30 December, 2019

The Children of Richard, Earl of Arundel (d. 1376) and Eleanor of Lancaster (d. 1372)

A post about the five children of Richard (Fitzalan), earl of Arundel (c. 1313-76) and his second wife Eleanor of Lancaster (c. 1316/18-72), fifth of the six daughters of Edward II's first cousin and Queen Isabella's uncle Henry, earl of Lancaster and Leicester (c. 1280-1345). Richard was married firstly in early 1321, when they were both young children, to Edward II's great-niece Isabella Despenser, eldest daughter of Hugh Despenser the Younger and Eleanor de Clare. He had their marriage annulled in 1344 a few weeks before he married Eleanor of Lancaster in early 1345, and their son Edmund Arundel was thereby made illegitimate. Eleanor had also been married before; she was the widow of John, Lord Beaumont, who was killed jousting in the spring of 1342, and was the mother of John's heir Henry Beaumont, born in late 1339 or the beginning of 1340.

An entry on the Fine Roll in July 1416 lists Earl Richard's "issue by Eleanor, lawfully begotten" in what must be birth order: Joan, countess of Hereford; Richard the younger, earl of Arundel; Alice, countess of Kent; John, marshal of England; Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury. [1] If that is not their birth order, it would be an odd way in which to list Richard and Eleanor's children. Joan, countess of Hereford, was still alive in July 1416 and her younger sister Alice, countess of Kent, had died only months before, so it seems probable that the information was correct. Eleanor of Lancaster was probably already pregnant with her eldest Arundel child in July 1345, when she and Richard asked Pope Clement VI for "the legitimation of their offspring present and future". [2]

This pregnancy would seem highly likely to be Joan, named as Richard and Eleanor's eldest child in 1416, who married Edward I's great-grandson Humphrey de Bohun (1342-73), earl of Hereford, Essex and Northampton. Joan and Humphrey had two daughters, Eleanor, duchess of Gloucester and countess of Buckingham, and Mary, countess of Derby, who were joint heirs to the large de Bohun inheritance and to three earldoms; I'll look at the two women in a future post. Joan, countess of Hereford, Essex and Northampton, was a formidable and fascinating woman. She was widowed in early 1373 when she was probably only twenty-seven, never remarried, lived until April 1419 when she was well past seventy, and is probably most famous for having Richard II's half-brother John Holland, earl of Huntingdon, executed without a trial in early 1400 after he joined the Epiphany Rising against her son-in-law Henry IV. Joan was the last surviving child of the earl and countess of Arundel, the last surviving grandchild of Henry, earl of Lancaster (d. 1345) and Maud Chaworth (d. 1322), and the maternal grandmother of Henry V.

Until recently, I thought that the second child Richard (d. 1397), his father's namesake and heir, earl of Arundel and Surrey, first appeared on record on 1 March 1347. [3] Having re-read the relevant entry on the Patent Roll, that's actually not the case. On that date, Earl Richard the elder (d. 1376) granted his lands to his wife Eleanor of Lancaster to hold after his death (though in the end he outlived her by four years), and after her own death, the lands "shall remain to the heirs male of the earl begotten of the body of Eleanor or in default of such to Richard de Arundell the younger and the heirs male of his body, with reversion to the right heirs of the earl." This is repeated in the July 1416 entry on the Fine Roll cited above: "...with remainder to the heirs male of the said earl by Eleanor, daughter of Henry de Lancastre the elder [d. 1345], late earl of Lancaster, remainder in default of such heir male by Eleanor to Richard de Arundell the younger, and the heirs male of his body, and the remainder to the right heirs of the said then earl."

At first I assumed that 'Richard de Arundell the younger' must mean Richard, earl of Arundel, the one beheaded on the orders of Richard II in September 1397, the one who had a large family with Elizabeth de Bohun (d. 1385). But re-reading it, it seems clear that Earl Richard the elder (d. 1376) still had no sons with Eleanor of Lancaster on 1 March 1347, as it talks of the possible 'default' of his 'heirs male...begotten of the body of Eleanor'. At any rate, the earl of Arundel obviously deemed it important to ensure that his inheritance fell to his sons with Eleanor of Lancaster and not to the unfortunate and callously-treated Edmund Arundel, his cast-off son from his first marriage to Isabella Despenser, born c. 1326 when the couple were still only at the start of their teens. I don't know who  'Richard de Arundell the younger' actually is, and Richard, earl of Arundel the younger (d. 1397), eldest of Richard the elder's three sons with Eleanor of Lancaster, must have been born sometime after 1 March 1347. This Richard's second eldest daughter Elizabeth Mowbray (b. c. mid or late 1360s), countess of Nottingham and later duchess of Norfolk, gave birth to her first son and her father's eldest grandchild Thomas Mowbray in September 1385, and Earl Richard was a young grandfather, still only in his thirties. His only surviving son and heir Thomas, earl of Arundel (1381-1415) had no legitimate children, but several of his daughters left plenty of descendants. Richard was probably in his late forties, close to fifty years old, when he was beheaded in London in September 1397. His first wife Elizabeth de Bohun was the sister of his elder sister Joan's husband Humphrey de Bohun; his second wife Philippa Mortimer, daughter and sister of earls of March and a great-granddaughter of Edward III, was born in 1375 and was decades his junior.

Alice appears next in the list of Arundel/Lancaster children and was the third child and second daughter, and may have been born in 1348 or 1349. She was, therefore, likely to have been a bit older than her husband Thomas Holland, earl of Kent and Lord Wake, the eldest son and heir of Joan of Kent, later princess of Wales and mother of King Richard II. Thomas was said to be either nine or ten years old in the inquisition post mortem held after his father Thomas Holland the elder died at the end of 1360, and therefore was born in 1350 or 1351. [4] Alice had originally been betrothed to Edmund Mortimer, future earl of March (born in early 1352 and also somewhat her junior) on 6 November 1354, but this did not work out, and Edmund married Edward III's granddaughter Philippa of Clarence instead. [5] Alice's marriage to Thomas Holland had either already taken place or was shortly to take place on 10 April 1364. [6]

Alice and Thomas had two sons and five daughters who lived into adulthood. Both sons were married but left no legitimate children, though their second son Edmund, earl of Kent (1383-1408), had an illegitimate daughter named Alianore Holland with Edward III's granddaughter Constance, Lady Despenser, who had descendants. Four of their five daughters had children, and Alice and Thomas were and are the ancestors of pretty well everyone. They were the grandparents of, among many others, Joan Beaufort, queen-consort of Scotland, Edmund Beaufort, duke of Somerset, Edmund Mortimer, earl of March and Ulster (also the grandson of Alice's former betrothed Edmund Mortimer), Ralph Neville, earl of Westmorland, and Alice Montacute, countess of Salisbury. Thomas's will of 1397, written in English, talks movingly of the "love and trust that hath been between" himself and his wife. Alice outlived him by nineteen years and died in March 1416.

John Arundel, second son and fourth child, was betrothed to the heiress Eleanor Maltravers by 4 August 1357, when an entry on the Patent Roll talks of lands to be granted to "John son of the said earl [of Arundel], and Eleanor daughter of John son of the said John Mautravers and the heirs begotten by the said John [Arundel] of the body of the said Eleanor." Despite John's youth, he had been married to Eleanor by 9 February 1359. [7] In 1364 Eleanor was named as co-heir, with her elder sister Joan, to their grandfather John, Lord Maltravers, one of Edward II's custodians at Berkeley Castle in 1327 (John's only son John, Eleanor's father, died in 1349, and Eleanor's brother Henry, born c. 1 January 1348, died young). Eleanor was said to be nineteen in her grandfather's IPM of early 1364, and was therefore born around 1344/45, making her a few years older than her husband. [8]

John and Eleanor's first son, inevitably also named John Arundel, was, according to the elder John's inquisition post mortem in early 1380, born on 30 November 1364. [9] The elder John, therefore, must have been a very young father. Assuming he had to have been fourteen when he and Eleanor were allowed to consummate their marriage, and given that they must have consummated it by April/May 1364 at the latest as they had a child born at the end of November 1364, John can't have been born later than April/May 1350. Possibly he was a younger twin of his sister Alice, and was born in 1348/49? I'm only speculating, though. I suppose it's certainly possible that he became a father at fourteen. His wife Eleanor was probably twenty by late 1364 when she bore her first child.

As well as their eldest son John (b. 1364), who married Edward, Lord Despenser's daughter Elizabeth (d. 1408) in or before 1380, John Arundel and Eleanor Maltravers had four younger sons, William, Richard, Henry and Edward - the latter two are only known because they were named in their grandfather the earl of Arundel's will of 1375 and probably died young - and two daughters, Joan and Margaret. Sir John Arundel drowned in the Irish Sea in December 1379, possibly not yet thirty or only recently turned thirty, leaving his fifteen-year-old eldest son John as his heir. His widow Eleanor Maltravers married her second husband Sir Reynold or Reginald Cobham in 1380 and had more children with him. She died in 1404, and her grandson John Arundel (1385-1421), eldest son of her eldest son John Arundel (1364-90), was her heir. When Thomas, earl of Arundel died in 1415 leaving no legitimate children from his marriage to Beatriz of Portugal, and leaving no surviving brothers or nephews either, this branch of the family became earls of Arundel.

Incidentally, there's a new book about John Maltravers (d. 1364) by Caroleen McClure, published in 2019, which looks great.

Thomas Arundel was evidently the youngest child of Richard, earl of Arundel and Eleanor of Lancaster, and made an excellent career in the Church: he became bishop of Ely, then archbishop of York, then archbishop of Canterbury. His entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states that he was twenty when he became bishop of Ely in August 1373, so he must have been born between September 1352 and August 1353. Thomas's career was a fascinating one, not least because he was banished by a vengeful Richard II in 1397 when his elder brother the earl was executed, and returned to England in 1399 with Henry of Lancaster, soon to become Henry IV. Archbishop Arundel died in 1414, outlived by his sisters Joan, dowager countess of Hereford and Alice, dowager countess of Kent.


1) Calendar of Fine Rolls 1413-22, pp. 166-67.
2) Petitions to the Pope 1342-1419, p. 99.
3) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1345-48, pp. 328-29.
4) Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1352-60, no. 657.
5) Calendar of Close Rolls 1354-60, pp. 92-94 ("witnessing that the earl of la Marche has granted that Edmund his son and heir shall marry Alice daughter of the said earl of Arundel").
6) CPR 1361-64, p. 480.
7) CPR 1354-58, p. 595; Feet of Fines, P 25/1/288/47, no. 637, which talks of "John, son of Richard, earl of Arundel, and Eleanor, his wife."
8) CIPM 1347-52, no. 190: Henry Maltravers was "aged one of the feast at the Circumcision last" in April 1349. CIPM 1361-65, no. 592.
9) CIPM 1377-84, nos. 179-89, "aged 15 years at the feast of St Andrew last" in February 1380.l o

22 December, 2019

Merry Christmas 2019

This blog has now been running for just over fourteen years, since 3 December 2005! It's yet another festive season, and here's a festive wish to you from me.

I have an article about Philippa of Hainault, Edward III's queen, in the new issue of BBC History Magazine (the January 2020 issue). I have my copy of it already, though I'm not sure if it's in the shops yet. If not, it surely will be soon.

Philippa of Hainault arrived in England at Christmas 1327, just days after the funeral of her father-in-law Edward II, whom she never met, in Gloucester on 20 December. She was most probably just thirteen years old; according to the chronicler Jean Froissart, she was 'almost fourteen' when she married Edward III on or around 25 January 1328, and if he was correct on this point, this would place Philippa's date of birth around February 1314. Contrary to popular modern belief - based on the statement by Froissart that she and her sisters were 'Margerite, Phelippe, Jehanne and Ysabiel' - Philippa was not the second daughter of her parents, but the third. Johanna of Hainault had married the future count of Jülich as far back as February 1324, was already a mother by late 1327, and was certainly older than Queen Philippa. Also contrary to popular modern belief, there is no reason to suppose that Philippa was born on 24 June 1314. Her eldest sister Margaretha, Holy Roman Empress, queen of Germany and Italy, and duchess of Bavaria, was born on (or close to) 24 June 1310, and her date of birth has often been assigned to her sister on no real evidence whatsoever.

The Hainault sisters' mother Jeanne de Valois, countess of Hainault and Holland, gave birth to her youngest child Jan sometime in late 1327 not long before Philippa moved to England, but he died soon after birth. Their brother Louis or Lodewijk (b. 1325) also died in or shortly before October 1327. (Some of Jeanne's grandchildren were older than or the same age as her own youngest children.) The end of 1327 was, therefore, a sad time for Countess Jeanne; she lost two of her sons, the two youngest of her nine or more children, and her third daughter Philippa moved permanently to England. Jeanne's household accounts show that a succession of ladies and 'young ladies' attended the Hainault court at Christmas 1327, 'to visit and console Madame'. And although Philippa of Hainault was to form a very happy and successful, and very long, marriage to Edward III, her situation in her new home was to be a very difficult one for the first few years, with her mother-in-law Isabella of France and Isabella's chief ally Roger Mortimer dominating the government. It would be most interesting to know what young Philippa was thinking when she arrived in her new country, almost exactly 692 years ago.

08 December, 2019

Thomas Romeyn (d. 1312/13) And His Daughter Rohese Burford (d. 1329)

Thomas Romeyn or Romayn was a wealthy pepperer, i.e. spice-trader, in London late in the reign of Edward I and early in the reign of Edward II. His last name is believed to indicate Italian birth or ancestry, i.e. 'Roman', and indeed many pepperers in London in the early fourteenth century were Italian or of Italian origin. Thomas was sheriff of London in 1290/91, mayor in 1309/10, and one of the city aldermen from 1294 until his death in or a little after late 1312. He made his will on 21 December 1312 and probably died soon afterwards, and certainly before 19 May 1313.

Sometime in or before the mid-1280s, Thomas Romeyn married Juliana Hauteyn, sister of Philip Hauteyn (d. 1304), also a pepperer from London. The couple had four daughters: Rohese (or Roesia or Rose), Margery, Alice, and Joan. Alice and Joan both became nuns at Holywell Priory in Shoreditch. Rohese Romeyn was born around 1286 and her sister Margery around 1290; they were said to be forty and thirty-six years old respectively in their mother Juliana's inquisition post mortem of June 1326. Rohese married John Burford, a pepperer originally from Southampton, and Margery married Robert Upton, sometime before 21 December 1312 when their father mentioned his two sons-in-law in his will. Margery Upton née Romeyn was widowed and married her second husband William Weston sometime before June 1326. Thomas Romeyn's will also mentions another member of the family, his daughters' aunt, 'Dame Cristina de Kent'. [1]

The spice trade made Thomas and Juliana Romeyn very well-off: they owned lands, tenements and houses in London, Middlesex, Surrey, Kent and Sussex. The Romeyns lived in the parish of St Mary Aldermary on Watling Street, one of the many London churches which would be badly damaged centuries later in the Great Fire of 1666, and was rebuilt by Christopher Wren. Their eldest daughter Rohese and her husband John Burford lived for years on Soper Lane in London, possibly in a residence owned by Thomas Romeyn. John Burford died in or before October 1322, and Rohese did not remarry. [2] The couple had a son, James, born in about 1320 when Rohese was about thirty-four, and daughters Katherine and Joan. James Burford was knighted in the early 1340s. [3] Joan Burford must have been older than her brother James as she was already married by 1329 when James was only about nine years old; she married Thomas Betoyne, who, like her father John Burford and her maternal grandfather Thomas Romeyn, was a pepperer.

Juliana Romeyn née Hauteyn outlived her husband Thomas by a few years and died in May 1326; an inquisition post mortem for her was held the following month, because some of the many houses, tenements and lands the Romeyns owned were held of the king in chief. Rohese Burford née Romeyn was ill at the time of her mother's death in May 1326 and for some weeks afterwards, and it was said that "from weakness [she] cannot exert herself without danger." She had recovered enough by 16 June 1326 to do fealty to the king with her brother-in-law William Weston, her younger sister Margery's second husband, and they received Juliana's lands. [4

As the executor of her late husband John Burford's will, Rohese had to petition Edward II on several occasions asking for two loans of £142 John had made to the king to be repaid to her. [5] In or before January 1325, Rohese was able to lend a man the sum of 1,000 marks or £666. In modern terms, this is over a million pounds. A successful businesswoman in her own right, Rohese made a living from exporting wool as well as running her late husband's spice business. [6] She displayed yet another of her talents in 1316, when she made and embroidered a cope Edward II sent as a gift to the newly-elected pope, John XXII, and the king paid her 100 marks for it. [7]

Rohese Burford née Romeyn wrote her will on Friday, 31 March 1329, and died shortly before 12 April at the age of about forty-three, leaving her nine-year-old son James Burford as her heir. [8] In her will, Rohese bequeathed forty shillings for repairs to be carried out on London Bridge, and requested John Pulteney, then mayor of London, to act as the guardian of her two young unmarried children Katherine and James until they came of age. Rohese's younger sister Margery (b. c. 1290) had a daughter with her first husband Robert Upton, whom she named Juliana after her mother Juliana Romeyn née Hauteyn, and a son called Richard Weston from her second marriage, who was her heir. Rohese's son Sir James Burford married a woman named Katherine Strecche, and had a daughter and heir Margaret. According to a book written in the late nineteenth century, Rohese née Romeyn and John Burford had a third daughter named Margaret, who married John Pulteney, the mayor of London who was also James Burford's guardian in and after 1329. This would make James and Pulteney brothers-in-law, and may well be true, though there is no mention of a daughter named Margaret in Rohese's will.


1) Calendar of Wills Proved and Enrolled in the Court of Husting, London, vol. 1, p. 238; Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1317-27, no. 696.
2) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1317-21, p. 533; CPR 1321-4, p. 207.
3) CIPM 1327-36, no. 229; Calendar of Close Rolls 1341-43, pp. 550-51; Calendar of Wills Proved and Enrolled, p. 352.
4) Calendar of Fine Rolls 1319-27, p. 393; CCR 1323-27, pp. 582-85; CIPM 1317-27, no. 696.
5) The National Archives SC 8/178/8894, SC 8/158/7871 and 7872, SC 8/113/5604 and 5605.
6) CCR 1323-27, p. 336; TNA SC 8/178/8894.
7) Thomas Stapleton, 'A Brief Summary of the Wardrobe Accounts of the tenth, eleventh, and fourteenth years of King Edward the Second', Archaeologia, 26 (1836), p. 322.
8) Wills Proved, p. 352; CIPM 1327-36, no. 229.

17 November, 2019

Documentary about Edward II on Arte

Last year, I was interviewed in Cologne for a documentary about Edward II, which was shown on the Arte TV channel (a French-German collaboration) yesterday evening, 16 November. For anyone who reads German, there's more info about the programme hereThe documentary is now available on the Arte website, and also features Professors Seymour Phillips and Chris Given-Wilson. It can be seen until 13 February 2020, is fifty-three minutes long, and is mostly in German with English subtitles (with the British historians speaking English, of course). They gave me the last word, heh. Enjoy! :-)

10 November, 2019

10 November 1347: Death of Hugh Audley, Earl of Gloucester

Hugh Audley, made earl of Gloucester by his wife Margaret's first cousin Edward III in 1337, died on 10 November 1347. He was the only one of Edward II's male 'favourites' who survived Edward's reign, and lived long enough to become a respected elderly statesman, a million miles from the frivolous young knight who, with Roger Damory and William Montacute, dominated the middle years of Edward II's reign and who were collectively slammed as 'worse than [Piers] Gaveston' by a chronicler.

Hugh was the second son of Hugh Audley the elder of Stratton Audley in Oxfordshire, who acted as justice of North Wales for part of Edward II's reign and who was briefly steward of Edward's household in 1312. Hugh the younger had an older brother, James, who was their father's heir but is rather obscure and played little role in Edward II's reign. Hugh Audley the elder was also a second son; his elder brother was Nicholas Audley (d. 1299), whose sons Thomas (d. 1307) and Nicholas (d. 1316) I wrote about recently. Hugh Audley the elder married a woman named Isolde, the mother of his children, who was long believed to have been a member of the Mortimer family. Genealogist Douglas Richardson, however, made the excellent discovery in 2017 that Isolde was in fact the daughter of Sir Roger le Rous (d. 1294), sheriff of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. As well as their sons James and Hugh Audley, Hugh Audley the elder and Isolde le Rous had a daughter Alice, who married firstly Ralph, Lord Greystoke (1299-1323) and secondly Ralph Neville, lord of Raby. Alice Audley's grandson, also Ralph Neville, was made first earl of Westmorland in 1397. Isolde le Rous was married firstly to Walter Balun, who died in 1287, so can only have married Hugh Audley the elder in 1288 or later. Their second son Hugh Audley, earl of Gloucester, was probably born in the early 1290s or thereabouts.

Hugh the younger joined Edward II's household as a knight in late 1311, around the time that Piers Gaveston was sent into his third exile. On 28 April 1317, Hugh married Piers' widow Margaret de Clare, the king's niece. Their only child Margaret the younger, ultimately the elder Margaret's sole heir after her other daughter Joan Gaveston died in early 1325, was born at an uncertain date, probably in the early 1320s. When the elder Margaret died in April 1342, her daughter was said to be either 18 or 20 years old, and when Hugh died in late 1347, she was said to be either 24 or 26. Both Hugh and Margaret were imprisoned after the battle of Boroughbridge in March 1322, so the latest their daughter can have been born was about nine months later, i.e. in late 1322.

Hugh Audley escaped from prison at Nottingham Castle sometime after 14 December 1325, though his wife Margaret, presumably with their little daughter in tow, was not released from Sempringham Priory in Lincolnshire until 11 December 1326. Hugh's brother-in-law and greatest rival Hugh Despenser the Younger had been executed two and a half weeks before, and had Despenser and Edward II not fallen from power in late 1326, Hugh and Margaret would certainly have remained in captivity, perhaps for many more years. Hugh Audley was obviously in Queen Isabella's favour after her husband's downfall in and after late 1326, as she granted him numerous appointments and favours, though like many others, Hugh grew sick of the grasping, self-interested regime which had replaced another grasping, self-interested regime and joined the earl of Lancaster's rebellion against the dowager queen in late 1328. Things improved after Edward III's coup in October 1330, and the young king made Hugh earl of Gloucester, the title once held by his wife's de Clare family, in 1337.

Hugh lost his wife of almost exactly a quarter of a century when Margaret de Clare died in early April 1342, six years after their daughter and heir Margaret the younger was abducted by and forcibly married to Sir Ralph Stafford, later first earl of Stafford. The Staffords had two sons and four daughters, and after their first son the younger Ralph died sometime between November 1344 and November 1347, the Audley/Stafford heir was their second son Hugh Stafford, named after his maternal grandfather. Hugh Audley, earl of Gloucester, died on 10 November 1347 in his mid or late fifties. His grandson Hugh Stafford and granddaughters Elizabeth, Joan and Beatrice Stafford all had children, and although Hugh Audley only had one child, he has untold numbers of descendants.

25 October, 2019

Eleanor Despenser (née de Clare) and her Two Husbands

Edward II's eldest niece Eleanor Despenser née de Clare was widowed from her first husband Hugh Despenser the Younger on 24 November 1326 when she was thirty-four years old, after twenty and a half years of marriage. A week previously, Eleanor - closely associated with the greedy and despotic regime of her uncle and husband - had been imprisoned in the Tower of London, and was released by her much younger first cousin Edward III (or rather, by someone acting in the fifteen-year-old king's name) in February 1328. She was restored to the lands she held as her inheritance from her late brother Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester (1291-1314) later in 1328.

Sometime not too long before 26 January 1329, Eleanor was abducted from Hanley Castle in Worcestershire by her second husband William la Zouche, lord of Ashby in Leicestershire (now called Ashby de la Zouch). [1William had previously been married to the dowager countess of Warwick, Alice Beauchamp née Toeni (d. 1324), mother of his children Alan and Joyce, and was much Eleanor Despenser's senior, born probably in the 1270s or in 1280 at the latest. He was old enough to fight at the battle of Falkirk in 1298. William la Zouche was the son of Robert Mortimer of Richard's Castle in Herefordshire and Joyce la Zouche, and began using his mother's family name in the early 1300s; his elder brother Hugh Mortimer (d. 1304) was their parents' heir, and Hugh's two daughters and heirs were the same age as Eleanor Despenser. In contemporary records, William often appears as 'William la Zouche de Mortimer'. The Mortimers of Richard's Castle were only fairly distantly related to the much more famous Mortimers of Wigmore, earls of March. [2]

Eleanor Despenser married William la Zouche before 26 January 1329, when her abduction (or 'abduction') reached the ears of royal clerks, who recorded it on the Patent Roll. It is not at all clear whether she consented to the marriage or not. William had been appointed as the custodian of all her lands, including the great lordship of Glamorgan in South Wales, in May 1327 during Eleanor's imprisonment in the Tower of London. By marrying her, William became the outright owner of all her lands rather than merely their custodian, so it is hard to imagine there was much romance involved in his wish to marry her. [3He had been one of the men who captured her uncle Edward II and husband Hugh in South Wales on 16 November 1326, and led the siege of her teenaged eldest son Hugh or 'Huchon' inside Caerphilly Castle from late 1326 to 20 March 1327 with a view to handing the young man over to Queen Isabella to be executed. This all makes him sound like the husband from hell as far as Eleanor was concerned, but who knows, perhaps they had an understanding. William's previous marriage to a woman above him in rank, the dowager countess of Warwick, perhaps indicates that he was a man of some charm and appeal. Or perhaps he was ruthlessly determined to marry Eleanor the wealthy, fertile and partly royal widow and didn't much care what she thought of him and whether she consented or not. I honestly don't know.

Bizarrely, the young nobleman Sir John Grey of Rotherfield (Oxfordshire) also began claiming in early 1329 that he was Eleanor Despenser's husband, and royal clerks recorded the abduction of his supposed wife from Hanley Castle at the same time as they recorded the abduction of Hugh Despenser's widow Eleanor, without realising they were the same person.

Sir John Grey was eight years Eleanor's junior, born on 29 October 1300, and in January 1329 was a twenty-eight-year-old widower with a young son. [4Bad feeling persisted between John Grey and William la Zouche, and in October 1331 Grey accused Zouche of stealing his goods and six of his horses from Lechlade. Several months later, the two men quarrelled so badly that Grey came close to drawing his dagger on Zouche in Edward III's presence, whereupon he was arrested. [5] Why Grey claimed to be married to Eleanor is unclear; it may be that they had arranged to wed and that William la Zouche got in first, or perhaps they had been having an affair, or perhaps he was simply trying it on.

The bishop of Coventry and Lichfield finally settled the matter in mid-May 1333, declaring that William la Zouche was Eleanor Despenser's rightful husband. John Grey had complained to the bishop that William 'seized and ravished the said Eleanor, and detains her.' [6] By then, Eleanor had borne William a son, the youngest of her many children, named William after his father. The younger William la Zouche became a monk at Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset, was acknowledged as 'uncle' by Eleanor's grandson Edward, Lord Despenser and was granted an annuity by his Despenser kin, and was still alive in 1390. As for Sir John Grey of Rotherfield, he did marry again and had another two sons, and in later years was steward of Edward III's household and one of the founding members of the Knights of the Garter, so in the end did not do too badly despite losing out on marriage to Eleanor Despenser. He died in 1359 at the age of fifty-nine.

William la Zouche died in February 1337 leaving his and Alice Toeni's son Alan, born in 1317, as his heir, and Eleanor buried him in Tewkesbury Abbey in Gloucestershire, the de Clare and Despenser mausoleum and where she had buried her first husband in late 1330 as well. William had made Eleanor one of the executors of his will, though as it turned out, she only outlived him by four months and died at the age of forty-four in June 1337. It may be that they had made something of a success of their marriage, despite its unpromising start and despite John Grey of Rotherfield's years-long attempt to marry Eleanor instead. William and Eleanor appeared together before an 'official of Canterbury' sometime before May 1333 and described themselves as husband and wife, so it seems that Eleanor was happy to be William's wife and wasn't complaining about it, or using the whole strange situation to attempt to have her marriage annulled.


1) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1327-30, p. 422.
2) Complete Peerage, vol. 12B, p. 957.
3) Calendar of Close Rolls 1327-30, pp. 81, 121.
4) Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1317-27, no. 336.
5) Calendar of Fine Rolls 1327-37, p. 298; CPR 1330-34, pp. 203, 292; CCR 1333-37, p. 110.
6) Calendar of Papal Letters 1305-41, p. 394.

15 October, 2019

Book Giveaway: Philippa of Hainault

Today is the official release date of my biography of Edward III's queen Philippa of Hainault (c. 1314-69), the first biography of her since 1910. It was really exciting to have the chance to tell her amazing story. I have TWO free signed hardback copies of the book to give away! As always, the competition is open to everyone, wherever you are in the world; all you need is a postal address. To enter the draw, do one of the following:

1) Email me at: edwardofcaernarfon(at)yahoo.com.
2) Leave a comment here, with your email address, please, so I can contact you if you're a winner.
3) Send me a private message on my Edward II page on Facebook, also with your email address.
4) If you're on my friends list on Facebook, or if we follow each other on Twitter, you're also very welcome to send me a message there.

The deadline is 31 October 2019, so you have more than two weeks to enter. On 1 November, I'll email the winners and ask you for your postal addresses so I can send you your copies. Good luck!

09 October, 2019

9 October 1325: Edward II, Eleanor Despenser, and the Goldfinches

On 9 October 1325, Edward II gave ten shillings to one Jack the Trumpeter of Dover, who had bought forty-seven caged goldfinches for Edward to give to his niece Eleanor Despenser, and also paid his clerk Will of Dunstable to look after the birds until Eleanor took possession of them. I've often wondered why Edward bought forty-seven goldfinches particularly, as it seems such a random number; had he originally bought fifty, but three had died? What's also interesting is that the word appears in English in the otherwise Anglo-Norman text of the king's chamber account (now kept in the library of the Society of Antiquaries of London): goldfynches. Perhaps Edward's chamber clerks, good at French though they undoubtedly were, could not think what the French word for 'goldfinches' might be. I sympathise; neither do I, without looking on Google Translate. ("Errrrm, err, errrrm, finches d'or, maybe? Oh, apparently it's chardonneret. Who knew?")

Eleanor Despenser, now thirty-three years old, was about seven months pregnant at the time of this gift, and gave birth to a child - probably her youngest daughter Elizabeth, Lady Berkeley - at her uncle's manor-house of Sheen sometime shortly before 14 December 1325. She moved into Sheen soon before the gift of the goldfinches, and stayed there until she gave birth and presumably for a while afterwards as well. Edward also gave her gifts of caged larks and three swans on other occasions in 1325, and gifts of cash too. Eleanor's itinerary, where it can be discovered, reveals that she was at court with the king and with her husband, Edward's mighty favourite Hugh Despenser the Younger, most of the time in the 1320s. My book about Eleanor Despenser and her sisters Margaret Gaveston Audley and Elizabeth de Burgh, currently titled Powerful Pawns of the Crown, is coming out on 30 January 2020. In it - among much else, obviously - I take a look at the intriguing evidence for Eleanor's complex relationships with her uncle Edward II and with Hugh Despenser the Younger. My view is that Eleanor was a devoted supporter of both men, and was involved with Hugh's extortions up to her neck, even when they were aimed at her own sisters.

29 September, 2019

29/30 September 1308: Double Wedding of the de Clare and de Burgh Siblings

Edward II attended two weddings at Waltham Abbey, Essex on 29 and 30 September 1308: those of his eldest nephew Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester and Hertford, who was just seven years younger than his uncle and was now seventeen, and Gilbert's third and youngest sister Elizabeth de Clare, who was two weeks past her thirteenth birthday. (According to the Complete Peerage, which states that she was born in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire on 16 September 1295, but fails to cite its source.)

The de Clare siblings married siblings. Elizabeth's new husband was John de Burgh, eldest son and heir of Richard de Burgh, earl of Ulster (b. c. 1259), and Gilbert's new wife was Maud de Burgh, one of John's many sisters. The de Burgh siblings' dates of birth are not known, but John was probably some years older than Elizabeth de Clare, perhaps eighteen or so, and Maud would also have been in her teens. One of their sisters, Elizabeth de Burgh, had married Robert Bruce, earl of Carrick and future king of Scotland, in 1302, and was under house arrest in England from 1306 until 1314. (Elizabeth, much later, became the mother of King David II of Scotland, born March 1324, who married Edward II's youngest child Joan of the Tower.) Other de Burgh sisters included: Eleanor, probably the eldest, who married Thomas, Lord Multon of Egremont in Cumberland in 1295; Aveline, who married John de Bermingham, made earl of Louth by Edward II after John defeated Edward Bruce in battle in 1318; Katherine, who married Maurice FitzGerald, earl of Desmond; and Joan, who married Thomas FitzGerald, earl of Kildare.

As Elizabeth de Clare was barely thirteen years old, she was evidently considered too young to travel to Ireland and to cohabit with her husband, and seems to have spent the next year or a little more at Amesbury Priory in Wiltshire with her aunt Mary (b. 1279), Edward II's sister, a nun there. She gave birth to her son William de Burgh on 17 September 1312, the day after her seventeenth birthday, and was widowed in June 1313. Her father-in-law Earl Richard outlived his eldest son by thirteen years, and was succeeded as earl of Ulster in 1326 by his grandson, Elizabeth and John's son William. Gilbert and Maud de Clare, earl and countess of Gloucester, seem to have had a son born in 1312, according to several chroniclers; he may have been called John. Assuming he did exist, the little boy did not live long, and Countess Maud's claims to be pregnant after Gilbert was killed at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314 went on, and on, and on, until late 1316. Finally, Edward II had to admit that Gilbert's heirs were his three younger sisters Eleanor Despenser, Margaret Gaveston and Elizabeth de Burgh. Maud, dowager countess of Gloucester, died rather obscurely sometime in 1320 when she can hardly have been more than thirty, and was buried with her husband at the de Clare mausoleum of Tewkesbury Abbey in Gloucestershire.

15 September, 2019

Woking Palace, Surrey (Pics!)

The Surrey manor of Woking belonged to Philip, Lord Basset (d. 1271) - it's called 'Wocking' in his inquisition post mortem that year - and passed to his daughter Aline, countess of Norfolk (d. 1281), then to Aline's son and heir Hugh Despenser the Elder (1261-1326). Hugh was in possession of Woking from 1282, the year he came of age, until his execution on 27 October 1326, when, like all his many other lands across England, it became forfeit to the Crown. Woking was subsequently granted to Edward II's half-brother Edmund of Woodstock, earl of Kent (1301-30), and passed to Edmund's daughter and ultimate heir Joan of Kent (d. 1385), princess of Wales and countess of Kent, and to Joan's eldest son Thomas Holland (d. 1397) and his sons. Later, the manor belonged to Margaret Beaufort (d. 1509), granddaughter of Margaret Holland and mother of Henry VII, and her grandson Henry VIII spent a lot of time at Woking.

I've written previously about Hugh Despenser the Elder and his son Hugh the Younger's incarceration of the Scottish noblewoman and heiress Elizabeth Comyn (1299-1372) for eighteen months at Woking and Pirbright, a nearby manor also held by Hugh the Elder, in 1324/25. Most probably, Elizabeth was held at the manor-house of Woking, and although none of the buildings still there today date from the early fourteenth century, the fourteenth-century buildings would have stood on the same site.

Woking Palace stands on a large site bordered on one site by the River Wey and on the other sides by a moat. The Friends of Woking Palace website is here, with lots and lots of great info about the site and its history, and excavations which have taken place there; they're holding open days at the palace this weekend, though probably by the time you read this, it might be a bit too late to go! If you're on Twitter, follow them here. Funnily enough, a few people who grew up in the area or lived there for a few years have told me that they've never even heard of Woking Palace and had no idea it was there, and it does stand a long way from the road and is barely, if at all, signposted. I'm sure that will change.

01 September, 2019

My Talk in Byfleet, Surrey

The Surrey manor of Byfleet belonged to Edward II personally; Sir Henry Leyburne (uncle of Juliana Leyburne, d. 1367, countess of Huntingdon) gave it to him sometime before August 1312, when it appears on the Patent Roll as 'the king's manor of Byfleet'. On Tuesday, 10 September 2019, I'm giving a talk about Edward II, his life, his reign and his connections to Byfleet, in the village. The talk will take place at St Mary's Church Community Hall, 124 Church Road, Byfleet, Surrey, KT14 7NF, and doors open around 7.30pm on 10 September with the talk due to begin at about 8pm. Tickets cost £3 and are available at the door, and see Google Maps for the venue. If you're anywhere in the vicinity, do come along and listen! I'll be talking for about an hour or a bit more and I promise to make it entertaining :-)

25 August, 2019


Photos of various places in Lincolnshire and Rutland: Oakham Castle, Essendine, Kettlethorpe, Stow Minster, Temple Bruer, Somerton Castle.

Below is the great hall of Oakham Castle, Rutland, taken by my dad a couple of days ago. The castle was originally built in the late twelfth century. From 1300 to 1312, the castle and barony of Oakham were held as part of her dower lands by Margaret, countess of Cornwall, sister of Gilbert 'the Red' de Clare, earl of Gloucester (1243-95), and widow of Edward I's first cousin Edmund, earl of Cornwall (1249-1300). After Margaret died in September 1312, Edward II granted Oakham to his niece, who was also Margaret's niece and was her namesake, the younger Margaret de Clare, countess of Cornwall, Piers Gaveston's widow. (Most confusingly, between 1307 and 1312 there were two Margaret de Clares, countesses of Cornwall, in England.) After Margaret's second husband Hugh Audley joined the Contrariant rebellion of 1321/22 and they were both imprisoned (Margaret at Sempringham Priory), Edward II gave Oakham to his half-brother Edmund of Woodstock, earl of Kent. The Audleys retrieved it after the king's downfall in 1326/27.

Great hall of Oakham Castle.

The manor of Essendine in Rutland passed to Hugh Despenser the Younger's second son Edward Despenser (born c. 1310, killed fighting in Brittany in 1342) in 1334 after the deaths of Hugh's mother Isabella Beauchamp's first cousin Idonea Leyburne and her second husband John Cromwell. Edward's eldest son, the future lord of Glamorgan and his uncle Huchon's heir, Edward Despenser the Younger, was born in Essendine in March 1336. A small castle was here in the fourteenth century, though none of it still exists except earthworks and the chapel where Edward Despenser was baptised, which now, rather fascinatingly, is the village church. Here are some photos I took in early July; for more info on the church, see here on British History Online.

The church in Essendine.

Earthworks behind the church.
Another view of the church.

The small village of Kettlethorpe a few miles from Lincoln is famous for being the home of Katherine Swynford (d. 1403), long-term mistress and third wife of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, and the great-grandmother of Edward IV and Richard III. Below, the church of St Peter and St Paul in Kettlethorpe, where at least some of John and Katherine's four Beaufort children (John, Henry, Thomas and Joan) may have been baptised in the 1370s. I took the pics on a warm humid overcast morning this July.

Next to the church, where the Swynfords' manor-house would have stood.

Stow Minster is an ancient church full of rich and glorious delights, which include Anglo-Saxon doorways, a carving on a pillar of a Viking ship assumed to be c. tenth-century, part of a wall painting of Thomas Becket made within thirty or so years of his death, and an inscription on a tomb dated to c. 1300, in Middle English, which states "All men that be in life, pray for Emma [who] was Fulk's wife".

Carving of a Viking ship on a pillar inside Stow Minster.

Anglo-Saxon doorway inside the Minster.

King Philip IV of France and Pope Clement V destroyed the military monastic order of the Knights Templar in and after 1307. This is an extant tower of one of the many buildings the wealthy Templars owned in England, called Temple Bruer (see here for more info).

And finally, Somerton Castle, built by Anthony Bek, bishop of Durham and patriarch of Jerusalem, in the 1280s. Bek gave it to Edward II in 1309, and after Edward's deposition it passed to his son and heir Edward III. Edward III kept the king of France captured at the battle of Poitiers, John II, captive at Somerton for a while, and also imprisoned his cousin Margaret, countess of Norfolk, there after she married her second husband Sir Walter Manny without his permission. In c. late 1335, Sir Hugh Frene captured Alice de Lacy, countess of Lincoln, at her own castle of Bolingbroke a few miles away, forcibly married her, and took her to Somerton Castle.

I am extremely grateful to the owners of Somerton, Mr and Mrs Porter, for their kind hospitality and generosity in inviting me to Somerton and letting me have a good look around.

18 August, 2019

Joan Martin, Countess of Lincoln (d. 1322) and Nicholas Audley (d. 1316)

Joan Martin was one of the three children of William, Lord Martin, a landowner in the West Country and South Wales who was born c. 1257 and died not long before 8 October 1324. Joan's brother, also called William, was their father's heir, and their sister Eleanor Martin married firstly William Hastings (1282-1311), who was heir to his father John, Lord Hastings (1262-1313) but died before him, and secondly Philip Columbiers. William Martin the younger must have been born c. 1294, as he was said to be thirty years old at their father's inquisition post mortem on 23 October 1324, and died childless on 4 April 1326. In his own IPM of May 1326, William's sister Eleanor Columbiers was said to be either thirty years old and more or forty years old and more, hence was born sometime between the mid-1280s and mid-1290s. [1] Their other sister Joan, countess of Lincoln, was already dead by then, and it is impossible to estimate a date of birth for Joan that's anything but very approximate, or to know where she came in the birth order of the three Martin children. She might have been born as late as c. 1295/96, or perhaps a few years before that.

Joan married the widowed Henry de Lacy, earl of Lincoln, sometime before 16 June 1310, when Edward II gave permission for Joan's father William Martin to give three manors to 'Henry de Lacy, earl of Lincoln, and Joan his wife'. [2] Henry, whose mother was Italian, was a good forty or so years Joan's senior, born around 1250/51. He was widowed from his first wife Margaret Longespee, countess of Salisbury in her own right, at an uncertain date; Margaret is last mentioned on record on 8 October 1306, which mentions 'the ancestors of Margaret his [Henry's] wife, daughter and heir of William Lungespee'. [3] As it doesn't say 'Margaret late his wife' or similar, this can probably be taken as evidence that she was still alive then. Her inquisition post mortem doesn't survive, however, if one was ever taken, nor even a writ to take her lands into the king's hands on her death. Given that Margaret Longespee was a countess in her own right, I find the fact that even the year of her death is not known to be a little sad.

Joan's stepdaughter Alice de Lacy was born at Christmas 1281 and was a few years her senior. Joan's marriage to Henry, earl of Lincoln was a short one: he died on 5 February 1311, aged about sixty. Joan was no older than her early twenties, and may only have been fifteen or sixteen. She and Henry had no children, and Alice, married to Edward II's first cousin Thomas, earl of Lancaster, was her father Henry and mother Margaret's heir. The dowager countess Joan did homage to Edward II for her dower lands from her marriage to Henry on 22 April 1311, and received them on 22 May 1311. [4] Edward II granted the rights to Joan's re-marriage to his brother-in-law Ralph Monthermer, Joan of Acre's widower, on 17 March 1311 a few weeks after the earl of Lincoln's death. [5] 

Joan Martin married her second husband Nicholas Audley without Edward II's (or Ralph Monthermer's) permission sometime before 3 May 1313, when the king ordered their lands to be seized into his own hands for this trespass. The royal order was carried out on 6 June, though Joan and Nicholas received the lands back fairly promptly, on 26 July 1313. On that day, Nicholas Audley was one of four men who acknowledged a debt of 900 marks to Ralph Monthermer. [6] Nicholas was the second son of Nicholas Audley (d. August 1299), was the younger brother and heir of the late Thomas Audley, and was a first cousin of Edward II's great 'favourite' and nephew-in-law, Hugh Audley, later earl of Gloucester. Nicholas Audley the elder's wife Katherine Giffard, mother of Nicholas who married Joan Martin, was, according to the Complete Peerage, born in 1272. She was alive on 16 February 1322 as a 'recluse' of Ledbury in Herefordshire. [7] Oh, and for the record, the name 'Audley' is spelt in approximately 396 different ways in medieval documents, including Daudeleye, Aldithele and Aldethelegh.

Nicholas's elder brother Thomas Audley was named as their father Nicholas's heir in September 1299, but died underage and childless sometime before 21 November 1307. [8] According to Nicholas the elder's IPM of September 1299, Thomas was 'aged 10 at the quinzaine of Easter last'. [9] Easter Sunday fell on 19 April in 1299, and the 'quinzaine of Easter' means two weeks after the feast, hence Thomas was supposedly born c. early May 1289. Thomas's own IPM of early 1308 says that his brother and heir Nicholas was 'aged 18 at the feast of St Martin last', which gives a date of birth of c. 11 November 1289. Clearly the two brothers can't have been born little more than six months apart. Edward II ordered an official to give Nicholas his lands on 27 March 1314 as he had proved his age (twenty-one) and done homage to the king; this seems very late for a man supposedly born in November 1289, as Nicholas would have been twenty-four by then. At any rate, whether he was truly born in 1289 or later, Nicholas was heir to his family's manors in Shropshire, Staffordshire and Wales. After Thomas Audley died in 1307, Edward II gave custody of the Audley lands during Nicholas's minority to - who else? - Piers Gaveston, who passed them on to his cousin Bertrand Caillau of Gascony. [11]

Joan Martin and Nicholas Audley's son James Audley was born at Kneesall ('Knesale') in Nottinghamshire either on c. 2 January 1313 or on roughly the same date in 1314; his proof of age is a little confusing. It was taken on '3 March, 9 Edward III', which is 1335, and says he was '21 years of age on Monday next after the Circumcision last'. The feast of the Circumcision is 1 January and the Monday after it fell on 2 January in 1335, so this seems to give James's date of birth as 2 January 1314, but in the proof of age, one of the jurors stated that 'on the day of the Purification, 6 Edward II, after the said James was born, he [the juror] had a son named Adam born at Knesale'. The feast of the Purification in Edward II's sixth regnal year was 2 February 1313, and apparently James Audley had already been born by then. Nine other jurors also stated that James was born in the sixth year of Edward II's reign, which ran from 8 July 1312 to 7 July 1313. James's father Nicholas and uncle William Martin's IPMs give his date of birth as either 2 January 1312, or 1 or 6 January 1314. [12] January 1312 seems much too early for Joan Martin to have borne a child to her second husband given that her first husband only died in February 1311. Even January 1313 seems a little early for the birth given that Edward II only found out about Nicholas and Joan's unlicensed marriage in May that year. If James Audley was born in January 1313, he must have been conceived in April 1312 and therefore it would seem that Joan Martin and Nicholas Audley had been married for a good long while before the king found out about it, though of course it's not necessarily the case that they were already married when they conceived James.

The marriage of Joan Martin, dowager countess of Lincoln, and Nicholas Audley proved tragically short; Nicholas died at the age of twenty-seven (or perhaps even younger) sometime not long before 6 December 1316, leaving his and Joan's son James as his heir. [13] Joan acknowledged an enormous debt of £10,000 to her father William Martin on 29 May 1318, and William stated that the 'recognisance shall be annulled in case Joan marries with his assent and counsel or in case she remain single during his life.' [14] Joan never did marry again, and died before 27 October 1322, only in her late twenties or early thirties. [15] Her father William outlived her, and her nine-year-old son James Audley was named as her heir in her inquisition post mortem and as co-heir, with his aunt Eleanor Columbiers, to his maternal uncle William Martin the younger in 1326. In December 1322 a few weeks after Joan's death, her father William Martin the elder was granted custody of the Audley lands which his grandson James Audley would inherit when he came of age. [16]

Edward II had given James Audley's marriage to Roger Mortimer of Wigmore, later first earl of March, on 9 December 1316 shortly after the death of James's father Nicholas. James was probably only three at the time. [17] He duly married Roger's daughter Joan Mortimer, and they had children Nicholas, Margaret and Joan Audley, born c. the late 1320s and early to mid-1330s. After Joan Mortimer's death, James Audley married a woman called Isabel, and, confusingly, had another daughter called Margaret with her. Nicholas Audley, his father's heir and named after his paternal grandfather (d. 1316), married Henry, Lord Beaumont's daughter Elizabeth but they had no children; Joan married John Tuchet or Touchet (b. 1327); Margaret the elder married Roger Hillary; and Margaret the younger married Fulk Fitzwarin. James Audley lived until 1386 when he was probably seventy-three, and his son Nicholas died in his early sixties in 1391. As Nicholas had no children, his heirs to his sizeable inheritance were his full sister Joan's twenty-year-old grandson John Tuchet, who became Lord Audley, his full sister Margaret Hillary, and his half-sister Margaret's two-year-old grandson Fulk Fitzwarin. [18]


1) CIPM 1272-91, no. 440; CIPM 1317-27, nos. 563, 710.
2) CPR 1307-13, p. 230.
3) CPR 1301-7, p. 463.
4) CCR 1307-13, pp. 314-15, 346, 348-9.
5) CPR 1307-13, p. 334; CFR 1307-19p. 170.
6) CFR 1307-19, p. 170, 172; CCR 1307-13, p. 535; CCR 1313-18, pp. 4, 67.
7) Complete Peerage, vol. 1, pp. 338-9; CFR 1319-27, p. 99.
8) CPR 1307-13, p. 17.
9) CIPM 1291-1300, no. 536.
10) CCR 1313-18, p. 44.
11) CPR 1307-13, p. 17; CIPM 1307-17, no. 62.
12) CIPM 1317-27, nos. 56, 710; CIPM 1327-36, no. 699.
13) CIPM 1317-27, no. 56.
14) CCR 1313-18, pp. 614, 617.
15) CIPM 1317-27, no. 371.
16) CFR 1319-27, pp. 190-91.
17) CPR 1313-17, p. 574.
18) CIPM 1384-92, nos. 1062-76.

10 August, 2019

Isabella, Gaveston and Those Wretched Jewels

Sad, though not entirely surprising, to see Wikipedia repeat this annoying myth. See here and here.

The source for this statement, note number 22, is a book about England's queens-consort published in 2008. Here's the relevant passage:

Notice that the author doesn't cite a source for this allegation. (Incidentally, the 'magnificent 18,000-pound dowry' is wrong; although Philip IV did originally discuss giving his daughter a dowry of 18,000 livres tournois or 'pounds of Tours', the equivalent of 4,500 pounds sterling, he ultimately decided that her 'dowry' would be the duchy of Aquitaine, over which he and Edward I had battled for many years.) Agnes Strickland in her Lives of the Queens of England, volume 2, p. 131, published in the middle of the nineteenth century, first invented the notion that Edward II gave jewels to Piers Gaveston which Isabella considered rightfully hers. The passage is below. Notice that Strickland doesn't claim that Gaveston actually wore Isabella's jewels in front of her or went 'peacocking about' in them; that appears to be a fictional invention that appears in some twentieth-century novels about Edward II and Isabella of France which has found its way into non-fiction.

Yet even here, Strickland doesn't claim that the gifts were Isabella's, only that she 'resented' her husband giving his own gifts to Gaveston and was displeased about items she considered her own 'heirlooms' being given to someone else. Later writers picked up her claims about Isabella's resentment and displeasure - for which she didn't cite any source - and ran with them, until eventually we reach the whole nonsense about Gaveston prancing around in jewels which Edward has bestowed on him and which actually belonged to Isabella. The source for this entire story is the Annales Paulini, which states: "The king of France gave to his son-in-law the king of England a ring of his kingdom, the most beautiful bed ever seen, select war-horses, and many other extravagant gifts. All of which the king of England straight away sent to Piers [Gaveston]." As I've pointed out before, this in no way states that Philip gave these gifts to Isabella, or even to Isabella and Edward jointly. They were Edward's own wedding gifts from his new father-in-law, and why would Philip IV give his daughter war-horses anyway? Philip 'gave' the items to Edward, and Edward 'sent' them to Gaveston, his regent of England while he was in France to marry Isabella. There's no real indication that Gaveston was meant to keep the items permanently, and Isabella is not even mentioned. Why would she consider these items her own 'heirlooms'? The gifts were given to Edward II. By the norms of the fourteenth century, anything given to Edward legally belonged to Edward. Anything given to Isabella legally belonged, also, to Edward. When Isabella wanted to make her will when heavily pregnant in October 1312, as a married woman she required her husband's permission to dispose of her goods, as legally everything she owned was his. In a fourteenth-century context, to suggest that Isabella would have considered items given to her husband to be her own, to be 'part of her dower', makes no sense. And only one of the gifts given to Edward by Philip was jewellery anyway, the ring, unless perhaps the other 'extravagant gifts' included other pieces of jewellery. So where on earth has this nonsense about Gaveston 'peacocking about in Isabella's jewellery' even come from, and why are books of allegedly serious non-fiction repeating it as fact?

Agnes Strickland's books, and her prejudices, have proved extraordinarily influential and enduring. She often cites the St Albans chronicler Thomas Walsingham as a source for Edward II and Isabella, as though a man who was born c. the 1340s and died in c. 1422, the year Edward and Isabella's great-great-great-grandson Henry VI succeeded to the throne, is in any way a reliable source for things that happened in 1308. The letter Isabella supposedly sent to her father complaining that she was 'wretched' comes straight from Walsingham. Strickland, however, living and writing in the Victorian era - she was born in the late eighteenth century - can be forgiven for her prejudices and for her misreading or misunderstanding of fourteenth-century sources in Latin. For her time, she did incredible research and her contribution to medieval scholarship was immense, and we should acknowledge her as a pioneering female historian. Modern writers who copy her prejudices and her misconceptions, however, and who don't check the primary sources for themselves, and repeat stories told in novels as though they're fact, cannot be so easily forgiven.

Also, Edward did not 'refuse' to grant Isabella her own lands: he gave her his county of Ponthieu on 14 May 1308, three months and seven days after her arrival in England. This is another modern myth, created - like numerous other modern myths - by a writer determined to find examples of Isabella's alleged suffering and victimisation at the hands of her husband everywhere. The usual dower lands given to the queen of England were still held by Edward's stepmother Queen Marguerite, and alternative arrangements had to be made. The widow of Edward's nephew the earl of Gloucester, killed at Bannockburn on 24 June 1314, did not receive her dower lands until mid-December 1314 nearly six months later, and in 1317 it took almost another six months to partition Gloucester's lands for his three sisters. Philippa of Hainault married Edward III in January 1328, and received no lands for more than two years, until February 1330. And Edward II gave Isabella a household of almost 200 people, far larger than that of any previous queen of England, so I haven't the faintest idea where this 'refused to give her a household' comes from. But who cares about silly things like facts and about being fair when you can further the Victim!Isabella agenda?