Wednesday, September 18, 2013

September 18, 1556, The Death of Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devonshire

On this date in 1556, Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devonshire, the only surviving child of Henry Courtenay, Marquis of Exeter and his second wife, Gertrude Blount, Marchioness of Exeter died in Padua, Italy.  He contracted a fever and was thirty years old. He is buried in Padua in the church of Sant'Antonio.

I will be writing more about his life as I continue my research into the life of his mother, but I wanted to share one of the letters that Gertrude wrote to her son in his exile. It is contained in the book Letters of Royal and Illustrious Ladies, Volume 3, edited by Mary Ann Everett Green.


My most hearty blessing I send you, praying our Lord to bless you and send you well into these parts again. Your letter, written the 6th of August, I received the 14th of August. My man was much troubled with his passage; for, being on the sea, there was a great fight between the Frenchmen and the Spaniards, so that the ship he was in was fain to turn back again to Calais. I am very glad to hear you be in health, the which I pray God to continue. This is to advertise you I intend to take my journey to Canford-ward the Monday after Bartholomew day, and, whether I ride farther or not, I cannot yet ascertain you, but as my business shall occasion me I will do; but I appoint, verily, to be here again about Michaelmas. There rides with me, as they have appointed, both Sergeant Tymwell and George Gattys, and a daughter of Master Warham's, the which is a wife, with others. If wishing might take place, you should be there. At my coming home I will write to you. And thus, with my hearty thanks for your token, I will be you farewell; praying our Lord to preserve you both in honour and virtue, and to give his grace to avoid all ill and sinful company.
Written at Malsanger, from Sir William Warham's house, the 20th of August, with my most heart commendations.

By your loving mother,
Gertrude Exeter

To my son, the Earl of Devonshire, give this.
Endorsed -- 20th August, 1555

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Knighthood, knighthood, who's got a knighthood

Getting off on a tangent can lead to interesting discoveries.  I am currently reading Kate Emerson's historical fiction novel Secrets of the Tudor Court: The Pleasure Palace and as I am wont to do I start reading up on the heroine of the novel, Jeanne or Jane Popincourt and the French Prisoner of War, Louis I de Orleans, Duc de Longueville.  The Duc was captured at the famous 1513 Battle of the Spurs and was held in honorable captivity for over a year, acting as a form of ambassador for King Louis XII of France in negotiating Louis' marriage to King Henry VIII's sister, Princess Mary.

It was while perusing the Wikipedia entry on the Battle that I came across a list of men who were knighted over the campaign. While Wikipedia is not the greatest source in the universe it can be very useful in leading you to great material for your own historical research. This was the case as a note led me to the book A Book of Knights Banneret, Knights of the Bath and Knights Bachelor Made Between the Fourth Year of King Henry VI and the Restoration of King Charles II and Knights made in Ireland Between 1566 and 1698.   That is a mouthful of a title.  Available online for free through Google Play Books it is by Walter C. Metcalfe and was published in London in 1855.  A scanned copy; it is rather amusing to see the gloved hands of the person who copied it on several of the opening pages.

This is a treasure trove of information not just for researchers, but also for actors in Renaissance Festivals who are portraying members of the court in the 16th century. One of the greatest things that provides interesting dynamics between the actors is precedence.  In the 16th century everyone believed in the Great Chain of Being, that everyone was born into their place in life ordained by God.  God was at the top of the Chain followed, until the Reformation, by the Pope, then the Monarchy, the aristocracy, etc.,  down to the peasants, thieves,  and actual actors.  Why is this important to a modern day actor?  If you were granted a knighthood by your King and another man was also granted a knighthood you were the same rank.  Who takes precedence when you meet? Who has to bow to whom?  It all comes down to who received their knighthood first. Even if you were knighted on the same day. Leads to some great acting possibilities and great entertainment for an audience.

Enough about acting, back to the research at hand. Looking through the book I find some information that is quite useful for my research into the Marchioness of Exeter and her family.

Edward Courtenay - this is the grandfather of Gertrude's husband, Henry.  He was knighted by Henry Tudor after they landed at Milford Haven in 1485.  It notes that he was created Earl of Devonshire at the King's Coronation.  Edward is listed first among all the men who were knighted.  His arms were Or, three torteaux, a label of three points Azure. Crest- out of a Ducal coronet Or a plume of ostrich-feathers Argent.

James Blount -   He was created a knight at Milford Haven in 1485 and a knight banneret at the Battle of Stoke beside Newark upon Trent the 9th day of June, 1487.

Thomas Blount - knighted at the Battle of Stoke in 1487.

William, Lord Courtenay - Henry Courtenay's father, the son and heir of Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devonshire. He was knighted at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth of York in 1487.  The document erroneously states November 25, 1485.

Courtenay - not listed as a first name probably due to damage to the manuscript . This unknown Courtenay was made a Knight of the Bath along with Arthur, Prince of Wales in 1490.

Edward Blount made a knight on Saint Botolph's Day in 1497 during the uprising in Cornwall.

I will need to work out the various Blounts as they are probably all relatives of Gertrude and her father, William Blount, Lord Mountjoy.

(Cotton manuscript, Claudius, C.iii, fol 1-60)

The Lord Mountjoy.  This is William Blount, Gertrude's father.  Knighted at the "time of the triumphant reign of King Henry VIII"  This was most probably as part of the coronation festivities in 1509.  His arms - Quarterly of six - 1 and 6, 2, 3, and 4, sames as 3, 1, 2 and 4 under Sir. James Blount; 5, Argent, three fleurs -de-lis Azure. The same crest.  Therefore I will say that James Blount is most likely a close relative, possibly his father, since he incorporates James' arms into his own.

(Cotton manuscript Claudius, C iii, fol 68-144)

Henry Courtenay, 3rd Earl of Devonshire and Marquis of Exeter is not listed under any of the basic knighthood creations in this manuscript. So it does look like he was not officially knighted until he was made a Knight of the Garter in 1521 to replace the degraded Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham.  Henry's grandfather, Edward, 1st Earl of Devonshire was made a Knight of the Garter in 1494.  Gertrude's father, William Blount, Lord Mountjoy was made a Knight of the Garter in 1526.