By Björn Weiler (auth.)
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Extra resources for Kingship, Rebellion and Political Culture: England and Germany, c.1215–c.1250
With these preliminaries out of the way, what were the values espoused by those writing about the revolts of 1233–5? 1 The king used three overlapping lines of argument: he had been appointed as king, and should thus have the power of one; he had acted solely with the interests of the empire at heart; and his father had not only been unjust towards him, but had also frequently spurned his advice, and sought to undermine his authority as consecrated ruler of Germany. There seems to have been an awareness that Henry’s past activities might be held against him.
Roger of Wendover’s Flores Historiarum (Flowers of History) and Matthew Paris’ Chronica Majora (Major Chronicle) in particular, which amount to 2,500 and 3,000 pages respectively in their modern printed editions, far exceed anything German chroniclers produced. We thus have available a narrative of unparalleled richness and colour, which, in turn, allows us to ask questions which the sparseness and brevity of the German materials would make impossible to pose. While we will not superimpose the English onto the German evidence (or the other way round), comparing the two will nonetheless allow us to make more informed guesses about the gaps in our evidence.
This undermined the king’s moral, political and military authority. To many contemporary observers de Burgh’s imprisonment and rescue encapsulated the tyranny of des Roches regime and the justice of the Marshal’s case. Siward’s rescue of de Burgh became an iconic moment of resistance, of pinning justice against tyranny, valour against treachery. Moreover, this had not been Hubert’s first escape: he had initially sought refuge in the parish church at Merton, and at Devizes had sought sanctuary once more when he heard that des Roches was to be appointed as his keeper, and that the bishop was planning his murder.