To leap is to make a sudden movement it can also mean to swiftly provide help or protection. Neither, if I am honest is very helpful in terms of my leaping lords for this post! So, there’s no help for it I shall have to cheat:
The five lords who made a sudden move against Richard II in 1387 to control his tendencies towards tyranny were called the Lords Appellant because they called upon parliament through legal procedure called an appeal of treason to prosecute Richard II’s favourites – the first three were the Duke of Gloucester (the king’s uncle known as Thomas of Woodstock), Richard FitzAlan Earl of Arundel and Thomas de Beauchamp Earl of Warwick. They were joined in their desire to restrain the king’s behaviour by Henry Bolingbroke who was Earl of Derby at that time and also Thomas de Mowbray the Earl of Nottingham.
These men successfully formed a commission for a year to rule the kingdom and at the end of that year they fought a battle with Robert de Vere, the earl of Oxford and the most influential of Richard’s despised favourites. As a result of the Battle of Radcot Bridge Richard II found himself a medieval monarch without much in the way of power and his other favourites found themselves in something of a tight spot. And so it might have continued had Henry Bolingbroke’s father John of Gaunt not returned to England in 1389 from Spain breaking the power of the Lords Appellant. It took Richard until 1397 to regain all his kingly powers and to begin to exact his revenge.
Where men have more than one title they are known by the most senior title from duke via marquess, earl and viscount to baron. If a member of the nobility inherits or is granted a superior title to the one he already holds he is known by the more important title hence forth but keep any others he has accrued – think of it as a form of “top trumps.” This can be a little bit on the confusing side when reading around a subject as historically people are known by their title e.g. Henry of Bolingbroke is known as Derby. When their title changes, their name is recorded differently e.g. Hereford. The person is the same but it isn’t immediately obvious. It is a useful method of dating a primary source but it can take some getting used to.
Let us begin. The earl of Nottingham, Thomas de Mowbray, managed to eventually find his way back into Richard II’s good books by helping to get rid of another Lord Appellant. It is likely that Mowbray helped with the murder of the Duke of Gloucester in 1397 – he had a nasty accident in Calais. As a result of this Richard elevated him from being the Earl of Nottingham to the first Mowbray Duke of Norfolk – so we’ll count him as two lords for the time being given his key titles. It didn’t end well for de Mowbray though as he had an argument with Bolingbroke presumably about killing off co-conspirators. Bolingbroke reported de Mowbray’s comments to the king and there was another argument. They were due to fight a duel in Coventry to resolve the matter but Richard banished them both in 1398. De Mowbray was exiled for life. He died in Venice in 1399 of Plague.
Henry of Bolingbroke initially got away with his involvement with the Lords Appellant after Richard regained power because of the importance of Henry’s father John of Gaunt. Bolingbroke can also be counted a second time because Richard made him the Duke of Hereford during the lull in proceedings. Upon the death of John of Gaunt Richard changed Henry ‘s sentence to life in exile and he kept John of Gaunt’s land for himself rather than allowing Henry the revenue. It was for this reason that Henry returned to England, ostensibly to reclaim the duchy of Lancaster which had been his father’s. From there it was one short step to becoming Henry IV.
Thomas de Beauchamp Earl of Warwick had only the one title so we shall leave him alone and be grateful for small mercies. FitzAlan was not only earl of Arundel, he was also earl of Surrey – so he counts twice giving us seven titles thus far.
It is perhaps not surprising that as a king’s son the Duke of Gloucester had more than his fair share of titles. He was also the first earl of Buckingham and the first earl of Essex – bringing us to a nice round ten.
Unsurprisingly many of the men listed above have other titles as well. I have not counted the fact that de Mowbray became the earl of Norfolk after his grandmother died because he was already the duke of Norfolk. He would have been known by the senior title of duke rather than the more junior earl.
Equally I have not counted the fact that Henry of Bolingbroke was also the Earl of Northampton. He acquired this title through his wife Mary de Bohun in 1384 and demonstrates rather nicely the matrimonial method for collecting a title. but his own title Earl of Derby was more likely to be used rather than the title of Northampton which was of the same value as the one he already held- remember that aristocratic game of top trumps I mentioned earlier.