Pontefract Castle – 14th Century

1/1/1318On 1st January 1318, Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, was licensed to hold lands in Yorkshire and North Wales for the life of John de Warenne, 7th Earl of Surrey and owner of Sandal Castle, who was given permission to enfeoff Lancaster with lands in East Anglia. The terms of the first licence were a modification of the original agreement: Lancaster gained the Yorkshire lands for de Warenne’s life only and not in fee as before. In return for these concessions, Lancaster was allowed to grant to  de Warenne, for life, lands and rents to the annual value of 1,000 marks (£635,000 in today’s money) in Somerset, Dorset, and Wiltshire. The charter for this was drawn up on 13th March 1319 at Pontefract and was later confirmed by Edward II.
1/1/1329On 1st January 1329, Edward III and Roger Mortimer arrived at Henry’s, 3rd Earl of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, Kenilworth Castle but were refused admittance. By the 12th January, the king was in Lancaster’s town of Leicester whilst Lancaster had been raising anti-royalist troops in London. Very soon afterwards, at Bedford, Lancaster was forced to kneel before the king begging forgiveness and was sacked from all his offices save the seneschalship of England; he was also fined the sum of half the value of his estates but Archbishop Meopham secured his pardon from prosecution for treason.
2/1/1340On 2nd January 1340, Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster and later lord of Pontefract, was made Joint Commissioner to ‘treat’ with ‘the Lord Philp de Valois’ by Edward III.
2/1/1381On 2nd January 1381, successful Anglo-Bohemian talks were held at Bruges to complete the arrangements for the marriage of Richard II (who died at Pontefract Castle) to Anne of Bohemia, sister of King and emperor-elect Wenceslas.
6/1/1367Richard II and Anna's coronationOn 6th January 1367, Richard II was born 1367 in Bordeaux. His father was Edward the Black Prince and his mother Joan the 4th Countess of Kent. Richard died  in 1400 whilst imprisoned at Pontefract Castle, aged 33.
7/1/1397On 7th January 1397, seven-years-old Isabella of Valois, wife of Richard II and eldest daughter of Charles VI of France, was crowned Queen of England, the day after her husband’s thirtieth birthday.
9/1/1360On 9th January 1360, Edward III commented upon his pregnant daughter-in-law, Blanche of Lancaster, wife of John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, that he wished her to stay with Queen Philippa for the last few months of her pregnancy ‘because of the concern that we feel for her condition’. His son, John of Gaunt, had been in France on campaign since October 1359.
9/1/1367On 9th January 1367, Richard of Bordeaux (the future Richard II who died at Pontefract Castle) was baptised in the cathedral of St Andre in Bordeaux. His christening was attended by three kings including James of Majorca (in exile) and Leo of Armenia.
10/1/1321The siege of royalist Tickhill Castle (whose constable was William de Aune) by Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, in his rebellion against Edward II, provoked Edward to crush Lancaster finally. The siege had begun by 10th January 1321 and news of it was evidently brought to the king at Gloucester for, in the ten days that he was there, preparations were put in hand for a full-scale campaign. Lancaster's siege was ultimately unsuccessful. A file of twenty letters under the privy and secret seals, dating from 14th September 1320 to 11th March 1322, shows the King constantly pressing Aune for news, enjoining the strictest secrecy, urging him to fortify his castle, and asking for full reports on the comings and goings of the barons in Yorkshire.
11/1/1329On the 11th January 1329, Henry of Lancaster, later lord of Pontefract, surrendered to Edward III at Bedford after marching to meet Roger Mortimer’s army which had been sacking and burning Lancaster’s manors in Warwickshire and Leicestershire and seizing his city of Leicester. The king’s uncles, the Earls of Kent and Norfolk, had abandoned Lancaster to re-join the royal court. Despite Archbishop Mepeham having interceded on his behalf, Lancaster was fined £11,000 (£12.2 million in today’s money): the fine never being paid.
13/1/1396John of Gaunt was one of the great custodians of Pontefract castle and when his second wife, Constance of Castile, died on 24th March 1394, he was now free to marry his long-standing mistress, Katherine Swynford (sister-in-law of Chaucer), on 13th January 1396. John and Katherine had had four children - the Beauforts - who would become the ancestors of the great Tudor dynasty through their great granddaughter Margaret Beaufort and her marriage to Edmund Tudor. Edmund was the son of Catherine de Valois, the former queen of Henry V and her second husband, Owen Tudor. Margaret and Edmund's son, Henry Tudor, would defeat Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 to become Henry VII.
15/1/1322By mid January 1322, Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March and a key ally of Thomas of Lancaster, surrendered to Edward II at Shrewsbury. Mortimer’s faith in Lancaster had been destroyed by the failure of Thomas to leave his northern fortress at Pontefract  during the Despenser War. Support for Lancaster was ebbing away, and as Edward II began to march north, Lancaster would try to reach his northern fortress at Dunstanburgh, only to be surrounded and defeated at the Battle of Boroughbridge on the 16th March 1322. Lancaster had opened private negotiations with Scotland aiming at a Scots-baronial alliance to coerce Edward II and on 15th January he was granted a safe conduct to visit the Scots, using the provocative code-name 'King Arthur'.
15/1/1346On 15th January 1346, Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster, brother of the executed’ traitor’ Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, and last surviving grandchild of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence was buried in Leicester. His first cousin once removed, Edward III, and niece, Queen Isabella, attended along with many English nobles and most of the Earl’s six daughters. Some years later, his son, Henry of Grosmont, had his remains transferred to the collegiate church of the Annunciation of Our Lady of the Newarke in Leicester, his extension of his father’s 1330 foundation.
15/1/1394During the Parliament of January 1394, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, petitioned for his son, Henry of Lancaster, to be the king’s heir claiming preposterously (some say) that his first wife Blanche’s great-grandfather, Edmund (Crouchback) of Lancaster, had been the true elder son of Henry III but had been overlooked in favour of his brother Edward I on account of Edmund’s physical deformity. This would have made Edward I’s nephew, Thomas of Lancaster, the next rightful king and thereafter his descendants. The nonsensical nature of this line of reasoning was apparent in not only Edward I having been over five years older than his brother, Edmund, but that it would have invalidated John of Gaunt’s own high rank and status as a true king’s son.
18/1/1382On 18th January 1382, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, escorted sixteen-year-old Anne of Bohemia, eldest daughter of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, into London for her impending wedding to Richard II.
20/1/1307On 20th January 1307, Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was one of two Commissioners to open parliament in Carlisle.
20/1/1320On 20th January 1320, Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, refused to attend the Parliament at York, fearing for his safety in his quarrels with Edward II.
20/1/1327On 20th January 1327, at Kenilworth Castle, owned by Henry of Lancaster, later lord of Pontefract when his executed brother Thomas’s titles and lands were restored to Henry, Edward II agreed to resign his crown to his son, later Edward III.
20/1/1330On 20th January 1330, Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster, brother of the executed’ traitor’ Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, founded a hospital in Leicester, possibly, some surmise, to mark his fiftieth year or as acknowledgement to the plight of the handicapped; he was suffering worsening vision if not total blindness by this time.
20/1/1382On 20th January 1382, fifteen-year-old Richard II, the most famous prisoner to be later held at Pontefract Castle, was married to sixteen-year-old Anne of Bohemia in Westminster Abbey by the Bishop of London, Robert Baybrooke.
21/1/1342On 21st January 1342, John of Gaunt, future lord of Pontefract, and not yet two-years-old, was made Earl of Richmond. The official confirmation was made on 20th September that year.
21/1/1390On 21st January 1390, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, was re-sworn as a Privy Councillor to Richard II.
22/1/1382On 22nd January 1382, Anne of Bohemia, eldest daughter of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, was crowned Queen of England (to Richard II) by the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Courtenay. John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, was in attendance and gave the queen a silver enamelled ewer on an elaborate stand. During the week-long festivities after the wedding, Gaunt provided minstrels for the jousts at Smithfield, with his son, Henry Bolingbroke (later Henry IV), displaying his considerable jousting talents.
23/1/1396John of GauntIn January 1396, John Of Gaunt was newly-married to his mistress, Katherine Swynford. The Duke and Duchess made a short trip to the North before facing the court. Possibly, John wanted to 'test the water' by taking Katherine on a tour of his domains and by the 23rd January, they were lodged at Pontefract Castle. The royal lodgings were in the turreted trefoil donjon which John had heightened 20 years earlier. The couple would have resided in great luxury as John had lavished huge sums of money on his castle. The image is of John of Gaunt.
26/1/1354On 26th January 1354, Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, was made Commissioner to ‘treat’ with the King of Navarre by Edward III.
27/1/1316On 27th January 1316, Parliament opened in Lincoln, one of the towns of which Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, held by right. Thomas, however, displaying his ‘power’ vis-à-vis Edward II, did not arrive until 12th February. At this time, Thomas had a retinue of over 700 men compared to the king’s household of around 500, and owned 400 horses. His gross annual income was around £11,000 (£5.9 million in today’s money vs most people earning from 1d to 3d per day). As Kathryn Warner states: ‘Although …richer than anyone in the country except his cousin the king…Thomas lived well beyond his means. Even by the standards of the time he was a despised, greedy and grasping landlord…’
27/1/1321On 27th January 1321, Roger Mortimer and Lords Audley and Damory after withdrawing from Edward II’s court under threat of the Despenser ‘land grab’, met Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, to seek his aid. With the charge of treason hanging over them, together with the Earl of Hereford, they refused to go to the king at Gloucester on 5th April.
27/1/1377On 27th January 1377, Parliament opened with Prince Richard (later Richard II) and John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, ceremonially presiding. The Parliament agreed a 4d a head ‘poll tax’ (£11 in today’s money) after Gaunt conceded to the bishops’ demands regarding allowing William Wykeham to join them free of house arrest.
31/1/1308On 31st January 1308, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract and senior earl, was one of the principal signatories to the Boulogne Agreement, as was John de Warenne, 7th Earl of Surrey and owner of Sandal Castle. This document sought to assert the signatories’ duty to guard the king’s honour and rights of the Crown and redress any wrongs that had been committed against such and the people. Its successor (introduced into parliament by Henry de Lacy) Boulogne Declaration’s three articles in April 1308, invoked the “doctrine of capacities” stipulating that the subjects of the realm owed allegiance to the Crown not to the person of the king. Any abuse of the king’s position should be corrected by his subjects. Piers Gaveston, Edward II’s court favourite, was also implicitly attacked in the document (with his removal tacitly suggested) and the king was obliged to adhere to his coronation oath.
31/1/1398On 31st January 1398, a commission convened at Bristol, led by John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, to investigate claims by Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, concerning plots about  the destruction of the House of Lancaster. A quarrel between Mowbray and Henry Bolingbroke, then Duke of Hereford and later Henry IV, was mediated by Richard II at Windsor that April in demanding both lords fight out their differences in a duel.
1/2/1301On 1st February 1301, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was given the custody of Corfe Castle after his return from his ambassadorial mission to the papal curia. De Lacy had been somewhat successful in helping Edward’s finances by securing the pope’s 10% tax (intended to ‘recover’ the kingdom of Sicily) on English churches for three years with half the profits going to the king.
1/2/1327On 1st February 1327, the Honours of the Castles of Pontefract and Clitheroe were given to Edward II's wife Queen Isabella. She was obliged to give Pontefract to Edward III's wife Queen Philippa in 1330.
2/2/1387On 2nd February 1387, John of Gaunt’s, lord of Pontefract, daughter, Philippa was married to King John of Portugal in Oporto, thereby putatively extending Gaunt’s dynastic influence.
3/2/1320After failing to attend a parliament at York called by the king for the 20th January, Thomas of Lancaster meanwhile probably remained at Pontefract. He was certainly there on 3rd February, 25th April, 10th August, and 9th October 1320, and it is a telling mark of his isolation during this period that the wardrobe books record no payments for messengers passing between King and Earl. In contrast, Edward had written to him at least five times between the raising of the siege of Berwick in September 1319 and January 1320.
3/2/1327On 3rd February 1327, Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster (grandson of Henry III), proposed to Edward III’s first parliament that his executed brother, Thomas should be pardoned for his opposition to Edward’s father and that he (Henry) should be granted the Lancastrian ‘inheritance’. Edward returned the earldom of Lancaster, including Pontefract Castle, to him and also appointed him head of the regency council, composed of twelve or fourteen men as Edward was under age. It has been argued that Thomas of Lancaster's condemnation and execution under martial law, done in a time of peace, was murder as it was against Magna Carta.
3/2/1399John of GauntOn 3rd of February 1399, John of Gaunt died of natural causes aged 58. He was the fourth son of Edward III, uncle to Richard II and as the founder of the royal house of Lancaster it would be his descendants who would ascend to the throne after his death. Pontefract Castle was his personal residence and he did a great deal of work rebuilding and improving the towers. He owned over 30 castles but Pontefract was his favourite. The image is a late-fourteenth century portrait which also displays John of Gaunt's coat of arms.
4/2/1319On 4th February 1319, both Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, and his brother, Henry, were in York to witness a charter of Edward II.
4/2/1397On 4th February 1397, Richard II granted John of Gaunt’s (lord of Pontefract) wish to have his four Beaufort children (John, Henry, Thomas and Joan) legitimised. Richard stated: ‘by the plenitude of our royal power, and with the assent of Parliament,…….’ the children were legitimate and able to inherit ‘whatsoever honours, dignities, pre-eminencies, status, ranks and offices, public and private, perpetual and temporal, feudal and noble there may be….as fully, freely and lawfully as if you had been born in lawful wedlock.’
4/2/1399On 4th February 1399, after the death of John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, the dukedom of Lancaster passed to his son, Henry Bolingbroke (later that year becoming Henry IV).
5/2/1311Henry de Lacy, Baron of Pontefract, died on 5th February 1311 at Lincoln’s Inn in the City of London. He had been Chief Councillor to Edward I and appointed Protector of the Realm whilst Edward was engaged in military campaigns against the Scots and, similarly, Regent of the Kingdom during Edward II’s absence in Scotland. Henry had been a moderating influence on baronial opposition to Edward II leaving the Earl of Lancaster as leader of the Ordainers who sought major reforms to the king’s household and powers and exile of Piers Gaveston. Henry was buried in Old St Paul's Cathedral; unfortunately, his tomb and the cathedral were destroyed in the great fire of London 1666. Upon Henry's death, his daughter, Alice de Lacy, inherited a sizeable fortune worth 10,000 marks or £6,666. 13. 4d (£6.3 million in today's money) as Henry’s lands and accumulated revenues were estimated at their height to be in the region of £3500 (£3.3 million in today’s money) per annum.  His daughter Alice had previously married Thomas of Lancaster and this had significant political repercussions as he then inherited the de Lacy estates and fortune (except the castle and honour of Halton) through his wife and, effectively, on Henry’s death, Thomas became the second wealthiest earl in the country behind the earldom of Cornwall. This date was also when Pontefract Castle became part of the Duchy of Lancaster which had been created as an inheritance in 1265 by Henry III for his youngest son, Edmund, who assumed the title Earl of Lancaster in 1267.
5/2/1327On 5th February 1327, the executed Thomas, Earl of Lancaster’s, lord of Pontefract, Inquisition Post Mortem (local inquiries into valuable properties, in order to discover what income and rights were due to the crown and who the heir should be) was ordered, four days after the coronation of King Edward III.
5/2/1381On 5th February 1381, a thirteen-years-old Henry of Lancaster, Earl of Derby (later Henry IV), son of John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, married his eleven-years-old second cousin, Mary de Bohun, younger daughter and co-heir of the late Earl of Hereford at Rochford in Essex. By virtue of this union, Henry had not only a vast Lancastrian inheritance to come, including the earldoms of Leicester, Lincoln, Richmond and the dukedom of Lancaster but also a large portion of the earldoms of Hereford, Essex and Northampton. Chronicler Jean Froissart believed that Gaunt had abducted Mary from his brother Thomas of Woodstock’s keeping as Thomas and his wife, Eleanor, Mary’s elder sister, were said to be intent on ‘forcing’ Mary into service as a nun, thereby claiming the full de Bohun inheritance.
5/2/1397On 5th February 1397, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, interrogated Thomas Haxey, a clerk of the Commons, in the White Chamber at Westminster, before condemning him to death as a traitor. Haxey had been nominated by the Speaker of the House, John Bussey, as having criticised Richard II’s excessive household expenditure in a bill he had formulated; to which the king took enormous offence. Albeit Haxey was pardoned by the king after representations by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the affair illustrated Richard’s volatile nature and Gaunt’s unwillingness to confront the king over a blatant injustice, particularly as he had only recently gained legitimization of his Beaufort children by Richard.
6/2/1310On 6th February 1310, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was made Steward of the Manor of Brunne (Bourne Castle), Lincolnshire.
7/2/1308On 7th February 1308, Henry of Lancaster, brother to Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, who was to succeed to Thomas’s lands and titles some years after Thomas’s execution, was In Dover to greet his cousin, Edward II, and niece, Isabella of France, on their arrival in England after their marriage on 25th January.
7/2/1310Parliament had been summoned for 8th February 1310, but the barons refused to come as long as Piers Gaveston remained with the king; if they had to come, they threatened to appear in arms for their own safety. Edward II prohibited such acts in writs sent on the 7th February 1310 to the Earls of Lancaster (later lord of Pontefract), Pembroke, Hereford, and Warwick. On 7th February, when the writs were issued, Lancaster was on his manor of Higham in Northamptonshire. The distrustful Earls were assured of their own safety and told that Gloucester, Warenne (of Sandal Castle), Lincoln (lord of Pontefract), and Richmond had been appointed to keep the peace in London and to settle any quarrels which might arise during the parliament. This assembly finally met on 27th February, after Gaveston had been sent away by Edward.
8/2/1321On 8th February 1321, Edward II wrote to Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, recounting the crimes which the rebels had committed and warning him not to receive the Marchers, who had retired from Gloucester and publicly declared that they were about to join Lancaster and that he would help them. Lancaster’s reply to the king’s demand, preserved by the Meaux chronicler, probably arrived within the next few days. He answered arrogantly that he had drawn no rebels to himself nor was he accustomed to nourish such men, but if he knew where they could be found he would kill them or expel them from the kingdom. Plainly, neither party contemplated any sort of peaceful settlement, and between 7th and 18th February writs were issued by Edward for the assembly of a large army at Coventry on 28th February.
8/2/1322On 8th February 1322, Edward II wrote to Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, stating that he ‘wished to continue and augment his affection to the earl’ and ordered him not to act in accordance with the Contrariants (the king’s baronial enemies). Edward claimed these rivals ‘have publicly boasted that they were going to the earl, and that they would draw him to them in the aforesaid excesses and that they were sure of this.’ The ‘excesses’ were namely burning and despoiling royal towns and castles.
12/2/1301On 12th February 1301, a group of English barons wrote to Pope Boniface VIII promoting Edward I’s claims to overlordship of Scotland thereby repudiating the Pope’s own claims to such. Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and his brother, Henry, were named second and tenth respectively on the list of barons.
12/2/1322On February 12th 1322, Thomas Earl of Lancaster was declared a rebel by Edward II. The Earls of Kent and Surrey were sent to pursue and arrest him and lay siege to Pontefract Castle.
13/2/1333On 13th February 1333, Edward III issued a brief dated at Pontefract to the King’s Treasurer, the Barons of the Exchequer and their Chamberlains stating (as per the records of Merton Priory) that upon the marriage of his sister Eleanor of Woodstock and Count Reginald of Guelderland ‘certain prelates and religious, had in subvention of the great cost thereof, promised to pay him certain sums of money. The King, wishing that such money, which they themselves had conceded to him, be raised, for the purpose, as promised, enclosed a schedule, and commanded that they require and raise the said sums from the said prelates and religious, and cause the same to be received into his Treasury.’
13/2/1385Around 13th and 14th February 1385, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, fled to Pontefract Castle to avoid being arraigned for treason by Richard II. Richard had intended to ‘dispose’ of the duke either (according to differing sources) at a great council at Waltham or a tournament to be held at Westminster. Worsening relations between Richard II and his uncle (over the duke’s wealth, influence etc) had been stoked by a Carmelite friar, John Latimer, informing Richard the previous year that the duke was plotting his death, with Richard reluctantly (then) retracting Gaunt’s immediate execution.
14/2/1367On 14th February 1367, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, together with Sir John Chandos, led the Black Prince’s vanguard across the Pyrenees through the pass of Roncesvalles. The 17 miles’ (27 km) crossing had to be made in the nine available hours of daylight with a climb of over 4,000 ft (1,220 metres) in full military equipment and fast-changing, winter weather. The Black Prince’s section of his army could not attempt the crossing for a further six days, with the main body of the army reaching Pamplona, the capital of the kingdom of Navarre on 23rd February.
14/2/1382On 14th February 1382, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, granted Katherine Swynford full ownership of the property she inhabited. Gaunt and Katherine were not to marry for another fourteen years. When this marriage finally occurred, Froissart was to record that high-born ladies of the court snubbed Katherine, feeling Gaunt had ‘disgraced himself by thus marrying his concubine’.
15/2/1379In February 1379, after intermittent aggression from the Scots across the Scottish borders, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, was appointed Lieutenant over the Marches towards Scotland, by Richard II.
17/2/1342On 17th February 1342, Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster and later lord of Pontefract, was made Warden of the castle, town and commote of Camarthen and the lordship of Cantremaur with the Forests by Edward III.
18/2/1386On 18th February 1386, Pope Urban VI’s proclamation that John of Gaunt’s, lord of Pontefract, invasion of Castile (the kingdom claimed by virtue of Gaunt’s wife, Constance, as ‘rightful Queen of Castile’) was a Crusade, was announced in St Paul’s Cathedral. King John of Castile backed Urban’s papal rival ‘antipope’ Clement VII.
19/2/1377On 19th February 1377, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, tried to get the Lord Mayor of London replaced by a more pliable official with resulting riots in the capital. On this day also, John Wycliffe, supposedly a protegé of Gaunt and popular due to his attacks upon clerical wealth and pluralism, was summoned before an ecclesiastical tribunal in St Paul’s Cathedral to answer charges of unorthodox writings. Gaunt, Lord Percy and others accompanied him to give support. Gaunt’s interference with religious legal rights caused an angry mob to march to his Savoy palace in defence of their Bishop (Courtenay). Gaunt then drew up orders to curtail the liberties of London.
20/2/1351On 20th February 1351, the Calendar of Close Rolls, Edward III, recorded at Westminster: ‘Simon, prior of Pontefract acknowledges for himself and convent that they owe to Henry, earl of Lancaster £ 66. 13s. 4d. (£65,000 in today’s money); to be levied, in default of payment, of their lands and chattels and ecclesiastical goods in the county of York.’ As at this time, Henry of Grosmont was 1st Duke of Lancaster and was the son of Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster, who had died in 1345, this could have been an outstanding debt to the family estate.
20/2/1375On 20th February 1375, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, was made Chief Plenipotentiary to the (peace) Congress of Bruges, by Edward III, which was due to open on 11th March to try and achieve a truce during the Hundred Years’ War between England and France.
20/2/1377On 20th February 1377, John of Gaunt’s, lord of Pontefract, retainers, Lords Fitzwalter and Brian, reported that Gaunt’s ally, Lord Percy, had arrested a Londoner for insulting the duke. After storming Percy’s house and freeing the accused, an angry mob sought a fleeing Gaunt as he made his way to Princess Joan’s residence at Kennington across the Thames. Placards were erected alleging Gaunt was a changeling and not the son of Queen Philippa. An ailing Edward III told London to build a celebratory pillar to Gaunt in Cheapside, honouring him, and hold an apologetic procession to St Paul’s, with all senior city officials replaced.
20/2/1398On 20th February 1398, John of Gaunt was at Pontefract Castle on his way north to treat for peace with the Scots, at the request of Richard II. John had not been in good health prior to this but had obviously improved and he may have left Katherine Swynford at Pontefract as it is unlikely he would have taken her to Scotland given the lawlessness of the Border regions. Richard II had been at odds with the Scots since the English invasion of 1385, which was, in part, a retaliation for a French army arriving in Scotland the previous summer. The invasion came to nothing and with dwindling crown funds, Richard was never in a position to mount a further campaign. Whilst Richard was away on a campaign in Ireland in 1399, he would be deposed by Henry Bolingbroke.
22/2/1392On 22nd February 1392, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, was made Lieutenant in the Parts of Picardy and also Chief Commissioner to France by Richard II.
23/2/1313After seizing many of Edward II’s valuable belongings (jewels, horses etc) in May 1312 in Newcastle when the king, Queen Isabella and Piers Gaveston had fled south to Scarborough, Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, returned them on 23rd February 1313. The jewels were taken from Sir Robert Clifford’s London house in the presence of the king and Lancaster, and delivered into the Tower, where they were received by Sandale, the acting treasurer.
23/2/1331On 23rd February 1331, Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster, brother of the executed’ traitor’ Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, arrived in Paris as one of the envoys (others being the Bishops of Worcester and Norwich and Hugh Audley and Henry Percy) sent by Edward III to negotiate with Philip VI of France to ‘treat of the mutual debts of the two kings…and of all matters in dispute’. A treaty was signed on 9th March. Strangely, Henry was never accredited in the records of these events.
24/2/1327On 24th February 1327, after Edward III had been deposed, Archbishop William Melton of York wrote to Pope John XXII asking that the reports of miracles wrought at Thomas, Earl of Lancaster’s tomb in Pontefract might be enquired into in order for his canonization.
24/2/1367On 24th February 1367, Thomas Swynford was born at Lincoln, the son of Hugh and Katherine Swynford. Thomas would be the primary gaoler at Pontefract, attributed by many chroniclers and historians as being instrumental in the starvation and ultimate death of Richard II at Pontefract Castle in February 1400.
24/2/1385On 24th February 1385, the ‘Westminster Chronicle’ recorded John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, arriving at Richard II’s country retreat of Sheen Palace and confronting the king, ordering him to dismiss his ‘evil councillors’ who had planned to murder Gaunt. Albeit Richard promised reform, Gaunt fearfully left for Hertford Castle, with Princess Joan, Richard’s mother, later visiting Gaunt to get him to come to court.
25/2/1308Curtana, sword of Edward the ConfessorOn 25th February 1308, Henry de Lacy, 3rd Earl of Lincoln and Lord of Pontefract, held aloft one of the Swords of State at the coronation of Edward II in Westminster Abbey. Thomas of Lancaster, the king's cousin, carried the ceremonial  'Curtana' (the Sword of Justice or Mercy) at the ceremony, which was reputed to be  the sword of Edward the Confessor. Controversially, Piers Gaveston carried the crown of St Edward the Confessor and at the post-coronation feast arrived dressed in purple, a colour reserved for the monarch only. Such was the discord within the royal court that The Chronicle of Lanercost records that on this date: ‘The people of the country and the leading men complained loudly at his coronation against the aforesaid Piers, and unanimously wished that he should be deprived of his earldom; but this the king obstinately refused. The murmurs increased from day to day, and engrossed the lips and ears of all men, nor was there one who had a good word either for the king or for Piers. The chief men agreed unanimously in strongly demanding that Piers should be sent back into exile, foremost among them being the noble Earl of Lincoln and the young Earl of Gloucester, whose sister, however, Piers had received in marriage by the king's gift.’    
27/2/1321On 27th February 1321, Edward II received a letter, warning him that Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, had met with nobles (including John Mowbray, prospective heir to Gower; Earl of Hereford; Roger Mortimer of Chirk; Roger Mortimer of Wigmore; Hugh Audley; Roger Damory; Roger Clifford; John Giffard; John Hastings of Abergavenny; Humphrey de Bohun; Maurice Berkeley senior and his sons Maurice Berkeley junior and Thomas Berkeley; his son-in-law John Maltravers and John Charlton, Edward’s former chamberlain) and that they had already formed a plan whereby they would bring disturbances to the Welsh Marches. Lancaster proved a willing ally and figurehead for the barons. He hated the influence at court of the Despensers and for some time there had been bad blood between him and Hugh senior: ‘for it was the wish of the earl of Lancaster that they should not only rise against the son, but destroy the father along with the son’.
27/2/1394Thomas Swynford, the son of Hugh and Katherine Swynford (third wife of John of Gaunt) and later gaoler of Richard II at Pontefract Castle, was required on this date to provide proof of age at Lincoln to be able to lay claim to his inheritance. The evidence would be provided sometime after 22nd June 1394 after which Thomas took possession of his manors, although he would be often absent in the service of the House of Lancaster. Thomas would become a key supporter of Henry Bolingbroke in his successful attempt to usurp Richard II.
28/2/1313By the end of February 1313, Thomas of Lancaster had finally agreed to return to King Edward II, the jewels - including a golden cup which was a gift from his mother, and four great rubies, an emerald and a huge diamond - which Piers Gaveston had been carrying when he was captured at Scarborough. But this did not stop the arguing between Edward and Lancaster, whilst the Scots continued to take advantage by raiding south as far as Yorkshire, but never, interestingly, threatening Lancaster’s castle at Pontefract,
28/2/1327Edward_III_of_England_(Order_of_the_Garter)Edward III wrote to the Pope (John XXII) on three occasions requesting Thomas of Lancaster's canonization, the first of which was on 28th February. Why he did this is unclear, especially as Lancaster was a man convicted of treason against his father. It could be he bowed to strong public feeling, given that he was only fifteen at the time of the first petition.
1/3/1307Only four months before Edward 1 died at Burgh-by-Sands in July 1307, he pardoned his nephew, Henry of Lancaster, brother to Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, who was to succeed to Thomas’s lands and titles some years after Thomas’s execution. The pardon related to Henry having helped a man called John Harper to escape from prison in Gloucestershire and afterwards receive him.
1/3/1322In early March 1322, Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and his remaining supporters held a council at Pontefract, where Lancaster was advised to retreat north to his castle at Dunstanburgh to evade capture by Edward II, in his rebellion against the king. Believing his royal status would secure him immunity from harm, it was only the 'ferocity' of Lord Clifford that persuaded Lancaster to flee to Northumberland. However, Edward's 4,000-strong second army moving up from the south, under the command of Sir Andrew Harclay, halted Thomas's forces at Boroughbridge (crossing the River Ure twenty miles north-east of York). Lancaster’s defeat and capture at the Battle of Boroughbridge resulted in his beheading and the drawing and hanging of six northern barons at Pontefract immediately. In addition to the northern barons, more than a dozen peers were killed or executed ( including Roger Clifford hanged in chains from the walls of York and possibly giving his name to Clifford's Tower) and many more knights were killed or died in prison with hundreds facing crippling fines.
1/3/1333During March 1333, Edward III was at Pontefract Castle preparing for his campaign in Scotland to avenge the Treaty of Northampton of 1328 which recognised Scotland’s independence after the humiliating defeat of the English by the Scots at the Battle of Stanhope Park in 1327. Despite an ‘English’ victory (by The Disinherited) at the Battle of Dupplin Moor in 1332, the situation in Scotland was complicated by the competing claims to the Scottish crown of David II and Edward Balliol who had been crowned at Scone in September 1332 but forced to flee to Carlisle three months later. It was at Pontefract that Edward ordered the building of two large siege engines to be shipped to Berwick along with gunpowder.
1/3/1353In early March 1353, Henry, Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, along with the ex- Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Norwich, Keeper of the Privy Seal and others crossed the Channel to begin negotiations at Guines, overseen by Cardinal Guy of Boulogne. Initial discussions, signed and sealed on 10th March 1353 and ratified as a treaty on 4th April 1354, revolved around Edward III being given sovereignty of Gascony in exchange for his dropping the title King of France. Further follow-up negotiations were proposed for mid-May but John II of France regarded Guy of Boulogne’s compromises as unacceptable and the so-called Hundred Years’ War resumed in earnest in 1355.
2/3/1389On 2nd March 1389, Richard II bestowed the Duchy of Aquitaine on John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, as an appanage for his lifetime, a sign of his new favour for him. As the duchy was now separated from the English Crown, some Gascons complained that this violated the 1254 agreement that the duchy be held by the English king or at least on his behalf by his direct heir i.e. his son. Richard’s aim was to reassure Parliament that the sovereignty of the English king would not be compromised by his having to do homage to the King of France for his French domains, as Gaunt would do so instead.
3/3/1316On 3rd March 1316, Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, was made Chief of the Royal Council (curia regis) because of Edward II’s waning power after his humiliating defeat at the Battle of Bannockburn two years earlier. Lancaster promised to re-instigate the Ordinances of 1311 but disagreements with other barons effectively paralysed government for the next two years.
6/3/1340On 6th March 1340, John of Gaunt, later to have his northern ‘powerhouse’ at Pontefract Castle, was born in Ghent, Flanders (now Belgium), the third surviving son of Edward III and Philippa of Hainault. Baptised at his birthplace, the Abbey of Saint Bavon, Gaunt was taken to England (Woodstock Palace, Oxfordshire) in November of that year along with his brother, Lionel, for fear of a French invasion of Flanders. Attended to by eleven servants, he even had his own cradle-rocker.
6/3/1351On 6th March 1351, Henry, 4th Earl of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, was made Duke of Lancaster by Edward III in honour of his achievements in Gascony.
8/3/1351On 8th March 1351, Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, was made Captain and Admiral of the West by Edward III.
10/3/1322In the bitter feuding between the king and some of his nobles, Edward II’s troops were able to cross the Trent at Walton on 10th March 1322 and advanced upon Burton from the south. Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, was outflanked and moved from his positions at the bridge to a field outside of Burton, firing the town as he went. Once he realised how badly outnumbered his men were, and that Sir Robert Holland was not moving to his aid, Lancaster decided to withdraw and was pursued by Edward’s forces. The Chronicle of Lanercost records that: ‘When, therefore, the whole strength of the king's party south of Trent was assembled at Burton-upon-Trent, some 60,000 fighting men, in the second week of Lent, about the feast of the Forty Martyr Saints, the Earl of Lancaster and the Earl of Hereford (who had married the king's sister) attacked them with barons, knights and other cavalry, and with foot archers ; but the earl's forces were soon thrown into confusion and retired before the king's army, taking their way towards Pontefract, where the earl usually dwelt. The king followed him with his army at a leisurely pace, but there was no slaughter to speak of on either side ; and although the earl would have awaited the king there and given him battle, yet on the advice of his people he retired, with his army into the northern district.’
10/3/1386On 10th March 1386, Thomas Elys and William de Baillay were appointed 'to take any masons lately at work upon the Duke of Lancaster's castle at Pontefract and make them remain thereon at the Duke's expense until the work shall be completed, with the power to imprison contrariants'.
10/3/1394On 10th March 1394, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, was appointed Lieutenant in Aquitaine by Richard II.
11/3/1322On 11th March 1322, Edward II’s forces took Thomas of Lancaster’s (lord of Pontefract) Tutbury Castle in the Peak District and captured his ally Roger d’Amory who was mortally wounded, dying a few days later after being reprieved from execution by the king. Reputedly, written evidence was found of Lancaster’s treason with the Scots.
12/3/1322On 12th March 1322, with Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, declared a traitor by Edward II and all his lands forfeited, he fled north. Queen Isabella is said to have written to Andrew Harclay, 1st Earl of Carlisle and Sheriff of Westmorland, to move quickly south from Carlisle to trap Lancaster.
13/3/1322In the short interval between the abandonment of Tutbury Castle by Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, and its occupation by Edward II and his forces, a large amount of money, jewellery and other goods was taken from the castle to the priory by some local inhabitants and deposited there with the connivance of the prior. This apparent conspiracy to defraud the king could not be kept secret and on 13th March 1322, three days before the Battle of Boroughbridge, an order was issued that all the jewels, goods and chattels of Earl Thomas and the other rebels, which were in the priory, were to be brought to the king. The following year, three officials of the late earl were charged with having conveyed £1,500 (£1.2 million in today’s money) from the castle to the priory.
13/3/1322On 13th March 1322, the Calendar of the Fine Rolls (Edward II) noted: ‘Appointment during pleasure of Simon de Driby to keep the castle of Pontefract, late of Thomas, earl of Lancaster, which ought to come to the king's hand by his forfeiture, together with the men and all goods and chattels found therein, when the castle shall have been taken into the king's hand by Edmund, earl of Kent, the king's brother, and John de Warenne, earl of Surrey, whom the king has appointed thereto ; so that he answer for the issues thereof and for the said goods and chattels in the chamber. Order to the said earls of Kent and Surrey, as soon as they have taken the said castle, to deliver the same with the said goods and chattels to the said Simon by indenture to be made thereon.’
13/3/1397In the early part of 1397, John of Gaunt arrayed for part of his inheritance to be held jointly with Katherine Swynford. With this settled, on the 13th March, John began his journey to Pontefract Castle.
14/3/1317Writs by Edward II to attend a meeting at Westminster on 11th April 1317 were sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas of Lancaster (lord of Pontefract) and various nobles and justices (including Hereford, Holland, Bereford, the Despensers, Inge, and le Scrope), on 14th March 1317. Lancaster failed to appear and the absence of other magnates at a previous meeting may have made it impossible to take any decisions. Edward ordered that two household knights were sent to Lancaster on 16th March 1317 to ‘persuade’ him. However, their work was in vain, for Lancaster did not appear (this was hardly surprising, since his wife had been abducted by John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, four days before the opening of the meeting), and as a result he was publicly declared an enemy of king and kingdom.
15/3/1361On 15th March 1361, Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster and nephew of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, wrote his will, appointing his eldest sister Blanche, Lady Wake, and cousin-in-law Eleanor Walkington as two of his ten executors.
15/3/1399On 15th March 1399, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, was interred ‘in the Cathedral Church of St Paul, of London, near the principal altar, beside my most dear late wife Blanch, who is there interred’ (from his will of 1397). His will had stipulated that his body be laid out for forty days – ten times the customary period – with ‘no cering or embalming’.
16/3/1322Battle_monument_BoroughbridgeThe Battle of Boroughbridge was fought on 16th March 1322. Thomas Earl of Lancaster with an army of approximately 1000 men met Andrew Harclay, Earl of Carlisle, at Boroughbridge on the River Ure. Outnumbered four-to-one, Lancaster quickly surrendered and was taken to Pontefract Castle. The photo is of a monument commemorating the Battle of Boroughbridge. The Chronicle of Lanercost records that: 'The Earl [of Lancaster's] cavalry, when they endeavoured to cross the water, could not enter it by reason of the number and density of arrows which the archers discharged upon them and their horses. This affair being thus quickly settled, the Earl of Lancaster and his people retired from the water, nor did they dare to approach it again, and so their whole array was thrown into disorder. Wherefore the earl sent messengers to Sir Andrew, requesting an armistice until the morning, when he would either give him battle or surrender to him. Andrew agreed to the earl's proposal ; nevertheless he kept his people at the bridge and the river all that day and throughout the night, so as to be ready for battle at any moment. But during that night the Earl of Hereford's men deserted and fled, because their lord had been killed, also many of the Earl of Lancaster's men and those of my Lord de Clifford and others deserted from them. When morning came, therefore, the Earl of Lancaster, my Lord de Clifford, my Lord de Mowbray and all who had remained with them, surrendered to Sir Andrew, who himself took them to York as captives, where they were confined in the castle to await there the pleasure of my lord the king.’
17/3/1397Katherine Swynford TombOn 17th March 1397, Katherine Swynford, third wife of John of Gaunt, arrived at Pontefract Castle having received a jointure to the estates of John of Gaunt that had been granted to him in 1372. The picture is Katherine's larger tomb, next to the tomb of her daughter, Joan Beaufort.
18/3/1346On 18th March 1346, Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, was made Inspector of Welsh Levies for the King’s Army by Edward III.
18/3/1399On 18th March 1399, (some sources say possibly the 20th March), whilst Henry Bolingbroke was exiled in France, his right to inherit and his possession of Pontefract Castle was annulled by Richard II. It was given to the Duke of Aumale, Normandy.
19/3/1322On 19th March 1322, Edward II arrived at Pontefract Castle following the capture of Thomas of Lancaster at Boroughbridge on the 16th. The constable of the castle immediately surrendered to Edward. The Chronicle of Lanercost records that: ‘The king, then, greatly delighted by the capture of these persons, sent for the earl to come to Pontefract, where he remained still in the castle of the same earl ; and there, in revenge for the death of Piers de Gaveston (whom the earl had caused to be beheaded), and at the instance of the earl's rivals (especially of Sir Hugh Despenser the Younger), without holding a parliament or taking the advice of the majority, caused sentence to be pronounced that he should be drawn, hanged and beheaded. But, forasmuch as he was the queen's uncle and son of the king's uncle, the first two penalties were commuted, so that he was neither drawn nor hanged, only beheaded in like manner as this same Earl Thomas had caused Piers de Gaveston to be beheaded.’
20/3/1300On 20th March 1300, almost four years after his death, Edmund of Lancaster, the king’s brother, was finally buried at Westminster Abbey. He had stipulated that his body should not be interred until all his debts had been paid. His sons Thomas (future lord of Pontefract), Henry (over a quarter of a century later to inherit his elder brother’s lands and titles) and John and widow, Blanche were in attendance. Edmund’s remains were taken from the convent of the Minoresses to the Abbey via St Paul’s Cathedral and he was buried north of the high altar with his first wife, Aveline Forz.
20/3/1336By 20th March (possibly on 20th February) 1336, Alice de Lacy of Pontefract, suo jure Countess of Lincoln and suo jure Countess of Salisbury and widow of Thomas of Lancaster, was forcibly married, for the third and last time, to Sir Hugh de Freyne, steward at Cardigan Castle. Alice had been seemingly happily married to Eble le Strange (a member of Thomas of Lancaster’s household), her second husband, for eleven years until his death on campaign in Scotland with Edward III in 1335. Her third marriage was reputedly forced under canon law due to her being raped by de Freyne, with punishment for the rapist being marriage to the victim. De Freyne died at Perth, on campaign in Scotland, in January/February 1337.
21/3/1396On 21st March 1396, Richard II visited Pontefract Castle on his itinerary to Tadcaster the following day.
22/3/1303On 22nd March 1303, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was made Joint Procurator and Special Ambassador to France by Edward I.
22/3/1322Thomas of Lancaster SealFollowing the defeat of Thomas Earl of Lancaster,  lord of Pontefract, and his supporters at the Battle of Boroughbridge on March 16th 1322, Thomas was tried and condemned in the Great Hall at Pontefract Castle. He was denied the opportunity to speak in his defence and was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. The sentence was commuted to beheading because Thomas was the king’s cousin and, it is rumoured, due to the intercession of Queen Isabella. He was taken on a mule  to St. Thomas’s Hill – as it has since been known – and executed on 22nd March 1322 in sight of his castle and whilst facing Scotland  (symbolic of his alleged treasonable correspondence with the Scots).  His was the first execution of a royal prince since the Norman Conquest. After his execution, the Monks of the Cluniac Priory of St John interred his body on the right hand side of their high altar. The Priory was situated on what is now Box Lane. The image is the seal of Thomas of Lancaster. Some thirty of Lancaster's followers were also executed, among these Clifford and the baron John Mowbray. Clifford was hung from Clifford’s Tower in York, which is now named after him. The Chronicle of Lanercost records the events and aftermath in a more ‘poetic’ fashion: ‘This man, then, said to be of most eminent birth and noblest of Christians, as well as the wealthiest earl in the world, inasmuch as he owned five earldoms, to wit, Lancaster, Lincoln, Salisbury, Leycester and Ferrers, was taken on the morrow of S. Benedict Abbot ' in Lent and beheaded like any thief or vilest rascal upon a certain hillock outside the town, where now, because of the miracles which it is said God works in his honour, there is a great concourse of pilgrims, and a chapel has been built.’
23/3/1322ThomasLancasterLedtoExecutionOn 23rd March 1322, after Thomas Earl of Lancaster was executed in March 1322 at Pontefract Castle, his widow Alice de Lacy was imprisoned in York Castle along with her stepmother. The Despensers, who were favourites of King Edward II, threatened both women with burning if they did not surrender their estates in exchange for empty honorific titles and a small cash pension.
23/3/1323On the 23rd March 1323, Edward II was at Pontefract and gave the following order: ‘To the justiciary of Ireland, or to him who supplies his place. Order to restore to Henry de Mortimer his lands and goods, notwithstanding the king’s late order to take his goods into his hands.’
23/3/1357On 23rd March 1357, (after the heavy defeat of the French at Poitiers six months before) and whilst Edward, the Black Prince, was agreeing a truce with France, Henry, Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, was besieging Rennes in Brittany. Already having been there for almost six months and having sworn an oath to place his standard on the town’s battlements, he reluctantly returned to England in July: he had entered Rennes alone and placed his banner on the battlements for a few minutes.
23/3/1361On 23rd March 1361, Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster died at Leicester Castle, possibly of the plague. Henry was the eventual heir of his executed uncle Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster, who had been married to Alice de Lacy, of Pontefract, daughter and heiress of Henry de Lacy, 3rd Earl of Lincoln. Henry’s dukedom was the first one created since the Norman Conquest, with the exception of the Black Prince in 1337.  Not only had he won several major battles, skirmishes and sieges, he had been chief negotiator in Edward's desire for peace since 1353. Literate and speaking English as well as French, his work 'The Book of Holy Medicines' recounted how his five senses had become infected with the Seven Deadly Sins. John of Gaunt, third surviving son of Edward III, received half of his father-in-law’s (the Duke of Lancaster) lands and the title ‘Earl of Lancaster’ on the duke’s death.
24/3/1344On 24th March 1344, Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster and later lord of Pontefract, was made Joint Lieutenant of Aquitaine by Edward III.
24/3/1375On 24th March 1375, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, arrived with his delegation at Bruges for papally-sponsored peace talks with France. The truce was extended for a year in June resulting in the English expedition in Brittany trying to secure the surrender of Quimperlé being stopped.
24/3/1394On 24th March 1394, Constance of Castile, the second wife of John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract,  died at Leicester Castle.
25/3/1322On the 25th March 1322, Edward II, who was then at Pontefract, directed the following writ’ to William de la Beche: ‘Edward by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland and Duke of Aquitaine, to his very dear and faithful William de la Beche, greeting. Whereas amongst other things which by our charter we gave and granted to our very dear and faithful cousin Edmund Earl of Arundel, to have under a certain form, we gave and granted to him the castle and manor of Doluoreyn and the lands of Kery and Kedewy, with the appurtenances, in the Marches of Wales, which were Roger de Mortimer’s, of Wyggemor, and which by the forfeiture of the same Roger came to our hands; to have in form aforesaid, as in our charter aforesaid more fully is contained. We command you that you deliver to the same Earl or to his attorney in that behalf the aforesaid castle, manor and lands, with the appurtenances, which are in your custody by our commission. To hold according to the tenor of our charter abovesaid. For we wish you to be exonerated thereof towards us from this time. Witness ourself at Pontefract, on the 25th day of March, in the 15th year of our reign [A.D. 1322].’
25/3/1342On 25th March 1342, Blanche of Lancaster was born at Bolingbroke Castle, Lincolnshire. She was the future wife of John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, whom she married on the 19th May 1359 at Reading Abbey.
25/3/1361On 25th March 1361, John of Gaunt, son-in-law of Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, was assigned temporary custody of all Henry’s lands in thirty-four of the thirty-nine English counties.
25/3/1367On 25th March 1367, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, rallied the Anglo-Gascon army at Vitoria, northern Spain, to repel the forces of Enrique of Trastamara (later King of Castile and León) and his brother Tello who had overrun the camp of Sir Hugh Calveley. The Black Prince’s forces together with those of Sir John Chandos came to the aid of Gaunt to assist in warding off Tello.
26/3/1322On 26th March 1322, Edward II was at Pontefract and gave the following order: ‘To Robert de Sapy, keeper of Pevenese castle, co. Sussex, and of the manor of Esthalesham in Holdernesse. Order to repair the said castle and the houses therein, the costs whereof the king will cause to be allowed to him in his account of the issues of the said manor. ‘
26/3/1323On 26th March 1323, Edward II was at Pontefract to witness the following: ‘The King has committed to Robert Lewer the custody of the manor of Hichille with appurtenances, in the county of Southampton, which belonged to John Giffard, his enemy and rebel, and which, by the forfeiture of the same, is in the King's hands. To be held as long as it shall please the King, so that he shall answer to the King, in the King's chamber, for the issues arising therefrom. In testimony whereof, etc. Witnessed by the King at Pontefract, on the 26th of March. By the King himself announced to Master Robert Baldock, And it was ordered, that the Sheriff of Southampton should deliver to the said Robert, the aforesaid manor with appurtenances, to be kept in the form aforesaid. Witnessed by the King as above.'
26/3/1386On Easter Day, 26th March 1386, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, with his wife Constance and three daughters (Philippa, Elizabeth and Catherine), said his goodbyes to Richard II and his Queen, Anne of Bohemia, to set out to claim Castile by right of his wife (jure uxoris). He would set sail from Plymouth with a fleet supplied by King Joao of Portugal.
29/3/1322On 29th March 1322, Edward II was at Pontefract and gave the following order: ‘To John de Kilvynton. Order not to intermeddle with the castle and lands in Pickering, co. York, although the king committed the custody thereof to him amongst other lands that belonged to Thomas, earl of Lancaster, and other rebels between the waters of Ouse, Teise, and Ned in the said county, as the king had previously committed the custody of the aforesaid castle and lands to Thomas de Ughtred.’
29/3/1324On 29th March 1324, two years after Thomas, Earl of Lancaster’s and lord of Pontefract, execution, Edward II granted the earldom of Leicester, but not Lancaster, to his brother, Henry, noting Thomas ‘having gone the way of all flesh without heir of his body’. The royal council formally agreed this on the 10th May with Henry receiving the lands of the earldom on 4th June.
30/3/1322On 30th March 1322, the Calendar of the Fine Rolls (Edward II) noted: ‘The like of Richard de Mosley, parson of the church of Friston, as receiver of the issues of the castle and honour of Pontefract and all castles and lands late of Thomas, late earl of Lancaster, and other the king’s enemies and rebels and others in the county of York on this side the water of Use. in the king’s hand, except the castle of Skipton in Craven, late of Roger de Clifford.’
31/3/1330On 31st March 1330, at Woodstock, the government of Edward III ordered the arrest of forty-one men allegedly involved in the Earl of Kent’s plot to rescue his half-brother, the supposedly dead King Edward II, from imprisonment in Corfe Castle and spirit him abroad. Of these forty-one, Kent had named only six, one being Brother Richard de Pontefract, reputedly an intermediary between, on two occasions, William Melton, Archbishop of York, and the Earl of Kent.
31/3/1360On 31st March 1360, whilst John of Gaunt, future lord of Pontefract, was marching on Paris, his wife Blanche gave birth to their first daughter, Philippa, named after the queen. Philippa was later to be Queen of Portugal by marriage to King John I, effectively extending Gaunt’s dynastic ambitions.
31/3/1371On 31st March 1371, in Hertford Castle, Constance, second wife of John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, gave birth to a girl, Catherine,  who was to become Queen Consort and later Regent of Castile by marriage to King Henry III of Castile. Although failing to secure his continued rule of Castile and Leon through his wife, Gaunt’s daughter’s marriage in some way realised his dynastic ambitions.
1/4/1370In April 1370, Edward III ordered John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, to take an army to Gascony to reinforce Prince Edward. He arrived in Gascony at the end of July and met up with his brother. Prince Edward was unfortunately very ill and after the successful siege of Limoges, Edward returned to Bordeaux and learned that his son and heir, Edward of Angouleme, had died. As Edward returned to England with his wife and remaining son, Richard of Bordeaux (later Richard II), Gaunt was left with the task of administering the remains of the principality and organising the funeral of Edward’s son.  
2/4/1387On 2nd April 1387, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, and King John of Portugal besieged Benevente de Campos but had to move on after a ‘friendly’ jousting match with the defenders as they had inadequate siege equipment. Gaunt’s army of around 1500 was a small part of the 9000 or so troops and Gaunt was relegated to a junior role.
3/4/1331On 3rd April 1331, Edward III wrote from Dover to Pope John XXII and fourteen cardinals requesting the canonisation of the executed Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract.
3/4/1367On 3rd April 1367 (some sources say 15th April, Maundy Thursday 1367 or even 1366), Henry of Bolingbroke (later Henry IV) was born to Blanche of Lancaster and John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire.
3/4/1367On 3rd April 1367, an Anglo-Gascon army in support of Pedro (The Cruel) King of Castile and León, led by the Black Prince and his brother, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, who led the vanguard alongside Sir John Chandos, beat the forces of Enrique of Trastamara at Nάjera. According to John of Malvern, 3,000 of the enemy were captured and more than 7,000 killed, in battle or flight, with many drowning in the river; English casualties were slight and Enrique escaped and was sheltered by Louis, Duke of Anjou, brother of the French king, Charles V.  Albeit Enrique’s warhorse was given to Edward III as a gift, it was poor recompense for failing to kill or capture Enrique. The Black Prince had stated to John of Gaunt before the battle: ‘We must be mindful of our martial heritage and that prowess stands above all other things in life….Let us be ruled by an ardent spirit. If we are to die, let our manner of dying do us credit.’
3/4/1381On 3rd April 1381, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, dined the Duke of Teschen and King Wenceslas’ envoys at his Savoy Palace in London to celebrate the impending marriage of Richard II (who died at Pontefract Castle nineteen years later) to Anne of Bohemia.
3/4/1384On 3rd April 1384, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, and his brothers, Thomas, Earl of Buckingham, and Edmund, Earl of Cambridge, wove their way to Edinburgh with 4,000 men to deal with a Scottish incursion by the Earls of Douglas and March who had taken Lochmaben Castle in Annandale. Unable to meet the withdrawing Scots in open battle, the campaign was abandoned and Gaunt retreated to Durham by the 23rd of the month.
4/4/1331On 4th April 1331, Edward III departed England to meet Philip VI of France at Pont-Sainte-Maxence. The king was disguised as a merchant and his small retinue included Henry of Grosmont, nephew of the executed Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract.
6/4/1327On 6th April 1327, most of the executed Thomas, Earl of Lancaster’s and lord of Pontefract lands were given to his brother, Henry, minus Pontefract, which was in the possession of the Dowager Queen Isabella, his niece. Henry was appointed guardian and head of the regency council which would rule during the minority of his fourteen-years-old great-nephew, Edward III. Henry, however, was ‘deposed’ from this role by Sir Roger Mortimer and lover, Isabella.  
9/4/1322On 9th April 1322, Edward II was at Pontefract and made the following request: ‘To William Melton, Archbishop of York. Request that he will help the king with an honourable and suitable aid, so that the king’s majesty may be honoured beyond the estate that Thomas, late earl of Lancaster, lately held, when the archbishop had treaty with him and granted him 2,000 marks (£1.045 million in today’s money) from himself and his clergy for the defence of his church and the people of the marches of Scotland against the invasion of the Scots.’
10/4/1308deLacy ArmsWhen a parliament met in April 1308, a group of magnates led by Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln and lord of Pontefract, produced a series of three articles of shattering constitutional importance. 'Homage and the oath of allegiance are more in respect of the crown than in respect of the King's person' they declared; drawing, for the first time, an explicit distinction between the king and the office he held.
10/4/1362On 10th April 1362, Maud of Lancaster, Countess of Hainault, elder daughter of the late Henry, 1st Duke of Lancaster, died. All Maud’s (who had no issue) lands (including Pontefract) and money passed to her younger sister, Blanche, and thereby to her husband, John of Gaunt who received the title ‘Duke of Lancaster’ on 13th November that year. This meant that John now had a greater income and inheritance (the Lancastrian inheritance was worth around £12,000 a year or about £9.1 million today) than his elder brother Lionel. Soon after inheriting the duchy, rumours circulated that he had poisoned his sister-in-law although it is much more likely she was killed by the bubonic plague or an infection.
14/4/1361On 14th April 1361, the Black Prince attended Henry of Grosmont’s, lord of Pontefract, funeral at the Newarke (Leicester) and placed two pieces of golden cloth on the bier.
21/4/1317Royal envoys visited Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, at Donington between 21st April and 2nd May 1317, and again between 29th May and 12th June 1317. It may have been the latter embassy which delivered a writ of summons to the Earl to be at Newcastle on 8th July 1317 for a new campaign; was this summons intended as a final test of the Earl’s loyalty?
23/4/1344On 23rd April 1344,  according to The Complete Peerage, under 'the Founders of the Order of the Garter'  the Order was first instituted (other dates from 1344 to 1351 have been proposed). Henry of Grosmont, first Duke of Lancaster, who was the nephew of Thomas 2nd Earl of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, was the second inductee to this order. After Thomas' execution in 1322, the Honour of Pontefract was eventually restored to Thomas's brother Henry, the father of Henry Grosmont.
23/4/1358On St. George’s Day 1358, a great tournament was held at Windsor in celebration of the English victory at Poitiers and capture of the French king. Unfortunately for Henry, Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, he was severely wounded whilst jousting with a knight.
23/4/1361In April 1361 (probably St George’s Day the 23rd), John of Gaunt, not long after the death of his father-in-law, Henry, 1st Duke of Lancaster (lord of Pontefract) and soon to receive this title from Edward III, was fast-tracked into the Order of the Garter.
23/4/1377On 23rd April 1377, Edward III nominated the heirs to the kingdom for the Order of the Garter: his grandsons Richard of Bordeaux (later Richard II) and Henry of Bolingbroke (later Henry IV and son and heir of John of Gaunt who had made Pontefract Castle his personal residence). In addition, Edward also knighted his youngest son, Thomas of Woodstock and the young heirs to the earldoms of Oxford, Salisbury, and Stafford and the heirs to the baronies of Mowbray, Beaumont and Percy concluding with knighting his own illegitimate son, John Southeray (by Edward’s mistress Alice Perrers).
28/4/1308On 28th April 1308, the nobility met with Edward II at the convening of parliament. The feeling amongst the lords of the realm had been growing, for a while, that Edward II could not meet and govern the needs of his kingdom. Earlier in the month, the earls had met at Henry de Lacy’s castle at Pontefract to discuss their next steps. The only real supporter, of influence, for Edward in the country was Thomas of Lancaster. The earls met to draw up a document that was presented to Edward at the parliament of 28th April. Henry de Lacy - who was now 58 and had been the right-hand man of Edward I - was a moderating force on the final document that emerged. However, on this date, Henry would confront the king on behalf of the peers stating ‘Homage and oath of allegiance are more in respect of the crown than in respect of the kings’s person’. If the king could not be guided by reason, then his subjects had a duty to act to ‘re-instate the king in the dignity of the crown’; by force if necessary.
28/4/1376On 28th April 1376, the Good Parliament opened in the King’s Chamber at Westminster Palace; Parliament not having sat for three years, its longest adjournment since the turn of the century. Edward III was unpopular and desperate for funds and with his heir, the Black Prince, too ill to continue attending (he died six weeks later on the 8th June), John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, was made his representative. This Parliament was notable for electing the first ever Speaker of the House of Commons, Peter de la Mare, a Hertfordshire knight and a steward of the Earl of March.
1/5/1315On 1st May 1315, the Constable of Barnard Castle was ordered to allow Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, and his men, who were going north on the king’s business, to use the castle whenever they liked and on 8th June his envoys, on their way north on Scottish affairs, were given safe-conducts.
1/5/1360On 1st May 1360, after advice from Henry, Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, negotiations with the French to seek a permanent peace took place at Bretigny. Edward III agreed in principle to relinquish his claim on the French throne in return for sovereignty of all the territories he had inherited as a vassal and those gained by conquest. Henry (according to Froissart) cautioned Edward: ‘You can press on with your struggle and pass the rest of your life fighting or you can make terms with your enemy and end the war now with honour’. Further, and dubiously attributable remarks by Henry warned: ‘’we might lose in a single day all that we have gained in twenty years’.
2/5/1381On 2nd May 1381, the treaty for the impending marriage of Richard II (who died at Pontefract Castle nineteen years later) to Anne of Bohemia was signed. The treaty also confirmed an Anglo-Imperial alliance in favour of Pope Urban VI against rival Pope Clement VII.
3/5/1347On 3rd May 1347, Henry of Grosmont, nephew of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, and now himself Earl of Lancaster, Leicester and Derby and Steward of England, contracted a future marriage between his younger daughter, Blanche of Lancaster and John Segrave, son and heir of Lord Segrave and Edward I’s granddaughter Margaret, Countess of Norfolk. Unfortunately, the marriage never transpired as John Segrave died as a child.
4/5/1302On 4th May 1302 (some sources say the 2nd), Thomas of Lancaster’s (future lord of Pontefract) mother, Blanche of Artois died and was buried at the Church of the Cordeliers, Paris, with her sons in attendance. Some time later, Thomas employed a chaplain to celebrate divine service for his parents’ souls with daily Masses and yearly anniversaries performed in various churches.
4/5/1312On 4th May 1312,  Thomas, Earl of Lancaster,  lord of Pontefract, came close to capturing Piers Gaveston and King Edward II at Tynemouth Priory. The two men escaped, however, in a small boat and sailed down the coast to Scarborough.
6/5/1323On 6th May 1323, Henry of Lancaster, brother of the executed’ traitor’ Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, instructed his attorneys Sir Thomas Blount and Sir Richard Rivers to petition Edward II for the restoration to him of the earldoms of Lancaster and Leicester, albeit not the earldom of Derby.
6/5/1389In May 1389, Richard II, then twenty-two, later to be Pontefract Castle’s most famous prisoner, declared himself of age, thereby able to rule in his own right.
8/5/1360On 8th May 1360, a treaty was agreed between England and France at Brétigny, near Chartres after negotiations between Henry of Grosmont, lord of Pontefract, and French ambassadors. Its terms were modelled on an earlier agreement between Edward III and King John II at London in May 1358 with Edward renouncing his claim to the crown of France and former Plantagenet possessions of Anjou, Maine, Touraine and Normandy. In return, Edward would hold Aquitaine, Ponthieu, Calais and Guînes ‘in all freedom and perpetual liberty, as sovereign lord and liege and neighbour to the king and realm of France, without recognising the king or crown of France as sovereign over him, nor paying him homage, showing obedience or being in subjection to him.’ King John’s ransom was reduced to 3 million gold crowns (nearly £360 million in today’s money).
9/5/1308The formal grant of the Lord High Stewardship of England to Thomas of Lancaster, later lord of Pontefract, and his heirs was given on 9th May 1308. It is an important indication of Lancaster’s position at this time, of his influence with Edward II, and perhaps of the king’s feckless generosity, that he was able to obtain for himself an honour which Edward I had been unwilling to grant even to his own brother, Edmund, 1st Earl of Lancaster and Thomas’ father.
9/5/1384Probably on 9th May 1384, a Carmelite friar, John Latimer, warned Richard II that his uncle, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, was plotting to kill him. Gaunt, summoned to a public meeting to answer the accusation, stated to Richard: ‘Oh why, my Lord, do you trust such informers? Am I not your uncle? Am I not your protector? Am I not the chief man in the realm after you? What could influence me to betray or even kill you, when I would gain nothing from your death?’ Latimer was imprisoned at Salisbury Castle and then tortured to death before his corpse was dragged through Salisbury on a hurdle, before burial.
11/5/1392On 11th May 1392, John of Gaunt’s, lord of Pontefract, party arrived at Calais en route to Gaunt meeting Charles VI of France at Amiens. Negotiations surrounded the Duchy of Aquitaine with agreement that it should contain Agenais, Perigord, Quercy and Rouerge, and Angouleme which had all been re-conquered by Charles V. The French were to retain Poitou and the Limousin. Gaunt would hold the territories as a hereditary appanage (perquisite) with direct homage by him as duke to the King of France thereby obviating the King of England having to perform ‘liege homage’ to another sovereign and so diminishing his authority.
12/5/1393At the beginning of May 1393, John of Gaunt invited Thomas Swynford to become one of his chamber knights. On the 12th May, this role was recognised by Richard II who agreed to grant Thomas and his wife, Jane Crophill, an annuity of 100 marks (over £15,000 in today’s money). It is ironic that Thomas would become the gaoler at Pontefract Castle who would be directly attributed with the starvation and murder of Richard II at Pontefract Castle. Thomas would also serve as the constable of the castle.
16/5/1300In May 1300, Edward I, on passing through Pontefract, gave St Richard’s Dominican Friary 20s (nearly £1150 in today’s money) as a gift.
16/5/1386On 16th May 1386, an Anglo-Portuguese treaty of military and naval alliance was ratified at Westminster. Portugal was to provide John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, with a squadron of galleys for the invasion of Castile. Due to difficulties in hiring other ships, Gaunt’s departure was delayed and he did not sail from Plymouth until the 9th July that year.
19/5/1359Marriage_of_Blanche_of_Lancaster_and_John_of_Gaunt_1359On 19th May 1359 (some sources say the 20th), eighteen-years-old John of Gaunt married thirteen-years-old Blanche of Lancaster, leading to his inheriting various titles: including Earl of Lancaster, Earl of Derby, Lincoln and Leicester. Not all of these titles were inherited at the time of the marriage; some were received on the death of Blanche's older sister Maude in 1362. Edward III gave lavish presents to Blanche totalling almost £400 (£199,165 in today's money) including a large brooch with an eagle and huge diamond in its breast, garnished with rubies, diamonds and pearls; this alone valued at £120 (nearly £60,000 today). Shortly before Gaunt’s marriage, he had an affair with a Flemish woman, Marie de Sainte-Hilaire, one of the queen’s ladies. Marie gave birth to a girl, called Blanche in 1359 and Gaunt acknowledged her throughout his life arranging a good marriage to Thomas Morieux, Constable of the Tower of London, around her twenty-first birthday.
20/5/1381On 20th May 1381, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, was made Lieutenant and Vicar-General in the Marches towards Scotland, by Richard II.
21/5/1327On 21st May 1327, Letters Patent were issued at Pontefract by Edward III regarding William, Abbot of Grestein (Normandy) who, living overseas, nominated Richard de Milleward and William Conreye his attorneys for three years.
24/5/1315On 24th May 1315, in the chapter house of Pontefract Priory, at Thomas of Lancaster’s (lord of Pontefract) mandate and in his presence, fifteen northern lords assembled: Thomas de Multon, Thomas Furnival, Edmund Deyncourt, Henry Fitzhugh, Ralph de Greystoke, Gilbert de Atton, Marmaduke de Twenge, Nicholas de Menill, Henry Percy, John Marmion, Philip Darcy, William Fitzwilliam, John de Fauconberg, John Deyncourt, and Robert Constable of Flamborough. Most of these men were Yorkshire barons: Furnival’s lands lay around Sheffield; Twenge, Menill, and Marmion had extensive holdings in Cleveland; and most of Percy’s estates were in the North Riding. Of those who held little land in Yorkshire, only Multon, whose estates were mainly in Cumberland and Westmorland, could be considered entirely outside the range of Lancaster’s territorial influence. Unfortunately for Lancaster, this was not a body which the earl could bend to his will. Those present agreed that the current disturbances threatened the peace of the land and the well-being of the king and kingdom, and to counter this they came together in a league for their mutual defence, so that if any man rose against the earl or any other, the rest would come to his aid. This agreement was set down in writing and confirmed by seal, but because it was thought necessary to obtain the advice of a greater number, and especially of the prelates, Lancaster wrote to the Archbishop of York and summoned him and the other prelates to Sherburn-in-Elmet, one of the Archbishop’s own manors, a few miles north of Pontefract, on 28th June.
24/5/1321Hugh le DespenserOn 24th May 1321, at Pontefract Castle, Thomas Earl of Lancaster held the first of two meetings to gather support of  barons and clergy to remove the Despensers from power. The Despensers had become royal favourites of Edward II and had undue influence on the king. A second meeting happened at Sherburn-in Elmet on 28th June. The picture above is of Hugh le Despenser the Younger from the Founders' and benefactors' book“ of Tewkesbury Abbey, early 16th century.
24/5/1328On 24th May 1328, Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster, brother of the executed Thomas of Lancaster, and now restored to the earldom and control of Pontefract Castle, hosted Edward III at Warwick Castle to discuss plans to attack France.
24/5/1343On 24th May 1343, Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster and later lord of Pontefract, was made Chief Ambassador to Pope Clement VI by Edward III.
27/5/1311The immediate product of Thomas of Lancaster’s de Lacy inheritance (including Pontefract) in February 1311, was a worsening of his relations with the king. The Lanercost chronicler tells how he came north to do homage for his new earldoms, but refused to leave the kingdom to meet Edward II, while Edward similarly refused to come to him over the Tweed. Civil war was feared, for Lancaster threatened to return with a hundred knights and enter his new lands by force. Eventually, however, the king gave way, crossed the Tweed and came to the earl near Berwick, where an apparently amicable meeting took place; though Lancaster still refused to greet Gaveston, who accompanied the king. The Chronicle of Lanercost records that on 27th May 1311 Edward II ordered the escheators (legal officers dealing with a deceased’s property) to deliver the bulk of the former de Lacy lands to Lancaster and his wife, ‘Thomas having done fealty and the king having respited his homage . . . until he be lawfully warned to do the same’. Lancaster did not perform homage until 26th August.
27/5/1359From the 27th to the 29th May 1359, the ‘Rogation Days’, Edward III and his older sons – Edward, Lionel and John of Gaunt, future lord of Pontefract, - appeared in disguise at the royal tournament at Smithfield, London.
27/5/1384On 27th May 1384, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, led a second round of Anglo-French talks in Flanders but could only secure a year’s truce not a treaty. The April Parliament that year had agreed to the idea of doing homage to Charles VI of France by oath for Aquitaine but not Calais, with some historians suggesting a Ricardian/Gaunt plan to hand over Aquitaine to Gaunt as a hereditary appanage so he, not Richard II, would do homage for it. Despite French envoys encouraging the Scots to enter into their truce with England, Archibald Douglas raided Northumberland the following month.
1/6/1300On 1st June 1300, at Brotherton, four miles from Pontefract, Edward II’s half-brother, Thomas of Brotherton, Earl of Norfolk and Earl Marshall of England was born. Thomas was the elder of Edward I’s two sons to his second wife, Marguerite of France. Thomas’ heir, Margaret was the first English woman to be made a duchess in her own right in 1397 and Edward I’s last surviving grandchild. Thomas’ granddaughter, Elizabeth Mowbray, nee Segrave, was an ancestor of the later Mowbray Dukes of Norfolk and their successors the Howards, thereby having two of Henry VIII’s wives, Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard in her lineage.
1/6/1310After his wife, Margaret Longespee, died in 1309, Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln and lord of Pontefract, married his second wife, Joan Martin, by June 1310. Joan was at least forty years younger than her husband and a decade younger than her step-daughter, Alice de Lacy. This marriage produced no children, especially a son, meaning that Alice and Thomas (Alice’s husband) would receive the entire de Lacy inheritance on Henry’s death the following year. Joan did have two children with her second husband, Nicholas Audley.
1/6/1319In June 1319, Edward II mustered his army at Newcastle to attempt to retake the great walled  city of Berwick and it’s castle which had fallen to the Scots in April of that year. This was an improbable gathering of earls, including Thomas of Lancaster , owner of Pontefract castle, and John de Warenne , 7th Earl of Surrey and owner of Sandal castle who had finally settled their private war at great cost to Surrey. He had had  to hand over valuable lands to his enemy including Sandal and Conisbrough castles, which remained in Lancaster’s hands until his execution for treason in 1322.
1/6/1321In early June 1321, the Marcher Lords (or ’Contrariants’), the Earls of March and Hereford, met the Earl of Lancaster at Pontefract prior to swearing an alliance at Sherburn-in-Elmet to remove the Despensers (Hugh the Elder and Younger) from Edward II’s court.
1/6/1345In June 1345, Edward III wrote to Maria of Portugal, Queen of Castile, proposing a marriage between his son, John of Gaunt, later lord of Pontefract, and her younger sister Leonor, twelve years older than Gaunt. Leonor was later suggested as a bride for Gaunt’s eldest brother, Edward of Woodstock but all preparations came to nought when Leonor married the King of Aragon.
1/6/1347On 1st June 1347, Henry of Grosmont, nephew of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, and now himself Earl of Lancaster, Leicester and Derby and Steward of England, was acknowledged as Lord of Bergerac, a title he used for the rest of his life.
2/6/1323In June 1323, Edward II sent a letter from York to the Bishop of London forbidding any assembly of people venerating Thomas of Lancaster, executed for treason at Pontefract the previous year. Many people were seeking the canonization of Thomas as a martyr and miracle-worker, with prohibitions already having been made against admittance to his tomb at the church of the Cluniac Priory in Pontefract and hill upon which he had been executed.
4/6/1394On 4th June 1394, Mary de Bohun, the first wife of the future Henry IV died at Peterborough Castle. Mary would never be queen, as she died before her husband usurped the throne from Richard II, whom he subsequently had killed at Pontefract Castle.  Aged only about twenty-five, she had already had five sons (four surviving) and two daughters and died during her younger daughter Philippa's birth. The marriage was probably the youngest royal marriage to produce children of the period, with the eldest son being born when the parents were probably fourteen or fifteen.
5/6/1319On 5th June 1319, Edward II confirmed their mutual grandmother, Eleanor of Provence’s grant of her rights in 1286 in the county of Provence to Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, and his brother Henry, who was to succeed to Thomas’s lands and titles some years after Thomas’s execution three years later.
5/6/1327On 5th June 1327, the young king Edward III or his mother, Queen Isabella, ordered a chapel to be built on the hill where Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, had been beheaded.
6/6/1372On or around 6th June 1372, Constance (Constanza), Duchess of Lancaster, wife of John of Gaunt, 2nd Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, gave birth at Hertford Castle to a daughter, Catalina aided by Ilote ‘the wise woman….the midwife of Leicester’ who had also attended Gaunt’s first wife, Blanche of Lancaster. Constance sent Katherine Swynford to Edward III to give him news of the birth for which she was rewarded twenty marks (£9,100 today). Gaunt, himself, confirmed an annual grant of twenty marks to Swynford on 15th May 1372 ‘for the good and pleasant service which she gives and has given’ to his wife ‘and for the very great affection which our said consort has towards the said Katherine’
7/6/1300On 7th June 1300, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was with Edward I at Pontefract Castle in preparation for the king’s Scottish campaign. This was Edward’s second attempt to rally forces, having abandoned plans six months earlier at Berwick on Tweed due to lack of infantry. Edward’s army of ten thousand infantry and two thousand cavalry marched into Scotland in early July 1300. The royal army,  including eighty-seven English barons and several knights of Brittany and Lorraine, had de Lacy in charge of one cavalry unit with the Earl of Surrey, John de St John and the king commanding the others. The ensuing siege of Caerlaverock Castle, albeit ultimately successful by Edward after several attempts, had been reputedly thwarted by only sixty Scots. A papal bull, arriving by the end of August, condemning Edward’s actions in Scotland forced an English withdrawal.  
7/6/1327Tomb of Hugh Despenser the YoungerSome time after Hugh Despenser the Younger's execution (a court favourite of Edward II, but loathed by Edward's wife Queen Isabella) at Hereford on 24th November 1326, Edward II was taken to Kenilworth Castle, arriving there on the 5th December 1326. Edward was then moved to Berkeley Castle and  in June 1327 a gang, led by a Dominican friar and a papal chaplain called Thomas Dunheved, launched a 'rescuing' assault on Berkeley Castle. Whether Edward was freed or not (it's debatable), he was captured shortly afterwards. The gang scattered and Thomas Dunheved was captured eighteen miles from his family home in Dunchurch, Warwickshire and sent to prison in Pontefract Castle, where he died.
7/6/1394On 7th June 1394, Queen Anne of Bohemia, the first wife of Richard II (who would be imprisoned at Pontefract Castle), and eldest daughter of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia, died at Sheen Priory in Sheen, now Richmond, London.
8/6/1336On 8th June 1336, Edward III, arrived at Pontefract on his way north preparing for another attack on Scotland. From mid-June onwards, Edward ravaged the east coast of Scotland (destroying towns, taking food supplies, slaughtering cattle, burning cornfields) to prevent any invasion by French forces under Philip VI in support of Scotland.
9/6/1398Henry BolingbrokeOn 9th June 1398, John of Gaunt and his family were staying at Pontefract Castle until 14th July of the same year. Their stay at the castle was overshadowed by the threat of the impending duel between his son Henry Bolingbroke and  Thomas de Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk. The picture is from a miniature of Henry Bolingbroke, circa 1402
11/6/1381On 11th June 1381, Richard II and his court moved to the safety of the Tower of London after a body of Kent rebels sought to destroy ‘traitors’ surrounding the king. John of Gaunt’s, lord of Pontefract, son, Henry of Bolingbroke (later Henry IV) was amongst the besieged nobles. Gaunt, meanwhile, was in NE England for negotiations with the Scots at Berwick.
12/6/1381On 12th June 1381, from Blackheath in London, the rebel leaders of the Peasants’ Revolt sent a petition to Richard II demanding the heads of men they considered traitors. John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract Castle, was at the top of the list.
13/6/1356On 13th June 1356, Henry, Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, commanded a small army of 800 archers and 500 men-at-arms which arrived in Normandy pursuing Edward III’s aim of forcing the French to accept the Treaty of Guines of 1354. Henry met up with Sir Robert Knolles’ 500 archers from Brittany and a small force under Philip of Navarre and Godfrey de Harcourt. After destroying Verneuil on 5th-6th July and with no advance from John II’s French army, Lancaster retreated into Normandy. These ‘manoeuvres’ prefaced the Black Prince’s crushing victory at the Battle of Poitiers on 19th September 1356 where France’s King John and his youngest son were captured.
13/6/1381Around four o’clock on 13th June 1381, rebels stormed John of Gaunt’s, lord of Pontefract, Savoy Palace in London, destroying cloth, clothes, beds, books, napery, silverware and jewels. A mock puppet dressed as Gaunt was impaled, ‘arrowed’ and hacked and a fire was started in the great hall whilst a drunken rampage ensued in his wine cellars. Unfortunately, many revellers were trapped as the Savoy Palace was burnt to the ground.
18/6/1381On 18th June 1381 (some sources say the 19th), news reached John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract Castle, at Berwick that his Savoy Palace in London had been destroyed by rioters during the Peasants’ Revolt. Rumours were to circulate that Gaunt’s southern castles, including Leicester, were in ruins and that two groups of rebels, both 10,000 strong, were searching for him. That same day, Gaunt agreed a renewal of the truce with the Scots until February 1383.
19/6/1312On 19th June 1312, Piers Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall, Lieutenant of Scotland and court favourite of Edward II, was executed on the road to Kenilworth on the Earl of Lancaster’s lands after a meeting of barons at Warwick Castle. His ‘jurors’ included the Earls of Warwick, Lancaster, Hereford and Arundel. Gaveston had been besieged and captured by the Earls of Pembroke, and Surrey and Baron Henry de Percy a month before at Scarborough. The Earl of Lancaster’s advice to his fellow rebels ‘While he lives there will be no safe place in the realm of England’ was the harbinger of Gaveston’s death.
21/6/1317The terms on which Thomas, Earl of Lancaster’s (lord of Pontefract) retainers served him are set out by four extant indentures, which differ little from the normal type of written contract which bound a man to his lord during this period. One indenture is that sealed with Sir William Latimer, a Yorkshire banneret, on 15th May 1319; others are with Sir Hugh Meynill of Derbyshire (24th July 1317), Sir John Eure of Northumberland (29th December 1317) and Sir Adam de Swillington, another Yorkshireman (21st June 1317). All four instruments specified that service was to be for life, in peace and war, in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales and against all men save the king (this last clause was invoked by at least two of the Earl’s knights to excuse their desertion of him under the stress of events of 1320-1322).
22/6/1307A papal letter by Pope Clement V, dated 22nd June 1307, authorised the Archbishop of York to give a commission to William de Pykeringe, archdeacon of Nottingham and canon of York, to reconcile the churchyard of Pontefract, which had been polluted by bloodshed.
23/6/1314On 23rd June 1314,  Thomas Earl of Lancaster,  although not taking part in the Battle of Bannockburn, assembled a private army at Pontefract believing that if Edward II was successful he would next attack Thomas. When Edward II retreated to York after the battle, Thomas confronted Edward and was able to exact a pardon for himself and a hundred others for breaches of the peace.
23/6/1381On 23rd June 1381, from Edinburgh, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract Castle, summoned his wife, Duchess Constance, to travel north to meet him, nervous about the encroaching rioting in the south of England. Gaunt had sent out orders on the 17th indicating he was moving his household north from Leicester to Pontefract. Constance was to reach Knaresborough Castle by the 29th June having been barred from Pontefract Castle by its Constable en route because of his fear of the wrath of the rebels.
24/6/1300On 24th June 1300, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was with the royal army when it assembled in Carlisle for the invasion of Scotland. His scutage (tax in lieu of military service) in respect of the knights’ fees for Widnes, Tottington, Penwortham, Blackburnshire (Blackburn and Whalley) and Bowland entered in the Compotus Rolls (royal accounts) amounted to £25 8s (£30,000 in today’s money).
26/6/1322On 26th June 1322, Alice de Lacy, suo jure Countess of Lincoln and suo jure Countess of Salisbury, surrendered a large part of her estates to the Crown after the execution of her husband, Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, on 22nd March that year. Alice had been imprisoned at York with her stepmother, Joan Martin, soon after the death of Thomas. Many of Alice’s estates were given by Edward II to his court favourites, Hugh Despenser and his son, Hugh Despenser the Younger. Edward II had made the following declaration from York, on that day, regarding the above: ‘Enrolment of grant by the said Alesia (late the wife of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, daughter and heiress of Henry de Lascy (sic), late Earl of Lincoln) to the king that all the manors, towns, etc., knights' fees, advowsons, etc., pertaining to the castle, town, and honour of Pontefract, and all other castles, manors, etc., in the county of York, that Joan, late the wife of Henry de Lacy, earl of Lincoln, Alesia's father, and others hold in dower or otherwise for life or for terms of years, which ought to revert to Alesia, shall revert to the king after the death of Joan and the others.’
1/7/1300On 1st July 1300, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was made Commander of the 1st Division of the King’s Army by Edward I on his Scottish campaign. This position had been similarly conferred on Henry in June 1298.
1/7/1345On 1st July 1345, Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster, brother of the executed’ traitor’ Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, was appointed a member of the advisory council to aid the Keeper of the Realm whilst Edward III went abroad. At this time, he was also appointed as an adviser to Edward III’s six-years-old son Lionel of Antwerp, his grandson-in-law and great-great-nephew.
1/7/1370On 1st July 1370, the Black Prince in discussions with John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, and Edward III rejected a policy of punishment towards French towns that had gone over to Charles V of France and now wanted to return to English allegiance. This decision also gave his brother, Gaunt, overall authority in the conduct of military operations but any decision on the fate of Limoges’ citizens would have to be agreed by both men.
4/7/1318On 4th July 1318, the Earl of Pembroke, Hugh Despenser the Younger, 1st Baron Badlesmere, the Archbishop of Dublin, and the Bishops of Ely and Norwich went from the court’s HQ at Northampton to meet Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract. They agreed to a cancellation of royal grants that had breached the Ordinances of 1311 and that Roger d’Amory, Hugh d’Audley (Despenser’s wife’s sisters’ husbands) and Baron William Montague should only be allowed at court when summoned for military service.
4/7/1399On 4th July 1399, Henry Bolingbroke landed at Ravenspur, Humberside from France with a small band of exiles attempting to overthrow King Richard II
6/7/1310On 6th July 1310, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was made Steward of the Manor of Deeping in Lincolnshire.
6/7/1388On 6th July 1388, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, ratified the Treaty of Bayonne (Trancoso) renouncing his rights to the throne of Castile. The marriage of the heirs of both John I of Castile and Gaunt was agreed to with both created as ‘Prince and Princess of the Asturias’ and succeeding John I. All the sons of Pedro I still in prison were to be released and those in exile allowed to return to Castile. There was also an obligation for the King of Castile to pay compensation to Gaunt of 600,000 gold francs.
7/7/1307On 7th July 1307, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was present at the deathbed of Edward I at Burgh-by-Sands, six miles northwest of Carlisle, on the king’s journey to Scotland. He was one of only three people to whom letters were written by the royal household concerning Edward’s death; the others being Queen Eleanor and Edward, Prince of Wales.  
9/7/1398On 9th July 1398, Henry Bolingbroke was at Pontefract Castle with his father, John of Gaunt, on his travels around the country. He had been ordered by Richard II to settle a dispute with Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk and ex-Earl Marshal, concerning ‘slanderous’ allegations of murder Henry had made against Mowbray. The settlement would be by way of a duel at Coventry in the autumn.
11/7/1372On 11th July 1372, Edward III’s fourth surviving son, Edmund of Langley, married his elder brother John of Gaunt’s (lord of Pontefract) wife’s younger sister, Isabella of Castile. She was the daughter of the late King Peter of Castile meaning that Edmund and his heirs were now ‘reserves’ in line for the Castilian throne behind Gaunt.
12/7/1383On 12th July 1383, after the Scots had attacked Wark Castle on the border, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, held talks with their king’s heir, Earl John of Carrick, at Muirhouselaw with a truce agreed on 17th July to last until 2nd February the following year.
13/7/1322On 13th July 1322, Edward II sent the following order from York to Thomas Deyvill, Keeper of the Castle and Honour of Pontefract: ‘To Thomas Deyvill, keeper of the castle and honour of Pontefract, and of certain lands in the king’s hands beyond the water of Ouse, co. York. Order not to intermeddle further with the lands of Roger de Novo Mercato in Womersley, and to restore the issues thereof and Roger’s goods and chattels found there.’
13/7/1381On 13th July 1381, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, was at Berwick on his way back to London from Edinburgh, recalled by a letter from Richard II after riots in the capital. Gaunt was also trying to meet up with his wife, Constance, who had fled the troubles and had been hiding at Knaresborough Castle.
14/7/1364On 14th July 1364, John of Gaunt, by right of his wife Blanche (third cousin), became the new lord of Pontefract and received by royal charter a confirmation of all the privileges which his father-in-law, Henry of Grosmont, the 1st Duke of Lancaster, had had before him.
14/7/1385On the 14th July 1385, Richard II visited Pontefract Castle, on his first military campaign as leader, to engage the invading Scots who, bolstered by a French army of 1,000 men-at-arms and 600 bowmen under General Jean de Vienne, were attacking northern England. He arrived at York on the 16th. John of Gaunt was preparing to meet Richard at Durham after assembling men and supplies from Pontefract.
14/7/1399On 13th or 14th July 1399, Henry Bolingbroke reached Pontefract with an estimated sixty supporters, after landing at Ravenspur on the Humber estuary some two weeks before. As he progressed across Yorkshire, his followers increased with records showing thirty-seven knights and esquires and attendants joining him. At Doncaster, on the 16th of the month, he was similarly acclaimed by the Earl of Northumberland and his son, Henry 'Hotspur' who had become disillusioned with Richard II's administration of northern England.
15/7/1300In July 1300, Edward I successfully besieged Caerlaverock Castle on his latest Scottish campaign with Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and future lord of Pontefract, his brother, Henry, and their sixteen-years-old cousin, Edward of Caernarfon (future Edward II) in attendance.
16/7/1361On 16th July 1361, Henry of Grosmont’s, 1st Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, lands were officially divided between his two daughters: Maud received the land south of the River Trent and Blanche those in the north where her husband, John of Gaunt was already Earl of Richmond.
16/7/1369On 16th July 1369, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, proceeded to Calais in readiness for a raid into Artois. Edward III could not follow Gaunt as Queen Philippa was ill, leaving Gaunt being shadowed by Charles V’s Normandy troops. Gaunt failed to take the port of Harfleur and assumed a stand-off with the Duke of Burgundy near Ardres with neither side risking a battle.
16/7/1377On 16th July 1377, Richard II was crowned at Westminster Abbey in an abbreviated ceremony to reflect his young age and then carried to Westminster Hall for the coronation banquet. John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, presided as Lord Steward. Richard was to die at Pontefract Castle twenty-three years later.
17/7/1373On 17th July 1373, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, landed at Calais with 6,000 men-at-arms and archers. With the assistance of Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, and the Duke of Brittany, the army marched towards Bordeaux hoping to engage with the French forces of Charles V in order to recover Aquitaine. On reaching Bordeaux, around December, the exhausted English army found a city devastated by famine and plague. Unanswered pleas, in January 1374, to Edward III for finance and reinforcements, compelled Gaunt to return to England.
17/7/1394On 17th July 1394, seven weeks after the funerals of Mary de Bohun (his daughter-in-law)) and the earlier one of Constance of Castile (his wife), John of Gaunt held a meeting at Pontefract Castle along with: his brother, Edmund, Duke of York; his nephew, Edward, Earl of Rutland; and his brother Thomas, Duke of Gloucester. Probably, Henry Bolingbroke was also in attendance meaning that according to the entail of Edward III, the first, second, fourth and sixth in line to the throne were all present. A letter was sent to Richard II disclaiming any rumours of John of Gaunt plotting to obtain the crown for himself or his son.
18/7/1317A meeting was arranged by Edward II to be held at Nottingham on 18th July 1317, regarding peace with the Scots, to which Thomas Earl of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, and other magnates were summoned; but, as before, the Earl was absent. He excused himself as being unwell. Edward had accused the Earl of convoking illicit gatherings and of retaining very large numbers of men, thus disturbing the kingdom and frightening the people. Lancaster had denied this: he replied that he retained men only to uphold the King’s peace and lordship and he would come with his whole force to Newcastle on 11th August 1317 as he had been summoned to do.
20/7/1318On 20th July 1318, a second conciliatory mission met Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, comprising much the same personnel as the first one earlier that month but with Roger Mortimer replacing Hugh Despenser the Younger. Negotiations were centred around Edward II’s observance of the Ordinances imposed on him in 1311.
20/7/1381Throughout June 1381, the Peasant's Revolt had brought chaos and turmoil to the kingdom of the young King Richard II. As John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract Castle, was the quasi-ruler of England during the young king’s minority, much of the anger of the mob was directed at him; in order to pay for the war in France, Gaunt had replaced the graduated rate of tax by the poll tax, which levied a tax of one shilling per head (£31 in today’s money) across the whole population. It was mainly due to the bravery of Richard II confronting the protesters that the revolt was defeated but not before the Savoy Palace, the grand London home of John of Gaunt, was totally destroyed. Fortunately, John was in Berwick, but his second wife, Constance, had fled north to seek refuge at Pontefract Castle, only to be refused entry by the constable. We can perhaps speculate that the reason for this was that John of Gaunt’s mistress, Katherine Swynford, having been sent north to Pontefract, was already in residence. We know that John was in residence at Pontefract from the 20th to 21st July 1381 having sent his household there, arranging for firewood and the best wine to be delivered to the castle.
23/7/1326On 23rd July 1326, Henry of Lancaster, brother of the executed Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, and later to be lord of Pontefract when Edward III returned the earldom to him, was made Joint Commissioner of Array in the counties of Warwick, Leicester, Nottingham and Derby by Edward II. The king was now under enormous pressure to mobilise his defences against possible invasion by France or Roger Mortimer and his mistress, Queen Isabella.
25/7/1328On 25th July 1328, Sir Roger Mortimer, Earl of March, who had been party to the  deposition of Edward II and now ruled effectively as king with Edward’s widow, Queen Isabella during the minority of Edward III, arrived at Pontefract Castle on his travels from Berwick to York.
25/7/1377On 25th July 1377, John of Gaunt was at Pontefract, probably with his mistress Katherine Swynford. With the death of Edward, the Black Prince in 1376, John was the most powerful man in the land. Edward III had died in June 1377 and with the war with France not going well, one of his last acts had been to dissolve Parliament which had refused the Crown’s request for funds. John would begin to undo all the work Parliament had done, making many enemies in the process, whilst making himself defender of both the Crown and royal power. On the 25th July, he granted Katherine the wardship and marriage of the heiress of Bertram de Sauneby in recognition of the 'good and agreeable service' she had and continued to render to 'our dear daughters'.
25/7/1386On 25th July 1386, John of Gaunt’s (lord of Pontefract) fleet carrying 7,000 men arrived at Corunna in Galicia, north-west Spain, on his mission to claim Castile. Cleverly picking the Galicians’ celebration of the feast of St James, the English forces met with little, if any, resistance and the holy day was cited as significant in underpinning Gaunt’s claim as Castile’s rightful King. A short stay at Corunna before taking the sacred town of Santiago de Compostela, reinforced, in Gaunt’s eyes, his legitimate claim to Castile.
25/7/1394On 25th July 1394, James I of Scotland was born at Dunfermline Abbey, Fife. James had been sent to France for safety over fears about the succession to his father, Robert III, who died in 1406 (James’ elder brother, David, having starved to death in prison in 1402).Captured by pirates, en route to France, at Flamborough Head (some say off the coast of Norfolk) on 22nd March 1406 and handed over to Henry IV, James was held captive by the English for eighteen years in numerous locations until a ransom of £40,000 (£40 million in today's money) was agreed and his marriage in February 1424 to Joan Beaufort secured his release; Joan was a cousin of Henry VI and niece of Thomas Beaufort, 1st Duke of Exeter, and Cardinal Henry Beaumont. James was crowned King of Scotland at Scone Abbey on 21st May 1424 (some say 2nd). He had been held prisoner in Pontefract Castle and this seems to have been during the latter stages of his captivity in England around May-August 1423, possibly even up to early December although James was in Durham during this month. At Pontefract, English and Scottish ambassadors agreed to his release in exchange for an Anglo-Scottish truce. James’ ransom of £40,000 sterling in ‘expenses’, to be paid off over six years, was set against the redemption of twenty noble hostages. Significantly, this was a deliberately generous reduction of the ransom first sought for James in 1416 and was far short of what had in fact been spent on his residency, wardrobe and retinue.
25/7/1399On 25th July 1399, Sir John Pelham, one of John of Gaunt’s (lord of Pontefract) retainers, wrote to his son, Henry Bolingbroke, at Pontefract from Pevensey Castle where he was the Constable: ‘My dear Lord……thank you (for) your comfortable letter that ye sent me from Pontefract that come to me on Mary Magdalene day (22nd July); …I was never so glad as when I heard by your letter that ye were strong enough with the grace of God for to keep you from the malice of your enemies…… I am here by laid in manner of a siege with the county of Sussex, Surrey and a great parcel of Kent, so that I may nought out of none victuals get me but with much hard. Wherefore my dear if it like you by the advice of your wise counsel for to get remedy of the salvation of your castle and withstand the malice the shires aforesaid. And also that ye be fully informed of their great malice workers in these shires which that haves so despitefully wrought to you, and to your castle, to your men and to your tenants for this country have yai (sic) wasted for a great while. Farewell, my dear lord, the holy Trinity you keep from your enemies, and ever send me good tidings of you. Written at Pevensey in the castle on St Jacob day last past.’ This letter is purported to be the oldest private letter in the English language.
27/7/1380On 27th July 1380, Richard II granted Mary de Bohun’s marriage to John of Gaunt’s (lord of Pontefract) son, Henry of Lancaster for 5,000 marks (£2.5 million today). Gaunt was excused this sum as he was owed at least as much for his war ‘expenses’. The marriage would take place seven months later.
28/7/1338On 28th July 1338, Robert de Bosevill, Constable of Pontefract Castle, was appointed as king’s justice in the commission in the West Riding in the county of Yorkshire.
3/8/1394On 3rd August 1394, Anne of Bohemia, queen to Richard II, was buried at Westminster Abbey. Unfortunately, John of Gaunt turned up late to the funeral causing a furious Richard to ‘smite him in the face and draw blood’. Following this, John prudently headed north to Pontefract Castle.
5/8/1318On 5th August 1318, Edward II met Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, on a bridge over the River Soar near Loughborough to confirm the Treaty of Leake requiring the king to observe the Ordinances of 1311. Edward gave Lancaster a kiss of peace and pardoned him for all misdemeanours.
6/8/1307Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and later lord of Pontefract, witnessed Piers Gaveston’s return from exile and creation as Earl of Cornwall by Edward II on 6th August 1307 at Dumfries. This was one of Edward’s first acts on becoming king on the death of his father on 7th July that year. Thomas was with the royal party on three occasions later in the month, and after a visit to Pickering he came south with Edward through Nottinghamshire and Northampton to Langley. Throughout the late winter and early spring of 1308, he was apparently at Westminster, and during the autumn he followed the king to Chertsey, Byfleet, and then back to London.
8/8/1315On 8th August 1315, Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, was made Lieutenant and Chief Captain of The King’s Army (Edward II) between Trent and Roxburgh. His position was to last until 20th November 1316.
8/8/1383On 8th August 1383, Henry Despenser, Bishop of Norwich, made his way with his army to Gravelines after failing to capture Ypres and/or engage the French king Charles VI in battle. Despenser had gained support from Pope Urban VI in Rome for a crusade against supporters of the ‘alternative’ Pope, Clement VII, in Avignon, and the Clementist Count of Flanders was considered a legitimate target for Despenser. John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, (overlooked by Parliament to lead the crusade) was at Pontefract when he learned of Despenser’s imploding venture and summarily mustered his men to sail from the Isle of Thanet to Flanders to try and salvage the crusaders. Despenser returned home humiliated and Gaunt negotiated with Philip of Burgundy, Charles VI’s uncle, to try and repair the damage.
8/8/1398On 8th August 1398, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, was made Constable of the Principality of Wales and Constable of the Principality of Chester.
9/8/1310On 9th August 1310, Edward II was at Pontefract and gave its Dominican friars 13s 4d (£408 in today's money) for one day’s food.
9/8/13181318 would see a brief lull in the enmity between Earl Thomas of Lancaster and his cousin Edward II sealed by the Treaty of Leake on the 9th August 1318. The hatred had come to a head in 1312 when Thomas had organised the execution of Piers Gaveston, the king's favourite.
9/8/1322On 9th August 1322, Edward II gave the following instruction from Alnwick: ‘To Robert de GaldesViy, keeper of certain lands that belonged to Hugh de Cuilly in co. Leicester. Order to deliver to Joan, late the wife of the said Hugh, 16 messuages, a mill, and 16 virgates of land in Gaylene- Morton, and to restore the issues thereof, as the king learns by inquisition taken by Robert de Stok and Roger Hillary that Joan was dowered of the above at the door of the church of Morton by William Trussell, her first husband, when he married her, and that she was seised thereof for thirty-two years and more after his death, and that Thomas le Rous, sheriff of that county, seized the tenements into the king's hands on 20 March, in the 15th year of the king's reign, because the said Hugh was the constable of Thomas, late earl of Lancaster, of his castle of Kenilworth, Hugh having now died in the king's prison of Pontefract castle.’
9/8/1345On 9th August 1345, Henry of Grosmont, nephew of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, who was now, due to his father’s poor health, virtually Earl of Lancaster, Leicester and Derby and Steward of England, landed at Bordeaux. In just over two weeks, he achieved a great victory at Bergerac and on 21st October defeated a French force at Auberoche a month after his father’s death.
15/8/1309By mid-August 1309, Piers Gaveston was back with Edward II following a recent banishment. Gaveston was publicly, if reluctantly, acknowledged by the nobles in Parliament; it is significant that Thomas of Lancaster who had not been involved in the campaign to banish Gaveston had now become disaffected by this time. Gaveston, with his position with Edward secure again, began to give the nobles derisive nicknames :Henry de Lacy of Pontefract Castle was ‘Burst-Belly’ and Thomas Earl of Lancaster,  later of Pontefract Castle, was nicknamed ‘Churl’.
15/8/1316On 15th August 1316, Edward II and Queen Isabella’s second son, John, was born at the Palace of Eltham in Kent. Although Isabella asked her uncle, Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, to stand as her son’s sponsor (godfather), he did not attend the baptism. Having attended the christening of his friend the Earl of Warwick’s son and heir, Thomas Beauchamp in February 1314, this was another insult perpetrated against the king by Thomas.
15/8/1381On 15th August 1381, at a banquet, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, challenged Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, to a duel as soon as he returned to London. Northumberland had not allowed him to enter his castles in the North-East in June whilst Gaunt was being sought by London mobs. Northumberland apologised and an official ceremony of reconciliation was effected.
16/8/1312On account of the rapidly deteriorating situation between Edward II and many of his nobles on 24th July 1312, letters close had ordered the shire levies to be held in immediate readiness. Now, on 16th August 1312, writs were sent to certain sheriffs and other officials, charging them to bring their forces to London on 27th August: the day on which Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, and the Earls of Hereford and Warwick had been summoned to come to Westminster.
20/8/1370In mid-August 1370, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, landed at Bordeaux with around one thousand men to assist his brother, the Black Prince, in its defence. Gaunt marched to Cognac where he met his younger brother, Edmund of Langley and the seriously-ill Black Prince. In attempting to reassert control in Aquitaine, the two elder brothers: offered to redistribute lands of defecting lords to those who had remained faithful to the English; pardoned deserters if they returned; mooted the notion of Gaunt becoming Lieutenant in Aquitaine because of the Black Prince’s precarious state of health.
23/8/1352On 23rd August 1352, Edward III gave permission for Henry of Grosmont, nephew of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, and now himself Duke of Lancaster and Earl of Leicester and Derby and Steward of England, ‘to excuse himself in respect of things wickedly laid to his charge by the duke of Brunswyk’ and to go to France with an escort of sixty knights and an earl. In Cologne Cathedral, Henry had accused Otto, Duke of Brunswick, of being complicit in an ambush upon him by Westphalian knights in early 1352 and that this had been known by King John II of France. He had also challenged Otto to a duel which he accepted and which was to be held at the Pré-aux-Clercs. At the last minute, King John intervened declaring that Henry’s accusation had been misreported to Otto. A banquet for the two ‘contestants’ was held with Henry accepting a gift of the relic the Crown of Thorns in Sainte-Chapelle.
24/8/1323On 24th August 1323, William Melton, Archbishop of York, noted to the Archdeacon of York that despite his monitions, the worship of Thomas of Lancaster as a saint had continued in the church of Pontefract and elsewhere: ‘nay, even the homicides and other deaths and great dangers, which have occurred and are likely to be repeated among the crowds who assemble, do not prevent the demonstrations.’
24/8/1394On 24th August 1394, following his late attendance at Queen Anne’s funeral (wife of Richard II), on 3rd August, John of Gaunt was at Pontefract with his grieving family. His own wife Constance had died in March, whilst both Queen Anne and Mary de Bohun, the first wife of the future Henry IV, and thus his daughter-in-law, had recently died.
25/8/1394Whilst still at Pontefract, John of Gaunt heard that people at the court were questioning his loyalty to King Richard II. Knowing Richard was distraught and angry, John wrote him a letter, on the 25th August 1394, from Pontefract, protesting his loyalty. This apparently reassured the king as by September, Richard had made John the Duke of Aquitaine.
26/8/1346On 26th August 1346, Edward III won a decisive victory at the Battle of Crécy in his campaign to claim the throne of France. Thomas of Lancaster, one of the illegitimate sons of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, executed in 1322, was also at the battle and was knighted by Edward.
29/8/1350On 29th August 1350, Henry, 4th Earl of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, commanding one of the ships of the English fleet, helped Edward, Prince of Wales’ grappled ship during the Battle of Winchelsea against a Castilian fleet. The prince’s younger brother, John of Gaunt, was also on board the stricken vessel. Of the forty-seven larger Castilian ships (to the English fifty), between fourteen and twenty-six were captured with several sunk. Reputedly, only two English vessels were sunk.
30/8/1372On 30th August 1372, Edward III made his grandson (son of Prince Edward of Woodstock, the Black Prince), Richard of Bordeaux (later Richard II), guardian of the kingdom as he prepared to leave from Sandwich on his flagship, Grace de Dieu, on campaign for France. To reinforce a treaty, John of Gaunt (Edward III's fourth, and second surviving, son and lord of Pontefract Castle) had been forced to give up his earldom of Richmond to the Duke of Brittany and was informed by his father that, in the event of Prince Edward’s death, then Richard of Bordeaux would be heir to the throne, not John.
1/9/1317Arms_of_Lancaster A muster had been planned by Edward II for 15th September 1317 at Newcastle, with a preliminary assembly at York or Northallerton. However, Thomas Earl of Lancaster, from his castle at Pontefract, refused to let any troops pass on to York, saying that, as he was Steward of England, if the King wished to take up arms against anyone he ought first to notify the Steward. On 1st September 1317, senior clergy and nobles (including the archbishops of Canterbury and Dublin, five bishops and the earls of Pembroke and Hereford) met Earl Thomas of Lancaster  at the Priory of Pontefract to try to effect a reconciliation between the king and Thomas. Thomas promised that he would not ride with his army nor molest anyone, would attend the next parliament in January 1318 in a peaceable manner and show King Edward II (at this time in York with Queen Isabella) due reverence. Thomas was also to remove his guards from all roads and bridges south of York. In return for this concession, Edward granted Thomas safe passage to Lincoln the following January and dismissed the majority of his own guard whilst travelling back to London.
1/9/1323On 1st September 1323, William Melton, Archbishop of York, issued a ‘second Comand forbidding publicque veneration to Thomas, Earle of Lancaster’ who had been executed for treason at Pontefract the previous year.
2/9/1322On 2nd September 1322, Edward II made the following declaration from Fenham, near Newcastle upon Tyne: ‘To Thomas Deyvill, keeper of the castle and honour of Pontefract. Order to permit William de Ayketon, parson of the church of Berwyk-in- Elmet, to have the profits and other things that he and his predecessors have been wont to have in the wood called ' Le Roundhaye,' as the king learns by inquisition taken by Adam de Hoperton that William and his predecessors, parsons of the said church, have received reasonable estover in the said wood from time out of mind, both before and after the wood was enclosed, to wit dead wood lying therein and branches of dry wood to burn in their chief messuage of Berwyk, by the view and delivery of the forester of the wood, and that they have had their swine and the swine of their tenants of their church in the wood quit of pannage, and their plough-oxen feeding with the lord's oxen in his several pasture, and a court of their men and tenants, and their amercements imposed upon them therein for assize of ale and other things whatsoever, and whenever their men and tenants have been attached at the court of the lords of Berewyk, they or their proctors have sought and always obtained their court of the same men and tenants.’
3/9/1312Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, failed to appear (as commanded by the king) on 27th August at Westminster, and it was not until 3rd September that he, and the Earls of Hereford and Warwick approached the city. For the previous fortnight, the earls had delayed at Ware in Hertfordshire, probably to gather their forces, and now they came towards the capital horsed and armed. Reports suggested that Lancaster alone brought with him a thousand horsemen and 1,500 foot; Hereford had a strong retinue of Welshmen, and Warwick more men from his earldom. Rumours multiplied. Some said that the king had proclaimed a parliament in order to take Lancaster, but that the Earl, knowing this, had brought his retinue as a safeguard: later in the month, two Londoners were imprisoned because the king had heard that, should the city be besieged by Lancaster, they and their accomplices were to open the gates and facilitate Edward’s capture in his own city. The king’s letters patent, sent to the Bishops of Norwich and Bath and Wells, the Earl of Richmond, and two others, on 3rd September, ordering them to prevent the earls coming to parliament in this way went unheeded, and the barons were soon in the city.
6/9/1380On 6th September 1380 (renewed on 2nd May 1381), John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract Castle, was appointed the King’s Lieutenant in the Scottish Marches with the authority to negotiate and enforce truces and supervise English defences. Gaunt’s only claim to territory in this area was his castle at Dunstanburgh and his new post was a particular snub to the Percy influence, and that of other magnates in the North.
7/9/1319At this time Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, was not entirely out of favour with Edward II for, on the 7th September 1319, he successfully petitioned the king for the return of lands in Bamburgh parish which had been escheated after the defection to the Scots of Sir John de Middleton, the Earl’s tenant there.
7/9/1328On 7th September 1328, Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster, brother of the executed Thomas of Lancaster, and now restored to the earldom and control of Pontefract Castle, arrived unexpectedly at Barlings Abbey with an armed retinue and argued with Dowager Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer concerning Lancaster’s lack of influence over the young king, Edward III. They both accused him of intimidation and he was requested to bring his complaints to the next Parliament at Salisbury. Once Lancaster had left, Isabella banned all public assemblies and Mortimer travelled to Gloucester to raise his Marcher tenants.
8/9/1309On 8th September 1309, in response to the threat of Robert the Bruce’s growing military strength in Scotland, Edward II summoned a muster of forces at Berwick with Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, appointed the King’s Lieutenant and keeper of the kingdom ‘custos regni’ in the king’s absence.
8/9/1345On 8th September 1345, Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster, brother of the executed’ traitor’ Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, made his will, appointing his son, Henry of Grosmont, as one of his six executors; he asked to be buried in the choir before the high altar in the church of the hospital he had founded in Leicester in 1330.
11/9/1338On 11th September 1338, it was recorded that “the keeper being at Windsor, Henry Vavasour, William Scot, John de Eland and Robert de Bosevill, Constable of Pontefract castle, are appointed to execute the premises in the liberties of queen Philippa of the honors of Pontefract and Tikhull and in the soke of Snayth, co York”. De Bosevill incurred many debts and had to relinquish many of his bequeathed possessions in order to negate them. At the Feast of the Assumption at the Priory of St Oswald at Nostell, in 1330, he took away a large quantity of malt and other property of the priory and murdered a servant of the Prior; cutting off his head and hanging it on a bridge. De Bosevill died in 1362.
12/9/1368On 12th September 1368, Blanche of Lancaster, daughter-in-law of Edward III by her marriage to his son, John of Gaunt, died at Tutbury Castle, either from childbirth-related issues or from the plague. Only twenty-six, she had already given birth seven times with three babies surviving infancy by the time of her death. During her nine years’ marriage to John, she had spent much time at Pontefract and with the death of her older sister, Maude, without issue in 1362, her husband had inherited various titles.  
13/9/1374On 13th Sept 1374, John of Gaunt ordered the rebuilding of the Great Tower at Pontefract Castle, using stone quarried nearby.
14/9/1370On 14th September 1370, a relief force under John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, arrived outside Limoges, in southwest-central France and began siege operations around the cité (area encompassing the cathedral, bishop’s palace, houses of the canons, some small churches and dwellings) from the chateau part of the city (newer part consisting of the castle and abbey and mercantile community). The city’s inhabitants had been told by their bishop, Jean de Cros, a supporter of John, Duke of Berry, younger brother of the French King Charles V, that the Black Prince was dead and realising the deception the inhabitants wanted to hand the cité back to the Prince and opened communications.
14/9/1370On 14th September 1370, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, led an army to the walls of Limoges, Aquitaine, situated between Poitiers and Bergerac, with the ill Black Prince giving orders from his litter. Attempting to recover the city from Charles V’s brother, the Duke of Berry, with actions including a five-days’ siege, mines and counter-mines being dug, hand-to-hand fighting and a massacre of the city-folk by the French defenders, the English forces triumphed.
15/9/1317In September 1317, at York, Edward II was advised by his court favourites, Hugh Despenser, William de Montagu, Roger Damory and Hugh Audley to attack Pontefract Castle in retaliation for Thomas, Earl of Lancaster’s agents’ occupation of two royal castles (Knaresborough and Alton) in the constableship of Roger Damory. Only the intervention of Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, prevented bloodshed. Relations between Edward and Lancaster had been worsening since the execution of Piers Gaveston in 1312 and Edward’s disastrous Bannockburn ‘expedition’ of 1314.
16/9/1398On 16th September 1398, at Coventry, Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford, the son of John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, was about to duel with Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk. The duel had been Richard’s II’s way of settling a virulent quarrel between the two dukes. Just before the ‘joust’ was about to begin, the king dramatically stood and ordered it to be stopped. Bolingbroke was exiled for ten years (later reduced to six after Gaunt’s intercession) and Mowbray for life.
17/9/1319Whilst at Berwick, Edward II, around the 17th September 1319, aware of the Scots invading far south into England, summoned his council to decide whether to continue the siege or to turn south and confront them. Divisions were at once apparent. The southern magnates wanted to remain until town and castle fell, while the northerners, whose lands were in more immediate danger, advised the king to raise the siege and pursue the raiding Scots. Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, who may well have known of the closeness of the Scots to his own estates around Pontefract, sided with the latter party. Because the King favoured the southerners’ view the Earl angrily gathered his forces and left the siege. Lancaster was almost certainly still at Berwick on 16th September, when he witnessed a royal charter, and he must have left on that day. Edward followed, afraid to stay without the Lancastrian contingent. There is no obvious hint of any open collaboration with the Scots, though the Earl’s behaviour obviously lent itself to rumour, and it was undeniable that his retreat led to the raising of the siege. The Vita Edwardi Secundi states that Edward’s reconciliation with Lancaster was only skin-deep, having Edward stating “When this wretched business is over, we will turn our hands to other matters. For I have not yet forgotten the wrong that was done to my brother Piers”  (Gaveston)
18/9/1370On 18th September 1370, a mine was successfully dug under part of the cité’s walls of Limoges, in southwest-central France by a force led by John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract. Gaunt fought in hand-to-hand combat with a French knight, Jean de Villemur, the garrison commander, and was so impressed with his courage that he halted proceedings to inquire of his name.
19/9/1370On the morning of 19th September 1370, the besiegers of Limoges in southwest-central France led by John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, collapsed the mine of the cité, bringing down a part of the wall. The French defenders turned on the citizens of the city, firing the inhabitants’ houses and the Black Prince’s men, seeing what was happening, pursued the French soldiers initially refusing to take any prisoners until John of Gaunt (and the Prince from his stretcher) relented and allowed the remainder to be taken prisoner and ransomed. The Prince gave the right to administer the cité to the cathedral chapter stating that he did not blame either its clergy or citizens for the treachery of Bishop Jean de Cros.
20/9/1300Around the 20th September 1300, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was charged by Edward I to accompany Hugh Despenser on an ambassadorial mission to the papal curia to represent the king in peace negotiations between England and France and in resolving Edward’s overlordship of Scotland.  
20/9/1319On 20th September 1319 (some sources say the 12th), at the Battle of Myton, a makeshift army of Yorkshire clergy and townspeople was completely defeated by Sir James Douglas and Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, two of King Robert Bruce’s most able commanders. Nicknamed the Chapter of Myton or The White Battle due to the number of clergy involved, the Scots failed to capture Queen Isabella, their main objective, but were able to press south and to reach Castleford, just north of Pontefract. Reputedly, the English losses were 1,000 killed including 300 ‘priests’ (the Chronicle of Lanercost puts the number of priests killed alone at 4,000 with another 1,000 drowned in the Swale!).
20/9/1322On 20th September 1322, Edward II granted the Constableship of Lincoln Castle to Alice de Lacy as her right and inheritance with the Earldom of Lincoln restored to her in December of that year. In order to effect her release from prison, she had had to pay an indemnity of £20,000 (£15.6m in today’s money) to the Crown.
20/9/1322On 20th September 1322, Edward II made the following declaration from Newcastle upon Tyne: ‘To Thomas de Eyvill, keeper of the castle and honour of Pontefract. Order to deliver to William de Crull of Synflex his goods and chattels, which the said keeper took into the king's hands because it was found by an inquisition that William had fled, upon his finding surety to answer to the king for his goods and chattels in case they be adjudged to the king, as the king lately ordered the steward and marshals of his household to send into chancery the record and process of an inquisition taken before them in the court of the marshals concerning the death of William son of James de Swynflet, William his son, and Thomas son of William le Littester of Houeden, wherewith the said William de Crull was charged, in order that the king might be certified by the said record and process whether William de Crull' fled by reason of the said death or not, the steward and marshals having certified the king that the record and process are not in their custody, but in the custody of the coroners of the household and of the executors of Simon de Driby, late steward of the household.’
21/9/1327On 21st September 1327, Edward II was ‘murdered’ at Berkeley Castle on the orders of his wife Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer. With the king's death, Isabella’s new estates were worth 20000 marks (£18.3 million in today's money), an income greater than even Thomas of Lancaster at the height of his powers. Indeed one of the estates Isabella now controlled was Pontefract castle.
21/9/1368On 21st September 1368, Thomas Swynford, son of Sir Hugh Swynford and Katherine (later Duchess of Lancaster) was born. Some have questioned whether he was an illegitimate child of John of Gaunt, receiving 100 marks (over £77,000 in today's money) in his will. In 1390, Thomas served with Henry of Derby (later Henry IV) in Calais and later Prussia. In addition to being Constable of Pontefract Castle, in 1402 he was Sheriff of Lincoln, Captain of Calais by 1404 and was later involved in negotiating a treaty with France and Flanders.
21/9/1371Constance_of_CastileOn 21st September 1371, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, married Constance of Castille. It was his second marriage and, whereas his first marriage had been for love, this  marriage was for ambition. By this marriage, he became King of Castile and Leon, and he was addressed by that title from that point on. After this, the lords of Pontefract grew in strategic, military and political importance in the country.  
21/9/1397On 21st September 1397, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, in his role as Steward of England, presided over the trial of Richard Fitzalan, 4th Earl of Arundel, regarding his part in an armed, traitorous insurrection against the king by the Lords Appellant ten years earlier. Gaunt condemned Arundel ‘to be drawn, hanged, beheaded and quartered, and the lands descending from your person, both entailed and unentailed, to be forfeited forever by you and your heirs.’ Richard II commuted the sentence to beheading only. The Earl of Warwick, Thomas de Beauchamp, a co-conspirator, was banished to the Isle of Man and Gaunt’s brother, Thomas of Woodstock, the Duke of Gloucester, was posthumously tried and declared a traitor. Sir Thomas Mortimer, another Lords Appellants’ rebel, died in exile in 1399.
22/9/1305On 22nd September 1305, Edward of Caernarfon (future Edward II) wrote one of several letters to Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and future lord of Pontefract, showing that, at this time, the two were on very close personal terms: ‘Very dear cousin, we hold you well excused that you have not come to us, and your illness grieves us much, and if we can come to you we will do it willingly, to see and to comfort you.’
22/9/1345On 22 September 1345, Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster and younger brother of the executed Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, died at Leicester Castle. He had been head of the regency council for the new king, Edward III,  Captain-General of all royal forces in the Scottish Marches and had been one of the advisers of seven-year-old Prince Lionel, keeper of England, when Edward had gone to Flanders in July. He had been blind for the last 15 years of his life.
23/9/1371On 23rd September 1371, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, having spent a year trying to restore the ruinous state of Aquitaine’s government and with over half of the Black Prince’s army having deserted due to lack of payment, formally resigned the post of Lieutenant of Aquitaine. He returned to England with less than half of his eight hundred men who had come with him.
24/9/1317On 24th September 1317, the Earls of Hereford and Pembroke were commissioned to release all those who had been arrested as followers of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster (lord of Pontefract) and to protect him and his men until the coming parliament in late January 1318. Lancaster, having given up the custody of the bridges which he had been holding against the king, then returned in peace to Pontefract while Edward II paid off his army and on 29th September  started southwards again.
26/9/1300On 26th September 1300, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was Chief Ambassador to Pope Boniface VIII during the Pope’s proclaimed ‘Jubilee Year’, during which he encouraged mass crowds to pilgrimage to Rome and supply much-needed money to the papacy. Henry was later to be Joint Ambassador to Pope Clement V on 15th October 1305.
28/9/1330On 28th September 1330, Edward III was at Pontefract and authorised that: ‘Nicholas de Herthull, imprisoned at Notingham for trespass of venison in Shirwode forest, has letters to bail him until the first assize.’
29/9/1309The Chronicle of Lanercost records that on 29th September 1309: ‘Howbeit, after the feast of S. Michael some kind of peace and agreement was patched up between the King of England and his people, on condition that the king should do nothing important without the advice and consent of the Earl of Lincoln (Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract); but from day to day the king, by gifts and promises, drew to his side some of the earls and barons.’
29/9/1314The household book of Thomas Earl of Lancaster, preserved in the record of Pontefract, shows the amount of disbursements for domestic expenses for one year from Michaelmas (9th Sept) 1314 to 29th September 1315. Thomas had now amassed such great wealth and estates that he was virtually the most powerful man in England. An indication of his wealth can be seen from a year's expenses totalling £7,957 13s. 4 1/2 d (£8.7 million in today's money). This  compared to King Edward II's expenses for one year of £8,310 9s (£9.04 million in today's money).
29/9/1316The Chronicle of Lanercost records that: ‘After the feast of S. Michael on the 29th September 1316, the Earl of Lancaster (lord of Pontefract) with his adherents marched toward Scotland as far as Newcastle in compliance with the king's behest; but the king declined to follow him as they had agreed upon together, wherefore the earl marched back again at once ; for neither of them put any trust in the other.’   
29/9/1370On 29th September 1370, five-years-old Edward, eldest son of the Black Prince, died of plague at Angouleme and all authority was passed to John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract. Gaunt was accepted as the new Lord (Lieutenant) of Aquitaine by its nobles’ ceremony of homage de bouche (a kiss binding them to help Gaunt in the defence of his lands).
29/9/1397On 29th September 1397, two of John of Gaunt’s, lord of Pontefract, children by his first and third marriages, were given titles by Richard II in a series of mass creations of peerages. Henry Bolingbroke, Earl of Derby, was made Duke of Hereford and John Beaufort, Marquess of Somerset and Marquess of Dorset.  
29/9/1399On 29th September 1399, a delegation headed by the Earl of Northumberland, visited Richard II in the Tower of London, for the second time, seeking the king’s resignation; Richard having deliberated over a copy of his resignation overnight. Richard was later to become Pontefract Castle’s most famous prisoner. Later that day Henry Bolingbroke (at Richard’s request) visited Richard and informed him he must resign simply and without conditions except for being able to retain the lands he had acquired in order to endow an anniversary for his soul in Westminster Abbey.
30/9/1399On 30th September 1399, the record of (soon-to-be Pontefract Castle’s most noteworthy prisoner) Richard II’s resignation was presented and read out to Parliament in Westminster Hall by John Burbach, a doctor of laws. The ‘Manner of King Richard’s Renunciation’ records the reasons for such as: ‘the things he had done which were contrary to the crown…the vengeful sentences given against the lords and other points, including the will which he had made before he went to Ireland’. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s request for the assembly’s approval was greeted with cries of ‘Yes, yes, yes’. Parliament was dissolved and a new assembly called for the 6th October in the name of Richard’s successor, Henry Bolingbroke (soon to be Henry IV).
1/10/1317In early October 1317, as Edward II passed through Pontefract on his way from York to London, the Earl of Lancaster’s forces jeered at him from the battlements of the castle. This was a ‘treasonous’ charge later levelled at Lancaster at his trial at the castle five years afterwards.
1/10/1330On 1st October 1330, Edward III was at Pontefract and ordered that: ‘To the justices of the Bench. Order not to put John de Insula Vectra, knight, in default for not appearing on Monday the morrow of three weeks from Easter last in a suit before the justices between him and Walter, abbot of Hyde near Winchester, and Richard le Cornmangere concerning the unjust taking and detinue of John’s cattle, as he was in the king’s service by his order on that day.’
1/10/1359On 1st October 1359, Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, arrived at Calais with an advance party to meet German mercenaries and raid the Somme. Lancaster was spearheading Edward III’s invasion of France intended to have himself crowned at Rheims after a devastating ‘chevauchee’ of the local regions thereby putting pressure on the Dauphin.
1/10/1376In October 1376, very soon after his son’s (Edward of Woodstock) funeral on the 29th September, Edward III made an entail declaring Woodstock’s son, Richard of Bordeaux (the future Richard II) his heir, excluding his granddaughter Philippa of Clarence, only child of his late second/third son, Lionel of Antwerp, from the succession. In doing this, Edward also declared that his third/fourth son, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, and his male heirs came after Richard in succession, then Edmund of Langley and his male heirs, then Thomas of Woodstock and his male heirs. This declaration effectively excluded Gaunt from the throne, contradicting King John’s means of succession nearly two hundred years before when he had taken precedence over his nephew, Arthur of Brittany. It also heralded a child king (as Edward III was by then old and feeble) with all the likely problems of a minor’s rule; and can, by some, be seen as the beginnings of dynastic turbulence leading to the Wars of the Roses.
1/10/1397On 1st October 1397, on the orders of Richard II, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, led a party to exhume the body of the executed Earl of Arundel and bury it in an unknown location to prevent his grave being used as a site of political martyrdom. Gaunt was awarded some of Arundel’s Norfolk lands in recompense.
1/10/1399On 1st October 1399, Sir Richard of Bordeaux (formerly Richard II) was informed, in the Tower of London, of the Parliamentary approval of his renunciation of the crown. Sir Richard William Thirning, chief justice, speaking ‘in the name of the estates and the people’ declared the end of their homage and allegiance. Within five months he would be dead, having reputedly starved (unlike Shakespeare's more gory version) in his prison at Pontefract Castle.
2/10/1348On 2nd October 1348, Alice de Lacy, wife of Thomas Earl of Lancaster, died, aged 66, at Barlings Abbey in Lincolnshire. During her life, Alice was married three times, widowed twice, abducted, imprisoned and had her inheritance taken from her. Yet throughout her life she remained generous and respected by her subordinates and those who were dependent upon her.
5/10/1318The wardrobe account for 1318-19, gives the names, seven hundred and fifty in all, of those to whom Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, sent letters during the year. Especially large numbers of letters were issued between 5th and 8th October 1318, presumably to summon his followers to attend him at the parliament which had been called for 20th October at York. The on-going ill-feelings between the king and Lancaster made both parties extremely wary of the other. On this occasion, Lancaster wrote to twenty-five knights who were members of his retinue. Counting the different knights who received various letters, the maximum number of knights that can be shown to have served him during the year was forty two.
6/10/1319After Edward II’s retreat from the siege of Berwick, York was reached on 5th October 1319 and on the following day the king wrote to Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, by this time probably at Pontefract again. The crushing English defeat at the Battle of Myton the previous month had shown too clearly the need for an urgent overhaul of the country’s defence system, and this was the main subject discussed at a council meeting on 13th October.
7/10/1322On 7th October 1322, The Register of William Melton, Archbishop of York, noted the prohibition of the worship of the executed (at Pontefract in March of that year) Thomas, Earl of Lancaster: ‘…… none shall come publicquely through veneration or devotion to the Tombe of Thomas, late Earl of Lancaster at Pontefract”.
7/10/1323On 7th October 1323, William Melton, Archbishop of York, mandated the Archdeacon of York to prevent any veneration of Thomas of Lancaster (executed at Pontefract the previous year) as a saint, pointing out that this had not been sanctioned by the Apostolic See.
10/10/1326On 10th October 1326, Edward II and Hugh Despenser the Younger, had reached Gloucester from the Tower of London attempting to reach the safety of Despenser’s strongholds in south Wales. They were fleeing from Queen Isabella’s and her lover Roger Mortimer’s, invasion from Dordrecht, aided by mercenaries from the Low Countries and Germany, soldiers from the Count of Hainault and financial guarantees by the king of France. Unfortunately, for Edward, news came that Thomas of Lancaster’s (lord of Pontefract) brother, Henry who had not supported his brother’s revolt four years earlier and had been allowed to inherit some of his estates, now had turned to Isabella’s cause.
10/10/1361On 10th October 1361, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, attended the marriage of his brother, the Black Prince, to Joan, Countess of Kent, at Windsor; the Pope had given his assent to the union as Edward and Joan were related in the second and third degree.
11/10/1370On 11th October 1370, the ailing Black Prince appointed his brother, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, as his lieutenant in Aquitaine after Gaunt had participated in the siege of Limoges even engaging in hand-to-hand fighting in the undermining tunnels. The Black Prince then returned to England leaving his brother in charge.
13/10/1321On 13th October 1321, Queen Isabella had wanted to stay at Leeds Castle in Kent while travelling to Canterbury, but was refused entry by the owner’s wife. The owner of the castle, who was not there at the time, was Lord Badlesmere, a supporter of Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract. When Isabella's men tried to gain access to the castle, some of them were killed. On hearing of the problem, Edward II took an army to the castle. Several of the Marcher Lords began to march into England in support of Lord Badlesmere. On 27th October, the Marchers and Badlesmere assembled at Kingston in order to raise the siege of Leeds Castle. Lancaster forbade them to help and wrote to the King to ask him to stop persecuting his liege men. At the same time, the Marchers wrote to the king asking him to abandon the siege, promising to surrender the castle to him at the next parliament. However, Edward seeing that the castle could not resist much longer, refused to consider the request, and after a few days Leeds was taken, to be followed by Badlesmere’s other Kentish castles. The Marchers meanwhile returned to Lancaster at Pontefract.
13/10/1398On 13th October 1398, Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford, the son of John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, left Dover for Calais after saying final farewells to his father. Bolingbroke had been exiled for six years by Richard II for his ‘unsettled’ quarrel with Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, the memory of his part in the Lords Appellants’ rebellion, and the king’s perception of him as a political threat. After Gaunt’s death the following year, Bolingbroke’s exile was made for life by Richard II.
13/10/1399On 13th October 1399,  Henry IV was crowned at Westminster Abbey on the feast day of Edward the Confessor. Pontefract Castle would be a major part of his northern estates
14/10/1313On 14th October 1313, Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, was one of the great lords of England who knelt before Edward II in Westminster Hall to receive his grace and pardon for his/their part in Piers Gaveston’s death.
14/10/1399On 14th October 1399, the day after Henry IV was crowned king, the Duchy of Lancaster merged with the Crown. Henry decreed that the Lancastrian inheritance should be held separately from other Crown possessions and descend to male heirs (this separation being confirmed by Edward IV in 1461). Pontefract Castle had been incorporated into the Duchy in 1311.
15/10/1313On 15th October 1313, Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, dined with his cousin, Edward II, in a display of new-found harmony after many years of conflict surrounding the king’s rule and his court favourite, Piers Gaveston. Queen Isabella and the Earl of Gloucester, Gaveston’s brother-in-law, had been instrumental in this putative reconciliation.
15/10/1328On 15th October 1328, Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster’s (brother of the executed Thomas of Lancaster, and restored to the earldom and control of Pontefract Castle) men murder their lord’s rival, Sir Robert Holland, at Borehamwood just as the king was sending him orders to raise troops against Lancaster. Their ‘gift’ to Lancaster was Holland’s head.
17/10/1388On 17th October 1388, John of Gaunt’s, lord of Pontefract, daughter by Constance of Castile, Catherine, was married, aged fifteen to John I’s (King of Castile) son and heir, Henry, aged ten. Catherine became Queen of Castile through this marriage to the future Henry III of Castile.
18/10/1321Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, clearly knew he was severely disadvantaged in any military engagement with Edward II and, after Leeds Castle’s surrender earlier that month, such a struggle must have appeared increasingly likely. It was probably in another attempt to rally support around him that, on 18th October 1321, he issued writs for an assembly of his supporters at Doncaster on 29th November.
19/10/1343On 19th October 1343, William Zouche, Archbishop of York, granted a licence at Darlington, to the Prior and Convent of Pontefract, at the request of Henry, Earl of Derby: ‘to allow masses and other divine services to be celebrated in the chapel upon the hill, situated near Pontefract’ for Thomas of Lancaster, executed at Pontefract in 1322.
26/10/1326On 26th October 1326, Henry of Lancaster, brother of the executed Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, and later to be lord of Pontefract, was made Constable of Abergavenny Castle in Monmouthshire, Wales by Edward II. Edward had been hoping to mobilise forces in Wales against the invading forces of Roger Mortimer, his wife Queen Isabella and his son Prince Edward (later Edward III).
26/10/1396On 26th October 1396, Richard II met Charles VI of France near Ardres, outside Calais regarding his proposed marriage to Charles’ six-years-old daughter, Isabella of Valois; Richard was twenty-nine. John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, and the Duke of Gloucester escorted Charles’ brother, the Duke of Orleans and uncle, the Duke of Berry. After formal meetings on the following two days, Charles handed over Isabella to Richard on the 30th and she was escorted to the English camp by Gaunt’s and Gloucester’s duchesses, Katherine Swynford and Eleanor de Bohun.
27/10/1307On 27th October 1307, after the funeral of Edward I, preparations were made for Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, to travel to France to oversee preparations for Edward II’s marriage to Isabella of France.
27/10/1326On 27th October 1326, Hugh Despenser the Elder was hauled before a tribunal at Bristol including Roger Mortimer (Edward II’s wife’s lover), Henry of Lancaster, brother of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster (lord of Pontefract) and the king’s half-brothers, Kent and Norfolk. Despenser had been charged with holding Bristol to thwart Queen Isabella’s advance against her husband’s (EdwardII) forces; the siege lasted eight days. Despenser was not allowed to speak in his defence and was hanged, beheaded and his body fed to the dogs.
27/10/1399On 27th October 1399, Parliament met to hear the unanimous judgement by 58 lords on Richard (II) of Bordeaux. Two archbishops, thirteen bishops, seven abbots, Prince Henry, the Duke of York, six earls, twenty-four lords and four knights and Parliament agreed that Richard should be confined in isolation in perpetuity; he died imprisoned at Pontefract Castle.
29/10/1399On 29th October 1399, Richard (II) of Bordeaux was secretly removed from the Tower of London and taken via various castles to Knaresborough and later Pontefract to be guarded by Robert Waterton and Thomas Swynford, trusted friends of Henry IV.
31/10/1396Isabela_richard_weddingOn 31st October 1396, Isabella of Valois became Richard II's second wife. Richard was twenty-nine years old and Isabella was just six years old. John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, oversaw the finalisation of the marriage agreement with the Duke of Burgundy. Later in 1406, after Richard's death, Isabella married her cousin Charles, Duke of Orléans. She was sixteen and he was eleven. Coincidentally, Richard II died at Pontefract Castle and the Duke of Orléans was imprisoned at the castle for many years.
1/11/1320Edward II now had a new favourite - Hugh Despenser the Younger - and when, in November 1320, he persuaded Edward that the lordship of the Gower should be taken into royal hands following the death of William de Braose, trouble was to follow with Thomas Earl of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract. Lancaster’s huge estates made him a neighbour of Despenser, and with Edward’s indulgence of Despenser aggression, Lancaster’s interests coalesced with those of the Marcher lords into a collective determination to restore the rule of law. The road to Lancaster’s downfall and final execution at Pontefract had begun.
1/11/1328On 1st November 1328, a highly dissatisfied Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, marched into Winchester. Parliament adjourned and Lancaster was persuaded to allow the MPs and peers to pass through the city en route to London. Dowager Queen Isabella told the king, her son, that Lancaster was plotting to depose him.
2/11/1355On 2nd November 1355, the forces of Henry, Duke of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, and his future son-in-law, John of Gaunt, landed at Calais along with Edward III’s army, Prince Lionel of Antwerp and one thousand mercenary soldiers from the Netherlands and Germany. Edward III intended to confront John II of France regarding, amongst other things, full English sovereignty over Aquitaine. Edward, the Black Prince, had belatedly set sail for Aquitaine directly that September.
3/11/1311On 3rd November 1311, Piers Gaveston, court favourite of Edward II and recently created King’s Lieutenant in Scotland, sailed into exile at the instigation of the Lords Ordainers, foremost amongst them being Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract. The English nobility’s general detestation of Gaveston was only reflected in one of the forty-one Ordinances they had imposed on Edward II, the rest concerning his public duty as a king. Unfortunately, Edward’s ‘infatuation’ with Gaveston was precipitating civil war.
3/11/1315On 5th October 1315, Sir John Lilburn, Thomas, Earl of Lancaster’s (lord of Pontefract) retainer, seized Knaresborough Castle, which Roger Damory had held for the king since December 1314. Alton Castle in Staffordshire, also in Damory’s custody, was evidently attacked at the same time, for on 3rd November Lancaster was ordered to deliver both the castles to the sheriffs of the respective counties. Knaresborough was held by the Earl’s men until 29th January 1316, having come under siege from William Roos of Helmsley, John Mowbray, John Marmion, Ralph de Bulmer, John Fauconberg, Simon Ward, and other Yorkshire magnates assembled by the sheriff (an interesting reflection of the opposition to Lancaster among a section of the northern baronage). Lilburn himself was pardoned in March. Once again Lancaster’s power had been demonstrated.
3/11/1318On 3rd November 1318, King Edward II issued a Parliamentary writ ordering Thomas of Lancaster to cease attacking the Yorkshire Castles of John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey. One personal reason for Lancaster’s vendetta against de Warren had been that, in 1317, his wife Alice had been carried off from Cranford in Dorset, to Reigate by a knight of the Earl of Warenne, “not, however, by way of adultery, but in contempt of the Earl”. The king offered to do justice in the dispute towards Lancaster if he would desist. The chronicle of St. Werburgh's, Chester, records the devastation of all Warenne's lands north of the River Trent at this time.
4/11/1359On 4th November 1359, Edward III’s army moved out of Calais in three columns to begin torching the countryside of Artois and Picardy. Prince Edward (The Black Prince) and Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, commanded the other two columns.
5/11/1328On 5th November 1328, Henry, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, wrote to the Mayor of London intimating that he knew of the survival of the Earl of Kent’s half-brother, (purportedly murdered) Edward II. The Memoranda Rolls of London noted that after the parliament at Winchester which ended on 31st October that year and at which neither Kent nor Lancaster had attended, Lancaster stated that ‘the earl of Kent had made certain communications to him which he could not put in writing, but which the bearer would report by word of mouth.’
7/11/1309On 7th November 1309, Edward II visited Thomas, Earl of Lancaster’s, manor at Pontefract.
8/11/1345On 8th November 1345, Henry of Grosmont, Earl of Derby, 4th Earl of Lancaster, and lord of Pontefract, oversaw the fall of the crucial fortified town of La Reole on the Garonne in the Hundred Years War. The starving, besieged citadel surrendered in January 1346. Such was the lucrative nature of ransoms paid for captured prisoners, that Grosmont alone was reported to have personally accrued £50,000 (over £74 million in today’s money) from an ‘encounter’ at Auberoche the previous month.
11/11/1381On 11th November 1381, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, attended an official service in St Paul’s Cathedral with Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, for a commemorative Mass for Gaunt’s first wife, Blanche of Lancaster. Gaunt had earlier challenged Northumberland to a duel as he  had not allowed him to enter his castles in the North-East.
11/11/1386On 11th November 1386 a treaty was concluded between John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, and his so-called ally King John of Portugal at River Minho on the Castilian-Portuguese frontier. Portugal agreed to help Gaunt invade Leon (W Castile) in 1387 with 5000 troops but as his own commanders had only consented to serve him during 1386, he had to renegotiate terms with them to stop their returning home.
12/11/1355On 12th November 1355, Edward III returned to England, curtailing his French expedition in order to march north to repel Scottish forces led by the Earl of March and William, Lord of Douglas. The Scots had raided as far south as Durham and had slaughtered the Berwick-upon-Tweed garrison. John of Gaunt, later lord of Pontefract Castle, accompanied his elder brother, Lionel. Edward’s eventual march to Edinburgh, burning, pillaging and slaying en route became known as ‘Burnt Candlemas’.
13/11/1362On 13th November 1362, John of Gaunt received the title ‘Duke of Lancaster’ from his father, Edward III. By then, he owned over thirty castles and estates in England (including Pontefract) and France.
16/11/1326On 16th November 1326, Henry of Lancaster, brother of the executed Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, and later to be lord of Pontefract, caught the fleeing Edward II and Hugh Despenser, the Younger, near Llantrisant, Wales. The king had been trying to reach Neath to escape his wife’s, Queen Isabella’s, invasion to overthrow him. He was kept prisoner in the keeping of Henry at Monmouth Castle. Despenser suffered a grisly execution of hanging, disembowelment, castration and beheading in Hereford market-place on 24th November.
18/11/1340On 18th November 1340, Edward III wrote to Pope Benedict XII stating that the Archbishop of Canterbury had ‘spoken to me separately of my wife, and to my wife of me, in order that, if he were listened to, he might provoke us to such anger as to divide us forever.’ This communication is thought by some to refer to rumours that John of Gaunt, the king’s son and later lord of Pontefract, had been switched in infancy, in Ghent, with the baby of a Flemish woman, due to the death of a royal baby and the queen’s wish to avoid the king’s anger. In 1376, Queen Philippa was said to have confessed on her deathbed in 1369 to Bishop Wykeham that John of Gaunt had been switched; the truth being told just in case there was the likelihood that John would ever become king.
20/11/1311On 20th November 1311, Edward II wrote to Thomas’, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, steward and close ally, Sir Robert Holland, concerning his cousin’s illness. The letter shows the affection still appertaining between king and earl; unfortunately, relations were to degenerate rapidly in the not-too-distant future: ‘We are very joyous and pleased about the good news we have heard concerning the improvement in our dear cousin and faithful subject Thomas, earl of Lancaster, and that soon he will be able to ride in comfort. And we send you word and dearly pray that as soon as he is comfortable and able to ride without hurt to his body, you ask him…to hasten to us at parliament.’
20/11/1361On 20th November 1361, The Register of John Thoresby, Archbishop of York, recorded the ordination of the new vicarage of the parish church of Pontefract with the provision of a chantry to sing masses for the soul of Thomas, late Earl of Lancaster, executed for treason at Pontefract in 1322.
20/11/1399On 20th November 1399, Robert Waterton, Constable of Pontefract Castle (and also Constable at Tickhill Castle and Castle Donnington), was appointed Henry IV’s Master of Horse. This meant that all matters concerning the horses, hounds, stables, coachhouses, the stud, mews and kennels of the monarch came within his jurisdiction.
24/11/1394On 24th November 1394, Charles of Orleans was born in Paris. He became Duke of Orleans in 1407 following the murder of his father, Louis I. In 1406, at the age of eleven, he married his sixteen-year-old cousin, Isabelle (daughter of Charles VI and Queen Isabeau of France) who was the widow of Richard II. Ironically, both Charles and Richard were imprisoned for periods in Pontefract Castle; Richard for a matter of weeks, Charles for two and a half years.
26/11/1322On 26th November 1322, Edward II made the following declaration from York: ‘To Richard de Mosleye, the king's Receiver of Pontefract. Order to allow to the prior and convent of Newburgh, in the payment of £18 (£14,000 in today’s money) due from them for corn that belonged to Richard le Waleys at Dunsford’
26/11/1330On 26th November 1330, Parliament opened and Lord Berkeley was tried for his role in Edward II’s murder with Roger Mortimer (Dowager Queen Isabella’s lover) indicted too. Although Edward III wanted Mortimer hanged without trial, Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, insisted on due legal process and (a literally gagged) Mortimer’s trial started on 28th of the month. On the 29th, he was hanged (gagged again and in a plain tunic as a commoner not an earl) at Tyburn.  
28/11/1399On 28th November 1399, Robert Waterton, Constable of Pontefract Castle (and also Constable at Tickhill Castle and Castle Donnington), was granted the manor of Doubledyke in Gosberton, Lincolnshire, forfeited by Sir John Bushy after his execution for treason by Henry IV.
29/11/1318After the execution of Thomas Earl of Lancaster, John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, petitioned Edward II in 1322 to regain his lands taken from him by the Earl of Lancaster. John de Warenne described how Lancaster had attacked his Yorkshire castles and during a meeting at Pontefract had threatened him with death unless he released all his lands to him. These included not only the Yorkshire lands, such as the Wakefield Manor and Conisborough but also manors in North Wales and estates in Norfolk. De Warenne had been forced to comply on the 29th November 1318 when he signed documents to this effect at Doncaster. De Warenne was also given the impossible task of paying Lancaster £50,000 (approximately £47.5 million in today’s money) by Christmas Day at the house of the Friars Minor in Leicester. It appears that Lancaster was attempting to remove de Warenne's influence in the North of England completely.
29/11/1321On 29th November 1321, Sir Roger Mortimer, Earl of March, who later deposed Edward II and ruled with Queen Isabella during the minority of Edward III, arrived at Pontefract Castle on his travels to the north.
30/11/1318The transfer of estates from John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, to the Earl of Lancaster was completed at Kirk Smeaton on the 30th November 1318 when de Warenne granted all his Welsh lands to Thomas for life. Warenne's lands in Norfolk e.g. Castle Acre, were almost certainly released to Lancaster at this time. In addition to lands, Warenne had to release to Lancaster the valuable wardship of Richard Foliot, who later died in 1325 before he became of age. Most of the land releases were ratified by Edward II in January of 1319. Now Lancaster had no rival in Yorkshire, already holding Pontefract Castle and its honour, he had now secured the castles of Sandal and Conisbrough as well as the manors of Sowerby, Halifax, Dewsbury, Wakefield, Thorne, Fishlake, Hatfield and Braithwell. He seemed unchallengeable in the North.
6/12/1399RichardII_abdicationIn early December 1399, Richard II arrived at Pontefract Castle as a prisoner. He was sent from Leeds Castle in Kent disguised as a forester. It may not be a coincidence that Richard was sent to Pontefract as Edward II had beheaded his cousin, Thomas of Lancaster, there in March 1322 for a plot against the king. It could have been a reminder that unlike Thomas of Lancaster, Henry IV had won his power struggle against the king and also of the significance of Pontefract as a bastion of Henry's Northern hegemony.
11/12/1336On 11th December 1336, Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster and later lord of Pontefract, was created Joint Commissioner for the Defence of the Realm by Edward III.
12/12/1387On 12th December 1387, John of Gaunt’s (lord of Pontefract) son, Henry, Earl of Derby (later Henry IV) along with Thomas Mowbray, Earl of Nottingham, joined the rebel Lords Appellant at Huntingdon to confront Robert de Vere’s royal army. De Vere had been instructed by Richard II to raise an army in the earldom/county of Cheshire to help defeat the rebel lords: Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester; Richard FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel and Surrey; Thomas de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. Derby was not only protecting his father’s interests as Richard had threatened to murder him but probably also feared Gloucester’s latent ambitions for the Crown. The ‘pro-Lancastrian’ Knighton Chronicle gave Derby a prominent role in the resulting campaign.
17/12/1399On 17th December 1399 ringleaders of a plot to kill Henry IV at Windsor during New Year celebrations and restore former king Richard II (held prisoner at Pontefract Castle) to the throne, met at Abbey House in Westminster. The plotters included: the Earls of Salisbury, Huntingdon, Kent, Rutland; Barons Despenser and Lumley; possibly Edward of Norwich, ex-Duke of Aumale; and Sir Thomas Blount and Sir Bernard Brocas.
20/12/1312On 20th December 1312, a ‘treaty of peace’ was cobbled together, under the auspices of envoys from the pope and French court, between Edward II and the earls responsible for the death of Piers Gaveston. The Earls of Lancaster (lord of Pontefract) and Warwick were to submit to the king’s grace and return to him jewels and horses seized by Lancaster when Edward and Gaveston fled Newcastle. Edward would reciprocate by setting aside his bitterness at Gaveston’s demise.
23/12/1313Edward II’s reaction to Robert the Bruce’s Scottish advances in the winter of 1313 did not have the desired effect. As early as 28th November 1313, he had promised to have an army at Berwick before the following midsummer, and on 23rd December 1313 writs were issued for an assembly there on 10th June 1314. Thomas of Lancaster (lord of Pontefract), and the Earls of Warwick, Arundel, and Surrey (owner of Sandal Castle) refused to serve, since the summons had not been decided on in parliament as the Ordinances (article 9) decreed, and was therefore null and void.
24/12/1358On 24th December 1358, John of Gaunt, future lord of Pontefract, spent Christmas at Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, with his brother Lionel, and Lionel’s wife Elizabeth de Burgh, Countess of Ulster. Geoffrey Chaucer (author of ‘Canterbury Tales’) was employed by Elizabeth, at this time, as a page.
29/12/1318On 29th December 1318, John de Bulmer made the following declaration at Pontefract: ‘ Know all men that I, John de Bulmer of Wrelton, have granted, released, and entirely quitclaimed for myself and my heirs to the noble Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and Leicester, Steward of England, his heirs and assigns, all the right and claim that I have or in anyway could have in the bailiwick and forestership of the forest of Pickering together with the land of Lockton, which Walter Boye, my great-grandfather, once held, that is to say whatever descended or could descend to me by right of inheritance on the death of the said Walter and of Helen his daughter and coheiress, mother of Roger de Wrelton, to have and to hold to the Earl, his heirs and assigns, of the chief Lordships of the fee for ever; with clause of warranty.’
30/12/1387On 30th December 1387, the Lords Appellant, including John of Gaunt’s (lord of Pontefract) son, Henry, Earl of Derby (later Henry IV), entered the Tower of London with a bodyguard of 500 armed men and confronted Richard II (who was to die at Pontefract Castle just over twelve years later). Probably accusing him of treachery and showing him letters found in Robert de Vere’s baggage appealing for French help, Richard apologised. Different sources suggest it was demanded of Richard that his five key advisers be arrested or that he must attend a meeting at Westminster the next day with failure to do so meaning he would be deposed. After being rebuked for his misrule, the Whalley Abbey Chronicle recorded Richard being deposed for three days but reinstated as Derby and Gloucester could not agree on which of them should replace him.