Episode 4 of the podcast is now available in the series No plan like yours to study history wisely. Having covered the Normans and Plantagenets in previous podcasts we have now arrived at the house of Lancaster, descended from John of Gaunt, the third surviving son of Edward III. This week we cover Henry IV, Henry IV, and Henry VI.
Thomas was the youngest surviving legitimate son of Edward III and Philippa of Hainhault. He was born in 1355.
He married the co-heiress Eleanor de Bohun and moved into Pleshey Castle. Once ensconced he tried to persuade his young sister-in-law Mary de Bohun that what she really wanted to be was an impoverished nun leaving him to inherit everything by right of his wife. His mother-in-law and her sister had other ideas, conferred with Thomas’s older brother John of Gaunt and the next thing that Thomas knew was that his nephew Henry of Bolingbroke had married Mary.
Richard II created him Earl of Essex by right of his wife who was the elder of the two sisters and in 1385 he was made Earl of Aumale and Duke of Gloucester. Rather ungratefully in light of the titles Thomas was one of the Lords Appellant which not only put him at odds with his nephew Richard II but also with the family of his brother Edmund of Langley who were part of the Counter-Appellant faction. Ultimately Richard was revenged upon his uncle by having him arrested, taken to Calais and murdered.
Thomas and Eleanor had five children -the eldest was a boy. Philippa died young and Isobel became a nun. After his father’s arrest Humphrey was made a ward of the Crown – he was a Plantagenet after all. Richard took him and the son of Henry of Bolingbroke to Ireland with him in 1398 but Humphrey died before he could be reunited with his mother. Isabel de Bohun died soon after her son.
Anne of Gloucester was born in 1383 and married three times- firstly to Thomas Stafford, 3rd Earl of Stafford. He died in 1392 about two years after the marriage which was not consummated. His older brother Ralf was murdered by John Holland ( Richard II’s half brother, Elizabeth of Lancaster’s husband, Henry of Bolingbroke’s brother-in-law.) Husband number two was Edmund Stafford – the 5th Earl and Thomas and Ralf’s brother (there was another brother in between who was the 4th earl.)
Anne and Thomas had children –
HumphreyStafford became the 1st Duke of Buckingham. He married a cousin – Anne Neville, the daughter of the Earl of Westmorland and John of Gaunt’s daughter Joan Beaufort. Apparently Humphrey and Anne had somewhere in the region of twelve children but we are going to leave them alone for another day – suffice it to say there were many marriages of cousins including a couple of Margaret Beauforts covered in previous posts.
Anne Stafford married Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March – another cousin, rightful king of England in the eyes of supporters of Richard II and anti-Henry factions. The pair had no children. After Edmund’s death in 1425 she married John Holland the second Duke of Exeter – another cousin. This particular Holland was the son of the murderous John Holland (the one who killed Anne’s Uncle Ralph)and Elizabeth of Lancaster.
Philippa Stafford died young.
As for Ann Stafford and John Holland’s children there were a son and a daughter. Henry Holland became the 3rd Duke of Exeter. Despite being married to Richard of York’s daughter Anne (yet another cousin) he remained a Lancastrian and the marriage was not a happy one. He spent some time in the Tower once Edward IV was on the throne but went with Edward to France in 1475. He unaccountably fell overboard and drowned on the homeward journey – no one was particularly upset and his only legitimate child pre-deceased him.
Anne Stafford’s daughter was also named Anne. She was born somewhere about 1430 and like her mother was married three times. Firstly she married John Neville (another cousin) who died. Then she married John’s uncle somewhat confusingly also called John and a nightmare to explain on the papal dispensation I should imagine. He was killed at Towton. Then Anne married James Douglas the Earl of Douglas.
And finally back to Anne Stafford who was, you may remember, married three times. Her third husband was William Bourchier, Count of Eu. There were children and the was the whole cousin intermarriage business all over again.
It would perhaps have been easier to identify the leading families who were not descended from Edward III, Edward I or Henry III! History does not happen in a vacuum. The Wars of the Roses did not spring fully formed from the void caused by Henry VI’s breakdown. It was a family squabble that escalated across the generations and it was quite clearly not a cut and dried question of which side you were on given that the key families were like a board of directors running a family firm with increasingly hostile takeover bids being actioned!
Constance was the only daughter of Edmund of Langley and Isabella of Castile. She was born at Conisburgh Castle – probably in 14374. Four years later she was betrothed to Edward le Despenser – who inconveniently died so she promptly became the betrothed of his brother Thomas. The pair were the great-grandson’s of Isabella of France’s lover – the ones who toppled Edward II from power – despite this they were still one of the wealthiest families in the country. Richard II gave Thomas the title Earl of Gloucester but this was stripped from him by Henry IV – leaving him as Baron Despenser of Glamorgan.
In 1392 Isabella of Castile died and Edmund of Langley married a bride who was younger than his daughter – Joan Holland (I’m starting to think that there must be at least one Holland in every post.) And just so we’re clear about this she was the daughter of Thomas Holland, Earl of Kent but the niece of John Holland who I mentioned in the previous post as being Isabella of Castile’s lover…not sure how that’s covered by papal dispensation.
The couple had several children but not all survived until adulthood. Richard survive to marry a cousin – Eleanor Neville the daughter of Joan Beaufort and the Earl of Westmorland – who I have posted about previously: https://thehistoryjar.com/2018/04/03/joan-beauforts-descendants-eleanor-neville-countess-of-northumberland/ He died without heirs. His title passed to his sister Isabella (a posthumous child) who was married twice, firstly to the Earl of Worcester and secondly to the Earl of Warwick – both men were called Richard Beauchamp. The latter marriage produced a daughter Anne. Anne was a wealthy heiress with both Despencer and Beauchamp lands. She married one of her Neville cousins who took the title of Earl of Warwick by right of his wife. History knows him as the Kingmaker. Constance’s great grand daughter Anne became queen of England when her husband the Duke of Gloucester (yet another cousin) became Richard III.
Just as Edmund of Langley and his sons were loyal to Richard II, so was Constance and her husband Thomas le Despenser. Unfortunately this meant that when Henry of Bolingbroke deposed his cousin that Constance’s family were left rather disgruntled. Thomas took part in the Epiphany Rising of 1400 and was executed in Bristol where he was captured as he attempted to flee – leaving Constance as the wife of an attainted traitor and totally reliant on her cousin Henry IV. There was also the fact that Constance’s brother Edward of Norwich was probably the person who betrayed the plot to Henry IV.
In 1405 Constance who had attained a position as governess to her Mortimer relations (Edmund Mortimer the young 5th Earl of March and rightful king in the eyes of many and his younger brother) absconded with them from Windsor to take them to their uncle in Wales.The refugees were recaptured a week later and the Earl of March found himself in closer confinement. Constance also implicated her brother Edward of Norwich in the plot – he was imprisoned for seventeen weeks. Again, this is recapping events which readers of the History Jar may well remember from earlier posts: https://thehistoryjar.com/2014/09/16/edmund-mortimer-5th-earl-of-march-from-the-house-of-mortimer-to-the-house-of-york/
There is another child – Constance had an affair with Edmund Holland the 4th Earl of Kent – her step-mother’s brother. A daughter resulted. Eleanor, was born at Kenilworth Castle in about 1405. She later married James Touchet, Lord Audley. Throughout her life she insisted that she was legitimate – that Constance and Edmund had married just as Joan of Ken had married by a verbal exchange of vows followed by consummation. The Holland family utterly refused to accept this.
Next the descendants of Thomas of Woodstock. As for the descendants of Edmund of Langley it is apparent from their histories that the Wars of the Roses in the Fifteenth Century which people at the time called the Cousins War had been simmering for three generations.
Edmund was born the year after John of Gaunt at Langley in Hertfordshire. When he was twenty-one he was created the Earl of Cambridge. He was created Duke of York by his nephew in 1385.
Edmund married twice. His first marriage was to Isabella of Castile. She was the sister of Constanza of Castile who was John of Gaunt’s second wife – he claimed the kingdom of Castile by right of his wife who was the elder of the sisters. Edward III had sought to marry Edmund into the royal house of Flanders during the period when he was looking to provide wealth and title to his sons but in 1372 Edmund married Isabella. By that time he was about 31 and Isabella was about 16.
It doesn’t appear to have been a very happy marriage if Isabella’s will is anything to go by. She died in 1392. She left property to her children, to Richard II and to the Duke of Lancaster but nothing to her husband. Despite this the pair had three children: Edward of Norwich born in 1373, Constance born in 1374 and Richard born in 1375 at Conisburgh Castle.
The chronicler Thomas of Walsingham was rather sniffy about Isabella’s morals. The reason for this is that Isabella had an affair with John Holland (they do get everywhere don’t they?) John Holland was the Duke of Exeter and Richard II’s half brother (executed in 1400). The affair appears to have started in 1374 which raised an interesting question about the legitimacy of Richard of Conisburgh who was the grandfather of Edward IV and Richard III. Remember though that even if he wasn’t Edmund’s son, and indeed Edmund left him nothing in his will, the Yorkist claim to the throne came from Richard’s marriage to Anne Mortimer – a descendant of Lionel of Antwerp rather than the York connection which was the junior line because Edmund of Langley was a younger brother.
Perhaps I’d better go back to the start with this one. John Holland has cropped up in a recent post because he had to marry John of Gaunt’s daughter Elizabeth when she became pregnant by him. This caused a scandal because her first marriage had to be annulled, her husband was too young to have consummated the marriage, so that she could marry John. John’s affair with Isabella was before he seduced Elizabeth. Even Chaucer wrote about about the affair – he describes Mars (John) kissing Venus (Isabella) but it would seem that whilst it was an open secret Edmund did acknowledge his youngest son and the affair fizzled out.
Isabella gave the bulk of her estate to Richard II when she died but asked that her youngest son should be provided by the king with a pension. Richard of Conisburgh was the king’s godson as well as being a royal cousin. The allowance that was granted was £500 but it was only paid occasionally and after the deposition of Richard II, Richard of Conisburgh was reliant on the generosity of another cousin Henry of Bolingbroke who was now Henry IV. Unfortunately Edmund of Langley and his children were counter appellants and had benefited from Richard II banishing Henry. They had been granted some of his lands for example.
Not only was this impecunious younger son not mentioned in Edmund of Langley’s will but Edward of Norwich also failed to mention him in his will either – Richard had been executed shortly before Edward’s death due to his part in the Southampton Plot which sought to depose Henry V. Richard was executed on 5th August 1415 for his part in the plot. Edward of Norwich was killed on 25 October 1415 at the Battle of Agincourt (he had no heirs.)
I’m still posting about the children of John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset and his wife Margaret Holland. This particular Margaret Beaufort was born sometime around 1409 and was the couple’s youngest daughter.
She was a little older than her husband Thomas Courtney, 5th Earl of Devon. The couple had five children of whom three were sons. All her sons managed to get themselves either killed or executed during the Wars of the Roses. The oldest son was executed in York following the Battle of Towton in 1461; Harry who did not inherit the earldom thanks to the act of Attainder against his brother was executed in 1469 whilst the youngest son John did inherit the title during the Lancastrian Readeption of 1470. Unfortunately this was a rather short lived Lancastrian period of power. John was killed the following year at the Battle of Tewkesbury which saw the Yorkists victorious.
This left two daughters – Joan and Elizabeth. Joan married Sir Roger Clifford – meaning that Hostspur was his grand father and Elizabeth Mortimer, the daughter of the 3rd Earl of March was his maternal grandmother. Put simply yet another cousin. Clifford’s father had been killed at the Battle of St Albans and his father is better known to history as BlackFaced Clifford who swore vengeance on his father’s killers and was himself killed at Ferrybridge in 1461. Roger followed the Lancastrians into Scotland in the aftermath of Towton. Along with his brother Robert he successfully recaptured Skipton Castle from the Yorkists in 1464 but the victory was only temporary. It became apparent that the House of York was in the ascendent- Robert and Roger came to an accommodation of sorts but then Edward IV died unexpectedly. The pair became involved with the Duke of Buckingham’s rebellion against Richard III in 1483 – more family connections remember. Robert managed to flee the country but Roger was captured and despite a mob attempting to free him he was ultimately executed in 1485 at the Tower of London.
Joan and Roger had a son called Charles and two daughters who fade into the gentry during the Tudor period.
Elizabeth Courtney married Sir Hugh Conway but there were no children from the union.
And that ladies and gentleman takes me as far through the descendants of John of Gaunt as I am going to venture at the moment. Once again it is clear that whilst the family were powerful that their daughters married into the country’s leading families. However, in time of trouble the cadet branches swiftly lost their prestige and married into gentry families meaning that the Plantagenet line becomes disguised.
My next post will return us to the remaining children of Edward III – Edmund of Langley who was created Duke of York in 1385 and married the sister of John of Gaunt’s second wife Constanza of Castile. Isabella of Castile had only three children but there is rather a lot of speculation about the legitimacy of her youngest son.
Weir, Alison. Britain’s Royal Families
Yorke, James. 1640 Union of Honour accessed from Google Books
Joan – the daughter of John Beaufort the first Earl of Somerset (John of Gaunt’s eldest son with Katherine Swynford) married James Stewart in February 1424. James was James I of Scotland and had the misfortune to be captured by Henry IV when he was a child on his way to safety in France. He’d been proclaimed king of Scotland in 1406 aged eleven but not released until the June of the same year that he married Joan – so whilst it was a love match it was also very convenient for Henry VI’s regency council and for Cardinal Henry Beaufort who was doing his level best to elevate and enrich the Beaufort family. Ultimately it meant that the King of Scotland was tied to the Plantagenets through marriage to Henry’s cousin. He was also required to pay a hefty ransom and sent back to Scotland to create some order from the anarchy into which it had descended.
The love element of the romance is recorded in a poem written by James called The Kingis Quair. Apparently he saw Joan for the first time when he looked out of his window at Windsor and saw her walking her dog in the garden below. Before long he was dropping roses from his window so that he beloved could pick them up on her morning perambulations. When the household came together to dine that evening she was wearing the first of the roses pinned to her dress. The rest, as they say, is history. There was a brief interlude whilst James joined Henry V in the Hundred Years War – a ploy to stop the Scots from joining in the war on the side of the French.
Unfortunately for the happy couple James who had been educated in England had developed a taste for English forms of government which did not go down particularly with with his nobles. One of the first things James did on return to Scotland was to curtail the power of the Albany Stewarts – he had a fair few of them executed. He also restricted the power of the Church in Scottish affairs. Essentially James was a strong monarch which made him popular with the commons, especially when he sought to reform the legal system and its application but less popular with his extended family.
It is perhaps not too surprising that there was an attempted coup led by the Earl of Atholl – who fancied the crown for himself. He was staying in Perth Priory with Joan when the conspirators struck having bribed someone to let them in. The royal couple heard the sound of feet on the paved floor, knew that it represented danger but on seeking to bar the door discovered that the all important bar was missing. Joan’s lady in waiting- thrust her own arm through the bars in a bid to slow down James’ assassins whilst James used a poker to prise up the floor boards so he could escape.
James fled to the vaults beneath the priory and the place he had been using as a tennis court. Lady Kate Douglas’s arm was broken when the conspirators finally forced an entry. He sought to escape and headed into a drain – which he had unfortunately had netted off as his tennis balls kept disappearing down there. As for Joan who attempted to save her husband, she was injured but managed to escape. She went immediately to her son James, secured the throne and then demonstrated her descent from Edward I and John of Gaunt by taking a bloody revenge on the men who had killed her husband.
Joan oversaw the hunt for James’ murderers and their torture and their executions. It was a three day affair; on the first day he was put in a cart with a crane and then pulled between the cart and the crane – think of it as a travelling rack. He was then put in the pillory and made to wear a burning crown of iron. On the second day he was dragged on a hurdle through Edinburgh – and presumably pelted with lots of unpleasant things. On the third day he was disembowelled and then his heart torn out and burned – and if that doesn’t put you off breakfast nothing will.
Joan’s family of Stewarts were as follows – the marriages of the girls demonstrate how the daughters of a monarch became international rather than national pawns in treaties. Margaret who married Louis of France. He became Louis XI but the marriage was childless and it is thought unhappy. Margaret was eleven when she went to France and was immediately popular with the french court for her doll like beauty.
Isabella married the Duke of Brittany and had two daughters, the younger of whom married her first cousin once removed – so became the duchess of Brittany in a country that did adhere (sort of) to a salic law. The pair had one son who died young.
Eleanor married the Archduke of Austria – there were no children. Mary, a younger sister, married a count of Zeeland but had not children who survived infancy and Annabella (Jean in some sources) was married to a Count of Geneva who went on to become the King of Cyprus. This match was dissolved and Annabella found herself back in Scotland married into the Gordon family.
Joan, who was mute, remained in Scotland and married the earl of Morton. One of her children married Patrick Hepburn , first Earl of Bothwell. The pair had a daughter who married into the Seton family. The Setons would play an important role in the attempts by Mary Queen of Scots to involve the Spanish in plots to free her from English captivity. The family would also play an important role in the household of James VI of Scotland (1st of England.) Unsurprisingly the family were also Royalist in their allegiances during the English Civil War – which is perhaps better described as the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.
There were four daughters born before twin boys born in 1430. Alexander died the same year. His younger brother would become James II of Scotland. His grandson James IV married Margaret Tudor – so all those Stewart and Hanoverian kings of England have a little Plantagenet blood in their veins thanks to Queen Joan Beaufort.
Joan married for a second time to James Stewart the Black Knight of Lorne with whom she had three sons. The youngest became the Bishop of Moray but the eldest became the ancestor of the Dukes of Atholl.
We are almost at the end of the series of posts about John of Gaunt’s Plantagenet descendants. Today this post will look at the line descended from John Beaufort the eldest son of John with Katherine Swynford. He served Richard II and also his own half brother Henry IV. He was born in 1373 and we know that he was raised to be a warrior – in 1390 there’s a reference to him jousting.
In February 1397 he was created an earl becoming the 1st Earl of Somerset, Marquis of Dorset and Lord High Admiral of England. He also married Margaret Holland (the Hollands get everywhere – this one was the daughter of Thomas Earl of Kent, so a grand daughter of Joan of Kent and yet another cousin of sorts.) John died in 1410 and she would go on to marry Thomas of Lancaster – the son of Henry IV. John and Margaret had six children.
Henry succeeded his father but died without heirs in 1418. He was killed at the Siege of Rouen where he had gone with his uncle Thomas Beaufort the Duke of Exeter. Henry was succeeded in turn by his brother John who became the 3rd earl but the 1st Duke of Somerset. John fought in the Hundred Years War but wasn’t terribly successful so it is thought that his died by his own hand leaving a daughter to succeed him – Her name was Lady Margaret Beaufort and she would be the link by which the Tudors claimed the throne when Henry Tudor, Margaret’s son, won the Battle of Bosworth in August 1485. This post is not the time to discuss the Beaufort claim to the throne or the legitimacy of it – suffice to say she was Plantagenet.
Somehow I managed to miss Thomas, born in 1405 or there about, off the family tree but he died without heirs.
Edmund Beaufort was the 1st earl’s fourth son – John of Gaunt’s grandson for those keeping track. He was made Count of Mortain in 1427 and then Earl of Dorset in 1438 – five years later he was elevated to a marquess and the following year he succeeded his brother John as the Earl of Somerset. Not bad for such a junior member of the family. In 1427 it is believed by some and certainly according to rumour of the time that he had an affair with his cousin’s widow – Katherine of Valois. However, cousin Humphrey, the son of Henry IV who was a leading member of Henry VI’s regency council in England passed a law ensuring that unless a prospective husband of the dowager queen (i.e. Katherine) had her son’s permission to marry all his lands would be forfeit. Henry VI had a lot of growing up to do before he could grant permission for anything and Edmund had too much to lose to risk marrying Katherine – which is possibly why her eldest son with Owen Tudor was called Edmund. This is of course hypothesis and without any sound written evidence – but what’s not to like about a good conspiracy theory? In any event Edmund Beaufort was an early victim of the Wars of the Roses being killed on 22 May 1455 at the Battle of St Albans.
Edmund married Eleanor Beauchamp (a sister of the Earl of Warwick’s – the Kingmaker’s- wife Anne Beauchamp – Edmund being Lancastrian and the Earl of Warwick being Yorkist.) The couple had ten children. The Beaufort line despite four sons became distinctly female as a result of the Wars of the Roses. Henry was executed following the Battle of Hexham in 1464. Edmund was executed by the Yorkists after the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471. HIs brother John had been killed during the battle. Thomas died young.
Edmund Beaufort’s daughter Margaret (not to be confused with the Lady Margaret Beaufort- they were cousins) married Humphrey Stafford in 1455. Humphrey was badly wounded at the Battle of Albans and appears to have succumbed to the plague in the same year. The couple’s son Henry became the Duke of Buckingham. He was required to marry Katherine Woodville. He was a buddy of the Duke of Gloucester’s but rebelled against him in 1483 after he’d turned himself into Richard III. He was executed for his pains.
Another daughter Eleanor was married off to the 5th Earl of Ormonde but he was executed in 1461 so she married Sir Robert Spencer of Spencercombe in Devon. Her eldest daughter married yet another cousin and a good Lancastrian having been raised at the court of Henry VII – Henry Percy 5th Earl of Northumberland – it also possibly ensured that whilst of a good line that the Percy family did not become too powerful in Henry Tudor’s mind.
Still going? Anne married into the Paston family of letter writing fame and one of her daughters, for Yorkshire readers of the History Jar, married Sir John Saville of Thornhill. And I think that’s more than enough for one day.
The key things about this branch of the family – apart from the fact they all insist on marrying their cousins – for land, power and increasingly to bind loyalties tighter during time of trouble is the fact that the Beaufort line demonstrate the dangers of a family going to war – the result is an heiress. It is also notable that the more junior that the girls become, the less their marriage portion must be because they marry gentlemen rather than lords and so the family moves into obscurity for all but the local enthusiast. In addition to the unappealing dowry there’s also the problem of being on the losing side of a civil war – daughters of traitors are harder to marry off – unless there’s a swap in monarch of course.
And yes I know I’ve still got Joan and Margaret Beaufort the daughters of the first Earl of Somerset to write about but this post is already too long.
I’m still wading through the Plantagenet descendants of John of Gaunt. I think that Joan’s family is probably the most complex element of this particular branch. So here goes…
Joan’s eldest son Richard Neville was the father of the Kingmaker Earl of Warwick. As a son from the First Earl of Westmorland’s second family the Westmorland title did not pass to Richard but he did become Earl of Salisbury by right of his wife Alice Montacute. Richard cannily ensured that his own son, also called Richard, was equally well provided for in marriage. By the age of six Joan Beaufort’s grandson Richard was betrothed to Anne Beauchamp the daughter of the thirteenth Earl of Warwick and likely to inherit a goodly fortune from the Beauchamp, Depenser and Montacute connections. It should be noted that the earldom of Warwick fell by luck into Richard junior’s hands with the deaths of Anne Beauchamp’s brother and niece. Joan Beaufort’s grandson was the Earl of Warwick known as The Kingmaker. From there of course we find ourselves with Joan’s great grand daughters Isabel and Anne – Isabel who married George, Duke of Clarence who had the unfortunate interlude with a vat of Malmsey and Anne who was married first to Henry VI’s son Edward of Westminster and then to the Duke of Clarence’s brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester a.k.a. Richard III – and yes papal dispensations were required all round.
Katherine Neville born around 1400 was married four times – which doesn’t help this post so I shall content myself with the two marriages I can remember. In 1412 she married John Mowbray, the 2nd Duke of Norfolk – the first Mowbray duke of Norfolk, if you recall, was the Lord Appellant who challenged Henry of Bolingbroke to trial by combat just outside Coventy, got himself banished for his pains and died in Venice. His older son Thomas was only created earl and eventually got himself executed in York for rebelling against Henry IV in 1405. John was Thomas’s younger brother – one can only imagine how John felt to be marrying the niece of the man who had effectively ruined his family – though Ralph Neville was his guardian – Ralph was ensuring his family kept their hands on the Mowbray wealth and title when he arranged Katherine’s marriage. The couple had only one son – John born in 1417. He inherited the dukedom whilst still a minor. He would become one of the Yorkists leaders who played an important role in making Edward IV king.
Katherine’s fourth marriage was perhaps the most notorious of her weddings. By that time she was sixty-five. Her groom, the brother of Elizabeth Woodville – her niece by marriage- was John Woodville aged nineteen. John was executed after the Battle of Edgecote in 1469 by her nephew the Earl of Warwick – demonstrating that family events today have nothing on those in the fifteenth century – and there’s you worrying about whose going to sit where at Christmas – this lot just seem to have lopped off each other’s heads at the first opportunity.
Henry, Thomas and Cuthbert Neville died either in infancy or as young children as did John Neville who was born in 1411. Robert Neville became the Bishop of Durham and Salisbury. Whilst being a catholic priest ought to have precluded having children of his own there is a mention in his will of a Thomas, Ralph and Alice who it might reasonably be supposed were his own children.
Eleanor Neville born in 1402 found herself in the invidious position of being required to marry her family’s opponents for power in the North after her first husband Richard le Despenser died without them having children. Despenser is going to appear again during the next week and suffice it to say a papal dispensation was required for the marriage since he was yet another cousin. Husband two was the Earl of Northumberland – despite the two families opposition to one another the couple had ten children.
In addition to marrying to solve political problems this post has demonstrated that the first earl of Westmorland and his wife Joan were very good at marrying their sons to heiresses – which probably didn’t enhance Neville popularity during the period when everyone was looking for a likely heiress to give their own family a boost up the social ladder. William Neville was no exception. William married Joan de Fauconberg who inherited a large North Yorkshire estate. Not only was she a bit older than William but she was also described as being an “idiot from birth.” Despite this the couple had four children but the child of William’s that is best know in history, thanks to the Wars of the Roses, is Thomas Neville sometimes known as the Bastard of Fauconberg. He would one day become Viscount Fauconberg. He was executed in 1471.
Anne Neville married the First Duke of Buckingham Humphrey Stafford – making her the mother-in-law of Lady Margaret Beaufort, who married the couple’s second son Henry Stafford after the death of her first husband (or second if you count John de la Pole and she didn’t) Edmund Tudor. And if nothing else demonstrates the tangled knot of Plantagenets that led to the Wars of the Roses this particular relationship should! Especially when you bear in mind that Anne’s sister Cicely married Richard of Cambridge and mothered Edward IV and Richard III. The Battle of Bosworth was really a family affair.
Quite clearly so far as the Plantagenets were concerned blood wasn’t thicker than water unless it was being spilled in pursuit of a crown. And I think that’s more than enough about Joan Beaufort’s off spring.
Tomorrow the Beaufort earls and dukes of Somerset – a quick tour before getting back to the sons of Edward III. There’s only a week until Christmas and I still haven’t tackled Edmund of Langley or Thomas of Woodstock.