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Robert de Clifford
File:File:Arms of Clifford.svg
Arms of Clifford: Chequy or and azure, a fesse gules, recorded by the heralds as having been borne by him in the Caerlaverock Roll of 1300
Baron de Clifford
Succeeded by Roger de Clifford, 2nd Baron de Clifford
Personal details
Born (1274-04-01)April 1, 1274
Clifford Castle, Herefordshire, England.
Died June 24, 1314(1314-06-24) (aged 40) (Died at the Battle of Bannockburn)
Bannockburn, Stirlingshire, Scotland.
Nationality English
Spouse(s) Maud de Clare
Parents Roger II de Clifford
Isabella de Vipont
Residence Appleby Castle
Brougham Castle
Skipton Castle

Seal of Robert de Clifford, 1st Baron de Clifford (c.1274–1314) affixed to the 1301 Barons' Letter to the Pope, in the Latin text of which he is described as Robertus de Clifford, Castellanus de Appelby ("Constable of Appleby Castle"). Legend: S(igillum) Roberti de Cliford ("Seal of Robert de Clifford"). Arms: Chequy or and azure, a fesse gules

Caesar's Tower, 12th century keep of Appleby Castle, seat of Robert de Clifford

Robert de Clifford, 1st Baron de Clifford (1 April 1274 - 24 June 1314), of Appleby Castle, Westmorland, feudal baron of Appleby and feudal baron of Skipton in Yorkshire, was an English soldier who became 1st Lord Warden of the Marches, responsible for defending the English border with Scotland.


He was born at Clifford Castle,[citation needed] Herefordshire, a son of Roger II de Clifford (d.1282) (a grandson of Walter II de Clifford (d.1221), feudal baron of Clifford[1][2]) by his wife Isabella de Vipont (d.1291), one of the two daughters and co-heiresses of Robert II de Vipont (d.1264), feudal baron of Appleby, grandson of Robert I de Vieuxpont (d.1227/8). Thenceforth the Clifford family quartered the arms of Vipont: Gules, six annulets or.

The ancient Norman family which later took the name de Clifford arrived in England during the Norman Conquest of 1066, and became feudal barons of Clifford, first seated in England at Clifford Castle in Herefordshire.


As his father had predeceased his own father, in 1286, Robert inherited the estates of his grandfather, Roger I de Clifford (d.1286). Following the death of his mother, Isabella de Vipont, in 1291, he inherited a one-half moiety of the extensive Vipont feudal barony of Appleby in Westmorland, including Appleby Castle and Brougham Castle. During the outbreak of the Wars of Scottish Independence, in 1296, Brougham Castle became an important military base for Robert, and in 1300, King Edward I of England visited there. In 1308, Robert was granted the remaining moiety of the barony of Appleby, by his childless aunt Idonea de Vipont (d.1333),[3] and thus became one of the most powerful barons in England.


During the reigns of the English Kings, Edward I and Edward II, Clifford was a prominent soldier. In 1296, he was sent with Henry de Percy, 1st Baron Percy to quell the Scots who asked for terms of surrender at Irvine. He was then appointed Governor of Carlisle. During the reign of King Edward I, he was styled Warden of the Marches, and during the reign of King Edward II, as Lord Warden of the Marches, being the first holder of this office.[4] In 1298, he fought for King Edward I at the Battle of Falkirk, in which William Wallace was defeated, for which he was rewarded with Governorship of Nottingham Castle. In 1299, he was created Baron de Clifford by writ and summoned to Parliament. He won great renown at the Siege of Caerlaverock Castle, in 1300, during which his armorials (Chequy or and azure, a fesse gules) were recorded by the heralds on the famous Caerlaverock Roll or Poem, which read (translated from French):[5] "Strength from wisdom drawing, Robert Lord de Clifford's mind is bent on his enemies' subjection. Through his mother his descent comes from that renowned Earl Marshal at Constantinople, said to have battled with a unicorn and struck the monster dead. All the merits of his grandsire, Roger, still in Robert spring. Of no praise is he unworthy; wiser none was with the King. Honoured was his banner, checky gold and blue, a scarlet fess. Were I maiden, heart and body I would yield to such noblesse!" Clifford was one of many who sealed the 1301 Barons' Letter to the Pope, in the Latin text of which he is described as Robertus de Clifford, Castellanus de Appelby ("Constable of Appleby Castle").[6] After the death of King Edward I, in 1307, he was appointed counsellor to his son, King Edward II, together with Henry de Lacy, 3rd Earl of Lincoln, the Earl of Warwick, and the Earl of Pembroke. In the same year of 1307, the new King appointed him Marshal of England, and in this capacity he probably organised Edward II's coronation on 25 February 1308. On 12 March 1308, he was relieved of the marshalcy, the custodianship of Nottingham Castle, and of his Forest justiceship, but on 20 August 1308, he was appointed captain and chief guardian of Scotland.[7] In 1310, King Edward II granted him Skipton Castle, and he was created Lord of Skipton, being given the feudal barony of Skipton in Yorkshire, held until that date by Earl Henry de Lacy (1251-1311).[8] Henry had married Margaret Longespée, Clifford's cousin and heiress of the feudal barony of Clifford, which had descended in the female line from Clifford's great-great-uncle, Walter II de Clifford (d.1263), Margaret's maternal grandfather.[2] Skipton Castle would later become the principal seat of the Clifford family until 1676. In 1312, together with Thomas Crouchback, 2nd Earl of Lancaster, he took part in the movement against Piers Gaveston, King Edward II's favourite, whom he besieged at Scarborough Castle.

Marriage & progeny

In 1295, at Clifford Castle, he married Maud de Clare, eldest daughter of Thomas de Clare, Lord of Thomond and Juliana FitzGerald. By Maud, he had four children:[9]

  • Roger de Clifford, 2nd Baron de Clifford (b. 21 January 1281)
  • Idonia (or Idonea) de Clifford (b. c.1303), married Henry de Percy, 2nd Baron Percy.
  • Robert de Clifford, 3rd Baron de Clifford (b. 5 November 1305)
  • Margaret de Clifford (b.1307), married as her second husband, Piers de Mauley, 5th Lord Mauley (1300-1355).

Death & burial

Clifford was killed on 24 June 1314 fighting at the Battle of Bannockburn[4] and was buried at Shap Abbey in Westmoreland.


  1. Sanders, I.J., English Baronies: A Study of their Origin and Descent 1086-1327, Oxford, 1960, pp. 35-6, '"Clifford"
  2. 2.0 2.1 Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, p.194
  3. Sanders, p. 104, Appleby
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Notes and Queries". Oxford University Press. 15 March 1862. p. 220. 
  6. Howard de Walden, Lord, Some Feudal Lords and their Seals 1301, published 1903 reprinted 1984, image of seal p.31
  7. Henry Summerson, Robert Clifford, first Lord Clifford, Oxford Online Dictionary of National Biography, 2004
  8. Sanders, I.J. English Baronies: A Study of their Origin and Descent 1086-1327, Oxford, 1960, p.143
  9.  "Clifford, Robert de". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. "[[Wikisource:1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Clifford|]]" Encyclopædia Britannica Cambridge University Press 
Peerage of England
Preceded by
New Creation
Baron de Clifford
Succeeded by
Roger de Clifford
Political offices
Preceded by
Roger Bigod
Lord Marshal
Succeeded by
Nicholas Seagrave

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