Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Audley, James de (1316?-1369)
AUDLEY, or AUDELEY, JAMES de (1316?–1369), one of the original knights or founders of the order of the Garter, was, according to the best authorities, the eldest son of Sir James Audeley, of Stretton Audeley, Oxon, who served in the expedition to Gascony in 1324 and to Scotland in 1327, and Eva, daughter of Sir John Clavering, and widow, first, of Thomas de Audeley and, secondly, of Sir Thomas Ufford. In 1346 letters of protection were granted him to proceed beyond the seas upon an expedition to France in the retinue of Edward III and the Black Prince. In 1350 he took part in the naval battle with the Spaniards off Sluys. After the expiration of the truce in 1354, the Black Prince advanced on Bordeaux, accompanied by Sir James Audeley and his brother, Sir Peter. At this time Sir James was in constant attendance on the prince; he distinguished himself by many brave exploits, particularly in the taking of Chastiel Sacra by assault, and at the battle of Poitiers on 19 Sept. 1356. According to Froissart, Sir James had made a vow that if ever he was engaged in any battle in company with the king or any of his sons, he 'would be the foremost in the attack and the best combatant on his side, or die in the attempt.' Having obtained the prince's permission, he posted himself with his four esquires in front of the English army. In his eagerness for the fray he advanced so far that he engaged the Lord Arnold d'Audreghen, marshal of France, whom he severely wounded, and whose battalion was finally routed. So energetic was Sir James, that Froissart says of him that 'he never stopped to make any one his prisoner that day, but was the whole time employed in fighting and following the enemy.' He was severely wounded in the body, head, and face, but, covered with blood as he was, he continued to fight as long as he was able. At last, overcome with exhaustion, he was carried out of the battle by his four esquires.
Upon the Black Prince inquiring for him after the fighting had ceased, he was taken on a litter to the royal tent. There the prince told him that he had been the bravest knight on his side, and granted him an annuity of 500 marks. On his return to his own tent. Sir James made over the royal gift to his four esquires (Dutton of Dutton, Delves of Doddington, Foulehurst of Crewe, and Hawkestone of Wainehill). Hearing of this generous conduct, the Black Prince confirmed the grant to the esquires, and granted to Sir James a further pension of 600 marks. In 1359 Sir James was one of the principal commanders of a fresh expedition to France. In the next year he carried the fortress of Chaven, in Brittany, by assault, and was present with the king when the treaty of peace was signed at Calais. During the expedition of the Black Prince into Spain, in the year 1362, Sir James was appointed governor of Acquitaine. In 1369 we find him filling the important office of great seneschal of Poitou.
After taking part with the Earl of Cambridge in the capture of the town of La Roche-sur-Yon in that year, he went to reside at Fontenay-le-Comte, where, in the words of Froissart, 'he was attacked with so severe a disorder that it ended his life.' His obsequies were performed in the city of Poitiers, and were attended by the prince in person. On the foundation of the order of the Garter in 1344, Sir James was instituted as one of the 'first founders,' as they were described on their plates of arms in St. George's Chapel, Windsor. His stall was the eleventh on the prince's side; his plate of arms, though in existence in 1569, has long since disappeared. Sir Thomas Granson succeeded to the stall which became vacant on Audeley's death.