Tuesday, 21 July 2020

History Illustrations: Order of Banishment


Edward II was a weak king, who paid too much attention to his favourite companions, Hugh le Despenser the Younger and his father the Elder. Eventually the barons lost patience with him and rebelled. When the barons first rebelled against Edward, they won.


Led by Humphrey de Bohun of Hereford and Thomas, the earl of Lancaster, and despite the king forbidding assemblies, they met to discuss their options, and on 4th May 1321 they attacked the Despenser lands in the Marches. (Lancaster was the king's cousin, but alarmed at the politics at court.) Within nine days, Newport, Cardiff, and Gower fell, and the main Despenser holdings were devastated. The seneschal of Gower, John Iweyn, refused to join the rebels and was later found to have been working for the Despensers. This was no local revolt, but a full scale civil war, between the Marcher and northern lords, supported by many knights from the south west, against those loyal to the king in the south and east.
Hugh le Despenser the Younger
In August, having proved their strength, the king met with them in parliament where they brought a catalogue of charges against Hugh le Despenser and his father. They accused them of usurping royal power, refusing anyone access to the king unless they were present, replacing good officials with corrupt ones, and the murder of Llewellyn Bren, a Welsh leader, among other charges. The king was advised that he had no choice but to give in to their demands. The two Despensers were banished, and the barons were pardoned.

Hugh le Despenser the Elder went quietly off to exile in France, but the Younger took up piracy in the English Channel. It was said at the time that he was more trouble in exile than he was at court!



Ann Marie Thomas is the author of four medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, and book two Alien Secrets, are out now. Follow her at http://eepurl.com/bbOsyz

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