Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Fall of Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester

The Penance of Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester by Edwin Austin Abbey

Eleanor was married to Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, an uncle of Henry VI. She had to do public penance for her occult practices, namely dabbling in witchcraft. From
Described by Aeneas Sylvius as “a woman distinguished in her form” and “beautiful and marvellously pleasant” by Jean de Waurin, Eleanor and Humphrey had a small but lively court at their residence of La Plesaunce at Greenwich. Humphrey had a lifelong love of learning, which Eleanor most likely shared, and the couple attracted scholars, musicians and poets to their court.

On 25th June 1431, as Duchess of Gloucester, Eleanor was admitted to the fraternity of the monastery of St Albans – to which her husband already belonged – and in 1432 she was made a Lady of the Garter. Eleanor’s status rose even higher in 1435, with the death of John Duke of Bedford. Whilst Henry VI was still childless, John had been heir presumptive. He died having had no children and so the position passed to Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. With her heightened status, Eleanor received sumptuous Christmas gifts from the king; and her father was given custody of the French hostage Charles, Duke of Orleans – a prisoner since Agincourt. But in 1441 came Eleanor’s dramatic downfall.
More about Duchess Eleanor, HERE.
The Penance of the Duchess of Gloucester


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