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Thomas of Woodstock
Duke of Gloucester and of Aumale
Earl of Essex and of Buckingham
Succeeded by Humphrey
Personal details
Born (1355-01-07)7 January 1355
Woodstock Palace, Oxfordshire
Died 8 September 1397(1397-09-08) (aged 42)
Calais, Pale of Calais
Spouse(s) Eleanor de Bohun

Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester, 1st Earl of Buckingham, 1st Earl of Essex, Duke of Aumale, KG (7 January 1355 – 8 or 9 September 1397) was the thirteenth and youngest child of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault. He was the fifth of the five sons of Edward III who survived to adulthood.

Early lifeEdit

Thomas was born after two short-lived sons, one of whom had also been baptised Thomas. He was born at Woodstock Palace in Oxfordshire. He married Eleanor de Bohun in 1376 and inherited the title Earl of Essex from his father-in-law, Humphrey de Bohun, 7th Earl of Hereford. The younger sister of Woodstock's wife, Mary de Bohun, was subsequently married to Henry "Bolingbroke," who eventually became Henry IV of England.

At the age of 22, in 1377, Woodstock was created Earl of Buckingham. In 1385 he received the title Duke of Aumale and at about the same time was created Duke of Gloucester.

Campaign in BrittanyEdit

A Chronicle of England - Page 328 - Arundel, Gloucester, Nottingham, Derby, and Warwick, Before the King

Richard FitzAlan, 11th Earl of Arundel; Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester; Thomas de Mowbray, Earl of Nottingham; Henry, Earl of Derby (later Henry IV); and Thomas de Beauchamp, 12th Earl of Warwick, demand Richard II to let them prove by arms the justice for their rebellion

Thomas of Woodstock

Murder of Thomas of Woodstock.

Thomas of Woodstock commanded one of the largest campaigns of the period. This followed the Breton War of Succession, when English forces had supported John V, Duke of Brittany, against his rival for the Dukedom Charles of Blois, who was supported by France. At the head of an English army, John was victorious, but the French had continued to undermine his position, and he was later forced into exile in England. He returned in 1379, supported by Breton barons who feared the annexation of Brittany by France. An English army was sent under Woodstock to support his position. Due to concerns about the safety of a longer shipping route to Brittany itself, the army was ferried to the English continental stronghold of Calais in July 1380. As Woodstock marched his 5,000 men east of Paris they were confronted by the Duke of Burgundy's army at Troyes, but the French had learned from Crécy and Poitiers not to offer a pitched battle to the English, so the two armies eventually marched away. French defensive operations were then thrown into disarray by the death of Charles V a few days later. Woodstock's chevauchée continued westwards largely unopposed, and in November 1380 he laid siege to Nantes and its vital bridge over the Loire towards Aquitaine. However, he found himself unable to form an effective stranglehold and urgent plans were put in place for Sir Thomas Felton to bring 2,000 reinforcements from England. By January, though, it had become apparent that the Duke of Brittany was reconciled to the new French King and, with the alliance collapsing and dysentery ravaging his men, Woodstock abandoned the siege and accepted a 50,000 franc pay-off from the Duke of Brittany.

Dispute with King Richard IIEdit

Thomas of Woodstock was the leader of the Lords Appellant, a group of powerful nobles whose ambition to wrest power from Thomas's nephew, King Richard II of England, culminated in a successful rebellion in 1388, which significantly weakened the king's power. Richard II managed to dispose of the Lords Appellant in 1397, and Thomas was imprisoned in Calais to await trial for treason.

During that time he was murdered, probably by a group of men led by Thomas de Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk, and Nicholas Colfox, presumably on behalf of Richard II. This caused an outcry among the nobility of England that is considered by many to have added to Richard's unpopularity.


Together Eleanor and Thomas had five children:

  1. Humphrey, 2nd Earl of Buckingham (c. 1381 - 2 September 1399)
  2. Anne of Gloucester (c. 1383 - 1438) married (1st) Thomas Stafford, 3rd Earl of Stafford; (2nd) Edmund Stafford, 5th Earl of Stafford; and (3rd) William Bourchier, Count of Eu. Her son by 3rd marriage, John Bourchier, 1st Baron Berners, was grandfather of Richard Neville, 2nd Baron Latimer of Snape. Richard's granddaughter, Anne Dawney,[1] was ancestress of Zachary Taylor,[2] 12th President of the U.S.A.
  3. Joan (1384 - 16 August 1400) married Gilbert Talbot, 5th Lord Talbot (1383–1419). Died in childbirth.
  4. Isabel (12 March 1385/1386 - April 1402)
  5. Philippe (c. 1388) Died young

As he was attainted as a traitor, his dukedom of Gloucester was forfeit. The title Earl of Buckingham was inherited by his son, who however died only two years later in 1399. Thomas of Woodstock's eldest daughter, Anne, married into the powerful Stafford family, who were Earls of Stafford. Her son, Humphrey Stafford was created Duke of Buckingham in 1444 and also inherited part of the de Bohun estates.

The other part of these estates — including the Earldom of Hereford, which had belonged to Mary de Bohun and had then become incorporated into the holdings of the House of Lancaster — became a matter of contention in the latter 15th century. The House of Lancaster had ruled England as kings from 1399 to 1461. When Henry VI was deposed by Edward IV of the House of York, Edward appropriated that half into the Crown property. Humphrey's grandson Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, however claimed those lands should have devolved to him instead. Unsuccessful under Edward, he was awarded these lands by Richard III, pending approval of Parliament. This was probably one of the Buckingham's motives in supporting Richard's accession.[3]

Anne later married William Bourchier, 1st Count of Eu.[4]

In History and LiteratureEdit

  • Thomas of Woodstock's murder plays a prominent part in the opening scene of William Shakespeare's play Richard II.
  • He also is the subject of Thomas of Woodstock, another Elizabethan drama by an anonymous playwright. Because of its stylistic affinities to Shakespearea's play, it is also called Richard the Second Part One.


Titles, styles, honours and armsEdit

Arms of Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester


As Duke of Gloucester, Thomas had use of the coat of arms of the kingdom, differenced by a bordure argent.[5]


  2. Descent of Zachary Taylor from Edward III
  3. Ross 114
  4. Weir, Alison (1999). Britain's Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy. London: The Bodley Head. p. 114. 
  5. Marks of Cadency in the British Royal Family
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Hereford and Essex
Lord High Constable
Succeeded by
The Earl of Buckingham
Legal offices
Preceded by
The Duke of Ireland
Justice of Chester
Succeeded by
The Duke of Exeter
Peerage of England
New creation Earl of Essex
Earl of Buckingham
Succeeded by
Humphrey, 2nd Earl
Duke of Gloucester
Duke of Aumale


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