What were the Remonstrance’s?

King Edward I

What were the Remonstrance’s?

The Remonstrance’s were a set of complaints presented by some of the nobles of England to King Edward I in 1297.  They were authored by two key Earls, Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk and Marshall of England and Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford who was Constable of England.

King Edward I was a fighting king undertaking extensive warfare to defend or grow his interests.  War had to be paid for and this was done through the burden of taxation.  Edward was planning a further campaign to protect his interests in Flanders, however the two Earls believed the war was too risky and unnecessary as England faced a greater threat from both the Welsh and the Scots.  Bigod and Bohun refused to join the campaign and Bigod even argued in Parliament that the campaign was flawed in its legitimacy in that their obligation was to fight alongside the King.  They did not know whether this was going to be possible as the King was intending to go to Flanders whereas the Earls had been ordered to Gascony.  The King proceeded with the campaign and the tax liability to his subjects.  The King cleverly circumvented Parliaments approval deciding to collect tax from just a few of his closest supporters.

Although the grievances were raised by just two men the Remonstrance’s were drawn up as if from the whole nation.  It claimed that the King had “driven his subjects to poverty” through excessive taxation.  It even went as far as to say the taxation was in breach of Magna Carta.  As with many of these cases of discontent the two Earls also had other grievances against the King. Bohun had been poorly treated by the King in a dispute with the Earl of Gloucester a few years earlier and Bigod had long standing issues over taxes he owed the Crown.

The issue was completely diffused in the same way that the Falklands War in the 1980’s brought the country together behind Margaret Thatcher (Prime Minister at that time) in that of another military conflict.  The English defeated the Scots at the Battle of Stirling Bridge and this united England against a common foe.  Bigod and Bohun were told their grievances would be addressed and they both agreed to fight against a demoralised Scotland thus quashing the Scottish threat.