25 November, 2014

25 November: Feast Day of Saint Katherine

Today is my name-day, the feast of Saint Katherine/Catherine/Kathryn of Alexandria, martyred by being broken on a wheel in c. 305.  In 1325, Edward II ordered his almoner John Denton to give five pounds' worth of food to the poor to mark the saint's day.  He also gave ten shillings to a woman called Anneis for 'what she did at the gate of the Tower of London' on this day to honour St Katherine, though what Anneis did is not specified.  The following year, 1326, the feast of St Katherine must have been a terrible day for Edward II: he was in captivity and his beloved Hugh Despenser the Younger had been grotesquely executed the day before.

Katherine was the name of one of Edward II's numerous short-lived older sisters, born in c. 1261/63 and died in 1264, and the name of his aunt, Henry III and Eleanor of Provence's youngest child, who was born on the feast day of Saint Katherine in 1253 and died at the age of three and a half (Edward I and Eleanor of Castile presumably named their daughter after this sister of Edward).  Katherine doesn't seem to have been a terribly common name in England during Edward II's reign.  Hugh Despenser the Younger had a chamberlain named Clement Holditch, whose wife was called Katherine; on 31 October 1325, Katherine Holditch went to ask for Edward II's help regarding 'some great business she had to do'.  Hugh the Younger and Eleanor de Clare's youngest daughter Elizabeth and her husband Maurice, Lord Berkeley named their first daughter Katherine, probably in honour of Maurice's stepmother Katherine Cliveden.  There was a 'hospital of St Katherine by the Tower of London', founded in c. 1148 by King Stephen's wife Queen Matilda, and in June 1318, Edward appointed his clerk Richard de Lusteshull custodian of it for life.  More info here.

The Anneis mentioned above celebrating the feast day of St Katherine in 1325 was married to Roger de May, one of Edward II's chamber valets or grooms.  Most unusually - all great households of the Middle Ages consisted almost exclusively of men - Edward hired Anneis herself as one of his (more than thirty) chamber valets on 5 December 1325 at wages of three pence a day, the same as her husband and the other valets received.  Joan Traghs, wife of the chamber valet Robin Traghs, was herself also hired as a valet on 8 March 1326, and received her wages of three pence a day for forty-four days while she was away from court, ill.  Both Anneis de May and Joan Traghs, and their husbands, were among the chamber staff who remained loyal to Edward II until the very end, and were named in the last entries of his chamber account of 31 October 1326, when it ceased to be kept.

19 November, 2014

Alice de Lacy, Countess of Lincoln, and IPMs

I was recently looking at the Inquisition Post Mortem of Henry de Lacy, earl of Lincoln, who died on 5 February 1311 at the age of sixty.  At the time of his death, Henry was acting as regent of England during Edward II's long and unsuccessful 1310/11 campaign against Robert Bruce in Scotland, and Edward sent his nephew Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester, back to England to act as his regent instead - a heavy responsibility for a man who was not yet twenty.  Henry de Lacy had been a close ally of Edward I, and tried his best to show the same loyalty to Edward II, but Edward's antics re: Piers Gaveston early on in his reign aggravated Henry beyond endurance, and he was a leading member of the opposition to the king and the earl of Cornwall.  He did later come back to the king's side, however.

Henry was the son of Edmund de Lacy, earl of Lincoln, who died in 1258 when Henry was still a child, and Alesia de Saluzzo, daughter of Manfred del Vasto, marquis of Saluzzo.  Alesia's sister Agnese married the English baron John, Lord Vescy (who married secondly Isabella Beaumont), and their niece Alesia married Richard Fitzalan, earl of Arundel and was the mother of Edmund, earl of Arundel: a spate of England-Saluzzo marriages in the thirteenth century, and one which ensured that two of the English earls of Edward II's reign, Henry de Lacy and Edmund Fitzalan, were half-Italian.

In 1311, Henry left as his heir his sole surviving legitimate child, Alice, his son Edmund having died in a childhood accident (another son, John, appears to have been illegitimate and Alice's half-brother, and later became one of her clerks, as Elizabeth Ashworth has discovered).  Henry was also survived by his much younger second wife Joan Martin, with whom he had no children.  Joan's date of birth is unknown but her brother William was probably born in 1294, and her second husband Nicholas Audley was born on 11 November 1292.  Henry de Lacy, by way of comparison, was born at the beginning of the 1250s so must have been forty years Joan's senior.  Alice de Lacy and her stepmother Joan Martin were ordered to be brought to Edward II on 22 March 1322, the day of Alice's husband Thomas of Lancaster's execution; Joan, who was probably no more than thirty at the time, is almost inevitably described with great pathos in modern books as Alice's 'elderly mother' by writers who haven't done their research properly.

Alice's mother was in fact Margaret Longespee, who died sometime after 22 August 1306 and before 16 June 1310, when her widower Henry de Lacy was already married to Joan Martin.  Born in about 1254, Margaret was countess of Salisbury in her own right: she was the great-granddaughter and heir of William Longespee (Longsword), earl of Salisbury, an illegitimate son of Henry II.  Her father and grandfather were also named William Longespee, earl of Salisbury.  Her grandfather William, grandson of Henry II, was killed at the battle of Mansourah in Egypt in 1250 during Louis IX's disastrous crusade, and her father William died at the end of 1256 or beginning of 1257, when she was only two years old.  Margaret Longespee's mother Maud Clifford, Alice de Lacy's maternal grandmother, was a granddaughter of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, prince of Gwynedd, via Llywelyn's daughter Marared.  After the death of her first husband William Longespee the third (d. 1256/57), Maud Clifford was abducted and forcibly married to John, Lord Giffard of Brimpsfield, Gloucestershire.  Maud's younger daughter from this forced marriage, Catherine Giffard, was the mother of Nicholas Audley, who married Henry de Lacy's widow Joan Martin, as above.  This means that the child of Margaret Longespee's half-sister married the widow of Margaret's widower.  Ummmm.

Moving rapidly on, Alice de Lacy married Thomas of Lancaster, Edward I's nephew, in or shortly before the autumn of 1294, when she was twelve going on thirteen and he probably sixteen: Henry de Lacy's Inquisition Post Mortem says that in February/March 1311 Thomas was aged '32 and more' and 33, which would put his date of birth in 1277/78 - this fits well with the date of his parents' (Edmund of Lancaster and Blanche of Artois) wedding in early 1276.  Marriage to Alice was an extremely advantageous match for Thomas, who would one day add Alice's earldoms of Lincoln and Salisbury to the three, Lancaster, Leicester and Derby, he would inherit from his father Edmund.  Edward I had in 1292 (Foedera 1272-1307, p. 738) arranged a marriage for Thomas with Beatrice, daughter of Hugh, viscount of Avallon, son of Duke Hugh IV of Burgundy (d. 1272), but this marriage did not go ahead, I think because Beatrice died.

Edward II sent out a writ to his two escheators on 6 February 1311 at Berwick-on-Tweed, the day after Henry de Lacy's death - obviously the news reached him very swiftly - ordering them to take Henry's lands into his own hands*, and as usual inquisitions were taken in all the counties where Henry had held lands, to determine the extent of the lands and how he had held them (i.e. of the king in chief or from someone else), and the identity of his heir and her approximate age.  Between 20 February and 11 March 1311, inquisitions were held in Lincolnshire, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire, Middlesex, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, Berkshire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Dorset, Herefordshire, Lancashire, Cheshire and Denbigh.  The jurors in all these counties correctly named Alice as Henry's heir, some also identified her as the wife of Thomas of Lancaster, and most had a stab at guessing her age.  The guesses varied between 24 and 32, and hit just about every age in between.  Not terribly helpful.  However, the jurors of Denbigh, the de Lacys' great North Wales lordship, had better information.  Alice almost certainly was born in the castle there, and the Denbigh jurors were the only ones not to guess her age but to give it precisely.  On 21 February 1311, they declared that Alice was 'aged 29 on Christmas Day last', i.e. 1310, and thus was probably born on 25 December 1281 (or perhaps shortly before).

[* Calendar of Fine Rolls 1307-1319, p. 81; Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1307-1327, pp. 153-164.]

Inquisitions Post Mortem are a fantastic resource, but in a world still half a millennium away from inventing birth certificates, the information they provide about people's ages should often be taken with a pinch of salt, as the information can vary considerably.  For example, Margaret Audley, only child and heir of Edward II's niece Margaret de Clare and Hugh Audley, earl of Gloucester, must have been born sometime between early 1318 and late 1322.  In her mother's IPM taken from April to August 1342, Margaret was variously said to be 18 and 20 and thus born in 1322 or 1324 (impossible as her father had been imprisoned since March 1322), and in her father's, taken in November/December 1347, she was said to be either 24, 26 or 30, so born in 1323, 1321 or 1317 (her parents married on 28 April 1317).  I also saw one recently, can't recall quite who it was now, where a tenant in-chief's son and heir was said to be either nine or fifteen.  Theobald de Verdon, who abducted Edward II's widowed niece Elizabeth de Clare in 1316, was said in his father's IPM of 1309 to be anywhere between 22 and 30, but the Shropshire jurors give his date of birth precisely: aged 31 at the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Mary last, so he was born on 8 September 1278 (or soon before).  Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke, was said in his mother Joan's IPM of September/October 1307 to be anywhere between 24 and 37, which would put his year of birth between 1270 and 1283.  Ummmm, helpful.

14 November, 2014

The Children of Edmund of Woodstock and Margaret Wake, and Joan of Kent's Date of Birth

Edmund of Woodstock was born on 5 August 1301 as the youngest son of Edward I, then aged sixty-two; his mother was Edward's second queen Marguerite of France, Philip IV's half-sister.  Edmund was created earl of Kent by his half-brother Edward II, who was seventeen years his senior, on 28 July 1321, just before his twentieth birthday.  (Calendar of Fine Rolls 1319-27, p. 68)

Margaret Wake was the daughter of John, Lord Wake; first cousin of Roger Mortimer, first earl of March, via their mothers the Fiennes sisters; and great-great-granddaughter of both Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, prince of Gwynedd, and of John de Brienne, emperor of Constantinople.  She was married firstly to John Comyn, only son of John 'the Red Comyn', lord of Badenoch, stabbed to death by his great rival Robert Bruce in February 1306.  The younger John was killed at Bannockburn in June 1314 fighting for Edward II, and their little boy Aymer Comyn, named after John's maternal uncle Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke, died in infancy.  Margaret was born sometime in the mid to late 1290s and was thus some years older than her second husband Edmund.  She died on 29 September 1349; her brother Thomas, Lord Wake, whose heir she was - as his marriage to Henry of Lancaster and Maud Chaworth's eldest daughter Blanche was childless - had died on 31 May that year.  (Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1347-52, pp. 201-10, 233-5)

Margaret Wake and Edmund of Woodstock married around the middle of December 1325; the date of their wedding is not recorded but the Annales Paulini (ed. Stubbs, p. 310) say that it took place at about the same time as the death of Edmund's uncle Charles, count of Valois, which occurred on 16 December 1325.

The couple had four children.  Their youngest, John, earl of Kent, who was presumably named after his maternal grandfather John Wake, was born in Arundel Castle, Sussex on 7 April 1330; the exact date was given on record when John proved that he had come of age, i.e. twenty-one, in April 1351 (Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1347-52, pp. 455-6).  John was Edmund of Woodstock's posthumous child, as Edmund had been beheaded for treason in Winchester on 19 March 1330: see my articles about his plot to free his half-brother Edward of Caernarfon in the sidebar here, in my article in the English Historical Review and in my book Edward II: The Unconventional King.  John, earl of Kent, died on 27 December 1352, aged twenty-two; 'he died on the night of St John [the Evangelist]'s day in Christmas week last' and 'he died on the night after St Stephen last', says his Inquisition Post Mortem. John left a widow, Elisabeth of Jülich, who was the niece of Queen Philippa, being the daughter of Philippa's younger sister Joan of Hainault and William V, duke of Jülich in the Rhineland. The couple had no children.

John's heir to the earldom of Kent, and also to the lands of their childless maternal uncle Thomas, Lord Wake, was his sister Joan 'the Fair Maid of Kent', by far the most famous of Edmund of Woodstock and Margaret Wake's children and the only one who outlived John.  Joan, of course, married Edward III's eldest son Edward of Woodstock and was the mother of Richard II, and caused a great scandal in her early life by being married to two men at once, William Montacute, earl of Salisbury and Sir Thomas Holland.

The date of birth of Joan of Kent, princess of Wales and countess of Kent, is almost invariably, in pretty well every book and article I've ever seen on the subject, given as 29 September 1328.  I've been looking today at her brother John's Inquisition Post Mortem, taken between December 1352 and February 1353 (Cal Inq Post Mortem 1352-60, pp. 41-57).  Jurors in the numerous counties where John had held lands gave Joan's age in December 1352 as between 22 and 26, which would place her date of birth somewhere between 1326 and 1330.  This is entirely typical of IPMs, where the stated ages of the heirs of tenants-in-chief can vary by as much as ten years.  We're talking about jurors who may never even have seen Joan, giving their best guess as to how old she was - probably they had some vague idea when Edmund of Woodstock and Margaret Wake had married, and a rather better idea of when Edmund had been executed, and took a stab at an age somewhere between those dates.  Two counties, however, give Joan an exact date of birth.  The jurors of Nottinghamshire stated on 14 February 1353 that she was '25 years and more at St Michael last', that is, she turned 25 on 29 September 1352, which would make her date of birth 29 September 1327 (eight days after the alleged death of her uncle Edward II), and the jurors of Leicestershire said on 19 January 1353 that Joan was '26 years and more at St Michael last', which would make her date of birth 29 September 1326, five days after the invasion force of Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer landed in Suffolk.  Given the date of Joan's parents' wedding, it is impossible that she was 'more' than 26 years old in 1352.  Her mother Margaret Wake, incidentally, died on Joan's birthday in 1349.

Edmund of Woodstock and Margaret Wake had two other children.  Their elder son Edmund was named as Earl Edmund's heir both by the parliament of November 1330 which pardoned the earl for the 'treason' he had committed in trying to free a supposedly dead man a few months previously, and in various entries in the chancery rolls in 1331.  Edmund died as a child sometime shortly before 13 October 1331 (Cal Fine Rolls 1327-37, pp. 277, 279), and his younger brother John (b. April 1330) became heir to the earldom of Kent.  It makes me so sad to think of these little children dying.  :-(

There was also another daughter, Margaret, of whom little is known except that she was betrothed to the Gascon lord Arnaud-Amanieu d'Albret in 1340.  He was much her junior, born in August 1338, and later became great chamberlain of France.  He eventually married Marguerite de Bourbon, one of the many, many grandchildren of Charles of Valois and thus a first cousin of Queen Philippa and a first cousin once removed of Margaret of Kent herself.  We know that Margaret of Kent must have died sometime before her brother John died in December 1352, or she would have been his co-heiress with their sister Joan.  We know that she can't have had any children alive in 1352, as otherwise they would have been John's co-heirs with their aunt, Joan.  The fate of this obscure aunt of Richard II, however, is unknown.  (And oddly enough, little Aymer Comyn mentioned above, who died in infancy in 1316 as far as I remember, was Richard II's uncle, older half-brother of Richard's mother Joan.  Richard wasn't even born until 1367.)

Edmund of Woodstock and Margaret Wake thus had four children together in their marriage of four years and three months.  Except that John was the youngest, the birth order of the children is uncertain.  The earliest that any of them could have been born is September 1326, nine months after Edmund and Margaret's wedding of c. mid-December 1325, and their second youngest cannot have been born any later than May or June 1329, as John was born in early April 1330 and must have been conceived in about July 1329, and Margaret would have been 'off-limits' to her husband for thirty or forty days after birthing her second last child.  Joan of Kent, from the evidence of John's IPM, was born either on 29 September 1326 or 29 September 1327.  If the former, she must have been Edmund of Woodstock and Margaret Wake's eldest child and conceived very soon after their wedding.  It is possible that some of the children were twins - their aunt, Edward II's sister Elizabeth, countess of Hereford, had twins William and Edward, so they may have run in the family - though I'm just speculating.  Joan and Margaret?  Joan and Edmund?  Margaret and Edmund?  Margaret and John?

The April 1351 proof of age of John, earl of Kent, offers another piece of evidence.  John was baptised on the day of his birth, 7 April 1330, in the church of St Bartholomew in Arundel.  James de Byne, one of the dozen jurors who gave testimony in 1351 as to John's date of birth, stated that "Edmund son of the said Edmund [of Woodstock, earl of Kent], and Brother John de Grenstede, prior of the order of Friars Preacher of Arundel, and Joan, sister of the said Edmund son of Edmund, lifted the said John from the sacred font on 7 April, 4 Edward III...".  So both Joan of Kent and her brother Edmund were considered old enough and big enough and responsible enough to lift their newborn brother out of the font, albeit with an adult helping.  Their sister, Margaret, however, was not.  Does this indicate that Margaret was the younger sister and not considered old enough for this task?  Neither Joan nor Edmund could have been older than three and a half at the time, but it doesn't seem very likely that Joan was only eighteen months old, as she would have been if she'd been born in September 1328 as everyone who writes about her always, always, always states.  (Where does that date come from?  Did someone perhaps once see John's IPM and mess up the maths and think that age 25 or 26 subtracted from 1352 equalled a date of birth in 1328, and everyone else has just copied it ever since without checking?  Or is there some other evidence somewhere I'm missing?)

One last point.  Joan of Kent secretly married her first husband Sir Thomas Holland in 1340, and later also married her fiancé William Montacute, son and heir of the earl of Salisbury and later earl of Salisbury himself, too afraid to admit what she had done.  Joan is usually stated to have been only twelve when she married Holland, who was many years her senior, born in around 1314 and thus about twenty-six in 1340.  According to the information of her brother Earl John's IPM, however, Joan must actually have been thirteen or fourteen at the time of her secret wedding, which is at least slightly less alarming by our modern standards.  It also means that when she gave birth to her youngest child Richard II on 6 January 1367, Joan was likely forty years old.  I do think the evidence indicates that she was rather older than is always assumed and stated nowadays.

07 November, 2014

Alice Fitzalan née de Warenne, Countess of Arundel

Alice was the sister of John de Warenne, earl of Surrey and Sussex (d. 1347) and the wife of Edmund Fitzalan, earl of Arundel, executed (or judicially murdered) by his cousin Roger Mortimer in 1326.  Here's what I know about her, and sadly, it isn't terribly much.

Alice and her brother John were the children of William de Warenne and Joan de Vere.  William, born in 1256, was the only son and heir of John de Warenne, earl of Surrey (1231-1304) and was killed jousting in December 1286.  Joan de Vere (d. 1293) was the daughter of Robert de Vere, earl of Oxford (d. 1296), whose mother Hawise de Quincy was the daughter of Saer de Quincy, earl of Winchester.  Alice de Warenne's paternal aunt Isabella married John Balliol, king of Scotland from 1292 to 1296, and was the mother of Balliol's heir Edward, Alice's first cousin.  Her first cousins also included Henry, Lord Percy (d. 1314), one of the men who besieged Piers Gaveston in Scarborough Castle in May 1312, and John de Vere, earl of Oxford (d. 1359).  She was a great-great-granddaughter of William Marshal, earl of Pembroke (d. 1219) via William's eldest daughter Maud and her second husband William de Warenne, earl of Surrey.

Alice's brother John was born on 30 June 1286, and their father William died on 15 December 1286.  Alice was born exactly six months later, on 15 June 1287.  She lost her mother Joan de Vere when she was six, though her grandfather the earl of Oxford lived until 1296 and her other grandfather the earl of Surrey until 1304, when he was succeeded as earl by Alice's brother John.  In early 1302, Richard Fitzalan, the earl of Arundel, died, leaving as his heir his eldest son Edmund, not yet seventeen.  Edward I granted Edmund's marriage to Alice's grandfather the earl of Surrey, and sometime before late September 1304 (when he died) Surrey offered Edmund to Alice in marriage.  Edmund rejected her.  (Patent Rolls 1301-07, p. 308). Oh dear, poor Alice.  Edmund, however, changed his mind, and he and Alice married in May 1306, according to the chronicler Piers Langtoft, around the same time as Alice's brother the new earl of Surrey married Edward I's granddaughter Joan of Bar, and Hugh Despenser the Younger married Joan's cousin Eleanor de Clare.  Edmund had just turned twenty-one at the time (born 1 May 1285) and Alice was almost nineteen.  They were third cousins once removed via common descent from William Marshal.  The couple had seven (or more) children together; I hope this indicates that their relationship worked out well in the end, after such an inauspicious start.  At least Edmund didn't make strenuous efforts to have his marriage annulled, as Alice's brother John did.

Edmund and Alice's eldest son Richard, Edmund's successor as earl of Arundel and also heir to his uncle John de Warenne of Surrey, was probably born in 1313 or the beginning of 1314; he was said to be seven when he married Hugh Despenser the Younger's daughter Isabel in Edward II's presence in February 1321.  Richard was known as Copped Hat, and was one of the richest, or indeed the richest, men in England in the entire fourteenth century.  He had his marriage to Isabel Despenser annulled in 1344 and married secondly Eleanor of Lancaster, and treated his and Isabel's son Edmund appallingly, even going so far as to describe him as 'that certain Edmund who calls himself my son'.  Although this incredibly wealthy man left bequests in his 1375 will to his children with Eleanor of Lancaster, their grandchildren and some of his nieces and nephews, he didn't leave so much as a penny to Edmund or Edmund's three daughters.  I have to admit that I really dislike Earl Richard.  Edmund (the elder, died 1326) and Alice de Warenne appear to have had two younger sons as well, Edmund and Michael, about whom I know absolutely nothing.

Alice de Warenne and Edmund Fitzalan also had several daughters. In 1325, their daughter Alice married Edward II's nephew John de Bohun (born 1305), future earl of Hereford, the eldest son of Edward's sister Elizabeth and Earl Humphrey, killed at the battle of Boroughbridge in March 1322. Alice Fitzalan and John de Bohun were third cousins via common descent from Isabel of Angouleme, queen of King John, and Pope John XXII granted them a dispensation in November 1324 (Papal Letters 1305-41, p. 242).  Edward II pardoned the earl of Arundel 1000 marks of the 2000 marks the earl owed him for the marriage in December 1325 (Patent Rolls 1324-7, p. 281; Memoranda Rolls Michaelmas 1326-Michaelmas 1327, p. 32).  Alice de Bohun née Fitzalan, countess of Hereford, died childless at an uncertain date, probably in the late 1320s, before 1330 or thereabouts when John married his second wife Margaret Basset (this marriage was also childless).

Other daughters of Edmund and Alice were Eleanor, Aline and Mary.  It's tricky to try to work out their birth order or when they were born, though the two younger daughters at least seem to have been born late in their father's life, given the ages of their husbands and children.  Eleanor was presumably the eldest or second eldest daughter after Alice, as she married as her second husband Gerard, Lord Lisle, who was born in the early 1300s, and had her son Warin in about 1330.  Warin, the grandson of Edmund Fitzalan and Alice de Warenne, had one child Margaret, born around 1360, who married Thomas Lord Berkeley (1353-1417, grandson of Hugh Despenser the Younger and great-grandson of Roger Mortimer, first earl of March).  Eleanor Fitzalan Lisle died in or before 1347.  The next daughter of Edmund and Alice was probably Aline, who married Roger Lestrange of Knockyn, who was born in 1327.  Aline and Roger's son John was born in 1362, and they also had a daughter Lucy, who married William Lord Willoughby de Eresby, who was born in about 1370.  Edmund and Alice's fourth daughter Mary married John Lestrange of Blackmere, who was born in 1332, so must have been some years Mary's junior (even if Mary was Edmund's posthumous child she can't have been born later than the summer of 1327).  Mary died in 1396 and had two children: a son John born in about 1353 and a daughter Ankaret, born in 1361, who was the mother of John Talbot, first earl of Shrewsbury and of Richard Talbot, archbishop of Dublin.

Edmund Fitzalan, earl of Arundel, died a horrible, slow, painful and bloody death in Hereford on 17 November 1326, beheaded with at least seventeen and perhaps twenty-two strokes of an axe by a 'worthless wretch'.  He was given no trial and was accused of no crime, and presumably a blunt blade had been ordered to increase his suffering as much as possible.  At some point in late 1326, Countess Alice's brother John de Warenne, earl of Surrey, who had been a staunch ally of Edward II for most of his reign, made his peace with Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer, perhaps on hearing news of the hideous death of his brother-in-law Edmund.  When and how this happened is unknown, but for Alice - however she might have felt about it - at least it meant that she had someone on the 'winning' side looking out for her.  This was important as Edmund was later condemned for treason by parliament and all his lands and goods were forfeit to the Crown.  Queen Isabella helped herself to the possessions Edmund had stored at Chichester Cathedral, including £524 in cash (Patent Rolls 1324-7, p. 339).  In March and April 1327, arrangements were made to provide Alice with an income for the sustenance of herself and her children (Patent Rolls 1327-30, pp. 42, 312; Close Rolls 1327-30, pp. 68, 80, 148 etc).  This may have included her young daughter-in-law Isabel Despenser; Isabel's father Hugh the Younger and grandfather the earl of Winchester were dead, and her mother Eleanor de Clare and eldest brother Hugh were in prison and in no position to help her.

Alice, countess of Arundel, died sometime before 23 May 1338, leaving at least five or six children (she had outlived her daughter Alice) and several grandchildren.  Her grandson Richard, earl of Arundel (b. c. 1346) would be executed by Richard II in 1397, and another, Thomas, became archbishop of Canterbury.  She was also the great-grandmother of an archbishop of Dublin.  The modern-day Fitzalan-Howard family, dukes of Norfolk and earls of Arundel and Surrey, are Alice and Edmund's descendants.

29 October, 2014

The Unconventional King Blog Tour

I'm going on a blog tour this week to promote Edward II: The Unconventional King!  I'll update this list with links when each guest post appears.

28 October: A general introduction to Edward II, his reign and his ancestry at Christy K. Robinson's Rooting for Ancestors blog.

29 October: A post about Edward II and his children at Medievalists.net.

30 October: Edward and the Despensers at Susan Higginbotham's blog.

31 October: An interview with Gareth Russell on his blog.  (And thanks to Gareth for the great book review!)

1 November: Edward II and Piers Gaveston at Anerje's Piers blog.

2 November: Edward II and his household at Annette's Impressions in Ink.

3 November: Edward II and his rustic pursuits at Becky's The Medieval World.

4 November: An interview and book giveaway with Olga at Nerdalicious.

5 November: Edward's twelfth-century ancestry at Kasia's Henry the Young King blog.

Happy reading!  :-)


26 October, 2014

Bizarrely Tangled Families

For your amusement, here are some examples of weirdly inter-related noble families in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

The de Clare siblings' half-nephew marries their half-sister

Gilbert 'the Red' de Clare, earl of Gloucester (1243-1295), and his second wife Joan of Acre (1272-1307) had four children, Gilbert, Eleanor, Margaret and Elizabeth, born between 1291 and 1295 and the nephew and nieces of Edward II.  Gilbert the Red also had two daughters with his first wife Alice de Lusignan, Isabella (born 1262) and Joan (born c. 1264).  Joan de Clare was the mother of Duncan MacDuff, earl of Fife, who was born in late 1289: he was the half-nephew of Gilbert, Eleanor, Margaret and Elizabeth de Clare, albeit some years their senior.

Sometime after 1307, Duncan MacDuff married Mary de Monthermer, who was born in 1297, and their only child Isabella was born in about 1320.  And who was Mary?  Daughter of Joan of Acre and her second husband Ralph de Monthermer, and thus the younger half-sister of Gilbert, Eleanor, Margaret and Elizabeth de Clare.  And so, the half-nephew of the de Clare siblings married their half-sister; the grandson of their father's first marriage married the daughter of their mother's second marriage.

The earl of Derby's daughter becomes the stepmother of her own stepmother

William Ferrers, earl of Derby (1193-1254), married Sybil Marshal, one of the five daughters of the great William Marshal, earl of Pembroke (d. 1219) and Isabella de Clare.  William and Sybil had seven daughters.  After Sybil's death, William married his second wife Margaret de Quincy, daughter of Roger de Quincy, earl of Winchester.  With her, he had his heir Robert, earl of Derby, born in about 1239, a younger son and three more daughters.

Eleanor Ferrers, sixth or seventh of the seven daughters of William and his first wife Sybil Marshal, married Roger de Quincy, earl of Winchester - the same Roger whose daughter Margaret married Eleanor's father William Ferrers.  Eleanor thus became the stepmother of her stepmother.  For William Ferrers' five younger children, this meant that their half-sister married their grandfather.  It's probably just as well that Eleanor Ferrers and Roger de Quincy had no children, or the universe would have exploded.

Roger Mortimer's grandmother marries her step-grandmother's son (thanks to Ann Marie Thomas on Twitter for this one)

The paternal grandmother of Roger Mortimer, first earl of March (1287-1330) was Maud de Braose (c. 1224/28-1301).  Maud's mother Eva was a daughter of William Marshal, so that Maud was a first cousin of the seven Ferrers sisters, above; her father William was hanged by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, prince of Gwynedd, in 1230 after being found in the bedroom of Llywelyn's wife Joan (King John's illegitimate daughter).  William de Braose was the son of Reginald de Braose (d. 1228) and his first wife Grecia Briwere.  Reginald, the grandfather of Maud de Braose, married secondly Gwladus Ddu (d. 1251), daughter of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth who hanged Reginald's son William.

After Reginald de Braose's death, Gwladus Ddu married secondly Ralph Mortimer, and was the mother of Roger Mortimer (d. 1282) who married Maud de Braose and was the grandfather of Roger Mortimer, first earl of March.  Gwladus Ddu was thus both Maud's mother-in-law and step-grandmother.  It is uncertain whether Gwladus was the daughter of King John's illegitimate daughter Joan or of Llywelyn's mistress Tangwystl, but if the former, it means William de Braose had an affair with the mother of his stepmother, and if the latter, that he had an affair with the stepmother of his stepmother.  For Maud, it meant that Llywelyn, the man who had hanged her father, was her grandfather-in-law.

Isabella of France's grandmother is her husband Edward II's aunt by marriage

Blanche of Artois (c. 1248-1302) was the niece of Louis IX of France, and married firstly Enrique I, king of Navarre, with whom she had a daughter Jeanne or Joan, queen of Navarre in her own right, who married Philip IV of France.  Joan of Navarre and Philip IV were the parents of Isabella of France, Blanche's granddaughter.  Blanche married secondly Edmund of Lancaster, Edward I's younger brother, and was thus the aunt by marriage of Isabella's husband Edward II.

24 October, 2014

The Earl of Norfolk Tries to Steal his Stepson's Lands

A post about an incident which I first discovered in Marc Morris's excellent and scholarly book The Bigod Earls of Norfolk in the Thirteenth Century (Boydell and Brewer, 2005), pp. 124-5.

Roger Bigod, who was born in about 1245 and died in 1306, was the last in the line of Bigod earls of Norfolk dating back to about a century before his birth.  He succeeded his childless uncle, also Roger, as earl in 1270, and around the same time, married a woman called Aline Basset.  She was the only child and heiress of Sir Philip Basset, a landowner in the the Midlands and south of England, and had previously been married to Hugh Despenser, justiciar of England.  Hugh was a staunch supporter of Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, against Henry III and his son the future Edward I, and was killed with Simon at the battle of Evesham in 1265.  Aline's son Hugh Despenser would become earl of Winchester in 1322 and is the man known to history as Hugh Despenser the Elder, father of Edward II's notorious favourite Hugh Despenser the Younger.  (I tend to refer to Justiciar Hugh as Hugh Despenser the Even Elder.)  Hugh 'the Elder' was only four years old when his father was killed at Evesham.  It's interesting to note that his mother continued to use her first husband's name and was always known as 'Aline la Despensere' throughout her second marriage, even though Roger Bigod was of higher rank than Hugh.

Although Aline Basset Despenser had a son and at least one daughter with her first husband, she and Roger had no children.  Aline died shortly before 11 April 1281, when her seventeen manors were taken into the king's hand (Fine Rolls 1272-1307, p. 146).  Her heir was her only son Hugh, then aged twenty (born 1 March 1261).  Roger Bigod had enjoyed the income from his wife's lands during their marriage, and the loss of them was a big blow, especially as he had large debts.  Dishonestly, he decided to try to make use of a custom called 'the courtesy of England', whereby the widower of a woman who had held lands in her own right could make use of them for the rest of his life, as long as the couple had had at least one child together.  In short, this meant that Aline's lands would not pass to her son Hugh but would remain under Roger's control as long as he lived, and he ended up outliving Aline by a quarter of a century.  Under the 'courtesy of England', the child didn't have to be living, just had to have been born.  Roger therefore claimed that Aline had borne him a child at Woking, who died shortly afterwards.

Knowing this to be untrue, Hugh Despenser took his stepfather to court.  A jury was appointed to decide if the child had been male or female, where it had been born, whether it had been baptised, if it had given voice before death, and so on.  Faced with the prospect of having to lie through his teeth and invent numerous details, and without a shred of evidence to show that a child had ever existed, Roger was soon forced to drop his claim.  Edward I granted the marriage of Hugh Despenser 'the Elder' to William Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, on 28 May 1281, and on the same day Hugh was allowed to take control of his inheritance despite still being a few months under age (Patent Rolls 1272-81, p. 439; Close Rolls 1279-88, p. 88; Fine Rolls 1272-1307, p. 149).  Probably in 1286, Hugh married the earl of Warwick's daughter Isabel, widow of Patrick Chaworth, and they had six children: Aline, Hugh the Younger, Isabel, Philip, Margaret and Elizabeth.

Roger Bigod, presumably, was infertile; he had no children with either Aline Basset or his second wife Alicia, sister of Count William III of Hainault and Holland and aunt of Edward III's queen Philippa.  He died in 1306, having made arrangements with Edward I about his earldom, which passed to the king's son Thomas of Brotherton: Edward II bestowed the earldom of Norfolk on his half-brother in December 1312 when Thomas was twelve, shortly after the birth of the future Edward III had displaced him as heir to the throne.  The earldom, later dukedom, of Norfolk passed to Thomas's daughter Margaret and thence to her descendants the Mowbrays (her elder daughter and co-heiress Elizabeth Segrave married John, Lord Mowbray).

19 October, 2014

Proofs of Age, Or, I Know How Old You Are Because I Saw Queen Isabella Lift You From The Font

I love fourteenth-century proofs of age (see here and here for my previous posts on them).  They're so revealing of people's lives and how they remembered things.  Here are some more, from Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1327-1336.  Each proof of age required the testimony of twelve jurors, all male, though I've only included the more interesting entries.  The first three are of particular interest to me, given the people involved: two of the de Verdon sisters and John, Lord Mowbray.

1) Stafford, 1 March 1327: Proof of age of Margery de Verdon, who was: third of the four daughters and co-heiresses of the justiciar of Ireland Theobald de Verdon (1278-1316); stepdaughter of Edward II's niece Elizabeth de Burgh née de Clare; and niece of Roger Mortimer, first earl of March (Margery's mother was Roger's sister Maud).  Edward II's 'favourite' Sir Roger Damory, who married Margery's stepmother Elizabeth de Burgh in 1317, bought the rights to Margery and her half-sister Isabella's (Elizabeth de Burgh's daughter and thus Damory's stepdaughter) marriages in March 1318 for £200, and sold them to Thomas, earl of Lancaster's adherent Sir Robert Holland that November (Patent Rolls 1317-21, pp. 125, 237).  By 1327 when her proof of age was taken, Margery was married to William le Blount, a Lancastrian knight and one of Henry, earl of Lancaster's attorneys.  Her elder sisters were Joan, born 1303, who married firstly John Montacute and secondly Thomas Furnival, and Elizabeth, born c. 1306, who married Bartholomew Burghersh, maternal nephew of Bartholomew Badlesmere who suffered the traitor's death on the orders of Edward II in 1322.

John de Hodinet, aged 54 years, says that the said Margery was 16 years of age at the feast of St Laurence past, for she was born at Alveton [Alton, Staffordshire] on that day, 4 Edward II [10 August 1310] and baptised in the church there on the same day; and this he knows because he was there with the said Theobald [de Verdon, Margery's father] and announced the birth to him.

Henry de Athelaxton, aged 44 years, says the like, and knows it because he was at Croxdene by Alveton and heard how John de Hodinet announced the birth.

Richard de Farlegh, aged 50 years, says the like, and knows it because he buried William his first-born son on the same feast of St Laurence.

Richard de Dolverne, aged 47 years, says the like, and knows it because he hunted with the said Theobald at Wotton by Alveton and shot a buck on the same feast of St Laurence.

Peter de Daddesleye, aged 57 years, says the like, and knows it because he was with the said Theobald in Ireland at the feast of the Decollation of St John the Baptist [29 August] next following the said feast of St Laurence.

2) Wiltshire, 20 February 1332 [it states 5 Edward III which would be February 1331, but this seems to be an error]: Proof of age of Margery de Verdon's half-sister Isabella, posthumous daughter of Theobald and his second wife Elizabeth de Burgh.  In 1332 Isabella was already married to Henry, Lord Ferrers of Groby, and despite her youth had borne a child in about February 1331, who unsurprisingly died young.  Unlike her three older Verdon half-sisters, Isabella was the great-niece of Edward II, who sent a gift of a silver cup on hearing of her birth.  She was also the goddaughter of Queen Isabella and named after her.  When the inquisition was taken, Isabella de Verdon was a ward of the (then dowager) queen, and the writ to the escheator ordered him to inform the queen so that her bailiff could be present.

John de Duyn, knight, aged 60 years, says that the said Isabel was 14 years of age at the feast of St Benet last past, for she was born at Aunbresbury [Amesbury, Wiltshire] on that day, 10 Edward II [21 March 1317], and baptised in the church there; at that time he was staying in his manor of Tudeworth, four leagues from Aunbresbury, and saw Queen Isabella come from the manor of Clarendon to lift the said Isabel from the font, and he was present.

Henry Borry, aged 50 years and more, says the like, and he saw Roger [Martival], then bishop of Salisbury, come from his manor of Wodeford to baptise the same Isabel, and he came in the company of the said bishop, whose servant he was.

John de Harnham, aged 46 years, says the like, and knows it because at the time of her birth he was sub-sheriff of Wilts and was assigned to conduct Queen Isabella from Clarendon to Aunbresbury, as aforesaid.

Richard de Wycombe, aged 47 years, says the like, and knows it because when Elizabeth de Burgh, mother of the said Isabel, lay in childbed, King Edward the king's father [i.e. Edward II] came from his manor of Clarendon to the said Elizabeth [words missing] between the same Elizabeth and Roger Damory.*

* This is Edward II putting pressure on his niece, in the middle of giving birth to her late husband's child, to marry his current favourite.  He'd written to try to persuade her to marry Roger Damory even before Theobald de Verdon's funeral, and in the letter called her his favourite niece in a transparent attempt to get her to do he wanted, which was a bare-faced lie.  Nice work, Edward!  Lie to your niece and harass her in writing and in person when she was most vulnerable.  Spectacular.  Elizabeth gave in, and married Roger a few weeks later; she really had no other choice.  She had retired to Amesbury Priory during her pregnancy, presumably to try to find a bit of peace and to spend time with her aunt Mary, Edward II's sister, who was a nun there and with whom Elizabeth seems to have had a close and affectionate relationship.

3) York, 31 July 1329: Proof of age of John, son of John, Lord Mowbray, executed by Edward II in York on 23 March 1322 after he took part in the Contrariant rebellion.  I like the younger John (who married Henry of Lancaster's daughter Joan in 1327).  On 30 April 1326, an entry on the Close Roll declares that John, who was only fifteen at the time, had besieged and captured Tickhill Castle in Staffordshire "and perpetrated other felonies and misdeeds" in the company of the brother of Roger, Lord Clifford, also executed as a Contrariant in 1322.  This was probably because the constable of Tickhill was William Aune, a friend and ally of Edward II, and John Mowbray and Robert Clifford were trying to make trouble for the king in any way they could.

William de Sproxton, aged 50 years, says that the said John was born at Hovyngham [Hovingham, North Yorkshire] on the eve of St Andrew, 4 Edward II [29 November 1310], and baptised in the church of All Saints there [here!], and was 18 years of age on the eve of St Andrew last past, which he knows because on the same day as the said John was born, he dined in the hall with the servants of the house of Hovyngham.

Ralph de Kirketon, aged 53 years, says the like, and knows it because he was at Hovyngham with Sir John de Moubray, deceased, father of the said John; which John the father had an illness at Hovyngham when the said John was born, on account of which Alina [de Braose] his mother was delivered of the said John five days ahead of her time.

John Dounyour, aged 38 years, says the like, and knows it because at the same time as the said John was born he was in the schools of Hovyngham.

Thomas de Colton, aged 40 years, says the like, and knows it because in the same week as the said John was born he had a brother named William drowned by accident.

William Stibbyng, aged 43 years, says the like, and knows it because in the same month as the said John was born, as he rode towards Maltone next Hovyngham, his horse fell and he broke his left shin bone.

Robert Scot, aged 54 years, says the like, and knows it because immediately after the said John's birth he hastened to [Thomas] the earl of Lancaster, deceased, and brought him the news of the said John's birth, for which the said earl gave him 20 shillings.

4) Dorset, 18 April 1327: Proof of age of Roger son of John de Husey, kinsman and heir of John de Berewyk, deceased.

The said Roger was 21 years of age on the feast of the Translation of St Thomas [Becket] the Martyr, for he was born at Mortone on the said feast, 33 Edward I [7 July 1305], and on the same day was baptised in the church of St Martin there by Robert, rector of the church, his godfather, who still survives and bears witness to his age.

John Peverel, aged fifty years, knows it because he married Isabel his wife about the feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist [24 June] in the same year that the said Roger was born, and they were at the feast made for the purification of Maud mother of the said Roger rising from childbed of the same.

Henry Touere, aged 70 years, knows it because John his son was born on the feast of St Peter ad Vincula [1 August] in the same year, and will be 22 years of age on the same day this year.

John le Moygne, aged 60 years, knows it because John le Moygne his father died on the same feast of the Translation of St Thomas.

William Whyteclyve, aged 70 years, knows it because he was steward of the house of the said John Husey at the time the said Roger was born, and by the date of the rolls of expenses made on the day of the purification of Maud mother of the said Roger, and by other evidences he well remembers the date.

5) Devon, 8 September 1328: Proof of age of William, son and heir of Nicholas de Cheigny.

Philip de Cranlysworthy, aged 48 years and more, says that the said William was 22 years of age on the feast of the Assumption last [15 August], and this he knows because the said William was born at Upotery [Upottery], and baptised in the church there on the morrow by Robert, vicar of the said church, 1 Edward II [1307].  Asked how he remembers, he says that he was at that time beyond the sea at Montpellier, and on the morrow of the said Assumption he returned home to Upotery.

Robert de Greneweie, aged 60 years, agrees, and recollects it because he had a son named John, who was ordained chaplain at Exeter on Sunday next before the said feast, 1 Edward II.

Robert de Okebeare, aged 60 years, William de Batteshorne, aged 50 years and more, John Fisshacre, aged 60 years, William Beffyn, aged 60 years, Roger Caperoun, aged 50 years, and John Mone, aged 60 years, say the like, and recollect it because at Michaelmas [29 September] next after the feast of the Assumption, 1 Edward II, there came by night divers robbers to the priory of Otritoune [Otterton], and there spoiled and slew the prior, whose anniversary is written in the missal of the church of Upotery.

6) Essex, 12 April 1328: Proof of age of Margaret de Bovill or Bovile, daughter and heir of John de Bovill.

John de Lysyton, knight, aged 60 years, says that the said Margaret was 16 years of age on Monday the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Mary last, for she was born on the said feast, 5 Edward II [8 September 1311] at Lyes [?], and was baptised in the church there.  Asked how he knows this, he says that he was steward at that time of the household of the said John de Bovile, who then held the aforesaid manor of Lyes, and by the dates of the rolls of the aforesaid household he can verify the same.

Thomas Baynard, knight, aged 60 years, agrees, adding that he was then of the household of Sir Hugh de Nevile, who at that time was making a pilgrimage to St Thomas [Cantilupe] of Hereford, and was in his suite.

John de Polhey, aged 50 years, agrees, adding that, on the Monday when the said Margaret was born, he was in the hall of Lyes, and when Petronilla, mother of the said Margaret, was delivered, her midwives came into the hall, and announced the birth to him and others.

Ralph Doreward, aged 60 years, agrees, adding that on Monday next after the birth of the said Margaret, in the year aforesaid, he married Decima, his wife, and so the birth of the said Margaret often recurs to his memory.

Henry de Naylinghurst, aged 50 years, says that the said Margaret was 16 years of age on Monday, the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Mary last, for she was born at Lyes, in the large chamber in the upper part of the hall; and this he knows because he was staying for a long time in the realm of France, and at Michaelmas before the birth of the said Margaret, he returned into England, and came to Leys on the Saturday before her birth.

7) York, 15 June 1328: Proof of age of William son and heir of William de Stoppeham.

Richard le Saucer, aged 40 years, says that the said William was born in York, in Conyngestrete, on the eve of the Invention of the Holy Cross, 35 Edward I [2 May 1307], and was baptised in the church of St Martin in Conyngestrete in the said city [here!]; and this he knows because the same King Edward died on the feast of St Thomas of Canterbury [7 July] next after the birth of the said William.

Roger le Mareschal, aged 60 years, says the like, and knows it because he was then in the retinue of Walter de Langeton, bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, and had a certain palfrey in his charge in the same week in which the said William was born.

John le Lumynour, aged 64 years, says the like, and knows it because within fifteen days of the birth of the said William he went on pilgrimage to Canterbury.

John son of Denis, aged 40 years, says the like, and knows it because, in the year in which the said William was born, the said John was apprenticed to shear cloth in the city of York.

*

I'm sure I'll post more of these sometime soon as they're so fab!

17 October, 2014

Signed Copies

So, Edward II: The Unconventional King is out now!  In the UK and Germany at least, people who pre-ordered it have received their copies, and in the US it's due out any day now and is already available on Kindle.  I really hope you all enjoy it.

Rather a lot of people have asked me about the possibility of me signing their copies.  I'm only too happy to!  Logistically it's going to be slightly tricky though, as of course you'll have to send me your book and I'll have to send it back, and it's going to cost rather a bit in postage!  Anyway, if you're interested in this, please do get in touch with me at edwardofcaernarfon@yahoo.com, or if you're on Facebook, send me a PM, either on my own page or on the Edward II page.  Looking forward to hearing from you!


12 October, 2014

Piers Gaveston's Illegitimate Daughter Amie

I've recently been re-reading some of the bizarre theories and wild speculations posted a few years ago on soc.genealogy.medieval about Piers Gaveston's illegitimate daughter Amie, and was inspired to write a post.  Not much is known about Amie; she cannot have been the daughter of Piers' wife and Edward II's niece Margaret de Clare as she was not, like her half-sister Joan Gaveston (born January 1312) an heiress to Margaret's third of the vast de Clare inheritance, and there is no record of Piers having been previously married before he wed Margaret in November 1307, so Amie must have been his illegitimate child.  The identity of her mother is unknown.  She was a damsel in the household of Edward III's queen Philippa of Hainault in the 1330s and married John Driby, with whom she had a daughter Alice Driby, who had (and has) descendants.  In one document of 1334, Amie is named as 'daughter (filie) of Petrus de Gaveston'.  The dates of her birth and death are unknown; Piers died in June 1312 so she cannot have been born later than nine months after that and may of course have been born much earlier, and the last known reference to her is in June 1340.  This is not necessarily when she died, though, and she may well have lived well beyond that.  Her daughter Alice Driby outlived three husbands, all of them knights, and died in 1412; Alice's eldest known child Elizabeth, was born in 1372, and she also had a son born in 1380/81 and several more children after that.

Some of the members of soc.genealogy.medieval came out with the weirdest stuff about Amie, that she was actually an illegitimate child of Piers' wife Margaret de Clare, which is massively, wildly, hilariously improbable; that she was the daughter of his father, claimed (wrongly) also to have been called Piers, and thus our Piers' half-sister.  It was even stated that a document calling Amie Piers' daughter doesn't prove a blood relation between them (??), by the same people who cheerfully indulged in flights of fantasy about Amie actually being Margaret de Clare's illegitimate daughter, though not a shred of evidence connects the two.  Fortunately there were also a few sensible members who made some eminently reasonable and knowledgeable posts about her.  See here.  And also see here for a reference to Amie on the Patent Roll of 1332, granted one of the late Roger Mortimer's manors in gratitude for her service to Queen Philippa.  When Amie joined Philippa's household, and how she came to be there, is unknown.  She is not named among the queen's five damsels in a list of the members of the king and queen's households of 24 June 1328, a few months after Philippa married Edward III (Calendar of Memoranda Rolls Michaelmas 1326-Michaelmas 1327, p. 373; the damsels were, in the original spelling, Johanna de Carru, Emmota Priour, Idonia de Clynton, Margareta de Peckebruge and Elena de Seckeville).

It's quite baffling to me that anyone would feel the need to go to such lengths to 'prove' that Amie Gaveston was not in fact Piers' daughter when a perfectly good fourteenth-century document says clearly that she was, and claim instead that she was the daughter of his wife, of his father, or of some other man called Piers Gaveston, though there is absolutely no record of anyone such.  It reminds me of the way some people are desperate to reassign Edward III's paternity to Roger Mortimer by inventing silly stories of Roger sneaking into England from Ireland in February 1312 and Isabella sneaking off to meet him on her way to York to be with her husband.  Or that Simon de Montfort was Edward I's real father.  Nonsense on stilts.  If people want to write fictional stories, great, but let's not pretend it has anything to do with history.  It would be like someone 700 years in the future seeing my birth certificate which identifies me as the daughter of Philip Warner, and solemnly declaring that there is no reason why this should mean that I was in fact Philip's daughter and the document doesn't prove that there was a family connection between us, and creating elaborate fantasies which they say are equally plausible about my true parentage, including that I was the illegitimate child of my stepmother.  Madness.

A fourteenth-century chronicle called the Polistoire wrongly says that Piers Gaveston's father was also called Piers, when we know from other sources that he was in fact called Arnaud.  It was therefore postulated on soc.genealogy.medieval that 'Amie daughter of Petrus Gaveston' was Piers' half-sister, daughter of his father of the same name.  The petition below of c. 1305 presented to Edward I by Piers and his older brother Arnaud-Guilhem de Marsan, now in the National Archives, leaves us in no doubt, however, that Piers' father (who actually died in 1302) was named Arnaud.  It begins "To our lord the king and his counsel plead Arnaud Guilhem de Marsan and Perrot de Gavastun, sons [fuiz] of Sir Arnaud de Gavaston, late knight of Gascony...".



Presumably Edward II knew of Amie's existence, though there is no documentary evidence to prove that he did.  Given the obscurity of most illegitimate children at this time period, even the king's own son Adam (died 1322) and the two sons of his wealthy and powerful cousin the earl of Lancaster, it is not in the least bit surprising that we find Amie in no record until 1332, when she was an adult.  There is no reason at all to think, as some members of soc.genealogy.medieval seem to do, that Amie's existence was deliberately hushed up or that there was some great conspiracy of silence around her or that her non-appearance on record means anything at all.  Presumably, as a document of 1334 names her as Piers Gaveston's daughter, Piers must have openly acknowledged her as such.

Contrary to what a lot of people believe, the word 'damsel' in the fourteenth century did not necessarily mean that a woman was young; it meant a woman who was not married or whose husband was not a knight.  One of Isabella of France's damsels in 1311/12 was Alice de Leygrave, who had once been Edward II's wet-nurse (in 1312 on the Close Roll she is called "the king's mother, who suckled him in his youth") and therefore was old enough to have been given responsibility for feeding the future king of England in 1284 and evidently was already a mother then herself - so clearly was some decades older than Isabella, who was born in about 1295, and by no stretch of the imagination a young woman in 1312.  Alice's daughter Cecily was also one of Isabella's damsels at this time.  Amie Gaveston being a damsel of Queen Philippa in 1332 therefore does not tell us anything about her age, it only tells us that she wasn't married to a knight.

At some point in or around 1334, Amie married John Driby.  One theory that Amie can't have been Piers' daughter goes: she was 'too old' for marriage if she was Piers' daughter and born in or before 1312, because we know that women married in their early teens or even before.  Amie's daughter Alice Driby was still giving birth in the early to mid-1380s, which implies that she can't have been born earlier than about 1340 and probably later.  Let's say that Alice was born around 1345; this would mean that Amie, child of a man who died in 1312, was in her thirties when she gave birth to her, and that Alice continued to bear children until she was forty or more.  Not impossible, of course; Eleanor of Castile and Philippa of Hainault are two famous contemporary examples of women who bore children when they were over forty.  Alice, incidentally, is the only child of Amie we know about, though Amie may of course have had others, who either died young or who didn't make it to the written record.  Let's say for example that Amie was born in about 1310, gave birth to her daughter in the 1340s, and Alice gave birth between 1372 or earlier and about 1385.  The chronology certainly works, though some people have claimed that Amie was too young to have been Piers' daughter, given the childbearing in the 1380s of her own daughter.  Amie, however, was granted a manor by Queen Philippa for the first time in January 1332, for service to the queen.  She clearly wasn't a child then.

We know that royal and noble women generally got married in their early teens or before.  We have no way of knowing at what age women down the social scale - and Amie certainly was that, being illegitimate - got married.  For all we know, getting married in their twenties was entirely normal.  It's a myth that everyone in the past always got married really young.  What was the hurry for non-noble or royal people, after all?  No vital political alliances between countries or families to seal, no inheritances to secure.  Even thinking about noblewomen, I can think of some who got married later than the norm: Edward I's daughter Eleanor (married at twenty-four) and Edward III's daughter Isabella (married at thirty-three) are classic examples, and there's also Gilbert 'the Red' de Clare's daughter Isabel, who married the widowed Maurice Berkeley in 1316 when she was fifty-four, her first and only marriage.  The dates of birth of the general population, everyone except tenants-in-chief and their heirs, are not recorded in this era.  We can't state with certainty that 'women always got married in early puberty' as a general rule that applies to everyone in England at this time, and it's certainly not reason enough to assume that Amie can't have been Piers Gaveston's daughter because we have some vague idea that she was 'too old' to get married in her twenties and have a child in her thirties.

Another theory: the 1334 fine which identifies Amie as 'daughter of Petrus Gaveston' does not mean the famous Piers Gaveston, earl of Cornwall, but some other Piers Gaveston.  Even though there is no documentary evidence of another Piers Gaveston, apparently we should assume that he, rather than the famous Piers, earl of Cornwall, fathered Amie.  The small Béarnais village of Gabaston where the family came from has a population of barely 600 even today.  It is surely stretching credulity too far to think that there was another 'Piers of Gabaston' in England in the early fourteenth century.  In the absence of any evidence that such a person existed, I'm going to stick with the most plausible explanation, that the Piers Gaveston named as Amie's father was the Piers Gaveston.

There's one amazingly creative theory about Amie, that she was in fact the illegitimate daughter of Piers' widow Margaret de Clare.  Goodness only knows why or how that one came about - seemingly from the inability of many people nowadays to believe that Piers Gaveston, beloved of Edward II, would have had extra-marital sex with a woman.  I have no idea why that's implausible.  Edward himself had pre- or extra-marital sex with a woman that resulted in his son Adam, after all.  Let's just speculate here and say that Margaret de Clare became pregnant by another man while she was married to Piers, and this resulted in Amie.  By English law, Amie would still have been Piers' daughter and legitimate, unless he took formal measures to renounce her.  If Amie had been legitimate, she would have been one of Margaret de Clare's co-heirs to the vast Clare inheritance, with Joan Gaveston and, later, Margaret's younger daughter Margaret Audley (who ultimately received the entire inheritance as Margaret's only surviving child).  It is incredibly unlikely that Margaret gave birth to an illegitimate child after Piers' death.  Margaret's brother the earl of Gloucester was killed at Bannockburn on 24 June 1314, almost exactly two years after Piers' execution, and she and her two sisters Eleanor and Elizabeth became heirs to his fortune and lands in England, Wales and Ireland.  Eleanor was already married, and Elizabeth still in Ireland (her husband the earl of Ulster's heir died in 1313).  Edward II took Margaret into his own household, where she would - certainly - have been watched closely.  She was a great heiress and a great prize, and it is basically impossible to imagine that she had enough freedom of movement to sleep with a man and become pregnant without it being noticed.  Even before the death of her brother, it is hard to imagine that she had the freedom of movement to sleep with a man and become pregnant without it being noticed.  The lives of royal and noble women were, of course, considerably more curtailed than those of royal and noble men.

Amie Gaveston was Piers' daughter, illegitimate and born to a mother whose identity we unfortunately do not know, and almost certainly never will unless new evidence comes to light.  I see no reason to think she was the daughter of anyone else.  I wish we knew more about her life and what, if any, arrangements Piers made for her upbringing.  I also wish we knew more about Edward II's son Adam.  Maybe one day...