01 July, 2008


Some great news - a new novel on Edward II and Piers Gaveston, The Ruling Passion by David Pownall, is coming out very soon. The blurb says "England, 1303: When Edward, prince of Wales, met Piers Gaveston, it was the start of a passionate and defiant relationship that was to bring England to the brink of civil war." Yay! There can never be enough books on Edward and Piers, in my opinion. I'm dying to read this one.

A book I strongly recommend is Leslie Carroll's Royal Affairs, which was published a few weeks ago. It's a look at English royal adultery down the centuries, beginning with the Angevins and ending with Prince Charles and Camilla - the kind of book you can either read cover to cover, or dip in and out of. Royal Affairs is one of those rare history books that manages to be both impeccably researched and historically accurate, and wildly entertaining. I loved it.

Another good book I've read recently is D. J. Birmingham's The Queen's Tale, published by Xlibris, which tells the story of John de Bermingham, earl of Louth, in Edward II's reign. A very well-written and interesting novel, which helpfully includes genealogical tables, and portrays Edward II rather sympathetically. I don't want to give the story away, but let's just say that the author doesn't follow the traditional narrative of Edward's death...Definitely recommended.

I read another novel recently, which shall remain nameless, wherein Edward II is not the biological father of Edward III. This, unfortunately, led to a book-wall interface. That's at least six novels/films now that claim Edward was not his son's father, and I AM SICK TO DEATH OF IT. In this one, Isabella conceives her son while she and Edward are apart for months on end. Are we supposed to believe that people in the fourteenth century were so ignorant they wouldn't have noticed? And if anyone else is thinking of including this incredibly unlikely scenario in a novel, can they please read this post first?

Candidates for for the father of Edward III, born 13 November 1312:

- William Wallace, in that Hollywood film, you know the one I mean, executed 23 August 1305.

- Edward I, died 7 July 1307, from this page, where it's stated "most historians DO believe it was Edward Longshanks that fathered the child, and not Edward II." Yes, because they had the technology to freeze sperm 700 years ago.

- Roger Mortimer, in a 1982 novel, and the self-published novel mentioned above: this would be pretty miraculous, as he was in Ireland when Edward III was conceived. And also in the page linked above, "At the time of Edward III's birth, she [Isabella] was pretty much exclusive with Roger Mortimer." Funny, I didn't know Isabella and Mortimer were American teenagers. The problem is, this kind of uninformed and ignorant crap stays online forever, and goodness knows how many people read it and believe it.

- an unnamed Scotsman, in a 2006 novel, when Isabella was abandoned in Scotland by her husband: Isabella was nowhere near Scotland when she became pregnant.

And finally, on a lighter note, here are some recent blog searches:

causes of elibeth 1s reighn

knights templar arrested 1307 o'clock Philip IV checked his watch and said "Right lads, it's just after 1pm. Time to go get 'em."

last bishop strangled entrails tyrant

queen isabella and her gay.. Gay what?

Did queen isabella have an affair will william wallece Again!!!

letter from a wife to husband blaming him to be impartial to his own relatives a

king john's penis entrails Eeeewwww!!

Meet your 27th cousin, once removed, - Edward William Fitzalan-Howard, current and 18th Duke of Norfolk.

after a few minutes he died suffocating to death

facts on edwand from life with derek

Which Princess was sent by her father to live in the castle of the Marcher Lords?


Gabriele C. said...

Ok, the only possible candidate missing from that list would be Piers Gaveston.

Come on, he only hung around with Edward because he was madly in love with Isabella, and one night, when Ed sighed that he had to go about his marital duties again, Piers offered to go in his stead and sneaked into Isa's bed in the dark and she had teh best sex evah.

Alianore said...

In fact, the novel I read does have Isabella convincing Edward that Piers is the father of her child - the only way she can get him to claim paternity! And yeah, she does tell Ed that Piers is Teh Best Lover Evah, but she's lying, and it's Roger Mortimer who fathers the kid.

At least Piers was in the same place at the same time when Ed and Isa conceived Ed III, unlike the numerous other men claimed as Ed III's father...

Anerje said...

Brilliant news Alianore - anew Piers/Ed novel! I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!!!

And yes, of course Piers is the father of Ed III. Piers is utterly irresistable! No-one could turn him down! Even Roger Mortimer pursued him :)

(yes, I am joking in case anyone things I'm serious!)

Alianore said...

Great news, isn't it, Anerje? I've pre-ordered it - now I just have to count the days till it arrives!

Lady D. said...

They look like some interesting books - look forward to the reviews.

And yes, of COURSE Piers was the father of Ed III - just look at those tourneying skills! And yes, Anerje, everyone wanted the man - he was soooo hot! He was only executed because he rejected Warwick and Lancasters advances, dont you know! ;-)

( And YES, I am joking too, in case anyone thinks some new research has been uncovered!)

Alianore said...

*Grins widely*

Susan Higginbotham said...

How come Google Alerts didn't alert me to this post?

Somewhere, someone's probably writing a novel where either Lancaster, Hugh Despenser the elder, or Hugh Despenser the younger is the father of Edward III. Or worse, maybe all three are possibilities, and Isabella can't figure out which one.

Brian said...

Fiction, drama, and even more, the cinema, can be powerful distorters of history. So many people look no further, even when they write blogs, or new works of fiction.

I think one of the problems with people doubting Edward III's paternity is that a lot of folk, for some unimaginable reason, don't think that gay blokes can father children. Given that we have had compulsory sex education in schools for years now, the level of ignorance on issues like this is amazing.

Gabriele C. said...

Susan, blogger feeds seem to have screwed up the last days. My blog feed to LifeJournal didn't get through, either.

Alianore said...

Susan: Google blog search seems to have missed this post too, for some reason.

I bet we'll see a novel where Lancaster is Ed III's real father before too long, given how many novelists have missed the fact that he was Isabella's uncle and depict him as being in love with her.

Brian: how very true. I find it interesting that the very first time anyone postulated that Ed II was not the father of Ed III was in 1982, a full 670 years after he was born. This says far more about modern attitudes to sexuality (that everyone is completely straight or completely gay, that gay men can't father children) than it does about medieval realities.

Lady D. said...

Of course! Lancaster! The befouler of gentle wenches! Blimey at this rate we'll need to get them on Jeremy Kyle or Jerry Springer for a DNA test lol!

Gabriele C. said...

And if it was Lancaster, Ed could have the paramour executed, divorce Isa and sent her into a nunnery, and live with Piers happily ever after.

Anerje said...

LOL at the Jeremy Kyle show - they'd all be sitting there, willing to take a lie detector test as well, I'm sure, and then Jeremy Kyle would appear with the envelop, there'd be a commerciasl break, and then the suspense would be over! But would there be a fight????

And of course, in today's England, Ed and Piers would be able to get married.

Anerje said...

Alianore - good point about the paternity of Edward III not being an issue until 1982. There was no scandal or gossip in Ed II's reign -the only gossip was that he himself was a changling.

RE attitudes to sexuality - Isabella is often given great sympathy and pitied because she married a king who was homosexual - but what about Ed? He too was forced to marry to produce an heir - shouldn't he receive sympathy for being forced to live a lifestyle that wasn't what he wanted? IMO, they both made the best of it, knew what their duty was, and provided 'the heir and a spare'.

Alianore said...

Lady D: now there's a thought for a future blog post! Reminds me of the posts Susan wrote a while ago, with Ed and Isa appearing on a chat show.

Gabriele: yay, a happy ending! ;)

Anerje: given Ed II's temper, I like to think of him thumping Lancaster unconscious in front of a whooping audience. ;)

You're absolutely right about the lack of contemporary gossip regarding the paternity of Ed III - and there was none either in his own reign, when his enemies in France and elsewhere would have been delighted to be able to throw that particular slur at him.

I find it surprising that even nowadays, few people seem to give much thought to how difficult it must have been for Ed to marry a woman and try to build a life with her, against his nature. I could say rather a lot about that, but this comment is getting a bit too long already...

Susan A said...

Maybe they did have different ideas abou gestation periods. How long did the Countess of Gloucestor pretend to be pregnant?
Which novel had Piers as the father?

Gabriele C. said...

Susan, one I made up. :)

Susan said...

Rats. I was going to search for it on Amazon. Now you'll have to write it.

Alianore said...

Susan: years, but as soon as 10 or 12 months had passed since her husband's death, various chroniclers made sarcastic comments about her 'pregnancy'. Ed II pretended to believe in her phantom pregnancy to keep the vast de Clare revenues in his hands as long as possible. Obviously no-one believed in it. Anyway, regardless of what 14c people believed about gestation periods, Ed II was certainly the father of Ed III, and authors who write that he and Isa weren't together at the time of conception haven't done their research.

Christy K. Robinson said...

I have a couple more entries for books, which you may have posted in the past but I haven't yet discovered in your site.
1. World Without End, by Ken Follett (mentions Isabella as queen, but I'm at pg 289 and she's definitely NOT a character.)
2. Letter from Poitou, by Michael Eardley (story begins 1303, characters are d'Audley and deClavering). Haven't read this yet, as I'm still working through 5 other books and trying to survive publishing deadlines, a new kitten, and peach-canning season.

WHAT??? Men do it with each other and can't sire babies? What about that transgender person with whiskers who just gave birth in Oregon? That was a 46-year-old woman with a 26-year-old "husband" with original XX factory parts on the inside.

Alianore said...

Christy: I STILL haven't got round to reading World Without End. Keep meaning to, and never do it! I have Letter From Poitou and have read quite a bit of it, but not all the way through (yet).

Carole said...

Alianore: World Without End is really good - you get very caught up with the characters and you forget that you originally started reading it to find out what is at the bottom of the mystery... You'll like what the answer turns out to be though!

Alianore said...

Thanks, Carole! I've heard good things about it, and given that it talks about Ed II, it's a bit weird that I haven't read it yet. I have some idea of what happens re: the Ed situation...;)