Category Archives: British Royals

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.
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.
“Thomas of Brotherton, 1st earl of Norfolk.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 4 Oct. 2016. Web. 18 Dec. 2016.

Joan of the Tower, Queen of Scots

by Susan Flantzer

Credit – Wikipedia

Joan was born at the Tower of London, hence her name, on July 5, 1321. She was the youngest daughter and the youngest of the four children of King Edward II of England and Isabella of France.

Joan had three older siblings:

In 1328, England and Scotland signed the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton. The treaty formally ended the First War of Scottish Independence, which had begun with King Edward I of England’s invasion of Scotland in 1296. The treaty was signed in Edinburgh by Robert I the Bruce, King of Scots and then the English Parliament ratified the treaty in Northampton. One of the terms of the treaty was that six-year-old Joan would marry Robert the Bruce’s heir, four-year-old David, and because of this Joan was known as “Joan Makepeace”. The very young couple married on July 17, 1328 at Berwick-upon-Tweed, the northernmost town in England, 2 ½ miles from the border with Scotland. Although the couple was married for 34 years, they had no children.

Less than a year after the wedding, Robert the Bruce died, and Joan’s husband became King David II of Scots. Joan and David were crowned and anointed on November 24, 1331 at Scone, the traditional coronation site of the Kings of Scots. Unfortunately, the peace of the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton did not last long. The Second War of Scottish Independence started in 1332. After the 1333 Battle of Halidon Hill in which the Scots were soundly defeated by Joan’s brother King Edward III of England, Joan and David were sent to France for their safety. Very little is known about their life in France. King Philippe VI of France, the cousin of Joan’s mother, granted the couple the use of Château Gaillard, built by King Richard I of England to defend his Duchy of Normandy.

Joan and David with Philippe VI of France in a miniature from Froissart’s Chronicles; Credit – Wikipedia

In 1341, the situation improved in Scotland and David and Joan returned. Five years later, under the terms of an alliance between Scotland and France, David invaded England which was involved in a war with France in Normandy. During the Battle of Neville’s Cross in October of 1346, the Scots were routed and David was captured by the English.

David was imprisoned from 1346 – 1357, first at the Tower of London and then at Odiham Castle in Hampshire. King Edward III offered to release David three times for a ransom if the childless David accepted one of Edward III’s sons as his heir to the throne of Scotland. David rejected all three offers. In 1357, David was released in return for a ransom of 100,000 marks, approximately £15 million today.

Joan was allowed to see her husband while he was imprisoned, but after his release, she decided to remain in England. Joan’s mother Isabella of France had been under house arrest since 1330 because of her part in deposing her husband King Edward II with her lover Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March. Joan nursed her mother during her final illness in 1358.

Joan, aged 41, died of the plague at Hertford Castle in England on September 7, 1362. She was buried at Christ Church Greyfriars in London where her mother had been buried. The church suffered much damage during King Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries and many of the tombs were destroyed. During the Great Fire of London in 1666, the medieval church was completely destroyed.

Wikipedia: Joan of the Tower

Works Cited
“Christ church Greyfriars.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 25 Nov. 2016. Web. 17 Dec. 2016.
“David II of Scotland.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Nov. 2016. Web. 17 Dec. 2016.
“Joan of the tower.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Apr. 2016. Web. 17 Dec. 2016.
queens. “Jeanne d’Angleterre (1321-1362).” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 13 July 1321.
Williamson, David. Brewer’s British Royalty. London: Cassell, 1996. Print.

Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester

by Susan Flantzer

Credit – Wikipedia

Thomas of Woodstock was the fifth of the surviving five sons and the fourteenth and last child of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault. He was born at Woodstock Palace near Oxford, England on January 7, 1355. Thomas was fifteen years younger than his eldest sibling and was raised in his mother’s household.

Thomas had thirteen older siblings:

Around August 24, 1376, Thomas married Eleanor de Bohun, the elder of the two surviving daughters of Humphrey de Bohun, 7th Earl of Hereford and Lady Joan Fitzalan.  Eleanor’s younger sister Mary de Bohun was the first wife of the future King Henry IV of England and the mother of King Henry V of England.

Thomas and Eleanor had five children:

When Eleanor’s father died in January 1373, his estates should have passed to his cousin Gilbert de Bohun because he had no sons. However, due to the influence of King Edward III, the estates of the 7th Earl of Hereford were divided between his two daughters. After Thomas and Eleanor married in 1376, they lived in Pleshey Castle in Essex and Eleanor’s younger sister Mary lived there under Eleanor and Thomas’ care. She was instructed in religious doctrine in the hope that she would become a nun, which would cause her share of the de Bohun inheritance to go to Eleanor and Thomas. However, John of Gaunt, third surviving son of King Edward III and Thomas’ older brother, had other ideas. He arranged for Mary’s aunt to take her from Pleshey Castle to Arundel Castle, home of her mother’s family. There, on July 27, 1380, 11-12-year-old Mary married John of Gaunt’s eldest son, 13-year-old Henry Bolingbroke, the future King Henry IV.

In 1377, Thomas’s father King Edward III died and he was succeeded by 10-year-old King Richard II, the only surviving child of Thomas’ eldest sibling Edward, Prince of Wales (the Black Prince) who had predeceased his father. Richard’s coronation took place on July 16, 1377 at Westminster Abbey, just eleven days after his grandfather’s funeral. The quickness with which all this happened was certainly affected by the controversial succession of a child king whose father had not been the king. Some believed that one of King Edward III’s younger sons (there were three still alive: John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster; Edmund of Langley, Duke of York; and Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester) should be king. Thomas and his two surviving brothers were excluded from councils which ruled during Richard’s minority, but as the uncles of the king, they still held great informal influence over the business of government. Between 1377 and 1380, Thomas participated in the last battles of the first phase of the Hundred Years War. In 1377, at the age of 22, Thomas was knighted and created Earl of Buckingham. In 1385 he received the title Duke of Aumale and at about the same time was created Duke of Gloucester.

Since 1337, England had been fighting France in the Hundred Years’ War, and the English had been consistently losing territory to the French since 1369. Richard wanted to negotiate peace with France, but much of the nobility wanted to continue the war. In 1386, Parliament blamed Richard’s advisers for the military failures and accused them of misusing funds intended for the war. Parliament authorized a commission of nobles known as the Lords Appellant to take over management of the kingdom and act as Richard’s regents. There were originally three Lords Appellant and Thomas was one of them along with Richard FitzAlan, 11th Earl of Arundel and Thomas de Beauchamp, 12th Earl of Warwick. Later, Henry Bolingbroke, Earl of Derby (son of John of Gaunt, Richard’s first cousin and the future King Henry IV) and Thomas de Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk also became Lords Appellant. Richard did not recognize the authority of the Lords Appellant and started an unsuccessful military attempt to overthrow the Lords Appellant and negotiate peace with France. In 1387, the Lords Appellant launched an armed rebellion against King Richard and defeated an army under Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford at the Battle of Radcot Bridge, outside Oxford. The Lords Appellant, with Thomas as the leader, controlled the government and maintained Richard as a figurehead with little real power.

Richard FitzAlan, 11th Earl of Arundel; Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester; Thomas de Mowbray, Earl of Nottingham; Henry, Earl of Derby (later Henry IV); and Thomas de Beauchamp, 12th Earl of Warwick, demand Richard II to let them prove by arms the justice for their rebellion, from A Chronicle of England: B.C. 55 – A.D. 1485, 1864; Credit – Wikipedia

In 1396, Thomas attended the second wedding of his nephew King Richard II with Isabella of Valois, although he disapproved of the match. He was becoming more and more unpopular at court and retired to Pleshey Castle pleading poor health. Richard was able to rebuild his power gradually until 1397, when he reasserted his authority and destroyed the principal three among the Lords Appellant. At Pleshey Castle, Thomas conspired with others to depose Richard, but he was betrayed by Thomas de Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk. King Richard II, leading an army went to Pleshey Castle where he persuaded Thomas to return with him to London. Thomas was arrested for treason on the journey and taken to Calais (France) where he was imprisoned and confessed. He died on September 8, 1397 at the age of 42 in Calais, probably murdered by a group of men led by Thomas de Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk, and Sir Nicholas Colfox, presumably on the orders of King Richard II. After Thomas’ death, his confession was read to Parliament and he was declared guilty of treason. He was attainted as a traitor and his title Duke of Gloucester, goods and estates were forfeited to the crown. Thomas’ remains were returned to England where they were buried in Westminster Abbey in the Chapel of St. Edmund the King and St. Thomas of Canterbury.

Murder of Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester from Froissart Chroniques, 15th century; Credit – Wikipedia

Thomas’ murder caused an outcry among the English nobility and added to Richard’s unpopularity. In 1399, Richard’s first cousin Henry of Bolingbroke, the eldest son of John of Gaunt, deposed Richard and succeeded to the throne as King Henry IV, the first King of the House of Lancaster. King Richard II was imprisoned at Pontefract Castle in Yorkshire where he died on or around February 14, 1400. The exact cause of his death, thought to have been starvation, is unknown. At the first Parliament of King Henry IV’s reign, the forfeiture of Thomas’ estates and goods was reversed. In addition, King Henry IV had his uncle’s remains moved to a grave closer to the shrine of Edward the Confessor in Westminster Abbey.

thomas-of-woodstock_grave

Grave of Thomas of Woodstock and his wife Eleanor de Bohn in Westminster Abbey; Photo Credit – www.findagrave.com

Wikipedia: Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester

Works Cited
Susan. “King Richard II of England.” British Royals. Unofficial Royalty, 26 July 2016. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.
“Thomas de Woodstock.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Jan. 1355. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.
“Thomas of Woodstock, 1st duke of Gloucester.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Dec. 2016. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.
Williamson, David. Brewer’s British Royalty. London: Cassell, 1996. Print.

Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York

by Susan Flantzer

Credit – Wikipedia

Edmund of Langley was born at Kings Langley Palace in England on June 5, 1341. He was the fifth son and the seventh child of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault. The infant was given a traditional English name and a tournament was held to celebrate the birth of a new son. Edmund was baptized by Michael of Mentmore, Abbot of St. Albans, who was also one of his godfathers along with John de Warenne, 7th Earl of Surrey and Richard FitzAlan, 1st Earl of Arundel. Edmund was brought up in his mother’s household until 1354.

Through the marriage of Edmund’s younger son, Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge, to Anne de Mortimer, great-granddaughter of Edmund’s elder brother Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, the House of York made its claim to the English throne in the Wars of the Roses.  See Wikipedia: House of York – Descent from Edward III

Edmund had thirteen siblings:

Edmund participated with his father in a campaign in France from 1359 – 1360 during the Hundred Years’ War, a war fought between England and France for control of the Kingdom of France. It was ultimately an unsuccessful war for the English that involved King Edward III, his sons, and their descendants for a long period of time.

King Edward III had a plan to marry his sons off to rich heiresses and he thought he found one for Edmund in 1461. 15-year-old Philip I, Duke of Burgundy died in a riding accident leaving a 12-year-old widow, Margaret of Flanders, the only heir of Louis II, Count of Flanders. King Edward III thought Margaret would be a good catch, but also the lands of her father might help in Edward’s desire to possess the French crown. To help Edmund seem more desirable, he was created Earl of Cambridge. However, the marriage negotiations came to naught as King John II of France claimed Burgundy and married his son to Margaret.

Over the next ten years, Edmund participated in many military campaigns in France with his brothers. He returned to England in 1371 and on July 11, 1372 at Wallingford, Oxfordshire, he married Infanta Isabella of Castile. Isabella was the younger daughter of King Pedro the Cruel of Castile and León and the sister of Constance of Castile, the second wife of Edmund’s brother John of Gaunt. She had accompanied her sister Constance to England when the marriage to John of Gaunt had taken place in 1371.

Edmund and Isabella had three children:

Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge; Credit – Wikipedia

Edmund took part in more campaigns in France, served as Constable of Dover Castle, and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. In 1377, Edmund was granted Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire, which became a favorite home of the Dukes of York, and Anstey Castle in Hertfordshire. In the same year, Edmund’s nephew succeeded his grandfather as King Richard II of England. At Richard’s coronation, Edmund carried the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Dove, also called the Rod of Equity and Mercy. In 1381, Edmund served as chief commissioner in his nephew’s marriage negotiations to marry Anne of Bohemia. Edmund was created Duke of York in 1385.

Isabella died December 23, 1392 at about the age of 37. She was buried at the Church of the Dominicans in Kings Langley. Less than a year later, Edmund made a second marriage to Lady Joan Holland, whose father, Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent, was a half-brother to King Richard II. Edmund and Joan had no children.

King Richard II of England, Edmund’s nephew; Credit – Wikipedia

King Henry IV of England, Edmund’s nephew; Credit – Wikipedia

In 1399, Edmund was acting as regent while his nephew King Richard II was in Ireland. Henry of Bolingbroke, another nephew, the son of Edmund’s brother John of Gaunt, was planning to depose his cousin Richard. Edmund was prepared to oppose Henry, but instead decided to make peace with him. King Richard II eventually was abandoned by his supporters and was forced by Parliament on September 29, 1399 to abdicate the crown to his cousin Henry. King Henry IV, first king of the House of Lancaster, was crowned in Westminster Abbey of October 13, 1399. Richard was imprisoned at Pontefract Castle in Yorkshire where he died on or around February 14, 1400. The exact cause of his death, thought to have been starvation, is unknown. Edmund was rewarded by his nephew King Henry IV by being appointed a member of the Privy Council and Master of the Royal Mews.

Edmund of Langley, Duke of York, age 61, died on August 1, 1402 at his birthplace and was buried with his first wife at the Church of the Dominicans at Kings Langley. Edmund’s tomb was moved to the Church of All Saints in Kings Langley in 1575, and can still be seen there.

edmund-of-langley-tomb

Tomb of Edmund of Langley; Photo Credit – www.findagrave.com

Wikipedia: Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York

Works Cited
“Edmund of Langley, 1st duke of York.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 26 Oct. 2016. Web. 5 Dec. 2016.
“Isabella of Castile, Duchess of York.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 8 Sept. 2016. Web. 5 Dec. 2016.
“Joan Holland.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Nov. 2016. Web. 5 Dec. 2016.
Jones, Dan. The Plantagenets. New York: Viking, 2012. Print.
Williamson, David. Brewer’s British Royalty. London: Cassell, 1996. Print.