Sir Hugh le Despenser Baron Despenser 1 2 3
- Born: 1286
- Marriage (1): Eleanor de Clare after 14 Jun 1306
- Died: 24 Nov 1326, Hereford, Herefordshire, England at age 40
- Buried: After 15 Dec 1330, Tewkesbury Abbey, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, England
Another name for Hugh was Hugh "the Younger" le Despenser Baron Despenser.
From Wikipedia - Hugh Despenser the Younger :
Hugh Despenser, 1st Lord Despenser (1286 - 24 November 1326 , sometimes referred to as "the younger Despenser", was the son and heir of Hugh le Despenser, Earl of Winchester , by Isabel Beauchamp, daughter of William de Beauchamp, 9th Earl of Warwick .
He was knight of Hanley Castle , Worcestershire , King's Chamberlain , Constable of Odiham Castle , Keeper of the castle and town of Portchester , Keeper of the castle, town and barton of Bristol and, in Wales , Keeper of the castle and town of Dryslwyn , and the region of Cantref Mawr , Carmarthenshire . Also in Wales , he was Keeper of the castles, manor, and lands of Brecknock , Hay , Cantref Selyf, etc., in County Brecon , and, in England of Huntington , Herefordshire . He was given Wallingford Castle although this had previously been given to Queen Isabella for life.
In May 1306 Hugh was knighted, and that summer he married Eleanor de Clare , daughter of Gilbert de Clare , 9th Lord of Clare and 7th Earl of Hertford and Joan of Acre . Eleanor's grandfather, Edward I , owed Hugh's father vast sums of money, and the marriage was intended as a payment of these debts. When Eleanor's brother was killed at the Battle of Bannockburn , she unexpectedly became one of the three co-heiresses to the rich Gloucester earldom, and in her right Hugh inherited Glamorgan and other properties. In just a few short years Hugh went from a landless knight to one of the wealthiest magnates in the kingdom.
Eleanor was also the niece of the new king, Edward II of England , and this connection brought Hugh closer to the English royal court. He joined the baronial opposition to Piers Gaveston , the king's favourite , and Hugh's brother-in-law, as Gaveston was married to Eleanor's sister. Eager for power and wealth, Hugh seized Tonbridge Castle in 1315. In 1318 he murdered Llywelyn Bren , a Welsh hostage in his custody.
Eleanor and Hugh had nine children:
Hugh le Despenser III (1308-1349)
Gilbert le Despenser , (1309- 1381).
Edward le Despenser , (1310 - 1342), soldier, killed at the siege of Vannes ; father of Edward II le Despenser , Knight of the Garter
John le Despenser , (1311 - June 1366).
Isabel le Despenser, Countess of Arundel (1312-1356), married Richard Fitzalan, 10th Earl of Arundel
Eleanor le Despenser , (c. 1315 - 1351), nun at Sempringham Priory
Joan le Despenser , (c. 1317 - 1384), nun at Shaftesbury Abbey
Margaret le Despenser , (c. 1319 - 1337, nun at Whatton Priory
Elizabeth le Despenser , born 1325, died July 13 , 1389 , married Maurice de Berkeley, 4th Baron Berkeley .
Hugh became royal chamberlain in 1318. As a royal courtier , Hugh manoeuvred into the affections of King Edward, displacing the previous favourite, Roger d'Amory . This was much to the dismay of the baronage as they saw him both taking their rightful places at court and being a worse version of Gaveston. By 1320 his greed was running free. Hugh seized the Welsh lands of his wife's inheritance, ignoring the claims of his two brothers-in-law. He forced Alice de Lacy, Countess of Lincoln , to give up her lands, cheated his sister-in-law Elizabeth de Clare out of Gower and Usk , and allegedly had Lady Baret's arms and legs broken until she went insane. He also supposedly vowed to be revenged on Roger Mortimer because Mortimer's grandfather had murdered Hugh's grandfather, and once stated (though probably in jest) that he regretted he could not control the wind. By 1321 he had earned many enemies in every stratum of society, from Queen Isabella to the barons to the common people. There was even a bizarre plot to kill Hugh by sticking pins in a wax likeness of him.
Finally the barons prevailed upon King Edward and forced Hugh and his father into exile in 1321. His father fled to Bordeaux , and Hugh became a pirate in the English Channel , "a sea monster, lying in wait for merchants as they crossed his path". Following the exile of the Despensers, the barons who opposed them fell out among themselves. The following year, King Edward took advantage of these divisions to secure the defeat and execution of the Earl of Lancaster, and the surrender of Roger Mortimer, the Despensers' chief opponents. The pair returned and King Edward quickly reinstated Hugh as royal favourite. His time in exile had done nothing to quell his greed, his rashness, or his ruthlessness. The time from the Despensers' return from exile until the end of Edward II's reign was a time of uncertainty in England. With the main baronial opposition leaderless and weak, having been defeated at the Battle of Boroughbridge , and Edward willing to let them do as they pleased, the Despensers were left unchecked. They grew rich from their administration and corruption. This period is sometimes referred to as the "Tyranny". This maladministration caused hostile feeling for them and, by proxy, Edward II. Hugh repeatedly pressed King Edward to execute Mortimer, who had been held prisoner in the Tower of London, following his surrender. However, Mortimer escaped from the Tower and fled to France.
Relationship with Edward and Isabella
Queen Isabella had a special dislike for the man. Various historians have suggested, and it is commonly believed, that he and Edward had an ongoing sexual relationship. (Froissart states "he was a sodomite, even it is said, with the King.") Some speculate it was this relationship that caused the Queen's dislike of him.[citation needed ] Others, noting that her hatred for him was far greater than for any other favourite of her husband, suggest that his behaviour towards herself and the nation served to excite her particular disgust. Alison Weir , in her 2005 book, Queen Isabella: Treachery, Adultery, and Murder in Medieval England, speculates that he had raped Isabella and that was the source of her hatred. While Isabella was in France to negotiate between her husband and the French king, she formed a liaison with Roger Mortimer and began planning an invasion. Hugh supposedly tried to bribe French courtiers to assassinate Isabella, sending barrels of silver as payment. Roger Mortimer and the Queen invaded England in October 1326. Their forces only numbered about 1,500 mercenaries to begin with, but the majority of the nobility rallied to them throughout October and November. By contrast, very few people were prepared to fight for Edward II, mainly because of the hatred which the Despensers had aroused. The Despensers fled West with the King, with a sizable sum from the treasury. The escape was unsuccessful. Separated from the elder Despenser, the King and the younger Hugh were deserted by most of their followers, and were captured near Neath in mid-November. King Edward was placed in captivity and later deposed. Hugh the father (the elder Despenser) was hanged at Bristol on 27 October 1326, and Hugh the son was brought to trial.
Trial and Execution
Hugh tried to starve himself before his trial, but face trial he did on 24 November 1326 , in Hereford , before Mortimer and the Queen. He was judged a traitor and a thief, and sentenced to public execution by hanging, as a thief, and drawing and quartering , as a traitor. Additionally, he was sentenced to be disembowelled for having procured discord between the King and Queen, and to be beheaded, for returning to England after having been banished. Treason had also been the grounds for Gaveston's execution; the belief was that these men had misled the King rather than the King himself being guilty of folly. Immediately after the trial, he was dragged behind four horses to his place of execution, where a great fire was lit. He was stripped naked, and biblical verses denouncing arrogance and evil were written on his skin. He was then hanged from a gallows 50 ft (15 m) high, but cut down before he could choke to death, and was tied to a ladder, in full view of the crowd. The executioner climbed up beside him, and sliced off his penis and testicles which were burnt before him, while he was still alive and conscious; (although castration was not formally part of the sentence imposed on Despenser, it was typically practised on convicted traitors). Subsequently, the executioner slit open his abdomen, and slowly pulled out, and cut out, his entrails and, finally, his heart, which were likewise thrown into the fire. The executioner would have sought to keep him alive as long as possible, while disembowelling him. The burning of his entrails would, in all likelihood, have been the last sight that he witnessed. Just before he died, it is recorded that he let out a "ghastly inhuman howl," much to the delight and merriment of the spectators. Finally, his corpse was beheaded, his body cut into four pieces, and his head was mounted on the gates of London. Mortimer and Isabella feasted with their chief supporters, as they watched the execution...
After his death, his widow asked to be given the body so she could bury it at the family's Gloucestershire estate, but only the head, a thigh bone and a few vertebrae were returned to her.
Hanged and quartered for teason
Hugh married Eleanor de Clare, daughter of Sir Gilbert de Clare 9th Earl of Clare, 7th Earl of Hertford and Joan of Acre, after 14 Jun 1306. (Eleanor de Clare was born on 3 Oct 1292 in Caerphilly, Glamorgan, Wales, died on 30 Jun 1337 and was buried in Tewkesbury, Wiltshire, England.)