Piers Gaveston

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''The below text comes from the Dictionary of National Biography, 1922 edition's article on [http://content.ancestry.com/browse/view.aspx?dbid=6892&iid=6892-7-5-79-0974&rc=322,202,549,246;1040,207,1266,253;967,626,1111,657;1106,1505,1249,1536;122,2389,343,2423;1353,2421,1494,2452&pid=5802&ssrc=&fn=&ln=Record+Gaveston&st=g "Piers Gaveston"]''
 
''The below text comes from the Dictionary of National Biography, 1922 edition's article on [http://content.ancestry.com/browse/view.aspx?dbid=6892&iid=6892-7-5-79-0974&rc=322,202,549,246;1040,207,1266,253;967,626,1111,657;1106,1505,1249,1536;122,2389,343,2423;1353,2421,1494,2452&pid=5802&ssrc=&fn=&ln=Record+Gaveston&st=g "Piers Gaveston"]''
  
Gaveston, Piers, Earl of Cornwall (d. 1312), favourite of Edward II, was the son of a Gascon knight who had earned the favour of Edward I by his faithful service.  He was brought up in the royal household as the foster-brother and playmate of the king's eldest son Edward, and thus early gained an ascendency over him.  His character, as given by contemporary writers, is not altogether unfavourable.  Baker of Swynebroke describes him as graceful and active in person, intelligent, nice in his manners, and skilled in arms.  'There is not authority for regarding Gaveston as an intentionally mischievous or exceptionally vicious man;' but by his strength of will he had gained over Edward a hold which he used exclusively for his own advancement.  He was brave and accomplished, but foolishly greedy, ambitious, ostentatious, and imprudent. 'The indignation with which his promotion was received was not caused... by any dread that he would endanger the constitution, but simply by his extraordinary rise and his offensive personal behavious' (Stubbs, Const. Hist. chap. xvi.)  His master's inordinate affection for him entirely turned his head; he scorned the great lords, and brought upon himself the envy and hatred of the very men whom he should have conciliated.  His pride, says a contemporary, would have been intolerable even in a king's son.  'But I firmly believe,' continues the writer, 'that had he borne himself discreetly and with deference towards the great lords of the land, he would not have found one of them opposed to him' (Chron. Edward I and II, ii. 167).
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Gaveston, Piers, Earl of Cornwall (d. 1312), favourite of Edward II, was the son of a Gascon knight who had earned the favour of [[Edward I, King of England|Edward I]] by his faithful service.  He was brought up in the royal household as the foster-brother and playmate of the king's eldest son Edward, and thus early gained an ascendency over him.  His character, as given by contemporary writers, is not altogether unfavourable.  Baker of Swynebroke describes him as graceful and active in person, intelligent, nice in his manners, and skilled in arms.  'There is not authority for regarding Gaveston as an intentionally mischievous or exceptionally vicious man;' but by his strength of will he had gained over Edward a hold which he used exclusively for his own advancement.  He was brave and accomplished, but foolishly greedy, ambitious, ostentatious, and imprudent. 'The indignation with which his promotion was received was not caused... by any dread that he would endanger the constitution, but simply by his extraordinary rise and his offensive personal behavious' (Stubbs, Const. Hist. chap. xvi.)  His master's inordinate affection for him entirely turned his head; he scorned the great lords, and brought upon himself the envy and hatred of the very men whom he should have conciliated.  His pride, says a contemporary, would have been intolerable even in a king's son.  'But I firmly believe,' continues the writer, 'that had he borne himself discreetly and with deference towards the great lords of the land, he would not have found one of them opposed to him' (Chron. Edward I and II, ii. 167).
  
 
Little is said of Gaveston in the reign of Edward I; but Hemingburgh (ii.272) has handed down a curious story of his having instigated the prince to ask for him the county of Ponthieu, a demand which so enraged the king that he drove his son from his presence.  Edward I determined to separate the friends, and on 26 Feb 1307, at Lancercost, issued orders for the favourite's banishment, to take effect three weeks after 11 April, and bound both him and the prince never to meet again without command.  But the king died on 7 July, and Edward II's first act after his accession was to recall his friend.  The disgrace of Ralph Baldock, bishop of London, the chancellor, and of Walter Langtop, bishop of Coventry, the treasurer, who was regarded as Gaveston's enemy, immediately followed.  A large sum of money, amounting to 50,000 pounds, Langton's property, was seized at the New Temple, and, it is said, was given to the favourite, who also received from Edward a present of 100,000 pounds, taken from the late king's treasure, a portion of which sum had been set aside for a crusade to the Holy Land.  All this wealth Gaveston is reported to have transmitted to this native country of Gascony.
 
Little is said of Gaveston in the reign of Edward I; but Hemingburgh (ii.272) has handed down a curious story of his having instigated the prince to ask for him the county of Ponthieu, a demand which so enraged the king that he drove his son from his presence.  Edward I determined to separate the friends, and on 26 Feb 1307, at Lancercost, issued orders for the favourite's banishment, to take effect three weeks after 11 April, and bound both him and the prince never to meet again without command.  But the king died on 7 July, and Edward II's first act after his accession was to recall his friend.  The disgrace of Ralph Baldock, bishop of London, the chancellor, and of Walter Langtop, bishop of Coventry, the treasurer, who was regarded as Gaveston's enemy, immediately followed.  A large sum of money, amounting to 50,000 pounds, Langton's property, was seized at the New Temple, and, it is said, was given to the favourite, who also received from Edward a present of 100,000 pounds, taken from the late king's treasure, a portion of which sum had been set aside for a crusade to the Holy Land.  All this wealth Gaveston is reported to have transmitted to this native country of Gascony.
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On 6 Aug 1307 Gaveston received a grant of the earldom of Cornwll and of all lands late belonging to Edmund, late earl of Cornwall, the son of the king of the Romans; and on 29 Oct following he was betrothed to Margaret de Clare, sister of the young Earl of Gloucester, and the king's own niece, and obtained with her large possessions in various parts of the kingdom.  In his promotion to the earldom he had the support of the Earl of Lincoln, and by his marriage he became allied to a powerful house.  But his pride could not be satisfied, and, as an instance of his personal vanity, one of the chroniclers notices that by royal command persons were forbidden to address him otherwise than by his title, an unusual practice at that period (ib. ii. 157).  On 2 Dec he held a tournament at Wallingford, in honour of the king's approaching marriage, but only increased his unpopularity with the barons, and particularly with the Earls of Warenne, Hereford, and Arundel, by defeating them in the lists.
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On 30 Dec Gaveston was appointed regent of the kingdom during Edward's absence in France on his marriage, although the king did not acutally depart till 22 Jan 1308, and was absent till 7 Feb.  On 25 Feb was celebrated the coronation, which had originally been appointed to take place a week earlier, and is even said to have been deferred on account of the growing discontent against the royal favourite.  Here Gaveston's display eclipsed his rivals, and it is noticed as a special affront to the other nobles that he was appointed to carry in the procession the crown of St Edward.  His other services were the redemption of the 'curtana' sword, and the fixing of the spur on the king's left foot.  His ostentation and the king's obtrusive partiality for him are also said to have disgusted the queen's relatives who were present, and who, on their return home, imparted their prejudice to the king of France.  Seeing the storm rising, Edward postponed the meeting of the council, but at length, on 28 April, the barons assembled, and at once proceeded to call for Gaveston's banishment.  Hugh Despenser (1262-1326) [q.v.] is said to have been the only man of importance who attempted to defend him.  The king was forced to comply, and on 18 May issued his letters patent which proclaimed the sentence, the prelates undertaking to excommunicate Gaveston if he disobeyed; but, to softed the blow, Edward heaped fresh gifts upon him, and on 16 June appointed him lieutenant of Ireland, and at the same time prayed the pope to intervene for his protection.  Gaveston sailed for his new command on 28 June from the port of Bristol, whither he was accompanied by the king in person, and remained in Ireland for a year.  He established himself as Edward's representative at Dublin, and reduced the hostile septs in the neighbourhood, restored the fortresses, and carried out other works.  But the king could not exist without his friend.  Before many months had passed he was working for his recall; in April 1309 he tried to move the king of France to intercede in his favour, and, although parliament refused to sanction the favourite's return, he at length prevailed upon the pope to absolve him.  Early in July Gaveston was welcomed by the king at Chester.

Revision as of 14:49, 1 August 2008

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