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 Edward II's 'death'?

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Tansy



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Registration date : 2008-11-07

PostSubject: Edward II's 'death'?   Tue Nov 11, 2008 4:02 pm

What do we think about this one? Alison Weir and Ian Mortimer both buy into the conspiracy theory that Edward wasn't actually murdered but went abroad. However, I wonder if they believe this because they are pro-Isabella/Mortimer in their books and very much revisionist (I have a few issues with Weir's views in general in more than one of her books though I do find her very readable and accessible).

There are quite a few accounts of the death and I think most are made up for propaganda purposes - if he was killed then it was quietly by poison or suffocation. But while I understand why Isabella might have been reluctant, I don't understand why Mortimer would have gone ahead with a scheme to smuggle Ed II out of the country. He hated him - Edward had humilated him and taken everything from him in the past, and I can see Roger wanting to exact vengeance. Also from what I have read of Ed II I just can't imagine him going quietly. And while he still lived he was a potential threat to Mortimer and Isabella. I personally think they had every reason to have him disposed of.

I know this theory is quite a popular one - it even appeared in World Without End by Ken Follett - but I wonder if it is really true. I personally think he was killed and find it a bit sensational and unbelievable. I know there is evidence in the form of the Fieschi letter, but could this have just been someone who had been there or knew Edward?

I also think it depends whose 'side' you are on. Writers who are for Isabella and Mortimer seem to be more in favour because it excuses them from the crime. But I can't really see Mortimer as being tender hearted and not wanting to kill Edward.

What does everyone else think?
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Alianore
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PostSubject: Re: Edward II's 'death'?   Wed Nov 12, 2008 10:10 am

I don't find the Fieshi letter particularly convincing, I have to say, but when discussing theories of Ed's survival, it's pretty much a red herring. Far more compelling is a letter written by William Melton, archbishop of York, to his cousin Simon Swanland, merchant of London (he became mayor in autumn 1329). The letter was written on 13 January in either 1329 or 1330, and says 'my liege lord Edward of Caernarfon is alive, and in good health of body in a safe place.'

This isn't necessarily proof that Ed was alive, only that Melton thought he was - but Melton knew Mortimer and Isabella well, and obviously had good reason to doubt that they'd had Ed killed. Melton was in his 50s in 1330, a highly experienced and astute man with an excellent reputation among his contemporaries and historians. It's difficult to dismiss him as a gullible fool because he thought Ed was alive, as the earl of Kent often has been (beheaded 1330 for plotting to free Edward). In fact, there's ample evidence that Kent was anything but a fool - he's been assumed to be one by historians convinced that Ed was dead in 1330, and therefore convinced that if Kent thought he was alive, he must have been an idiot.

I'm not sure that Mort and Isa would have wanted Ed killed. We're looking at it with hundreds of years of hindsight, knowing that that's what happened to later deposed kings of England - but in 1327 it had never happened. Ed II was the only deposed king of England to be succeeded by his son, and by the connivance of his wife, and to me that makes a big difference. I'm no fan of Isa and Mort (obviously...Wink) but I don't think they had Edward killed. I think there's a good chance that his death was faked, which would protect them against his possible restoration (lots of people were planning to free Ed in 1327) without having to commit murder and regicide and without Isa having to be responsible for the murder of her lord and husband - a terrible crime.

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"Sans lui n'estoit rien fait, et par lui estoit tous fait, et le creoit li rois plus que tout le monde." Without him nothing is done and through him everything is done, and the king trusts him more than any other: Hugh Despenser the Younger and Edward II
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PostSubject: Re: Edward II's 'death'?   Mon Nov 17, 2008 10:55 pm

I've changed my opinion about what happened to Ed. Whilst I didn't alway accept the red, hot poker method, I did believe that Edward had been murdered because I'd used the comparative case histories available - Richard II and Edward V. But Ed was deposed before both of these kings and in different circumstances. Ed was deposed by his own son - or rather, by Mortimer and Isa pulling his strings. Henry Bolingbroke and Richard III usurped the throne - Edward III would have inherited anyway. As a minor, he would have been no more than a puppet in the hands of Isa and Mortimer, until he reached the right age to rule. When of course, he could be expected to revolt against Mortimer and Isa. What better way to continue to control Edward III than by keeping his father alive and at the mercy of Mortimer? This would have created a tremendous dilemna for Edward III - what could he be expected to do? Renounce his throne?
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