Thomas le Despenser, 1st Earl of Gloucester

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Arms Sir Thomas le Despenser, 1st Earl of Gloucester, KG: Quarterly 1st & 4th: Argent; 2nd & 3rd: Gules, a fret or, over all a bend sable

Thomas le Despenser, 1st Earl of Gloucester KG (22 September 1373 – 13 January 1400) was the son of Edward le Despenser, 1st Baron le Despencer, whom he succeeded in 1375.

Royal intrigues[edit]

A supporter of Richard II against Thomas of Woodstock and the Lords Appellant, he was rewarded with an Earldom as Earl of Gloucester in 1397, by virtue of being descended from Gilbert de Clare, 7th earl of an earlier creation.[1] He spent the years 1397-99 in Ireland, attempting with little success to persuade the Gaelic chieftains to accept Richard II as their overlord.

However, he supported Henry Bolingbroke on his return to England to become King Henry IV, only to be attainted (deprived of his Earldom because of a capital crime) for his role in the death of Thomas of Woodstock.

He then took part in the Epiphany Rising, a rebellion led by a number of Barons aimed at restoring Richard to the throne by assassinating King Henry IV; this quickly failed when the conspirators were betrayed by Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke of York to Henry. After fleeing to the western counties, a number of the Epiphany Rising conspirators were captured and killed by mobs of townspeople loyal to the king; Despenser was captured by a mob and beheaded at Bristol on 13 January 1400.


Thomas le Despenser married Constance, daughter of Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York and Isabella of Castile, Duchess of York. They had issue:

Ancestry and succession[edit]

Peerage of England
Preceded by
Edward le Despenser
Baron le Despencer
Succeeded by
Preceded by
New Creation
Earl of Gloucester
Succeeded by


  1. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Gloucester, Earls and Dukes of" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 12 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 128.
  • Otway-Ruthven, A.J. History of Medieval Ireland Barnes and Noble reprint New York 1993