Lesson 1: For this lesson you will need the following pages on the website, Herleva of Falaise, Gilbert, Count of Brionne and Robert, Duke of Normandy. The purpose of this lesson is to show the links between Richard Fitz Gilbert and William the Conqueror. Richard's father, Gilbert, Count of Brionne, was the grandson of Richard the Fearless, Duke of Normandy.
There is some dispute about the identity of Richard's mother. While some historians believe the Richard was the result of a relationship between Gilbert, Count of Brionne and Herleva, others believe the evidence is unreliable. However, historians do agree that the four boys were brought up together and that Richard's father was killed while protecting William from Norman barons.
The other connection between the two families was that William the Conqueror married Matilda, the daughter of Baldwin of Flanders (Richard Fitz Gilbert's brother). It is said that the married couple looked strange together as William was nearly 6 feet tall while Matilda was only 4 feet 2 inches.
Some books call William's mother Arletta. As this was a nickname, I have kept to her original name of Herleva.
(Question 5) Gilbert was already married. It is not known for certain why Robert did not marry Herleva. Her humble background was obviously one reason. Robert also hoped to marry into another powerful family in Europe. Even so, some historians are surprised that Robert did not marry Herleva before he went on his pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1034 (he died on his way home in 1035). He was obviously worried about not returning and he got his barons to promise they would accept his illegitimate son as leader if he died on the journey.
Lessons 2: An opportunity for an extended writing assignment on the Battle of Hastings. Pupils will need H1 Arms and Armour, H2 Accounts of the Battle, H3 The Battle of Hastings, H4 English & Norman Historians, H5 Norman Victory and the H6 Map of the Battlefield.
Initially the task will probably appear to be difficult for Year 7 pupils. However, the exercise is highly structured and we were very pleased with the standard of work that the pupils achieved. We spent the first lesson reading and discussing the materials. The written work was completed in lessons three and four.
William's ship 'Mora' was larger and faster than the other Norman ships. William of Poitiers claims that 'Mora' arrived on the English coast several hours before the others. Only two ships were lost. One landed at Romney and all the Normans on board were killed by local people. The other ship sunk on the journey. This ship contained the expedition's soothsayer. William was said not to be too upset by the loss of his soothsayer as the man had failed to predict his own death.
William of Poitiers claims that William had 3,000 ships and an army of 50,000 "volunteers". Historians now believe it was about 450 ships, 8,000 men and 2,000 horses.
I have used the term 'Battle of Hastings' even though it is geographically incorrect - the battlefield was 10 kilometres from Hastings. Early historians such as Orderic Vitalis always referred to it as the 'Battle of Senlac Hill'. William of Poitiers suggests that the English army easily outnumbered the Normans. This is incorrect. Modern historians believe that there were about 7,000 English soldiers at the battle. Only 1,000 of these were well-armed members of the 'housecarls'. William of Poitiers' account suggests that the Normans were particularly concerned with the English use of the long-handled battle-axe.
It has been claimed that several mistakes have been made concerning the appearance of the housecarls on the Bayeux Tapestry. For example, it does not show the long hair of the English soldiers and the long leather flaps attached to their helmets. Housecarls also wore sandals and had trousers with straps under the feet.
The battle lasted for eight hours. It has been estimated that William lost 30% of his men. The number of English soldiers killed was much higher. The Normans afterwards called the battle 'Sanguelac' (Blood Lake). William of Jumieges claims Harold was killed at the start of the battle. The author was unwilling to accept that Harold fought a long and brave fight. William of Poitiers on the other hand praised the bravery of Harold and his men. An example of two different types of Norman propaganda.
Lesson 3: You will need the information sheets Norman Castles and Tonbridge Castle. This lesson is only concerned with motte and bailey castles. The plan is to look at stone castles in later lessons. The drawing of the motte and bailey castle is based on archaeological evidence. The original motte and to a certain extent, the bailey, can still be seen at Tonbridge. The artist also made extensive use of the Norman motte and bailey castle at Dinan and Rennes that appear on the Bayeux Tapestry. Richard de Clare also built motte and bailey castles at Clare in Suffolk, Bletchingly in Surrey and Hanley in Worcestershire.
The information on Richard de Clare's castles and estates comes from the following books and articles: Michael Altschul, A Baronial Family in Medieval England: The Clares, 1217-1314 (John Hopkins Press, 1965), Gladys Thornton, History of Clare (Heffer, 1949). N. J. G. Pounds, The Medieval Castle (Cambridge, 1990). Jane Oliphant, Tonbridge Castle (Tonbridge, 1992), W. V. Dumbreck, The Lowry of Tonbridge (The Archaeolgia Cantiana: Volume 72, 1958) and Jennifer C. Ward, The Lowry of Tonbridge and the Lands of the Clare Family in Kent: 1066-1217 (The Archaeolgia Cantiana: Volume 96, 1980) and Edward Hasted, The History and Topographical Survey of Kent (Canterbury, 1798)
Lesson 4: For this lesson you will need the following: Feudal System, Feudalism Chart, and the Clare Estates in 1086. The main idea of the lesson is to give a concrete example of how the feudal system worked. In order to provide William with sixty knights, Richard de Clare had to find under-tenants like Roger de Abernon. Most of these knights had served under Richard de Clare at the Battle of Hastings. These knights often adopted coats of arms similar to their overlord. The chevron was a common feature on the arms of the knights controlled by Richard de Clare.
William was always worried about the possibility that his barons would try to overthrow him. He tended to grant land surrounding his base in London to his half-brothers, Odo of Bayeux, Robert of Mortain and Richard de Clare. However, he did not completely trust these men and so he did not give them complete power over any one area. Mixing manors up like this sometimes created conflict between the tenants-in-chief. For example, Richard de Clare and the Archbishop of Canterbury were constantly arguing over land in Kent. This is a problem that will be considered when we look at Thomas Becket.
The Domesday survey revealed just how much land Richard de Clare controlled. The land in East Anglia and Essex was
worth £591 3s. 6d. in 1086. He also had large estates in Kent (£109 12s. 5d.) and Surrey (£238 14s. Id.). Standon, was the only manor that the Clares held in Hertfordshire. It was also the only one held in his wife's name. Stigand, the previous owner of Standon, had been appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 1052 and had played an important role in King Harold's coronation. After Harold's death in 1066, Stigand supported Edgar Etheling's claim to the throne. Stigand was captured by the Normans and forced to crown William king of England. Stigand was kept prisoner in Winchester until his death in 1072.
Lesson 5: You will need Richard Fitz Gilbert, William Rufus, William of Malmesbury, and Robert Curthose. As the two sources indicate, historians disagree about the Clare involvement in the death of William Rufus. As Barlow points out, there is no hard evidence that would prove the Clares guilty of this charge. J. H. Round, an expert on this period, was
convinced of their guilt. In his book Feudal England he provides a long list of the different ways that the Clare family benefited from the death of William Rufus. Round also interprets Henry's speed of action as proof that he knew that his brother was going to be murdered. He also points out that after he became king, Henry did not attempt to punish Walter Tirel for his actions.
Lesson 7: You will need Henry II for this lesson.
(Q1) The right order was (d) The death of Henry I's son William; (b) The death of Henry I; (c) The Civil War between Stephen and Matilda; (a) The Treaty of Westminster. The death of William left Henry I without a legitimate male heir. When Henry I died, his daughter Matilda attempted to become England's new monarch. However, the Norman barons were divided on the issue and civil war broke out between the supporters of Matilda and Stephen. This civil war only ended with the signing of the Treaty of Westminster in 1153.
(Q2) (i) An opinion is a view or judgement formed about a particular matter. For example, Peter of Blois is expressing an opinion when he wrote: "I hardly dare say it, but I believe that in truth he took a delight in seeing what a fix he put us in." (ii) A fact is something that has actually happened. For example, Peter of Blois is expressing a fact when he wrote: "Many a time when the king was sleeping, a message would be passed from his chamber about a city or town he intended to go to."
(Q3) Gerald of Wales points out in source 2 that Henry II was involved in fighting wars "in remote and foreign lands". Source A shows that Henry controlled large areas of land in Europe.
(Q4) William of Newburgh lived during the reign of Henry II. He met several people who knew Henry II and his book is an important source of information about this period. The books of Gerald of Wales are some of the best sources that we have on Henry II's reign. Gerald of Wales worked for Henry for several years and was in a good position to make judgements about his achievements as king.
(Q5) Historians are interested when people wrote and published accounts of Henry II for several different reasons. This information might help the historian discover whether the writer was describing events he had actually witnessed. If the author wrote his account soon after the event had taken place, there is less chance of him making factual errors. However, if the accounts were written a long time after the event had taken place, the historian would want to know what sources the author had consulted before writing his account. If these authors wrote and published their accounts while Henry was still alive, it is possible they would have been too afraid of their king to say bad things about him.
(Q6) In source 6, Gerald of Wales claims that because of the expense of fighting so many wars Henry "drew into his own treasury... the revenues of the churches." Gerald also claims that Henry was so busy he "could scarcely spare an hour to
hear mass". Source 5 indicates that Henry liked to decide who should become the leaders of the Church. In the writ that he sent to those electing the Bishop of Winchester, Henry told them who they had to choose.
(Q7) One of the main reasons why the people wanted Henry to be king was that it provided an opportunity for the country to become united again. After the signing of the Treaty of Westminster, Henry had the support of both sides in the civil war. Gerald of Wales points out that Henry II brought peace to England. To maintain the peace between the two factions he allowed several of Stephen's officials to keep their government posts. Henry also arranged marriages between the two rival families. According to William of Newburgh, the laws of England became "dead and buried" during Stephen's reign. One of the ways Henry maintained the support of the English people was to make sure the laws of England were enforced fairly. In source 7, Peter of Blois argues that Henry was constantly inquiring what "everyone was doing, especially judges whom he made judges of others." Henry was a skilled military leader (source 2). This was important as under his rule, English people felt safe from foreign invasion.
Lesson 8: You will need Thomas Becket for this lesson.
(Q1) (i) Sources 2 and 5 both describe Thomas Becket when he was chancellor. It is important to remember that Henry II was a close friend of Becket when he was chancellor. Source 2 indicates that the two men were still friends at this point. Source 2 also illustrates Becket's fondness for fine clothes that he had when he was chancellor. Source 5 is a description of Thomas Becket as chancellor and army commander of Henry's troops. (ii) Source 1 contains a description of Becket wearing his hair-shirt. As chancellor Becket loved wearing fine clothes and it was only when he became archbishop that he started wearing a hair-shirt.
(Q2) Before he became archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket had a reputation for being a cruel military commander and having expensive tastes in food, wine and clothes. Becket was also a close friend of Henry II. Many people claimed that Thomas Becket was the wrong man to lead the Church in England. Becket was determined to
show that his critics were wrong. He began to give away his money to the poor. Becket also changed his expensive clothes for a simple monastic habit. He also punished himself for the sins he committed while he was Henry's chancellor (he slept on a cold floor, wore a hairshirt and was scourged daily). Becket also showed that he was an independent leader of the church when he disagreed with Henry's policy on church courts.
(Q3) Sources 2 and 5 both describe Thomas Becket when he was chancellor. It is important to remember that Henry II was a close friend of Becket when he was chancellor. Source B indicates that the two men were still friends at this point. Source 2 also illustrates Becket's fondness for fine clothes that he had when he was chancellor. Source 5 is a description of Thomas Becket as chancellor and army commander of Henry's troops. (Ii) Source 1 contains a description of Becket wearing his hair-shirt. As chancellor Becket loved wearing fine clothes and it was only when he became archbishop that he started wearing a hair-shirt.
(Q4) Henry was very concerned about the number of people who could demand to be tried by church courts rather than by his courts. As Henry made money from his courts, he had economic reasons for wanting to reduce the number of people appearing before church courts. Henry was also worried about the increase in serious crime. People found guilty in church courts suffered less severe punishment than in other courts. Henry believed that if he were able to punish clerics found guilty in church courts, it would deter other clerics from committing serious crimes in the future.
(Q5) (i) Source 5 claims that Becket was a cruel soldier ("He destroyed cities and towns, put manors and farms to the torch without a thought of pity".) Source 2 illustrates Becket's love of fine clothes and his unwillingness to help the poor. (Ii) Source 6 shows that Thomas Becket was interested in correcting any faults he might have had. He was aware that people were reluctant to openly criticise people with power. Source 1 illustrates Becket's willingness to punish himself for previous sins by wearing a hair-shirt.
In order to obtain an accurate and balanced picture of Becket it would be important for a historian to consult all these sources. For example, sources 1 and 6 help to show how Becket changed when he became archbishop of Canterbury.
(Q6) As close friends of Thomas Becket, William FitzStephen, Edward Grim and Herbert of Bosham were all able to write detailed accounts of his life. Historians always have to be careful about biographies written by friends of the subject. There is always the danger they will emphasis the subject's good points. They might also leave out bad things about the person. However, as you can see from sources 2 and 5, this is not always the case as Edward Grim and William FitzStephen were both willing to criticise Thomas Becket.
Lesson 9: You will need Archbishop of Canterbury, Lanfranc, Thomas Becket, Edward Grim, Drawing of the Cathedral and Kentish Manors in 1160. This lesson provides an opportunity for the more able student to look at primary sources in some depth. Edward Grim provides a very detailed account of the death of Thomas Becket. Although John of Salisbury, William Fitz Stephen, Benedict of Peterborough and William of Canterbury (who were also at the Cathedral at the time) disagree with Edward Grim about minor details, his account is judged by most historians to be very reliable.
The earls of Clare had a long drawn out dispute with the archbishops of Canterbury over the control of manors in Kent. As Kentish Manors in 1160 shows, the manors of these two landowners were very close together. Thomas Becket's dispute with Roger de Clare was primarily over the ownership of Tonbridge. Henry II intervened in the dispute and ruled in favour of Roger de Clare.
Lesson 10: You will need worksheet Pilgrimage, Pilgrimage to Canterbury and Norman Monasteries for this lesson. Roger de Clare, who was probably involved in Thomas Becket's death, is known to have visited Thomas Becket's tomb. He also believed that the tomb had miraculous healing powers. On two occasions, Roger and his wife Matilda, took their sickly son James, to the tomb. According to the Memorials of Thomas Becket, both times James was cured. However, James did not survive into adulthood.
On 11th July, 1337, there was a fire at the Priory of St Mary Magdalene in Tonbridge. The church, chapter-house, dormitory, refectory, library and the vestry were destroyed. So also was a large collection of books, documents, ornaments and relics. The Archbishop of Canterbury granted indulgences of 40 days to all those who agreed to assist the rebuilding of the priory. By the time the new priory had been completed a total of 8 years and 230 days of indulgences had been granted to those who had provided financial assistance.
(Q1) The pilgrim in the woodcut is wearing metal badges that have been stamped with the symbol of the shrine that he had visited. Pilgrims wore these badges on their hat so that people would know they had visited these holy places.
(Q2) People still go on pilgrimages to holy shrines today. For example, every year thousands of people visit places such as Lourdes in France. Many people go hoping to be cured from illness. The Church claims that since 1858, sixty-four miracles have taken place at Lourdes. People also buy badges at places like Lourdes. However, whereas in the Middle Ages they tended to put them on their hats, today they are more likely to put them on their cars. People still visit holy shrines in groups. However, unlike medieval pilgrims these people would be part of a group organised by a holiday tour company. Whereas people walked to holy shrines, today people go by coach, car, train and plane.
(Q3) It was fairly common in the Middle Ages for people to claim that they had a piece of the cross used to crucify Jesus Christ. As it was impossible to prove that these relics were genuine, most monasteries were suspicious of claims made by visitors. However, Brabham monastery appears to have been convinced that the relic was genuine. The monastery had a good reason for wanting to believe in the relic. Brabham monastery was very poor and the monks thought that if the relic did make miracles happen, it would solve their financial problems. Monasteries charged pilgrims to see relics, and so it was possible to make a lot of money this way.
Lesson 11: You will need King John, Magna Carta, Richard of Clare, Gilbert, 7th Earl de Clare, and Clare Manors in 1230 for this lesson. When Richard, sixth earl of Clare, died in 1217, his son Gilbert inherited his estates. Gilbert's mother Amicia, was the daughter of the Earl of Gloucester. The earl had no sons and so his estates were passed to his daughter. When Amicia Clare died in 1225, Gilbert inherited the estates and the title of the Earl of Gloucester. He also inherited the estates of his grandmother, Maud de St. Hilary. By 1230, Gilbert de Clare controlled 456 manors (only a selection of these manors are shown in Clare Manors in 1230) and had to supply the king with 260 knights. The disadvantages of military service was illustrated by his death in Brittany on 25th October, 1230.
(Q1) Source 1 argues that King John murdered Arthur of Brittany. Source 2 alleges that while King John was generous to foreigners he "stole from the English". Source 3 claims that King John was "unbalanced and unstable" and acted like a "lunatic".
(Q2) Sources A, B and C were all written by monks in abbeys and monasteries. As sources 5 and 6 both point out, monastic chroniclers were very hostile to King John because of his policies towards the Church. Maurice Ashley claims that the works of the monastic chroniclers "were largely compiled out of gossip and rumour directed against a monarch who had upset the Church".
(Q3) W. Stubbs claims that " John was the worst of all our kings" and that he did not have one "redeeming trait". However, Maurice Ashley finds several reasons to praise King John believing him to be: "an energetic administrator, a first-class general, a clever diplomat and a ruler who developed... English law and government."
One of the reasons that historians sometimes disagree is that they have consulted different sources. For example, maybe W. Stubbs relied too much on what the monastic chroniclers had to say about King John. It has to be remembered that W. Stubbs wrote his book over a hundred years ago. In recent years new sources about King John have been found. Some of these sources provide a more positive picture of King John. Other sources have provided information that raises doubts about some of the things that the monastic chroniclers said about him. These new sources have been consulted by Maurice Ashley and have enabled him to write a book that provides a more positive image of King John.
(Q4) The Magna Carta stated that in future people could not be imprisoned or outlawed without receiving a fair trial (XXXIX). It also attempted to stop people buying and selling justice (XL). Finally, the barons promised that they would only appoint "justices, constables, sheriffs, or bailiffs" who knew the law and meant "to observe it well" (XLV).
(Q5) (a) Widows gained two main benefits from the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta stated that widows "shall without difficulty have her inheritance" (VII) and could not be forced to remarry (VIII). Before 1215 kings of England could demand fees before widows received their inheritance. They could also force widows to remarry. Of course these changes were only important if you came from a rich family. Poor women gained nothing from these measures.
(b) Merchants made one important gain from the Magna Carta. Merchants would have been pleased that the Magna Carta provided protection for merchants who wanted to sell their goods abroad (XLI). However, merchants would have probably complained that they gained very little compared to the lords.
(c) The barons were mainly concerned with their rights and freedoms and only one clause in the Magna Carta refers to villeins (XX). This clause stated that villeins should "not be fined for slight offence... and for a grave offence he shall be fined in accordance with the gravity of the offence." While it is true villeins would have also benefited from other clauses such as XXIII, compared to the lords, they gained very little from the Magna Carta.
Lesson 12: You will need Simon de Montfort for this lesson.
(Q1) The student's timeline should have included the following: 1208: Simon de Montfort born in France; 1230: Simon arrives in England; 1248: Henry III puts Simon in charge of Gascony; 1258: Simon and the barons force Henry III to sign the Provisions of Oxford; 1264: Simon defeats Henry III at the Battle of Lewes; 1265: Simon killed at the Battle of Evesham.
(Q2) Soon after Simon de Montfort won victory at the Battle of Lewes he organised a new parliament. For the first time, representatives from the towns were invited to attend. The people who attended parliament also choose three men (Simon de Montfort, Earl of Gloucester and the Bishop of Chichester) to run the country. (Ii) After the death of Simon de Montfort power shifted back from parliament to the king. However, future kings realised that they could no longer ignore the views of ordinary people. From now on parliament was no longer just made up of lords (earls, barons, bishops and abbots) but also contained commoners. Simon de Montfort's reforms were therefore the beginning of the system of government that we use today.
(Q3) The writers of sources 1, 3 and 5 all supported Simon de Montfort. Source 1 claims that Simon "fought valiantly for the English people". Whereas Matthew Paris said that he defended "the poor from oppression". Source 3 argues that like Thomas Becket, Simon "would not allow the holy church to perish". However, the authors of sources 2 and 4 opposed Simon. Thomas Wykes claimed that "after having destroyed the strength of the lords" Simon planned to "subdue the people." The author of source 4 argued that Simon was guilty of treason.
There are several reasons why these writers might have disagreed about Simon de Montfort. For example, they may have had different views on who should govern England. Maybe Wykes was against commoners attending parliament. Opinions are often influenced by self-interest. It is possible that the authors of sources 1, 3 and 5 thought that Simon de Montfort's government would bring in policies that would benefit them. Another reason that writers disagree is that they have consulted different sources. For example, most of the sources that Matthew Paris studied might have said good things about Simon de Montfort.
Lesson 13: You will need Norman Castles, Tonbridge Castle, Feudal System, Clare Estates in 1086, William Rufus, Magna Carta, Castles: Glossary and Barons and the Monarchy for this lesson. It should take them about two hours to complete. It is also an opportunity to look at two key areas of the 'Medieval Realms' course: "relations of the monarchy with the barons" and "the involvement of English monarchs in Ireland, Scotland and Wales'.
Richard de Clare (Strongbow) was the only son of Gilbert de Clare, 1st Earl of Pembroke. King Stephen had granted Gilbert the title in 1138. Gilbert was the younger brother of Richard de Clare, 3rd Earl of Clare. Strongbow arrived in Waterford in May, 1170 with about 1,500 men. Waterford fell to Strongbow in two days. The marriage between Strongbow and Eva took place straight away. Strongbow's army then marched to Dublin. The city fell before Roderic of Connacht could organise his forces.
The Clares were able to hold on to their territory in Ireland without too much difficulty. The main problem came in 1293 when the Irish in Kilkenny revolted. Gilbert the Red was forced to sail with a large body of knights to pacify the region. He arrived in Ireland in October 1293 and left in April, 1294. The castles owned by the Clare family in Wales required a large number of people to look after them. In 1262 there were 52 people housed in Neath castle, including the constable, 12 foot soldiers, a chaplain, the cook, a laundress and other servants, and a number of grooms. There were 28 people in Llangynwyd, 42 at Llantrisant and 20 in Cardiff.
The largest Clare castle in Wales was at Caerphilly. The Romans had originally built a fort at Caerphilly in about A.D. 75 but this was abandoned in the second century. After Gilbert de Clare established control over the Vale of Glamorgan in 1268 he began the rebuilding of Caerphilly Castle. Nearly all the castle was built within the next three years. Caerphilly is the earliest and finest example of a concentric castle in Britain. What is so surprising is that it was built by a 25 year old earl and not the king of England.
The castle was built on a narrow strip of gravel between the marshy valleys of two streams. Gilbert de Clare's engineers cut ditches across the gravel to create three islands. The castle was then built on the central island. The Nant y Gledyr stream was dammed to create a huge lake around the outside of the castle.
After Edward's successful campaign against the Welsh (1282-83), Caerphilly was no longer important as a frontier fortress and was mainly used by the Clares as a centre of administration. There was an attempt by Morgan ap Maredudd in 1295 to capture Caerphilly and although the town was badly damaged, the Welsh rebels were unable to take the castle.
Caerphilly Castle was- always well stocked in case of an emergency. An inventory taken in 1327 revealed 112 quarters of corn, 110 quarters of beans, 78 carcasses of oxen and 40 of mutton, 72 hams and 1,856 stockfish. The castle also contained £13,000 packed in 26 barrels and a collection of 600 silver vessels.
Wales was a source of great profit for the Clare family. Sources of income included rents, mills, court fees and the sale of grain, animals and wood. The Clares also owned silver, lead and iron mines in Glamorgan. In 1317, the total income for the Glamorgan estates was almost £1,275 and Gwynllwg £460. Usk and Caerleon were valued at some £750 whereas Cardiff brought in £113. A close inspection of the Clare accounts reveals that Wales was responsible for about a third of the family income.
Lesson 14: You will need Bannockburn for this lesson.
(Q1) The author of source 4 is expressing an opinion when he claims that "many nobles and knights... were too showy and pompous" and "the wicked party lost and the cunning one conquered."
(Q2) The monk of Malmesbury (source 1) claims that Edward II's army was the largest that ever left England. However, other than stating that there were over 2,000 knights in the cavalry, the author gives no other details. In his speech before
the battle (source 3), Robert Bruce is quoted as saying that his soldiers would need to kill 45,000 men if they were to win victory. In his book The History of Greater Britain, John Major argues that the Scots actually killed 50,000 during the battle. Other sources suggest that there was only about 20, 000 soldiers in the English army. Even so, this was still far larger than the estimated 5,500 soldiers who made up Robert Bruce's army.
(Q3) There are several possible reasons why Robert Bruce's outnumbered army was able to defeat the English at Bannockbum. The main reason was that Robert Bruce was able to chose the site where the battle took place. The English were forced to advance on a narrow front between marshland and thick wood. As a result, the English soldiers at the back were unable to reach the Scottish lines. With the two sides locked together it was difficult for the English archers to hit their intended targets.
There is also evidence that the Scottish soldiers were more highly motivated than the English. As Robert Bruce pointed out in his speech before the battle: "Our enemies are moved only by desire for domination but we are fighting for our lives, our children, our wives and the freedom of our country" (source 5).
A large proportion of the English army were foreign mercenaries who were fighting for money rather than for their freedom (source 3). Source 4 is also critical of the attitude of some members of the English army: "There were in the English army many nobles and knights who were too showy and pompous... when the two sides engaged, the Scots remained firm, but the English fled."
Lesson 15: You will need Robert Bruce for this lesson.
(Q1) John Fordun and John Barbour were both supporters of Robert Bruce. In both accounts they stress the fighting abilities of Robert Bruce. John Fordun even claims that Robert Bruce had God on his side. Fordun and Barbour were both Scottish priests who strongly opposed the attempts by the English to conquer Scotland.
(Q2) Source 4 illustrates how Robert Bruce used hit and run tactics against the English. As the Monk from Malmesbury points out, "Robert Bruce... unequal to the King of England in strength, decided that it would be better to resist our King by secret warfare rather than in open battle." Source 5 shows how Robert Bruce tried to recruit the support of the Irish in his fight with the English. He also wrote similar letters to the people of Wales.
(Q3) Edward would have been upset when he heard that Robert Bruce had destroyed his power in Scotland. He would also have been concerned when he heard that "the Scottish people firmly believe that Robert Bruce will win." Edward realised that people are more likely to fight for a leader they believe is going to be victorious. Edward would also have been very worried that the Scottish preachers were supporting Robert Bruce. Religious people are more likely to fight if they believe that God is on their side. Edward would also have been worried that these preachers might persuade England's Welsh mercenaries to change sides.
Lesson 16: You will need Castles: Glossary, Caerphilly Castle, Origins of Parliament, Battle of Lewes, Gilbert the Red, Bannockburn, Clares in Ireland, Clares in Wales, Edward II and the Clare Sisters and Clare Family: Extended Writing for this lesson.
After the death of Gilbert the Red, King Edward decided to look round for another husband for his daughter. In March 1297, Edward announced that Joan of Acre was to marry his cousin and ally, Amadeus V, Count of Savoy. Joan however had fallen in love with Ralph de Monthermer, a young knight with very little land. The two married in secret. When the king heard the news he imprisoned Ralph in Bristol Castle. The king eventually relented and released Ralph and allowed him to manage the Clare estates until Joan's death in 1307.
The Clare Sisters provides a good example of how women from rich families were treated in the 14th century. If women were likely to inherit large estates it was very important for the king that they should marry men who were loyal subjects. However, knights did not always remain loyal to their king. In 1322, Hugh de Audley and Roger Damory joined Thomas, Earl of Lancaster in his struggle with Edward II. Audley surrendered to Edward just before the Battle of Boroughbridge on 17 March 1322. Damory fought against the king and after being captured was executed for treason. After a period in prison Hugh de Audley was released and allowed to keep his estates.
Marriages were often arranged when the girls were only three of four years old. The law stated at the time that a girl as young as seven was capable of consenting to marriage. However, the marriage could not be consummated until the girl was 12 years old (boys had to be fourteen).
Elizabeth and Eleanor de Clare were both victims of rape and abduction. Rape was a criminal act and by law a rapist could be blinded, castrated or executed. Rich and powerful men were rarely punished in this way. Loyal knights often sought permission from their king before abducting and raping a rich heiress. This was a convenient way for the king to make sure that the estates were under the control of one of his supporters.
Court records reveal that rape committed by nobles was usually punished by a monetary fine. If the man was willing to marry the victim the judge would often pardon the rapist. As marriage was generally the motive behind the rape, the accused man was likely to find this judgement acceptable. In the 14th century courts were unwilling to convict rapists when the victim was pregnant. It was generally believed that her pregnancy signalled God's approval of the marriage. A detailed account of these issues can be found in The History of English Law: Volume II by Frederick Pollock and Frederick Maitland (Cambridge, 1911).
The kidnapping and forced marriage of Elizabeth to Theobald Verdun would have caused considerable anger in the Clare family. These two families had been in conflict for a considerable period of time. In 1291, Theobald's father, Lord Verdun, had been imprisoned over a land dispute with Gilbert de Clare. The kidnap of Elizabeth would have enabled Theobald Verdun to win back the land that had been lost by his father. By the time of the abduction in February, 1316, Theobald Verdun was fairly confident that Edward II would not take action against him. Verdun had proved himself a loyal knight and had fought bravely in Edward's Scottish campaigns.