Guy de Beauchamp, 10th Earl of Warwick

Guy de Beauchamp
Earl of Warwick
Guy de Beauchamp.jpg
Guy de Beauchamp standing over the decapitated body of Piers Gaveston. From the 15th-century Rous Rolls.[1]
Bornc. 1272
Died(1315-08-12)12 August 1315
BuriedBordesley Abbey, Worcestershire
Spouse(s)Isabel de Clare ?
Alice de Toeni
FatherWilliam de Beauchamp, 9th Earl of Warwick
MotherMaud FitzJohn
Arms of Beauchamp: Gules, a fesse between six cross crosslets or

Guy de Beauchamp, 10th Earl of Warwick (c. 1272 – 12 August 1315) was an English magnate, and one of the principal opponents of King Edward II and his favourite, Piers Gaveston. Guy de Beauchamp was the son of William de Beauchamp, the first Beauchamp earl of Warwick, and succeeded his father in 1298. He distinguished himself at the Battle of Falkirk and subsequently, as a capable servant of the crown under King Edward I. After the succession of Edward II in 1307, however, he soon fell out with the new king and the king's favourite, Piers Gaveston. Warwick was one of the main architects behind the Ordinances of 1311, that limited the powers of the king and banished Gaveston into exile.

When Gaveston returned to England in 1312 – contrary to the rulings of the Ordinances – he was taken into custody by Aymer de Valence, 2nd Earl of Pembroke. Warwick abducted Gaveston and, together with Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster, had him executed. The act garnered sympathy and support for the king, but Warwick and Lancaster nevertheless managed to negotiate a royal pardon for their actions. After the disastrous defeat at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, King Edward's authority was once more weakened, and the rebellious barons took over control of government. For Warwick the triumph was brief; he died the next year.

Guy de Beauchamp is today remembered primarily for his part in the killing of Gaveston, but by his contemporaries he was considered a man of exceptionally good judgement and learning. He owned what was for his time a large collection of books, and his advice was often sought by many of the other earls. Next to Lancaster, he was the wealthiest peer in the nation, and after his death his lands and title were inherited by his son, Thomas de Beauchamp, 11th Earl of Warwick.

Family background

Seal of Guy de Beauchamp, 10th Earl of Warwick, as appended to the Barons' Letter, 1301. The arms shown are those of Newburgh, the family of his predecessors the Beaumont Earls of Warwick. The Beauchamps frequently quartered their own arms with those of Newburgh, on occasion placing the latter in the 1st & 4th quarters, positions of greatest honour
Armorial of Newburgh Earls of Warwick, adopted c. 1200 at start of age of heraldry: Checky azure and or a chevron ermine[3]

Guy de Beauchamp was the first son and heir of William de Beauchamp, 9th Earl of Warwick, (c. 1238 – 1298). His mother was Maud FitzJohn, daughter of John fitz Geoffrey, who was Justiciar of Ireland and a member of the council of fifteen that imposed the Provisions of Oxford on King Henry III.[4] William was the nephew of William Maudit, 8th Earl of Warwick, and when his uncle died without issue in 1268, he became the first Beauchamp earl of Warwick.[5] In 1271 or 1272 his first son was born, and in reference to the new family title, William named his son after the legendary hero Guy of Warwick.[1] William de Beauchamp was a capable military commander, who played an important part in the Welsh and Scottish wars of King Edward I.[5]

A marriage between Guy and Isabel de Clare, daughter of Gilbert de Clare, 6th Earl of Hertford, was contemplated, or possibly even took place and then annulled.[6][a] It was not until early 1309 that Guy married Alice de Toeni, a wealthy Hertfordshire heiress.[7] By this time Guy had already succeeded as Earl of Warwick, after his father's death in 1298.[8] By Alice, Guy had two sons, including his heir and successor, Thomas, and five daughters: