John de Warenne, 6th Earl of Surrey

Last updated

John de Warenne
Earl of Surrey
Warenne's seal from Barons' Letter, 1301
Surrey, England
Died27 September 1304 (aged around 73)
Kennington, Surrey, England
(m. 1247;died 1256)
Father William de Warenne, 5th Earl of Surrey
Mother Maud Marshal
Arms of Warenne: Chequy or and azure. These arms are borne today in the third quarter by the Duke of Norfolk. Arms of John de Warenne, 6th Earl of Surrey (d.1304).svg
Arms of Warenne: Chequy or and azure. These arms are borne today in the third quarter by the Duke of Norfolk.

John de Warenne, 6th Earl of Surrey (1231 27 September 1304) was a prominent English nobleman and military commander during the reigns of Henry III of England and Edward I of England. During the Second Barons' War he switched sides twice, ending up in support of the king, for whose capture he was present at Lewes in 1264. Warenne was later appointed a Guardian of Scotland and featured prominently in Edward I's wars in Scotland.


Early life and marriage

Lewes Castle, Warenne's ancestral home, built in 1069 Lewes Castle barbican.JPG
Lewes Castle, Warenne's ancestral home, built in 1069

Warenne was the son and heir of William de Warenne, 5th Earl of Surrey, and Maud Marshal. His mother was the daughter of William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke and widow of Hugh Bigod, 3rd Earl of Norfolk, making Roger Bigod, 4th Earl of Norfolk his elder half-brother.

A boy when his father died, Warenne became a royal ward. Peter of Savoy was appointed guardian of his holdings and Warenne was raised at the royal court. In 1247, he married Henry III's half-sister Alice le Brun de Lusignan, a marriage that created resentment amongst the English nobility, who did not like seeing a wealthy English nobleman marrying a penniless foreigner.

During the following years, Warenne was closely associated with the court faction centering on his in-laws. In 1254, he accompanied the king's son Edward (the future Edward I) on Edward's journey to Spain to marry Eleanor of Castile.

During the conflicts between Henry III and his barons, Warenne started as a strong supporter of the king, switched to support for Simon de Montfort, and then returned to the royalist party. He opposed the initial baronial reform plan of May 1258, but along with other opponents capitulated and took the oath of the Provisions of Oxford.

Second Barons' War

Rochester Castle (circa. 2010), where Warenne was besieged by de Montfort in 1264 Rochester Castle courtyard, 2010.jpg
Rochester Castle (circa. 2010), where Warenne was besieged by de Montfort in 1264

By 1260, Warenne had joined the party of Simon de Montfort, but switched back to the king's side in 1263. In April 1264, he and Roger de Leybourne were besieged by de Montfort at Rochester Castle. In April of the same year Warenne was present for the Battle of Lewes (fought near his ancestral home, Lewes Castle). After the capture of the king and Prince Edward he fled to the Continent, where he remained for about a year. His estates were confiscated but were subsequently restored. He returned to fight in the campaign which culminated in the Battle of Evesham, the Battle of Chesterfield and the siege of Kenilworth Castle.

Warenne served in Edward I's Welsh campaigns in 1277, 1282, and 1283. In 1282 he received the Lordship of Bromfield and Yale in Wales. A good part of the following years were spent in Scotland. He was one of the negotiators for the 1289 treaty of Salisbury and for the 1290 treaty of Birgham, and accompanied the king on Edward's 1296 invasion of Scotland where he commanded the only major field action of that year in the Battle of Dunbar.


On 22 August 1296, the king appointed him "warden of the kingdom and land of Scotland". However Warenne returned to England a few months later claiming that the Scottish climate was bad for his health. The following spring saw the rebellion of William Wallace, Warenne was ordered to lead his army North by the King after initially refusing to return to Scotland. He was defeated by Wallace at the Battle of Stirling Bridge and fled to York.

Nevertheless, the king appointed Warenne captain of the next campaign against the Scots in early 1298. He raised the siege of Roxburgh and re-took the town of Berwick. The king himself took the field later that year, and Warenne was one of the commanders during the decisive English victory at the Battle of Falkirk.

Quo Warranto?

In 1278, Edward I called a parliament at Gloucester with the intention of determining which lords had usurped royal rights—specifically, rights of adjudication—and reclaiming those rights. Walter of Guisborough tells the story that the earl was served a writ of quo warranto ("by what warrant?") as a result of these proceedings. Warenne supposedly responded by drawing a rusty sword and exclaiming that this was his warrant, saying, "My ancestors came with William the Bastard, and conquered their lands with the sword, and I will defend them with the sword against anyone wishing to seize them." [1]

Later years

Warenne died on 27 September 1304 in Kennington, Surrey. [2] He was interred in Lewes Priory at a service conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was succeeded by his grandson, also called John.


Warenne and Alice de Lusignan had three children:

Related Research Articles

Edward I of England King of England from 1272 to 1307

Edward I, also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England from 1272 to 1307. Before his accession to the throne, he was commonly referred to as The Lord Edward. The first son of Henry III, Edward was involved from an early age in the political intrigues of his father's reign, which included an outright rebellion by the English barons. In 1259 he briefly sided with a baronial reform movement, supporting the Provisions of Oxford. After reconciliation with his father, however, he remained loyal throughout the subsequent armed conflict, known as the Second Barons' War. After the Battle of Lewes, Edward was hostage to the rebellious barons, but escaped after a few months and defeated the baronial leader Simon de Montfort at the Battle of Evesham in 1265. Within two years the rebellion was extinguished and, with England pacified, Edward joined the Ninth Crusade to the Holy Land. He was on his way home in 1272 when he was informed that his father had died. Making a slow return, he reached England in 1274 and was crowned at Westminster Abbey.

Isabella of Angoulême 12th and 13th-century French noblewoman and queen consort of England

Isabella of Angoulême was Queen of England as the second wife of King John from 1200 until John's death in 1216. She was also suo jure Countess of Angoulême from 1202 until 1246.

Battle of Lewes 1264 battle of the Second Barons War reaulting in the Mise Of Lewes

The Battle of Lewes was one of two main battles of the conflict known as the Second Barons' War. It took place at Lewes in Sussex, on 14 May 1264. It marked the high point of the career of Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, and made him the "uncrowned King of England". Henry III left the safety of Lewes Castle and St. Pancras Priory to engage the barons in battle and was initially successful, his son Prince Edward routing part of the baronial army with a cavalry charge. However, Edward pursued his quarry off the battlefield and left Henry's men exposed. Henry was forced to launch an infantry attack up Offham Hill where he was defeated by the barons' men defending the hilltop. The royalists fled back to the castle and priory and the King was forced to sign the Mise of Lewes, ceding many of his powers to Montfort.

Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Gloucester 13th-century English nobleman

Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Gloucester was a powerful English noble. He was also known as "Red" Gilbert de Clare or "The Red Earl", probably because of his hair colour or fiery temper in battle. He held the Lordship of Glamorgan which was one of the most powerful and wealthy of the Welsh Marcher Lordships as well as over 200 English manors.

Roger Mortimer, 1st Baron Mortimer of Wigmore English baron

Roger Mortimer, 1st Baron Mortimer of Wigmore, of Wigmore Castle in Herefordshire, was a marcher lord who was a loyal ally of King Henry III of England and at times an enemy, at times an ally, of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Prince of Wales.

William de Valence, 1st Earl of Pembroke Anglo-Norman noble, allied with Henry III

William de Valence, born Guillaume de Lusignan, was a French nobleman and knight who became important in English politics due to his relationship to King Henry III of England. He was heavily involved in the Second Barons' War, supporting the King and Prince Edward against the rebels led by Simon de Montfort. He took the name de Valence after his birthplace, Valence, near Lusignan.

William de Warenne, 5th Earl of Surrey

William de Warenne, 5th Earl of Surrey was the son of Hamelin de Warenne and Isabel, daughter of William de Warenne, 3rd Earl of Surrey. His father Hamelin granted him the manor of Appleby, North Lincolnshire.

Eleanor of England, Countess of Leicester 13th-century English princess and countess

Eleanor of England was the youngest child of John, King of England and Isabella of Angoulême.

Sandal Castle

Sandal Castle is a ruined medieval castle in Sandal Magna, a suburb of the city of Wakefield in West Yorkshire, England, overlooking the River Calder. It was the site of royal intrigue and the setting for a scene in one of William Shakespeare's plays.

Robert de Brus, 5th Lord of Annandale

Robert V de Brus, 5th Lord of Annandale, was a feudal lord, justice and constable of Scotland and England, a regent of Scotland, and a competitor for the Scottish throne in 1290/92 in the Great Cause. His grandson Robert the Bruce eventually became King of Scots.

Elizabeth of Vermandois, Countess of Leicester English countess

Elizabeth of Vermandois, was an Anglo-Norman noblewoman, who by her two marriages was the mother of the 1st Earl of Worcester, the 2nd Earl of Leicester, the 3rd Earl of Surrey, and of Gundred de Warenne, mother of the 4th Earl of Warwick.

Isabella de Warenne

Isabella de Warenne was Lady of Balliol by her marriage to John Balliol; there is however doubt that she lived to become queen when he succeeded to the Scottish throne.

Events from the 1300s in England.

Events from the 1230s in England.

Henry Percy, 1st Baron Percy

Henry de Percy, 1st Baron Percy of Alnwick was a medieval English magnate.

Alice de Lusignan was the first wife of Marcher baron Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Gloucester, and half-niece of King Henry III of England.

Alice de Lusignan, Countess of Surrey was a uterine half-sister of King Henry III of England and the wife of John de Warenne, 6th Earl of Surrey. Shortly after her arrival in England from France in 1247, her half-brother arranged her marriage to the Earl, which incurred some resentment from the English nobility.

Alice de Warenne, Countess of Arundel was an English noblewoman and heir apparent to the Earldom of Surrey. In 1305, she married Edmund FitzAlan, 9th Earl of Arundel.

Maud Marshal, Countess of Norfolk, Countess of Surrey was an Anglo-Norman noblewoman and a wealthy co-heiress of her father William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, and her mother Isabel de Clare suo jure 4th Countess of Pembroke. Maud was their eldest daughter. She had two husbands: Hugh Bigod, 3rd Earl of Norfolk, and William de Warenne, 5th Earl of Surrey.


  1. Michael Prestwich (1988). Edward I. University of California Press. p. 259. ISBN   978-0-520-06266-5.
  2. "Warenne, John de (1231? - 1304)". Tout, Thomas Frederick (1899). Lee, Sidney (ed.) Dictionary of National Biography. 59. London: Smith, Elder & Co.p.368. Accessed via Internet Archive. Retrieved 17 June 2021.
Peerage of England
Preceded by
William de Warenne
Earl of Surrey
Succeeded by
John de Warenne