19 December, 2021

Book Giveaway: John of Gaunt and Philippa of Hainault

My book John of Gaunt: Son of One King, Father of Another will be released in the UK in mid-January 2022, finally (I submitted it to Amberley in April 2020, but because of Covid, it's been massively delayed). I have three, yes three, free hardback copies to give away!

My biography of John's mother, Philippa of Hainault: Mother of the English Nation, will be released in paperback also in early 2022, and I have two free (paperback) copies of it to give away as well.

You can enter either draw, or both! To do so, either leave a comment here, with your email address so I can contact the winners, or email me at edwardofcaernarfon(at)yahoo(dot)com, or message me/leave a comment on my Edward II Facebook page, or if we're connected on my personal Facebook or Twitter accounts, you can contact me there as well. Make sure I have some means of contacting you if you're one of the lucky winners, and also, let me know which book(s) you'd like to win. It doesn't matter where in the world you are, as long as you have an address I can post a book to!

The closing date is midnight GMT on 31 December 2021, so you have twelve days to enter the draw. Best of luck!

03 December, 2021

Sixteen Years of the Edward II Blog!

The Edward II blog is sixteen years old today! Hurray! I started it on 3 December 2005 and have written 912 posts, and the blog has had well over three million visitors now. Who'da thunk it, ey, that a blog about one of the most unsuccessful kings in British history would get so many readers? Yay for Edward II!

Unfortunately I'm not yet able to update the blog as often as I'd like, as I'm still coping with the loss of my mother just over six months ago. This time of year is particularly hard for me, because it's her birthday - or it would have been her birthday, and a big one that ends in a zero - in a few days. Those of you who have lost a parent will know just what a long and painful process it is to come to terms with it.

So anyway, hope to post some more articles here sometime soon, and just wanted to say to all of you: thank you so, so much for reading and supporting me these last few years. It means a lot. Love, Kathryn xx

01 December, 2021

Marguerite Mortimer née Fiennes (d. 1334)

Roger Mortimer of Wigmore, first earl of March, is, for fairly obvious reasons, one of the most famous and written-about people of Edward II's era. I often feel, though, that the women in Roger's life, with the exception of Queen Isabella, are little known, and are undervalued and sometimes downright ignored. In an attempt to rectify this, here's a post about Roger's Anglo-French mother Marguerite Fiennes.

Marguerite was probably born around 1270, and was one of the two daughters of the Anglo-French nobleman Guillaume de Fiennes, who was killed at the battle of Courtrai in July 1302, and the French noblewoman and heiress Blanche de Brienne, lady of Loupelande. Blanche was born in c. 1252, and was a granddaughter of John de Brienne (d. 1237), king of Jerusalem by his first marriage, and elected Latin Emperor of Constantinople in 1229. 

Marguerite had a younger sister called Jeanne or Joan, who married John, Lord Wake, landowner in Cumberland and Yorkshire. Their elder son Thomas, Lord Wake was born in 1298 and they had a younger son John as well, and their daughter Margaret, who was presumably named after her maternal Fiennes aunt and was perhaps Marguerite's goddaughter, married Edward II's half-brother the earl of Kent in 1325 and was the mother of Joan of Kent, princess of Wales. Jeanne Fiennes was left a widow with three small children in 1300. Marguerite and Jeanne also had a brother, John or Jean, who unlike them lived most of his life in France and married one of the many daughters of Guy de Dampierre, the very long-lived count of Flanders.

Marguerite Fiennes spent most of or all her life in England, and married Edmund Mortimer around 1285. He was many years her senior, probably close to twenty

He died in 1304, and his heir was his and Marguerite's elder son Roger, who was probably born around 25 April or 3 May 1287.

Marguerite died in early 1334, having outlived her daughter Maud Mortimer de Verdon, who died in 1312 leaving three daughters; her younger son John Mortimer, who died childless in 1318; her elder son Roger Mortimer, who was executed in November 1330; and her grandson Edmund Mortimer, who died in late 1331. Her heir at her death was her five-year-old great-grandson Roger Mortimer, born in November 1328, later the second earl of March.

Philippa of Hainault and the Cumans' mtDNA

Philippa of Hainault (c. 1314-69), queen of Edward III, was a great-great-granddaughter of a queen of Hungary and Croatia named Elizabeth, or Erzsébet in its Hungarian form. Elizabeth, who died in 1290, was born into a nomadic tribe of the Eurasian steppes who practised shamanism. The Cumans fled into Hungary in the 1230s and 1240s to escape the incursions of Genghis Khan’s sons and grandsons into their territories, and Elizabeth’s father, whose name is believed to have been either Seyhan or Köten and who was the Cumans’ khan or chieftain, arranged Elizabeth’s marriage to the future king of Hungary, Stephen (or István) V. She converted to Christianity before her wedding and took the Christian name Elizabeth, and her daughter Marie of Hungary (d. 1323), queen of Naples, was Philippa of Hainault’s great-grandmother.

Elizabeth the Cuman, queen of Hungary and Croatia (d. 1290) -> Marie of Hungary, queen of Naples (d. 1323) -> Marguerite of Anjou-Naples, countess of Valois (d. 1299) -> Jeanne de Valois, countess of Hainault (d. 1352) -> Philippa of Hainault, queen of England (d. 1369)

Queen Philippa's maternal uncle Philip VI of France (born 1293, reigned 1328-50), son of Marguerite of Anjou-Naples and older brother of Jeanne de Valois, was also descended from Elizabeth the Cuman in the female line, and therefore carried the same mtDNA.

And on the topic of maternal descent, here's Edward II's, going backwards, as far back as I've been able to trace it for certain:

Edward II - Leonor/Eleanor of Castile, queen of England (d. 1290) - Jeanne of Ponthieu, queen of Castile (d. 1279) - Marie of Ponthieu, countess of Ponthieu and Aumale (d. 1250) - Alais/Alix/Alys of France, countess of Ponthieu (d. c. 1220/21) - Constanza of Castile, queen of France (d. 1160) - Berenguela of Barcelona, queen of Castile (d. 1149) - Douce/Dulce, countess of Provence (d. c. 1127/30) - Gerberga of Provence (d. c. 1112/15) - Etiennette of Marseille (?)