22 May, 2011

The Knighting Of 22 May 1306

Today is the 705th anniversary of the knighting of Edward of Caernarfon at Westminster on Sunday 22 May 1306, described by the contemporary chronicler Piers Langtoft as the greatest event in Britain since King Arthur was crowned at Caerleon.*

Some of the nearly 300 men knighted at the same time were: Roger Mortimer and his uncle Roger Mortimer of Chirk; Hugh Despenser the Younger and his kinsman Ralph Basset, future steward of Gascony; the earls of Arundel and Surrey; Edward Balliol, son of the former King John of Scotland; John Comyn, son of the John Comyn of Badenoch recently killed by Robert Bruce and destined to die fighting for Edward II at Bannockburn; John Maltravers, one of Edward II's custodians in 1327; Fulk Fitzwarin and William la Zouche, two of the men who joined the earl of Kent's plot to free Edward in 1330; John, Lord Mowbray, executed in 1322; and the Castilian Roderick of Spain (Rethericus de Ispania), a member of Edward's household.  The name of Edward of Caernarfon himself is given on the list of new knights as 'Lord Edward, Prince of Wales' (Dominus Edwardus Princeps Walliae).  Piers Gaveston (Petrus de Gavaston) appears on the list, but was in fact knighted four days later and not with the others (perhaps because of illness?).

I wrote a post about this splendid event on the 700th anniversary, and here's another one.  :-)  Edward I ordered all his sheriffs on 6 April 1306 to "cause proclamation to be made that all those who are not knights and wish to be shall come to London before Whitsunday to receive from the king's wardrobe all the gear necessary for them in this case, of the king's gift, so that they may be able to receive knighthood from the king there," having announced his intention the previous day of "making Edward, his eldest son, a knight."  The king purchased eighty rolls of scarlet and other coloured cloth, 2500 yards of linen and 5000 yards of canvas.  Edward of Caernarfon himself received, to adorn his chamber in Westminster Palace, five pieces of yellow silk to line his quilt; one piece of green silk to line his cloak; five pieces of red silk to make a dorsal curtain for his bed and five of green for another curtain; six pieces of red silk to line another quilt and five pieces of silk of an unspecified colour to line his second bed.  During the banquet after the knighting, four lengths of gold-threaded cloth were hung on the wall of Westminster Hall behind Edward I and his son.

The minstrels who performed during the splendid banquet afterwards included: the famous acrobat Matilda Makejoy; "the minstrel with the bells" (le menestral oue les cloches); Guilleme the Harper "who is with the Patriarch,"  i.e. Anthony Bek, bishop of Durham, patriarch of Jerusalem and a good friend of Edward of Caernarfon; Martinet "who is with the earl of Warwick"; Baudetti the Taborer and his companion Ernolet; Gauteron the Small and Gauteron the Big; Pearl In The Eye, who had cataracts, and unnamed companion; Mahu "who is with La Dammoisele de Baar," i.e. Edward of Caernarfon's niece Jeanne de Bar, who was shortly to marry the earl of Surrey; Mahu "of the North"; Edward's trumpeters Januche and Gillot, his crwth player Nagary and his harper Amekyn; Reginald The Liar; Lion de Normanville; Master Walter Leskirmissour and his brother, who performed a sword dance.  For their performance, the men and women received between twelve pence (the majority of them) and ten marks (for the highly-skilled musicians such as the trumpeter Janin of the Tower, the vielle-player Guillot de Roos, and the citole-player Richard de Leyland).

* Unkes en Bretagne puys que Dieu fu nez
N'estoye tel nobleye en villes n'en citez
Forpriz Karlioun en antiquitez
Quant sire Arthur luy reis i fust coronez.

Sources


- Calendar of Close Rolls 1302-1307, pp. 375, 377, 438, 484.
- Constance Bullock-Davies, Menestrellorum Multitudo: Minstrels at a Royal Feast
- Pierre Chaplais, Piers Gaveston: Edward II's Adoptive Brother

22 comments:

Susan Higginbotham said...

It must have been a spectacular sight!

Kathryn Warner said...

Definitely - oh, for a time-travel machine to be able to see it!

Anerje said...

Spectacular indeed! and when you think how their futures would become entangled and how they would pan out, it adds to the aura of the whole event - Roger Mortimer, Despencer, Maltravers.

Was Piers the only one to be knighted 'late'? If so, then yes, it might be one of those mysterious illnesses he seemed to suffer from. Or, erm, was he among a group of 'lesser' men to be knighted? Although I can't see Edward being happy with that.

Kathryn Warner said...

Anerje, as far as I know, Piers was the only one. I'm sure Edward was unhappy about it. :( I suggested illness as the reason, as Piers does seem to have been rather prone to being ill (his 'secret illness' in 1311, for example, and Edward paying two men to look after him in 1312).

Anerje said...

it does indeed sound like Piers might have been ill then if he was the only one. His 'secret illness' is intriguing, isn't it? He doesn't sound like a sickly person when you read about his appearance and his tournament successes.

Kathryn Warner said...

It is peculiar - like you, I can't reconcile this illness stuff with everything else I know about Piers! Odd...

Gabriele C. said...

Maybe he caught malaria in the south. Or it could have been something that comes in periods like Morbus Crohn. Since he was executed while he was still young, he'd not have died of his illnes yet which might have happened later - malaria was usually fatal back then, and something like Morbus Crohn would have destroyed his intestines in the long run (even today some of the people suffering from it need to undergo operation and have part of their colon removed).

Kathryn Warner said...

Thank you for the info, Gabriele! I hadn't heard of Morbus Crohn, and will Google it now. I like the malaria suggestion too. It's interesting that Ed's cousin Thomas of Lancaster was also prone to recurring illness - Ed wrote to him in 1311 to say that he hoped Lanc could now ride again 'without hurt to his body', for example.

Gabriele C. said...

What Lanc got sounds like some sort of rheumatism, maybe polymyalgia which affects the muscles rather than the joints and is something younger people may get. I think Medieaval physicians would have been able to diagnose something like arthritis/arthritic rheumatism, so if Lanc's illness puzzled his contemporaries, it may have been one of those rather diffuse autoimmune rheumatoid diseases. Those tend to come in bouts. Today there's usually cortisone treatment, but that wasn't known.

Sorry, having worked as secretary in a medical department of our university obviously left its traces. :)

Kathryn Warner said...

Loving your comments, Gabriele! It's great to read your speculation about possible illnesses! :-)

Anerje said...

LOL Gabriele! I was wondering how you were so knowledgeable! I'm off to Google Morbus Crohn as well! Thanks for the imput.

Anonymous said...

Piers was also ill in late 1300. There seem to be rather alot of references to his illnesses in the historical record, so perhaps he really was not that healthy.

Anerje said...

Hi Anon. There are several references to Piers being ill throughout Edward's reign - illness was one of the reasons for the delay with the flight from Tynemouth, for example. But Kathryn and I find it difficult to reconcile all this sickness with the descriptions of Piers - at the coronation he was described as looking like the God Mars, and then there is his success at tournaments such as Wallingford. Plus he'd also been on the battlefield at a young age. The evidence suggests he had an impressive physique, and yet there is recurring sickness. And why was it 'secret'? It's very intriguing and interesting.

Kathryn Warner said...

Yes, exactly - Anerje hits the nail right on the head.

Carla said...

King Alfred and Mary Queen of Scots come to mind as two others who were healthy, even athletic, most of the time but prone to sudden episodes of incapacitating illness. Crohn's disease is one of the theories for King Alfred's mysterious illness, and porphyria (famously associated with George III) is one of the theories for Mary Queen of Scots. Migraine may be another candidate - attacks can be disabling while they last and yet the patient can be perfectly well in between. Another possibility might be relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. It's progressive over time, but symptoms can disappear entirely between episodes in the early stages, and Piers may not have got to the chronic stage before his death. Or perhaps something mundane like recurring infections (not necessarily of the same pathogen). Anything episodic with symptom-free periods between acute attacks might fit the bill. I take it there's no clue as to the type of symptoms Piers experienced?

It might be 'secret' because Piers didn't like to admit physical weakness, especially as he was a renowned athlete - illness would be rather at odds with an image as the God Mars :-) Or maybe the symptoms were embarassing or frightening (e.g. anything involving seizures or collapse might be regarded as evil spirits or divine disapproval or punishment for sins and therefore something to be ashamed of). Or maybe Piers and/or Edward feared that Piers' enemies would use it as an excuse to separate them (especially if the illness could be construed as divine disapproval, or if it was something that was thought to be contagious) and therefore tried to keep it secret. Or maybe Piers just didn't care for his health to be the subject of speculation.

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks so much for that great comment, Carla! It was extremely helpful and informative!

Kathryn Warner said...

And sadly no, there are no hints as to what Piers' symptoms were, that I know of. :-(

Carla said...

Pity. Symptoms do help when trying to come to a diagnosis :-)

Lynne said...

it's likely Piers had the royal blood disorder porphyria.

Lynne said...

it's likely Piers had the royal blood disorder porphyria

Lynne said...

oops--i see where Carla has noted the porphyria
my grandmother was Margaret le Clare married to Piers and then my grandfather Hugh de Audley
trying to find source of family porphyria AIP & HCP
regards
Lynne

sarah c said...

Sounds like a marvelous time.