Richard FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundel

Richard FitzAlan
Earl of Arundel
Earl of Surrey

The memorial effigy of Richard FitzAlan and his second wife Eleanor of Lancaster in Chichester Cathedral
Born 1306 or 1313
Died 24 January 1376(1376-01-24) (age 70 or 63)
Father Edmund FitzAlan, 9th Earl of Arundel
Mother Alice de Warenne heiress of her brother the Earl of Surrey
Arms of Richard FitzAlan (1306/13-1376), FitzAlan quartering de Warrenne

Richard FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundel and 8th Earl of Surrey (c.1306/1313 24 January 1376) was an English nobleman and medieval military leader and distinguished admiral. Arundel was one of the wealthiest nobles, and most loyal noble retainer of the chivalric code that governed the reign of Edward III.

Early life

Richard was born in Sussex, England. His birth date was uncertain perhaps 1306 or 1313. FitzAlan was the eldest son of Edmund FitzAlan, 9th Earl of Arundel (8th Earl of Arundel per Ancestral Roots), and his wife Alice de Warenne. His parents married in 1305, after his father had initially been fined for refusing to marry Alice in 1304; their betrothal had been arranged by Alice's grandfather the Earl of Surrey, his father's guardian. Arundel changed his mind after the Earl died, leaving Alice the heiress presumptive, and with her only brother married to a ten-year-old girl. His maternal grandparents were William de Warenne and Joan de Vere. William was the only son of John de Warenne, 6th Earl of Surrey (himself son of Maud Marshal by her second marriage), and his wife Alice de Lusignan (d. 1356), half-sister of Henry III of England.

Civil career

Around 1321, FitzAlan's father allied with King Edward II's favourites, Hugh le Despenser, 1st Earl of Winchester and his namesake son, and Richard was married to Isabel le Despenser, daughter of Hugh the Younger. Fortune turned against the Despenser party, and on 17 November 1326, FitzAlan's father was executed, and he did not succeed to his father's estates or titles. However, political conditions had changed by 1330, and over the next few years Richard was gradually able to reacquire the Earldom of Arundel as well as the great estates his father had held in Sussex and in the Welsh Marches.

Beyond this, in 1334 he was made Justiciar of North Wales (later his term in this office was made for life), High Sheriff of Caernarvonshire for life and Governor of Caernarfon Castle. He was one of the most trusted supporters of Edward the Black Prince in Wales.

Despite his high offices in Wales, in the following decades Arundel spent much of his time fighting in Scotland (during the Second Wars of Scottish Independence) and France (during the Hundred Years' War). In 1337, Arundel was made Joint Commander of the English army in the north, and the next year he was made the sole Commander. In September 1339 a French fleet appeared off Sluis, determined to make sail against Edward III's fleet. When eventually they put to sea on 2 October they were blown off course by a violent storm back to the Zet Zwijn roads. Edward met parliament, and they ordered a new fleet to granted provisions by the barons of the Cinque Ports, and commanded by the Admiral of the West, Lord Arundel. 70 ships from the west met at Portsmouth on March 26, 1340 to be commanded by their new admiral. The earl, granted the commission on 20 February 1340, was joined by fleets from the north and cinque ports.[1] That summer he joined the king on flagship Cog Thomas, leaving port two days later on 22 June for Flanders. Arundel was a distinguished soldier, in July 1340 he fought at the Battle of Sluys, during his heavily-laden Cog grappled with the Spanish fleet. Summoned by parliament on 13 July, he bore witness to the victory.[2] By December 1342 Arundel had relinquished his post as admiral.

But it appears he may have been at the siege of Tournai. After a short term as Warden of the Scottish Marches, he returned to the continent, where he fought in a number of campaigns, and was appointed Joint Lieutenant of Aquitaine in 1340. The successful conclusion of the Flanders campaign, in which Arundel saw little fighting encouraged the setting up of the Knights of the Round Table attended every Whitsun by 300 great knights. A former guardian of the Prince of Wales, Arundel was also a close friend of Edward III, and one of the four great earls - Derby, Salisbury, Warwick and himself. With Huntingdon and Sir Ralph Neville he was a Keeper of the Tower and guardian to the prince with a garrison of 20 men-at-arms and 50 archers. A royal councillor he was expected to raise taxes, which had caused such consternation on 20 July 1338. The King's wars were not alway popular, but Arundel was a vital instrument of that policy. Despite the failure of the peace negotiations at Avignon in 1344, Edward was decided on protecting his Gascon subjects. In early 1345, Derby and Arundel sailed for Bordeaux as lieutenants of the duchy of Aquitaine, attempting to prevent Prince Jean's designs on the tenantry. In August 1346 Derby returned with an army of 2000 men; while Arundel was responsible for naval preparations.

Admiral of the West

On 23 February 1345 Arundel was made Admiral of the Western Fleet, perhaps for a second time, to continue the policy of arresting merchant ships, but two years later was again superseded. Arundel was one of the three principal English commanders at the Battle of Crécy, his experience vital to the outcome of the battle with Suffolk and the bishop of Durham in the rearguard.[3] Throughout he was entrusted by the King as guardian of the young Prince Edward. Arundel's division was on the right side of the battle lines, flanked to the right with archers, and stakes to the front.[4]

He spent much of the following years on various military campaigns and diplomatic missions. The King himself and the entourage went to Winchilsea on 15 August 1350, set sail on the Cog Thomas on 28th, for the fleet to chase the Spaniard De la Cerda down wind which they sighted the following day. The ships rammed, before the party escaped unhurt on another vessel. Overcome by much larger Spanish ships, the English could not grapple.[5]

English ships in Battle of L'Espagnols sur mer
ThomasWilliam Passelewe
Robert Shipman, constable
EdwardWilliam Piers
JonetteWalter Langdale
PlentyJohn Wille
IsabellaJohn Ram
GabrielJohn Rokke
MichaelJohn Maikyn
WelfareJohn Stygey
Thomas Beauchamp

In a campaign of 1375, at the end of his life, he destroyed the harbour of Roscoff. On days after the death of Edward III, a Castilian fleet raided the south coast of England, and returned again in August. Arundel's fleet had put into Cherbourg for supplies, but no sooner had it departed, than the port was blockaded; one squadron was left behind and captured. At the same time galleys harassed the coast of Cornwall.[6]

Great wealth

In 1347, he succeeded to the Earldom of Surrey (or Warenne), which even further increased his great wealth. (He did not however use the additional title until after the death of the Dowager Countess of Surrey in 1361.) He made very large loans to King Edward III but even so on his death left behind a great sum in hard cash.

Marriages and children

He married twice:

Death and legacy

Richard died on 24 January 1376 at Arundel Castle, aged either 70 or 63, and was buried in Lewes Priory. He wrote his will on 5 December 1375. In his will, he mentioned his three surviving sons by his second wife, his two surviving daughters Joan, Dowager Countess of Hereford and Alice, Countess of Kent, his grandchildren by his second son John, etc., but left out his bastardized eldest son Edmund. In his will Richard asked his heirs to be responsible for building the FitzAlan Chapel at Arundel Castle, which was duly erected by his successor. The memorial effigies depicting Richard FitzAlan and his second wife Eleanor of Lancaster in Chichester Cathedral are the subject of the poem "An Arundel Tomb" by Philip Larkin.

FitzAlan died an incredibly wealthy man, despite his various loans to Edward III, leaving £60,000 in cash. He had been as astute in business, as he had in diplomatic politics. He was a cautious man, and wisely saved his estate for future generations.


See also


  1. This was necessary because his first wife and second wife were closely related.
  2. Isabel's family was politically weak, compared to Eleanor's family. The marriage may have been a love marriage (there is some evidence that the widowed Eleanor became the earl's mistress on a pilgrimage circa 1343), or Richard may have been waiting to obtain a suitable high-born wife with royal connections.


  1. Rymer, i, p.1115; Clowes, 249-50
  2. Parliamentary Rolls, ii, pp.117-9; Clowes, p.257; Barber, p.99
  3. Barber, p.64
  4. Bradbury, p.105-9
  5. nearly 400 knights in the accompanied the royal party, Froissart, i, p.285; clowes, p.269; Barber, p.99
  6. Rodger, p.111
  7. Vivian, 1895, p.134
  8. Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, p.134, pedigree of Carew, in which Sir Leonard Carew's wife is called "Alice, da. of Sir Edmund FitzAlan de Arundell, Kt, younger bro. to Richard 13 Earl of Arundell" (sic), quoting "Asmolean MSS 8467"
  9. Inquisitiones Post Mortem, 17 Ric. II., 53; 21 Ric. II., 50; 1 H. IV., 14, 23, 24.
Secondary sources
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Edmund FitzAlan
Earl of Arundel
Succeeded by
Richard FitzAlan
Preceded by
John de Warenne
Earl of Surrey
(1st creation)
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