26 February, 2020

Win a FREE Signed Book!

I'm offering two FREE, signed hardback copies of my new joint biography of Edward II's nieces the three Clare sisters! It doesn't matter where you live in the world; the competition is open to all, as long as you have a postal address where I can send the book!

All you have to do to win is leave a comment with your email address (so I know how to contact you) here on the blog, or send me a message on my Edward Facebook page, or if you prefer, you can send me an email at edwardofcaernarfon(at)yahoo(dot)com. If we're connected on Twitter or via my private Facebook page, you can send me a private message there instead, if you like.

The closing date is Wednesday 11 March, midnight Greenwich Mean Time. The following day, I will randomly select the winners and notify you both via email, at which point you can give me your postal address and any special dedication you'd like me to write in the book.

The Clare sisters, Eleanor, Margaret and Elizabeth were born between 1292 and 1295 as the granddaughters of the reigning king, Edward I, and came to adulthood in the reign of their uncle Edward II. The sisters were married to a total of seven men, four of whom were involved in intense and perhaps sexual relationships with their uncle the king, and all three sisters were imprisoned either by Edward II or by his queen, Isabella of France. Elizabeth was widowed for the third time at the age of twenty-six; Eleanor was said by one chronicler to be the mistress of her uncle Edward II, a statement given some credence by Edward's accounts of 1324/26; and Margaret was married to two men who were her uncle's 'favourites' and spent over four and a half years in captivity at Sempringham Priory on Edward's orders. The three sisters' lives could hardly be more dramatic!

23 February, 2020

The Siege Of Caerphilly Castle, 1326/27 (2)

A while ago, I wrote blog post about the siege of Caerphilly Castle in South Wales from November 1326 to March 1327, the only hold-out against the new regime. Here's a post about the men who remained in the castle with Hugh 'Huchon' Despenser, teenage son and heir of Hugh Despenser the Younger. Huchon was about seventeen or eighteen in 1326/27; according to his mother Eleanor's inqusition post mortem, he was either twenty-eight or twenty-nine in July 1337, so he was born sometime before July 1309 and perhaps in 1308. In December 1325, Huchon was old enough to own weapons which required repair, and that month and again in July 1326, his great-uncle Edward II had aketons (padded or quilted jerkins worn under armour) and coat-armour (jackets embroidered with heraldic devices) made for him in the colours of the Despenser arms and bought matching caparisons for his horses, as revealed by Edward's chamber account of 1325/26. So by late 1326, Huchon was a young man with years of military training behind him.

The list of the men inside Caerphilly with Huchon Despenser very usefully appears on the Patent Roll on 20 March 1327, when they were all pardoned for holding the castle against Queen Isabella. There were about 135 of them. [Calendar of Patent Rolls 1327-30, pp. 37-39] There's also, incidentally, a very long and useful inventory of all the items found inside Caerphilly when it finally surrendered, printed in English translation in William Rees' Caerphilly Castle and Its Place in the Annals of Glamorgan. The inventory reveals that the castle still contained vast quantities of food and drink even after nearly 150 men had lived there for four months. Starving them out would have taken an exceedingly long time.

Only two of the garrison were knights, Sir John Felton and Sir Thomas Lovel. Felton was a household knight of Hugh Despenser the Younger, and their correspondence to each other while Felton was in Gascony in 1324/25 during the War of Saint-Sardos still exists and was printed by the late, great, much-missed Professor Pierre Chaplais. At one point, Hugh told John that Edward II "has greatly given you his heart" because the king was so pleased with Felton's service, and on another occasion told John how much he personally appreciated his diligence, loyalty and good conduct. John Felton was not officially in charge of Caerphilly Castle in 1326, yet repaid Hugh's praise of him by saving the life of his teenage son and heir, who would have been executed if the Caerphilly garrison had decided to give Huchon up to Isabella.

A number of the men inside Caerphilly were valets of Edward II's chamber who appear frequently in his extant accounts of 1324-26: Peter Plummer, Henry Hustret, Simon Hod, John Pope, Walter 'Watte' Cowherd, Richard Gobet, John Edriche, Gilbert 'Gibon' Apse, Alexander 'Sandre' Rede, Hugh 'Huchon' Smale, John Traghs or Trasshe, and William 'Wille' Wallere. There may be others, as Edward's clerks tended to refer to some of the king's servants by nicknames rather than their real names, such as 'Grete Hobbe' or 'Big Rob', which makes them impossible to identify. Two sergeant-at-arms inside Caerphilly were named as Rodrigo de Medyne and William Beaucair or Beaukaire. Rodrigo had been in Edward II's household for a while and later joined Edward III's; William, oddly, guarded Edward II's body at Berkeley Castle for a month after the former king was supposedly murdered there on 21 September 1327. See here. William's first name is given as 'Gills', which I suspect is a nickname for Guillaume. He must have been French or at the very least of French parentage, as Beaucaire is a town near Avignon.

Edward II had a personal bodyguard of eight archers in 1326, and five of them were in the castle: John Horewode, Adam Bullok, Robert Pakynton, Roger Wight and Wille Draycot. In 1326, Hugh Despenser the Younger had bodyguards said in Edward's chamber account to have "followed Sir Hugh at all times wherever he went." The bodyguards were hobelars, armed men on horseback, and six are mentioned in January 1326 and eight that July. Five of the hobelars were also in Caerphilly: Roger atte Watre, a Londoner who had served Edward II since at least the early 1310s (and see also below), the Palington brothers John, Henry and Thomas, and John Grey.

Also in the castle: Hugh Despenser the Younger's blacksmith Will of Denbigh and two of Edward II's blacksmiths, John Cole and Robert Brakenhale. Robert le Ferrour and John le Ferrour were also blacksmiths, as evidenced by their name. Other men's job titles appear as their names, in medieval French: Eustace le Ceu and Richard le Keu ('cook'), David le Surigien ('surgeon'), Roger le Taillour, John le Taillour, Walter le Taillour, William le Taillour and Richard le Teghlour ('tailor'), William le Barber, Nicholas le Sarrour and Walter le Sarrour ('sawyer'), William le Pestour ('fisherman'), and Walter de la Panetrie ('of the pantry' or 'bakery'). The word maceon or 'mason' appears after Richard Ule's name.

Simon 'Simkyn' Simeon came from Lincolnshire and was a long-term Lancastrian adherent; he seems the odd one out among the men inside Caerphilly, though perhaps his decades of loyal service to the Lancasters only began in and after 1327. He was one of the men who went overseas with Edward II's cousin Henry, earl of Lancaster in 1329, served Henry's son Duke Henry for many years, and became the steward of Duke Henry's son-in-law John of Gaunt in Bolingbroke. Simon lived an extremely long life: he wrote his will in March 1386 and died shortly before 23 December 1387, when the will was proved. [Early Lincoln Wills 1280-1547, ed. Alfred Gibbons, p. 78] He was still actively serving John of Gaunt at Bolingbroke Castle in his native Lincolnshire as late as 1383, and John's letters and orders to him often appear in his (John's) register of 1379 to 1383. Assuming Simon was at least fourteen or sixteen in 1326/27 and wasn't a young child, which doesn't seem very likely, he can't have been born later than 1310/12 (which would make him exactly the same age as Duke Henry of Lancaster), hence was still active when he was past seventy and must have been at least seventy-five when he died.

Two men who joined the earl of Kent's plot to free the supposedly dead Edward II in 1329/30 and who were inside Caerphilly were Giles of Spain and Benet or Benedict Braham. Giles had been a squire of Edward II's household since at least 1317, and was the man sent by Edward III to the south of Europe to pursue Sir Thomas Gurney, supposedly one of Edward II's murderers, in the early 1330s. A man whose name appears as 'Stephen Dun' I suspect may mean Stephen Dunheved, co-leader with his brother Thomas, a Dominican friar, of the successful attempt to free the former Edward II from Berkeley Castle in the summer of 1327. See here, here, here, here and here. The hobelar Roger atte Watre was in Caerphilly and joined the Dunheveds in 1327. Although his brother Thomas might have been dead by 1330, Stephen also joined the earl of Kent's plot in 1329/30.

In 1326, Edward II employed half a dozen or more trumpeters, and three appear in the record of 20 March 1327 when they were pardoned for holding out at Caerphilly: Ferandus le Trompur, Henry le Trompur and Bernard le Trompur. Ferand or Ferandus was Spanish. Another man was 'Senchet Garcie'. I presume this means Sancho Garcia, a Castilian sailor who also often appears in Edward II's chamber account in 1326. That January, Sancho rode from Winchelsea in Sussex to Exning in Suffolk, where Edward was then staying, to ask if Edward wished to buy his wrecked ship the Seinte Katherine in Winchelsea harbour. Edward, as it turned out, did, and Sancho stayed at court until early May and returned three weeks later. Interestingly, there were four Spanish men inside Caerphilly: Giles of Spain, Rodrigo de Medyne, Ferand the trumpeter, and Sancho.

'William Hurle[y], carpenter' is the most famous name on the list: he was Edward II and Edward III's master carpenter, and died in 1354 having worked on Ely Cathedral, Windsor Castle and other places. Hugh Despenser the Younger had sent William Hurley to work on the great hall of Caerphilly Castle in February 1326, and some of the men named on the list, such as the two sawyers, were probably William's workmen. There are dozens of other men named among the Caerphilly garrison whom I can't as yet identify. Apart from the Spanish men above, the blacksmith Will of Denbigh, Henry of Cardiff and William of Monmouth, all the names are English rather than Welsh, and include Gilbert of Newcastle-on-Tyne and Robert of Alnwick, who were both very far from home, Adam of Pershore in Worcestershire, and Benedict of Nailsworth in Gloucestershire. Some of the men were almost certainly members of Hugh Despenser the Younger's household, but unless they appear in Edward II's accounts or the chancery rolls and are specifically named as Hugh's servants (as the hobelars and Will of Denbigh are), there's no way of identifying them as such as none of Hugh's accounts survive, with the exception of payments he made into and out of his accounts with Italian bankers in London.

Edward II and Hugh the Younger left Caerphilly on c. 1 or 2 November 1326. By the time they were captured two weeks later, they only had a tiny number of men still with them, and it's usually stated that Edward had been abandoned by his entire household. Given that the Caerphilly garrison held out against the new regime for four months and were clearly loyal to Edward and Hugh (with the likely exception of William Hurley and his men, who may simply have been caught up there by accident), and given that many of them were former members of Edward's or Hugh's households and that others would become involved in plots to free Edward after his deposition in 1327 and even after his official death in 1329/30, the picture was in fact a bit more complicated than the usual 'everyone abandoned Edward' narrative. Edward's chamber account was last kept at Caerphilly on 31 October 1326 and records payments to some of the king's chamber staff who were still with him then, a few of whom appear, as noted here, in the list of the garrison on 20 March 1327. The others apparently left the castle sometime between Edward's departure and the start of the siege some weeks later, and I don't know what happened to them as none of them appear in the extant list of the members of Edward III's household made on 24 June 1328, so apparently they all left royal service and perhaps returned to their homes and families (some of them had young children). On 31 October 1326, there were still twenty-nine chamber valets with Edward II, though it's impossible to say how many squires, sergeants-at-arms, ushers, clerks and knights remained with the king then, as their wages weren't paid out of the chamber like the valets' were and hence their names weren't recorded in his extant chamber account, now in the library of the Society of Antiquaries in London.

16 February, 2020

Henry Percy (1273-1314)

As anyone with an interest in English history will know, there were an awful lot of generations of English noblemen called Henry Percy down the centuries. Here's the first part of a post about the Percys (Percies?), a great noble family who became earls of Northumberland in 1377, in the fourteenth century, beginning with the Henry Percy who besieged Piers Gaveston at Scarborough Castle in May 1312.

This Henry Percy was born on 25 March 1273 at Petworth in Sussex, and was the son of another Henry Percy (well, obviously). Henry was born posthumously, seven months after his father died on 29 August 1272. [1] His mother was Eleanor de Warenne, daughter of John de Warenne, earl of Surrey (b. 1231) and Alice de Lusignan, a half-sister of Henry III. According to the Complete Peerage, Henry Percy (d. 1272) and Eleanor de Warenne married in York on 8 September 1268. [2] Their first son was named John after Eleanor's father the earl of Surrey, and was probably born in 1270; he was said to be eleven years old on 30 November 1281. [3] John Percy was his father's heir in 1272, and was still alive on 16 June 1285, but died childless before 29 July 1293 leaving his younger brother Henry as his heir. [4

John Percy evidently died before he would have turned twenty-one in c. 1291, and there is no inquisition post mortem for him; there is a reference in 1315 to "John de Percy, who died a minor in the late king's [Edward I's] custody." If John ever married I haven't found a reference to it, though Edward I gave his wardship and marriage rights to Queen Eleanor (d. November 1290) in or before late 1281. [5] John's younger brother and heir Henry Percy proved his age and was given their late father's lands on 11 June 1294. [6] The jurors at Henry's proof of age held in Petworth in 1294 were all very aware that his father Henry Percy Senior passed away in Henry III's reign, and that Henry Junior was born after the deaths of both his father and of King Henry (in November 1272); eleven of them stated some version of "he knows it [Henry Percy's date of birth] by the death of King Henry." This is an example of how the death of a king was a major event that was vividly remembered decades later, especially, perhaps, because Henry III's reign was such a long one and there can't have been too many people still alive who remembered the death of the last king, Henry's father John, in 1216.

Henry Percy went on campaign to Scotland with his long-lived maternal grandfather the earl of Surrey in 1295, and took part in Edward I's siege of Caerlaverock Castle with him in 1300. The Roll of Arms of Caerlaverock states "John, the good earl of Warenne...had in his company his nephew [sic], Henri de Percy, who seemed to have made a vow to rout the Scots." [7] Henry's aunt Isabel de Warenne, Surrey's other daughter, had in fact married John Baliol, king of Scotland from 1292 to 1296, and was the mother of Edward Baliol, who a few decades later claimed the throne of Scotland from Robert Bruce's son David II. Henry Percy was also an older first cousin of John de Warenne, born in June 1286 and their grandfather's heir as earl of Surrey on his death in 1304 in his seventies, the earl's only son William de Warenne having been killed jousting in late 1286.

Around 1300, Henry married a woman called Eleanor, whom I've written about here. Most probably, she was the daughter of Richard Fitzalan, earl of Arundel (1267-1302), though this identification is not 100% certain. Richard, earl of Arundel acknowledged a debt of 2,000 marks to Henry Percy on 7 August 1300 - while they were both taking part in the siege of Caerlaverock, as it happens - which presumably was Eleanor's dowry (Richard paid the same amount to Bishop Robert Burnell for his sister Maud's marriage to the bishop's nephew and heir Philip Burnell in 1283), and Henry Percy acknowledged in November 1313 that he had received full payment of all debts from Richard's son and heir Edmund, earl of Arundel. In 1315, Eleanor was called "late the wife of Henry de Percy, executrix of the will of Richard de Arundell, her brother," who presumably was a younger son of Earl Richard. As I've pointed out before, it seems most improbable that an important and high-ranking nobleman such as Henry Percy, who was a grandson of the earl of Surrey and a great-nephew of King Henry III, would have married a woman from a cadet branch of the Fitzalans/Arundels, and Edward II acknowledged Eleanor as "the king's kinswoman" on several occasions, which is in itself evidence of her high rank. [8]

Eleanor therefore seems highly likely to have been a daughter of Earl Richard, and a sister of Earl Edmund, who was born on either 1 May 1284, 21 December 1284, 1 May 1285 or 3 July 1285. [9] Given that Eleanor gave birth in February 1301 or possibly February 1302, she was seemingly older than her brother Edmund (unless she was his twin), as she would have been a painfully young mother if she was born in 1286 or later. This would mean that Richard Fitzalan, earl of Arundel, became a father at sixteen or seventeen, but that's not terribly unlikely given that his much younger first cousin Roger Mortimer, later the first earl of March (b. 1287), was also a very young father. Richard, born 3 February 1267, was only six years older than his son-in-law Henry Percy, born 25 March 1273. [10]

Eleanor gave birth to a son named Henry Percy at Leconfield in Yorkshire, either on 6 February 1301 or on 6 February 1302. It's hard to say for sure, because the jurors at young Henry's proof of age stated that he was born on 6 February in Edward I's twenty-ninth regnal year, which ran from 20 November 1300 to 19 November 1301, thus giving a date of birth of 6 February 1301. However, the proof of age was taken in Leconfield on 26 February 1323 (in Edward II's sixteenth regnal year) and states that Henry "was 21 years of age on 6 February last," which indicates that he was born on 6 February 1302. [11] The jurors thus contradicted themselves. To add to the confusion, Henry the father's (b. 1273) inquisition post mortem in November 1314 states that his son and heir was either "sixteen at the Purification [2 February] next," which would give a date of birth in early February 1299; "aged fifteen at Whitsunday last," which gives May 1299; "aged thirteen and nine months," which gives February 1301; or "aged thirteen and nine months at the feast of the Purification, 7 Edward II." The feast of the Purification in the seventh year of Edward II's reign was 2 February 1314, so this seems to be a rather garbled attempt to state that Henry was thirteen and nine months at the time of the inquisition in November 1314 and hence was born around the Purification in 1301. [12] 

Henry Percy the son was said to be still a minor on 18 and 22 February, 27 April and 28 June 1320, so cannot have been born on 6 February 1299. [13] There's an entry on the Patent Roll dated 9 July 1322 which calls him a "minor in the king's custody" and on 21 July 1322 Edward II talked of his "custody of the lands and heir of Henry de Percy [b. 1273], tenant in chief", which would seem to indicate that Henry was in fact born on 6 February 1302, not 1301, so was still only twenty in 1322. Edward allowed Henry seisin of his lands on 26 December 1321, pointing out that he was still underage, so he was definitely born after 26 December 1300. [14] Anyway, whether Henry Percy was born in 1301 or 1302, his father (b. 1273) was so delighted at the birth of his son that he rode the twelve miles to his manor of Nafferton on the same day to tell his tenants there in person. A woman named Joan Danyel was one of the women assisting Eleanor Percy at little Henry's birth, and he was baptised in the church of All Saints in Leconfield the day after he was born. Young Henry was born either in the lifetime of Richard Fitzalan, earl of Arundel, probably his maternal grandfather, or shortly after Richard died a little before 15 January 1302, at the young age of thirty-four. (Richard would have turned thirty-five on 3 February 1302, and his inquisition post mortem makes it obvious that he didn't die on 9 March 1302, as often stated.) Henry was also born in the lifetime of his great-grandfather John de Warenne, earl of Surrey, who lived until 1304.

The Percy family are strongly associated with the castle of Alnwick (pronounced 'annick') in Northumberland. The castle and manor of Alnwick were given to Henry Percy (b. 1273) by Anthony Bek, bishop of Durham, on 19 November 1309. [15] Bek was remarkably generous: he gave the palace and manor of Eltham in Kent to Edward of Caernarfon in 1305 and gave Somerton Castle in Lincolnshire to him four years later.

Early in Edward II's reign, Henry Percy the father seems to have been a close ally of the king and Piers Gaveston; on 16 June 1308, he, with Edward's cousin John of Brittany, earl of Richmond, Hugh Despenser the Elder, and William Melton, future archbishop of York (who were certainly all very close to the king), witnessed Piers' appointment as lieutenant of Ireland. [16] However, Henry must have grown discontented with Edward's excessive favouritism towards the earl of Cornwall, and besieged Piers inside Scarborough Castle in May 1312 with his cousin John de Warenne the younger, earl of Surrey (Henry's great-grandson Henry Percy, first earl of Northumberland, would be born in Scarborough Castle in 1341, as a matter of interest). Henry was appointed custodian of Scarborough Castle in October 1311, though Edward II replaced him with William Latimer in early 1312; Henry refused to hand the castle over to Latimer, and on 20 February 1312 Edward ordered Henry to come to him and explain himself. The king also removed Henry as custodian of Bamburgh Castle, and gave it back to Isabella Beaumont, Lady Vescy, on 28 January 1312; Henry had held the position for only six weeks. [17]

In the aftermath of Piers Gaveston's death, Henry Percy was one of the chief noblemen, with Robert Clifford and the earls of Lancaster, Hereford and Warwick, often named as being given a safe-conduct to meet the king or to take part in the endless negotiations which tried to reconcile the men to Edward. Edward had seized Henry's lands and goods on 28 July 1312, but restored them on 18 December that year. He had also ordered Henry's arrest on 31 July on the grounds that Henry had stood as a guarantor to ensure Piers' safety, but that Piers had been killed while Henry was still liable for his welfare. [18]

Henry Percy died shortly before 10 October 1314 at the age of forty-one, leaving his son Henry, who was either twelve or thirteen, as his heir. His wife Eleanor also outlived him, and received her dower on 6 November 1314. [19] Weirdly, there's a reference to "Eustachia, daughter and heiress of Henry de Percy, tenant in chief, a minor in the king's custody" on 26 February 1321, when Edward II gave her marriage to the chief justice Geoffrey Scrope. [20] I think the name Henry here must be a clerical error for Peter, as there's a reference to Eustachia, daughter and heir of Peter Percy and wife of Walter Heslarton, aged "22 and more", in November 1334. [21]

Plenty more on the fourteenth-century Henry Percys coming soon!


1) Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1291-1300, no. 214.
2) Complete Peerage, vol. 10, p. 456.
3) CIPM 1272-91, no. 434.
4) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1281-92, p. 175; Calendar of Close Rolls 1288-96, p. 295.
5) CIPM 1272-91, no. 434CPR 1281-92, pp. 175, 468; CCR 1313-18, p. 148.
6) CIPM 1291-1300, no. 214; CCR 1288-96, pp. 350, 388.
7) Thomas Wright, ed., The Roll of Arms of Caerlaverock (1864), p. 6.
8) Calendar of Close Rolls 1296-1302, p. 404; CCR 1313-18, pp. 79, 223; CPR 1313-17, p. 638; Calendar of Fine Rolls 1319-27, p. 16.
9) CIPM 1300-07, no. 90.
10) CIPM 1216-72, no. 812.
11) CIPM 1317-27, no. 435.
12) CIPM 1307-17, no. 536.
13) CFR 1319-27, pp. 17, 21; CCR 1318-23, pp. 178, 201.
14) CPR 1321-24, pp. 174, 181, 411, 633.
15) CPR 1307-13, pp. 197, 205.
16) CPR 1307-13, p. 83.
17) CPR 1307-13, pp. 391, 413, 427, 429-31, 441; CFR 1307-19, pp. 121, 127.
18) CFR 1307-19, pp. 141, 156; CPR 1307-13, p. 486.
19) CFR 1307-19, p. 214; CIPM 1307-17, no. 536; CCR 1313-18, p. 125.
20) CPR 1317-21, p. 568.
21) CIPM 1327-36, no. 622.

07 February, 2020

Heirs to the English Throne, 1272-1330

When Henry III died on 16 November 1272 and was succeeded by his son Edward I, the heir to the English throne became Edward's four-year-old son Henry of Windsor, born in May 1268. He was Edward's second son; Henry's elder brother John, born in July 1266, died in August 1271 in his grandfather Henry III's lifetime, so was never heir to the throne. Edward I and Queen Eleanor had another son on 24 November 1273, Alfonso of Bayonne, named after his maternal uncle and godfather Alfonso X of Castile. Little Henry died around 14 October 1274 at the age of six, and Alfonso, not yet eleven months old, became heir to his father's throne. He was to hold that position for just under a decade.

Edward I and Eleanor of Castile's fourth and youngest son Edward of Caernarfon was born on 25 April 1284, and on 19 August 1284, his ten-year-old brother Alfonso of Bayonne died. For ten years the people of England had grown accustomed to the idea that one day they would have a King Alfonso, but sadly it was not to be. Unlike his three older brothers, Edward of Caernarfon was a healthy, sturdy child who, though not actually born as his father's heir, ultimately succeeded his father as king, having spent twenty-three years as heir to the throne. It's interesting to look at who was next in succession after young Edward. On 17 April 1290, Edward I, with only one living son, confronted the possibility that Edward of Caernarfon, not quite six years old, might die young as his older brothers had, and before he fathered any male heirs. The king therefore decided that, in that case, the English throne should pass to his and Eleanor of Castile's eldest surviving daughter Eleanor of Windsor, born on 17 or 18 June 1269. I find it fascinating that Edward I considered the possibility of his throne passing to a woman, and that he favoured his daughters - he specified that if Eleanor died or had no children, the throne would go to his next eldest daughter Joan of Acre (b. 1272), and so on - over his brother Edmund, earl of Lancaster and Leicester (1245-96), and Edmund's sons Thomas (b. c. 1277/78) and Henry (b. c. 1280/81).

Eleanor of Windsor married Henri III, count of Bar in eastern France, on 20 September 1293, gave birth to her son Edouard and her daughter Jeanne sometime between 1294 and 1298, and died on 29 September 1298 at the age of twenty-nine. From 29 September 1298 until 1 June 1300, therefore, the heir to the English throne behind his uncle Edward of Caernarfon was Edouard of Bar, future count of Bar. On 1 June 1300, Edward I's second queen Marguerite of France gave birth to a son, Thomas of Brotherton, later earl of Norfolk. She bore a second son, Edmund of Woodstock, later earl of Kent, on 5 August 1301. For sixteen years between August 1284 and June 1300, Edward I only had one living son; now he had three.

Edward I died on 7 July 1307 and was succeeded by Edward of Caernarfon as King Edward II. Seven-year-old Thomas of Brotherton became heir to the throne on the death of his father and the accession of his half-brother, and held the position until 13 November 1312, when Edward II and Isabella of France's son Edward of Windsor was born. The royal couple produced the 'spare' part of 'the heir and the spare' when their second son John of Eltham was born on 15 August 1316. Edward of Windsor was born as heir to the English throne and succeeded his deposed and disgraced father as king on 25 January 1327, aged fourteen.

John of Eltham, just ten years old when his father was deposed and his brother became king, was heir to the throne from 25 January 1327 until 15 June 1330, when Edward III's queen Philippa of Hainault gave birth to their first son Edward of Woodstock, later prince of Wales. Although Edward III and Queen Philippa were to have seven sons, of whom five survived infancy, there was a long period in the 1330s when the king still only had one son and heir. Philippa gave birth to her daughters Isabella in June 1332 and Joan probably in January 1334, then had a three-year break from childbearing. Her second son William of Hatfield was born at the beginning of 1337, but sadly died soon after his birth. Her fifth child and third son was Lionel of Antwerp, born on 29 November 1338. With the exception of the few days or weeks in early 1337 when William of Hatfield was alive, there was a period of eight and a half years, 15 June 1330 to 29 November 1338, when Edward III only had one son. The king and queen's fourth but third surviving son John of Gaunt was born on 6 March 1340, and their fifth but fourth surviving, Edmund of Langley, was born on or just before 5 June 1341. The middle three sons of Edward III were very close in age, and their three births in two and a half years well and truly secured the succession to the throne. Queen Philippa's sixth son William of Windsor was born in May 1348 but also died in infancy, and her seventh and youngest, but fifth surviving, was Thomas of Woodstock, who was not born until January 1355.

As well as John of Eltham, the heir to the throne from January 1327 to June 1330, there were other royal males who took their places in the line of succession in the late 1320s. Edward II's half-brother Thomas of Brotherton came next after John of Eltham, until Edward of Woodstock's birth in June 1330. Thomas had a son, Edward of Norfolk, who was probably born in the mid-1320s or thereabouts (as far as I can figure out, his sisters Margaret and Alice were older and were born c. 1322 and c. 1324). Edward of Norfolk died as a child sometime in the early 1330s - young though he was, he had already been married to Roger Mortimer's daughter Beatrice - and Thomas's heirs were his two daughters.

Behind Thomas of Brotherton and his son Edward of Norfolk came Thomas's younger brother Edmund of Woodstock, earl of Kent, who was beheaded at the age of twenty-eight on 19 March 1330. Edmund had a son, Edmund of Kent, probably born in 1328 or 1329, who died in 1331. Earl Edmund also left a posthumous son John, later earl of Kent, born on 7 April 1330, as well as his daughter Joan, born 1326 or 1327, later princess of Wales and Richard II's mother.

As well as Edward I's sons and grandsons, there was his nephew Henry of Lancaster, second son and ultimate heir of Edward's brother Edmund of Lancaster, Edmund's first son Thomas having died (or having been executed by his cousin Edward II, rather) childless in 1322. Henry's only son was Henry of Grosmont, later the first duke of Lancaster, born c. 1310/12. The two Lancastrians came after Edward I's sons and grandsons in the line of succession, and of course the births of Edward III's sons in the 1330s and 1340s pushed them further and further away from the throne.