Monday, 9 June 2014

June 10th – capture of Piers Gaveston by Guy of Warwick


Today marks the anniversary of the ambush and capture of Piers Gaveston by his deadly enemy, Guy, Earl of Warwick.  This was a disaster for Piers, Edward and enraged Aymer de Valance, into whose custody Piers had been placed.

Here’s a little background information about Pembroke – and his wives.  Aymer de Valence was the second Earl of Pembroke. He was born in 1275 and was one of the Lords Ordainers who had ensured that Piers Gaveston was sent into exile for the third time.  Pembroke had suffered from Piers sharp tongue, having been nick-named Joseph the Jew.  The reason was supposedly his appearance.  At the time of Piers’ surrender at Scarborough Castle, Pembroke was married to his first wife,  Beatrice, daughter of  Raoul de Clermont,  Lord of Nesle in Picardy (he later married  Marie de St Pol in 1321).  Beatrice was to play a part in the capture of Piers by Guy of Warwick.

In my previous post, I dealt with the favourable surrender of Piers to Pembroke.  It seems both Piers and Edward II were relieved that Pembroke had custody of Piers.  Pembroke was a man of honour, and had sworn an oath to protect Piers’ life.  Whether he had the full support of the other barons is questionable.  He may have acted without the support of Thomas of Lancaster and Guy of Warwick. 

Pembroke decided to take Piers South.   They arrived in Deddington on June 9th.  Piers was housed in the rectory house at Deddington.  Leaving Piers with some guards, Pembroke headed off to see his wife at Bampton.  It seems incredible that Pembroke would leave Piers at Deddington and then go on to see his wife.  What could be so important that Pembroke needed to see his wife?  And it begs the question – why didn’t he take Piers with him?   It seems Pembroke decided to make use of the opportunity of being so near his wife, and possibly he felt Deddington offered more protection to Piers than his manor house.  Or maybe, he was in contact with Guy of Warwick, and knew that Guy would seize Piers as soon as Pembroke left.  Had Warwick been in touch, and told Pembroke that he did not have the support of all the Lords Ordainers, and pressured him into literally handing over Piers?  Pembroke used the ‘excuse’ of going to visit his wife.  It seems very unlikely.  Pembroke had sworn a chivalric oath, with the threat of forfeiting his estates.   He had given his word, and ensured Piers and the king were separated.  This was a time for negotiation – not to betray his sovereign, whatever he may have thought of Piers. 

How Warwick found out about Pembroke’s actions remains a mystery.  He must surely have heard Pembroke was in his vicinity.  He may have had his men ‘spying’ on what was happening, keeping him informed of Pembroke’s movements.  Or did one of Pembroke’s men betray him?  Warwick may have suspected that Pembroke would visit his wife.  Pembroke trusted his men to guard Piers, and could surely never have guessed his authority would be challenged.  Warwick seized his chance, and ordered that the guards hand Piers over.  We don’t know how many men Pembroke had left guarding Piers – but it wasn’t enough to protect him.  I’ve often wondered why, if he was poorly guarded, why Piers didn’t plan some sort of escape.  However, he had surrendered to Pembroke on favourable terms, had been treated respectfully by Pembroke, and no doubt felt safe in his custody.  He too had given his word.  Piers was undoubtedly horrified to be taken by Warwick, and Pembroke was enraged.  His honour had been tainted.  Warwick’s actions ensured that after the death of Piers, Pembroke sided with the king from then on.  Warwick’s coup was a stain on the Chivalric code. 

Today in Deddington, Piers’ short stay is recognised – there is a Piers Row and Gaveston Gardens.

10 comments:

Kathryn Warner said...

Great post! I've also wondered how Warwick knew where Pembroke and Piers were. He must have been tracking them, and when Pembroke went off to visit his wife, Warwick must have felt like all his Christmases had come at once. Poor Piers. :(

I talked about him in The Quest for Bannockburn last night ;-)

Anerje said...

Hi Kathryn. It almost seems like a put up job, except that Pembroke's re-action exonerates him. Warwick must have been tracking them, waiting for an opportunity.

Omg - I don't get BBC 2 Scotland! Can't wait to see it!

Gabriele C. said...

Which proves again that men with chivalric ideals unfortunately deal badly with the realities of the nastier parts of life / people. Like Eddard Stark.

Anerje said...

Hi Gabriele. I must be one of the few people who haven't watched Game of Thrones. Do you rate it?

Anerje said...

Kathryn - watched I player. What can I say? Fantastic!

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Anerje! Wish I'd been on it for longer, but I'm pleased they showed me talking about Piers! :)

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

Great post, Anerje! And although it describes a very sad event I couldn't help smiling at "Joseph the Jew". Pembroke must have been a man of honour indeed for it seems he did not hold grudges for long :-) And Piers... Well... Piers must have had a dazzling wit :-)

Anerje said...

Hi Kasia. I guess Pembroke was a forgiving sort of man:) Although one novel has him, too, pining with love for Piers.

I expect Piers was on his best behaviour though - well, for most of the time, as I don't think he could help himself!

Kathryn - Piers, no doubt, would think you talked about the most important person - him. He'd be delighted! I expect Ed would as well!:)

Gabriele C. said...

Anerje, I've only read the books and watched some of the first part with Sean Bean in it. Gave up when they added that love interest for Robb Stark and Still More Sex That isn't Even in the Books.

Anerje said...

Thanks Gabriele , I had heard those was a lot of sex in it. I've always liked Sean Bean - and he's always in shows with lots of sex:)