29 May, 2012

Interview And Links

Many thanks to the wonderful historical novelist Sharon Penman for re-posting my 'Commandments for Writing about History' on her own blog!  I'm delighted!  After she, Michael Jecks and a few of my friends linked to the post on Facebook and Twitter, I got literally thousands of blog visitors within a couple of days.  Thanks, everyone!

My lovely talented awesome friend Paula Lofting has an interview with me today on her blog Paula's Perusings.  Thanks so much for inviting me and asking great questions about Edward II, Paula!  Her other blogs are Sons of the Wolf, about her fab forthcoming novel set in England in the eleventh century, and Threads to the Past, about the Bayeux Tapestry.   Hope you enjoy the interview!

I'd also like to draw your attention to some other blogs by friends of mine (please read them! :), in no particular order:

Piers Gaveston, by Anerje, who often comments here - mostly about everyone's favourite fourteenth-century Gascon knight and earl, with posts about other periods of history too.

A Nevill Feast - a detailed look at the family which played such an important role in the Wars of the Roses.

Historical novelist Susan Higginbotham - many fascinating posts about the fourteenth century, the Wars of the Roses and the Tudors.

Hannah's Thomas Cromwell Experience and Henry Tudor Experience, about Henry VII.

A Bit of Henry Love, about Henry VIII.  The latest post is an excellent rant about non-fiction history books.

Sam's Loyalty Binds Me, featuring all aspects of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century history.

Sarah's Remembering the Executed, with posts about all manner of people executed in the past, and her Sarah's History Blog, with book reviews, photos and discussions about history.  Her latest post in Remembering the Executed features Edward II's half-brother Edmund of Woodstock, earl of Kent.

Christy's blogs Rooting for Ancestors, about genealogy, and Mary Barrett Dyer, focusing on seventeenth-century cultural history in England and New England.

Fem's It Happened To Her, with posts about female oppression in history.

Lorri's exciting new blog about nineteenth-century Australia.

23 May, 2012

Ten Commandments For Writing About History And Discussing It Online

Some things I need to get off my chest, based on reading about and discussing history on various online forums and Facebook groups, and certain articles and books.

1) You shall remember that people who lived hundreds of years ago were complex human beings every bit as complex and human as we are, who had families, and feelings, and human dignity, and that therefore you should write about them with respect, in the same way that you would wish writers to treat the memory of you and your loved ones with respect decades or centuries hence.  You will not laugh or sneer or gloat at their painful deaths and suffering, or claim that they deserved everything they got, or express a wish that they'd suffered even more, or call them vile names.  If you wouldn't want someone in the future to make light of tragic events which have befallen you and your loved ones, or to depict your beloved father as a callously neglectful parent or not in fact your biological father thanks to your mother's cheating on him, or your kind and wonderful husband as a spineless snivelling coward who frequently beat you up and forced himself on you, or your daughter as a cold-blooded child killer - and if it would make you angry and upset if anyone wrote things like this about your favourite historical person - then you should think twice about inventing such calumnies about other people merely because you don't like them or because they were an enemy of your favourite historical person.

2) You shall remember that accusing someone of a horrible crime such as murder, rape, child abuse, violent assault or torture is a serious allegation which should not be made without real, actual evidence.  This is no less true merely because the person you are accusing lived 500 or 700 years ago, and lame so-called justifications such as "s/he was an unpleasant person who might have done such a thing" or "s/he had a motive to commit the crime, in my opinion" or meaningless rhetorical questions and mealy-mouthed statements such as "it is not beyond the bounds of possibility" that s/he committed the crime are insufficient.  A motive, or what you with the benefit of more than half a millennium's hindsight perceive to be a motive, does not in itself constitute evidence.  A wish to point the finger at your favourite historical person's enemies rather than him/her does not in itself constitute evidence.  A wish to portray your favourite historical person as a long-suffering victim to arouse your audience's sympathies for him/her does not in itself constitute evidence.

3) You shall remember that complaining about your favourite historical person being unfairly maligned by history, while enthusiastically maligning his/her enemies for all you're worth, looks hypocritical.

(I have been wondering whether I myself am somewhat guilty of this one, as I do sometimes jokingly refer to Roger Mortimer as 'Le Manly Wodge' or similar, which is pretty snide of me.  Having said that though, my aim is to take the mickey out of bizarre modern statements about his sexuality such as Alison Weir's, and the assumption that his 'unequivocal heterosexuality' made him stronger, more virile, more manly, generally just better than Edward II not because of his abilities but simply by virtue of who he was sexually and romantically attracted to.  My intention is to point up bigotry and stereotypes, and I do not in any way mean to be cruel or mocking about Roger himself - just about the way some people in the twenty-first century choose to depict him.  I don't dislike Roger at all; he was an extremely able and courageous man and I find much to like and admire about him.  Same with Robert Bruce, or Isabella for that matter, and I really don't see why I need to dislike and spit venom at people who were in some way Edward II's enemies.  For sure I'd never make up the kind of hateful, hurtful slurs about them which certain Isabella fans have invented to throw at Edward.)

4) You shall remember that your favourite historical person's enemies were complex, multi-dimensional human beings too and deserve to be acknowledged as such, rather than as cardboard cut-out evil villains devoid of any humanity.  Depicting them as cruel to animals, or attracted to little boys, or sadistic rapists, is a ridiculously unsubtle and obvious way to make them unsympathetic to your readers.  You shall also remember that however much you like your favourite historical person, s/he was a human being and thus had character flaws and made mistakes like every other human being who has ever lived, and that depicting him/her as impossibly saintly and perfect looks kind of silly.  And also strips them of their humanity. 

 5) Unless you're twelve, you shall remember that there is no need to divide historical people into 'teams' or 'sides' and hurl abuse at the other 'team' or people who like them.

6) If you're discussing history online and make a surprising or implausible statement, such as claiming that it was treason to refuse to have sex with the king of England in the sixteenth century, you shall remember that it is entirely reasonable to be asked for a primary source to back up your statement.  This is not a reason to accuse people of rudeness and bullying and to get all huffy and offended.

7) You shall remember that modern historical novels, however well-researched, well-written and enjoyable, do not count as primary sources.  Responding to a request to provide a source for a statement you've made about a historical person with "Historical Novelist X depicted him this way" does not actually answer the question.  You should also bear in mind that merely because something has appeared in print in a historical novel does not automatically mean that it has a basis in fact, and you should check before repeating it as though it certainly does.  This is how historical myths get started, and once established, they're damn hard to shake.

8) You shall remember that familial, societal and marital norms of the Middle Ages were different to ours, and refrain from referring to women as "helpless pawns" when their marriages are arranged by their (cruel, heartless, callous, uncaring...) fathers.  You shall remember that having your royal or noble heroine wail "But I don't love him!" when informed of her impending marriage to a king or nobleman is by now a tedious cliché. You will not assume that a medieval king must have been an uncaring neglectful father because he didn't live in a nuclear family arrangement with his children.  You will remember that, contrary to what you might assume, depicting Isabella of France as being willing to take a lover at the age of sixteen and foist a child of non-royal blood onto the English throne is an insult to her, not a compliment.

9) You shall remember that depicting women as all of a sudden no longer possessing their own agency, becoming the proverbial "helpless pawns" and coming under the total control of nasty unscrupulous men whenever they do things you don't approve of, when two pages earlier you were applauding their independence of action and thought as they did noble and good things, is as patronising and paternalistic as the 'sexual prejudices' of previous centuries you're decrying.  Repeat to yourself until it sinks in: Adult women are responsible for their own actions, good or bad, just as much as men are.

10) If you wouldn't refer to Roger Mortimer as Isabella of France's 'straight lover', to Alice Perrers as Edward III's 'female lover', or to John of Gaunt's 'heterosexual relationship' with Katherine Swynford - and of course you wouldn't - then you shall remember that there is no reason to call Piers Gaveston or Hugh Despenser Edward II's 'gay lover' or to talk about their 'homosexual relationship'.  Merely 'lover' and 'relationship' or 'sexual relationship' will suffice; it will be readily apparent to your reader that Edward, Piers and Hugh were all men and that their relationships were therefore evidently same-sex.  Furthermore, you shall remember that making lame statements such as "It's different when men love women" in an attempt to justify why you think Edward's (presumed) adultery with men is nasty and icky while his grandson John of Gaunt's adultery with Katherine Swynford is fabulously romantic, looks bigoted.  There are ways that we can discuss prejudices of other eras without making it look as though we share them and expect our readers to do so too.

EDITED TO ADD: My friend at the wonderful A Nevill Feast blog has written a great post about women in historical fiction.  Please read it! 

18 May, 2012

Isabel of Castile, Queen of Aragon and Duchess of Brittany

A post about Edward II's kinswoman, Isabel of Castile, queen of Aragon and duchess of Brittany (1283-1328), who, in different circumstances, might have been his queen.

Infanta Doña Isabel was born in Toro between Zamora and Valladolid in northern Spain sometime in 1283 as the granddaughter of the then reigning king of Castile, Alfonso X (Eleanor of Castile's half-brother and thus Edward II's uncle).  Her mother was Maria de Molina, who was born in the late 1250s or early 1260s and was the daughter of Fernando III's brother Alfonso, lord of Molina, and her father was Sancho, second son of Alfonso X and grandson of Fernando III, born in May 1258 (Isabel's parents were first cousins once removed).  Isabel was the eldest of the children of Sancho and Maria, who had married in Toledo in July 1282, and her younger siblings were: King Fernando IV, December 1285 - September 1312; Pedro, lord of Los Cameros, born 1290, killed at the battle of Vega de Grenada in 1319; Felipe, lord of Cabrera and Ribera, May 1292 - April 1327; Beatriz, queen of Portugal, 1293 - October 1359; and two brothers, Alfonso and Enrique, who died in childhood.  Her father also had three known illegitimate children.  Isabel was Edward II's first cousin once removed on her father's side and his second cousin on her mother's.  She was also the second cousin of Edward's queen Isabella of France, both of them great-granddaughters of King Jaime I 'el Conquistador' of Aragon and his queen, Yolande of Hungary; Jaime and Yolande's daughter Violante was queen of Castile, their daughter Isabel queen of France.

When Isabel was a few months old, in April 1284, her grandfather Alfonso X died, and her father seized the throne of Castile as Sancho IV, ignoring the claims of his young nephews, the sons of his dead older brother Fernando de la Cerda ('of the bristle').  Alfonso X cursed Sancho on his deathbed for this disinheritance of his grandsons. [1]  Apparently Isabel was betrothed as a child to her first cousin, Fernando de la Cerda's elder son Alfonso, whose mother Blanche was the daughter of Louis IX of France, though ultimately nothing came of it.  What Isabel's childhood and relationship with her parents were like is a matter for speculation, though her father Sancho is known to have beaten men, dissident nobles, to death with his own hands, which gives some insight into the kind of court she grew up in.  [2]  She married very young: in Soria (between Valladolid and Zaragoza) in December 1291, when she was just eight years old, she was married to King Jaime II of Aragon, as a means of securing peace between Aragon and Castile.  Jaime was then twenty-four and had succeeded his childless brother Alfonso III, who had long been betrothed to the future Edward II's eldest sister Eleanor, the previous June.

Sancho IV died on 25 April 1295, not yet thirty-seven, leaving Isabel, then eleven or twelve, his eldest son Fernando IV, aged nine, as his successor, and four younger children.  Shortly before his death, Sancho appointed his wife Queen Maria as guardian of their eldest son and as regent of Castile during the boy's minority.  [3]  Castile erupted into chaos and civil war on the accession of the boy-king Fernando; his father had wrongfully seized the throne and his de la Cerda cousins, backed by France, had a strong claim; Sancho IV's brother Infante Don Juan also claimed the throne; the marriage of Sancho and Maria de Molina was said to have been uncanonical - presumably they hadn't received a dispensation for consanguinity - and their children thus illegitimate.  The strenuous efforts of the powerful, intelligent and politically astute Queen Maria saved the throne for her son Fernando, and in 1301 her and Sancho's marriage was declared to have been legal, which also calmed the situation considerably.  [4] Her eldest child Isabel, the young queen of Aragon, was not so lucky, however.  Jaime II had their unconsummated marriage annulled on the grounds of consanguinity* soon after her father's death, presumably because the turmoil in Castile made the kingdom an unattractive ally and because he hoped to use the chaos to his own advantage.  He married instead, on 29 October or 1 November 1295, Blanche of Anjou, the second daughter of Charles of Salerno, king of Naples and Albania (Blanche's brothers were king of Hungary, king of Jerusalem, titular emperor of Constantinople and so on).  Blanche was the mother of Jaime's successor Alfonso IV.

* Isabel and Jaime were first cousins once removed: Isabel was the great-granddaughter, via Alfonso X's queen Violante, of Jaime I 'el Conquistador' of Aragon, Jaime his grandson.  They were related in the same way that her parents were.  The marriage of Fernando III's parents Alfonso IX of Leon and Berenguela of Castile was also annulled by the pope in the early 1200s on the grounds that they were first cousins once removed.  You'd think the Iberian kings would have figured out that they needed a papal dispensation to marry relatives.

Isabel, still only twelve, presumably returned to Castile and lived at her brother Fernando IV's court for the next few years; she was not to marry again until she was twenty-seven.  In January 1302 in Valladolid, she probably attended her sixteen-year-old brother's wedding to Constança of Portugal - Constança was their first cousin once removed, as her grandmother Beatriz, queen of Portugal, was an illegitimate daughter of Alfonso X of Castile and thus Sancho IV's half-sister.  Constança was also Jaime II of Aragon's niece.  Isabel's sister Beatriz, ten years her junior, married Constança's brother the future King Afonso IV of Portugal in September 1309, and in 1310 her brother Pedro married Maria, one of the daughters of Isabel's former husband Jaime II by his second wife Blanche of Anjou.  How Isabel felt about that is not recorded.  (The Iberian kings of the era were extremely inter-related; Fernando IV and Constança's son Alfonso XI married Maria of Portugal, daughter of Beatriz of Castile and Afonso IV, who was his first cousin on both sides of the family.)

In 1303, Edward of Caernarfon's colourful uncle Infante Don Enrique, who was Isabel's great-uncle - he was one of the brothers of Alfonso X - proposed Isabel as a bride for the future king of England.  The two were close in age, Isabel just a few months older, and it may be the half-Castilian Edward would have liked to marry a woman from that country, but his betrothal to Philip IV of France's daughter Isabella, arranged in 1299, could not be broken without England losing Gascony and going to war with France.  Edward I wrote courteously to Enrique, whom he had probably known very well in the 1250s when Enrique rebelled against his brother Alfonso X and lived in exile at Henry III's court in England for several years, on 10 April 1303, thanking him for "using his influence in the matter of a marriage between Edward, the king's son, and Infanta Isabel, daughter of the late King Sancho, king of Castile and Leon, Henry [Enrique]'s cousins.  The king requests him to give credence to what Gunsalvius Martini, Henry's man and the bringer of his letters, who is carrying the present letters, shall explain to him by word of mouth, as the king has fully opened his mind to him in the things that concern the matter aforesaid."  [5]  I wonder what Edward said, and what he and his son felt about this possible match with the younger Edward's first cousin once removed.

Isabel finally married again when she was twenty-seven in 1310, apparently in Burgos: her husband was the future Duke John III 'the Good' of Brittany, who was two and a half or three years her junior, born on 8 March 1286.  John was, in what appears to be a major feature of this blog post, also a first cousin once removed of Edward II: his father Arthur II, duke of Brittany (born 2 July 1262) was the eldest son of Edward I's sister Beatrice.  John's mother was Marie of Limoges, daughter and heir of Guy, vicomte of Limoges and Marguerite, daughter of Duke Hugues IV of Burgundy.  John had firstly been married, in 1298, to Isabelle, eldest child of Philip IV of France's brother Charles de Valois; her nearest sibling became Philip VI of France in 1328; the next eldest sister Jeanne was the mother of Edward III's queen Philippa of Hainault.  Isabelle de Valois died in 1309, still only about seventeen, and left no children.  Duke John and Doña Isabel were fourth cousins via common descent from Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine; Pope Clement V issued a dispensation for them to marry on 21 June 1310.  [6]  (After her own experience and that of her parents, it's hardly surprising that Isabel wanted everything to be water-tight this time.)

Isabel became duchess of Brittany and viscountess of Limoges on 27 August 1312 when her father-in-law Duke Arthur died.  Her brother King Fernando IV of Castile died eleven days later at the age of only twenty-six, leaving his one-year-old son Alfonso XI as king and throwing Castile into turmoil yet again, and yet again, Isabel's astute mother Maria saved the situation for her grandson the baby king.  Queen Maria, incidentally, wrote her will on 29 June 1321, and it mentions la Infanta Doña Isabel mi fija (my daughter).  There's very little I can say about John and Isabel's marriage, unfortunately, or their lives in general.  Pope John XXII absolved Isabel on 6 July 1317 of her vow to visit Santiago de Compostela.  [7]  Edward II was in occasional contact with his kinsman Duke John, mostly in connection with English sailors robbed or arrested within John's territory.  Duke John's uncle John of Brittany, whose heir he was, was earl of Richmond and spent his life in England, loyal to Edward II until he joined Isabella and Roger Mortimer in Paris in early 1326.  Roy Martin Haines has pointed out [8] that Edward in and after 1324 was keen to stay on good terms with Duke John as a counterbalance to the French, with whom he was then at war.  Several letters and writs of Edward's from 1320 to 1325 refer to a truce and an accord of peace between the king and the duke, and one of Edward's letters to Charles IV of France regarding the non-return of Queen Isabella in late 1325 was also sent to John.  Finally, Edward II wrote to John on 6 October 1324 after the outbreak of hostilities in France, as he did to his kinsmen in Castile, complaining that "Charles [IV of France] is moved against the king, God knows why..." and asking John to use his influence with Charles on Edward's behalf.  [9]

Infanta Doña Isabel of Castile, queen of Aragon and duchess of Brittany, died on 24 July 1328, in her mid-forties, and was buried at Notre-Dame de Prières, a Cistercian abbey in Nantes which had been founded in 1252 by her husband's great-grandfather Duke John I.  She left no children.  Her will still exists, in the National Archives in London (I don't know how it ended up there); I have a copy of it, but sadly it's so faded it's basically illegible, and I'm really not sure if I can glean anything from it.  Duchess Isabel's tomb was destroyed in the early eighteenth century when work began on a new church at Notre-Dame de Prières, although her remains were removed to another sarcophagus in the new church.  This was discovered in the ruins of the abbey in 1841, and was placed in a chapel built on the site.

Duke John III married thirdly, on 21 March 1329 (or 1330 - I've seen both dates), Jeanne of Savoy (born 1310), daughter of Édouard I, count of Savoy and Blanche of Burgundy, granddaughter of Louis IX of France.  Two of Blanche's sisters, Marguerite and Jeanne, were queens of France, and another sister, Marie, married Edward II's nephew Count Édouard I of Bar.  John III married three times and fathered no legitimate children, though apparently he did acknowledge an illegitimate son, named John after himself.  This is somewhat odd, as it seems rather implausible that his three wives were all infertile.  He died on 30 April 1341 at the age of fifty-five and was buried in Ploërmel.  His childless death led to the War of the Breton Succession between his niece Jeanne of Penthièvre (b. 1319), daughter and heir of John's brother Guy who died in 1331, and John's half-brother, confusingly also called John, born in c. 1293 as the son of Duke Arthur II by his second wife Yolande de Dreux, countess of Montfort and dowager queen of Scotland (having been briefly married to Alexander III, Edward I's brother-in-law, who died in an accident in March 1286).


1) Teofilo F. Ruiz, Spain's Centuries of Crisis: 1300-1474, p. 53.
2) Malcolm Vale, 'Ritual Ceremony and the 'Civilising Process': The Role of the Court, c. 1270-1400' in Steven J. Gunn and A. Janse, eds., The Court as a Stage (2006), p, 27; Teofilo F. Ruiz, The City and the Realm 1080-1492, p. 144.
3) Evelyn S. Procter, Curia and Cortes in León and Castile 1072-1295, p. 231.
4) Ruiz, Spain's Centuries of Crisis, pp. 53-55.
5) Calendar of Close Rolls 1301-1307, p. 83; Foedera 1272-1307, p. 951.
6) Foedera 1307-1327, p. 109.
7) Foedera 1307-1327, p. 336.
8) Roy Martin Haines, King Edward II: His Life, His Reign and Its Aftermath, 1284-1330, p. 175.
9) Close Rolls 1323-1327, pp. 321-322.

13 May, 2012

Blog Searches And Stuff

Until the next proper post, here are some of today's blog searches and some other stuff.  (Am not feeling very articulate today.  Sorry.)

EDITED TO ADD: Wigmore Castle is up for sale!  Yes, the Wigmore Castle, that belonged to the Mortimers, including Edward II's nemesis Roger.  Yours for just under half a million; see here.

This one has popped up a few times lately: how did edward ii of england get the throne or did he steal it   Yup!  He stole it.  Nothing at all to do with being the eldest surviving son of Edward I.  Actually, on the off-chance that someone takes that seriously, it's not true.  He didn't steal the throne, honest.

did edward ii rule any where else other than england  Why yes!  He was lord of Ireland (nominally at least), duke of Aquitaine, prince of Wales and count of Ponthieu.  (He inherited Aquitaine from his father and Ponthieu from his mother.)

margaret of france married to edward ii Actually she was married to his father, though Edward may have been happier in the long run with his wife's aunt than he was with Isabella. Who knows...

edward 2 story simple I hope that means a simple version of Edward II's story, rather than an assumption that he himself was simple.

king edward ii importance Well, he was the father of King Edward III. That's pretty important.

parallel murder edward ii princes tower Whaaaat?? Edward II killed some princes in the Tower too?  That's news to me.

how can we prove knight is son of queen isabella of england  You can't.  Because he wasn't.  (A reference to this person, who some people are determined to believe was Isabella and Roger Mortimer's son for absolutely no reason that I can see.)

effigy edward ii Here it is!

Spotted on a forum: "It would appear that you have not read up on Edward II of England, who expelled the Jews during the 13th Century."  It would appear you haven't either, chum.  That was his father.  I know, I know, all these confusing Edwards, eh?  Still, best to try and get them sorted out if you want to act superior.

I'm a huge fan of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, but hadn't even thought of this comparison: "If GRRM was copying English history Renly Baratheon would have died by having a hot poker shoved up his bum!"

In the 'Well, It's Pretty Hard To Argue With That, Actually' category: "His son, a third Hugh, often referred to as the younger Despenser, was a rash, greedy and ruthless man who abused his power and his position of favour in the unsettled court of Edward II."  (In a very interesting post about Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire.)

In the 'I Wouldn't Read That If You Paid Me' category: a novel which, according to a review of it, portrays Edward II as a "spineless, sniveling creature" and Hugh Despenser the Younger as "devoid of humanity."  Well, that sounds just great.  And Piers Gaveston?  I await the deep and psychologically convincing portrayal with bated breath.

Has anyone been listening to Vivat Rex on Radio Four?  More info here; it features Christopher Marlowe's play about Edward II.  John Hurt stars as Edward, who apparently is "creepy, weak and roaringly gay."  But of course.  See also this page, which says "John Hurt played Edward, managing a note of affronted whingeing that made me sympathise with Mortimer and Queen Isabella for deposing him, then his simple and dignified suffering at the end had me pitying him."  That's a fair point, actually; I felt much the same way when watching Marlowe's play.

From a review in the Evening Standard of Dan Jones' new book about the Plantagenets: "We meet drivelling incompetents like Edward II. Tall, blond and athletic, he preferred rowing, boat building and Piers Gaveston to the more noble pursuits of warfare."  Whatever else Edward was, he sure as heck wasn't a 'drivelling incompetent'.

Blog visitors from the last week:

Am always so surprised and thrilled to see that Russia provides my fourth biggest readership.  Thank you for visiting, and I love knowing that you're there.  :):)

OK, proper blog post coming as soon as I can - am just waiting for something from the National Archives to finish off a biography!

06 May, 2012

Edward II And His Staff

I posted a few weeks ago about Edmund and 'Litel Wille' Fisher, father and son, who both worked in Edward II's chamber, and about Edward's treatment of them: he bought Wille shoes in 1323, and gave generous sums of money to Edmund's widow Sibille and daughter Johane in 1326.  This post contains more insights into Edward II's treatment of his household staff and their families, taken from his extant chamber journal of June 1325 to October 1326 (now in the library of the Society of Antiquaries, London).  Generally it seems that Edward was generous and kind to his staff and treated them well, although the Polychronicon, written by Ranulph Higden, monk of Chester, in the 1350s, claims that he lashed out at his servants when he was in a rage.  No other source I know of confirms this, however.  In the interests of fairness and balance, I should point out that Edward II was capable of being cruel and vindictive towards anyone who angered him or who he thought (rightly or not) had betrayed him.  I could give many examples, but let's just take a minstrel called John le Botiller, who played at Edward's knighting in 1306 but fought against the royal army at Boroughbridge in 1322, and who was still imprisoned in late 1326; not a lot of forgiveness there from the vengeful king.  Edward II inherited a vile temper from his father, who assaulted a servant at his daughter Margaret's wedding in 1290 and had to pay him compensation for injury, and perhaps from his mother Queen Eleanor as well.  This is demonstrated on one occasion in the 1320s when he flew into such a violent rage with his ally Walter Reynolds, archbishop of Canterbury, that the archbishop pretended that he had to make an urgent visitation to his cathedral in order to escape from the king’s presence.*  Edward II, for all his bad temper and other character flaws, was often astonishingly generous and kind to the people he loved and who pleased him, to the point of political foolishness when he lavished gifts and lands on Piers Gaveston and Hugh Despenser.  Still, there are far worse character traits than generosity and loyalty to the people you love.

* Kathleen Edwards, 'The Political Importance of the English Bishops During the Reign of Edward II', English Historical Review, 59 (1944), p. 340.

Staff of the king's household earned one and a half pence, three pence, four and a half pence or seven and a half pence a day depending on rank and position (except for sergeants-at-arms, who earned twelve pence or one shilling, and knights, who got two shillings), and all their clothing, shoes, food and drink was provided.

- Late April 1326: "Item, paid to Hick Mereworth, valet of the king's chamber, who had leave to go to Henley to his house with his wife, who came to Kenilworth great with child [grosse denfaunt], for his expenses, of the king's gift, 20 shillings...Item, paid to Johane, wife of the said Hick Mereworth, who came to her baron [i.e. husband] at the said Kenilworth great with child as is said above, because she heard that her husband had been ill, 40 shillings."  (Hick was a nickname for Richard.)

I find this entry really interesting for the insight that the king's household staff got royal permission to go home, i.e.that they got holidays, though I don't know how often leave was granted.  They didn't live with their families; the Household Ordinance of December 1318 states that no wife was allowed to accompany or to follow the household, not even the wives of highly-ranked staff.  I also love this entry for the information that Johane Mereworth had somehow heard that her husband had been ill, and out of concern for him travelled, while heavily pregnant - on foot or via cart, perhaps? - the eighty-odd miles from Henley-on-Thames to Kenilworth to see him.  Litel Wille Fisher was forced to remain behind ill at Kenilworth when Edward left there in late April 1326, so it does seem as though some illness was making its way around the chamber staff.  Edward granted Hick and Johane permission to go home together, perhaps to await the birth of their child, and gave them a remarkably generous gift of three pounds for their expenses (and note that Johane's share of that was two pounds).  At wages of threepence a day, that was half a year's income for Hick, or if he earned one and a half pence, a full year.

- Having said that wives were not allowed at court, Edward did give permission for them to stay there on occasion: in early January 1326, he gave seven shillings to Anneis, wife of his porter Roger de May? (his name is abbreviated), who stayed with her husband from 5 December to 1 January. Anneis was also given forty shillings on 9 June 1326 when she came from 'the parts of Nottingham' to visit her husband at court.

- Hick Meworth or Mereworth, now called by his full name of Richard, is mentioned again on 28 June 1326, given twenty shillings and leave to go home because he "had news that his goods were stolen."

- 21 September 1325: five shillings given to Philip, "who was a page of the king's chamber and who can no longer work." (This is not explained.)

- 10 March 1326: Two and a half pounds "paid to Jack of St Albans, king's painter, who danced before the king on a table and made him laugh very greatly [lui fist tr' gr'tment rire], of the king's gift, by the king's own hands, in aid of him, his wife and his children."

This entry is often cited in secondary sources, but no-one ever points out that the payment to Jack was not only made for entertaining Edward - and notice that the king hadn't lost his sense of humour despite knowing by then that his wife was associating with Roger Mortimer in Paris - but was intended to support Jack's wife and children.

- 11 August 1325: five shillings given to Robert Traghs, one of the king's porters, "of the king's gift, because his wife was delivered of a child." In mid-September, Robert (now named as 'Robyn') was given another five shillings for his expenses in travelling home to London to see his daughter and his wife, whose name was Johane.

- 27 May 1326: Edward paid eight shillings for cotes (tunics) made of worsted for seven of his household archers.

- 11 February 1326: twenty shillings given to Roger Lesturmy, one of the king's squires, who had been ill.

- 16 October 1325: "Item, paid to Will Shene, one of the porters of the king's chamber, who will marry his wife at Henley on the next Sunday after the date of this [entry], five shillings. Item, paid to Isode, whom the said Will will marry, for their expenses on the said Sunday when they will be wed, twenty shillings." Again, the wife got far more money from Edward than her husband. Will was one of three porters who received ten shillings each on 30 April 1326 for their expenses in returning home when they "had leave to go to their country" (avoient conge daler en lour pais). Edward II gave Isode another ten shillings on 4 July 1326, though it's not stated why.

- 17 May 1326: forty shillings paid to Will de Bromleye, king's harper, who "has leave to go to Ireland."

- 14 January 1326: forty shillings paid to Hugh Despenser the Younger's confessor Richard Bliton, "for what he did in the park of the said South Elmham when the king went to eat in the said park."

- 29 October 1325: one of Edward's chamber valets, who often appears in the journal, was called Syme Lawe. Evidently his brother Henry was a member of the king's household too. Their sister Alis Coleman was paid twenty shillings on this day for brewing forty gallons of "ale for the king's mouth," and her brother Henry was sent to give her the money. Edward bought Syme Lawe a saddle on 5 March 1326, and he was granted permission on 20 May to go home for a while and given a pound for his expenses. Syme, Henry and Alis also had a brother called Willecok, who on 23 May 1326 travelled with Edward II by water from Shene to Bisham and was paid three shillings for doing something with the rope in the king's boat (I'm not quite sure what; my knowledge of Anglo-Norman doesn't quite stretch to such technical matters).

- 31 October 1325: Edward gave two pounds to Katherine, wife of Hugh Despenser the Younger's chamberlain Clement Holditch, "who came to the king for some great business which she had to do with his help."

- 20 January 1326: Edward II paid thirty shillings to a draper of Norwich for fourteen ells of 'cloth of Coggeshall' - a town in Essex famed in the Middle Ages for its production of cloth - to make tunics (cotes) for the wives of five of his porters, including Roger de May and Robyn Traghs. The cloth, however, turned out to be "too stiff" for this purpose, and was sent to Edward's wardrobe to be used for something else. Edward bought instead eighteen ells of "bright blue English cloth," at twenty pence an ell, from a draper of Leicester, to make cotes hardies and hoods for the five women.

- 11 February 1326: forty shillings given to Thomas of Goodrich Castle, one of Hugh Despenser the Younger's clerks, "who remained at court, ill, and this day has the king's leave to go to London to the said Sir H. [a dit mons' H], for his expenses."

- 19 March 1326: a whopping hundred shillings, five pounds, given to John Dene, one of the ushers of the king's hall, who had been ill and had the king's leave to "go to his country in the parts of Canterbury" (daler en son pais en les p’ties de Cant’bury).

- 19 April 1326: a sum of money that I can't work out paid to a man with the fantastic name of Willecok de Brakenhale, "king's blacksmith," who "had news that his father was almost dead."

- 19 May 1326: twenty shillings paid to Will Muleward, one of the valets of Hugh Despenser the Younger's sister Isabel, Lady Hastings, who "was with the king for some time and made him laugh very greatly" when Edward attended the wedding of Lady Hastings' daughter Margaret to Sir Robert Wateville at Marlborough that day.

- 26 July 1326: Edward gave three shillings to 'Will, the gardener of Kenilworth, who came from there to talk with the king on some affairs touching him, of the king's gift, for his expenses in returning to the said Kenilworth."