Henry of Grosmont (Derby) (c.1310-1361)
My favourite knight Henry of Gosmont, Earl of Derby, cousin and friend of Edward III and his lieutenant in Aquitaine, known to the Gasons as 'Erbi' who became the first Duke of Lancaster.
According to his own memoir, the Livre de seyntz medicines (1354), Henry of Grosmont was in his youth tall, blond, and lean, strong in the arts of the chase and at the lists, though weaker in bookish matters: he claimed that he learned to write only later in life, and remained ill at ease with French. His possession of two gold statues, one of Tristan and Isolde and the other of the god of love, suggests that he took an interest in the romance literature of courtly love. Henry reveals his taste for courtly pastimes in youth and his middle-aged predilection for good food and wine: the Livre indicates that he was suffering from gout when he wrote it.
He was so successful in his Bererac campaign (1345 - 1346) that t was rumoured that the ransoms collected by the English after Auberoche amounted to £50,000 and more, and it is hardly surprising that Lancaster's great palace of the Savoy in London, begun in the late 1340s, was said to have been constructed on the profits of this campaign.
He was a founder member of the Order of the Garter at its inception in 1348 and At the next available parliament, held early in 1351, Edward affirmed this personal bond by raising Lancaster to the rank of duke and granting his county of Lancaster the status of a palatinate for the term of his life. Only one duke had been created in England before this date (Edward the Black Prince, had been made duke of Cornwall in 1337), and the grant of palatine powers was without parallel in recent history, establishing the county on the same privileged basis as the ancient palatinates of Cheshire and Durham.
What a great guy!
Picture © British Library