26 October, 2011

Edward II In October 1325

A detailed look at Edward II's movements and activities this month 686 years ago, a year before the beginning of the revolution which was to sweep him from his throne.

Edward had said farewell to his elder son Edward of Windsor at Dover on 12 September 1325, when the boy sailed to France to pay homage to his uncle Charles IV for Aquitaine and Ponthieu.  Queen Isabella was also in France, and Edward would never see his wife or son again; fortunately for him, he had no way of knowing that.  From Dover, the king travelled slowly through Surrey to Westminster, staying at Banstead, a manor he had given to Isabella in 1318, and Bletchingley, forfeited in 1321 by his former favourite Hugh Audley, where the living quarters and the chapel were hastily cleaned and refurbished before his arrival.  Edward arrived at Banstead late in the evening of 5 October, and at midnight sent out messengers ordering the array of his army on land and sea to be renewed because of "some news which he had heard" - I don't know what that was - and summoned the treasurer, Archbishop William Melton, and other members of his council to come to him at Banstead on the 7th, "at the king’s rising."  On the same day, Edward wrote a letter to the chancellor Robert Baldock, which said "The king has found many faults in William de Gosefeld, clerk, as the chancellor knows well, for which he cannot be kept in the king's service, and has heard that he has been appointed justice in many places, which seems to be a great scandal."  The king called parliament on 10 October, to meet at Westminster on 18 November (it would mostly be devoted to the queen's refusal to return from France).

On the day he returned to Westminster, 9 October, Edward gave ten shillings to Jack the Trumpeter of Dover, who had bought forty-seven caged goldfinches for Edward to give to his niece Eleanor Despenser, and also paid his clerk Will of Dunstable to look after the birds until Eleanor took possession of them.   Edward stayed at his palace of Sheen from 12 to 18 October, with Eleanor, paying her expenses and ordering forty bundles of firewood for her chamber.  Eleanor's husband Hugh Despenser the Younger, for his part, set off for Wales: he was at Caerphilly on 9 October, and still away from court on 19 November, when Edward wrote to him.  Edward asked the pope on 16 October to grant dispensations for his children Eleanor of Woodstock and Edward of Windsor to marry King Alfonso XI of Castile and his sister Leonor, a dispensation being necessary as the children were second cousins once removed.  He also sent letters to Jaime II of Aragon's son and heir Alfonso and the regents of Castile, who included the bishops of Burgos and Avila and several of the king's royal kinsmen, thanking them for their affection for him and "the gracious and benevolent way" they had handled his affairs.   He left Sheen for Cippenham that day, and his chamber journal records that he bought fish from five fishermen of the Thames along the way; his clerk carefully noted that it was Edward himself, not one of his servants, who purchased the fish.  While at Cippenham, the king gave a pound to a woman who had brought him a gift of ale, bread and more fish, and twenty-five shillings to his porter Will Shene and his new wife Isode as a wedding present.  Edward exerted himself to help Thomas ate Churche, a valet of his kitchen, on 20 October: Thomas claimed to have been wrongfully imprisoned by a group of Londoners and an inquisition was being held regarding the matter, and Edward, having heard that "some people are trying to put on the inquisition suspicious and ignorant people by which damage may happen" to Thomas, ordered the mayor and sheriffs of London to ensure that "loyal and sufficient people who know the business" were put on the inquisition instead.  On the following day, Edward granted permission for the abbot of St Mary's in York to found a chapel in the Yorkshire village of Myton, "in honour of the Transubstantiation and the flesh and blood of Our Lord," to pray for the souls of the men killed at the Chapter of Myton in September 1319.

More evidence that Edward II had himself been planning to travel to France to pay homage to his brother-in-law Charles IV, and thus did not fall into some mythical trap prepared for him by Isabella and Roger Mortimer by sending his son (see here for much more about that), is found in an entry in his chamber journal of 23 October 1325, when the king gave a hundred shillings to "John Haddyng, sailor, captain of the ship called la Jonete of Winchelsea, in which ship the king should have passed overseas from Dover...".  On 31 October, Edward gave forty shillings to Katherine, wife of Hugh Despenser the Younger's chamberlain Clement Holditch, "who came to the king with some important business she had to do with his help," and the following day sent his valet John de Toucestre, who was retiring, to live at Reading Abbey (as was very common with retired servants of the royal household).  That's interesting, as Toucestre must have left the abbey a year later to fight for Edward after Isabella and Mortimer's invasion, and also joined the earl of Kent's conspiracy to free Edward from captivity in 1330.


Society of Antiquities of London MS 122
Calendar of Close Rolls 1323-1327
Calendar of Patent Rolls 1324-1327
Foedera 1307-1327
Calendar of Chancery Warrants 1244-1326
Elizabeth Hallam, The Itinerary of Edward II and His Household, 1307-1328 

16 October, 2011

My Edward II Badge

Courtesy of the History Police group on Facebook, one of whose members came up with the idea, a fancy official badge for Edward II's greatest fan, i.e. me.  :-)  Click here to make your own...:)

07 October, 2011

Friday Facts

More interesting stuff about Edward II, his reign and his family.  :-)

- Edward's grandfather King Fernando III of Castile and Leon captured Seville from the Moors in December 1248, and supposedly mocked his Muslim enemies by riding his horse up the Giralda tower, the minuet of Seville's Great Mosque - perhaps one of the factors which prompted a Muslim writer to describe him as "the tyrant, the cursed one."

- After Edward's ally Henry de Lacy, earl of Lincoln, died in early 1311, his daughter Alice's husband Thomas of Lancaster, Edward's first cousin, inherited Lincoln's lands by right of his wife.  Lancaster had to pay homage to Edward for his new lands, but refused to cross the Tweed into Scotland, where Edward was taking part in one of his unsuccessful campaigns, to do so.  Edward refused to return to England to accept the homage.  Lancaster threatened to take a hundred knights to forcibly enter his lands.  Eventually Edward caved in and agreed to meet his cousin at Haggerston, on the English side of the river, perhaps to save any future legal difficulties because Lancaster hadn't paid homage to him in England.

- Before his accession, Edward was usually named in documents as 'Lord Edward, prince of Wales' (in French, monsire Edward prince de Gales, and in Latin, Dominus Edwardus princeps Wallie).

- After he fled from the field of Bannockburn to safety at Dunbar Castle, Edward granted one William Franceis an income of fifty marks annually in gratitude for the unspecified "kind service he lately performed for the king in his presence at Dunbar."

- On 1 January 1317, Pope John XXII wrote to both Edward and Robert Bruce to confirm a two-year truce between them, addressing Edward as "our dearest son in Christ, Edward, illustrious king of England," and Robert as "our beloved son, the noble man, Robert de Bruce, holding himself king of Scotland."

- Edward's father-in-law Philippe IV of France died in a hunting accident on 29 November 1314; on 15 December, Edward ordered the archbishops of Canterbury and York, all the bishops and twenty-eight abbots to "celebrate exequies" for him.  

- Nine days before this order, on St Nicholas's Day, the king had given two pounds to Robert Tyeis, who officiated as boy-bishop in the chapel of his favourite manor of Langley.  In 1316, Edward gave six shillings and eight pence to John, son of Alan of Scrooby, who officiated as boy-bishop in his chapel on St Nicholas's Day, and ten shillings to the unnamed child who acted as boy-bishop in his presence at St Mary's Church in Nottingham on 28 December, the Feast of the Holy Innocents.

- One of Edward's clerks, Master James de Ispannia ('of Spain'), a canon of St Pauls in London whom the king appointed as one of the Chamberlains of the Exchequer of the Receipt in 1317, appears to have been his first cousin, presumably an illegitimate son of one of Eleanor of Castile's many brothers, though which one is uncertain.

- In August 1320, Edward wrote to the king of Cyprus, asking him to protect three Dominican friars going there to preach to the 'Saracens'.  The king is not named in the letter, which opens "To the magnificent lord prince..., by the grace of God illustrious king of Cyprus," as though no-one was sure what he was called.  In fact, he was Henry II de Lusignan, Edward II's third cousin twice removed via common descent from Eleanor of Aquitaine.