24 February, 2012

Some Ancestors Of Edward II

I've been doing some research into a few of Edward II's ancestors lately.  I didn't know that he had some Polish blood: one of his great-great-great-great-great-grandfathers was Władysław II, High Duke of Poland and duke of Silesia (1105-1159), whose daughter Richeza married Alfonso VII of Castile.  (And that's interesting in itself - a marital alliance between Spain and Poland in the twelfth century.)  Richeza and Alfonso's only child Sancha married Alfonso II of Aragon, and their son Alphonse was count of Provence and the grandfather of Edward's paternal grandmother Eleanor:

Edward II - Edward I - Eleanor of Provence, d. 1291 - Ramon Berenger V, count of Provence, d. 1245 - Alphonse, count of Provence, d. 1209 - Sancha of Castile, d. 1208 - Richeza of Poland, d. 1198 - Władysław II, d. 1159.

Władysław's grandfather Sviatopolk II, the father of his mother Sbaslawa or Zbyslava, was the ruler of Kievan Rus and prince of Novgorod.  (My friend Christy Robinson knows a lot about this family.)  Władysław's father was Bolesław III Wrymouth (d. 1138), prince of Poland.  Through Bolesław's mother Judith, Edward II was descended from kings of Bohemia, German dukes and counts, the grand dukes of Kiev (again) and was the ten greats grandson of Olga Prekrasna (d. 969), wife of Igor I of Kiev, who converted to Christianity in Constantinople and took the name Yelena or Helen.  She was canonised as a saint and equal-to-the-Apostles in 1547 and is considered the first saint of the Russian Orthodox church, instrumental in spreading Christianity in Russia.

The mother of Richeza of Poland and wife of Władysław II was the German noblewoman Agnes of Babenberg.  Agnes' father Leopold III (d. 1136), margrave of Austria - Edward II's six greats grandfather - is the patron saint of Austria.  Agnes of Babenberg's mother Agnes of Franconia (d. 1143) was the mother of Conrad III of Germany, the first king of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, by her first marriage.  She was the daughter of  the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV (d. 1106), Edward II's seven greats grandfather, by his first wife Bertha of Savoy.  Henry IV is most famous for being forced to wait for three days in the snow at Canossa in 1077 by Pope Gregory VII, who had excommunicated him.

Also via Agnes of Babenberg and her father Leopold III, Edward II was the ten greats grandson of Otto Orseolo, doge of Venice from 1008 to 1026, and his wife Sarolta Arpad, daughter of Geza, Grand Prince of the Magyars.  Sarolta's brother Stephen (or István, d. 1038) was the first king of Hungary and was canonised in 1083; his feast day is still a national holiday in Hungary.  Edward II is descended from Otto Orseolo and Sarolta's daughter Froila.  Geza's great-grandfather was Arpad Arpad (d. c. 907), Edward's fourteen greats grandfather, second Grand Prince of the Magyars (after his father Almos).

Another saint in the family, ancestor of Richeza of Poland and Edward II's thirteen greats grandmother, is Saint Ludmila of Bohemia (d. 921), who is a patron saint of Bohemia, the Czech Republic, widows, people who have problems with their in-laws, and - of all people - duchesses.  Her grandson Boleslav, Edward's ancestor, was the brother of St Wenceslas (as in 'Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the feast of Stephen, where the snow lay round about...').

Olaf Skötkonung, also known as Olaf Eiríksson, king of Sweden from 995 to 1022, was Edward II's eight or nine greats grandfather through three lines: via Richeza of Poland, and via both of Edward's parents, who were descended from Anna Yaroslavna (also known as Anne of Kiev), daughter of Yaroslav, prince of Novgorod and Kiev and granddaughter of Olaf.  Anna married Henry I of France (d. 1060).  Olaf Skötkonung's maternal grandmother was Dobrava of Prague, daughter of Boleslas, king of Bohemia and an English mother, Adiva or Edith, daughter of Edward the Elder, king of Wessex, son of Alfred the Great (d. 899).  Edward II was descended from Alfred the Great many times over, including via Alfred's daughter Ælfthryth and her son Adalulf (d. 933), count of Boulogne.  Edward the Elder's daughter Edith (d. 946) married Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor (d. 973), Edward II's ten greats grandparents

Edward II was the great-great-grandson of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine; he was also the great-great-grandson of Alais of France, daughter of Eleanor's former husband Louis VII of France, who was betrothed to Henry and Eleanor's son Richard Lionheart but may have been Henry's mistress.

Edward II - Eleanor of Castile, d. 1290 - Jeanne de Dammartin, queen of Castile and countess of Ponthieu, d. 1279 - Marie, lady of Ponthieu, d. 1250 - Alais of France, countess of Ponthieu and the Vexin, d. c. 1220.

I really like one of Isabella of France's lines: she was the seven greats granddaughter of Harold Godwinson, the king of England killed at the battle of Hastings in 1066, via Harold's daughter Gytha, who married Vladimir II Monomakh, grand duke of Kiev, in about 1070.  It makes me happy to think that the kings of England from Edward III onwards are Harold Godwinson's descendants:

Isabella of France - Philip IV, d. 1314 - Isabel of Aragon, queen of France, d. 1271 - Yolande of Hungary, queen of Aragon, d. 1251 - Andras II, king of Hungary, d. 1235 - Bela III, king of Hungary, d. 1196 - Euphrosyne of Kiev, d. before 1186 - Mstislav I, grand duke of Kiev, d. 1132 - Gytha Haroldsdaughter, d. 1107 - Harold Godwinson, king of England, d. 1066.

Talking of an Anglo-Saxon connection, as well as another saint in the family, Edward II was the seven greats grandson of Edmund Ironside, briefly king of England for a few months in 1016 until his defeat in battle by Cnut, via Edmund's son Edward the Exile (who grew up in Hungary) and Edward's daughter Saint Margaret, queen of Scotland (who married Malcolm Canmore):

Edward II - Edward I - Henry III - King John - Henry II - Empress Matilda, d. 1167 - Edith (Matilda) of Scotland, queen of England, d. 1118 - Saint Margaret of England/Hungary, queen of Scotland, d. 1093 - Edward the Exile, d. 1057 - Edmund Ironside, d. 1016.

Edward II's great-great-great-great-grandmother Petronilla (c. 1135-1173) was queen of Aragon in her own right.  Her father Ramiro was a monk forced to give up his monastic vows temporarily to become king of Aragon on the death of his childless brother; he returned to his monastery after fathering Petronilla (by Agnes of Poitou, aunt of Edward II's great-great-grandmother Eleanor of Aquitaine) and betrothing her as a baby to Raymond Berenger IV, count of Barcelona.  Petronilla abdicated in 1163 in favour of her young son Alfonso II, and acted as regent for him until her death the following year.

Edward II - Edward I - Eleanor of Provence - Raymond Berenger, count of Provence - Alphonse, count of Provence - Alfonso II, king of Aragon, d. 1196 - Petronilla, queen of Aragon, d. 1164 - Ramiro 'the Monk', king of Aragon, d. 1147.

Edward's great-grandmother Berenguela (1180-1246, granddaughter through her mother of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine) became queen of Castile in her own right on the death of her brother Enrique I in 1217, but immediately abdicated in favour of her son Fernando III.  She acted as her son's regent for a few years and was still his chief adviser after he came of age.

The first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques (c. 1109-1185), was Edward's great-great-great-grandfather:

Edward II - Eleanor of Castile - Fernando III of Castile and Leon, d. 1252 - Alfonso IX of Leon, d. 1230 - Urraca of Portugal, d. 1188 - Afonso Henriques, d. 1185.

Leo VI Mamikonian, emperor of Byzantium (d. 912), was Edward's twelve greats grandfather, by his second wife Zoe Zaoutzaina.  Leo was known as 'the Wise' or 'the Philsopher', and his paternity is uncertain, though his mother was certainly the Empress Eudokia Ingerina, wife of one Byzantine emperor and mistress of another.

Edward's thirteen greats grandmother may have been Auria or Oria bint Lopo, who may have been the wife of Fortún Garcés, king of Pamplona (d. 905).  She came from the Banu Qasi dynasty of northern Spain, who converted to Islam in the early eighth century following the Umayyad conquest of much of the Iberian peninsula.

Edward was descended from the Bagratuni or Bagratid dynasty, who ruled Armenia as princes and kings from the eighth to eleventh centuries.  For example, Varaz-Tirots Bagratuni, Marzpan (i.e. governor-general) of Armenia from 628 to 635, was Edward's twenty greats grandfather (roughly).

20 February, 2012

The Well-Connected Anjou/Naples Siblings

A post today about some of Edward II's first cousins once removed and second cousins.

Edward's paternal grandmother Eleanor of Provence was the second of four sisters, daughters of Count Raymond Berenger V of Provence and Beatrice of Savoy, who all became queens (for more information about them, see Nancy Goldstone's non-fiction book Four Queens: The Provencal Sisters Who Ruled Europe, and also Sherry Jones' forthcoming novel Four Sisters, All Queens).  The eldest, Marguerite, married Louis IX of France in 1234 and was the mother of Philip III (and others); Eleanor married Henry III of England in 1236 and was the mother of Edward I (and others); Sanchia married Henry III's brother Richard of Cornwall, future king of Germany, in 1243, and was the mother of Edmund, earl of Cornwall; Beatrice married Louis IX's brother Charles of Anjou, future king of Sicily, in 1246, and was the mother of Charles, king of Naples (and others).  Philip III, Edward I, Edmund of Cornwall, Charles of Naples and their siblings were thus all very closely related, being the offspring of one set of sisters and two sets of brothers.

It's the descendants of Charles, king of Naples (c. 1248/54 - 5 May 1309) whom I mainly want to talk about today.  His father Charles of Anjou was crowned king of Sicily in 1266; the story of how he took the kingdom from Manfred, illegitimate son of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, and then lost it again to Manfred's daughter Constanza and her husband Pedro III of Aragon and died in exile, is a fascinating one.  The other children of Beatrice of Provence (d. 1267) and Charles of Anjou (d. 1285) were: Beatrice (d. 1275), who married Philip de Courtenay, titular emperor of Constantinople, and whose only child Catherine married Philip IV of France's brother Charles of Valois; Blanche (d. 1270), who married Robert of Béthune, count of Flanders; Philip (d. 1277), titular king of Thessalonica; Isabella (d. 1304), who married László IV, king of Hungary.

Charles of Naples - first cousin once removed of Edward II, whose wedding to Isabella of France he attended the year before his death - had many titles: king of Albania, king of Naples, prince of Salerno, prince of Achaea (part of the Peloponnese peninsula in Greece), prince of Taranto (a port in Apulia, southern Italy), count of Provence and count of Anjou.  He was not, however, king of Sicily as his father had been; the kingdom passed to Pedro III of Aragon and then to two of his sons and their descendants.  He is known to history as Charles 'the Lame' (le Boiteux in French).  In 1270, Charles married Marie of Hungary (c. 1257-1323), sister of  László IV who married his sister Isabella.  Two of Marie's sisters were queens of Serbia, while the fourth married the Byzantine emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos, whose second wife was Edward II's first cousin once removed Yolande of Montferrat.  Charles of Naples and Marie of Hungary's many children, Edward II's second cousins, are the main focus of this post:

- Charles Martel, titular king of Hungary (1271-1295).  The eldest son and named after his father Charles of Naples and his grandfather Charles of Anjou.  Charles Martel ('Hammer') was seen by some as the successor of his mother's childless brother László IV of Hungary, though never ruled the country.  His son Charles (or Károly in Hungarian) sent to Hungary as a child by his grandfather Charles of Naples in 1300, did successfully press the family's claim, however, and eventually ruled the country, and was also king of Croatia.  Charles Martel married Clementia of Hapsburg (also d. 1295), one of the daughters of Rudolf, king of Germany and duke of Austria, Styria and Carinthia; their daughter Clemence married Louis X of France in 1315 and was the mother of the short-lived John I 'the Posthumous' of France.  (Clementia of Hapsburg's brother Hartmann was betrothed to Edward II's sister Joan of Acre from 1278 to 1281, when he drowned in the Rhine.)  Charles Martel died the month before his twenty-fourth birthday.

Marguerite, countess of Anjou in her own right, countess of Valois (1273-1299).  Marguerite took Anjou with her as dowry when she married Philip IV's brother Charles, count of Valois (1270-1325) in 1290 (his second wife was Marguerite's first cousin Catherine de Courtenay, titular empress of Constantinople, mentioned above; his third was Mahaut of Châtillon or of St Pol, whose sister Marie married Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke).  Marguerite was the mother of Philip VI, the first Valois king of France, and through her daughter Jeanne, the grandmother of Edward III's queen Philippa of Hainault.

- Saint Louis of Toulouse (1274-1297).  Elected bishop of Toulouse just a few months before his death at the age of twenty-three, the same age as his elder brother, having previously been elected archbishop of Lyon in 1294.  Louis was canonised by Pope John XXII in April 1317, his feast day 19 August, the date of his death; the great-uncle after whom he was presumably named, Louis IX of France, had been canonised in 1297.  For more info about him, see here.

- Robert 'the Wise', king of Naples, titular king of Sicily and Jerusalem, prince of Salerno, duke of Calabria, count of Provence, Forcalquier and Piedmont (1277-1343).  The fourth child and third son of Charles of Naples and Marie of Hungary, and the eldest to outlive their father.  I can hardly do justice to Robert's long and eventful life here, or to his contested claims to the throne of Jerusalem, which came from Marie of Antioch (d. 1277).  Edward II tactfully addressed his kinsman as 'king of Sicily and Jerusalem' when he unsuccessfully tried to claim a share of the county of Provence from him in 1323.  Robert married firstly Violante or Yolande, daughter of Pedro III of Aragon and Constanza of Sicily - two of her brothers really did reign as kings of Sicily - and secondly Sancha, daughter of Jaime, king of Majorca.  His heir when he died was his granddaughter Jeanne or Joanna, whose mother was one of the many daughters of the prolific Charles of Valois, by his third wife Mahaut of Châtillon.  The notorious, much-married and murdered Queen Jeanne is the subject of another of Nancy Goldstone's books.

- Philip, titular emperor of Constantinople, king of Albania, prince of Achaea, prince of Taranto, despot of Epirus*, lord of Durazzo** (1278-1333).
* a successor state of the Byzantine Empire in Greece and Albania

** a city in Albania.

I've mentioned Philip of Taranto before, as he sent a violist named Robert Daverouns to Edward II in 1316.  In 1294 he married Thamar Angelina Komnena, great-niece of the Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos (Edward II wrote to Michael's son Andronikus, and his cousin Empress Eirene, in 1314, asking them to help free Sir Giles Argentein).  Philip and Thamar's marriage was not successful: Thamar, raised in the Orthodox faith, was forced to convert to Catholicism and renamed Caterina, and in 1309, Philip accused her of adultery with no fewer than forty noblemen, annulled their marriage and imprisoned her.  She died in 1311.  Philip then married, in 1313, his first cousin once removed Catherine of Valois, daughter of - who else? - Charles of Valois and his second wife Catherine de Courtenay, titular empress of Constantinople.  Philip's children included: Jeanne, who married Oshin, king of Armenia; Marguerite, who married the titular duke of Athens; and Philip, despot of Romania, who married his first cousin Violante, daughter of Jaime II of Aragon, who had once been proposed as a bride for Edward III.

-  Blanche, queen of Aragon (c. 1280-1310).  Blanche married Jaime II, king of Aragon, in 1295.  Jaime succeeded his brother Alfonso III, who was planning his marriage to Edward II's sister Eleanor when he died suddenly in 1291.  He himself first married Sancho IV of Castile's eldest daughter Isabel, but had the marriage annulled when Sancho died in 1295, and married Blanche soon afterwards.  Blanche's son succeeded as Alfonso IV in 1327; her grandson the future Pedro IV (b. 1319) was betrothed to Edward II's younger daughter Joan in 1325; Edward had previously made plans to marry his son and heir Edward III to Blanche and Jaime II's youngest daughter Violante (b. 1310).  Edward II said in February 1325 that Jaime "is old and decrepit and it is not certain that he is not dead," although Jaime lived for another two years and nine months.  After Blanche's death aged about thirty, Jaime married Marie de Lusignan, daughter of the king of Cyprus, and fourthly Elisenda de Montcada, daughter of an Aragonese nobleman.

- Raymond Berenger, count of Andria (1281-1307).  Died unmarried.

- John, a priest (1283-1308), and Tristan, born and died 1284.

- Eleanor or Alienore, queen of Sicily (1289-1341).  She married Fadrique (Frederick), king of Sicily, one of the sons of Pedro III of Aragon and Constanza of Sicily, whose sister Violante married her brother Robert 'the Wise'.  Her children included Pedro, king of Sicily, and Constanza, who married firstly Henry of Lusignan, king of Cyprus, and secondly Leo IV, king of Armenia.

- Marie, queen of Majorca (1290-1346/47).  Married in 1309 to Sancho I, king of Majorca, who died childless in 1324. His father was the brother of Pedro III of Aragon, of Isabel, who married Philip III of France, and of Violante, who married Alfonso X of Castile.

- Peter 'Tempesta', count of Eboli and Gravina (1291-1315).  Died childless.

- John, lord of Durazzo, count of Gravina (1294-1336).  (Another John.)  In 1318 he married, as her third husband, Matilda of Hainault, after abducting her with the connivance of his brothers Robert and Philip, but their marriage was annulled for non-consummation in 1321.  John married secondly Agnes of Périgord, by whom he had three sons.

- Beatrice, Countess of Andria (1295-1335).  She married firstly the decades-older Azzo VIII d'Este, marchese of Ferrara, who died in January 1308 when she was still barely pubescent, and secondly Bertrand III des Baux, count of Andria, with whom she had one daughter.

14 February, 2012

Be My Valentine, Not A Dummy

Some years ago, Edward II penned a deeply moving Valentine letter to Piers Gaveston, using the Valentine Generator. He now writes one to Hugh Despenser.

To my delicious hedgehog,

You are the pearl of my surcoat. I want to smooch with you more than any Castilian in the whole privy.

The first time we roller-bladed, I felt scrumptious in my liver, and I was so anguished that I could barely yodel. I knew that we would prevaricate together for a minute and a half.

Whenever you stampede, it makes me pout awesomely and belch like a sumptuous ruby.

I will fondle with you fluffily until the Tower of London throbs and the parliament reveres.

Magnificent Valentine's Day!
Love, your disgruntled heretic
Edward, king of England, lord of Ireland, prince of Wales, duke of Aquitaine, earl of Chester and count of Ponthieu.

More of the Edward II for Dummies series, from here :-)

Some anagrams of 'Edward of Caernarfon' (from here):

A Cad Narrow Offender
A Facade Nod Err Frown
A New Afforded Rancor
A Canon Forward Freed
A Farce Adorn Frowned
A Dancer Narrowed Off
A Racoon Dwarf Fender

Isabella of France:

A Faecal Snob Lifer
A Facial Noble Serf
A Rascal Noble Fief
A[n] Anal Bile Scoffer
A Fabric Sale Felon

Piers Gaveston:

Grapevines Sot
Envisage Strop
Avengers Posit
Veteran Gossip
Overeats Pings
Vintage Posers
Onstage Vipers
Pensive Groats
Pats Sovereign

Hugh Despenser:

He Spurns Hedge
He Hugs Spender
Her Pens Gushed
Nerds Hug Sheep
Hug Ends Herpes

11 February, 2012

A Plot To Free Some Contrariants, 1323

 I've already written several posts about Edward II's successful campaign against the Contrariants in 1321/22, and the executions of twenty or twenty-two men which followed.  In addition, a few dozen men were imprisoned - various chroniclers give the numbers as sixty-two, eighty-three or a hundred [1] - while others were released in and after 1322 after being forced to acknowledge that they owed large debts to the king in return for a pardon.  The men imprisoned included Roger Mortimer of Wigmore and his uncle Roger Mortimer of Chirk; Maurice, Lord Berkeley and his son Thomas, Edward's future captor at Berkeley Castle; Edward's former favourite Sir Hugh Audley and his father Hugh Audley the elder.  I have no idea what Edward II's long-term plans were regarding the imprisoned Contrariants; did he intend to keep them locked up forever, or did he think that one day he might be secure enough on his throne to release them?  That day never came, and with the exception of a handful of escapees (Hugh Audley, Robert Walkfare, and, of course, Roger Mortimer), the Contrariants imprisoned in 1322 remained there until freed after Mortimer and Isabella's invasion in 1326.

Several chroniclers describe a plot to free several of the Contrariants from captivity in early 1323, and there are also references to the plot in official government sources and an extant letter of Edward II.  Maurice, Lord Berkeley and Hugh Audley the Elder were imprisoned at Wallingford Castle in Berkshire - which had formerly belonged to Piers Gaveston - and, according to a long account of the plot in the Vita Edwardi Secundi [2], "a certain esquire who had long been in his [Berkeley's] service used often to visit him...it happened one day that this esquire with three or four companions entered the castle, by leave of the guard, and because his visit was customary it was in no way suspicious.  The same night Maurice invited the constable to dine with him, and all the doorkeepers and watchmen in the castle as well.  As they were dining the esquire and his companions suddenly rose and demanded the keys of the castle, threatening with death anyone who resisted."  The constable handed over the keys, and the squire let in twenty or so others, intending "to warn certain friends and to get his lord Maurice away at cockcrow together with the other prisoners."  Unluckily for them, a boy "living at the outer gate, realising that affairs in the inner ward were not as they should be, secretly slipped out, went to the mayor of the town, and at once reported that the castle was lost, and that many strangers had entered."  Thus was the plan foiled, and the sheriff arrived in the morning and ordered the men inside to surrender.  The Vita says that Edward II's half-brother Edmund of Woodstock, earl of Kent, and Hugh Despenser the Elder, earl of Winchester, happened to be in the area, and entered the castle, where they found "Maurice in custody as usual, and the rest in the chapel."  Berkeley "stoutly maintained that he had plotted nothing to the prejudice of the lord king...".  (A leaf of the Vita is unfortunately missing at this point, so the story remains unfinished.)

The Sempringham continuation of the Livere de Reis de Britanie has a totally different account of events [3]: it says that on 11 January 1323 Wallingford Castle was captured by Maurice Berkeley's wife, and that they held the castle for about two weeks until Edward II's forces besieged it and they surrendered.  The Livere says that they were aided by Sir John Maltravers, Sir Edmund de la Beche and Hodgkin de Wandon, who "chiefly held the castle, [and] were bound and brought before the king."  Two interesting things here.  John Maltravers was another of Edward of Caernarfon's captors at Berkeley Castle in 1327, and is usually assumed to have fled from England after the battle of Boroughbridge in March 1322, though it's not impossible that he was still there or had returned temporarily and was trying to create as much trouble for Edward II as possible (his father John Maltravers the Elder was still in England and at liberty, and attacked a fair in Dorset in or shortly before October 1325).  [4]  Secondly, Maurice Berkeley's wife - his second wife, whom he married in 1316 or thereabouts when she was already in her mid-fifties - was Isabel de Clare, the much older half-sister of Eleanor de Clare and thus Hugh Despenser the Younger's sister-in-law.  (Much as I'd love to think of Isabel, the eldest child of Gilbert 'the Red', earl of Gloucester and then aged sixty, holding a castle with her husband against the king and some of his powerful nobles, I'm afraid I just don't think the annalist's account is correct.)  The Brut chronicle contains a short account similar to the Vita's [5], naming Maurice Berkeley's squire as Roger Wauton, and saying that Sir Edmund Beche and Sir John 'Goleinton' were taken to Edward II at Pontefract after the castle's surrender and that Wauton was drawn and hanged at York.  John 'Goleinton' has been identified as John Wilington, a Contrariant and adherent of John, Lord Giffard, and pardoned in November 1323; John's brother Henry and Giffard were executed in 1322.  [6]

Edward II, at Stowe Park in Lincolnshire, heard of Maurice Berkeley and his friends' plot on 17 January - perhaps six days later, according to the date in the Sempringham continuation - when he wrote to the constable of Skipton Castle to see to the castle's safety and report to him, because of "some strange and diverse news we have heard" (par ascuns estranges et diverses novelles qe nous avons oy).  [7]  On the same date, he sent his household steward and the sheriffs of Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Wiltshire to "besiege the castle of Walyngford and to arrest all rebels who have entered therein."  [8]  The steward of the royal household was Sir Richard Damory, elder brother of Edward's former favourite and nephew-in-law Sir Roger Damory, who had died in the Contrariant rebellion ten months previously.  (Natalie Fryde's Tyranny and Fall of Edward II, p. 261 note 26, misses Edward's letter and the order to Richard Damory and says that the king heard of the plot on 20 January.)  On 6 June 1323, Edward II paid seven pounds, six shillings and eight pence to Drogo Barentyn, sheriff of Oxfordshire and Berkshire, "which he expended by order of Edmund, earl of Kent, Hugh, earl of Winchester, and Richard Damory, steward of the king's household, whom the king appointed to take into his hands Walyngford castle, which was lately held against the king...".  The money included payments to seven footmen from 27 January till 14 February and twenty-three footmen from 14 to 23 February, and for four men to bring one 'Thomas de Fencote, a prisoner' to the king, and a horse for him.  [9]  (I love this bit: "6s 8d. for the expenses of the said four men returning home for five days; and 20d. for the expenses of the horse returning for the same time.")

Edward II cannot have been a happy man in early 1323; the rebellion of Andrew Harclay, earl of Carlisle, came to light at the same time, and that of Robert Lewer had taken place only a few weeks before.  Rightly or wrongly, the king suspected that Maurice Berkeley's attempt to escape from Wallingford was part of a wider plot to free other Contrariants from the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, a suspicion he gave voice to in November 1323, some months after Roger Mortimer's escape from the Tower on 1 August.  [10]  On 5 February 1323, Edward ordered a commission of oyer et terminer "touching the persons who seditiously entered the castle of Walyngford, co. Berks, wherein Maurice de Berkeleye and Hugh Daudele, the elder, and other prisoners were detained, and held it against the king; as the king now understands that the said Maurice and Hugh and the other prisoners consented thereto, and kept the castle against the king jointly with the said persons," a commission repeated on 7 April with the addition of Windsor and "other of the king's castles."  [11]

Maurice Berkeley and the elder Hugh Audley both died in 1326, before the invasion of Roger Mortimer and Queen Isabella, as did Mortimer's uncle Roger Mortimer of Chirk.  Berkeley was fifty-five, Mortimer of Chirk about seventy, Audley in his late fifties or early sixties.  Given their ages, I don't think we need to look for a sinister explanation for their deaths, and there is nothing to suggest they weren't natural; none of the younger Contrariants imprisoned in the 1320s, who would have been more of a threat to Edward and the Despensers, died in captivity.  The account of the plot given in the Vita, with Maurice Berkeley allowed frequent guests and permitted to wine and dine his captors, and Roger Mortimer's escape from the Tower later that year by putting poison in his captors' wine while he ate with them and the constable of the Tower, argues that the Contrariants' imprisonment was hardly onerous.  The unsuccessful plot of 1323 should, however, be seen as part of the general unrest in England in 1323 and unhappiness at the king's incompetence and his and the Despensers' greed and tyranny.


1) G.L. Haskins, 'A Chronicle of the Civil Wars of Edward II', Speculum, 14 (1939), p. 83; The Chronicle of Lanercost 1272-1346, ed. Herbert Maxwell, p. 62; Vita Edwardi Secundi Monachi Cuiusdam Malmesberiensis, ed. N. Denholm-Young, p. 100.
2) Vita Edwardi Secundi, pp. 129-131.
3) Le Livere de Reis de Britanie e le Livere de Reis de Engletere, ed. John Glover, p. 347.
4) Calendar of Patent Rolls 1324-1327, p. 232.
5) The Brut or the Chronicles of England, ed. F. W. D. Brie, vol. 1, p. 231.
6) Seymour Phillips, Edward II, p. 439 note 189.  See also Roy Martin Haines, King Edward II, pp. 166-167; Natalie Fryde, The Tyranny and Fall of Edward II 1321-1326, pp. 155-156.
7) Phillips, Edward II, p. 438 note 187.
8) Cal Pat Rolls 1321-1324, p. 234.
9) Calendar of Close Rolls 1323-1327, pp. 656-657.
10) Foedera 1307-1327, pp. 537-538.
11) Cal Pat Rolls 1321-1324, pp. 257, 314.