26 May, 2015

Yolande de Dreux, Queen of Scotland, Duchess of Brittany and Countess of Montfort (c. 1263-1322)

A post today about a French noblewoman whose father was the the count of Dreux, who succeeded her mother as countess of Montfort in her own right, and who was both queen of Scotland and duchess of Brittany by marriage.  She married firstly the widower of Edward I's sister Margaret, and secondly the son of Edward I's other sister Beatrice.  (My eye has improved enough so that I've been able to write a blog post! Woooo!)

Yolande (or Joleta or Violante or Violette) de Dreux was born in about 1263, or perhaps as late as 1267, as the daughter of Robert IV. count of Dreux (d. 1282) and Beatrice de Montfort, countess of Montfort l'Amaury in her own right and great-niece of the famous Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, killed at the battle of Evesham in 1265.  (Just to clarify, Earl Simon was the younger brother of Yolande de Dreux's great-grandfather Amaury de Montfort.)  Yolande was one of five children, four girls and a boy; her brother was named Jean or John, and her sisters were Marie, Jeanne or Joan and Beatrice, an abbess.  John succeeded their father Robert as count of Dreux, and passed the title on to his only surviving child, a daughter Joan; he was also the great chamberlain of France, and died in 1309.  Yolande's mother Beatrice de Montfort, countess of Montfort, died in 1311 or 1312, and because her brother John was already dead and she was Beatrice's eldest surviving daughter, Yolande succeeded her as countess in her own right.  Yolande de Dreux was a first cousin of Margaret Fiennes, mother of Roger Mortimer, first earl of March, and Joan Fiennes, mother of Margaret Wake, countess of Kent; Yolande and the Fiennes sisters were all granddaughters of  Jeanne de Châteaudun, lady of  Château-du-Loir.

Yolande de Dreux married comparatively late, when she was in her late teens or early twenties: on 14 October 1285 at Jedburgh Abbey, she married Alexander III, king of Scotland, the widower of Edward I's sister Margaret of England and then aged forty-four.  The match had probably been arranged with the aid of Alexander's mother Marie de Coucy, also a French noblewoman who died this year.  Queen Marie's second marriage, after her first husband Alexander II of Scotland died in 1249, was to John de Brienne, son of the titular emperor of Constantinople and the king of Jerusalem, and a first cousin of Edward I's queen Eleanor of Castile; John de Brienne had previously been married to Jeanne de Châteaudun, Yolande de Dreux's maternal grandmother from Jeanne's first marriage to John de Montfort.  (Which, if I've worked this out correctly, means that John de Brienne was both the stepfather of Alexander III and the step-grandfather of Alexander's second wife Yolande de Dreux.  John and Jeanne de Châteaudun were also great-grandparents of Roger Mortimer, first earl of March.)  Alexander III's three children Alexander, David and Margaret of Scotland, queen of Norway, were all dead by 1285, and his only heir was his two-year-old granddaughter Margaret 'the Maid of Norway'.  He desperately needed a son, but it was not to be: only five months after his wedding to Yolande, on 19 March 1286, Alexander III rode his horse off a cliff during a storm and was found the next morning with a broken neck.  It is possible, though not certain, that Queen Yolande was pregnant with Alexander's child; it wasn't until some months later that the Guardians of Scotland acknowledged the little Margaret of Norway as the late king's heir, and it may be that Yolande had suffered a miscarriage or even a phantom pregnancy.  Had she given birth to a boy, he would have become king of Scotland immediately on birth, but sadly, Yolande de Dreux was not destined to be the mother of a king.  Had she given birth to a girl, that leads to an interesting 'what if?' scenario - presumably Alexander III's posthumous daughter would have taken precedence over his granddaughter Margaret of Norway, and become queen of Scotland, even though the granddaughter was some years older?  Not totally sure.

Queen Yolande remained a widow for some years, and in 1292 or 1294 married Arthur, the future Duke Arthur II of Brittany, born in 1262 as the eldest son of Duke John II and Beatrice (d. 1275), one of the two sisters of Edward I and thus also the sister of Alexander III of Scotland's first wife Queen Margaret.  Arthur had previously been married to Marie, viscountess of Limoges (d. 1291), with whom he had his son and heir John III, born in 1286, and a younger son Guy.  Arthur attended Edward II - his first cousin, both of them being grandsons of Henry III - and Isabella of France's coronation at Westminster on 25 February 1308, having succeeded his father as duke of Brittany in 1305 when the unfortunate John II died in the strangest freak accident of the era: a wall fell on him as he led the new pope Clement V's horse around Avignon.  Yolande de Dreux, having been queen-consort of Scotland for a mere five months, was duchess of Brittany for seven years: Duke Arthur II died on 27 August 1312, just past his fiftieth birthday, to be succeeded by his son John III, Yolande's stepson.  In the same year as her husband's death, Yolande's mother died, and she succeeded as countess of Montfort.  Arthur and Yolande had half a dozen children: one son John, born in about 1295, and daughters Beatrice, Jeanne, Alix, Blanche and Marie.  John, who inherited his mother and grandmother's county of Montfort, is often known as John de Montfort to distinguish him from his older half-brother Duke John III.

John III was married three times, to Charles de Valois's eldest daughter Isabella, to King Sancho IV of Castile's eldest daughter Isabel, and to Joan, countess of Savoy, but left no children on his death in 1341.  His half-brother, Yolande's son John de Montfort, would reasonably have expected to inherit the duchy, but John III had disliked him, and favoured the succession of his niece Jeanne de Penthièvre, only child of his full brother Guy (d. 1331) and married to Charles of Blois, nephew of Philip VI of France.  This led to the War of the Breton Succession, and the involvement of Edward III of England.  John de Montfort, Yolande's son, was the father of Duke John IV of Brittany (d. 1399), who was briefly married to Edward III's daughter Margaret and whose third wife the decades-younger Joan of Navarre later married Henry IV of England as his second wife.

Yolande de Dreux, dowager queen of Scotland, dowager duchess of Brittany, and countess of Montfort, died on 2 August 1322, probably in her late fifties.  On 30 October 1323, an entry on the Patent Roll in England records a "[s]afe-conduct until Christmas for Theobald de Denysi, knight of France, going to Scotland for the dower of the duchess of Brittany for the time that she was queen of Scotland, and to treat of the deliverance of John de Brytannia, earl of Richmond, a captive of the Scots." (Calendar of Patent Rolls 1321-4, p. 347)  John of Brittany, earl of Richmond, was Edward II's first cousin and Yolande de Dreux's brother-in-law, being the younger brother of Duke Arthur II, and had been captured by Robert Bruce at the battle of Byland on 14 October 1322.  Yolande was already dead, so I'm not sure why the Scottish dower to which she was entitled from her brief marriage to Alexander III was being sought at this time.  It was due to her for her lifetime only and her entitlement to it didn't pass to her son and heir John de Montfort, unless John was claiming back-payments on it from during Yolande's lifetime from Robert Bruce.

22 May, 2015

Bartholomew Badlesmere (d. 1322) and Margaret de Clare (d. 1333)

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to write a post again this week owing to the intense pain and discomfort I'm having with my right eye; having suffered a corneal erosion a few weeks ago, the wound opened up again last week and became infected.  Which is every bit as horrible and revolting as it sounds.  It's slowly improving, thank goodness, and is less painful now, but will take a while yet to heal properly.  This is what I'd finished so far of a post about Bartholomew, Lord Badlesmere, who was given the traitor's death by Edward II in April 1322 after he joined the Contrariant rebellion against the king.  Badlesmere had been Edward's household steward, but switched sides, and Edward loathed him for it.  I'd written some of a post about his children, but that part will have to wait a while, I'm afraid!  So here's part one.

Bartholomew, Lord Badlesmere (c. 1275 - 14 April 1322) was a baron of Kent, the son and heir of Guncelin Badlesmere, and the maternal uncle of Henry Burghersh, bishop of Lincoln.  Sometime between about 1303 and 1308, Bartholomew married Margaret de Clare (1270s - 1333), niece of Gilbert 'the Red' de Clare, earl of Gloucester (1243-1295) and widow of Gilbert de Umfraville, earl of Angus.  Margaret was the first cousin of Edward II's niece the much more famous Margaret de Clare, daughter of Gilbert 'the Red' and countess of Cornwall and Gloucester, who married Piers Gaveston and Hugh Audley.  Margaret (de Clare) Badlesmere's younger sister Maud married Robert, Lord Clifford, who was killed at Bannockburn on 24 June 1314 along with their first cousin Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester.  Margaret Badlesmere and Maud Clifford became heirs to their father Thomas de Clare, lord of Thomond (d. 1287), when their two brothers Gilbert and Richard and their young nephew Thomas died.  Bartholomew Badlesmere served in the retinue of his wife's first cousin the earl of Gloucester, and was said - whether accurately or not, I don't know - to have abandoned him to his death at the battle of Bannockburn on 24 June 1314.  A song written in Latin shortly after the battle accuses Badlesmere, condemned as "the traitorous man, Bartholomew" and "the representative of Judas," of deserting his lord Gloucester, and says "Because he refused to come to his master’s support, this traitor has deserved to be put to the rack."  (T. Wright, ed., The Political Songs of England (Camden Society, 1839), p. 263)

Bartholomew Badlesmere and Margaret de Clare had a son, Giles Badlesmere, and four daughters, Margery, Elizabeth, Maud and Margaret, two of whom married earls and one of whom was the grandmother of Richard II's notorious favourite Robert de Vere, earl of Oxford.  Bartholomew was high in Edward II’s favour: the king made him constable of Bristol Castle, gave him Leeds Castle in Kent, and in 1318 appointed him his household steward.  In 1321, Bartholomew changed sides and joined the Contrariant rebellion against the king.  A furious Edward sentenced him to the full traitor's death after the rebellion failed, and the king's good friend Donald, earl of Mar (Robert Bruce's nephew) captured Bartholomew at one of his nephew the bishop of Lincoln's manors and took him to Edward.  On 14 April 1322, Bartholomew was dragged three miles to the crossroads at Blean, hanged and then beheaded, and his head set on a spike over the gate into Canterbury; the only Contrariant in 1322 to suffer the full horrors of the traitor's death.  His widow Margaret was imprisoned for a few months in the Tower, released on 3 November 1322 and given two shillings a day by Edward II for her sustenance.  She died in 1333.

Bartholomew and Margaret's only son Giles Badlesmere was born either in 1313 or 1314 and thus was about eight years old when his father was executed; various dates of birth and ages for him are given in his father's belated Inquisition Post Mortem of 1328/29.  (Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1327-36, pp. 89-97).  Giles married Elizabeth Montacute or Montagu, daughter of William Montacute, earl of Salisbury (1301-1344) and Katherine Grandisson, but died childless on 7 June 1338, aged about twenty-four (CIPM 1336-46, p. 127).  William and Katherine Montacute only married in about 1327 and their son William, earl of Salisbury (d. 1397) was born in June 1328, so Elizabeth can hardly have been more than about nine years old when she was widowed from Giles.  She married secondly Hugh (Huchon), Lord Despenser, eldest son and heir of Hugh Despenser the Younger and Margaret Badlesmere's first cousin Eleanor de Clare, and thirdly Sr Guy Bryan.  She died between 30 May and 1 June 1359 (CIPM 1352-60, p. 414 on) and her tomb in Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire, next to her second husband Hugh, can still be seen.

Giles' four sisters were his joint heirs.  Judging by the evidence of his 1338 IPM, Margery was certainly the eldest daughter and Margaret the youngest, but it is not clear whether Maud or Elizabeth was the second eldest; jurors in some counties said that Maud was older than Elizabeth, others that Elizabeth was the elder.  Some of the Kent jurors badly messed up the names of the four women and the names of their husbands, which I find rather odd as the Badlesmeres' major landholdings lay in that county, so you'd think the jurors there might have had more reliable information (and they even got the first name of the earl of Oxford wrong - how careless!).  Margery certainly, and most probably both Maud and Elizabeth as well, were older than their brother Giles, and Margaret was younger than he.  Their estimated dates of birth below come from their ages given in Giles' IPM (CIPM 1336-46, p. 127 on).

More info about the four Badlesmere sisters coming when I can manage it!

15 May, 2015

Pics

Oh dear, I'm really not having a lot of luck with my health this year. For the second time in a few weeks I'm suffering from corneal erosion, which is just as painful and horrible as it sounds. I'm typing this with the affected eye closed and sitting in the dark as the eye is so sensitive to light. No chance at all to research and write a proper post, I'm afraid, so here are some pics to be going on with till I've recovered (very soon, I hope). All pics were taken by me.

Ruins of Knaresborough Castle, North Yorkshire, formerly Piers Gaveston's.









Ludlow Castle, Shropshire, formerly Roger Mortimer's.












Caernarfon Castle, North Wales, birthplace of You Know Who.











07 May, 2015

Isabella of France: Guest Post by Kyra Kramer

Today I'm delighted to welcome to the blog the excellent historical writer Kyra Kramer, who's sharing with us some of her thoughts on Isabella of France in popular culture.  Over to you, Kyra!

*

Isabella of France: She-Wolf or Lady of Shalott?

There are many myths about Edward II that live large in popular culture, and one of the most frequently asserted is that his queen, Isabella of France, hated him and plotted his death with the aid of her lover, Roger Mortimer. Such has been the vitriol aimed at Edward that the queen has been largely forgiven for deposing him. However, her act of maintaining power after Edward’s disappearance and her alliance (presumed sexual) with Roger Mortimer also earned Isabella a share of sociocultural condemnation and the eventual moniker “She-Wolf of France”.

Isabella is one of the more famous queens of England, yet like most of the women whom history remembers vividly, she is better known for her transgressions than her accomplishments. One reason for that is – as Laurel Thatcher Ulrich said – well behaved women seldom make history.  Well behaved women have traditionally been the ones who didn’t usurp men’s authority and who didn’t have any unsanctioned sexuality. Isabella, in contrast, was naughty; she overthrew her husband and is believed to have taken a lover to help her solidify power.

What is most interesting about Isabella to me is her nearly unique position balancing between support and slut-shaming in the cultural narrative. On one hand, the fear of Edward’s presumed homosexual attachments (and the attending derision heaped upon him courtesy of homophobia) have made Isabella a sympathetic figure. On the other hand, she is condemned as a heartless vamp for allowing Edward II to be murdered in such a foul manner (although evidence suggests he wasn’t murdered at all) and for abetting her lover in his power-grab over her son Edward III.

This dual-narrative means that there is a strong dichotomy between how Isabella is portrayed in history and historical fiction.

Early modern historians and authors disliked Isabella because instead of being the ideal long-suffering wife, she turned on her husband. Her motivations for rebellion were (subtly or overtly) given sexual overtones. The subtext of these depictions is that Isabella’s vexation was the result of Edward’s failures in the bedroom. She was typically sneered at as a cheap and hateful French tart who grabbed power from her husband and teenage son, then squandered it so she could be with the man who rattled her teeth in the way Edward couldn’t. In some accounts it is her lust for Mortimer inspires her usurpation of the throne and she thereafter acts as a kind of dim puppet for her paramour’s ambition. Even the insult “she-wolf” had sexually voracious connotations. A she-wolf (lupa) was the term the Romans used for a female prostitute and Latin slang was the bedrock of European languages and nomenclature.

This sexualization of Isabella was part of a larger pattern. Uncontrollable women who became powerful in their own right and flouted past or present cultural assertions about gendered traits, have usually been configured as sexually deviant and ‘slutty’. Strong queens expose the idea that women are inherently meek and sexually passive as the malarkey it is. Thus women like Isabella were seen as threats to social order and have been slut-shamed (accused of sexual impropriety to denote their status as ‘bad’ women) in order to make them appear to be gender anomalies. Women cannot be as powerful as men unless they are troublesome strumpets and freaks of nature.

In the last few decades, historians and writers frequently began reconfiguring Isabella (even in books that are labeled non-fiction) sympathetically as a wronged and abused wife who turned against Edward II because of his inept kingship and incessant cruelties. The king and his favorites are the clear and distinctive villains of the piece, driving Isabella to desperate measures with their immoral and heartless conduct. In this narrative, it is therefore understandable that she should fall in love with another man. Her presumed affair with Roger Mortimer is not based on mere sexual desire; it is a result of her love for this ultra-masculine and kind counterpoint to her effeminate and vicious husband. To this effect, Isabella emerges as a kind of Lady of Shallot, risking her doom in the hopes of uniting with Lancelot, and her romance with Mortimer is given the Romeo and Juliette veneer of star-crossed lovers. The reality of her love letters to the king and her seething anger toward his favorites for taking away Edward’s attention and affection are usually ignored in favor of the neglected-wife-seeks-real-love scenario.

However, the reimagined Isabella as non-slut is problematic in the same way slutty Isabella is; either depiction is still a manifestation of present beliefs about how each gender should behave overlaid on a historical figure to demonstrate ‘correct’ feminine behavior. Bad Isabella wanted to have sex and power; Good Isabella wants love and only overthrows her husband so she can be happy with Mortimer. Women don’t usurp thrones because they are angry or power-hungry! Women usurp thrones because their feelings are hurt and they want to be with the man they love! That’s why the retelling of the erroneous ‘facts’ that Edward let one of his favorites wear her wedding jewelry and that she was buried with Mortimer’s heart have such staying power; only true love and an evil husband can excuse a woman of adultery and overthrowing a king.

In truth, Edward was not cruel to Isabella and there is strong evidence she loved him. There is no evidence of a ‘great love affair’ between Isabella and Mortimer. Isabella was a fertile woman in her mid-30s when she was theoretically sleeping with Mortimer (who had 13 children with his wife), but she was never became pregnant (except in rumors) during the time of their supposed lovemaking. Were they physically intimate? Or were they just good allies? Or allies with benefits? No one knows for sure. Nonetheless, the excuse for Good Isabella’s bad actions are always situated in a passionate attachment to Mortimer.

What irks me the most is that in both the story of the Bad Isabella and the Good Isabella, she is falsely said to have been crushed by her cannier and stronger son and then driven insane by the punishments he inflicted and/or because he killed Mortimer. Either way, Isabella isn’t just pushed aside by her son – whom she had made sure was crowned king as soon as her husband was deposed – she suffers implied karmic retribution for being a women who dared enter into a power struggle. If she hadn’t been either 1) sexual or 2) in the sexual thrall of a man then she would have stayed safely ‘in her place’ and not been broken on the wheel of fortune. This is, of course, hogwash. When Edward III took over the responsibilities of the crown and executed Mortimer, the queen was given a fat living stipend and spent the rest of her life traveling among the various castles and manors her son gave her. She also visited her son and his wife reasonably often for the time period. The only consequence of the coup against Edward II that Isabella ever suffered was a long, full life with lots of jewelry.

Historical veracity is an explanation in and of itself, but does it really matter how Isabella is characterized in historical fiction? Yes, actually it does. Gender ideology, the understanding of the way men and women are supposed to act according to their biological sex, is significantly defined by both official history and historical narrative. Historical representation matters because history is a lens through which people view the world. The images of Isabella, either as a scheming harlot or as a desperate housewife, elide the truth and obscure historical fact in favor of reinforcing of gender ideology. The narratives of her life send several messages; that bad women are easily-manipulated sluts who get what they deserve when they try to keep power away from their heterosexual sons; good women are driven by their emotions and incapable of rational decisions if it means their lover would be denied something; women are axiomatically unable to hold the reigns of power if a man (in this case the teenage Edward III) is man enough to take it away from them; men who are suspected of loving other men are de facto weak and easily overpowered by recalcitrant women; heteronormative sexual behavior will save your life and crown. None of these messages, however, reflect the historical reality.

The only sociocultural messages we can really glean from Isabella’s life are that people are complex admixture of good and bad qualities, that privilege has its pleasures and its price, and that being the daughter, wife, and mother of a king will usually work out for you in the end. Those messages, however, aren’t nearly as dramatic or interesting as the idea of a she-wolf or an ill-fated beauty.

*

Thanks so much, Kyra!  On this topic, don't miss Kyra's great new book The Jezebel Effect: Why the Slut Shaming of Famous Queens Still Matters, and there's also her last one Blood Will Tell: A Medical Explanation of the Tyranny of Henry VIII.  Her website was linked above, and here's her blog too.

01 May, 2015

Proofs Of Age (4), Or, I Know How Old You Are Because On That Day My Rivals Injured My Head

See here, here and here for my previous posts on this subject, which is one dear to my heart.  These are from Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1327-1336 and Ibid. 1336-1346.  There are all kinds of snippets of great information about life in England in the early fourteenth century.

1) Middlesex, 15 July 1333: Proof of age of Edmund, son and heir of John de Benstede.

William le Rous, aged 60 years and more, says that the said Edmund is 21 years of age, for he was born at Rosamunde on the feasts of SS Processus and Martinianus, viz., 2 July 5 Edward II [1312] and baptised in the church of St Margaret's, Westminster, which he knows because on that day he was present in the said church, and saw the chaplain baptising the said heir and noting the day of his birth in the missal of the said church.

Roger de Presthope, aged 50 years and more, says the like, and knows it because in May of that year he was injured in the head and right arm at the stone cross of Cherryngge [Charing] by certain of his rivals, almost to death, of which trespass he impleaded the said rivals in the King's Bench.

Nicholas de Beek, aged 50 years and more, says the like, and knows it because at the same time he was one of the household of Sir Louis of France [Philip IV's half-brother the count of Evreux, died 1319] and was sent into England to make provision against the coming of the said Sir Louis to Westminster, who was coming to England and remaining there until the birth of the present king [Edward III], who was born on the feast of St Brice the bishop [13 November 1312] then next coming.

Thomas le Barber, aged 44 years and more, agrees, and knows it because he was then with the Lady Mary, sister of King Edward II, at Ambresbury [Amesbury Priory, Wiltshire], and was sent thence by her to the said John de Benstede, father of the heir, to the said place of Rosamund, and he came there the second day of the birth of the heir, and immediately returned to the said Lady Mary, informing her of the birth of the said heir, for which message she bestowed on him 30 shillings, with which he put himself into the trade of barber the following year.

2) Kent, 3 August 1329: Proof of age of John, son and heir of Nicholas Kyriel.  Nicholas was one of the admirals of Edward II's fleet in 1325/26.

Richard Kyriel, aged 60 years, says that the said John was 21 years of age on Monday after the feast of St Michael last and was born at Walmere [Walmer] on that feast, 1 Edward II [29 September 1307], and was baptised the same day in the church there, which he knows because he was then present.

Ralph le Brewere, aged 62 years, says the like, and knows it because he brought the news to the said Nicholas Kyriel of the birth of the said John his son, for which the said Nicholas gave him a robe in two parts, with four ornaments.

Simon Lot, aged 54 years, says the like, and knows it because on Monday after All Saints next after the said John's birth, his ship was sunk in the sea.

Alexander de Oxeneye, aged 59 years and more, says the like, and knows it because on Sunday after the said John's birth he was sent to Ipre to buy whole cloths for the robes of the said Nicholas and Roesia his wife, mother of the said John, against the purification of the said Roesia.

Alexander de Bernefelde, aged 65 years and more, says the like, and knows it because at the feast of St Michael before the said John's birth, Robert de Kendal, then constable of the castle of Dover, committed to the said Alexander the office of porter at the outer gate of the said castle.

3) Derby, 22 December 1328: Proof of age of Richard Heriz son of Richard Heriz

John de Brokestowe, aged 50 years and more, says that on the morrow of St Leonard, 1 Edward II [7 November 1307], the said Richard was born at Stapelford, co. Derby [Stapleford on the border of Derbys and Notts], in the manor-house of the said town, in the large stone chamber by the hall, and was baptised in St Helen's church there [here!]...and this he knows because King Edward II was crowned at Westminster on Sunday next after the Purification next before the aforesaid feast of St Leonard*.

Geoffrey de Bronnesle, aged 48 years, says the like, and knows it because, on Sunday next after the Purification, 1 Edward II, the said king married Isabella, queen of England, at Westminster; and he [Edward II not Geoffrey, presumably] spent the night before the celebration of the said nuptials at the Tower of London*.

John de Strelle, aged 60 years, agrees, and knows it because at that time he was bailiff with Robert de Strelleye, knight, of the manor of Schippele, co. Derby, and on Thursday next before St Edmund, the king and martyr, 1 Edward II [16 November 1307], there came robbers by night to the said manor, and made assault, and, whilst he was defending the manor, one of the robbers struck him through the arm with an arrow.

John Gervase of Chylewelle, aged 40 years, agrees, and knows it because, on the third day after the birth of the said Richard, Cecily his wife was engaged for the nourishment of the said Richard, and stayed for three days as his nurse, but the stay did not please her, for on the fourth day she withdrew from her service, and returned home to her husband.

* This information is a little garbled and inaccurate; Edward II and Isabella of France married at Boulogne on Thursday 25 January 1308, and were crowned king and queen of England at Westminster on Sunday 25 February, not the Sunday after the Purification (which is 2 February).

4) 19 May 1336, Essex: Proof of age of Edward de Wodeham, brother and heir of William de Wodeham.

Thomas Gobioun, knight, aged 60 years, says that the said Edward, who was born at Chigwell, co. Essex, was 21 years of age on Sunday next after St Luke last [22 October 1335]; and this he knows because on 15 November, 8 Edward II [1314], he received a commission as steward to Humphrey de Bohun, then earl of Hereford [Edward II's brother-in-law]; and by the date of the said commission, he well remembers the age of the said Edward.

John de Wytonville, aged 50 years and more, agrees, and knows it because he was at the house of the said Edward's mother on the day of his birth, and in going towards his own house fell among thieves, and was robbed and badly wounded.

John de Purlee, aged 44 years and more, agrees, and knows it because on the same day he was at the castle of Hadelehe [Hadleigh, Essex] with the father of the said Edward, when news came to him of the birth of the said Edward; and King Edward II, in the eighth year of his reign, lifted the said Edward from the sacred font, and the said John was present.*

John Ivot, aged 50 years, agrees, and knows it because on Monday in Whitsun next after the birth of the said Edward, he took his journey for Santiago, and made his will on the same day, which he still has in his possession, and by its date he well remembers the age of the said Edward.

* Edward II spent the period from 4 to 26 May 1315 at the castle of Hadleigh.

5) Durham, 12 April 1328: Proof of age of Robert de la Legh, brother and heir of John de la Legh.

John de Aleynscheles, aged 55 years and more, says that the said Robert was born 2 November, 34 Edward I [1306], at 'Le Pavylion' by Suthwermuth...

Walter de Ludewrth, aged 33 years, says as the said John; and this he knows because a certain Walter Man had a daughter born, named Alice, and took the said Walter [de Ludewrth] with him to the aforesaid church of Wermuth, and caused him, then aged nine years, to lift the said daughter from the sacred font, on the same 2nd of November, and then and there he saw the aftersaid Robert [de la Legh] baptised before the aforesaid Alice, whereby a long delay occurred, for which cause she wept, and he know by the age of the aforesaid Alice, who survives, that the aforesaid Robert has completed the age of 24 years, as they have often computed among themselves.

John de Herwrth, aged 50 years, says the like, and knows it because on the same 2nd of November his sister Iseult died, whose death is inserted in the calendar of the church of Suthwermuth, and because of the 2nd of November 24 years will have elapsed. He then saw the said Robert baptised with great solemnity, the priest sprinkling the holy water excessively in his face and in his eyes from the scared font, wherefore he was angry for a long time with the aforesaid priest; and therefore he well knows that the said Robert has completed the age of 24 years.

Adam de Elyngeham, aged 48 years, says the like, and knows it because William de Suthewik, his beloved neighbour, begged him to eat with him on the same 2nd of November, where he remained the whole of that day, and accompanied him to the same church of Suthwermuth, where he saw the same Robert baptised and lifted from the sacred font by Robert de Hilton and the said William de Suthewik, now 24 years ago.

Roger de Weston, aged 60 years, says the same, and knows it because on the Morrow of All Saints, 24 years ago, he set out for the fair of Derlington, and stayed the night at 'La Pavilon' aforesaid, where he found the mother of the said Robert lying in her bed on account of the birth of the said Robert; and at that time he had a certain bond of Peter de Morpath, a horse dealer, for 6 marks, for a horse sold to him there, and now, as appears by the date of the writing, 24 years have elapsed.

John de Midilton, aged 52 years, says that on the morrow of All Saints, the 2nd of November last, 34 years had elapsed since a certain John Makman was found slain in the field of Suthwermuth, at the inquest on whom he was present, and he has a copy of the same; on which day he was eating with John de la Leygh, brother of the aforesaid Robert, whose heir the aforesaid Robert is, in the house of the father and mother of the said John, and on the same day the said Robert was baptised, and he gave 18d to the same little brother of the said John lying in his cradle.

6) 12 July 1329, Essex: Proof of age of Alice the wife of John de Newentone and Joan the wife of Thomas de Rocheforde, daughters and heirs of Peter de Southcherche.

John Baldewyne, aged 58 years, says that Alice is 21 years of age and more, for she was born at Southcherche on 1 November, 32 Edward I [1304], and baptised in the church there, which he knows because he came to the said church to hear mass, and then saw her baptised.

Adam Sare, aged 44 years, says the same, and knows it because at the time of the birth of the said heir he was in a garden where he heard the cries and groans of the mother of the said heir labouring in childbirth.

John Coleman, aged 40 years, agrees, and knows it because he had a beloved daughter, Margaret, who died on the day of the said heir's birth.

John Berlaund, William Clement, Thomas de Lackedon, John du Gardyn, Robert de Potone, John Hughe and Alexander de Aldham agree, and know it because they were present at a feast when the birth of the said heir was announced.

Adam de Stapelforde, aged 54 years, says that the said Joan is 21 years of age and more, for she was born at Southcherche on 13 March, 1 Edward I [1308], and baptised in the church there, which he knows because at the time of the birth of the said heir he was her father's chamberlain.

William de Blaxhale, aged 52 years, says the like, which he knows because he had a beloved daughter, Isabel, who died on the second day after the birth of the said heir.

John de Wakeryngge, aged 49 years, says the like, which he knows because he announced the birth of the said heir to the father, who on that account gave him a fitting robe.

Walter Jacob, aged 44 years, says the like, which he knows because he gave to the said heir, lying in her cradle, a gold ring in which a precious stone was set, which he greatly valued.

John Brok, aged 43 years, says the like, which he knows because he had a beloved son, Philip, who died on the third day after the birth of the said heir.

25 April, 2015

Lots of Visitors, and Happy Birthday to Edward II

Unfortunately, owing to various health issues suffered lately by me and my loved ones, I haven't been able to write a proper post this weekend.  Hope to have one up sometime in the next few days.  Just wanted to share the excellent news that the Edward II blog is now getting just under 40,000 visitors a month, which is absolutely thrilling!  I remember years ago being elated when I reached an average of 100 visitors a day, and now I'm at twelve or thirteen times as many.  THANK YOU, all of you, whether you're a regular reader or are here for the first time, for visiting and reading and for your support!

My book Edward II: The Unconventional King is still selling well, and will be available in paperback from January 2016.  Thank you if you've bought it, and I do hope you enjoyed it!  Even if you didn't, your feedback is still entirely welcome.  My second book, working title Isabella of France: The Rebel Queen, is well underway - I'm up to the battle of Boroughbridge and Thomas of Lancaster's execution now - and should also be out next year.  More info as and when.

And finally, today is 25 April and the feast day of St Mark the Evangelist, and the most important day in the year for me: Edward II's birthday!  731 years ago today, he was born to forty-two-year-old Eleanor of Castile in Caernarfon, North Wales.  Happy Birthday, my lord king!

17 April, 2015

Edward II and Minstrels (2)

I wrote a post a few years ago called Edward II and Minstrels, and am adding more here on the subject, as it's fascinating.  I highly recommend Constance Bullock-Davies' two books: Menestrellorum Multitudo: Minstrels at a Royal Feast (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1978) and A Register of Royal and Baronial Domestic Minstrels 1272-1327 (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1986).  There's also Richard Rastall's fantastic 'Secular Musicians in Late Medieval England' (Univ. of Manchester PhD thesis, 1968), which may still be available online somewhere (it certainly was a few years back).  All three are packed full of information and superb research, and are essential reading for anyone interested in the topic of music, performance and minstrels in the fourteenth century.

Oh, and see also my recent post, Edward II being vindictive to the minstrel Roi Bruant in and after 1322.

- One of the men who accompanied Edward II's twelve-year-old son Edward of Windsor to France on 12 September 1325, when he went to pay homage to his uncle Charles IV, was Jerome Vala, who played the citole (see illustration of one here).  Jerome was married to a woman called Annote, who's mentioned in Edward's last chamber account of 1325/26, given five shillings by the king for her expenses in travelling to see her husband before he sailed for France.  Jerome had returned to England by early January 1326, when Edward gave him half a mark for his expenses.  He had been Edward's minstrel since at least 1312; his name also appears on record as Jiron and the rather peculiar Yomi.

- Among the many minstrels who performed at the January 1297 wedding of Edward's fourteen-year-old sister Elizabeth and twelve-year-old Count John I of Holland were: two trumpeters; a vielle player called Thomelin de Tunly (see here for a vielle); Thomas the Fool; Jakettus de Scocia ('Jamie of Scotland'), a king of heralds; Guillot de Ros and Ricardin, two more vielle players; two men called King Page and Monhaut, kings of heralds; Martinet the taborer.  A tabor was a kind of drum.  In July 1306, two shillings was paid out of the household accounts of Edward of Caernarfon and Elizabeth's young half-brothers Thomas (just turned six) and Edmund (not quite five) for repairing Martinet's tabor, which the two little boys had broken.  :-)

- In May 1304, the aged Edward I paid three shillings to seven women in Scotland he met on the road, who "sang to him in the way in which they were wont to do in the time of Lord Alexander, late king of the Scots."  That means Alexander III (died 1286), Edward I's brother-in-law.

- In 1310/11, one of Edward II's harpers was called Willekyn Sey.

- Edward of Caernarfon, aged twenty-one, had five 'boy minstrels' in his household in 1305/06: Ricard le Rimour, Master Andrew, Janin the Scot, Francekin, and Roger de Forde.  On 21 December 1305, he gave them twelve pence each "for the making of their gowns against the feast of Christmas."

- The same year, a watchman of Windsor Castle named Richard the Watchman was paid twenty shillings to travel to Edward at Byfleet in Surrey to "make his minstrelsy before the same lord [Edward] and other nobles there in his entourage."  Hmmm, I wonder what kind of minstrelsy a watchman performed?  Clearly a man of many talents, Richard the Watchman roused Edward from his bed and helped him and his household to safety when a fire broke out at Windsor Castle in April 1306.

- Also that year, Edward of Caernarfon gave out the absurdly large sum of £1268, eighteen shillings and one pence "for gifts given by the lord prince [of Wales] to various minstrels," and for replacing horses which members of his household lost in his service in Scotland.  At a time when labourers earned one or one and a half pence a day and forty pounds a year qualified a man for knighthood.  Just wow.

- A harper named Robert de Clough received seven and a half pence a day for his wages in 1316/17, the same as the king's squires.  In 1310/11, Nicholas de Percy, a court trumpeter, received the same wages, and in 1313/14 Edward's singer William Milly (named 'Cantor Milly', meaning 'Singer Milly') was paid two shillings a day, the same wages as a knight earned,

- On 10 August 1307 at Dumfries in Scotland, just over a month after he had acceded to the throne, Edward II gave twenty shillings each to four minstrels who entertained him: William de Quenheth, Janin the Trumpeter, Januche the Nakerer and Janin the Organist.

- In June 1312, Edward gave a gift of twenty shillings to a married minstrel couple called Richard and Elena Pilke for entertaining his two young half-brothers Thomas and Edmund, and for "taking their leave to go to the lord king, who was in northern parts" (he and Isabella were then in Yorkshire).

- One of the many minstrels who performed at the great Feast of the Swan on 22 May 1306 was a harper called 'Adekin', real name Adam of Clitheroe.

- One of my favourite designations among the 22 May 1306 performers is "the minstrel with the bells," not otherwise identifiable.  Another was Reginald le Mentour, which means 'the Liar', perhaps in the sense of telling fabulous stories or tall tales.

- In Edward II's regnal year of 1316/17 and again in 1317/18, his king of heralds Robert Withstaff was ill; in 1317 he went to Edward at York "to get help" and received seventy shillings from him, and the following year received forty shillings and ten pence.  Evidently Robert recovered fully, as he entertained Edward and Isabella while they were in France in the summer of 1320 and was given the astonishingly large sum of twenty pounds.  Robert's mother was named Dulcia; she visited Edward II at Baldock in Hertfordshire in October 1317 and went away with a gift of ten shillings.

- A Jakemin de Mokenon received seven pounds, three shillings and one pence for playing before Edward and Isabella at St Richer, on their way to Paris, on 28 May 1313.

And finally, my favourite two anecdotes about Edward II and minstrels: on 7 July 1312, on his way from York to London after Piers Gaveston's death, Edward paid Janin the Conjuror a pound for performing tricks for him in his private chamber at Swineshead Priory, and a few weeks later gave three shillings to an Italian performer called John of Lombardy "for making his minstrelsy with snakes before the king" in Dover.

10 April, 2015

Marriage Negotiations between England and Aragon in Edward II's Reign

A post about the marriage negotiations between the kingdoms of England and Aragon in Edward II's reign, none of which resulted in any actual marriages.

Edward II was himself half-Castilian, and in the 1320s negotiated a future marriage between his elder daughter Eleanor of Woodstock (b. 1318) and his first cousin twice removed Alfonso XI (b. 1311, succeeded his father Fernando IV as a baby in 1312).  His elder son Edward of Windsor was also betrothed to Alfonso XI's sister Leonor.  These marriages, of course, did not go ahead; Edward of Windsor married Philippa of Hainault in January 1328 after his accession as Edward III, and Eleanor of Woodstock married the decades-older Count, later Duke, Reynald II of Guelders, in May 1332, the month before her fourteenth birthday.

Edward II also negotiated with another important Spanish king, Jaime or James II of Aragon, regarding possible future marriages between their families.  Jaime was born on 10 August 1267 (making him seventeen years Edward's senior) as the second son of Pedro III of Aragon and Constanza of Sicily.  His elder brother Alfonso III was betrothed for many years to Edward's eldest sister Eleanor (1269-1298) but died suddenly in June 1291 before the wedding could go ahead; Jaime succeeded him as king.  The same year, he married eight-year-old Isabel of Castile, eldest child of Sancho IV and Maria de Molina, but repudiated the marriage after Sancho's sudden death in 1295.  Alfonso III and Jaime's sister Elisabeth married Diniz, king of Portugal, and in 1625 was canonised as a saint of the Catholic Church.

Jaime II married secondly Blanche of Anjou, also sometimes called Blanche of Naples, one of the many children of Charles of Anjou, king of Naples, and Marie of Hungary; Blanche's brothers included Charles Martel, titular king of Hungary, Philip of Taranto, king of Albania, and Robert 'the Wise', king of Naples and titular king of Sicily and Jerusalem.  Jaime II and Blanche's eldest son Jaime was born in 1296 and became a monk in 1319, renouncing his right to the throne of Aragon and repudiating his new wife Leonor of Castile, who was later betrothed to Edward of Windsor and who ultimately married (as his second wife) the younger Jaime's younger brother Alfonso IV of Aragon, born in 1299 as the second son of Jaime II and Blanche of Anjou.

In the summer of 1320, Jaime II proposed his daughter Maria as a possible bride for Edward II's half-brother Thomas of Brotherton, earl of Norfolk.  Maria was probably about the same age as Thomas, who was born on 1 June 1300.  She was married firstly to Pedro of Castile, son of Sancho IV and Maria de Molina, younger brother of Fernando IV, first cousin once removed of Edward II, and brother of Isabel of Castile, who had been married as a child to Jaime II.  Pedro was killed at the battle of Vega de Granada in June 1319, along with his uncle Juan.  In August 1321, however, Jaime II told Edward II that Maria had decided to become a nun and that he did not think he would be able to change her mind.  (Which I find quite interesting, that he respected her wishes and did not try to force her to marry again.)  Thomas married instead, rather bizarrely, Alice Hales, daughter of the coroner of Norfolk.

In March 1321, Edward II wrote to Jaime: the latter had proposed another of his daughters, Violante, as a potential bride for Edward of Windsor.  Violante was born in October 1310 and was thus two years older than Edward of Windsor.  Again, nothing came of the negotiations, though Edward once again raised the possibility with Jaime in March and September 1324.  In February 1325, Jaime told him that the marriage alliance between his family and Edward’s was "not agreeable…in the manner and form under which it was proposed."  Edward explained that he was eager to make "an alliance of love" with Aragon, and sent two more envoys to negotiate any union "as shall seem suitable and opportune."  Jaime consented to a betrothal between Edward's younger daughter Joan of the Tower and his grandson Pedro, who was born in September 1319 and was less than two years Joan's senior (she was born in July 1321).  Pedro was the son of Jaime's second son and heir the future Alfonso IV and his first wife Teresa d'Entenca, and succeeded his father as Pedro IV, king of Aragon in 1336; he lived until 1387 and was known as El del Punyalet, 'He of the little Dagger'.  Because Edward II had heard that Jaime II "is old and decrepit and it is not certain that he is not dead" – in fact, Jaime lived until November 1327 – he corresponded instead with Jaime's son Alfonso, Pedro's father, regarding the possible marriage.  Pedro IV of Aragon ultimately married firstly Marie of Navarre, daughter of Isabella of France's niece Queen Joan II of Navarre (daughter of Louis X of France and his adulterous first wide Marguerite of Burgundy), though the mother of his two eldest sons and heirs was his second wife Eleanor or Leonor, daughter of Afonso IV of Portugal.

03 April, 2015

Review and Letter

Just a very quick post as it's almost Easter and I have visitors - in case you didn't see it, Professor Nicholas Vincent's review of my book Edward II: The Unconventional King appeared in BBC History Magazine a few weeks ago (it can be read here, on the second page).  Professor Vincent is very kind about my book, but claims that my account of Edward II's survival past 1327 is 'entirely speculative' and 'make-believe' (it really, really isn't).  Dr Ian Mortimer has written a letter also in BBC History Magazine, responding to the review.




27 March, 2015

Hugh, Lord Despenser (c. 1309-1349)

A post today about Hugh, Lord Despenser, the eldest son of Hugh Despenser the Younger and Eleanor de Clare, and grandson of Hugh Despenser the Elder, earl of Winchester.  As was the case with many noble families of the Middle Ages, the Despensers were none too creative when it came to naming their children; the chancery rolls of the 1320s, when all three generations of Hugh Despensers were active, contain a few confusing references to 'Hugh, son of Hugh le Despenser the son'.  Hrrrrrm.  Edward II's last chamber journal of 1325/26 refers to Hugh by the short form Huchon, and the Anonimalle chronicle calls him Hughelyn or 'little Hugh', both of which I think are absolutely delightful.  In this post, I'll call him Huchon to save any confusion with his father and grandfather, and because this seems to have been how he was known by his great-uncle Edward II.  I've also been known, along with Susan Higginbotham, to call him Hugh Despenser the Even Younger or HDEY for short.

Huchon's date of birth is unknown, but judging by the evidence of his mother's Inquisition Post Mortem took place sometime between 1308 and 1310.  He was the eldest great-grandchild of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile and the eldest great-nephew of Edward II, and was only two or three years younger than his great-aunt, Edward I's youngest child Eleanor, who was born in May 1306 (and who died in the late summer or early autumn of 1311).  Huchon's mother was Eleanor de Clare, Edward I's eldest granddaughter and second grandchild, born in October or November 1292 as the daughter of Gilbert 'the Red' de Clare, earl of Gloucester and Hertford (1243-1295) and the king's second daughter Joan of Acre (1272-1307).  Eleanor was between fifteen and seventeen when she gave birth to Huchon, depending on when exactly in 1308 or 1310 he was born, and Huchon's father Hugh Despenser the Younger was probably about twenty or twenty-one at the time; the couple had married in May 1306, when Eleanor was thirteen and a half, in the presence of her grandfather Edward I.  Huchon's lineage was prestigious: first great-grandchild of Edward I and grandchild of Gilbert 'the Red', the greatest English nobleman of the day, and in 1322 his other grandfather Hugh Despenser the Elder was made earl of Winchester.  On the Despenser side, Huchon was the great-grandson of both William Beauchamp, earl of Warwick (d. 1298) and of Aline Basset, countess of Norfolk (d. 1281).  His uncle Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester, was killed at Bannockburn in June 1314, leaving Huchon's mother Eleanor and aunts Margaret and Elizabeth as heirs to the great de Clare inheritance.  As the eldest child, Huchon was the heir of both his parents, and could look forward to receiving his mother's third of the de Clare lands and his paternal grandfather's Despenser lands.

Huchon was born a year or two into the reign of his great-uncle Edward II (Edward I didn't live quite long enough to see the birth of his first great-grandchild), and thus grew up in an England racked by civil war and the general turmoil of Edward's disastrous reign.  He was about five or six when the king lost the battle of Bannockburn and Huchon's uncle, the greatest nobleman in the realm after the earl of Lancaster, was killed; possibly this was one of Huchon's earliest and most abiding memories.  Throughout his childhood and adolescence, Huchon's mother regularly gave birth to his siblings: he had younger brothers Edward, Gilbert and John plus a baby boy who died in 1321, and younger sisters Isabella, Joan, Eleanor, Margaret and Elizabeth.  His first cousins included William Donn de Burgh, earl of Ulster, and Margaret Audley, countess of Stafford.  When he was about ten or so, in the late 1310s, his father Hugh became the 'favourite' and perhaps the lover of Huchon's great-uncle the king; the annals of Newenham Abbey in the 1320s refer to the two men as 'the king and his husband', rex et maritus eius.  I would give a great deal to know what that felt like for Huchon.  Bizarrely, Huchon's mother Eleanor de Clare was said by a Flemish chronicle also in the 1320s to have had an incestuous affair with her uncle Edward II and to have been imprisoned after her uncle and her husband's downfall in 1326 in case she might be pregnant by the king, and certainly my own research indicates that the two were remarkably close at the end of Edward's reign.  Whether or to what extent any of this is true is impossible to know for certain, but it may be that both of Huchon Despenser's parents were Edward II's lovers.  Can't have been boring to be a Despenser child, that's all I can say.

One of the earliest, or perhaps the earliest, refs to Huchon I know of comes on 21 July 1322, when he was at the beginning of his teens, and sent by his great-uncle the king to "diverse parts of the realm" (no fewer than twenty-three counties are named, as far apart as Dorset and Yorkshire) with huntsmen and dogs in order to "take fat venison of this season" in the royal forests and parks.  [Patent Rolls 1321-4, p. 184; Close Rolls 1318-23, p. 577.]  The nine men accompanying him are named on the Close Roll, and they had twelve greyhounds, thirty-four buck-hounds and eight harriers.  This sounds like it must have been a most enjoyable escapade for the boy, travelling all over the country to hunt.  Huchon appears on record again in May 1323, when Edward II signed a thirteen-year peace treaty with Robert Bruce, king of Scotland.  Bruce's associate Thomas Randolph, earl of Moray, travelled to England to negotiate the terms, and Edward sent several noblemen to Scotland as hostages, as it were, to assure Bruce of Moray's safe return.  They included Huchon, John, Lord Hastings (nephew and one of the co-heirs of Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke) and his three-year-old son Laurence, and the northern lords Henry Percy and Thomas Wake.  [Patent Rolls 1321-4, pp. 277-8; Calendar of Documents Relating to Scotland 1307-57, p. 150.]  All went well; Edward II and his advisers and Moray negotiated the treaty, Bruce ratified it a week later and sent the hostages back to England shortly afterwards, having promised to treat them honourably during their sojourn in his kingdom and to return them home in peace should the earl of Moray die a natural death while in England.  Huchon is also mentioned several times in his great-uncle the king's last chamber account of 1325/26: in December 1325 Edward II paid ten shillings for some material, including wool, linen and 'camoka' (a kind of silk, I think), to make clothes for him, and also bought him an aketon, which was a padded defensive jacket.  Around the same time, the king's armourer was paid for repairing the arms of Huchon le Despens' fuitz le fuitz, 'Huchon Despenser son of the son' (haha).

Huchon's world fell apart in 1326/27, when Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer invaded the realm.  His great-uncle the king was deposed and imprisoned.  His grandfather the earl of Winchester was executed, and mere weeks later his father Hugh Despenser the Younger also, and horribly.  His mother Eleanor de Clare was imprisoned.  Three of his five younger sisters were forcibly veiled as nuns, despite being mere children at the time (the two who escaped were fourteen-year-old Isabella, already married to the earl of Arundel's son, and Elizabeth, only a baby or still in utero).  Huchon himself remained at his father's great South Wales castle of Caerphilly (built in the 1270s by Huchon's maternal grandfather Gilbert 'the Red'), which his father and great-uncle had left in early November 1326, leaving numerous possessions and a great deal of money behind under Huchon's care.  They were captured on 16 November, and Hugh was executed eight days later.  At some point probably in November, Isabella and Roger Mortimer ordered Caerphilly to be besieged, offering free pardons on several occasions to the garrison inside and promising that their lives would be spared and their goods not forfeited if they surrendered, but pointedly excluding Huchon by name: in short, they wanted to have him executed.  It is hard to discern any real reason for this beyond vindictiveness and a desire to execute the third man in England named Hugh Despenser.  Huchon was only seventeen or eighteen at the end of 1326 and had committed no crime except to be the eldest son and heir of the loathed Hugh the Younger.  Fortunately for the young man, the Caerphilly garrison under the command of Sir John Felton refused to give him up to execution, and held out under siege until 20 March 1327, when Isabella and Roger gave in and promised to spare Huchon's life.  The garrison thus finally surrendered, and Huchon received a "[p]ardon to Hugh son of Hugh le Despenser the younger of the forfeiture of his life, without restitution of his lands."  [Patent Rolls 1327-30, p. 14.]  Huchon is briefly mentioned in the Anonimalle chronicle at Christmas 1326: En cel men temps Hughelyn le Despenser ficz au dist sire Hugh se tint el chastel de Kerfily, 'At this same time Hughelyn le Despenser son of the said Sir Hugh remained at the castle of Caerphilly'.

Roger Mortimer and Isabella kept their word and spared Huchon's life, but he was imprisoned for the rest of their regime.  (On what charge, I have no idea.)  At first Huchon was in the custody of Roger Mortimer himself - perhaps at Wigmore or at Ludlow, I don't know - and on 15 December 1328 was transferred to prison at Bristol Castle, where his jailer was Sir Thomas Gurney, who was convicted by parliament two years later of the murder of Edward II at Berkeley Castle in September 1327. [Close Rolls 1327-30, p. 352.]  This surely can't have been a pleasant experience for Huchon.  His great-uncle Edmund of Woodstock, earl of Kent - youngest son of Edward I and only about seven or eight years older than Huchon himself - was arrested in March 1330 and convicted of treason after attempting to free the supposedly dead Edward II from captivity.  Kent's confession as recorded in the chronicle of the royal clerk Adam Murimuth names Huchon as one of his adherents: Kent stated that one Sir (or Brother) William Cliff "came unto him from Hugues le Despenser, who told him that he would be well pleased to be with him; for he said that he [Kent] would be sure of the deliverance [of Edward II] in short time."  [Adae Murimuth Continuatio Chronicarum, ed. E. M. Thompson, pp. 255-7.]  William Cliff, from my own research, appears to have been the man of this name who was a clerk of both Edward II and the Despensers and whom Huchon's father Hugh the Younger appointed as his attorney in July 1322.  Whether Huchon truly believed that his great-uncle Edward II was still alive in 1330 is impossible to know, but certainly he must have been more than willing to do anything which might bring down the regime of Isabella and Roger Mortimer.

Huchon was finally released from prison in or a little before September 1331, a few months after Edward III took over the governance of his own realm, and in April 1332 was granted permission to go on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.  [Patent Rolls 1330-4, pp. 246, 273, 277.]  He was now about twenty-four or so.  Life must have been strange for him in many ways: he was a close kinsman of Edward III (his mother Eleanor de Clare was the king's much older first cousin), of high birth and related to most of the nobility of England, but was also the son and grandson of two notorious and despised traitors, whose name he bore.  Edward III, not a vindictive man or one to visit the sins of the father on the son, granted him various manors throughout the 1330s in fulfillment of 200 marks of land he had promised him (see e.g. Patent Rolls 1330-4, pp. 267, 377, 462). The Despenser lands of Huchon's grandfather were forfeit to the Crown as Hugh Despenser the Elder had been executed for treason, and remained so until restored by Richard II to Hugh the Younger's great-grandson Thomas in 1397, but Huchon was heir to his mother Eleanor de Clare and her vast inheritance.  When Eleanor died on 30 June 1337, aged forty-four, her lands passed by right to Huchon, who was then said to be twenty-six, twenty-eight or twenty-nine.  [Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1336-46, pp. 78-80.]  The most important part of the inheritance was the great lordship of Glamorgan in South Wales.  Huchon was a knight and soldier: he fought for Edward III at Halidon Hill in 1333 and at the battle of Morlaix in 1342, where his younger brother Edward - second of the four surviving sons of Hugh the Younger and Eleanor de Clare - was killed.

In 1341, Huchon received permission from Pope Benedict XII to marry Elizabeth, daughter of William Montacute, earl of Salisbury and close friend of Edward III [Calendar of Papal Letters 1305-41, p. 553].  Permission was needed as Elizabeth's first husband Giles Badlesmere, who died in 1338, was related to Huchon in the third degree of affinity; Giles' mother Margaret de Clare was the first cousin of Huchon's mother Eleanor de Clare.  Elizabeth's parents William Montacute and Katherine Grandisson married in about 1327, and their eldest son William was born in 1328, so Elizabeth can hardly have been more than nine when her first husband died and twelve when she married Huchon, who was about twenty years her senior.  One of Elizabeth's sisters married Huchon's nephew Edmund Fitzalan, son of his sister Isabella and Richard Fitzalan, earl of Arundel, and another married Roger Mortimer's grandson Roger Mortimer, second earl of March, and was the mother of Edmund, third earl.  Sadly, the marriage of Huchon and Elizabeth remained childless.

Hugh 'Huchon', Lord Despenser, lord of Glamorgan, died on 8 February 1349 at the age of about forty, possibly of the Black Death which was then raging through England, though this is uncertain and he may have died of natural causes.  [His Inquisition Post Mortem is in Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1347-52, pp. 328-342.]  As he had no children, his heir when he died was his nephew Edward (1336-1375), eldest of the four sons of his second brother Edward (killed at the battle of Morlaix in 1342): "Edward son of Edward le Despenser brother of the said Hugh, aged twelve years and more, is his heir."  The younger Edward Despenser was also the heir of Huchon's long-lived aunt Aline, Lady Burnell, when she died in 1363.  Huchon's widow Elizabeth Montacute later married her third husband Sir Guy Bryan, and had children with him, so perhaps Huchon was infertile.

Below: the tomb of Huchon and Elizabeth Montacute can be seen to this day in Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire,which happily survived the Dissolution.  Huchon's parents, his uncle the earl of Gloucester (d. 1314), grandfather Gilbert 'the Red', nephew Edward (d. 1375) and great-nephew Thomas, earl of Gloucester (d. 1400) are also buried in the abbey, along with numerous other members of the de Clare and Despenser families.