Hugh Despenser (justiciar)

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Hugh le Despenser
Arms of Despenser: Quarterly 1st & 4th: Argent; 2nd & 3rd: Gules, a fret or, over all a bend sable
Chief Justiciar
In office
1260 – May 1261[1]
MonarchHenry III
Preceded byHugh Bigod
Succeeded byPhilip Basset[1]
Chief Justiciar
In office
July 1263 – 4 August 1265[1]
MonarchHenry III
Preceded byPhilip Basset
Succeeded bynone
Personal details
Died4 August 1265
Political partyBarons
SpouseAline Basset
ChildrenHugh le Despenser
Eleanor le Despenser
The fully clothed and armed dead body of Hugh le Despencer[citation needed] at the Battle of Evesham (with his arms on his surcoat and on his discarded shield), above the naked and dismembered body of Simon de Montfort. Near contemporary drawing, British Library Cotton MS Nero D ii, f. 177

Hugh le Despenser, 1st Baron le Despenser (1223 – 4 August 1265) was an important ally of Simon de Montfort during the reign of Henry III. He served briefly as Justiciar of England in 1260 and as Constable of the Tower of London.

Despenser first played an important part in 1258, when he was prominent on the baronial side in the Mad Parliament of Oxford. In 1260 the barons chose him to succeed Hugh Bigod as Justiciar, and in 1263 the king was further compelled to put the Tower of London in his hands.

He was the son of Hugh le Despenser and was summoned to Parliament by Simon de Montfort. Hugh was summoned as Baron le Despenser on 14 December 1264 and was Chief Justiciar of England and a leader of the baronial party, and so might be deemed a baron, though the legality of that assembly is doubtful. He remained allied with Montfort to the end, and was present at the Battle of Lewes. He was killed fighting on de Montfort's side at the Battle of Evesham in August 1265. He was slain by Roger Mortimer, 1st Baron Wigmore; this caused a feud to begin between the Despencer and Mortimer families.

By his wife, Aline Basset, he was father of Hugh Despenser 'the elder', who became an advisor to Edward II and was made Earl of Winchester. Aline was the daughter of Philip Basset, who had also served as Justiciar. They also had a daughter named Eleanor le Despenser, who married Sir Hugh de Courtenay, feudal baron of Okehampton.


  1. ^ a b c Susan Higginbotham. "The Last Justiciar: Hugh le Despenser in the Thirteenth Century". Archived from the original on 29 June 2008. Retrieved 15 February 2008.

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Preceded by Chief Justiciar
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chief Justiciar
Succeeded by