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]."


sami parkkonen said...

Oh that young love!

One can see that he was really desperate and in great grief, but tried to maintain somewhat noble and royal tone not wholly managing it.

I have always wondered if the reason for his fathers hostility towards Edward and Piers was not so much that he did not accept love between men but that the public displays of affection and possible tenderness annoyed him. I wonder if Edward I felt that expressing these feelings openly was embarrassing and childlike behavior and not the kind of behavior he wanted from the crown prince.

For Edward I had certainly met several gay warriors and soldiers in his life time and most likely had no problem with that as long as the gay guys were ultra butch tough guys who kept their love interests second and soldiering first and not engaged in silly romantics in public or at least so emotionally.

I might be wrong but I suspect this was the core reason for his reactions towards his son and Piers.

Anerje said...

Hi Sami,

I think it was probably the dependency Edward had for Piers that his father didn't like. Prince Edward enjoyed a different lifestyle than his father, and not only to do with sexuality. I think Edward 1st didn't want his son to openly favour and promote 1 person, however 'special' that person was. We don't know how openly affectionate Edward and Piers were, but the thought of his son being 'controlled' by a male favourite would have been worrying for Edward 1st - being enthralled by a mistress was accepted, as she could not wield real power. IMO, Edward the father seems to have laid more blame for the relationship at his son's door than Piers'. He may even have thought it was a silly infatuation that would burn itself out.

sami parkkonen said...

Yes, naturally Longshanks was not happy that his son would have had at so early on one clear favorite who was a potential problem for the crown in political sense too. Certainly he did not want that to happen, he remembered Simon de Montfort very well and did not want to create nor allow another one for his son's tenure.

It is also very likely that he probably believed that his son would grow up and man-up, that is: to take his position as a prince and future ruler more seriously than personal simple relationships and personal emotions towards lover/sweetheart. For Edward I the crown and kingdom had always been the most important thing and the rest came after that, if at all.

But I also believe that politics aside, he was not too happy for open displays of feelings for they were potentially harmful and might be seen as signs of weakness. They were not some fancy displays of the Courtly love -culture which was part of the culture of knighthood but real personal feelings and that was not good.

There was accepted culture among the knights of so-called romantic love/courtly love which could be displayed by poems songs and open admiration but it was very formalized and part of the knighthood. In this culture, which is said to be developed in the court of Eleanora of Aqvitania, a knight would pick up his "true" love, even the queen, in whose name he participated in tournaments and battles, and to whom he devoted his victories and glories. On German speaking world this was known as Minne culture.

These hyper-romantic formalized romances were usually harmless and idealized and very seldom real ones, and in some cases the knights declared that they loved only St.Mary or some other holy saint and fought and died in her name and for her glory. Problems rose when a knight and his Beloved/Minne took this romantic idea to real level and engaged in a real romance. In many cases this lead to the death of the said knight, particularly if the husband of the loved one was of a higher nobility or of she was royalty.

This can be seen happening also in the relationship between Edward II and Piers. Had they just been romantic fools and stayed in this context, they might have survived, but it was real emotions and real relationship and did not fit well in the culture of that time.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Sami, in brief, I think Edward I was so alpha male, dominating and blood-thirsty, that the slightest inclination of his son having any affection for another man was vile to him; secondly, his religion (Catholic of course) I would suggest would perhaps make him totally abhor any signs of probable homosexuality. Thirdly, I would meekly mention that probably he 'may' have thought that if Edward his son showed any of these attributes he would be a pliable king-in-waiting and not show any medieval kingly qualities. I have expressed this opinion poorly but hope that my message gets across. Amanda

Anonymous said...

I received your latest book 'Long Live The King' today so am starting to read it. A possibly ridiculous idea, but has anyone researched northern Italian monasteries/papal records in the 1330s and 1340s for 'peculiar payments' that may relate to accommodation and expenses of a deposed king of England? Just a thought. I may be well off track. Amanda

Honey Kindred said...

Hi Kathryn Warner,
I am interested in finding your source for John de Hastede being milk brother to Edward Il. I am aware that Margery de Haustede was the Keeper of the Queens jewels and later became her favourite Lady in Waiting, but was unaware that she was a milk nurse to a royal child.

Unknown said...

Hi Kathryn Warner,

I am interested in your source for the statement that John de Haustede was a milk brother to Edward ll. I am aware thst John's mother Margery de Haustede was the Keeper of the Queens jewels and later became her favourite Lady in Waiting.

Kathryn Warner said...

Hi Honey, it's from a letter written by Hugh Despenser the Younger to John Haustede in 1324, which says '...because you were suckled with our said lord the king...'. The letter is printed in the original French in Pierre Chaplais, ed., "The War of Saint-Sardos 1323-1325: Gascon Correspondence and Diplomatic Documents", and I translated it in my bio of Hugh that was published recently, "Downfall of a King's Favourite: Edward II and Hugh Despenser the Younger".