Danish Branch House de Clare
|House de Clare|
Lady Markland's Shield which is Associated with the Danish Branch of House de Clare
|Estates||Countship, Barony, Manorial Lordships|
|Founder||Natalie de Clare, 4th Countess of Markland, DGK|
|Current head||Natalie de Clare, 4th Countess of Markland, DGK|
|Follows Discretionary Semi-Absolute Matrilineal Primogeniture|
House de Clare is a Norman Noble family whose name originates from Clare in Suffolk where their first castle, Clare Castle; and the seat of their barony, was situated: the Honor of Clare. The de Clares were one of the great baronial families of the 12th, 13th and early 14th century England, holding wide estates 22 English counties and Marcher Lordships in Wales. The de Clares also briefly held estates in Ireland and took part in the Scottish Wars for Independence. They were descended from Richard FitzGilbert, 1st Lord of Clare (1035-1090), who accompanied William the Conqueror (1028-1087) into England during the Norman conquest of England. Today Lady Markland still retains estates in Europe
House de Clare Origin
The de Clare family descends from Gilbert de Brionne, whose father, Geoffrey de Brionne, was the eldest of the illegitimate sons of Richard I, Duke of Normandy. The early Normans followed the Viking custom of marriage called more danico, which they considered a legitimate form of marriage. The Church considered this the same as concubinage, therefore it did not command the same respect and inviolability as Christian marriage, hence making Geoffrey de Brionne an illegitimate child. They became one of the most powerful and influential noble families of their time in England, Wales, and Ireland.
Gilbert de Brionne was one of the guardians of William II of Normandy who would become the Duke of Normandy in 1035. When Gilbert was assassinated in 1039, his young sons Baldwin de Meules et du Sap and Richard de Bienfaite et d'Orbec fled with their guardians to Baldwin V, Count of Flanders. They returned to Normandy when William married Baldwin's daughter in 1053, and William took them into high favour. After the conquest of England Richard received huge estates including Clare and Tonbridge by which he became the founder of House de Clare. Richard fitz Gilbert (of Tonbridge) was referred to as Richard of Clare in the Suffolk return of the Domesday Survey. On his death, Richard's English estates passed to his son Gilbert de Clare, 2nd Lord of Clare (1055-1117) who was the first to use the surname de Clare permanently.
House de Clare Today
The primogeniture of the last male de Clare was broken in 1314 at the Battle of Bannockburn. Male primogeniture is based on the idea that a male is superior to a female and thus, a male's surname does not change upon marriage. This house follows discretionary (i.e. at the discretion of the current head) semi-absolute (i.e. sex does not matter) matriarchal primogeniture (i.e. favors females over males). The tradition of the female changing her surname once married was an archaic symbol of a change of property (the wife was the property) from her father to her husband and Lady Markland refuses to honor that tradition. There are not any claims to House de Clare by any member of European nobility. The term "House de Clare" went into disuse at the end of the 14th century. There are many descendants in the world today that can trace their lineages back to the historic House de Clare, but none of them have ever tried to revive or have claimed the ancient noble house. Lady Markland's genealogical proofs show that her lineages through absolute primogeniture virtually all trace back to the historical House de Clare with few exceptions.
Natalie de Clare is the only known living legitimate nobility in the world today who has referred to her small family as House de Clare and has done so for many years. Even her Coat of Arms incorporates elements of the Medieval de Clare Coat of Arms from which she descends and in order to do that with a Coat of Arms one must prove beyond doubt to be a legitimate descendent. Intriguingly, almost every lineage, both paternal and maternal, trace back to a Medieval de Clare family member. Even if she does not claim to be head of the original House de Clare her noble house would still be referred to as House de Clare by her hereditary surname alone. Thus, since there has not been nor is there any official claims by any other European Nobility to House de Clare then she is within her right as the only legitimate European nobility to have official claim to this ancient Noble house and even if she does not take it over she can legitimately establish a cadet branch in her own right. Even if a more legitimate suiter with claims to House de Clare is located in the centuries to come their claim does not invalidate her right to ownership of House de Clare under international law.
- Reynolds, P. L. (1994). Marriage in the Western Church: the Christianization of marriage during the patristic and early medieval periods (Vol. 24). Brill. ISBN 90-04-10022-9
- Crouch, D. (2006). The Normans: the history of a dynasty. A&C Black.
- Stenton, F. M. (1971). Anglo-Saxon England (Vol. 2). Oxford University Press.
- Richard Mortimer, Clare, Richard de [Richard fitz Gilbert] (1030x35–1087x90), magnate, in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online by subscription.
- Rumble, A. (Ed.). (1986). Domesday Book, 34, Suffolk.