Tuesday, 7 October 2008

The House of York takes stock.

The events of January 1400 had a major impact on the York family, though on some more than others.

Edmund of Langley had established himself as a loyal supporter of Henry IV, though Richard's deposition had naturally cost him the Lancastrian properties and offices he'd been granted. He was in ill health, in particular he had severe skeletal problems, and after this point he seems to have retired from active public life.

Edward of York had lost his Aumale title, and was probably lucky not to have lost his life, being more culpable than most members of Richard's government. He suffered severe financial losses because of the resumption of his 1397 grants, but on the other hand Henry was already showing him limited favour (for example the grant of the Isle of Wight) and was to continue to employ him in various offices, albeit none as lofty as those he had enjoyed under Richard.

Richard of Conisbrough still had his annuities and his position was theoretically unchanged. He was not to know that Henry IV was soon to become effectively bankrupt and unable to honour annuities.

Constance of York had lost her husband and was notionally penniless because although Despenser had not been attainted (yet) everyone proceeded on the assumption that he had been. Widows of attainted men were not entitled to dower, and the jointure she had was in lands granted in 1397 and taken back. Fortunately for her, Henry IV was quite generous in providing for her, starting with the gift of £30 found on Despenser's body. It appears (if my understanding of the process is correct) that she kept submitting petitions, and as each one was granted went back and petitioned for a bit more. Forfeits of treason apart (most of Despenser's moveable property* and certain lands granted quickly away to others) she eventually ended up with the whole of the Despenser lands (bar her mother-in-law's dower) and the wardship of her son. She had to pay a rental (farm) for this, but that was par for the course, and she even had a protection written in that the wardship was not to be taken away if someone else offered to pay more! In the case of the manor of Bawtry (Yorkshire) she was in dispute with someone who had been granted it by the King, but it seems she won this fight as she certainly died possessed of Bawtry.

(*I should mention that some part of Despenser's property went missing, and the King sent out a commission to discover what had happened to it. Presumably it was either stolen or hidden away by well-wishers.)

The only widow the King treated with similar kindness was his sister, Elizabeth of Lancaster, and as I have mentioned before, it seems to me that Henry Bolingbroke had due respect for Plantagenet blood. He was very much less generous to the countesses of Salisbury and Wiltshire, for example, who received the next thing to damn all.

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