Geneville (Joinville), Geoffrey de (p.1226–1314), justiciar of Ireland and royal agent, was born in, or shortly after, 1226, the younger son of Simon, lord of Joinville, seneschal of Champagne, and his second wife, Beatrix, daughter of Estienne, count of Burgundy and Auxonne. Brother of Jean de Joinville, the loyal companion and biographer of St Louis, he was in France, as lord of Vaucouleurs, until 1252, when he went to England in the company of Peter of Savoy, his brother-in-law, and uncle of the queen of England, Eleanor of Provence. In that year, before August, he married Matilda (Maud), the younger daughter of Gilbert de Lacy and co-heir, with her sister Margaret, of Walter de Lacy (qv), lord of Meath; Matilda was the widow of Peter de Genevre, who had only lately died. In 1254 Geneville and his wife accompanied Henry III to Gascony, and there in February, August, and September they received a full restoration of the lordship of Trim's liberties and franchises. They remained in Gascony with the Lord Edward until the following year and do not seem to have visited their Irish lands until 1262. Despite this, Geneville's seneschal of Meath was accused by the abbot of Mellifont of abusing his power and overstretching his jurisdiction, and the lord of Trim was involved in lengthy litigation with the abbot.
Geneville remained firmly in the royalist camp throughout the upheaval following the provisions of Oxford, and in 1260 was summoned to defend the Welsh marches against Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (the Lacy inheritance included the barony of Weobley in Wales, which was partitioned between Geneville and his brother-in-law John de Verdon (qv) in June 1260). During the long drift into civil war in England he was summoned on more than one occasion to serve by the king's side to defend him against what was perceived to be an imminent revolt. In 1262 he led a raid against the Irish of Annaly. In July that year he was appointed, temporarily, joint custodian of the estates of the deceased earl of Gloucester. By 1264 he was spending much of his time in Ireland, and as a member of the king's Irish council he took over the reins of government as acting justiciar of Ireland in December 1264, following the capture of the justiciar, Richard de la Rochelle (qv), by Maurice fitz Maurice FitzGerald (qv) and Maurice FitzGerald (qv) during their conflict with the earl of Ulster, Walter de Burgh (qv). His first act was to garrison and munition Dublin castle against any possible assault by the Geraldines; he then raised an army and marched against them. By April 1265 they had come to terms and at an assembly at Dublin on 19 April a series of ordinances concerning a peace settlement were agreed by all the magnates present. The same day Geneville relinquished the justiciarship to Rochelle. In May he was called before Henry to report on the state of Ireland.
Meanwhile the Montfortian regime in England, anxious that the recently escaped Lord Edward should find no succour in Ireland, summoned Geneville and others to Westminster, ostensibly to consult over the affairs of Ireland. Montfort may have been alarmed by the news that Edward, on his escape from captivity, stayed at Ludlow castle in Wales, the caput of Geneville's lordship there. It is almost certain that he was not present at the battle of Evesham (August 1265) but in 1266 took part in the siege of Kenilworth castle. In September 1267 he was one of Henry's envoys sent to engineer a truce with Llywelyn in Wales. The following year he took the crusader's vow with Edward and in 1270 accompanied him to the Holy Land. He was present with the king in France in 1273 and it was probably that summer that he became Edward's first official appointee to the justiciarship of Ireland.
Geneville appeared to possess all the qualities the king was looking for in his chief governor: he was close to the court, possessed very considerable estates in Ireland, had proven his loyalty to the crown on numerous occasions, knew the lordship of Ireland and its magnates well, had experience campaigning there, and was diplomatically and militarily competent. He had arrived in Ireland by September 1273. A series of royal mandates closely followed his appointment; these invested more authority in his hands as the king's representative and in particular gave him more power over the officials of the Dublin bureaucracy and the local administration. His first concern was to try to deal with the very dangerous situation in the Dublin and Wicklow mountains, and to this end early in 1274 he raised an army under the command of William FitzRoger (qv), the prior of Kilmainham. FitzRoger's expedition was an unmitigated disaster, the army was destroyed and the prior captured. The following year Geneville himself led a more modest force against the MacMurroughs, but it too had little tangible success. Early in 1276 yet another army was raised, this time led by the justiciar's former crusading companion, Thomas de Clare (qv), to which the justiciar personally committed more than 2,000 troops drawn from his lordship of Trim. A combination of bad weather and an atrocious lack of supplies led to an outbreak of famine in the army, and it too failed to quell the rebellion in Leinster.
Apart from the serious setbacks in Leinster, Geneville's term of office was relatively successful. In 1274 he spent some time in Connacht rebuilding the royal castles at Athlone, Roscommon, and Randown, and he also managed to impose a temporary peace on the rival claimants to the kingship of Connacht. In 1275 he continued to devote much of his time to Connacht, despite the problems in Leinster, and led a successful campaign against Tadg O'Connor and his followers. In a series of remarkable letters to the king in 1276 he requested that he might be allowed to resign as justiciar; in furious terms he denounced the lack of cooperation he received from his fellow magnates when he tried to introduce (unspecified) reforms to the lordship, and he expounded the difficulties of his office as he saw them. Certainly his time as justiciar was not as bleak as it has often been portrayed by some historians, but his bitterness and disillusionment are palpable in his correspondence, and his sense of personal disappointment must have been compounded when his successor, Robert Ufford (qv), in his first foray into the Leinster mountains, brought the Irish to terms.
In 1277 Geneville seems to have spent a brief time in France supervising his estates in Champagne, but he had returned to Ireland by the following year. In 1280 he was appointed as Edward's representative and arbitrator in the peace talks at Paris between the kings of Castile and France. Before his departure for France he managed to stave off a worrying threat from the Irish administration intent on curtailing his liberty's jurisdiction. Late in 1282 he was with Edward on his campaign in Wales against Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, and the following year he was sent by royal commission to Gascony. Also in 1283 he divested himself of all of his English and Welsh properties and passed them to his eldest son, Peter (Piers); despite the king's initial misgivings he arranged his son's marriage to the daughter of Hugh de Lusignan, count of La Marche and Angoulême. Between 1284 and 1290 he remained in Ireland, but in 1290 he was sent on an embassy to Rome by the king to arrange terms for Edward's proposed forthcoming crusade.
In 1294 Geneville's liberty of Trim was confiscated by the crown as punishment for his continued contempt in not executing a royal mandate concerning the jurisdiction of his lordship. It was soon restored, however, following his service in Wales in 1295. During the serious dispute between Edward and the earls of Norfolk and Hereford, respectively hereditary marshal and constable of the king's armies, Geneville was called in to mediate on the crown's behalf, but he withdrew from this role when, having been appointed marshal, he served with Edward in Flanders in 1297. Much of the following two years he spent in Paris on the king's behalf, negotiating a peace treaty between France and England, and in 1300 was sent to Rome to have the treaty ratified by the pope. In 1301, along with the justiciar, John Wogan (qv), he was charged with leading the recruitment effort in Ireland for the king's forthcoming expedition to Scotland, and he saw to the negotiation of wages and the drawing up of contracts. In 1305, despite his great age, he continued to defend indefatigably the jurisdiction of his liberty from encroachments by the administration. In December 1307 he obtained permission from Edward II to surrender his lordship to his granddaughter, Joan, the daughter of his son Peter (d. 1292), and her husband, Roger Mortimer (qv). In November 1308 he retired to the Dominican priory of Trim, where he died, a friar, on 21 October 1314 and was buried.
His marriage to Matilda (d. 1304) produced at least ten children. Two of his sons went to France to inherit the family lands there, one son became a cleric in minor orders in Ireland, another married the heiress of a moderately wealthy family; one of his younger sons, Simon de Geneville, had a long and significant career in Meath. One daughter became a prioress and another married the count of Salmes.