William de Valence (DNB00)

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WILLIAM de Valence, titular Earl of Pembroke (d. 1296), was the fourth son of Isabella of Angoulême, widow of King John, by her second husband, Hugh X of Lusignan, count of La Marche. He took his surname from his birthplace, the Cistercian abbey of Valence (Flores Hist. iii. 672), a few miles south of Lusignan. In March 1242, when Hugh X provided for the partition of his lands after his death, among his numerous children, William was assigned as his share Montignac in the Angoumois, and Bellac and Champagnac in La Marche (G. E. C[okayne], Complete Peerage, vi. 204). The death of Isabella in 1246 and the desperate fortunes of their father after the French conquest of Poitou left the prospects of the young Lusignans very gloomy in their own home. Accordingly in 1247 three of them cheerfully accepted the invitation of their half-brother Henry III to establish themselves in England. William went to Henry's court along with his brothers Guy and Aymer [see Aymer, d. 1260] and his sister Alice, subsequently the wife of John de Warenne, earl of Surrey or Warenne (1231?–1304) [q. v.] They landed at Dover along with the papal legate William, cardinal-bishop of Sabina, and were most affectionately received by the king, who now made it his chief care to procure for them ample provision. William, though still very young and not yet a knight (Matt. Paris, iv. 627), obtained a great position by the rich match which his half-brother arranged for him. On 13 Aug. 1247 he was married to Joan de Munchensi, the only surviving child of the wealthy Baron Warin de Munchensi of Swanscombe by his first wife, Joan, fifth daughter and ultimately coheiress of William Marshal, first earl of Pembroke [q. v.] Joan and her only son John were already dead, and the whole of her share of the great Marshal inheritance, divided into five portions on the death of Earl Anselm, her last brother, in 1245, was therefore actually belonging to the bride. It included the castle and lordship of Pembroke, possession of which gave her a sort of claim to the palatine earldom, whose regalian rights she was thus enabled to exercise. The Irish liberty of Wexford was her other chief share of the Marshal estates. These latter were delivered to William and Joan on their marriage day (Cal. Doc. Ireland, 1171–1251, p. 433). Numerous other grants were bestowed on the young couple, including one of 500l. a year in land (Cal. Rot. Pat. p. 21. For other grants up to 1258, including the castle of Goderich, the keepership of the manors of Bayford and Essendon, and the wardenship of the town and castle of Hertford, see Doyle, Official Baronage, iii. 8; Rotuli Cartarum, pp. 65–72, 83–8; Excerpta e Rot. Fin. pp. 216 and 264; Cal. Rot. Pat. pp. 24–30. In 1251 his custody of Hertford, Bayford, and Essendon was converted into the lordship of those possessions).

It soon became the chief ambition of William to put himself in the position of the old Earls of Pembroke. It has been much disputed when he became Earl of Pembroke. The probability seems that he was never formally created earl, but that, as exercising all the rights of earl over the ‘comitatus’ of Pembroke as protector of his wife's inheritance, he was loosely called ‘Earl of Pembroke’ very occasionally in early years, but more frequently as his position became more established. His own position seems to have been that he claimed the comitatus as an inheritance of his wife (e.g. Rot. Parl. i. 30–2, 35; cf. Pike, Const. Hist. of the House of Lords, pp. 66–7). He is occasionally called earl in official documents from 1251 onwards, and is also called ‘comes de Valencia’ in February 1254 (Rôles Gascons, i. 388) and in 1258 (Waverley Annals, p. 349); but no chronicler calls him Earl of Pembroke until 1264 (Rishanger, p. 26, Rolls Ser.), and even up to his death his usual title is ‘Sir William de Valence, brother [afterwards uncle] of the king.’ It is the same with his son, Aymer de Valence [see Aymer, d. 1324], who is not usually described as earl until the death of his mother, the real countess, in 1317. The probabilities suggest that William was never much more than titular Earl of Pembroke, while his near kinship to the crown made the need of such a title less necessary (cf. however Mr. G. W. Watson's remarks in Complete Peerage, vi. 206, which also point to a negative conclusion; Nicolas, Hist. Peerage, ed. Courthope, p. 376, assigns the title to about 1264; Doyle, Official Baronage, iii. 8, gives 1251 as its date). William's alien origin and rich marriage involved him in an unpopularity which was soon intensified by his pride and violence. Henry dubbed him knight on 13 Oct. 1247 in Westminster Abbey (Matt. Paris, iv. 640–4). Though still ‘ætate tener et viribus imperfectus,’ his eagerness to win distinction in tournaments led him to break the king's orders by striving to hold a joust about Northampton (ib. iv. 649, cf. v. 54). He was ‘egregie bajulatus’ on 4 March 1248 at a tournament at Newbury (ib. v. 17, 18), but won a signal triumph in 1249 at Brackley (ib. v. 83). He was always much attached to such encounters, and ransacked the continent to procure choice horses (Deputy Keeper of Publ. Rec. 46th Rep. p. 308). On 2 Oct. 1249 he was appointed joint ambassador to France (Fœdera, i. 270). His father having died on crusade, he took the cross on 6 March 1250 (Matt. Paris, v. 101). This gave the king three years later an excuse for advancing to him 2,200 marks from the crusading funds (Rôles Gascons, i. 388).

In 1253 William accompanied Richard de Clare, seventh earl of Gloucester [q. v.], to France on the occasion of Gilbert of Clare's marriage to William's niece Alice of Lusignan. He was defeated in a tournament, and ridiculed by the French for his effeminacy, if a hostile witness can be trusted (ib. v. 367). In November 1253 and September 1254 he was in Aquitaine with Henry III, where his expenses gave excuse for fresh grants in his favour (Rôles Gascons, i. 242, 314, 413, 465).

In 1255, on the death of his father-in-law, Warin de Munchensi, the king gave Valence the custody of the heir, his wife's half-brother, William de Munchensi (d. 1289) [q. v.] Strange tales are told by Matthew Paris of his boastfulness, pride, and violence. Hertford and its neighbourhood were especially exposed to his outrages (Matt. Paris, v. 343–4). He bore special ill will to the monks of St. Albans (ib. v. 229). His deeds were not only unlawful but unknightly. He advised Henry to undertake his rashest measures, such as the acceptance of the Sicilian crown for his son Edmund. His close association with the Lord Edward was regarded as an evil omen (ib. v. 679). He joined his brother Aymer in his quarrel with Archbishop Boniface and the Savoyards, for which he incurred excommunication. But this, though it made him odious to Queen Eleanor, did not destroy his influence at court.

Conflicting interests in West Wales brought William into violent opposition to Simon de Montfort [q. v.] In 1257 his steward raided Leicester's lands (ib. v. 634). As Simon became hostile to the crown their enmity became more intense. In the London parliament of April 1258 he called Simon an ‘old traitor,’ and a personal encounter was with difficulty prevented. Meanwhile grants were still lavished upon him. Naturally no cry was more general among the barons than for the expulsion of the Poitevins, and William was looked upon as the chief of the gang. How much confidence Henry placed in them is shown by William and two of his brothers being put with his brother-in-law Warenne among the twelve nominees of the king included in the reforming committee of twenty-four appointed by the Mad parliament. All four refused to swear to observe the provisions of Oxford, and after fresh altercations between William and Simon, the Poitevins fled from Oxford. Unable to reach the coast, they threw themselves into Aymer's castle of Wolvesey at Winchester, whither they were pursued by the barons. Abandoned by Warenne, William and his brothers were forced to negotiate with the besiegers. Not illiberal terms were offered them, and they agreed to withdraw from the realm and abandon their castles if they were allowed to remain possessed of their lands, and to take six thousand marks of their treasure away with them. William's share of this was three thousand marks. On 5 July they received safe-conducts and went to Dover by way of London. Either there or at Winchester they were suspected of attempting to poison some of the nobles at a banquet (Matt. Paris, v. 702). Their baggage was searched by the castellan of Dover, who confiscated their valuables, while other sums found at the Temple and in other houses of religion were also seized (ib. v. 704). If Matthew Paris's account be literally true, it suggests that the barons were not very scrupulous in respecting the conditions arranged at Winchester. On 14 July William and his brothers crossed the Channel. Henry de Montfort followed them, and, raising troops, kept them for some time in a state of quasi-siege at Boulogne. Their plight was the worse since Queen Margaret of France resented their hostility to her sister and her uncles (ib. v. 703). At last, however, Louis IX extended his protection to them, and, releasing them from Boulogne, allowed them to cross France to Poitou (ib. v. 710). In England their enemies deprived William's wife Joan of part of her estates, allowing her only such of her own inheritance as she had possessed before her marriage, lest she should send supplies to her exiled husband (ib. v. 721); she left England in Advent and joined her husband (ib. v. 672).

William's exile from his adopted country did not last long. In the winter of 1259–1260, when Henry III and Simon de Montfort were both at Paris, a reconciliation was effected. Before Henry left England on 14 Nov. he begged Simon to make terms with his brothers, and the death of Aymer on 4 Dec. at Paris made agreement easier. William and Simon patched up a peace, the terms of which were afterwards disputed (Bémont, Simon de Montfort, p. 350, prints an interesting document from the Archives Nationales, which gives full details). In February 1260 he was one of Henry's agents in negotiating with the French (Fœdera, i. 394). About Easter 1261 William returned with Edward to England, where he was allowed to land on swearing to obey the provisions (Rishanger, p. 9, Rolls Ser.; Flores Hist. ii. 466), and on 30 April was fully restored by Henry III at Rochester (Cal. Rot. Pat. p. 33; Pauli, iii. 745, is here a year wrong). In 1262 William again attended Henry III to France (Foedera, i. 422), where he reconciled the king with the young Gilbert of Gloucester (Cont. Gerv. Cant. ii. 216). On 5 Feb. 1263 he was again ambassador to Louis (Royal Letters, ii. 239). In 1263 the Londoners devastated his lands (Wykes, p. 141). Early in 1264, under Edward's directions, he devastated the country round Oxford, and in April was with Henry at the siege of Northampton. On 14 May he fought for the king at Lewes, being stationed with Warenne under Edward on the right wing. He was one of those who escaped after the battle, with Warenne, to Pevensey, whence they crossed over to France. In England William's possessions were now forfeited, the custody of Pembroke Castle being on 6 June committed to Gloucester (Cal. Rot. Pat. p. 35). Early in May 1265 William landed with Warenne in Pembrokeshire with a strong force of crossbowmen and knights (Flores Hist. iii. 264). He joined Edward and Gloucester and took a large share in the royalist restoration, participating in the siege of Gloucester in June (Royal Letters, ii. 288), the attack on Kenilworth on 1 Aug. (Liber de Ant. Legibus, p. 74), and in the battle of Evesham. Next year, in May, he joined Warenne in attacking the monks and townsmen of Bury St. Edmunds (Cont. Flor. Wig. ii. 197). He was abundantly rewarded. His former lands and castles were restored. He was granted the wardship of Haverfordwest during Humphrey de Bohun's minority, and several forfeited estates, including that of his brother-in-law Munchensi, were transferred to him (for grants after 1265, see Rot. Cartarum, pp. 97–9). Henceforth he remained a good Englishman (Ann. Dunstaple, p. 400).

On 24 June 1268 William renewed his crusader's vow at Northampton, when Edward himself took the cross (Wykes, p. 218). He was in Ireland in the spring of 1270 (Cal. Doc. Ireland, 1252–84, p. 141), but on 20 Aug. he sailed for the Holy Land with Edward (Ann. Winchester, p. 109). He came back to London on 11 Jan. 1273, somewhat earlier than his nephew (Liber de Ant. Legibus, p. 156), bringing with him from Palestine a cross of gold and emeralds, which ultimately became the property of Westminster Abbey (Testamenta Vetusta, i. 100). He was one of the executors of the will drawn up by Edward at Acre on 18 June 1272 (Fœdera, i. 484).

Under Edward I William devoted much energy to increasing the limits and the jurisdiction of the Pembroke palatinate. This only included the region between Milford Haven and the Bristol Channel; but William strove to establish his supremacy over all the neighbouring marchers in a district somewhat wider than the modern Pembrokeshire. He was helped by his appointment on 12 May 1275 as constable of Cilgerran Castle and warden of St. Clears during pleasure at a rent of 40l. (Deputy Keeper of Publ. Rec. 44th Rep. p. 277). This attempt involved him in a series of lawsuits with Queen Eleanor—to whom the barony of Haverfordwest had been transferred—and others (see Cal. Pat. Rolls, 1281–92 pp. 330, 398, 1292–1301 pp. 49, 114; Rot. Parl. i. 30–2, 84, 138). In Archenfield and Gwent he improved his position when in July 1275 he obtained dispensations for marrying his daughter Isabella to John de Hastings (1262–1313) [q. v.], lord of Abergavenny, a minor (Cal. Papal Letters, 1198–1304, p. 450). On 6 July 1282 he received the custody of Abergavenny for the rest of his son-in-law's minority (Cal. Patent Rolls, 1281–1292, p. 30).

William's estates in Wales gave him a particular importance during the wars against Llewelyn. On 6 July 1282 he was appointed commander of the army of West Wales, which on 6 Dec. mustered before him at Carmarthen (Parl. Writs. i. 227, 244). This year his son William was slain near Llandeilo by the Welsh (Ann. Dunstaple, p. 292; Wykes, p. 289; Rishanger, p. 100). He was again summoned against the Welsh on 2 May 1283 at Carmarthen (Parl. Writs. i. 247). In the same year his capture of the Snowdonian stronghold of Bere secured the surrender of Davydd ap Gruffydd (Rishanger, p. 104). Before 1289 he built and endowed a hospital for the sick and poor at Tenby (cf. Cal. Papal Letters, 1198–1304, p. 503).

Valence was equally grasping in other directions than in Wales. William de Munchensi, who had soon got back his lands, died in 1289, whereupon Valence and his wife contested the legitimacy of Dionysia, his daughter and heiress, and obtained a papal bull to set aside her rights. The bishop of Worcester, however, pronounced her legitimate, and Edward was irritated at his uncle's unblushing attempt to make the pope's authority override not only the episcopal but also the royal jurisdiction. William and Joan got nothing by their action (Rot. Parl. i. 16, 38); but William received numerous grants, including, on 11 Nov. 1275, the custody of the heirs of Roger de Somery, on the condition of paying some of the king's debts (Deputy Keeper of Publ. Rec. 44th Rep. p. 277, 45th Rep. p. 345).

William was one of Edward I's council, and repeatedly took an important part in carrying out his policy in Aquitaine. When Edward intervened in 1273 in favour of the commune of Limoges in its war against its viscountess, William on 3 Sept. went to Limoges and received the citizens' fealty to his uncle (Langlois, Philippe le Hardi, p. 75). Returning to England, he again visited Aquitaine in 1274, receiving protection for that purpose on 15 May (Deputy Keeper of Publ. Rec. 43rd Rep. p. 551). He reached Limoges on 7 July (Langlois, p. 88), and on 14 July besieged the viscountess's castle of Aixe (‘Majus Chron. Lemoviciense’ in Bouquet, xxi. 781, 784). He was also ready to fight a duel on behalf of Edward against Gaston of Béarn (ib. p. 784). On 11 Jan. 1275 he again received letters of protection as ‘about to go beyond sea on the king's business’ (Deputy Keeper of Publ. Rec. 44th Rep. p. 277). When the treaty of Amiens of 1279 ceded the Agenais with certain rights over the Quercy, and the Limousin to Edward, William was appointed his nephew's agent to take over the ceded districts (Fœdera, i. 574). The Agenais was actually transferred to him on 7 Aug. (Langlois, p. 434). He acted as seneschal of that district for some time. His work in this capacity is commemorated by the new bastide of Valence d'Agen, which probably owes its foundation and certainly its name to him (Curie Sembres, Essai sur les Bastides, p. 238; Edward issued statutes for it in 1283, Fœdera, i. 635). The Aquitanian castle of Limousin, a few miles north of Agen, is another memorial of the family (Audrieu, Histoire de l'Agenais, i. 103–4).

In the latter part of 1279 William was sent ambassador to Alfonso of Castile to persuade that king to join in the peace with France (Fœdera, i. 576). William's later protections on going abroad are dated 10 Oct. 1283, 21 April 1286 (when he accompanied Edward), 21 Nov. (on going to Gascony with the king), 20 Sept. 1287 (protection renewed on staying beyond seas), and 29 Jan. 1289 (then on his way to join the king) (Cal. Pat. Rolls, 1281–92, pp. 82, 233, 251, 252, 261, 277, 311).

From September to November 1289 William was one of the negotiators of the treaty of Salisbury with the Scots (Hist. Doc. Scotl. i. 107). In 1291 and 1292 he was on the border busied with the great suit as to the Scottish succession (Fœdera, i. 766–7; Rishanger, pp. 253, 255, 260). In 1294 he was sent to South Wales with Roger Bigod, earl of Norfolk, to assist in putting down the Welsh revolt (Cal. Pat. Rolls, 1292–1301, p. 126). His last parliamentary summons was on 27 Nov. 1295 (Parl. Writs, i. 879).

On 26 Dec. 1295 William and a large number of his followers received letters of protection for a year on going beyond sea (ib. pp. 177–9). He was despatched once more to Gascony, where Edward's affairs had now become desperate. He died at Bayonne on 13 June. His remains were transported to England and buried in Westminster Abbey between the south ambulatory and the chapel of St. Edmund, where his monument still remains. It is an altar tomb under a canopy, bearing a recumbent wooden effigy, covered with copper gilt, with arms and ornaments in Limoges enamel. The head is figured in Doyle (iii. 8). The inscription, given in Gough's ‘Sepulchral Monuments’ (i. 75), attributes to him virtues hardly suggested by his career.

His widow, Joan of Pembroke, died in 1307. She held until her death Pembroke and its dependencies, Goderich and Wexford (Cal. Inq. post mortem, i. 228–9). Their sons were: 1. John, who died in 1277, and was buried at Westminster (Flores Hist. iii. 49). 2. William, who was slain on 17 July 1282 by the Welsh near Llandeilovawr. 3. Aymer (d. 1324) [q. v.], who succeeded them. Their daughters were: 1. Margaret, who died in 1276, and was buried at Westminster. 2. Agnes, who married (a) Maurice Fitzgerald (d. 1268) [see under Fitzgerald, Maurice, 1194?–1257]; (b) Hugh de Baliol; (c) John of Avesnes; she died about 1310. 3. Isabel, who married John de Hastings (1262–1313), through which marriage the Hastings family ultimately acquired the earldom of Pembroke. 4. Joan, who married John Comyn the younger (d. 1306) [q. v.] of Badenoch (Dugdale, Baronage, i. 776; Archæologia Cambrensis, 3rd ser. vi. 269–71, adds two others).

[Matthew Paris's Hist. Majora, vols. iv. v., Flores Hist. vols. ii. iii., Rishanger, Oxenedes, Chron. of Edward I and Edward II, Annales Monastici, Continuation of Gervase of Canterbury, Royal Letters of Henry III, vol. ii. (all the above in Rolls Series); Liber de Antiquis Legibus, Rishanger's Chron. de Bello (both in Camden Soc.); Hemingburgh, Trivet, and Continuation of Florence of Worcester (the three in Engl. Hist. Soc.); Rymer's Fœdera, vol. i. (Record ed.); Rolls of Parliament, vol. i., Parliamentary Writs, vol. i., Calendarium Rotulorum Patentium, Calendarium Rotulorum Cartarum, Excerpta e Rot. Finium, vol. ii., Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, Calendar of Papal Letters, 1198–1304, Calendar of Patent Rolls, 1281–1307, and 1273–80, in the Deputy-Keeper of Publ. Rec. 43rd to 49th Reps.; Dugdale's Baronage, i. 774–6; G. T. Clark's ‘Earls of Pembroke’ in Archæologia Cambrensis, 3rd ser. vi. 253–72; G. E. C[okayne]'s Complete Peerage, vi. 204–7; Doyle's Official Baronage, iii. 8–9; Bémont's Simon de Montfort; Pauli's Geschichte von England, vols. iii. iv.]

T. F. T.