Cecil George Savile Foljambe Liverpool.

The house of Cornewall online

. (page 2 of 33)
Online LibraryCecil George Savile Foljambe LiverpoolThe house of Cornewall → online text (page 2 of 33)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

estates of the Count of Boulogne, including the lands and Castle of
Hayles, Gloucestershire. See Close Rolls, under " Thonock," 1225. — "Feb.
13, the King gave to Richard, Earl of Cornwall, the County of Cornwall,
with all that pertained to Reginald (i.e., Reginald FitzCount, the natural
son of Reginald de Dunstanville, fifth Earl of Cornwall, by Beatrix de
VaUetort)." Again, 1227, Aug. 21, the King (Hen. III.) gave him all the
lands which his mother held in dowry (this apparently in consequence of
her re-marriage), including the Manor of Winterslow, Wilts. Further as
regards the Manor of Kirton in Lindsey, held by Earl Richard in 1235, i^s
devolution is thus stated :—

Eustace, Count of Boulogne=MARY of Scotland.


Matilda, Countess (d. ii52)=King Stephen.


Mary, Abbess of Romsey. *=Mathew (of Alsace) styled of Flanders,

I who attempted an invasion of England, and

had his lands forfeited in 1173, when he

I died. He eloped with his wife, then a

I Nun at Romsey. She afterwards left

I him and became its Abbess.


Ida, Countess of Boulogne=CouNT Reginald Dammartin. MATiLDA=Duke of Louvain.

Entering into alhance with
King John by the Treaty of
Chateau Gaillard, he obtained
the restoration of his w'ife's
English Manors, including Kir-
ton, but subsequently joined
Philip of France, and they
were again forfeited, when
Henry HI. bestowed Kirton
on his brother. Earl Richard.

* For a dramatic rendering of the Princess Mary's career see " Vera Effigies, and other Stories
m Verse," by Compton Reade.


Mr. Baring Gould has narrated how at the very outset the young Earl set
to work to develope the mineral resources of Cornwall, and a little later those
of Devon, his area of operations extending as far as Dartmoor ; and when
Lysons catalogues the numerous benefits he bestowed upon what was then
literally " The County," of Cornwall, he omits to mention, that among them
some at least were very much a matter of self-interest. Thus he constituted
Lostwithiel the sole market for tin, erecting for himself a palace there, and
enfranchising the borough. He went further, and transferred the Assizes
from Launceston to Lostwithiel, until a strong Cornish remonstrance induced
him to permit them to be retransferred on payment of a fine. Then, in order
to escape the charge of undue partiality for Lostwithiel, he showered benefits
on other boroughs. Bodmin was granted the right of " GuUd Merchant "
for all Cornwall, i.e., the privilege of buying and selling free of toll. Camelford
was made a free borough with a market every Friday, and a fair on the festival
of St. Swithin. He enfranchised Launceston, assigning a plot of ground for the
erection of a GuUdhall by the annual render of lib. of pepper ; also Helston, and
Liskeard, where he founded a nunnery of poor Clares. According to the stan-
dards of that epoch he was regarded as a man of religious temperament, and in
truth throughout displayed a singular liberality towards the Church. Thus, for
the benefit of the Prior and Convent of Marazion, he permitted the fairs, held
by statute at Marges-Bigau. to be held at ]\Iarchadyon on their own land. These
fairs brought in a considerable revenue, lasting for two days each at Mid-
Lent, Michaelmas, and on the Festival of the apparition of St. Michael on the
Mount, which event occurred in 495 A.D. Lysons further records his numerous
residences, among others Tintagel Castle and Restormel, both of which he
enlarged, utilising the former as a refuge for the rebel Prince David of Wales ;
and the Valletorts' stronghold of Trematon. If his earldom enriched him,
he also enriched his earldom with a more than princely munificence.

In an age when valour was esteemed the loftiest among Christian virtues,
a Prince of the Blood owed it to himself and his rank to display prowess
in the field ; and this the young Earl accomplished fairly to his credit. In
company with his uncle, the Earl of Salisbury, he set saU on Palm Sunday,
1225, in order to recover revolted Gascony* for the Crown of England. Here
he found himself unexpectedly thrown on his own resources. Robert De

*In the Index of Petitions preserved at the Record Office there is one from the mariners of
the ships arrested for the passage of Earl Richard to Gascony.


Dreux and Peter, Count of Brittany, who had both promised aid, failed him,
while the Earl of Salisbury returned home. It speaks volumes for his virility
and force of character that single-handed, and while yet imberhis juvenis, he
should have conducted the campaign to a successful issue. Among the Royal
letters in the Record Office, is one dated May 2 — probably 1226 — from St.
Macar, wherein he informs his brother. King Henry, concerning the surrender
of Bazas, stating that all Gascony, except La Reole, had been cleared of his
enemies. He remained in command of the English army until May, 1227, when
the King, the entire Province having been subjugated, recalled him home.
In the following August a Parhament was held at Northampton, and Henry,
after publicly announcing his successes, bestowed upon the young and victor-
ious Earl the lands of the treacherous Peter of Brittany with the custody
of the sequestrated lands of the Count of Dreux. As so often happened in the
middle ages, when estates were taken from one man and bestowed upon another,
the beneficiaire only retained possession until the sequestrated proprietor
had made peace with his overlord, but the ad interim revenue must have
been considerable.

Three years later King Henry undertook a further expedition to France,
being incited thereto by Peter of Brittany, to whose son he had restored
the forfeited lands. Accompanied by Earl Richard he landed in France,
and wasted time, blood, and money. The expedition indeed would have
proved an abject failure, but for the strong measures adopted by Earl Richard
in order to secure the allegiance of Anjou, Poitou, and Gascony. This military
episode, as it happened, was rendered eventful mainly by the death of Gilbert
De Clare, Earl of Gloucester, whose Honour, stretching as far as Northampton-
shire, was one of the wealthiest in the Kingdom. On 30 March, 1231, Earl
Richard wedded this nobleman's widow, a daughter of William Earl of Pembroke.
Isabel De Clare was already united with royalty by the marriage of her brother,
the Earl Marshal, to the Princess Eleanor, sister to King Henry and Earl
Richard. In aU hkeUhood this beautiful lady, whose golden tresses the chron-
iclers upheld to the admiration of future ages, brought Earl Richard a consider-
able fortune, but unhappily their union, otherwise so auspicious, produced
a rupture between the bridegroom and his royal brother. The latter had refused
to pay the Princess Eleanor her dower, and Earl Richard had now a double
motive for espousing his sister's cause. Remonstrances remaining unnoticed,
he summoned to his side those of the barons who were his allies, and by way


of reprisal for the unpaid dower harried the lands of Basset and Siward, the
King's chief supporters,* who in turn ravaged his lands around Wallingford.
In 1234 the young Earl Marshal died and the royal brothers became reconciled.
Siward was temporarily banished, and by way of solatium. Earl Richard was
constituted custodian of Bramber Castle, besides being granted the Honour
of Knaresborough. Further he obtained license to amerce his tenants in
Bucks, Beds, and Rutland, so as to recoup himself for the cost of an imbroglio,
wherein he had been practically -victorious.

King Henry had married, on 14th January, 1236, Eleanor, 2nd daughter of
Raymond, Count of Provence, by Beatrice, daughter of Thomas, Count of
Maurienne, a woman of remarkable beauty. Eleanor's sister had also married
the King of France, and now the monarchs of Western Europe were united in
blood by the marriage of Frederick the Second, Emperor of Germany, to Isabel,
sister to King Henry. Notwithstanding, at that, as at the present, date,
matrimonial alliances afforded no guarantee of peace, and the first act of the
Emperor after his wedding was to invite Earl Richard to join him in invading
France, t all of which jars with the ordinary canons of good feeling, not to say
of common morality. Fortunately the Emperor's sinister proposal met with
a diplomatic refusal, on the ground that his brother the king not as yet
having issue, Earl Richard was heir to the English throne. Apparently, it
was King Henry himself who interfered for reasons of state, inasmuch as it
directed the eye of Earl Richard towards Germany.

It may be conjectured that the King's embargo could not have gratified
his brother. Anyhow a fresh cause of difference cropped up, and one of more
serious import. Queen Eleanor brought in her train from France a crowd of
hungry foreigners, and already had induced her feeble husband to provide
places of emolument in church and state for these adventurers. Conspicuous
among this needy skein stood a man of character and resolve in Simon De
Montfort. In order to secure a footing in the country with the leverage of
a solid income he obtained the King's consent to his union with Eleanor, the
royal widow of the Earl Marshal.

The Queen indisputably had been the abettor of De Montfort, and as the
nation was growing indignant because of the favours showered on foreigners,

* Hubert de Burgh, Justiciar of England, took the King's side at the time of the breach
between the brothers.

t Another account affirms that the invitation of the Emperor related to his wars in Italy,
and not to France, but we have followed Mathew Paris.


when Earl Richard took up arms he might easily have become a popular leader.
He was joined by Gilbert, the young Earl Marshal, and the Papal Legate in vain
strove to pacify him. Eventually a compromise was effected, as Mathew
Paris hints, per the leverage of Earl Richards' purse — Crede mihi, res est
ingeniosa dare. Simon de Montfort humbled himself to the Earl, and under-
took to obtain the Pope's sanction for his marriage, as indeed was necessary,
inasmuch as on her husband's death the Princess Eleanor had taken a vow
of perpetual celibacy. Nevertheless, the Earl shared the general discontent
caused by the action of the King in pushing foreigners over the heads of the
Norman-English, and even more by the subsidies granted so profusely to his
brothers-in-law, the Emperor and the King of France. According to Mathew
Paris, he is alleged to have said : " England has become a vineyard without a
wall, wherein all who pass along the road pluck the grapes "* Inasmuch as
his opinions were openly expressed, the Emperor sought by every means in
his power to conciliate him. We find him inviting his sympathy when the
Pope placed him under anathema. To both royal brothers he sent presents
in 1236, and at the conference of Vaucouleurs Earl Richard was asked to re-
present England. The Emperor went even further when, in lieu of addressing
King Henry, he indited a letter to Earl Richard, informing him of his
victory over the Milanese, and announcing the birth of an heir to the imperial
throne. Lastly, it was the Emperor who, when in 1236 the young Earl was
despatched on a special Embassy to Germany, directly incited him to join the
projected Crusade. In that year Edward the First was born, and we read of
Earl Richard having been one of those who " lifted " the Royal infant from
the font — an indirect evidence of baptism by immersion. There being now an
heir to the Throne of England, Earl Richard's hands were freed. He was more
than dissatisfied with the condition of affairs at home, and when on 19th
January, 1239-40, his beautiful Isabel de Clare died in childbed of jaun-
dice — the chroniclers narrate sorrowfully how her golden tresses had to be
sacrificed — he decided definitely to take the cross. He was strongly imbued
with the religio-chivalric spirit of the age. His vast wealth enabled him to
enter on a crusade under highly advantageous conditions. He had already
proved himself to be a strange blend of soldier and financier, whUe a cool
judgment, and much force of character augured not unfavourably for the
success of a rather hairbrained enterprise. Moreover, the dark shadow of

* Mathew Paris states that in 1237 Earl Richard reproached the King sharply for his extor-
tion and subservience to the Papal Legate.


bereavement had rendered life less worth living ; hence, as soon as he had
consigned the mortal remains of Isabel de Clare to their last resting-place in
the Abbey of Beaulieu* he was ready to accept the cross as his portion. With
the design of setting an example of devotion he went so far as to order his woods
to be cut down in order to raise an adequate sum — probably a mere brutum
fulmen, inasmuch as he was rich enough to join the King in entertaining the
Emperor of Constantinople, who visited England in the hope of obtaining
largesse ; nor indeed was disappointed. King Henry giving him 500 marks,
and Earl Richard, according to Mathew Paris, a large sum — indeed at every
turn we perceive ample evidence of the young Earl's colossal wealth.

A Crusade had thus been contemplated in 1236, but it was not until three
years later that the project was realized. In 1239, o^i the morrow of St.
Martin, the Crusading Lords met at Northampton to swear fidelity to the
Cross, and the first to take an oath which bound him to lead the expedition
was Earl Richard. Not until the year following did he leave for the Holy
Land, for we find him pressing successfully the claim of Baldwin de Redvers
(or Rivers), 7th Earl of Devon, his stepson (who had married Amicia, daughter
of Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester and Hertford, by Isabel, daughter of
William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, his late wife), to be Lord of the Isle of

About Eastertide 1240 a ParUament assembled at Reading. Thereunto
came Earl Richard to take a solemn farewell of his peers and to commend
himself to the prayers of the Church. The Bishops with one accord implored
him not to leave the country, where his presence was sorely needed. Accord-
ing to Mathew Paris he replied to the Archbishop, " My Father and Lord, of
a truth, even if I had not assumed the Cross I would still absent myself, so
that I, might not behold the desolation of the Kingdom, which it is believed I am
able to prevent, though I cannot really do so." Not content with the prayers
of the Episcopate, Earl Richard hied him to the great Abbey of St. Albans to
beg the intercession of its Religious. Then, having secured the favour of the
Church upon what had been considered, even by men of such Puritan temper
as St. Bernard, in the light of a Christian Mission, he set sail with his brother
nobles from Dover, being accorded a valedictory benediction by his former
enemy, the Papal Legate, who possibly may not have felt chagrined at the

* Her heart, enclosed in silver, was placed by her special request in Tewkesbury, whereof
her brother was Abbot.


departure of a strong man who had proved the only capable corrective of a
system of criminal wastefulness. Earl Richard took with him as adviser
Theodoric,* Prior of the Hospitallers, who is stated by Mathew Paris to have
already fought for the Cross in Palestine. On landing in France the Earl
was received with open arms by the French King, who loaded him and his
comrades with presents, and accompanied the party as far as the Rhone.
Here, however, an unpleasant incident occurred. The citizens of Vienne were
much attracted by the boats the Earl had provided for his transit by water
and wished to purchase them. On the Earl point-blank refusing their request,
stating proudly that he was no huckster, they seized them by force, and the
band of Crusaders, humiliated at the outset of their expedition, were fain to
pursue their journey to Aries on land. In the meanwhile the citizens of Vienne
began to repent of their brutality, the Count of Toulouse loudly expressing his
indignation at such lack of hospitality. In fear of reprisals they despatched
the boats in all haste to him at Beaucaire. His response was to burn them !
This action displays more than any circumstance in his career the temper
of the man.

Earl Richard was before all things magnanimous, the counterpart in
many particulars of his illustrious uncle, the Lionheart. Nor did he con-
descend to vindictiveness. When in the face of this situation the Count of
Provence hurried to Tarascon in the hope of inducing him to join forces
and chastise the Count of Toulouse, he met with a cold rebuff. The
Count and his people were equally beneath the notice of a Soldier of the
Cross. Instead of turning aside on a petty feud, the Earl hastened to St.
Giles there to implore the favour of the Saint against marine risks. At this
point he found himself confronted by a Papal Legate with a prohibition from
the Pope against his setting sail. He replied that his preparations had been
made, that he had wished fareweU to England, and had despatched in ad-
vance both money and arms. He was next advised not to embark from
Marseilles. This interference he rejected, and in defiance of the Church set
sail accordingly.

Earl Richard had been preceded to the Holy Land by Theobald of Navarre,
who apparently underrated the enemy, and came ill-equipped. The result
was a crushing defeat of the French at Gaza. When therefore the English
* We follow Mathew Paris. This Theodoric may have been Thifirri de Nussa.


Earl landed at St. Jean D'Acre he was welcomed rapturously — albeit,
as soon as the Knights Templars discovered that he had identified himself
with their rivals, the Hospitallers, they turned cool. He had, however, learnt
the power of money, and as soon as all comers wiUing to serve were
offered Uberal pay, the Templars ralUed round him. Moreover, with the
design of influencing the Saracens, he boldly gave out that he was a son of
Coeur de Lion — a diplomatic falsehood not redounding to his credit, but carry-
ing weight with an enemy who had in remembrance the prowess of the great
EngUsh King. The deception moreover proved to have been unnecessary, for the
Saracens had already anticipated his arrival by casting lots in order to discern
the immediate future, and the die went against them, the necromancer whom
they consulted stating that Earl Richard was grandson, not son, of the Royal
Crusader who struck terror into the Saracen host. This augur further told
them that, while equal in valour to Coeur de Lion, his prudence was greater,
and that his force was daily augmenting. In the same breath he warned them
not to despair, because the Christians would be entangled in their sins and so
lose the favour of their Master.

How far the result was attributable to Earl Richard's prestige, how far
to the omnipotent leverage of his purse, can only be surmised. Enough
that it proved to be a Crusade without a battle. The Sultan of Damascus
sent messengers to meet the Earl on his arrival at St. Jean D'Acre,
where also were assembled the Bishops and such Knights as survived of the
King of Navarre's beaten army. Their astonishment must have been over-
whelming when they learnt that the Sultan avowed himself ready to restore
to the Christians all the country from Jordan. He, however, was not, as it
will appear, plenipotentiary, nevertheless, his missive showed the Saracen
temper. The enemy indeed proved less formidable than false friends. The
King of Arragon, the Count of Brittany, and the French nobles generally dis-
played jealousy and contempt for the fame of Earl Richard. They accused
him of effeminacy, ridiculed his English birth and lack of e.xperience, but
none the less accepted without scruple the English gold he tendered them on
leaving. It is not impossible that he was glad to see their backs ; neverthe-
less, in a letter addressed to the Earl of Devon, the Abbot of Beaulieu, and
other friends at home he complained bitterly of the perfidy he had experienced.
The King of Navarre and Count of Brittany had patched up a ten years' truce
with the Sultan Nadir, and then abruptly retired. This truce was vitiated by


their departure and Earl Richard states that he went to Joppa and made a fresh
treaty with the Sultan of Babylon, under the provisions whereof Jerusalem
was surrendered to the Christians, as well as Beyrout, Nazareth, Mount Tabor,
Bethlehem, and all the villages lately belonging to the Knights Hospitallers.
It is pleasant for the descendants of Earl Richard to reflect that — albeit but for
a few short years — the Holy City was recovered for The Cross by their ancestor,
who indeed exerted himself to the utmost in order to render the Christian
tenure permanent, his followers being permitted to erect fortifications, while
as a preliminary, the great Treaty having been formally ratified at Candlemas,
he set to work to fortify Ascalon strongly.

The Saracens moreover released their French prisoners,* and Earl Richard
caused the bodies of the Frenchmen slain at Gaza to be rescued from the vultures
and accorded Christian burial within the walls of Ascalon. Veni, vidi, vici,
might have been his motto, though his victory was peaceful. Between Michael-
mas and May he had accomplished either by prestige, largesse, or by both, more
than any Soldier of the Cross, save only one. He left as Governor of Pales-
tine Ralph, Marshal to the German Emperor, and setting sail landed in Sicily,
where at the moment the Emperor was residing, and at his request journeyed
to Rome in order to obtain reconciliation for that Monarch with the Holy See.
In this mission he failed, but his reception in Italy resembled that of a triumphant
conqueror, and he came attended by many of the French nobles and knights
whose release he had effected. He landed at Dover Jan. 7th, 1242, and London
was decorated to welcome him.

In the meanwhile the King of France had seized his fief of Poitou. King
Henry indignant, and relying on the aid of the Comte de la Marche — who had
married, as her second husband, Isabella his mother, who none the less intri-
gued against her own sons — headed an expedition to Bordeaux in the hope of
recovering the lost territory. The Earl accompanied his Royal brother, but
the affair ended in disaster, indeed he would have been taken prisoner but
that, in consideration of his services to the French prisoners, he was granted
a truce which enabled him to reach Bordeaux. Here King Henry was vainly
striving to win over the Poitevins by bribes, while quarrelling with his own
English followers. In sheer disgust Earl Richard quitted Bordeaux, and
during the voyage home narrowly escaped shipwreck. While thus in the
extremest peril of waters he registered a vow to found a monastery, whereol

* The total consisted of 33 Nobles with 500 Knights and Pilgrims. — Mathew Paris.


more anon. The King soon followed him to England, in his train Beatrice,
Countess of Provence, who brought her third daughter, Sanchia, as a bride
for Earl Richard. The marriage at Westminster on 23rd November, 1243,
was signalised by a prodigious banquet, no less than 30,000 dishes being
provided for the guests. At Christmas festivities were held in Wallingford
Castle, the King being present.

Directly after this his second marriage. Earl Richard set to work in good
earnest to fulfil his vow of founding a monastery. The spot selected was Hayles,
lying under the Cotswolds, a manor which had formed part of his mother's dowry.
Here he lavished resources, creating a Cistercian foundation worthy his
princely reputation, and an edifice of great beauty. So enthusiastic was he over
this work that he is reported to have regretted his folly in having expended on
Wallingford Castle treasure which might have been better devoted to religion.
The Church of the Monastery was precisely the same length as that of Glou-
cester — now the Cathedral — viz. : 320 feet, if we exclude the Lady Chapel of
the latter, the style being partly Early Enghsh, partly transitional. It was
consecrated* but by no means completed, in 1251, in the presence of King
Henry and Queen Eleanor, Earl Richard and his consort Sanchia, twelve
prelates, t and a host of nobles and knights.

The ruins afford the archeeologist sufi&cient evidence of the lines of this
superb and most costly structure, destined to attract pilgrims from all quarters,
inasmuch as in 1267 Earl Richard's heir, Earl Edmund, presented to the Abbot

Online LibraryCecil George Savile Foljambe LiverpoolThe house of Cornewall → online text (page 2 of 33)