from the Cinque Ports.74 Nine years later
his cause was greatly strengthened for a time by the insult offered to
the queen by Lady Badlesmere, who refused to receive her at Leeds
Castle, on 13 October 1321, declaring that she could not venture to
entertain anyone without her lord’s orders. The castle was manned by a
competent garrison, and when the queen endeavoured to force an entrance
six of her followers were slain. She called upon the king to avenge her,
and popular sympathy was roused to a degree which produced an
unexpectedly favourable response from the towns of the south-east to his
summons for levies of horse and foot. The castle was besieged by an
overwhelming force, and on 31 October was forced to surrender, many of
the magnates who had assembled to assist the king subsequently marching
with him to the west, where he occupied without resistance the
strongholds of his enemies.75 Lord Badlesmere was taken
prisoner at the battle of Boroughbridge, and conveyed to Canterbury to
be hanged, his head being fixed on a pole at the Burgate in 1322.76
Kentishmen took an active share in the French wars of the reign of
Edward III. Not only did they supply large contingents of archers77
and a great proportion of the men who served in the navy,78
Sandwich was the usual port of embarkation. That their burden was found
a heavy one is shown by a petition of the men of Kent of 1347,79
they pray that ‘on account of their guarding the sea, and the great
prisage of victuals in their county, they may be discharged of all
unreasonable fines for not finding men at arms, hoblers, and archers.’
In 1361 the king ordered the castle of Sheppey to be rebuilt. The work
was done under the direction of William of Wykeham and was completed six
years later, when the king paid a visit there of some days and made the
town a free borough in honour of Philippa his queen, its name being
altered to Queenborough.80 It was commanded in 1369 that
divers parts of the isle of Thanet should be inclosed and fortified with
mounds and ditches to prevent the landing of ships and boats, at the
charge of those whose lands should be benefited by these defences, and
similar directions were sent to all other maritime parts of the county
In 1376 orders were issued to place beacons on the hills; 82
and in the
following year similar orders were issued for erection of beacons at the
Isle of Sheppey, Hoo, Cleve and Gravesend,83 for the defence
of the county and the safety of the navy in the ports there.
If the county had a heavy share in the responsibilities of home defence,
it was also generously represented in Parliament, though at this time
representation was apt to be regarded as much in the light of a burden
as a privilege. The cost of living was terribly enhanced by the plague,
the Black Death of 1349-50 being only the worst of many outbreaks at
this time, as well as by causes connected with the war. Accordingly, the
universal discontent produced by the Statute of Labourers (1351) was
likely to be particularly strong in this county, which was roused to
great bitterness by the preaching of John Ball, ‘the mad
74 Ibid. 209.
75 Ibid i, 298, 9.
76 Leland, Coll. 1,274 (1770).
77 Hist. MSS. Corn. Rep. iv., App. 426.
78 Rot. Parl. ii,
79 Ibid. ii, 194a.
80 Leland, op. cit., i, pt. ii, 579
81 Rymer, Faed. vi, 623, 747, cited by Hasted, op. cit. iv, 295.
82 Rymer, Faed. (Syllabus), 473.
83 Rot. Pan. iii, 386b.