Keeping the peace

Sheriff John d'AbernonThe hostilities may have ceased after the victory at Lewes, but confusion and disarray were everywhere, much of it the result of marauding royalist troops. Montfort’s decree forbidding armed movement made little headway, not with so many scores to settle and opportunities abounding, so on 4 June 1264 he appointed keepers of the peace in the counties to reiterate the official proclamation of peace. Their job was to restore order while the sheriffs went about putting the counties on a normal footing again, including collecting the king’s revenue, which was not even a tenth of what it had been only two years previously. These new keepers were also charged with overseeing elections for parliament to be held before the end of the month. The urgency of the summons to this famous assembly suggests Montfort was eager to sort out the business of government before Louis acted, if at all, on the Mise of Lewes. Turning the Provisions of Oxford into a constitution was the best safeguard against the king of France committing a blunder as grievous as the one he had made at Amiens. How well these keepers succeeded in their task can be judged either by the success of that parliament or the subsequent accusation that some of them were involved in racketeering and the sheriffs were forced to move against them. In any case, their appointment was yet another of the precedents Edward would adopt when he became king.

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