Friday, 24 December 2010
Wednesday, 22 December 2010
1. Medieval Intrigue by Ian Mortimer - I blogged about this book recently. It's out-standing!
2. The Sisters who would be Queen by Leanda De Lisle - a fascinating and revealing life about Jane, Katherine and Mary Grey.
3. The Lady in the Tower by Alison Weir - a very readable book which brings together a variety of sources, for and against Anne Boleyn.
4. The Stolen Crown by Susan Higginbotham - the only work of fiction to appear in my list. I honestly couldn't put it down and it was a refreshing change to see the story of the Woodvilles and Richard III through the eyes of Buckingham.
5. Katherine the Queen by Linda Porter - an enjoyable book about the scholarly life of Katherine Parr.
6. Contested Will by James Shapiro. I've blogged about this book previously as well, and it has much in common with Ian Mortimer's, in that Shapiro takes the view that there is too much 'conspiracy' about Shakespeare, and that, at the end of the day, why shouldn't he have written the plays/poems? Why do people feel the need to disprove he wrote the plays etc? In some ways, the 'opposite' of Ian Mortimer's book.
7. Edward II by Seymour Phillips. OK, nothing really new in ths book, but a book on Edward II is always welcome, surely?
8. The Last White Rose by Desmond Seward - the threats faced by the Tudors from the remaining claimants of the House of York.
9. Elizabeth's Women by Tracy Borman - a look at the life of Elizabeth using the prominent women she encountered.
10. Death and the Virgin by Chris Skidmore. A very readable book about the life and death of Amy Dudley, the wife of Elizabeth's favourite Robert Dudley. Skidmore has uncovered the inquest into Amy's death, which revealed much more about her injuries. It was recently the subject of a Channel 5 documentary.
Have to mention 2 very disappointing books. The first really pains me - ' Jane Grey, A Tudor Mystery' by Eric Ives. His book on Anne Boleyn is THE book to read on Anne, but his book on Jane was a huge disappointment - mainly because I couldn't see any mystery that I didn't already know about, and the book was more about rehabilitating John Dudley, the Duke of Northumberland. The second is 'Anne Boleyn, Fatal Attractions' by G W Bernard, who seems to use 'there's no smoke without fire' to convict Anne of at least one charge of adultery and the 'theory' that Anne, as a commoner, may have had no idea how to behave as Queen, whilst dismissing everybody else's 'theories'.
Monday, 13 December 2010
The BBC History mag has published a letter in support of Ian Mortimer after that dreadful 'review' of 'Medieval Intrigue', which was nothing more than an attack on Ian's evidence for 'Medieval Intrigue' rather than a review of the book.
The BBC make also has a feature on Catherine of Aragon by Giles Tremlett, in conjunction with his new book on Catherine. The article is entitled 'Spain's Virgin Queen?' and focuses on the evidence used by the Spanish to prove Catherine's case that her marriage to Prince Arthur was unconsummated. The book is on my Christmas list, so I'll reserve judgment until I read it - but the article itself uses Spanish sources questioned years after Arthur's death, and likely to be as questionable as any Henry VIII produced to prove his case.
Sunday, 21 November 2010
Arthur’s death in April 1502 left his parents grief-stricken – only Elizabeth of York and Henry VII could offer comfort to each other. Arthur’s funeral was a huge event. It was re-enacted in 2002, the 500th anniversary. A stained glass window was erected in the Cathedral to commemorate the event. It is a copy of the stained glass window of Arthur at Malvern.
The book is mainly taken up with the recent investigation of Arthur’s tomb. During my visit, I saw red stickers in place which marked the place of heat seeking equipment which had been used to investigate the tomb. It seems Arthur does not lie beneath the marble monument in his chantry, but a few feet away. I met a delightful, elderly and very knowledgeable local guide and asked him about the research, and he showed me where it is thought Arthur lies. We had an enjoyable discussion about what sort of king Arthur would have made, and how differently events might have turned out. What we both found very touching was that one of Arthur’s loyal household members, Gruffydd ap Thomas, requested his tomb be placed close to the prince he never forgot. When Gruffydd died in 1521, his request was granted.
Sunday, 7 November 2010
Here are some of my pictures.
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Margaret de Clare was the king’s niece and sister of the young earl of Gloucester. Her mother was the king’s late sister, Joan of Acre and her first husband Gilbert, Earl of Gloucester. Despite the hostility the chroniclers were later to heap upon Piers, his marriage attracted little of their attention. We know the marriage took place at Berkhamsted and the king himself attended. Naturally, Edward was generous with his gifts where Piers was concerned. He gave the couple jewels totalling £30, £36 17s. 7d. on gifts for her ladies, £20 for a palfrey for Margaret and £20 for minstrels. In a further act of generosity, Edward provided £7, 10s. 6d. on coins for which to shower the couple as hey entered the church.
We have no evidence to tell us how Margaret felt about her marriage, but I doubt she was displeased with it. She was married to the king’s favourite and had become a countess. More honours would surely follow. And if we are to believe the descriptions of Piers, that he was handsome, graceful and well-mannered, she may well have been delighted. Margaret would of course have known her duty.
Sunday, 17 October 2010
Vincent's main concern is ' Mortimer's doubts have burgeoned into a theory which itself has failed to win approval from the academic establishment.........critics have, on the whole, either sat firmly on the fence or just as firmly rejected his tottering tower of conjecture. Most writers would at this point pass on to better things. Not Mortimer, who has now brought together a collection of essays not only to restate his theory, but to indict his critics with grave crimes: a lack of professionalism, a herd mentality, a refusal to entertain ideas beyond the accepted concensus............[However] Far from being the victim of a spiteful academic cartel that has refused him access to the published media, Mortimer is in fact a best-selling author with a particular hefty axe to grind. The louder and more repeatedly he grinds his axe, the more he risks being mistaken for a solipist, incapable of dispassionate neutrality about his own pet theories'.
This is an abridged version of the review, which only offers a few sentences at the end on the quality of the book - the rest is taken up with a critique of Ian Mortimer's 'pet theory'. As I previously blogged, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and the struggle to get his essays published and taken seriously were a huge part of the enjoyment, plus Mortimer's challenge to question what we think we know about history. Perhaps he won't be surprised to find this reviewer merely challenges his 'theory' rather than reviewing the process of how his work has been received, challenged and evaluated, and how Mortimer arrived at his conclusion that Edward II did indeed survive beyond 1327. I'm certainly a convert!
Saturday, 2 October 2010
I want to return to my University days for a moment. One aspect of my degree was the ‘methodology’ of history. My preference was always for the ‘narrative’ aspect of history. I remember being set a task using comparative case studies – not involving Edward II or indeed any king. But it shaped my interpretation of Edward II being murdered – because isn’t that what happens to all deposed monarchs? Any usurper would not keep the former king alive, as they would surely be a continual threat to them. The cases of Richard II and Edward V convinced me that Edward II would have to have been disposed of – murdered on the orders of Isabella and Mortimer. It was Kathryn that got me to re-asses this – because the cases are not the same at all. Edward II was deposed before Richard II and Edward V, and there was no real precedent for deposing kings and what should happen to them in his case study. Edward II was deposed to make way for his son, Edward III, by his mother and Mortimer – it was not his idea or actions which deposed his father, so he is not a usurper in the sense that Henry IV was. He was very much the ‘puppet’ of them, being only 15. Mortimer’s hold, in particular, was tenuous, for Edward III would surely seek to rule on his own, and Mortimer could find himself in real danger, especially if the story that he had had the king’s father ‘murdered’ became known. Would it therefore make sense to ‘fake’ the former king’s death from natural causes, and keep him a prisoner, and use him as a ‘force’ against his own son when he needed to?
Mortimer’s book is not about putting forward the ‘argument’ that Edward II did not die in 1327 – he uses facts to show that he did not. I’ve questioned Kathryn time and again about the points raised to prove Edward II was alive – and they always seemed to be ‘I’m not convinced’ or trying to find other meanings to challenge the evidence – like what on earth Lord Berkeley meant when he said he did not know Edward II was dead in 1330 – maybe the translation was wrong? Or maybe he didn’t know he had been murdered? Likewise the account of the Earl of Kent seeing his brother at Corfe Castle – surely it was an impostor set out to entrap Kent, who was known for his gullibility? And as for Edward III supposedly meeting his father in Cologne – well, that could have been an impostor trying his luck – after all, hadn’t there been people trying to impersonate either of the ‘little princes in the Tower’? Except that in Mortimer’s book, and in discussions with Kathryn, Lord Berkley’s words are a literal translation, Kent was not gullible and there were many other important men who supported his rebellion, and the ’impostor’ at Cologne seems to have had nothing to gain, was never punished and in fact was never referred to as an impostor.
Mortimer has written a stunning book in which he proves that Edward II was alive and did not die in Berkeley castle in 1327. The points I have mentioned are only a small part of the evidence – I haven’t, for example, even mentioned the Fieschi letter. I don’t want to post any ‘spoilers’ or replicate Ian Mortimer’s work in detail – but I advise any one with an interest in Edward II to read the book. The 2 chapters I enjoyed the most were ‘Twelve Angry Scholars’, in which Mortimer challenges his ‘peer reviewers’ most successfully and the chapter on ‘Edward III, His Father and the Fieschi’. His research into the Fieschi family and their connections with Edward II and Edward III is incredibly detailed and pieces together the movements of Edward II after 1327 and how he was able to do so. Also outstanding is his research of Edward III’s court accounts and his patronage of his father’s tomb at Gloucester – all makes sense and is proof.
No doubt Ian Mortimer has suffered by having his name bandied about with ‘conspiracy theorist historians’, which is very unfortunate, because in my opinion, he has shown there is a great deal of evidence that Edward II survived after 1327 – far more than the sole source that Edward II died at Berkeley of ‘natural causes’, namely Lord Berkeley. When you consider some of the flimsy books written about Richard III, and I’ll name the recent example of ‘Richard III and the murder in the Tower’, as one of the worst – full of, ‘suppose’, ‘what if’ etc – it would be a real shame if Ian Mortimer’s latest work isn’t given the respect it surely deserves.
Sunday, 19 September 2010
I liked the way that Hamilton deals with some of the chroniclers at the time. He challenges the chronicler who says that Edward instantly ‘felt so much love’ for Piers as soon as he saw him, pointing out that Piers was in Edward’s service for some 5 years before their attachment became apparent. Hamilton also challenges ‘The Ponthieu story’ – whereby Prince Edward asks his father for Ponthieu for Piers and is verbally and physically abused by his father. He claims Guisborough’s chronicle appears to be a ‘set piece’, with reference to the biblical story of Saul confronting David over his relationship with Jonathan. This confrontation allegedly was the cause of Piers’ first banishment. Hamilton rightly points out that the banishment wasn’t permanent, and the conditions were not harsh. Edward Its may have been concerned about the nature of the relationship between the prince and Piers, but the lenient sentence passed on Piers suggests he was not that worried – as we know, Prince Edward had fathered an illegitimate son.
I learned something new in the chapter on Richard II that has a connection with Piers. I must admit I know very little about the reign of Richard II, so for any Richard II scholars out there, this will be already known. After his death, Richard was buried in the Dominican friary in Langley – yes, the same resting place for Piers. Or as Hamilton puts it, ‘the same resting place of another Lancastrian victim, Piers Gaveston’. It seems he was buried in the tomb of Edmund, Duke of York and his wife, before being removed to Westminster abbey by Henry V. Can’t help wondering if Piers’ remains might have been disturbed then.
Hamilton writes in such a readable and enjoyable style, I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the book.
This week, I also got ‘The Red Queen’ by Philippa Gregory. I admit to not being a fan of her work, but I got the book at an incredibly good price from my book club – for £4.99 it was too good to turn down. Not sure when I’ll get around to reading it though. I also got hold of a copy of Michael Hicks ‘False, Fleeting, Perjured Clarence’ – at a really good price! I’m currently reading his ‘Warwick the Kingmaker’. I really enjoy Michael Hicks books and have been after this book for some time, although I wasn’t willing to pay the extortionate price for it on Amazon. So many times I’ve been tempted, and then last week a really good price came up for an immaculate condition!
And my favourite on-line book? The Daisy and the Bear, at Ragged Staff’s excellent ‘A Neville Feast’ . Since ragged Staff moved server, I haven’t mastered posting a comment. . I LOVE it! If you haven’t already succumbed to it, try it out at - http://nevillfeast.wordpress.com/
Tuesday, 31 August 2010
The Tower seems to be gearing up for another exhibition shortly – the zoo at the Tower. There is scaffolding, coverings and banners behind the Jewel House making visitors aware of it. The Bowyer tower is behind the Jewel House, and I’d completely forgotten about it during my last visit. Having read Susan Higginbotham’s ‘The Stolen Crown’, which had me absolutely gripped from the start, I made a point of visiting the Bowyer tower, for it was here, as tradition has it, that George, Duke of Clarence, met his end – drowned in a butt of malmsey, if we are to believe Shakespeare. Although there were many visitors to the Tower that day, I think many may have been put off going further than the Jewel House because of the scaffolding and coverings. So when I ventured around the back of it to go to the Bowyer tower, there was no-one there except for one other visitor, heading into the Bowyer tower. Outside was a board informing visitor this was where George had met his end, and I admit I only skimmed it, and inside, was the story of his imprisonment. The tower was empty, apart from a large barrel in the corner and the sound of dripping. The other visitor, a man, was on the opposite side of the Tower. I headed over to the barrel, and thought how clever they had made it look - the top had an image of a hole projected onto it and you could see rippling liquid. As I gazed down on it, the image of a drowning man appeared, clearly intended to be George. It was cleverly done to make it appear as if one was watching from underneath the barrel. It was unbelievably realistic, and so unexpected, I confess I let out an almighty shriek! Very embarrassing, but luckily there was only the other visitor present. He swung round to face me, clearly shocked himself, and I could only garble ‘it’s supposed to be Clarence in there’ and point at the barrel – and of course, there was no sign of the image then. We had to wait several minutes for George to pop up again. On leaving the tower, I noted on the board outside, it did warn to expect a ‘surprise’. That will teach me to skim information boards!
Wednesday, 25 August 2010
1. Ludlow Castle, Shropshire - 'where the wars began.'
2. Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland - 'where the Lancastrians clung on'.
3. Raglan Castle, Monmouthshire - 'where Edward IV's favourite ruled'. (William Herbert)
4. Gainsborough Old Hall, Lncolnshire, - 'where civil rule continued'.
5. Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire - 'where the secnd war was won'.
6. Middleham Castle, North Yorkshire, - power base of watwick the Kingmaker and Richard III.
7. St George's Chaperl, Windsor - 'where Yorkist and Lancastrian kings flaunted their power'.
8. The Tower of London - 'where the bloodiest crimes were perpetrated'.
9. Bosworth Field, Leicestershire - 'where Richard III was slain'.
10. Westminster Abbey, London - 'where the first Tudor king built a magnificent chapel'.
I have visited all these places except number 6. Although it seems when I walked Bosworth field, I may not have walked the actual battlefield - complete with red rose (seriously!). Michael Hicks, one of my favourite 'Roses' historians, has written the article.
The ‘Henry VIII’ apartments features the ‘wedding’ of Henry VIII. There are some well known Tudor portraits on loan and are displayed in the so-called ‘haunted gallery’ (the scene of Catherine Howard’s hysteria). The chapel is open to view, as well as Henry’s council chamber, which features ‘video’ performances from Henry’s councillors from the 1540s.
Hampton Court has 2 distinctive styles. The Tudor palace is much in evidence as you enter the palace. The monarchs that altered the palace were the joint sovereigns William and Mary. I have to say, their apartments hold little interest for me, but they make up the third exhibition and if you are interested in them and their baroque design, it’s well worth a visit, and if you are not, well, it’s interesting to see how the palace changed. They ran out of money, and thankfully, were unable to complete their redesign of the palace.
The kitchens at Hampton Court give an excellent insight to what life at court was like, and I’ll save this description for another day.
Below - the 'Baroque' Palace of William and Mary.
Sunday, 15 August 2010
The original Globe was built in 1599, by Shakespeare’s players company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. The Globe burned down on June 29th, 1613 during a performance of Henry VIII. The thatched roof caught fire. No-one was killed or seriously injured.
As well as the theatre, the site also has a lecture room, eduactional facilities, book and gift shop and an exhibition, openly daily. I didn’t have time to go to the exhibition, and not surprisngly, it’s closed during performances.
On the subject of Shakespeare, I’ve been reading ‘Contested Will’ by James Shapiro which I bought at the Globe bookshop. It’s not really what I thought it would be about – that is discussing the candidates who might have been the ‘real’ Shakespeare. It’s actually the history, and I’d say pyschology, about the authorship debate. When it started, possible reasons for it and the thinking of the challengers of the authorship by promoters of Francis Bacon and the Earl of Oxford. It’s thought provoking and an excellent read.
Sunday, 8 August 2010
The comparison with James Ist and Robert Carr/George Villiers makes more sense, although James doesn't seem to have been as faithful to his favourites as Edward II. And what about James' Queen - Anne of Denmark? She was not as powerful as Isabella, but she seems happy to have tolerated James and his favourites, and went on to have many children with James. James' relationship with his favourites may have caused petty jealousies at court, but didn't really lead to any crisis. Scandal, yes - the infamous case of the murder of Thomas Overbury by Robert Carr and his wife Frances Howard. James survived it relatively unscathed, and both Carr and his wife, although convicted, were not executed. In my opinion, the majore difference is the role of the monarch and parliament, which had changed drastically since the reign of Edward II.
I will take this opportunity to recommend Anne Somerset's 'Unnatural Murder', about the Overbury case. It's a fascinating and riveting book about the scandal.
Saturday, 7 August 2010
Brenton’s take on Anne Boleyn is as a keen promoter of the Reformation, with Anne passionate about William Tyndale’s ‘The Obedience of a Christian man’. The play opens with the ghost of Anne Boleyn, and the setting is the court of James 1st early in his reign. James has been going through Elizabeth’s possessions, and comes across a chest containing Anne’s Coronation day dress and a copy of Tyndale’s book hidden away. James is faced with problems with religion early in his reign, and he calls upon Anne to show him how to finish what she started. James 1st is played by James Garnon, who is out-standing in his portrayal of the ‘wisest fool in Christendom’. James is flamboyant, sharp-tongued, playful, clever and manipulative, as well as great fun to watch. The play then presents us with a serious of flash backs to Anne’s life contrasted with James’ problems with the clergy.
This is obviously first and foremost a drama. Nevertheless, the play is very accurate in it’s portrayal of Anne’s life. We never see Katherine of Aragon, but Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell both dominate the play. Cromwell eventually reveals his reformist reviews to Anne and gives her his support for the divorce. Henry VIII is played by Anthony Howell, ( previously in Foyle's War) and his scenes of courtship with Anne are charming. The play’s language is in stark contrast to Shakespeare’s Henry VIII – speeches are short and precise, and characters give us a modern slant on their thoughts – Anne wishes Katherine would ‘piss off and join a convent’. I thoroughly enjoyed the play.
Afterwards, I was lucky enough to attend a question and answer session with the cast in the lecture room at the Globe. Howard Brenton’s chief source for Anne was Eric Ives book, the best biographer of Anne in my opinion. Miranda Raison said she prepared for the role by reading selected parts of Ives biography. The actor playing Tyndale revealed he had read a bio of him and his works to prepare for the role. Anthony Howell had actually appeared in the film version of ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ and already had background information. Interestingly, other cast members had not done any research.
Miranda Raison was excellent in the role of Anne – showing the religious side of Anne’s life, her vivacity and charisma. There was none of the ‘sexiness’ of the recent ‘The Tudors’ tv production, and Thomas Boleyn didn’t appear, so we did not have the ‘father pushes daughter’ scenario either. This is a thoughtful and enjoyable play, and I'd recommend anyone with an interest in Anne , Henry VIII or James 1st to see it.
Saturday, 19 June 2010
Thursday, 15 April 2010
Despite looking incredibly young, Ben was 27 when he played this part. The fact that he's kitted out as 'a knight' is a huge advantage for Ben.
My favourite actor is Johnny Depp. As Captain Jack Sparrow, he has the swagger, the bravado and the flamboyance to be Piers. He's also really handsome! But so established is Johnny as Capt Jack, I can't imagine him as Piers. Hmmm, but how about Johnny as 'himself'? At 46, he's a bit too old to be Piers. But maybe in his younger days? How about this pic -
Or how about Johnny in one of my fav roles as Don Juan DeMarco?
My last contender - and I must admit, a real outsider for me, is Orlando Bloom. As William Turner in Pirates of the Carribean.
I'm definitely sticking with Ben Barnes as Prince Caspian, with Johnny as Don Juan in second place. I wonder who would be the ideal Edward II?
Wednesday, 7 April 2010
The main focus of the novel is Margaret de Clare, Edward II’s niece. Margaret is a mature 17 at the start of the novel – not the ‘child bride ‘ of Piers. She is ‘hopelessly in love’ with Hugh Audley, and despite her status she has promised herself in marriage to him. All this has been done in secret because her brother would not approve. Then along comes Piers Gaveston, who falls in love with her, and asks Edward II for her hand in marriage. Margaret has taken a dislike to Piers, who, although very handsome, is haughty and proud – no surprise there! Margaret refuses to marry Piers, and it’s a case of being ‘forced’ by her family to do her duty. She reluctantly marries Piers, and, because of her family honour, acts the dutiful wife.
When Piers is banished to Ireland, Margaret dutifully promises to follow him, but is concerned Piers doesn’t want her to follow him. When she gets to Ireland, she founds out the reason why. Her husband spends hardly any time with her, and Margaret is shocked to find out he has a long-term mistress – the French-born Adele. Adele has been dishonoured by Piers – he persuaded her to elope with him, before he met Margaret, and she has followed him around as his mistress. The author says she has been ‘degraded’ and brought shame on her family. She loves Piers and cannot help herself. Margaret discovers that Piers has tired of her, and to gently cast her off, has asked Edward to declare and interest in her and take her as his mistress to free Piers of her. I know Edward is devoted – but really! Adele is horrified, and Margaret resolves to send her home to her family, away from the womanising Piers! This she manages, and of course, by then, Piers realises he really does love Margaret. There has to be a however – because it’s not long before Piers is tempted again by a lady of the court – in between cheating at cards at court. He has to cheat at cards because he and Edward have no money, and HE has to bankroll Edward – how sweet! The lady concerned is whisked away from court by her brother – one of the leading nobility who swears revenge on Piers.
The villain in this novel is ……Pembroke! How’s this for a twist? He has married Adele! So when Piers is ‘captured’ by Pembroke, Adele tries to help him to run away with her. But Piers is now once again devoted to Margaret, and faces his fate.
Margaret is the heroine of the novel – the author makes much of her obedience to her husband, which grows into love. Piers is called ‘our hero’ throughout, and is re-deemed by his love for Margaret. Margaret swoons quite a bit and is of course very brave. The author informs us that Adele realises she has led a life of vice and dies ‘by her own hand’. This is quite a charming novel, a novel of its time, and not to be taken seriously.
Thursday, 25 March 2010
Dodge has inquired into churches in Kings Langley, and the ‘Church of the Friars Preachers was long gone’. All Saints Church is still standing, and Edmund of Langley's tomb was removed there. Dodge says that the altar tomb of Sir Ralph Verney, who died in 1528, was once mistaken for Piers’ monument. Edward would surely have given Piers a fine tomb – and it makes me wonder why that to wasn’t removed to All Saints? I have the feeling it would have been defaced etc during the Reformation.
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
I still haven't finished with my comments on the Dodge book, but will also review this book when I've read it.
Wednesday, 10 March 2010
Written in 1899, it is a product of its time, and avoids identifying the nature of the relationship between Edward II and Piers Gaveston. In some parts of the books, Piers is referred to as ‘the favourite’ or even ‘Edward’s nephew’. At one point, the relationship is referred to as ‘sordid’. However, in the Appendix, Dodge makes his viewpoint clear. He refers to ‘some 16th century obscure chroniclers’ have ‘characterised the relationship between Edward and his favourite as being like those attributed to Socrates and Alcibiades. There is, however, little authority for such a scandalous supposition.’ Dodge then cites Hume, who says their relationship was ‘innocent though frivolous’. Dodge obviously never considered that in Edward’s case, actions speak louder than words, and 14th Century chroniclers just may have been wary in their recording of events.
Dodge gives a good account of the life of Piers’ father and the early life of Piers. In his discussion for the reasons for Piers’ banishment, however, he makes light of the ‘Ponthieu’ incident, giving it only 3 lines. He cites the incident of the ‘legend’ of Piers being caught hunting in the ‘Bishop of Chester’s park’ or the abandonment of the border war with Scotland. He notes the King was concerned over the Prince’s attachment to Piers. And that’s it.
Dodge claims Piers birthday was in December – without giving the source – but says that Edward gave him 2 gold rings, one set with a ruby, the other an emerald, as presents. This just made me think Piers was re-acting like anyone else with a birthday in December – making sure he got 2 presents :)
Dodge believes the animosity of the barons was mostly based on Piers being a foreigner, and that Edward chose Margaret de Clare as his bride to try and neutralise this. He claims that Margaret appeared fond of her ‘handsome husband’ and ‘never lost her affection for him’. Later on in the book, however, he says Margaret is no more than a ‘plaything’ for her husband!
Regarding Edward’s marriage, whilst referring to Isabella as a ‘child bride’, he says ‘from the first the Queen took a violent dislike to Gaveston’. His evidence is Piers behaviour at the Coronation – his ostentatious clothes and of course, pocketing Isabella’s jewellery! Usual clichés! He does go on to say though that Isabella had a malicious and spiteful character, and that Edward failed to spot her true character. In fact, the whole of Dodge’s book is based on ‘if only…’. If only Piers had realised he could be a good influence on Edward, if only Edward were not so childish around Piers, if only Piers could have distinguished himself in England as he did in Ireland. Dodge believes that Piers had the potential to be a ‘good favourite’, and blames Edward for being weak and the barons for being as greedy and corrupt as they accused Piers.
One baron who is blasted by Dodge is Pembroke. He lays the blame for Piers fate squarely on Pembroke’s shoulders. Either Pembroke knew Warwick was on his way and left Piers to his fate, or he was incredibly stupid to leave Piers at Deddington and poorly protected. He even accuses Pembroke of leading Piers further away from any of his supporters by heading south. He is scathing that Pembroke didn’t arm himself and head for Warwick castle himself and demand to speak with Warwick. I don’t think Dodge takes on board how Pembroke’s honour was slighted, and his response afterwards. It does make me wonder though why Pembroke didn’t at least try to go to Warwick and negotiate with the barons there. Maybe he knew it was futile? Or maybe the lack of response from Gloucester made him realise he would be very much on his own in defending his honour and prisoner, and no one else nearby was going to help.
Dodge is also scathing with Lancaster. He says he was unpatriotic, didn’t have England’s interests at heart, and was avaricious and corrupt.
Dodge believes that Piers career could have been very different, and says that his epitaph could have been ‘wasted opportunities’. Overall, it is a positive biography of Piers, with good use made of sources. Brad Verity rightly pointed out that Dodge translated and examined sources not used by Chaplais or Hamilton, the most recent biographies. Definitely a Piers biography to be read.
Tuesday, 9 March 2010
Sunday, 7 March 2010
Here's the link for anyone who wants to check it out -
Friday, 26 February 2010
Browsing on Amazon last week, I came across a re-issue of 'Piers Gaveston; A Chapter of Early Constitutional History' by Walter Phelps Dodge. The book was originally published in 1899, and has been available on-line for some time. It was re-issued in December 2009. Naturally, I ordered it, as it was reasonably priced, and much easier to read than on-line. Sadly, it doesn't have the pictures included. The on-line version (which is available for download), has a picture of the tomb of Piers Gaveston's father. I've never read the full text, so am looking forward to reading it.
Saturday, 9 January 2010
Ok, not really to do with Piers, but certainly Eward II. Edward fled to Neath Abbey and was pursued there by the supporters of Isabella, his estranged wife. Coins from Edward's reign have been found hidden in pillars, which Edward must have had put there. And this is not even the picture I wanted to post! There's a fantastic picture of Neath Abbey in the snow in a local paper, but it won't allow me to post it, so I came up with this one from last year, which is almost as spectacular.