Thursday, 20 February 2014

On this day.......





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.

4 comments:

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

Fascinating post, Anerje! With the king and queen present, the churching of Margaret must have been a really grand affair. I never knew that if a child died the mother was still expected to go through the ceremony.

Kathryn Warner said...

Great post! I also didn't know that the ceremony went ahead even if the child died (and how sad that must have been...). I hope they all enjoyed themselves, and I'm glad they didn't know what fate had in store four months later :/

Anerje said...

Thanks Kasia and Kathryn - oddly enough, I've been reading Alison Weir's 'Elizabeth of York' bio and she goes into great detail about birth customs, so I did a bit of digging. It must have been a wonderful celebration and a happy time for all.

Anerje said...
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