27 November, 2010

Fourteenth-Century Proofs Of Age, Or, I Know How Old You Are Because I Came Back From Santiago At The Time You Were Born

I was browsing through the Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1307-1327 the other day, and read several entries I found really interesting.  In an era half a millennium before the invention of birth certificates, and two hundred years before baptisms began to be recorded in parish registers, how did people know their correct date of birth?  Here are three proofs of age taken in 1315 which demonstrate how...

1) The proof of age of Sir Thomas de Lovayne, son and heir of Sir Matthew de Lovayne, taken in Suffolk on 10 March 1315.  (Matthew died shortly before 24 May 1302 when Thomas was twelve, leaving a widow, Maud: C. Moor, Knights of Edward I, vol. 3, p. 65.)

"Thomas de Kokefeld, 50 and more, says that the said Thomas de Lovayne was 23 on 11 July 8 Edw. II [i.e. the eighth year of Edward II's reign, 1314], for he was born at Blidiston [Bildeston] on that day 19 Edw. I [1291] and baptised the same day in the church of Chelisworth [Chelsworth].  Thomas de Blakenham his uncle and Thomas le Bret were his godfathers, and one Maud atte Lane his godmother; and this he [Thomas de Kokefeld] knows well because at that time he was (stetit?) with the said Thomas de Blakenham, and came with him to the church.

Giles de Wathisham, 40 and more, says the like and knows it because his mother was in the church and he with her.

Osbert de Aldham, 50 and more, agrees, and knows it because John his son and heir was born in the same year, and was 24 on the feast of the Purification [2 February] last.

Walter de Bokeland, 40 and more, agrees, and knows it because at that time he was kept at home by sickness and one Christiana le Browystere [i.e. Brewster], who was with the said Thomas [de Lovayne]'s mother when he was born, told him of it the next day at his house in Thurlaston.

William de Denardiston, 60 and more, agrees, and knows it because Christiana de la Dale, who was with the said Thomas's mother when he was born, told him of it the next day at Thurlaston.

John le Waleys, 40 and more, agrees, and knows it because his father died in the same year and he received his land.

William de Whatefeld, 40 and more, agrees, and knows it because Robert le Virly of Bildeston purchased a tenement in Elmesete [Elmsett] the same year and time, and told him of the birth.

Walter de Naulton, 50 and more, agrees, and knows it because he came to speak with one of the godparents of the said Thomas and saw him baptised.

Geoffrey le Clerk of Buchenham, 45 and more, agrees, and says that Geoffrey his father was servant of Matthew de Lovayne at Bildiston, when the said Thomas was born, whose mother died immediately after his birth, and the said Geoffrey the father caused her death to be written, and commanded him to keep it.

John Nakeman, 60 and more, agrees, and knows it because the same day and year he came to the manor of Bildiston to speak with the steward, and he followed to Chelisworth and saw the said Thomas baptised."

Sir Thomas de Lovayne was granted his lands on 28 April 1315 (Cal. Close Rolls 1313-1318, p. 172).

2) The proof of age of Robert son and heir of Robert de Hugham, taken in Kent on 'Thursday the morrow of St Barnabas, 8 Edw. II' (12 June 1315).  Robert senior was born in c. 1250 and died on or shortly before 18 April 1301, leaving his widow Alice and his son Robert, then said to be aged either nine or ten: Cal. Inq. Post Mortem 1300-1307, pp. 16-17.

"Roger Hadde, aged 40, says that the said Robert was 22 on the day of St Martin [11 November] last, and was born at Hugham on Monday before that feast, 21 Edw. I [1293], and on the Tuesday following was baptised in the church of St Lawrence there; and this he knows because one John de Bressinge, esquire of the said Robert's father, married Sarra the said Roger's sister, who bore a son Richard in the same year, who is now 22 and more; and he also saw the same Robert baptised by one Simon, vicar of Hugham, and Robert de Baldewyne and Gerard de Herst were his godfathers.

Adam de Mardenne, aged 40, says the same, and knows it because he saw the same Robert at Hugham lying in his cradle; and in the same year he journeyed to St Edmunds [words missing] there for half a year, and at that time Joan his wife died.

Robert Hadde, aged 50, says the same, and knows it because he married Alice his wife in the same year, and had a son born two years after who is 20.

Philip de Boycote, aged 46, agrees, adding that he had a daughter Emma with Sarra his wife, who is now 22 and more, and thus he knows of the age of the said Robert.

Walter ate Welle, aged 42, says as above, and knows it because he was esquire to the said Robert's father at the time of his birth, and Robert Baldewyne and Gerard de Herst were godfathers, and Sir Simon, vicar of Hugham, baptised him.

Adam de H[], aged 44, says that the said Robert is 22, and he knows it because in the year of the said Robert's birth, he journeyed to Santiago, and that is twenty-two years ago.

William de Clopham, aged 45, says the same, and knows it because he was in the same year with Lady Lora de Otteham, who was at the assembly which Sir Robert father of the said Robert made, when Lady Alice the mother of him was purified, and he then saw the said Robert.

Walter ate Halle, aged 48, says the same, and had knowledge of it because Joan his wife was in the service of Dulcia, aunt of the mother of the said Robert when news came of his birth; and because in the same year he was imprisoned in the castle of Dover by Sir Stephen de Penecestre the keeper.

Peter Taylour, aged 51, says the said Robert is 22, and he knows it because he saw Sir Robert the father [words missing] John de Borewike by writ of novel disseisin, and was one of twelve jurors of the said assize at Maydestan [Maidstone], in which time the same Robert was born.

Hamo Gold, aged 40, says the said Robert is 12 [sic], as above, and knows it because his houses were burned in Maydestan in that year, and he bought timber of Sir Robert the father, and so he well recollects.

John Gilbert, aged 56, says the said Robert is 22 and more, as above, and knows it because Henry his father died in the same year, and he has had his inheritance twenty-two years and more.

Robert de Hethurst, aged 57, says the said Robert is 22, and this he knows because he saw him lying in his cradle, and in the same year [Hethurst] was imprisoned in the castle of Canterbury."

Robert de Hugham died shortly before 6 June 1317, still only twenty-four, and childless: Cal. Fine Rolls 1307-1319, p. 330.

3) The proof of age of John son and heir of John de Albiniaco (Albini, d'Aubigny, Daubeny), taken in Kent on 13 February 1315.

"Alexander Badecok, aged 50, says that the said John was 22 at the feast of St Peter ad Vincula [1 August] last, for he was born at Hockingdene [Hockenden] on that day 22 Edw. I [1294], and baptised on the morrow in the church of St Mary, Creye [Cray], and this he recollects because his sister Alice was nurse of the said John, and he often saw him lying in his cradle.

Thomas atte Spyche, aged 40, says the same, and recollects it because he was at the purification of Isabel the said John's mother.

Richerus de Marisco, aged 40, agrees, and knows it because he saw the said John borne into the church to be baptised.

John le Welsh, aged 40, agrees, and knows it because he was servant of John the father, when the said John [the son] was born.

Simon atte Purye, aged 50, agrees, and knows it because his [John de Albiniaco the younger's] father told him on the day the said John was born, that he had a son of which he greatly rejoiced.

Richard Walter, aged 40, agrees, and knows it because he was a thresher at Hockingdenne at the time the said John was born.

Simon Coleman, aged 50, agrees, and knows it because he is and was at that time a near neighbour at Hockingdenne.

Gilbert Gerold, aged 40, agrees, and knows it because he often saw the said John lying in his cradle.

Nicholas de Hockingdenne, aged 50, agrees, and knows it because he was in the service of John de Albyniaco the father when the said John was born.

Ralph Vyel, aged 50, agrees, and knows it because he was servant at Hockingdenne when the said John was born.

Simon Laston, aged 40, agrees, and knows it because he saw the same John on the day he was baptised.

Robert Pertrich, aged 50, agrees, and knows it because he is a near neighbour at Hockingdenne and was at the purification of the same John's mother."

I cannot adequately express how much I love these entries for the insight they give into life in the early fourteenth century...

24 November, 2010

Blog Searches and Misinformation

Blog searches!

best answers for people born 14 september is smarter than poeple born9 october  Actually, people born on 30 June are the smartest.  (The fact that this is my birthday is completely irrelevant to this theory, of course.)

why did Queen Isabella prefer tall beds  This one has hit the blog before, lots of times, and I'm still baffled as to what it means.

a story about crime and punish ment in the sory called warwick%

photos of edward11 at bannockburn

interesting things that had happened in the 1330

henry viii perverted treatment of catherine howard

statue leon cathedral man castille boy

who is king edward the 2 of england and what did they did

i am writing a letter to queen isabella  Good idea, as long as you don't expect her to write back.

naughty history stuff

pictures of queen isabella in her casket

nasty robin

dutchess elenor percy picture

feeble lazy kingship "edward ii" bruce

most important events of edward III

william wallace and esabella

what did queen isabella do to poor people  Well, she imprisoned eighteen children in Chester Castle in the summer of 1327 as hostages for the good behaviour of the townspeople, who had been "disobedient and ill-behaved."

what did queen isabella believe in  Imprisoning children because some people in the town where they lived had been "disobedient" towards her.  (Funny the way Edward II is often slated for imprisoning some of the wives and children of the Contrariants in 1322, but no-one notices that Isabella did the same thing, isn't it?)

who was the first woman to lead troops into battle in Europe She became a saint

did edward i sleep with isabella of france

Talking of which, here's a quotation from an information sheet apparently handed out at the Highland Games.  Read it and weep...

William Wallace "was not the father of Edward III but neither was Edward II the father of the child. He was totally gay and fathered no children. Isobel had a lover, Mortimer, but he neither was the father of Edward III. It is rumored that Edward I was the father by choice to keep his line going."

Someone actually printed this rubbish, someone who couldn't even spend twenty seconds checking Wikipedia for the birth and death dates of Edward I and III, and no doubt hundreds or even thousands of people read it and assumed it was true.  Sigh...

From another site: Isabella of France "eventually got rid of her husband’s first lover, his second lover, her husband and her own lover...she rid the country of Piers Gaveston and Hugh Despenser, two of the most reviled people in England, quashed wars with the barons, stopped on civil war by invading England with Mortimer, successfully negotiated treaties with France and Scotland and left the throne to her son who turned out to be a decent king...Oh sure, she wasn’t above drawing and quartering people who crossed her but they deserved it (Hugh Despenser was thought to have raped her)."

Bet you never knew Isabella 'got rid' of Piers Gaveston and Roger Mortimer, did you?  I'd love to know how Isabella 'quashed wars with the barons' and 'left the throne' to her son (it wasn't hers to leave!).  There's really no evidence that Hugh Despenser raped or sexually assaulted Isabella, and although he may have been a pretty unpleasant person, it's not fair to accuse him of such a serious crime when the only so-called evidence is Isabella's statement in a letter of February 1326 that Hugh "wished to dishonour us by his power" (qi nous voudrait deshonurer a son poiar), which is amply explained by Hugh's other actions towards her.

Talking of Hugh Despenser (the Younger), today is the 684th anniversary of his grotesque execution in Hereford.  RIP, Hugh!

18 November, 2010

Hospitals and the Poor

I found this entry about the famous St Leonard's Hospital, York in the Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous 1308-1348 recently, and thought I'd post it here.  It's an inquisition taken in January 1324 by William Herle (justice of the court of Common Pleas) and Geoffrey le Scrope (chief justice of the King's Bench), and provides a fascinating insight into what hospitals of the era gave to the poor.  The original was written mostly in Latin, with some French thrown in and one word in English (husewyf).

"There used to be in the infirmary of the hospital of St Leonard, York, twelve score beds for men and women, but now there are only seven score and four.

The livery of each man and woman used to be six loaves a week viz. four of rye and two of wheat, and three and a half gallons of ale, and three days in the week meat, and two days cheese and butter, and two days herrings, except those who have livery of the chaplains, to whom belongs one more loaf in the week, and other companage, which alms have been withdrawn from St Katherine's Day four years ago, to Christmas last past by Master John Walewayn, that is to say from each man and woman two loaves in the week and for their companage they now only take a penny a week, and for their ale a penny a week.

The poor of the infirmary used to have six servants, but now they only have four; there used to be in the infirmary six oil lamps, and now there are only four, which service of servants and lamps has been withdrawn for two years by the said Master John.

There used to be a distribution of beans to the poor at the gate of the hospital every Monday from Whitsun to St Peter's Chair, which was withdrawn by Sir Walter de Langeton, master.

There used to be a distribution on St Leonard's Day of a loaf and a herring to every poor person, who chose to come, which has been withdrawn for four years by Master John Walewayn.

Alms of forty loaves which used to be given every day at the gate to the poor clerks, who sang at the mass of Our Lady, and other poor persons, have been withdrawn for four years by the said Master John.

The housewife [husewyf] of the orphanage used to take forty-seven loaves a week for the maintenance of the children, of which ten have been withdrawn for four years by the said Master John; and also one of two cows.

Each of the sisters, who wear the habit of the hospital, used to have every week seven loaves, half of white bread and half of whole corn as it comes with buckwheat, and seven gallons of ale, half of the best ale brewed for the brethren, and half of the ale brewed for the poor, and from the kitchen a good mess of meat double and an honest pittance as the brethren have and on every double feast, 24 in the year, two good messes; and for the whole company of sisters two weys of cheese a month; and each sister used to take eight shillings at the gules of August for her clothing; all these alms have been reduced by the said Master John; the possessions of the house are sufficient for the alms.

Examination of the cellarer and brethren of the hospital as to the alms and possessions thereof, containing similar information as to that embodied in the foregoing inquisition and mentioning that some of the property of the hospital was burned and destroyed by the Scots."

- And also, an inquisition taken at Ripon, Yorkshire, in April 1316, by Robert de Cliderhou (i.e. Clitheroe, Lancashire), escheator north of the Trent:

"In the hospital of St Mary Magdalene of Ripon the chantry of one of the two chaplains has been withdrawn by Nicholas de Molyns, warden; travellers, mendicant clerks, and other needy persons and wayfarers ought to have refuge for a night with supper and bed, but no such hospitality is now given; yearly on St Mary Magdalene's Day there ought to be distributed to each poor person coming there, a loaf of wheaten bread worth ½d, when wheat is worth five shillings and a quarter, and a herring, in place of which a saucer full of flour or beans is now given to some poor persons, but the greater part go away without a portion; none of the other works of charity incumbent upon such a hospital are performed owing to the absence of the warden, who seldom resides there."

13 November, 2010

The Birth Of Edward III, 1312

Today marks the 698th anniversary of the birth of King Edward III at Windsor Castle on Monday 13 November 1312, or as his contemporaries would put it, 'on the feast of St Brice in the sixth year of the reign of our lord King Edward, second of that name after the Conquest', or 'on the Monday after St Martin in the sixth year of the reign of our lord King Edward, son of King Edward'.

Edward of Windsor's father Edward II was then twenty-eight and his mother Isabella of France probably seventeen, or shortly to turn seventeen. Edward was born as heir to the English throne, displacing his father's twelve-year-old half-brother Thomas of Brotherton (whom the king made earl of Norfolk a few weeks later), and would grow up to be, apart from his younger brother John of Eltham, the only surviving grandson of Philip IV of France. He was destined to live until the age of sixty-four, father twelve legitimate children and at least three illegitimate ones, succeed to his father's throne while his father was still alive, begin the Hundred Years War with France and live through three outbreaks of the Black Death; to say that his life was eventful and exciting barely begins to describe it.

As was so often the case in Edward II's reign, little Edward was born at a time when his father was feuding with his barons and the kingdom was teetering on the brink of civil war, thanks to the killing of the king's beloved Piers Gaveston five months earlier (and let me reiterate here that Isabella was already pregnant at the time of Piers' death, and that Edward II's relationship with Piers therefore did not impede his marital relations with his queen, as a lot of people seem to think). Edward II spent the summer of 1312 provisioning his castles, summoning loyal barons to him and ordering London to close its gates against Piers' killers, having left Isabella in the north of England, presumably for her own safety. The king did find time, though, to pay a man called John de Colon of Lombardy "for making his minstrelsy with snakes in the presence of the king" at Canterbury on 16 August. [1]

The king and queen were reunited on or around 9 September 1312 for the first time since late June, and by the 17th of that month had retired to Windsor Castle, where they would spend most of the next few months together. They were accompanied by the dowager queen Marguerite, Edward's stepmother and Isabella's aunt, and Marguerite's brother Louis, count of Evreux, whom their half-brother Philip IV had sent to England to negotiate between the king and his barons in the aftermath of Piers Gaveston's murder. Evreux had long been on close terms with Edward, and it was to him that Edward sent his humorous letter about lazy dogs and big trotting palfreys in 1305.

Edward II gave two pounds to a Welsh minstrel called Coghin, who performed for him, and presumably the eight-months-pregnant Isabella, at Windsor on 12 October. [2] A few days later, Edward granted his wife permission to make her will, which was a sensible precaution many women took while pregnant, given the manifold risks of childbirth. As a married woman, she needed her husband's permission to make a will.  Edward's writ begins "Because we know well that nothing is as certain as death [pour ceo que nous savoms bien qe nule chose n'est si certeine come la mort], and nothing less certain than the hour when it may come, we give and grant permission for our very dear consort Isabella, queen of England, lady of Ireland and duchess of Aquitaine, that she may make and draw up her will..."  [3]

Edward II left Windsor and travelled to Westminster for a few days in late October, returned to Windsor, and on 9 November left again and travelled to his palace of Sheen, twenty miles away. I wonder if this means that Edward III was a little premature, as it doesn't seem likely that Edward II would have left Windsor had his son's birth been believed to be imminent. Edward returned to Windsor on 12 November, maybe because he had been informed that the queen had gone into labour.  In December 1312, Edward granted the enormous sum of eighty pounds annually for the rest of their lives to Isabella's steward John Launge and his wife Joan, Isabella's damsel - which gave them a higher income than many knights - "upon the said John bringing news of the birth of Edward the king's firstborn." [4] Whether this means that Launge rode from Windsor to Sheen to tell Edward that Isabella's labour had begun, or merely that he walked from one part of Windsor Castle to another to say to Edward 'wonderful news, my lord king, you have a healthy son', I don't know. (If the latter, that's got to be the easiest enormously high income anyone's ever earned.)
Off-topic here, but interesting: on 27 September 1315, Edward issued a "mandate for the arrest of Joan, wife of John Launge, going without the realm, and her detention until further order. The king is, without delay, to be certified of her arrest." She was, however, released from Rochester Castle and her goods and chattels restored to her on 17 October. [5] I have no idea what that was about.

The little heir to the throne was baptised three days after his birth in the chapel of St Edward the Confessor at Windsor Castle by Arnaud Nouvel, cardinal-bishop of St Prisca, a papal envoy then in England to negotiate between Edward II and the earls of Lancaster and Hereford and the other men who had taken part in Piers Gaveston's death. The boy had no fewer than seven godfathers: Arnaud d'Aux, bishop of Poitiers, chamberlain of Pope Clement V and another papal envoy trying to establish peace in England; John Droxford, bishop of Bath and Wells; Walter Reynolds, bishop of Worcester and soon to be archbishop of Canterbury; Louis, count of Evreux, the boy's great-uncle; John of Brittany, earl of Richmond, Edward II's first cousin; Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke, another close kinsman of the king; and Hugh Despenser the Elder, whom Edward of Windsor would see executed in his armour at Bristol a little less than fourteen years later. [6]

According to the St Albans chronicler, the French delegation wished the boy to be named Louis, but the English nobles forbade it, and he was named instead after his father, or perhaps his grandfather Edward I. [7]  Both the Vita Edwardi Secundi and the St Albans chronicler say that little Edward's birth "much lessened the grief which had inflicted the king on Piers' death" and "tempered the sorrow he had felt since the death of Piers. On that day his love of the boy began and the memory of Piers began to vanish." [8] Of course this is an exaggeration, as Edward was still faithfully remembering Piers in numerous prayers at numerous religious houses many years later and clearly cherished his memory, but no doubt the chroniclers are correct in saying that Edward's joy at his son's birth did go some way to assuaging his terrible grief over Piers' death.

The Vita expressed a wish that Edward of Windsor would grow up to "follow the industry of King Henry II, the well-known valour of King Richard [Lionheart], may he reach the age of King Henry [III], revive the wisdom of King Edward [I], and remind us of the physical strength and comeliness of his father." Evidently, Edward II’s good looks and magnificent physique were the only positive attributes the author could think of to describe him. A few months later, the chronicler added "our King Edward has now reigned six full years and has till now achieved nothing praiseworthy or memorable, except that by a royal marriage he has raised up for himself a handsome son and heir to the throne."  [9]

Isabella of France sent a letter (in French) to the city of London, announcing her son's birth: "Isabella, by the grace of God queen of England, lady of Ireland, and duchess of Aquitaine, to our well-beloved the mayor and aldermen and the commonalty of London, greeting. Forasmuch as we believe that you would willingly hear good tidings of us, we do make known to you that our Lord, of His grace, has delivered us of a son, on the 13th day of November, with safety to ourselves, and to the child. May our Lord preserve you." [10] The London annalist says that the city went wild with joy at the news, the inhabitants dancing in the streets and drinking huge amounts of free wine for a whole week. [11] Sounds like some party.  Edward II granted his son the earldom of Chester when he was only a few days old, set up a household for him with dozens of servants, and granted him numerous lands, castles and manors. The king also granted Isabella lands in Kent, Oxfordshire, Derbyshire and Northamptonshire in 1313 and 1314, probably in gratitude that she had borne him a son. [12] Little Edward of Windsor grew up in the care of his nurse Margaret, wife of Stephen le Chaundeler, and his parents visited him occasionally. [13]

For all the contemporary criticism of Edward’s 'immoderate' and 'excessive' love for Piers Gaveston and all the opprobrium heaped on him nowadays for supposedly neglecting his poor tragic little wife (although the period from late June to early September 1312 was probably the longest time they'd ever spent apart since marrying in January 1308), by fathering a healthy, legitimate son Edward had done something only a handful of his earls had managed by November 1312. The obscure and insignificant earl of Oxford had a son, who was about the same age as Edward II, and the earl of Hereford had two, Edward’s nephews John and Humphrey de Bohun. According to one chronicle, Edward's nephew the earl of Gloucester had a son named John born in April 1312, but this is not confirmed by any other source, and if true, the boy must have died soon after, as Gloucester certainly died childless in June 1314. The earl of Arundel’s eldest son Richard was born in 1313 or the beginning of 1314 - he was said to be seven at the time of his wedding in February 1321 - and the earl of Warwick's in February 1314, even though Warwick was a dozen years older than Edward. The earls of Lancaster, Pembroke, Surrey and Richmond all died without legitimate children, and the earl of Lincoln, who died in early 1311, left only a daughter. (As did Piers Gaveston, earl of Cornwall.)

On 20 December 1312, Edward II paid the huge amount of 1249 pounds and 19 shillings for "cloth bought...for the liveries of the king, queen Isabel and Edward, the king's son, against the present Christmas." Edward, being perpetually skint thanks to the enormous debts left to him by his father and his own extravagance, had to borrow the money from his Italian bankers, the Bardi of Florence. [14] The king and queen of England, proud new parents, spent the festive season of 1312 at Windsor with the six-week-old baby who was already earl of Chester and one of the greatest and richest noblemen in the realm.

Further reading: Ian Mortimer, The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III, Father of the English Nation (2006)


1) Constance Bullock-Davies, A Register of Royal and Baronial Domestic Minstrels 1272-1327, p. 32.
2) Ibid., pp. 31-32.
3) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1307-1313, p. 508; Foedera 1307-1327, p. 184.
4) Cal Pat Rolls 1307-1313, pp. 516, 519; Calendar of Close Rolls 1313-1318, p. 54; Cal Pat Rolls 1321-1324, p. 128.
5) Cal Pat Rolls 1313-1317, p. 353; Cal Close Rolls 1313-1318, p. 253.
6) Cal Close Rolls 1307-1313, p. 558; Foedera, p. 187.
7) H. T. Riley, ed., Johannis de Trokelowe et Henrici de Blaneforde Chronica et Annales, p. 79.
8) N. Denholm-Young, ed., Vita Edwardi Secundi Monachi Cuiusdam Malmesberiensis, p. 36; Trokelowe, pp. 79-80.
9) Vita, pp. 36-37, 39-40.
10) Cited in Alison Weir, Isabella, She-Wolf of France, Queen of England, p. 71.
11) Annales Londonienses 1195-1330, in W. Stubbs, ed., Chronicles of the Reigns of Edward I and Edward II, vol. 1, pp. 220-221.
12) For example: Cal Pat Rolls 1313-1317, pp. 5, 38.
13) Calendar of Fine Rolls 1307-1319, p. 189.
14) Cal Fine Rolls 1307-1319, p. 158.

05 November, 2010

Friday Facts 3

More random Edward II stuff...

- Edward's wet-nurse for the first few months of his life in 1284, until she fell ill and had to leave his household, was the Welsh woman Mariota (or Mary) Maunsel.  In November 1307, Edward gave Mariota seventy-three acres of land in Caernarfon rent-free for life (she was then described as a "burgess of Carnarvan") and in March 1312 granted "the king's first nurse" an income of five pounds a year "out of the yearly issues of the king's mill at Karnarvan."  Mariota was replaced as Edward's nurse by an English woman, Alice de Leygrave, who in May 1313 was called "the king's mother...who suckled him in his youth."  [1]

- Edward in 1305/06 spent almost £1270 on minstrels and buying palfreys, which would seem to be a wildly excessive amount of money even by his extravagant standards.  [2]

- Edward owned a barge called La Petite Mariot, and his ships included La Isabele of Westminster, presumably named after the queen, La Alianore la Despensere, named after his niece Eleanor Despenser, La Jonette and La Cristofre. Edward sent John Sturmy to Norfolk in April 1315 to bring the latter two ships into port, as they were "lying outside port on the high sea, not without danger as the king hears."  This was probably a wise precaution: the king's ship La James of Caernarfon was stolen from Holyhead ('Haliheved') by Thomas Dun and "others, the king's enemies and rebels from Scotland," on 12 September 1315 and taken to Scotland.  Edward, at Fen Ditton near Cambridge, ordered John Gray, justice of North Wales, on 1 October to investigate the matter; the subsequent inquisition was held at Beaumaris, as Bertram de Cranemore, captain of La James, "is a burgess of that town."  [3]

- On 25 July 1326, Edward - then at Byfleet in Surrey - paid a messenger five shillings to take his letters to his daughters Eleanor (aged eight) and Joan (aged five) at Marlborough in Wiltshire.  On the same day, he gave a gift of two shillings to John of Waltham, "who sang before the king every time he passed through these parts by water, and today gave him [Edward] a bucket of loach."  [4]

- Piers Gaveston's first cousin Pierre Caillau, whose mother Miramonde was the sister of Piers' mother Claramonde de Marsan, served as mayor of Bordeaux from 1308 to 1310.  Pierre married a woman with the excellent name of Navarre de Podensac, and died in 1335.  He and his brother Bertrand were accused in 1308 of committing various unpleasant crimes against Amanieu and Jean Colomb, in the gorgeous Gascon French of the era: So son los actes, murtres, plaguas, arraubarias feyt par la man de Peyre Calhau, maior de Bordeu, e de Bertran Calhau, son frayre, e deus Soleyrenx e de lor companha e per lor viladors a Namaneu Colom e a Johan Colom e a lur companha e a lurs amies...[5]

- Edward II gave twelve pence to three "small children, brothers" (petitz enfauntz freres), for singing for him in a garden in Surrey on 15 August 1325.  [6]

- 17 October 1325: "Paid to Jack Fisher [Jak Ffissher] for a pike, two barbel and a trout bought from him by the king himself when he passed from Walton to Cippenham on this day, seven shillings."  [7]

- On 23 May 1313, just before he and Isabella travelled to Paris for the knighting of her brothers, Edward ordered the constable of Dover Castle to pay "six Saracens" six pence a day each for their expenses "until the king's return from parts beyond sea."  Who these people were and what subsequently happened to them, I don't know.  [8]


1) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1307-1313, pp. 21, 448; Calendar of Close Rolls 1307-1313, p. 581.
2) Constance Bullock-Davies, A Register of Royal and Baronial Domestic Minstrels 1272-1327, p. 119.
3) For La James, Patent Rolls 1313-1317, p. 421; Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous 1308-1348, p. 61; Calendar of Chancery Warrants 1244-1326, p. 426.  For the other ships, too many sources to list here!
4) Society of Antiquaries Library MS 122, p. 78.
5) G. P. Cuttino and J.-P. Trabut-Cussac, eds., Gascon Register A (Series of 1318-1319), vol. 2, pp. 374-379; Malcolm Vale, The Origins of the Hundred Years War: The Angevin Legacy 1250-1340, p. 280.
6) SAL MS 122, p. 20.
7) Ibid., p. 29.
8) Close Rolls 1307-1313, p. 537.