Candlemas on the borders

Edward III

Candlemas or the Feast of the Purification of Mary is February 2 and the date when the baby Jesus was supposed to be presented at the Temple. Jesus is the light of the world – there were ceremonies that involved processing with candles which were often then blessed. These candles were supposed to be helpful in time of illness – they would be decorated and kept throughout the following year. They were also supposed to protect dwellings from storms.

Candlemas is one of those feasts that turns up in a historical context to mark the time of year. It’s not a quarter day but it is an important feast. I’ve come across it most often when reading about the border between England and Scotland. George MacDonald Fraser made the feast famous with his novel The Candlemas Road a story set in the sixteenth century about Lady Margaret Dacre the heiress of Askerton Hall.

Essentially Candlemas was the feast that was half way between Christmas and the Spring Equinox. For the borderers this meant the “light at the end of the tunnel” so to speak – the reivers’ horses weren’t up to the task of raiding from that point onwards.

Portrait of Sir Robert Carey circa 1591 NT; (c) Montacute House; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Raiding and reiving seems to have gone on all year but the cycle of the seasons made the winter months particularly noticeable. “The longer the nights grow the worse they will be,” notes Sir Robert Carey in his memoirs of his time as the Deputy Warden of the English West March. George MacDonald Fraser records that from September to November the land was dry and the cattle which had been in the meadows all summer were at their best i.e. it was good riding and the cattle were at their most valuable and thus a greater temptation. As the winter progressed the cattle grew weaker and the weather was often too bad to want to steal them in any case. By February 2nd – forty days after Christmas, the cattle were in their poorest condition and feed was more expensive so it was unlikely that many people would be feeding their horses the oats they required for hard riding – so if you were a law abiding soul you would probably sleep a little easier…until the better weather at any rate.

It should be noted that there is always an exception! The Scots won the Battle of Nesbit Moor in August 1355 before attacking and sacking Berwick-Upon-Tweed. Edward III was forced to bring an army north in order to defend the castle at Berwick which was under siege. The Scots decided that discretion was a sensible option and backed off before Edward arrived at his destination. Having met with Edward Balliol at Roxburgh, Edward decided to teach the Scots a lesson and in delivered his retribution in February 1356 in the Burned Candlemas Campaign. Basically Edward III set fire to the Lothians and what the English didn’t destroy the Scots did in a bid to force the English back with a burned earth policy. In the end this turned out to be justified as Edward’s fleet was destroyed in winter gales off North Berwick.

Edward expressed his irritation by destroying Haddington Monastery but was eventually forced to turn back.

‘Whitekirk and the ‘Burnt Candlemas’, Rev. Edward B. Rankin in the Scottish Historical Review Vol. 13, No. 50 (Jan., 1916), pp. 133-137

MacDonald-Fraser, George. The Steel Bonnets

Mortimer, Ian. (2008) The Perfect King: the life of Edward III

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.

Richard_II_King_of_England

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.

220px-Edward_III_of_England_(Order_of_the_Garter)

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.

edward iii sons1.jpg

  1. black prince.jpg

    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.
  5. ThomasWoodstock

    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

Richard_II_King_of_England

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.

ThomasWoodstock

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

 

Preston Tower and it’s builder – from murderer to warden of the east march

preston towerIn 1415 there were about 78 peel or pele towers in Northumberland.  These towers were essentially private fortifications for protection in the event of Scottish raids – or neighbours you  didn’t necessarily agree with.  The idea was that you could secure your family and portable valuables until it was safe to emerge or help arrived – beacons were kept on the top of the towers which could be lit to summon help and to worn the surrounding countryside of danger. Preston tower 1

Peel towers were an architecture that resulted from the Scottish Wars of Independence.  Some of the peel towers were not ordinarily used as dwellings – rather they should be considered refuges in times of trouble whilst at the other end of the spectrum places like Aydon Castle near Hexham resemble castles.

Preston Tower was built by Sir Robert Harbottle at the end of the fourteenth century.  Sir Robert was a man of his time.  He was part of the affinity of Sir Mathew Radmayne of Levens and rose in Redmayne’s service.  When Harbottle murdered a man in Methley in Yorkshire in 1392 it was Redmayne and his successor who secured Harbottle’s pardon.

You’d have thought that Harbottle would have kept his head down but it wasn’t long before he came to the attention of the law once again when he took part in a raid on the Yorkshire property of Isabel Fauconberg stealing her property as well as the property of her tenants.   A commission was set up to investigate but somehow or other Harbottle escaped the consequence of his crimes once more.

Henry IV,  having taken the crown from his cousin Richard II, made him constable of Dunstanburgh Castle in 1399 – clearly not having read his cv beforehand.  He even managed to acquire one of the wardenship of the east march – essentially turning Harbottle into the law.  Perhaps it’s not surprising that since he did so well from the Red Rose monarchs that Harbottle was loyal to both Henry IV and Henry V even when the Percy family rebelled against them.  Having bagged himself an heiress in the form of Isabel Monbourcher,  Harbottle had risen from henchman to man of wealth and influence.  When Hotspur rebelled against Henry IV, Harbottle was able to claim a better share of his wife’s inheritance  – so it would appear that luck was on his side as well.

In between times Harbottle had served in Henry IV’s army in 1400 against the Scots and became a member for parliament.  In short he had become part of the gentry in the north and had a good stout peel tower to prove it.

Preston Tower has walls which are over two metres thick, is three storeys high and has rooms off the main chamber at each level.  It was described by Pevsner as one of the best bits of medieval architecture in the country.

 

https://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1386-1421/member/harbottle-robert-1419

The Holland family -part 2

msharley1319f25Yesterday’s post covered all of points 1-3 and most of 4:

  1. Robert Holland who married Maud de Zouche and managed to get himself beheaded by some irate Thomas of Lancaster supporters in 1328.
  2. Sir Thomas Holland who married Edward I’s granddaughter Joan of Kent in a secret marriage.  He became the first  Holland Earl of Kent. He died in 1360.
  3.  Sir Thomas and Joan had two sons – Thomas and John. Thomas became the 2nd Holland earl of Kent after his mother’s death in 1385.  He was married to Alice FitzAlan the daughter of the Earl of Arundel. the 2nd earl died in 1394.  I’ll come back to John shortly.
  4. The 2nd earl and his wife Alice had two sons, another Thomas and Edmund.  Thomas, the elder of the two brothers became the 3rd earl but was elevated by his half-brother Richard II to the title 1st Duke of Surrey. He was demoted back to being an earl when Henry of Bolingbroke usurped the throne from his cousin Richard II.  In January 1400 Thomas plotted with his uncle John to overthrow Henry IV and return Richard II to power.  Both Thomas and John were executed.  Thomas did not have any heirs so the title of 4th earl went to Thomas’s brother Edmund.  Edmund was killed in 1408 during one of the intermittent skirmishes of the Hundred Years War.  The Holland Earldom of Kent was extinct as he had no heirs.holland1exeter

So let’s go back to John, the second son of Joan of Kent.  John benefited from the patronage of his step father the Black Prince.  He married Elizabeth of Lancaster, the daughter of John of Gaunt, was elevated to the earldom of Huntingdon and then to the title 1st Duke of Exeter.  When Henry IV gained the throne John was demoted back to his earldom, plotted to kill Henry and his sons and was promptly executed.

Effigy_John_Holland_died_1447He and Elizabeth of Lancaster had three sons.  The eldest and youngest died without heirs whilst the middle son, conveniently called John regained the dukedom from Henry V following the victory at Agincourt.  John, the second Duke of Exeter, married the widow of Edmund Mortimer and had two children.  The boy was called Henry and he was born in 1430 so we have now arrived at the Wars of the Roses generations.

Henry became the 3rd Duke of Exeter in 1447.  He was an important political figure.  So it is not surprising that he married Richard of York’s young daughter Anne. On December 30th 1460 he was one of the Lancastrian commanders at the Battle of Wakefield – where his father-in-law was killed.  He was at Towton and fled to Scotland to continue serving Margaret of Anjou.  He wasn’t caught by the Yorkist king Edward IV until he was injured at the Battle of Barnet on the 14th April 1471.  The following year his wife, who had already separated from him, sought a divorce.  In 1475 he was let out of the Tower having volunteered to go to France with Edward IV.  Henry Holland, 3rd Duke of Exeter and Joan of Kent’s great grandson.  On the way back from France Henry fell mysteriously overboard and drowned – probably on the orders of Edward IV.  I’ve posted about the 3rd duke before. Click on the link to open a new window: https://thehistoryjar.com/2017/02/07/duke-of-exeter-was-he-murdered-or-did-he-slip/ Henry’s only child, a daughter called Anne had predeceased him a year earlier.

And that’s the end of the Holland males.  There are, of course, assorted female Holland descendants – married as  you might expect into some of the most important families in the country.  I shall begin to look at the female line in part three of this series.

 

 

The Holland family -from medieval gentry to dukes – part one.

220px-Thomas_Holland_1430.jpgThe story of the Holland family begins with Robert de Holland from Upholland in Lancashire.  He was born about 1283. He was a trusted part of Thomas of Lancaster’s household.  He benefitted from being within the Lancaster affinity by acquiring land as well as a wife in the form of Maud de Zouche – a co-heiress.

He fought at Boroughbridge in 1322 but not on the side of the earl who was in rebellion against his cousin the king.  This may well have been because Edward II was holding one of Robert’s daughters hostage at the time. However, the Lancaster faction were not quick to forgive the fact that the second earl was executed in Pontefract soon after the battle and that Robert, one of his most trusted men, had been a traitor to the earl’s cause.

Thomas of Lancaster was succeeded by his younger brother – Henry of Lancaster. Time passed.  On 15 October 1328 Robert Holland, or Holand, was at Borehamwood.  Unfortunately so were a number of Lancaster supporters.  There was an argument.  Robert was beheaded.

Thomas, Robert’s eldest son pictured at the start of this post in his garter robes, served Edward III. He was a man of no substantial wealth.  His mother Maud had to borrow money so he could be outfitted as a knight. However, it would appear that Thomas had a great deal of charm, not to mention nerve and persistence.  He wooed and won Edward III’s young cousin Joan of Kent.  They married in a secret exchange of vows when she was eleven or twelve.  He was more than ten years older than Joan.  It would take another nine years, a bigamous marriage and a papal decree before he was allowed to live with his bride.

Thomas’s fortunes really changed when Joan’s brother died.  He had no other heirs so Joan became the Countess of Kent in her own right (suo jure).  Thomas effectively became an earl through the right of his wife.  Thomas who had a proven military  track record by this time now had the money and the position in society to fulfil a leading military role in the Hundred Years War. Thomas and Joan’s eldest son another Thomas became a baron after his father’s death but did not become the 2nd Holland Earl of Kent until Joan died in 1385.

wiz33vab_medium.jpgThomas died in December 1360.  The following year his widow married her cousin Edward, the Black Prince.  The Holland children now had access to patronage with a very heavy clout.  Thomas (Joan’s son) gained a wealthy and aristocratic bride from the FitzAlan family.   More importantly it was the Hollands’ half-brother, Richard, who ascended the throne after Edward III died in 1377.

Thomas and John Holland were loyal to their half brother, Richard II, and benefited from their close ties – John even managed to get away with murder.  The Holland family found themselves spouses from some of the wealthiest families in the country, had the ear and trust of the Crown and continued to thrive whilst Richard II was on the throne.  The second earl’s son, another Thomas not only became the 3rd Earl of Kent but from 1397 the 1st Duke of Surrey.  This was a reward for loyalty.  Thomas had arrested his FitzAlan uncle on behalf of his royal uncle Richard II.   Perhaps because he felt a bit guilty about it he the founded of Mount Grace Priory in Yorkshire the following year.

It is perhaps unsurprising that when Richard II was deposed by Henry of Bolingbroke – Richard’s first cousin and the Hollands’ first cousin once removed- that they found themselves being demoted.  The dukedom had to be handed back.  As a consequence Thomas Holland the 3rd earl of Kent became involved with the Epiphany Rising of 1400.  He was executed.  He had no children.

holland1exeter.jpg0bea27da411458b11f502fb7d52aad65.jpgThomas’s uncle John (Joan’s second son) was executed at the same time.  John Holland had married another wealthy royal cousin, Elizabeth of Lancaster (John of Gaunt’s daughter).  This may have been because of the Black Prince’s patronage and it may have been because his mother Joan of Kent got on well with her cousin John of Gaunt.  John became Earl of Huntingdon in 1388 and in 1397 became the Duke of Exeter.  He was also involved in removing Richard II’s enemies.  In John’s case not only had he arrested his uncle Richard FitzAlan (the 11th Earl of Arundel) he has gone to Calais to arrest Thomas of Woodstock, Richard’s youngest Royal uncle. Thomas had died whilst in Calais as pictured in Froissart – the story involves a mattress…

When Richard II fell from power John was stripped of his dukedom but was allowed to retain his earldom by his brother-in-law the new king Henry IV.  This double relationship did not stop John from being involved in the Epiphany Rising of 1400 nor did it prevent his execution.

For the moment the fortunes of the Holland family looked bleak. It would continue to be dubious until 1415 when John Holland’s son, another John, would be able to regain the dukedom of Exeter from Henry V after the Battle of Agincourt. He would also continue the family tradition of marrying someone who was a cousin in a degree that required papal dispensation and which kept his family close to the line of succession!

Hicks, Michael.  Whose who in Medieval History

P.S. A family tree will be forthcoming at some point soon.

 

 

 

 

 

Alice of Norfolk – granddaughter of Edward I murdered by her own husband

220px-Edward_III_of_England_(Order_of_the_Garter)Alice of Norfolk, was born about 1324.  She was the daughter of Thomas of Brotherton and Alice Hales.  She was the youngest of their three children.

Her story  begins for the purposes of this post in October 1330 when Edward III pictured at the start of this post staged a coup to rid himself of the regency of Roger Mortimer and Isabella of France.  The band of men who crept through the tunnels beneath Nottingham Castle were led by William Montagu or Montacute. In 1337 he was created Earl of Salisbury and remained a key influence on Edward III throughout his life.

Thomas was Edward II’s  oldest half-brother but had been swift to align himself with his sister-in-law Isabella of France and her lover Roger Mortimer.  Now he had a problem.  In October 1330 Edward III had regained control of the kingdom and Thomas, despite being Earl Marshal, was not what you might describe as a central political figure.  It is evident from Edward III’s letters that Thomas was not his favourite uncle – that place had been reserved for Thomas’s younger brother, Edmund Earl of Kent whose execution may have decided Edward III to claim what was his.

Thomas_of_Brotherton,_1st_Earl_of_NorfolkIt is perhaps not surprising then that Thomas used his youngest child as a political pawn and married her into the Montagu family in 1333. William Montagu had been raised alongside Edward III and had married into the extended royal family in the person of thirteen year old Joan of Kent.  Unfortunately it had turned out to be a bigamous marriage.  Joan having already married Thomas Holland before the knight went on crusade in Prussia. Eventually, after much wrangling, the pope told Joan to return to Thomas Holland.

Joan’s cousin, Alice, married Edward, William Montagu’s brother.  The couple had five children of whom four were daughters.

Twenty years after her marriage Alice died as a result of injuries sustained during a violent assault by her husband and some of his retainers. They had a bit of a reputation in and around Bungay which is saying something given that this story unfolds against the backdrop of the Hundred Years War.  Montagu fought at Crecy (1346) as did his more famous older brother.

After Alice’s death at the end of January 1352   Montagu and some of his retainers, no doubt heroes of Crecy, were charged with her murder but only one, William Dunche of Bungay, was convicted in and he was eventually pardoned in 1361.

Montagu eventually died in July 1361 having got away with the murder of his wife.

 

Thomas of Brotherton – a king’s son

Thomas_of_Brotherton,_1st_Earl_of_Norfolk.pngThomas of Brotherton was the oldest son of Edward I’s second wife Margaret of France. Margaret was never crowned.   Her son Thomas was born on 1 June 1300  near Pontefract.  It was a difficult labour which is why Thomas is named after Thomas Becket.  Margaret and her ladies prayed that the sainted bishop would intercede on Margaret’s behalf for a safe delivery. Marguerite_of_france copy.jpg

A year after he was born Thomas had his own household. When he was two years old Edward I created  his new son the Earl of Norfolk.  As readers of the History Jar have probably come to expect by now, there isn’t much information about Thomas’s childhood other that what can be gleaned from the account books.

On the 7th July 1307 Edward I died and Thomas’s half brother, Edward, became king in their father’s stead.  Thomas was just seven years old but he was heir tot he throne. Not that Edward II lavished titles and estates upon his little brother.  Edward I had meant to make Thomas the Earl of Cornwall – that particular title went to Piers Gaveston.  It didn’t impress Margaret of France (pictured above) or other members of the royal family that such an important title should be wasted on a favourite like Gaveston.

edwardiiEventually, in 1312, after the birth of his own heir, Edward II confirmed his half brother as Earl of Norfolk and Earl Marshal of England. He also appears in the legal record as being an executor of his mother’s will. We also have records of Thomas’s half sister Mary visiting him regularly when he was a child.  Mary was a nun at Amesbury.

The conformation of Thomas as Earl of Norfolk  would normally have made him politically important. It was confirming his seat on the royal board.  However he was still only twelve years old at the time. As he grew to maturity the barons became increasingly restive.  Political uncertainty ultimately gave rise to rebellion.  Interestingly as a young man he was at the funeral of Piers Gaveston.  Edward II clearly felt that his brother should be seen to side with him at that point in time.  As Thomas grew up he demonstrated the Plantagenet temper.  He also fell victim to Hugh Despenser’s greed – he was required to hand over valuable land to the Royal favourite including Chepstow which had a lucrative taxation on imported wine.  It is perhaps not surprising that he allied himself to his sister-in-law Isabella of France and took the opportunity to do a spot of looting from the Despensers along the way.  Thomas was one of the judges that found both the Despensers guilty.  He then settled into the new regime with the bonus of several large grants and estates.

The ties that held Thomas to Isabella and Mortimer were further strengthened when Thomas’s son Edward married Beatrice Mortimer, the daughter of Isabella’s lover Roger. However, within three years Norfolk had changed his allegiance to his nephew who was of age to rule without the regency of his mother and Roger Mortimer.

Ultimately Thomas became on of his nephew’s advisors when in 1330 Edward III reclaimed the throne for himself.  Thomas was after all, the Earl Marshal of England.  However, it appears that his nephew preferred other advisors than his uncle.

Sometime between his sixteenth and twentieth birthdays Thomas married Alice Hales of Harwich.  Her father was the coroner for Norfolk.  It seems odd that the son of a king would marry so far down the social ladder. They had three children – a boy and two girls.   Their son Edward died without children so the earldom of Norfolk was passed to Thomas’s daughter Margaret who is know in history as Margaret Marshal because the Dukes of Norfolk hold the title of Earl Marshal of England. Two of Margaret’s descendants would marry Henry VIII.

As for Thomas’s other daughter, she was called Alice. Alice was married to Edward Montagu.  His brother,  William, was one of Edward III’s favourites.  It may have been that Thomas was trying to rebuild his political capital.  She died in 1352 – murdered by her own husband.

Thomas died on the 20th September 1338 and is buried in the abbey of Bury St Edmunds.  He does not appear to have been very popular or very successful for that matter.

Prince of Wales marries widow with four children given to “slippery ways.”

joan of kentThe tabloids would have had a field day in 1361 when Edward, Prince of Wales – better known as the Black Prince married the love of his life.  The people’s princess in this instance was his cousin, Joan of Kent.

Whilst she was the daughter of Edward I’s youngest son, Edmund Earl of Kent, by his second wife Margaret of France. There were a couple of skeletons rattling around the closet.  For a start Edmund had been executed for treason in March 1330 – his crime?  The attempted rescue of his half-brother King Edward II, a mere two years and six months after Edward II was supposed to have died in Berkeley Castle.  Despite this small anomaly Joan had been raised in the household of Edward III’s queen, Philippa of Hainault.  Perhaps this was where the Black Prince learned to call his future bride Jeanette.

The second scandal was harder to find a way round.  Joan, aged twelve, had secretly married a household knight called Thomas Holland. Unfortunately Thomas was then required to go and do knightly things abroad.  The marriage being a secret, Joan’s family arranged an appropriate match to the heir of the Earl of Salisbury.  It was an unfortunate turn of events because it was inevitable that Holland would return to clim his bride.  The Pope finally declared Joan to be married to Thomas in 1349.

After Thomas’s detain Normandy, fighting in one of the interminable campaigns of the Hundred Year’s War in 1360 Joan went on to marry her cousin the Black Prince – which can’t have gone down well as it would have been more politically savvy for the prince to have married a foreign princess for land, dowry and political allegiance.

Adam of Use writing some fourteen years after Joan’s death in 1399 described her as given to “slippery ways.” Even Froissart who was fond of pretty ladies described her as the most “amorous.”  I find it interesting to think that chroniclers, particularly Adam of Usk, dared to be so free with their opinions.  Adam suggested that Joan feared that her son might be toppled as king because of the number of flatterers that surrounded him – indicating that for all her amorous ways that Joan was politically astute – or was having words put into her mouth at a time when  Richard II was on the verge of being toppled from his throne.  It should be noted that Joan of Gaunt once fled from London to one of her residences for protection so my money is on politically astute.

 

There will be more on Joan as I am teaching a day school in Halifax on this rather colourful lady on Thursday 25th April.  There are still spaces available if you would like to book.  There will also be many references!