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 Piers Gaveston

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Alianore
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PostSubject: Piers Gaveston   Mon Oct 01, 2007 12:11 pm

Possibly the most notorious royal favourite in English history, this Gascon was detested in his own lifetime for the influence he held over the pliant king.
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PostSubject: Re: Piers Gaveston   Thu Oct 04, 2007 5:43 pm

If anyone's interested in reading more about Piers, there's a bio of him by Jeffrey (J.S.) Hamilton, published in the late 1980s. There's also another work by Pierre Chaplais, published 1994, which postulates that he and Edward were not lovers, but adoptive brothers. There's also an MA thesis about him from the late 1930s, and another bio written in the 1890s, neither of which I've read, unfortunately.

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PostSubject: Re: Piers Gaveston   Wed Nov 28, 2007 12:59 pm

Do you know, with that lovely use of hindsight, Gaveston was less of a threat to Isabella than the Despensers.

Vain, cocky (arrogant), self-serving - still .....

I wonder how Edward's reign would have turned out had Piers remained the favourite and his "position" (as royal mistress) was accepted - maybe not accepted, tolerated.
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PostSubject: Re: Piers Gaveston   Wed Nov 28, 2007 1:06 pm

Yes, I guess you're right about him not being that dangerous!
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PostSubject: Re: Piers Gaveston   Wed Nov 28, 2007 4:29 pm

Yeah, I sometimes wonder if the men who killed Piers realised what a bad mistake they'd made when the younger Despenser turned out to be far worse! Piers wasn't interested in politics, particularly, or in using Edward's power, as Despenser did.

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PostSubject: Re: Piers Gaveston   Wed Nov 28, 2007 5:56 pm

I'm sure his murderers were happy with their work until Hugh(s) turned up. Before Gilbert de Clare was killed and power went to Hugh, they were probably delighted. I wonder who the first Earl to say "we should've never killed Gaveston" was?
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PostSubject: Re: Piers Gaveston   Wed Nov 28, 2007 6:05 pm

Possibly Lancaster, when he got his head cut off in March 1322, after Edward II had waited 10 years to get revenge on him. Maybe he was thinking, "damn, wish I hadn't killed that annoying Gascon." Wink

Seriously, maybe it was before that, when Roger Damory and Hugh Audley were Edward's favourites after late 1314 or early 1315. One of the chroniclers calls them "worse than Gaveston". Damory especially was Lancaster's nemesis, and was plotting against him and trying to persuade Edward to attack him at Pontefract - certainly, Piers never meddled to that extent!

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PostSubject: Re: Piers Gaveston   Sat Mar 29, 2008 7:46 pm

One of those intriguing history questions - what would have happened had Piers lived? Would he have developed a thirst for power and to rule through Edward as he grew older? Or would he have retreated into the background at court? Would the friendship have survived? I personally think it would have - but not sure how Edward's reign would have panned out. I mean, how high would Despencer have risen with Piers around? It's an intriguing thought. Would love to hear any thoughts from anyone!
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PostSubject: Re: Piers Gaveston   Sat Mar 29, 2008 9:28 pm

That's a great 'what if', Anejre. I sometimes wonder what might have happened at Bannockburn if Piers had still been alive - he was a great soldier, and he was one man Ed II would definitely have listened to. Chances are Ed would still have lost, but just maybe...Wink I tend to think that Piers wasn't much interested in political power, although I suppose that might have changed as he got older. Can't see him retreating into the background, really - Piers wasn't the retreating or retiring type, hehe. Wink And while he was alive, I can't see anyone else gaining a hold on Ed's affections - so although the younger Despenser would probably still have become chamberlain and been an important man at court, I don't think he would have risen nearly as high as he did with Piers still alive.

But do feel free to disagree, of course - would love to hear your thoughts too!

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PostSubject: Re: Piers Gaveston   Sat Mar 29, 2008 9:30 pm

Not sure how he could have lived. Had Lancaster not killed him, he would most probably have been exiled again and had he returned, everything would have started again. He might have stood a chance if he had learned his lesson and become a bit moderate in his attitude though. But would he have understood that his life depended on it or would he have taken it as a challenge and continued to defy everyone?
Personally, I believe their friendship would have gone on and Despenser wouldn't have stood a chance had Piers lived. Wonder what Isabelle would have done in such a case!
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PostSubject: Re: Piers Gaveston   Sat Mar 29, 2008 9:44 pm

She didn't have much reason to do anything, really, as Piers didn't humiliate her or prevent her having a relationship with her husband, and there's no evidence that she hated him (except for some understandable resentment at the beginning of her marriage, but not after that).

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PostSubject: Re: Piers Gaveston   Sat Mar 29, 2008 11:35 pm

Thanks Alianore and elflady for your posts.

I agree with Alianore in that Piers was a great soldier and yes, had he been at Bannockburn, he would surely have been an asset. I don't think that Ed's heart was truly in Bannockburn - I read elsewhere on this forum that he was a man ahead of his time, and I would agree.

I also agree that Piers would have been the 'only one' for Ed, and perhaps both would have made use of Despenser. Piers would certainly have checked his rise though. Of course, had Piers survived, he would still have had to borne the brunt of any baronial discord. But maybe as he matured, and both he and Edward settled into their family roles, just maybe he wouldn't have been as confrontational.
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PostSubject: Re: Piers Gaveston   Sat Mar 29, 2008 11:41 pm

elflady wrote:
Not sure how he could have lived. Had Lancaster not killed him, he would most probably have been exiled again and had he returned, everything would have started again. He might have stood a chance if he had learned his lesson and become a bit moderate in his attitude though. But would he have understood that his life depended on it or would he have taken it as a challenge and continued to defy everyone?
Personally, I believe their friendship would have gone on and Despenser wouldn't have stood a chance had Piers lived. Wonder what Isabelle would have done in such a case!

It does seem that Piers found it very difficult to learn any lesson from the likes of Lancaster - but just suppose he had, when stranded at Scarborough castle? Obviously, Warwick and Lancaster wouldn't have believed him as they couldn't wait to murder him - but what if Pembroke had managed to protect him, bring him to trial, and even imprisoned him for a time? Sending him into exile didn't seem to do much good - although, as you say, it seems Piers was oblivious to the fate that awaited him. Had he remained a (safe) prisoner of Lancaster for a year or 2, maybe he would have learned a lesson.
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PostSubject: Re: Piers Gaveston   Sat Mar 29, 2008 11:45 pm

As for Isabella - she was very young when she married Edward, and I think once she had given England an heir, and the usual spare, her position as queen was safe. Very few royal marriages were for love. I'm sure she wouldn't have enjoyed Edward flaunting his relationship with Piers at the start of her marriage, but once her position was safe, would she really have minded or cared?
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PostSubject: Re: Piers Gaveston   Sat Mar 29, 2008 11:55 pm

I'm still exploring the website, blog and forum, so am not sure what posters believe about Edward and his so-called favourites. Of course I know Edward has suffered prejudice because of his sexuality - and there are still contrasting views about whether he was straight, homosexual or bi-sexual. If Piers had lived, I do see them spending a lifetime together, and would see Edward as just 'loving Piers'.

I'm undecided about his relationship with Despencer.
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PostSubject: Re: Piers Gaveston   Sun Mar 30, 2008 12:01 am

Alianore wrote:
If anyone's interested in reading more about Piers, there's a bio of him by Jeffrey (J.S.) Hamilton, published in the late 1980s. There's also another work by Pierre Chaplais, published 1994, which postulates that he and Edward were not lovers, but adoptive brothers. There's also an MA thesis about him from the late 1930s, and another bio written in the 1890s, neither of which I've read, unfortunately.

Have you read both the recent bios? I read an article by Chaplais in History Today a few years ago. Both books have a very expensive price tag on Amazon, but would happily buy them if anyone could recommend them. For example, are they over 100 pages long? and are they well re-searched? Are they straight-forward narratives? although I know Chaplais advances the idea they were more likely brothers.
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PostSubject: Re: Piers Gaveston   Sun Mar 30, 2008 4:01 pm

Thanks for all the great thought-provoking posts, Anejre!

I've long been convinced that Ed II was born well before his time. For instance, he went on holiday for a month in the Fens in the autumn of 1315, with "a great concourse of simple people" - horrifying to his contemps, nice to us, the king with the common touch! The chronicler Robert of Reading wrote sarcastically that Ed went "to refresh his soul with many waters", incomprehensible in the 14c - Ed was centuries ahead of his time in recognising the therapeutic value of spending time near water! Wink

Agree with you about Isabella. Kings (and noblemen) were not expected to be faithful, and as far as Ed's relationship with Piers was concerned, she was no worse off than the *many* queens who had to watch their husbands flaunting their mistresses (and male favourites, in the case of James VI and I). I doubt Isa was jealous of Piers and Hugh Despenser in a personal sense, but hated Hugh because he influenced Ed to reduce her income. Piers never did that, and she tolerated him.

Ed's sexuality is complex, isn't it?! Wink I assume he was bisexual, although of course that's applying a much later label to him.

The Chaplais bio is 134 pages, and the Hamilton 170, including notes. They're both pretty academic, and the Hamilton one has quite a lot on Piers' estates. I would recommend them, but they are terribly pricy - I had to wait ages to find reasonably priced copies! The Hamilton is a chronological narrative beginning with facts about Piers' family, then Piers himself from 1297 to 1312. I enjoyed the appendix, which contains the loooooong list of Piers' possessions seized by Lancaster in 1312. The man was certainly not lacking in style. Wink

The first chapter of the Chaplais details his theory that Ed and Piers were adoptive brothers, then it's a chronological narrative of Piers' life.

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PostSubject: Re: Piers Gaveston   Sun Mar 30, 2008 11:38 pm

Thanks for the info on the books - and I managed to order a reasonably priced copy of Hamilton's book:) I can't see me lasting out on the Chaplais book for long either!

I shall get round to posting about Edward being ahead of his time on the appropriate message board. Suffice to say for now - it's amazing how Edward's pursuits were seen as 'strange' and yet the monarchy has been slated for centuries for being out of touch with the people!
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PostSubject: Re: Piers Gaveston   Sun Mar 30, 2008 11:56 pm

I've just finished reading 'The confession of Piers Gaveston' - a short book finished in 3 days. I could discuss this in books, but as it's about Piers, will do so here. Anyone else read this book and if so, any thoughts?

I thought it started promisingly - well, any book on Piers has to, right? as there are so few. But by the end, I was rather upset by the portrayal. I could handle the accusation of witchcraft directed at his mother - a tactic used throughout these times to tarnish the character of a person - and maybe the child abuse allegations - but then the novel turns Piers into, well, a tart without a heart, until he meets Edward - literally. In this novel, Piers earns his living selling his body - at a very good price - and seals up his heart, until he meets and falls in love with Edward. Only problem is, once they sleep together, it spoils the relationship as Piers feels like a well kept whore and Edward turns into sex pest unable to keep his hands off Piers - at one point, even forcing himself on Piers. And all the time, Piers is still trading his body and sleeping with anyone with money and a pulse! Piers sours on Edward when he won't take him seriously about anything and resolves to leave him, but finds it difficult to break free.

All the time, the author paints Piers as a pouting poppet at court! He makes a point about Piers and Edward being manly, but then has Piers flirting with every lord at court in front of Edward and behaving in an effeminate way. Like a 13th century Julian Clary! Edward is seen as a buffoon.

The ending is horrible for Piers - yearning for Pembroke, kidnapped by Warwick, who then allows some of his men to rape Piers, who then, knowing he faces certain death, flirts and has sex with a guard called Geoffrey in order that he help look his best for his 'execution' and that he will pass on his secret diary. The diary ends up with Pembroke, who laments what mght have been.
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PostSubject: Re: Piers Gaveston   Mon Mar 31, 2008 12:00 am

btw, I LOVE JUlian Clary - have seen his live show many times, but he's not my idea of Piers Gaveston! I don't like the way the author continually has Piers referring to himself as a 'great whore', and that even when he leaves Edward to go into exile the third time, he plans to set himself up as a courtesan in Rome as he reckons he has at least 10 years with his looks to make his fortune. Also, the relatinship with Edward is hollow.

I would have preferred that once he got together with Edward, he left his past behind him.
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PostSubject: Re: Piers Gaveston   Mon Mar 31, 2008 10:59 am

Haven't read it and from the looks of it I don't think I will...
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PostSubject: Re: Piers Gaveston   Mon Mar 31, 2008 2:18 pm

Sounds like a soap opera - days of our 14th C lives, perhaps.

Starring: Julian Clary as Piers and the "only gay in the village" as Edward II.
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PostSubject: Re: Piers Gaveston   Mon Mar 31, 2008 10:25 pm

ROTFL! Melisende! Yes, that just about sums it up!

Hi Elflady - just checking out the cover is off-outting! A sinister Piers in the shadows with his hand on an angelic looking Edward! Still, the title was just too intriguing to pass it up.
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PostSubject: Re: Piers Gaveston   Mon Mar 31, 2008 10:26 pm

oh, and I gave in and bought the Chaplais book:)
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PostSubject: Re: Piers Gaveston   Mon Mar 31, 2008 10:40 pm

Actually, Ed is a bit like a sex pest in one of those Carry On films - all he can think about is Piers body! In some parts, the author does try and exhibit some humour - for example, when Piers meets Ed and Isabella when they land in England, Ed insists on travelling in a coach with Piers and tells Isabella the coach is too rickety for her - he bundles her into Lancaster's coach, and then pounces on Piers in their coach. It's a short journey, but enough for Ed to get what he wants. When they arrive at the palace, Ed and Piers emerge from the coach dishevelled, and Ed tries to re-arrange his clothes and tells Isabella something along the lines of 'I told you it was too rickety'!
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