Friday, 10 January 2014

January 1312 - birth of Joan Gaveston


During the second week of January, Margaret de Clare, wife of Piers Gaveston, gave birth to their first and only child, a daughter named Joan.  She was named Joan after Edward II’s sister, Joan of Acre, who was the mother of Margaret de Clare.  At the time of her birth,  Piers was enduring his third banishment from England, imposed by the nobility on Edward II in the Ordinances of the previous year.   Joan was born in York, and doubtless Piers desperately wanted to see his wife and newborn daughter.  Ignoring the Ordinances, Piers returned to England (although there is speculation that he had actually never left, and that he merely laid low somewhere in England).   It seems Piers saw his wife and child on January 13th.  This visit set in motion the chain of events that would end in the murder of Piers.

It’s unknown how long Piers intended to stay.  The choice of Edward II bringing Margaret de Clare to York from Piers' residence in Wallingford, may have been to keep Piers and his wife and child as far away as possible from his enemies, and give them as much time together as possible.  Piers could have taken his wife and child with him back into exile.  However, Edward II thought differently.  Less than a week later, on January 18th, Edward  declared that Piers was a loyal friend and restored his title Earl of Cornwall. 
 It’s intriguing to think about what Edward and Piers discussed during that period.  Indeed, did they make plans for a more permanent return from exile before Piers even began his exile, and arrange his return when his wife gave birth?  Did he actually ever leave England? Or did Edward persuade Piers to stay only when he met him in January 1312?  Or maybe it was Piers who asked Edward to allow him to stay?  It’s something we’ll never know, and I have to wonder if both Edward and Piers knew how serious the situation was.  Giving Piers his title of earl of Cornwall back was highly inflammatory.  Whatever their plans and thoughts,  Piers was surely delighted to be re-united with his wife and see his baby daughter, as no doubt Margaret de Clare was pleased to see him.

9 comments:

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

It's very interesting indeed, but, as you've pointed out, we can only speculate. I'm sure that Edward wouldn't have given the title to Piers, had he realised how serious the situation was.

Which version do you find more probable: the one that Piers never left or the one that he came back very soon?

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

Happy Birthday to Joan!

Anerje said...

Hi Kasia, it 's one of the times I'd like to have been a fly on the wall! It's simply not known where Piers went in his third exile - Gascony was forbidden to him, I can hardly see him heading to France - the lowlands have been mentioned. If he did stay in England, Edward must have known. And he did get back relatively quickly after his daughter's birth. But I do wonder what his long term intention was - and when it was made.

Anerje said...

It wouldn't surprise me if he did lie low in England, actually. But then what was his intention after the birth - to take his wife and child into exile, leave by himself and continue into exile and negotiate a legitimate return - and I wonder if the nobles would have been more tolerant had Edward not restored his title. I need Kathryn's input on this!

Kathryn Warner said...

Great post, Anerje! I wonder if Piers spent his third exile in Flanders? The Vita Edwardi Secundi and the St Albans chronicle say he was there, and the Annales Paulini say Bruges specifically. Maybe he sought refuge with Edward's sister Margaret and her husband Duke John II of Brabant (Edward wrote to them in October 1311 asking them to receive Piers). On the other hand, I wouldn't be at all surprised either if Piers did hide out in Cornwall, as the Ordainers thought, with Edward's knowledge and consent!

I also wonder if Piers intended just to slip into England, Yorkshire specifically, for a short time, for the birth of his and Margaret's child. Then Edward, deciding he couldn't stand to live without Piers any more, restored his earldom and lands and had it proclaimed that Piers was 'good and loyal' and was going to remain in the country, thankyouverymuch. Edward was clearly in a state of high emotion over it (as you'd expect), as evidenced by a memorandum appended to the restoration of Cornwall to Piers on the Close Roll: “these writs were made in the king’s presence by his order under threat of grievous forfeiture.” That sounds to me like Edward pacing around his clerks' room screaming threats at them when they were reluctant to write out the writs. :-) The revoking of Piers' exile was written in French, not the usual Latin, which implies to me that Edward himself dictated or drafted it.

And I also wonder (I wonder many things about this whole situation, haha), when it was decided between Edward and Piers when Piers would return, and how/when they arranged to meet in Yorkshire, far away from their enemies. Did Edward make the decision to revoke Piers' exile unilaterally, perhaps even without Piers' wish, or whole-hearted wish? With hindsight, knowing the tragedy that came of it, it seems foolish and intensely provocative, but I think it demonstrates Edward's intense love for Piers, his yearning to be with him, his inability to live without him. And his inability or unwillingness to care about the consequences of his actions in January 1312.

Anerje said...

Hi Kathryn, knew you'd have a lot of knowledge and ideas. This started as a post about Joan Gaveston and has now sparked a new debate for me. By Lowlands I meant Flanders. It makes sense he would go there, or Bruges, specifically, especially as Edward asked his sister for help. But then he might have been bluffing or changed his mind , and felt it best Piers lie low in England. They must have agreed Piers would come back at the time of the birth of his child - but I get the feeling if Piers was lying low in England, Lancaster and co would have found out. I'm surprised they didn't frogmarch him on the boat and accompany him part of the way!

Undoubtedly Edward and Piers decided they would be re-united at some point, and after being separated and then re-united at a happy event, maybe emotions took over. Piers seems to have inspired Edward in confidence, and just maybe, he thought along the lines of 'to he'll with it' . There seems to have been no attempt at appeasement as you say - Edward just revoked his exile.

It's only because we know what happened that we think 'what on earth were they thinking?'


Anerje said...

Think I'll be blogging more on this subject soon!

Gabriele C. said...

Well, Robert the Bruce was hiding in a cave, so why not Piers. :-)

But I think it's indeed more plausible that he went into exile and snuck back to England for a short time, and then Edward didn't want to let him go again.

Anerje said...

LOL Gabriele - maybe he even saw a spider spinning a web and decided to try again:>