30 July, 2017

Edward II Goes Swimming?

There is evidence that Edward II thoroughly enjoyed swimming: in February 1303, for example, when he wasn't yet nineteen and was prince of Wales, he had to pay compensation to his fool Robert Buffard or Bussard for playing a trick on him in the river in Windsor (they were swimming in *February*), and in October 1315 the king spent a congenial month swimming and rowing in the Fens with lots of 'common people'.

I've been looking recently through one of Edward's chamber accounts, and there's more evidence of his enjoyment of swimming. In June 1324, at Thundersley in Essex, the royal valet Thomas Bower was paid for "what he did" (which sadly isn't specified) "when the king went into the water at Thundersley." I'm not at all familiar with Essex so am not sure which water this means. Maybe it was a hot summer and Edward was cooling off by plunging into the nearest body of water. Unless 'went into the water' means that the king fell off a barge or boat and Thomas Bower saved him, and he wasn't going swimming at all. I know I've seen another reference to Edward going into the water in the same chamber account, but darned if I can find it now. I'll post it here if and when I ever do.

Three rather intriguing entries from the same account record payments from Edward II to "the women of Lambeth, singing in the water of the Thames in the company of Burgeys de Till." Burgeys was one of Edward's chamber vadletz, and came from Gascony. Women of Lambeth and a man from the south of France singing in the water of the Thames? The mind boggles. At Christmas 1324, Edward played something called rafle, no idea what that is, with Burgeys and two of his chamber squires called Giles of Spain and Garsy Pomit. Garsy was also a Gascon. What I love about Edward's chamber accounts is that the same servants pop up over and over, so that after a while you get to know who they are, and I know from another chamber account that Garsy had an adult son. Burgeys de Till and Giles of Spain appear in another entry: they were performing some kind of act with fire for Edward at his Westminster cottage of Burgundy in February 1325, but it went horribly wrong, and they burned their arms. Ouch.

And some more nice little snippets from the same source:

On Edward's fortieth birthday, 25 April 1324, at his favourite residence of King's Langley in Hertfordshire, the king rewarded two young members of his household with five shillings because they had "found and arrested three thieves." The two young men were called Janekyn and Jakynet, both nicknames for men called John. Well done, the Johns!

Two days later, Edward gave forty shillings to a married couple going on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

In May 1324, Edward's painter Jack of St Albans - who crops up a fair bit in the records - received forty shillings for painting scenes from the life of Edward's father Edward I in the painted hall of Westminster Palace (I've heard of the Painted Chamber but this definitely says 'hall'. though I assume it was the same place).

There are references to Edward's house La Rosere, which was in London on the opposite side of the Thames to the Tower, which he was building or renovating in 1324/25. Hope to look at La Rosere again in a future post.

23 July, 2017

The Lancaster Brothers

A quick post about Edward II's first cousins Thomas and Henry, brothers of the house of Lancaster.

Thomas and Henry were the sons of Edmund, earl of Lancaster, Leicester and Derby, second son of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence and the younger brother of Edward I. Edmund was born in January 1245, and in about late 1275 married his second wife Blanche of Artois, dowager queen of Navarre and niece of Louis IX of France. Blanche had a daughter from her first marriage, Joan I, queen of Navarre in her own right, born in 1273. Joan married Philip IV of France and was the mother of Louis X, Philip V and Charles IV, kings of France and Navarre, and of Isabella of France, Edward II's queen. It's amazing how many people miss the fact that Thomas and Henry of Lancaster were Isabella's uncles, the younger half-brothers of her mother, as well as the first cousins of her husband Edward II.

The dates of birth of the Lancaster brothers are not known, but Thomas was probably born in late 1277 or 1278, and Henry in 1280 or 1281. There was a third brother John, born before May 1286 when he is mentioned on the Patent Roll, who is almost entirely obscure as he lived his whole life in France and died there in 1317, childless; his elder brother Henry was his heir. Thomas of Lancaster married Alice Lacy in 1294, and via her inherited the earldoms of Lincoln and Salisbury to add to the three he already had; she was abducted by the earl of Surrey in 1317, or more probably left of her own accord, and the couple had no children. Henry married Maud Chaworth on or before 2 March 1297 when she was fifteen or almost and he about sixteen. She was also an heiress, though not nearly as grand as Alice Lacy, and brought Henry lands in the south of England and Wales. Henry and Maud had seven children, six daughters and one son, the great and magnificent Henry of Grosmont, first duke of Lancaster. (If you've ever gained the impression here that I'm madly in love with Duke Henry, you'd be entirely correct.) Henry and Maud were the ancestors of much of the English nobility of the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries - and also, probably, of numerous people alive today.

16 July, 2017

A Letter from Edward of Caernarfon, August 1305

This letter was written in French during the period when Edward I had temporarily banished his twenty-one-year-old son and heir from court, dismissed most of his household and confiscated his great seal. Edward's priority was to get Piers Gaveston ('Perot de Gauastone') back, and asked his sister Elizabeth to ask their stepmother Queen Marguerite to ask the king to do so. The Gilbert de Clare mentioned is not Edward's nephew of this name, the future earl of Gloucester, but his first cousin of the same name, lord of Thomond in Ireland (born in 1281). The John Haustede mentioned in the letter was Edward's milk-brother. Edward also wrote directly to Marguerite on the same day in very similar vein, and the tone of both letters is somewhat melodramatic; that's Edward all over.


"Edward, etc, to his very dear sister, my lady Elizabeth, countess of Holland, Hereford and Essex, greetings and very dear affection. Of the good health of our lord the king our father, and of my lady the queen, and of yours, of which we have learned from your letters, we are very glad. And regarding ours, we make known to you that we were in good health, thanks to God, when these letters were made. And because our lord the king has granted to us two valletz to remain near us, namely John Haustede and John Weston, we beg and request you urgently that you may please beg my lady the queen our very dear [step]mother that she may beg the king that he may grant us an additional two valletz to remain with us, that is, Gilbert de Clare and Perot de Gauastone; because if we had those two, with the others whom we have, we would be much relieved of the anguish we have endured, and still suffer day after day, by the command and the wish of our said lord the king. Very dear sister, may our Lord keep you. Given under our privy seal, in the park of Windsor the fourth day of August [1305]."

08 July, 2017

Those Lawless Dunheveds

 I've written plenty before about the Dunheved brothers Thomas and Stephen, leaders of the group who temporarily freed Edward of Caernarfon from Berkeley Castle in the summer of 1327. See here, here, here and here. There were four Dunheved brothers: in birth order, they were Stephen, John, Thomas and Oliver, and there was also a sister, Rohese or Rose. Thomas the third brother was a Dominican friar, sent by Edward II to Avignon in 1324 to complain to John XXII about the archbishop of Dublin, and also sent as a messenger with letters from Edward to Hugh Despenser the Younger in Wales in 1325. Oliver the fourth brother also entered the Church, and was a chaplain. The siblings were the children of John Dunheved, who died between December 1306 and April 1307 [Cal. Inq. Post Mortem 1300-7, 217, 302; CIPM 1307-17, 25], and Eustachia, who died after January 1310. The Dunheveds held the manor of Dunchurch in Warwickshire from the Mortimer family of Richard's Castle (who were only quite distantly related to the Mortimers of Wigmore who became earls of March). John Dunheved the father also held tenements in the manor of Seething in Norfolk and three knights' fees in the same county, jointly with a woman called Isabel Haggele, during the lifetime of one Lettice de Lodne. [CIPM 1300-7, 217, 302] In November 1300, John and Eustachia Dunheved settled two parts of the manor of Dunchurch on themselves with remainders to their children, beginning with Stephen, their eldest son. [Warwickshire Feet of Fines, vol. 15, no. 1158]

I have no idea how old the Dunheved siblings were, but I'm guessing they were born in the 1280s to 1290s. Their father John Dunheved was born in or before 1260, as his mother Christiane Dunheved née Butler granted his wardship and marriage to Henry de Montford or Montfort that year, and he is first mentioned owning land in July 1287, which indicates that he was born by July 1266 at the latest. [Warwickshire Feet of Fines, vol. 11, no. 779; CIPM 1272-91, 395] The grant of John's marriage to Montfort probably means that Eustachia Dunheved was a Montfort by birth (and no, I have no idea how Henry fits into the the family tree of Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, assuming he does).

The Dunheved brothers were bad boys. Really bad. Stephen committed some serious felony which resulted in his abjuring the realm, that is, a specific legal procedure whereby someone expecting the death penalty could instead choose to voluntarily exile themselves from England for life. It was possibly murder. Edward II must have pardoned Stephen - only the king had the power to pardon an abjurer - as he was back in England by 15 February 1322 and in royal favour, appointed custodian of Lyonshall Castle and to 'make inquisition' into the goods of four Contrariants in Herefordshire. [Fine Rolls 1319-27, 95, 101] John the second brother had a long criminal career. In January 1310 he was accused of burning down the grange, with the corn and goods inside, of his own mother Eustachia in Dunchurch. [Patent Rolls 1307-13, 317-8] Edward II pardoned John of outlawry in July 1316 for failing to appear before King's Bench on a charge of trespass against William of Esthalle. [Patent Rolls 1313-7, 516] In September 1319, John, his brother Oliver the chaplain, John of the Crosse and two others were accused of raping Edith Grasbrok in Warwickshire, and, again, did not appear in court. See here. And the worst thing of all, on 9 February 1325 John murdered his own brother Oliver, whom John's wife Margery named as a 'common thief' (though she was hardly unbiased), in Dunchurch, by shooting him in the heart with a barbed arrow. He also tried to burn down the house of one William Mori where Oliver was staying, and killed Oliver when he ran out of the house, in the middle of the night. [Cal. Inq. Misc. 1308-48, no. 848] Oliver is not specifically stated to be John's brother, and I suppose he could be a cousin with the same name, but I don't think so. John was pardoned on 5 May 1327 near the start of Edward III's reign, presumably for all these criminal acts. [Patent Rolls 1327-30, 51] He was pardoned again in November 1345 for outlawry in Huntingdonshire for not appearing in court, and surrendered himself to the Fleet prison in London, unless this was his son of the same name (I don't know how old John would have been in 1345). [Patent Rolls 1345-8, 12] Orders were issued for the arrest of John's brothers Stephen and Thomas between March and June 1327, at the same time as John's pardon, because they were trying to free Edward of Caernarfon.

So we have Stephen Dunheved, guilty of murder or some other very serious felony for which he expected to be executed, John Dunheved accused of rape, murdered his own brother, burned down his mother's grange and committed trespass, Oliver Dunheved the chaplain, said to be a common thief and also accused of rape, and Thomas Dunheved the friar, said by the pope in 1325 to be acting against his Dominican order even though he was by now a papal chaplain. The Dunheved brothers probably weren't too delightful in person, though were exactly the kind of men you'd want trying to free you from captivity, and they temporarily succeeded in springing Edward out of Berkeley Castle in June or July 1327. Afterwards Stephen fled to London and was arrested there and imprisoned in Newgate, but escaped in or just before June 1329. [Close Rolls 1327-30, 146, 549] He was ordered to be arrested again on 31 March 1330 as an adherent of Edward II's half-brother the earl of Kent, trying to free the supposedly dead Edward from captivity, and that, sadly, is the last mention I've ever found of him. [Fine Rolls 1327-37, 169] Thomas Dunheved was captured in Budbrooke near their family home of Dunchurch after the attack on Berkeley Castle and sent to prison at Pontefract Castle in Yorkshire, or perhaps in York. He most probably died in captivity, though not before almost escaping, though there's a possibility that he just may have lived long enough to be involved in the earl of Kent's plot of 1330 as well.

Either Stephen or John Dunheved granted the manor of Dunchurch for life to Sir John Somery, who died in August 1322. [CFR 1319-27, 185] John Dunheved then mortgaged it to Sir John Pecche, lord of Hampton-in-Arden in Warwickshire, who, like Stephen Dunheved, was involved in the earl of Kent's plot of 1329/30 to free Edward of Caernarfon. Normally Dunchurch would have been forfeit to the king when Stephen abjured the realm, and indeed Edward II thought so at first, but an inquisition in November 1322 revealed that "John [Somery] held the said manor for life of the inheritance of John Dunheved." [CFR 1319-27, 185; CIPM 1317-27, 255]

Here's a petition presented by John Dunheved's wife Margery, probably in 1327:  "Margery, wife of John de Donheved, states that John Pecche, his wife, and twenty armed men came to her husband's house in Dunchurch one night, looking for him to kill him, and dragged her out of bed and ill-treated her, and carried off 100 shillings worth of goods. On the third day after that, her husband's sister [Rohese] had them expelled from that land by conspiracy, and John Pecche seised of it. He asked the aid of the Earl of Arundel and of Hugh le Despenser the younger, and when the king was last at Warwick, to inquire into the death of Roger de Belers [in January 1326], they had her husband indicted at Warwick, among other false indictments, of the death of Oliver de Donheved, who was a common thief. Because of this, they are destroyed, and driven from their land. They request a remedy, as he [Pecche] is so feared in the land that they do not dare to pursue their right there."

This is because Oliver Dunheved was John Pecche's rent-collector, so Pecche presumably wanted revenge for Oliver's murder. Pecche's second wife Eleanor was the widow of Sir Ralph Gorges, a Despenser adherent, so it seems that Pecche had joined the charmed circle of those protected and aided by Hugh Despenser. When the Despensers fell in late 1326, John Pecche managed to stay in favour with the new regime, until he joined the earl of Kent's plot with his son Nicholas and saw his lands and goods confiscated.

The Dunheveds don't seem to have been a particularly close family, do they, with the exception of Stephen and Thomas, who worked together to free Edward of Caernarfon. John the second brother murdered Oliver the fourth brother and burned down their mother's grange, and the only Dunheved sister, Rohese, had John 'expelled by conspiracy' from Dunchurch. The story of the Dunheved brothers also reveals what a violent place England often was in the fourteenth century. Stephen may have been a bad boy, but thanks to his unstinting support of Edward II even years after his official death, he's one of my heroes.

06 July, 2017

Nicknames Of Edward II's Era

From Edward II's household accounts, here are people's nicknames I've found from the early fourteenth century:

Ibote, Isode and Sibille for Isabel(la)

Jonete or Jonette and Jony for Joan, spelt Johane at the time

Emmot or Emote or Emmote for Emma, spelt Emme at the time

Alisour for Eleanor, spelt Alianore at the time

Annot or Annote for Anneis, which was a common name for women in Edward's time (also sometimes spelt Anneys)

Hogge for Roger, which I assume was pronounced Hog and not Hoggy or Hogguh

Robin or Robyn was and of course still is a nickname for Robert, and I've also seen Robynet

Hobbe was another nickname for Robert, as in Edward II's chamber servant Grete Hobbe, or Great Hob in modernised spelling, or Big Rob translated into modern English

Hick and Richardyn for Richard. I haven't seen Dickon, which seemed to appear later in the century; Richard II's Cheshire archers in the late 1390s notoriously called him Diccun

Nicknames for John were: Jak or Jakke, Janin, Jan(e)kyn, Jakynet, Janecok. (Seriously.)

Thomelyn/Thomelin and Thomme for Thomas

Wille and Willecok for William

Gibbe and Gibon for Gilbert; I've also seen Gille which I assume is another

I've seen Guilimot given to a man from Gascony, which is surely a nickname for Guilhem, the southern French version of Guillaume or William

One Gascon man called Arnaud was affectionately referred to as Arnaudyn in one of Edward's accounts, and of course we find Perot or Perrot for Piers Gaveston (whose first name was usually written Pieres)

Syme or Sime for Simon, which in Edward II's time was either spelt as nowadays, or Symond

Monde for Edmund, which was spelt Esmon or Edmon in the fourteenth century and was probably pronounced something like 'Aymon'

Waut or Watte for Walter, spelt (and probably pronounced) Wauter in the fourteenth century

Colle for Nicholas, spelt Nichol in the fourteenth century. Edward II had a servant called Litel Colle, or Little Colin, whose mother was called Anneis

Henriot for Henry

Phelipot for Philip, usually spelt Phelip at the time

Raulyn or Ravlyn for Ralph, spelt (and probably pronounced) Rauf in the fourteenth century

I haven't seen any nicknames for Edward, which in Edward II's time was still not a particularly common name. I've seen a letter from Edward II to David de Strathbogie, earl of Atholl, calling him 'Sir Davy', and a reference to Sir Marmaduke Someone or Other - his identity escapes me now - calling him Duket.

Huchon or Huchoun and Hughelyn for Hugh

In a petition of c. 1321/22, incidentally, Hugh Despenser the Younger's eldest sister's name was spelt Alyne Burnel; in a letter of Edward II responding to it, her name was written Eleyne, which looks like one of those implausible and pretentious fake medieval names you often find in romance novels along the lines of Brianna and Topaz, but is in fact genuine. Who'd have thought it? (Not me, until I saw it recently.)

And off-topic here, but: I wrote recently about my great affection for and interest in Edward II's household staff, and mentioned the Lawe brothers Henry and Syme who both served in the king's chamber, and who had another brother called Willecok and a sister called Alis Coleman who brewed ale for Edward. Interestingly, Alis's last name is once written as 'Colemanwyf', i.e. 'Coleman's wife'. I now know the name of the Lawe siblings' father: Roger Lawe, who was ill in August 1324 and received a gift of ten shillings from Edward. 

01 July, 2017

Edward II Goes Fishing

I've posted before that Edward II enjoyed the company of fishermen along the Thames and often chatted to them and spent time with them (including one Colle Herron), and in November 1322 stood by a river near Doncaster watching men fishing. Lately I've been looking at one of Edward's few extant chamber accounts, which shows that the king himself went fishing while staying at Beaulieu Abbey in Hampshire in April 1325. The account says Liu'e au Roi mesmes q'nt il ala pescher en lewe a Beaulieu...iijs, "Delivered to the king himself when he went fishing in the water at Beaulieu...3 shillings." He went with nine companions, one of whom was called Jak Bere; the others are not named, but they were all local fishermen. Sadly, the account does not specify if the king caught anything, and whether he enjoyed it for his dinner. Edward II in fact was a great fan of seafood, and had oysters brought to him at Beaulieu from Westminster, nearly ninety miles away. A former page of his kitchen also brought him shrimps around this time, and the word is written in English, shrympes, in the middle of the Anglo-Norman text.

One of the entries on the same folio of the account as this fab fishing one is also amusing and revealing. Will Gentilcorps, keeper of Edward's carthorses, was looking to purchase ten more carthorses from a man called John atte Pulle, and did so "in the presence of the king" underneath the vine outside the royal bedchamber. Whatever the feelings of Will Gentilcorps on the matter, Edward II made his opinion perfectly clear: eight of the horses were purchased, but the other two were not, because "the king did not agree at all that the said carthorses should be bought." One of the two was a bay, the other grey. Nor was this the only time that the king of England took an interest in the purchase of carthorses: his chamber accounts show that Will Gentilcorps and others often bought them "in the king's presence."

Can you imagine Jak Bere the fisherman talking to his men that morning? "Right, lads, we've got a busy day ahead, and oh, we've got a special guest coming with us."
"Who's that then, Jak?"
"Well, actually, it's the king."
"The KING? As in, God's anointed? As in, God's representative on earth, born to rule over us? As in, the most important man in the country? The KING? Yeah right, Jak. Pull the other one."