24 July, 2008

Edward II's Possessions, 1326

Following the post on Edward II's treasure of 1312, here's one on the possessions he took to Wales with him in 1326.

In autumn that year, Edward fled to South Wales after Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer's invasion forces landed in Suffolk. He and Hugh Despenser spent some time at Despenser's castle of Caerphilly. After they left (and were captured) the castle held out under siege until March 1327, when the garrison finally surrendered on being promised pardons.

An inventory was made of Edward II and Hugh Despenser's possessions found within the castle, which is printed in full (translated into English) in William Rees's Caerphilly Castle and its Place in the Annals of Glamorgan. Here are some of the many thousands of things listed:

- 26 barrels, each containing £500, and another barrel containing £1000, which was Despenser's

- a counterpane of red sendal, lined with green sendal (a fine silk) for Edward's bed

- a coverlet lined with minver (expensive fur)

- a canopy and curtains of red sendal, for the bed

- 4 cushions of purple velvet and 4 of red samite (another kind of silk, heavier than sendal)

- 2 caps of white beaver, 1 lined with black velvet and powdered with gold trefoils, the other lined with green velvet

- a black cap lined with red velvet, powdered with butterflies and "diverse beasts" in white pearls

- Edward's red retiring-robe, decorated with threads of saffron, and bears (cuuuuute!)

- a silver-gilt goblet, enamelled, engraved with baboons

- the 4 gospels, painted (?), for use in Edward's chamber

- 3 pairs of Gascon spurs, gilt, with silk cords

- an ornamented chain for greyhounds

- a sword garnished with silver-gilt, with the arms of Castile, and a girdle and scabbard with the same pattern

- a fine sword with a girdle and scabbard of gold, embroidered with silver eaglets

- 7 sacks for clothes, of which 4 were worn and 2 of those 4 had no straps

- 2 rolls and 9 ells of worsted, in green, red and saffron

- 18 towels, of which 12 were very worn

- vast amounts of food, including: 64 new carcases of oxen and 14 old carcases, 14 score carcases of mutton, 20 new and 52 old hams, 1956 stockfish (they counted every one!), 71 and a half quarters of new beans and 41 quarters of old beans, 4 score and 11 salted ox-hides, 3 tuns of vinegar and 3 of honey

- 6 tuns of red wine and 1 of white, of which 10 inches were lacking, and 1 tun of raspay, of which 7 inches were lacking (wine from Raspay, not far from Alicante, on the south-eastern coast of Spain).

- a silver boat, with 4 silver wheels and 2 dragons' heads, at each end

- 44 silver goblets, 272 silver dishes and 279 silver saucers marked with a leopard

- 1 chest of hide (leather) for 2 urinals

- Many thousands of items of military clothing and equipment, including: 40 aketons, 1 of which was of green camaca covered with red kid; 35 hauberks; 1 pair of 'frettes' with 50 pewter eyelets; 2 pieces of white stag's hide for 1 sword girdle; 1130 bolts with hedgehog quills; 1 pair of large gauntlets of doeskin, lined with coney; and about 5 zillion other things that mean absolutely nothing to me. (Gisarmes? Ventails? Gasingales? Jazerants? Pisans? Bidowes? '4 sutturres, twisted, of red silk' and '9 Gascon sutturres'?)

Again, it's great that this detailed inventory has survived to give us an insight into fourteenth-century possessions! (Even though I'm admittedly clueless about lots of it.)


Gabriele Campbell said...

Lol, Ed and Hugh like their beds pretty, didn't they? ;)

Brian Wainwright said...

At the time of the 1398 Parliament Thomas Despenser petitioned to get compensation for a lot of the stuff his ancestor Hugh had lost. I don't have the detail to hand, but do recall it included huge numbers of animals, and was a *very* long list.

With all that spare gold, Edward II really should have spent more on mercenaries!

Jules Frusher said...

So now we know what Ed and Hughs bed looked like *grin*. I wonder why their towels were so worn?

I love the bit about Edwards retiring robe - the original teddy bear! Where was hughs retiring robe then - or perhaps he didnt wear one *another grin*

By the way, pardon my lack of possessive apostrophes - for some reason my browser doesnt always let me put them in!!!!

Kathryn Warner said...

Gabriele: oh yes, not just warm and comfortable, but colourful, too. ;)

Brian: Oooh, I'd never heard of that list before. I'll have to go and look it up in the parliament rolls. I suppose that, given Rich II's downfall and TD's execution not long afterwards, he never got the stuff?

And yes, Ed and HD were great at hoarding money, but terrible at knowing how to spend it effectively. There was a whopping £60,000 in the treasury in late 1326/early 1327.

Lady D: LOL! I'm not sure about Hugh's stuff - the list doesn't mention much of his at all, except for various bits of armour with his arms on them.

My own favourite bit is the goblet with baboons on it. (Wonder if they looked anything at all like baboons??)

Susan Higginbotham said...

I would have loved to have seen the butterfly hat myself. And who drank that missing wine? Was Hugh the youngest having a party?

Carla said...

"(they counted every one!)"
I wouldn't bet on it. A harrassed clerk might have known that a number that wasn't round was less likely to be checked :-)

I can help you with "ventail". I'm fairly sure that's the bottom part of the front of a helmet, sort of the bit that covers the chin and mouth. No idea about the others, though. Might be worth Googling? If they are bits of military hardware a re-enactment group might have constructed and published a glossary.

Gabriele Campbell said...

Maybe this guy can help you out. He sometimes comments on my blog as Stag.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry; the image of Edward and Hugh sitting in bed like Morecombe and Wise will stay with me for a long long time.

Hugh in his white beaver cap lined with green velvet and Ed in the one lined with black velvet complete with gold trefoils (whatever a trefoil is).

Obviously Ed also has his teddy bear festooned dressing gown on too.

Kathryn Warner said...

Susan: yes, I think it was Hugh the even younger who sneakily drank all that wine. ;)

Carla and Gabriele: thanks for the helpful info!

Ohhhh, THANK YOU, Paul! I'll never get that image out of my head now. :-) BTW, a trefoil is a three-leaved plant, like clover.

Brian Wainwright said...

Alianore, to answer your question on Thomas Despenser, I'm not sure how much if anything he got. I think I found the reference in Complete Peerage, though I'm sure the ultimate source will be the Parliament Rolls.

Anonymous said...

Here's another thought: jeweled dog chains and gilt spurs to go with the bear robe and the butterfly fur hats on the silk coverlets. Hmmm...

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Brian. I haven't found it in the parliament rolls yet (probably because I'm a complete spanner).

Christy: it's a lovely image, isn't it?

Gabriele Campbell said...

Some people here have a very naughty mind. :)

Anonymous said...

Gabriele: Yes, naughty mind but virtuous other stuff. Living the nun's life although I and EVERY ancestor since Tudor times is Protestant!

Anonymous said...

Ugh. Imagine the "old carcasses". Blech!

My stomach is churning.