28 February, 2009

Names and Stuff

Something of a hotch-potch of a post today: a rant about the crapness of many things on the internet, names and spellings.

Spotted on the web recently: a forum where someone was asking whether William Wallace was the real father of Edward III. Now there's a thoroughly-discredited piece of nonsense that still rears its ugly head fourteen years or whatever it is after Braveheart. Another forum member pointed out confidently (and correctly, of course) that this was completely impossible, but asserted that the likeliest father of Edward III was...Edward I. Yes, that's Edward I who died in July 1307 and Edward III who was born in November 1312. Evidently this belief arose on the grounds that Edward III resembled his grandfather far more than his father. I suppose on that basis, Edward the Black Prince and Henry V can't possibly have fathered Richard II and Henry VI respectively - to give two examples of great warriors who had sons with no military ability whatsoever.

The misinformation that finds its way onto the net is astonishing. I posted a while ago about an article that has Edward II's wife Isabella as a rebel on the lam in Scotland pursued by Edward III, brilliantly managing to confuse the queen of England with Isabel MacDuff, countess of Buchan. And I saw a blog post a while ago which talked about Queen Isabella's family and background in France, her marriage to Edward II and their children - then suddenly started saying that "Isabella's policies within Castile set the pattern of Spanish policy at home." It's not often you see Isabella of France confused with her great-great-great-granddaughter Isabella the Catholic.

There was also a recent blog post about the red-hot poker murder - presented as certain fact, naturally - which calls Edward "the little fella." Yes, that's Edward II, the man described by fourteenth-century chroniclers as "one of the strongest men of his realm," "tall and strong, a fine figure of a handsome man" and "a handsome man, of outstanding strength." Whatever else he was, I think we can state with some confidence that he wasn't 'little'.

The utter uselessness of some online genealogy sites never fails to amaze me. Recently, I saw "Hugh Audley was born in 1290. Hugh Audley is dead." No kidding? And "William Wallace died in Executed."

I was also thinking about a thread on Plantagenesta a while back, where Mississippienne destroyed the myth that, after King John's disastrous reign, the name John was considered unlucky for kings, and it was 'decreed' that none of them would bear this name again.

She's correct, of course. Edward I called his eldest son, who was born in 1266, John. The boy died at the age of five, but of course Edward couldn't have known that, and had every reason to think that he would be succeeded by King John II. Edward II's second son was John of Eltham; he was heir to the throne between January 1327 and June 1330, when his nephew Edward the Black Prince was born. Had anything happened to Edward III before he and Queen Philippa conceived their son, England would have had its John II.

And if anything had happened to Edward II before he became king or before he and Isabella conceived Edward III, England would have had its first King Thomas - the heir to the throne between July 1307 and November 1312 was his half-brother Thomas of Brotherton, later earl of Norfolk. Edward II's elder brother Alfonso - named after their uncle, the king of Castile - was heir to the throne for just under ten years, from the death of their brother Henry (Edward I's second son) in October 1274 to his own death in August 1284. People in England must have grown used to the idea that one day they would have a King Alfonso. If the boy had lived to succeed his father in July 1307, Alfonso, or Alphonse, would be a common English name. There's a weird thought.

And on the subject of the name Edward itself - the reason this name has been so popular for centuries is because Henry III revered King/St Edward the Confessor. After 1066, Edward, like other Anglo-Saxon names, fell out of use. Henry III, because St Edward the Confessor was his favourite saint, chose the name for his eldest son in 1239. By then, the name probably seemed as outlandish as as if Henry had called his son Ethelred or Wulfstan. From 1272 to 1377, all the kings of England were called Edward, thus ensuring its perennial popularity. Just imagine if Henry III had favoured Saints Sigeberht, Wigbert or Eorpwald instead.

French scribes of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries struggled with the name Edward, and usually wrote it as Edouwart, Edduvart, Eduart or Ewart. Occasionally they spared their blushes by addressing Edward I and Edward II as "the most splendid prince, Ed’, by the grace of God king of England."

Talking about spelling, I've recently been reading Pierre Chaplais' collection of letters written during the 1324/25 war of St-Sardos, between England and France over Gascony. It's fascinating to see the difference between the French used in England at that time and the French used in Gascony, which looks really Spanish or even Portuguese. Edward II was addressed in letters as 'my lord Edward, by the grace of God, king of England, lord of Ireland and duke of Aquitaine'. English scribes wrote this as 'monsire Edward, par la grace de Dieu roi Dengleterre, seigneur Dirlaunde et duc Dacquitaine'. Gascons spelt it 'mi sire Ewart, par la gracia de Diu, rey Danglatora, senhor Dirlanda et duc de Gasconha'. Dublin, written in England as 'Dyvelin', came out as 'Dovelina', the name of Sir (monsire) Robert Wateville as 'mossen Robbert de Watavila', and Sir Ralph Basset's as 'mosen Raou Basset'.

I love this, because it gives me an idea as to what Piers Gaveston must have sounded like. ;) And finally: shortly after Edward II sent Isabella to France to negotiate with her brother Charles IV in March 1325, she sent him a letter informing him of her progress. She called him "my very sweet heart" (mon tresdoutz coer) five times during the letter.

24 February, 2009

(Not So) Brief Biographies (5): William Aune

A post about yet another of those fourteenth-century bad boys. I know, I know, I'm obsessed. This time, the subject is William Aune, sometimes called William Anne or Daune (de Aune), a long-term adherent of Piers Gaveston and Edward II, maintainer of the notorious Coterel criminal gang, and a career extortionist and thief. This is meant to be a 'brief biography', but I've found tons of info on William, so it isn't. Brief, that is.

I know nothing at all about William's family or when he was born or where he came from, except that he had a brother called Walter and a sister who married William le Cook, and was married firstly to a woman named Roesia and secondly to Alice or Anne, daughter and co-heir of Robert Harringwell. [1] (So her married name might have been Anne de Anne!?) The earliest reference I can find to William is in April 1307, when he accompanied Piers Gaveston to Ponthieu during Piers' first exile; William was a member of his household. Prior to their departure at Dover, Edward of Caernarfon gave William a cash gift of two pounds, six shillings and eight pence, and also a black hackney worth forty-six shillings. [2]

I don't know if William accompanied Piers abroad during his two subsequent exiles or stayed in England, but as with many other members of his friend's household, Edward II took care of William following Piers' execution. He appointed him constable of Tickhill Castle and granted him forty marks a year from the issues on 17 July 1312, less than a month after Piers' death. [3] William held this position for the rest of Edward's reign. Edward had already appointed him to the office of the tronage of wools in Boston in February 1312, shortly after Piers' return from his third exile, and at some point also made him bailiff of Gringley and North Wheatley in Nottinghamshire. [4] In or soon before May 1313, Edward sent William to Conisbrough Castle in Yorkshire to fetch his (Edward's niece) Jeanne de Bar, countess of Surrey, to him; Jeanne's marriage with John de Warenne had hit the rocks, and he was openly living with his mistress Maud, with whom he already had a son. Edward said that "diverse persons on account of his [William's] action in that matter strive to disturb and harass him" - the earl of Surrey was annoyed about the removal of his wife, maybe? [5]

In 1314, while he was holding court in Nottinghamshire, William was assaulted by one Simon Beltoft. An inquisition about the attack was held on 4 November 1314, and I'm quoting the findings in full because they're marvellous:

"At the king's court of Wheteley [North Wheatley], held by William de Anne, steward of the honour of Tykehull [Tickhill] on the Monday in Whitsun week in the year aforesaid, Simon de Beltoft and Simon Norman, yeomen of Sir John de Segrave, came with the said Sir John's letter of credence to the said steward; and Simon de Beltoft mocked and threatened the said steward.
When one Ralph Damyot was called upon in court, the said Simon said that he was at the door of the hall, but was not coming in for him more than for any one else.* He then drew his sword in full court and endeavoured to run up and strike him [William Aune], and assaulted him more than once, so that he was in peril of death if it had not been for Hugh le Carter, the steward's yeoman, who came up to help his master, and in his defence struck the said Simon in the throat with his sword.
Thus by the said Simon's assault there first occurred the trespass aforesaid, whereby the king's court was disturbed and destroyed for the day." [6]

* The pronouns here are unclear; does the 'he' refers to Damyot or Beltoft? The 'him' must be William Aune. Beltoft survived the sword in the throat, incidentally, and was still alive in 1334 (his long criminal career makes William look like a saint; in 1321, he tore out a man's eyes and cut out his tongue).

In his position as constable of Tickhill, William Aune acted as Edward II's spy in the north, especially on the comings and goings of the earl of Lancaster and the Marchers who attacked the Despensers' lands in 1321. Edward sent William twenty letters between September 1320 and 11 March 1322 asking him for information and enjoining secrecy on him, though unfortunately William's replies don't survive. [7] Edward appointed William on 10 January 1322 to arrest any Marchers coming through Tickhill, and the earl of Lancaster began besieging the castle on the same day, presumably because William was a staunch ally of Edward. [8]

In May 1322, Edward II knighted William in gratitude for his support during the campaign against the Marchers, promised him an income of fifty pounds a year and granted him the Lincolnshire manor of Lea, forfeited by John de Trehampton, retainer of the recently executed John Mowbray. [9] Trehampton claimed, somewhat implausibly, that he had tried to leave Mowbray and surrender to Edward as soon as he knew that Mowbray was going against the king, but that William, wanting his lands, put spies everywhere to kill him before he could do so, and threatened his friends so they dared not pursue his business. [10] Trehampton got Lea back in Edward III's reign.

William Aune was a Bad Lad. William de Ryggewey of Chesterfield petitioned the king in about 1321/22, claiming that William stole from him "sixteen pieces of lead, each containing three and a half cartloads," and took them to Tickhill for his own use. William's brother-in-law William le Cook of Westside accused him in 1322 of stealing a horse worth two pounds, five pounds in cash, and other possessions worth ten marks from him. The community of Bassetlaw and Strafforth said in c. 1322 that William had exorted over 2000 marks from them "by various prises, oppressions and grievances." [11] Edward II's downfall saw a flood of petitions against William, including that he had misused his office to steal malt and livestock from the parson of Misterton and maliciously indicted the parson, and the commonalties of Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire requested a commission into William's false indictments, imprisonments and extortions. [12]

Because he had been so closely associated with Edward II, William lost his offices within days of Edward's deposition in January 1327. He was replaced in the office of tronage of wools at Boston by John de Fourneux - who may be the man of this name who beheaded the Despensers' adherent John Iweyn in May 1321 - and in early March was described as the "late constable" of Tickhill. [13] He was back in favour with the new regime in early February 1328, however, when he was regranted the Boston tronage of wool and granted the forty marks yearly Edward II had promised him in 1312. [14] In March 1329, William was appointed custodian of the great stronghold of Caerphilly, formerly of Hugh Despenser the Younger, at 100 marks a year, and in July that year was appointed to investigate the disturbances which followed the abduction of Edward II's niece/the younger Despenser's widow Eleanor by William la Zouche a few months earlier. [15]

In 1329-30, William was, with Malcolm Musard of a recent post, one of the men who aided the earl of Kent in his conspiracy to restore Edward II to the throne (not surprising really, given that William had been such a loyal ally of Edward). An order was issued on 10 August 1330 to three justices "not to molest or aggrieve" him for his adherence to Kent, as he "has rendered himself to the king's will" and found two mainpernors to speak for him. One was his fellow Kent conspirator John Pecche and the other Simon Bereford, executed by Edward III as an adherent of Roger Mortimer in December 1330. [16]

William petitioned Edward III at the November 1330 parliament, saying that John de Trehampton had recovered his manor of Lea, and he (William) had been ousted from the custody of Tickhill Castle. He pointed out that "he has always been in the lord king's father's service." Edward III said that he would grant compensation to William so that he could maintain his estate as a knight, and also that it pleased him to give William a great bailiwick to maintain himself until he could ordain something else for William's estate (no hint that William was out of favour with Edward III for trying to free Edward II or for his many crimes, then). Edward appointed William as keeper of the castle and land of Abergavenny in February 1331. [17]

For all his extortion and theft before 1327, however, William achieved his greatest notoriety during the reign of Edward III, and was an associate of the various criminal gangs who ran amok committing murders, robberies, kidnappings, rapes, assaults and downright banditry in the late 1320s and 1330s. William knew James Coterel, leader of the Coterel gang who were, with the Folvilles, the most notorious gang of the era and who were particularly active in the years 1328 to 1332. He maintained James Coterel at Gringley in Nottinghamshire; William's brother Walter took the gang food and money. Coterel and his gang were outlawed on 20 March 1331, but rather than turn them in, William gave them a friendly welcome. William also knew William Uston, a famous counterfeiter who joined the Coterels, and was an associate of Roger Savage, another important gang member (Savage referred to the gang as la compagnie sauvage, the Savage Company). William was able lend Savage 1000 marks in 1328 - an astonishing sum considering his income officially never topped £100 a year, and indirect proof that the numerous accusations against him were true. In February 1333, William was, rather astonishingly, acquitted of aiding Roger Savage. His ally William Uston was condemned to be hanged for assault in September 1332, a sentence never carried out. [18]

William Aune was commissioned to survey royal castles in Wales in July 1334, was compensated for the loss of Lea in October 1335 with £100 a year, and was still active in September 1337, when he was appointed to raise ships for an expedition to Scotland. [19] Annoyingly, I haven't been able to discover when he died, or if he left any children.


1) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1317-1321, p. 6; J. G. Bellamy, 'The Coterel Gang: an Anatomy of a Band of Fourteenth-century Criminals', English Historical Review, LXXIX (1964), pp. 702, 704.
2) J. S. Hamilton, Piers Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall 1307-1312 (1988), pp. 35, 138.
3) Calendar of Fine Rolls 1307-1319, p. 139; Cal Pat Rolls 1307-1313, p. 480; The National Archives SC 8/30/1498.
4) Cal Pat Rolls 1307-1313, p. 430.
5) Cal Pat Rolls 1313-1317, p. 12.
6) Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous 1308-1348, p. 527; Cal Pat Rolls 1313-1317, p. 327.
7) J. R. Maddicott, Thomas of Lancaster 1307 to 1322: A Study in the Reign of Edward II (1970), pp. 306-307.
8) Cal Pat Rolls 1321-1324, p. 47.
9) Cal Pat Rolls 1321-1324, p. 108.
10) TNA SC 8/145/7206, SC 8/76/3771.
11) TNA SC 8/6/271, SC 8/55/2718, SC 8/265/13207.
12) TNA SC 8/14/699, SC 8/64/3176; Cal Pat Rolls 1327-1330, pp. 84-86.
13) Cal Pat Rolls 1327-1330, pp. 6, 84; for Fourneux, see Cal Pat Rolls 1321-1324, p. 249.
14) Cal Pat Rolls 1327-1330, p. 238; Calendar of Close Rolls 1327-1330, p. 258.
15) Cal Fine Rolls 1327-1337, pp. 122, 134; Cal Pat Rolls 1327-1330, p. 432.
16) Cal Close Rolls 1330-1333, p. 53.
17) TNA SC 8/162/8053; Cal Fine Rolls 1327-1337, pp. 230, 243.
18) Cal Close Rolls 1327-1330, p. 235, for the loan to Savage; Bellamy, 'The Coterel Gang', 702, 710-712, for William's association with the Coterels.
19) Cal Close Rolls 1330-1334, p. 583; Cal Pat Rolls 1334-1338, p. 196; Cal Close Rolls 1333-1337, p. 460; Bellamy, 'The Coterel Gang', 712.

19 February, 2009

Edward II's Books

Here's a list of books owned by Edward II:

- A romance (which meant any kind of fiction, not necessarily a love story) in French, which had belonged to his grandmother Eleanor of Provence and was delivered to him in 1298, when he was fourteen.

- An illuminated biography of Edward the Confessor in French, which cost 58 shillings from William, bookbinder of London, in May 1302.

- A Latin primer, which cost two pounds, made for "the use of the Lord Edward, the king's son" in 1299 by William the bookbinder. (I can't help imagining Edward as a bored, sulky adolescent, forced to sit and listen to droning Latin at Langley and staring out of the window, thinking about all the things he'd rather be doing instead, like repairing a wall or thatching a roof, but OK, that's just me.)

- A book bound in red leather described as De Regimine Regum, On the Ruling of Kings, which might mean Giles of Rome's De Regimine Principum, written c. 1280 for the future Philip IV of France.

- Edward I bought a book for his son in February 1301, maybe to commemorate his becoming prince of Wales, called De Gestis Regum Angliae, The Deeds of the Kings of England.

- In October 1326, Edward gave a manuscript of Tristan and Isolde, the famous story of doomed love, to his favourite Hugh Despenser.

- In November 1315, Edward paid five pounds to one Nicholas Percy for making a book about the life and times of Edward I for him.

In December 1320, he paid William the bookbinder of London - probably the same man who had made the Latin primer and the biography of Edward the Confessor - three shillings and four pence "for binding and newly repairing the book of Domesday, in which is contained the counties of Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk." This manuscript is now known as 'Little Domesday'. Kudos to Edward for helping to preserve an important piece of England's heritage!

Walter Stapeldon, bishop of Exeter and treasurer of England, made an inventory of the Exchequer in 1323. In a coffer painted green and fastened with iron hinges were found the following:

- a booklet written "in a language unknown to the English," which was in fact Welsh and appears to have been a collection of poetry.

- De regula Templariorum, the Rule of the Knights Templar.

- De Vita sancti Patricii, the Life of St Patrick.

- the chronicle of don Rodrigo Jimenez de Rada, archbishop of Toledo, who died in 1247. (Edward II's uncle Sancho became archbishop of Toledo in 1251 at the age of eighteen.) This presumably was Rada's De Rebus Hispaniae.

Stapeldon also found an unfastened plain iron coffer, containing many other documents in Welsh, which his baffled clerk, clueless as to what language it actually was, described as "an idiom very strange to the English." (Totally off-topic here, but English ignorance about Wales in the fourteenth century is nicely illustrated by the statement in the French Chronicle of London and the Anonimalle that Edward II was captured in November 1326 "near Snowdon," i. e. in North Wales. He was taken near Neath, 150 miles away in South Wales.)

In August 1313, Edward ordered the treasurer and the barons of the exchequer to deliver to Friar Philip Baston, who was then to deliver them to Edward at Windsor Park, the following:

"three books of the Institutes with a little volume, four sums of the Decretals, two new Digests with four old Digests, a Forsad, two apparatus of the Decretals of Innocent IV, two lectures upon the new Digest, two books of Decretals, a book of Decretals, two lectures of the Codex, a book of lectures of law, a book called Actor et Reus, a book of autentica of the constitution of the emperor Justinian, an antiphoner with two quires of the dedication of churches, a sum of Tanered, three codices, and one book of diverse lectures of the Codex and other books of the Corpus Juris."

Apparently Edward felt like a bit of light reading! Seriously, he probably gave some of them to Langley Priory, which he had founded in 1308, and certainly gave books on canon and civil law worth ten pounds to his foundation of King's Hall at Cambridge in 1317, most probably including some of the books mentioned here.

- Edward once borrowed two books - the lives of St Thomas Becket and St Anselm - from the library at Canterbury Cathedral, and failed to return them. There was a royal library in the Tower of London, containing at least 340 volumes, which Edward no doubt used on occasion.

When Edward fled from London in the autumn of 1326 after the arrival of his wife's invasion force, he left some items behind in the care of the merchant Simon Swanland (who became mayor of London in 1329 and who was the recipient of William Melton's letter of 1329 or 1330, saying that Edward was still alive). The items included:

- two 'good and fine' Bibles, one covered in red leather and the other in tanned leather.

- this entry is unfortunately damaged: "the sixth book of ...vel, well-glossed, covered with untanned leather." This probably means that the book was written in Latin and glossed into French.

- a missal with a cover of black leather.

Edward probably owned far more books that were never recorded anywhere, or the records haven't survived. Queen Isabella owned a good many books herself, including an encyclopedia, a genealogy of the French royal family, lots of religious works, and the romances The Deeds of Arthur and Percival and Gawain. (Unlike his wife, father and son, Edward II seemed to have had little interest in the exploits of King Arthur.) Isabella bequeathed her book/manuscript collection in 1358 to her two surviving children, Edward III and Joan, queen of Scotland.


- Susan Cavanaugh, 'Royal Books: King John to Richard II', The Library, 5th series, 10 (1988), pp. 305-309.
- Hilda Johnstone, Edward of Carnarvon 1284-1307 (1946), p. 18.
- Ian Mortimer, The Time-Traveller's Guide to Medieval England (2008), pp. 271-272.
- May McKisack, The Fourteenth Century 1307-1399 (1959), p. 2.
- J. Harvey Bloom, 'Simon de Swanland and King Edward II', Notes and Queries, 11th series, 4 (1911), pp. 1-2.
- Michael Prestwich, 'The Court of Edward II', in The Reign of Edward II: New Perspectives, ed. Gwilym Dodd and Anthony Musson (2006), p. 69.
- Calendar of Close Rolls 1313-1318, p. 10.
- Frederick Devon, Issues of the Exchequer: Being A Collection of Payments Made Out of His Majesty’s Revenue from King Henry III to King Henry VI Inclusive (1837), p. 135.
- Constance Bullock-Davies, A Register of Royal and Baronial Domestic Minstrels 1272-1327 (1986), p. 147.

16 February, 2009

Brief Biographies (4): Malcolm Musard

A post about yet another of those fourteenth-century bad boys! Malcolm Musard, aka Malculin, Maculun, Maculmus or Masculm, as his name was often spelt in his own lifetime - 'Malcolm' being a highly unusual name then - was a notorious gang leader who frequently switched sides during Edward II's turbulent reign.

Malcolm came from and owned lands in Worcestershire, was the son of Nicholas (died 1300) and Christina Musard, was married to a woman called Isabella, and was also lord of Saintbury in Gloucestershire. I don't know even his approximate date of birth, but his father was born in about 1240 and his grandfather Ralph Musard in about 1207, and I'd guess Malcolm was born about 1270 or 1275. He had a daughter old enough to be married and to have a manor settled on her in 1315. One of the earliest mentions I've found of him is in 1296, when he was imprisoned for committing trespass in Sherwood Forest - which would prove to be only the first of many incarcerations. [1]

In 1304, Malcolm and his men attacked the rectory of Weston Subedge in Worcestershire, with bows and arrows, having been paid to do so by an aggrieved former rector who had been evicted. [2] A petition of the early 1300s, either from the end of Edward I's reign or sometime during Edward II's, said that Malcolm and his followers "are indicted of many felonies, robberies and homicides" in Worcestershire, but had left the county so that they could not be brought be to justice. [3] In February 1316, Edward II ordered three men to investigate "diverse oppressions and other offences alleged to have been committed in the counties of Worcester and Warwick by Malcolm Musard." [4] He was famous or infamous as a poacher, robber, raider and assaulter, if that's a word, and got on the wrong side of Hugh Despenser the Younger after he attacked two manors belonging to Aline Burnell, Despenser's sister.

Malcolm in fact was a long-term associate of the Despensers - he gave his Gloucestershire manor of La Musardere or Greenhamstead to "his lord" Hugh Despenser the Elder in 1296, and the manors of Martley and 'Sheldeslegh' to him in 1305. [5] He went overseas with Despenser the Elder in 1305, with such well-known Despenser adherents as Ingelram Berenger, John Haudlo, Ralph Gorges and Ralph Camoys. [6] There are plenty of references on the calendared rolls and in the National Archives which indicate that Malcolm was closely associated with Despenser in the late 1290s and early 1300s.

In 1318, however, Malcolm was pardoned as an adherent of Edward II's cousin and enemy Earl Thomas of Lancaster, who loathed Despenser the Elder - although in the same year, he was accused of theft in Wiltshire with, among others, Ingelram Berenger's son John. [7] On 21 May 1321, Malcolm was appointed keeper of Hugh Despenser the Younger's Worcestershire castle of Hanley; the Marchers had just attacked Despenser's castles and manors, and he surrendered all his lands into the king's hands in an attempt to save them from further destruction (it didn't work). [8] In January 1322, Edward II ordered Malcolm to arrest some of the leading Marchers, including the earl of Hereford, Roger Damory and Hugh Audley, and a few weeks later ordered him to raise 500 footmen in Worcestershire during his campaign against them. [9]

For some unknown reason, though, Edward II came to believe that Malcolm had aided or adhered to the Marchers, and sent Richard de Retlyng to arrest him on 12 December 1323. [10] (Unknown to me, that is. I'm sure Edward knew why.) Malcolm was imprisoned in the Tower of London by 19 June 1324, on which date he and seven other men were ordered to appear before the justices of the King's Bench "concerning the causes, indictments, right suspicions and accusations against them." [11] Hugh Despenser the Younger asked for Malcolm's appointment as keeper of the peace in Worcestershire - yes, a notorious criminal was appointed keeper of the peace - to be revoked on the grounds of his 'unsuitability', probably because he had attacked Aline Burnell's manors. [12]

On 6 August 1326, Malcolm, 'to save his life and have his lands again', acknowledged that he owed 100 pounds to Queen Isabella - not Edward - and was pardoned the following day for adherence to the Contrariants, as Edward called the Marchers of 1321/22. He was also pardoned for "outlawry in the county of Worcester...touching a plea of trespass of Aline Burnel." [13]

Given that Edward II had imprisoned Malcolm for well over two years, it would hardly be surprising to find that he threw in his lot with Isabella's invasion force a few weeks later. He didn't. Edward ordered Malcolm on 12 October 1326 to lead 3000 archers and all the men-at-arms in Worcestershire to him, and evidently Malcolm obeyed or at least tried to, as on 20 May 1327 Isabella seized his lands, goods and chattels on the grounds that he had supported Hugh Despenser the Elder against herself and her son. [14]

On 21 November 1327, a commission of oyer et terminer was issued against Malcolm and other men for committing theft at various places in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire; one of the men co-accused with Malcolm was Richard de Burcheston, a member of the Dunheved gang who had temporarily freed Edward II from Berkeley Castle that summer. [15] Given Malcolm's long criminal career, it's quite possible that the thefts were genuine, but also possible that this was an attempt to find and arrest men suspected of freeing Edward from Berkeley. Malcolm was in prison yet again at Winchester by 8 November 1327, when the sheriff of Hampshire was ordered to take him to Worcester "immediately upon sight hereof, at the king's cost." The sheriff of Worcestershire was ordered "to cause him to be kept safely in Worcester castle until further orders." [16]

I don't know when Malcolm was released, but in 1329/30, he became embroiled in the earl of Kent's plot to free his - supposedly dead - half-brother Edward from Corfe Castle. According to the chronicler Adam Murimuth, Malcolm ('Maucelym Musarde') "did travail and take pains" to aid Kent. [17] I haven't found any references to his being imprisoned for the umpteenth time, so presumably he either fled abroad, as a few of Kent's other adherents did, or went into hiding. On 8 December 1330, a few days after Roger Mortimer's execution, Edward III pardoned Malcolm and restored his lands to him. [18]

Malcolm is a fairly important character in Sandra Wilson's romance novel Alice - which features Piers Gaveston, yay, as the hero - though in fact he's really Stephen Dunheved and uses the name Malcolm Musard to disguise his true identity. (Or something - it's a while since I read it.) That's kind of odd, as Stephen and Malcolm were definitely two different people, though for sure they knew each other - Stephen was another of the men who freed Edward in 1327, and also joined Kent in 1330.

Malcolm Musard was dead by 29 March 1332, leaving a son, John, and a daughter Alice, wife of Ralph Dapetot or d'Abitot. [19] John Musard's career ran along much the same lines as his father's. Edward III granted the manor of La Musardere - formely Malcolm's and forfeit to the Crown after the execution of the Despensers - to the dowager countess of Kent, and John was determined to get it back. In July 1338, Edward said that "John, son of Malcolm Musard, and others, reflecting that the king is going beyond the seas, have formed confederacies to work evil while he shall be staying there and have entered the manor with armed power, assaulted her [the countess of Kent's] men and servants, have carried away her goods and now detain the manor from her." [20] The abbot of Evesham in 1344 accused John, with Simon and Walter Musard - presumably his brothers or cousins - of gathering malefactors to harass the abbot and his servants, killing three of them, lying in wait for them, mutilating and 'atrociously wounding' some, stealing his animals and entering his woods with armed men and preventing the abbot and his men carrying wood out of them. [21]

And that's about all I have on the subject of Malcolm Musard, except that if you run a Google search for his name, it brings up, not entirely helpfully, lots of hits for mustard.


1) Calendar of Close Rolls 1288-1296, pp. 473-474.
2) Ian Mortimer, The Time-Traveller's Guide to Medieval England, p. 240; Colin Platt, Medieval England, p. 104.
3) The National Archives SC 8/342/16149.
4) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1313-1317, p. 429.
5) Cal Pat Rolls 1292-1301, p. 536; TNA E 40/927, E 40/928, E 40/4685, E 40/934. E 326/1653 names Malcolm's wife as Isabella; E 40/927 and 8 name Malcolm as the son of Nicholas Musard.
6) Cal Pat Rolls 1301-1307, p. 382.
7) Cal Pat Rolls 1317-1321, pp. 233, 278.
8) Cal Pat Rolls 1317-1321, p. 585.
9) Cal Pat Rolls 1321-1324, pp. 62-63, 78, 97.
10) Cal Pat Rolls 1321-1324, pp. 358, 396.
11) Cal Close Rolls 1323-1327, p. 125.
12) Nigel Saul, 'The Despensers and the Downfall of Edward II', English Historical Review, 99 (1984), p. 16; Cal Pat Rolls 1324-1327, p. 304.
13) Cal Close Rolls 1323-1327, p. 638; Cal Pat Rolls 1324-1327, p. 304.
14) Cal Pat Rolls 1324-1327, p. 326; Calendar of Fine Rolls 1327-1337, p. 43.
15) Cal Pat Rolls 1327-1330, pp. 216-217.
16) Cal Close Rolls 1327-1330, p. 182.
17) Adae Murimuth Continuatio Chronicarum, ed. E. M. Thompson, p. 257.
18) Cal Close Rolls 1330-1333, pp. 76-77.
19) TNA E 156/28/88, E 210/7590; Cal Fine Rolls 1327-1337, p. 308.
20) Cal Pat Rolls 1338-1340, p. 133.
21) TNA SC 8/46/2252; Cal Pat Rolls 1343-1345, pp. 288, 295, 409-411.

14 February, 2009

Edward II's Valentine to Piers Gaveston

Courtesy of the Valentine Generator, via Susan Higginbotham:

To my gorgeous Gascon,
You are the castle of my earl of Cornwall. I want to swoon with you more than any Wallingford in the whole jousting tournament.
The first time we hunted, I felt glowing in my shoulders, and I was so joy that I could barely adore. I knew that we would worship together for whole lives.
Whenever you idolise, it makes me blaze eternally and hug like a flamboyant lance.
I will soar with you wildly until the knight sighs and the passion dies.
Burnished Valentine's Day!
Love, your supercilious beauty
Edward, roi d'Angleterre

Happy Valentine's Day!

10 February, 2009

Nineteen Things You Never Knew About Piers Gaveston

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.

07 February, 2009

Edward II's Return to England, February 1308

Today marks the 701st anniversary of Edward II's return to England after marrying Isabella of France in Boulogne. On 7 February 1308, around three in the afternoon ('the ninth hour'), the king and his bride arrived in Dover, and Isabella got her first look at the country that would be her home for the next half a century.

Edward and Isabella's arrival is mostly famous, or infamous, for Edward's greeting of his friend Piers Gaveston, whom he had - scandalously - left behind as regent. Ignoring everyone else, Edward is said to have "run to Piers among them, giving him kisses and repeated embraces; he was adored with a singular familiarity. Which special familiarity, already known to the magnates, furnished fuel to their jealousy." [1] The fourteenth century was a tactile age when demonstrative greetings were entirely normal, and the king's behaviour doesn't necessarily imply that the men were lovers - it was the fact that Edward singled Piers out for attention that was the problem.

A scene where a horrified/angry/disgusted/shocked Isabella watches her new husband hug and kiss his Gascon friend is practically obligatory in novels featuring Edward II, and in a few works of non-fiction too. But this entry on the Fine Roll makes it clear that Edward and Isabella didn't land ashore together:

"Be it remembered that on Wednesday after the Purification, 1 Edward II, the king, returning from beyond seas, to wit, from Boulogne-sur-Mer, where he took to wife Isabel, daughter of the king of France, touched at Dover in his barge about the ninth hour, Hugh le Despenser [the Elder] and the lord of Castellione in Gascony being in his company, and the queen a little afterward touched there with certain ladies accompanying her." [2]

So whether Isabella even saw Edward hug and kiss Piers is debatable. (Though possibly this became a common enough sight for her over the next few years.) A group of noblemen and women greeted the king and queen on their arrival:

- Edward's sister Elizabeth, countess of Hereford.
- Alicia, dowager countess of Norfolk and sister of the count of Hainault and Holland. Her niece Philippa of Hainault would marry Edward and Isabella's son twenty years later.
- Henry, brother of Thomas, earl of Lancaster, Isabella's uncle and Edward's first cousin.
- Robert Mohaut and Amaury St Amand. Why those two men particularly, I don't know - they seem kind of random.

Evidently, the king and queen arrived later than expected - Piers Gaveston, as regent, had sent out orders to the above on 22 January to be at Dover on the Sunday after the Purification, three days before Edward and Isabella in fact arrived. [3]

The royal couple spent two or three days at Dover, then travelled through Kent towards London. On the way, they spent five days at the palace of Eltham, which Anthony Bek, bishop of Durham and patriarch of Jerusalem, had given to Edward in 1305. Edward granted it to Isabella in 1311. On 21 February, the mayor and aldermen of London rode out to greet the new king and queen, and in great procession, cheered by a crowd of thousands, Edward and Isabella rode through the city to the Tower. London was rather less filthy than usual and the streets had been lavishly decorated, so that the city annalist wrote with pride and enormous exaggeration that it resembled "a new Jerusalem." [4] Edward and Isabella spent three nights at the Tower of London, then moved on to Westminster, where on Sunday 25 February their coronation and the farcical banquet took place.


1) Chronica monasterii S. Albani. Johannis de Trokelowe, et Henrici de Blaneforde, monachorum S. Albani, p. 65.
2) Calendar of Fine Rolls 1307-1319, p. 14.
3) Calendar of Close Rolls 1307-1313, p. 51.
4) Annales Londoniensis, p. 152.