Anniversaries in Edward II Land this week:
- 1 December 1319: According to the Sempringham annalist, "there was a general earthquake in England, with great sound and much noise." On the same day, Edward granted powers to four men to make a truce with Robert Bruce. Robert confirmed it on the 22nd.
- 1 December 1325: Edward wrote to Isabella, then in Paris refusing to return to him until Hugh Despenser was removed from his side. This is the last (known) letter he ever sent to his wife.
- 4 December 1307: Edward II wrote to the kings of Sicily, Castile, Portugal and Aragon, telling them that he believed the charges of his soon-to-be father-in-law Philip IV of France and Pope Clement V against the Knights Templar were nothing more than "the slanders of ill-natured men, who are animated…with a spirit of cupidity and envy," asking them to remember the Templars' devotion, honesty and long service to the Christian faith, and saying that belief in the accusations was "hardly to be entertained."
- 6 December 1318: the leading members of Edward II's household - Bartholomew Badlesmere, steward; Hugh Despenser the Younger, chamberlain; Roger Northburgh, treasurer; Gilbert Wigton, controller of the Wardrobe - created a Household Ordinance, the second oldest extant in England.
- 10 December 1307: Edward wrote to Clement V with reference to the Templars, saying that he had heard "a rumour of infamy, a rumour indeed full of bitterness, terrible to think of, horrible to hear, and detestable in wickedness" and declaring that "we are unable to believe in suspicious stories of this kind until we know with greater certainty about these things."
We are told that Isabella "was a slender, pale-skinned blonde with sparkling blue eyes and a full mouth." No source records Isabella’s appearance, other than that she was very beautiful. This account, presented as fact, is pure fiction. We have no idea whether her hair was blonde or black or chestnut brown or auburn, whether she was slender or plump, short or tall, pale-skinned or darker, whether she had blue or green or hazel or brown eyes.
"Like the female progeny of all the Royal Households of Europe, Isabella was a pawn in the Affairs of State and whilst still an infant she was betrothed to the future King Edward II of England. The sexual proclivities of the older Edward were already being questioned and it was early suggested that the marriage would be neither happy nor fruitful."
I am so, soooooo bored with this endless, stupid 'pawn' business to describe royal and noble women in the Middle Ages. Edward II had no choice about marrying Isabella either, and was first betrothed in the interests of his father's foreign policy when he was only five, but no-one calls him a 'pawn', do they? No-one calls their son Edward III a 'pawn' because Isabella used him to make an alliance with Hainault in the summer of 1326. No-one suggested beforehand that Edward and Isabella’s marriage would not be happy or fruitful, and although her uncles who attended her and Edward's coronation were supposedly angry at the king's preferential treatment of Piers Gaveston there, any comments that Edward and Isabella's marriage was therefore doomed (doomed, I tell you, dooooooomed!) were written with hindsight many years later. They had four children together. How was their marriage not fruitful? As I've suggested before (and here), their relationship was for many years far more successful than is commonly supposed. And finally, I wonder who exactly was already 'questioning' Edward of Caernarfon's 'sexual proclivities' as early as 1299 when he was only fifteen, and where were they doing this?
"...Edward adored the gowns just not on her. Her jewellery he gave away to his favourite Piers Gaveston who proceeded to wear as much of it as possible whenever he was in her presence. She was humbled and humiliated time and time again particularly as her husband took a string of low-born male lovers. She hated the way he openly flaunted his homosexuality, the hugging and kissing in public displays of affection, the dancing with young men or balancing them on his knee at banquets."
"On 3 April, 1327, Edward was removed in secret from Kenilworth to the more remote Berkeley Castle near Gloucester. A few months later Isabella was heard to remark “Edwardum occidere nolite timere bonum est” (Do not be afraid to kill Edward, it is good). According to Sir Thomas More what happened next was unequivocal in its brutality:
“On the night of 11 October while lying on his bed (the King) was suddenly seized and while a great mattress held him down and suffocated him, a plumbers iron, heated intensely hot, was introduced through a tube into his private parts so it burned the inner parts of his intestines.”
A hot rod pushed up his rectum was a truly horrible and painful way for Edward to die, but the insertion of a tube ensuring there would be no marks guaranteed that for Isabella and Mortimer it was a clean death. It was a death that had been designed specifically for him by a vengeful Queen, a punishment she felt befitted his crime."
And of course it just wouldn't be the internet if we didn't see the 2329546th variation of the feeble old joke about gay kings really being 'queens': "A gay royal would give a great deal of humor to "God save the queen."" Ba-doom-tish! Give that person an originality prize!