28 February, 2017

An Inaccurate Article about Isabella of France in History of Royals

I've just had an article about Isabella of France published in a special edition of BBC History Magazine, and coincidentally there's also an article about Isabella in the latest edition of History of Royals magazine (which was founded a few months ago and is published monthly). I don't recognise the name of the author and have no idea who she is, and unfortunately the article repeats many of the tired old myths and inventions about Edward II and Isabella I've been trying to demolish for years. *sigh* I suppose that at least we don't get the statement that Edward abandoned a pregnant Isabella at Tynemouth in 1312 or any hints that he wasn't the father of her children, so it's not quite the full deck of Isabella myths.

We're told early on that Isabella endured years of humiliation as her husband promoted his then-favourite, Piers Gaveston, ahead of her. Isabella saw lands and jewels meant for her given to Gaveston.

The notion that Edward gave Isabella's jewels and/or wedding gifts to Piers Gaveston was invented by Agnes Strickland in the nineteenth century. I've debunked it here and here. The Annales Paulini only say that "The king of France gave to his son-in-law the king of England a ring of his kingdom, the most beautiful bed (or couch) ever seen, select war-horses, and many other extravagant gifts. All of which the king of England straight away sent to Piers." See Isabella and her possessions mentioned there? Nope, me neither, yet somehow Strickland contrived to misunderstand this passage and claimed that it was Isabella's gifts that were given to Piers. The passage says that Philip IV dedit, 'gave', the wedding gifts to Edward - just to Edward, regi Angliae (the king of England), not to him and Isabella jointly. The next sentence says that Edward misit, 'sent', all the gifts to Piers. I don't see how that implies that Piers was necessarily meant to keep the gifts; he was, after all, Edward's guardian of England during the king's absence in Boulogne, so it makes perfect sense that the wedding gifts would have been sent to him to have stored safely. Agnes Strickland was also hopelessly confused about the timeline of events and thought that Piers was exiled to his native Gascony in 1308, whereupon Edward gave him items belonging to Isabella, when in fact he was made lieutenant of Ireland. It's such a pity that so many writers continue to perpetuate Strickland's invention.

This notion that Piers and Isabella were rivals for Edward's affections and that Isabella was 'humiliated' by Piers' presence is pure fiction and assumption and should not be presented as 'fact' as it is here. I genuinely have no idea what 'promoted his favourite ahead of her' even means. Isabella was Edward's wife and the crowned queen of England. How could anyone be promoted ahead of her? Let's not forget that she was only recently turned twelve when she married Edward; do people really expect him to have been all over her? Yuck. The bit about Edward giving her lands to Piers is a new invention as well. Which lands? Of course he didn't. No-one has ever said he did.

In or after 1322, Isabella refused to swear loyalty to the Despensers.

I've dealt with this silly idea before as well. It's an invention of Paul Doherty in his badly-written and error-strewn 2003 work Isabella and the Strange Book about Edward II (not its real title). Doherty misread a chronicle - how, I have no idea, as it's been translated into English - which says that Henry, Lord Beaumont, a cousin of both the king and queen, was imprisoned in 1326 "because he would not swear to the king and Sir Hugh de Spencer to be of their part to live and die." Isabella is, needless to say, not mentioned in the chronicle's account of Beaumont's arrest. Why and how the queen of England, who outranked everyone in the country except her husband, would have been expected to swear an oath of loyalty to mere barons is not explained, and she was in France in 1326 when this happened anyway. I cannot begin to imagine how Doherty thought that it was Queen Isabella who was refusing to take an oath, and I do wish that people who copy his story would check the chronicle before repeating it.

The Despensers moved against her, taking her lands, her household and her children from her.

This absurd and offensive notion that Isabella's children were cruelly removed from her in September 1324 is another invention of Paul Doherty, this time in his doctoral thesis about her in the late 1970s. I've debunked it at length here. The source he cites for his claim is a wardrobe account of Edward II that dates from July 1322 to July 1323, not September 1324 as he says, and the membranes he cites don't even exist in the document. It's infuriating how many writers - even eminent historians who should know better - have copied Doherty's fiction ever since without bothering to check, and the story has become part of the official narrative of Isabella's life, endlessly repeated as though it's certainly true. It's emphatically not. The French members of Isabella's household were removed from her in 1324 because England and France were at war, not her entire household, as stated. Edward II was pretty vile to his wife, though, as he exempted some other French people in his realm from his general order to be arrested, but not Isabella's servants, with only one exception (her chaplain Pierre). And however powerful they were, the Despensers couldn't have confiscated the queen's lands; that was Edward II's own doing, and although he did give her a smaller income from the exchequer in compensation, it was pretty low to treat his own wife as an enemy alien.

Isabella played the part of the desperate queen, risking all to rescue her people from tyranny

Gag. If Isabella cared that much about 'rescuing her people from tyranny' - and they weren't 'her people', they were Edward's - it's odd that for the next few years she and Roger Mortimer behaved as badly in that respect as Edward and the Despensers had. This 'rescuing the suffering people from tyranny' has become another part of the Isabella narrative in the last few years, and it makes her look like such a noble heroine, doesn't it, but it's really not very likely.

Though she was known to history as the 'She-Devil of France'..Born a Princess of France in 1295...

She-Wolf, not She-Devil, and the name was only given to Isabella in a poem of 1757. She wasn't born a princess as the title didn't exist yet. Like all daughters of kings at this time, she was addressed as ma dame, my lady.

The attraction between Isabella and Mortimer was obvious and their affair became notorious. There are few references to it in the chronicles of the time

Contradictory statement - if the alleged 'affair' was barely referred to by contemporary chroniclers, which is true, then how did it become 'notorious'? Where else, in 1326, could it have become notorious? It's not like they had tabloid newspapers. The article goes on to refer to a letter of Edward II (dated March 1326) in which he complained about his wife making Roger Mortimer her main adviser and keeping him and others in her company, but Edward being angry at his wife's alliance with his worst enemy and other English exiles on the continent is hardly evidence of a notorious and passionate affair. 'The attraction was obvious' - to novelists maybe, but where are the sources that say Isabella and Mortimer were obviously attracted to each other? Are we writing history or romantic fiction? Their alliance from late 1325 until Mortimer's sudden arrest in October 1330 do suggest an understanding and a closeness, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they were passionately attracted to each other in late 1325. This is so often repeated as fact, and it simply isn't.

The Lanercost chronicle said in the 1340s that at the time of their downfall in 1330, there were "rumours of a liaison" between Roger Mortimer and the queen mother, "according to common report." Adam Murimuth said the two had an '"undue familiarity," but he said exactly the same thing about Edward II and Piers Gaveston, and that's never been taken as definitive proof that the two men had a passionately sexual and romantic relationship. Other chronicles refer to Roger as Isabella's "chief counsellor" or even just "of her faction," or he's merely named in a list of those who accompanied her to England in September 1326 and who were involved in government thereafter. In November 1330 he was accused of "falsely and maliciously putting discord" between the king and queen, which can easily be explained by Roger's threat (below) that Isabella would be killed if she returned to Edward. Jean Froissart claimed a few decades later that Isabella was pregnant by Roger at their downfall in 1330, but Froissart wasn't even born until c. 1337, and even if this is true, which it almost certainly isn't, it had taken Isabella almost five years after the start of their supposedly passionately sexual affair to become pregnant and is still not evidence for their huge mutual attraction in late 1325. None of this is incontrovertible evidence of a notorious, flagrant, adoring affair. I have to admit to being really annoyed at the use of language in so many modern books and articles, where Roger Mortimer is inevitably called Isabella's 'lover' whereas Piers Gaveston and Hugh Despenser are Edward II's 'favourites'. There's as much, or as little, evidence that Roger and Isabella's relationship was sexual as there is for Edward's with Piers and later Hugh, so why the obvious difference in language? There's also no mention in all this happy romanticising of the rather inconvenient fact that Mortimer was married to Joan Geneville throughout his entire association with Isabella, and that they had twelve children together; no mention of any 'years of humiliation' Joan might have 'endured'.

An argument was recorded between Mortimer and Isabella in which he threatened to kill her after she suggested she should return to Edward. That this dispute took place in the presence of Isabella's son shows the depth of emotional attachment between the two.

Does it? Why? There's sometimes an assumption (not only in this article but elsewhere) that Roger threatening to kill Isabella if she went back to her husband must have been a result of sexual jealousy. That's not impossible, but it's only an assumption. My reading is very different. Roger was imprisoned by Edward II in February 1322 and lived as a fugitive on the continent after his escape from the Tower in August 1323; by the summer of 1326 when he made this threat to Isabella, he'd been living a precarious existence for four and a half years. In all that time, he had no access to his family (his wife, his mother, all but one of his twelve children), his homes, his income, his lands, his power and influence, his goods, even his clothes; all his entire comfortable life as a well-connected and wealthy English nobleman had vanished. He was an impoverished exile, albeit a highly-born and respected one, entirely dependent on the goodwill of the king of France, the count of Hainault and other continental noblemen who took pity on his plight. Of course Roger wanted his old life back, and he needed Isabella to achieve that. Without the support of the queen of England, and her control of her thirteen-year-old son, the heir to Edward II's throne, Roger had no chance whatsoever of being able to strike against his detested enemies the Despensers, and either to persuade Edward II to restore him to his lost position or even to overthrow the king and rule himself with Isabella. If he had been able to strike against the Despensers with an army, he and his allies (such as John Maltravers and Thomas Roscelyn) would have done it long before the summer of 1326, but without the queen he had only previously been able to send assassins into England to take out the Despensers and their ally the earl of Arundel, and this failed. His plans depended completely on Isabella. If she went back to England and Edward, he would never again have another chance to act against his enemies and get his old life back. Of course Roger raged at the prospect of losing his one chance of going home, and having to live out the remaining decades of his life as an impoverished exile permanently deprived of his home, family and income, dependent on the charity of others and always looking over his shoulder in case Edward II did to him what he had done to Edward's friends and sent assassins after him. Raged enough to lose control of himself and threaten Isabella even in the presence of her son (who, highly unimpressed, remembered it for more than four years and raised it against Roger at his trial before parliament in November 1330). It's not even clear from the rolls of parliament, where Roger's threat was recorded, that the 'he' who would kill Isabella means Roger himself. He might have been saying that it was Edward who would kill her. I find it incredibly unlikely that this threat was the doing of a man deeply in love with Isabella who could not bear to think of his lover resuming her place in her husband's bed. It's far more likely to have been the act of a desperate exile seeing his last chance to return home slipping through his fingers.

There's also, of course, the underlying assumption (not only in this article but elsewhere) that Isabella had been unhappy with Edward for many years and was, ahem, dissatisfied in bed and delighted to have a Real Man at last. My own reading of the events of 1325/26 tends rather to the view that what Isabella wanted was to have Hugh Despenser removed from court so that she could resume her marriage with Edward, a marriage in which she had been happy and content until Despenser intruded into it. Roger Mortimer, a baron with the ability, energy and charisma to raise an army and to rid her of the hated Despenser and his father, was a useful, indeed vital, ally, but not necessarily a lover or someone she had romantic feelings for. At least, not at this point. And call me hopelessly cynical, but given that Roger Mortimer made himself the most powerful man in England and an earl as a result of his association with Isabella, I find it hard to believe that his feelings for her were genuine. In the same way, I doubt very much that Hugh Despenser just happened to fall in love with Edward II in about 1318. Despenser used the king for wealth and power; Mortimer used the queen for the same purpose. I really don't see any difference between them. That one of these situations is often viewed these days as achingly romantic and the other as 'perverted' (as I've seen it described) is solely, in my view, a result of the genders of the people involved.

One more point, something I can't prove but which occurs to me: Isabella of France was a woman with a profound and almost sacred sense of her own royalty, the daughter of the king of France and the queen of Navarre and herself crowned queen of England at twelve, who in 1314 revealed the adultery of her sisters-in-law to prevent them foisting a child not of royal blood on her father's throne, and who in 1328 declared passionately that "my son, who is the son of a king, will never do homage to the son of a count," i.e. her cousin Philip VI. Her husband, whatever he had done, was a king, the son of a king, the grandson of two kings, and the father of Isabella's son the future king. Roger Mortimer was merely a baron. Is such a woman, daughter of two sovereigns and the wife of a king, likely to have permitted a man not of royal blood to touch her royal person? I don't and can't know, but it's a point that has rarely if ever been considered. I think there's a tendency for modern writers to look at Isabella too much through modern eyes, and to forget that she was a fourteenth-century woman of the highest royal birth, whose attitudes were not ours.

I realise that "the scorned and abused queen secretly yearned for revenge for many years on her husband and his nasty lovers, and having been neglected by her husband, fell passionately in love with a manly baron who helped her overthrow the nasty lover and get her stolen children back" is a compelling narrative, but that's all it is, a narrative. It's fiction. It bears little resemblance to the real story of a woman called Isabella of France. One of the four books recommended as 'further reading' at the end of the History of Royals article is my own biography of Isabella. It's a pity the author doesn't seem to have picked it up, nor read this blog.

24 February, 2017

My New Books Are Now Available

I'm delighted to announce that my next two books are now available for pre-order! Long Live the King: The Mysterious Fate of Edward II will be released on 1 June 2017 in both the UK and US. Here is the UK Amazon link, here is the US one. Ignore the customer reviews on Amazon.com; they're for a much older book with a similar title which have been wrongly attributed to my book - hope Amazon sort that out soon. The 'Look Inside' feature also doesn't work, and the author biography is, evidently, not me ("the American Agatha Christie"??). Long Live the King is also available from Book Depository, here.

My fourth book, a biography of Richard II (final title to be determined) will be released on 15 October 2017. Amazon UK link here, US link here, Book Depository here.

Other news: on Saturday 24 June 2017, I'm leading a study day called "King Edward II: The Man and the Mystery" at the Wuffing Education Study Centre at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk (site of one of the greatest ever archaeological finds in the UK). The programme is here; scroll down to see 'my' day. Click here to book a place; if you've never been to a study day at Sutton Hoo before, it's only £25. Hoping to see you!

Finally, the special 'medieval kings and queens' edition of BBC History Magazine is out now. If you're not in the UK and can't buy it in a local shop, you can order it here. I wrote the opinion piece, and there's also an article by me about Isabella of France. Pics below!

15 February, 2017

Juliana Leyburne and the Endless Hastings Confusion

Juliana Leyburne (1303/4 - c. 1 November 1367), an heiress in Kent, was countess of Huntingdon by her third marriage to William Clinton, a friend of Edward III and one of the men who arrested Roger Mortimer with the king at Nottingham Castle on 19 October 1330. She was the older half-sister of Thomas Beauchamp, earl of Warwick (b. 1314) and the stepdaughter of Piers Gaveston's nemesis Guy Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, and was also the stepdaughter of William la Zouche, lord of Ashby (who married Edward II's niece and Hugh Despenser the Younger's widow Eleanor de Clare in 1329). Juliana Leyburne was the mother of Laurence Hastings, earl of Pembroke (b. 1320) by her first marriage to John, Lord Hastings (1286-1325). Both Juliana and her mother Alice Toeni (or Tony or Tosni, etc), countess of Warwick, married three times, and they both inherited lands: Alice was the heir of her brother Robert Toeni who died in 1309, though in line with contemporary inheritance laws these lands did not pass to Alice's eldest child Juliana Leyburne on her death in 1324 but to her eldest son Thomas Beauchamp, earl of Warwick. Juliana had about seven or eight younger half-siblings from her mother's two subsequent marriages to Guy Beauchamp and William la Zouche, but was her father's only child, and Laurence Hastings was her only child from three marriages. She was the heir of her paternal grandparents William, Lord Leyburne and Juliane née de Sandwich, herself the heir of her father and uncle.

Thomas Leyburne was the elder son of William, Lord Leyburne and Juliane de Sandwich, and probably around 1300 or 1302 married Alice Toeni; she was born sometime between 1282 and 1285, according to the evidence of her brother Robert's Inq. Post Mortem in December 1309. [Cal. Inq. Post Mortem 1307-17, pp. 101-2] I don't know Thomas's date of birth, but he was probably a few years older than his wife, as his parents married in the mid-1260s.Thomas died shortly before 30 May 1307, in the lifetime of his father William, who outlived him by almost three years. His and Alice's only child Juliana Leyburne was said to be three years old or 'three years old and more' in Thomas's Inq. Post Mortem taken on 8 July and 17 September 1307, and 'aged six and more' in her grandfather William Leyburne's IPM in March/April 1310. She was also said to be '24 years and more' at the IPM of her grandmother Juliane taken in Kent on 30 January 1328. [CIPM 1300-7, pp. 274-5; CIPM 1307-17, pp. 121-3; CIPM 1327-36, 50-51] This would place her date of birth in the last few months of 1303 or the first quarter of 1304.

I haven't been able to find the date of Juliana Leyburne's wedding to John Hastings. He was the son and heir of John, Lord Hastings (1262-1313) and his first wife Isabella de Valence, half-niece of Henry III, and was the nephew and one of the three co-heirs of his maternal uncle Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke. (Aymer's other two heirs were his nieces the Comyn sisters, Joan and Elizabeth. See CIPM 1317-27, pp. 314-40. Amusingly, some of the jurors of Aymer's IPM in 1324 didn't know the women's names and just called them 'the two daughters of Sir John Comyn of Badenoch' or 'daughters of le Redecomyn', i.e. the Red Comyn.) Juliana Leyburne's husband John Hastings was also the stepson of Hugh Despenser the Younger's sister Isabella, who, born in c. 1290, was some years younger than he. This has caused, and continues to cause, considerable confusion among writers and researchers, who assume that Isabella Despenser married the younger John Hastings and was the mother of Laurence Hastings. She in fact married his widowed father John the elder, who was only a year younger than her own father Hugh Despenser the Elder (b. 1261), and her son Hugh Hastings was born in c. 1310 and was the decades-younger half-brother of John Hastings the younger. (If I felt like it, I could add to this endless confusion by pointing out that Isabella Despenser was firstly, albeit briefly and childlessly, married to Gilbert de Clare, lord of Thomond, a man often mixed up with his first cousin Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester. But of course I wouldn't do that, hehehe.) According to his father's IPM in March 1313, the younger John Hastings was 'aged 26 on the day of St Michael last', i.e. he was born on or a bit before 29 September 1286. [CIPM 1307-17, pp. 230-6] He was thus a good seventeen years older than his wife Juliana Leyburne, and much closer in age to his stepmother Isabella Despenser.

John and Juliana's only son Laurence Hastings, later earl of Pembroke, was born either on 20, 21 or 25 March 1320 (either on the feast of St Cuthbert, the feast of St Benedict, or the feast of the Annunciation), and was five going on six years old at John Hastings' death on 6 January 1325. [CIPM 1317-27, pp. 385-93] Juliana Leyburne, born probably in the last months of 1303 or the early months of 1304, was sixteen when she gave birth to her son in March 1320. Official custody of the young Laurence Hastings and his lands was, probably inevitably, given to Edward II's powerful favourite and chamberlain Hugh Despenser the Younger, whose sister Isabella was Laurence's step-grandmother and the mother of Laurence's half-uncle Hugh Hastings, on 12 February 1325. [CPR 1324-7, p. 95] Hugh Despenser arranged a future marriage between Laurence and his third daughter Eleanor Despenser, though this never took place owing to his downfall in the autumn of 1326, and in 1329 when he was still only a child, Laurence Hastings married instead Roger Mortimer's daughter Agnes. [CPR 1324-7, p. 153] I have no idea where John and Juliana got the name Laurence from, but it's a refreshing change from all the Johns, Williams, Thomases, etc of the era.

Juliana Leyburne had married her second husband Sir Thomas Blount, steward of Edward II's household, by 23 September 1325, nine months after John Hastings' death. Edward II had given her permission to do so on 13 July, and made it clear that it was her own choice and she did not have to. [CIPM 1317-27, p. 393; CPR 1324-7, p. 153] Hugh Despenser the Younger may have had a hand in arranging or promoting this marriage, given that he was the royal chamberlain and Thomas the royal steward, and given that he was the official guardian of Juliana's son. Thomas Blount died shortly before 23 August 1328 when the escheator was ordered to take the lands of 'Thomas le Blount, deceased, tenant in chief' into the king's hand. (I've seen 17 August given as the date of his death but don't know what the source is.) A mere two months later, on 17 October 1328, Juliana was already married to her third husband Sir William Clinton when they were mentioned on the Patent Roll and William was called her 'present husband'. [CFR 1327-37, p. 102; CPR 1327-30, p. 325] The very short time between the death of Thomas Blount and Juliana's remarriage to William Clinton - it would have been conventional to wait a year, or at the very least six months - suggests that her second marriage had not been a happy one. As William was a younger son and not an heir, and in 1328 was merely a knight marrying the earl of Warwick's half-sister and the future earl of Pembroke's mother, Juliana's third union may have been a love-match. William's loyalty to Edward III and his participation in the arrest of Roger Mortimer in October 1330, however, led to him being granted the earldom of Huntingdon in 1337.

Meanwhile Juliana's paternal grandmother Juliane Leyburne née de Sandwich, widow of William who died in 1310, died shortly before 16 January 1328, when her lands were taken into the king's hand and a writ sent out for her IPM. Juliana the younger's then husband Thomas Blount did homage for his wife's new lands before 13 February 1328. [CIPM 1327-36, pp. 50-51; Cal Fine Rolls 1327-37, 75, 81] The next year, Juliana presumably attended the wedding of her nine-year-old son Laurence to Agnes, one of the eight daughters of Roger Mortimer and Joan Geneville, by then earl and countess of March. Her third husband was one of the men who arrested Roger in 1330. Laurence Hastings and Agnes Mortimer had only one child, Juliana's only grandchild: John Hastings, earl of Pembroke, born either on 24 June, 3 September or 8 September 1347 eighteen years after Agnes and John's wedding, though Laurence was only a child when they wed and so presumably was Agnes. [CIPM 1347-52, pp. 113-29] This John Hastings was the grandson of the John Hastings who died in 1325, and great-grandson of the John Hastings who died in 1313.

Laurence Hastings, earl of Pembroke, died at Abergavenny in Wales on 30 August 1348 at the age of only twenty-eight, and his mother Juliana outlived him by almost twenty years. [CIPM 1347-52, pp. 113-29] His one-year-old son John was his heir, though in fact John never came into his full inheritance as Marie de St Pol, dowager countess of Pembroke and the widow of Aymer de Valence (d. 1324), outlived him (she didn't die until May 1377) and held one-third of the Pembroke lands as her dower. Incidentally, the 'countess of Pembroke' named several times in the last household accounts of Edward II's widow Isabella of France in 1357/58 means Marie de St Pol, not Agnes Hastings née Mortimer, for all the tedious romanticising of one modern writer that Isabella and her dead lover's daughter became great friends. Likewise, the comes de la March named in Isabella's last accounts - he dined with her three times in 1357/58 - does not mean the English earl of March, Roger Mortimer (1328-60), grandson and heir of Isabella's supposed lover Roger Mortimer (executed 1330), but the French count of La Marche. He was Jacques de Bourbon and he was Isabella's second cousin, and he was one of the retinue of the captured King John II in England. There is no evidence that Isabella was in contact with any of Roger Mortimer's family in the last years of her life, despite the nonsense spouted by one modern writer that Isabella especially favoured her dead lover's grandson and was inseparable from one of his daughters.

John Hastings born in 1347 married for the first time when he was only twelve: his bride was Edward III and Philippa of Hainault's daughter Margaret, who was born in July 1346 and was a year his senior. John and Margaret married at Reading on 19 May 1359, the day before her brother John of Gaunt married Blanche of Lancaster. Sadly Margaret died young, sometime after 1 October 1361, and John was left a widower when he was barely into his teens. He married secondly Anne Manny (b. 1355), younger daughter and co-heir of Margaret of Norfolk, herself the heir of her father Thomas of Brotherton, earl of Norfolk, son of Edward I and half-brother of Edward II. Their only son John Hastings was born in October 1372 and was killed jousting aged seventeen in December 1389. The younger John married twice: firstly in the summer of 1380 to John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster's second daughter Elizabeth, who was almost a decade his senior - this marriage was annulled in 1386 - and secondly to Philippa Mortimer, born in 1375, sister of Roger Mortimer, earl of March (1374-98) and second daughter of Edmund Mortimer, earl of March (1352-81). John Hastings the elder had died in 1375 when his son was a toddler; he had been imprisoned in harsh conditions in Castile, which killed him. None of the Hastings men after 1313 lived to see their sons grow up, and the childless death of the teenaged John Hastings in 1389 meant the end of the Hastings/Leyburne line.

William Clinton, earl of Huntingdon, stepfather of Laurence Hastings, earl of Pembroke and brother-in-law of Thomas Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, died on 25 August 1354, according to his IPM, and the writ ordering his lands to be taken into the king's hand was issued on 28 August. He left no legitimate children, and his heir was his older brother John's son John. [CIPM 1352-60, pp. 171-6; CFR 1347-56, 412] At the age of fifty, Juliana Leyburne was widowed for the third time. She died on 31 October or 1 November 1367, at the age of about sixty-three or sixty-four. [CIPM 1365-9, pp. 119-24] Her heir was her grandson John Hastings, earl of Pembroke.

07 February, 2017

7 February

On 7 February 1301, Edward of Caernarfon was made prince of Wales and earl of Chester by his father Edward I. He was sixteen years old, going on seventeen (born on 25 April 1284), and was the first heir to the English throne to be given the title of prince of Wales. There is no truth whatsoever to the often-repeated story that Edward I tricked the Welsh by promising them a prince who spoke no English, then presenting them with his newborn son; this story was invented in 1584, 300 years later. It makes no sense at all, given that a) Edward I's son Alfonso of Bayonne was still alive when Edward of Caernarfon was born and the king would hardly have given the principality to his baby son rather than his ten-year-old, and b) English was not the language of the English court anyway.

On 7 February 1308, Isabella of France arrived in England for the first time, having married Edward II at Boulogne thirteen days earlier. Isabella never met Edward I, who had died on 7 July 1307, was never princess of Wales, and certainly never met William Wallace, who had been executed two and a half years previously on 23 August 1305. She was just twelve years old, and would live in England for the remaining half a century of her life.

02 February, 2017

Exciting News: A Biography of Hugh Despenser the Younger

Today is the 735th anniversary of the birth of Maud Chaworth, who married Edward I's nephew Henry of Lancaster in or a little before 1297. Maud, born on 2 February 1282, was the mother of Duke Henry of Lancaster, grandmother of Blanche of Lancaster, great-grandmother of King Henry IV, and the grandmother/great-grandmother of half of the English nobility (or thereabouts) in the second half of the fourteenth century and into the fifteenth.

Maud was also the elder half-sister of Edward II's great favourite Hugh Despenser the Younger, lord of Glamorgan, and very excitingly I've been commissioned by Pen and Sword Books to write a biography of him. I've been obsessed with Hugh for a dozen years, so this is a really amazing opportunity for me. It's provisionally titled Valour and Vainglory: The Life of Hugh Despenser the Younger, tagline Loved by the King. Hated by the Queen, and will be out in September 2018. So yay!

I'm still unable to write a proper blog post owing to bereavement; hope to be back properly soon.