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).


sami parkkonen said...

This incident came across when I was doing research for my novel. It must have been in some article or such about the medieval castle warfare.

Basically castles were almost unmanned unless the lord was at home. Bare skeleton crew managed a castle if the lord was not there. The most famous incident of this kind was when Edward III returned to England unannounced during his war in Continent. He found Tower practically empty and dark.

Jerry Bennett said...

This episode is a bit like a mystery story - not so much the attack on Tickhill but the events in Burton on Trent (and elsewhere beforehand?). I assume both these young lords had been living somewhere in the Marches, as they were both from Marcher families, although I do not know enough to say where, although there is a Clifford castle not far from Hay on Wye. Given the fates of their father and brother, I would also assume they were living quietly enough not to attract the attention of king Edward, the Younger Despenser or their Welsh allies. Was there some incident, somewhere in the border lands, that sparked this incident at this particular time?

It has the 'feel' of being a bit hasty and unplanned, (although you could say that about many of the troubles during the late middle ages). I can understand their brooding on revenge, but why react then? They probably knew that Roger Mortimer and Queen Isabella were planning some sort of invasion, so why not wait until that took place? If they had suffered some form of disadvantage in the Marches, was William Aune somehow involved, so the attack on Tickhill became an act of personal revenge? It really is something of a mystery.

sami parkkonen said...

It is indeed a bit strange event. One has to always remember the chivalrous code too which for these men was not just a formality or one thing among many but a true base for their existence. If they had suffered an insult to their honor or felt like it that might have been a great motivation.

In many great medieval battles the chivalric honor was many times important factor such as in Agincourt where the hired men of the English army bested the bigger French army which followed the knightly code even when everyone could see that it was leading them to the disaster.