17 December, 2009

Merry Christmas 1309, I Mean 2009

This is my last blog post for three weeks or so, as I'm off on a lovely long Christmas holiday (yay!) and will be offline for ages.

Here's a nice Edward II Christmas fact I found in one of his chamber accounts lately: on 26 December 1322, the king paid two women a shilling each for singing for him in the garden of the Franciscan friary in York. Unfortunately, what the women sang was not recorded. In the same journal, I found another entry which I thought was sweet - on 4 February 1323, Edward's chamber staff had to pay four pence for a key to open "coffers of money" to replace one "which the king himself lost" (qe le roi mesmes perdist). Just as well they hadn't invented cars back then, or Edward would have forever been losing his car keys. It was the king's habit to play dice every Christmas night, and he usually spent five pounds, though one year - I can't find the ref at the moment, but it was early in his reign - he spent eighty pounds, a staggeringly large sum. Probably Piers Gaveston being a bad influence. :)

Edward spent Christmas and New Year 1325/26, his last as a free man - though of course he couldn't have known it - in Suffolk, and sent a New Year gift of a palfrey with saddle and other equipment to his niece Eleanor (de Clare) Despenser, then at Sheen. He also gave a pound to Eleanor's messenger, who had brought him letters from her. On 30 December 1325, Edward gave four pounds to one Percival Symeon, who brought him the news that Charles de Valois, brother of Philip IV and thus Queen Isabella's uncle, was dead. His chamber clerk who wrote the entry spelt 'Bury St Edmunds' as Burgh de Seint Esmon. The knight Richard Lovel received a whopping forty marks on 26 December that year for "what he did in the king's bedchamber when the king went to bed," and on 14 January 1326, Edward gave two pounds to the Carmelite friar Richard Bliton, Hugh Despenser the Younger's confessor (confessour mons' Hugh le Despens' le fuitz) "for what he did in the park of South Elmham when the king went to eat in the said park." Honestly, would it have killed Edward's clerks to record exactly what it was that these men (and the many others who appear in the chamber accounts for the same reason) did? And why was Edward sitting and eating in a park in January, and sitting in a garden in December 1322? Did he not feel the cold? Then again, this is the man who spent a month in the autumn of 1315, when by all accounts it rained pretty well non-stop, swimming and rowing on various rivers in the Fens. A very hardy outdoor type, evidently.

20 December marks the 682nd anniversary of Edward II's funeral in Gloucester in 1327 - or rather, the lavish funeral of a body being passed off as the former king's...

And, very early because I won't be around on 1 January, here are Edward II's New Year resolutions, courtesy of the New Year Resolution Generator.

In 1310, I will:

Stop petting the earl of Lancaster
Avoid shouting "by God's soul!" at flamboyant Dominicans
Remember to say "Piers Gaveston is wicked cool" whenever I lick
Call my Scarborough Castle at least ten thousand times in ten years
Ask Isabella to glisten with me
Learn to burnish lasciviously
Try to joust an adorable hedgehog every three minutes
Quit hiccuping with magnates
Travel to Westminster Abbey in order to kiss a horse
Be sparklier to my stud-farm
Tell the archbishop of Canterbury to paint a hedge

Have a great Christmas and New Year, and see you in 2010!


Carla said...

Have a very happy Christmas, and best wishes for the New Year! Enjoy your lovely long holiday.

"Honestly, would it have killed Edward's clerks to record exactly what it was that these men (and the many others who appear in the chamber accounts for the same reason) did?" Maybe they were sparing the king's blushes? Looking at those New Year Resolutions one can imagine they might have needed to :-)

Susan Higginbotham said...

But Lancaster is just so damn petable! Have a great Christmas and New Year's!

Jules Frusher said...

Obviously Ed was a rugged type. For some reason then the Lumberjack Song came to mind lol! Too much coffee this morning obviously! I wonder why it was Hugh's confessor who was responsible for the park outing and not some other chamber personnel?

Thanks, I really can't get the image of Edward jousting adorable hedgehogs out of my mind now - or the archbishop of Canterbury painting a hedge!

Anyway, have a lovely break in Ulverston with the folks - and a great Christmas and New Year! xx

Clement Glen said...

Have a great Christmas Alianore, and thanks for bringing the life and times of Edward II back in such a vibrant and interesting way.

Look forward to the posts of 2010

Gabriele Campbell said...

Merry Christmas and happy holidays.

Maybe it was a warm winter. I've been wearing sandals far into November this year. Shocked quite some people. :)

Petting Lancaster will only get you in trouble, so good idea to stop that. :P

Anerje said...

Merry Christmas Alianore! Enjoy your break! One thing you can say about Ed, he was very generous - yes, I know that was part of his downfall, but I'm being positive! I can't imagine anyone wanting to pet Lancaster!

Kate Plantagenet said...

Merry Christmas to you too. What a great post. My mind is leaping to conclusions as to what the knight was doing in Edwards bedchamber. Ha! And his name was Lovel. heheheh

Hope the weather is nice!

Will miss your posts, but you totally deserve a holiday

Kathryn Warner said...

Thank you, all, for the very kind Christmas wishes (and the great comments, which I would respond to properly if it wasn't 6.30am and I have to go and catch a flight shortly), and the same to you!

Rowan said...

A lovely Christmas to you :-)

Satima Flavell said...

Happy Holidays, Alianore. See you (well, virtually)next year!

Anonymous said...

Do you think Ed II purposly liked to drive some people a little nuts? :) thanks for your blogs, your friendship & answering some questions for me! Look forward to reading more posts in the new year!

Kathryn Warner said...

Thank you, Ashmodai, Satima amd Karen!

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