28 October, 2012

Edward And Isabella's Families

Edward II was at least the fourteenth and perhaps the sixteenth child of Edward I, who was almost forty-five at the time of his son's birth on 25 April 1284, and his first queen Eleanor of Castile, who was about forty-two and a half at the time.  Edward was their youngest child; his supposed younger sisters Beatrice and Blanche, who are even today sometimes still added to the long list of Edward and Eleanor's children, are inventions of much later writers.  Only six of Eleanor of Castile's children outlived her: Edward II; Eleanor, countess of Bar; Joan of Acre, countess of Gloucester; Margaret, duchess of Brabant; Mary, a nun; Elizabeth, countess of Holland and Hereford.  Edward II's three elder brothers all died young; they were John (July 1266 - August 1271), Henry (May 1268 - October 1274) and Alfonso (November 1273 - August 1284).  Edward I also had two sons by his second wife Marguerite of France who survived into adulthood, Thomas, earl of Norfolk (1300-1338) and Edmund, earl of Kent (1301-1330).  Edward II's grandparents were: Henry III, king of England (d. 1272); Eleanor of Provence, queen of England (d. 1291); Fernando III, king of Castile and Leon (d. 1252); Jeanne de Dammartin, queen of Castile and countess of Ponthieu in her own right (d. 1279).  For more about his ancestors, see here and here.

Isabella's parents were Philippe IV, king of France (1268 - 29 November 1314) and Jeanne, queen of Navarre and countess of Brie and Champagne in her own right (January 1273 - late March/early April 1305).  Isabella's grandparents were: Philippe III, king of France (d. 1285); Isabel of Aragon, queen of France (d. 1271); Enrique or Henri I, king of Navarre (d. 1274); Blanche of Artois, queen of Navarre and countess of Lancaster (d. 1302).  Isabella and Edward II both lost their mothers at a young age, Edward six, Isabella about nine.  Marguerite of France, in addition to being Edward II's stepmother, was Isabella's aunt, Philippe IV's younger half-sister, while Isabella's grandmother Blanche of Artois was also Edward II's aunt by marriage.  By blood, however, Edward and Isabella were not particularly closely related, at least not by the inbred standards of later European royal families, being second cousins once removed: Edward's grandmother Eleanor of Provence was the younger sister of Isabella's great-grandmother Marguerite, queen of Louis IX.  (Louis, incidentally, was seventy years to the day older than Edward II, being born on 25 April 1214.)  Their son Edward III and his queen Philippa of Hainault were second cousins, both great-grandchildren of Philippe III of France and Isabel of Aragon (Philippe III - Philippe IV - Isabella - Edward III; Philippe III - Charles, count of Valois - Jeanne de Valois - Philippa).

Isabella - who was presumably named after her paternal grandmother Isabel of Aragon - was the sixth of seven siblings, who were all born very close together in time.  Only the date of the eldest brother, Louis X, is known: 4 October 1289, when their father was twenty-one and their mother sixteen.  The next two sons were also kings of France: Philippe V, born probably between 1291 and 1293, and Charles IV, apparently born in 1294.  The youngest child, Robert, was born in 1297, and died in August 1308 at the age of about eleven.  Isabella was born most probably in the second half of 1295 or at the beginning of 1296, so was around eleven and a half years younger than her husband.  She also had two older sisters, Marguerite and Blanche, who died in or shortly after 1294 and are very obscure, only really known from a betrothal to Fernando IV of Castile arranged by their father in 1294.  If either sister had lived, it's possible that she would have married Edward II instead of Isabella.  One of the two sisters may have been older than Louis X and born in 1288, though the date can't really be pushed back any further than that because of Queen Jeanne's youth (born in 1273), or perhaps both girls were born sometime between 1290 and 1293, between Philippe V and Charles IV.  Were any of the siblings multiple births?  I have no idea, but seven children were born between 1288/89 and 1297, and if they were all single births, Queen Jeanne must have been almost perpetually pregnant.

Isabella was the only one of Philippe IV's seven offspring who had sons who lived past childhood, Edward III (1312-1377) and John of Eltham, earl of Cornwall (1316-1336).  Louis X, Philippe V and Charles IV fathered five sons between them who died young.  They were: King Jean I 'the Posthumous' of France, son of Louis and Clemence of Hungary, 15 November - 20 November 1316; Philippe (January 1313 - March 1321) and Louis (June 1316 to January 1317), sons of Philippe V and Jeanne of Burgundy; Philippe (January 1314 - March 1322), son of Charles IV and his first wife Blanche of Burgundy; and Louis, born and died March 1324, son of Charles IV and his second wife Marie of Luxembourg.  The three brothers also had nine daughters between them, but as women could not inherit the throne of France, it passed, on the death of Charles IV in 1328, to his first cousin Philippe VI, the first Valois king of France, son of Philippe IV's brother Charles, count of Valois (1270-1325).  Louis X's daughter, however, inherited the kingdom of Navarre, to which the Valois had no claim, and became Queen Jeanne II.  The last of the Capets, the dynasty which had ruled France since 987, were Philippe V's daughter Marguerite, countess of Burgundy, Artois, Flanders, Nevers and Rethel (d. 9 May 1382), and Charles IV's daughter Blanche, duchess of Orléans (d. 8 February 1382).  In 1314, Philippe IV must have assumed that the future of his dynasty was assured; he had three sons aged between twenty and twenty-five, all of them married, all of them already fathers.  He could hardly have guessed that a mere fourteen years later they would all be dead without surviving male issue and that his brother's descendants would rule in France in their place - or that his daughter's son Edward III of England some years later would claim the throne and begin the Hundred Years War.

I looked once at some distant ancestors of Edward II (see link above), and here are some of Isabella's:

- Isabella was the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Harold Godwinson, the king of England killed at Hastings in 1066.  Harold's daughter Gytha married, probably in the early 1070s or thereabouts, Vladimir Monomakh, grand prince of Kiev, and I can't be the only person fascinated as to how and why that marriage came about - that there was a connection between England and distant Kiev in the eleventh century.  Gytha and Vladimir had five sons together, the eldest, Mstislav, being Isabella's ancestor via his daughter Euphrosyne, who married King Geza II of Hungary.  Isabella's paternal grandmother Isabel of Aragon was the daughter of Yolande or Violante of Hungary, daughter of King Andras II.  And so, with Edward III, the blood of Harold Godwinson returned to the English royal family.

- Via her maternal grandmother Blanche of Artois, queen of Navarre and countess of Lancaster, Isabella was the great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Isaac Angelos, emperor of Byzantium (d. 1204) and of the Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa (d. 1190).

- Via both her parents, Isabella was the great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, both lines descended from Henry and Eleanor's second daughter Eleanor, queen of Castile and her daughter Blanche of Castile, queen of France.

- Isabella was, via their daughter Agnes, the great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Raynald de Châtillon, prince of Antioch (a character in the film Kingdom of Heaven and quite a few novels) and his wife Constance, who had previously been married to Eleanor of Aquitaine's uncle Raymond of Poitiers.  Raynald and Constance's daughter married Bela III of Hungary (son of Geza II and Euphrosyne of Kiev, mentioned above) and was the mother of Andras II.  Bela III married secondly, without issue, Marguerite, daughter of Louis VII of France and Constance of Castile, and widow of Henry the Young King.

To end the post, here are some of Edward II's first cousins:

Sancho IV, king of Castile
Beatriz, queen of Portugal
Margaret, queen of Norway
Arthur, duke of Brittany
Eleanor, abbess of Fontevrault
Marie, countess of St Pol
Beatriz, marchioness of Montferrat
Violante, lady of Biscay
Martin, abbot of Valladolid
Juan Manuel, duke of Peñafiel, one of the greatest medieval Spanish writers
Jean, count of Aumale

And some of Isabella of France's first cousins:

Catherine, titular empress of Constantinople, queen of Albania and princess of Achaea
Philippe VI, king of France
Isabelle, duchess of Brittany
Edward II's half-brothers Thomas of Brotherton, earl of Norfolk and Edmund of Woodstock, earl of Kent
Henry of Grosmont, first duke of Lancaster
Jeanne, countess of Hainault and Holland
Jeanne, countess of Artois
Isabelle, abbess of Fontevrault

24 October, 2012

Thomas, Earl Of Lancaster's Illegitimate Son

In which I speculate, maybe wildly and hilariously wrongly, about the identity of the mother of a canon of Lincoln whose father was a really rather important royally born nobleman of the early fourteenth century.

Illegitimate children.  Edward II had one (Adam).  So did Piers Gaveston (Amie).  So, perhaps, did Hugh Despenser the Younger, or perhaps his father the elder Despenser was Nicholas's father?  John de Warenne, earl of Surrey, had lots of them.  I've long wondered whether the Roger Damory mentioned in the 1330s and the Sir Nicholas Damory who had a long distinguished career in the fourteenth century were illegitimate sons of Roger Damory.  And Thomas, earl of Lancaster, Leicester and Derby (c. 1278 - 22 March 1322) also joined the club.  He had no children from his disastrous marriage to Alice de Lacy, and his heir was thus his younger brother Henry, but did however have an illegitimate son named John whose existence is recorded several decades after Thomas's execution, for instance in these letters from Pope Clement VI:

"To John de Lancastria, son of Thomas, earl of Lancaster, M.A. scholar of theology.  The like [provision of a canonry], at the request of his kinsman, king Edward [III], in Lincoln, notwithstanding that he has the church of Vyotoxather [Uttoxeter, Staffordshire]".  (Calendar of Papal Letters 1342-1362, p. 346, dated 4 Nones February 1350.)

And this is the really interesting one, bold mine: "To John de Lancastria, son of the late Thomas, earl of Lancaster, scholar of theology.  Extension of dispensation, at the request of king Edward, whose kinsman he is, on account of illegitimacy, he being the son of a married man and a spinster related in the third degree of kindred, so as to enable him to resign the church of Uxtoxather and accept any other benefice in its place, and hold the same together with any other benefices."  (Ibid., p. 357, same date.)

John of Lancaster is mentioned a few times in the 1350s and 1360s in papal letters and the chancery rolls as a canon of Salisbury and rector of Charing, and was still alive at Michaelmas 1375 [Calendar of Patent Rolls 1374-1377, p. 181].  An entry on the Patent Roll of December 1375 [Ibid., p. 216] mentions that one Alexander Nabelson killed John de Lancastre in self-defence.  I don't know for certain that it's the same John of Lancaster, Earl Thomas's son, however, as there were other men with the same name around at the time.  John, as the son of Earl Thomas, was a first cousin once removed of Edward III, as Edward's mother Isabella of France was Thomas's niece, and was also a second cousin of the king via the Edward II connection (Edward II and Thomas were first cousins).  The existence of Thomas of Lancaster's illegitimate son John and his parentage has been noted before, by Rosie Bevan and Douglas Richardson; it's not my discovery, I hasten to add!  Richardson has found plenty of references to John of Lancaster and mentions him in his book Plantagenet Ancestry, as well as another illegitimate son of Thomas, earl of Lancaster, also named Thomas - whether the younger Thomas was born of the same mother as John is unclear.

Given that John was still alive in the mid-1370s, it seems likely to me that he was born after about 1310, and, given that he was still doing his MA in 1350, perhaps born not long before Earl Thomas's execution in March 1322, when Thomas was in his early or mid-forties.  The most interesting point is the identity of John's mother.  The 'third degree of kindred' in canon law would mean Earl Thomas's second cousins, or second cousins once (or twice) removed.  The immediate problem with this is that Thomas's second cousins seem too highly born to have been his mistress and to have borne him a child, at least without a scandalised chronicler telling us about it.  For example, here are some of the women who were Thomas's second cousins:

- Marguerite, queen of England; Marguerite, queen of Navarre; Jeanne, queen of France; Catherine, titular empress of Constantinople; Margaret, Holy Roman Empress; Eleanor, queen of Sicily; Blanche, queen of Aragon; Marie, queen of Mallorca; Agnes, duchess of Brunswick; Blanche, duchess of Austria; Marguerite, countess of Namur; Blanche, countess of Auvergne; Blanche, countess of Savoy; Marie, countess of Savoy; Elisabeth, countess of Jülich; Elisabeth, burgrave of Nuremberg; Gwenllian, a nun; Anastasia, countess of Nola.

I think it's pretty safe to say that none of these women (or their sisters) is remotely likely to have borne Thomas of Lancaster a child out of wedlock, and given that Thomas spent his entire adult life in England, I think it's reasonable to assume that the mother of his son also lived in England.  Thomas's grandparents were Henry III, king of England; Eleanor of Provence, queen of England; Robert, count of Artois; Matilda of Brabant, countess of Artois.  Most of Thomas's second cousins, that is, the grandchildren of his grandparents' siblings (who, the siblings I mean, included Marguerite, queen of France, Isabella, Holy Roman Empress, Charles, king of Sicily, Marie, duchess of Bavaria and Louis IX, king of France), lived outside England, and it's highly unlikely that Thomas ever met them.  Given that the vast majority of Thomas's female second cousins were very highly born women on the continent whom he almost certainly never met, I think his mistress and John's mother must either herself have been illegitimate, or descended from an illegitimate line.  When looking for people who fit the bill - people who were second cousins of Earl Thomas, lived in England and were descended from an illegitimate child - the ones who immediately sprang to my mind were the descendants of Thomas's great-uncle Richard, earl of Cornwall and king of Germany (5 January 1209 - 2 April 1272), younger son of King John and Isabella of Angoulême, brother of Henry III, and uncle of Thomas's father Edmund, earl of Lancaster.

Richard of Cornwall had two legitimate sons who lived into adulthood (as well as a few other children who died young): Henry of Almain, son of Richard's first wife Isabella Marshal and born in 1235, who was murdered in Sicily by two of his de Montfort cousins in 1271; and Edmund, born in 1249 and the son of Richard's second wife Sanchia of Provence, who succeeded his father as earl of Cornwall in 1272 and died childless in 1300, leaving as his heir his first cousin Edward I, his nearest male relative.  Neither Henry of Almain nor Earl Edmund had any (legitimate) children, so Richard of Cornwall had no grandchildren to carry on his line, and in 1307 Edward II granted his earldom to Piers Gaveston.  Richard of Cornwall also had a number of illegitimate children; the list and most of the information given here come from Douglas Richardson's aforementioned and extremely helpful book Plantagenet Ancestry:

- Philip, a cleric, first mentioned in 1248.
- Richard, a knight killed at the siege of Berwick in 1296, who before 1281 married a woman named Joan, said to be a daughter of John Fitzalan, lord of Clun and Oswestry; Richard and Joan had three sons, Sir Edmund, Sir Geoffrey and a clerk named Richard, and a daughter Joan.  He is sometimes said to have been Richard of Cornwall's legitimate son by Sanchia of Provence, but wasn't.
- Sir Walter of Cornwall, of Brannel, Cornwall, who married a woman whose identity is uncertain and had a son William and a daughter Margaret, and died in 1313.  William had a son John; Margaret married James Peverell in about 1307 and had a son Hugh and a daughter Joan.
- Edmund of Cornwall, a valet in the household of Edward I and acknowledged by him as a kinsman (e.g. Calendar of Patent Rolls 1301-1307, p. 308).
- Geoffrey, granted land by Earl Edmund of Cornwall in the late 1290s.
- Richard, called 'our clerk and cousin' by Edward II (Calendar of Chancery Warrants 1244-1326, pp. 379, 386).
- Joan, who married Sir John Howard of Wigginhall, East Winch, Norfolk.
- Another Joan, who married 1) Richard Champernoune of Inswork, Cornwall, and had one son, Sir Richard, and 2) Sir Peter Fishacre, with no issue.  Joan was still alive in 1316.

The children of Richard of Cornwall's children would have been second cousins of Thomas of Lancaster (and their grandchildren would have been his second cousins once removed, which would also fit), and although they were still of reasonably high rank, it's far easier to imagine that one of them might have been his mistress than it is for one of his legitimately-born and descended relatives.  It also occurred to me that, although Richard's legitimate sons Henry of Almain and Edmund of Cornwall had no legitimate issue, it's not impossible that one of them had a child out of wedlock.  Henry was killed in 1271, six or seven years before Thomas of Lancaster was even born, so it's basically impossible that any daughter of his would have borne Thomas a child in the 1310s or early 1320s, however.  Other possible candidates for John of Lancaster's mother are the descendants of King John's illegitimate children, and John had a lot of illegitimate children - see here for an excellent list.  One of them, for instance, Richard, who married Rohese of Dover, had several children, and descendants alive in Edward II's time.  (This Richard, incidentally, not to be confused with his half-brother Richard, earl of Cornwall, was the great-grandfather of John de Strathbogie, earl of Atholl, executed by Edward I in 1306, and was also the ancestor of the lords of Berkeley.)  King John was Thomas of Lancaster's great-grandfather, and the grandchildren or great-grandchildren of John's illegitimate children would be related to Thomas within the third degree.

John de Warenne (1286-1347), the aforementioned earl of Surrey who had lots of illegitimate children - nine that I know of, including three daughters - was a second cousin of Thomas of Lancaster (they were both great-grandsons of Isabella of Angoulême), so his children would be in the required degree of kindred to Thomas.  I'm not sure if any illegitimate daughter of John's would have been old enough to have borne Thomas a child in or before 1322, though.  Other descendants of Isabella of Angoulême's Lusignan children were still alive in England in Edward II's reign.  One of Isabella's grandsons was Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke (c. 1270/75-1324), son of William de Valence, a Lusignan half-brother of Henry III, and thus a first cousin once removed of both Edward II and Thomas of Lancaster.  Aymer had no children by either of his two wives, Beatrice of Clermont-Nesle or Marie de St Pol, but is known to have had an illegitimate son named Henry, Thomas of Lancaster's second cousin.  Is it possible that Aymer had an illegitimate daughter as well?  Anyway, these are the possibilities that occurred to me, and probably there are other candidates for John of Lancaster's mother.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if there were other illegitimate second cousins of Earl Thomas of Lancaster whose existence has not been discovered.  Illegitimate children of this era are generally very obscure; even Edward II's son Adam doesn't appear on record until 1322 when he must have been at least twelve or thirteen, and Amie Gaveston first appears in 1332, when she must have been at least twenty.  The three illegitimate daughters of the earl of Surrey only appear in his 1346 will, to my knowledge, one of them already married and another already a nun.  And we see the same thing with John of Lancaster himself, whom we only hear about decades after his father's execution.

As I said, this is pure speculation and I could be completely wrong.  If you spot any flaws in my logic or arguments, please do feel free to point them out (I won't mind at all, honestly), and if you have anything to add about the possible identity of this mysterious woman, I'd love to hear it.  :-)  One thing I would dearly love to know is the identity of the mother of Edward II's illegitimate son Adam, but sadly I haven't the faintest idea, and it seems well nigh impossible that I could ever find out.  Ah, what a discovery that would be though...!

19 October, 2012

19 October 1330: Edward III's Arrest Of Roger Mortimer

Today marks the 682nd anniversary of Edward III's arrest of Roger Mortimer, earl of March and the real ruler of England for the previous four years, at Nottingham Castle.  Roger was subsequently executed at Tyburn on 29 November, and Edward - not quite eighteen at the time of the arrest - took over the governance of his own kingdom.  His mother Queen Isabella was placed under house arrest for a while, though spent Christmas with her son and daughter-in-law Queen Philippa (and presumably her six-month-old grandson Edward of Woodstock, future prince of Wales).  Henry, earl of Lancaster, Isabella's uncle and Edward II's cousin, supposedly threw his cap in the air with joy on hearing the news of Roger's arrest, and surely the rest of the kingdom was equally thrilled to hear the news.  Edward III and around two dozen young knights took advantage of a secret tunnel into Nottingham Castle to enter Isabella's apartments and capture Roger.

The story of Roger Mortimer's arrest, and Isabella's screaming to her son to have pity on her favourite, has been well recorded elsewhere,so I won't repeat it here; see Ian Mortimer's The Greatest Traitor and The Perfect King for dramatic accounts of the event.  (And my friend Sarah's blog post of today.)  Incidentally, I've sometimes seen people online presuming that Roger was arrested while in bed with Isabella, or otherwise alone and intimate with her, which is certainly not the case.  They were in fact in conference with the vanishingly small number of allies remaining to them, including Henry Burghersh, bishop of Lincoln, who humiliatingly and unsuccessfully tried to escape down a privy shaft, and Sir Hugh Turplington, who was killed trying to protect Roger.

Some of the young knights who supported and aided Edward III during his coup were later rewarded with earldoms: William Montacute, Salisbury; Robert Ufford, Suffolk; William Clinton, Huntingdon; Ralph Stafford, who was to abduct Hugh Audley and Margaret de Clare's daughter Margaret and marry her in 1336, who received the earldom of Stafford.  Among the other young men present were Edward III's first cousin Edward de Bohun, the earl of Hereford's brother; Thomas, Lord Berkeley's younger brother Sir Maurice Berkeley and his (Thomas's) household retainer Thomas de Bradeston, which begs the question if Lord Berkeley knew of the impending downfall of Roger Mortimer, his father-in-law; John Molyns, formerly a retainer of Hugh Despenser the Younger; Robert Walkfare, imprisoned as a Contrariant by Edward II in 1322, who escaped from Corfe Castle by killing a porter.

Edward III took advantage of certain favourable conditions, i.e. the secret tunnel, at Nottingham Castle in order to effect the arrest of Roger Mortimer, so the attack was planned pretty spontaneously, but he had clearly been planning some kind of move against Roger and his mother for some time - it was extremely difficult for him, however, to do so, as Roger and Isabella had spies in his household and he could hardly go and raise an army against them without them noticing.  In 1329, he had sent his friend William Montacute to Pope John XXII with a letter bearing the code words Pater Sancte (Holy Father) in his own hand, so that the pope would recognise in future which letters came from him personally rather than ones sent in his name by his mother and Roger, and it is hardly a coincidence that the king had a couple of dozen or so young knights close to him and loyal to him who he knew he could count on to support him in a coup.

Roger Mortimer's son Geoffrey, who earlier that year had mocked his father as the 'king of folly', was also arrested on 19 October 1330, but was mainperned on 22 January 1331, and granted a safe-conduct to leave England on 16 March*.  Also arrested with Roger were Sir Oliver Ingham, formerly Edward II's steward of Gascony, who was also soon released and pardoned, on 8 December 1330**, and Sir Simon Bereford, an oddly obscure figure who was nevertheless convicted of aiding Roger Mortimer in "all his treasons, felonies and wicked deeds" and executed shortly before Christmas 1330.  (See here for more information on him.)  Roger Mortimer was dragged to his execution on 29 November wearing the black tunic he'd had made new for Edward II's funeral in Gloucester in December 1327; someone, presumably Edward III himself, remembered the tunic three years later and forced Roger to wear it.

* Calendar of Close Rolls 1330-1333, pp. 178, 297; Calendar of Patent Rolls 1330-1334, p. 87.  Nine men stood as mainpernors for Geoffrey.  Presumably he left for France, where he owned lands.
** Calendar of Patent Rolls 1330-1334, p. 22: "Pardon to Oliver de Ingham, in consideration of service to the late king and the king in the duchy of Aquitaine, for his adherence to Roger de Mortuo Mari, earl of March, the king's enemy; and restitution of his lands and goods..."

The day after the arrest, 20 October, Edward III issued the following proclamation:

"Whereas the king's affairs and the affairs of his realm have been directed until now to the damage and dishonour of him and his realm and to the impoverishment of his people, as he has well perceived and as the facts prove*, wherefore he has, of his own knowledge and will, caused certain persons to be arrested, to wit the earl of La Marche [i.e. Roger Mortimer], Sir Oliver de Ingham, and Sir Simon de Bereford, who have been principal movers of the said affairs, and he wills that all men shall know that he will henceforth govern his people according to right and reason, as befits his royal dignity**, and that the affairs that concern him and the estate of his realm shall be directed by the common counsel of the magnates of the realm and in no other wise...".  [Calendar of Close Rolls 1330-1333, pp. 158-9]

* Edward II had left around £60,000 in his treasury in November 1326, swelled by the forfeitures of the Despensers and the earl of Arundel to almost £80,000.  After four years of Roger Mortimer and Isabella of France's rule, a mere twelve pounds was left.
** The fourteen charges against Roger Mortimer at the November 1330 parliament clearly demonstrate the young king's fury that someone of non-royal birth had used, and abused, his own royal power to enrich himself.

After more than twenty years of Edward II's disastrous, divisive rule and the equally disastrous regime of his wife and her favourite, I can only imagine that Edward III's subjects were delighted to hear this proclamation, and hoped for better times in the future.  Today, incidentally, also marks the anniversary of the death of Roger's seventy-year-old widow Joan Geneville, Lady Mortimer and dowager countess of March, in 1356.  I like and admire Joan a great deal, and it's such a shame that she's been so hard done by in many modern works of fiction and non-fiction, painted - if she's even mentioned at all - as a sexless, boring, fat, nagging nonentity understandably thrown over by her husband in favour of the gorgeous, glamorous, sexy queen.

14 October, 2012


Only a quick post today, I'm afraid, as I've just come back from holiday and haven't had time to write a proper one yet.

My friend Colin now has a website about Eleanor Fitzalan, Lady Percy (c. 1284-1328), daughter of Richard Fitzalan, earl of Arundel (d. 1302), sister of the earl executed in 1326, and wife and mother of two of the long line of Henry, Lord Percies.  Best of luck to Colin with his excellent and extremely well-researched site and his novel about Eleanor, and thanks to him for the lovely mention and links to my blog!

Inaccuracies and weirdnesses spotted online lately:

"Piers even sat closer to Edward than his own bride (the then thirteen year old Isabella of France) at their wedding!"  Nope; Edward and Isabella married in Boulogne on 25 January 1308, and Piers, who remained in England as regent, was 80 miles away in Kent at the time.

"The marriage was purely political, both Edward II and Philip IV had hoped it would create a friendship between England and France; Isabella and Edward were not in love."  Whereas every other royal couple of the Middle Ages married purely for love and it had nothing at all to do with political alliances, obviously. *rolls eyes*

"It takes Edward 4 years to consummate the marriage and Isabeau quickly becomes pregnant. It is clear the King is doing his duty, nothing more."  Because obviously it would have been vastly preferable for Edward II to have had regular intercourse with a girl of twelve or thirteen and forced her to go through pregnancy and childbirth at that age.  Do these moaners even think a tiny little bit about the implications of what they're saying?  Do they ever even bother to try to see things from Edward's perspective, that having to marry a very young girl he'd never met before and trying to build a relationship with her possibly wasn't a walk in the park for him either?  Has there ever been any other man in history so often criticised for not having sex with a twelve-year-old, even one who was, according to her modern-day fans, officially The Most Beautiful And Intelligent Pre-Pubescent In All Europe?  How do they know Edward only 'did his duty, nothing more'?  Do they have a webcam set up in his bedchamber?

"....Isabeau, daughter of Philip IV of France, marrying Edward II of England, who is quite obviously bored by the whole affair and disinterested in his 13 year-old bride...".  Isabella was almost certainly twelve at marriage, actually.  And yeah, let's all continue to point the finger at those men in their twenties who are uninterested (not 'disinterested'; that means something different) in pre-pubescent girls, those sick weird bastards.

"...like other girls of her station in that age, [Isabella] was little more than a pawn on a political chessboard."  I am so completely beyond bored with all this yawn, I mean pawn, nonsense.  Why is it only ever applied to women?  It's not like Edward II had the slightest choice in who he married either.  He was only five years old when his father arranged his betrothal to the young Margaret of Norway, queen of Scotland, and over the years was betrothed to various other girls in alliances that suited Edward I's political needs at the time; I have yet to see anyone whine about 'poor Edward, little more than a pawn on his father's political chessboard'.  Not that I'd want them to, of course, as it would be ridiculous, but this whole 'royal and noble women (but not men) of the Middle Ages were nothing but tragic helpless pawns whose heartless fathers arranged marriages for them even though they weren't in luuuurrrve, oh woes' notion is becoming a really tedious cliché.

"Edward's murder was by ordered of his wife, Isabella of France, to ensure the succession of his son Edward III."  I'd love to see the evidence for the statement that Isabella did any such thing, except - of course! - there isn't any.  Edward II's death supposedly took place in September 1327, a full nine months after his son's succession, which was already 'ensured'.

Some of the comments left on the post directly above, which also stated the red-hot poker myth as fact:

"There is also rumor that at the Death bed of his father, (Edward the first) Isabella of France, his wife, announces that son, Edward the third belongs to William Wallace."  Words. Fail. Me.  I have fantasies about burying every last copy of That Film in a deep hole on Jupiter and wiping all awareness of it from the memories of humankind for the rest of eternity.

"Lord, no wonder we rebelled in the colonies."  Hmmmm, yes, I'm sure events of the 1770s were directly related to the deposition and supposed murder of a king of England 450 years previously.  ("Never mind all this taxation without representation stuff, friends, have you heard what those savages allegedly did back in 1327?  We've got to get rid of them right now!")

"The poker story is Not a myth."  Stated with such certainty that this person (who also wrote the 'death bed' comment above) must surely have been present in the room at Berkeley Castle on 21 September 1327, or at least has that webcam up and running.  And what's With the Random capitalisation?

Somewhat bizarrely, someone posted a link to my site on an article called 'The term obstinate child is a racist dog whistle' - near the bottom of the comments section, dated 10 October, with the statement 'This site will debunk all the myths about “gay Edward and William Wallace’s time-traveling sperm”.'   Well, I certainly try.  A few weeks ago someone linked to my site in the comments section of an article in The Telegraph.  It does get around.  ;-)  It was also linked on a Russian forum recently - actually, I get quite a few hits from Russian sites, and Russia is always in the top seven countries where my blog visitors come from (*waves hello at Russian readers*) - and when I ran what was written there through Google Translate, I got "Some Brits still can not move vilify the memory of the Monarch. Befitted a migrant-occupier, edyaschemu English bread and butter, distribute new homeland defamatory rumors." Ummm, OK then.  ;-)

Visitors to my blog.  No Edward II fans in Madagascar, Greenland, Tierra del Fuego, the Horn of Africa or most of Siberia then. How disappointing.
Some recent blog searches (not many as I've hardly been online lately to check them):

queen isabella naked pics

every time you cus a kitten kills a man

who was the edward who killed his father that was edward?

gay film robin hood

did edward ii and robin hood have sex

did isabella love edward the second?  

did king edward ii have gout

edward iii not edward ii 

was edward of france gay

was the son of edward 2 a bastard

03 October, 2012

October Anniversaries

This will be the last post until mid-October or thereabouts, as I'm on holiday.  ;-) 

1 October 1310: Edward II bestowed two more appointments on Piers Gaveston: he made him constable of Nottingham Castle and justice of the forest north of the Trent.  According to the preliminary Ordinances (reforms of the king's household) issued in March that year, Edward was meant to get the assent of the Ordainers when making appointments and gifts, but hadn't for these two. The king's grants to Piers and his removal of the Exchequer and King's Bench from London to York "much disturbed and outraged" the Ordainers, and "many fear evil," according to an anonymous letter-writer.

1 October 1313: Pope Clement V appointed Walter Reynolds as archbishop of Canterbury, thanks in large part (according to several chroniclers) to Edward II's bribes; Flores Historiarum and Vita Edwardi Secundi both say that "a large amount of gold and silver" passed between king and pope, and the Bridlington chronicler puts the amount at 32,000 marks.  The author of the Flores was emphatically not a fan of Reynolds, and says that he was practically illiterate and indulged in "immoderate filthiness of lust."  Given that Pope John XXII thanked Reynolds in 1317 for translating one of his letters from Latin into French for Edward II, the charge of illiteracy was not accurate, at least. (Flores, also definitely not a fan of Edward II, condemned the king's "infamy and illicit bed, full of sin," whatever that is a reference to.)

1 October 1323: Exactly two months after Roger Mortimer escaped from the Tower of London, Edward learned that he had sought refuge with his kinsmen the Fiennes brothers in Ponthieu, Edward's own county.

2 October 1326: A few days after hearing of the arrival of Roger Mortimer and Isabella's invasion force, Edward left London, realising that he could not hold a city which was hostile to him.  He left the Tower under the command of his beloved niece Eleanor Despenser.

3 October 1315: The chancellor of England (John Sandall) informed Edward of the plight of the port of Berwick-on-Tweed a few months after the start of the Great Famine: "The town is in great straits, and many dying from hunger.  If the mayor and himself had not promised them food and clothing for the winter, the garrison would have gone."  Two days later the warden (Maurice, future Lord Berkeley) also sent an anguished letter to Edward saying that the town and inhabitants "never were in such distress" and that it would get worse in winter "if God and the king do not think more of them."  Berkeley continued for the next few months to inform Edward of the dreadful hunger and suffering in Berwick, ending one letter with "Pity to see Christians leading such a life."  A few of the garrison, men-at-arms and footmen, set out into Scotland to try to find food and were attacked on their way back and eighty killed or captured, including Raymond Caillau, probably a cousin of Piers Gaveston.

5 October 1317: Thomas, earl of Lancaster's retainer John Lilburn seized Knaresborough Castle in Yorkshire, which had once belonged to Piers Gaveston and was now in the hands of Edward's court favourite Roger Damory.  A month later Lancaster also forcibly gained possession of Alton Castle in Staffordshire, also in Damory's custody; aggrieved by Damory's influence over the king and the favourite's hostility towards himself, Lancaster had determined to attack him.  John Lilburn finally surrendered Knaresborough to Edward II on 29 January 1318.

6 October 1310: Edward sent a very aggrieved letter to the abbey of Burton-on-Trent, who had refused his request to take in his former knight Thomas de Banbury for the rest of his life and informed him that they did not have the means to do so as "theirs is the poorest and smallest abbey of their order in England."  Edward sent someone to investigate their accounts, and wrote that their response "deviates in many ways from the truth, and he learns that they have means to fulfil his request, wherefore he regards their excuse as wholly insufficient."  I love that phrase "Your excuse deviates in many ways from the truth."  :-)

6 October 1314: A little under four months after his defeat at Bannockburn, Edward sent envoys to negotiate a truce between England and Scotland, declaring that he had had a letter from Robert Bruce saying that "the one thing in the world he [Robert] desires most is to have complete accord and friendship with us."

6 October 1315: In the middle of a month's holiday swimming and rowing in the Fens with "a great concourse of common people," during which he fell into a river and had to be hauled out by his companions, Edward II visited the famous shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham.

 6 October 1320: Opening of parliament in Westminster, during which the bishop of Worcester informed the pope and Cardinal Vitale Dufour that Edward II "in the parliament summoned to London bore himself splendidly, with prudence and discretion, contrary to his former habit rising early and presenting a nobler and pleasant countenance to prelates and lords. Present almost every day in person, he arranged what business was to be dealt with, discussed and determined."

6 October 1325: Edward's half-brother Edmund of Woodstock, earl of Kent, received permission from Pope John XXII to marry Margaret Wake.  This marriage resulted in four children and their grandson Richard II.

 8 October 1311: Edward issued a safe-conduct for Piers Gaveston, then still in Scotland as far as I know, to come to London, where parliament had just ordered his exile for the third time.  It had taken Edward six weeks to agree to it, and only after the Ordainers informed him that if he didn't agree, "the kingdom would be in turmoil and peace driven out of the land…considering also how ruthless and perilous would be the struggle between the king and his barons, that the desolation of the whole land would ensue, that amid the varying fortunes of war the capture of the king could hardly be avoided…he might through imprudence be deprived of his throne and his kingdom."

9 October 1325: 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.

12 October 1312: A Welsh minstrel of the earl of Pembroke, whose name is recorded as 'Coghin', performed at Windsor Castle for Edward II and presumably, though she isn't mentioned, the eight-months-pregnant Isabella.

12 October 1313: Edward wrote to several influential people including the Byzantine Emperor Andronikus Palaiologos and his (Edward's) first cousin once removed "the most serene lady, and his dearest lady in Christ" the Empress Eirene, born Yolande of Montferrat, asking them to help secure the release of Sir Giles Argentein, an English knight captured and imprisoned in Thessalonika.

13 October 1307: Edward II opened his first parliament as king, at Northampton.  The parliament sat only until the 16th, its aims to make arrangements for Edward I's funeral, Edward II's coronation, and his wedding to Isabella.

14 October 1318: Battle of Faughart in County Louth, during which the Anglo-Irish nobleman John de Bermingham defeated Robert Bruce's sole surviving brother Edward, who had had himself crowned High King of Ireland in 1315, and killed him.  Bermingham sent the head of Edward Bruce - who had been named in honour of Edward I and had lived for a while in the household of Edward of Caernarfon before he became king - to Edward II, who made him earl of Louth in gratitude.  (I really hope Edward II's friend Donald of Mar, Edward Bruce's nephew, didn't have to see his head.)  Bermingham was a son-in-law of Richard de Burgh, earl of Ulster, as were Edward II's nephew the earl of Gloucester and Robert Bruce.

14 October 1322: Battle of Byland in Yorkshire; Edward II's forces defeated by the army of Robert Bruce and its commander, Edward's first cousin the earl of Richmond, captured.  Edward, staying at nearby Rievaulx Abbey, was humiliatingly forced to flee to the coast to avoid being captured himself, and left most of his possessions behind.

15 October 1311: Edward granted a safe-conduct to Louis, count of Nevers and Rethel, visiting England (this is the only record I know of concerning this visit).  Louis, who was about a dozen years older than Edward and then in his late thirties, had attended the king's wedding to Isabella in January 1308 with his father Robert de Béthune, count of Flanders.

15 October 1311: An odd entry on the Patent Roll concerning Robert Bruce's nephew Donald of Mar: "Writ of aid, until Martinmas, for Thomas de Langehulle, king's yeoman, from whose custody Ralph de Thedmershe and Oliver son of Peter de Parva Hasele have removed Douenald de Mar, son and heir of the late earl of Mar in Scotland. He is to arrest them and to conduct them and Douenald to Westminster before the Council."  Donald had already been freed from Bristol Castle and joined Edward II's household by then, and remained faithful to the king until the end of his reign and long afterwards.

15 October 1325: Edward was forced to apologise to Don Pedro Lopez de Luna, archbishop of Zaragoza and primate of Spain, for the failure of the king's envoys to Aragon (they were there to negotiate a marriage between one of his children and one of Jaime II's) to "present themselves to the archbishop or communicate their business to him."  Edward declared himself "annoyed" at their tactless error.

15 October 1326: Murder of Edward's ally Walter Stapeldon, bishop of Exeter and former treasurer of England, beheaded at Cheapside with a butcher's knife by a mob who sent his head to Queen Isabella at Gloucester and threw his body to dogs.  At least two of the bishop's attendants were killed with him.  Not that anything could be a consolation for such a terrible fate, of course, but at least Stapeldon's 1314 foundation at Oxford, Exeter College, still exists, and his name is remembered 700 years later.

16 October 1307: Edward sent a letter to "the most excellent prince, Dolgietus, illustrious king of the Tartars," otherwise known as Oljeitu or Mohammed Khodabandeh, great-great-great-grandson of Genghis Khan and ruler of the Il-Khanate, the part of the Mongol Empire which consisted of modern-day Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Armenia and parts of Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan.  The letter made reference to the ambassadors Oljeitu had sent to England (and to France and the pope) seeking an alliance against the Mamluks, and informed him of the death of Edward I.

16 October 1325: Edward asked the pope to grant dispensations for his children Eleanor of Woodstock  (aged seven) and Edward of Windsor (aged nearly thirteen) to marry Alfonso XI of Castile (aged fourteen) and his sister Leonor, they being second cousins once removed.

19 October 1330: Edward III, not quite eighteen years old, arrested Roger Mortimer at Nottingham Castle, and thereafter took over the rule of his kingdom.

19 October 1356: On the twenty-sixth anniversary of her husband's arrest, Roger's seventy-year-old widow Joan Geneville, dowager countess of March, died.  She outlived all but four (Katherine, Agnes, Geoffrey and Beatrice) of her twelve children.

20 October 1312: Edward granted Isabella permission to make her will; as a married woman she needed her husband's consent to do this, and as her pregnancy was nearing full-term and she was facing childbirth for the first time (Edward III was born on 13 November) she must have thought, as did many other pregnant women, that making her will just in case was a good idea.

20 October 1318: Appointment of Bartholomew, Lord Badlesmere as steward of Edward II's household, replacing William Montacute, who became steward of Gascony.  Badlesmere joined the Marcher rebellion against Edward in 1321/22 and suffered the traitor's death in April 1322, poor man.

20 October 1324: Opening of parliament in London. Edward II's opening address, delivered in French, is the only one of his parliamentary speeches to survive. He began "Lords, I have shown you certain things which concern the crown which have come under debate, as one who is your chief and who has the sovereign keeping of it, and as one who is ready to maintain the crown in all its rights...".

22 October 1311: Piers Gaveston, ordered to leave England by 1 November, was given letters of protection for five years, and appointed four attorneys (William Vallibus, Roger Wellesworthe, Robert Kendale, future warden of the Cinque Ports, and John Hothum, future bishop of Ely and treasurer and chancellor of England) for the same length of time.

23 October 1321: Edward granted custody of his great seal to Queen Isabella, demonstrating his enormous trust in her.

23 October 1323: Edward visited Liverpool, which had been founded by his great-grandfather King John (youngest brother of my lovely friend Kasia's beloved Henry the Young King :) in 1207, for the only time in his reign, staying for four days.  He paid a ferryman two shillings to take himself and part of his household across the Mersey from the Wirral peninsula.

24 October 1311: In the middle of his anguish over losing Piers Gaveston yet again, Edward found time to remember the Dominican priory at Langley he had founded three years earlier, and granted the house fifty pounds a year on top of the hundred pounds annually he had already given them.

26 October 1320: Edward took the South Wales Marcher lordship of Gower into his own hands, almost certainly intending to grant it to Hugh Despenser the Younger, his chamberlain who had by now achieved a position of supreme influence over the malleable king.

26 October 1321: Edward arrived at Bartholomew Badlesmere's castle of Leeds in Kent to besiege it as punishment for Badlesmere's wife Margaret de Clare refusing to allow Queen Isabella to enter it a couple of weeks before - the first stage of the king's and Hugh Despenser the Younger's cunning plan to get the Despensers back to England and get revenge on the men who had banished them. The castle garrison surrendered on 31 October; thirteen of them were hanged shortly afterwards.

27 October 1307: The funeral of Edward I took place at Westminster Abbey, three months and twenty days after his death. Edward II spent £100 on horses for knights to ride in the procession, and gave 100 marks to be distributed to the poor and two pounds to William Attefenne, sumpter-man, "for the great labour he sustained in providing torches and leather for the body of the deceased king."  Edward I was buried with his first wife Eleanor of Castile and his father Henry III in the chapel of St Edward the Confessor, after whom he was named.

27 October 1312: Death in Brussels of Edward II's brother-in-law Duke John II of Brabant, at the age of only thirty-seven.  John was succeeded by his only child with Edward's sister Margaret, twelve-year-old John III, who would grow up to father six legitimate children and eighteen or twenty illegitimate ones.

27 October 1326: Execution of the sixty-five-year-old Hugh Despenser the Elder, earl of Winchester, in Bristol on the orders of Roger Mortimer and Isabella of France.  (No, I don't believe the chronicle written 200 miles away in Bury St Edmunds which claims that Isabella pleaded for Despenser's life but was publicly overruled by Mortimer, Henry of Lancaster and so on.)  Despenser was hanged in his armour, his body fed to dogs and his head carried to Winchester on a spear for public display.

31 October 1322: The Brut chronicle and the Sempringham annals record that "the sky was of a colour like blood" or that "the sun turned to blood" from Terce to Vespers (nine a.m. to sunset) or even until eleven p.m.