Plantagenet- Lancaster and Beaufort

john of gauntToday we have arrived at the third surviving son of Edward III – John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.  I’ve posted about him before so I don’t intend to write about him in any great detail here – but there is a very tangled Plantagenet skein to unravel in terms of his children.

John married three times – his first marriage was to Blanche of Lancaster.  She was the daughter of Henry of Grosmont, Duke of Lancaster.  His grandfather was Edmund Crouchback, the younger brother of Edward I.  This makes Blanche the great-great-grand-daughter of Henry III (yes- another one.)  Her mother Isabella de Beaumont came from an equally prestigious bloodline.  Her great grandfather was King of Jerusalem and somewhere along the line, inevitably, there was some Plantagenet blood flowing in Isabella’s veins.

Marriage_of_Blanche_of_Lancaster_and_John_of_Gaunt_1359During the latter part of the 1350s Edward III was looking to provide wealth and land for his older sons. Blanche married John of Gaunt at Reading Abbey in May 1359.  Blanche gave birth to seven children between 1360 and her death in 1368 but only three survived to adulthood: Philippa, Elizabeth and Henry of Bolingbroke. Philippa married into the royal house of Portugal in 1387 as part of the Treaty of Windsor so for the time being we can remove her from the intersecting Plantagenet lines – possibly with a huge sigh of relief.

When Henry of Bolingbroke usurped his cousin Richard II one of the pieces of “fake news” circulated by Lancaster sympathisers to justify the take over was that Edmund Crouchback was actually Edward I’s older brother but that because he was deformed, the younger brother took the crown.  This was a fabrication.  Edmund was called Crouchback because he had taken the cross and gone on Crusade. It is interesting none-the-less that Henry IV made his claim not from his grandfather Edward III but from his maternal link to Henry III.

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Constanza of Castile – the source is the British Library 

Gaunt’s second wife was Constance (Constanza) of Castile.  John had aspirations to wear his own crown rather than simply watch over this nephew Richard II and there were plenty of members of Richard’s council who were delighted when John developed a continental interest.  The marriage produced a child Catherine in 1372, a year after the marriage, followed by a son John who did not survive infancy.  Catherine married Henry III of Castile and became the country’s regent during the minority of her son – John II of Castile.

Just to add to the familial knot:- Gaunt’s brother, Edmund of Langley – Duke of York married Constanza’s sister Isabella of Castile who was the mother of his children rather than his second wife Joan Holland.

KatSwynford

 

The third wife is the famous one – Katherine Swynford.  John married her in 1396 but the couple had begun an affair soon after Blanche of Lancaster’s death and the death of Katherine’s husband Hugh.  Kathryn’s eldest son by John was born the year after Constance of Castile had Catherine.  There were four members of the Beaufort brood – John, Henry, Thomas and Joan.  When John married Katherine he arranged for the entire family to be legitimised by the Church and the State.

Where does that leave us – aside from the need for a fortifying cup of tea? It leaves us with the two children from John’s marriage to Blanche of Lancaster who remained in England and the four from his relationship with Katherine Swynford – but as Cardinal Henry Beaufort had no legitimate children we are left with a total of five children who married and extended the Plantagenet line – which isn’t so bad until you realise exactly how large Joan Beaufort’s family actually was!

Next time: John of Gaunt’s Lancaster children – Philippa, Elizabeth and Henry. Be ready for the complications of Elizabeth’s marriage!

Weir, Alison. Britain’s Royal Families

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plantagenet: Clarence, Holland, Mortimer … York

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Richard of York pictured in the Talbot Shrewsbury Book

Yesterday I plotted Lionel of Antwerp’s descendants for two generations.  By marrying into the royal line the Mortimer family found themselves in an invidious position in 1399.  Richard II had identified Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March, as his heir by right of his mother Philippa of Clarence bypassing the document created by his grandfather Edward III which nominated another cousin Henry of Bolingbroke as heir in the event of Richard’s death without children. Henry was the son of John of Gaunt – the third surviving son of Edward III.

Just so we’re clear the Mortimer line descended from Lionel of Antwerp who was Edward III’s second surviving son. Although his only child, Philippa, was female, England did not have a Salic law (lex Salica) prohibiting female lines from inheriting. Had Richard II died prior to 1398 there might well have been a civil war given that Philippa’s son Roger was an adult and able to make his claim.  Fortunately for Henry of Bolingbroke, Roger was killed in 1398 leaving young sons who were not in a position to attempt to enforce their claim to the throne.

Mortimer family tree part 2.jpg

The new generation of Mortimers had some rather royal  DNA. In addition to being descended from Edward III they were also doubly descended from the Plantagenets by their mother Eleanor Holland whose father was descended from Edward I and whose mother was descended from Henry III.  Not that it brought them a lot of luck.

Edmund (the 5th Earl of March) and his brother Roger found themselves being cared for at various royal residence including Windsor by Henry IV (or their first cousin 3 times removed if you want to count back up the family tree.)  Henry placed them in the care of yet another cousin several times removed Constance of York. Constance was not a wise choice despite the familial relationship.  Her husband Thomas le Despencer, had been executed in Bristol following the Epiphany Uprising in 1400.  Five years later Constance made an attempt to rescue Edmund and Roger Mortimer from Windsor and take them to Wales where their uncle Edmund Mortimer had now joined with Owen  Glyn Dwr (Glendower) in a bid to depose Henry IV.  They made it to Cheltenham before Henry’s men recaptured them.  They were then returned to custody in Pevensey and a closer watch was kept on them. Henry was all to aware that they were Richard II’s heirs and that in terms of rights of inheritance he was descended from the third surviving son of Edward III whilst the Mortimers were descended from the second surviving son.

In 1413 Henry IV died and Henry of Monmouth became king.  He gave the Mortimers back their freedom.  Roger Mortimer, Edmund’s younger brother probably died soon after.

Two years later in 1415 Edmund married Ann Stafford the daughter of the 5th Earl of Stafford.  You probably won’t be surprised to hear that Ann was Edmund’s cousin – a second cousin once removed in fact.  A papal dispensation was required and since the marriage was without Henry V’s consent there was also a large fine to be paid. Ann’s mother was the daughter of Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of  Gloucester (the fifth surviving son of Edward III and yet to be covered in a post).  There was also a family connection to the Mortimer family to be taken into account on the papal dispensation.  I am delighted to report, from the point of view of the family tree, that there were no children from the match and Edmund died of plague in 1425.

Eleanor Mortimer – the youngest sister was born in 1395, did get married but became a nun when her husband died in about 1414.  (Isn’t it nice when a member of the Plantagenet family can be dealt with in a sentence?)

woman in hennin.gifSo that just leaves Anne Mortimer who was born in 1390. Anne married Richard of Conisburgh the youngest son of  Edmund of Langley Duke of York who I have yet to post about.  It was Richard’s sister Constance who plotted to send Anne’s brothers to their uncle in Wales in 1405. The marriage between Richard and Anne Mortimer took place as early as 1406.(

Her experience following the usurpation of Richard II had not been good.  She, her sister Eleanor and their mother had not been treated well by Henry IV who kept them short of money.  In 1405 when Eleanor Holland died her two daughters were described as “destitute.”  Anne’s marriage to Richard was not about money – he was not a wealthy man: his father had left him nothing at all in his will. Furthermore the marriage was made without the approval of the king nor was the Pope approached for a dispensation given that they were first cousins twice removed.  The marriage achieved papal approval two years after the actual event itself.

Just to really complicate things Ann Mortimer’s aunt Joan Holland was Richard of Consiburgh’s step-mother. Joan married Edmund of Langley, Duke of York in 1393 when she was about thirteen.

Anne and Richard had three children: Henry, Richard and Isobel.  Isobel would marry and have children who would be involved in the Wars of the Roses – three of them would get themselves killed. Henry died young leaving Richard to inherit the dukedom of York when Richard of Conisburgh plotted against Henry V and was executed in 1415.

With Anne’s son Richard we arrive at the Richard of York who gave battle in vain at Wakefield in 1460 having tried to claim the kingdom from King Henry VI.  It is Richard who is pictured at the star of this post.

Anne Mortimer died when she was just twenty due to complications giving birth to her only surviving son Richard. She is the grandmother of Edward IV and Richard III.

Weir, Alison. Britain’s Royal Families

 

Lionel of Antwerp -more Plantagenets

lionel of antwerp.jpgLionel (1338-1368) was Edward III’s second surviving son.  He was the one who managed to get himself poisoned by his new -in-laws when he went to Milan – not that anything has ever been definitively proved.  So far so straight forward.  However, this is where Edward III’s descendants start to become less easy to track and the familial intermarriages more complicated.

Lionel was married in the first instance to Elizabeth de Burgh, Countess of Ulster.  It was a marriage designed to provide Lionel with cash.  The marriage took place when Lionel was four.  Elizabeth was nine.  And you probably won’t be surprised to discover that Elizabeth was a grand daughter of Henry, the 3rd Earl of Lancaster – so a great great grand daughter of Henry III.  Yet another cousin in other words.

There was one child from the marriage – Philippa of Clarence born in 1355.  When her mother died in 1363 Philippa became the 5th Countess of Ulster in her own right. Five years later Philippa married Edmund Mortimer 3rd Earl of March in Reading Abbey.  Between 1377 and 1388 Philippa now The Countess of March was considered by some sources to be her cousin Richard II’s heir presumptive although Edward III appears to have favoured John of Gaunt’s son Henry of Bolingbroke for this particular position in the hierarchy when it became apparent that he would die before Richard was an adult.

Philippa had four children: first was a daughter Elizabeth Mortimer who was born on 12 February 1371. She died in 1417. She married Sir Henry “Hotspur” Percy and they had two children, Henry Percy, 2nd Earl of Northumberland, and Elizabeth Percy who was married into the Earl of Westmorland’s family in a bid to stem the developing feud between the Percys and the Nevilles.  Obviously the Percy and Neville links complicate the family story somewhat but illustrates rather beautifully the familial ties that bound the country’s leading families whether they were on friendly terms or not. Her second husband was Thomas de Camoys, and there was another child Lord Roger de Camoys.

Philippa’s son Roger Mortimer was born in 1374.  He became the 4th Earl of March and 6th Earl of Ulster. He became Lord Lieutenant of Ireland on January 24th, 1382 and was killed at the Battle of Kells in 1398.  This was not good news for the Mortimer claim to the throne.  His heirs were still children.  There’s a further tangle in the skein in that he married Eleanor Holland.  She was Joan of Kent’s grand daughter.  This meant that Richard II was Eleanor’s uncle and her husband’s first cousin once removed.  And just to make things that little bit more Plantagenet Eleanor’s mother was Alice FitzAlan, the daughter of the Earl of Arundel.  Alice fitzAlan was also descended from Henry III.

 

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If you look at the family tree taken together with the content of the post you will spot that Richard FitzAlan was Eleanor Holland’s Uncle.  Philippa  Mortimer was some thirty years her husband’s junior.

In the next generation Roger Mortimer and Eleanor’s daughter Ann who isn’t on the family tree will marry yet another cousin – Richard of Conisburgh the son of  Edmund of Langley, Duke of York – providing the Yorkists with their claim to the throne via Lionel  of Antwerp who was Edmund of Langley’s big brother –

During the reign of Henry IV, Hotspur would revolt against the man he’d helped put on the throne because the Percy’s didn’t get the recognition they felt they deserved from Henry IV for siding with him, they found themselves out of pocket in terms of military expenses sustained on the borders and in Wales in the Glyn Dwr (Glyndower) Rising and to make matters worse when Edmund Mortimer was captured by Owen Glyndower Henry IV refused to pay the ransom.  Ultimately this caused Edmund Mortimer to swap sides and for Hotspur to join with his brother-in-law.

No one ever said it was going to be straight forward!   On one hand it is relatively straight forward to ascribe a political faction to a person on the other it is more difficult to identify the impact of family dynamics on the decisions taken within a very dysfunctional family and the repercussions of those decisions on the way that extended families related to one another….I don’t know about you but I’m glad I don’t have to work out where they would all sit at a family meal…and we’re still two generations away from the Wars of the Roses.

 

The Black Prince – children and heir

black princeThe Black Prince, Edward of Woodstock, did not get married until 1361 when he was thirty.  He chose to marry his first cousin once removed – Joan of Kent who was a few years older than him.  She had already been married twice before, once bigamously.  The pair married and had two children: Edward of Anglôume born in 1365 who died when he was five and Richard of Bordeaux born in 1367.

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Richard of Bordeaux became Richard II when he was ten-years-old.  He was married twice; first to Anne of Bohemia and secondly to Isabella of Valois. His second marriage was very unpopular as it was part of a long term truce with the French and his new queen was still a child so unable to fulfil the essential crate for a medieval queen – namely to provide an heir.  Neither wife bore Richard a child. The legitimate line of the Black Prince comes to an end.

There is a theory that most of us are related somehow or other to Edward II. From the legitimate family tree it is clear that the Black Prince was not responsible for the proliferation of Plantagenets but he also had a number of illegitimate children. His mistress Edith of Willesford gave him a son Roger of Clarendon (1352-1402). Other women also gave birth to his sons: Edward and John.

Roger of Clarendon was regarded favourably, as many other illegitimate sons have been throughout royal history.  He received an annuity of £100 from Edward III. He married the heiress of the Baron de la Roche which should have set him up rather nicely but unfortunately she died without children and her land was distributed between her cousins. Meanwhile Roger managed to get himself imprisoned in Wallingford Castle by his half-brother Richard II for killing someone in a duel.  He escaped and was only recaptured once Henry IV was on the throne. Rather then being executed for murder he was executed for treason having attempted to depose the new monarch and reinstall Richard II (who popular rumour placed as being alive and well in Scotland) so was executed along with his squire, valet, eight Franciscan Friars and the prior of Laund  in 1402.  They are identified in Foxes Book of Martyrs and also in Holinshed’s Chronicle. Murreyandblue makes the point he might not have been actively attempting to depose Henry IV he might just have been rash enough to repeat rumour at a point when Henry IV was feeling a tad beleaguered.

Edward is listed by Weir as dying young. Weir along with the Journal of Medieval History identify Sir John Sounder who claimed to be the son of the Black Prince.  France makes the point that Froissart isn’t confidant of Sir John’s surname and provides two alternatives leading him to wonder whether the figure is representative rather than actual.

Next Lionel of Antwerp’s descendant and things become slightly more complicated!

France, John.  Journal of Medieval Military History, Volume 10 (pp95-96)

Marchant, Alicia. The Revolt of Owain Glyndwr in Medieval English Chronicles

Weir, Alison. (1999)  Britain’s Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy London: The Bodley Head

Sir Roger of Clarendon

Edward III’s sons – starting to sort the Plantagenets out.

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Edward III- Bruges Garter Book made 1430ish

An article by Mark Ormrod published in 2011 in the BBC History Magazine has always stuck in my mind.  Essentially Edward was an indulgent father who made big plans for his dynasty that involved crowns for his children through adoption, marriage and conquest.  His sons grew up believing that they might be kings of various countries if the odds were sufficiently stacked in their favour – and having created a series of royal dukes (Edward’s two younger sons were raised to dukedoms by their nephew Richard II) it is perhaps not surprising that there was disaffection within the family.  Edward’s dynastic policy required a large family.  He and his wife Philippa of Hainhault were fortunate in their love for one another – England was less fortunate in the size of the Plantagenet family all of whom thought themselves worthy of a crown at a time when the occupant of the throne, Richard II (Edward’s grandson) was unable to control his ambitious, conniving relations.

It seems as good a place to start as any.  It also helps that popular history gives a degree of familiarity to Edward III’s sons.

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    Edward, the Black Prince, from the Bruges Garter Book

    Edward – “The Black Prince.” He was born at Woodstock so can also be styled Edward of Woodstock after his place of birth.  He was created Earl of Chester in 1333 and then Duke of Cornwall when he was seven-years-old. He became Prince of Wales in 1343 at the age of thirteen.  The duchy was made out of the earldom of Cornwall by Edward III for his son. The title is reserved for the eldest son of the monarch. Although Edward was the Earl of Chester as soon as he became a duke he would have been known by that title as a duke trumps an earl.    Edward married his first cousin once removed – Joan of Kent.  He eventually succumbed having wasted away, it is thought, to dysentry, caught whilst on campaign in France.  He only had one child who survived to adulthood – Richard of Bordeaux who became King Richard II.  The complication for this member of the family tree comes from Joan of Kent who had been married to Sir Thomas Holland prior to her marriage to the Black Prince.  There is a large Holland clan to add into the equation not to mention some back tracking up the Plantagenet family tree to King Edward I.

  2. Lionel of Antwerp was betrothed to Elizabeth de Burgh Countess of Ulster when he was a child. He married her in 1352 but he had been styled Earl of Ulster from the age of nine. The earldom came to him through his wife. In 1362 he was created 1st Duke of Clarence. This was actually the third dukedom created within England but more of that shortly.  Elizabeth de Burgh died in 1363 having produced one child in 1355 called Philippa who became the 5th Countess of Ulster in her own right. Philippa was Lionel’s only surviving legitimate child (hurrah!)  He married for a second time to Violante Visconti the daughter of the Count of Pavia.  Lionel went back to Italy with his new wife where his -in-laws poisoned him.
  3. John of Gaunt. john of gauntJohn’s wealth and title came from his marriage to the co-heiress Blanche of Lancaster. Her father had been the 1st Duke of Lancaster but on his death with no male heirs the title died out. When John married Blanche he was given the title earl and through Blanche half of the Lancaster wealth. Blanche’s sister died in 1362 without children – the Lancaster wealth now all came to John.  On the same day that Lionel received his dukedom from his father the dukedom of Lancaster was resurrected for John.  Because the dukedom had been dormant and Edward III resurrected it John of Gaunt was also known as the 1st Duke of Lancaster (why would you want things to be straight forward!).  John married three times – firstly to Blanche who was descended from Henry III via his second son Edmund Crouchback; secondly to Constanza of Castile by whose right John would try to claim the crown of Castile and thirdly to his long time mistress Kathryn Swynford with whom he had four illegitimate children surnamed Beaufort who were ultimately legitimised by the Papacy and by King Richard II.edmund of langley.jpg
  4. Edmund of Langley was born at King’s Langley. In 1362 when he was twenty-one he was created Earl of Cambridge. It was his nephew Richard II who elevated him to a dukedom in 1385 when he was created 1st Duke of York.  Thankfully there is an example of a logical progression of the dukedom.  When he died his son became the 2nd Duke of York.  Edmund was married first to Isabella of Castile who was the sister of John of Gaunt’s wife Constance. He married for a second time to Joan Holland who was Joan of Kent’s daughter from her first marriage – so the step-daughter of the Black Prince. Joan had no children but there were three children from the first marriage – although there is a question mark over the parentage of the last child from the union with Isabella of Castile.
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    Thomas of Woodstock: London, British Library Cotton MS Nero D.VIII, f. 0

    Thomas of Woodstock married an heiress Eleanor de Bohun in 1374.  In 1377 he was created Earl of Buckingham and in 1380 he became the Earl of Essex by right of his wife. In 1385 his nephew Richard II created him Duke of Aumale and Duke of Gloucester.  Thomas’s nephew, Henry of Bolingbroke (John of Gaunt’s son) would marry Eleanor de Bohun’s sister Mary – making Thomas both uncle and brother-in-law to Henry of Bolingbroke…demonstrating that sorting out the Plantagenet relationships is not necessarily a straightforward undertaking.

 

Nor for that matter is sorting out their titles a linear progression. Thomas of Langley’s dukedom of Aumale was given to him by Richard II in 1385 but was then passed on by Richard to Edmund of Langley’s son Edward of Norwich in 1397 when Thomas was marched off to Calais and murdered. However,  Edward of Norwich was himself stripped of the title in 1399 when his cousin became Henry IV having usurped Richard II.  It’s something of a relief to report that there were no more dukes of Aumale. Henry IV recreated the title as an earldom and gave it to his son Thomas at the same time as creating him Duke of Clarence and as a duke trumps an ear, Thomas is usually known as Duke of Clarence rather than Earl of Aumale.  Thomas died without children and the title became dormant (though rather like indigestion an Aumale title does return at a later date.)

 

The Black Prince died from dysentery and is buried in Canterbury Cathedral where his effigy and shield can still be seen.  Lionel of Antwerp was murdered by his Italian in-laws in 1368.  I should add that it was never proven that he was poisoned.  He was buried in Milan but eventually disinterred and transported home for burial in Clare Priory, Suffolk alongside his first wife.  John of Gaunt died of old age at Leicester Castle on 3rd February 1399 and was buried beside Blanche of Lancaster in St Paul’s Cathedral. Edmund of Langley died in 1402 and was buried at King’s Langley in Hertfordshire. Thomas of Woodstock was arrested on the orders of his nephew Richard II and placed in the custody of  Thomas Mowbray (Duke of Norfolk), transported to Calais where he was murdered in 1397. He was eventually buried in Westminster Abbey.

 

Ormrod, W. Mark. (2011)  Edward III. Yale: Yale University Press

Ormrod, W. Mark https://www.historyextra.com/period/medieval/king-edward-iii-the-family-man/

Weir, Alison. Britain’s Royal Families

Untangling family links between the Lords Appellant and Richard II

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King Richard II

The relationships between the children of Edward III, their spouses and their descendants ultimately resulted in the Wars of the Roses.  During the reigns of Richard II and Henry IV various families with royal blood in their veins jockeyed for power, position and wealth.  Some of this vying for power was through political negotiation.  There were the inevitable marriages for land and to tie families together and of course there were rebellions.

There are so many strands that it’s difficult to know where to start.

 

This evening  I shall take a “random” look at the Lords Appellants who sought to impeach  Richard II’s favourites in 1386 and ultimately managed to control the king as a figurehead without any real power until Richard’s uncle John of Gaunt returned to England in 1389 having been absent during the period of turmoil.  There were five Lords Appellant.  The three primary appellants were Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester; Richard FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel and Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick.

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Thomas of Woodstock: London, British Library Cotton MS Nero D.VIII, f. 0

Thomas of Woodstock was the youngest surviving son of Edward III and Philippa of Hainhault – Richard II’s uncle.  He was also the uncle of the fourth Appellant Henry of Bolingbroke Earl of Derby and Hereford.  Henry was John of Gaunt’s son.  He and Richard were first cousins.  Indeed there was only three months between them so as Ian Mortimer says in his biography of Henry IV the two of them must have been well acquainted.

 

Richard FitzAlan, the Earl of Arundel‘s mother was Eleanor of Lancaster, a great grand-daughter of Henry III.  He was also related though the maternal line to the Beauchamps.  His wife was Mary de Bohun’s aunt.  Mary de Bohun was married to Henry of Bolingbroke, Earl of Derby.    I’m not going to work out the exact relationship but there’s a tangled knot of cousinship and in-lawship – so best to describe him as part of the extended kinship of Richard II.

Thomas Beauchamp, the 12th Earl of Warwick was the son of Katherine Mortimer.  His grandfather was Roger Mortimer, the Earl of March who became Isabella of France’s lover and deposed her husband King Edward II.  So far so good, however, the Mortimers had married into the Plantagenet family when Edward III’s granddaughter Philippa, Countess of Ulster married Edmund Mortimer.  Edmund was the grandson of Roger Mortimer mentioned earlier in this paragraph.

Feeling slightly dizzy?  Well just to knot the families even more firmly together Philippa and Edmund Mortimer had four children.  One of these children (the great grandchildren of Edward III),  was a daughter also called Philippa (she was first cousin once removed of Richard II if you want to be picky). She became the second wife of  Richard FitzAlan, the Earl of Arundel…yes, the Lord Appellant.  Elizabeth de Bohun died in 1385.  The marriage to Philippa took place in 1390 after the Lords Appellant had been forced to allow Richard to regain his power.  The marriage was without royal licence and the earl was fined for not asking the king for Philippa’s hand first.

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Richard II creating Thomas Mowbray Earl Marshal in 1386. British Library Cotton MS NERO D VI f.85r

For neatness sake the fifth Lord Appellant was Thomas Mowbray, the Earl of Nottingham.  He was descended from Edward I – so another cousin of sorts. His wife was the Earl of Arundel’s daughter Elizabeth by his first wife Elizabeth de Bohun – making her a first cousin of Henry of Bolingbroke’s wife Mary de Bohun. You might find it helpful to draw a diagram!

If nothing else it becomes apparent that everyone powerful during this period was related to the other leading families in the land either through blood or through marriage.  Interactions between historical figures of this period lay in the overlap between familial interaction and political interaction – the one influencing the other.

With that in mind I shall spend the period between now and Christmas exploring familial Plantagenet links – preferably with diagrams and possibly a large gin!  You can read the posts with a drink of your choice in hand!

Mortimer, Ian. The Fears of Henry IV

Weir, Alison.  British Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy

 

The North 1069- how not to win friends and influence people

Hic-domus-incenditur-Bayeux-Tapestry.jpgNorthumbria was not a peaceful location in 1069.  For a start Edgar the Athling and Gospatric were over the border in Scotland awaiting an opportunity to make William the Conqueror’s life difficult.  Gospatric was descended from Aethelred the Unready and was made Earl of Northumbria by William the Conqueror after a string of earls beginning with Copsi in 1067 were killed.  A large sum of money changed hands for the title but Gospatric rebelled against William in 1068 and was forced into exile.

William the Conqueror decided that it was better to appoint someone who was not homegrown to the job and to this end Robert Cumin or de Comines was now made Earl of Northumbria.  He is thought to have come to England at the time of the Conquest with a party of Flemings but beyond that not much is known about Cumin.  The new earl set off to claim his territory with between 500 and 900 men according to Morris.

Simeon of Durham chronicles the resulting mayhem.  Cumin and his men seem to have been intent on rape, pillage and destruction.  They had under estimated the northerners.

The inhabitants beyond the Tyne prepared to flee  when they heard news of  Cumin’s activities but were prevented by severe snow falls.  At which point they decided that since they couldn’t flee they would kill Cumin.  The Bishop of Durham who hadn’t been above a spot of plotting himself now hurried off and warned Cumin of his intended fate.  It is said that Cumin was warned not to go to Durham but ignored the advice.  Cumin took himself to Durham where his men continued their campaign to win hearts and minds with a spot of looting and murder.

Inevitably the Northumbrians got into the city and  killed Cumin’s men presumably assisted by the disgruntled locals.  Cumin who was staying in the bishop’s house was trapped but well defended by his men.  The Northumbrians dealt with this conundrum by setting the house on fire.  And so ended 31st January 1069 with the death yet another Earl of Northumbria.  The Orderic Vitallis now wrote  that the English “gained confidence in resisting the Normans, whom they saw as oppressors of their friends and allies.”

Once the north had risen in rebellion it wasn’t long before it spread south in the general direction of Yorkshire.  The governor of York castle and his men were put to the sword – presumably they were away from home -and the exiles in the Scottish court now took their opportunity to return.  The sheriff in York managed to get a message to William telling him of the rebellion and stating that unless he received reinforcements he would have to surrender.  The Orderic Vitallis and the Anglo Saxon Chronicle agree that William virtually destroyed York amidst the ensuing slaughter and after that sent men into Northumbria to exact vengeance for the death of Robert Cumin.

Meanwhile many of the magnates who had taken shelter in Scotland had managed to evade capture or death. These earls and powerful men sent envoys to Denmark and King Swein – who saw an opportunity.  The summer of 1069 was not pleasant. A Danish fleet that may have numbered up to 300 vessels arrived in the Humber. William packed his wife off to Normandy and decided what to do next. He ultimately bought off the Danes and set upon the harrying of the North.  Simeon of Durham described people eating cats and dogs.  The Orderic Vitallis  was “moved to pity” the people.

 

Morris, Marc. (2013) The Norman Conquest. London: Windmill Books

Richard Fitz Scrob

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William the Conqueror

Scrob is pronounced “Scroob” and this particular Scrob is thought to be an ancestor of the Scrope family who I usually blog about in the context of border wardenry.

Richard was granted lands on the Welsh marches by Edward the Confessor – so he is part of that group of Normans who were established prior to the Conquest.  Historians think that Richard had become part of the Confessor’s friendship network in Normandy and that when he became king in 1042 that Fitz Scrob benefited from lands in Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.  Study of Richard’s Castle near Ludlow reveals that Fitz Scrob built a simple motte and bailey fortification as early as 1050 making it one of the first castles in the country.  Ultimately a settlement grew around the castle even though the local population were initially recorded as being very alarmed by the new structure in their midst.

Inevitably in the aftermath the Conquest a land hungry border baron with adult sons might have looked to his Anglo-Saxon neighbour with a view to acquiring some of his land.  This appears to be what happened in the case of Fitz Scrob whose land lay alongside that of Eadric (Wild Edric), the nephew of Eadric Streona.  Up until the Conquest Eadric had been one of the wealthiest landowners in Shropshire.  His land was not forfeit after the Conquest because he had not taken part in the Battle of Hastings.  However his lands were gradually confiscated and split up between Norman lords including Richard Fitz Scrob based in Hereford.

Somewhat ironically William the Conqueror had left Earl Edwin of Mercia in charge of the county recognising that the borders were an important area of his new kingdom.  He did not want to antagonise the Saxons who lived there in case they made an alliance with the unconquered Welsh princes. This did not stop Fitz Scrob.

Some books suggest that Fitz Scrob expected reward from the Conqueror for having provided him with information prior to the invasion and that Eadric’s lands were what he had in mind. By 1067 Eadric, refusing to hand over his lands, was in revolt against the Normans.  A raid towards Hereford is recorded that year.  It accords with the period when William returned to Normandy and his regents took the opportunity to enrich themselves in his absence. As the Saxons began to rebel elsewhere in the kingdom the path of Eadric’s campaign has largely been lost.  Edwin, Earl of Mercia also rebelled against William but swiftly made his peace when William returned to England.

In 1069 Eadric made an alliance with the Welsh, besieged Shrewsbury and burned the town. Ultimately William the Conqueror  handed approximately 7/8th of Shropshire over to Norman land holders – after all Eadric had made an oath to him when William became king and even though he had been provoked he had rebelled – William was the tenant-in-chief and following Eadric’s rebellion he simply took the land leaving Eadric with only three manors to support himself and his family. Amongst the men to benefit was  Osbern FitzRichard the son of Richard Fitz Scrob.  History is not entirely certain when Richard Fitz Scrob died but he is last mentioned in the records in 1067.

Fitz Scrob’s descendants eventually married into the Mortimer family who played an important part in later medieval history. Another of them married Rosamund Clifford’s sister.  Rosamund was, of course, the mistress of Henry II.

 

 Augustin, Thierry. (2011) The story of the Conquest of England by the Normans: Its Causes, and Its Consequences, in England, Scotland, Ireland, and on the Continent Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

 

http://www.castlestudiesgroup.org.uk/CSGJournal2016-17X8-Richards%20Castle.pdf

Where is King Harold buried?

king haroldWilliam the Conqueror  did not want Harold’s burial spot to become a shrine for discontented Saxons.  According to some histories Harold’s lover, or hand-fast wife,  Edith Swan neck went onto the battle field and discovered Harold’s horribly mutilated body by markings known only to her.  Meanwhile Harold’s mother Gytha offered William her son’s weight in gold in order to recover the body and give it a Christian burial.  According to William of Jumieges the Conqueror had the body buried under a cairn on the shore.

However, it is usually agreed that the body was either transported in secrecy, that the Conqueror relented or that there was a heart only burial at Waltham Abbey in Essex.   The Abbey was founded by Harold who owned large estates in Waltham.  One of the reasons why he founded the abbey was because he was allegedly cured of paralysis as a child. The Waltham Chronicle goes a step further and has two monks accompany the king to Hastings and take part in the search for the body and the request to William.

In 2014 there was a survey carried out to try and find the body which had been moved to the high altar in the medieval period but during the course of the Reformation the final resting place of the supposed bones of King Harold were lost.

kingharoldsgrave

A more recent supposition is that the body was moved to Bosham Church.  This idea developed in 1954 when during work a Saxon grave was uncovered near the chancel steps close to a grave containing the remains of King Cnut’s daughter – an eight year old who drowned in the nearby river.  These remains had been rediscovered during the Victorian period.  To be buried near the chancel suggests a high rank – there is the small problem that analysis of the bones at the time suggested someone older than Harold but it does remain a possibility.  Bosham fell into the hands of William the Conqueror after 1066.

And just because I can – there’s also the theory that Harold survived Hastings and spent his life on various pilgrimages before going back to Waltham to die.  If that theory takes your fancy then you can read more at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-29612656

The image of the marker comes from http://blueborage.blogspot.com/2016/10/is-king-harold-buried-here-ruins-at.html

The divided North

tostig1-2.jpgNorthumbria, still a large county, has shrunk from it’s earlier dimensions.  It stretched from the Humber into the North covering areas that we would now recognise as Yorkshire and Country Durham as well as modern Northumbria.  The kingdom was divided when the Danes settled in York whilst the rulers of Northumbria governed Northumbria from Bamburgh down to the Tees.

So far so good but in 1016 when Cnut invaded there was a change in rulers and this led to conflict between the Danish earls and the Northumbrians.  In 1041 Siward, a Dane, murdered the Northumbrian Ædulf and being already married to the previous earl of Northumbria’s daughter  settled down to rule the area for himself.  He remained in power by supported Harthacnut and then Edward the Confessor.  In 1055 died having extended his power base into Cumbria.

Unfortunately for Northumbria earldoms were not strictly hereditary so Edward the Confessor felt able to appoint Tostig Godwinson as earl -in 1055.  It didn’t go down well with the locals.  Tostig was not from the north.  The Anglo Saxon Chronicle stated that he “robbed God first” then presumably worked his way around everyone else – calling it taxation.  Nor was Northumbria known for its peace and harmony.  One of the reasons that Tostig may have been appointed was to curb the region’s lawlessness.  It would appear that Tostig became a little over zealous in his endeavours.  He certainly gained a reputation for killing Northumbria’s leading men.

And then there were the Scots.  In the first instance Tostig confounded his nay-sayers by sending them back across the border. Part of the reason that he needed to raise taxes was that the local militia didn’t always respond to his orders so he needed to pay Danish mercenaries to fight the Scots.  In 1061 he and his wife went on a pilgrimage and the Scots took the opportunity to have a rampage.  It was at this time that Cumbria effectively became part of Scotland.  Tostig seems to have taken the news equably.  Unfortunately Gospatric a descendent of the former earls was not amused – by rights he should have been the Earl of Northumbria.  Instead he had been given land in Cumbria and had expected to retain it – Tostig by acquiescing to the new layout had denied Gospatric a power base.  In 1064 Gospatric went and complained to Edward the Confessor – where he was murdered at Christmas…possibly on the orders of Queen Edith.

In March 1065 the bones of St Oswald were dug up and put on display in Durham.  Oswald had been killed by his own treacherous relatives – a mute testimony to the fact that the people of Durham were not pleased.  On Monday 3rd October men loyal to Gospatric marched into York.  It was the start of an anti-Tostig rebellion.  The northerners wanted Morcar to be their earl and made their feelings clear by murdering Tostig’s household whenever they were captured.

Morcar and his brother Edwin the Earl of Mercia had form. The whole family was fiercely anti-Godwinson.  The conflict spread as the rebels marched south to present their case to the king.  The Mercians joined them and they headed for Northampton.  Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, was sent to negotiate.  Tostig complained that Harold was in league with the rebels and that he was conspiring to get rid of him.  It was impossible to raise an army – it was the wrong time of year and besides which the conflict was taking on the overtone of a civil war.  By the 27th October Morcar was recognised as the Earl of Northumbria and the people of Northumbria were once again free from the tax burdens that lay on the shoulders of England’s more southernly inhabitants.

Tostig refused to accept that he was no longer the earl of Northumbria.  In fact he took the news so badly that he was outlawed.  On 1st November Tostig, his wife Judith of Flanders and Tostig’s thegns took themselves off to Flanders where they were welcomed by Count Baldwin.  Tostig blamed Harold for the loss of his earldom and Edward the Confessor grieved that his people would not obey him.

At the beginning of 1066, after Edward’s death, Tostig went to Normandy and offered to help William oust Harold as king but on learning that William’s preparations were not yet at a point where invasion was imminent he persuaded his father-in-law to provide him with a fleet of vessels so that he could raid England – as far as Sandwich in the first instance.  Before turning his attention to Norfolk and Lincoln.

Morcar and Edwin defeated him and he spent the summer of 1066 sulking in Scotland – and no doubt planning his next move in his bid to be revenged upon his brother Harold.

 

Morris, Marc. (2013) The Norman Conquest. London: Windmill Books