Sunday, January 1, 2017

Rebel Centre Ward: Commander - Gilbert de Clare

Gilbert de Clare the "Red" Earl of Hertford and Gloucestershire had by the time of Lewes attained the age of 21 and his earldom after the death if his father, Richard in 1262. He had been married aged ten to the King's niece, Alice de Lusignan (also known as Alice de Valence). By Lewes, he had fathered two daughters - Isabella and Joan.
We are told that Gilbert was called the "Red" due to his hair or his temper. Gilbert's powerful marcher earldom was said to be exceeded in wealth and estates only by the King. His grandfather Richard was a leader in the first Baron's War against King John and Gilbert continued a tradition of prosecuting the interests of his family similarly.

Gilbert either initiated, lead or at the very least allowed the massacre of the Canterbury Jews consistent with the Montfortian pogrom, the actions for which confirm his capability for brutality. Prior to the battle of Lewes, Gilbert and his brother Thomas were knighted by Earl Simon. He survived Lewes, successfully leading the Centre Ward from the Downs and accepted the surrender of Richard of Cornwall from his refuge in the windmill at battle's end. Sharing in Simon de Montfort's victory and subsequent excommunication, Gilbert abandoned the Montfortian cause at least in part for Simon's alliance with de Clare traditional enemies and rivals in Wales. Perhaps more significantly, the two great earls were rivals and in the dispensing of estates, offices and gifts following Lewes Gilbert was left unsatisfied sufficiently to turn. Gilbert took up arms vigorously for the Crown and contributed in no small way to de Montfort's downfall and the loss of the baronial cause.

So, we have a young, presumably fit, aggressive and skilled knight of the highest birth at the start of his prime. The first image is Gilbert de Clare's seal (reverse) with the seal depicted immediately above. As you may have read in my earlier postings on the subject, I regard these artifacts as best evidence for how these famous people sought to portray themselves and therefore most likely represent how they took the field.

A study of the seal images indicated either a plate armour face guard for the horse or at least a break in colour from the rest of the caparison. The forepart of the caparison indicated the gules chevrons of the earls blazon for which there should be three as the shield bearing displays. In contrast and interestingly the rear section does not repeat this but is suggestive to me of bands of alternating colour - presumably or and gules consistent with the earls arms.

Note once again the flat topped classic great helm. 

The image left is also of Gilbert but from much later than Lewes. The Red Earl lived to 1295 and armour evolved considerably over the 31 years subsequent to Lewes. The stained glass effigy is in Tewkesbury Abbey where Gilbert is buried, it was installed circa 1340 and clearly post dates our period. The seal; however, has the surcoat obscured by the earl's shield leaving the design open to conjecture. If I hazard that in 1340 a similar style of surcoat was maintained from previous generations, then I may be at liberty to apply something very similar to my depiction of the Red earl. The figure I have chosen for my earl has no shield but a long cloak which I may make red to enhance the Red earls identification. As a command figure for the centre ward, he will be based with an escort (perhaps a squire) with his banner and carrying his shield.

1 comment:

Bluewillow said...

Nice mate, a very interesting chap, he held sway over a lot of territory and as a fellow red head I applaud him! I will also do one for myself for Evesham.