Month, Year

Seduced by King John?

King John Assents to Magna Carta - 15.06.1215
After a period of silence, as I have been gradually getting to grips with the discipline of research, I am back with an update of my progress.

As I said before, one of my tasks has been to research one of the key members of the Lacock story - Ela, countess of Salisbury. Without her, there would be no Abbey at Lacock, nor very much else.

One of the first things that struck me, was that there was no consensus over her date of birth. It is variously reported as being 1187, 1191 and even 1196. After a considerable amount of reading, it seems that the probable date is actually 1187, but I still have a few more lines to follow up on, before I am finally convinced.

My second thread of research was to read around what life was like for someone such as Ela at that time. In the course of this, I was re-reading a general book about the History of Britain from 1066 to 1284 by David Carpenter, Professor of Medieval History at King's College, London and originally published in 2003, when I came across the following :

"John was deserted by a good number of his household knights, by the earl of Salisbury (his half-brother whose wife he had seduced)".

It took me several moments to process that bit of information. Jaw dropping pretty much covers it. I was sure that I hadn't seen this anywhere else.

So, I thought I had better re-visit the books I had about King John. After a couple, with not even a mention of William Longspée, let alone Ela, I came to the simply titled 'King John' by the well known historian, Marc Morris. This was published in 2015 to tie in with the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.

Not only did Marc Morris' book contain confirmation, but he went further and put it into context. The King had a reputation as a sexual predator and John seemingly "targeted the wives and daughters of his leading barons. The evidence is naturally circumstantial - it is very hard to find conclusive proof on such private matters - but the accusation was made enough times by different authors citing specific examples (the daughter of Robert fitz Walter, the wives of Eustace de Vescy and William Longsword) ....."

I will be concentrating on following up on this line of enquiry and if this is correct, I wonder what influence the experience had on her later life?