Meanwhile, Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, was in a state of panic. He'd sworn an oath to protect Piers, with his lands forfeit if he failed to do so. His first action was to appeal to Edward II's cousin Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, and Piers' brother-in-law. I am still shocked at Gloucester's callous reply. 'My lord earl, the wrong done to you is not to be imputed to Earl Guy. He did this with our aid and counsel; and if, as you say, you have pledged your lands, you have lost them anyhow. It only remains to advise you to learn another time to negotiate more cautiously'. Pembroke was as concerned about his lands as he was Piers. Why Gloucester abandoned Piers is not known - but perhaps he was jealous of the honours and access to the king Piers had.
According to the chronicle of Trokelowe, Lancaster warned 'while he lives there will be no safe peace in the realm of England, as many proofs have hitherto shown us'. Lancaster and Warwick dominated proceedings. Piers' 'trial' was a farce - he was not even allowed to speak in his defence, and no doubt the verdict was already reached. The canon of Bridlington claims two royal justices, William Inge and Henry Spigurnel, were called in to examine the evidence and pronounced Piers guilty. Yet Kathryn Warner points out that Edward II took no action against them. No doubt they were pressured into a 'verdict'. The nobles seem to be more concerned that they would suffer no repercussions, with Lancaster and Warwick promising Hereford they would support him against any losses he incurred. No doubt many deals were committed to parchment and seals attached. What a shame they don't survive. Everything was agreed - Piers was to die on June 19th.
Piers was taken out of Warwick by Lancaster and some of his followers. Guy of Warwick stayed in his castle. I have to wonder why he did not accompany Piers on his journey to Blacklow Hill. Surely witnessing the destruction of his hated enemy would be a chance not to be missed? Or did his conscience trouble him? Not for the death of Piers - but the cowardly manner of it. It was not an execution - it was murder. Warwick seems to have insisted that Piers' 'execution' take place away from his lands - Blacklow Hill was on Lancaster's lands. And yet, even Lancaster's resolve seems to have been shaken. It was agreed that Piers would suffer a 'noble' death - beheading, out of respect of his kinship to Gloucester. But Lancaster chose not to witness it himself and handed Piers over to 2 of his Welsh soldiers, who took Piers out of sight of Lancaster. One soldier ran him through with his sword, and the other cut off his head. Not exactly a 'noble' death. Lancaster only required to see the head to make sure, and Piers body and head were abandoned. Neither Warwick or Lancaster wanted to take responsibility for Piers' remains. Where was their bravado and courage now? No doubt Warwick trembled in his castle, whilst Lancaster waited for the rage of Edward II.
Below - the wood surrounding Blacklow Hill.
|The monument at Blacklow Hill where Piers Gaveston was killed.|