« PreviousContinue »
THE GOVERNMENT OF SIMON DE MONTFORT.
The first measure of the Earl of Leicester after the
battle of Lewes was to dictate a preliminary edict, 1264
declaring the general principles on which the governThe Mise of Lewes : ment was to be carried on, and sketching out a new arbitrators appointed : court of arbitration, to which the principal matters in
dispute were to be referred. This document was in the form of a treaty, and is called the Mise or Compromise of Lewes. The text is not preserved, but we have a contemporary abstract,' by which it is seen that the composition of the court was to be of a mixed nature, English and foreign, lay and clerical,
with the addition of the Cardinal-Legate Guido.? points to
These commissioners were to discuss everything but be decided; the fate of the prisoners; their decision needed not to
be unanimous, but whatever the majority should determine was to hold good. On some points however it appears the court was not left to decide. The king, it was declared, was to rule justly, and without respect of persons ; none but Englishmen were to be
1 Rish. de Bellis, &c. 37.
2 The names are given in Rishanger : the Archbishop of Rouen, the Bishop of London, Peter the Chamberlain, and Hugh Despenser. But the authorities differ,
made councillors, high officers, or bailiffs of any sort. The charters were to be confirmed, and precautions
1264 to be taken against the abuse of judicial and ministerial power. The king was to be kept under a sort of arrangefinancial tutelage until his debts should be paid, and ments. he should be able to live on his own revenue, without oppression of any one. The Princes Edward and Henry of Almaine were bound over as hostages for the preservation of peace till the arbiters should give their decision. Full indemnity was granted to the Earls of Leicester and Gloucester and their followers. Lastly, the discussion was to be carried on in England, and to be concluded by Easter 1265. The spirit of the edict must be regarded as re- Fairness of
the Mise, markably just and moderate, when we consider that
except in the fate of war had compelled the royalist party to an the choice
of arbiters : unconditional surrender. The only point that has any appearance of unfairness is that of the choice of arbiters. We are not told how they were to be chosen, but it is evident that the defeated side could have had but little voice in their selection. That the cardinal-legate was to join in the discussion is however a proof that their interests were not neglected. According to another account,' the arbiters were to uncertainty be selected by the King of France, from French and on this English prelates and nobles; but much uncertainty on this point prevailed, and it is hardly likely that Simon can so soon have been willing to submit again to the influence of King Louis. The terms dictated to the conquered were all but identical with those proposed before the war; nay, they are at first sight
I Matt. West. 336.
even more moderate, for no part of the Oxford Pro
visions or the questions under dispute was exempted 1264 from arbitration, except the statute as to the exof Lewes : pulsion of aliens from all offices of State. But this
extreme moderation is rather in appearance than govern
reality. It does not seem that the question of the left to arbitration, form of government was to be submitted to arbitra
tion; it was impossible to wait, in the present state of confusion, till the verdict should be given. Some form of government was absolutely necessary, and the nature of this could not be left to the decision of so narrow a tribunal. It would of necessity remain with de Montfort to decide what points should be arbi
trated on, and what these were we cannot with any but certain certainty say. They would possibly include the exother points :
act method of appointing sheriffs and other officers, the general principles of which were laid down in the Ordinance of London ; the kings household, a financial committee, and other points not of primary importance, would be touched on. Constitutional questions are in fact omitted in the fragmentary copy of the Mise which we possess; but since the Ordinance of London and the constitution therein adopted were considered to be in accordance with the Mise, we may conclude that the lost portions included
some general decrees on this most important point. The the Mise a document was probably intended to allay mens fears, proclama
and to act as an announcement of peace. For this purtion of peace.
pose its moderate and reassuring tone was well adapted, and marks at once the statesmanlike wisdom and the honesty of purpose which distinguished its author.
From Lewes the earl, after having deposited his less noble prisoners in safe places, but taking Henry with him, moved to London. An universal suspension CHAP.
X. of hostilities was decreed, as well as mutual restoration of prisoners without ransom ; breaches of the
First peace and even the carrying of arms' were forbidden, decrees ; under very severe penalties; instead of the sheriffs, provisional guardians of the peace, doubtless from the number of Simons friends, were appointed, and various other measures taken to restore a state of quiet to the land.3
The most urgent necessities Parliament having been provided for, a Parliament was sum- moned. moned to meet in London, and the thorough nature of Simons reforms was at once apparent. The guardians of the peace were instructed to see that four knights were elected for the purpose of attending Parliament by and for each county. The exactness of the wording of this clause shows the importance which was attributed to the measure.
The Parliament met on June 23, and there is no Parliament reason to doubt that the county members were pre
of June. sent. The transactions were most important. The
1 The Earl of Leicester was specially excepted.
: That the Custodes Pacis did not altogether supersede the sheriffs is shown by the proclamation (Fæd. i. 455) addressed to · R. Basset custodi pacis, et vicecomitibus eorumdem comitatuum.' So too in the writ (Fæd. i. 456) addressed to the Custos Pacis and the Sheriff of Yorkshire. On the other hand, the Custodes Pacis alone were bidden to see to the election of four knights in 1264 ; while the Sheriffs of Sussex and Hertford alone were bidden to bring their prisoners to the Parliament of 1265.
3 Edicts as to damage done to property of the Church and the Jews ; recall of the University of Oxford, &c.
* Vobis mandamus quatenus quatuor de legalioribus et discretioribus militibus dicti comitatus, per ejusdem comitatus assensum ad hoc electos, ad nos pro toto comitatu illo mittatis, ita quod sint . . nobiscum tractaturi de negotiis prædictis,' sc. the negotia regni,' to be treated by the king with the prelaies, magnates, and other vassals (Fæd. i. 442). * This seems to be conclusively proved by the words voluntate
regis, prælatorum, baronum, ac etiam communitatis tunc ibidem
CHAP difficult question of lay and clerical jurisdiction was X.
handled in a way which, though fragmentary, shows 1264
de Montforts ecclesiastical tendencies, and the imParliament of June : portance of the aid rendered by the Church to the ecclesiastical legisla
cause of liberty. At the same time it must be altion; lowed that the regulations now issued tended to per
petuate the evils arising from the dominance and isolation of the priestly class. On the other hand, it may be argued that they placed a bulwark in the way of the extension of royal power, formed out of that body which had from the first been most closely connected with the defence of national rights. In cases of robbery, where both an ecclesiastic and a layman were concerned, the bishop of the diocese was to judge the cause. In cases where there was suspicion of the unlawful imprisonment of ecclesiastics, the bishop was to decide. The distinctness of the clerical profession was guarded by an enactment against the
bearing of arms by the clergy. A committee of three redress of bishops was appointed to enquire into the injuries injuries to suffered by the Church within the last year, and their the Church.
decisions were to be supported, if need were, by the
Lib. de Ant. Leg. 65, 70; Fæd. i. 443.