On 7 December 1295, Gilbert “The Red” de Clare, 6th Earl of Hertford, 7th Earl of Gloucester, 3rd Lord of Glamorgan, 9th Lord of Clare, passed away. He was my 23rd great-grandfather through his daughter Eleanor, my 24th great-grandfather through his daughter Elizabeth, and my 22nd great-grandfather through his daughter Margaret. He was also my 24th great-uncle through his sister Rohese “Rose” de Clare (my 23rd great-grandmother).
In 1253, at the age of ten, Gilbert de Clare wed Alice de Lusignan, daughter of Hugh XI of Lusignan (my 25th great-grandfather) and Yolande de Dreux, and half-niece of Henry III. When they were of age, Gilbert de Clare and Alice de Lusignan had two children, Isabella (born 1263) and Joan (born 1264).
On 14 July 1262, Gilbert de Clare’s father died, and young Gilbert inherited his father’s estates. Circa 1263, he assumed his father’s titles, including Lord of Glamorgan. However, Gilbert de Clare was still underage; consequently, he was made a ward of Humphrey de Bohun, 2nd Earl of Hereford (my 26th great-grandfather).
In April 1264, Gilbert de Clare led the massacre of the Jews at Canterbury, as Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, had done in Leicester. In response to this atrocity, Henry III (my twice-over 23rd great-grandfather) confiscated Gilbert de Clare’s castles of Kingston and Tonbridge. Then, on 12 May 1264, both Gilbert de Clare and Simon de Montfort were denounced as traitors.
Two days later, on 14 May 1264, just prior to the Battle of Lewes, Simon de Montfort knighted the Gilbert de Clare and his brother Thomas de Clare. Gilbert de Clare commanded the central division of the baronial army. One of two main battles in the Second Barons’ War, the Battle of Lewes pitted the barons against Henry III and the royalists. The barons routed the royalists, who fled back to the castle and priory. As a result, Henry III was forced to sign the Mise of Lewes, ceding many of his powers to Simon de Montfort.
On 20 October 1264, in reaction to his military actions, Gilbert de Clare was excommunicated by Pope Clement IV, and his lands placed under an interdict. The following month, by which time the Church had obtained possession of Gloucester and Bristol, Gilbert de Clare was proclaimed a rebel. By this time, however, Gilbert de Clare had changed sides, as he had a disagreement with Simon de Montfort. In an effort to capture Simon de Montfort and prevent his escape, Gilbert de Clare destroyed ships at the port of Bristol, as well as the bridge over the River Severn at Gloucester. Now allied with Prince Edward, Gilbert de Clare de Clare was placed in command of the second division, which largely contributed to the victory at Kenilworth on 16 July 1264, and in the Battle of Evesham on 4 August 1264.
In October 1265, as a reward for supporting Prince Edward, Gilbert de Clare was granted the castle and title of Abergavenny and castle of Brecknock. During Michaelmas, his disputes with Llywelyn ap Gruffydd were submitted for arbitration; however, a final settlement was not made. Meanwhile, Gilbert de Clare was converting Caerphilly Castle into a fortress.
Unfortunately, Gilbert de Clare’s marriage was floundering. In 1267, Gilbert de Clare and Alice de Lusignan separated.
On 24 June 1268, Gilbert de Clare took the Cross at Northampton in repentance and contrition for his past misdeeds.
At the end of 1268, Gilbert de Clare refused to obey the Henry III’s summons to attend Parliament, contending that due to the constant problems with Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, his Welsh estates required his presence for their defense.
On 16 November 1272, Henry III died. Gilbert de Clare took the lead in swearing fealty to Edward I, who, at the time, was in Sicily on route home from the Crusade. The next day, with the Archbishop of York, Gilbert de Clare entered London and proclaimed peace to all. For the first time, secured the acknowledgment of the right of the King’s eldest son to succeed to the throne immediately. From that point on, Gilbert de Clare was joint Guardian of England during the King’s absence. Upon Edward I’s return to England in August 1274, Gilbert de Clare entertained him at Tonbridge Castle.
During Edward’s invasion of Wales in 1282, Gilbert de Clare was named the commander of the southern army invading Wales. However, Gilbert de Clare’s army was badly beaten at the Battle of Llandeilo Fawr. Following this defeat, Gilbert de Clare was relieved of his command and was replaced by William de Valence, 1st Earl of Pembroke (whose son had died during the battle).
In 1285, Gilbert de Clare’s marriage to Alice de Lusignan was annulled.
On 30 April 1290, Gilbert de Clare married Joan of Acre at Westminster Abbey. Joan of Acre was the daughter of Edward I of England (my 22nd great-grandfather through Edmund of Woodstock, my 22nd great-grandfather through Edward II of England, and my 24th great-grandfather through Joan of Acre) and Eleanor of Castile. Through this marriage, Edward I bound Gilbert de Clare and his assets more closely to the Crown. By the provisions of the marriage contract, the couple’s joint possessions and Gilbert de Clare’s extensive lands could only be inherited by a direct descendant of Gilbert de Clare and Joan of Acre. If the marriage proved childless, the lands would pass to any children Joan of Acre might have by further marriage. Luckily, Gilbert and Joan had one son named Gilbert, and three daughters named Eleanor, Margaret, and Elizabeth.
On 3 July 1290, Gilbert de Clare hosted a great banquet at Clerkenwell to celebrate his marriage, after receiving confirmation that the Pope had sanctioned their marriage. Edward I then gave Gilbert de Clare several estates. Disputed hunting rights on these estates led to several armed altercations with Humphrey de Bohun, 3rd Earl of Hereford (my 24th great-grandfather). Edward I resolved those conflicts. Gilbert donated to the priory and also had a “great conflict” about hunting rights and a ditch that he dug with Thomas de Cantilupe, bishop of Hereford, that was settled by costly litigation. Gilbert had a similar conflict with Godfrey Giffard, bishop and administrator of Worcester Cathedral. Soon after, Gilbert de Clare and his wife Joan of Acre “took the cross” and departed for the Holy Land.
In September 1290, Gilbert de Clare signed the Barons’ Letter to the Pope. On 2 November 1290, he surrendered his claim to the advowson of the Bishopric of Llandaff.
In 1291, Gilbert de Clare one again bickered with Humphrey de Bohun about the Lordship of Brecknock. Humphrey de Bohun accused Gilbert de Clare of building a castle on his land. This quarrel culminated in a war between the two men. Although Marcher Lords were permitted to wage private wars, this conflict did not please Edward I. Consequently, both Gilbert de Clare and Humphrey de Bohun were imprisoned by Edward I, and their lands were forfeited. In addition, Gilbert de Clare was fined 10,000 marks; Humphrey de Bohun was fined 1,000 marks. When the men were released from imprisonment, their lands were completely restored to them.
Finally, on 7 December 1295, Gilbert de Clare died at Monmouth Castle and was buried at Tewkesbury Abbey.