John Montacute, 3rd Earl of Salisbury

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John Montacute

Also Known As: "3rd Earl of Salisbury"
Birthdate: (43)
Birthplace: Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
Death: Died in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England
Cause of death: Beheaded
Place of Burial: Bisham, Berkshire, England
Immediate Family:

Son of John de Montacute, 1st Baron Montacute and Margaret de Montecute
Husband of Maud Francis
Father of Lady Anne de Montagu, Duchess of Exeter; Robert de Montagu; Thomas Montacute, 4th Earl of Salisbury; Richard Montagu; Elizabeth Montacute and 2 others
Brother of Sir Simon de Montagu; Eleanor Montagu; Sybil de Montagu, Nun; Katherine de Montagu; Thomas de Montagu, Dean Of Salisbury and 4 others

Occupation: 1st Duke of Exeter, 3rd Earl of Salisbury; 5th and 2nd Baron Montacute
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About John Montacute, 3rd Earl of Salisbury

John Montacute, 3rd Earl of Salisbury and 5th and 2nd Baron Montacute, Order of the Garter|KG (1350 – 5 January 1400) was an England|English nobleman, one of the few who remained loyal to Richard II of England|Richard II after Henry IV of England|Henry IV became king.

Early life

He was the son of Sir John de Montacute, 1st Baron Montacute (died in 1390) and Margaret de Monthermer. His father was the younger brother of William Montacute, 2nd Earl of Salisbury. His mother was the daughter of Thomas de Monthermer, 2nd Baron de Monthermer (1301 - Battle of Sluys, 1340) and Margaret Teyes (died in 1349), granddaughter and heiress of Ralph de Monthermer, 1st Baron Monthermer and Joan of Acre (Douglas Richardson, Kimball G. Everingham, Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families (2005), p. 576).

As a young man Montagu or Montacute distinguished himself in the Hundred Years' War|war with France, and then went to fight against the pagans in Prussia, probably on the expedition led by Henry Bolingbroke (the future Henry IV of England). Bolingbroke was to entrust his young son and heir, later Henry V of England|Henry V, to the care of Sir John and his wife Maud Montacute, Countess of Salisbury|Maud following the death of his wife Mary de Bohun. Lady Margaret cared for the young boy at a Montacute house in Welsh Bicknor near Monmouth until her death in 1395.

He was summoned to parliament in 1391 as Baron Montagu. Montagu was a favorite of the King during the early years of the reign of Richard II of England|Richard II. He accompanied the King during his expeditions to Ireland in 1394 and 1395, and as a privy councillor was one of the principal advocates of the King's marriage to Isabella of Valois. During the trips to France associated with the marriage, he met and encouraged Christine de Pisan, whose son was educated in the Montacute household. Montacute was a prominent Lollard, and was remonstrated by the King for this.

With the death of his mother around this time, John inherited the barony of Monthermer and its estates. In 1397, he became Earl of Salisbury on the death of his uncle and inherited Bisham Abbey|Bisham Manor and other estates. He continued as one of the major aristocratic allies of King Richard II, helping to secure the fall of the Thomas of Woodstock|Duke of Gloucester and the Thomas de Beauchamp, 12th Earl of Warwick|Earl of Warwick. He persuaded the king to spare the life of Thomas de Beauchamp, 12th Earl of Warwick|Warwick. He received a portion of the forfeited Warwick estates, and in 1399 was made a Knight of the Garter.

Early in 1399, he went to on a successful mission to France to prevent the proposed marriage of Henry Bolingbroke and a daughter of the Duke of Berry. In May, he again accompanied Richard II on an expedition to Ireland. When news reached them of that Bolingbroke had returned to England, Montacute was sent to Wales to raise opposing forces. When these deserted, Montacute advised King Richard to flee to Bordeaux. Instead Richard was imprisoned, Henry took the throne and, in the October, Montacute was arrested along with many of Richard's former councillors, and held in the Tower of London.

Downfall and death

Montacute had to answer charges related to the arrest and subsequent death of the Duke of Gloucester in 1397. Eventually he was released, due to the intercession of King Henry's sister Elizabeth, Countess of Huntingdon. Not long after his release, Montacute joined with the John Holland, 1st Duke of Exeter|Earl of Huntingdon and a group of other barons in the Epiphany Rising, a plot to kill King Henry IV and restore Richard II. After the plot failed, mob violence ensued, and he was caught by a mob of townspeople at Cirencester, held without trial, and executed by beheading on 7 January 1400. His eldest son, Thomas Montacute, 4th Earl of Salisbury|Thomas – by Maud Francis daughter of London citizen, Adam Francis – eventually recovered the earldom, though the attainder against John Montacute was not reversed until the accession of Edward IV of England|Edward IV in 1461.


  • William Hunt, John de Montacute or Montagu, 3rd Earl of Salisbury, Dictionary of National Biography volume=38 pages=205–206, 1894

External links


John de Montagu, 3rd Earl of Salisbury1

M, b. circa 1350, d. 5 January 1400

John de Montagu, 3rd Earl of Salisbury was born circa 1350.

He was the son of John Montagu and Margaret Monthermer.

He married Maud Francis, daughter of Adam Francis.

He died on 5 January 1400 at Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England, beheaded.

John de Montagu, 3rd Earl of Salisbury was also known as John de Montacute.

He gained the title of 3rd Earl of Salisbury.

Children of John de Montagu, 3rd Earl of Salisbury and Maud Francis

1.Lady Anne de Montagu+1 d. 28 Nov 1457

2.Richard de Montacute+2

3.Thomas Montagu, 4th Earl of Salisbury+ b. b 13 Jun 1388, d. 3 Nov


Sir John Montacute, the eldest son of Sir John Montacute by Margaret Monthermer, was born in or about the year 1350. His military career commenced when all the great victories of the Hundred Years War had already been achieved, and the English dominion in France was on the wane. He received knighthood, in 1369, from the Earl of Cambridge, in reward of his prowess at the Siege of Bourdeille, where two renowned captains, Ernaudon and Bernardet De Batefol, surrendered to him as prisoners. In the course of the same campaign, he was, with the rank of banneret, attached to the staff of that prince at Belle Perche, when the Duchess of Bourbon was carried from that fort in the view of her son's army. Upon those occasions, Froissart identifies him as nephew to the Earl of Salisbury, but where the name of "Sir John Montacute" occurs in the public records between the years 1370 and 1390 (the latter being the date of his father's death), it is difficult to decide whether it applies to father or son.

In 1391, our knight, having done homage for his patrimonial inheritance, obtained the King's license to journey into Prussia with a retinue of ten servants, probably in the same expedition against the Lithuanians in which the Earl of Derby (later Henry IV) bore a part. In the following year, he was summoned to Parliament as Lord Montagu and, in the Autumn of 1394, he attended King Richard II into Ireland. In the spring of 1395, he inherited the Monthermer estates, upon the decease of his mother, and, in 1396, was employed, for the last time, in a military capacity beyond sea.

The dignity and estates of John's uncle, William, Earl of Salisbury, devolved to him in 1397 and he was, about the same time, appointed a member of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. From that date, we find him constantly near the person of the King, whom he served with unabated attachment during the guilty and unhappy remnant of his reign. He naturally became, under such circumstances, one of the appellants against the monarch's opponents, Gloucester, Arundel and Warwick, and, upon the forfeiture of the last of those noblemen, eight of his escheated manors fell to his share.

Towards the close of 1398, Salisbury was nominated Marshal of England during the absence of the Duke of Surrey in Ireland and Froissart's narrative, that he was, about Christmas, entrusted with a negotiation of great delicacy at the French Court, seems to be corroborated by the record of a safe-conduct then granted to him. The design of his mission was to frustrate a proposed matrimonial alliance between the King's cousin, Henry, then Duke of Lancaster (later King Henry IV), and Mary, the daughter of the Duc de Berri; and Salisbury succeeded in that object. Upon his return, he was one of the peers who assented, in Parliament, to the repeal of the patent which had reserved to Henry the control over his estates during his exile. He was also joined in a commission, with others, to treat for a peace with Scotland, but it is doubtful whether he proceeded on that service, as he was certainly in the retinue of the King on his fatal expedition to Ireland in May 1399.

The intelligence of Lancaster's arrival in England induced Richard to despatch Salisbury from Ireland with a part of the English army to oppose him. Landing near Conway, the Earl was enabled to augment his forces by new levies in Wales and Cheshire, but the gentry of those districts, who had been persuaded to take up arms, dispersed upon finding the voyage of the King from Waterford protracted by adverse winds and hearing of the formidable approach of Henry after his successful visit to the metropolis. The unfortunate monarch, therefore, when he had at length reached the English coast, saw himself powerless and at the mercy of the invader.

Notwithstanding the hostile part which Salisbury and other loyal adherents of the fallen sovereign had taken against the usurper, it was the obvious policy of the latter to suppress his resentment. They were accordingly left unmolested during the first days of the new reign. But the throne had no sooner been secured to Henry by the unanimous consent of Parliament, than it was decided to wrest from Richard's late favourites the immense wealth which they had acquired by the confiscations of 1397. The appellants of that year were thus called upon for their justification. Salisbury, in his turn, endeavoured to extenuate his conduct upon grounds similar to those which had been pleaded by his former confederates, averring that he had not been the author or contriver of the bill of appeal, and his ignorance even of its purport until commanded by the late King to join in the proceeding. He had then only concurred, in common with his peers, in the judgments given thereon. Having also heard of the allegations of the Duke of Norfolk that he had compassed the death of the late Duke of Lancaster, Salisbury declared he was ready, if Norfolk were present, or if any other person should repeat such false assertions, to defend himself, as a gentleman in any way the new King might think fit. For the rest, he repented of his error and threw himself upon the mercy of God, the King and his crown. The Duke of Norfolk was then no more; but the Lord Morley appears to have risen to repeat the accusation against Salisbury and the latter to have defied him to prove it by wager of battle. The duel between these noblemen was appointed to be held at Newcastle-on-Tyne, probably on the King's expedition by Scotland; but there seems to be little evidence that the meeting took place.

It is remarkable that Salisbury should have been excepted from the parliamentary sentence by which his associates in the appeal were deprived of the grants of land made to them subsequent to the ruin of Gloucester and his party. For John hastily and treacherously requited King Henry's forbearance towards him. At the close of the parliamentary session, he conspired, with Albemarle, Exeter and Surrey (then degraded to their former titles of Rutland, Huntingdon and Kent), to seize and destroy the King. However, having travelled to a joust in Windsor for that purpose, they failed in their objective and Salisbury accompanied the Earl of Kent in open rebellion into the western counties. Having been (according to the narrative generally received by historians, and confirmed by the allegations of a petition presented by his son in the following reign) overpowered and detained in custody at Cirencester (Glos), for a day and a half, with promise that he should be safely delivered up to the King, Salisbury was, in consequence of some sudden attempt to rescue him, beheaded by the townsmen on the 7th January 1400.

Most of his remains were deposited in Cirencester Abbey, while his head is said to have been sent to London. However, upon the petition of his widow, to King Henry V in 1420, they were permitted to be removed to Bisham Priory in Berkshire, the foundation of his ancestor.

Walsingharn relates, with acrimony, that the Earl had been a chief patron of the sect of Wycliffe, known as the Lollards, having carried his iconoclastic zeal so far as to destroy all the images of saints which had been set up in his Chapel at Shenley (Herts) by Aubrey and Buxhull, his wife's former husbands, excepting that of St. Catherine, which, being an object of particular veneration to his household, he allowed to remain in his bake-house. The chronicler adds, that he became contrite just before his execution and expressed an ardent desire to be shriven according to the rites of the mother church.

By Maud, his countess - daughter and, at length, heir of Sir Adam Francis of London and widow of both John Aubrey of that city and Sir Alan Buxhull - the Earl of Salisbury had two sons and three daughters. Thomas, his eldest son, was eventually restored to the Earldom of Salisbury, whilst Richard, the younger, died without issue. Of the daughters, Anne married, firstly, Sir Richard Hankford, secondly, Sir John FitzLewis, and, thirdly, John Holland, Earl of Huntingdon & Duke of Exeter; Margaret married William, Lord Ferrers of Groby; and Elizabeth married Robert, Lord Willoughby of Eresby.

Edited from George Frederick Beltz's

"Memorials of the Most Noble Order of the Garter" (1861).


John Montague Kt. as the [3rd] 8th Earl of Salisbury [b. 1350? died 1400], who some regard as the author of the early ballads of Robin Hood. This is a little known factoid. A contemporary French chronicler said of John:

He was humble, sweet, and courteous in all his ways and had every man's voice for being loyal in all places and right prudent. Full largely he gave and timely gifts. He was brave and fierce as a lion. Ballads and songs and roundels and lays right beautiful he made. Though but a layman, still his deeds became so gracious that never, I think, of his country shall be a man in whom God put so much of good, and may his soul be set in Paradise among the saints for ever. (9)

John was one of King Richard II's closest friends and had a strong interest in poetry, literature and history and was a contemporary of Chaucer, Edward III as well as Richard II, often appearing in the King's Court. He was knighted in France, made a commander in Ireland under Richard II [1394-5] and supported Wycliffe's teachings and the Lollards.

The earldom was lost to the Montagues' of Salisbury in 1400 when John was convicted of treason, beheaded by a mob and had his head placed on London Bridge.

  • 9. Holland. B. The Hollands of Lancashire. 1899, London, p. 139.,_3rd_Earl_of_Salisbury

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John Montacute, 3rd Earl of Salisbury's Timeline

Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
Age 27
Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
Age 28
Of, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
March 25, 1388
Age 31
Age 31
Age 32
Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
Age 36
January 7, 1400
Age 43
Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England
January 7, 1400
Age 43
Bisham, Berkshire, England