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Basset, Gilbert (DNB00)

BASSET, GILBERT (d. 1241), baronial leader, was the eldest son of Alan Basset [q. v.], baron of Wycombe. About 1231 he appears to have negotiated a truce with Llewellyn of Wales on behalf of Henry III. Alan Basset appears to have died in 1232, and Gilbert succeeded him in his barony. According to Dugdale (Baronage, i. 384), in 16 Henry III, 1231–2, he was made governor of St. Briavels Castle and the Forest of Dean. The same authority tells us that he married Isabel, daughter of William de Ferrers and niece to the Earl of Pembroke—a fact which helps to explain his intimate relations with the Earls Marshall. Gilbert Basset seems at once to have joined the popular party, then headed by Richard, Earl Marshall. When the barons were summoned to Oxford (June 1233), and refused to meet the king's foreign relations, he took a very prominent part in their councils; so much so that, according to Matthew Paris, Henry's wrath was specially kindled against him. For this conduct Gilbert forfeited a certain manor that he had received from King John, and on claiming it back from the king was called a traitor, and threatened with hanging unless he left the court. At the same time Richard Suard, Gilbert's nephew by marriage, was seized by the king's orders and detained captive—presumably as a hostage for his uncle's conduct. When, on the advice of Stephen Segrave, Henry summoned Gilbert Basset and the confederated nobles to meet him at Gloucester (August 1233) and they refused to come, they were promptly outlawed, and orders given for the destruction of the towns, castles, and parks belonging to them. In retaliation for this we find Basset and Suard setting fire to Stephen Segrave's villa of Alconbury, though the king himself was then staying at Huntingdon, some four miles distant. After the earl marshal's death Henry received both Basset and Suard into his favour, and gave them the kiss of peace towards the end of May 1234. At the same time their estates were restored to them, and when, a few days later, Gilbert, the new Earl Marshall, was installed in his brother's office, we read that the king received Herbert de Burgh, Gilbert Basset, and Richard Suard amongst the number of his most familiar councillors. There does not seem to be any evidence that Gilbert Basset was estranged from the king when Richard Suard was once more banished (1236); and, indeed, early in the next year he appears as distinctly on the king's side, when William de Raleigh demanded an aid from the barons. On this occasion the rashness of his speech drew down a well-merited rebuke on his head from one of the magnates present (see Matthew Paris (Rolls Ser.), iii. 381–2). In the same year Basset's name appears as having taken part in a great tournament, held at Lent, of north against south (‘Norenses et Australes’), in which the south won the day, but not before the contest had changed into a real battle. All the influence of the legate Otho was required to reconcile the contending parties. Four years later (Easter, 1241), Gilbert Basset figures as one of the two chief promoters of a grand tournament, which it was proposed to hold, of strangers against Englishmen. This engagement was, however, forbidden to take place by the king's orders. In the autumn of the same year Basset met with his death. While going out to hunt, his horse tripped on a root and threw its rider, who was taken up in a kind of paralysis (‘dissipatis ossibus et nervis dissolutis’), from which he never recovered. Before the end of August his only son, Gilbert, also died, leaving the Basset estates to devolve upon his brother Fulk [q. v.] There does not appear to be any authority for Collins's incidental statement that Gilbert Basset was justiciary (Brydges's Collins's Baronage, iii. 3).

[Matthew Paris (Rolls Ser.), iii. 292, 404, &c., iv. 88, 89; Dugdale's Baronage, i. 384; Foss's Judges; Rymer's Fœdera, i. 319.]

T. A. A.