22 January, 2012

Stay Away From The King, You Gascons

I was looking recently at the Ordinances, a list of forty-one reforms of the king's household and of the kingdom in general, which were imposed on Edward II in the autumn of 1311.  (If anyone's interested in the election of the twenty-one Lords Ordainer in 1310, their preparation of the Ordinances and the political background to it all, there are thorough accounts in Seymour Phillips' 2010 biography of Edward and in Roy Martin Haines' 2003 biography of him, as well as in James Conway Davies' Baronial Opposition to Edward II.)  The twentieth Ordinance, which caused Edward the most anguish, mandated the perpetual exile of Piers Gaveston from England, Ireland, Gascony and other lands ruled by the king; this is the only Ordinance cited in full by the Vita Edwardi Secundi, on the grounds that it was "more welcome to many than the rest." [1]

The Ordinances were published on 27 September 1311 in the churchyard of St Paul's, London, and on 11 October were sent out to the sheriffs to be published in every county.  Further Ordinances were issued sometime later, probably in late November [2], which, as the Vita says, "declared that Piers' friends and partisans should leave the court under penalty of imprisonment, lest they should stir up the king to recall Piers once more."  Edward II, fuming, snarled that the Ordainers were treating him like an idiot and that he could not believe that "the ordering of his whole house should depend upon the will of another," and declared somewhat hyperbolically that "he was not allowed to keep even one member of his household at his own wish."  [3]

In this post, I'm going to take a look at some of the men ordered to be sent away from Edward II in late November 1311.  There were twenty-seven named altogether, and Piers Gaveston's biographer Jeffrey Hamilton has worked out that eighteen of them had connections to Piers.  [4]  One Ordinance explicitly states that all of Piers' relatives should be removed from the king's presence (Item qe tout le linage Pieres Gavastone soit entiorement ouste du roi).  The men I want to focus on are Bourgeois de Tilh and his son Arnaud (Borgois de Tille et seon filz), who (Arnaud) had been appointed marshall of the king's exchequer around Michaelmas 1311 [5], and Bertrand Caillau "and his brother and those of Gascony who are in their company in the parts of Cornwall" (Bertran Kaillon et seon frere et ceux de Gascoigne qe sunt en lur compaignie en les parties de Cornewaille).  The pages from the London Annals which names the men can be seen here and here, in the original French.

Bertrand Caillau was, almost certainly, Piers Gaveston's first cousin: Piers' mother's sister Miramonde de Marsan married Pierre Caillau (died 1280), mayor of Bordeaux, and they had at least two sons, Pierre, also mayor of Bordeaux, and one named Bertrand, presumably the man named in the Ordinance.  [8]  Jeffrey Hamilton calls Bertrand Piers' 'nephew', which seems improbable; Bertrand was an adult and active on Piers' behalf in 1311/12, and can hardly have had an uncle (Piers) who was himself not yet thirty in 1311, unless perhaps Piers had a much older sister or half-sister who had also married into the Caillau family.  Whatever the exact relationship of the two men, Bertrand was devoted to Piers: he borrowed over 3000 gold florins to plead Piers' cause, and was imprisoned by Edward II's father-in-law Philip IV of France to prevent him travelling to the pope in Avignon on Piers' behalf.  [9]  The name and identity of Bertrand's brother (the Ordinance spoke of "Bertrand Caillau and his brother") is uncertain, though is unlikely to have been the Pierre mentioned above, who was mayor of Bordeaux from 1308 to 1310.  Perhaps it was Arnaud Caillau, of whom I have written before, a man who remained staunchly loyal to Edward II until the very end of his reign and who served him in both Gascony (he was, among other positions, keeper of the island of Oléron) and England.  He's a man who deserves his own blog post sometime, actually.  There are lots of references to Bertrand in various primary sources: he was accused of the death of a man named Reymon de Savynak in Gascony in 1311 and granted custody of the lands late of Thomas Audley by Piers Gaveston in 1308, for instance.

The reference to the men of Gascony who were in the company of the Caillau brothers in Cornwall presumably means something which happened in the spring of 1312, not long after Piers Gaveston's return to England for a third time.  Piers, perhaps believing that he might be sent yet again into exile if his enemies caught him, ordered his steward in Cornwall to deliver £853 to his retainers Bertrand Assailit and Berduk or Bernard de Marsan, presumably to take abroad with him if necessary.  Marsan and Assailit were captured near Plymouth in a ship called La Grace Deu de Fauwy and imprisoned by William Martin, one of the men who had been sent to search for Piers in the west country the previous autumn - not everyone believed that Piers had in fact left the country - carrying 1000 marks (£666) and 129 pieces of tin.  Edward II, claiming that the money was his and that Marsan and Assailit were going to Gascony on his affairs, ineffectually ordered William Martin to release them (Martin responded to the first order by committing Bertrand "to harder imprisonment").  [10]  Berduk or Bernard de Marsan must have been another relative of Piers, Marsan being the name of Piers' mother Claramonde and his elder brother Arnaud-Guilhem.  In June 1319, Edward II compensated Bertrand Assailit and his brother Ramon for their expenses incurred "in the defence of the king's rights" in France.  [11]

Bourgeois de Tilh was another close ally of Piers Gaveston, and, as Pierre Chaplais has pointed out, came from Tilh in the Landes in Gascony, close to Piers' family seat of Gabaston.  His son Arnaud was appointed marshal of the exchequer around Michaelmas 1311 at the expense of the earl of Lancaster's retainer Nicholas Segrave, most likely at Piers' request - yet another reason for the powerful earl to dislike Piers.  [12]  Bourgeois, whose name appears in contemporary documents as Burgeys or Burgesius de Till or similiar, was a valet of the king's household for many years, until at least July 1322.  In December 1308, he rather bizarrely accused Robert Winchelsey, archbishop of Canterbury, and John Salmon, bishop of Norwich, of stealing "corn, animals and other goods" which had belonged to the late Master Arnald Lupi de Tillio, presumably a relative, in Norfolk.  [13]  The Tallifer de Tillio or Talhefer de Tilh who appears in a few entries on the calendared rolls in Edward II's reign as a king's valet may have been another relative, as was maybe the 'Fortener Burgeys de Tille' also named as a king's valet in August 1318.  [14]  Piers Gaveston had a brother named Fortaner, which may perhaps point to a family connection between the Gavestons and Tilhs (though this is pure speculation).  Bertruc de Tilh, sergeant-at-arms, was granted lands in Bédorède in the Landes in the third year of Edward III's reign (January 1329 to January 1330), for his "good service" to Edward II; in his petition asking for lands, Bertruc stated that he had been in Edward's service for eighteen years.  [15]  

Also named in the additional Ordinances to be sent away from Edward II in late 1311 were the thuggish Robert Lewer; Edward's chamberlain John Charlton, who was to join the Contrariants against Edward in 1321/22; Robert Darcy, to whom Piers wrote a letter in April 1308; and 'all the Basques' (touz les Bascles).  Rather intriguingly, Darcy, Sir Edmund Bacon - to whose keeping some of Piers' lands were given in December 1311 after his third exile [6] - and unnamed others were said to have set out from court with the intent to attack, of all people, Hugh Despenser the Younger (sir Huwe le Despencer le fiiz) [7] who at this time appears to have been opposed to his father, a staunch royalist, and to Edward II, his uncle by marriage.  It's unlikely that many if any of the men ordered to be 'ousted' from court in fact did stay away from Edward for very long, as is shown by an examination of their later careers.

Oooops, I moved some of this post around and now two of the footnote numbers are in the wrong place.  :-)  The notes are correct, they're just in rather the wrong order in the text.  :-)


1) Vita Edwardi Secundi, ed. N. Denholm-Young, pp. 19-20.
2) J.R. Maddicott, Thomas of Lancaster 1307-1322: A Study in the Reign of Edward II, p. 117; T.F. Tout, Chapters in the Administrative History of Mediaeval England, vol. 2, pp 195-198.  These Ordinances are cited (in French) in Annales Londonienses 1195-1330, in W. Stubbs, ed., Chronicles of the Reigns of Edward I and Edward II, vol. 1, pp. 198-202.  The original forty-one Ordinances are cited in full, in English and the French original, in Statutes of the Realm, vol. 1, pp. 157-168.
3) Vita, p. 21.
4) J.S. Hamilton, Piers Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall 1307-1312: Politics and Patronage in the Reign of Edward II, pp. 94, 163 note 10.
5) Pierre Chaplais, Piers Gaveston, Edward II's Adoptive Brother, p. 70.
6) Calendar of Fine Rolls 1307-1319, p. 117; Calendar of Patent Rolls 1307-1313, p. 429.
7) Annales Londonienses, p. 200.
8) Malcolm Vale, The Origins of the Hundred Years War: The Angevin Legacy 1250-1340, p. 280.
9) Hamilton, Piers Gaveston, p. 88.
10) Calendar of Close Rolls 1307-1313, pp. 417, 461, 582; Cal Pat Rolls 1307-1313, pp. 417, 465, 484; The National Archives SC 8/286/14296; Hamilton, Piers Gaveston, p. 94.
11) Gascon Rolls, online.
12) Chaplais, Piers Gaveston, p. 70; Hamilton, Piers Gaveston, pp. 88-89; Maddicott, Thomas of Lancaster, p. 118.
13) Cal Pat Rolls 1307-1313, pp. 126-128, 170; Cal Pat Rolls 1321-1324, p. 181.
14) Cal Close Rolls 1318-1323, p. 10.
15) Gascon Rolls, online.


Anonymous said...

Glad to see something about Piers! I've also thought that "nephew" didn't make much sense, unless the term was used differently in the middle ages. I wonder how Piers' brother Guillaume Arnaud felt about this - he isn't mentioned by name so he probably hadn't done anything "wrong" that the Ordainers could accuse him of, but he was still at risk of losing his job with Piers and/or Edward.

Kathryn Warner said...

Edward II (and surely others too, but I haven't checked! :) sometimes used 'nephew' in a very general sense of 'somewhat younger male relative'. For instance, he addressed one of his Castilian first cousins once removed as 'nephew' in 1324, and also his clerk Giorgio di Saluzzo, who was only his third cousin. So I think probably Bertrand as Piers' 'nephew' has been interpreted a bit too literally.

I wish I knew more about Guillaume Arnaud! :-( And also Fortaner de Lescun, who Hamilton says was Piers' uncle but appears in a petition as his brother. Hmmmm. Would love to sort out the Gaveston/Gasbaston family tree. :-)

Gabriele C. said...

Heh, good luck sorting out family trees. I've done my share of that for German nobles - most of them called Heinrich. :)

Anerje said...

Yes! A Piers-based post makes me very happy - thanks! Piers' family tree is very complicated but the answers must be out there somewhere. There's definitely an anti-Gascon feeling amongst the nobles - remember Piers was accused of sending money out of England to Gascony. It makes me wonder if Piers had been born amongst the English nobility, would he have been so disliked? I daresay they would have found other reasons, and anyway, he wouldn't have been Piers Gaveston then :>

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Gabriele! Yes, for sure you understand the problem too. :):)

You're welcome, Anerje! I wonder about that sometimes too. :-)

Carla said...

I remember reading somewhere that the Latin term 'nepos' can be translated as either 'nephew' or 'grandson', which could fit in with the use of 'nephew' in a general sense of 'younger male relative', if it was derived from a Latin term with a similarly vague meaning. Unfortunately I can't remember the context off-hand.
I can see that a catch-all term for certain sorts of relatives could have been useful, given how complicated family trees could get with second and third marriages, half-siblings, step-siblings, various degrees of cousins and so on.

Kathryn Warner said...

Yes, I've read that too, Carla. It becomes a little problematic when it's translated too literally.