, twenty- two of them were kept in chains and allowed to starve to death.”
1202AutumnJohn’s treatment of his prisoners appalled the civilised world. William of Roches and Aimery of Thouars deserted him and transferred their allegiance to Philip. They seized the city of Angers and the surrounding countryside demanding the release of Arthur.
1202NovemberJohn’s failure to release Arthur led to more baronial desertions to Philip’s side.
1202DecemberJohn spent Christmas at Caen “feasting with his queen and lying in bed until dinner time” to the great scandal of the court. Rumours that Arthur was dead began to circulate.”
1203Two payments of £10 and £6 were made on respect of repairs to the Fleet Prison.
1203January“John had Arthur brought to him at Falaise and promised him many honours if he would renew his allegiance to his uncle and abandon Philip. Arthur, in return, demanded that John give up England and all his possessions to himself, Richard’s true heir. John had the boy taken away.
1203February“John was advised by his magnates that there would be no peace while Arthur provided a focus for rebellion. They brutally advised him to have Arthur castrated and blinded so that he would be unfit to rule and “beget any traitorous progeny”. Three men were despatched to carry out the act but hesitated at the sight of the tearful boy. Hubert de Burgh took advantage of their hesitation and angrily ordered them out of the castle. He then put it about that the deed had been done and that Arthur had died from the effects.”
1203FebruaryAll of Brittany rose in rage at the word that Arthur had died such a despicable death and Hubert was forced to admit that the boy was still alive.
1203Saturday March 8Arthur was taken to Rouen and imprisoned in a new tower under close Guard in the custody of the seneschal Robert de Vieuxpoint.
1203MarchAt the end of the month John granted two castles and their bailiwicks in Westmorland to Robert de Vieuxpoint.
1203Wednesday April 2“Arthur’s legal guardian, William de Braose, formally declared to the king and his barons that he was relinquishing his guardianship and could take no further responsibility for what happened to him. On that day he accompanied John and three justiciars on a boat trip down the seine from Rouen to John’s manor of Molineux.”
1203Thursday April 3Arthur was murdered. The details are unknown but many chroniclers declare that John himself did the deed and had the boy’s body sunk in the Seine. This was widely believed at the time and John’s remaining French vassals deserted him as a result.

The murder of the young Duke of Brittany

1203AprilPhilip seized his opportunity and easily overran the Loire valley.
1203For the remainder of the year the Bretons were in revolt and John gradually lost control of all but a few isolated citadels.
1203September“John made a sudden raid into Brittany but achieved nothing. He appealed to pope Innocent III but Philip pointed out that feudal disputes were no business of the Holy See. He began the long siege of Chateau Gaillard which was defended by Roger de Lacy, the constable of Chester.”
1203DecemberEastern Normandy was now out of John’s control and he made a sudden and unaccountable decision to return to England. This was widely seen as a retreat.
1204A payment of £5 3s 6d was made in respect of repairs to the Fleet prison.
1204The loss of Normandy meant that social disruption engulfed England and France. Barons with lands in both England and Normandy were given a choice: Become wholly English or wholly French.
1204Wednesday March 8Philip finally captured the key Normandy fortress Chateau Gaillard
1204Thursday April 1Death of Eleanor of Aquitaine queen of England and France.
1204Jun-24Rouen fell to Philip and John was left with only Gascony and the Channel Islands.
1205JanuaryA Great Council at Westminster put the country on alert with constables appointed in every hundred and borough to supervise local defence. Everyone above the age of 12 were required to swear an oath to defend the country from invasion.
1205Sunday April 3“A writ was issued which established the quota system for military musters. Nine knights were to equip and pay, at the rate of two shillings a day, a tenth knight to maintain the watch. If, however the foreigners landed all were expected to rush to arms and defend the country.”
1205Wednesday July 13“Hubert Walter, archbishop of Canterbury died.”
1205Friday July 15“John persuaded the Chapter at Canterbury to postpone the election of a new archbishop for six months. He hoped in the meantime to persuade the pope, Innocent III, to appoint his friend and adviser, John Gray, bishop of Norwich. “
1205November“The monks at Canterbury secretly elected their sub-prior, Reginald, to the archbishopric and despatched him to Rome under oath not to reveal his election unless it was absolutely necessary. However he told the pope as soon as he arrived.”
1205Sunday December 11“Having heard of the election John angrily confronted the monks at Canterbury. Intimidated, they denied having made an election and agreed to the election of the bishop of Norwich. Who was at once invested.”
1206MarchInnocent III quashed the election of Gray as uncanonical and summoned a delegation of monks an proctors of the king with plenipotentiary powers to Rome.
1206December“The pope quashed Reginald’s election and the monks (probably on the advice of the pope) then unanimously chose Cardinal Stephen Langton, as their new archbishop.”
1207Tuesday July 24“At Viterbo, the pope consecrated Stephen Langton as archbishop. As John had refused to confirm the appointment, he remained on the Continent.”
1207AugustThe pope instructed his commissioners in England to threaten the king with an interdict if he did not confirm Langton’s appointment.
1207Monday October 1Birth of Henry III.
1208Wednesday March 12John met with Langton’s brother, Simon, at Winchester. He reserved his royal rights but Langton told him that there would be no conditions and that the king must place himself wholly a the mercy of his brother the archbishop. John refused and immediately ordered the confiscation of all clergy who refused to “celebrate the divine office”.

King John refuses the conditions set by Langton.

1208Sunday March 23“The interdict was put into effect. All sacraments ceased to be administered and the dead were buried in ditches and forests without a priest. There were no marriages and baptisms were carried out secretly. The commissioners, the bishops of London, Ely and Worcester fled the country. The interdict lasted for six years.”
1209The first stone London Bridge was completed in this year.
1209Tuesday March 24John announced that he earl of Salisbury was leading a mission Otto IV of Germany (John’s nephew) with a view to establishing a great coalition of England and Germany against France.
1209Sunday October 4Otto IV was crowned as Holy Roman Emperor at Rome.
1209OctoberStephen Langton landed at Dover but left again after a week when negotiations with John failed.
1209NovemberWhen it became known that Otto intended to add the kingdom of South Italy and Sicily to the empire he was excommunicated. Philip of France began to take political advantage of the situation and to encourage Frederick of Hohenstaufen.
1209November“Langton, in France, excommunicated John.”
1210“The Beedictine priory of St Helen’s Bishopsgate was founded in this year by William FitzWilliam, son of a goldsmith.”
1210Friday June 4King John left London on an expedition to Ireland to enforce his authority there.
1211The ditch outside the City walls was re-cut to a width of between 80 and 90 feet. The end of it at Blackfriars was open to the Thames.
1212The church of St Botolph outside Bishopsgate is first mentioned in the records for this year.
1212Sunday May 3“Henry, the count of Boulogne and brother of Otto IV, did homage and fealty to John in London.”
1212Monday May 4A treaty signed at Lambeth bound Henry and John not to make separate peace with the king of France.
1212Sunday May 13John met his chief emissary at Dover and accepted the pope’s terms and agreed to receive Stephen Langton as archbishop.
1212Tuesday May 15“At the house of the Templars at Ewell, near Dover, John resigned the kingdoms of England and Ireland to Innocent III. He received them back under the bond of fealty and homage in return for an annual tribute to the Holy See of 1,000 marks. 700 marks were due from England and 300 from Ireland.”
1212Friday June 15John addressed writs to the reeves of thirty-nine towns ordering them to provide bodies of troops for foreign service. This was followed by a Great Inquest to check what service was due from the royal tenants-in-chief.
1212Jun-25The results of the great inquest were presented to the barons of the Exchequer. John began to assemble an army for decisive intervention on the Continent but some of the Barons were not enthusiastic.
1212Friday July 11“A disastrous fire destroyed much of Southwark including Borough High Street and the church of St Mary Ovarie. It is estimated that 3,000 people lost their lives, many of them spectators gathered on London Bridge the houses on which were also destroyed. “
1212AugustWales broke into revolt. It became known that Llywelyn was negotiating with Philip of France and John had to divert his army to Wales.
1212SeptemberAmidst rumours of treason Robert FitzWalter and Eustace de Vesci flee to France and Scotland respectively.
1212September“John outlawed both barons and seized their lands. In London, Baynard’s Castle, which belonged Robert FitzWalter, was razed to the ground. These actions fuelled a growing discontent with John’s rule.”
1212Wednesday October 3“At a service in St Paul’s in the presence of Nicholas, cardinal bishop of Tusculum, John’s resignation of the kingdoms to the pope was solemnly ratified and sealed with a golden Bull.”

King John does homage before Cardinal Nicholas of Tusculum.

1212November“Under pressure from his barons, John sent emissaries to Rome to discuss the lifting of the interdict with the pope. They accepted on his behalf the terms which he had previously declined.”
1213The hospital of St Thomas which had been destroyed in the Southwark fire was refounded on land belonging to the bishop of Winchester.
1213FebruaryInnocent III wrote to John telling him that if he did not ratify the terms before June 1 he would be deposed.
1213Thursday March 21All ships cable of carrying six or more horses assembled at Portsmouth.
1213AprilPhilip of France at a council in Soissons resolved to invade England and have his son Louis crowned as king of England.
1213Saturday May 25“At Ewell, a treaty between England and Flanders was arranged.”
1213Tuesday May 28“A great fleet of 500 ships and carrying English and Flemish knights set off from Portsmouth. They found the French fleet of 1,700 ships anchored at Bruges whilst the army conducted the siege of Ghent. The mariners were killed and many ships captured or destroyed.”
1213Sunday June 2Philip ordered all his remaining ships at Bruges to be burnt.
1213Saturday July 20“At a ceremony in Winchester, the freshly arrived and installed archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton absolved John from the ban of the church after he had renewed his coronation oath and promised to maintain the ancient laws of the kingdom. Shortly afterwards, at St Alban’s, a council ordered in the king’s name that the laws of Henry I should be universally observed.”
1213AugustThe barons in the north refused to go on military service overseas claiming that since the loss of Normandy they were only bound to provide service in English campaigns.
1213Sunday August 25At St Paul’s the archbishop of Canterbury read aloud the Charter of Henry I and the barons present vowed that they would fight for the liberties contained in it.
1213September“John, on his way north to punish the recalcitrant barons was overtaken by the archbishop who urged him to remember his oath and the stop proceeding against the barons. John angrily dismissed him and continued northwards. Langton then threatened to excommunicate anyone who helped the king against the barons.”
1213Monday October 14“The Justiciar, Geoffrey FitzPeter, who had held the post for fifteen years, died. John postponed a new appointment.”
1213Friday November 1John reached a temporary reconciliation with the northern barons at Wallingford.
1213Thursday November 7Armed knights and unarmed barons were summoned to meet the king at Oxford in eight days time.
1213Friday November 15John was at Oxford but it is unclear whether the barons arrived for the meeting. There are no records of it having taken place.
1214Tuesday January 7John took up residence at the Temple until the 15th and there received a deputation of Barons. Nothing was resolved.
1214Saturday February 1“On the eve of his departure for France with his family and an army of knights and mercenaries, John appointed his confidante, Peter des Roches, bishop of Winchester, as the new Justiciar. The appointment was unpopular with the barons and in John’s absence he governed the kingdom with ruthless efficiency. Baronial resentment grew.”
1214Saturday February 15“After delays in the solent, John and his army landed at La Rochelle.”
1214Saturday March 8John’s campaign had begun well. He wrote to the earl marshals in England that already 26 castles had sworn allegiance. He marched southwards meeting little resistance.
1214Thursday April 3“At Limoges, the Vicomte Guy did homage to John because, as he afterwards explained to Philip of France, “I could not resist him or await your help.” John secured his position in Aquitaine. “
1214MayFrom Poitou sent a demand back to England for scutage [tax] at three marks on the fees of those barons and knights who had neither accompanied him or sent their services. He then marched north to the Loire and made peace with the Lusignanians.
1214Tuesday June 17John entered Angers and moved west to besiege La Roche-aux-Moines.
1214Monday July 2“At the siege of La Roche-aux-Moins the barons of Poitou refused to fight a pitched battle and deserted John who precipitately fled to La Rochelle. He sent to England for reinforcements. The earl of Salisbury and Otto IV, in the Netherlands, were finally preparing to move against Philip.”
1214Sunday July 27At the battle of Bouvines the Philip defeated the allied forces comprehensively and returned to Paris in triumph as the undisputed monarch of all France.
1214Sunday September 8“Realising that this was the end of his attempt to recover the lost Continental possessions, John finally agreed a truce with Philip whose terms were arranged to last until Easter 1220.”
1214Wednesday October 15John arrived back in England and was greeted with hostility by the barons demanding the liberties of Henry I’s charter. Very few of them had paid the scutage on their fees which John had demanded in May.
1215Tuesday January 6“(Epiphany)John met the rebel Barons in London. They demanded that he should confirm the laws of Edward the Confessor and the laws and Charter of Henry I – their “ancient and accustomed liberties”. John persuaded them to allow him to defer a decision until Easter. The archbishop, eight bishops and seven leading magnates were to act as surety for the security and safe conduct of the rebel barons in the meantime. Both sides sent emissaries to the pope as “lord of England”.
1215Wednesday March 4“(Ash Wednesday)John, in response to pressure from the pope since the truce with France, took the cross and swore to go on Crusade.”
1215Sunday March 19“The pope urged John to treat graciously with the barons and accede to their “just demands” but forbade the barons, under pain of excommunication, to make conspiracies or rebellions against the king. The archbishop and bishops were instructed to prevent any rebellion. However, the barons were already assembling under arms at Stamford.”
1215AprilThe barons moved from Stamford to Nottingham and thence to Brackley where they formally renounced their homage to the king. They returned to Nottingham and besieged it but failed to take it. They moved to Bedford at the end of the month.
1215Tuesday May 9“John stopped delaying and granted a new charter to the Citizens of London. It confirmed all their accustomed liberties and re-affirmed their right to elect a mayor every year. To the barons he suggested a committee of arbitration with the pope as “the superior”. The barons refused the offer.”

King John’s Charter to London.

1215Friday May 12“John, in exasperation, ordered the seizure of the lands and chattels of the rebel barons.”
1215Sunday May 17“The English barons, in revolt against John, marched on London. “
1215Sunday may 17A faction of the citizens of London secretly allowed the army of the barons to enter the City through Aldgate.
1215Sunday May 24Many houses of royalists and Jews were attacked. The Jewish burial ground in the Barbican was desecrated. John moved into the Tower and used foreign troops to strengthen the defences and this caused increased resentment.
1215Wednesday May 27John was besieged in the Tower and forced to make concessions to the barons.
1215Friday May 29John wrote to the pope setting out his attempts at reconciliation and accusing the barons of impeding his preparations for going on Crusade.
1215MayBoth Aldgate and Ludgate were rebuilt this year and the work may have begun at this time.
1215Monday June 15“At Runnymede, John agreed to affix his seal to Magna Carta. This confirmed the ancient liberties and rights of all subjects on land and water, abolished fish weirs on all rivers including the Thames and guaranteed freedom of movement to the merchants. He also agreed that Robert FitzWalter and his associates should hold the City until August 15 provided that he himself continued to receive his customary dues and civic liberties were not contravened. The Tower was put into the hands of Stephen Langton.”
1215Friday June 19“John affixed his seal to Magna Carta and letters were immediately snet to all sheriffs and royal officers to notify them that peace had been made between the king and his barons and ordering that the charter be read publicly and that all should swear allegiance to the council of twenty-five barons. Twelve knights were to be chosen in each county to inquire into “evil customs”.
1215June“The barons immediately began to break faith with the agreement by refusing to give the assurances for keeping the peace which they had promised. The bishops made a formal protest about this but the northern barons prepared for war and they talked of “electing a new king”.
1215Tuesday July 7The pope excommunicated all disturbers of the king and kingdom with their accomplices and supporters but Stephen Langton was reluctant to promulgate this for fear of aggravating the situation.
1215Friday August 16“John refused to attend a conference arranged by the bishops at Oxford, complaining that it neither safe nor prudent for him to go among the barons. He began to look for help from abroad, especially from the pope.”
1215Wednesday September 30“The custodian of Rochester castle, Reginald of Cornhill, defected to the barons.”
1215September“The bishop of Winchester and the papal nuncio, Pandulf, suspended Stephen Langton and promulgated the pope’s excommunication. Papal letters. Written on August 24, were then published and which attacked the baron’s cause and annulled the Charter in its entirety. Both sides take up arms again and the barons concluded that they would only obtain their objectives if John was replaced as king. They invited Prince Louis of France to fight for the English throne with their backing.”
1215Tuesday October 13“John occupied Rochester and closely invested the castle with his soldiers sleeping, eating and drinking in the cathedral. The castle held out despite the use of every sort of siege engine.”
1215Monday November 30Rochester castle finally surrendered when the small garrison was threatened with starvation. John was in control of the south and began his march north. The barons meanwhile had send pressing messages of Louis urging him to come to England.
1216The church of St Benet Fink is first mentioned in this year
1216St Dominic founded his Order of Preachers (Black Friars) in response to the Albigensian heresy.
1216Friday January 14John and his army of mercenaries reached Berwick and from there harried the Scottish lowlands to punish Alexander for supporting the rebel barons.
1216FebruaryJohn and his army move south through Lincolnshire. The chroniclers record terrible ravaging and plundering by the mercenary troops. Town after town and castle after castle capitulate culminating in Colchester castle.
1216MayThe fleet gathered in the Thames estuary was largely destroyed by a storm and the way was left open for the French.
1216Saturday May 21Louis of France landed at Thanet with a large army and began to march on London.
1216Sunday May 29“Whit Sunday. At Winchester, the papal legate, Gualo, excommunicated Louis and his adherents and placed their lands and the City of London under interdict.”
1216Thursday June 2“During the night the Citizens of London, led by Robert FitzWalter and William Hardel, the mayor, rendered homage to the French prince in St Paul’s Churchyard. “
1216JulyJohn was at Corfe castle planning his defences. He then moved westwards.
1216AugustJohn collected reinforcements on the Welsh border.
1216SeptemberJohn moved east into Lincolnshire but failed to take Lincoln castle.
1216Sunday October 9John crossed from Lincolnshire to King’s Lynn where he suffered an attack of dysentery. He decided to return to Lincolnshire. He took the army on the inland route through Wisbech but sent his baggage train by the more direct route across the estuary of the Wellstream (now the Nene).
1216Wednesday October 12“The baggage train was trapped by the incoming tide and was lost in its entirety either to the sea or the treacherous quicksands. In the evening, in a fever aggravated by the news of the disaster, John rested at the Cistercian Abbey of Swineshead.”
1216Sunday October 16John reached Newark. Too ill to ride he had to be carried in a litter.
1216Tuesday October 18John died at Newark castle. He was buried at Worcester as he had desired. The young prince Henry assumed the crown.
King John.The remainder of the thirteenth centuryHenry IIIEdward I
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