John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury

John Talbot
Shrewsbury Book f.2 (Talbot-Dog).jpg
Detail of illuminated miniature from the Talbot Shrewsbury Book showing John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, KG, with his dog, presenting the book to Margaret of Anjou, Queen of England, 1445. His robe displays several encircled Garters.
Bornc. 1387
Blackmere castle, Shropshire
52°58′40″N 2°39′24″W / 52°58′40″N 2°39′24″W / 52.97767; -2.65680
Died17 July 1453
Castillon-la-Bataille, Gascony
Cause of deathSlain in battle
Resting placeSt Alkmund's Church, Whitchurch
Title1st Earl of Shrewsbury
Tenure20 May 1442 – 17 July 1453
Other titles
Known forMilitary activity during the Hundred Years' War
OfficesLieutenant of Ireland
Lord High Steward of Ireland
Constable of France
Spouse(s)Maud Neville, 6th Baroness Furnivall (m. c. 1407, d. 1422)
Margaret Beauchamp (m. 1425)
Military career
AllegianceRoyal Arms of England (1399-1603).svg Kingdom of England
Service/branchEnglish army
Years of service1404–1453
AwardsOrder of the Garter (1424)
MemorialsNear Castillon-la-Bataille
"The right noble knight John Talbot Earl of Shrewsbury". Imaginary engraving made by Thomas Cecill c. 1625–32, British Museum, 1862,1011.234
Arms of Sir John Talbot, 7th Baron Talbot, at the time of his installation into the Most Noble Order of the Garter

Sir John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, 1st Earl of Waterford, 7th Baron Talbot, KG (c. 1387 – 17 July 1453), known as "Old Talbot", was an English nobleman and a noted military commander during the Hundred Years' War. He was the most renowned in England and most feared in France of the English captains in the last stages of the conflict. Known as a tough, cruel, and quarrelsome man,[1] Talbot distinguished himself militarily in a time of decline for the English. Called the "English Achilles" and the "Terror of the French", he is lavishly praised in the plays of Shakespeare. The manner of his death, leading a charge against artillery, has come to symbolize the passing of the age of chivalry.[2] He also held the subsidiary titles of 10th Baron Strange of Blackmere and 6th Baron Furnivall jure uxoris.


He was descended from Richard Talbot, a tenant in 1086 of Walter Giffard at Woburn and Battlesden in Bedfordshire. The Talbot family were vassals of the Giffards in Normandy.[3] Hugh Talbot, probably Richard's son, made a grant to Beaubec Abbey, confirmed by his son Richard Talbot in 1153. This Richard (died 1175) is listed in 1166 as holding three fees of the Honour of Giffard in Buckinghamshire. He also held a fee at Linton in Herefordshire, for which his son Gilbert Talbot (died 1231) obtained a fresh charter in 1190.[4] Gilbert's grandson Gilbert (died 1274) married Gwenlynn Mechyll, daughter and sole heiress of the Welsh Prince Rhys Mechyll, whose armorials the Talbots thenceforth assumed in lieu of their own former arms. Their son Sir Richard Talbot, who signed the Barons' Letter of 1301, held the manor of Eccleswall in Herefordshire in right of his wife Sarah, sister of William de Beauchamp, 9th Earl of Warwick. In 1331 Richard's son Gilbert Talbot (1276–1346) was summoned to Parliament, which is considered evidence of his baronial status – see Baron Talbot.[5] Gilbert's son Richard married Elizabeth Comyn, bringing with her the inheritance of Goodrich Castle.

John Talbot was born in about 1384[6] or more likely around 1387[7] as second son of Richard Talbot (4th Baron Talbot) of Goodrich Castle by Ankaret, daughter and sole heiress of the 4th Baron Strange of Blackmere.[8] His birthplace was Black Mere Castle (the caput of his mother's estates) near Whitchurch, Shropshire, which is now a scheduled monument listed as Blakemere Moat, site of the demolished fortified manor house. His younger brother Richard became Archbishop of Dublin and Lord Chancellor of Ireland: he was one of the most influential Irish statesmen of his time, and his brother's most loyal supporter during his often troubled years in Ireland. John also had an elder brother, Gilbert (born 1383), who was heir to their parents' baronies of Talbot and Strange.

His father died in 1396 when Talbot was just nine years old, and so it was Ankaret's second husband, Thomas Neville, Lord Furnivall, who became the major influence in his early life. The marriage (1401) also gave the opportunity of a title for her second son, as Neville had no sons, with the title Baron Furnivall going through his eldest daughter Maud[9] (Talbot's stepsister), who would become John's first wife. Their marriage resulted in John styling himself as John Talbot, 6th Baron Furnivall.