Dedicated to my blog buddy Anerje, who is, with me and Edward II, Piers Gaveston's Greatest Fan Ever. :-)
1) On 7 September 1310, Edward II pardoned Piers and six of his retainers for the death of one Thomas de Walkyngham of Yorkshire. What that was about - an unprovoked attack? Self-defence? An accident? - I have no idea. Piers was also pardoned "for all other felonies and trespasses with which he has been charged." What these were, and who charged Piers, I don't know either, as this was a year before the Ordainers ordered him to be banished from England for the third time. ("We, the Lords Ordainer, charge you, Piers Gaveston, with having a vicious tongue, a supercilious manner and an over-developed dress sense.") (This is a joke, by the way. Not a fact.)
2) An anonymous letter of 4 April 1311 said "A secret illness troubles him [Piers] much, compelling him to take short journeys." On 26 April 1312, Edward paid two men - physician William de Burntoft and Brother Robert de Bermingham - ten marks each for looking after him during another illness.
3) Piers' birthday might have been 18 July, as Edward II kept his anniversary on this date and on 19 June, the day of his death. The year of his birth is not known, but was sometime between 1281 and 1283. In my opinion, 1282 is the likeliest date, which would mean that Piers was a month short of his 30th birthday when he was killed, and twenty-one months older than Edward.
4) Piers went on campaign to Scotland with Edward in August 1310, and stayed at Roxburgh with his wife Margaret (Edward and Isabella were at Berwick) for the next few months. In January and February 1311, he paid £464 for provisions for his household, including 12,000 stockfish at £7 10s per 1000, 1000 cod, 12 'lasts' of red herring at £5 per last, 30 casks of wine at £5 6s and 8p per cask, and 12 casks of flour.
5) John of Canterbury, chaplain of John of Brittany, earl of Richmond, claimed in 1309 that Piers loved Richmond "beyond measure." He also said that Piers and Richmond called each other 'father' and 'son' in their correspondence. Richmond, grandson of Henry III and Edward II's first cousin, was born in 1266 and was therefore about 16 years older than Piers. In the only letter between the two men which survives, Piers addressed Richmond conventionally as 'very dear cousin' (trescher cosin).
6) In or about 1305, Piers and his elder brother Arnaud-Guillaume de Marsan* petitioned Edward I, asking - among other things - that four Gascon castles be taken into the king's hand and that the testament of their mother 'the lady de Marsan' might be carried out. Claramonde had died shortly before 4 February 1287 - and was certainly not burned as a witch, as some novels and older works of non-fiction say. The petition spells their names 'Arnaud Guilhem de Marsan and Perrot de Gavastun'.
* Piers' full brother, but used their mother's name.
7) Piers' name, in his own lifetime, was spelt Peres, Pieres or Pieris, and he was known by the pet name 'Perrot'. His last name was spelt Gavaston, Gavastun, Gavastone, Gavastoun, Gavastoune, Gaveieston, even Kavaston, Causton, etc, but never 'Gaveston'. The family took its name from the village of Gabaston in Béarn, near Pau in the modern Pyrénées-Atlantiques département, in the foothills of the Pyrenees.
8) One of Piers' sisters was with him in Scarborough Castle when he was besieged there, 10 to 19 May 1312. What became of her isn't recorded (that I know of).
9) On 17 August 1307, Piers, just returned from exile and the brand-new earl of Cornwall, gave a banquet for Edward II at Sanquhar in south-west Scotland. Edward gave a pound each to the Welsh trumpeters Yevan and Ythel who performed for them. Piers also entertained Edward at Knaresborough Castle from 9 to 12 September that year.
10) During his 1307 exile, Piers went to Edward's county of Ponthieu in northern France, rather than Gascony as ordered by Edward I. Edward (of Caernarfon) had been expecting to visit Ponthieu - in the end, he didn't - and plenty of food had been laid in there against his arrival. Piers received 13 swans and 22 herons from the supplies.
11) When Piers was exiled for the second time in June 1308, Edward II granted lands worth £2000 annually to him and his wife Margaret in England, and another £2000 of lands to Piers alone in his homeland of Gascony. They included the island of Oléron, the city of Bayonne and the county of Gauré, near Toulouse and nowadays in the Haute-Garonne département. In later years, Edward appointed Piers' kinsman Arnaud Caillau - they were probably first cousins - as keeper of Oléron.
12) Edward II's demands for prayers for Piers' soul could prove onerous. In the spring of 1317, Edward asked Tupholme Abbey in Lincolnshire to take in his servant Robert de Crouland on his retirement, and the abbey replied "Although they would gladly obey him in all things, their very small income is already heavily burdened with the charge of finding a chaplain to say mass for the soul of Sir Pieres de Gavaston, formerly earl of Cornwall." They begged Edward to understand and forgive their "trespasses." Evidently Edward did, and sent Robert to Reading Abbey instead.
13) When Piers was killed in 1312, he was carrying:
- a great ruby, set in gold, worth £1000
- 3 large rubies in rings, an emerald and a diamond "of great value," all in an enamelled silver box
- 2 peridots, 1 in silver and 1 in gold
- a chalcedony, which Piers had put in his purse
- 1 large 'vessel'
- 1 small 'vessel', and "and from the small vessel a key hangs down, on a sterling cord."
Among the possessions of Edward II and Piers Gaveston seized by the earl of Lancaster in May 1312 were included "other diverse garments with the arms of the said Sir Piers, with the shoulders decorated and embroidered with pearls" and "a pair of gold-plated silver basins, with escutcheons with the arms of the said Sir Piers on them."
14) The Gascon sheriff of Edinburgh and constable of Linlithgow, Piers Lubaud, was a cousin of Piers, according to the Vita Edwardi Secundi. Shortly before Christmas 1312, Edward II sent Lubaud's wife Nichola a palfrey horse worth six pounds and a saddle "with a lion of pearls, and covered with purple cloth" worth five pounds. (Whatever a 'lion of pearls' is.)
15) Edward and Piers spent less time together after Edward's accession than you might think. From late June 1308 to late June 1309, Piers was in exile in Ireland. From August 1310 to August 1311, the men were on campaign in southern Scotland, living in castles 30 miles apart, though Piers did visit Edward (and Isabella) on occasion. Edward went south to parliament in August 1311, when the Ordainers forced him to banish Piers, and the men can't have seen each other for more than a few days before Piers departed the country. Even when they were both in England, they weren't always together: Edward didn't attend Piers' great jousting tournament at Wallingford in early December 1307, for example (he was at Kings Langley). They were together at Christmas 1309, at Langley, when the Vita says they spent the time "making up for former absence by their long wished-for sessions of daily and intimate conversation," and most probably at Christmas 1307, though at Westminster, not Wye in Kent, as stated by the Pauline annalist. Although several chronicles say they spent Christmas 1311 together after Piers' return from his third exile, this is almost certainly incorrect.
16) The Lanercost chronicler says that when the earl of Lancaster swore homage to Edward II in February 1311 for the lands he had just inherited from his father-in-law the earl of Lincoln, he "would neither kiss him [Piers], nor even salute him, whereat Piers was offended beyond measure." Piers' biographer Jeffrey Hamilton has pointed out that it is highly unlikely that Piers was even present when Lancaster met Edward, but hey, it's a great story. :-)
17) The Brut called Piers "the cursed Gascon," the Pauline annalist called him "an evil male sorcerer" and said that Edward did Piers great reverence and worshipped him as though his friend were a god, and the Vita also said that Piers "was accounted a sorcerer." These statements may be the origin of the much later invention that Piers' mother was burned as a witch.
18) Edward referred to his friend in speech as "my brother Piers" and addressed him in writing as "our dear and faithful brother" (nostre cher frere et foial) - exactly the same way as he addressed his real brothers Thomas and Edmund and his brother-in-law the earl of Hereford.
19) Not about Piers as such, but this amused me: in the Oxfordshire town of Deddington, where Piers was captured by the earl of Warwick in June 1312, there's a road called Gaveston Gardens. (I want to move there, right now. Though as houses are currently selling for half a million quid upwards, maybe not.) There are also Gaveston Roads in the towns of Didcot, Leamington Spa, Slough, Leatherhead and Coventry, and Gaveston Closes in Warwick and Byfleet.
1) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1307-1313, p. 277.
2) Calendar of Documents Relating to Scotland 1307-1357, p. 40; J. S. Hamilton, Piers Gaveston, earl of Cornwall 1307-1312, p. 95.
3) Wardrobe Accounts bundle 376, no. 7, folio 5.
4) Cal Docs Scotland, p. 39.
5) Pierre Chaplais, Piers Gaveston: Edward II's Adoptive Brother, pp. 56, 67, 123. (dominus Petrus de C. ultra modem diligit dominum suum Johannem antedictum et in litteris suis vocat eum patrem et ipse econverso filium).
6) The National Archives SC 8/291/14546.
7) Too many sources to mention.
8) Vita Edwardi Secundi, ed. N. Denholm-Young, p. 24.
9) Richard Rastall, 'Secular Musicians in Late Medieval England' (PhD thesis, Univ. of Manchester, 1968), vol. 2, p. 57.
10) Hilda Johnstone, Edward of Carnarvon 1284-1307, p. 124.
11) Cal Pat Rolls 1307-1313, pp. 74, 78-79; Calendar of Close Rolls 1318-1323, p. 466 (Caillau).
12) TNA SC 8/197/9804.
13) Hamilton, Gaveston, pp. 122- 125; Foedera, II, i, pp. 202-204.
14) Cal Docs Scotland, pp. 58-9; Vita, p. 48.
15) Vita, p. 8; Hamilton, Gaveston, p. 93, that Edward and Piers were apart at Christmas 1311. It is apparent from numerous sources that Edward was not at Wallingford in early December 1307, or at Wye that Christmas.
16) Chronicle of Lanercost, p. 192; Hamilton, Gaveston, p. 159.
17) The Brut, ed. F. W. D. Brie, p. 222; Annales Paulini, ed. W. Stubbs, pp. 259, 262; Vita, p. 15.
18) Lanercost, p.184; Annales Paulini, pp. 259, 273; Vita, pp. 7, 17, 28, 104; other chroniclers say much the same thing.