Pontefract Castle – 14th Century

DateEvent
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 de Warenne, 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 the de Warenne, for life, lands and rents to the annual value of 1,000 marks (£635,000 in today’s money) Somerset, Dorset, and Wiltshire. The charter for this was drawn up on 13th March 1319 at Pontefract and was later confirmed by Edward II.
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.
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.
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.
20/1/1307On 20th January 1307, Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was one of two Commissioners to open parliament in Carlisle.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
4/2/1399On 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 SealHenry de Lacy, Baron of Pontefract, died on 5th February 1311 at Lincoln’s Inn in the City of London and was buried in St Dunstan's Chapel in St Paul's Cathedral. His monument was destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1666 (the image of his tomb below was drawn by Wenceslaus Hollar in 1656). 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. 
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 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.
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.
13/2/1385Around 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’    
27/2/1394Thomas 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.
1/3/1322In 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.
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.
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'.
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.
13/3/1397In 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 carried off by de Warenne four days before the opening of the meeting), and as a result he was publicly declared an enemy of king and kingdom.
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.
18/3/1399On 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.’
20/3/1336By 20th March 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.
22/3/1322Thomas 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). 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.
23/3/1357On 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.
24/3/1394On 24th March 1394, Constance of Castile, the second wife of John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract,  died at Leicester Castle.
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.
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.  
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, John of Gaunt inherited the remainder of the Lancaster estate when his wife’s elder sister, Maud, died without issue. This meant that John now had a greater income and inheritance than his elder brother Lionel. Soon after inheriting the duchy, rumours circulated that he had poisoned his sister-in-law.
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 1317.7 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; 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.
23/4/1377On 23rd April 1377, Edward III nominated the heirs to the kingdom for the Order of the Garter: his grandson 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 a 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 the realm. 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 influence of the final document that was drawn up. 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 that 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.
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’.
4/5/1312On 4th May 1312,  Thomas, Earl of Lancaster,  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.
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.
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.
19/5/1359Marriage_of_Blanche_of_Lancaster_and_John_of_Gaunt_1359On 19th May 1359, 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.
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 below is of Hugh le Despenser the Younger from the Founders' and benefactors' book“ of Tewkesbury Abbey, early 16th century.
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 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.
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.
1/6/1319In 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 ,0wner 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.
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
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.
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 100 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, Blackbumshire 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.
4/7/1394On 4th July 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.
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
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.
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 Northern travels, arriving at York on the 16th.
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.
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 for 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 he would come with his whole force to Newcastle on 11th August 1317 as he had been summoned to do.
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 would be directed at him, for John, to pay for the war in France 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 only due to the bravery of Richard II confronting the protesters that the revolt was defeated but not before 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 and had already sent his household there, arranging for firewood and the best wine to be delivered to the castle.
25/7/1328On 25th July 1328, Sir Roger Mortimer, Earl of March, who later deposed 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 died in 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'.
25/7/1394On 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 (£25.7 million in today's money) and his marriage in February 1424 to Joan Beaufort (Joan a cousin of Henry VI and niece of Thomas Beaufort, 1st Duke of Exeter, and Cardinal Henry Beaufort), secured his release. James was crowned King of Scotland at Scone Abbey on 21st May 1424 (some say 2nd). James was held prisoner in Pontefract Castle and this seems to have been during the latter stages of his captivity in England around May-August (possibly even up to early December although James was in Durham during this month) 1423. 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’ (nearly £51 million in today's money), 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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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 sheriff 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.
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.
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) 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.
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 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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”
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.
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.  
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.
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.
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 the 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.’   
29/9/1399On 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.
1/10/1399On 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”.
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.
13/10/1399On 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
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.
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.
27/10/1399On 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.
31/10/1394Isabela_richard_weddingOn 31st October 1394, Isabella of Valois became Richard II's second wife. Richard was twenty-nine years old and Isabella was just six years old. 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.
3/11/1315On 5th October 1315, Sir John Lilburn, Thomas, Earl of Lancaster’s (lord of Pontefract) retainer, seized Knaresborough Castle, which Amory had held for the king since December 1314. Alton Castle in Staffordshire, also in Amory’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.
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.
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.
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.
23/12/1313Edward II’s reaction to Robert the Bruce’ Scottish advances in the winter of 1313 events came unusually quickly. 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.