Constance, Countess of Gloucester

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Constance of York, Countess of Gloucester

Also Known As: "Constance Plantagenet", "Constance of York"
Birthplace: Cornisburgh Castle, Yorkshire, England
Death: November 28, 1416 (41-42)
Reading Abbey, Berkshire, England
Place of Burial: High Altar of Reading Abbey
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York and Isabella of Castile, Duchess consort of York
Wife of Thomas le Despenser, 1st Earl of Gloucester
Partner of Edmund Holland, 4th Earl of Kent
Mother of Eleanor Tuchet; Sir Richard le Despencer, 4th Lord Burghersh; Edward le Despenser, Lord of Gloucester; Elizabeth le Despenser; Hugh le Despencer and 1 other
Sister of Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke of York and Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge

Occupation: Countess
Managed by: Anne Brannen
Last Updated:

About Constance, Countess of Gloucester

Constance of York, Countess of Gloucester (c. 1374 – 28 November 1416) was the only daughter of Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, fifth son of Edward III, king of England, and his wife Isabella of Castile, Duchess consort of York, daughter of King Peter of Castile and his favourite mistress, Maria de Padilla.

Shortly before 7 November 1379 Constance married Thomas le Despenser, 1st Earl of Gloucester, [1] who was about six years old at the time. [2] Thomas was the ward of his mother, Elizabeth de Burghersh, since his father Edward’s death.

Thomas was a friend and supporter of King Richard II, Constance's cousin, and was involved in the arrest and prosecution of the Appellant lords, the Duke of Gloucester and the Earl of Arundel in 1397; in return for which he received a share of their lands.

During the king's campaign in Ireland, Dispenser was a deputy commander of the army and commanded the rearguard. Richard II was unpopular,and when Henry Bolingbroke landed in Yorkshire, most of the English nobility went over to Henry's side. Henry captured Richard and became Henry IV, king of England.

In spite of his close links with Richard II, Despenser initially supported the accession of Henry Bolingbroke as Henry IV, after usurping Richard’s throne. However, after he was attainted for his role in the death of Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, and deprived of his earldom, he became disillusioned with the new regime.

Despenser denied any responsibility for the death of Gloucester in Calais, but was briefly imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1397. Fearful of losing his estates, and possibly his life, in January 1400, he joined in a conspiracy with the earls of Kent, Salisbury and Huntingdon, known as the Epiphany Rising. Thomas was betrayed to the king by Edward of Norwich, Constance’s older brother, and the conspirators were arrested and executed.

Thomas was executed on 16 January 1400 in Bristol, aged 26 years. [2]

Children with Thomas Le Despencer

  1. Edward le Despenser (b. bef. 1400, died young)
  2. Elizabeth le Despenser (died young, c 1398)
  3. Richard le Despenser, 4th Baron Burghersh (1396–1414). He married Lady Eleanor Neville (c. 1397 – 1472), daughter of Ralph de Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland (d. 1425) and Joan Beaufort (d. 1440), daughter of John of Gaunt by Katherine Swynford. He died young without issue.
  4. Hugh le Despenser b. c 1400, d. 1401 (died young)
  5. Isabel le Despenser b. 26 Jul 1400, d. 27 Dec 1439, born after her father's execution. She married, firstly, Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Worcester (d. 1422). A daughter, Elizabeth, Lady Abergavenny (b. 1415) was the sole product of this union. Following Worcester's death, she married Richard de Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick; they were parents to Henry Beauchamp, 1st Duke of Warwick and Anne Beauchamp, 16th Countess of Warwick.

Details as recorded in The Peerage

After her husband's death, Constance was granted a life interest in the greater part of his lands and custody of her son, [3] due to her close relationship with the king.

Later, Constance was either betrothed to or lived as the mistress of Edmund Holland, 4th Earl of Kent (1383–1408), brother of Constance’s step-mother, Joan le Scrope, Duchess of York. [4]

Children with Edmund Holland, 4th Earl of Kent,

Constance had a daughter, Eleanor Holland with Edmund (b. Oct 1406 d. Sept 23, 1459).[5] Eleanor married James Tuchet, 5th Baron Audley (who was killed at the Battle of Blore Heath, 1459), styled Eleanor Tuchet.

Whether or not Eleanor’s parents married became a bone of contention for Eleanor when she attempted to lay claim to her father’s lands and titles in 1430. Although she produced witnesses to prove the marriage of her parents, in about 1404, on the petition of Edmund’s sisters, Joan Duchess of York (Eleanor’s step-grandmother) and Margaret Holland, Duchess of Clarence, Eleanor was adjudged illegitimate and unable to inherit from her father.

Constance of York, Countess of Gloucester, was buried at Reading Abbey in Berkshire.

Further Reading

  1. Constance of York, the rebel countess. 2015, Website: History --- the interesting bits, by S. B. Connolly, S.B. - accessed 17 March 2019.
  2. Constance Langley
  3. Thomas le Despenser, 1st Earl of Gloucester
  1. Pugh, T. B. "Despenser, Thomas, second Lord Despenser", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 23 September 2004. Accessed 2 February 2019.
  2. Connolly, S.B. Constance of York, the rebel countess. (2015)
  3. Pugh 1988, pp. 12–13; Richardson II 2011, p. 77.
  4. Richardson II 2011, pp. 75–8, 500–1; Pugh 1988, p. 79.
  5. Stansfield, M. M. N. "Holland, Edmund, seventh earl of Kent", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 23 September 2004. Accessed 2 February 2019.
  6. Horrox, Rosemary. "Despenser, Constance, Lady Despenser", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 23 September 2004. Accessed 2 February 2019.
  1. Richardson, Douglas (2011). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. II (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. ISBN 1449966381
  2. Connolly, S.B. Constance of York, the rebel countess. 2015, Website: History --- the interesting bits - accessed 17 March 2019.
  3. Pugh, T.B. (1988). Henry V and the Southampton Plot of 1415. Alan Sutton. ISBN 0-86299-541-8
  4. Horrox, Rosemary (2004). Edward, second duke of York (c.1373–1415). 1. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/22356. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  5. Stansfield, M. M. N. "Holland, Edmund, seventh earl of Kent", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 23 September 2004. Accessed 2 February 2019.
Wikipedia - Constance of York


Citations/ Sources:

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[S20] Magna Carta Ancestry: A study in Colonial and Medieval Families, Richardson, Douglas, (Kimball G. Everingham, editor. 2nd edition, 2011), vol. 2 p. 77.

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Constance, Countess of Gloucester's Timeline

Cornisburgh Castle, Yorkshire, England
Langley, Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom
November 30, 1396
Elmley, Worcestershire, England
Cardiff, Glamorganshire, Wales
July 26, 1400
Bristol, Gloucestershire, , England
October 1406
Kenilworth Castle, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, England