19 July, 2018

An Attack on Tickhill Castle in Early 1326

On 23 March 1322, two 'Contrariants' were hanged in York: John, Lord Mowbray (b. 1286) and Roger, Lord Clifford (b. 1299/1300). The heirs of both men, understandably furious at Edward II, launched an attack on the royal castle of Tickhill a little under four years later. Here's a post about it.

John Mowbray's heir was his son John, born in Hovingham, Yorkshire on 29 November 1310 [CIPM 1327-36, no. 250] and hence only eleven years old when his father was executed in March 1322. Despite his youth, John was imprisoned in the Tower of London with his mother Alina née Braose and was still there in August 1323. I don't know when Edward II released him, but it was sometime before early March 1326. Roger Clifford was only in his early twenties when he was executed and had not married, so his heir was his younger brother Robert, born on 7 November 1305 and aged twenty in early 1326. [CIPM 1327-26, nos. 52, 77] The younger John Mowbray was still only fifteen then.

Despite the two men's youth, they managed to raise an armed force sometime around late February or early March 1326, and went to the town of Tickhill in Yorkshire. On the way they passed through Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire "with banners unfurled," a declaration of war on the king. Once at Tickhill, they besieged the royal castle there, and managed to capture it. They may have chosen this particular castle because its constable was Sir William Aune, a friend and ally of Edward II (and somewhat later a close associate of the criminal Coterel gang, and thus hardly an angel himself), or perhaps because it was convenient for them, or because it was lightly defended and reasonably easy to capture. Several men, how many is unclear, were killed during the assault on Tickhill.

News of young Mowbray and Clifford's capture of his castle at Tickhill came to Edward II's ears on 12 March 1326 at Merevale in North Warwickshire. He issued a "[c]ommission of oyer and terminer to Thomas le Blount, Philip de Somervill and Roger Hillary touching the persons who with John de Moubray and Roger [sic] de Clyfford, rebels and traitors, and others, came with banners unfurled to Burton on Trent, co. Stafford, and prevented the king's men and servants from passing through that town, killed some of them and committed other crimes in that town." The same commission was issued to "Henry le Scrop, Simon Ward, Roger de Somervill and Adam de Hoperton touching the persons who with the said John and Roger [sic] besieged the castle of Tykehill, co. York, killed the king's servants there, plundered the men of the town and committed other crimes." On 30 April, Edward II was still demanding that the commissioners found the "malefactors and other disturbers of the peace," but ordered them "not to molest or aggrieve" one Roger Curzon, who had been indicted before the commissioners but whom Edward pardoned on acknowledgement of a fine. Another of the men in Mowbray and Clifford's company was Thomas de Saundeby.

Having made their point - basically "yah boo sucks to you, we can take your sucky castles whenever we want, serve you right for executing our father and brother" - John Mowbray and Robert Clifford fled and were never captured. They either hid themselves somewhere in England, or went to the continent to join Roger Mortimer and the other enemies of Edward II and the Despensers and returned to England with them in September 1326. The two men were restored to royal favour and to their rightful inheritances in the new reign of Edward III early in 1327. John Mowbray's marriage was granted to Henry of Lancaster, earl of Lancaster and Leicester, on 28 February 1327, and probably the following year John married the earl's fourth daughter Joan. Their son John was born in 1340; their grandson Thomas Mowbray, born in 1367, was the first duke of Norfolk and the man whose duel with his second cousin Henry of Lancaster, duke of Hereford, was stopped at the last moment by Richard II in 1398. Robert Clifford married Isabel(la), sister of Thomas, Lord Berkeley, in 1328, and their second son Roger, born 1333, continued the Clifford line.

Sources: CPR 1324-7, p. 287; CCR 1323-7, p. 569; CCR 1330-3, p. 99 (attack on Burton and Tickhill); CPR 1327-30, p. 26 (Mowbray's marriage).

13 July, 2018

The Great Drought of 1326

Most of northern Europe has been going through an unusually long dry warm spell for the last few weeks and months, and everywhere I go at the moment I see brown, scorched grass and withering or dead vegetation. I've never seen the local stream run so low; sometimes it's a torrent, currently it's a trickle. The same weather conditions occurred in 1326, the last summer of Edward II's reign. Here's a post about it.

The earliest reference I know of to the heat of 1326 is in Edward II's chamber account: on 12 June, while he was at the archbishop of Canterbury's manor of Sturry in Kent, he gave a gift of linen cloth to the eight archers who formed his bodyguard because they had "run fast and well" alongside him in the hot weather. This implies that the hot dry weather had begun well before 12 June. The French Chronicle of London confirms this, saying that shortly before the Nativity of St John the Baptist, that is, 24 June, the weather was so hot and dry that fires burst out spontaneously in various places (as has happened this year, on Saddleworth Moor near Manchester). It talks of the "great dryness" throughout all the country. There was a severe shortage of water in many or most areas, and the River Thames ran so low that it was flooded by seawater and the ale made from the water tasted vile. In late July 1326, Edward II ordered a man near Walton-on-Thames to bring him fresh water from a well, surely another indication of the heat and dryness.

The annalist of St Paul's Cathedral also comments on the "great drought" throughout all England in 1326, and confirms the French Chronicle of London's statement that the Thames was flooded by seawater. People who owned animals had to lead them three or four leagues (i.e. three or four hours' walk) to find water for them. Fountains, rivers, streams, ponds and wells completely dried up, including Newport Pond in Essex, which was a league in circumference, and all the fish in the pond died. Edward II would have been lucky, therefore, if anyone had been able to find fresh water for him out of a well in late July. The dryness, the annalist says, continued well into the autumn of 1326.

I don't know when the weather broke, but the queen's invasion force arrived in England on 24 September 1326, and given that the St Paul's annalist states that the dry weather continued well into autumn, it seems highly likely that the country was still suffering from a severe lack of water at the time. Two chroniclers (the St Paul's annalist and the Anonimalle) say that when Edward II and Hugh Despenser the Younger were captured in South Wales on Sunday 16 November 1326, there was a great thunderstorm that lasted nearly all day. This seems like the pathetic fallacy or dramatic licence, except that two very different writers give the same tale. At least by mid-November 1326, then, the long period of dry weather had finally broken.

Sources
Society of Antiquaries of London Manuscript 122, pp. 66, 78

Annales Paulini 1307-1340, in W. Stubbs, ed., Chronicles of the Reigns of Edward I and Edward II, vol. 1 (1882), pp. 312-13

Croniques de London, ed. G. J. Aungier (1844), p. 50

07 July, 2018

The Ordeals of Elizabeth Hertrigg in 1312 and 1318

I seem to have written a lot about abductions of noblewomen on the blog: Elizabeth de Burgh in 1316, her sister Eleanor Despenser in 1329, their niece Margaret Audley in 1336, and Margaret Multon in c. 1316. Another famous one was Alice de Lacy, countess of Lincoln, by Hugh Frene in late 1335 or early 1336; I'll write about this one sometime too. Sadly the abduction of heiresses was all too common in the fourteenth century, and here's yet another that I don't believe I've seen mentioned anywhere before: the abduction of Elizabeth Hertrigg by Hugh Despenser the Elder in 1312, though this one did not result in forced marriage. The unfortunate Elizabeth was put through another horrible experience as well in 1318.

Elizabeth was the daughter and heir of John Hertrigg (the modern spelling is Hartridge), a tenant in chief who held lands in Berkshire, Sussex and Dorset, and her mother was called Nichola. Elizabeth Hertrigg was born either on 2 February 1303 or 1304: her father's Inquisition Post Mortem stated that she had either turned five or six years old "on the feast of the Purification last" in November 1309. John Hertrigg died before 24 October 1309 when the writ for his IPM was issued, and on 19 December, Edward II granted the rights to Elizabeth's marriage to one George Percy, called "king's yeoman." Elizabeth's mother Nichola was given a "mandate for the delivery of the body of the heiress" to Percy (this rather dehumanising language is typical of the era), but in fact it seems as though little Elizabeth remained with her mother rather than going to live in the Percy household. In February 1312, Elizabeth was living in Wambrook, Dorset, a manor which had belonged to her late father. [CIPM 1307-17, no. 212; CFR 1307-19, p. 50; CPR 1307-13, p. 203] Her mother Nichola was still in possession of Wambrook in 1330. [See here] Sometime before 29 January 1310, Edward II granted custody of the late John Hertrigg's lands, until Elizabeth came of age, to Hugh Despenser the Elder. [CCR 1307-13, pp. 190, 323]

On 22 February 1312 Elizabeth Hertrigg had recently turned either eight or nine years old, and was living at her late father's manor of Wambrook, Dorset (the village of Wambrook is now in Somerset) presumably with her mother Nichola. Officially she was in the custody of George Percy, who planned to marry her to his son John when she was old enough. Percy stated that Elizabeth was at Wambrook "under guard" (almost certainly for her own safety rather than because she wasn't allowed to leave!), but this made no difference to what was about to happen to her. Hugh Despenser the Elder sent 100 or more men "with force and arms" to abduct Elizabeth Hertrigg from Wambrook, and succeeded. The reasons for the abduction are not clear, but presumably had something to do with Despenser's custody of the lands of Elizabeth's inheritance. The 100 or more men who abducted Elizabeth on 22 February 1312 on Despenser's orders included Thomas le Artellet, Reginald Seint Cler, Thomas Wynslade, John Jorge, Robert Pyron, Adam Fraunceis, and John Pecche and his brother Nicholas. [George Percy's petition is TNA SC 8/259/12929] What's interesting about all this is that Edward II was at this time skulking in the north of England with Piers Gaveston, returned from his third exile, and Despenser the Elder was usually his close adherent and ally and was at court more often than not - yet was busily abducting a young girl at the other end of the country. As far as I can tell from the evidence of charter witness lists, Despenser did not return to court until July 1312, several weeks after Piers Gaveston's murder, when he met the king in London.  Given Despenser's loyal and devoted support of Edward II for the whole of his reign, it's hardly surprising to note that he does not seem to have suffered as much as a slap on the wrist for his illegal behaviour. That's the fourteenth century for you.

I don't know what happened to Elizabeth Hertrigg after her abduction by Hugh Despenser the Elder, but she married her guardian George Percy's son John sometime before July 1318, so evidently Despenser restored her to her guardian or to her mother at some point. That month or a little before, John Percy issued a complaint "touching the persons who had seized (rapuerunt) Elizabeth his wife at Shaldefeld Parva [nowadays Great Chalfield], co. Wilts, abducted her, and carried away her goods." [CPR 1317-21, p. 278] The translators of the Patent Roll used the word 'seized' for rapuerunt, and indeed it can mean that, or 'ravished.' The real meaning in this case, however, is made clear in an entry on the Close Roll in July 1319. Edward II ordered the sheriff of Wiltshire to "supersede until further orders the putting in exigent to be outlawed of John son of Ingelram Berenger, who was put in exigent because he was lately indicted in the sheriff's county court of the rape and abduction of Elizabeth wife of John Percy...John has surrendered himself to the king's peace and prison to stand to right concerning the above, and the king has meanwhile committed him to a certain keeper for safe-keeping." [CCR 1318-23, pp. 150-51; bold mine]

Sir Ingelram Berenger was said to be seven years old when his father John died in 1272, hence born c. 1265. His mother Christina, daughter and heir of Sir Matthew Wake, was born c. 1232. [CIPM 1216-72, nos. 128, 177, 794] Ingelram was a long-term adherent of Hugh Despenser the Elder (b. 1 March 1261) and served in his retinue for decades. And now his son had raped Elizabeth Percy née Hertrigg, six years after Despenser the Elder had sent 100 men to abduct her. Apparently the unfortunate Elizabeth was abducted from her home both in 1312 and in 1318, firstly in Dorset and secondly in Wiltshire. George Percy, Elizabeth's father-in-law and former guardian, complained also in July 1318 that ten men had stolen his goods at Great Chalfield, and evidently Elizabeth and her husband were living with his father in 1318. [CPR 1317-21, p. 278] I don't recognise most of the names of the ten men he accused of theft, but one was John son of Ingelram Berenger, and another was our old friend Malcolm Musard, certainly a Despenser adherent. It would seem that the feud, or quarrel, or whatever it was, that Hugh Despenser the Elder had begun against George Percy and his son and daughter-in-law in 1312 was continuing six years later, on the part of Despenser's adherents at least. It would also seem that some of the ten men who stole George Percy's goods in his Wiltshire home had decided to abduct and rape his daughter-in-law while they were at it. How unspeakably vile. Elizabeth was born in 1303 or 1304, so was still only fourteen or fifteen in 1318. She had been a young child when Despenser the Elder's men took her from her home, and was still only a teenager when this second hideous ordeal happened to her. John Berenger the perpetrator might have been the same age: at his father Ingelram's IPM in June 1336, John was said to be either 24 (clearly impossible as this would make him six years old in 1318) or 32 years old. [CIPM 1336-46, no. 27] If this is correct, he was also born about 1304 and was about fourteen in 1318. Edward II's statement that he had committed John to a keeper in 1319 probably also indicates that John was then underage.

John Berenger was released from prison at some point, I don't know when, and succeeded to his father's lands in 1336. His first wife Alice Stonor, daughter of Sir John Stonor (chief justice of the court of common pleas), died childless sometime after May 1332, and John married secondly a woman called Emma before January 1334. With her he had a son named Ingelram after his father, who was born around 19 June 1341 ("aged two years on Thursday next before the Nativity of St John the Baptist, 17 Edward III"). John died on 26 September 1343. Little Ingelram Berenger died soon after his father, and his IPM was held on 8 October 1344. This left the boy's sister Christina Berenger, John and Emma's daughter, as the Berenger heir, but she also died underage on 12 September 1349. [Hampshire Feet of Fines, CP/25/1/205/22, nos. 14, 50; CIPM 1336-46, nos. 467, 468; CIPM 1347-52, no. 297. Christina's heir was her cousin Nicholas Berenger, son of Nicholas, younger son of Ingelram the elder and brother of John.] John Berenger's widow Emma married secondly Sir Edmund Hakelut, had a son Leonard Hakelut around 1352, and lived until January 1380. [CIPM 1377-84, no. 241]

As for John Berenger's victim Elizabeth Percy née Hertrigg, she had a son from her marriage to John Percy called William Percy, who was probably born in 1337 (he was said to be two years old in late 1339). That's quite a late birth for a couple who married in or before 1318; perhaps they had fertility issues. John Percy died before 6 May 1339 when the writ for his IPM was issued, and in early March 1340 Elizabeth née Hertrigg was given permission to marry a second husband of the king's allegiance. By August 1343, she was married to William Burton. [CIPM 1336-46, no. 225; CPR 1338-40, p. 434; CCR 1343-6, p. 170; CFR 1337-47, p. 128] I haven't been able to find the date of her death, though she was still alive in October 1351. [CPR 1350-4, p. 173] According to this, Elizabeth and John Percy had two other children called John and Margaret, and an entry on the Patent Roll confirms that she had a daughter Margaret. Her second husband William Burton had a son called Thomas, and by June 1346 Thomas had married Elizabeth's daughter Margaret, i.e. his stepsister. [CPR 1345-8, p. 128]

Both George and John Percy had joined the household of Edward II's half-brother Edmund of Woodstock, future earl of Kent, by February 1320. [CPR 1317-21, pp. 419, 435] One very interesting postscript to this whole situation is that George and John Percy, and Ingelram Berenger, were all deeply involved in the earl of Kent's plot to free the supposedly dead Edward II from captivity in 1329/30. Another man involved was Sir John Pecche, presumably the same man who had helped the elder Despenser abduct Elizabeth Hertrigg from Wambrook in February 1312. George Percy, Ingelram Berenger, John Pecche and a fourth man, Fulk FitzWarin, lord of Whittington in Shropshire, were linked together in the chancery rolls as some of the earl of Kent's most important adherents. [CPR 1327-30, pp. 557, 565, CCR 1330-3, p. 95, and see my English Historical Review article from 2011 on Kent's adherents] Rebellion sometimes made strange bedfellows. I wonder what Elizabeth made of it all.

27 June, 2018

Poisoning Edward I and Edward of Caernarfon in 1298

I found this entry on the Patent Roll ages ago while searching for something else, and have finally got round to making a post about it. It's intriguing and puzzling!

Calendar of Patent Rolls 1292-1301, p. 459, dated 26 December 1298 (bold mine):

"Commission of oyer and terminer ['to hear and determine'] to Ralph de Sandwyco ['of Sandwich'] and Henry le Galeys ['the Welshman'], on the supplication of the appellees, touching an appeal which Landus Bonacursi of Lucca brings in London against Aldebrandus Malagaile and Berinus Mayamund, merchants of Lucca, for counterfeiting the king's great and privy seal and the seal of Edward the king's son, and for proposing to poison the king and his said son; and they are to hear and determine the appeal in the presence of Henry de Lacy, earl of Lincoln."

So why exactly were merchants of Lucca in Italy attempting to poison King Edward I and his son Edward of Caernarfon, who was only fourteen at the time, in 1298? Unfortunately I've been unable to find any more information about this curious and rather astonishing plot, or the men involved. Aldebrand(us) Malagal(e) appears on the Patent Roll in 1274 (CPR 1272-81, pp. 52, 54) as one of the merchants given permission by Edward I to trade wool in England, but why he decided nearly a quarter of a century later to poison the king and his son, I cannot imagine.

It's interesting to speculate about the succession to the English throne at the end of the 1200s. Let's say Edward I and his son Edward of Caernarfon had been successfully poisoned in 1298, and they both died. Edward I had not yet married his second wife Marguerite of France - their wedding took place on 8 September 1299 - and the births of their two sons Thomas of Brotherton and Edmund of Woodstock lay in the future, in June 1300 and August 1301. If Edward I died in 1298, his second marriage would never have taken place and Thomas and Edmund would never have existed, and neither would Edmund's daughter and ultimate heir Joan of Kent, her youngest son Richard II and her Holland children (and her eldest son Thomas Holland, died 1397, was the ancestor of basically everyone). Thomas of Brotherton was, via his daughter and heir Margaret (d. 1399), the ancestor of the Mowbrays and the Howards, so two of Henry VIII's wives would never have existed either. Neither would Henry VIII himself, a descendant of Joan of Kent and her son Thomas Holland as well as of Joan's uncle Edward II.

Edward of Caernarfon was Edward I's only living son between August 1284 and June 1300, and he himself, born April 1284, was of course too young to have produced any children by 1298. Edward I's only brother Edmund of Lancaster had died in June 1296, leaving his sons Thomas and Henry of Lancaster, who were about twenty and eighteen in 1298. According to a document Edward I produced in April 1290, however, if his son Edward of Caernarfon died without heirs of his body, the king wished the throne to pass to his eldest surviving daughter Eleanor, later countess of Bar, born in June 1269, rather to his Lancaster brother and nephews. Eleanor herself died in August 1298 four months before this entry about the plot to poison her father and brother appeared on the Patent Roll. She was only twenty-nine when she died, perhaps of complications relating to pregnancy or childbirth (though I'm only speculating). Her heir was her son Edouard, born in 1294 or 1295 and also heir to his father Henri's county of Bar in eastern France, and her only other child was Jeanne, later countess of Surrey, born in 1295 or 1296.

Had Edward I and Edward of Caernarfon died in late 1298, the rightful heir to the English throne was almost certainly a three or four-year-old French boy, Edouard of Bar. A curious and arresting thought. I wonder what would have happened if the would-be poisoners had killed the king and his only son? Would the English magnates have accepted little Edouard of Bar as their king and had him brought to England, or would Thomas of Lancaster, who had the benefit of being an adult and of being an Englishman, have made a bid for the throne? Edward I's only other grandson born by 1298 was Gilbert de Clare, heir to the earldoms of Gloucester and Hertford, born in 1291 as the son of Edward I's second daughter Joan of Acre, and the eldest grandchild of Edward I. Would his mother Joan have promoted the claims of her own child, who also had the advantage of being English, over those of her nephew Edouard of Bar? Joan of Acre was alive and in England, whereas her elder sister Eleanor was not, and Eleanor's widower Henri, count of Bar (d. 1302) had no political influence whatsoever in England. Would Joan have been able to push the claims of her son as King Gilbert over those of her Lancaster cousin as a potential King Thomas, and over those of her young nephew as an alternative King Edouard II?

On the other hand, Thomas of Lancaster had the mighty Lancastrian inheritance behind him, and his influential father-in-law Henry de Lacy, earl of Lincoln (who lived until 1311), might well have promoted his claims to the throne in the interests of seeing his daughter Alice crowned queen of England. Thomas was indisputably a grandson of Henry III (d. 1272) in the male line and equally royal on his mother Blanche of Artois's side, whereas Edward I's grandsons in 1298 were descended from him in the female line (Edward III and his younger brother John of Eltham, not born until 1312 and 1316, were Edward I's only grandsons in the male line). Self-interest might have been a much greater motivator for many powerful Englishmen than seeing a boy little more than a toddler and living in distant Bar-le-Duc crowned as their king, even if he was lawfully the next in line. Perhaps England would have seen civil war between the supporters of the would-be King Thomas versus the supporters of the would-be King Gilbert? And what might Philip IV of France have done? He invaded the county of Bar in 1297 as punishment for Henri III aiding his father-in-law Edward I against him, and in 1301 forced Henri to recognise him as his overlord for a large part of his territories. In 1298/99, might Philip have thought it worth his while to put his differences with Henri aside, and perhaps attempt to have the little Edouard of Bar installed as a client king of England? And if Edward of Caernarfon died in 1298, Philip's daughter Isabella, only about three years old then, would have lost her future husband, and would have had to marry someone else. King Fernando IV of Castile? Duke John III of Brittany? Hugh V or his younger brother Odo IV, dukes of Burgundy?

There are of course no answers to these questions as it's all hypothetical, but I do find it fascinating to speculate, and it's certainly true that for the sixteen years between August 1284, when his elder brother Alfonso of Bayonne died, and June 1300, when his half-brother Thomas of Brotherton was born, Edward of Caernarfon was the sole uncontested male heir to the English throne. His three elder brothers John, Henry and Alfonso all died in childhood, as did at least five of his older sisters, so certainly his father and others must have considered the possibility that he might die as well. Edward I was almost sixty years old at the end of 1298, and surely he and others must have contemplated the possibility that he would die before he fathered any more sons or before Edward of Caernarfon himself fathered any. (And as there were nine years between the death of Eleanor of Castile in 1290 and Edward I's marriage to Marguerite in 1299, he was hardly in a tearing hurry to marry again and father more children, and wed Marguerite as a means to end his war against Philip IV.)  I've previously written a post about Edward I and Queen Eleanor escaping from a fire in August 1283, at the start of Queen Eleanor's pregnancy with Edward II (born April 1284), and speculated what might have happened had they both died and their unborn son with them. This is another great what-if, fifteen years later.

21 June, 2018

The Marriage of Philip Despenser (d. 1313) and Margaret Goushill (d. 1349)

Philip Despenser was the younger of the two sons of Hugh Despenser the Elder, made earl of Winchester in May 1322 and executed on 27 October 1326, and Isabella Beauchamp (d. shortly before 30 May 1306), and was the younger brother of Hugh Despenser the Younger. Philip died in 1313 long before his brother's period of power as Edward II's chamberlain and 'favourite', and it's interesting to contemplate what kind of role he might have played in Hugh's regime if he'd still been alive.

None of the dates of birth of Hugh Despenser the Elder and Isabella née Beauchamp's six children are known, but Alina the eldest was probably born about 1287, and Hugh the Younger about 1288 or 1289. Philip Despenser the second son and almost certainly the fourth Despenser child overall (behind Alina, Lady Burnell, Hugh the Younger, and Isabella, Lady Hastings), first appears on record on 24 June 1294, when Hugh the Elder granted him two manors in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire and all his goods in them, and he may well have been born not too long before that. [E 40/3185; E 42/63; Close Rolls 1346–9, pp. 40, 223-4] Hugh the Younger, heir to all the sizeable Despenser/Basset inheritance, made a splendid marriage in May 1306 when he wed Edward I's eldest granddaughter Eleanor de Clare in the presence of the king. As Philip Despenser would not himself inherit anything*, his father arranged a marriage for him with Margaret Goushill, an heiress of Lincolnshire. Her father Ralph Goushill was a first cousin of Ralph, Lord Camoys, a long-term Despenser adherent who married Hugh the Elder's youngest daughter Elizabeth as his second wife a few years later.

* Though Philip's maternal uncle Guy Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, made him heir to some of his lands on 12 April and on 6 and 25 June 1306. This never came about as Warwick, then childless, married Alice Toeni some years later and had a son, Thomas, born in February 1314. [Patent Rolls 1301-7, pp. 427, 441, 447]

Philip Despenser and Margaret Goushill married sometime before 29 June 1308, probably not too long before, on which date Edward II (then in Bristol waving Piers Gaveston off to Ireland during his second exile) ordered her late father's lands to be given to them. [Calendar of Chancery Warrants 1244–1326, p. 275: "Mandate, as Philip le Despenser, who married Margaret daughter and heiress of Ralph de Goushull..."] Possibly Philip had recently turned fourteen when he wed, and Margaret was almost exactly the same age: she was born on 11 or 12 May 1294 (she was aged "half a year at the feast of St Martin next" in October 1294 and "aged one year on Ascension Day 23 Edward I"). She was born in a place called Whitington or Whittington, though there are several towns of this name in England and which Whittington was meant is uncertain; presumably the one nearest the county of Lincolnshire, where her family held their lands. Philip Despenser's Inq. Post Mortem says that Margaret was "17 on the day of St James last" in September 1313, which would give her a date of birth of 25 July 1296, but as her father Ralph died shortly before 30 August 1294 that is clearly impossible. [CIPM 1291-1300, no. 209; CIPM 1307-17, no. 472; CIPM 1336-46, no. 692] Ralph Goushill himself was born around 6 November 1274, so was not even twenty years old when he died. [CIPM 1272-91, no. 607] His widow Hawise née FitzWarin, Philip Despenser's mother-in-law, outlived him by half a century, and did not die until 1344.

Philip and Margaret's only child Philip was born on 6 April 1313 somewhere in Lincolnshire, and shortly before 24 September in the same year, Philip Despenser died, also in Lincolnshire. [CIPM 1307-17, no. 472] Most probably he had, like his father-in-law Ralph Goushill, barely even reached twenty years old, and, also like his father-in-law, died mere months after the birth of his only child. The younger Philip, born in 1313, married a woman named Joan, and they had a son Philip born in Gedney, Lincolnshire on 18 October 1342. Philip born in 1313, grandson of Hugh Despenser the Elder and nephew of Hugh the Younger, who were both executed when he was thirteen, died in August 1349 at the age of thirty-six, a few weeks before his son turned seven. His mother Margaret née Goushill died just a few weeks before he did. She had married her second husband John Ros, younger brother of William, Lord Ros of Helmsley in Yorkshire, before 22 April 1314; they had no children, and when John died in 1337 his heir was his elder brother William. [CIPM 1336-46, no. 182] The Philip Despenser born in 1342 had a son born around 1365. Bet you'll never guess what his name was.

14 June, 2018

The Dates of Birth of Joan and Elizabeth Comyn

In a post a few months ago about the marriage of the Scottish noblewoman Elizabeth Comyn and the English knight Sir Richard Talbot, I stated that I did not know where Elizabeth's exact date of birth was recorded. I've now found it, and her elder sister Joan's as well.

CIPM 1317-27, no. 697, is an inquisition dated 8 June 1326 into two manors in Northumberland formerly held by Sir John Comyn (d. 1314), son and heir of John 'the Red Comyn', lord of Badenoch (killed by his rival Robert Bruce in 1306) and now rightfully belonging to the younger John's two sisters and heirs, the other two children of John the Red Comyn. It states that Joan de Strathbogie née Comyn, countess of Atholl, was 'aged 30 on 10 May last,' and that Elizabeth Comyn was 'aged 26 at the feast of All Saints, 19 Edward II.' That means that Elizabeth was twenty-six on 1 November 1325 and thus was born on (or around) 1 November 1299, and her sister Joan was three and a half years older, born on 10 May 1296. The date of birth of Joan and Elizabeth's brother Sir John Comyn is nowhere recorded, to my knowledge. Perhaps he came between Joan and Elizabeth in the birth order, and was therefore born in 1297 or 1298, or he might have been older than Joan and thus was born in 1295 or earlier. He and his wife Margaret Wake had a son Aymer Comyn who died in 1316, but Aymer's date of birth isn't known either; he might have been several years old when his father fell at Bannockburn in June 1314, or just weeks or months old, or he might have been posthumous. Elizabeth Comyn's husband Richard Talbot is yet another man for whom we have no date of birth, though he is usually assumed to have been born in the early 1300s, perhaps 1302 or 1305. It seems almost certain that he was some years younger than his wife.

Another inquisition held a few weeks later on 24 July 1326 repeats that Joan de Strathbogie was eighteen when her brother John Comyn was killed at Bannockburn on 24 June 1314 and that she had outlived him by more than eleven years and was now dead, and that Elizabeth was fourteen when her brother died and was now twenty-six. The inquisition of 8 June 1326 states that Joan and Elizabeth 'are' John Comyn's heirs, in the present tense, so this seems to indicate that Joan died after 8 June and before 24 July 1326. Joan's inheritance passed to her son David de Strathbogie, said to be eighteen and a half years old on 24 July 1326. This would place his birth around the beginning of 1308, which would mean that Joan was not even twelve when her son was born. This seems vanishingly unlikely. The IPM of Joan's husband David de Strathbogie the elder, earl of Atholl, was ordered on 25 January 1327 - he died on 28 December 1326 - and records that the younger David was 'aged 20 on the feast of St Hilary last.' [CIPM 1317-27, no. 759] That would put his date of birth as 13 January 1307, i.e. when his mother (b. May 1296) was not even eleven, so that cannot possibly be correct. Other jurors on the elder David's IPM in March 1327 said that the younger David had turned eighteen at the last feast of the Purification, i.e. 2 February 1327, which would mean that David was born around 2 February 1309. His own proof of age, taken 4 April 1330 (CIPM 1327-36, no. 302), also seems to indicate that he was born in Newcastle-on-Tyne on 1 February 1309, though it is somewhat defaced. This still means that Joan de Strathbogie née Comyn was a terribly, painfully young mother, assuming that her age as confidently stated in the inquisitions of June and July 1326 is correct. Maybe it isn't and she was actually somewhat older. I certainly hope so.

09 June, 2018

Elizabeth de Burgh's Protest, May 1326

On 22 May 1326, Elizabeth de Burgh née de Clare dictated a document protesting against her appalling treatment at the hands of her uncle Edward II and her brother-in-law Hugh Despenser the Younger. The document fortuitously survives in a late fourteenth-century transcript of the Liber Niger de Wigmore, the cartulary of the Mortimer estates.* Here's a post about it.

Context: Elizabeth's third husband Sir Roger Damory, formerly the king's great favourite but edged out of Edward's affections by Hugh Despenser the Younger in and after late 1318, joined the Contrariant rebellion of 1321/22 against Hugh and Edward II, and died of wounds sustained while fighting against the royal army on 12 or 13 March 1322. Even before Roger's death, Edward II sent men to seize Elizabeth and her two young daughters (Isabella de Verdon and Elizabeth Damory) at Usk, and Elizabeth was sent to Barking Abbey in Essex for the next few months. She was released and officially restored to all her lands in November 1322, but in the summer of 1324 lost her great lordship of Usk thanks to the machinations of her brother-in-law Hugh Despenser the Younger. Elizabeth seems to have spent much of the period from late 1322 to late 1326 living quietly at her castle of Clare in Suffolk with her daughters, while her sister Margaret - whose husband Hugh Audley also joined the Contrariant rebellion - was incarcerated at Sempringham Priory and their eldest sister Eleanor enjoyed great influence as Edward II's beloved niece and Hugh the Younger's cosseted wife.

In May 1326, Edward II and Hugh Despenser the Younger - Elizabeth's sister Eleanor Despenser was also with them - were in Gloucestershire/Wiltshire, on the other side of the country from Suffolk. Perhaps feeling somewhat safer because they were so far away, Elizabeth decided to dictate a text to her close advisers and clerks Thomas Chedworth and John Diccus and a notary called John Radenhale, detailing what the two men had done to her. The text is in Anglo-Norman. Elizabeth wrote of Hugh as "Sir Hugh Despenser the son" and Edward II as "our lord, Lord Edward, king of England, son of King Edward" with more courtesy than they perhaps deserved, and without acknowledging her close familial relationships to both men. She described herself as "formerly the consort of Sir Roger Damory," and went on to describe in detail how the king had threatened her in York at Christmas 1322, just a few weeks after he released her and restored her to her lands.

Edward II ordered Elizabeth to spend Christmas 1322 with him in York, and after her arrival imprisoned her officials and councillors, thus leaving her alone and vulnerable. The king tried to force her to sign documents – documents "contrary to the law of the land" according to Elizabeth – renouncing all her claims to Usk and the rest of her inheritance in Wales. This was because Hugh Despenser wanted Usk, and a year and a half after this nasty little episode, he managed to take it from his sister-in-law (to cut a very long story short, he forced her to exchange Usk for his lordship of Gower, then deprived her of Gower as well). Elizabeth argued her corner, bravely stood up to her uncle and refused to sign, and eventually fled from court "in great displeasure." She had been on the long road back to Clare in Suffolk for five days when Edward sent men after her ordering her to return, or he would confiscate all her lands and never again allow her to hold even a foot of land from him (ne iammes plein pie de lui ne tendroie). An entry in the chancery rolls confirms her narrative: on 7 January 1323, Edward seized all her English lands into his own hands again. Here we see Edward II at his absolute worst: bullying his widowed niece, yelling threats at her, deliberately separating her from her advisers, even being willing to ride roughshod over the laws of his own kingdom and to deprive his own niece of a large part of her rightful inheritance. Truly appalling, inexcusable behaviour which shows the king in the worst light possible.

Elizabeth also claimed that Hugh Despenser the Younger was now in May 1326 "seeing the great calumny of the wrongs" he had done to her, and to deceive and damage her and to mislead the people was offering her lands of much lower value in compensation for Gower; but it was far too little and far too late. There is no record of this offer in any extant document, so perhaps Hugh went to see Elizabeth in person sometime before May 1326, or at least sent men to discuss it with her. Hugh and the king were in East Anglia from late December 1325 until early February 1326, and were certainly just a few miles from Elizabeth at her castle of Clare on a number of occasions. The 22nd of May 1326 when Elizabeth dictated her protest was, coincidentally, the twentieth anniversary of the mass knighting of Edward of Caernarfon, Hugh Despenser the Younger and more than 250 others, and four days away marked Eleanor de Clare and Hugh the Younger's twentieth wedding anniversary.

It was brave of Elizabeth to set down the wrongs committed against her by her uncle and her brother-in-law, and for sure she knew that Hugh Despenser had spies and informants everywhere. If he and Edward II had found out about it, she would have been in serious trouble. Just four months after Elizabeth dictated her protest document, on 24 September, her aunt-in-law Queen Isabella returned to England at the head of an invasion force, and landed in Suffolk just forty miles from where Elizabeth lived. It's hard to imagine that she wasn't delighted someone was at last taking action against her despised brother-in-law Hugh Despenser the Younger, and by mid-November 1326, even before Hugh's execution, Elizabeth was back at her castle of Usk.

* Cited in G. A. Holmes, 'A Protest Against the Despensers, 1326', Speculum, 30 (1955), pp. 207-12, which prints Elizabeth's text in the original French.

01 June, 2018

1 June 1326: Edward II Plays a Ball Game

From 31 May to 6 June 1326, Edward II and his chamberlain and 'favourite' Hugh Despenser the Younger stayed at Saltwood Castle in Kent. They stayed here for a serious purpose: Pope John XXII in Avignon had sent two men, the archbishop of Vienne and the bishop of Orange, to try to reconcile Edward and Queen Isabella. They asked Edward and Hugh questions in French, and later translated the answers into Latin for the pope.

While at Saltwood on Sunday 1 June, shortly before he met the archbishop and the bishop, Edward II decided to relax by going out into the park of Saltwood Castle with his household steward Sir Thomas Blount, the recently-married Sir Robert Wateville, and unspecified others, and playing some kind of ball game. His chamber account (written in Anglo-Norman) calls it iewer a pelot, literally 'playing at ball.' Unfortunately the type of ball game is not described. At Langdon Abbey in Kent a few months previously, on 25 August 1325, Edward II had given a shilling each to twenty-two men who had played some kind of ball game for his entertainment. The entry in his account states: "Paid to Wille of Langdon, Adam of Wy', and twenty others of their company, players of Kent at ball [iewours de Kent a pelot] in front of the king next to Langdon Abbey." Again, the type of ball game is not described, but twenty-two men sounds like two teams of eleven men, as in modern football or cricket.

The summer of 1326 was a spectacularly hot and dry one in England and Wales, and the first real evidence of this I know of comes on 12 June, when Edward II gave the eight archers who formed his bodyguard linen cloth to make themselves hose as their reward for 'running fast and well' alongside him in the hot weather. The ball game of 1 June also implies that it was a warm pleasant day and that the king felt like being outside in the nice weather. I hope they all had a good time.

29 May, 2018

The Marriage of Juliana Hastings and Thomas Blount

I've written a couple of posts before about the Kent heiress Juliana Hastings, née Leyburne, born 1303 or 1304: see here and here. I've also written one about the Hastings family of the early fourteenth century and the endless confusion about them in a lot of modern books and articles; some modern writers wrongly state that Juliana's son Laurence Hastings was the son of Isabella Despenser, who in fact was the stepmother of Juliana's husband John Hastings (but was several years younger than he was, and John's mother was also called Isabella, hence the confusion). Here's a shortish post about Juliana's second marriage.

Juliana née Leyburne's much older first husband John, Lord Hastings (b. September 1286), died on 6 January 1325, leaving his and Juliana's son Laurence, not yet five years old, as his heir. [CIPM 1317-27, no. 612] Sometime before 27 July 1325, Laurence was betrothed to Eleanor Despenser, third daughter of Hugh Despenser the Younger and Edward II's eldest niece Eleanor née de Clare. [CPR 1324-7, p. 153] She was about the same age as he, perhaps slightly older. At the beginning of 1327, Queen Isabella forced the young Eleanor Despenser and two of her sisters into convents and had them veiled as nuns, so this planned marriage never went ahead, and Laurence married Roger Mortimer of Wigmore's daughter Agnes instead.

I hardly know anything at all about Juliana's second husband Sir Thomas Blount and his family, but I assume he was a cousin of Sir William Blount, who married Margery de Verdon, third daughter and co-heir of Theobald de Verdon (d. 1316) and who was a close adherent of Edward II's first cousin Henry of Lancaster, earl of Lancaster and Leicester. William Blount died shortly before 3 October 1337, and his heir was his thirty-year-old brother John Blount. [CIPM 1336-46, no. 115] The Complete Peerage identifies Thomas as the second son and heir of Sir Ralph Blount of Belton, Rutland and his wife Cecily or Alice, daughter and co-heir of Sir John Lovett of Worcestershire. Thomas Blount was given letters of protection to accompany Henry of Lancaster overseas in May 1318, indicating that he shared William Blount's - his cousin? - Lancastrian adherence. [CPR 1317-21, p. 146] Like many other Lancastrians in and after 1322, Thomas Blount switched allegiance, and was appointed steward of Edward II's household in May 1325, replacing Sir Richard Damory. He held the position until the end of Edward's reign. Famously, he broke his staff of office at Kenilworth Castle in January 1327 to signify that the reign was over, and had not been one of the men captured with Edward on 16 November 1326, so evidently had abandoned him.

On 13 July 1325, Edward II issued the following: "Licence, out of affection towards Thomas le Blont, steward of the household, for Juliana late the wife of John de Hastinges, tenant in chief, to marry the said Thomas if she will, but if she will not then that which pertains to the king of her marriage shall be reserved to the king." [CPR 1324-7, p. 153] At some point shortly after that, Juliana did marry Thomas Blount, and it was at this time that her son Laurence was betrothed to Hugh Despenser the Younger's daughter. In January 1326, Thomas wrote to Edward II explaining that he would be somewhat delayed in returning to court as Juliana was ill, which implies a degree of marital affection between the couple and that Thomas cared enough about his wife's well-being to stay with her when she was ill rather than hasten back to court. Thomas's position as the king's household steward, however, did not prevent Hugh Despenser the Younger taking a manor in Norfolk which by right was part of Juliana's Hastings dower lands.

Juliana and Thomas had no children, and it may be that Juliana's experience of childbirth damaged her, as she had no more children after Laurence in 1320, either by John Hastings, Thomas Blount, or her third husband William Clinton, later earl of Huntingdon. She and Thomas were married for just three years. I've often seen 17 August 1328 given on genealogy websites as the date of Thomas Blount's death, but I have no idea what the source is; there's no Inquisition Post Mortem extant for him. The date must be more or less correct, however, as his lands were taken into the king's hands on 23 August 1328 because he was dead. [CFR 1327-37, p. 102]

Juliana was married to her third husband Sir William Clinton, younger brother of John, Lord Clinton, by 17 October 1328, when an entry on the Patent Roll referring to the bishop of London states "...with other advowsons, assigned to Thomas le Blount, now deceased, and Juliana his wife, formerly the wife of the said John de Hastyng, as her dower; that the said bishop may discharge his duty herein at the presentation of William de Clynton, her present husband." [CPR 1327-30, p. 404] This was only two months after Thomas Blount's death, which is a remarkably hasty re-marriage by the standards of the time. It might indicate that Juliana had not found her second marriage a happy one; it might indicate that she and William Clinton had fallen in love, or lust. Her third marriage lasted much longer than her second: until 1354, when William died.

25 May, 2018

John, Lord Multon of Egremont

On 25 May 1317, Edward II arranged the future marriage of his great-niece Joan Gaveston, then aged five and the only legitimate child and heir of the late Piers Gaveston, to John Multon, son and heir of Lord Multon of Egremont. See here for my previous post about the betrothal, and here's a short post about John Multon.

John's parents Thomas Multon and Eleanor de Burgh married in Ipswich at the beginning of January 1297, days before Edward I's youngest daughter Elizabeth of Rhuddlan married Count John I of Holland also in Ipswich. Thomas Multon was born on 21 February 1276 to an Irish mother called Edmunda la Botilere and her husband, inevitably also called Thomas Multon, so was not quite twenty-one when he married. [CCR 1288-96, p. 480; Complete Peerage, vol. 9, p. 403] As I pointed out recently, there were two branches of the Multon family of Cumberland in the north-west of England, and Thomas was Lord Multon of Egremont; the other Thomas Multon was lord of Gilsland. Thomas Multon of Egremont made an excellent marriage, as his wife Eleanor de Burgh was one of the many daughters of the Anglo-Irish magnate Richard de Burgh, earl of Ulster. His other daughters included Elizabeth, wife of Robert Bruce and queen of Scotland; Maud, who married Edward II's nephew the earl of Gloucester in 1308; and the countesses of Kildare, Desmond and Louth. Eleanor's eldest brother John de Burgh, their father's heir, married Edward II's niece Elizabeth de Clare in 1308. Eleanor's date of birth is not known, but her parents married in the early 1280s and she was one of their eldest children.

John Multon was the only son of Thomas Multon and Eleanor de Burgh, and had three sisters, at least one of whom was older than he. He was born either on 18 October 1307 ("aged 14 on the feast of St Luke last" in March 1322) or on 21 October 1308 ("aged 13 on the day of the 11,000 Virgins last" in March 1322). [CIPM 1317-27, no. 331] He was thus some years older than his fiancée Joan Gaveston, who was almost certainly the child born to Margaret de Clare and Piers Gaveston in York in January 1312. When they were betrothed in May 1317, Joan was five and John was eight or nine. As the grandson of the earl of Ulster - the eldest grandson, in fact - John Multon was born into a powerful family network which made him nephew of the king of Scotland, three Irish earls and the late earl of Gloucester (who was also Joan Gaveston's uncle, her mother Margaret's brother), and he was a first cousin of Edward II's great-nephew William de Burgh (b. 1312), heir to the earldom of Ulster. Another of his first cousins, John FitzGerald, heir to the earldom of Kildare, was betrothed to Hugh Despenser the Younger and Eleanor de Clare's second daughter Joan Despenser in 1323, but died soon afterwards at the age of nine.

Joan Gaveston died on 13 January 1325 probably just after her thirteenth birthday, before she and the teenaged John Multon could marry. John had already lost his father Thomas in February 1322 and most probably his mother Eleanor de Burgh in 1324, and his paternal grandfather the earl of Ulster died in July 1326. John was one of the men Edward II planned to take to France with him in September 1325, before the king changed his mind and sent his son Edward of Windsor instead. [CPR 1324-7, p. 169] Otherwise, John doesn't appear very often on record and it's difficult to say much about his life.

On 10 January 1327, when Edward II was still officially king of England but was in custody at Kenilworth Castle, John Multon's marriage was granted (by Queen Isabella, one assumes) to William la Zouche, presumably the man of this name who was lord of Ashby in Leicestershire and who at that time was leading the siege of the teenaged Hugh 'Huchon' Despenser inside Caerphilly Castle. [CPR 1324-7, p. 347] John Multon married a woman called Alice; I'm not sure of her identity. He died in November 1334, aged either twenty-six or twenty-seven. His widow Alice was pregnant when John's IPM was taken in January 1335, but she must have miscarried, or the child was stillborn or died young. [CIPM 1327-36, no. 628] As well as extensive lands in Cumberland, John owned lands in Lincolnshire and Suffolk, and as he left no surviving children, his heirs were his three sisters Joan, Elizabeth and Margaret. In December 1335, Joan was thirty, and was the widow of Robert FitzWalter; Elizabeth was twenty-seven and the widow of Robert Harrington; and Margaret was twenty-four and the wife of Thomas Lucy. By 1338 Elizabeth had married her second husband Walter de Bermingham. [CIPM 1327-36, no. 628; CCR 1337-9, pp. 468-96]