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This Sceptred Isle

The Ghastly Execution
On Edward II's defeat at Bannockburn, Thomas of Lancaster became Steward of England. He was extremely inefficient and unpopular and was overthrown by a royalist party led by the Despensers. The Despensers were not a landowning family and set out to win land in the Welsh marches.

In 1321 the Welsh marcher lords and the Lancastrian party joined together and fought the King and the Despensers. The Marcher lords were defeated first and then the northern barons led by Lancaster were defeated at Boroughbridge in Yorkshire. Lancaster was beheaded by the King.

One of the Marcher lords, Roger Mortimer, escaped to France.

Meanwhile Charles IV of France seized Gascony, Isabella suggested she went to France to negotiate for Edward II. She became Mortimer's lover and the scheming began. She sent for her son, Prince Edward, to do homage for Gascony. Once he arrived safely she and Mortimer headed an invasion of England. The Despensers were hanged. The King was deposed and later died, almost certainly murdered, at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire.

Sir Hugh Despenser
Sir Hugh Despenser
HUGH DESPENSER (c. 1287-1326)

  • Known as the younger, his father was also called Hugh
  • A great favourite of Edward II after the death of Piers Gaveston
  • Married Eleanor the King's niece
  • Took over much land in the Welsh marches which led to an anti-Despenser coalition, he defeated this at Boroughbridge in 1322
  • Executed when Isabella and Mortimer invaded in 1326

did you know?
Thomas of Lancaster's wife, Alice Lacy, left Lancaster and took refuge with the Earl of York, thus starting the hostilities between those two great families.

Select historical period

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1306Robert I, the Bruce, King of Scotland
1307Edward I dies
Edward II becomes King
1314English defeated at Bannockburn
1318Edward II regains England and the Despensers rise to power
1322Edward II defeats the Marcher lords and the Lancastrians
Thomas of Lancaster is executed
1326Isabella and Mortimer invade England
1327Edward II is deposed
Edward III becomes King
Isabella & Mortimer govern
Scots invade England
1328Edward III recognizes Robert the Bruce as King of Scotland

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