Richard Fitzalan, 4th Earl of Arundel

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Richard FitzAlan
Earl of Arundel, Earl of Surrey
gules, a lion rampant or[1]
Died21 September 1397(1397-09-21) (aged 50–51)
London, England
Spouse(s)Elizabeth de Bohun
Philippa Mortimer
FatherRichard Fitzalan
MotherEleanor of Lancaster

Richard Fitzalan, 4th Earl of Arundel, 9th Earl of Surrey, KG (1346 – 21 September 1397) was an English medieval nobleman and military commander.


Born in 1346, he was the son of Richard Fitzalan, 3rd Earl of Arundel and Eleanor of Lancaster.[2] He succeeded his father to the title of Earl of Arundel on 24 January 1376.

His brother was Thomas Arundel, the Bishop of Ely from 1374 to 1388, Archbishop of York from 1388 to 1397, and Archbishop of Canterbury in 1397 and from 1399 until his death in 1414.[3]

At the coronation of Richard II, Richard Fitzalan carried the crown.[2]


Richard Fitzalan, 4th Earl of Arundel; Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester; Thomas Mowbray, Earl of Nottingham; Henry, Earl of Derby (later Henry IV); and Thomas Beauchamp, 12th Earl of Warwick, demand Richard II to let them prove by arms the justice for their rebellion.

In 1377, Richard Fitzalan held the title of Admiral of the North and West.[2] In this capacity, he attacked Harfleur at Whitsun 1378, but was forced to return to his ships by the defenders. Later, he and John of Gaunt attempted to seize Saint-Malo but were unsuccessful.[4]

Power struggle[edit]

Fitzalan was closely aligned with Thomas, Duke of Gloucester, who was an uncle of King Richard II. Thomas was opposed to Richard II's desire for peace with France in the Hundred Years' War and a power struggle ensued between him and Gloucester. In late 1386, Gloucester forced King Richard II to name himself and Richard Fitzalan to the King's Council.[5] This Council was to all intents and purposes a Regency Council for Richard II. However, Richard limited the duration of the Council's powers to one year.[6]

Knight of the Garter[edit]

In 1386, Richard II named Richard Fitzalan Admiral of England and made him a Knight of the Garter.[2] As Admiral of England, he defeated a Franco-Spanish-Flemish fleet off Margate in March 1387, along with Thomas de Mowbray, Earl of Nottingham.[6]

New favourites[edit]

In August 1387, the King dismissed Gloucester and Fitzalan from the Council and replaced them with his favourites—including the Archbishop of York, Alexander Neville; the Duke of Ireland, Robert de Vere; Michael de la Pole; the Earl of Suffolk, Sir Robert Tresilian, who was the Chief Justice; and the former Mayor of London Nicholas Brembre.[7]

Radcot Bridge[edit]

The King summoned Gloucester and Fitzalan to a meeting. However, instead of coming, they raised troops and defeated the new Council at Radcot Bridge on 22 December 1387. During that battle, they took the favourites prisoner. The next year, the Merciless Parliament condemned the favourites.

Fitzalan was one of the Lords Appellant who accused and condemned Richard II's favourites.[5] He made himself particularly odious to the King by refusing, along with Gloucester, to spare the life of Sir Simon de Burley who had been condemned by the Merciless Parliament. This was even after the queen, Anne of Bohemia, went down on her knees before them to beg for mercy. King Richard never forgave this humiliation and planned and waited for his moment of revenge.

Arundel was named Governor of Brest in 1388.[2]

Opposed to peace[edit]

Peace was concluded with France in 1389. However, Richard Fitzalan followed Gloucester's lead and stated that he would never agree with the peace that had been concluded.[5]

Marriage and children[edit]

Arundel married twice.

His first wife was Elizabeth de Bohun, daughter of William de Bohun, 1st Earl of Northampton and Elizabeth de Badlesmere. They married around 28 September 1359 and had seven children:[2]

After the death of his first wife in 1385, Arundel married Philippa Mortimer, daughter of Edmund Mortimer, 3rd Earl of March. Her mother was Philippa Plantagenet, the only daughter of Lionel of Antwerp and thus a granddaughter of Edward III. They had no children.[2]

Death and succession[edit]

By 1394, Arundel was again a member of the royal council, and was involved in a quarrel with John of Gaunt, whom he accused in the parliament of that year.[10] Fitzalan further antagonized the King by arriving late for the queen's funeral. Richard II, in a rage, snatched a wand and struck Fitzalan in the face and drew blood. Shortly after that, the King feigned a reconciliation but he was only biding his time for the right moment to strike.

Arundel was persuaded by his brother Thomas to surrender himself and to trust the king's clemency.[10] On 12 July 1397, Richard was arrested for his opposition to Richard II,[2] as well as plotting with Gloucester to imprison the king.[11] He stood trial at Westminster and was attainted.[12] He was beheaded on 21 September 1397 and was buried in the church of the Augustin Friars, near Old Broad Street, London.[2] Tradition holds that his final words were said to the executioner, "Torment me not long, strike off my head in one blow".[13]

In October 1400, the attainder was reversed, and Richard's son Thomas succeeded to his father's estates and honours.[2]


  1. ^ Some Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. Joseph Foster. 1902. (p.115)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n G. E. C. The Complete Peerage p. 244-245
  3. ^ Powell, et al. The House of Lords p. 398
  4. ^ Seward The Hundred Years War p. 124-125
  5. ^ a b c Seward The Hundred Years War p. 136-139
  6. ^ a b Powell et al. The House of Lords p. 400-401
  7. ^ Powell et al. The House of Lords p. 404
  8. ^ Rawcliffe, C., biography of USFLETE, Sir Gerard, of North Ferriby and Ousefleet, Yorks, published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993 [1]
  9. ^ Memorials of the Order of the Garter, from Its Foundation to the Present ... By George Frederick p. 298 accessed 1 November 2007
  10. ^ a b  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Arundel, Earls of". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 706.
  11. ^ Seward The Hundred Years War p. 142
  12. ^ Powell et al. The House of Lords p. 417
  13. ^ Thomas B. Costain The Last Plantagenets, page 200

Secondary sources[edit]

External links[edit]

Peerage of England
Preceded by Earl of Arundel
(2nd creation)
Succeeded by
later reversed for
Thomas Fitzalan
Earl of Surrey
(1st creation)