- Edward was born in 1284 in Carnarvon, according to legend Edward I presented his new-born on a child to the Welsh as a prince who spoke no English.
- Edward’s parents were King Edward I and Eleanor of Castile – remembered by the Eleanor Crosses.
- Edward was supposed to have been killed in Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire on 21 September 1327. By Tudor times he was supposed to have met his demise by the insertion of a red hot poker in an unmentionable and eyewaterinw location – a reference to his alleged homosexuality. Whilst medieval chroniclers placed the blame on Roger Mortimer’s doorstep no one suggested an incident with a poker although by 1326 his enemies did accuse him of sodomy. Ian Mortimer suggested in 2005 that he did not die. He pointed out that only the Brut written at the time gave his death as 1326. The discovery of the Fieschi Letter in the 1870s cast doubt on the events that history generally accepts as having happened and there is contemporary evidence that Edward was still alive at the end of 1327. There are two theories and it is up to you to consider the evidence provided and weigh the evidence to decide which one is more likely.
- Edward granted the earldom of Cornwall to his friend Piers Gaveston but not until after his father died.
- Pope Boniface VIII arranged the marriage between Edward II and Isabella of France to bring an to the warring over Gascony which Edward claimed as his.
- The Lords Ordainers demanded that Edward II reform his household and get rid of his favourite. They passed a series of ordinances – hence the name.
- Battle of Bannockburn June 1314 – Edward II didn’t win but he is on record as digging a lot of ditches.
- Thomas of Lancaster was executed on 22 March 1322 near Pontefract Castle following the Battle of Boroughbridge which took place on 16 March 1322.
- Hugh Despenser the Elder was the only baron who remained loyal to Edward II throughout his life. His son Hugh Despenser the Younger became Edward’s hated favourite. On the Marches his desire for land resulted in the so-called Despenser War.
- Isabella of France became Edward II’s wife.
- Isabella’s lover was Roger Mortimer of Wigmore.
- Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer invaded England at Orwell in Suffolk.
- Hugh Despenser the Elder was executed at Bristol then fed to the dogs.
- Edward II is buried in Gloucester Cathedral. Robert Curthose, the deposed Duke of Normandy, brother of William Rufus and Henry I is also buried in Gloucester Cathedral. At the time it was St Peter’s Abbey.
- Edward had four legitimate children, Edward who became King Edward III and started the Hundred Years War; John of Eltham who died aged twenty; Eleanor of Woodstock who married Reginald or Renauld II, Count of Guilders and was forced, according to the story, to show that she didn’t have leprosy and Joan of the Tower who was married to King David II of Scotland to bring an end to the Anglo-Scottish Wars. Edward also had an illegitimate son called Adam.
- Edmund of Woodstock, the Earl of Kent , Edward’s half brother by Margaret of France, was executed in 1330 for his part in a plot to depose Mortimer and Isabella. The death of his uncle was one of the factors which spurred seventeen-year-old Edward to act against his mother and her lover.
- The English and the French fought over Gascony. Edward I spent many years in Gascony. It was part of his personal possessions as was Aquitaine.
- Edward II kept a camel at Langley.
- He took a lion on campaign to Scotland.
- Christopher Marlowe wrote a play about the monarch ensuring he remained within the public eye.
Joan Gaveston was born in January 1312 at York. Her father, Piers Gaveston, was supposed to be in exile but he returned to court by Christmas 1311. Edward travelled north, leaving his wife to follow, pausing long enough to collect his heavily pregnant niece Margaret de Clare, Gaveston’s wife, from Wallingford Castle before continuing to York. it’s possible that Piers only intended to see his wife and child before leaving the country but there is no evidence to support the view. Almost immediately after Joan’s birth the king revoked Gaveston’s exile and gave him back his titles and estates. This had the effect of infuriating the barons who had demanded his banishment the previous year.
Five months later Gaveston having fled north to Newcastle before returning south to York found himself under siege in Scarborugh Castle. A short time later he was dead at the hands of the Earl of Warwick and the Earl of Lancaster. Joan, a mere infant, now became a ward of the crown. As her legal guardian, Edward sent the child to Amesbury Priory in Wiltshire. There were a number of royal females in residence at the priory founded by Henry II for the Order of Fontevraud (there were four houses for this order – Amesbury, Westwood, Nuneaton and Grovebury) including Edward’s sister Mary who was a nun. It had a long tradition of providing a home and education for England’s royal women. It had also become the prison for King John’s niece Eleanor of Brittany for a time.
Joan was Gaveston’s sole heir but his lands were problematic given that many of them were crown lands. However, when her uncle, the Earl of Gloucester, was killed at Bannockburn in 1314 she became an heiress. Edward took the opportunity to try and arrange a marriage for her to Thomas Wake of Liddell but he married without Edward’s permission to Blanche of Lancaster the niece of Thomas of Lancaster.
In 1317 Joan, aged five, became betrothed to John Multon the heir to the Lord of Egremont in Cumbria. The king made Lord Wake pay the dowry having married without his permission to Leicester’s daughter. The agreement was that the marriage would go ahead as soon as the two children were old enough.
However, Joan died unexpectedly at the beginning of January 1325 just before her thirteenth birthday.
Kathryn Warner, Edward II: The Unconventional King
Joan of Acre was one of Edward I’s daughters. Joan was born in Acre in 1272 whilst her father, Edward, was participating in the 9th crusade. Edward narrowly escaped assassination during the unsuccessful conflict but by September the family was on its way home. Edward and his wife paused in Sicily and it was whilst there were there than news arrived that Henry III was dead. Edward was now the king. Joan’s mother, Eleanor of Castile, left the baby with her mother Joan, Countess of Ponthieu and continued back to England arriving in 1274.
King Edward I used all of his children as diplomatic pawns to further his foreign policy. Edward of Carnarvon was betrothed four times in his childhood. Meanwhile Joan did not arrive in England until 1278 by which time her father was negotiating a match for her. Joan was betrothed to Hartmann von Hapsburg, son of King Rudolf I of Germany but he drowned in 1281. Her father took the opportunity to marry her off to Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester who was already married to someone else when Edward suggested the match. The wedding took place in Westminster Abbey on 30 April 1290.
Gilbert was a half-uncle by marriage to Edward I – bear with me. Henry III’s mother, Isabella of Angouleme, married Hugh de Lusignan after the death of King John. Isabella of Angouleme’s daughter Alice de Lusignan was married to Gilbert in 1253. Gilbert was ten at the time and the marriage was annulled in 1285 after King Edward approached the papacy. This had the effect of illegitimising Gilbert’s children with Alice but Gilbert, the 9th Earl of Clare, 7th Earl of Hertford and 8th Earl of Gloucester was a very powerful baron who supported Simon de Montfort against Henry III. He only returned to the Crown faction when de Montfort formed an alliance with the Welsh prince Llewellyn ap Gruffudd. Edward wanted to bind the baron to the Crown through a marriage.
Joan was a princess with attitude – which was probably just as well given that her step-children were older than she was. Soon after her own wedding she was supposed to attend the wedding of her sister Margaret but she left court without her father’s permission. Edward expressed his wrath by giving seven dresses that had been destined for Joan to her sister instead.
Joan had four children before Gilbert died in 1295. Joan’s son Gilbert was killed at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 whilst her daughters all ended up married to various of Edward II’s favourites.
Joan chose her own future after the death of her husband. Edward I was arranging for her to marry the count of Savoy but she had other ideas. She had fallen in love with her husband’s squire Ralph de Monthermer. She sent Ralph to see her father with the request that he be knighted and when he returned she quietly got married. Unfortunately she didn’t tell her father what she had done so he continued with his plans and formally announced the betrothal of Joan to the Count of Savoy. Edward was said to be so angry when he found out that he threw his crown into the fire.
More practically he had Ralph locked up in Bristol Castle, refused to see Joan and confiscated all the estates she inherited from her husband. Joan sent her daughters to see their grandfather and the Bishop of Durham. Edward seems to have calmed down when he realised that Joan was pregnant – in August 1297 Ralph was created earl of Gloucester and Hertford by right of his wife. After ten years of happy marriage Joan died at Clare in Suffolk on 23 April 1307. Her titles passed to her son and Ralph became 1st Baron Monthermer.
A straight question and answer quiz about Edward II – yup – I’ve been busy writing about Edward’s favourites, his wife’s scandalous family and the difficulties of royal marriages – Edward’s wife was the first to say ‘there’s three of us in this marriage…’
- Where was Edward II born? According to legend his father offered Edward to a country because he spoke no English.
- Who were Edward II’s parents?
- In which castle is Edward supposed to have been killed in 1327? Ian Mortimer presented a theory that he was not assassinated.
- Edward granted the earldom of Cornwall to which of his friends much to his father’s irritation?
- Who negotiated Edward’s marriage?
- What were the nobles called who sought to reform the royal court and get rid of Edward’s unpopular male favourite?
- Which Anglo-Scottish battle did Edward II famously lose?
- Edward had his cousin Thomas of Lancaster executed after Thomas lost which battle in Yorkshire?
- Which father and son with the same name gained notoriety as the king’s favourites?
- Who was Edward’s wife? She is the only medieval queen known to have had an adulterous relationship.
- Who did she have an affair with?
- Which part of the country did Edward’s wife invade with a very small army in 1326?
- When one of Edward’s hated favourites was executed in Bristol, what was his body fed to?
- Where is Edward II buried? Can you give the place more than one name? Which other disposed ruler is buried in the same place?
- Name Edward II’s children.
- Which earl was Edward’s half brother who was executed by Edward’s queen and her lover?
- Which area of France did Edward and his wife’s family disagree about?
- What unusual beast did Edward keep at Langley?
- And what kind of pet did he take on campaign to Scotland?
- Which murdered Tudor playwright wrote a play about the murdered monarch ensuring that we remember all the scandal?
Eleanor was born in 1318 was Edward II’s and Isabella of France’s eldest daughter. Edward was so pleased that he gave the queen 500 marks. For the first six years of her life she and her elder brother John and younger sister Joan remained in the custody of their mother Isabella of France at Wallingford Castle. Her eldest brother Edward also lived there until he was given his own household. Edward ensured that the family were provided for with manors in Macclesfield and the castle and the honour of High Peak, Derbyshire providing income.
In 1324 the little family were taken from the queen and taken into the care of Eleanor de Clare the wife of Hugh Despenser the Younger. Despenser had taken the opportunity of an Anglo-French conflict to state that Isabella, as a Frenchwoman, was a dangerous alien. Her lands were confiscated, her servants sent away or arrested and her children taken from her.
Eleanor and her sister Joan of the Tower left Eleanor’s care and were handed over to Ralph de Monthermer and Isabel Hastings at Marlborough Castle. Isabel was Hugh Despenser’s sister which perhaps explains his decision but equally Ralph was his brother-in-law having been married to Joan of Acre. John remained in Despenser’s household.
In 1328, a year before Isabella and Mortimer were toppled from power, Eleanor found herself in the household of her brother Edward III’s wife Philippa of Hainault. By that time negotiations were underway for a marriage to the Crown of Aragon. This match fell through and Eleanor was betrothed then married to Reinoud II of Guilders. He had something of a reputation but the whole family were aware of the difficulties of royal marriages – Eleanor’s mother, Isabella of France, having had enough of her husband’s male favourites, went to France, began an affair with Edward II’s enemy Roger Mortimer, invaded the country and allegedly arranged for her erstwhile spouse to have a nasty accident with a poker before being toppled from power by her eldest son. Eleanor was nine when her father died.
Eleanor sailed from Sandwich with a luggage full of Spanish cloth of gold and crimson velvet. The people of Guilders were pleased with their new countess – she was an English princess after all and might be able to provide a male heir. Reinoud had four daughters already. She gave birth to a son the following year in 1333 and three years later provided a spare heir called Edward.
In 1336 she was sent from her husband’s court and he began proceedings for an annulment of their marriage. He claimed that she had leprosy. There’s no evidence to support the story, nor for that matter her resolution of the problem. She arrived at court wearing a cloak which she removed to reveal…well… all of her…without a stitch on. She was very clearly not leprous so her husband had to take her back. Reinoud was shown to be a liar. It can’t have helped domestic bliss.
Reinould fell off his horse and died in 1343 leaving a nine-year-old son. Eleanor assumed power as regent but in 1350 her son confiscated all her lands. She retired to a convent where she lived in poverty for five years before she died in 1355 – at the start of the 1360s her son Edward usurped his brother and made himself Duke of Guilders but kept his brother in prison rather than murdering him. After Edward died his elder brother, Reinoud, was released from captivity – by that time he had put on a bit of weight and would be known in the history books as Reinoud the Fat.
Alison Weir, Isabella She-wolf of France, Queen of England
- Cameos were originally carved in Ancient Egypt, somewhere around 15,000 BC. However, it is the Greeks and Romans who we are more likely to associate with cameos. They started to become popular in England during the Elizabethan period but really became very popular during the eighteenth century as a consequence of the Grand Tour.
2) The scarab beetle symbolises rebirth. It is symbolic of Khepri, an Egyptian sun god.
3) The oldest known jewellery is thought to be made from snail shells. A string of snails shell beads was found in a cave in South Africa. It’s thought to be 30,000 years old.
4) The Snettisham Hoard is an Iron Age treasure. It was found in 1948 during ploughing. The area was repeatedly dug and more treasure unearthed. It’s famous for its twelve torcs found in one pit.
6) Cloisonné appears in the jewellery of Ancient Egypt – so back to the pharaohs again.
7) The spelling went wrong! I can only apologise. It should have said penannular which essentially means an incomplete ring – think Celtic and Viking.
8) Viking women wore turtle brooches – named because of their typical shape.
9) Unicorn horn worked as an antidote to poison – so if you dunked your ring containing the unicorn horn in your goblet you would be completely safe. Lady Margaret Beaufort’s possessions included one such ring.
10) Queen Elizabeth I owned thousands of pearls. The earl of Leicester often gave her ropes of pearls as a New Year’s gift.
11) Alfred’s jewel fitted on the end of an aestel, or pointer, to follow words in a book.
12) Black jewellery associated with mourning – Whitby jet. Apparently when it’s worked it smells of rotting tree.
13) The Cheapside Hoard contains the largest collection of Tudor and Stuart jewellery in the world. it was probably during during the English Civil Wars and its location reflects the fact that it was an area known for its jewellers… wonder what happened to its owner?
14) The Crown Jewels have been kept in the Tower of London since the Fourteenth Century – although of course, Oliver Cromwell sold them off and melted them down so that the only medieval piece is the Coronation Spoon.
15) The Triskelion brooch is part of the Sutton Hoo treasure and can be seen in the British Museum.
16) Birmingham is famous for its jewellery quarter.
17) It’s a pie crust ring – love the name.
18) This is the Middleham Jewel, found in 1985 near to Middleham Castle, the home of Richard III.
19) Hans Holbein is famous for his portraits of Henry VIII and his court but he also designed jewellery.
20) The rosary beads were owned by Henry VIII.
Uhtred of Galloway, born in 1128, was the grandson of King Henry I. His mother married to Fergus of Galloway was one of the king’s illegitimate daughters. The alliance on the northern edge of England would have helped to secure the border through an extended kinship network. The same pattern of marriage to strategic border barons and lords can be seen across Henry’s domains. He married one daughter, called Alice, to Matthew of Montmorency. On that occasion the king’s ploy proved ineffective as Matthew later became the Constable of France. Rather than invading and maintaining an army in hostile territory Henry sought to absorb local nobles into a wider affinity of kinship to create a buffer zone. There is also the element of assimilation to consider in the case of Elizabeth Fitzroy, Uhtred, the grandson of a king was part of the Anglo-Norman aristocracy which led to resentment in the border region of Scotland.
As a boy Uhtred was sent to the court of Malcolm IV as a hostage. Malcolm’s mother, Ada or Adeline, was a great-grand daughter of the king. By 1157 Malcom did homage for his possessions in England at Peveril Castle in 1157. At the time Malcolm was granted the earldom of Huntingdon in exchange for Cumberland which he claimed by right of his father and grandfather.
At some point Uhtred married Gunhilda of Dunbar and became a father of a family of five sons and daughters. Through their father they were descended from the Normans and from their mother they were descended from the House of Dunkeld One of his daughters, Christina born about 1170, became the wife of William de Brus, the 3rd Lord of Annandale , making her the two times great grandmother of Robert the Bruce – assuming I’ve counted back up the family tree correctly.
In 1160 Fergus of Galloway died and Uhtred became a co-ruler of Galloway with his brother Gilla Brigte. The fought alongside William the Lion in the Scottish invasion of Northumbria in 1174. The result was a disaster for William the Lion but also for Uhtred. The Galwegians took the opportunity to rebel against the Anglo-Normans. Uhtred’s brother and nephew blinded and castrated him before killing him. Gille Brite took control of all of Galloway and allied himself with Henry II.
It’s been a while, so here is a summer quiz to get you thinking about what you know about historical jewellery.
1)A piece of jewellery with a raised relief image on a background of different colour – early examples date back to the third century BC. Carnelian shell was often used. What is it?
2) Insect often found on Egyptian jewellery symbolising rebirth?
3) What is the oldest known jewellery thought to be made from?
4) The Snettisham Hoard dates from which period and what collection of neck jewellery is it best known for?
5) What new form of jewellery making material was invented in 1907 by Leo Baekeland?
6) Where does the earliest cloisonné jewellery come from?
7) What might be described as peninsular – they were popular from the Iron Age onwards?
8) Viking women often wore two brooches at the front of their clothes – what animal is the brooch named after because of its shape?
9) Why might a ring containing a piece of unicorn horn be very helpful in the medieval period?
10) Which gem was Queen Elizabeth I’s favourite?
11) What’s the Alfred jewel’s purpose?
12) Which town grew wealthy on mourning jewellery during the Victorian period?
13) In 1912 workmen found the largest collection of Tudor and Stuart jewellery in the world. What part of London is the hoard named after?
14). What collection of jewellery has been kept in the same place since the fourteenth century? The collection includes a twelfth century spoon.
15) Where were the Triskelion brooch, shoulder clasps and enabled belt buckle dug up? And where can you find them today?
16) Which Midlands city is famous for its historic jewellery quarter?
17) What shape ring is the medieval style in the image?
18) Where was the jewel below discovered?
19) Who made jewellery for Henry VIII’s family as well as painting their pictures?
20). Who owned these rosary beads?
Answers next week!
Peverel, the alleged son of William the Conqueror, was at Hastings and rewarded by the Conqueror with large land holdings in the Midlands. As well as founding Lenton Priory in Nottinghamshire he also founded St James’ and provided it with land near Duston as well as the mill and advowson of Duston. The advowson means that the monks had the right to appoint the priest at Duston. The abbey grew so that it held the advowson of ten churches as well as farms and other land holdings.
The abbey founded at the beginning of the twelfth century was for the black canons of St Augustine but it wasn’t until 1173 that the buildings in stone were completed. Building work continued into the next century with Henry III supplying two oaks for the building of the church tower. The king also granted rights to an annual fair which continued after the Dissolution in Northampton itself. In 1291 the abbey took control of landholdings outside their walls that belonged to the exiled jewish community and a new building project began.
On 19 May 1536 Cromwell’s commissioners arrived to find the monastery in good repair, the abbot a godly man and the black canons all doing what they should have been doing – so not music to Cromwell’s ears. The king believed that the commissioners had been bribed and although it was valued at more than £200 a year came under the scope of the SuppressionAct of 1536. The abbot died the same year but the canons paid the fine that gained them the right to remain open. It was an eye-watering £333 6s 8d. Eventually Dr Layton arrived at the end of Augst 1538 and the surrender document was signed. Abbot Brokden who oversaw the final years of the abbey was paid a pension of £11 6s 8d and gained the rectory of Watford.
The area where the abbey once stood is still known as St James’ End. The Abbey Works was built on the site of the abbey so there’s not much in the way of evidence above ground.
‘Houses of Austin canons: The abbey of St James, Northampton’, in A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 2, ed. R M Serjeantson and W R D Adkins (London, 1906), pp. 127-130. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/northants/vol2/pp127-130 [accessed 20 July 2021].
Hannah Lightfoot, if you believe these things, was the mistress of George, Prince of Wales. She was born in 1730, the daughter of a shoemaker in Wapping. Three or so years later her father died and she was adopted by her uncle Henry Wheeler, a linen draper. So far so good. Hannah, a quaker, married clandestinely outside the Friends. it wasn’t long before she discovered her error and fled her husband, a man named Isaac Axford. This was 1755. There was nothing more heard of Hannah and in 1759 Isaac remarried. he either thought she was dead or since Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act was passed in 1753 he believed that the union was invalid – clandestine marriages being banned at that time.
And then we start moving into the realms of gossip and conspiracy. Wheeler’s merchandise was sold at St James’ Market and it just so happens that the Young Prince of Wales noticed her there…or at a ball…take your pick. The Public Advertiser of 7 September 1770 calls her the ‘Fair Quaker’ and it suggests that she and the Prince of Wales were having an affair. In some versions of the story George persuaded her to marry Axford and in other versions she just marries George and moves to Peckham. In 1866 Mrs Lavinia Ryves went to court claiming that her mother was the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Cumberland – the brother of George III. Her mother Olive, claimed that George III left her £15,000 as his niece. The claim was thrown out. More documents appeared including a marriage between George and Hannah in 1759 – in two different places! The first at Kew Chapel and the following month, May, in Peckham. The officiant on both occasions was James Wilmot.
There were two sons and a daughter.
And now for the conspiracy theories! in 1845 the parish records of St Anne’s Chapel Kew were stolen and later found in the Thames…without the records. And in Carmarthen the grave of Charlotte Dalton, the grand daughter of Hannah perhaps explains the presence of the George III pipe organ – made for the king in a church with no known royal connections. There was a television programme about it in the 1990s but in truth the genuine family history of the family purporting to be that of George III is a long way distant from royalty.
Tendered, Mary L., The Fair Quaker Hannah Lightfoot and Her Relations with George III (London: 1910)
Lindsay, John, The Lovely Quaker, (London, 1939)
And then we start moving into the mists