Fitz Thedmar, Arnold
FITZ THEDMAR, ARNOLD (d. 1274), London chronicler and merchant, was born in London on the 9th of August 1201. Both his parents were of German extraction. The family of his mother migrated to England from Cologne in the reign of Henry II.; his father, Thedmar by name, was a citizen of Bremen who had been attracted to London by the privileges which the Plantagenets conferred upon the Teutonic Hanse. Arnold succeeded in time to his father's wealth and position. He held an honourable position among the Hanse traders, and became their "alderman." He was also, as he tells us himself, alderman of a London ward and an active partisan in municipal politics. In the Barons' War he took the royal side against the populace and the mayor Thomas Fitz Thomas. The popular party planned, in 1265, to try him for his life before the folk-moot, but he was saved by the news of the battle of Evesham which arrived on the very day appointed for the trial. Even after the king's triumph Arnold suffered from the malice of his enemies, who contrived that he should be unfairly assessed for the tallages imposed upon the city. He appealed for help to Henry III., and again to Edward I., with the result that his liability was diminished. In 1270 he was one of the four citizens to whose keeping the muniments of the city were entrusted. To this circumstance we probably owe the compilation of his chronicle. Chronica Maiorum et Vicecomitum, which begins at the year 1188 and is continued to 1274. From 1239 onwards this work is a mine of curious information. Though municipal in its outlook, it is valuable for the general history of the kingdom, owing to the important part which London played in the agitation against the misrule of Henry III. We have the king's word for the fact that Arnold was a consistent royalist; but this is apparent from the whole tenor of the chronicle. Arnold was by no means blind to the faults of Henry's government, but preferred an autocracy to the mob-rule which Simon de Montfort countenanced in London. Arnold died in 1274; the last fact recorded of him is that, in this year, he joined in a successful appeal to the king against the illegal grants which had been made by the mayor, Walter Hervey.
The Chronica Maiorum et Vicecomitum, with the other contents of Arnold's common-place book, were edited for the Camden Society by T. Stapleton (1846), under the title Liber de Antiquis Legibus. Our knowledge of Arnold's life comes from the Chronica and his own biographical notes. Extracts, with valuable notes, are edited in G.H. Pertz's Mon. Germaniae historica, Scriptores, vol. xxviii. See also J.M. Lappenberg's Urkundliche Geschichte des Hansischen Stahlhofes zu London (Hamburg, 1851).
(H. W. C. D)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)