The estates of the Clare Family 1066-1317
Throughout the early Middle Ages, the Clare earls of Hertford and. Gloucester were prominent figures on the political scene. Their position as baronial leaders was derived from their landed wealth, and was built up gradually over two hundred and fifty years. Richard I de Clare arrived in England in 1066 as a Norman adventurer, and was granted the honours of Tonbridge and Clare. The family more than doubled its lands during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, mainly by inheritance, the greatest acquisition being the honour of Gloucester in 1217. Only in the first half of the twelfth century was the honour an autonomous unit. In the honour of Clare, the earls relied on their own tenants as officials in the twelfth century, but in the thirteenth the administration was professional and bureaucratic. The earl's relations with his sub-tenants are unknown before the early fourteenth century; then, in contrast to other estates, the Clare honour-court was busy, strong and fairly efficient. In contrast to the honours of Clare and Gloucester, held of the king in chief, Tonbridge was held of the archbishop of Canterbury, and the relationship between archbishop and earl was the subject of several disputes. As to franchises, the earl exercised the highest which he possessed in England at Tonbridge; elsewhere he appropriated franchises on a large scale during the Barons' Wars of 1258-1265, but most of these were surrendered as a result of Edward I's quo warranto proceedings In the thirteenth century, the Clare earls of Gloucester were important Marcher lords. They strengthened their authority in Glamorgan by expelling most of the Welsh princes in northern Glamorgan, and they long avoided royal interference in their liberties. Nevertheless, in the notorious case of the earls of Hereford and Gloucester in 1291-2, Edward I temporarily succeeded in breaking down March custom.