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Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster

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Henry of Grosmont

Henry of Grosmont, from the Bruges Garter Book (1430) by William


Duke of Lancaster, Earl of Lancaster and Leicester

Predecessor Henry, 3rd Earl

Successor John of Gaunt,, 4th Earl,

Earl later 1st Duke of Lancaster

Born c. 1310

Grosmont Castle

Grosmont, Monmouthshire

Died 23 March 1361 (aged 5051)


Leicester Castle

Leicester, Leicestershire

Burial Collegiate Church of the Annunciation of Our Lady of

the Newarke, Leicester

Spouse Isabella de Beaumont

Issue Maud, Countess of Leicester

Blanche, Duchess of Lancaster

House Plantagenet

Father Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster

Mother Maud Chaworth

Henry of Grosmont

Allegiance England

Battles/wars Hundred Years' War

Battle of Sluys

Battle of Auberoche

Siege of Calais

Battle of Winchelsea

Northern Crusades

Awards Order of the Garter

Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster, 4th Earl of Leicester and Lancaster, KG[a] (c.
1310 23 March 1361), also Earl of Derby, was a member of the English nobility in the 14th
century, and a prominent English diplomat, politician, and soldier. The son and heir of Henry, 3rd
Earl of Lancaster, and Maud Chaworth, he became one of Edward III's most trusted captains in
the early phases of the Hundred Years' War and distinguished himself with victory in the Battle of
Auberoche. He was a founding member and the second Knight of the Order of the Garter in
1348,[1] and in 1351 was created duke. Grosmont was also the author of the book Livre de seyntz
medicines, a highly personal devotional treatise. He is remembered as one of the founders and
early patrons of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, which was established by two of the guilds of
the town in 1352.


1Family background and early life

2Service in France
3Duke of Lancaster
o 3.1Further prestige
4Private life
9External links

Family background and early life[edit]

Grosmont's uncle, Thomas of Lancaster, was the son and heir of Edward I's brother Edmund
Crouchback. Through his inheritance and a fortunate marriage, Thomas became the wealthiest
peer in England, but constant quarrels with King Edward II led to his execution in 1322.[2]Having
no heir, Thomas's possessions and titles went to his younger brother Henry Grosmont's father.
Earl Henry of Lancaster assented to the deposition of Edward II in 1327, but did not long stay in
favour with the regency of Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer. When Edward III took personal
control of the government in 1330, relations with the Crown improved, but by this time the older
Henry was already struggling with poor health and blindness.[3]
Little is known of Grosmont's early years, but that he was born at Grosmont
Castle in Grosmont, Monmouthshire,
Monmouthshire Wales,, and that he was born c. 1310, not around the turn of
the century as previously held.[4] According to his own memoirs,irs, he was better at martial arts than
at academic subjects, and did not learn to read until later in life.[5] In 1330 he was knighted, and
represented his father in parliament
iament.. The next year he is recorded as participating in a
royal tournament at Cheapside..[4]
In 1333 he took part in Edward's Scottish campaign, though it is unclear whether he was present
at the great English victory at the Battle of Halidon Hill.[6] After further service in the north, he was
enant in Scotland in 1336.[4] The next year he was one of the six men
appointed the King's lieutenant
Edward III promoted to the higher levels of the peerage. One of his father's les lesser titles, that
of Earl of Derby,, was bestowed upon Grosmont.[7]

Service in France[edit]]
With the outbreak of the Hundred Years' War in 1337, Grosmont's attention was turned towards
France. He took part in several diplomatic missions and minor campaigns and was present at the
great English victory in the naval Battle of Sluys in 1340.[8] Later the same year, he was required
to commit himself as hostage in the Low Countries for the king's considerable debts. He
remained hostage until the next year and had to pay a large ransom for for his own release.[9] On his
return he was made the king's lieutenant in the north and stayed at Roxburgh until 1342. The next
years he spent in diplomatic negotiations in the Low Countries, Castile and Avignon
In 1345 Edward III was planning a major assault on France. A three-pronged
three pronged attack would have
the Earl of Northampton attacking from Brittany, the king himself from Flanders
Flanders, while Grosmont
was dispatched to Aquitaine to prepare a campaign in the south.[4] Moving rapidly through the
country, he confronted the Comte dIsle at Auberoche on 21 October and there achieved a victory
described as "the greatest single achievement of Lancaster's entire military career".[10] The
ransom from the prisoners has been estimated at 50,000.[11] The next year, while Edward was
carrying out his Crcy campaign, Grosmont laid siege to, and captured,
capt Poitiers
Poitiers, before returning
home to England in 1347.[4]

Duke of Lancaster[edit

Coats of Arms of Edmund Crouchback, Earl of Lancaster, and his successors

In 1345, while Grosmont was in France, his father died. The younger Henry was now Earl of
Lancaster the wealthiest and most powerful peer of the realm. After participating in the Siege of
Calais in 1347, the king honoured Lancaster by including him as a founding knight of the Order of
the Garter in 1348.[12] A few years later, in 1351, Edward bestowed an even greater honour on
Lancaster when he created him Duke of Lancaster. The title of duke was of relatively new origin
existe previously.[b]
in England; only one other ducal title existed
In addition to this, Lancaster was given palatinate status for the county of Lancashire
Lancashire, which
entailed a separate administration independent of the crown. This grant was quite exceptional in
English history; only two other counties palatine existed: Durham, which was an ancient
ecclesiastical palatinate, and Chester, which was crown property.
It is a sign of Edward's high regard for Lancaster that he would bestow such extensive privileges
on him. The two men were second cousins through their great-grandfather Henry III and
practically coeval (Edward was born in 1312), so it is natural to assume that a strong sense of
camaraderie existed between them. Another factor that might have influenced the king's decision
was the fact that Henry had no male heir, so the grant was made for the Earl's lifetime only, and
not intended to be hereditary.[4]
Further prestige[edit]
Lancaster spent the 1350s intermittently campaigning and negotiating peace treaties with the
French. In 1350 he was present at the naval victory at Winchelsea, where he allegedly saved the
lives of the Black Prince and John of Gaunt.[14] The years 1351-2 he spent on crusade in Prussia.
It was here that a quarrel with Otto, Duke of Brunswick, almost led to a duel between the two
men, narrowly averted by the intervention of the French king, John II.[15] In the later half of the
decade campaigning in France resumed. After a chevauche in Normandy in 1356 and the siege
of Rennes in 1358, Lancaster participated in the last great offensive of the first phase of the
Hundred Years' War: the Rheims campaign of 135960. Then he was appointed principal
negotiator for the Treaty of Brtigny, where the English achieved very favourable terms.[4]
After returning to England in November 1360, he fell ill early the next year, and died at Leicester
Castle on 23 March. It is likely that the cause of death was the plague, which that year was
making a second visitation of England.[16] He was buried in the Church of the Annunciation of Our
Lady of the Newarke, Leicester, the church which he had built within the religious and charitable
institution founded by his father next to Leicester Castle, and where he had re-buried his father
some years previously.[17]

Private life[edit]
Lancaster was married to Isabella, daughter of Henry, Lord Beaumont, in 1330. The two had no
sons, but two daughters: Maud and Blanche. While Maud was married to William I, Duke of
Bavaria, Blanche married Edward III's son John of Gaunt. Gaunt ended up inheriting Lancaster's
possessions and ducal title, but it was not until 1377, when the dying King Edward III was largely
incapacitated, that he was able to restore the palatinate rights for the county of Lancaster. When
Gaunt's son Henry of Bolingbroke usurped the crown in 1399 and became Henry IV, the vast
Lancaster inheritance, including the Lordship of Bowland, was merged with the crown as
the Duchy of Lancaster.[18]
We know more about Lancaster's character than of most of his contemporaries through his
memoirs, the Livre de seyntz medicines (Book of the Holy Doctors). This book is a highly
personal treatise on matters of religion and piety, but it also contains details of historical interest.
It, among other things, revealed that Lancaster, at the age of 44 when he wrote the book in 1354,
suffered from gout.[4] The book is primarily a devotional work though; it is organized around seven
wounds which Henry claims to have, representing the seven sins. Lancaster confesses to his
sins, explains various real and mythical medical remedies in terms of their theological symbolism,
and exhorts the reader to greater morality.[19]

[show]Ancestors of Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancas

a. ^ In his early years Henry was named, as was the custom of the age, after his birthplace, Grosmont. In
1336 he was invested with one of his father's minor Earldoms that of Derby, and became Henry, Earl of
Derby. Then, with his father's death in 1345, he finally became Henry of Lancaster the main family name
and title (Earl of Lancaster until 1351, Duke of Lancaster thenceforth). However, to avoid confusion with the
father, it is customary to refer to the son as Henry of Grosmont throughout his career.
b. ^ This was the Duke of Cornwall, a title created for Edward, the Black Prince, in 1337.

1. Jump up^ Beltz 1841, p. cxlix.
2. Jump up^ For a comprehensive biography of Thomas of
Lancaster, see *Maddicott, J. R. (1970). Thomas of Lancaster,
13071322: A study in the reign of Edward II. London: Oxford
University Press. ISBN 0-19-821837-0.
3. Jump up^ Waugh, Scott L. (September 2004). "Henry of
Lancaster, third Earl of Lancaster and third Earl of Leicester
(c.12801345)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Retrieved 2007-08-04.
4. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i W. M. Ormrod, 'Henry of Lancaster'.
5. Jump up^ Fowler, p. 26.
6. Jump up^ Fowler, p. 30.
7. Jump up^ McFarlane, K.B. (1973). The Nobility of Later Medieval
England. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 1589. ISBN 0-19-822362-
8. Jump up^ Fowler, p. 34.
9. Jump up^ Fowler, pp. 357.
10. Jump up^ Fowler, p. 58-9.
11. Jump up^ Fowler, p. 61.
12. Jump up^ McKisack, p. 252.
13. Jump up^ Fowler, pp. 1734.
14. Jump up^ Fowler, pp. 935.
15. Jump up^ Fowler, pp. 1069.
16. Jump up^ Fowler, pp. 2178.
17. Jump up^ Charles James Billson, Mediaeval Leicester, (Leicester,
18. Jump up^ Brown, A. L. and Henry Summerson (May
2006). "Henry IV (13661413)". Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography. Retrieved 2007-08-04.
19. Jump up^ Fowler, pp. 1936.

Arnauld, E.J. (ed.) (1940). Le livre de seyntz medicines: The
Unpublished Devotional Treatise of Henry of Lancaster. Oxford:
Beltz, George Frederick (1841). Memorials of the Order of the Garter.
London: William Pickering. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
McKisack, M. (1959). The Fourteenth Century: 13071399. Oxford:
Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-821712-9.
Fowler, Kenneth Alan (1969). The King's Lieutenant: Henry of
Grosmont, First Duke of Lancaster, 13101361. London. ISBN 0-236-
Prestwich, M.C. (2005). Plantagenet England: 12251360. Oxford:
Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-822844-9.
Ormrod, W. M. (October 2005). "Henry of Lancaster, first Duke of
Lancaster (c.13101361)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Retrieved 2007-07-31.

External links[edit]
Online version of Livre de seyntz medicines (in the
original Anglo-Norman)

Political offices

Succeeded by
Preceded by Lord High Steward
John of Gaunt, Duke of
Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster 13451361

Peerage of England

Duke of Lancaster
First creation
Earl of Lincoln
New creation
Fifth Creation

Earl of Derby
Succeeded by
John of Gaunt, Duke of
Earl of Leicester Lancaster
Preceded by
Earl of Lancaster
Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster


Dukes of Lancaster



00 0719 3037


House of Plantagenet
Dukes of Lancaster
Lord High Stewards
Knights of the Garter
1361 deaths
14th-century deaths from plague (disease)
14th-century English people
Medieval Christian devotional writers
English people of the Wars of Scottish Independence
Male Shakespearean characters
Earls of Leicester (1265)
Earls of Derby
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