Despenser in the Founders and Benefactors Book of Tewkesbury Abbey, c. 1525

Hugh Despenser the Younger, born around 1286, was a powerful and controversial figure during the reign of King Edward II of England. He was the son of Hugh Despenser the Elder, a prominent nobleman who had served King Edward I. Despenser rose to prominence through his close association with Edward II, eventually becoming one of the king’s most trusted advisors and favourites.

Who Was Hugh Despenser the Younger?

Despenser’s relationship with Edward II began during the early years of the king’s reign, and he quickly gained favour at court. Edward showered Despenser with lands, titles, and offices, elevating him to positions of great influence and power. Despenser’s rise to prominence aroused jealousy and resentment among the nobility, who viewed him as an upstart and interloper.

Despenser’s influence over the king was profound, and he used his position to amass wealth and expand his family’s estates. He became involved in the royal administration, often acting as the king’s intermediary and advisor on matters of state. Despenser’s presence at court fuelled tensions and rivalries among the nobility, particularly with the king’s wife, Queen Isabella of France, and her ally Roger Mortimer.

Despenser’s actions and policies as a royal advisor were controversial and divisive. He was accused of abusing his power, exploiting his influence for personal gain, and disregarding the interests of the realm. Despenser’s heavy-handed tactics and harsh treatment of his enemies further alienated the nobility and fuelled opposition to the king’s rule.

Despenser’s downfall came in 1326 when Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer led a rebellion against Edward II, seeking to overthrow the king and his favourites. Despenser and his father were captured, tried for treason, and executed in a gruesome fashion. Their deaths marked the end of a tumultuous chapter in English history and the downfall of one of the most powerful and controversial figures of Edward II’s reign.

Books about Medieval Life

More Medieval People