JOHN (1167-1216), King of England. Document on vellum, royal charter, 'Cenom' [Le Mans], 9 October 1199, granting to Elias, son of Robert, a carrucate of land at Peneb[er]i [i.e. Pendlebury], to be held of John and his heirs in feud by the free service of ten shillings a year, as appointed in the charter made by John as Count of Mortain, the present charter given under the hands of Simon, Archdeacon of Wells and John de Gray [Bishop of Norwich], and witnessed by Geoffrey, Archbishop of York, Herbert, Bishop of Salisbury, Roger, Bishop of St Andrews, Robert, Earl of Leicester and five others, in Latin, in an elegant cursive documentary script, approx. 125 x 185mm (light soiling), substantial fragment of the great seal of King John in green wax showing the enthroned king, approx. 85 x 60mm, attached by silk cords, framed and glazed. Provenance: Mrs P. Kirwan; Sotheby's sale, 27 October 1959, lot 281.
John had succeeded to the throne on 6 April 1199, and spent much of the remainder of the year at Le Mans, in spite of having sacked the city in late April as a punishment for its support for Philip Augustus, King of France, and Arthur, Duke of Brittany. Simon of Wells, initially a protégé of Hubert Walter, was Bishop of Chichester from 1204 to his death in 1207. John de Gray, his fellow issuer of the document, was one of King John's closest allies, his unsuccessful appointee as Archbishop of Canterbury on Hubert Walter's death, and one of only two bishops not to leave the kingdom at John's excommunication; his reward was an important appointment as justiciar of Ireland. Robert de Breteuil, 4th Earl of Leicester, one of a notably imposing group of witnesses, was 'the last of the great cross-channel Norman magnates' (ODNB), the Steward at John's coronation and the paramount influence in the early years of his reign.