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Lady Elizabeth Montacute: Wikis

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Tomb of Lady Elizabeth Montacute in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford

Lady Elizabeth de Montfort (died 1354) was born in Beaudesert Castle, Warwickshire, England, which was owned by her father, Peter de Montfort II. She married William Montacute, 2nd Baron Montacute (or Montagu).

Her marriage was arranged by Eleanor of Castile, the first wife of King Edward I of England. This seems surprising, considering that Elizabeth’s grandfather, Peter de Montfort, had kidnapped the young Prince Edward during the Barons' Revolt of 1258–1265. Peter de Montfort (regarded by some as the first Speaker of the House of Commons) then died fighting against Prince Edward at the Battle of Evesham in 1265. Edward was eager to make peace with the aristocracy after the battle, and things were fairly well patched up within a few years. His wife’s role in arranging the marriage was part of an elaborate system of arranged marriages designed to reinforce the power of the king and his aristocracy.

Both Elizabeth and William came from wealthy families, and they donated some of their money to various causes. Lady Elizabeth was a major benefactor of Saint Frideswide's Church, now called Christ Church, which is the cathedral of Oxford University. Her tomb now lies between the Latin Chapel, whose construction she funded, and the Dean’s Chapel, where she was originally buried under its magnificent painted ceiling (now faded by time).

She also donated a large piece of land to St. Frideswide in exchange for a chantry. This meant that two chantry priests would say daily mass in black robes bearing the Montacute and Montfort coats of arms. This continued until the Reformation. This piece of land, just south of the church is now called Christ Church Meadow. Later, the path through this was named Christ Church Walk and is now a very popular attraction in Oxford.

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