12 January, 2014

January Anniversaries

Edward II-related things which happened in January.

1 January 1317: Pope John XXII wrote to both Edward II and Robert Bruce to confirm a two-year truce between them, addressing Edward as "our dearest son in Christ, Edward, illustrious king of England," and Robert as "our beloved son, the noble man, Robert de Bruce, holding himself king of Scotland."

2 (or possibly 3) January 1315: Funeral of Piers Gaveston, earl of Cornwall, at Langley Priory, which Edward had founded in 1308.  Edward spent the vast sum of £300 on three cloths of gold to dress Piers' body, also paying fifteen pounds for food and sixty-four pounds for twenty-three tuns of wine, around 22,000 litres (I think).

3 January 1322: Death of Edward's brother-in-law Philip V of France, at the age of about thirty.  As Philip's two sons had died young, he was succeeded by his brother Charles IV.  Edward and Philip appear to have been on reasonably good terms: Philip sent Edward a gift of grapes in October 1316 and a box of rose sugar in September 1317, and Edward gave a massive twenty marks to the messenger who brought him news of the birth of Philip's son Louis in June 1316 (the boy died a few months later).

3 January 1323: Meeting at Lochmaben of Andrew Harclay, earl of Carlisle, and Robert Bruce, during which Harclay told Bruce that Edward II would acknowledge him as king of Scots.  Edward executed Harclay for treason exactly two months later.

5 January 1303: Edward of Caernarfon (aged eighteen) gave half a mark to three clerks of Windsor playing interludes before him.

8 January 1323 or before: Death by peine forte et dure of Robert Lewer, once a close ally of the king who loathed the Despensers and turned against Edward, and frankly was a bit of a thug.  Well, more than a bit.

9 January 1310: Edward seized the lands of Hugh Despenser the Younger, who had gone overseas without permission to take part in a jousting tournament.

9 January 1317: Coronation of Philip V as king of France.

11 January 1323: Near-escape of Maurice, Lord Berkeley and other Contrariants from Wallingford Castle.

11 January 1372: Death of Eleanor of Lancaster, countess of Arundel, whose father Henry was Edward's first cousin.

c. 12 January 1312: Birth in York of Piers Gaveston and Margaret de Clare's only child Joan Gaveston, Edward's great-niece, who died at Amesbury Priory on 13 January 1325.

12 January 1321: Death of Marie of Brabant, dowager queen of France, widow of Philip III (died 1285) and stepmother of Philip IV.  Marie outlived all her three children, who included Edward II's stepmother Queen Marguerite.

13 January 1312: Reunion of Edward II and Piers Gaveston in Knaresborough; they travelled the seventeen miles to York the same day so that Piers could see his wife and newborn daughter.

14 January 1330: William Melton, archbishop of York and long-term friend and ally of Edward II, told the mayor of London that the former king was still alive and in good health (over two years after Edward's funeral).

16 January 1245: Birth of Edward II's uncle Edmund, earl of Lancaster, Leicester and Derby, youngest surviving child of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence.

17 January 1334: Death of Edward's first cousin John of Brittany, earl of Richmond, son of Edward I's sister Beatrice and Duke John II of Brittany, brother of Duke Arthur II, in his mid-sixties at the time of his death (born 1268).  Oddly, John never married.

18 January 1297: Wedding in Ipswich of Edward's fourteen-year-old sister Elizabeth and twelve-year-old Count John I of Holland.  Edward of Caernarfon, also twelve, gave them a gold cup as a wedding gift.

18 January 1312: Edward declared the newly returned Piers Gaveston "good and loyal," and restored the earldom of Cornwall to him.

19 January 1326: Murder of Sir Roger Belers, chief baron of the Exchequer.

20 January 1327: A deputation from parliament visited Edward in captivity at Kenilworth Castle to persuade him to give up his throne to his son.  Various chroniclers say that Edward wore black and wept, which may well be true, though there's no real way of knowing what actually happened that day.  I doubt that he fainted as is also claimed in some chronicles - Edward certainly doesn't strike me as a fainting type - or that he believed an alleged threat that if he didn't abdicate, an unnamed other person, presumably Roger Mortimer, would take the throne instead (a very silly and improbable story).  According to the Flores Historiarum, Edward said "I greatly lament that I have so utterly failed my people, but I could not be other than I am."  One of the members of the deputation sent to Kenilworth was William Trussell.  I find it hard to escape the conclusion that Trussell was sent deliberately in order to inflict maximum emotional pain on Edward, as he had pronounced the death sentence on Hugh Despenser the Younger on 24 November.  If so, the plan backfired: Trussell "knelt before our lord the king and cried him mercy, begging him to pardon his trespasses against him, and he [Edward] pardoned him and gave him the sign of peace in front of them all." (Pipewell Chronicle)

21 January 1326: Edward founded Oriel College at Oxford University.

22 January 1322: Surrender of Roger Mortimer of Wigmore and his uncle Roger Mortimer of Chirk to the king at Shrewsbury, during the Contrariant rebellion.

24 January 1327: Last day of Edward II's reign, after nineteen and a half years.  For the first time ever in England, a king had been forced to abdicate, and was still alive when his son took the throne.

25 January 1308: Wedding of Edward II and Isabella of France in Boulogne, attended by much of the European royalty and nobility.

25 January 1327: Official start of the reign of fourteen-year-old Edward III, nineteen years to the day after his parents' wedding.

25 or 26 January 1328: Wedding of Edward III and Philippa of Hainault in York Minster.

26 January 1316: The Welsh nobleman Llywelyn Bren attacked the great South Wales stronghold of Caerphilly, built by Edward's brother-in-law Gilbert 'the Red' in the 1270s.

27 January 1316: Start of an eventful parliament in Lincoln.

28 January 1271: Death of Isabella of France's grandmother Isabel of Aragon, queen of France - wife of Philip III and mother of Philip IV - after whom Isabella was presumably named.

28 January 1312: Birth of Joan or Jeanne, only child of the future Louis X of France and his first wife Marguerite of Burgundy, later queen of Navarre in her own right.

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.

30 January 1326: Edward appointed Hugh Despenser the Younger's sister Aline Burnell constable of Conwy Castle in North Wales, a very rare honour for a woman.

31 January 1308: Sealing of the Boulogne Agreement by a group of English noblemen in France attending the king's wedding, including the earls of Pembroke, Lincoln, Surrey and Hereford. This document attempted to separate the two sides of kingship: the king as a person, and the Crown, and stated that the barons' loyalty was due less to the current king than to the Crown itself. This theory, the 'doctrine of capacities', was to rear its head again during Edward's reign. The Agreement probably demonstrates the enormous concern over Edward's reliance on Piers Gaveston, though it also reflects the conflicts which arose between the king and the barons at the end of Edward I's reign, and Piers was not in fact mentioned.


Anonymous said...

Interesting anniversaries! Although I believe that the Doctrine of capacities became somewhat discredited, the concept of the monarch as a person and the crown as
an institution is still with us & its various spin-offs, e.g. the Prime Minister as a person and as Prime Minister etc, etc.

Anonymous said...

Great post! I didn't realize that Edward II's forced abdication was so close to his wedding anniversary (I wonder if that date was deliberately chosen?) Also, any idea how the story developed that Edward II was threatened with the idea that, if he didn't abdicate, the throne might not go to his son?

Also, Is the doctrine of capacities related to the monarch's "two bodies" (Elizabeth I's "body politic to govern" as well as her natural body)?


Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Beata and Esther! I think most probably the date was coincidental, as it partly depended on the timing of the deputation travelling from London and back, with all the vagaries of the weather in the depths of winter. Ernst Kantorowicz has a book called The King's Two Bodies, about political theology in the Middle Ages of the king's/queen's body political and body natural, and how it developed. It's a really long time since I read the book, though. :-)

I really must write a proper post soon about Edward's forced abdication. I can't remember offhand where the story of the threat is given, but I think in Geoffrey le Baker, writing c. 1352, whose chronicle invented the idea that Edward was tortured at Berkeley and who wrote an extremely detailed description of the supposed red-hot poker murder. So definitely not a reliable source!

Anerje said...

January was a very busy month in Edward's reign - so many important events took place in that month. Thank goodness he managed to lay Piers to rest, almost 3 years after his death - I find his devotion so moving.

I enjoyed finding out about Llewelyn Bren when I last visited Caerphilly Castle.

MRats said...

Splendid details!

'Trussell "knelt before our lord the king and cried him mercy, begging him to pardon his trespasses against him, and he [Edward] pardoned him and gave him the sign of peace in front of them all." (Pipewell Chronicle)' Was that a blessing or a kiss of peace, as Edward exchanged with Thomas of Lancaster in the field between Loughborough and Leicester in 1318? (Both of them doubtlessly wishing they were anywhere else.)

And do we know the exact wording of the Boulogne Agreement? I've read that the doctrine of capacities was revived for the disgruntled nobility by Hugh the Younger in 1308. J. Conway Davies wrote in "The Baronial Opposition to Edward II" that the nobles at Boulogne "entered into a solemn agreement to defend the king's person and the rights of his crown and to redress what was amiss." Davies doesn't say that they claimed their loyalty was to the Crown and not Edward, but seems to suggest that they vowed to protect both as one and the same. Did Davies misinterpret their intentions? Or am I misinterpreting Davies?

Questions, questions, questions. Please forgive me.

Fantastic post!

Sami Parkkonen said...

Well done, again!

PS. We want The Book! We want The Book!


Kathryn said...

Wretched Blogger has not let me sign into my account all day, so I'm having to post anonymously. Kathryn here. ;-)

Pierre Chaplais's book about Piers discusses the opposition issue. There's a newsletter of 14 May 1308 which states Philip IV's opposition to Piers directly (it's cited in the original Latin in John Maddicott's bio of Thomas of Lancaster). I'm sure the £40,000 and the uncles story are at least grossly exaggerated, if not an outright invention, but Philip's hostility to Piers does seem to be apparent from the newsletter. Pierre Chaplais argues however, and I agree, that it had little if anything to do with Isabella, but was rooted in Philip's anxiety that Edward was still intending to grant his county of Ponthieu to Piers. Chaplais further points out that Piers' father had escaped from Philip's custody when he was being held as a hostage for Edward I, and that Piers had served against the French in Flanders in 1297. Philip therefore did have legitimate reasons for disliking Piers and his family which had nothing to do with Isabella.

Edward and Philip's relationship was complex. Possibly they disliked each other personally. As for Marguerite, I'm not sure. A lot of modern writers have assumed that she and Edward were very close, but honestly I don't see anything in their relationship that goes beyond the conventional and purely formal. Of course he asked her to intervene with his father on Piers' behalf in 1305; she was the obvious person. And of course they gave each other gifts at New Year, also purely conventional. After Edward's accession, they don't seem to have bothered with each other much, as far as I can see. There's a rather poignant letter from (I think) 1304/05 where Edward asked his kinswoman Agnes de Valence to be his 'good mother' and declared that he would be an obedient loving son to her. This indicates to me that he wasn't getting that kind of affection from Marguerite (understandable of course, given the small age difference between them), and that Edward needed maternal love.

MRats said...


British translation: "I quite agree. Please do pen your novel as we're positively agog!"

Say what you will about Americanisms (and I'm sure it would all be true) they can at least be succinct.

Anyway, I THINK that's the book Sami means, but how did he know? The most recent post I mentioned it after was from July 25, 2010!

Unless, of course, he meant, "The King's Two Bodies" . . .

Katarzyna Ogrodnik-Fujcik said...

I second Sami!We want the Book!

My favourite January entry: 30 January 1326 :-)

Sami Parkkonen said...

I meant the book: Edward II - The True Story (working title) by Kathryn Warner :-D

Jules Frusher said...

A big thankyou from me for mentioning Lady Despenser's Scribery!!! :-) x

MRats said...

Looks as though you're going to need to placate the multitudes, Kathryn! ;-D

And it appears the blogger WAS behaving wretchedly. But not to worry! There are a lot of interesting facts in your reply to my endless questions. (For those who would like to know the context, it's a response to an inquiry about the blog that I mentioned from July 25, 2010.)

Kathryn, do you ever feel all-powerful when we start talking amongst ourselves? :-)

Also, did the Boulogne Agreement truly invoke the doctrine of capacities? All I know about it is what I wrote in my comment above, and it appears that I may be mistaken.