Sunday, 7 September 2014

What the Chroniclers said.......part 2

A continuation of my previous post. 

   11.  Of course, it wasn’t all Piers fault he was like a second king – Edward was equally blamed. The St Paul’s Annalist tells us – ‘if any of the earls or magnates sought the king’s special grace with regard to any business, the king sent him to Piers’.   What else are favourites for?:)

12.  The Lanercost puts it a bit more bluntly.  "There was not anyone who had a good word to say about the king or Piers."  Except each other, maybe?

13.  Murimuth points the finger at Piers again!  Edward was ‘ruled by Piers’ counsel, despising the counsel of the other nobles and of those whose counsel especially used by his father’.  

14.    I can imagine this being a headline from a newspaper today – it’s from the Vita Edwardi Secundi  and reflects on Edward’s decision to leave Piers as Regent as he heads to France for his wedding.  ‘ What an astonishing thing, he was lately an exile, an outcast from England, has now been made governor and keeper of the land.’  Shocker, eh?:) 

15.  Time from another classic from the Vita.   "The earls and barons he despised, and gave them insulting nicknames".  Most of these were reported much later, after the death of Piers.  The only contemporary nickname concerns Guy of Warwick – the ‘Black dog of Arden’.   

16.   One for speculation here from the Vita.  It concerns a Christmas Edward and Piers spent together, in 1307.   Apparently, they spent the time "making up for former absence by their long wished-for sessions of daily and intimate conversation’.   I do hope Piers didn’t have too long a Christmas present list.  Feel free to use your own imagination here as well! 

17.  Piers loved the Earl of Richmond!  Well, so says John of Canterbury – Piers loved him "beyond measure."  Thankfully for Edward II, he adds Piers called him ‘father’ and Richmond called him ‘son’, and then to complicate it further, Piers addressed him as his ‘dear cousin’. 

18.  Wallingord 1307 saw a triumphant Piers holding a tournament and trouncing the opposition.  The Vita says ‘Sir Piers' side could not raise an earl, but almost all the younger and more athletic knights of the kingdom, whom persuasion or hope of reward could bring together, assisted him.’  The new knights on the block, I presume!

19.  Oh dear – talk about sour grapes!  The Vita says  "So it was in this tournament his party had the upper hand and carried off the spoils, although the other side remained in possession of the field.  For it is a recognised rule of this game that he who loses most and is most frequently unhorsed, is adjudged the most valiant and the stronger."    How can losing be ‘most valiant’?   

20.   Edward loves Piers – as his dear brother! ‘When the King's son saw him he fell so much in love that he entered upon a compact with him, and chose and determined to knit an indissoluble bond of affection with him, before all other mortals’.  Erm, a case of Piers scornfully rolling his eyes upwards?   A shrug of the graceful shoulders and a ‘whatever’?

Monday, 1 September 2014

What the Chroniclers said…….Part 1

OK, so they may not be the most reliable source, get dates wrong, confuse people and be heavily biased,  but they are one of our primary sources and their content has been used to either damn or praise people and most often, these comments stick.  These are my favourite Piers Gaveston quotes from assorted chronicles.  Read and enjoy!
1.        From the St Paul’s Annalist, describing Piers at the coronation of Edward II.  Piers was dressed in royal purple, and "so decked out that he more resembled the god Mars than an ordinary mortal".  My favourite quote ever!  More than likely Piers’ favourite as well!
2.       A classic from the Vita Edward Secundi - "I do not remember to have heard that one man so loved another. Jonathan cherished David, Achilles loved Patroclus. But we do not read that they were immoderate. Our King, however, was incapable of moderate favour, and on account of Piers was said to forget himself, and so Piers was accounted a sorcerer."   Roughly translated as ‘wow!  They really love each  other, just like others in the past.  Bit over the top most of the time.  The King needs to rein it in a bit!’.  No doubt the sorcerer reference led to stories later on that Piers’ mother had been a witch.
3.       From the Vita again.  Piers "alone found favour in the king's eyes and lorded it over them [the English barons] like a second king, to whom all were subject and none equal. Almost all the land hated him..his name was reviled far and wide...he was an object of mockery to almost everyone in the kingdom."  No-one of course could out-mock Piers, and being like a second king obviously made any insults bearable.  Being adored and raised high by Edward, Piers no doubt thought it was worth it;)
4.       Of course, his arrogance grew – and the Vita gives us this great description.   I can just imagine Piers "scornfully rolling his upraised eyes in pride and in abuse, he looked down upon all with pompous and supercilious countenance…indeed the superciliousness which he affected would have been unbearable enough in a king’s son." 
5.       From the Canterbury Chronicle we learn Piers came from  ‘the region of fine manners he was courteous’.   Gascony must be THE place to get your manners from;)
6.       Another chronicler, Geofffrey Le Baker, writing years later, recalls why Edward Ist had thought Piers was an ideal companion for his son.  Piers was  ‘graceful and agile in body, sharp witted, refined in manners, sufficiently well versed in military matters’  He sounds an ideal role model, doesn’t he?  Note the ‘well versed in military matters’ – yes, he really was an excellent soldier, not a languid fop!
7.       Another reference to Piers as a king – “two kings reigning in one kingdom, the one in name and the other in deed".   How pleasing that Edward had someone willing to help him reign.  And I’m sure he let Piers wear his crown as well, as it probably looked sooo much better on him;)  After all, digging ditches and thatching roofs is quite tricky wearing royal robes and jewels.
8.        An absolute classic from the Trokelowe Chronicler.   The alleged scene when Edward returned from France with his bride and greets Piers after his absence.  Edward was ‘giving him kisses and repeated embraces, he was adored with singular familiarity’.   The line that launched a thousand scenes in ‘historical’ trashy novels, with a helpless Isabella looking on.  Sort of like a medieval ‘From here to Eternity’ scene, with Edward and Piers crashing through the surf for a huge snog!  Yeah, right!   Personally, I’d like Isabella to have said to her maids ‘gosh, Ed’s friend is rather hot, isn’t he? ‘ Of course, what was missed out in these novels is that Trokelowe adds ‘ Which special familiarity, already known to the magnates, furnished fuel to their jealousy’.  So Isabella wasn’t offended at all, just the other nobles who wanted to be embraced firstJ 
9.        Yet again, from the Canterbury Chronicle, ‘He adopted such a proud manner of bearing towards them, that the earls coming before him were forced to kneel in order to bring their reasons before him, ‘  I do hope the Chronicler means Thomas of Lancaster and Guy of WarwickJ 
10.     And talking of Thomas of Lancaster, the Lanercost Chronicler mentions this scene – a meeting between Edward and Lancaster to reconcile, with Piers present.  Lancaster  "would neither kiss him [Piers], nor even salute him, whereat Piers was offended beyond measure."  Oh Piers, you surely don’t want a kiss from Lancaster?  Really?  Actually, it was highly unlikely Piers was there anyway – so hence he didn’t get a kiss from Lancaster.
Sources - Seymour Phillips 'Edward II'  ,   J.S. Hamilton  Piers Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall, 1307-12: Politics and Patronage in the Reign of Edward II      Kathryn Warner  Edward II
Part 2 to follow........