William Rishanger.

The chronicle of William de Rishanger, of the barons' war, the miracles of Simon de Montfort online

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the repair is indicated in the catalogues in the Reading Room.

f Catalogue of the MSS. in the Cottonian Library, p. 369.

J Catalogus librorum manuscriptorum bibliothecae Cottonianae, fol.
Oxon. 1696, p. 76. The tract is thus entitled, " Narratio dissen-
sionum inter R. Henricum iii. et proceres, tarn prosa quam versibus


Ramsey monastery, but I have met with nothing that
has enabled me to identify his name. He must have
written his tract almost immediately after the occurrence
of the events which he relates,* for he addresses it to
Hugh de Solgrave, abbat of Ramsey, who died in the
year 1267 t"f" " De hiis caeterisque Angliam nostris tem-
poribus contingentibus, sanctissime pater H.,^ ad futuro-
rum notitiam, tarn metrice quam prosaice, divino ac vestro
confisus adjutorio, presens proposui memoriale compo-
nere;" MS. Otho, D. vm. Frag. Pars iv. fol. 214, v",
a, 3. The catalogue of the library of Ramsey monastery,
MS. Cotton. Cart. Antiq. ii. 16, which was made not
long after this period, contains no notice of this MS. ; at
least, no notice sufficiently minute to enable us to identify

* He refers to Matthew Paris for the previous history to 1258 :
" cujus (i. e. Henrici) usque ad xlij. annum regni sui, si quis scire
gesta voluerit, magistri Mathiae monachi de sancto Albano cronica
digesta requirat ; ibi qualiter castrum Bedfordiae expugnaverit, quali-
ter sanctus Edmundus archiepiscopus exulavit, qualiter duxerit, et
multa alia Angliam suis temporibus contingencia, diligens lector
poterit investigare." MS. Cotton. Otho, D. vui. Frag. fol. 214, v, ft.

f Monasticon, vol. ii. p. 549.

J I ought perhaps to remark, that it is on this initial letter alone
that I have grounded my assertion that the author addresses himself
to Hugh de Solgrave. That the writer was a monk of Ramsey, and
that Solgrave is the only abbat of the monastery about that period
whose name commences with the letter H. are proofs sufficient.

CAMD. soc. 15. d


it, although it may possibly form one of the " cronica "
or " gesta regum " which occur in that catalogue. Our
Ramsey chronicler quotes Virgil and Plato, and works
of these authors are among the "libri fratris Roberti
Bedford ;" but this, I think, can scarcely be adjudged a
sufficient ground to form even a conjecture ; although
perhaps Dodford, of all known writers who belonged to
the monastery of Ramsey, is the most likely to have been
the author of the treatise under consideration.

Rishanger himself has treated of the history of this
period more than once, although very variedly, and with
an evident desire to give as little repetition as possible.
In some cases, indeed, he has repeated the same circum-
stances, and several relations in his continuation of Mat-
thew Paris may be found, though generally with con-
siderable amplification, in his other writings. Thus the
answer of William of Valence to complaints against him
or his followers, finds a place in our chronicle, and also
in our author's continuation of Matthew Paris ; * but the

* In Ayscough's Catalogue of the MSS. in Tenison's library in
St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, MS. Addit. 5017*, p. 7, mention is made
of a copy of Matthew Paris's chronicle, with a continuation to the
year 1323. On consulting the MS. itself, however, 1 found that it
was only a copy of the compilation of Matthew of Westminster to the
year 1307, and a continuation by another hand to the year 1320 ;


singular anecdote of the death of the woman's hen, related
in the same page, belongs exclusively to the former
work. This chronicle, indeed, derives great import-
ance from its character of originality. Sir Robert
Cotton * is apparently the only person who has given it
any attention, but the scraps he has drawn from it are
very few and of little importance. The difficulty of the
MS. text may be alleged as the principal reason that
so curious and choice a record has been suffered to

which last has the following title : " Incipiunt gesta temporum
Edwardi regis secundi a conquestu, filii regis Edwardi primi a con-
questu, qui fuit sextus eorum regura qui a comitibus Andegavensibus
duxerunt originem secundum lineam masculinam." fol. 6, (vo, /3,
a fin.) This MS. commences n/ce0. in the history of the year 1058,
and is much abridged in the latter part. On fol. 3, (r, a, a fin.) some
one has written, " obiit Rishanger anno 1312," but this is in a hand
of the seventeenth century. It may be as well to remark that Leland
does not mention Rishanger at all, which is an additional reason for
presuming that the MSS. of his works were not at St. Alban's at the
time of his visit to that monastery.

* View of the Life and Reign of Henry the Third, 12mo. Lond.
1658. Very slightly indeed has Cotton referred to our chronicle,
but sufficiently to show that he had consulted it. Cotton finished this
work on the 29th April, 1614 (MS. Sloan. 3073, fol. 84, r), and when
the state of historical research at that period is considered, coupled
with his expressed intention of compiling a mere sketch, it cannot be
expected that he should have made any extensive use of minute his-
torical facts. His little work was, however, exceedingly popular, and
passed through several editions; there are also numerous MS. copies
of it.

* d2


remain so long undisturbed. Indeed, the task of editing
this Chronicle has been attended with peculiar difficulties,
from the circumstance of its being known to exist only in
one Manuscript, which is remarkable alike for the bad-
ness and obscurity of its penmanship, and for the evident
ignorance of its scribe as to the sense of what he was
copying. It has in consequence become necessary to
adopt a greater freedom of correction than is now gene-
rally admitted in modern editorship, and in some instances
even to form a conjecture upon the sense of the author.
A few of the more important of these deviations are stated
in the Notes ; but a scrupulous specification of every
discrepancy in the original was, from the nature of the
MS., scarcely possible, even if desirable. I am so sensible
of these defects, and of the uncertainty of conjecture
in matters of this nature, that I have added references
to the manuscript itself on the margin of my text, in
order that any reader, to whom the subject is of sufficient
importance, may compare the original for himself.

So completely was the scribe uninformed of the scope
of the historian's work, that at fol. 105, v, in the middle
of the first column, he leaps at once from the battle of
Lewes to the events which ensued after the battle of
Evesham; whilst afterwards, in the middle of fol. 110, v,


after conducting the reader to a period even two years
later than the Battle of Evesham, he has most confusedly,
without even a break in the language, returned to the
war in the marches of Wales, which ensued shortly after
the battle of Lewes. There is besides a disjointed passage
at fol. 1 06, 7 3 the insertion of which is inexplicable, ex-
cept either on the supposition that this MS. was not
intended for a fair copy, or that it was the work of a very
ignorant hand.

In the present edition, these several breaks in the
narrative are indicated by lines drawn across the pages ;
whilst the extraordinary chronological misarrangement
has been rectified (see pp. 35, 47). It is believed that
very little of Rishanger's work is actually deficient. For
whatever errors may yet have escaped the Editor, he
must solicit the indulgence of his readers, and he here
takes the opportunity of returning his best and grateful
thanks to John Gough Nichols, Esq. F.S.A., whose assist-
ance has throughout, been of the greatest value, and to
whom the editor is indebted for several material com-
munications and corrections.

I have annexed to Rishanger's Chronicle a collection
of Miracles (from MS. Cotton. Vespas. A. vi.) attributed

to the great hero of the history by the monks with whom



his remains rested. Such are curious memorials of the
fame and popularity of one who perhaps contributed
more than any other towards the establishment of the
grand principles upon which our constitution is founded.
Montfort " was the instrument of disclosing to the
world that great institution of representation which was
to introduce into popular governments a regularity
and order far more perfect than had heretofore been pur-
chased by submission to absolute power, and to draw
forth liberty from confinement in single cities to a fitness
for being spread over territories which, experience does
not forbid us to hope, may be as vast as have ever been
grasped by the iron gripe of a despotic conqueror."*
History, however, has treated his memory with severity ;*)*
and no writer has yet arisen to weigh with a careful and

* Mackintosh's History of England, vol. i. p. 238.

f " Honour and affection to the memory of that great man ! Mys-
terious providence, indeed, permitted rampant tyranny to glut its
eyes with the spectacle of his mangled limbs ; and worse the
poisonous breath of historic slander has for centuries infected his
name : revolution after revolution has triumphantly reasserted the
principles for which he laboured, fought, and fell ; yet without re-
versing the calumnious attainder. But, on our historical, as on our
political hemisphere, a new dawn is arising: and among the darkened
memories which the coming day shall gild with genial and grateful
beams, few shall shine more fairly than that of De Montfort."
London and Westminster Review, vol. ix. p. 490-1.


impartial hand the prominent part which he took in the
constitutional wars of the time. Such a task is difficult,
for all contemporary writers are either his zealous parti-
zans or bitter adversaries. That Leicester, especially in
the latter part of his career, was actuated partly by in-
terest and ambition, can scarcely be doubted; but the
manner in which he commenced his agitations, and his
abandonment of advantages to himself for the ameliora-
tion of the condition of the people, are sufficient to show
to a certain extent the purity of his motives, and to take
away from him the ignoble title of traitor : " et sciendum
quod nemo sani capitis debet censere neque appellare
Simonem nomine proditoris. Non enim fuit proditor,
sed Dei ecclesise in Anglia devotissimus cultor et fidelis-
shnus protector, regni Anglorum scutum et defensor,
alienigenarum inimicus et expulsor, quamvis ipse natione
unus esset ex illis."* That miracles should be attributed
to him was consonant with the feelings and customs of
the time, and sometimes persons of a much inferior
reputation were admitted to a share of popular canoniza-
tion.-f~ As relations of alleged facts, these narratives are

* Chronicon de Mailros, p. 228.

f So in Rot. Pat. 17 Edw. II., we find a writ " de inquirendo
de illis qui falso finxerunt miracula fieri circa corpora Henrici de


of course worthless; but they are curious as evidence of
the state of feeling and manners, and their incidental
notices of persons and places are occasionally valuable.*
The following extract from the Brute Chronicle, which is
taken from the best manuscript of it known to exist, is
applicable and explanatory : " Wanne king Herry hadde
the victori at Evesham, and Simonde the erle was y-sley
by the helpe of Gilberte off Clare, erle of Gloucestre, the
wiche was in the warde of the foreseid Simon by the
assignemente of kynge Herry. And afterward the same
Gilberte was with king Herry in the forseide bateille
of Evesham, were-thurgh the forseide Simon was des-
troiedde ; and thatt was grete harme to the comens of
Englonde, thatt so gode man was destroiedde, ifor he was
dede for the comenne profite of the same ifolke, and
therefore God hathe schewed ffor him many grete mira-
cules to diverse ffolkes of her maladies and grevawnce,
werefore thei have be heledde." This is taken from

Monteforti et Henrici de "Wellington, rebellium nuper suspen-

* There are also some miracles of Montfort related in the Chronicle
of Mailros, p. 232 239. These are, however, altogether different
from those which we have here printed. There is mention made, p.
233, of an " editiuncula de hello Lawensi facta," which may possibly
allude to the curious poem printed in Wright's Political Songs.


MS. Harl. 4690, fol. 51, r, ft. A contemporary autho-
rity says " fuerunt qui dicerent ad sepulchrum ejus
multa fieri miracula, et in loco ubi occisus est fontem nunc
esse amenissimum et cunctis infirmantibus inde gustan-
tibus saluberrimum ; sed non [ausus] est quisquam hujus-
modi propalare propter timorem regis* et suorum."
MS. Cotton. Cleop. A. i. fol. 190, r, a. William de
Nangis, a credible authority, thus writes,"}- " porro
corpus dicti Symonis monachi cujusdam abbatise, quse
vocantur Entesem, juxta quam prselium commissum est,
colligentes in suam ssepeliendum ecclesiam portaverunt.
Ad cujus tumulum, ut affirmant indigense, multi languen-
tium sanitatis gratiam consecuti, Christum approbant
ejus martyrium acceptasse." It is unnecessary to add
more from printed authorities. J

* " De quo fama Celebris quod multis post obituin radiaverit mira-
culis, quae propter metum regium non prodeunt in publicum."
Chronicon Eveshamice, MS. Laud. 529, Bern. 1510, fol. 64, r. Cf.
Chron. Petroburgh. MS. Cotton. Claud. A. v. fol. 35, v, a.

f Spicilegium Luc. Dacher. torn. iii. p. 41.

| Rishanger compares Montfort to Thomas a Becket, MS. Cotton.
Claud. D. vi. fol. 120, v, ft. William de Shepisheved, in his brief
chronicle, thus speaks of Montfort and those who died with him at
Evesham : " qui pro justitia et juramento suo servandum legitime
agonizantes migraverunt ad Dominum. Sed non est hie breviter
(sicut solito) transeundum de dicto comite, qui pro regni libertatibus

CAMD. soc. 15. e


The indignities which were offered to the lifeless body
of Leicester, " mangled and mutilated," says Sir James
Mackintosh, "in a manner to which the decency of a
civilized age forbids a more distinct allusion," doubtless
contributed their share to the creation of the very general
enthusiasm which vented itself in the veneration and
worship of his memory, and of every memorial which death
and the barbarity of an incensed enemy could leave behind
them. Robert of Gloucester* thus relates the circum-
stance :

sicut gigas fortiter dimicans, cum totum robur exercitus adversario-
rum suorum eum occupaverat, et requisites ab eisdem quod se redde-
ret, sic fertur respondisse, ' Nunquam me reddam canibus et perju-
ris, sed soli Deo ! ' Hiis dictis, totus mactatus hilari vultu reddidit
spiritum." MS. Cotton. Faust. B. vi. fol. 75, v. This contradicts
the generally received account of Montfort's death, and I am inclined
to give credence to it; for he was not a man likely at any time to
crave quarter from his enemies, much less at a time when he must
have known that a momentary mercy would only have been the means
of preserving him for an ignominious death. William de Nangis
says that " the whole weight of the battle fell upon the Earl of Lei-
cester, who was an old and shrewd warrior, and stood the shock like
a strong tower ; but, surrounded by few followers, and overcome by
numbers, he fell, and thus terminated an hereditary prowess, rendered
famous by many glorious deeds." Gesta Sancti Ludovici, p. 373.
The destruction of the vanquished at this battle must have been very
great, as little means was afforded for escape, and " voe victis " was
the cry of the conquerors.

* I quote from the MS. Calig. A. xi. in the Cottonian library, and
not from Hearne's inaccurate edition.


" And among alle othere mest reuthe it was i-do,
That sir Simon the olde man demembred was so ;
Vor sir Willam Mautravers, thonk nabbe he non,
Carf him of fet and honde, and is limes manion.
And that mest pite was, hii ne bilevede noujt this,
That is prive membres hii ne corve of i-wis ;
And is heved hii smiten of, and to Wigemor it sende
To dam Maud the Mortimer, that wel foule it ssende.
And of al that me him bilimede, hii ne bledde no3t, me sede,
And the harde here was is lich the nexte wede."

The following two extracts, taken from inedited manu-
scripts, relate to the same transaction.

(1.) " Cum igitur sic dominus Symon de Monteforti
corruisset,* hostes ejus plurimum laetati sunt, et cor-
pus ejus crudeliter consciderunt in frustra, mittentes
omnia membra ejus per diversas partes Angliae, ac di-
centes eum infidelem esse et omnem hunc seditionem
movisse. Sed dicunt quidam universa membra ejus tali-
ter sparsa mirabiliter in brevi coadunata esse ad invicem,

* According to the Evesham Chronicle, his son Simon was pre-
vented from rendering him any assistance owing to the crowded flight
of the fugitives, and that he made " vehementissimum dolorem" when
he heard of the death of his father, and of the treatment of his dead
body ; " sancti tamen viri ejusdem loci monasterii sepelierunt illud
cum caeteris corporibus nobilium interfectorum in basilica eorum,
minus tamen honorifice propter metum." MS. Oxon. Laud. 529,
Bern. 1510, fol. 63, v.


et condita esse in loco ubi nunc habetur honorifice se-
pultus, scilicet apud abbatiam de Evesham." Chron.
Anon. MS. Cotton. Cleop. A. i, fol. 190, v, 0.

(2.) " Capud vero dicti comitis Leicestriae, ut dicitur,
abscisum fuit a corpore, et testiculi sui abscisi fuerunt et
appensi ex utraque parte nasi sui, et ita missum fuit capud
suum uxori domini Rogeri de Mortuo Mari apud castrum
de Wiggemore. Pedes vero et manus suse abcisi fuerunt,
et missi per diversa loca inimicis suis ad magnum dede-
cus ipsius defuncti. Truncus autem corporis sui tantum-
modo datus est sepulturae in ecclesia de Evesham." MS.
Liber de Antiquis Legibus,* fol. 94, v, a. According to
the Abingdon Chronicle, the remains of Montfort were
actually taken away from the abbey of Evesham by some
of his enemies, who considered that he was unworthy of

* This MS. is preserved in the archives of the corporation of the
city of London, and I am indebted to Edward Tyrrell, Esq. City
Remembrancer, for a sight of it. Mr. Hunter, in the Appendix to
the last Report of the Record Commissioners, p. 465, lias described
the contents of the volume from a transcript made by order of the
commissioners. This transcript is now preserved in the State Paper
Office. There is another transcript in the British Museum, MS.
Harl. 690, made in the seventeenth century, and which does not
appear to be known to antiquaries. It is an excellent and valuable
copy. A partial transcript is also in MS. Cantab. Trin. Coll. inter
MSS. Gal. O. x. 3.


a Christian burial;* and buried elsewhere, " qui qui-
dem locus nisi paucissimis usque hodie est occultus et
incognitus." 1 ^ Vengeance, indeed, fierce and implacable
followed the hero of liberty beyond the confines of the
grave. It seemed that the direst cruelty could not satisfy
the thirst of the triumphant barbarian

" T ii Zeu, A/ICT; re Zeros, 'HXiov re $ws,
Nuy KaXXifiKoi TiDv Zpwv e^Qpwv, <f>i\ai,
revrj&o/jieffda., nets b&ov /3e/3r//cayuev "

So perished Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, of
whom it has been well remarked, " too great for a sub-
ject, which had hee not beene, he might have beene
numbred amongst the worthiest of his time. '^

* On the margin of fol. 176 of MS. Cotton. Nero, D. n., which is a
fine copy of the chronicle of Matthew of Westminster, is a very
curious drawing of the " butchering" of Montfort's remains. A
drawing also of his death, in which he is represented as being slain
by Henry himself, is in MS. Cotton. Nero, A. iv. fol. 110, r. It
was Prince Edward, and not Henry, as generally stated, who com-
manded the monks of Evesham to bury the slain at the battle of
Evesham, MS. Cotton. Titus, A. xm. fol. 55, v"; MS. Cotton.
Nero, A. vi. fol. 26, r; MS. Bib. Reg. 20 A. XVIII; Chronicon
Triveti, p. 200, &c.

f MS. Bodl. 712, Bern. 2619, fol. 370, r, a; and MS. Bibl.
Publ. Cantab. Dd. II. 5. This chronicle will shortly be published
by the Berkshire Ashmolean Society.

I Daniel's Collection of the Historic of England, fol. Lond. 1617,
p. 152.


Not the least remarkable circumstances attending the
death of Montfort and the battle of Evesham, were the
tremendous hurricanes and storms on the eve of the same
day throughout all England. By each party, this was
considered a favourable interposition of Providence on
their side,* and the populace believed that a signal of
vengeance for the death of their hero had descended from
heaven itself. The following extracts, taken from inedited
manuscripts, relate to this subject. (1.) " Nee est praa-
termittendum signum quod accidit manifestum, quia hora
ilia qua prselium incepit, videlicet dicta die Martis hora
prima, factse sunt tenebrse per totam terrain quales nun-
quam nostris temporibus visae sunt, et tonitrus sequente
mirabili inundatione pluviarum, cum ante et post per
totam diem maxima esset aeris serenitas, quod manifes-
tum indicium dare videbantur futurorum." MS. Bodl.
712, Bern. 2619, fol. 369, v, . (2.) " Eodem die, circa
horam diei tertiam, tanta pluvise inundatio, tanta tonitrua
et coruscatio, et tarn densae tenebrae extiterunt, ut cum
esset hora prandii, vix cibum appositum potuerunt videre
comedentes." MS. Arundel, Coll. Arm. N. 30, fol. 152,

* " As if the King of Kings would now visibly revenge the King's
quarrell." The late Warre parallel'd, by Edward Chamberlain, 4to.
Lond. 1000, p. 7.


r; and MS. Harl. 3846.* (3.) " In illo die obscuratus
est sol, audita sunt tonitrua, fulgura visa sunt, et terrse-
motus factus est per loca." MS. Bib. Reg. 13 C. vi.
fol. 64, r, a; and MS. Cotton. Nero, A. ix. fol. 72, v.
(4.) " Sed, ut in prseliis Machabeorum, non refulsit sol
in clipeos eorum aureos, nee splenduerunt montes ab eis.
Sed a mane usque ad horam fere sextam tenebrse factae
sunt super terrain, illuxeruntque fulgura et chorusca-
tiones orbi terrae et maxime per regnum Anglise. Prae-
dictus vero comes Leicestrise Symon induit se loricam,
sicut gigas, et ascendit ex adverso cum paucis respectu
aliorum exercituum." Chron. Wigorn. MS. Cotton. Ca-
lig. A. x. fol. 130, v.

After the battle of Evesham,-)- the party of the Barons
made few efforts, and those unsuccessful, against the rule
of their conquerors. The parliament shortly afterwards as-
sembled by Henry was the pliant instrument of his rapacity
and revenge.* The followers of Leicester were proscribed,

* Cf. MS. Addit. 5444, fol. 74, v ; MS. Cotton. Cleop. D. ix.
fol. 55, r, a; MS. Digby, 168; MS. Cotton. Domitian. xm. fol.
55, v; MS. Addit. 6913, fol. 207, r; MS. Liber de Antiquis
Legibus, fol. 94, v, ft.

f According to the Red Book of the Exchequer, the time of war
lasted from April 4th, 1264, to September 16th, 1265.

J Mackintosh's History of England, vol. i. p. 244. Cf. Chron.
Wykes. " Post haec Eduardus de Londoniensibus et pluribus aliis


and the confiscation* of the lands of all the persons who
had been or who were then engaged in the rebellion, and
the gift of them to the King, was one of the first measures
on which the parliament determined. " It was not to be
supposed," says Mr. Hunter,-}- " that a parliament thus
assembled before the excitement had time to subside,
would proceed in the spirit of moderation in respect of
the measures which the King might be advised to take;
or that the King himself, who had just escaped from a
restraint of fourteen months' duration, would be unwilling
to avail himself of the advantageous position in which he
was placed, to break for ever a power which he had found
so dangerous." True, but all Henry's dangerous ene-
mies perished at Evesham, and, with Henry's known
character before our view, we cannot attribute his

triumphans, nee fidem nee spem datam pluribus observavit; sed cru-
delitatibus inserviens, quosdam in prisione vitam finire fecit, et alios
exhaeredans, terras eorum suis fautoribus pro parte distribuit." W.
de Nangis, Spicil. Luc. Dacher. torn. iii. p. 41. " Rex ergo, mortuo
domino Symone de Monteforti, ad suos et priorem stain m suum
reversus est." MS. Cotton. Cleop. A. I. fol. 191, r, a.

* Cf. MS. Harl. 6359; MS. Cart. Antiq. Cotton, xi. 18. Most
of Leicester's own possessions were given to Henry's youngest son,
Edmund ; Sir Francis Palgrave's Antient Kalendars and Inven-
tories of the Exchequer, vol. i. p. 68.

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