Thomas of Brotherton, 1st Earl of Norfolk

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Thomas of Brotherton
Thomas of Brotherton, 1st Earl of Norfolk.png
Thomas depicted on a medieval roll
Born1 June 1300
Brotherton, Yorkshire, England
Died4 August 1338 (aged 38)
Framlingham Castle, Suffolk, England
Resting place Bury St Edmunds Abbey, Suffolk
52°14′38.76″N0°43′9.12″E / 52.2441000°N 0.7192000°E / 52.2441000; 0.7192000
Title1st Earl of Norfolk
Known forYounger half-brother of
King Edward II of England
Nationality English
Residence Framlingham Castle
Wars and battles Second War of Scottish Independence
Offices Earl Marshal
PredecessorNew creation
Successor Margaret, Duchess of Norfolk
Spouse(s)Alice de Hales
Mary de Brewes
Issue Edward of Norfolk
Margaret, Duchess of Norfolk
Alice of Norfolk
Parents King Edward I of England
Margaret of France
Arms of Thomas of Brotherton, 1st Earl of Norfolk: Royal arms of King Edward I, a label of three points argent for difference Arms of Thomas of Brotherton, 1st Earl of Norfolk.svg
Arms of Thomas of Brotherton, 1st Earl of Norfolk: Royal arms of King Edward I, a label of three points argent for difference

Thomas of Brotherton, 1st Earl of Norfolk (1 June 1300 4 August 1338), was the fifth son of King Edward I of England (1272–1307), and the eldest child by his second wife, Margaret of France, the daughter of King Philip III of France. He was, therefore, a younger half-brother of King Edward II (1307–1327) and a full brother of Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent. He occupied the office of Earl Marshal of England.

Edward I of England King of England

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. The crusade accomplished little, and Edward 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 on 19 August.

Margaret of France, Queen of England Queen consort of England

Margaret of France was Queen of England as the second wife of King Edward I. She was a daughter of Philip III of France and Maria of Brabant.

Philip III of France King of france

Philip III, called the Bold, was King of France from 1270 to 1285.


Early life

Thomas of Brotherton was born 1 June 1300 at the manor house at Brotherton, Yorkshire, while his mother was on her way to Cawood, where her confinement was scheduled to take place. [1] According to Hilton, Margaret was staying at Pontefract Castle and was following a hunt when she went into labour. [2] The chronicler William Rishanger records that during the difficult delivery his mother prayed, as was the custom at the time, to Thomas Becket, and Thomas of Brotherton was thus named after the saint and his place of birth. [3]

Brotherton village and civil parish in the Selby district of North Yorkshire, England

Brotherton is a village and civil parish in the Selby district of North Yorkshire, England. The village is on a border with the City of Wakefield and West Yorkshire.

Yorkshire Historic county of Northern England

Yorkshire, formally known as the County of York, is a historic county of Northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Due to its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform. Throughout these changes, Yorkshire has continued to be recognised as a geographical territory and cultural region. The name is familiar and well understood across the United Kingdom and is in common use in the media and the military, and also features in the titles of current areas of civil administration such as North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and East Riding of Yorkshire.

Cawood village in the United Kingdom

Cawood is a large village and civil parish in the Selby district of North Yorkshire, England that is notable as the finding-place of the Cawood sword.

King Edward I hastened to the queen and the newborn baby and had Thomas presented with two cradles. His brother Edmund of Woodstock was born in the year after that. They were overseen by wet nurses until they were six years old. Like their parents, they learned to play chess and to ride horses. They were visited by nobles and their half-sister Mary of Woodstock, who was a nun. Their mother often accompanied their father on his campaigns to Scotland, but kept herself well-informed on their well-being. [2]

Mary of Woodstock 14th-century English princess and nun

Mary of Woodstock was the seventh named daughter of Edward I of England and Eleanor of Castile. She was a nun at Amesbury Priory, but lived very comfortably thanks to a generous allowance from her parents. Despite a papal travel prohibition in 1303, she travelled widely around the country.

Thomas's father died when he was 7 years old. Thomas's half-brother Edward, became king of England, as "King Edward II", and Thomas was heir presumptive until his nephew, the future King Edward III, was born in 1312. The Earldom of Cornwall had been intended for Thomas, but his brother the King instead bestowed it upon his favourite, Piers Gaveston, in 1306. When Thomas was 10 years old, King Edward II assigned to him and his brother Edmund, the estates of Roger Bigod, 5th Earl of Norfolk, who had died without heirs in 1306.

An heir presumptive is the person entitled to inherit a throne, peerage, or other hereditary honour, but whose position can be displaced by the birth of an heir apparent or of a new heir presumptive with a better claim to the position in question. The position is however subject to law and/or conventions that may alter who is entitled to be heir presumptive.

Edward III of England King of England

Edward III was King of England and Lord of Ireland from January 1327 until his death; he is noted for his military success and for restoring royal authority after the disastrous and unorthodox reign of his father, Edward II. Edward III transformed the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe. His long reign of 50 years was the second longest in medieval England and saw vital developments in legislation and government, in particular the evolution of the English parliament, as well as the ravages of the Black Death.

The title of Earl of Cornwall was created several times in the Peerage of England before 1337, when it was superseded by the title Duke of Cornwall, which became attached to heirs-apparent to the throne.


Ruins of the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds where Thomas of Brotherton was buried Abbey Ruins WM.jpg
Ruins of the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds where Thomas of Brotherton was buried

In 1312, Thomas was titled "Earl of Norfolk" by Edward II, and on 10 February 1316 he was created Earl Marshal. While his brother was away fighting in Scotland, he was left Keeper of England. He was known for his hot and violent temper. He was one of the many victims of the unchecked greed of the king's new favourite, Hugh Despenser the Younger and his father Hugh Despenser the Elder, who stole some of the young earl's lands.

Earl of Norfolk is a title which has been created several times in the Peerage of England. Created in 1070, the first major dynasty to hold the title was the 12th and 13th century Bigod family, and it then was later held by the Mowbrays, who were also made Dukes of Norfolk. Due to the Bigods' descent in the female line from William Marshal, they inherited the hereditary office of Earl Marshal, still held by the Dukes of Norfolk today. The present title was created in 1644 for Thomas Howard, 18th Earl of Arundel, the heir of the Howard Dukedom of Norfolk which had been forfeit in 1572. Arundel's grandson, the 20th Earl of Arundel and 3rd Earl of Norfolk, was restored to the Dukedom as 5th Duke upon the Restoration in 1660, and the title continues to be borne by the Dukes of Norfolk.

Earl Marshal hereditary royal officeholder and chivalric title under the sovereign of the United Kingdom

Earl Marshal is a hereditary royal officeholder and chivalric title under the sovereign of the United Kingdom used in England. He is the eighth of the Great Officers of State in the United Kingdom, ranking beneath the Lord High Constable and above the Lord High Admiral.

Wars of Scottish Independence war of national liberation

The Wars of Scottish Independence were a series of military campaigns fought between the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England in the late 13th and early 14th centuries.

He allied himself with Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer when they invaded England in 1326, and stood as one of the judges in the trials against both Despensers. When his nephew Edward III reached his majority and took the government into his own hands Thomas, who had helped with the deposition, [4] became one of his principal advisors. It was in the capacity of Lord Marshal that he commanded the right wing of the English army at the Battle of Halidon Hill on 19 July 1333.

Isabella of France Queen consort of England

Isabella of France, sometimes described as the She-Wolf of France, was Queen of England as the wife of Edward II, and regent of England from 1327 until 1330. She was the youngest surviving child and only surviving daughter of Philip IV of France and Joan I of Navarre. Isabella was notable in her lifetime for her diplomatic skills, intelligence, and beauty. She became a "femme fatale" figure in plays and literature over the years, usually portrayed as a beautiful but cruel and manipulative figure.

Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March English nobleman and rebel

Roger Mortimer, 3rd Baron Mortimer, 1st Earl of March, was an English nobleman and powerful Marcher lord who gained many estates in the Welsh Marches and Ireland following his advantageous marriage to the wealthy heiress Joan de Geneville, 2nd Baroness Geneville. In November 1316, he was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1322 for having led the Marcher lords in a revolt against King Edward II in what became known as the Despenser War. He later escaped to France, where he was joined by Edward's queen consort Isabella, whom he may have taken as his mistress. After he and Isabella led a successful invasion and rebellion, Edward was deposed; Mortimer allegedly arranged his murder at Berkeley Castle. For three years, Mortimer was de facto ruler of England before being himself overthrown by Edward's eldest son, Edward III. Accused of assuming royal power and other crimes, Mortimer was executed by hanging at Tyburn.

Battle of Halidon Hill 1333 battle of the Wars of Scottish Independence

The Battle of Halidon Hill was fought during the Second War of Scottish Independence. Scottish forces under Sir Archibald Douglas were heavily defeated by the English forces of King Edward III of England on unfavourable terrain while trying to relieve Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Thomas died about 20 September 1338, and was buried in the choir of the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds. [3] [5] [6] As he had no surviving sons, Thomas was succeeded by his daughter, Margaret, as Countess of Norfolk. [3] She was later created Duchess of Norfolk for life in 1397. [6]

As a son of Edward I of England, Thomas was entitled to bear the coat of arms of the Kingdom of England, differenced by a label argent of three points. [7]

Marriages and issue

Thomas married firstly, before 8 January 1326, Alice de Hales (d. before 12 October 1330), daughter of Sir Roger de Hales of Hales Hall in Loddon in Roughton, Norfolk, a coroner, by his wife, Alice, by whom he had a son and two daughters: [8] [3]

Thomas's wife Alice died by October 1330, when a chantry was founded for her soul in Bosham, Sussex. [11]

Thomas married secondly, before 4 April 1336, Mary de Brewes (died 11 June 1362), widow of Sir Ralph de Cobham, (died 5 February 1326), and daughter of Sir Peter de Brewes [3] (died before 7 February 1312) of Tetbury, Gloucestershire, by Agnes de Clifford (died before 1332), by whom he had no surviving issue. [12] [13]



  1. He was born in the main house, later demolished in the 1930s due to disrepair, although the new 17th century wing still exists. Waugh, 2004.
  2. 1 2 Hilton 2008, p. 240.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Waugh 2004.
  4. "Norfolk, Earls and Dukes of"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 19 (11th ed.). 1911. p. 742.
  5. Richardson IV 2011, p. 182.
  6. 1 2 Thomas F. Tout, (1886) "Thomas of Brotherton" in Dictionary of National Biography
  7. Marks of Cadency in the British Royal Family
  8. Richardson II 2011, p. 631.
  9. Richardson II 2011, p. 634.
  10. Richardson II 2011, pp. 634–5.
  11. Cokayne 1936, pp. 596–9.
  12. Richardson II 2011, p. 632.
  13. Richardson IV 2011, p. 180.
  14. Allström, Carl. M. Dictionary of Royal Lineage. Almberg. Chicago. 1902. pp. 135-138, 178-180, 221, 280-281, .

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Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by
Nicholas Seagrave
Lord Marshal
Succeeded by
The Countess of Norfolk
Peerage of England
New creation Earl of Norfolk
3rd creation
Succeeded by