Renaud de Carteret

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From A Biographical Dictionary of Jersey by George Balleine

Renaud de Carteret (1288-1349), Seigneur of St Ouen, was the eldest son of Sir Philippe De Carteret, Seigneur of St Ouen, and nephew of Dean Geoffroi De Carteret. We first hear of him in June 1328, when the King wrote:

"Whereas Renaud De Carteret, son and heir of the late Philippe de Carteret, cannot immediately present himself in person before us in England to do homage for the lands that belonged to his father, because he is responsible for guarding our Castle, we have granted him respite from doing homage for a full year".

Oath of fealty

In the following June the King was at Amiens, and Renaud crossed to France, and took the required oath of fealty. The Extente of 1331 records:

"Renaud de Carteret holds the Manor of St Ouen with all that appertains to it by homage, by suit of court (personal attendance at the King's Court, which in Jersey meant the Assise d'Heritage), by relief (a fee exacted from the heir before be could take possession of his inheritance), which, when it has to be paid, amounts to 10 livres tournois, and by service. This service he must render in time of war personally to our Lord the King at his own expense in Gorey Castle for two periods of 40 days accompanied by two men horsed and harnessed. The King has also the custody of the aforesaid manor, should the heir be under age, and this guardianship in an ordinary year is worth £30 sterling."

In 1337 the Hundred Years War with France began, and Jersey found itself in the forefront of the battle. In March 1338 "on the day after the Annunciation, Sir Nicolas Behuchet, Admiral of France, invaded the island with a great host, and burnt every blade of corn and the houses and other property". In a sortie from the Castle on 10 September Jean de Barentin, the Constable, was slain, and Renaud assumed command, for it had become an established custom that "if the Captain of the Isle died, the Seigneur of St Ouen took custody of the Castle, till the King appointed another Captain".

He at once increased the number of crossbowmen from 56 to 113 and of archers from 22 to 87, and held out so staunchly that the French withdrew. Behuchet conquered Guernsey, and in October the French King appointed Robert Bertran, wealthiest of the Cotentin barons, Lord of the Isles. In March 1339 he renewed the attack on Jersey.

Petition

A petition sent to Edward III says:

"On St Gregory's Day Sir Robert Bertran, Marshal of France, with a force numbering 8,000, so far as we could estimate, in 17 Genoese galleys and about 35 other ships from Normandy, landed, and summoned us to send notables of the island to parley. Thereupon two of their great men and two of ours met between the armies. They bade us surrender to the King of France; otherwise they would storm the Castle, and spare neither great nor small, and devastate the country; but, if we would hand over the Castle, they would confirm in the name of the King of France our possession of all our lands, liberties, and charters. To which we made answer that, while ten men were alive in the Castle, it would not be surrendered. Thereon they retired to their ships, and sent to reconnoitre the castle by sea and land to discover the best place to make the assault; but, God be thanked, they found every point so strong and well guarded that they again withdrew. On the third day they landed once more, and burnt no small number of houses, manors, and mills, and carried off great spoil of cattle and chattels. But certain of our men made a sortie from the Castle, and slew about 40 of them, and returned safe. On the morrow Sir Robert Bertran departed with all his men for Normandy and the 17 galleys set sail for Guernsey".

For the second time de Carteret saw the enemy retire thwarted, though he had not been strong enough to protect the open country. Then news came of a truce between France and England, which gave the island two years welcome peace; but Renaud lost all the property which his family had acquired, probably by marriage, in Normandy. This was so large that his father had employed a Norman advocate permanently to look after it.

In 1340, when Guillaume de St Hilaire, Seigneur of Samares, joined the French, and had his lands in Jersey escheated, the Bailiff of the Cotentin compensated him by a grant of 78 livres of rente from the confiscated lands of Renaud De Carteret.

Warden

In March 1341 Thomas de Hampton was appointed Warden of the Isles, and he made Henry de la More his Lieutenant in Jersey. With these two de Carteret quarrelled violently. In October 1342 war was resumed, and de Carteret and his friends placed some of their property in Mont Orgueil for safety. In December they complained to the King that "Henry de la More is detaining divers sums of money, victuals, garniture, and goods, brought to the Castle". A flood of indignant petitions poured in to the King. A party of Jerseymen even boarded his ship in the Bay of Morbihan to deliver one:

"Many good people have been put to death in the island. Henry de La More has burnt many houses, and goods which the people had put in the King's Castle he caused to be taken before him, and broke open the chests and hutches; and in the country he has robbed many, and imprisoned not a few. And since the truce Sir Thomas has come to the island with a large company of archers, and they have killed and robbed many of your lieges, and driven out of the country about 300 of the best. Since the truce he keeps 300 serjeants, whereas he had only 20".

By March 1343 the trouble had grown so serious that three Commissioners were sent from England "to inform themselves touching the dissensions that have arisen between Thomas of Hampton and the men of Jersey, whereby divers evils have happened in those parts, and greater loss will ensue, as is feared". Before they arrived, de Carteret and his friends had fled. A new truce had enabled them to escape to Normandy. In May they sent a petition from Barneville "in the name of the Jerseymen driven from the island by their enemies", asking for safe conducts to return, that they might lay before the Commission their complaints against Thomas of Hampton and Henry de Ia More. But the King's Council had decided against them. In August an order arrived that the Warden was to retain the cattle and goods, "as the King has learnt that they belong to enemies and rebels".

De Carteret was now branded as a traitor, but the charge was not pressed home, for his Manor was not escheated.

Confusion

About the last six years of his life we know nothing, for Payne's statement in the Armorial, for which he gives no authority, is almost certainly a mistake. He says:

"He joined the English fleet, and mainly contributed by his complement of men in the recovery of the island of Guernsey".

But Payne is confusing him with his son Renaud who five years after his father's death did help to retake Castle Cornet. He may have been allowed to return to the island in July 1345, when Thomas de Hampton was replaced by Thomas de Ferriers. On the other hand he may have had to spend most of those years in exile, for his son Philippe, who had fled with him, was not pardoned till 1351.

[Editor’s note: Balleine was also confused because as he indicates in his biography of the later Renaud, he was actually the grandson of this Renaud, not his son. This Renaud married Genette Le Gueripel and had only one son, Philippe, who died in 1351. Philippe was the father of Renaud and Guillaume, not this Renaud, as Balleine wrote.]

This Renaud died in the second week of Lent 1349. At that time he was not only Seigneur of St Ouen, but also Seigneur of Longueville, and of the Fief of Homet, which had the curious custom that, whenever Seigneur was in residence, the Rector of St Clement was bound to convey the Lady of the Manor to church on a white horse.

Guillaume also died in 1349 "in the first week of March". As this was the year in which the Black death devastated Jersey, they may both have been its victims.

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