The Black Prince Papers

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Pope and Eleanor C. Older works are G. Edward's military activities are related in H. Barber, Richard W. Martin's Press, Need a custom written paper?

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Let our professional writers save your time. Coetzee's Wait. What is DedicatedWriters? All Rights Reserved. By , Edward was no longer prince of Aquitaine, and had renounced its rule some years earlier. He was still earl of Chester, though, and ruler of the two counties.

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Why Wirral? Wirral, one of the seven hundreds into which fourteenth-century Cheshire was divided, is situated on the north-western extremity of the county. From some unknown date in the twelfth century it had been placed under forest law by one of the Anglo-Norman earls of Chester, despite the fact that it was a rather unlikely region for a forest.

Cheshire sent no members to parliament in the Middle Ages, and had not contributed to any of the lay subsidies granted in parliament since the end of the thirteenth century.

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Consequently a whole raft of different types of levy had to be devised, to ensure that the county paid its share to support royal military policy. This began with the holding of a forest eyre under John Macclesfield an experienced royal forest justice and others for the three Cheshire forests of Wirral, Delamere-Mondrem and Macclesfield in This was resented by the local communities as an oppressive innovation, and turned out to be a financial failure.

In fact, that visit had to be devoted entirely to dealing with very serious public order problems within the county, to holding a court of trailbaston to try crimes of violence, oppression and extortion, and to negotiating a taxatory common fine of 5, marks with the county community. The chief officer in 8 P. Booth and A. Macclesfield had acted as justice of the forest of Kinver Staffordshire in Birrell, Staffordshire Record Society, 4th ser. Stanley was the scion of a Staffordshire family that had married into the office of forester, but as the property connected with it had descended through daughters they were possessed of only a small amount of land in Cheshire, just one third of the small manor of Storeton worth 67s.

Consequently, if his family were to thrive then he had to make the most of his position of power and influence as master-forester of Wirral. And thrive they certainly did. The accusations made against the Wirral foresters in the trailbaston sessions were damning. This was encapsulated in a sweeping accusation made to the trailbaston judges that the foresters of Wirral, while exercising their official positions, have repeatedly harassed the common people of Wirral by many crimes and oppressions, to their grave damage.

Furthermore, they have openly issued threats against the said common people so that none of the community dared complain about their behaviour, or pros- ecute them. Booth and Carr, pp. It is signifi- cant that both Stanley and Lascelles had been summoned to London in the summer of to speak to the prince in person about the situation in the forest, and he had ordered his legal advisers to favour them by ensuring that they were not deprived of any of their puture rights.

The Wirral foresters were a prime example of this, and so they were allowed to carry on as before.

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Booth and Carr, p. In , Henry Molyneux and John Brocton, both under-foresters, were accused of killing Richard son of Simon Becheton, lord of another third of Storeton manor. It was alleged further that Stanley and Lascelles had conspired with the killers, had lured Becheton into a boat in the Mersey with the connivance of his girlfriend amica , Rose, where he was fatally wounded, and had then arranged for Brocton to be spirited out of the county.

By far the most important landowner in Wirral was the abbot of Chester, who possessed a large amount of property in the hundred. Conse- quently his steward, Ranulf Roter, was a man of very great consequence indeed. Roter came from a similar background to the Stanleys, namely that of a very modest landowning family, and likewise had his way to make in the world.

Both sides attempted to use the criminal justice system to further their aims. Ranulf began by complaining that William had unlawfully seized goods in November which really belonged to the abbot of Chester. This not only gave him a stone manor-house of considerable size described as a castellum in ,33 but also semi-independent status within the manor, which was an important liberty within Cheshire.

His enjoyment of it was not to last long, though, because on 4 July he was murdered by four men at his estate at Kingsley, not far south of Frodsham. Unlike the Stanleys, Massey had done important military service for the prince, by leading a contingent of archers from Wirral as an indentured esquire to the Poitiers campaign, and a fellow huntsman of his in was said to be Sir John Danyers, who had served on the same campaign.

She conveyed all her property in Storeton to Sir William Stanley as he was by then in , and by that time he was in possession of the whole of the manor. Stanley received a pardon for this offence in Cheshire Sheaf, ibid. Also, although his jurisdiction had been taken away, the actual office of hereditary master-forester had not been abolished. Such a charter would extinguish property rights and legal privileges, and those affected normally had to be given the right to challenge the grant at the inquisition.

This led to a further rise in tension between the ex-foresters and the local commu- nity, which resulted in the final act of disorder in the whole saga. In January , Hamo Massey, Thomas Hough and John Poole together with three other Wirral landowners were commissioned by the royal govern- ment to collect marks from the community of Wirral.

At the subsequent court hearing on 24 February they were accused of having lit a warning beacon to gather a counter force of fifty-six men, and that this had resulted in a violent confrontation.

Logbook, Black Prince, January 2-October 4, 1775.

Thomas fled to sanctuary, having stated that he would not pay his assessed sum because the abbot of Chester, the prior of Birkenhead, Hamo, the other commissioners and many others in Wirral had granted the levy without his consent. The commissioners were accused in their turn of breaking into the houses of Thomas and his widowed mother, wounding their tenants, and seizing cattle and money.

William Stanley was on the indictment jury this time, and he and his fellows counter-attacked by making a long series of accusations of serious crimes against Massey, Thomas Hough, John Poole, the prior of Birkenhead, and others. This was to be held before the lieutenant-justiciar and chamberlain of Chester on 11 March The sheriff of Cheshire, Sir Laurence Dutton, had chosen a jury for that inquiry of men not associated with either of the contending parties, and it found that the allegations in the petition were true.

In fact, it gave more details of the actions of the foresters, listing the fifty-six names of those who had come armed in addition to Thomas Lascelles. When Hamo had showed them the commission to collect the tax, they had replied that it was worthless, and that they would die forty deaths before they would allow it to be enforced upon them by distraint, and loosed arrows at the commission- ers. The very day the court was held, it was alleged, Stanley had ridden through Wirral with a gang of armed men from Cheshire and Lancashire, to terrorise the local community.

What’s it going to be then, eh?

The result appears to have been a draw. The forest law was no longer to apply in Wirral: the master-forester retained his financial perks. On the other hand, the community of the hundred had become divided into warring factions. The dire situation in Cheshire in had provided both material and a setting for the work of a regional poet, the author of the satire Winner and Waster.

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Houwen and A. McDonald Groningen, , pp. Tolkien and E. Gordon Oxford, , p. I am grateful to Professor A. Mills for his advice on interpreting these lines.

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What has not been done hitherto is to investigate the uniquely rich legal records of the palatinate, to determine what type of lawlessness characterised this part of later fourteenth-century Cheshire. The petition of the community for confirmation of the disafforestation was made in parliament. This leads us to the much more difficult question, which is this: what conclusions would the prince have drawn from his awareness of the Wirral situation, and why would those conclusions have led him to single out this place as the recipient of his death-bed favour?

The two Stanleys were successful social climbers in an age in which it was difficult to be such, and their only real weapon was a generally detested forest law which they manipulated without scruple. The prince needed both soldiers and money from Cheshire, and the role the elder Stanley played in the forest eyre helped towards raising the latter. Good public order, particularly after the Black Death, was in the end dispensable. Similarly while the "City" of Limoges submitted to the French and was later sacked by the Black Prince's army on 19 September , the "Castle" of Limoges, the main part of Limoges, remained faithful to the Prince until Several other examples demonstrate that the assumed ideas on a tyrannical rule of the English and the Black Prince in Aquitaine are to be seriously qualified or even refused.

CXVII The collegiate church Saint-Seurin of Bordeaux have written several texts trying to prove Gascony sovereign status united with England towards the kingdom of France. In this context, a In this context, a ceremony has been organized there in around the Black Prince before his expedition to Languedoc. Les cris de guerre "Guyenne! CXII This article is about the war cries "Guyenne!

Saint George!