Whoever said political history was dull, eh? It's almost the 694th anniversary of Edward II's eventful parliament at Lincoln, which took place between 27 January and 20 February 1316. The author of the Westminster chronicle Flores Historiarum, who loathed Edward II ("Oh, the insane stupidity of the king of the English!" being fairly typical of how he wrote about him) writes amusingly of Edward's trip to Lincoln in early 1316: he "set off with all speed, he and his silly company of swimmers, for the parliament which he had ridiculously caused to be summoned to Lincoln," misdating Edward's swimming and rowing holiday in the Fens of September/October 1315 to December/January.  Edward and Queen Isabella, who had in fact spent Christmas and most of January together at Clipstone in Nottinghamshire, arrived in Lincoln on 27 January; Isabella, though she may not yet have known it, was a few weeks pregnant with their son John. Parliament sat variously in the chapter house of the cathedral, the house of the Carmelites and the hall of the dean of Lincoln, and the king stayed in the dean's lodgings. In January 1316, England was in the grip of the Great Famine, and Edward announced via his spokesman William Inge (a royal justice who according to one chronicle pronounced the death sentence on Piers Gaveston in June 1312, though given the favour subsequently shown to him by Edward II this is extremely unlikely) on 28 January that he wished proceedings to pass as speedily as possible, to ease the burden placed on the city by the presence of so many people demanding food. Unfortunately, his cousin the earl of Lancaster thwarted the king's wish, arriving in Lincoln on 10 February and finally deigning to attend parliament - which could not begin properly without him - on the 12th, more than two weeks late. To Edward’s great annoyance, parliament appointed Lancaster as his chief counsellor, and the earl thus finally gained an official position in the government he had unofficially dominated since the parliament of September 1314. Parliament requested of the king’s "dear cousin" that "he might be pleased to be chief of his [Edward's] council, in all the great or weighty matters concerning him and his realm," and Lancaster, "for the great love which he bears towards his said lord the king," (ha!) graciously agreed. 
Hugh Despenser the Younger, then in his mid to late twenties, who had been Edward II's nephew-in-law for a decade but had not yet reached the lofty heights of The King's Great Favourite, attacked a baron named John Ros in Lincoln Cathedral - oops - in front of the king - ooops - on a Sunday - oooops. Angry that Ros had tried to arrest Ingelram Berenger, one of his father’s knights - and possibly also already angry with Ros for marrying Margaret Goushill, widow of his brother Philip Despenser, within half a year of Philip's death - Despenser repeatedly punched him in the face until he drew blood, and "inflicted other outrages on him in contempt of the lord king," forcing Ros to draw his sword in self-defence. Despenser claimed after his arrest, with amusing implausibility, that he had merely stretched out his hand to defend himself and accidentally hit Ros in the face with his fist, after Ros "heap[ed] outrageous insults on the same Hugh [and] taunted him with insolent words," and rushed at him with a knife. Despenser was fined a whopping £10,000, which he never paid, and Edward II cancelled the fine a few years later after Despenser had become The King's Great Favourite.
Twenty months had passed since the earl of Gloucester fell at Bannockburn, Despenser was desperate to get his hands on his wife Eleanor's third of her brother's vast inheritance, and once more raised the subject of the dowager countess's supposed pregnancy. He had been claiming for a few months – correctly, of course – that it was impossible for Maud de Burgh to be pregnant by her late husband. Two royal justices, Gilbert Touthby and Geoffrey le Scrope, told Despenser that the Countess Maud "at the due time according to the course of nature, felt a living boy, and that this was well-known in the parts where she lived, and that although the time for the birth of that child, which nature allows to be delayed and obstructed for various reasons, is still delayed, this ought not to prejudice the aforesaid pregnancy." The justices reprimanded Despenser and Eleanor for failing to apply to Chancery for a writ "to have the belly of the aforesaid countess inspected by knights and discreet matrons," and as they had not observed due process, their negligence would redound to their own shame and prejudice. Ah, the legal system at its finest. You couldn't make it up.
Also at the Lincoln parliament, Edward received the unwelcome news that Gloucester’s youngest sister, his niece Elizabeth, had taken a second husband without his permission: Theobald de Verdon, former justiciar of Ireland, seventeen years her senior and the widower of Roger Mortimer’s sister Maud. It is unclear whether Elizabeth consented to the marriage or not; Verdon told Edward that the couple had arranged a betrothal while still in Ireland, and that on 4 February 1316, Elizabeth "came at the command of the said Theobald one league outside the said [Bristol] castle," and they married, though there was a suspicion that he had abducted her. No doubt the mouth-watering prospect of Elizabeth's third of the de Clare inheritance – as soon as Edward and the royal justices stopped pretending that her brother’s widow was pregnant – and her jointure and dower lands in Ireland overrode any considerations of possible imprisonment and the £1000 fine Verdon had to pay Edward for marrying without royal consent. Hugh Despenser must have been furious; the marriage gave Edward II an excuse to keep on delaying the partition of the earl of Gloucester's inheritance (which revenues in the meantime were pouring richly into his own coffers), and it took until late 1317, nearly three and a half years after Gloucester's death, until the lands were finally partitioned among Gloucester's three sisters and their husbands.
In March and April 1315, Edward and his council had attempted to fix the price of various basic foodstuffs, in an attempt to alleviate the misery of his starving subjects. These regulations failed completely and were revoked at the Lincoln parliament, which met the approval of the Bridlington chronicler: "How contrary to reason is an ordinance on prices, when the fruitfulness or sterility of all living things are in the power of God alone, from which it follows that the fertility of the soil and not the will of man must determine the price."  Here are some of the fixed prices of 1315: a "fat sheep" should cost no more than twenty pence if unshorn and fourteen pence if shorn; an ox not fed with corn a maximum of sixteen shillings, or twenty-four shillings if fed with corn and fattened; a live fat cow, twelve shillings; a fat chicken, one and a half pence; twenty-four eggs, one pence. 
Also at the Lincoln parliament, Edward II heard the grim news of Roger Mortimer's defeat at the hands of Robert Bruce's brother Edward in Ireland the previous December and that a rebellion had begun in South Wales - which I'll write a post about soon. One bright spot, at least, appeared on Edward's gloomy horizon: the knowledge that Queen Isabella was expecting another child. On 22 February, the king asked the dean and chapter of the church of St Mary in Lincoln to "celebrate divine service daily for the good estate of the king and Queen Isabella and Edward their first-born son." The reference to ‘their first-born son’ indicates that Edward knew of Isabella’s pregnancy by then. A month later, he gave twenty pounds to John Fleg, horse dealer of London, for a bay horse "to carry the litter of the lady the queen" during her pregnancy, and paid Vannus Ballardi of the Lucca banking firm the Ballardi almost four pounds for pieces of silk and gold tissue, and flame-coloured silk, to make cushions for Isabella's greater comfort while travelling.  (Oh, the poor neglected woman and the grotesque travesty of her marriage!)
1) Flores Historiarum, ed. H. R. Luard, vol. iii, p. 173.
2) The Parliament Rolls of Medieval England, ed. Chris Given-Wilson et al. Anything not otherwise cited in this post comes from PROME.
3) Gesta Edwardi de Carnarvon Auctore Canonico Bridlingtoniensi, in W. Stubbs, Chronicles of the Reigns of Edward I and Edward II, volume 2 (1883), pp. 47-48.
4) Foedera, Conventiones, Litterae et Cujuscunque Acta Publica, vol. II, part i, pp. 263, 266.
5) Cal Pat Rolls 1313-1317, p. 398; 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, p. 131; Thomas Stapleton, 'A Brief Summary of the Wardrobe Accounts of the tenth, eleventh, and fourteenth years of King Edward the Second', Archaeologia, 26 (1836), pp. 342-343.