10 November, 2019

10 November 1347: Death of Hugh Audley, Earl of Gloucester

Hugh Audley, made earl of Gloucester by his wife Margaret's first cousin Edward III in 1337, died on 10 November 1347. He was the only one of Edward II's male 'favourites' who survived Edward's reign, and lived long enough to become a respected elderly statesman, a million miles from the frivolous young knight who, with Roger Damory and William Montacute, dominated the middle years of Edward II's reign and who were collectively slammed as 'worse than [Piers] Gaveston' by a chronicler.

Hugh was the second son of Hugh Audley the elder of Stratton Audley in Oxfordshire, who acted as justice of North Wales for part of Edward II's reign and who was briefly steward of Edward's household in 1312. Hugh the younger had an older brother, James, who was their father's heir but is rather obscure and played little role in Edward II's reign. Hugh Audley the elder was also a second son; his elder brother was Nicholas Audley (d. 1299), whose sons Thomas (d. 1307) and Nicholas (d. 1316) I wrote about recently. Hugh Audley the elder married a woman named Isolde, the mother of his children, who was long believed to have been a member of the Mortimer family. Genealogist Douglas Richardson, however, made the excellent discovery in 2017 that Isolde was in fact the daughter of Sir Roger le Rous (d. 1294), sheriff of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. As well as their sons James and Hugh Audley, Hugh Audley the elder and Isolde le Rous had a daughter Alice, who married firstly Ralph, Lord Greystoke (1299-1323) and secondly Ralph Neville, lord of Raby. Alice Audley's grandson, also Ralph Neville, was made first earl of Westmorland in 1397. Isolde le Rous was married firstly to Walter Balun, who died in 1287, so can only have married Hugh Audley the elder in 1288 or later. Their second son Hugh Audley, earl of Gloucester, was probably born in the early 1290s or thereabouts.

Hugh the younger joined Edward II's household as a knight in late 1311, around the time that Piers Gaveston was sent into his third exile. On 28 April 1317, Hugh married Piers' widow Margaret de Clare, the king's niece. Their only child Margaret the younger, ultimately the elder Margaret's sole heir after her other daughter Joan Gaveston died in early 1325, was born at an uncertain date, probably in the early 1320s. When the elder Margaret died in April 1342, her daughter was said to be either 18 or 20 years old, and when Hugh died in late 1347, she was said to be either 24 or 26. Both Hugh and Margaret were imprisoned after the battle of Boroughbridge in March 1322, so the latest their daughter can have been born was about nine months later, i.e. in late 1322.

Hugh Audley escaped from prison at Nottingham Castle sometime after 14 December 1325, though his wife Margaret, presumably with their little daughter in tow, was not released from Sempringham Priory in Lincolnshire until 11 December 1326. Hugh's brother-in-law and greatest rival Hugh Despenser the Younger had been executed two and a half weeks before, and had Despenser and Edward II not fallen from power in late 1326, Hugh and Margaret would certainly have remained in captivity, perhaps for many more years. Hugh Audley was obviously in Queen Isabella's favour after her husband's downfall in and after late 1326, as she granted him numerous appointments and favours, though like many others, Hugh grew sick of the grasping, self-interested regime which had replaced another grasping, self-interested regime and joined the earl of Lancaster's rebellion against the dowager queen in late 1328. Things improved after Edward III's coup in October 1330, and the young king made Hugh earl of Gloucester, the title once held by his wife's de Clare family, in 1337.

Hugh lost his wife of almost exactly a quarter of a century when Margaret de Clare died in early April 1342, six years after their daughter and heir Margaret the younger was abducted by and forcibly married to Sir Ralph Stafford, later first earl of Stafford. The Staffords had two sons and four daughters, and after their first son the younger Ralph died sometime between November 1344 and November 1347, the Audley/Stafford heir was their second son Hugh Stafford, named after his maternal grandfather. Hugh Audley, earl of Gloucester, died on 10 November 1347 in his mid or late fifties. His grandson Hugh Stafford and granddaughters Elizabeth, Joan and Beatrice Stafford all had children, and although Hugh Audley only had one child, he has untold numbers of descendants.

25 October, 2019

Eleanor Despenser (née de Clare) and her Two Husbands

Edward II's eldest niece Eleanor Despenser née de Clare was widowed from her first husband Hugh Despenser the Younger on 24 November 1326 when she was thirty-four years old, after twenty and a half years of marriage. A week previously, Eleanor - closely associated with the greedy and despotic regime of her uncle and husband - had been imprisoned in the Tower of London, and was released by her much younger first cousin Edward III (or rather, by someone acting in the fifteen-year-old king's name) in February 1328. She was restored to the lands she held as her inheritance from her late brother Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester (1291-1314) later in 1328.

Sometime not too long before 26 January 1329, Eleanor was abducted from Hanley Castle in Worcestershire by her second husband William la Zouche, lord of Ashby in Leicestershire (now called Ashby de la Zouch). [1William had previously been married to the dowager countess of Warwick, Alice Beauchamp née Toeni (d. 1324), mother of his children Alan and Joyce, and was much Eleanor Despenser's senior, born probably in the 1270s or in 1280 at the latest. He was old enough to fight at the battle of Falkirk in 1298. William la Zouche was the son of Robert Mortimer of Richard's Castle in Herefordshire and Joyce la Zouche, and began using his mother's family name in the early 1300s; his elder brother Hugh Mortimer (d. 1304) was their parents' heir, and Hugh's two daughters and heirs were the same age as Eleanor Despenser. In contemporary records, William often appears as 'William la Zouche de Mortimer'. The Mortimers of Richard's Castle were only fairly distantly related to the much more famous Mortimers of Wigmore, earls of March. [2]

Eleanor Despenser married William la Zouche before 26 January 1329, when her abduction (or 'abduction') reached the ears of royal clerks, who recorded it on the Patent Roll. It is not at all clear whether she consented to the marriage or not. William had been appointed as the custodian of all her lands, including the great lordship of Glamorgan in South Wales, in May 1327 during Eleanor's imprisonment in the Tower of London. By marrying her, William became the outright owner of all her lands rather than merely their custodian, so it is hard to imagine there was much romance involved in his wish to marry her. [3He had been one of the men who captured her uncle Edward II and husband Hugh in South Wales on 16 November 1326, and led the siege of her teenaged eldest son Hugh or 'Huchon' inside Caerphilly Castle from late 1326 to 20 March 1327 with a view to handing the young man over to Queen Isabella to be executed. This all makes him sound like the husband from hell as far as Eleanor was concerned, but who knows, perhaps they had an understanding. William's previous marriage to a woman above him in rank, the dowager countess of Warwick, perhaps indicates that he was a man of some charm and appeal. Or perhaps he was ruthlessly determined to marry Eleanor the wealthy, fertile and partly royal widow and didn't much care what she thought of him and whether she consented or not. I honestly don't know.

Bizarrely, the young nobleman Sir John Grey of Rotherfield (Oxfordshire) also began claiming in early 1329 that he was Eleanor Despenser's husband, and royal clerks recorded the abduction of his supposed wife from Hanley Castle at the same time as they recorded the abduction of Hugh Despenser's widow Eleanor, without realising they were the same person.

Sir John Grey was eight years Eleanor's junior, born on 29 October 1300, and in January 1329 was a twenty-eight-year-old widower with a young son. [4Bad feeling persisted between John Grey and William la Zouche, and in October 1331 Grey accused Zouche of stealing his goods and six of his horses from Lechlade. Several months later, the two men quarrelled so badly that Grey came close to drawing his dagger on Zouche in Edward III's presence, whereupon he was arrested. [5] Why Grey claimed to be married to Eleanor is unclear; it may be that they had arranged to wed and that William la Zouche got in first, or perhaps they had been having an affair, or perhaps he was simply trying it on.

The bishop of Coventry and Lichfield finally settled the matter in mid-May 1333, declaring that William la Zouche was Eleanor Despenser's rightful husband. John Grey had complained to the bishop that William 'seized and ravished the said Eleanor, and detains her.' [6] By then, Eleanor had borne William a son, the youngest of her many children, named William after his father. The younger William la Zouche became a monk at Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset, was acknowledged as 'uncle' by Eleanor's grandson Edward, Lord Despenser and was granted an annuity by his Despenser kin, and was still alive in 1390. As for Sir John Grey of Rotherfield, he did marry again and had another two sons, and in later years was steward of Edward III's household and one of the founding members of the Knights of the Garter, so in the end did not do too badly despite losing out on marriage to Eleanor Despenser. He died in 1359 at the age of fifty-nine.

William la Zouche died in February 1337 leaving his and Alice Toeni's son Alan, born in 1317, as his heir, and Eleanor buried him in Tewkesbury Abbey in Gloucestershire, the de Clare and Despenser mausoleum and where she had buried her first husband in late 1330 as well. William had made Eleanor one of the executors of his will, though as it turned out, she only outlived him by four months and died at the age of forty-four in June 1337. It may be that they had made something of a success of their marriage, despite its unpromising start and despite John Grey of Rotherfield's years-long attempt to marry Eleanor instead. William and Eleanor appeared together before an 'official of Canterbury' sometime before May 1333 and described themselves as husband and wife, so it seems that Eleanor was happy to be William's wife and wasn't complaining about it, or using the whole strange situation to attempt to have her marriage annulled.


1) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1327-30, p. 422.
2) Complete Peerage, vol. 12B, p. 957.
3) Calendar of Close Rolls 1327-30, pp. 81, 121.
4) Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1317-27, no. 336.
5) Calendar of Fine Rolls 1327-37, p. 298; CPR 1330-34, pp. 203, 292; CCR 1333-37, p. 110.
6) Calendar of Papal Letters 1305-41, p. 394.

15 October, 2019

Book Giveaway: Philippa of Hainault

Today is the official release date of my biography of Edward III's queen Philippa of Hainault (c. 1314-69), the first biography of her since 1910. It was really exciting to have the chance to tell her amazing story. I have TWO free signed hardback copies of the book to give away! As always, the competition is open to everyone, wherever you are in the world; all you need is a postal address. To enter the draw, do one of the following:

1) Email me at: edwardofcaernarfon(at)yahoo.com.
2) Leave a comment here, with your email address, please, so I can contact you if you're a winner.
3) Send me a private message on my Edward II page on Facebook, also with your email address.
4) If you're on my friends list on Facebook, or if we follow each other on Twitter, you're also very welcome to send me a message there.

The deadline is 31 October 2019, so you have more than two weeks to enter. On 1 November, I'll email the winners and ask you for your postal addresses so I can send you your copies. Good luck!

09 October, 2019

9 October 1325: Edward II, Eleanor Despenser, and the Goldfinches

On 9 October 1325, Edward II gave ten shillings to one Jack the Trumpeter of Dover, who had bought forty-seven caged goldfinches for Edward to give to his niece Eleanor Despenser, and also paid his clerk Will of Dunstable to look after the birds until Eleanor took possession of them. I've often wondered why Edward bought forty-seven goldfinches particularly, as it seems such a random number; had he originally bought fifty, but three had died? What's also interesting is that the word appears in English in the otherwise Anglo-Norman text of the king's chamber account (now kept in the library of the Society of Antiquaries of London): goldfynches. Perhaps Edward's chamber clerks, good at French though they undoubtedly were, could not think what the French word for 'goldfinches' might be. I sympathise; neither do I, without looking on Google Translate. ("Errrrm, err, errrrm, finches d'or, maybe? Oh, apparently it's chardonneret. Who knew?")

Eleanor Despenser, now thirty-three years old, was about seven months pregnant at the time of this gift, and gave birth to a child - probably her youngest daughter Elizabeth, Lady Berkeley - at her uncle's manor-house of Sheen sometime shortly before 14 December 1325. She moved into Sheen soon before the gift of the goldfinches, and stayed there until she gave birth and presumably for a while afterwards as well. Edward also gave her gifts of caged larks and three swans on other occasions in 1325, and gifts of cash too. Eleanor's itinerary, where it can be discovered, reveals that she was at court with the king and with her husband, Edward's mighty favourite Hugh Despenser the Younger, most of the time in the 1320s. My book about Eleanor Despenser and her sisters Margaret Gaveston Audley and Elizabeth de Burgh, currently titled Powerful Pawns of the Crown, is coming out on 30 January 2020. In it - among much else, obviously - I take a look at the intriguing evidence for Eleanor's complex relationships with her uncle Edward II and with Hugh Despenser the Younger. My view is that Eleanor was a devoted supporter of both men, and was involved with Hugh's extortions up to her neck, even when they were aimed at her own sisters.

29 September, 2019

29/30 September 1308: Double Wedding of the de Clare and de Burgh Siblings

Edward II attended two weddings at Waltham Abbey, Essex on 29 and 30 September 1308: those of his eldest nephew Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester and Hertford, who was just seven years younger than his uncle and was now seventeen, and Gilbert's third and youngest sister Elizabeth de Clare, who was two weeks past her thirteenth birthday. (According to the Complete Peerage, which states that she was born in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire on 16 September 1295, but fails to cite its source.)

The de Clare siblings married siblings. Elizabeth's new husband was John de Burgh, eldest son and heir of Richard de Burgh, earl of Ulster (b. c. 1259), and Gilbert's new wife was Maud de Burgh, one of John's many sisters. The de Burgh siblings' dates of birth are not known, but John was probably some years older than Elizabeth de Clare, perhaps eighteen or so, and Maud would also have been in her teens. One of their sisters, Elizabeth de Burgh, had married Robert Bruce, earl of Carrick and future king of Scotland, in 1302, and was under house arrest in England from 1306 until 1314. (Elizabeth, much later, became the mother of King David II of Scotland, born March 1324, who married Edward II's youngest child Joan of the Tower.) Other de Burgh sisters included: Eleanor, probably the eldest, who married Thomas, Lord Multon of Egremont in Cumberland in 1295; Aveline, who married John de Bermingham, made earl of Louth by Edward II after John defeated Edward Bruce in battle in 1318; Katherine, who married Maurice FitzGerald, earl of Desmond; and Joan, who married Thomas FitzGerald, earl of Kildare.

As Elizabeth de Clare was barely thirteen years old, she was evidently considered too young to travel to Ireland and to cohabit with her husband, and seems to have spent the next year or a little more at Amesbury Priory in Wiltshire with her aunt Mary (b. 1279), Edward II's sister, a nun there. She gave birth to her son William de Burgh on 17 September 1312, the day after her seventeenth birthday, and was widowed in June 1313. Her father-in-law Earl Richard outlived his eldest son by thirteen years, and was succeeded as earl of Ulster in 1326 by his grandson, Elizabeth and John's son William. Gilbert and Maud de Clare, earl and countess of Gloucester, seem to have had a son born in 1312, according to several chroniclers; he may have been called John. Assuming he did exist, the little boy did not live long, and Countess Maud's claims to be pregnant after Gilbert was killed at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314 went on, and on, and on, until late 1316. Finally, Edward II had to admit that Gilbert's heirs were his three younger sisters Eleanor Despenser, Margaret Gaveston and Elizabeth de Burgh. Maud, dowager countess of Gloucester, died rather obscurely sometime in 1320 when she can hardly have been more than thirty, and was buried with her husband at the de Clare mausoleum of Tewkesbury Abbey in Gloucestershire.

15 September, 2019

Woking Palace, Surrey (Pics!)

The Surrey manor of Woking belonged to Philip, Lord Basset (d. 1271) - it's called 'Wocking' in his inquisition post mortem that year - and passed to his daughter Aline, countess of Norfolk (d. 1281), then to Aline's son and heir Hugh Despenser the Elder (1261-1326). Hugh was in possession of Woking from 1282, the year he came of age, until his execution on 27 October 1326, when, like all his many other lands across England, it became forfeit to the Crown. Woking was subsequently granted to Edward II's half-brother Edmund of Woodstock, earl of Kent (1301-30), and passed to Edmund's daughter and ultimate heir Joan of Kent (d. 1385), princess of Wales and countess of Kent, and to Joan's eldest son Thomas Holland (d. 1397) and his sons. Later, the manor belonged to Margaret Beaufort (d. 1509), granddaughter of Margaret Holland and mother of Henry VII, and her grandson Henry VIII spent a lot of time at Woking.

I've written previously about Hugh Despenser the Elder and his son Hugh the Younger's incarceration of the Scottish noblewoman and heiress Elizabeth Comyn (1299-1372) for eighteen months at Woking and Pirbright, a nearby manor also held by Hugh the Elder, in 1324/25. Most probably, Elizabeth was held at the manor-house of Woking, and although none of the buildings still there today date from the early fourteenth century, the fourteenth-century buildings would have stood on the same site.

Woking Palace stands on a large site bordered on one site by the River Wey and on the other sides by a moat. The Friends of Woking Palace website is here, with lots and lots of great info about the site and its history, and excavations which have taken place there; they're holding open days at the palace this weekend, though probably by the time you read this, it might be a bit too late to go! If you're on Twitter, follow them here. Funnily enough, a few people who grew up in the area or lived there for a few years have told me that they've never even heard of Woking Palace and had no idea it was there, and it does stand a long way from the road and is barely, if at all, signposted. I'm sure that will change.

01 September, 2019

My Talk in Byfleet, Surrey

The Surrey manor of Byfleet belonged to Edward II personally; Sir Henry Leyburne (uncle of Juliana Leyburne, d. 1367, countess of Huntingdon) gave it to him sometime before August 1312, when it appears on the Patent Roll as 'the king's manor of Byfleet'. On Tuesday, 10 September 2019, I'm giving a talk about Edward II, his life, his reign and his connections to Byfleet, in the village. The talk will take place at St Mary's Church Community Hall, 124 Church Road, Byfleet, Surrey, KT14 7NF, and doors open around 7.30pm on 10 September with the talk due to begin at about 8pm. Tickets cost £3 and are available at the door, and see Google Maps for the venue. If you're anywhere in the vicinity, do come along and listen! I'll be talking for about an hour or a bit more and I promise to make it entertaining :-)

25 August, 2019


Photos of various places in Lincolnshire and Rutland: Oakham Castle, Essendine, Kettlethorpe, Stow Minster, Temple Bruer, Somerton Castle.

Below is the great hall of Oakham Castle, Rutland, taken by my dad a couple of days ago. The castle was originally built in the late twelfth century. From 1300 to 1312, the castle and barony of Oakham were held as part of her dower lands by Margaret, countess of Cornwall, sister of Gilbert 'the Red' de Clare, earl of Gloucester (1243-95), and widow of Edward I's first cousin Edmund, earl of Cornwall (1249-1300). After Margaret died in September 1312, Edward II granted Oakham to his niece, who was also Margaret's niece and was her namesake, the younger Margaret de Clare, countess of Cornwall, Piers Gaveston's widow. (Most confusingly, between 1307 and 1312 there were two Margaret de Clares, countesses of Cornwall, in England.) After Margaret's second husband Hugh Audley joined the Contrariant rebellion of 1321/22 and they were both imprisoned (Margaret at Sempringham Priory), Edward II gave Oakham to his half-brother Edmund of Woodstock, earl of Kent. The Audleys retrieved it after the king's downfall in 1326/27.

Great hall of Oakham Castle.

The manor of Essendine in Rutland passed to Hugh Despenser the Younger's second son Edward Despenser (born c. 1310, killed fighting in Brittany in 1342) in 1334 after the deaths of Hugh's mother Isabella Beauchamp's first cousin Idonea Leyburne and her second husband John Cromwell. Edward's eldest son, the future lord of Glamorgan and his uncle Huchon's heir, Edward Despenser the Younger, was born in Essendine in March 1336. A small castle was here in the fourteenth century, though none of it still exists except earthworks and the chapel where Edward Despenser was baptised, which now, rather fascinatingly, is the village church. Here are some photos I took in early July; for more info on the church, see here on British History Online.

The church in Essendine.

Earthworks behind the church.
Another view of the church.

The small village of Kettlethorpe a few miles from Lincoln is famous for being the home of Katherine Swynford (d. 1403), long-term mistress and third wife of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, and the great-grandmother of Edward IV and Richard III. Below, the church of St Peter and St Paul in Kettlethorpe, where at least some of John and Katherine's four Beaufort children (John, Henry, Thomas and Joan) may have been baptised in the 1370s. I took the pics on a warm humid overcast morning this July.

Next to the church, where the Swynfords' manor-house would have stood.

Stow Minster is an ancient church full of rich and glorious delights, which include Anglo-Saxon doorways, a carving on a pillar of a Viking ship assumed to be c. tenth-century, part of a wall painting of Thomas Becket made within thirty or so years of his death, and an inscription on a tomb dated to c. 1300, in Middle English, which states "All men that be in life, pray for Emma [who] was Fulk's wife".

Carving of a Viking ship on a pillar inside Stow Minster.

Anglo-Saxon doorway inside the Minster.

King Philip IV of France and Pope Clement V destroyed the military monastic order of the Knights Templar in and after 1307. This is an extant tower of one of the many buildings the wealthy Templars owned in England, called Temple Bruer (see here for more info).

And finally, Somerton Castle, built by Anthony Bek, bishop of Durham and patriarch of Jerusalem, in the 1280s. Bek gave it to Edward II in 1309, and after Edward's deposition it passed to his son and heir Edward III. Edward III kept the king of France captured at the battle of Poitiers, John II, captive at Somerton for a while, and also imprisoned his cousin Margaret, countess of Norfolk, there after she married her second husband Sir Walter Manny without his permission. In c. late 1335, Sir Hugh Frene captured Alice de Lacy, countess of Lincoln, at her own castle of Bolingbroke a few miles away, forcibly married her, and took her to Somerton Castle.

I am extremely grateful to the owners of Somerton, Mr and Mrs Porter, for their kind hospitality and generosity in inviting me to Somerton and letting me have a good look around.

18 August, 2019

Joan Martin, Countess of Lincoln (d. 1322) and Nicholas Audley (d. 1316)

Joan Martin was one of the three children of William, Lord Martin, a landowner in the West Country and South Wales who was born c. 1257 and died not long before 8 October 1324. Joan's brother, also called William, was their father's heir, and their sister Eleanor Martin married firstly William Hastings (1282-1311), who was heir to his father John, Lord Hastings (1262-1313) but died before him, and secondly Philip Columbiers. William Martin the younger must have been born c. 1294, as he was said to be thirty years old at their father's inquisition post mortem on 23 October 1324, and died childless on 4 April 1326. In his own IPM of May 1326, William's sister Eleanor Columbiers was said to be either thirty years old and more or forty years old and more, hence was born sometime between the mid-1280s and mid-1290s. [1] Their other sister Joan, countess of Lincoln, was already dead by then, and it is impossible to estimate a date of birth for Joan that's anything but very approximate, or to know where she came in the birth order of the three Martin children. She might have been born as late as c. 1295/96, or perhaps a few years before that.

Joan married the widowed Henry de Lacy, earl of Lincoln, sometime before 16 June 1310, when Edward II gave permission for Joan's father William Martin to give three manors to 'Henry de Lacy, earl of Lincoln, and Joan his wife'. [2] Henry, whose mother was Italian, was a good forty or so years Joan's senior, born around 1250/51. He was widowed from his first wife Margaret Longespee, countess of Salisbury in her own right, at an uncertain date; Margaret is last mentioned on record on 8 October 1306, which mentions 'the ancestors of Margaret his [Henry's] wife, daughter and heir of William Lungespee'. [3] As it doesn't say 'Margaret late his wife' or similar, this can probably be taken as evidence that she was still alive then. Her inquisition post mortem doesn't survive, however, if one was ever taken, nor even a writ to take her lands into the king's hands on her death. Given that Margaret Longespee was a countess in her own right, I find the fact that even the year of her death is not known to be a little sad.

Joan's stepdaughter Alice de Lacy was born at Christmas 1281 and was a few years her senior. Joan's marriage to Henry, earl of Lincoln was a short one: he died on 5 February 1311, aged about sixty. Joan was no older than her early twenties, and may only have been fifteen or sixteen. She and Henry had no children, and Alice, married to Edward II's first cousin Thomas, earl of Lancaster, was her father Henry and mother Margaret's heir. The dowager countess Joan did homage to Edward II for her dower lands from her marriage to Henry on 22 April 1311, and received them on 22 May 1311. [4] Edward II granted the rights to Joan's re-marriage to his brother-in-law Ralph Monthermer, Joan of Acre's widower, on 17 March 1311 a few weeks after the earl of Lincoln's death. [5] 

Joan Martin married her second husband Nicholas Audley without Edward II's (or Ralph Monthermer's) permission sometime before 3 May 1313, when the king ordered their lands to be seized into his own hands for this trespass. The royal order was carried out on 6 June, though Joan and Nicholas received the lands back fairly promptly, on 26 July 1313. On that day, Nicholas Audley was one of four men who acknowledged a debt of 900 marks to Ralph Monthermer. [6] Nicholas was the second son of Nicholas Audley (d. August 1299), was the younger brother and heir of the late Thomas Audley, and was a first cousin of Edward II's great 'favourite' and nephew-in-law, Hugh Audley, later earl of Gloucester. Nicholas Audley the elder's wife Katherine Giffard, mother of Nicholas who married Joan Martin, was, according to the Complete Peerage, born in 1272. She was alive on 16 February 1322 as a 'recluse' of Ledbury in Herefordshire. [7] Oh, and for the record, the name 'Audley' is spelt in approximately 396 different ways in medieval documents, including Daudeleye, Aldithele and Aldethelegh.

Nicholas's elder brother Thomas Audley was named as their father Nicholas's heir in September 1299, but died underage and childless sometime before 21 November 1307. [8] According to Nicholas the elder's IPM of September 1299, Thomas was 'aged 10 at the quinzaine of Easter last'. [9] Easter Sunday fell on 19 April in 1299, and the 'quinzaine of Easter' means two weeks after the feast, hence Thomas was supposedly born c. early May 1289. Thomas's own IPM of early 1308 says that his brother and heir Nicholas was 'aged 18 at the feast of St Martin last', which gives a date of birth of c. 11 November 1289. Clearly the two brothers can't have been born little more than six months apart. Edward II ordered an official to give Nicholas his lands on 27 March 1314 as he had proved his age (twenty-one) and done homage to the king; this seems very late for a man supposedly born in November 1289, as Nicholas would have been twenty-four by then. At any rate, whether he was truly born in 1289 or later, Nicholas was heir to his family's manors in Shropshire, Staffordshire and Wales. After Thomas Audley died in 1307, Edward II gave custody of the Audley lands during Nicholas's minority to - who else? - Piers Gaveston, who passed them on to his cousin Bertrand Caillau of Gascony. [11]

Joan Martin and Nicholas Audley's son James Audley was born at Kneesall ('Knesale') in Nottinghamshire either on c. 2 January 1313 or on roughly the same date in 1314; his proof of age is a little confusing. It was taken on '3 March, 9 Edward III', which is 1335, and says he was '21 years of age on Monday next after the Circumcision last'. The feast of the Circumcision is 1 January and the Monday after it fell on 2 January in 1335, so this seems to give James's date of birth as 2 January 1314, but in the proof of age, one of the jurors stated that 'on the day of the Purification, 6 Edward II, after the said James was born, he [the juror] had a son named Adam born at Knesale'. The feast of the Purification in Edward II's sixth regnal year was 2 February 1313, and apparently James Audley had already been born by then. Nine other jurors also stated that James was born in the sixth year of Edward II's reign, which ran from 8 July 1312 to 7 July 1313. James's father Nicholas and uncle William Martin's IPMs give his date of birth as either 2 January 1312, or 1 or 6 January 1314. [12] January 1312 seems much too early for Joan Martin to have borne a child to her second husband given that her first husband only died in February 1311. Even January 1313 seems a little early for the birth given that Edward II only found out about Nicholas and Joan's unlicensed marriage in May that year. If James Audley was born in January 1313, he must have been conceived in April 1312 and therefore it would seem that Joan Martin and Nicholas Audley had been married for a good long while before the king found out about it, though of course it's not necessarily the case that they were already married when they conceived James.

The marriage of Joan Martin, dowager countess of Lincoln, and Nicholas Audley proved tragically short; Nicholas died at the age of twenty-seven (or perhaps even younger) sometime not long before 6 December 1316, leaving his and Joan's son James as his heir. [13] Joan acknowledged an enormous debt of £10,000 to her father William Martin on 29 May 1318, and William stated that the 'recognisance shall be annulled in case Joan marries with his assent and counsel or in case she remain single during his life.' [14] Joan never did marry again, and died before 27 October 1322, only in her late twenties or early thirties. [15] Her father William outlived her, and her nine-year-old son James Audley was named as her heir in her inquisition post mortem and as co-heir, with his aunt Eleanor Columbiers, to his maternal uncle William Martin the younger in 1326. In December 1322 a few weeks after Joan's death, her father William Martin the elder was granted custody of the Audley lands which his grandson James Audley would inherit when he came of age. [16]

Edward II had given James Audley's marriage to Roger Mortimer of Wigmore, later first earl of March, on 9 December 1316 shortly after the death of James's father Nicholas. James was probably only three at the time. [17] He duly married Roger's daughter Joan Mortimer, and they had children Nicholas, Margaret and Joan Audley, born c. the late 1320s and early to mid-1330s. After Joan Mortimer's death, James Audley married a woman called Isabel, and, confusingly, had another daughter called Margaret with her. Nicholas Audley, his father's heir and named after his paternal grandfather (d. 1316), married Henry, Lord Beaumont's daughter Elizabeth but they had no children; Joan married John Tuchet or Touchet (b. 1327); Margaret the elder married Roger Hillary; and Margaret the younger married Fulk Fitzwarin. James Audley lived until 1386 when he was probably seventy-three, and his son Nicholas died in his early sixties in 1391. As Nicholas had no children, his heirs to his sizeable inheritance were his full sister Joan's twenty-year-old grandson John Tuchet, who became Lord Audley, his full sister Margaret Hillary, and his half-sister Margaret's two-year-old grandson Fulk Fitzwarin. [18]


1) CIPM 1272-91, no. 440; CIPM 1317-27, nos. 563, 710.
2) CPR 1307-13, p. 230.
3) CPR 1301-7, p. 463.
4) CCR 1307-13, pp. 314-15, 346, 348-9.
5) CPR 1307-13, p. 334; CFR 1307-19p. 170.
6) CFR 1307-19, p. 170, 172; CCR 1307-13, p. 535; CCR 1313-18, pp. 4, 67.
7) Complete Peerage, vol. 1, pp. 338-9; CFR 1319-27, p. 99.
8) CPR 1307-13, p. 17.
9) CIPM 1291-1300, no. 536.
10) CCR 1313-18, p. 44.
11) CPR 1307-13, p. 17; CIPM 1307-17, no. 62.
12) CIPM 1317-27, nos. 56, 710; CIPM 1327-36, no. 699.
13) CIPM 1317-27, no. 56.
14) CCR 1313-18, pp. 614, 617.
15) CIPM 1317-27, no. 371.
16) CFR 1319-27, pp. 190-91.
17) CPR 1313-17, p. 574.
18) CIPM 1384-92, nos. 1062-76.

10 August, 2019

Isabella, Gaveston and Those Wretched Jewels

Sad, though not entirely surprising, to see Wikipedia repeat this annoying myth. See here and here.

The source for this statement, note number 22, is a book about England's queens-consort published in 2008. Here's the relevant passage:

Notice that the author doesn't cite a source for this allegation. (Incidentally, the 'magnificent 18,000-pound dowry' is wrong; although Philip IV did originally discuss giving his daughter a dowry of 18,000 livres tournois or 'pounds of Tours', the equivalent of 4,500 pounds sterling, he ultimately decided that her 'dowry' would be the duchy of Aquitaine, over which he and Edward I had battled for many years.) Agnes Strickland in her Lives of the Queens of England, volume 2, p. 131, published in the middle of the nineteenth century, first invented the notion that Edward II gave jewels to Piers Gaveston which Isabella considered rightfully hers. The passage is below. Notice that Strickland doesn't claim that Gaveston actually wore Isabella's jewels in front of her or went 'peacocking about' in them; that appears to be a fictional invention that appears in some twentieth-century novels about Edward II and Isabella of France which has found its way into non-fiction.

Yet even here, Strickland doesn't claim that the gifts were Isabella's, only that she 'resented' her husband giving his own gifts to Gaveston and was displeased about items she considered her own 'heirlooms' being given to someone else. Later writers picked up her claims about Isabella's resentment and displeasure - for which she didn't cite any source - and ran with them, until eventually we reach the whole nonsense about Gaveston prancing around in jewels which Edward has bestowed on him and which actually belonged to Isabella. The source for this entire story is the Annales Paulini, which states: "The king of France gave to his son-in-law the king of England a ring of his kingdom, the most beautiful bed ever seen, select war-horses, and many other extravagant gifts. All of which the king of England straight away sent to Piers [Gaveston]." As I've pointed out before, this in no way states that Philip gave these gifts to Isabella, or even to Isabella and Edward jointly. They were Edward's own wedding gifts from his new father-in-law, and why would Philip IV give his daughter war-horses anyway? Philip 'gave' the items to Edward, and Edward 'sent' them to Gaveston, his regent of England while he was in France to marry Isabella. There's no real indication that Gaveston was meant to keep the items permanently, and Isabella is not even mentioned. Why would she consider these items her own 'heirlooms'? The gifts were given to Edward II. By the norms of the fourteenth century, anything given to Edward legally belonged to Edward. Anything given to Isabella legally belonged, also, to Edward. When Isabella wanted to make her will when heavily pregnant in October 1312, as a married woman she required her husband's permission to dispose of her goods, as legally everything she owned was his. In a fourteenth-century context, to suggest that Isabella would have considered items given to her husband to be her own, to be 'part of her dower', makes no sense. And only one of the gifts given to Edward by Philip was jewellery anyway, the ring, unless perhaps the other 'extravagant gifts' included other pieces of jewellery. So where on earth has this nonsense about Gaveston 'peacocking about in Isabella's jewellery' even come from, and why are books of allegedly serious non-fiction repeating it as fact?

Agnes Strickland's books, and her prejudices, have proved extraordinarily influential and enduring. She often cites the St Albans chronicler Thomas Walsingham as a source for Edward II and Isabella, as though a man who was born c. the 1340s and died in c. 1422, the year Edward and Isabella's great-great-great-grandson Henry VI succeeded to the throne, is in any way a reliable source for things that happened in 1308. The letter Isabella supposedly sent to her father complaining that she was 'wretched' comes straight from Walsingham. Strickland, however, living and writing in the Victorian era - she was born in the late eighteenth century - can be forgiven for her prejudices and for her misreading or misunderstanding of fourteenth-century sources in Latin. For her time, she did incredible research and her contribution to medieval scholarship was immense, and we should acknowledge her as a pioneering female historian. Modern writers who copy her prejudices and her misconceptions, however, and who don't check the primary sources for themselves, and repeat stories told in novels as though they're fact, cannot be so easily forgiven.

Also, Edward did not 'refuse' to grant Isabella her own lands: he gave her his county of Ponthieu on 14 May 1308, three months and seven days after her arrival in England. This is another modern myth, created - like numerous other modern myths - by a writer determined to find examples of Isabella's alleged suffering and victimisation at the hands of her husband everywhere. The usual dower lands given to the queen of England were still held by Edward's stepmother Queen Marguerite, and alternative arrangements had to be made. The widow of Edward's nephew the earl of Gloucester, killed at Bannockburn on 24 June 1314, did not receive her dower lands until mid-December 1314 nearly six months later, and in 1317 it took almost another six months to partition Gloucester's lands for his three sisters. Philippa of Hainault married Edward III in January 1328, and received no lands for more than two years, until February 1330. And Edward II gave Isabella a household of almost 200 people, far larger than that of any previous queen of England, so I haven't the faintest idea where this 'refused to give her a household' comes from. But who cares about silly things like facts and about being fair when you can further the Victim!Isabella agenda?

04 August, 2019

The Long Life of Margaret Hydon (c. 1278-1357)

A post about a woman whose existence I've only very recently discovered and who fascinates me! She lived so long that when she died, her heirs were her grandson who was almost forty years old, and her three great-granddaughters.

Margaret Hydon of Devon was born sometime before 23 April 1278 as the daughter and heir of Sir Richard Hydon, whose inquisition post mortem was held during Edward I's thirteenth regnal year from 20 November 1284 to 19 November 1285, and Isabella Fishacre. Margaret inherited lands, gardens and rents in various villages in Devon from her parents, and married Sir Josce or Joice or Joyce Dinham (or Dynham*) before 23 April 1292, when the couple are said to have held the Devon manors of 'Hydon and Clyst' from the recently-deceased Sir Hugh de Courtenay in Courtenay's IPM. Courtenay had sold Margaret Hydon's marriage rights to Josce's father Sir Oliver Dinham (c. 1234-99) on Monday, 12 April 1288 for £100. [1] As she and Josce were in possession of the late Richard Hydon's manors on 23 April 1292, Margaret must then have been of age, i.e. fourteen for a married woman, and therefore was born before 23 April 1278. Josce was the son and heir of Oliver Dinham, and was aged '24 and more' or '26 and more' at his father's IPM in March 1299, placing his date of birth around 1273/75. He inherited lands in Devon, Somerset and Cornwall from his father. [2]

* The name also sometimes appears as Dinan, Dinant or Dynaunt.

Margaret Hydon and Josce Dinham's first son John Dinham was born in Nutwell, Devon on 14 September 1295 when Josce was about twenty or twenty-two. [3] As Margaret must have been born in April 1278 at the latest, she was at least seventeen when she gave birth and was perhaps older. Her mother Isabella Fishacre was present at Nutwell when John was born, and a knight called John Vautort later recalled how, on the second day after John Dinham's birth, he saw the infant lying in his grandmother's lap. John Dinham was baptised by the chaplain of his paternal grandfather Oliver Dinham, who was then also still alive, and one of his godfathers was called Henry Daumfroun. He received a gold ring as a baptism gift from Sir Reginald Clifford. Margaret held a feast to celebrate her son's birth, and Sir Nicholas Kyrkham was one of those who received an invitation to attend, ten days after John was born. John Dinham's proof of age taken on 21 September 1316 also reveals that Margaret Hydon had a sister, name not provided, who married someone called Roger Novaunt; the sister and Roger sent a servant to Margaret with a present (also not specified) after John's birth. As the unnamed sister was not a co-heir to their parents' lands, and as she married a man of considerably lower rank than Margaret did, she was almost certainly an illegitimate daughter of Margaret's father.

Margaret gave birth to her second son Oliver Dinham perhaps in 1297/98, and both her sons had descendants; the Dinhams held Nutwell Court in Devon for centuries. She was widowed on 30 March 1301 when Sir Josce Dinham died in his twenties, having outlived his father Oliver by only two years. Josce died abroad; Edward I gave him, 'gone beyond seas', permission to appoint Margaret Hydon's maternal uncle Peter Fishacre as his attorney on 25 March 1301 just five days before Josce died, and on 26 December 1300 Josce had received letters of protection for 'going beyond seas'. The writ for his inquisition post mortem was not issued until 24 May 1301, implying that news of his death took a few weeks to reach England. [4] Josce's father Oliver, 'on account of his debility and his good service to Henry III and the present king [Edward I]', also appointed Peter Fishacre as his attorney on 5 April 1297, for life. Margaret 'late the wife of Joceus de Dynham' received her dower later in 1301. [5] She was to remain a widow for a good few years, though Edward I gave (or sold) the rights to her re-marriage to Robert Beauchamp on 20 July 1302 and then again to Warin Martyn on 28 July 1304. [6] On 2 August 1301, the king ordered Margaret to 'deliver the body of the heir of the said Joyce', i.e. her son John Dinham, to the executors of Edward's late cousin Edmund, earl of Cornwall (1249-1300), 'to be married'. Edmund's executors were also granted custody of two-thirds of Josce's lands; Margaret held the remaining third as dower. [7] John Dinham was not yet six years old.

Sometime before 24 January 1309 when she was in her early thirties or a little more, Margaret Hydon married her second husband Sir Gilbert Knovill(e) without the licence from the king - Edward II, by this time - that was necessary for tenants in chief and their widows. On that date, Edward ordered an official to seize Margaret's lands as she had married Gilbert without either his permission or the permission of Warin Martyn, who owned the rights to her marriage. [8] Gilbert Knovill was associated on a commission of oyer et terminer with Margaret's father-in-law Oliver Dinham in Devon on 8 May 1290, so she had probably known him for a long time, and he was active in the county where Margaret lived and where she held her own lands and much of her dower. He owned one manor in Devon, one in Somerset and one in Herefordshire. [9] Gilbert was much Margaret's senior; his son John Knovill from his first marriage was about forty years old in 1314 so was born around 1274 or so, and Gilbert was one of the men ordered on 14 July 1273 to travel overseas to meet Edward I, so was clearly an adult then. Gilbert's son was most probably older than Margaret or at least about the same age, so Gilbert himself must have been considerably older than she. Gilbert Knovill was very active on commissions of oyer et terminer and on military campaigns for decades, from the 1270s until June 1310 or a little later. His first wife Hawise was still alive on 22 November 1301. [10]

Gilbert Knovill died sometime before 7 May 1313, when a grant of land by Henry de Whyteleye to Margaret Hydon calls her 'Margaret who was wife of Gilbert de Knouill, knight'. On 27 July 1313, Edward II ordered three men to investigate a theft in a Devon park belonging to 'Margaret late the wife of Gilbert de Knoville'. [11] For some reason, however, Edward did not order Gilbert's lands to be taken into his own hands, as always happened when a tenant in chief died, until 1 February 1314. Gilbert's son John Knovill, aged about forty, received permission to enter his late father's lands on 8 May 1314. [12] The Complete Peerage suggests that the date of 27 July 1313 when Margaret was called 'late the wife' of Gilbert was an error for 27 July 1314, but the author failed to spot the grant of land to her on 7 May 1313 which makes it clear that she was already a widow then. Edward II had pardoned her stepson John Knovill for marrying 'Alice late the wife of William Basset' without his permission on 17 January 1309; marrying without asking the king first obviously ran in the family. Like Margaret's first husband Josce Dinham, her stepson did not survive his father for very long: John Knovill was dead by 23 January 1317, leaving his three daughters Cecily (then aged eight; she later married Peter Achard), Eleanor (five; later married John Duyn) and Amy (two; later married Thomas Ercedekne) as his heirs. [13]

Margaret Hydon was given permission by Edward II to go on pilgrimage to the shrine of St Edmund in Pontigny, France, on 18 July 1322. She married her third and last husband, Sir Peter Ovedale or Uvedale, sometime before 24 September 1324 when Edward II pardoned her - again! - for marrying without his licence, and restored her and Peter's lands. [14] In stark contrast to Margaret's second husband Gilbert, who was much her senior, Peter was much her junior. He was the first son of Sir John Ovedale and Mary de Campania, and was born in Saxilby, Lincolnshire on 9 August 1290. With his aunt Isabel Briddeshale, his mother's younger sister, he was named as one of the two co-heirs of his maternal grandfather Peter de Campania ('of Champagne'), a landowner in Lincolnshire, in early 1296. Peter Ovedale, named after his maternal grandfather, who was also his godfather, was the heir of his father, Sir John Ovedale, and inherited four manors in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Surrey when John died in March 1322. [15]

John Ovedale's IPM of April 1322 states that Peter was then 'aged 26 and more', which would seem to place his date of birth in c. 1295/96, but actually he was thirty-one going on thirty-two at the time; his proof of age confirms his date of birth as 9 August 1290, 'the eve of St Laurence, 18 Edward I'. At any rate, Peter Ovedale was at least a dozen years younger than his new wife Margaret Hydon, and was only five years older than his stepson John Dinham. As Margaret came from and held lands in Devon, as had her two previous husbands, it's rather interesting to contemplate how she came to know Peter, whose lands lay in distant Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. She must have been past her mid-forties at the time of their wedding, so it seems highly unlikely that Peter Ovedale expected to have any children from his marriage; he had a younger brother, John Ovedale, so perhaps was happy enough for their family's manors to pass to him. Peter had huge problems with his stepmother Isabel, his father John Ovedale the elder's third wife: he petitioned Edward II in or soon after 1322, stating that when he went to Surrey after his father's death but before the inquisition post mortem was held, "Isabel came into the church of St Margaret in Southwark with 23 armed men and assaulted him there and wounded his men." [16]

Peter had joined the retinue of Hugh Despenser the Younger on 30 August 1316, and there was talk that he might marry Hugh's widowed sister Isabella, Lady Hastings, for which he would pay Hugh 400 marks. His name was spelt 'Pieres de Ouedale' in the indenture. [17] For whatever reason, this planned marriage never took place, and Peter waited a few years before marrying (unless he married another woman who died, sometime between 1316 and 1324, but there's no record of this that I know of). Peter went to Gascony on Edward II's service during the war of St-Sardos sometime between 3 August and 24 September 1324, so was overseas when the king pardoned him for marrying Margaret without royal permission. [18] Sir Peter Ovedale died sometime before 2 May 1336 in his mid-forties. [19] Unfortunately no inquisition post mortem exists for him, though presumably his heir was his younger brother John Ovedale. Even though Margaret was at least a dozen years older than Peter and probably more, she outlived him by more than two decades.

Margaret's first son Sir John Dinham also married a woman called Margaret, whose identity is, as far as I'm aware, not entirely certain. Edward I gave John Dinham's marriage to Sir William Grandisson 'for the use of his eldest daughter' on 23 August 1301, though there's also a suggestion, from a doctoral thesis of 1998, that she came from the Botreaux or Boterels family. John Dinham, born in September 1295, was a very young father: his wife Margaret was purified on 7 July 1311 after giving birth to their eldest daughter Joan, meaning that Joan Dinham was born forty days (most probably, or possibly only thirty days) before that. [20] John Dinham therefore was a father at only fifteen years old, and Margaret Hydon became a grandmother in her early or mid-thirties. By the time she married Peter Ovedale in 1324, her eldest grandchild Joan Dinham was thirteen or almost. Margaret's son John and his wife later had sons John and Oliver as well before John died in 1332. In 1346, the younger Margaret, widow of John Dinham (1295-1332), sent a petition to the pope which talked of 'her legitimate sons, John de Dynham, knight, and Oliver de Dynham'. This would seem to imply that she had an illegitimate child or children as well, most unusually for a fourteenth-century noblewoman. [21] Margaret Hydon's grandson Sir John Dinham the younger, elder of John and the younger Margaret's two sons, born on 3 May 1319, was murdered by robbers on 7 January 1383.

As well as outliving three husbands, Margaret Hydon outlived both her sons John Dinham (1295-1332) and Oliver Dinham (c. 1297-1342), and died on 15 May 1357, aged at least seventy-nine and probably more. Her inquisition post mortem, calling her both 'Margaret Dynham' and 'Margaret Douvedale' (i.e. 'de Ovedale'), was held in Exeter on 8 June 1357, and her grandson John Dinham was said in it to be 'aged 30 years and more', though he was actually much closer to forty. He was heir to some of her lands; her great-granddaughters, Margaret aged nine, Ellen aged seven and Isabel aged six, children of her younger son Oliver's son Oliver (1325-51), were the others. [23] According to this site, Margaret was buried next to Peter Ovedale in St Mary's Church, Hemyock, Devon, in a chantry chapel they themselves had founded.


1) CIPM 1272-91, no. 590; CIPM 1291-1300, no. 31, p. 28; Cornwall Record Office, AR/37/5.
2) CIPM 1291-1300, no. 532.
3) CIPM 1317-27, no. 62.
4) CIPM 1300-07, no. 44; CFR 1272-1307, p. 441; Complete Peerage, vol. 4, p. 371; CPR 1292-1301, pp. 559, 581.
5) CPR 1292-1301, p. 246; CCR 1296-1302, pp. 457, 467, 502-3.
6) CPR 1301-7, pp. 46, 244; CPR 1307-13, p. 211.
7) CPR 1292-1301, p. 603.
8) CFR 1307-19, p. 36.
9) CPR 1281-92, p. 399; CIPM 1307-17, no. 434.
10) CPR 1272-81, p. 11; CPR 1292-1301, p. 582; CPR 1301-7, p. 3.
11) Cornwall Record Office, AR/1/874 and 875; CPR 1313-17, p. 56.
12) CFR 1307-19, pp. 188, 197; CIPM 1307-17, no. 434.
13) CPR 1307-13, p. 150; CIPM 1317-27, no. 16; CIPM 1327-36, no. 260; CIPM 1352-60, no. 384.
14) CPR 1321-4, p. 181; CCR 1323-7, p. 223.
15) CIPM 1291-1300, no. 360; CIPM 1307-17, no. 421; CIPM 1317-27, no. 310.
16) The National Archives SC 8/331/15652.
17) Catalogue of Ancient Deeds, A.8019.
18) CCR 1323-7, pp. 223, 315; CPR 1324-7, pp. 17, 24.
19) Complete Peerage, vol 4, p. 372; vol. 12B, p. 199.
20) Calendar of Chancery Warrants 1244-1326, p. 132 (grant of John's marriage to Grandisson); CIPM 1327-36, no. 540: the proof of age of Andrew Braunche's proof of age mentions Joan Dinham's birth.
21) Petitions to the Pope 1342-1419, p. 114.
22) Cornwall Record Office, AR/37/11: a grant from Margaret the daughter-in-law to her son John Dinham, dated 'Wednesday Invention of the Cross, 14 Edward III', i.e. 3 May 1340, and stating that John is 'today of full age'.
23) CIPM 1352-60, no. 384.

28 July, 2019

Clothes and Hairstyles of Edward II's Era

Men of Edward II's era wore their hair long, at least to chin level and often to the shoulders, parted in the middle and falling either side of the face. A lot of men seem to have been clean-shaven or to have worn a moustache without a beard, though depictions of Edward II himself as an adult always show him with a full bushy beard, and a carved stone face in the great hall of Caerphilly Castle which may represent Hugh Despenser the Younger seems to show him with a goatee-style beard (though it's become very worn over the centuries, so I might not be totally correct on that point). It certainly shows Hugh, assuming it really is he, with long flowing hair. The effigy in Tewkesbury Abbey of Hugh's eldest son and Edward II's eldest great-nephew Hugh or 'Huchon', who died in 1349, shows him clean-shaven, though other effigies of the fourteenth century, such as Hugh Despenser the Younger's nephew Hugh Hastings (d. 1347), depict men with moustaches. The effigy of Edward II's grandson Edward of Woodstock, prince of Wales (1330-76) shows him with the typical drooping moustache of the period. Edward III's effigy shows him with a long beard, and his queen Philippa of Hainault (c. 1314-69) on her own effigy wears an elaborate reticulated head-dress (where the hair was encased on either side of the head in bags made of gold or silver thread), a tight-fitting cote hardie (see below) laced up the front, and a narrow, very long hip belt.

Women, or at least noblewomen, wore their hair very long and pinned in bunches over their ears, kind of like Princess Leia. Both men and women covered their heads, men with a coif, hat or hood, and women with a coif, hood, veil or more elaborate head-dress. You can see illustrations here and here from the Luttrell Psalter, which dates to late in Edward II's reign or in the first few years of his son's, showing how women of the era dressed and how they covered their hair. The seal of Edward II's niece Eleanor (de Clare) Despenser, however, seems to show her with long flowing hair, partially hidden under a veil, though it's hard to tell.

Below are the effigies in Tewkesbury Abbey of Eleanor de Clare and Hugh Despenser the Younger's son and heir Huchon and his wife Elizabeth Montacute (d. 1359), sister of the earl of Salisbury and the countess of March. Huchon, in common with most or all contemporary effigies of noblemen, is wearing a helmet, chainmail and a jupon, I presume it is (I know almost nothing about armour so there's not a great deal else I can say), while Elizabeth is shown with a square head-dress that was surely the height of fashion in the middle of the fourteenth century.

Here are the effigies of Thomas, Lord Berkeley (d. 1361), Edward II's custodian in 1327, and his second wife Katherine Clivedon (d. 1385), which show Thomas with a moustache and Katherine with a square head-dress very similar to the one worn by Elizabeth Montacute some decades earlier.

Below are two photos of the gorgeous and amazing effigy, in Much Marcle, Herefordshire, of Blanche, Lady Grandisson (d. 1347), Thomas Berkeley's sister-in-law, one of the eight daughters of Roger Mortimer (d. 1330), first earl of March, and Joan Geneville (d. 1356). You can see that Blanche's hair is gathered at the sides of her head, covered with a veil and then with another head-dress or coif that comes to a peak at the front, and that her neck, chin and forehead are covered with a wimple. Blanche's sister Katherine, countess of Warwick (d. 1369) wears a rounded head-dress on her effigy; you can see the folds of her gown and the stitching on the bodice and the tight sleeves. Trying to visualise what Blanche must have looked like, only the part of her face between her eyes and mouth would have been visible; the rest was covered with cloth.

Here is a gorgeous illustration from the Luttrell Psalter of Sir Geoffrey Luttrell (d. 1345) on his horse, which is draped in material bearing his coat of arms, with his wife Agnes Sutton and their daughter-in-law Beatrice Scrope. It gloriously illustrates women's fashions of the era: a sideless gown worn over an undergown of a contrasting colour, sleeves and gown trimmed with fur, the sleeves of the overgown shorter than those of the undergown. Notice how the ladies both wear a transparent veil which falls right down their backs.

Edward II bought eighteen ells of 'bright blue English cloth', at twenty pence an ell (an ell: forty-five inches), to make cotes hardies od les chapons, 'cotes hardies with the hoods', for the wives of five of his chamber servants in early 1326. A cote hardie was a close-fitting garment with long sleeves worn by both men and women and buttoned or laced up the front. Legs were covered with hose, a kind of leggings, and in June 1326 during a hot summer, Edward purchased linen to make hose for his archers. He also often purchased black, grey or white russet cloth to make tunics (cotes is the Anglo-Norman word used) for his low-ranking household staff. Russet was a cheap, coarse cloth, and cost between twelve and fourteen pence per ell. By way of contrast, when the king bought rick silk fabrics such as camoca for his great-nephew Hugh 'Huchon' Despenser, who, being the eldest great-grandchild of Edward I and the grandson of two earls, was of high noble birth, the fabrics cost between forty-eight pence and 120 pence per ell. In 1324, Edward bought six pieces of otter-skin, at four pence per piece, to make a jerkin for one of his squires.

A tunic which Edward bought for one of his chamber pages in 1326 was said to be 'in the style of Gascony', but what this meant, and how the style differed from English fashions, was not explained. Likewise, when Edward as prince of Wales bought silk and other fabrics to make tunics for people acting in the plays he was putting on in May 1306, the tunics were said to be 'in the Gascon fashion'. In late 1325, the king bought exceedingly expensive black and vermilion medley cloth - black and vermilion were both very costly dyes, and medley was a kind of dyed in the wool cloth - to make elbow-length cloaks for nine of his carpenters. This was a colour combination Edward II obviously liked, as in 1322 he bought courtepies (short jackets or doublets) for his chamber squires in the same colours. Mi-parti, i.e. cloth divided vertically in two colours, was popular in Edward's reign, and striped cloth was also popular. The servants who worked in the royal household or in noble households received their clothes twice a year, at Christmas and Pentecost, and were colour co-ordinated; in 1314, for example, Thomas, earl of Lancaster gave his knights yellow cloth, his clerks red medley, and his squires striped cloth. In late 1325, Edward had aketons (padded jerkins often worn under armour) and coat-armour made for his great-nephew Huchon Despenser, then probably seventeen, which were in the Despenser colours, red, yellow and black. Edward also paid to have matching caparisons made for Huchon's horses.

Sumptuary laws, the regulations that dictated what different strata of society were allowed to wear, were not yet officially in force in Edward II's reign, but unofficially they were, and it would have been immediately obvious what rank a person held from the material, style and decoration of their clothes. Edward II forced his cousin Thomas, earl of Lancaster to wear the striped cloth which the squires of Thomas's household wore before having Thomas executed in March 1322, which was intended as a deliberate humiliation of a man of royal birth. At Edward III's coronation in early 1327, commentators pointed out that Roger Mortimer, later the first earl of March, dressed his sons so that they looked like earls. This was also not explained, but evidently there was a certain way in which earls dressed, and various extant wills from later in the century make it apparent that those of comital rank wore coronets. The will of Edward II's grandson Lionel of Antwerp, duke of Clarence, in 1368 talks of the gold circlet that was placed on his head during the ceremony in 1361 when he was made a duke.

There aren't a huge number of references to the clothes worn by Edward II himself, though in 1315/16 he spent £627 on cloth for himself and his household, and in April 1316 bought two tunics for himself which were made of scarlet (expensive woollen cloth, not the colour) and bought sixteen ells of green medley for two further tunics and two tabards. Both the king and other royals wore miniver, fur of the Baltic squirrel, in winter, which was massively expensive. From Edward II's accounts, it's apparent that he often wore hats and caps, though again, rather frustratingly, the shape and style of the hats is not clear. In 1326, for example, the king wore one hat made of black velvet, lined with miniver fur and 'powdered with diverse animals', several of vermilion velvet, one decorated with bells, another of white velvet lined with miniver fur, and a second of white velvet lined with green velvet and decorated with gold trefoils. The king also sometimes wore crowns: he bought two of gold studded with rubies, pearls and emeralds in 1326 and another of silver, and also bought a gold chaplet. Finally, there is a reference to a retiring-robe Edward owned, which was red with saffron stripes and embroidered with bears. Cuuuuuuute.

Further Reading

Ian Mortimer's Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England contains a chapter on clothing of the fourteenth century, and there are books about medieval clothes on Amazon.

19 July, 2019

Following in the Footsteps of Edward II

My latest book, Following in the Footsteps of Edward II, is out now in the UK. It's a guide to Edward II and his reign via the places that were important in his life: his birthplace of Caernarfon, the battlefield of Bannockburn and Stirling Castle, Kenilworth Castle, where he was forced to abdicate his throne to his son, Berkeley Castle, where he supposedly met his death in 1327, and many others. It's shorter than my other books and is meant as a primer for people who'd like to learn more about Edward and his reign but perhaps aren't interested in reading a full biography, and is also intended for readers who'd like a tour guide to places in Britain associated with Edward II. So if you're planning a trip around Britain and are looking for historical sites to visit and places that Edward would have known, this one's for you. It's available on: Amazon; Book Depository (which has free worldwide delivery); the publisher, Pen&Sword; and other online retailers.

There are other titles published by Pen&Sword in the Following in the Footsteps series: the Princes in the Tower, Henry Tudor (i.e. Henry VII), and Oliver Cromwell.