To their most excellent Lord, Henry, the mayor and the common council of Bordeaux, send him greetings and present themselves to his service in total devotion and humility.
We thought your highness should be informed that the king of France has invaded Gascony. They have offered us a truce, but we have ignored their requests. Wishing to defend ourselves, we united 100 knights and 500 armed foot soldiers, and a great multitude of crossbowmen whom we maintain at our expenses for the fortification of your city of Bordeaux. Because of this force, the king of France dares not ride against us.
We humbly beseech your royal majesty that you dispatch to Gascony knights and foot soldiers, so that our enemies may be vanquished. We also ask that you transport a monetary aid to us, so that we are able to pay for the expenditure which we have made daily for the protection of your lands. If you transport men and money, you would reclaim the land.
May it please indeed your highness to send back to us without delay our messengers with every decision about these things on account of which we have directed them towards your nobility both with the joy of your status and with assurance.
In June 1224, the French king Louis VII gathered an army at Tours and invaded Poitou and Gascony, Henry’s lands in France. The council are making it very clear to Henry III that they need money and soldiers in order to defend his French territories. Could this be one of the pressing reasons for the 1225 reissue of Magna Carta? However some of his English barons are asking whether they should continue to fight these expensive wars in France.
Letter from the Mayor of Bordeaux to Henry III 1224
The National Archives
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What has the Mayor of Bordeaux asked the King for?
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Excellent, that’s the right answer! Henry III sent soldiers and money. Wars were very expensive — some 52,341 marks (roughly £22,000) were spent to defend Gascony against the invaders! That’s the equivalent of about 11 million pounds in today’s money.
Why has Henry III re-issued Magna Carta?
- Is it because he has genuinely learned the lessons from the rule of his father, uncle and grandfather and he is offering a new way of ruling?
- Is it because Henry simply needs money because the French king has invaded Gascony and and is threatening Henry’s power in France?
- The view of this chronicle on why Henry is issuing Magna Carta now is…