29 January, 2021

The Execution of Llywelyn Bren, c. 1318

I wrote a blog post in January 2010 about the revolt of Llywelyn Bren in Glamorgan and his attack on Caerphilly Castle in early 1316 (and see also Lady D's post on the subject), and in this post, I'm going to focus on Llywelyn's execution in c. 1318 and what we know about it. Hugh Despenser the Younger, lord of Glamorgan from 1317 to 1326, has always been held responsible for subjecting Llywelyn to a grotesque death by drawing, hanging, beheading and quartering, and it's entirely possible that he was indeed responsible, but the evidence is somewhat meagre. Oh, and a rather off-topic point here, but the inventory of Llywelyn Bren's goods seized in 1316 reveals what a cultured man he was: he owned a manuscript of the Roman de la Rose in French as well as three books in Welsh and four other unidentified books. You can see the inventory on British History Online, here.

On 26 March 1316 after the revolt was put down, Edward II ordered Llywelyn, his wife Lleucu, five of his six or seven sons and six other Welshmen to be sent "under safe custody at the king’s expense" to the Tower. On 10 May 1316, they were granted either three pence a day for their maintenance (Llywelyn and Lleucu) or two pence (all the others), and their names were recorded as "Lewelin Pren and Leukina his wife...Griffin ap Lewelyn, James ap Lewelyn, David ap Lewelyn, Meurik ap Lewelyn, Roger ap Lewelyn". The six others were named as "Howel ap Ivor, Ievan ap Ivor, Lewelin ap Maddok, Madoc Vaghan, Grenou ap Rees, Res Meskyn". By 17 June 1317, only Llywelyn and two of his sons - their names now spelt Lewelin Pren, Griffin and Yevan, i.e. Gruffudd and Ieuan - are mentioned as prisoners in the Tower, the others presumably having been released. All three men were allowed three pence a day. [1] The claim made by one chronicler and some modern writers that Llywelyn and his family and supporters were held at Brecon by the earl of Hereford for a few months and only transferred to the Tower of London on or about 27 July 1316 is inaccurate. Edward II's order of 10 May 1316 to pay them 2d or 3d a day states "for the time that they have been in the Tower, and to continue to pay the same" (Close Rolls, p. 283). 

Edward II's eldest niece Eleanor de Clare and her husband Hugh Despenser the Younger were belatedly given the lordship of Glamorgan, including Eleanor's birthplace of Caerphilly Castle, in November 1317, as part of Eleanor's inheritance from her late brother Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester (d. June 1314). Hugh's antics and the king's excessive favouritism towards him pushed Hugh's fellow Marcher lords into rebellion in 1321. At the parliament held in August 1321, they forced him and his father Hugh Despenser the Elder into exile, and issued a long list of charges against them. One of them was:

"...the said Sir Hugh the son and Sir Hugh the father, who had accroached royal power as is said above, took the said Thlewelyn [Llywelyn Bren] and sent him to Kaerdyf [Cardiff] after Sir Hugh the son was seised of his purparty there, and, seizing jurisdiction by their conspiracy where in this case they could have no jurisdiction according to reason, feloniously caused him there to be drawn, hanged, beheaded and quartered for a thing done in the king's time, and so, seized royal power and jurisdiction which belonged to the Crown, in disherison of the Crown, and to the dishonour of our lord the king, and of the said lords of Hereford and Mortimer*." [2] 

* Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford, and Roger Mortimer, lord of Wigmore, who had "promised him [Llywelyn] good grace" after they captured him. A letter dated at Brecon on 22 March 1316 was sent to Edward II by le counte de Hereford e les Mortemers, i.e. Roger's uncle Roger Mortimer, lord of Chirk, added his name as well. It's printed in English translation in Calendar of Ancient Correspondence Concerning Wales, ed. J. Goronwy Edwards, p. 75. The three men asked Edward not to "make any harsh decision concerning" Llywelyn until he had talked to them.

Pic below: the August 1321 accusation that Hugh the Younger and Elder had Llywelyn Bren unlawfully killed in Cardiff (the charges against the Despensers take up a full three pages of Statutes of the Realm, vol. 1).

Notice that it was both Hugh Despensers, father and son, who were accused in 1321 of killing Llywelyn Bren unlawfully, not Hugh the Younger alone. The rebellious Marcher lords gave no date for Llywelyn's execution, or murder, so what else can we learn about it from chronicles? The Vita Edwardi Secundi gives a long and detailed account of the 1316 campaign against Llywelyn Bren, but does not say a single word about his execution. This is rather interesting, as the author of the Vita appears to have been closely associated with the earl of Hereford, who considered himself an aggrieved party in the matter. A chronicle written in St Albans briefly mentions an uprising in Wales during its account of events in 1315 [sic], but I can't see that it mentions Llywelyn Bren at all, let alone his death. [3] The Bridlington chronicle Gesta Edwardi de Carnarvon written a few years later does say that the two Hugh Despensers had Llywelyn killed, but is obviously only repeating the charges issued against them in the parliament of August 1321, in exactly the same order, the only difference being that they're translated from Anglo-Norman into Latin. So I doubt we can consider this an independent source. [4] There was a version of the chronicle Flores Historiarum written at Tintern Abbey, which is only about thirty-five miles from Cardiff, where Hugh and Hugh were alleged to have put Llywelyn to death. An important patron of Tintern Abbey in the late 1310s and early 1320s was Sir Roger Damory, Hugh the Younger's brother-in-law and great rival, and one of the rebellious Marcher lords who forced the Despensers into exile in August 1321. So if Hugh Despenser the Younger really did have Llywelyn killed in Cardiff, one would certainly expect the Tintern Flores, of all chronicles, to mention it. Here's what it says, under the year 1318 (no specific date is given for the execution):

"This year Leulin Bren was condemned at Cardiff, as he deserved; and afterwards he was drawn by horses as a traitor, then hanged, his entrails burned and scattered, his limbs cut off and sent through the whole of Glamorgan, to strike terror into other traitors." [5]

Pic below is the account of Llywelyn's execution in the Tintern Flores; no mention of the Despensers.

The extremely long list of charges read out to Hugh Despenser the Younger at his trial in Hereford on 24 November 1326 do not mention Llywelyn Bren at all, let alone that Hugh had him killed without authority (see my translation here). Given that Roger Mortimer is often assumed to have been furious at Hugh's execution of a man to whom he had promised clemency, given that several of Llywelyn's sons had aided in the capture of Hugh the Younger a few days earlier, given that everything but the kitchen sink was thrown at Hugh during his trial, and given that Roger Mortimer was certainly one of the people in charge of arranging the trial and devising the accusations, this seems odd. In February and again in May 1327 early in Edward III's reign, Hugh was accused of having fraudulently caused Llewelyn Bren's sons to be disinherited and disseised of their rightful lands, but no mention was made of his having Llywelyn unlawfully executed. [6] Beginning in late 1326, a veritable flood of petitions poured into Chancery as the many dozens of victims of the two Despensers' land grabs, extortion, blackmail, false imprisonment and so on sought restitution. None of them mentioned their involvement in Llywelyn's execution. 

Assuming Llywelyn Bren was executed sometime in 1318, that was the year that Hugh the Younger was made royal chamberlain, and was a few months after he and Eleanor finally took possession of the lordship of Glamorgan in November 1317. The precise date of Hugh's appointment as chamberlain is uncertain, but he was confirmed in the position during a parliament held in York in October and November 1318 and was named as Edward II's chamberlain in a royal household ordinance of 6 December that year. It took him a few months to work his way into the king's affections - Edward had never shown the slightest liking for or trust in his nephew-in-law previously - and I can't find any evidence of Edward indulging Hugh or treating him with unusual favour before April 1319. So in 1318, although Hugh was now wealthy and influential, he was not yet a royal favourite, able to do whatever he wanted. In late 1317 and early 1318 when Hugh attempted to take over the neighbouring lordship of Gwynllŵg, which had been given to Eleanor de Clare's sister Margaret and her second husband Hugh Audley, Edward II was having none of it and ordered him to restore Gwynllŵg to the Audleys.

On c. 22 September 1319 while taking part in the siege of Berwick-on-Tweed, Hugh the Younger, lord of Glamorgan, sent one of his many demanding, hectoring, threatening letters to his long-suffering sheriff of Glamorgan, Sir John Inge. (Sample sentence, slightly paraphrased: "I am worried about having some reason that might make me want to hurt you.") In a move that was sadly all too typical of him, Hugh asked Inge to see if he could get more money out of Lleucu and her sons, whom he called "the wife of Llywelyn Bren and her children" (la femme Lewelyn Bren et ses enfauntz), and he wanted £100 more than they already given him. [7] Hugh didn't call Lleucu "late the wife of Llywelyn" or "who was the wife of Llywelyn" as one might generally expect if he was dead, though the fact that Llywelyn himself wasn't mentioned probably indicates that he was indeed dead. Unless he was still imprisoned in the Tower, perhaps. 

Llywelyn Bren was certainly dead by February 1322, when, during the Marcher lords' rebellion, Edward II ordered the arrest of Lleucu and her and Llywelyn's sons; their names were recorded as "Leuken, late the wife of Lewelin Bren, Griffith ap Lewelyn, Jack ap Lewelyn, Henry ap Lewelyn, Meuric ap Lewelyn, William ap Lewelyn, Roger ap Lewelyn and Lewelin le Yong, sons of the said Lewelyn Bren". [8] On 2 December 1326 after Edward II's capture, Queen Isabella and her son Edward of Windsor allowed the unnamed "sons of Llywelin Bren" to hold their rightful lands, "Griffin son of Lewelin Bren" is mentioned in April 1327, and "Griffin, John, Meurik, Roger, William and Llewelin, sons and heirs of Llewelin de Bren" were all still alive in May 1327. According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, "Lleucu received an allowance from the earl of Hereford at Brecon until 12 April 1349". [9]

If it wasn't Hugh Despenser the Younger (and his father) who had Llywelyn Bren executed, it must have been Edward II, but there's no record of his ordering it. There's nothing in the chancery rolls or anywhere else that I've ever been able to find regarding Llywelyn's execution. The whole issue raises the vexed question of the king's interference in the Welsh March, where "the king's writ does not run", and surely if Edward had ordered Llywelyn's execution, someone would have remarked on it as his overstepping the bounds of his authority. Perhaps the Marcher lords in 1321 didn't quite dare to blame the king himself for Llywelyn's death, so blamed the Despensers instead, and used it as another reason to demand the two men's exile. Something similar happened at Hugh the Younger's trial in 1326, when he was held accountable for many of Edward II's failings because the time had not yet quite come to blame the king himself for them, at least in public. I'm not too familiar with the laws of the March. Did Hugh, as a Marcher lord, have the authority to execute Llywelyn Bren in his (Hugh's) own lordship or not? And did Humphrey de Bohun and Roger Mortimer really have any authority to promise Llywelyn that he wouldn't be executed, even outside the March? Their letter to Edward II of March 1316 basically says "please don't do anything harsh to Llywelyn until you've talked to us", which seems fair enough, but five and a half years later they claimed they had "promised him good grace", i.e. clemency. Were they really in any position to make that promise? According to the Vita, when Llywelyn came face to face with Edward before his revolt, "the king spurned him, swearing and maintaining that he should surely die if the crime charged against him was proved" (the crime being sedition against Payn Turberville as keeper of Glamorgan in 1315/16). So it doesn't seem that Edward was in a forgiving merciful mood where Llywelyn Bren was concerned. Glamorgan was in Edward II's own hands between the death of the earl of Gloucester in June 1314 and Eleanor de Clare and Hugh Despenser taking possession of it in November 1317, so did the laws of the March still prevail in early 1316, the time of Llywelyn's revolt? Hereford and the Mortimers' plea to Edward in March 1316 not to harm Llywelyn until he'd spoken to them shows that they believed Llywelyn's fate to be in Edward's hands. Assuming the Flores is correct to place Llywelyn's execution in 1318 - and chronicles can't always be trusted on dates, as evidenced by the St Albans chronicler's assertion that Llywelyn's revolt took place in 1315 - it was certainly held by Despenser as a Marcher lordship then.

As far as I'm aware and have been able to discover - and if any readers know otherwise, please do let me know - the only evidence for Hugh Despenser the Younger (and his father) being responsible for Llywelyn Bren's horrible death is the Marcher lords' accusation at the parliament of August 1321, buried in the middle of a large number of other charges, and its repetition a few years later by the Bridlington chronicler. The only source I know of that gives 1318 as the year of Llywelyn's execution is the Tintern Abbey Flores Historiarum, which doesn't mention the Despensers' involvement, though there's no doubt that Hugh Despenser the Younger owned Cardiff from November 1317 until his death in November 1326, so if Llywelyn was executed there in c. 1318, he must at least have permitted and been aware of it. Quite a lot of websites and books state that Llywelyn was killed in Cardiff in 1318 on Despenser's orders, and some claim that Sir William Fleming, keeper of Glamorgan in 1317 before Hugh took possession of it - and himself a rebel Marcher lord executed in Cardiff in 1322 - was the man responsible for trying Llywelyn. I don't know, though, what sources have been used other than the ones I've used in this post. 

Maybe there are medieval Welsh sources that I can't read, though modern writers often just cite other modern writers for the story rather than primary sources. Or they simply cite the 1321 charge, printed in Statutes of the Realm and the Close Rolls. Well, yes, we know for certain that the accusation was made in August 1321, but is it true, and what confirms it? Is it possible that 700 years later, we're still just repeating an inaccurate or exaggerated accusation hurled at the two Hugh Despensers by their enemies in the interests of having both men exiled from their homeland? But if it was Edward II who had Bren subjected to the traitor's death, why was this not recorded anywhere either? I find the whole thing most puzzling, and I really don't know who gave the order for the execution, or what to make of the whole situation. It's certainly completely possible that Hugh Despenser did have Llywelyn grotesquely executed; I've read lots of the man's letters, and I don't think it would be at all out of character. As well as his threats to execute people if they didn't give him what he wanted, his ordering his adherents to 'harm' anyone who got in his way, and his willingness to ride roughshod over the law, his letters reveal a certain contempt for the Welsh people. All of this makes it seem perfectly possible and indeed likely that he had Llywelyn Bren removed from the Tower and executed, but the lack of supporting evidence puzzles me. As I said above, if anyone reading this is aware of sources I've missed, please do let me know.


1) Calendar of Close Rolls 1313-1318, pp. 274-5, 283, 285, 419. There are more references to the imprisonment in Edward II's wardrobe account.
2) Statutes of the Realm, vol. 1, p. 183; CCR 1318-23, p. 493.
3) Vita Edwardi Secundi Monachi Cuiusdam Malmesberiensis, ed. N. Denholm-Young, pp. 66-8; Johannis de Trokelowe, et Henrici de Blaneforde, Monachorum S. Albani ecnon quorundam anonymorum Chronica et Annales, ed. H.T. Riley, p. 92.
4) Gesta Edwardi de Carnarvon Auctore Canonico Bridlingtoniensi, in ed. W. Stubbs, Chronicles of the Reigns of Edward I and Edward II, vol. 2, pp. 66-9.
5) Flores Historiarum, vol. 3, ed. H.R. Luard, p. 343.
6) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1327-30, pp. 39-40; CCR 1327-30, p. 121.
7) Cartae at Alia Munimenta quae ad Dominium de Glamorgancia Pertinent, vol. 3, p. 1065.
8) CPR 1321-4, p. 77.
9) CCR 1323-7, p. 622; CPR 1327-30, pp. 39-40, 66; CCR 1327-30, p. 121; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 'Llywelyn Bren'.

21 January, 2021

The Children of the Damory Brothers, Richard and Roger

Edward II's 'favourite' of c. 1315 to 1319 and nephew-in-law Sir Roger Damory, or d'Amory or Dammori or Daumary etc, of Buckinghamshire, was the younger brother of Sir Richard Damory (d. 21 August 1330). Richard Damory was, at various points, the steward of Edward II's household, the guardian of Edward's son the future Edward III ("keeper of the body of my lord Sir Edward, earl of Chester"), justice of North Wales, keeper of the peace in Oxfordshire, sheriff of Oxfordshire and Berkshire, and constable of various royal castles. In July 1300, he was in the household of Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford, who married Edward I's daughter Elizabeth in 1302. [1] Richard, as the elder brother, was heir to the Damory family's lands in Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and Somerset, which passed to his son Richard the younger (d. 1375) after his death. Richard Damory the younger was said to be sixteen in his father's inquisition post mortem of September/October 1330, and thirty-five in his mother's of December 1354. He proved his age, swore fealty to Edward III and was allowed to enter his lands on 16 January 1337, so had recently turned twenty-one and was probably born in late 1315 or thereabouts, though his proof of age itself is missing. [2] 

Richard Damory the elder, who was active as a knight, soldier and keeper of the peace before 1300 and was probably born c. the mid-1270s, married a woman called Margaret (d. 1354). As well as their first son and heir Richard, they had a younger son called John and a daughter called Joan, both alive in 1347. [3] John Damory seems to have had no children, though there is a reference in 1347 to the "heirs male of the body of Joan". Margaret Damory's identity is uncertain - as is the identity of the Damory brothers' mother, who appears to have been called Juliana - though I believe she was a relative of Sir Giles de Lisle or Insula (the Latin form of the name) of Oxfordshire, most probably his sister. On 9 June 1314, Giles de Lisle granted Richard and Margaret a moiety of two of his manors and pasture land and meadow in four others, to pass eventually to the "heirs begotten by Richard on the body of Margaret" with remainders to Richard's brother Roger Damory and Giles' daughter Christina de Lisle. Also on 9 June 1314, Richard Damory granted his manor of Thornborough in Buckinghamshire to Giles de Lisle and his wife Aline for their lives, and Giles still held it at the time of Richard's death in 1330. [4] The date of these grants, and the birth of Richard and Margaret's son Richard Damory the younger in c. late 1315, suggests that Richard and Margaret had recently married in June 1314.

Roger Damory was Edward II's influential 'favourite' between c. early 1315, as far as I can work out, and c. 1319, when he was gradually replaced in the king's affections by Edward's ruthless and manipulative new chamberlain, Hugh Despenser the Younger. At the height of his relationship with the king, Roger was rewarded with a brilliant marriage to the king's wealthy and twice-widowed niece Elizabeth de Burgh née de Clare around 30 April/3 May 1317. Edward II was hectoring Elizabeth to marry Roger as early as September 1316, before her second husband Theobald de Verdon had even been buried yet, though their wedding was delayed by Elizabeth's pregnancy: she gave birth to Theobald's posthumous daughter Isabella on 21 March 1317. Roger later rebelled against Edward and joined the Contrariant rebellion of 1321/22, and died at Tutbury Priory on c. 12/14 March 1322 (chroniclers give 13 or 14 March as the date of his death, though his widow kept his anniversary as 12 March, the feast of St Gregory). 

Sir Richard and Sir Roger Damory's father Sir Robert was still alive on 12 July 1285 but died not long after (according to the Complete Peerage), so even if Roger was posthumous, he can't have been born any later than the spring or summer of 1286, and most probably was born well before that. His brother Richard was old enough to be knighted by 1297 and to be appointed keeper of the peace in Oxfordshire in 1300, and Roger himself was knighted sometime before September 1306, the first time I can find him on record. [5] He wasn't one of the 265 men knighted with Edward of Caernarfon, prince of Wales, on 22 May 1306. If I'm correct that Sir Richard Damory married Margaret (de Lisle?) shortly before 9 June 1314, he must have been in his late thirties or thereabouts at the time of his wedding, and when Sir Roger married Elizabeth de Burgh in the spring of 1317, he must also have been well past thirty. She was twenty-one.

Roger Damory and Elizabeth de Burgh had one surviving child, Elizabeth Damory, later Lady Bardolf, the wife of John, Lord Bardolf of Wormegay in Norfolk (1312-63). There are several references in the chancery rolls and various inquisitions, beginning in August 1337, which refer to Elizabeth Bardolf née Damory as Roger Damory's daughter and heir, and English inheritance law of the fourteenth century makes it absolutely certain, therefore, that she was his only surviving legitimate child. If Roger had had a legitimate son or sons, the eldest son would have been his sole heir; if he had had other surviving legitimate daughters, she or they would have shared the few manors Roger had held in his own right with Elizabeth Bardolf.

In October 2018, genealogist Douglas Richardson made the exciting discovery that in 1329, Roger Damory had two surviving legitimate daughters and heirs: Margaret and Elizabeth. See his post in soc.genealogy.medieval, and here is an image of the original document that names the two Damory daughters. Margaret Damory is named before Elizabeth, and therefore was probably the elder. It would seem, therefore, that Margaret Damory was still alive in 1329 but died sometime between then and 1337, when Elizabeth Bardolf was first described as Roger Damory's sole heir. It might not be a coincidence that Elizabeth is called Roger's sole heir for the first time, as far as I can tell, in the charter rolls and the patent rolls on 8 and 13 August 1337. Perhaps Margaret had recently died. [6] Elizabeth Damory married John Bardolf before 25 December 1327, and their son William Bardolf was born in Wormegay, Norfolk on 21 October 1349. [7] They had daughters Agnes and Isabel as well, who are mentioned in their grandmother Elizabeth de Burgh's will of 1355 but appear to have died young or joined a convent. 

I've written before that Edward II rewarded Roger Damory's messenger John Pyrro with the large sum of £20 on 23 May 1318 for bringing him news of the birth of Roger and Elizabeth de Burgh's child, just over a year after their wedding. Unfortunately, the royal accounts fail to specify the child's name or even sex. I've previously assumed that this infant must have been Elizabeth Damory Bardolf, as she was later Roger's only surviving child, but it seems that I was wrong. There are two references to Elizabeth de Burgh employing wet-nurses at Usk Castle in 1322/23, one of them in her household accounts and the other in a letter sent by her brother-in-law Hugh Despenser the Younger in September or October 1322. With his usual hauteur, Hugh wrote "regarding the lady's wet-nurses, we have been requested that they be moved from Usk to Gower or elsewhere, and we have permitted this and wish it to be so." [8] 

Clearly, a child born in May 1318 wouldn't still require wet-nurses almost four and a half years later, and therefore, it seems that Roger Damory and Elizabeth de Burgh had another child born sometime in c. 1321/22. Perhaps this was Elizabeth Bardolf, and perhaps Margaret was the child born in May 1318. (Douglas Richardson's post linked above states that Elizabeth Bardolf must have been born by 1320 as she was married to John Bardolf by late 1327 and had to be at least seven years old then, but he is mistaken on this point. There are plenty of examples in the fourteenth century of children marrying before they were seven, such as four-year-old David Bruce of Scotland in July 1328, three-year-old Lionel of Antwerp in August 1342, the wedding of four-year-old Maud of Lancaster and five- or six-year-old Ralph Stafford in November 1344, and the wedding of six-year-old Thomas Despenser and the even younger Constance of York in November 1379.)

I've been unable to find any other references to Margaret Damory, and it's interesting that it was her younger sister Elizabeth who was married to John Bardolf in or before December 1327 and not Margaret, given that John was probably born in January 1312 and Margaret would have been closer to his age than Elizabeth was. Roger Damory and Elizabeth de Burgh's children, though not in any way great heiresses, were the half-siblings of William de Burgh, earl of Ulster (1312-33) and Isabella de Verdon, Lady Ferrers of Groby (1317-49), and were great-grandchildren of Edward I and first cousins once removed of King Edward III. They were, therefore, of high birth, so it's also interesting that Margaret Damory is so obscure.

On 14 April 1318, 6 December 1319 and sometime in 1321, there are references to three students at the King's Hall at the University of Cambridge, founded by Edward II in July 1317 to mark the tenth anniversary of his accession to the throne. The students' names were Nicholas, Richard and William Damory, and their name also appears in the university records as Nicholas, Richard and William Pour(e). This means 'poor', though it may not be a coincidence that Roger and Richard Damory's sister Katherine married Sir Walter Poure of Oxfordshire. [9] In addition, Sir Roger Damory's widow Elizabeth de Burgh bought books of civil law for Nicholas Damory in March 1326, so although he was no longer named on record as a student of the University of Cambridge after 1321, evidently he was still studying. [10] Nicholas Damory, who was knighted and died in 1381, was associated with Elizabeth for decades and was one of her most trusted - perhaps the most trusted - advisers, officials, attorneys and adherents. In Elizabeth's long will of 1355, Nicholas was named first among her fifteen executors, and in fact was the very first person named in the will. Nicholas had a very long and remarkably successful career that I hope to look at in more detail at some point.

The question is, who were Nicholas, Richard and William Damory/Pour(e), the Cambridge students? This Richard is most unlikely to have been the Sir Richard Damory of Oxfordshire born c. the 1270s; he was far too busy acting as the guardian of the future king of England in the late 1310s to be a student at Cambridge. Richard's son the younger Richard was only born c. 1315, so obviously it can't be him either. As well as his decades-long association with Roger Damory's widow Elizabeth de Burgh, Nicholas Damory was associated with Elizabeth Damory Bardolf: she and her husband John Bardolf granted him the Oxfordshire manor of Holton, which she had inherited from her father Roger, for life in 1340, and John appointed Nicholas as his attorney when he went overseas in 1363. [11] The Complete Peerage speculates that Nicholas was probably a first cousin of Richard Damory the younger (c. 1315-1375). [12] If this is the case, he was the son of either Roger Damory, or of another Damory brother whose existence has never been discovered. Might he have been an illegitimate son of Sir Roger Damory, and thus Elizabeth Damory Bardolf's half-brother? He can't have been Roger's legitimate son from a putative first marriage before he wed Elizabeth de Burgh in 1317, as otherwise Nicholas would have been his heir.

In addition to Sir Nicholas Damory, and the other two Damorys at the University of Cambridge in the late 1310s and early 1320s who appear to have been Nicholas's brothers, another Roger Damory appears on record in Elizabeth de Burgh's household accounts between 1331 and 1336, when he was underage. Elizabeth purchased cloth, shoes, candlesticks and other necessities for Roger and two other boys or young men living in her household. [13] This Roger was still underage or was about to come of age in 1336, so was born in or after 1315. He might also have been an illegitimate son of Sir Roger Damory (d. 1322) or perhaps of his older brother Sir Richard (d. 1330). As for Elizabeth Damory Bardolf, she was still alive when her mother Elizabeth de Burgh's inquisition post mortem was held in Lincolnshire on 10 December 1360 and in Dorset on 4 January 1361, but was dead when her husband John Bardolf's inquisition post mortem was held in November/December 1363; he held several manors in Lincolnshire by the 'courtesy of England' after her death. John died in Assisi, Italy on c. 29 July/3 August 1363, aged about fifty-one. [14] Their son and heir William Bardolf was left an orphan before he was fourteen, proved his age on 2 October 1371, married Agnes Poynings, had a son Thomas and daughters Cecily and Elizabeth and grandchildren from all of them, and died on 29 January 1386. [15]


1) Calendar of Chancery Warrants 1244-1326, p. 111.
2) Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1327-36, no. 275 CIPM 1352-60, no. 170; CIPM 1374-77, no. 116; Calendar of Fine Rolls 1327-37, pp. 192, 203; Calendar of Close Rolls 1333-37, p. 640.
3) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1345-48, p. 329.
4) Feet of Fines, Oxfordshire, CP 25/1/189/14, nos. 129, 130; Feet of Fines, Buckinghamshire, CP 25/1/18/65, nos. 15, 16, 19; CIPM 1327-36, no. 275; CFR 1307-19, p. 317. Richard and Giles jointly witnessed a grant of land in Oxfordshire at an uncertain date: Catalogue of Ancient Deeds, vol. 4, no. A.6864.
5) Calendar of Documents Relating to Ireland 1302-07, nos. 566, 599.
6) Calendar of Charter Rolls 1327-41, p. 426, 8 August 1337: 'John Bardolf and Elizabeth his wife, daughter and heir of the said Roger [Damory] and Elizabeth [de Burgh]'; CPR 1334-38, pp. 490-91, 13 August 1337: 'John Bardolf and Elizabeth his wife, daughter and heir of the said Roger [Damory]'. Also CIPM 1352-1360, no. 637, pp. 507, 509: 'Elizabeth daughter of the said Roger and Elizabeth [de Burgh], wife of John Bardolf, knight, aged 30 years and more, is the said Roger's heir to the manor' (Caythorpe, Lincolnshire).
7) CPR 1327-30, p. 198; CIPM 1361-5, no. 573; CIPM 1370-3, no. 136.
8) Cartae et Alia Munimenta quae ad Dominium Glamorgancia Pertinent, vol. 3, p. 1103; Jennifer Ward, Elizabeth de Burgh, Lady of Clare (1295-1360) (2014), xvii note 14, citing TNA SC 6/927/31.
9) Admissions to Trinity College, Cambridge, ed. W.W.R. Ball and J.A. Venn, vol. 1, pp. 83-5.
10) Jennifer Ward, English Noblewomen in the Late Middle Ages, p. 140.
11) CPR 1338-40, p. 477; CPR 1361-4, p. 377.
12) Complete Peerage, vol. 4, p. 48 note c.
13) Ward, Lady of Clare, p. 129; Frances Underhill, For Her Good Estate: The Life of Elizabeth de Burgh, p. 100.
14) CIPM 1352-1360, no. 637, pp. 507, 509; CIPM 1361-5, no. 573.
15) CIPM 1370-3, no. 136; CIPM 1384-92, nos. 218-32, 949.

10 January, 2021

My Edward II Story

My blog celebrated its fifteenth anniversary on 3 December 2020, and has now had just under three million visitors. A new reader emailed me recently suggesting that I explain how I came to be so interested in, and devoted to, Edward II, so here's a post explaining how it came about.

As a teenager, I was blinking well obsessed with the Middle Ages, and made the decision to study medieval history and literature at Manchester University in the second half of the 1990s. Funnily enough, during my studies I always felt that Edward II was the medieval king of England I knew the least about. My so-called 'knowledge' of him and his reign was limited to: Piers Gaveston; execution of Thomas of Lancaster in 1322; deposition; red-hot poker (!!). After university I became an English teacher, and didn't do anything much with my medieval history degrees. For half a decade, my interest in the Middle Ages faded almost entirely, with the exception of watching and thoroughly enjoying the film A Knight's Tale in 2001 or 2002, and reading one or two of Margaret Frazer's Dame Frevisse novels.

In September 2004, I read a novel called Days Without Number by Robert Goddard. It's set in modern times, but the first-person narrator, Nick Paleologus, is a supposed descendant of the Paleologus emperors of Byzantium, and much of the plot revolves around Tintagel Castle in Cornwall and its builder, Richard of Cornwall (1209-72), younger son of King John and brother of Henry III. At university, I'd been interested in Richard, and Goddard's novel awakened that interest. I did lots of reading about him on the internet and ordered two biographies of him from Amazon, and for a few weeks was pretty obsessed with Richard and his life. I printed out lots of family trees from the internet and pored over them, and kept seeing Richard's great-nephew, Edward II. Huh, I thought, now there's someone I know virtually nothing about. Maybe I should read up on him, and fill the massive gap in my knowledge of medieval English kings.

The rest, as they say, is history. Pretty soon my interest in Richard of Cornwall receded into the background - though I'm certainly still keen enough that I'd buy a new biography of him if someone wrote one - and Edward II came to occupy more and more space in my head. Within weeks, I had the very strong feeling that I'd finally found the thing I was meant to be doing with my life: researching Edward and his life and reign. My obsession with Edward is the part that I find hard to explain. I suppose I just find it endlessly fascinating that someone born as the son of a king and the grandson of two more kings proved to be such a disaster as a leader; that a man born into a hereditary monarchy was so unsuited to his position, leading to tragedy both for himself and his subjects; plus Edward's sheer unconventionality, the endless contradictions of his character, and the incredible drama of his comparatively short reign.

One of the first books I bought in October or November 2004, when it became apparent to me that this was developing into way more than a fleeting interest, was Ian Mortimer's Greatest Traitor, and I also got a copy of Caroline Bingham's dated but gorgeously illustrated and sympathetic Life and Times of Edward II. Early in 2005, I bought a copy of James Conway Davies' Baronial Opposition to Edward II from a seller in New Zealand, got hold of Roy Martin Haines' scholarly bio of Edward published in 2003 and J.R.S. Phillips' brilliant Baronial Politics in the Reign of Edward II, and soon afterwards started delving into primary sources as well. You probably won't be surprised to hear that the first chronicle of Edward's reign which I read was the Vita Edwardi Secundi. At the beginning of December 2005, my partner suggested that I share my knowledge and interest by starting a blog, so I did, and here we are still, a decade and a half later.

I still have my copy of Robert Goddard's Days Without Number, and treasure it. Without it, I might not have discovered my love of Edward II and the fourteenth century, so I owe a great deal to that novel. Over sixteen years after I began reading about Edward's life and reign, my fascination with him has not faded one iota, and in fact grows stronger and stronger. I still learn new things about him, often from his wonderful chamber accounts which survive from 1324-26, and no matter how often I look at them, I still find fascinating snippets I hadn't noticed before!