Waleran de Rochford and the Death of King John, 1216

A monk offering King John a poisoned chalice in 1216 (BL Cotton MS Vitellius A XIII)

King John reigned from 1199 until his untimely death in 1216. He was deeply unpopular – some forty years later the chronicler Matthew Paris wrote:

“Foul as it is, Hell itself is made fouler by the presence of John.”

John is also remembered as the king whose barons humiliated him by forcing him to agree to Magna Carta, the great charter of liberties that imposed limits on the power of the sovereign. That was on 15 June 1215. But less than two months later, the wily king secured an annulment of the charter’s terms from Pope Innocent III, and the First Barons’ War broke out.

This was in the time of the first of the Rochfords of Fenne – Waleran de Rochford – who sided with the rebels, like many of his neighbours and close associates.

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The first battle of Lincoln, 2 February 1141

The first battle of Lincoln, 2 February 1141

This illumination depicts the first battle of Lincoln, on 2 February 1141, in the civil war between King Stephen and Empress Matilda. It comes from a copy of Henry of Huntingdon’s Historia Anglorum made around the year 1200.[1] It is included in my chapter on Ralph of Fenne, who was the ancestor the Rochfords of Fenne through his daughter and heiress, Albreda.

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The early Norman-Breton lords of the Boston area

Duke William of Normandy defeated the English King Harold at Hastings in 1066 – an event that would set English history on a new course. Over the following twenty years England was flooded with new lords from the continent, while their native Anglo-Saxon counterparts either assimilated or fled.

In this short post, I look at the Breton connections of the lords in the Boston area.

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