Thursday, 20 February 2014
In my last post, I dealt with the birth of Piers Gaveston’s daughter Joan, probably on January 12th. Joan’s mother was of course Piers’ wife, Margaret de Clare. February 20th is the anniversary of Margaret de Clare’s, ‘churching’.
The ‘churching’ of a woman was an important occasion and a time of celebration. It was a thanksgiving ceremony that took place 40 days after the birth of the child – a sort of thanksgiving ceremony for the survival of the mother. Even if the child did not survive it was still expected the mother would be ‘churched’.
In pre-Reformation days, it was the tradition in Catholic England for women to carry lighted tapers when being churched. This was symbolic in that it alluded to the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary. At her churching, a woman was expected to make some offering the church.
Margaret would have followed the tradition, waiting 40 days until she re-appeared in public – and be allowed back to worship in Church.
Not surprisingly, Edward II was delighted with the birth – especially as it meant that it brought Piers back to England. And of course, Joan was his great-niece. For Margaret’s ‘churching’ he spent the equivalent of £40 on celebrations, which included minstrels. Queen Isabella also attended. It must have been a very happy time for Edward and Piers – little did they know what tragedy lay ahead in June of that year.