12 January, 2019

Oliver of Bordeaux (c. 1290? - c. early 1360s)

Oliver of Bordeaux was a squire of Edward II's chamber, a Gascon who lived in England for most of his long life and who often appears in the English chancery rolls as 'Oliver de Burdeux' or 'Oliver de Burdegala', the Latin form of his name. Here's a post about him. (Second part of my post about Hugh Despenser the Elder is coming soon, by the way, but I'm still working on it.)

I've first found Oliver on record in England on 29 March 1308, when he is mentioned as a valet of Edward II's household, a few months after Edward's accession to the throne. [1] I assume, given how long Oliver lived - he was still alive in 1359/60 and perhaps later - that he was a very young man then, no more than eighteen or twenty or so, and perhaps had not long arrived in England. As a Gascon, from the territories ruled by the English kings in their capacity as dukes of Aquitaine, he was a subject of the English Crown, and plenty of other Gascon men served in Edward II's household throughout his reign. Oliver was one of four sons of the curiously-named Lop-Bergunh or Loup-Borgoun, a merchant from Morlaàs in Béarn, 115 miles south of Bordeaux and only about four miles from the village of Gabaston, where Piers Gaveston's family originated from. There is a reference on the fine roll of September 1243 to an Oliver de Bordeaux, burgess of Morlaàs, almost certainly an ancestor, and this book states that our Oliver "belonged to the great family which once governed the capital of Aquitaine" and that Pey (or Pierre) de Bordeaux, seneschal of Gascony in Henry III's reign, was also an ancestor.

Oliver's eldest brother, their father's heir, was also named Lop-Bergunh and was mayor of the city of Bordeaux for some of the 1310s; he was still alive in the early 1330s (see here for one of his many petitions to Edward III; his name is spelt 'Lopborgoign de Bordeux' and he refers to "Lord E., formerly king of England, your father, whom God absolve"). They had another brother called Guilhem or Guilhem-Bergunh, and a fourth whose name appears as 'Domengeon de Burdeaux' and who joined the Church in or before March 1308. [2] Oliver and his brothers Lop-Bergunh and Guilhem were all in England in 1315, and were said to be "on the king's service at Berwick-on-Tweed." [3] In the early years of his reign, Edward II gave Oliver almost 500 acres of land, pasture, meadow and wood, and houses and gardens, in Eton, Windsor and Old Windsor, and houses in Sevyng Lane, London (later called Seething Lane). [4] He was constable of Guildford Castle in Surrey and Windsor Castle in the late 1310s. [5]

As well as giving Oliver lands and frequent gifts of cash, Edward II arranged a very favourable marriage for him with a noblewoman called Maud Trussell, née Mainwaring, a widow with sons called John, William and Warin Trussell. The king personally attended Oliver and Maud’s wedding "at the door of the chapel within the park of Woodstock" near Oxford on 26 June 1317, gave them two rings worth thirty shillings each, and five days later on 1 July granted them an annual income of 100 marks (£66) from the Exchequer. [6] Maud was of noble birth and one of the three co-heirs of her father, while Oliver was the son of a merchant and not his father's eldest son or heir, and was never knighted. Assuming that Maud consented to the marriage and was not forced into it by Edward II, she was happy enough to marry a man of lower rank than she; perhaps Oliver was an attractive and personable man, and to be fair he was far from being a nobody but came from quite a prominent family of Béarn. Oliver must have paid out the £42, 14s, 1d it cost for Maud to travel to court in June 1317 and to stay there with the king before their wedding, as on 3 August 1317 Edward ordered that sum to be paid to him for Maud's expenses. [7]

Maud Trussell, née Mainwaring was the third and youngest daughter of Warin Mainwaring, sometimes spelt Meynwaring or Menwarin, who died at the end of May 1289. At Warin's inquisition post mortem on 23 June 1289, Maud was said to be "aged half a year and more," hence must have been born about the end of 1288 or thereabouts, and was twenty-eight when she married Oliver of Bordeaux in June 1317. (Her sisters Joan and Margery were five and three respectively in June 1289.) [8] Her second husband Oliver was probably about the same age. Maud Mainwaring married her first husband William Trussell sometime in the early 1300s. There were several Sir William Trussells active in England in the early fourteenth century, and I'm not entirely sure which one Maud married; obviously it can't have been the Sir William Trussell who read out the charges against Hugh Despenser the Younger in Hereford in November 1326 (and had done the same for Hugh the Elder a month earlier), as claimed on Wikipedia and here, as Maud married Oliver of Bordeaux in June 1317 when she was a widow. A William Trussell, perhaps the man of this name who was Maud's husband, was knighted with Edward of Caernarfon and more than 250 others on 22 May 1306. See here and here for posts in soc.genealogy.medieval about the family. There is no inquisition post mortem for William Trussell, and I haven't found any entries in the chanvery rolls relating to his death, so the date when he died is not clear; perhaps 1316 or early 1317, just a few months before his widow married Oliver.

There are numerous references to Oliver of Bordeaux in the chancery rolls, the chancery warrants, Edward II's chamber and wardrobe accounts, and so on, and it is apparent that he was very close to the king and favoured by him. Various entries in the chancery rolls in the 1310s and 1320s state that Edward II made grants or appointments "on the information of Oliver de Burdegala," revealing that the young Gascon had access to the king and was willing and able to intercede with him on others' behalf. Oliver accompanied Edward to the north of England in the autumn of 1310 when he went on an unsuccessful mission to defeat Robert Bruce, and on the day Edward heard of Piers Gaveston's murder a week after it happened, on 26 June 1312, the king ordered the keeper of the royal manor of Burstwick to give 'bay colts' from the stud there to Oliver of Bordeaux, Sir Edmund Mauley and Sir Henry Beaumont. [9] Oliver was with the king at Langley at the beginning of 1315, just after Gaveston's funeral, when he sent a letter to the chancellor, John Sandal. [10] He went on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in or soon after February 1316, the year before Edward II arranged his marriage to Maud Trussell, and in December 1316 was appointed keeper of the bastides of 'Froundeboef, Seint Gyn and Lieuz' in his native Gascony (though given that he got married in England a few months later, I assume he was an absentee keeper). Oliver took part in the king's campaign against the Contrariants in 1321/22, and was with Edward when the royal cousin Thomas of Lancaster was executed in Pontefract in March 1322. On one occasion, Edward II used Oliver's seal on a writ: "Because we did not have our privy seal near us when this letter was made, we used the seal of our dear valet Oliver de Burdeux." [11]

A curious entry in Edward II's chamber account states that at Harpley in Norfolk on 7 February 1326, Edward sat beside Oliver of Bordeaux's bed at "a little before midnight", and gave him a gift of twenty marks. (Earlier in his reign, on 4 March and 26 April 1311, Edward had given Oliver hugely generous gifts of 100 marks on each occasion, and another twenty marks on 6 September 1322.) [12] The 7th of February 1326 was the night before Edward had it proclaimed around his kingdom that his wife, Isabella, had made an alliance in France with the remnant of the Contrariant faction, led by Roger Mortimer of Wigmore. Perhaps Edward had just found out that his wife had allied with his enemies and was shocked and unable to sleep, and unburdened himself to Oliver (though of course I'm only speculating). Oliver of Bordeaux stayed with Edward until the bitter end after the queen's invasion, and on 10 November 1326 just six days before the king's capture, was one of the five men Edward appointed as envoys to the queen and her and Edward's son Edward of Windsor. [13] As noted above, a Sir William Trussell read out the charges against the two Hugh Despensers in October and November 1326, and he was surely a relative of Oliver's wife Maud. I'm not sure how; this William Trussell was a Contrariant in 1321/22, and Maud, born c. late 1288, would seem much too young to be his mother. At any rate, it is possible that Oliver and Maud's loyalties were somewhat divided in the autumn of 1326, though Oliver did remain with Edward II and Hugh Despenser the Younger until days before their capture, and did not abandon them as most others did.

After Edward II's downfall, Oliver joined his son Edward III's household, and is named as one of the king's squires in June 1328 and again in 1330. In 1329, Oliver was appointed keeper of the castle of Bayonne in his native Gascony, and on 15 December 1330 a few weeks after he overthrew his mother Isabella and took over control of his own kingdom, Edward III praised Oliver's "laudable service" to his father. It seems that Oliver appointed a deputy to act on his behalf, however, and remained in England. [14] In 1352, Oliver was apparently serving in the household of Edward III's eldest son Edward of Woodstock, prince of Wales: on 7 November that year, there is a reference in the prince's account to 40 shillings being paid "by the hands of Oliver de Burdeux for play in the queen's [Philippa of Hainault's] chamber at Berkhamsted." [15]

Oliver of Bordeaux and Maud Trussell had no children together - Maud had three sons and apparently a daughter from her first marriage, so perhaps Oliver was infertile - and Maud died sometime before 23 May 1336, when an entry on the patent roll states "...inasmuch as the said Matilda [i.e. Maud] is now deceased leaving no heir of her body by the said Oliver...". She was still alive on 30 September 1334. [16] Edward III exempted Oliver for life in February 1342 from taking up knighthood and pardoned him for not having done so in the past; as Oliver had an annual income of £40 or more, he was qualified for knighthood and was obligated to become one, yet obviously did not wish to. In February 1331, he had his own squire, John le Taillour. [17] In 1336 and perhaps in other years, he acted as the attorney of his stepson, Sir William Trussell, second of Maud's three sons (John was the eldest, and Warin, named after Maud's father, the youngest). Oliver had also acted as the attorney of 'the burgesses of St Quitterie' in 1317. [18]

Edward III commissioned Oliver of Bordeaux and three other men "to survey the works in Windsor Castle" on 12 May 1351, and he was serving the king's eldest son in November 1352, so evidently Oliver was perfectly fit and healthy well over forty years after he had arrived in England. Oliver was still alive on 2 January 1359 when Sir William Trussell (either his stepson or his late wife Maud's grandson, I'm not sure) promised to pay £50 annually to hold various lands in and around Windsor "for the life of Oliver", and he was apparently also still alive on 1 June 1360, when Edward III pardoned a man "for the taking of twelve swans at Dorneyemore and in the water of [the River] Thames of Oliver de Burdeux." He was dead by 20 February 1365, when mention is made of "lands and meadows in Wychemere, Kyngefrede and Daylese, late of Oliver de Burdeux." [19] It seems that Oliver lived to be a good seventy years old or more, and he spent almost all his adult life in England. His name was remembered as late as 1473 - 1473, not 1373 - when a piece of land in Eton was said to be 'sometime of Oliver de Burdeux', a whopping 163 years after Edward II gave it to him and over 100 years after his death. [20] Over a century after he died, Oliver's name was still well-known in the parts of England where he had held lands. This book describes Oliver of Bordeaux as a "wise and able man," a judgement with which I can only concur.


1) Chancery Warrants 1308-48, p. 270; also CPR 1307-13, p. 66.
2) Chancery Warrants 1308-48, pp. 270, 417; and see the gasconrolls.org website.
3) Chancery Warrants 1308-48, pp. 407, 417.
4) CPR 1307-13, pp. 95, 271, 301, 386, 481, 494, 516; CPR 1317-21, pp. 259, 556; CPR 1324-7, p. 214; CPR 1327-30, pp. 236, 525; CCR 1318-23, p. 311.
5) CCR 1318-23, pp. 11, 158-9, 173 etc.
6) 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. 339; CPR 1313-7, p. 677.
7) CCR 1313-8, p. 490.
8) CIPM 1272-91, no. 742.
9) C 47/22/3/115; CCR 1307-13, p. 428.
10) SC 1/35/142.
11) CPR 1313-7, pp. 390, 396; Documents Relating to Scotland 1307-57, no. 747; Chancery Warrants 1308-48, p. 453.
12) SAL MS 122, p. 50; J. C. Davies, The Baronial Opposition to Edward II, p. 222.
13) CPR 1324-7, p. 336.
14) Memoranda Rolls Michaelmas 1326 - Michaelmas 1327, nos. 2270, 2271; Gascon Rolls, C 61/41, nos. 102-104, 213, 214.
15) Register of the Black Prince, vol. 4, p. 76.
16) CPR 1334-8, pp. 28, 271.
17) CPR 1340-3, p. 389; CCR 1330-3, p. 285.
18) CCR 1333-7, pp. 670, 685; CPR 1313-7, p. 640.
19) CPR 1350-4, p. 69; CPR 1358-61, pp. 148, 380; CPR 1364-7, p. 95.
20) CPR 1467-77, p. 394.


Anerje said...

Oliver is the type of historical figure you'd love to interview! He must have seen so much, and the fact he was so loyal to Edward and yet was able to survive to serve Edward III. What he must have witnessed and heard!

sami parkkonen said...

Here you have a full historical drama story line ready for making.

This is a great story, wonderful stuff!

Thank you, lady K!