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 Edward II and Richard I

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Gyrfalcon

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PostSubject: Edward II and Richard I   Mon Mar 17, 2008 8:43 pm

I have a theory about the reason Edward II has gotten such a bad reputation, while other equally ineffectual kings have gotten by with an almost spotless reputation. Take Richard I. As far as I can make out, he was little more than an adventurous knight wearing the crown. He spent almost no time in England, paid little attention to actual government and politics, wrung England's economy severely to fund his crusade, and wasted a good deal of his time fighting petty barons and holding tournaments. He is also thought to have been homosexual, and unlike Edward he had no children. When we compare him to Edward, there’s actually not a whole lot to choose between them. In fact, Edward comes out looking a little better. And yet, Richard is upheld as a great hero, while Edward is dismissed as worthless.

My theory is that Richard’s faults were overshadowed by his military exploits, which to the mind of most medieval chroniclers were probably more important. Further, his efforts in the Third Crusade would have gotten the Church’s chroniclers to overlook his alleged homosexuality. He was popular with his barons because of his knightly and generous disposition. On the other hand, Edward’s most famous battle was Bannockburn, and although he seems to have fought well individually, he still was defeated by a numerically inferior force and a bunch of cleverly used camp followers. Moreover, he utterly failed to halt or even effectively resist a coup led by his own wife. Could it be that, with the medieval world’s heavy emphasis on martial affairs, a king’s success in war is what made or broke his reputation?
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Alianore
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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and Richard I   Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:45 pm

Welcome, Gyrfalcon!

I think the English, back then and now, have a habit of drastically overestimating their warrior kings. I mean, what did Lionheart ever do for England?? Henry V is another one - personally, I find him repellent, but he kicked French arse and Shakespeare made him a hero, so he still has a great reputation.

I agree - I think if Ed II had been a great warrior, who won Bannockburn and defeated Robert Bruce, his faults and his love for other men would have been overlooked in his own time, and all the people who slate him these days would be lauding him to the heavens instead.

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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and Richard I   Wed Mar 19, 2008 8:18 pm

Hmmm, I'm a fan of Ed II (or I probably wouldn't be here would I?) but I think you have to compare the 2 on level playing fields. I think judging Richard I on what he did for England isn't really fair. Despite being born there he wasn't "from" there, didn't consider it home and it consisted of a small part of the huge amount of land his father left him. He had an empire to run and while he left it in other peoples hands he did it and went on a fairly successful crusade too.

I see a lot more in Ed's personality that appeals to me but as a ruler of people and land he was awful, probably because it was the last thing he was interested in doing. If he'd had any inclination he could've done a good job.

Richard was far more agressive and grasping but looked on England purely in terms of raising both money and his status in that he could call himself a King. If he's looked on as a hero then England can't really take much of the credit.

I think you're dead right in saying King's reputation was based on military acomplishments. Aside from Richard III who was killed on the battlefield just look at the other Kings who were done away with, Ed II, Richard II and Henry VI. Barely (if any?) a battle won between them.
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Melisende

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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and Richard I   Sun Mar 23, 2008 11:51 am

Gyrfalcon wrote:
I have a theory about the reason Edward II has gotten such a bad reputation, while other equally ineffectual kings have gotten by with an almost spotless reputation. Take Richard I. As far as I can make out, he was little more than an adventurous knight wearing the crown. He spent almost no time in England, paid little attention to actual government and politics, wrung England's economy severely to fund his crusade, and wasted a good deal of his time fighting petty barons and holding tournaments. He is also thought to have been homosexual, and unlike Edward he had no children. When we compare him to Edward, there’s actually not a whole lot to choose between them. In fact, Edward comes out looking a little better. And yet, Richard is upheld as a great hero, while Edward is dismissed as worthless.


Okay - though not related to Edward II - I do have to respond to a couple of points:

1. Richard had two children - out of wedlock.
2. Richard spent LESS time on Crusade than Saint Louis IX - who taxed his subjects extremely harshly and whose Crusades (yes both of them) were utter failures - a point not lost on the chroniclers of the day. Which monarch was villified - hint: not SAINT Louis.
3. Yes Richard spent most of his time with his arse in the saddle - but so did William Marshall who is held up to be the epitome of knighthood and all things chivalric.
4. On the homosexual front - he was rumoured to have "shared a bed" with Philip of France - yet no-one questioned Philip's "manliness".


Sorry - things like this just irk me - double standards.
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elflady

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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and Richard I   Sun Mar 23, 2008 5:19 pm

I agree with you, Melisende!
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Melisende

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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and Richard I   Mon Mar 24, 2008 12:42 pm

Apologies if I came off sounding b*tchy before - it just annoys me that when two rulers are compared one is tarred and feathered and the other is canonised.

I think its great to make comparisons but an equal playing field is ideal - or at least a comparison with their contemporaries.

Again - apologies all.
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Alianore
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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and Richard I   Mon Mar 24, 2008 7:12 pm

It's OK, Melisende! I get very wound up myself about double standards.

That's interesting that Richard the Lionheart had two illegitimate children - I've heard of Philip of Cognac, but who was the other one?

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Gyrfalcon

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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and Richard I   Tue Mar 25, 2008 3:38 am

Melisende, I didn’t mean to smear Richard exactly, or to make him out to be some sort of oaf, but just to point out that his reputation as a some illustrious heroic king is no more merited than Edward’s reputation as an effeminate and completely incompetent one. In fact neither one of them was outstandingly good or bad, nor unique in his faults. That’s all I was getting at.
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Melisende

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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and Richard I   Tue Mar 25, 2008 1:10 pm

The other son was named Fulk.


Gyrfalcon: I agree with your synopsis there - both men ended up with reputations that were undeserved.
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Anejre

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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and Richard I   Sat Mar 29, 2008 7:27 pm

I'm a fan of Richard the Lionheart's brother - King John! As well as Edward II, of course. Interesting topic in comparing Richard and Edward. Definitely a case of double standards. I'd just like to add a couple of points.

1. The over-whelming force in the medieval period was the Church. Fighting crusades enhanced Richard's image. It is what monarchs were expected to do. Hence John suffers in comparison because he refused to go on crusades. John also gets a blackened reputation because he fell out with the pope and was excommunicated, and an edict was palced on England. John is also accused of being greedy - yet as regent, who had to find the money to subsidise Richard's crusades and pay his ranson?

2. Richard I spent very little time in England - it was his least favourite part of the Anjevin Empire. Yet he is still idolosed by the English. John had to pick up the pieces when he became king and spent more time than his brother in England - I think this accounts for some of John's unpopularity - as regent and king, he was actually trying to rule his kingdom.


3. Richard failed to leave an heir to his kingdom - a serious concern in those times. By heir, I mean a legitimate son by his wife.
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Melisende

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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and Richard I   Mon Mar 31, 2008 2:25 pm

Legitimate heir - all depends on the form of marriage undertaken and where you were from.

Sons born out of wedlock were still, even at this point in history, still considered as "legitimate" heirs in a number of countries - Ireland being the main one (and I think, to some extent, the Wales also). And "handfasting" was still considered a "legal" form of marriage for a few more centuries to come.

Look at William the Conqueror ...
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Anejre

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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and Richard I   Mon Mar 31, 2008 10:44 pm

Parts of Wales were still practising the 'gavelkind' tradition at this time.

Richard's succession didn't pass smoothly to John either - John's nephew Arthur was a thorn in his side.
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Anejre

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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and Richard I   Mon Mar 31, 2008 10:52 pm

I can only speak for Richard - I don't know enough about Philip - but he didn't 'flaunt' his partners in the same way Edward did. Perhaps he never had a 'grand passion'.

I know it's obvious, but just imagine if Edward had flaunted a series of mistresses - I'm sure his courtiers would have applauded him, and there would have been no complaints of neglecting Isabella. I daresay they would have been lining up female family members to try and tempt him to 'honour' their family. And of course, a king's mistress would have been seen as no threat to the magnates. If she came from a powerful family, she would merely be expected to be the pawn of the family.
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elflady

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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and Richard I   Tue Apr 01, 2008 1:18 am

Anejre wrote:
I know it's obvious, but just imagine if Edward had flaunted a series of mistresses - I'm sure his courtiers would have applauded him, and there would have been no complaints of neglecting Isabella. I daresay they would have been lining up female family members to try and tempt him to 'honour' their family. And of course, a king's mistress would have been seen as no threat to the magnates. If she came from a powerful family, she would merely be expected to be the pawn of the family.

And Isabella would have been expected to just hang down her head and graciously accept her fate... Duh, history is cruel with women, wives or mistresses!
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Melisende

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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and Richard I   Tue Apr 01, 2008 2:44 pm

True - but I wonder - would Isabella have been a strong enough character to "manage" Edward's mistresses - whatever their sex - had she had the opportunity?
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Anejre

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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and Richard I   Tue Apr 01, 2008 11:30 pm

It was the fate of many Medieval women - married to an unknown husband and expected to grin and bare it. Or there was always the convent. With the men, they could always acquire themselves a mistress and just 'do their duty' when they had to. Women couldn't do this because they could be accused of polluting the family line. They could be no question as to who was the father of their child. And some of them were so young! Margaret Beaufort bore Henry Tudor when she was 13, and it seems likely she could never have another child. Poor Mary de Bohun (excuse spellng) was another who began child-bearing too early. In some ways, I'm surprised that Philip allowed the youthful Isabella to actually live with Edward - a lot of the time, consummation of a marriage was delayed because of the youth/health of the couple.
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Anejre

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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and Richard I   Tue Apr 01, 2008 11:36 pm

Melisende wrote:
True - but I wonder - would Isabella have been a strong enough character to "manage" Edward's mistresses - whatever their sex - had she had the opportunity?

Now that would have been something! She could try to usurp the mistress with herself, or put her own candidate forward. Sort of like Anne Boleyn when she had to push one of her cousins, Madge Shelton, forward to divert Henry VIII from Jane Seymour - how humiliating for her!

I feel sorry for the queen of Charles II - Catherine of Braganza - constantly humiliated with her husband's many mistresses and illegitimate children. She is considered fortunate because Charles didn't divorce her - but having to put up with greedy Barbara Castlemaine and Louise de Keroualle (sp) grasping for titles and honours and flaunting themselves must have been a high price to pay.
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Melisende

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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and Richard I   Wed Apr 02, 2008 1:48 am

That's what I mean - would Isabella have steered Edward towards a mistress (male or female) of her choosing and so try to maintain some "control" over who had access to Edward and thus try to minimise their control.

You know the type of thing - I raised you up and I can see that you fall if you get too cocky.
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Alianore
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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and Richard I   Wed Apr 02, 2008 9:04 am

Anejre wrote:
In some ways, I'm surprised that Philip allowed the youthful Isabella to actually live with Edward - a lot of the time, consummation of a marriage was delayed because of the youth/health of the couple.

I'd imagine that Edward and Isabella didn't consummate their marriage for several years, given that she was only 12. She didn't get pregnant till they'd been married a little over 4 years (which might also mean that she wasn't fertile yet).

Edward and Isabella's daughter Eleanor of Woodstock married the count of Gelderland a few weeks before her 14th birthday, and gave birth shortly before she turned 15, which seems very young, but at least she wasn't as young as poor Margaret Beaufort! Crying or Very sad

And yes, how awful for Catherine of Braganza - having to tolerate her husband's mistress Lady Castlemaine as the chief lady of her bedchamber.

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Anejre

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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and Richard I   Wed Apr 02, 2008 4:28 pm

Melisende - and I wouldn't have put that past Isabella's doing. She knew her role was to 'make an alliance' and put her father's wishes into practice.
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Anejre

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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and Richard I   Wed Apr 02, 2008 4:53 pm

I'd imagine that Edward and Isabella didn't consummate their marriage for several years, given that she was only 12. She didn't get pregnant till they'd been married a little over 4 years (which might also mean that she wasn't fertile yet).

I can't see Edward being interested in a 12 year old girl, whatever his sexuality. And hasn't that played into some 'historians' hands? This, coupled with Isabella's beauty, has been used as a stick to beat him with for being 'so unmanly'. tsk, tsk. I wonder how much Isabella knew about their relationship at her age? Consumating the marriage at 12 would have risked her health and hence the alliance. And yes, she probably was not even fertile.
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Anejre

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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and Richard I   Wed Apr 02, 2008 4:58 pm

Now, King John apparently was the opposite - it was his lust for his 12 year old bride that led to the collapse of his empire Rolling Eyes or so some chroniclers would have us believe:)

I think the title of most humiliated queen must go to Catherine de Medici - tolerating Diane de Poitiers.
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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and Richard I   Wed Apr 02, 2008 5:29 pm

Caterina de Medici? She was lucky her husband died in that tournament and she could rule in the name of her sons. It is also being said that she had a lover and an illegitimate child. What about Maria de Medici, second wife to the well-known womanizer King Henry IV? She too had a lover, but she managed to have her husband assasinated...


Last edited by elflady on Wed Apr 02, 2008 5:36 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Alianore
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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and Richard I   Wed Apr 02, 2008 5:29 pm

Anejre wrote:
I can't see Edward being interested in a 12 year old girl, whatever his sexuality. And hasn't that played into some 'historians' hands? This, coupled with Isabella's beauty, has been used as a stick to beat him with for being 'so unmanly'. tsk, tsk. I wonder how much Isabella knew about their relationship at her age? Consumating the marriage at 12 would have risked her health and hence the alliance. And yes, she probably was not even fertile.

Hehe, I've written on the blog once or twice that Ed II is probably the only man in history criticised for not having sex with a 12 year old. Rolling Eyes Personally, I think we should applaud him for waiting till Isa was old enough to bear children without damaging her body, even though he was desperate for an heir, like all kings. But noooo, people accuse him of 'ignoring' her. That's Edward for you - damned if he did, damned if he didn't, because you can just imagine the kind of stick he'd get nowadays if he'd made her pregnant at 12 or 13!

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PostSubject: Re: Edward II and Richard I   Wed Apr 02, 2008 5:40 pm

It's not only a matter of having sex with her, Alianore. If he were just a bit more attentive and polite...
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