Exchequer: Treasury of the Receipt: Barons' Letter

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Details of E 26
Reference:E 26
Title:
Exchequer: Treasury of the Receipt: Barons' Letter
Description:

This series consists of two copies of a single document, known as the Barons' letter, and their detached seals from the Exchequer Treasury of Receipt.

The Barons' letter denies the right of papal interference in the affairs of Scotland. English sovereignty is declared in the name of the seven earls and ninety-six other lords named in the letter, and of all the communities of the kingdom.

Date: 1301
Related Material: A response from Edward l to the bull is enrolled in C 54/118
Bull claiming papal superiority over Scotland in SC 7/6/10
Options for action laid out by William of Sardinia C 47/31/15
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: Latin
Physical description: 3 papers
Physical condition: This series contains 95 distinct seals of the earls and lords named in the letter. These are now detached from the documents and have to be consulted separately, but they remain attached to their silk cords.
Publication note: There is a transcript of the Barons' letter in Foedera, ed T Rymer, (2nd ed, London, 1727), ii, p 873. There is also a transcript with an English translation and photographic reproduction of the seals in Lord Howard de Walden, Some Feudal Lords and their Seals, 1301 (1903, reprinted 1984), pp xiii-xvi.
Administrative / biographical background:

The conflict in Scotland had a diplomatic aspect. Scottish appeals to Pope Boniface VIII resulted in the papal bull of 27 June 1299 which claimed feudal superiority over Scotland for the pope and, therefore, asserted Scottish independence from England. The bull, delivered by Archbishop Winchelsey, took a long time to arrive and created difficulties for the English government. The possible options for action were laid out by William of Sardinia in a memorandum and the matter was finally debated at the Lincoln Parliament of January 1301. Two replies to the pope were prepared by royal clerks at this parliament: a letter from Edward I and the Barons' letter. The latter appears not to have been completely sealed at Lincoln and at least one clerk, Alexander Convers, found himself travelling the county getting seals applied.

The Barons' letter denies the right of papal interference in the affairs of Scotland. English sovereignty is declared in the name of the seven earls and ninety-six other lords, named in the letter, and of all the communities of the kingdom. While Edward I's reply to the pope was delivered, there is no evidence that the Barons' letter was actually sent to Rome. The consensus of opinion is that it was not sent, although it has been argued that the king's letter may be seen as a covering letter for the Barons' letter. It was certainly known at the time, being included in several chronicles.

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