20 January, 2007

In which I'm too lazy to write a proper post on Edward II's deposition

I was intending to write a full-length and academic post about Edward II's deposition/abduction, which happened 680 years ago today, but I'm afraid I'm just not in the mood for sorting through articles and chronicles for events that are very confused and uncertain. ;) It's not even totally clear if Edward abdicated or was deposed.

Anyway, on 20 January 1327, a deputation visited Edward II at Kenilworth Castle and the forty-two-year-old soon-to-be-ex-king, allegedly weeping and fainting, agreed to renounce the throne in favour of his fourteen-year-old son. The parliament that decided to depose Edward and proclaim Edward III met a week earlier at Westminster, on 13 January.

And here's my favourite fact about it: the wonderfully-named Hamo Hethe, Bishop of Rochester 1319-1353 and a supporter of Edward II and the younger Despenser - though by no means an uncritical one - was beaten up for showing insufficient enthusiasm for Edward III. ;)

On 24 January it was announced that "Sir Edward, late king of England, has of his good will and common counsel and assent of the prelates, earls barons and other nobles, and commonalty of the realm, resigned the government of the realm, and granted and wills the government shall come to Edward his eldest son, and that he shall govern, reign and be crowned king."

Edward III's reign is duly held to have begun on 25 January 1327 - nineteen years to the day since his parents' wedding.

Anyone interested in these events should read the excellent accounts in Ian Mortimer's The Greatest Traitor, Alison Weir's Isabella: She-Wolf of France, Queen of England, Natalie Fryde's The Tyranny and Fall of Edward II and Roy Martin Haines' King Edward II.

However... I'm always in the mood for writing about the people who lived during Edward II's reign, so check out my post on his niece Margaret de Clare, below.

[WARNING: it ended up really long!]


Carla said...

It might be hard to tell the difference between abdicating and being deposed? How much pressure changes one into the other? I'm thinking of Mary Queen of Scots who technically abdicated - after one of the more thuggish Scottish nobles threatened to murder her in prison if she didn't.

Kathryn Warner said...

Suuposedly, Edward was threatened that if he didn't abdicate voluntarily, the throne would pass not to his son, but to someone 'not of royal blood, but experienced in government' - Roger Mortimer, it's presumed. Whether Edward ever believed that threat or not is uncertain. If he did, he must have been in a highly distressed state and not thinking at all clearly (which would be understandable, at least). Passing over Edward III was, of course, never a possibility. Personally, I think Edward didn't believe the threat, but just realised how many people were against him and how little choice he really had in the matter.

But you're right - in the end it really didn't make a difference if it was abdication or deposition. Technically, I'd say that Edward abdicated.

I didn't know that about Mary, by the way!

Carla said...

I'll look it up for you, if you like. Mary's Scotland has distinct elements of the Wild West about it.

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Carla - I'd appreciate that. Certainly does sound a bit Wild West-ish!

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