17 May, 2013

Friday Facts

A post with some random and interesting facts about Edward II, his life and his family.  :-)

- Edward's mother Eleanor of Castile was half-Spanish and half-French, the daughter of Fernando III, king of Castile and Leon and Joan, countess of Ponthieu.  Eleanor was one of fifteen siblings, ten of them from her father's first marriage to Beatriz of Swabia: eleven boys and four girls.  As two of her sisters died in infancy and the third became a nun, Eleanor was the only daughter of Fernando III to marry and have children.

- Edward's father Edward I had fair hair in his youth which darkened as he grew older.  Manuscript illustrations of Edward II also depict him with fair hair.  He doesn't seem to have inherited the drooping eyelid of his father and grandfather Henry III, however, or at least no source mentions that he did.

- Edward II's parents must have been much on his mind in late 1315: 28 November was the twenty-fifth anniversary of Eleanor of Castile's death and he paid seventy Dominican friars thirty-five shillings to "perform divine service" to mark the date, and also gave five pounds to one Nicholas Percy around the same time to make a book about the life and times of his father Edward I for him.

- Edward spent much time near the end of his reign, with a few favoured companions and servants, at a cottage within the precincts of Westminster Abbey called Borgoyne (Burgundy), which had a garden, ditches around it, and its own keeper.  Presumably the king felt more comfortable there than at his many castles and palaces in and around London.

- Two of Edward's noble companions in childhood were Eleanor de Burgh, one of the many daughters of his and his father's ally Richard de Burgh, earl of Ulster, and Maud Chaworth, elder half-sister of Hugh Despenser the Younger.

- Edward had at least sixteen siblings and half-siblings, of whom only seven in addition to himself survived childhood: Eleanor, countess of Bar; Joan, countess of Gloucester; Margaret, duchess of Brabant; Mary, a nun; Elizabeth, countess of Holland and Hereford; Thomas, earl of Norfolk; Edmund, earl of Kent.

- On 29 January 1312, shortly after Piers Gaveston's return from his third exile, Edward gave a pound each to his minstrels Peter Duzedeys, Roger the Trumpeter and Janin the Nakerer for performing for him.  A few days later, he gave a massive two pounds to William, a minstrel sent to him by his brother-in-law Louis, king of Navarre, the future Louis X of France.

- On her way to meet Edward in the north at this time, Queen Isabella sent him a basket of lampreys via her messenger John Moigne.

- Edward's Household Ordinance of 6 December 1318 is the second oldest in existence in England, after one of his father's dating to 1279.

- The Polychronicon of the monk Ranulph Higden, written around 1350, describes Edward II as "bountiful and splendid in living."  Higden also wrote that Edward "forsook the company of lords, and fraternised with harlots, singers, actors, carters, ditchers, oarsmen, sailors, and others who practise the mechanical arts."  Much evidence from Edward's household accounts bears this allegation out.
- In 1305, Edward sent a letter to his kinswoman Agnes de Valence, rather poignantly calling her "our good mother" and promising that he would do whatever he could for her, "as a son who would gladly do and procure whatever could turn to your profit and honour."

- Edward's chief huntsman was called William Twyt or Twici, who wrote a French treatise called Le Art de Venerie around 1320; the earliest text on hunting written in England, it opens "Here begins the art of hunting, which Master William Twici, huntsman of the king of England, made in his time to instruct others."

- On his way to York in November 1322, Edward stayed at Thorne near Doncaster, where he gave two shillings each to ten fishermen "who fished in the king's presence and took great pike, great eels and a large quantity of other fish." A John Waltham gave him two salmon.

- During the Great Famine in 1315, according to the Vita Edwardi Secundi, a brave cleric told Edward's confessor that "our king as he passes through the country takes men's goods and pays little or nothing or badly…the inhabitants used to rejoice to see the face of the king when he came, but now, because the king's approach injures the people, his departure gives them much pleasure and as he goes off they pray that he may never return."  Perhaps with this in mind, the 1318 Household Ordinance ordered the household purchasers to "make their purchases in proper manner, to the great profit of the king and at minimal grievance to the people."


Sami Parkkonen said...

Cabin in Westminister Abbey grounds? Sounds like our king had finally decided to play around and live the way he liked.

Katarzyna Ogrodnik-Fujcik said...

Kathryn, who was Agnes de Valence? Do we know anything more about her, except the fact she was the adressee of Edawrd's letter and his kinswoman?

Kathryn Warner said...

Sami, isn't that just sooooo Edward? I found a great ref in his chamber account of July 1326 to 26 men digging the ditches around Burgundy 'in the king's presence'. Ohh yeah ;)

Kasia, she was the great-granddaughter of the great William Marshal, earl of Pembroke. ;) Her father William de Valence was Henry III's half-brother, and her mother was Joan de Munchensi, daughter of William's daughter Joan. :)

Katarzyna Ogrodnik-Fujcik said...

Thank you Kathryn for the explanation! Recently I've been coming across Will Marshal popping out from virtually everywhere :-) which is great, actually! At least I don't complain.

Great article!

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Kasia! I also like that Will is popping up all over the place! :)

Anerje said...

A king living in a cottage - have to say, sounds very Edward:)

Kathryn Warner said...

Sooooo Edward, haha! :)

Sami Parkkonen said...

If Eddie had only known about the finnish sauna I bet there would've been one right next to that royal cottage. And that would've been VERY Edward indeed! :-D

Kathryn Warner said...

Most definitely! :-D

Carla said...

It's curious about the apparently inherited drooping eyelid, isn't it? If I remember rightly, Edith Pargeter in the Brothers of Gwynedd Quartet has Samson notice it and remark on it, drawing a parallel with shifty behaviour on the part of both kings, as if they were deliberately half-closing their eyes to some of the dodgy things they did or condoned. So if Edward II didn't inherit it, maybe Samson would have considered that it meant he wasn't a hypocrite.

Kathryn Warner said...

Interesting, Carla, thanks!

Gabriele Campbell said...

Lol yeah, a good day for Ed would have looked like this: doing some work on his cottage, have a nice swim, go to the sauna, and in the evening listen to minstrels and drink good wine. And to hell with those barons. :-)

Kathryn Warner said...

Sounds exactly right, Gabriele! :)