Hubert de Burgh, 1st Earl of Kent
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|Hubert de Burgh|
|Hubert de Burgh seeking sanctuary in 1234, by Matthew Paris|
|Chief Justiciar of England|
|Preceded by||Peter des Roches|
|Succeeded by||Stephen Segrave|
|Died||before 5 May 1243
|Spouse(s)||(1) Beatrice de Warrenne
(2) Isabel of Gloucester
(3) Princess Margaret of Scotland
|Occupation||Earl of Kent|
Hubert de Burgh, 1st Earl of Kent (c. 1160 – before 5 May 1243) was Earl of Kent, Justiciar of England and Ireland, and one of the most influential men in England during the reigns of John and Henry III.
Birth and family
De Burgh was the son of Walter de Burgh of Burgh Castle, Norfolk. He was the younger brother of William de Burgh (d. 1206) who accompanied Prince John to Ireland in 1185, and eventually became Lord of Connacht.
Hubert and William's two younger brothers were Geoffrey de Burgh and Thomas de Burgh; Geoffrey became Archdeacon of Norwich (1202) and then bishop of Ely (1225), while Thomas was castellan of Norwich (1215–16).
He was a minor official in the household of Prince John in 1197, and became John's chamberlain the next year. He continued as John's chamberlain when the latter became king in 1199.).
Honours from John
In the early years of John's reign de Burgh was greatly enriched by royal favour, receiving the honour of Corfe in 1199 and three important castles in the Welsh Marches in 1201 (Grosmont Castle, Skenfrith Castle, and Llantilio Castle). He was also High Sheriff of Dorset and Somerset (1200), Berkshire (1202) and Herefordshire (1215), and castellan of Launceston and Wallingford castles.
He was also appointed Constable of Dover Castle, and also given charge of Falaise, in Normandy. He is cited as having been appointed a Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports by 1215, and although the co-joint position of this office to that of the constableship of Dover Castle was not fully established until after the Baron's War, a rather long period seems to have elapsed between the two appointments.
In any case de Burgh retained the king's trust, and in 1203 was given charge of the great castles at Falaise in Normandy and Chinon, in Touraine. The latter was a key to the defence of the Loire valley. After the fall of Falaise de Burgh held out while the rest of the English possessions fell to the French. Chinon was besieged for a year, and finally fell in June, 1205, Hubert being badly wounded while trying to evade capture.
During the year he was trapped in Chinon, and the two following years when he was a prisoner of the French, de Burgh lost most of his estates and posts. The reasons are much debated. After his return to England in 1207, he acquired new and different lands and offices. These included the castles of Lafford and Sleaford, and the shrievalty of Lincolnshire (1209–1214). Probably, however, de Burgh spent most of his time in the English holdings in France, where he was seneschal of Poitou.
De Burgh remained loyal to the king during the barons' rebellions at the end of John's reign. The Magna Carta mentions him as one of those who advised the king to sign the charter, and he was one of the twenty-five sureties of its execution. John named him Chief Justiciar in June 1215. and appointed him High Sheriff of Surrey (1215), High Sheriff of Herefordshire (1215), High Sheriff of Kent (1216–1222), and Governor of Canterbury Castle. Soon afterwards he was appointed Governor of the castles of Hereford, Norwich and Oxford.
De Burgh played a prominent role in the defence of England from the invasion of Louis of France, the son of Philippe II who later became Louis VIII. Louis' first objective was to take Dover Castle, which was in de Burgh's charge. The castle withstood a lengthy siege in the summer and autumn of 1216, and Louis withdrew. The next summer Louis could not continue without reinforcements from France. De Burgh gathered a small fleet which defeated a larger French force at the Battle of Dover and Battle of Sandwich, and ultimately led to the complete withdrawal of the French from England.
Regent to Henry III
When Henry III came of age in 1227 de Burgh was made lord of Montgomery Castle in the Welsh Marches and Earl of Kent. He remained one of the most influential people at court. On 27 April 1228 he was named Justiciar for life. But in 1232 the plots of his enemies finally succeeded and he was removed from office and soon was in prison. He escaped from Devizes Castle and joined the rebellion of Richard Marshal, 3rd Earl of Pembroke in 1233. In 1234, Edmund Rich, Archbishop of Canterbury effected a reconciliation. He officially resigned the Justiciarship about 28 May 1234, but had not exercised the power of the office after September 1232. His judgment was reversed by William Raleigh also known as William de Raley in 1234, which for a time, restored his earlship. He again faced forfeiture in 1239, but retained some standing by granting several castles to the king, including the Trilateral Castles (Skenfrith, White and Grosmont) in Wales.
Trouble with the King
The marriage of Hubert de Burgh's daughter Margaret (or Megotta as she was also known) to Richard of Clare, the young Earl of Gloucester, brought de Burgh into some trouble in 1236, for the earl was as yet a minor and in the king's wardship, and the marriage had been celebrated without the royal license. Hubert, however, protested that the match was not of his making, and promised to pay the king some money, so the matter passed by for the time. Eventually the marriage came to an end, either through annulment or Margaret's death.
He died in 1243 at the age of 82 or 83 in Banstead, Surrey, England and was buried at the church of the Black Friars in Holborn.
Marriages and issue
De Burgh married three times:
- (1) Beatrice de Warrenne, daughter of William de Warrenne, Lord of Wormegay, and Beatrice de Pierrepont, by whom he had two sons, John and Hubert. John de Burgh married Hawise, daughter of William de Lanvallei. John inherited de Burgh's estates but not his earldom or other titles.
- (2) Isabel of Gloucester, first wife (marriage annulled) of King John of England (c. 1217), without issue.
- (3) Princess Margaret of Scotland, daughter of King William I of Scotland and Ermengarde de Beaumont (1221), by whom he had a daughter, Margaret (c. 1222-1237), called "Megotta", who married Richard de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, but had no issue.
Hubert is a character in the play King John by William Shakespeare. On screen he has been portrayed by Franklyn McLeay in the silent short King John (1899), which recreates John's death scene at the end of the Shakespeare play, by Jonathan Adams in the BBC TV drama series The Devil's Crown (1978), and by John Thaw in the BBC Shakespeare version of The Life and Death of King John (1984).
Walter de Burgh of Burgh Castle, Norfolk. =Alice | |________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ | | | | | | | | William de Burgh, died 1205. Hubert de Burgh, 1st Earl of Kent, d. 1243. Geoffrey de Burgh, d. 1228. Thomas de Burgh (issue; John and Hubert)
- British History Online: Launceston Parish accessed on 7 September 2007
- White and Black books of the Cinque Ports, Vol XIX, 1966
- Powicke Handbook of British Chronology p. 70
- Powicke, ibid.
- Powicke, ibid.
- Plucknett, T., "A Concise History of the Common Law", Little, Brown and Co. 1956, p 170
- Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1886). "Burgh, Hubert de". Dictionary of National Biography 7. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- Burke, Eamon "Burke People and Places", Dublin, 1995.
- Carpenter, D. A. "The Fall of Hubert De Burgh", Journal of British Studies, vol. 19 (1980)
- Ellis, C. Hubert de Burgh, A Study in Constancy (1952)
- Johnston, S.H.F. "The Lands of Hubert de Burgh", English Historical Review, vol. 50 (1935)
- Powicke, F. Maurice and E. B. Fryde Handbook of British Chronology 2nd. ed. London:Royal Historical Society 1961
- Weiss, Michael "The Castellan: The Early Career of Hubert de Burgh", Viator, vol. 5 (1974)
- Remfry, P.M., Grosmont Castle and the families of Fitz Osbern, Ballon, Fitz Count, Burgh and Braose (ISBN 1-899376-56-9)
Peter des Roches
The Earl of Surrey
|Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
|Peerage of England|
|Earl of Kent