Ralph de Monthermer, 1st Baron Monthermer

Ralph de Monthermer, 1st Baron Monthermer

Ralph de Monthermer, 1st Baron Monthermer, Earl of Hertford, Earl of Gloucester, Earl of Atholl (c. 1270 - 5 April 1325)


Ralph was a knight in the household of Joan of Acre, daughter of King Edward I of England. After the death of Joan's husband Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Hertford in 1295, Ralph and Joan fell in love. They were clandestinely (secretly) married in January 1297. Her father was enraged by this lowly second marriage. He had Monthermer thrown in prison, and Joan had to plead for the release of her husband. According to the St. Albans chronicler, she told her father, "No one sees anything wrong if a great earl marries a poor and lowly woman. Why should there be anything wrong if a countess marries a young and promising man?" With the intervention of Antony Bek, Bishop of Durham, the King relented, and released Monthermer from prison in August 1297. The king even allowed Monthermer to hold the titles of Earl of Gloucester and Earl of Hertford, during Joan's lifetime. The titles had been taken from Joan's six year old son Gilbert de Clare, 8th Earl of Hertford, and were returned to the boy upon Joan's death (1307).

Ralph then held no title, for two years, until he was summoned to parliament and made 1st Baron Monthermer (1309).

In 1306 Ralph warned Robert the Bruce of the danger posed by his father in law, King Edward I of England. After the Battle of Bannockburn (1314), at which Ralph fought and was captured by the Scots, Robert paid him back by releasing him without a ransom.


Joan died in childbirth with their fifth child, who was stillborn, on 7 April 1307. She and the child were buried together, on 23 April 1307, at the manor house of Clare in Suffolk, England.

Ralph and Joan had five children;

* Mary de Monthermer, (October 1297 - about 1371). In 1306 her grandfather King Edward I of England arranged for her to wed Duncan Macduff, 8th Earl of Fife.
* Joan de Monthermer, (born 1299), became a nun at Amesbury.
* Thomas de Monthermer, 2nd Baron Monthermer, (1301 - 1340).
* Edward de Monthermer, (1304 - 1339). He fought in the Scottish campaign in 1335, but spent much of his life in service to his half-sister Elizabeth, who provided for him during his last illness and buried him next to their mother.
* Stillborn child (7 April 1307).


* Earl of Gloucester (2 August 1297 - 7 April 1307)
* Earl of Hertford (2 August 1297 - 7 April 1307)
* Earl of Atholl (12 October 1306 - bet. 21 August 1307 and 20 May 1308); abdicated, for the price of 5,000 marks, in favour of David II Strathbogie, Earl of Atholl
* 1st Baron Monthermer (4 March 1309 - 5 April 1325); succeeded by his son Thomas de Monthermer, 2nd Baron Monthermer


* page 306

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