25 April, 2015

Lots of Visitors, and Happy Birthday to Edward II

Unfortunately, owing to various health issues suffered lately by me and my loved ones, I haven't been able to write a proper post this weekend.  Hope to have one up sometime in the next few days.  Just wanted to share the excellent news that the Edward II blog is now getting just under 40,000 visitors a month, which is absolutely thrilling!  I remember years ago being elated when I reached an average of 100 visitors a day, and now I'm at twelve or thirteen times as many.  THANK YOU, all of you, whether you're a regular reader or are here for the first time, for visiting and reading and for your support!

My book Edward II: The Unconventional King is still selling well, and will be available in paperback from January 2016.  Thank you if you've bought it, and I do hope you enjoyed it!  Even if you didn't, your feedback is still entirely welcome.  My second book, working title Isabella of France: The Rebel Queen, is well underway - I'm up to the battle of Boroughbridge and Thomas of Lancaster's execution now - and should also be out next year.  More info as and when.

And finally, today is 25 April and the feast day of St Mark the Evangelist, and the most important day in the year for me: Edward II's birthday!  731 years ago today, he was born to forty-two-year-old Eleanor of Castile in Caernarfon, North Wales.  Happy Birthday, my lord king!

17 April, 2015

Edward II and Minstrels (2)

I wrote a post a few years ago called Edward II and Minstrels, and am adding more here on the subject, as it's fascinating.  I highly recommend Constance Bullock-Davies' two books: Menestrellorum Multitudo: Minstrels at a Royal Feast (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1978) and A Register of Royal and Baronial Domestic Minstrels 1272-1327 (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1986).  There's also Richard Rastall's fantastic 'Secular Musicians in Late Medieval England' (Univ. of Manchester PhD thesis, 1968), which may still be available online somewhere (it certainly was a few years back).  All three are packed full of information and superb research, and are essential reading for anyone interested in the topic of music, performance and minstrels in the fourteenth century.

Oh, and see also my recent post, Edward II being vindictive to the minstrel Roi Bruant in and after 1322.

- One of the men who accompanied Edward II's twelve-year-old son Edward of Windsor to France on 12 September 1325, when he went to pay homage to his uncle Charles IV, was Jerome Vala, who played the citole (see illustration of one here).  Jerome was married to a woman called Annote, who's mentioned in Edward's last chamber account of 1325/26, given five shillings by the king for her expenses in travelling to see her husband before he sailed for France.  Jerome had returned to England by early January 1326, when Edward gave him half a mark for his expenses.  He had been Edward's minstrel since at least 1312; his name also appears on record as Jiron and the rather peculiar Yomi.

- Among the many minstrels who performed at the January 1297 wedding of Edward's fourteen-year-old sister Elizabeth and twelve-year-old Count John I of Holland were: two trumpeters; a vielle player called Thomelin de Tunly (see here for a vielle); Thomas the Fool; Jakettus de Scocia ('Jamie of Scotland'), a king of heralds; Guillot de Ros and Ricardin, two more vielle players; two men called King Page and Monhaut, kings of heralds; Martinet the taborer.  A tabor was a kind of drum.  In July 1306, two shillings was paid out of the household accounts of Edward of Caernarfon and Elizabeth's young half-brothers Thomas (just turned six) and Edmund (not quite five) for repairing Martinet's tabor, which the two little boys had broken.  :-)

- In May 1304, the aged Edward I paid three shillings to seven women in Scotland he met on the road, who "sang to him in the way in which they were wont to do in the time of Lord Alexander, late king of the Scots."  That means Alexander III (died 1286), Edward I's brother-in-law.

- In 1310/11, one of Edward II's harpers was called Willekyn Sey.

- Edward of Caernarfon, aged twenty-one, had five 'boy minstrels' in his household in 1305/06: Ricard le Rimour, Master Andrew, Janin the Scot, Francekin, and Roger de Forde.  On 21 December 1305, he gave them twelve pence each "for the making of their gowns against the feast of Christmas."

- The same year, a watchman of Windsor Castle named Richard the Watchman was paid twenty shillings to travel to Edward at Byfleet in Surrey to "make his minstrelsy before the same lord [Edward] and other nobles there in his entourage."  Hmmm, I wonder what kind of minstrelsy a watchman performed?  Clearly a man of many talents, Richard the Watchman roused Edward from his bed and helped him and his household to safety when a fire broke out at Windsor Castle in April 1306.

- Also that year, Edward of Caernarfon gave out the absurdly large sum of £1268, eighteen shillings and one pence "for gifts given by the lord prince [of Wales] to various minstrels," and for replacing horses which members of his household lost in his service in Scotland.  At a time when labourers earned one or one and a half pence a day and forty pounds a year qualified a man for knighthood.  Just wow.

- A harper named Robert de Clough received seven and a half pence a day for his wages in 1316/17, the same as the king's squires.  In 1310/11, Nicholas de Percy, a court trumpeter, received the same wages, and in 1313/14 Edward's singer William Milly (named 'Cantor Milly', meaning 'Singer Milly') was paid two shillings a day, the same wages as a knight earned,

- On 10 August 1307 at Dumfries in Scotland, just over a month after he had acceded to the throne, Edward II gave twenty shillings each to four minstrels who entertained him: William de Quenheth, Janin the Trumpeter, Januche the Nakerer and Janin the Organist.

- In June 1312, Edward gave a gift of twenty shillings to a married minstrel couple called Richard and Elena Pilke for entertaining his two young half-brothers Thomas and Edmund, and for "taking their leave to go to the lord king, who was in northern parts" (he and Isabella were then in Yorkshire).

- One of the many minstrels who performed at the great Feast of the Swan on 22 May 1306 was a harper called 'Adekin', real name Adam of Clitheroe.

- One of my favourite designations among the 22 May 1306 performers is "the minstrel with the bells," not otherwise identifiable.  Another was Reginald le Mentour, which means 'the Liar', perhaps in the sense of telling fabulous stories or tall tales.

- In Edward II's regnal year of 1316/17 and again in 1317/18, his king of heralds Robert Withstaff was ill; in 1317 he went to Edward at York "to get help" and received seventy shillings from him, and the following year received forty shillings and ten pence.  Evidently Robert recovered fully, as he entertained Edward and Isabella while they were in France in the summer of 1320 and was given the astonishingly large sum of twenty pounds.  Robert's mother was named Dulcia; she visited Edward II at Baldock in Hertfordshire in October 1317 and went away with a gift of ten shillings.

- A Jakemin de Mokenon received seven pounds, three shillings and one pence for playing before Edward and Isabella at St Richer, on their way to Paris, on 28 May 1313.

And finally, my favourite two anecdotes about Edward II and minstrels: on 7 July 1312, on his way from York to London after Piers Gaveston's death, Edward paid Janin the Conjuror a pound for performing tricks for him in his private chamber at Swineshead Priory, and a few weeks later gave three shillings to an Italian performer called John of Lombardy "for making his minstrelsy with snakes before the king" in Dover.

10 April, 2015

Marriage Negotiations between England and Aragon in Edward II's Reign

A post about the marriage negotiations between the kingdoms of England and Aragon in Edward II's reign, none of which resulted in any actual marriages.

Edward II was himself half-Castilian, and in the 1320s negotiated a future marriage between his elder daughter Eleanor of Woodstock (b. 1318) and his first cousin twice removed Alfonso XI (b. 1311, succeeded his father Fernando IV as a baby in 1312).  His elder son Edward of Windsor was also betrothed to Alfonso XI's sister Leonor.  These marriages, of course, did not go ahead; Edward of Windsor married Philippa of Hainault in January 1328 after his accession as Edward III, and Eleanor of Woodstock married the decades-older Count, later Duke, Reynald II of Guelders, in May 1332, the month before her fourteenth birthday.

Edward II also negotiated with another important Spanish king, Jaime or James II of Aragon, regarding possible future marriages between their families.  Jaime was born on 10 August 1267 (making him seventeen years Edward's senior) as the second son of Pedro III of Aragon and Constanza of Sicily.  His elder brother Alfonso III was betrothed for many years to Edward's eldest sister Eleanor (1269-1298) but died suddenly in June 1291 before the wedding could go ahead; Jaime succeeded him as king.  The same year, he married eight-year-old Isabel of Castile, eldest child of Sancho IV and Maria de Molina, but repudiated the marriage after Sancho's sudden death in 1295.  Alfonso III and Jaime's sister Elisabeth married Diniz, king of Portugal, and in 1625 was canonised as a saint of the Catholic Church.

Jaime II married secondly Blanche of Anjou, also sometimes called Blanche of Naples, one of the many children of Charles of Anjou, king of Naples, and Marie of Hungary; Blanche's brothers included Charles Martel, titular king of Hungary, Philip of Taranto, king of Albania, and Robert 'the Wise', king of Naples and titular king of Sicily and Jerusalem.  Jaime II and Blanche's eldest son Jaime was born in 1296 and became a monk in 1319, renouncing his right to the throne of Aragon and repudiating his new wife Leonor of Castile, who was later betrothed to Edward of Windsor and who ultimately married (as his second wife) the younger Jaime's younger brother Alfonso IV of Aragon, born in 1299 as the second son of Jaime II and Blanche of Anjou.

In the summer of 1320, Jaime II proposed his daughter Maria as a possible bride for Edward II's half-brother Thomas of Brotherton, earl of Norfolk.  Maria was probably about the same age as Thomas, who was born on 1 June 1300.  She was married firstly to Pedro of Castile, son of Sancho IV and Maria de Molina, younger brother of Fernando IV, first cousin once removed of Edward II, and brother of Isabel of Castile, who had been married as a child to Jaime II.  Pedro was killed at the battle of Vega de Granada in June 1319, along with his uncle Juan.  In August 1321, however, Jaime II told Edward II that Maria had decided to become a nun and that he did not think he would be able to change her mind.  (Which I find quite interesting, that he respected her wishes and did not try to force her to marry again.)  Thomas married instead, rather bizarrely, Alice Hales, daughter of the coroner of Norfolk.

In March 1321, Edward II wrote to Jaime: the latter had proposed another of his daughters, Violante, as a potential bride for Edward of Windsor.  Violante was born in October 1310 and was thus two years older than Edward of Windsor.  Again, nothing came of the negotiations, though Edward once again raised the possibility with Jaime in March and September 1324.  In February 1325, Jaime told him that the marriage alliance between his family and Edward’s was "not agreeable…in the manner and form under which it was proposed."  Edward explained that he was eager to make "an alliance of love" with Aragon, and sent two more envoys to negotiate any union "as shall seem suitable and opportune."  Jaime consented to a betrothal between Edward's younger daughter Joan of the Tower and his grandson Pedro, who was born in September 1319 and was less than two years Joan's senior (she was born in July 1321).  Pedro was the son of Jaime's second son and heir the future Alfonso IV and his first wife Teresa d'Entenca, and succeeded his father as Pedro IV, king of Aragon in 1336; he lived until 1387 and was known as El del Punyalet, 'He of the little Dagger'.  Because Edward II had heard that Jaime II "is old and decrepit and it is not certain that he is not dead" – in fact, Jaime lived until November 1327 – he corresponded instead with Jaime's son Alfonso, Pedro's father, regarding the possible marriage.  Pedro IV of Aragon ultimately married firstly Marie of Navarre, daughter of Isabella of France's niece Queen Joan II of Navarre (daughter of Louis X of France and his adulterous first wide Marguerite of Burgundy), though the mother of his two eldest sons and heirs was his second wife Eleanor or Leonor, daughter of Afonso IV of Portugal.

03 April, 2015

Review and Letter

Just a very quick post as it's almost Easter and I have visitors - in case you didn't see it, Professor Nicholas Vincent's review of my book Edward II: The Unconventional King appeared in BBC History Magazine a few weeks ago (it can be read here, on the second page).  Professor Vincent is very kind about my book, but claims that my account of Edward II's survival past 1327 is 'entirely speculative' and 'make-believe' (it really, really isn't).  Dr Ian Mortimer has written a letter also in BBC History Magazine, responding to the review.

27 March, 2015

Hugh, Lord Despenser (c. 1309-1349)

A post today about Hugh, Lord Despenser, the eldest son of Hugh Despenser the Younger and Eleanor de Clare, and grandson of Hugh Despenser the Elder, earl of Winchester.  As was the case with many noble families of the Middle Ages, the Despensers were none too creative when it came to naming their children; the chancery rolls of the 1320s, when all three generations of Hugh Despensers were active, contain a few confusing references to 'Hugh, son of Hugh le Despenser the son'.  Hrrrrrm.  Edward II's last chamber journal of 1325/26 refers to Hugh by the short form Huchon, and the Anonimalle chronicle calls him Hughelyn or 'little Hugh', both of which I think are absolutely delightful.  In this post, I'll call him Huchon to save any confusion with his father and grandfather, and because this seems to have been how he was known by his great-uncle Edward II.  I've also been known, along with Susan Higginbotham, to call him Hugh Despenser the Even Younger or HDEY for short.

Huchon's date of birth is unknown, but judging by the evidence of his mother's Inquisition Post Mortem took place sometime between 1308 and 1310.  He was the eldest great-grandchild of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile and the eldest great-nephew of Edward II, and was only two or three years younger than his great-aunt, Edward I's youngest child Eleanor, who was born in May 1306 (and who died in the late summer or early autumn of 1311).  Huchon's mother was Eleanor de Clare, Edward I's eldest granddaughter and second grandchild, born in October or November 1292 as the daughter of Gilbert 'the Red' de Clare, earl of Gloucester and Hertford (1243-1295) and the king's second daughter Joan of Acre (1272-1307).  Eleanor was between fifteen and seventeen when she gave birth to Huchon, depending on when exactly in 1308 or 1310 he was born, and Huchon's father Hugh Despenser the Younger was probably about twenty or twenty-one at the time; the couple had married in May 1306, when Eleanor was thirteen and a half, in the presence of her grandfather Edward I.  Huchon's lineage was prestigious: first great-grandchild of Edward I and grandchild of Gilbert 'the Red', the greatest English nobleman of the day, and in 1322 his other grandfather Hugh Despenser the Elder was made earl of Winchester.  On the Despenser side, Huchon was the great-grandson of both William Beauchamp, earl of Warwick (d. 1298) and of Aline Basset, countess of Norfolk (d. 1281).  His uncle Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester, was killed at Bannockburn in June 1314, leaving Huchon's mother Eleanor and aunts Margaret and Elizabeth as heirs to the great de Clare inheritance.  As the eldest child, Huchon was the heir of both his parents, and could look forward to receiving his mother's third of the de Clare lands and his paternal grandfather's Despenser lands.

Huchon was born a year or two into the reign of his great-uncle Edward II (Edward I didn't live quite long enough to see the birth of his first great-grandchild), and thus grew up in an England racked by civil war and the general turmoil of Edward's disastrous reign.  He was about five or six when the king lost the battle of Bannockburn and Huchon's uncle, the greatest nobleman in the realm after the earl of Lancaster, was killed; possibly this was one of Huchon's earliest and most abiding memories.  Throughout his childhood and adolescence, Huchon's mother regularly gave birth to his siblings: he had younger brothers Edward, Gilbert and John plus a baby boy who died in 1321, and younger sisters Isabella, Joan, Eleanor, Margaret and Elizabeth.  His first cousins included William Donn de Burgh, earl of Ulster, and Margaret Audley, countess of Stafford.  When he was about ten or so, in the late 1310s, his father Hugh became the 'favourite' and perhaps the lover of Huchon's great-uncle the king; the annals of Newenham Abbey in the 1320s refer to the two men as 'the king and his husband', rex et maritus eius.  I would give a great deal to know what that felt like for Huchon.  Bizarrely, Huchon's mother Eleanor de Clare was said by a Flemish chronicle also in the 1320s to have had an incestuous affair with her uncle Edward II and to have been imprisoned after her uncle and her husband's downfall in 1326 in case she might be pregnant by the king, and certainly my own research indicates that the two were remarkably close at the end of Edward's reign.  Whether or to what extent any of this is true is impossible to know for certain, but it may be that both of Huchon Despenser's parents were Edward II's lovers.  Can't have been boring to be a Despenser child, that's all I can say.

One of the earliest, or perhaps the earliest, refs to Huchon I know of comes on 21 July 1322, when he was at the beginning of his teens, and sent by his great-uncle the king to "diverse parts of the realm" (no fewer than twenty-three counties are named, as far apart as Dorset and Yorkshire) with huntsmen and dogs in order to "take fat venison of this season" in the royal forests and parks.  [Patent Rolls 1321-4, p. 184; Close Rolls 1318-23, p. 577.]  The nine men accompanying him are named on the Close Roll, and they had twelve greyhounds, thirty-four buck-hounds and eight harriers.  This sounds like it must have been a most enjoyable escapade for the boy, travelling all over the country to hunt.  Huchon appears on record again in May 1323, when Edward II signed a thirteen-year peace treaty with Robert Bruce, king of Scotland.  Bruce's associate Thomas Randolph, earl of Moray, travelled to England to negotiate the terms, and Edward sent several noblemen to Scotland as hostages, as it were, to assure Bruce of Moray's safe return.  They included Huchon, John, Lord Hastings (nephew and one of the co-heirs of Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke) and his three-year-old son Laurence, and the northern lords Henry Percy and Thomas Wake.  [Patent Rolls 1321-4, pp. 277-8; Calendar of Documents Relating to Scotland 1307-57, p. 150.]  All went well; Edward II and his advisers and Moray negotiated the treaty, Bruce ratified it a week later and sent the hostages back to England shortly afterwards, having promised to treat them honourably during their sojourn in his kingdom and to return them home in peace should the earl of Moray die a natural death while in England.  Huchon is also mentioned several times in his great-uncle the king's last chamber account of 1325/26: in December 1325 Edward II paid ten shillings for some material, including wool, linen and 'camoka' (a kind of silk, I think), to make clothes for him, and also bought him an aketon, which was a padded defensive jacket.  Around the same time, the king's armourer was paid for repairing the arms of Huchon le Despens' fuitz le fuitz, 'Huchon Despenser son of the son' (haha).

Huchon's world fell apart in 1326/27, when Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer invaded the realm.  His great-uncle the king was deposed and imprisoned.  His grandfather the earl of Winchester was executed, and mere weeks later his father Hugh Despenser the Younger also, and horribly.  His mother Eleanor de Clare was imprisoned.  Three of his five younger sisters were forcibly veiled as nuns, despite being mere children at the time (the two who escaped were fourteen-year-old Isabella, already married to the earl of Arundel's son, and Elizabeth, only a baby or still in utero).  Huchon himself remained at his father's great South Wales castle of Caerphilly (built in the 1270s by Huchon's maternal grandfather Gilbert 'the Red'), which his father and great-uncle had left in early November 1326, leaving numerous possessions and a great deal of money behind under Huchon's care.  They were captured on 16 November, and Hugh was executed eight days later.  At some point probably in November, Isabella and Roger Mortimer ordered Caerphilly to be besieged, offering free pardons on several occasions to the garrison inside and promising that their lives would be spared and their goods not forfeited if they surrendered, but pointedly excluding Huchon by name: in short, they wanted to have him executed.  It is hard to discern any real reason for this beyond vindictiveness and a desire to execute the third man in England named Hugh Despenser.  Huchon was only seventeen or eighteen at the end of 1326 and had committed no crime except to be the eldest son and heir of the loathed Hugh the Younger.  Fortunately for the young man, the Caerphilly garrison under the command of Sir John Felton refused to give him up to execution, and held out under siege until 20 March 1327, when Isabella and Roger gave in and promised to spare Huchon's life.  The garrison thus finally surrendered, and Huchon received a "[p]ardon to Hugh son of Hugh le Despenser the younger of the forfeiture of his life, without restitution of his lands."  [Patent Rolls 1327-30, p. 14.]  Huchon is briefly mentioned in the Anonimalle chronicle at Christmas 1326: En cel men temps Hughelyn le Despenser ficz au dist sire Hugh se tint el chastel de Kerfily, 'At this same time Hughelyn le Despenser son of the said Sir Hugh remained at the castle of Caerphilly'.

Roger Mortimer and Isabella kept their word and spared Huchon's life, but he was imprisoned for the rest of their regime.  (On what charge, I have no idea.)  At first Huchon was in the custody of Roger Mortimer himself - perhaps at Wigmore or at Ludlow, I don't know - and on 15 December 1328 was transferred to prison at Bristol Castle, where his jailer was Sir Thomas Gurney, who was convicted by parliament two years later of the murder of Edward II at Berkeley Castle in September 1327. [Close Rolls 1327-30, p. 352.]  This surely can't have been a pleasant experience for Huchon.  His great-uncle Edmund of Woodstock, earl of Kent - youngest son of Edward I and only about seven or eight years older than Huchon himself - was arrested in March 1330 and convicted of treason after attempting to free the supposedly dead Edward II from captivity.  Kent's confession as recorded in the chronicle of the royal clerk Adam Murimuth names Huchon as one of his adherents: Kent stated that one Sir (or Brother) William Cliff "came unto him from Hugues le Despenser, who told him that he would be well pleased to be with him; for he said that he [Kent] would be sure of the deliverance [of Edward II] in short time."  [Adae Murimuth Continuatio Chronicarum, ed. E. M. Thompson, pp. 255-7.]  William Cliff, from my own research, appears to have been the man of this name who was a clerk of both Edward II and the Despensers and whom Huchon's father Hugh the Younger appointed as his attorney in July 1322.  Whether Huchon truly believed that his great-uncle Edward II was still alive in 1330 is impossible to know, but certainly he must have been more than willing to do anything which might bring down the regime of Isabella and Roger Mortimer.

Huchon was finally released from prison in or a little before September 1331, a few months after Edward III took over the governance of his own realm, and in April 1332 was granted permission to go on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.  [Patent Rolls 1330-4, pp. 246, 273, 277.]  He was now about twenty-four or so.  Life must have been strange for him in many ways: he was a close kinsman of Edward III (his mother Eleanor de Clare was the king's much older first cousin), of high birth and related to most of the nobility of England, but was also the son and grandson of two notorious and despised traitors, whose name he bore.  Edward III, not a vindictive man or one to visit the sins of the father on the son, granted him various manors throughout the 1330s in fulfillment of 200 marks of land he had promised him (see e.g. Patent Rolls 1330-4, pp. 267, 377, 462). The Despenser lands of Huchon's grandfather were forfeit to the Crown as Hugh Despenser the Elder had been executed for treason, and remained so until restored by Richard II to Hugh the Younger's great-grandson Thomas in 1397, but Huchon was heir to his mother Eleanor de Clare and her vast inheritance.  When Eleanor died on 30 June 1337, aged forty-four, her lands passed by right to Huchon, who was then said to be twenty-six, twenty-eight or twenty-nine.  [Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1336-46, pp. 78-80.]  The most important part of the inheritance was the great lordship of Glamorgan in South Wales.  Huchon was a knight and soldier: he fought for Edward III at Halidon Hill in 1333 and at the battle of Morlaix in 1342, where his younger brother Edward - second of the four surviving sons of Hugh the Younger and Eleanor de Clare - was killed.

In 1341, Huchon received permission from Pope Benedict XII to marry Elizabeth, daughter of William Montacute, earl of Salisbury and close friend of Edward III [Calendar of Papal Letters 1305-41, p. 553].  Permission was needed as Elizabeth's first husband Giles Badlesmere, who died in 1338, was related to Huchon in the third degree of affinity; Giles' mother Margaret de Clare was the first cousin of Huchon's mother Eleanor de Clare.  Elizabeth's parents William Montacute and Katherine Grandisson married in about 1327, and their eldest son William was born in 1328, so Elizabeth can hardly have been more than nine when her first husband died and twelve when she married Huchon, who was about twenty years her senior.  One of Elizabeth's sisters married Huchon's nephew Edmund Fitzalan, son of his sister Isabella and Richard Fitzalan, earl of Arundel, and another married Roger Mortimer's grandson Roger Mortimer, second earl of March, and was the mother of Edmund, third earl.  Sadly, the marriage of Huchon and Elizabeth remained childless.

Hugh 'Huchon', Lord Despenser, lord of Glamorgan, died on 8 February 1349 at the age of about forty, possibly of the Black Death which was then raging through England, though this is uncertain and he may have died of natural causes.  [His Inquisition Post Mortem is in Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1347-52, pp. 328-342.]  As he had no children, his heir when he died was his nephew Edward (1336-1375), eldest of the four sons of his second brother Edward (killed at the battle of Morlaix in 1342): "Edward son of Edward le Despenser brother of the said Hugh, aged twelve years and more, is his heir."  The younger Edward Despenser was also the heir of Huchon's long-lived aunt Aline, Lady Burnell, when she died in 1363.  Huchon's widow Elizabeth Montacute later married her third husband Sir Guy Bryan, and had children with him, so perhaps Huchon was infertile.

Below: the tomb of Huchon and Elizabeth Montacute can be seen to this day in Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire,which happily survived the Dissolution.  Huchon's parents, his uncle the earl of Gloucester (d. 1314), grandfather Gilbert 'the Red', nephew Edward (d. 1375) and great-nephew Thomas, earl of Gloucester (d. 1400) are also buried in the abbey, along with numerous other members of the de Clare and Despenser families.

20 March, 2015

Edward II Makes Out With His Boyfriend And Isabella Makes Out With Everyone

Can't believe I'm having to say this again, but when you see stuff like this online...I mean really!

(Click to enlarge. I had to laugh at the missing apostrophe in the last sentence and how it changes the meaning.)
It was written as part of a book review (not of my book, as it happens).  I'd be extremely keen to know the identity of these professors who allegedly are telling their students that Edward II and Isabella never had intercourse.  I very much doubt that part is true; it'd be absurdly unprofessional and foolish, unless the professors are claiming to have sent a webcam back 700 years into Edward and Isabella's bedchamber.  (Though I do remember seeing a couple of people on soc.genealogy.medieval a while ago claiming that their own professors had told them much the same thing.  If it's true, then Double-Yoo Tee Eff is going on at some universities?)  I love the anachronistic bit 'Edward was making out with his boyfriend the entire time'.  Gosh, I wonder if any of the numerous fourteenth-century sources which say 'our lord king makes out with his boyfriend all the time' - because obviously they totally and completely do say that - got pictures of it as well?  Because I would love to see them.  Maybe there are screengrabs from Edward's Bedcam.  Also love the bit about 'each of their fathers'.  Not just one alternative father, folks, several of them!  Isabella would just be delighted to read that, I'm sure.  And ell-oh-ell at the bit about Piers being around for Edward and Isabella's entire marriage. *facepalm*

It really shouldn't need pointing out that Isabella had only recently turned twelve when she married Edward II on 25 January 1308, so yeah, obviously she didn't become pregnant for several years.  I would have thought it was something to applaud that a girl of twelve, thirteen, fourteen wasn't forced to go through the trauma of pregnancy and childbirth before her body was properly developed, but that's never stopped Edward's detractors from moaning that he 'neglected' Isabella in the early years of their marriage.  From the records, you can actually see Edward II becoming more interested in and affectionate towards his young queen as she got older and more mature, and was able to become his wife in more than name only.  Again, you'd think that Edward not being interested in a pre-pubescent or barely pubescent girl, but becoming a heck of a lot keener as she matured, would be something positive, but apparently not.

That's a weird comment too about Edward III being conceived after Edward and Isabella were 'living apart'.  The timeline here is completely up the spout.  Edward II and Isabella were certainly together at the right times to conceive all their children, and their relationship didn't start going wrong until 1322 at the earliest, after all their children were born.  Even then, I'm not sure you could say they were 'living apart'.  It's as though people in the fourteenth century were so stupid and ignorant they wouldn't have noticed and commented if the queen had become pregnant when she and the king were apart for months on end.

I would just like to clarify that the notion of Isabella of France's children not being the children of Edward II is an entirely modern invention.  It first appeared in 1985, in one of Paul Doherty's novels, in which he changed Edward III's date of birth by eight months from November 1312 to March 1312 in order to accommodate the fiction that the young king's real father was Roger Mortimer (which is impossible anyway as Roger was also hundreds of miles away from Isabella nine months before March 1312).  So, this idea has only been around for the last thirty years, and was popularised by Braveheart in 1995 and has been mentioned in another couple of novels of the early twenty-first century, and a few online articles, blog posts and book reviews.  There is absolutely NO evidence at all that it ever occurred to anyone in the fourteenth century, or for an extremely long time afterwards until the late twentieth century, that anyone but Edward II fathered Isabella's children.  The notion that he didn't is based entirely on modern misconceptions about sexuality - firstly that if people are not completely heterosexual, they must be completely homosexual, as though all human sexuality is a simple binary in which bisexual people are erased altogether.  And secondly, that gay men are incapable of fathering children, as though being gay makes you sterile.  It boggles my mind that someone cannot recognise that until very recently, gay people frequently had to marry a member of the opposite sex and procreate whether they wanted to or not.  Oscar Wilde fathered children, and is anyone going to claim that he wasn't gay?  I personally know several gay men who have children.  Madness.  None of Edward and Isabella's contemporaries at all doubted that he was the father of her children.  There is not even a hint of a rumour or gossip anywhere.  Just think, if there had been, how gleefully Philip VI and the French would have jumped all over it after Edward III claimed their throne.  What better way to discredit him than by having it proclaimed that he wasn't the son of a king after all, but merely of one of the queen's lovers?  But of course they didn't do this, because the idea obviously never entered their heads that Edward III wasn't the son of Edward II.  Neither did it enter the heads of the many magnates and bishops who forced Edward II to abdicate his throne to his son in 1327.  Or anyone else at all, until a fiction writer of the late twentieth century decided it would give his book more drama and excitement.

Unfortunately, it seems that the perfectly simple and obvious fact that Edward II was the father of Edward III is one which it suits a few people in the twenty-first century not to believe.  And the fact that I point this out here as often as I think it needs to be said apparently means that my book about Edward II is 'biased'.  Just LOL.

13 March, 2015

Three Queen Maries

A post about three European queens of Edward II's era, all called Marie/a, two of whom died in 1321 and the other in 1323.  They were: Marie of Brabant, queen of France; Maria de Molina, queen of Castile and Leon; Marie of Hungary, queen of Naples and Albania.

Marie of Brabant, queen of France (1254-1321)

Marie was the second queen of Philip III of France, the son of Saint Louis IX and Marguerite of Provence and the first cousin of Edward I of England.  Philip succeeded his father as king in August 1270 when he was twenty-five, and his first wife Isabel of Aragon, mother of Philip IV and Charles of Valois (and grandmother of Edward II's queen Isabella) died in January 1271 after she was thrown from her horse.  Philip and Marie of Brabant married in August 1274, and were the parents of Louis, count of Evreux (1276-1319), Marguerite, queen of England (1278/79-1318) and Blanche, duchess of Austria (early 1280s?-1305).

Marie was the daughter of a duke of Brabant and granddaughter of a duke of Burgundy, and her brother Duke John I of Brabant was the father-in-law of Edward II's sister Margaret (so Edward's brother-in-law Duke John II was Marie's nephew).  Her father was Duke Henry III of Brabant, who died in 1261 when she was a child, and her mother Adelaide was a daughter of Duke Hugh IV of Burgundy.  Adelaide's younger brother Duke Robert II of Burgundy, Marie of Brabant's uncle, married Saint Louis IX's youngest daughter Agnes of France and was the father of Marguerite of Burgundy, who married Louis X of France and Navarre and was imprisoned for adultery in 1314, and Joan of Burgundy, who married Philip VI of France (reigned 1328 to 1350).  This means that Marie of Brabant was the first cousin of the much younger Marguerite of Burgundy (born in 1290), who married Marie's step-grandson Louis X of France.  Ah, medieval family trees never fail to baffle and confuse.  Marie was also a first cousin of Blanche of Artois, queen of Navarre, mother-in-law of Philip IV and grandmother of Edward II's queen Isabella.  Marie of Brabant's paternal grandmother Maria von Hohenstaufen, duchess of Brabant and wife of Duke Henry III, after whom she was presumably named, was one of the daughters of Philip of Swabia, king of Germany, youngest son of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa.  Maria von Hohenstaufen's sister Elisabeth or Beatriz was the first wife of Edward II's grandfather Fernando III of Castile and Leon, and the mother of Fernando's eldest ten children.

Marie of Brabant, queen of France, was widowed on 5 October 1285 when Philip III died at the age of only forty, and her seventeen-year-old stepson Philip IV succeeded to the throne.  She outlived Philip IV, all three of her children, who died in 1305, 1318 and 1319, and her step-grandson Louis X.  She died on 12 January 1321 in her mid-sixties, in the reign of her second step-grandson Philip V, and was buried in the convent of the Cordeliers in Paris; she had outlived her husband by three and a half decades.  Her granddaughter Joan of Evreux became queen-consort of France as the third wife of Charles IV in 1324, another granddaughter Marie, countess of Bar, was Edward II's niece by marriage, and her grandson Philip of Evreux was king-consort of Navarre as the husband of Joan II, daughter of Louis X of France and Navarre and Marguerite of Burgundy.  Marie was also the grandmother of Edward II's half-brothers Thomas of Brotherton, earl of Norfolk and Edmund of Woodstock, earl of Kent, and the great-great-grandmother of Richard II of England.

Maria de Molina, queen of Castile and Leon (c. 1260/65-1321)

Maria was Edward II's first cousin once removed: she was the daughter of Alfonso, lord of Molina, younger brother of Edward's maternal grandfather Fernando III of Castile and Leon.  Alfonso of Molina, second of the two sons of Alfonso IX, king of Leon and Berenguela, queen of Castile, was born in the early 1200s and thus was in his late fifties or sixties when Maria was born, and died in 1272 when she was a child.  She was the daughter of his third wife Mayor Alfonso de Menezes.  In 1282, Maria de Molina married her first cousin once removed Sancho IV, second son of Alfonso X of Castile and grandson of her uncle Fernando III (and a first cousin of Edward II).  In 1284, Sancho succeeded to the throne of Castile and Leon, setting aside his two young nephews, the sons of his dead older brother Fernando de la Cerda, and Maria thus became queen-consort of Castile and Leon.  Maria and Sancho had two daughters: Isabel, their eldest child, born in 1283, briefly queen of Aragon then duchess of Brittany, proposed as a bride for the future Edward II in 1303, and their youngest child Beatriz, queen of Portugal, born in 1293 and the wife of Afonso IV and mother of Pedro I.  In between came five sons, two of whom died young.  Their eldest son was Fernando IV, born in 1285, who succeeded his father as king, the second surviving son was Pedro, killed at the battle of Vega de Granada in 1319, and the third was Felipe, who died in 1327.

Maria was widowed in April 1295 when Sancho IV died suddenly in his late thirties, leaving their nine-year-old son Fernando to succeed him, and chaos ensued in Castile as various members of the royal family, including Sancho IV's brother Juan, claimed the throne and Jaime II of Aragon invaded the kingdom (and repudiated his child-wife Isabel, Maria de Molina's daughter).  Maria, a canny politician, saved her son's throne and acted as his co-regent (with her late husband's uncle Enrique, son of Fernando III) until he came of age, and did the same thing again in 1312 when Fernando IV died at the age of only twenty-seven, leaving his one-year-old son Alfonso XI to succeed him.  Maria served as regent for her grandson; on her death on 1 July 1321, power was shared out among several regents.

Marie of Hungary, queen of Naples and Albania (1257/58-1323)

Marie was the daughter of Stephen or Istvan V, king of Hungary and Croatia, and Elizabeth the Cuman, the daughter of either Seyhan, a chief of the Cuman tribe who had fled to Hungary from the Mongol armies advancing across the Eurasian steppes, or Köten, another chief.  Elizabeth's family practised shamanism, and she had to convert to Christianity on marrying Stephen, a match arranged when they were children.  Stephen and Elizabeth's other children, Marie of Hungary's siblings, included King Ladislaus IV of Hungary, Elizabeth and Katherine, both queens of Serbia, and Anna, who married the Byzantine Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologus (to whom Edward II wrote in 1313, and whose second wife was Edward's first cousin once removed Yolande of Montferrat).

On 6 August 1270, Marie of Hungary married Charles 'the Lame' of Naples, also sometimes called Charles of Salerno (born c. 1248/54), who was a first cousin of both Edward I of England and Philip III of France, their mothers Marguerite, Eleanor and Beatrice of Provence all being sisters.  Charles of Naples was the eldest surviving son and heir of Charles of Anjou, youngest brother of Saint Louis IX, who became king of Naples and Sicily in 1266.  Sicily was lost to the family after the Sicilian Vespers of 1282, but Charles II still became king of Naples, king of Albania, count of Provence, Forcalquier and Anjou, and prince of Salerno and Achaea.  Marie of Hungary and Charles of Naples had at least fourteen children, including Charles Martel, titular king of Hungary; Robert 'the Wise', king of Naples, titular king of Sicily and Jerusalem; Philip, king of Albania, prince of Taranto and Achaea, despot of Epirus, and titular emperor of Constantinople by his second marriage to Isabella of France's first cousin Catherine of Valois;  Louis, bishop of Toulouse, canonised as a saint by John XXII in 1317; Blanche, second queen of Jaime II of Aragon after he had his marriage to Maria de Molina's daughter Isabel of Castile annulled; Eleanor, queen of Frederick III of Sicily; Marie, queen of Sancho I of Majorca; John of Gravina, duke of Durrazzo; Peter Tempesta, meaning 'storm'; and Marguerite, countess of Anjou, first wife of Isabella of France's uncle Charles, count of Valois and ancestor of the Valois dynasty of French kings.

Marie of Hungary, queen of Naples and Albania, was widowed in 1309 and lived until 25 March 1323 when she was well into her sixties, long enough to see her numerous - fifty or so - grandchildren grow up and produce some of her great-grandchildren.  Her granddaughter Clemence of Hungary (daughter of Charles Martel) married Edward II's brother-in-law Louis X of France in 1315 and gave birth in 1316 to a son who became king of France as soon as he drew breath but who died five days later.  Maria's great-granddaughter Joanna (granddaughter and heir of Robert 'the Wise') became queen of Naples and Sicily in her own right and was murdered in 1382.  In 1328 Marie's grandson Philip of Valois (son of Marguerite, countess of Anjou) became King Philip VI of France, and in the same year her great-granddaughter Philippa of Hainault (daughter of Philip VI's sister Joan of Valois) married Edward III of England.  The blood of Elizabeth the Cuman and her shamanistic ancestors entered the English royal family: Edward III's children were Elizabeth's great-great-great-grandchildren.

06 March, 2015

Edward II is Vindictive to the Minstrel John le Boteler, aka 'Roi Bruaunt'

Edited to add, 7 March: just to say that the winner of Darren Baker's great new book With All For All is Sarah Butterfield.  Thanks to everyone who took part, and sorry you couldn't all win!

A post today which illustrates how vindictive Edward II could be.  A man called John le Boteler or le Botiller was one of the many minstrels who performed at the great Feast of the Swan after the mass knighting of Edward of Caernarfon, Hugh Despenser the Younger, Piers Gaveston, Roger Mortimer, John Maltravers and the more than 250 others at Westminster at Pentecost, Sunday 22 May 1306.  Boteler's professional name was Roi Bruaunt, which also appears as Roi Brunaund or Rey Bruant, and appears to mean 'Burning King' or 'Fiery King', or perhaps 'Booming King'.  (Possibly indicating that he performed some kind of act with fire, as two of Edward II's squires did for him at his Westminster cottage of Burgundy in February 1325 with disastrous results - they both burned their arms and one of them his thighs as well - or that he had a deep booming voice.)  Occasionally John's real name and his professional name were mixed up, and he appears on record as 'John Bruaunt'.  He was paid forty shillings for his performance entertaining the new knights on 22 May 1306, and appears on the payroll simply as 'Bruant', indicating that he was already well known then, though in a Latin record of 6 April 1306 was called by his real name, Johannes Butiler (i.e. Butler, as the name became in later centuries).  Little else is known of John and he is not found on record between 1306 and 1322, but he owned property in the Yorkshire town of Pontefract, the favourite residence of Edward II's first cousin and most hated enemy Thomas, earl of Lancaster, and may have been Lancaster's chief of heralds.

John le Botiller/Roi Bruaunt fought against the royal army and on the side of the earl of Lancaster at the battle of Boroughbridge on 16 March 1322, and was captured (the earl of Lancaster himself was beheaded at Pontefract six days later).  When Edward II sent members of his household to round up the fleeing Contrariants and to seize their possessions, seven horses were found at 'Merston' - presumably Long Marston a few miles west of York and about seventeen miles from Boroughbridge - belonging to Rey Bruant and four other named men plus "others unknown," and "diverse armour" including aketons, bacinets, two pairs of plate gloves, four swords and, rather randomly, a pair of shoes.  On 28 October 1322, an entry on the Patent Roll records Edward II giving "the houses late of John le Botiller called 'Roi Bruaunt', late a rebel, in the town of Pontefract" to another minstrel.  He was William Morley, known professionally as Roi du North, 'King of the North', a harper who first appears on record in about 1300 and is mentioned frequently in Edward II's accounts, often called Guillot le Harpour, Master Gillot or Gillot de Morle.  He also entertained the new knights in May 1326.  In 1304, a man named John de Hoy broke into William/Gillot's house in London, stole his goods and abducted his wife Agnes; I hope she was able to return safely.  On 22 May 1326, exactly twenty years to the day after the mass knighting and the Feast of the Swan, William Morley was called Edward II's king of heralds, roi des heraux, in Edward's chamber account.

Meanwhile, in March 1322 the unfortunate John le Boteler was taken from York to imprisonment at Berkhamsted Castle in Hertfordshire.  The king, perhaps because he considered that Boteler had betrayed him, pursued him with remarkable viciousness.  As late as November 1325, Edward ordered Boteler to be moved from prison at Berkhamsted to Berkeley Castle, telling the sheriff of Berkshire to "lay aside all other matters" and conduct Boteler to Berkeley "at the king’s own cost."  More than three and a half years after the battle of Boroughbridge, Edward thought it important enough for a sheriff to 'lay aside all other matters' to take 'Roi Bruaunt' from captivity at one castle to another.  Edward II, kind and generous to people he liked, could be nastily spiteful to anyone he thought had crossed him, though he did pardon several other minstrels for adhering to Thomas of Lancaster in 1322, such as Robert le Trompor, Hugo le Harpour and John de Elend, another harper.  This is sadly the last known reference to John le Botiler/Roi Bruaunt and I don't know if he survived his imprisonment, though it would be amusing if he was still alive in 1327 and knew that Edward II himself was now in captivity at Berkeley Castle.  Ah, irony.


- Constance Bullock-Davies, Menestrellorum Multitudo: Minstrels at a Royal Feast (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1978), pp. 74-77
- Constance Bullock-Davies, A Register of Royal and Baronial Domestic Minstrels 1272-1327 (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1986), pp. 51, 62, 70, 72, 125-128, 169, 220

Calendar of Patent Rolls 1321-1324, p. 210
Calendar of Close Rolls 1323-1327, p. 424
Foedera 1307-1327, p. 498
Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous 1308-1348, p. 134
SAL MS 122, p. 64.

03 March, 2015

Great News

Firstly, a few days ago this blog recorded its millionth visitor!  Yes, the blog about that most disastrous of kings, Edward II, has had a million visitors.  A million.  As in, the entire population of Birmingham, and twice the number of residents of Manchester.  I'm thrilled and delighted.  Thank you, all of you, for your support and for reading!

Secondly, my book Edward II: The Unconventional King has now had eighteen reviews on Amazon UK, of which thirteen are five stars and four are four stars.  On Amazon US and Amazon India, it currently has an average five-star rating, and on Goodreads, an average of 4.67 out of five stars.

Thirdly, my next project is well underway, and I'm hard at work on it.  It's a biography of Edward II's queen and is provisionally titled Isabella of France: The Rebel Queen, and should be published in about April or May next year.  It focuses on the years 1308 to 1330, the most dramatic of Isabella's life; as in my book about her husband, I'm not really interested in exploring her childhood, or the obscure last twenty-eight years of her life, but want to write all about the real meat of the story, her marriage to Edward, how she moved into a position of opposition to him, and what happened afterwards.  There are lots of inventions told about Isabella - Edward giving her jewels to Piers Gaveston in 1308 (invented by Agnes Strickland in the nineteenth century), abandoning her while pregnant at Tynemouth in 1312 (a chronicler writing many years later getting confused with Isabella being at Tynemouth in 1322), punitively removing her children from her in 1324 (invented in a doctoral thesis in the late 1970s), and so on - and I want to tell her real story.  More info as and when!

27 February, 2015

Guest Post by Author Darren Baker

Today I'm delighted to welcome Darren Baker, author of With All for All, a new book about Simon de Montfort, to the blog.  He's written a great post about Simon, Thomas of Lancaster and Edward II for us.  Scroll down to the end of the post for a chance to win a free copy of his book!

Some songs of the noble Simon, please

For Edward II, the summer of 1323 should have been like a victory tour. The year before he had put down a rebellion led by his cousin and leading magnate Thomas of Lancaster and made him pay for it with his head. Not stopping there, he had Thomas’ pet peeve, the Ordinances, repealed at the next Parliament. Finally, he could breathe again like a real king, and so he set off on a progress north, part of which included taking seisin of the manors left behind by his late cousin. At the end of August he came to Whorlton castle in Yorkshire, and after a day out on the hunt, the king was entertained by two local women, one named Alice and the other Alianore the Redhead, who were paid the respectable sum of three shillings for their work.

The future Edward II and his father
This entertainment has long confused the medieval world, and not because of the tiresome obsession over whether Edward preferred men or women. It was recorded that these women only came to sing to him, as in really sing, but it’s who the redhead and her friend sang about that seems oddly out of place:Simon de Montfort, the champion of the Provisions of Oxford, the reforms of the 1260s meant to rein in the king, much the way Lancaster had championed the Ordinances. It’s improbable that the king would want to hear cadences extolling a legendary rebellious subject so soon after putting down another one. But then Edward II was never an easy read.

Execution of Thomas, earl of Lancaster

How much he knew about the life and career of Simon de Montfort is a matter of conjecture. He was born twenty-one years to the date after Montfort returned to England in a campaign that forced his grandfather Henry III to submit to the Provisions of Oxford, the same campaign that saw his grandmother Eleanor of Provence humiliated by a horde on London Bridge and his father carry out what was the first big-time heist in English history. Even worse was in store after Montfort defeated the royal party at Lewes and made the family his captives as he went about ruling the country. Not the kind of recollections a proud man like Edward I was likely to dwell on in his old age, and he was already in his mid-forties when his son was born. Perhaps the most the younger Edward ever heard his father recall was his victory at Evesham and the disgraceful mutilation of Montfort’s body, an admonishment to the future king to be grim to anyone who challenged your authority.

Whether or not the younger Edward had his father’s innate cruelty in him, he loathed Lancaster like no other, ever since he had had the head of his dear friend Piers Gaveston chopped off in a kangaroo court action. The charges of treason and rebellion alone against his cousin entitled Edward to have him hanged, drawn and quartered, the same nasty fate his father meted out to William Wallace among others, and the one he served up to Lancaster’s men. [Note by Kathryn: actually the only Contrariant of 1321/22 given the full traitor's death was Bartholomew, Lord Badlesmere.] But by ordering only the loss of his head, he could look both magnanimous and pay him back for Piers by reenacting the execution of his friend, namely by having Thomas ridden out to the chopping block as what had happened to Piers. He may have even rubbed it in by making sure this richest noble in the country, the holder of five earldoms, was borne there on a ‘worthless mule’.

Family tree with Henry III at the top, his children, and Edward II at the bottom.

If upon his arrival north Edward heard there were songs to be heard of Simon, he may have wanted to cut his cousin down to size even more by having them publicly sung before the court. He knew comparisons were already being made between Lancaster and Montfort, two martyrs who gave their lives in the cause of justice no matter what the king might think. Of course, that was laughable. Simon won his battle and had enjoyed prestige and respect at home and abroad that Thomas could only have dreamt of. In the end it was treachery that did him in. Lancaster, on the other hand, was a study in ineptness in whatever he took in hand. While he could be praised for being the only baron with the backbone to make the hard decision, namely to rid the realm of Piers once and for all, all his actions from that point on are distinctly muddled and lacking in resolve. He was more like Gilbert de Clare, the betrayer of Montfort, than Montfort himself. 

Where the comparison was right on, and the most worrying for Edward, was the cult of personality already being cultivated for Thomas. It’s unclear how much he really knew about Simon’s cult,which drew pilgrims from all ranks of society to Evesham. It had been such a political nuisance for Edward’s grandfather and father that they banned even mere talk about it. In the end they had to make concessions and reabsorb the surviving Montfortians before it finally went away. One of these was Thomas de Cantilupe, Montfort’s former chancellor. He was made bishop of Hereford right around the time Montfort’s cult began to fade away and it was he who reportedly baptized Thomas of Lancaster after his birth in 1278. Cantilupe was canonized in 1320, two years before Lancaster’s execution, and the liturgies composed for the sainted Thomas were now being imparted to his supposed namesake. 

Whorlton Castle

Simon’s cult had been confined exclusively around Evesham. The cult for Thomas sprang up similarly around the place where his head rolled and in no time the whole area was awash with talk about miracles being performed at his makeshift shrine. If anything, the political element was even stronger in Lancaster’s case, for that very summer a plaque commemorating him was raised at St. Paul’s in London attesting to the cures to be had there. Edward had the plaque with its ‘diabolic deception’ removed, but he clearly had a big problem on his hands with his dead cousin. Passing close to the shrine on his way to Whorlton, he might have heard nothing but Thomas this and Thomas that from the local population. Perhaps he ordered his attendants to scour the countryside for minstrels who knew songs of Simon de Montfort in a bid to change the rebel-cum-saint of the moment. If the people were looking for one to glorify, let it be one from the past, one who was not connected to his rule, and who, at least, deserved it more.

Edward’s days, however, were already numbered, as he could never get over having favourites around him who alienated everybody, but where Piers was one, he had two in the Despensers, father and son, son and grandson respectively of the Hugh Despenser who fell with Simon. Lancaster’s cult grew ever stronger as the opposition to his reign intensified to the point where the judgement against Thomas was overturned by Parliament. But by then Edward had been deposed, and his son was in the clutches of his mother and her lover Roger Mortimer,the namesake grandson of the fiend who oversaw the dismemberment of Simon’s body. The new king lent his support to Lancaster’s cult, such that where the one for Simon lasted only a decade, Thomas’ continued to rake in the business until finally shut down by the Reformation, more than two hundred years later. 

From the modern perspective of dysfunctional families, there is one more possible explanation for Edward II enjoying an evening of songs about Simon de Montfort over a goblet of Gascon wine. He was six years old when his mother Eleanor of Castile died, the last of her 16 children and the only boy to survive to manhood. His father’s war years on the continent and in Scotland were about to begin. The expense and setbacks involved in those campaigns, combined with old age, made Edward I a harsher,more dangerous man to confront than usual. One can almost imagine him relentlessly bullying his son into cutting the same stern figure of a man that he was, culminating in a nasty scene a few months before senior’s death in 1307. He had heard rumours about Piers Gaveston’s hold over his son.When Edward asked his father if he might not grant Piers the county of Ponthieu, which came from his mother, the Hammer of the Scots exploded, heaping all sorts of abuse on him and threatening to disinherit him. Always one to resort to violence in the end, he then grabbed him by his hair and began yanking out as much as his strength allowed, before throwing him out and exiling his presumptuous friend. He commanded that Piers not be recalled upon his death, which is exactly what Edward did.Whatever the realm thought of Piers, he had meant more to Edward than anyone else and he had avenged himself on Lancaster for his execution. Perhaps the only way he could get back at his father was by reminding the world of the time when the great Edward was shackled and humbled at the hands of Simon de Montfort. By all means, ladies, another number.

Thank you, Simon!  With All for All is available from The Book Depository and Amberley Publishing.  Here are the details of Simon's blog tour:

Monday 23rd February: Launch at Medieval News featuring a video spot with Darren explaining how he came to write a book on the life of Simon de Montfort.

Tuesday 24th February: Darren will be interviewed by Kasia, the keeper of Lesser Realm – find out everything you want to know about Henry III the Young King.

Wednesday 25th February: Darren will be posting a guest article about how the Montfortian struggle was viewed by the chronicler ‘The Templar of Tyre’. Hosted by John Paul Davis, author of The Gothic King: A Biography of Henry III.

Thursday 26th February: Visit The History Vault where Darren will post a guest article explaining how Montfort’s contribution to the development of Parliament was more than just summoning the burgesses in 1265.

Friday 27th February: A guest article from Darren comparing Simon de Montfort and Thomas of Lancaster, together with a competition to win a copy of the book! Hosted by Kathryn Warner, author of Edward II: The Unconventional King.

Saturday 28th February: A guest post on Sara Cockerill’s website, the author of Eleanor of Castile: The Shadow Queen. Darren will post a guest article on whether there might have ever been a King Simon.

Sunday 1st March: Montfortian scholar Kathleen Neal at Thirteenth Century England will finish off the tour with a few questions for Darren.


To win a totally FREE gorgeous hardback copy of Darren Baker's With All For All, just send an email to me at edwardofcaernarfon@yahoo.com by Friday 6 March at the latest.  (I'll reply briefly to all emails so that you can be sure I received yours safely and that you're in the draw.)  I'll announce the winner on my Edward II Facebook page during the weekend of 7/8 March, and also inform you by email.  Good luck!