Welcome

So, what’s it all about?

For about 20 years now I have been deeply in love with medieval history: the people (rich and poor), the culture and the artefacts. Back in 2007/8 I became at first mildly interested, and then a little obsessed with a man from the early 14th century, once described by one historian as the worst Briton of the 14th century: Hugh Despenser the younger. Not a very well known man, but he ought to be, as during the reign of Edward II he practically ran the country, turned most of the nobility against him, and was rumoured to be Edward’s lover. If that wasn’t enough, in his time he was also a knight, king’s chamberlain, pirate, a husband┬áto the king’s niece and father to nine legitimate children. He did, indeed, do bad deeds – but so did everyone else back then. My research has been to determine the actual character of this man, as far as possible – and to separate fact from propaganda (not always easy, or even possible) from this distance of time.

The original blog was set up on Blogger and did really well there. But now I want to expand it and make it a bit more commercial (to pay for the coffee needed for the research!). So, as well as the Hugh posts, this site will also do some more generalised posts about the Middle Ages: people, places, lifestyles and artefacts. Of course, there are bound to be some things missing as the topic is so wide – but hopefully there will still be a lot of stuff of interest to everyone.

About Me:

My name is Jules. I am a writer and researcher from Gloucester, UK. To relax I look through Close Roll entries and attempt to transcribe and translate original manuscripts. I drink a lot of coffee and am rather fond of Wensleydale cheese. I have a great PA called Dex: part whippet, part collie, he never fails to remind me to have a break (and let him out for a wee). I also have a great partner (who does not need letting out for a wee), who is my constant support and ideal for bouncing things off – such as ideas.

2 Comments

  1. Hello Jules, I have just discovered your website and find it fascinating. 2 quick questions: I know a fellow, a blond, blue-eyed Sicilian whose name is Dispenser – Could he be a relative as I know the Normans were there? And also, is Diana Spencer a relation?

    Many thanks
    Wendy

    • Hi Wendy,
      The Normans were indeed in Sicily very early on. The name ‘Despenser’ comes from a title ‘Dispensator’ – a steward or justiciar, rather than it being a long held family name (these came later on). So I’m afraid that your Dispenser is in all likelihood no relation at all of the English Despensers. Diana Spencer is assumed to be related to the Despenser family, of course, because of the surname but once again there is no direct correlation between the names of Spencer and Despenser. The Despenser’s direct male line died out in 1414 with Richard le Despenser, 4th Baron Burghersh. However I believe that Diana Spencer, like many others, had an indirect line of descent, through female ancestors, to the Despenser family. I’m afraid that’s the limits of my genealogy knowledge though so if you need to know more, I would recommend a genealogy site like Gen Medieval at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~medieval/ – they really know their stuff on there! ­čÖé
      Hope that helps,
      Jules

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