Constance of York, Countess of Gloucester

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Constance of York, Countess of Gloucester
Baroness le Despencer
Countess of Gloucester
Spouse Thomas le Despenser, 1st Earl of Gloucester
Issue Richard le Despenser, 4th Baron Burghersh
Elizabeth le Despenser
Isabel le Despenser, Countess of Worcester and Warwick
House House of York (by birth)
Le Despenser (by marriage)
Father Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York
Mother Isabella of Castile
Born c. 1374
Conisburgh Castle, Yorkshire, England
Died 28 November 1416 (aged 41–42)
Reading Abbey, Berkshire, England

Constance of York, Countess of Gloucester, (c. 1374 – 28 November 1416) was the only daughter of Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York and his wife Isabella of Castile, daughter of King Peter of Castile and his favourite mistress, Maria de Padilla.

Family[edit]

Constance was born about 1374, the only daughter of Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, and his wife, Isabella of Castile, the youngest daughter of King Peter of Castile and his favourite mistress, Maria de Padilla.[citation needed]

Plots against Henry IV[edit]

Shortly before 7 November 1379, Constance married Thomas le Despenser, 1st Earl of Gloucester. Despenser was created Earl of Gloucester by King Richard II on 29 September 1397, but after Richard's deposition and the accession of King Henry IV some of his lands were seized and he was degraded from the earldom. In consequence in late December 1399 he and others joined in a plot, known as the Epiphany Rising, to assassinate King Henry and restore King Richard to the throne. According to a French chronicle the plot was betrayed to the King by Constance's brother, Edward; however contemporary English chronicles make no mention of Edward's alleged role. Gloucester escaped immediate capture, but was eventually turned in to the authorities at Bristol, where he was beheaded on 16 January 1400.[1] After her husband's death, Constance was granted a life interest in the greater part of his lands and custody of her son.[2]

In February 1405, during the rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr, Constance herself instigated a plot to abduct the young Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March, and his brother, Roger Mortimer, from Windsor Castle, apparently intending to deliver the young Earl, who had the best claim to the throne of any of Henry IV's rivals, to his uncle Sir Edmund Mortimer, who was married to Glyndwr's daughter.[citation needed] The young Edmund Mortimer and his brother were recaptured before entering Wales. Constance implicated her elder brother, Edward, in the plot, as a result of which he was imprisoned for 17 weeks at Pevensey Castle, but was eventually restored to Henry IV's favour. When Constance died in 1416, she was buried at the High Altar in Reading Abbey.[citation needed]

Marriage and issue[edit]

Shortly before 7 November 1379 Constance married Thomas le Despenser, 1st Earl of Gloucester (22 September 1373 – 16 January 1400), third but first surviving son of Edward le Despenser and Elizabeth Burghersh, by whom she had a son and two daughters:[3]

  • Elizabeth (died young c. 1398)

After her husband's death, Constance was either betrothed to or lived as the mistress of Edmund Holland, 4th Earl of Kent (1382-1408), by whom she had an illegitimate daughter, Eleanor Holland (died c. 1459), who married James Tuchet, 5th Baron Audley.

Shakespeare and Constance of York[edit]

Constance is referred to as 'my sister Despenser' in Shakespeare's Richard II.

Ancestry[edit]


Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Pugh 1988, pp. 12–13; Richardson II 2011, p. 77.
  2. ^ Richardson II 2011, pp. 75–8, 500–1; Pugh 1988, p. 79.
  3. ^ Richardson II 2011, pp. 75–8.

References[edit]