The 1259 Pipe Roll
By Richard Cassidy
PhD Dissertation, King’s College London, 2012
Abstract: The 1259 pipe roll contains accounts for most of the counties of England, covering the first full year of government by the reforming council set up by the baronial coup of 1258. The transcript of the roll makes up the bulk of this thesis. An unusually wide range of financial records, also mostly unpublished, survives from the years around 1259. These records are used together with the pipe roll to describe government finances and to show that the machinery of government continued to function successfully in the early years of the reform period.
The thesis begins with a description of the editorial conventions used, and a discussion of the value of such transcripts. The financial information contained in the roll is extracted and analysed, to show the sources of government revenue, and how it was spent in the counties.
The relationship between the central government and the sheriffs who administered the counties was changed radically in 1258, with the new sheriffs appointed by the reforming council as custodians, who were to account for the traditional income from the counties. These sheriffs’ accounts provide information about the customary payments and local courts in the counties which is not usually available. The income produced by the sheriffs and by the manors of the royal demesne over the period from 1241 to 1259 is compared, to show how the sheriffs squeezed additional revenue from the counties in the 1250s, and how the demesne continued to make a significant contribution to royal resources.
The efforts of the reformers to control the financial administration and to reform Exchequer procedures had some success between 1258 and 1261. The financial collapse of the mid-1260s accompanied the struggle for control of the government and the drift towards civil war.
Top Image: Miniature of Henry III enthroned, flanked by Westminster Abbey and church bells. British Library MS Royal 20.A.II, f.9