Sunday, 23 May 2010

Henry's Brothers

Henry III's mother, Isabella of Angouleme, was betrothed when still a child to Hugh of Lusignan. Soon after John became King of England, he annulled his marriage and effectively kidnapped the 12 year old Isabella who was already considered a beauty. John married her and they had five children. The oldest was Henry and the second child was named Richard. A daughter, Joan, was betrothed to her mother's erstwhile suitor and she was sent to live at his court.
 However, when John died, Isabella returned to her lands in Angouleme and soon after married Hugh - her daughter instead being promised to Alexander of Scotland. Isabella proceeded to have another nine chidren. All fourteen of her offspring survived to adulthood - her daughters married a variety of notables including the Emperor Frederick II, Alexander II of Scotland, Raymond of Toulouse and Simon de Montfort.

Her second son, Richard, was from the age of 16 Count of Poitou and Earl of Cornwall. His Cornish lands provided a considerable amount of wealth and he became one of the richest men in Europe. He would later build his property portfolio through some shady purchases of debts. He also made a rich marriage and was paid off by the King on several occasions after rebelling.

One way in which he spent his money was on the reconstruction and expansion of the fortifications at Tintagel. This was an era which was fascinated in the stories around King Arthur and it seems that the castle was built because of the legend rather than for any strategic purpose. It is an interesting place to visit - unless you dislike heights! 

Richard went on Crusade from 1240-3 although he fought in no battles. On the way home, he met his soon to be second wife, Sanchia. She was one of four sisters - the others married Henry of England, Louis IX of France and Charles of Anjou. Soon after, the Pope offered to sell Richard the throne of Sicily. Matthew Paris says that he replied by saying "You might as well say 'I make you a present of the moon - step up to the sky and take it down'." His brother Henry had less sense, purchasing the right for his son which accomplished nothing except to strain the royal finances.

However, Richard was more tempted by the title of Emperor and bribed various Electors to acquire the crown. However, his title was challenged by Alfonso of Castile and neither could enforce their will on the Empire. Contemporary historians refer to Richard as King of the Germans and his son was known as Henry of Almain.

Richard had opposed Simon de Montfort at various points and joined the King when war broke out. He commanded a battle at Lewes but when things went badly he tried to take refuge in a windmill, coming out when the rebels threatened to set it aflame, calling "Come out you bad miller!" He remained in captivity until after Evesham.  See for a roughly contemporary windmill.

Richard's son, Henry of Almain, was later murdered by two of the de Montforts while journeying through Italy. This earned them a place in Dante's Inferno - I'll add more when I get around to posting pictures of the de Montforts.

A possible link between Richard of Cornwall's arms and those of Richard I is covered here - go to the section on 'tricky arms'. This may also explain the lion of the de Joinville/de Geneville arms (I've painted a couple of figures in variations of these arms).

Henry's ties with his Lusignan brothers were one of the causes of the Barons' War. The English nobility resented the foreigners gaining land and influence - though French was still their main language and many held French lands. The ultimate leader of the barons, Simon de Montfort, was of course of French birth himself.
Henry does seem to have favoured his half-brothers excessively - he made Aymer de Valence Bishop of Winchester despite him being decidely unqualified for the job.
Another brother was William de Valence who acquired the title of Earl of Pemboke in right of his wife. He fought at Lewes and fled into exile. He returned the following year, landing with various other Royalists and a sizeable force in William's Welsh territory. They seem to have been in communication with Gilbert de Clare and soon met up with him. He fought at Kenilworth and at Evesham. One of his postwar gains was the manor of Inkberrow which is just under ten miles from where I live.

The picture of my figures at the top of the page shows the arms of Richard and of William. The other armigerous figure bears the arms of Oddingseles. They held land at Solihull and the arms are still part of the badge of Solihull School.


Frank said...

Another well done post and beautiful figures. Well done!


Swampster said...


neldoreth said...

Great stuff, I love the historical narrative!


Swampster said...

Glad you like the historical stuff. I have a tendency to waffle on about things I find interesting :)