Re: Henry de Bohun
By Jim Fina February 07, 2007 at 01:13:10
You're welcome. I did some more looking as I had the time, but I'm not sure this helps a great deal. Again, citing Thomas Gray’s Scalacronica, “Peris de Mountforth, knight, was slain with an axe by the hand of Robert de Bruce, as was reported.”
While I can’t find a Sir Peris (Piers, Peter) de Montfort who was killed at the battle of Bannockburn (Stryvelin to the English), a Sir John de Montfort, 2nd Baron Montfort, (brother of Sir Peter de Montfort, 3rd Baron Montfort), was killed at Bannockburn [BXP:377]. So it remains possible the identity of the knight who charged the Bruce could have been John de Montfort, brother of Peter (or it’s also possible that BXP, or it’s sources could have confused the two brothers). Since the knights wore heavy armor even a witness to an incident (lasting perhaps a minute or two) would not necessarily have been able to identify a knight since he either wore his own colors, or those of the Lord he served.
As to the knight being identified as Henry de Bohun, it appears the first instance of this is in John Barbour’s The Brus. Barbour himself was born a year or two after Bannockburn, and wrote the epic poem at age 60, in 1375, for which he received a life pension. In addition, the poem recounting the incident where the Bruce split the helm of the attacking knight, the text has often been translated as the nephew of Humphrey de Bohen. But look at the wording of the poem itself:
25 And quhen Glosyster and Herfurd wer
With thar bataill approchand ner
Befor thaim all thar come ridand
With helm on heid and sper in hand
Schyr Henry the Boune the worthi,
30 That was a wycht knycht and a hardy
And to the erle off Herfurd cusyne,
[notice here the word is cusyne (cousin), not nephew]
Armyt in armys gud and fyne
Come on a sted a bow-schote ner
Befor allother that thar wer,
35 And knew the king for that he saw
Him sua rang his men on raw
And by the croune that wes set
Alsua apon his bassynet,
And towart him he went in hy.
40 And quhen the king sua apertly
Saw him cum forouth all his feris
In hy till him the hors he steris.
And quhen Schyr Henry saw the king
Cum on foroutyn abaysing
45 Till him he raid in full gret hy,
He thocht that he suld weill lychtly
Wyn him and haf him at his will
Sen he him horsyt saw sa ill.
Sprent thai samyn intill a ling,
50 Schyr Hanry myssit the noble king
And he that in his sterapys stud
With the ax that wes hard and gud
With sua gret mayne raucht him a dynt
That nother hat na helm mycht stynt
55 The hevy dusche that he him gave
That ner the heid till the harnys clave.
The hand-ax schaft fruschit in twa,
And he doune to the erd gan ga
All flatlynys for him faillyt mycht.
(Book 12, lines 25-50)
I included enough of the poem so as to be able to read it into context. The word cousin, in identifying Henry de Bohun’s relationship to Humphrey de Bohun leaves a great deal more room in who this Henry might have been, assuming Barbour is correct and he was a de Bohun. I did check both the de Bohuns, Earls of Hereford and the de Bohun family of Midhurst and Eastbourne, Sussex, but found no son named Henry who died anywhere near the date of Bannockburn. So it remains somewhat of a mystery who this unfortunate knight could have been.