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!

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.