20 December, 2006

Merry Christmas!

The blog will take a break while I'm on my holidays....back on or around 7 January.

Before I go, just a few words on Edward II's Christmases. It was his custom to play dice on Christmas night, and in 1316, at Clipstone in Nottinghamshire, used up the large sum of five pounds playing (the King was an inveterate gambler.)
Edward enjoyed the tradition of the "King of the Bean" or the Lord of Misrule, on Twelfth Night. In 1317, he gave that year's King, William de la Bech, "a silver-gilt chased basin, with ewer to match", and the next year, to Thomas de Weston, a squre of his household, "a silver-gilt basin with stand and cover, and a silver-gilt pitcher to match".
In 1317, Edward had a "great wooden table" placed in the Great Hall of Westminster Palace just in time for Christmas, and around the same time took possession of a "great hanging of wool, woven with figures of the King and Earls upon it" with "a border of green cloth round the said hanging, for saving the same from being damaged in hanging it up." At Christmas/New Year 1311/12, Queen Isabella sent out gifts of wild boar meat and Brie to, among others, the Earls of Lancaster and Hereford and Piers Gaveston's wife Margaret, and there are records of the "sumptuous gifts of plate" Edward gave to friends and household knights.

If you're interested in how Christmas and New Year were celebrated in the Middle Ages, here's a handful of sites (there are plenty more):

Christmas Traditions In England During the Middle Ages
Medieval Christmas
Tales of the Middle Ages - Christmas

Have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year, everybody!