Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Golden Age of the Middle Ages

Isabella made Roger Mortimer the head of the new king's regency council, as young Edward was not quite of age & she could get away w/ it. Mortimer was not looked upon as the savior of the realm from the Despensers much above 5 min b/c he was just as bad w/ the goodies & peeps felt it unseemly that he was openly carrying on w/ the queen, wife & kidlets conveniently back in the Welsh marches.

Just a yr after Dad's deposition, Edward married 16 yo Philippa of Hainault at York Minster. 
tomb effigy of Philippa of Hainault in Westminster Abbey;
jeez did she demise in curlers or what?

Isabella thunk now that he was king he could do far better than a plump little dumpling nobody from the Low Countries, but Edward was determined to honor his agreement w/ Philippa's father & besides, the kids had hung out together some & wanted to play house.  Besides, Philippa brought some old blood w/ her, as she could trace her family tree back to Harold Godwineson's daughter, Gytha.  Within a yr & a half Edward Jr was born.  Edward was pushing 18 & really starting to look at Mummy's BF sideways.  The king was not amused w/ being kept in leading strings as a teenager wouldn't be, esp w/ Mortimer at the other end of the leash & Mummy nodding & smiling at it. So he got together a bunch of his peeps & snuck into Mummy's chambers at Nottingham Castle in the dead of night & yanked Mortimer out & clapped him right back in the Tower again.  No escaping this time HA HA 

Isabella was supposedly prostrate at his feet (& also rumored to be pregnant) pleading for the life of her gentle Mortimer, but Edward lopped off his head, banished Mummy to Castle Rising,
Castle Rising

dissolved the regency council, & commenced his journey on being the main cause of the Wars of the Roses.

Edward & Philippa just had TOO MANY KIDS. Twould take 11dy6 more posts just to sort out the begats alone. Suffice to say A LOT & they were mostly all prolific themselves so then there were TOO MANY DESCENDENTS. But we are getting ahead of the tale here....keep that in mind for later when WOTR begins, tho.  Little Edward of Woodstock was soon joined by Isabella, Joan, Lionel of Antwerp, John of Gaunt, Edmund of Langley, Mary, Margaret, & Thomas of Woodstock (note: from here on in, keep an eye peeled for the youngest sib, generally a Duke of Gloucester).  This isn't even counting the 5 offerings to the God of High Infant Mortality, so at least we're not dealing w/ little Henry, Philippa, Richard, Catherine, & William as well.  Edward is another English king who didn't breed up a passel of bastards & his only known GF, the greedy Alice Perrers who is said to have stripped his rings from his fingers when he demised, was when Philippa was 55 & dying (they said she had the dropsy, so prolly some kidney thing).  Nigh on 40 yrs of looking at the same chick was a pretty good record for a king.

In btwn such pleasant pastime as shooting little swimmers, Edward decided to repudiate Mortimer's peace w/ Scotland & commence re-hammering.  He trounced em at the battle of Halidon Hill, shoved the boy king David Bruce off the throne, & installed John Baliol's heir Edward as king.  The little king was flung upon the mercy of the Auld Alliance & spirited off to France for safekeeping (shades of MQOS; history really DO repeat itself LOL).  At age 4 David was married to Edward's 7 yo sister, Joan of the Tower AKA Joan Makepeace; now they were 9 & 12 & would spend 8 yrs in Frenchie exile together b4 returning to rule.  5 yrs later David was captured at the battle of Neville's Cross & held prisoner for 11 yrs.  Joan visited Mummy at Castle Rising lots (they were said to be quite close) & went to court, seemingly unperturbed at not being permitted to cohabit w/ her DH.  When David was finally released Joan refused to go back to Scotland w/ him & so he couldn't remarry until she demised.  This is why there were no more little Bruces & the Stewarts entered stage left.  Reckon them Scots learnt their lesson about asking the English to sort their royal affairs LOL

Edward decided he could take those Frenchies & get back the continental Plantagenet empire, so he started what's known as the Hundred Years' War even tho twas more like 114 yrs. All 3 of Isabella's bros had demised sans heirs & the French throne went to a cuz, so Edward added fleur de lis to his English lions on his heraldry stuff & claimed he was the rightful king thru Mummy.  This is why English kings for yonks added on "& France" to their kingship titles.  The Frenchies said um NO we still got that Salic Law thingy, nice try & TYVM for playing, Ed.  Edward said pffft watch me & laid siege to Calais, winning it for the English.

His eldest son, known as the Black Prince & quite the warrior, engineered nice victories at Crecy & Poitiers for Dad.  The French king John was captured at Poitiers & held for ransom but the Frenchies said meh keep him & never pd it LOL, so he demised in England.  And there was this nutjob blind king of Bohemia who was allied w/ the French & rode onto the battlefield w/ his horsie tethered btwn a pair of squires & who natch got kilt in battle b/c he couldn't see who was swinging a sword at him ROFL  WTF was he thinkin?

Pretty soon Edward owned more of France than the Frenchies did & the Treaty of Bretigny was signed off on acknowledging such. There was lots of loot & plunder & his peeps were happy peeps.  Once the French king demised (likely of embarrassment LOL), his successor, Charles, started stuff up again & alas there were some reverses, but by the Treaty of Bruges England got to keep Calais, Bordeaux, & Bayonne.

Tales of Arthurian chivalry were popular & Edward was hmmm'ing about creating a Round Table, but then he got old & had the forgets.  He did invent the Order of the Garter (to which Wills just recently had to dress up all funny & join) b/c once b4 she was his DIL, Joan of Kent lost a garter whilst dancing & peeps were snickering at her dainties lying there on the floor as ya would; Edward picked it up & slapped it over his own kneecap, frowning at peeps w/ a shame on y'all who think ill of it (sounds much better when he said it in French LOL).

That outbreak of the Black Death was pretty much the only bummer in Edward's reign.  The only one of his daughters who didn't keep a baron happy by being presented w/ a princess to wife, Joan, demised of it at age 12.  Joan was en route to Spain to marry a prince whom history would later nick Pedro the Cruel, so mayhap she was better off.  Edward's domestic policy consisted of pretty much marrying as many of his kids as he could to fat-cat barons or fat heiresses so everyone would be grateful to him.  All of those royal blood peeps running round the country would prove to have a detrimental effect later, but meh, Edward was dust by then & didn't care.

Edward III

The Black Prince (apparently called such b/c he either liked black armor or had a bad temper), who was quite the hot commodity on the international marriage mart for royals, had everyone going awwww when he made a love match w/ the Fair Maid of Kent, who was actually kind of his cousin b/c Joan was the daughter of Edmund, Earl of Kent, half-bro of Edward II, a minor detail when the church would hand over dispensations for such for the right amt of coin. The BP was based in sunny southern France to keep an eye on things military & bred up a cpl heirs nicely w/ the Fair Maid. Then he got a bad stomachache for a long time & shockingly wasted away & demised young (prolly some kind of cancer methinks).

tomb effigy of the Black Prince
at Canterbury Cathedral;
don't he look uncomfy lying on his shield
there for all eternity?

Edward wasted no time in having his peeps swear allegiance to BPs son, Richard of Bordeaux, as his heir, as Edward was getting mighty old himself & beginning to slide into senility. Edward's 2nd son, Lionel, had also demised in a freak accident on his honeymoon in Italy w/ DW#2, Violante Visconti of the rich Italian banking house peeps.  He tripped over a loose paving stone & whacked his head.  Twas a long way down b/c Lionel was called an "amiable giant" & was supposedly round 6'6".  By DW#1, Elizabeth de Burgh, a huge Irish heiress, he had a daughter, Philippa, & meh they still weren't fussed at the notion of girly rulers (Exhibit A: Edward II ROFL).  Besides, Edward married her off to a Mortimer!  The 3rd son was John of Gaunt & he was still breathing.

John of Gaunt
um YUM!
that's what Scarlet calls smokin' hot!
Dude's got some bedroom eyes goin' on

He was left to carry on the Frenchie wars, which alas, he was not as good at as the BP & so there were some reverses that made him unpopular. Gaunt was the Duke of Lancaster (see?) b/c he'd married its heiress, cuz Blanche, & then he got this bee in his bonnet that he had a decent claim thru a princess ancestress to the throne of Castile & married the heiress to THAT, Constance....but in the meantime he was carrying on nicely w/ Catherine Swynford & breeding a family of bastard kidlets w/ her. Catherine's sister Philippa was married to Geoffrey Chaucer, who was the 1st official poet laureate type of dude & so there was The Canterbury Tales, also famous for being the 1st thing written in English & not French, tho ya wouldn't know it to look at the original.

Son #4, Edmund of Langley, was the Duke of York & 1st he married Isabella of Castile (not the famous one) & then Margaret Holland, one of Gaunt's DILs sisters.  Twould be his son Richard who would marry Philippa & Edmund Mortimer's daughter Anne & therefore grab a double claim to the throne for the House of York.

Son #5, Thomas of Woodstock, was the Duke of Gloucester, & like all babies of big families, lived to make trouble for his older sibs.  When Gaunt's eldest legit son Henry got the fat matrimonial plum of a de Bohun heiress, Mary, Thomas whinged & got the other fat de Bohun heiress, Eleanor, as a bride.  Philippa & Edward bred so early & so long that baby Thomas was 25 yrs younger than the BP, so more of an age w/ his nevvys than his bros.  He would be a prime troublemaker for the next King of England.

OK sue me, I DID do the begats....I can't help it....

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