Monday, 15 June 2009

Disaster at Deddington

Once Piers returned, both Edward and Piers decided to make a stand against the barons. On March 31st, Piers was made custodian of Scarborough and Carlise castles and it appears he asked Edward to make him keeper of Nottingham Castle. On April 4th, Piers swore a solemn oath – that he would never relinquish control of Scarborough castle to no one except Edward – except if Edward himself were a prisoner. The next day, Edward sent letters to Gascon leaders, commanding them to raise troops. There was a delay in their plans whilst Edward and Piers were at Newcastle – and it seems it was due to Piers suffering some sort of illness. A doctor, Master William de Burntoft, was paid £6 13 s 4d, along with Robert de Birmingham, a monk from Tynemouth. During this time, armies led by Lancaster, Percy and Clifford caused Edward and Piers to flee suddenly to Scarborough castle. That they left in such a hurry is evidenced by what they left behind (I’ll save that for future post).

What happened next was catastrophic, with the benefit of hindsight. Leaving Piers at Scarborough, with orders to hold the castle, Edward left for Knaresborough and then York to try and raise troops. Lancaster seized his chance, and placed his army between Edward and Piers. Lancaster laid siege from about a week to ten days. Edward ordered the barons to desist, but they took no notice. Whether Piers was disheartened, running out of supplies, or possibly even sick again, he arranged to surrender. Despite his surrender, Piers had actually achieved fairly good terms. He was to surrender to the earl of Pembroke who would take Piers to St Mary’s Abbey in York, where Edward and the Earl of Lancaster would negotiate. If they could not reach terms by August 1st, Piers would be returned to Scarborough Castle. Pembroke, along with Warenne and Percy, swore an oath to guarantee Piers’ safety until then. In my opinion, Piers must have been relieved to be in the custody of someone like Pembroke, rather than Lancaster or Warwick. Piers had to promise not to try and persuade the king to change anything in the agreement.

Various sources claim Pembroke had accepted a bribe to protect Piers, whilst he planned to appeal to the Pope and Phillip of France. Edward met with Pembroke, Warenne and Percy in York on May 26th. Was Piers with them? Did Edward and Piers meet for one last time? There is no record of this. Pembroke made the decision to take Piers South, possibly to further protect him. On June 9th, the party reached Deddington. It seems Pembroke decided to leave his prisoner here at the rectory so that he could visit his wife in nearby Bampton. Piers was left with only a few of the Earl’s retainers. Did Pembroke deliberately leave Piers here, vulnerable, ready for the Earl of Warwick to strike? Or had Warwick been tailing them, waiting for his chance? The latter seems more likely. While Pembroke was absent, visiting his wife, Warwick and his followers entered the courtyard early in the morning. The Vita quotes him as shouting out ‘Arise traitor, thou art taken’. One can only imagine the horror Piers must have felt, seeing Warwick in the courtyard below. The Vita says he dressed quickly and came downstairs, where he was treated ‘not as an earl, but as a thief; and he who used to ride on a palfrey is now forced to go on foot’.

Warwick must have realised Piers travelling on foot would slow down his party, and once out of the village he ordered Piers to be placed on an old nag. Along the route, he was jeered as he was taken to Warwick’s castle. ‘He whom Piers called Warwick the Dog has now bound Piers with chains’.

Sources – ‘Piers Gaveston, Edward II’s Adoptive Brother’ by Pierre Chaplain

‘Piers Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall, 1307 – 13 12’ by J. S. Hamilton


Alianore said...

Oh dear, I'm going to feel really said on Friday, the anniversary! :(

The Flores Historiarum says that when the earl of Warwick's men surrounded the priory, Piers laughed and shouted out of a window that the Black Dog of Arden had arrived. The brave boy!

Anerje said...

Hi Alianore - yes, I'd like to think he shout that. I've been snowed under with work, and haven't been able to do Piers justice, and I'm just doing a fairly routine narrative to mark the anniversary.

Alianore said...

Gah, just noticed my typo - that should say 'sad' not 'said' in the first line!

Anerje said...

I knew what you meant. It's just annoying making typos, right?