28 March, 2020

Edward II and Jousting

Most unusually for a medieval king, and most unlike his son Edward III who adored it and often participated, there's no direct evidence that Edward II ever jousted. He does, however, seem to have watched the sport on occasion, though perhaps this demonstrates more of an interest in Piers Gaveston, an excellent jouster, than it does in the sport itself. I do wonder why Edward never showed much of an interest in jousting, and perhaps it was because his father was not keen on him competing as he grew up. When Edward of Caernarfon was just two years old in 1286, an important young nobleman was killed while jousting: William de Warenne, son and heir of the earl of Surrey. (He left a baby son, John de Warenne, future earl of Surrey, and a posthumous daughter, Alice, future countess of Arundel.) Duke John I of Brabant, father-in-law of Edward of Caernarfon's sister Margaret (b. 1275), was also killed jousting in 1294 when Edward was eight.

Edward of Caernarfon was the only living son of Edward I for sixteen years, between 19 August 1284, when he was just four months old and his ten-year-old brother Alfonso of Bayonne died, and 1 June 1300, when his half-brother Thomas of Brotherton was born. Edward I had also lost his sons John (1266-71) and Henry (1268-74) in childhood, and it may be that he did not wish to tempt fate by allowing his only surviving son to compete in a sport that could be truly dangerous. I don't know this for sure and might be wrong, of course; Edward II was the most unconventional of medieval kings and loved digging ditches, thatching roofs, working with metal, swimming and rowing, and perhaps his lack of interest in jousting was part of his defiant unconventionality.

Edward II, as king, often banned jousting tournaments, as indeed other medieval kings sometimes did as well, though (to my knowledge) not nearly as often. This says far more about Edward's turbulent reign than it does about his dislike of jousting. Tournaments allowed large groups of armed men to gather, which could be dangerous, and were sometimes used as a cover for more nefarious activities, such as the tournament held in Dunstable in the spring of 1309 which some of Edward's disgruntled barons used as an opportunity to meet and discuss their grievances against him. The Vita Edwardi Secundi states that Thomas, earl of Lancaster used jousting tournaments in the spring of 1312 as a plausible excuse to move large groups of armed men to the north of England, where Edward and Piers Gaveston were skulking, so that he could capture Gaveston.

The chancery rolls of Edward II's reign are full of proclamations forbidding tournaments, though there are also quite a few pardons to knights who had taken part in them "contrary to the king's proclamation," so they were certainly held on occasion. On 1 January 1319, for example, Edward (then in Yorkshire) sent two of his sergeants-at-arms "to arrest all persons attempting to hold a tournament" in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, and a few months later pardoned Sir Francis Aldham, Sir William Baud and Sir Ralph Cobham for taking part in a tournament, perhaps this one. In the autumn of 1323, Edward II permitted the holding of a tournament in Northampton at the request of his half-brothers Thomas and Edmund, then in their early twenties and evidently keen to prove their mettle as jousters. The king subsequently, however, changed his mind and forbade the tournament. No doubt there was much grumbling and gnashing of teeth.

08 March, 2020

The de Clare Sisters

To mark International Women's Day and the publication of my joint biography of the three de Clare sisters, here's a post about them. See also my recent article about them on the History Hit website.

Joan of Acre was born in the port of Acre in the Holy Land sometime in the spring of 1272, and was the second eldest surviving daughter, after Eleanor born in June 1269, of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile. In 1278, Joan was betrothed to Hartmann von Habsburg, second son of the German king Rudolf I, but in late 1281 eighteen-year-old Hartmann drowned, and by then his father seemed to have lost interest in the English alliance anyway; he didn't bother to inform Edward I of his son's demise until the following August. On 30 April 1290, aged eighteen or almost, Joan married Gilbert 'the Red' de Clare, earl of Gloucester and Hertford, who was born on 2 September 1243 and was thus forty-six at the time of the wedding, just four years younger than his father-in-law Edward I. He had previously been married to Edward I's cousin Alice de Lusignan, and had two daughters: Isabella, Lady Berkeley, born 1262, and Joan, countess of Fife, born c. 1264. Both women were a few years older than their new stepmother, and Countess Joan of Fife had borne a son, Duncan MacDuff, in 1289. Gilbert 'the Red' was therefore already a grandfather when he married the teenage Joan of Acre.

Joan became pregnant within about three months of her wedding, and sometime between 23 April and 11 May 1291 gave birth to a son, Gilbert, who immediately became heir to his father's earldoms and vast landholdings in England, Wales and Ireland. Around 14 October 1292, Joan gave birth to her second child and first daughter in Caerphilly Castle, and named her Eleanor (Alianore in contemporary spelling) after her mother Eleanor of Castile (d. November 1290) and grandmother Eleanor of Provence (d. June 1291). Eleanor de Clare's date of birth is based on a comment by a chronicler that Joan of Acre was churched or purified on 23 November 1292.

Joan and Gilbert the Red's third child was a second daughter, named Margaret either after Gilbert's maternal grandmother Margaret de Quincy (d. 1266), countess of Lincoln, his sister Margaret (d. 1312), countess of Cornwall, or Joan's sister Margaret (b. 1275), the king and queen's third surviving daughter, who became duchess of Brabant in 1294. Margaret is the only de Clare sibling for whom we have no recorded date of birth, but in my opinion she was probably born in the spring of 1294, perhaps in Ireland, where Joan and Gilbert spent a few months in 1293/94. Around Christmas 1294 Joan became pregnant again and gave birth to her fourth child and third daughter, Elizabeth, in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire on 14 September 1295. Elizabeth's date and place of birth are given in the Complete Peerage, on an Addenda and Corrigenda page, though frustratingly no source is cited. Elizabeth was just a few weeks old when her father died on 7 December 1295, aged fifty-two, leaving his four-year-old son Gilbert as his sole heir.

Not much is known about the childhoods of the de Clare sisters; they were mere toddlers when their mother scandalously married her second husband, the squire Ralph de Monthermer, without her father's permission in early 1297. Joan of Acre gave birth to the sisters' four half-siblings between c. late 1297 and 1304. Most confusingly, Marie de Monthermer, eldest of the four, married Duncan MacDuff, earl of Fife, a grandson of Gilbert 'the Red' from his first marriage to Alice de Lusignan; for the de Clare siblings, this meant that their half-sister married their half-nephew.

Eleanor de Clare's grandfather Edward I arranged her marriage to the young nobleman Hugh Despenser the Younger (b. late 1280s), and attended the wedding in the palace of Westminster on 26 May 1306, four days after Hugh was knighted with Eleanor's uncle Edward of Caernarfon, prince of Wales, and several hundred others. Eleanor was aged thirteen and seven months, Hugh about seventeen or eighteen, and Eleanor gave birth to their first child in 1308 or the first half of 1309. This was Hugh 'Huchon' Despenser, Edward I's eldest great-grandchild, and Eleanor bore at least another nine Despenser children between 1310 and 1325. A little over a year after Eleanor's wedding, the de Clare sisters' grandfather died and was succeeded by their uncle Edward II, their mother's much younger brother; the four de Clare siblings were all closer in age to their uncle than his sister Joan of Acre was. Joan had passed away in April 1307, a few weeks before her father, leaving her widower Ralph de Monthermer (d. 1325) and her eight children.

Edward II made his beloved Piers Gaveston earl of Cornwall on 6 August 1307, and on 1 November that year arranged his wedding to Margaret de Clare, probably aged thirteen and a half, the oldest unmarried female member of Edward's family. Piers was much older than his new wife, at least in his mid-twenties, and they were to have only one child or at least one surviving child, Joan, named after Margaret's late mother. Joan Gaveston was most probably the child known to have been born to Margaret in York at the beginning of 1312, and the little girl was only five months old when her father was killed on 19 June 1312.

The de Clare sisters' only brother Gilbert married Maud de Burgh, one of the many daughters of the Anglo-Irish nobleman the earl of Ulster, on 29 September 1308, and the day after, his sister Elizabeth married Ulster's son and heir John de Burgh. Like her older sisters, Elizabeth married at thirteen, though did not move to Ireland until she was fourteen. She gave birth to her son William de Burgh the day after her seventeenth birthday in September 1312, and nine months later was widowed. Her son succeeded his grandfather as earl of Ulster in July 1326, married Maud of Lancaster in 1328, and their daughter Elizabeth, born July 1332, was a great heiress and married Edward III's son Lionel of Antwerp. The elder Elizabeth, born 1295, returned to England in early February 1316, and on the day of her return was abducted and married to Theobald de Verdon, born in September 1278 and the widower of Maud Mortimer, with whom he had three daughters. Their marriage lasted for less than six months as Verdon died in July 1316, but he left Elizabeth a month pregnant, and she gave birth to his daughter Isabella in March 1317.

The de Clare sisters' fortunes changed forever on 24 June 1314, when their elder brother Gilbert was killed at the battle of Bannockburn. His widow Maud claimed to be pregnant - for years! - but ultimately Edward II had to admit that his nephew had died without heirs of his body and that Eleanor, Margaret and Elizabeth were his joint heirs, in line with contemporary English inheritance law. They all inherited lands across England and Wales, and came into more when the dowager countess Maud died in 1320 and her third of her late husband's lands was divided among her three sisters. Eleanor, Margaret and Elizabeth each had an income of over £2,000 a year and were wealthier than any other woman in England except Queen Isabella.

In late April and early May 1317, Edward II arranged the marriages of his widowed nieces Margaret and Elizabeth to his two current favourites, or infatuations, Sir Hugh Audley and Sir Roger Damory. Elizabeth had only given birth to her second husband's posthumous daughter a few weeks earlier. Sir Hugh Audley was the second son of Sir Hugh Audley Senior (d. 1326) of Stratton Audley, Oxfordshire, and was born around 1291/93; Sir Roger Damory was the second son of Sir Robert Damory (d. 1285) of Bletchingdon, Oxfordshire, and was born perhaps in the early 1280s, though that's just my best guess. Neither man was their father's heir, and they both did astonishingly well to marry two women who were granddaughters of a king and wealthy heiresses.

The Audley marriage resulted in one daughter, Margaret Audley, born probably in the early 1320s and her mother's sole heir after her half-sister Joan Gaveston died in January 1325. Margaret married Ralph Stafford, later the first earl of Stafford, after he abducted her in 1336, and was an ancestor of the Stafford dukes of Buckingham. The Damory marriage resulted in one surviving daughter, Elizabeth, probably also born in the early 1320s, who married John, Lord Bardolf and was an ancestor of the later Lords Bardolf.

Eleanor de Clare's husband Hugh Despenser the Younger began his meteoric rise in his uncle-in-law the king's affections after he was appointed royal chamberlain in 1318. Whatever the nature of Hugh and Edward II's relationship, it was an extraordinarily close one that was only severed by Hugh's execution in November 1326, and there is no doubt that Eleanor was one of her husband and her uncle's closest supporters during their despotic, greedy regime in the 1320s. Her brothers-in-law Hugh Audley and Roger Damory, formerly the king's great favourites but shunted aside by Hugh Despenser, joined the Contrariant rebellion of 1321/22. Audley fought against the king at the battle of Boroughbridge on 16 March 1322, and was imprisoned until he escaped sometime in 1326; Roger Damory died of his wounds after fighting against the royal army a few days before Boroughbridge.

Elizabeth de Clare, still only twenty-six, had been widowed for the third time, and never married again in the remaining almost four decades of her life. Her uncle temporarily imprisoned her at Barking Abbey, though released her in November 1322 and restored her to her lands - though some quasi-legal manoeuvres by her brother-in-law Despenser deprived her of some of them, to her utter fury. Margaret, meanwhile, was sent to captivity in Sempringham Priory in Lincolnshire, and was to remain there for the rest of her uncle's reign.

26 February, 2020

Win a FREE Signed Book!

I'm offering two FREE, signed hardback copies of my new joint biography of Edward II's nieces the three Clare sisters! It doesn't matter where you live in the world; the competition is open to all, as long as you have a postal address where I can send the book!

All you have to do to win is leave a comment with your email address (so I know how to contact you) here on the blog, or send me a message on my Edward Facebook page, or if you prefer, you can send me an email at edwardofcaernarfon(at)yahoo(dot)com. If we're connected on Twitter or via my private Facebook page, you can send me a private message there instead, if you like.

The closing date is Wednesday 11 March, midnight Greenwich Mean Time. The following day, I will randomly select the winners and notify you both via email, at which point you can give me your postal address and any special dedication you'd like me to write in the book.

The Clare sisters, Eleanor, Margaret and Elizabeth were born between 1292 and 1295 as the granddaughters of the reigning king, Edward I, and came to adulthood in the reign of their uncle Edward II. The sisters were married to a total of seven men, four of whom were involved in intense and perhaps sexual relationships with their uncle the king, and all three sisters were imprisoned either by Edward II or by his queen, Isabella of France. Elizabeth was widowed for the third time at the age of twenty-six; Eleanor was said by one chronicler to be the mistress of her uncle Edward II, a statement given some credence by Edward's accounts of 1324/26; and Margaret was married to two men who were her uncle's 'favourites' and spent over four and a half years in captivity at Sempringham Priory on Edward's orders. The three sisters' lives could hardly be more dramatic!

23 February, 2020

The Siege Of Caerphilly Castle, 1326/27 (2)

A while ago, I wrote blog post about the siege of Caerphilly Castle in South Wales from November 1326 to March 1327, the only hold-out against the new regime. Here's a post about the men who remained in the castle with Hugh 'Huchon' Despenser, teenage son and heir of Hugh Despenser the Younger. Huchon was about seventeen or eighteen in 1326/27; according to his mother Eleanor's inqusition post mortem, he was either twenty-eight or twenty-nine in July 1337, so he was born sometime before July 1309 and perhaps in 1308. In December 1325, Huchon was old enough to own weapons which required repair, and that month and again in July 1326, his great-uncle Edward II had aketons (padded or quilted jerkins worn under armour) and coat-armour (jackets embroidered with heraldic devices) made for him in the colours of the Despenser arms and bought matching caparisons for his horses, as revealed by Edward's chamber account of 1325/26. So by late 1326, Huchon was a young man with years of military training behind him.

The list of the men inside Caerphilly with Huchon Despenser very usefully appears on the Patent Roll on 20 March 1327, when they were all pardoned for holding the castle against Queen Isabella. There were about 135 of them. [Calendar of Patent Rolls 1327-30, pp. 37-39] There's also, incidentally, a very long and useful inventory of all the items found inside Caerphilly when it finally surrendered, printed in English translation in William Rees' Caerphilly Castle and Its Place in the Annals of Glamorgan. The inventory reveals that the castle still contained vast quantities of food and drink even after nearly 150 men had lived there for four months. Starving them out would have taken an exceedingly long time.

Only two of the garrison were knights, Sir John Felton and Sir Thomas Lovel. Felton was a household knight of Hugh Despenser the Younger, and their correspondence to each other while Felton was in Gascony in 1324/25 during the War of Saint-Sardos still exists and was printed by the late, great, much-missed Professor Pierre Chaplais. At one point, Hugh told John that Edward II "has greatly given you his heart" because the king was so pleased with Felton's service, and on another occasion told John how much he personally appreciated his diligence, loyalty and good conduct. John Felton was not officially in charge of Caerphilly Castle in 1326, yet repaid Hugh's praise of him by saving the life of his teenage son and heir, who would have been executed if the Caerphilly garrison had decided to give Huchon up to Isabella.

A number of the men inside Caerphilly were valets of Edward II's chamber who appear frequently in his extant accounts of 1324-26: Peter Plummer, Henry Hustret, Simon Hod, John Pope, Walter 'Watte' Cowherd, Richard Gobet, John Edriche, Gilbert 'Gibon' Apse, Alexander 'Sandre' Rede, Hugh 'Huchon' Smale, John Traghs or Trasshe, and William 'Wille' Wallere. There may be others, as Edward's clerks tended to refer to some of the king's servants by nicknames rather than their real names, such as 'Grete Hobbe' or 'Big Rob', which makes them impossible to identify. Two sergeant-at-arms inside Caerphilly were named as Rodrigo de Medyne and William Beaucair or Beaukaire. Rodrigo had been in Edward II's household for a while and later joined Edward III's; William, oddly, guarded Edward II's body at Berkeley Castle for a month after the former king was supposedly murdered there on 21 September 1327. See here. William's first name is given as 'Gills', which I suspect is a nickname for Guillaume. He must have been French or at the very least of French parentage, as Beaucaire is a town near Avignon.

Edward II had a personal bodyguard of eight archers in 1326, and five of them were in the castle: John Horewode, Adam Bullok, Robert Pakynton, Roger Wight and Wille Draycot. In 1326, Hugh Despenser the Younger had bodyguards said in Edward's chamber account to have "followed Sir Hugh at all times wherever he went." The bodyguards were hobelars, armed men on horseback, and six are mentioned in January 1326 and eight that July. Five of the hobelars were also in Caerphilly: Roger atte Watre, a Londoner who had served Edward II since at least the early 1310s (and see also below), the Palington brothers John, Henry and Thomas, and John Grey.

Also in the castle: Hugh Despenser the Younger's blacksmith Will of Denbigh and two of Edward II's blacksmiths, John Cole and Robert Brakenhale. Robert le Ferrour and John le Ferrour were also blacksmiths, as evidenced by their name. Other men's job titles appear as their names, in medieval French: Eustace le Ceu and Richard le Keu ('cook'), David le Surigien ('surgeon'), Roger le Taillour, John le Taillour, Walter le Taillour, William le Taillour and Richard le Teghlour ('tailor'), William le Barber, Nicholas le Sarrour and Walter le Sarrour ('sawyer'), William le Pestour ('fisherman'), and Walter de la Panetrie ('of the pantry' or 'bakery'). The word maceon or 'mason' appears after Richard Ule's name.

Simon 'Simkyn' Simeon came from Lincolnshire and was a long-term Lancastrian adherent; he seems the odd one out among the men inside Caerphilly, though perhaps his decades of loyal service to the Lancasters only began in and after 1327. He was one of the men who went overseas with Edward II's cousin Henry, earl of Lancaster in 1329, served Henry's son Duke Henry for many years, and became the steward of Duke Henry's son-in-law John of Gaunt in Bolingbroke. Simon lived an extremely long life: he wrote his will in March 1386 and died shortly before 23 December 1387, when the will was proved. [Early Lincoln Wills 1280-1547, ed. Alfred Gibbons, p. 78] He was still actively serving John of Gaunt at Bolingbroke Castle in his native Lincolnshire as late as 1383, and John's letters and orders to him often appear in his (John's) register of 1379 to 1383. Assuming Simon was at least fourteen or sixteen in 1326/27 and wasn't a young child, which doesn't seem very likely, he can't have been born later than 1310/12 (which would make him exactly the same age as Duke Henry of Lancaster), hence was still active when he was past seventy and must have been at least seventy-five when he died.

Two men who joined the earl of Kent's plot to free the supposedly dead Edward II in 1329/30 and who were inside Caerphilly were Giles of Spain and Benet or Benedict Braham. Giles had been a squire of Edward II's household since at least 1317, and was the man sent by Edward III to the south of Europe to pursue Sir Thomas Gurney, supposedly one of Edward II's murderers, in the early 1330s. A man whose name appears as 'Stephen Dun' I suspect may mean Stephen Dunheved, co-leader with his brother Thomas, a Dominican friar, of the successful attempt to free the former Edward II from Berkeley Castle in the summer of 1327. See here, here, here, here and here. The hobelar Roger atte Watre was in Caerphilly and joined the Dunheveds in 1327. Although his brother Thomas might have been dead by 1330, Stephen also joined the earl of Kent's plot in 1329/30.

In 1326, Edward II employed half a dozen or more trumpeters, and three appear in the record of 20 March 1327 when they were pardoned for holding out at Caerphilly: Ferandus le Trompur, Henry le Trompur and Bernard le Trompur. Ferand or Ferandus was Spanish. Another man was 'Senchet Garcie'. I presume this means Sancho Garcia, a Castilian sailor who also often appears in Edward II's chamber account in 1326. That January, Sancho rode from Winchelsea in Sussex to Exning in Suffolk, where Edward was then staying, to ask if Edward wished to buy his wrecked ship the Seinte Katherine in Winchelsea harbour. Edward, as it turned out, did, and Sancho stayed at court until early May and returned three weeks later. Interestingly, there were four Spanish men inside Caerphilly: Giles of Spain, Rodrigo de Medyne, Ferand the trumpeter, and Sancho.

'William Hurle[y], carpenter' is the most famous name on the list: he was Edward II and Edward III's master carpenter, and died in 1354 having worked on Ely Cathedral, Windsor Castle and other places. Hugh Despenser the Younger had sent William Hurley to work on the great hall of Caerphilly Castle in February 1326, and some of the men named on the list, such as the two sawyers, were probably William's workmen. There are dozens of other men named among the Caerphilly garrison whom I can't as yet identify. Apart from the Spanish men above, the blacksmith Will of Denbigh, Henry of Cardiff and William of Monmouth, all the names are English rather than Welsh, and include Gilbert of Newcastle-on-Tyne and Robert of Alnwick, who were both very far from home, Adam of Pershore in Worcestershire, and Benedict of Nailsworth in Gloucestershire. Some of the men were almost certainly members of Hugh Despenser the Younger's household, but unless they appear in Edward II's accounts or the chancery rolls and are specifically named as Hugh's servants (as the hobelars and Will of Denbigh are), there's no way of identifying them as such as none of Hugh's accounts survive, with the exception of payments he made into and out of his accounts with Italian bankers in London.

Edward II and Hugh the Younger left Caerphilly on c. 1 or 2 November 1326. By the time they were captured two weeks later, they only had a tiny number of men still with them, and it's usually stated that Edward had been abandoned by his entire household. Given that the Caerphilly garrison held out against the new regime for four months and were clearly loyal to Edward and Hugh (with the likely exception of William Hurley and his men, who may simply have been caught up there by accident), and given that many of them were former members of Edward's or Hugh's households and that others would become involved in plots to free Edward after his deposition in 1327 and even after his official death in 1329/30, the picture was in fact a bit more complicated than the usual 'everyone abandoned Edward' narrative. Edward's chamber account was last kept at Caerphilly on 31 October 1326 and records payments to some of the king's chamber staff who were still with him then, a few of whom appear, as noted here, in the list of the garrison on 20 March 1327. The others apparently left the castle sometime between Edward's departure and the start of the siege some weeks later, and I don't know what happened to them as none of them appear in the extant list of the members of Edward III's household made on 24 June 1328, so apparently they all left royal service and perhaps returned to their homes and families (some of them had young children). On 31 October 1326, there were still twenty-nine chamber valets with Edward II, though it's impossible to say how many squires, sergeants-at-arms, ushers, clerks and knights remained with the king then, as their wages weren't paid out of the chamber like the valets' were and hence their names weren't recorded in his extant chamber account, now in the library of the Society of Antiquaries in London.

16 February, 2020

Henry Percy (1273-1314)

As anyone with an interest in English history will know, there were an awful lot of generations of English noblemen called Henry Percy down the centuries. Here's the first part of a post about the Percys (Percies?), a great noble family who became earls of Northumberland in 1377, in the fourteenth century, beginning with the Henry Percy who besieged Piers Gaveston at Scarborough Castle in May 1312.

This Henry Percy was born on 25 March 1273 at Petworth in Sussex, and was the son of another Henry Percy (well, obviously). Henry was born posthumously, seven months after his father died on 29 August 1272. [1] His mother was Eleanor de Warenne, daughter of John de Warenne, earl of Surrey (b. 1231) and Alice de Lusignan, a half-sister of Henry III. According to the Complete Peerage, Henry Percy (d. 1272) and Eleanor de Warenne married in York on 8 September 1268. [2] Their first son was named John after Eleanor's father the earl of Surrey, and was probably born in 1270; he was said to be eleven years old on 30 November 1281. [3] John Percy was his father's heir in 1272, and was still alive on 16 June 1285, but died childless before 29 July 1293 leaving his younger brother Henry as his heir. [4

John Percy evidently died before he would have turned twenty-one in c. 1291, and there is no inquisition post mortem for him; there is a reference in 1315 to "John de Percy, who died a minor in the late king's [Edward I's] custody." If John ever married I haven't found a reference to it, though Edward I gave his wardship and marriage rights to Queen Eleanor (d. November 1290) in or before late 1281. [5] John's younger brother and heir Henry Percy proved his age and was given their late father's lands on 11 June 1294. [6] The jurors at Henry's proof of age held in Petworth in 1294 were all very aware that his father Henry Percy Senior passed away in Henry III's reign, and that Henry Junior was born after the deaths of both his father and of King Henry (in November 1272); eleven of them stated some version of "he knows it [Henry Percy's date of birth] by the death of King Henry." This is an example of how the death of a king was a major event that was vividly remembered decades later, especially, perhaps, because Henry III's reign was such a long one and there can't have been too many people still alive who remembered the death of the last king, Henry's father John, in 1216.

Henry Percy went on campaign to Scotland with his long-lived maternal grandfather the earl of Surrey in 1295, and took part in Edward I's siege of Caerlaverock Castle with him in 1300. The Roll of Arms of Caerlaverock states "John, the good earl of Warenne...had in his company his nephew [sic], Henri de Percy, who seemed to have made a vow to rout the Scots." [7] Henry's aunt Isabel de Warenne, Surrey's other daughter, had in fact married John Baliol, king of Scotland from 1292 to 1296, and was the mother of Edward Baliol, who a few decades later claimed the throne of Scotland from Robert Bruce's son David II. Henry Percy was also an older first cousin of John de Warenne, born in June 1286 and their grandfather's heir as earl of Surrey on his death in 1304 in his seventies, the earl's only son William de Warenne having been killed jousting in late 1286.

Around 1300, Henry married a woman called Eleanor, whom I've written about here. Most probably, she was the daughter of Richard Fitzalan, earl of Arundel (1267-1302), though this identification is not 100% certain. Richard, earl of Arundel acknowledged a debt of 2,000 marks to Henry Percy on 7 August 1300 - while they were both taking part in the siege of Caerlaverock, as it happens - which presumably was Eleanor's dowry (Richard paid the same amount to Bishop Robert Burnell for his sister Maud's marriage to the bishop's nephew and heir Philip Burnell in 1283), and Henry Percy acknowledged in November 1313 that he had received full payment of all debts from Richard's son and heir Edmund, earl of Arundel. In 1315, Eleanor was called "late the wife of Henry de Percy, executrix of the will of Richard de Arundell, her brother," who presumably was a younger son of Earl Richard. As I've pointed out before, it seems most improbable that an important and high-ranking nobleman such as Henry Percy, who was a grandson of the earl of Surrey and a great-nephew of King Henry III, would have married a woman from a cadet branch of the Fitzalans/Arundels, and Edward II acknowledged Eleanor as "the king's kinswoman" on several occasions, which is in itself evidence of her high rank. [8]

Eleanor therefore seems highly likely to have been a daughter of Earl Richard, and a sister of Earl Edmund, who was born on either 1 May 1284, 21 December 1284, 1 May 1285 or 3 July 1285. [9] Given that Eleanor gave birth in February 1301 or possibly February 1302, she was seemingly older than her brother Edmund (unless she was his twin), as she would have been a painfully young mother if she was born in 1286 or later. This would mean that Richard Fitzalan, earl of Arundel, became a father at sixteen or seventeen, but that's not terribly unlikely given that his much younger first cousin Roger Mortimer, later the first earl of March (b. 1287), was also a very young father. Richard, born 3 February 1267, was only six years older than his son-in-law Henry Percy, born 25 March 1273. [10]

Eleanor gave birth to a son named Henry Percy at Leconfield in Yorkshire, either on 6 February 1301 or on 6 February 1302. It's hard to say for sure, because the jurors at young Henry's proof of age stated that he was born on 6 February in Edward I's twenty-ninth regnal year, which ran from 20 November 1300 to 19 November 1301, thus giving a date of birth of 6 February 1301. However, the proof of age was taken in Leconfield on 26 February 1323 (in Edward II's sixteenth regnal year) and states that Henry "was 21 years of age on 6 February last," which indicates that he was born on 6 February 1302. [11] The jurors thus contradicted themselves. To add to the confusion, Henry the father's (b. 1273) inquisition post mortem in November 1314 states that his son and heir was either "sixteen at the Purification [2 February] next," which would give a date of birth in early February 1299; "aged fifteen at Whitsunday last," which gives May 1299; "aged thirteen and nine months," which gives February 1301; or "aged thirteen and nine months at the feast of the Purification, 7 Edward II." The feast of the Purification in the seventh year of Edward II's reign was 2 February 1314, so this seems to be a rather garbled attempt to state that Henry was thirteen and nine months at the time of the inquisition in November 1314 and hence was born around the Purification in 1301. [12] 

Henry Percy the son was said to be still a minor on 18 and 22 February, 27 April and 28 June 1320, so cannot have been born on 6 February 1299. [13] There's an entry on the Patent Roll dated 9 July 1322 which calls him a "minor in the king's custody" and on 21 July 1322 Edward II talked of his "custody of the lands and heir of Henry de Percy [b. 1273], tenant in chief", which would seem to indicate that Henry was in fact born on 6 February 1302, not 1301, so was still only twenty in 1322. Edward allowed Henry seisin of his lands on 26 December 1321, pointing out that he was still underage, so he was definitely born after 26 December 1300. [14] Anyway, whether Henry Percy was born in 1301 or 1302, his father (b. 1273) was so delighted at the birth of his son that he rode the twelve miles to his manor of Nafferton on the same day to tell his tenants there in person. A woman named Joan Danyel was one of the women assisting Eleanor Percy at little Henry's birth, and he was baptised in the church of All Saints in Leconfield the day after he was born. Young Henry was born either in the lifetime of Richard Fitzalan, earl of Arundel, probably his maternal grandfather, or shortly after Richard died a little before 15 January 1302, at the young age of thirty-four. (Richard would have turned thirty-five on 3 February 1302, and his inquisition post mortem makes it obvious that he didn't die on 9 March 1302, as often stated.) Henry was also born in the lifetime of his great-grandfather John de Warenne, earl of Surrey, who lived until 1304.

The Percy family are strongly associated with the castle of Alnwick (pronounced 'annick') in Northumberland. The castle and manor of Alnwick were given to Henry Percy (b. 1273) by Anthony Bek, bishop of Durham, on 19 November 1309. [15] Bek was remarkably generous: he gave the palace and manor of Eltham in Kent to Edward of Caernarfon in 1305 and gave Somerton Castle in Lincolnshire to him four years later.

Early in Edward II's reign, Henry Percy the father seems to have been a close ally of the king and Piers Gaveston; on 16 June 1308, he, with Edward's cousin John of Brittany, earl of Richmond, Hugh Despenser the Elder, and William Melton, future archbishop of York (who were certainly all very close to the king), witnessed Piers' appointment as lieutenant of Ireland. [16] However, Henry must have grown discontented with Edward's excessive favouritism towards the earl of Cornwall, and besieged Piers inside Scarborough Castle in May 1312 with his cousin John de Warenne the younger, earl of Surrey (Henry's great-grandson Henry Percy, first earl of Northumberland, would be born in Scarborough Castle in 1341, as a matter of interest). Henry was appointed custodian of Scarborough Castle in October 1311, though Edward II replaced him with William Latimer in early 1312; Henry refused to hand the castle over to Latimer, and on 20 February 1312 Edward ordered Henry to come to him and explain himself. The king also removed Henry as custodian of Bamburgh Castle, and gave it back to Isabella Beaumont, Lady Vescy, on 28 January 1312; Henry had held the position for only six weeks. [17]

In the aftermath of Piers Gaveston's death, Henry Percy was one of the chief noblemen, with Robert Clifford and the earls of Lancaster, Hereford and Warwick, often named as being given a safe-conduct to meet the king or to take part in the endless negotiations which tried to reconcile the men to Edward. Edward had seized Henry's lands and goods on 28 July 1312, but restored them on 18 December that year. He had also ordered Henry's arrest on 31 July on the grounds that Henry had stood as a guarantor to ensure Piers' safety, but that Piers had been killed while Henry was still liable for his welfare. [18]

Henry Percy died shortly before 10 October 1314 at the age of forty-one, leaving his son Henry, who was either twelve or thirteen, as his heir. His wife Eleanor also outlived him, and received her dower on 6 November 1314. [19] Weirdly, there's a reference to "Eustachia, daughter and heiress of Henry de Percy, tenant in chief, a minor in the king's custody" on 26 February 1321, when Edward II gave her marriage to the chief justice Geoffrey Scrope. [20] I think the name Henry here must be a clerical error for Peter, as there's a reference to Eustachia, daughter and heir of Peter Percy and wife of Walter Heslarton, aged "22 and more", in November 1334. [21]

Plenty more on the fourteenth-century Henry Percys coming soon!


1) Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1291-1300, no. 214.
2) Complete Peerage, vol. 10, p. 456.
3) CIPM 1272-91, no. 434.
4) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1281-92, p. 175; Calendar of Close Rolls 1288-96, p. 295.
5) CIPM 1272-91, no. 434CPR 1281-92, pp. 175, 468; CCR 1313-18, p. 148.
6) CIPM 1291-1300, no. 214; CCR 1288-96, pp. 350, 388.
7) Thomas Wright, ed., The Roll of Arms of Caerlaverock (1864), p. 6.
8) Calendar of Close Rolls 1296-1302, p. 404; CCR 1313-18, pp. 79, 223; CPR 1313-17, p. 638; Calendar of Fine Rolls 1319-27, p. 16.
9) CIPM 1300-07, no. 90.
10) CIPM 1216-72, no. 812.
11) CIPM 1317-27, no. 435.
12) CIPM 1307-17, no. 536.
13) CFR 1319-27, pp. 17, 21; CCR 1318-23, pp. 178, 201.
14) CPR 1321-24, pp. 174, 181, 411, 633.
15) CPR 1307-13, pp. 197, 205.
16) CPR 1307-13, p. 83.
17) CPR 1307-13, pp. 391, 413, 427, 429-31, 441; CFR 1307-19, pp. 121, 127.
18) CFR 1307-19, pp. 141, 156; CPR 1307-13, p. 486.
19) CFR 1307-19, p. 214; CIPM 1307-17, no. 536; CCR 1313-18, p. 125.
20) CPR 1317-21, p. 568.
21) CIPM 1327-36, no. 622.

07 February, 2020

Heirs to the English Throne, 1272-1330

When Henry III died on 16 November 1272 and was succeeded by his son Edward I, the heir to the English throne became Edward's four-year-old son Henry of Windsor, born in May 1268. He was Edward's second son; Henry's elder brother John, born in July 1266, died in August 1271 in his grandfather Henry III's lifetime, so was never heir to the throne. Edward I and Queen Eleanor had another son on 24 November 1273, Alfonso of Bayonne, named after his maternal uncle and godfather Alfonso X of Castile. Little Henry died around 14 October 1274 at the age of six, and Alfonso, not yet eleven months old, became heir to his father's throne. He was to hold that position for just under a decade.

Edward I and Eleanor of Castile's fourth and youngest son Edward of Caernarfon was born on 25 April 1284, and on 19 August 1284, his ten-year-old brother Alfonso of Bayonne died. For ten years the people of England had grown accustomed to the idea that one day they would have a King Alfonso, but sadly it was not to be. Unlike his three older brothers, Edward of Caernarfon was a healthy, sturdy child who, though not actually born as his father's heir, ultimately succeeded his father as king, having spent twenty-three years as heir to the throne. It's interesting to look at who was next in succession after young Edward. On 17 April 1290, Edward I, with only one living son, confronted the possibility that Edward of Caernarfon, not quite six years old, might die young as his older brothers had, and before he fathered any male heirs. The king therefore decided that, in that case, the English throne should pass to his and Eleanor of Castile's eldest surviving daughter Eleanor of Windsor, born on 17 or 18 June 1269. I find it fascinating that Edward I considered the possibility of his throne passing to a woman, and that he favoured his daughters - he specified that if Eleanor died or had no children, the throne would go to his next eldest daughter Joan of Acre (b. 1272), and so on - over his brother Edmund, earl of Lancaster and Leicester (1245-96), and Edmund's sons Thomas (b. c. 1277/78) and Henry (b. c. 1280/81).

Eleanor of Windsor married Henri III, count of Bar in eastern France, on 20 September 1293, gave birth to her son Edouard and her daughter Jeanne sometime between 1294 and 1298, and died on 29 September 1298 at the age of twenty-nine. From 29 September 1298 until 1 June 1300, therefore, the heir to the English throne behind his uncle Edward of Caernarfon was Edouard of Bar, future count of Bar. On 1 June 1300, Edward I's second queen Marguerite of France gave birth to a son, Thomas of Brotherton, later earl of Norfolk. She bore a second son, Edmund of Woodstock, later earl of Kent, on 5 August 1301. For sixteen years between August 1284 and June 1300, Edward I only had one living son; now he had three.

Edward I died on 7 July 1307 and was succeeded by Edward of Caernarfon as King Edward II. Seven-year-old Thomas of Brotherton became heir to the throne on the death of his father and the accession of his half-brother, and held the position until 13 November 1312, when Edward II and Isabella of France's son Edward of Windsor was born. The royal couple produced the 'spare' part of 'the heir and the spare' when their second son John of Eltham was born on 15 August 1316. Edward of Windsor was born as heir to the English throne and succeeded his deposed and disgraced father as king on 25 January 1327, aged fourteen.

John of Eltham, just ten years old when his father was deposed and his brother became king, was heir to the throne from 25 January 1327 until 15 June 1330, when Edward III's queen Philippa of Hainault gave birth to their first son Edward of Woodstock, later prince of Wales. Although Edward III and Queen Philippa were to have seven sons, of whom five survived infancy, there was a long period in the 1330s when the king still only had one son and heir. Philippa gave birth to her daughters Isabella in June 1332 and Joan probably in January 1334, then had a three-year break from childbearing. Her second son William of Hatfield was born at the beginning of 1337, but sadly died soon after his birth. Her fifth child and third son was Lionel of Antwerp, born on 29 November 1338. With the exception of the few days or weeks in early 1337 when William of Hatfield was alive, there was a period of eight and a half years, 15 June 1330 to 29 November 1338, when Edward III only had one son. The king and queen's fourth but third surviving son John of Gaunt was born on 6 March 1340, and their fifth but fourth surviving, Edmund of Langley, was born on or just before 5 June 1341. The middle three sons of Edward III were very close in age, and their three births in two and a half years well and truly secured the succession to the throne. Queen Philippa's sixth son William of Windsor was born in May 1348 but also died in infancy, and her seventh and youngest, but fifth surviving, was Thomas of Woodstock, who was not born until January 1355.

As well as John of Eltham, the heir to the throne from January 1327 to June 1330, there were other royal males who took their places in the line of succession in the late 1320s. Edward II's half-brother Thomas of Brotherton came next after John of Eltham, until Edward of Woodstock's birth in June 1330. Thomas had a son, Edward of Norfolk, who was probably born in the mid-1320s or thereabouts (as far as I can figure out, his sisters Margaret and Alice were older and were born c. 1322 and c. 1324). Edward of Norfolk died as a child sometime in the early 1330s - young though he was, he had already been married to Roger Mortimer's daughter Beatrice - and Thomas's heirs were his two daughters.

Behind Thomas of Brotherton and his son Edward of Norfolk came Thomas's younger brother Edmund of Woodstock, earl of Kent, who was beheaded at the age of twenty-eight on 19 March 1330. Edmund had a son, Edmund of Kent, probably born in 1328 or 1329, who died in 1331. Earl Edmund also left a posthumous son John, later earl of Kent, born on 7 April 1330, as well as his daughter Joan, born 1326 or 1327, later princess of Wales and Richard II's mother.

As well as Edward I's sons and grandsons, there was his nephew Henry of Lancaster, second son and ultimate heir of Edward's brother Edmund of Lancaster, Edmund's first son Thomas having died (or having been executed by his cousin Edward II, rather) childless in 1322. Henry's only son was Henry of Grosmont, later the first duke of Lancaster, born c. 1310/12. The two Lancastrians came after Edward I's sons and grandsons in the line of succession, and of course the births of Edward III's sons in the 1330s and 1340s pushed them further and further away from the throne.

31 January, 2020

The Fourteenth-Century Mowbrays

A (long!) post about the influential English noble family who became dukes of Norfolk at the end of the fourteenth century.

Roger, first Lord Mowbray, was probably born not too long before 7 November 1257 (as Edward I took his homage and allowed him to enter his late father Roger's lands on 7 November 1278), and died shortly before 21 November 1297. [1] He had made an excellent marriage to Rohese de Clare, one of the daughters of Richard de Clare (1222-62), earl of Gloucester and Hertford, and Maud de Lacy (1223-89), daughter of Margaret de Quincy (d. 1266), countess of Lincoln. Rohese's siblings included Edward I's son-in-law Gilbert 'the Red' de Clare (1243-95), earl of Gloucester and Hertford, Margaret (d. 1312), countess of Cornwall, and Isabel, who married the Italian marquis of Montferrat. Roger Mowbray and Rohese de Clare's marriage was arranged in July 1270 by their mothers, Maud, dowager countess of Gloucester, and Maud, Lady Mowbray and Lestrange. Rohese's brother Earl Gilbert 'the Red' was one of the witnesses to the bond. [2]

Roger and Rohese's son and heir was John Mowbray. When Roger's inquisition post mortem was held in January 1298, John was said to be "aged 11 on the day of the Decollation of St. John the Baptist, 25 Edward I"; "aged 12 and more at the feast of the Assumption, 25 Edward I"; "aged 13 at the feast of the Decollation of St. John the Baptist, 25 Edward I"; "aged 11 at the feast of St. Cuthbert last"; "aged 12 and more." [3] These give possible dates of birth of 29 August 1284, 15 August 1285, 20 March 1286, or 29 August 1286. John Mowbray was "not yet of full age" on 1 June 1306 when Edward I allowed him full seisin of his father's lands, "for the good service he will do for the king in the present army of Scotland." [4] Therefore John didn't have to prove his age when he turned twenty-one, and we don't know his exact date of birth. From the grant by Edward I, we know he was certainly born after 1 June 1285, and he was probably born sometime in the second half of August 1285 or in the second half of August 1286, perhaps on the Beheading of St John the Baptist (29 August) as stated in some of his father's inquisitions, which might his explain his being given the name John. John Mowbray was one of the hundreds of men knighted with Edward of Caernarfon, prince of Wales, duke of Aquitaine, earl of Chester and count of Ponthieu, at Westminster on 22 May 1306, and was just a year or two younger than Edward.

On 29 November 1298 a year after the death of John's father Roger, Edward I made a "[g]rant to William de Brewosa, staying with the king in Flanders, of the marriage of John son and heir of Roger de Moubray, tenant in chief, so that he cause the said John to be married to Alina his daughter. Mandate to Roesia, late the wife of the said Roger, to deliver the said John to be married." [5] William de Brewosa's name is usually spelt 'Braose' nowadays, and he was lord of the Gower Peninsula in South Wales and of Bramber in Sussex. William's heirs were his two daughters, Alina or Aline, and Joan, who married Sir James de Bohun of Midhurst.

This statement by Edward I implies that John Mowbray and Aline de Braose married fairly soon after 29 November 1298, and the Complete Peerage says they married in Swansea in 1298. [6] John was then twelve or thirteen, and I have no idea how old Aline was. Her sister Joan was old enough to give birth in 1300, and was most probably older than Aline. John Mowbray and Aline had a son and heir, John the younger, born in Hovingham, Yorkshire on 29 November 1310. John the father was ill at the time and because of the worry over her husband's condition, Aline gave birth a few days prematurely, according to her son's proof of age taken in August 1329 (like his father, he was allowed to come into his lands before he turned twenty-one). Edward II's cousin Thomas, earl of Lancaster paid a messenger twenty shillings for bringing him the news of the birth, and as it happened, John Mowbray the son later married Thomas's niece Joan of Lancaster. [7]

John Mowbray the father joined the Contrariant rebellion against Edward II and Hugh Despenser the Younger - who was married to John's first cousin Eleanor de Clare - and was executed in York on 23 March 1322, alongside Roger, Lord Clifford. He was about thirty-five at the time. Cruelly, Edward II imprisoned John's widow Aline and their son John in the Tower of London, even though young John was only eleven when his father was executed. During his despotic period as the king's untouchable favourite in the 1320s, Hugh Despenser the Younger took the Gower Peninsula from Aline's father William de Braose, and after Hugh's downfall Aline made her feelings about him perfectly clear, calling him "the evil traitor" (le malveis tretre). [8]

A petition from Aline, c. 1327, referring to 'le malveis tretre Hugh le Despencier le fyz'

Young John Mowbray besieged the castle of Tickhill in early 1326, still only fifteen years old, with Robert Clifford, the twenty-year-old brother and heir of the executed Roger, Lord Clifford. John's maternal grandfather William de Braose died shortly before 1 May 1326, and his heirs were his daughter Aline and her nephew John de Bohun (b. 1300), son of her late sister Joan (d. 1316). William's much younger widow Isabel, Aline's stepmother, was given permission to marry the Gascon Simon de Montbreton, a close ally of Edward II and the Despensers, on 13 May 1326. [9] Aline herself married a second husband, Sir Richard Peshale, and died shortly before 20 July 1331. [10]

John Mowbray's marriage was granted to Henry, earl of Lancaster and Leicester, on 28 February 1327 the month after Edward II's forced abdication, and he married Joan, fourth of Henry's six daughters, before 4 June 1328. [11] Joan was probably born around 1313/15. Their only son, inevitably also named John, was born in Epworth, Lincolnshire around Midsummer 1340. [12] They also had two daughters, probably older than John: Eleanor, Lady Warr and Blanche, Lady Poynings. Their father arranged his daughters' future marriages in 1342/43. [13] Although Joan of Lancaster was not an heiress as she had a brother, and hence brought the Mowbrays no lands, the Lancaster connection meant that the Mowbrays were closely related to a lot of important people: the Arundels, the Percys, the de Burghs, the Uffords, etc. John Mowbray (b. 1340) was a nephew of Henry of Grosmont, first duke of Lancaster, and a first cousin of Blanche, duchess of Lancaster (1342-68), Edward III's daughter-in-law and Henry IV's mother.

Joan of Lancaster, Lady Mowbray, died on 7 July 1349 when her son was nine. Her widower John Mowbray (b. November 1310) married his second wife Elizabeth, daughter of John de Vere (b. c. 1312), earl of Oxford, and widow of the earl of Devon's son Sir Hugh Courtenay, in or before March 1351. Elizabeth was pregnant in May 1351, though she and John Mowbray did not have any surviving children that I know of. [14] Mowbray was slightly older than his new father-in-law, and he and the earl of Oxford really did not get along well; in 1353 Mowbray's brother-in-law from his first marriage, the duke of Lancaster, had to mediate between them and managed to settle their dispute. Rather startlingly, John Mowbray was claiming that he did not need to provide any food, drink or clothing for Elizabeth and her attendants or even for any children the couple might have. Her father Oxford, not surprisingly, objected to this strenuously. [15]

John Mowbray the son (b. June 1340) received a papal dispensation to marry Elizabeth Segrave on 25 March 1349, a few months before his mother Joan of Lancaster died. John's uncle Henry, earl and later first duke of Lancaster, requested the dispensation "to make peace between the lords John de Mowbray and John de Segrave and their successors, between whom, they being near neighbours, quarrels and scandals may arise." The couple were married by 10 August 1349, although John was still only nine years old. [16] Elizabeth was born in Croxton Abbey, Leicestershire on 25 October 1338 so was twenty months her husband's senior, and was the sole heir of her father John, Lord Segrave (1315-53). [17] She was also a co-heir, with her much younger half-sister Anne Manny (1354-84), to their mother Margaret, countess of Norfolk (c. 1322-99), Edward I's granddaughter, though ultimately Margaret outlived both her daughters and Anne's only child John Hastings, earl of Pembroke (1372-89), leaving her Mowbray/Segrave descendants as her sole heirs. Elizabeth Segrave was born just a few weeks after the death of her maternal grandfather Thomas of Brotherton, earl of Norfolk, the elder of Edward II's half-brothers.

John Mowbray the father (b. November 1310) died on 4 October 1361, aged fifty, leaving his son John, who had turned twenty-one around Midsummer that year, as his heir. Mowbray's widow Elizabeth de Vere (d. 1375) and her third husband Sir William Cosynton later surrendered themselves to debtors' prison in London after Elizabeth's stepson John (b. 1340) sued them for wasting his estates given to her in dower. [18] John Mowbray the son and Elizabeth Segrave had a daughter and two sons: Eleanor, born on or just before 25 March 1364; John, born either on 1 June or 1 August 1365; and Thomas, probably born on or about 22 March 1367. [19] Thomas's IPM says he was thirty-three years and twenty-six weeks old when he died on 22 September 1399, which would place his date of birth around 22 March 1366. If his brother John was born in August 1365, this is impossible, and even if John was born on 1 June 1365 it is unlikely (albeit perhaps not impossible), given that women were "off limits" to their husbands until their purification forty days after childbirth, that Thomas was born only nine months and some weeks after his brother. To add to the confusion, two sets of jurors at their father's IPM stated that John was born in 1364, either at Whitsun or the feast of St Peter in Chains, but this is also impossible as his older sister Eleanor was born in March 1364. I imagine Thomas Mowbray was probably born in March 1367, not March 1366.

John Mowbray (b. 1340) left England shortly after 10 October 1367, and was "slain by Saracens" on his way to the Holy Land sometime between 17 June and 9 October 1368, aged only twenty-eight, leaving his three small children. As he died "in parts beyond seas", the jurors at his inquisition post mortem gave wildly varying dates for his death, and added disclaimers that they only 'thought' or 'understood' that he died on such and such a date "according to reports which came to England." [20] I can't find a date of death for his wife Elizabeth Segrave, Lady Mowbray, but she must have died before John, as his IPM records that he held several manors "by the courtesy of England of the inheritance of Elizabeth his wife, daughter and heir of John de Segrave," and that can only have been the case if she was dead. Perhaps she died after giving birth to Thomas. On 18 April 1372, John and Elizabeth's orphaned sons John and Thomas Mowbray were put in the care of their great-aunt Blanche of Lancaster, Lady Wake (d. 1380), Joan of Lancaster's eldest sister. [21] Elizabeth Segrave Mowbray's mother Margaret, countess and later duchess of Norfolk, outlived her by many years, but then, Margaret outlived just about everyone.

John Mowbray, born in 1365 and the heir of the Mowbrays, was made earl of Nottingham at Richard II's coronation in July 1377, but died on 8 or 10 February 1383 at the age of seventeen, unmarried. The jurors at his IPM estimated his brother and heir Thomas's death as anywhere between fifteen and nineteen, this latter age obviously being impossible as that would have made him older than John. [22] A few days later on 20 February 1383, Richard II promised to give Thomas Mowbray all his possessions in the king's hands if he married the heiress Elizabeth Lestrange of Blackmere, born c. 6 December 1373. Elizabeth, however, died on 23 August 1383, and Thomas married the earl of Arundel's daughter, also Elizabeth, widow of the earl of Salisbury's son William Montacute (d. August 1382). Richard II pardoned Thomas Mowbray a few years later for marrying without royal licence, and made him first duke of Norfolk in September 1397. [23] Thomas Mowbray is well-known to anyone who's read Shakespeare's play about Richard II as Henry of Lancaster's adversary in 1398, and the king exiled him from England for life in October that year.

When Margaret, formerly countess and now duchess of Norfolk in her own right, finally died on 24 March 1399, her rightful heir was her grandson Thomas Mowbray, who had also inherited the Segrave lands of his grandfather, Margaret's long-dead first husband John Segrave. Thomas Mowbray only outlived his grandmother by six months and died in exile in Venice on 22 September 1399, probably aged thirty-two (or thirty-three, according to his IPM). His heir was his and Elizabeth Arundel's elder son Thomas Mowbray, born 17 September 1385, who was executed by his uncle-in-law Henry IV in June 1405 leaving no children. [24] The Mowbray heir therefore was Thomas's (b. March 1366/67) younger son John, born in Calais on 3 August 1390, who married Katherine, daughter of Ralph Neville and Joan Beaufort, earl and countess of Westmorland. Thomas Mowbray, earl of Nottingham, was keeper of the port of Calais, and had gone back to England at the time of his second son's birth; evidently Elizabeth was too pregnant to be able to accompany him. She sent a servant named John Kendale over the Channel to inform Thomas of their son's birth and to ask what he wished the boy to be named, and John Mowbray's baptism took place six days after he was born, after Kendale returned to Calais with Thomas's instructions. Robert Gousell, one of Earl Thomas's squires, "carried a sword erect to the [Mowbrays'] house" after the baptism. [25] Probably in 1401, Robert married Thomas's widow Elizabeth, dowager duchess of Norfolk and countess of Nottingham, sister of the earl of Arundel, and was the father of two of her daughters. 


1) Calendar of Close Rolls 1288-96, p. 22; Calendar of Fine Rolls 1272-1307, p. 392; Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1291-1300, no. 472.
2) Catalogue of Ancient Deeds, C.6087.
3) CIPM 1291-1300, no. 472.
4) CCR 1302-07, pp. 390, 422.
5) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1292-1301, p. 323.
6) Complete Peerage, vol. 9, p. 379.
7) CIPM 1327-36, no. 250.
8) The National Archives SC 8/173/8631.
9) CPR 1324-27, p. 267; CIPM 1317-27, no. 53 (Joan), no. 433 (John de Bohun), no. 701 (William de Braose).
10) Calendar of Fine Rolls 1327-37, p. 267.
11) CPR 1327-30, p. 26; Kenneth Fowler, The King's Lieutenant: Henry of Grosmont, First Duke of Lancaster 1310-1361 (1969), p. 256 note 16.
12) CIPM 1361-65, no. 144.
13) The National Archives BCM /D/1/1/9 and 10.
14) Calendar of Papal Letters 1342-62, pp. 375, 385.
15) TNA BCM/D/1/1/5.
16) CPL 1342-62, p. 305; Petitions to the Pope 1342-1419, p. 151; CPR 1348-50, p. 373; CCR 1349-54, p. 51; TNA BCM/D/1/1/13 and 14.
17) CIPM 1352-60, nos. 116, 121.
18) CIPM 1361-65, no. 144; CPR 1367-70, p. 244.
19) CPR 1367-70, p. 237 (Eleanor); CIPM 1365-69, no. 397 (John); CIPM 1399-1405, no. 268 (Thomas).
20) CPR 1367-70, pp. 22, 158; Complete Peerage, vol. 9, p. 384; CIPM 1365-69, no. 397.
21) CCR 1369-74, p. 370.
22) CIPM 1377-84, nos. 819-29.
23) CPR 1381-85, pp. 229, 236; CPR 1389-92, p. 16; CIPM 1374-77, no. 105; CIPM 1377-84, nos. 1022-27; Calendar of Charter Rolls 1341-1417, p. 369.
24) CIPM 1399-1405, nos. 264, 268.
25) CIPM 1405-13, no. 336.

24 January, 2020

The House on the Strand (2): Henry Champernoune and the Carminowes

I'm on a real House on the Strand kick at the moment, after my post the other day about Sir Otto Bodrugan. Here's one about Otto's brother-in-law Sir Henry Champernoune, and two other fourteenth-century characters in the novel, the brothers Sir Oliver and Sir John Carminowe.

A pic of my treasured hardback, first edition copy of The House on the Strand. I love the evocative cover image.

Henry Champernoune is, apart from the dashing and attractive Otto Bodrugan, the most likeable male fourteenth-century character in Daphne du Maurier's novel, being a thoroughly decent and kind person. In his lifetime, Henry's last name often appeared in its Latinised form, 'Campo Arnulphi', and was also spelt Champernon, Champernoun, Chambernon, Chaumbernoun, etc. He was the son and heir of William Champernoune, whose inquisition post mortem was held in March 1305. [1] Henry was then said to be either aged thirty and more, or thirty-three and more, placing his date of birth sometime in the early or mid-1270s. From his father he inherited the manor of 'Trevelowan', where his nephew Henry Bodrugan was born in September 1311, Tywardreath, and two manors and two hamlets in Devon, including Ilfracombe.

Henry Champernoune and Joan Bodrugan's son William, presumably named in honour of Henry's late father, was said to be either sixteen or eighteen in 1329, and was therefore born around 1311/13 and was the same age as his Bodrugan cousins Henry, William and Otto. They also had a daughter, Joan, who married Nicholas Bonevyle or Bonville before 3 February 1329. Nicholas issued a deed, witnessed by Sir Otto Bodrigan and Sir John Carminowe among others, which was dated at his father-in-law's manor of "Tywardraith, Friday after the Purification 3 Edward III," i.e. 3 February 1329. [2]

Henry often appears in the chancery rolls being given commissions of oyer et terminer in Cornwall, and was one of the most important men in the county. On 3 November 1324, Henry was one of two men appointed by Edward II "to survey all measures" of wine, ale and corn in Cornwall, on the grounds that some merchants used measures smaller than the standard, "to the great deception and manifest loss of the people." On 29 April 1325, however, he was declared to be too "sick" to execute his duties and was replaced. [3] Henry died shortly before 8 May 1329 in his mid or late fifties, leaving his sixteen or eighteen-year-old son William as his heir. [4An entry on the Close Roll of 1436, over a century after Henry's death, helpfully clarifies his lines of descent. His son William had daughters Katherine and Elizabeth. Katherine died without children, and Elizabeth had a daughter Margaret, who had a son John Herle. Henry Champernoune's daughter Joan and her husband Nicholas Bonville had a son William Bonville, who had a son John, who had a son William Bonville. [5] Edward III granted a "[l]icence for Joan late the wife of Henry de Campo Arnulphi to marry whomsoever she will of the king's allegiance" (an exceedingly common licence) on 24 October 1331, and she was still alive in May 1334. [6] I'm not sure if she ever did remarry, though.

Turning to the Carminowe brothers Oliver and John, they both also sometimes appear as commissioners of oyer et terminer in Cornwall in Edward II's reign, and in fourteenth-century documents their name was spelt Carmino, Carmenou, Carmenowe, Carminou, Carmynou, Carmynowe, Carmenho, Carmynewe, Karmino, Kaermino, Kaermynowe and approximately 259 other ways as well. In The House on the Strand, Sir Oliver Carminowe is married to his second wife Isolda Ferrers and has two young daughters with her (and several children from a previous marriage who are not mentioned but not seen), and his brother Sir John is married to Joan(na) Glyn but is having an affair with Henry Champernoune's wife Joan(na) Bodrugan, a supremely unpleasant character. There were in fact at least four and perhaps five Carminowe brothers, the sons of Roger Carminowe, who died shortly before 20 December 1308. Roger's eldest son and heir was Oliver, said somewhat vaguely to be aged thirty and more in Roger's IPM of January 1309, which, if it's in any way correct and not just the jurors' best guess, would place Oliver's date of birth around the late 1270s. [7

An entry on the Patent Roll in June 1320 makes it clear that Oliver had younger brothers John, Richard and the oddly-named Mivan, and a sister named, inevitably, Joan. [8] (There were just too many Joans and Johns in fourteenth-century England.) Additionally, a "Roger son of Roger Carmenou" became parson of St Stadian in the diocese of Exeter in 1309, so there, apparently, is another brother. [9] Roger Carminowe's widow Joan (agh!), the brothers' mother or stepmother, was still alive in 1320, and that year Oliver was married to his first wife, Elizabeth. None of the wives of the younger Carminowe brothers John, Richard and Mivan are mentioned, so they might not have married yet. It may also be that Oliver and Elizabeth had no children yet, as the entry talks of "the heirs of their bodies, and failing such issue...". (though maybe they did and the grant just referred to the possibility of their children dying before Oliver). Somewhat confusingly, another entry on the Patent Roll in 1321 states that Oliver was the brother and heir of Roger Carminowe, not son and heir, though that may be a clerical error. [10]

The chancery rolls don't give the identity of Oliver Carminowe's first wife, but the Visitation of the County of Cornwall and P. L. Hull's very useful 1976 article 'Thomas Chiverton's Book of Obits' in Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries identify her as Elizabeth Pomeroy, and state that Oliver's first son and heir was named Roger after his father. In July 1344 there's a reference on the Patent Roll to "John son of Oliver Carmynou, the elder", so Oliver and Elizabeth had another son whom they presumably named after Oliver's next eldest brother. [11] As well as their sons Roger and John, Oliver and Elizabeth had daughters Elizabeth, who married Sir John Arundell, and Maud, who married into the Trevarthian family. The Arundel(l)s were a well-known family of medieval Cornwall, not to be confused with the Fitzalan/Arundel family originally from the Welsh marches, who became earls of Arundel in the late thirteenth century. The Visitation also gives the name of the fourth (or fifth) Carminowe brother as Minan - actually Minanus, but that's the Latin form. 

Unfortunately, there's a lot of terrible and incorrect information about the Carminowe family floating around online. A few sites say that Oliver's first wife Elizabeth was the sister of John Holland, duke of Exeter, which is impossible; Holland wasn't even born until the 1350s, was made duke of Exeter in September 1397 and was executed in January 1400, and his sisters, also born in the 1350s, were Joan and Maud. His mother was Edward II's niece Joan of Kent, also the mother of King Richard II (b. 1367) by her last marriage to Edward of Woodstock, prince of Wales. Joan herself was only born in 1326/27, so the idea that she could have a daughter mentioned in the chancery rolls in 1320 who was old enough to marry a man born c. the late 1270s is beyond absurd.

I haven't been able to find any inquisitions post mortem for the Carminowes, except for Roger's in 1308/09, until much later in the fourteenth century, and they don't appear in the chancery rolls all that often either. I also can't locate any record of Sir Oliver Carminowe's death. One of the last references I can find to him dates to October 1340, when he was exempted from being put on assizes or juries and from being appointed sheriff, coroner, mayor or escheator, almost certainly because of his age, as he was probably over sixty by then. In January 1341, however, he appears as a tax-collector in Cornwall. [12] Oliver's younger brother Sir John Carminowe died sometime before 26 January 1332, leaving a son named Walter, then under twenty-one, as his heir. Edward III granted custody of Sir John's lands and Walter's marriage rights to his brother John of Eltham, earl of Cornwall, until Walter came of age, but two months later Earl John gave the lands, custody of Walter himself, and the rights to his marriage to Walter's mother Joan(na), John Carminowe's widow. [13] Walter had a son, Ralph, who married Henry Champernoune's granddaughter Katherine Champernoune.

Sir Oliver Carminowe's first son and heir Sir Roger Carminowe had a son Sir Thomas, who had a son Thomas (not given the title of Sir in his inquisition post mortem), who died in November 1388 leaving his daughter Joan Carminowe, said to be three years old at his IPM in March 1389, as his heir. Thomas also left his widow, named Katherine. Joan Carminowe died on 21 February 1396, unmarried and still a minor in the king's wardship, and her heirs were her kinsmen John Arundell, grandson of Oliver Carminowe's daughter Elizabeth, said to be aged twenty-eight (so born c. 1368), and John Trevarthian, said to be aged thirty-six (so born c. 1360), son of Oliver's daughter Maud. [14] An undated indenture still exists between John Arundell and John Trevarthian dividing "the inheritance of Carmynouwe" between themselves. [15] Oliver Carminowe's two daughters with his second wife Isolda Ferrers, Margaret and Joan, whom we meet as characters in The House on the Strand, also married and had descendants.


1) Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1300-07, no. 312.
2) Catalogue of Ancient Deeds, A.8921.
3) Calendar of Fine Rolls 1319-27, pp. 314-15, 344.
4) CIPM 1327-36, no. 209.
5) Calendar of Close Rolls 1435-41, p. 19.
6) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1330-34, p. 191; CIPM 1327-36, no. 569.
7) CIPM 1307-17, no. 141; CFR 1307-19, pp. 34-35.
8) CPR 1317-21, p. 449.
9) CPR 1307-13, p. 119.
10) CPR 1317-21, p. 561.
11) CPR 1343-46, p. 401.
12) CPR 1340-43, pp. 44, 118.
13) CPR 1330-34, pp. 242, 261.
14) CIPM 1384-92, nos. 666-67; CIPM 1392-99, nos. 615-16.
15) CAD, A.10409.

19 January, 2020

The House on the Strand and Sir Otto Bodrugan (1290-1331)

Probably my favourite novel of all time is Daphne du Maurier's The House on the Strand, which I must have read ten times. Our 1960s narrator, Dick, is staying at his friend Magnus's house in Cornwall, and on multiple occasions ingests a powerfully hallucinogenic drug which takes his mind back to the fourteenth century while his body remains in the twentieth. He wanders around the Cornish countryside following people many hundreds of years dead only he can see and who can't see him, and becomes obsessed with their lives, to the point where it starts to destroy his marriage and the drug starts to damage his body. The fourteenth-century sections are set at the end of Edward II's reign and beginning of Edward III's, and the last time Dick travels back in time in his mind, it's a few years later, just after the Black Death in 1348/49. The two King Edwards, Isabella of France and Roger Mortimer do not appear as characters, but are mentioned a few times in the narrative. Daphne du Maurier's descriptions of the Cornish landscape are simply brilliant, especially when she describes the differences between what it looked like 650 years previously and the modern 1960s landscape, e.g. Dick wakes from one of his trips to find that he's soaking wet, having waded through water that wasn't there in his fourteenth-century vision.

One of the fourteenth-century characters in the novel is Sir Otto Bodrugan, a real person, as are all of the fourteenth-century characters. (Du Maurier did a great deal of research, and at one point in House on the Strand a debt of £200 Otto owed to Sir John Carminowe is mentioned; that's recorded on the Close Roll on 3 February 1331.) Otto was the son and heir of Henry Bodrugan, his mother was Sybil Maundevill or Mandeville, and he was born at the manor of Bodrugan, Cornwall on 6 January 1290. He was baptised at the church of St Goran on the day after his birth, and his godmother was Joan Treviur, "who especially loved him." [1] Otto was the heir of his father Henry, who died shortly before 23 January 1309, and also of Henry's uncle William Bodrugan, who died shortly before 26 March 1308. Henry was said to be "aged thirty and more" at William's inquisition post mortem in April 1308, but he must have been a good bit older than thirty then, as his son Otto was born at the start of 1290. Otto's name was also often spelt Oto or Otho or even Otes in the fourteenth century.

Otto came into a few manors in Cornwall, and the Cornish jurors at his father's IPM in February 1309 knew exactly how old he was, stating correctly that he was "aged nineteen at the feast of the Epiphany last." Two "vacant plots in the place of a capital messuage" and a few acres of arable land and pasture in Luton, Bedfordshire which had belonged to Otto's late mother Sybil passed in 1309 to John Pouwers or Poer or Power, "aged twenty-three and more," Otto's older half-brother. [2] Sybil herself was the sister and heir of Sir Walter Mandeville, and was "aged twenty-four and more at the feast of St Michael last" in  early November 1288, putting her date of birth around 29 September 1264. [3] Sybil was married firstly to Peter Poer, and and she and her second husband 'Henry de Boderingeham' were granted the marriage rights of her own son John Poer on 2 February 1291, as a "[c]onfirmation of a bequest in the will of Eleanor [of Castile], the late queen". [4] I haven't been able to find the date of Sybil's death, but she had already passed away when her second husband Henry Bodrugan died in early 1309. As well as his descent from the Bodrugans and the Mandevilles, Otto Bodrugan was descended from the powerful Giffard family on his mother's side - two of Sybil's maternal Giffard uncles were archbishop of Canterbury and bishop of Worcester, and her aunt was abbess of Shaftesbury - and from the Pomeroy family on his father's. 

Below, part of the inquisition post mortem of Otto Bodrugan's father Henry in February 1309, showing the name Tywardraith or Tywardreath, which will be familiar to readers of The House on the Strand. 'Sir Henry de Campo Arnulphi' is the Latinised form of Henry Champernowne (or Chambernoun), also a character in the novel and Otto's brother-in-law.

Hugh Despenser the Elder sold Otto's marriage rights to Sir Henry Champernowne at an uncertain date before February 1311 [5], and Otto married Henry's sister Margaret while his own sister Joan married Henry himself. Otto Bodrugan and Margaret Champernowne had three sons, born in or before 1310, in 1311, and at an unknown date in the 1310s; see below.

Otto joined the Contrariant rebellion against Edward II and Hugh Despenser the Younger in 1321/22, and Edward II ordered the arrest of 'Otto de Botringham' on 7 December 1321. [6] (The unusual spellings of his and his father's last name that sometimes appear reveal that Chancery clerks in London didn't have a clue about Cornish names.) He fought against the royal army at the battle of Boroughbridge in March 1322. [7] During the York parliament of May 1322, Edward II pardoned Otto on the latter's acknowledgement of a due fine of 1,000 marks (£666). His lands were restored to him in July 1322. [8] In March 1324, Otto received a safe-conduct to go on pilgrimage to Santiago. [9] It must have been a relief to Otto, as to so many others, when Edward and the Despensers fell from power in 1326, and on 3 December that year Isabella of France made Otto keeper of Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel, recently forfeited by Hugh Despenser the Younger. [10]

Sir Otto Bodrugan died shortly before 10 October 1331 at the age of forty-one, when the writ for his inquisition post mortem was issued, and it was held at the beginning of 1332. As is basically always the case, we don't know the cause of his death, though I imagine Otto didn't die in the dramatic way Daphne du Maurier describes it in House on the Strand. Otto's heir was his first son Henry, but sadly - as du Maurier mentions in the novel - Henry only outlived his father by three weeks, and did not know of his father's death. The reason why he was not informed is not explained in the inquisition, but perhaps Henry was seriously ill, and out of compassion his carers did not tell him Otto was dead, or perhaps he was so ill that he spent the last few weeks of his life unconscious. In late 1331/early 1332, Henry Bodrugan was "aged twenty-one and more," so he was already of age when Otto died, and was born in or before 1310, when his father was twenty or younger. Henry was married to a woman called Isabella, but they had no children. Otto's heir therefore was his second son William Bodrugan, born at 'Trevelouan' on 1 or 2 September 1311. Otto and Margaret also had a third son, named after his father, whose date of birth is not recorded, and Margaret outlived her husband and received her dower, as did her daughter-in-law Isabella, in March 1332. [11] 

None of Otto's three sons had any sons, and William left a daughter, Elizabeth, as his heir. Elizabeth married Sir Richard Sergeaux (d. 1393) also of the county of Cornwall, who married secondly Philippa Arundel (d. 1399), daughter of the earl of Arundel's disinherited son Edmund Arundel. Otto Bodrugan the younger, the third and youngest son of Otto, also left a daughter, Joan, as his heir.


1) Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1307-17, no. 285.
2) CIPM 1307-17, nos. 10, 139; Calendar of Fine Rolls 1307-19, pp. 28, 35, 41.
3) CIPM 1272-91, no. 678; CFR 1272-1307, p. 258.
4) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1281-92, p. 420.
5) CPR 1307-13, p. 306.
6) CFR 1319-27, p. 85.
7) Vicary Gibbs, 'The Battle of Boroughbridge and the Boroughbridge Roll', Genealogist, new series, vol. 21 (1905), p. 224.
8) CFR 1319-27, p. 155; Calendar of Close Rolls 1318-23, p. 618; CPR 1321-24, pp. 183, 191.
9) CPR 1321-24, pp. 391, 399.
10) CFR 1319-27, p. 425; CCR 1323-27, p. 622.
11) CIPM 1327-36, nos. 385-86, 486; CFR 1327-37, pp. 277, 288; CCR 1330-33, pp. 444, 466.