Yesterday I plotted Lionel of Antwerp’s descendants for two generations. By marrying into the royal line the Mortimer family found themselves in an invidious position in 1399. Richard II had identified Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March, as his heir by right of his mother Philippa of Clarence bypassing the document created by his grandfather Edward III which nominated another cousin Henry of Bolingbroke as heir in the event of Richard’s death without children. Henry was the son of John of Gaunt – the third surviving son of Edward III.
Just so we’re clear the Mortimer line descended from Lionel of Antwerp who was Edward III’s second surviving son. Although his only child, Philippa, was female, England did not have a Salic law (lex Salica) prohibiting female lines from inheriting. Had Richard II died prior to 1398 there might well have been a civil war given that Philippa’s son Roger was an adult and able to make his claim. Fortunately for Henry of Bolingbroke, Roger was killed in 1398 leaving young sons who were not in a position to attempt to enforce their claim to the throne.
The new generation of Mortimers had some rather royal DNA. In addition to being descended from Edward III they were also doubly descended from the Plantagenets by their mother Eleanor Holland whose father was descended from Edward I and whose mother was descended from Henry III. Not that it brought them a lot of luck.
Edmund (the 5th Earl of March) and his brother Roger found themselves being cared for at various royal residence including Windsor by Henry IV (or their first cousin 3 times removed if you want to count back up the family tree.) Henry placed them in the care of yet another cousin several times removed Constance of York. Constance was not a wise choice despite the familial relationship. Her husband Thomas le Despencer, had been executed in Bristol following the Epiphany Uprising in 1400. Five years later Constance made an attempt to rescue Edmund and Roger Mortimer from Windsor and take them to Wales where their uncle Edmund Mortimer had now joined with Owen Glyn Dwr (Glendower) in a bid to depose Henry IV. They made it to Cheltenham before Henry’s men recaptured them. They were then returned to custody in Pevensey and a closer watch was kept on them. Henry was all to aware that they were Richard II’s heirs and that in terms of rights of inheritance he was descended from the third surviving son of Edward III whilst the Mortimers were descended from the second surviving son.
In 1413 Henry IV died and Henry of Monmouth became king. He gave the Mortimers back their freedom. Roger Mortimer, Edmund’s younger brother probably died soon after.
Two years later in 1415 Edmund married Ann Stafford the daughter of the 5th Earl of Stafford. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that Ann was Edmund’s cousin – a second cousin once removed in fact. A papal dispensation was required and since the marriage was without Henry V’s consent there was also a large fine to be paid. Ann’s mother was the daughter of Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester (the fifth surviving son of Edward III and yet to be covered in a post). There was also a family connection to the Mortimer family to be taken into account on the papal dispensation. I am delighted to report, from the point of view of the family tree, that there were no children from the match and Edmund died of plague in 1425.
Eleanor Mortimer – the youngest sister was born in 1395, did get married but became a nun when her husband died in about 1414. (Isn’t it nice when a member of the Plantagenet family can be dealt with in a sentence?)
So that just leaves Anne Mortimer who was born in 1390. Anne married Richard of Conisburgh the youngest son of Edmund of Langley Duke of York who I have yet to post about. It was Richard’s sister Constance who plotted to send Anne’s brothers to their uncle in Wales in 1405. The marriage between Richard and Anne Mortimer took place as early as 1406.(
Her experience following the usurpation of Richard II had not been good. She, her sister Eleanor and their mother had not been treated well by Henry IV who kept them short of money. In 1405 when Eleanor Holland died her two daughters were described as “destitute.” Anne’s marriage to Richard was not about money – he was not a wealthy man: his father had left him nothing at all in his will. Furthermore the marriage was made without the approval of the king nor was the Pope approached for a dispensation given that they were first cousins twice removed. The marriage achieved papal approval two years after the actual event itself.
Just to really complicate things Ann Mortimer’s aunt Joan Holland was Richard of Consiburgh’s step-mother. Joan married Edmund of Langley, Duke of York in 1393 when she was about thirteen.
Anne and Richard had three children: Henry, Richard and Isobel. Isobel would marry and have children who would be involved in the Wars of the Roses – three of them would get themselves killed. Henry died young leaving Richard to inherit the dukedom of York when Richard of Conisburgh plotted against Henry V and was executed in 1415.
With Anne’s son Richard we arrive at the Richard of York who gave battle in vain at Wakefield in 1460 having tried to claim the kingdom from King Henry VI. It is Richard who is pictured at the star of this post.
Anne Mortimer died when she was just twenty due to complications giving birth to her only surviving son Richard. She is the grandmother of Edward IV and Richard III.
Weir, Alison. Britain’s Royal Families