Archive:Richard II

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Nigel Saul, Richard II (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999)

pp. 298-299

Prominent among the early supporters and sympathizers of Wyclif were a group of knights who were active at court in the early years of Richard’s reign. The names of these half-dozen or so veterans were well known to contemporaries: Walsingham gave one list of them and Knighton another. They were a fairly discrete and closely knit group of men. Three or four of them had passed into Richard’s service from that of Edward III or the Black Prince. Sir Richard Stury had been an esquire of Edward III in the 1350s and early 1360s and from 1366 was one of his knights; additionally he had connections with the prince, and in 1376 had passed from the latter’s service to his son’s. Sir Lewis Clifford had been in the prince’s service for nearly twenty years before serving in turn his widow and his son. Sir John Clanvow, a knight of Edward III, was attached to Richard’s chamber from 1381. Sir John Cheyne, an esquire of Edward III’s by 1374, was knighted by 1378, and in 1380 had become a ‘king’s knight’ retained for life. A smaller number of knights had established themselves at court as a result of family ties rather than service in the previous reign. Sir John Montagu, for example, later earl of Salisbury, was a scion of a comital line, and the son of a former steward of the household. Sir William Neville, a close associate of Clanvow’s, was a brother of both Ralph Neville, the future early of Westmorland, and Alexander, archbishop of York, the king’s close ally. Sir Thomas Latimer, Sir John Trussell and Sir John Pecche – the last two mentioned only in Knighton’s list – had much looser ties with the court. Latimer was a servant of the princess of Wales, while Pecche as a boy had been brought up as a ward of Sir Richard Stury. Besides these half-dozen knights, there were two others whom the chroniclers appear not have noticed. One was Sir Robert Whitney, a king’s knight and harbinger of the household, who lent support to the Lollard preacher William Swinderby; and the other, Sir William Beauchamp, brother of the earl of Warwick and captain of Calais, whose manors in Worcestershire were visited in the early 1400s by Czech scholars looking for Latin copies of Wyclif’s works.


How much of this sensibility rubbed off on the young Richard is hard to say. Richard’s religious sympathies before the late 1380s are difficult to fathom: the wardrobe books are uninformative, and no devotional books of his survive. There is circumstantial evidence, however, that while his outward observances were by all accounts impeccably orthodox, inwardly he may have been sympathetic to some of the opinions of his parents. In the first place, and most obviously, there is the evidence that he retained the service of the Lollard knights. Clifford, Stury, Clanvow, Beauchamp, Whitney and Neville all served in the innermost sanctum of the king’s chamber; Montagu and Cheyne were king’s knights, retained for life; and Stury was in addition an active councillor. All eight of them were well rewarded for their service.


pp. 384

...Thus on the Herefordshire peace commission, a body with a total membership of ten, there were two courtier magnates, two justices and three knights with who had connections with the household. Footnote 64: CPR 1396-9. 227 The courtier magnates were Lancaster and Norfolk, the two justices Hill and Huls, and the three knights with royal connections Walter Devereux, Robert Whitney and Thomas Clanvow.

Transcribed by Adrian Benjamin Burke, Esq.

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