GEOFFREY DE GENEVILLE: ONE MAN, TWO KINGS, THREE COUNTRIES

A summary by Stella Mason of a talk given at the 2014 Spring Conference by
Dr Beth Hartland (Victoria County History)
Beth Hartland studied at the University of Durham and was awarded a PhD in 2001 for her work on 'English Rule in Ireland, c1272-c1315: Aspects of Royal and Aristocratic Lordship'. Before joining the Henry III Fine Rolls Project in 2006, she was Senior Research Associate on the AHRC-funded 'English Landholding in Ireland c1200-c1360' at the University of Durham.

Geoffrey de Geneville occurs as a shadowy figure in the background of the story of the Mortimers of Ludlow and Trim. He was the subject of Dr Hartland’s MA thesis and we are grateful to her for dispelling the mystery and presenting evidence of a remarkable life. Born around 1225, he lived until he was 89, remaining a loyal servant of the Crown and maintaining a public career as a knight and diplomat throughout his long life.

Born in the Champagne region of France he became Sire de Vaucouleurs in 1241 and retained his interest there until he passed it on to his second son in 1294. Peter de Savoy, uncle of Henry III's wife, Eleanor, probably arranged Geoffrey's marriage to Matilda de Lacy, co-heiress of the de Lacy lands in England, Wales and Ireland. He became a trusted advisor to the Lord Edward and was part of the group which engineered Edward’s escape from Simon de Montfort in 1265 and gave him shelter in Ludlow Castle.

He accompanied Edward I on Crusade in 1270-73 and was appointed Justiciar of Ireland from 1273-6 by the new king. His diplomatic career included negotiating with Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in 1267, acting as envoy at the Papal court twice and, in 1299 at the age of 74, representing the English king at the Treaty of Montreuil.

In 1308 he gave over most of his lands to his granddaughter Joan and her husband Roger Mortimer, and retired to the Priory at Trim, no doubt giving thanks for his long and interesting life.