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.


Satima Flavell said...

Kathryn, your research skills are incredible!

Kathryn Warner said...

Aww, thank you, Satima!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Kathryn! Thank you for smuggling me and Henry into Edward's October whereabouts:-)I'm honoured that my name has been linked with John's foundation. BTW, my birthday, being the day when John died in 1217, is also- as I have just found out- the very day when Edward III captured Roger Mortimer:-)

Fascinating post. As always! I have already learned quite a lot via one of the links you have included. Eleanor Despenser lived a truly eventful life:-)I must read The Traitor's Wife one day (God knows when; I'm so terribly busy that I can hardly find time to finish my latest text)

Kasia Ogrodnik

Anonymous said...

Edward's swimming and rowing in the Fens adventure, and his letter to the most excellent Dolgietus are both delightful little nuggets of information:-)

Kasia Ogrodnik

Kathryn Warner said...

You're most welcome, Kasia! :) (Sorry for delay in replying, by the way - I'm away and only have limited internet access). Ah, I'd forgotten the date of John's death, so thanks for reminding me - and what a great anniversary in 1330 to share your birthday with! :) :)

I hope you enjoy Traitor's Wife - yes, Eleanor's life was remarkably eventful! And I really love Edward going swimming with a large group of his subjects. That is soooo Edward. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Kathryn! The image of Edward happily swimming with the common people of his realm makes me smile. Just think of those who had chance to splash their God anointed king with water. There must have been stories by the fireplace circulating in their families for the next few generations!

That's the most charming and disarming thing I have ever read or heard about a king. Truly! Even Henry the Young King's Christ-like miracle of turning stream water into wine is no match to Edward's most'subversive'deed:-)

Enjoy your holiday!

Kasia Ogrodnik

Anerje said...

A very busy month for Edward! Plenty Piers-related as well:> Bit chilly to go swimming in October, surely? Brrrr! I like his reply to the abbey at Burton-on-Trent - I expect they were trying to squeeze some money out of him!