Thursday, April 15, 2010

O What a Royal Mess!

Chalk & cheese was the difference btwn these 2 guys. Edward II was unfussed w/ this whole war legacy Pops had left him to grapple w/ & did such a lousy job at it that he was forced to make peace w/ Robert the Bruce after being trounced at the battle of Bannockburn. The English peeps howled in outrage, maybe they thunk there was something good to be conquered other than haggis & kilts, dunno, but after all those yrs to just walk away from Scot-hammering didn't sit well w/ them.

Edward also liked to putter. Puttering was not kingly in the least. He liked gardening & building things, & not just ordering peeps around, either. He got right in there & got his own mitts dirty. Peeps was shaking their heads b/c after nigh of 40 yrs of Longshanks hammering everything in sight this was quite the change.

Pops had betrothed Edward to a French princess, Isabella (for future reference, every French-born queen whom the English did not like was henceforth known as "The She-Wolf of France"). Edward Jr skipped across the Channel to Boulogne to wed the wench, leaving his favorite, Piers Gaveston, as regent of the realm in his absence.  Peeps were not amused.  Duty was done & heirs produced, (tediously) Edward, John, Eleanor, & Joan, but alas, twas rumored Edward preferred to bat for the other team.

stone carving of Isabella the Fair
AKA the She-Wolf of France
She's got Bette Davis eyes....
& Joan Crawford's eyebrows LOL

In fact, Pops had exiled Jr's BFF Piers Gaveston for snuggling up a little too closely, & the 1st thing Edward did after Pops shucked off his mortal coil was to call Brother Perrot back & heap him w/ goodies, incl the rich Duchy of Cornwall w/ its income-producing tin mines, which he swiped out from under the nose of his half-bro Thomas of Brotherton. His other peeps wanted goodies, too, so they were unamused w/ Gaveston.

Edward even married him off to his niece, Margaret de Clare, which was also irksome b/c the 2 Gloucester girls, daughters of the king's sister Joan, were big fat heiresses. So there was grumbling galore, esp when Piers showed up to Edward's coronation clad in royal purple.  That was kingly apparel, not for a mere Gascon knight! Edward's peeps were mighty irked & said Piers had to go.  So Edward created him Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, which made them all bang their heads on the council table.  If one could get the Irish to behave, which Gaveston was able to accomplish, it was a job w/ lots of rich plums for the picking.  And it was usually a job given to a member of the royal family (John held the position once, very badly, under Henry II) or a peep who was high-born enough to deserve it.  Gaveston doing a splendid job there was irksome to all b/c they had no reason to oppose Edward when he said Piers could come back.

Edward's cuz of Lancaster (note: from here on in there will most always be a meddling rellie of Lancaster) decided he was sick of Piers flouncing round the court flaunting his relationship w/ Edward & getting too many goodies. He got banished again but Edward said pffft & recalled him. They prolly snickered about it lots w/ all this to-ing & fro-ing that accomplished naught. 

So Lancaster decided to get rid of the prob permanently. He raised an army & attacked Gaveston's castle of Newcastle, where Edward was lollygagging, & twas all RUN AWAY RUN AWAY!  Gaveston was captured & kept prisoner in Warwick Castle....for a while.

Warwick Castle

It took Lancaster 9 days to toddle over & say TYVM to Warwick's castellan (the peep who held the castle), Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, for hanging onto the little creep for him.  Gaveston was taken out to Blacklow Hill, where a cpl of Welsh peeps in Lancaster's employ dispatched him posthaste.  Instead of the nice traditional block, tis said one of the flunkeys suddenly ran him thru w/ his sword, & whilst Piers was busily engaged in writhing on the grass & demising, the other was told to lop off his head to make sure of it. 

Tis said Edward was crushed w/ grief & refused to permit Piers to be buried until the church peeps came in & snagged the corpse out from under his nose & took care of it.  Peeps were all eye-rolling at this & thunk for sure there was a romantic involvement there; some contemporary chroniclers wrote down that the king was obsessed w/ desire for "wicked & forbidden sex" & termed his relationship w/ Piers as "excessive"....ya think? 

Isabella hadn't much liked Piers b/c she was regarded as a great beauty & was used to having men fall all over her, whilst her DH & his BFF were too wrapped up in each other to pay her much mind.  But she was kind of appalled that Lancaster would dare attack a castle in which the king lollygagged, so she had to be on Edward's side in all of this.  An attack on one royal peep was an attack on em all & she had the future of 2 sons to consider here.

After a suitable mourning period, Edward then took up w/ Hugh le Despenser, following the pattern of goodies & a Gloucester niece, Eleanor, in marriage, the other fat heiress. To add slight confusion, Hugh's father was also named Hugh & he got a plum seat on the king's council & goodies, too. Peeps were looking at the king sideways & going JEEZ NOT AGAIN.  When Edward swiped some Welsh peep's castle & presented it to Hugh the Younger, Lancaster decided twas time to put this mincing favorite down as well.  Once again banishment was meted out to both father & son.  Hugh Sr retired to sunny Bordeaux, whilst Hugh Jr riled up peeps further by becoming an English Channel pirate LOL  The coalition of barons who'd gotten rid of the Despensers started infighting amongst themselves, so Edward seized the opportunity to have Lancaster's head on a block.  The Despensers quickly returned & soon twas clear they were the power behind the throne, EZ-ily leading Edward round by the nose.  Nobody else was brave enough to step up & say anything against them after seeing Lancaster's head go rolling.

Isabella, meanwhile, was at her limit.  She hated Hugh le Despenser even more than she'd hated Piers Gaveston.  Gaveston was a harmless greedy goodies gobbler compared to the Despensers.  At least Gaveston never shoved Edward aside & tried to run the joint.  There's speculation that either Isabella WHOOPS walked in on her DH & his new BFF having sex & realized WOW those rumors ARE true, or that the younger Despenser, seeking a way to control her as well as Edward, may have raped her into submission w/ Edward's tacit wink.  Isabella had complained long & loud about Piers, but she soon shut up about Hugh.

Roger Mortimer was the Earl of March on the Welsh marches, & supposedly a smokin' hot dude.  He'd actually served in Ireland under Gaveston's rule. He got slapped in the Tower for scowling at pere et fils le Despenser & escaped to France. The Tower hadn't yet acquired its bad rep as the bad place, but it was a mighty secure fortress & peeps were amazed Mortimer managed to sneak out.  Legend has it that Isabella assisted, but there's no proof of it.

There devolved an issue btwn Edward & Isabella's brother Charles regarding homage due for the small province of Gascony that was what was left of the once humungous Plantagenet empire, so Edward sent his DW off as emissary to her annoying bro, prolly glad to get rid of her so he could give BFF Hugh his undivided attn. Isabella supposedly commenced a torrid affair w/ Roger Mortimer as soon as she got off the ship (or it may have begun earlier, if the tale of her getting Roger out of the Tower has any truth to it), despite them both being married. Charles finally agreed to accept the homage for Gascony from Edward's heir, so the kidlet was sent over to join Mummy.  Tis said getting custody of the heir's person was part of a much larger plan, b/c from France they went to Hainault & Edward Jr was engaged to Philippa of such in exchange for lots of money to raise a force to invade England & get rid of the Despensers.

So Isabella now the She-Wolf spearheaded a successful invasion. Edward & Hugh couldn't get enough peeps to defend London, so they looked at each other & said RUN AWAY RUN AWAY!  London then was under mob rule & Walter Stapledon, Bishop of Exeter, was attacked & murdered.  Edward's Lord Chancellor was placed under house arrest, but a London mob busted him out & tossed him into Newgate Prison to be gleefully murdalized by its criminal population.  There was lots of chaos as Edward & Hugh scampered to Wales as fast as they could manage.  Hugh's father was caught at the port of Bristol & hanged posthaste.  Finally Mortimer's peeps caught up w/ the king & his BFF.  Edward was sent to Kenilworth under house arrest whilst Hugh was dragged off to meet Isabella at Hertford.

Even tho twas considered a courtesy for a nobleman under sentence of death to be beheaded, Isabella decided that wasn't good enough for Hugh the Younger ooooo no. He got the same punishment as Braveheart did....hanged, drawn, quartered, PLUS disembowelled AND beheaded, AFTER being dragged to the place of execution behind a horse.  Ya think she hated him muchly?  WOW that's overkill! Legend has it Mortimer promised her Hugh's cojones on a necklace LOL

Isabella got her hands on the Great Seal & used it liberally, acting as king. Edward was forced to abdicate in favor of his 15 yo son. He was then imprisoned in Berkeley Castle whilst his future breathing was debated by his DW & her BF.

Berkeley Castle

His half-bro, Thomas, who'd succeeded to the Lancaster title, rose in rebellion to release & reinstate him, acquiring a severed neck for the trouble. Twas clear Edward alive would continue to encourage such pesky uprisings.

Rumor has it this is what happened to him.....

Now bear in mind no one wanted any untoward inquiry into the manner of the death of a king that could pt fingers at Mortimers or their ilks. So twas important that the body could be publicly displayed yet bear no marks of violence. The legendary manner of Edward's demise was allegedly a red-hot poker inserted into his arse to burn out his intestines, yet leave no untoward marks on the long as no one flipped him over, that is.  Considering the allegations of his sexual preference, it seemed like his just desserts.  But this acct of Edward's demise wasn't circulated until 15 yrs later, so no one knows if it really happened.  Isabella had to be mighty ticked off at him if it did.  At the time twas merely said to be natural causes, tho there was the usual yammering about poisoning, strangling, or suffocating.  He was 43 yrs old.  So no one knows how he really died or IF he died, b/c twas also speculated that he managed to escape to Italy.  Italy seems like the place to go when peeps wanted to escape LOL....

tomb effigy of Edward II
in Gloucester Cathedral
Do ya think the guys slept w/
curlers in their beards to get that effect?

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