#OTD – A Day Late! Taken from my post on #HistoryLair
3 JUNE 1397 – This day marks the death of William Montagu (also spelt Montacute), 2nd Earl of Salisbury, aged 68. He was one of England’s most successful battle commanders, fighting closely alongside Edward III and his son, Prince Edward, the Black Prince. He had been knighted when Edward III’s forces landed at La Hogue in 1346 to commence the Battle of Crecy campaign and became a Knight of the Order of the Garter aged 21 in 1340. His greatest role was yet to come, as one of two commanders of the rearguard of Prince Edward’s army at the Battle of Poitiers. The first major French attack was heavily defeated by Montagu, proving himself a great tactician as well as a warrior. He loyally served the crown in further battles on land and sea, as well as becoming a justice of the peace and political negotiator. In 1382, personal tragedy hit hard; he accidentally killed his only son and heir, also called William, at a tournament in Windsor. He also argued and fell into a bitter dispute with his only brother, John Montagu the elder, the king’s steward. It was regarding John’s violation of a statute merchant (an ancient form of security/bond) and the legal wrangle dragged on until after John’s death in 1390; his son, John Montagu the younger, settled the dispute but it had caused a rift with William. However, due to William’s only son predeceasing him, John the younger was William’s heir, becoming 3rd Earl of Salisbury on William’s death although William left no disposable property in his will to his heir – that all went between William’s wife and his servants.
The Montagu’s were descended from a noble Norman family completely loyal to William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings, thus rewarded with lands mainly in the southwest of England. The Montagu’s have left us reminders of themselves today, such as the village of Montacute in Somerset (said to have the longest life expectancy in England) and Beaulieu in Hampshire, the Montagu’s estate from 1538 until the present day. (EP)