The Reign of Edward II/Edward II, the tragic King

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A man in half figure with short, curly hair and a hint of beard is facing left. He wears a coronet and holds a sceptre in his right hand. He has a blue robe over a red tunic, and his hands are covered by white, embroidered gloves. His left hand seems to be pointing left, to something outside the picture.

Portrait in Westminster Abbey, thought to be of Edward I
EDWARD I OF ENGLAND, ”LONGSHANKS”
THE ”HAMMER” OF THE SCOTS
KING EDWARD II, THE TRAGIC KING
Edward II - detail of tomb.jpg
EFFIGY OF KING EDWARD II IN GLOUCESTER CATHEDRAL

Initial from the charter granting Gaveston the earldom of Cornwall, showing the arms of England at top, and Gaveston’s coat of arms impaledwith those of de Clare below.

INITIAL FROM THE CHARTER GRANTING GAVESTON THE EARLDOM OF CORNWALL
Guy de Beauchamp.jpg

Guy de Beauchamp standing over the decapitated body of Piers Gaveston. From the 15th-century Rous Rolls.[1]
A MACABER SCENE
THE DECAPACITATED BODY OF PIERS GAVESTON,
EXECUTED BY HIS TWO MAJOR ENEMIES, THOMAS,
2N DUKE OF LANCASTER AND GUY DE BEAUCHAMP,
10TH EARL OF WARWICK
GUY DE BEAUCHAMP IS STANDING OVER HIS
DECAPACITATED BODY
Guy de Beauchamp.jpg

Guy de Beauchamp standing over the decapitated body of Piers Gaveston. From the 15th-century Rous Rolls.[1]
GUY DE BEAUCHAMP, 10TH EARL OF WARWICK, GREAT ENEMY
OF PIERS OF GAVESTON, FAVOURITE OF EDWARD II
TOGETHER WITH THOMAS, 2ND EARL OF LANCASTER,
THE EARL OF WARWICK HAD PIERS GAVESTON EXECUTED
AFTER ABDUCTING HIM
HERE IS GUY DE BEAUCHAMP IN A MACABER SCENE, STANDING
STANDING OVER THE DECAPITATED BODY OF PIERS GAVESTON
Thomas of Lancaster Executed

EXECUTION OF THOMAS, 2ND EARL OF LANCASTER, THE
GREAT ENEMY OF PIERS GAVESTON AND LATER, THE DESPENSERS

Seal of Henry of Lancaster from the Barons’ Letter, 1301, which he signed as Henricus de Lancastre, Dominus de Munemue (Henry of Lancaster, Lord of Monmouth). His shield couche shows the armorial of Plantagenet differenced by a bend azure (see below)

SEAL OF HENRY, 3RD EARL OF LANCASTER,
BROTHER TO THOMAS, 2ND EARL OF LANCASTER
BOTH SONS OF EDMUND CROUCHBACK, BROTHER TO
KING EDWARD I AND UNCLE TO EDWARD II
MOST LIKELY OUT OF REVENGE FOR THE EXEXUTION
OF HIS BROTHER THOMAS [SEE IMAGE ABOVE]
 BY THE DESPENSERS AND THE KING, HENRY
SIDED WITH QUEEN ISABELLA AND ROGER MORTIMER
AGAINST KING EDWARD II AND THE DESPENSERS
HENRY IS THE ANCESTOR OF BLANCHE OF LANCASTER
[HIS GRANDDAUGHER], WHO MARRIED JOHN OF GAUNT
[THIRD SON TO EDWARD III]
JOHN OF GAUNT BECAME THE 1ST DUKE OF LANCASTER
SO HENRY WAS THE ANCESTOR OF THE HOUSE
OF LANCASTER
Isabella of France.jpg

A 15th-century depiction of Isabella
ISABELLA OF FRANCE
HISTORICAL IMAGE

QUEEN ISABELLA OF FRANCE, DAUGHTER TO THE FRENCH KING
PHILIPS IV [LE BEL]
HISTORICAL FICTION
 
 
Image result for roger mortimer
ROGER MORTIMER, 1ST EARL OF MARCH, PARTNER
IN CRIME AND MOST LIKELY LOVER OF QUEEN ISABELLA
OF FRANCE
Isabella and Roger Mortimer.jpg

15th-century manuscript illustration depicting Roger Mortimer and Queen Isabella in the foreground
ROGER MORTIMER AND QUEEN ISABELLA ON THE FOREGROUND
15TH CENTURY HISTORICAL  IMAGE

HISTORICAL IMAGE
HUGH LE DESPENSER THE YOUNGER, [ALONG WITH HIS
FATHER, THE ELDER] FAVOURITE TO KING EDWARD II,
WHO DIED A HORRIBLE DEATH AT THE ORDERS OF
QUEEN ISABELLA AND [MOST LIKELY] LOVER
ROGER MORTIMER AFTER THE INVASION OF
ISABELLA AND MORTIMER, WHICH LED TO THE DOWNFALL
AND FINAL DEATH OF KING EDWARD II
Edward III of England (Order of the Garter).jpg

Edward III as head of the Order of the Garter, drawing c.1430–40 in the Bruges Garter Book
KING EDWARD III
HISTORICAL IMAGE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE REIGN OF EDWARD II/EDWARD II, THE TRAGIC KING
Dear Readers
This time my travel to the past goes to some hundred years
before the Wars of the Roses, to
Recently I posted some articles  from Kathryn Warner”s interesting
weblog ”EdwardthesecondBlogspot” about the reign of King
Edward II , a very tragic king.
Why?
Because of his clear preference to his own sex [See Dr Helen Castor
a great taboo in the time wherein he lived and died, the Middle Ages.
Enter the world of this complicated and fascinating king,
a fascinating time, with fascinating characters.

 

 

 

 

 

PIERS GAVESTON, HIS FAVOURITE
We see his favourite Piers Gaveston, for whom he felt a great
friendship  and most likely a tragic love
His neglected and disloyal wife Queen Isabella, although
THOMAS 2ND EARL OF LANCASTER, HIS DISLOYAL FIRST  COUSIN
to Gaveston’s tragic death and secondly in the Despenser
War, which led to Thomas’ own tragic death.
HENRY 3RD EARL OF LANCASTER,  BROTHER TO THOMAS,
LOYAL FIRST, DISLOYAL LATER AND AT THE END, LOYAL AGAIN
of the House of Lancaster, was the brother of Thomas,
2nd Earl of Lancaster.
At first he was loyal to the King, not participating
with Queen Isabella and her very likely] lover Roger Mortimer,
Henry of Lancaster sided with the Queen and Mortimer
very likely out of revenge for the Despensers and also
THE DESPENSERS
After Piers Gaveston’s death the new favourites 
of Edward II , were the Despensers, who caused much
towards them, which lead to civil war, promoted by
, who later became Queen Isabella’s lover and
partner in crime.
By the way:
Difference between Piers Gaveston and the Despensers.
Back to the events:
The King and the Despensers won the war, causing the
execution of Thomas of Lancaster  and then established
themselves firmly as the new regime, characterized by greed
A bitter enmity broke out  between Queen Isabella and especially Despenser the Younger and ultimately an invasion from France of
Queen Isabella and her lover Mortimer deposed the King and made an
end to the Despenser power, leading to the executions of both
father and son.
After an undoubtedly unfair trial with charges of treason,
Despenser the Younger was executed horribly, the socalled traitor’s death.
King Edward II was imprisoned and died in 1327, most likely
In each case it is striking, that Sir Thomas Gurney, Maltravers and
How Edward II was treated during his imprisonment, is not
but that doesn’t proof he actually got them.
Some chroniclers suggest, that he was often mistreated.
There is a document ”The Lament of Edward II”, which was once
thought to have been written by Edward during his imprisonment, but
modern scholarship has cast doubt on this.
EDWARD III, THE UTTER LOYAL SON OF HIS FATHER
Edward III, the utter loyal son of the King put
and had finally his vengence on Mortimer in 1330.
Yet in a way, Edward III was merciful.
Mortimer didn’t have to face the horrible traitor’s death which
he had imposed on his Despenser enemy, but was ”only” hanged
After all, she was the King’s mother.
Edward III was the King who started the Hundred Years War with France,
since his mother Isabella was the daughter of the late King Philips IV, Le Bel.
Background:
Philip IV’s heirs, his sons, were all dead and because of the infedility
of their wives, the paternity of their offspring was unsure.
The later King Philips VI, who claimed the throne after
the death of Charles IV, [the last son of Philip IV]
was only the nephew of Philip IV, son of his brother, the Count of Valois.
Edward III however, was the grandson of Philip IV, son
of his daughter Isabella.
Complicating factor however was that when Edward III claimed
EDWARD II AND HIS EARLS/A PROBLEMATIC RELATIONSHIP
For a Medieval King it was impossible to rule without his nobility.
Problem was that there was always a battle about who controlled
the country.
A ”strong” King or his lords.
So it was of the greatest importance to be authorative and yet
keeping a good relationship with the Earls.
Edward II however, was neither authorative, nor could
he go along with his Lords.
His favouritism, first of his loved friend Piers Gaveston and
later of the Despensers alienated loyal lords from him, which eventually
The very proof of his lack of authority was the hunting down of him and
enemy Thomas of Lancaster, not to settle scores with
the King, but with Gaveston.
However, this would not have happened with a King
with authority.
Anyway, it was clear, that Edward II had many headaches over his Earls,
and many lost their lives during his reign.
EDWARD II/SOME QUESTIONS
Those were some important players in the drama I call the Edward II tragedy.
But some questions still rise, from which I will not mention all
of them, but some, which are interesting to me and perhaps
a source for further historical research
There are also funny questions, as you will see.
HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS WIFE, ISABELLA
HOW WAS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ISABELLA AND
EDWARD II OR OTHERWISE SAID
WHEN AND WHERE  IT WENT WRONG?
According to Dr Helen Castor in her documentary ”She Wolves, England’s
from the beginning and that however Isabella did her best to perform
the duties of a Medieval Queen and consort, it was rebuked by her
husband’s choice of favourites.
Kathryn Warner, writer of the book ”Edward II, the Unconventional
King” however suggests in her Blogsport article ”Isabella of France
and her relationship with Edward II” , that the marriage was loving,
 even when Edward II was already in prison, 
However I ask myself whether those tokens of affection were
, a show for the world, because I can’t imagine
a wife deposing her husband of his power and sending him
to prison and simultaneously having an affection for him.
Therefore I doubt Kathryn Warner´´s allegations of the still
ongoing affection of Isabella for her husband, not only
because you don´t imprison somedone you are attached to.
But also because of Edward´s yearlong
neglection [which I call it when a man so obviously chooses
for favourites, not only politically, but also emotionally].
And despite that, Isabella´s affection would remain?
Hard to believe.
And don’t forget it was a purely arranged, political marriage.
But historians can always speculate about this.
WHAT WAS THE CAUSE OF THE EXTREME HATRED OF QUEEN ISABELLA
FOR HUGH LE DESPENSER THE YOUNGER/RAPE?
I have always wondered, what were the deeper causes
behind  the bitterness Margaret of Anjou , wife to pious
of York , since merely a dynastic quarrel doesn’t explain everything to me.
This enmity is much mentioned by historians and historical novel
writers, whether they were sympathetic to Margaret or not, but without
a thtourough explanation of the source of the bitterness, which stemmed,
according to me, mainly from Margaret.
However, historians did a better job for Queen Isabella:
Historian Alison Weir, writer of ” Isabella, She Wolf of France,
Queen of England”, tried to explain the intense dislike of
Queen Isabella, for especially Hugh Despenser the Younger
by the allegation, that he raped her once.
A Medieval Queen, daughter to the French King, raped by a common nobleman, however high his position and favouritism by the King?
I find that hard to believe.
My opinion, that Isabella has not been raped by Hugh Le Despenser
author of the book ”Edward II, The Unconventional King” .
On her Blog  ”Edwardthe scecondBlogspot”, she wrote an article
about this alleged rape.
She argues, that it is very unlikely, Despenser the Younger should have raped
Isabella, strengthening her opinion, that Alison Weir based on one source
So if not the rape story, where did the hate stem from?
York  again:
At least York showed formal respect to Margaret.
That can’t be said from Hugh le Despenser [who of course
had a total different position, being favourite to the King, but that
aside], towards Queen Isabella.
Such was a great insult to a Medieval Queen, daughter to a King.
When Queen Isabella was in France negociating a peace treaty between
When this is true or at least was believed by Isabella, it can explain
 the hatred she felt for especially Despenser the Younger.
But however the causes, her hatred and bitterness went very deep, since not only
wife and children also paid a price.
Eleanor de Clare, his wife, Edward´s favourite niece, was imprisoned   and
in january, 1327,Queen Isabella  issued an order
three daughters of Hugh Le Despenser the Younger,  should be veiled as
The only reason Despenser´s eldest and youngest daughter escaped
the nunnery, were because the eldest was already married and the
youngest just an infant.
And although Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer spared the
life of the eldest son of Hugh Le Despenser, he was imprisoned
WAS EDWARD II REALLY KILLED
Another striking question is the way Edward II met his death,
which is to divided in two themes.
Was he murdered or not?
And when he was murdered,
It is generally accepted, that after the invasion of Isabella
 
It is possible, that this good treatment changed, when Edward was
father died during his imprisonment, so he could have taken revenge 
by not treating Edward well, although there is no proof he did.
Whether Edward II really faced the horrible death that is
narrated, isn’t sure at all.
Kathryn Warner, writer of Edward II, ”an Unconventional
However, the historian Ian Mortimer assumes, that Edward was
Interesting for historians to investigate further, but to me  it is
very likely, that Isabella and Mortimer, after deposing Edward
in favour of his son, would finally get rid of him.
Since there was no ”abdication” of Kings in the Middle
Ages, the situation of two anointed Kings in England
,one deposed and the other crowned, could easily
be a threat for Edward III and therefore for the
regime of Isabella and Mortimer, the de facto rulers,
COULD POSSIBLY SCOTTISH FREEDOM FIGHTER WILLIAM WALLACE
HAVE FATHERED EDWARD III
A JOKE AND A FAIRY TALE
The last question I want to mention here is simply
a joke, implying that Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace
could have been the father of Edward III.
The story is told in the film ”Braveheart”, which I highly
value because of the coureageous resistance of the Scottish against
English domination.
But however impressive, historical facts must be correct.
Although it would be highly unlikely [as presented in the film]
 that King Edward I  would have sent his daughter in law,
wife to his heir and daughter to the French King, to ”negociate”
with the rebel Braveheart [unless he wanted war with France,
since the French King would not forgive this insult to his daughter,
let alone the danger for holding as a hostage, to which she was exposed]
the historical facts speak against this fairy tale since:
When William Wallace was executed, the future Queen Isabella was
King Edward I and Isabella never met, since he died in 1307 and
And do you want to have a good laugh?
Even Roger Mortimer, later lover of Queen Isabella
and supposedly responsible for the death of Edward II
Problem with that is, that Mortimer was physically
Funny stories.
No historical facts.
 
 
EPILOGUE AND AFTERMATH
 
 
Of course I don’t close my eyes for the less dramatical and more
political sides of Edward’s period:
The political ill judgment and lack of military skill [unlike his
father King Edward I], as his dependance of favourites,thus
alienating his natural allies, the powerful nobility, represented
The corruption and misuse of power during Edward’s alliance with
the Despensers and the mock trials they gave their enemies like
the 2nd Duke of Lancaster, although Edward II was merciful enough [likely
because of his close relationship with the Earl] not let him hanged,
drawn and quarted, but merely beheading.
And later, when Edward was stripped from power,
 
But here I have emphasized on the more personal, dramatic sides
of the reign of Edward II, especially the impossibility of following
his own sexual preference, and his love for Piers Gaveston,
with all the tragic events involved and the reaction of his environment.
 
Whether he was murdered or not [murder is the most likely]
he met a tragic end.
This, as his complicated personality and his turbulent reign, is
much worth to pay attention to.
He had a tragic life.
Sometimes I wonder if Edward rather had died that fatal
day his beloved Piers Gaveston lost his life………….
 
Thanks for travelling with me to the past again.
Astrid Essed

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