Tag Archives: The Despenser War

King Edward II [Kathryn Warners’ Edward the second Blogspot]/Hugh, Lord Despenser (c. 1309-1349)

A post today about Hugh, Lord Despenser, the eldest son of Hugh Despenser the Younger and Eleanor de Clare, and grandson of Hugh Despenser the Elder, earl of Winchester.  As was the case with many noble families of the Middle Ages, the Despensers were none too creative when it came to naming their children; the chancery rolls of the 1320s, when all three generations of Hugh Despensers were active, contain a few confusing references to ‘Hugh, son of Hugh le Despenser the son’.  Hrrrrrm.  Edward II’s last chamber journal of 1325/26 refers to Hugh by the short form Huchon, and the Anonimalle chronicle calls him Hughelyn or ‘little Hugh’, both of which I think are absolutely delightful.  In this post, I’ll call him Huchon to save any confusion with his father and grandfather, and because this seems to have been how he was known by his great-uncle Edward II.  I’ve also been known, along with Susan Higginbotham, to call him Hugh Despenser the Even Younger or HDEY for short.

 

 

 

 

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[Susan Higginbotham’s History Refreshed]/Guest Post by Kathryn Warner: Edward II and the Despensers

 

I’m so pleased to welcome my friend Kathryn Warner for her new biography of Edward II. I’ve been looking forward to a book like this for years, and what better person than Kathryn to write it?

 

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Kathryn and I first met online a number of years ago, when I published my first novel, The Traitor’s Wife, about Eleanor de Clare, Edward II’s favorite niece and the wife of his favorite, Hugh le Despenser the younger.  Given that, what better topic for this guest post than Edward II and the Despenser family? Over to Kathryn:

 

Edward II Effigy

King Edward II of England (reigned 1307 to 1327) is famous, or infamous, for his reliance on male ‘favourites’, the best known of whom is Piers Gaveston, whom Edward made earl of Cornwall and who was beheaded by a group of the king’s aggrieved barons in June 1312.  The last of the favourites, Hugh Despenser the Younger, is not nearly so well-known, even though he was far more politically powerful than Piers Gaveston and helped bring about the king’s downfall and his own in 1326/27.  Rather curiously, Edward II also had some kind of intense relationship near the end of his reign with Hugh Despenser’s wife – who happened to be his own niece, Eleanor de Clare.

 

Hugh Despenser the Younger was born sometime in the late 1280s as the elder son of Hugh Despenser the Elder, stepson of the earl of Norfolk and later earl of Winchester (1261-1326) and Isabel Beauchamp (1260s-1306), daughter and sister of earls of Warwick and first cousin of the earl of Ulster.  Hugh the Younger made a splendid marriage in May 1306 when Edward I arranged and attended his wedding to his eldest granddaughter Eleanor de Clare, thirteen-year-old daughter of the earl of Gloucester and Edward I’s second daughter Joan of Acre.  Hugh and Eleanor’s relationship seems to have been successful, as they had at least ten children together in their twenty-year marriage: Hugh, Edward, Gilbert, John, Isabel, Joan, Eleanor, Margaret, Elizabeth and an unnamed boy who died young in 1321.

 

 

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