18 November, 2021

18 November 1362: King Pedro Makes a Will

Pedro, king of Castile and Leon, often known to posterity as 'the Cruel', was born in 1334 as the only son of Alfonso XI (1311-50, betrothed to Edward II's daughter Eleanor of Woodstock in 1324) and Maria of Portugal (1313-57). Pedro was set to marry Edward III's second daughter Joan of Woodstock (b. c. January 1334) in the summer of 1348, but she died of the plague on her way to their wedding, and five years later, by now king of Castile and Leon, Pedro married the French noblewoman Blanche de Bourbon instead. Pedro's love life was exceedingly complicated. By the time of his wedding to Blanche, he was involved in an intense relationship with the Castilian noblewoman Doña María de Padilla, who gave birth to their eldest child, Beatriz, some months before Pedro married Blanche in June 1353. He abandoned the unfortunate Blanche within days of their wedding and went off with María, who gave birth to their second child, Costanza, later duchess of Lancaster and Edward III's daughter-in-law, in July 1354 thirteen months after Costanza's father married another woman. 

In April 1354 three months before Costanza was born, however, Pedro claimed to have had his marriage to Blanche de Bourbon annulled and went through a wedding ceremony with another Castilian noblewoman, Doña Juana de Castro. (Didn't I say his love life was insanely complicated? There's that whole thing about him fathering a child called Fernando with María de Padilla's first cousin María González de Henestrosa as well.) The king made a habit of abandoning women just after he married them, and left Juana de Castro - whose sister or half-sister Inês was the famous assassinated mistress and perhaps wife of Pedro's uncle the king of Portugal - the day after their wedding. Their extremely brief relationship resulted in a son, Juan, born nine months later in early January 1355, more or less on the same day as his aunt Inês de Castro's assassination. Juan was six months younger than his half-sister Costanza, and a few months older than his half-sister Isabel, duchess of York and also Edward III's daughter-in-law, the third child of King Pedro and María de Padilla, who was born in the summer or autumn of 1355. Pedro and María's fourth and youngest child, Alfonso, was born in 1359, and María de Padilla and the tragic Blanche de Bourbon both died in 1361, Blanche after eight years of captivity.

Below: baths in the Alcázar in Seville, named after María de Padilla (my pics, taken during a visit to Seville a few years ago).

Pedro and María's son Alfonso died in Seville on or about 18 October 1362, aged just three (Fernando, Pedro's young son from his relationship with María's cousin, also died in 1361 or 1362). A month later on 18 November 1362, King Pedro made his will, in medieval Castilian. It's printed in volume 1 of Pero López de Ayala's Crónicas de los Reyes de Castilla: Don Pedro, Don Enrique II, Don Juan I, Don Enrique III, published in 1779. (Ayala lived from 1332 to 1407, and his niece Teresa de Ayala, one of King Pedro's mistresses in the 1360s after the death of María de Padilla, bore him a daughter, María de Ayala, in c. 1367.) In his will, King Pedro expressed his wish for his kingdoms of Castile and Leon to pass to his and the late María de Padilla's eldest child Beatriz, and stated that Beatriz was to marry Fernando of Portugal (b. 1345), son and heir of Pedro's namesake maternal uncle the king of Portugal (d. 1367). Beatriz, in fact, died sometime after September 1366, when she and her younger sisters Costanza and Isabel were sent as hostages to Edward of Woodstock, prince of Wales and Aquitaine. The date of her death was not recorded, but she was almost certainly already dead when her father was stabbed to death by his illegitimate half-brother Enrique of Trastámara in March 1369, and was certainly dead by the time John of Gaunt married her younger sister Costanza in September 1371. Beatriz's fate is rather obscure. Some modern writers claim she became a nun at the convent of Santa Clara de Tordesillas, though I'm not sure how and when she could have, given that she was Pedro's eldest daughter and heir and he wished her to become queen-regnant of Castile and queen-consort of Portugal, and given that she was one of tres filiae nostrae or 'our three daughters' whom Pedro sent as hostages to Edward III's eldest son on or just after 23 September 1366. [Foedera 1361-77, pp. 805-6]

After Beatriz, Pedro left his kingdoms to his second daughter Costanza, then to his third daughter Isabel, then to his and Juana de Castro's son Juan. In later decades, Isabel and her husband Edmund of Langley (d. 1402), first duke of York, and their son and heir Edward (d. 1415), second duke of York, claimed the throne of Castile by right of male descent. They stated that as Costanza had only a daughter, Catalina of Lancaster, and no son, the Yorks had a superior right to Pedro's throne, because Pedro had specified that Castile and Leon would pass to Beatriz and her male heirs, then Costanza and her male heirs, then Isabel and her male heirs. In fact, they were wrong: Pedro's will stated that Beatriz was his primary heir and that a legitimate son of Beatriz would be next in line, or failing a son, her legitimate daughter. Beatriz was followed by Costanza in the succession if Beatriz had no legitimate sons or daughters (as indeed she did not), followed by Isabel if neither Beatriz nor Costanza had legitimate sons or daughters. 

Pedro made a point of specifying that the sons, preferentially, or the daughters, failing the birth of sons, of his three daughters could inherit his kingdom. He did not specify any future husbands for Costanza and Isabel, though did state that his kingdoms would belong, in the event of Beatriz's death, to Costanza and whoever she married, succeeded by her son or daughter (mándo que herede los mis Regnos la Infant Doña Costanza mi fija é el que con ella casáre, é despues della el fijo ó fija). Pedro strictly ordered his three daughters never to marry into the Trastámara branch of the family, i.e. the descendants of his father Alfonso XI and his mistress Leonor de Guzmán, in particular the families of Pedro's oldest half-brother and future usurper and killer Enrique and Enrique's brothers Tello and Sancho. If they did, the girls would be cursed by God and by Pedro himself. Another man on Pedro's list of unmarriageables was his cousin Fernando of Aragon, el Infant Don Ferrando de Aragon, who joined the Trastámara brothers' rebellion against him. Pedro's granddaughter Catalina of Lancaster (b. 1372/73), Costanza's only surviving child and heir, married Enrique of Trastámara's grandson Enrique (b. 1379) in 1388, and they suceeded as king and queen of Castile in 1390. Although Pedro had not specifically stated that his daughters' children should not marry a Trastámara, I can't help wondering if the marriage gave Costanza some anxious moments, wondering if she was risking the wrath of God and her late father.

In his will, Pedro left a sizeable number of items to nine-year-old Beatriz, eight-year-old Costanza and seven-year-old Isabel and to their seven-year-old half-brother Juan, though whether the four ever received any of the bequests, given Pedro's downfall and his assassination by his half-brother Enrique of Trastámara in 1369, is another question. To Costanza, Pedro left 100,000 Moroccan gold coins, a large number of seed pearls, a gold cup, a crown which had once belonged to his father Alfonso XI, another crown decorated with eagles which had once belonged to his aunt Leonor, queen of Aragon (d. 1359), and a third crown which Pedro had had made in Seville. This last crown was set with a large balas ruby which had once been in the possession of Abu Abdullah Muhammad VI, emir of Granada, whom Pedro and other Christians called King Bermejo (meaning 'russet' or 'red'). Pero López de Ayala's chronicle says that in April 1362, Pedro invited the emir and thirty-six members of his entourage to Seville, where, after dining with them, he had them killed and stripped of their valuables. If this tale is true, the valuables perhaps included the large ruby which Pedro willed to Costanza seven months later. Pedro bequeathed far more of his possessions to Costanza than to her sisters Beatriz and Isabel or to Juan, perhaps indicating that she was his favourite child. 

To Isabel, Pedro left 70,000 Moroccan coins, silk cloths, cloth-of-gold, rugs, unspecified 'other cloths' and a 'French crown' which had belonged to his tragic wife Blanche de Bourbon, whom Pedro refused to acknowledge as his wife and queen in the will and called simply 'Doña Blanca, daughter of the duke of Bourbon' (la corona Francesa que fué de Doña Blanca fija del duc de Borbon). He repeatedly referred to his long-term mistress and the great love of his life, María de Padilla, as 'the queen, Doña María, my wife'. María's jewels and other goods were to be divided into six portions; Beatriz (la Infant Doña Beatris) was to receive three of them, Costanza two, and Isabel one. Pedro's own personal goods which he had not bequeathed elsewhere in the will were to be divided into eight portions: three each for Beatriz and Costanza, and one each for Isabel and Juan. Beatriz was also to receive other items from her father, including a gold cup and another very large balas ruby which had belonged to Abu Abdullah Muhammad VI. 

Finally, Juan (Don Juan mio fijo é de Doña Juana de Castro) was bequeathed his father's armour and weapons, including six swords and a basinet helmet. Juan, incidentally, was imprisoned for many years by his Trastámara cousins, as were his half-brothers Sancho and Diego, born in 1363 and c. 1365 as the children of King Pedro and his mistress Isabel de Sandoval. At an unknown date in the late 1300s or beginning of the 1400s, Juan married Elvira de Eril, daughter of his warder Beltrán, and they had two children who lived into adulthood and joined the Church. Juan and Elvira named their daughter Costanza, perhaps in honour of his half-sister the duchess of Lancaster, and she became prioress of Santo Domingo el Real in Toledo and died in 1478, while their son Pedro (d. 1461) was bishop of Osma and Palencia. Juan died in 1405.

14 November, 2021

The Children of Thomas Holland, Earl of Kent (d. 1397) and Alice Arundel (d. 1416)

Thomas Holland, earl of Kent, grandson of Sir Robert Holland (d. 1328) and nephew of Isabelle Holland, was born in c. 1351 as the son and heir of Thomas Holland Sr (d. late 1360), and Edward I's granddaughter Joan of Kent, later princess of Wales and Richard II's mother. [1] Around 10 April 1364, Thomas married Alice Fitzalan or Arundel, third of the five children of Richard, earl of Arundel (d. 1376) and his second wife Eleanor of Lancaster (d. 1372). A papal dispensation for consanguinity had been issued the August before. [2] Alice was probably slightly older than her husband Thomas (d. 25 April 1397), though only by a couple of years. When she died on 17 March 1416, she had outlived at least six and perhaps seven of their eleven children. 

A psalter now held in the library of St John's College, Cambridge, gives the dates of birth (and death, in some cases) of some of Thomas Holland and Alice Arundel's children. All four of their sons and three of their seven daughters are assigned a date of birth, though frustratingly, four of their daughters are not mentioned: Joan, duchess of York, Margaret, duchess of Clarence, Elizabeth, daughter-in-law and mother of earls of Westmorland, and Bridget, a nun of Barking. Other than Alianore Holland, countess of March and Ulster, who was the eldest child, and Thomas Holland, earl of Kent and duke of Surrey, who was the second child and eldest son, it's hard to determine the exact birth order of all the siblings; we can determine the birth order of the boys, and the birth order of the girls, but putting them all together is tricky. Here's a list with my best guess at the correct order of all eleven children:

- Alianore or Eleanor Holland, countess of March and Ulster, b. 13 October 1370. She married her father's ward Roger Mortimer, fourth earl of March and earl of Ulster, who was b. 11 April 1374, and according to the annalist of Wigmore Abbey in Herefordshire, their eldest child Anne Mortimer, countess of Cambridge and the paternal grandmother of Edward IV and Richard III, was born on 27 December 1388. [3] Anne was probably conceived more or less exactly on Roger Mortimer's fourteenth birthday, which fell thirty-seven weeks before her birth, so Roger was a very young father, and as Alianore's father Thomas Holland was about thirty-seven in 1388, he was a young grandfather. Alianore had a younger daughter and two sons, Edmund (b. 1391) and Roger (b. 1393) Mortimer as well, and two daughters from her second marriage to Edward Charlton or Cherleton. She died in 1405.

- Thomas Holland, the eldest son, earl of Kent and duke of Surrey, b. 8 September 1372, beheaded in Cirencester during the Epiphany Rising on c. 7 January 1400, aged twenty-seven. He married the earl of Stafford's daughter Joan Stafford (d. 1442) shortly after 20 October 1392, but had no children. [4]

- John Holland, the second son, b. 2 November 1374, d. 5 November 1394. Probably named after his father's younger brother John Holland (b. c. 1353), later earl of Huntingdon and duke of Exeter, and perhaps his godson. He would have been his brother Thomas's heir in 1400 if he had lived longer, but died in his father's lifetime.

- Richard Holland, the third son, b. 3 April 1376, d. 21 May 1396. Richard went into the Church after graduating BA, but like his brother John, died at the age of twenty, also in their father's lifetime. He was surely named in honour of his half-uncle Richard of Bordeaux, who became king of England the year after Richard Holland's birth. [5]

- Joan Holland, the second daughter, duchess of York. Her date of birth is unknown, though I would imagine that she was the fifth Holland child after Alianore, Thomas, John and Richard, and was born in c. 1377 or 1378 (it's possible that one of the Holland children, perhaps Joan, was born between Thomas in September 1372 and John in November 1374, though the timing is a bit tight). Joan married the fifty-two-year-old widower Edmund of Langley, duke of York, in c. November 1393. Confusingly, he was Richard II's uncle while she was Richard II's half-niece. To make matters even more hilariously confusing, Joan's stepdaughter Constance of York, who was most probably some years her senior, had an illegitimate daughter with Joan's brother Edmund Holland, earl of Kent (see below). After Edmund of Langley, duke of York, died in 1402, Joan Holland embarked on another three marriages, though had no children.

- Margaret Holland, the third daughter, duchess of Clarence and countess of Somerset, probably born after Joan and before Edmund, placing her date of birth around 1380. Before 28 September 1397, she married John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford's eldest child John Beaufort (b. c. 1373), earl of Somerset, and they were the grandparents of Margaret Beaufort, Henry VII's mother. After Margaret Holland was widowed in 1410, she married her late husband's half-nephew Thomas of Lancaster, duke of Clarence (b. 1387), Henry V's brother. She died in late 1439 and was the last surviving of the Holland children, and was named as one of the co-heirs of her sister Joan, dowager duchess of York, the second last survivor, in 1434. [6]

- Edmund Holland, the fourth and youngest son and his brother Thomas's heir, earl of Kent, was born on 9 January 1382 according to the psalter, or on 6 January 1382 in Brockenhurst, Hampshire, according to his proof of age, or on 6 January 1383 according to his brother Thomas's inquisition post mortem. Confusingly, the proof of age was taken in Winchester on 22 May 1404 and states that Edmund was 'born on 6 Jan. 1382...and is therefore twenty-one years of age' (this discrepancy might be a result of the confusing medieval habit of dating the new year from 25 March). Edmund married Lucia Visconti of Milan in January 1407, and though he had no children with her during their twenty-month marriage, he had an illegitimate daughter with Edward III's granddaughter Constance of York (c. 1375-1416), dowager Lady Despenser: Alianore Holland, Lady Tuchet, born sometime in the early 1400s. Edmund was killed fighting in Brittany in September 1408, and his heirs were his four surviving sisters, Joan, Margaret, Eleanor and Elizabeth, and Edmund Mortimer, earl of March (b. 1391), son of his late eldest sister Alianore (1370-1405). Edmund Holland's inquisition post mortem and numerous entries in the chancery rolls make the birth order of the five eldest Holland sisters absolutely certain. [7] After Edmund's death, there were no fewer than four dowager countesses of Kent: his widow Lucia Visconti, his sister-in-law Joan Stafford, his mother Alice Arundel, and his elderly German great-aunt Elisabeth of Jülich (d. 1411), widow of John, earl of Kent (1330-52), the younger brother of Joan of Kent, princess of Wales.

- Alianore or Eleanor Holland the younger, the fourth daughter, countess of Salisbury, was born on 29 November 1384, and was almost certainly the eighth Holland child. As was the case with her namesake eldest sister the countess of March, she married a man several years younger than she was: Thomas Montacute or Montagu was born on 25 March 1388 in Shenley, Hertfordshire, and was named after his royal godfather Thomas of Woodstock, duke of Gloucester. [8] Thomas Montacute's father John Montacute, earl of Salisbury, was beheaded in Cirencester in January 1400 alongside Eleanor's eldest brother Thomas Holland, earl of Kent. Eleanor was the mother of Thomas's daughter and heir Alice (b. 1407), countess of Salisbury, who married Richard Neville (d. 1460), eldest son of Joan Beaufort and Ralph Neville, first earl of Westmorland.

- Elizabeth Holland, the fifth daughter, date of birth unknown, but presumably around 1386/87. She married John Neville (c. 1387-1420), eldest son of Ralph Neville, first earl of Westmorland, from his first marriage to Margaret Stafford, and had a son also named Ralph Neville, second earl of Westmorland, born in Cockermouth, Cumberland on or a little before 4 April 1406. Elizabeth was said to be twenty years old in her brother Edmund's inquisition post mortem of November 1408 and twenty-two years old in her mother Alice's inquisition post mortem of May 1416, which is a neat trick. Her sister Duchess Joan, meanwhile, had supposedly aged twelve years, from twenty-four to thirty-six, in those seven and a half years. [9]

- Bridget Holland, date of birth unknown, who became a nun at the prestigious abbey of Barking in Essex. Either Bridget or her sister Anne, below, was the seventh daughter and the eleventh and youngest Holland child.

- Anne Holland, born 4 December 1389 and just under a year younger than her namesake niece Anne Mortimer, countess of Cambridge. I don't know anything about Anne Holland or what became of her. She wasn't named in the inquisitions post mortem of her brother Edmund in 1408 or her mother Alice in 1416, so either she was dead by then or she had, like Bridget, joined a convent. It's rather curious to me that the psalter gives Anne's exact date of birth but not those of several of her older sisters who lived into adulthood, though at least we know of her existence as a result.


1) CIPM 1352-60, no. 657; Thomas was either nine or ten years old in January/February 1361.

2) CPR 1361-64, p. 480; CFR 1413-22, pp. 166-67; Petitions to the Pope 1342-1419, p. 453.

3) Monasticon Anglicanum, ed. Dugdale, vol. 6, p. 355.

4) CPR 1391-96, p. 211.

5) Calendar of Papal Letters 1362-1404, p. 397; CPR 1391-96, pp. 119, 130.

6) CPR 1396-99, p. 211; CIPM 1432-37, nos. 245-62.

7) CIPM 1399-1405, nos. 974-79; CIPM 1405-13, nos. 622-39; CFR 1405-13, p. 135.

8) CIPM 1405-13, no. 655.

9) CIPM 1405-13, nos. 622-39; CIPM 1413-18, nos. 608-20; CIPM 1427-32, no. 314.

07 November, 2021

Sir Robert Holland (d. 1328)

I've previously written a post about the murder of Sir Robert Holland in October 1328, and another about his daughter Isabelle, mistress of John de Warenne, earl of Surrey (d. 1347). Here's one about Robert himself, a knight of Lancashire whose grandchildren were the older half-siblings of King Richard II.

Robert's family came originally from the village of Upholland in Lancashire, and in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the name was spelt Holand, Holande, Holond, Holaund(e), Hoyland, Hoylaund, etc. Robert's father was also called Sir Robert Holland, and the older Robert was the eldest of the six sons of Thurstan Holland, who was himself the son of yet another Robert Holland. [1] This Robert and his son Thurstan, our Robert's great-grandfather and grandfather, were imprisoned in 1241 after setting fire to a house belonging to the rector of Wigan. 

Our Robert's mother, Elizabeth, was the third and youngest daughter, and co-heir, of Sir William Samlesbury, who married Avina Notton and died in c. 1256, leaving their three daughters Margery, Cecily and Elizabeth as his heirs. Elizabeth and Sir Robert Holland Senior were certainly already married by September 1276 and probably a good few years before that. Robert Senior is assumed to have died c. 1304, while Elizabeth was still alive in 1313/14. The date of birth of Robert and Elizabeth's eldest son and heir, our Robert, is not recorded but was probably sometime near the start of the 1270s; his father settled a tenement on him in Pemberton and Orrell in 1292, suggesting he was at least twenty-one then and may have recently turned twenty-one. In the late 1310s and early 1320s, a 'Simon de Holand' (d. 1325) was associated with Robert, who gave him a plot of land in Lancashire, and there was also a 'Richard de Holand, knight' who joined the Contrariant rebellion of 1321/22 with Robert. There's an entry in the Final Concords for Lancashire in October 1321 regarding 'Richard son of Robert de Holand, plaintiff'. [2] As the sons of our Robert Holland were still children in 1321, this would appear to mean that Richard was a son of Robert Holland Sr (d. c. 1304) and therefore our Robert's brother. Robert certainly had a younger brother named William, who died in the late 1310s or early 1320s and whose son and heir was named Robert, and there are also references in the chancery rolls in the 1330s and 1340s to another son of William's called Thurstan. 

J.R. Maddicott has pointed out that Robert Holland's origins were not quite as humble as some fourteenth-century chroniclers, notably the Brut and Henry Knighton - who wrote that the earl of Lancaster raised Robert 'from nothing' - claimed. [3] C. Moor's Knights of Edward I (vol. 2, p. 233) states that our Robert was active as a knight and a keeper of the peace in Lancashire as early as 1287, but surely that's his father of the same name. As so often happens when father and son had the same name, it's difficult, or even impossible, to distingush between them, especially when the son reached an age where he became active as a knight and soldier. It was possibly the younger Robert, rather than his father, who was appointed to 'choose 2,000 footmen' in Lancashire in June 1300, and who was appointed as a commissioner also in Lancashire in May 1303. [4] 

As early as September 1300, the younger Robert Holland was already associated with Edward I's nephew Thomas of Lancaster, earl of Lancaster and Leicester, who was then in his early twenties (my belief is that Thomas was born on or around 29 December 1277). On 18 September 1300, Edward I ordered his escheator beyond Trent 'not to intermeddle further with the lands that Robert de Holand had of the gift of Thomas, earl of Lancaster, tenant in chief, in Beltesford, which the escheator has taken into the king's hands because Robert entered them without his licence.' [5] This is an early indication of Robert's close relationship with Thomas of Lancaster, which lasted for over twenty years. In March 1316, Thomas founded a chantry in Worcester to pray for the souls of his royal parents Edmund of Lancaster, earl of Lancaster and Leicester (d. 1296) and Blanche of Artois, dowager queen of Navarre (d. 1302), on the anniversaries of their deaths. The monks were also to pray on the anniversaries of two people currently still alive, after their deaths: Thomas himself, and Sir Robert Holland. Thomas didn't ask for prayers for his wife Alice de Lacy or his younger brother Henry or Henry's children or anyone else, just Robert Holland, an indication of Robert's importance in his life. J.R. Maddicott has called Robert Thomas of Lancaster's 'companion and friend, estate steward, political agent, and general factotum', and states that their 'close friendship...ran at a deeper level than that of a mere business partnership'. [6] There are numerous instances in the chancery rolls of Earl Thomas granting manors to Robert and his wife Maud, and their heirs.

Edward II appointed Robert Holland to the important position of justice of Chester on 28 August 1307, at the beginning of his reign. Robert held the office until late 1311, was replaced, but then re-appointed a few weeks later. [7] At the beginning of the reign, and until c. late 1308 or early 1309, Thomas of Lancaster was closely associated with his cousin the king, and the two men were on excellent terms. Things went badly wrong, however, and for reasons that are unclear, Thomas began to move into opposition to his cousin. The two royal men came to detest and fear each other, especially after Thomas's involvement in the death of Piers Gaveston in June 1312. A jousting tournament was held in Dunstable, Bedfordshire in the spring of 1309, which a large number of the English earls and barons used as a cover to meet and express their disgruntlement with Edward II's governance. Thomas, earl of Lancaster, and Sir Robert Holland were among those present. [8] Edward replaced Robert as justice of Chester with Payn Tibetot in late 1311, but in January 1312 spoke of Robert's 'good service' to him and re-appointed him as justice of Chester, being aggrieved with Tibetot, who had 'treated with contempt the king's mandate directed to him'. [9]

The king sent a letter to Sir Robert Holland on 20 November 1311, stating that 'we are very joyous and pleased about the good news we have heard concerning the improvement in our dear cousin and faithful subject Thomas, earl of Lancaster, that he will soon be able to ride in comfort. And we send you word and dearly pray that, as soon as he is comfortable and able to ride without hurt to his body, you should ask him to be so good as to hasten to us at our parliament'. [10] It was as though Robert was the earl's deputy and spokesman, and sometime between 1319 and early 1322, Robert and Earl Thomas sent virtually identical letters to Edward II regarding the manor of Farnley in Yorkshire (the only real difference I can see between the two letters is that Robert's opening salutation to Edward was far more deferential). [11] Sometime before 13 May 1306, Robert Holland married Maud la Zouche, co-heir to her father Alan (d. 1314) with her older sister Ellen or Elena. [12] Maud brought Robert a good few manors in several counties in the Midlands and south of England, and it's surely reasonable to assume that Thomas of Lancaster had something to do with arranging such a favourable marriage for his most trusted adherent and associate. 

During the Contrariant rebellion of 1321/22, however, Robert abandoned Thomas of Lancaster, and on 4 March 1322 was ordered to 'come to the king with all speed with horses and arms, in order to set out with the king against his contrariants'. On the same day, Edward II granted Robert a safe-conduct for 'coming to the king by his command and about to go against the contrariants'. Robert Holland's switching sides was surely connected to the fact that one of his and Maud la Zouche's daughters, unnamed, had been taken into captivity in the Tower of London on 26 February 1322, along with Aline de Braose and John Mowbray (b. 1310), wife and son of John, Lord Mowbray (b. 1286): '...conducting by the king's command to the Tower of London Aline, the wife of John de Moubray, and the son of the said John, also the daughter of Robert de Holand...'. [13] According to the very pro-Lancastrian author of the Brut chronicle, when Thomas of Lancaster heard about Robert's defection, he groaned 'how might Robert Holonde fynde in his hert me to bitraye, sithens that y have lovede him so miche?' Thomas supposedly went on to say that he had 'made [Robert] hie fram lowe', i.e. high from low. [14]

Despite his taking armed men to the king, on 12 March 1322 Edward had all of Robert's goods and his lands in Lancashire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Yorkshire, Northumberland, Shropshire and Staffordshire taken into his own hands. Robert also owned 'houses called the houses of Viene in the city of London' which were confiscated, and were possibly the same dwellings which in 1325 were called the 'king's houses in the parish of St Nicholas in the Shambles of London, sometime of Robert de Holand'. On 23 June 1322, Edward stated that Robert was 'charged with being an adherent of Thomas, sometime earl of Lancaster' - Thomas had been executed at his own castle of Pontefract in Yorkshire three months earlier, on 22 March - and had 'surrendered to the king's will'. [15] After Robert's and Thomas of Lancaster's downfall, one William de Leveseye petitioned the king, stating that the earl and Robert ('Sire Rob't de Holande') had imprisoned him in Pontefract Castle in Yorkshire for over a year 'because he was in the company of Sir...', then the petition is sadly torn and the name is missing. [16] 

During the Contrariant rebellion, Robert had sacked several Leicestershire towns including Loughborough which belonged to Hugh Despenser the Elder, in the company of, among others, William Trussell, who in October and November 1326 would pronounce the death sentence on both Hugh Despensers. According to a petition, Robert and his associates chased the 'poor people' of Loughborough out of their homes and they did not dare to return for three months. On 1 October 1323, Edward II ordered the sheriff of Leicestershire not to outlaw Robert for his failure to appear in court to answer for the sacking of Loughborough, because he was in prison at the king's order and was therefore unable to attend. [17] Robert was originally imprisoned in Warwick Castle in 1322, and on 23 July 1326 was moved from there to Northampton Castle. A few months later, early in Edward III's reign, he was pardoned for escaping from prison in Northampton 'when confined there by the late king's order', though his lands were then still officially in the king's hands, and on 12 June 1327 his manors in Yorkshire were given into the custody of one Thomas Deyvill. While he was imprisoned in Warwick Castle, shortly after 4 November 1325, royal officials questioned Robert regarding the assignment of dower to his brother William's widow Joan. [18] The date of Robert's escape from Northampton Castle was not recorded, though the window of opportunity for him to do so was only quite small given that he was moved there after 23 July 1326 and that Queen Isabella and her invasion force, who freed the imprisoned Contrariants, arrived in England on 24 September 1326.

Isabella officially pardoned Robert Holland and restored him to his lands and goods on 24 December 1327, a few days after the deposed Edward II's funeral. The queen ignored the protestations of her uncle Henry of Lancaster, earl of Lancaster and Leicester, Thomas of Lancaster's brother and heir, supposedly because she loved Robert 'wonder miche'. [19] Both Henry himself and a number of his adherents were furious at what they saw as Robert's betrayal of Earl Thomas, the man who had given him so much. As I've pointed out in my previous post about Robert's murder, linked in the first paragraph above, on 15 October 1328 he was waylaid in a wood in Essex by a group of loyal Lancastrian knights, and beheaded. On 20 October, the lands of 'Robert de Holand, deceased, tenant in chief' were taken into the king's hands. [20]

In my post about Robert Holland and Maud la Zouche's daughter Isabelle, also linked above, I listed their other children; they had at least four sons and five daughters. Their first son and heir was another Robert (d. 1373), who was said to be sixteen on 1 December 1328 and seventeen or 'seventeen and more' in early January 1329, placing his date of birth around 1311/12 (sadly, there is no extant proof of age confirming the exact date). [21] Their second son Thomas, whose name probably indicates that Thomas, earl of Lancaster, was his godfather, raised the Holland family high when he married Edward I's granddaughter Joan of Kent, later countess of Kent and Lady Wake in her own right (though when Thomas married her, her younger brother John, earl of Kent, was still alive). Thomas Holland died in late December 1360, and a few months later his widow married Edward III's eldest son the prince of Wales and became the mother of Richard II in January 1367. Thomas Holland's children were, therefore, the older half-siblings of the king of England. Robert Holland's grandson John Holland (c. 1353-1400) married Edward III's granddaughter Elizabeth of Lancaster and was later made earl of Huntingdon and duke of Exeter by Richard II, while John's older brother Thomas Holland (1350/51-1397), earl of Kent, married the earl of Arundel's daughter Alice and their children included the duchesses of York and Clarence and the countesses of March and Salisbury. In just a couple of generations, the Holland family rose from comparative obscurity in the north to become one of the foremost families in the land.


1) J.R. Maddicott, 'Thomas of Lancaster and Sir Robert Holland: A Study in Noble Patronage', English Historical Review, 86 (1971), p. 450.

2) Complete Peerage, vol. 6, pp. 528-31; Maddicott, 'Thomas of Lancaster and Sir Robert Holland', pp. 450-51CCR 1318-23, pp. 210, 571; CFR 1319-27, p. 168; Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous 1308-48, no. 735; Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1317-27, nos. 497, 567, 707; A History of the County of Lancaster, vol. 3, pp. 394-5; Final Concords for Lancashire, part 2, 1307-1377, no. 127.

3) Maddicott, 'Thomas of Lancaster and Sir Robert Holland', p. 450.

4) CCR 1296-1302, p. 401; CPR 1301-7, p. 191.

5) CCR 1296-1302, p. 365.

6) CPR 1313-17, p. 441; Maddicott, 'Thomas of Lancaster and Sir Robert Holland', p. 462.

7) CFR 1307-19, pp. 2, 5, 10; CPR 1307-13, pp. 38, 411, 427.

8) Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica, ed. F. Madden, B. Bandinel and J.G. Nichols, vol. 4, p. 67.

9) CPR 1307-13, pp. 411-12, 427; CCR 1307-13, p. 396.

10) Cited in G.O. Sayles, The Functions of the Medieval Parliament of England, vol. 1, p. 302; The National Archives SC 1/45/221.

11) TNA SC 8/234/11687 and 11689.

12) Feet of Fines, Berkshire, CP 25/1/9/38, no. 10, dated 13 May 1306, talks of 'Robert de Holond and Maud his wife' when the manor of Denford was given to them with remainder to Maud's father Alan la Zouche.

13) CCR 1318-23, p. 525; CPR 1321-24, pp. 75, 77.

14) The Brut or the Chronicles of England, ed. F.W.D. Brie, part 1, pp. 216-17.

15) CFR 1319-27, p. 109; CPR 1321-24, pp. 137, 337; CPR 1324-27, p. 158.

16) The National Archives SC 8/58/2872.

17) CPR 1321-24, pp. 167, 309, 387; CCR 1323-27, p. 24.

18) CCR 1323-27, p. 592; CPR 1327-30, p. 17; CFR 1327-27, p. 46; CIPM 1317-27, no. 707.

19) TNA SC 8/57/2806; SC 8/57/2807A and 2807B; Brut, ed. Brie, p. 257.

20) CFR 1327-37, p. 105.

21) CCR 1327-30, pp. 348, 491; CIPM 1327-36, no. 156; CIPM 1347-52, no. 199.