Aveline de Forz, Countess of Aumale. Reign of Henry III.

Aveline, Forz, Countess, middle ages, Lancaster, noblewoman, England,
Aveline de Forz, Countess of Albemarle and Lady of Holderness 1269



Aveline de Forz, Countess of Albemarle and Lady of Holderness (20 January 1259 – 10 November 1274) was an English noblewoman. A wealthy heiress, she married Edmond of Lancaster, the second son of Henry III of England, in 1269. She died childless five years later.

The costume of this celebrated beauty is taken from the sculptured figure on her tomb in Westminster Abbey, now concealed by a modern monument. Although the sharpness of the chiseling is so far destroyed as to leave but little room for the animated remarks of the late Mr. Gough, on the opportunity of engraving this fine statue, reserved for Mr. Bazire; still there is enough remaining to bear testimony of its original beauty; and the Plate by that elegant Artist, proves with what care and taste he handled his subject.

The idea of the colouring of the robes is taken from scrapings made with a pen-knife from some of the least exposed parts of the drapery, and the design of the patterns from an illumination executed about the period in question.

The head is attired in a veil, or perhaps more properly in a wimple and gorget, with bindae (a kind of riband) on the forehead. The gown under the surcoat or super-tunic is visible only by the extremity of the sleeves reaching beyond the other, and over the shoulders is thrown the mantle. Behind the Countess are seen two young females of the same period, habited in gowns and super-tunics, shewing the gorgets without veils or wimples.

Avelina was the first wife of Edmund Crouchback, Earl of Lancaster, second son of the English King Henry III and his wife Eleanor of Provence, and daughter and heir of William de Fortibus, Earl of Albemarle, by Isabel, daughter of Baldwin IV. sister and heir to Baldwin de Ripariis (or Rivers), fifth and last Earl of Devon of that family. Aveline was married to Edmund, Earl of Leicester, in Westminster Abbey on 8 April 1269. She had been united in first wedlock with Ingram de Percy, Lord Dalton. Her husband Edmund set off on a crusade to the Holy Land in February or March 1271, from which he returned in the summer or autumn of 1272. Aveline died childless in 1274 at the age of fifteen. She was buried in Westminster Abbey, where her elaborate tomb monument, probably made after 1290, has been preserved.

When she died, her husband lost his claim to her inheritance. Various people now claimed this inheritance, most of whom claimed to be descendants of Aveline’s great-great-grandfather William of Aumale. One of these possible heirs was a John de Esthon, who claimed to be a descendant of Avice, a daughter of William of Aumale. His claim to inheritance was extremely controversial, as the existence of an Avice could not be proven, and if she really had been a daughter of William of Aumale, she was at most an illegitimate daughter. In 1278, however, Esthon was recognised as heir. He soon ceded his inheritance to King Edward I, the brother of Aveline’s husband Edmund, in return for the payment of £100 and estates with an annual income of £100.

It is considered unlikely that Eshton was the rightful heir, not least because £100 annual income was a very small amount for an extensive inheritance that included Holderness, Skipton and Cockermouth. It is more likely that he was an impostor who had illegally claimed the inheritance with the king’s consent and even on his behalf.

Back-ground. Part of Lancaster Castle.
Arms. William de Fortibus, Earl of Albemarle.
AUTHORITIES. The Figure from the monument in Westminster Abbey. Two Ladies from Brit. Mus. Sloane. 3983.
Lancaster Castle. Buck.
Arms. The monuments of Crouchback and Avelina.

Source: Selections of the ancient costume of Great Britain and Ireland from the seventh to the sixteenth century, by Charles Hamilton Smith. London: Colnaghi, 1814.

Illustration, damasks, ornament

Leave a Reply