Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
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Monday, November 13, 2023

Eleanor Cobham, duchess of Gloucester: "Beautiful, Intelligent, and Ambitious"

Eleanor Cobham, duchess of Gloucester (walk of penance, 13 November 1441)

I first came across a reference to Eleanor Cobham in a Shakespeare play--in Henry VI, part 2, she is depicted in a way not unlike Shakespeare's much later Lady Macbeth, tempting her husband to seize the crown for himself:
But list to me, my Humphrey, my sweet duke:
Methought I sat in seat of majesty,
In the cathedral church of Westminster
And in that chair where kings and queens were crowned,
Where Henry and dame Margaret kneeled to me
And on my head did set the diadem. (1.2.36-41)
Her husband, Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, responds to Eleanor by calling her "presumptuous" and "ill-natured," insisting that he must "chide her outright" for such ideas and advising her to "[b]anish the canker of ambitious thoughts." 

But once her husband is gone and she is alone on stage, Gloucester's "sweet Nell" hints that she may not be as acquiescent as she seems: "Are you so choleric / With Eleanor for telling but her dream? / Next time I'll keep my dreams unto myself / And not be checked" (1.2.53-56).

Eleanor Cobham and her husband,
Humphrey, duke of Gloucester
(from The Benefactors' Book
of St. Albans Abbey,
BL MS Cotton Nero D VII
fol. 154r)
In Shakespeare's history play, Eleanor Cobham does not go mad like his Lady Macbeth, endlessly washing her hands because she can't get rid of a damned bloodstain. Instead, the duchess is brought down by her husband's political enemies, who use her and her ambition as a weapon against Gloucester. In the view of the duke of Buckingham, "She's tickled now; her fume needs no spurs; / She'll gallop far enough to her destruction" (1.3.154-5).

Although the history in this play is shaky, many of the details in Shakespeare's version of Eleanor Cobham's life do correspond to her biography, including the blame heaped upon her for being too "ambitious."* But I must admit that never thought much more about her until recently, decades after I first encountered her in Henry VI, part 2.

But there she was in Lauren Johnson's The Shadow King: The Life and Death of Henry VI, which I read not too long ago and which has inspired today's post.

Eleanor Cobham (her name is sometimes given in genealogical sources as "Eleanor de Cobham”) was the daughter of Sir Reginald (or "Reynold") de Cobham, third baron Cobham, a knight who fought under Henry V in France during the Hundred Years' War, notably taking part in the battle of Agincourt in the "retinue of the Earl of Arundel." He then captained a group of "lances" and "archers" in the duke of Gloucester's "own retinue," taking part in the siege of Cherbourg in 1418.

Eleanor's mother was Reginald Cobham's first wife, Eleanor Culpepper, the daughter of Sir Thomas Culpepper. The pair were married about the year 1400. Eleanor Culpepper gave birth to three or four or five or six children, depending on which source you consult; the most reliable information I have been able to find indicates that the couple had four children, two sons and two daughters. I can't find any firm dates for the birth of these children, nor any source that details their birth order. According to a brass rubbing in the north chapel of Lingfield church (Surrey) where she is buried, Eleanor Culpepper, the wife of Reginald Cobham, died on 5 November 1420.** (Reginald Cobham would marry Anne Bardolf, widow of Sir William Clifford, in July 1422.)

Eleanor Cobham's date of birth is sometimes given as 1400 or "about" 1400 or 1404 or 1410. Nothing is certain, except that she was born after her parents' marriage in 1400 and before Eleanor Culpepper's death in 1420 or 1422. So "about" 1400 seems to be as close as we can get.

Aside from her birth, probably at the family's seat, Starborough, in Kent, Eleanor Cobham makes no mark in the historical record until she appears as a lady-in-waiting in the household of Jacqueline of Bavaria, countess of Hainaut, Holland, and Zeeland. 

Jacqueline, the would-be duchess of Bavaria, had been married at the age of fourteen, widowed at the age of sixteen, remarried at the age of seventeen, and then subjected to a relentless series of challenges about the validity of her second marriage. She had also been fighting for her inheritance since the death of her father, rejected as a female heir by those who had taken an oath to support her, challenged as an heir by her uncle, and subject to the vagaries of the politics of the Hundred Years' War. 

Fed up with the ongoing dispute over her second marriage, Jacqueline herself finally declared it to be invalid in 1420. A year later, just twenty years old, she fled to England, seeking aid in her fight for her inheritance. She not only found support from King Henry V, she found a husband in his younger brother. At the age of twenty-one, Jacqueline married her "third" husband, Humphrey, duke of Gloucester.

Gloucester's decision to marry Jacqueline of Bavaria was widely judged to have been rash--in the words of a contemporary French chronicler, Jean de Wavrin, Jacqueline already had a husband "who was still living" when she "married" Gloucester in England. "[M]any people were much dismayed" at their marriage, Wavrin claimed, "and not without cause." Although the couple had sought an annulment of Jacqueline's second marriage, they had hastily "married" before receiving any papal decree that would allow them to do so. And Gloucester's actions had also hurt England, damaging the country's interests on the continent: "from this marriage resulted great evils and losses," Wavrin opined.

It was at some point after Jacqueline's arrival in England that Eleanor Cobham joined her retinue. This date may suggest something about Eleanor's birthdate--if she were born about the year 1400, she would have become a member of Jacqueline of Bavaria's household when she was around twenty years old, but if she were born as late as 1410, she would have only been eleven or twelve years old. Possible, but less likely.

The timing also suggests that Eleanor may have come to the English court soon after her mother's death, though how exactly she gained her place in Jacqueline's retinue is not clear. Perhaps her father's earlier association with Gloucester made it possible. However it happened, Eleanor Cobham was with Jacqueline of Bavaria and Humphrey of Gloucester when they returned to the continent in October of 1424--Gloucester was determined to gain control of Jacqueline's inheritance. 

But with the validity of his own marriage now being questioned--the status of Jacqueline's second marriage had still not been clarified--and with his campaign to reclaim Jacqueline's titles and territories not notably successful, by April of 1425 Humphrey of Gloucester was back in England, leaving Jacqueline of Bavaria behind--he had begun "to wax weary of her, by whom he never had profit, but loss," explained the sixteenth-century historian John Stowe, who relied on a variety of fiftteenth-century chronicles in compiling his Annals of England. And, when Gloucester left Jacqueline and returned to England, he had brought Eleanor Cobham with him. 

Once again, the chronicler Wavrin had a few words to say: 
. . . the said duke of Gloucester took back to the land of England Eleanor Cobham, a very noble damsel and of grand lineage, whom he afterwards married . . . , and who had come with lady Jacqueline, the duchess his wife, to the country of Hainault by way of diversion, as young damsels are desirous of seeing new countries and foreign regions, for she was also marvellously fair and pleasing, and showed herself of good disposition in various places.
Wavrin didn't quite have the details right. Eleanor Cobham was the daughter of a minor knight, not a "very noble damsel," much less of "grand lineage." Whether she was "marvellously fair and pleasing," who knows? But she must have been fair and pleasing enough to Humprey, duke of Gloucester, because at some point, either before or after he had ditched his wife on the continent, Eleanor Cobham became his mistress. 

Despite his liaison with Eleanor Cobham, in 1427 Gloucester briefly considered returning to the continent in aid of Jacqueline of Bavaria, this time at the head of a new force and with full parliamentary support. The death of Jacqueline's second husband in April of that year might have made it possible for Gloucester and Jacqueline to have regularized their union, and popular opinion seemed to support such a reunion. 

As C. Marie Harker notes, for example, an entry in a "London city letter book record" in March 1427 referred sympathetically to "the miserable state of the most noble Duchess of Gloucester," meaning Jacqueline of Bavaria, while a contemporary report on events in parliament in January 1428 not only recorded support for her but also antagonism to Eleanor Cobham:
Also in this Parliament, a certain woman of Stokes came to Parliament publicly, with whom [came] other women of London respectfully dressed, proffering letters to the Duke of Gloucester . . . and to certain other lords appearing in that same place. The effect of the letters was loudly critical of the Duke of Gloucester, who was unwilling to snatch away his wife from . . . affliction . . . , but, [his] love having cooled, [leaving her] thus to remain perpetually in servitude; and because he held publicly with him another woman, an adulteress.
But if in fact such letters were presented to Gloucester, urging him to return to Jacqueline of Bavaria and continue his military pursuits on her behalf, they were useless. In the same month, the pope finally issued his decision on Jacqueline of Bavaria's second marriage--it had been a valid union, and even though this husband was now dead, "any marriage contracted by the former [Jacqueline] in the lifetime of the latter [her second husband] was declared to be illegal.

Eleanor Cobham and Humphrey of Gloucester,
detail, rom The Benefactors' Book
of St. Albans Abbey
And that was that. It's not clear when or where, but at some point after January 1428 and before July 1431, Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, married Eleanor Cobham. 

(One more bit about Eleanor's age--if she had been born about the year 1400, she was about the same age as Jacqueline of Bavaria, who was born on 15 July 1401. If she became Gloucester's mistress at about the time she returned with him to England in 1425, she would have been about twenty-five to Gloucester's thirty-five. The age gap would obviously have been some twenty years if Eleanor were born in 1410, not out of the question, of course.)

Whatever the popular sentiment about her may have been, the "second" duchess of Gloucester seems to have been accepted by her husband's royal family. In July 1431, for example, by which time they had certainly married, Eleanor and the duke were honored as benefactors of the monastery of St. Albans (the occasion is commemorated in the Benefactors' Book, the illustrations from which are used in this essay--for the original, click here and go to fol. 154r). The next year, at the end of March in 1432, Eleanor became a lady of the Garter when she was rewarded with robes of the Garter of St. George. (Interestingly, Jacqueline, Humphrey's first duchess of Gloucester, had received these robes in 1423!)

Her status as duchess of Gloucester seems also to have been acknowledged later that year when, in May, the duke of Orleans, who had been an English hostage since the battle of Agincourt (1415), was transferred to the custody of Eleanor's father, Reginald Cobham. 

During these years, Gloucester also began to build in Greenwich on a site he had earlier acquired. In 1433, he "laid the foundations" of a "faire building" that he called "his Manor of Plesaunce." An old abbey on the site became known as "Bella Court," and a new tower of "rose-pink brick" was built alongside, intended to hold his library. The duke and duchess of Gloucester seemed to have spent much of their time at this, his "favorite residence," between 1432 and 1437, though Humphrey was called away by business at various times during these years. 

He was on the continent in 1433, for instance, conducting peace negotiations (England was still engaged in the Hundred Years' War). In 1436, he was back on the continent, this time at the head of an army. 

In between his various expeditions to the continent, Gloucester's personal situation changed dramatically--in 1435, after the death of his elder brother, the duke of Bedford, Gloucester became heir to the English throne--if anything were to happen to his fourteen-year-old nephew, Henry VI, the crown would fall to Humphrey, duke of Gloucester.

Rather than increasing Gloucester's popularity and ensuring his security, his status as royal heir aroused the jealousy of his political enemies. Even so, after returning from his foray on the continent in 1436, Gloucester had been greeted by Parliament with a vote of thanks, and in 1437, he and Eleanor receive lavish New Year's gifts from the king. In addition to the glittering jewels received by her husband, Eleanor was given a "brooch made in manner of a man garnished with a fair, great ball," the ornament set with five pearls, a diamond, and three "hangers," or pendants, each with rubies and pearls. In June of that year, Eleanor accompanied her husband to the funeral of his step-mother, Joan of Navarre, widow of Henry IV of England, after which the couple returned to Greenwich.

By the end of 1437, the sixteen-year-old Henry VI was considered old enough to no longer need a protectorship, and he had begun his personal rule. For a while, all seemed well enough for Eleanor and her husband. As late as 1439 the young king seemed to welcome his uncle's advice. In 1440, the duchess received another magnificent New Year's gift from the king: "a Garter of Gold, barred through with bars of Gold, and this reason made with Letters of Gold thereupon, hony soit qui mal y pense, and garnished with a flower of Diamonds on the Buckle, and two great Pearls and a Ruby on the Pendant and two great Pearls with twenty-six Pearls on the said Garter" (qtd. by James L. Gillespie, "Ladies of the Fraternity of St. George and of the Society of the Garter"). 

But it is clear that Gloucester's enemies were gaining ground in their attempts to deprive him of power. His stance against any kind of surrender in France weakened his position with the king and his more popular advisers, and by early 1440, Gloucester was losing influence with the king's Council. 

No longer so active at court or in France, Gloucester seems to have lived in a kind of retirement with Eleanor at Plesaunce. There Gloucester devoted himself to the "collection" and "study" of "rare manuscripts," and occupied much of his time with his "books of rare antiquity." (For an overview of Duke Humphrey's library, click here.) Among these books was a "semi-medical, semi-astrological work translated from the original Arabic"--a book that seems to have been given to him by Eleanor.
It is her interest in such a book--and her husband's continued position as heir to the English throne--that combined to propel the couple to a catastrophic end. 

By the time King Henry VI would marry in 1445, Eleanor Cobham had been brutally removed from the scene and Gloucester effectively isolated. By the time Henry's wife, Margaret of Anjou, at last gave birth to a son and heir in 1453, both Eleanor and Glloucester were gone, their deaths hastened by the ruthless actions of their political enemies.

Eleanor's fall was rapid. According to the account of a Latin chronicler, the duchess of Gloucester made a glorious entrance into the city of London on 28 June 1441, splendidly attired. She was welcomed by aldermen and the mayor, who escorted her over London Bridge and into the city. Her pride at this moment came right before her fall. She was, as the chronicler notes, "at the height of her fortune," altogether unmindful of the "fallible and deceptive Wheel of Fortune": "On, how wonderful is this change," he cries out, knowing that "this excellent lady" would soon find herself "destitute of all her worldly glory." 

That very night while at dinner, Eleanor received a message that Roger Bolingbroke, for some years a member of Gloucester's household and her personal clerk, had been arrested.*** With him was another cleric, Thomas Southwell, Eleanor's physician. According to a fifteenth-century chronicle, thee two men had been "taken as conspirators of the king's death," Bolingbroke charged with having attempted "to consume the king's person with necromancy" and Southwell suspected of having "said masses in forbidden and inconvenient places" with "certain instruments" that Bolingbroke, "a great and cunning man" practiced in necromancy, had supplied. A third priest was also accused, John Home, Eleanor's chaplain and the secretary for both Eleanor and her husband. 

Under examination about his activities by the king's Council on 12 July, Bolinbroke implicated the duchess of Gloucester--he confessed that "he wrought the said necromancy at the stirring and procurement of the said Eleanor, to know what should fall of her and to what estate she should come." 

That the duchess might be interested in the succession is not strange--the king, now nineteen years old, did not have a wife, much less a child, his uncle Gloucester was his heir. Eleanor's interest in knowing when and why the king might die was more problematic, especially when horoscopes, magical instrments, and necromancy were involved. The implication of all this was that Eleanor had sought to use witchcraft to bring about the king's death and thus to secure the crown for her husband.

In the mean time, after hearing of the arrests, Eleanor had taken sanctuary in Westminster, an action that only served to increase suspicions of her guilt, at least to contemporary chroniclers. Eleanor was "cited to appear" before "certain bishops of the king"--she could not claim the protection of sanctuary if she were accused of "articles of necromancy, of witchcraft or sorcery, of heresy, and of treason."

And so on 24 July Eleanor. duchess of Gloucester, was brought before the archbishops of Canterbury and York and the bishops of Salisbury "and others." On that day, she was "examined on twenty-eight points of felony and treason," and she asserted her innocence. Afterwards, she was allowed to return to sanctuary. She was called again for further examination on 25 July, when Bolingbroke appeared and reiterated his confession that all he had done had been at her "instance." She was the "cause," he said. 

At this point, the matter was turned over to a lay commission comprised of the mayor of London, aldermen, and commoners, as well as some of the aristocratic men who had participated in the Council's examination. This new examining body began a new set of inquiries, looking into "all manner of treasons, sorcery, and all other things that might in any way touch or concern harmfully the king's person." The danger in handing over the case to a lay power was great, for it could exact a death penalty.

These further explorations of the "plots" involving Bolingbroke, Southwell, Home, and the duchess of Gloucester uncovered the activities of Margery Jourdemayne, "the witch of Eye," a woman who lived near the manor of Eye, belonging to the abbey of Westminster, and whose "sorcery and witchcraft the said Dame Eleanor had long time used." It seems Margery had gotten into trouble for witchcraft ten years earlier, when, from November 1430 until May 1432 she was in royal custody at Windsor for her use of sorcery. She had been released only on the condition that she not involve herself any further in such activities.

The evidence uncovered by the commission indicated that Bolingbroke, Southwell, and Home were all involved in the necromantic treason--they had used the "instruments" of sorcery in order to learn when Henry VI would die. But they had acted on Eleanor's behalf--she was the one who wanted to know when the king would die and, thus, when her husband would become king.

Already examined, Margery Jourdemayne had offered different reasons for Eleanor's interest in the witch's services. She claimed Eleanor had sought love magic--Eleanor wanted potions to bring her Gloucester's love and to ensure that he would marry her. (Various accounts of the examinations of Eleanor and of Margery indicate that they had had dealings for some ten years--if Eleanor had been seeking a love potion from Margery, it must have been before Margery was taken into custody in November 1430, perhaps helping to clarify the date of Eleanor and Gloucester's marriage.)

A contemporary chronicler claimed that Eleanor pretended to be sick at this point, hoping to be returned to sanctuary. According to this account, Eleanor thought that she would be able to "steal away privily by water" from Westminster Abbey and make her escape. But if she had any such hopes, they were foiled--on 9 August, Henry VI ordered her to appear before the archbishop of Canterbury on 21 October. In the mean time, she was to be held in Leeds Castle.****

Two months later, on 21 October, Eleanor, duchess of Gloucester was back in London, hearing once more the articles of "sorcery, witchcraft, and treason" with which she had been charged. Over the course of her examinations, which continued on 23 October, again facing her accusers, she reiterated her innocence against all accusations of treason, though she did admit to having encouraged Bolingbroke and Southwell and to having consulted Margery Jourdemayne. 

I find her admissions quite touching. When confronted by Bolingbroke and his "instruments," Eleanor "withnayed" (denied) having used them against the king: "it was not so," she said. But she did consult with Margery Jourdemayne: "she did it forto have borne a child by hir lord, the duke of Gloucestre." After being convicted "of the said articles," she was offered the chance to "speak against" those who accused her. Eleanor declined, submitting herself "to the correction of the bishops." 

Those who were charged with her--Bolingbroke, Southwell, Home, and Jourdemayne--were also convicted. Fortunately for him, Thomas Southwell died on 26 October in the Tower before his execution could take place--one chronicler says he died "for sorrow," but he may also have committed suicide. Margery Jourdemayne was burned as a witch at Smithfield on 27 October. Roger Bolingbroke was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn on 18 November. John Home was pardoned on the same day--evidently he was judged to have been more of a witness to all the treasonable activity rather than a participant.

As for Eleanor Cobham. On 27 October she "abjured" (renounced) the "articles" with which she had been charged. On 6 November, she was "forcibly divorced" from Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, and three days later, she was judged to be guilty of sorcery and witchcraft but not of heresy and treason. 

The Penance of Eleanor,
E. A. Abbey (1900)
The archbishop of Canterbury delivered her sentence: she was to perform a public penance. On three separate days, "with a meek and demure countenance" and bearing a taper, she was to walk bare-headed through London. On 13 November she was to walk from Temple Bridge to St. Paul's; on 15 November, she was to walk from the Swan Stairs on Thames Street to Christchurch, Aldgate; on 17 November, she was to walk from Queenhithe to St. Michael's in Cornhill. The tapers she carried were to be "offered up" on each church's altar. According to one contemporary account, she performed her penance "meekly," and "the more part of the people had on her great compassion." (The Latin chronicler saw a potent lesson in Eleanor's prescribed penance: she had entered the city of London in pomp and circumstance, only "a short time afterwards" having to suffer humbling "through the streets and streets of the same city."

While witnesses to Eleanor Cobham's acts of penance may have had compassion for her and her great fall, her husband's enemies did not. In addition to her forced divorce and her penance,"she was committed to ward" again "for all her  life after." Her "pride, false covetousness, and lechery were the cause of her confusion," sniffed one chronicler. "Other things might be written of this Dame Eleanor," he added, "the which at reverence of nature and of womanhood shall not be rehearsed."

Whether or not Eleanor Cobham's involvement with sorcery was regarded as a continuing threat to the king's life, she was a valuable hostage. "As a prisoner, she could still guarantee Duke Humphrey's good behaviour," notes historian Ralph A. Griffiths; "accordingly, elaborate measures were taken to ensure that she remained safely incarcerated for the rest of her life, in the custody of royal Household officials."

Eleanor Cobham, once duchess of Gloucester, was moved from location to location over the course of the next decade: Cheshire Castle, Kenilworth Castle, Peel Castle, on the Isle of Man (perhaps), and Beaumaris Castle, in Wales. 

It's not clear where Eleanor was being held at the time Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, was charged with treason. In February 1447, he was summoned to a meeting of parliament to be held at Bury St. Edmonds--more than one chronicler claimed he had set out with a large but not "extraordinary" retinue for a man of his status, "hoping that he might procure for his imprisoned wife." Instead, he was arrested for treason. Before he could be tried of this crime, he died three days after his arrest, on 23 February 1447. Rumors circulated that he had been murdered, but historians believe he likely died of a stroke.***** 

Even after Gloucester's death, Eleanor Cobham was not released. Instead, on 3 March 1447, Parliament deprived her of any "claim to dowry after the recent death of Duke Humphrey, and she continued to be excluded from general pardons thereafter."

She lived for five more years. Eleanor Cobham, once duchess of Gloucester, died at Beaumaris Castle on 7 July 1452.

As an interesting note, Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, had two illegitimate children. A son, Arthur, was with Gloucester when he was arrested in 1447 and was condemned for treason along with his father, but he was pardoned. Aside from his name and the fact that he was arrested and pardoned in 1447, nothing more is known of him. Gloucester also had a daughter, Antigone, born before 1424. She married twice, had three children, and died c. 1450. (She has descendants today, including Sophie Rhys-Jones, duchess of Edinburgh, wife of Prince Edward.)

There has been much speculation about whether Eleanor Cobham was the mother of these two children, but that is unlikely. While it's not known when Antigone was born, she gave birth to a child in 1436, making 1424 the earliest reasonable date for her own birth. If these two were his children with Eleanor, Gloucester might have had them legitimized after his marriage to their mother (as his grandfather, John of Gaunt, had his children with Katherine Swynford legitimized after their marriage). And if Eleanor had given birth to these two children, why would she having been using a love potion so that she could have conceived Gloucester's child?

*The phrase I've used as the subtitle for this post, "beautiful, intelligent, and ambitious," comes from G. L. Harriss's entry on Eleanor Cobham in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 

**According to G. L. Harriss's ODNB entry, Eleanor Culpepper died in 1422. Genealogical books by Douglas Richardson--Plantagenet Ancestry and Magna Carta Ancestry--also indicate that the year of Eleanor Culpepper's death is 1422, but I cannot find any source for that date. I am relying here on the date of death on the brass rubbing in Lingfield church.

***As Ralph A. Griffiths notes in "The Trial of Eleanor Cobham: An Episode in the Fall of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester" (1991), "Every fifteenth-century chronicle written in England" covers the events of the extraordinary events, at least one of which containing what must have been an eye-witness account. But their chronology of these accounts is "confused." I've relied here on the chronology offered by Griffiths, though I have considered as well the series of events as dated and told by K. H. Vickers, Duke Humprey's biographer, to which I've linked in this post many times. Jessica Freeman's much more recent essay on Margery Jourdemayne is also extremely detailed on the sequence of events (and far less filled with Griffiths' notable misogyny).

****The place of Eleanor's detention is notable. In 1419, the widowed Joan of Navarre--the second wife of Henry IV of England and thus step-mother to Henry V and to Humphrey, duke of Gloucester--had been accused of witchcraft. Her confessor claimed she had used witchcraft to try to kill the king. Joan was imprisoned, first in Pevensey Castle (from December 1419 to March 1420) before being moved to Leeds Castle, where she remained until July 1422. Although accused, Joan of Navarre was never tried, though her wealth was confiscated--after she was released by Henry V, just weeks before his death, her property was restored to her. She died in 1437--her funeral attended by Gloucester and his wife, who would later be imprisoned in the same castle as Joan of Navarre.

*****Although Gloucester never attempted to break Eleanor out of prison, as was feared by some, and never had a chance to ask for her pardon when summoned to Parliament in 1447, if that was what he was hoping, he had not forgotten her. Three years before his death, he arranged for masses to be said not only for his soul but for hers. After his death, it was claimed that he had died intestate, though references to the duke's will had been frequently made--it seems as if the document may have been made to disappear not only so that his great wealth became "plunder which fell to the King on his uncle's death" but also to obviate any claim Eleanor Cobham might make to a dower. This is underscored by Parliament's special act to deprive her of any claim on Gloucester's estate after his death.

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