A detailed look at Edward II's movements and activities this month 686 years ago, a year before the beginning of the revolution which was to sweep him from his throne.
Edward had said farewell to his elder son Edward of Windsor at Dover on 12 September 1325, when the boy sailed to France to pay homage to his uncle Charles IV for Aquitaine and Ponthieu. Queen Isabella was also in France, and Edward would never see his wife or son again; fortunately for him, he had no way of knowing that. From Dover, the king travelled slowly through Surrey to Westminster, staying at Banstead, a manor he had given to Isabella in 1318, and Bletchingley, forfeited in 1321 by his former favourite Hugh Audley, where the living quarters and the chapel were hastily cleaned and refurbished before his arrival. Edward arrived at Banstead late in the evening of 5 October, and at midnight sent out messengers ordering the array of his army on land and sea to be renewed because of "some news which he had heard" - I don't know what that was - and summoned the treasurer, Archbishop William Melton, and other members of his council to come to him at Banstead on the 7th, "at the king’s rising." On the same day, Edward wrote a letter to the chancellor Robert Baldock, which said "The king has found many faults in William de Gosefeld, clerk, as the chancellor knows well, for which he cannot be kept in the king's service, and has heard that he has been appointed justice in many places, which seems to be a great scandal." The king called parliament on 10 October, to meet at Westminster on 18 November (it would mostly be devoted to the queen's refusal to return from France).
On the day he returned to Westminster, 9 October, Edward gave ten shillings to Jack the Trumpeter of Dover, who had bought forty-seven caged goldfinches for Edward to give to his niece Eleanor Despenser, and also paid his clerk Will of Dunstable to look after the birds until Eleanor took possession of them. Edward stayed at his palace of Sheen from 12 to 18 October, with Eleanor, paying her expenses and ordering forty bundles of firewood for her chamber. Eleanor's husband Hugh Despenser the Younger, for his part, set off for Wales: he was at Caerphilly on 9 October, and still away from court on 19 November, when Edward wrote to him. Edward asked the pope on 16 October to grant dispensations for his children Eleanor of Woodstock and Edward of Windsor to marry King Alfonso XI of Castile and his sister Leonor, a dispensation being necessary as the children were second cousins once removed. He also sent letters to Jaime II of Aragon's son and heir Alfonso and the regents of Castile, who included the bishops of Burgos and Avila and several of the king's royal kinsmen, thanking them for their affection for him and "the gracious and benevolent way" they had handled his affairs. He left Sheen for Cippenham that day, and his chamber journal records that he bought fish from five fishermen of the Thames along the way; his clerk carefully noted that it was Edward himself, not one of his servants, who purchased the fish. While at Cippenham, the king gave a pound to a woman who had brought him a gift of ale, bread and more fish, and twenty-five shillings to his porter Will Shene and his new wife Isode as a wedding present. Edward exerted himself to help Thomas ate Churche, a valet of his kitchen, on 20 October: Thomas claimed to have been wrongfully imprisoned by a group of Londoners and an inquisition was being held regarding the matter, and Edward, having heard that "some people are trying to put on the inquisition suspicious and ignorant people by which damage may happen" to Thomas, ordered the mayor and sheriffs of London to ensure that "loyal and sufficient people who know the business" were put on the inquisition instead. On the following day, Edward granted permission for the abbot of St Mary's in York to found a chapel in the Yorkshire village of Myton, "in honour of the Transubstantiation and the flesh and blood of Our Lord," to pray for the souls of the men killed at the Chapter of Myton in September 1319.
More evidence that Edward II had himself been planning to travel to France to pay homage to his brother-in-law Charles IV, and thus did not fall into some mythical trap prepared for him by Isabella and Roger Mortimer by sending his son (see here for much more about that), is found in an entry in his chamber journal of 23 October 1325, when the king gave a hundred shillings to "John Haddyng, sailor, captain of the ship called la Jonete of Winchelsea, in which ship the king should have passed overseas from Dover...". On 31 October, Edward gave forty shillings to Katherine, wife of Hugh Despenser the Younger's chamberlain Clement Holditch, "who came to the king with some important business she had to do with his help," and the following day sent his valet John de Toucestre, who was retiring, to live at Reading Abbey (as was very common with retired servants of the royal household). That's interesting, as Toucestre must have left the abbey a year later to fight for Edward after Isabella and Mortimer's invasion, and also joined the earl of Kent's conspiracy to free Edward from captivity in 1330.
Society of Antiquities of London MS 122
Calendar of Close Rolls 1323-1327
Calendar of Patent Rolls 1324-1327
Calendar of Chancery Warrants 1244-1326
Elizabeth Hallam, The Itinerary of Edward II and His Household, 1307-1328
I love this time line! And I'm glad Eleanor didn't want for firewood.
Great post....I imagine Edward's porter was thrilled to receive such a large 'bonus', a new wife is no doubt expensive....;)
It's very interesting how 'cagey' the notations are...never quite reveals the whole story!!
Thanks, Susan! Yes, I hope she kept warm with all that firewood. :)
Thanks, Kate! Hehehe, yes...I hope it went some way to defraying his costs...:)
I agree - some of the entries can be quite frustrating as they make you wonder what the heck was going on! :)
I suppose if the 'important business' was something deeply personal it was only fair not to write down the details in the official records, and news that could justify mobilising the army was probably best kept to as few people as possible.
I envy you having this sort of detail available :-)
Now, one has to keep warm with all those birds around. Forty-seven. Come to think of it.
Carla: yes, compared to you, I have an embarrassment of riches as regards sources...:)
Kate: I hope they kept her warm and happy...:)
I wonder, if she had a name for each... :))))
Hehe...that I would love to know. :) :)
Actually, when I think about it, I arrive at the conclusion why Hugh would expand his property at any costs. He needed more castles to house all that birdfolk, constantly growing in numbers... )))
*Slaps forehead* But of course! It's the only logical explanation for Hugh's behaviour. I can't believe that no-one saw it before. :)))
:))) It might be even simpler than that. He might need a refuge from all the noise and smell they produce! :)))
I love all these little details - from the trumpeteer to Eleanor's firewood:>
I can't help wondering what the last conversation between Edward and Isabella consisted of.
Kate: exactly - the reason he needed all those castles in South Wales - to escape from Eleanor's birds and their endless racket. :)
Anerje: thank you! Glad you liked the post! I'd love to know that too.
It could be a very romantic scene, really.
Ehm... You see, Isabella dear, we are short of means. And I supplied you with two sound changes of dress, so you can not, in all honesty, say that you have nothing to wear! I mean, of course you can buy a new fashionable cotehardie in Paris, maybe even two, but pray, pray, not ALL of them!!!
.... And make sure Young Edward doesn't go to the Moulin Rouge, he's really not old enough for that.
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