William II Longespée

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Effigy of Longespée in Salisbury Cathedral

Sir William II Longespée, long sword in French, (c. 1212 – 8 February 1250) was the son of William Longespée, 3rd Earl of Salisbury, and Ela, 3rd Countess of Salisbury. His death became of significant importance to the English psyche, having died as a martyr due to the purported mistakes of the French[citation needed] at the Battle of Mansurah, near Al-Mansurah in Egypt.

Longespée made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1240, and again in 1247. The second time, he proceeded to Rome and made a plea to Pope Innocent IV for support:

The Charter for the town of Poole issued by Longespée

"Sir, you see that I am signed with the cross and am on my journey with the King of France to fight in this pilgrimage. My name is great and of note, viz., William Longespée, but my estate is slender, for the King of England, my kinsman and liege lord, hath bereft me of the title of earl and of that estate, but this he did judiciously, and not in displeasure, and by the impulse of his will; therefore I do not blame him for it. Howbeit, I am necessitated to have recourse to your holiness for favour, desiring your assistance in this distress. We see here (quoth he) that Earl Richard (of Cornwall) who, though he is not signed with the cross, yet, through the especial grace of your holiness, he hath got very much money from those who are signed, and therefore, I, who am signed and in want, do intreat the like favour."[1]

Having succeeded in gaining the favour of the Pope, Longespée raised a company of 200 English horse to join with Louis IX on his crusade. To raise funds for his expedition, he sold a charter of liberties to the burgesses of the town of Poole in 1248 for 70 marks.[2] During the Seventh Crusade, Longespée commanded the English forces. He became widely known for his feats of chivalry and his subsequent martyrdom. The circumstances of his death served to fuel growing English animosity toward the French[citation needed] ; it is reported that the French Count d'Artois lured Longespée into attacking the Mameluks before the forces of King Louis IX arrived in support[citation needed]. Robert d'Artois, William II Longespée and his men, along with 280 Knights Templar, were killed at this time.

It is said that his mother, Abbess Ela Longespée, had a vision of the martyr being received into heaven by angels on the day of his death. In 1252, the Sultan delivered Longespée's remains to a messenger who conveyed them to Acre (Akko) for burial at the church of St. Cross. However, his effigy is found amongst family members at Salisbury Cathedral, in England.

Marriage and issue[edit]

William married Idoine de Camville, daughter of Richard de Camville & Eustacia Basset. They had three sons and a daughter:

  • Edmund Longespée, The Book of Lacock names “Guill Lungespee tertium, Ric´um, Elam et Edmundum” as the children of “Guill Lungespee secundus” & his wife.
  • Ela Longespée, married James De Audley (1220–1272), of Heleigh Castle, Staffordshire, son of Henry De Audley and Bertred Mainwaring
  • William III Longespée, married Maud de Clifford, granddaughter of Llewelyn ap Iorwerth, Prince of North Wales. Their daughter Margaret married Henry de Lacy, 3rd Earl of Lincoln.[3]
  • Richard Longespée, married Alice le Rus, daughter of William le Rus of Suffolk and died shortly before 27 December 1261.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dodsworth, William (1814). An historical account of the episcopal see, and cathedral church, of Sarum, or Salisbury. Salisbury: Brodie and Dowding. pp. 192–193. 
  2. ^ "History Of Poole". Borough of Poole. 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  3. ^ Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy (London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999), page 75.
  4. ^ Richardson, Douglas (2005). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families. Royal Ancestry Series. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company. p. 165. ISBN 0-8063-1759-0. 
  • The Times Kings & Queens of The British Isles, by Thomas Cussans (chart's 30 & 86) ISBN 0-00-714195-5
  • Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America Before 1700 by Frederick Lewis Weis, Lines 30-27 and 122-30

Efigy in Salisbury cathedral long thought to be William Longspee is now identified as 14th century.