Gabriele did this meme recently, and I thought it would be fun to write about Edward II! So, here's five funny things you (probably) didn't know about the poor maligned sweetie....
[By the way, Edward II is currently in joint lead in my 'favourite medieval king of England' poll, on the left - eight people have voted for him, excluding me. Yay for you all!!]
- Edward kept a pet lion, which accompanied him on his travels around the country in a cart, tied to a silver chain. Edward's lion-keeper was Adam of Lichfield. He also kept a camel in the stables of his manor of Langley.
- On Easter Monday every year, the ladies and damsels of Queen Isabella 'caught' him in bed in the morning, and dragged him out. One assumes he didn't sleep naked that night... :) He then had to pay them a 'ransom' to be released. (He inherited this sweet tradition from his parents)
- He had a great sense of humour, not something you often associate with medieval kings! His 1305 letter to the count of Evreux, half-brother of Philip IV, shows his dry, ironic humour and wit: [some historians write of this as a 'curious' letter, missing the point that it's obviously intended to be humorous]
"We send you a big trotting palfrey which can hardly carry its own weight, and some of our bandy-legged harriers from Wales, who can well catch a hare if they find it asleep, and some of our running dogs which go at a gentle pace - for well we know that you take delight in lazy dogs. And, dear cousin, if you want anything else from our land of Wales, we can send you plenty of wild lads, if you wish, who will well know how to teach breeding to the young heirs and heiresses of great lords."
Edward also had a strongly developed taste for the slapstick; he paid his court painter Jack of St Albans fifty shillings for dancing on the table, which "made him laugh beyond measure", and another time paid a servant twenty shillings for frequently falling off his horse in an amusing manner! [I was pleased to see that these episodes are mentioned on comedian Richard Herring's website: How wonderful that such a moment gets recorded in history. And also that a man arsing around gets paid a huge amount of cash for his troubles. I imagine there was a lot of blokes changing their arm (or leg) and jumping up on tables and doing funny dances after that.... Good on him and his crazy dance. I wonder how it went.
Another bloke was given twenty shillings by the king for often falling off his horse and again causing the slapstick loving king merriment. He may have had a rubbish sense of humour, but he was happy to pay top dollar, long before "You've Been Framed" was even in the planning stages.]
- Edward and Isabella's 1313 trip to visit her father Philip IV in France was pretty eventful. Edward actually saved Isabella's life at one point, when the silken pavilion where they were sleeping caught fire. Edward scooped Isabella up and rushed outside, despite the fact that they were both naked. Another day, they were late for their audience with King Philip because they'd overslept. And on 19 June 1313 - the first anniversary of Piers Gaveston's death - the twenty-nine-year-old king paid Bernard the Fool and fifty-four others to dance naked for him....
- When Edward fled to Wales in October 1326, he took lots of his possessions with him, loaded onto carts (which must have slowed down the fleeing considerably, surely?) These included a "red retiring robe rayed with threads of saffron, decorated with bears" and a "black cap lined with red velvet, decorated with butterflies and white pearls". I think that's so sweet...Edward wearing a robe covered with bears! I can't help picturing them as teddy bears.