Edmund Crouchback, 1st Earl of Lancaster

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Edmund Crouchback. Illumination from the 13th century

Edmund "Crouchback", 1st Earl of Lancaster (also 1st Earl of Leicester ) (born January 16, 1245 in Westminster , † June 5, 1296 in Bayonne ) was an English prince and magnate . He was a loyal supporter of his father, King Henry III. and his brother King Edward I , whom he served as a military and diplomat.

His surname Crouchback was in the 14th century by chroniclers as Adam of Usk and John Hardyng misinterpreted as an indication of a serious back problem, Edmund but named probably because of his participation in the Ninth Crusade , during which he as a crusader a tabard with a cross carried on his back and so called crossed back or crouchback .

Birth and childhood

Edmund was the second son of the English King Henry III. and his wife Eleanor of Provence . Few medieval births have been as well documented as that of Edmund, who is believed to have been born in the Palace of Westminster . In order to pray for a healthy birth, the king donated 1000 candles each at the shrine of Thomas Becket and in the Abbey of St. Augustine in Canterbury. The king was so delighted with the birth of his second son that he donated a decorated chasuble for the high altar of Westminster Abbey , and he wrote a joyful letter to the Abbot of Bury St Edmunds , who suggested that his son be brought to his monastery to name buried Anglo-Saxon martyr king Edmund . The king gladly accepted this proposal, as Saint Edmund was one of his favorite saints.

Little is known about Edmund's childhood. From October 1246 at the latest, he grew up with his older siblings in Windsor Castle , where the royal children were raised appropriately by Aymon Thurbert , the castle's constable . By 1255, at the latest from 1256, Edmund had his own household, which Thurbert was in charge of.

The birth of Edmund Crouchback. Illustration in the 13th century Chronicle by Matthew Paris

The Sicilian Adventure

In May 1254, his mother had taken Edmund and the heir to the throne Eduard with her to Gascon , where her father had already traveled in 1253 to suppress an uprising. In southwest France, Henry III. decided to make his second son King of Sicily with the support of the Pope . On March 6, 1254, the papal nuncio in England, Alberto di Parma , officially offered Edmund to become King of Sicily, which Pope Innocent IV confirmed on May 14. On May 25th, Heinrich III. the making of a seal for Edmund as King of Sicily. For a swift campaign to Sicily to conquer the empire ruled by the Hohenstaufen, the English king had neither the military nor the financial means. The successor to Innocent IV, Pope Alexander IV , therefore asked Henry III in 1255. the enormous sum of over 135,000 marks as reimbursement for his expenses so far in the fight against the Hohenstaufen. Despite the almost impossible task of conquering Sicily from England and despite his own tight financial situation, Henry III voted. the conditions of the Pope, so that the papal nuncio Giacomo Boncambi installed Edmund on October 18, 1255 as King of Sicily. Ultimately, the implementation of this daring project failed completely. The Sicilian adventure met with unanimous rejection in England. Also as Heinrich III. In the spring of 1257 Edmund had Edmund presented to Parliament in Apulian costume, he was unable to convince either the magnates or the clergy of the plan. Ultimately, the attempts of the king to get a tax approved by parliament to finance the Sicilian adventure led to the rebellion of the barons and the Provisions of Oxford in 1258, after which the king's power was severely restricted. The barons who had taken power sought to cancel the agreement between the king and the pope, whereupon Pope Alexander IV suspended the agreement on December 12, 1258, as long as the requested funds were not paid to him. King Henry III Admittedly continued to hold on to the Sicilian adventure, and the young Edmund also seemed to continue to believe in its realization, but the political unrest let the project ultimately fail. Pope Urban IV finally revoked Edmund's elevation to king and released him and his father on July 28, 1263 from fulfilling the agreement with the Pope.

The Second War of the Barons

During the troubled times that followed the rebellion of large parts of the nobility in 1258, Edmund accompanied his father to France in November 1259, where he concluded the Treaty of Paris with the French king . Heinrich did not return to England with Edmund until April 1260. In July 1262 Edmund accompanied his father to France again, where they both fell ill with an epidemic. Edmund was only able to return to England after his recovery in September, while his father remained in France, still weakened. Henry III. had made him honorary commander of the royal troops in England. Edmund was supposed to repel the attacks of the Welsh prince Llywelyn ap Gruffydd on the Welsh Marches, as well as not to allow parliaments in the king's absence. It was not until January 1263 that Heinrich returned to Westminster. In view of the looming civil war, the king appointed Edmund in June 1263 as commandant of Dover Castle , which he had to reluctantly vacate after his father gave in to the demands of the aristocratic opposition in July. Shortly afterwards he traveled with his mother to France, where he helped her try to work for Henry III. Recruit mercenary troops. In doing so, he avoided the open fighting of the Second War of the Barons and only returned to England after the victory of the royal party in August 1265. In the summer of 1266, he commanded a royal force in Warwick , with which he was supposed to prevent raids by the remaining rebels, the so-called disinherited ones . Subsequently, during the lengthy siege of the disinherited at Kenilworth Castle, he was in command of one of the four battalions that besieged the castle. Shortly after the surrender of the castle in December 1266, the king handed over the management of the castle to him. In February 1267 Edmund was sent to Wales with Robert Walerand , where he began peace negotiations with Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, which eventually led to the Treaty of Montgomery in September 1267 .

Edmund's coat of arms

Creation of the later Duchy of Lancaster

Edmund gained its greatest historical importance through the creation of a huge estate that became the core of what would later become the Duchy of Lancaster . The king laid the foundation for this on October 26, 1265 when he handed over the Borough and Honor of Leicester to his son , which had previously belonged to the slain rebel leader Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester . In January 1267 Edmund was raised to the Earl of Leicester . On June 28, 1266, he received the castles and lands of Robert de Ferrers, who was also expropriated as a rebel , 6th Earl of Derby , and on July 12, he received the Honor of Derby . According to the terms of the Dictum of Kenilworth of 1266, Robert de Ferrers later tried to withhold these possessions, but Edmund, thanks to the legally dubious support of his brother Eduard, was able to dismiss Ferrers' claims in 1269, which he was unable to enforce through lawsuits in 1270 and 1274 . After the king's victory in the War of the Barons, King Edmund gave numerous other lands from 1265, including Builth Castle in Wales , the Kidwelly lordship , Cardiganshire and Carmarthenshire , which Edmund exchanged for other areas in November 1279. The most important donation received Edmund on June 30, 1267, when he received Lancaster Castle and the City and Honor of Lancaster and all royal possessions in Lancashire , making him Earl of Lancaster . He also received the Welsh castles of Grosmont , Skenfrith , White Castle and Monmouth , as well as other possessions such as Newcastle-under-Lyme and Pickering Castle including the Honor of Pickering . Nevertheless, Edmund did not officially hold the title of Earl of Lancaster until December 1276. In addition, his brother, as the new Earl of Leicester on May 9, 1269, gave him the post of Lord High Steward for life . As a thank you for his father's support against the aristocratic opposition, Edmund had a huge property. On April 8 or 9, 1269, he married in Westminster Abbey Aveline de Forz , the heir of Baron William de Forz . This wedding was the first wedding of a member of the royal family in the newly built abbey church. Through this marriage Edmund hoped to receive the holderness reign in Yorkshire, the Isle of Wight and the title of Earl of Devon . However, Aveline died childless on November 11, 1274, so that Edmund lost the claim to these areas again. Nevertheless, he owned 1296 possessions in 25 counties in England and Wales, mainly in Derbyshire, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, Northamptonshire and South Wales. His possessions included 14 castles and over 263 knight's fees . From his estates he drew an annual income of about £ 4,500, making him one of the richest and most powerful English magnates. From his uncle Peter of Savoy he bought his palace near London, the Savoy Palace .

Crusade to the Holy Land

After the final end of the Barons' War, Edmund turned to a crusade to the Holy Land . His father had made a crusade vow in 1250 that he could not fulfill. In 1268 Pope Clement IV allowed the papal legate Ottobono to provide Edmund with an appropriate part of the funds already collected for his father's crusade, if he were to undertake the crusade on behalf of his father. This plan was quickly thrown out when the heir apparent, Eduard, planned to embark on his own crusade . Together with numerous other nobles, the two brothers swore the crusade oath in June 1268 during Parliament in Northampton . Edmund agreed to support his brother's crusade with 100 knights, for which his brother paid him 10,000 marks and also paid the cost of the crossing.

Edmund was carefully preparing his crusade. He appointed his mother, Queen Eleonore, to be the administrator of his estates, to whom he gave far-reaching powers. In February or March 1271 he left England for the Holy Land, which he reached in August 1271. Although he had tried to carry as much cash as possible with him, it was insufficient, so he had to borrow money from moneylenders in Acre while his mother tried to raise funds for him in England. Little is known about his short stay in the Holy Land, except that he earned him the nickname Crouchback before he started his return journey in May 1272. Until his death, it was expected that he would go on another crusade. His brother Eduard, who had become king in 1272 after the death of his father, sent an embassy to the Pope in December 1276, which should also negotiate a new crusade under Edmund's leadership. Further negotiations took place over the next few years, but without any concrete results. In the summer, King Eduard, and subsequently Edmund, made another vow of crusade, which both brothers failed to fulfill.

Military service in Wales

Edmund had a close relationship with his brother Eduard, and the two brothers rarely quarreled. Edmund remained a loyal supporter of his brother, both when he was heir to the throne and later king. Some well-known serious dispute arose in 1274 when Edmund did not take part in Eduard's coronation on August 19th. The reason for this was probably Eduard's refusal to allow Edmund to wear the state sword, the Curtana , during his coronation as High Steward of England . This dispute was quickly settled and Edmund renounced the office of high steward for himself and his heirs, whereupon Eduard granted him again in February 1275. In 1275 a new dispute arose over the distribution of the funds approved by her father and the Pope for the crusade, but this too was quickly settled. Later conflicts did not have a major impact on the relationship between the two brothers.

It is therefore hardly surprising that Edmund played an important role in the Wars of the Conquest of Wales, especially since he himself, as one of the most important Marcher Lords, had strong interests of his own in Wales. After the rapid deterioration in relations between King Edward and the Welsh Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffydd , Edward ordered his brother on December 12, 1276 to Worcester, which became the central assembly point of the English armies. During the first campaign against Wales in 1277 , Edmund commanded the army, which advanced from his lordship of Carmarthenshire to North Wales and reached Llanbadarn on July 25th . There Edmund ordered the construction of a new castle, later Aberystwyth Castle . He left the construction site under the supervision of Roger de Moels before returning to England on September 20 and disbanding his field army. During the Second War for the Conquest of Wales from 1282 to 1283 he again commanded an English army in South Wales. At the end of September 1283 he took part in Parliament in Shrewsbury , where the cruel execution of the Welsh rebel leader Dafydd ap Gruffydd was decided. Edmund served one last time from November 1294 to May 1295 during the Welsh Revolt in Wales.

Second marriage and possessions in France

After the death of his first wife Aveline de Forz in 1274, Edmund married the French noblewoman Blanche d'Artois , daughter of Count Robert I of Artois and widow of King Henry I, between December 18, 1275 and January 18, 1276 . of Navarre . As the husband of Blanche, he was administrator of the county of Champagne , a large French fiefdom, for eight years until his stepdaughter Johanna , the heiress of the county, married the French king Philip IV in 1284 . Edmund made several trips to Champagne between 1276 and 1282, and at least once, in 1276, visited Navarre . Nevertheless, he intervened relatively little in the administration of Champagne. His best-known action was the suppression of a revolt by the citizens of Provins , who protested against oppressive taxes and levies in January 1280. Edmund was allowed to bear the courtesy title Count of Champagne and Brie until King Philip IV bought his rights from him for a handsome sum after his marriage to Johanna. Nevertheless, Edmund remained master of Beaufort , Nogent-sur-Marne and other estates in the Île-de-France through his wife .

Diplomat in France

Edmund was a valuable military aid to his brother, but perhaps even more important was Edmund's service as mediator and diplomat in the difficult relationship between the English and French kings that was often strained in the last decades of the 13th century. Edmund was not only a brother of the English king, but also a cousin of the French kings Philip III , both through his origins and through his second marriage to Blanche d'Artois . and Philip IV. Through his frequent trips to France and through his connections to the French royal court, he was able to support his brother Eduard diplomatically. In 1279 he was in negotiations with Philip III. involved in Edward's claims to the Agenais and the Quercy as well as his mother Eleonore's inheritance claims to the French county of Ponthieu . After Eleonore's death, Edmund became governor of Ponthieu in 1291 as the representative of the minor heir Edward, who later became King Edward II . Edmund's most important diplomatic contribution was his part in negotiations during the Franco-English War from 1294 . At the beginning of 1294, Eduard sent his brother to Philip IV to settle the dispute over jurisdiction in Aquitaine and the dispute there between seafarers from Gascogne, which belongs to England, and seamen from French Normandy . Eduard wanted to prevent a war with France, so Edmund gave in to the French demands in February during the negotiations. The agreed armistice, however, did not last long, either because Edmund had been careless and perhaps also naive towards the French, or because the French King Philip IV had negotiated dishonestly and was under the influence of a strong anti-English faction at the French royal court. In May 1294 the French occupied Aquitaine, whereupon Edmund revoked his homage to Philip and traveled back to England with his wife Blanche.

War with France, death and succession

Despite this diplomatic failure, Eduard relied on his brother from the beginning of the war. On June 1, 1294, he informed his vassals in Gascony that Edmund would return to Gascony with troops to recapture the area. However, the outbreak of the Welsh rebellion prevented Edmund's campaign, who subsequently fell ill. It was not until January 1296 that Edmund set out for south-west France together with Henry de Lacy, 3rd Earl of Lincoln at the head of a stately army. Edmund reached the cities of Bourg and Blaye at the mouth of the Gironde , which were still held by English troops . From there, at the end of March, he advanced against Bordeaux , which was occupied by French troops , but was unable to recapture the city due to the strong city fortifications. He withdrew to Bayonne in front of a strong French relief army . At Pentecost 1296 he fell ill and died in Bayonne.

Edmund had stated that he would not be buried until his debts have been paid. That is why his body was embalmed by Franciscans in Bayonne and only brought back to England after six months in 1297. There he was kept in the Franciscan Convent of London before Edward I had him solemnly buried in Westminster Abbey on March 24, 1301 . His magnificent grave monument is still there.

Descendants and inheritance

Edmund's marriage to Avelina de Forz had been childless. Edmund had four children with his second wife Blanche d'Artois, including three sons and one daughter:

His heir became his eldest son Thomas, who through this inheritance and his marriage became the most powerful magnate in England and ultimately a bitter opponent of his cousin King Edward II . His third son John inherited his mother Blanche's lands in France.

Despite his enormous wealth, Edmund was not an exceptional patron of the Church, save for his expenses on the Crusade. Presumably because of his imminent crusade, he had bequeathed an estate in Bere Regis in Dorset to the convent of Tarrant in 1270 . In addition to smaller foundations, he was above all a patron, perhaps also the founder of the Franciscan Priory of Preston in Lancashire and the Dominican Settlement in Leicester. To this end, he supported his second wife Blanche, who in 1293 founded a Clarisse branch outside Aldgate in London. In 1278 he donated the right of patronage to Embledon at Merton College , Oxford .

Web links

Commons : Edmund Crouchback  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Isabel Alfonso, Hugh Kennedy, Julio Escalona: Building Legitimacy. Political Discourses and Forms of Legitimation in Medieval Societies. Brill, Leiden 2004. ISBN 90-04-13305-4 , p. 94.
  2. Westminster Abbey: Edmund, Earl of Lancaster and Aveline de Forz. Archived from the original on September 19, 2017 ; Retrieved April 12, 2016 .
  3. Michael Prestwich: Edward I. University of California, Berkeley 1988, ISBN 0-520-06266-3 , p. 91
  4. Westminster Abbey: Edmund, Earl of Lancaster and Aveline de Forz. Archived from the original on September 19, 2017 ; Retrieved April 12, 2016 .
  5. Westminster Abbey: Edmund, Earl of Lancaster and Aveline de Forz. Archived from the original on September 19, 2017 ; Retrieved April 12, 2016 .
predecessor Office successor
Simon V. de Montfort Lord High Steward
Thomas of Lancaster
Simon V. de Montfort Earl of Leicester
Thomas of Lancaster
New title created Earl of Lancaster
Thomas of Lancaster