Gilbert de Clare, 6th Earl of Hertford

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Gilbert de Clare
6th Earl of Hertford
6th Earl of Gloucester
3rd Lord Marcher of Glamorgan
8th Lord Marcher of Cardigan
9th Baron of Clare
9th Baron of Tonbridge
De Clare.png
Coat of Arms Associated with House de Clare
Born02 September 1243
Christchurch, Dorset, Hampshire, Kingdom of England
Died07 December 1295
Monmouth]] Castle
Resting placeTewkesbury Abbey
51.9903 N, 2.1604 W
Wars and battlesSecond Barons' War
Welsh war of 1282
PredecessorRichard de Clare, 5th Earl of Hertford
SuccessorGilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Hertford
Spouse(s)1st Alice de Lusignan
2nd Joan Plantagenet, Princess of England
OccupationPeerage of England

Gilbert de Clare, 6th Earl of Hertford (1243-1295) was the eldest son of Richard de Clare, 5th Earl of Hertford by his wife Maud de Lacy. He was arguably the most powerful English Baron of the time. He inherited an extensive amount of titles, lands, estates, and castles that he was Lord over. Only the most prominent titles are listed here. He held hundreds of Manorial Lordships and had a significant impact on the political world that was medieval England. He was also known as "Red" Gilbert de Clare or "The red earl", probably because of his hair colour or fiery temper in battle. He held two prominent Marcher Lordships in Wales: Glamorgan and Cardigan. Glamorgan was was one of the most powerful and wealthy of the Welsh Marcher Lordships. Just the Barony of Clare had over 172 Manorial Lordships.[1]


Gilbert de Clare was born at Christchurch, Hampshire, the son of Richard de Clare, 5th Earl of Hertford, and of Maud de Lacy, daughter of John de Lacy, 1st Earl of Lincoln and Margaret de Quincy.[2] Gilbert inherited his father's estates in 1262. He took on the titles, including Lord of Glamorgan, from 1263. Being under age at his father's death, he was made a ward of Humphrey de Bohun, 2nd Earl of Hereford, but he would become the most Powerful Nobleman in all of England's history and leave a lasting impact - at least for a couple centuries.

Massacre of the Jews at Canterbury

In April 1264, Gilbert de Clare led the massacre of the Jews at Canterbury,[3] as Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester had done in Leicester. Gilbert de Clare’s castles of Kingston and Tonbridge were taken by the King Henry III of England. However, the King allowed de Clare's Countess Alice de Lusignan, who was in the latter, to go free because she was his niece; but on 12 May Lord de Clare and de Montfort were denounced as traitors.

The Battle of Lewes

Two days later, just before the Battle of Lewes, on 14 May 1264, Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester (1208-1265) knighted the Gilbert de Clare and his brother Thomas de Clare, 1st Lord of Thomond. Lord de Clare commanded the central division of the Baronial army, which formed up on the Downs west of Lewes. When Prince Edward of England had left the field in pursuit of Simon de Montfort's routed left wing, the King and Earl of Cornwall were thrown back to the town. Henry took refuge in the Priory of St Pancras, and Gilbert accepted the surrender of the Earl of Cornwall, who had hidden in a windmill. Simon de Montfort and the Lord de CLARE were now supreme and de Montfort in effect de facto King of England.


Douce Apocalypse, c. 1265-70. The dragon, who is Satan, comes forth again (Rev. 20:7). Among the flags of the host of Satan is that of Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, who had opposed Henry III.

On 20 October 1264, Gilbert and his associates were excommunicated by Pope Clement IV, and his lands placed under an interdict. In the following month, by which time they had obtained possession of Gloucester and Bristol, Lord Hertford was proclaimed to be a rebel. However at this point he changed sides as he fell out with Simon de Montfort and Gilbert de Clare, in order to prevent Simon de Montfort's escape, destroyed ships at the port of Bristol and the bridge over the River Severn at Gloucester. Having changed sides, Gilbert de Clare shared the Prince's victory at Kenilworth on 16 July 1265, and in the Battle of Evesham on 4 August 1265, in which Simon de Montfort was slain. Lord Hertford commanded the second division and contributed largely to the victory. On 24 June 1268 he took the Cross at Northampton in repentance and contrition for his past misdeeds.

Activities as a Marcher Lord

In October 1265, as a reward for supporting Prince Edward, Gilbert was given the castle and title of Abergavenny and honour and castle of Brecknock. At Michaelmas his disputes with Llewelyn the Last were submitted to arbitration, but without a final settlement. Meanwhile, he was building Caerphilly Castle into a fortress.[4] At the end of the year 1268 he refused to obey the King's summons to attend parliament, alleging that, owing to the constant inroads of Llewelyn the Last, his Welsh estates needed his presence for their defense. At the death of Henry III, 16 November 1272, the Earl took the lead in swearing fealty to Edward I of England, who was then in Sicily on his return from the Crusade. The next day, with the Archbishop of York, he entered London and proclaimed peace to all, Christians and Jews, and for the first time, secured the acknowledgment of the right of the King's eldest son to succeed to the throne immediately.Thereafter he was joint Guardian of England, during the King's absence, and on the new King's arrival in England, in August 1274, entertained him at Tonbridge Castle.

The Welsh war in 1282

During Edward's invasion of Wales in 1282, de Clare insisted on leading an attack into southern Wales. King Edward made de Clare the commander of the southern army invading Wales. However, de Clare's army faced disaster after being heavily defeated at the Battle of Llandeilo Fawr. Following this defeat, de Clare was relieved of his position as the southern commander and was replaced by William de Valence, 1st Earl of Pembroke (whose son had died during the battle).

Private Marcher War

In the next year, 1291, he quarrelled with the Humphrey de Bohun, 3rd Earl of Hereford, grandson of his onetime guardian, about the Lordship of Brecknock, where de Bohun accused de Clare of building a castle on his land culminated in a private war between them. Although it was a given right for Marcher Lords to wage private war the King tested this right in this case, first calling them before a court of their Marcher peers, then realizing the outcome would be colored by their likely avoidance of prejudicing one of their greatest rights they were both called before the superior court, the Kings own. At this both were imprisoned by the King, both sentenced to having their lands forfeit for life and de Clare, the Earl of Gloucester, as the aggressor, was fined 10,000 marks, and the Earl of Hereford 1,000 marks.They were released almost immediately and both of their lands completely restored to them - however they had both been taught a very public lesson and their prestige diminished and the King's authority shown for all.


Gilbert declare's first marriage was to Alice de Lusignan, also known as Alice de Valence, the daughter of Hugh XI of Lusignan and of the family that succeeded the Marshal family to the title of the Earl of Pembroke in the person of William de Valence, 1st Earl of Pembroke. They married in 1253, when Gilbert was ten years old. He had two daughters by this marriage:

After his marriage to Alice de Lusignan was annulled in 1285, Gilbert married Joan Plantagenet, Princess of England, a daughter of King Edward I of England and his first wife Eleanor of Castile (1241-1290). King Edward sought to bind de Clare, and his assets, more closely to the Crown by this means. By the provisions of the marriage contract, their joint possessions and de Clare's extensive lands could only be inherited by a direct descendant, i.e. close to the Crown, and if the marriage proved childless, the lands would pass to any children Joan Plantagenet, Princess of England may have by further marriage.

On 3 July 1290, the Earl gave a great banquet at Clerkenwell to celebrate his marriage of 30 April 1290 with Joan of Acre (1272 - 23 April 1307) after waiting for the Pope to sanction the marriage. Edward then gave large estates to Gilbert, including one in Malvern, Worcestershire. Disputed hunting rights on these led to several armed conflicts with Humphrey de Bohun, 3rd Earl of Hereford, that Edward resolved.[5] Gilbert made gifts to the Priory, and also had a "great conflict" about hunting rights and a ditch that he dug, with Thomas de Cantilupe, Bishop of Hereford, that was settled by costly litigation.[6] Gilbert had a similar conflict with Godfrey Giffard, Bishop and Administrator of Worcester Cathedral (and formerly Chancellor of England. Godfrey, who had granted land to the Priory, had jurisdictional disputes about Malvern Priory, resolved by Robert Burnell, the then Chancellor.[7] Thereafter, Gilbert and Joan are said to have taken the Cross and set out for the Holy Land. In September, he signed the Barons' letter to the Pope, and on 2 November, surrendered to the King his claim to the advowson of the Bishopric of Llandaff.

Gilbert de Clare had four children by this marriage:

Death and Burial

Gilbert de Clare died at Monmouth Castle on 7 December 1295, and was buried at Tewkesbury Abbey, on the left side of his grandfather Gilbert de Clare, 4th Earl of Hertford. His extensive lands were enjoyed by his surviving wife Joan Plantagenet, Princess of England until her death in 1307. His son Gilbert de Clare would destroy the Medieval House de Clare when he died needlessly trying to prove himself to the King of England in the Battle of Bannockburn just 19 years after his death.

External links


  1. Page, W. (1927) Parishes: Chilton. A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 4. Ed. London, England: Victoria County History.
  2. Harrison, B.H. (2009). The Family Forest Descendants of Milesius of Spain for 84 Generations. The Family Forest National Treasure Edition. Kamuela, HI: Millicent Publishing Company, Inc.
  3. Richard Huscroft, Expulsion: England's Jewish Solution (2006), p. 105.
  5. Clive H. Knowles, Clare, Gilbert de [called Gilbert the Red], seventh earl of Gloucester and sixth earl of Hertford (1243–1295), magnate, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  6. Nott, James (1885). Some of the Antiquities of Moche Malvern (Great Malvern). Malvern: John Thompson. p. 14. Retrieved 6 January 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Susan J. Davies, Giffard, Godfrey (1235?–1302), administrator and bishop of Worcester, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Richard de Clare
Earl of Hertford
Succeeded by
Gilbert de Clare
Earl of Gloucester