23 July, 2017

The Lancaster Brothers

A quick post about Edward II's first cousins Thomas and Henry, brothers of the house of Lancaster.

Thomas and Henry were the sons of Edmund, earl of Lancaster, Leicester and Derby, second son of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence and the younger brother of Edward I. Edmund was born in January 1245, and in about late 1275 married his second wife Blanche of Artois, dowager queen of Navarre and niece of Louis IX of France. Blanche had a daughter from her first marriage, Joan I, queen of Navarre in her own right, born in 1273. Joan married Philip IV of France and was the mother of Louis X, Philip V and Charles IV, kings of France and Navarre, and of Isabella of France, Edward II's queen. It's amazing how many people miss the fact that Thomas and Henry of Lancaster were Isabella's uncles, the younger half-brothers of her mother, as well as the first cousins of her husband Edward II.

The dates of birth of the Lancaster brothers are not known, but Thomas was probably born in late 1277 or 1278, and Henry in 1280 or 1281. There was a third brother John, born before May 1286 when he is mentioned on the Patent Roll, who is almost entirely obscure as he lived his whole life in France and died there in 1317, childless; his elder brother Henry was his heir. Thomas of Lancaster married Alice Lacy in 1294, and via her inherited the earldoms of Lincoln and Salisbury to add to the three he already had; she was abducted by the earl of Surrey in 1317, or more probably left of her own accord, and the couple had no children. Henry married Maud Chaworth on or before 2 March 1297 when she was fifteen or almost and he about sixteen. She was also an heiress, though not nearly as grand as Alice Lacy, and brought Henry lands in the south of England and Wales. Henry and Maud had seven children, six daughters and one son, the great and magnificent Henry of Grosmont, first duke of Lancaster. (If you've ever gained the impression here that I'm madly in love with Duke Henry, you'd be entirely correct.) Henry and Maud were the ancestors of much of the English nobility of the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries - and also, probably, of numerous people alive today.


sami parkkonen said...

The Old World Order really was family business but few people seem to understand it today. Somehow people miss these family links between nobility across Europe in medieval times and even later.

World War 1 was sometimes called The War of Cousins, because the German kaiser, king of England and Russia tsar were all related. Needless to say, that war was also the swan song of that world order and after WW 2 general public seems to have forgotten how it actually used to be.

In medieval times this world order was the fact of life across the Europe as the marriages and relationships were all the world politics of that period. Cousins and sometimes brothers, uncles and others ruled and waged war for their gain or because they had to but also in some cases organised and developed their vast holdings and realms.

Fredrik II Stupor Mundi gave the order to use italian language as an official language and was the "father of italian language". Never mind he did it because he was fighting with the pope and the church and wanted to show them who is the boss. Because of his actions we have Dante and others.

He also founded a university of medics in Naples and ordered that not a single doctor can operate in his domain unless they have graduated from this university where the official language was italian. But Fredrik was also very cruel and ruthless man at same time.

History is truly fascinating!

Anonymous said...

Just to say, have finished 'Long live the king' and was transfixed. You have a very good style of writing. There were some references in it that I had not heard of before and I won't spoil it for other readers. A very well researched and enlightening book. I do hope that the DNA tracing project goes well, it would certainly be interesting to confirm if Edward is buried at Gloucester. My own opinion has not changed; I believe Edward was 'rescued' and did indeed spend his final years in northern Italy. I also think he met his son as 'William Wales' and died in the late 1330s and a few years later the 'building works' at the Cathedral were a cover-up for swapping the bodies and interring Edward as I cannot imagine Edward III wanting to leave his father's royal remains in a pauper's grave. Amanda

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks so much, Amanda! So glad you enjoyed it!

sami parkkonen said...

I read this again and was thinking; was there any particular reason why Thomas was so annoyed with and set up against Edward II? Was it just a power play or were there other possible reasons? I have wondered that for some time.