Thomas (1388?-1421) (DNB00)

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THOMAS, Duke of Clarence (1388?–1421), second son of Henry IV, by his first wife, Mary de Bohun, was born in London before 30 Sept. 1388. On the whole it seems most likely that Henry of Monmouth was born in August 1387, and Thomas not quite a year later (but see Wylie, iii. 324, where the autumn of 1387 is preferred as the date of Thomas's birth). There are various trifling notices of Thomas as a child in the accounts of the duchy of Lancaster (ib. iii. 324–6). On his father's accession to the throne he was made seneschal of England on 5 Oct., and on the following Sunday (12 Oct.) was one of the knights created in preparation for the coronation next day. Liberal grants of land were made for his support in his office in November, but this appointment was of course only nominal, the actual duties being discharged by Thomas Percy, earl of Worcester, who after a year's time was himself made seneschal, as the prince was too young to discharge the office (Annales Henrici Quarti, pp. 287, 337). Thomas was with his father at Windsor at Christmas 1399, and was removed in haste to London on the report of the plot to seize the king and his sons. In the summer of 1401 he was made lieutenant of Ireland, Sir Thomas Erpingham and Sir Hugh Waterton being named his wardens. He crossed over in November, reaching Dublin on the 13th. A council met at Christmas, and took Thomas for a journey down the coast to reassert his authority. The difficulties of the English government in Ireland were great, and the boy lieutenant added naturally to the cares of his guardians. On 20 Aug. 1402 the archbishop of Dublin reported that Thomas had not a penny in the world, and was shut up at Naas with his council and a small retinue, who dared not leave him for fear harm might befall (Royal Letters, p. 67). Eventually, on 1 Sept. 1403, it was decided that Thomas should come home, though nominally he remained lieutenant of Ireland, which was ruled by his deputy. In the autumn of 1404 he was with his brother Henry in South Wales, and took part in the attempted relief of Coyty Castle, Glamorganshire, in November. On 20 Feb. 1405 he was given command of the fleet (Fœdera, viii. 388) which assembled at Sandwich, and on 22 May crossed to Sluys, where the English burnt some vessels in the harbour, but failed in an attack on the town. Thomas had a narrow escape in a fight with some Genoese caracks off Cadsand, and, after ravaging the coast of Normandy, the fleet returned to England by July (Annales Henrici Quarti, p. 401; Wylie, ii. 106–5). On 1 March 1406 Thomas was confirmed in his appointment as lieutenant of Ireland for twelve years (Nicolas, Proc. Privy Council, i. 315–18). He did not, however, go to Ireland, but was present at the parliament in June, when the succession to the throne was regulated. In July he went to Lynn to witness the departure of his sister Philippa for Denmark, and in August accompanied his father on a progress through Lincolnshire. At the close of the year he was made captain of Guines, where he probably served through the greater part of 1407.

On 8 March 1408, being then in London, Thomas agreed to accept a reduced payment for his office in Ireland. The affairs of that country required his presence, and in May it was arranged that he should cross over. He sailed accordingly on 2 Aug., and, landing at Carlingford, proceeded to Dublin. His first act was to arrest the Earl of Kildare and his sons, and in the autumn he made a raid into Leinster, in the course of which he was wounded at Kilmainham. In January 1409 he held a parliament at Kilkenny, but in March was recalled to England by the news of his father's illness (Wylie, iii. 166–9). The government was now passing into the hands of the Prince of Wales, who was supported by the Beauforts. Thomas quarrelled with Henry Beaufort over the money due to him on his marriage with the widow of his uncle, John Beaufort, earl of Somerset (Chron. Giles, pp. 61–2). This quarrel brought Thomas into opposition to his brother, whose policy rested on the support of the Beauforts. However, little is heard of Thomas during 1410 and 1411, except for some notices of his riotous conduct at London, where in June 1410 he and his brother John were involved in a fray with the men of the town at Eastcheap; in the following year the ‘Lord Thomas men’ were again concerned in a great debate in Bridge Street (Chron. Lond. p. 93). At the beginning of 1412 the Beauforts were displaced, and Thomas seems to have supplanted his elder brother in the direction of the government. Under his influence a treaty of alliance was concluded with the Duke of Orleans in May. He was made Duke of Clarence on 9 July, and given the command of the intended expedition. In August he proceeded to France at the head of a force of eight thousand men to assist the Orleanists. He landed at Hogue St. Vast in the Cotentin, and, after capturing various towns from the Burgundians, joined Orleans at Bourges. Eventually the French court arranged that Orleans should buy the English off, and, under an agreement concluded on 14 Nov., Clarence withdrew with his army to Guienne. He was intending to interfere in the affairs of Arragon had not his father's death (20 March 1413) compelled him to return to England (Goodwin, History of Henry V, p. 9).

Though Clarence was removed from his Irish command, and though in the royal council he continued to support an alliance with the Orleanists against the Burgundians, he was personally on good terms with his brother. He was confirmed as Duke of Clarence in the parliament of 1414, and was present in the council which considered the preparations for the war on 16–18 April 1415 (Nicolas, Proc. Privy Council, ii. 156). He was ordered to hold the muster of the king's retinue at Southampton on 20 July (Fœdera, ix. 287). When the Cambridge plot was discovered, Clarence was appointed to preside over the court of peers summoned to consider the process against Richard of Cambridge and Lord Scrope. He sailed with the king from Portsmouth on 11 Aug., landing before Harfleur two days later. In the siege he held the command on the eastern side of the town. Like many others, he suffered much from illness, and after the fall of Harfleur was appointed to command the portion of the host which returned direct to England. In May 1416 Clarence received the Emperor Sigismund at Dartford. Monstrelet incorrectly ascribes to Clarence the command of the fleet which relieved Harfleur in August 1416 (Chron. p. 393). Clarence took part in the great expedition of 1417 which landed in Normandy on 1 Aug. He was appointed constable of the army, and, in command of the van, captured Touque on 9 Aug., and led the advance on Caen. This town was carried by assault on 4 Sept., the troops under Clarence's command scaling a suburb on the north side. After the fall of Caen he was sent to besiege Alençon in October, and in December rejoined the king before Falaise. In the spring of 1418 he was employed in the reduction of central Normandy, capturing Courtonne, Harcourt, and Chambrais. In the summer he joined in the advance on Rouen, was present at the siege of Louviers in June and of Pont de l'Arche in July, and in August took up his post before Rouen at the Porte Cauchoise. Immediately after the fall of Rouen in January 1419 Clarence was sent to push on the English advance, and in February took Vernon and Gaillon. The capture of Mantes and Beaumont followed, and after the failure of negotiations with the French court and the capture of Pontoise, Clarence commanded a reconnaissance to the gates of Paris at the beginning of August. In May 1420 he accompanied his brother to Troyes, and, after Henry's marriage, took part in the sieges of Montereau and Melun. He accompanied the king at his triumphal entry into Paris on 1 Dec. After Christmas Clarence went with Henry to Rouen, and on his brother's departure for England at the end of January 1421 was appointed captain of Normandy and lieutenant of France in the king's absence. Shortly afterwards Clarence started on a raid through Maine and Anjou, and advanced as far as Beaufort-en-Vallée, near the Loire. Meantime the dauphin had collected his forces, and, being joined by a strong force of Scottish knights, reached Beaugé in the English rear on 21 March. Clarence, on hearing the news next day, at once set out with his cavalry, not waiting for the main body of his army. He drove in the Scottish outposts, but was in his turn overwhelmed, and, together with many of the knights who accompanied him, was slain. His defeat was due to his own impatience and his anxiety to win a victory which might compare with Agincourt. After his death the archers, under the Earl of Salisbury, came up and recovered the bodies of the slain (Cotton. MS. Claud. A. viii, f. 10 a). Clarence's body was carried back to England and buried at Canterbury. The English mourned him as a brave and valiant soldier who had no equal in military prowess (Gesta Henrici Quinti, p. 149).

Clarence had no children by his duchess Margaret, daughter of Thomas Holland, duke of Surrey and earl of Kent [q. v.], and widow of his uncle, John Beaufort, earl of Somerset. He had, however, a bastard son, Sir John Clarence, who was old enough to be with his father at Beaugé, and who afterwards took part in the French wars in the reign of Henry VI.

[Annales Henrici Quarti ap. Trokelowe, Blaneforde, &c.; Royal and Historical Letters of Henry IV; Walsingham's Historia Anglicana (Rolls Ser.); Gesta Henrici Quinti (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Elmham's Vita Henrici Quinti, ed. Hearne; Monstrelet's Chroniques (Pantheon Litteraire); Chron. du Religieux de S. Denys (Documents Inédits sur l'Hist. de France); Incerti auctoris Chronicon, ed. Giles; Davies's English Chronicle (Camd. Soc.); Chronicle of London (1827); Page's Siege of Rouen in Collections of a London Citizen (Camd. Soc. 1876); Nicolas's Proceedings and Ordinances of Privy Council; Rymer's Fœdera; Wylie's History of England under Henrv IV; Ramsay's Lancaster and York.]

C. L. K.