Earl of Oxford is a dormant title in the Peerage of England, first created for Aubrey de Vere by the Empress Matilda in 1141. His family was to hold the title for more than five and a half centuries, until the death of the 20th Earl in 1703. The de Veres were also hereditary holders of the office of Master Chamberlain of England from 1133 until the death of the 18th Earl in 1625. Their primary seat was Hedingham Castle in Essex, but they held lands in southern England and the Midlands, particularly in eastern England. The actual earldom was called 'Oxenford' until at least the end of the 17th century. Medieval sources thus refer to 'my lord of Oxenford' when speaking of the earl.
Soon after his father's death in 1141, Aubrey III de Vere was recruited by Empress Matilda. Aubrey's brother-in-law, Geoffrey de Mandeville first earl of Essex, apparently negotiated the offer of the earldom of Cambridge, with a secondary offer of one of four counties if Cambridgeshire was claimed by her kinsman. Aubrey held no land in Oxfordshire at the time, but his eldest son Aubrey IV was to marry an heiress with manors in that county. Aubrey IV was supposedly an ally of King John, while his brother Robert, the 3rd Earl was one of the 25 barons of Magna Carta. His descendant, another Robert, the 9th Earl, was a favourite of King Richard II who created him Duke of Ireland. John the 13th Earl was a Lancastrian during the War of the Roses and Henry Tudor's commander at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.The 17th Earl has become the most famous of the line because of his emergence as a popular alternative candidate as the actual author of the works of William Shakespeare (see Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship). The 17th Earl was a ward and later son-in-law of Lord Burghley, Queen Elizabeth I's Secretary of State. On the death of the 20th Earl, without identifiable heirs male, the title became dormant.
The Earls of Oxford held no subsidiary titles, and so their heirs apparent were styled by invented courtesy titles: initially Lord Vere, and later Viscount Bolebec (sometimes spelt Viscount Bulbeck).
The principal Oxford coat of arms or shield was quarterly gules and or (red and yellow) with an argent (white) five-pointed star called a mullet or molet in the first canton. By De Vere family tradition this molet is said to refer to a reappearance of the Star of Bethlehem which showed itself to an earlier De Vere while on a Crusade and thus led him to victory. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the family livery worn by their retainers was orange/tawney decorated with a white molet. A later badge associated with the De Veres is a blue boar. A later shield variation of the De Vere white molet has a smaller blue molet located within the white one but this may be a simple cadency mark – in heraldry the molet is also used in any family to indicate the third son of a title holder. The third son bears his father's arms differenced with a molet.
A confusion between the De Vere white molet and Edward IV's sunburst and white rose is said to have led to the friendly fire incident between Neville's men and De Vere's men at the Battle of Barnet in 1471. Fighting in fog, the Nevilles (former Yorkists) fired on their De Vere (staunch Lancastrian) allies and thus brought about the collapse of the Lancastrian centre and right. Both contingents began to rout crying 'treachery'.
The title Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer was created in the Peerage of Great Britain for Robert Harley in 1711. It became extinct in 1853.
After the extinction of the earls of Oxford and earls Mortimer, former Prime Minister H. H. Asquith was keen to choose "Earl of Oxford" for his own title. As an earldom was then traditional for former prime ministers, and Asquith had a number of connections with the city of Oxford, it seemed a logical choice and had the king's support. The proposal greatly offended the descendants of the earls, however, and, in the face of their opposition, another title had to be chosen – "Earl of Oxford and Asquith". For information on this creation, see Earl of Oxford and Asquith.
Earl of Essex is a title in the Peerage of England which was first created in the 12th century by King Stephen of England. The title has been recreated eight times from its original inception, beginning with a new first Earl upon each new creation. Possibly the most well-known Earls of Essex were Thomas Cromwell, chief minister to King Henry VIII, and Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (1565–1601), a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I who led the Earl of Essex Rebellion in 1601.
John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford, the second son of John de Vere, 12th Earl of Oxford, and Elizabeth Howard, a first cousin of John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk, was one of the principal Lancastrian commanders during the English Wars of the Roses.
Duke of St Albans is a title in the Peerage of England. It was created in 1684 for Charles Beauclerk, 1st Earl of Burford, then 14 years old. King Charles II had accepted that Burford was his illegitimate son by Nell Gwyn, an actress, and awarded him the Dukedom just as he had conferred those of Monmouth, Southampton, Grafton, Northumberland and Richmond and Lennox on his other illegitimate sons who married.
Earl of Devon was created several times in the English peerage, and was possessed first by the de Redvers family, and later by the Courtenay family. It is not to be confused with the title of Earl of Devonshire, held, together with the title Duke of Devonshire, by the Cavendish family of Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, although the letters patent for the creation of the latter peerages used the same Latin words, Comes Devon(iae). It was a re-invention, if not an actual continuation, of the pre-Conquest office of Ealdorman of Devon.
Earl of Worcester is a title that has been created five times in the Peerage of England.
Hedingham Castle, in the village of Castle Hedingham, Essex, is arguably the best preserved Norman keep in England. The castle fortifications and outbuildings were built around 1100, and the keep around 1140. However, the keep is the only major medieval structure that has survived, albeit less two turrets. It is a Grade I listed building and a scheduled monument. The keep is open to the public.
Aubrey de Vere — also known as "Alberic[us] de Ver" and "Albericus regis camerarius" — was the second of that name in England after the Norman Conquest, being the eldest surviving son of Aubrey de Vere and his wife Beatrice.
William Beaumont, 2nd Viscount Beaumont was an English nobleman, soldier and landowner who was a leading supporter of the Lancastrian faction during the Wars of the Roses.
Aubrey de Vere, 20th Earl of Oxford KG PC was a Royalist during the English Civil War.
Aubrey de Vere, 2nd Earl of Oxford, hereditary Master Chamberlain of England, served in military campaigns under King Richard and King John. He was succeeded in the earldom by his brother, Robert de Vere, 3rd Earl of Oxford.
Isabel de Bolebec, Countess of Oxford, was the eldest daughter and co-heiress of Hugh de Bolebec II, Lord of Whitchurch, Buckinghamshire, and his wife, Margaret de Montfichet. She married Robert de Vere, 3rd Earl of Oxford, and was a benefactress of the Order of Friars Preacher (Dominicans) in England.
The titles Baron Montacute or Baron Montagu were created several times in the Peerage of England for members of the House of Montagu. The family name was Latinised to de Monte Acuto, meaning "from the sharp mountain"; the French form is an ancient spelling of mont aigu, with identical meaning.
Aubrey de Vere, 1st Earl of Oxford was an English noble involved in the succession conflict between King Stephen and Empress Matilda in the mid-twelfth century.
John de Vere, 12th Earl of Oxford, was the son of Richard de Vere, 11th Earl of Oxford, and his second wife, Alice Sergeaux (1386–1452). A Lancastrian loyalist during the latter part of his life, he was convicted of high treason and executed on Tower Hill on 26 February 1462.
John de Vere, 15th Earl of Oxford, Lord Great Chamberlain KGPC was an English peer and courtier.
Agnes of Essex, Countess of Oxford was the daughter of a royal constable Henry of Essex and his second wife, Alice. At the age of three she was betrothed to Geoffrey de Vere, brother of the first Earl of Oxford, and turned over to be raised by the Veres soon thereafter. She remained in the household of the earl of Oxford about three years, then moved to Geoffrey's care. In her eleventh year Agnes rejected the match with Geoffrey and by early 1163 was married to his eldest brother Aubrey de Vere III, 1st Earl of Oxford, as his third wife.
Hugh de Vere, 4th Earl of Oxford was the only son and heir of Robert de Vere, 3rd Earl of Oxford and Isabel de Bolebec, daughter and eventually sole heiress of Hugh de Bolebec.
Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer was a title in the Peerage of Great Britain. It was created in 1711 for the statesman Robert Harley, with remainder, failing heirs male of his body, to those of his grandfather, Sir Robert Harley. He was made Baron Harley, of Wigmore in the County of Hereford, at the same time, also in the Peerage of Great Britain and with similar remainder as for the earldom. Harley was the eldest son of Sir Edward Harley and the grandson of the aforementioned Sir Robert Harley.
Robert de Vere, 19th Earl of Oxford was a British soldier, and the penultimate Earl of Oxford.
The House of de Vere were an English aristocratic family who derived their surname from Ver, in Lower Normandy, France. The family's Norman founder in England, Aubrey (Albericus) de Vere, appears in Domesday Book (1086) as the holder of a large fief in Essex, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, and Huntingdonshire. His son and heir Aubrey II became Lord Great Chamberlain of England, an hereditary office, in 1133. His grandson Aubrey III became Earl of Oxford in the reign of King Stephen, but while his earldom had been granted by the Empress Matilda and eventually recognised by Stephen, it was not until January 1156 that it was formally recognised by Henry II and he began to receive the third penny of justice from Oxfordshire.
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