Thursday, 23 February 2017

A Tale of 2 History magazines

Over the last few years, there has been a surge in History magazines.  'History Today' is firmly established, and has what I would term more 'academic' articles.  The BBC History magazine is always a good read with a mix of academic and family articles.  The newer titles include 'History Revealed' and 'All About History', that cover popular subjects such as the Tudors and in my opinion give you lots of glossy 'artist impressions' of historical characters and the basic background of people and events.  

BBC History also provides 'specials' - and the latest is on Medieval Kings and Queens.  I was delighted to find an article by Kathryn Warner, (Website Edward II  )featured inside with an excellent article on Isabella, wife and Queen of Edward II.  Those who have read Kathryn's book, 'Isabella, Rebel Queen', will know how meticulous Kathryn's research is, and how hard she has worked to show that Edward and Isabella had a reasonably happy marriage, with Isabella tolerating Edward's favourites, such as Piers Gaveston and Roger Damory, before falling foul of Hugh Despencer.  So many myths were debunked.  So it was a real shame to see another new history magazine, 'The History of the Royals', feature an article on Isabella cast in her role as the she-wolf.  And of course, with that, the old myths are repeated - namely that -

  • Edward gave his wedding presents to Piers Gaveston, thus humiliating Isabella.
  • Isabella 'endured' years of humiliation by her husband and Piers.
  • Edward gave Piers Isabella's lands!
  • Despencer/Edward deprived Isabella of her 4 children.(I know Kathryn is particularly dismayed about this myth).
  • Isabella and Roger Mortimer were lovers - no doubt about it.
  • They met in the Tower of London earlier, and Mortimer escaped.  
  • Edward blamed Mortimer for putting his marriage in jeopardy!  
Worst of all, the article is called 'The Royal Lovers' Conquest'.   Throughout the article, Isabella and Roger Mortimer are presented as lovers.   Their behaviour scandalises  the French and English courts.  The article does not make it clear that this is one interpretation of their relationship, with little supporting evidence, and of course, Mortimer's wife and children fade into the background.    The best thing that can be said about this article?  At the end,  for further reading, is recommended Kathryn's book.  What a shame the author of this article didn't read it first.


Kathryn Warner said...

Ohhhh dear, that sounds really awful :(

Anerje said...

Hi Kathryn - it just strikes me as ironic that both articles have been published at the same time! What a contrast! And then at the end, your book is recommended - at least people will get a chance to find out the truth, even if they do get a shock and find out it's not what they were expecting!

Rob said...


Are you aware of any funds accepting contributions to restore the Gaveston's Cross monument from its disrepair and difficult access? If none, would the Leek Wootton History Group have an interest and ability to serve as a possible, viable resource to launch such an initiative?

Bloomington, Indiana, USA

Anerje said...

Hi Rob. As far as I know there are no plans to restore the Gaveston Cross. The land on which it lies is in private hands, and the person who owns it is not a local. I had difficulty tracing him because I needed permission for Kathryn Warner to use one of my pictures in her Edward II bio. He was a very nice person and happily gave permission, but Kathryn couldn't use my picture anyway. When I spoke to the local council to complain about the state of the monument and the lack of information, they told me it was nothing to do with them and sent me a link on trespassing on private property! It's not actually in bad condition, it's just overgrown and has graffiti on it. It lacks a footpath and information access. It really is up to the landowner. Such a shame.

Rob said...


Sincerest thanks for this information. Unsettling is the monument's rating of poor condition and categorization of "at risk" by When I visited the site in 2013, a Leek Wootton History Group member made the tour happen for my 80+ years old history buff father and me. Wonder how this could be launched as a project?

BLoomington, Indiana, USA