18 December, 2014

Support Group for People Unfairly Maligned in Historical Fiction (2)

Finally, the Support Group for People Unfairly Maligned in Historical Fiction reconvenes after half a decade!  Here's the first part, and don't forget the Support Group for Tragic Queens.  :-)  If you have any additions, do leave them in the comments or on my Facebook page - I'd love to read them!  And as this will be my last post till early 2015, I'd like to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Edward II: Greetings, everyone!  I'm Edward of Caernarfon, as you probably all know - do feel free to call me Ned - and I'm your moderator for this, the second meeting of all of us unfortunate historical folks maligned in fiction of the twenty-first century.  We're here to share our pain, and to share the sillinesses perpetuated about us written hundreds of years after our deaths.  I'll get us started.  As well as all the unfair and wildly untrue things about me I shared at our last meeting, there's some new stuff.  According to one novelist, I react to things by 'snivelling' and am a coward who runs away from the battlefield of Bannockburn and is too afraid to fight, even though in reality I had to be dragged protesting from the field and fought 'like a lioness deprived of her cubs' right in the thick of battle.

Piers Gaveston: Pretty damn sure I never saw you snivel, Ned.  I bet the terribly heterosexual manly hero Roger Mortimer doesn't 'snivel' in that novel, eh?

Edward II: Damn right, he doesn't.  That same novel also accuses me of cowardice because I don't beat up my wife, which was a real lolwut?? moment, I tell you.

Margaret Beaufort: May I have the floor, Ned?  I, apparently, am a religious maniac with a weirdly anachronistic Joan of Arc fetish - why? I mean, why?! - which I have to talk about every five minutes.  I mysteriously forget that I'm the countess of Richmond all the time.  But worst of all by far, I'm meant to have had Edward IV's two sons murdered in the Tower of London so that my own son Henry Tudor could become king.  Because obviously I knew that Richard III's son would conveniently die young a few months later and clear the path to the throne, and I could stroll in and out of the most fortified and well-guarded stronghold in the country and murder two princes without anyone noticing.  Yup.  Invisible Superwoman, that's me.

Edward II: That's awful, Margaret!  You mean people are willing to accuse you of the cold-blooded murder of children when there isn't the tiniest shred of evidence whatsoever?

Margaret Beaufort: Indeed there are, plenty of them.  There are also people on modern social media who call me a 'snake' and express a wish that I'd died in childbirth and my son with me.  I was thirteen at the time.  Yes, there really are people out there who wish a thirteen-year-old had suffered a painful death in childbirth.  It seems that they forget we were human beings with feelings too.

Edward II: That's beyond sickening.  It's like all the people who snigger and gloat at my supposed murder by red-hot poker and make childish jokes about 'sizzled botty' and the like, and call the manner of murder 'ingenious'.  Luckily it never happened, but yes, it amazes me that there are people who seem to take great pleasure in the vile torture and slow death of a human being.

Anne Boleyn: I don't really get why so many people in the twenty-first century feel the need to take sides, and be actually kind of vicious about it sometimes.  It's either Team Katherine of Aragon or Team Anne or Team Jane Seymour.  It's like, if you're a fan of Katherine you have to malign me, or if you're a fan of me, you have to malign Jane.  Who totally deserves it, of course.  Hehe, just kidding.  And I've also been accused of 'at least one murder' by a popular modern writer.  Still racking my brains to figure out who the heck it is I'm supposed to have had murdered.

Isabella of France: Agree with your first point, Anne.  A lot of writers seem to think that if they like me, they automatically have to hate my husband Edward II and be as nasty about him as possible.  Sorry to hear about the murder thing too.  I've been accused of it myself, and of sexual immorality, and there are still people who insist on perpetuating that ridiculous 'she-wolf' nickname.  Gah.

Edward II: Izzy, you know I love you dearly, but I don't think you really belong in this group.  The Group for People Excessively Romanticised in Modern Historical Fiction is more up your street.

Isabella: Hmph, don't tell me where I can and cannot go, dear husband.  I am queen.  And besides, that excessive romanticising of me is a kind of maligning too, you know.  Strips me of all my humanity and makes me out to be some kind of time-traveller to my own era from 700 years in the future.  And I'm getting really sick of the 'poor dear Izzy was such a victim of her horrid husband' routine.  Hey, I'm queen and regent of England, daughter of the king of France and the queen of Navarre.  The word 'victim' is not in my vocabulary.

Edward II: Remember that novel that has me sending men to tear our children literally right out of your arms and take them somewhere where you'll never see them again?  Such silly melodrama!  Some people seem incapable of understanding that our social and familial norms were not those of the twenty-first century.  Oi, novelists and writers of so-called non-fiction, I set up separate households for my children in the same way that all medieval kings did.  Why do you never write my daughter-in-law Philippa of Hainault being the victim of her cruel husband when my son Edward III sets up a household for their kids in 1340, including the baby John of Gaunt?  What's the difference?

Isabella of France: Hahaha, yeah, the novel that makes you out to be so indifferent to our children that you struggle even to remember their names, ROFLMAO!  Talk about hitting readers over the head with a sledgehammer with that kind of characterisation - the novelist might as well write you with a neon sign twenty feet high over your head screaming I AM AN UNSYMPATHETIC CHARACTER, HATE ME!

George, duke of Clarence: Hey, everyone!  Talking about blatant ways of making us appear really unlikeable and horrible, I'd like to protest at the way novelists in the twenty-first century portray me as this ridiculously one-dimensional alcoholic wife-beater.  That's all there ever was to me, apparently.  Alcoholism.  And wife-beating.  I never even laid a finger on Isabel!

Hugh Despenser the Younger: Sorry to hear that, George.  I've been depicted as a wife-beater too, and a sadist who had people tortured for the laffs.  Yeah.

Henry VII: There's this one novel where my mother Margaret Beaufort - who just hasn't been maligned enough, apparently - tells me to rape my fiancée Elizabeth of York before we marry to make sure that she can become pregnant.  If she can't, I'm to marry her sister Cecily instead.  Still trying to figure that one out - am I supposed to go through all the sisters until I find one who gets pregnant and then marry her?  Just so darn weird.

Elizabeth of York: Wait, let me see that one!  Oh yeah, I remember now, the novel where I spend half the time mooning over my lost uncle Richard III, who I was totally in love with, allegedly, and refer to constantly as 'my lover'.  My uncle.  There is not enough eeeewwwww in my vocabulary.

Henry VII: I'm depicted as this pathetic little mummy's boy half the time.  And I've been trying to block the horror of it out of my mind, but there's another novel that has me - get this, folks - drinking the blood of young men.  Like wuuuuuuh?

Henry VIII: Hey there, parents!  I'm a victim of maligning too - it seems that lots of people think I'm some kind of psychopath who had women killed for fun.  Had thousands of people killed for fun, in fact.

Anne Boleyn: Well, you did kind of have me executed, hubby dear.  My cousin Katherine Howard too.

Henry VIII: You deserved it, my love.  Anyway, it wasn't like I did it for fun, y'know.  I genuinely thought you were guilty of adultery.

Anne Boleyn: Tell me again, dear hubby, what exactly was the logic behind you having our marriage annulled just before my execution?  How could I have cheated on you when we'd never officially been married?

Henry VIII: *whistles* I can't hear you I can't hear you.

Elizabeth of York: I don't know.

Edward II: You don't know what?

Elizabeth of York: I don't know what I don't know.  I don't know anything.  Say anything to me and I'll reply that I don't know.

Elizabeth Woodville: Hey, everyone, did you know I'm a witch?  Witch witch witch.  Who makes witchy things happen all the witching time.  Because I'm a witch.  A witchy witch who does lots of witchy things.  On every witchy page of the witchy novel about how I'm a witch.

Mary Boleyn: And I'm Anne's sister, and rival.  We're sisters, but rivals.  You see?  We're sisters, and rivals at the same time.  Do you get it?  Sisters.  And RIVALS.  Rivals and sisters.  At the same time.  Do you see it now?  Had I better tell you again?

Edward II: Hehehe, you've got to love such incredibly subtle characterisation.  And modern historical fiction authors doing all their As You Know, Bob dialogue is even funnier.  "That happened the year after your brother wed Sylvia Bigod, the queen's lady-in-waiting."  "Why not ask your sister Eleanor, who is wed to Hugh Despenser? She sits right next to you."  Because that's exactly how people talk to each other, obviously.

Hannah Green, Mary I's fool: Did you know I was begged for a fool?  I still have absolutely no idea what that phrase even means, but I have to repeat it 942 times, just to make sure the reader gets the point.

Elizabeth of York: I don't know.

Roger Mortimer: How's it going, dudes?  Sorry I'm late.  The group for Unequivocally Heterosexual Men Congratulating Each Other On Being Unequivocally Heterosexual overran.  All that back-slapping takes more time than you'd think.  And Henry I insisted on opening up his laptop and making us watch a slideshow of all his illegitimate children.  Blimey, that just kept going.

Edward II: Hey, Rog, remember the writer who called you a 'lusty adventurer'?  That was in non-fiction too!  Bwhahahahahaha!

Roger Mortimer: Do. Not. Remind. Me.  Do you have any idea of how much I got the p*ss taken out of me by my household knights after that?  It went on and on for bloody months.  Just when I thought they'd finally forgotten about it, one knight went 'OK, dudes, ready for some adventures?' in the tiltyard and that was it, they were off again, literally falling off their horses laughing at me.

Piers Gaveston: Bet your squire liked the 'lusty' bit, though.  Whistling innocently here.

Roger Mortimer: Sod off, Gaveston.  I so did not have sexual relations with that squire.

Elizabeth of York: I don't know.

Isabella of France: Not maligning as such, but there are these novels where it's soooo obvious that the author is leching over me.  It makes me throw up a bit in my mouth.  On and on and on all the time, like every second page, about how beautiful and gorgeous and desirable I am and how beautiful my body is, even though I'm only like fifteen, and one yucky bit where I'm said to have 'matured to full ripeness'.  Matured to full ripeness??!  I am so grossed out.

Edward II: LOL yeah, that series of novels narrated by a supposedly heterosexual woman who leches over you all the time but never notices men and how they look.  So weird.

Anne Neville: I'm getting pretty annoyed with the way I'm almost always depicted as terribly frail, to the point where I faint or collapse about every five minutes.  Yes, I died young, but that doesn't mean I'd been a permanent invalid all my life, people!  Yeesh, it'd be great to have someone write me as though I had an actual backbone and some personality, instead of as this weak feeble fainting little...thing.

Edward of Lancaster: True, and it'd be nice if someone would acknowledge that you didn't necessarily spend your entire marriage to me weeping and wailing over Richard of Gloucester.

Anne Neville: I did a little bit at first maybe, just a tiny little bit, but I soon got used to the idea of being queen of England one day.  That was pretty cool.  Something else modern novelists never seem to realise about me is that maybe I had a bit of ambition and quite fancied being a queen!

Edward of Lancaster: Yeah, we kind of got used to being married to each other and didn't mind it at all, did we?  And you know, it's so unfair when a throwaway bravado comment you make when you're still practically a child is then used for the next half a millennium as though it represents the sum total of your personality and is constantly used to present you as a sadistic murderous psychopath.  Modern people, would you like it if someone took one of your sulky adolescent pronouncements as though it's representative of your entire life and attitudes?

Henry VI: And when one remark by one visitor to England, simply reporting a rumour he had heard that I supposedly said that my son Edward was fathered by the Holy Ghost, is taken that my son absolutely must have been fathered by someone else other than me.  As though my wife Margaret of Anjou isn't maligned enough!

Margaret of Anjou: Oh, you mean I actually have a name?  Like seriously?  I thought I was just called 'the bad queen'.  Voice dripping with sarcasm here.

Edward II: They do that to me as well, Henry, and the really daft thing is that there wasn't even a single tiny rumour or hint at the time or long afterwards, it's entirely a modern invention.  There are actually still people insisting that William Wallace fathered my son Edward III despite having been dead for seven years at the time, or that my father did, even though he had been dead for five years.  And there are plenty of folks who refuse to let go of the notion that Roger Mortimer was my son's real father.  He was in Ireland at the time, people!  Amazingly, remarkably, unequivocally heterosexual Roger may have been, but even he didn't produce sperm that could cross the Irish Sea.

Henry III: Actually, Ned, dear grandson, we should start up a support group for all of us who've had the paternity of our children assigned to other men.  My son Edward I is said to have actually been the child of my brother-in-law Simon de Montfort, even though Simon wasn't even in England when dear Eleanor and I conceived Edward.  For pity's sake.

Eleanor of Provence: The horror of that calumny, of being accused of committing adultery with a man I could barely stand the sight of!  I'm also said in the same series of novels to have had an affair with the earl of Gloucester, and my son Edward hits on his own half-sister, how yucky and icky.  The author couldn't even get your name right, dear Henry - everyone who knows anything at all about the thirteenth century knows you were called Henry of Winchester after your birthplace, but in that book you're called Henry of Monmouth, who of course was Henry V!  It's not often you see a man being confused with his own great-great-great-great-grandson, ROFL.

Elizabeth of York: I don't know.

Edward II: Afraid we're running out of time and will have to wrap this up now, folks!  Hope you all feel somewhat better after getting this rubbish off your chests, and take care until the next meeting of the Support Group for People Maligned in Historical Fiction!  Goodnight!

12 December, 2014

Yet More Cool Names of Edward II's Era

As it's nearly Christmas, here's a post with some funny or cool names I've found in the early fourteenth century, following on from long-ago posts on the same subject herehere and here. :-)  Let's face it, though, however hard I look for great names, nothing's ever going to top Adam le Fuckere...

Adam son of Hugh de Mukelesdon-in-the-Hales: pardoned for murder in 1310.

Siglanus Susse: a merchant of Bishop's Lynn in 1325 (he seems to have been Norwegian).

Valentine de Arundell: accused of murder before King's Bench in 1308.

'Nicholas Valentyn and Valentine his brother' signed a charter in Dover in 1319.  Valentine Valentyn?

Bona le Hoder: late the wife of Godwin le Hoder, a citizen of London in 1321.

Gilbert Asole: murdered by one John le Wayte in or before 1326.

Eudo de Assarto: going overseas with the archbishop of York in 1311.

Master Bindus de Bandinellus: appointed an attorney in 1324.

Dukettus de Eldestok: accused of burning down a grange in Dorset in 1319.

Peter Misfitte: accused of stealing goods from a wrecked ship on the Isle of Wight in 1321.

Hermer Alisaundre and John Cukcuk: accused of breaking and entering in Norfolk in 1308.

Ispanius de Garossa: parson of a church in Norfolk in 1310.

Virgilius Godespeny: witnessed a charter in Dover in 1320.

Ivo de Baggeslo: accused of breaking and entering in Warwickshire in 1327.

William Abbessesometer, John Henriesheiward and Henry Henriessometer: accused of breaking and entering a house in Wiltshire in 1313.

Conan Dask: accused of theft in Westmorland in 1308.

Serlo Seliman: assaulted and falsely imprisoned in Devon in 1317.

John Dood atte Asshe: accused of assault in Buckinghamshire in 1310.

John Dammanneissone: accused of stealing goods from a ship in Norfolk in 1322.

Elias Atterponne and Esger de Puttesmore: pardoned for stealing cattle in 1310.

Grisius de Barberine: merchant of Florence trading in England in 1308.

Doffus de Barde and Togge de Alboys: other Florentines in England around 1308.

Jovencus Lami: a parson in Lincolnshire in 1319, also a Florentine.

Edeneuet le Budel: accused of assault and false imprisonment in Shropshire in 1322.

Wyot le Fevre ('the smith'), Adam Wyotesman and Roger Rompe: accused of theft and assault in Suffolk in 1319.

Robert de Barneby juxta Calthorn: very posh-sounding name for a man accused of taking his cattle to eat all the grass on a Yorkshire manor in 1309.

Manser Ciprian: accused of entering a court armed in Norfolk in 1325.

Richard Fitz Dieu: a merchant of Kingston-upon-Hull in 1322.  Curious name as it means 'son of God'!

Landus Homo Dei: appointed an attorney by a Florentine banker in England in 1325 (his name means 'man of God').

Lukettus Marabotus de Carpena: appointed a member of Edward II's household in 1317.

Samyas Antoninus Siteroun and Costerus Morel: to be arrested in 1325 for unstated reasons.

Shiteburghlane: a street in London in 1321.

07 December, 2014

Edward II and his Nieces

In this post, I'm looking at the relationships between Edward II and his four eldest nieces Eleanor, Margaret and Elizabeth de Clare and Joan of Bar.  I'm excluding his nieces Eleanor and Margaret de Bohun as, until the end of his reign, they were too young for him to form much kind of relationship with them - at least, one that I can discern from surviving records - and Mary de Monthermer (half-sister of the de Clare sisters) as I haven't found much information about how she got on with Edward.  Mary's younger sister Joan de Monthermer was a nun at Amesbury Priory and I know nothing else about her at all.  Edward's remaining nieces Margaret and Alice of Norfolk and Joan and Margaret of Kent, daughters of his half-brothers Thomas and Edmund, were either born in the last few years of his reign or afterwards, and are thus also excluded.  Just to clarify, of Edward II's five older sisters, three (Eleanor, Joan and Elizabeth) had daughters, and so did both of his younger half-brothers.

Joan of Bar (born 1295 or 1296) was the only daughter of Edward's eldest sister Eleanor (1269-1298) and her husband Count Henri III of Bar, and the three de Clare sisters, born 1292, 1294 and 1295, were daughters of his second eldest sister Joan of Acre (1272-1307) and her first husband Gilbert 'the Red' de Clare, earl of Gloucester.  The four women were not too much younger than their uncle, who was born in 1284.

Eleanor de Clare, Lady Despenser (1292-1337)

I think it's very clear that Eleanor, who was only eight and a half years his junior, was Edward II's favourite niece and that the two were very close.  In 1310, he paid a messenger named John Chaucomb twenty marks for bringing him news of her (the news is not specified but was perhaps that she had borne a child), and early in his reign he even paid her expenses out of court, a sign of great favour.  Eleanor was selected as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Isabella in 1311/12, a year when Isabella's accounts happen to survive, and certainly in other years as well; she was with Isabella at Tynemouth in the autumn of 1322, for example.  At some uncertain date, probably in 1326, Edward put Eleanor in charge of the household of his second son John of Eltham, and in October 1326 left her in charge of the Tower of London when he and Eleanor's husband Hugh Despenser fled from the city, both signs of his trust in her.  In 1323, a royal ship named after her appears on record, La Alianore la Despensere, and in the same year, Edward paid her expenses at the royal manor of Cowick and gave her a large cash gift when she was ill following childbirth.

Edward's last chamber account of July 1325 to October 1326 fortuitously survives intact, the only one of his chamber accounts to do so (there are some fragments from 1322 to 1324, and that's it otherwise), and it is from here that a much fuller picture of Edward and Eleanor's very close relationship emerges.  They spent quite a bit of time together - it's hard to tell for sure but perhaps even more than Edward spent with his 'favourite', Eleanor's husband Hugh - and wrote each other letters and sent each other numerous gifts when apart.  In July 1326 they dined privately together in the park of Windsor Castle, and Eleanor is recorded several times as being present with the king when he sailed up and down the Thames west of London that summer, and he sometimes bought her fish.  (You really can't get away from fish for very long in Edward's chamber accounts.)  On 2 December 1325, Edward made a quick trip from Westminster to the royal palace of Sheen for the sole purpose of visiting Eleanor, taking only eight attendants with him, and gave her a gift of a hundred marks; he had also been paying her expenses there since at least October.  She was heavily pregnant at the time of the visit or had just given birth, as a few days later the king made an offering of thirty shillings to give thanks to God for the prompt delivery of Eleanor's child.  Did he sail down the Thames to see her because he'd heard that her baby had been born?  The entry says "Paid to my lady, Lady Eleanor Despenser, as a gift, by the hands of the king himself, when the king went from Westminster to Sheen to my said lady and returned to Westminster the same night...".   (Guess what Edward bought on his way to see Eleanor in Sheen? That's right!  Fish!)  A Flemish chronicle actually claims that Edward and Eleanor had an incestuous affair and that Eleanor was imprisoned after Edward's downfall in case she was pregnant by him, though no English chronicler states this.  For myself, I really wouldn't want to accuse them of incest without more compelling evidence, though it does seem to me that perhaps there was a little more going on between them than an uncle-niece relationship.  Hmmmm.

Margaret de Clare, countess of Cornwall (probably 1294-1342)

Joan of Acre and Gilbert the Red de Clare's second daughter was Margaret, born probably in the spring of 1294 or thereabouts, perhaps in Ireland, and who was thus almost exactly ten years younger than her uncle.  Edward arranged her marriage to Piers Gaveston on 1 November 1307 when she was about thirteen and a half; he was desperately keen to bring Piers into the royal family by marriage, and Margaret was his eldest unmarried close female relative.  It's well-nigh impossible to establish the nature of Edward and Margaret's relationship at this point; did Edward care at all about how Margaret might feel about being married to a man involved in some kind of very intense relationship with her own uncle?  Would it have mattered to him in the slightest if she hadn't wanted to marry Piers?  Margaret's personality, feelings and thoughts at this period of time are also impossible to determine: all we know is that she did her uncle's bidding and married Piers, and if she objected to it, this is not recorded.

After Piers' murder in June 1312, Edward II showed himself keen to look after Margaret financially, and gave her a very generous settlement.  Was this out of affection for her as his niece, or because she was Piers' widow?  I don't know.  After Margaret's brother the earl of Gloucester was killed at Bannockburn in June 1314 and she and her sisters became great heiresses, Edward took her into his own household, which could be seen as a sign of his affection and concern for her but more realistically is because he wanted to keep an eye on her, a desire which can only have increased after her younger sister Elizabeth married Theobald de Verdon without his permission in early 1316.  On 28 April 1317, Edward attended Margaret's wedding to his household knight and 'favourite' Sir Hugh Audley.  I can't say for sure whether Edward II was really fond of Margaret or not, only that he seems to have been pleased with her, to have been willing to ensure that she and her daughter Joan Gaveston were well provided for financially, and that there is no evidence of any conflict between the two until 1322.  Perhaps this is because Margaret did what he wanted and married two of his 'favourites' without (recorded) complaint.

All this changed in and after 1322, when Margaret's husband Hugh Audley joined the Contrariant rebellion and fought against the royal army at Boroughbridge in March 1322.  Margaret still retained enough influence over her uncle to be able to plead successfully for Hugh's life to be spared, but Edward ordered her to remove herself to Sempringham Priory in Lincolnshire soon afterwards: she arrived there on 16 May 1322.  He allowed her three servants and a generous enough five shillings a day for her expenses, but told her she was "not to go without the gates of the house."  And there, as far as I know, Margaret remained until her uncle's downfall four and a half years later, while her elder sister Eleanor rose ever higher in the king's favour.  Edward II clearly was furious at what he saw as Hugh Audley's betrayal, and some of this rage spilled out onto Margaret, whether reasonably or not (possibly this was just Edward being vindictive as he often was towards family members of people he didn't like, or possibly he had good reason to suspect that Margaret had played an active role in her husband's rebellion).  And thus the relationship between uncle and niece ended abruptly.

Elizabeth de Clare, Lady de Burgh (1295-1360)

Third daughter of Joan of Acre and Gilbert the Red.  I get the strong feeling that Edward II wasn't fond of Elizabeth at all, though I have no idea why.  He attended her wedding to the earl of Ulster's son and heir John de Burgh in September 1308 - her brother Gilbert married John's sister Maud at the same time - but other than that, I can't think of any occasions when he showed her favour, or support, or kindness.  He ordered her back from Ireland in late 1315, most probably with the intention of bringing her into his household and keeping an eye on her as he did with her elder sister Margaret, but Theobald de Verdon married her without royal permission in Bristol shortly after her return.  To what extent Elizabeth was complicit in this marriage or an innocent victim of abduction is unclear, but it is likely that the event destroyed any trust or affection Edward may ever have had for Elizabeth.  When she was widowed from Verdon after less than six months of marriage, Edward became determined to marry her off to his latest favourite Sir Roger Damory, and wrote to her to this end, describing her as his 'favourite niece', which is simply a bare-faced lie.  The utter brazenness of the lie, told in a transparent attempt to get Elizabeth to do his bidding, just makes me laugh.  Some months later when Elizabeth was heavily pregnant with Verdon's posthumous daughter, Edward tramped over to Amesbury Priory with Roger Damory, in order to persuade her to marry Damory.  Vulnerable, pregnant, widowed for the second time, still only twenty-one, her parents long dead, her only 'protector' the uncle determined to marry her off to a man far beneath her in status, Elizabeth had little choice but to agree.

Roger Damory also joined the Contrariant rebellion some years later, and died at Burton-on-Trent on 12 March 1322.  Even before his death, Elizabeth was captured at Usk in Wales and sent to the abbey of Barking with her young children, where she learned of her husband's death.  On 16 March 1322, Edward told Elizabeth (as he told her sister Margaret two months later) not to go out of the gates of the abbey, and she remained there during the summer of 1322; Edward paid seventy-four pounds for her expenses.  He restored her Welsh lands to her on 25 July 1322 and the English and Irish ones on 2 November, and, unlike her sister Margaret, released her.  Worse was to come, however.  Elizabeth herself related in 1326 how she was ordered to spend Christmas 1322 with her uncle, but when she arrived, she was separated from her council, forced to exchange her valuable Welsh lands for some of her brother-in-law Hugh Despenser's lands there of lesser value, and threatened by the king that she would hold no lands of him unless she consented.  Such appalling behaviour towards his own niece shows Edward II in the worst light possible.  It is hardly surprising that after the arrival of the invasion force of Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer in September 1326, Elizabeth kept in close contact with Isabella via letters and probably had prior knowledge of the invasion, though she was also clever and cautious enough to correspond with her uncle the king as well.  Like her sister Margaret, for whom Edward II's downfall meant freedom and the resumption of her marriage, Elizabeth can hardly have been anything but pleased at the events of late 1326 and early 1327.  She attended Edward's funeral in December 1327; I don't know if her sister Margaret did, and their other sister Eleanor was then still imprisoned.

Joan of Bar, countess of Surrey (1295/96-1361)

Edward attended Joan's wedding to John de Warenne, earl of Surrey, in May 1306, when she was only ten or eleven.  Unfortunately, Joan and John's marriage soon went badly wrong, and sometime before May 1313, Edward sent his valet William Aune to John's castle at Conisbrough to collect Joan and bring her to him (Edward).  He subsequently paid her living expenses at the Tower of London for at least some years.  In July 1313, Joan accompanied Edward and Isabella on their long visit to France, at Edward's special request.

In 1316, John de Warenne began trying to have his marriage to Joan annulled, which left Edward II in a rather awkward position: the earl of Surrey was a very useful political ally who for most of Edward's reign was steadfastly loyal to the king, but Joan was his niece, and he didn't want to alienate either of them.  Edward did his best to steer the difficult course between loyalty to both earl and countess.   In August 1316, he allowed John to surrender his lands to him, and granted them back with reversion to John and Thomas, two of his sons with his mistress Maud Nerford – meaning that he accepted John's illegitimate children as his heirs.  On the other hand, Edward paid all Joan's legal costs, and appointed his clerk Master Aymon de Juvenzano "to prosecute in the Arches at London, and elsewhere in England" on his niece's behalf from 10 July to 26 November 1316.  In November 1316, Joan left to go abroad, probably to stay with her brother Edouard, count of Bar, and Edward gave her more than £166 for her expenses.

Joan's life subsequently becomes rather obscure; I don't know where she was living in and after 1316 and whether Edward was still paying her expenses.  Her estranged husband John remained loyal to Edward during the Contrariant rebellion.  In March 1325 she accompanied Queen Isabella to France, but kept in touch with her uncle: Edward paid her messenger later that year for bringing him her letters.  She seems to have returned to England with Isabella's invasion force in September 1326, or perhaps had returned before, but at any rate was with the queen when Edward's great seal was brought to Isabella in November 1326, shortly after his capture.  To what extent Joan sympathised with the queen's aims and supported her uncle's downfall, I have no idea; other than favouring her estranged husband - which Joan must surely have recognised as a political necessity anyway - I can't think of any instances when Edward was unkind to or unsupportive of her.

03 December, 2014

Nine Years of the Edward II Blog!

Today marks the nine-year anniversary of my blog!  It began on 3 December 2005, and 564 posts later, we're still here!  It's had over 900,000 visitors, so an average of a little over 100,000 a year, though these days I get around 1000 visitors a day.  Not bad at all for a blog about one of the most disastrous kings England's ever had, eh?

Edited to add: many thanks to Kyra Kramer for kindly hosting me on her blog!  My post about Edward II's death can be read here.

This year has been a particularly good one for me and Edward II.  My Edward II: The Unconventional King was released in October (though is not, at the time of writing, yet available in North America, except on Kindle - will be soon!) and is selling really well and getting some great reviews.  In June this year I appeared (briefly) on a BBC documentary marking the 700th anniversary of the battle of Bannockburn.

Here's to the next nine years!  :-)  And thank you all for reading and for all your support.7