What is an affinity and what is a livery badge?

Richard III’s white boar livery badge – York Museum

Having set a challenge about Royal Arms I thought I probably ought to post a little about the way in which arms and badges were used during the medieval period. Clearly a personal badge was originally designed so that people knew who was who on the battle field or tournament ground – either on a banner, a surcoat or a shield for instance but by the fourteenth century they had developed into something that was given out almost like a contract between a noble and the group of people who served him in a variety of capacities.

An affinity was a set of political and social connections – like an extended family- but with a nobleman at the centre of the web based on his links to royalty, personal patronage, family and territory. The noble would have a household and a set of retainers, or followers, who were sworn to provide the lord with help in terms of military service, political support etc in return for which they would receive protection; a leg up the social ladder and dating agency for their offspring; offices; land. As the fifteenth century progressed these retainers wore either his livery or someothe badge that associated them with their noble – the bear with the ragged staff is a well-known badge associated with the Earl of Warwick for instance.

A powerful lord like John of Gaunt would attract local gentry as well as family and tenants. The Gaunt affinity was particularly noticeable in Derbyshire for instance. This meant that men with a large affinity, such as the duke, effectively had an army that they could call upon whenever they needed one – something of increasing importance as the fifteenth century moved into the wars of the roses. Consider the impact of the Neville affinity in the escalation of feuding during the fifteenth century.

Livery badges and colours were used to show that you belonged to a particular affinity. More can be found on livery colours here: https://history.stackexchange.com/questions/13103/whose-colors-coat-of-arms-did-men-of-arms-wear-in-a-feudal-army-14th-century and if you’re interested in the Wars of the Roses here: https://murreyandblue.wordpress.com/tag/livery-colours/

Livery badges could be displayed anywhere, but usually on the outside of the upper left sleeve, on the left breast. They turn up in jewellery – think of the medieval livery collar -(https://thehistoryjar.com/2015/07/17/nicholas-and-ralph-fitzherbert-a-glimpse-of-the-wars-of-the-roses/), on horse trappings, weapons and their scabbards, stained glass windows and masonry. In fact, now I come to think of it there’s a photographic project there when we’re allowed out again!

Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III’s personal livery badge was a white boar. Sometimes the badges were taken from a charge (an emblem from the shield) on a coat of arms but they might also be more personal than that – they could be to do with an event in the lord’s life or a play on the lord’s name. Richard II’s white hart is a pun on Rich hart.

Henry VII needed to stamp out the concept of the affinity as the bands of men that nobles could gather up as part of their affinity could be used for the king but also form armies that fought against him. The Statute of Liveries of 1506 forbade issuing livery badges to men of rank; they had to be domestic servants unless the livery was covered by a specific royal licence.  Eventually livery badges were reserved only for those who were part of the monarch’s affinity and for household servants of the aristocracy. Henry made sure that everyone rocked the Tudor rose rather than their own personal livery. John of Gaunt’s livery chains of entwined “esses” ultimately became associated with chains of office rather than with the Lancastrian royal house.

Bear and ragged staff

The bear and ragged staff was associated with the Earl of Warwick during the Wars of Roses but in the reign of Elizabeth I it was associated with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester who was the successor of the Earl of Warwick (via a circuitous route.)

The blue lion – or lion rampant azure- is associated with the Percy family.

The Prince of Wales feathers were first associated with the Black Prince when he chose them as a device on hearing about the bravery of the blind King of Bohemia.

The Stafford knot is associated with the Dukes of Buckingham.

The Talbot dog is associated with the Talbot Earls of Shrewsbury

The portcullis is associated with the Beaufort family and was used widely in Tudor iconography.

The white rose of York and Edward IV’s sun in splendour – St Andrew’s Church, Penrith

Livery badges issued by the livery companies of the City of London are of a later date.

John of Gaunt – the Beaufort family.

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Possible image of Katherine Swynford

John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford began an affair after Blanche of Lancaster and Katherine’s husband Hugh had both died.  Their affair continued for a decade from   1372  until 1382 when in the aftermath of the Peasant’s Revolt John sent Katherine a quitclaim severing all ties with her.  Having said that the records show that Katherine was very much present in the lives of Henry of Bolingbroke and his wife Mary de Bohun.  It was only after Constanza of Castile died that John renewed his relationship with Katherine – this time making her his wife much to the surprise of everyone else.

The duke of Lancaster marriedhis mistress  Catherine de Roet{widow of Hugh Swinford), which caused indignation among many great ladies, as the duchess of Gloucester, the countess of Derby and the countess of Arundel, who said that they would never come into any place where she should be present.

Froissart

Katherine was approximately forty-six so there was no question of another family.  However, Katherine already had four surviving children by John of Gaunt: John, Henry, Thomas and Joan – all of whom were acknowledged and provided for by John.  Their surname Beaufort probably came from their father’s lost lordship in Anjou – meaning that they would never have any claim on the lands of his first family through Blanche of Lancaster.

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John Beaufort Earl of Somerset

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Joan Beaufort

In September 1396 a papal bull  was issued by Pope Boniface IX legitimising the Beaufort brood.  This was followed the next year in February 1397  by a royal patent issued by Richard II legitimising the family.  The patent was read out in Parliament giving it the force of law.  When Henry IV later scribbled in the margins of the patent that the Beaufort were legitimate in every aspect of law apart from inheritance of the throne he did not have the amendment read out in Parliament – thus it was not a law – and still causes dissent between supporters of the Houses of York and Lancaster.  The family tree below can be downloaded and viewed in a larger scale if you wish.
John Beaufort was either born at the end of 1372 or by March 1383.  Henry was born between 1374 and 1375, Thomas was born in 1377 and Joan, pictured in this post with her daughters, was born in 1379.
John Beaufort became the 1st Beaufort earl of Somerset.  He served both Richard II and Henry IV.  He fought against Owen Glyn Dwr and also against the French in the Hundred Years War.  His brother Henry was a scholar who entered the church.  His was a political career that had an impact on the growing inter family rivalries of the period.  He was also intent on building the Beaufort family fortunes.  Henry at least does not knot the Plantagenet family tree into any more tangles but John married Margaret Holland. They had six children.  Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor, is descended from John and Margaret.  I will post about this branch of the family tree in due course.
Margaret Holland is part of the Plantagenet family.  Her grandmother was Joan of Kent.  Her father was  Joan’s son Thomas Holland, the Second earl of Kent – so a descendant of King Edward I by his second wife Margaret of France.  Margaret’s mother was Alice FitzAlan, the daughter of the tenth Earl of Arundel and his wife Eleanor of Lancaster – the grand daughter of Edmund Crouchback and great grand daughter of Henry III.  All I can say is that the demand for papal dispensations must have been huge in the Plantagenet family.
Meanwhile Thomas Beaufort was part of the Lancaster entourage and a close friend of Henry of Monmouth.  In 1410 he became the Lord Chancellor, went to war against the French and also the Welsh during Owen Glyn Dwr’s rebellion and was an active military leader against the northern rebels led by the Earl of Northumberland and Archbishop Scrope.  In 1412 he was made Earl of Dorset under the rule of his friend Henry of Monmouth he became the Duke of Exeter.
After Henry V died Thomas Beaufort was one of the executor’s of the king’s will so was on the regency council in 1422.  In 1426 he died having been predeceased by his wife Margaret Neville of Hornby.  Their son Henry died young.
Of John’s children with Katherine Swynford this leaves Joan Beaufort.  My next post will be about her.

 

John of Gaunt’s family – wife number two

Constanza of CastileJohn’s marriage to Blanche of Lancaster gave him wealth and land – including thirty castles across England.  He held Kenilworth, Pontefract, Lincoln, Leicester, Tutbury and Monmouth to name but a few.  Blanche died on 12 September 1368 at Tutbury.

Three years later on 21st September 1371 John married Constanza or Constance of Castile.  The following year at the beginning of February she made a state entry to London.  The marriage gave John a claim to the kingdom of Castile by right of his new wife.  Constance was the daughter of King Pedro – or Pedro the Cruel –   John had had himself proclaimed King of Castile on January 29th.  The state entry reinforced John’s new status and the reason behind it.

Pedro had been usurped by his half-brother Henry of Trastamara and having fled across the Pyrenees sought the help of Gaunt’s elder brother the Black Prince. There were many more twists in the plot but ultimately Henry murdered his brother and claimed the kingdom of Castile ignoring the rights of Constance who was safely in english held territory along with her younger sister Isabella.  It was the Black Prince who escorted Constance into London in February 1372.  The marriage was a dynastic one – shortly after the second marriage Gaunt began his affair with Katherine Swynford.

In the meantime Constance bore two children.  John was born in 1374 but died the following year.  Catherine or Catalina of Lancaster was born in early 1373 or possibly late 1372. Her marriage, like her half sister Philippa’s,  reflected John’s Iberian political aspirations but one of her descendants would be at the centre of a scandal that shook England’s religious foundations.

It was only in 1386 that John was able to raise the funds to mount an invasion of Castile in aid to claim his throne after the King of Portugal defeated the Castilians.  The money came from a loan granted by Richard II on the understanding that it would be repaid once John had his throne.  Richard was leased to see the back of his dominant uncle whilst the nobility – or extended family as you’ve probably now come to think of them- resented his power.  There was an underlying fear that he might seek the throne of England for himself.

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Catherine of Aragon, c. 1496, portrait by Juan de Flandes. Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images

The Iberian Campaign was not a rip roaring success.  John couldn’t get his Castilian allies to give battle and it wasn’t long before disease began to decimate his army. The Treaty of Bayonne saw John give up his claim to the Castilian throne. In return he received a sizeable payout and his daughter Catalina was betrothed to Henry of Castile. She married him in 1388 and had several children including John II of Castile in inherited the throne whilst still a child.  Her great grand daughter was Catherine of Aragon…back to the cousin issue again! This picture is in the post because its one of my absolute favourites!

Constanza died in March 1394 at Leicester.  Two years later John of Gaunt married Katherine Swynford.  John was fifty-six.  Katherine was forty-six.  She had no power, wealth or title from which John might benefit but she did already have four children by John.

John of Gaunt’s house of Lancaster

john of gauntGaunt married Blanche of Lancaster on 19 May 1359 by 1361 he had been created Earl of Lancaster by right of his wife who was a co-heiress with her elder sister Matilda who died soon after. Gaunt became the Duke of Lancaster in November 1362.  The Lancaster inheritance made him extremely wealthy.

The first child be born to the couple was called Philippa and she was born in 1360 at Leicester. Her marriage was negotiated as part of Gaunt’s aspirations to hold the throne of Castile by right of his second wife Constanza.  She married John I of Portugal with whom she had eight children including Henry the Navigator. And there we shall leave her.

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Elizabeth of Lancaster, St Mary’s Church, Burford, Shropshire. Image from Wikipedia

The second child to survive childhood was Elizabeth who was born in 1363, the baby brother born the year before died in infancy. She married three times. Elizabeth added scandal to the Lancaster line and a bit of a tangle! Her father married her to John Hastings in 1380. The groom was eight at the time whilst Elizabeth was seventeen. The marriage was about political alliances.  Perhaps unsurprisingly Elizabeth was not overly impressed with her new groom – it would certainly be several years before she became a wife in anything but name.

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Close up of John Holland from an illustration in John Creton’s account of the murder of Richard II which is held by the British Library

John Holland, Duke of Exeter- half brother of Richard II by their shared mother Joan of Kent was ten years older than Elizabeth and he wooed her persistently. The  unsurprising result was that she became pregnant. Gaunt had to arrange an annulment as Hastings was still only fourteen and a second marriage for Elizabeth which took place in June 1386.   Altogether the couple would have five children.

As for Hastings he married Philippa Mortimer who has been mentioned in a previous post – she was the daughter of Philippa of Clarence.  Or put another way Hastings was rejected by a granddaughter of Edward III so married a great-grand daughter. Philippa went on to marry Richard FitzAlan the 11th Earl of Arundel (there was a thirty year age gap if you recall) after Hastings died on the 30th December 1389 in a jousting accident.

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So far so good .  Richard FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel – Philippa Mortimer’s second husband was a Lord Appellant who effectively revolted against Richard II who was also Philippa Mortimer’s first cousin once removed. Arundel was, of course, beheaded for treason by Richard II in 1397. Holland occupied Arundel Castle, the home of FitzAlan on Richard’s request.  Just so that the other key strand of the political pattern is clear Elizabeth’s brother Henry of Bolingbroke was also a Lord Appellant.

Meanwhile Elizabeth having moved on to husband number two found herself on the opposite side of the fence to Philippa and her brother.  John Holland, despite his violent temper and the murder of the earl of Stafford which resulted in the temporary confiscation of his lands, was loyal to his half brother. In short he was an Anti-Appellant. In 1388 he was created Earl of Huntingdon, was given parcels of land by his half brother (often confiscated from the Lords Appellant) handheld assorted important official roles.

In 1397 John Holland was present at the arrest of Thomas of Woodstock (Duke of Gloucester) at Pleshey Castle. Thomas of Woodstock was Elizabeth’s uncle as well as being a Lord Appellant and uncle of Richard II who ultimately ordered Thomas’s murder.

In 1399 John of Gaunt died and Richard II felt able to take his revenge against Elizabeth’s brother, Henry of Bolingbroke by changing banishment for a period of ten years to banishment for life. As a consequence Henry returned and usurped his cousin becoming Henry IV.  He acted against those involved in the arrest anqdmurder of Thomas of Woodstock. John Holland was stripped of much of the land which Richard II had given him.  He also lost his dukedom and reverted to being only the Earl of Huntingdon.

Unsurprisingly John resented this and plotted to restore his half brother to the throne. The Epiphany Plot conspired to murder Henry IV and his sons in January 1400. How Elizabeth might have felt about the death of her brother and nephews is not recorded. The plot was uncovered and the conspirators fled.  John Holland was captured at Pleshey where Thomas of Woodstock had been arrested four years earlier. He was executed on 16 January 1400.  The execution was ordered by Joan FitzAlan the sister of the Earl of Arundel …who had been executed three years earlier.

And I think that’s a good place to stop for the time being.  Incidentally I have no idea how the yellow square appeared on the family tree!  I have posted about Elizabeth of Lancaster and John before – follow the link to open a new window. https://thehistoryjar.com/2015/03/16/elizabeth-of-lancaster-and-sir-john-holland/

 

 

 

 

Plantagenet- Lancaster and Beaufort

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

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

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

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

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Constanza of Castile – the source is the British Library 

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

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

KatSwynford

 

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

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

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

Weir, Alison. Britain’s Royal Families

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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Edward III- Bruges Garter Book made 1430ish

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

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

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    Edward, the Black Prince, from the Bruges Garter Book

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Weir, Alison. Britain’s Royal Families

Untangling family links between the Lords Appellant and Richard II

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King Richard II

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mortimer, Ian. The Fears of Henry IV

Weir, Alison.  British Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy

 

Sir Edmund Cokayne – knight for an hour

Sir edmund cokayne.jpgEdmund Cokayne or Cockayne, depending on the source and your own preference, is buried in St Oswald’s Church, Ashbourne but he lived near Alport at Harthill Hall.  His parents were Sir John Cokayne and Cecilia Vernon.  Sir John Cokayne was John of Gaunt’s steward for the duke’s estates north of the Trent – so very much part of the Lancaster Affinity.  As might be expected the family including Edmund were MPs for Derbyshire.

He fought at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403 against Hotspur.  In July of that year the Percy family which had initially supported Henry of Bolingbroke against his cousin Richard II rebelled against Henry and joined with Owain Glyndwr.  Henry IV had been king since 1399 whilst his cousin starved to death in Pontefract Castle.  The Percys now stated that Henry had declared the throne illegally.  The aim of the Percys and the rebels was to kill Henry and his son in order to put Edmund Mortimer, the earl of March on the throne.  Mortimer was descended from Edward III’s second son, Lionel of Antwerp, so had a better claim than  Henry.  In addition Mortimer had been Richard II’s heir.

Edmund Cokayne’s family owed their position in society to the House of Lancaster.  They had risen to be de facto lords of the manor based on their service to John of Gaunt.  He was part of the 11,000 to 14,000 men who joined battle on behalf of Henry IV.  Depending on the numbers there were either 10,000 or 15,000 on the rebel side.  The battle of Shrewsbury was fought on the 21st July 1403.

Edmund was knighted on the field of battle by Henry IV and died an hour later.  His body was returned to Ashbourne where he was buried alongside his father in the Boothby Chapel in St Oswald’s Church.  The Cokayne coat of arms can be found alongside other arms in Battlefield Church, Shrewsbury.

Edmund’s brother and son would continue to serve the house of Lancaster.

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Sir edmund Cokayne

 

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!

Murder in the Abbey- John of Gaunt style

john of gauntIn 1378 Westminster Abbey had to be closed for several months after  an unfortunate interlude.  Murder had been done in the choir and John of Gaunt was implicated.  It didn’t help his reputation as the abbey had to be reconsecrated.

The back story is important. Two knights called Schakell and Hawle or Hauley had taken a Spanish Count prisoner whilst fighting with the Black Prince during the Hundred Years War – the capture took place in 1367 at the Battle of Najera. A ransom was required for the release of the Count of Denia from Aragon.  This was normal procedure and one of the reasons why going to war was so popular as men were able to make a fortune on the battlefield by capturing wealthy men. The Count was allowed to return to Spain to organise the ransom but had to leave his son, Alphonso, as a hostage. Ten years later Alphonso, who was the count’s eldest son was still in England.

Unfortunately for Schakell and Robert Hawle, who was actually Schakell’s squire John of Gaunt was negotiating for the Crown of Castile.  The fact that a Spanish noble was being held hostage until his pa sent back large sums of cash was not good press. Pressure was applied.  Remember this was only a year after Richard II had become king.  John’s power whilst not absolute was non the less impressive.

The two knights refused to release their prisoner. John had them arrested and sent to the Tower of London to focus their minds.   They managed to escape from the Tower and fled to Westminster Abbey where they claimed sanctuary.

You can probably see where this is going.  Sanctuary was ignored by a group of by the Constable of the Tower, Alan Boxhall. Schakell was captured but Hawle and a monk were murdered in the Choir.  All of which sounds as though it was a mad chase through the street and an action which took place in the heat of the moment.

Unfortunately a royal letter made its way to the Abbot of Westminster demanding that Schakell and Hawle be handed over.  The abbot refused.  And that’s when the Constable made his move – so not the heat of the moment. And he didn’t go with a few men.  He took fifty men into the abbey.

The upshot of this was that Bloxhall and all who were involved were excommunicated apart from the young Richard II, his mother Joan of Kent and of course John of Gaunt which seems a bit rich as it’s not a wild leap of deduction to work out who the plan’s mastermind might have been.