25 April, 2011

Happy Birthday And Happy Easter

Happy Birthday to Edward II, who was born on 25 April 1284 and is thus 727 years old today!  Looking good for his age, isn't he...?  :-)  It's also the birthday of King Louis IX of France in 1214; Edward II was seventy years younger to the day than Louis, who was both his father's uncle by marriage (Louis's wife Marguerite being the elder sister of Edward I's mother Eleanor of Provence) and his wife Isabella's great-grandfather.

Today is of course also Easter Monday, and I thought I'd take a quick look in this post at where Edward was for every Easter of his reign and what he was up to at that time.  Oh, he had a lovely tradition on Easter Monday, inherited from his father: if he was caught in bed that morning, his 'captors' had the right to drag him out, and he had to pay them a large ransom to free himself.  In 1311, Edward paid twenty pounds to three of his household knights who dragged him out of bed, and in 1312, gave forty marks to Isabella of France's damsels and ladies for 'capturing' him. 

Here are the dates of Easter Monday, and what Edward was up to:

1308, 15 April: Edward was at Windsor Castle with Piers Gaveston, and fortified the place against his barons, who were gathering at Westminster with the intent of forcing Edward to exile Piers.  (Which he duly had to do a few weeks later, to his great fury.) 

1309, 31 March: Edward was at Langley in Hertfordshire, his favourite residence, plotting to bring Piers back to England.  (Which he duly did a few weeks later, to his great joy. :)

1310, 20 April: Edward was at Windsor, having been recently forced to consent to the formation of a group of barons and bishops called the Lords Ordainer, who were to have sweeping powers to reform his household.

1311, 12 April: at Berwick-on-Tweed with Isabella, avoiding the Lords Ordainer and attempting a military campaign against Robert Bruce, which failed because Robert (sensibly) refused to meet an English army in the field and undertook guerrilla warfare instead.  Meanwhile, the Lords Ordainer in London were preparing the Ordinances, which would limit Edward's sovereign powers considerably and force Piers Gaveston into exile yet again.

1312, 27 March: at York, with the newly-pregnant Isabella and - guess who? - Piers Gaveston, who had returned to England from his third exile some weeks before.  Edward was, as he had been the previous year, staying (or is 'skulking' a better word?) in the north to avoid his baronial opponents.

1313, 16 April: at Windsor, avoiding the Westminster parliament which should have started on 18 March - it was on 7 April postponed until 6 May - by pretending to be ill ("the king did not come at the appointed day, detained, as was thought, by a feigned illness," says the Vita Edwardi Secundi).

1314, 8 April: at Ely Cathedral, quizzing the monks as to their supposed possession of the body of St Alban when he'd just seen it in St Albans Abbey.  Heh.  "You know that my brothers of St Albans believe that they possess the body of the martyr. In this place the monks say that they have the body of the same saint. By God’s soul, I want to see in which place I ought chiefly to pay reverence to the remains of that holy body."  You tell 'em, Edward.

1315, 24 March: at Windsor, having recently attended the parliament which regulated the price of basic foodstuffs in the early months of the Great Famine.

1316, 12 April: at Windsor, shortly after the rebellion of Llywelyn Bren and shortly before the rebellion in Bristol came to a head.

1317, 4 April: at the palace of Clarendon, supposedly plotting with Roger Damory and his other court favourites to annoy his cousin Thomas of Lancaster by abducting Lancaster's wife Alice de Lacy, shortly before Damory married Edward's rich widowed niece Elizabeth de Clare.

1318, 24 April: at Wallingford Castle, which had formerly belonged to Piers Gaveston, a few days after some of his barons and bishops met Thomas of Lancaster at Leicester in an attempt to improve the dire relations between the two most powerful men in the country.  Isabella was then heavily pregnant with their elder daughter Eleanor of Woodstock.

1319, 9 April: at Kirkham, around the time that Edward embarrassed himself by asking the pope for permission to have himself re-anointed with the holy oil of St Thomas Becket, in the belief that this would bring his political troubles to an end.  (In a remarkably honest letter to John XXII, Edward condemned his own gullibility and "dove-like simplicity.")

1320, 31 March: at Eltham in Kent with Isabella, waiting for safe-conducts from her brother Philippe V of France to arrive, for them to travel to Amiens so that Edward could pay homage to Philippe for his French lands.  The safe-conducts failed to arrive, so they returned to Westminster a week later, and finally travelled to Amiens in late June.

1321, 20 April: at Gloucester, attempting unsuccessfully to negotiate with the Marcher lords, who began attacking the lands of the two Hugh Despensers on 4 May.

1322, 12 April: at Pontefract Castle, formerly Thomas of Lancaster's, a few weeks after the successful campaign against the Contrariants and Lancaster's execution, and before parliament opened in York in May.

1323, 28 March: at Langley, not long after Edward returned south after a long sojourn in Yorkshire.  This was the year when it all started to go horribly wrong for him, as I mentioned recently.

1324, 16 April: also at Langley, nine days before Edward's fortieth birthday.  By now the king was, brilliantly, openly feuding with several of his bishops and his cousin Henry of Lancaster, while war with his brother-in-law Charles IV broke out this year and the king and the Despensers were wildly unpopular.  Bravo, Edward.

1325, 8 April: at Beaulieu Abbey, a few weeks after Queen Isabella sailed for France to negotiate with her brother Charles IV; Edward would never see his wife again.  She sent him a letter on 31 March, calling him "my very sweet heart" (mon tresdoutz coer).

1326, 24 March: at Kenilworth, also formerly his cousin Thomas of Lancaster's.  Crisis crisis crisis, with Isabella and Roger Mortimer's invasion expected any time and war with France breaking out again.  Edward did find time a few weeks before Easter to found Oriel College at Oxford, however, and on 11 March, gave money to his painter Jack of St Albans for dancing on a table and making him laugh.

Easter Monday fell on 13 April in 1327; Sir Edward of Caernarfon, formerly King Edward II, spent it at his new home of Berkeley Castle - not entirely voluntarily, shall we say - where he had been moved from Kenilworth a few days previously.


rakesh singh (fb) said...

The dragging play is interesting...

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks for leaving a comment, Rakesh! Yes, that's a lovely tradition, I think.

Rowan said...

Me too. :) And thanks for that gorgeous post, Kathryn!

Susan Higginbotham said...

It's so neat that you blogged about his whereabouts year after year on Easter Monday! Happy birthday, Edward!

Kathryn Warner said...

Thank you, Ashmodiel and Susan! :-)

Clement Glen said...

Edward comes across in your posts Kathryn, as a really down-to-earth person. Some one way ahead of his time.

Kate S said...

In early 1324 Edward was openly feuding with Henry of Lancaster?
Will you write more about him someday, Kathryn? Henry is so obscure during Edward II's reign! Yet there's something very appealing about him.

Kathryn Warner said...

Clement, yes, he really does, doesn't he - which makes me both love him and pity him...!

Kate, probably feuding is too strong a word, but Edward refused to grant Henry his brother's full inheritance, and didn't allow him to call himself earl of Lancaster, which (understandably) made Henry angry and resentful. That's a great idea, to write a post about Henry - will try to do that sometime soon! :-)

Kate S said...

I think that would only be fair, since you have his brother's bio in 4, and his son's in 3 posts! :-) I'm sure he must feel neglected, if not angry and resentful about that! ;-)))

Kathryn Warner said...

Hehehe, very good point! He must be most annoyed with me for ignoring him, poor Henry! :-))

Anerje said...

back from hols - so missed Edward's birthday - belated greetings anyway! Love the idea of tracking Easter through his reign! Very meticulous of you, as ever. And that tradition of being caught in bed at Easter and ransommed sounds great fun! I just hope he was never caught with anybody he shouldn't have been caught with :>

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Anerje! Happy belated Easter, and glad to hear you had a great time!

"I just hope he was never caught with anybody he shouldn't have been caught with." Hehehehe. :-))

Bryan Dunleavy said...

Some time back we got into a thread about Agnes Strickland's Lives of the Queens of England. I was in Waterstone's yesterday and noticed that her book has now been re-published with an introduction by Antona Fraser - if anyone's interested in a 19th C take on history.

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks for the info, Bryan! I didn't know that - will look out for it.

Anerje said...

Lives of the Queens of England was re-published late last year. I did put in order in at Amazon, but not all the volumes have been published yet. Antonia Fraser has a separate book with a 'best of' section - notably Anne Boleyn.

Btw, the story of Edward getting caught in bed on Easter morn - it suggests the whole escapade was great fun, and that yes, Isa enjoyed it as well - which means she couldn't have spent all her life neglected, humiliated, blah, blah, yawn, yawn. She had Edward actually had some FUN! Who'd have thought it?:>