Margaret de Clare

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Margaret de Clare
Countess of Cornwall
Countess of Gloucester
Spouse(s) Piers Gaveston
Hugh de Audley, 1st Earl of Gloucester


Joan Gaveston
Margaret de Audley
Father Gilbert de Clare, 6th Earl of Hertford
Mother Joan of Acre
Born October 1293
Died April 1342 (aged 48)
Buried Tonbridge Priory

Margaret de Clare, Countess of Cornwall, Countess of Gloucester (October 1293 – April 1342), was an English noblewoman, heiress, and the second eldest of the three daughters of Gilbert de Clare, 6th Earl of Hertford and his wife, Joan of Acre, making her a granddaughter of King Edward I of England. Her two husbands were Piers Gaveston and Hugh de Audley, 1st Earl of Gloucester.

Marriage to Piers Gaveston[edit]

She was married to Piers Gaveston, the favourite (and possible lover) of her uncle Edward II, in October 1307 around the time of her 14th birthday. According to the Vita Edwardi Secundi, this marriage was arranged by the King "to strengthen Piers and surround him with friends." Gaveston celebrated the marriage with a lavish tournament at Wallingford Castle. The marriage of such a high-born heiress to a foreigner did not please the English nobility and engendered a great deal of unpopularity. They had one child:

  • Joan Gaveston, born 12 January 1312, at York. She died in January 1325 at Amesbury Priory.[1]

King Edward arranged a lavish celebration after the birth of this little girl, complete with minstrels. However, Piers Gaveston was executed only six months later, leaving Margaret a widow with a small child. Her dower rights as Countess of Cornwall were disputed, and so King Edward instead assigned her Oakham Castle and other lands. She joined the Royal household and in 1316 accompanied the King in his journey from London to York.

Inheritance and second marriage[edit]

Following the death of their brother, Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Hertford, at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, Margaret and her sisters, Elizabeth and Eleanor de Clare received a share of the inheritance. Margaret was now one of the co-heiresses to the vast Gloucester estate, and King Edward arranged a second marriage for her to another favourite, Hugh de Audley, 1st Earl of Gloucester. She was High Sheriff of Rutland from 1313 to 1319.[2]

On 28 April 1317 Margaret de Clare wed Hugh de Audley, 1st Earl of Gloucester at Windsor Castle. They had one daughter:

  1. Margaret de Audley, born between January 1318 and November 1322.

Despenser War[edit]

Hugh and Margaret were among the victims of their brother-in-law, Hugh the younger Despenser. In his rashness and greed for the Clare lands, he robbed Margaret of much of her rightful inheritance. In 1321, Hugh de Audley joined the other Marcher Barons in looting, burning, and causing general devastation to Despenser's lands which subsequently became the Despenser War.

Hugh was captured at the Battle of Boroughbridge in 1322, and was saved from a hanging thanks to the pleas of his wife. He was imprisoned, and two months later Margaret was sent to Sempringham Priory. She remained there until 1326, when Hugh escaped prison and she was released from Sempringham.

Countess of Gloucester[edit]

Hugh and Margaret were reunited sometime in 1326. In summer 1336, their only daughter, Margaret Audley, was abducted by Ralph Stafford, 1st Earl of Stafford. Her parents filed a complaint, but King Edward III of England supported Stafford. He appeased Hugh and Margaret by creating Hugh Earl of Gloucester. Margaret was henceforth styled Countess of Gloucester.


Margaret died in April 1342 and her sister Elizabeth de Clare paid for prayers to be said for her soul at Tonbridge Priory, where she was buried.[3]


Notable Descendants[edit]