Talbot, John (1388?-1453) (DNB00)
TALBOT, JOHN, first Earl of Shrewsbury (1388?–1453), was second son of Richard Talbot of Goodrich Castle in the march of Wales, fourth baron Talbot [see Talbot, Richard de, second Baron Talbot], by Ankaret, sole heir (1383) of the last lord Strange of Blackmere, close to Whitchurch in Shropshire, in whose right he had been summoned to parliament during his father's lifetime as Lord Talbot of Blackmere. A younger brother, Richard [q. v.], who became archbishop of Dublin, is separately noticed. Talbot's elder brother, Gilbert, the fifth baron (b. 1383?), commanded with some success against Glendower, was made justice of Chester and knight of the Garter, and under Henry V captain-general of the marches of Normandy; he died before Rouen in 1419. On the death two years later (13 Dec. 1421) of his only child Ankaret, her uncle John succeeded to the family honours. The year of Talbot's birth seems uncertain, but he cannot, as often stated, have been eighty years old when he fell at Castillon (Beaumont, v. 264). He is described as thirty years of age on succeeding to the barony in 1421 (Dugdale, i. 328), but, if so, he held a Welsh command before he was fifteen, and sat in the House of Lords (jure uxoris) before he was twenty (Wylie, iii. 111; Complete Peerage, vii. 136). This would point to a date not later than 1388 (cf. Hunter, Hallamshire, p. 62).
He married apparently before October 1404 (Wylie, iii. 111) his mother's stepdaughter, Maud Neville (b. 1391?), only child of Thomas Neville, by his first wife, Joan Furnivall, in whose right he held the barony of Furnivall. Maud brought her husband the great fee of Hallamshire, with its centre at Sheffield, and in her right he was summoned to parliament from 1409 to 1421 as Lord Furnivall or Lord Talbot of Hallamshire. On his niece's death in 1421 he succeeded to the baronies of Talbot (of Goodrich) and Strange of Blackmere, and to the Irish honour of Wexford, inherited through his ancestress Joan de Valence.
Talbot was deputy constable of Montgomery Castle for his father-in-law from December 1404, succeeding to the post on Furnivall's death in March 1407, and taking part in the siege of Aberystwith in the same year (Wylie, u.s.). Two years later he helped his elder brother to capture Harlech (ib. iii. 265; Tyler, i. 241). During the Lollard panic, shortly after the accession of Henry V, Talbot was imprisoned in the Tower (16 Nov. 1413). But the conjecture that he was a sympathiser with his old companion-in-arms Oldcastle seems hardly consistent with his being commissioned shortly after to inquire into the conduct of the Shropshire Lollards (Dugdale, i. 328; Doyle, iii. 309). Henry soon released him, and made him (February 1414) lieutenant of Ireland. Landing at Dalkey on 10 Nov., Talbot lost no time in invading and overawing Leix, and fortified the bridge of Athenry (Gilbert, p. 305). He brought some of the septs to submission and captured Donat Macmurrogh. Apparently popular at first with the Anglo-Irish, complaints of the misgovernment of his officers were made to the king in 1417, and he ran heavily into debt (Ord. Privy Council, ii. 219; Marleburrough, p. 28). Janico Dartas, a former squire of Richard II, accused him of withholding certain Irish revenues for which he held a royal grant (Rot. Parl. iv. 161; Gesta Henrici V, p. 126).
Called away to the French war in 1419, leaving his brother Richard as deputy, Talbot was present at the siege of Melun in 1420, and that of Meaux in 1421 (ib. pp. 144, 279). Shortly after Henry VI's accession a long-standing quarrel with his powerful Irish kinsman, the Earl of Ormonde, reached a climax; the English in Ireland were divided into armed Ormonde and Talbot factions; each charged the other with paying blackmail to the Irish. Talbot denounced his adversary to the royal council, but with the consent of parliament the process was stopped (October 1423) on the ground of the consanguinity of both parties to the king and the ‘scandals and inconveniences’ which might result in both countries (Gilbert, p. 311; Rot. Parl. iv. 199). In the same parliament the commons petitioned the crown for redress of the grievances of certain inhabitants of Herefordshire who had been carried off, with their goods, to Goodrich Castle by Talbot and others and held to ransom. Talbot had to find surety to keep the peace, and a judicial inquiry was promised (ib. iv. 254, cf. p. 275).
Ormonde was not the only peer with whom Talbot had a quarrel. He carried on a fierce dispute for parliamentary precedence with his kinsman, Lord Grey of Ruthin. Both were descendants of the earls of Pembroke, and both called themselves lords of Wexford, of which Talbot was in actual possession (ib. iv. 312; Complete Peerage, iv. 180).
On the death of the Earl of March in January 1425 Talbot, who fought at Verneuil and was given the Garter in 1424, again became royal lieutenant in Ireland. He surprised and held to ransom a number of northern chiefs who had come to Trim for an interview with March, and obtained a promise from the O'Connors and O'Byrnes not to prey on the Anglo-Irish any longer. He gave place to Ormonde in the same year (Gilbert, p. 320).
In March 1427 Talbot accompanied the regent Bedford to France, and helped the Earl of Warwick to take (8 May) Pontorson on the Breton border, of which he was made captain (Cosneau, pp. 134, 148). He joined the force which laid siege to Montargis, and was driven off (September) by La Hire and Dunois (ib. p. 145). Capturing Laval in Maine in March 1428, he soon after recovered Le Mans, which La Hire had surprised, and Bedford made him (December) governor of Anjou and Maine and captain of Falaise (Ramsay, i. 380). At the siege of Orleans Talbot was posted in the Bastille St. Loup (east of the town), stormed on 4 May 1429. His fame was already so widely spread that Joan of Arc seems to have thought at first that he commanded the besiegers (ib. i. 292; Procès, iii. 4–5). When they raised the siege and retired on Meung and Beaugency, Talbot proceeded to Janville to meet Sir John Fastolf [q. v.], who was bringing reinforcements from Paris ((Cosneau, p. 170). Fastolf, hearing of the fall of Jargeau and siege of Beaugency, proposed to retreat; but Talbot swore that he would attempt to save the latter town if he had to go alone. Finding the French on the alert, they fell back to Meung (17 June), and the news which reached them next morning of the evacuation of Beaugency and advance of the French caused them to retreat northwards towards Patay and Janville. The enemy came up with them some two or three miles south of Patay. La Hire's impetuous charge threw the English into hopeless confusion before they could be drawn up in battle array. Talbot made some stand, but was surrounded and captured by the archers of Pothon de Saintrailles (ib. p. 171; Ramsay, i. 397). In the parliament of the following September there was talk of Talbot's great services and the ‘unreasonable and importable’ ransom demanded, and the crown expressed an intention of contributing ‘right notably’ if an exchange could not be effected (Rot. Parl. iv. 338). A public subscription seems to have been started (Hunter, p. 63). But he did not recover his freedom until July 1433, when he was exchanged for Saintrailles himself, who had been taken in 1431 (Fœdera, x. 553; cf. Hunter, p. 63). He at once joined the Duke of Burgundy in his triumphant campaign in the north-east, and was subsequently appointed captain of Coutances and Pont de l'Arche (Beaucourt, ii. 47; Stevenson, ii. 541). Bringing over a new army in the following summer (1434), he took Joigny on his way to Paris, and, penetrating up the Oise, captured Beaumont, Creil, Pont Ste.-Maxence, Crépy, and Clermont. He was rewarded with the county of Clermont (Cosneau, p. 212). Before leaving England he had accepted 1,000l. in full acquittance of his claims on the government, describing himself as ‘in great necessity’ (Ord. Privy Council, iv. 202). In September he became captain of Gisors. Just a year later he helped to recover St.-Denis, and his reconquest of the revolted pays de Caux early in 1436 did much to save Normandy for the English (Beaucourt, iii. 6). Talbot was now captain of Rouen, lieutenant of the king between the Seine and the Somme, and marshal of France. With Lord Scales he dislodged La Hire and Saintrailles from Gisors, which had been lost shortly after Paris. In January 1437 Talbot, Salisbury, and Fauconberg captured Ivry, and on 12 Feb. effected a skilful night surprise of Pontoise, after which they menaced Beauvais. Talbot assured communications between Pontoise and Normandy by taking several places in the Vexin, and Paris itself was threatened (Cosneau, pp. 266–8). He and Scales foiled an attempted diversion against Rouen (Beaucourt, iii. 11; cf. Cosneau, p. 241). Later in the year he helped to recover Tancarville, and by a dash across the Somme saved Crotoy from the Burgundians. In 1438 he retook some posts in Caux, but failed to relieve Montargis. Early in 1439, being now governor and lieutenant-general of France and Normandy (Doyle, iii. 310), Talbot ‘rode’ with the Earl of Somerset into Santerre, and in the summer threw reinforcements into the ‘Market’ of Meaux. He assisted in driving off Richemont from before Avranches in December (Cosneau, p. 300). The capture of Harfleur (October 1440) was largely his work, and he was appointed captain of that town with Lisieux and Montivilliers. In the summer of 1441 he five times ‘refreshed’ Pontoise, which Charles VII was besieging. Richemont offered battle, but Talbot thought it prudent to give him the slip by a night march. In the winter the Duke of York sent him home for reinforcements. He came back an earl, having been created by letters patent, dated 20 May 1442, Earl of Salop (Rot. Parl. vi. 428); though the title was taken from the county, not the city, Talbot and his successors always called themselves earls of Shrewsbury. Now constable of France, he recovered Conches, and in November laid siege to Dieppe. But some months before its relief in August 1443, York sent him to England to protest against the division of the command in France. He returned to Normandy; but both sides were now weary of the war, and in 1444 a truce was concluded at Tours.
Next spring Shrewsbury and his wife took part in the home-bringing of Queen Margaret. Released from his foreign toils, he was for the third time sent (12 March 1445) to govern Ireland, and created (17 July 1446) Earl of Waterford, Lord of Dungarvan, and steward of Ireland. He rebuilt Castle Carberry to protect his lands in Meath, captured several chieftains, and enacted that those who would be taken for Englishmen should not use a beard upon the upper lip alone, and should shave it at least once a fortnight (Gilbert, p. 349). The Irish declared that ‘there came not from the time of Herod any one so wicked in evil deeds.’ At the end of 1447 Shrewsbury resigned the reins to his brother Richard, and in July 1448 was sent as lieutenant of Lower Normandy and captain of Falaise to assist Somerset in France. Exactly a year later he made an unsuccessful attempt to recover Verneuil. Rouen capitulating on 29 Oct. 1449, Shrewsbury was handed over as one of the hostages for the surrender of Honfleur and other towns to Charles VII. Honfleur standing out, he was sent to Dreux, and kept a prisoner for nine months. But on 10 July 1450 his release was made a condition of the surrender of Falaise, Charles stipulating only that he should visit Rome, where the jubilee was being celebrated, before returning to England (Stevenson, ii. ; cf. Will. Worc. ii. ).
In November 1451 Shrewsbury was made governor of Portsmouth, and two months later (7 Feb. 1452) constable of Porchester. The French threatening Calais, he was appointed (in March) captain of the fleet, and engaged (July) to serve at sea for three months with three thousand fighting men (Beaucourt, v. 54, 264). But the abandonment of the expedition against Calais, and the arrival (August) of envoys from Gascony to solicit intervention, decided the government of Henry VI to make a great effort to recover that province, and Shrewsbury was sent out as lieutenant of Aquitaine. His powers (dated 1 and 2 Sept.) were very wide, extending to the right of pardoning all offences and of coining money (Fœdera, xi. 313). Sailing with a considerable army, Shrewsbury landed about 17 Oct. in the Médoc near Soulac in a creek now silted up, but still called ‘l'anse à l'Anglot,’ and at once marched upon Bordeaux. Olivier de Coëtivy, the seneschal of Guienne, would have resisted, but the city rose, a gate was opened (20 Oct.), and he found himself a prisoner (Ramsay, ii. 153; cf. for the dates Ribadieu, p. 272, d'Escouchy, iii. 429). In a brief space the whole Bordelais, save Fronsac, Blaye, and Bourg, returned to its old allegiance. In the following March, 1453, Shrewsbury, reinforced by troops brought out by his son Viscount Lisle and Lords Camoys and Moleyns, opened the campaign by the capture of Fronsac. But his progress was arrested by the approach of three converging French armies; the Counts of Clermont and Foix, with two army corps, marched from the south into the Médoc, the king commanded a northern army on the Charente, while Marshals Jalognes and de Lohéac delivered a central attack down the Dordogne valley. Shrewsbury, according to one account, first marched out to Martignas with a view of giving battle to Clermont and Foix, but retired before their superior forces to Bordeaux (Beaucourt, v. 269). Meanwhile the army of the Dordogne, with artillery under the famous Jean Bureau, captured Chalais and Gensac; Gensac fell on 8 July, and five or six days later siege was laid to Castillon, some twelve miles further down the river on its right bank, and commanding the direct road to Bordeaux. Shrewsbury hurried to its assistance, leaving his foot and artillery to follow. Reaching Castillon in the early morning of 17 July 1453, he at once drove out the French archers from the abbey above the town; they retreated with some loss to the large entrenched camp, a mile and a quarter eastwards between the Dordogne and its little tributary the Lidoire, with its front covered by the latter, where their main body was stationed. After refreshing his men in the abbey, Shrewsbury, in a brigandine covered with red velvet and riding a little hackney, led them out against this position. Arrived there, he ordered them to dismount, but retained his own horse in consideration of his age. To attack without artillery a moated and palisaded camp defended (if we may credit Æneas Sylvius) by three hundred pieces of ordnance was foolhardy enough. But the impetuous charge of the English and Gascons shouting ‘Talbot, Talbot, St. George,’ left the issue long doubtful. Shrewsbury ordered his men to protect themselves against the enemy's fire by interlocking their bucklers. His standard was fixed for a moment on the rampart and the entrance of the camp carried. But this advantage was again lost, and before it could be recovered a body of Breton lances concealed on the heights of Mont d'Horable to the north threw themselves on the flank of the wearied English, and Shrewsbury, already wounded in the face, was struck in the leg by a shot from a culverin and dismounted. His men began to fly, and the French descending on the little group around him, one of them thrust a sword through his body without recognising his victim. His son Lisle, whom he had vainly entreated to save himself (Æneas Sylvius), fell by his side. Gashed and trampled under foot, Shrewsbury's body was so disfigured that his own herald recognised it next day only by the absence of a tooth (D'Escouchy, ii. 43). It was conveyed to England and interred in the old burial-place of the Stranges in the parish church of Whitchurch, though to this day the peasants of Périgord believe him to be buried in a mound between the camp and the Dordogne which, from a chapel that surmounted it till the Revolution, is called ‘la chapelle de Talbot’ (Ribadieu, p. 313). Hunter (p. 64) indeed says that his remains were buried in France, and not brought to England until many years after by his grandson, Sir Gilbert Talbot of Grafton, but he gives no authority for the statement. Over his remains was erected a fine canopied monument enclosing his effigy in full armour, with the mantle of the order of the Garter, and his feet resting on a talbot dog; having suffered greatly from the ravages of time and the fall of the church in 1711, it was completely restored by his descendant, Countess Brownlow, in 1874. The inscription gives the wrong date 7 July. At the rebuilding of the church an urn containing his heart embalmed was discovered.
Shrewsbury was a sort of Hotspur, owing his reputation more to dash and daring than to any true military genius. ‘Ducum Angliæ omnium strenuissimus et audacissimus,’ wrote the chronicler Basin (i. 192). In all his long career as a commander he fought only two actions which deserve to be called battles; Patay was a rout from the beginning, and Castillon a miscalculation. The last general of the school of Edward III who fought abroad was overthrown significantly enough by artillery, the new arm which the French had recently developed. Shrewsbury's courageous perseverance and ubiquitous activity throughout an unusually protracted military career, and the forlorn attempt of the valiant old warrior to stem the disasters of his country, made a deep impression upon both nations. The legends of Guienne still keep green the memory of ‘le roi Talabot’ (Ribadieu, p. 282).
Besides the effigy on his tomb, several characteristic portraits of Shrewsbury have been preserved. Almost all show a strongly marked face with aquiline nose and commanding eye. One is engraved in Strutt's ‘Regal Antiquities,’ p. 85, and again in Doyle's ‘Official Baronage,’ from MS. Reg. 15 E. vi., a book presented by Shrewsbury to Margaret of Anjou; another from the same source is in Strutt's ‘Dress and Habits of England,’ plate cxv.; a larger one was reproduced from a manuscript belonging to Louise of Savoy by André Thevet in ‘Les Vrais Pourtraits et Vies des hommes illustres,’ Paris, 1584, and has since been re-engraved in Ribadieu's ‘Histoire de la Conquête de la Guyenne,’ Bordeaux, 1866. The sixteenth-century engraver has included a representation of Talbot's sword said to have been found in the Dordogne about 1575; it bore the inscription ‘Sum Talboti pro vincere inimico meo, 1443.’ A quaint picture of Shrewsbury in his tabard, now in the College of Arms, is stated to have been removed from his widow's tomb in Old St. Paul's before the fire. It is engraved in Lodge's ‘Illustrations’ and (from a copy at Castle Ashby) in Pennant's ‘Journey to London,’ along with a companion portrait of Shrewsbury's second wife from the same collection.
Shrewsbury was twice married. By his first wife, Maud, daughter of Thomas Neville, lord Furnivall, whom he espoused before March 1407, perhaps before October 1404, he had three sons: John [q. v.], who succeeded him as second earl and is separately noticed; Thomas, born in Ireland on 19 June 1416, died on 10 Aug. in the same year (Marleburrough, p. 26); and Christopher of Treeton, who was slain at the battle of Northampton in 1460. He had at least one daughter, Joan, who shortly after 25 July 1457 became the fourth wife of James, lord Berkeley (d. 1463), and, surviving him, married, about 1487, Edmund Hungerford (Complete Peerage, i. 330). Shrewsbury married secondly, in or before 1433, Margaret (cf. Stevenson, i. 444, 458), eldest daughter of Richard Beauchamp, fifth earl of Warwick [q. v.], by his first wife, Elizabeth, only child of Thomas, lord Berkeley (d. 1417). She and her husband continued her mother's resistance to the succession of the heir male, James Berkeley, to the barony and lands of Berkeley; they imprisoned his third wife, Isabella Mowbray, at Gloucester, where she died in 1452. Shrewsbury in the same year carried off their second son as a hostage to Guienne; he perished at Castillon. His own eldest son by Margaret, John, who, in consideration of his mother being eldest coheiress of the Lords Lisle, had been created Baron (1444) and Viscount (1451) Lisle, likewise fell in that battle (Complete Peerage, v. 114). They had two younger sons—Humphrey, marshal of Calais, who died at Mount Sinai in 1492; and Lewis—and two daughters, Eleanor (d. 1468?), who was alleged by Richard III to have been ‘married and troth-plight’ to Edward IV before his marriage with Elizabeth Woodville, and became the wife of Sir Thomas Boteler, son of Lord Sudeley; and Elizabeth, who married the last Mowbray duke of Norfolk, and died in 1507 (Dugdale i. 330; Testamenta Vetusta, pp. 409, 471; Complete Peerage, vi. 43, vii. 297). Margaret became reconciled with Lord Berkeley a few days before his death in 1463, but apparently renewed her claim against his son, who after her death (14 June 1467) slew her grandson, the second Viscount Lisle, in the combat at Nibley Green on 20 March 1470 (Smyth, Lives of the Berkeleys, ed. Maclean, 1885, ii. 57–75; Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucester Archæological Society, iii. 305). From Shrewbury's will, dated 1 Sept. 1452, it would appear that he thought himself entitled to the ‘honour of Warwick,’ which had gone to Richard Neville (the ‘king-maker’), husband of his wife's younger half-sister (Hunter, p. 64). An illegitimate son of Talbot fell at Castillon.[Rotuli Parliamentorum; Ordinances of the Privy Council, ed. Nicolas; Rymer's Fœdera, original ed.; Stevenson's Letters and Papers illustrative of the Wars of the English in France and the Chronique of Wavrin, both in Rolls Ser.; Gesta Henrici V, ed. English Historical Society; Æneas Sylvius's Historia Europæ in the Scriptores rerum Germanicarum of Freher, 1600–11; Chronicles of Basin, Monstrelet, Gruel, and Mathieu d'Escouchy with the Procès de Jeanne d'Arc, published by the Société de l'Histoire de France; the chronicles by the two Cousinots, ed. Vallet de Viriville; Henry Marleburrough's Chronicle of Ireland, Dublin, 1809; Beltz's Memorials of the Order of the Garter; Cosneau's Connetable de Richemont; Ribadieu's Conquête de Guyenne; Drouyn's La Guienne militaire pendant la domination Anglaise; Clément's Jacques Cœur; Gilbert's Hist. of the Viceroys of Ireland, 1865; Wylie's Hist. of Henry IV; Tyler's Memoirs of Henry V, 1838; Sir James Ramsay's Hist. of Lancaster and York; Du Fresne de Beaucourt's Histoire de Charles VII, 1881–91; Dugdale's Baronage; G. E. C[okayne]'s Complete Peerage; Doyle's Official Baronage, 1886; other authorities in the text.]