(A) Distraint of Knighthood (1278)[1]

The king to the sheriff of Gloucester, greeting. We command and firmly enjoin you without delay to distrain all men of your bailiwick possessing land to the value of £20 a year, who hold of us in chief and who ought to be knights but are not, to receive from us the arms of knighthood before the feast of the Lord's Nativity next or on that same day. You are also to distrain without delay all men of your bailiwick from whomsoever they hold, possessing land to the value of £20 or a whole knight's fee worth £20 a year, who ought to be knights but are not, to receive such arms on the same feast or before. And in this connection [see to it] that you obtain from the same men good and sufficient security, and have the names of all those men inscribed in a certain roll by the view of two lawful knights of the aforesaid county, and sent to us without delay under your seal and the seals of the two knights aforesaid. And we wish you to know that we shall make diligent investigation with regard to your conduct in the execution of this mandate, and according to it shall have an appropriate remedy to apply. By my own witness, at Westminster, June 26, in the sixth year of our reign.

(Latin) Ibid., I, 214.

(B) Commissions of Array

The king to all his bailiffs and faithful men of the counties of Nottingham and Derby to whom, etc., greeting. Whereas we have sent our beloved and faithful William Wyther into the aforesaid counties there to select, both within and without liberties, three hundred foot-soldiers from those more capable and fit to bear arms, and to lead those men to us as we shall instruct him: [therefore] we command that, when the same William comes to the aforesaid counties to select the said men as stated above, you are to be serviceable, helpful, attentive, and obedient to him, according to what on our part the same William shall tell you. And as you cherish our interest and honour, and as we trust in your fealty, by no means fail to do this.... By witness of the king, at Rhuddlan, December 6 [1282].[2]

The king to the sheriffs of Hampshire, Dorset, and Wiltshire, and to all his faithful men of the same counties, both within and without liberties, greeting. Know that we have assigned our beloved and faithful ... , together with those whom they shall associate with themselves, to select in the aforesaid counties three thousand men, both archers and crossbowmen, capable for attack and defence and well supplied with arms suited to them; and to have them come to Winchelsea, so that they shall be there on the third or fourth day after the feast of All Saints next, thus equipped and ready to set forth on our fleet.... And so we command you.... By witness of the king, at Canterbury, October 3 [1295].

(Latin) Ibid., I, 245, 270.

(C) Memorandum of Service from the Cinque Ports (1293)

It is to be remembered that, on the octave of St. Hilary in the twenty-first year of King Edward, son of King Henry, when Stephen of Penchester, then constable of Dover [Castle] and warden of the Cinque Ports,[3] in connection with the account for his aforesaid bailiwick was present in the exchequer before Master William de la Marche, the treasurer, and the barons of the same exchequer, and after the said Stephen had been interrogated at length concerning the aforesaid Cinque Ports — namely, as to which were the ports and which their members, and as to what services the said ports owed the king, and how and in what way [they were owed] — the same Stephen informed the aforesaid treasurer and barons to this effect: —

Sussex. Hastings is a chief port, the members of which are these: Winchelsea, Rye, the lathe[4] of Pevensey, and Bulverhythe in the county of Sussex; Bekesbourne and Grange in the county of Kent. Which port, with its aforesaid members, ought on the king's summons to find twenty-one ships; and in each ship there ought to be twenty-one men, strong, fit, well armed, and prepared for the king's service; but so that, on the king's behalf, summons should thereof be made forty days before. And when the aforesaid ships and the men in them have come to the place whither they have been summoned, they shall there remain in the king's service for fifteen days at their own cost. And if the king needs their service beyond the fifteen days aforesaid, or wishes them to remain there longer, those ships with the men in them shall remain in the king's service so long as he pleases and at his cost: that is to say, a master shall receive 6d. per day, a constable 6d. per day, and each of the others 3d. per day.

Kent. Romney is a chief port, and Old Romney and Lydd are members of the same. Which port, with its members, shall find five ships for the king in the manner aforesaid. The port of Hythe owes the king five ships in the manner aforesaid. Dover is a chief port, the members of which are these: Faversham, Folkestone, and Margate. This port, with its aforesaid members, owes twenty-one ships in the manner aforesaid. Sandwich is a chief port, the members of which are Fordwich, Stonor, and Sarre. Which port, with its members, owes the king five ships in the manner aforesaid.

Total service of the Cinque Ports, fifty-seven ships.

(Latin) Red Book of the Exchequer, II, 714 f.

(D) General Levy for Service in France (1297)

The king to the sheriff of York, greeting. Whereas by way of careful precaution against the peril and damage that might be incurred by us and our whole kingdom from the plots of our enemies, we recently commanded you to inform all men of your bailiwick possessing land and rent to the value of £20 a year, both within and without liberties, and likewise men having more — those not holding of us in chief as well as those so holding — that they should at once provide themselves with horses and arms and should hold themselves fit and ready to join us and to go with our own person for the safeguarding and defence of themselves and of our whole kingdom aforesaid, as soon as we should issue summons for them; and whereas, on account of the safeguarding aforesaid, we have now decided to set our crossing to the lands beyond the sea: [therefore] we command and firmly enjoin you, in the fealty by which you are bound to us, that on our part you immediately summon all and several of your bailiwick, both within and without liberties, who possess land and rent to the value of £20 a year or more, as aforesaid, from whomsoever they hold, urging and firmly enjoining them, on the first Sunday after the octave of St. John the Baptist next, to come to us at London with horses and arms — that is to say, each of them as befits his condition — prepared to cross the sea with our person to the lands aforesaid, for the honour of God and of themselves, and for the safeguarding and common benefit of the said kingdom. And so you are to devote yourself to the execution of this our mandate with all speed, lest — which God forbid! — our crossing be delayed through your default and we be obliged to chastise you severely. By witness of the king at Loders, May 15.

Similar letters to each of the sheriffs of England.

(Latin) Palgrave, Parliamentary Writs, I, 281.

[1] Precedents for such action can be found in the rolls of Henry III, but under Edward I the practice was systematized and extended; cf. no. 50D.

[2] Many similar commissions were issued in this and the following years for foot-soldiers, ditch-diggers, and carpenters, all of whom were normally paid by the king. Cf. no. 41D.

[3] Cf. no. 48D.

[4] An administrative district peculiar to this region.