Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Piers Gaveston could be tactful - yes, really!

Being tactful is not something Piers Gaveston  is usually associated it.  After all, calling Guy, the Earl of Warwick 'the black hound of Arden' is hardly showing restraint, is it?    But it seems in his younger days, Piers did know how to be tactful.   Take for example this wonderful story from about 1302.  It appears in a book of chronicles about Peterborough, edited by J Sparks.   According to this book, Prince Edward, as he was then, was accompanying his father, Edward 1st and his Queen, on a visit to Peterborough.  Of course, Prince Edward brought along members of his own household, which included his dear friend, Piers Gaveston.  What emerges from this story is that already the relationship between the two was already rather, erm, intense. 

Prince Edward, on visiting the abbey at Peterborough, was presented with a fine gift - a cup, said to be of the value of £50.  Very generous of the Abbey.  Surely a gift to please the prince.  Yet what's extraordinary about this story is that Edward refused to accept the gift - unless a cup of the comparable value was presented to his dear friend Piers Gaveston.  Which is a bit cheeky, eh?  Edward might be king-in-waiting, but turning up at Peterborough Abbey and refusing a gift unless his 'dear friend' got one, is, erm, ungrateful, tactless, embarrassing?  Luckily for Edward, those much admired Gascon manners kicked in, and Piers negotiated with the Abbot's messenger.  He thanked the abbot for the gift of the cup sent to him  - worth £40 - with many thanks, and on hearing that Edward had refused his cup, Piers told the messenger to inform Edward that he, Piers, would like him to accept the abbot's gift.  Which of course, as a request from his beloved Piers, he did. 

What Edward 1st made of this story is unknown - but it surely reached his ears and gave him cause for concern about the influence of Piers' over the prince.  And it shows that already Edward was determined Piers should be shown respect and favour as his 'beloved friend/brother/lover' (select appropriate word here - I know which one I'm going for). 

I first came across this story from this marvellous blog, where you can read the translation of the chronicle.  Piers Gaveston's Cups.    Trying to research this story has been very difficult.   I came across 2 books from the early 1900s on-line - one of which is called 'A History of the County of Northampton' which actually says the gift was not a cup, but a beautiful embroidered robe/cloak.  I assume that recent translations have corrected robe/cloak for cup.  I mean, if it had been a cloak, Piers undoubtedly would have wanted one:)


Kasia Ogrodnik said...

Wonderful story, Anerje! Must have given Edward I a couple of sleepless nights, though- I cannot agree more :-) Sometimes I too encounter serious problems while trying to do Henry research, that's why perfect understanding here...

Kathryn Warner said...

What a fantastic story! I had read about it a few years ago, but had forgotten all about it! So interesting to see how their relationship had developed as early as 1302. I would have put that in my book if I'd remembered about it :-) Thanks for the great post.

Anerje said...

Hi Kasia - it's very frustrating trying to find info on recollections you half remember. I knew the basis of the story but checking it was a real struggle!

Kathryn - I also came across a 1304 date - but it seems Piers influence was strong in the early 1300s. I wonder if he tried to defuse the situation knowing it could well anger Edward Ist.