07 August, 2013

Marriage Negotiations in January 1324

Recently I was looking through the correspondence relating to the 1324/25 War of Saint-Sardos between Edward II and his brother-in-law Charles IV of France, and came across a letter of c. 23 January 1324 written to Edward by Sir Ralph Basset (see Lady D’s excellent post on him), who was the king's steward of Gascony.  [1]  The letter is long and informative and contains some information about marriage negotiations between England and France which I don't remember ever hearing about before. They concern Edward II and Isabella of France's daughters Eleanor, then aged five (born June 1318) and Joan, then aged two (born July 1321), and also, most interestingly to me, the king's half-brother Edmund of Woodstock, earl of Kent, then twenty-two (born August 1301). I'd never known before that any marriages were discussed for Edmund before he married Margaret Wake in late 1325, though of course it makes complete sense that they would have been. In August 1320 Edward II discussed a possible marriage for his other half-brother Thomas of Brotherton, earl of Norfolk (born June 1300) with King Jaime II of Aragon: Thomas would marry Jaime's daughter Maria, widow of Pedro of Castile, who was the son of Sancho IV and thus Edward II’s first cousin once removed. In August 1321, however, Jaime reported to Edward that Maria had decided to take the veil and that he did not think he would be able to change her mind.  [2]  Thomas of Brotherton ended up making a remarkably obscure marriage to Alice Hales, daughter of the coroner of Norfolk, probably later in 1321.

The potential marriages for Edward II's daughters mentioned in Ralph Basset's letter were with the offspring of the powerful Charles de Valois, count of Valois, Alençon, Perche, Anjou and Maine. Valois (12 March 1270 - 16 December 1325) was the son of Philip III of France and Isabel of Aragon and the brother of Philip IV, and the uncle of Louis X, Philip V, Charles IV and Edward II's queen Isabella. His children and Edward II's therefore were first cousins once removed. His eldest son Philip, born in 1293, succeeded his cousin Charles IV in 1328 as the first of the Valois kings of France, as Charles and his two elder brothers had no surviving sons and therefore were the last of the Capetian kings. Valois was married three times and had about fourteen children, including Jeanne, mother of Edward III's queen Philippa of Hainault; Isabelle, who married the heir of the duke of Brittany; Catherine, titular empress of Constantinople and princess of Taranto; another Isabelle, duchess of Bourbon; Blanche, Holy Roman Empress and queen of Germany; yet another Isabelle, abbess of Fontevrault. Valois was, in the usual tangled manner of royal relationships, also the uncle of Edward II's half-brothers the earls of Norfolk and Kent, being the elder half-brother of their mother Queen Marguerite.

Basset’s letter states that Valois had asked his nephew Charles IV for permission to send Amaury de Craon to England to meet Edward II, "to discuss and negotiate the marriages of my ladies your two daughters, that is, one for the son of the said Sir Charles who is of the issue of his last wife, and the other for one of the sons of his son from his first marriage" (...pur parler et treter de mariages de mes dames vos deus files ceo est asavoir la une pur le fitz du dit monsire Charles qui est del issue de sa dreine femme et lautre pur un des fitz de son fitz qui est des primeres esposailes).

Valois’s third and last wife was Mahaut or Matilda of St Pol, also known as Mahaut de Châtillon (d. 1358), sister of Marie de St Pol, countess of Pembroke.  With her he had only one son, who must be the boy mentioned here: Charles, count of Chartres, born probably in 1318.  Valois had two sons with his first wife Marguerite of Naples and Anjou, who died in 1299: the aforementioned Philip, who succeeded as Philip VI of France in 1328, and Charles, count of Alençon, born in 1297, who was killed at the battle of Crécy in 1346.  Charles of Alençon had been married to Joan de Joigny since 1314, but the couple had no children (Alençon’s children all came from his 1336 second marriage to Fernando de la Cerda the younger's daughter Maria).  Philip of Valois had married Joan ‘the Lame’, Jeanne la Boiteuse*, of Burgundy in 1313; she was the younger sister of Marguerite, first wife of Louis X, who was imprisoned for adultery in 1314.  As far as I can tell, the only son of Philip of Valois and Joan of Burgundy alive in 1324 was John, or Jean in French, the future King John II of France, who was born in April 1319 (they had had an older son, Philip, but he died young).  It must be John who was being put forward as a husband for one of Edward II's daughters in January 1324.  [* Later known in France as la male royne boiteuse, 'the evil lame queen']

Louis of Chartres died on 2 November 1328, probably aged only ten or thereabouts.  John of Valois married Bonne (born Jutta) of Bohemia, daughter of John the Blind, king of Bohemia, in 1332 and succeeded his father as King John II in 1350.  He is known to history as Jean le Bon, John the Good, and was succeeded by his son Charles V and then his grandson Charles VI, and so on.  No-one could have known at the time of Charles de Valois's marriage proposals in January 1324 that Charles IV would die without a son in February 1328, and that if this proposal had been realised it would ultimately have made one of Edward II's daughters queen of France.  Given that Edward's son Edward III claimed the French throne from his kinsman Philip VI (who was also the uncle of Edward's queen, Philippa), that's a fascinating what-if.

The marriage of the future Edward III to one of Charles of Valois's daughters had also been proposed, incidentally, in about May 1323; Edward II told Valois and Charles IV on 6 June that he would put the suggestion to his next parliament, which didn't take place until February 1324, by which time the alternative marriage proposal had been suggested.  [3]  The daughter is not named, but presumably meant one of Valois's daughters with Mahaut of St Pol, who were all about the right age to marry Edward of Windsor: Marie (b. c. 1309), Isabelle (b. 1313) or Blanche (b. 1317).  In March 1324, Edward II sent envoys to Jaime II of Aragon to discuss a marriage between Edward of Windsor and Jaime's daughter Violante, and in February 1325 sent envoys to Castile to arrange a marriage for the boy with Alfonso XI's sister Leonor.  [4]

Unfortunately, nothing came of these proposed marriages for Edward II's daughters and Charles de Valois's son and grandson, and I'm not sure whether Valois's envoy Amaury de Craon did indeed visit England and Edward to discuss them.  I've found a reference to Craon in July 1325 as an envoy of the duke of Brittany and a clerk of his being granted protection in England earlier that same year, but that's it.  Amaury had twice served as Edward II's steward of Gascony, Ralph Basset's predecessor, and was always acknowledged as 'cousin' or 'kinsman' by Edward; if I've worked it out correctly, Amaury's grandmother was one of Henry III's Lusignan half-siblings.  Over the next year or two Edward II betrothed his daughters instead to Alfonso XI of Castile and the future Pedro IV of Aragon, Jaime II's grandson, and after his deposition they married David II of Scotland and Duke Reynald II of Gueldres.  

The impetus for the Valois marriages came from Charles de Valois himself.  The next proposed marriage, however, was one which Ralph Basset had been trying to negotiate on Edward II's behalf. The prospective bridegroom was Edward's half-brother Edmund of Woodstock, earl of Kent, and the prospective bride was Régine de Got, daughter and heir of Bertrand de Got, viscount of Lomagne, a small town north-west of Toulouse (Basset wrote: jeo avoi comence parlaunce et trettement od le viscounte de Leomaine pur avoir euz le mariage de sa file et mon seignur vostre frere le counte de Kente, "I had begun discussions and negotiations with the viscount of Lomagne to have had the marriage of his daughter and my lord your brother the earl of Kent").

Bertrand de Got, viscount of Lomagne, was one of the many nephews of the Gascon Pope Clement V, who died on 20 April 1314 and whose real name was also Bertrand de Got.  On 16 June 1308, Edward II had granted Bertrand the nephew the castle and town of Blanquefort and appointed him his proctor at the papal court.  This was just before Piers Gaveston was forced to leave England for his second exile, and Edward candidly admitted that he hoped the grant to the pope's nephew would encourage Clement to support him in the Gaveston matter and to lift the conditional sentence of excommunication imposed on him by the archbishop of Canterbury.  [5]  In November 1317, Bertrand de Got, his kinsman Peter de Via, another nephew of Clement V, and other men were accused of "proceeding by witchcraft" against Pope John XXII.  A letter in the Gascon Rolls states "However, it is not possible to credit accusations against such important and noble persons...The pope has hitherto acted so  affectionately towards them, for it not to be reasonable that they should be suspected of such horrendously criminal behaviour."  [6]

Ralph Basset informed Edward in his letter that unfortunately his negotiations with Bertrand had been unsuccessful and he had heard that Régine de Got was shortly to marry the count of Armagnac instead (a ceo qe jeo ay entendu ele serra mariee au counte de Armeniak en moult bref temps). The count of Armagnac in 1324 was Jean I, who was still underage at the time and lived until 1373.  Countess Régine sadly did not live long: John Travers, constable of Bordeaux, told Edward II on 1 September 1325 that "the countess of Armagnac, who was the daughter of the viscount of Lomagne, is dead without an heir of her body," and on the 23rd Edward wrote to inform his half-brother the earl of Kent, the spurned bridegroom and the king's lieutenant in Gascony.  [7]  Betrand de Got, viscount of Lomagne, died in 1324, within months of Basset's letter.  Ralph Basset was afraid of an alliance between the viscount of Lomagne, the Armagnacs and Amanieu, lord of Albret against Edward II, which he had been hoping to avert with the marriage of Kent and Régine. Armagnac and Albret supported Charles IV against Edward II in the War of Saint-Sardos, although Albret's son Bérard was a staunch ally of Edward.  Malcolm Vale's 1990 book The Origins of the Hundred Years War: The Angevin Legacy 1250-1340 mentions Kent and Régine's proposed marriage (p. 94 footnote 87), but otherwise I don't believe it's ever been discussed, except here.


1) Pierre Chaplais, ed., The War of Saint-Sardos (1323-1325): Gascon Correspondence and Diplomatic Documents (1954), pp. 15-17.
2) Pierre Chaplais, English Medieval Diplomatic Practice (1982), part 1, vol. 1, pp. 64-66.
3) Foedera 1307-1327, p. 523; Close Rolls 1318-1323, pp. 713-714.
4) Foedera 1307-1327, pp. 548-549; Close Rolls 1323-1327, p. 171; Patent Rolls 1324-1327, pp. 103-104; Chaplais, War of Saint-Sardos, pp. 214-216.
5) Patent Rolls 1307-1313, p. 83; Foedera 1307-1327, p. 51.
6) Gascon Rolls C 61/32, mem. 17.
7) Chaplais, War of Saint-Sardos, p. 240; Foedera 1307-1327, pp. 609-610.


Beata said...

Like all of your posts this is very interesting and informative. I can tell I'll need to re-read it to get all the relationships sorted out in my head! (luckily I have a visual imagination, if that's the right word).
So many what ifs -- I'm not sure if Edward III would have dropped his claim to the French throne even if his sister had married the future King John of France as Edward's claim was, among others that he was the grandson, via his mother, of Philippe IV (?)
I wonder if Edmund's eventual fate would have been different had the French marriage actually happened. Maybe if he'd moved to France .....
Amaury de Craon is also a relative of Joan de Geneville! There seemed to have been a pool of 200 or so people all of whom married each other for generations!
As I said earlier, absolutely fascinating :)

Kathryn Warner said...

Thank you, Beata, so glad you liked the post! Hehe, yes, a family tree diagram would be really helpful sometimes ;)

It's interesting about Edward III, isn't it? My instinct is that it wouldn't have stopped him, as his relationship with David II didn't stop his adventures in Scotland.

Yes, I must work out the Craon-Geneville relationship sometime! All so tangled and inter-related ;)

Anerje said...

How exciting finding lost information. It's surprising that Edmund, at 22, would have been unmarried for so long. How different his life might have been.

Kathryn Warner said...

I love these what-ifs! As Kent was the grandfather of Richard II, it's another great one if he didn't marry Margaret Wake.

Sami Parkkonen said...

Staggering amount of info, once again.

jill said...

great post! ty