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Black Death: The Dowagers Le Strange

The Black Death has returned and it is killing more noblemen than noblewomen probably because the men are more public and thus exposed. But when all the male heirs die it creates confusion. A battle has begun between the Dowager Anakretta Le Strange (the widow of John the First Le Strange) and Dowager Elizabeth Le Strange (the widow of John the Second Le Strange). Anakretta should have vacated the estate within 40 days but she claimed land from her original dowry, bought a small estate from her son, John the Second, at a ridiculously low price before he died and otherwise made herself unmovable. Elizabeth has her own claims and must be bought off. Then when Anakretta dies, the Dowager Mary Le Strange (the widow of John III le Strange) makes her claims from the estate. According to historian, Norman Cantor, "For a rich gentry family this blow was equivalent to a 60 percent crash in the stock market today—if every single asset was held in stock." Eventually, the Le Strange estate will pass to the Lord Talbot and the Le Strange name will be struck from the rolls. [1] [2] [3] [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Black Death will hit hard in 1361 and several times again. Historians note that the long-term damage from the previous Plague would not be felt until a generation later. The current wave of Plague is accelerating that disruption but the shrewd man or woman who is willing to make the hard choices will survive. Also note that the "Le Strange" family name was used as the villains of the Harry Potter series.

The Black Prince and the Fair Maid Joan

Edward the Black Prince of England has married the Countess of Kent, the Fair Maid Joan. As happy as marriages can be, at the royal level nothing happens by chance. This marriage is as much a political move as a partnership... and this one goes wrong almost immediately though they don't know it yet. In this same year, Henry of Grosmont, the Duke of Lancaster, dies this year, passing his estate by marriage to the Black Prince's younger brother, John of Gaunt. Combined with his current holdings, that will make John of Gaunt richer than the rest of the royal family. The Black Prince and the Fair Maid Joan will have a kid, Richard II, the heir to the throne after the Black Prince dies and that will cause a fight for the throne in 1399 between the son of John of Gaunt, Henry IV, and King Richard II. [5] [6]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
It seems amazing that the nobility, as calculating as they could be, were not very self-reflective. When this imbalance in the wealth of John of Gaunt was created, they didn't think ahead about what the consequences might be for their children. John, himself, was not the problem. Also remember that last year Joan's cousin, Isabella of Kent, had been fishing for a marriage amongst the brigands and caught him. This is yet another example of a total lack of reflection on who they were marrying except in terms of power and linage. Isabella's husband would be considered a mobster in the modern day. "That's a mighty nice castle you have there. It would be ashamed if a wandering band of brigands were to come along. Know what I mean?"

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1361, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Cantor, Norman F., In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death and the World It Made, Harper Perennial, 2001. pp. 130-134. (BOOK)
  2. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1991. p. 193. (BOOK) quote="Black Death reappears in England"
  3. Lewis, Jone Johnson. What Does the Title Dowager Mean?, About.com, 2014 [last update] |quote=his
  4. Dowager - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  5. Cantor, Norman F., In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death and the World It Made, Harper Perennial, 2001. pp. 54-58. (BOOK)
  6. Joan of Kent - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]

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