Thursday, 25 March 2010

A Few More Words on Dodge……

After the murder of Piers, chronicles claim that some shoe-makers recovered his body where it had fallen, and took it to Warwick Castle, where the Earl of Warwick refused to receive it. It was then taken by the Dominican friars to Oxford. There the body lay in state awaiting burial. Piers had died whilst excommunicated and Edward had wanted to exact revenge upon his murderers before finally burying him. Piers was finally laid to rest in January 1315 at the Dominican house in Kings Langley. This ‘house’ was built in the grounds of the palace of Kings Langley.

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

Another 'new' 'old' book

Another publication from 'General Books', using OCR software, arrived today - 'Piers de Gaveston', by E.E.C. It's a novel and was originally published in 1838.

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

Review of Piers Gaveston, A Chapter of Early Constitutional History by Walter Phelps Dodge

This book was originally published in 1899. It was re-published by General Books in 2009. I got it from Amazon. The book is available on-line, but I would much rather have the hard copy. Inside the cover, there is a blurb that explains how this book was re-published – the original book was scanned using Optical Character Recognition software and then printed. It does keep the cost of the book down, and as I have said, I prefer a ‘hard-copy’ of the book than reading it on-line. However, there are some drawbacks – namely the photographs cannot be reproduced - you are able to see them with the on-line version – and the OCR cannot always recognise the words, which leads to a corruption of some words and sentences.

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 clich├ęs! 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

Yet another great big THANK YOU to Brad Verity

Brad has offered his pictures of the tomb of Arnaud de Gaveston to be posted here. They are splendid pictures, and as Brad points out, you can see how different Piers' Coat of Arms as Earl of Cornwall are to his father's.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

A great big Thanks to Brad Verity!

Who has sent me 2 marvellous photographs from Winchester Cathedral of the tomb of Piers Gaveston's father, Arnaud de Gaveston. I'm amazed it has survived so well. A big thank you Brad as well for the link to your brilliant website - geneology and the descendants of monarchy.

Here's the link for anyone who wants to check it out -