Friday, June 6, 2014

Gilbert de Clare

Gilbert de Clare, Tewksbury Abbey
Unknown if this is "our" Gilbert,
his son, or his grandfather
Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Gloucester (1243 - 1295), was mentioned in the post on the Battle of Evesham, switching support from the treasonous Simon de Montfort to King Henry III. Though very young, he had already managed some significant accomplishments.

His father died in 1262, when Gilbert was still in his teens, and so Gilbert was made a ward of Humphrey de Bohun, the 2nd Earl of Hereford (whose son would also have experience with a traitor), but came into his own a year later. So it was that, in spring of 1264 (as part of the uprising against King Henry), he captured Canterbury and attacked the Jews.
He went on to sack the Jewry perhaps with the main intention of destroying all the evidence of debts [...]. The result was that the Jewry was dispersed. It is unclear if there were fatalities. What is known is that two years later, in 1266, the community had returned to Oxford and 18 leading local Jews signed a treaty of self-defence, in which they sought to protect themselves against, 'liars, improper persons, or slanders'. [link]
He may have been emulating Simon de Montfort, who had expelled Jews from Leicester in 1231 (one year before Henry established the Domus Conversorum to give English Jews an option for co-existence). The older Montfort's parents had been extremely hostile to Jews in the past. Clare might have been operating simply because he could, and wanted to impress Montfort, who was the focal point of the barons' uprising against Henry and looked like he would be the next king.

Eventually, however, Clare's sympathies shifted back to Prince Edward in 1265, after Edward escaped his guardians and began to rally supporters against the rebellious barons. Years later, when Henry died, Clare swiftly and openly declared loyalty to the new King Edward I. Clare was named Guardian of England whenever Edward was out of the country.

He died on 7 December 1295 and was buried in Tewksbury Abbey. A stained glass window in the abbey represents him...or his son Gilbert, the 8th Earl...or his grandfather Gilbert, the 5th Earl.

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