1331 Cashing In

The Church had become adept at extracting large sums of money from wealthy benefactors to ensure that the monasteries, priories, cathedrals and churches would always be well supplied. By the dawn of the 14th century the Church was at the apogee of its wealth and power. However as the King Edwards brought England to a state of almost perpetual war, so the needs of the crown conflicted with those of the Church. When a substantial sum of nearly £700 was left to provide for the nuns of Canonsleigh priory, Edward II simply appropriated it for his own needs. Eventually after at least one previous scheme to recompense the nuns had failed Edward III granted letters patent to put matters right. Even now though he did not offer them cash - he had his own wars to fight. The deal was they would get all the income in excess of £1,000 from custom duties of the port of Southampton every year until the debt was repaid. Interestingly the one thing excepted from the deal was the custom duty on wine, which may simply indicate the importance of the wine trade between the English Dukedom of Aquitaine and the south coast ports. Top clarets have been coming to England for longer than you might think!

Edwardus dei gratia rex angliae dominus Hiberniae et Dux Aquitaniae, omnibus ad quos presentes litterae pervenerit salutem. Sciatus quod cum dominus Edwardus, quondam rex Angliae avus noster pro urgentissimus negociis suis et pro utilitate et defensione tocius regni sui recepisset de abdatissa et monialibus de canounleghe per manus tunc thesaurarii et camerariorum euisdem avi nostri de scaccario suo sexcentas seaginta et duodecim libras quinque solidos decem denarios et unum obulum per visum et testimonium David de Seryngtone clerici eiusdem abbatissae idemque avus noster sextodecimo die Septembris anno regni sui vicessimo secundo per litteras suas patentes sigillo scaccarii sui signatas promisisset praefatis abbatissae et monialibus de predicta pecuniae summa satisfieri facere cum ab ipsis super hoc esset requisitus ac dominus Edwardus nuper rex Angliae, pater noster, vicesimo die Marcii anno regni sui quarto per litteras suas patentes magno sigillo suo signatas concessisset eisdem abbatissae et monialibus quod de custodis quas ad manus suas contingeret devnire liberarentur praefatis abbatissae et monialibus centum libratae terrae seu redditus per annum per rationabilem extentam inde faciendam tenedus et hadbendus quousque inde ad plenum levassent et habuissent sexcentas sexaginta et duodecim libras quinque solidos decem denarios et unum obulum supradictos, prout in letteris dictorum avi et patris nostrorum praedictis per praedictas abbatissam et moniales nobis in cancellariam nostrum restitutis plenius continentur. De qua quidem pecuniae summa praedictae abbatissa et moniales solucionem seu alias satisfactionem hactenus ut asserunt assequi non potuerunt per quod nobis per petitionem suam coram nobis et consilio nostro exhibitam supplicarunt ut eis inde solutionem seu alias satisfactionem fieri iubere velimus sompetentem. Nos volentes prafatis abbatissae et monialibus de pradicta pecuniae summa satisfieri ut est iustum concessimus eisdem abbatissae et monialibus quod ipse singulis annis a primo die Iunii proximo praeterito computandis postquam mille librae tam de antiqua quam nova costumis in portu villae nostrae Suthamptone ad opus nostrum levatae fuerint medietatum tocius residui earundem custumarum custuma vinorum dumtaxat excepta, percipiant et hebeant per manus collectorum nostrorum custumarum earundem qui pro tempore fuerint quousque praedictaeabbatissa et moniales dictos sexcentas seaginta et duodecim libras quinque solidos decem denarios et unum obulum receperint de medietate supradicta. In cuius rei testimonium has litteras nostras fieri fecimus patentes. Teste meipso apud westmonasterium xv die octobris anno regni nostri quinto. Per ipsum regem.

British Library MS harl. 3660 taken from the 1866 paper presented by Charles Spencer Percival On Charters of Canonsleigh Abbey