30 March, 2009

Law and Order in Edward II's Reign

Some random examples of murder, assault and candidates for Darwin awards, etc, in Edward II's reign that I found amusing or noteworthy, taken from the patent and close rolls, inquisitions miscellaneous, petitions, records of parliament, chancery warrants and so on.

On Sunday 25 September 1323 in Nottinghamshire, Henry de Mustiers and Hugh de Whassyngbourn, chaplain, went walking in the fields between Elston and Syerston with a woman called Jonetta de Staunton. They encountered three brothers, Robert, Nicholas and Thomas de Sireston, "who politely saluted Jonetta. And Robert embraced her, upon which Henry angrily put away Robert's hands and whispered to Hugh to go to his [Henry's] home and bring his men with arms." Hugh returned with three named men and unnamed, uncounted others, "who met Robert and his brothers and bade them 'Stand' and abused them. Hugh attacked them with an iron-pronged fork wounding Robert, who then killed him with a knife. No man received Robert or his brothers. Nicholas and Thomas are in no way guilty." Robert de Sireston was pardoned in April 1325 for Hugh's death and "any consequent outlawry."

A salutary lesson on the perils of embracing strange women in fields and carrying pitchforks around, I suppose.

On 1 August 1324, Robert Anlek of Jersey (Channel Islands) was pardoned for the death of Joan Hamond, "on his petition showing that, as he was passing through the town of Haumouns, he threw a stone at a dog that was following to bite him, and the stone by accident struck the said Joan and killed her."

In May 1311, William Bereford, chief justice of the Court of Common Pleas, claimed that Sir John Somery had "obtained such mastery in the county of Stafford that no one can obtain law or justice therein; that he has made himself more than a king there; that no one can dwell there unless he buys protection from him, either by money or by assisting him in building his castles; and that he attacks people in their own houses with the intention of killing them, unless they make fine for his protection." Somery accused Bereford of defamation.

An inquisition taken at Stratford-on-Avon on 30 October 1320 found that Andrew le Frank "threw his knife at a wall" on 4 June 1319 at his house in 'La Whiteparosshe', wherever that is, and "Agnes his wife came in the way and was wounded in the leg, and so died by misadventure."

About Newgate Prison in London: James de Galduches, formerly imprisoned there, complained in September 1314 that Richard de Honewyk, keeper of the gaol, handed him over to his sergeant John le Parker, and "although the complainant for such cause ought not to have been placed in the depths of the gaol as a felon or thief, [Parker] did so immure him so that he might extort money from him, and detained him there, placed with notorious felons and thieves and horribly laden with iron fetters." Parker forced Galtuches to promise to pay him sixty pounds, an astonishingly large sum, and when he failed to pay it, Parker "procured grievous distresses" upon his goods.

My hero Stephen Dunheved was not the only man to escape from Newgate: a John Bourt of Mendham was pardoned in November 1310, on account of good service in Scotland, for "breaking Neugate prison and for abjuring the realm," and two men named Robert le Bakere and Stephen de Thresk also escaped from there before January 1325. In March 1315, Newgate was said to contain "certain chambers which are in a ruinous state to the injury of the city of London, and danger of the escape of prisoners who are in that gaol."

In June 1309, Ralph Bedel of Old Sarum in Wiltshire was released from prison, having "made a distress by a cow" on Nicholas Cope and John Smart, "sub-keepers of the peace in the town of Bradelegh."

Bertrand le Vylar, merchant of Bayonne, complained in December 1323 that "whereas he laded a ship of the parts of Malogret called a 'Galey' at La Skluse in Flanders with diverse wares to take to Spain, and ran towards Sandwich to take refuge from pirates,"* men of the Cinque Ports entered his ship while it was at anchor, assaulted him and stole his goods.

* Not Hugh Despenser the Younger. :-)

Inquisition taken at York, the Tuesday after Trinity Sunday 1324: "Dionisia Ketel fled for diverse larcenies imputed to her...and entered the sheepfold of Maud, late the wife of William Amyson of Hemmyngburgh, and killed two ewes; on hearing which the said Maud came to her sheepfold and found the said Dionisia skinning the ewes; when the said Dionisia perceived the approach of the said Maud, she attacked her with the knife with which she was skinning the ewes, and the said Maud, seeing the knife, fled to Clyff by Hemmyngburgh, and there the said Dionisia cornered her in a house to kill her, and the said Maud, seeing she could not escape death, found an axe lying at her feet with which she struck the said Dionisia on the head, whereby she died. The said Maud immediately journeyed to the king's court to seek the king's peace."

She just happened to find an axe lying at her feet? How convenient. Maud was pardoned for the death on 26 June 1324.

Nicholas Gest was pardoned in November 1309 for the death of Emma Chappere, "killed by him before he had completed his seventh year."

Edward II ordered the treasurer and chancellor in December 1323 to make a visitation of the chapel of St Martin le Grand in London, "as it has come to the ears of the king that the ornaments and books are often wanting, officers and other ministers neglect their duties although they receive their stipends, and raise brawls, contentions and scandals amongst themselves; and that some carry on dissolute lives in other places."

An inquisition taken at Stafford on 21 August 1320 found that Sir Roger Swynnerton, Stephen Swynnerton, parson, and Thomas Ace of Newport killed Henry le Salt in Stafford "for insulting language." The same inquisition found that Richard Swynnerton killed Henry le Persons "on account of an old quarrel," and Stephen Swynnerton the parson killed Thomas de Vernay for the same reason. Those Swynnerton brothers were pretty murderous.

A fight broke out in a London tavern one Sunday in March 1326, during which a clerk, Luke Walram, hit a skinner called Robert de Aynesham on the arm with a stick and broke it (Aynesham's arm, not the stick), and Thomas de Popelingecherche hit another skinner called John de Arnhale and wounded Arnhale's right hand. A third skinner, Laurence de Lenne, was felled to the ground when Thomas de Haselhegh hit him with a stick, and stabbed Robert de Haselhegh's chaplain Richard in the thigh with his knife.

John Dunheved, brother of Stephen and Thomas Dunheved from my last post, murdered Oliver Dunheved, a rent-collector and presumably the brothers' cousin, on 9 February 1325. Oliver was staying at the house of William Mori in Dunchurch, when John, "designing Oliver's death, came by night with others unknown and attacked the house and would have set it on fire. This frightened William Mori so that he opened the door that Oliver might escape; but thereupon John shot Oliver to the heart with a bow and a barbed arrow, so that he died."

On 27 September 1324, the ship of one Richard de Wodehouse was floating in the river Ouse at Selby in Yorkshire, with Richard's son William sitting on the gunwale, when a post in the water struck William and threw him into the water, and he drowned.

On 1 March 1308, at Weybourne in Norfolk, it was found that William son of Thomas de Wabrone "wickedly slew William Bright with a dung fork, because he found him idling in his service."

After the execution of Bartholomew Badlesmere in April 1322, he was accused of having prevented Simon and Margery de Kinardsle from entering a messuage in London: "by his great power as the steward of the king's household, he would not allow them to enter, wherefore they brought the king's writ against him; whereupon the said Bartholomew grievously threatened them, and seized the said Simon by the beard, and otherwise vexed them."

On 18 May 1319, Edward II sent a letter to the chancellor, ordering him to write letters of pardon for Hugh le Smale regarding the death of Robert Spendelove: Hugh and Robert were together at the house of Robert atte Watre "about the hour of vespers at table, and Robert raised strife against Hugh and attacked him to kill him, and Hugh [words missing] caused the windows of the house to be closed to avoid his malice, and Robert [words missing] returned and broke the doors and entered the house and chased Hugh from corner to corner and got him in a corner towards the east, and Hugh in self-defence drew [words missing] struck Robert on the right shoulder and so killed him but not of malice or felony aforethought." Smale was pardoned the same day, and the letters say that he killed Spendelove "in the presence of the king."

May 1315: Edward II's garrison of Builth Castle, "maliciously seeking occasion against the said commonalty [of Builth] went forth by night from the castle, and feigned to besiege the castle and shot arrows at it; and afterwards, having secretly re-entered the castle, wickedly laid such attack upon the burgesses of the town, and on that account imprisoned very many of the burgesses in the castle and maliciously detained them in the prison there until they were delivered therefrom by the king's escheator."

In other words, they attacked the castle themselves and pretended that the inhabitants of the town were responsible as an excuse to arrest them. To add insult to injury, they "took away diverse kinds of victuals and other things of the same burgesses and men found in their houses against their will and carried the same away, [and] maliciously killed the swine of the said burgesses and men casually coming near the castle."

25 March, 2009

The Dunheved Brothers

A post about the Dunheved brothers, Stephen and Thomas, fanatical supporters of Edward II and leaders of the group of men who temporarily freed the former king from Berkeley Castle in 1327. You can also read about them, their allies and their plot to free Edward here, here and here.

Stephen Dunheved

Stephen was the eldest son of John Dunheved of Dunchurch, Warwickshire, though I have no idea when he and his siblings were born - presumably between 1275 and 1295. Stephen's paternal grandmother Christiane, daughter of Jordan Butler, was born before 1223, and his father John Dunheved was born sometime before 1260 and died between May 1305 and March 1309, leaving a widow Eustachia, Stephen's mother or stepmother. [1] Stephen inherited the manor of Dunchurch, on Dunsmore Heath near Rugby, on his father's death. He was certainly not a Dominican friar and Edward II's confessor, as stated in Paul Doherty's The Darkening Glass and in the author's note at the end.

Stephen is extremely difficult to trace before 1322, unlike his younger brother John, who was frequently in trouble with the law and was accused of rape and assault, pardoned for outlawry, and murdered a man with a crossbow in 1325. At some date, probably in 1321, Stephen committed a serious felony (murder?) and abjured the realm, that is, voluntarily exiled himself from England for life to avoid execution. He had returned by mid-February 1322, when he is found as a 'valet' of Edward II's chamber, and Edward appointed him custodian of Lyonshall Castle and ordered him to make inquisition into the goods and chattels of four of the king’s baronial enemies. [2] I have a theory about Stephen: Hugh Despenser the Younger, banished from England by the Marcher lords in August 1321, became a pirate in the English channel, and I think Stephen may have joined him. I can't prove it, but the pardon for the felony and permission to return to England after abjuring the realm could only have been granted by Edward II, and as Stephen not only returned to England but entered Edward's household, this suggests royal favour. Stephen also appeared as a member of Edward's household at about the same time that Despenser returned to England, and it may be that Despenser asked Edward to give Stephen the pardon and a position in the royal household. That's only speculation, though. Maybe I'm just being imaginative.

Stephen only acted as constable of Lyonshall Castle for a couple of months, and thereafter, is pretty obscure for the rest of Edward's reign. I presume, however, from later events, that he must have remained close to the king. Stephen's brother Thomas was with Edward when the king was wandering around Wales at the end of his reign, and it may be that the 'Stephen Dun' pardoned in March 1327 as one of the garrison who held out at Caerphilly - stronghold of Hugh Despenser and the only centre of resistance to the new regime - was in fact Stephen Dunheved. (Or maybe not.) [3] Other men who joined the brothers in freeing the former king in 1327 were still in Wales with Edward in late 1326, for example Roger atte Watre, another member of the Caerphilly garrison, and Thomas de la Haye, one of Edward's sergeant-at-arms.

It was probably in mid or late June 1327 that the Dunheved brothers and their allies attacked Berkeley Castle and succeeded, temporarily at least, in taking the former Edward II. Lord Berkeley wrote a letter to the chancellor John Hothum on 27 July, saying that the Dunheveds and their allies ravi Edward from his custody, which can be translated as 'abducted', 'seized' or 'snatched away'.

Either the gang were forced to flee without Edward or they got him out of the castle but he was recaptured shortly afterwards, and the men scattered; there are many entries on the calendared rolls in the summer and autumn of 1327 ordering the arrest of 'malefactors' and those who helped them evade capture in places as far apart as Cheshire, Dorset and Bedfordshire, and references to 'enemies of the realm' who had escaped abroad and were 'betraying the secrets of the realm'. Stephen Dunheved fled to London, and on 1 July, the mayor and sheriffs of the city were ordered to arrest him. [4] The Annales Paulini confirms that he was captured in the city. [5] Stephen was sent to Newgate prison, but managed to escape shortly before 7 June 1329, when an entry on the Close Roll says that he "wanders at large against the king's will." [6] Perhaps in response to this, Newgate was ordered to be strengthened and repaired some months later, as it was "so weak and threatened with ruin that the prisoners therein cannot be kept safely." [7] Stephen is next found on 31 March 1330, when his name appears on a list of dozens of men to be arrested for aiding the earl of Kent in his attempts to free the supposedly dead Edward II and restore him to the throne. [8]

I haven't been able to trace Stephen at all after this date. In a way, this is positive, in a 'no news is good news' kind of way, as it implies that he went into hiding or fled the country, because if he had been found and arrested, there would probably be references to it somewhere. Other men who joined the Dunheveds in 1327 - Peter de la Rokele and Roger atte Watre - disappear from the records between the summer of 1327 and late 1330 and crop up again in early 1331, which perhaps implies that they had fled abroad and returned after Edward III overthrew Roger Mortimer in October 1330, or had been imprisoned and were released. (More speculation, but given the secrecy of the Dunheveds' plot to free Edward and the subsequent disappearance of most of the men who took part in it, there's not much else I can do.) But Stephen doesn't appear again in any record that I've found. I hope he had gone overseas and decided to stay there and make a new life for himself. I hope he thrived.

Thomas Dunheved

Thomas, one of Stephen's three brothers, was a Dominican friar, an order much favoured and patronised by Edward II. Several secondary sources claim that he was Edward's confessor, but I haven't found any evidence to confirm that (Edward had three confessors during his reign: John Lenham, Robert Duffield and Luke Woodford). Thomas was made a papal chaplain in September 1325, which evidently went to his head, as John XXII wrote to the prior provincial of the Dominicans in July 1326 asking him to "keep under obedience and correct" Thomas, who, since becoming papal chaplain, "considers himself thereby freed from observance of the rule." [9] The Lanercost chronicle calls Thomas "a man of religion, acting irreligiously." [10] Given that Thomas was heavily involved in the attack on Berkeley Castle in 1327 and that the pope chastised him for disobeying the rule of his order, that seems a reasonable enough comment.

Edward sent Thomas with letters to the pope in 1325, and Lanercost and Annales Paulini report an improbable rumour that the king had sent him to persuade John XXII to annul his marriage to Isabella. [11] I'm not going to go into the many reasons why it is almost impossible to believe that Edward would have done this in 1324 or 1325, not least because there is no corroborating evidence whatsoever, and John XXII's own letter to Edward makes it clear that the king had in fact sent Thomas to the pope with letters spelling out his grievances against Alexander Bicknor, archbishop of Dublin. [12]

Thomas remained with Edward II in Wales in late 1326, and was paid for carrying the king's letters to Hugh Despenser (the Younger) - which itself is interesting, as it obviously means that Edward and Despenser were apart at least some of the time shortly before their arrest and downfall. [13] After Edward's deposition, Lanercost says that Thomas "travelled through England, not only secretly but even openly, stirring up the people of the south and north to rise for the deposed and imprisoned king and restore the kingdom to him." The Brut says that the "Friar Preachers [Dominicans] to him [Edward] were good friends evermore, and cast and ordained, both night and day, how they might bring him out of prison," and that Thomas "ordained and gathered a great company of folk for to help at that need." [14]

According to the Annales Paulini, Thomas was captured at Budbrooke in Warwickshire after the attack on Berkeley, though the date the annalist gives for his capture, c. 11 June 1327, cannot be correct, as Thomas was still at liberty when Thomas Berkeley wrote his letter on 27 July naming him as one of the attackers, and 11 June probably predates the attack on Berkeley Castle anyway. Thomas was taken to Queen Isabella, then sent to prison at Pontefract, where he tried to escape and was thrown into a dungeon and died in misery. Several other chronicles noticed his demise and the reasons for it: Lanercost, Croniques de London and the Brut, though the Croniques says he and many of his co-conspirators were "put in hard prison" at York (mis en dure prisoun a Everwik), thirty miles from Pontefract. [15] Although Lanercost says that Thomas,"that foolish friar," died in prison, it also claims that he played a role in Kent's conspiracy of 1330, by raising a devil who told Kent that Edward II was still alive. [16] Plausibility of devil-raising aside, I think it's highly likely - unfortunately - that Thomas was in fact dead by 1330. Thomas and Stephen's brother John was still alive in February 1338, when he acknowledged a debt of 200 pounds to Henry Beaumont. He had played no role in their plot to free Edward, and in fact was pardoned, probably for his 1325 murder of (his cousin?) Oliver Dunheved, on 5 May 1327, the day after Stephen was to be arrested and taken to Isabella. [17]


1) http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=57101; Calendar of Close Rolls 1302-1307, p. 269; Calendar of Patent Rolls 1307-1313, p. 97.
2) Calendar of Fine Rolls 1319-1327, pp. 95, 101.
3) Cal Pat Rolls 1327-1330, p. 38.
4) Cal Close Rolls 1327-1330, p. 146.
5) Annales Paulini, in Chronicles of the Reigns of Edward I and Edward II, ed. W. Stubbs, vol. 1, p. 337.
6) Cal Close Rolls 1327-1330, p. 549.
7) Cal Close Rolls 1330-1333, pp. 1, 47.
8) Cal Fine Rolls 1327-1337, p. 169.
9) Calendar of Papal Letters 1305-1342, pp. 253, 479.
10) The Chronicle of Lanercost 1272-1346, ed. Herbert Maxwell, p. 249.
11) Annales Paulini, p. 337; Lanercost, p. 249.
12) Cal Papal Letters, p. 474.
13) SAL MS 122, folio 34.
14) Lanercost, pp. 258-9; The Brut, ed. F. W. D. Brie, p. 249.
15) Annales Paulini, p. 337; Lanercost, p. 259; Croniques de London Depuis L'an 44 Hen. III. Jusqu' à L'an 17 Edw. III, ed. J. G. Aungier, p. 58; Brut, p. 249.
16) Lanercost, pp. 264-5.
17) Cal Close Rolls 1337-1339, p. 383; Cal Pat Rolls 1327-1330, pp. 51, 99.

20 March, 2009

Edward II's Claim to Castile and Provence

A newsletter of late 1306, describing the visit of a Spanish cardinal to England, made the astonishing claim that the magnates of Castile had agreed that they would offer the Castilian throne to (the future) Edward II, should his cousin Fernando IV die without a son. And in 1323, Edward tried to claim a share of the county of Provence, as his inheritance from his grandmother Eleanor of Provence. Here's some more information.


As far as I can work out, Edward II is one of only two English monarchs with a Spanish parent, Mary Tudor being the other. In December 1306, a papal nuncio named Pedro, Castilian by birth and cardinal-bishop of Santa Sabina, visited England, and Edward I remarked to him that "he should have a special affection for our dear son Edward, as he [Edward] is of Spanish descent." According to a contemporary newsletter, Pedro had entered into an indenture with the magnates of Castile that Edward, as the son of King Alfonso X’s half-sister Eleanor, would succeed as king of Castile should his cousin Fernando IV die without a male heir.

This story, if true, strikes me as extraordinary; Edward II's mother Eleanor (or Leonor) had seven older half-brothers, and surely there must have been many more candidates for the throne than Edward, through the male line. But there had been a lot of conflict in Castile regarding the succession to the throne. Eleanor's eldest half-brother Alfonso X fathered five sons. The eldest, Fernando de la Cerda ('of the bristle'), predeceased him, leaving two young sons, Alfonso and Fernando. Alfonso X wished his throne to pass to his elder grandson Alfonso, but his second son Sancho demanded that he be made heir to the throne, and precipitated a bloody civil war in 1282. When Alfonso X died in April 1284 - the month his nephew Edward II was born - Sancho seized the throne as Sancho IV. He died in April 1295, leaving a nine-year-old son, Fernando IV. Sancho's brother Juan, the fourth son of Alfonso X, claimed the throne, claiming that his nephew Fernando was illegitimate. The kings of Portugal and Aragon took advantage of the chaos and invaded Castile in 1296, intending to divide the country between them, and the de la Cerda brothers, grandsons of Alfonso X, also continued to claim the throne.

Only Fernando's redoubtable mother Queen Maria de Molina - another close relative of Edward II - saved his throne, and in 1301, when Fernando turned sixteen, the pope finally declared that he was indeed legitimate. Fernando was, however, or at least was perceived by his nobles to be, a weak and ineffectual king, and they were unremittingly hostile to him. He compounded his faults by failing to father a son until he'd been married for ten years.

Given all this, maybe it isn't surprising that the Castilian magnates preferred the thought of the prince of Wales acceding to the throne (assuming the newsletter was correct). Whether Edward would ever have become king of Castile is a fascinating 'what if?', but Fernando IV finally fathered a son, Alfonso XI, in 1311, and thus spared Castile the trauma of being ruled by Edward II.


In February 1323, Edward II suddenly took it into his head to try to claim a share of Provence, and wrote several letters to this effect to Pope John XXII, asking for his help. His grandmother Queen Eleanor was the second of the four daughters of Count Raymond-Berenger V of Provence, while the third sister, Sanchia, married Richard of Cornwall, brother of Edward’s grandfather Henry III; Edward was also her heir. Maybe Edward thought that as the heir of two of the four sisters, he had a good claim. In fact he didn't, as Raymond-Berenger had left the entire county to his fourth daughter Beatrice in his will - to the fury of her sisters, who spent many years asserting their rights to Provence.

Edward also wrote to Beatrice’s grandson Robert, titular king of Jerusalem and Sicily, count of Provence and Edward's second cousin, asking him to "restore to the king amicably" the portions of the county that Edward said fell to him by inheritance. Thomas of Lancaster, another grandson of Eleanor of Provence, had also tried to claim part of the county, and John XXII rebuked him in early 1322 for failing to write courteously enough of Robert of Sicily. Queen Eleanor had transferred her claim to Provence to her Lancaster grandsons Thomas and Henry in May 1286, with reversion to Eleanor’s heirs, i.e. Edward I and Edward II, and Edward confirmed the Lancasters’ rights in the county in June 1319.

Although Edward wrote again to the pope and Robert of Sicily in August 1323, nothing came of it - John XXII politely informed him that he was unable to use his influence with Robert regarding the matter - and he abandoned his efforts. Oh well, it was worth a try, I suppose.


Peter Linehan, ‘The English Mission of Cardinal Petrus Hispanus, the Chronicle of Walter of Guisborough, and news from Castile at Carlisle (1307)’, English Historical Review, 117 (2002), pp. 615-20; Hilda Johnstone, Edward of Carnarvon 1284-1307 (1946), pp. 118-121.

Calendar of Close Rolls 1318-1323, p. 697; Cal Close Rolls 1323-1327, p. 136; Foedera II, i, pp. 396, 507, 531, 534; Calendar of Papal Letters 1305-1342, pp. 447, 455-456; Calendar of Patent Rolls 1281-1292, p. 243; Cal Pat Rolls 1317-1321, p. 341; Nancy Goldstone, Four Queens: The Provençal Sisters Who Ruled Europe (2007), pp. 106-8, 111-12, etc.

16 March, 2009

Aftermath of the Battle of Boroughbridge, 1322

Today marks the 687th anniversary of the battle of Boroughbridge on 16 March 1322, when Andrew Harclay, sheriff of Cumberland, defeated the earls of Lancaster and Hereford and Edward II's other baronial enemies, whom the king had taken to calling the 'Contrariants'. I'm not writing an account of the battle itself - I'm pretty rubbish at describing military tactics and battles, and besides, accounts of Boroughbridge can be found all over the internet (here's an excellent one) and in numerous books. So instead, a look at a little-known aspect of the battle: the capture of the rebel combatants and the seizure of their possessions.

The Vita Edwardi Secundi gives an account of how the knights and noblemen who fought at Boroughbridge tried to escape:

"Some left their horses and putting off their armour looked round for ancient worn‑out garments, and took to the road as beggars. But their caution was of no avail, for not a single well‑known man among them all escaped. O calamity! To see men lately dressed in purple and fine linen now attired in rags and imprisoned in chains!"

The bit beginning "O calamity!" is one of the misused quotations of Edward II's reign; I've seen too many secondary sources pretend that the author was referring to Edward's tyranny from 1322 onwards, and I've never seen any book quote the sentence that immediately follows, where the chronicler - who hated the Contrariants even more than he hated the Despensers - describes the royalist victory as "A marvellous thing, and one indeed brought about by God’s will and aid, that so scanty a company should in a moment overcome so many knights." The Vita also says that in 1322 the Contrariants "killed those who opposed them, plundered those who offered no resistance, sparing no one." [1]

Other Boroughbridge combatants tried to flee the country or to hide by donning religious habits. [2] Edward II sent men of his household to round up the fleeing Contrariants and seize their goods, and many inhabitants of Yorkshire joined in the hunt. [3] Here are a few details of the men who were arrested and their possessions:

- Stephen Baret, John Haunsard and 3 of their men, captured by the constable of Knaresborough Castle, must have been among those who threw away all their possessions, as they were "taken bare." Baret was executed in South Wales shortly afterwards; Haunsard was still in prison in 1326.

- 11 men were captured 35 miles away at Selby the day after the battle ("on the morrow of the discomfiture at Boroughbridge"), and their goods were sent to the king. They included: a pair of silk garters adorned with silver and red enamel with a cross bar of silver, a "great silver chain containing twelve links with a pipe at the end," 12 buttons of green glass adorned with silver gilt, 8 buttons of silver wire and 5 of white silver, 7 pearls the size of peas, 2 great chains, "one containing 31 links with a silver tirret, and the other 25 links with a silver tirret," a purse of silk worth a mark, a book worth 10 shillings, 8 horses, 6 silver dishes, 2 "worn swords" and 23 shillings in coin. "No other goods of the said prisoners were found except a worn dagger and such things as were stolen by thieves and were of no value."

- the villagers of Luttrington took 60 shillings from the Contrariants, and the men of four other villages found "arms, coats and overcoats" worth 40 shillings.

- The excellently-named Nogge of Luttrington found unspecified "arms and goods" of the rebels in the local wood.

- William de Lascy, vicar of Sherburn, and Nicholas atte Tounhend of Luttrington took "2 grooms of the house" of Sir Henry Tyes (executed in London shortly after the battle), 3 horses, a pack and 2 closed coffers.

- "John de Barnebi and Hugh de Pontefracto took 3 prisoners with 2 horses and 9s 6d and a bacinet, and allowed the prisoners to escape."

- 7 combatants were captured at Ripon 2 days after the battle, by 7 men who seem to have been inhabitants of the town rather than members of Edward II's household, and imprisoned in the archbishop of York's gaol in Ripon. They gave up 7 horses, 4 haketons, 6 bacinets, gauntlets, "swords, bucklers and other small arms," 9 ells of striped cloth and a bed belonging to William Dautery (one of the men captured), to a total value of 10 pounds. A man named James Dautery, presumably a relative, was also imprisoned at Ripon and handed over a hackney worth 6 shillings and 8p.

- the possessions the earl of Hereford had stored at Fountains Abbey were sent to Andrew Harclay, including a gold cup, a silver cup, 40 dishes and 2 horses worth 3 pounds.

- William Comine fled to the church of Escrick, where "acknowledging himself to be a felon" he gave himself up to the rector, Simon de Munketon, and handed over to him the 7 shillings, 2 and a half pence he was carrying, and his sword and a horn.

- William Puncy surrendered to the abbot of Fountains and gave him his silver cups, dishes and saucers. His 2 horses, each worth 30 shillings, were seized at Fountains, as well as a haketon worth 10 shillings, a horn and 14 shillings in cash, and he was imprisoned at Ripon. "Hugh fiz Ivon had of the said enemy a cup and ewer of silver of the price of 40s; Thomas de Doncaster and James de Stow had a little hackney of the price of 5s."

- 10 men of Boroughbridge, including John de Schirwod, Nicholas de Scalton and Richard de Tanfeld, rode out of the town "and pursued the enemy," each receving spoils of 6 marks and more.

- Matthew atte Halyat of Sherburn seized a red doublet worth 40 marks which belonged to Sir John Giffard, and John Ryther took possession of a "coat of armour of great price, and a pack with robes and good furs" belonging to John, Lord Mowbray. He also captured Mowbray's clerk Richard. Mowbray himself was hanged in York on 23 March.

- 2 men found "a beast with diverse arms" in the wood of ‘Bolwelwod’.

- John de Roucestre and his companions "took a knight and a lady with 2 palfreys and goods."

- "Laurence de Ledewodhouses found 2 coffers and the whole harness for a knight with a barehide."

- John son of William de Quixlay took 2 empty chests and "venison of unknown quantity" from Richard le Walays, and Geoffrey Braban took Walays' 2 bacon pigs and a white hackney.

- 2 horses belonging to the Lancastrian knight John Eure were found "at the park of Helagh" and "forcibly taken away by the men of Tadecastre" (Tadcaster), and his 4 other horses were found in the woods at Catherton. Eure's shield, lance, habergeon, leg-guards and plate shoes were found at Bilton. Eure himself was beheaded in Bishop's Auckland by 14 of Edward II's supporters, without Edward's knowledge or consent. Edward fumed that "malefactors" had killed Eure "while he was in the king's faith and peace," asserting "that he was the king's enemy, which he was not" (though he did pardon the killers). [4]

- men of Merston found 7 horses, armour and weapons, including a pair of plate gloves, a pair of cuisses, a pair of leg-guards, 4 swords, 3 lances and 2 pikes, and also a pair of shoes and a silver spoon. 1 of the horses belonged to the minstrel John le Boteler, called 'Burning King'.

- Alan, Robert and William le Pakker found 2 "empty chests with torches of wax." William of Sherburn found a bay horse and 2 empty chests.

- "Certain grooms, alleging themselves to be with the esquires of the king's chamber," found 2 pairs of leg guards, 2 pairs of shoes with cuisses, 2 bacinets with adventails, a coat of armour, a "saddle for a pack," a tunic, a barrel and a bridle.

- John del Grene found a horse and a lance belonging to Thomas Ughtred.

- "Fr. de Ledgraunge took a hackney in the park of Heselwod."

- John de Fenton took a rouncy worth 20s, a a habergeon and a haketon worth 10s, and John son of Emma of Sherburn found 2 horses, 1 bay worth 20s, and 1 iron-grey worth 2s - perhaps belonging to Adam Everyngham, below.

- Edward II's sergeant-at-arms Roger atte Watre - one of the Dunheved gang who temporarily freed the former king from Berkeley Castle in 1327 - seized a destrier and 2 rouncies of the Lancastrian knight Nicholas Stapelton at Drax Abbey. Stapelton himself was handed over to the custody of the bailiffs of York, and imprisoned there "with a bed and a robe." Other men imprisoned in York included Sir Robert Ryther, with a bed and 2 robes; Nicholas de Burgh, "with a sorel hackney, a seal, a sword, a trunk and the clothes he was wearing"; Edmund de Ryvers with a haketon and a black cloak; Sir Adam Everyngham with "a bed, 2 robes and 2 horses, one bay and other iron-grey"; Robert de Puntfrayt with a sword and the clothes he was wearing; Thomas de Stretford, groom, with an iron-grey courser.

- "Robert de Bretton and Denys de Mareis and others, their companions, took a man at arms and 8 other rebels at Athelsay and a horse of the price of 40s, and 6 pieces and dishes of silver."

- Sir Peter de Midelton found at Sherburn a black rouncey worth 100s, a white horse worth 40s, a 'pomel horse' worth 40s, and a bay horse worth 4s.


1) Vita Edwardi Secundi, ed. N. Denholm-Young (1957), pp. 121, 124-125.
2) Calendar of Close Rolls 1318-1323, pp. 534-535.
3) Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous (Chancery) 1308-1348, pp. 129-134.
4) Cal Close Rolls 1318-1323, pp. 430, 474; Calendar of Patent Rolls 1321-1324, pp. 127-128.

12 March, 2009

Inspirational Blog Searches

Edward II's inspirational poster, from Motivator, via Susan Higginbotham:

Some blog searches from the last few days:

Edward II really deformed?

was edward ii selfish? Yup, probably.

why was king II edward week

kind edward II Actually, Edward was extremely kind and generous when he felt like it. Also extraordinarily vindictive, of course.

Edward II in sympathetic terms

what good things did edward ii do for england Abdicate?

the ghost of the King Edward who was horrificly died in the Berkely Castle

Edward II sop dancer
why was edward second's reign a disaster in 1323 Only in 1323?

Eleanor of Woodstock naked


marguerite de valois + obesity

Hugh Despenser the Younger got his c*ck cut off (Without the asterisk.) The number of people who hit this blog looking for information about Hugh Despenser's genitals is quite astonishing.

hugh le despenser 2006 bones

queen isabella 1 rein spain

what was spain like in 1326?

Did William Wallace and the Queen of Edward 2 of England have a child together Here we go again.

lord brother marries sister england

are elizabeths sometimes called margaret?

altogether how many men were killed during corfe castle

what happened when caernarfon castle was burnt in 1294 Umm, it burnt?

why was eynsford castle not used after 1312

"poor alice" dumped

cool names for quake

insulting nicknames for men from Herefordshire

insulting names for tall people

what is queen isabella a lover of? Money, jewellery and Roger Mortimer, not necessarily in that order.

isabella the she wolf carpet plantagenet I assume 'carpet' was meant to be 'Capet'.

what crimes is Queen Isabella of france charged with

anyone think queen isabella of castile was horrible/

isabella tart

queen isabellas inventions

queen isabella's mom and dad

What is an interesting story on queen isabella

piers gaveston soap opera

Gloucester Cathedral nicknamed king of games

what are some interesting facts about polled herefords? I don't even know what 'polled herefords' are.

Ferrando Valentin is the king of England

1332 god v ispaniq

la grace de dieu lamps how much are they worth

in 1296 to 1327 between england and scotland what happend

medieval execution of women pictures

when does Edward first bite Isabella Clearly a reference to Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series about vampires (the main characters are called Edward and Bella), but that one certainly gave me a vivid mental image.

07 March, 2009

Brief Biographies (6): The Other Two Margaret De Clares

Regular readers of this blog will know about Margaret de Clare, Edward II's niece, who married Piers Gaveston and Hugh Audley. What is not nearly as well-known is that there were two more Margaret de Clares of the era, the aunt and cousin of the famous Margaret de Clare. Here's a post about them.

Margaret de Clare, the aunt

Margaret was born in 1249 or 1250, daughter of Richard de Clare, earl of Gloucester (1222-1262) and Maud de Lacy, daughter of the earl of Lincoln (died 1288/89). Her siblings were: Gilbert 'the Red', earl of Gloucester; Thomas, lord of Thomond; Bogo, a rich and scandalous cleric; Isabel, who married William VII, marchese of Montferrat; Rohese, who married Sir Roger Mowbray; and the oddly-named Eglentina, died young.

On 6 October 1272, Margaret married Edmund, earl of Cornwall, at Ruislip in Middlesex. Edmund was born on 26 December 1249, son of Henry III's brother Richard of Cornwall and Sanchia, sister of Eleanor of Provence - which means that he had all four grandparents in common with Edward I, and was also the first cousin of Philip III of France and of Charles 'the Lame', king of Sicily. Edmund succeeded his father as earl of Cornwall on Richard's death in April 1272, his elder half-brother Henry of Almain having been murdered in Italy in March 1271 by two of Simon de Montfort's sons.

Unfortunately, Margaret and Edmund's marriage proved utterly disastrous. Although Margaret was pregnant in January 1285, she must either have miscarried or suffered a stillbirth, and the couple's childlessness may have contributed to their awful marital difficulties. [1] Margaret accused of Edmund of cruelty and neglect and even alleged that she went in fear of her life from him - whether that's true or not, I don't know. [2] Certainly Edmund refused to cohabit with Margaret - at least from 1285 onwards - and their marriage became the subject of a papal investigation in 1289. The following year, John Pecham, archbishop of Canterbury, excommunicated Edmund. The couple officially separated in 1294 and Edmund granted Margaret lands worth £800 annually for the rest of her life, while Margaret took vows of chastity, to last until Edmund's death.

Edmund died shortly before 25 September 1300 at the age of fifty, and his heart and flesh were buried in early 1301 at Ashridge Priory in Hertfordshire, which he had founded in 1283. Sixteen-year-old Edward of Caernarfon attended the funeral, representing his father Edward I. Edmund's bones were later buried at Hailes Abbey in Gloucestershire, which his father Richard had founded in 1246 and where he (Richard) and Edmund's mother Sanchia were buried. Countess Margaret continued to live quietly and somewhat obscurely, and never remarried. In 1303, she lent £69 to her nephew Gilbert de Clare - son of Margaret's brother Thomas, lord of Thomond - and in March 1308, was granted all the 'liberties' that her former husband and his father "were wont to use in their lands" by Edward II. [3]

On 1 November 1307, Margaret's niece married Piers Gaveston and became countess of Cornwall, so that there were, confusingly, two Margaret de Clares, countesses of Cornwall. On 5 August 1309, after Piers Gaveston had returned from his second exile and was restored to the earldom, Margaret was ordered to "render fealty" to Piers and her niece for the dower lands she held in Rutland. [4] Margaret was living at Harewell in Berkshire in late 1311, when Queen Isabella sent her letters there. Isabella also dispatched "various precious goods" to Margaret's very pregnant niece Margaret Gaveston (Isabella's niece by marriage) at Wallingford. [5] Margaret died shortly before 16 September 1312, in her early sixties, and was buried at Chertsey Abbey. The lands granted to her by Edmund passed to Edward II; not because he was king, but to him personally, as Edmund of Cornwall's heir - because Edmund had no children, nieces or nephews, his nearest male relative was his first cousin Edward I, and then Edward II. The order to the escheator this side Trent calls them "the lands which Margaret, countess of Cornwall, deceased, held in dower of the king's inheritance." Edward granted Margaret's lands immediately to Margaret Gaveston, recently widowed, to hold for her sustenance until he could make other provision for her. [6]

Margaret de Clare, the cousin

This Margaret was the daughter of Thomas de Clare, lord of Thomond and Juliane Fitzgerald or Fitzmaurice, and was the niece of Gilbert 'the Red' and Margaret de Clare, above, and the first cousin of Margaret de Clare Gaveston. She was born on or about 1 April 1287 at Bunratty Castle in Ireland. Her brother Gilbert (born 1281) married Hugh Despenser the Elder's daughter Isabel in about 1306, was a member of Edward II's household before he became king, and died childless in November 1307. Her other brother Richard died in June 1318, leaving a baby son Thomas. Thomas died in April 1321, which left Margaret and her sister Maud - wife of Robert Clifford, who was killed at Bannockburn in 1314 - as heirs to the lordship of Thomond.

Margaret married firstly Gilbert de Umfraville, son of the earl of Angus, with whom she had no children. Gilbert died in about 1303. She married secondly, sometime before June 1308, Bartholomew, Lord Badlesmere, an influential knight in the retinue of Margaret's first cousin Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester, who became steward of Edward II's household in 1318. The couple had five children: Giles, Elizabeth, Margery, Maud and Margaret.

In 1319, Margaret was staying at Cheshunt in Hertfordshire, when she had the misfortune to be held hostage by a group of more than sixty men and women, who demanded a ransom of £100. She was imprisoned overnight until a knight in shining armour rode to her rescue the following day – Hugh Despenser the Younger. [7] Edward II imprisoned twenty of the men responsible at Hertford Castle and then at the Tower of London when Bartholomew Badlesmere was still his loyal steward, but in November 1321, with Bartholomew now his enemy, he pardoned them. [8]

After the Despenser War in 1321, when the Marcher lords attacked the Despensers' lands in Wales and England, Margaret's husband Bartholomew - presumably angry at the Despensers' dominance over Edward II, which drastically limited his influence - switched sides and joined the Marchers. This would prove to be a tragic decision; Edward thereafter loathed Bartholomew, and the earl of Lancaster, leader of the opposition to Edward and the Despensers, loathed him already. Margaret Badlesmere is most famous for being the person who refused Queen Isabella entry to Leeds Castle in October 1321, which gave Edward the excuse he needed to mount a campaign against the Marchers.

Edward II, never a man to forgive and forget a betrayal, pointedly excluded Bartholomew by name from the safe-conducts he offered the other Marchers in early 1322. [9] Following the Marchers' defeat at Boroughbridge on 16 March 1322, Bartholomew sought refuge at his nephew the bishop of Lincoln's manor of Stowe Park, but was captured by Edward's Scottish friend Donald of Mar and died a terrible death in April 1322 - dragged the three miles from Canterbury to the crossroads at Blean, hanged, drawn and quartered. [10] The events of 1322 hit Margaret hard: not only did her husband suffer grotesque execution, but her nephew Roger Clifford was hanged in York in March 1322, as was her first cousin John Mowbray (son of Rohese de Clare, sister of Margaret's father). However, Margaret's brother-in-law Sir Robert de Welle - who had married her widowed sister Maud Clifford in 1315 - remained loyal to the king, until at least August 1326, and Edward granted 'the wardenship of the hospital of St Nicholas, Pontefract' to Robert Woodhouse at Welle's request the day after his stepson Roger Clifford's execution. [11]

Margaret and her young children, and her husband's adult nephew Bartholomew Burghersh, were imprisoned at Dover Castle then the Tower of London following the surrender of Leeds Castle on 31 October 1321. She was released on 3 November 1322, and went to live at the convent of the Minorites at Aldgate; Edward II granted her two shillings a day for her sustenance. On 1 July 1324, Edward granted Margaret permission "to go to her friends within the realm whither she will, provided that she be always ready to come to the king when summoned," and continued to give her two shillings a day. [12]

Margaret died sometime between 22 October 1333 and 3 January 1334, at the age of forty-six. Her only son Giles, born on 18 October 1314, married Elizabeth Montacute, daughter of Edward III's great friend the earl of Salisbury, and died childless on 7 June 1338, leaving his four sisters as his co-heirs. Margaret's daughter Elizabeth married firstly Roger Mortimer's eldest son and heir Edmund, then Edward II's nephew William de Bohun; Margaret de Clare Badlesmere was thus the grandmother of Roger Mortimer the Younger, second earl of March (1328-1360), and of Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford and Northampton (1342-1373). Through her daughter Maud, Margaret was also the grandmother of Thomas de Vere, eighth earl of Oxford (c. 1336-1371) and Aubrey de Vere, tenth earl of Oxford (c. 1338-1400), and the great-grandmother of Richard II's notorious favourite Robert de Vere, ninth earl of Oxford and duke of Ireland (1362-1392).


1) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Edmund of Cornwall entry.
2) Jennifer C. Ward, English Noblewomen in the Later Middle Ages (1992), p. 31; Michael Altschul, A Baronial Family in Medieval England: The de Clares, 1217-1314 (1965), pp. 35-36.
3) Calendar of Close Rolls 1301-1307, p. 89; Cal Close Rolls 1307-1313, p. 55.
4) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1307-1313, p. 187.
5) The Household Book of Queen Isabella of England, for the fifth regnal year of Edward II (8 July 1311 to 7 July 1312), ed. F. D. Blackley and Gustav Hermansen (1971), p. 139.
6) Calendar of Fine Rolls 1307-1319, p. 146; Cal Pat Rolls 1307-1313, pp. 497, 502.
7) Cal Pat Rolls 1317-1321, p. 473.
8) Cal Close Rolls 1318-1323, p. 267; Cal Pat Rolls 1321-1324, p. 37.
9) Cal Pat Rolls 1321-1324, pp. 47-48, 51, 70, 71, 76.
10) The Brut, ed. F. W. D. Brie, vol. 1, p. 221. Le Livere de Reis de Britanie e le Livere de Reis de Engletere, ed. John Glover, pp. 341-343, says Bartholomew was captured "in a small wood near Brickden."
11) Cal Pat Rolls 1321-1324, p. 85, and see also p. 193 and Cal Pat Rolls 1324-1327, p. 315.
12) Cal Close Rolls 1318-1323, pp. 604, 627; Cal Close Rolls 1323-1327, pp. 46, 48, 120, 236.

04 March, 2009

Anagrams and Tombstones

Because I'm in a silly mood today, here's a silly post featuring anagrams and tombstones, and a link to Susan Higginbotham's post 'The Reign of Edward II as Told by LolCats'.

Courtesy of Anagram Genius:

Piers Gaveston:

So, regent's a VIP
O, VIP greatness

Piers Gaveston, earl of Cornwall:

Flawless evil or arrogant ponce
Farewell, arrogant VIP coolness
Now genial rascal perverts fool
Narrow, flavorless angelic poet
Love-lorn large wasps fornicate

Edward the Second:

Chewed, sad rodent
Chewed, sodden rat

Edward of Caernarfon, king of England:

Ranking wolf and offended arrogance
Flawed freak raging on cannon-fodder (Edward II at Bannockburn?)
An offended rancor of grand weakling

Isabella of France:

Affable, censorial
Noble facial fears

Isabella of France, queen of England:

An affable eloquence of slandering
An off-balance, fine, golden squealer
Slag conquered affable inane felon
An offendable, genial flea conquers

Roger Mortimer, lord of Wigmore:

I'm merrier or flogged tomorrow

Roger Mortimer, earl of March:

Trim, error-free macho glamor
Grrr! I'm a male comforter hero
Grrr! Carefree, immortal homo

Hugh Despenser the Younger:

Ugh! Gosh! Unrepented heresy
The sunny sheep grudge hero

Hugh Despenser the Younger, lord of Glamorgan:

Hugger-mugger on hero's daft, shapely Londoner
Sharp-nosedly flogged through green manure
O my God! Half-nude hero straggles up greenhorn
Sharp, tone-deaf, lush, gloomy, rugged greenhorn

And some tombstones courtesy of the Tombstone Generator, via Christy K. Robinson's Rooting For Ancestors: