Despenser, Hugh, 1st earl of Winchester

views updated

Despenser, Hugh, 1st earl of Winchester (1261–1326). Despenser's father had been a leading member of the baronial opposition to Henry III, acted as justiciar, and was killed with de Montfort at Evesham. A coming man under Edward I, Despenser was an ardent supporter of Edward II and his closest companion after the death of Gaveston. He fought in the defeat at Bannockburn. He and his son received many estates and incurred great unpopularity. In 1321 Edward was forced to exile him, but the death of his great enemy Thomas of Lancaster at Boroughbridge the following year seemed to have secured his position, and Edward created him earl of Winchester. But he was speedily overthrown in 1326. Edward's queen Isabella led an invasion from France, and Despenser was captured at Bristol and executed. His son was taken a few days later with the king and hanged at Hereford. The king himself was deposed two months later.

J. A. Cannon