07 November, 2014

Alice Fitzalan née de Warenne, Countess of Arundel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Anerje said...

What an eventful life Alice led. And yes, Earl Richard sounds a horrible man.

Anonymous said...

How interesting! I wonder why Edmund changed his mind about rejecting her - and why he rejected her in the first place. And how she felt about him. Must have been an interesting relationship, to say the least.
Thank you.

Denise said...

I find it interesting, that the pope had to give couples a dispensation to marry,even if they were 3rd cousins.There must have been lots of dispensations given since it seems a lot of couples were related.Did popes receive a monetary compensation for these dispensations?