Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Hertford

Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Hertford and 3rd Earl of Gloucester (September 2, 1243, at Christchurch, HampshireDecember 7, 1295) was a powerful Norman noble. Also known as "Red" Gilbert de Clare, probably because of his hair colour, he built Caerphilly Castle.

Gilbert de Clare was the son of Richard de Clare, Earl of Gloucester and Hertford, and Maud de Lacy, Countess of Lincoln, daughter of John de Lacy and Margaret de Quincy. Gilbert inherited his father's estates he inherited in 1262. He took on the titles, including Lord of Glamorgan, from 1263.

Being under age at his father's death, he was a ward of Humphrey de Bohun, 2nd Earl of Hereford. In April 1264, he led the massacre of the Jews at Canterbury, as Simon de Montfort had done in London. Gilbert de Clare’s castles of Kingston and Tonbridge were taken by the King. However, the king allowed his Countess, who was in the latter, to go free because she was his niece; and on 12 May he and Montfort were denounced as traitors. Two days later, just before the battle of Lewes, on 14 May, Montfort knighted the Earl and his brother Thomas. The Earl commanded the second line of the battle and took the King prisoner, having hamstrung his horse. As Prince Edward had also been captured, Montfort and the Earl were now supreme. On 20 October 1264, the Gilbert and his associates were excommunicated by the Papal Legate, and his lands placed under an interdict.

In the following month, by which time they had obtained possession of Gloucester and Bristol, the Prince and the Earl were proclaimed to be rebels. They at once entered on an active campaign, the Earl, in order to prevent Montfort's escape, destroying ships at Bristol and the Bridge over the Severn. He shared the Prince's victory at Kenilworth on 16 July, and in the battle of Evesham, 4 August, in which Montfort was slain. He commanded the second division and contributed largely to the victory. The castle of Abergavenny was committed to his charge on 25 October and on the 29th the honor of Brecknock was added.

On 24 June 1268 he took the Cross at Northampton At Michaelmas his disputes with Llewelyn were submitted to arbitration, but without a final settlement. At the end of the year 1268 he refused to obey the King's summons to attend parliament, alleging that, owing to the constant inroads of Llewelyn, his Welsh estates needed his presence for their defense. At the death of Henry III, 16 November 1272, the Earl took the lead in swearing fealty to Edward I, who was then in Sicily on his return from the Crusade. The next day, with the Archbishop of York, he entered London and proclaimed peace to all, Christians and Jews, and for the first time, secured the acknowledgment of the right of the King's eldest son to succeed to the throne immediately. Thereafter he was joint Guardian of England, during the King's absence, and on his arrival in England, in August 1274, entertained him at Tonbridge Castle.

His first marriage was to Alice de Lusignan, the daughter of Hugh XI of Lusignan. They were married in 1253, when Gilbert was ten-years-old. She was of high birth, being a niece of King Henry, but the marriage floundered. They produced two daughters before separating in 1267; allegedly, Alice's affections lay with her cousin, Prince Edward. Previous to this, Gilbert and Alice had produced two daughters:

  1. Isabel de Clare (10 March 1262-1333), married (1) Guy de Beauchamp, 10th Earl of Warwick; (2) Maurice de Berkeley, 2nd Baron Berkeley
  2. Joan de Clare (1264-after 1302), married (1) Duncan Macduff, 7th Earl of Fife; (2) Gervase Avenel

After his marriage to Alice de Lusignan was finally annulled in 1285, he married Joan of Acre, a daughter of King Edward I of England and his first wife, Eleanor of Castile. By the provisions of the marriage contract, their joint possessions could only be inherited by a direct descendant. On 3 July 1290 the Earl gave a great banquet at Clerkenwell to celebrate his marriage of 30 April 1290 with the Joan of Acre (1272 - 23 April 1307). Thereafter he and she are said to have taken the Cross and set out for the Holy Land, but in September he signed the Barons' letter to the Pope, and on 2 November surrendered to the King his claim to the advowson of the bishopric of Llandaff. In the next year, 1291, his quarrels with the Earl of Hereford about Brecknock culminated in a private war between them. Both were imprisoned by the King, and the Earl of Gloucester, as the aggressor, was fined 10,000 marks, and the Earl of Hereford 1,000 marks. He died at Monmouth Castle on 7 December 1295, and was buried at Tewkesbury, on the left side of his grandfather Gilbert de Clare.


  • Altschul, Michael. A Baronial Family in Medieval England: The Clares, 1217-1314, 1965
Peerage of England
Preceded by:
Richard de Clare
Earl of Hertford
Succeeded by:
Gilbert de Clare
Earl of Gloucester

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