This weekend, I'd intended to write the second part of my Despenser War series, but I'm really busy preparing a two-day seminar I'm teaching on Monday and Tuesday and don't have enough time to sort out the tangled threads of Edwardian politics and battles! :) Instead, here's a post on two women of Edward II's (and Edward III's) reign: Alice de Toeni, countess of Warwick, and her daughter Juliana de Leyburne, countess of Huntingdon and mother of the earl of Pembroke. Both women were heiresses of their fathers and inherited lands in their own right; both women had three husbands. [More on the Despenser War soon!]
Alice de Toeni (or Tony or Tosny or Tosni) was born in 1283 or 1284, so was the same age as Edward II. Her father Ralph, or Raoul (1255-1295) was Lord of Flamstead in Hertfordshire; her mother Mary's parentage is unknown, but her paternal grandmother Alice was the daughter of Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford (great-grandfather of the earl of Hereford of Edward II's reign). The de Toeni family came over to England with William the Conqueror.
Alice's brother Robert, Lord de Toeni, was born on 4 April 1276, married the daughter of Malise, earl of Strathearn, but died childless in 1309, so Alice was her father's ultimate heir. The de Toeni lands included manors in Essex, Worcestershire, Wiltshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and the Welsh Marches, and were worth around £500 a year.
Alice's first marriage, to Thomas de Leyburne (or Leyburn or Leybourne), took place sometime around 1300. The marriage produced one child, Juliana, born in 1303 or 1304. Thomas was the son of William, first Lord Leyburn, who outlived his son and died in 1310. Thomas himself - about whom I know practically nothing, sadly - was dead before 30 May 1307, so Juliana was the sole heiress of her grandfather William. Her inheritance comprised extensive estates in Kent and Sussex.
The widowed Alice made an excellent second marriage in early 1309: to Guy Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, arguably Edward II's most implacable enemy. Guy was probably born in 1272, succeeded his father William Beauchamp as earl of Warwick in 1298, and was the younger brother of Isabel, wife of Hugh Despenser the Elder. He was thirty-six or thirty-seven at the time of his marriage to Alice; it's odd that he was still unmarried and childless at such an advanced age. It's possible that he was married to Isabella de Clare, elder daughter of Gilbert 'the Red', earl of Gloucester, by his first marriage; she and her sister were disinherited in favour of Gilbert's children by Edward I's daughter Joan of Acre. However, Isabella was at least eight or nine years Guy's senior, which would make it a very odd match, and if the marriage did take place, it had ended in divorce by the early 1300s. In 1306 Guy, concerned by his lack of heirs, made the decision to entail all his estates to his nephew Philip Despenser (younger son of Hugh the Elder), but his issue by Alice, and the fact that Philip died young in 1313, meant that this plan never came to fruition.
Guy was famously well-educated and cultured, possessing an extensive library, yet was the greatest opponent of Piers Gaveston and played a leading role in his murder; he was a 'cultivated, aristocratic ruffian' [T. F. Tout], the only earl whose opposition to Edward II was unrelenting. His name appears in contemporary documents as Guy de Bello Campo; this is comparable to Roger Mortimer, who was often called 'Roger de Mortuo Mari', and the name Beaumont is often seen as 'de Bello Monte'.
Guy and Alice's marriage was extremely fruitful. They had two sons and five daughters, in about six and a half years of marriage. Guy's heir, Thomas, later earl of Warwick, was born in February 1314 and (presumably) named after Guy's friend and ally, Thomas, earl of Lancaster. There was a younger son, John, who played a large role in the Hundred Years War, carrying the royal standard at Crecy in 1346, and daughters Maud, Emma, Isabel, Elizabeth and Lucia. All the children lived long enough to marry. (Either Alice was perpetually pregnant, or some of her children were multiple births).
Guy died at the age of forty-three in August 1315; rumour had it that he was poisoned by Edward II for his role in Gaveston's death, but modern historians give the story little credence. He left Alice some of his plate, a crystal cup, half his bedding and all the vestments and books of his chapel. The extreme youth of their son - about eighteen months old - was a huge problem. Thomas wouldn't receive seisin of the Beauchamp lands until he was twenty-one; in the meantime, they would come into the possession of the Crown, and the king had the right to give or sell custody of them to anyone he wished. In this situation, neglect of lands, and a subsequent drop in their value, was common. Not long before he died, Guy managed to wrest from Edward II a valuable concession - amazingly enough, considering their mutual enmity - that the executors of his will would have full custody of the lands until Thomas came of age. Unfortunately - and probably predictably - Edward II didn't keep the promise, and within two years, Hugh Despenser the Elder had gained possession of his brother-in-law's lands. [This was one of the articles of complaint against the Despensers in 1321, which I'll look at in my next post.] After 1327, possession passed to Roger Mortimer.
On or shortly after 26 October 1316, Alice married, as her third husband, William la Zouche de Mortimer, Lord of Ashby in Leicestershire, a distant cousin of Roger Mortimer. William was a younger son and had been a retainer of Guy Beauchamp; he is assumed to have been born about 1280, and there's no evidence I know of that he had a wife before Alice. Their son Alan, William's heir, was born on 15 September 1317, and they also had a daughter, Joyce, born about 1318 or 1320. Altogether, Alice bore ten children to her three husbands.
Alice de Toeni de Leyburne de Beauchamp la Zouche (!!), countess of Warwick, died on 1 January 1324, three years before the end of Edward II's reign, aged forty or just under. Her eldest child, Juliana, was about twenty, her youngest, Joyce, perhaps only about four. Five years after her death, her widower William la Zouche abducted Eleanor de Clare from Hanley Castle, and married her. Eleanor of course was the widow of Hugh Despenser the younger, Alice's nephew by marriage (son of Guy Beauchamp's sister).
William was, amusingly enough, one of the men who captured Despenser in Wales in late 1326, and besieged his son Hugh at Caerphilly. Susan Higginbotham has a great post on William and Eleanor, who both died in 1337. (And check out Gabriele's comment about William's 'badass sexiness', which kills me! :)
Meanwhile, Alice's eldest daughter Juliana was embarking on her own marital adventures. Although her half-brother Thomas Beauchamp would inherit the de Toeni lands of their mother, Juliana was the Leyburne heir, and her marital prospects were excellent. Accordingly, she married, around 1318, John, Lord Hastings, who was seventeen or eighteen years her senior - he was born on 29 September 1286. He was the eldest (surviving) son of John, Lord Hastings (1262-1313) who put in a claim to the throne of Scotland in the early 1290s, and Isabel de Valence (died 1305), who was the sister of Aymer, earl of Pembroke. The younger John's stepmother was Isabel Despenser, daughter of Hugh the Elder; she was several years younger than he was. This has caused some confusion among historians, for example Natalie Fryde, who assumes that Isabel was the wife of the younger John and mother of his son. In fact, Isabel was the mother of John's much younger half-siblings, Margaret, Thomas and Hugh Hastings.
Juliana and John's son, Laurence Hastings, was born on 20 March 1320, at Allesley, Warwickshire. Juliana was about sixteen, John thirty-three. Despite Juliana's three marriages, Laurence would be her only child.
John Hastings was the nephew of the earl of Pembroke, and one of his retainers. Pembroke was childless, and when he died in June 1324, John and his cousins Elizabeth and Joan Comyn (daughters of Joan de Valence, another of Pembroke's sisters) shared the de Valence inheritance. John was one of the men who attested the Treaty of Leake in August 1318 (a reconciliation between Edward II and his baronial opponents, Lancaster in particular). In the Despenser War and Marcher campaign of 1321/22, he at first opposed the king, but was reconciled to him, perhaps influenced by his uncle Pembroke. Apparently Edward trusted him, but in 1324 John fell out with Hugh Despenser the younger and was forced to make a recognisance - Despenser's usual method of binding men to him by force - for the huge sum of £4000.
John, Lord Hastings died on 27 January 1325, a year after his mother-in-law Alice, aged thirty-eight. His son Laurence was not yet five. Later that year, Laurence was betrothed to the younger Despenser's third daughter, Eleanor, who was about the same age or a little older. Custody of the Hastings lands passed, inevitably, to Despenser (whose sister Isabel was Laurence's step-grandmother, though she was only in her mid-thirties).
Juliana's feelings about the Despenser alliance, and about the political situation in England, are of course unknown. Apparently, though, she stood in favour with the king and Despenser, as she married Thomas le Blount in or around September 1325, a few months after John's death, still only in her early twenties. Thomas le Blount had succeeded Richard Damory as Steward of Edward II's Household in April or May 1325. In late 1326, however, le Blount abandoned Edward, and in January 1327 at Kenilworth Castle, he ceremoniously broke his staff of office to show that the king's reign was over.
Juliana and Thomas had no children; Thomas had a son, William, by an unknown first wife. They were married less than three years, as Thomas died on 17 August 1328. Juliana, evidently not a woman given to long-term mourning, married her third husband William Clinton before 17 October 1328, less than two months after Thomas's death. I wonder if this means that their marriage was unhappy, and if Thomas's family were offended by the speed of her re-marriage. She was still only twenty-four or twenty-five, and would be married to William for twenty-six years. He was about the same age as Juliana, born around 1304, and was knighted by 1324. Edward II sent him to Gascony in 1325 during the War of Saint Sardos, but William evidently supported Isabella and Mortimer's invasion, as Isabella rewarded him with the castle and manor of Halton, Cheshire, in September 1327.
Around the time that Juliana married William, her half-brother Thomas Beauchamp and son Laurence Hastings also married. Half-uncle and nephew, though there was only six years between them, they both married daughters of Roger Mortimer. Roger had been granted Thomas's marriage back in July 1318, and although the upheaval of the 1320s meant that he lost the rights and Thomas Beauchamp was intended to marry one of the daughters of the earl of Arundel, the marriage never took place, and Thomas married Katherine Mortimer, probably in May 1328, when he was fourteen. Although Laurence Hastings was betrothed to Eleanor Despenser, Queen Isabella ignored the contract and forced the young girl to take vows at Sempringham Priory at the beginning of 1327; Eleanor was probably about nine at most. Instead, Laurence was married to Roger Mortimer's daughter Agnes, in 1328 or 1329.
Laurence was a great catch; he inherited his great-uncle's earldom of Pembroke, and was given livery of his lands in 1339, though still under age. In the meantime, his stepfather William Clinton was playing an important role in English political life. High in favour with Isabella and Mortimer, he accompanied Philippa of Hainault to England for her January 1328 marriage to Edward III, and was appointed Justiciar of Chester. However, it became apparent that his loyalties were to the young king, not the disreputable pair governing England in his name, and in October 1330 he was one of the men who took part in Edward III's coup at Nottingham Castle. For this action, he was rewarded with the earldom of Huntingdon in 1337. No longer only the stepdaughter and mother of earls, Juliana became a countess.
For the rest of his life, William Clinton remained a close friend and supporter of Edward III. He hosted a tournament at Dartford in 1331, at which the king himself fought under William's standard, a great honour which points to the close bond between the two men. Again, Juliana's feelings about her husband's choices are unknown; did she support his action against Mortimer and Isabella, or did she feel loyalty towards the queen? She must surely have been delighted at his favour with Edward III, however; the comital revenues the king bestowed on William, and the income from her own lands, enabled them to live in considerable state. They had no children.
William Clinton died on 25 August 1354, aged about fifty, and Juliana was a widow for the third time. Although she and her husband had mostly lived in Warwickshire, as a widow she preferred to live on her own estates in Kent, rather than on her dower lands from William.
Her son Laurence and Agnes Mortimer had a son, John, born 29 August 1347 - Juliana's only grandchild (unless Laurence fathered illegitimate children). A year and a day later, Laurence died, aged only twenty-eight.
Juliana de Leyburne de Hastings le Blount de Clinton, countess of Huntingdon, died between 30 October and 2 November 1367, aged about sixty-three or sixty-four. She was buried in St Anne's Chapel at St Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury, where she had founded a chantry. She had outlived her son Laurence by nineteen years, her third husband by thirteen years.
Her daughter-in-law Agnes Mortimer, who had re-married John Hakelut, died in July of the following year.
Juliana's grandson John Hastings, earl of Pembroke, married Edward III's daughter Margaret, who died in 1361, then Anne Manny, the granddaughter of Edward II's half-brother Thomas of Brotherton. He died in April 1375, only twenty-seven; a year younger than his father at his own death.
William Clinton's earldom of Huntingdon passed to the Poitevin Guichard d'Angle, who died in 1380, then to Richard II's half-brother John Holland.
Juliana's half-brother Thomas Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, died of plague in November 1369; his wife Katherine Mortimer died around the same time. Another half-brother, Alan la Zouche, died in 1346 and was succeeded by his son Hugh. All Juliana's six half-sisters married, and most had children. Her half-brother John Beauchamp died childless in 1360.