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Thomas Holland

Earl of Kent
Born: circa 1314
Died: 28th December 1360 in Normandy, France


Sir Thomas Holland, the second son of Robert, 1st Lord Holland, and Maud De La Zouche, was engaged, in 1340, in the English expedition into Flanders and sent, two years later, with Sir John D'Artevelle to Bayonne, to defend the Gascon frontier against the French. In 1343, he was again on service in France; and, in the following year, had the honour of being chosen one of the founders of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. In 1346, he attended King Edward III into Normandy in the immediate retinue of the Earl of Warwick; and, at the taking of Caen, the Count D'Eu and Guisues, Constable of France, and the Count De Tancarville surrendered themselves to him as prisoners. At the Battle of Crécy, he was one of the principal commanders in the van under the Prince of Wales and he, afterwards, served at the Siege of Calais in 1346-7.

It was about this time, or shortly before the expedition, that he married the the twelve-year-old princess, Joan Plantagenet, the 'Fair Maid of Kent,' a grandaughter of King Edward I and sister and sole heir of John, Earl of Kent. However, it appears that, during his absence on foreign service, his consort contracted another matrimonial engagement with William Montacute, 2nd Earl of Salisbury (of whose household our knight had been seneschal). This second marriage was annulled in 1349 when her previous marriage with Holland was proved to the satisfaction of the papal commissioners.

He shared the naval triumph over the Spanish fleet near Ecluse in 1350. In 1353, the King, with the assent of Sir Thomas Holland and the Lady Joan, his wife, assigned, as dower, to Elizabeth, the widow of John, late Earl of Kent, numerous manors; and, in the same year, our knight had summons to parliament; and writs were in successive years directed to him until 1357. In March 1354, he was constituted the King's Lieutenant and Captain in Brittany and the parts of Poitou adjacent to the Duchy. He passed the ensuing winter and a great part of the following year on that high service; in which he was succeeded by Henry, Duke of Lancaster.

In 1358, Thomas and his lady went into Normandy, where, in the next year, he obtained the custody of the Castle and Fort of St. Sauveur-le-Vicomte and of all the castles late of Geoffrey De Harcourt, including Barfleur. Shortly afterwards, he was appointed, jointly with Philip of Navarre, the King's Lieutenant and Captain in Normandy; and, in 1360, that office was vested in him solely.

In the last-mentioned year, he assumed the title of Earl of Kent, in right of his wife; and on the 20th November was summoned to parliament by that title. But, in the following month, 28th December 1360, he died in Normandy. Thomas had issue, by the Lady Joan (shortly afterwards Princess of Wales), two sons: Thomas, 2nd Earl of Kent and John, Earl of Huntingdon & Duke of Exeter. He had also two daughters: Joan, the second consort of John IV, Duke of Brittany; and Maud, married, first, to Hugh, Lord Courtenay, and, secondly, to Waleran, Count De St. Pol.

Edited from George Frederick Beltz's
"Memorials of the Most Noble Order of the Garter" (1861).    Copyright ©2001, LLC