06 February, 2019

Edward II and Sailors and Fishermen in 1325

Two of Edward II's chamber accounts from 1324 to 1326 still exist*, and reveal that on several occasions in 1325, the king spent time with groups of sailors, carpenters, and fishermen. On 2 March 1325, when Edward was at the Tower of London, he gave twenty-four shillings to six sailors for 'remaining in the king's company at his command' (demorantz en la compaignie le Roi p' son comandement) for the previous sixteen days. The sailors were named as Adam Cogger, Adam Furnival, John Osebern, John of Shordyche (i.e. Shoreditch), Hugh 'Huchon' Shene and John Baudekyn, and they are described as 'sailors of Sandwich' in Kent. Adam Cogger, captain of a ship called the Godyer, i.e. 'Goodyear' in modern English, is often mentioned in Edward II's accounts, and in June 1325 dined with Edward on four separate occasions.

[* The National Archives, E 101/380/4; Society of Antiquaries of London, MS 122]

Shortly after the six sailors spent sixteen days with him, Edward II gave all of them and two of their other crew-mates a set of clothes each at Burgundy, the cottage within the precincts of Westminster Abbey which he'd acquired c. 1320 and where he spent quite a lot of time in 1325. Some weeks earlier, the king had to pay a year's wages each to his squires Giles of Spain and Burgeys Tilh, as compensation because the two men burned themselves quite badly while performing some kind of act with fire for his entertainment at Burgundy. A 'valet' of the king's chamber called Litel Colle or 'Little Colin' was also said to be 'playing before the king' at Burgundy in February 1325 and received ten shillings for his performance, and it seems that at least some of the king's household staff were expected to be entertainers for the king. Litel Colle, in addition to working in the king's chamber and being a performer in his spare time, was the captain of a barge which had once belonged to Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke (d. June 1324) and passed to Edward II. Colle's mum was called Anneis, and she came to visit him at court in June 1325.

A fisherman of the Thames was called Nichol 'Colle' Herron. On 20 August 1325, he and three other fishermen called Will, John and Richard were said to be 'remaining in the king's company' for a week, and on 21 August, Colle Herron received twenty shillings from Edward to replace his goods which were burned by accident 'the last time he was with the king'. There are various entries in Edward's accounts of 1324/25 which reveal that sailors were present in the king's bedchamber on various occasions when he went to sleep. One of them was Richard Councedieu, who, like Adam Cogger, came from Sandwich in Kent but lived in the Tower ward of London as of 1319 or earlier, and another was William 'Willecok' Lucas, who came from Andover in Hampshire and lived in Portchester in the same county.

1 comment:

sami parkkonen said...

Fantastic stuff! Edward was a man of the people. And his gifts for the commoners were truly generous. I wonder why all these things are so much dismissed and set aside when Edward is portrayed in novels and movies. All this makes him much more interesting in my eyes than the ever lasting speculations about his sexuality and/or relationships with whom ever.

How come this king wanted and did mingle with the low born subjects. Why he enjoyed the company of the common men and women? How he behaved in their company? This was highly exceptional in his times and for centuries after and before him. I think this makes him special and one of a kind.

I mean, messy relationships, sexual preferences etc. are fairly common among the royalty from the days of the Egypt of the pharaohs, through the Greek and Romans, up until recently but show me a king in the past 1000 years who did what Edward did. Why he behaved like this? He must have known that this behavior was truly abhorred by his peers and nobility. And yet, there he was, hanging around with fishermen, talking to the washing ladies etc.