A violent rebellion in the thirteenth century laid the foundations of the Duchy of Lancaster.
The Lancaster inheritance is created
A dispute between King Henry III of England and his powerful barons led in 1262 to an uprising known as the Barons’ War. The King emerged victorious. He seized the possessions of two of the rebel leaders: Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester and Robert Ferrers, Earl of Derby, granting their estates to his son, Edmund Crouchback, in 1266. Edmund received from Simon de Montfort interests in Leicestershire, and from Robert Ferrers estates at Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire and the forest of Needwood, together with a castle and land at Tutbury in Staffordshire!
On 30 June 1267, Edmund received from his father, the honor, county, town and castle of Lancaster. He was also created the 1st Earl of Lancaster. The name of the Duchy of Lancaster derives from this part of the inheritance.
In that same year Edmund was given the manor of Newcastle-under-Lyme in Staffordshire, together with manors and estates at Pickering, Goathland, Cloughton and Scalby in Yorkshire, and at Myerscough in Lancashire.
His mother, Queen Eleanor of Provence, gave Edmund the manor of the Savoy in London in 1284.
The rebel Earl
On Edmund’s death the earldom passed to his son Thomas. His marriage to Alice Lacy, daughter of the Earl of Lincoln, brought into the inheritance the Honors of Pontefract (Yorkshire), Halton (Cheshire), Clitheroe (Lancashire) and Bolingbroke (Lincolnshire). Thomas extended the inheritance by privately acquiring land in Leicester, Kenilworth in Warwickshire and elsewhere.
To the earldom of Lancaster he added the earldoms of Lincoln and Salisbury but he made no alteration to his title continuing to be known as Earl of Lancaster (and Leicester.)
Thomas’s life ended disastrously. He opposed King Edward II and was implicated in the murder of Edward’s favourite, Piers Gaveston and other conspiracies. In 1322 he was declared a rebel, captured and tried in his own castle at Pontefract before King Edward II. He was condemned and beheaded, and his estates and lands were forfeited.
Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster
Thomas’s brother Henry had not been involved in this rebellion, and gradually recovered the family fortunes. Henry petitioned the King for the earldoms of Lancaster and Leicester, and for his brother’s estates. He had some measure of success by recovering part of the Honor of Leicester, and, in 1323, the Earldom of Leicester. In December 1326 he was granted, to hold during the King’s pleasure, the Honors of Lancaster, Tutbury and Pickering with their castles and other former family estates.
The important and ancient manor of Ogmore (South Glamorgan), together with its castle, was brought into the inheritance through Henry’s marriage to Maud, daughter of Patrick de Chaworth.
Henry died in 1345 and was buried in the hospital at Leicester which he had founded in 1331. The hospital retains a strong affiliation to the Duchy of Lancaster to this day.