Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Comyns 3

Following the successful suppression of the 1211 MacWilliam rebellion, the Comyns continued to expand their influence and land holdings. William Earl of Buchan, played an increasingly important part on the national scene, 
witnessing charters from places as widespread as the north of England, and Fyvie, in his own heartland. He also played a key role in the coronation of Alexander II at Scone, in 1214 following the death of his father.  Although the Comyns held lands throughout Scotland and England, William began to consolidate their power in the North East, and under his patronage Deer Abbey was founded in 1219.

The Abbey of Deer *

This consolidation an expansion continued in a relatively peaceful fashion until 1229 when another MacWilliam rebellion erupted out of Moray.
Alexander II, having failed to suppress the rebellion in person, again appointed William, the Warden of Moray, with the authority and resources to “get the job done”. The Comyns duly complied, and the heads of Gulleasbuig and his sons were delivered to the King, who in gratitude conferred the Lordship of Badenoch on William’s son Walter.  The royal “enforcers” now directly controlled a swath of land across the breadth of northern Scotland, in the shape of the Lordships of Lochaber, Badenoch, and the Earldom of Buchan. This effectively stabilized the north for the crown and ended the MacWilliam threat for good.
So as another generation prepared to “assume the mantel”, they had the benefit of the huge support structure, created by Richard and William, based on, landholding, ties of marriage, and a large following of allied families, all of which made-up the formidable Comyn Party. 

Source: Alan Young (The Comyns)

But things would not always go smoothly, because there were other “new men”, who also wanted a share of the Scottish pie. 

* For exact location of Deer Abbey follow this Geograph link:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sir Thomas – The Final Word

Having devoted so much blog time to the good Sir Thomas, I was thinking, “enough is enough”, he does after all appear to be no more than a colourful local legend. But! - Although I would probably never know whom, the effigies represented, I was still intrigued as to their date. During my research I came across an excellent book by Rachel Ann Dressler, called, “Of Armor and Men in Medieval England”, in which she studies three specific early 14c English knight effigies.
Rachel is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Albany, NY.
I decided to ask if she would give an opinion on the figures, and e-mailed her a link to the blog and some pictures, which she was kind enough to review and her reply is below.

Dear Jim,
Having looked at the photo, I would venture that the effigies date certainly after mid-13c but before 1315. Since the figures are abraded it is a little difficult to tell, but my inclination is early fourteenth century. I hope this helps.
So, it appears that the figures are close in time to the battle, and certainly concurrent with the period of sporadic internecine warfare from Alexander’s death until the Scottish victory at Bannockburn. Of coarse this did not end the violence, but it was more focused in the border regions after 1314.
We now have the tantalizing possibility that the effigy really does represents one of the fallen of Barra, but, could just as easily represent a minor noble who died in his bed. One of the points to emerge from Dressler’s book is that the martial splendor of the effigy did not always accurately reflect the life of the man it commemorated. They were often in fact no more than “sculptural spin”.
The last paragraph on the dust cover explains:
“Ultimately, Dressler’s analysis of English knight effigies demonstrates that the masculine warrior during the late Middle Ages was frequently a constructed ideal rather than a lived experience.”
With that said I think it is time to finally lay Sir Thomas to rest.

RIP - Sir Thomas and Lady de Longueville