20 February, 2015

Following in Edward II's Footsteps in Italy

I'm delighted to announce that in September this year, I'll be travelling to northern Italy at the kind invitation of two Italian cultural associations, Associazione Chesterton in Vercelli and The World of Tels in Pavia.  The latter organisation also run the fantastic Auramala Project - brilliant and extremely important work researching Edward II's afterlife in Italy (please do read their About page for more info).  As many of you will know, Manuele Fieschi, an Italian nobleman by birth, papal notary and and appointed bishop of Vercelli in the early 1340s, wrote a letter to Edward III in the 1330s explaining how Edward II had escaped from Berkeley Castle in 1327, and made his way to Corfe Castle, Ireland, Avignon to see the pope and finally to Italy, where "he changed himself to the castle of Cecima in another hermitage of the diocese of Pavia in Lombardy, and he was in this last hermitage for two years or thereabouts, always the recluse, doing penance and praying to God for you and other sinners."  (Full text of the famous Fieschi Letter is here.)

This hermitage of Cecima in Lombardy can only mean the remote Sant'Alberto di Butrio, which still exists today and is still a hermitage.  Their website, in Italian and English, contains much information about Edward II.  When I looked at the site a few months ago while writing the chapter of my book about Edward and his murder/survival, I squeaked with surprise and pleasure to see my own name there several times!  They very kindly call me 'today's leading scholar of Edward II', which of course flatters me unpardonably and is clearly not true, but it's still thrilling to see it. :)

It has long been believed in Italy that Edward II died in that country, and indeed an empty tomb at Sant'Alberto is claimed to have been his.  Just a few weeks ago, the information board at the monastery was updated (in Italian and English) to include information about Edward II's life, survival and his 'other' tomb in Gloucester Cathedral.  A pic of the new board can be seen here (scroll down to the bottom) on the Auramala Project's website.  Local residents of Lombardy often remember that in childhood they were told about an English king who sought refuge at the hermitage and who died there, and this story has a long history: in 1958, researchers found an eighty-eight-year-old local man who had been told about the English king at Sant'Alberto as a child by his grandfather.

Ian Mortimer's chapter 'Edward III, his father and the Fieschi' in his Medieval Intrigue: Decoding Royal Conspiracies (2010) contains a great deal of information about the Fieschi family and their prominence in the region of Cecima and Sant'Alberto di Butrio.  A castle named Oramala, just across the valley from the monastery and in sight of it, in the 1330s was in the hands of one Niccolo Malaspina, who was a nephew of Luca Fieschi and who was called il Marchesotto of Oramala.  Luca, a cardinal who died in 1336, was a cousin of both Manuele Fieschi (later bishop of Vercelli, who wrote the Fieschi Letter) and Edward II himself: he was Edward's third or fourth cousin.  Both Edward and his father Edward I always acknowledged Luca and his brothers and nephews as 'kinsman', and they were related through Luca's mother Leonora or Lionetta, though the precise connection remains unclear.  (Contrary to what some modern historians have asserted, Manuele Fieschi and Edward II were not themselves related.)  Luca and Edward II were in occasional correspondence, and met in person when Luca visited England in 1317.  The Fieschis were an extremely influential noble family who provided two thirteenth-century popes (Innocent IV, born Sinibaldo Fieschi, died 1254, and Adrian V, born Ottobuono Fieschi and nephew of Sinibaldo, died 1276), seventy-two cardinals and countless bishops.  In 1315 and 1317, Edward II appointed two of Cardinal Luca's nephews, Francesco and Carlo Fieschi, "to be of the king's household and to wear his livery forever," acknowledging them as his kinsmen.  (Patent Rolls 1313-1317, p. 340; Ibid. 1317-1321, p. 10.)  And a member of the Fieschi family claims that in the 1330s a non-dead Edward of Caernarfon lived in an area of Italy dominated by the Fieschi family.

The town of Cecima, the hermitage of Sant'Alberto and the Fieschi/Malaspina-controlled castle of Oramala. The area is in Lombardy, not far from the border with Piedmont. (Courtesy of Google Maps)

Sant'Alberto on the map of Italy, between Milan and Genoa, with the towns of Pavia and Vercelli marked.

I'll be giving a lecture about Edward II in the Seminary of the town of Vercelli on Saturday 19 September.  This is the town Manuele Fieschi was bishop of, so I can't wait to see it.  On the Sunday, I'm being taken on a visit to Sant'Alberto di Butrio, and a couple of days after that, I'll be speaking at the University of Pavia (founded 1361).  So, so exciting!

My book Edward II: The Unconventional King is reviewed by Professor Nicholas Vincent in this month's BBC History Magazine.  You can read the review here; scroll down to the second page, 'Bad King Edward?'  I'm mostly thrilled with it; 'entertaining and informative'. :)  Professor Vincent does say, however, that my take on Edward's survival after 1327 is 'entirely speculative' and 'neither proved nor probable'.  This despite the wealth of evidence which points to Edward living past 1327, including the Fieschi Letter, the Melton Letter and the plot of the earl of Kent and countless others.  Should we think that the archbishop of York stating that 'Edward of Caernarfon is alive and in good bodily health' in 1330 is entirely speculative?  There's lots more I could say about that, but will leave it for today, and look forward to a fab week-long trip to Italy in a few months!

13 February, 2015

Children of Charles of Valois and Louis of Evreux

A continuation of my last post about Edward II's second cousins and uncles-in-law, Charles of Valois and Louis of Evreux.  Here, I'm looking at their children (the ones who survived into adulthood), who were Isabella of France's first cousins.

Children of Louis, count of Evreux (1276-1319) and Marguerite of Artois (c. 1285-1311):

1) Philip of Evreux, king of Navarre and count of Evreux, c. 1306-1343

Elder son and heir of Louis and Marguerite; married his first cousin once removed Joan II, queen of Navarre in her own right (1312-1349), the only child of Queen Isabella's eldest brother Louis X of France and Navarre (d. 1316) and his first wife Marguerite (d. 1315), daughter of Duke Robert II of Normandy.  Joan II inherited Navarre on the death of her uncle Charles IV in 1328.  Among the many children of Philip of Evreux and Joan of Navarre were Charles 'the Bad', king of Navarre (whose daughter Joan, duchess of Brittany, married Henry IV of England as his second wife), and Blanche, queen of France, who married Philip VI of France as his second wife (he was about forty years her senior).

2) Marie of Evreux, duchess of Brabant, c. 1303-1335

Marie married Duke John III of Brabant (1300-1355), who was Edward II's nephew, only child of Edward's sister Margaret and Duke John II.  Marie and John III had three sons who all died before their father, and three daughters; the eldest, Johanna, who was born in 1322 and died at a ripe old age in 1406, succeeded her father as duchess of Brabant in her own right.  Johanna married firstly William, count of Hainault and Holland, brother of Edward III's queen Philippa, who died childless in 1345, and secondly Wenceslas, son of John the Blind, king of Bohemia.

3) Charles of Evreux, count of Etampes, died 1336

Charles married Marie de la Cerda, granddaughter of Alfonso X of Castile's eldest son Fernando de la Cerda, which means 'of the bristle' (1255-1275).  Fernando died before his father, and his two sons Alfonso and Fernando (Marie's father) were disinherited by their uncle Sancho IV and later settled in France.

4) Joan of Evreux, queen of France, c. 1310-1371

When she was only about fourteen, Joan married her widowed first cousin Charles IV of France (son of her father's older half-brother Philip IV) at Annet-sur-Marne on Thursday 5 July 1324, only some months after the death of his second wife Marie of Luxembourg in childbirth.  Joan was crowned queen on 11 May 1326, the ceremony attended by her sister-in-law Isabella, queen of England and nephew Edward of Windsor, the future Edward III.  (Roger Mortimer was not invited but attended anyway, and carried Edward of Windsor's train, to his father Edward II's fury.)  Joan and Charles had two daughters Joan, who died as a baby, and Marie, who died in 1341 aged fourteen.  When Charles died on 1 March 1328, he left Queen Joan pregnant; she gave birth exactly two months later to another daughter, Blanche, and thus the throne passed to Charles' Valois cousin Philip VI.  Blanche later married Philip VI's son Philip, duke of Orleans.  Queen Joan outlived her husband by more than forty years, and died in March 1371.

Children of Charles, count of Valois (1270-1325) and his first wife Marguerite of Anjou-Naples, countess of Anjou, sister of the kings of Hungary, Naples and Albania (1273-1299):

1) Isabella of Valois, 1292-1309

Isabella married John, son and heir of Duke Arthur II of Brittany and a great-grandson of Henry III of England.  She never became duchess of Brittany, as she died in the lifetime of her father-in-law, aged only seventeen, before her husband succeeded as Duke John III in 1312.  John later married Isabel of Castile, daughter of Sancho IV, and thirdly Joan of Savoy, but had no children with any of his wives.  This led to the War of the Breton Succession in which John's younger half-brother, also John, and his full brother Guy's daughter Joan of Penthièvre, both claimed the duchy.

2) Philip VI, king of France, 1293-1250

Philip succeeded his first cousin Charles IV as king of France in 1328 and became the first of the long line of Valois kings, after enduring an anxious two-month wait to see if Charles' widow Joan of Evreux would give birth to a boy (who would have immediately become king of France).  Philip married Joan 'the Lame' of Burgundy, one of the daughters of Duke Robert II of Burgundy and sister of Marguerite, first wife of Louis X of France; another of their sisters married Edward II's nephew Edouard I, count of Bar.  Philip and Joan were the parents of Philip's successor King John II 'the Good' and of Philip, duke of Orleans, who married Charles IV's posthumous daughter Blanche of France.  Philip married secondly Blanche of Navarre and Evreux, his first cousin once removed and forty years his junior.

3) Joan of Valois, countess of Hainault and Holland, c. 1294-1352

Joan married William III, count of Hainault and Holland; their second daughter Philippa married her second cousin Edward III of England in January 1328.  Their eldest daughter Margaret married Louis or Ludwig of Bavaria, Holy Roman Emperor.

4) Marguerite of Valois, countess of Blois, c. 1295-1342

Marguerite married Guy de Châtillon, count of Blois, first cousin of her father's third wife Mahaut de Châtillon.  Their elder son Louis, count of Blois, was killed at the battle of Crécy in 1346; their second son Charles married Joan of Penthièvre, above, and claimed the duchy of Brittany in her right.

5) Charles of Valois, count of Alençon, c. 1297-1346

Also killed at the battle of Crécy, like his nephew Louis of Blois.  He married firstly Joan, countess of Joigny, and secondly Marie de la Cerda, above, the widow of his cousin Charles of Evreux.  Charles and Marie had four sons: two archbishops, of Lyon and Rouen, and two counts, of Alençon and Perche.

Children of Charles of Valois and his second wife Catherine de Courtenay (1274-1307), titular empress of Constantinople, daughter of Philip de Courtenay and Beatrice of Anjou; first cousin of Charles of Valois's first wife:

1) Catherine of Valois, titular empress of Constantinople, c. 1303-1346

Catherine de Courtenay left no surviving sons, and so her eldest daughter Catherine was her heir to Constantinople.  Betrothed as a child to Duke Hugh V of Burgundy, brother of Marguerite (first wife of Louis X) and Joan (first wife of Philip VI), but in 1313 when she was barely twelve, Catherine of Valois married Philip of Taranto, king of Albania, prince of Achaea and Taranto, despot of Epirus, the brother of her father's first wife Marguerite of Anjou-Naples and the uncle of her older Valois half-siblings.  They had three sons and a daughter.

2) Joan of Valois, c. 1304-1363

Joan married Robert of Artois (1287-1342), younger brother of Louis of Evreux's wife Marguerite of Artois.  Robert was famously involved in a long struggle with his aunt Mahaut over control of the county of Artois, which he felt should have come to him.  He never gained it, however, and when Mahaut died in 1329 the county passed briefly to her daughter Joan of Burgundy, dowager queen of France (widow of Philip V) and then to Joan's eldest daughter Joan II, duchess of Burgundy by marriage, countess of Burgundy and Artois in her own right.  Robert moved to England and supported Edward III in the Hundred Years War.  He and Joan of Valois had five children, including John, count of Eu.

3) Elisabeth of Valois, abbess of Fontevrault, c. 1305-1349

Children of Charles of Valois and his third wife Mahaut of Châtillon (1293-1358), daughter of the count of St Pol and sister of Marie, countess of Pembroke

1) Louis of Valois, count of Chartres, ? - 1328

Charles of Valois offered his youngest son Louis in marriage to one of Edward II's daughters in 1324, when he asked his nephew Charles IV for permission to send Amaury de Craon to England to meet Edward, "to discuss and negotiate the marriages of my ladies your two daughters, that is, one for the son of the said Sir Charles who is of the issue of his last wife, and the other for one of the sons of his son from his first marriage."  That means Louis and his nephew John (born 1319), the future John II of France, son of Philip of Valois and Joan of Burgundy.  The marriage never went ahead, and Louis of Valois died in 1328, still a child.

2) Marie of Valois, duchess of Calabria, c. 1309-1332

Marie married Charles, duke of Calabria, eldest son and heir of Robert 'the Wise', king of Naples, titular king of Sicily and Jerusalem, count of Provence and Forcalquier.  Robert was the brother of Marguerite of Anjou-Naples (the first wife of Charles of Valois) and of Philip of Taranto, who married Marie of Valois's older half-sister Catherine of Valois.  Charles of Calabria died in 1328, fifteen years before his father, leaving his teenaged widow Marie with their young daughter Joan or Joanna and a posthumous daughter, also Marie, later countess of Alba and duchess of Durazzo.  Charles and Marie's elder daughter Joan (1326-1382) was the heir of her paternal grandfather King Robert, and is notorious as the queen of Naples who married four times and who was accused of the murder of her first husband and many years later was herself murdered.

3) Isabella of Valois, duchess of Bourbon, c. 1313-1383

The last surviving of Charles of Valois's many children.  Isabella married Pierre or Peter I, duke of Bourbon, a great-grandson of Louis IX of France and her second cousin.  Peter was killed at the battle of Poitiers in 1356.  He and Isabella were the direct male-line ancestors of Henry of Bourbon, king of Navarre, who became the first Bourbon king of France in 1589.  They also had seven daughters.  One was Blanche, who had the misfortune to marry King Pedro the Cruel of Castile in 1353 and be imprisoned by him for eight years until her death in 1361.  Another was Jeanne or Joan, who married Charles V of France (son of John II, grandson of Philip VI) and was the mother of Charles VI and Louis, duke of Orleans, assassinated in 1407.

4) Blanche or Marguerite of Valois, Holy Roman Empress, queen of Germany and Bohemia, c. 1316/17-1348

Probably the youngest of Charles of Valois's many children, unless her brother Louis of Chartres was born in 1318.  In 1329, Blanche married Charles of Bohemia, eldest son and heir of the blind King John of Bohemia, who was killed at the battle of Crécy in 1346.  In 1346, Charles was elected Holy Roman Emperor, and was also king of Bohemia, Germany, Italy and Burgundy.  Blanche of Valois was the first of his four wives, and they had two daughters, Margaret, queen of Hungary and Croatia, and Katherine, duchess of Bavaria.  Blanche died in 1348, only in her early thirties; her widower Charles married three more times and had numerous more children, including Anne of Bohemia, queen of Richard II of England, and Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor and king of Hungary and Bohemia.

08 February, 2015

Charles, Count of Valois and Louis, Count of Evreux

I feel like writing a genealogy post today, so here's one about Charles of Valois, count of Valois, Anjou, Maine, Alençon, Chartres and Perche, and Louis, count of Evreux, the uncles of Edward II's queen Isabella.  Charles (12 March 1270 - 16 December 1325) was the second surviving son of Philip III of France and his first queen Isabel of Aragon, and the younger brother of Philip IV.  Louis, count of Evreux (3 May 1276 - 19 May 1319) was the eldest of the three children of Philip III and his second queen Marie of Brabant (1254-1321), and thus Philip IV and Charles of Valois's half-brother.  Charles of Valois was the ancestor of the Valois dynasty which ruled France from 1328 to 1589, being the father of Philip VI, who became the first Valois king of France in 1328 after the death of his first cousin Charles IV, the youngest of Queen Isabella's three brothers and the last Capetian king of France.  Louis of Evreux's younger full sister Blanche was betrothed to Edward of Caernarfon in the early 1290s and ended up marrying Rudolf, duke of Austria, and his other younger sister Marguerite, queen of England (born 1278/79) married the widowed Edward I in 1299 and was the mother of Edward II's half-brothers Thomas and Edmund.  Louis travelled to England in 1312 to negotiate between Edward II and the barons who had killed Piers Gaveston, and was made one of the seven godfathers of his newborn great-nephew the future Edward III on 16 November 1312.  Before Edward II's accession, he and Louis had been good friends and frequent correspondents, but Charles of Valois had long followed an anti-English line and was generally hostile to England, though this didn't stop him seeking marriage alliances in the 1320s between his children/grandchildren and Edward II's.

Louis of Evreux was married once, to Marguerite of Artois, a great-granddaughter of Henry III of England via her mother Blanche of Brittany and Blanche's mother Beatrice, who was the second daughter of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence.  Marguerite's father Philip would have succeeded their father Robert (younger brother of Blanche of Artois, queen of Navarre, Queen Isabella's maternal grandmother) as count of Artois, but he died in 1298 before his father, and Artois passed to Philip's sister Mahaut (mother of Joan and Blanche of Burgundy who married Queen Isabella's brothers Philip V and Charles IV) rather than his son, Marguerite's younger brother Robert (1287-1342).  This Robert was the son-in-law of Charles of Valois, and the brother-in-law of Charles of Valois's half-brother Louis of Evreux.  Louis's wife Marguerite of Artois was the first cousin of Joan and Blanche of Burgundy, who were Louis's nieces by marriage, wives of Queen Isabella's brothers Philip (V) and Charles (IV).  The French royal family in the early fourteenth century was extremely, madly and confusingly inter-related; if I've worked it out correctly, Marguerite of Artois was the first cousin once removed of Edward II and the second cousin of Queen Isabella.

Charles of Valois was married three times.  His first wife was Marguerite of Anjou-Naples (1273-1299), countess of Anjou in her own right, one of the children of Charles of Salerno, king of Naples and Marie of Hungary; her many siblings included Charles Martel, titular king of Hungary, Robert, king of Naples and titular king of Sicily and Jerusalem, Philip, king of Albania, Saint Louis, bishop of Toulouse, and Blanche, queen of Jaime II of Aragon.  Charles of Valois married secondly Catherine de Courtenay (1274-1307), titular empress of Constantinople in her own right and a first cousin of Charles' first wife Marguerite, and thirdly Mahaut de Châtillon (1293-1358), daughter of the count of St Pol and older sister of Marie, countess of Pembroke.  Mahaut was, like her first cousin Marguerite of Artois above, a great-granddaughter of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence.  Charles of Valois and Marguerite of Anjou-Naples were the maternal grandparents of Edward III's queen Philippa of Hainault, and the parents of Philip VI of France.

In the second part of this post, I'll be looking at the children of Charles of Valois and Louis of Evreux.  Coming soon!

01 February, 2015

December 1312/October 1313: Edward II Makes Peace With Piers Gaveston's Killers

In the aftermath of Piers Gaveston's murder on 19 June 1312, England teetered on the brink of civil war.  Edward II left York on 28 June, two days after he heard the news, and travelled to London, where he stayed at the house of the Dominican friars and met his trusted advisers.  The king made an impassioned speech condemning the way some of his barons were behaving and asked the Londoners to close the gates of the city to Piers' killers, the earls of Lancaster, Warwick and Hereford, which they did, though the three earls raised an army and took it to Hertfordshire, near the city.

Edward II's nephew Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester, though he had refused to help his brother-in-law Piers when the latter was imprisoned at Warwick Castle, offered to mediate between Edward and the earls.  Gloucester, according to the Vita Edwardi Secundi (ed. Denholm-Young, pp. 33-4), told Edward that contrary to what he believed, the men who had had Piers killed were not his enemies but his friends, and that everything they did was for his own benefit.  Edward - I feel like typing here 'Edward LOLed and went 'yeah riiiiight, pull the other one, mate, it's got bells on'' - was having none of it, and told his nephew "I protest that they are not my friends who strive to attack my property and my rights...it is very likely that they do not wish to have any consideration for me, but to seize the crown and set up for themselves another king." (For more of this conversation, see my Edward II: The Unconventional King, p. 77)

Other mediators on the king's side were his friend and ally Hugh Despenser the Elder (brother-in-law of the earl of Warwick but firmly on Edward's side, as always) and Robert, Lord Clifford, one of the men who had besieged Piers Gaveston at Scarborough Castle in May 1312 but who was otherwise loyal to Edward II.  Edward's father-in-law Philip IV sent his half-brother Louis, count of Evreux, who at least before Edward's accession had been his good friend and frequent correspondent (and was his second cousin).  Pope Clement V, real name Bertrand de Got, who like Piers Gaveston came from Gascony and had previously been archbishop of Bordeaux - Piers' uncle Piers or Pierre Caillau had been mayor of that city - also sent two envoys to negotiate between Edward and the earls.  They were his chamberlain Arnaud d'Aux, bishop of Poitiers, and Cardinal Arnaud Nouvel, priest of Santa Prisca in Rome.  Another negotiator was Edward II's first cousin John of Brittany, earl of Richmond, grandson of Henry III and brother of Duke Arthur II of Brittany (who died in August this year).

For all the best efforts of the negotiators, war threatened to break out throughout the summer and early autumn of 1312.  In late September, Edward raised 1000 footmen in Kent and Sussex, and a few days later forbade the barons' envoys from entering London. (Patent Rolls 1307-1313, p. 498; Close Rolls 1307-1313, p. 481)  Edward himself almost certainly wanted to fight, and some of his advisers, including his kinsman Henry, Lord Beaumont and his steward Sir Edmund Mauley, told him he should.  (Seymour Phillips, Edward II, p. 193)  Despite the threatening presence of their army at Ware in Hertfordshire, however, the earls did not enter London, though on 3 September Edward sent his brother-in-law Ralph Monthermer, the earl of Richmond, the bishop of Norwich and Sir Edmund Deincourt to prohibit them "from repairing to the king, as he understands they are doing, with horses and arms and a great body of armed men." (Patent Rolls 1307-1313, p. 490)  Curiously, Edmund Fitzalan, earl of Arundel, is not mentioned in any of this, though appears to have been present at Warwick Castle and at Piers' murder.  On 20 August, Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester, was given permission to pass through London "with the horses of his household and his retinue with their horses, arms and armour" on Wednesday 23 August (Close Rolls, p. 475).  Presumably this had something to do with him meeting the papal envoys, or the earls and their negotiators.

As Edward's academic biographer Professor Seymour Phillips points out (Edward II, p. 197), little is known about the negotiations themselves.  Louis, count of Evreux arrived in London on 13 September, and dined with his niece Queen Isabella on the 15th; she was then seven months pregnant and had recently arrived in the south after a very slow journey from York, where Edward had left her at the end of June (presumably feeling that she would be safer there).  On 17 September, Edward and Isabella retired to Windsor Castle, where they remained until the end of November and where their son the future Edward III was born on 13 November.

Finally, a treaty was made and sealed in London on 20 December 1312, in the presence of Cardinal Arnaud Nouvel, Arnaud d'Aux, bishop of Poitiers, Louis, count of Evreux, and the earls of Gloucester and Richmond.*  Edward II was at Windsor at the time, with his queen and their baby son.  It was agreed that the three earls and various barons would make obeisance to Edward II in his great hall at Westminster, "with great humility, on their knees" (oue graunte humilite as genuz/cum magna humilitate flexis genibus) and "humbly beg him to release them from his resentment and rancour, and receive them into his good will."  The many precious goods belonging to Edward and Piers Gaveston which Thomas, earl of Lancaster had seized at Newcastle the previous May would be returned to Edward on 13 January 1313 (though in fact he didn't receive them until 23 February).  On 16 December, four days before the treaty, Edward had granted Lancaster a safe-conduct and permission to use an escort of forty men-at-arms to bring him his possessions. (Patent Rolls, p. 517)  It was specified that if any of Edward's many dozens of horses which Lancaster had taken were dead (si ascuns des chivaux soit mort), Lancaster would reimburse him with the price and value of the dead horses instead.  No action would be taken against Piers' followers, and the three earls and all their own followers would be pardoned for anything they had done to Piers.

On 16 October 1313 at Westminster, Edward II pardoned the three earls, and more than 350 of their adherents, "of all causes of rancour, anger, distress, actions, obligations, quarrels and accusations, arisen in any manner on account of Piers Gaveston, from the time of our marriage with our dear companion, our very dear lady, Lady Isabella queen of England." The king had all his sheriffs proclaim the news throughout their counties. (Patent Rolls 1313-1317, pp. 21-26, 35-36; Foedera 1307-1327, pp. 230-233)  Edward told the earls of Lancaster, Warwick and Hereford to "lay aside all suspicion, and...to come to his presence, and freely obtain the goodwill that they had so often sought."  He watched them kneel to him, raised them and kissed them one by one, and absolved them; to mark their reconciliation, he also invited them to a banquet, and the following day they reciprocated.  (Vita, pp. 43-44; Chronicle of Lanercost 1272-1346, ed. Herbert Maxwell, p. 203)

And this may have seemed the end of it, but of course it wasn't.  Edward's hatred for his cousin Thomas of Lancaster endured and his desire for revenge never left him; on 22 March 1322, he finally had Lancaster executed in a parody of Piers Gaveston's own execution.

* The text is printed in French in Foedera 1307-1327, pp. 191-192 and Annales Londonienses 1195-1330, in W. Stubbs, ed.,Chronicles of the Reigns of Edward I and Edward II, vol. 1, pp. 221-225.  A text in Latin appears in R. A. Roberts, Edward II, the Lords Ordainers and Piers Gaveston's Jewels and Horses (1312-1313) (London: Camden Miscellany, xv, 1929), pp. 17-21.

25 January, 2015

Robert Clifford and Maud de Clare

A post about Robert, Lord Clifford (c. 1 April 1274 - 24 June 1314) and Maud de Clare (c. late 1270s - before 13 March 1327), and their children.

Robert Clifford was born around or a little while before 1 April 1274: the Inquisition Post Mortem of his father taken in Westmorland on 16 January 1283 (Cal Inq Post Mortem 1272-1307, p. 291) says that Robert would be aged nine at Easter in the eleventh regnal year of Edward I, which was 18 April 1283, and Easter Sunday in 1274 fell on 1 April.  His father was Roger Clifford the younger, who drowned in the Menai Strait on 6 November 1282 when Edward I's bridge from the Welsh mainland to Anglesey collapsed, and his mother was Isabel Vipont, one of the two daughters (the other was Idonea) and co-heiresses of Robert Vipont, sheriff and landowner of Westmorland.  The famous Rosamund Clifford, mistress of Henry II in the twelfth century, was the sister of Robert's great-great-grandfather Walter.  The Cliffords had long been a Marcher family, but the Vipont inheritance and grants from Edward II to Robert shifted their centre of power to the north of England.  Edward II gave Robert the North Yorkshire castle of Skipton in 1310, and it remained in the family until 1676.

Robert's father Roger, who drowned in 1282, was the son and heir of Roger Clifford the elder, who outlived his son.  Robert inherited the Clifford lands after his grandfather's death, and had livery of them on 3 May 1295, some weeks after he turned twenty-one.  (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)  In or before 1295, he married Maud de Clare, niece of Gilbert 'the Red' de Clare, earl of Gloucester and Hertford.  Maud's father Thomas de Clare, lord of Thomond in Ireland, was Gilbert the Red's younger brother; her mother was the Anglo-Irish noblewoman Juliana FitzMaurice.  Maud's sister Margaret married Bartholomew, Lord Badlesmere, who became steward of Edward II's household and was given the traitor's death in April 1322 after joining the Contrariant rebellion against the king.  Their brother Gilbert married Hugh Despenser the Younger's sister Isabel and died in 1307, and their other brother Richard died in 1318.  When Richard's young son Thomas died in 1321, Maud and Margaret were his heirs.  The four de Clare siblings Maud, Margaret, Gilbert and Richard were the first cousins of Edward II's nieces and nephew Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester, Eleanor, Margaret and Elizabeth.  Maud was probably born in the late 1270s or thereabouts, and thus was about five years younger than her husband Robert Clifford and about sixteen when they married.

Robert Clifford was one of the four noblemen who besieged Piers Gaveston at Scarborough Castle between 10 and 19 May 1312 (with Henry Percy and the earls of Pembroke and Surrey), but was generally loyal to Edward II and on good terms with him.  He fought for Edward at Bannockburn and on the first day of the battle led the advance party, with Henry, Lord Beaumont, which sustained heavy losses against the schiltrons of Thomas Randolph.  On the second day of the battle, Robert was killed, the second highest ranking Englishman to die at Bannockburn after Edward II's nephew the earl of Gloucester, who was the first cousin of Robert's wife Maud.  His body was returned to England with full honours, and he was buried at Shap Abbey in Westmorland.  Robert seems to have been, if I may put it colloquially, a bit of a hottie, and intelligent besides: the poet of the Siege of Arms of Caerlaverock wrote in 1300 (when Robert was twenty-six) "If I were a maiden, I would give him my heart and body, So good is his fame," and declared "I well know that I have given him no praise of which he is not worthy. For he exhibits as good proofs of wisdom and prudence as any I see."

Maud was taken prisoner in late 1315 by John 'the Irishman', who took her to Barnard Castle in County Durham.  Edward II sent five knights and thirty-six men-at-arms to rescue her, led by his friend and the later steward of his household, Sir William Montacute.  Romantically, Maud married Sir Robert de Welle or Well or Welles, one of her rescuers, somewhat in haste, as Edward II soon afterwards fined them for marrying without his permission and temporarily confiscated her lands.  Montacute and the other men had returned to Edward at Clipstone in Nottinghamshire by 6 December 1315, after effecting the rescue; the king had heard of Maud and Robert's marriage by the 16th, on which date he seized Maud's lands and goods.  (Fine Rolls 1307-1319, p. 266; Patent Rolls 1313-1317, p. 551; Close Rolls 1313-1318, p. 367; Close Rolls 1318-1323, pp. 84, 269; SC 8/317/E267).  I haven't been able to find an accurate date for Maud's death, but it happened sometime before 13 March 1327, when her castles, lands and manors in Ireland, currently in the king's hands owing to the minority of Maud's son and heir Roger, were granted to her sister Margaret Badlesmere.  (Fine Rolls 1327-1337, p. 35)  It's also tricky to follow the career of her second husband Sir Robert de Welle, as there were several men alive in England during Edward II's reign with that name; one of them, possibly Maud's husband, was sent by Edward as an envoy to Robert Bruce in late August 1326, and thus was obviously still high in the king's favour very near the end of his reign.  (Patent Rolls 1324-1327, p. 315).

I can't quite figure out the order of birth of the de Clare siblings.  Gilbert was certainly born on 3 February 1281, which is demonstrated in his proof of age in 1302, and Richard was born between 1283 and 1285.  I'd long assumed that Maud was the eldest child, born probably in the late 1270s, married in or a little before 1295 and had her first (surviving, at least) son in 1299 or 1300.  I'd also thought that Margaret was the youngest de Clare sibling, born shortly before their father Thomas's death in August 1287.  Margaret's first child Margery Badlesmere was born sometime between 1304 and 1308, though before Margaret married Bartholomew Badlesmere she had been married to Gilbert Umfraville, son of the earl of Angus, who died childless in about 1303.  However, there's a petition in the National Archives, presented by Margaret in 1327, which says that Maud was her younger sister, and an entry on the Fine Roll of 14 March 1324, relating to Margaret and Maud as the heirs of their little nephew Thomas (died 1321), calls Margaret the 'senior heir', i.e. older than Maud.  (SC 8/32/1559; Fine Rolls 1319-1327, p. 269).  Given the pattern of their childbearing, it still seems more likely to me that Maud was a few years older than Margaret, so I'm a tad confused about this.  Anyway, there are two contemporary documents which state that Margaret was the elder sister, so I shall have to accept it, and assume that Margaret was not born in 1287 but ten or so years before that, and that when she gave birth to her youngest child Margaret Badlesmere sometime after 1314 or even as late as 1318, she was forty or thereabouts.

Robert Clifford and Maud de Clare had four children:

- Roger, Lord Clifford (2 February 1299/21 January 1300 - 23 March 1322)

Roger was the elder son of Robert and Maud, and only fourteen or fifteen when his father was killed at the battle of Bannockburn; Robert's Inquisition Post Mortem says Roger was born either on (or shortly before) 2 February 1299 or 21 January 1300.  (Cal. Inq. Post Mortem 1307-1327, pp. 300-307) Edward II granted Roger and his brother-in-law Henry Percy all the lands of their late fathers in 1318 and 1319, although they were both still underage, "for the defence and safety of the said castles against the Scots, the king's enemies."  (Fine Rolls 1307-1319, pp. 370-371, 378, 404)  In 1321 Roger joined the Contrariant rebellion against Edward II, perhaps following the example of his uncle by marriage Bartholomew, Lord Badlesmere.  The Vita Edwardi Secundi (ed. N. Denholm-Young, p. 109) claims that Hugh Despenser the Younger had in some way disinherited Roger's mother, Maud.  I am unaware of any evidence which confirms this, and in fact Maud's husband Robert de Welle seems to have been a close ally of the Despensers, and Hugh's wife Eleanor was Maud's first cousin (not that that would necessarily have stopped him, of course).  Roger surrendered to Sir Andrew Harclay after the battle of Boroughbridge on 16 March 1322, and was hanged in chains a week later at the fortification in York which has borne his name ever since: Clifford's Tower.  He was only in his early twenties at the time of his execution.  He didn't marry, and his heir was his brother Robert.

- Robert, Lord Clifford (c. 7 November 1305 - 20 May 1344)

Younger son of Robert Clifford and Maud de Clare, and heir to his brother Roger executed in 1322.  The IPMs of Robert's mother and his brother Roger taken in Yorkshire on 12 February and 1 May 1327 (CIPM 1327-1336, pp. 29-30, 41-42) say that he had turned twenty-one 'on Friday after All Saints day last past', which I make 7 November 1326 (the feast day of All Saints, 1 November, fell on a Saturday in 1326), putting his date of birth on or about 7 November 1305.  Robert showed his indignation at his brother's execution and at the general state of affairs in England after the Contrariant rebellion by besieging and capturing Tickhill Castle in Staffordshire in April 1326, in company with the fifteen-year-old John Mowbray, whose father John, Lord Mowbray was executed with Robert's brother Roger Clifford in York in March 1322. (Close Rolls 1323-1327, p. 569)  The constable of Tickhill, William Aune, was a friend and ally of Edward II and their capture of the castle was thus intended to cause trouble for the king.  I have to admit I really like the idea of these two hot-headed, angry young men, aged only fifteen and twenty, getting together and deciding to seize a castle - and succeeding, at least for a while.

Robert was restored to his rightful inheritance after Edward II's downfall.  Probably in 1327, he married Isabella Berkeley, sister of Thomas, Lord Berkeley of Gloucestershire, who acted as the former Edward II's custodian at Berkeley Castle in 1327.  Robert and Isabella's second son and heir Roger was born on 10 July 1333; their eldest, Robert, died as a teenager in the 1340s.  Robert, the elder, died on 30 May 1344 (CIPM 1336-1346, pp. 381-385) in his late thirties, when his first son Robert, who was then still alive but died not long afterwards, was said to be 'sixteen and a little more'. Robert, Lord Clifford and Isabella Berkeley were the ancestors of the later Clifford lords; the famous Henry, Lord Clifford, the 'Shepherd Lord' (died 1523), was their great-great-great-great-grandson.

- Idonea (or Idonia or Idoine), Lady Percy (early 1300s - 24 August 1365)

Probably named after her paternal grandmother Isabel Vipont's sister Idonea Vipont, who married Edward II's steward John Cromwell and who lived until 1334.  Idonea Clifford married Henry, Lord Percy, who was born on 1 February 1301 and who was the nephew of Edmund Fitzalan, earl of Arundel, as well as the son of the Henry, Lord Percy who with Robert, Lord Clifford besieged Piers Gaveston at Scarborough in May 1312.  Idonea's date of birth is not recorded, but it seems to me that she was younger than Roger and older than Robert, perhaps born in about 1302 or 1303.

Her eldest son Henry, Lord Percy was born in about 1320 and married Henry of Lancaster's youngest daughter Mary, and she also had at least four daughters, Eleanor, Isabella, Margaret and Maud, and another son Thomas Percy, bishop of Norwich, whose successor on his death in 1369 was Hugh Despenser the Younger and Eleanor de Clare's grandson Henry Despenser.  Idonea was the grandmother of three earls: Northumberland (Henry Percy, born in 1341 and died in 1408), Worcester (Thomas Percy, died 1403) and Westmorland (Ralph Neville, died 1425, son of her daughter Maud Percy).  She was the great-great-grandmother of Edward IV and Richard III.

- Margaret (c. early 1300s - 4 August 1382, married Peter Mauley, lord of Mulgrave)

The longest surviving but most obscure of Robert Clifford and Maud de Clare's children, and there's not too much I can say about her.  I don't know where she fits into the birth order of the Clifford children, and I don't know anything much about the family she married into, the Mauleys, except that they were lords of Mulgrave near Whitby in North Yorkshire.  Their name was often Latinised in contemporary documents as Malo Lacu.  Edward II's steward Sir Edmund Mauley, who was killed at Bannockburn, was presumably a member of the same family.  Margaret's husband Peter came from a long line of Peter Mauleys: he was known in contemporary documents as le quynt, 'the fifth', and their son, yet another Peter Mauley, was le sysme, 'the sixth'.  Her husband died on 18 January 1355 (CIPM 1352-1360, pp. 214-216) leaving their son Peter as his heir; the younger Peter was then said to be twenty-four, so must have been born in about 1330/1331.  Peter the fifth's 1355 IPM states that Margaret "immediately after the death of the deceased, her husband, took the mantle, veil and ring from the suffragan of the archbishop of York and swore and vowed chastity before him and many others, to live chastely without a husband all her life."  (Ibid., p. 216)

According to various websites, Margaret Mauley née Clifford died on 4 August 1382, but I can't confirm this as I don't have any of the chancery rolls or inquisitions post mortem for Richard II's reign.  She must have been pretty elderly when she died, and given the date of her death was probably the youngest of her siblings.

20 January, 2015

Gilbert de Clare, Lord of Thomond

A fairly short post about a man who has often been confused with his first cousin of the same name, Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester. The Gilbert de Clare in question was ten years older than his cousin the earl, and was lord of Thomond in Ireland. It was this Gilbert, of Thomond, who was in the future Edward II's household before his accession and who, with Piers Gaveston, was removed by the king when Edward quarrelled with his father in 1305. Edward sent pleading letters to his stepmother Marguerite and sister Elizabeth, asking them to intervene with his father so that he could have Piers and Gilbert back. (Melodramatically, Edward wrote "If we had those two, along with the others whom we have, we would be much unburdened from the anguish we have endured, and still suffer from one day to the next.") Gilbert de Clare the future earl of Gloucester did not live in his uncle Edward of Caernarfon's household, but in that of his step-grandmother Queen Marguerite.

To clarify, there were three Gilbert de Clares in this period:

- Gilbert 'the Red' de Clare, earl of Gloucester and Hertford (1243-1295), involved in the barons' wars of the 1260s when he was a very young man, married firstly to Henry III's niece Alice de Lusignan and secondly to Edward I's daughter Joan of Acre. He was thus Edward of Caernarfon's brother-in-law, though forty years his senior.

- Gilbert the Red's only son and heir Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester and Hertford (c. 10 May 1291-24 June 1314), eldest grandchild of Edward I, nephew of Edward II though only seven years his junior, killed at the battle of Bannockburn, married to the earl of Ulster's daughter Maud de Burgh.

- Gilbert the Red's nephew Gilbert de Clare, lord of Thomond, the man under discussion here (1281-1307), elder son and heir of Gilbert the Red's younger brother Thomas de Clare, lord of Thomond (c. 1245-1287), married as her first husband Hugh Despenser the Younger's sister Isabel, later Lady Hastings. This Gilbert's father Thomas de Clare is probably best known for helping the future Edward I escape from the custody of his uncle Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, in 1265.

Gilbert de Clare, lord of Thomond, was born in Limerick, Ireland on 3 February 1281; he proved that he had come of age, twenty-one, in 1302 (Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1300-1307, pp. 54-55, see here). Gilbert was the elder son of Thomas de Clare and the Irish noblewoman Juliana Fitzmaurice. At an uncertain date, perhaps in 1306 when Gilbert's first cousin Eleanor de Clare (eldest daughter of his uncle Earl Gilbert 'the Red') married Hugh Despenser the Younger, Gilbert married Hugh's sister Isabel. Edward I "of his special grace" allowed Gilbert custody of his lands in Ireland on 18 September 1299, even though he was well underage at the time, only eighteen. (Calendar of Close Rolls 1296-1302, pp. 272, 366; Ibid. 1302-1307, p. 17; Calendar of Fine Rolls 1272-1307, p. 427.) In October 1306, Gilbert was, with Piers Gaveston, Sir Giles Argentein and the nineteen-year Roger Mortimer, future earl of March, one of twenty-two young knights whose lands were temporarily seized by Edward I as they had gone jousting overseas without his permission. (Fine Rolls 1272-1307, pp. 543-544; Close Rolls 1302-1307, pp. 481-482.)

As a close friend of Edward of Caernarfon and Piers Gaveston, Gilbert of Thomond was surely delighted when Edward succeeded his father as king in July 1307. Sadly, he did not live long enough to enjoy it. He died at the age of twenty-six shortly before 16 November 1307, only four months into Edward II's reign, when the escheators in Ireland and southern England were ordered to "take into the king's hands the lands late of Gilbert son of Thomas de Clare, deceased, tenant in chief." (Fine Rolls 1307-1319, pp. 8, 10.) His heir was his younger brother Richard, who in Gilbert's Inq. Post Mortem at the beginning of 1308 was said to be either twenty-two or twenty-four years old, placing his date of birth somewhere between 1283 and 1285. (Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1307-1327, p. 13;, p. 13.) Their father Thomas died on 29 August 1287 when his children were still all very young. Richard de Clare was killed in Ireland in June 1318, leaving his infant son Thomas as his heir; young Thomas died still a child in 1321, so that Gilbert of Thomond's ultimate heirs were his sisters Maud, Lady Clifford and Margaret, Lady Badlesmere. His first cousin Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester, also died childless, and his heirs were also his sisters: Eleanor Despenser, Margaret Gaveston Audley and Elizabeth de Burgh.

14 January, 2015

A Handy Pronunciation Guide To Names

A friend of mine on Facebook (thanks, Monte!), commenting on a pic I'd posted of Rievaulx Abbey, suggested that I should write a blog post showing readers how certain British place-names, especially ones relating to Edward II, and family names of the fourteenth-century nobility should be pronounced.  If there are any names I've missed and you're unsure about, do feel free to ask in the comments :-)

Berkeley (Castle): barkly.  Absolutely not 'burkly'

Caernarfon: the English pronunciation is 'kuh-nar-vun', with emphasis on the 'nar'; the Welsh pronunciation is a bit different.

Gloucester(shire): gloster(shuh). The word 'shire' on the rare occasions when it's used as a stand-alone word is pronounced with a long I, as it's spelt, but in county names is always pronounced 'shuh' by English people. Yorkshire is thus 'york-shuh', Cheshire is 'cheshuh' and so on.

Worcester(shire): wuster(shuh)

Leicester(shire): lester(shuh)

Warwick(shire): worrik(shuh)

Berkshire: bark-shuh

Hertfordshire: hart-fud-shuh

Hereford: herra-fud

Arundel: ah-run-dul, with the stress on the A at the beginning.

Norwich: norritch

Reading: redding, not as in 'reading a book'

Leominster: lemster

Durham: durrum

Norfolk/Suffolk: the names end with an 'uck' sound, not 'ohk' as in the word 'folk'

Scarborough: scar-buh-ruh or scar-bruh

Marlborough: marl-buh-ruh or marl-bruh

Boroughbridge: buh-ruh-bridge

Windsor: win-zer or wind-zer

Rievaulx (Abbey): ree-voh

Jervaulx (Abbey): jair-voh (I think! Someone please correct me on this if not)

Beaulieu (Abbey): byoo-ly

Tewkesbury: chooks-bree or chooks-buh-ree (with a long oo as in 'woo', not as in 'book')

Derby: darby

Pembroke: pem-bruk

(River) Thames: temz

Thame (town in Oxfordshire): tame

Loughborough: luff-buh-ruh or luff-bruh, emphasis on the 'luff'

Carlisle, or the name Lisle: ly-ul, with a silent S and a long I.

Southampton: pronounced as though it's spelt with two H's: south-hamp-ton. Northampton, however, isn't: north-amp-ton. (Though actually a lot of English people drop their H's and pronounce Southampton as something like 'sarf-am-ton', but let's not get into that discussion.)

Royal Leamington Spa: the second element is 'lemming-ton' not 'leeming-ton'

Toucester: toaster

Knaresborough: nairs-buh-ruh or nairs-bruh, emphasis on the first syllable.

Keighley: keeth-ly

Uttoxeter: you-tox-it-er

High Wycombe: wiccum

Shrewsbury: nowadays mostly pronounced as it's spelt, though you still sometimes hear people pronouncing the first syllable as 'shroze' not 'shrooz'.

Wisbech: wiz-beech

Weobley: web-ly

Plymouth: plimmuth

Bournemouth: born-muth

Salisbury: solz-bree or solz-buh-ree

Southwark: suthuk ('th' as in 'the')

Birmingham/Nottingham/Eltham/Hexham/Cheltenham etc: the last syllable is pronounced 'um', not 'ham' like the meat.  Nottingham when spoken fast by some English people comes out something not far off 'no-ih-num', with the T replaced by a glottal stop.  Cheltenham is often pronounced 'chelt-num'.

Westminster: pronounced with the emphasis on 'west', not on 'min' as I've sometimes heard people say it.

Cinque Ports: sink ports, i.e. with an anglicised pronunciation.

Tintagel: the G is soft as in 'gin' or 'jelly', and it's emphasised on the second syllable, i.e. TinTAJul.

Belvoir (Castle): beaver

Ely: like 'freely' without the 'fr', emphasised on the first syllable, not like the names Eli or Ellie.

Tonbridge: tun-bridge

Greenwich: grennitch

Yeovil: yoh-vill

Alnwick: annick (yes, the L and W are both silent)

Bicester: bister

Cirencester: siren-sester (i.e. one of the few names ending in -cester which is pronounced as spelt)

Manchester/Lancaster: pronounced as spelt

Slough: rhymes with cow

But, Brough: bruff, as is Burgh-by-Sands, where Edward I died in 1307

Cambridge: first syllable is pronounced 'came' not 'cam'

Lewes: like the name Lewis, not 'looz'

Savernake (a forest in Wiltshire): savver-nack

Ouse (a river in Yorkshire): ooze

Cherwell ( a tributary of the River Thames): char-well

Caerphilly: car-filli, emphasis on the 'fil' (English pronunciation)

Berwick: berrik

Edinburgh: edin-bruh or edin-buh-ruh

Dumfries: the second syllable is pronounced 'freess', i.e. with a soft S sound, not like the words 'fries' or 'freeze'

Magdalen College, Oxford/Magdalene College, Cambridge: maudlin

Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge: Caius is pronounced 'keys'

Bohun: boon

Beauchamp: beecham

Despenser: duh-spenser, emphasis on the 'spen'

Interesting facts: Lincoln in fourteenth-century documents was called Nicole, York was Everwyk, and Stirling was Strivelyn. Warwick was spelt Warrewyk or similar.

09 January, 2015

Edward and Isabella, and Other Stuff

Unfortunately I've been ill all week and have been unable to write a proper blog post, but Kyra Kramer kindly hosted me on her own blog a couple of days ago. I wrote a post for her about Edward II and Isabella of France's relationship, which you might find interesting!

Anerje wrote a post this week about Piers Gaveston's funeral. In a few days, it will be the 703rd anniversary of the birth of Piers' and Margaret de Clare's only child Joan Gaveston, who was born in York probably on 12 January 1312.

Today is the 698th anniversary of the coronation of Edward II's brother-in-law Philip V as king of France on 9 January 1317.  Also on this day, in 1310, Edward confiscated the goods of his later favourite Hugh Despenser the Younger, who had gone to take part in a joust in Mons contrary to the king's recent prohibition.

Other anniversaries this week:

On 3 January 1323, Andrew Harclay, earl of Carlisle, met Robert Bruce, king of Scots, at Lochmaben, and told Bruce that Edward II would acknowledge him as king of Scots.  Edward executed Harclay for treason exactly two months later.

On 8 January 1323 or shortly before: Death by peine forte et dure of Robert Lewer, once a close ally of the king who loathed the Despensers and turned against Edward, and frankly was a bit of a thug. Well, more than a bit.

On 11 January 1323 - why are all these anniversaries in 1323? - Maurice, Lord Berkeley and Sir Hugh Audley the Elder nearly escaped from Wallingford Castle.

03 January, 2015

2 or 3 January 1315: Piers Gaveston's Funeral

Today, or perhaps yesterday, is the 700th anniversary of Piers Gaveston's funeral. Here's a post about it.

Piers Gaveston, earl of Cornwall, was killed at Blacklow Hill in Warwickshire on 19 June 1312. A group of Dominican friars from Oxford came across the body - presumably not by accident, as the Dominicans were Edward II's favourite order and the king's fervent supporters, and it would seem a bit of a coincidence if they of all people just happened to find Piers' body - and took it to their house at Oxford. They embalmed Piers' body, and sewed his head back on (he had been murdered by being run through with a sword, then his head was struck off).

This is where things get a bit morbid and strange. The Dominicans were unable to bury Piers in consecrated ground, as he had died excommunicate; following his return to England earlier in 1312, the archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Winchelsey, had "seized his sword and struck Piers with anathema," as the Vita Edwardi Secundi (ed. Denholm-Young, p. 22) puts it. At some point, it is unknown when, the sentence of excommunication was lifted, but Edward II still refused to have Piers buried. His embalmed body continued to lie with the Dominicans in Oxford, who dressed it in cloth-of-gold. Edward paid the friars the staggeringly large sum of eighty pence a day to pray for Piers' remains, and paid for two custodians to watch over the body, also a huge amount; for a mere twenty-eight days in December 1314, for example, the two men received fifteen pounds.

Various chroniclers claim that Edward II had sworn not to have Piers Gaveston buried until he had gained revenge on Piers' killers: the Vita, for example (p. 58) says that Edward vowed "first to avenge Piers, and then consign his body to the grave." This proved impossible, however, and finally, two and a half years after Piers' murder, Edward decided to have him buried. I don't know what motivated him to hold the funeral at this time, but he was at something of a low ebb personally and politically in late 1314, having lost the battle of Bannockburn that June and having also lost control of his own government to his cousin Thomas, earl of Lancaster. The beleaguered king's thoughts turned to his lost love, Piers Gaveston, and on 27 December 1314, Edward gave the chancellor and scholars of Oxford University twenty pounds to pray for Piers' soul. Either on 2 or 3 January 1315*, Piers Gaveston's funeral took place at Langley Priory in Hertfordshire, which Edward II himself had founded in late 1308. Langley was Edward's favourite residence, and he had spent much time there with Piers.

* Piers's biographer Jeff Hamilton gives the date as 3 January, and Edward II's biographer Seymour Phillips as the 2nd. For myself, I'm not entirely sure. Edward stayed at Langley from 1 to 18 January.

Piers Gaveston's funeral must have been a deeply emotional occasion for Edward. He spent a massive £300 on three cloths of gold to dress Piers' body, fifteen pounds on food for the guests, and sixty-four pounds for twenty-three tuns of wine, which is about 22,000 litres if I've worked it out correctly. On Christmas Day 1314, Edward ordered his butler Walter Waldeshef to buy the wine and have it taken to Langley for Piers' funeral (Close Rolls 1313-18, p. 139). Edward also paid for three pavilions to be taken to Langley - for guests to stay in or for various ceremonies to take place in, perhaps? - and several documents now held in the National Archives, which I haven't yet seen, include the details and expenses of conveying Piers' body the approximately fifty miles from Oxford to Langley (The National Archives E 101/375/15 and 16, E 101/376/2).

Among those who attended Piers Gaveston's funeral were: Queen Isabella (how did she feel, I wonder?); the king's fourteen-year-old half-brother Thomas of Brotherton, earl of Norfolk; the king's brother-in-law Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford (very bravely, considering he was one of the men who put Piers to death); I presume Edward's niece Margaret de Clare, Piers' widow, and their daughter Joan, not quite three, but I don't know that for sure; the two Hugh Despensers; Edward's kinsmen Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke and Henry, Lord Beaumont; Walter Reynolds, archbishop of Canterbury; Bartholomew, Lord Badlesmere; the mayor of London; four bishops; fourteen abbots; fifty knights; and large numbers of Dominican friars. The list of important non-attendees is far longer, and includes the earls of Lancaster and Warwick, who had had Piers killed.

Piers Gaveston was finally buried, though not, of course, forgotten by Edward II, who for the rest of his reign lavished money on Piers' tomb and on having prayers said regularly for the soul of his lost love.

18 December, 2014

Support Group for People Unfairly Maligned in Historical Fiction (2)

Finally, the Support Group for People Unfairly Maligned in Historical Fiction reconvenes after half a decade!  Here's the first part, and don't forget the Support Group for Tragic Queens.  :-)  If you have any additions, do leave them in the comments or on my Facebook page - I'd love to read them!  And as this will be my last post till early 2015, I'd like to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Edward II: Greetings, everyone!  I'm Edward of Caernarfon, as you probably all know - do feel free to call me Ned - and I'm your moderator for this, the second meeting of all of us unfortunate historical folks maligned in fiction of the twenty-first century.  We're here to share our pain, and to share the sillinesses perpetuated about us written hundreds of years after our deaths.  I'll get us started.  As well as all the unfair and wildly untrue things about me I shared at our last meeting, there's some new stuff.  According to one novelist, I react to things by 'snivelling' and am a coward who runs away from the battlefield of Bannockburn and is too afraid to fight, even though in reality I had to be dragged protesting from the field and fought 'like a lioness deprived of her cubs' right in the thick of battle.

Piers Gaveston: Pretty damn sure I never saw you snivel, Ned.  I bet the terribly heterosexual manly hero Roger Mortimer doesn't 'snivel' in that novel, eh?

Edward II: Damn right, he doesn't.  That same novel also accuses me of cowardice because I don't beat up my wife, which was a real lolwut?? moment, I tell you.

Margaret Beaufort: May I have the floor, Ned?  I, apparently, am a religious maniac with a weirdly anachronistic Joan of Arc fetish - why? I mean, why?! - which I have to talk about every five minutes.  I mysteriously forget that I'm the countess of Richmond all the time.  But worst of all by far, I'm meant to have had Edward IV's two sons murdered in the Tower of London so that my own son Henry Tudor could become king.  Because obviously I knew that Richard III's son would conveniently die young a few months later and clear the path to the throne, and I could stroll in and out of the most fortified and well-guarded stronghold in the country and murder two princes without anyone noticing.  Yup.  Invisible Superwoman, that's me.

Edward II: That's awful, Margaret!  You mean people are willing to accuse you of the cold-blooded murder of children when there isn't the tiniest shred of evidence whatsoever?

Margaret Beaufort: Indeed there are, plenty of them.  There are also people on modern social media who call me a 'snake' and express a wish that I'd died in childbirth and my son with me.  I was thirteen at the time.  Yes, there really are people out there who wish a thirteen-year-old had suffered a painful death in childbirth.  It seems that they forget we were human beings with feelings too.

Edward II: That's beyond sickening.  It's like all the people who snigger and gloat at my supposed murder by red-hot poker and make childish jokes about 'sizzled botty' and the like, and call the manner of murder 'ingenious'.  Luckily it never happened, but yes, it amazes me that there are people who seem to take great pleasure in the vile torture and slow death of a human being.

Anne Boleyn: I don't really get why so many people in the twenty-first century feel the need to take sides, and be actually kind of vicious about it sometimes.  It's either Team Katherine of Aragon or Team Anne or Team Jane Seymour.  It's like, if you're a fan of Katherine you have to malign me, or if you're a fan of me, you have to malign Jane.  Who totally deserves it, of course.  Hehe, just kidding.  And I've also been accused of 'at least one murder' by a popular modern writer.  Still racking my brains to figure out who the heck it is I'm supposed to have had murdered.

Isabella of France: Agree with your first point, Anne.  A lot of writers seem to think that if they like me, they automatically have to hate my husband Edward II and be as nasty about him as possible.  Sorry to hear about the murder thing too.  I've been accused of it myself, and of sexual immorality, and there are still people who insist on perpetuating that ridiculous 'she-wolf' nickname.  Gah.

Edward II: Izzy, you know I love you dearly, but I don't think you really belong in this group.  The Group for People Excessively Romanticised in Modern Historical Fiction is more up your street.

Isabella: Hmph, don't tell me where I can and cannot go, dear husband.  I am queen.  And besides, that excessive romanticising of me is a kind of maligning too, you know.  Strips me of all my humanity and makes me out to be some kind of time-traveller to my own era from 700 years in the future.  And I'm getting really sick of the 'poor dear Izzy was such a victim of her horrid husband' routine.  Hey, I'm queen and regent of England, daughter of the king of France and the queen of Navarre.  The word 'victim' is not in my vocabulary.

Edward II: Remember that novel that has me sending men to tear our children literally right out of your arms and take them somewhere where you'll never see them again?  Such silly melodrama!  Some people seem incapable of understanding that our social and familial norms were not those of the twenty-first century.  Oi, novelists and writers of so-called non-fiction, I set up separate households for my children in the same way that all medieval kings did.  Why do you never write my daughter-in-law Philippa of Hainault being the victim of her cruel husband when my son Edward III sets up a household for their kids in 1340, including the baby John of Gaunt?  What's the difference?

Isabella of France: Hahaha, yeah, the novel that makes you out to be so indifferent to our children that you struggle even to remember their names, ROFLMAO!  Talk about hitting readers over the head with a sledgehammer with that kind of characterisation - the novelist might as well write you with a neon sign twenty feet high over your head screaming I AM AN UNSYMPATHETIC CHARACTER, HATE ME!

George, duke of Clarence: Hey, everyone!  Talking about blatant ways of making us appear really unlikeable and horrible, I'd like to protest at the way novelists in the twenty-first century portray me as this ridiculously one-dimensional alcoholic wife-beater.  That's all there ever was to me, apparently.  Alcoholism.  And wife-beating.  I never even laid a finger on Isabel!

Hugh Despenser the Younger: Sorry to hear that, George.  I've been depicted as a wife-beater too, and a sadist who had people tortured for the laffs.  Yeah.

Henry VII: There's this one novel where my mother Margaret Beaufort - who just hasn't been maligned enough, apparently - tells me to rape my fiancée Elizabeth of York before we marry to make sure that she can become pregnant.  If she can't, I'm to marry her sister Cecily instead.  Still trying to figure that one out - am I supposed to go through all the sisters until I find one who gets pregnant and then marry her?  Just so darn weird.

Elizabeth of York: Wait, let me see that one!  Oh yeah, I remember now, the novel where I spend half the time mooning over my lost uncle Richard III, who I was totally in love with, allegedly, and refer to constantly as 'my lover'.  My uncle.  There is not enough eeeewwwww in my vocabulary.

Henry VII: I'm depicted as this pathetic little mummy's boy half the time.  And I've been trying to block the horror of it out of my mind, but there's another novel that has me - get this, folks - drinking the blood of young men.  Like wuuuuuuh?

Henry VIII: Hey there, parents!  I'm a victim of maligning too - it seems that lots of people think I'm some kind of psychopath who had women killed for fun.  Had thousands of people killed for fun, in fact.

Anne Boleyn: Well, you did kind of have me executed, hubby dear.  My cousin Katherine Howard too.

Henry VIII: You deserved it, my love.  Anyway, it wasn't like I did it for fun, y'know.  I genuinely thought you were guilty of adultery.

Anne Boleyn: Tell me again, dear hubby, what exactly was the logic behind you having our marriage annulled just before my execution?  How could I have cheated on you when we'd never officially been married?

Henry VIII: *whistles* I can't hear you I can't hear you.

Elizabeth of York: I don't know.

Edward II: You don't know what?

Elizabeth of York: I don't know what I don't know.  I don't know anything.  Say anything to me and I'll reply that I don't know.

Elizabeth Woodville: Hey, everyone, did you know I'm a witch?  Witch witch witch.  Who makes witchy things happen all the witching time.  Because I'm a witch.  A witchy witch who does lots of witchy things.  On every witchy page of the witchy novel about how I'm a witch.

Mary Boleyn: And I'm Anne's sister, and rival.  We're sisters, but rivals.  You see?  We're sisters, and rivals at the same time.  Do you get it?  Sisters.  And RIVALS.  Rivals and sisters.  At the same time.  Do you see it now?  Had I better tell you again?

Edward II: Hehehe, you've got to love such incredibly subtle characterisation.  And modern historical fiction authors doing all their As You Know, Bob dialogue is even funnier.  "That happened the year after your brother wed Sylvia Bigod, the queen's lady-in-waiting."  "Why not ask your sister Eleanor, who is wed to Hugh Despenser? She sits right next to you."  Because that's exactly how people talk to each other, obviously.

Hannah Green, Mary I's fool: Did you know I was begged for a fool?  I still have absolutely no idea what that phrase even means, but I have to repeat it 942 times, just to make sure the reader gets the point.

Elizabeth of York: I don't know.

Roger Mortimer: How's it going, dudes?  Sorry I'm late.  The group for Unequivocally Heterosexual Men Congratulating Each Other On Being Unequivocally Heterosexual overran.  All that back-slapping takes more time than you'd think.  And Henry I insisted on opening up his laptop and making us watch a slideshow of all his illegitimate children.  Blimey, that just kept going.

Edward II: Hey, Rog, remember the writer who called you a 'lusty adventurer'?  That was in non-fiction too!  Bwhahahahahaha!

Roger Mortimer: Do. Not. Remind. Me.  Do you have any idea of how much I got the p*ss taken out of me by my household knights after that?  It went on and on for bloody months.  Just when I thought they'd finally forgotten about it, one knight went 'OK, dudes, ready for some adventures?' in the tiltyard and that was it, they were off again, literally falling off their horses laughing at me.

Piers Gaveston: Bet your squire liked the 'lusty' bit, though.  Whistling innocently here.

Roger Mortimer: Sod off, Gaveston.  I so did not have sexual relations with that squire.

Elizabeth of York: I don't know.

Isabella of France: Not maligning as such, but there are these novels where it's soooo obvious that the author is leching over me.  It makes me throw up a bit in my mouth.  On and on and on all the time, like every second page, about how beautiful and gorgeous and desirable I am and how beautiful my body is, even though I'm only like fifteen, and one yucky bit where I'm said to have 'matured to full ripeness'.  Matured to full ripeness??!  I am so grossed out.

Edward II: LOL yeah, that series of novels narrated by a supposedly heterosexual woman who leches over you all the time but never notices men and how they look.  So weird.

Anne Neville: I'm getting pretty annoyed with the way I'm almost always depicted as terribly frail, to the point where I faint or collapse about every five minutes.  Yes, I died young, but that doesn't mean I'd been a permanent invalid all my life, people!  Yeesh, it'd be great to have someone write me as though I had an actual backbone and some personality, instead of as this weak feeble fainting little...thing.

Edward of Lancaster: True, and it'd be nice if someone would acknowledge that you didn't necessarily spend your entire marriage to me weeping and wailing over Richard of Gloucester.

Anne Neville: I did a little bit at first maybe, just a tiny little bit, but I soon got used to the idea of being queen of England one day.  That was pretty cool.  Something else modern novelists never seem to realise about me is that maybe I had a bit of ambition and quite fancied being a queen!

Edward of Lancaster: Yeah, we kind of got used to being married to each other and didn't mind it at all, did we?  And you know, it's so unfair when a throwaway bravado comment you make when you're still practically a child is then used for the next half a millennium as though it represents the sum total of your personality and is constantly used to present you as a sadistic murderous psychopath.  Modern people, would you like it if someone took one of your sulky adolescent pronouncements as though it's representative of your entire life and attitudes?

Henry VI: And when one remark by one visitor to England, simply reporting a rumour he had heard that I supposedly said that my son Edward was fathered by the Holy Ghost, is taken that my son absolutely must have been fathered by someone else other than me.  As though my wife Margaret of Anjou isn't maligned enough!

Margaret of Anjou: Oh, you mean I actually have a name?  Like seriously?  I thought I was just called 'the bad queen'.  Voice dripping with sarcasm here.

Edward II: They do that to me as well, Henry, and the really daft thing is that there wasn't even a single tiny rumour or hint at the time or long afterwards, it's entirely a modern invention.  There are actually still people insisting that William Wallace fathered my son Edward III despite having been dead for seven years at the time, or that my father did, even though he had been dead for five years.  And there are plenty of folks who refuse to let go of the notion that Roger Mortimer was my son's real father.  He was in Ireland at the time, people!  Amazingly, remarkably, unequivocally heterosexual Roger may have been, but even he didn't produce sperm that could cross the Irish Sea.

Henry III: Actually, Ned, dear grandson, we should start up a support group for all of us who've had the paternity of our children assigned to other men.  My son Edward I is said to have actually been the child of my brother-in-law Simon de Montfort, even though Simon wasn't even in England when dear Eleanor and I conceived Edward.  For pity's sake.

Eleanor of Provence: The horror of that calumny, of being accused of committing adultery with a man I could barely stand the sight of!  I'm also said in the same series of novels to have had an affair with the earl of Gloucester, and my son Edward hits on his own half-sister, how yucky and icky.  The author couldn't even get your name right, dear Henry - everyone who knows anything at all about the thirteenth century knows you were called Henry of Winchester after your birthplace, but in that book you're called Henry of Monmouth, who of course was Henry V!  It's not often you see a man being confused with his own great-great-great-great-grandson, ROFL.

Elizabeth of York: I don't know.

Edward II: Afraid we're running out of time and will have to wrap this up now, folks!  Hope you all feel somewhat better after getting this rubbish off your chests, and take care until the next meeting of the Support Group for People Maligned in Historical Fiction!  Goodnight!