Ernest Harold Pearce.

Walter de Wenlok, Abbot of Westminster online

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compromissi," a plan much favoured at many times from
Bichard de Ware's election as Abbot, in December, 1258,

1 Domesday, f . 120 b. « p. 128, Mun. 82364.



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10 WALTEB DE WENLOK

to Thomas Jaye's election as Prior, in May, 1528,* It
meant that five, seven, or more monks were chosen from
the whole body, but, as was natural, mainly from the
seniors, to decide upon one name and to present it to the
Convent for acceptance. Thus, if any canvassing was on
foot, it was confined within narrow limits, and in practice
the congregation had its doubts settled for it. In this case
we do not know the names of the select jury, save that one
was Bichard de Waltham, and we know that he had six
colleagues,' but it is reasonable to conclude that Hanyn-
ton, John de Sutton, and Wenlok himself were among
them ; for Bichard de Eedyngton, who followed Wenlok,
and was elected by the same process, was also one of the
seven electors at his own election,' and so was Thomas
Jaye, when he became Prior.

We have no complete Usts of our monastic establish-
ment at this time, and the names which we possess owe
their survival to the chance of their appearing upon some
business record. But we can put together a company of
twenty-one, including the Prior, John de Coleworth. who,
as he was Sacrist in 1278, had not held his present office
for many years. The other twenty were John de Sutton,
already mentioned ; Jordan de Wratting, afterwards Sub-
Prior ; William de Huntjmdon, afterwards Prior ; Bichard
de Waltham, one of the seven original electors ; William
de Pharindon, who may be taken as the Precentor of the
period of the Consuetudinary ; Bichard de Fanelore, who
was one of the monks chosen to elect Wenlok's successor ;
Bichard de Eedyngton or de Sudbuly; Gilbert Bauel, who
perhaps came from Baveley in Huntingdonshire; Boger
deWaleden; Philip de Sutton; Bobert de Sancto Martino ;
John de Wodeham ; Adam de Wycumbe, who was prob-
ably Archdeacon at the time ; Henry de London ; Bobert
de Bures, one of the men whom the new Abbot took with
him when he started for Bome and whom he subsequently

> The method is desoribed in Monks of Westtninater, p. 176*

> Eal. Pap. Beg., i. 472. ' Monks of Westminster, p. 78.



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AN ELECTION. AT WESTMINSTEB 11

alienated from him ; William de Hanynton, already men*
tioned as a messenger of the Convent to the £ing;
Alexander de Neuport ; Henry de Waleden ; and, though
we have no mention of them in 1283, but only a fair pre*
sumption that they were then fully professed, Alexander
de Persore, Simon de Gardino, Adam de Lyminstre and
Bobert de Parham.^ Thus» though we have no list, we
can recall the personalities of rather less than half the
electorate, of which forty-eight may be taken as the
probable total.

Fortified, then, by the royal licence to elect, this com-
pany of religious met in the Chapter House on the last day
of the year 1283 to elect an Abbot ; they decided to pro-
ceed by way of compromission ; they chose their special
jury of seven ; and they accepted the resulting choice of
Walter de Wenlok as their Abbot.

We have no actual record of our own about the pro-
ceedings in this particular election, but we shall not go
far astray if we imagine our monks proceeding on the
lines followed by their Canterbury brethren in 1309.* On
the appointed day all and singular the members of the
House capable of taking part were called together. The
Mass of the Holy Spirit was celebrated and His grace
invoked upon the task in hand. The appropriate part of

^ Of. the careers of all these as given in The Monks of Weitminst&r, pp»
64-68. An examination of the annual oompoti of various manors, chiefly
in the Convent's portion, has recently yielded the names of several
additional members of the Chapter which met as above: Walter de
WaUoc or Wallop, who helped to carry the Virgin's Qirdle to some expec-
tant lady in 1279-80 {Mtm. 26657) and whose name may even be a disguise
for Walter de Wenlok himself; John de Brakele, who was Granger in
1280-1 (3fun. 26252) ; Geoffrey de Worcester, who held the same office in
the following year {Mwu 16875); Balph de Basmg, 1281-2, and P. de
Warham, 1284-5, mentioned on rolls of Ashford Manor (iftm. 26657^
36662) ; Adam de Stratton, 1281-2, and Walter de Wingham, 1288-4, engaged
at Aldenham Manor {Mun, 26019, 26022) ; and John de Wokendon, at Feer-
ing Manor, 1284-5 (3ftm. 25584). These eight are near enough in date ta
be added to the electoral roll of Wenlok's congregation. — «

^Cuitomary^i. 19 tL



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12 WALTEE DE WENLOK

the Benedictine constitutions was read and Prior Goleworth
made proclamation that if any member of the House —
"quod non credimus" — was under interdict or excom-
munication his vote was invalid and must not be counted.
Having decided, as already explained, to proceed by way of
compromission, they made choice of seven electors, who
then stood up to receive their charge in some such words as
these : —
In the name of God, Amen. We charge you in the
name of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit, and by your holy profession and the vows of
obedience which you made in this church, and by
the sacred Body of our Lord Jesus Christ which is
here before you, and by all the holy relics of this
church, and by God's holy Gospels, that you choose
for us from among yourselves or from the other
members of this congregation to be our Abbot and
shepherd a brother who in your judgment is devoted
to God, profitable to the conununity of this con-
gregation and of good will, useful to the well-being
of this church and requisite for the maintenance of
the religious life ; and you will not pasa over any
man through hatred, malice or envy, nor because of
anything in any way said or done to the displeasure
of yourselves or your brethren. You will not choose
any one because of his friendship or relationship to
you or through partiality or out of regard to any
advantage conferred or expected to be conferred
upon you or your brethren, but such an one only as
has the wit, the power, and the will to love his
brethren in the fear of God and to uphold the well-
being and the good customs of this church in the
form prescribed to the best of his power. So help
you God and God's holy Gospels. Go, and God be
with you, and have Him before your eyes, as you
care for your soul.
But something was needed of a more binding character



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AN ELECTION AT WESTMINSTEE 13

in law than this solemn exhortation. Therefore, the seven
next received from the Prior a parchment duly executed
and sealed with the conventual seal, which was their
authority to proceed with their responsible task. This
document recited the death of the late Abbot, fixed the
day for the election of his successor, gave the names of the
seven *' compromissaries," as they were called, and under-
took that the Convent would acquiesce in the choice
which they, or the majority of them, should thus make.
Beceiving this warrant, they retired and conducted their
careful deliberations apart by themselves. When they
had come to a decision, it was announced in due form to
the congregation of the House in Chapter assembled.
The Prior and Convent accepted it, as they had promised,
and asked the Elect to signify his consent to the appoint-
ment, which he did, with whatever hesitation. Thereupon
they conducted him to the High Altar, singing Te Deum^
while the bells clanged in the tower. The Prior then
announced the election to the people in the church and the
Elect was escorted to the Prior's chamber; for he was
still only the Elect. There was much to be done before he
could regard himself as Abbot.^

With all speed, accompanied by two or three members
of the Convent chosen for the purpose, the Elect presented
himself to the King, and these brethren took with them a
letter supplicating his Majesty to receive him graciously
and to signify to the Monastery his royal sanction and
approval of their choice. On their return the party brought
with them a letter which the King had written to the Pope
asking his Holiness to receive the Elect and then to speed
him on his return to his House.

^For the restriotiooB imposed on an Abbot-elect at Westminster, see
Customary t II, 6-9.



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CHAPTEE n.

TO BOME FOB CONFIBMATION.

The Convent has now done almost all that it can to give
effect to its choice of Walter de Wenlok as Abbot of
Westminster. The next step lies with the Boman See, to
which the House is immediately subject, but that step is
jcostly. In the first place, the Elect needed the King's per-
mission to leave the country on such an errand, and this
was made sure on 22 January, 1284, when the Crown,
being then at Glipstone, granted a safe-conduct to the Abbot-
elect of Westminister, who was going to Bome on his own
affairs.^ Now, it is just this question of expense which
brings us to our second item of evidence for this journey,
an item which is, in fact, the earliest Abbey document' that
records the name of Walter de Wenlok, after his election
as Abbot. It is a bond dated 11 February, 1284, for the
repajrment of money raised by the Convent to back their
choice before the Boman Court Wenlok, as we shall
learn, had already started for Bome and was actually
crossing the Channel on the date bome by the bond.
That document was executed at the New Temple before
Giffiredus de Vesano, canon of Cambrai, clerk of the
Chamber to Pope Martin IV, and at that time Nuncio
of his Holiness in England. On the one side of this
worthy's presence there stands one Bartolomeo Marchi,
the representative of a banking firm of Sienese merchants ;
the finn was known as Bonsignori & Co.' and among the
partners were Jacopo Brabanzon, Bonaventura Bemardini
and Banucyo Balchi. On the other side stands Brother

1 Kal. Pat. Rolls. « Mun. 12878. » «• Sooietas Bonseynur'."

(14)



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TO EOME FOB CONFIRMATION 16

Simon de Oardino, monk and Proctor of the Prior and
Convent of St. Peter, Westminster, near London.
Simon of the Garden — ^it is quite likely that he came
into onr House from the purlieus of Long Acre — ^was not
a prominent member of the society,^ and his name was
inserted into the document before us after all the rest of
it ha>d been written by someone else. We must be con-
tent to say of him that he was involved in the trouble
that arose between the Abbey and John Peckham, Arch-
bishop of Canterbury, about W. de Pershore, the apostate
Franciscan friar, and that for whatever part he took in
that quarrel he was absolved in July, 1291.* He was
under the care of the Infirmarer for the more part of the
year ending Michaalmas, 1306 ' ; he needed little medicine
and what he had cost just S^d. ; if we possessed the
Infirmary roll of 1306-7, we might know when he died.

But here he was in 1284, chosen by the Convent to be
their hostage for the repayment of 250 marks which the
Sienese bankers had lent thenL The money was needed
in order to expedite certain important and di£9cult business,
and especially for the pressing necessities arising out of
the election of that ** venerable man, my lord Walter de
Wenlok," Abbot-elect of their monastery, who must proceed
to the Boman Court to obtain confirmation in his office.
The Prior, the Sub-Prior, the Archdeacon, the Sacrist, the
Cellarer and the Precentor were all ready to incur the
penalties of excommunication if there should be any
default in the periodical repayments.

It is clear, then, that they raised some of the funds
necessary for so serious an ordeal, and we may assume
that they had also provided the Elect with the documents
that were requisite for his success when he should reach
the sacred city. What these documents were we can see
by a reference once more to the election at St. Augustine's,
Canterbury, in 1309.* First, they drew up a ** decretum "

^ See his record in Monk» of Weatministert p. 62.

« Mun. 6391. » Mun. 19819. * Cuttomary, I, 26 II.



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16 WALTEE DE WENLOK

setting forth all the facts and bearing the common seal
and the subscription of each member of the House ; there-
with they sent a covering letter to the Pope, asking him
to confirm the election and to bestow benediction upon
the Elect. The brethren who accompanied him to Bome
were provided with a letter of procuration addressed to the
Curia ; and, to make all sure, they carried the following
documents, all duly executed : the King's licence to elect ;
the sealed letters appointing a day for the election ; others
signifying the decision to proceed by way of compromission
and naming the compromissaries ; the petition to the Pope,
just referral to, with the " decretum"; the King's letter
to the Pope; and also these instruments: one about
the process of election; one containing the protestation
that no brother then under ecclesiastical penalties was
allowed to vote (this was only to be displayed in the Curia,
in case any corresponding objection was raised) ; and one
stating the day on which the Elect and his supporters set
out for Eome.

Altogether it was no light matter to become thus armed
at all points against the many possibilities of attack that
any one desiring to be confirmed in office by the Boman
Court had to be prepared for alike from the insidious and
the rapacious. If any of these parchments should be lost
on the road, great delay or greater expense would result.
We therefore turn now to the journey itself, which our
documents help us to do.

For it is clearly described for us in the account-roll of
its costs.^ As the season was not much past mid-winter^
and the Alps were to be crossed, there was much buying
of warm clothing, and the first item was a payment of
31s. 3id. to John de Eya — no doubt some clothier in the
neighbourhood of the Abbot's property near Westminster
called Eye or Eyte or "Insula" — ** pro collobiis et tuni-
cis ". The party set out on 7 February, the Monday after

^ Mun, 9241. Expense Walter! de Wenlok elect! Westmon eiga Curiam
Bomanam Anno Begn! Beg!s E. duo declmo.



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TO ROME FOR CONFIRMATION 17

the Feast of St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr, and their first
stage brought them to " Wykham," which we may assume
to be West Wickham just beyond Croydon. They were
in no hurry; for they halted there for two nights, and
bought a horse from one William de Ware for 4 marks.^
These initial outlays were made by Brother Robert of
Bures, an active and useful monk, then under thirty years
of age,' but it is not clear that he accompanied them any
further. They were now a cavalcade of sixteen horses,
and pressed on steadily, reaching Rochester on Thursday,.
Canterbury on Friday, and Dover on Saturday. We may
note that their day's maintenance in Canterbury cost them
13s. 9id., not omitting '' Item in elemosina per vitoi Id. ".
At Dover we have mention of Alexander de Persore, for
he and the Elect were two of the five who needed to have
their harness repaired at a total outlay of Is. Id. But
Dover was also their port of embarkation, and we find them
pajdng 21s. for the hire of a ship to take them over to
'' Witsond,'* or Wissant, which lies on a bay between Cap
Gris Nez and Calais. They were now a party of thirty-
two men, two pack-horses and a dozen other horses ; it
cost 3s. 6id. to get the animals aboard at Dover and to
disembark them on the French side, and the duty paid for
the men, the pack-horses, and the luggage, amounted to
6a 6d., the entire expense of the transit coming to 36s. lid.,
or rather more than one shilling a head per man.

Thenceforward we can follow them steadily day by day
and from place to place as far as Perugia, where the
account breaks o£ They reached Paris in six stages —
Boulogne, Mostroil, St. Riquier, Poix, Beauvais, Beaumont,
and St. Denis — on Friday, 18 February. The only point
of time in the account is the statement that they were at
Bar-sur-Seine "in die Cinerum," three days south of

^£2 18b. 4d.; nearly a oentuxy later, 1877, William de Goloheeter't
horse, with a saddle, cost only 848. Sd. ; of. B. H. Peaxce, Wilham d$ Col
ehiiter^ p. 88.

* Of. Monks of WistnUnster, p. 58 f.

2



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18 WAIiTER DE WENLOK

Paris ; and as Ash Wednesday in 1284 fell on 22 February,
we are able to date their course throughout. But since
there is a wonderful care and uniformity about their ex-
penditure at each stage, we may stop at this point to
notice the system of providing for their needs. It may be
taken that the average cost of theiir daily maintenance was
about 13& ; for they are careful to enter the sterling value
of the French money. Thus at Montreuil the account
says : ** summa xlvj& ixd. Paris'. £t valent xiijs. iiijd. stg.'*.
The items, which are given in French coinage, keep the
even tenour of their daily way, about 28. for bread, about
5s. for wine ; 5s. to 7s. for beef, pork, and mutton, three
fowls at 7d. each, one " Wytecoc " for 2d., and sixpenny-
worth of eggs. The daily bill remained at about the same
figure on fish-days, when ling, and pikerell, and eels and
congre, and tench, and trout took the place of the meat
course, where they could be obtained. They replenished
their cruet from day to day with small quantities of
mustard, salt, pepper, ** oleum de nucibus,*' and the like.
Their next care was fuel for the kitchen and candles for
the evening, then hay and oats for the horses, then a visit
to the blacksmith and the harness-maker for repairs ; and
finally a small payment, generally 2d«, for stabling. Tak-
ing a day's charges as normally 13s. 4d., and remembering
that the cavalcade was thirty-two strong, we get an average
cost of fivepence a head. The halt in Paris on 19 February
meant an expenditure of 20s. 8d., but this was due, not to
any luxury, for their salmon at 4s. cost no more than the
ordinary fare, but to the greater facility for shopping in the
capital ; for they bought six ells of ** kaneuas " for 4s. and
paid a tailor eighteenpence for making it into a garment.
Moreover, at this point we come for the first time upon an
" extra " which recurs at fairly regular intervals hereafter : ^
► " Item in lauatura pannorum ijs.'*. Travelling was grimy
work and our monks were no advocates of dirt for its

iQn 8 March, at St. Maurioe; on 10 March between Milan and
Cremona; on 16 March, at ** Bonkastel," the next stage after Bologna.



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TO ROME FOR CONFIRMATION 19

Own sake; so, as opportunity offered, they efTected a goodly
cleansing of their entire " kit " ; not merely their under-
clothing, but the pannif which was the word they applied
to the Benedictine habit of black cloth. The charge of
2s., or in one case 2s. 6d. — " pro lauatura pannorum famul-
orum" — represents the local coinage and not sterling
money, but even so it was a not inconsiderable sum. A
merciful man is merciful to his beast as well as to his own
comfort, and at the stage between Milan and Cremona,
which the roll calls Lauda and which was no doubt the
modem Lodi, the cost of the clothes-washing and the cost
of " Utera jhto equis " were alike fourpence.

The journey itself was apparently uneventful, but it was
at least a testimony to the endurance alike of men and
horses, and the frequent charges for the mending of shoe-
leather imply that there was rough walking for some of
them ; for example, at Brieg, with the '* passagimn mentis "
just in front of them, there is a prudent payment of xxs.
sterling ,"xv garcionibus pro emendacione sotularium'\
I reckon, then, that the continental part of their journey
from Wissant to Perugia occupied thirty-eight days, and
there is mention of fitty-four halting-places. It will be
sufficient, without mentioning each stage, to say that it
took them through Dijon, Dole, Salins, Pontarlier, Lau-
sanne, St. Maurice, Sion, Brieg, the Simplon, '' pro pas-
sagio montis,'' Gomo, Milan, Cremona, Reggio, Modena,
Bologna, Florence, Cortona and Perugia. For nearly five
weeks they pushed on without staying more than one
night in the same place. At last, having reached Arezzo
on Saturday, 18 March, they halted there over Sunday ;
the reason is perhaps to be( found not in their weariness
but in the need to prepare the way for their arrival in
Rome ; for on that Sunday the account enters xxxvis.
" pro quodam equo ad opus magistri P." — probably some
ecclesiastical jurist in the company, who must press on for
the preliminary negotiations with the Curia. Even so,
the lawyer was not their first avant-courier, for at Piacenza



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20 WAIiTER DE WENLOK

there had been a payment of xiiijd., " Boberto cnrsori pro
expensis erga Curiam et sotularibns '* ; evidently, being of
less account or of sterner stuff than the lawyer, Bobert
went afoot. Unfortunately the roll ends before we can
realise what either of the messengers accomplished.

Nor is it possible to say much as to the conventual
company that endured this hard travelling as the escort
of the Elect. Brother Bobert de Bures, as we have seen,
was with them when they journeyed through Kent ; but
there is no sign that he crossed the Channel. In his case
the entry omits to describe him as " Frater," to which he
was certainly entitled. The only person to whom the
titie of " Frater " is given in the roll is Alexander de
Persore,^ whose name occurs frequently in our story, and
who may be reckoned to be one of the Convent's Proctors
to the Curia. This is the first reference to him that I
have found in the Muniments, and, as he attained to the
important office of Sacrist four years later, it is fair to
assume that in 1284 he Jiad been a member of our House
for some years ; we do not as a rule find a monk reaching
that office at less than ten years from his ordination.
Alexander is remarkable, like William de Colchester after
him,* for having made at least three journeys to the Holy
City — the one with which we are now dealing ; a second
in 1291, when he was sent by the Abbot to act as his
Proctor at the Curia in the interminable proceedings about
Alexander's fellow-townsman, the apostate Franciscan,
William of Pershore ; the third in 1298, v^ith what special
object we do not know, though we are aware of a pathetic
incident connected with it. For he then obtained, at a
price which the Abbot may have helped him to defray, an
indulgence of forty days to all who prayed for his well-
being in this life and for his soul after his death, and for
the soul of Brother Thomas de Lenton, whose body already

1 Of. Monks of WestminsUr, p. 62.
*Cf. WiUiam d4 Colchester, 82 fE., 40.



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TO ROME FOR CONFIRMATION 21

lay in the monks' cemetery at the Abbey.^ There is 6Ti-
dence here of & conventual friendship, maintained round
the Abbot's person.^ For in 1289 Brother Alexander was
Warden of the Abbot's household or hospice,' and Brother
Thomas was his lordship's Seneschal or steward. The
first of the many letters of Walter de Wenlok still sur-
viving, dated on the Feast of the Annunciation, 1286,
contains a precept to deliver half a quarter of wheat to
Brother Thomas de Lenton for the wage of a workman
engaged on the repair of the walls, ie. the river-side em-
bankment.^ As Lenton fades away out of the Abbot's
official correspondence after 3 May, 1292, we have a pre-
sumption of his early death, and we can realise Alexander
de Persore's affection for his friend's memory, when we
find him some six years later petitioning the Pope, Boni-
face Yin, for an indulgence for those who pray for his
friend's soul.

Brother Alexander, then, is the only monk stated to
have been in attendance upon the Elect during his arduous
journey, though probably another Proctor was sent with
him. The other persons named in the roll are few in
number. At Dover P. de Warham* and R. de Kingestone
were sent on ahead to prepare for the arrival of the party
on the French coast. At Poix the same thing happened
to Kingestone and a man entered simply as W. At Salins
a payment of 3s. was made to one Adam of Hereford
" infirmo remanenti " ; it must be presumed that either
he caught up the cavalcade on his recovery or he proceeded
homeward at the expense of the benevolent. The " mares-
callus," we find, was called Ralph, and we have seen that
the company included Magister P. Robert the Runner
may have been hired locally, as was Lambertus de Medio-
lana, who was paid xxs. "pro conductu suo*'. But we

^ A notification of this indulgence &om fourteen Arohbishopf and Bishopf,


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