Henry III Fine Roles give insight into 13th century society

During the reign of King Henry III (1216–1272), fines were paid to the king in installments, in exchange for a specified concession. Now these roles are available to view online thanks to the Henry III Fine Roles Project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

From the project website:

A fine in the reign of King Henry III (1216–1272) was an agreement to pay the king a sum of money for a specified concession. The rolls on which the fines were recorded provide the earliest systematic evidence of what people and institutions across society wanted from the king and he was prepared to give. They open a large window onto the politics, government, economy and society of England in the hinge period between the establishment of Magna Carta at the start of Henry’s reign and the parliamentary state which was emerging at its end. This Project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, makes the rolls freely available to a wide audience while at the same time, in the Fine of the Month feature, providing regular comment on their historical interest.

Until the advent of the Project, the value of the fine rolls to the historian was gravely impaired by the lack of any proper edition. Whereas the fine rolls of John’s reign, together with all the other chancery rolls down to 1272, had been published, the fine rolls of Henry III were available only in two volumes of Latin excerpts which appeared in the 1830s: Excerpta e Rotulis Finium 1216-1272, ed. C. Roberts (London, Record Commission, 1835-6). These contain only 10% of the total material, selected exclusively for its genealogical interest, and have totally inadequate indexes.

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and commenced in 2005, the aim of the Project is to transform this situation, bringing the fine rolls from the darkness in which they were accessible only to a few scholars to the light in which they are intelligible and freely available to everyone. The Project is achieving this in the following ways: