1. The Relationship between the Business Transacted in the Fine Rolls and the Royal Itinerary in 1252

Building on an earlier Fine of the Month which concerned Henry III’s relationship with his great castle at Windsor, Julie Kanter, through a statistical analysis of Fine Roll material, now examines the relationship between where the king resided on a daily basis, where business was undertaken and the probable geographical provenance of those making fine with him for concessions and favours. It emerges that there is relatively little correlation between the king’s location and the number of requests from the local area, many of those making fine being prepared to make the journey either to the king himself (usually in the south of England) or to Westminster.

⁋1It has been hypothesized in a previous Fine of the Month [David Carpenter & Julie Kanter, Henry III and Windsor (Fine of the Month, November 2009)] that for Henry III Windsor Castle was a private rather than a public space. Windsor acted as a country retreat and as such it was not, for the most part, used for great public assemblies. 1 If Windsor’s role in Henry III’s itinerary was indeed mainly as a private domestic royal residence then was it the case that less business of royal government was conducted when Henry III was at Windsor? Now, as the evidence for Henry III’s itinerary, including the time he spent at Windsor, is derived from the attestations enrolled in the Charter, Close, Fine, Liberate and Patent rolls (which bear the date and location of the king), it is clear that some of the business of royal government carried on while the king was at Windsor. The question is: was proportionally less business conducted during the time the king spent at Windsor than was conducted during the time he spent at other, more public, royal residences, such as Westminster? It is possible to begin to answer this question through an examination of the entries in the Fine Rolls in conjunction with an examination of the royal itinerary. It should be noted that the term ‘entries’ is used in this essay to denote all the separate items of business enrolled in the Fine Rolls (and numbered as such on the translations of the rolls on this website) whether they are offers of money (i.e. fines) or not.

⁋2One way of doing this is to examine the percentage of government business conducted at Windsor and enrolled on the Fine Rolls and compare this to the percentage of the year that the king spent at Windsor. Additionally, contrasting this Windsor information with the corresponding information for Westminster may serve to illuminate further the comparison between the role of Windsor as a private space and Westminster as a public one. For this examination the year 1252 may be taken as an example.

⁋3In 1252, Henry III spent 12% of his time at Windsor and interestingly enough 12% of the entries for 1252 (contained in the Fine Rolls for 36 and 37 Henry III) were attested while the king was at Windsor. 2 Clearly, then, the fact that Windsor was not a place for great public assemblies, did not act as a stop on the flow of fine roll business. On the other hand, Westminster’s place as the seat of government is reflected in the fact that its percentage of fine roll business exceeds (as it does not at Windsor) the percentage of the year that Henry III spent there. Thus, in 1252 Henry III spent 26% of the year at Westminster, but a greater percentage, 35%, of the 1252 Fine Roll entries were made while the king was resident at Westminster. This information on the proportion of his time that Henry III spent at Windsor and Westminster and the corresponding proportion of the entries for 1252 in the Fine Rolls can be seen in the charts below:

Percentage of time Henry III spent at Westminster and Windsor in 1252
Percentage of time Henry III spent at Westminster and Windsor in 1252
Percentage of Entries in the Fine Rolls witnessed at Westminster and
Percentage of Entries in the Fine Rolls witnessed at Westminster and Windsor

⁋4Proportionally less business was carried out when Henry III was at Windsor than when he was at Westminster. While the offers and other business recorded in the Fine Roll entries followed the king wherever he was, less of it was conducted at Windsor. This does seem to corroborate the theory that Windsor Castle was treated as a more private and domestic space than Westminster.

⁋5Separate from, but related to, the question of Windsor’s role in the royal itinerary is the more general issue of the relationship between the itinerary of Henry III and the routine business of royal government – the collection of revenue, preserving political control, maintaining the peace of the realm and the dispensation of justice. While the itinerary of Henry III during his personal rule in England is less governed by these factors than the itinerary during either his minority or the reign of King John, it is still possible that there is a link between the royal itinerary and the business of routine royal government. If Henry III was not travelling with the express purpose of taking routine royal government to the shires of England, might it nevertheless be the case that a higher proportion of the business conducted while Henry III was present in a county was actually business concerning that county? Here too the information from the entries Fine Rolls for 36 and 37 Henry III relating to the calendar year 1252 is revealing when looked at in conjunction with the information regarding that year’s royal itinerary.

⁋6To begin with, then, the information on where Henry III spent his time in the year 1252: the following table and chart show the information regarding the counties that Henry III visited during the year, along with the corresponding number of locations within the county that the king visited (to show how widely the king travelled within each county) and the number of days that he spent within the county. The counties are listed in descending order of where the king spent the greatest amount of time.

County # of Locations Days
Middlesex 3 101
Wiltshire 3 64
Berkshire 5 55
Oxfordshire 2 30
Hampshire 8 17
Suffolk 1 16
Surrey 3 16
Kent 6 15
Dorset 4 10
Northamptonshire 4 10
Cambridgeshire 4 9
Yorkshire 5 9
Hertfordshire 4 8
Nottinghamshire 3 6
Buckinghamshire 2 4
Leicestershire 1 1
Rutland 1 1

⁋7 List of counties of England (north to south) not visited by the king in 1252:

  • Northumberland;
  • Cumberland;
  • Durham;
  • Westmorland;
  • Lancashire;
  • Cheshire;
  • Derbyshire;
  • Lincolnshire;
  • Shropshire;
  • Staffordshire;
  • Herefordshire;
  • Worcestershire;
  • Warwickshire;
  • Huntingdonshire;
  • Norfolk;
  • Essex;
  • Bedfordshire;
  • Gloucestershire;
  • Somerset;
  • Sussex;
  • Devon and Cornwall.
Where Henry III spent 1252 by County
Where Henry III spent 1252 by County

⁋8This information may now be contrasted with that regarding the percentage of entries in the Fine Rolls corresponding to the year 1252 which concern the various counties. 3 This can be seen in the following chart.

Percentage of Entries Relating to the Counties
Percentage of Entries Relating to the Counties

⁋9As may be seen from the above charts, there is absolutely no correlation between the amount of time that Henry III spent in a county in 1252 and the amount of entries in the Fine Rolls that relate to the county. Indeed, the two counties for which the most business was conducted, Lincolnshire and Essex, were both counties which Henry III did not visit in 1252. However, there is no reverse correlation between where the king spent the most time and which counties the most business concerned either. Moreover, Suffolk is the only county for which the percentage of total Fine Rolls business concerning it is the same as the percentage of the year that Henry III spent within it and this seems to be due more to luck than to any meaningful connection between the two. It should be noted that while the ‘Unclear and Foreign’ category – which relates to those entries for which it is uncertain which county they pertain to and additionally those entries concerning Ireland and Gascony – is the single largest category, it does make up less than a fifth of all the entries made in 1252.

⁋10Some special attention should be paid to Yorkshire and not only because 5% of the entries related to it. It is to be expected that a large amount of business would concern Yorkshire, the biggest county. What is of interest is that in 1252, in contrast to most of the year of his personal rule, Henry III actually visited the county. However, most of the entries relating to Yorkshire were not attested while the king was present in the county during the first week of January 1252. Indeed, this highlights the fact that most of the entries in for 1252 do not concern the county that the king was in at the time. This contrasts starkly to the entries in the Fine Rolls for John’s reign. It is unfortunate that the Fine Roll entries from John’s reign bear only the county the entry relates to and not the date or place at which it was attested. If the entries did bear the dates (or the location they were attested at) – as the Fine Rolls of Henry III do – it would be possible to match more closely John’s itinerary with the entries. However, the great number of fines concerning the north of England – more than the average – during the trips John made to the region, suggest a correlation between the presence of the king and the amount of money raised through fines. 4 That there is no such correlation in 1252 seems to suggest that, by this point, people expected to travel to the king in order to make offers, they certainly did not expect to wait for the king to travel to them. This may well be an effect of the sedate and southern-based nature of Henry III’s itinerary. While King John travelled throughout most of England at regular intervals, Henry III spent most of his time at a handful of royal palaces located in the old Wessex region.

⁋11But the fact that the business conducted does not correlate to where the king is present may also reveal another difference between the Fine Roll business of John and that of his son – the people making offers were doing so of their own free will. Indeed, they were likely going to some difficulty and expense to travel to the king in order to do so. These subjects of Henry III were not being forced into making offers either explicitly or implicitly by the king’s very presence. Between John and Henry III the nature of the business enrolled in the Fine Rolls had changed, perhaps in part due to the changing nature of the royal itinerary. 5

⁋12Detailed information regarding each county, the number of entries which relate to it and the amount of money offered to the king from it and the number of days the king spent within the county is shown in the following table and chart. 6 The counties are shown in descending order of the number of entries which concern the county.

County # of Entries £ offered Days Henry III spent within the County
Unclear and Foreign 269 £2351 5s. 7d. (40 talents of gold, 291 gold coins) N/A
Lincolnshire 99 £607 10s. (20 gold coins) 0
Essex 80 £291 17s. 0
Yorkshire 72 £166 (32 gold coins) 9
Norfolk 60 £77 15s. (6 gold coins) 0
Suffolk 59 £68 16
Somerset 44 £125 18s. 0
Northamptonshire 42 £211 17s. 6d. 10
Wiltshire 40 £36 1s. (18 gold coins) 64
Gloucestershire 36 £430 15s. (35 gold coins) 0
Middlesex 36 £55 8s. 1d. (305 gold coins) 101
Sussex 36 £513 10s. 0
Dorset 35 £123 19s. 7d. (4 gold coins) 10
Cambridgeshire 33 £47 5s. 9
Hampshire 33 £45 15s. 6d. (10 talents of gold) 17
Kent 33 £211 1s. (10 talents of gold, 20 gold coins) 15
Shropshire 31 £187 17s. 7½d. 0
Herefordshire 29 £43 14s. 4d. 0
Hertfordshire 28 £35 11s. 8
Oxfordshire 27 £47 12s. (20 talents of gold) 30
Leicestershire 25 £184 5s. 1
Nottinghamshire 24 £79 6
Warwickshire 21 £200 10s. 0
Worcestershire 21 £468 (20 gold coins) 0
Cumberland 18 £650 18s. 2d. 0
Bedfordshire 17 £318 5s. 0
Berkshire 16 £22 16s. 55
Buckinghamshire 16 £53 18s. 4
Surrey 16 £178 15s. 16
Devon 15 £200 15s. 0
Staffordshire 13 £51 0
Derbyshire 12 £22 18s. 0
Lancashire 12 £323 10s. 0
Huntingdonshire 11 £13 10s. 0
Northumberland 8 £36 (8 gold coins) 0
Cheshire 6 £11 15s. 0
Cornwall 6 £14 5s. 0
Rutland 4 £9 5s. 1
Westmorland 2 £3 0
Durham 1 £3 0
Total £8523 18s. 4½d. (80 talents of gold, 759 gold coins)
The Fine Rolls and the Itinerary, 1252
The Fine Rolls and the Itinerary, 1252


Indeed, between 1234–41 and 1244–52, the time which may be termed Henry III’s Personal Rule in England, only two parliaments out of the forty-four which were held took place at Windsor. These were the parliament which began on 9 September 1244 and that which took place between c. 15 and 21 May 1247. Annales Monastici, ed. H.R. Luard, 5 vols (London: Rolls series, 1864), iii, p. 164; The Royal Charter Witness Lists of Henry III (1226–1272): from the Charter Rolls in the Public Records Office, ed. M. Morris, 2 vols (Kew, List and Index Society 291–92, 2001), ii, pp. 22–23. Back to context...
The calendar year 1252 is covered by entries 136–1319 in the Fine Roll for 36 Henry III (C 60/49) and entries 1–230 in the Fine Roll for 37 Henry III (C 60/50). Back to context...
Entries which concern more than one county have been counted as an entry for each county they concern (hence the number of entries concerning the various counties is greater than the total number of counties). Entries for which it is not clear what county the entry refers to or which relate to Ireland or France have been assigned to the ‘Unclear and Foreign’ category. Entries which were cancelled have not been included. Back to context...
Rotuli de Oblatis et Finibus, ed. T. D. Hardy (London, 1835), pp. 42–143. Back to context...
See Paul Dryburgh and Beth Hartland, ‘The Development of the Fine Rolls’, in Thirteenth Century England XII. Proceedings of the Gregynog Conference 2007, ed. Janet Burton, Phillipp Schofield and Bjorn Weiler (Woodbridge, 2009), pp. 193–205. An abridged version of this article can be found on this site by clicking here. Back to context...
While all entries (which were not cancelled) have been counted, the amounts of money offered are of course taken only from ‘fines’ (offers of money). The large amount of money coming from Cumberland is due to a small number of exceptionally large fines. Back to context...