John Holland, 2nd Duke of Exeter

John Holland, 2nd Duke of Exeter, 2nd Earl of Huntingdon KG (29 March 1395 – 5 August 1447) was an English nobleman and military commander during the Hundred Years' War. His father, the 1st Duke of Exeter, was a maternal half-brother to Richard II of England, and was executed after King Richard's deposition. The Holland family estates and titles were forfeited, but John was able to recover them by dedicating his career to royal service. Holland rendered great assistance to his cousin Henry V in his conquest of France, fighting both on land and on the sea. He was marshal and admiral of England and governor of Aquitaine under Henry VI.[4]

John Holland
John Holland's effigy, Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London
Titles and styles
Born29 March 1395[1][2][3]
Dartington, Devonshire, England
Died5 August 1447 (aged 52)
Stepney, Middlesex, England
BuriedSt Katharine's by the Tower, London
SpousesLady Anne Stafford
Beatrice of Portugal
Lady Anne Montacute
Henry Holland, 3rd Duke of Exeter
Anne Holland, Baroness Neville
FatherJohn Holland, 1st Duke of Exeter
MotherElizabeth of Lancaster


He was the second son of John Holland, 1st Duke of Exeter by his wife Elizabeth of Lancaster. His paternal grandparents were Thomas Holland, 1st Earl of Kent and Joan of Kent (a grand-daughter of King Edward I), who after Holland's death had married Edward, the Black Prince. His maternal grandparents were John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster and Blanche of Lancaster. By his paternal grandmother, he was a half-nephew of King Richard II of England. By his maternal grandparents, he was a nephew of Henry IV of England, a first cousin of Henry V of England, and a first cousin once removed of Henry VI of England.


Holland was just a boy when his father conspired against Henry IV and was attainted and executed. Nevertheless, he was given a chance to serve Henry V in the 1415 campaign in France, where he distinguished himself at Agincourt. The next year Holland was restored in blood and to his father's earldom of Huntingdon, and was made a Knight of the Garter. (His older brother Richard had died in 1400). Over the next five years he held various important commands with the English forces in France and in 1420 was made Constable of the Tower of London. He was captured by the French in 1421 at the Battle of Baugé and spent four years in captivity, not being released until 1425.

Marriages and issue

He married thrice:


By an unnamed mistress or mistresses he also had several illegitimate children, two of whom he named in his will. William, Thomas and Robert, the so-called 'Bastards of Exeter', were active in the Lancastrian struggles, and Stow reported that two of them were among the notable dead at the Battle of Towton.[6]


In July 1416 he was appointed Lieutenant General to High Admiral of England Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter (the post later became known as Lieutenant of the Admiralty) until 1435.[7] In November 1432 he was made Deputy Marshall of England until September 1436.[8] In 1435 he was appointed High Admiral of England, Ireland and Aquitaine. In March 1438 Holand was appointed Commander of the Army for relieving the castle of Guînes.[9] In 1439 he was made the king's lieutenant in Aquitaine. He was made count of Ivry in France by John, Duke of Bedford. Holland recovered his father's dukedom of Exeter on 6 January 1443/1444,[10] and was given precedence just below the Duke of York. He was succeeded as duke by his son Henry.

Death & burial

There is an effigy of this John Holland in the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London.


  1. Griffiths 2004.
  2. Cokayne, Gibbs & Doubleday 1926, p. 205.
  3. Richardson 2011, p. 23.
  4. Chisholm 1911, p. 65.
  5. "The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/13530.
  6. Richardson 2011, p. 138.
  7. Walker, J. A. (January 1979). "John Holand, A Fifteenth-Century Admiral". The Mariner's Mirror. 65 (3): 235–242. doi:10.1080/00253359.1979.10659150.
  8. Walker
  9. Walker
  10. Richardson 2011, p. 135.


John Holland, 2nd Duke of Exeter
Born: 29 March 1395 Died: 5 August 1447
Political offices
Preceded by
The Duke of Bedford
Lord High Admiral of England
Succeeded by
The Earl of Suffolk
Peerage of England
Title last held by
John Holland
Duke of Exeter
1443 – 1447
Succeeded by
Henry Holland
Earl of Huntingdon
1416 – 1447
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