William Blount, 4th Baron Mountjoy

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William Blount, 4th Baron Mountjoy KG (* around 1478 ; † November 8, 1534 ) was an English nobleman, humanist scholar and literary patron. He studied in Paris with Erasmus , whose friend and patron he later became and his house was known as an oasis for scholars. Erasmus called him "the most learned of the noble and the noblest of the learned", in Fuller's church history of 1655 he is described as "taught in chemistry and mathematics" and as one of the innovators of knowledge in England. Scholars who were his friends included Richard Whitford, Battus (a friend of Erasmus), Richard Sampson (later Bishop of Chichester ), Thomas More , William Grocyn, and John Colet .

He also served Kings Henry VII and Henry VIII (for whom he had been a fellow student in his childhood) in military capacity in Calais and Tournai and in various other missions abroad.


William Blount was born around 1478 as the eldest of five children of John Blount, 3rd Baron Mountjoy and Lora Berkeley, daughter of Sir Edward Berkeley in Barton Blount, Derbyshire. John Blount was aware of what happened in the last few months of Richard III's reign . overwhelmed and died in 1485 a bitter and disillusioned man. In his will he warned his sons: "Live wisely and never accept ... the dignity of a baron if you can avoid it ... and do not desire to be great among princes, for this is dangerous." William inherited, however the barony as 4th Baron Mountjoy. Since he was still a minor at the time, his uncle Sir James Blount was given guardianship for William, which included managing his lands and deciding on his marriage, so William could not take over his inheritance until January 31, 1500. His mother married after the death of his father first Sir Thomas Montgomery († 1495) and then Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormond (a grandfather of Thomas Boleyn ) and died in 1501. From the third marriage of his mother, William Blount had a half-sister named Elizabeth Butler.

Study and friendship with Erasmus

Desiderius Erasmus, around 1517

William Blount turned out to be a promising, intelligent boy who showed an unusually keen interest in education for a person of his high rank in his day. He appears to have studied at Queen's College , Cambridge , where Ralph Whitford, a fellow of the university, was his tutor. While there is no record of Blount graduating from Cambridge, it is certain that he and Whitford traveled to Paris between 1496 and 1498 to complete Blount's studies. Blount's young wife, Elizabeth Say, whom he married in 1497, was probably too young to live with him and did not accompany him to Paris.

In Paris, Blount was introduced to the scholar Desiderius Erasmus , who was tutoring Thomas Gray there. The two men found in each other the ideal teacher and student and Erasmus soon shared accommodation with Blount and Whitford. They studied rhetoric together and Blount was able to refine his Latin prose style under the guidance of the greatest European stylist of the art.

When Blount returned to England in 1499, he invited Erasmus to accompany him. His household was already an oasis for scholars. Erasmus, who remarked that he would follow Mountjoy himself into the underworld, agreed and apart from two months in Oxford he stayed either in Mountjoy's house in London on Knightrider Street or in his house in Sayes Court in Greenwich . Blount encouraged Erasmus to complete his Adagia (published 1500) and to produce a new, extended version of De conscribendis epistolis , which Erasmus had originally written for his students in Paris. Erasmus dedicated both works to his former student.

Around the same time, Mountjoy socius studiorum , d. H. a fellow student for eight-year-old Prince Henry (later King Henry VIII ). The position probably got him his stepfather Lord Ormond, who was chamberlain for Queen Elizabeth of York at the time. In 1499, Blount invited Erasmus and Thomas More to visit Eltham, where the prince was brought up with his siblings. He mainly studied history with the prince, but he also encouraged him early on to read Erasmus' works, which, according to Erasmus, was the reason why the later king's writing style resembled his own.

When Erasmus let it be known through their mutual friend John Colet in 1504 that he wanted to take up Blount's patronage again, Blount promptly invited him back to England and paid the scholar an annual salary of 100 kroner during his stay from late 1505 to June 1506. Erasmus wrote: "The sun never shone on a more loyal friend of scholars".

Career at court

Accession of Henry VIII to the throne

The young King Henry VIII for whom William Blount was a studymate and confidante, ca.1509

In 1500 Blount accompanied his King Henry VII to Calais and in 1501 he attended the marriage between Crown Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon . Before 1507 he also became a council member of the king and in 1508 he received the king as a guest. Around the same time, Blount was also appointed lieutenant for Hammes Castle near Calais in France, a position his father had already held. However, he often passed responsibility for this post to a deputy and remained at the court and in the company of Prince Henry. His role as a fellow student for Prince Henry had officially ended when he turned 14 and thus completed his formal education, but Blount was still close to him and served daily as a partner in the prince's household from 1507–1508, was his confidante and traveled with him from residence to residence.

When King Henry VII died in 1509, he was in Richmond with the prince and accompanied the new king everywhere during the next few days, when a power struggle took place behind the scenes. His indications that "many occupations and other special reasons which I dared not entrust to a letter" had prevented him from writing, indicate that he was probably involved in the two-day secrecy of the king's death and in the subsequent takeover of power by a certain faction at court.

Mountjoy was thrilled by his former protégé's accession to the throne. He wrote to Erasmus of the “extraordinary and almost divine character” of the king and that they were surprised “what a hero he now shows himself to be, how wise he behaves, what a friend of justice and goodness he is and what affection he is for the scholar has ... Oh my Erasmus, if you could see how all the world rejoices here to have such a prince, as his life is their greatest desire, you could not hide your tears of joy ... Our King does not desire gold, Jewels or precious metals, but virtue, fame and immortality. "

For the coronation of the prince as Henry VIII on June 23, 1509, Blount was made Knight of the Bath and on July 9, 1509 he was given the important post of Master of the Mint (head of the royal mint ). After his first wife had died a few years earlier, he married Inez de Venegas (sometimes Anglicised to Agnes Vanegas ), a Spanish lady-in-waiting who had come to England with Henry Queen Catherine of Aragón before July 1509 .

Military campaigns

On October 6, 1509 Blount was made Lieutenant of the Castle of Hammes in France for twenty years and then traveled so much abroad on behalf of the king that Erasmus had to write to Blount's secretary Ammonio and Colet in 1511 to find out where he was. Blount returned to England in November 1511, but Erasmus still avoided his household, presumably because Bernard André, to whom he owed money, was staying there.

In March 1513 Blount was at court in Spain and later that year he was given responsibility for transporting troops during the war between England and France. In September he finally crossed over to Calais himself with a force of 500 men and after the capture of Tournai he was first appointed Lieutenant Bailiff (administrator) of the conquered city and then appointed governor in January 1515. His meanwhile third wife Alice Keble accompanied him to Tournai and gave birth to their son and heir Charles in July 1516.

As governor of Tournai, Blount was apparently very busy and responsible for building a citadel in the city that would become an additional fortress for the English garrison there. When Erasmus Blount visited Tournai in 1515 on his way to England and Blount failed to find him a student , he wrote in disappointment: “The oldest patron of my studies is so overwhelmed by the burdens of war that his help fell short of his affection. “In 1516, Blount informed Cardinal Wolsey that he wanted to be replaced as governor. When he was finally released from the post in January 1517 and returned to England, the citadel was still not and never would be fully completed.

In 1520 Blount and his wife accompanied the king to the Camp du Drap d'Or in France, in May 1521 he was one of the nobles who were courting the Duke of Buckingham and in August he accompanied Cardinal Wolsey to Bruges for his meeting with Emperor Charles V in 1522 he was also present at the reception of the emperor in Canterbury. In 1523 Blount finally returned to France again during an invasion under the command of Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk , which quickly failed.

In 1526 Mountjoy was inducted into the prestigious Order of the Garter and in 1529 elected Steward of the University of Cambridge. After his twenty years as Lieutenant of Hammes had expired in 1529, the King also allowed him to sell the post to William, Lord Gray of Wilton, and he officially resigned in May 1531.

Divorce of the king

As early as May 1512 Blount had succeeded his stepfather Ormond as chamberlain for Queen Catherine of Aragón and since then received an annual salary of £ 66 13s 4d for it. In 1525 Blount asked his friend Erasmus for a treatise on marriage for the benefit of the queen and Erasmus then wrote in 1526 Christiani matrimonii institutio , which he dedicated to Catherine of Aragón.

However, after the king decided to force an annulment of his marriage to the queen, Blount was one of the lords in 1530 who signed an open letter to Pope Clement VII urging him to agree to the king's divorce from Catherine of Aragon . Blount remained Katharina's chamberlain through the next tense years, and the Spanish ambassador Chapuys wrote in April 1533 that Blount had been ordered to stay with Catherine to prevent her from fleeing England.

In July, Blount was finally part of a delegation that Catherine visited in Ampthill to persuade her to submit to the will of the King, to recognize his new marriage to Anne Boleyn and herself as the widow of the Prince of Wales. Katharina rejected all this and Blount asked after this undoubtedly reluctant mission to be replaced as Katharina's chamberlain, which he was never granted. On October 10, 1533, he wrote to Cromwell : "It does not behave me so often to torment and disturb those whom the king commanded me to take the oath of allegiance and to serve honestly and to the best of my ability." Blount remained until his death officially Katharina's chamberlain and the position was not filled afterwards. Nevertheless, he still took part in court life. In August 1533 it was time for the pregnant Anne Boleyn to ceremonially retire to the birthing chambers and Blount asked Cromwell, Anne's chamberlain, "to remind the chamberlain of things that must be provided when the Queen withdraws to her chambers".

Last years and death

In July 1534, Blount was still on a committee of lords in the case of high treason against William Dacre, 3rd Baron Dacre of Gilsland (who was the only nobleman to be acquitted in such a case during the reign of Henry VIII). On October 14, 1534 he wrote his will in which he begged his creditors for leniency, since he had made himself a beggar for the care of his son and he had often been called abroad in the service of the king. He was also a "minor supplicant" to the king. On November 8, 1534, Blount finally died in Sutton on the Hill, near Barton Blount, Derbyshire and was buried in Barton Blount at his own request. His son Charles succeeded him as the 5th Baron Mountjoy and his place in the Order of the Garter was given to the Scottish King.


Erasmus lamented the death of his patron in the dedication of his work Ecclesiastes , which was addressed to the Bishop of Augsburg, and in the dedication of the Adagia edition of 1536, which was addressed to Mountjoy's son Charles Blount, 5th Baron Mountjoy. In the collection of letters from Erasmus there are three preserved from Mountjoy.

Marriages and offspring

William Blount entered into a total of four marriages:

Elizabeth Say (∞ around Easter 1497, † before July 21, 1506)
Inez de Venegas (∞ before July 1509)

The marriage remained childless.

Alice Keble (∞ before February 1515, † June 8, 1521)
  • Charles Blount, 5th Baron Mountjoy (born June 28, 1516 in Tournai , † October 10, 1544)
  • Catherine Blount († March 1560), first married John Champernown and before 1547 in second marriage Sir Maurice Berkeley of Bruton, with whom they had eight children.
Dorothy Gray, daughter of Thomas Gray, 1st Marquess of Dorset (∞ before July 29, 1523)
  • John Blount, died childless
  • Dorothy Blount, married Blewett
  • Mary Blount, married Dennys

Web links

Blount, William . In: Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885-1900.


  • James P. Carley: Blount, William, fourth Baron Mountjoy (c.1478–1534) In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2004
  • Sidney Lee: Blount, William In: Dictionary of National Biography, 1885–1900, Volume 05

Individual evidence

  1. David Starkey: Henry: Virtuous Prince. P. 242
  2. ^ A b Sidney Lee: Blount, William In: Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 05
  3. David Starkey: Henry: Virtuous Prince. Harper Perennial, London 2009, p. 284
  4. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n James P. Carley: Blount, William, fourth Baron Mountjoy (c.1478–1534) In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2004
  5. David Starkey: Henry: Virtuous Prince. P. 176
  6. James P. Carley: Blount, William, fourth Baron Mountjoy 1496 is traditionally mentioned as the beginning of the Paris studies, but since Blount was involved in the suppression of the Cornish rebels in England in 1497 and married, he can either only then with his Started studying in Paris or he must have returned to England in the meantime
  7. a b c David Starkey: Henry: Virtuous Prince. P. 177
  8. David Starkey: Henry: Virtuous Prince. P. 241
  9. David Starkey: Henry: Virtuous Prince. P. 282
  10. David Starkey: Henry: Virtuous Prince. P. 283f
  11. Julia Fox: Jane Boleyn: The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford . Kindle Edition, Ballantine Books 2007, Chapter 14: Long May We Reign
  12. James P. Carley Blount, Charles, fifth Baron Mountjoy (1516-1544)

predecessor Office successor
John Blount Baron Mountjoy
Charles Blount
Sir Bartholomew Reed and Sir John Shaa Master of the Mint
1509-1520 and 1531-1534
Ralph Rowlet and Martin Bowes
- Lieutenant of the Castle at Hammes
William, Lord Gray of Wilton
- Steward of Cambridge University