20 January, 2017

BBC History Magazine

BBC History Magazine will soon be publishing a special edition 'bookazine' about the medieval kings and queens of England. An article of mine about Isabella of France will be appearing, and I was also asked to write the opinion piece. Here's a sneak preview...


I'm not sure as yet when it will be out - more info here soon!

15 January, 2017

The Rebel Queen

Owing to bereavement I am unfortunately unable to write a blog post at the moment, but hope to resume normal service soon. In the meantime, my second book Isabella of France: The Rebel Queen is out in paperback in the UK today priced at £13.48, though is already out of stock on Amazon. Hope they get lots more copies soon! You can buy it from WH Smith for only £10.49, or from Waterstones. And my third book Long Live the King? The Mysterious Fate of Edward II is now with the publisher and will be out in some months; more info here as and when I have it. My Richard II biography will also be out in about autumn this year.

06 January, 2017

6 January 1367: Birth of Richard II

Today marks the 650th anniversary of the birth of King Richard II of England, who was the great-grandson of Edward II and who shared his fate of deposition.

Richard was the second son of Edward of Woodstock, prince of Wales and Aquitaine, duke of Cornwall and earl of Chester, eldest of the five sons of Edward III, and Joan of Kent, countess of Kent in her own right. Edward of Woodstock had been appointed prince of Aquitaine in 1362, and so Richard was born there, in the important city of Bordeaux. His birthday of 6 January is Epiphany or Twelfth Night or the feast of the Three Kings, and rather remarkably three kings are said to have attended his baptism in Bordeaux several days after his birth. I discuss the kings' identities in my forthcoming (and as yet untitled) biography of Richard. Also present in Bordeaux in January 1367 was the chronicler Jean Froissart, who was to meet Richard again in England twenty-eight years later.

Richard of Bordeaux - as he is often called - was born third in line to the English throne behind his father and his elder brother Edward of Angoulême, who was not quite two years old at the time, born on 27 January 1365 also in Aquitaine. Richard's paternal grandfather Edward III had been king of England for almost exactly forty years at the time of Richard's birth, and his paternal grandmother Queen Philippa was also still alive. As I pointed out in a recent post, Richard's ancestry was confusingly tangled and inter-related; he was both the great-grandson and great-great-grandson of Edward I of England, both the great-great-grandson and the great-great-great-grandson of Philip III of France, and so on. By 1367 the name Richard had become unusual in the English royal family, and the last royal to bear the name was King John's younger son and Henry III's brother Richard of Cornwall, who presumably was named after his uncle King Richard Lionheart and who died in 1272. Richard of Bordeaux spent the first four years of his life in France, and travelled to England with his parents in early 1371, leaving behind the body of his recently deceased brother Edward of Angoulême. Richard had Edward's body transported to England in the early 1390s and reburied at Langley Priory, founded by their great-grandfather Edward II in 1308.

Richard's father died in June 1376 and the ten-year-old boy succeeded his grandfather as king of England a year later. Shortly after he turned fifteen in January 1382, he married his beloved Anne of Bohemia, who was born in May 1366 and was the daughter of the great Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV from his fourth marriage to the Polish noblewoman Elizabeth of Pomerania, daughter of the duke of Pomerania and granddaughter of Kazimierz III Wielki, Casimir III the Great, king of Poland. Anne was born in Prague, and so from January 1382 until Anne's premature death in June 1394, the king and queen of England were born in Bordeaux and Prague respectively. Richard's much younger second queen Isabelle of France, whom he married in early November 1396 just before her seventh birthday, was born in the Louvre in Paris, now a world-famous museum but then a twelfth-century fortification transformed into a royal palace by Isabelle's grandfather Charles V. Richard II himself was deposed by his cousin Henry IV and murdered in early 1400 some weeks after he turned thirty-three, Anne of Bohemia died at twenty-eight, and Isabelle of France died at not yet twenty shortly after giving birth to her only child Jeanne, duchess of Alençon (who herself died childless in her early twenties and whose father was Isabelle's first cousin Charles of Orléans). I wish all of them had enjoyed happier fates.

22 December, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016, And Some Books

A very merry Christmas to all our readers from Kathryn Warner and Edward II!



If you fancy some reading set in Edward II's time over Christmas, I recommend Martin White's To Catch the Conscience of the King, which deals with Edward's captivity in 1327 and his afterlife, and the excellent historical novels of Anna Belfrage, whose main character serves Roger Mortimer and is a witness to Edward's reign and its aftermath.

My book Long Live the King? The Mysterious Fate of Edward II will be out in a few months, and I'm also writing a bio of Hugh Despenser the Younger, lord of Glamorgan, for Pen and Sword Books. It'll be out in 2018. It'll be followed by biographies of Edward II's nieces the de Clare sisters, Philippa of Hainault, and John of Gaunt, oh, and Richard II will be out next year too; 2017 is the 650th anniversary of Richard's birth in 1367. Happy reading! :-)

15 December, 2016

Even Even More Cool Names!

Continuing an occasional Christmas series of great people's names from the late thirteenth and fourteenth centuries; see also here, here, here and here. The ones in this post are all taken from documents of Edward I's reign, from around the late 1280s to the beginning of the 1300s, and yes, they're all genuine names of people living in England at this time.

Adam Halfape

Benevenue de Artaud (a woman; her first name means 'Welcome' in French)

Maud Daft

Maud Lusshefissh

Bertram de Magna Moeles

Erneberga de Hardreshull

Marcelina Belost

Godeleva Dobel

Freduchius Hubertini

Emelina Inkepenne

Amiens de Fonte

Reginald le Chien (means 'the Dog' in French)

German Hay

Cecily de Pysinges

Joceus de Camera

Basilia Reynaud

Gaceus de Calvo Monte

Gilbert Rote Ofserewe

Leonius de Steyne

Sigreda Avenel

Hugh le Hoppere

Strangia Daungevyn

Sir Anger de Baslada

Alger Iwyn

Boruncinus Galteri

Saer Bataylle

Silvester Doygnel

Sanxius Petri

Peregrine de Farges

Flemilda de Pursford

Boudekeu de Contek

Dionisia Hubaud

Aunger de Chaucomb

Jolan son of Jolan

Palmer Grond

Nicholas Brusebon

Gilbert de Burnolfisheved

John Non

Floria de Cantilupe

Avicia de Cokefend

Eudo Dragun

Falcasius de Lindeley

Edmunda la Botiller

Amatrix wife of Richard le Venur

Coppus Cottene

Walkelin Kibus

Lapus Bonichi

Ketel de Pardyeshou

Acelina de Viridario

Haldanus de Sutton

Felomena de Kersewell

Saburga de Wakeringe

Bartholomew de Labilio

Comitissa Clifford

Simon Mustard

John Littelfat

Bonefeyus de Crickelade

Karenillus le Parker

Wichard Ledet

Ferrand de Mannia

Tassius de Neubaut

Burnettus Bonrucinus

Flora Mauveysin (her last name means 'bad neighbour' in French)

Sapiencia Mody (her first name means 'wisdom' in Latin)

Juetta Short

Trahern ap Howell ap Rees

Dominicus de Morlanis

Brunus de Monte Revelli

Tottus de Monte Claro

Sir Serlo de Nausladron

Menaldus de Rybere

Franco de Scolond

Gracia de Savenayk

Terricus de la Bruere

Innocencia Oky

07 December, 2016

More Fourteenth-Century Proofs of Age

Continuing an occasional series which answers the question 'How did people know their date of birth more than five hundred years before the invention of birth certificates and more than two hundred before parish records of baptisms began to be kept?' How did people remember dates? See also here, here and here.

1) Proof of age of Bartholomew son and heir of John Davelers, Suffolk, 'Friday before St Mark, 2 Edw. II' (i.e. 18 April 1309)

Sir William Visdelou, knight, age 40 and more, says that the said Bartholomew is 21 and more, and was born at Everwartone on Thursday after St Matthew, 15 Edward I [25 September 1287], which he knows because on that Thursday he made a feast at Schottele, and on the same day caused a tombstone to be placed over the body of Guy his father in the church of the same town.

Robert le Vyte, age 66, says as above, and knows it because on that Friday he came to the hall of Everwarton for 14 shillings due to him for a cloth of russet, and found the lady lying in childbed.

William de Bromptone, age 40 and more, says the same, and knows it because he was then butler there, and on that Friday he announced to Sir Robert Schelt that the lady had borne a child, who gave him two shillings and a gold ring.

Richard le Warde, age 55, says as above, and knows it because on that Friday he was repairing the house of Roger le Priur at Everwarton, and fell and broke his right leg.

John Hervi, age 68, says as above, and knows it because he came to the church of Everwarton and caused a celebration to be made for the soul of his father, and he saw the said Bartholomew lying there wrapped in a silken cloth.

John le Juvene, 72, says as above, and knows it because Sir Bartholomew Davelers, grandfather of the said Bartholomew, died in the same town on the Sunday after the said Bartholomew was baptised, and on the same day he himself had a son born called William, who is now 21 and more.

2) John son and heir of Walter de Sourdeval, Yorkshire, 4 June 1309

William de Appelton, aged 50, says that the said John was 21 on the feast of the Purification last [2 February], for he was born at Bothlum on that day and baptised in the church there on the morrow, 21 years ago, and this he knows because he has a son Richard, born on the octave of the Purification 21 years ago.

John de Appelton, aged 60, says the same, and knows it because Alice late his wife was churched of a daughter on the morrow of the said John's birth, who died at the feast of the Annunciation last and was then 21 years and 10 weeks old.

John de Middelton, aged 54, says the same, and knows it because on Christmas Day last 21 years ago, going home from the church, he fell and broke his arm, and the said John was born on the feast of the Purification next following.

William de Wath, aged 48, says the same, and knows it because Richard his brother abjured the realm on account of the death of Robert de [...]ath, whom he slew on Monday [missing] 21 years ago, and the said John was born on the feast of the Purification next before.

3) Elizabeth, younger daughter and co-heir of Brian Brampton, Herefordshire, Wednesday the morrow of St Martin, 3 Edw. II [12 November 1309]

John de Midelton. aged 45, says that the said Elizabeth was born at Ayston and baptised in the church there, and was 14 on Wednesday after St Nicholas last, and this he knows because he is her godfather and lifted her from the font.

Hugh de Careswell, aged 50, says the same, and knows it because on the same day he married his wife, and saw the said Elizabeth being baptised at the door of the church.

Adam Osberne, aged 60, agrees, and knows it because when building a chamber in his place near the manor of the said Brian [Brampton], he heard the said Elizabeth wailing.

William de Fraxino, aged 50, says the same, and knows it because he then was of the household of the said Brian, and on the said Wednesday saw the said Elizabeth lying in her cradle in her nurse's chamber.

4) John son and heir of Sir Hubert de Multon, Cumberland, Monday the morrow of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 8 Edw. II [9 September 1314]

Sir John de Lamplow, age 40 and more, says that the said John was born in the manor of Ishal, and baptised in the church of St Michael there, and was 21 on the feast of St Bartholomew last [24 August 1314]; which he well recollects as Robert his elder brother, whose heir he is, died on the morrow of the Assumption, 21 Edw. I [16 August 1293], and the said John was born on the feast of St Bartholomew next following.

Robert de Mulcastre says the like, and knows it because on the morrow of St Laurence in  that year [11 August 1293] he married Petronilla, daughter of Sir Robert de Pavelly, and the said John was born on the feast of St Bartholomew following.

Henry de Brumfeld says the like, and recollects it because in the same year on Sunday before the Ascension, the city of Carlisle with the great church was burned.

Alan de Arkelby says the like, and knows it because he returned from his pilgrimage to Santiago on the same day of St Bartholomew, 21 Edw. I, when the said John's birth was announced.

5) Edmund son and heir of Roger Coleville, Lincolnshire, 14 February 1309

Thomas de Sancto Laudo, knight, says that the said Edmund is son and next heir of the said Roger, and was born at Castelbitham at the feast of the Conversion of St Paul, 16 Edw. I [25 January 1288], and baptised in the church of St James there. Robert Coleville and William de Bergh lifted him from the sacred font and named him Edmund in dedication to St Edmund of Pontigny, because his father travelling there vowed to name his son Edmund.

William de Hellewelle, age 50, says the same, and knows it because Robert his son was age 3 on the day that the said Edmund was born.

John Broun of Castelbitham, age 50, says the same, and knows it because he announced the birth to Sir Richard de Brewosa and Lady Alice his wife, grandparents of the said Edmund, for which they gave him jewels to the value of 100 shillings.

6) Alice Coterel, daughter and heir of William Kendale, Derbyshire, 26 November 1309

Richard Danyel, knight, age 60, says that the said Alice was 15 on the feast of the Translation of St Thomas the Martyr last [7 July], and was born at Derleye on that day 15 years ago and baptised in the church there on the morrow, which he knows because he had a son Robert who was born at the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Mary next after the birth of the said Alice, and died at the feast of St Michael last [29 September], aged 15 and more.

Nicholas Kyng, age 40, says the same, and knows it because William Kendale held seisin at Haddon of lands which were of Robert de Derleye on the same day that the said Alice was born, and had magnates feasting with him.

John Birchelis, age 54, says the same, and knows it because he had a sister Agnes married on the same day.

27 November, 2016

My Edward II Talk on Youtube

I recently gave a talk about Edward II at the International English Library, Düsseldorf. It's now available on Youtube, in three parts, including the question and answer session at the end.

Part One: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gj5TdVkR108

Part Two: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksbsLvijxjA

Part Three: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jV170dZXmWE This includes the question and answer session.

Not sure why the links aren't working, but you can copy and paste them into your browser. Enjoy! :-)

24 November, 2016

24 November 1326: Execution of Hugh Despenser the Younger, Lord of Glamorgan

690 years ago today on 24 November 1326, Edward II's notorious 'favourite', chamberlain and nephew-in-law Hugh Despenser the Younger, lord of Glamorgan, was executed in Hereford, in the presence of Edward's queen Isabella and her own 'favourite' Roger Mortimer.

Hugh was most likely in his late thirties at the time of his death; his date of birth is not known but was probably in the late 1280s. He had been married to Edward I's eldest granddaughter Eleanor de Clare for just over twenty years at the time of his death, since 26 May 1306, and they had at least ten children together. As I've pointed out before, Hugh was a high-ranking English nobleman, not a nobody or simply a humble knight: he was the grandson and nephew of earls of Warwick, step-grandson of the earl of Norfolk, and so on, and his marriage to Eleanor de Clare was arranged and attended by her grandfather Edward I, who paid two thousand pounds to Hugh the Elder for the privilege. Hugh the Younger was appointed Edward II's chamberlain in 1318, and used his proximity to the king to work his way into Edward's favour, until Edward - apparently - became as infatuated with him as he ever had been with Piers Gaveston. Edward refused to expel Hugh from his court and his side even when his very kingship depended on it.

Hugh had made a very bad enemy in Queen Isabella, who loathed and feared him. There is no reason, though, to think that he raped her, an invention of two authors of the early twenty-first century and based on no primary source evidence whatsoever. In late 1325, Isabella, at the court of her brother Charles IV in Paris, declared publicly that she would not return to her husband unless he expelled Hugh from his side and his court, and took to wearing widow's weeds to emphasise the death of her marriage thanks to Hugh's intrusion. Edward refused, which left Isabella with little option but to remain on the continent and ally with Edward and Hugh's greatest enemy Roger Mortimer, the only man with the ability and desire to help Isabella rid herself of the hated Hugh Despenser and his father the earl of Winchester.

Hugh was captured in South Wales on 16 November 1326, with the king and a handful of others. Edward II was taken to Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire and treated with all the honour, respect and dignity due to the king; Hugh was treated with every indignity possible. According to the Brut chronicle, he refused all food and drink and so "was almost dead for fasting." He was tied to a mean horse with the royal sergeant-at-arms Simon of Reading - a man who was not, despite what some modern writers have claimed, one of Hugh's 'henchmen' or his marshall or a knight - forced to carry his coat of arms upside down as a sign of his disgrace. A crown of nettles was placed on Hugh's head, Biblical verses were scrawled over his skin, and trumpets were blown loudly in his ears. In the public square of Hereford, in front of Queen Isabella, Edward II's half-brothers the earls of Norfolk and Kent and a few others, Hugh was given a mock trial and charged with a long list of offences: some were true, some were a little bit true, some were so ridiculous I wonder if anyone present could keep a straight face.The gallows on which he would be hanged had already been constructed before his so-called trial.

Hugh Despenser the Younger, lord of Glamorgan, was tied to four horses and dragged through the streets of Hereford. He was partly strangled on a gallows fifty feet high - the obscure Simon of Reading, who was not charged with any offence, was hanged on a smaller gallows next to him - then cut down and subjected to the most terrible brutalities before death finally claimed him. Hugh had done the same thing to the Welsh nobleman Llywelyn Bren in Cardiff eight years previously. Four years later in December 1330, Edward III gave permission to Hugh's family and friends to retrieve his head and the four parts of his body from London Bridge, Carlisle, York, Bristol and Dover where they had been displayed since November 1326, and to bury him at Tewkesbury Abbey, where his tomb can still be seen.


20 November, 2016

20 November In Different Years

On 20 November 1311, Edward II sent a polite letter to Sir Robert Holland, adherent and friend of the king's first cousin and enemy Thomas, earl of Lancaster, which included the following: "We are very joyous and pleased about the good news we have heard concerning the improvement in our dear cousin and faithful subject Thomas, earl of Lancaster, and that he will soon be able to ride in comfort. And we send you word and dearly pray that, as soon as he is comfortable and able to ride without hurt to his body, you should ask him to be so good as to hasten to us at our parliament." It's interesting that Thomas of Lancaster does seem to have been prone to illness, though exactly what he suffered from is unclear. In 1305, he excused himself from attending twenty-one-year-old Edward, then the heir to the throne, because he was ill; Edward promised that he would visit Thomas instead, "to see and to comfort you." The two cousins were apparently on close terms then, but it all went horribly wrong, and they came to loathe each other, especially after Thomas had Piers Gaveston killed in 1312.

On 20 November 1316, Edward II's brother-in-law Philip V acceded as king of France, on the death of Philip's nephew the five-day-old King John I 'the Posthumous', son of Louis X (died 5 June 1316) and Clemence of Hungary. Philip V and Edward II seem to have been on good terms, as brothers-in-law if not necessarily as kings: shortly before his accession, Philip sent Edward bunches of new grapes, and a year later, a box of rose sugar. Edward gave a very generous gift of twenty marks on 7 August 1316 to the messenger who brought him the news that Philip's wife Joan of Burgundy had borne a son, Louis, on 24 June (the boy died when he was a few months old). Edward excused himself from attending Philip's coronation in early 1317.

On 20 November 1322, Edward II gave two shillings each to ten fishermen of Thorne, near Doncaster, "who fished in the king's presence and took great pike, great eels, and a large number of other fish." I find it hard to think of any other medieval king of England who would willingly have stood by a river in winter watching men fish. This, though, was entirely normal of Edward II, who seemed to love nothing more than chatting to fishermen. And carpenters, and shipwrights, and ditchers, and blacksmiths, and any other of his 'lowborn' subjects he happened to encounter. One of my favourite Edward anecdotes dates to September 1325, when Edward paid compensation to a Thames fisherman called Colle (i.e. Nicholas) Herron, whose goods had been burned in some accident "the last time he was with the king." That's right, the king of England spent time hanging out with a fisherman called Colle Herron, and more than once at that. There are countless dozens of similar entries in Edward II's household accounts. Then of course there's the famous John of Walton, who in July 1326 was said to have "sung before the king every time he passed through these parts by water," i.e. along the Thames, and who was also a fisherman.

11 November, 2016

Tenants in Chief, Wardships and Inheritance in the Fourteenth Century

A blog post explaining the concept of tenants in chief in the fourteenth century, inheritance, Inquisitions Post Mortem and so on. It's more interesting than it sounds, honestly. :-) Necessarily simplified as this is a blog post aimed at a general audience, not an academic one.

Under the feudal system, tenants in chief were the people who held land directly from the king. Most of them were men, some were women, though the latter only controlled lands in their own right when they were widows. Otherwise, even when it was their own inheritance from their parents or other relatives, it was their husbands who swore homage/fealty to the king and controlled the lands on their behalf. Tenants in chief were always members of the nobility or high-ranking churchmen, i.e. bishops and abbots, and there were several hundred of them in England at any time. The origins of the system lay in the king granting lands in exchange for military service; women and churchmen obviously were exempt from performing military service in person but were still obliged to send men to fight the king's wars.

Special rules applied to tenants in chief. They weren't allowed to marry without the king's permission, although fairly often they did, and the chancery rolls of the fourteenth century are full of entries relating to the king temporarily confiscating lands and handing out huge fines usually running to a few hundred pounds, i.e. hundreds of thousands in modern terms - but hey, these people were really wealthy, they could afford it - to his tenants in chief who had married without royal consent. Women who were tenants of chief in their own right or the widows of such also required the king's permission to marry again. You sometimes see entries on the Patent Roll like "Permission to Eleanor late the wife of Sir John Darcy, tenant in chief, to marry whomsoever she will of the king's allegiance."

Tenants in chief had to swear fealty to the king whenever there was a change of personnel, as it were: whenever there was a new king of England, all tenants in chief had to swear an oath to him, and when one of them died, his heir had to swear after he came into his lands. When a tenant in chief died, his lands were temporarily taken into the king's hands by the escheator - there were two in England, one on either side of the River Trent - and an Inquisition Post Mortem was held in every county where he (or she) had held lands to establish which lands there were, how they were held, i.e. some from the king directly ('held of the king in chief') and some from other tenants in chief, and the terms of holding the lands. IPMs also established the heir or heirs to the lands, and their age. Often this is very specific with the exact date given, usually when the heir was under age, but generally the age varies according to how old the jurors of various counties thought the person(s) in question might be, sometimes only by a year or two but occasionally by as much as thirteen years. The 1307 IPM of the countess of Pembroke, for example, gives the age of her son and heir Aymer de Valence as anywhere between 24 and 37, so Aymer might have been born any time between 1270 and 1283. Thanks, that's very helpful. On the other hand, the IPM of Patrick Chaworth taken after his death in early July 1283 gives the exact date of birth of his daughter and heir Maud (older half-sister of Hugh Despenser the Younger): she was 'aged one at the feast of the Purification last,' i.e. Maud was born on or perhaps shortly before 2 February 1282. Two IPMs also give the exact age of Maud Chaworth's stepfather Hugh Despenser the Elder: he was born on 1 March 1261.

Here's one brief example of an entry in an IPM: it's that of Edward II's nephew Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester, killed at Bannockburn on 24 June 1314. (The full IPM goes on for just under thirty pages.)
"Inq. Tuesday after the Assumption 8 Edw. II.
Great Berdefeld. The manor (extent given), including stallage and toll of the market, and the farm of the market of Donemowe, held of the king in chief by service of 1 knight's fee...
If the countess is not pregnant, his next heirs are his sisters Eleanor the wife of Hugh le Despenser the younger, aged 22 and more, Margaret late the wife of Piers Gaveston, aged 20, and Elizabeth, late the wife of John de Burgh, aged 19." In the various county inquisitions, Eleanor Despenser's age is given as anywhere between 20 and 25 (she was born in October or November 1292, so was actually 21 at the time of her brother's death and when the inquisitions were taken in the following weeks). The age of the third sister Elizabeth was stated to be anywhere between 16 and 20 (she was born in September 1295 so was 18 going on 19 when her brother died).

The heir(s) of a tenant in chief, if of age - at least twenty-one for men, and fourteen or fifteen for women depending on whether they were already married or not - had to pay a sum of money called a 'relief', basically inheritance tax, swear homage to the king as his/her liege lord, and was allowed to enter his lands. If the heir was still under age, the king became his or her guardian, even if the heir's mother was alive, and the child or adolescent was known as the king's 'ward'. Edward II, for example, became the guardian of Piers Gaveston's five-month-old daughter Joan on Piers' death in June 1312, even though Joan's mother, Edward's niece Margaret de Clare, was alive. It was Edward who later arranged Joan's future marriage to the earl of Ulster's grandson John Multon, having made an unsuccessful attempt to marry her to Thomas Wake, another royal ward. This was entirely normal and expected, not Edward being cruel to his niece; a lot of people in modern times misunderstand this concept. The king could choose to keep the heir as his own ward, or give or sell the wardship (usually including the rights to the heir's marriage) to another person; this was one of the main ways a king could distribute patronage. It could be most lucrative for the recipient. Say a tenant in chief with lands worth five hundred pounds a year died when his son was only four. This meant that the heir's guardian would receive the tenant in chief's income for seventeen years until the son came of age. The guardian simply had to maintain the heir in suitable style, and hand over the lands at the end of the period in the same condition in which he or she found them.

There were of course strict rules relating to the inheritance of lands. Men were favoured, of course, and primogeniture was in operation, meaning that the eldest son inherited everything. In case there was no male heir, as above in the case of the earl of Gloucester, women inherited equally, primogeniture not applying to female heirs (at least in England; it did in France). Therefore the earl of Gloucester's three sisters inherited equally, though understandably it proved impossible to divide his estates and their value into three completely equal shares. William Marshal (d. 1219) and Isabella de Clare, earl and countess of Pembroke, had five sons and five daughters. None of the sons fathered a single child between them; if they had, the child would have received the entire Pembroke inheritance, whether male or female. The five daughters all had children, however, so the inheritance ended up being split between literally dozens of people, the sisters' children and grandchildren. on the death of the fifth Marshal son in 1245.

Widows of tenants in chief were entitled to hold a third of their husband's lands for their lives until they died, even if they married again. On a widow's death, the lands she held as her dower passed to her husband's heir, who would often be her own son or grandson. Maurice, Lord Berkeley, grandson of Roger Mortimer, died on 8 June 1368 when his eldest son Thomas was fifteen. Thomas inherited part of the Berkeley inheritance when he turned twenty-one in January 1374, but two-thirds of it remained in the hands of two Berkeley dowagers: Thomas's mother Elizabeth, daughter of Hugh Despenser the Younger, who lived until 1389, and his step-grandmother Katherine Cliveden, widow of Maurice's father the elder Thomas, who lived until 1385. Thomas thus had to wait until he was thirty-six to gain his full inheritance. Long-lived dowagers could keep a large part of inheritances in their hands for decades. When a woman who had inherited and held lands in her own right died before her husband, a custom called the 'courtesy of England' allowed a widower to keep all of his late wife's lands in his own hands until his own death, as long as they had had at least one child together. For example, Thomas, Lord Berkeley above (b. 1353) married Margaret Lisle, heir of the Lisles, and kept all the Lisle lands after Margaret's death in 1392 until his own death in July 1417. They then passed to his and Margaret's only child Elizabeth, countess of Warwick.

Some more concrete examples:

- Henry III's younger brother Richard of Cornwall died in 1272. His elder son, Henry of Almain, had been murdered (by his de Montfort cousins) in Sicily in 1271. Richard's heir was therefore his younger son Edmund, who succeeded him as earl of Cornwall; Edmund was over twenty-one when his father died, and therefore did not enter royal wardship. When Earl Edmund died in 1300, he left no children, and he had no (legitimate) siblings or nieces and nephews. His heir was his first cousin Edward I, son of Henry III - Edmund of Cornwall's mother and Edward I's mother were also sisters so they were first cousins on both sides - and Edmund's nearest male relative.

- William, Lord Leyburne, died in 1310. His eldest son Sir Thomas Leyburne had died in June 1307, and William's heir was his granddaughter Juliana (b. 1303/04), Thomas's only child, even though William had younger sons still alive. Juliana became the ward of Edward II, though her mother Alice Toeni, countess of Warwick, was alive, and Edward gave or sold her wardship and the rights to her marriage to Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke. Aymer arranged Juliana's marriage to his nephew and co-heir John, Lord Hastings. Juliana was also the heir of her grandmother Juliane de Sandwich, Lady Leyburne, who herself was the heir of her father and uncle. Juliana Leyburne's mother Alice Toeni was also the heir of her brother, though the Toeni inheritance did not pass to Juliana but to her younger half-brother Thomas Beauchamp, earl of Warwick (a male heir, if there was one, taking priority over his sisters even when they were older).

- Theobald, Lord Verdon, died in July 1316. He had three daughters from his first marriage to Maud Mortimer, and left his widow, Edward II's niece Elizabeth de Clare, pregnant. If she had given birth to a boy he would have been heir to the entire Verdon estate, but it was a girl, Isabella. She shared her father's estate equally with her three older half-sisters. Edward II gave the wardship of the eldest Verdon sister, Joan, to his friend Sir William Montacute, who arranged her marriage to his eldest son John (the teenage groom died a few months later).

- The aforementioned Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke, died in June 1324, leaving no children from either of his two marriages. Aymer had had three sisters, two of whom had children: they were John, Lord Hastings, and the sisters Joan and Elizabeth Comyn. These three inherited Aymer's estate equally; because it came through the female line, John Hastings had no priority over his female cousins, though Laurence, his son with Juliana Leyburne, was Aymer's successor as earl of Pembroke.

- Edward II's niece Margaret de Clare had two daughters with her two husbands, Joan Gaveston and Margaret Audley. They were her joint and equal heirs to Margaret's share of the de Clare fortune until Joan's death in January 1325, and thereafter Margaret Audley was the sole heir. If Margaret de Clare had borne a son at any point, he would have been sole heir to his mother; if she had borne more daughters, they would all have been equal heirs with Margaret Audley.

- Richard FitzJohn, lord of Shere in Surrey, died in September 1297. He had four sisters, two of whom were still alive in 1297, and the other two had left children. His five heirs at the time of his death were: Maud Beauchamp née FitzJohn, countess of Warwick, his eldest sister (d. 1301; maternal grandmother of Maud Chaworth and Hugh Despenser the Younger; Maud's share ultimately passed to her son Guy Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, and then to his son Earl Thomas, who also came into the Toeni inheritance, as above); Robert, Lord Clifford, grandson of the second FitzJohn sister the late Isabel Vipont, and Robert's aunt Idonea Cromwell, Isabel Vipont's daughter; Richard de Burgh, earl of Ulster, son of the late third FitzJohn sister Aveline; and Joan le Botiler, the fourth FitzJohn sister.

It's interesting to note that quite a few of the English earls of Edward II's reign had no children: Gloucester, Lancaster, Pembroke, Richmond, Surrey. Thomas of Lancaster's heir was his brother Henry, and John de Warenne, earl of Surrey's was his sister Alice's son Richard Fitzalan, earl of Arundel. The earls of Cornwall (Piers Gaveston) and Lincoln (Henry de Lacy) each had one daughter. Edward II's half-brothers the earls of Norfolk and Kent were both ultimately succeeded by a daughter, Margaret Marshal and Joan of Kent, Richard II's mother.

There's surely a great deal more I could write on this topic, but this post is long enough already, so I'll leave it to another time!