Edmund Crouchback, 1st Earl of Lancaster


Son of  Henry III and Philippa of Hainhault, father of Henry IV of Engalnd and husband of Blanche of Lancaster

Edmund Crouchback, 1st Earl of Lancaster born on 16th January 1245 in London.

In 1253 he was invested by Pope Innocent IV in the Kingdom of Sicily and Apulia. At about this time he was also made Earl of Chester. These were of little value as Conrad IV of Germany, the real King of Sicily, was still living and the Earldom of Chester was transferred to his elder brother Edward.

Edmund soon obtained, however, important possessions and dignities, for soon after the forfeiture of Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester in 1265, Edmund received the Earldom of Leicester and of Lancaster and also the honour of the Stewardship of England and the lands of Nicolas de Segrave.

In 1271 he accompanied his elder brother Edward on the Ninth Crusade to Palestine. Some historians, including the authors of the Encyclopedia Britannica article on him, state that it was because of this that he received the nickname Crouchback, which they say means "cross back", indicating that he was entitled to wear a cross on his back.

He was married twice, first to Aveline de Forz, Countess of Albemarle, who lived from 20th  January 1259 born in Burstwick until 10th November 1274 died in Stockwell, on 8th April 1269, at Westminster Abbey. She died just 4 years after the marriage, at the age of 15, at was buried at Westminster Abbey. The couple had no children, though some sources believe she may have died in childbirth or shortly after a miscarriage.

He married secondly, in Paris, on 3rd February 1276, to Blanche of Artois. That same year he became the Count of Champagne and Brie in France. With Blanche he had four children:

Thomas Plantagenet, Second Earl of Lancaster (b. 1278

Thomas, Earl of Lancaster born in 1278

From his father Thomas inherited the Earldoms of Lancaster, Leicester, and Derby. By his marriage to Alice de Lacy, Countess of Lincoln, daughter of Henry de Lacy, 3rd Earl of Lincoln, he became Earl of Lincoln, Earl of Salisbury and the 11th Baron of Halton upon the death of his father-in-law in 1311. Master of five earldoms, he was one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in England.

He served in the coronation of his cousin, King Edward II of England, on 25th February1308, carrying Curtana, the sword of St Edward the Confessor. At the beginning of the king's reign, Lancaster openly supported Edward, but as the conflict between the king and the nobles wore on, Lancaster's allegiances changed. He despised the royal favourite, Piers Gaveston, who mocked him as "the Fiddler", and swore revenge when Gaveston demanded that the king dismiss one of Lancaster's retainers.

Lancaster was one of the Lords Ordainers who demanded the banishment of Gaveston and the establishment of a baronial oligarchy. His private army helped separate the king and Gaveston, and Lancaster was one of the "judges" who convicted Gaveston and saw him executed.

His marriage to Alice de Lacy was not successful. They had no children, though he had two illegitimate sons. In 1317 she was abducted from her manor at Canford, Dorset by Richard de St Martin, a knight in the service of John de Warenne, 8th Earl of Surrey. This incident caused a feud between Lancaster and Surrey; Lancaster divorced his wife and seized two of Surrey's castles in retaliation. King Edward then intervened, and the two earls came to an uneasy truce.

Although divorced from his wife, he continued to hold the powerful earldoms of Lincoln and Salisbury. This was due to the marriage contract the two families had agreed, in effect upon the death of his father-in-law, Earl Thomas held these earldoms in his own right, not in right of his wife.

After the disaster at Bannockburn in 1314, Edward submitted to Lancaster, who in effect became ruler of England. He attempted to govern for the next four years, but was unable to keep order or prevent the Scots from raiding and retaking territory in the North. In 1318 a new faction of barons arose, and Lancaster was deposed from office.

The new leadership, eventually headed by Hugh le Despenser, 1st Earl of Winchester and his son Hugh the younger Despenser, proved no more popular with the baronage, and in 1321 Lancaster was again at the head of a rebellion. This time, however, he was defeated at the Battle of Boroughbridge, and taken prisoner. He was tried by a tribunal consisting of, among others, the two Despensers, Edmund FitzAlan, 9th Earl of Arundel, and King Edward. Lancaster was not allowed to speak in his own defence, nor was he allowed to have anyone to speak for him. Because of their kinship and Lancaster's royal blood, the king commuted the sentence to mere beheading as opposed to being drawn, quartered, and beheaded and Lancaster was convicted of treason and executed near Pontefract Castle on 22nd March 1322.

Upon his death his titles and estates were forfeited, but in 1323 his younger brother Henry successfully petitioned to take possession of the Earldom of Leicester. In 1326 or 1327 Parliament posthumously reversed Thomas's conviction, and Henry was further permitted to take possession of the Earldoms of Lancaster, Derby, Salisbury and Lincoln.

Thomas became venerated as a martyr and saint within a few months of his death. Hagiographies were written about him, and Edward III wrote three times to the Pope requesting his canonisation. He was never canonised, though rumours to that effect arose in the 1390s, when his cult experienced something of a revival.

Henry Plantagenet, 3rd Earl of Lancaster born in 1281 )

Henry's elder brother Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster succeeded their father in 1296, but Henry was summoned to Parliament on 6th February 1298/99 by writ directed Henrico de Lancastre nepoti Regis, by which he is held to have become Lord Lancaster. He took part in the siege of Carlaverock in July 1300.

Thomas was convicted of treason, executed and his lands and titles forfeited in 1322. But Henry, who had not participated in his brother's rebellion, petitioned for his brother's lands and titles, and on 29th March 1324 he was invested as Earl of Leicester, and a few years later the earldom of Lancaster was also restored to him.

On the Queen’s return to England with Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March in September 1326, Henry joined her party against Edward II, which led to a general desertion of the king’s cause and overturned the power of Hugh le Despenser, 1st Earl of Winchester and his namesake son Hugh the younger Despenser. He was sent in pursuit and captured the king at Neath. He was appointed to take charge of the King, and was responsible for his custody at Kenilworth Castle.

After Edward II's death Henry was appointed guardian of the new king Edward III of England, and was also appointed captain-general of all the King's forces in the Scottish Marches.

In about the year 1330, he became blind.

He was succeeded as Earl of Lancaster and Leicester by his eldest son, Henry of Grosmont, who subsequently became Duke of Lancaster.

He married Maud Chaworth, before 2 March 1296/1297.

Henry and Maud had seven children:

Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster, born c.1300 and died in1360/61

Blanche of Lancaster born c.1305 and died in1380

Maud of Lancaster born c.1310and died 1377); She married William de Burgh, 3rd Earl of Ulster

Joan Plantagenet of Lancaster born in 1312 in Norfolk, England. She married John de Mowbray, 3rd Baron Mowbray and was the mother of John de Mowbray, 4th Baron Mowbray. She died in 1345.

Isabel of Lancaster, Abbess of Ambresbury born c.1317 and died after 1347)

Eleanor of Lancaster born c.1318 and died 1371/7. She married (1) John De Beaumont and (2) on 5th February 1344/5, Richard FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundel;

Mary of Lancaster born c.1320 and died in1362. She married Henry, 3rd Baron Percy and was the mother of Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland.

Henry Plantagenet, 3rd Earl of Lancaster (b. 1281)

John Plantagenet, Lord of Beaufort born c. 1282 and died 1327

Mary Plantagenet born c. 1284 and died c. 1289

He died on 5th June 1296 in Bayonne, and was interred on 15th July 1296 at Westminster Abbey, London, England.


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