Category: Medieval

John “Lackland” King of England.

John “Lackland”  King of England (the bad king) was born December 24, 1167 or 1177, to Henri II, King of England (1133-1189) and Eleonore  d’Aquitaine, Duchess d’Aquitaine (1122-1204). He was also the younger brother and successor to King Richard (the good king).
King John of England

King John painted c.1250-59 by Matthew Paris.

John was made King of Ireland in 1177, Comte de Mortain in 1189, and his reign as King of England began with his crowning in London on May 27, 1199 when he succeeded his brother Richard, who had left on crusade. He was crowned a second time October 8, 1200 at Westminster Abbey, with his second wife.

King John is seen as a villain, this impression having been fostered through the retelling of the legend of Robin Hood, who supposedly took up the cause of the people against King John’s exhorbitant taxes by stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.

In 1173, John was betrothed to Alix de Maurienne (1166-1174), daughter of Humbert III, Comte de Maurienne and his third wife Klementia von Zähringen, and an agreement was reached where John would inherit the county of Maurienne if Humbert had no sons by his wife.

He became betrothed to Isabel (Avise), Countess of Gloucester in 1176 and married her as her first husband on August 29, 1189 and they divorced (annulled on the grounds of consanguinity) before August 30, 1199. Isabel was the daughter of William FitzRobert II, Earl of Gloucester and his wife Avise de Beaumont. She remarried in 1214 to Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex, and again in 1217 to Hubert de Burgh, who became Earl of Kent afterward, in 1227.  Isabel died in 1217.

He was then betrothed to Alix de France, daughter of Louis VII, King of France and his second wife Infanta doña Constanza de Castilla in 1193. The betrothal was arranged by King Richard, who himself had been betrothed to Alix de France at one time. Alix returned to France in Aug 1195.

Tomb of Isabelle d'Angoulême

Tomb of Isabelle d’Angoulême.

John’s second marriage was to Isabelle d’Angoulême on August 24, 1200 as her first husband. Isabelle was the daughter of Aymar “Taillefer”, Comte d’Angoulême and his wife Alix de Courtenay. She was crowned Queen Consort on October 8, 1200 at Westminster Abbey. King John and his second wife had five children: Henry  III, King of England (1207-1272); Richard, King of England and the Romans (1209-1272); Joan  of England (1210-1238); Isabella  of England (1214-1241); and Eleanor (1215-1275).

Newark Castle, Lincolnshire, England

Newark Castle in Lincolnshire, England.

After John’s death in 1216 in Newark Castle in Lincolnshire, she married again in 1220 to Hugues XI, de Lusignan, Comte de la Marche.

John also had numerous mistresses, the majority of whom were unknown. Those that were known were the daughter of Hamelin d’Anjou, Earl of Surrey and his wife Isabelle de Warenne; Clementia, the wife of Henry Pinel;  a woman named Hawise (possibly ‘de Tracy’); and a woman named Susanna, her origins unknown.

There were several children born to him of several of his mistresses, including: Joan “Joanna”  of England, Lady of Wales (1190-1237); Oliver  (    -1219); Osbert Gifford (    -1246); Geoffrey FitzRoy (    -1205); Sir John FitzJohn (    -1242); Odo FitzRoy (    -1242); Henry FitzRoy; Richard  Constable of Wallingford Castle; Matilda  Abbess of Barking; Isabella  la Blanche; Richard FitzRoy (    -1245).

Tomb of King John

Tomb of King John of England.

John died October 18 or 19, 1216 at Newark Castle in Lincolnshire and was buried at Worcester Cathedral, Worcestershire.

Effigy of King John.

Tomb effigy of John “Lackland”, King of England.

Up until 1944 King John was considered to be a horrid man and even worse king. In 1944, it was demonstrated that the main source for information about the reign of John was at best unreliable. These new findings caused a change in perception of King John, possibly resulting in a further skewed view of John on the positive side.

Those attempting to find a more accurate view of John are doing so through examination of the administrative records of the time. Even with these records, however, there is some doubt expressed about whether the records are to be taken at face value or whether John or his staff were able to skillfully produce records portraying him in a more positive light.

John’s energetic, fastidious nature belied his appearance, paunchy, 5′ 5″ tall with “erect head, staring eyes, flaring nostrils and thick lips set in a cruel pout.” It was said that “he prowled around his kingdom.” He was very clean, routinely taking numerous baths, enjoyed food and drink, gambled, and loved women.

Contradictory to the legend we have become accustomed to, he assisted the poor by providing the proceeds from the forest law and was generous to his servants.

His legend may in fact have been fueled by knowledge of his highly suspicious nature and enjoyment of intrigues and secrets. He also acted against his father, as he did against Richard while the latter was held captive in 1193.

Although John would not be considered a ‘good’ man, in different circumstances he could have been a great king.

King John was 24th great grandfather to my children.


  1. Kings and Queens of England – The Normans, The Royal Family of England online [].
  2. Kings and Queens of England – The Angevins, The Royal Family online [].
  3. Early Scottish Monarchs, The Royal Family online [].
  4. Gary Boyd Roberts, The Royal Descents of 500 Immigrants, (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1983).
  5. Funk & Wagnalls Inc., Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia (1983).
  6. David Faris, The Plantagenet Ancestry of Seventeenth Century Colonists (English Ancestry Series, Vol. I, Second Edition; New England Historic Genealogy Society, 1999).
  7. The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdon, Extant, Extinct or Dormant (G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume I.).
  8. Britain’s Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy (Alison Weir, Britain’s Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy; Pimlico; 2Rev Ed edition (13 Jun 2002); London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999.
  9. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Th.D., The Magna Carta Sureties, 1215, (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc.), 5th Ed., c1999.
  10. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came To America Before 1700, 8th Edition (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc., 2004).
  11. Ernst-Friedrich Kraentzler, Ancestry of Richard Plantagenet and Cecily de Neville (Selp-published, 1978).
  12. Directory of Royal Genealogical Data, Brian Tompsett, Dept. of Computer Science, Hull University online [].
  13. Charles Mosley, Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage, 106th Edition (1999).
  14. George Smith, Dictionary of National Biography, Vols. 1-21 (: Oxford Press, 1885-1990).
  15. John Fines, Who’s Who in the Middle Ages (New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1995).
  16. Call, Michel, Royal Ancestors of Some American Families (Salt Lake City, 1989, 1991).
  17. Foundation for Medieval Genealogy online [,%20Kings%201066-1603.htm#LoretteMWilliamMarmiondied1275].
  18. []


Cardinal Henry Beaufort

Cardinal Henry Beaufort (de Beaufort) was born in 1375 in Castle Beaufort, Anjou, France to Sir John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster (1340- ) and Katharine (de Roët ) Swynford (c. 1350 – 1403), widow of Sir Hugh Swynford of Lincolnshire.

Beaufort-Cardinal-Henry1Once the governess to John’s daughters from his first marriage, she became his mistress, subsequently bearing him more children.  Her children were made legitimate September 1, 1396 by Pope Boniface IX and February 9, 1397 by charter of King Richard II, but were excluded from the succession.

Castle Beaufort

Beaufort Castle

Cardinal Henry’s progression began with his becoming Dean of Wells Cathedral, Somerset, England and Chancellor of Oxford University in 1397, at the age of 22.

In 1399, upon the accession of his half -brother, Henry IV, in 1399, he was assured a prominent place and high influence in politics.

He continued to rise rapidly, becoming Chancellor of England and a Royal Councillor in 1403, and Bishop of Winchester in 1404.

In 1413, he resigned his chancellorship and led the opposition of the council to the King’s Chief Minister, Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury. However, he regained his chancellorship when his nephew and ally became king as Henry V in the same year.

Highly ambitious and striving to climb still higher, he sought and obtained a position with the papacy when Pope Martin V made him a cardinal in 1417. The king feared that Beaufort would be too effective as spokesman for the papacy and subsequently forced him to resign.

After the accession of the infant King, Henry VI in 1422, however, Beaufort flourished yet again. A very wealthy man by this time, he expanded his fortune by lending money at inflated interest rates to the financially troubled crown, which further entrenched him in his position of power, making him virtually invulnerable to his enemies.

In 1426, he was made papallegate and Cardinal of St. Eusebius, for which his uncle, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, continually criticized him for conflict of interest by holding positions of power in both the church and state. Beaufort’s power and influence enable him to remain unharmed by the attacks by Duke Humphrey.

In 1435 and 1439 he failed in his attempts to negotiate the end of the Hundred Years’ War between England and France.

Henry gained even more power on July 14, 1438 when he became Bishop of Lincoln. While in this position, he had an affair with a woman whose identity is speculation at best, due to a lack of documentation. Some believe this woman was Alice FitzAlan (1378-1415), daughter to Richard FitzAlan and Elizabeth de Bohun.

An illegitimate daughter, Jane Beaufort, was born to this relationship in 1402. This relationship is made credible by the mention of Jane and her husband Sir Edward Stradling in Cardinal Beaufort’s will.

Henry retired from politics in 1443, died April 11, 1447 at Wolsey Palace in Winchester, and was buried at Winchester Cathedral.

Cardinal Henry Beaufort was 22nd great grandfather to my children.


Foundation for Medieval Genealogy;,%20Kings%201066-1603.htm

Encyclopædia Britannica CD ’97, HENRY BEAUFORT;

Joan, Fair Maid of Kent

Joan, Countess of Kent was Princess of Wales and was also known as Joan, Fair Maid of Kent. Her other titles included Princess of Aquitaine, Countess of Salisbury and Baroness Wake of Liddell. She was also the 26th great grandmother to my children.
Joan, Fair Maid of Kent and Edward of Angoulême

Joan, Fair Maid of Kent and Edward of Angoulême.

Joan at one time was described by French historian Jean Froissart as “the most beautiful woman in all the realm of England, and the most loving.”

Joan was born September 29, 1328. Her father was Edmund of Woodstock, Earl of Kent (1301-1330), half-brother to Edward II, King of England and son of Edward I, and her mother was Margaret, Baroness Wake (1300-1349), daughter of Philip III, King of France. It was her father Edmund who supported Edward II in conflict with Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March and his lover Isabella of France, resulting in Edmund’s execution.

In the spring of 1340 at the age of eleven, Joan was married in secret, without royal consent, to Sir Thomas de Holand (    – 1360), Knight of the Garter, of Broughton, Buckinghamshire, son of Sir Robert de Holand and Matilda la Zouche.

In 1352, she succeeded her brother as Countess of Kent, Baroness Wake and Baroness Woodstock.

While Thomas was overseas, her family forced her into a marriage with William de Montagu (1328-1397) before February 10, 1341. She decided not to disclose the earlier marriage for fear Sir Thomas would be executed for treason. William was the son of William de Montagu, Lord Montagu and Earl of Salisbury and Katharine de Grandson and succeeded as Earl of Salisbury in 1344. Joan and William had one son, Sir William de Montagu (1341-    ).

The marriage of Joan and William was annulled in November 17, 1349 after Sir Thomas de Holand proved that he had married Joan in 1339. Thomas was made Lord Holand in 1353/4 and succeeded as Earl of Kent, dying in the winter of 1360. He was buried at the Church of the Grey Friars in Stamford, England.

The pope ordered the re-establishment of the first marriage to Sir Thomas de Holad on November 17, 1349. It was later confirmed by another Papal Bull that the Earl of Salisbury acquiesced and married another woman who remained his wife. Joan returned to her first husband and had the following children:

  • Sir Thomas de Holand II, Earl of Kent (1350-1397)
  • John de Holand, Duke of Exeter (1350-1400)
  • Edmund de Holand, Duchess of Brittany (    –    )
  • Matilda de Holand, Countess of Ligny (    –    )

Joan’s third marriage was by Papal dispensation September 10, 1361 to Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales (1330-1376), son of Edward III, King of England and Philippa de Hainaut. Edward was also known as “The Black Prince”. Joan and Edward had two sons:

  • Edward of Angoulême (1365-1372)
  • Richard II, King of England (1367- murdered in 1400)

Around 1365, Edward went to war on behalf of King Peter of Castile. After his return and by 1372, Edward was no longer able to perform his duties as Prince of Aquitaine and he returned to England, when the plaque has rampant. Joan became the Dowager Princess of Wales upon the succession of her son Richard, her elder son having died in 1372.


  1. Royal Genealogies Website;
  2. Britain’s Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy (Alison Weir, Britain’s Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy; Pimlico; Rev Ed edition (13 Jun 2002); London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999.
  3. Kings and Queens of England – The Plantagenets, The Royal Family online;, accessed.
  4. Foundation for Medieval Genealogy online;, accessed.
  5. Charles Mosley, Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage, 106th Edition (: 1999,).
  6. The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdon, Extant, Extinct or Dormant (G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume I.).
  7. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came To America Before 1700, 8th Edition (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc., 2004).
  8. George Smith, Dictionary of National Biography, Vols. 1-21 (: Oxford Press, 1885-1990).
  9. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Th.D., The Magna Carta Sureties, 1215, (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc.), 5th Ed., c1999.

Photo credit:

My ‘must have’ list of top 10 genealogy websites.

This list of top 10 genealogy websites is a bit different than others because I have evaluated them based on the sheer quantity of data and sources I have found for my own personal research, regardless whether they are paid or free.
will of Richard Chatterton found on the UK Archives site.

17th century will of Richard Chatterton found on the UK Archives site, #9 on my top 10 genealogy websites list.

I will only subscribe to a site if I’m sure it’s worth it as I can usually find most other information on free sites with some effort.

It just so happens though, that my favorite site to conduct research is a paid site, while all the rest except one are free.

Ancestry ($)

Although this site requires a paid subscription, it is the one and only site I do pay for as I find I truly do get my money’s worth. No matter what location, type of record, or time period, I can usually find something of value on this site. The search feature is rather confusing and cumbersome. Just keep in mind it’s better to be as specific as possible and use the filters appropriately and you will get fairly accurate results.

Family Search

Over the past few years, Family Search has been quickly catching up to Ancestry because of the sheer quantity of transcriptions, images, and collections they continue to make available online. They have a very accurate and intuitive search.

Library and Archives Canada

I am Canadian, with roots in both French Canada (Quebec) and Acadia (Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia). Anytime I am researching a Canadian line, this is the first site I go to – even before Ancestry and Family Search.

Nova Scotia Archives

My Acadian ancestors form a rather specialized area of research, and the Nova Scotia Archives genealogy research site is the first place I go. Original records are available for a per unit price, but I’m quite happy just printing the transcribed records for the most part.

Internet Archive

My husband’s Welsh Quaker, British, royal and new world ancestors are the largest part of my research and this is the one site I go to when I’m unable to find original records or even transcriptions of records elsewhere. I’ve found numerous genealogy studies, articles, and books; history books, etc. that have provided detailed information. It is important to remember, however, that errors were not uncommon in these publications, and I do continue to try to find more concrete sources.

Foundation for Medieval Genealogy

I am fascinated by my husband’s medieval and royal ancestry and this site is a well-researched site. Any suspect information is clearly identified and there is a clear explanation of why. Original medieval sources are cited in detail, supporting all facts and conclusions.

University of Hull Royal Database

This is also a very well researched site providing invaluable information about the royal lineages of Britain and Europe. I usually consult this site in tandem with the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy site above. This helps to confirm some information to a certain degree.

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

About 1750, my husband’s Welsh and British ancestors started arriving in the new world and the branches that took root there flourished to impact all areas of American life. Next to Ancestry, I find this site valuable for actual military files and numerous other archived documents. All requests, however, must be done by snail mail, in which case I try to avoid this site a lot. I’m definitely an instant gratification kind of person. Hopefully one day they’ll set up online access, even if it is paid. I’d certainly subscribe to this one.

UK Archives ($)

I have found some of the more interesting documents on this site, including numerous scans of original wills from the 16th to the 19th century. There is something about the old English script that I find very beautiful and it’s a suitable challenge for my puzzle oriented mind to transcribe them. There is a per unit price to download documents, but the price is very reasonable and I have no problem paying it, considering the high quality of the document scans.

World GenWeb

No one individual GenWeb site in this network is used all that much in my research, but if you consider all research found on any of the GenWeb sites, it definitely warrants a top ten position. I have listed the main World GenWeb site, which links through to the full network of other sites from other locations. By using the links, it is possible to drill down from the global and country levels to county and indeed township sites in some cases.


Richard III’s final resting place is decided.

Richard III's final resting place is decided.

Richard III’s final resting place is decided.

This morning, I read the Archives UK blog headline “Reburial of King Richard III”, describing the circumstances and controversy surrounding the decision about the location of Richard III’s final resting place.

I proceeded to read the entire article with fascination.

I have written a couple of posts regarding the search for, discovery and excavation of his burial site under the parking lot of the Greyfriars Abbey in Leicester.

The posts were:

This article on the Archives UK blog does a great job of describing “the depth of feeling generated on both sides of the recent court battle over the re-burial of the body of King Richard III.”

The dispute arose between the University of Leicester and a group of Richard’s distant relatives, the Plantagenet Alliance, arguing over whether Richard III wished to be buried in York or the grounds where his remains were found.

The evidence brought forth on both sides is clearly described in the Archives UK post and since they have done such a good job, I feel it would be redundant and a huge waste of time for me to try to write a less informative article.

To read their detailed account, the blog post can be found on the Archives UK site.

photo credit: OZinOH via photopin cc

The Starvation of the Lady of Hay

William de Briouse, starvation of the Lady of HayThe Story Behind the Starvation of the Lady of Hay

William de Briouse III (25th great grandfather to my children, Erin and Stuart) was the son of William de Briouse II, Lord of Abergavenny (as well as Briouse, Bramber, Brecon and Over-Gwent) and his wife Berthe of Hereford.

He is believed to have been born about 1155 and he died August 9, 1211 and was buried August 10, 1211 in Paris. He married Maud (Mathilde) de Saint-Valéry, Dame de la Haie of the famed tale of the starvation of the Lady of Hay, (…and 25th great grandmother to Erin and Stuart), about 1170 or 1175. Maud de Saint-Valéry was the daughter of Bernard III, de Saint-Valéry and his wife Anora (Avoris).

William III and Maud had ten children: Marguerite de Briouse (1175-1255); Laurette de Briouse (1184-?); Eleanor (?-1241); William “the Younger” IV, de Briouse (1185-1210); Philip de Briouse; Matilda de Briouse; unknown; unknown; Reynold de Briouse, Lord of Abergavenny (1178-1227); and Isobel de Briouse (1184-?).

Hay Castle, starvation of the Lady of Hay

Hay Castle, location of the starvation of the Lady of Hay and her son, William IV de Briouse.

William III was descended from William de Braose, Lord of Braose, who had received great estates at the time of the conquest in England and had settled at Bramber. William III had also inherited lands in one of either Totnes or Barnstaple through his grandmother, and had also inherited great Welsh estates of his grandfather, Bernard de Neufmarche through his mother, Bertha, including that of Hay Castle in Wales (see right).

During the reign of Richard III, William III was Sheriff of Herefordshire between 1192 and 1199 and a Justice Itinerant for Staffordshire in 1196. Having been with Richard in Normandy in 1195, he received both Totnes and Barnstaple by agreement with his original co-heir.

Upon the accession and coronation of King John (24th great grandfather to Erin and Stuart), and having achieved a place in the King’s favour, he accompanied King John to Normandy in 1200, and was granted all lands he conquered from the Welsh. he was also made Sheriff of Herefordshire between 1206 and 1207. Other lands William III had acquired through various means during these years included Limerick (without the city), custody of Glamorgan Castle, Gowerland, Grosmont, Llantilio (or White Castle), and Skenfrith Castles. , but shortly after he began to fall from favour, although the reasons for this have never been clear.

From records in the Red Book of the Exchequer, it would appear that it was a quarrel about repayment of his agreed debts. The evidence shows that in 1207, he had only paid 700 marks in total, a small portion of what should have been paid based on the agreed 500 marks per year. After being five years in arrears, the crown had the right to seize his estates. It was learned that he had removed the stock, and the king’s bailiff then acted under orders to seize him.

William III’s friends having acted on his behalf, they met with the King and William was permitted to come to the King at Hereford to surrender his castles of Hay, Brecknock, and Radnor in repayment of his arrears. William III, however, failed to make any further repayment of the debt and the King sent his men to demand hostages of William, but supposedly against William’s advice, Maud refused them. Having reached a point of no return, William attempted to seize control of his castles. However, he failed at this and subsequently attacked Leominster. As the royal forces approached, he and his family fled to Ireland and his estates were seized by the King.

William III was harboured in Ireland by friends who promised to surrender him within a certain time. However, they only sent William III when John’s invasion of Ireland became imminent. William III proceeded no further than Wales, however, where he later offered 40,000 marks in return for his lands. William’s wife, Maud, was besieged by John in Ireland and fled to Scotland, where she, her son William and his wife were captured in Galloway and escorted to John at Carrickfergus. Using Maud as leverage, John bargained for repayment of the 40,000 marks. Yet again, however, payment was not forthcoming and William III was outlawed, resulting in his fleeing in disguise to France, where he died.

His wife, Maud, who was largely blamed for his downfall, was imprisoned with her eldest son William IV by John in Corfe Castle (see above) and they were both starved to death there.

The second son, the Philip de Briouse, Bishop of Hereford, returned to England on July 16, 1214, and paid a 9,000 mark fine for his father’s lands. As this son died very soon after, John allowed the lands to then pass to the third son Reynold de Briouse on May 26, 1216, who also, under Henry III, recovered the Irish estates.


  • Foundation for Medieval Genealogy online
  • Dictionary of National Biography, Vols. 1-21; George Smith; Oxford Press, (1885-1990).
  • The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdon, Extant, Extinct or Dormant; G.E. Cokayne with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume I).
  • The Magna Carta Sureties; 1215; Weis, Frederick Lewis, Th.D. (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc.), 5th Ed., c 1999.
  • A Genealogical History of the Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited and Extinct Peerages of the British Empire; Sir Bernard Burke (1883).

photo credit: creative commons license;