11 May The Barony of Flamstead – Part II
Last month, we brought you up to the point where Guy de Beauchamp, the tenth holder of the Barony of Flamstead, had fallen mysteriously ill. He and King Edward II were not on good terms and the historical finger of suspicion has always pointed towards the king for instrumenting this illness.
To put some context on this, one could have sympathy for King Edward. He’d had a favourite, Piers Gaveston, who’d exerted considerable influence over the king. Guy – who was also known as the Earl of Warwick – and the Earl of Lancaster executed Gaveston in 1312. Clearly, that didn’t go down well with the crown, and once Edward had been well and truly beaten at the Battle of Bannockburn he was seriously weakened.
Guy died in 1315 as a result of Edward’s ill deed, and the Barony of Flamstead temporarily passed back to his wife, Alice. She then married William de la Zouche about a year later, who took the title on whilst she was alive. William was already a member of parliament, but he was also made Conservator of the Peace in 1317 in Northamptonshire. Believing he had William’s loyalty, in 1322 King Edward ordered William to muster men-at-arms in support of quashing the might of the Earl of Lancaster. However, William claimed he was unwell and refused; how that was received can only be surmised.
Regardless of William’s exploits, though, it was Alice who then died in 1324. At this point, the Barony of Flamstead passed to Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, a son from her second marriage to Guy.
Thomas was High Sheriff of Worcestershire and acquitted himself well as a captain of the army against the Scots in 1337. Over the next few years, his career flourished. He was made Earl Marshall of England and High Sheriff of Warwickshire and Leicestershire. And in 1346 he performed admirably both at the siege of Calais and by commanding the centre at the Battle of Crecy. So admirably, in fact, that he was then entrusted with the wardship of the Black Prince – who was heir to King Edward III.
Thomas’s fighting career was not over, though, for he fought at the Battle of Poitiers. However, in 1369, he lost his battle against the Black Death and passed the Barony of Flamstead to his son, Thomas.
Sir Thomas, the 12th Baron of Flamstead, also enjoyed an illustrious career. He was made a Knight of the Garter in 1373, became Governor of England – over King Richard II – and served as Admiral of the North. Politically, he was one of the Lords Appellant who tried to separate King Richard from his key allies. And, as a result, in 1397 Thomas found himself lured to London on a ruse, only to be charged with high treason and sent to the tower.
As the throne changed, Henry IV released him, and his lands and titles were restored. He died in 1401, leaving an heir, Richard, who was also knighted at the coronation of King Henry.
The Beauchamps were clearly a family to be reckoned with, for Sir Richard’s career was equally forceful and expansive. He fought at the battle of Shrewsbury and rode at the head of the English army in an attempt to capture Owain Clyndwr – Prince of Wales. In 1408, he then branched out on his adventures and went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This was then followed by trips to Russia and Eastern Europe.
Thus, by 1410, Sir Richard had fully established himself and had become a member of the Royal Council. Two years later he found himself commanding the fighting at Calais. And, then by the coronation of King Henry V in 1413, he was holding the position of Lord High Steward. The following year, however, he was quashing the Lollard Uprising and travelling to Normandy as Captain of Calais.
During his career, Richard’s strengths as a diplomat were also put to good use. Having played a prominent role fighting the French in the Hundred Years War, he was put in charge of negotiations with Dauphin Louis and the Duke of Burgundy. He also represented King Henry in arranging the Treaty of Troyes and was made a Norman count for his efforts. Then, to cap this astonishing life, Richard was made responsible for the education of Henry VI, who was made king at the princely age of 9 months old.
However, his endeavours didn’t end there. He next acted as superintendent at the trial of Joan of Arc, and in 1437 was appointed Lieutenant of France and Normandy. A couple of years later, however, his mortality finally caught up with him and he died leaving a son and heir, Henry.
As a result of his father’s relationship to young King Henry, Henry Beauchamp was close to the king. So close, in fact, that King Henry was desperate to raise his closest friend up to being an equal. He therefore made Henry Beauchamp King of the Isle of Wight in 1444, and followed it up with making him the premier Earl of the realm and Duke of Warwick a year later. Sadly, though, Beauchamp died a year after that, leaving his daughter, Anne, as his heir. She was only two and also sadly passed away at the age of five. This meant that the Barony of Flamstead was passed to her aunt, Anne Neville.
Anne was married to Richard Neville, who also became the Earl of Warwick and the wealthiest and most powerful peer in England… And now you’ll need to hold your breath for Part III of this trilogy to find out what historical excitement Richard Neville, the Kingmaker, had in store for England….
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