05 March, 2006

Edward II's illegitimate son Adam

Having commented in my last post that Edward II was emotionally reliant on men, I thought I should emphasise that he must have had relationships with women too - at least one, in addition to Queen Isabella. Edward fathered an illegitimate son called Adam, as well as his four legitimate children by Isabella, who were definitely his, insofar as anyone's paternity can be certain. As there is still a load of crap online that Edward III was fathered by Edward I/Roger Mortimer/the milkman/ any other man in England alive at that time, I'm going to repeat this at the top of my voice:

EDWARD II WAS THE FATHER OF EDWARD III.

Got it? Please, pretty please, can people get this into their heads and stop writing sub-'Braveheart' crap as though it's fact?

Anyway, back to Adam. He's mentioned in a wardrobe account of 1322 and described as "Ade filio domini Regis bastardo": "Adam, bastard son of our lord the king". He was provided with equipment for the Scottish campaign of that year, but was accompanied by his tutor Hugh Chastilloun, which suggests he was somewhere between the ages of 13 and 16. He was probably serving his father as page or squire. After this, he disappears from the records and is assumed to have died during the campaign. His birth must have been between about 1306 and 1310, and it's tempting to speculate that Edward fathered him during one of the periods that Piers Gaveston was exiled from England - either 1307 or 1308-1309 - although there's no way of knowing for sure.

The identity of Adam's mother is unknown. However, in my view, she must have been more to Edward than a one-night-stand. Given that Edward openly acknowledged the boy, he must have been certain that he was the father, which he hardly could have been if he hadn't known the mother reasonably well. However, to my almost certain knowledge, nothing has yet been found in the records pointing to the existence of a mistress. It's rather mysterious. Maybe the mother was someone who lived on Edward's favourite estates of Langley or Clarendon.

Adam and Piers Gaveston's natural daughter Amie (see other post for information on her) both appear as characters in Susan Higginbotham's novel The Traitor's Wife.

26 comments:

Susan Higginbotham said...

Thanks for the mention!

Mary Saaler in her biography of Edward II suggests that Edward I might have ordered Prince Edward to father a bastard to prove that he could function with women and produce heirs. Makes for a rather cumbersome pickup line, I would think.

Prince_Lieven said...

Haha, that it does Susan! Apart from anything else, Adam's existence proves that Edward was at least bisexual and not the (to be frank) camp queen of popular legend.

Gabriele C. said...

Lol, still better than some of the stuff I've heard. ;-)

Seems every historical subject has its pet peeves of misuse. For me, it's the nice, harmless Celts living in harmony with nature that are conquered by those mean, greedy, militaristic Romans.

Susan Higginbotham said...

I haven't read widely enough to encounter the nice-harmless-Celts line, I'm afraid. Was this sort of what was going on in the recent King Arthur movie?

Gabriele C. said...

Lol, don't get me started on that one. No, the Picts (aka Woads in the movie, don't know why they changed that) were the baddies, except Guinevere who was a good Pict, or something. But the Saxons were the bad ones, too, and suddenly the Picts became the sort of good ones - the whole thing is a mess.

I mean books like the ones by Manda Scott and Marion Zimmer Bradley. Though Mists of Avalon is at least an interesting take on the legends, and it's not her fault she started a fashion. I also read a non fiction book idealizing the Celts somewhat: Elizabeth Sutherland's In Search of the Picts, albeit it's not the entire book, only some sentences that are overly enthusiastic.

Picts, Dál Riatan 'Scots', and Roman Britain are subject of two of my novels-in-progress. No Celtic priestess there. *grin*

Alianore said...

Have you heard about Edward II and the nude dancers? When visiting France in 1313, he paid a man called Bernard the Fool to dance naked before him on the first anniversary of Gaveston's death, then on another day had 54 naked women dance before him?? Ahh, the privileges of being king.....:)

Prince_Lieven said...

Tsk, scandal! ;)

Carla said...

Manda Scott is the current leading proponent of the nice harmless romantic underdog Celts in fiction, but it's very widespread in both fiction and 'non-fiction'. It's a sort of misty-eyed idealisation of an imagined 'Celtic' past, all mixed up with New Age 'spiritual' ideas, feminism, green politics and romanticised bits and pieces of other cultures. The 'Celts' are supposed to have been a matriarchal people profoundly in tune with their environment and with the spirit world, who were cruelly oppressed by the male-dominated women-suppressing crude philistinic militaristic Romans (see fiction about Boudica and Vercingetorix). When the Romans went away this was repeated by the crude barbarian militaristic male-dominated women-suppressing Anglo-Saxons (see fiction about King Arthur), and then by the crude male-dominated militaristic women-suppressing Normans and Plantagenets (see fiction about Edward I's wars with Wales and Scotland).....and so on. It can get a little repetitive :-)

My guess is that it may be a reaction to the classics-centred history popular in 19th/early 20th-C British schools, when textbooks taught that the 'Celtic' Britons were primitive savages until the Roman invasion, and then went back to being primitive savages until the Norman invasion. This view is patently silly, and it's possible it may have inspired a counter-view that's now also got to an equally silly extreme.

Perhaps a little like the way that Richard III was demonised and then suddenly a counter-view developed that made him a perfect hero and demonised everyone else instead.

I've wandered off-topic here - sorry Alianore! But maybe a similar counter-view will suddenly make Edward II a hero?

Alianore said...

No problem, Carla - what you wrote is fascinating. I don't read a lot about the Celts, but I've read enough to understand what you mean! It seems to be true, unfortunately, that perspectives on history swing wildly from one extreme to the other. Richard III is a good example, and perhaps Isabella too (Edward II's queen) - for centuries she was called 'the She-Wolf' and demonised for her adultery, but in the last few years she's been reclaimed as a kind of icon of female empowerment.

I really hope that Edward II will be a hero one day! Oh please! But then again, not to the silly extent that Richard III often is these days, when novelists portray his opponents as rapists and paedophiles to make Richard's actions against them justified. Whatever happened to shades of grey?!

Susan Higginbotham said...

Manda Scott sounds like a must to avoid. When I hear the words "matriarchal people," I've learned to run the other way!

I think the tide will turn toward shades of gray, at least with Richard III, if only because you can do only so much with a saint. Meredith Whitford wrote a novel about him a couple of years ago, Treason, in which Richard himself was pretty much perfect (and sexy to boot), but at least the other people in the novel weren't all black or white. Progress!

Gabriele C. said...

Susan,

Manda has a lot of shamanistic dreaming in her books, too - not exactly Celtic. I admit I've only read the teaser chapters on her website, but I don't want to read more.

She has quite some success with her books, and that's nice to hear about a fellow writer, but I'm so not her target audience.

Carla said...

Considering the replies to my impromptu survey on Irene Goodman's article, I wonder if any of us are the target audience :-(

Susan, if you haven't already read it, Sarah Cuthbertson wrote a review of the Manda Scott Boudica novels on her blog It'll give you a fairly accurate idea of what you're (not) missing :-)
I'm curious now as to what novels prompted you to include mystical females who have visions in your list of HF dislikes? The natural habitat of mystical visionary females seems to be Arthuriana and/or 'Celtic' fiction, so if you haven't read much of that, where have you come across them?

Susan Higginbotham said...

The last one I ran across was Jane Guill's Nectar from a Stone, set in 14th-century Wales. It's a time and place I'm interested in, but the visionary element turned me off, so I never read the book. It can't be worse, though, than a book I copy-edited once where a major character was said to have visions and was shunned because of it, but never was actually shown having one by the author!

I can't blame my aversion to the supernatural on any particular novel--it's really just a personal prejudice.

Carla said...

Thanks for the reply, Susan - I'd wondered if you'd encountered a surfeit of the stuff somewhere (it's largely put me off Arthuriana, for example).

Alianore said...

Any more comments on Edward II???

Gabriele C. said...

Lol, sorry, we hijacked your thread quite a bit. ;-)

I'll open my History forum later tonight, then we can take those meandering threads there.

Susan Higginbotham said...

(Back in the topic saddle) :)

Per the question about Amie's name on the other entry, was Adam that common a name in the early 1300's? The only one I can think of was Adam Orleton.

Alianore said...

Maybe Adam Orleton's sister or niece was the mother of Edward's illegitimate son, and that's why Orleton hated the king!? Seriously, I can't think of any other Adams in this period either.

Carla said...

Alianore, Sharon Penman uses just that plotline in Here Be Dragons. Joanna is the illegitimate daughter of King John, and her mother's brothers hate John so much for seducing their sister that they refuse to take Joanna into their household.

Alianore said...

I must get round to reading more Penman. So far I've only read 'Sunne in Splendour' and wasn't very impressed (though I may be in a minority, there).

Susan Higginbotham said...

I'd say Penman's later novels are better than Splendour. I enjoy re-reading parts of Splendour, and I think it's far superior to the other recent Ricardian novels I've read, but she gets a little heavy-handed at times in her pro-Richard partisanship.

It'd be interesting to see what she would make of Edward II! (If her novel about Stephen and Matilda is any indication, I suspect she'd fall into the pro-Isabella camp.)

Prince_Lieven said...

I loved her novel about Stephen and Matilda! I didn't think it was especially sympathetic to either of them. Oops, sorry Alianore, off topic!

Alianore said...

I hope Penman in her later novels gave up her (to me) incredibly irritating method of writing dialogue: 'the lads be dead' and 'I did know it' etc used constantly as the past tense. it jolted me right out of 'Splendour' I'm afraid. On-topic :) - maybe she could go against her natural inclinations and be the person who turns Edward II into a hero!

Laura said...

So glad to hear someone else mention Penman's penchant for having her characters speak "forsoothly"! Her books are good enough otherwise that I can forgive her the occasional "for certes"--but I still wish she wouldn't do it.

MRats said...

A wonderful introduction to Adam, Kathryn--even though while reading the comments I needed to scroll back to the top in order to recall the original subject. ;-)

Perhaps Penman will, indeed, write about Edward one day. I've read "The Reckoning" where his father plays a major role.

But back to Adam! I first learned about him on a visit to the university library years ago. It took me by surprise, as I'd never read so much as a hint of his existence before. But, once recovered, I immediately pondered over the boy's name. It occurred to me that "Adam" might have been a Biblical reference. Instead of the usual, "Hugh begat Hugh, and Hugh begat Hugh, and Hugh begat Hugh" (deep breath) "and Edward begat Edward, and Edward begat Edward and Edward begat Edward", perhaps it came from a different inspiration. Could it be that Edward and his unknown mistress named the child Adam after the first man, because he was Edward's first son?

That was my initial impression. Unfortunately, it wouldn't provide any leads as to who gave birth to him. But at least it was a conscious thought on my part. It did not come on the brink of sleep as did the image of the woman I mentioned in my secret e-mail, who even I can't realistically believe to be his mother. ;-)

A romantic idea, though, isn't it?

Kathryn Warner said...

It's a lovely idea! I've often wondered where the name Adam came from, if one Adam's mother's relatives bore the name, or if his godfather was called Adam.