Tomb of William Longespee - Salisbury Cathedral

walwyn Tue, 01/31/2012 - 21:42
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William Longespee, Medieval Tomb.


Tomb of William Longespee (d1226) Earl of Salisbury. William Longespee was the illigitmate son of Henry II and half brother to King Richard I and King John of England. William was present when the foundations stones of Salisbury Cathedral were laid, and was the first person to be buried there.1


William Longespee, Medieval Tomb.


William was a supporter of King John during the war with France, commanding the English at the battle of Damme in 1213 where the invasion fleet of Philip II of France was destroyed and 300 boats captured.2


After which he was then sent to aid the Holy Roman Emperor Otto IV, and in 1214 and was captured at the Battle of Bouvines by the bishop of Beauvais. He was exchanged for Robert, son of the count of Dreux, and was back in England in 1215 where he advised King John at the signing of the Magna Carta.3 During the First Baron's War, following John's repudiation of Magna Carta, he remained loyal to John until Prince Louis of France landed in England and John suffered several reversals.4


William Longespee, Medieval Tomb.


Following John's death in October 1216 William remained with Louis until March 1217, when in he switched his support to the young Henry III. At the battle of Lincoln in May 1217 he commanded a squadron of the royalist forces that attacked  the west gate of the city and the forces besieging the castle. He took part in the naval battle that intercepted the relief forces of Prince Louis off the coast of Sandwich on the 24 August.5


When Poitou and Gascony were threatened  by a French invasion in 1225, William Longespee was sent to accompany the 16 year old Richard the 1st Earl of Cornwall, John's younger son, to reassert control in the province. William fell ill in the October and was forced to return home to Salisbury. He died on the 7th of March 1226 at Salisbury Castle.6