A claim I've sometimes seen in books - I'm not stating which ones, as I refuse to give them the publicity - is that Edward II's 'tastes ran to boys' or that he 'liked boys'. Um, no. This is an unpleasant smear and emphatically untrue. Edward II had relationships with men, not with boys. His 'male favourites', as the saying goes, were: Piers Gaveston, Roger Damory, Hugh Audley, William Montacute and Hugh Despenser the Younger, and three of them were older than he was.
- Piers Gaveston's date of birth is absolutely impossible to determine, though he was the second child of a couple who were already married by 30 June 1272. That in itself is not necessarily very helpful in determining his approximate date of birth - Edward II's own parents married on or about 1 November 1254, but he wasn't born until 25 April 1284 - though according to one Gascon commenter on my blog a few years ago, Piers's sister Amie was the Gavestons' fifth child and was born in 1285. Piers was likely born around the late 1270s or early 1280s, and in July 1283 at the latest (he was made the guardian of Roger Mortimer of Wigmore in July 1304 and must have been at least twenty-one then). He was older than Edward II by at least nine months and probably more.
- Sir Roger Damory's father Robert died in c. July 1285, so even if Roger was posthumous he can't have been born later than c. March/April 1286, and he was probably a few years older than that. His elder brother Richard Damory was already active as a soldier and keeper of the peace by the late 1290s, therefore can't have been born later than the late 1270s or thereabouts. Roger Damory was either Edward II's own age or older, and was emphatically an adult and at least thirty when their relationship began in 1315.
- Sir Hugh Audley was the second child of a couple who married c. 1288/89 (his mother's first husband died in 1287), and was born sometime in the early 1290s. He was therefore a few years younger than Edward II, but was around twenty-three or twenty-five when their relationship began c. 1315/16, and was well into adulthood. He was already a knight when he joined Edward's household in late 1311.
- Sir William Montacute or Montague was older than Edward II: the eldest of his four sons was born in 1299, and one or several of his seven daughters might have been older than that. Given that Montacute became a father in or before the late 1290s, he isn't likely to have been born much after 1280 and was probably born in the 1270s. When his relationship with Edward began c. 1315/16, he was not only an adult, he was the father of many children and a husband of many years' standing (he married Elizabeth Montfort in or not long after 1292, though that doesn't say anything very much about his age).
- Sir Hugh Despenser the Younger was the second child of parents who married in c. December 1285, was born in the late 1280s, and became a father in 1308 or early 1309. His relationship with Edward II, about four or five years his senior, began in late 1318 or sometime in the first half of 1319, by which time Hugh was around thirty years old, a husband for thirteen years, and the father of at least half a dozen children.
Look, if you want to criticise Edward II, there are a million and one things you can reasonably criticise him for. Have at it, but don't slyly imply that he was a paedophile who was attracted to boys. That's a nasty, offensive little smear, it's entirely untrue, and in my opinion it comes across as pretty homophobic to boot.