Tuesday, 19 June 2018

June 19th - death of Piers Gaveston

'But I am certain the king grieved for Piers.......for the greater the love, the greater the sorrow.  In the lament of David upon Jonathan, love is depicted which is said to have surpassed the love of women'.

The above quote is from the chronicle, Vita Edwardi Secundi.   Whatever the relationship between Edward II and Piers Gaveston, there was genuine love between them.  Jealousy from the nobles led to hatred, and having been snatched from Deddington  Priory by the Earl of Warwick, Piers was given a farce of a trial.   Warwick refused to try him as an Earl in an act of spite and malice.  He was joined at Warwick Castle by Thomas of Lancaster, and the Earls of Arundel and Hereford.  In the great hall at Warwick, which still stands, Piers was 'tried' and given no right to speak in his own defence.   He must have known the verdict before the trial even started.  But did he hope the sentence of death would be revoked?  Cowering in his castle, Warwick handed Piers over to Lancaster to march him 2 miles from the castle to Blacklow Hill, land belonging to Lancaster, and there Piers was handed over to two Welshmen.  One ran him through with a sword, whilst the other then cut off his head to show Lancaster the bloody deed had been done.  Hardly an execution, more of a murder.  Not one of the Earls would take responsibility for the body of Piers, Warwick even refusing to admit it when it was returned by local shoemakers.  He stayed hidden in his castle, awaiting the terrible wrath of the King Edward, which would surely follow.

The wood surrounding Blacklow Hill.
The monument marking the site of the 'execution' of Piers Gaveston.

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