Humphey de Bohune b and ELIZABETH “PLANTAGENET,” of RHUDDLAN b 1282

Humphrey VIII de Bohun, 4th Earl of Hereford (1276 – 16 March 1322) was a member of a powerful Anglo-Norman family of the Welsh Marches and was one of the Ordainers who opposed Edward II’s excesses

Humphrey de Bohun’s birth year is uncertain although several contemporary sources indicate that it was 1276. His father was Humphrey de Bohun, 3rd Earl of Hereford and his mother was Maud de Fiennes, daughter of Enguerrand II de Fiennes and Isabelle de Conde. He was born at Pleshey Castle, Essex.

Humphrey de Bohun VIII succeeded his father as Earl of Hereford and Earl of Essex, and Constable of England (later called Lord High Constable). Humphrey held the title of Bearer of the Swan Badge, a heraldic device passed down in the Bohun family. This device did not appear on their coat of arms, (az, a bend ar cotised or, between 6 lioncels or) nor their crest (gu, doubled erm, a lion gardant crowned), but it does appear on Humphrey’s personal seal .

Humphrey was one of several earls and barons under Edward I who laid siege to Caerlaverock Castle in Scotland in 1300 and later took part in many campaigns in Scotland. He also loved tourneying and gained a reputation as an “elegant” fop. In one of the campaigns in Scotland Humphrey evidently grew bored and departed for England to take part in a tournament along with Piers Gaveston and other young barons and knights. On return all of them fell under Edward I’s wrath for desertion, but were forgiven. It is probable that Gaveston’s friend, Edward (the future Edward II) had given them permission to depart. Later Humphrey became one of Gaveston’s and Edward II’s bitterest opponents.

He would also have been associating with young Robert Bruce during the early campaigns in Scotland, since Bruce, like many other Scots and Border men, moved back and forth from English allegiance to Scottish. Robert Bruce, King Robert I of Scotland, is closely connected to the Bohuns. Between the time that he swore his last fealty to Edward I in 1302 and his defection four years later, Bruce stayed for the most part in Annandale, rebuilding his castle of Lochmaben in stone, making use of its natural moat. Rebelling and taking the crown of Scotland in February, 1306, Bruce was forced to fight a war against England which went poorly for him at first, while Edward I still lived. After nearly all his family were killed or captured he had to flee to the isle of Rathlin, Ireland. His properties in England and Scotland were confiscated.

Humphrey de Bohun received many of Robert Bruce’s forfeited properties. It is unknown whether Humphrey was a long-time friend or enemy of Robert Bruce, but they were nearly the same age and the lands of the two families in Essex and Middlesex lay very close to each other. After Bruce’s self-exile, Humphrey took Lochmaben, and Edward I awarded him Annandale and the castle. During this period of chaos, when Bruce’s queen, Elizabeth de Burgh, daughter of the Earl of Ulster, was captured by Edward I and taken prisoner, Hereford and his wife Elizabeth became her custodians. She was exchanged for Humphrey after Bannockburn in 1314. Lochmaben was from time to time retaken by the Scots but remained in the Bohun family for many years, in the hands of Humphrey’s son William, Earl of Northampton, who held and defended it until his death in 1360.

At the Battle of Bannockburn (23-24 June 1314), Humphrey de Bohun should have been given command of the army because that was his responsibility as Constable of England. However, since the execution of Piers Gaveston in 1312 Humphrey had been out of favour with Edward II, who gave the Constableship for the 1314 campaign to the youthful and inexperienced Earl of Gloucester, Gilbert de Clare. Nevertheless, on the first day, de Bohun insisted on being one of the first to lead the cavalry charge. In the melee and cavalry rout between the Bannock Burn and the Scots’ camp he was not injured although his rash young nephew Henry de Bohun, who could have been no older than about 22, charged alone at Robert Bruce and was killed by Bruce’s axe.

On the second day Gloucester was killed at the start of battle. Hereford fought throughout the day, leading a large company of Welsh and English knights and archers. The archers had success at breaking up the Scots schiltrons until they were overrun by the Scots cavalry. When the battle was lost Bohun retreated with the Earl of Angus and several other barons, knights and men to Bothwell Castle, seeking a safe haven. However, all the refugees who entered the castle were taken prisoner by its formerly English governor who, like many Border knights, declared for Scotland as soon as word came of Bruce’s victory. Humphrey de Bohun was ransomed by Edward II, his brother-in-law, on the pleading of his wife Elizabeth. This was one of the most interesting ransoms in English history. The Earl was traded for Bruce’s queen and daughter, two bishops and other important Scots captives in England. Isabella MacDuff, Countess of Buchan, who had crowned Robert Bruce in 1306 and for years had been locked in a cage outside Berwick, was not included; presumably she had died in captivity.

The rebel forces were halted by loyalist troops at the wooden bridge at Boroughbridge , Yorkshire, where Humphrey de Bohun, leading an attempt to storm the bridge, met his death on 16 March 1322.

Although the details have been called into question by a few historians, his death may have been particularly gory. As recounted by Ian Mortimer “The 4th Earl of Hereford led the fight on the bridge, but he and his men were caught in the arrow fire. Then one of de Harclay’s pikemen, concealed beneath the bridge, thrust upwards between the planks and skewered the Earl of Hereford through the anus, twisting the head of the iron pike into his intestines. His dying screams turned the advance into a panic.”‘

Humphrey de Bohun may have contributed to the failure of the reformers’ aims. There is evidence that he suffered for some years, especially after his countess’s death in 1316, from clinical depression

His marriage to Elizabeth of Rhuddlan (Elizabeth Plantagenet), daughter of King Edward I of England and his first Queen consort Eleanor of Castile, on 14 November 1302, at Westminster gained him the lands of Berkshire. Elizabeth had an unknown number of children, probably ten, by Humphrey de Bohun.

Until the earl’s death the boys of the family, and possibly the girls, were given a classical education under the tutelage of a Sicilian Greek, Master “Digines” (Diogenes), who may have been Humphrey de Bohun’s boyhood tutor. He was evidently well-educated, a book collector and scholar, interests his son Humphrey and daughter Margaret (Courtenay) inherited.

Mary or Margaret (the first-born Margaret) and the first-born Humphrey were lost in infancy and are buried in the same sarcophagus in Westminster Abbey. Since fraternal twins were known in the Castilian royal family of Elizabeth Bohun, who gave birth to a pair who lived to manhood, Mary (Margaret?) and Humphrey, see next names, may have been twins, but that is uncertain. The name of a possible lost third child, if any, is unknown-and unlikely.

Elizabeth “Plantagenet” of Rhuddlan, daughter of Edward I “Longshanks” King of England and Eleanor of Castile, was born on 7 Aug 1282 in Rhuddlan Castle, Rhuddlan, Flintshire, Wale, died on 5 May 1316 in Quendon, Essex, England, United Kingdom at age 33, and was buried on 7 May 1316 in Walden Abbey, Hertfordshire, England.. Of all of her siblings, she was closest to her younger brother Edward II of England as they were only two years apart in age. In April 1285 there were negotiations with Floris V  for Elizabeth’s betrothal to his son John I, Count of Holland. The offer was accepted and John was sent to England  to be educated. On 8 January  1297  Elizabeth was married to John at Ipswich . In attendance at the marriage were Elizabeth’s sister Margaret , her father, Edward I of England , her brother Edward , and Humphrey de Bohun . After the wedding Elizabeth was expected to go to Holland with her husband, but did not wish to go, leaving her husband to go alone. After some time traveling England , it was decided Elizabeth should follow her husband. Her father accompanied her, traveling through the Southern Netherlands  between Antwerp , Mechelen , Leuven  and Brussels , before ending up in Ghent. There they remained for a few months, spending Christmas  with her two sisters Eleanor of England, Countess of Bar and Margaret Plantagenet . On 10 November  1299 , John died of dysentery , though there were rumors of his being murdered. No children had been born from the marriage.

On her return trip to England , Elizabeth went through Brabant to see her sister Margaret. When she arrived in England, she met her stepmother Margaret of France , whom Edward had married whilst she was in Holland . Reportedly, they became inseparable. On 14 November 1302  Elizabeth was married to Humphrey de Bohun, 4th Earl of Hereford , 3rd of Essex, also Constable of England , at Westminster Abbey During Christmas 1315, Elizabeth, who was pregnant with her tenth child, was visited by her sister-in-law Isabella of France. This was a great honor, but the stress of it may have caused unknown health problems that later contributed to Elizabeth’s death in childbirth. On 5 May  1316  she went into labor, giving birth to her daughter Isabella. Both Elizabeth and Isabella died shortly after the birthing, and were buried together in Waltham Abbey.

The children of Elizabeth and Humphrey de Bohun, 4th Earl of Hereford  are:

  1. Hugh de Bohun (September 1303 – 1305)
  2. Lady Eleanor de Bohun  (October 17 , 1304 – 1363), married James Butler, 1st Earl of  Ormonde and Thomas Dagworth, 1st Baron Dagworth.
  3. Humphrey de Bohun
  4. John de Bohun, 5th Earl of Hereford  (23 November  – 1335)
  5. Humphrey de Bohun, 6th Earl of Hereford 6 December  about 1309
  6. Margaret de Bohun, 2nd Countess of Devon 3 April 1311 , married Hugh Courtenay, 2nd Earl of Devon
  7. William de Bohun, 1st Earl of Northampton (1312 – 1360). Twin of Edward. Married Elizabeth de Badlesmere
  8. Edward de Bohun (1312 – 1334). Twin of William.
  9. Eneas de Bohun, (1314 – after 1322),