Friday, 18 May 2012

Dark forces?

I had intended this post to be about the surrender of Scarborough castle by Piers Gaveston  on May 19th.  I wanted to look at Paul Doherty's novel 'The Darkening Glass' (the third in his 'Mathilde' novels) and his idea that there was a 'dark force' at work.  Unfortunately, there is an even bigger dark force at work, and not in 1312, but 2012.  Kathryn, who runs the Edward II blog, alerted me to an article that appeared in the Daily Telegraph by the 'historian' Dan Jones.  Dan Jones has written an extremely heavy book entitled 'The Plantagenets'.  Tackling such a huge project has, I'm afraid, let Dan Jones - known for his 'sexy writing' - rely on some of the same old stories that have been reproduced over the years, if the article in the Daily Telegraph is anything to go by.  Here is the link -

We get the usual tales of Edward wanting to give away his lands and being assaulted by his father, Edward giving Piers a 'royal' title that was promised to his younger half  brothers,  Piers taking all the wedding presents for himself, blah, blah, etc.  Oh, and Isabella is the 'much-maligned Queen'.  But Jones seems to go a step further.  Piers was credited as being graceful, good-mannered, chivalrous etc - a good role model for Prince Edward - but Jones says this was all a 'facade' - and that Piers introduced Edward to the unaristocratic pursuits of swimming, rowing, thatching - yes, Piers, who is never mentioned as enjoying these pursuits himself or introducing them to Edward.  The real Piers Jones tells us, was 'was arrogant, haughty, grasping and immature'.  He may well have been over-confident and displayed arrogance - but does that mean he couldn't be graceful?  well-mannered?  Looking like the god Mars at the coronation?  active in tournaments?  What surely could Edward have seen in someone so awful?  Jones seems to think it could have possibly be lust.

Other things that irked me were when Jones admits the wars with Scotland were inherited and expensive - and then slams Edward for not pursuing them.  The must ridiculous statement, in my opinion, is this one -

 The French king was a cruel persecutor of heresy who would not have allowed his little girl to marry a sodomite.

Erm, Philip was a medieval monarch, and as such would have wed his 'little girl' (a rather emotive way to describe Isabella) to whoever it suited him to.  And following this theory, if Edward and Piers were lovers, that it can only have been so after Edward was married, unless they were terribly discreet - but surely Philip would have had an inkling when Piers was left as regent, and the fact Edward Ist had banished him.  And talking of banishment, Jones says Piers  ' had repeatedly breached orders exiling him from England.'  Not true.  Edward ist banished him, the new King Edward II recalled him.  After he was banished a second time, Edward did all he could to get the barons to allow Piers back - which they did.  It was only after the third banishment Piers returned illegally from exile.

The only good thing about the article is that it refutes the claim that Edward was murdered with a red hot poker.  That's the only 'good' thing I can say about it.  I ordered the book on Amazon and it arrived yesterday.  I am not looking forward to reading it.


Kathryn Warner said...

Great post, Anerje. I was spitting when I read the article! I wonder if Jones has actually read Seymour Phillips' biog of Edward, which he cites in his book. It doesn't look like it, as he repeats all the usual old stories as though they're certain fact. Groan. I'd love to see a source for his statement that Piers treated Isabella with 'contempt'. It seems that she tried to help him when he had to go into his third exile; doesn't seem to me that she hated or resented him. And I certainly don't agree with the 'immature' bit, or that Piers would ever have been rude to the queen - even some of the hostile chroniclers admitted that he had excellent manners ('facade'??). And 'little girl' indeed, what mawkish silliness! Overall, a bad article which merely demonstrates that Jones' knowledge of Edward II and the era is little more than superficial and that he relied on secondary sources like Alison Weir and Paul Doherty to write an extremely slanted article.

Anerje said...

I totally agree with everything you said - I don't think Jones has checked his sources at all. And it seems he has relied on Doherty and Weir - 2 of Isabella's 'champions'. His portrays Edward as some kind of spoiled brat. Jones should have been checking out your blog!

Gabriele C. said...

I have equal grips with Rebecca Gablé's non fiction book about English history where she, too, portrays Edward as gay weakling. What the heck is wrong with people; gay bashing is so out in Germany to begin with.