Pontefract Castle – 12th Century

DateEvent
25/1/1140On 25th January 1140, ‘Archbishop’ Thurstan of York, fulfilling his vow to enter the Cluniac order of monks, took his vows at the Priory of St John, Pontefract which had been founded by Robert de Lacy in 1090.
2/2/1141On 2nd February 1141, Ilbert de Lacy is captured along with King Stephen and other leading magnates, at the Battle of Lincoln. Ilbert,  Baron of Pontefract, died following his capture, possibly from his wounds. Ilbert was the eldest son of Robert de Lacy and Maud de Perche, and Ilbert, with his father, supported the claims  of Robert Curthouse - eldest son of William the Conqueror, to the throne of England against those of the younger brother, Henry I. Upon Henry’s succession, the de Lacy’s were dispossessed of all their estates and Robert and Ilbert were banished from England. Allowed to return from exile, and a few years later with their lands and titles returned, Ilbert would be a key supporter of King Stephen during the Anarchy. It is interesting to note the connection once again between the castles of Pontefract and Sandal, with both  de Lacy of Pontefract and de Warenne of Sandal, supporting King Stephen.
5/2/1140On 5th February 1140, the aged ‘Archbishop’ Thurstan of York died, having entered the Priory of St John, Pontefract (which had been founded by Robert de Lacy in 1090) only eleven days before.
6/4/1199Richard the LionheartOn 6th April 1199, King Richard I, the Lionheart, died. During his 10 years’ reign, he stayed only briefly in England. He is more famously known for fighting in both European wars and Crusades to Palestine. Baron Roger De Lacy of Pontefract Castle was one of his military leaders.
21/4/1194On 21st April 1194, Roger de Lacy, Constable of Chester, legally acquired the lands of Robert de Lacy, viz the honours of Pontefract and Clitheroe, by virtue of an agreement with his grandmother, Albreda (Aubrey) de Lisours.
19/5/1152On 19th May 1152, Cistercian monks moved from land given to them by Henry (1) de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, at Barnoldswick to a new site a Kirkstall, Leeds. Henry had vowed to dedicate an abbey to the Virgin Mary should he survive a serious illness. He recovered and agreed to give the Abbot of Fountains Abbey land at Barnoldswick on which to found a daughter abbey. Abbot Alexander with twelve Cistercian monks from Fountains went to Barnoldswick and attempted to build the abbey on Henry de Lacy's land. They stayed for six years but found the place inhospitable. Alexander sought help from de Lacy who was sympathetic and helped acquire the land from William de Poitou. The monks moved from Barnoldswick to Kirkstall. The buildings were mostly completed between 1152 when the monks arrived in Kirkstall and the end of Alexander's abbacy in 1182
29/5/1110On 29th May 1110 (and as far as can be otherwise ascertained, certainly by 1114) it is believed that Robert (1) de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was banished by Henry I to Normandy, probably for having joined earlier rebellions against the king,  by his elder brother, Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy. An alternative motive for Henry’s actions was possibly for no other reason than that Robert was by then one of the most powerful barons and a potential threat to the king.
6/6/1194On 6th June 1194, Roger fitz John, Constable of Chester, lord of Pontefract, formally ‘converted’/used the name of de Lacy for the first time by virtue of an agreement with his grandmother, Albreda (Aubrey) de Lisours.
21/8/1193On 21st August 1193 (one source says 21st June), Robert (2) de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, died. He had had to pay a relief of 1000 marks (nearly £1.5 million in today’s money), discharged by 1181, to take possession of his lands from 1177. It is recorded that he renounced the world some time before his death and entered a monastery. Having no children, his lands passed to his cousin, Albreda de Lissours.
22/8/1138On 22nd August 1138, Ilbert de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, fought against the Scots of King David I at the Battle of Northallerton (the Battle of the Standard, as it became known). King David, uncle of Empress Matilda, had made various incursions into northern England, attempting to stake claim to King Stephen of England’s territories and force Stephen to do battle on many fronts (Geoffrey of Anjou was also frequently making similar moves in Normandy). King Stephen’s English forces, under the organisation of Thurstan, Archbishop of York, reportedly killed 11,000 Scots with few English casualties. Reputedly, the field was called Bagmoor as a jibe at the amount of baggage abandoned by the fleeing Scots. The Battle of the Standard’s soubriquet was due to a ship’s mast secured to a cart from which hung the banners of St Peter, St John of Beverley and St Wilfrid of Ripon and above which was placed the ‘Body of the Lord, to be their standard-bearer and the leader of their battle’.
1/9/1192Coat_of_arms_of_John_de_Lacy,_Lord_of_Pontefract_Castle1On 1st September 1192, John De Lacy, Baron of Pontefract, Earl of Lincoln was born. He stands in history as a leading Baron in forcing King John to agree to Magna Carta.
23/9/1199On 23rd September 1199, Roger de Lacy, nominal lord of Pontefract, was made castellan of Chinon on King John’s campaign to France to hold onto his Angevin lands. Chinon was of major strategic importance to the king’s Angevin empire, commanding the borders of Anjou and Poitou and overlooking Touraine. Pontefract Castle was subsequently released back to Roger by the king albeit his eldest son, John, was held hostage by the king as surety for his loyalty.
25/9/1177On 25th September 1177, Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, accompanying the Earl of Essex and Count of Flanders, died on crusade to the Holy Land. This was Henry’s second crusading venture having campaigned in 1158 and most probably being exempted from taxation that year on account of this action.
5/10/1190On 5th October 1190 (some sources have the 11th), John fitz Richard, eldest son and heir of Richard fitz Eustace and Albreda de Lisours and first cousin once removed of Robert de Lacy, was killed at Tyre in the Holy Land on the Third Crusade led by Richard I. His son, Roger fitz John/de Lacy inherited the Pontefract fee.
1/12/1135In December 1135, William Maltravers was murdered at Pontefract by a knight called Paganus, one of Pontefract estate’s retinue. Maltravers had succeeded Hugh de Laval in 1131 to the fief of Pontefract and Clitheroe, even marrying his widow. Robert de Lacy’s (son and heir of Pontefract Castle’s founder) had forfeited the Honour of Pontefract in 1108 due to his support of Robert Curthose, exiled and imprisoned elder brother of Henry I. Robert de Lacy’s (died 1129) son, Ilbert, was granted Maltraver’s share of the Honour of Pontefract and also received a royal pardon by King Stephen for his men’s role in Maltravers’ death. Ilbert gained the possession of 40 knights’ fees out of 60 which comprised the estate with Laval’s son, Guy, inheriting the remainder. On Ilbert’s death in 1141, William de Roumare, Earl of Lincoln, was also holder of the Honour of Pontefract between 1141-46 before it reverted to the de Lacys.