This was originally posted on the Nevill Guide to the Wars of the Roses.
(from The Politics of Fifteenth Century England: John Vales Book, Kekewich, Richmond, Sutton, Visser-Fuchs, Watts (eds), Alan Sutton, 1995, pp 262-4))
Challenges exchanged by Lord Bonville and the earl of Devon, 1455
All due salutacions of frendlihod laide aparte forasmuche that it is openly knowen unto God and alle the worlde, and namely to the kingis highnesse, his lordis and communes of this his lande, that thow by divers tymes and oftyn falsly, cowardly and traiturously haste arraied and laide in awaite to muscheve and murdre me and my servauntes being the kinges trewe liegemen, had not be the greate and especial grace and righwusnesse of God, and by the colour of the same aswele ayeinste the lawe of God and of man, as that shulde preteigne to thine estate, in trowthe hast made divers and many assemblees of suche as shulde be the kinges trewe liege people being arraunt thieves, housbrenners and murderers be thyne abbettement procuring, receyving and mayntenaunce. And theruppon takin, robbed, murdered and also biseged, assauted and put at raunson the kinges trewe liege people, by the same entending the destrucion of the commune wele, like as I shal my selfe in propre person upon thi body in that quarrell fighte and make it good. Requiring the uppon suche worship as can be thoughte in the, that thou in salvacion not all oonly of the kinges citie and his trewe liege people withinne the same dwelling, but also of all suche as bene faithefully and trewely disposed unto the and me belonging, be to morow at viij of the clokke in the felde and envaunce thi selfe tabide and fighte in thi proper personne in opteigning suche worship as thou holdist thi selfe of. Promytting the as I am the kinges trewe liegeman and knight that I shall in my diffenc uppon the premisses as for the commune wele of all the kinges trewe liege people, and namely dwellers of this shire, ful redy to recounter the and toptene or dye therfore yif God will yif thou to be oon tyme of the day apperalle. And uppon this request and present writing sende me answer. Letting the wete yif thou do not I shal put me in Goddes rightfulnesse in this trewe and just querell tassayle the and all suche as be of thy fals oppynyon and assent ther as I may have knowledge whersoever that you bee.
And the response:
Wretin at Bisshippis Clisse etc,
William lord of Bonevill
All frendly greting stonde for nought, and where as thou in thy writing falsely pretendest that I by divers tymes and ofte falsly, cowardly and traitourously have araied and laide in awaite to mischeve and murthre the and thy servauntes, ayenst the lawe of God and of man and be divers tymes and mane assembliesse of suche as shulde be the kinges liege people, being as thou rehersest arrant theves, howsbrenners and murderers be abbettment, procuring, receytting and mayntenaunce, takin, brenned, robbed, murderid and also biseged, assawted and put at raunson the kinges trewe liege people, and bi the same intending the destruction of the commune wele. I saye that thou in thi saying in all suche premisses arte fals and untrewe and all othre of thy oppynion being in thy companye. And that wol I, in my prove, at tyme and place by me and the appoynted the kinges highenesse not displeased, in avoiding of sheding of blood of all odur the kinges trewe liege people. Wretin under my signet at the citie of Excestre.
Thomas erle of Devonshire.
The two men did meet and fight, Bonville getting the worst of it – I know little of the detail of this as yet. The outcome, however, did not come down in Devon’s favour, as this prompted the duke of York (then Protector & Defender of England for the second time) to sort the whole mess out, largely in Bonville’s favour.
Bonville had been instrumental in aiding York in quelling the disturbances in the north of England in 1454, when the Nevill-Percy feud got out of hand and the young duke of Exeter attempted his coup. Bonville’s son, William lord Harrington (or grandson – I can’t quite work out the generations here) married Salisbury’s daughter, Katheryn, in 1458. Harrington and his father were killed at Wakefield, the grandfather was executed after second St Albans.
I’m going to be getting my head properly around the Bonville-Courtenay feud soon, and will blog it in more detail.