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........

8 comments:

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

I absolutely love these quotes, anerje! And your sense of humour, which, apparently, the authors of the novels you've mentioned lack. Isabella saying the hot thing, how very refreshing :-D

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

Sorry, I meant "Anerje", of course!

PS I didn't realize that Lancaster hated Piers as much. And he was to be canonised. God forbid!

Anerje said...

Thanks Kasia. I did have a lot of fun doing this post - researching it and writing it. Amazing what you can write when you have the time:) Dealing with Piers, you just have to have a sense of humour;) Part 2 will be next week I hope.

Anerje said...

Lancaster to even be considered to be canonised is UNBELIEVABLE! Such an awful man! Utterly treacherous. Lancaster wanted Piers dead much more than Warwick, I think. Lancaster, I'm sure, would have wanted his royal cousin to depend on him, and may well have been jealous of Piers. Piers, of course, just had to call him 'the fiddler' and 'the churl' - ouch!

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

I too love working with primary sources. That's the best part of historical research, I think. Today, for instance, I came across great passage about Henry and Philip of Flanders. It has inspired me to think of one of my future posts. Buyt you're right, the free time is crucial here :-(

Kathryn Warner said...

These are all so great :) I love them!

Thanks for the emails! :) I'm back from holiday now so will reply asap, as soon as I'm over the jetlag :)

Anerje said...

Welcome back Kathryn! I know I sent a lot of e-mails and as I said I don't expect you to answer all at once - I just got carried away lol!

Kasia - the only thing with primary sources is the bias and interpretation, and, erm incorrect info and out-right lies:). But they are thought-provoking!

Anerje said...

Kathryn - my sympathies with the jet lag! It may take a good week to recover.