Question about William de Ferrers (4th Earl of Derby) in 1220

A fairly esoteric history question, but it is relevant to our saga. I tried to find information on this, but could not find it on the Internet. I won't be able to get a library book for some time, so I thought I would throw it over to the historians here....

In Heirs to Merlin (p. 90 sidebar), I notice that several nobles are on crusades.

Which crusade? Albigensean or Fifth? Were English nobles more likely to choose one or the other? Did they get to choose?

I am particularly interested in the whereabouts William de Ferrers. HtM does not say if it was the 4th or 5th Earl of Derby (they had the same name), but I assume 4th. If anyone knows a detailed source besides the one from Wikipedia [1], preferably one from the Internet.

[1] Turbutt, G., (1999) A History of Derbyshire. Volume 2: Medieval Derbyshire, Cardiff: Merton Priory Press

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I have no decisive answer, but the 5th crusade was crushingly German/Dutch/Frisian and Hungarian, which would lead me to think that the crusade against the cathars is more likely, due to the physical prolixity (Auch to Albi is only 150 km): the heretics were on the board of the duchy of Gascony.

In 1220, the 4th Earl of Derby has about 52 years. He will rule until 1247.

At the 5th Crusade at Damiette in Egypt were English Barons present around 1220. The Earl of Derby had come in autumn 1218 there with many other French and English crusaders, on ships - organized by Hervé de Nevers and Hugues de Lusignan - from Genova. See for this Steven Runciman: A History of the Crusades, Book 12, chapter 2 The Fifth Crusade.
EDIT: Another reference for this is David Carpenter: The minority of Henry III . University of California Press, Berkeley 1990, p. 84.


1220 could be the Albigensian crusade, the 5th crusade, or the Northern Crusade. Or of course the Iberian crusade.

in 1220 William de Ferrers would be the 4th Earl of Derby, who died in 1247, but his son would have been born and 27 years old- from multiple sources it would appear that William de ferrers was simply managing his estates in 1220, at least until 1222 when the crown asked for three of the castles he was using to be returned.

@OneShot Summary: Citing the History books, the 4th Earl of Derby (William de Ferrers -- age 52) was in Egypt around 1220.

@silveroak I could not quite follow... Do you believe that the 4th or 5th Earl of Derby was managing his estates? They are both named William de Ferrers.

Thanks to all of you for the help!

I had thought the 4rth Earl of Derby would be managing his estate, given that there were the aforementioned issues with them in 1222 and the sheer number of them. However that does still fit if he was engaged in the 5th crusade. I expect that differing nobles might have been involved with different crusades at the time.

After having captured Damiette in November 1219, the crusaders did not accomplish much any more. Some started to return already in 1220 to their homes, and the survivors of the battle of Mansurah departed Egypt in September 1221 - effectively ending the 5th Crusade.
Unless someone wishes to further research the biography of the 4th Earl of Derby, we should assume, that he returned to England between late 1220 and 1222.

Henry III was born Oct 1 2007, so we know he was back before October of 1222.

Anyway, the 4th Earl of Derby was back from the 5th Crusade latest June 1222, when the regency council - under the influence of the Justiciar Hubert de Burgh - requested that he return Bolsover and the Castle of Peak to Henry III. A brief summary of the background is here.

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Do you have to be in the country for them to 'serve papers' on you?

There would be stewards and perhaps the nobleman's wife to receive and perhaps deal with demands from the Crown.

Being on a crusade was not a private matter! In general the land, rights and castles of a crusader were not touched by his neighbours - and certainly not by his king, for whom he administered them! As Cardinal Pandulf was part of the regency council in 1220 also on behalf of the Pope as the liege of Henry III, he surely would have prevented such a breach of trust!

EDIT: Being on a crusade was indeed an honorable way for the Earl to freeze the claims of young Henry III against him, until Henry's position in England was better defined. No need to return the castles to him, before his mettle as a ruler was tested: they might have gone to the Earl's adversaries otherwise.

Hmm, yes, arguably.

On the other hand the Treasury is always short of money and not noticeably pious or patient. It might be a source of a story that the lady of the estate protests that her husband has not yet returned from the Crusade while the bureaucrats are insisting that the matter must be resolved Right Now. Perhaps the wizards are asked to do the lady a favour and find out where her husband is at the moment, perhaps get a message to him.

It would be interesting to know exactly when he is known to have been in the Holy Land. You could arrange it however it suits your story.

You can run it the medieval way or the - hmmm - faceless Kafkaesk bureaucrat way in your saga. :nerd_face:

But please note, that if the Pope called for a crusade, he generally promised the crusaders that their rights and lands would be untouched while they were absent. Fail that once, and your next crusade is short of volunteers!

From the history books, does anyone know of a time when the promise was violated?

Yeah, it's not the Pope or the Papal Legate that disrespects the promise. It's the scribe in the Chancery who perhaps has been asked by an enemy of the Crusader to put the squeeze one. "After all, the Crusade has been over for months! What do you mean he's not home yet?"

Poor scribe! He might quickly lose his life, if he dared to release a writ reclaiming a castle without the formal approval of the regency council: in 1220 Peter des Roches, Hubert de Burgh and Cardinal Pandulf! All he would have released would be a forgery!
This forgery would also be soon detected as such, because the regency council would have followed up a real writ by dispatching castellan and troupe to take over that castle.

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