Category Archives: British Royals

Eleanor of England, Countess of Leicester

by Susan Flantzer

Credit – Wikipedia

The third of the three daughters and the youngest of the five children of King John of England and Isabella of Angoulême, Eleanor was born in 1215 in Gloucester, England. She was given the name Eleanor in honor of her grandmother Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Eleanor had four siblings:

13th-century depiction of John and his legitimate children, (l to r) Henry, Richard, Isabella, Eleanor, and Joan; Credit – Wikipedia

Eleanor never knew her father.  On October 18, 1216, when Isabella was only a year old, her father King John died leaving his elder son King Henry III, a nine year old, to inherit his throne in the midst of the First Barons’ War (1215–17), in which a group of rebellious barons supported by a French army, made war on King John because of his refusal to accept and abide by the Magna Carta. In July of 1217, Eleanor’s mother Isabella of Angoulême left England and returned to France to assume control of her inheritance the County of Angoulême, basically abandoning her children by King John. In 1220, she married Hugh X of Lusignan, Count of La Marche with whom she had nine children, who were Eleanor’s half-siblings.

As a young child, Eleanor was promised in marriage to William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, the son of the great William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, who had served Eleanor’s grandfather King Henry II, her uncle King Richard I, her father King John and had been the Regent of her  brother King Henry III.   On April 23, 1224, nine-year-old Eleanor married 34-year-old William at the Temple Church in London.   Because of Eleanor’s young age, she remained at her brother’s court until 1229 when she moved into the household of her husband.   Eleanor accompanied William on his trips through England, France, and Ireland.  After a seven-year, childless marriage, William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke died on April 6, 1231, and was buried in the Temple Church in London, next to his father, where their effigies may still be seen.

Effigy of William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, Photo Credit – www.findagrave.com

After her husband’s death, 16-year-old Eleanor took a vow of chastity in the presence of Edmund Rich, the Archbishop of Canterbury.  Because of her age, Eleanor was placed under the guardianship of her brother King Henry III.   Henry made a financial agreement which was very unfavorable to Eleanor with Richard Marshal, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, the brother and heir of Eleanor’s dead husband.

Seven years later, at her brother’s court, Eleanor met Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, a younger son of Simon de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester, a French nobleman and crusader. With the consent of King Henry III, because Simon had allegedly seduced Eleanor, Eleanor and Simon were secretly married on January 7, 1238 in the king’s private chapel at the Palace of Westminster.  Two months later, the marriage became public.  Eleanor’s other brother, Richard, Earl of Cornwall, claimed that the marriage was not valid because it lacked the approval of the barons.  Edmund Rich, Archbishop of Canterbury condemned the marriage because Eleanor had taken a vow of chastity. The barons protested the marriage of their king’s sister to a foreigner of modest rank.  Simon was forced to go to Rome for papal approval of the marriage.

Eleanor and Simon had seven children:

In the early years of their marriage, Simon and Eleanor had good relations with Eleanor’s brother King Henry III. Their first child, born in November 1238, more than nine months after the wedding, was christened Henry in honor of his royal uncle. In February 1239, de Montfort was formally invested as the Earl of Leicester. He also acted as the king’s counselor and was one of the nine godfathers of Henry’s eldest son who would inherit the throne and become King Edward I.

King Henry III’s wife was Eleanor of Provence, the daughter of Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Provence and Beatrice of Savoy. Many of Eleanor’s maternal Savoy relatives came to the English court including uncles Pietro and Bonifacio. Pietro lived in England for a long time, served as a diplomat, and became Earl of Richmond. Bonifacio became Archbishop of Canterbury, a position secured by his niece’s husband King Henry III. In 1247, Henry’s half-brothers from his mother’s second marriage, the Lusignans came to England, and competed for lands and promotions with the queen’s Savoy relatives. Henry’s relatives were rewarded with large estates, largely at the expense of the English barons. From 1236 to 1258, the weak king fluctuated repeatedly between various advisers including his brother Richard of Cornwall and his Lusignan half-brothers, which greatly displeased the English barons. In addition, the English barons were displeased with Henry III’s demands for extra funds, Henry’s methods of government, and widespread famine.

The displeasure of the English nobility with the king, ultimately resulted in a civil war, the Second Barons’ War (1264–1267). The leader of the forces against Henry was led by Eleanor’s husband Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester. de Montfort wanted to reassert the Magna Carta and force the king to surrender more power to the baron’s council.

In 1264 at the Battle of Lewes, King Henry III and his son, the future King Edward I, were defeated and captured. Henry was forced to summon a parliament and to promise to rule with the advice of a council of barons. Henry was reduced to a figurehead king, and de Montfort broadened parliamentary representation to include groups beyond the nobility, members from each county of England and many important towns. Fifteen months later, Edward led the royalists into battle again, defeating and killing de Montfort and his eldest son Edward at the Battle of Evesham on August 4,  1265. de Montfort’s remains were brutally mutilated.  The remains that could be found were buried under the altar of Evesham Abbey.

In the years that followed his death, Simon de Montfort’s grave was frequently visited by pilgrims until King Henry III heard about it. He declared that de Montfort did not deserve burial on holy ground and had his remains reburied under an insignificant tree.  Evesham Abbey and the site of de Montfort’s grave were destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the reign of King Henry VIII.  In 1965, marking the 700th anniversary of de Montfort’s death, a memorial was laid on the site of the former altar of Evesham Abbey by Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Harry Hylton-Foster and Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Memorial stone on the site of Montfort’s grave; Photo Credit – By Smb1001 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2202776

Today, Simon de Montfort is considered as one of the fathers of representative government.  His contributions have been remembered over the years by the British Houses of Parliament.  A bas-relief of de Montfort hangs on the wall of the chamber of the United States House of Representatives where he is recognized as one of the 23 historical lawgivers.

Simon de Montfort marble bas-relief, one of 23 reliefs of great historical lawgivers in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives in the United States Capitol, sculpted by Gaetano Cecere in 1950; Credit – Wikipedia

After her husband’s death, Eleanor organized a defense of Dover Castle against royalist troops, but in October of 1265, the castle was taken by her nephew, Edward, Prince of Wales (the future King Edward I). Eleanor’s possessions were confiscated by the Crown and she was exiled to France with her 13-year-old daughter Eleanor.  She sought refuge at a de Montfort stronghold, Montargis Abbey, founded by her husband’s sister Amicia de Montfort. With the influence of King Louis IX of France, King Henry III paid his sister compensation for her confiscated lands and goods in 1367.  Eleanor lived the rest of her life as a nun at Montargis Abbey where she died on April 13, 1375 at the age of 60 and was buried.

Wikipedia: Eleanor of Leicester

Works Cited
Abrufstatistik. “Eleanor von England.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 5 Jan. 2017.
“Eleanor of Leicester.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Sept. 2016. Web. 5 Jan. 2017.
“Simon de Montfort, 6th earl of Leicester.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 8 Dec. 2016. Web. 5 Jan. 2017.
Susan. “King Henry III of England.” British Royals. Unofficial Royalty, 5 Sept. 2015. Web. 5 Jan. 2017.
Susan. “Isabella of Angoulême, queen of England.” British Royals. Unofficial Royalty, 23 Aug. 2016. Web. 5 Jan. 2017.

Isabella of England, Holy Roman Empress, Queen of Sicily

by Susan Flantzer

Credit – Wikipedia

Born in 1214, Isabella was the second daughter of the three daughters and the fourth of the five children of King John of England and Isabella of Angoulême.

Isabella had four siblings:

13th-century depiction of King John and his legitimate children, (l to r) Henry, Richard, Isabella, Eleanor, and Joan; Credit – Wikipedia

On October 18, 1216, when Isabella was only two years old, her father King John died leaving his elder son Henry, a nine year old, to inherit his throne in the midst of the First Barons’ War (1215–17), in which a group of rebellious barons supported by a French army, made war on King John because of his refusal to accept and abide by the Magna Carta. In July of 1217, Isabella’s mother Isabella of Angoulême left England and returned to France to assume control of her inheritance the County of Angoulême, basically abandoning her children by King John. In 1220, she married Hugh X of Lusignan, Count of La Marche with whom she had nine children, who were Isabella’s half-siblings. Two-year-old Isabella was left in charge of her nurse Margaret Bisset.

Around 1225, Isabella’s brother King Henry III held negotiations for two possible marriages for Isabella, with Heinrich who was the eldest son of Friedrich II, Holy Roman Emperor and with King Louis IX of France. However, both marriage projects failed. By 1228, Friedrich II, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Sicily had been widowed twice. In 1234, Friedrich met with Pope Gregory IX who suggested that he marry Isabella. Pope Gregory IX hoped such an alliance would promote a new English-German Crusade. Friedrich wished for more legitimate sons and also saw the marriage as a step towards promoting peace in Europe.

Friedrich II, Holy Roman Emperor; Credit – Wikipedia

In November 1234, Friedrich sent a delegation to England to negotiate a marriage contract. Friedrich agreed to give Isabella land in Sicily and Italy in return for a dowry of 30,000 silver marks. Count Heinrich II of Virneburg, Archbishop of Cologne and Henri I, Duke of Brabant arrived in London at Easter 1325 to escort Isabella to her groom. William Briwere, Bishop of Exeter headed up the English contingent escorting Isabella. On May 11, 1235, Isabella tearfully said goodbye to her brother King Henry III and embarked for Antwerp where she arrived four days later. Isabella was met at Antwerp by numerous armed nobles who escorted her to Cologne, fearful of an abduction of the bride by order of King Louis IX of France. Isabella spent about six weeks in Cologne.

In the beginning of July, escorted by the Archbishop of Cologne and the Bishop of Exeter, Isabella started her week-long journey to the city of Worms to meet her groom. 40-year-old Friedrich was immediately charmed by his 21-year-old bride. On July 15, 1235, in Worms Cathedral in the presence of clergy, nobility, dukes and kings, Isabella of England married Friedrich II, Holy Roman Emperor, and Isabella was crowned Holy Roman Empress, Queen of Germany and Sicily.

Marriage of Friedrich II, Holy Roman Emperor and Isabella of England; Credit – Wikipedia

After four days of wedding festivities, Isabella and Friedrich left for their honeymoon at the Imperial Palace in Haguenau, Alsace (now in France). It was at this point that Isabella had to say her farewells to the English contingent. Only two of her ladies were allowed to remain, her nurse Margaret Bisset and her servant Katherine. Isabella rarely appeared in public and had no political influence. She lived in seclusion mostly at the castle in Noventa Padovana, near Venice and Padua in present-day Italy.

There is controversy over how many children Isabella and Friedrich had, but they had at least four children:

Isabella died in Foggia, Apulia, Italy at the age of 27 on December 1, 1241, after giving birth to her last child. She was buried at Andria Cathedral in Andria, Apulia, Italy next to her husband’s second wife Queen Isabella II of Jerusalem (Yolande of Brienne), who also died after childbirth.

Crypt of Andria Cathedral where Isabella is buried; Photo Credit – Von Linx – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15921842

Wikipedia: Isabella of England, Holy Roman Empress, Queen of Sicily

Works Cited
Abrufstatistik. “Isabella von England.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 1 Jan. 2017.
“Frederick II, holy Roman Emperor.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Nov. 2016. Web. 1 Jan. 2017.
“Isabella of England.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Feb. 2016. Web. 1 Jan. 2017.
Susan. “Isabella of Angoulême, queen of England.” British Royals. Unofficial Royalty, 23 Aug. 2016. Web. 31 Dec. 2016.
Williamson, David. Brewer’s British Royalty. London: Cassell, 1996. Print.

Joan of England, Queen of Scotland

by Susan Flantzer

Credit – Wikipedia

The eldest of the three daughters and the third of the five children of King John of England and Isabella of Angoulême, Joan was born on July 22, 1210.

Joan had four siblings:

13th-century depiction of King John and his legitimate children, (l to r) Henry, Richard, Isabella, Eleanor, and Joan; Credit – Wikipedia

Being the eldest daughter of a king, Joan soon had royal suitors vying for her hand in marriage. King Philip II of France wanted Joan as a bride for one of his sons, but in 1214, when Joan was four years old, King John promised Joan to Hugh X de Lusignan, Count of La Marche. When Joan’s mother Isabella of Angoulême was 12 years old, she was betrothed to the same Hugh X de Lusignan. This marriage would have joined La Marche and Angoulême, and the de Lusignan family would then control a vast, rich and strategic territory between the two Plantagenet strongholds, Bordeaux and Poitier. To prevent this threat, King John of England decided to marry Isabella himself. Therefore, by promising his daughter in marriage to Hugh, King John was compensating Hugh for jilting him out of marrying Isabelle. In 1214, Joan was sent to be brought up at Hugh’s court until the marriage.

When she was six years old, Joan’s father King John died on October 18, 1216, leaving his eldest son Henry, a nine year old, to inherit his throne in the midst of the First Barons’ War (1215–17), in which a group of rebellious barons supported by a French army, made war on King John because of his refusal to accept and abide by the Magna Carta. In July of 1217, Joan’s mother Isabella left her son, King Henry III of England, in the care of his regent, William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, and returned to France to assume control of her inheritance, the County of Angoulême. There, Isabella once again met her jilted fiancé Hugh de Lusignan, now the 10th Count of La Marche. Upon seeing Isabella once again, Hugh decided that he preferred Joan’s still beautiful mother over her daughter. Isabella and Hugh married on May 10, 1220, and on May 15, 1220, Joan was sent back to England where negotiations for her a marriage with Alexander II, King of Scots were taking place.

Great Seal of Alexander II, King of Scots; Credit – Wikipedia

Twelve years older than Joan, Alexander II, King of Scots was the only son of William I, King of Scots (the Lion) and had become King of Scots in 1214 when he was sixteen years old. On June 21, 1221, at York Minster in York, England, eleven-year-old Joan married 23-year-old Alexander. Alexander’s court was dominated by his mother Dowager Queen Ermengarde and therefore, Joan’s position was not strong. Joan and Alexander never had any children, which left Alexander without an heir, a major issue for any king. An annulment of the marriage was risky as it could provoke war with England.

Joan accompanied her husband to York, England in September 1237 for talks with her brother King Henry III of England regarding the borders between Scotland and England. In York, Joan and her sister-in-law Eleanor of Provence agreed to make a pilgrimage to Thomas Becket’s shrine in Canterbury. The contemporary chronicler Matthew Paris suggests that Joan and Alexander had become estranged and that Joan wished to spend more time in England. While in England, Joan became ill and died in the arms of her brothers King Henry III and Richard, Earl of Cornwall at Havering-atte-Bower, near London, England on March 4, 1238 at the age of 27. At her request, Joan was buried at Tarrant Abbey in Tarrant Crawford, Dorset, England. In 1252, King Henry III ordered “an image of our sister” to be made and set over her tomb, but no trace of the tomb exists. It is thought that Joan is now buried, supposedly in a golden coffin, in the graveyard of St. Mary the Virgin Church, an unused church, and all that remains of Tarrant Abbey.

St. Mary the Virgin Church; Photo Credit – By ChurchCrawler, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9186803

Wikipedia: Joan of England, Queen of Scotland

Works Cited
“Alexander II of Scotland.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 29 Dec. 2016. Web. 31 Dec. 2016.
“Joan of England, queen of Scotland.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Oct. 2016. Web. 31 Dec. 2016.
Susan. “Isabella of Angoulême, queen of England.” British Royals. Unofficial Royalty, 23 Aug. 2016. Web. 31 Dec. 2016.
Williamson, David. Brewer’s British Royalty. London: Cassell, 1996. Print.

Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall

Reconstructive drawing of the seal of Richard, Earl of Cornwall as King of the Romans

Richard, the second of the two sons and the second of the five children of King John of England and Isabella of Angoulême, was born at Winchester Castle in England on January 5, 1209. He was the only brother of King Henry III of England. All of Richard’s four siblings survived into adulthood, made excellent marriages, and all but Joan had children.

Richard’s siblings:

A 13th-century depiction of John and his legitimate children, (l to r) Henry, Richard, Isabella, Eleanor, and Joan; Credit – Wikipedia

On October 18, 1216, when Richard was only seven years old, his father King John died leaving his elder son Henry, a nine year old, to inherit his throne in the midst of the First Barons’ War (1215–17), in which a group of rebellious barons supported by a French army, made war on King John because of his refusal to accept and abide by the Magna Carta. In July of 1217, Richard’s mother Isabella of Angoulême left England and returned to France to assume control of her inheritance of Angoulême, basically abandoning her children by King John. In 1220, she married Hugh X of Lusignan, Count of La Marche with whom she had nine children, who were Richard’s half-siblings.

In 1225, on his 16th birthday, Richard was created Earl of Cornwall by his brother. The income from Cornwall provided him with great wealth and made him one of the richest men in Europe. That same year Parliament commissioned Richard of Cornwall to lead the campaign to recapture Gascony, now in France, (1225 to 1227). The campaign was successful and Gascony remained in English hands for 200 years.

On March 30, 1231, at St. Mary the Virgin’s Church in Fawley, England, 24-year-old Richard married 30-year-old, widowed Isabel Marshal, daughter of William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, who had served three kings: Henry II, Richard I, and John, and had been protector of King Henry III, and regent of the kingdom. This was Isabel’s second marriage. She had been previously married to Gilbert de Clare, 4th Earl of Hertford and 5th Earl of Gloucester, and had given birth to six children during her first marriage.  King Henry III was quite displeased with his brother’s marriage and wanted his only brother to make a more advantageous marriage. Henry also feared the influential and wealthy Marshal family who often opposed him. The marriage lasted only nine years as Isabel died in 1240 after giving birth to a son who also died. Richard and Isabel had a total of three sons and a daughter, but only one son survived childhood:

  • John of Cornwall (born and died 1232)
  • Isabel of Cornwall (1233 – 1234), died young
  • Henry of Almain (1235 – 1271), married Constance of Béarn, no issue, murdered by his cousins Guy and Simon de Montfort
  • Nicholas of Cornwall (born and died 1240), died shortly after birth along with his mother

In September 1240, Richard led an army of a dozen English barons and several hundred knights to the Holy Land to participate in the Barons’ Crusade. Richard saw no action, but he did negotiate a truce, continued the rebuilding of Ashkelon castle, negotiated for an exchange of prisoners, and reburied the remains of crusaders.

In 1239, after the birth of King Henry III’s first son and heir, the future King Edward I, provisions were made in case of the king’s death, which favored Henry III’s wife Eleanor of Provence and her maternal Savoy relatives and excluded Richard. To placate Richard, Eleanor of Provence suggested that Richard make a second marriage to her sister Sanchia, the third daughter of Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Provence and Beatrice of Savoy. On November 23, 1243 in Westminster Abbey, Richard married Sanchia of Provence. The cost of the wedding was mainly paid by a tax imposed upon the Jewish people of England. The marriage lasted until 1261 when Sanchia died at the age of 33 at Berkhamsted Castle in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England. Sanchia was buried at Hailes Abbey in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, England which had been founded by Richard to thank God after he had survived a shipwreck. Richard and Sanchia had two sons. Only Edmund survived childhood and he eventually succeeded to his father’s title Earl of Cornwall.

Seal of Sanchia of Provence; Credit – Wikipedia

On January 13, 1257, Richard was elected King of the Romans, the title used by the German king following his election by the prince-electors. The title King of the Romans, was predominantly a claim to become Holy Roman Emperor and was dependent upon coronation by the Pope. Richard and his second wife Sanchia of Provence were crowned by Konrad von Hochstaden, Archbishop of Cologne at Aachen Cathedral on May 27, 1257. Richard had been elected by only four of the seven German Electoral Princes (Cologne, Mainz, the Palatinate and Bohemia) and his candidacy was opposed by Alfonso X, King of Castile who had received votes from Saxony, Brandenburg and Trier. Richard was never able to secure and maintain his position as ruler and he made only four brief visits to Germany between 1257 – 1269.

Meanwhile, in England, King Henry III’s relationship with the English barons was deteriorating. Many of Eleanor of Provence’s maternal Savoy relatives came to the English court including uncles Pietro and Bonifacio. Pietro lived in England for a long time, served as a diplomat, and became Earl of Richmond. In 1263, he became Count of Savoy.  Bonifacio became Archbishop of Canterbury, a position secured by his brother-in-law Henry III. In 1247, Henry’s half-brothers from his mother’s second marriage, the Lusignans came to England, and competed for lands and promotions with the queen’s Savoy relatives. Henry III’s relatives were rewarded with large estates, largely at the expense of the English barons. From 1236 to 1258, the weak king fluctuated repeatedly between various advisers including his brother Richard of Cornwall and his Lusignan half-brothers, which greatly displeased the English barons. In addition, the English barons were displeased with Henry III’s demands for extra funds, his methods of government, and widespread famine.

The displeasure of the English nobility with King Henry III, ultimately resulted in a civil war, the Second Barons’ War (1264–1267). The leader of the forces against Henry was led by his brother-in-law Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, who was married to Henry’s sister Eleanor. de Montfort wanted to reassert the Magna Carta and force the king to surrender more power to the baron’s council. Richard was a supporter of his brother during the Second Barons’ War. He was taken prisoner at the Battle of Lewes and was imprisoned until September of 1265 when his nephew the future King Edward I led the royalists into battle again, defeating and killing de Montfort at the Battle of Evesham in 1265.

60-year-old Richard made a third marriage to 15-year-old Beatrice of Falkenburg on June 16, 1269 while still nominally King of the Romans. Richard hoped that since Beatrice was German, it would bring him closer to his German subjects and to his German kingdom. When no invitation arrived for the couple’s coronation as emperor and empress of the Holy Roman Empire, Richard decided to return to England in 1269, never to return to Germany. Richard and Beatrice had no children.

Beatrice of Falkenburg; Credit – Wikipedia

Richard had several illegitimate children with his mistress Joan de Valletort. The most prominent was Sir Richard of Cornwall, who married Joan FitzAlan, daughter of John FitzAlan, 6th Earl of Arundel.  Joan and Sir Richard had three sons and a daughter. Their daughter, Joan of Cornwall, married Sir John Howard, from whom the Howard family and the Dukes of Norfolk, are descended.

In December of 1271, Richard had a stroke that paralyzed his right side and caused him to lose the ability to speak. 63-year- old Richard, Earl of Cornwall died on April 2, 1272 at Berkhamsted Castle in Hertfordshire. He was buried next to his second wife Sanchia of Provence and Henry of Almain, his son by his first wife, at Hailes Abbey, which he had founded. His only surviving legitimate child Edmund by Sanchia, succeeded as the 2nd Earl of Cornwall and was buried at Hailes Abbey with his parents when he died. Their tombs were destroyed during King Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Ruins of Hailes Abbey; By Saffron Blaze – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15096276

Wikipedia: Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall

Works Cited
Abrufstatistik. “Französisch-Englischer Krieg von 1224 Bis 1225.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 29 Dec. 2016.
Abrufstatistik. “Richard von Cornwall.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 29 Dec. 2016.
“Hailes abbey.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Dec. 2016. Web. 29 Dec. 2016.
“Ricardo de Cornualles.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 1974. Web. 29 Dec. 2016.
“Richard, 1st earl of Cornwall.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 26 Nov. 2016. Web. 29 Dec. 2016.
“Sanchia of Provence.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Nov. 2016. Web. 29 Dec. 2016.
Susan. “King Henry III of England.” British Royals. Unofficial Royalty, 5 Sept. 2015. Web. 29 Dec. 2016.
Williamson, David. Brewer’s British Royalty. London: Cassell, 1996. Print.

Edmund Crouchback, 1st Earl of Lancaster and Leicester

by Susan Flantzer

Credit – Wikipedia

Edmund was the second of the two sons and the fourth of the five children of King Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence. He was born at the Palace of Westminster in London on January 16, 1245. King Henry III named him after his favorite saint, Edmund the Martyr, King of East Anglia who was killed in 869 by Vikings on the on the orders of Ivar the Boneless and his brother Ubba.  A couple of 14th-century chroniclers misinterpreted “Crouchback” as meaning Edmund had a physical deformity, but it is probable that “Crouchback” refers to his participation in the Ninth Crusades when he would have worn a cross on his back. Edmund was brought up at Windsor Castle with his siblings under the care of Aymon Thurbert, Constable of Windsor Castle.

Edmund had one brother and three sisters:

Henry (top) and his children, (l to r) Edward, Margaret, Beatrice, Edmund and Katherine; Credit – Wikipedia

In 1255, ten-year-old Edmund was invested King of Sicily with the consent of Pope Innocent IV. In return, his father King Henry III agreed to pay the papacy a large sum and to fight a war to remove the current King of Sicily. The English barons refused to contribute to what they called the “Sicilian business.” Ultimately Henry was unable to fulfill his financial and military commitments and the grant of the kingdom to Edmund was revoked.

The English barons had many reasons to be displeased with King Henry III and ultimately their displeasure resulted in a civil war, the Second Barons’ War (1264–1267). The leader of the forces against King Henry III was led by his brother-in-law Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, who was married to Henry’s sister Eleanor, wanted to reassert the Magna Carta and force the king to surrender more power to the baron’s council. During these years, Edmund traveled with his mother back and forth to France gathering mercenaries and money for his father’s struggles with the barons. After de Monfort was killed at the Battle of Evesham in 1265, Edmund was granted all the lands that de Monfort had held and was created Earl of Leicester. In 1267, Edmund received further grants of castles and was created Earl of Lancaster.

On April 8, 1269, Edmund married Aveline de Forz, Countess of Aumale and Lady of Holderness, the daughter of William de Forz, 4th Earl of Albemarle and Isabella de Fortibus, Countess of Devon.  Edmund’s mother Eleanor of Provence had arranged the marriage to the great heiress with the bride’s mother and maternal grandmother Amice de Clare, daughter of Gilbert de Clare, 4th Earl of Hertford and Isabel Marshal. Edmund and Aveline were the first royal couple to be married in the rebuilt Westminster Abbey. Edmund’s father King Henry III had begun to rebuild the old Abbey of St Edward the Confessor in 1245. Because Aveline was only ten-years-old, the marriage was not consummated for four years. Aveline died at the age of 15, possibly in childbirth or shortly after a miscarriage, and was buried at Westminster Abbey. Through Aveline, Edmund had hoped to gain the earldoms of Devon and Aumdale as well as the lordships of Holderness and the Isle of Wight. However, with Aveline’s death, her lands reverted to the crown which prevented Edmund from inheriting them.

Two years later, on February 3, 1276, Edmund married Blanche of Artois, widow of King Henri I of Navarre and daughter of Robert I, Count of Artois and Matilda of Brabant. The marriage was arranged by Edmund’s maternal aunt Margaret of Provence, the widow of King Louis IX of France, who wanted to arrange for her nephew to marry a wealthy second wife.

Seal of Blanche of Artois; Credit – Wikipedia

Edmund and Blanche had three children:

  • Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster (1278 – 1322), executed, married Alice de Lacy, no issue
  • Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster (1281 – 1345), married Maud Charworth, had issue including Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster whose daughter Blanche of Lancaster married King Edward III’s son John of Gaunt; they were the parents of King Henry IV
  • John of Lancaster (before 1286 – circa 1317), married Alix de Joinville, no issue

Edmund was a loyal supporter of his brother King Edward I of England who succeeded to the throne in 1272. In 1271, Edmund had accompanied his elder brother Edward on the Ninth Crusade to Palestine. In 1277, Edmund was appointed commander on Wales. On December 11, 1282, Edmund ambushed and executed Llewellyn ap Gruffydd, Prince of Gwynedd, the last native and sovereign Prince of Wales. This lead to the final defeat and annexation of Wales in 1283.

Miniature of an Earl of Lancaster (possibly Edmund Crouchback) with St. George from a medieval manuscript in the Bodleian Library at Oxford; Credit – Wikipedia

Edmund spent the rest of his life in England and France, where he frequently acted as a diplomat for his brother. At the time of his death, Edmund was the Lieutenant of Aquitaine and was conducting a siege of Bordeaux, capital of Aquitaine, which the French had occupied. He fell ill during the siege and died on June 5, 1296 at the age of 51. Edmund had declared that he would not be buried until his debts were paid.  His body was embalmed at a Franciscan abbey in Bayonne (France) and was not brought back to England until early 1297. Edmund’s remains were kept in a Franciscan convent in London until March 24, 1301 when he was buried in the presence of his brother King Edward I at Westminster Abbey in Edward the Confessor’s Chapel where his magnificent tomb may still be seen.

Effigy of Edmund Crouchback; Photo Credit – www.westminster-abbey.org

Drawing of Edmund’s tomb from Sepulchral Monuments in Great Britain by Richard Gough, 1786; Credit – Wikipedia Wikipedia: Edmund Crouchback https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_Crouchback

Wikipedia: Edmund Crouchback

Works Cited
Abrufstatistik. “Edmund Crouchback, 1. Earl of Lancaster.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Apr. 2016. Web. 26 Dec. 2016.
“Edmund Crouchback.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 26 Nov. 2016. Web. 26 Dec. 2016.
Levy, Imogen, and Duck Soup. Edmund, earl of Lancaster and Aveline de Forz. 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 26 Dec. 2016.
Williamson, David. Brewer’s British Royalty. London: Cassell, 1996. Print.

What’s Wrong With “Victoria”? Why the Alternative Facts?

by Susan Flantzer

Queen Victoria in her coronation robes by Sir George Hayter; Credit – Wikipedia

Victoria is a British television series created by Daisy Goodwin, a British television producer and novelist, and written by Goodwin and Guy Andrews. It was first shown in the United Kingdom on ITV from August – October 2016. In the United States, the series was shown on PBS as part of Masterpiece from January – March 2017. Series 1 has eight episodes. In the United States, episodes one and two were shown together on January 15, 2017.

Victoria can be classified as historical fiction in the performing arts, an historical period drama television series, and therefore, the creators had some poetic license to change the facts of the real world to make their story more interesting. Historical fiction can serve a useful purpose as it humanizes historical figures so we can better understand them. Whatever form historical fiction takes, its creators have to decide how far to take their poetic license. Certainly, we do not know exactly everything historical figures said, all their actions, all their thoughts, etc. The creators need to determine these things based on their knowledge and research of the historical person.

For instance, historical fiction in the performing arts may need to take poetic license in the settings. Anyone who has been to Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and Westminster Abbey will know that scenes in Victoria that occur at those settings were not filmed at those settings, simply because filming there is basically impossible. But how much poetic license should historical fiction creators take with facts? Should they change characteristics of a real person because it will make the plot more dramatic? Should they change the facts so much that a real person is misrepresented or even defamed? How much should real events change? What responsibility do the creators of historical fiction have to tell the truth that the historical facts reveal? Many historical fiction novelists feel the need to inform their readers when they take poetic license with facts by offering an explanation in an afterword.

Historical fiction, whatever its form, can introduce a person to an historical period, event or persons. It can cause the reader or viewer to further investigate the history and this is a very positive thing. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and actually nearly all of the real people in Victoria, have had biographies and other informational texts written about them. Queen Victoria’s diaries and correspondence with several of her children can be read. The information is readily available through libraries, book stores (both online and brick and mortar), newspaper archives, and the Internet.

Below are inaccuracies (and some information on real people) from the first four episodes of the television series Victoria shown in the United States 1/15/17-2/5/17. If necessary, we will publish additional articles regarding inaccuracies. We encourage our readers to learn more about Queen Victoria and her family. You can start right here at Unofficial Royalty. We have biographical articles on Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, all their children and spouses, and all their grandchildren and spouses at Queen Victoria’s Children and Grandchildren Index.  See the British Index (scroll down to House of Hanover) for information about Queen Victoria’s British relatives. Learn about Victoria and Albert’s Belgian relatives at the Belgian Index and their Saxe-Coburg and Gotha relatives at the Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld/Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Index.  Find a book about Queen Victoria and her family by using our Bibliography of Royal Biographies: Queen Victoria and Family.

Inaccuracies in Victoria – Episodes 1 – 4 Shown in the USA 1/15/17 – 2/5/17

Lord Melbourne by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, 1836; Credit – Wikipedia

Lord Melbourne – William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne (1779 – 1848): In the series, Queen Victoria and her Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, appear to have a relationship that borders on the romantic. The Lord Melbourne infatuation is nonsense. Victoria never knew her father as he died when she was eight months old. Melbourne was a father figure to Victoria and was 40 years older than her.
Wikipedia: William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne

Ernest Augustus, King of Hanover, Duke of Cumberland by Edmund Koken, circa 1842; Credit – Wikipedia

Ernest, King of Hanover, Duke of Cumberland (1771 – 1851): Ernest was the fifth son and eighth child of the fifteen children of King George III of the United Kingdom who was also King of Hanover in Germany. At the time of Victoria’s accession to the throne, Ernest was the eldest surviving son of King George III and the first in the line of succession to the British throne until Victoria had children. The storyline with the Duchess of Kent, John Conroy, and Uncle Ernest (Duke of Cumberland and King of Hanover) trying to frame Victoria as insane never happened. Ernest arrived in Hanover (Germany) eight days after his brother King William IV died on June 20, 1837 to take up his duties as the new King of Hanover. Victoria could not succeed to the Hanover throne because it allowed for only male succession. Ernest was not in England and did not attend any balls or other events as shown in the series.
Unofficial Royalty: King Ernest Augustus I of Hanover, Duke of Cumberland

Sir John Conroy by Henry William Pickersgill, 1837; Credit – Wikipedia

Sir John Conroy, 1st Baronet (1786 – 1854) was the equerry of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, father of Queen Victoria. After Edward’s death, Conroy served as comptroller of the Duchess of Kent‘s household. The Duchess developed a very close relationship with Conroy, who wanted to use his position with the mother of the future queen to obtain power and influence. Conroy and the Duchess tried to control and influence Victoria with their Kensington System, a strict and elaborate set of rules. When Victoria became Queen, she immediately dismissed Conroy from her household, but she could not dismiss him from her mother’s household and she did, as shown in Victoria, send both her mother and Conroy off to a distant wing of the palace and cut off personal contact with them. Conroy was finally persuaded by the Duke of Wellington to leave the Duchess of Kent’s household in 1839.
Wikipedia: John Conroy

Marianne Skerrett; Photo Credit – The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Marianne Skerrett (1793 – 1887) was the Head Dresser and Wardrobe-Woman to Queen Victoria from 1837 to 1862. Marianne was born in 1793, so she was 44 years old when Victoria became queen, not a young woman as in the series, but that is far from the only inaccuracy. Carolly Erickson has references to Marianne in her biography of Queen Victoria, Her Little Majesty. From Erickson’s book: Marianne Skerrett was “the head of Victoria’s wardrobe, overseeing all the practical work of ordering all her clothing, shoes, hats, gloves, and undergarments…She kept the wardrobe accounts, checking all the bills to make certain no one tried to cheat her mistress, and supervised the purveyors, hairdressers, dressmakers and pearl-sewers whose task it was to keep the royal wardrobe in good repair.” In addition, Marianne and Victoria had a lot in common. From Erickson’s book: “Both were intelligent, loved animals, spoke several languages…shared a great interest in paintings and painters. Marianne was well educated, with cultivated tastes, and in time to come Victoria would rely on her to help with the purchase of paintings and in corresponding with artists.” This is a far cry from the Marianne Skerrett in the series where she is depicted as having worked in a brothel, stealing lace from Victoria to give to her sister to sell, and also stealing some jewels until her conscience then causes her to return the jewels.

Prince Albert by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1842; Credit – Wikipedia

Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1819 – 1861): Victoria fell in love with Albert at first sight. First cousins Victoria and Albert met for the first time in 1836 when Albert and his elder brother Ernst visited England. Seventeen-year-old Victoria seemed instantly infatuated with Albert. She wrote to her uncle Leopold, “How delighted I am with him, and how much I like him in every way. He possesses every quality that could be desired to make me perfectly happy.” On October 10, 1839, Albert and Ernst arrived in England again, staying at Windsor Castle with Victoria, who was now Queen. This is the meeting in the series and was not as antagonistic as shown in the series. That night, Victoria wrote in her journal, “It was with some emotion that I beheld Albert – who is beautiful.” On October 15, 1839, the 20-year-old monarch summoned her cousin Albert and proposed to him. Albert accepted, but wrote to his stepmother, “My future position will have its dark sides, and the sky will not always be blue and unclouded.”

King Leopold I of Belgium by Franz Xaver Winterhalter; Credit – Wikipedia

King Leopold I of Belgium (1790 – 1865) was born Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, the youngest son of Franz Friedrich Anton, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. Among his siblings was the mother of Queen Victoria and the father of Prince Albert.  In 1816, Leopold married Princess Charlotte of Wales, the only child of George, Prince of Wales who would succeed his father King George III as King George IV. Charlotte would have succeeded her father on the throne, but on November 6, 1817, a great tragedy struck the British Royal Family. After a labor of over 50 hours, Charlotte delivered a stillborn son. Several hours later, twenty-one-year-old Princess Charlotte, the only child of George, Prince of Wales, and King George III’s only legitimate grandchild, died of postpartum hemorrhage.

Leopold had received an annuity from Parliament of £60,000 upon his marriage to Princess Charlotte. Charlotte was not Queen and did not have the funds her cousin Queen Victoria had, so perhaps it made sense that her husband would have a larger allowance than the husband of Queen Victoria. When Charlotte died, Leopold’s annuity was reduced to £50,000. He was allowed to continue living at Claremont House which Parliament had purchased as a wedding gift for Charlotte and Leopold. In 1818, during the flurry of marriages of the childless sons of King George III, made to produce an heir to the throne after Charlotte’s death, Leopold’s sister married Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, King George III’s fourth son. Their daughter, Alexandrina Victoria, was born on May 21, 1819 and eight months later the Duke of Kent died. After his death, his widow the Duchess of Kent (Leopold’s sister) and her daughter Alexandrina Victoria were given little financial support from Parliament. Leopold helped support them with funds from his annuity.

In August of 1830, the southern provinces (modern-day Belgium) of the Netherlands rebelled against Dutch rule. On April 22, 1831, Leopold was asked by the Belgian National Congress if he wanted to be King of the Belgians. Leopold swore allegiance to the new Belgian constitution on July 21, 1831 and became the first King of the Belgians.

In the series, it was stated that Leopold converted to Roman Catholicism and was, at that time, paying for the upkeep of his mistress, an actress, with his annuity. Both of these claims are false. Belgium is a mostly Catholic country and Leopold’s second marriage was to a Catholic, Princess Louise-Marie of Orléans, daughter of Louis-Philippe I, King of the French, and their children were raised as Catholics, but Leopold remained Lutheran for his entire life. Leopold did have an affair with an actress from 1828 – 1829, but this was when he was a widower living in England. Prince Leopold resigned his annuity in a letter dated July 15, 1831 to Prime Minister Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey prior to becoming King of Belgium on July 21, 1831 because he did not think it proper for a foreign monarch to be receiving funds from another country.
Unofficial Royalty: King Leopold I of Belgium

Christian Friedrich, Baron Stockmar by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1847; Credit – Wikipedia

Where is Baron Stockmar?
Christian Friedrich, Freiherr von Stockmar (Baron Stockmar) (1787 – 1863) was a physician and a statesman from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha who was sent to Victoria in 1837, the year of her accession, by her uncle King Leopold I of Belgium to advise her. Stockmar had accompanied Leopold to England when he married Princess Charlotte of Wales in 1816 and served as his personal physician, private secretary, comptroller of the household, and political advisor. When Albert and Ernst made a six-month tour of Italy in early 1839, Stockmar accompanied them. Baron Stockmar was Albert’s negotiator during the discussions regarding the marriage of Victoria and Albert and stayed in England after the marriage of Victoria and Albert, acting as their unofficial advisor. He was an important person to both Victoria and Albert and is missing from the series.
Wikipedia: Christian Friedrich, Baron Stockmar

Margaret of England, Queen of Scots

by Susan Flantzer

Margaret of England, Queen of Scots; Credit – Wikipedia

Born at Windsor Castle on September 29, 1240, Margaret was the second of the five children of King Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence. She was named after maternal aunt Margaret of Provence, Queen of France and St. Margaret of Antioch, patron saint of pregnant women. Eleanor of Provence had prayed to St. Margaret of Antioch during Margaret’s difficult birth.

Margaret had four siblings:

King Henry III of England (top) and his children, (l to r) Edward, Margaret, Beatrice, Edmund and Katherine; Credit – Wikipedia

In 1244, Margaret’s father King Henry III of England met with King Alexander II of Scotland in Newcastle, England for peace negotiations. King Alexander II’s first wife had been King Henry III’s sister Joan, so there was a family relationship. Alexander II’s marriage to Joan had been childless, but he had one child, Alexander, with his second wife Marie de Coucy. The two kings decided that their two children should marry, and so Margaret was betrothed that same year to Alexander. Alexander’s father died on July 8, 1249 and he became King Alexander III at the age of seven.

Coronation of King Alexander III on Moot Hill, Scone from a late medieval manuscript of the Scottichronicon by Walter Bower; Credit – Wikipedia

On December 26, 1251 at York Minster in York, England, 11-year-old Margaret became Queen of Scots when she married 10-year-old King Alexander III. The wedding celebrations were festive and attended by many people including 1,000 English and 600 Scottish knights. The young couple remained in York for a month before traveling to Edinburgh, Scotland.

Young Margaret was lonely and uncomfortable in her new home. Because of Margaret and Alexander’s young age, the marriage was not consummated for some time. Margaret complained to her parents that she was not allowed to live with her husband and was held in an almost captive-like situation. A visit back to England to see her mother was not allowed. Queen Eleanor then sent Reginald of Bath to her daughter, who confirmed her depressed state. In 1255, King Henry III of England sent envoys to Scotland demanding better conditions for his daughter. It was agreed that as Margaret and Alexander were now fourteen, they should be allowed to consummate their marriage and that Margaret would be allowed to travel regularly to England. In 1261, Margaret and Alexander’s first child, a daughter also named Margaret, was born at Windsor Castle in England while Margaret was on a visit to her parents.

Margaret and Alexander had three children:

Margaret and her husband attended the coronation of her brother King Edward I of England on August 19, 1274 at Westminster Abbey, but Margaret only lived for six more months. At the age of 34, she died on February 26, 1275 at Cupar Castle in Fife, Scotland and was buried at Dunfermline Abbey in Fife, Scotland where many Scottish royals were buried.

Wikipedia: Margaret of England, Queen of Scots

Works Cited
Abrufstatistik. “Margarete von England.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 24 Dec. 2016.
“Alexander III of Scotland.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Dec. 2016. Web. 24 Dec. 2016.
“Margaret of England.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Nov. 2016. Web. 24 Dec. 2016.
Williamson, David. Brewer’s British Royalty. London: Cassell, 1996. Print.

Queen Elizabeth II: 65 Years on the Throne

By Joel Rouse/ Ministry of Defence – https://www.defenceimagery.mod.uk/fotoweb/archives/5000-Current%20News/Archive%20(Navy)/RoyalNavy/2015/March/45158590.jpg, OGL 3, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39183110

Sixty-five years ago today, King George VI of the United Kingdom died and his daughter succeeded him as Queen Elizabeth II.  At the time, she was 25-years-old, had been married for four years, and had two young children.  She was in Kenya on her way to a tour of Australia and New Zealand with her husband when she found out her father died.

Here are some other interesting facts and figures about The Queen:

  • She has had 13 Prime Ministers
  • She has conferred over 405,000 honors and awards
  • She has personally held over 610 Investitures
  • She and the Duke of Edinburgh have the longest marriage of a British Sovereign
  • She is the oldest British monarch (Queen Victoria is 2nd at 81 years, 243 days)
  • She is the longest-serving current Head of State.
  • On September 9, 2015, she surpassed Queen Victoria as the longest serving British monarch.

Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent

by Susan Flantzer

Arms of Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent; Credit – By Sodacan – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27269477

The life of Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent ended with his execution by beheading, but he is rarely mentioned among the beheaded English royals.  He was born at Woodstock Palace near Oxford, England on August 5, 1301, the second of the three children of King Edward I of England and his second wife Margaret of France.

The parents of Edmund of Woodstock, King Edward I and Margaret of France; Credit – Wikipedia

Edmund had 14-16 half-siblings by his father’s first marriage to Eleanor of Castile, but only six survived childhood:

    • Daughter (stillborn in May 1255)
    • Katherine (before 1264 – 1264)
    • Joan (born and died 1265)
    • John (1266 – 1271)
    • Henry (1268 – 1274)
    • Eleanor (1269 – 1298), married Count Henry III of Bar, had issue
    • Daughter (born and died 1271)
    • Joan of Acre (1272 – 1307), married (1) in 1290 Gilbert de Clare, 6th Earl of Hertford, had issue  (2) in 1297 Ralph de Monthermer, 1st Baron Monthermer, had issue
    • Alphonso, Earl of Chester (1273 – 1284)
    • Margaret (1275 – after 1333), married John II of Brabant, had issue
    • Berengaria (1276 – 1278)
    • Daughter (born and died 1278)
    • Mary of Woodstock (1279 – 1332), a Benedictine nun in Amesbury, Wiltshire
    • Son (born in 1280 or 1281 who died very shortly after birth)
    • Elizabeth of Rhuddlan (1282 – 1316), married (1) in 1297 John I, Count of Holland, no issue (2) in 1302 Humphrey de Bohun, 4th Earl of Hereford, 3rd Earl of Essex, had issue
    • King Edward II of England (1284 – 1327), married Isabella of France, had issue including King Edward III of England

Edmund had one older brother and one younger sister:

Edmund’s brother Thomas of Brotherton was only a year older and the two grew up in a household together, complete with luxuries as befitted their status as a king’s son. However, they were not the important royal children. That role went to their much older half-brother Edward, Prince of Wales who was the only surviving son of Edward I’s first marriage to Eleanor of Castile.

In the summer of 1307, Edmund’s mother Margaret accompanied his father Edward I on a military campaign in Scotland. On the way to Scotland, the 68-year-old king died on July 7, 1307 at Burgh by Sands in Cumbria, England. Edmund’s half-brother succeeded to the throne as King Edward II. Edmund’s elder brother Thomas was now the heir presumptive to the throne. Edward I had intended to give Thomas the title Earl of Cornwall, but instead the new King Edward II bestowed the title upon his favorite Piers Gaveston along with the lands that brought Gaveston a substantial income. Many people, including Edmund and Thomas’ mother, now the dowager queen, were infuriated that such an important title had been given to a person that was not family. In 1312, Piers Gaveston, the favorite of Edmund’s half-brother King Edward II, was hunted down and executed by a group of barons led by Edward’s uncle Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster and Guy de Beauchamp, 10th Earl of Warwick. Eventually, Edward II provided annual grants for his half-brother Edmund and in 1321 gave him the strategically important Gloucester Castle and created him Earl of Kent.

In December of 1325, Edmund married Margaret Wake, 3rd Baroness Wake of Liddell. Edmund and Margaret had four children including Joan of Kent who was the mother of King Richard II:

Edmund, 1st Earl of Kent played an important role during the reign of his half-brother King Edward II, acting both as a diplomat and a military commander.  He accompanied the king on a military campaign to Scotland in 1322 and was instrumental in raising troops for many campaigns.  When the marriage of King Edward II’s son, Edward, Prince of Wales, to Philippa of Hainault was being arranged in 1325, Edmund went to Hainault with Queen Isabella and her son to negotiate the marriage contract.

After the execution of Piers Gaveston in 1312, Hugh Despenser the Elder became part of King Edward II’s inner circle, marking the beginning of the Despensers’ increased prominence at Edward’s court. His son, Hugh Despenser the Younger, became a favorite of Edward II. Edward was willing to let the Despensers do as they pleased, and they grew rich from their administration and corruption.  Edmund and his brother Thomas of Brotherton became victims of the Despencers’ greed when Hugh Despenser the Elder stole some of their land.  Edmund and Thomas then allied themselves with Queen Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March when they invaded England in 1326. With their mercenary army, Isabella and Mortimer quickly seized power from King Edward II. King Edward II was forced to abdicate in 1327, his son was crowned as King Edward III, and Isabella and Mortimer served as regents for the teenage king.  Edmund was present at his nephew’s coronation and received grants of land that had been forfeited property of the Despencers.

In 1329, Edmund had been persuaded by an unknown friar that his half-brother Edward II was still alive and set about raising forces to free him and restore him to the throne.  It later emerged that Roger Mortimer himself was responsible for leading Edmund to believe the former king was still alive, in a form of entrapment.  Edmund, 1st Earl of Kent, aged 28, was executed by beheading for high treason at Winchester Castle on March 19, 1330.  Apparently, the execution had to be held up for a day because no one wanted to be responsible for a prince’s death. Eventually, a convicted murderer agreed to be the executioner in return for a pardon.  Edmund was initially buried at the Franciscan Friary in Winchester, but in 1331 his remains were moved to Westminster Abbey.

Edmund’s wife Margaret was pregnant at the time of her husband’s execution and was confined to Arundel Castle with her young children where her last child was born. After Edmund’s execution, the nobles begged the young King Edward III to assert his independence, which he did shortly before his 18th birthday. In October of 1330, a Parliament was summoned to Nottingham Castle, and Mortimer and Isabella were seized by Edward and the nobles. Isabella begged for mercy for Mortimer, but he was accused of assuming royal power and of various other crimes and was condemned without trial and hanged. Isabella was held under a comfortable house arrest until her death in 1358. After King Edward III regained his independence from his mother and Mortimer, he took in Margaret and her children and treated them as his own family.  Edmund’s daughter Joan and her siblings grew up with Edward III’s children, including Edward, Prince of Wales, Joan’s future husband.

Wikipedia: Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent

Works Cited
“Edmund of Woodstock, 1st earl of Kent.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Sept. 2016. Web. 24 Dec. 2016.
Jones, Dan. The Plantagenets. New York: Viking, 2012. Print.
Susan. “King Edward II of England.” British Royals. Unofficial Royalty, 21 July 2016. Web. 18 Dec. 2016.
Susan. “King Edward III of England.” British Royals. Unofficial Royalty, 4 Sept. 2015. Web. 18 Dec. 2016.
Susan. “Margaret of France, queen of England.” British Royals. Unofficial Royalty, 19 July 2016. Web. 18 Dec. 2016.
Williamson, David. Brewer’s British Royalty. London: Cassell, 1996. Print.

Thomas of Brotherton, 1st Earl of Norfolk

by Susan Flantzer

Arms of Thomas of Brotherton, 1st Earl of Norfolk; Credit – By Sodacan – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27282076

Thomas of Brotherton was the eldest of the three children of King Edward I of England and his second wife Margaret of France.  He was born on June 1, 1300 at the manor house in Brotherton, Yorkshire, England. His mother went into labor while she was traveling to Cawood Castle where she had planned to give birth. Margaret had prayed to St. Thomas Becket during her labor and named her son after him.

The parents of Thomas of Brotherton, King Edward I and Margaret of France; Credit – Wikipedia

Thomas had 14-16 half-siblings by his father’s first marriage to Eleanor of Castile, but only six survived childhood:

  • Daughter (stillborn in May 1255)
  • Katherine (before 1264 – 1264)
  • Joan (born and died 1265)
  • John (1266 – 1271)
  • Henry (1268 – 1274)
  • Eleanor (1269 – 1298), married Count Henry III of Bar, had issue
  • Daughter (born and died 1271)
  • Joan of Acre (1272 – 1307), married (1) in 1290 Gilbert de Clare, 6th Earl of Hertford, had issue  (2) in 1297 Ralph de Monthermer, 1st Baron Monthermer, had issue
  • Alphonso, Earl of Chester (1273 – 1284)
  • Margaret (1275 – after 1333), married John II of Brabant, had issue
  • Berengaria (1276 – 1278)
  • Daughter (born and died 1278)
  • Mary of Woodstock (1279 – 1332), a Benedictine nun in Amesbury, Wiltshire
  • Son (born in 1280 or 1281 who died very shortly after birth)
  • Elizabeth of Rhuddlan (1282 – 1316), married (1) in 1297 John I, Count of Holland, no issue (2) in 1302 Humphrey de Bohun, 4th Earl of Hereford, 3rd Earl of Essex, had issue
  • King Edward II of England (1284 – 1327), married Isabella of France, had issue including King Edward III of England

Thomas had one younger brother and one younger sister:

Thomas’ brother Edmund of Woodstock was only a year younger and the two grew up in a household together, complete with luxuries as befitted their status as a king’s son. However, they were not the important royal children. That role went to their much older half-brother Edward, Prince of Wales who was the only surviving son of Edward I’s first marriage to Eleanor of Castile.

In the summer of 1307, Thomas’ mother Margaret accompanied his father Edward I on a military campaign in Scotland. On the way to Scotland, the 68-year-old king died on July 7, 1307 at Burgh by Sands in Cumbria, England. Thomas’ half-brother succeeded to the throne as King Edward II. Thomas was now the heir presumptive to the throne. Edward I had intended to give Thomas the title Earl of Cornwall, but instead the new King Edward II bestowed the title upon his favorite Piers Gaveston along with the lands that brought Gaveston a substantial income. Many people, including Thomas’ mother, now the dowager queen, were infuriated that such an important title had been given to a person that was not family. In 1312, Piers Gaveston, the favorite of Thomas’ half-brother King Edward II, was was hunted down and executed by a group of barons led by Edward’s uncle Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster and Guy de Beauchamp, 10th Earl of Warwick. Also in 1312, Edward II’s wife Isabella gave birth a son, another Edward (the future King Edward III).  After the birth of his son, Edward II created Thomas Earl of Norfolk.

In 1316, Thomas was given the office of Lord Marshal of England.  The title of “marshal” at one time designated the head of household security for the King of England. The office became hereditary under John FitzGilbert the Marshal and his second son William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, served four kings (Henry II, Richard I, John, and Henry III) in this office and became one of the most powerful men in Europe. The office of hereditary Marshal (currently Earl Marshal) evolved into a Great Officer of State. In 1672, the office of Marshal of England and the title of Earl Marshal of England were made hereditary in the Howard family and since then the offices have been held by the Duke of Norfolk. Today, the Earl Marshal’s role is chiefly involved in organizing major state ceremonies such as coronations, state funerals, and the opening of parliament.

Around January 8, 1326, Thomas married Alice de Hales, daughter of Sir Roger de Hales of Hales Hall in Loddon, Norfolkshire, England. Through their daughter Margaret, Thomas and Alice are ancestors of the two beheaded wives of King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, who were first cousins.

Thomas and Alice had three children:

Thomas’ first wife Alice died in 1330. After her death, Thomas married Mary de Brewes, daughter of Sir Peter de Brewes of Tetbury, Gloucestershire. Thomas and Mary had no surviving issue.

After the execution of Piers Gaveston in 1312, Hugh Despenser the Elder became part of King Edward II’s inner circle, marking the beginning of the Despensers’ increased prominence at Edward’s court. His son, Hugh Despenser the Younger, became a favorite of Edward II. Edward was willing to let the Despensers do as they pleased, and they grew rich from their administration and corruption. Thomas of Brotherton became a victim of the Despencers’ greed when Hugh Despenser the Elder stole some of his land. Thomas then allied himself with Queen Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March when they invaded England in 1326. With their mercenary army, Isabella and Mortimer quickly seized power from King Edward II. Thomas was one of the judges in the trial against both Despensers where they were both sentenced to death. King Edward II was forced to abdicate, his son was crowned as King Edward III, and Isabella and Mortimer served as regents for the teenage king.

Many nobles were jealous and angry because of Mortimer’s abuse of power. Three years after King Edward II was deposed, Thomas’ brother Edmund, 1st Earl of Kent was accused of high treason on charges of having attempted to free the former king from imprisonment. It later emerged that Roger Mortimer himself was responsible for leading Edmund to believe the former king was still alive, in a form of entrapment.  Edmund, 1st Earl of Kent was executed at Winchester Castle on March 19, 1330.   After this execution, the nobles begged the young king to assert his independence, which he did shortly before his 18th birthday. After King Edward III regained power from his mother and Mortimer, his uncle Thomas became one of his principal advisors.

Thomas of Brotherton, Earl of Norfolk died on September 20, 1338 at the age of 38. He was buried in the choir of the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, England. The abbey was disbanded during King Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries when the abbey was stripped of all valuable building materials and artifacts. The abbey ruins were then used as building materials by the local people.

Remains of Bury St Edmunds Abbey, Suffolk, England; Photo Credit – John Armagh, Wikipedia

Wikipedia: Thomas of Brotherton, 1st Earl of Norfolk

Works Cited
“Earl marshal.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Oct. 2016. Web. 18 Dec. 2016.
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