Tuesday, 9 June 2015

June 9th - disaster strikes Piers Gaveston

June 9th, 1312, was the beginning of the end for Piers Gaveston.   After surrendering on very good terms to Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, Piers was on his way to his own castle at Wallingford, where he would be kept under guard by Pembroke.   Pembroke made perhaps the biggest mistake of his life, when he left Piers at Deddington Priory, so that he could spend the night with his wife at nearby Bampton.   Piers' deadly enemy, Guy, Earl of Warwick, had somehow found out about Pembroke's plan, and seized his chance.  The Vita Edwardi Secundi  tells us what happened when Piers' 'black hound of Arden' arrived:

 'Coming to the village early one Saturday, he entered the gate of the courtyard and surrounded the chamber.  Then the earl called out in a loud voice: 'Arise traitor, thou art taken'.  When Piers heard this, seeing that the earl was there with a superior force and that his own guard did not resist, he dressed himself and came down.  In this fashion Piers was taken and led forth not as an earl but as a thief; and he who used to ride on a palfrey is now forced to go on foot.

When they had left the village behind a little, the earl ordered Piers to be given a nag that they might proceed more quickly.  Blaring trumpets followed Piers and the horrid cry of the populance.  They had taken off his belt of knighthood, and a sa thief and traitor, he was taken to Warwick, and coming there was cast into prison.  He whom Piers called Warwick the Dog has now bound Piers with chains'.

Having visited Warwick Castle, I have seen the dungeon at Warwick.   It forms part of a tower where the noblest prisoners were kept.  We're merely told that Warwick has Piers thrown into prison - and I have the feeling it was not the tower where the noblest prisoners were kept.   Vindictiveness and hatred of Piers, particularly regarding his elevation to Earl of Cornwall, surely meant that Warwick cast him into the dungeon at Warwick.  He certainly took pleasure in stripping Piers of his belt, which signified his earldom, and humiliating him all the way to Warwick, so why stop at Warwick castle?  Piers, no doubt, must have surely known he was doomed, and no doubt was in deep despair.

Inside the dungeon at Warwick castle.  This is not the dungeon where prisoners of noble blood were kept.

In the dungeon is a small hole, in which the lowest rank of prisoners were kept.   It is to be hoped that Warwick showed some mercy to Piers and did not keep him in this 'oubliette'.


Kathryn Warner said...

Oh my, poor Piers. :( I hope he was kept somewhere with at least a little comfort!

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

I can picture the scene of capture. I find the detail about Piers dressing himself and leaving his chamber much telling. It can mean that he tried to maintain as much composure and dignity as he could muster under the circumstances. He still had ten days to live, didn't he? I will always remember the date of Piers's death, for on 19 June in 1177 the son of Henry the Young King was born in Paris, only to die three days later.

Anerje said...

Kathryn - I'm sure Warwick and Lancaster humiliated Piers as much as they could - they saw him as an upstart and would have enjoyed reminding him of his station in life, as they saw it.

Kasia - I've often thought about what went through Pier's mind when he knew Warwick had come for him. I would like to think he kept his composure - maybe, as you say, taking time and care to dress was a sign of that. I actually hope he kept his arrogance and wit

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

Anerje, have you read this text, perchance? I would love to learn your opinion. The author is probably the same person, who wrote about Henry's coronation. The text had a few glaring errors. I was wondering how she coped with Edward, Isabella and Piers. Here's the link: https://e-royalty.com/articles/doth-this-marriage-prosper-edward-ii-and-isabella/

Anerje said...

Oh, thanks Kasia - no I hadn't seen it! Erm, it looks like something I would have written when I was 12. As for 'glaring errors', you are too kind:) Wrong chronological order, wedding presents nonsense, etc. It's just the usual romantic view of Isabella all over again. I wonder if Kathryn has seen it???????

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

Yes, I asked Kathryn about the text as well. She said she didn't notice any "glaring errors", but you know how busy she is. Perhaps she didn't have enough time to read it carefully - the text is rather "longish". The jewels story gave me thoughts as well. Do you find it probable that a twelve-year-old would notice "odd" behaviour of the adults? Plus show her great displeasure at the sight of sb wearing the jewels being her father's gift for her husband (if I am correct and remember well).

Aa for the style it's written in, perhaps in case of Isabella it was the author's intention to make it sound "childlish". At least at the beginning. Although, I do agree, the style prevails through the whole of a text.

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

I asked Kathryn about the jewels. I was right, she hadn't spotted it when skimming through the text for the first time. She said she was afraid that it;s one of those stories nothing could be done about :-( It's going to be repeated over and over again.

Anerje said...

Hi Kasia. Well I've just re-read it. What was 'odd' that Isa noticed at 12? Unless they were openly kissing etc in front of her - what's odd about Edward having a close friend whom he idolises? They were near enough the same age - Isa was only 12. Edward and Isa weren't even on the same boat when they returned to England. As for the jewels - they were Ed's to do as he pleased with. It's just the same plot from historical romances - wife marries handsome young man whom she idealises and then is bewildered to find out he has a close male friend, whom he prefers ........to his 12 year old wife:) In all honesty, I doubt if Edward and Isa spent any time on their own during the wedding. It was a formal occasion. We don't know that Isa was expecting a handsome prince of her dreams. Maybe she was hoping he d be bearable and not force his intentions upon her? I guess we'll never know what she thought.