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05 April, 2009
Andrew Harclay, Earl Of Carlisle
A post about a man who held the earldom of Carlisle for less than a year and suffered a terrible death by hanging, drawing and quartering. Andrew Harclay or Hartley was born in about 1270, son of Michael Harclay, sheriff of Cumberland from 1285 to 1298, and Joan Fitzjohn of Yorkshire. Andrew's name in his own lifetime was usually written as Andreu de Ercla, Harcla, Hercla, Hercelay, Hartcla, Hertcla, Harkla, Harccla, Harklay, Harteclath or Artcla. He had a sister called Sarah and brothers named John and Henry, the latter (died 1317) chancellor of Oxford University. Andrew was appointed sheriff of Cumberland in 1311, a position he held on and off for the next dozen years, and warden of Carlisle Castle in 1313. In the summer of 1315, he led the staunch defence of Carlisle against a Scottish attack, led by Robert Bruce in person, for which Edward II rewarded him with 1000 marks. Edward granted Carlisle a royal charter in 1316; the charter has an initial letter which depicts Andrew throwing a spear at a Scottish soldier. (See Gabriele's post for more information about the defence of Carlisle Castle.) Unfortunately, Andrew was captured by the Scots in late 1315 or early 1316, and begged Edward II to grant him two Scottish prisoners "in aid of his ransom, as he does not see how to deliver himself otherwise." He also asked Edward to hasten his deliverance, "that he may appear to answer the malicious charges made by some persons against him at court" - whatever that was about. Edward eventually paid 2000 marks towards his ransom.  Andrew is probably best known for his defeat of the earls of Lancaster and Hereford at Boroughbridge on 16 March 1322: somewhat ironically, he won the battle by using the same tactics Robert Bruce had used to such great effect against Edward II at Bannockburn in 1314. In November 1318, Andrew and his brother John had been pardoned as adherents of Lancaster.  Edward II rewarded Andrew by making him earl of Carlisle on 25 March 1322 and girded him with the comital belt himself, promising him 1000 marks of land annually.  Andrew took part in Edward's doomed Scottish campaign of autumn 1322, though he was unable to come to Edward's aid when the king was almost captured at Rievaulx Abbey on 14 October. The Brut chronicle calls Andrew a traitor and says that he deliberately abandoned Edward at Rievaulx in exchange for "a great sum of gold and silver" from the Scots, for which reason "the king was towards him full wroth," while the Anonimalle claims that Andrew intended to allow the Scots to destroy the north of England.  These accounts are most unlikely to be true; the authors of the Brut and the Anonimalle were extremely pro-Lancastrian and therefore loathed Andrew for defeating their hero Thomas of Lancaster at Boroughbridge. The equally pro-Lancastrian author of the Flores Historiarum also called Andrew a traitor. It might have been this disastrous campaign which finally forced Andrew to conclude that Edward II would never be able to make himself overlord of Scotland, defeat Robert Bruce, or protect the inhabitants of northern England from endless Scottish raids. Therefore, he took desperate measures and met Bruce at Lochmaben on 3 January 1323, and concluded a treaty with him: that Edward would recognise Bruce as king of Scots and would be granted the marriage of Bruce’s son and heir, that Bruce would pay England 40,000 marks of silver over ten years, and that Scotland would be entirely independent of England.  By 6 January, Andrew had already been arrested by Sir Roger Horsele, and Edward rewarded him with the massive sun of fifty marks. Two days later on 8 January, Edward declared that truces with the Scots must not be made without his consent, "as that would be to his dishonour," and ordered Andrew to inform him of the terms of the treaty he had made and to come to him immediately.  I think it's highly likely that Andrew's rival Sir Anthony Lucy had prior knowledge of the meeting and informed the king, as Edward gave Lucy’s messenger a pound on 2 January for bringing Lucy's letters to him.  For only three days to pass between the Lochmaben meeting and Edward’s response to it, 3 to 6 January, is impossibly fast otherwise. Precisely how Andrew ever thought he could have been reconciled to Edward after making a treaty with Bruce against Edward's wishes is uncertain. Andrew failed to obey Edward’s summons, and the king, "exceedingly put out (and no wonder!)" as the Lanercost chronicle puts it, ordered his arrest on 1 February 1323.  Lanercost gives a colourful account of Edward’s sending Anthony Lucy to "take him by craft," whereupon Lucy and a small group of knights and men-at-arms hid their weapons under their clothes to disguise their hostile intent, and arrested Andrew while he was dictating letters in the great hall of Carlisle Castle. The Brut says that Edward sent Lucy to arrest Andrew "and put him to death."  Edward sent several men on 27 February to "degrade" Andrew, "a traitor to the king and the realm": his half-brother the earl of Kent; Geoffrey le Scrope, chief justice of the King's Bench; John, Lord Hastings; and three knights, John Pecche, Ralph Basset and John Wisham. This involved tearing the spurs of knighthood from Andrew's boots and removing his belt of earldom, and, according to the Brut, breaking his sword over his head.  Edward had already on 12 February ordered the earls of Kent and Atholl and two others "to receive into the king's grace all persons misled or constrained by Andrew de Harcla," and the day after he sent Kent, Scrope and the others to "degrade" Andrew, offered a general pardon for all offences committed in the king's forest to one Ughtred de Geveleston, "in consideration of the good news which he brought to the king of the capture of Andrew de Harcla, a rebel."  The outcome of Andrew's 'trial', at which he was not allowed to speak, was never in doubt. Anthony Lucy told him that he was "a traitor unto the lord the king," and said "our lord the king's will is that ye...be brought to nought, and thy state undone, that other knights of lower degree might after beware." Andrew's spurs were removed and his sword broken over his head, then Lucy "let him unclothe of his furred mantle and of his hood, and of his furred coats and his girdle," and told him "Now art thou no knight, but a knave."  Andrew was condemned to the full horrors of the traitor’s death by hanging, drawing and quartering, his head to be set on London Bridge and the four quarters of his body publicly displayed in Carlisle, Newcastle, Shrewsbury and York. On 3 March 1323, Andrew died well and bravely at Carlisle: when he heard the sentence, he announced "You have divided my carcass according to your pleasure, and I commend myself to God," and gazed towards the heavens, hands clasped and held aloft, as horses dragged him through the streets of the town he had defended so staunchly for many years.  Edward gave a mark to Ranulphus, the trumpeter of Anthony Lucy, who brought him a message on 15 March and returned to Lucy with Edward's letters; perhaps Ranulphus brought the news that Andrew was dead, though Edward must surely have already heard about it by then.  One account says that Andrew's head was sent to Knaresborough for Edward's inspection.  Edward was at Knaresborough Castle from 26 February to 16 March 1323, so the timing fits. Lanercost points out that Andrew was "a single individual, none of whose business it was to transact such affairs," and certainly he had considerably overstepped his authority, but it is easy to sympathise with his growing frustration at Edward II's incompetence. The St Albans chronicler says that Andrew hated Edward's favourite Hugh Despenser, which would hardly be surprising – most people did – and his anger with Despenser may have contributed in some way to his decision to treat with Bruce, while his promotion to an earldom angered his rival Anthony Lucy, who grabbed his chance to bring about Andrew’s downfall and who was granted some of the late earl’s lands.  Andrew, to some extent, only had himself to blame for Lucy's hostility: he had in 1322, high-handedly and almost certainly spuriously, accused Lucy of adherence to Thomas of Lancaster, and seized his lands.  Edward II, with his usual vindictiveness towards family members of people who angered him, ordered the treasurer and barons of the exchequer to remove Andrew’s cousin Patrick Corewen or Culwenne from his position as sheriff of Westmorland in September 1323, and appoint instead "a successor of undoubted loyalty."  On the other hand, he didn't punish anyone except Andrew for the Scots treaty, and readily pardoned Andrew's supporters and adherents. Andrew had certainly committed treason, though he did not do so for his own benefit but to spare the inhabitants of northern England the endless suffering inflicted on them by Scottish raids. Although Edward had no choice but to punish Andrew, he thus destroyed a man who had always been loyal to him and who was one of the very few men of his reign to enjoy military success. Less than three months after Andrew's death, Edward signed a thirteen-year peace treaty with Scotland, though still refused to acknowledge Robert Bruce as king. Andrew's sister Sarah Leyburn finally received permission in August 1328 to "gather the bones of Andrew and commit them to ecclestiastical sepulchre where she may wish."  Andrew left no children, and his nephew and heir Henry Harclay petitioned, probably around the same time, to be restored to the Harclay inheritance on the grounds that Andrew "was never regularly convicted of treason." Henry said that Edward III should annul the proceedings "in deliverance of his royal father's soul from peril," but his petition was unsuccessful.  It is sometimes said, for example on Andrew's Wikipedia page, that his brother John - father of Henry - was executed with him in March 1323, but John had in fact died in November 1322, of natural causes.  (Wikipedia also says, incorrectly, that Andrew left a son, John.)* The earldom of Carlisle was dormant for almost exactly 300 years, until James VI and I revived it in 1622 for James Hay. * Actually, it doesn't, as I've just corrected the page. Sources 1) Calendar of Documents Relating to Scotland 1307-1357, pp. 98, 132. 2) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1317-1321, pp. 228-229. 3) Cal Pat Rolls 1321-1324, p. 93. 4) The Brut, ed. F. W. D. Brie, p. 227; The Anonimalle Chronicle 1307-41, from Brotherton Collection MS 29, ed. W. R. Childs and J. Taylor, p. 112. 5) Foedera, II i, p. 502; Cal Docs Scotland, p. 148. 6) J. C. Davies, 'The First Journal of Edward II's Chamber', English Historical Review, 30 (1915), p. 678; Calendar of Close Rolls 1318-1323, p. 692; Cal Pat Rolls 1321-1324, p. 234. 7) J. C. Davies, 'The First Journal of Edward II's Chamber', English Historical Review, 30 (1915), p. 678. 8) The Chronicle of Lanercost 1272-1346, ed. H. Maxwell, p. 242; Foedera, p. 504. 9) Lanercost, pp. 243-244; Brut, p. 227. 10) Cal Pat Rolls 1321-1324, p. 260; Foedera, p. 509; Brut, pp. 227-228; Lanercost, p. 245. 11) Cal Pat Rolls 1321-1324, pp. 240-241, 265. 12) Brut, pp. 227-228. 13) Lanercost, p. 245. Accounts of Andrew's execution also appear in Bridlington, Flores Historiarum, Annales Paulini, Trokelowe etc. 14) Richard Rastall, ‘Secular Musicians in Late Medieval England’ (PhD thesis, University of Manchester, 1968) vol 2, p. 70. 15) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 'Andrew Harclay'. 16) Lanercost, p. 242; Johannis de Trokelowe et Henrici de Blaneforde Chronica et Annales, ed. H. T. Riley, p. 127; Foedera, p. 527. 17) ODNB. 18) Cal Docs Scotland, p. 152. 19) Cal Close Rolls 1327-1330, p. 404. 20) Cal Docs Scotland, p. 170. 21) Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous 1308-1348, p. 265; Calendar of Fine Rolls 1319-1327, p. 187.
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I know Harclay overstepped the mark with the Scots treaty, but I must admit that I've always had a soft spot for him. On the one hand I do think - considering his past deeds and loyalty - that he was hard done by, but on the other hand, after concluding that treaty, what other choice did Edward have but to make an example of him - no doubt urged on by Hugh Despenser?
Poor Harclay! He's one of the men from the period I feel sorriest for.
I am not Don, Google! That is my husband!
Aha, I wondered who Don was! Stupid Blogger!
I feel sorry for Andrew too, and I can completely understand why he did what he did. (Who wasn't ashamed and disgusted by Ed II's incompetence?) OTOH, I don't really see what alternative Ed had - though he might have given him a much easier execution, I suppose. The Brut says the manner of his degradation and death was to discourage others from doing the same thing.
Lady D: given that Andrew supposedly hated Hugh, yes, I think there's a very good chance Hugh egged Ed on to execute him.
Poor Andrew indeed. He's in that sort of conflict I love to put my fictional characters in. Mwuahaha.
Been deluged with work, so catching up with your blog. And yes, I have sympathy for Andrew as well. Shouldn't he have 'just' been beheaded because he was an earl? Was Ed and/or Hugh being totally vindictive demsnding the full sentence be carried out?
Actually, Alianore - did Ed strip him of his earldom, so that the full setence could be carried out?
Gabriele: sounds like a great conflict to explore in fiction!
Anerje: noblemen were normally beheaded, a privilege of rank, but that mostly went out of the window at the end of Ed I's reign and in Ed II's. Maybe Andrew's death does show vindictiveness on Ed's part - he was a very vindictive man, though he did respite Lancaster's punishment to mere beheading. I haven't seen anything to prove that he stripped Andrew of his earldom before execution, though the symbols of knighthood were removed from him, and as soon as Ed had confirmation of the meeting with Bruce, Andrew was never again specifically referred to as 'earl of Carlisle'.
I have a lot of sympathy for Andrew Harclay. He was between a rock and a hard place, one of those situations with no right answer. I wonder if his action helped prod Edward II into signing the truce with Robert Bruce? It would be nice to think that some good came of it.
Thanks again for another awesome post. I can totally get lost in this blog, I thank you for your diligence!
Thank you for the lovely compliment, Marie! I'm really glad you enjoy the blog.
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