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Norman lands. 1 Loans and aids were exacted in England and Normandy; privileges were scattered broadcast among the Norman towns, and bribes among the king's personal followers. But leadership was lacking. The defences upon which so much care had been lavished were undermined by treachery. In the last week of April or the early days of May, two of the most important men among the Norman barons, Hugh of Gournai and Peter of Meulan, deserted John.3 They surrendered to the French the two fortresses which controlled the valley of the Risle
the river which was a second line of defence to central Normandy. Of these, the more northern castle at Montfort-sur-Risle was immediately re-occupied by the king; it lay beyond the reach of Philip;4 but Beaumont-le-Roger, the other fortress, was lost for ever.5
1. An interesting letter to the provost of Bruges (loco comitis Flandrensis) of March 5th (Rot. Pat., 26b). The date fixed for those who hold fees is infra clausum Pasche. From Rot. de Liberate, 41, it appears that the constable of Boulogne and the advocatus of Béthune had not responded to the call for service.
2. e.g., in February communes for Falaise, Aufai, Domfront (Rot. Pat., 29b, 25b, 26).
3. Important entries in the Jumièges continuation of Robert of Torigni (Histor. de France, xviii, 342). Cf. Wendover, i, 317. The dates are established by the rolls. Hugh of Gournai deserted John between April 21st, when he was with the king at Verneuil (Rot. Norm., 89), and May 4th, when the confiscation of his property begins (ibid, 92). The confiscation of Peter of Meulan's lands begins on May 8th (ibid, 93).
4. Histor. de France, xviii, 342 : a source unnoticed by Miss Norgate (ii, 411). The itinerary shows that John went from Verneuil to Montfort on April 23rd or 24th and was not again in Montfort before July 18th. The business is mysterious, but I assume that he heard of Hugh's treachery at Verneuil. On the other hand, Hugh sent letters patent acknowledging the receipt of money due to him by Robert of Thibouville, which the king apparently received on April 30th (Rot. Norm., 90). This however is not conclusive against an earlier desertion.
5. Philip gave it in October to Guy de la Roche (Actes, p. 178, no. 784). In January and March Peter of Meulan had received money, corn, and ammunition, the former “ad emendam warnisionem ad castrum nostrum de Bello Monte” (Rot. Norm., 72, 82).
By this time the French king had reached the Evrecin from the west and prepared to advance beyond the boundary marked out by the treaty of 1200. Neubourg stood out, and was still in John's possession in the autumn. 1 Conches, however, was taken,” and probably all the smaller forts between the Risle and the Eure. In June Philip advanced along the tongue of land which lies north of Gaillon between the Eure and the Seine, and set up his engines around the great castle of Vaudreuil. We have already seen 3 how this fortress, greatly strengthened by King Richard, was the key to the Seine valley upon the left bank of the river. If it fell only Pont de l'Arche and Roche Orival lay between Philip and Rouen. In the summer of 1203 the garrison, which included some knights of the bishop of Norwich, was under the command of Robert Fitz Walter and Saer de Quinci. The men had been paid in February, and provisions had been brought up the river. John himself moved in the direction of Vaudreuil as far as Roche Orival and Pont de l'Arche, and seemed intent upon energetic measures; urgent messages were sent down stream to hasten the boats laden with food and war-material. 4 Everything pointed to a desperate resistance, when the garrison suddenly surrendered before a stone had been cast.5
The indignation aroused by the loss of Vaudreuil was widespread and intense : the disaster was attributed to the treachery of the castellans, whose conduct became a subject
1. Rot. Pat., 35. Caen, October 10th, 1203 : "militibus et servientibus commorantibus apud Novum Burgum, etc. Sciatis quod ex quo feceritis negocium quod fidelis noster R. de Plesseto vobis ex parte nostra dicet, vos statim de liberacionibus vestris pacari faciemus." For Robert of Pleshey, see below p. 365.
2. Rigord, i, 157. 3. Above p. 158. 4. Rot. Norm., 69, 74, 80–82; Rot. Pat., 30a, b. Fulk de Cantilupe was in charge of the stores. For the knights of the bishop of Norwich, Rot. Pat., 31b.
5. Wendover, i, 317, 318.
of satirical doggerel.1 In Normandy the surrender was regarded as a proof of English indifference to the fate of the duchy: ? the commanders were barons of English interests, and English knights had formed part of the garrison. The king cannot have improved matters by a letter of July 5th in which he declared to all and sundry that the castle had been surrendered at his command. 3 The diplomatic or strategic reasons for the command were as mysterious to contemporaries as they are to us; and, with the exception of Count Robert's desertion, the surrender of Vaudreuil did more to demoralise the cause of John than any event of the year.
It is, indeed, difficult to understand the king's mind during this summer. The curious lethargy of which the chroniclers speak undoubtedly accounts for much of his conduct. It is evident that he was mentally diseased : he refused to be disturbed by the news of continued disaster. His reply to the messenger who told him how Philip led off the castellans of the conquered fortresses bound to their horses' tails was merely, “Let him alone : I will win back all his booty some day.” Those who witnessed his levity could attribute it to nothing but sorcery. 4 Yet, to this cause of John's inaction we should probably add the fact that he was awaiting papal, if not imperial, interference. In February he had despatched the new prior of Dunstable to Pope Innocent,and towards the end of July the messenger returned with a legate, the abbot of S. Giovanni di Casamario. The king of France,
1. Coggeshall, p. 143.
3. Rot. Pat., 31. See my remarks on this incident in Eng. Hist. Rev., xxi (1906), 296.
4. Wendover, i, 317. 5. Annals of Dunstable (Ann. Monast., iii, 28). Letters of credit in Rot. Pat., 26 : Master R. Peccator went with the prior.
6. Ann. Monast., iii, 28. The Pope announced the mission of the legate on May 26. (Patrologia Latina, ccxv, pp. 64–7; Potthast, nos. 1921, 1922).
on his part, had begun to express indignant alarm in June, when he got Renaud of Dammartin, the count of Boulogne, to declare at Evreux that he had advised the king on no account to be forced by the pope to conclude any peace or truce with the king of England. This declaration was followed by others in July and August, in which the greatest persons of France, of either sex, gave the same counsel.2 John seems to have been looking forward to a truce of at least two or three years ;3 but Philip was inexorable. In any case he was opposed to the policy and actions of Innocent, and he was prepared to face an interdict rather than to lose such an opportunity of securing Normandy.
The pope's letters to his legate and to the two kings were very persuasive and reveal a sincere anxiety to see the end of the war.
In the letters in which he announced the mission of the legate, he dwelt upon the horrible effects of the war: the rich made poor, the poor oppressed, churches destroyed, monks forced to wander and beg, women prostituted. 4 Philip deferred a reply until the assembly of clergy and nobles at Mantes which he summoned for the 22nd August. Then his answer was decisive: all matters of feudal law and vassalage such as had arisen between the two kings were beyond the competence of the
1. Actes, p. 174, no. 762.
2. Ibid, pp. 176 177; nos. 770–80. Most of these declarations were issued on the occasion of the great assembly at Mantes on August 22nd (Rigord, i, 158).
3. See a phrase in an interesting letter about Master Ivo the Engineer (Rot. Pat., 31b), dated Rouen, July 29th : "quousque cum rege Francorum habeamus pacem vel treugam duorum vel trium annorum.” A few weeks earlier John had sent the Marshal to negotiate with Philip (Guillaume le Maréchal, iii, 172). This was early in May, during the siege of Conches, since the Marshal returned to Falaise, where John was from May 49.
4. Patrologia Latina, ccxv, 65.
Apostolic See. 1 Supported by the assembly, Philip hastened to resume the campaign. On the last day of August he laid siege to Radepont, the outlying fortress above the deep furrow of the Andelle, which had been strengthened by John as the last protection of Rouen to the south. The old road from Rouen to Paris over the upland country here crossed the first stream in its path, and the capture of Radepont, after a three weeks' siege, brought Philip within easy distance of the Norman city. 2 It did more than this. Before the siege of Radepont was concluded, Philip had begun the investment of ChâteauGaillard, and had captured the Isle of Andeli with its
1. Ibid, p. 177. Innocent refers to Philip's contention in reply : “quod de jure feudi et hominis tuo (sic) stare mandato sedis apostolicae vel judicio non teneris et quod nihil ad nos pertinet de negotio quod vertitur inter reges." This letter, in which the pope sums up the history of the legation, is one of a series written on October 31st, 1203, which--though too late to be of any help to John-are of great interest to the historian. We learn that Philip had made capital out of John's treatment of the clergy at Tours; and, as M. Petit-Dutaillis has shown in his Studies supplementary to Stubbs' Constitutional History (tr. Rhodes, p. 112), the letters offer conclusive proof that Philip had tried John on the appeal of the Poitevins, and had confiscated Normandy. Finally, we have the interesting distinction between public morals and feudal law; above p. 125.
2. For the strategic importance of Radepont, see Stapleton, I, cxxvi. The exchequer and Norman rolls show that large payments had been made for the strengthening and garrison of the castle. After the loss of the Norman Vexin (with the exception of Andeli) Radepont became very important, and was unsuccessfully attacked by Philip after the outbreak of war in 1202 (Roger of Wendover, i, 313). John's sense of the importance of the place is seen in the fortification of Douville, a manor belonging to Stephen Longchamp on the other side of the Andelle. The king paid for the fortification and the garrison (Rot. Norm., 75, 87; cf. Stapleton, II, cxiv). King Philip gave Radepont to P. de Moret by a deed which, though dated c. 1210 in the Cartulaire Normand, p. 29, no. 184, is ascribed to October, 1203, in Delisle's later publication, Actes de Philippe-Auguste, p. 179, no. 790. The charter illustrates