16 March, 2009

Aftermath of the Battle of Boroughbridge, 1322

Today marks the 687th anniversary of the battle of Boroughbridge on 16 March 1322, when Andrew Harclay, sheriff of Cumberland, defeated the earls of Lancaster and Hereford and Edward II's other baronial enemies, whom the king had taken to calling the 'Contrariants'. I'm not writing an account of the battle itself - I'm pretty rubbish at describing military tactics and battles, and besides, accounts of Boroughbridge can be found all over the internet (here's an excellent one) and in numerous books. So instead, a look at a little-known aspect of the battle: the capture of the rebel combatants and the seizure of their possessions.

The Vita Edwardi Secundi gives an account of how the knights and noblemen who fought at Boroughbridge tried to escape:

"Some left their horses and putting off their armour looked round for ancient worn‑out garments, and took to the road as beggars. But their caution was of no avail, for not a single well‑known man among them all escaped. O calamity! To see men lately dressed in purple and fine linen now attired in rags and imprisoned in chains!"

The bit beginning "O calamity!" is one of the misused quotations of Edward II's reign; I've seen too many secondary sources pretend that the author was referring to Edward's tyranny from 1322 onwards, and I've never seen any book quote the sentence that immediately follows, where the chronicler - who hated the Contrariants even more than he hated the Despensers - describes the royalist victory as "A marvellous thing, and one indeed brought about by God’s will and aid, that so scanty a company should in a moment overcome so many knights." The Vita also says that in 1322 the Contrariants "killed those who opposed them, plundered those who offered no resistance, sparing no one." [1]

Other Boroughbridge combatants tried to flee the country or to hide by donning religious habits. [2] Edward II sent men of his household to round up the fleeing Contrariants and seize their goods, and many inhabitants of Yorkshire joined in the hunt. [3] Here are a few details of the men who were arrested and their possessions:

- Stephen Baret, John Haunsard and 3 of their men, captured by the constable of Knaresborough Castle, must have been among those who threw away all their possessions, as they were "taken bare." Baret was executed in South Wales shortly afterwards; Haunsard was still in prison in 1326.

- 11 men were captured 35 miles away at Selby the day after the battle ("on the morrow of the discomfiture at Boroughbridge"), and their goods were sent to the king. They included: a pair of silk garters adorned with silver and red enamel with a cross bar of silver, a "great silver chain containing twelve links with a pipe at the end," 12 buttons of green glass adorned with silver gilt, 8 buttons of silver wire and 5 of white silver, 7 pearls the size of peas, 2 great chains, "one containing 31 links with a silver tirret, and the other 25 links with a silver tirret," a purse of silk worth a mark, a book worth 10 shillings, 8 horses, 6 silver dishes, 2 "worn swords" and 23 shillings in coin. "No other goods of the said prisoners were found except a worn dagger and such things as were stolen by thieves and were of no value."

- the villagers of Luttrington took 60 shillings from the Contrariants, and the men of four other villages found "arms, coats and overcoats" worth 40 shillings.

- The excellently-named Nogge of Luttrington found unspecified "arms and goods" of the rebels in the local wood.

- William de Lascy, vicar of Sherburn, and Nicholas atte Tounhend of Luttrington took "2 grooms of the house" of Sir Henry Tyes (executed in London shortly after the battle), 3 horses, a pack and 2 closed coffers.

- "John de Barnebi and Hugh de Pontefracto took 3 prisoners with 2 horses and 9s 6d and a bacinet, and allowed the prisoners to escape."

- 7 combatants were captured at Ripon 2 days after the battle, by 7 men who seem to have been inhabitants of the town rather than members of Edward II's household, and imprisoned in the archbishop of York's gaol in Ripon. They gave up 7 horses, 4 haketons, 6 bacinets, gauntlets, "swords, bucklers and other small arms," 9 ells of striped cloth and a bed belonging to William Dautery (one of the men captured), to a total value of 10 pounds. A man named James Dautery, presumably a relative, was also imprisoned at Ripon and handed over a hackney worth 6 shillings and 8p.

- the possessions the earl of Hereford had stored at Fountains Abbey were sent to Andrew Harclay, including a gold cup, a silver cup, 40 dishes and 2 horses worth 3 pounds.

- William Comine fled to the church of Escrick, where "acknowledging himself to be a felon" he gave himself up to the rector, Simon de Munketon, and handed over to him the 7 shillings, 2 and a half pence he was carrying, and his sword and a horn.

- William Puncy surrendered to the abbot of Fountains and gave him his silver cups, dishes and saucers. His 2 horses, each worth 30 shillings, were seized at Fountains, as well as a haketon worth 10 shillings, a horn and 14 shillings in cash, and he was imprisoned at Ripon. "Hugh fiz Ivon had of the said enemy a cup and ewer of silver of the price of 40s; Thomas de Doncaster and James de Stow had a little hackney of the price of 5s."

- 10 men of Boroughbridge, including John de Schirwod, Nicholas de Scalton and Richard de Tanfeld, rode out of the town "and pursued the enemy," each receving spoils of 6 marks and more.

- Matthew atte Halyat of Sherburn seized a red doublet worth 40 marks which belonged to Sir John Giffard, and John Ryther took possession of a "coat of armour of great price, and a pack with robes and good furs" belonging to John, Lord Mowbray. He also captured Mowbray's clerk Richard. Mowbray himself was hanged in York on 23 March.

- 2 men found "a beast with diverse arms" in the wood of ‘Bolwelwod’.

- John de Roucestre and his companions "took a knight and a lady with 2 palfreys and goods."

- "Laurence de Ledewodhouses found 2 coffers and the whole harness for a knight with a barehide."

- John son of William de Quixlay took 2 empty chests and "venison of unknown quantity" from Richard le Walays, and Geoffrey Braban took Walays' 2 bacon pigs and a white hackney.

- 2 horses belonging to the Lancastrian knight John Eure were found "at the park of Helagh" and "forcibly taken away by the men of Tadecastre" (Tadcaster), and his 4 other horses were found in the woods at Catherton. Eure's shield, lance, habergeon, leg-guards and plate shoes were found at Bilton. Eure himself was beheaded in Bishop's Auckland by 14 of Edward II's supporters, without Edward's knowledge or consent. Edward fumed that "malefactors" had killed Eure "while he was in the king's faith and peace," asserting "that he was the king's enemy, which he was not" (though he did pardon the killers). [4]

- men of Merston found 7 horses, armour and weapons, including a pair of plate gloves, a pair of cuisses, a pair of leg-guards, 4 swords, 3 lances and 2 pikes, and also a pair of shoes and a silver spoon. 1 of the horses belonged to the minstrel John le Boteler, called 'Burning King'.

- Alan, Robert and William le Pakker found 2 "empty chests with torches of wax." William of Sherburn found a bay horse and 2 empty chests.

- "Certain grooms, alleging themselves to be with the esquires of the king's chamber," found 2 pairs of leg guards, 2 pairs of shoes with cuisses, 2 bacinets with adventails, a coat of armour, a "saddle for a pack," a tunic, a barrel and a bridle.

- John del Grene found a horse and a lance belonging to Thomas Ughtred.

- "Fr. de Ledgraunge took a hackney in the park of Heselwod."

- John de Fenton took a rouncy worth 20s, a a habergeon and a haketon worth 10s, and John son of Emma of Sherburn found 2 horses, 1 bay worth 20s, and 1 iron-grey worth 2s - perhaps belonging to Adam Everyngham, below.

- Edward II's sergeant-at-arms Roger atte Watre - one of the Dunheved gang who temporarily freed the former king from Berkeley Castle in 1327 - seized a destrier and 2 rouncies of the Lancastrian knight Nicholas Stapelton at Drax Abbey. Stapelton himself was handed over to the custody of the bailiffs of York, and imprisoned there "with a bed and a robe." Other men imprisoned in York included Sir Robert Ryther, with a bed and 2 robes; Nicholas de Burgh, "with a sorel hackney, a seal, a sword, a trunk and the clothes he was wearing"; Edmund de Ryvers with a haketon and a black cloak; Sir Adam Everyngham with "a bed, 2 robes and 2 horses, one bay and other iron-grey"; Robert de Puntfrayt with a sword and the clothes he was wearing; Thomas de Stretford, groom, with an iron-grey courser.

- "Robert de Bretton and Denys de Mareis and others, their companions, took a man at arms and 8 other rebels at Athelsay and a horse of the price of 40s, and 6 pieces and dishes of silver."

- Sir Peter de Midelton found at Sherburn a black rouncey worth 100s, a white horse worth 40s, a 'pomel horse' worth 40s, and a bay horse worth 4s.


1) Vita Edwardi Secundi, ed. N. Denholm-Young (1957), pp. 121, 124-125.
2) Calendar of Close Rolls 1318-1323, pp. 534-535.
3) Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous (Chancery) 1308-1348, pp. 129-134.
4) Cal Close Rolls 1318-1323, pp. 430, 474; Calendar of Patent Rolls 1321-1324, pp. 127-128.


Jules Frusher said...

"2 men found "a beast with diverse arms" in the wood of ‘Bolwelwod’." That sentence really made me laugh. I've been trying to imagine what it looked like!!!

Seriously though, I can understand men having horses and armour on them after a battle - but some of them seemed to have everything but the kitchen sink too! How on earth did they think they could make a quiet get-away carrying, for example, a bed!

Christy K Robinson said...

They sure "found" a lot of valuable livestock and equipment. Would that be like appliances and TVs "falling off a truck" along a New Jersey highway?
The Fountains monks and Esrick church seem to have relieved fleeing soldiers of their burdens, too. How kind-hearted, to think of the comfort of traveling strangers.

Clement Glen said...

Once again you have given us a fascinating glimpse into medieval mayhem!

Susan Higginbotham said...

Great list!

Anonymous said...

Cack!. The "discomfiture of Boroughbridge" sounds like they sat on a tack or ate bad fish or something. Hilarious.

Susan is right. It is a great list.

Gabriele Campbell said...

But Lady D, the poor sods needed their beds if they were supposed to sleep in the heather under the sky. :D

Anerje said...

Another excellent, detailed post!

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, all! Yeah, I think 'falling off the back of a truck' would be an appropriate comparison here. :)