Thomas of Lancaster, rebel cousin of King Edward II, from warlord to Saint/Chapter Ten


File:Thomas Plantagenet, Earl of Lancaster.jpg,_2nd_Earl_of_LancasterTHOMAS 2ND EARL OF LANCASTER

Thomas of Lancaster’s main possessions (Maddicott).THOMAS OF LANCASTER’S MAIN POSSESSIONS,_2nd_Earl_of_Lancaster



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Edward was twice jeered by Lancaster’s garrison at Pontefract in 1317 & 1320 as he passed from north to south 


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Thomas, Earl of Lancaster


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A photo of a small dark silver religious panel depicting the beheading of a medieval man

The beheading of the Earl is portrayed within the panel© MOLA / Andy Chopping

Readers!Only yesterday I sent to you Chapter Nine of my ”Book” articleabout Earl Thomas of Lancaster, cousin of king EdwardYou know the drama story of course, situated in the first half of14th century England:It is all about the fight for Power between king Edward II and his not sodear cousin, Thomas, the 2nd Earl of Lancaster, initially loyal to his royalcousin king Edward, then fell out with him for various personal and politicalreasons, engaged him in open battle and finally was executed.AND…..what was extraordinary bizarre, since the man wasn’t ”Holy” at all,was declared a Saint in the twenties of the 14th century, although not officiallyby Holy Church.










For interesting Question:

The King had won the Fight for Power, but did he really win?

How did it really end?

Today I introduce Five Persons, who played a major role in

the later, destructive, Events:















King Edward II


The Despensers


Roger Mortimer


Queen Isabella


Henry of Lancaster

The unfair trial and execution of Thomas of Lancaster
was not the end of the story:
On the contrary:
It  would cast its shadows over the years to come.

With the champion of the Ordinances [588] dead, the way was paved for
a new and horrific Era in English history::
The tyranny……[589]
In may 1322, two months after the execution of Thomas
of Lancaster, the Ordinances were revoked [590], which gave King
Edward II and his favourites the Despensers all the space
they needed, without considering law and justice.

This had started with the execution and unfair trial of Thomas
of Lancaster, who was the first Earl to be executed since Waltheof [1076!],[591]
, following more Contrariants, also after unfair trials or simply
executed,  twenty or 22 in total [592], in one case even
the horrible traitor’s death.[593]
Prisons were filled with Contrariants, others were exiled
and some even being  forced to ”acknowledge” that they owed large debts to the king in return for a pardon. [594]
Pure maffialike extortion…..

Even their wives and children were imprisoned, although
they had nothing to to with the Despenser war rebellion,
often suffering harsh prison. [595]
But to be fair:
In case of Lady Badlesmere, who had refused
Queen Isabella admittance to Leeds Castle
, while on pilgrimage and
whose castle was besieged by the King in retaliation [596]:
She was imprisoned ”only” for a year and released seven
months after the brutal execution [traitor’s death] of
her husband in april 1322. [597]


Hell broke loose in those years of total arbitrariness and injustice in
which the Despensers did as they pleased, always backed by
a consenting King, as though they had hypnotised him…..

But as this dramatic story will reveal, soon
those, who imposed death penalty on Thomas of Lancaster,

pursued his and the Marcher Lord’s followers without mercy,  bringing
injustice and terror in the land, would learn,
that the very lawliness business they had created,  would
blow up in their faces……. [598]

Let’s have a close look at how fared the mayor players in this drama:



If the King had thought that he ”had it all”, by executing his cousin
Thomas of Lancaster
and crushing his opposition and that of the Marcher Lords,
he would be tragically mistaken.
Because now Lancaster gone and the opposition against Edward II’s destructive
reign [remember, those favourites!] destroyed, there was no one from
restraining him [Edward II], to run fast in the direction of his own downfall.
And holding the Despensers at his side, would prove desastrous for
both the King and the Despensers, although it must have seemed otherwise
in 1322.

Opposition not dead and buried:

At first not all opposition was dead and buried:
From 1323, Edward II had to deal with the veneration cult of
Saint Thomas [Edward II’s executed cousin Thomas of Lancaster] [599], which was
not only disconcerting for him and the Despensers, but also an
utterance of protest against his reign, that grew to be more unpopular
day by day.
Who were behind the ”reports” about the miracles at the tomb [or place
of execution] of Thomas of Lancaster, was unclear:
Perhaps just popular tales, but perhaps Thomas’ brother, Henry
of Lancaster [600], who, harmless as he looked [not participating
in his brother’s rebellions] would prove to be a very danger for Edward II and the

Another blow to Edward II was the spectacular escape from the Tower of London,
of leader Marcher Lord, Roger Mortimer in august 1323
[one of the few successful escapes from the Tower] [601].
Mortimer fled to France, what would prove desastrous for Edward II…..

Also, other Contrariants fled to France  [602], where they formed a circle
of resistance against the Edward II/Despenser regime…

Growing opposition against the regime Edward II/Despensers:

But the remaining Contrariant’s opposition [later led from France] is one thing.
More dangerous, at the moment, was the growing resistance against
the avariciousness and maffia like practices of the Despensers [603], with
the blessing of the King.
People,not only his magnates, but also lower born,  got more and more fed up with the bad rule, the injustice and King’s favouritism towards the Despensers, who ruled
in Edward’s name as if they were the King.
But that was not enough:
King Edward, champion in making enemies in those days [which proved to
be tragic], even managed to estrange a part of the higher clergy from him,
driving some of them right in the arms of the Contrariants inspired resistance. [604]
I mention the Bishops Adam Orleton, bishop of Hereford,
John Droxford, bishop of Bath and Wells, Henry Burghersh, bishop of Lincoln, John Statford, bishop of Winchester
Stratford, John Hothum, bishop of Ely and William Airmyn,  bishop of Norwich [605]

Not a clever chess player, King Edward II…….

Tensions with France:

As if the problems at home were not enough [606], to
make things worse [poor King Edward II……], in 1324 Edward II quarreled

big time [607]  with his brother in law, [his wife Isabella’s brother], King
Charles IV [608]
They had a serious row over Gascony [the land in France, the Plantagenet Kings had
inherited via their ancestor Eleanor of Aquitaine.
For that land they had to do homage
for the French King for their lands, the French King being their liegelord in France,
but that homage always was a source for tension between England and France] [609]
Edward also had to pay homage for Ponthieu, which was his inheritance
from his mother, Eleanor of Castile, countess of Ponthieu in her own right. [610]
This war had far reaching consequences for the relation between Edward II
and his wife Isabella, the sister of Charles IV.

Because Edward II did a ”great thing” ……..
During the war, ordered the arrest of any French persons in England and seized Isabella’s lands, on the basis that she was of French origin……[612]

Given the fact, that those measures were unfair anyway, since the
French in England, nor the Queen, were NOT responsible for the
measures of the French King, it was utterly unfair to Isabella,
who, until now, had been a loyal Queen to Edward.
Her life was not made much easier, by this, added to the fact,
that favourite Hugh Despenser was [seemingly] the TOP priority
for Edward and the Despensers did not allow ANYONE alone
with the King, even not his wife……[613]

But back to the war:
At a certain moment, it was agreed, that negociations would
take place between Edward II and Charles IV.

To perform them, Edward II sent his wife Isabella, sister
of Charles IV, to France [which proved to be desastrous later] [614]
who started the negociations late march 1325.
She did the best she could, but it proved to be difficult.

Charles IV insisted, that Edward II came to France to pay homage
for Gascony and Ponthieu.
And don’t underestimate it:
That homage thing was very serious:
When one failed, the lands were forfeited to the liege lord,
in this case, Charles IV. [615]
So homage was necessary.

Now Edward II had a huge problem.
He could not leave England like that, since the growing
unrest in the country, stemming from the unpopularity
of the Edward II/Despenser rule.
But that was not the only worry of Edward II.

One can safely say, that at that moment
[apart from his children], Hugh Despenser the Younger perhaps
was the most important person in Edward’s life.
He depended strongly upon him, both political and emotional.
Now there was a clear chance, that without Edward II’s protection,
Hugh and his father risked to be killed in an uprising.

But taking Hugh with him to France was no option either, since
Hugh was hated there because of his piracy [during his banishment
during the Despenser War] and risked to be arrested. [616]

So it was an enormous dilemma for Edward, which he tried to
solve by sending his son Edward of Windsor [ [the later Edward III,
whom his father had made duke of Aquitaine and count of Ponthieu]  to pay homage in his father’s place.

Was that a wise decision?
Because now the successor to the throne was out of
his father’s control and under the influence of his mother
Isabella [he was 12 years old], who had an agenda of her own…..

Yet Edward II had no other options……

Because when nether he nor his son would pay homage,
his lands would be forfeited, as I have pointed out above.

Isabella in France/Refusal to return to England

Well, Edward of Windsor, the 12 year old son of Edward II, payed homage in september
1325 [617], but then the mess really began.
Because apparently Edward II expected his wife and son to come back
to England and Isabella refused, pointing out, that she wanted Hugh Despenser
removed from Court.
Out in the open she accused her husband from supposedly having a
romantic and sexual relationship with Hugh.
In France she held a speech, stating
”’”I feel that marriage is a joining together of man and woman, maintaining the undivided habit of life, and that someone has come between my husband and myself trying to break this bond; I protest that I will not return until this intruder is removed, but discarding my marriage garment, shall assume the robes of widowhood and mourning until I am avenged of this Pharisee.” [618]
She made quite a show by dressing like a widow, since
Hugh Despenser had come beteen her and her husband. [619]

Her refusal to return to her husband was, of course,
a scandal in those Medieval times.

Some sources suggest, that the intention
of her speech was, that she wanted to save her marriage and to go back to her husband, when he would send Despenser away, while
others say, that she knew quite well, that the King would
refuse and that she used it as a pretext to side with his enemies
and depose him.

Now I can’t read Queen Isabella’s mind [no one can],
but I think that whatever her intentions, she could have known
that Edward would never send Despenser away….

Anyway, whatever Isabella wanted, felt or planned, Edward
made it perfectly clear, that sending Hugh away would
NEVER going to happen. [620]


Learning, that his wife refused to come back [since
HE refused to send his favourite Hugh Despenser away],
Edward began to write a series of letters, to the Pope
and King Charles IV of France, urging his concern about
his wife’s absence, but to no avail. [621]
Charles IV protected his sister, replying: ‘The queen has come of her will, and may freely return if she so wishes. But if she prefers to remain in these parts, she is my sister, and I will not detain her.’ [622]
[Wikipedia mentions not ”detain” but ”expel”] [623]

Edward II, in reaction of  Isabella’s refusal return to him
, cut off her expenses in mid-November 1325, and, short of funds, the queen was forced to borrow 1000 Paris livres from Charles IV on 31 December. [624]

Edward II wrote his last-ever letter to Isabella on 1 December 1325, ordering her home and claiming that he was suffering badly from her ‘so very long absence’.
This letter contained [certainly to the annoyment of Isabella!]
endlessly long  justifications for Hugh Despenser the Younger’s behaviour. [625]
Edward wrote simulateous letters  to his son Edward of Windsor, Charles IV and numerous French magnates and bishops. [626]

Edward defended Hugh Despenser also before before the parliament which began at Westminster – the last one he ever held – on 18 November 1325. [627]

If there were tabloids in those days, what a sensational stories
they could have written.

Contrariants, with a vengeance!/Roger Mortimer

We have met Roger Mortimer already, the powerful
Marcher Lord and ally of Thomas of Lancaster in
the Despenser war, imprisoned in the Tower and escaped
in 1323, fled to France. [628]

Probably between october 1325 and february 1326, Isabella associated
herself with  Roger Mortimer. [629]

In and around february 1326 , that Edward II complained that his queen was ‘adopting the counsel’ of Roger Mortimer and his allies on the Continent [630] [meaning other English noblemen and knights who had joined the 1321/22 Contrariant rebellion against the king and the Despensers and who fled the country after the Contrariant defeat at the battle of Boroughbridge on 16 March 1322, where Thomas
of Lancaster was captured and the Earl of Hereford was
killed in battle]
Of course it was obvious, that taken from Edward II’s and
medieval point of view, this act of Isabella was treason and
he was right to complain.

There is often suggested, that she already had associated
herself with him in England and even helped him escape
from the Tower.
Possible, I don’t know

What I DO know is, that they associated in France and would
stay allies until the end.
Were they lovers, as is usually assumed? [631]
In each case, they were very closely associated, but of course
there is no proof for a romance, as there is no proof for the romantic
relationship of Edward II with Hugh Despenser, [although
Edward II with Hugh Despenser seems
seems yet more probable, since the intense need of Edward
for this guy, defending him against all odds….]

Be as it may, Isabella associated herself with Roger and
other Contariants as Sir William Trussel [632], a die hard ally of
Thomas of Lancaster and soon her environment
became a circle for the resistance against the Edward II
Despensers rule.


To cut a long story short.
The ”Court” of Isabella became a centre of the resistance
against the Edward II/Despenser rule, including
King’s own halfbrother, the Earl of Kent [633]:
In order to do that, they had to invade England.
So Isabella and Roger went to Hainault [part of
modern Belgium], where her son Edward of Windsor
[the later Edward III] was bethroted to the daughter of the
Count of Hainault with as a ”dowry”, ships, mercenaries
and cash to invade England. [634]
Which they did on september 1326.
Alas for King Edward II, they were received with great
approval and his support crumbled almost immediately.
One of the main causes was the joining with the rebels
[Isabella and Roger] of Henry of Lancaster, brother of
the executed Thomas of Lancaster [at the moment of the
invasion, Henry was only Earl of Leicester] [635], he was,
to put it mildly, certainly no friend of the Despensers.
The cause of that may be clear:
The Despensers were the main force behind the execution
of his brother Thomas, although not the only ones. [636]
Also [must be very painful for the King], King’s other
halfbrother [and full brother of the Earl of Kent] abandoned
the King and joined the rebels.

Almost deserted by everybody [with special thanks to the
Despenser’s evil councils, although it was Edward II’s choice
to favourite them], the King and the Despensers fled London,
westwards with the King.
Despenser the Elder tried to defend Bristol, but had to
surrender himself. [637]

After a mock trial [a parody of that of Thomas of Lancaster]

he was condemned to be hanged, drawn and quatered [horrible!]
on the orders of Roger Mortimer, Queen Isabella, Henry of Lancaster
and others. [638]

The King and Hugh Despenser [his great favourite],

fled west and tried to sail to Lundy, a small island
off the Devon coast, but failed, because of the weather [639]
and were captured at South Wales by the forces of Henry

of Lancaster. [640]

The King went to Kenilworth, the castle of Henry
of Lancaster, who was ordered to hold him in custody
and treated him very courteously, according to his
royal rank [641]

But poor Hugh Despenser was treated totally otherwise:

After a horribly humiliating journey to Hereford, where
Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer were waiting for him.
Actually, Queen Isabella wanted him to be executed
in London [because of course he was a fair trial], but since he tried to starve himself
to death [poor man], she was afraid he would not make
Therefore his ”trial” in Hereford with his horrible execution,
to be hanged, drawn and quarted”
This gruesome execution took place on 24 november
1326. [642]


I can imagine the immense grief Edward II must have felt:
First the execution of Hugh’s father, Hugh Despenser the Elder [643]
and a month later the execution of his favourite Hugh, whom
he had defended unconditionally, whatever the consequences.
It must have been devastating to him.

As if that were not enough,
he had to face an immense humiliation, his deposition as a King.
For us, modern people, it’s hard to understand what pain
he must have been through.
Because deposing a King was unprecendented in English history
[as far as we know], the Kingship was divine [644] and was supposed
to end with the death of the King.
But of course the new de facto rulers, Isabella and Mortimer,
had this huge problem.
Edward II was still King in name, but beaten, powerless
and imprisoned.
So to execute power de jure [645], they had to get rid of him
as a King.
So the whole thing was orchestrated.
Adam Orleton, the Bishop of Hereford, strong supporter of Isabella and
Mortimer, since the King had alienated him by his unfunded accusations
of siding with the Contraraints [646], made a series of public allegations about Edward’s conduct as king, and in January 1327 a parliament convened at Westminster at which the question of Edward’s future was raised
Edward II refused to attend the gathering;[647]

To cut a long story short:
After consent of the leading barons and the clergy, in january 1327 a representative delegation of barons, clergy and knights was sent to Kenilworth to speak to the King.
Probably under thtreat [the story is told, that  if he were to resign as monarch, his son Prince Edward would succeed him, but if he failed to do so, his son might be disinherited as well, and the crown given to an alternative candidate]
, the King abdicated. [648]
His reign was formally ended, when Sir William Trussell, a strong adherer
of Thomas of Lancaster, representing the kingdom as a whole, withdrew his homage. [649]

Edward of Windsor, son of Edward II, was the new King.
He crowned in february, 1327 as King Edward III. [650]
Henry of Lancaster, his father’s cousin, was appointed as
”chief advisor” of King Edward III. [651]

His father was the first English King, who was deposed.

Edward II
From Kenilworth to Berkeley Castle

During his custody under his cousin Henry of Lancaster
[brother of Thomas of Lancaster] he was treated with all honour,
due to a King.
But, doubtless to the regret of Edward II, this was not going to last,
since there were a number of plots to free him.
Therefore the new rulers [his son Edward III was only King in name] probably for security reasons,
removed Edward from his cousin Henry to another location,
Berkeley Castle. [652]
Whereas Edward enjoyed an honourable treatment at his cousin Henry’s Castle, it is not clear, what
treatment he got in Berkeley Castle.

His custodians were Thomas Berkeley [son in law of
Roger Mortimer] [653] and his [Thomas’] brother in law, John Maltravers, who sided with the Marcher Lords in the Despenser War and fought at the side of Thomas of Lancaster in the last decisive battle, the Battle of Boroughbridge.,
after which he fled abroad, to return to England with
Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer in 1326. [654]

Now I have not the faintest idea, what treatment Edward II got
in Berkeley Castle.
According to some sources he was often mistreated [655], other sources doubt it. [656]

Well, perhaps he was not mistreated, but I have an idea, that his treatment was totally different than at his cousin Henry’s Castle, since he was surrounded by his enemies.

For whatever grudge Henry -probably- held against Edward II
because of the execution of his brother Thomas, being his
royal cousin he must have had a thorough respect of monarchy
and after all, he was a less hardliner than his brother and almost certainly no enemy of Edward [in contrary with his brother], at least not before the execution of his brother.

With Berkeley and Maltravers, I think it was another matter….

For Isabella and Roger Mortimer their problems were
not over, since new plots arose to free former King Edward II.
What happened then in Berkeley Castle is not clear, but at
23 September Edward III was informed that his father had died at Berkeley Castle during the night of 21 September. [657]

Generally accepted by fourtheenth century chroniclers
was that Edward II died indeed in Berkeley Castle at 21 september,
some wrote that he was murdered, while there were chroniclers
who thought that he died from natural causes. [658]
However, a majority, as the most historians, are in agreement,
that he probably was murdered, [659], what is quite a logical
assumption, since a natural death seemed to be too
”convenient” dor the de facto rulers and it was
clear, that Edward formed a security risk and a source of fear.


What as the adherents of Edward succeeded in their attempts to
free him and he was restored  to power again, revoked his abdication
and doubtless would take mercilessly revenge on those,
who executed the Despensers?
Exactly, Isabella and her ally/favourite and likely lover,
Roger Mortimer!

About the possible murder of Edward II a horrifying story circulated,
which was lontime widely believed, that he was murdered
by a ”red hot poker” [see for details under note 660]
But now it is commonly believed by historians as a complete invention.


Now obviously, in the Middle Ages and in our times, celebrity stories are celebrity stories and tend to be fantastic [however it CAN be the truth]
Fantastic tales about contemporary as historical celebrities,
like Kings, who were not the sons of their fathers, however fancied [662], change of babies or children [663], etc, etc, are from all
times and places and will always excite people.

So it would seem a matter of time when a story rose,
that Edward II not died at Berkeley at all, but somehow
escaped [or was freed], went abroad and lived long
after that.
But there is a minority of historians, who believe this
seemingly fantastic story and support it with evidence,
they have found.
However, it is not convincing to me yet,
but under note 664 I present to you some articles.
Judge for yourself.

But no matter how and when he died and whether he
was murdered or not, to me, Edward II was a tragic character,
who was emotionally dependent on men, yet had to marry to
secure the line of succession.
And  his deep feelings towards men, sexually or
not, which explained his dangerous and silly favouritism,
led to his downfall.
I am not saying here that he had no feelings at all
for Isabella.
There are plenty occasions where he proved his
respect and affection for her. [665]
But I am nearly convinced, that his deepest feelings were
not for her, as he clearly showed in his loves for Piers
Gaveston and especially Hugh Despenser, whom he refused
to send away from him, despite Isabella’s pleas.

That absolute loyalty to his favourites was his weakness, but makes him
sympathetic in my eyes [only that aspect, NOT his clear
vindictiveness and merciless conduct, especially after the Despenser
War], as his affinities for common people, and his generosity.  [666]

An inadequate [to put it mildly] military leader and ruler.
But also a man, capable of great loves.

A pity, that he ended so tragically, whether murdered or died
at Berkeley, whether escaped and died faraway, losing
his dearest friend Hugh, without ever seeing
his children again and never knowing his grandchildren……



Now about the Despensers, who were [not to exclude of
course  the King’s own responsibility!] the main persons,
responsible for Edward II”s and tragically also their own downfall:


One thing I must say to the defence of Hugh Despenser the Elder:
He is one of the rare magnates, who were loyal to Edward II
from start to finish, [667] in contrary with his son Hugh, who in his early years
had followed the political line of his maternal uncle, Guy de Beauchamp,
the 10th Earl Warwick, one of the executioners of Piers Gaveston.
of Warwick, one of the executioners  of Piers Gaveston…… [668]
Rather surprisingly, seen in the light of the 1320’s……..
Loyal to Edward I and serving him on numerous cases on battles [669],
Hugh Despenser the Elder was likewise to his son and successor, Edward II.
As a reward for Despenser’s loyal service and to settle a debt, Edward I owed
him, he [Edward I] married his granddaughter Eleanor de Clare [669]
to Despenser’s son, Hugh, the later favourite of Edward II. [671]

Despenser the Elder was by the way one of the few barons, who remainedloyal to Edward during the controversy regarding Piers Gaveston.
So Despenser became Edward’s loyal servant and chief administrator after
the execution [by the barons] of Piers Gaveston. [672]

And there ends the credit I give to Hugh Despenser the Elder:
It has been said over and over again:
Hugh the Elder and his son were nearly abnormally avarious and
it was one great show of landgrabbing, extortioning and imprisoning
people [in order to get their lands from them] and further misuse of
They even managed to give no one access to the King [especially
in the 1320’s, when they were at the top of their power], unless
one of them attended. [673]
Even Queen Isabella was victim to that dangerous nonsense. [674]
It comes as no surprise that they became the most hated men in
England! [675]

That show all began, when Hugh’s son, also ”Hugh” was appointed
as royal chamberlain in 1317 and somehow managed to charm
his way to the top. [676]
Because of their avariciousness and their violation of the rights
of the Marcher Lords and Despenser’s robbing of his
own brothers in law [the husbands of his sisters in law],
the former favourites of the King [Roger d’Amory and Hugh de Audley] [677],
The Despenser war started, with the King, his adherents and the Despensers
at one side and the Marcher Lords and King’s turbulent cousin Thomas
of Lancaster at the other side. [678]
The Despensers were initially exiled [the demand of the Marcher Lords and
Thomas of Lancaster], but later revoked.
The King was successful, the Marcher Lords surrendered, his cousin Thomas
of Lancaster and approximately nineteen or twenty two adherents were
executed in 1322. [679]
Those executions were preceded by either mock trials or no trial at all.
In the case of Thomas of Lancaster, a mock trial took place in his
own, favourite Castle of Pontefract with as ”judges”, his cousin King
Edward II, of course the Despensers and others [ the earls of Kent, Pembroke, Richmond, Surrey, Arundel, the Scottish earls of Angus and Atholl and the justice Robert Malberthorpe] [680]

The Ordinances [curbing the royal power], to which Thomas
of Lancaster had given his heart, were revoked in may 1322
and nothing stood in the way of the reign of terror, Edward II
and the Despensers established. [681]
And in 1322, Despenser the Elder was created Earl of Winchester. [682]

Eventually, due to tensions with France, Queen Isabella
[who had suffered by the King’s favouritism of Despenser the
Younger] left for France as a mediator between Edward II and
her brother, Charles IV. [683]
She did not come back, associated herself with Roger Mortimer
[the most powerful Marcher Lord and ally of Thomas of Lancaster,
who, Mortimer I mean, had escaped from the Tower of London].
They invaded England in 1326, captured the King and
Hugh Despenser the Younger and put an end to that terror regime.

That’s the history.
Before capturing the King however, Hugh Despenser the Elder,
who tried to defend Bristol, surrendered Bristol Castle to
Isabella and Mortimer.

He was given a mock trial by Mortimer, Isabella, Henry of Lancaster [who had scores to settle with the Despensers….]and a few others at Bristol Castle in October 1326, in what was clearly intended as a parody of Thomas of Lancaster’s trial.

Gory detail:
He was hanged in his armour, his head was sent to Winchester on a spear, and his body was cut up and fed to dogs…[685]


Edmund Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel, one of the executioners
of King’s favourite Piers Gaveston [686] [together with
the 10th Earl of Warwick, the Earl of Hereford and Thomas
of Lancaster], who later completely changed sides and
became loyal to the King.
He was one of the ”judges”, who condemned
Thomas of Lancaster, his former ”partner in evil”
[execution of Piers Gaveston] to death…… [687]
To his credit however must be said, that he
stayed loyal to Edward II till the end and fled with him
and Hugh Despenser the Younger [his close relation
by marriage, since his son was married with Despenser’s
eldest daughter Isabel] to Wales.
In November 1326, Edmund was captured by John Charlton, who had been Edward II’s chamberlain until 1318.

Edmund was beheaded, almost certainly without a trial, on 17 November 1326, probably at Hereford, though one chronicle says Shrewsbury.

Two of Edmund’s friends, John Daniel and Thomas [or Robert] de Micheldever, were executed with him…….[688]

Horrible, all those executions…..

Hugh Despenser the Younger

Despenser the Elder’s son, another ”Hugh”, was the great favourite
of King Edward II.
Originally following the political line of his uncle [brother
of his mother Isabella de Beauchamp, married Despenser],
the 10th Earl of Warwick [one of the executioners
of Edward II’s favourite Piers Gaveston] [689], nevertheless he
was appointed to royal chamberlain in the autumn of 1318 [690]
and somehow managed to charm himself into the favour
of Edward II.
Now the function of royal chamberlain was an extremely powerful one. since the chamberlain controlled access, physical and written, to the king and the physical proximity and the frequent contact gave Despenser a real advantage to become ”intimate” with the King
[whether physical or not].

Be it as it may:
Despenser became the second great favourite of Edward II,
after Piers Gaveston and he could do almost anything and yet
hold the King’s favour.

The Despenser war [the name says enough] was fought because of him [reason: his and
his father’s extreme avariciousness and ambition, disadvantaging
the other nobles, especially the Marcher Lords] [691], leading to
his [and his father’s] banishment, but revoked by Edward as soon
as possible.

Edward held on to his extreme attachment to him, against
the pleas of his estranged wife Isabella [from France], to
send him away, as we have seen in my writings above.

His and his father’s [rising with his son’s power] avariousness
and numerous crimes in the 1320’s after the Despenser war was won by the King and the Ordinances [the great cause of Thomas of
Lancaster] were
revoked and all their enemies were either dead, imprisoned
or exiled, led to his downfall.

After the invasion in september 1326 of Queen Isabella and her ally [lover] Roger Mortimer
and the support of Edward II was crumbling down [mainly
because of the hatred against the Despensers], theDespenser  game was over.

His father Hugh was captured in Bristol and executed after a
mock trial, a parody of the trial and execution of Thomas
of Lancaster [692] and Hugh and the King were captured
in South Wales by the forces of Henry of Lancaster [brother
of the executed Thomas of Lancaster, who immediately
had taken the sides of Isabella and Roger Mortimer against
King Edward II and the Despensers] [693]
and Hugh Despenser’s fate was sealed.

Poor vain man, who overplayed his hands….

It was now all suffering, to the end:
It was reported by several chroniclers that, since the capture, Hugh had refused all food and water in an attempt to try and starve himself to death before his execution. [694]

Now I can’t resist to point out the following:
Hugh Despenser was captured at 16 november, and executed
on the 24th.
Now it IS possible, that someone can manage without food
for eight days [in a very weakened state, the maximum seems three weeks], but it is impossible not to DRINK for eight days.
The maximum without drink [and then you are from the world
already] seems to be a week. [695]
But complete with hallicunations, complete weakness.
So no way Despenser should have made a journey from
South Wales to Hereford [where they brought him in a rather fast
time, between eight days] and survived….

So he will have refused FOOD and survived the journey, but not drink.

His journey was utterly humiliating and he was accompanied to Hereford by Henry de Leyburne
[who had fought for Thomas of Lancaster in the last
Battle of Boroughbridge] and Robert de Stangrave and
they made sure that it was a journey from hell. [696]

Factually, Queen Isabella wished to have Hugh executed in
London, but apparently because of his weakness [the hungerstrike], Hereford was decided for the ”trial”
and place of execution.

When he arrived in Hereford, of course, horrible, new
humiliations were the poor man’s fate [697]

At last, he faced his ”trial” at the marketplace in Hereford:

His ”judges” were Henry, earl of Lancaster, the earl of Kent
[ironic! Kent also was, together with the Despensers,
one of the ”judges” in the trial of Thomas of
Lancaster…], Roger de Mortimer and others [698]

As had happened at the trial of Thomas of Lancaster in 1322, Hugh was not permitted to speak in his defence. [699]

And the outcome was, of course predictable, since revenge
[from Isabella and Roger Mortimer against Despenser, from Henry of Lancaster against Despenser] was the case here.

Hugh was sentenced to the traitors death:
To be hanged, drawn and quartered and he suffered the whole
horror of that sentence……

Sir William Trussel, strong adherer of Thomas of Lancaster,
who had fought at his side at the Battle of Boroughbridge
‘fled to France and returned with Isabella and Roger Mortimer]
[700] read out the charges  against Hugh Despenser [701]

And the outcome was, of course predictable, since revenge
[from Isabella and Roger Mortimer against Despenser, from Henry of Lancaster against Despenser] was the case here.

Hugh was sentenced to the traitors death: [702]
To be hanged, drawn and quartered and he suffered the whole
horror of that sentence……

At 24 november 1326 [703]
Together with him also Simon Reading, a rather unknown man,
who was captured together with Despenser and the King and whose ”crime” seemed to have been [he got no trial]
to have ”insulted” the Queen, was hanged. [704]

That was the hideous end of Hugh Despenser the Younger, the
great favourite of Edward II.

What a death.
Whatever he had done, no he didn’t deserves to die like that.
No one deserves to die like that.




And now about Roger Mortimer, powerful Marcher Lord and
ally of Thomas of Lancaster.
How fared he?

The story is known about the Despenser war Roger, Thomas and
their allies fought out against the Despensers and ultimately
King Edward II,  I wrote it already extensively in chapter six and

A powerful Marcher Lord, Initially loyal to the King, being King’s Lieutenant and
Justiciar in Ireland [705], Roger Mortimer came into
rebellion, together with his uncle Roger Mortimer de Chirk  and
many others, because of Edward II´s extreme favouritism of the Despensers, which
disadvantaged the Marcher Lords. [706]
This resulted in the Despenser war in which the Marcher Lords destroyed
Despenser lands [707], but also attacked, pillaged and extortioned
innocents, with as main victims poor villagers ¨[708]
They formed a close alliance with Thomas of Lancaster, who was yearlong
in opposition against his cousin and King.
At the end, Thomas of
Lancaster was defeated in the Battle of Boroughbridge on 16 march 1322 and executed on 22 march 1322 after
a mock trial [709], with so many others also executed (not always after a ´´trial,
Roger Mortimer and his uncle de Chirk, who were already complelled
to surrender in january 1322 [711], were imprisoned at the Tower of London.

One of the few who ever escaped the Tower of London!
He fled to France and there he met other Contrariants (rebels against the
King in the Despenser war), who fled England after the defeat at Boroughbridge.


But Mortimer was an ambitious man, who wanted his power, position and
lands back.
That was only possible with a military victory against the King, which meant a military
invasion of England.
Now for him, that step was not so great.
He had rebelled against his king before.

But the main problem:
With whom to associate, who enabled him to raise an
army and for whom the people in England were prepare to fight?

Question, question, untill Queen Isabella arrived in France in 1325,
for mediating between her husband Edward II and brother
King Charles IV in their military conflict over Gascony [713]
She DID mediate, but then did not return to England under the pretext
(or perhaps she really meant it, which is more likely) that Hugh Despenser had
ruined her marriage (as if he did that singlehanded, without the passionate
cooperation of Edward II) and that she would not return to England unless Edward
would send him away [714]
Of course he refused (she could have known that before….) infatuated
with the man as he was. [715]

To cut a long story short
Isabella and Mortimer associated with each other, probably as lovers
(or perhaps that came later), but chiefly for having a strong common interest,
certainly now the successor to the throne, prince Edward (who payed homage over Gascony and Ponthieu instead of his father Edward II) was in France under
his mother´s guard.

Mortimer alone could not go to England and demand the throne for prince Edward.
But Isabella, his ally änd possible lover, and the mother of the successor to
the throne, could and, presenting her as a Lady in distresss, put aside by
her husband, who preferred his favourite, would do for the people to
fight for her…..[716]

So Isabella promised to marry her son Edward to Philippa, daughter of
the Count of Hainault.
As  a ´´dowry´´ she got the necessary troops, cash and
merecenaries [717] and she and Mortimer invaded England in september 1326.
The support for Edward II was now crumbling down, his cousin Henry of Lancaster
(brother of Thomas of Lancaster) and his halfbrother the Earl of Norfolk [718]
[his other halfbrother and full brother of the Earl of Norfolk, the Earl of Kent,
had already joined Isabella and Mortimer in France) [719] abandoned him and at the end, Edward II was captured together with his favourite, Hugh Despenser the Younger.
The Despensers were hideously executed…..

Edward was compelled to abdicate in january 1327 in favour of his son [720]
who became Edward III, but for the moment, only ruler in name (until 1330)
Isabella and Mortimer were the de facto rulers..


Because of the period of tyranny of Edward II and the Despensers, Isabella
and Mortimer were received as heroes and saviours of the nation
and in the beginning
it must have seemed for many people, that better times had come:
But soon they would be disappointed

But first:
Apart from the hideous executions of the Despensers and the executions
of some of their adherents [like the Earl of Arundel], some good things
turned out of this invasion.
Many people, imprisoned by the Despensers, were pardoned [721] and doubtless
to the satisfaction of Henry of Lancaster and the former adherents of his
brother Thomas [and remember, Roger Mortimer had been Thomas’ ally during
the Despenser war], the trial of Thomas was reversed [722]

Henry, who  had  petitioned for his brothers
Earldoms and got Leicester back in 1324 [723] [but NOT the rest of his Earldoms, which were forfeited,
since Thomas was executed as a traitor], was restored in his brother’s Earldoms and
now officially the Earl of Lancaster. [724]
In 1327, Henry also was made chief of the Council of Regency [since King Edward III
was a minor, yet] [725]


In september 1327, former King Edward II died at Berkeley Castle,
probably murdered [726], although some modern historians presume that he
escaped and lived years and years  abroad. [727]
Be as it may:
Young King Edward III believed his father was murdered, since
that was one of the charges against Roger Mortimer in 1330. [728]


The rather abrupt death of King Edward II casted, of course, a shadow
on their reign, but there was more:
If people had hoped, all things would be better with the Despensers gone,
they were mistaken!
There was a new terror reign, this time not the Despenser terror, but the Isabnella
and Mortimer terror.
In fact, there was a new ”favourite” in the land, Hugh Despenser, favourite
of former King Edward Ii, was simply replaced by Roger Mortimer, favourite
of Queen Isabella…..
The pair was abnormally avaricious, worse than the Despensers ever had
been and their political opponents suffered prison and execution too. [729]
They rewarded themselves  [and family] with vast estates and the expenses of the royal
treasury and in 1328 Roger Mortimer was made the Earl of March.

Moreover they made peace with Scotland, which made them very unpopular. [730]

This and their avariciousness led to great discontentment in the lands and their allies
began to desert them.
The first was Henry of Lancaster, who had enough of the ”tyranny”,among else since the Council of Regency [from which he was chief] was de facto ousted out of power.
He raised an army against the Mortimer/Isabella regime in 1328, since like his
brother Thomas before, he had many armed man at his disposal, but
he failed, although he was spared from death.
But in exchange for the ”mercy” of Isabella and Mortimer, he had to
pay a very huge fine……[731]
Apparently, Henry resembled his brother Thomas’ rebellious nature more
than it had seemed in the past…..

So discontent with Isabella and Mortimer grew day by day and more former adherents abandoned them. [732]


As if they were not unpopular enough, the Isabella and Mortimer
pair executed the King’s uncle, Edmund of Woodstock, the Earl of Kent. [733]

This Earl of Kent had interesting ”life and times”:
Halfbrother of King Edward II, he, together with the Despensers
[and others] had been one of the ”judges” in the mock trial
against Thomas of Lancaster [734], later went to the Pope to promote
the very Thomas’ canonization ……[735]
He took part in the rebellion of Isabella and Mortimerf against
his halfbrother King Edward II.
And to make the story complete:
He was one of the ”judges”  at the mock
trial of Hugh Despenser the Elder [736] and present at the trial against
Hugh Despenser the Younger [737]
The same men with whom he sentenced Thomas of Lancaster to death….
Speaking from ”switching sides”………

What lead to Kent’s execution:

After apparently have participated  in the failed rebellion of
Henry of Lancaster [Thomas’ brother] against Isabella and Mortimer [738]
[and, as Henry, been spared by the Isabella/Mortimer regime], it
was not over yet and Kent played a far more dangerous game:

He became involved in another plot against the Isabella/Mortimer pair
, when he was convinced by rumours that his halfbrother was still alive…..[739]

According to some historians, the whole ”Edward II is still alive” thing,
was a set up by Roger Mortimer to lure Kent into a trap to commit
treason against his nephew, the present King, Edward III [740]
Some modern historians allege, that in fact Edward II WAS still alive and
that somehow Kemt had got some proof of that [741]

Be as it may [I let the reader judge for him or herself], whether
Kent was naive and gullible enough to believe that the dead Edward
II was not dead after all or that Edward II REALLY lived, it is to be praised
in Edmund, Earl of Kent, that he tried to free his halfbrother, former
King Edward II.

Needless to say, that Roger and Isabella were not pleased at all:

Poor Earl of Kent was executed at 19 march 1330…..[742]

But at the end, this worked all wrong for Roger Mortimer, since
the death of Kent was one of the charges against him in 1330…..[743]


Since Kent had that high royal status [son of late king Edward I, halfbrother of
former king Edward II and uncle of present king Edward III] [744] the executioner was unwilling to take part in the judicial murder of a king’s son and fled, and so the unfortunate Kent had to wait around in his shirt for many hours until a common felon under sentence of death was offered his freedom if he agreed to wield the axe……. [745]


””Whereas the king’s affairs and the affairs of his realm have been directed until now to the damage and dishonour of him and his realm and to the impoverishment of his people, as he has well perceived and as the facts prove*, wherefore he has, of his own knowledge and will, caused certain persons to be arrested, to wit the earl of La Marche [i.e. Roger Mortimer], Sir Oliver de Ingham, and Sir Simon de Bereford, who have been principal movers of the said affairs, and he wills that all men shall know that he will henceforth govern his people according to right and reason, as befits his royal dignity**, and that the affairs that concern him and the estate of his realm shall be directed by the common counsel of the magnates of the realm and in no other wise…” [746]

Proclamation of King Edward III, the day after the arrest of Roger
Mortimer [747]

I wrote it before:
People became more and more fed up with the Isabella and
Mortimer terror and the execution of the Earl of Kent,
King’s uncle, was probably the last straw.
But there was more to it.

Young King Edward III, who was untill now the ‘puppet king”
in the hands of his mother and Roger Mortimer, grew more
and more dissatisfied about this state of affair.

And I can state safely here, that the execution of his uncle,
Earl of Kent, did NOT have Edward III’s consent, since
one of the later charges against Roger Mortimer was
procuring the death of King Edward III’s uncle, the
said Earl of Kent. [748]

To cut a long story short:

King Edward III was fed up with Mortimer [probably
he suspected him Mortimer already of the alleged
murder on his father, since that also was one of
the charges held against Mortimer] [749]
Likely the last straw was the birth of his
eldest son, the later ”Black Prince” in june 1330 [750]

So the King Edward III, with the help of his dearest and
closest friend, William Montecute [son of
the former favourite of Edward II, William Montecute,
who formed a ”triumvirate” together with the two other favourites,
Roger Damory and Hugh Audley] [751]
and other companions of his [Edward III’s] age,
made a clever plan, that was very well prepared.
Although spontaneous by nature, probably
Edward had planned some sort of movement
against Mortimer all along
[which was difficult enough to execute, since
Isabella and Mortimer had spies in his household]


Mortimer and Isabella were at Nothingham Castle
and there the show began:

Via a secret tunnel [likely Isabella and Mortimer
were not aware of that] Edward III, his close friend Montecute
and his other loyal knights entered the Castle and Isabella and
Mortimer, who were in conference with their few adherents left,
were totally surprised and Roger was arrested, despite [according
to the chroncicles] Isabella was supposed to have pleaded for him:
‘Fair son, have pity on gentle [translated as ”from noble birth”]
Mortimer”  [752]

The reign of Edward III now de facto [Latin for ”in fact”] had started.

Mortimer was imprisoned  in the Tower of London until his trial on 26 November. [753]
But ”trial” is a too big word for what really happened:
Like of Thomas of Lancaster and the Despensers, Roger was not permitted to speak in his own defence when he was taken before Parliament at Westminster.
He was charged with fourteen crimes, including: the murder of Edward II; procuring the death of Edward’s half-brother Kent; and taking royal power and using it to enrich himself, his children and his supporters. [754]

Of course, Roger was found guilty of these crimes, and ‘many others’, by notoriety, that is, his crimes were ‘notorious and known for their truth to you and all the realm’. [755]

He was convicted to be ”hanged, drawn and quartered” [the
”traitors death”], but King Edward III showed himself
merciful and commuted his punishment to ”merely” hanging. [756]

He was executed at Tyburn, the first nobleman to be hanged there.
Tyburn was the execution site for common criminals, and hanging was the method used to dispatch them. Noblemen were usually beheaded. [757]

But obviously, Edward III wanted him to be executed as a
common criminal.

Some of the young knights who supported and aided Edward III during his coup were later rewarded with earldoms: William Montacute, with Salisbury [758] Robert Ufford, with Suffolk; William Clinton, with Huntingdon and so others [759]


And so passed Roger de Mortimer, 3rd baron de Mortimer,
1st Earl of March. [760]
He had gambled for power and eventually lost.

But…….through the marriage of his greatgrandson Edmund, 3rd
Earl of March, with the
granddaughter of Edward III, Philippa [daughter of his son
Lionel of Antwerp], Mortimer became the ancestor of Richard,
Duke of York, his sons, the Plantagenet Kings Edward IV and
Richard III and via Edward IV’s daughter, Elizabeth of York
[wife of Henry Tudor, Henry VII and mother of Henry VIII],
the ancestor of  all subsequent monarchs in England! [761]




And now:
Queen Isabella:

How fared she after the execution of her cousin by marriage
and uncle [halfbrother of her mother Joan I of Navarre] Thomas
of Lancaster?
Much about her life I have written already:
See above ”King Edward II” and ”Roger Mortimer”

To cut a long story short [at least an attempt…..]


King Edward II clearly was totally infatuated with Hugh Despenser
the Younger, and he and his father held such a power, that no one
could access the King without one of them being present. [762]
That also applied to Queen Isabella [763], what must have been
very disconcerting to her.
And her position further deteriorated, when, due to tensions
with France and the outbroken war, Edward II reduced her income,
seized her lands and treated her more like an enemy than his Queen.
Due to the fact it was difficult for Edward II to leave the country
to pay homage for Gascony and Ponthieu
[growing unrest and great unpopularity of the Despensers and subsequently,
the King] [765], he sent Isabella to France to mediate between him and her
brother Charles IV, King of France. [766]
She did mediate, but stayed in France, made publicly known, not
to return to England before Despenser was sent away from Court. [767]

Edward II and Isabella made from their marriage  laughing stock by sending
letters to each other [and to others], rejecting Hugh Despenser [Isabella] and defending him firmly [Edward II] [768] and at that time it became clear to Isabella
[what she could have known from the start], that Edward II was NOT going
to send dear Hugh away from him…..[769]

When prince Edward [the later Edward III] came to pay homage for Gascony
and Ponthieu instead of his father and now under his mother’s control,
Isabella came into the position to pose a serious threat on her husband.
In the meantime, she had began a cooperation [romantic or not]
with escaped Marcher Lord Roger Mortimer and more and more
fled Contrariants [rebels against King Edward II in the Despenser war
and adherents of the Marcher Lords and Thomas of Lancaster]

At the end, after promising her son Edward in marriage with the daughter
of the Count of Hainault [and so getting the necessary military aid],
Isabella and Mortimer invaded England, defeated Edward II [whose support
was crumbling down into almost nothing], executed the Despensers in the
style of Thomas of Lancaster [in mock trials] [770] and establising their


Edward II had shown his vindictiveness against the women and
children of the Contrariants after 1322 [defeat and execution of Thomas
of Lancaster, which marked the end of the Despenser war] [771],
but Isabella proved not to be better:

In january 1327, Isabella revenged herself on three little daughters of
the late Hugh Despenser, by forcibly let them veiled to nuns.  [772]
Hugh’s eldest daughter escaped, since she was already married with
Richard Fitzalan [773]
the son of the executed Earl of Arundel [once one of the executioners
of Piers de Gaveston, together with the 10th Earl of Warwick, the Earl of Hereford
and Thomas of Lancaster, then returned to loyalty to Edward II and paid the
highest price being beheaded by Isabella and Mortimer] [774]
Hughs youngest daughter also escaped, being too young or still
in her mother’s womb. [775]

Their grandfather and father dead, brutally executed, their mother imprisoned [776]
Bereaved from their hitherto priviliged state.

From Isabella’s side a low act of pure vindictiveness, to those innocent girls…..


The Isabella and Mortimer pair deposed King Edward II in favour of his son, now Edward III [777],
poor King Edward II was imprisoned, first at his cousin Henry of Lancaster’s castle
Kenilworth [treated with all honour and respect] [778], thereafter at Berkeley
Castle [no idea how he was treated, but I guess less honourably] [779],
where he officially died in september 1327,  probably
murdered [780] [some historians however think he survived
and lived years later abroad] [781]

Discontentment grew, since Isabella and Mortuimer proved no better rulers than the Despensers and were more avaricious than even the Despensers had been. [782]


Edward III, who was King only in name, had enough of it and in october
1330 overthrew the power of Mortimer and his mother and had Mortimer
executed in november 1330, among else on the charges of the murder
of his father and the execution of his uncle, the Earl of Kent,
halfbrother of his father. [783]

That was the end of Mortimer and the power of the Isabella/Mortimer pair…..


Whatever Edward III must have thought of possible
accomplicity of Isabella in the [what he then thought] murder
of his father, she was still his mother:
In contrary with all dramatic stories, EDWARD III DID NOT LOCK
In fact, Edward held her out of the storm:
In the charges against Mortimer, she was mentioned in only one charge: “the said Roger falsely and maliciously sowed discord between the father of our lord the King and the Queen his companion…the said Queen remained absent from her said lord, to the great dishonour of our lord the King and the said Queen his mother…” [785]

After Mortimer’s arrest, Isabella was taken to Berkhamsted Castle and placed under temporary house arrest., where she was treated
with respect, due to her royal status.[786]
Later she lived at Windsor Castle and from 1332 in her own Castle
Rising. [787]
On 1 December, Isabella surrendered her vast estates into the hands of her son [many she had stolen to enrich herself], but Edward turned

to be very lenient with her and granted her  an income of £3000 a year: “Grant for life, with the assent of Parliament, to queen Isabella of a yearly sum of 3,000l at the Exchequer to provide for her estate…”
[in 1331 her estates, which belonged to HER, were given back to
her, not what she had stolen] [788]
This income was in fact higher than her income as reigning Queen. And considering that most people in England earned less than five pounds per year, and forty pounds qualified a man for knighthood, it was still a vast income by any standards. In 1337, it was raised to £4500.[789]

So she lived a luxuriously life, returning to Castle Rising in 1332
[790], although her political influence and power was over.

And the relationship with her son Edward seemed to be well.
In 1330, she passed Christmas with her son and likely
her daughter in law and baby grandson, the later
Black Prince, with whom she became very close. [791]

The death [execution] of Mortimer must have been very painful
for her and perhaps she suffered a nervous breakdown [792],
what some historians have suggested,
but she was smart enough not to show any grief in public.
[which was by the way highly uncommon by people
of noble birth and certainly royals]

Anyway, she led a comfortable, but conventional life
until her death, received visitors, had a regular contact
with her son the King and especially with her favourite grandson
Edward, the Black Prince, who visited her regularly and vice
versa [793].
Interesting too was, that she was often visited
by the captive French King John II, son of
her first cousin, who was the first Valois
King, Philip VI [Philip VI’s father, Charles
of Valois, was the brother of Philip IV, the Fair,
father of Isabella] [794]
The last period of her life her youngest daughter
Joan, who had been married with David the Bruce [son
of Robert the Bruce and King of the Scots, her grandfather Edward I
would have exploded!], took care for her. [795]

Isabella died at 22 august 1358 at Hertford Castle. [796]
At her request, she was buried with her wedding clothes.
Edward III visited his mother’s funeral, the convention that kings did not attend funerals belonging to later centuries, not the fourteenth. [798]

There are rumours, that she was also buried with the heart
of Edward II, but that is not sure. [799]

Isabella left the bulk of her property to her favourite grandson,
Edward the Black Prince and some of her belongings to
her youngest daughter Joan, who nursed her the last
period of her life. [800]

And so passed Isabella of France, daughter of Philip IV the Fair of France, wife of King Edward II and mother of King Edward III.
A remarkable, tumultuous royal Lady, who broke with
the conventions of her time to rebel openly
against her Lord and husband…..


However, the story isn’t over yet:
Because I can’t describe the life and times of Queen Isabella
, without some thoughts about her marriage with Edward II:

How was the marriage of King Edward II and Queen Isabella of
Well, there are conflicting opinions about that
Some sources say, that this marriage was a disaster from day one
[due to Edward II’s extreme favouritism of Piers Gaveston], but
that version you mostly see by older historians and often in fiction.
According to more, modern versions, it was a good and happy marriage
until along came Hugh Despenser…….. [only in that case
you can question WHY Hugh got such an emotional impact
on the King, if his marriage was that good…..]
And although modern writers don’t make of this marriage an
extremely romantic thing, they tend to it, perhaps as a countraweight
against the ”disaster” version.[801]
I think both versions are wrong.
To my view, the marriage was a well working Medieval union
at least from the death of Piers Gaveston until the coming of Hugh Despenser
but not neccessarily loving.

Now nobody can’t possibly know how the marriage really was, since the only sources are the chronicle
writers, who  gave insight in that time and the lives of Edward II and Isabella,
but were NOT in the royal bedchamber….
Medieval documents [letters, offiicial documents etc] are valuable, but
the relationship between two persons, which is complex and can change, is, of course, not recorded.
So the quality of their marriage  remains a matter of interpretation.


Taken into consideration, that, bisexual [or homosexual] or
not [a matter of interpretation, nobody can know for sure],
Edward II had a strong, emotional need for male companions [802]
and got at lengths [especially in the case of Gaveston and Despenser]
to keep them at his side, that is no recipe for a good, succesfull and happy marriage,……

My view [but only a view] is that the marriage was NO disaster from day one, , ,neither a succesful, loving and happy marriage, but a well working Medieval union
[four children, including the successor to the throne and his brother, John
of Eltham], Isabella fulfillling her royal duties loyally, as
trying to act as peacemaker and mediator, and Edward
having a high regard of her, untill along came
Hugh Despenser……..

That the marriage was not particulary loving and happy seems understandable, since it was arranged.
But that is not the only explanation, since some arranged marriages
[for example Edward I’s and Edward III’s, as Isabella of France’s father]
were seemingly very happy. [803]
No, another aspect was the Kings infatuation
and obsession with Piers Gaveston [I can safely assume: HIS
great love] and later Hugh Despenser.

How Isabella really thought about Gaveston, is not recorded, although
it is often presented, that she loathed and hated him.

The only recorded source however is a letter she wrote, after Gaveston”s third
exile to the receiver of Ponthieu “concerning the affairs of the earl of Cornwall.” [804]
That was perhaps an indication, that she had agreed to help
Gaveston in his exile, at least financially [interpretation
on EdwardthesecondBlogspot and I can agree with that] [805]
But I can’t see it as a proof, that she actually LIKED him.
More as a possible indication, that she must be glad to have him out of the way
and to make sure [from financial perspective] that he stayed where he was…..

After the arrival of Hugh Despenser in the royal favour however, from
a working union, the marriage became a disaster, with Isabella
leaving for France, invading England and the deposition of Edward II.
I wrote it all above here.

But to say in the defence of Despenser:
However reproachable his role into the marriage was, it was Edward II
who made the choice to lay explosives under his marriage,
not only becoming that infatuated with Hugh, but wanting to
hold him at his side,
no matter which plea of Isabella to send him away. [806]

That was HIS choice, not [only] the machinations of Hugh Despenser.

Was Edward a man, who led a ”great  happy marriage” before Hugh’s coming?
I don’t think so, since his extreme emotional dependence of men
[Gaveston, and to lesser extent, the trumvirate Roger Damory, Hugh Audley
and William Montecute]

Whether Isabella loved Edward on the great, happy, romantic way
before Despenser, I can’t say.
There is no proof of that, nor proof of the contrary.

But it takes two to make a happy and loving marriage….


To my opinion:
A good and working union,after the death of Piers Gaveston and
untill Hugh Despenser came.
No more, no less.



I vividly imagine a scene in, let’s say
1324, when Hugh Despenser the Younger meets
Henry of Lancaster in the Westminster Palace.

With feigned friendliness he asks for Henry’s welfare and
pretends some ”cordiality”, knowing full well, that
Henry doesn’t like him at all.
After all, he was one of the ”judges”, who condemned his
brother Thomas to death in a mock trial in 1322…….

Despenser suggests, that although the death of his brother must have been painful
for Henry, life goes on.
After all, he was not that close to his brother?

”Forgiven and forgotten, my Lord brother?” [807]
Despenser falsely asks: [Henry
was married with Despenser’s maternal half sister
Maud Chaworth]
Henry, having no alternative,  Despenser being
the most powerful man in the land, responds

”Yes my Lord” and bows.

But when Despenser leaves, Henry’s face is stern and grief-stricken

Because whether close or not, Thomas after all WAS his brother.

So he mutters against the disappearing back of Despenser


Despenser overconfident as always, had no idea whatsoever,
what was really in Henry’s mind…..

Such a scene COULD have happened.
Did it really happen?
No idea.


Now during the turbulent 1312-1322 part of the reign of Edward II, in
which Thomas of Lancaster, Henry’s elder brother, and Edward II had
a furious struggle for power, which eventually led to the execution
of Thomas, Henry almost seems forgotten, gone away to France or
in each case, rather mysteriously absent.

Yet in 1326, Edward II and Despensers would know, that
Henry all those years played his own games
And waiting for his chance to settle old scores. [808]
But then, for them, it was too late……


Born in or about 1281, he was the younger son of Edward I’s brother Edmund [Crouchback],
Earl of Lancaster, Leicester and Derby and Blanche of Artois,
and brother of Thomas of Lancaster and the not well known
John [809]

So Henry and his brothers were the first cousins of
Edward II [their fathers being brothers]
Henry also was the halfbrother of Queen Joan I of Navarre
[daughter of Blanche of Artois from her first marriage with King
Henry of Navarre], who was the wife of the French King Philip
IV and the mother of Isabella of France, Edward II’s wife [and the French Kings Louis X, Philip V and Charles IV]
Which made Henry [and Thomas] the maternal uncles of
Isabella of France! [810]

After their father’s death in 1296, the bulk of his lands was inherited by Thomas, being the eldest son.
Yet Henry inhertited a part of his father’s vast lands, and was lord of Kidwelly and owned the Three Castles in Monmouthshire (Grosmont, Skenfrith and the White Castle) [811]

On  6 February1298/99 his uncle Edward I had a surprise for him:
He was summoned to Parliament on 6 february 1298/99 by writ directed to Henrico de Lancastre nepoti Regis (“Henry of Lancaster, nephew of the king”), by which he is held to have become Baron Lancaster. [812]

Around 1297, he  married Maud Chaworth, the elder maternal halfsister of Hugh Despenser the Younger. [813]

He fought for his uncle, King Edward I, in the Scottish wars [814]
and in the Flanders campaign [815]
With his elder  brother Thomas he visited the future Edward II
[then ”just” heir to the throne] during the 1290 years. [816]

In 1308 Henry was present at the coronation of his cousin
Edward II and his wife Isabella, Thomas carrying the sword
”Curtana” and Henry had the honour to carry the royal
rod. [817]


Concerning Henry of Lancaster, two things puzzles me:

Why the hell he didn’t participate in his brother Thomas’

And the  fact, that he managed to hold himself ”low profile”
until he emerged out of from nowhere, to become the main force
behind the fall of Edward II and the Despensers…..

I will come back to my ”puzzles” later in the story.

You should think, that with such an impressive family background,
Henry would be destined to play an important role in political affairs.
But that was not the case, at least not until 1326….

Now the fact, that he, as a younger son, was not rich, doesn’t explain
Since his brother Thomas was twice in open rebellion to
Edward II [1311-1312, the Piers Gaveston case and in 1321-22,
Despenser war] [818]and continually, from about 1312 until 1322,
was struggling with Edward II for power, one should think, that
Henry would take part in his brother’s rebellions.
Quod not.

According to some historians, Henry was not that close with his brother [819]
I don’t know, whether that’s really true, but that can hardly be
an explanation for
his lack of political/military participation on behalf of Thomas,
since it was usual, that brothers joined each other when there was
a rebellion and they were not all close with each other either.
Besides, when the rebellion succeeded, the supporting brothers
could be assured of high positions, so it was their
own interest as well.

What perhaps can explain his lack of political involvement
was the fact, that Henry was a real family man
with such a close and affectionate bond with his son and daughters,
to that extent, that his daughters
lived a great part of their life with him, even when they were married.
And that was not usual.
He also seemed to have had a more quiet temper than Thomas, which
perhaps urged him to keep out of political turbulences.

But living in England could bring him in an impossible
position, since he could eventually have been forced to choose between his brother and his cousin the King.

I think that he didn’t want to fight against the King [there was
no indication whastoever, that Henry was not altogether loyal to Edward II and the relationship between them was seemingly well, at least until Thomas’ execution], but he certainly would not have wanted to fight against his own brother, whether they were ”close”
or not.

He seemed to have tried  not to meddle in the quarrels of his brother:
In 1316 he was among the men chosen by the King [821], to
take part in the campaign against Llywellyn Bren, which Henry did
[822] with Sir William Montacute [823], one of
the King’s favourites from around  1316-18, who, together with Roger Damory and
Hugh Audley [HAHAHA, the latter two would end up as allies of
Thomas] [824], would become serious enemies of his
brother Thomas. [825]
Although, admittedly, that animosity with Thomas was not
so apparent in 1316 yet:

The great trouble between Thomas
and those destructive favourites [I wrote about them
extendedly in chapter five] would fully emerge in 1317 [826], a year after the campaign against Llywellyn Bren…..[827]

Taking no part in the quarrels of his brother and yet didn’t

want to be turned against him, can be the reason, that
Henry ”escaped” when the opportunity rose and
his escape route was France.
His ”escape”  however was a sad one:

In 1317, Henry’s [and Thomas’]  younger brother John died childless and in May 1318 Edward II granted Henry permission to travel to France to “obtain the inheritance in that land which by the death of John de Lancastre, his brother, descended to him.” [828]

So since he had possessions now in France, he could live there.

So he said ”Hasta la vista” to England and spent spent much if not all of the next few years in France, to judge from the number of times Edward granted him permission and protection to remain overseas (he was still out of England in January 1322 and perhaps even later) [829]

But strangely enough he did crop up sometimes.
During the tensions  before the outbreak of the Despenser war,
which would cost his brother Thomas his life, Henry had participated in an anti Despenser coalition, perhaps [speculation
from my side] because Henry had possessions in Wales  [830] [where the Despensers went on the rampage, with full consent of the King] [831]
Which proved that he must have been in England somewhere between let’s say 26 october 1320 and the early months of 1321…..[832]


Henry was part of a confederation of allies against Hugh
Despenser the Younger [remember: Hugh was his brother in law,
since he was married to Hugh’s half sister Maud Chaworth], in
and around 1321
with among else, Roger Mortimer and his uncle Roger Mortimer
de Chirk, the King’s former favourites Roger Damory and Hugh Audley and others. [833]

Doubtless Henry’s brother Thomas was pleased with Henry’s
involvement, but then Henry seemed to have dissappeared again…
To France, where he stayed at least untill january 1322……[834]
Mysterious fellow…..


I don’t know whether Henry was in France or back in
England around march 1322.
However, the execution of his brother Thomas on 22 march
must have been a great shock to him, whether he was
”close” to him or not.
Thomas was condemned to death by King Edward II, the Despensers, the earls of Kent, Pembroke, Richmond, Surrey, Arundel and the Scottish earls of Angus and Atholl, in an unfair trial, where Thomas
was not allowed to speak  in his own defence or asked anyone
to raise a defence on his behalf. [835]
Some of Thomas’ ”judges” had no idea yet, that this mock trial some
day would be used against them in their own so called ”trials”, with
now HENRY as one of their ”judges”….

And there was another person, who would not be forgotten,
by Henry either:
Sir Robert Holland, a former close ally of Thomas of Lancaster,
who had betrayed him, one of the reasons why he had lost
the Battle of Boroughbridge……[836]
I will deal with that later.
To the honour of King Edward II must be said, that he didn’t
appreciate the treacherous changes of sides of Robert Holland at all:
He imprisoned him and it was not before 1327, that he
was released by Queen Isabella. [837]


After the execution of his brother, Henry, apparently,
kept himself low profile.
Not that it was very likely, that he was in danger, since
he didn’t participated in his brother’s rebellion,
but in those times of tyranny [he was after all Thomas’
brother] you never can tell….
But he had one advantage, which protected him against
the possible vindictiveness of the Despensers [don’t forget
he had been part of the anti-Despenser coalition just before
the outbreak of the Despense war] [838]:
He was married with Maud Chaworth, halfsister of
Hugh Despenser the Younger from his mother’s side.

But although he kept on the background, in the years to
come he at least once rose his voice:
To petition for his brother Thomas’ lands and titles
[he was Thomas’ heir, since he had no legitimate children], which were
forfeited after his execution for treason. [840]
He did that partially successfully, since Edward II restored
the Earldom of Leicester to him.
In 1324 he was created Earl of Leicester.[841]

You may wonder why Edward II didn’t give him all the lands
of his brother back?
I don’t know, of course, but I will make a speculation
The possession of all those Earldoms had made Thomas not
only the richest, but also most powerful man, after King Edward II and he had used that power in a 10 years long battle
for power with his cousin the King.

Edward II and the Despensers could not be sure of Henry’s
loyalty-after all they had executed his brother and he might
take it into his head to take revenge on them-and from their
point of view, it could be dangerous to give him that power.
Henry had loyal men at his disposal and some former adherents
of his late brother appeared in his retinue. [842]
It was a ”security risk” to make him too powerful……


But there was more to it:
Shortly after the execution of Henry’s brother, Thomas of
Lancaster, rumours began to circulate about miracles, performed
at his tomb and the place of his execution. [843]
And it didn’t take long before hundreds, no thousands of people
came to worship ”Saint Thomas” [yes, Thomas of Lancaster]
as a Saint. [844]
I have described this extendedly in chapter nine.
Now it is not clear, how those rumours came into the
world, but it is not imaginary, that brother Henry was behind those
tales about the Sainthood of his brother.
It was the perfect revenge on Edward II and the Despensers
[since Henry had no other option], since the more people
venerated ”Saint Thomas”, the more the already hated Despensers
would be despised.
At the other hand:
Apart from Henry’s possible need for revenge, the veneration of
Saint Thomas, however stemmed from, had a source in the
discontentment with the Despenser tyranny, condoned by
a doting Edward II…..[845]

That the veneration of his brother meant a lot to
Henry, appeared from the fact, that, at his request, in
1327  [after the downfall of Edward II of course],
Archbishop William Melton of York [who in 1320 had sent
Thomas of Lancaster’s correspondence with the Scots to
King Edward II] [846] wrote a letter to the Pope,
with the request  to inquire
into the canonization of the popular ”Saint” [”Saint Thomas”]
. [847]
Also, in collaboration with Queen Isabella,
an agreement took place with Queen Isabella [confirmed
by King Edward III], dealing with
a chapel, which was to be built outside

the city walls, on the hill where Lancaster had been executed
five years ago [so this great event took place in 1327]
A hermit was to reside there to receive alms
for the building of the chapel and was to be
assisted by a clerk appointed by Isabella and Henry. [848]

But back to 1322-23:
The veneration of ”Saint Thomas” was a source of great
worry to Edward II and although he did his utmost to finish it,
it only grew in popularity. [849]

How Henry further fared between 1323 until 1326, I have
no idea, but being a man of surprises, he was to make his great
move in 1326…..


So our ”mystery man” Henry, who didn’t participate
in his brother Thomas’ rebellions and kept to himself most
of those turbulent years [1317-1322] in France and hardly
made any appearance during the Edward II and Despenser
tyranny, suddenly rose, to play a key role in the events in

When Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer invaded in England
in 1326, Henry, then ”merely” Earl of Leicester, was one
of the first to abandon Edward II and join the Isabella
and Mortimer rebellion. [850]
Not so difficult, why, although it might have been a mixture
of reasons.
He doubtless must have wanted to take revenge for the
execution of his brother, especially wished by the Despensers,
and, of course,  also by Edward II, because of Lancaster’s involvement with
the murder of his favourite Piers Gaveston] [851].
Discontentment with the greedy tyranny of EdwardII/The Despensers
may have also played a role, as the fact, that Henry was granted only the Earldom of Leicester, when he petitioned for
his brother’s inheritance in 1323.

But to my opinion, Henry’s most important reason
to support Isabella and Mortimer was revenge for the
execution of his brother.

The joining Isabella and Mortimers” rebellion was
an enormous problem for Edward II, since his cousin Henry,
like Henry’s brother Thomas before, had many means and
men at his disposal, as a number of former adherents of Thomas,
who had now joined Henry’s retinue. [852]
In a futile attempt of damage control, Edward II ordered
to seize Henry’s Welsh castles of Grosmond,
Skenfirth and White Castle. [853]

Painful for Edward II must have been the desertion of
his own halfbrother, Thomas, Earl of Norfolk. [854]
His other halfbrother [and full brother of Thomas of
Norfolk], Edmund, Earl of Kent, had already joined
Isabella and Mortimer in France and invaded with them….

Kent was to play a very strange role in 1330 in an
attempt to free his supposedly dead halfbrother Edward II
from prison and was executed for it……[856]



NOW it was Henry’s chance to settle old scores with
the Despensers……

Following the invasion of Isabella and Mortimer, Edward II
and the Despensers left London.
In the meantime, Despenser the Elder failed to defend
Bristol Castle against the forces of Isabella and Mortimer,
surrerendered and was given a mock trial in what was clearly intended as a parody of Thomas of Lancaster’s trial.
He was not allowed to speak to his own defence.
His ”judges” were Mortimer, Isabella, Henry of Lancaster and a few others….. [857]
So it was-hard, but true-”what goes around, comes around.”
Thomas of Lancaster had been ”judged” in a mock trial,
by among else Despenser the Elder and his son [859], and now
Thomas’  Henry set in ”judgement” over him…..
Despenser the Elder was hanged in his own armour…..[860]
Sadly enough for him and his family….

To be fair with Despenser the Elder:
He committed many crimes, but was
one of the few barons, who were loyal to Edward II
from start to finish and never switched sides. [861]

Now Henry was ordered to pursue Edward II and Despenser the Younger [accompanied by a few faithful adherents], who
fled to Wales, where they were captured by Henry’s forces
at 16 november. [862]
Edward II and Despenser the Younger were split up:
Edward II was taken in Henry’s custody to Kenilworth
Castle, Henry’s family Castle where Henry treated
him with honour and respect, due to a King. [863]

Poor Despenser the Younger suffered a totally other fate:
After a humiliating journey in which he had tried
to starve himself [864], he was taken to Hereford, to
undergo, as his father before him, a mock trial:
They, again, made a cruel show of it and a clear
parody of the mock trial of Thomas of Lancaster:
He was not permitted to speak in his own defence….[865]

The charges against him [followed by his verdict] were
read by Sir William Trussell, a die hard supporter
of Thomas of Lancaster, who had fought at his side
at the Battle of Boroughbridge, fled to France and returned
with the Isabella and Mortimer invasion. [866]
As a proof that this verdict was- apart from the just charges as
piracy, extortions, stealing and imprisonment- also a revenge
for the execution of Thomas of Lancaster, the following charge/
passage was included:

”You took the good earl of Lancaster [le bone Counte de Lancastre], who was the cousin-german of our lord the king and his brothers and uncle of the very noble king of France and his sister my lady the queen of England, and had him falsely imprisoned and robbed, and in his own hall in his castle, by your royal power which you had seized from our lord the king, had him judged by a false record contrary to law and reason and Magna Carta and also without response, and you had him martyred and murdered by hard and piteous death.” [867]

To be fair, that was not quite right, since Thomas was not ”falsely
imprisoned” or ”robbed”, but ”judged” [even though it was no fair
trial] because of his open rebellion against Edward II…..

Trussell ended the charges with the dramatic words:

”Withdraw, you traitor, tyrant, renegade; go to take your own justice, traitor, evil man, criminal! [868]
[In French, likely the language in which the charges
were read out: Retrees vous traitour, tyrant, Reneye, si ales vostre iuys prendre, traitour, malueys, et atteyntmalueys or malveis]

His verdict and death was gruesome:
To be hanged, drawn and quartered……[869]

Those present were Queen Isabella and her son [then still] Prince
Edward [the later Edward III], Roger Mortimer, Edward II’s halfbrother the Earl of Kent, many others and Henry of Lancaster….

The lawliness of the mock trial of Thomas of Lancaster
had not only boomeranged on the Despensers and other
executed loyal friends of Edward II [often without
ANY trial] [871], but cast a foreboding on the coming years:
The Isabella and Despenser regime proved to be as
lawless and tyrannic as the Edward II/Despenser rule….

But before continuing there, first a notorious ”Sir Traitor”,
Sir Robert Holland and the scores Henry had to settle with him…
This Sir Robert Holland was a yearlong  very close and trusted ally of
Henry’s brother Thomas:
In 1311 Edward II wrote to  Robert about some illness
of Thomas of Lancaster and spoke out his hope to see
him in parliament soon, accompanied by  Robert….[872]
However, Robert, who was that close to Thomas, would proof
to be a big traitor:
He abandoned Thomas when he needed him most:
During the Battle of Boroughbridge on 16 march……..[873],
which he lost, was taken captive and executed on 22 march….

However, Sir Traitor Robert was imprisoned by Edward II, who couldn’t appreciate his betrayal [874], but released by Isabella in 1327 [875].

A former adherent of Thomas of Lancaster
killed him in 1328 and his head was sent to
Henry. [876]
Was Henry behind this murder, since he must
have been very upset about the betrayal of Robert, leading
to his brother’s defeat and execution?
Probably we’ll never know, but in each case he
must have felt like settle old scores, since he
took the killers under his protection….[877]

This betrayal
against his brother must have touched him
very deeply, especially because Robert
Holland had been so close with Earl Thomas.

Old scores……..


At first Henry must have gone well with the Isabella and
Mortimer regime:

An initial token of Isabella and Mortimer’s trust and
appreciation for his military support was their order
to him to pursue and
capture Edward II and Despenser the Younger [as written above]
hold Edward II in custody in his Castle of Kenilworth, where he
treated the fallen King with honour and respect. [878]
Later he was made chief of the Council of Regency for the minor
King Edward III. [879]

One of the other things the Isabella and Mortimer regime did,
which doubtless meant a lot to Henry was the reversion
of the treason conviction of his brother Thomas. [880]
And  to his satisfaction, he was granted  the full restoration of his brother’s inheritance. [881]

Now he was , finally, Earl of Lancaster, Leicester and Derby.

He [see above] also promoted the veneration cult
of his brother Thomas in collaboration with
Isabella, dealing with
a chapel, which was to be built outside

the city walls, on the hill where Lancaster had been executed. [882]


But the first troubles in paradise appeared…….
And it related with the very task Isabella and Mortimer
gave Henry:
The custody of his cousin Edward II, the lenient
way Henry treated the King, the security risks and the power
this custody gave Henry, which easily could be misused……

Whether Henry still held a grudge against Edward II for
the execution of his brother Thomas, I don’t know.

However, Edward II was the King after all [and after his
deposition the King’s father], and Henry
treated him, regardless of what he possibly must have felt, with dignity and honour, according to his royal state. [883]

Security risks:

Now keeping a fallen King in custody is an enormous
responsibility, also in this case:
There were several plots to free Edward II, also
when he stayed in Kenilworth. [884]
So for security reasons Isabella and Mortimer
removed Edward II from Kenilworth, Henry’s family
Castle, to Berkeley Castle. [885]
The security reasons were a sensible argument”, of course, since
Berkeley Castle had the advantage of being far away from Scotland, where many of Edward’s allies were, and also, the Dunheveds
[a gang, very loyalto Edward II who repeatedly tried to free Edward II] were strong in the vicinity of Kenilworth…..[886]

Besides the loyalty of Lord Berkeley was assured:
Not only he was the son in law, but also he and his father
had been imprisoned under Edward II [his father, an adherent
of Thomas of Lancaster,  who rebelled with him
against Edward II died in prison] [887]

So he had no reason at all to be ”sympathetic”
to Edward II…..

Henry’s lenient treatment of Edward II:

Besides over important ”security reasons”, there was more:

Henry was very courteous to Edward II, not forgot
his royalty and after all, they were royal cousins:
[remember, Henry had, certainly
before the execution of his brother, never been Edward II’s
enemy and never rebelled against him]
Perhaps his treatment
of Edward II was too lenient in the eyes of the regime [especially
Mortimer and possibly Isabella]

Very, very important: Henry’s powerful position:

What mattered more to the Isabella and Mortimer couple was the POWER Henry had, not only
as Edward II’s custodian, but especially by the restored Earldoms
he had inherited from his dear brother Thomas.
And Thomas, Edward II’s not so dear cousin, had used the power
he derived from his Earldoms in a to year long battle for
power against Edward II.
My ”overmighty subject” theory is confirmed by note 888


I can understand, that the fear that the whole Thomas of Lancaster
show would be repeated by brother Henry, caused Isabella and
Mortimer to remove the custody out of the hands of Henry and
place them in the more reliable hands of Sir Thomas Berkeley,
son in law of Roger Mortimer, who, to repeat it again,
would have no inclination
to treat Edward II as an honoured guest, since he had been
imprisoned by him and his [Berkeley’s] father had died in
imprisonment under Edward II…..[889]

So King Edward II was removed to Berkeley Castle,
after his courteous custody at his cousin
Henry, where he had stayed from
november 1326 until the end of march 1327.

It’s not certain, how Henry reacted on the removal of
his cousin Edward II , king no more, from Kenilworth:
There are sources, stating that he was quite relieved
to be freed of his huge responsibility [890], but other
sources claim, that he was very angered about Edward II’s
replacement. [891]

And what threatment [good or bad]
Edward II got in Berkeley Castle, is not
clear, although it is stated, that he was often mistreated
There is no evident proof for that,
but I also can’t imagine that he was treated like an honoured
guest,  Lord Berkeley being yearlong prisoner
of Edward II and his father even died in Edward II’s
There are statements, that he was treated well, since
Queen Isabella sent him gifts and letters [894], but for me,
that proves nothing.
Because who says that he ever really received
those ”gifts and letters”?

Possibly the only reason they were sent was, that
the Isabella and Mortimer couple wanted to keep up
appearances, at least towards Edward’s and Isabella’s son ,
the now King Edward III.

Admittedly, Edward III still was  a ”puppet king”, under tutelage
of Isabella and Mortimer, but he would grow up
one day, be the real King.
it was better for Isabella/Mortimer, when Edward thought
his father had been treated well.
And by the way?
Why should a woman, who had rebelled against her
husband, took his kingdom from him, executed
his great favourite cruelly [knowing how that must
have hurt Edward II], giving him no chance to see
his children and, by the way, imprisoned him,
sent ”gifts and letters”’to him?
Out of love, as is sometimes claimed? [895]

A woman, who loves her husband or ”still feels
affection for him”, does NOT imprison him
Who would believe that?

It is either convincible to me, that Edward II got a
”royal treatment”:
The Berkeley Castle muniments roll records the purchase of wine, cheese, eggs, beef, capons and spices for Edward (Seymour Phillips, Edward II, p. 541 n. 118, citing rolls 39, 41, 42) [896]

I think it is well possible, that Edward II never ate that delicious
food in Berkeley Castle….
And whether he died there or not [murdered or natural causes]
is still open to speculation, as I wrote already in this very chapter 10, ”Aftermath” under ”King Edward II”
See also note 897


Let’s go back to Henry:

The problem between Henry and the Isabella/Mortimer
pair over Henry’s custody of his cousin, king no
more Edward II and his [Edward II’s] removal from Kenilworth
Castle [Henry’s castle] to Berkeley Castle, was one thing:

Soon worse points of disagreement rose:

There was that peace agreement with the Scots, which
Isabella and Mortimer closed, the Treaty of Northampton. [898]
Henry of Lancaster was very much against it [899], like many
others, especially [of course!], the earls, who had lost
their Scottish estates without compensation, like [I come
to him later] Henry’s future relative, Lord Beaumont. [900]
And the compensation the Scots DID pay, 20. 000 [pounds,
Medieval] were seized by Isabella and Mortimer…..[901]

But especially Henry was annoyed by the fact, that Mortimer sidelined him:

He was chief council of the Regency [of the minor King Edward III],
but his position was somehow ”usurped” by Roger Mortimer
and Henry was even allegedly denied access to King Edward III.

The beginning of the open confrontation between Henry
and Roger Mortimer took place at the time of the Salisbury
parliament in october 1328, in an attempt of Henry to regain
power again as chief council of the Regency and so reassert
his influence over the king, which failed. [903]

However, the ”trouble in paradise” seems to have
started earlier that year, since in the middle of september
1328, he ceased to attest royal charters. [904]

Anyhow, hell broke loose between Henry and the Isabella/
Mortimer couple:
The end of 1328 was a deja vu, since the whole Thomas
of Lancaster show seemed to be repeated again:
As his brother Thomas in the good old days, Henry had
large numbers of men at his disposal, who once
came to the rescue of Isabella and Mortimer at their
invasion in 1326. [905]
Now they were against them.
And not only that:
Henry, being one of the most important magnates
in England now, being restored to the vast inheritance of his
dear brother Thomas, could attract discontented people
and the discontentment against the  tyranny and
greed of Isabella and Mortimer was big, let alone the
unpopularity of the Treaty of Northampton. [906]

So Henry mobilised his army against Isabella and Mortimer. [907]

But sadly for Henry, his rebellion failed.
In january 1329 he was  defeated and a large amount
of his estates were seized, resulting in his surrender. [908]
But unlike his brother Thomas in 1322 under the Edward II
Despenser regime, he didn’t lose his life, but had
to pay a huge fine, which crippled his political
power. [909]
However, the most followers of Henry were pardoned by
the Isabella/Mortimer regime. [910]
Of course, after that, he was out of grace and didn’t seem to
have played any role under the Isabella and Mortimer regime.
Or did he play a role yet?
I come to that point later

Meantime, there are some interesting
facts about some important men, who joined

Henry in his rebellion:

Two  important men of the realm, who joined
Henry’s rebellion [initially, later they seemed to have
abandoned the venture] were former king Edward II’s halfbrothers,
the Earls of Norfolk and Kent [911], first adherents
of Isabella and Mortimer, now fallen
out with them, probably because out of annoyance with the
dominant position of Mortimer [912] and  because of the Scottish war,
which ended in the unpopular Treaty of Northampton. [913]
Henry’s son in law, Thomas Wake, 2nd baron Wake of
Lidell, who had joined Isabella and Mortimer in 1326, following
his father in law, [914], buty later fell out with
the regime, also supported him. [915]

Another significant figure who joined Henry
was a nobleman named Henry Beaumont.

The career of that man was interesting, as his relation
with Henry:
Henry was a French nobleman, who came to England in the

Being 1st baron Beaumont and 4th Earl of Buchan [a Scottish
Earldom] jure uxoris [916], he was
initially loyal to Edward II, fought for him at the

Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 against the Scots
-was one of the few nobles to attend the funeral of Piers
Gaveston- [917] AND fought at Edward’s side against Henry’s brother, Thomas of Lancaster. [918]

However later was out of grace with Edward II, was imprisoned,
then [in favour again] sent as an envoy to France and later
accompanied Edward’s son prince Edward [the later Edward III]
to France, who did  homage to his [Edward III’s] uncle Charles IV
in the place of father Edward II.
Eventually imprisoned again…..and [understandably]
joining Isabella and Mortimer. [919]

But after falling out with them, Beaumont joined Henry. [920]
And because of his support Henry, who must not have
been pleased with Beaumont fighting against his brother,
will have consented to the marriage of his son Henry
[the later
Duke of Lancaster] with Isabella, daughter of
Henry Beaumont.
Also Henry’s daughter Eleanor was married to Beaumont’s
son, John. [921]

After the failing of the rebellion of Henry, Henry Beaumont
was forced to go in exile, since he
was one of the four men specifically excluded from a pardon in early 1329, like William Trussell [922], that loyal supporter
of Thomas of Lancaster [fought at his side at the
Battle of Boroughbridge] [923], who had read the charges
against Hugh Despenser the Younger. [924]
Thomas Wake, Henry’s son
in law [who perhaps was implicated in the
plot of the Earl of Kent to free the supposedly
dead Edward II] also fled the country. [925]
As well as Beaumont as Wake returned after the fall of Isabella and
Roger Mortimer. [926]
Trussell fared well, became Edward III’s secretary, fulfilled
diplomatic missions for him [Edward III] and died peacefully
in 1347. [927]


Having rebelled against Isabella and Mortimer in 1328-29
, it may be clear,
that Henry was heavily out of grace.
How he fared in that period is shrouded in clouds, as his
[possible] role in the overthrowing the Isabella and Mortimer
regime by Edward II’s and Isabella’s son Edward III, until
now king only in name. [928]
It was commonly accepted, that he played no role whatsoever,
in that overthrow, but some modern sources doubt that and state, that
Henry, possibly, was more involved than hitherto had been
presumed. [929]
However, it happened and Henry must have been quite relieved.
Historian sources state, that on hearing the news of Roger
Mortimer’s arrest, he supposedly threw his cap in the air with joy…..[930]

However, horribly for Henry, he gradually lost his eyesight
in the course of 1330, so he couldn’t play a role on political
and military level anymore.


He retired from public life and from now he would be represented in parliament and public life by his son, the
flamboyant and charismatic Henry of Grosmont, the later
[and first] Duke of Lancaster, warrior, diplomat and politician,
good friend of King Edward III [931] and [via his daughter Blanche], Henry of Grosmont became
the grandfather of the later King Henry IV. [932]

The last fifteen years of his life he stayed at Leicester
Castle, where he founded a hospital for the poor and
died in 1345, being one of the few Earls from the era
of Edward II, who died peacefully.
His funeral was attended by King Edward III
and Queen Philippa. [933]

He was a loving and caring father [934], a ”mystery
man”, who came and went to France, when
England was ”hot” [during the struggle
between his brother Thomas and Edward II],
who didn’t participate in his brother Thomas’
rebellions, but yet was a loyal brother, promoting Thomas
as a ”Saint” [935] and never forgot those, who
had betrayed him at the battle of Boroughbridge [936]

And then, while most men must have thought he was of no importance [he didn’t participate in his brother’s
rebellions, which was not usual in those times],
he was one of the leading forces in the deposition of
Edward II and the fall of the Despensers…..[937]

An interesting, but underestimated man, and one of
the great ancestors of all subsequent English Kings.

See note 938

Henry of Lancaster, brother of Thomas of Lancaster.

A man, who deserves to be remembered!




NOTES 1-250

NOTES 251-347

NOTES 348-400

NOTES 401-451

NOTES 452-503

NOTES 504-587

NOTES 588-666

NOTES 667-761

NOTES 762-806

NOTES 807-938

Reacties uitgeschakeld voor Thomas of Lancaster, rebel cousin of King Edward II, from warlord to Saint/Chapter Ten

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