Each year, the English Exchequer’s audit of the sheriffs’ accounts was recorded on long rolls of parchment, known as Pipe Rolls owing to their shape when rolled for storage. The Pipe Rolls supply details of payments made to and by the Crown, and of debts still owed. This is part of the Pipe Roll entry for the county of Cornwall, compiled at Michaelmas 1214, some nine months before King John met his barons at Runnymede. The relevant membrane is sub-divided by headings such as ‘De Placitis Foreste’ (Forest Payments) and ‘De Scutagio Pictavie’ (The Scutage for Poitou). Scutage was a payment made to the Crown in lieu of the provision of knights for military service, and was the focus of much baronial discontent. Clause 12 of Magna Carta stated that no scutage could be levied in England without the consent of the kingdom, except in certain circumstances, such as the ransoming of the king.
- Article by:
- Dan Jones
- Medieval origins
When Magna Carta was created, England had endured 16 years of John’s kingship – a rule based largely on extortion, legal chicanery, blackmail and violence. Here Dan Jones discusses King John's infamous reign.