25 May, 2013

Piers Gaveston's Daughter And The Earl Of Ulster's Grandson

On 25 May 1317, Edward II arranged the future marriage of his great-niece Joan Gaveston, Piers' daughter, to  John Multon, grandson of the earl of Ulster and nephew of the queen of Scotland.  Also on this day: Happy wedding anniversary to John de Warenne, earl of Surrey, and Edward II's niece Joan of Bar, who married on 25 May 1306 when John was nineteen going on twenty and Joan ten or eleven.  Not that they'd like me to wish them a happy wedding anniversary, probably, as their marriage was a disaster and Surrey fathered at least nine children with other women.

When Piers Gaveston, earl of Cornwall, was executed on 19 June 1312, he left as his only legitimate child and heir his daughter Joan ('Johane' or 'Johanne' in contemporary spelling), then just five months old, whose mother was Edward II's niece Margaret de Clare.  On her father's death, little Joan became a ward of her great-uncle the king, and he sent her to be raised at Amesbury Priory with his niece Eleanor de Bohun, future countess of Ormond, allowing the two girls a hundred marks a year for their maintenance. [1]  Joan Gaveston and Eleanor de Bohun had plenty of relatives at Amesbury: Edward II's sister Mary, his niece Joan de Monthermer and cousin Isabella of Lancaster (daughter of Henry) were all nuns there, and it is likely that other royal women stayed there occasionally; Edward's niece Elizabeth de Clare spent a few months at Amesbury before the birth of her daughter Isabella Verdon in 1317, for instance.  Some people in recent years have interpreted Edward's placing of Piers Gaveston's daughter in a convent as 'dumping' her there, shoving the embarrassing daughter of the embarrassing late favourite out of the way.  Nothing could be further from the truth, and growing up at Amesbury, which had been fashionable among the royal family since Henry III's widow Eleanor of Provence spent the last years of her life there, was a privilege and honour, not a disgrace.

Edward II first attempted to arrange Joan Gaveston's marriage in or before 1316 when she was four, and offered her to his ward Thomas Wake, who was then eighteen or nineteen and whose family held lands in Cumberland and Lincolnshire (Wake's sister Margaret later married Edward's half-brother Edmund, earl of Kent, and was the grandmother of Richard II).  As the then sole heir of her mother Margaret and her share of the enormous de Clare inheritance, Joan was a very attractive proposition, far more so than she had been before her uncle the earl of Gloucester's death at Bannockburn in June 1314.  Edward II discovered, however, that Thomas Wake had married the earl of Lancaster's niece Blanche, eldest daughter of Henry and sister of the nun Isabella of Lancaster, above, and of the wonderful Henry of Grosmont, without his permission, and fined him a large sum, probably £1000, which he granted to "our very dear relative," Joan.  An entry on the Patent Roll and Foedera of 9 October 1316 records a "grant to the king's kinswoman, Joan, the daughter of Peter de Gavaston earl of Cornwall, of the forfeiture pertaining to the king for the marriage without licence of Thomas Wake, son and heir of John Wake, deceased tenant in chief, whose marriage the king granted to the said earl [of Cornwall] and to whom, after the death of the latter, he offered Joan in marriage."  [2]  Perhaps Wake gambled that Joan's mother Margaret de Clare would marry again, as indeed she did in April 1317, and have a son (she didn't), in which case Joan would inherit nothing.  Perhaps he also felt in the political climate of 1316 that allying himself with the wealthy and powerful Lancasters was a better proposition than with the erratic, wayward king, despite the fact that Blanche of Lancaster had a brother and thus was not an heiress.  As Wake had no means of raising such a large sum of money to pay the fine for marrying without Edward II's permission – as he was still under twenty-one, he hadn't yet come into his lands – he probably had to borrow the money from his father-in-law Henry, the brother of Thomas, earl of Lancaster, or Lancaster himself; a nice way for Edward to get money out of his enemy and give it to Piers Gaveston's daughter.

On 25 May 1317, Edward II arranged Joan Gaveston's future marriage [3] to John, son of Thomas Multon, lord of Egremont in Cumberland, and Eleanor de Burgh, one of the many daughters of Richard de Burgh, earl of Ulster and one of Edward's childhood companions.  John Multon, born in October 1308 and thus a little over three years Joan Gaveston's senior, was the earl of Ulster's eldest grandson; his aunts and uncles included Robert Bruce's wife Elizabeth, queen of Scotland, the countesses of Gloucester, Louth, Kildare and Desmond, and Elizabeth de Clare's first husband John de Burgh, who died before his father and whose son with Elizabeth, William Donn de Burgh, succeeded his grandfather as earl of Ulster.  The marriage of Joan Gaveston and John Multon would take place "as soon as the said children have reached a suitable age when they can be married" (si tost come les ditz enfauntz serrount venuz a age convenable qil peussent estre marietz).  The agreement calls them Johan einez filz et heir le dit monsieur Thomas et Johane la feile monsieur Piers de Gavaston iadis counte de Cornwayll, "John eldest son and heir of the said Sir Thomas and Joan daughter of Piers Gaveston, late earl of Cornwall".

Thomas Multon promised the king that "he will not eloign from himself any lands that he now holds or that he shall inherit by reversion or otherwise, to the damage or disinheritance of his son," though presumably it wasn't John Multon's disinheritance that Edward cared about, but Joan Gaveston's.  The agreement between the king and Multon specified that Multon would "assign to the said Joan 400 marks yearly of land in suitable places to hold for the term of life in name of dower after John's death, if it should happen, which God forbid, that he die in his father's lifetime; and also the said Sir Thomas ought to find his son and Joan and their children honourable maintenance at such time as it shall please the king or the other friends of the said Joan [les autres amis la dite Johanne] that she shall stay with the said Sir Thomas."  Edward agreed to give Thomas Multon £1000 for Joan's dowry, in three instalments: 500 marks immediately, 500 at Midsummer and another 500 at Michaelmas.  Multon had to promise to pay the king the staggeringly, impossibly enormous sum of £10,000 if he defaulted on his son's marriage – proof of Edward's determination that the match he had arranged for Piers Gaveston's daughter should succeed where the first hadn't.  On 3 November 1317, Thomas Wake paid 1000 marks (666 pounds) in "part satisfaction" of the fine imposed on him the year before directly to Thomas Multon on Edward's behalf, as the sum Edward still owed to Multon for the marriage of John and Joan. [4]

Sadly, Joan Gaveston died "of illness" at Amesbury Priory on "the feast day of St Hilary 18 Edward II", i.e. 13 January 1325 [5], which may have been the day after her thirteenth birthday, before her marriage to John Multon took place and evidently before she had gone to live with the Multon family.  Any record of Edward II's reaction to the loss of his great-niece and his beloved Piers' only legitimate child, and whether he paid for a funeral and masses for Joan's soul (I assume he did), unfortunately do not survive.  Piers Gaveston also left an illegitimate daughter called Amie, of whose existence Edward II was presumably aware, though there is no record of any contact between the two of them.  Joan Gaveston's death left her younger half-sister Margaret Audley, daughter of Margaret de Clare and Hugh Audley, as sole heir to their mother's share of the vast de Clare inheritance, while her other half-sister Amie Gaveston became a damsel in the household of Philippa of Hainault, Edward III's queen, and was rewarded in 1332 for her good service to the queen with lands in Essex and the Berkshire manor of 'Woghfeld' which had once belonged to Roger Mortimer. [6]  For his part, John Multon, whose father Thomas died in 1322, died childless in 1334,  leaving his three sisters as his co-heirs.

The agreement between Edward II and Thomas Multon of 25 May 1317, from Foedera, in Latin, French then Latin again.

1) J.S. Hamilton, Piers Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall 1307-1312: Politics and Patronage in the Reign of Edward II (Detroit, 1988), p. 101, citing The National Archives E 101/325/13, membrane 5.
2) Calendar of Close Rolls 1313-1318, p. 468; Calendar of Patent Rolls 1313-1317, p. 553; Foedera 1307-1327, p. 299.
3) Foedera 1307-1327, p. 331; Close Rolls 1313-1318, p. 468.
4) Patent Rolls 1317-21, p. 43.
5) Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous 1308-1348, no. 1329, pp. 325-326.
6) Patent Rolls 1330-1334, pp. 244, 306, 414.

17 May, 2013

Friday Facts

A post with some random and interesting facts about Edward II, his life and his family.  :-)

- Edward's mother Eleanor of Castile was half-Spanish and half-French, the daughter of Fernando III, king of Castile and Leon and Joan, countess of Ponthieu.  Eleanor was one of fifteen siblings, ten of them from her father's first marriage to Beatriz of Swabia: eleven boys and four girls.  As two of her sisters died in infancy and the third became a nun, Eleanor was the only daughter of Fernando III to marry and have children.

- Edward's father Edward I had fair hair in his youth which darkened as he grew older.  Manuscript illustrations of Edward II also depict him with fair hair.  He doesn't seem to have inherited the drooping eyelid of his father and grandfather Henry III, however, or at least no source mentions that he did.

- Edward II's parents must have been much on his mind in late 1315: 28 November was the twenty-fifth anniversary of Eleanor of Castile's death and he paid seventy Dominican friars thirty-five shillings to "perform divine service" to mark the date, and also gave five pounds to one Nicholas Percy around the same time to make a book about the life and times of his father Edward I for him.

- Edward spent much time near the end of his reign, with a few favoured companions and servants, at a cottage within the precincts of Westminster Abbey called Borgoyne (Burgundy), which had a garden, ditches around it, and its own keeper.  Presumably the king felt more comfortable there than at his many castles and palaces in and around London.

- Two of Edward's noble companions in childhood were Eleanor de Burgh, one of the many daughters of his and his father's ally Richard de Burgh, earl of Ulster, and Maud Chaworth, elder half-sister of Hugh Despenser the Younger.

- Edward had at least sixteen siblings and half-siblings, of whom only seven in addition to himself survived childhood: Eleanor, countess of Bar; Joan, countess of Gloucester; Margaret, duchess of Brabant; Mary, a nun; Elizabeth, countess of Holland and Hereford; Thomas, earl of Norfolk; Edmund, earl of Kent.

- On 29 January 1312, shortly after Piers Gaveston's return from his third exile, Edward gave a pound each to his minstrels Peter Duzedeys, Roger the Trumpeter and Janin the Nakerer for performing for him.  A few days later, he gave a massive two pounds to William, a minstrel sent to him by his brother-in-law Louis, king of Navarre, the future Louis X of France.

- On her way to meet Edward in the north at this time, Queen Isabella sent him a basket of lampreys via her messenger John Moigne.

- Edward's Household Ordinance of 6 December 1318 is the second oldest in existence in England, after one of his father's dating to 1279.

- The Polychronicon of the monk Ranulph Higden, written around 1350, describes Edward II as "bountiful and splendid in living."  Higden also wrote that Edward "forsook the company of lords, and fraternised with harlots, singers, actors, carters, ditchers, oarsmen, sailors, and others who practise the mechanical arts."  Much evidence from Edward's household accounts bears this allegation out.
- In 1305, Edward sent a letter to his kinswoman Agnes de Valence, rather poignantly calling her "our good mother" and promising that he would do whatever he could for her, "as a son who would gladly do and procure whatever could turn to your profit and honour."

- Edward's chief huntsman was called William Twyt or Twici, who wrote a French treatise called Le Art de Venerie around 1320; the earliest text on hunting written in England, it opens "Here begins the art of hunting, which Master William Twici, huntsman of the king of England, made in his time to instruct others."

- On his way to York in November 1322, Edward stayed at Thorne near Doncaster, where he gave two shillings each to ten fishermen "who fished in the king's presence and took great pike, great eels and a large quantity of other fish." A John Waltham gave him two salmon.

- During the Great Famine in 1315, according to the Vita Edwardi Secundi, a brave cleric told Edward's confessor that "our king as he passes through the country takes men's goods and pays little or nothing or badly…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."  Perhaps with this in mind, the 1318 Household Ordinance ordered the household purchasers to "make their purchases in proper manner, to the great profit of the king and at minimal grievance to the people."

12 May, 2013

May Anniversaries

Important stuff that happened to Edward II and his family in May. :-)

1 May 1284: Edward, six days old, was baptised in Caernarfon.  Sadly, any record of who his godparents were has not survived.

1 May 1285: Birth of Edmund Fitzalan, earl of Arundel, who was beheaded on 17 November 1326 on the orders of his close kinsman Roger Mortimer, without a trial, for his loyalty to Edward II and Hugh Despenser.  Edmund's mother was the Italian noblewoman Alesia di Saluzzo, and one of his uncles was governor of Sardinia.

2 May 1302: Death of Edward's aunt by marriage Blanche of Artois, queen of Navarre and countess of Champagne and Lancaster, widow of Edward I's brother Edmund of Lancaster (d. 1296).  In a typically confusing royal genealogical tangle, Blanche was also Edward's queen Isabella of France's maternal grandmother.  Blanche's sons were Thomas and Henry; her daughter Jeanne by her first marriage was queen of Navarre in her own right and queen of France by marriage, mother of a queen of England and of three kings of France.

3 May 1276: Birth of Louis, count of Evreux, son of Philip III of France and Marie of Brabant, half-brother of Philip IV, uncle of Edward's queen Isabella.  Edward was on good terms with Louis before his accession, and sent a famous, jokey letter to him in 1305 about 'lazy dogs' and 'a big trotting palfrey'.

3 May 1294: Death of Duke John I of Brabant, father-in-law of Edward's sister Margaret, while jousting.

3 May 1309: Death of Edward II's first cousin once removed Charles 'the Lame', king of Naples and Albania, titular king of Jerusalem, prince of Achaea, Taranto and Salerno, son and heir of Louis IX of France's brother Charles of Anjou, king of Sicily, and Beatrice of Provence.

4 May 1306: Birth of Edward's half-sister Eleanor, youngest child of Edward I (then aged almost sixty-seven) and Marguerite of France.  Eleanor was twenty-two years Edward II's junior and more than forty years younger than Edward I's eldest child.  When the little girl was only four days old, her father arranged her future marriage to the six-year-old Robert of Burgundy, heir to his father Othon IV, count palatine of Burgundy, and to his mother Mahaut, countess of Artois.  Sadly little Eleanor died at the age of five in October or November 1311, and Edward II paid 113 pounds for her funeral at Beaulieu Abbey in Hampshire.  Robert of Burgundy died unmarried and childless in 1315, aged fifteen; his heir was his elder sister Jeanne, queen of Edward II's brother-in-law Philip V of France.

4 May 1321: The 'Contrariants', as Edward II later took to calling them, began a massive assault on the lands of Hugh Despenser the Younger in South Wales, an attack soon extended to his and his father's lands in England as well.  On the very same day, an oblivious Edward II wrote to his ally William Aune, constable of Tickhill Castle, that "we have nothing but good news before us."  Oops.

5 May 1282: Birth of Edward's first cousin Don Juan Manuel, prince of Villena and duke of Peñafiel, one of the greatest Spanish writers of the Middle Ages.

5 May 1312: Edward, Isabella and Piers Gaveston fled from Tynemouth and the rapidly approaching Thomas, earl of Lancaster.  Contrary to popular modern myth, Edward certainly did not 'abandon' his pregnant wife to her fate in the interests of saving Piers.

5 May 1316: Death of Edward's sister Elizabeth, countess of Holland, Hereford and Essex, shortly after giving birth to her youngest child Isabel, who also died.  Elizabeth was thirty-three.

8 May 1319: Death of Haakon V, king of Norway, to whose niece Margaret 'the Maid of Norway', the young queen of Scotland, Edward had been betrothed at the age of five in 1289.  Edward, unaware of Haakon's death, sent him a letter on behalf of a group of Norfolk merchants on 12 June.

12 May 1321: Edward II wrote to a dozen or so of his officials in Gascony, authorising the sale of a house there called the Earl's Hall (aula comitis), which, Edward said, had become a "brothel of worthless women."

13 May 1254: Birth of Marie of Brabant, second queen of Philip III of France, mother of Louis, count of Evreux (above), of Edward II's stepmother Queen Marguerite, and of Blanche, to whom Edward was betrothed between 1291 and 1294.  Queen Marie lived until 1321 and survived all her children.

14 May 1308: Edward granted the revenues of Ponthieu and Montreuil, his inheritance from his mother Queen Eleanor, to his twelve-year-old queen Isabella.

16 May 1363: Death of Aline, Lady Burnell, sister of Hugh Despenser the Younger, appointed as constable of Conwy Castle by Edward II in January 1326.  Aline had been a widow since 1315, forty-eight years, and must have been in her mid-seventies at the time of her death (I believe she was the eldest child of Hugh Despenser the Elder and Isabel Beauchamp and born about 1287).

17 May 1317: Fifty marks were paid to Rose de Bureford - half of what was owed to her - for making an embroidered cope as a present from the queen to the new pope, John XXII.  (Note that Edward, not Isabella, paid for it.)

18 May 1279: Death of Afonso III, king of Portugal, who was married to Edward's first cousin Beatriz of Castile.

18 May 1308: Forced to give in after many weeks of refusing to do so, Edward II agreed to banish Piers Gaveston from England (he hit on the idea of making him lord lieutenant of Ireland a few days later): "Edward, by the grace of God king of England, lord of Ireland and duke of Aquitaine, to all those who see or hear these letters, greetings. We make known to you that between this day and the day that Sir Piers Gaveston [monsire Pieres de Gavaston] must leave our realm, that is, the morrow of the Nativity of St John the Baptist next [25 June], we will not do anything, nor suffer anything to be done, as far as within us lies, by which the departure of this same Piers [meisme celui Peres] might be impeded or delayed in any way, according to the counsel given to us by the prelates, earls and barons of our realm, with which we have agreed...".

19 May 1312: After nine days of siege, with few provisions and thus little other choice, Piers Gaveston came out of Scarborough Castle and surrendered to the earls of Pembroke and Surrey and Henry, Lord Percy.  He had exactly a month left to live.

19 May 1326: Edward attended the wedding at Marlborough of his household knight Sir Robert Wateville and Margaret Hastings, niece of Hugh Despenser the Younger.  The king gave a pound to Will Muleward, one of the valets of the bride's mother Isabel, Lady Hastings, who "was with the king for some time and made him laugh very greatly."

20 May 1315: Edward II ordered Hugh Despenser the Younger, not yet his favourite, to surrender Tonbridge Castle in Kent, which he had seized.

21 May 1317: Edward paid twenty marks for his sister, the nun Mary, and their niece Elizabeth de Clare to go on pilgrimage to Canterbury.

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 (only son of his eldest sister Eleanor) and Marie of Burgundy. 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."

22 May 1306: Knighting of Edward of Caernarfon and almost 300 other young men at Westminster; one of the great events of the age.

23 May 1313: On his way to Paris with Isabella, Edward ordered the constable of Dover Castle to pay "six Saracens" six pence a day each for their expenses "until the king's return from parts beyond sea." Who these people were and what subsequently happened to them, I don't know.

(On or shortly before) 23 May 1318: Birth of Edward's great-niece Elizabeth Damory, only child of Edward's niece Elizabeth de Clare and her third husband Sir Roger Damory, Edward's great favourite at the time.  The king gave a massive twenty pounds to the messenger who brought him news of little Elizabeth's birth.

25 May 1317: Edward II arranged the future marriage of Piers Gaveston's five-year-old daughter and heir, the king's great-niece Joan, to John, son and heir of Thomas Multon, lord of Egremont in Cumberland.  John, born in 1308, was the eldest grandson of Richard de Burgh, earl of Ulster.

26 May 1306: Wedding of Hugh Despenser the Younger and Eleanor de Clare, eldest granddaughter of Edward I, who arranged and attended the wedding.  Eleanor was thirteen and a half, Hugh somewhere between sixteen and nineteen.

28 May 1309: Great jousting tournament at Stepney, at which Sir Giles Argentein held the field against all comers and was crowned 'King of the Greenwood'.

29 May 1332: Death of Edward II's sister Mary, the reluctant nun, at the age of fifty-three.

30 May 1252: Death of Edward II's maternal grandfather King Fernando III of Castile and Leon in his early fifties, conqueror of most of Andalusia, father of fifteen children, canonised as San Fernando in 1671 and the patron saint of Seville.

30 May 1323: Arrest of Edward's kinsman Henry, Lord Beaumont during a meeting of the royal council at Bishopthorpe in Yorkshire.