Tuesday, 11 March 2008

The influential Lady Mohun and her daughter.

In his book The Court of Richard II Father Gervase Mathew stated that Joan, Lady Mohun was one of the more influential ladies of Richard's court. This seems likely to be true, if only because the Appellants banished her from court in 1388 - they'd scarcely have bothered if she'd just been sitting there quietly producing embroidery, would they?

One of Anne of Bohemia's last acts was to grant Lady Mohun Leeds Castle, in Kent. Not a bad Christmas present you may think! Yet there are some dunderheads around who believe that medieval noblewomen were all powerless nonentities. True, they didn't have the vote, or the right to sit in councils and parliaments, but they had influence, direct and indirect, and some of them knew how to use it.

Lady Mohun had been granted a jointure in all her late husband's lands. To finance her comfortable life at court she sold the reversion to the Lutterell family (of psalter fame) and thus disinherited her three daughters.

The youngest of these was Philippa, who most improbably became the wife of Edward of York around 1397. She was at least 10 years older than her husband - Pugh is unkind enough to suggest that she was old enough to be his mother.

Philippa had been married twice before, but had no children. It seems odd that Edward, the heir of York, should have chosen a wife who was most unlikely to give him a son. Moreover, a woman who was not an heiress, merely in possession of a life interest in her modest Fitzwalter and Golafre dower properties. The explanation seems to be that Edward was not a conventional thinker, and he simply loved her. This is one of his more endearing qualities. Some of you may find (lack of children apart) some congruence with the tale of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville a couple of generations on.

Although Edward and Philippa were certainly married by 1398, in which year, at the height of his power as Duke of Aumale, Lord High Constable, etc., etc., he procured from the Pope a Plenary Indulgence to cover them both - a buy yourself out of purgatory card. Apart from this Philippa is rarely mentioned in the early years of their marriage and did not, for example, get Garter robes as his consort until 1408. I've often scratched my head over why this might have been, but am forced back to the conclusion that medieval clerks made as many mistakes as modern computer operators.


Lady D. said...

I must admit, I've never heard of lady Mohun but she sounds a fascinating woman. I wonder why she disinherited her daughters like that?

And it is a lovely thought that Edward of York married Philippa for love.

Brian said...

Hi Lady D

One possibility is that as they were already married and therefore settled she felt she had no obligation to leave them land as well. They had already got what daughters usually received - a dowry plus husband.

Joan Mohun by the way was first cousin to Elizabeth Burghersh, the wife of Edward Lord Despenser, and mother of Thomas. So in a way, there was a family link between Philippa and Edward, through the Constance of York/Thomas Despenser marriage.

Alianore said...

Hi Brian - am I right in thinking that Philippa's sister Katherine married the earl of Salisbury, the one born in 1328 (and previously married to Joan of Kent)? Were they only half-sisters, or was there a huge age gap between them? I'm puzzled as to how two sisters married men born in 1328 and 1373 respectively! ;)

Brian said...

Hi Alianore

According to my notes, which I think are taken from Complete Peerage, the parents were John de Mohun (1320-1375) and Joan de Burghersh whom he married before 1342.

The three daughters were Elizabeth (m Earl of Salisbury) Maud (m Lord Strange of Knockyn) and Philippa.

I was wrong by the way about Joan's relationship to Elizabeth Despenser. It was *Philippa* who was the cousin, Joan was Elizabeth's aunt, her father's sister.

I can only think that the Mohuns were a couple whose (surviving) children were born over a prolonged period. A woman who started having children at 16 could still have been bearing them at 36, or even 46. We don't know how many were lost. If Joan was born in 1330, for example, she might still have been having children in the 1370s. Philippa was quite long lived - she died in 1431.

Brian said...

Just to add, my notes say that Philippa married Willoughby 'before 1386' when he died. She married John Golafre in 1389. CP calls her the second daughter, meaning Maud was younger. This doesn't really give us her age though!

Brian said...

OOPs! Just noticed - delete Willoughby from the last comment, substitute Fitzwalter.

It was Joanne, Edmund of Langley's widow, who married Willoughby.

Rich Dylan said...

I am fascinated by them both and would love to think it was a a genuine love match as he refers to her in his will as his dear wife. He appears at first to be a villain but the more I study him the more complex his character is does anyone know about his first wife?