Hugh le Despenser, 1st Lord Despenser (c. 1286 – 24 November 1326), also referred to as "the younger Despenser", was the son and heir of Hugh le Despenser, Earl of Winchester (the elder Despenser) by his wife Isabella de Beauchamp, daughter of William de Beauchamp, 9th Earl of Warwick. He rose to national prominence as royal chamberlain and a favourite of Edward II of England. Despenser made many enemies across the nobility of England which, after the overthrow of Edward, eventually led to him being charged with high treason and ultimately hanged, drawn and quartered.
|Hugh le Despenser, 1st Lord Despenser|
Arms of Despencer: Quarterly 1st & 4th: Argent; 2nd & 3rd: Gules, a fret or, over all a bend sable
|Born||Hugh le Despenser|
|Died||24 November 1326 (aged 39–40)|
|Cause of death||Hanged, drawn and quartered for high treason|
|Resting place||Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire, England|
|Title||1st Lord Despenser|
|Known for||Being a favourite of Edward II|
|Predecessor||Hugh le Despenser, Earl of Winchester|
Eleanor de Clare (m. 1306)
|Parents||Hugh le Despenser, Earl of Winchester, and Isabella de Beauchamp|
|Occupation||Knight of Hanley Castle, Worcestershire, King's Chamberlain, and constable and keeper of various castles and lands in England and Wales|
Hugh le Despenser the Younger rose to become Chamberlain and a close advisor to King Edward II, much as Despenser the Elder had been. Despenser the Younger claimed the Lordship of Glamorgan in 1317 through his wife Eleanor de Clare. He then accumulated more lands in the Welsh Marches and in England. At various points he was a knight of Hanley Castle in Worcestershire, Constable of Odiham Castle, and the Keeper of Bristol Castle, Porchester Castle and Dryslwyn Castle plus their respective towns, and the region of Cantref Mawr in Carmarthenshire.
In May 1306 Despenser was knighted at the Feast of the Swans alongside Prince Edward, and in that summer he married Eleanor de Clare, daughter of powerful noble Gilbert de Clare, and Joan of Acre. Eleanor's grandfather, Edward I, had owed the elder Despenser 2,000 marks, a debt which the marriage settled. When Eleanor's brother, Gilbert, was killed in 1314 at the Battle of Bannockburn, she unexpectedly became one of the three co-heiresses to the rich Gloucester earldom, and in her right, Hugh inherited Glamorgan and other properties. In just a few years Hugh went from a landless knight to one of the wealthiest magnates in the kingdom.
Eleanor was also the niece of the new king, Edward II of England, and this connection brought Despenser closer to the English royal court. He joined the baronial opposition to Piers Gaveston, the king's favourite (and Despenser's brother-in-law, through Gaveston's marriage to Eleanor's sister Margaret). Eager for power and wealth, Despenser seized Tonbridge Castle in 1315, after his brother-in-law's death under the misapprehension that it belonged to his mother-in-law; he relinquished it on discovering that the rightful owner was in fact the Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1318 he murdered Llywelyn Bren, a Welsh hostage in his custody.
Eleanor and Hugh had nine children who survived infancy:
Despenser became royal chamberlain in 1318. As a royal courtier, Despenser manoeuvred into the affections of King Edward, displacing the previous favourite, Roger d'Amory. This came much to the dismay of the baronage as they saw him both taking their rightful places at court at best, and at worst being the new, worse Gaveston. By 1320 his greed was running free. He also supposedly vowed to be revenged on Roger Mortimer, because Mortimer's grandfather had killed his own. By 1321 he had earned many enemies in every stratum of society, from Queen Isabella in France, to the barons, to the common people. There was even a plot to kill Despenser by sticking his wax likeness with pins.
Finally the barons took action upon King Edward and, at the beseeching of Queen Isabella, forced Despenser and his father into exile in August 1321. However, Edward's intent to summon them back to England was no secret. The king rallied support after an attack against Isabella's party at Leeds Castle, an event possibly deliberately orchestrated. Early in the following year, with Mortimer's barons busy putting down uprisings in their lands, the Despensers were able to return. Edward, now with the Despensers backing him once more, was able to crush the rebellion, securing first Mortimer's surrender, then that of Lancaster who was subsequently executed.
King Edward quickly reinstated Despenser as royal favourite. The time from the Despensers' return from exile until the end of Edward II's reign was a time of uncertainty in England. With the main baronial opposition leaderless and weak, having been defeated at the Battle of Boroughbridge, and Edward willing to let them do as they pleased, the Despensers were left unchecked. This maladministration caused hostile feeling for them and, by extension, Edward II. Ultimately, a year after his surrender and imprisonment, Mortimer escaped to France, where he began amassing a new rebellion.
Like his father, the younger Despenser was accused of widespread criminality. Amongst other examples, Despenser seized the Welsh lands of his wife's inheritance while ignoring the claims of his two brothers-in-law. He further cheated his sister-in-law Elizabeth de Clare out of Gower and Usk, and forced Alice de Lacy, 4th Countess of Lincoln, to give up her lands to him. He had murdered Llywelyn Bren in 1318 while the Welshman was being held hostage, and during his exile he spent a period of time as a pirate in the English Channel, "a sea monster, lying in wait for merchants as they crossed the sea". In addition he imprisoned Sir William Cokerell in the Tower of London and extorted money from him.
The 14th century court historian Froissart wrote that "he was a sodomite", and Adam Orleton, the Bishop of Winchester, also levelled the accusation at him (though Orleton's accusation came when he was defending himself from having claimed the same of King Edward). According to Froissart, Despenser's penis was severed and burned at his execution as a punishment for his sodomy and heresy. In 1326, as Isabella and Mortimer invaded, Orleton gave a sermon in which he publicly denounced Edward, who had fled with Despenser, as a sodomite. The annals of Newenham Abbey recording, ‘the king and his husband’ fled to Wales. 
Queen Isabella had a special dislike for Despenser. Alison Weir, in her 2005 book Queen Isabella: Treachery, Adultery, and Murder in Medieval England, speculates that he had raped Isabella and that was the source of her hatred. While Isabella was in France to negotiate between her husband and the French king, she formed a liaison with Roger Mortimer and began planning an invasion of England, which ultimately came to fruition in October 1326. Their forces numbered only about 1,500 mercenaries to begin with, but the majority of the nobility rallied to them throughout October and November, preferring to stand with them rather than Edward and the hated Despensers.
The Despensers fled west with the King, with a sizeable sum from the treasury, however the escape was unsuccessful. Separated from the elder Despenser, the King and the younger Despenser were deserted by most of their followers, and were captured near Neath in mid-November. King Edward was placed in captivity and later forced to abdicate in favour of his son Edward III. The elder Despenser was hanged at Bristol on 27 October 1326, and the younger Despenser was brought to trial.
Despenser tried to starve himself before his trial, but he was unsuccessful. He did face trial on 24 November 1326, in Hereford, before Mortimer and the Queen, and was found guilty on many charges. He was sentenced to death, with Isabella, Mortimer and their followers presiding over the protracted execution.
Despenser was dragged naked through the streets, for the crowd's mistreatment. He was made a spectacle, which included writing on his body biblical verses against the capital sins he was accused of. Then he was hanged as a mere commoner, yet released before full asphyxiation could happen.
In Froissart's account of his execution, Despenser was then tied firmly to a ladder and his genitals sliced off and burned while he was still conscious. His entrails were slowly pulled out; finally, his heart was cut out and thrown into a fire. Froissart (or rather Jean le Bel's chronicle, on which he relied) is the only source to mention castration; other contemporary accounts have Despenser hanged, drawn and quartered, which usually did not involve castration.
Despenser's body was beheaded, and cut into four pieces. His head was mounted on the gates of London.
Four years later, in December 1330, his widow was given permission to gather and bury Depenser's remains at the family's Gloucestershire estate, but only the head, a thigh bone and a few vertebrae were returned to her.
What may be the body of Despenser was identified in February 2008 in the village of Abbey Hulton in Staffordshire, the former site of Hulton Abbey. The skeleton, which was first uncovered during archaeological work in the 1970s, appeared to be that of a victim of a drawing and quartering as it had been beheaded and chopped into several pieces with a sharp blade, suggesting a ritual killing. Furthermore, it lacked several body parts, including the ones given to Despenser's wife. Radiocarbon analysis dated the body to between 1050 and 1385, and later tests suggested it to be that of a man over 34 years old. Despenser was 40 at the time of his death. In addition, the Abbey is located on lands that belonged to Hugh Audley, Despenser's brother-in-law, at the time.
No book-length biographical study of Hugh le Despenser exists, although The Tyranny and Fall of Edward II: 1321–1326 by historian Natalie Fryde is a study of Edward's reign during the years that the Despensers' power was at its peak. Fryde pays particular attention to the subject of the Despensers' ill-gotten landholdings. The numerous accusations against the younger Despenser at the time of his execution have never been the subject of close critical scrutiny, although Roy Martin Haines called them "ingenuous" and noted their propagandistic nature.
Despite the crucial and disastrous role he played in the reign of Edward II, Despenser is almost a minor character in Christopher Marlowe's play Edward II (1592), where, as "Spencer", he is little more than a substitute for the dead Gaveston. In 2006, he was selected by BBC History Magazine as the 14th century's worst Briton.
Edward II of England and Hugh Despenser the elder extorted the lands of Alice de Lacy, 4th Countess of Lincoln, and to make the transfers of title appear legitimate, declared Hugh the younger her "kinsman".
|Ancestors of Hugh Despenser the Younger|
This article is about the particular significance of the century 1301 - 1400 to Wales and its people.Andy Gillet
Andy Gillet (born 8 July 1981 in Saint Denis, Réunion) is a French fashion model and actor.
Gillet grew up in Megève in Haute Savoie, the son of a policeman and a secretary, he has a younger brother.
After studies at a school of commerce, he turned to modelling (he currently makes the publicity for the perfume Kenzo Power by Kenzo Takada), while taking acting lessons.
He first appeared in theatre in the title role of Caligula, in a celebrated staging by Charles Berling. He made his television debut in 2005, in the role of Hugh Despenser the Younger in the remake miniseries Les Rois maudits, based on the French novel series of the same name by Maurice Druon. He also appeared in series such as Éternelle and Un village français.
His debut in cinema came in 2006, with Nouvelle chance by Anne Fontaine and L'homme de sa vie by Zabou Breitman. The following year, he appeared in acclaimed director Eric Rohmer's final film, Les Amours d'Astrée et de Céladon. Other films include, Vieillesse ennemie (2008), Antique (2008), and La dérive (2009), in the latter he also worked as an assistant director.Cultural depictions of Isabella of France
Isabella of France (1295 – 22 August 1358) was Queen of England and the daughter of Philip IV of France. Sometimes called the "She-Wolf of France", she was a key figure in the rebellion which deposed her husband, Edward II of England, in favor of their eldest son Edward III. This event, as well as Isabella's affair with Roger Mortimer and Edward II's relationships with Piers Gaveston and Hugh Despenser the Younger, have prompted Isabella's portrayal multiple times in literature and visual media.Despenser War
The Despenser War (1321–22) was a baronial revolt against Edward II of England led by the Marcher Lords Roger Mortimer and Humphrey de Bohun. The rebellion was fuelled by opposition to Hugh Despenser the Younger, the royal favourite. After the rebels' summer campaign of 1321, Edward was able to take advantage of a temporary peace to rally more support and a successful winter campaign in southern Wales, culminating in royal victory at the battle of Boroughbridge in the north of England in March 1322. Edward's response to victory was his increasingly harsh rule until his fall from power in 1326.Doctrine of capacities
The doctrine of capacities is a concept in the political theory of medieval England, making a distinction between the person of the King and the institution of the Crown. The roots of this political theory can be traced back to the years shortly after the Norman Conquest. Here the distinction was made between the ecclesiastics in their temporal and spiritual capacities. When William the Conqueror brought a case against his brother Odo of Bayeux, Odo defended himself by claiming that as a bishop he could not be prosecuted by lay authorities. William replied that he was not being prosecuted in his capacity as bishop, but in his temporal capacity as Earl of Kent. In the reign of Edward I, the principle was applied to the chancellor, to distinguish between his official capacities. Even more significantly, Edward I himself tied the doctrine to the institution of the monarchy, when he tried to revoke a grant he had made as prince after he became king, claiming that he was to be considered a different person then.In April 1308, in a document presented in parliament, certain barons used the doctrine of capacities to justify opposition against King Edward II. The specific case revolved around King Edward's favourite Piers Gaveston, whom the opposition wanted exiled. This Declaration of 1308 argued that it was the subjects' duty to protect the dignity of the Crown, even if that meant opposition to the King – an act that would normally signify treason. In 1321, however, the opposition against Edward II took the opposite position when they accused Hugh Despenser the Younger of his participation in the Declaration of 1308. By this accusation the doctrine was largely discredited, and rarely used again in the medieval period.Edmund FitzAlan, 9th Earl of Arundel
Edmund FitzAlan, 9th Earl of Arundel (1 May 1285 – 17 November 1326) was an English nobleman prominent in the conflict between Edward II and his barons. His father, Richard FitzAlan, 8th Earl of Arundel, died on 9 March 1301, while Edmund was still a minor. He therefore became a ward of John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, and married Warenne's granddaughter Alice. In 1306 he was styled Earl of Arundel, and served under Edward I in the Scottish Wars, for which he was richly rewarded.
After Edward I's death, Arundel became part of the opposition to the new king Edward II, and his favourite Piers Gaveston. In 1311 he was one of the so-called Lords Ordainers who assumed control of government from the king. Together with Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, he was responsible for the death of Gaveston in 1312. From this point on, however, his relationship to the king became more friendly. This was to a large extent due to his association with the king's new favourite Hugh Despenser the Younger, whose daughter was married to Arundel's son. Arundel supported the king in suppressing rebellions by Roger Mortimer and other Marcher Lords, and eventually also Thomas of Lancaster. For this he was awarded with land and offices.
His fortune changed, however, when the country was invaded in 1326 by Mortimer, who had made common cause with the king's wife, Queen Isabella. Immediately after the capture of Edward II, the queen, Edward III's regent, ordered Arundel executed, his title forfeit and his property confiscated. Arundel's son and heir Richard only recovered the title and lands in 1331, after Edward III had taken power from the regency of Isabella and Mortimer. In the 1390s, a cult emerged around the late earl. He was venerated as a martyr, though he was never canonised.Eleanor de Clare
Eleanor de Clare, suo jure 6th Lady of Glamorgan (3 October 1292-30 June 1337) was a powerful English noblewoman who married Hugh Despenser the Younger and was a granddaughter of Edward I of England. With her sisters, Elizabeth de Clare and Margaret de Clare, she inherited her father's estates after the death of her brother, Gilbert de Clare, 8th Earl of Gloucester, 7th Earl of Hereford at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. She was born in 1292 at Caerphilly Castle in Glamorgan, Wales and was the eldest daughter of Gilbert de Clare, 6th Earl of Hertford, 7th Earl of Gloucester, 5th Lord of Glamorgan and Princess Joan of Acre.Hugh le Despencer, Baron le Despencer (1338)
Hugh le Despencer, 2nd Baron le Despencer (1308–1349), Lord of Glamorgan, was the eldest son and heir of Hugh Despenser the Younger and grandson of Hugh le Despenser, 1st Earl of Winchester. His father and grandfather were both executed in 1326. His mother was Eleanor de Clare, suo jure Lord of Glamorgan, daughter of Gilbert de Clare, 6th Earl of Hertford and Joan of Acre. Through his mother, Hugh was a great grandson of King Edward I. He married Elizabeth Montague (d.1359), and both are buried in Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire, which abbey was founded by Robert Fitzhamon (d.1107), the first Norman feudal baron of Gloucester and Lord of Glamorgan.Hugh le Despenser
Hugh le Despenser may refer to:
Hugh le Despenser (sheriff) (died 1238)
Hugh le Despencer, 1st Baron le Despencer (1223–1265), son of the above
Hugh le Despenser, 1st Earl of Winchester (1262–1326), son of the above
Hugh Despenser the Younger (1286–1326), son of the above
Hugh le Despencer, Baron le Despencer (1338) (1308–1349), son of the aboveHugh le Despenser, 1st Earl of Winchester
Hugh le Despenser (1 March 1261 – 27 October 1326), sometimes referred to as "the Elder Despenser," was for a time the chief adviser to King Edward II of England.Hulton Abbey
Hulton Abbey is a scheduled monument in the United Kingdom, a former monastery located in what is now Abbey Hulton, a suburb of Stoke-on-Trent. A daughter house of the Cistercian Combermere Abbey, the abbey was founded by Henry de Audley in the early 13th century. Throughout its life, the abbey was relatively small and poor, with one of the lowest incomes of all Staffordshire religious houses. The abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1538, with its land and assets being sold.
Little remains of the abbey today, but continued excavations have revealed the foundations of a number of the principal claustral buildings, as well as human burials. In 1963, Hulton Abbey was designated a scheduled monument, under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979, however due to its poor condition it is considered Heritage at Risk. The site is now owned and managed by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.Invasion of England (1326)
The invasion of England in 1326 by the country's queen, Isabella of France, and her lover, Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March, led to the capture of Hugh Despenser the Younger and the abdication of Isabella's husband, Edward II. It brought an end to the insurrection and civil war.Isabel le Despenser, Countess of Arundel
Isabel le Despenser (1312–1356) was the eldest daughter of Hugh Despenser the Younger and Eleanor de Clare. She was descended from Edward I of England through her mother, while her father is famous for being the favorite of Edward II of England.Isabella of France
Isabella of France (1295 – 22 August 1358), sometimes described as the She-Wolf of France, was Queen of England as the wife of Edward II, and regent of England from 1326 until 1330. She was the youngest surviving child and only surviving daughter of Philip IV of France and Joan I of Navarre. Queen Isabella was notable at the time for her beauty, diplomatic skills, and intelligence.
Isabella arrived in England at the age of 12 during a period of growing conflict between the king and the powerful baronial factions. Her new husband was notorious for the patronage he lavished on his favourite, Piers Gaveston, but the queen supported Edward during these early years, forming a working relationship with Piers and using her relationship with the French monarchy to bolster her own authority and power. After the death of Gaveston at the hands of the barons in 1312, however, Edward later turned to a new favourite, Hugh Despenser the Younger, and attempted to take revenge on the barons, resulting in the Despenser War and a period of internal repression across England. Isabella could not tolerate Hugh Despenser and by 1325 her marriage to Edward was at a breaking point.
Travelling to France under the guise of a diplomatic mission, Isabella began an affair with Roger Mortimer, and the two agreed to depose Edward and oust the Despenser family. The Queen returned to England with a small mercenary army in 1326, moving rapidly across England. The King's forces deserted him. Isabella deposed Edward, becoming regent on behalf of her son, Edward III. Many have believed that Isabella then arranged the murder of Edward II. Isabella and Mortimer's regime began to crumble, partly because of her lavish spending, but also because the Queen successfully, but unpopularly, resolved long-running problems such as the wars with Scotland.
In 1330, Isabella's son Edward III deposed Mortimer in turn, taking back his authority and executing Isabella's lover. The Queen was not punished, however, and lived for many years in considerable style—although not at Edward III's court, though she often visited to dote on her grandchildren and was marginally involved in peace talks—until her death in 1358. Isabella became a popular "femme fatale" figure in plays and literature over the years, usually portrayed as a beautiful but cruel, manipulative figure.James Conway Davies
James Conway Davies (1891–1971) was a Welsh historian and palaeographer. Born in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, he was educated at the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth and Cardiff, and Emmanuel College, Cambridge. While at Cambridge, he was Secretary of Cambridge University Liberal Club from 1915–16, and as the society wound down in 1916 for the remainder of World War I, he held on to the society's minutes and papers for the preceding 19 years. He was a lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London between 1916 and 1918, and briefly also taught at Aberystwyth during the same period. In 1917 he got a position as sixth form master and Head of Department of Civics at the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle. For a period Davies worked in government administration, as Secretary of the Government Hospitality Fund and other departments, from 1918 to 1929. He was also an editor at the Public Record Office, before being appointed Consultant Archivist at the Monmouthshire County Council, where he established the Monmouthshire County Record Office. During World War II, from 1941 to 1945, he was an archivist at the National Library of Wales. After the war he taught palaeography and diplomatic at Cambridge. He also held honorary positions, such as honorary editor of the Historical Society of the Church in Wales, and honorary consulting archivist to the Church in Wales.Davies is today best known for his work on late medieval English administrative history, particularly the reign of Edward II. In his 1918 book The Baronial Opposition to Edward II: Its Character and Policy, a Study in Administrative History, he argues that the administration of Edward II, though politically a failure, saw several important innovations in the field of royal administration, particularly through the influence of the king's favourite Hugh Despenser the Younger, and his father Hugh Despenser the elder. The book came out shortly after Thomas Frederick Tout's The Place of the Reign of Edward II in English History (1914), which covered much of the same area. Davies also edited several works with medieval documents, much of this relating to Wales.John of Nottingham
John of Nottingham was a famous 14th century magician, said to have plotted to kill Edward II of England and Hugh Despenser the Younger in 1324 through witchcraft.Maurice de Berkeley, 4th Baron Berkeley
Maurice de Berkeley, 4th Baron Berkeley (c. 1330 – 8 June 1368), The Valiant, feudal baron of Berkeley, of Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, was an English peer. His epithet, and that of each previous and subsequent head of his family, was coined by John Smyth of Nibley (died 1641), steward of the Berkeley estates, the biographer of the family and author of "Lives of the Berkeleys".
He was born in Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, the eldest son and heir of Thomas de Berkeley, 3rd Baron Berkeley by his wife Lady Margaret Mortimer.
In August 1338 Berkeley married Elizabeth le Despenser, daughter of Hugh Despenser the younger by his wife Eleanor de Clare. By Elizabeth he had seven children as follows:
Thomas de Berkeley, 5th Baron Berkeley (1352/3-1417), eldest son and heir, who married Margaret de Lisle, Baroness Lisle
Sir James de Berkeley (born c. 1355 – 13 June 1405) married Elizabeth Bluet; one of their sons was James Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley
John de Berkeley (c. 1357 – 1381)
Maurice de Berkeley (born c. 1358) married Jone Hereford
Catherine de Berkeley (born c. 1360)
Agnes de Berkeley (born c. 1363)
Elizabeth de Berkeley (born c. 1365)Philip Despencer
Sir Philip Le Despencer, Knt., of Goxhill, Lincolnshire was the son of Hugh Le Despencer, 1st Earl of Winchester and his wife, Lady Isabella Beauchamp, daughter of William de Beauchamp, 9th Earl of Warwick and Maud FitzJohn. He was born ca. 1290 in Stoke, Gloucester, England. He married Margaret de Goushill, daughter of Ralph De Gousille and his wife Hawise Fitzwarine. Philip was brother to Hugh Despenser, the Younger, a favorite of King Edward II.
According to Douglas Richardson's Magna Carta Ancestry, Philip and Margaret were parents to Sir Philip le Despenser of Goxhill, Lincolnshire (6 Apr 1313-Aug 1349) who married Hon. Joan de Cobham, daughter of John, 2nd Baron Cobham of Kent.They were parents to:
Sir Philip le Despencer (6 Apr 1313-Aug 1349) who was father to:
Philip le Despencer, 1st Baron le Despencer (18 Oct 1342-4 Aug 1401)
Hawise Le Despenser (c.1345-10 April 1414), was the 2nd wife of Sir Andrew Luttrell, Lord Luttrell of Irnham by whom she had issue.William Cusance
William Cusance (died c. 5 May 1360) was an English administrator who served as treasurer from 1341 to 1344.
Of a Burgundian family, he made his career in the court of Edward II through the patronage of Hugh Despenser the younger. He served in 1320 as keeper of the great wardrobe but did not, however, suffer from the downfall of the Despensers and Edward II in 1327, as by this time he was associated with the household of prince Edward, the soon-to-be Edward III. He also spent some time around 1332 as keeper of the wardrobe of the king's brother, the earl of Cornwall. Before his appointment as treasurer in 1341, he served briefly in 1349–1350 as keeper of the king's household wardrobe.
A later appointment as archdeacon of Cornwall was challenged by a papal nominee, and Cusance was drawn into a lengthy legal battle.