23 April, 2008

Blog Break and Searches

This will be the last post for a while, as I'm off on holiday on Thursday, to visit my parents in the Lake District. I would say 'Yay!' except that it's 20 or 22 degrees here (low 70s F) and sunny, and about 10 and raining in the Lakes. Typical.

Here's a post on weird blog searches. After a few weeks of really dull ones (I mean, hitting this blog by searching for 'Edward II' - where's the fun in that?) here are a few more interesting, recent ones that found this site. I think the prize for weirdness, though, goes to the search string that Ian Mortimer told me hit his website a couple of days ago: queen isabella - eaten by dogs. Poor Isabella!

queen isabella forced humiliation pics Please! This is a family blog.

queen isabella sex stories A pattern is emerging here. Honestly, the number of people who hit this blog searching for something sex-related is staggering. Most of them are not repeatable here. What do people expect from the blog - fourteenth-century porn?

pictures of murdered poeple I've said it before and I'll say it again: some people, oops, poeple, worry me.

junior does me

mistress hanging victims

emasculation by horses

King Edward II what kind of man was he?? I find the two question marks amusing.

wedding confession-how to conduct it "Before we exchange vows, there's something I have to tell you. I've always fancied your sister."

Did Edward II have a good look out of England In 1325, he took a good look over the Channel towards France and said "soddit, I'm not going over there."

some novels Gee, could you be a bit vaguer?

"laws that queen isabella's" Yes, that's exactly how it was typed.


"The Marches"+ what was built around them?

donees hair grees ???

gaveston's head in a basket

aura photos in gloucestershires

Sicily's Alfonso the Disparaging Was there really a king called 'the Disparaging'? What a great name. I can just see him walking around court belittling his courtiers, going "that surcoat you're wearing? It's crap. And your haircut? Crap, mate."

noble men of great character in history Remember, this search hit an Edward II blog. :-)

forty eight and knackered

john castile castille is common for virginia Umm, huh?

rules that queen isabella gave her "presents" They had to cost at least a hundred times most people's annual income?

10 Good things that Edward II did in his reign Ten?? You want ten?

examples of the bad things that Edward II did That's more like it.

was Edward II good with the country's money Does spending it all on Piers Gaveston count as 'good'?

Did edward II look after his empire

what were brothel tokens Don't think I want to know.

kid facts about queen isabella

the most important character in edward the second is gaveston Don't tell Isabella.

Steven Waddington naked

fun facts about what people eat in london

what did Joan of Kent's attire look like?

does Joan e. Higginbotham have any brothers or sisters?

methods of address how to called princess or greeting

how many different way can you spell Aleyse

Events with queen isabel changing us

1330s treatments for mental illnesses

mother marrying brother in law during middle ages

insulting nicknames for sarah

how to determine insulting nicknames If you're the earl of Warwick or Lancaster, and the man talking to you is Piers Gaveston, then it's an insulting nickname.

what king got killed by a hot poker up the butt

mediaeval king who died of poker up bottom

queen isabella pregnant with william wallace baby Here we go again. *Sighs*

Last but not least, I'd like to wish Edward II and Roger Mortimer whatever the opposite of 'Happy Belated Birthday' is - Friday 25 April is the day Edward turns 724, and Roger 721.
The next post will be on or about 7 May. See you then!

16 April, 2008

Edward II is Extraordinarily Exasperating, and Intensely Annoyed

Rather a hotch-potch of a post today, but I was just thinking recently how even seemingly dry and dull letters and other primary sources of the fourteenth century can give us an insight into Edward II's character, attitudes and knowledge. Here are some examples...

Edward asked Robert Winchelsey, archbishop of Canterbury, to meet him at Westminster in late February 1310, to discuss a letter the Pope had recently sent him. Winchelsey duly arrived for the meeting, which Edward promptly postponed until 15 March. The day came and went, and Edward failed to summon Winchelsey to him for the meeting. Forced to hang around at Westminster waiting for Edward's summons, Winchelsey sent a messenger to the king, asking him for another appointment to discuss the letter. Edward sent his confessor John de Lenham to tell the archbishop that he needed more time to think about it. Finally, at the end of March, he sent word to Winchelsey that he would write to the Pope directly, and had no need to meet the archbishop after all. [Source: Winchelsey's Register]

Edward had kept Winchelsey hanging around fruitlessly at Westminster for an entire month. I bet the good archbishop muttered a few ungodly curses under his breath at his exasperating monarch.

In a letter to Philippe IV of France on 3 August 1309, Edward showed his intense annoyance with his father-in-law. Edward I and Edward II refused to acknowledge Robert Bruce as king of Scots (Popes Clement V and John XXII didn't either), but one of Philippe's messengers showed Edward letters in which Philippe referred to Bruce as 'king of Scots' in letters to Bruce himself, but as 'earl of Carrick' - Bruce's previous title - in letters to Edward.

Edward's letters to Philippe usually begin along the lines of "To the most excellent and most puissant prince, the noble king of France, our very dear and beloved lord and father, greetings and very dear affection". This one, about Philippe's letters to Bruce, opens abruptly with "To the king of France, greetings." (Al Roy de France, saluz). Quite a difference! Rather snippily, Edward tells his father-in-law "Regarding this matter, sire, kindly have regard for the honour of yourself and us." His letters to Philippe usually close with something like "very dear sire and father, may our lord grant you a good and long life", but this one contains no closing line at all. Edward couldn't express his displeasure with Philippe as directly as he would have liked, but all the same, his annoyance is as obvious as if he'd screamed it from the rooftops. [Source: Foedera]

For all his irritation with the French king, however, Edward himself was not averse to offering to acknowledge Bruce as king of Scots, when it served Piers Gaveston's interests. And in October 1311, Edward wrote to Philippe after Piers had been ordered into exile for the third time, asking for his support. This letter, not at all surprisingly, opens with flowery declarations of Philippe's all-round wonderfulness and Edward's great and undying affection for his beloved father. Hehehe. [Foedera]

On 11 June 1312, Edward sent Philippe a letter, declaring, amusingly, that he was "grievously annoyed by his subjects". Not, however, as annoyed as he would be a few days later, when the earls of Lancaster, Warwick, Hereford and Arundel killed Piers Gaveston. And probably not half as grievously annoyed as his subjects were with him. [Foedera]

On 16 October 1307, Edward sent a letter to the ruler of the Tartars, calling him "the most excellent prince, Dolgietus, illustrious king of the Tartars". Six weeks later, however, when he sent another letter, the ruler was upgraded to 'emperor' and not named: "To the most serene prince, the most puissant lord, emperor of the Tartars". Apparently, Edward and his advisers were uncertain of the current political situation in distant Tartary - not unreasonably. At the same time, he sent a letter to the king of Armenia, and although said king is called Edward's "dearest friend" (amico suo karissimo), he isn't named either. This is probably because King Leo and his predecessor and regent Hetoum were murdered in August 1307, and no-one at Edward's court knew who their successor was. (It was Oshin.)

(Google brings up zero results for 'Dolgietus', except this post, presumably.)

When it came to Castilian politics, however, Edward was on much firmer ground. His cousin Fernando IV died in 1312, and was succeeded by his baby son Alfonso XI. For the next few years, a variety of regents battled it out for control of the kingdom, including doña María de Molina, don Pedro, don Juan, don Felipe, don Juan Manuel, don Juan el Tuerto, and doña María Díaz de Haro. All of these people were close relatives of Edward, one way or another, and his letters to Castile show a good knowledge of their relationships, positions and titles, and who was in power at any one time.

On 6 February 1325, Edward sent a letter to doña María Díaz de Haro, Lady of Biscay, who was his second cousin and the widow of his first cousin don Juan, regarding the planned marriage of his daughter Eleanor of Woodstock to Alfonso XI. The letter states:

"The king is cognisant of her good will towards him and that she is prepared to further the king's honour, as experience of the past has shown...He [Edward] rejoices greatly at the clinging together of such progeny sprung from his and her common stock, whilst they applaud each other with mutual honours and cherish each other with mutual counsel and aid." [Close Rolls]

It's the Edward II and Lady of Biscay Mutual Appreciation Society!

09 April, 2008

The Death of Edward II

Ian Mortimer has recently added an article on the alleged death of Edward II to his website. Please, please read it!! Even if you're really sceptical about Edward's survival after 1327 - especially if you are - give it a read. You might be surprised that what you've always 'known' to be true isn't! If you can, read Dr Mortimer's biography of Edward III, The Perfect King, which goes into all this in more detail, or at least read this article. If you can get hold of English Historical Review, he's written a great piece, 'The Death of Edward II in Berkeley Castle', volume 120, number 489, from 2005. There's an abstract here.

And if you're in the mood to learn more about the oddities surrounding Edward's death, I've written a few posts on the subject, collected in the sidebar on the left under the heading 'Aftermath of Edward II's Reign'.

Over 1000 people have voted in my poll 'What happened to Edward II in September 1327?'. Fully 28% of you believe in some version other than the traditionally accepted one that Edward was murdered in Berkeley Castle in September 1327. And belief in the 'red-hot poker' story is down to 57%, which I'm really pleased about, considering that it's still often depicted as a certain fact, in published books and about nine zillion websites. A very heartening result.

05 April, 2008

A Bannockburn Book, And Some Novels

I've just started reading - and am thoroughly enjoying - Chris Brown's Bannockburn 1314: A New History, which came out a few days ago. It's a source-based work, with some great insights into Edward II, Robert Bruce and the events that led to the battle, very well-written and extremely informative. Highly recommended! Dr Brown has also written about William Wallace and Robert Bruce - more books to add to my ever-expanding TBR pile.

On the subject of Robert Bruce, I've recently discovered a series of novels about him called Rebel King, by Charles Randolph Bruce and Carolyn Hale Bruce. So far, three novels of a planned five-book series have been published - more information on the authors' very informative website. I ordered the Bannockburn one an age ago, from the US, and it's taking so long to arrive I can only assume some unfortunate postman is having to swim across the Atlantic to bring it to me. I'm dying to read it - all the novels have great reviews on Amazon.com.

And a couple of new(ish) novels of Edward II's reign, kind of, to tell you about...

Firstly, there's The Ravenous by W. B. Baker, set in Wales in 1316. Here's the synopsis from Amazon:

"Centuries of warfare had barely encroached upon Glamorgan's boundaries and any who dared its conquest met with bold resistance. Warriors lurking in the mountains of Wales invited all unwary trespassers to come and taste of death. Such was the case in 1316, when Edward II attempted to resurrect a United Kingdom after the execution of William Wallace. As Edward and his Nobles would all too soon discover, the rage that English garrisons uncovered across the valleys of Wales would prove to rival any fury of the Scots. Events and surroundings that would reveal the determination and true nobility of humankind."

I really enjoy histfict set in Wales (yay for Sharon Penman's Welsh trilogy!) so I'm definitely looking forward to reading this one. There's more information on the author here.

Secondly, there's The Queen's Tale by D. J. Birmingham, a novel of John de Bermingham. Bermingham is one of the men of Edward II's reign I always feel I don't know a lot about. He was an associate of Roger Mortimer in Ireland, and was made justiciar of that country in 1320. He's mostly known for defeating Robert Bruce's brother Edward at the battle of Dundalk in 1318, and sending his head to Edward II (Edward Bruce was a member of Edward II's household before he became king, a little-known fact). Edward II made Bermingham earl of Louth the following year in gratitude, and he ended up joining the retinue of the younger Despenser. Bermingham, one of the many sons-in-law of the earl of Ulster - Robert Bruce was another, as was Edward II's nephew the earl of Gloucester - was killed in 1329.

You can read an excerpt of Queen's Tale here - poor Isabella! :-)