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"]''
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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 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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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.

Revision as of 14:37, 1 August 2008

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