heraldic summer quiz 2

First of all there is no reward for spotting that I labelled the crest for Derbyshire as the crest for Bristol – I have no idea what came over me! Many apologies. Have now amended it online.

So – to the shield – the background of the shield is called the field and it is usually made of a colour (a tincture) or a metal or a design representing a fur.

  • metal – gold (or) and silver (argent)
  • colour – red (gules), blue (azure), green (vert), black (sable), purple (purpure)
  • fur – ermine, ermines, peon and vair – (I’ll come back to them)

Keeping things straight forward for the time being -we’ll come back to the way the shield is divided up- a charge is then added to the field. This is the shape, object, bird or animal that identifies the shield’s owner. A colour is never put on a metal!

There may be one large charge or several smaller repeated ones.

Popular charges include; crosses, stars, rings, balls, crescents and diamonds. – except of course nothing is as straight forward as that – why call a star a star when you can call it something different!

  1. Can you identify the following: bezant, mullet, lozenge and annulet

A certain well known online encyclopaedia provides a list of heraldic charges.

Canterbury’s coat of arms includes a lion passant and three Cornish choughs which are associated with Thomas Becket.

Lions are a popular charge!

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Lions_in_heraldry_by_attitude

2) Which countries do these lions belong to?

And finally can you identify these English or Welsh county coats of arms – I’ve selected ones with repeating charges. The Derbyshire coat of arms should be no problem as he represents the fact that Derbyshire was initially founded by the Danes who came on their dragon boats (presumably not all the way to land locked Derbyshire) and there’s also a nod to the county’s mining. And of course its an opportunity to spot lozenges, lions rampant and martlets. How I managed to miss the crests for Lincolnshire and Suffolk I do not know!

Summer quiz – crest answers

Last Friday I left you with a number of crests belonging to the coats of arms of various towns, cities and counties in the UK. The crest sits above the shield, the torse (not a horse as the spell check keeps trying to tell me) and the helm. How did you do? And of course, there were some notable exceptions – the owl on Leeds crest, Hereford’s white lion and Lancaster’s sailing boat to name but a few. The next instalment will follow today.

Plymouth
Carlisle
3) Halifax – the pascal lamb standing on a Saxon crown.
Derbyshire
West Yorkshire
Edinburgh
Manchester
York
Birmingham
Belfast
Cardiff
Coventry

From the Countess of Aumale to the two wives of William Marshal the Younger – money, marriage and how to make the most of widowhood

Eleanor of England – youngest daughter of King John

Hawise, the suo jure Countess of Aumale was married to William de Mandeville, 3rd Earl of Essex but she had something of a reputation during her life time according to Richard of Devizes as a woman ‘who is almost a man, lacking nothing virile except the virile organs.’ Despite that she was married off on Richard the Lionheart’s orders for a second time to William de Forz, her social inferior, who was one of the king’s naval commanders. The countess was not amused. She was even less amused when after de Forz’s death in 1195 she was required to take as her third husband Baldwin de Béthune who was a crusader and also Richard’s companion in captivity – he was well born but a third son. Baldwin would die in 1212 and Hawise took the opportunity of paying a fine of 5,000 marks in instalments to avoid marriage for a fourth time.

There were rumours that the countess was King John’s mistress and that her eldest son by William de Forz was in fact John’s own progeny. The rumour arose because when Hawise died the fine she owed the king was still not fully paid – a debt of 4,000 marks was carried forward to her heir- (remember a mark is 2/3’s of a pound so – £2667 in 1214 when she died and a whopping £4,000,000 or thereabouts now) but John forgave the new earl the debt, provided him with a wealthy bride of his own who he himself dowered and forgave Aumale for siding with the barons and the French – suggesting a degree of fondness with which King John did not habitually regard his aristocracy. And yes I have posted about Hawise and her son William before and she will turn up in the book on medieval royal mistresses being published by Pen and Sword in November. So why today?

Let us return to husband number three – Baldwin de Béthune – the imprisoned crusader and buddy of King Richard I. Friendship was clearly important because as a third son he would not reasonably have expected to marry someone as wealthy as Hawise who had possession of large chunks of Normandy (until John lost most of the duchy) as well as Holderness and Craven in Yorkshire. It helped that he had taken Richard’s place in prison and that he spent rather a lot of his own money paying the king’s ransom.

During the 1170s Baldwin served in the household of Henry II’s eldest son Henry The Young King. He made a lifelong friendship with another younger son struggling to make his own way in the world – William Marshal. Like Marshal as well as serving the Young King and Henry II, Baldwin offered loyal service to the Lionheart and King John – in 1200 he was one of the guarantor’s of peace between John and King Philip of France. He can be found signing royal grants in 1201 but, again, like William Marshal he found himself in less favour with the passage of time and withdrew to his wife’s lands. Unlike Marshal no one wrote a biography of his life soon after this death so he is less well known today than his old friend.

Baldwin and Hawise had a daughter named Alice and in 1203 Baldwin and Marshal arranged that their children should marry. William Marshal the Younger who was probably fostered by Marshal’s lifelong friend would marry Alice when she came of age and the two families would be tied by blood. Alice was not her mother’s heiress but she would inherit lands, including Wantage in Berkshire (currently Oxfordshire) which King Henry II and King Richard gave to her father. Unfortunately Alice died young and in 1224 William Marshal the Younger married King Henry III’s sister Eleanor who was born in 1215. Eleanor was nine at the time of the marriage and Marshal was thirty-four. He died in 1231 when Eleanor was nineteen but there were no children from the union. Soon afterwards Eleanor took a vow of chastity which meant that her brother wouldn’t be able to find another husband for her – unfortunately she fell in love several years later and the vow made things somewhat difficult for the couple.

Want to do calculations to update costs? Try the Bank of England’s inflation calculator.

https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/monetary-policy/inflation/inflation-calculator

Ansel Marshal – a beloved fifth son

The Marshal family arms

When William Marshal wrote his will in 1219 he had nothing to leave his beloved youngest son, Ansel or Anselm, who was about eight-years-old at the time. The earl envisaged that the boy, named after one of Marshal’s brothers, would have to carve a career for himself as he had done. He thought that the boy would work his way up to becoming a household knight and perhaps make a good marriage – he was a Marshal after all, even if not a wealthy one. In the end John d’Earley who I have posted about before protested that the earl was offering his son a bad deal. The earl left his son £140 p.a. in rents from lands in Leinster.

The boy was looked after by his elder brothers – he turns up signing charters for his second eldest brother Gilbert Marshal and then for his brother Walter. They provided him with lands so that he could marry Matilda de Bohun, the daughter of the Earl of Hereford. The de Bohun family and William Marshal II had close ties. Matilda’s age at marriage is unknown but it is almost certain that she was still a child.

All four of his brothers became Earl of Pembroke in their turn. On 27 November 1245 Walter, the brother closest to him in age died and the earldom was delivered to Ansel. But although Henry III recognised Ansel’s rights it was necessary for him to appear before the king so that he could pay the necessary homage and to pay the fines associated with license to enter his estates. Unfortunately it seems that Ansel, who was at Chepstow, was too ill to do that because he never went to court and died on 23 December 1245, just eleven days after his brother, the last of William Marshal’s sons. He was buried at Tintern Abbey.

Ansel’s failure to fulfil his feudal obligations meant that he was technically not the earl so his widow Matilda was not permitted the dower rights of a countess instead she received £60 p.a. from Ansel’s Leinster estates. Maud remarried – given her age and who she was it was almost inevitable another husband would be found for her but she continued to be known as Maud Marshal for the rest of her life which was a short one. She died in 1252 at Groby leaving her husband Roger de Quincy 2nd Earl of Winchester to marry Helen, the daughter of William Ferrers, 5th Earl of Derby soon afterwards.

And for those of you who like a mystery – were William Marshal’s sons murdered? https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/blog/the-marshal-curse-were-the-children-of-william-marshal-murdered/

Acts and Letters of the Marshal Family 1156-1248: Earls of Pembroke and Marshals of England, ed. David Crouch, Camden Society 5th series, 47 (Cambridge: CUP, 2015) p.36

Something a bit different

The team at Pen and Sword are all lovely. At the moment I’m in the capable hands of Lucy May who is working on marketing The Son that Elizabeth I Never Had. On Wednesday I’m going to Radio Derby to talk about the book.

Listen here https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/live:bbc_radio_derby

to me doing Lunch With Ian Skye on BBC Radio Derby on Wednesday 17th August 12-1.

Getting to grips with a coat of arms – and summer quiz 2…crests

The Armorial Register -composition of arms

The shield is only part of a coat of arms – often the shield is at the bottom of a ‘stack’ – there may be a helm above the shield followed by a crest and a motto. The coil or wreath between the helm and the crest even has its own name – a torse – not a horse as the spell check insists that I actually mean. Fabric draped from the torse down around the helm is called mantling – mantling can be subdued or full on drapery with twiddly bits – see left.

Just to confuse matters the motto, placed on a scroll, can either go at the top of the coat of arms or at the bottom beneath the shield. The latter tends to occur if the arms is being held by two supporters – one on either side of the arms as in the lion and unicorn supporting the royal arms. The other thing that might appear beneath the shield is a ribbon or collar from which decorations may be hung – no not Christmas decorations! – medals and suchlike.

The images on the shield are called charges- I will be coming back to them.

Crests can sometimes appear on the torse above the shield without the helm just to help identify the owner. Crests often appear on retinue badges or in Scotland on clan badges. So how did that all come about? In the medieval period, the thirteenth century, it was acceptable to wear an actual crest made from a light wood or even boiled leather on top of the helmet usually for tournaments and jousts rather than real warfare – not sure how long that phase lasted as it sounds fairly silly to me – but that’s just me opinion. The mantle had a more practical use – it helped keep the sun off the back of the armour and was kept in place by the torse – so at least the knight wouldn’t fry.

This week’s quiz is to identify the crests belonging to towns, cities or counties – one or two have cropped the edges just to make it that little bit more tricky but it wasn’t a deliberate act on my part! The Telegraph had a competition to guess the coats of arms of 25 cities quite recently – I’m not a subscriber so that was as far as I got. Instead here are 12 crests for you to identify – some will be easier than others. Answers next week.

Richard Fitzgilbert-de Clare-Lord of Clare and Ceredigion. Forefather of the de Clare Earls of Hertford and Gloucester

Cardigan Castle, National Library of Wales, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Richard of Tonbridge’s grandson Richard was the eldest son of Gilbert FitzRichard who was given the Lordship of Ceredigion by King Henry I provided he could take and hold it. After his father’s death Richard inherited assorted lands in England and Wales including the Lordships of Clare and Ceredigion. Richard paid a relief of £43 6s and 8d to enter Ceredigion(1) which interesting as it recognised the king’s authority to make the grant, which later marcher lords refuted, but whilst the records are very specific about the finances they are a little on the murky side as to whether Richard was the first Earl of Hertford or not but it’s generally accepted than neither King Henry or King Stephen elevated the baron to an earldom. Like his younger brother Gilbert, Richard was loyal to King Stephen and he benefited from that loyalty but not to the extent that Stephen was prepared to extend his land holdings in Wales – which was in ferment.

In 1136 Richard travelled through the borders in the direction of Ceredigion and was ambushed and killed . His body was transported back to Kent and buried in Tonbridge Priory which was his foundation. In between times Richard’s widow, the sister of Earl Ranulf of Chester, was forced to take shelter in Cardigan Castle before being rescued and returned to England.

Richard’s son Gilbert became the 1st Earl of Hertford whilst his younger brother Roger succeeded as the second earl. A daughter married into the Percy family. William Percy’s mother was a member of a Welsh royal family so the union had less to do with securing alliances in Yorkshire than establishing networks of kinship on the marches and in Wales. Other daughters married the earls of Lincoln and Devon reflecting the loyalties of the Anarchy between King Stephen and Empress Matilda. As the former was loyal to Stephen whilst the latter was created Earl of Devon by the Empress Matilda and turned pirate in the Isle of Wight on the empress’s behalf. Lucy de Clare was his second wife.

Richard’s descendants held the earldoms of Hertford and Gloucester until 1314 when Gilbert de Clare the 8th earl of Gloucester and 7th earl of Hertford was killed at Bannockburn. His widow, Maud de Burgh, protested pregnancy for the next three years until King Edward II called time on the possibility of there being a male de Clare heir to inherit the title.

(1) ed. White et al, p.255

White, Eryn Want, Jenkins, Geraint H., Suggest, Richard (eds.), Cardiganshire County History Volume 2: Medieval and Early Modern Cardiganshire. (Cardiff:University of Wales Press, 2019)

Summer picture quiz 2022 – getting to grips with heraldry

Many apologies to those of you who are very comfortable with your heraldry – I’m having a bit of a refresh and am starting with canting arms which isn’t necessarily a logical place to begin but never mind. Essentially the image depicted on the arms is a pun or rebus playing on their owner’s name. The French call them armes parlantes or talking arms.

Simply say what you see! One belongs to a family and the second belongs to a kingdom – which is a bit mean of me as the kingdom tends to be described without it’s second smaller component. Not all canting arms are obvious as language and imagery has changed across the centuries. The third arms is another family name.

Canting arms 1 and 2.
Canting arms 3

Walter Gifford – Lord of Longueville

The Gifford arms – Gules (red) three lions passant (walking with right foot raised) argent (silver)

The Lord of Longueville in Normandy was a man who accompanied William the Conqueror to England in 1066. He was granted 107 Lordships of which 48 were in Buckinghamshire. His son, also named Walter, is usually styled 1st Earl of Buckingham. It should be noted that father and son are sometimes confused because of the names and the lack of clarity about dates of birth and death. Suffice it to say there were two Walters and the records are a tad on the dodgy side leading to some confusion in the available secondary sources.

Walter like many of William the Conqueror’s trusted companions was a kinsman via Gunnor the wife (more Danico or hand fasted wife) of Duke Richard I of Normandy. William of Jumiéges provides the information about Walter’s mother. He was instrumental in the defence of Normandy. He may also have been a diplomat on William’s behalf as he can be found going on a pilgrimage to St Iago de Compostella in Spain – it may have been a cover for a visit to the King of Galicia. When Gifford returned from Spain he gave the duke a horse according to some sources. He was at the Council of Lillebonne where William revealed his intention to invade England and he provided thirty ships for William’s invasion fleet and a hundred men.

Despite Giffard’s advancing age by the time of the Norman Conquest, though we don’t know exactly when he was born, he was offered the honour of carrying the duke’s standard at the Battle of Hastings. Gifford declined the honour on the grounds of his age and because he wanted both hands free. Apparently William was suitably impressed with Giffard’s response and by the knight’s bravery on the field although he did require rescuing by William himself according to one story.

As might be expected having spent his life on the battlefield Gifford was quite keen in atoning for his sins so founded a monastery at St Michel de Bolbec in 1079.

The family were powerful both in terms of running the state and the church. One of Walter’s sons became the Bishop of Winchester during the reign of King Henry I having served as William Rufus’s chancellor. His daughter Rohese married the second son of Richard of Tonbridge, another of William’s kinsmen and a key political player of the period. He died soon after 1085/86 and his son was a Commissioner for the Domesday Book of 1087. Rohese is another of the women mentioned in the Domesday Book as a landholder in her own right. Eventually half the honour of Long Crendon in Buckinghamshire which was originally part of her father’s English estates would be passed to her descendants. William Marshal became Lord of Long Crendon by right of his wife Isabel de Clare.

Just to add an extra note of caution Walter was not the only Gifford to arrive in England in 1066. His brother Osborne also took part in the Battle of Hastings and he received land in Gloucestershire. According to the Roll of Battle Abbey the Giffards of Brimsfield and Chillington descended from Osborne.

Burke, Bernard. The Roll of Battle Abbey, Annotated. (E. Churton, 1848)

Planché, James Robinson. The Conqueror and His Companions. (London: Tinsley brothers, 1874)

Medieval barons and earls – the Clare family

Tonbridge Castle Gatehouse by N Chadwick, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Duke Richard I of Normandy had many illegitimate children – Godfey, the eldest of the the duke’s natural children received Brionne from his father – demonstrating the practice of using illegitimate children to build a network of loyalty. Godfrey died in about 1015 and Brionne passed to his own son Gilbert but the county of Eu which Godfrey received from his half-brother Duke Richard II passed to William, one of Duke Richard I’s other children.

Gilbert became increasingly important during the rule of William the Conqueror’s father Robert and adopted the title Count of Brionne. He continued to agitate for the return of Eu which he gained in 1040 with William’s death. Unfortunately for Gilbert he was assassinated the same year and his own sons Richard and Baldwin fled to Flanders. Brionne as well as Eu was lost.

The FitzGilberts took part in the Norman conquest of England and did very nicely out of it. Baldwin can be found as the Sheriff of Devon and held Exeter, Okehampton and many other manors in the West Country. Richard was even more influential. He served as chief justices with William de Warenne in 1075 and received large amounts of land including Clare in Suffolk which comprised something like 127 knights’ fees as well including estates in Essex, Surrey and Kent The Conqueror even found his kinsman a wealthy bride in the shape of Rohese Gifford – her dowry included lands in Huntingdon and Hertfordshire (I think they married before the conquest in about 1054?) The marriage to Rohese continued to pay dividends for the de Clare family as they eventually received half of the Gifford estates.

Richard built castles at Tonbridge in Kent, Clare (the Victorians tried to put a train line through it) and Bletchingly in Surrey. Richard FitzGilbert was called Richard de Clare after the vast honour of Clare but also known as Richard of Tonbridge after his castle in Kent – this was the Domesday’s Book preferred name for Richard. However, following William I’s death in September 1087 de Clare joined with his feudal overlord (and potential half-brother but let’s not go there) Bishop Ovo to rebel against William Rufus in order to place Rufus’s older brother Robert Curthose on the throne.

Tonbridge was besieged for two days and de Clare was forced to surrender. Tonbridge did not come out of the experience well. Rufus had it burned. de Clare was sent off to live in the monastery at St Neot’s in Huntingdonshire where he died in 1090-91. He and Rohese re-founded the priory shortly after the Norman Conquest.

After Richard died his estates were divided between his two sons – one held the land in Normandy whilst his younger son inherited the English estates – thus avoiding the difficulties of owing allegiance to both William Rufus and Robert Curthose.

Gilbert FitzRichard did not necessarily get on well with William Rufus but when King Henry I ascended the throne in 1100 following an unfortunate accident in the New Forest the de Clare family fortunes looked rather more rosy. One of the possible reasons for this hypothesised by various writers was that Walter Tirel who ‘accidentally’ shot William Rufus was married to Gilbert’s sister Adelize – there is no positive proof that there was a plot. It’s all very circumstantial but the de Clare did well out of Henry I’s reign.

http://www.tonbridgehistory.org.uk/miscellany/lowy_of_tonbridge.htm

Altschul, Michael. A Baronial Family in Medieval England: The Clares, 1217-1314. (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2019)

Round,J. H., ‘The Family of Clare’, The Archaeological Journal, Vol. 56 2nd series Vol 6 (1899)

C. Warren Hollister, ‘The Strange Death of William Rufus’, Speculum, Vol. 48, No. 4 (Oct., 1973), pp. 645-46