Monday, 26 March 2018

The Despenser Inheritance

This link will take you to an interesting (but complex) article by Professor Hicks about the Despenser inheritance.

You will see from it that Warwick "the Kingmaker" was more than a pretty face. He was a crafty ***** when it came to getting hold of and keeping property.

Friday, 6 January 2017

What is a 'Wapentake'

English counties were divided into smaller administrative units. Normally, these are called 'Hundreds' but in the former Danelaw, they are called 'Wapentakes'.

It is thought the name comes from the ancient practice of brandishing weapons to signal assent.

If a wapentake was in crown hands the sheriff would hold his 'tourn' there at intervals, usually twice a year, to receive indictments against all those who needed to be tried by royal judges and ensure those indicted were in custody.

If the wapentake was in private hands (as many were) the lord (or lady) could either allow the sheriff to hold a tourn, or alternatively organise a similar process under his own authority. Writs from the King would go to the lord of such a wapentake, instead of, as normal, to the sheriff.

In  some cases (not all) the lord could appoint the coroner and even hang felons.

It was a very complex system, and much depended on what rights had been ceded to the lord, often in the distant past.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Richard of Gloucester as Lord of the North

For a long time I have wanted to write a post about Richard of Gloucester and his remarkable career in the North. However, it has been a task I have put off as too daunting. Now I find I am saved the trouble, by this long but rather wonderful post in another place.

Richard was a man who was willing to give verdicts against his own followers when justice demanded it. There may have been another late medieval English noble who was equally enlightened in this respect, but if there was I have not so far come across him. Certainly, such individuals were a rare breed.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Obit - Constance of York

28th November 2016 marks the 600th anniversary of the death of Constance of York, Lady Le Despenser and Countess of Gloucester, who was, among other things, the heroine of my novel Within the Fetterlock.

Constance was a fascinating woman who had a very interesting life, although she was far from being a saint. Granddaughter of Edward III, cousin of Richard II and Henry IV, aunt of Richard, 3rd Duke of York and Great-grandmother of Queen Anne Neville (and Isabel, Duchess of Clarence.)

She was many descendants to this day.

Constance was buried in Reading Abbey very close to the tomb of her ancestor, King Henry I. It is possible that the investigations currently being undertaken to locate King Henry will locate Constance too. 

 Requiescat in pace

Monday, 22 August 2016

Sir Roger of Clarendon

Not a lot of people know that Richard II had a paternal half-brother. This was Sir Roger of Clarendon, born at at unknown date to Edward of Woodstock, the 'Black Prince' and one Edith de Willesford.

He was almost certainly older than Richard II, and in 1372 received an annuity of £100 from Edward III.

In 1402 Roger was arrested, accused of conspiracy against his cousin, Henry IV. He may have been guilty of spreading rumours that Richard was still alive. He quite possibly believed that he was. In any event he was executed at Tyburn - which suggests he was hanged, drawn and quartered for high treason.

My main source for this is Plantagenesta


This is yet another memorial of Bosworth, when we remember before God the loyal men who died there, and especially King Richard III.

Rest in Peace.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Richard of Conisbrough, Earl of Cambridge

Today is the anniversary of the execution in 1415 of possibly the most obscure member of the House of York, Richard of Conisbrough, Earl of Cambridge.

It is unfortunate we know so little about Richard. Even the conspiracy against Henry V which led to his execution is rather obscure and the available documentation begs as many questions as it answers.

Richard spent his life in relative poverty (for one of his class) and we rarely find evidence of his activities. Yet every sovereign of England from 1461 (bar Henry VII) is descended from him and his equally obscure wife, Anne Mortimer. So, in a way, he had the last laugh.

I don't suppose he felt much like laughing 601 years ago today though!