31 July, 2014

The Year Of...Edward II! :-)

I'd like to thank my good friend Anerje for writing this really amazing blog post about me. Wow! I'm so honoured and flattered!

Not only is my biography of Edward II coming out this year, but so is a new biog of his mother, Eleanor of Castile!  Fantastic news.  It's also with Amberley Publishing, same as mine, and it's by Sara Cockerill.  Here are links to it on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

And, just because I can, here's the cover of my forthcoming book again :)

27 July, 2014

Other European Rulers (1)

In this post and at least one other to follow, I'm taking a look at some of the men who ruled in Europe and further afield at the time of Edward II. Today, Jaime II, king of Aragon; Andronikos II Palaiologos or Palaeologus, emperor of Byzantium; Oljeitu, ruler of the Ilkhanate; Henri de Lusignan, king of Cyprus.

- Jaime II, king of Aragon (born 10 April 1267; acceded 18 June 1291; died 5 November 1327)

Second son of Pedro III of Aragon and Constanza of Sicily, who was the eldest child of Manfred, king of Sicily (the illegitimate son of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and his nobly-born Italian mistress Bianca Lancia).  Jaime was also the great-grandson of Andras or Andrew II of Hungary.  Jaime's elder brother Alfonso III (born November 1265) succeeded their father as king of Aragon in 1285, but, although betrothed for many years to Edward of Caernarfon's eldest sister Eleanor, died suddenly in June 1291 before their marriage could take place, and Jaime thus succeeded to the throne at the age of twenty-four.  Alfonso and Jaime's sister Elisabeth (1271-1336) married King Diniz of Portugal and is a saint of the Catholic Church.  Jaime and Edward II were third cousins via common descent from Thomas, count of Savoy and Beatrice of Geneva (maternal grandparents of Edward's grandmother Eleanor of Provence), and Jaime was a first cousin once removed of Edward's queen Isabella: Isabella's paternal grandmother Isabel of Aragon, queen of France, was the sister of Jaime's father Pedro III.

Jaime was married firstly, a few months after his succession in December 1291, to Isabel of Castile, the eldest child of Sancho IV, king of Castile (grandson of Fernando III and thus Edward of Caernarfon's first cousin). She was only eight at the time. In April 1295 Isabel's father died suddenly, her nine-year-old brother became Fernando IV, and Castile was plunged into civil war and chaos, no longer a useful ally.  Jaime had the marriage annulled, and married instead Blanche of Anjou-Naples, Edward of Caernarfon's second cousin, one of the many children of Charles, king of Naples and Marie of Hungary.  With Blanche, Jaime had his successor Alfonso IV, whose son the future Pedro IV was betrothed to Edward II's daughter Joan of the Tower in 1325, and nine other children.  Alfonso IV was their second son; their eldest Jaime renounced his right to the throne and became a monk in 1319, shortly after marrying Alfonso XI of Castile's sister Leonor. Jaime II at various proposed his daughter Maria as a bride for Edward II's half-brother Thomas of Brotherton, earl of Norfolk, and his youngest daughter Violante (born 1310) as a bride for Edward's son the future Edward III, but neither of these proposals worked out.  When negotiating with Aragon in 1325 about the marriage of Pedro and Joan, Edward II communicated with Alfonso, Jaime II's son and Pedro IV's father, on the rather brutal grounds that Jaime was "old and decrepit and it is not certain that he is not dead."  Edward also communicated at other times with Jaime's fourth son Pedro, count of Ribagorza. Jaime's third son Juan was archbishop of Tarragona and patriarch of Alexandria.  One of his daughters, Isabel, was betrothed to Oshin, king of Armenia, but married Frederick, duke of Austria, and his daughter Violante, proposed as a bride for the future Edward III, married her cousin Philip, despot of Romania.

Queen Blanche died in October 1310, and Jaime married twice more: his third wife, in 1315, was Marie de Lusignan, daughter of Hugh III, king of Cyprus and sister of Henri, king of Cyprus (below), with whom he had no children, and finally to the Spanish noblewoman Elisenda de Moncada, with whom he also had no children.  Marie de Lusignan was already in her forties at the time of the wedding, and had never previously been married.  Jaime, known as el Justo or the Just, died in early November 1327, aged sixty, just a few weeks after the supposed death of Edward II.  His son Alfonso IV was then in his late twenties.

Andronikos II Palaiologos or Palaeologus, emperor of Byzantium (the Eastern Roman Empire) (born 25 March 1259; succeeded as sole emperor 11 December 1282; died 13 February 1332)

Andronikus was the son of the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologus and Theodora Doukaina Vatatzaina, great-niece of the emperor John Doukas Vatatzes.  Michael VIII was the first of the Palaiologan Byzantine emperors, who ruled until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. Andronikus married firstly, in 1273, Anna of Hungary, great-granddaughter of Andras II and thus Jaime II of Aragon's second cousin.  Anna was the daughter of King Istvan or Stephen V of Hungary and Elizabeth the Cuman, who converted to Christianity prior to her marriage (Elizabeth was the great-great-grandmother of Edward III's queen Philippa of Hainault).  From his marriage to Anna, Andronikus was the brother-in-law of two kings of Serbia and of Charles of Anjou, king of Naples, whose daughter Blanche married Jaime II of Aragon.  Andronikus and Anna were the parents of Michael IX Palaiologos, co-emperor with his father until his death in 1320 and father of the emperor Andronikos III Palaiologos and of Theodora, empress of Bulgaria.  Empress Anna died at the beginning of the 1280s, barely into her twenties, and some years later Andronikus married his second wife Yolande of Montferrat.  Yolande was a close cousin of Edward II, being the daughter of Beatriz of Castile and William VII, marquess of Montferrat and titular king of Thessalonika, who had previously been married to Isabella, sister of Gilbert 'the Red' de Clare, earl of Gloucester.  Yolande took the name Eirene on marriage.  Edward II wrote to Andronikus and Eirene in 1313 asking them to use their influence to help release the English knight Sir Giles Argentein, a prisoner in Thessalonika (it worked).  Andronikus died in February 1332 in his early seventies, and was succeeded by his namesake grandson.

Oljeitu, ruler of the Ilkhanate ('king of the Tartars') (born 1278/1280; succeeded May 1304; died 16 December 1316)

The Mongol Empire, the second largest empire the world has ever seen (after the British empire, and not smaller by much) was divided into four parts, and Oljeitu ruled the Ilkhanate, the division covering much of modern-day Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Turkey. Oljeitu was baptised as a Christian but later converted to Buddhism, then to Sunni Islam, then to Shia Islam, and chose as his alternative name Muhammad Khodabandeh.  He was the great-grandson of Hulagu Khan, founder of the Ilkhanate and brother of Kublai Khan ("In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree..."), and great-great-great-grandson of Genghis Khan. After he succeeded his brother Ghazan in 1304, Oljeitu reached out to the western powers, the pope, Philip IV of France and Edward I of England, when he wrote offering an alliance between themselves and the Mongols against the Mamluks of Egypt.  Edward II sent him a very tactless letter in 1307 declaring that he was glad to hear of Oljeitu's intention to destroy the 'abominable sect of Muhammad'. Unfortunately, neither Edward nor any of his advisors knew that Oljeitu was Muslim. [Peter Jackson, The Mongols and the West, p. 177.]  Edward wrote again to Oljeitu in 1313 asking him to protect a friar travelling to his lands to preach to the 'infidels', as he called them.  Oljeitu died in Soltaniyeh in modern-day Iran in 1316, and was succeeded by his son Abu Said, then only eleven.

Henri de Lusignan, king of Cyprus and titular king of Jerusalem (born June 1270/1271; succeeded 20 May 1285; died 31 March 1324)

A distant cousin of Edward II, Henri was the third son of Hugues or Hugh de Lusignan, king of Cyprus, and succeeded his childless brother Jean or John in 1285.  Henri's mother was Isabelle Ibelin, great-granddaughter of the famous Balian Ibelin; her grandfather, Balian's son John, was the half-brother of Isabella, queen of Jerusalem.  Henri's sister Marie married Jaime II of Aragon, above, as his third wife; three other sisters, Marguerite, Helvis and Isabelle, married kings of Armenia.  Henri married the much younger Constanza of Sicily in 1317 but died childless, and his successor was his brother Guy's son Hugh IV.  He was descended from Raymond of Poitiers, prince of Antioch, uncle of Eleanor of Aquitaine, and from Eleanor's grandson Henri, count of Champagne (d. 1197) and his wife Isabella, queen of Jerusalem.  Somewhat confusingly, Henri's great-great-grandfather Amaury, king of Cyprus (d. 1205) was also married to Queen Isabella.  Henri's father Hugh took the name Lusignan from his mother, and they were only fairly distantly related to the Lusignan counts of La Marche.

18 July, 2014

Edward II, Piers Gaveston and Isabella's Jewels That Weren't

The Annales Paulini (ed. Stubbs, p. 258), written in the 1330s, describe something which took place shortly after Edward II's wedding to Isabella of France in Boulogne on 25 January 1308:

Rex Franciae dedit regi Angliae genero suo annulum regni sui, cubile suum quam pulcrum oculis non vidit aliud, destrarios electos et alia donaria multa nimis.  Quae omnia rex Angliae concito Petro misit.

Translation: "The king of France gave to his son-in-law the king of England a ring of his kingdom, the most beautiful bed (or couch) ever seen, select war-horses, and many other extravagant gifts.  All of which the king of England straight away sent to Piers [Gaveston]."

This is the sole and entire basis for the often-repeated modern story that Edward II cruelly and heartlessly gave away his new wife Isabella's jewels and/or wedding gifts to Piers Gaveston.  Hmmmm, curious.  Do you see Isabella's name mentioned anywhere here?  No.  Are the gifts from Philip IV said to have been given to her?  No.  Are the gifts said to have been given to her and Edward jointly?  No.  It says perfectly clearly that "the king of France gave to his son-in-law the king of England..." not "to his son-in-law and his daughter...".  Does it say that Edward intended Piers to keep the items permanently?  No.  Does it say that Edward allowed Piers to keep and wear Isabella's jewels, or keep and use gifts given to her?  No.  Does it say that Edward allowed Piers to wear Isabella's jewels in front of her?  No.  Does the passage actually say anything about jewels at all, apart from one ring?  No.  Does the passage actually say anything about Isabella at all?  No.  Are we supposed to think that Isabella's father would have given her war-horses?  Errrmmmm.

The Annales Paulini (written over two decades later) merely say that Philip IV 'gave' (dedit) some gifts to his new son-in-law after the wedding on 25 January 1308, and that Edward II 'sent' (misit) them to Piers Gaveston, i.e., Edward sent them from France to England.  It is entirely possible that Edward merely intended Piers to store the gifts for him safely, Piers being regent of England during Edward's absence, and being of course the person Edward trusted most.  And even if Edward did intend Piers to keep the gifts permanently, they were his possessions now, no-one else's, and he could do what he liked with them.  Giving them to Piers to keep, if he did, was tactless and rude and it is possible that Edward deliberately intended to annoy Philip IV by doing so, but there is absolutely no reason to suppose that he also in any way intended to offend or hurt Isabella.  To whom, let it be pointed out again, the gifts did not belong.  The Annales say that Philip dedit/gave the gifts to Edward, who misit/sent them to Piers.  The word dedit is not repeated, as we might expect to find if Edward had given the items to Piers with the intention that he should keep them.  Philip gave his daughter a magnificent trousseau to take with her to England, a list of which still exists, and it is clear that the gifts mentioned in the Annales were for Edward alone.  Obviously, Edward, being in France, would have to take or send his gifts back to England at some point.  Why should he not send them to his regent?

To sum up: does this passage say anywhere at all or even hint that Edward II gave his queen's jewels away to Piers Gaveston?  Nope, not even close.  Does it say that he gave away his and her wedding gifts to Piers Gaveston?  No, it only says that he sent the gifts given solely to him to Piers, which may simply mean that he intended Piers to store them safely for him.  So why then are modern books, fiction and so-called non-fiction, and online articles so full of breathless claims that 'Edward II gave away his wife's jewels/gifts to his lover!'?  Why can't people do some proper research and read the source they're supposedly quoting?  Why do they insist on repeating a story without bothering to check that it's true?  Someone once saw this passage in the Annales, put two and two together and made 857, and it's been repeated as 'fact' ever since, with numerous details embroidered to make Edward look even worse and to add to the popular modern Victim!Isabella myth.  As Anerje pointed out in a comment here, 'Edward II gave Piers Gaveston Isabella's war-horses!' doesn't quite have the same indignant ring to it, but would at least be more accurate, given what is actually written in the Annales Paulini.

The story recounted here a quarter of a century later is simply that Edward II, newly married in Boulogne, sent the wedding gifts from his new father-in-law to his regent and best friend in England, most probably just to store for him, and from this basic and rather dull fact, writers from the nineteenth century onwards have made up a load of overwrought nonsense about the king deliberately hurting his new wife by giving her own jewels and gifts away to his lover, with some fiction piling melodramatic insult on injury by having Piers flaunt himself in the jewels in front of a distraught Isabella.  Poor Edward, to be maligned like this, to have such silly stories made up about him and repeated endlessly as 'fact'.

11 July, 2014

Publication Of My Edward II Biography

I'm very pleased and proud to announce that my book Edward II: The Unconventional King will be published on 28 October!  It's with Amberley Publishing, is 336 pages long and will include a foreword by Ian Mortimer.  I'm keen to demolish all the myths about Edward so often repeated as fact, but absolutely don't want to whitewash him and gloss over all his many faults and errors.  It's a chronological narrative of his reign and what happened to him afterwards, with particular focus on the personal, as there are plenty of books already about the politics of Edward's time.  I want to give the reader a far more vivid and accurate account of Edward than has been seen before.

Edward II is available for pre-order:

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Book Depository
Guardian Bookshop
Amazon Germany

It's also listed on Goodreads.

To follow me on Twitter, I post as RoyneAlianore ('Queen Eleanor' in thirteenth/fourteenth-century French, in honour of Edward II's mother Eleanor of Castile, of course).

If you're on Facebook and we're not already friends, do please feel free to add me; my username there is kathrynedwardthesecond, haha :-)

Edward II has his own Facebook page, which I update daily.

If you're on Goodreads and would like to connect there, here's my profile!

And finally, if you feel like emailing me with any questions, comments, feedback or just to say hello, I'd love to hear from you at EdwardofCaernarfon(at)yahoo(dot)com.

07 July, 2014

The Quest for Bannockburn Online

The Quest for Bannockburn documentary is now available online on Vimeo, in its entirety!

Part one is here

Part two is here (I'm briefly in it at about 21 minutes :)

It's also available on iPlayer in the UK for another six days.

Today, 7 July, is the 707th anniversary of the death of Edward I at Burgh-by-Sands and the accession of twenty-three-year-old Edward of Caernarfon as king of England and lord of Ireland, though Edward himself didn't hear the news until 11 July, being over 300 miles away in London at the time.  Happy Accession Anniversary, Sire!  Almost certainly, the very first act he took as king was to recall Piers Gaveston, who had been banished by Edward I some months previously, to England.  To the surprise of absolutely no-one, no doubt.

04 July, 2014

The Quest for Bannockburn again!

If you're in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, you can see the second part of The Quest for Bannockburn on BBC2 this Sunday, 6 July, from 8pm to 9pm.  You can briefly see me and my bright pink jacket just after 8.20pm, talking about Edward II and Piers Gaveston and enthusiastically nodding my head a lot.  :-)

See more about the programme here on the BBC website.  It's presented by Neil Oliver and Tony Pollard, and their aim was to find the real battle site of Bannockburn.