Clare, Gilbert de (1243-1295) (DNB00)

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CLARE, GILBERT de, called the 'Red,' ninth Earl of Clare, seventh Earl of Hertford, and eighth Earl of Gloucester (1243-1295), the son of Richard, eighth earl of Clare [q. v.], by his wife, Maud, daughter of John de Lacy, earl of Lincoln, was born at Christchurch in Hampshire, 2 Sept. 1243 (Tewkes. Ann. 130). In the early part of 1253 he was married to Alice of Angoulême, Henry III's niece, and, though but nine years old, is said to have taken part in the Paris tournament held in honour of the occasion (Matt. Paris, v. 366; Tewkes. Ann. 152; Dugdale, Baronage, i. 213). He succeeded to his father's estates in July 1262, and became Earl of Gloucester. Early in 1263 (22 March) he refused to take the oath of allegiance to Prince Edward at Westminster. De Montfort returned to England about 25 April, and with him Gloucester acted in the Oxford parliament (20 May), when the opponents of the provisions were declared public enemies. Shortly afterwards, being dissatisfied with the king's attitude, he helped De Montfort in his attack on the Bishop of Hereford (Dunst. Ann. 220–2; Rymer, i. 425; Wykes, i. 133), but held aloof from politics for a few months afterwards. He was probably among the many nobles who, according to Rishanger (Camd. Soc. 15), went over to the royal side about October (cf. Wykes, 140). But by the early part of April 1264 he must have been in open rebellion against the king, for he seems to have conducted the massacre of the Jews in Canterbury about the same time that de Montfort was slaughtering those of London (c. 10 April). A little later Henry seized his castle of Kingston on his way to the relief of Rochester, and very shortly after this captured the Countess of Gloucester at Tunbridge Castle. The lady, however, being the king's cousin, was set free (Dunst. Ann. 230; Rishanger, Rolls Series, 22). Gloucester was now recognised as the second leader of the baronial party. The negotiations immediately preceding the battle of Lewes were conducted in his name and that of De Montfort, and both were publicly denounced as traitors on 12 May. Just before the engagement (14 May) Simon knighted Gilbert and his brother Thomas (Ann. Wint. 451). In the actual battle the young earl led the centre of the baronial army (Prothero, 277); and it was to him that the king surrendered his sword when the day was lost, knowing him to be ‘nobiliorem et ceteris potentiorem’ (Wav. Ann. 357).

From this moment the Earls of Leicester and Gloucester were supreme. The mise of Lewes contained a special clause exempting them from any punishment for their conduct (Rishanger, Camd. Soc. 38). By the arrangement of 9 June they were empowered to nominate a council of nine, in concert with the Bishop of Chichester (Rymer, 444). On 20 Nov. Guido, the papal legate, excommunicated Gloucester along with other rebels (ib. 447). Ten days later (30 Nov.) the first mutterings of disagreement between Leicester and Gloucester may have broken out at the Oxford parliament, which was called to discuss the conduct of the royal partisans who had taken refuge in the marches (Oseney Ann. 154). Gilbert was with the king and Simon at Gloucester when the marcher lords were banished to Ireland for a year. Owing to the quarrel of the two earls the lords neglected to obey the order of exile, and by Gilbert's connivance remained in the kingdom (Lib. de Ant. Leg. 70; Wykes, 159). According to Robert of Gloucester (550) it was owing to Earl Gilbert's opposition to Leicester's measures that the great London parliament (14 Jan. 1265) was summoned. The quarrel was already notorious, and Simon openly charged Gloucester with protecting the marchers. According to one chronicler a reconciliation was now effected; but at the best it was only momentary (Ann. Wav. 358; Wykes, 159; Robert of Gloucester, 152). A rumour went abroad that Leicester meditated shutting up Gilbert in prison. The young earl was required to find surety for his future conduct; a tournament that he had made arrangements for holding with young De Montfort at Dunstable was abruptly forbidden (17 Feb.), and Llewellyn was suffered to ravage his Welsh lands (Wykes, 159; Rymer, 450; Wav. Ann. 358). Indignant at such treatment, the earl fled to the marches.

Besides the general complaint that Simon monopolised too much of the government, Gilbert complained that the forfeited lands were not fairly divided, that the king was led about at the beck of the Earl of Leicester, and that the prisoners made by himself and his men had been taken from them. Two charges against the Earl of Leicester are specially noteworthy: first, that the royal castles were kept in Leicester's hands, and garrisoned by French troops; secondly, that the provisions of Oxford were not properly carried out. These complaints reappear frequently in Gilbert's history, and seem in later years to have inspired his whole political conduct (Rishanger, Rolls Series, 32; Trivet, 263; Ann. Wig. 453; Lib. de Ant. Leg. 73).

From a comparison of texts it would seem that Gilbert fled to the marches between 17 Feb. and 24 Feb. (Wav. Ann. 358, with which cf. Rymer, 450); but the feud does not seem to have been recognised till he refused to appear at a tournament to be held at Northampton (13 April or 21 April), immediately after which (25 April) the king, Prince Edward, and Simon started for the marches (Dunstable, 238; Wykes, 161–2; Wav. 361), and entered Gloucester, from which town they held a fifteen days' negotiation with Gilbert, who was then in the Forest of Dean. On 12 May the two earls were nominally once more at peace (Wav. 361–2; cf. Rymer, 455). It was probably between May 12 and 20 that Gilbert attempted to seize the king and Simon on their way to Hereford; but the attempt failed, and there does not appear to have been open warfare till the escape of Prince Edward (26 May). At Ludlow the prince and the young earl met; the former took an oath that, if victorious, he would renew the ‘old good laws,’ and remove the aliens from the royal council and the custody of the royal castles. By 8 June Gilbert and Edward were both proclaimed rebels, and about the same time got possession of Gloucester (Pat. Rolls, 37 a; Wav. 361–2; Lib. de Ant. Leg. 73; Rishanger, Camd. Soc. 43; Rymer, 456-7; Wykes, 164-5). In the ensuing campaign, Gloucester’s most brilliant opierations were; the destruction of the Bristol ships (by which De Montfort had hoped to escape from Newport) and the Severn bridges, a movement which confined Leicester to the west of this river (Wykes, 160; Rishanger, Camd. Soc. 43). According to more than one chronicler Gloucester shared in Prince Edward’s victory at Kenilworth (1 Aug.), and he certainly, led the second division of the army at Evesham. His previous military experience with De Montfort seems to have had much to do with Edward’s method of marshalling his troops (Rishanger, Camd. Soc. 44-5; Dunst. Ann. 288). It was the attack of Gloucester that decided the day (John de Oxenedes, 229; Prothero, 342).

A month later Gilbert was present at the Winchester parliament, when the rebel lords were disinherited of their estates (8 Sept.) Rishanger declares that it was mainly owing to the greed of Mortimer and Gloucester, who were ‘gaping’ after the forfeited lands, that so harsh.; sentence was pronounced, contrary 'to the wish of the king, who was inclined to mercy (Camd. Soc. 49, with which cf. 51). But such a charge is alien from his general character, and is probably merely an expression of the chronicler's personal hostility. The same charge is repeated with details when young Simon presented himself at Northampton (c. Christmas, 1265). Gloucester was then accused of being envious when the king gave his nephew the kiss of peace, and of being the great obstacle to his complete pardon: and all this, according to Rishanger, because he dreaded the vengeance young Simon would take for his father's death (Rishanger, Rolls Series, 32, and Camd. Soc. 51). Gloucester next year accompanied Prince Edward in his expedition against the Cinque Ports-a movement probably induced by the fact that it was to this neighbourhood that De Montfort had escaped-and, at the fall of Pevensey (c. 7 March 1266), saved the life of a rebel knight (whom Edward would have hanged) in the hopes of inducing others to surrender by such an act of mercy (War, 369). It is probable that Gloucester looked upon the younger Montforts as aliens. and demanded their extradition as part of the political programme which he had set himself to work out. Added to which he may have had something of a personal grudge (cf. Lib. de Ant. Leg. 44).

About 24 June Henry laid siege to the disinherited barons at Kenilworth, and three months later Gilbert was appointed one of the twelve commissioners for settling the terms of surrender (Statutes of Realm, i. 12: Dunst. Ann. 242). Their decision was given 31 Oct., and from this moment Gloucester took the side of the vanquished. He probably hoped to secure more favourable terms than were actually given. So great was the enmity of the extreme party against him, that it is said Mortimer conspired to slay him (ib. 532, and before 12 Dec. Gilbert fearing for his life withdrew to his own estates (ib, with which cf. John de Oxen. 232; Walt. Heming. 327).

Henry at once called the great lords to Oxford for Christmas, in the hopes of making peace between the two nobles. Gloucester was summoned to London for 5 Jan., but refused to come, being engaged, it was said, in raising forces on the Welsh borders for a war against Mortimer (Rishanger, Camd. Soc. 59). Before the St. Edmunds Parliament (20 Jan.) he sent to the king's messengers his demands, which ran on the old lines: 1. The removal of the aliens. 2. The fulfilment of the provisions of Oxford and the promises of Evesham. 3. The restitution of their lands to all the disinherited on payment of penalties assessed by jury in proportion to the offence. The earl disclaimed all intention of warring against the king or the prince (Richanger, Camd. Soc. 59; Dunst. Ann. 245). A sudden march from the Welsh borders made Gilbert master of London, to which town he was admitted (8 April) on showing letters patent from the king. Next day he laid siege to the papal legate in the Tower. On 12 April he was joined by D'Eyville and others of the disinherited lords from the north, whom, however, Gilbert would not admit into the city till after Easter (17 April 1267). He allowed no plundering among his followers, but countenanced the deposition of the great men of the city, and the tempprary institution of what a contemporary ndon chronicler calls a ‘commune’ of the ‘homines minuti.’ Henry at once came south with his army, rescued the legate, apparently by water, but, being unable to effect an entrance within the walls, encamped at Stratford. After several weeks a peace was concluded between the earl and the king, owing to the mediation of the king of the Romans (16 June). It is to Gilbert's credit that he not only secured liberal terms for himself and the 'disinherited,’ but received the royal pardon for those citizens who had taken 'his side (Lib. de Ant. Leg. 90-3; Rishanger; John of Oxenedes, 233, &c.: Wykes, 205, &c.)

Shortly afterwards the earl was reconciled to Prince Edward at Windsor (Lib. de Ant. Leg. 95), and 24 June 1268 they both took the cross at Northampton (Rishanger, Rolls Series. 59; Wykes, 218). Towards the end of next year Gloucester refused to attend a parliament) on the plea that Prince Edward was watching an opportunity of imprisoning him ; and the king of the Romans' intervention was once more required. By his decision (17 July 1270) the earl was to take ship for the Holy Land immediately after Prince Edward under in of forfeiting twenty thousand marks. Tlie prince sailed on 20 Aug., but Gloucester seems to have avoided both the expedition and the penalty (Wykes, 229-31, &c. ; Ann, Wint. 109). In January 1271 the earl was mainly instrumental in securing the restoration of all their estates to the 'disinherited' (ib. 110).

On the death of Henry III Gloucester was foremost in declaring his fealty to Edward, in accordance with the oath he made to the dying king (16 Nov.) (Lib. de Ant. Leg. ii. 162, 156 ; Ann, Wint, 112). Next day (17 Nov.), in company with the Archbishop of York, he entered the city and proclaimed peace to all, both Jews and christians, thus securing, for the first time in English history, the acknowledgment of the accession of the eldest son of the king immediately on the death of his father. It is curious to find the earl once more supporting the claims of Walter Hervey, who had been elected mayor of London by the 'communitas,' against those of Philip le Tayllur, the candidate appointed by the city magnates. Here he seems again to be advocating the cause of the weaker citizens, as he had done in 1267, and so helping to sustain a popular movement, which appears to have originated in the times of Simon de Montfort. It was at last decided (18 Nov.) that Walter Hervey should take office after promising that he would not injure any of those who had opposed his election (Lib. de Ant. Leg. 149-63).

It was about this time that Gilbert seems to have first contemplated a divorce from his first wife, Alice, to whom he had been married when a boy. She appears to have leaned rather to the king's party than to her husband's. In the early part of 1267 she sent from London news of her husband's descent on the city to the king (Dunst. Ann. 246). According to John de Oxenedes he was divorced from her at Norwich on 17 July 1271 (p. 239). But the transaction does not seem to have been completed till nearly twenty years later, as documents in Rymer, dated May 1283 and May 1286, speak of a papal dispensation as being still necessary before the second marriage with the Princess Joan can take place (Rymer, ii. 244, 299), and discuss the dowry of the discarded Alice. The second wedding took place on 30 April 1290; but the earl seems not to have been entirely reconciled to his new father-in-law even then, as he at once left Westminster for his castle of Tunbridge (Dunst. Ann. 368 ; Ann. Wig. 602 ; Green, ii. 330, with which cf. the 'abducta uxor' of ^7171. Oseneg, 326). In July he and his wife took the cross at the hands of Archbishop Peckam, and, if we may interpret the chronicler's words literally, actually started for the Holy Land (Cotton, 177-8).

In 1276 Gilbert was summoned against Llewellyn of Wales (Rymer, ii. 73), with whom, though his ally in 1267, he had been engaged in disputes in the Westminster courts some five years previouslv (26 Oct. 1271) about Caerphilly Castle (Pat. Rolls, 43 b; Brut, 366). In 1278 he is found disputing -with the Bishop of Hereford as to the right of hunting in Malvern Hills (Ann. Wig. 476). In December he received a summons to take the field against Llewellyn (Rymer, ii. 76). Four years later he was serving with his soldiery near Lantilowhir, on which occasion (16 June) the king's nephew, William de Valence, was slain (Rishanger, Rolls Series, 100). Next year (1283) he was summoned to Shrewsbury, to assist in the trial of Llewellyn's brother David (Rymer, ii. 200, 247). With Rhys ap Meredith, prince of Ystrad Towy, against whom he led the English baronage, his relations seem to have been more ambiguous; so much so that in 1287 he was suspected of affording a shelter to this prince on his Irish estates, although he had been appointed (July) one of the two leaders of the English expedition against him (Wykes, 311 ; Rymer, ii. 342 ; cf. Rishanger, 144). Eight years later (1294-96) all his Welsh tenants rose up against the Earl of Gloucester, and drove him out of Wales with his wife. Rhys ap Morgan and Maddos appears to have profited by this opportunity ; and when Gilbert took steps for recovering his estates he found that his greater tenants were unwilling to serve under him. Finally the king was forced to come and take the rebellious vassals into his peace against the earl's will (Ann. Dunst, 387 ; Ann. Wig. 626).

Gilbert incurred the king's displeasure by levying private war against the Earl of Norfolk, who in 1276 had got jpossession of Brecknock, which the Earl of Gloucester claimed as his own (Ann, Cambr, 366). About Ascension day 1291 both nobles were consigned to prison, and placed 'in misericordiâ regis' for 1,000l. and 10,000l. respectively (Ann. Dunst, 370 ; Abbrev, Plac, 286). The same year he was present at Norham, where Edward decided the claims to the Scotch crown. He died on 7 Dec. 1296, leaving one son, Gilbert (1291-1314) [q.v.], and three daughters, Eleanor, Marret, and Elizabeth [q. v.] Eleanor mamed (1) Hugh le Deepenser, (2) William le Zouch of Mortimer; Margaret married (1) Piers Gaveston, (2) Hugh d'Audley, afterwards Earl of Gloucester; Elizabeth married (1) John de Burgh, earl of Ulster, (2) Theobald de Verdun, (3) Roger d'Amory (Ann. Wig. 524; Escheat Rolls, i. 271; cf. Knyghton, 2584, and Trokelowe, 86; Green, ii. 360, &c.; see Gilbert De Clare, tenth earl).

Gilbert de Clare was the most powerful English noble of his day. Besides his immense estates in Wales and Ireland, he possessed lands in twenty-two English counties (Escheat Rolls, i. 131). In his early years he appears to have been very fickle in his political attachments, and want of loyalty to his leaders was strikingly exemplified in his conduct towards Simon de Montfort and Prince Edward. There was something chivalrous, however, in his attitude towards the disinherited barons, and in his care to secure the safety of his adherents among the London citizens. His position as leader of the baronage during the later years of his life is best illustrated by the events of 1288, when, on Edward's demand of a subsidy, he refused, as the spokesman of his fellow-magnates, to grant anything till the king's return (Wykes, iv. 316). The ‘Chronicon de Lanercost’ (p. 168) describes him as ‘prudens in consiliis, strenuus in armis, et audacissimus in defensione sui juris;’ and ascribes to him the famous story of the rusty sword, which is more commonly assigned to Earl Warenne. He was buried at Tewkesbury, where his picture, painted on glass, is still to be seen (Ann. Wig. 624; Green, ii. 343).

[Annals of Margam, Tewkesbury, Winchester, Waverley, Burton, Dunstable, Wykes, Oseney and Worcester (Wigorn), in Luard's Annales Monastici, i. ii. iii. iv. (Rolls Series); Rishanger, ed. Ryley (Rolls Series) and Halliwell for Camden Society; Matthew Paris, ed. Luard (Rolls Series); John of Oxenedes, ed. Ellis (Rolls Series); Annales Cambriæ and Brut y Tywysogion, ed. Williams ab Ithel (Rolls Series); Liber de Antiquis Legibus, ed. Stapleton (Camd. Soc.); Rymer's Fœdera, i. ii. ed. 1704, i. ed. 1816; Statutes of Realm, i. (Patent Rolls); Escheat Rolls; Trivet (Eng. Hist. Soc.); Walter of Hemingford (Eng. Hist. Soc.); Stubbs's Select Charters; Prothero's Simon de Montfort; and authorities cited above.]

T. A. A.