More on the earl of Kent's 1330 conspiracy, and the people who helped him.
Kent's confession was read out to Parliament on 16 March 1330, three days before his execution; he himself wasn't present. The confession appears in Adam Murimuth's contemporary chronicle (thanks to Susan for sending it to me). He names the following people as his co-conspirators:
Sir John Pecche; Sir Fulk Fitz Warin; Sir Ingelram Berenger; William Melton, archbishop of York; Stephen Gravesend, bishop of London; Donald, earl of Mar; Sir William la Zouche; Hugh Despenser the even younger; Isabella, Lady Vescy; her brother Henry, Lord Beaumont; Sir John Gymmynges; Sir Thomas Roscelyn; George Percy; a monk of Quar, on the Isle of Wight; William de Cliff; William de Derham; Brother Thomas de Bromfield; Robert de Taunton, clerk of the archbishop of York; Richard de Pontefract, confessor of Lady Vescy; E. de Monchiver; Malcolm Musard.
Also, Pope John XXII, who, according to Kent, had "charged him, on his benison, that he should use his pains and his diligence to deliver Edward, his brother, sometime king of England, and that thereto he [the Pope] would find his [Kent's] costs."
Most of the men ordered to be arrested on 31 March 1330 - who I wrote about in my last post - are not named in the confession. How their involvement in the plot became known is not clear. Finally, others known to have been involved were: Sir Edward de Monthermer, nephew of Edward II - son of his sister Joan of Acre - who was imprisoned in Winchester Castle; William, abbot of Langdon, an old friend of Edward II; and Richard Bliton, a Carmelite friar and confessor of the younger Despenser in 1326. And some others who were certainly involved were never implicated: Simon de Swanland, for example, to whom the archbishop of York sent the letter regarding Edward II's survival in January 1330. I also strongly suspect that other prominent Londoners were involved, especially the former mayor Hamo de Chigwell. Hamo was one of the men who condemned Roger Mortimer to death in 1322, and was arrested in early 1329 for taking part in the earl of Lancaster's rebellion against Mortimer and Isabella. He was released into the custody of the bishop of London, one of Kent's co-conspirators.
Many dozens of men (and one woman, Lady Vescy) took part in Kent's plot to free the supposedly dead Edward II. Were they really all stupid, credulous and deluded?? Historians have all too often focused on Kent himself, calling him a gullible, instable fool, and ignoring his many adherents. Roy Martin Haines even states, inexplicably, in his King Edward II, that "there is no evidence of support by notable laymen". However, he contradicts himself in his Death of a King, where he talks of "the many people in high places who became entangled in the plot" and the "numerous important laymen" who took part.
It certainly seems to me that many of the men involved truly believed Edward II to still be alive. Sir Fulk Fitz Warin - who remained loyal to Edward II during the Marcher rebellion of 1321/22, but was no great friend of his - said that freeing Edward "would be the greatest honour that ever befell him, and told him [Kent] that he would aid him with body and heart and whatsoever he had." Fulk also "prayed him [Kent] and stirred him to begin this thing, and encouraged him to do these things".
Sir John Pecche said that "he was of that mind, and thereto would bestow body and heart and whatsoever he had." Pecche's role is especially fascinating, as he was Constable of Corfe Castle until September 1329.
The bishop of London said that he "would aid him in the deliverance of his brother with whatsoever he had."
The archbishop of York, in addition to pledging the vast sum of £5000 - millions in modern values - said "he would aid him in the deliverance of his brother with five thousand pounds and moreover with as much as he had and as much as he could give." Melton, of course, was making his own efforts to help Edward by providing clothes, with the aid of his kinsman Simon de Swanland.
Sir William la Zouche, a cousin of Roger Mortimer, said that he "would give as much as he could for the deliverance of his [Kent's] brother."
Henry, Lord Beaumont and Sir Thomas Roscelyn, in exile in Paris, said that "they were ready to come to England in aid of these things aforesaid; and that they stirred him to do these things".
Donald, earl of Mar, "would aid them to uphold these things, and with all his strength."
The plan was apparently to take Edward II by ship, boat or barge, provided by Sir John Gymmynges, to Kent's castle of Arundel, in Sussex, and "from thence whithersoever should have been appointed." Corfe to Arundel is ninety miles by road, but both castles are near the coast, so travelling by sea would be the most efficient method. Then, probably, Edward II was to go abroad; the archbishop of York's reference to giving him gold suggests this. There seems to be no suggestion of restoring Edward to the throne.
I still have loads more to say about all this, coming in the next few posts!