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Hard to fault in both their purpose and execution (...) they fill a significant gap in both the published records of the period. ARCHIVESThe Fine Rolls were the earliest rolls kept by the English royal chancery. Recording offers of money to the king for all manner of concessions and favours, they are central to the study of political, governmental, legal, social and economic history. The reign of Henry III (1216-1272) is a particularly rich period for surviving documents; there are some 56 rolls preserved in the National Archives, one for each regnal year. However, despite the light they shed on politics, government, and society, they have never previously been properly edited or published, and these fully-indexed volumes - covering the period up to 1248 - will therefore be widely welcomed. The Latin rolls are presented in English translation, with all identifiable place-names modernised, although the original forms are preserved; and each volume includes full person, place and subject indexes.
The years covered in this volume were ones of momentous political significance, witnessing strident criticisms of the king's policies in parliament (the name now appearing for the first time), and the drawing up in 1244 of an abortive "Paper Constitution" which foreshadowed the revolutionary reforms of 1258. The rolls throw light on the policies which provoked this opposition, while also revealing much about the personality of the king, one entry recording the joke Henry played on his clerk, Peter the Poitevin, on the voyage home from Gascony in 1243.
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