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Richard Fitz Alan, 10th Earl of Arundel and 8th Earl of Surrey (c.1306/1313 – 24 January 1376) was an English nobleman and medieval military leader and distinguished admiral. Arundel was one of the wealthiest nobles, and most loyal noble retainer of the chivalric code that governed the reign of Edward III.

Richard was born in Sussex, England. His birth date was uncertain perhaps 1306 or 1313. Fitz Alan was the eldest son of Edmund Fitz Alan, 9th Earl of Arundel (8th Earl of Arundel per Ancestral Roots), and his wife Alice de Warenne. His parents married in 1305, after his father had initially been fined for refusing to marry Alice in 1304; their betrothal had been arranged by Alice's grandfather the Earl of Surrey, his father's guardian. Arundel changed his mind after the Earl died, leaving Alice the heiress presumptive, and with her only brother married to a ten-year-old girl. His maternal grandparents were William de Warenne and Joan de Vere. William was the only son of John de Warenne, 6th Earl of Surrey (himself son of Maud Marshal by her second marriage), and his wife Alice de Lusignan (d. 1356), half-sister of Henry III of England.

Civil career

Around 1321, Fitz Alan's father allied with King Edward II's favourites, Hugh le Despenser, 1st Earl of Winchester and his namesake son, and Richard was married to Isabel le Despenser, daughter of Hugh the Younger. Fortune turned against the Despenser party, and on 17 November 1326, Fitz Alan's father was executed, and he did not succeed to his father's estates or titles. However, political conditions had changed by 1330, and over the next few years Richard was gradually able to reacquire the Earldom of Arundel as well as the great estates his father had held in Sussex and in the Welsh Marches.

Beyond this, in 1334 he was made Justiciar of North Wales (later his term in this office was made for life), High Sheriff of Caernarvonshire for life and Governor of Caernarfon Castle. He was one of the most trusted supporters of Edward the Black Prince in Wales.

Naval and military service during the Hundred Years War

Despite his high offices in Wales, in the following decades Arundel spent much of his time fighting in Scotland (during the Second Wars of Scottish Independence) and France (during the Hundred Years' War). In 1337, Arundel was made Joint Commander of the English army in the north, and the next year he was made the sole Commander. In September 1339 a French fleet appeared off Sluis, determined to make sail against Edward III's fleet. When eventually they put to sea on 2 October they were blown off course by a violent storm back to the Zet Zwijn roads. Edward met parliament, and they ordered a new fleet to granted provisions by the barons of the Cinque Ports, and commanded by the Admiral of the West, Lord Arundel. 70 ships from the west met at Portsmouth on March 26, 1340 to be commanded by their new admiral. The earl, granted the commission on 20 February 1340, was joined by fleets from the north and cinque ports. That summer he joined the king on flagship Cog Thomas, leaving port two days later on 22 June for Flanders. Arundel was a distinguished soldier, in July 1340 he fought at the Battle of Sluys, during his heavily-laden Cog grappled with the Spanish fleet. Summoned by parliament on 13 July, he bore witness to the victory. By December 1342 Arundel had relinquished his post as admiral.

But it appears he may have been at the siege of Tournai. After a short term as Warden of the Scottish Marches, he returned to the continent, where he fought in a number of campaigns, and was appointed Joint Lieutenant of Aquitaine in 1340. The successful conclusion of the Flanders campaign, in which Arundel saw little fighting encouraged the setting up of the Knights of the Round Table attended every Whitsun by 300 great knights. A former guardian of the Prince of Wales, Arundel was also a close friend of Edward III, and one of the four great earls - Derby, Salisbury, Warwick and himself. With Huntingdon and Sir Ralph Neville he was a Keeper of the Tower and guardian to the prince with a garrison of 20 men-at-arms and 50 archers. A royal councillor he was expected to raise taxes, which had caused such consternation on 20 July 1338. The King's wars were not alway popular, but Arundel was a vital instrument of that policy. Despite the failure of the peace negotiations at Avignon in 1344, Edward was decided on protecting his Gascon subjects. In early 1345, Derby and Arundel sailed for Bordeaux as lieutenants of the duchy of Aquitaine, attempting to prevent Prince Jean's designs on the tenantry. In August 1346 Derby returned with an army of 2000 men; while Arundel was responsible for naval preparations.
Admiral of the West

On 23 February 1345 Arundel was made Admiral of the Western Fleet, perhaps for a second time, to continue the policy of arresting merchant ships, but two years later was again superseded. Arundel was one of the three principal English commanders at the Battle of Crécy, his experience vital to the outcome of the battle with Suffolk and the bishop of Durham in the rearguard.[3] Throughout he was entrusted by the King as guardian of the young Prince Edward. Arundel's division was on the right side of the battle lines, flanked to the right with archers, and stakes to the front.[4]

He spent much of the following years on various military campaigns and diplomatic missions. The King himself and the entourage went to Winchilsea on 15 August 1350, set sail on the Cog Thomas on 28th, for the fleet to chase the Spaniard De la Cerda down wind which they sighted the following day. The ships rammed, before the party escaped unhurt on another vessel. Overcome by much larger Spanish ships, the English could not grapple.

In a campaign of 1375, at the end of his life, he destroyed the harbour of Roscoff. On days after the death of Edward III, a Castilian fleet raided the south coast of England, and returned again in August. Arundel's fleet had put into Cherbourg for supplies, but no sooner had it departed, than the port was blockaded; one squadron was left behind and captured. At the same time galleys harassed the coast of Cornwall.
Great wealth

In 1347, he succeeded to the Earldom of Surrey (or Warenne), which even further increased his great wealth. (He did not however use the additional title until after the death of the Dowager Countess of Surrey in 1361.) He made very large loans to King Edward III but even so on his death left behind a great sum in hard cash.
Marriages and children

He married twice:

Firstly, on 9 February 1321 at Havering-atte-Bower, to Isabel le Despenser (born 1312, living 1356, and may have died circa 1376-7). At that time, the future earl was either eight or fifteen, and his bride nine years old. Later he repudiated this bride, and was granted an annulment by Pope Clement VI in December 1344 on the grounds that he had been underage and unwilling. By this marriage, Richard and Isabel had one son (when Richard was either fourteen or twenty-one, and Isabel fifteen), who was bastardized by the annulment:

Sir Edmund de Arundel, knt (b ca 1327; d 1376-1382), bastardized by the annulment. Edmund was nevertheless knighted, married at the age of twenty, in the summer of 1347 Sybil de Montacute, a younger daughter of William Montacute, 1st Earl of Salisbury and Catherine Grandison, whose elder sister Elizabeth was married to his maternal uncle, of whom it was said he arranged. Edmund protested his bastardization bitterly in 1347, but was apparently ignored.

After his father's death in 1376, Edmund disputed his half-brother Richard's inheritance of the earldom and associated lands and titles in 1376 and apparently tried to claim the six manors allotted to his deceased mother. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1377, and finally freed through the intervention of two of his brothers-in-law (his wife's brother John de Montacute and the second husband of Elizabeth de Montacute, Lady Le Despencer). They had three daughters who were his co-heiresses and who brought a failed suit in 1382 against their half-uncle the Earl:

Elizabeth (or Alice) de Arundel, who married Sir Leonard Carew (1343-1369)[8] of Mohuns Ottery in Devon, feudal lord of Carew Castle in Pembrokeshire and lord of the manor of Moulsford in Berkshire. From Alice are descended all the members of the prominent and widespread Carew family, except Carew of Beddington in Surrey, descended from one of Sir Leonard's great-uncles. (See Baron Carew, Earl of Totnes, Carew baronets).

Philippa de Arundel (died 18 May 1452), who married (as his 2nd wife) Sir Richard Sergeaux, Knt, of Colquite, Cornwall. A Victorian historical novel ascribes the following five children to her:
a) Richard, born 21 December 1376, and died childless, 24 June 1396;
b) Elizabeth, born 1379, wife of Sir William Marny;
c) Philippa, born 1381, wife of Robert Passele;
d) Alice, born at Kilquyt, 1 September 1384, wife of Guy de Saint Albino;
e) Joan, born 1393, died 21 February 1400. "Philippa became a widow, 30 September 1393, and died 13 September 1399."

Alice Sergeaux, later Countess of Oxford (c. 1386 – 18 May 1452), who married 1stly Guy de St Aubyn of St. Erme, Cornwall, and 2ndly about 1406-7 (as his 2nd wife) the 11th Earl of Oxford and widower of Alice de Holand (dsp. 1406, niece of Henry IV), and was the mother of two sons by him John de Vere, 12th Earl of Oxford, Robert de Vere, whose grandson, John, became the 15th Earl of Oxford.

Katherine de Arundel, who married Robert Deincourt.

Secondly on 5 April 1345 he married Eleanor of Lancaster, a young widow, the second youngest daughter and sixth child of Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster and Maud Chaworth. By Papal dispensation he was allowed to marry his first wife's first cousin by their common grandmother Isabella de Beauchamp.[a] Eleanor was the widow of John de Beaumont, 2nd Lord Beaumont. The king, Edward III, himself a kinsman of both wives, attended this second marriage. By now, the Earl of Arundel had rebuilt the family wealth and was apparently a major financier of the Crown, and financial sweeteners may have been used to reconcile both the Church and the Crown.[b] By this second marriage 5 February 1345, Richard and Eleanor had 3 sons and 3 surviving daughters:

Richard Fitz Alan, 11th Earl of Arundel, who was his son and heir; succeeded him 10th Earl of Arundel.

John Fitz Alan, 1st Baron Arundel, 1st Baron Maltravers, who was a Marshall of England, and drowned in 1379. The current Duke of Norfolk descends from Lady Mary, Duchess of Norfolk, a daughter and co-heiress of Henry FitzAlan, 19th Earl of Arundel; being a descendant of John FitzAlan, 1st Baron Arundel.

Thomas Arundel, who became Archbishop of Canterbury

Lady Joan FitzAlan (1348 – 7 April 1419) who married Humphrey de Bohun, 7th Earl of Hereford. They were the maternal grandparents of Henry V of England through their daughter Mary de Bohun.

Lady Alice FitzAlan (1350 – 17 March 1416), who married Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent, matrilinear brother of King Richard II. They were ancestors to Queen consorts Anne Neville (wife of King Richard III), Elizabeth of York (wife of King Henry VII), and Catherine Parr (wife of King Henry VIII).

Lady Eleanor Fitzalan (1356 – before 1366).

Death and legacy

Richard died on 24 January 1376 at Arundel Castle, aged either 70 or 63, and was buried in Lewes Priory. He wrote his will on 5 December 1375. In his will, he mentioned his three surviving sons by his second wife, his two surviving daughters Joan, Dowager Countess of Hereford and Alice, Countess of Kent, his grandchildren by his second son John, etc., but left out his bastardized eldest son Edmund. In his will Richard asked his heirs to be responsible for building the Fitz Alan Chapel at Arundel Castle, which was duly erected by his successor. The memorial effigies depicting Richard Fitz Alan and his second wife Eleanor of Lancaster in Chichester Cathedral are the subject of the poem "An Arundel Tomb" by Philip Larkin.

Fitz Alan died an incredibly wealthy man, despite his various loans to Edward III, leaving £60,000 in cash. He had been as astute in business, as he had in diplomatic politics. He was a cautious man, and wisely saved his estate for future generations.



Richard Fitz Alan and Eleanor, Countess of Arundel

Around 1321, Fitz Alan's father allied with King Edward II's favourites, Hugh le Despenser, 1st Earl of Winchester and his namesake son, and Richard was married to Isabel le Despenser, daughter of Hugh the Younger. Fortune turned against the Despenser party, and on 17 November 1326, Fitz Alan's father was executed, and he did not succeed to his father's estates or titles. However, political conditions had changed by 1330, and over the next few years Richard was gradually able to reacquire the Earldom of Arundel as well as the great estates his father had held in Sussex and in the Welsh Marches.

Beyond this, in 1334 he was made Justiciar of North Wales (later his term in this office was made for life), High Sheriff of Caernarvonshire for life and Governor of Caernarfon Castle. He was one of the most trusted supporters of Edward the Black Prince in Wales.


File nameRichard Fitz Alan and Eleanor, Countess of Arundel
File Size31.84k
Linked toFamily: Fitz Alan/Plantagenet of Leicester (F2554)

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