Sunday, 1 June 2014
Countdown to the death of Piers Gaveston, part 1.
May 19th, 1312, had seen the surrender by Piers Gaveston at Scarborough Castle. Initially, Piers and Edward II had agreed that Piers would stay at Scarborough Castle and prepare for a siege, whilst Edward would do his best to rally support. For whatever reason, (and I’ll discuss this in another post), there was no long term siege.
Piers had surrendered to Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, and the Earl of Surrey, after returning without permission from his third exile. The terms of the surrender were most favourable to Piers (the most likely reason he surrendered, maybe). Pembroke would take Piers to St Mary’s Abbey in York, where it was hoped the king, Edward, and either Thomas of Lancaster or his someone chosen by him, would come to an agreement about Piers. If an agreement could not be reached by 1 August, Piers would be allowed to return to Scarborough. Pembroke, Surrey and Percy of Northumberland swore an oath that they would protect Piers and return him unharmed to Scarborough. All 3 promised to forfeit their property if they broke the oath. Piers himself swore that he would not try to influence the king. Edward and Piers surely had no doubt such a serious oath would be kept.
When Pembroke arrived in York, there is no mention of Lancaster being present. Seymour Phillips, in his biography of Edward II, says the lack of Lancaster being mentioned may mean that Pembroke had not consulted the other nobles when agreeing to the surrender of Piers. This could well be true, as the terms of the surrender were so favourable, and Lancaster, and Guy of Warwick, may have felt they were not bound by the agreement. The chronicler of the Vita Edwardi Secundi says that Edward was playing for time, and hoped to ensure the support of his Queen’s father, Philip of France, and the Pope, who would come to his aid and help to save Piers.
There’s no mention of whether Edward and Piers met for the last time at York. In fact, we don’t even know if Pembroke took Piers to York. Edward must surely have been relieved that Piers was in the custody of someone like Pembroke, and having sworn to protect Piers, Edward now assumed his efforts could be fully focused on finding a way to keep Piers with him and to appease his barons. Of course, his plans came to nothing, as by June 19th, Piers had been killed. In my next post, I’ll look more in depth at the role of Pembroke’s oath and actions.