The Trial and the Sentence of Eleanor Cobham in English Historical Texts
Table of contents
The Trial and the Sentence of Eleanor Cobham in English Historical Texts
Publication type
Elena Kalmykova 
Affiliation: Lomonosov Moscow State University
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow

This article examines one of the most notorious trials in the history of medieval England. In 1441, Eleanor Cobham, the wife of Duke Humphrey Gloucester, the heir of Henry VI, the King of England and France, was accused of a conspiracy to assassinate the monarch. Allegedly, the duchess together with her trusted associates, among whom there were a famous necromancer and a well-known witch, conducted various magical operations, as a result of which the king was supposed to die from melancholia. After both secular and ecclesiastical courts condemned them, Eleanor’s associates were executed, while she was forced to do a three-day public penance and spent the rest of her days in confinement. Her marriage with the Duke of Gloucester was annulled even before the verdict. The article explores both these events themselves and different reasons for the fall of Eleanor Cobham, as reflected in both contemporary and later historical narratives. While for the contemporaries of the trial, who considered the court process fair and the sentence — just, the main reason was the unbounded hubris of the duchess who wanted to become a queen, the historians of the Tudor period tended to consider her a victim of political intrigues that aimed to discredit Duke Humphrey.

magic, necromancer, conspiracy, Royal council, trial, war, chronicles
Publication date
Number of characters
Number of purchasers
Readers community rating
0.0 (0 votes)
Cite Download pdf 100 RUB / 1.0 SU

To download PDF you should sign in

Full text is available to subscribers only
Subscribe right now
Only article
100 RUB / 1.0 SU
Whole issue
1000 RUB / 10.0 SU
All issues for 2019
2500 RUB / 50.0 SU


1. A Chronicle of London from 1089 to 1483 / ed. by N. H. Nicolas and E. Tyrrell. L., 1827.

2. A Chronicle of the grey friars of London / ed. by J. G. Nicolas. L., 1852.

3. An English Chronicle from 1377 to 1461 / ed. by J. S. Davies. L., 1856.

4. Calendar of the Close Rolls, 1435—1441. L., 1937.

5. Calendar of the Patent Rolls, 1436—1441. L., 1907.

6. Calendar of the Patent Rolls, 1441—1446. L., 1908.

7. Cartulaire des Comtes de Hainaut de l’avènement de Guillaume II à la mort de Jacqueline de Bavière / ed. by L. Devillers. Vol. IV. Brussels, 1889.

8. Chronicles of London / ed. by C. L. Kingsford. Oxford, 1905.

9. Emden A. B. Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to 1500. 3 vols. Oxford, 1957—1959.

10. English Historical literature in the Fifteenth century / ed. by C. L. Kingsford. Oxford, 1913.

11. Fabyan R. The New Chronicles of England and France / ed. by H. Ellis. L., 1811.

12. Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae, 1300—1541 / ed. by J. Le Neve. 12 vols. L., 1962—1967.

13. Foedera, conventions, litterae, et cujuscunque generis acta publica inter reges Angliae et alios quosvis imperatores, reges, pontifices, principes, vel communitates / ed. by Th. Rymer. 10 vols. Hague, 1737—1745.

14. Gregory W. Chronicle // The Historical collections of a citizen of London / ed. by J. Gairdner (Camden Society, New Series; XVII). Westminster, 1876. P. 55—239.

15. Griffiths K. A. The Trial of Eleanor Cobham: an episode in the fall of duke Humphey of Gloucester // Kind and country. England and Walls in the fifteenth century. L., 1991. P. 233—251.

16. Hall Ed. Hall’s chronicle: containing the history of England, during the reign of Henry the Fourth, and the succeeding monarchs, to the end of the reign of Henry the Eighth, in which are particularly described the manners and customs of those periods / ed. by H. Ellis. L., 1809.

17. Harriss G. L. Eleanor, duchess of Gloucester (c. 1400—1452) // Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online edn.). Oxford, 2008 [Ehlektronnyj resurs]. URL: doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/5742 (data obrascheniya: 21.07.2019).

18. Harriss G. L. Humphrey, duke of Gloucester [called Good Duke Humphrey] (1390—1452) // Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online edn.). Oxford, 2008 [Ehlektronnyj resurs]. URL: doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/14155 (data obrascheniya: 21.07.2019).

19. Hartley C. A Historical Dictionary of British Women. L., 2003.

20. Historical collections of a London citizen in the Fifteenth century / ed. by J. Gaidner. L., 1876.

21. Incerti scriptoris shronicon Angliae de regnis trium regum Lancastrensium, Henrici IV, Henrici V, et Henrici VI / ed. by J. A. Giles. L., 1848.

22. Janse A. Een pion voor een dame. Jacoba van Beieren (1401—1436), Amsterdam, 2009.

23. Kittredge G. L. Witchcraft in Old and New England. Cambridge (Mass.), 1929.

24. Letters and papers illustrative of the wars of the English in France / ed. by J. Stevenson. Vol. II. Pt. 2. L., 1864.

25. Myers A. R. The Captivity of the royal witch // Bulletin of the John Rylands Library. Vol. XXIV. 1940. P. 263—284; Vol. XXVI. 1941—1942. P. 82—100.

26. Political poems and songs relating to English history, composed during the period from the accession of Edward III to that of Richard III / ed. by Th. Wright. Vol. II. L., 1861.

27. Rotuli Parliamentorum / ed. by J. Strachey. Vol. IV. L., 1832.

28. Six Town Chronicles / ed. by R. Flenley. Oxford, 1911.

29. Stow J. Annales or General chronicle of England / ed. by Howes. L., 1631.

30. The Brut, or, the Chronicles of London / ed. by F. W. Brie. Vol. II. L., 1908.

31. The Great Chronicle of London / ed. by A. H. Thomas and I. D. Thornley. L., 1938.

32. Vickers K. H. Humphrey, duke of Gloucester. L., 1907.

33. Walsingham T. Historia Anglicana / ed. by T. N. Riley. Vol. II. L., 1864.

34. Weir A. Britain’s Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy. L., 1989.