15 October, 2010

Friday Facts 1

Some random facts about Edward II...

- Edward twice survived a fire: at Windsor Castle in April 1306, when he gave a gift of ten shillings each to the watchmen Richard de Windsor and Richard de Burghardesle who roused him from his bed, evacuated members of his household and others and helped to extinguish the flames; and at Pontoise in June 1313, when a fire broke out in his and Isabella's lodgings and he gathered his wife up in his arms and rushed outside, both of them naked. The couple lost many possessions in this fire. The watchman Richard de Windsor had other talents: the month after he saved Edward from the fire, Edward summoned him to Byfleet in Surrey to "make his minstrelsy in the presence of the lord prince [of Wales] and his nobles." [1]

- Edward's youngest sibling was his half-sister Eleanor, third child of Edward I and his second wife Marguerite of France, following Thomas of Brotherton, earl of Norfolk (born 1 June 1300) and Edmund of Woodstock, earl of Kent (born 5 August 1301). Eleanor was born on 4 May 1306 - and named perhaps in honour of Edward I's first queen Eleanor of Castile, or Edward's eldest surviving daughter Eleanor, countess of Bar - when Edward I was almost sixty-seven and the future Edward II twenty-two. Eleanor was fifteen years younger than her nephew the earl of Gloucester, Edward I's eldest grandchild. The little girl was a mere four days old when her father opened negotiations on 8 May 1306 for her marriage to Robert (b. 1300), son and heir of Othon IV, count palatine of Burgundy, and Mahaut, countess of Artois. (Robert's elder sisters Jeanne and Blanche married Philippe V and Charles IV of France.) Edward of Caernarfon bound himself on 31 August 1306 "to settle upon her [Eleanor] 10,000 marks sterling for her marriage, and 5,000 marks for her trousseau, to be paid to her within seven years, and to find her proper sustenance according to her estate until she is married."
Little Eleanor died shortly before 28 August 1311, at the age of five; her half-brother Edward II paid 113 pounds "for the expenses and preparations made for the burial of the body of the Lady Eleanor, the king’s sister" at Beaulieu Abbey, Hampshire. Her fiancé Robert of Burgundy died unmarried in 1315, aged fifteen, and his vast inheritance passed to his sister Jeanne, then queen of France. [2]

- Talking of Mahaut, countess of Artois in her own right and heroine of Maurice Druon's Les Rois Maudits/The Accursed Kings series of novels, Edward II and Isabella of France visited her at Hesdin (in the modern Pas-de-Calais department in northern France) on or about 11 July 1313, on their way back to England after their extended visit to the French court. Mahaut took pains to ensure that her castle looked at its absolute best during the king and queen's visit: she paid a group of painters to clean and otherwise repair the paintings in the 'Indian hall', the 'hall of shields', the oddly-named 'chamber of pigs in the Marais', the great chapel and the vaunted chapel, "against the coming of the king of England" (contre le venue du roy Dengleterre). [3]

- On Edward of Caernarfon's nineteenth birthday, 25 April 1303, he gave a gift of a penny each to 300 poor people. [4]

- Whether Edward saw them or not I don't know, but the Sempringham annalist says, rather oddly, that in England in 1317 "there issued from the earth water-mice with long tails, larger than rats, with which the fields and meadows were filled in the summer and in August." [5]

- On his way to fight at Bannockburn in June 1314, Edward took a travelling wine cellar with him, and Isabella of France, who accompanied him as far as Berwick-on-Tweed, took a wooden altar "bound with iron bands in the manner of a coffer," which could be packed up and carried by a sumpter-horse. [6]

- An anonymous cleric told Edward's confessor during the great famine in 1315 that "our king as he passes through the country takes men’s goods and pays little or nothing or badly…Formerly, indeed, the inhabitants used to rejoice to see the face of the king when he came, but now, because the king’s approach injures the people, his departure gives them much pleasure and as he goes off they pray that he may never return." The correspondent added that Edward II too often visited religious houses, which presumably (the remainder of the letter is missing) was intended as a criticism of the huge costs the houses had to bear in accommodating the king and his large retinue. This is a fair point: Edward stayed for five weeks with the Franciscans of York in the late summer of 1316 and only gave them ten pounds for the expenses of himself and his household. [7]

- Among the possessions which Edward left with the London draper (and future mayor) Simon de Swanland in the autumn of 1326, when he fled the capital following the arrival of Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer's invasion force, were: a cushion cover of vermilion sendal (a fine silk); a cloth-of-gold mantle edged with white pearls and silver; a green coverlet with three matching tapestries; four ells of Tarsus cloth (a kind of felt cloth, from the home town of St Paul) with golden stripes. [8]

- After Piers Gaveston's wedding to Edward's niece Margaret de Clare at Berkhamstead on 1 November 1307, Edward paid a local resident named Richard le Kroc five shillings in compensation for "damages done to his property by the king's party." [9]

- On 21 May 1321, Edward (then aged thirty-seven) gave ten pounds to the messenger who brought him news of the birth of his latest great-nephew, the future Count Henri IV of Bar, son of Edward's nephew Count Edouard I of Bar and Marie of Burgundy (whose sister Marguerite, died 1315, was the first wife of Edward II's brother-in-law Louis X of France). Three days later, the king paid Robert le Fermor, bootmaker of Fleet Street, thirty shillings for six pairs of boots "with tassels of silk and drops of silver-gilt." [10]


1) Constance Bullock-Davies, Menestrellorum Multitudo: Minstrels at a Royal Feast, p. 51; Constance Bullock-Davies, A Register of Royal and Baronial Domestic Minstrels 1272-1327, p. 165; Roy Martin Haines, King Edward II: His Life, His Reign, and Its Aftermath, 1284-1330, pp. 41 and 374, note 84.
2) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1301-1307, pp. 431, 460; Frederick Devon, Issues of the Exchequer: Being A Collection of Payments Made Out of His Majesty’s Revenue from King Henry III to King Henry VI Inclusive, p. 124.
3) Malcolm Vale, The Princely Court: Medieval Courts and Culture in North-West Europe, pp. 229, 280.
4) Seymour Phillips, Edward II, p. 64.
5) John Glover, ed., Le Livere de Reis de Britanie e le Livere de Reis de Engletere, p. 333.
6) Aryeh Nusbacher, Bannockburn 1314, p. 89; Vale, Princely Court, pp. 221-222.
7) N. Denholm-Young, ed., Vita Edwardi Secundi, p. 75; Thomas Stapleton, 'A Brief Summary of the Wardrobe Accounts of the tenth, eleventh, and fourteenth years of King Edward the Second', Archaeologia, 26 (1836), p. 320.
8) J. Harvey Bloom, 'Simon de Swanland and King Edward II', Notes and Queries, 11th series, 4 (1911), p. 2.
9) J.S. Hamilton, Piers Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall 1307-1312: Politics and Patronage in the Reign of Edward II, pp. 38 and 140, note 13.
10) Stapleton, 'A Brief Summary', pp. 338, 344-345.


Anerje said...

Ah, no randon Edward II facts could be complete without a mention of Piers:> Thank you!

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Anerje! A mention of Piers is basically compulsory here...;)

Anerje said...

oh, you've changed the layout of your blog! And very nice it is as well!

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Anerje! Suddenly decided I was sick of the old blog, so changed it. :-)

Gabriele Campbell said...

Lol, there I don't check my blogroll for a few days and almost everyone changed their layout on me.

Blackmouth said...

Very interesting.
Thanks for the great information.

Kudos on a great blog overall.
But, I must admit I am biased.
I love history.


Kathryn Warner said...

Gabriele, it's funny when you come back online and everything's different, isn't it...? :-)

Thank you for the kind words, Blackmouth! Really glad you like the blog, and always good to meet people who love history!

Carla said...

How common were fires? Timber buildings and open hearths suggest they would be fairly common, but I can't think of many kings who've had a narrow escape from two.

Kathryn Warner said...

Carla, I can imagine they were a fairly common occurrence, but poor Edward having to flee from two strikes me as rather unlucky! :D