earl of Leicester and earl of Lancaster Thomas

(b. c. 1278)

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B. c.1278, s. of Edmund, earl of Leicester and of Lancaster, and Blanche, da. of Robert, count of Artois; m. Alice, da. of Henry, earl of Lincoln, c.1294; succ. as earl 5 June 1296; d. 22 Mar. 1322; bur. Pontefract priory.

Thomas of Lancaster was first cousin to king Edward II, the greatest magnate of his day, and a persistent opponent of the crown. His early opposition was to Piers Gaveston, a favourite whom the king had created earl of Cornwall. Gaveston was seized in 1312 and beheaded in Lancaster's presence. In 1321 his animosity was transferred to the Despensers, whom the king was forced to banish. The following year, open warfare ensued but, after a defeat at Burton, Lancaster was captured at Boroughbridge, taken to Pontefract, and executed as a traitor. His supporters hailed him as a great champion of liberty but he seems a better example of baronial faction.

Maddicott, J. R., Thomas of Lancaster, 1307–22 (1970).

Subjects: British History.

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