Tuesday, 24 December 2013

A Very Merry Christmas to all!


Looking forward to a new year with all my favourite blogs - Kathryn's addictive Edward II (whose posts have changed from Thursday to Sundays now - yes, I noticed the difference! ), Kasia's The Young King which has renewed my interest in the Anjevins, and Gabriele's informative posts about periods of history I know little about and always has the best photos.   Keep on blogging in 2014!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

A little bit of festive fun....


A few years ago I did a spoof post dedicated to Piers Gaveston’s 12 Days of Christmas, in which he listed all his presents from Edward II  here, So this year, it’s Edward’s turn to list his presents from Piers, who obviously doesn’t have as much money as Edward but knows him really well!

On the first day of Christmas, my true love, Piers, sent to me a miniature portrait of himself – how thoughtful of him, as he knows how much I love to gaze upon him.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love, Piers, sent to me a rather rude joke about Thomas of Lancaster inside a cracker – hilarious! And too rude to repeat here!

On the third day of Christmas, my true love, Piers sent to me a book entitled ‘Thatching Made Easy’ – he’s just so thoughtful!

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love, Piers sent to me some soothing hand balm, to use after a hard day’s thatching.  How sweet of him!

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love, Piers sent to me the bill for his new purple silk tunic.  I don’t mind of course – purple does suit him so well, and purple silk is just so expensive – especially with ermine trim.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love, Piers sent to Isabella the wrong directions for Langley, which means she arrived the day after Boxing Day.  I know I shouldn’t laugh, but, well, I just can’t help it!

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love, Piers, sent to me a dog collar for Guy of Warwick – ok, a bit cheeky, but surely Guy can take a joke.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love, Piers, sent a matching dog tag for the collar, with Guy inscribed on it!  Guy seems to have lost his sense of humour!

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love, Piers, sent to me a fine pair of oars, with the royal crest on them.   He says he’s looking forward to me using them, rowing for all I’m worth, shirtless, down the Thames with my muscles on view! 

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love, Piers, sent to me a poem about said muscles.  It must remain private I’m afraid.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love, Piers sent to me some forks which he says are for eating pears.  I think it’s another of his jokes.

On the twelfth  day of Christmas, my true love, Piers sent to me the key to his room – so I’m off now to find him!  Merry Christmas!

 

Monday, 2 December 2013

The tomb of Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales

I've visited Worcester Cathedral many times, and always like to spend some time in Prince Arthur's Chantry.  It is a magnificent piece of architecture for a young man who promised so much and died early.  He's mostly remembered today for his short marriage to Catherine of Aragon, who went on to marry his younger brother after Arthur's death.  The nature of their marriage became very important later in the reign of Henry VIII, when he divorced Catherine on the grounds the marriage of Arthur and Catherine having consummated their marriage.  This discussion still continues today.  Here's a link to my earlier post on Arthur - who was far from the sickly youth portrayed in later generations.

Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales

Here are the pictures from my latest visit.  One of the figures surrounding the Chantry is allegedly Edward II.  The figures were defaced in the reign of Henry VIII's son, Edward VI.

 The chantry itself was constructed away from the cathedral and installed on top of previous tombs.


 The defaced figures inside the chantry - which one is meant to be Edward II?

 Prince Arthur's tomb.  Recent research has discovered the vault beneath the chantry where Arthur's remains are buried.  It's a 'double vault', but contains only one set of remains.  There was no effigy - it's likely the tomb had a brass placed on top of it.
 A copy of the original window from Malvern Priory.  This copy was added in 2002 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Arthur's death.
 Taken from the chantry, this tomb is for Gruffydd ap Thomas and his wife.  Gruffydd asked to be buried near the prince he so loyally served.  The tomb also contains the remains of his wife.

The brass on top of the tomb of Gruffydd ap Thomas is a copy of a lost original.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Much more important, Novemeber 1st

is the anniversary of Piers wedding to Margaret de Clare, the niece of Edward II in 1307.  It's also Kathryn's 500th post on her fabulous blog Edward II.   Congratulations Kathryn and thanks for all the well-researched and fascinating posts!

Was Piers Gaveston's mother a witch?

OK, so this post tie-in is a day late - but being as it is a myth, perhaps that is no bad thing.  It is a myth often repeated in historical fiction.   Piers' mother was Claramonde de Marsan, and we know very little about her.  Claramonde was the daughter of the great landowner Arnaud-Guillaume de Marsan, and it seems that Piers' father, Arnaud de Gabaston, was her second husband.  Claramonde died in 1287, when Piers was still a child.  We don't know the circumstances of her death, which is significant - because if she had been burned as a witch, undoubtedly her family would have been tarnished by association, and surely Edward Ist would not have found a place in his son's household for Piers?

 Other than her family, there is nothing else available about Claramonde.  So why then repeatedly in historical fiction - and, I've even seen it in 'factual' accounts about Piers, - does the myth about Claramonde being burnt at the stake for witchcraft  originate? It may be something to do with one of the chroniclers of Edward II saying that 'the King loved an evil male sorcerer more than he did his wife.'   It seems the chronicler thought Edward and Piers were lovers, and the only way to explain the king's love for Piers was that he had been induced by witchcraft.  Accusing enemies, and usually powerful enemies, of witchcraft was a useful tool in getting rid of them.  Accusations depended on interpretation.  However, it seems that none of the enemies of Piers considered this a serious allegation against him. Neither was he ever accused of heresy or holding beliefs from pagan times.  His excommunication was purely politically motivated.  So it seems in his own lifetime, Piers' mother was never accused of being a witch.

For historical novelists, however, the accusation is a powerful tool, and we get instances of Piers bragging about his mother being a witch, and even having scarred hands as he tried to save her from the flames!  Piers himself is accused of following the 'old pagan' religions, and there are scenes in novels where he takes Prince Edward to ancient ceremonies. 

I guess it all makes for drama and excitement in novels!  Why let the truth get in the way?!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Review of Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II at the National Theatre

I bought tickets for this production way back in the summer.  I agonised over whether to read the reviews before I saw the production, and in the event, only read one – which wasn’t a good one, to put it mildly.  

Arriving at the theatre, my heart sank a little at the scenery – which looked like a disused warehouse.  The play started with Edward II’s coronation, with the actor playing Edward pausing for long periods for effect as the king made his vows.  This was promising, I thought.  But from that point, the play proved a huge disappointment.  The play had no clear setting – it was a mixture of traditional and modern – the king wearing casual trousers but a magnificent golden robe and sitting on a fine throne.  Actors were wearing suits of armour – but with animal heads.  And then some characters changed sex.  I could cope with the Earl of Pembroke becoming a woman – and I mean being referred to as ‘she’, and not an actress playing the role as a man.  But what I couldn’t cope with was Edward’s brother, the Duke of Kent, being a woman – so, he no longer had a brother, but a sister.  What this added to the play, I just don’t get.  The actress playing the role wore a ‘power-dressing’ trouser suite with high heels, and spent a lot of time wandering aimlessly around the stage with no real purpose.

Naturally, I awaited Piers Gaveston’s arrival with eagerness.  The actor playing him, Kyle Soller, made his entrance from the back of the stalls, climbing up on a wall and holding onto a railing.  This production makes it quite clear that the prejudice the barons have against Piers is that he is an upstart and as a Gascon, an outsider.  Which is why I presume he spoke with an American accent.  True, Soller is an American, but did they really have to have Piers speaking in an American accent to hammer home he was an outsider?  In a way, Soller’s performance stereotyped Piers as a brash American.  And Piers was clad in jeans and a leather jacket to just hammer it home further.  Apart from the accent, Soller gave a reasonable performance, and John Heffernan as Edward II aroused some sympathy for Edward, but the production also showed how petulant and, no other word for it, lurid, Edward and Piers’ behaviour could be.  However, there were some parts of the play which were actually played for laughs, which just seemed so wrong.  

The most annoying aspect of this production was the use of 2 screens on either side of the stage which was used to film the actors when hidden on the stage or at the side of the stage.  OK, it was adventurous – but when I go to the theatre, I would like to see the actors live on stage.  The stage set incorporated collapsible staging with ‘rooms’ on stage that the audience couldn’t see – so we had to rely on the screens whilst the actors were filmed on sometimes shaky video cameras.  We were presented with the nobles plotting against Gaveston on 2 giant video screens with the actors actually on stage but unable to be seen by the audience.  Similar scenes included ‘Spencer’ and Baldock being filmed outside the theatre and being relayed on screen.  We were also treated to Edward, Piers and their followers ‘partying’ with occasional flashes of light, bodies merged together and blaring music.  There were more scenes presented like this, but hopefully you get the gist of my gripe of using screens/cameras instead of us seeing the scenes on the actual stage.
Vanessa Kirby’s Queen Isabella drank and smoked too much, summoning her son, the prince, to refill her glass and light her cigarettes which caused much of the audience to howl with laughter.  Likewise when Edward and Piers enjoyed an extremely long, passionate kiss, not caring who saw them, and then a 3 way kiss with Spencer, a lot of the audience laughed – purely because the production played it for laughs. 
As for Prince Edward – ok, I could cope with an actress playing the prince, but her age and size were inappropriate.  Queen Isabella had to carry this ‘child’ at some points – a fully-grown woman dressed in shorts and a blazer!  Ridiculous!  Even more so was the tune of the Hokey Cokey after a battle scene – yes, honestly!
As in the previous production of Edward II I saw about 2 years ago, the ‘murderer’ Lightborn was played by the same actor who had played one of the king’s favourites – previously it was ‘Spencer’, and now it was Kyle Soller who played Gaveston – clearly to add to the drama of the murder of the king.  First we had to suffer Edward shuffling around the back of the stage in shorts and t-shirt, being filmed on a handheld camera and viewed on the giant screens.  A huge plastic sheet was brought out, and we have Edward pinned down and murdered by the red hot poker and then dragged off stage by the plastic sheet.  
One review I read said the production was like Marmite – you’ll either love it or hate it.  I can’t say that I hated it – but it was certainly a huge disappointment, with far too many gimmicky things going on.
 
 
Vanessa Kirby as Queen Isabella, John Heffernan as Edward II, Kyle Soller as Piers Gaveston
 

 

 

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The Colosseum, Rome

One place I've always wanted to visit is the Colosseum in Rome.  I finally got around to it this year, and it lived up to all my expectations.  Completed in 80AD by the Emperor Titus, the Coloseum is made of concrete and stone.  It is believed to have held between 50,000 to 80,000 spectators.  According to our guide, the Colosseum operated a type of 'season ticket' approach, with each ticket holder knowing their entrance and place. 



The outside of the Colosseum would have been painted a range of colours and each alcove contained a statue.


Underneath the 'stage',  wild and exotic animals were often kept before being unleashed into the arena.  Props, such as palm trees could also be hoisted into the arena using pulleys and trap doors.   Our guide told us the days events often started with the animals being displayed.Then criminals were  executed - sometimes using the animals, or being made to fight each other, before the day's final attraction, the Gladiators.




 Note the holes in the concrete/stone - pillaged during the Middle Ages for the iron contained within.


No other way to put it - simply magnificent! 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

August Mixed Bag

I'm afraid I've been on holiday for a good part of August so haven't done much blogging.  And today's post is just a short one.  Following on from my praise of Leanda de Lisle's article defending Margaret Beaufort, I read another interesting article on Susan Higginbotham's blog  History Refreshed, in which she discusses the 'slut shaming' .  Hadn't heard the term before, but I'll quote Susan's context for using it in her post on Catherine of Valois's reputation -

I find this willingness to stain the reputation of historical women on such flimsy evidence disheartening, particularly when the writer doing this academic version of “slut shaming” is an accredited historian. I find it even more disheartening when the author is someone dedicated to restoring the good name of another historical figure, Richard III.

I completely agree with Susan.  Many blogs have commented on the BBC, erm, 'drama' 'The White Queen', my favourite being the interpretation being on A Neville Feast blog.  Plus, newspapers have had a field day pointing out metal handrails on stairs, drainpipes in full view, zips on costumes etc.  As well as showing the drama, the BBC showed 2 documentaries hosted by Philippa Gregory called 'The Real White Queen and her rivals'.   Except it wasn't 'the real' story of these women - just an attempt to pass Gregory's fiction off as fact.  And what made it worse was the inclusion of several notable historians giving their views.  They didn't comment on controversial areas of Gregory's fiction, but to me, their inclusion seemed to be used by the BBC to legitimise Gregory's views.  And what made me particularly annoyed was the 'discussion' on Elizabeth of York and her 'affair' with her uncle, Richard III.  Gregory maintains that Henry VII waited 5 months before marrying Elizabeth of York to ensure she was not pregnant by her uncle Richard - a case of 'slut shaming'.  The obvious reason Henry VII waited was because he didn't want it to look as though he owed his crown to Elizabeth of York.  He didn't want them to be seen as 'joint sovereigns'.  Of course he hoped the marriage would reconcile the Houses of York and Lancaster - but there was no doubt in his mind that he was king by right, and his claim had nothing to do with his wife.  Makes much more sense than waiting to see if Elizabeth was pregnant by Uncle Richard!

Henry VII and Elizabeth of York had one of the happiest royal marriages.  They did not marry for love, but there seems to have been genuine growing  affection between them throughout their marriage, and Henry was devastated when she died.  He could - and probably should - have re-married, and although he searched for another wife, he never married again. 


Onto another Queen - this time, Mary, Queen of Scots.  I have just visited Edinburgh, and the National Museum of Scotland, has a superb exhibition on Mary.  here's the blurb from their website -

Created especially for the National Museum of Scotland and showing only in Edinburgh, the exhibition provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to discover much that has been written and speculated about Mary, one of the most charismatic monarchs of all time. Taking a fresh, innovative approach, using jewels, textiles, furniture, documents and portraits, Mary’s dramatic story and this fascinating period in Scottish history is explored in detail.
By drawing together rare objects intimately connected with Mary Stewart, as well as key loans from public and private collections, the exhibition features an array of treasures never before seen together, alongside new research.

I had only a short time in Edinburgh - but it still took me 2 hours to see the exhibition.  It's well worth a visit, and will be there until November.  It's the artefacts that make the exhibition for me.  Who knows when such a collection will be shown again?  The exhibition is balanced and examines the evidence available to try unravel the complications of Mary's life.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Superb article by Leanda de Lisle

I've been on holiday the last few weeks and have once again neglected this blog.  I've been stung into action today after reading a superb article by Leanda de Lisle in today's Daily Express newspaper.  I read de Lisle's book on Lady Jane Grey, which dealt with many of the myths that grew up surrounding Jane's short life, which I'd highly recommend.  I'm looking forward to her new book 'Tudor: The Family Story'. The article concerns the portrayal of Margaret Beaufort in the BBC's 'historical drama' (hmmm) 'The White Queen', which has certainly made me very angry.  Leanda de Lisle encapsulates exactly how I feel and has written fantastic article in defence of Margaret and the prejudices she has faced over the centuries.  Here's part of the article -

Don't always blame the mothers

WITH the kitsch BBC drama The White Queen moving to its conclusion Margaret Beaufort is the villainess viewers love to hate.

A frigid fanatic in high necklines she is the ultimate tiger mother. A woman willing even to commit child murder as she plots her son Henry Tudor's path to the throne.
But this is a depiction shaped by centuries of sexual and religious bigotry and by our still ambivalent attitudes to powerful women.

Female historians and novelists may claim a sisterly empathy for historical women but all too many of them are willing to plunder misogynistic myths to write their lives. And Margaret Beaufort is not their only victim.

In the Tudor period and for centuries afterwards it was considered wrong and unnatural for women to wield power. It followed that the kind of woman who sought power was also unnatural - so how to depict them? Well what could be more unnatural, more against a woman's proper nature than the abuse of children?


It seems no coincidence that Margaret Beaufort stands accused of planning the deaths of the White Queen's young sons, the so-called princes in the Tower, to clear the path for Henry Tudor to be king. The irony is that the real Margaret Beaufort was what we would consider to be an abused child. She was married at 12 and was so small and slight that her son's birth when she was 13 nearly killed her. She was unable to have further children and for the next 25 years Margaret was a pawn and victim of vicious power politics.


You can read the rest of the article by clicking on the following link -

Don't always blame the mothers....


Monday, 15 July 2013

My Top 10 things to see/do at the Tower of London

Whenever I am in London, I never seem to be able to pass up a visit to the Tower of London.  I seem to be drawn to it - it's definitely my most favourite place to visit.  This weekend, I found myself there again - even if it was uncomfortably hot.  The Tower looked superb!



So, here is my list of Top 10 things to do/see at the Tower of London.

1.  The chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula is a MUST.   It's on the Yeoman Warder tour, and their knowledge is invaluable.  You are not allowed inside on your own, until after 4pm.  It contains the remains of many of those executed at the Tower, although not all the remains have been identified.  Unfortunately, you are not allowed to approach the altar, where the remains of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, amongst others, have been identified and marked with a plaque.

2.  The Yeoman Warder tours are great fun!  They are very entertaining and the Warders delight in telling gruesome tales.  They are not always 100 % accurate - howlers include Anne Boleyn's remains being identified by the legendary '6th finger' on her hand, and Thomas Culpepper hearing Catherine Howard proclaim her love for him from the scaffold.  I always make a point of going on these tours, no matter how many times I have heard the stories.

3.  The White Tower - the oldest part of the Tower, it really is magnificent.  It contains the 'Line of Kings', which is a set of life size figurines of past monarchs and a set of their horses.  They date from around the 17th century, so interpretations of the monarchs are not very accurate.  But it is an amazing sight!   There are suits of armour worn by Henry VIII and other monarchs, on view.  Modern artifacts include the chair on which the German spy Josef Jakobs was executed in 1941 - the last prisoner to be executed at the Tower. 

4.  The Beauchamp Tower - inside this Tower is an exhibition on prisoners in the Tower, which has been there for absolutely ages!  However, the 'must see' in this Tower are the walls, which contain inscriptions by prisoners in the Tower.  Each has been identified as much as possible.  There are two engravings of 'Jane' on the walls, which probably refer to supporters of Lady Jane Grey.  The most spectacular is the carving commissioned by John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland for his family.

 



5.  The Wakefield Tower - as accessed through the Medieval Palace.   This octagonal room contains a small chapel with a commemorative plaque to King Henry VI, who was allegedly murdered here after the death of his son at the Battle of Tewkesbury. 



6.  The Bloody Tower - probably one of the most visited part of the Tower, thanks to its association with the 'princes in the Tower'  legend.  Formerly the Garden Tower, it gained it's notorious name in late Elizabethan times after it was identified as the Tower in which the sons of Edward IV were imprisoned and later murdered on the orders of their uncle, Richard III.  Other candidates have been mentioned as possible murderers,  and you can vote inside once you have considered the evidence.  Richard III is comfortably in the lead.  There's also an exhibition on Sir Walter Raleigh's life as a prisoner, as well as the strange case of Thomas Overbury, who was poisoned inside the Tower as he awaited trial in the reign of James 1st.

7.  The execution spot - ok, it's not very accurate, but it does contain a memorial to those prisoners executed inside the Tower, on Tower green - most prisoners were removed from the Tower and executed on Tower Hill, but those deemed 'dangerous/troublesome/embarrassing to the monarch' were executed near to where the memorial is located.  It's been replaced in recent years with a glass effect sculpture.  I admit it can look a bit, erm, tacky. 

 
 
8.   The Ravens - legend has it that if the ravens ever leave the Tower, it will fall and with it the monarchy.   Six to nine ravens are in residence, and they have a long life span.  They have their wings clipped and are often seen hopping around the Tower.           
 
 
                                             
 
 
9.    The Bowyer Tower - I've blogged about this Tower in the past - it's tucked away behind the Jewel house, and contains a small exhibition on George, Duke of Clarence, allegedly executed in a barrel of malmsey by his brother Edward IV.                    
 
10.  The role-play characters which pop up frequently throughout the day.  There's no planned itinerary - just catch them when you can.     Here's the infamous 'Judge Jefferies'.                                  
 
                                                                  

And here's what is not open to the public - but really should be!  The top of the Beauchamp Tower, in which now live the Yeoman Warders, The Queens House, (built for Anne Boleyn but unfinished during her reign.  Prisoners include Katherine Howard, Lady Jane Grey, Guy Fawkes and Rudolf Hesse), the Bell Tower.  The Bell Tower is divided by a floor but you cannot access both floors from inside the Bell Tower - there are no stairs.  Imprisoned here were Thomas More, Thomas Fisher and  Elizabeth Ist as a princess.  As far as I can recall, this Tower does open very rarely - in all my many visits, it's only been opened once.  Number 11 would be the Medieval palace - perhaps I should make it joint 10th?   I've also blogged about this in the past.  And, amazingly, not on my list are the crown jewels - I've seen them about 3 times, but they hold very little interest for me.

Here's the official link to the Tower website -

TowerOfLondon

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

June 19th - death of Piers Gaveston

My last post dealt with the capture of Piers by the Earl of Warwick.  Piers must surely have known that his fate was sealed.  On the morning of June 19th, Piers was taken from Warwick Castle some 2 miles towards Kenilworth.  It seems Thomas of Lancaster wanted Piers executed on his lands, not Warwick's.  Warwick himself did not attend the execution - no reason is given.  Lancaster waited whilst Piers was lead to the top of Blacklow Hill, where he was slain by 2 Welshmen - one plunged his sword into Piers' body, whilst the other cut off his head.  Lancaster insisted on seeing the head to ensure Piers was dead.  I do wonder why neither Warwick or Lancaster didn't observe the execution - or rather murder - of Piers.  After all, they hated him and his insulting nick-names for them.  Did they have a pang of conscience?  Unlikely, but it was one thing to condemn him to death in a farce of a trial and then to witness it.  I'm also intrigued as to why neither took charge of his body.  Lancaster and his retainers just left it there.  One chronicle, the Annales Londonienses, says 4 shoemakers recovered it, sewed the head back on, and took it on a ladder to the Earl of Warwick, who refused to admit it.  They then took it back to Blacklow Hill, where some Dominican Friars took care of it and returned it to the king at Oxford.  It was to be some time before Edward could bury his beloved Piers, who had died excommunicate.  

I shall raise a glass to Piers, and I hope Kathryn doesn't mind me posting her tribute to Piers from her blog - I can't think of a better one.

Piers Gaveston, a Notorious Royal Favourite


Piers Gaveston - only about thirty at the time of his death - was by no means a vicious or cruel man. He was handsome, athletic, bright, flamboyant, arrogant, and supremely confident (over-confident). He gave Edward the confidence that the young king lacked. In later centuries, Piers was often used as a salutary warning against kings' favourites, which has tended to obscure his own personality. He was about as far from the stereotypical image of him as an effeminate, perfumed court fop as it's possible to be: he was a very successful military leader in Ireland, King of the Joust, who could knock any man off his horse almost at will, a soldier as early as 1297 when he might only have been fourteen, or probably sixteen at the most.

It's difficult to see what he did to merit the death penalty, and I find it easy to imagine that the men who killed him were horrified by later events, when Piers was replaced in Edward's affections by men who were far worse.

A ruby worth the staggering sum of £1000 - perhaps a million or two in modern money - was found on Piers' body after his death. He was also famous for owning silver forks, for eating pears. Let it never be said that the man was lacking in style.



Saturday, 8 June 2013

Countdown to the death of Piers Gaveston

In my last post, I dealt with the capture of Piers Gaveston after he surrendered to, amongst other, Amyer de Valance, the Earl of Pembroke.  He had surrendered on good terms - he was taken to York where Edward II was, and there an agreement was made that the barons would negotiate with Edward II to reach some sort of agreement, and if no agreement was made, Piers was to be returned to Scarborough by August 1st.   At the worst, he probably expected another exile.  Pembroke swore an oath that Piers would stay in his custody and that he would protect him,  agreeing to forfeit all of his property if any harm were to befall him.  So favourable were the terms of his surrender, that one comtemporary chronicle described the arrangement as the virtual submission of the nobles to Edward and Piers. There were also rumours that Edward had given Pembroke £1,000 to keep Piers safe.    Pembroke decided to head south.

On June 9th, Pembroke reached Deddington in Oxfordshire.  He made arrangements for Piers to stay at the rector's house, leaving him with a small retinue of guards.  Pembroke then headed to his manor at Bampton, so that he could visit his wife.  I wonder why he didn't take Piers with him?  It was a huge mistake on Pembroke's part.  Somehow, Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, and Piers' sworn enemy - his 'black dog of Arden' - learned of the plans and pounced.  The chronicler of Vita Edwardi Secundi describes what happened.

'Coming to the village early one Saturday, he entered the gate of the courtyard and surrounded the chamber.  Then the earl called out in a loud voice: 'Arise traitor, thou art taken'.  When Piers heard this, seeing that the earl was there with a superior force and that his own guard did not resist, he dressed himself and came down.  In this fashion Piers was taken and led forth not as an earl but as a thief; and he who used to ride on a palfrey is now forced to go on foot.

When they had left the village behind a little, the earl ordered piers to be given a nag that they might proceed more quickly.  Blaring trumpets followed Piers and the horrid cry of the populance.  They had taken off his belt of knighthood, and asa thief and traitor, he was taken to Warwick, and coming there was cast into prison.  He whom Piers called Warwick the Dog has now bound Piers with chains'.

Falling into the hand of Warwick was the worst think that could have happened to Piers - and I'm sure he recognised this.  Pembroke's role in the affair has been questioned - did he collude with Warwick?  By his actions after the death of Piers, I very much doubt it.  He had sworn an oath to keep Piers safe, and he to must have realised the danger of Piers falling into Warwick's clutches.  Warwick no doubt relished humiliating Piers, gleefully leading him on foot from Deddington, and much as he would have liked to make Piers walk the whole way, he needed to make all haste to get Piers inside Warwick castle, and hence placed Piers on 'a nag'. 

Warwick castle has a dungeon which you can visit, and a tower above it.  I would like to think of Piers being kept in the tower, but knowing how vindictive Warwick could be, he probably placed him in the dungeon. 

Pembroke was furious at what what Warwick had done, and did his best to try to regain custody of Piers.  Warwick seems to have bided his time until he could consult with some of the other magnates.  Pembroke appealed to Piers' brother-in-law, Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester, to intercede.  Gloucester's response was defend Warwick's actions and inform Pembroke 'He did this with our aid and counsel'.  One can only imagine how Edward II must have felt. 

Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, arrived at Warwick alongside other nobles, to decide Piers' fate.  Lancaster clearly wanted Piers dead - 'while he lives there will be no safe peace in the realm of England'.  Piers was given a 'show trial', with the outcome already decided.  Lancaster and Warwick merely made a pretence of giving Piers his say.  The decision was made, and Piers sentenced to death.  The Vita describes how Piers was given the news. Warwick

 'sent a sharp-tongued message to Piers, telling him to look to his soul, because this was the last day he would see on earth.   (Piers replied)  'Oh! Where are the presents that brought me so many intimate friends, and with which I had thought to have sufficient power?  Where are my friends, in whom was my trust, the protection of my body, and the whole hope of my safety.......They has promised to stand by me in war, to suffer imprisonment, and not to shun death.  Indeed my pride, the arrogance that one single promise of theirs is nourished, the king's favour and the king's court, have brought me to this sorry plight.  I have no help, every remedy is vain, let the will of the earls be done'.

The Vita clearly believes Piers' rise and downfall was the result of patronage.  The sentence was to be carried out on June 19th.

Source: 'Piers Gaveston, Politics and Patronage in the reign of Edward II'. 

Sunday, 19 May 2013

May 19th - anniversary of the day Piers Gaveston surrendered at Scarborough Castle.

After returning from his third exile in early January, 1312, (or perhaps even earlier, at Christmas 1311), it would only be a matter of time before Piers Gaveston faced the wrath of the nobles.  He had, in total, been banished 3 times, and the last time, the Vita had accused him of  leading the king astray and having  'counselled him badly and persuaded him deceitfully and in many ways to do evil…Piers Gaveston, as a public enemy of the king and of the kingdom, shall be utterly cast out and exiled, not only from England, but from Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Gascony, and from every land as well beyond the sea as on this side of the sea subject to the lordship of the king of England, for ever and without return.'   Piers probably returned to see his newly born daughter Joan, and his wife, Margaret de Clare.  Naturally, a reunion with Edward II was on the cards, meeting probably at Knaresborough.  The nobles were enraged, particularly when Edward revoked the judgement against Piers and restored his lands and titles.   They prepared for war.

In early May, Piers and Edward parted.  Edward headed for York, whilst Piers headed for Scarborough castle which he had begun to prepare for a siege.  The siege did not last long, and Piers surrendered to, amongst others,  Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke.   The terms of the surrender were favourable to Piers.  Pembroke would take Piers to York, where the barons would negotiate with the king. If an agreement could not be reached by 1 August, Piers would be allowed to return to Scarborough. An oath to guarantee Piers' safety.    After an initial meeting with the king in York, Piers was left in the custody of Pembroke, who escorted him south for safekeeping.   From then, things were about to go tragically wrong.

There is a legend that the ghost of a headless Piers haunts Scarborough Castle and tries to 'push' visitors over the battlements.   Hmmmm, I just can't imagine Piers wanting to appear without his handsome head!

Scarborough Castle

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Suzannah Lipscomb's theories on Anne Boleyn

The highlight of the BBC's Talk Tudor day for me was Suzannah Lipscomb's theory on the fall of Anne Boleyn.  Later this month the BBC will show a drama/documentary on Anne's fall in which Suzannah takes part, and she recently wrote the cover article for April's BBC History magazine on Anne Boleyn.  This post is a short precis on the theories highlighted by Suzannah.

1.  That Anne was actually guilty.  There is no credible evidence for this, and the only historian who seriously considers Anne to be guilty is G W Bernard.  His recent book was titled 'Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions'.  Snappy title, but with weak arguments for Anne's guilt.  Bernard seems to be saying there was 'no smoke without fire' and thus condemns Anne.  Even though the dates Anne was supposed to have committed adultery prove it impossible for her to have done so, Bernard even tries to make the argument that the actual dates don't really matter.

2.  Thomas Cromwell conspired with the Seymours to displace Anne with Jane Seymour, and Anne's fall was the result of faction.   Anne supposedly found out that Cromwell was syphoning off money from dissolved monasteries.  This theory was the foundation of the recent Howard Brenton play 'Anne Boleyn'.  Lipscomb discards this theory in that she feels it represents Henry as a king easily manipulated by his ministers and courtiers.

3.  That Henry had tired of Anne, especially after her recent miscarriages, (although we don't know how many she had, and the report that the last one had been deformed can be discounted as being invented by the anti-Elizabeth  Catholic Nicholas Sander), fallen in love with Jane Seymour and asked Thomas Cromwell to rid him of Anne.  This is the theory that I have always subscribed to.  I think Anne's age, and I think she was born in 1502, would have been against her in 1536, and having miscarried on possibly as many as 3 babies,  Henry had tired of her, and his infatuation burnt out, decided to break from her.  He didn't want to jeopardise any future children with Jane Seymour, and so it wasn't enough for Anne to be divorced, she had to die.  She would never have gone quietly.  The fact that Henry would allow himself to be seen as a cuckolded husband I put down to the choice and number of victims - that Anne was so full of lust, and so vile, no man was safe from her - a lowly musician, Henry's friends, and worst of all, her own brother.

4.  Lipscomb believes that having been told by Thomas Cromwell there was gossip about his Queen, spread by Elizabeth, Lady Worcester, Henry instructed Cromwell to investigate, with the warning that should the gossip be untrue, he would destroy those who had spread malicious stories about Anne.  This was certainly an incentive for Cromwell to 'find' evidence.  What I find interesting about this theory is Lipscomb's take on Jane Seymour.  There is evidence that Henry paid court to ladies of the court, and may have taken some as his mistress.  Jane Seymour, by rejecting Henry in the first instance, became an idealised love for Henry - in the game of courtly love.  Lipscomb believes Henry was not serious about her.  And there is evidence that Anne's fall was sudden - and she had been in as much favour as ever with Henry in April 1536.  Having been charged with finding evidence against Anne on pain of death, Cromwell made certain he found it, even if he invented it.  The crux of Lipscomb's argument is the fall-out Anne had with Henry Norris, one of Henry's loyal friends.  Chiding him for not marrying one of her ladies, Anne is reported to have said 'you look for dead men's shoes, for if ought came to the king, you would look to have me'.  Playing her own games of courtly love, Anne had gone too far.  Norris was appalled at what she said.  Anne herself regretted what she had said in the Tower.  It was treason to even 'imagine' the king's death, whilst Anne had actually spoken of it.  It is this conversation that Lipscomb feels tipped Henry over the edge.  After abruptly leaving the May day celebrations, Henry questioned Norris himself - there is a story he even offered Norris his life if he confessed.  Norris would not.  Lipscomb feels that this conversation did not convince Henry - in fact, it had the opposite effect, and he became convinced Anne was guilty.  Lipscomb feels that Henry married Jane Seymour on the re-bound - he was certainly heard to regret his marriage when commenting there were other beautiful ladies at the court and he had married too hastily.  Hmmm, so Henry could play courtly love games, but not Anne!

Despite the countless books, films, tv programmes, we still don't know why Anne Boleyn fell.  Evidence has either been destroyed or lost.  I still think theory number 3 the most obvious, but look forward to reading more about theory number 4.  I asked Suzannah Lipscomb if she intended to write her own book on Anne Boleyn, but she said no.  I really think she should!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

BBC’s Talking Tudor Day


On Sunday,  April 28th I attended the BBC’s Talking Tudor event at the M shed museum in Bristol.  It was organised in conjunction with BBC history magazine, and sold out very quickly.  It was the chance to meet 6 acclaimed historians who have written about the Tudors.  They all gave a talk for about 35 minutes on various topics.  These were –

·         Chris Skidmore, author of ‘Bosworth’, ‘Edward VI’ and ‘Death and the Virgin’ (all of which I have).  He was there to talk about Bosworth and the birth of the Tudor dynasty.

·         Thomas Penn, author of the brilliant ‘Henry VII, the Winter King’, one of my recommended books.  He gave a talk on aspects of Henry VII financial policies.

·         Robert Hutchinson, author of books on Thomas Cromwell, the early and later life of Henry VIII and a very good book on Walsingham, Elizabeth’s spymaster, (again, I have all these).  He spoke about the Spanish Armada.

·         Suzannah Lipscombe, author of ‘1536, the year that changed Henry VIII’  a very good insight into Henry VIII’s character, and ‘A Visitor’s Companion  to Tudor England’.   Her focus was ‘The Anne Boleyn controversies’ (she’d written an article for the magazine in March).

·         Steven Gunn -  who has done research into accidents to ‘ordinary’ Tudor folk, and who assisted Chris Skidmore in his book on Amy Robsart by finding the documents on her inquest.

·         Anna Whitelock, author of a new book on Elizabeth 1st, and the only one I did not have a book by.

The event was very well attended and each historian gave a talk and then took questions.  I enjoyed all the talks given by the historians,  and in particular the talk by Suzannah Lipscombe on Anne Boleyn, although I don’t necessarily agree on her conclusion as to why Anne had to die.   All were very engaging, and I surprisingly enjoyed Steven Gunn’s presentation about accidental death in Tudor times – it gave a good insight into the dangers of work faced by ordinary folk, be it falling from a tree to shake down acorns for pigs to feed on, to toppling into a stream trying to gather large leaves in order to put freshly baked loaves on to cool.  Particularly moving were the accounts of those accidents involving children,  for example a 9 year old child being taught how to handle a cart by his father, getting carried away and the cart over-turning, and the little girl making mud pies who fell back into a ditch. 

Of course, in choosing the Tudors, the BBC picked a ‘hot topic’, but it is to be hoped they carry on with these events.

 

 

Friday, 19 April 2013

Inside Tewkesbury Abbey

My last post focused on the battle of Tewkesbury in 1471, and as promised, here are some pictures from inside the Abbey.   It's a remarkable place when you consider who is buried there.  This brass plaque marks the resting place of the Lancastrian Prince of Wales, Edward, son of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou. He is buried near the altar but it is not known exactly where.
 
It isn't known if the prince was killed in battle or executed shortly afterwards.  One account mentions him seeking mercy from his treacherous brother-in-law, George, Duke of Clarence, brother of Edward IV.   George was married to the Earl of Warwick's elder daughter, whilst the prince had married the younger, Anne Neville, who would of course go on to marry Edward and George's younger brother, Richard, then Duke of Gloucester, later King.  Another account has the captured prince being brought before Edward IV and defiantly claiming his birthright.  Edward then allegedly struck him and his men then fell upon the prince and killed him.  Whatever happened, IMO, there was no way Edward would have left Tewkesbury alive.
 
 
Ironically, Clarence himself ended up being buried at Tewkesbuy when he again fell foul of his brother Edward.  Grief-stricken over the death of his duchess, Isabel, in childbirth, Clarence hanged the servant who had cared for her without any trial and antagonised the king.  He was arrested, taken to the Tower of London, and legend has it, drowned in a butt of malmsey wine.  His remains, and those of his duchess, are kept in a vault under Tewkesbury Abbey and there is no access.  They are contained in a glass case, and recently, research into them has claimed they may not be his remains as they appear to be of someone much older.  Edward IV and his brother George were completely ruthless, and it therefore makes sense to me that their younger brother Richard was influenced by them and was equally, if not more, ruthless than them.  
 

The grating that covers the resting place of George and his wife, Isabel, the plaque explaining their burial arrangements, and a picture of the glass case containing their remains.  You cannot see this glass case through the grill.




 
 
The Abbey is also the resting place for the many of the de Clare and Despencer families.  Eleanor de Clare was the niece of Edward II, and was married to Hugh Despencer, the later favourite of Edward II (after the murder of Piers Gaveston of course).  To find out more about Despencer, read Kathryn's well-researched blog Edward II,  here   For some reason, his tomb has another sarcophagus placed on top of it.
 


 
 
 


Thursday, 11 April 2013

Tales of Tewkesbury

I've been to Tewkesbury about 3 times in the last 4 years.  Before that, I hadn't been for quite some time.  My interest in the place was re-ignited after reading Susan Higginbotham's novel 'The Queen of Last Hope', about Margaret of Anjou.  Of course, it was at Tewkesbury that Margaret's last hope was lost - her 17 year-old son was killed at the battle, and her husband Henry VI 'died' in the Tower of London shortly after and Margaret herself was taken captive.  You can read about the battle here -
Battle of Tewkesbury .

Last Year, I decided to walk the battlefield - easier said than done!  I naively assumed it would be well sign-posted and there would be plenty of others walking the route on a sunny July day.  This was mainly because I'd walked Bosworth and that walk was well signposted with lots of information and the standards of those taking part were flying so you could gauge what it might have been like.   It turned out to be just me, which was unfortunate, because I have huge problems reading maps - and very few signposts or even memorials.  It took me through a huge housing estate, pass a  graveyard, (not form the time of the battle), across the main road into Tewkesbury, onto a hew housing estate, through a very muddy field, pass local government offices and then through a small wooded area.  I was trying to get an idea of the battle - the camp of Queen Margaret etc, but it proved very difficult, and signposts were few and far between.  Anyway, it took me a good hour.  I only passed one memorial and the odd plaque.  Strangely enough, the lasting memorial to the battle is on the new housing estate - the names of the roads are called 'Battle Way', 'Meadow Road', etc, and I wonder if the people living there realised the view from their windows was of 'bloody meadow'.  My imagination running away from me, I wondered if they ever heard anything at night.  Maybe they know nothing of what happened there.

I did a short study of the battle for my dissertation, and being the staunch Lancastrian I am,  was appalled at the behaviour of the Yorkists after the battle - dragging Lancastrians from the sanctuary of Tewkesbury Abbey (which was an important fact for me in my study of Richard III - the Yorkists were no respectors of sanctuary, and Elizabeth Woodville must have known if she did not hand over her younger son to Richard III, he wouldn't hesitate to break the sanctuary at Westminster Abbey),  and executed them without trial.  I'll re-visit this in another post.  There's a memorial to those victims in Tewkesbury.  In the meantime, here are some of my photos.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The latter picture shows the memorial in the town centre.  The museum is  worth a visit, as it has some artifacts from the battle - but don't expect too much.  The town is a pretty town and is known as the town with the flags as it flies all the colours of those who took part in the battle.  I find it quite ironic that the Abbey contains the remains of George, Duke of Clarence and his brother-in-law, Edward, the Lancastrian Prince of Wales.  It is also the final resting place of Hugh Despencer, the younger. I'll post pictures from inside the Abbey next time.
 
 



Monday, 1 April 2013

The Prince in the Pay and Display

Just got back from Tewkesbury and have exciting news regarding the burial and discovery of the remains of Edward, Prince of Wales, son of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou, killed in the battle of Tewkesbury 1471.  I took these pictures from the window of the John Moore museum in Tewkesbury, and as a staunch Lancastrian,  rushed in and congratulated the museum attendant.  The pictures speak for themselves.



I do hope you are all able to read the writing and see the pictures clearly.  Clicking on the pictures should enlarge them.  What a wonderful day to be in Tewkesbury, Monday, APRIL 1st.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Liebster Blog Award

Many thanks to  Kathryn  for giving me a Liebster (German for 'favourite') Blog Award!  It's going to be tough for me!

The rules of the Liebster Award are as follows :

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog and link back to the blogger who presented this award to you.
2. Answer the 11 questions from the nominator, list 11 random facts about yourself and create 11 questions for your nominees.
3. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 11 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen.
4. Copy and Paste the blog award on your blog.

So here goes with answering the Kathryn's questions -
1. What's your favourite novel and what do you love about it?

I'm afraid I have to go with one of the most popular novels of all time - 'Wuthering Heights' by Emily Bronte.  I studied it for A Level English, and have read it so many times since.  I love the use of the different narrators to tell the story - Nelly Dean, and the total outsider, Lockwood.  The speech where Cathy talks about her love for Heathcliff  is so powerful, and reveals for me how egotistical Cathy is.  I'm afraid I have very little sympathy for her.  I visited Bronte Parsonage last year, and was quite moved to see the fantasy world invented by the sisters.

2.  Do you have any pet peeves in historical fiction?

Where do I start?  I'm appreciative of interpretation, but when I get people telling me 'The Other Boleyn Girl' is a true story, and see Phillippa Gregory on chat shows talking how it could be possible Mary Boleyn's children were Henry VIII's, I seriously lose it.  I also hate lazy stereotyping whenever Piers Gaveston and Edward II are written about.  They are usually effeminate and weak, when in fact Piers was a knight who was praised for his graceful manners and had fought in wars and tournaments and clearly knew how to, whilst Edward enjoyed outdoor pursuits, clearly didn't mind getting his hands dirty and must have been extremely fit.  And coming back again to interpretation - the idea of Piers as some rent boy is too ridiculous for words!

3.  What are you most proud of?

Passing my driving test - yes, really.  Never had problems with anything academic - A levels, BA degree, Post grad diploma - but trying to pass my driving test was a nightmare - 3 attempts!  I'm afraid I have poor spacial awareness.

4.  Your favourite and least favourite people in history? (As few or as many as you like!)
Hmm, favs first - Anne Boleyn, Piers Gaveston, Thomas Cranmer, Thomas Cromwell, Henry VII, Katherine Parr, Edward II, King John, Prince Arthur (Tudors).

Least fav - Richard III, without a doubt!  Thomas of Lancaster,  Thomas More.

5.  The country, city or other place you'd most like to visit?

Moscow, and any country in South America.

6.  Which five people would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?

Anne Boleyn, Piers Gaveston, Edward II, Henry VIII and George, Duke of Clarence.

7.  Facebook or Twitter or neither?

neither - they cause alot of problems for people, and Twitter in particular seems so banal.

8.  What's one of your goals for the future?

To finally complete my Masters.

9.  What's your favourite season?

Autumn

10.  Dogs or cats or neither?

Cats, without a doubt.

11.  What's your favourite hobby?

Reading, when I get time.  If I can't give at least an hour to reading, I don't really bother.  Nothing like a 3 hour reading session - I just don't get enough time.


11 random facts, eh?  OK, here I go.

I live in Wales and wish I spoke 'proper Welsh'.

I'd love to take up horse-riding.

From the age of 10, I read every Jean Plaidy novel I could get my hands on - my fav being 'Murder Most Royal'.

If I won the lottery I'd open a small animal sanctuary.

Best holiday I ever had was in Cuba on the revolutionary trail.

Best castle I've visited - Warwick.

Best tv series ever for me is Blackadder, and I quote it endlessly.

My favourite music to listen to is the New Romantics from the early 1980s.

I'm a member of the Royal Historical Palaces society, and my most visited place is the Tower of London.

My favourite period of history is Tudor, and it's the one I know most about.  It's also the one I'm most disappointed in, in novels and 'factual' works - it's just so exploited and to have factual books about 'Mary Boleyn' and 'The Early Loves of Anne Boleyn' when there is so little information is just silly.  I tend to buy them, read them, and then discover I've learnt absolutely nothing new as it's all full of 'maybes, possibly', and I vow never to buy again - and then I do! 

My degree was in Medieval history, with the main focus on the Anjevin Empire and Medieval Peasant Revolts (Bohemia, Florence and Britain).

Now here's where I come unstuck - I don't know 11 blogs who haven't already been awarded the Liebster Award!  Sorry!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

snippet of news on Edward II in BBC History magazine

The March issue of the BBC History magazine is consumed by the discovery of Richard III's skeleton and it's impact on history.  Mark Ormrod has written an article in which he questions whether the same investigations might now be carried on other royal burials.  The obvious one would be the urn in Westminster Abbey containing the bones of 'the little princes', but both the Queen and the Abbey say they have no reason to doubt they are the bones of the princes, and any examination would not answer any questions we might have.  Ormrod actually suggests something which has crossed my mind - an investigation into the tomb of Edward II, to discover whether -

1.  the body contained in it is Edward II

2.  and if so, the age of the king when he died.

This obviously stems from the story that Edward II survived after 13 27, and the body in the tomb is either a substitute or in fact Edward interred at a later date.  I obviously appreciate respect is needed for the opening/investigating of royal tombs, but the mystery of the possible survival of Edward II is as exciting to me as 'the princes in the Tower'.  Ian Mortimer and Kathryn on her superb blog - 
Death of Edward II - make a strong case that Edward did indeed survive, and one of the most compelling arguments for me is the fact that his son, Edward III, did not visit his father's tomb for many years, and it begs the question, why?   Because he knew the tomb did not contain his father's body?  and when he did visit, was it because his father had really died then and he was attending the actual funeral?  makes sense to me.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

My conversation with the future Edward II

Yes, you read that right!  Over the weekend, I managed to have  a small conversation with Prince Edward, the future Edward II, at the Tower of London.  As a member of the Historic  Royal Palaces group, you pay a one-off fee for a year and can visit 5 royal palaces as many times as you like.  It comes in handy whenever I'm in London because even if I have just a couple of hours to spare, I'll pop to the Tower. I  headed there for a couple of hours this weekend, and decided to head for the Medieval Palace Exhibition.  It focuses on Henry III and Edward Ist.  The Tower has several 'characters' who frequent parts of the Tower at different times.  They are not advertised as such, and you can never be sure who you will come across.  They are not always 'popular' characters either - no Anne Boleyn, Guy Fawkes or lady Jane Grey.  I've 'met' James, Duke of Monmouth's wife and Judge Jeffries in the past.  So I was very surprised to meet Prince Edward and his sister playing a board game in St Thomas' Tower.  The great thing about these characters is that they don't perform as such, they just stay in character, and I'm always amused by the public reaction - especially children, who either are fascinated or frightened!

Anyway, this day, 3 young children and some adults were mesmerised by Edward and his sister playing a board game.  I wasn't sure who these characters were meant to be - possibly Edward Ist and Eleanor of Castile crossed my mind, but I soon made out from listening to the conversation they were brother and sister.  So I decided to ask them, and enquired if they were royalty (you HAVE to play along, as it's so much fun!), and possibly a king.  The prince replied that he was only a prince and this was his sister and they were waiting for their father, King Edward, and I got rather excited and said 'So you're Edward II?'  'Well, not yet, but I hope to be'.  I couldn't believe the Tower was choosing Edward II - yes, a so-called 'unpopular,' 'bad', king, to use as a character!  And no mention of a red, hot poker either!  Both characters clearly understood their roles and knew the history.  Needless to say, some fun was to be had here, so I engaged in a conversation with them.  Having found out Edward was still  prince, it went like this -

'So where's your friend Piers today?  has he been banished?'

Prince - 'No, he's not here'.

Princess - 'no, shhh! not yet!  That's still a year or 2 off.  Although this might be the time to tell him what we're planning'.

Prince - 'every time I try and carry on with my duties, someone has to keep mentioning him'.

Me - 'I'm completely on your side, your Grace'.

Prince, beaming - 'are you?  What think you sister of those who speak against him?'.

Princess - 'well, dear brother, there are those who think you favour him too much when they themselves are loyal and have wise words for you'.

Prince - 'they are merely jealous of him and seek to separate us with lies'.

Me - 'yes, they are jealous because you are such special friends, and they are greedy and want honours from you themselves.  They just don't understand you'.

Prince - 'I am glad of your support'.

Princess - 'but they are wise and loyal men to our father who have your best interests at heart....'

Prince - 'Silence! I am the Prince and will hear no more against him'.

Princess - 'then let us continue with our game'.

I wished the Prince well, and told him I didn't think he had long to wait for the throne, that he should trust Piers but beware his future wife, and left them to their game. 

A fed-up Prince Edward wonders how he can get of of this boring game and go for a dip in the Thames with Piers!
 
'I may as well just let her win and get back to Piers'.