Person:Elizabeth De Clare (3)

Elizabeth de Clare
b.16 Sep 1295
  • H.  William De Burgh (add)
  • WElizabeth de Clare1295 - 1360
Facts and Events
Name Elizabeth de Clare
Gender Female
Birth? 16 Sep 1295
Death? 1360

She died at the ripe old age (ripe for the era's life expectancy) of 65.

Elizabeth de Clare (September 16, 1295 - 1360) was the heiress to the lordships of Clare, Suffolk in England and Usk in Wales. She was one of three daughters of Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Hertford and Joan of Acre, and sister of the infant fourth earl, also Gilbert de Clare. She accompanied her brother Gilbert to Ireland for their double wedding to two siblings: the son and daughter of the Earl of Ulster. Elizabeth married John de Burgh on September 30, 1308.

He was the heir to the Earl of Ulster, and Elizabeth could expect to be a countess. She gave birth to their only child, a son, in 1312; he would become William Donn de Burgh, 3rd Earl of Ulster. Only a year later, her husband John was suddenly killed in a minor skirmish. Now a widow, Elizabeth remained in Ireland until another family tragedy demanded her return.

Her brother Gilbert was killed at the Battle of Bannockburn, and as he left no surviving issue and had no brothers, his property was equally divided between his sisters, Elizabeth, Eleanor and Margaret. Suddenly Elizabeth was one of the greatest heiresses in England. Her uncle, King Edward II of England, recalled her to the land of her birth so he could select a husband for her. She left Ireland in 1316, leaving behind her son, William. Elizabeth never returned.

Edward II placed her in Bristol Castle, but his plans to marry her to one of his supporters were dashed in February 1316, when Elizabeth was abducted from Bristol by Theobald II de Verdun, the former Justiciar of Ireland. He and Elizabeth had been engaged before she was called back to England. She was Lady Verdun for only five months however, for Theobald died in September 1316 of typhoid. He left behind three daughters from a prior marriage and Elizabeth, who was pregnant. She fled to Amesbury Priory, where she stayed under the protection of her aunt Mary, who was a nun there. There she gave birth to her daughter, Isabella de Verdun, named after the queen, in February 1317. Just a few weeks later, Edward II married Elizabeth to Sir Roger D'Amory.

D'Amory had been a knight in her brother's service who rose to prominence as a favourite of Edward II. Now married to him, Elizabeth was caught up in the political upheavals of her uncle's reign. She gave birth to another daughter, Elizabeth D'Amorie, in May 1318. Roger was reckless and violent, and made a deadly enemy of his brother-in-law, Hugh the younger Despenser. He switched sides over to Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, and died in March 1322, having been captured by royalist forces. He left Elizabeth defenceless, and she was captured and imprisoned at Barking Abbey with her children.

Elizabeth supported her friend, Isabella of France, when she invaded England and she benefited greatly from the reign of Isabella's son, King Edward III of England. She took a vow of chastity after Roger's death, effectively removing herself from the aristocratic marriage market. She enjoyed a long and fruitful widowhood, becoming patroness of many religious houses. Elizabeth is best remembered for having used much of her fortune to found Clare College, Cambridge. The survival of many of her household records has been a boon to medieval scholars, particularly those focusing on medieval women; a study of Elizabeth by Frances Underhill, For Her Good Estate: The Life of Elizabeth de Burgh, is largely based upon these records