23 September, 2008

Blog Break

This will be the last post for a while, as I'm off to Yorkshire on holiday, visiting lots of historical sites. Can't wait! The next post will be on or around 8 October, and I'll be posting pics (at least, I certainly hope so) of the following:

Knaresborough Castle
Sheriff Hutton Castle
Helmsley Castle
Pickering Castle
Rievaulx Abbey
Fountains Abbey
Byland Abbey
Kirkham Priory

And possibly a few more places, depending on how much time we have (and depending on the not terribly reliable Yorkshire weather!)

It probably didn't escape your notice that two days ago, 21 September, marked the 681st anniversary of Edward II's supposed murder at Berkeley Castle. Whenever, wherever and however he really died, it seemed as good a time as any for me to raise a glass in memory of the ineffectual, unpredictable and exasperating man I can't help being devoted to. RIP, Edward!

18 September, 2008

Edward II and Langley Priory

In December 1308, at the age of twenty-four, Edward II founded a Dominican priory at (Kings) Langley in Hertfordshire, "in fulfilment of a vow made by the king in peril," whenever that was - probably on one of his sea crossings.

Edward granted the Dominicans (or Black Friars, or Friars Preacher) of Langley £100 annually from the Exchequer, and on 20 December 1308, "for the safety of his own soul and those of his ancestors," gave them "his garden adjacent to the parish church of that place [Langley], with two plots of land next to the garden." From other references, it's clear that the priory was built in Edward's park. On 21 December, he gave them his building of Little London (Little Loundr') to live in "until the place granted to them be built."

On 24 October 1311, in the middle of Edward's struggles with the Ordainers, who were trying to force Piers Gaveston into exile for the third time, the king found time to remember his foundation, and gave them another £50 a year on top of the £100 he'd already granted them. On 28 March 1312, Edward granted them 700 marks for building expenses, stating that the priory was a place "in which to celebrate prayers daily for the souls of his ancestors, and for himself and his state." On 20 September that year, he upped the Dominicans' annual allowance to 500 marks (£333). By now, there were probably forty-five friars at Langley. Although Edward intended the priory to hold a hundred friars, it's doubtful that it ever achieved this number.

The beginning of 1315 saw the funeral of Piers Gaveston at Langley, a magnificent and, for Edward II at least, deeply emotional occasion. Sadly, Piers' tomb disappeared at the Dissolution, though the tombs of Edward's grandson Edmund, duke of York, and his wife Isabel of Castile, also buried at Langley, survive. Five months after Piers' funeral, Edward granted the Dominicans "the dwelling-place of the king's manor of Langele, with its closes, to hold in frank almoin to them and their successors celebrating divine service for the souls of the king's progenitors, the king's soul, and the souls of all Christians. Further grant to them of the vesture of the king's wood which is called 'Chepervillewode' to take at will for firing and other necessaries."

In the spring of 1318, Edward began to go ahead with plans to found a house of Dominican nuns at Langley, and wrote to the pope asking his permission. He probably intended to make his foundation independent of his own grants of money from the Exchequer, and as the Dominicans were not allowed to own property, he planned for the nuns to hold lands in trust for them. This matter may have been on Edward’s mind for some time, as in October 1316, he sent Robert Duffeld, his confessor and prior of Langley, to see Brother Berengar, master of the Order in England, and asked the Order to treat Duffield’s requests favourably. Although Edward wrote again to John XXII in October 1318 and January 1319 asking him to appropriate the church of Kingsclere for the sisters and to expedite the process, and wrote to the master of the Dominicans asking him to have seven sisters ready to send, his plans foundered. It wasn't until 1349 that the foundation finally went ahead.

Langley Priory existed for 230 years, until Prior Richard Yngworth surrendered it to Henry VIII's commissioners at the end of 1538. Although Queen Mary and King Philip (of Spain) refounded it in June 1557, as a house of Dominican sisters, it didn't survive Elizabeth I's first parliament. There's more information about the priory here, here and here, and this is the website of a school which now stands on the site (which incorrectly says that Edward I founded the priory).


- Calendar of Patent Rolls 1307-1313, pp. 95, 96, 148, 397, 453, 515.
- Calendar of Patent Rolls 1313-1317, p. 295.
- Calendar of Close Rolls 1313-1318, p. 438.
- Foedera, II, i, pp. 359, 360, 361, 375, 384.
- Calendar of Papal Petitions 1342-1419, p. 187.
- Friaries: King's Langley priory', A History of the County of Hertford: Volume 4 (1971), pp. 446-451. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=37971. Date accessed: 17 September 2008.

12 September, 2008

Household Ordinance of 1318, Part Two

The second part of my translation, from the French, of parts of the 1318 Household Ordinance of Edward II, this time focusing on the Marshalsea, or stables - a vital office in a household as itinerant as Edward II's was. Here are a few of the jobs as detailed in the Ordinance:

Item, 1 segeant herberiour (harbinger, stableman) of the king's palfreys, who will guard the palfreys, destriers, coursers and other horses of the king's stable. And he will ride alongside the king, in his company, and will carry the saddle-cloths of the horses the king will mount. And he will lead to the king the horse which he will mount; and he will receive the king on his dismount. And he will make purveyance of all manner of harnesses which belong to his office...And he will eat in the hall. When he is outside the court on the king's business, at the testimony of the said chief clerk of the marshalsea, he will take 4p a day for his wages [recorded in] the rolls of the marshalsea; and livery for 2 horses, and livery for 1 boy; 2 robes per year, or 46 shillings and 8p in money; and for his bed a gallon of ale, 3 candles.

Item, 1 valet herberiour beneath him, who will stable the king's destriers, palfreys, coursers and other horses...He will find a cresset [lamp] every night burning in the stable, and will take every day for the said cresset 2p; for wages, 2p a day; 1 robe per year, or 1 mark in money; and for shoes, 4 shillings and 8p for 2 seasons of the year.

Item, 1 sergeant herberiour of pack-horses (or sumpter-horses) and carthorses.

Item, 1 valet herberiour beneath him, who will stable the said horses, pack-horses and carts, and ensure that the said horses are well and comfortably provided for; and he will help in doing all things of this same office according to the instructions and commands of the said sergeant.

Item, 1 chief clerk purveyor of the oats, who will make the purveyances of hay, oats, straw, harnesses, and other things required by the office of the marshalsea...And he will take livery for one horse, and wages for 1 boy, 1p per day, and 2 robes per year, or 40 shillings in money. And his bed shall be carried on the cart of his office.

Item, 1 sergeant marshal, who will make sure that the horses are well guarded, and will make medicines, and will receive money from the Wardrobe for the medicinal items of his office...

Item, there shall be 20 carts for the offices, each to 5 horses...and for the said carts there shall be 20 carters...

Item, there shall be 34 pack-horses, 16 for the king's chamber, 18 for the other offices of the household; to the keeping of which shall be assigned 34 sumpters (drivers), who will guard the said pack-horses...

Item, 1 hackneyman (that word is written in English: hakeneyman)

Item, 1 sergeant marshall, keeper of the great horses lodged outside the court...And the said sergeant will have as many valets to guard the said horses as there are horses in his keeping, and no more. And each of the said valets will take 2p per day for wages, 1 robe per year, or 10 shillings in money.

Item, 1 sergeant marshal, keeper of the young horses, who shall be moved out of the king's stud, the other horses also, who will be delivered to him to look after at any time by the king's command; who will look after the young horses well and comfortably, until such time as they are ready to work, and when the king wishes. And he will take livery of hay and oats for the horses, 1 boy at 1p a day wages, and 2 robes per year, or 40 shillings in money. And he will have as many valets as he has horses, and no more; and each of the valets will take 2p a day wages, 1 robe per year or 10 shillings in money, and for shoes 3 shillings and 4p.

And the other jobs of the Marshalsea:

- chief clerk
- chief clerk purveyor
- 2 valet purveyors of oats
- 1 carrier of grain, "who will carry sacks full of grain"
- 1 groom for sick horses.

05 September, 2008

Knowledge of Far-Flung Places

A post about letters Edward II sent to distant places!

I've mentioned in a previous post that Edward sent a letter in October 1307 to 'Dolgietus, king of the Tartars'. Six weeks later, he sent a letter to the same man, except that now he was addressed 'emperor of the Tartars' and not named. The letters thanked 'Dolgietus' for sending letters to Edward I - who had died in July that year - and talked diplomatically of Edward's pleasure at the friendship and peace between himself and Dolgietus.

'Dolgietus' is better known as Oljeitu or Öljaitü, also called Mohammed Khadobandeh, great-great-great-grandson of Genghis Khan and the ruler of the Il-Khanate from 1304 to his death in 1316. The Il-Khanate was one of the four khanates of the Mongol Empire, and covered modern-day Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and western Pakistan. (The Mongol Empire was the second greatest empire the world has ever seen, only behind the British Empire in terms of territory, and not by much: see this map for its development.)

Early in his reign, Edward II also sent two letters to the king of Armenia, one on behalf of the bishop of Lidda and a group of English Dominicans going to Armenia to preach against Islam (!!) and the second thanking the king for his gift - sadly not specified - and promising to attend to his unspecified requests at a later date. (He didn't.) In the first letter, the king is not named, but in the second, dated 1 March 1308, he's addressed as Leo; in fact, King Leo III of Armenia had been murdered the previous August.

And on 20 May 1313, Edward II sent a letter to four eminent men:

- Oljeitu, his old correspondent, now addressed as 'emperor of the Persians' (and not named)
- David, king of Georgia (or 'king of the Georgians', Jurgiani)
- the emperor of Trebizond (not named)
- the emperor of Cathay (not named)

Edward sent the letter recommending a friar called Guillerinus de Villanova, travelling to these places to spread the word of Christ among the infidels, as Edward called them. Unfortunately, Edward's information was somewhat out of date, and Davit VIII, king of Georgia, had died two years previously and been succeeded by his young son Giorgi VI, the Little, who was appointed by Oljeitu. (Davit's father was King Demetre II, called 'the Self-Sacrificing'). The Emperor of Cathay, i.e. China, was Renzong, or Ayurbarwada Buyantu Khan, of the Yuan dynasty, who died in 1320. The Empire of Trebizond was a successor state to the Byzantine Empire, founded in 1204 on the shores of the Black Sea in modern-day Turkey. Its emperor in 1313 was Alexios II, son of John II and Eudokia Palaiologina, and nephew of the Byzantine Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos.

Unfortunately, it's not clear if Edward's messengers reached these distant places safely, or when they returned to England, or what the reaction was to the preachy Friar Guillerinus de Villanova.

In 1313, Edward made strenuous attempts to free the English knight Sir Giles Argentein - said to be the third greatest knight in Europe, after the Holy Roman Emperor and Robert Bruce - who had been captured in Thessalonika on his way back from the Holy Land. On 12 October 1313, Edward sent letters to the Byzantine Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos, his son and co-emperor Michael, his second wife the Empress Eirene, born Yolande of Montferrat, and another of his sons, Theodore, marquis of Montferrat. He also sent a letter on Argentein's behalf to Federico III, king of Sicily, the son of Pedro III of Aragon. This major diplomatic effort worked, and Giles Argentein returned to England - to be killed at Bannockburn on 24 June 1314.

In August 1320, Edward wrote to the king of Cyprus, asking him to protect three Dominicans going there to preach to the Saracens. The king is not named in the letter, which says "To the magnificent lord prince..., by the grace of God illustrious king of Cyprus, Edward, etc, greetings...", as though no-one knew the king's name but left a gap in the hope that they could find someone to fill it in. In fact, he was Henry II de Lusignan.

Since 1291, several had men claimed the title of 'king of Jerusalem', one of them being Henry of Cyprus. Tactfully, however, Edward II also acknowledged the claims of a rival king and addressed him as 'king of Jerusalem' - this was Robert the Wise, king of Naples, titular king of Sicily as well as Jerusalem, duke of Calabria and count of Provence and Forcalquier, and the grandson of Beatrice of Provence, sister of Edward II's grandmother Eleanor, and thus Edward's second cousin. He was the brother of Philip, prince of Archaea and Taranto, who sent his minstrel to play for Edward in 1316. Edward sometimes asked Robert the Wise to intercede with the pope for him, for example in 1316 and 1317, when he wrote to John XXII at least ten times asking him to inaugurate William Melton as archbishop of York. Robert died in 1343.

As well as the usual suspects with whom Edward corresponded frequently - for example, the king of France, the counts of Hainault, Flanders, Bar, the duke of Brabant - he wrote occasionally to Haakon V, king of Norway, uncle of Edward's first fiancée, Margaret the Maid of Norway. On 12 June 1319, Edward addressed a letter to Haakon, asking him to ensure that the debts a Norwegian bishop owed to the merchants of Lynn (Norfolk) were paid - unaware that Haakon had died on 8 May. Edward also corresponded rather infrequently with Jaime II, king of Aragon, King Diniz of Portugal, his cousin - Diniz's mother Beatriz being the illegitimate daughter of Alfonso X of Castile, Edward's uncle - and Diniz's wife Isabel of Aragon and his successor Afonso IV. Edward also showed an excellent knowledge of intricate Castilian politics and precisely who was wielding power at any given time during the minority of Alfonso XI, though his knowledge of Aragonese affairs was not quite as impressive: in October 1325, he was forced to write to the archbishop of Zaragoza to apologise that his envoys had not presented themselves or communicated their affairs to the archbishop on their recent visit to Aragon.

And finally, Edward, a great supporter of the Dominican order, often asked Dominican chapters in other countries to pray for himself, Queen Isabella and their children - in Toulouse, Pamplona, Marseilles, Rouen, Paris, Florence, Venice and Barcelona.

- Foedera, Conventiones, Litterae et Cujuscunque Acta Publica, ed. Thomas Rymer, volume II, i, pp. 8, 17, 18, 37, 39, 216, 288, 324, 385, 400, 405, 421, 433, 466, 470.
- Calendar of Close Rolls 1313-1318, pp. 71, 76, 462.
- Calendar of Close Rolls 1318-1323, pp. 187, 363, 699.
- Calendar of Close Rolls 1323-1327, pp. 353, 516-517, 556.
- W. R. Childs, 'England in Europe in the Reign of Edward II' in The Reign of Edward II: New Perspectives, ed. Gwilym Dodd and Anthony Musson (2006), pp. 97-118.