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Thomas, Earl of Lancaster b. (c) 1278-1322 - Part1

Updated: Feb 16, 2022

Minority to 1313

Coat of Arms - Thomas of Lancaster

Throughout the majority of Edward II’s reign there can be little doubt that one of the biggest thorns in his side was his cousin, Thomas, earl of Lancaster. Lancaster was not only a constant source of anxiety to Edward, he was also an implacable enemy of the Despensers. It therefore pays to take a closer look at this man who, despite seemingly not possessing any charisma or political judgement, nevertheless caused Edward’s regime so much trouble. Thomas Plantagenet was born around 1278, the eldest son of Edmund, brother to Edward I and Blanche, the daughter of Robert, count of Artois (and also the son of King Louis VIII of France). His half-sister on his mother’s side, Joan, was married to Philip IV, the king of France and mother to the future kings Louis X, Philip V and Charles IV as well as Isabella, Edward II’s future queen. With such a pedigree it is little wonder that he probably expected more from the corridors of royal power and privilege than he got.

Nevertheless, in his younger days he seems to have been a favourite of Edward I, and he and his cousin, the future Edward II appear to have had a close and affectionate friendship. This is quite poignantly illustrated (especially in light of future events) by a letter Edward sent to Thomas when he was sick. In it he says that he hopes to be able to join Thomas soon and offer him some comfort.

In 1290, there were plans for Thomas to marry Beatrice, the grand-daughter of the duke of Burgundy. This, however never worked out and in 1294 he married Alice de Lacy - daughter of Henry de Lacy, the earl of Lincoln - instead. Upon his marriage he received a share of the Lacy lands plus the promise of the remainder on de Lacy’s death. The marriage was not a happy one however, and produced no children.

Edmund died in 1296, leaving his son to inherit the earldoms of Lancaster and Leicester. Although he still hadn’t come of age, his tenants were commanded to pay homage to him in July 1297. It was in this year, too, that he saw his first military service in Flanders and was knighted at Ghent on 1st November 1297. Over the next ten years Thomas’s star seemed to be in no danger of falling from favour. He fought alongside the King at Falkirk and Caerlaverock, as well as accompanying Prince Edward to Perth in 1304-5 and again to Scotland in 1306-7.

After the death of Edward I, Thomas remained on good terms with Edward II for a while - receiving royal grants including the Stewardship of England, as well as dining frequently in his company. This lasted for a good eighteen months. At this point Thomas even seemed favourable enough to Gaveston, taking no part with the other barons’ protests at his high-handedness. In this he clashed with Henry de Lacy, which must have put even more strain on his marriage with Alice.

Seal of Thomas of Lancaster

However, in the winter of 1308-9, after Gaveston’s exile, things began to change for the worse. The reasons for this are not clear but, according to an article by Andy King ('Thomas of Lancaster’s First Quarrel with Edward II', in Fourteenth-Century England III, ed. Mark Ormrod (Woodbridge Boydell & Brewer, 2004)), it may have had something to do with a petty dispute between Lancaster and the King. It was over the illegal actions of a royal official who seized a manor Lancaster thought was his. As I said, it was nothing more than a petty squabble that should have been easily solved. Instead the enmity between Lancaster and his royal cousin grew out of all proportion and was to have a huge effect on the realm thereafter.

Of course it may be that there were other factors involved in Lancaster’s disaffection - ones that have not been recorded for us to see. But the upshot of it all was that, as the other barons reconciled with Edward during Gaveston’s absence, Lancaster removed himself from court and the king stopped granting him favours. He even opposed Gaveston’s recall to court in June 1309 even though he had previously been on friendly enough terms with the man.

Of course, Gaveston being Gaveston, he was soon stirring up discontent among the nobility again. This time Lancaster joined the opposition and, during a tournament at Dunstable, he and the other earls drew up a charter of complaints against the king, including judicial malpractices and abuses as well as the practice of purveyance (the right of the Crown to requisition goods and food needed for household and military use) - something which had become an oppressive burden on the country at this time. One of the chief aims of the charter, though, was to once again remove Gaveston from the King’s side. Lancaster seems to have thrown himself into his role with great enthusiasm and soon appeared to be the figurehead for the rest of the dissenters.

At the Parliament in February 1310, Lancaster presented a list of complaints to Edward and in March Edward agreed to appoint a number of lords and clergy to look into reforming royal and government policy. These twenty-one men, headed by Lancaster, became known as the Lords Ordainers. A year and a half later, in August 1311, they presented a document of Ordinances. Edward seems to have tried to avoid the whole thing in the intervening time by arranging to be on campaign in Scotland with Gaveston - a campaign that really couldn’t achieve a lot because the dissenting earls and barons refused to send troops.

By August 1311 Edward couldn’t really avoid the issue any longer. He was forced to face up to the earls’ demands for reform. Many of the Ordinances were indeed sensible measures to ensure good government and to prevent abuses against the common people. They also demanded that the baronage should provide their consent in parliament for any new laws or wars the King decided upon. So far, so good, but other ordinances designed to reform the royal household called again for Gaveston’s exile. Not surprisingly, the king baulked. To begin with he refused to accept any of them as he felt that they controlled his divine right of kingship. Then he agreed to accede to them all as long as the one concerning Gaveston was revoked. In the end he was forced to accept the exiling of his favourite as well, under threat of rebellion.

Gaveston left English shores in early November 1311, but not for long. It appears that he returned to England again either by Christmas or in early January: obviously Edward was not prepared to be separated from his beloved for anything. Also, Piers’ wife, Margaret had just given birth to a baby daughter and it is also possible that Piers had returned to see her too. Whatever the reason, Edward revoked the Ordinances and Gaveston’s exile at York in January 1312 and restored his friend to his lands and his earldom.

The Lords Ordainers, were, of course suitably outraged. Archbishop Winchelsea had Gaveston excommunicated and Lancaster demanded his surrender and exile. Predictably Edward refused point blank and the rebel barons started to head north, intent on a confrontation. On 4th May Lancaster took hold of Newcastle, where Edward and Piers had been staying, but they had already fled by sea to the heavily fortified Scarborough castle. For some reason, Edward left Piers there for his own safety and travelled to York via Knaresborough. Why he left him is uncertain - the Vita claim it was an accident, although it would seem a careless one if so. Other chronicles maintain that it was deliberate. There is some record that seems to indicate that while at Newcastle, Piers had suffered some form of illness: the King’s wardrobe accounts detail the costs of a physician and a monk brought in to look after him. Perhaps at Scarborough he suffered a relapse and was unable to ride any further.

Whatever the reason, the Ordainers caught up with Gaveston at Scarborough and besieged the castle until he was forced to surrender to Pembroke, Warenne and Percy. Lancaster had left the siege earlier, worried that his forces would add to logistical problems due to their size. A truce was worked out - probably between the moderate Pembroke and the King whose terms were more than favourable to Gaveston’s future. However as Pembroke travelled south with his prisoner to meet with the king, he was attacked at Deddington by the earl of Warwick who seized Gaveston from under Pembroke’s nose. Gaveston was then taken to Warwick Castle, ‘tried’ by the earls of Lancaster and Warwick and sentences to be executed. On 19th June, he was then taken a few miles away to Blacklow Hill, on the earl of Lancaster’s lands, run through with a sword and beheaded.

The abduction of a prisoner from the safe-keeping of one earl by another and the violence used to secure Lancaster’s ends did nothing to help his cause. The earls Pembroke and Warenne turned back to the king’s side along with others in the moderate camp. Negotiations with Lancaster and the other rebels continued but for now Edward had the upper hand. Lancaster was forced to return Gaveston’s stolen horses and jewels and in return he and the other barons were pardoned. Also, to add further to Lancaster’s woes, one of his main allies, Bishop Winchelsea, died in February 1313 and he lost the backing of the clergy for the Ordinances.

From what was possibly a petty beginning to Thomas’s feud with Edward, things had now turned nasty with Gaveston’s death. He may have been pardoned, but Edward was not the sort just to forgive and forget the murder of the one man he loved above all others. Lancaster had dug himself a pretty big hole, and over the next years, instead of trying to lie low, he just kept on digging.

1314 - 1318

The year 1314 saw yet another Scottish campaign. Edward issued writs summoning his earls and their armies to battle. Pembroke, Gloucester and Hereford answered the call but Lancaster, Warenne, Warwick and Arundel did not - claiming that parliament had not ratified the summons. Without their numbers, Edward was weakened but still continued, ending with his sound and humiliating defeat at Bannockburn in June at which Gloucester was killed.

The ignominy of the Scottish campaign seemed to completely dampen Edward’s spirits, as if they weren’t low enough since Gaveston’s death. He suddenly seemed to accept that he needed Lancaster’s help and that his defeat had been some kind of divine message over his refusal to support the Ordinances. After Bannockburn, Lancaster rose to power once more, taking a leading role in government and implementing all of the Ordinances. Edward was forced to listen to his council and take his advice. Lancaster was the most powerful earl in the land once again but his power was based far more on his vast estates rather than on his friends and connections which seemed to be getting fewer and fewer (through both death and desertion) as time went by.

The death of his father in law, de Lacy, in 1311 had brought him two new earldoms - those of Lincoln and Salisbury. This meant that he was now in control of five earldoms and land which more or less stretched from coast to coast in England. His income was valued at around £11,000 a year making him the wealthiest of all the magnates apart from the king himself. Such vast lands meant that he also had a huge retinue across a large swathe of England - a private army upon which he could call to defend his position should he need to do so. And yet, within a few years, it would all change again due to his ineptitude, greed and lack of political judgement.

The years between 1314 and 1317 were particularly hard ones for Edward II and his regime to deal with. For a start the Scots continued to attack the north of England with impunity and between 1315 and 1317 a famine ravaged the land. These were the years when England needed a strong king and officials - instead it got Edward and Lancaster. To be fair, Lancaster did his best to implement the Ordinances in full, purging the royal household and local government of men thought to be bad for the running of the country (in other words hostile to Lancaster), and he also attempted to get the country’s finances back into shape by limiting spending. Unfortunately his plans to lead a campaign to Scotland in 1315 came to nothing when the famine thwarted any attempts to provision the army and he also had to deal with a revolt on his lands led by one of his retainers, Adam Banaster. To add to his woes, his main ally, the earl of Warwick, died in August.

From that point Lancaster was rarely seen at Westminster, preferring to govern from his own lands instead. Maybe it was the fear of further revolt that kept him at home or else the uncomfortable atmosphere that must have still existed between him and the king after Gaveston’s death. Although he still championed reform and gave advice it was clear that the gap between himself and Edward was growing. At a parliament in York in 1316 they had a blazing quarrel about the king’s continuing reluctance to implement the Ordinances. Later that year salt was rubbed into the wound as the Queen’s candidate for the see of Durham was chosen above Lancaster’s choice. And then, to cap it all, he was replaced by the earl of Arundel as the Captain of the Northern Forces.

Lancaster’s self-imposed absence from court during these years did him no favours, especially when he also refused to attend the council of Ordainers at Clarendon in 1317. It seemed that Edward was setting up his own little council circle consisting of men who, by marriage and favouritism, had suddenly become powerful: Hugh Audley, Roger Damory, William Montague and Hugh Despenser the elder. Audley and Damory had married two of the co-heiresses of the Gloucester inheritance - Margaret and Elizabeth respectively. The other sister, Eleanor, was, of course, married to Hugh Despenser the younger, a man who in another year would out-shine and out-do the others in terms of Edward’s adoration and his own ambitions.

Meanwhile, to add to Lancaster’s trouble, his wife was abducted by John de Warenne, earl of Surrey in April 1317. Although their marriage seems to have been loveless, it was the principle that was at stake and the event started a feud between Lancaster and Surrey. Surrey’s marriage was also loveless - in fact he had made a lifetime career of trying to divorce his wife, Joan of Bar. However, there does not seem to be any suggestion of a romance between him and Alice de Lacy, which is a shame because it would have made for a good story. Instead it has been suggested - first of all by Lancaster himself, that the abduction was carried out with help from others at Edward’s court, so maybe it was a move designed to humiliate him. I can certainly imagine that a few of his enemies found the whole thing humourous to say the least.

The favourites Damory and Audley (and to a lesser extent Montague) were still living off the King’s largesse like parasites, the elder Despenser still close to Edward, and with the other earls and barons now seemingly reconciled to the way things were. No wonder then that Lancaster felt he had no choice but to show his dissent through violent action. He launched attacks on the lands of both Damory and Warenne, seizing castles belonging to them and raising the spectre of civil war. It has also been suggested that he was behind an attack on Louis Beaumont - the new Bishop of Durham, and his brother Henry - as well as two papal legates, but as there is no real evidence of his complicity in the plot, it is perhaps best to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.

To be fair to Lancaster, many of his complaints against the court - such as lack of adherence to the Ordinances, were justified, and his objections by letter did as much good as a paper boat in a flood. Nevertheless, what he did next was irrational, even by his standards of diplomacy - he tried to bring in the Scots on his side - a move that was guaranteed to get Edward’s attention.

No matter how angry he was with Lancaster though, it was still within Edward’s best interests to try and negotiate with his cousin. Lancaster still represented a powerful force for instability within the country and with his large retinue, land ownership and a possible alliance with Bruce, he posed a considerable threat to Edward’s regime. Mediation was attempted through the prelates, the earls of Pembroke and Hereford and also Bartholomew Badlesmere. To try and soothe troubled waters, the three nobles managed to get Damory to agree to constrain the amount of patronage he received from the king - but to Lancaster this was never going to be enough. His demands remained constant - the enforcement of the Ordinances and the removal of men such as Damory and Audley from the court altogether - with their grants confiscated.

Of course, Edward was never going to agree to that and so the negotiations continued, the arguments going back and forth. Eventually, an agreement was reached in August 1318 at Leake in Staffordshire. Known as the Treaty of Leake, it acknowledged that the Ordinances were to be maintained and that this would be overseen by a new council. However, on this council, Lancaster was to be represented by a banneret only and - even worse for him - many of the members of the council were the courtiers that Lancaster so detested. On the plus side though, Lancaster and his followers were to receive pardons for any wrong-doing.

The Treaty of Leake was confirmed by the York parliament of October 1318 which saw more changes. There was a limited reform of the king’s household - which included the appointment of Hugh Despenser the younger to the powerful position of Chamberlain. Amazingly Lancaster seems to have given his consent - albeit probably reluctantly - to his selection, even though he detested Hugh the elder’s influence. Maybe it was because at the time the younger Hugh was not high in Edward’s favour and therefore was not seen as another potential Gaveston or Damory. Also, it seems that Hugh gave an undertaking not to bring his father into the presence of the king, which suggests that there was an understanding that Hugh and his father were not, at that moment, very close. It certainly appears, at this moment in time, that the barons thought Hugh Despenser was their man. How wrong could they be?

But back to Lancaster. Why then did he just seem to lie down and roll over after making such forcible protests? It seems that his principles actually weren’t quite so strong in the face of financial inducements. Edward arranged for several courtiers to acknowledge debts to him for large amounts of money. More importantly, Warenne was ‘persuaded’ into making peace with his former enemy - and granted him all of his lands in Yorkshire and North Wales. In some ways Lancaster had come out of the situation quite well - in terms of financial and land gain anyway. But morally he had completely lost the high ground and in doing so allowed a man into power - Hugh Despenser the younger - who was to prove so instrumental in his eventual downfall.


During the first part of 1319 all seemed to be well again. Lancaster seemed pleased with the agreement that had been reached and he even managed to drag himself away from Pontefract. In May he attended the parliament at York and even seemed to be in a happy mood for once - although this may have had something to do with the fact that his enemy, Hugh Despenser the elder was not present - having gone on pilgrimage. He petitioned Edward for the right to appoint the steward of the household, which, had it succeeded, would have meant that Lancaster would have had control over household spending, giving him a very powerful hand on the rudder. Of course, the petition was refused, but, for once, this did not seem to send Lancaster back into his usual sulks.

Later that year, Edward organised another Scottish campaign and this time Lancaster gave him the support of his forces - something Edward desperately needed after the fiasco of the last attempt. However, Lancaster insisted that his army was paid for by him, and not the crown - a move that gave him freedom from any obligations or contracts that came from remuneration from the king. In other words, he was still his own man.

Even with Lancaster’s presence, the offensive was another shambles - largely due to Edward’s political incompetence. It all started at the siege of Berwick in September, when the barons discovered that Edward had already promised the custody of the town to the younger Despenser and Damory. With all the dissent and arguments that ensued, the Scots managed to sneak by their attacker sand started laying waste to Yorkshire. As a result, Lancaster withdrew his support and Edward was forced to make a truce with the Bruce in December. There were some rumours that Lancaster had been collaborating with the Scots (probably after his involvement with them in 1318) but there seems to be no evidence for this and at this time it does seem unlikely.

By the start of 1320, everything was back to how it had been in 1316-18. Lancaster refused to attend the York parliament in January and remained in his lands. Favourites again seemed to rule Edward’s heart and mind - not to mention his patronage. In particular Hugh Despenser the younger was growing ever more powerful, extending his lands in south Wales by illegal and violent means guaranteed to alienate the Marcher lords at court. Even worse for Lancaster, Edward managed to successfully petition the pope to absolve him from his oath to the Ordinances. Now it seemed that Edward was free to do as he wished.

It wasn’t just the land-grabbing greed of Hugh Despenser that infuriated the magnates at Edward’s court - it was also the fact that he and his father had complete control over who could see the king (and only then through bribes), as well as any written communication. In effect, they now had the means to extend themselves as much as they wanted - in theory anyway. In practice, they had to get past the likes of the earl of Hereford, Damory and Audley (who were now out of favour) and the de Mortimers.

Angered by what they saw as a complete disregard of ancient Marcher traditions in the way that Despenser took the lordship of Gower, they organised a coalition against him and asked Lancaster for his help. He must have been rather pleased that the southern barons were now, at long last, not only on his wavelength, but also seeing in him a natural leader for their campaign. Through various meetings, the Marcher lords and Lancaster produced a list of grievances to be presented to the king at the July parliament by the earl of Hereford. This included a request that the younger Despenser be removed from court and temporarily given into the custody of Lancaster. Of course, Edward was never going to surrender Hugh Despenser, and especially not to the man who had had his other favourite, Gaveston, murdered. With the petition falling on completely deaf ears, the stage was set for the beginnings of a civil war.

The marcher lords invaded the Despenser lands, as well as those of their allies, and wreaked destruction on a massive scale burning villages and crops and causing mass misery for those who depended upon the land. Strangely, while this was going on, Lancaster took no physical part in the assaults, preferring, once more, to stay in the north and arrange things from there. It is not clear why he took the passive option, but possibly it had something to do with the participation of his former enemies Damory and Badlesmere. Lancaster was the sort of man not only to hold a long grudge, but also to let it influence his actions, even if it was unhelpful to the eventual goal.

He arranged two more meetings, firstly at Pontefract in May, and secondly in Sherburn in June, both with the purpose of strengthening the coalition against the crown and drawing up a general bill of grievances. Lancaster also tried to get the northern lords to join with him in his purpose to oust the Despensers, but in this he failed. His neighbours would only agree to join him if they felt that their mutual interests were being threatened, and at that time, they were untroubled by the Despensers’ rapaciousness.

The wholesale devastation of the Despenser estates continued throughout the summer, with the rebels - or Contrariants as they became known - moving south towards London. Even Pembroke, that most diplomatic and least radical of the earls now also seemed to be siding with the marchers while also acting as mediator between the two sides. It was mainly his council that eventually persuaded Edward that he had no choice but to acquiesce if he was to avoid an all out civil war. Reluctantly, Edward agreed to the rebels’ demands and the Despensers were sent into exile.

With their main objective achieved, the marchers relaxed their guard. This was enough to allow the infuriated Edward to now go on the defensive. It started when Queen Isabella was refused entry to Badlesmere’s Leeds Castle. This was most probably a contrived event because Edward must have known that a rebel-owned fortress would not have wanted a royal presence within its walls.

Nevertheless, Edward now had the excuse to hit back and so he laid siege to the castle. Badlesmere, who was still fighting with the Contrariant forces, requested their assistance in raising the siege but Lancaster forbade them to help. And then, when they retreated back north to Pontefract, Lancaster also refused his former enemy a place of refuge. His private grudges had once again got in the way of good sense and good leadership - something that was becoming apparent to both his allies and his men, who began to desert him.

Lancaster was now becoming desperate. It seemed that he was hell-bent on armed conflict with his cousin, the king, and his former supporters were becoming less and less keen on taking that risk - especially with Lancaster’s deficiencies. With his support waning, he called another meeting in November to try and encourage more aid from other quarters - including men known to be strong supporters of the king. Of course, that was just clutching at straws. His desperation was further revealed when he appealed for help from the people of London - an unreliable and fickle mass of people at the best of times. And then he went one unforgivable step further - he looked north - towards Scotland.

Such a treasonable move was bound to lose him the moral high ground on which he had previously stood. Nevertheless, the Contrariants now had no option but to fight as Edward slowly moved his forces northward. Even so, they still tried to negotiate with the king and in December sent a message asking for him to approve the exile of the Despensers. Unfortunately for them, a recent ecclesiastical council had already declared the exiles unlawful and the two men had now returned. Edward now seemed to hold all the cards and must have had a smirk on his face when he replied that Lancaster had been lacking in duty and care towards the kingdom and, in his demands, was treating him, the king, as if he were the earl’s subject.

Throughout December and January skirmishes continued between the royalists and the rebels as Edward sought to cross the Severn and found their progress blocked - mainly by the earl of Hereford’s men. For a while it seemed that the marcher barons had the upper hand by capturing three strategic towns and defeating Edward’s forces at Bridgenorth. Finally, at Shrewsbury, Edward managed to cross the Severn and move against the Mortimers. Without support from their Welsh tenants, the Mortimers now suddenly found themselves isolated and were forced to surrender.

News of this crushing defeat caused a great deal of despair among the rebels. The Mortimers were renowned warriors and their capitulation must have seemed like a bad omen. The elder Audley, Maurice de Berkeley and Rhys ap Howel also surrendered and Hereford found it suddenly prudent to remove his forces from Gloucester and head north to Pontefract before he was cut off. Once again the coalition had been damaged by Lancaster’s inability to mobilise his forces to reinforce his allies. His timely intervention on the marches may have completely altered what happened next, but instead he lingered in the north (although whether this was because he was unable or unwilling is still a matter of debate).

Lancaster now laid siege to Tickhill castle which was under the control of William de Aune, one of Edward’s spies. Edward now swung north, to the aid of his constable, bearing down upon Lancaster’s crumbling army. Desertions were now at an all time high and the 10th March saw the most high profile desertion of all. Robert Holland had previously been one of Lancaster’s most loyal aides but now the man had abandoned him and gone over to Edward. Sensing that he was now in danger, Lancaster fled north, along with Hereford, probably hoping to reach his castle at Dunstanburgh.

Now they found themselves trapped between forces loyal to Edward in the north - led by Andrew de Harclay and Edward’s own army pursuing them from the south. The clash finally came on the 16th March at Boroughbridge when de Harclay engineered a brilliant offensive against them. See here for a more detailed description of the battle. Hereford was killed and Lancaster was eventually captured, bringing to an end the hopes and ideals of all those who had opposed the king. Lancaster was taken first to York and then to Pontefract where he was condemned in what amounted to a show trial. The sentence was originally that he be hanged, drawn and beheaded for acts of treason but because of his royal blood this was reduced to beheading. This took place on March 22nd 1322 at a place just outside the castle.

The Execution of Thomas of Lancaster from the Luttrell Psalter

Lancaster’s Character

After his death, Thomas of Lancaster - strangely - began to be seen as a potential saint. It was claimed that miracles happened around his tomb, and pilgrims started flocking to his place of burial at Pontefract. Soon it became expedient for the king to close the church and set an armed guard to deter those who still insisted on pilgrimage. That Thomas should be elevated to such exalted levels of holiness would have seemed completely ironic - and rather daft - to those who knew his real character, for the real Thomas was anything but angelic.

Despite his seemingly high ideals about the poor and oppressed, fair patronage and justice, records show that Thomas was actually as vicious, ruthless and corrupt as those he opposed. He was well known for ignoring the matter of the law, especially when he wanted to take land and manors and his harshness as a landlord was also legendary. He seemed to have a complete disregard towards women: his wife Alice left him in 1317 after what was most likely a loveless (and childless) marriage and one chronicler, Higden, claimed that he ‘defouled a greet multitude of wommen and of gentil wenches.’

He was easily offended and bore grudges - a trait which did not inspire loyalty in those around him. He wanted power and yet when challenged at court tended to stay and brood on his estates. He found it difficult to keep friends and allies - especially among his neighbours in the north and the bishops. In addition, when he did have allies, they could not always rely on him for military support - as was the case in the days before Boroughbridge. In conclusion - despite his royal blood, wealth and position, he was a desperately flawed individual who seemed to have a talent for making as hard as possible for both himself and those around him.

Edward II certainly had his faults as a king and many of Lancaster’s Ordinances were indeed worthy suggestions for much needed reform. Yet, Lancaster’s heavy-handedness and lack of diplomacy not only ensured their failure but also forced Edward into un-necessary conflicts, without which his reign may have turned out - at least a little - differently.

Main Sources:

Biography of Thomas, earl of Lancaster - Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Online

Thomas of Lancaster 1307-1322 by J.R. Maddicott

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