Monday, 28 July 2014
2014 – The year of Kathryn Warner
2014 maybe the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, the scene of Edward II’s allegedly biggest humiliation, but it also marks the year of the huge success of his greatest supporter, Kathryn Warner.
I will never forget the day I stumbled across Kathryn’s website/blog on Edward II. I was suffering a serious bout of tonsillitis that kept me bedridden for a week. During this time, I read the most abysmal novel on Piers Gaveston. I’m not going to name it – suffice to say that it really upset me. I’d developed an interest in Piers in the late 1980s, inspired by Jean Plaidy’s ‘Follies of the King’. Not a very flattering portrayal of Piers, but it sparked my interest and then I devoured every book I could get hold of. Except, there weren’t a lot around then, and those that were portrayed Edward’s reign as a disaster and it was nearly always Piers’ fault – both in fiction and non-fiction. Reading the primary sources I could get hold of, the Piers in the non-fiction, usually romantic novels was not the Piers I knew – they were usually the pathetic fop, greedily pinching poor, faultless Isabella’s jewels, along with snogging her husband in full view of her. With nothing new appearing, I put my interest to bed, so to speak. And then Plaidy’s book was republished, and I bought my own copy, and then Amazon recommended that awful novel. It really upset me, and made me think that all these years later, the same lies, and worse, were being published about Piers. It was then I entered ‘Piers Gaveston and Edward II’ into my search engine – and there was Kathryn’s website and blog!
The joy of reading those posts was indescribable! I saved them, printed them off, put them in a file, and constantly re-read them. I took note of book recommendations and ordered them. Then I contacted Kathryn, and we’ve been cyber pals ever since. I still print off posts and save them in a file, re-reading and checking them for info. It was honestly one of my happiest days, finding that blog. My interest was re-ignited. Thanks to Kathryn’s blog, I’ve read fresh interpretation of chronicles of the times, found hidden gems from chronicles that other academic books have ignored, totally re-thought Edward II’s fate and am convinced he survived – and that he definitely did not die by ‘red hot poker’ horror stories, read fascinating critiques of other historians work, found out interesting snippets from his chamber accounts, his extended international family, read about so-called facts being demolished, corresponded with Kathryn and shared my thoughts, as well as picking her brain – and most of all, found another person who didn’t see Edward and Piers as simpering, effeminate, inadequate men.
My interest re-ignited, I set out to find the Gaveston Cross, re-visit Warwick and Berkeley Castle, and Edward’s tomb in Gloucester Cathedral. I also started this blog, and came across other fascinating and interesting blogs – my favourites being Gabriele’s The Lost Fort , Kasia’s Henry, The Young King (both about subjects I knew very little about but have since learned a lot), and Susan Higginbotham’s History Refreshed, and whose books I’ve read the print off! I love her portrayal of Piers and Edward in ‘The Traitor’s Wife’.
Kathryn’s research is truly outstanding, and now all her hard work has paid off. There was the article published about the Earl of Kent in English Historical Review in 2011. In June 2014, Kathryn appeared on the BBC’s ‘Quest for Bannockburn’ with Neil Oliver. And later on this year, in October, Kathryn’s book, ‘Edward II – the Unconventional King’ (what a brilliant title) will be published! I know Kathryn has been working on this book for several years, and I am so happy it is to be published this year! I cannot wait to read it!
So, Kathryn, I’m dedicating this blog post to you – thank you for fighting to reveal the truth about Edward II and Piers Gaveston, and demolishing the ridiculous stories that have been passed on as facts. You deserve your success and more. Keep the posts – and dare I say – books – coming! This is your year!