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!

12 December, 2014

Yet More Cool Names of Edward II's Era

As it's nearly Christmas, here's a post with some funny or cool names I've found in the early fourteenth century, following on from long-ago posts on the same subject herehere and here. :-)  Let's face it, though, however hard I look for great names, nothing's ever going to top Adam le Fuckere...

Adam son of Hugh de Mukelesdon-in-the-Hales: pardoned for murder in 1310.

Siglanus Susse: a merchant of Bishop's Lynn in 1325 (he seems to have been Norwegian).

Valentine de Arundell: accused of murder before King's Bench in 1308.

'Nicholas Valentyn and Valentine his brother' signed a charter in Dover in 1319.  Valentine Valentyn?

Bona le Hoder: late the wife of Godwin le Hoder, a citizen of London in 1321.

Gilbert Asole: murdered by one John le Wayte in or before 1326.

Eudo de Assarto: going overseas with the archbishop of York in 1311.

Master Bindus de Bandinellus: appointed an attorney in 1324.

Dukettus de Eldestok: accused of burning down a grange in Dorset in 1319.

Peter Misfitte: accused of stealing goods from a wrecked ship on the Isle of Wight in 1321.

Hermer Alisaundre and John Cukcuk: accused of breaking and entering in Norfolk in 1308.

Ispanius de Garossa: parson of a church in Norfolk in 1310.

Virgilius Godespeny: witnessed a charter in Dover in 1320.

Ivo de Baggeslo: accused of breaking and entering in Warwickshire in 1327.

William Abbessesometer, John Henriesheiward and Henry Henriessometer: accused of breaking and entering a house in Wiltshire in 1313.

Conan Dask: accused of theft in Westmorland in 1308.

Serlo Seliman: assaulted and falsely imprisoned in Devon in 1317.

John Dood atte Asshe: accused of assault in Buckinghamshire in 1310.

John Dammanneissone: accused of stealing goods from a ship in Norfolk in 1322.

Elias Atterponne and Esger de Puttesmore: pardoned for stealing cattle in 1310.

Grisius de Barberine: merchant of Florence trading in England in 1308.

Doffus de Barde and Togge de Alboys: other Florentines in England around 1308.

Jovencus Lami: a parson in Lincolnshire in 1319, also a Florentine.

Edeneuet le Budel: accused of assault and false imprisonment in Shropshire in 1322.

Wyot le Fevre ('the smith'), Adam Wyotesman and Roger Rompe: accused of theft and assault in Suffolk in 1319.

Robert de Barneby juxta Calthorn: very posh-sounding name for a man accused of taking his cattle to eat all the grass on a Yorkshire manor in 1309.

Manser Ciprian: accused of entering a court armed in Norfolk in 1325.

Richard Fitz Dieu: a merchant of Kingston-upon-Hull in 1322.  Curious name as it means 'son of God'!

Landus Homo Dei: appointed an attorney by a Florentine banker in England in 1325 (his name means 'man of God').

Lukettus Marabotus de Carpena: appointed a member of Edward II's household in 1317.

Samyas Antoninus Siteroun and Costerus Morel: to be arrested in 1325 for unstated reasons.

Shiteburghlane: a street in London in 1321.

07 December, 2014

Edward II and his Nieces

In this post, I'm looking at the relationships between Edward II and his four eldest nieces Eleanor, Margaret and Elizabeth de Clare and Joan of Bar.  I'm excluding his nieces Eleanor and Margaret de Bohun as, until the end of his reign, they were too young for him to form much kind of relationship with them - at least, one that I can discern from surviving records - and Mary de Monthermer (half-sister of the de Clare sisters) as I haven't found much information about how she got on with Edward.  Mary's younger sister Joan de Monthermer was a nun at Amesbury Priory and I know nothing else about her at all.  Edward's remaining nieces Margaret and Alice of Norfolk and Joan and Margaret of Kent, daughters of his half-brothers Thomas and Edmund, were either born in the last few years of his reign or afterwards, and are thus also excluded.  Just to clarify, of Edward II's five older sisters, three (Eleanor, Joan and Elizabeth) had daughters, and so did both of his younger half-brothers.

Joan of Bar (born 1295 or 1296) was the only daughter of Edward's eldest sister Eleanor (1269-1298) and her husband Count Henri III of Bar, and the three de Clare sisters, born 1292, 1294 and 1295, were daughters of his second eldest sister Joan of Acre (1272-1307) and her first husband Gilbert 'the Red' de Clare, earl of Gloucester.  The four women were not too much younger than their uncle, who was born in 1284.

Eleanor de Clare, Lady Despenser (1292-1337)

I think it's very clear that Eleanor, who was only eight and a half years his junior, was Edward II's favourite niece and that the two were very close.  In 1310, he paid a messenger named John Chaucomb twenty marks for bringing him news of her (the news is not specified but was perhaps that she had borne a child), and early in his reign he even paid her expenses out of court, a sign of great favour.  Eleanor was selected as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Isabella in 1311/12, a year when Isabella's accounts happen to survive, and certainly in other years as well; she was with Isabella at Tynemouth in the autumn of 1322, for example.  At some uncertain date, probably in 1326, Edward put Eleanor in charge of the household of his second son John of Eltham, and in October 1326 left her in charge of the Tower of London when he and Eleanor's husband Hugh Despenser fled from the city, both signs of his trust in her.  In 1323, a royal ship named after her appears on record, La Alianore la Despensere, and in the same year, Edward paid her expenses at the royal manor of Cowick and gave her a large cash gift when she was ill following childbirth.

Edward's last chamber account of July 1325 to October 1326 fortuitously survives intact, the only one of his chamber accounts to do so (there are some fragments from 1322 to 1324, and that's it otherwise), and it is from here that a much fuller picture of Edward and Eleanor's very close relationship emerges.  They spent quite a bit of time together - it's hard to tell for sure but perhaps even more than Edward spent with his 'favourite', Eleanor's husband Hugh - and wrote each other letters and sent each other numerous gifts when apart.  In July 1326 they dined privately together in the park of Windsor Castle, and Eleanor is recorded several times as being present with the king when he sailed up and down the Thames west of London that summer, and he sometimes bought her fish.  (You really can't get away from fish for very long in Edward's chamber accounts.)  On 2 December 1325, Edward made a quick trip from Westminster to the royal palace of Sheen for the sole purpose of visiting Eleanor, taking only eight attendants with him, and gave her a gift of a hundred marks; he had also been paying her expenses there since at least October.  She was heavily pregnant at the time of the visit or had just given birth, as a few days later the king made an offering of thirty shillings to give thanks to God for the prompt delivery of Eleanor's child.  Did he sail down the Thames to see her because he'd heard that her baby had been born?  The entry says "Paid to my lady, Lady Eleanor Despenser, as a gift, by the hands of the king himself, when the king went from Westminster to Sheen to my said lady and returned to Westminster the same night...".   (Guess what Edward bought on his way to see Eleanor in Sheen? That's right!  Fish!)  A Flemish chronicle actually claims that Edward and Eleanor had an incestuous affair and that Eleanor was imprisoned after Edward's downfall in case she was pregnant by him, though no English chronicler states this.  For myself, I really wouldn't want to accuse them of incest without more compelling evidence, though it does seem to me that perhaps there was a little more going on between them than an uncle-niece relationship.  Hmmmm.

Margaret de Clare, countess of Cornwall (probably 1294-1342)

Joan of Acre and Gilbert the Red de Clare's second daughter was Margaret, born probably in the spring of 1294 or thereabouts, perhaps in Ireland, and who was thus almost exactly ten years younger than her uncle.  Edward arranged her marriage to Piers Gaveston on 1 November 1307 when she was about thirteen and a half; he was desperately keen to bring Piers into the royal family by marriage, and Margaret was his eldest unmarried close female relative.  It's well-nigh impossible to establish the nature of Edward and Margaret's relationship at this point; did Edward care at all about how Margaret might feel about being married to a man involved in some kind of very intense relationship with her own uncle?  Would it have mattered to him in the slightest if she hadn't wanted to marry Piers?  Margaret's personality, feelings and thoughts at this period of time are also impossible to determine: all we know is that she did her uncle's bidding and married Piers, and if she objected to it, this is not recorded.

After Piers' murder in June 1312, Edward II showed himself keen to look after Margaret financially, and gave her a very generous settlement.  Was this out of affection for her as his niece, or because she was Piers' widow?  I don't know.  After Margaret's brother the earl of Gloucester was killed at Bannockburn in June 1314 and she and her sisters became great heiresses, Edward took her into his own household, which could be seen as a sign of his affection and concern for her but more realistically is because he wanted to keep an eye on her, a desire which can only have increased after her younger sister Elizabeth married Theobald de Verdon without his permission in early 1316.  On 28 April 1317, Edward attended Margaret's wedding to his household knight and 'favourite' Sir Hugh Audley.  I can't say for sure whether Edward II was really fond of Margaret or not, only that he seems to have been pleased with her, to have been willing to ensure that she and her daughter Joan Gaveston were well provided for financially, and that there is no evidence of any conflict between the two until 1322.  Perhaps this is because Margaret did what he wanted and married two of his 'favourites' without (recorded) complaint.

All this changed in and after 1322, when Margaret's husband Hugh Audley joined the Contrariant rebellion and fought against the royal army at Boroughbridge in March 1322.  Margaret still retained enough influence over her uncle to be able to plead successfully for Hugh's life to be spared, but Edward ordered her to remove herself to Sempringham Priory in Lincolnshire soon afterwards: she arrived there on 16 May 1322.  He allowed her three servants and a generous enough five shillings a day for her expenses, but told her she was "not to go without the gates of the house."  And there, as far as I know, Margaret remained until her uncle's downfall four and a half years later, while her elder sister Eleanor rose ever higher in the king's favour.  Edward II clearly was furious at what he saw as Hugh Audley's betrayal, and some of this rage spilled out onto Margaret, whether reasonably or not (possibly this was just Edward being vindictive as he often was towards family members of people he didn't like, or possibly he had good reason to suspect that Margaret had played an active role in her husband's rebellion).  And thus the relationship between uncle and niece ended abruptly.

Elizabeth de Clare, Lady de Burgh (1295-1360)

Third daughter of Joan of Acre and Gilbert the Red.  I get the strong feeling that Edward II wasn't fond of Elizabeth at all, though I have no idea why.  He attended her wedding to the earl of Ulster's son and heir John de Burgh in September 1308 - her brother Gilbert married John's sister Maud at the same time - but other than that, I can't think of any occasions when he showed her favour, or support, or kindness.  He ordered her back from Ireland in late 1315, most probably with the intention of bringing her into his household and keeping an eye on her as he did with her elder sister Margaret, but Theobald de Verdon married her without royal permission in Bristol shortly after her return.  To what extent Elizabeth was complicit in this marriage or an innocent victim of abduction is unclear, but it is likely that the event destroyed any trust or affection Edward may ever have had for Elizabeth.  When she was widowed from Verdon after less than six months of marriage, Edward became determined to marry her off to his latest favourite Sir Roger Damory, and wrote to her to this end, describing her as his 'favourite niece', which is simply a bare-faced lie.  The utter brazenness of the lie, told in a transparent attempt to get Elizabeth to do his bidding, just makes me laugh.  Some months later when Elizabeth was heavily pregnant with Verdon's posthumous daughter, Edward tramped over to Amesbury Priory with Roger Damory, in order to persuade her to marry Damory.  Vulnerable, pregnant, widowed for the second time, still only twenty-one, her parents long dead, her only 'protector' the uncle determined to marry her off to a man far beneath her in status, Elizabeth had little choice but to agree.

Roger Damory also joined the Contrariant rebellion some years later, and died at Burton-on-Trent on 12 March 1322.  Even before his death, Elizabeth was captured at Usk in Wales and sent to the abbey of Barking with her young children, where she learned of her husband's death.  On 16 March 1322, Edward told Elizabeth (as he told her sister Margaret two months later) not to go out of the gates of the abbey, and she remained there during the summer of 1322; Edward paid seventy-four pounds for her expenses.  He restored her Welsh lands to her on 25 July 1322 and the English and Irish ones on 2 November, and, unlike her sister Margaret, released her.  Worse was to come, however.  Elizabeth herself related in 1326 how she was ordered to spend Christmas 1322 with her uncle, but when she arrived, she was separated from her council, forced to exchange her valuable Welsh lands for some of her brother-in-law Hugh Despenser's lands there of lesser value, and threatened by the king that she would hold no lands of him unless she consented.  Such appalling behaviour towards his own niece shows Edward II in the worst light possible.  It is hardly surprising that after the arrival of the invasion force of Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer in September 1326, Elizabeth kept in close contact with Isabella via letters and probably had prior knowledge of the invasion, though she was also clever and cautious enough to correspond with her uncle the king as well.  Like her sister Margaret, for whom Edward II's downfall meant freedom and the resumption of her marriage, Elizabeth can hardly have been anything but pleased at the events of late 1326 and early 1327.  She attended Edward's funeral in December 1327; I don't know if her sister Margaret did, and their other sister Eleanor was then still imprisoned.

Joan of Bar, countess of Surrey (1295/96-1361)

Edward attended Joan's wedding to John de Warenne, earl of Surrey, in May 1306, when she was only ten or eleven.  Unfortunately, Joan and John's marriage soon went badly wrong, and sometime before May 1313, Edward sent his valet William Aune to John's castle at Conisbrough to collect Joan and bring her to him (Edward).  He subsequently paid her living expenses at the Tower of London for at least some years.  In July 1313, Joan accompanied Edward and Isabella on their long visit to France, at Edward's special request.

In 1316, John de Warenne began trying to have his marriage to Joan annulled, which left Edward II in a rather awkward position: the earl of Surrey was a very useful political ally who for most of Edward's reign was steadfastly loyal to the king, but Joan was his niece, and he didn't want to alienate either of them.  Edward did his best to steer the difficult course between loyalty to both earl and countess.   In August 1316, he allowed John to surrender his lands to him, and granted them back with reversion to John and Thomas, two of his sons with his mistress Maud Nerford – meaning that he accepted John's illegitimate children as his heirs.  On the other hand, Edward paid all Joan's legal costs, and appointed his clerk Master Aymon de Juvenzano "to prosecute in the Arches at London, and elsewhere in England" on his niece's behalf from 10 July to 26 November 1316.  In November 1316, Joan left to go abroad, probably to stay with her brother Edouard, count of Bar, and Edward gave her more than £166 for her expenses.

Joan's life subsequently becomes rather obscure; I don't know where she was living in and after 1316 and whether Edward was still paying her expenses.  Her estranged husband John remained loyal to Edward during the Contrariant rebellion.  In March 1325 she accompanied Queen Isabella to France, but kept in touch with her uncle: Edward paid her messenger later that year for bringing him her letters.  She seems to have returned to England with Isabella's invasion force in September 1326, or perhaps had returned before, but at any rate was with the queen when Edward's great seal was brought to Isabella in November 1326, shortly after his capture.  To what extent Joan sympathised with the queen's aims and supported her uncle's downfall, I have no idea; other than favouring her estranged husband - which Joan must surely have recognised as a political necessity anyway - I can't think of any instances when Edward was unkind to or unsupportive of her.

03 December, 2014

Nine Years of the Edward II Blog!

Today marks the nine-year anniversary of my blog!  It began on 3 December 2005, and 564 posts later, we're still here!  It's had over 900,000 visitors, so an average of a little over 100,000 a year, though these days I get around 1000 visitors a day.  Not bad at all for a blog about one of the most disastrous kings England's ever had, eh?

Edited to add: many thanks to Kyra Kramer for kindly hosting me on her blog!  My post about Edward II's death can be read here.

This year has been a particularly good one for me and Edward II.  My Edward II: The Unconventional King was released in October (though is not, at the time of writing, yet available in North America, except on Kindle - will be soon!) and is selling really well and getting some great reviews.  In June this year I appeared (briefly) on a BBC documentary marking the 700th anniversary of the battle of Bannockburn.

Here's to the next nine years!  :-)  And thank you all for reading and for all your support.7



29 November, 2014

29 November 1314: Death of Philip IV of France

29 November 2014 marks the 700th anniversary of the death of Edward II's father-in-law (and second cousin) King Philip IV of France.  Philip was forty-six when he died, and had been king for twenty-nine years since the death of his father Philip III on 5 October 1285.

Philip was born sometime in 1268 as the second son of Philip of France and Isabel of Aragon.  He was born in the reign of his grandfather Louis IX, who died on 25 August 1270, at which point Philip's father acceded as Philip III, and also during the reign of his maternal grandfather, the Spanish king Jaime I of Aragon, who died in July 1276.  Philip IV was the great-grandson of King Andras II of Hungary, and the great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson of Harold Godwinson, the king of England killed at Hastings in 1066, via Harold's daughter Gytha of Wessex and her husband Vladimir Monomakh of Kiev.  Philip's uncle on his mother's side was Pedro III of Aragon and he was the first cousin of Alfonso III and Jaime II of Aragon, and his aunt Violante married Edward II's uncle Alfonso X of Castile and was the mother of Sancho IV, who was both Philip's first cousin and Edward II's.  Philip and Edward themselves were second cousins: their paternal grandmothers were sisters, Marguerite and Eleanor of Provence, queens of France and England.

Philip had two younger brothers: Robert, born in 1269, who died as a child, and Charles of Valois, born in March 1270, father of the Valois dynasty which ruled France from 1328 to 1589.  Their mother Isabel of Aragon was pregnant with her fifth child when she died in January 1271 following a fall from her horse, just five months after she became queen of France on the death of her father-in-law Louis IX.  The poor woman must have been perpetually pregnant: Philip in 1268, Robert in 1269, Charles in March 1270, and pregnant again in January 1271.  Queen Isabel's widower Philip III married his second wife Marie of Brabant in 1274, and she was the mother of Philip IV's half-siblings Louis, count of Evreux (b. 1276); Edward II's stepmother Marguerite, queen of England (b. 1278/79); and Blanche, duchess of Austria (b. early 1280s?).

Philip IV had an older brother Louis, born in about 1264.  This was something Philip had in common with his father Philip III, who was the second son of Louis IX and Marguerite of Provence and became the king's heir when his elder brother Louis died in early 1260 when he was fifteen or sixteen.  Louis the younger, eldest son of Philip III and Isabel of Aragon, died in 1276, aged about twelve; suspicions were raised that he was poisoned by his stepmother Marie of Brabant, whose son Louis (yet another Louis!) of Evreux was born that year.*  This seems highly unlikely given that there were two other surviving brothers of Philip III's first marriage, Philip IV and Charles of Valois.

* I know this is really confusing, so just to clarify: both Philip III and Philip IV had elder brothers called Louis, heirs to the throne of their fathers, who both died before they became king.  Philip III had two sons called Louis, one who died in 1276 and one who was born that year (and died in 1319).

The future Philip IV, aged sixteen or almost, married Queen Joan I of Navarre on 16 August 1284, three days before the death of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile's third son Alfonso of Bayonne, and they became king and queen of France the following year.  They had seven children together, though only four survived childhood and only the date of birth of the eldest son is known: Louis X, born on 4 October 1289.  Their other sons who survived childhood were Philip V, born in the early 1290s, and Charles IV, born in about 1293/94.  Their only surviving daughter was Isabella, Edward II's queen, probably born in 1295.  Philip IV and Joan I's three sons fathered at least eight daughters between them, but all their sons died young, and so the French throne passed in 1328 to Philip of Valois, son of Philip IV's brother Charles of Valois.  Philip IV's only surviving grandson, Edward III (not counting Edward's younger brother John of Eltham, who died in 1336), claimed the throne of France.  Not quite what Philip had had in mind when he arranged the marriage of his daughter to Edward II.

Philip updated his will at Fontainebleau on 28 November 1314, the day before he died (Seymour Phillips, Edward II, p. 223).  He left Isabella, carissime filie nostre regine Angliae, 'our beloved daughter the queen of England', two rings, one set with a ruby called 'the cherry' which she had previously given to him; she had not been bequeathed anything in his previous will of May 1311.  Isabella was elsewhere named in the will as carissima Ysabella regina Angliae carissima filia nostra, 'beloved Isabella, queen of England, our beloved daughter'.  Edward II had heard of his father-in-law's death by 15 December, on which day he ordered the archbishops of Canterbury and York, all the bishops and twenty-eight abbots to "celebrate exequies" for him.  (Close Rolls 1313-18, p. 204.)  Philip was only forty-six, and had three sons aged between twenty and twenty-five; neither he nor anyone else could have predicted that in less than fourteen years, all his sons would be dead with no male heirs and that the great Capetian dynasty would come to an end.

25 November, 2014

25 November: Feast Day of Saint Katherine

Today is my name-day, the feast of Saint Katherine/Catherine/Kathryn of Alexandria, martyred by being broken on a wheel in c. 305.  In 1325, Edward II ordered his almoner John Denton to give five pounds' worth of food to the poor to mark the saint's day.  He also gave ten shillings to a woman called Anneis for 'what she did at the gate of the Tower of London' on this day to honour St Katherine, though what Anneis did is not specified.  The following year, 1326, the feast of St Katherine must have been a terrible day for Edward II: he was in captivity and his beloved Hugh Despenser the Younger had been grotesquely executed the day before.

Katherine was the name of one of Edward II's numerous short-lived older sisters, born in c. 1261/63 and died in 1264, and the name of his aunt, Henry III and Eleanor of Provence's youngest child, who was born on the feast day of Saint Katherine in 1253 and died at the age of three and a half (Edward I and Eleanor of Castile presumably named their daughter after this sister of Edward).  Katherine doesn't seem to have been a terribly common name in England during Edward II's reign.  Hugh Despenser the Younger had a chamberlain named Clement Holditch, whose wife was called Katherine; on 31 October 1325, Katherine Holditch went to ask for Edward II's help regarding 'some great business she had to do'.  Hugh the Younger and Eleanor de Clare's youngest daughter Elizabeth and her husband Maurice, Lord Berkeley named their first daughter Katherine, probably in honour of Maurice's stepmother Katherine Cliveden.  There was a 'hospital of St Katherine by the Tower of London', founded in c. 1148 by King Stephen's wife Queen Matilda, and in June 1318, Edward appointed his clerk Richard de Lusteshull custodian of it for life.  More info here.

The Anneis mentioned above celebrating the feast day of St Katherine in 1325 was married to Roger de May, one of Edward II's chamber valets or grooms.  Most unusually - all great households of the Middle Ages consisted almost exclusively of men - Edward hired Anneis herself as one of his (more than thirty) chamber valets on 5 December 1325 at wages of three pence a day, the same as her husband and the other valets received.  Joan Traghs, wife of the chamber valet Robin Traghs, was herself also hired as a valet on 8 March 1326, and received her wages of three pence a day for forty-four days while she was away from court, ill.  Both Anneis de May and Joan Traghs, and their husbands, were among the chamber staff who remained loyal to Edward II until the very end, and were named in the last entries of his chamber account of 31 October 1326, when it ceased to be kept.

19 November, 2014

Alice de Lacy, Countess of Lincoln, and IPMs

I was recently looking at the Inquisition Post Mortem of Henry de Lacy, earl of Lincoln, who died on 5 February 1311 at the age of sixty.  At the time of his death, Henry was acting as regent of England during Edward II's long and unsuccessful 1310/11 campaign against Robert Bruce in Scotland, and Edward sent his nephew Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester, back to England to act as his regent instead - a heavy responsibility for a man who was not yet twenty.  Henry de Lacy had been a close ally of Edward I, and tried his best to show the same loyalty to Edward II, but Edward's antics re: Piers Gaveston early on in his reign aggravated Henry beyond endurance, and he was a leading member of the opposition to the king and the earl of Cornwall.  He did later come back to the king's side, however.

Henry was the son of Edmund de Lacy, earl of Lincoln, who died in 1258 when Henry was still a child, and Alesia de Saluzzo, daughter of Manfred del Vasto, marquis of Saluzzo.  Alesia's sister Agnese married the English baron John, Lord Vescy (who married secondly Isabella Beaumont), and their niece Alesia married Richard Fitzalan, earl of Arundel and was the mother of Edmund, earl of Arundel: a spate of England-Saluzzo marriages in the thirteenth century, and one which ensured that two of the English earls of Edward II's reign, Henry de Lacy and Edmund Fitzalan, were half-Italian.

In 1311, Henry left as his heir his sole surviving legitimate child, Alice, his son Edmund having died in a childhood accident (another son, John, appears to have been illegitimate and Alice's half-brother, and later became one of her clerks, as Elizabeth Ashworth has discovered).  Henry was also survived by his much younger second wife Joan Martin, with whom he had no children.  Joan's date of birth is unknown but her brother William was probably born in 1294, and her second husband Nicholas Audley was born on 11 November 1292.  Henry de Lacy, by way of comparison, was born at the beginning of the 1250s so must have been forty years Joan's senior.  Alice de Lacy and her stepmother Joan Martin were ordered to be brought to Edward II on 22 March 1322, the day of Alice's husband Thomas of Lancaster's execution; Joan, who was probably no more than thirty at the time, is almost inevitably described with great pathos in modern books as Alice's 'elderly mother' by writers who haven't done their research properly.

Alice's mother was in fact Margaret Longespee, who died sometime after 22 August 1306 and before 16 June 1310, when her widower Henry de Lacy was already married to Joan Martin.  Born in about 1254, Margaret was countess of Salisbury in her own right: she was the great-granddaughter and heir of William Longespee (Longsword), earl of Salisbury, an illegitimate son of Henry II.  Her father and grandfather were also named William Longespee, earl of Salisbury.  Her grandfather William, grandson of Henry II, was killed at the battle of Mansourah in Egypt in 1250 during Louis IX's disastrous crusade, and her father William died at the end of 1256 or beginning of 1257, when she was only two years old.  Margaret Longespee's mother Maud Clifford, Alice de Lacy's maternal grandmother, was a granddaughter of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, prince of Gwynedd, via Llywelyn's daughter Marared.  After the death of her first husband William Longespee the third (d. 1256/57), Maud Clifford was abducted and forcibly married to John, Lord Giffard of Brimpsfield, Gloucestershire.  Maud's younger daughter from this forced marriage, Catherine Giffard, was the mother of Nicholas Audley, who married Henry de Lacy's widow Joan Martin, as above.  This means that the child of Margaret Longespee's half-sister married the widow of Margaret's widower.  Ummmm.

Moving rapidly on, Alice de Lacy married Thomas of Lancaster, Edward I's nephew, in or shortly before the autumn of 1294, when she was twelve going on thirteen and he probably sixteen: Henry de Lacy's Inquisition Post Mortem says that in February/March 1311 Thomas was aged '32 and more' and 33, which would put his date of birth in 1277/78 - this fits well with the date of his parents' (Edmund of Lancaster and Blanche of Artois) wedding in early 1276.  Marriage to Alice was an extremely advantageous match for Thomas, who would one day add Alice's earldoms of Lincoln and Salisbury to the three, Lancaster, Leicester and Derby, he would inherit from his father Edmund.  Edward I had in 1292 (Foedera 1272-1307, p. 738) arranged a marriage for Thomas with Beatrice, daughter of Hugh, viscount of Avallon, son of Duke Hugh IV of Burgundy (d. 1272), but this marriage did not go ahead, I think because Beatrice died.

Edward II sent out a writ to his two escheators on 6 February 1311 at Berwick-on-Tweed, the day after Henry de Lacy's death - obviously the news reached him very swiftly - ordering them to take Henry's lands into his own hands*, and as usual inquisitions were taken in all the counties where Henry had held lands, to determine the extent of the lands and how he had held them (i.e. of the king in chief or from someone else), and the identity of his heir and her approximate age.  Between 20 February and 11 March 1311, inquisitions were held in Lincolnshire, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire, Middlesex, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, Berkshire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Dorset, Herefordshire, Lancashire, Cheshire and Denbigh.  The jurors in all these counties correctly named Alice as Henry's heir, some also identified her as the wife of Thomas of Lancaster, and most had a stab at guessing her age.  The guesses varied between 24 and 32, and hit just about every age in between.  Not terribly helpful.  However, the jurors of Denbigh, the de Lacys' great North Wales lordship, had better information.  Alice almost certainly was born in the castle there, and the Denbigh jurors were the only ones not to guess her age but to give it precisely.  On 21 February 1311, they declared that Alice was 'aged 29 on Christmas Day last', i.e. 1310, and thus was probably born on 25 December 1281 (or perhaps shortly before).

[* Calendar of Fine Rolls 1307-1319, p. 81; Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1307-1327, pp. 153-164.]

Inquisitions Post Mortem are a fantastic resource, but in a world still half a millennium away from inventing birth certificates, the information they provide about people's ages should often be taken with a pinch of salt, as the information can vary considerably.  For example, Margaret Audley, only child and heir of Edward II's niece Margaret de Clare and Hugh Audley, earl of Gloucester, must have been born sometime between early 1318 and late 1322.  In her mother's IPM taken from April to August 1342, Margaret was variously said to be 18 and 20 and thus born in 1322 or 1324 (impossible as her father had been imprisoned since March 1322), and in her father's, taken in November/December 1347, she was said to be either 24, 26 or 30, so born in 1323, 1321 or 1317 (her parents married on 28 April 1317).  I also saw one recently, can't recall quite who it was now, where a tenant in-chief's son and heir was said to be either nine or fifteen.  Theobald de Verdon, who abducted Edward II's widowed niece Elizabeth de Clare in 1316, was said in his father's IPM of 1309 to be anywhere between 22 and 30, but the Shropshire jurors give his date of birth precisely: aged 31 at the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Mary last, so he was born on 8 September 1278 (or soon before).  Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke, was said in his mother Joan's IPM of September/October 1307 to be anywhere between 24 and 37, which would put his year of birth between 1270 and 1283.  Ummmm, helpful.

14 November, 2014

The Children of Edmund of Woodstock and Margaret Wake, and Joan of Kent's Date of Birth

Edmund of Woodstock was born on 5 August 1301 as the youngest son of Edward I, then aged sixty-two; his mother was Edward's second queen Marguerite of France, Philip IV's half-sister.  Edmund was created earl of Kent by his half-brother Edward II, who was seventeen years his senior, on 28 July 1321, just before his twentieth birthday.  (Calendar of Fine Rolls 1319-27, p. 68)

Margaret Wake was the daughter of John, Lord Wake; first cousin of Roger Mortimer, first earl of March, via their mothers the Fiennes sisters; and great-great-granddaughter of both Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, prince of Gwynedd, and of John de Brienne, emperor of Constantinople.  She was married firstly to John Comyn, only son of John 'the Red Comyn', lord of Badenoch, stabbed to death by his great rival Robert Bruce in February 1306.  The younger John was killed at Bannockburn in June 1314 fighting for Edward II, and their little boy Aymer Comyn, named after John's maternal uncle Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke, died in infancy.  Margaret was born sometime in the mid to late 1290s and was thus some years older than her second husband Edmund.  She died on 29 September 1349; her brother Thomas, Lord Wake, whose heir she was - as his marriage to Henry of Lancaster and Maud Chaworth's eldest daughter Blanche was childless - had died on 31 May that year.  (Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1347-52, pp. 201-10, 233-5)

Margaret Wake and Edmund of Woodstock married around the middle of December 1325; the date of their wedding is not recorded but the Annales Paulini (ed. Stubbs, p. 310) say that it took place at about the same time as the death of Edmund's uncle Charles, count of Valois, which occurred on 16 December 1325.

The couple had four children.  Their youngest, John, earl of Kent, who was presumably named after his maternal grandfather John Wake, was born in Arundel Castle, Sussex on 7 April 1330; the exact date was given on record when John proved that he had come of age, i.e. twenty-one, in April 1351 (Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1347-52, pp. 455-6).  John was Edmund of Woodstock's posthumous child, as Edmund had been beheaded for treason in Winchester on 19 March 1330: see my articles about his plot to free his half-brother Edward of Caernarfon in the sidebar here, in my article in the English Historical Review and in my book Edward II: The Unconventional King.  John, earl of Kent, died on 27 December 1352, aged twenty-two; 'he died on the night of St John [the Evangelist]'s day in Christmas week last' and 'he died on the night after St Stephen last', says his Inquisition Post Mortem. John left a widow, Elisabeth of Jülich, who was the niece of Queen Philippa, being the daughter of Philippa's younger sister Joan of Hainault and William V, duke of Jülich in the Rhineland. The couple had no children.

John's heir to the earldom of Kent, and also to the lands of their childless maternal uncle Thomas, Lord Wake, was his sister Joan 'the Fair Maid of Kent', by far the most famous of Edmund of Woodstock and Margaret Wake's children and the only one who outlived John.  Joan, of course, married Edward III's eldest son Edward of Woodstock and was the mother of Richard II, and caused a great scandal in her early life by being married to two men at once, William Montacute, earl of Salisbury and Sir Thomas Holland.

The date of birth of Joan of Kent, princess of Wales and countess of Kent, is almost invariably, in pretty well every book and article I've ever seen on the subject, given as 29 September 1328.  I've been looking today at her brother John's Inquisition Post Mortem, taken between December 1352 and February 1353 (Cal Inq Post Mortem 1352-60, pp. 41-57).  Jurors in the numerous counties where John had held lands gave Joan's age in December 1352 as between 22 and 26, which would place her date of birth somewhere between 1326 and 1330.  This is entirely typical of IPMs, where the stated ages of the heirs of tenants-in-chief can vary by as much as ten years.  We're talking about jurors who may never even have seen Joan, giving their best guess as to how old she was - probably they had some vague idea when Edmund of Woodstock and Margaret Wake had married, and a rather better idea of when Edmund had been executed, and took a stab at an age somewhere between those dates.  Two counties, however, give Joan an exact date of birth.  The jurors of Nottinghamshire stated on 14 February 1353 that she was '25 years and more at St Michael last', that is, she turned 25 on 29 September 1352, which would make her date of birth 29 September 1327 (eight days after the alleged death of her uncle Edward II), and the jurors of Leicestershire said on 19 January 1353 that Joan was '26 years and more at St Michael last', which would make her date of birth 29 September 1326, five days after the invasion force of Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer landed in Suffolk.  Given the date of Joan's parents' wedding, it is impossible that she was 'more' than 26 years old in 1352.  Her mother Margaret Wake, incidentally, died on Joan's birthday in 1349.

Edmund of Woodstock and Margaret Wake had two other children.  Their elder son Edmund was named as Earl Edmund's heir both by the parliament of November 1330 which pardoned the earl for the 'treason' he had committed in trying to free a supposedly dead man a few months previously, and in various entries in the chancery rolls in 1331.  Edmund died as a child sometime shortly before 13 October 1331 (Cal Fine Rolls 1327-37, pp. 277, 279), and his younger brother John (b. April 1330) became heir to the earldom of Kent.  It makes me so sad to think of these little children dying.  :-(

There was also another daughter, Margaret, of whom little is known except that she was betrothed to the Gascon lord Arnaud-Amanieu d'Albret in 1340.  He was much her junior, born in August 1338, and later became great chamberlain of France.  He eventually married Marguerite de Bourbon, one of the many, many grandchildren of Charles of Valois and thus a first cousin of Queen Philippa and a first cousin once removed of Margaret of Kent herself.  We know that Margaret of Kent must have died sometime before her brother John died in December 1352, or she would have been his co-heiress with their sister Joan.  We know that she can't have had any children alive in 1352, as otherwise they would have been John's co-heirs with their aunt, Joan.  The fate of this obscure aunt of Richard II, however, is unknown.  (And oddly enough, little Aymer Comyn mentioned above, who died in infancy in 1316 as far as I remember, was Richard II's uncle, older half-brother of Richard's mother Joan.  Richard wasn't even born until 1367.)

Edmund of Woodstock and Margaret Wake thus had four children together in their marriage of four years and three months.  Except that John was the youngest, the birth order of the children is uncertain.  The earliest that any of them could have been born is September 1326, nine months after Edmund and Margaret's wedding of c. mid-December 1325, and their second youngest cannot have been born any later than May or June 1329, as John was born in early April 1330 and must have been conceived in about July 1329, and Margaret would have been 'off-limits' to her husband for thirty or forty days after birthing her second last child.  Joan of Kent, from the evidence of John's IPM, was born either on 29 September 1326 or 29 September 1327.  If the former, she must have been Edmund of Woodstock and Margaret Wake's eldest child and conceived very soon after their wedding.  It is possible that some of the children were twins - their aunt, Edward II's sister Elizabeth, countess of Hereford, had twins William and Edward, so they may have run in the family - though I'm just speculating.  Joan and Margaret?  Joan and Edmund?  Margaret and Edmund?  Margaret and John?

The April 1351 proof of age of John, earl of Kent, offers another piece of evidence.  John was baptised on the day of his birth, 7 April 1330, in the church of St Bartholomew in Arundel.  James de Byne, one of the dozen jurors who gave testimony in 1351 as to John's date of birth, stated that "Edmund son of the said Edmund [of Woodstock, earl of Kent], and Brother John de Grenstede, prior of the order of Friars Preacher of Arundel, and Joan, sister of the said Edmund son of Edmund, lifted the said John from the sacred font on 7 April, 4 Edward III...".  So both Joan of Kent and her brother Edmund were considered old enough and big enough and responsible enough to lift their newborn brother out of the font, albeit with an adult helping.  Their sister, Margaret, however, was not.  Does this indicate that Margaret was the younger sister and not considered old enough for this task?  Neither Joan nor Edmund could have been older than three and a half at the time, but it doesn't seem very likely that Joan was only eighteen months old, as she would have been if she'd been born in September 1328 as everyone who writes about her always, always, always states.  (Where does that date come from?  Did someone perhaps once see John's IPM and mess up the maths and think that age 25 or 26 subtracted from 1352 equalled a date of birth in 1328, and everyone else has just copied it ever since without checking?  Or is there some other evidence somewhere I'm missing?)

One last point.  Joan of Kent secretly married her first husband Sir Thomas Holland in 1340, and later also married her fiancé William Montacute, son and heir of the earl of Salisbury and later earl of Salisbury himself, too afraid to admit what she had done.  Joan is usually stated to have been only twelve when she married Holland, who was many years her senior, born in around 1314 and thus about twenty-six in 1340.  According to the information of her brother Earl John's IPM, however, Joan must actually have been thirteen or fourteen at the time of her secret wedding, which is at least slightly less alarming by our modern standards.  It also means that when she gave birth to her youngest child Richard II on 6 January 1367, Joan was likely forty years old.  I do think the evidence indicates that she was rather older than is always assumed and stated nowadays.

07 November, 2014

Alice Fitzalan née de Warenne, Countess of Arundel

Alice was the sister of John de Warenne, earl of Surrey and Sussex (d. 1347) and the wife of Edmund Fitzalan, earl of Arundel, executed (or judicially murdered) by his cousin Roger Mortimer in 1326.  Here's what I know about her, and sadly, it isn't terribly much.

Alice and her brother John were the children of William de Warenne and Joan de Vere.  William, born in 1256, was the only son and heir of John de Warenne, earl of Surrey (1231-1304) and was killed jousting in December 1286.  Joan de Vere (d. 1293) was the daughter of Robert de Vere, earl of Oxford (d. 1296), whose mother Hawise de Quincy was the daughter of Saer de Quincy, earl of Winchester.  Alice de Warenne's paternal aunt Isabella married John Balliol, king of Scotland from 1292 to 1296, and was the mother of Balliol's heir Edward, Alice's first cousin.  Her first cousins also included Henry, Lord Percy (d. 1314), one of the men who besieged Piers Gaveston in Scarborough Castle in May 1312, and John de Vere, earl of Oxford (d. 1359).  She was a great-great-granddaughter of William Marshal, earl of Pembroke (d. 1219) via William's eldest daughter Maud and her second husband William de Warenne, earl of Surrey.

Alice's brother John was born on 30 June 1286, and their father William died on 15 December 1286.  Alice was born exactly six months later, on 15 June 1287.  She lost her mother Joan de Vere when she was six, though her grandfather the earl of Oxford lived until 1296 and her other grandfather the earl of Surrey until 1304, when he was succeeded as earl by Alice's brother John.  In early 1302, Richard Fitzalan, the earl of Arundel, died, leaving as his heir his eldest son Edmund, not yet seventeen.  Edward I granted Edmund's marriage to Alice's grandfather the earl of Surrey, and sometime before late September 1304 (when he died) Surrey offered Edmund to Alice in marriage.  Edmund rejected her.  (Patent Rolls 1301-07, p. 308). Oh dear, poor Alice.  Edmund, however, changed his mind, and he and Alice married in May 1306, according to the chronicler Piers Langtoft, around the same time as Alice's brother the new earl of Surrey married Edward I's granddaughter Joan of Bar, and Hugh Despenser the Younger married Joan's cousin Eleanor de Clare.  Edmund had just turned twenty-one at the time (born 1 May 1285) and Alice was almost nineteen.  They were third cousins once removed via common descent from William Marshal.  The couple had seven (or more) children together; I hope this indicates that their relationship worked out well in the end, after such an inauspicious start.  At least Edmund didn't make strenuous efforts to have his marriage annulled, as Alice's brother John did.

Edmund and Alice's eldest son Richard, Edmund's successor as earl of Arundel and also heir to his uncle John de Warenne of Surrey, was probably born in 1313 or the beginning of 1314; he was said to be seven when he married Hugh Despenser the Younger's daughter Isabel in Edward II's presence in February 1321.  Richard was known as Copped Hat, and was one of the richest, or indeed the richest, men in England in the entire fourteenth century.  He had his marriage to Isabel Despenser annulled in 1344 and married secondly Eleanor of Lancaster, and treated his and Isabel's son Edmund appallingly, even going so far as to describe him as 'that certain Edmund who calls himself my son'.  Although this incredibly wealthy man left bequests in his 1375 will to his children with Eleanor of Lancaster, their grandchildren and some of his nieces and nephews, he didn't leave so much as a penny to Edmund or Edmund's three daughters.  I have to admit that I really dislike Earl Richard.  Edmund (the elder, died 1326) and Alice de Warenne appear to have had two younger sons as well, Edmund and Michael, about whom I know absolutely nothing.

Alice de Warenne and Edmund Fitzalan also had several daughters. In 1325, their daughter Alice married Edward II's nephew John de Bohun (born 1305), future earl of Hereford, the eldest son of Edward's sister Elizabeth and Earl Humphrey, killed at the battle of Boroughbridge in March 1322. Alice Fitzalan and John de Bohun were third cousins via common descent from Isabel of Angouleme, queen of King John, and Pope John XXII granted them a dispensation in November 1324 (Papal Letters 1305-41, p. 242).  Edward II pardoned the earl of Arundel 1000 marks of the 2000 marks the earl owed him for the marriage in December 1325 (Patent Rolls 1324-7, p. 281; Memoranda Rolls Michaelmas 1326-Michaelmas 1327, p. 32).  Alice de Bohun née Fitzalan, countess of Hereford, died childless at an uncertain date, probably in the late 1320s, before 1330 or thereabouts when John married his second wife Margaret Basset (this marriage was also childless).

Other daughters of Edmund and Alice were Eleanor, Aline and Mary.  It's tricky to try to work out their birth order or when they were born, though the two younger daughters at least seem to have been born late in their father's life, given the ages of their husbands and children.  Eleanor was presumably the eldest or second eldest daughter after Alice, as she married as her second husband Gerard, Lord Lisle, who was born in the early 1300s, and had her son Warin in about 1330.  Warin, the grandson of Edmund Fitzalan and Alice de Warenne, had one child Margaret, born around 1360, who married Thomas Lord Berkeley (1353-1417, grandson of Hugh Despenser the Younger and great-grandson of Roger Mortimer, first earl of March).  Eleanor Fitzalan Lisle died in or before 1347.  The next daughter of Edmund and Alice was probably Aline, who married Roger Lestrange of Knockyn, who was born in 1327.  Aline and Roger's son John was born in 1362, and they also had a daughter Lucy, who married William Lord Willoughby de Eresby, who was born in about 1370.  Edmund and Alice's fourth daughter Mary married John Lestrange of Blackmere, who was born in 1332, so must have been some years Mary's junior (even if Mary was Edmund's posthumous child she can't have been born later than the summer of 1327).  Mary died in 1396 and had two children: a son John born in about 1353 and a daughter Ankaret, born in 1361, who was the mother of John Talbot, first earl of Shrewsbury and of Richard Talbot, archbishop of Dublin.

Edmund Fitzalan, earl of Arundel, died a horrible, slow, painful and bloody death in Hereford on 17 November 1326, beheaded with at least seventeen and perhaps twenty-two strokes of an axe by a 'worthless wretch'.  He was given no trial and was accused of no crime, and presumably a blunt blade had been ordered to increase his suffering as much as possible.  At some point in late 1326, Countess Alice's brother John de Warenne, earl of Surrey, who had been a staunch ally of Edward II for most of his reign, made his peace with Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer, perhaps on hearing news of the hideous death of his brother-in-law Edmund.  When and how this happened is unknown, but for Alice - however she might have felt about it - at least it meant that she had someone on the 'winning' side looking out for her.  This was important as Edmund was later condemned for treason by parliament and all his lands and goods were forfeit to the Crown.  Queen Isabella helped herself to the possessions Edmund had stored at Chichester Cathedral, including £524 in cash (Patent Rolls 1324-7, p. 339).  In March and April 1327, arrangements were made to provide Alice with an income for the sustenance of herself and her children (Patent Rolls 1327-30, pp. 42, 312; Close Rolls 1327-30, pp. 68, 80, 148 etc).  This may have included her young daughter-in-law Isabel Despenser; Isabel's father Hugh the Younger and grandfather the earl of Winchester were dead, and her mother Eleanor de Clare and eldest brother Hugh were in prison and in no position to help her.

Alice, countess of Arundel, died sometime before 23 May 1338, leaving at least five or six children (she had outlived her daughter Alice) and several grandchildren.  Her grandson Richard, earl of Arundel (b. c. 1346) would be executed by Richard II in 1397, and another, Thomas, became archbishop of Canterbury.  She was also the great-grandmother of an archbishop of Dublin.  The modern-day Fitzalan-Howard family, dukes of Norfolk and earls of Arundel and Surrey, are Alice and Edmund's descendants.

29 October, 2014

The Unconventional King Blog Tour

I'm going on a blog tour this week to promote Edward II: The Unconventional King!  I'll update this list with links when each guest post appears.

28 October: A general introduction to Edward II, his reign and his ancestry at Christy K. Robinson's Rooting for Ancestors blog.

29 October: A post about Edward II and his children at Medievalists.net.

30 October: Edward and the Despensers at Susan Higginbotham's blog.

31 October: An interview with Gareth Russell on his blog.  (And thanks to Gareth for the great book review!)

1 November: Edward II and Piers Gaveston at Anerje's Piers blog.

2 November: Edward II and his household at Annette's Impressions in Ink.

3 November: Edward II and his rustic pursuits at Becky's The Medieval World.

4 November: An interview and book giveaway with Olga at Nerdalicious.

5 November: Edward's twelfth-century ancestry at Kasia's Henry the Young King blog.

Happy reading!  :-)