Saturday, April 30, 2011

Peasant Soldiery: Discourse

It's been some time since I progressed this blog and my project for that matter. I have not been completely idle; however, having purchased a goodly quantity of synthetic teddy-bear fur and sourced polystyrene for the terrain. More on the table-top plans soon. What I did want to briefly discuss was the concept and notions surrounding peasant soldiery and their makeup within the Montfortian army at Lewes.

PRE-CONCEPTIONS

In spite of much work having been done in the last two generations within academia to rectify enduring misconceptions, peasantry are largely regarding today as being wholly constituted of a downtrodden serfs, wallowing in agrarian poverty, bounded by hopeless illiteracy and living in an ignorance barely one level above the beasts in their charge. If you were to conduct random interviews with people in the high street, the lingering notions of rag-clad unfortunates, less capable and clever than ourselves would be the consistent theme.

Even in wargames research, we sometimes translated an idea of peasants as an ill-equipped, slave like rabble into the army lists. By way of example, the Armies of Chivalry (WAB) lists provide for 'rebellious peasants' for the English Wars of the Roses. Whilst admittedly a later period, they are nevertheless armed with improvised weapons, unarmoured and have very low morale or leadership characteristics. This is by no means a universal trap, but it nevertheless lingers.

WHAT IS A PEASANT?

Well, definitions abound and there are plenty to be found on-line. Some are determined to ascribe them to a class of poor agricultural worker in a subsistence economy. Whilst the precarious state of the medieval agricultural economy is beyond dispute, there were plenty of good harvests and times of plenty enabling the elevation in wealth and status of motivated peasants with sufficient acumen. Divided into Villeins (or tenant farmers) who were tied to the land, owing labour or rents to their manorial lord and Freemen who, whilst owing duties to the crown and community, farmed without the Villein's manorial obligations. It can be argued that Freemen are a separate class altogether (1).

Most commonly to be found populating villages, the peasants could be quite well off, having expanded their holdings and trading well at market off their own labours after a lucky harvest or even the sweat of their own laborers. In short, the peasants are an entire class - the rural working class (in modern industrial parlance) with a considerable spread of income and life style from poor to wealthy.  Smallholders with a few acres at the bottom and those with considerable acreages as well as office holders (such as Reeve, Baliff or Steward) at the top.

TO ARMS

The Assize of Arms compelled all men of the realm, high and low, to take the field in military service without distinction of class. The Assize was strictly in accordance with a man's wealth and included the peasantry as the majority of the population. In effect, the peasantry of England was an armed one, so we can dispense with notions of rag shirts and pitch forks from the get-go. Weaponry and self defence in the form of shield and gambeson were the orders of the day and in many instances it would be difficult to discern between the assemblies of the country from those of the town.

POLITICAL

At times, the records abound with examples of when the peasantry collectively took the law into their own hands, driving off sheriffs or ballifs when they felt their rights trodden on. Even the poorest men and women of England had rights as well as obligations and they were not beyond defending them.

In the BBC TV documentary series Story of England by Michael Woods, some time is devoted to the Monfortian rebellion in the second part to that series; Doomsday to Magna Carta. This is a programme which examines English history through the town of Kibworth in Leicestershire. When speaking of Lewes, Woods makes much of the peasant soldiers part and the almost revolutionary fervor which likely took hold of many upon victory that day.

One of his eminent guests is Professor David Carpenter who discusses the reforms of Montfortian rule which followed and those which directly benefited the condition of the peasantry. He also speaks about the radicalisation of Leicestershire:

"The peasants themselves believe passionately in these kinds of reforms. I think particularly this area of Leicestershire, South Leicestershire is very radicalised politically and very informed - the peasants know what's going on."

Wood goes on in describing how the rebellion spilled into other aspects of county life. In an incident involving pilgrims from Kibworth to Bardon, one John Waddard (sp?) is cited a leading peasant who was later recorded as having been a part of Monfort's army some time before Evesham. It is clear that Montort relied on the armed peasantry from the counties including Leicestershire.

Professor Carperter adds:

"One of the things which has really emerged I think from recent work on this whole period is the way peasants were radicalised and took part in the actual fighting. They both took part in raid and counter raid, in the bands of Montfortians burning villages in surrounding areas. But they also fought in the great battles ... we may think probably of contingents, peasant contingents from Kibworth physically on the fighting side."

MORALE

... or Leadership in WAB terminology for peasants need not be any less than any other body of foot. On the contrary, it seems that if the common men of England were motivated sufficiently to take up arms in a cause for which they must have strongly identified - to rebel against the injustices of the Kings administration - then I rather feel their morale would be higher or at least as high as any armed retinue. I will be revisiting my army list with a view to increasing the base Leadership rating of my rebel county infantry unit by +1.


(1) David carpenter: The Struggle for Mastery (The Penguin History of Britain 1066-1284) 2003.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Rebel Army: Half Way

This would have to be the first gratuitous posting for the Project Lewes blog but probably not the last. I am celebrating the fact that the first two wards of four for the Montfortian army at Lewes has been completed (bar the base texturing).

This is also a tester for the frontage of the table top. Whilst I will be designing and building specific scenery for Lewes, I need to see what the board size needs to be. The layout here is fairly representative of how the army will array itself - at least for infantry frontage - and I clearly need to allow for at least half as much width again to accommodate the central ward (the left and right being those in shot and built thus far).
Whilst I believe Simon de Montfort kept his fourth ward as reserve and out of sight to the rear, I will nevertheless build the battlefield to allow manoeuvre - something not often done in wargaming from my observation. As an aside, I have long felt that table-tops should accommodate at least a third as much area as the miniatures armies take up when deployed. Anyway, the two wards you see take up frontage of two 2' foot tiles (or 120cm or 1200 mm in 21st century language) or 4'. Allowing for the third ward frontage, I am aiming at this stage for a table top allowing 8-10' or 3.2 metres. I'll say more of this on the terrain planning stage and accompanying postings.

On a further note, I have to admit to this project gaining much of it's impetus from you, the followers. Let me say a sincere thanks to everyone who publicly follows this blog, to those who have commented so generously and for those of you who regularly pop-in for a 'gander'. My last statistic returned me almost 4000 hits which I consider quite remarkable given that this project is quite specific, fitting an in-depth look at a niche wargaming period. Thanks again. Given the following, I feel compelled to keep the postings and the production line rolling which I find essential - it being so easy to give up half way through, having bitten off more than I can chew which I have done so many times in the past.
It's also interesting to see what I have built so far. As soon as my units are complete, I store them away in a drawer and to date, I have never laid them out altogether. Normally, of course, this would be a normal, healthy sized Warhammer Ancient Battles army in its own right, but Matt and I are going for something quite different this time. Imagine, twice the number of figures for the Rebel army facing another army a third as large again. We are still at least a year off completion I would guess.
Oh and for the statistically driven; you are looking at two casualty markers (cavalry), two earls with sergeant escourts, 24 archers, 20 knights/sergeants and 130 infantry.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Rebel Left Ward Knights: Modelling


Well, I finally finished painting the ten knights and sergeants comprising my Left Ward cavalry for the Rebel army at Lewes. I will not repeat what i have previously posted as each knight within the unit has his own posting on this blog. This unit has what I regard as two sergeants and a squire (trumpeter) - the two former in the service of Rober de Vere, Earl of Oxford and the latter, a squire of the de Montfort family. As with my other units, I have not completed the bases until I have built the scenery making for the filed at Lewes. Only then, when my colours and textures are complete, will I match my bases to the terrain.


This essentially marks the half way point for my baronial army in the command of Simon de Montfort. For those who follow this blog, I have taken considerable pains to research each and every knight and as usual, hand painted the lot. I can certainly appreciate why this particular period is not more popular than it is in wargaming - the blazons and caparisons can take a hellishly long time. My next post will be an assembly of the army thus far.


I am not going to take abreak from Lewes for a while and switch to another project or two and my other related blog. I have also begun turning my mind to the windmill on the field of battle and noticed that Gripping Beast appear to have re-sculpted their horses so I may look to Simon de Montfort himself and his bodyguard cavalry for my Rebel Reserve Ward.

Ankerus de Freschville: Research & Modelling

Azure, a bend between six escallops, argent
Ankerus de Freshevill aka Auker de Freschville aka Aucher, Ankere.


The Freschvilles, like so many baronial families, came to England with William of Normandy in 1066 and by 1200 through marital connections had inherited and established their power base in Stavely, Derbyshire. Of Stavely Manor, Ankerus de Freschville (son of Ralf) was of age when he succeeded to the family estates in February 1261 but we do not know the date of his birth. If of age, then he was at least 21 years so cannot have been born later than 1240.


Ankerus appears to have married twice, firstly to a Joanna (who presumably died) and then married Amice Musard (daughter of Robert) who was a local lady, bringing with her additional, adjacent manors in dowry. Ankerus had significant holdings (Stavely, Woodthorpe, Whitwell, Crich, Bunny and Scarcliff) and with Amice he fathered a son and heir, Ralph (born not before 1265) who was to inherit but does not appear to have been of age at his father’s death – being a ward of Richard de Grey in 1275.


The date of Ankerus’ death is in some dispute. The Colectanea Topographica has it at 1268, other open source genealogical sites have it before the end of 1266 and others in 1270. Richard’s Bygone (An early history of Palterton) has reference of Ankerus making payments under writ for his lands on 12 January 1269 at the Scarsdale wapentake court – so it appears that he died between 1269 and 1275.


He is recorded as having been with the rebels and present at the fall of Northampton where he was and captured and his lands forfeit - possibly placed in the keeping of Brian de Brompton. Under the later ‘Dictum of Kenilworth’ they were returned in accordance with the ‘Dictum of Kenilworth’. The subsequent fines imposed upon the rebel Ankerus must have been significant as we are told that the penalty (calculated at up to five times the value of his estates) was still not paid for by the time of his father’s death. As a result it appears that some of these manors had passed to others – the son paying for the sins of his father.


Ankerus is also placed by some at Chester with the ‘Disinherited’ (May 1266) which would be consistent with his apparent heavy fines, calculated against the level of involvement in the rebellion. Therefore, I surmise that like so many others, he broke parole after Northampton, joined with the Montfortians at Lewes and continued with the ‘Disinherited’ rebellion until at least their defeat at Chesterfield.

Ankerus de Freschville was survived by his heir Ralph and wife Amice.

Modelling: My Ankerus de Freschville is another Mirliton miniature thirteenth century knight. In this case I have gone with a plain surcoat but given him a white cross baronial field sign on the left breast. I have given him a heraldic caparison and I have also altered the figure slightly, giving him a fan crest for his great helm. At this time, he is the most flamboyant of my knights with his crest as I wanted to try something different. I mean, there's always 'one' in every crowd isn't there? The fan is made from green stiff, glued (Araldite) into a grove I filed in the top of the helm. The helmet came with a sculpted crest which I cut away and filed back - thinking it too continental or even Germanic for my 'English' knight. He is based alongside a sergeant with my version of a de Vere livery shield as I have him with my Left Ward knights under the overall command of Robert de Vere.


References:


Richard’s Bygone Times website: An early history of Palterton (1002 to 1700)


Collectanea Topographica et Geneologica (Vols 4) London 1837 (see Google books)

John de Bracebridge: Research & Heraldy



John de Bracebridge was born 1232, Kingsbury, Warwickshire and came into his inheritance (Kingsbury Manor) in July 1252 (aged 20). He deferred his knighthood; however, in 1256 for three years through the payment of fines (2 marks in gold) to the crown. It should be noted that this was in all probability a purely economic expedient for Bracebridge to avoid the knight’s fee and associated costs. It would appear that John was not the wealthiest of landholders.

He took up arms with the Montfortians in 1263/4 (48th year of Henry’s reign) and was at the siege of Northampton with Simon de Montfort (the younger) at its fall. As a direct result, John is recorded as having been confined at Shrewsbury, imprisoned there by Hugh de Tuberville for ransom. He secured his release (either from entering into some recognizance, parole or payment of ransom) but from this point the record is both sketchy and inconsistent. We do not know when or under what conditions John was released.

John Burke has him next with the younger Simon de Montfort at the Isle of Axholme, Linconshire where the ‘Disinherited’ barons (following the fall of Kenilworth, December 1266) were to hold out against Prince Edward. The so called Isle of Axholme was a cluster of communities on raised land among fens and tidal marshes, difficult to assault - similar to the Isle of Ely which the remaining ‘Disinherited’ similarly and unsuccessfully defended the following year. That makes for a two year gap in the Bracebridge record.
Peter Coss (Lordship, Knighthood and Locality, 1991) refers to it having been said that Bracebridge, “bore no arms against the King since Northampton nor aided the rebel cause” (p287). We are not told; however, where, when, by whom or in what circumstances this statement was allegedly made. Following Bourke, Coss accepts John Bracebridges’ adherence to Simon de Montfort the younger and his presence at Axholme; however, he also looks to the level of fines we presume Bracebridge owed the crown which was to financially ruin him, as we shall see later.

The final fines for rebelling against the King were essentially fixed through the ‘Dictum of Kenilworth’ in 1266. Initially set at a ten times the value of a baron’s estate, this calculation was moderated to five times, or even less depending upon the degree of involvement of the subject knight. If Bracebridge was only involved at Northampton (as repeated in our tertiary sources) then the fines prior to the siege at Axholme should have been minimal – even as low as two years value or even one if he could prove he was ‘compelled’ to fight. The Dictum had been publicly declared and at a time where the baronial cause could not have looked more desperate. So then, why would Braebridge have pitched in with an obviously lost cause when it could only have made his situation worse?
If this knight’s neutrality after Northampton was declared at all, I doubt its veracity and suspect it a claim to mollify his later judges. Rather, I believe that that John de Bracebridge never quit the younger Simon de Montfort’s side, most likely obtaining his release shortly after Northampton and taking to the field at Lewes with those who similarly broke faith with the terms of release. I further surmise that he stuck with young Simon’s army, missing Evesham and surviving to Axholme where he finally surrendered.



 

Through his fines (and who knows, perhaps even a ransom) John appears to have been impoverished and lost physical control of his estates due to his inability to sustain payments. He resorted to leasing almost his entire holdings to Robert de Tybetot; by March 1269 Tybetot had gained the right of ‘free warren’ (unlimited hunting rights) of Kingsbury and by November life long demesne of it. Whilst he was never a wealthy knight (evidenced by his deferment of knighthood) these financial difficulties went on for eight years which suggests John de Bracebridge bore more than just a year or twos worth of fines. I think he was fined heavily because he was committed heavily to the baronial cause.

John de Bracebridge did not recover himself financially for the rest of his days, ending for him in 1274 in Kingsbury (aged 42), succeeded by his son, John de Bracebridge.



Modelling: My John de Bracebridge is a Mirliton figure straight of their production line. I have given him yet another very plain cloth surcoat in an attempt to reflect his relatively humble means and I have given him the white cross field sign, sewn front and back to mark him as a Montfortian rebel. I have given him a heraldic caparison with a simple repetition pattern of his azure cross in small. The colour of the cloth is hopefully recognisably muted compared to the pigment on the shield.

Selected References:

LF Salzman, The Victoria History of the County of Warwick
John Burke, Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland (Vol 1)
Sir William Dugdale, History of Embanking and Draining (1662)
Peter Coss, Lordship, Knighthood and Locality: A study in English Society 1180-1280 (1991)
'Parishes: Kingsbury', A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 4: Hemlingford Hundred (1947)
Open source: Geneology freepages
I'd also like to recognise Genuki whose county map is featured in this posting.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

William de Goldingham: Research & Modelling

Ermine, three bars wavy, gules
William de Goldingham was a knight of Essex (holding Chigwell Manor and seisin (freehold) of Burebache Wood) and may have come into the possession of family estates at Goldingham Hall (a manor in Bulmer parish, Yorkshire) and Ryshton, Yorkshire which was held earlier by Hugh de Goldingham. Nevertheless, the chief estate for the Goldinghams was Chigwell, formerly of William Brito and believed to have come into their possession as tenancy in demesne (or ownership) some time after 1254. The manor of Grange, which gave its name to Grange Hill, was originally part of Chigwell Hall and altogether the estates must have comprised significant land holdings and income as William de Goldingham and Aline (his wife) confirmed to Robert, Abbot of Tilty, gifts to the abbey of 3 messuages (house and land) and 234½ acres of land in Chigwell in 1258. Having said that, he is generally judged a knight of average means.


The Goldingham family lineage through open sources is sketchy but we know that William de Goldingham was born in Chigwell in 1236 and that he married at age 21 to the 16 year old Alina (or Aline) le Breton on Jul 1257 at Chigwell. Alina was of Essex also, born 1241 in Layer Breton and is recorded as being the daughter of William Brito. Given the timing it may well be supposed that the demesne of Chigwell came as dowry. In any event, four years on and the young couple had a son, John de Goldinham who went on to inherit – dying himself in 1315.

A good number of Essex knights and their followers took up arms with the Montfortian rebel barons, William de Goldingham amongst them. Whether he was at Lewes or not I cannot say for certain. It appears that he survived the war but was not pardoned ‘of his trespasses’ until 28 June 1267. This timing strongly suggests that William was with the ‘Disinherited’ and amongst the garrison at the Isle of Ely which capitulated 1 June 1267. Had he previously given over to the King, I suggest he would have been captured within the ‘Dictum of Kenilworth’ when that siege had ended in December 1266. Given that previous to the outbreak of open hostilities, the record indicates stability or even accumulation of property within the Goldingham estates, his subsequent rebellion is the most likely cause for any subsequent forfeit to the crown; the most probable reason for falling in with the last, desperate revolt with the ‘Disinherited’.

So, when would a knight like Goldingham have been most likely to join with the rebellion? Given that we know that the period following Simon de Montfort’s victory as Lewes in fact saw a decline in support rather than the increase one might otherwise have expected, it seems just as likely therefore, that William was with the army from before Lewes. Furthermore, even if present at the fall of Northampton, he would have been just as likely to have broken his parole with the others and took the field at Lewes. Given the events at Evesham and the fact that Goldingham’s recorded activity would seem to post date that battle, I can be less bold in placing him there with confidence.

All Saints, Rushton
So, if you agree with my interpretation of the evidence at hand, we have William de Goldingham at Lewes at the age of 28. Other than the record of his ongoing rebellion and pardon by 1267, the only record known to me is that of his death in 1296, aged 60. Thanks to the quirk of time and fate; however, this otherwise ‘humble’ rebel remains known to countless church goers,or at least seen by them. William de Goldingham’s effigy in purpeck marble survives to this day in All Saints Church, Rushton in Northamptonshire.

Modelling: My William de Goldingham is with the knights of my cavalry for the Left Ward and is an old Essex Miniatures model (ironically) with a Gripping Beast shield. Those of you familiar with this figure may recall it comes with an integral triangular shield (an under sized one in my view) which I had to cut away. Once more I opted for a non-heraldic surcoat and in this case, a rather plain black one befitting his modest social status. His horses caparison; however, was another matter and I have come up with a speculative design based upon his arms. The image here is the unfinished model (for the finished item see the future posting on the Knights of the Left Ward: Modelling). It was taken just prior to the matt spray coat I give all my models before finishing off with the shiny metal details – Humbrol Aluminium for the maille and steel, with a dry brush of silver to highlight.

William de Goldingham, All Saints, Rushton

Selected bibliography:

'Chigwell: Manors', A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4: Ongar Hundred (1956)

W. A. Copinger: Manors of Suffolk

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Geoffrey de Lucy: Research & Modelling

Geoffre de Lucy: Gules crusilly three pike hauriant or
Geoffrey de Lucy of Newington (son of the fifth Geoffrey de Lucy and Nichole de Lucy) was born 1237, presumably in Newington, Surrey (subsumed in the greater metropolitan London). The older Geoffrey appears to have died by 1252 but I have no record of our Geoffrey’s wardship which he may have had sold off as he was only aged 15 at the time.


He married Ellen de Raveningham of Dallington and Slapton (born 1241) some time before May 1257 with whom he fathered a son Geoffrey, born August 1267 in Chelmscot, Buckinghamshire.

Count Map England & Wales:
 Surrey

I can find little about this man and his involvement in the Montfortian rebellion beyond the essentials. Nothing specific indicates his particular politics other than the chroniclers placing him at Lewes with the Londoners. Geoffrey’s sister Maud de Lucy (born 1139 in Newington) married Nicholas de Segrave who you may recall commanded the Londoners of the rebel Left Ward. Other than this clear personal allegiance, his proximity to London (holding Newington) would place him at the centre of the movement and ‘of’ the rebel camp.

Present at Lewes (aged 27) Geoffrey is one of the knights specifically recorded as having broken before Prince Edward’s cavalry and being amongst those who routed with the Londoners at Lewes. Geoffrey nevertheless survived the battle but any further involvement in the rebellion is not known.

He died 5 June 1284 (aged 47), survived by his wife Ellen (died after 1316) and his son, the seventh Geoffrey de Lucy.

Modelling: Opting for an un-caprisoned mount, and presumably having lost his helm, my Geoffrey de Lucy wears a green cloth surcoat 'gifted' to him, green being regarded as a noble colour in terms of 12th century 'livery'. I have him based with a sergeant, not as a command base (mine always being rounded) but because he is one of a company comprising my cavalry for the rebel Left Ward in which I have included squires and sergeants. I had contemplated printing off the blazon and gluing it on due to it's complexity but in the end, just sketched and painted it as usual. The model is a Gripping Beast knight but I cannot recall if the horse is. His mount is considerably larger than some others within the range, so I suspect not. His accompanying sergeant is a Wargames Foundry figure (horse and rider) whose shield is my version of a retainer to the earl of Oxford, Robert de Vere.

Select references:

The Battle of Lewes: Sir Charles Oman




Henry de Hastings: Research & Modelling

Heraldry: Or, a maunch gules (a maunch being representative of the sleeve of a lady's robe.

Henry de Hastings, son of Henry de Hastings (6th Baron Hastings by tenure and first by writ) was born c.1235 at Ashill (originally Asleigh), Norfolk. The estate included: the manors of Whitefield, Stratton and Cundover (Salop); of Wigginton and Wulverhampton in Staffordshire; of Bromesgrove in Worceshire; Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire; Owardbek and Mannesfeld in Nottinghamshire; Blunham in Bedforshire; Nailstone and Burbage in Leicestershire; and, Fillongley in Warwickshire.
Manors of Norfolk including Ashill

Henry was a minor at the time of his father’s death in 1250, the King granting his estates in wardship to Geoffrey de Lusingan who in turn granted it to William de Cantelupe the following year. The nature of the young Baron Hasting’s relationship to Geoffrey (if any) can only be guessed but it is easy to imagine a spirited 15 year old straining against control of this ‘foreign’ dominus. It is similarly easy to see how young Henry was to fit so neatly into the Montfortian movement against foreign usurpation of royal offices: just another young baron whose birth right and inheritance was traded between the over-mighty familia regis.



Between 1251 and 1256, whilst under the wardship of William de Cantelupe, Henry married William’s daughter Joan (born 1240, five years his junior). Clearly the young Hastings was well within the Cantelupe influence. Whilst it is tempting to speculate as to the freedom of choice young Henry had in selecting his bride, the ongoing fruit from the union seemingly indicates a successful marriage. First daughtered with Audra in 1260, then the heir John in 1262.


Young Henry and his two sisters were tutored by Walter de Centilupe, Bishop of Worcester: a political ‘reformer’, one of the three key philosophical mentors of Simon de Montfort and effectively the future baronial ‘army chaplain (Maddicott, Simon de Montfort, p81). Henry came into his inheritance 10 May 1256, formally giving his homage to King Henry III – one can imagine this homage could not have been meant unconditionally in the mind of Henry de Hastings.


On 8 September 1260 he received a summons to Shrewsbury to be in arms for the Welsh war. At the parliament of May 1262 he supported Simon de Montfort in his complaint of the non-observance of the Provisions of Oxford. In siding with the barons he was amongst those excommunicated by Archbishop Boniface in 1263 and he signed the instrument which bound the barons to abide by the award of Louis IX on 13 December 1263.


When open hostilities broke out, Henry was in the thick of it from the outset. He has been described by the chronicler Wykes as proud, violent and a constant rebel as we shall see. Rebellion was not unknown in the family, his grandfather William having also rebelled against the crown in the reign of King John, their lands being forfeit for a time. Henry de Hastings joined with Gilbert de Clare in 1264 and his army for the siege of Rochester Castle – the siege being lifted with the movement of the royal army through Kent. From there the rebels withdrew to London (de Hasting with them) where they regrouped and marched on Lewes.


Knighted by Simon de Montfort either in London previously (4 May) or the morning before the battle, Henry took the field in the Left Ward at Lewes (aged 29). He was swept away with the ensuing rout but survived. During the Montfortian ascendancy, Hastings was summonsed to parliament and was installed Constable of Scarborough and Winchester castles.


He took part in the subsequent Evesham campaign, fighting at Simon de Montfort’s side. Unlike the Earl, Henry survived, but was wounded and taken prisoner. He ‘obtained his release’ only to join Robert Ferrers Earl of Derby at Chesterfield in May 1266 where the rebellion enjoyed a resurgence. It seems here that Henry de Hastings’ run of luck continued. Joined by a force under John d’Ayville, Ferrers’ army was engaged at Chesterfield by a royalist army under Prince Edward and defeated but our Henry apparently avoided being captured with Ferrers. There is some suggestion he was out hunting at the time and that the military encounter at Chesterfield was more of an ambush or surprise attack, rather than a set piece battle.


Henry proceeded to Kenilworth castle, and ravaged the surrounding countryside in company with John de la Ware and the surviving rebels. He held out with the rest of the garrison for four months. In that time he is cited as having conducted numerous sorties to harass the besiegers, engaged his own stone throwers and even maimed a royal messenger seeking terms of the garrison. It is here that perhaps we get a glimpse of the regard in which this rebel was held by the royal party as Hastings was especially excepted from the Dictum de Kenilworth, supposedly due to his stubborn resistance. During his custody at this time the King was not without mercy; however, and granted much of his estate to his wife for the maintenance of herself and the children. It is perhaps also worth remembering that it was not only the men within the baronage of England who enjoyed social connection and political influence, Joan being of considerable standing.


The King relented supposedly upon supplication by a conciliatory Prince Edward and Hastings was alternatively sentenced to pay a fine of seven years value of his estates for his release which (presumably) he agreed to. Yet again; however, Henry de Hastings broke faith with the King and joined immediately with the last group in rebellion, the so called ‘disinherited’ who rallied at the Isle of Ely, Henry becoming their leader. Pressing hard to extinguish the last vestiges of revolt, Prince Edward closed in a deliberate military campaign of this outpost eventually forcing the garrison’s surrender in July 1267. Henry de Hastings died the following year, aged 32.


The circumstances of his death are not known, nor whether he was in custody at the time. It seems hard to credit that with his track record of constant rebellion and his leadership of the ‘disinherited’ that he would have been so quickly released by the royalists who had so ruthlessly ended the Monfortians at Evesham. No record of execution exists to my knowledge and whilst murder is not beyond the realm of possibility by this stage in the baronial revolt we need to consider the harsh conditions of any protracted siege and Henry had gone from one to another in rapid succession. It seems disease might very well have been his executioner.


Henry de Hastings was buried at the Church of the Friars Minor, Coventry. He was survived by his wife Joan (died 1271 and interred alongside Henry) his son and heir John (aged five), Edmund and three daughters.


Modelling: Another Gripping Beast miniature, my Henry de Hastings has a non-heraldic surcoat with floral pattern but his device is repeated on the horse caparison in detail. I wash out my colours (using Humbrol enamels) when painting cloth but detail the shield blazon with the bolder colours. I opted for a pattern on the head covering on this occasion, seen in seals of the period. I will most probably not attach a pennon in the future, leaving those for leader figures or unit standards.

Monday, February 14, 2011

John Giffard: Research & Modelling

Heraldry: Gules, three lions passant in pale argent.

Gloucestershire
John Giffard of Brimpsfield (sometime recorded Brimsfield), Gloucestershire was born 19 January 1231, Brimpsfield Gloucestershire (probably Brimpsfield castle). The Giffards came to England and conquered with the future William I. John inherited Brimpsfield, Cranham manor (with the Giffards from the time of Hastings), Stoke Giffard, Rockhampton and land in Oldbury. He was hereditory patron to the Benedictine Priory in Brimpsfield (an alien house from Fontenay) and the attached parish church.


John's Father, Helias, had previously rebelled against King John, had been imprisoned, excommunicated and his lands confiscated for his troubles. In swearing allegiance to the young King Henry following John's death in 1216, the family estates were reinstated. Helias died in 1248-9: John inherited at the age of 17-18 years.
Central Gloucestershire including Brimpsfield
Brimpsfield castle is presumed to have been built early in the Norman occupation on a previous Saxon site, having by John's time one 'massive central tower' at the centre and four smaller ones at the corners: only the ditch survives today.

All that's left - the ditch today

John is described as, 'a soldier of great courage and no less integrity' (William Rishanger, Opus Chronicorum). He was an active 'military knight', taking up arms for the Welsh expeditions of 1246, 1247 and 1248, being recognised and awarded governorship of St. Briavel's Castle and made Warden of the Forest of Dean to hold against the Welsh.



My John Giffard under way

John Giffard joined with Simon de Monfort early in 1263 in his campaign against the King's indulgence toward 'foreign' family and their occupation of royal offices. With Roger de Clifford, he besieged Gloucester Castle, held by the French knight, King's man and Sheriff of Gloucestershire, Maci de Basile. The Sheriff had a Montfortian competitor for the post, the local Gloucestershire knight William Traci, whom Giffard was a local backer. Politics by now had begun to turn to violence and spill over into the streets. Whilst holding his rival council, the baronial Traci was set upon by Basile and his men, beaten and bundled off to Basile's castle under arrest - Clifford and Giffard were having none of it. They stormed and took the castle, dragged Basile into the Welsh marshes and raided his estate at Sherston, seizing his livestock and driving them back to Brimpsfield.


Unfortunately for Giffard, his former compatriot Roger de Clifford changed sides, returned to the King's favour and handed over Gloucester Castle. Soon after, the newly installed Royal Constable of the castle held a hundred court at Quedgeley and summonsed Giffard as a rebel to answer charges. John attended but in arms and in strength, killing a few at court and dispersing the rest. Giffard followed hard on, attending Gloucester by 1262/3 with the strength of the de Montforts behind him. With his confederate, John de Balun, Giffard disguised himself as a Welsh wool merchant, deceiving the city guard who, allowing the two knights to close with the city gate were surprised when the two threw back their robes and overwhelmed the guard, allowing Simon de Montfort, his son Henry and their party inside to take the city. Whilst the city was now in rebel hands; however, the castle was not.

Completed Giffard
Prince Edward and his forces arrived to take the city and relieve the castle but was repulsed at the city walls by the rebels. He then succeeded in sailing across the Severn direct to the castle to reinforce the garrison. A siege ensued and we are told it was hotly contested until a truce was brokered by the Bishop of Worcester and Abbot of Gloucester whereby the rebels (Giffard amongst them) withdrew.


We next hear of John Giffard (at 33 years) as one of the leaders attributed with heading the London left wing on the field at Lewes (I have given him command of the Left Ward horse). He is conspicuous in the record as having fallen before the royalist cavalry assault. He was taken prisoner and led back to Lewes Castle only to be released later when the day was won by de Montfort. He must not have credited his good fortune.


After Lewes; however, John Giffard broke with Simon de Montfort and the baronial cause after a dispute over ransoms for Richard of Cornwall (Kings brother and King of the Romans) and the other prisoners captured at Lewes. It was in this period of Simon de Montfort's supremacy that he lost much of his support in spite of his incredible success. It would seem that power sharing was not the Earl's strong suit. Whatever the faults or particulars of the dispute, Giffard left with Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, joining with the King - or one should say the King's party as Henry III, his son Prince Edward and several other leading royalists were at that time prisoners of the Montfortians. Given the way the winds of fortune had blown up to that time, their defection must have been heart felt to have deserted Simon de Montfort and the rebels when their power was at it's zenith.


Whilst 'touring' at Gloucester with his imprisoned monarch, Simon de Montfort was blocked by the forces of Giffard and de Clare who, through manouvre and strength of numbers had compelled his withdrawal. When back at Hereford, Prince Edward escaped de Montfort's custody and he joined with Giffard and de Clare. Together, they took Gloucester and destroyed all available shipping to deny Simon de Montfort capacity to cross the Severn. This he did; however, downstream of Worcester and soon after was intercepted at Evesham where he and his cause were put to a bloody end (1265).


Having been held in security for his allegiance, Brimpsfield Castle was once more restored to John after Evesham and he was pardoned for his rebellion. Whilst Giffard's war record was dramatic and uncertain, so too was his personal life. A bachelor it seems until 39, John Giffard finally married. The lucky lady was the widow Maud Longespee who had been allegedly abducted by Giffard, spiriting her to his Brimpsfield Castle and agreeing to pay the King a fine of 300 marks for marrying without consent in 1270. John seemed to have no luck with wives, but more than they, as Maud died (survived by her daughters Catherine and Eleanor), who was followed by his marriage to Alice Maltravers and finally Margaret Neville (another widow) in 1285. By then John was aged 54 but finally fathered his son and heir, another John Giffard, and a spare (second son) Edmund.


John went on after the Baron's War to take part in the Welsh expedition against Llewellyn (1282) and he was summonsed to parliaments between 1295 to 1298. He died (it is said peacefully) 29 May 1299 (aged 68) in Boynton, Wiltshire and was buried in the Abbey Church at Malmesbury. By the time his son inherited his father's estates, they had expanded significantly since the time of Helias. The Giffards had come to possess holdings in Gloucestershire, Sherrington and Elston (in Wiltshire); the castles of Cortham, Clifford and  Iskennan with lands in Carmarthen; Llandovery Castle (of the King); and, Badgeworth manor and Burford town (of the Earl of Hereford). Not bad for the man who fell at Lewes!


Modelling: As one of history's identified leaders of the London Left Ward, I have made John my cavalry commander and as such I have given him one of my maille barded horses and a painted great helm to help him stand out from the otherwise highly heraldic masses. He is a Gripping Beast model and I have given him some heavily embroidered cuffs and hem to raise the standard a little. I am also going through a phase at the moment of putting some extra attention to the surcoats, going for motifs other than repeating the blazon heraldry. To be honest, given his three lions, it was also another reason not to go for a cloth caparison - I was damned if I was going to paint 15 lions.

References:


Last of the Brimpsfield Giffards and the Rising of 1321-2: RF Butler (1957)from the Transactions (Vol 76) of the Bristol and Gloucester Archeological Society.


Brimpsfield Castle and it's Owners: W Bazely (1895-7) from the Transactions (Vol 20) of the Bristol and Gloucester Archeological Society.


Wikipaedia Brimpsfield Castle

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rober de Vere 5th Earl of Oxford: Research & Modelling

Arms of Robert de Vere
The de Vere Heraldry

Quarterly gules and or, a mullet argent. Heraldic interpretation: gules denotes Military Fortitude and Magnanimity; or (gold but represented yellow) represents Generaosity and Elevation of the Mind; quartering is taken as recognition of the crown to brilliant military service and its fields (in this instance) representing the significantly even colours  – though perhaps with greater emphasis on gules having occupied the first quadrant. Charging the first quadrant, the mullet (depicted as a five pointed star) in argent (silver, depicted white) represents Peace and Sincerity (colour), the mullet representing a fallen star denoting divine bestowal of virtue.


My Robert de Vere

My completed but unbased model representation of Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford and commander of the Left Ward of the Rebel army at Lewes. I fiddled about with this model and tried to pay more attention to the scabbard and surcoat. I'm not convinced the photos have highlighted the detail of the garment.
This is a Mirliton Miniatures figure and certainly one I felt was dramatically sculpted enough to make an impact for one of my Rebel commanders.I elected to position a shield on his back and made the strap with green stuff.
The Mirliton figures require some assembly (upper torso and head being seperate) and I have position the assembly to affect my earl wielding his sword, preparatory to delivering the 'death blow'. I have shifted from basic representation of heraldry on the surcoat this time (as with others) with the question in the back of my mind, 'how much representation does it really need'?  
I have followed some practices seen in the sources for caparison designs and opted this time to avoid repetion of the blazon. Robert will be mounted on a base with a sergeant (two figures) on a bouble bubble base (distorted figure 8) to represent my ward commanders. My army commander de Montfort will be with two others on his base.

Hedingham Castle keep
Bn c.1240 in Hedingham (presumably at Hedingham castle, Essex) Robert de Vere, was the youngest of four children and the only surviving son of Hugh de Vere, 4th Earl of Oxford who died 23 December 1263 making Robert the 5th Earl of Oxford at 23 years. Whilst earls of Oxford, the de Vere family were amongst the victors with William I in his conquest of England and their original estates and on-going centre of power resided in Essex.
Location of Essex

On 22 February 1252, Robert married Alice de Sanford (Saunford or Sanford);born c.1231 and nine years his senior. The marriage to Alice brought the hereditary office of Chamberlain to the Queen into the family. He had fathered his son and heir, Robert in 24 June 1257, his first daughter Mary in 1262 and his second, Joan in 1264 so presumably he went to war leaving Alice at home either heavily pregnant or with babe in arms, his six year old heir and a toddler in the household. Should he have been killed or the battle lost, one can only guess at the fortunes and future of the de Veres.  
Hedingham castle

He was a political Montfortian from the beginning, taking up arms when open rebellion broke out. He was knighted prior to the battle of Lewes by Simon de Montfort, led the Left Ward and survived the battle to be summonsed to de Montfort’s parliament the following year (1265). He joined with Simon de Montfort ‘the younger’ in plundering Winchester that year but missed the battle at Evesham as he and Hugh de Montfort were surprised outside Kenilworth castle by Prince Edward and his army, being arrested on 1 August with no hope of joining with their baronial chief.


Kenilworth Castle


For his sins, the King granted Robert’s earldom of Oxford to Roger de Mortimer but like others, Robert came to terms under the Dictum of Kenilworth. He recovered his lands and title through payment of appropriate fines, further payments to Mortimer and a marital alliance of his eldest son to Margaret de Mortimer (Roger’s daughter).


Earl Robert went on to serve the crown faithfully under kings Henry and Edward. He was present at Council, served against the Welsh in 1277, 1282, and 1283 and attended the parliaments of 1283, 1295, and 1296. Robert was chosen to jointly preside over the considerations of Scottish succession at Berwick in 1292.

He experienced the death of his eldest, Joan on 21 November 1293. He died in 1296 (aged 56), survived by his wife Alice (died 7 September 1317), his sons Robert (succeeding as 6th Earl of Oxford), Alfonso (born 1266) and daughter Mary (born 1262). The location of a de Vere manor house, both Robert and Alice are buried at Earls Colne, Essex – the town named after the river it stands by and the earls of Oxford. They were interred at Colne Priory, bequeathed previously by the family to the Benedictine order, the chapel for which was part of the priory, still standing today, St Andrews.


Selected References
The Dictionary of Heraldry: Joseph Foster (1902)


The Symbols of Heraldry Explained: Heraldic Artists Ltd. (1980)


Ancient Funeral Monuments of Great Britain, Ireland and the Islands Adjacent: John Weever & William Tooke

Thanks to Genuki (UK and Ireland Geneology) website for the map of England inset.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Early Blazon Website (12th & 13th Centuries)

This is my first link and a rather handy one at that. It's website in both French and English covering a vast array of early blazons (as the name suggests) with the heraldic designs of just about everyone I have come across to date.

It also has a very handy battle index with key people present and their arms. It is accompanied with a basic precis of each battle. Whilst my research is more comprehensive, it is nevertheless a very handy place to begin and I recommend it highly for anyone embarking on a similar battle-build in this period.

If it's still running by the time I get to the so-called First Barons War, it will be one of my first ports of call.

Early Blazon: Lewes

I don't seem to be able to link you straight into the Lewes chapter, so just click on 'Battle' link in the left margin and pick your battle.

Getting it Right

I had cause to spend about nine hours today hogging the family computer and pouring through the Internet to build on my research for this wargaming project of mine. I am currently in the middle of painting my knights of the Rebel Left Ward and realised I needed just a couple of extra knights details for my unit.

I had anticipated having half of them as sergeants but only a few are really suitable for that rank, the rest of the figures just work better as knights. In stumbling about I struck out more times than I care to think about - chasing lines of enquiry and failing to flesh out the stories of known rebels. For example: I have a list of some 19 rebels recorded as having receive the kings pardon in June 1267 from the Patent Rolls and after many unsuccessful attempts I only managed to satisfy myself that one of them could have been at Lewes. Of course, I then need to identify his heraldry and thankfully did so.
 
During this exercise I realised to my shock that I had made a critical mistake in my research and previous lists. I had been mistakenly identifying the Earl of Oxford as Geoffrey de Lucy and had erroneously including him in my documents and postings as having commanded the Left Ward.  This was wrong and I apologise if this has inconvenienced anyone.  In fact, the real Earl of Oxford and commander of the Left Ward was Robert de Vere. I have a particularly interesting figure for him and will post his heraldry with a dedicated article to the man in the near future.
 
In the meantime, I will continue to build on my research and attempt to GET IT RIGHT!