Here's the first part of two posts about a long-running rebellion in Bristol which began in 1312 and came to a head in July 1316, when Edward II ordered the town to be besieged. The story really starts at the beginning of Edward II's reign on 21 August 1307, with his appointment of Bartholomew, Lord Badlesmere, then probably in his early thirties, brother-in-law of Lord Clifford and retainer of Edward II's nephew the earl of Gloucester, as constable of the royal castle of Bristol.  Edward replaced Badlesmere as constable of Bristol with his steward Sir Edmund Mauley on 20 January 1312, shortly after Piers Gaveston's return from his third exile; the king changed the custody of several royal castles at this time to men whose loyalty he was certain of, and Badlesmere, associated with the earl of Gloucester - generally a supporter of his uncle Edward, but involved in the Ordainers' plans to capture Piers Gaveston - was not one of them. "To the king's great amazement," however, Badlesmere refused to relinquish control of the castle, despite Edward threatening him with forfeiture in February and April 1312 unless he did so. In July that year - with Piers Gaveston dead - Edward gave up and formally restored custody of Bristol Castle to Badlesmere, and also appointed him keeper of the town of Bristol. What led to unrest in Bristol in the first place is very difficult to ascertain, but by 1312 the important men of the town, the mayor, bailiffs, burgesses and wealthy merchants, had divided themselves into two factions, pro- and anti-Badlesmere, the latter group much bigger than the former. An early sign of trouble comes on 8 March 1312, when Edward II forbade the mayor, bailiffs and men of Bristol from going to London to appear before Badlesmere's lord the earl of Gloucester to "answer for certain contempts wherewith they are charged, as they have given security to the said earl to do, as the king considers this may prejudice him and his royal dignity."  (At this time, Edward had moved the government to York to avoid the Ordainers, then gathering in London to plot their next moves against Piers Gaveston.) On 21 July 1312, nine days before he formally restored Bristol Castle to Badlesmere's custody, Edward II took twenty-one men of the anti-Badlesmere faction under his protection. 
Events of the rest of 1312 are somewhat confusing: Edward removed the custody of the town of Bristol from Badlesmere on 12 August to the 'mayor, bailiffs and commonalty' of the town and ordered Badlesmere not to "meddle with the custody thereof" or to "permit any injury to be inflicted on the burgesses," or give them reason to "complain of his harshness." A little later, however, the king changed his mind and restored custody of the town to Badlesmere, and all these writs mention the 'dissensions' which had arisen between Badlesmere and the men of Bristol.  Around this time, the burgesses appointed John le Taverner of the anti-Badlesmere faction as mayor of the town, and told Edward that they were unable to present Taverner to Badlesmere as they were meant to do because Badlesmere was not resident in the castle. At the beginning of November 1312, Edward II was forced to intercede again and order the mayor and bailiffs to obey Badlesmere or his attorney, as the mayor's faction were pretending that a mandate sent to them on 30 September re-appointing Badlesmere as keeper of castle and town did not apply to them because it did not mention the 'commonalty' of the town, whereas the mandate of 12 August ordering Badlesmere not to meddle with the custody of the town did.  Basically, Badlesmere was having huge problems imposing his authority on the burgesses, who were coming up with all kinds of excuses not to have to obey him or take his position seriously.
In mid-January 1313, Edward II was forced once again to order the mayor and bailiffs of Bristol to obey Badlesmere, and told them he would also send commissioners to investigate the situation and enquire into the 'dissensions'. This latest crisis was prompted by John le Taverner, the new mayor, and his faction, which included the former mayor William de Axe, William Clif, Thomas de la Grave, Robert Martyn, Thomas Uppedich, Philip le Spicer and dozens of others. They had expelled from the liberty of Bristol, and stolen the goods of, thirteen burgesses of the town, "asserting that [they] were adherents to Bartholomew de Badlesmere, and seeking to oppress them for that reason": William Randolf, John Snow, John du Celer, Peter le Fraunceys ('the Frenchman'), Laurence Cary or Gary, John de London, Raymond Frombaud, Robert de Otery, Thomas le Spicer, William de Kerdyf (Cardiff), Richard de Welles, Martin Horncastle and Adam Wylishote or Welyshote. The earl of Gloucester wrote to his uncle the king on 28 February 1313 on Badlesmere's behalf, asking Edward to command the commonalty of Bristol to restore these men's rights and privileges in the town, restore their goods to them, and "to be obedient to Sir Bartholomew de Badlesmere...and to let his people go and dwell in the town without damage." Edward duly ordered the anti-Badlesmere faction, on pain of forfeiture, to do so and sent the sheriff of Gloucestershire to Bristol to make sure they obeyed, telling them that if they refused, "the king will grievously proceed against them." He also ordered them to to present themselves before himself and his council on "Sunday in Mid-Lent...to certify the king and council of their action in this matter." 
These measures also failed to work, and on 29 April 1313 Edward II took the town of Bristol into his own hands, though Bartholomew Badlesmere remained keeper of castle and town. The following day, Edward complained that Badlesmere's adherents had not been restored to the liberty of the town nor had their goods and chattels returned, "in manifest contempt of the king," and ordered the sheriff of Gloucestershire to arrest and bring before the king and his council John le Taverner, William de Axe, Robert Martyn and thirty-two named others.  By 9 July 1313, these men were imprisoned in the Tower of London, though Edward relented and ordered the constable of the Tower to release them "fifteen days after the end of three weeks from Midsummer." The king also ordered the sheriffs of Gloucestershire, Dorset and Somerset "to compel the mayor and commonalty of the town of Bristol to obey Bartholomew de Badlesmere...[and] to commit to prison all persons who obstruct him and also all rebels," and once again ordered the restitution of the pro-Badlesmere burgesses. Even this was ineffective, and on 18 August 1313 Edward ordered a frustrated and angry earl of Gloucester and Badlesmere not to besiege Bristol or to do "aught else to the injury of the king's peace, as the king understands that he [Gloucester] intends doing on account of the dissensions in that town." 
While John le Taverner was mayor, from autumn 1312 to May 1313, the anti-Badlesmere faction stepped up their opposition to him (Badlesmere). In a street opposite the castle called Wynchestrete, they built a fortified wall "of stone and lime" and from behind it shot arrows, crossbow bolts "and other harmful things" into the castle and refused to allow the garrison to leave the castle at any time even to get food and other necessary provisions. They claimed later, however, that they had built the wall not to attack the castle but "for the safer keeping of the town, and not to inflict any harm on the lord king's said castle." They also stepped up their harassment of Badlesmere's adherents in the town: several of the latter, including William Randolf, John Snow, William de Kerdyf and John de London, complained that their houses had been broken into, their goods stolen, their servants assaulted, and themselves, their wives, children and servants expelled from Bristol altogether. Not surprisingly, the anti-Badlesmere faction indignantly refuted this, saying that "certain men of the aforesaid community, their [Badlesmere's adherents] well-wishers, having understood that certain stupid people living in the said town wished to harm the said William [Randolf] and his aforesaid colleagues, they warned them of this in friendly fashion. And the same William Randolf and his aforesaid colleagues, for that reason, and not from fear of that community, or through any compulsion, left the said town of their own will." Badlesmere's supporters also accused John le Taverner's faction of keeping the profits which should have gone to Badlesmere as keeper of the castle and town, stealing wine and victuals purchased for him, and assaulting his servants. On 8 November 1313, Edward II took twenty-five of Badlesmere's adherents and some of his own serjeants, trying to restore order in Bristol, into his protection against the mayor and his clique, "under pain of forfeiture of life and limb, and of all else that can be forfeited to the king." Two days later took the town into his own hands again and re-granted custody of it to Badlesmere.  The situation in Bristol was nowhere near resolved, however, and in fact it gravely deteriorated when Edward sent commissioners to the town to assess the tallage (the king and council in December 1312 had ordered a tallage of a fifteenth on goods and a tenth on rents to be levied on demesne lands and boroughs). It didn't help matters that one of the commissioners was the elderly Lord Berkeley, as the lords of Berkeley had an ongoing feud with the burgesses of Bristol over jurisdiction of the Redcliff district. The Vita Edwardi Secundi gives a detailed account of the riots which followed the commissioners' arrival in Bristol: "the senseless crowd turned to rioting, and the whole populace trembled from fear of the disorder. Returning once more they entered the hall with a large following and there turned their right to wrong. For with fists and sticks they began to attack the crowd opposed to them, and in that day nearly twenty men lost their lives for nothing.* A very natural fear seized noble and commoner alike, so that many leapt out of the top-storey windows into the street, and seriously injured their legs or thighs as they fell to the ground." The mayor had to rescue the commissioners from the mob.
* This observation is spot-on: the names of nineteen men killed during the riots in Bristol are recorded on the Patent Roll. 
Coming soon, what happened next in Bristol: the earls of Lancaster and Warwick intervene to no effect and Edward II attempts to solve the problem with "gentle means" and diplomacy, but eventually gives in and orders the town to be besieged.
E. A. Fuller, 'The Tallage of 6 Edward II., and the Bristol Rebellion', Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 19 (1894/95), pp. 171-278.Sources
1) Calendar of Fine Rolls 1307-1319, p. 2.
2) Cal Fine Rolls 1307-1319, pp. 122, 147; Calendar of Patent Rolls 1307-1313, pp. 430, 452, 453, 483.
3) Calendar of Close Rolls 1307-1313, p. 450.
4) Cal Pat Rolls 1307-1313, p. 481.
5) Cal Pat Rolls 1307-1313, pp. 485, 491, 498; Cal Fine Rolls 1307-1319, p. 147.
6) Cal Pat Rolls 1307-1313, pp. 500, 506, 507.
7) Calendar of Chancery Warrants 1244-1326, pp. 387-388; Cal Pat Rolls 1307-1313, pp. 524-525, 556, 561; Cal Close Rolls 1307-1313, p. 524.
8) Cal Fine Rolls 1307-1319, p. 169; Cal Pat Rolls 1307-1313, p. 567; Cal Close Rolls 1307-1313, pp. 532, 578-579.
9) Cal Close Rolls 1307-1313, p. 532; Cal Close Rolls 1313-1318, pp. 2, 14, 69; Cal Pat Rolls 1307-1313, p. 587.
10) The Parliament Rolls Of Medieval England, ed. C. Given-Wilson et al., January 1316 parliament; Cal Pat Rolls 1313-1317, pp. 70, 73-74, 133-34, 143-144.
11) Cal Pat Rolls 1313-1317, pp. 35, 68-70, 289, 574; Foedera, II, i, p. 210.
12) Vita Edwardi Secundi, ed. N. Denholm-Young, p. 71; Cal Pat Rolls 1313-1317, pp. 68-69, 444-445.