Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Murder Mysteries - Edward II

Not a promising start to Yesterday 's Medieval Murder Mysteries on Edward II.    The expert on Edward II?      Paul Doherty!   Defender of Isabella!   Kathryn Warner has cited numerous errors in his writings.  We also have the Berkeley family and various criminal barristers and psychologists, plus medical experts giving their views.   So you just know the red hot poker story will be centre stage.  Sure enough, Richard Felix, a 'historian' believes in the poker story entirely.   He states Edward II is a homosexual, and Isabella and Roger Mortimer were lovers.  He then repeats the poker story word for word.  Edward was murdered this way so as to show no marks on his body.   Yet Felix says his screams could be heard throughout the castle and lasted for 15 minutes.   No marks on the body but Edward's screams heard by all.   Isabella orchestrated it out of a perverse sexual jealousy to humiliate the king.  The programme actually showed a reconstruction and then computer generated skeleton/body with the injuries Edward might have suffered depending on how hot the poker was and the length to which it was inserted - yes, really!   It was gross - and I'm not going into detail here as do we really want to know these facts?  Edward may have died of a seizure, shock or a heart attack. The barristers and criminologists refute this as a ridiculous way to murder Edward.  Quite right!

The Berkeley family claim Edward was smothered in such a way as no marks were shown.   Linda, one of their guides, was the one who showed me around on my last visit, and explains this theory.  She concedes very few people viewed Edward's body and the body was hastily prepared for burial.   She mocks the idea of the survival of Edward living as a hermit in Italy - as if a Plantagenet king would do that!   A broken, weakened, tormented and repentant king may well have done this - especially to protect his son.

Doherty then puts forward the survival of Edward II.  He cites lack of witnesses, the burial not being at Westminster Abbey and Lord Berkeley's statement to parliament that he did not know the king was dead in 1329.   The Fieschi letter is only briefly mentioned.

So, the conclusion?   The red, hot poker story can surely be discounted as it was a complicated and a rather elaborate way to murder someone.   Natural causes seems too convenient, and most of the experts agree that Edward died at Berkeley Castle, probably suffocated, although his escape and survival cannot be discounted.   So basically, they don't know!  

I guess having the poker story demolished is a victory for historians like Kathryn and Ian Mortimer, and those of us who follow their blogs etc.   And the possible survival of Edward seriously considered another victory.  It's just a shame neither was invited to take part, and we had to have endless replays of Edward being tied up and gagged with a twisted look and cry of agony as the poker is inserted.   It was gratuitous and unnecessary.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

UK TV channel Yesterday's Medieval Murder Mysteries

UK TV channel Yesterday has a new TV series called Medieval Murder Mysteries on Monday Evenings.   This week was all about Christopher Marlowe.   Next week is all about Edward II.   Marlowe's was all about conspiracy theories - dare we hope the episode on Edward II may entertain the theory that Edward actually survived?   Or will the focus be on the dreaded red hot poker story?  Or murder of some sort at Berkeley Castle?    I'm daring to look forward to it and will review it next week.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Belated anniversary to Piers Gaveston and Margaret de Clare

I'm almost a week late but November 1st marked the anniversary of the wedding of Piers Gaveston and King Edward's niece, Margaret de Clare.   Margaret would only have been about 13 or 14, and undoubtedly would have expected to make a good match, being the King's niece.   We don't know what Margaret 's feelings were, but marrying the king's favourite and becoming Countess of Cornwall was a good match.  The marriage took place at Berkhamstead Castle.  Edward paid the grand sum of 7 pounds, 10 shillings and six pence in coins for well-wishers to throw over the couple at the church door.  He also gave the newlyweds jewels worth about 30 pounds - I'm sure Piers had first pick:)