Wednesday, 24 December 2008

the 12 days of Christmas - according to Piers!

Inspired by some fun on Alianore’s brilliant Edward II forum – here is Piers’ favourite carol –

On the first day of Christmas Edward gave to me……….
a gold cup, enamelled with jewels (once belonged to his mother, apparently)

On the second day of Christmas Edward gave to me……….
a buckle of gold with two emeralds, two rubies, two sapphires and eleven pearls, with a cameo in the middle, (belonged to some German queen, I believe).

On the third day of Christmas Edward gave to me……….
sixty-three horses – and a rather splendid palfrey

On the fourth day of Christmas Edward gave to me……….
an enamelled silver mirror – never get tired of using it.

On the fifth day of Christmas Edward gave to me……….
A £1,000 ruby set in gold - I do like rubies.

On the sixth day of Christmas Edward gave to me……….
a gold crown encrusted with jewels – yes, my very own crown!

On the seventh day of Christmas Edward gave to me……….
a gold ring with a sapphire – matches nicely with the ruby.

On the eighth day of Christmas Edward gave to me………
silver ship with four gold oars – not quite sure why to put this.

On the ninth day of Christmas Edward gave to me……….
The Earldom of Cornwall and a marriage to his niece – who is rather pretty – can’t see him topping that.

On the tenth day of Christmas Edward gave to me……….
Wow – with the title, comes the Castle of Tintagel!

On the eleventh day of Christmas Edward gave to me………
100 silver shields, marked with an eagle, and a suit of armour – must hold another tournament soon to put those barons in their place – the dust!

On the twelfth day of Christmas Edward gave to me………..
a gold ring containing a great ruby. The ruby is called La Cerise – ‘the cherry’ – you can guess the size of it!

Alas, I don’t have much wealth to give Edward a present – but myself :) He seems happy with that – plus, he can share my silver forks for eating pears whenever he likes.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

New cover for 'Confessions'

My least fav fictional account of Piers Gaveston, but at least it now has a more appropriate cover. I will hopefully get around to posting my reviews of Piers in fiction soon.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

New book on the Princes of Wales

Well, it's new for me. It's by the eminent historian David Loades. It's the history of the princes of Wales, and starts obviously with Edward of Caernavon. Of course, I have focused on the Piers bits:)

I'm happy with Loades' interpretation. He doesn't focus too much on whether the relationship between Edward and Piers was a homosexual one, stating that both men married and had children. He says he thinks Edward Ist probably did think it was a homosexual relationship, and was alarmed - mainly because of the influence Piers would have.

Loades' makes the point that Edward was criticised for mixing with lowborn people and their pursuits - and then points out that Piers was very far from mixing with such company and their pursuits! Indeed, Piers was complimented on his courteous manners. So much for Piers' influence, eh? Although, I'm sure Piers just let Edward enjoy doing hat he wanted - and maybe that explains Edward's attachment to him. I just cannot imagine Piers thatching a roof!

I particularly like Loades' interpretation of Piers' murder. He doesn't go into great detail. He says Piers surrendered Scarborough castle with a guarantee of his safety, and was then seized and murdered on his way south. No talk of a trial or execution - Loades tells it how it was!

Monday, 1 December 2008

Ponthieu for Piers.......

Sorry to have neglected Piers for quite some time. Heavy workload is to blame. In this part of the blog, I shall look at the events leading up to Piers' first exile.

Piers had been in the service of Prince Edward since 1300 and had found favour. Everyone in the Prince’s service must have known how high Piers had risen, and indeed the king himself. It has been previously noted how King Edward 1st had hoped that Piers would be a good role model for the Prince. The king considered Piers to be of good manners and knew of his experience on the battlefield. However, it seems the king became concerned about the rise of Piers in 1305, because he removed Piers and Gilbert de Clare from the Prince’s household. Piers cannot have helped his cause when, in 1306, along with other members of the Prince’s household, he ‘deserted’ the Scottish campaign, ‘abandoning’ the King and Prince. Piers was amongst 22 knights who deserted. Gilbert de Clare and Roger Mortimer were part of the group. Why had they deserted? According to the sheriffs of London’s records, the knights ‘have crossed to foreign parts for a tournament…..without licence, while the king is engaged in the war of Scotland’. (Calendar of Fine Rolls). King Edward was furious, and ordered the lands of the knights were seized, they were to be arrested, and were to be treated as traitors.

Although the actions of Piers and the others seem serious, in reality, the campaign in Scotland had reached stalemate, and the young knights had sought the excitement and lure of money to attend a tournament across the channel. Prince Edward apparently knew that Piers and other members of his household had gone to the tournament. The Prince’s step-mother, Queen Margaret, did her best to pour oil on troubled waters, and in January, 1307, the deserters were pardoned. All except for Piers. Not only was he refused a pardon; he was to be sent into exile. So, why wasn’t Piers pardoned? And sent into exile?

It is likely that King Edward recognised how important Piers had become to his son. He had intended Piers to be a good role model for his son, but perhaps the relationship between Piers and the prince had gone too far. One of the chroniclers of the time, Walter of Guisborough, Piers was banished because the prince had asked his father for Ponthieu for Piers. Ponthieu was part of the Prince’s inheritance. Rather than ask his father himself, Prince Edward sent Treasurer William Langton to ask. Piers and the prince has previously been on bad terms with Langton, and I have to wonder whether he was sincere in his quest. Most likely, he probably realised what the king’s reaction would be. Edward Ist was furious. He sent for his own, and has been quoted as shouting 'You wretched son of a whore! Do you want to give away lands now? You who have never gained any? As God lives, if not for fear of breaking up the Kingdom, I would never let you enjoy your inheritance!' The king must have been in such a terrible temper to utter such words – he obviously would not have insulted his wife in such a way otherwise. He then grabbed the prince by his hair, pulling out a handful, pushed his son to the floor, and kicked him.

Why would Edward ask for such a high favour for Piers? And why did his father re-act in such a way? Would Piers have been aware of his influence over the prince, and seek to exploit it by asking for such a prize as Ponthieu? I doubt it. He knew he had angered the King, who had branded him a traitor, and surely to egg on Prince Edward to ask for Ponthieu was asking for trouble. My guess is Prince Edward’s depth of feeling for Piers, and the urge to assert himself at court, led him to think this was a great idea. He would show Piers how much he cared for him, and as he was the Prince, and Ponthieu was his, he could do what he liked with it. For the King, already concerned about the prince’s close relationship, it was the final straw. Parliament was summoned, and both Edward and Piers were forced to swear on the Host and other relics that they would never see each other again unless they had permission. It must have been humiliating for both young men. The fact that the king made them swear such an oath, is, in my opinion, evidence at how concerned he was regarding the friendship between them. If he thought the prince had developed a ‘crush’ on Piers, he must have become alarmed the crush had developed into something stronger.

The king’s anger seems to have been directed more at the Prince than Piers. Piers was exiled to Gascony, given a pension, plus was given time to leave England. The prince lavished gifts of tapestries, clothes and money upon Piers for his exile. Undoubtedly, both men must have been upset, even distraught, at being forced apart. Knowing the king’s health as deterioating, I wonder if, when they parted, they were already making plans for Piers return. Or did Piers think, once out of sight, he would be out of mind? Maybe Prince Edward even had such thoughts. And King Edward was certainly hoping so.