19 March, 2017

The Death of Sir John Eure in 1322

I've previously written posts about Edward II's 1321/22 campaign against the Contrariants, the baronial rebels who had forced the exile of the two Hugh Despensers in August 1321: see here, herehere, here and here. In March/April 1322, twenty or so Contrariants were executed; they were all noblemen or knights. See here for an accurate list based on a variety of primary sources. The number of Contrariants executed in 1322 has been grossly inflated in modern literature, notably by Natalie Fryde in her 1979 work The Tyranny and Fall of Edward II 1321-1326, usually by including the names of men killed at the battle of Boroughbridge on 16 March 1322. Accounts of Edward II's executions of the twenty or twenty-two thuggish knights and noblemen who had committed serious crimes (such as homicide, assault, false imprisonment, blackmail, theft and plunder, and much else) often reach a fever-pitch of bizarre hysteria in modern writing: a 'bloodbath', 'atrocities', 'slaughter' and so on.

Four fourteenth-century chronicles - the amusingly anti-Edward II Westminster chronicle Flores Historiarum, the Lanercost chronicle, the Livere de Reis and the fragment called the 'Chronicle of the Civil Wars' - give the Lancastrian knight Sir John Eure as one of the executed Contrariants in March/April 1322. Sir John Eure was a supporter of Edward II's cousin and enemy Thomas, earl of Lancaster, and was suspected in 1317 of complicity in Sir Gilbert Middleton's attack on the cardinals Luca Fieschi and Gaucelin Duèse; Edward ordered the sheriff of Northumberland the mayor of Newcastle to arrest Eure on these grounds on 30 September 1317 (CPR 1317-21, p. 88). Earlier, in 1313/14, Eure had been the king's escheator beyond Trent.

John Eure in fact was killed by fourteen men who all were seemingly Edward II's supporters (though I don't recognise any of their names), though without Edward's prior knowledge. Eure's chaplain Richard Uttyng was also killed. One of Eure's killers, interestingly enough, was named as an adherent of Bartholomew Badlesmere, a Contrariant executed in April 1322. Edward II complained that 'malefactors', asserting that Eure was "the king's enemy, which he was not," killed him while he was "in the king's faith and peace." It seems that fourteen men got carried away when pursuing the Contrariants who had fought at Boroughbridge, or even just those they thought had fought there. Edward told his kinsman Louis Beaumont, bishop of Durham, on 26 March 1322 (four days after his cousin Thomas of Lancaster's execution and ten after Boroughbridge) not to 'molest' the fourteen men for "beheading John de Evre when pursuing him as the king's enemy, until the king shall issue further orders after he has been certified of this matter." On 28 May 1322, Edward II pardoned Eure's killers. This is just a little reminder that we can't always take contemporary chronicles at face value; even when they positively assert that Edward II had a man executed, other extant records prove that he did not (though admittedly he did not punish the men responsible for killing a knight and a chaplain without the slightest authority).

CCR 1318-23, 430, 474; CPR 1321-4, 127-8; Livere de Reis, ed. Glover, 345; Lanercost, ed. Maxwell, 236; Flores, ed. Luard, 208; Haskins, ‘Chronicle of the Civil Wars’, 79-80. The men who killed John Eure are named as: John Hert, Robert Stanford (Badlesmere's adherent), William Stapelton, Geoffrey Yelemund or Ikemund, Richard Heddeleye, Richard Thorp, Thomas Witton, Thomas Fox, William Those, Robert Corbrigge, John Conyngham, William Hortheworth, William Masham and Thomas Raynton. A Richard Skynner is added in one chancery roll entry, which probably means Richard Thorp.

10 March, 2017

Chicken or Brave-Hearted? The Future Edward II at War, 1300-06 (Guest Post)

Today I'm delighted to welcome writer and researcher David Pilling to the blog! He's a man who knows a thing or two about Edward I and his reign, to put it mildly, and he's written a great post about Edward of Caernarfon's military career during his father's lifetime which sheds new light on Edward's dire military reputation.

Edward II, rated one of England’s most incompetent kings, presided over a sequence of appalling military disasters in his reign. His most famous defeat at Bannockburn in 1314 was followed by other, lesser-known reverses in Scotland and Gascony, all of which demonstrated the king’s strange inability to wage war. The Lanercost chronicler’s stinging description of Edward as ‘ever chicken-hearted and luckless in war’ was unfair - Edward was no coward, as his performance at Bannockburn demonstrates - but perhaps summed up the general opinion of him among contemporaries, especially in the north.

History loves a good pattern. By rights Edward’s military ineptitude should have been evident from the start; once a dud, always a dud. Yet the reality is more nuanced. As Prince of Wales, serving in the Scottish wars of his father, Edward I, the young Edward was perfectly competent. These early campaigns, often skated over in histories of Edward II, deserve closer attention. The startling discrepancy between Edward’s military performance as prince and king provides another slant on this most complex of men.

Edward was first summoned to military service, aged 15, on 1st March 1300, when his father mustered the English host ‘to punish the Scots’ upon the expiration of a truce. Edward I mobilised his army at Berwick-on-Tweed, on Midsummer’s day, while his son was ordered to muster on the same day at Carlisle. The latter was an independent command, though the prince was attended by the earls of Lincoln, Lancaster, Gloucester and Arundel. Henry de Lacey, Earl of Lincoln, was a veteran of the Welsh wars and clearly meant to guide the prince. Edward I wished his son to have the aid and advice of experienced men, yet be perceived as the leader of the Carlisle expedition: ‘so that the chief honour of taming the pride of the Scots may accrue to the prince,’ as the writ stated.

The 1300 campaign was not one of Edward I’s more successful wars. Hampered by the desertion rate of his northern levies, he could do little more than lay siege to the castle of Caerlaverock, south of Dumfries. A royal herald did his best to glorify the campaign by composing a long martial poem, The Siege of Caerlaverock, praising the courage and splendid appearance of Edward’s knights. The herald provided eloquent descriptions of the king and his son:

‘Edward King of England and Scotland, Lord of Ireland, Prince of Wales, and Duke of Aquitaine, conducted the third squadron at a little distance, and brought up the rear so closely and ably that none of the others were left behind. In his banner were three leopards courant of fine gold, set on red, fierce, haughty and cruel; thus placed to signify that, like them, the king is dreadful, fierce and proud to his enemies, for his bite is slight to none who are envenomed by it; not but his kindness is soon rekindled towards such as seek his friendship or submit to his power. Such a prince was well suited to be the chieftain of noble personages.’

‘The fourth squadron, with its train, was led by Edward the king’s son, a youth of seventeen years of age, and bearing arms for the first time. He was of a well proportioned and handsome person, of a courteous disposition, and intelligent; and desirous of finding an occasion to display his prowess. He managed his steed wonderfully well, and bore with a blue label the arms of the good King his father. Now God give him grace that he be as valiant and no less so than his father.’

If the herald can be relied on, we have a vivid image of the ferocious old king - ‘fierce, haughty and cruel’ - bringing up the rearguard with his usual iron discipline, while his dashing son was sent on ahead. Again, these contemporary accounts suggest the prince was being deliberately pushed into the limelight by his father. Now an old man by the standards of the day, Edward I had to convince the world of the fitness and capacity of his only adult male heir. For some reason (perhaps ignorance?) the herald also stuck two years onto the prince’s ages.

The prince’s actions during the siege of Caerlaverock went unrecorded. In August, after the castle had fallen, he had his first taste of combat in a fight on the nearby River Cree. After some skirmishing between the two armies, the Scottish host under Umfraville, Comyn of Badenoch and Buchan drew up on the banks of the river in three divisions. For a long while the missile troops of both armies shot at each other, though the king was wary. According to Rishanger, Edward suspected an ambush, and ordered the Earl of Hereford to recall some foot soldiers who had crossed the stream. Prince Edward is described venturing down to the riverside with his cohort so he could watch the exchange of missiles. The young man’s curiosity and eagerness to get close to the action hardly suggests a ‘chicken-hearted’ disposition.

The infantry on the other side of the river were in aggressive mood. They interpreted the Earl of Hereford’s approach as the signal to attack, and charged the Scots. At this moment the banner of the Prince of Wales was also seen to go forward; in a blaze of youthful exuberance, Edward led his knights across the river to join in the assault. Hereford, without meaning to do so, had triggered a general engagement. Word swiftly reached the king, who leaped aboard his destrier, ordered the trumpets and horns to sound the advance and galloped down to the river at the head of his battalion. Earl Warenne, the loser of Stirling Bridge, followed close behind. The result of this piecemeal and unintended charge might have been calamitous, but the English were saved by their king’s reputation. By now the Scottish nobles were completely unwilling to face the dreaded Longshanks in open battle. They fled in headlong rout, abandoning their infantry and baggage train to the enemy. Rishanger bemoans the desertion of the Welsh among the English army, who might otherwise have pursued the fleeing Scots into the ‘moors and watery shallows’ and destroyed them forever.

After this encouraging start, young Edward may well have felt that warfare suited him. The war fizzled out, but was renewed again the following year when Edward I laid siege to Bothwell Castle. He despatched his son, together with the Earl of Lincoln, to advance through the south-west of Scotland. No glorious battles were fought, but the prince installed a fresh garrison at Ayr and successfuly besieged Robert de Bruce’s castle of Turnberry and Comyn of Badenoch’s castle of Dalswinton. In late September Edward was at Loch Ryan, probably acting on orders from his father to cut off Scottish forces moving west to Galloway. Edward’s presence in the region effectively forced the Scots to move east. On October 23rd he wrote a letter to the treasurer at York, reporting that he had inspected the castles of Lochmaben and Dumfries and found them in a pitiful state: ‘feebly garrisoned with troops and lacking in victuals and other provisions’. Edward resupplied the castles and shortly afterwards rejoined his father’s main army. There is not the slightest glimmer of incompetence in the prince’s conduct.

Surviving accounts for the following years reveal how the prince was armed and equipped on campaign, and how he amused himself during the long, tedious hours of inactivity. An inventory from November 20th 1302 lists the cost of armour for the prince’s body:

‘3 bacinets, 20 shillings; 2 pair of ' jamber ' at 2 marks per pair; an iron headpiece with crest, 60s; another round one, 60s; a helmet with visor, 53s; another close one for the Scottish war this year, bought by John Dengaigne and Hugh de Bungeye, 151. To Bernard of Devon armourer o£ London, for 2 pairs of 'jamber' at 20s. a pair ; a pair of plate quisses, 6s. Sd. ; a pair of ' poleyns ' and 2 pairs of ' sabaters,' in all, 13s. 4:d. ; and a pair of gloves of plate, 10s.’

The inventory also mentions two urinals for Edward’s personal use, apparently carried along with the rest of the army baggage! Further entries list his expenses, including money spent at dice and on purchasing dogs to hunt in Scottish forests.

In 1303 Edward I embarked upon yet another gigantic effort to break Scotland to his will. Having recovered Gascony from the French, he could now focus all his energies on this, his final conquest. The Prince of Wales, now 19, was again given a measure of independent command. More details filter through the surviving records. A payroll for May-October 1303 revals the prince’s personal bodyguard consisted of Spaniards, seven crossbowmen and two lancers. It may be significant that Edward himself was half-Spanish through his mother, Eleanor of Castile.

On 5th March 1303 the King ordered his son to reinforce Sir Alexander de Abernethy at the fords and passes about ‘Dryppe’, and to despatch other knights for this purpose. This was to be done with all haste, said the king, since he could not see how the knights could ‘more honourably win their shoes and boots.’ The prince’s swift response greatly pleased his father, who sent him the following commendation:

’And we let you know that it seems to us that herein you have had good and wise advice, wherewith we hold ourselves well satisfied; and it seems to us that the matters are as well arranged as well may be until your coming to us.’

These letters, while not evidence of any particular warmth between father and son, at least implies something more than stiff formality or mutual antipathy. There is very little reliable evidence to suggest that Edward I was unimpressed by his heir. In pure military terms, away from court politics, the reverse appears to have been true.

On 8th June the king reached Perth, though his army didn’t arrive until the 18th. The elder Edward’s furious energy at this time, often racing days ahead of his infantry, was remarkable for a man in his early 60s. At Perth he halted for two months while supplies and reinforcements came up for the next stage of the campaign.

On 10th July Edward sent a special request to the monastic order of Chartreuse, begging them to pray for his family, subjects, adherents and the success of the war. This has been interpreted to mean the king had fallen ill, though there may have been a more obvious cause for his anxiety. At about the same time his son rode out from Perth on a two-week foray into Strathearn. The prince was accompanied by just eleven archers and their captain, William Wilde, and a small number of cavalrymen. On the 13th and 23rd this small raiding party fought two skirmishes with the Scots at Athol, losing six horses. One of the cavalrymen, Arnald Fytous, lost two.

The details of this foray, rarely mentioned in more general histories, must surely overturn Edward II’s ‘chicken-hearted’ reputation. At the Cree he had charged the Scots without waiting for orders (shades of his father at Lewes in 1264) and in 1303 risked his person on a dangerous raid into hostile territory with just a handful of men. It seems odd his father should have permitted the foray to go ahead. He had kept his son away from the tourney field, knowing the dangers of that violent blood-sport. If the prince had met his death in the skirmishes at Athol, dynastic catastrophe would have ensued. The next heir was Thomas of Brotherton, a three-year old. Edward I could not have reasonably expected to live to see Thomas grown to adulthood. A long minority government, with England embroiled in a war against Scotland, was the stuff of nightmares.

As it was, Prince Edward returned unscathed from his adventure. The army moved on to take Brechin Castle, and then marched on a long chevauchée round north-eastern Scotland. The king and his son advanced at the head of separate divisions, burning and plundering all in their path. Hamlets and towns, granges and granaries all went up in flames. Young Edward was no less ruthless than his father, and some documentary evidence survives of the destruction he wreaked: Walter, dean of the cathedral church of Elgin, requested a gift of timber to repair his houses destroyed by the prince’s army. Certain traditions survive of English troops besieging the castles of Urquhart and Cromarty at this time. It may be the prince was despatched to oversee these operations, another sign of his father’s faith in him.

All this grinding pressure was meant to target the estates of John Comyn, Guardian of Scotland, and pound him and his fellow Guardians into submission. The strategy succeeded: Comyn and his peers formally surrendered to Edward I at Strathord on 9th February. Prince Edward was kept busy. Earlier, on January 27th, he was recorded crossing Perth bridge in pursuit of the Scots. The Guardians at this time were in negotiations with the king, so this action may have been intended to hunt down William Wallace and his ally Simon Fraser. Fans of Braveheart may puzzle over the image of the heroic Wallace being chased by the supposedly foppish and ineffective Prince Edward. The reality is that Wallace was a desperate fugitive by this point, continually harassed and pursued by vengeful English forces. In the spring Wallace and Fraser were routed by the English at Happrew and lucky to escape. They would not remain at liberty for long.

On 5th March 1305, while laying siege to Stirling Castle, Edward I ordered his son to reinforce the Earl of Carrick, moving against Scottish ‘rebels’ near Stirling. Carrick was none other than Robert de Bruce, later victor of Bannockburn. Here the great hero of Scottish independence fought and served alongside the future Edward II, in order to crush the last flickering embers of Scottish resistance to Edward I! The king also ordered his son to provide the army with lead for siege engines. Some of this may have gone towards the construction of War Wolf, a monstrous trebuchet that allegedly brought down an entire section of castle wall with one shot.

The eventual fall of Stirling, and execution of William Wallace on 23rd August 1305, marked the final conquest of Scotland. Or so it seemed. In February 1306 Bruce murdered his great rival, John Comyn, before the altar in the Chapel of Greyfriars Monastery in Dumfries. Soon afterwards he went into revolt against the English crown, and Edward I was obliged to conquer Scotland all over again. The sick and ageing king grimly sent his forces north, among them the Prince of Wales. On 13th September young Edward triumphantly reported a victory: he had captured the castle of Kildrummy, and inside it a great number of Scottish nobles, including one of Bruce’s brothers. Bruce himself had narrowly escaped. This was one of several heavy defeats suffered by Bruce in the early stage of his resistance, until he met that famous spider in a cave and learnt to ‘try, try again.’

With the benefit of hindsight - always the historian’s favourite conceit - Kildrummy marked young Edward’s last Scottish victory of any note. On 7th July 1307 his father died at Burgh-on-Sands near Carlisle, leaving the new king with a mountain of debt and unfinished business in Scotland. From this moment on the familiar narrative re-asserts itself, with the hapless Edward II stumbling from one defeat to the next. I hope this essay has at least demonstrated there was nothing inevitable about his later military failures. This may in turn serve to explain the shock and disappointment expressed by contemporary annalists.

(This is Kathryn again) Many thanks to David for this fantastic and enlightening post on a subject rarely written about and poorly understood. Just to confirm what he wrote in his last line, the author of the Vita Edwardi Secundi wrote of Edward II in 1313: "God had endowed him with every gift, and had made him equal to or indeed more excellent than other kings. If anyone cared to describe those qualities which ennoble our king, they would not find his like in the land...If he had followed the advice of the barons he would have humiliated the Scots with ease. If he had habituated himself to the use of arms, he would have exceeded the prowess of King Richard [Lionheart]. Physically this would have been inevitable, for he was tall and strong, a fine figure of a handsome man...What hopes he raised as prince of Wales! How they were dashed when he became king!"

05 March, 2017

Elizabeth Comyn and Sir Richard Talbot

A post today about the Scottish noblewoman Elizabeth Comyn and the English knight Sir Richard Talbot, who married in or before the summer of 1326 and were the ancestors of the Talbot earls of Shrewsbury.

Elizabeth was the younger daughter of John 'the Red Comyn', lord of Badenoch and nephew of John Balliol, king of Scotland, and Joan de Valence, one of the three sisters of Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke and a half-niece of Henry III of England. Elizabeth's date of birth is often given as 1 November 1299, and if that's accurate she was only six years old when her father was killed in February 1306 by his great rival Robert Bruce, who shortly afterwards made himself king of Scotland. Elizabeth spent most of her life in England. Her only brother John was killed fighting for Edward II against Robert Bruce at Bannockburn in June 1314, and Elizabeth's nephew Aymer Comyn, John's only child and named after their uncle Aymer de Valence, died as an infant before 25 October 1316. (John's widow and little Aymer's mother Margaret Wake later married Edward II's half-brother the earl of Kent and was the mother of Joan of Kent and grandmother of Richard II.) Elizabeth and her older sister Joan, countess of Atholl, were little Aymer Comyn's heirs, and jointly inherited four manors in Northumberland. [CIPM 1317-27, 3; CPR 1313-7, 164; CFR 1307-19, 308] They were also the heirs, with their cousin John, Lord Hastings (b. 1286), to the vastly greater inheritance of their maternal uncle the earl of Pembroke when he died in June 1324. [CIPM 1317-27, pp. 314-40] Aymer Comyn's IPM taken on Monday 15 November 1316 says that "Joan the wife of David earl of Atholl" was then twenty-four and her sister Elizabeth sixteen, which would seem to indicate that she was born in 1300. This is the only certain evidence I know of for her age, other than Aymer de Valence's IPM in 1324, in which the jurors' estimates of Elizabeth's age are all over the place, between sixteen and twenty-two or just "of full age", and jurors in some counties didn't even know her name and called her and Joan "daughters of the Redecomyn", or called her Isabel. Elizabeth can't possibly have been sixteen in 1324 as this would place her birth two years after her father's death. The 1 November 1299 date of birth may well be correct, but I can't confirm it, and if anyone knows the source, please tell me! I'm a bit puzzled as thirteenth/fourteenth-century dates of birth were generally only recorded in IPMs, and as Elizabeth's wasn't recorded in her nephew's or in her uncle's, I don't know where it would have been. (It won't be in her father's, if he had one, as she wasn't the Red Comyn's heir when he was killed in 1306, her brother John was.) In 1979, Natalie Fryde (in her Tyranny and Fall of Edward II, p. 114) claimed that Elizabeth was "only a teenager in the 1320s," but this is highly unlikely. Even if Elizabeth was John the Red Comyn's posthumous child, she can't have been born later than about September or October 1306, and in that instance would have been only ten when named as her nephew Aymer Comyn's heir a decade later, not sixteen. IPMs are usually a sight more accurate on the ages of children and teenagers than on adults'.

After her uncle the earl of Pembroke died in June 1324, and in fact even before, Elizabeth became a target of the royal favourite and chamberlain Hugh Despenser the Younger. An inquisition taken in March 1328, early in Edward III's reign, stated that Hugh, his father the earl of Winchester and three other men (Nicholas de Sudynton, William Staunford and John Hasselegh), captured Elizabeth at Kennington in Surrey and "thence conveyed her against her will" to Woking in the same county, a manor of the elder Despenser, and then to 'Purefrith', i.e. Pirbright, which also belonged to the elder Despenser. They kept her in prison "for a year and more" until 20 April 1325, when Elizabeth agreed to grant her Gloucestershire manor of Painswick to Hugh the Elder and her manor of Goodrich Castle to Hugh the Younger. She was kept in prison for another half a year, then finally released, presumably in or about October 1325. As late as July 1348, the inquisition of March 1328 was exemplified at the request of Elizabeth's husband Richard, and on this occasion it states that on 20 April 1325 "by force and duress they [the Despensers] compelled her against her will and by threats of death to grant in fee to the earl the manor of Payneswyk, co. Gloucester, and to Hugh the younger the castle and manor of Castel Godrich in the march of Wales...". [CIM 1308-48, no. 1024, pp. 254-5; CPR 1348-50, p. 122]

If the dating in the inquisitions is correct, Elizabeth's capture at Kennington and removal to Woking must have predated the death of her uncle Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke, who died on 24 June 1324. Even though he was a close kinsman of Edward II and the king's envoy to France that year - he died on his way to the French court - Pembroke was evidently unable to protect his niece or to free her from the Despensers' clutches, which says a lot for the Despensers' dominance at court in these years. Natalie Fryde speculates (Tyranny, p. 114) that Elizabeth was intended at this date as "the future wife of the Despenser heir", by which I assume she means Hugh the Younger's eldest son Huchon (b. c. 1308/9). This is not impossible but I haven't found any supporting evidence, and Huchon was much younger than Elizabeth. Actually, it's rather curious that, as a noblewoman and heiress and in her twenties, Elizabeth was still unmarried in 1324/25. Even if she was born as late as 1306, which I don't at all think she was, she would have been eighteen in 1324, and even that would be an advanced age to be unmarried by the standards of her class and era. (And incidentally, in this part of the book Fryde was confused about the Hastings family, and thought that Laurence Hastings, son of Elizabeth's cousin John and future earl of Pembroke, was Hugh Despenser the Elder's grandson. He wasn't; he was the step-grandson of Hugh's second daughter Isabella.)

Elizabeth Comyn was treated utterly appallingly in 1324/25 by the Despensers: imprisoned for about eighteen months and forced under duress to hand over two manors to them, and even, according to the inquisition of 1348, threatened with death. It says a great deal about Edward II, all of it unpleasant, that he was willing to tolerate and even facilitate such inhumane nastiness inflicted on a young woman. Then, something which was possibly rather romantic happened, or at least I like to think it was romantic. An entry in Edward II's last chamber account, dated 9 July 1326, records a gift of ten marks from Edward to Sir Richard Talbot, a retainer of the younger Despenser, because Richard "was very poor" and because he had "secretly married the lady Comyn" at Pirbright. [SAL MS 122, p. 75] Richard Talbot came from a staunchly Lancastrian family, and his father Sir Gilbert (b. 1276) had been captured fighting against the royal army at Boroughbridge on 16 March 1322 and was, like many other Contrariants, landed with a hefty fine for doing so. Still, knights needed to put food on the table as much as anyone else did, and Gilbert and his son Richard pragmatically switched sides to the all-powerful Despensers, at least for a while. (They abandoned them pretty sharpish in 1326, though in fairness so did almost everyone else.) In addition to the gift of ten marks from Edward II, Hugh Despenser the Younger lent Richard Talbot ten pounds on 17 July 1326. A loan, not a gift - that's Hugh for you - though I doubt he ever got it back as he was dead mere months later. I really do hope that Elizabeth Comyn consented to the marriage to Richard Talbot and was happy to marry him, because if she didn't, it was yet more abuse heaped on her. I like to think that Richard, as one of Hugh Despenser's household knights, witnessed her plight at close hand in 1324/25 and tried to help her, and they fell in love. I have no evidence for that, of course, but it would make me happy. The reference to a 'secret' wedding indicates that Edward II and Hugh Despenser only found out about it after it took place and that therefore they didn't impose it on her, which I hope means that it was Elizabeth's own choice. As Richard was 'very poor' in 1326 and was only a household knight of Despenser, she certainly didn't marry him for his money either. I have an image in my mind of Richard throwing himself on Edward's mercy, unsure of the king's reaction and expecting him to rage about it, but instead Edward accepted it without problem and blessed the couple. Not that the king giving Richard (and by extension Elizabeth) ten marks, or the loan from Hugh, in any way mitigates what was done to her, of course. Did Edward II have a guilty conscience? Was he capable of a guilty conscience? Who knows. And what's interesting is that Elizabeth and Richard married at Pirbright, where Elizabeth had been confined until c. October 1325 and which was a manor of Hugh Despenser the Elder. Either she continued living there voluntarily after her release, or their wedding took place a few months before it was mentioned in Edward II's chamber account on 9 July 1326 and perhaps when she was still a prisoner of the Despensers. Either way, I don't find it hard to imagine Elizabeth giving a mighty cheer at the downfall of the Despensers in October/November 1326.

It's also interesting that an entry on the Fine Roll of 23 March 1327 [CFR 1327-37, p. 35], the 1328 inquisition and its 1348 exemplification all refer to "Richard Talbot and Elizabeth Comyn his wife" or "Elizabeth Comyn now the wife of Richard Talbot." It's very unusual for married women in the fourteenth century to be called by their maiden names. This may have been done because by birth Elizabeth was of much higher rank than her husband, who was only a knight; she was a great-niece of both Henry III, king of England, and John Balliol, king of Scotland, and heir to one-third of the huge Pembroke inheritance (though she and the other heirs never held the full inheritance as their aunt by marriage Marie de St Pol outlived all of them). As the only child of John Balliol's nephew the lord of Badenoch still alive after her sister Countess Joan died sometime before the summer of 1326, Elizabeth also had a fairly decent claim to the Scottish throne, though of course the Balliols never regained it after 1296.

As noted, Sir Richard Talbot was the son and heir of Sir Gilbert Talbot, who was born on 18 October 1276 ['aged 29 on the feast of St Luke last', CIPM 1300-07, 377] and was himself the son and heir of Sir Richard Talbot the elder who died shortly before 3 September 1306. Gilbert was Edward III's chamberlain from 1327 to 1334, and died either during the night of 20/21 February or on 24 February 1346, aged almost seventy. [CIPM 1336-46, pp. 519-24] His son Richard was said to be forty at the time, which would seemingly place his birth in 1305 or early 1306. I'm not really sure, though, how seriously we can take the IPM as evidence that Richard Talbot really was precisely forty in February 1346. He was obviously many years past being sufficiently old enough (twenty-one) to take over his father's lands immediately, so his exact age wasn't of great importance. 'Forty' is a nice vague-ish round number that might equally well mean forty-three or forty-five. All things considered, all we can say for sure is that Richard Talbot was born sometime in the early 1300s, and he was probably some years younger than Elizabeth Comyn, though how many years is impossible to say.

Sir Richard Talbot died on 23 October 1356, in his early to mid-fifties. His heir was his and Elizabeth's son Sir Gilbert Talbot, who was born either in 1326 or 1332, as he was said to be either twenty-four or thirty at the time of Richard's death (thanks, IPMs!). [CIPM 1352-60, pp. 277-9] It's impossible to say which date of birth is more probable. There are no references in Edward II's 1326 chamber account to Elizabeth being pregnant or giving birth, though that doesn't necessarily mean that she wasn't or didn't. Elizabeth herself died on 20 November 1372, aged over seventy; she had outlived her brother John by fifty-eight years and her sister Joan, countess of Atholl, by close to fifty. Her son Gilbert born in 1326/32 had a son Richard Talbot, who died in 1396 and had three sons. One was archbishop of Dublin, one was betrothed to one of the daughters of Edward III's youngest son Thomas of Woodstock (she died before marriage), and one was John Talbot. Elizabeth Comyn's great-grandson John Talbot, born in the 1380s and sometimes called 'Great Talbot', was killed in battle in France in 1453 and was the first earl of Shrewsbury, and was the father (by his second marriage to the earl of Warwick's daughter Margaret Beauchamp) of Eleanor Talbot or Eleanor Butler who supposedly married Edward IV before Elizabeth Woodville. And just think, that secret marriage to Edward IV could never have happened, if it ever happened at all, if Eleanor's great-great-grandparents Elizabeth Comyn and Richard Talbot hadn't "secretly married" in or a little before the summer of 1326, and founded the Talbot dynasty.