Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 50.djvu/158

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

liam de Saint-John, son and heir of Adam de Port.’ The Ports had been an important Hampshire family, having their chief seat at Basing, near Basingstoke, which continued to be the centre of the Saint-John influence.

Robert de Saint-John died in 1267 (Worcester Annals, p. 457), whereupon John received livery of his lands. John also succeeded his father as governor of Porchester Castle. He held land in six counties—Hampshire, Herefordshire, Berkshire, Warwickshire, Kent, and Sussex (cf. Burrows, Brocas Family of Beaurepaire, p. 364). After Basing, his chief centre of power was Halnaker, near Chichester in Sussex, round which he held four manors (cf. Cal. Patent Rolls, 1281–92, p. 67). In November 1276 he was one of the magnates present at the council at which judgment was given against Llywelyn of Wales. In 1277 and in 1282 he took part in Edward I's two great invasions of Wales, and in 1283 was summoned to the Shrewsbury parliament. On 26 April 1286 he received letters of protection for one year on going abroad with the king, and on 16 May nominated Thomas of Basing, clerk, as his attorney in England (ib. pp. 239, 247). His absence, however, was prolonged beyond that period (ib. p. 277), and during Edward I's three years' residence in Aquitaine, between 1286 and 1289, he seems to have been in constant attendance on him. He was busied, for example, in negotiations resulting from Edward's mediation between the kings of Aragon and Naples, and in October 1288 was one of the hostages handed over to Aragon to secure the conditions upon which the prince of Salerno had been released (Fœdera, i. 690). He thus first gained that exceptional experience in Aquitanian affairs that accounts for his subsequent employment in Edward's south French duchy. He was back in England before 2 Feb. 1289 (cf. Cal. Patent Rolls, 1281–92, p. 346). In May 1290 he attended parliament.

On 29 Oct. 1290 Saint-John again received letters of protection for a year, as going abroad on the king's service, but he did not appoint his attorneys until 8 Jan. 1291 (ib. pp. 392, 413). He was now despatched on a mission to Nicholas IV as regards the crusading tenth and the projected crusade (Fœdera, i. 743). In March he was at Tarascon, dealing with business arising out of Edward I's mediation between Sicily and Aragon (ib. i. 744–5). Again, in November, he was once more quitting England for the continent (Cal. Patent Rolls, 1281–92, p. 449). In November 1292 he was in Scotland attending on the king (Hist. Doc. Scotland, i. 371). Various grants followed these services (cf. Cal. Patent Rolls, 1281–92, pp. 465, 483, 511).

In 1293 the relations between Edward I and Philip the Fair became unfriendly, and Saint-John was again despatched to Gascony to act as the king's lieutenant, with two thousand livres tournois as his stipend. His administration of Aquitaine was just and popular (Walter de Hemingburgh, ii. 49). He specially busied himself with strengthening and provisioning the fortified towns and castles, and in providing adequate garrisons for them (Rishanger, Chron. p. 139). Meanwhile, however, Edmund of Lancaster had been tricked into allowing Philip the Fair the temporary possession of the Gascon strongholds. On 3 Feb. 1294 Saint-John received instructions from Edmund to deliver seisin of Gascony to its overlord (Fœdera, i. 793; Champollion Figeac, Lettres des Rois et des Reines d'Angleterre, i. 406–8). He accordingly admitted the French into the castles, sold off the provisions and stores that he had collected, and returned to England by way of Paris (Trivet, p. 330; Rishanger, p. 141; Flores Hist. iii. 271).

Philip treacherously kept possession of Gascony, and Edward I prepared to recover his inheritance by force. Unable to go to Gascony in person, Edward, on 1 July 1294, appointed his nephew John of Brittany as his lieutenant in Aquitaine with Saint-John as seneschal and chief counsellor (Fœdera, i. 85). The expedition finally left Plymouth on 1 Oct. (Hemingburgh, ii. 46–9; cf. Fœdera, i. 808). On 28 Oct. the Gironde was reached. On 31 Oct. Macau was captured. Bourg and Blaye were next subdued, and the fleet sailed up the Garonne to Bordeaux; but, failing to capture so great a town, it went higher up stream to Rions, which was captured, along with Podensac and Villeneuve. Leaving John of Brittany at Rions, Saint-John went, by river and sea, to Bayonne, and attacked the town. On 1 Jan. 1295 the citizens of Bayonne, with whom he was very popular, drove the French garrison into the castle and opened their gates to him. Saint-John sent the ringleaders of the French party to England and attacked the castle, which surrendered eleven days later (Trivet, pp. 334–5; Rishanger, p. 147; Worcester Ann. p. 520). These great successes caused many Gascons to join the English army.

Charles of Valois, the brother of Philip the Fair, now invaded Aquitaine and won back most of Saint-John's conquests in the Garonne valley. Both Saint-John and John of Brittany strove to defend Rions, but became so