Edward of Caernarfon, prince of Wales, duke of Aquitaine, earl of Chester and count of Ponthieu, who succeeded as King Edward II of England a little over a year later, was knighted at Westminster on 22 May 1306. With him were knighted more than 250 other men, in an event described by the contemporary chronicler Piers Langtoft as the greatest event in Britain since King Arthur was crowned at Caerleon. For more info, see here and here.
The list of the men knighted on 22 May 1306 is very helpfully given in Constance Bullock-Davies' fab book Menestrellorum Multitudo: Minstrels at a Royal Feast (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1986), pp. 185-7, in the Latin spelling as it appears in the original document. Edward of Caernarfon's name is given as Dominus Edwardus Princeps Walliae, 'Lord Edward, prince of Wales'. In this post, I'm looking at some of the new knights, who also included Piers Gaveston ( 'Petrus de Gavaston'), Roger Mortimer ('Rogerus de Mortuomari') and his uncle Roger Mortimer of Chirk, Hugh Despenser the Younger ('Hugo filius domini Hugonis le Despenser'), and the earls of Surrey and Arundel. I'm going to make this an occasional series and write about more of the men in the future; there are certainly plenty to choose from! In this post, I'm looking at Roderick of Spain, John Comyn, John Maltravers the elder, Robert de Kendale, Nicholas Kyriel, Thomas de Vere, Fulk Fitzwarin and John Somery.
- Roderick or Rotheric of Spain (Rethericus de Ispannia)
Known as Roderick de Ispan(n)ia, which translates as 'of Spain', and means Castile in this context. In early 1325, Roderick was said to have "dwelt longtime in the king's
company during his minority" (Patent Rolls 1324-7, p. 83), and indeed there are references to him on the Patent Roll as early as April 1299, the month Edward of Caernarfon turned fifteen, as Edward's valletus, valet or yeoman. Roderick was granted a wardship in October 1297, so must have been at least twenty-one then, which would place his date of birth in or before 1276. I don't know anything about his family; there was also a clerk named James de Ispannia active during the reigns of Edward I and Edward II, who was said to be a kinsman of Eleanor of Castile (in some entries in the chancery rolls he's said to have been her nephew), but Roderick himself was never described as such. In January 1307, Roderick went on pilgrimage to Santiago in northern Spain on Edward of Caernarfon's behalf, or at least, received permission from Edward I to do so. (Close Rolls 1301-07, p. 482) Roderick of Spain died sometime before 6 April 1312, when Edward II asked his cousin Fernando IV of Castile to "exhibit his favour" to Roderick's widow Mary and their children, who evidently were returning home, "in consideration of the said Rotheric's service to the king during the minority of the king." (Close Rolls 1307-13, p. 457)
- John Comyn
A Scottish nobleman, son of John 'the Red Comyn', who was lord of Badenoch and one of the Guardians of Scotland, and killed by his great rival Robert Bruce in the Greyfriars church in Dumfries on 10 February 1306. John 'the Red Comyn' was the nephew of John Balliol, king of Scotland from 1292 to 1296, and married Joan de Valence, which means that his son the younger John was a maternal nephew of Henry III's nephew Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke (died 1324). (There was also, confusingly, yet another John Comyn, earl of Buchan, a cousin of John the Red Comyn, who lost the battle of Inverurie to Robert Bruce in 1308 and died in England that year; his wife Isabel MacDuff crowned Bruce as king in 1306.) John the younger married Margaret Wake, and with her had a son Aymer, named after his uncle. He fought for Edward II at Bannockburn against the man who had killed his father, and fell in battle. His little son Aymer Comyn died young and thus his heirs were his sisters Joan, countess of Atholl, and Elizabeth, Lady Talbot, while his widow Margaret Wake married Edward II's half-brother Edmund of Woodstock, earl of Kent, in December 1325 and became the maternal grandmother of Richard II.
- John Maltravers (or Mautravers) the elder
Father of the John Maltravers (c. 1290-1364) who was Edward of Caernarfon's joint custodian in 1327 and who was also knighted on 22 May 1306, and son of John Maltravers who died in 1297; actually he was the sixth in a line of eight men named John Maltravers. John the elder married Eleanor de Gorges, the mother of his son John born in c. 1290, and secondly Joan Foliot. He was born in about 1266 and died in 1341; like his son, who was well into his seventies when he died in 1364, he lived a long time. The Maltravers were a Dorset family and gave their name to three villages in that county: Lytchett Matravers, Langton Matravers and Worth Matravers. Father and son both fought for Edward II at Bannockburn in June 1314, and the younger John was captured. The younger John took part in the Contrariant rebellion against Edward in 1321/22, and was one of the few noblemen who managed to flee the country and evade execution or imprisonment after the battle of Boroughbridge in March 1322. The elder John may also have played some small part in the rebellion, it's hard to tell sometimes which John Maltravers is meant in the chancery rolls of this period, but Edward declared him in July 1322 to have "remained faithful to the king," and his lands and goods were restored to him, having apparently been accidentally seized instead of his son's. (Close Rolls 1318-23, p. 474). In October 1325, the elder John was the first named in a long list of men accused of assaulting one Ralph son of John de Chidiok, and of attacking an annual fair held in the Dorset town of Bere. (Patent Rolls 1324-7, p. 232).
- Robert de Kendale
The long-term constable of Dover Castle and Warden of the Cinque Ports, appointed to the office by Edward II at the beginning of his reign in 1307 and still there in 1324 (though occasionally replaced temporarily by other men). Robert was, with Piers Gaveston, Roger Mortimer and Giles Argentein, one of the new young knights whose lands and goods were temporarily seized by Edward I in October 1306 for going abroad to attend jousting tournaments without his permission. (Fine Rolls 1272-1307, pp. 543-4; Close Rolls 1302-7, pp. 481-2.) Kendale means the town of Kendal in modern-day Cumbria, presumably Robert's home town, which means that to me he's a local boy, as that's close to where I grew up. By June 1308 he was married to a woman called Margaret (Patent Rolls 1307-13, p. 79), but otherwise I know nothing about his family or about him personally except that he had sons called Robert and Edward, though he appears in the chancery rolls many dozens of times in his capacity as constable of Dover. In 1317, twenty-eight of his horses and eight of his carts were stolen at 'la Lee' in Hertfordshire, and his servants assaulted. (Patent Rolls 1317-21, pp. 86, 474). In February 1321, Robert de Kendale was appointed mayor of London. (Ibid., p. 562). He died shortly before 2 April 1330, leaving his son Edward 'aged 21 years and more' as his heir; his widow Margaret was still alive in October 1345. (Fine Rolls 1327-37, p. 170; Inq. Post Mortem 1327-36, pp. 209-10; Patent Rolls 1343-5, p. 569).
- Nicholas Kyriel (or Kryell or Cryel or Criol or Criel or Crioill, etc...)
It's a tad tricky to find Nicholas in the records as his family name can be spelt in so many ways! His mother was called Margery, his father, also Nicholas, died in September 1303 and his grandfather, also Nicholas, in 1273. (Fine Rolls 1272-1307, pp. 9, 483) Nicholas was born at the beginning of 1283, so was fifteen or sixteen months older than Edward of Caernarfon: he was said at his father's IPM in Kent in November 1303 to be then aged 20 years and 45 weeks. (Inq. Post Mortem 1300-07, pp. 102-3). He married a woman named Roesia - 'Rose' in modern English - and their son and heir John was born at Walmer in Kent on 29 September 1307. On 8 December 1325, Edward II appointed Nicholas "as captain and admiral of the king's fleet of ships as well of the Cinque Ports as of other ports and places on the coast from the mouth of the Thames westwards; with power of chastising and punishing the mariners and others of the
fleet." (Patent Rolls 1324-7, p. 197) Nicholas was still alive on 12 September 1326 when he's mentioned on the Close Roll as Edward II's admiral, but died sometime before 29 January 1327. His son John proved his age in August 1329, and his widow Roesia was given permission to marry whomsoever she wished of the king's allegiance in September 1334. (Close Rolls 1323-7, p. 647; Patent Rolls 1334-8, p. 6; Fine Rolls 1327-37, p. 1; Inq. Post Mortem 1327-36, pp. 191-2)
- Thomas de Vere, son of the earl of Oxford
Thomas was the son and heir of the obscure Robert de Vere, earl of Oxford (1257-1331), the only earl who played no part whatsoever in Edward II's reign, and Margaret Mortimer, daughter of Roger Mortimer, lord of Wigmore (d. 1282). This makes Thomas a first cousin of Roger Mortimer, first earl of March (1287-1330), and he was also a first cousin of John de Warenne, earl of Surrey (1286-1347), whose mother was Joan de Vere. Thomas was born in the early 1280s or thereabouts and thus was slightly older than Edward of Caernarfon, and died childless in 1329, predeceasing his father the earl by about two years. Robert de Vere's successor as earl of Oxford was therefore his nephew John, born in 1311 or 1312, son of Robert's curiously-named younger brother Alphonse de Vere (named in honour of Eleanor of Castile's brother Alfonso X, perhaps?). Earl John married Maud Badlesmere, and they were the parents of Thomas and Aubrey de Vere, earls of Oxford, and the grandparents of Robert de Vere, earl of Oxford and Richard II's notorious 'favourite'.
- Fulk Fitzwarin ('Fulcius filius Warini')
A Marcher lord, latest in a long line of noblemen named Fulk Fitzwarin, and a descendant of the famous outlaw Fulk Fitzwarin of the early thirteenth century immortalised in a well-known medieval romance and in Elizabeth Chadwick's novel Lords of the White Castle. This Fulk was born in about 1285, so was more or less the same age as Edward of Caernarfon, and married a woman named Eleanor. His father, inevitably also called Fulk Fitzwarin, died shortly before 28 December 1315. (Fine Rolls 1307-19, pp 264, 268). Fulk served in the retinue of Edward II's first cousin and deadliest enemy Thomas, earl of Lancaster, but switched sides, and joined Edward in his 1321/22 campaign against the Contrariants and Lancaster. (J.R. Maddicott, Thomas of Lancaster 1307-1322, pp. 46-7, 55-6, 304-5). I did a lot of research on Fulk for my article 'The Adherents of Edmund of Woodstock, Earl of Kent, in March 1330', as he joined Kent's plot to free Edward of Caernarfon and was ordered to be arrested on 10 March 1330, nine days before Kent's execution. Fulk fled the country; his wife Eleanor was granted forty marks annually for her sustenance, and his sons Fulk (of course!) and Ivo were held in some form of captivity 'safely and honourably without duress' in Shrewsbury, where they remained until at least 8 October 1330. Fulk and his sons' lands and goods were taken into the king's hands in April 1330, but after Isabella and Roger Mortimer's downfall a few months later, Edward III invited him to return to England and restored his property. ('Adherents', pp. 782, 801-2).
- John Somery
Lord of Dudley in Worcestershire, son of Sir Roger Somery who died in 1291 and grandson of another Sir Roger Somery who died in 1273, and born in about 1280; his mother Agnes died in November 1308, and he was said to be twenty-eight then. (Inq. Post Mortem 1307-27, p. 57; Fine Rolls 1307-19, p. 32). The fact I like most about John Somery is that in 1311 Edward II ordered a commission of oyer et terminer regarding the alleged defamation of John by Sir William Bereford, chief justice of the Court of Common Pleas, who claimed that John "has obtained such mastery in the county of Stafford that no one can obtain law or justice therein; that he has made himself more than a king there; that no one can dwell there unless he buys protection from him, either by money or by assisting him in building his castles; and that he attacks people in their own houses with the intention of killing them, unless they make fine for his protection." (Patent Rolls 1307-13, p. 369) Another great fact, at least as far I'm concerned: John held the manor of Dunchurch in Warwickshire for life, demised to him by the one and only Stephen Dunheved. (Fine Rolls 1319-27, p. 185)
John Somery was a household knight of Edward II, and was loyal to him throughout his reign, being appointed, for example, to seize Thomas of Lancaster's great castle of Kenilworth during the Contrariant campaign of 1321/22. (Fine Rolls 1319-27, p. 107). John was summoned on 21 July 1322 to attend the king's disastrous final campaign in Scotland due to take place in the autumn of that year, but in fact had already died, shortly before 2 July 1322. (Patent Rolls 1321-4, pp. 186, 196; Fine Rolls 1319-27, p. 147). John left a widow Lucy, but no children, and his heirs were his sisters Margaret and her husband John Sutton, and Joan, the widow of Thomas Botetourt. (Fine Rolls 1319-27, p. 188).