Saturday, 9 April 2011

Busy with stuff

I'm rather busy with stuff at the moment, so please don't expect a plethora of posts on The Yorkist Age or indeed my other blogs, as I don't have the time. Will get back to this in time, though.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Sir William Herbert and the mess in Wales

Just as Edward was inclined to leave the far North to the Nevilles, so he was inclined to leave Wales to his supporters there, of whom the most remarkable was Sir William Herbert. (It appears that originally Edward planned to campaign in Wales in the summer of 1461, but in the event he never got further than Ludlow and returned to Westminster to hold his first Parliament.)

Herbert was a Welshman, and was to be the first of that nation (barring King Henry VI's Tudor half-brothers, who were a bit of a special case) to be granted an earldom. He undoubtedly earned this honour, and was to pay a terrible price for it in the fullness of time. Knighted by King Henry in 1449, William Herbert had fought in the French wars under Somerset, but despite this - or maybe because of it - became a strong Yorkist supporter. Edward was swift to appoint him to his Privy Council and in May 1461 made him Chamberlain and Chief Justice of South Wales.

The main Lancastrian threat in Wales was organised by Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, who had of course fought at Mortimer's Cross and was to continue to be a thorn in the side of the Yorkist dynasty all the way to Bosworth. Jasper was undoubtedly a warrior of some ability and he appears to have enjoyed some popularity in Wales - at least he was always able to find some Welshmen willing to fight for him. (It is a little odd that Wales was as pro-Lancastrian as it was, given the treatment handed out to that country by Henry IV and his son, but there you are.)

Herbert captured the formidable castle of Pembroke on 30 September, then defeated Tudor, Exeter and the main force of Welsh Lancastrians at Twt Hill near Caernarfon on 16 October. On 4 November Herbert was rewarded with a barony, as Lord Herbert, and granted the castle, town and lordship of Pembroke. The promotion was obviously fully merited.

Denbigh and Carreg Cennan castles fell to the Yorkists in early 1462, but Harlech still held out, and was to continue to do so until 1469. One must assume that it was so remote that King Edward did not see its capture as a priority.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Sir John Mortimer Redux

Stephen Lark kindly referred me to the Hull geneology site which suggests that Sir John was the legitimate brother of the 4th earl Roger (killed 1398) and Sir Edmund. However, further digging about on the web reveals that the 3rd earl only referred to two sons (Roger and Edmund) in his will and therefore the Hull site has almost certainly got to be wrong.

Elsewhere on the web Douglas Richardson points out that if John Mortimer was male heir to the Earl of March (as he allegedly claimed) he would have to be of legitimate descent. This is true as far as it goes, although people making wild claims rarely bother about technicalities. After the 5th Earl of March's death, his claim to the throne went (through his deceased sister, Anne) to his nephew, Richard, Duke of York. The Salic law cannot be used here, as that would make the Lancastrians legitimate kings and wipe out the Mortimer claim altogether! I suppose that an extreme stretch he might have had a claim to the title, Earl of March, but the lands were evidently not entailed to the male heir so this would not have helped him much. But if we assume Sir John Mortimer was of legitimate descent, the most likely explanation is that he was a grandson of one of the two younger brothers of the 3rd earl. Unless you know better?

But, hang about. It was the 3rd earl who married Philippa of Clarence. So his younger brothers and their heirs might have some sort of claim to the Mortimer lands and titles but they would have no claim whatever to the throne as they were not descended from Lionel of Clarence. I still can't make sense of this - at the moment I can't see any way that Sir John Mortimer had any right to the throne, but if he didn't why did the Lancastrian government consider him such a threat?