14 January, 2007

Five Funny Facts About Edward II

Gabriele did this meme recently, and I thought it would be fun to write about Edward II! So, here's five funny things you (probably) didn't know about the poor maligned sweetie....

[By the way, Edward II is currently in joint lead in my 'favourite medieval king of England' poll, on the left - eight people have voted for him, excluding me. Yay for you all!!]

- Edward kept a pet lion, which accompanied him on his travels around the country in a cart, tied to a silver chain. Edward's lion-keeper was Adam of Lichfield. He also kept a camel in the stables of his manor of Langley.

- On Easter Monday every year, the ladies and damsels of Queen Isabella 'caught' him in bed in the morning, and dragged him out. One assumes he didn't sleep naked that night... :) He then had to pay them a 'ransom' to be released. (He inherited this sweet tradition from his parents)

- He had a great sense of humour, not something you often associate with medieval kings! His 1305 letter to the count of Evreux, half-brother of Philip IV, shows his dry, ironic humour and wit: [some historians write of this as a 'curious' letter, missing the point that it's obviously intended to be humorous]

"We send you a big trotting palfrey which can hardly carry its own weight, and some of our bandy-legged harriers from Wales, who can well catch a hare if they find it asleep, and some of our running dogs which go at a gentle pace - for well we know that you take delight in lazy dogs. And, dear cousin, if you want anything else from our land of Wales, we can send you plenty of wild lads, if you wish, who will well know how to teach breeding to the young heirs and heiresses of great lords."

Edward also had a strongly developed taste for the slapstick; he paid his court painter Jack of St Albans fifty shillings for dancing on the table, which "made him laugh beyond measure", and another time paid a servant twenty shillings for frequently falling off his horse in an amusing manner! [I was pleased to see that these episodes are mentioned on comedian Richard Herring's website: How wonderful that such a moment gets recorded in history. And also that a man arsing around gets paid a huge amount of cash for his troubles. I imagine there was a lot of blokes changing their arm (or leg) and jumping up on tables and doing funny dances after that.... Good on him and his crazy dance. I wonder how it went.
Another bloke was given twenty shillings by the king for often falling off his horse and again causing the slapstick loving king merriment. He may have had a rubbish sense of humour, but he was happy to pay top dollar, long before "You've Been Framed" was even in the planning stages
.]

- Edward and Isabella's 1313 trip to visit her father Philip IV in France was pretty eventful. Edward actually saved Isabella's life at one point, when the silken pavilion where they were sleeping caught fire. Edward scooped Isabella up and rushed outside, despite the fact that they were both naked. Another day, they were late for their audience with King Philip because they'd overslept. And on 19 June 1313 - the first anniversary of Piers Gaveston's death - the twenty-nine-year-old king paid Bernard the Fool and fifty-four others to dance naked for him....

- When Edward fled to Wales in October 1326, he took lots of his possessions with him, loaded onto carts (which must have slowed down the fleeing considerably, surely?) These included a "red retiring robe rayed with threads of saffron, decorated with bears" and a "black cap lined with red velvet, decorated with butterflies and white pearls". I think that's so sweet...Edward wearing a robe covered with bears! I can't help picturing them as teddy bears.

23 comments:

Deirdre said...

Thanks for posting those facts, Alianore! Had Edward II been alive today, I'm guessing he would have been a big fan of the Three Stooges.

Alianore said...

LOL, Deirdre! And Laurel and Hardy too, maybe! And he'd have enjoyed watching Tom and Jerry, no doubt...:) If you follow the link to Richard Herring's website, he mentions that Henry VII "mysteriously, paid half a mark to a friend for eating some coal." I love this comment:


"Some would say this was an abuse of being the most powerful and richest man in the country. "Want some money? Then eat this bit of coal." But not only is there no point in being a king if you can't make people eat fossil fuels (and at least Henry paid up on the bet. He could have just ordered the friend to do it for nothing), but it's also a terrific joke. Humour is usually expunged from history, but it is only through humour that we get to know someone. So we now know Edward II was a bit of a tw*t who liked people falling off horses and doing dances (and thus deserved a poker up the Marber for his troubles) and that Henry VII was a bit surreal and crazy and probably quite bored." :-)

Susan Higginbotham said...

Or maybe Benny Hill.

Gabriele C. said...

Lol, at least Edward II was a human being, something you can't say about everyone during his time. Loved that letter, and of course, it's poking fun at Wales. We have Redneck jokes today (or Ostfrisian jokes and whatever it's in Britain). :)

I wonder if Isabella had any sense of humour.

Alianore said...

It's still Wales, really, Gabriele. ;) About Isabella: somehow I see her as totally humourless. The younger Despenser seems to have had a sense of humour, though; the bit of the letter I quote by him in the sidebar was obviously meant as a joke (albeit a rather self-glorifying one!)

Susan: do you think Ed II would have appreciated the semi-naked ladies...? :)

Deirdre said...

Interesting that Henry VII paid someone money to eat coal, since he was known to be very miserly.

Liam said...

He certainly was. So he'd pay a man to eat coal while his wife Elizabeth of York reputedly wore 'tin buckles' because he wouldn't buy her silver ones. Someone needs to sort out his priorities!

Alianore said...

What a meanie! At least Edward II was generous to Isabella (and himself, and his favourites, but still. :)

Carla said...

Given that Prince Charles is a big fan of the Goons, I'm wondering if there's something in the genes :-)

(By the way, this is a good idea! I got tagged for the same meme and can't think of five interesting facts about me, so maybe I'll do it for someone interesting from history instead.)

Gabriele C. said...

Hehe, I should have done that, too. It would have been much easier to find some funny facts about Charlemagne or some other historical person.

Alianore said...

But then we wouldn't have learned about your liking for snails, Gabriele! :) Though Charlemagne would have been interesting.

Looking forward to it, Carla!

Daphne said...

I've read a couple of books about Edward, Isabella and crew and found these facts very interesting and entertaining.

Alianore said...

It's a really fascinating period, Daphne, isn't it? Enjoying your blog too, by the way!

Anonymous said...

Dear Alianore. I am doing some research into a Catalan book of recipes "based on the experiences of a good cook for the King of England in the employ of one Father Philip (Pera Ffalip), a functionary (servicial) of said Lord King in the year M CCC XXIIII." Are you familiar with any "Father Philip" in England at the time? I am not a blogger. Can you reply to octaviodeflores@earthlink.net?

Monica said...

so why did Edward ll died??

apassionforhistory said...

Oh dear, these facts are certainly fun and interesting! :D I'm sure Edward would have fit quite nicely into this period if only for his sense of humor and irony and that he would have probably enjoyed some of our fun media and activities today ;)
Actually, about some of the other commenter's comments about the 'miserly' Henry VII and that he was not very generous to his wife Elizabeth making her wear tin buckles, he certainly wasn't all like that! That's another misconception that needs to disappear as it is greatly exaggerated, in part perhaps by Henry's detractors and by people who wish to exaggerate the 'victimizing' of Elizabeth. For an informative and in-depth post exposing the exaggeration of this thing read these posts:
http://nerdalicious.com.au/history/elizabeth-of-york-and-her-kings-henry-vii
http://harritudur.tumblr.com/post/79879326163/jonsknown-annareginae-read-more-read
Also, if you feel like you're up to the job, would you please read these articles full of numerous inaccuracies and basic prejudices and unfair slandering of Edward II and pick apart their 'arguments' (even though you've prolly already done this a million times before and quite tired of having to argue against such prejudiced claims):
http://britannia.com/history/biographies/isabella_france.html
http://scandalouswoman.blogspot.com/2012/07/isabella-of-france-she-wolf-of-england.html
http://www.badassoftheweek.com/isabella.html

Kathryn Warner said...

Ugh, yes, I absolutely loathe those articles. Atrocious. Especially that 'bad ass' one, which may well be the worst, most wildly inaccurate historical text masquerading as a 'joke' ever written.

apassionforhistory said...

Totally goes to show how much research they did using credible, sufficient, and concrete evidence about Edward II and Isabella if they keep repeating such old and outdated myths and negatively exaggerating things that weren't half as bad as they made it look in their articles *shakes head*
Especially the 'badass of the week' article -- they used so many expletives in describing Isabella and how she was that I'm sure they could be given an award for that and their 'facts' are so atrocious now that I know most of them to be false as I've learned from you and your blog, so I guess I really have to thank you for that because otherwise I might be fooled and misled too! While I do think that Isabella, like all other human beings, had both plenty of good and bad traits, and she was strong, intelligent, courageous, and badass in her own way who took the chance for her more or less complete agency when she saw it and fought for what she believed in, I hate it when people make Isabella sound like some empowered awesome feminist/proto-feminist with ideas and values straight out of the modern era and 21st century whose more appalling deeds are either blamed on the people around her or they are justified instead of simply trying to understand the reasons and motives behind the actions but not necessarily condoning them.
And why, oh why, after around 6 or 7 centuries and with us now living in the 'more enlightened' era do people still portray Edward II and his favorites/companions, esp. Piers Gaveston and Hugh le Despenser, as mean unnatural horny gay people who neglected/abused Isabella and other people who weren't themselves??? Like have you guys never heard of depicting historical figures in a more sympathetic light but still morally ambiguous? >_<

Edward Sumarokov said...

I think if Edward II was born in some principality of medieval Russia as a prince (Knyaz) he would be a happy ruler, adored by folk. And he could find someone like Gaveston and live with him without judgement - Ivan the Terrible (it is not correct translation of word Grozny) had a male lover, and nobody did mind.

Chris Klein said...

"We send you a big trotting palfrey which can hardly carry its own weight..." This guy needed Twitter...imagine the Facebook posts...and he was doing "Punk'd" 700 years before Ashton Kutcher, hilarious.

I must say, Kathyrn, I've spent a lot of years reading about this time in history north of the Scottish border and took for granted many of the myths I've read about Ed II. Your site has quickly enlightened me and made me very eager for your book to come out.

I've also been very fortunate that my previous jobs have allowed me to travel the world, and I have spent considerable time in England and been fortunate to have visited many wonderful places. I only wish I had known more of the time of Ed II as I probably walked past places I'd love to see now. But, the wife has always wanted to see London, so we'll plan on traveling in the next few years...I just hope I don't drive her too crazy with the history, I love it, she appreciates it but I think tolerates it more as she knows how much I love it.

Any plans to offer signed copies through your website?

Kathryn Warner said...

Thank you, Chris! So glad you've found the site and enjoying it.

A few people have asked me about signed copies, so I must do something about nearer the time. I'm sure we can figure something out ;)

Sumarocov said...

Edward II was a medieval dandy)

Mr Cupid said...

Overthrowing and murdering HIM? That would have been similar to killing Tweety from Looney Tunes!!!