Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lionel of Antwerp
LIONEL of Antwerp, Earl of Antwerp and Duke of Clarence (1338–1368), third son of Edward III and his wife Philippa of Hainault, was born at Antwerp on the vigil of St. Andrew, 29 Nov. 1338 (Murimuth, Cont. Chron. p. 87), during the long stay made by his parents in the Low Countries by reason of the war against France. He was baptised Lionel, either, we are told, ‘from being the offspring of the Lion of England,’ his father, or ‘to revive the British name Llywelyn.’ From the place of his birth he derived his usual surname ‘of Antwerp.’ When he was only three years old his father obtained for him the prospect of a rich marriage, which foreshadowed the later policy of Edward of concentrating the great fiefs in the hands of his children. In 1332 the young William de Burgh, sixth lord of Connaught and third earl of Ulster [q. v.], and the head of one of the greatest of the Anglo-Norman houses in Ireland, had been murdered, leaving an only child, a daughter, Elizabeth, by his wife, Maud of Lancaster. About 1341 Edward arranged to marry Lionel to Elizabeth de Burgh, then a girl of about nine, and six years the senior of her destined husband, to whom she brought the ample marriage portion of western and northern Ireland. Moreover, to make this great inheritance more of a reality, Edward III appointed Ralph Ufford—a gallant soldier, who had married the widowed Countess of Ulster, Elizabeth's mother—governor of Ireland. This was in February 1344. No great success, however, attended Ufford's efforts on behalf of Lionel and Elizabeth. He died in 1346.
Lionel's first public office was obtained on 1 July 1345, when he was appointed guardian and lieutenant of England during his father's absence abroad. He was reappointed to the same office on 25 June 1346 (Doyle, Official Baronage, i. 396). Not later than January 1347 he was created Earl of Ulster, whereupon Edward III ordered that all proceedings connected with Elizabeth's inheritance should be henceforth transacted in his name. In 1352 the actual marriage took place. In 1355 Lionel was made a knight and entered into the career of arms. In September he went with his father on an expedition to the north of France (Avesbury, p. 427; Walsingham, Hist. Anglicana, i. 280; Chron. Angliæ', 1328–88, p. 33). The French, however, retreated as Edward advanced from Calais, and nothing important was done. On 8 May 1359 Lionel became steward of the manor of Westraddon, Devonshire (Doyle, i. 396).
During these years the state of Ireland had grown steadily worse, and very little of Elizabeth's vast heritage was really in the hands of herself or her husband. In 1361 Edward III resolved to send Lionel as governor, believing ‘that our Irish dominions have been reduced to such utter devastation, ruin, and misery, that they may be totally lost if our subjects there are not immediately succoured.’ A great gathering of English holders of land in Ireland was assembled at Easter. The assembled lords were ordered to provide soldiers and accompany Lionel to defend their estates. On 1 July Lionel was appointed the king's lieutenant in Ireland, having been previously made a knight of the Garter. He landed in Dublin in September 1361, accompanied by his wife and many great landowners. The young viceroy displayed some vigour. He provided for his own safety by prohibiting any man born in Ireland from approaching his army (‘Annals of Ireland’ in Cartularies, &c., of St. Mary's, Dublin, ii. 395), but he lost a hundred of his mercenaries on an inroad into the O'Byrne's country, and he was soon glad to rely as usual upon the aid of the Norman lords. On 10 Feb. 1362 Edward strove to strengthen his son's hands by reiterating the orders issued in the previous year to the possessors of Irish estates. On 13 Nov. of the same year Lionel was created Duke of Clarence, at the same time as his brother John was made Duke of Lancaster. The title was derived from the town of Clare in Suffolk, the lordship of which, with other shares in the divided Gloucester estates, had been inherited by Elizabeth from her grandmother, Elizabeth of Clare [q. v.], the sister and coheiress of Gilbert of Clare (1291–1314) [q. v.], the last earl of Gloucester of the house of Clare. The special occasion for the grant was the celebration of the king's fiftieth birthday (Chron. Angliæ, p. 52). Lionel, however, remained in Ireland, and was thus precluded from a personal investiture before the assembled estates. His salary was now doubled, and his army increased. He busied himself with various works, ‘agreeable to him for sports and his other pleasures as well within the castle of Dublin as elsewhere.’ He made inquiries into the rights of the chartered towns and carried out many expeditions against the Irish. In the same year his wife Elizabeth died, leaving an only child, a daughter named Philippa, whose marriage in 1368 to Edmund Mortimer, third earl of March [q. v.], ultimately transferred her claims to the throne to the Yorkist house.
Lionel was absent from his government between April and December 1364, when the Earl of Ormonde acted as his deputy. He was again in England in 1365, on which occasion he was represented in Ireland by Sir Thomas Dale (Cartularies, &, of St. Mary's, Dublin, ii. 396). He still continued his efforts to obtain real possession of his dead wife's estates; but, though Edward III did his best to provide him with supplies, he only succeeded in getting into his hands a small part of the sea-coast of eastern Ulster. His constant efforts to rule through Englishmen led to a great quarrel between the ‘English by birth’ and ‘English by blood,’ which, in order to unite both factions in the wars against the native Irish, Edward III did his best to appease.
Lionel transferred the exchequer from Dublin to Carlow, and spent 500l. in walling that town (ib. ii. 396). Early in Lent 1367 he met a famous parliament at Kilkenny. The great work of this assembly was the statute of Kilkenny, which aimed, by a series of minute restrictions and prohibitions, at preventing the tendency to intermixture between the ‘English by blood’ and the native Irish, which was rapidly destroying the basis of English rule and withdrawing the English settlers from English civilisation. With the same object the distinctions between ‘English by blood’ and ‘English by birth’ were, so far as possible, removed.
This was the last important act of Lionel in Ireland. He had grown weary of his thankless task. In November 1366 he returned to England, declaring that he would never go back with his own free will (Eulogium Historiarum, iii. 241). His government was handed over to Gerald Fitzgerald, fourth earl of Desmond [q. v.] His rule, unsuccessful as it was, marks an epoch in the history of the English relations with Ireland. In 1635 the claim of Charles I to the lands of Connaught was partly based on descent from Lionel (Strafford Letters, i. 454–5).
In 1366 a second rich marriage was proposed for Lionel. The Visconti of Milan were anxious to attain a social position among the rulers of Europe corresponding to their wealth and power. Galeazzo Visconti, lord of Pavia, and brother of the more famous Bernabò Visconti, lord of Milan, accordingly proposed that his beautiful and only daughter, Violante, should marry Lionel of Clarence. On 30 July Humphrey Bohun, earl of Hereford, was sent to Milan to negotiate the match (Fœdera, iii. 797). After two years' negotiations a settlement was arranged. Violante brought with her a dower of two million florins of gold and many Piedmontese towns and castles, including Alba, a possession of the Visconti since the days of Archbishop Giovanni, and situated in Montferrat, on the Tanaro, between Cherasco and Asti (Chronicon Placentinum in Muratori, Scriptores Rer. Ital. xvi. 510; Ann. Mediolanenses in ib. xvi. 738). On 25 April 1368 the marriage treaty was signed at Windsor, and an instalment of the treasure paid down. There was vague and foolish talk in England of how the princes and towns of Italy had promised to do homage to Lionel, and how in time he might become emperor or king of Italy (Hardyng, Chronicle, p. 333). The chroniclers believed that Galeazzo had surrendered half his territories to his son-in-law (Chron. Angliæ, p. 61). Lionel married his little daughter to the Earl of March (Cont. Eulogium Hist. iii. 333), and set out from England to fetch his bride. He was magnificently equipped, and took with him in his train 457 men and 1,280 horses (Fœdera, iii. 845). He travelled by way of Dover and Calais to Paris, where he was received with great pomp by Charles V and the Dukes of Berri and Burgundy. He was lodged at the Louvre. He then travelled through Sens to Chambéry, where he was magnificently entertained by the Count of Savoy, whose sister Blanche was the mother of Violante. The count accompanied Lionel over the Alps to Milan. On 27 May Lionel reached Milan, being met outside the Ticino gate by Galeazzo, Bernabò, Galeazzo's son Gian Galeazzo, Count of Virtù, with his wife Isabella of France, and a gorgeously arrayed throng of Milanese grandees. The marriage was celebrated before the door of Milan Cathedral on 5 June (Ann. Mediolanenses, p. 738; the English authorities say on 29 May). There were festivities of extraordinary magnificence, elaborately described in the Milanese chroniclers (Muratori, Script. xvi. 738, 739, 1051). Among those present at the wedding feast was the aged poet Petrarch, who sat among the greatest of the guests at the first table (ib. xvi. 739; cf., however, Koerting, Petrarca's Leben und Werke, who doubts the fact on the ground of Petrarch's own silence about the marriage). Five months of continuous feasts, jousts, and revels followed, when early in October Lionel was smitten by a sudden and violent sickness at Alba. He had gone through an Italian summer carelessly, and without changing his English habits. The illness grew worse. On 3 Oct. he drew up his will, and on 7 Oct. 1368 he died. There was, as usual in Italy, some suspicion of poison, and one of his followers, Edward le Despenser, declaring for the church in the great contest between the papacy and the Visconti (Higden, Polychronicon, viii. 371, 419), joined Hawkwood and his White Company in their war against Milan, until satisfied of Galeazzo's innocence. There was in truth no motive for such an act, and Galeazzo went almost mad with grief at the loss of his son-in-law and the consequent failure of his ambitions (Muratori, Scriptores, xvi. 740). Lionel's remains were at first buried at Pavia, whence they were, in accordance with his will, removed to the convent of the Austin Friars at Clare in Suffolk, and deposited side by side with the body of his first wife. Violante left no issue by Lionel, and soon afterwards married Otto, marquis of Montferrat. Lionel was a man of great strength and beauty of person, and exceedingly tall in stature (Hardyng, Chron. p. 334).
[Sandford's Genealogical History, pp. 219–21; Dugdale's Baronage, i. 396; Barnes's Hist. of Edward III; Doyle's Official Baronage; Gilbert's Viceroys of Ireland, pp. 215–26; Walsingham's Historia Anglicana; Chronicon Angliæ, 1328–88; Murimuth and Avesbury, Cartularies, &c., of St. Mary's Abbey, Dublin, Eulogium Historiarum, all in Rolls Series; Galfridus le Baker, ed. Thompson; Froissart's Chroniques; Muratori's Scriptores Rerum Italicarum, vol. xvi.; Rymer's Fœdera, vol. iii. Record edit.]