A True History of the Isles Vol II Chapter 10. Ireland- One Way of Being Independent In The Middle Ages.

 

Overview

The history of Ireland had been much affected by the circumstance in which they managed to fit one hundred and fifty kingdoms into such small place. What with a king, his family, his nobles and their families it must have been difficult at times to find enough servants and subjects to make the whole business worthwhile. However, the sheer number does suggest there must have been a certain level of equal opportunity around.

Vikings

All might have worked out reasonably well with everyone squabbling and marrying each other until there would have been just one sprawling royal family. This domestic process was interrupted however as were most things in those times by the arrival of the Vikings. As it was discussed in the previous volume this caused another layer of quarrelsomeness, marrying etc, until the Vikings were finally officially removed around about 1000 or 1100 if one is picky about who was Viking and who was not.

Normans

Matters were not allowed to settle down because of events which had taken place in England. The events being The Normans who were Vikings who had decided they preferred to be sort of French(ish) and in consequence were so successful at it they invaded England (and Scilly, which doesn’t come into this narrative, much). The England Venture proved to be another efficacious decision, and it is not surprising that sundered Normans or descendants of Normans having conquered everything English looked about a bit and noticed Ireland. At the same The Irish noticed them and some Irish invited some Normans over to help them (the Irish that is) fight other Irish. (The Celtic Mistake- See Previous Chapter)

This was a rather messy business for not only did Normans turn up, but so did Cambro-Normans (Normans who been so long in Wales they could appreciate the artistic). To make things even more confusing some Normans liked Ireland so much they became Hiberno-Normans and were renowned for being so Irish that other Normans attacked them out of preference

Who Ruled What and How

The Plantagenet Idea

Henry (The I) of England thought since he was there he could try and say Ireland was his and so have a place to send restless nobles and sons to as there was always someone to fight over something. This may (or may not) have been supported by Pope Adrian VI in 1155 because the Irish Church was going about the place appointing its own bishop without asking Rome Henry therefore appointed a Lord Lieutenant who was to tell the Irish what the king wanted them to do, or so he thought.

The Irish Reality

Whereas there was a Lord Lieutenant there were also Irish, Norman, Cambro-Norman and of course Hiberno-Norman lords as well as Irish Chiefs and Chieftains and fellows who insisted they were kings. If this was not confusing enough early on there was still The High King who claimed everyone should kneel to him and not someone across the sea. This was sorted out on 14th May 1260 when Brian mac Néill Ruaidh Ó Néill also known as Brian O’Neill by those of a lazy disposition was killed at the Battle of Durim Dearg by other Irish in the pay of various Normans who wisely stood about. He did get a lament for his troubles while his head was sent to Henry III who being pious was not sure what to do with it.

This did not solve the problem of everyone fighting everyone else nor that various Lords Lieutenants kept getting involved in the politics of who should be king of England or not and subsequently being replaced, in some cases due to losses of heads. The Normans (Cambro etc) didn’t help matters as they allowed poor folk to arrive who spoke welsh, english (sort of) or flemish and also confusing the cultural subject even more by calling the natives ‘Mere’ Irish which as far as the Normans (of all sorts) were concerned meant ‘Pure’, so what were the Natives complaining about? Not surprisingly nothing settled down and young irish lads often found employment as mercenaries.

Examples of the Business   

Kingdom of Connach had a very fractious ruling family who quarrelled amongst itself so much that quite exhausted it collapsed in 1230. This allowed a smaller bit named Ui Maine to be quite kingish and have the reasonably famous King Ruaidri Ó Cellaigh who ruled between 1332-1339. This sort of thing was going on all over Ireland.

The Normans Fail and Decline

The Normans of various shapes and sizes became so inept at ruling that they either became Irish (See Hiberno-Normans) or hid in Dublin where they fell into superstitious ways and believed they were protected by a Great Snail which kept all the Irish away and beyond it. It was only when The Church got involved and explained through theology that it was God who protecting every Norman and scaring the Irish off so much they became quite Beyond The Pale that this myth was dispelled.

The Scots Get Involved

Robert and various other Bruces in the endeavour to make Scotland independent invaded Ireland in 1315. Robert who was obliged to stay in Scotland defending it from The English and other scots who didn’t agree with him left the Irish Question with his brother Edward. Edward tried to rally the Irish lords, kings, chiefs etc by claiming he was now the High King. This upset many folk, so in his conceit he started the Irish Bruce Wars; which finished in 1318 when he was killed by either some Irish or Hiberno-Normans or both on 14th October at Faughart. Anyway, apparently there were a lot of them and they chopped his body into little bits so every town could see a piece. This was a silly scheme as naturally being king Edward (The II) got the head so no one could really tell if the other bits were genuine or not and understandably probably didn’t want to see them anyway.

The Kings of England and How What They Did With (or About) Ireland (if Anything)

In general, the various kings between Henry III & Richard The II (as advertised by Shakespeare) irrespective of whatever else they did or didn’t do had a patchy record when it came to Ireland as will be shown below:

Henry III – He received money from Ireland and a head (see Brian mac Néill Ruaidh Ó Néill). Both events allowed him to give lands to the barons who didn’t know what to do with it, so he gave everything Irish to his son Edward. Being young and faced with all that squabbling he didn’t know where to start, so made an early career of rescuing his father. Thus, everyone in Ireland carried on as before.

Edward I– Being a basically rational fellow Edward concentrated on slaughtering those scots and welsh who didn’t agree with him. This was a sensible move as they were on his borders. He then tried his hands at crusading which was fashionable at the time. He then slaughtered some more scots. He left the running of Ireland to various nobles, as he was an imposing man of fiery temper no one dared tell him they couldn’t keep the blessed place under control.

Edward II– He wanted to put his BFF Gaveston in charge, but the Barons said Gavetson couldn’t because of Parliament and their own personal armies, in fact Gaveston was not allowed to be in Ireland (or England or anywhere). The Barons to show Edward they meant well gave him the head of Edward (Bruce). Edward(II) was never too sure about things after that.

Edward III– Had settled on being king of both England and France, thus spent so much of his time fighting the latter to have much to do with Ireland. One of his sons Lionel travelled over from Antwerp and tried to redress by balance and making an imposing statement by having statues erected in Kilkenny in 1366. There must have been a goodly number as on them were inscribed thirty-five things the Hiberno-Normans couldn’t do without the king giving permission. This gave a loophole for the Cambro-Normans and the native Irish to do as they pleased so the whole scheme came to naught.

Richard II- (as dramatised by Shakespeare). Sometime during his reign Richard went slightly mad and became a tyrant, on finding out that no one in Ireland was paying attention to this he sailed there (with an army) to impose his authority. Because so many people were not listening to him he was obliged to ride and march all over the place, but not achieving much in the process. In the meantime, a Henry who had been born in Lincoln but came from Lancaster by way of France said he had a better claim to the throne by right of blood, primogenitor, Not Salic Law and a large army with lots of nobles. It can be argued thus, because of Ireland, Richard the II (See Shakespeare) lost the crown of England.

Conclusion

Nothing much changed in Ireland during the 13th & 14th centuries and the kings of England didn’t have a lot of say.

 

 

A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 1 – Henry III (Part A. – The Major Minority)

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A True History of the Isles Vol II Chap 9 – The Celts A Necessary(Socialist) Overview

 

 

Something of an Introduction

As the narrative has now reached the commencement of the 15th Century and has dealt mostly with the events and kings of England (with Scots’ interference) it is essential we now look back over the 14th Century and events in Ireland (with Scots’ interference), Scotland (with their own and English interference) and Wales (which, quite frankly went into a bit of a sulk).

In the spirit of fairness, equity (and mischief) a separate chapter will be given over to each nation. This is chapter is therefore simply an overview and background.

Of Disclaimers and Justifications

Whereas and hither to thereupon, any history of the Celtic races of these Isles is bound to cause offense to someone or other, in advance the author asserts the right to make harsh judgements and controversial statements on the grounds that he is:

Welsh and thus, apparently Celtic, so can’t be said to be English and therefore entitled to say anything he wants to about apparently fellow Celts

A socialist and thus has the predisposition to be critical of any royal or titled household of which there were a positive surfeit until the 20th Century; irrespective of what allegedly noble causes they claimed to have espoused while grabbing more land and power.

A dedicated misanthrope and thus entitled to be dismissive of any accounts or heritages which show the slightest hint of romance or alleged acts of the proto-democratic nature on the rather obvious grounds that we are discussing the 14th Century ( and earlier)  in Europe.

Catholic– which hasn’t got much to do with anything in this chapter but might irritate people who deserve to be irritated.

The Basic Histories

A Sad Fact of History

To look back upon the history of the Celts, one aspect which cannot be avoided is the Celts invaded someone else’s land, massacred, subjugated or drove out the native folk. Some historians of Celtic history are a bit queasy about this and prefer the term ‘Settled The Land’. Actually, they should not be so squeamish, as on a world-wide basis aside from a few aboriginal peoples on the very margins of lands discovered by humans, everyone did it. By all means one should complain about being massacred, pillaged and enslaved. However, they should not carry on so as if being conquered was personal and only happened to their people.

A Brief Overview of The History.

Once the Celts had spread out all over the Isles they set to fighting, betraying and subjugating each other; which in Human terms was the usual business. There was a brief interlude (in historical terms) when the Romans arrived and being very civilised took advantage of local rivalries conquered and subjugated a large portion in a very formal way, massacring being reserved for those who would not co-operate. Those living in the large portion generally liked this, until one day the Romans declined to subjugate them anymore, went away to fall and left the lands to deprivations of various peoples some Celtic, some not.

Eventually as narrated in the previous volume some Celtic kings invited Saxons over to help the Celtic kings with their attempts to be bigger kings. The Saxons stayed, did their own conquering and subjugating, until the Vikings and Normans turned up.

At this stage the Celtics had organised themselves in Welsh, Scots, Irish and Cornish, with no one paying any attention to those who lived on The Isle of Mann. Although the Vikings did some subjugating of anyone who had survived their conquering, they were far too restless and angst ridden to stay very long. This did not apply to their descendants The Normans.

The Normans had been Vikings but since they’d settled in France they felt sailing about and pillaging as a means of government was now beneath them. So, they stole lands and fought amongst themselves and the locals, in the meantime inventing Aquitaine, Anjou, Maine, Brittany, Normandy, etc. Thus, by the time and opportunity came to invade and seize the throne of England they were fairly well versed in the professions of conquering, subjugating etc, whereas the Anglo-Saxon and Celts were still steeped in the lesser arts of squabbling and betraying. With these advantages The Normans conquered England, Cornwall, parts of Wales and discovered there was also Scotland and Ireland.

It can be seen, therefore that conquering, subjugating etc were part of the Historical Process, which was of no comfort if you happened to be in the way of The Conquerors and Subjugators, particularly as their followers and hirelings were usually Pillagers, and Slaughters.

The Harsh Truths

There Were No English       

Unfortunately for Celtic folk in terms of accuracy concerning romantic ballads, legends, etc in the formative times of the Middle-Middle and Early-Late-Middle Ages, this was the case. There were indeed Folk and Communities, along with a few Tribes, but no nationalities as we would recognise them. To be accurate there were peoples who lived in places we now have clumped together as countries and that was that.

In these times Normans Who Followed William (The I or Conqueror) were given lands by William on the basis that he had won a battle and a crown and also that was that. Wherever they might be, the Common People were common and to be pushed around and thus again that was that. This trend was to continue until experiments by Henry (The V) who chose recently deceased folk to block up walls and granted them the posthumous title of English. This system quite fell apart when he died, and was buried not used to fill gaps in places.

In point of fact when one considers England, folk only looked as far as six villages in either direction, and anyone beyond spoke funny and was foreign. To suggest to someone living in Kent they were associated with someone who lived in York would get you at least dumped in a pond or at worse suffer farming implements/ tools of their trade.

All deprivations, privations, complications and implications were therefore the results of the actions of kings (remote/ couldn’t give a dead bishop’s socks about you/ So what? They’re common) or local lords (regrettably not remote/ grasping/ greedy/ couldn’t give a dead bishop’s socks about you, etc). A sensible commoner thus gave loyalty to their lord (opportunist/ conniving/ the one with the armed men, etc).

Under this system nationalities were therefore the preserve of kings who decided who was who, when and why.

Who Cares Who Your Grandparents Were (If you were common, that is)

As in general throughout History, for a leader the idea was to grab influence, authority and land. The rest was all useful stuff to get the Common Folk thinking you were worth following. For the Common Folk following a leader on a knobbly cause was a great opportunity to grab other people’s stuff without being punished, unless you got the tough break and were involved in a battle. It didn’t really matter who you were assailing or in which direction you were marching, that sort of stuff would be left up to later generations of chroniclers, balladeers and folk who wanted to start up their own cause.

Celts Didn’t Learn

We shouldn’t be too harsh on the leaders of those times (allegedly romantic), because various emperors of great civilisations (Roman, China, Persia, etc) had done the same thing.

“ie- We’re having trouble with Rebel Lords, Common People, Rivals etc, let’s get a few of those tough folk from over the border to help us out and pay them- no gold? No problem we’ll give them some of that scrubby land we don’t really need”

The flaw with this sort of plan was that the tough folk from over the border were led by people just as grasping, conniving and cunning as those issuing the invitations, and had lots of tough followers who knew what to do with swords, spears, bows, etc. So, once you got them in, you couldn’t get rid of them, and they would decide

“Hey. This is just what we were looking for. Move over loser we’re taking charge”

Naturally there would be some locals who having been honed on generations of in-fighting would object to this and so later generations of chroniclers, balladeers etc could dress it all up as a knobbly cause for freedom, justice, national identity (whatever that was) etc. Whichever way you looked at it, folk grabbed land, followers grabbed stuff and the poor folk in between got stamped on.

As we will see in later chapters successive waves of Celtic rulers really got their people a large amount of misery for this sort of business, although this part didn’t really trouble them too much, just so long as they got their land back (or better still, in the chaos, more of it)

The Celtic Identit(ies)

There were two great advantages the folk resident in what we term today as Wales, Ireland and Scotland had:

Romantic Nationhood

The first had foundations in strong leaders knocking (in most cases literally) into the heads of populous the notion that the bigger your tribe, the better chances you had. The Celts had been experimenting with and refining this since the Romans had turned up. Progress had been patchy due to arguments over whose tribe was the biggest, rebellious relatives, savage but indeterminate invaders etc.

When things had settled in Europe  Saxons, Angles, Jutes, Vikings Normans, etc came in by ship and like all invaders didn’t see why they should care two stabs of a sword why they should adopt local customs. Some of the more recalcitrant surviving local lords said these new folks were particularly foreign. This proved useful when the said lords wanted to stir up a land-grab, try for a throne or title or just fight back because the Saxons, Vikings, Normans etc ‘were who they were’. This excuse could be passed down from generation to generation of lord, noble etc and anyone who didn’t join in was a traitor to The Nation (whatever that was at the time).

The Arts

The second and more important being The Celtic Cultures.

Since the Celts had got rid of the locals very early on they had had a long time to utilise arts, crafts, writing, music, folk tales etc. This allowed whoever you were, whenever to record or have recorded in some shape of form yourself and your ancestors in the best light, and throw in a few villains for dramatic effect. It also allowed you to turn around some embarrassing defeat, betrayal, switching of sides or downright villainy into something heroic and even better tragic.

Because of the geographical separations of the three principal Celtic groupings this cultural significance diverted when it came to literature and music.

The Irish could turn individuals irrespective of their actual historical background into cheerful, irreverent fellows who if they were feeling a bit down just went out and slaughtered foes. In later ages, these sorts became more pernickety and only fought and or slew those they thought to be English. There was a divergence in this art form in that some subjects were wont to brood and stride the lands and slay supernatural creatures, or English. Either type of hero was possessed of wit, wisdom and a big sword.

The Scots developed that most fearsome of lyrical weapons, The Lament. Through this style Scots balladeers were to record any defeat or set back in such magnificently romantic and forlorn tones that even those who had bested the Scots loved the lament so much they sung it too. Thus in Scottish history there were only ever heroic defeats which wouldn’t have happened if there hadn’t been traitors and English gold. In later times the subjects became individuals who normally lived in the Highlands and had annoyed some lord (always English) so much that the hero was obliged to travel overseas and wander this way and that, singing about home.

The Welsh having laid claim to the assertions that they were the original Celts, had a language even older and more classical than Latin and allowed to lurk in mountainous regions of the western bumpy bit of the main island did utilise druids. These druids were the cultural and intellectual foundation of the culture and were such an encompassing influence within, the Welsh affinity with the arts reached a high level embracing poetry, music and song to an extent unsurpassed. In this milieu indivual heroes and defeats were not included unless there was enough material for two or three volumes or a song which could only be done justice to by a choir and a harp. Eventually religion was to a valuable source material.

Bottom of the League

The English being still uninvented were unable to cope with this. Luckily a fellow called Chaucer did record some tales, he was so unique they still survive to this day, even if unreadable in the original form. All was patchy though until Shakespeare turned up, and even then it was not until the arrival of The Romantic Poets, Jane Austin, Jerome K Jerome, Kipling and Turner that the English could truly say they had a grasp of The Arts.

Conclusion

Against this backdrop each people’s doings in the 14th Century will be examined in the next few chapters.

 

A True History of The Isles Part 10 – The Fall of The Britons

A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 8 – The End of the 14th Century and Richard II (well also his beginning too)

 

 

As was the case of his great-grandfather Edward the II, had the fates been kinder to Richard( born in Bordeaux 3rd January 1367) and people hadn’t kept dying, he could have lived out his life in the said city and ruled all of Aquitaine or at least stopped the French from having it. However, his father an Edward, son of Edward III, had become so very famous and popular by defeating the French while wearing black armour campaigned too much in foreign climes and died of them in 1376.  His father own Edward the III, neatly expired the following year on 21st June 1377(of age and a pushy mistress). Thus, Richard was made The II on the 16th July 1377.

The Early Years

In these formative times Richard was advised (a polite term for ‘do as you’re told’) by his uncles the very stern and thin John of Gaunt and Thomas The Wooodcock who ruled Buckinghamshire. The first challenge being the Revolting Peasants of 1381(see Chapter 7) and whereas the nobility were unhappy that his uncles advised him, they took comfort that he lied to the rebels and had them massively executed afterwards, so there was hope for the lad.

Richard and his Court

Unfortunately, being a teenage king meant that Richard naturally disliked his uncles telling what to do and began to choose his own advisors in particular Simon de Burbblery, who was probably common and the haughty Robert de Sneer. Many of these preferred dressing in fashionable clothes and ‘indulging’ so were heartily disliked by the average noble for not wanting to fight either The French or Scots or even massacre peasants. Things became worse when it was found out that Richard was making some of his advisors favourites, especially Robert de Sneer who for some obscure reason wanted to rule Ireland disguised as a duck. John of Gaunt was so disgusted with the whole business that he left England to try and be a king of a bit of Spain. Further revelations that three of the favourites were named Bushy, Bagot and Green and thus sounded like a firm of untrustworthy lawyers raised matters to breaking point.

Parliaments and Lords

In 1386 there was some concern that France might invade England just to see how England liked it. Richard’ Chancellor Michael of the Maypole asked for money, the parliament said no, because the king had been spending too much on Robert, shoes, jewels and Soothsayers (who he should have sacked as they hadn’t warned him this was coming) and anyway the Parliament didn’t like the Chancellor so he could go too. Richard was furious not only with their temerity but that everyone was going around calling them Wonderful. In his temper, he spun around the country, installing Robert just in time to rule Chester which by the laws of those days enabled Richard to claim the Parliament was not wonderful, but in fact was treacherous, treasonous and probably onerous.

This was of little use, for inspired by the Wondrous Parliament several lords got together and told Richard why he was not being a good king. So eloquent and reasoned were their arguments they were known as The Lords Intelligent. One of Richard’s cronies tried to raise his spirits by referring to them as The Lords Repellent; Richard did not see the funny side of this because he knew these lords had large armed retinues and he didn’t. Even so he sent Robert (The Favourite) with whatever troops could be found. A great battle was fought in December 1387 at Radcot which was supposed to have a bridge but this was stolen by The Lords. The Royal army adopted the tactics of running away, standing still or if they were lost advancing. Robert (The Not Very Good General) lost his armour and trousers, so was obliged to flee to France where he died (probably still without trousers) in 1390(ish).

Thus, victorious the Lords Intelligent invited a Merciless Parliament to arrest all of Richard’s surviving favourites and have them executed on the grounds of treachery (ie being on the losing side) and wearing silly shoes (and thus offending God). Richard in order to remain The II was obliged not to get involved.

Fate and Richard

A reader could be forgiven at this stage for thinking Richard although still II was doomed to be insignificant, however at this stage Fate intervened in a not particularly kind but certainly advantageous ways; for historians that is.

The Scots (again)

In August 1388 The Scots, under the pretence of fighting for independence once more invaded northern England. The two armies met at the curiously named Otter’s Bum where the Scots won a famous victory which was made even more memorable by the glorious death of their leader James, Earl of Douglas (regrettably Douglas, Earl of James was not in attendance). The Scots at once celebrated by composing romantic ballads, going back home to seize each other’s lands and try to overthrow their own king Robert the II who was in his 70s and thanks to a papal dispensation had fourteen children.

The English did not see any cause to compose ballads, though missed the opportunity to compose a lament, instead they all rallied around Richard II who was now twenty-one and might grow out of his surliness and favourites. Although under the terms of Magna Carta Richard should have suffered for being king during a Scots’ Victory in this case he was exempt on the grounds of not being there at the time.

Queen Anne

Anne who despite being Bohemian and thus foreign was of such gentle, kind and generous nature that she managed the amazing status of being greatly loved by king, nobles and populace all at once, even convincing Richard not to chop off a few peasants’ heads. They had such a pure, goodly and caring marriage that no children arose. Sadly, she died of plague in 1394 and everyone mourned, particularly Richard.  Without having anyone of decent character and compassionate nature around him Richard, justifiably went mad but only slightly so he couldn’t really be deposed.

Uncle John

Despite being a great influence on Richard in the lad’s early years, because of trying to be Spanish, a mild delusion that he could be a castle and his third wife, also called Anne, but who was very common by now John of Gaunt wasn’t paying much attention to Richard. In fact, he did not notice that Richard had had John’s younger brother Thomas murdered and his own son Henry exiled. Both having been Lords Belligerent. Henry escaped execution on the technicality of having broken bollens. His father John, after years of public service, three wives, eight children and far too much Spain died in 1399.

As it can be seen without any restraining influences and with everyone scared of The Scots Richard now firmly ensconced as a II he had a free hand and decided to try out Tyranny.

The Very Interesting Era

The exact date when Richard decided to become a Tyrant is open to speculation, particularly as he never made a formal announcement on the subject. Conjecture suggests he would have started to dabble in it about 1388 on reaching the age of 21 and thus attaining his majority; ie he was the only king in England.

Richard felt that a lavish life style was befitting a king and so in addition to borrowing lots of money he also organised extravagant jousting tournaments, the prizes being so grand that knights from all over Europe attended. As there were any number of wars taking place in Europe these men were thus professionals and usually better than the home-grown completion who had to make do with the less challenging ‘disputes’ and ‘rivalries’. There was thus much grumbling from the English knights about professionalism ruining the game.

Richard was not concerned as he felt such a high profile would help him in his plan to become Holy Roman Emperor. This he believed would make him so important he would only have to worry about arguing with the Pope. Those who had been close to various Emperors and the dozens of princes, hundreds of lords and clutches of city states comprising the Empire would have said something in Latin which equivalented to ‘Good luck with that!’. Anyway, there had only just recently nearly been an English emperor called Richard, so no one continental wanted to risk another another one.

Short of money and not caring to be involved with the French militarily, Richard married the French King’s daughter. She being, six years old meant Richard had a large dowry and did not need to worry about her for another ten or so years. With the money, he was able to hire a large number of welsh archers on the understanding they could shoot at as many Englishmen as they liked, which ensured their loyalty.

Thus, feeling very secure when his uncle John died in January 1399 Richard said he was entitled to all of his uncle’s lands since John’s son Henry of the broken bollens was exiled and since he was traitor should be grateful for just being exiled.

Richard then noticed Ireland whose nobles and lords were so unruly that they were in rebellion against each other and simply not taking the king seriously, he therefore resolved to invade Ireland. This was a rather curious decision since it was supposed to be his and so he should be putting it down, not invading. His mistake was probably due to the large number of new Soothsayers he had hired to tell him The Sooth, The Whole Sooth and Nothing But The Sooth. They did not notice Henry son of John had landed in Yorkshire in April intent on getting back his lands and thus everything for Richard was suddenly going Sooth.

The Tragic Fall

Leaving the Irish to annoy each other Richard wisely landed in Wales in June or July (1399), but by then most of the nobles in in England had decided Henry should not just have his lands but also the throne. Henry decided they had a good point as he had male forebears whereas Richard’s were mixed up with female forebears, which proved by the laws of those days why he was a bad king and thus a traitor to himself. Richard had intended to discuss all this with Henry, but became so cross that he threw bonnets about the place and so was consigned to the Tower of London.

No one was quite sure to do with him, so they asked a bishop who gave thirty-three reasons why Richard had been a bad king; this naturally took a long time which only lawyers and other churchmen really appreciated and admired. Henry chaffed at the delay which had allowed some nobles who had profited from Richard’s reign to plot. In consequence Richard was moved from the Tower in a hurry and was misplaced, only to be discovered at Pontefract where either taking a very stubborn dislike to the cakes had starved to death, or preferably for Henry had expired of remorse at being a bad king. In either case Henry was obliged to place him sitting up in his coffin to prove he was dead.

This was such a tragic end people were able to write plays and novels about Richard II (who although weak supplied more interesting material than Richard the I) Also as he died so neatly in January 1400 he is only of the few kings to have memorable date of death and thus is of some benefit to folk who wish to appear to have some knowledge of history.

Legacy

Richard’s reign was so controversial and his fall so sudden, Henry was able to repair his bollens and the indulge in being two kings thus giving later generations barons a splendid excuse for a proper civil war.

All of which will be discussed in future chapters.

A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 6 – An Era of Everyone Getting Involved With Everyone Else (more than usual)

A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 6 – An Era of Everyone Getting Involved With Everyone Else (more than usual)

1325 to 1380 The Age of Interference?

Some histories will look at this period from the standpoint of Edward (the III) , what Edward (the III) did and what people thought about what Edward (always the III) had done. Actually, this requires viewing from a wider perspective as there was a lot of interference going on, enacted by a number of people on each other, which in these days we would call International Politics as if we had invented it.

For convenience sake, we shall start with Edward who started out as ‘of Windsor’ on account of being born there 13th Nov. 1312

Edward Comes of Age

With his father (ex-Edward II) deposed in 1327 and possibly killed but more likely to be allowed to flee, Edward (still of Windsor) realised his situation was delicate because his mother Isabella was in a delicate relationship with The Roger Mortimer. Even though he (now  Edward III) had been crowned in 1327,‘They’ were running the country and if her personal heath became delicate and she and Mortimer had a little delicatessen then, his position (Edward ie) would be so delicate as to be possibly fatal. This concern was not helped by Mortimer acting like Edward was his surly teenage son. Surly and teenage he might be, stupid he was not so in 1330 with the aid of the We-Hate-Mortimer group of Nobles he gently deposed his mother and not so gently disposed of Mortimer. Being chivalrous he imprisoned his mother in comfortable surroundings and used to visit her and later with grandchildren, so despite the efforts of Victorians she did not go mad, though was probably distraught about Mortimer (for a while)

Scotland- Successions, Pretenders, English folk and Davids Who Won’t Go Away

Robert (The I, The Bruce, The Famous etc) did not have a chance of being involved in all the fuss and drama as he was dying of an ‘unclean sickness’. Since everyone in those days was pretty grubby and generally dying through not washing their hands, why contemporaries should make such an issue of Robert in particular seems a bit unfair. Suffice it to say he expired in 1329.

He was succeeded by Daibhidh a Briuis (or as the English insisted David the II). As he was only aged 5 at the time and those charged with his regency died (probably of English or Pretenders) these were parlous times and he was often obliged to go into exile as well as be captured by the English.

David (for sake of clarity)’s main problem was the Balliol family who had been friends with the English or Anglo-Norman kings from the times of King Stephen and had even had a Matilda of their own (See Vol I). For this reason Balliols (or Belliols) had started to believe they could pretend to be Kings of Scotland, and the latest, Edward thought that kings of Scotland and England with the same name would be heavily advantageous to the Isles as no foes could be sure who was who or where so, in 1332 he said he was king(of Scotland, that is). Many Scots nobles didn’t see it that way kept deposing him no matter how many times the English kept undeposing him. With David (or Daibhidh) back in 1341 he (Edward, the Balliol) was obliged to flee to Galloway and raise a rebellion and in 1346 returned after David (the II or a Bruis) had made an English noble called Neville very cross, had been invaded for it and captured. Although Edward (the Pretender) thought he might profit no one really took him seriously and in 1356 he gave up and retired to a post office in Doncaster.

David would spend spent many years in England and Edward (the III) would insist the Scots paid to have him (ie David The Bruce-ish) back He would return to Scotland as we shall see.

The Hundred Years War

The French were led by Philip VI who was fortunate and had managed to seize the bits of France which English kings said were theirs and send pirates to raid the English coast This annoyed Edward The III so much that he said he could be a better King of France and intended to prove it by invading the afoementioned France. He firstly became friends with Louis VI which was a shrewd move. Louis was a very successful fellow having become King of the Germans in 1314, the Italians in 1327 and finally in Emperor of any Romans he could find in 1328, he rewarded Edward (III) by announcing he (Edward that is) could be a vicar in any parts of Germany he chose. Encouraged by this Edward formed an alliance with The Portuguese and was thus able to sluice the French off of the seas in 1340.

With all these advantages and control of the seas in plaice Edward invaded France in 1346 where his Gothically inclined son The Black Prince defeated the French at Crecy and Poitiers. This was also because Phillip VI had ceased and his son John (or Jean) was captured (or capture) with his own sons Phillip (or Philipe) and Louis (or Louis). All were held for ransom (or rancom), but in raising the gold (or d’or) the French nobility found difficulties (or tres excuses feeble). John gained the moral high ground when his son Louis cheated and escaped in1363 which was not allowed in Chivalry. In response John said he would now be a prisoner in England. He arrived in 1364 .Everyone greeted him with great celebration and feasting, and so three months later being of such good repute he died.       

Other Nations Kings And Ransoms

It was a perfectly respectable thing to do to capture other people’s nobles and kings and demand large amounts of gold and silver for their return, but not so funny if the said peoples weren’t keen on having them back. This was a problem for the English Government during this era.

The Scots had managed to wrangle a deal to make easy instalment payments and so David (The II don’t forget) returned to Scotland in 1363. Once safe in Scotland and with England tangled up with the French he suggested later that instead of paying gold etc, a son of Edward III could be king after him; he then cannily dragged out the negations until dying 1371 of infidelity. In the meantime, he had knocked nobles etc into line, gathered so much extra money (by not paying England) that Scotland was now so solid it was basically independent and great friends with France.

Edward (III) had not noticed this because he was trying to get the French to pay for their king; they having more capital and land than the Scots. This confused the French as they thought he had said he was going to be King anyway, so why would they want John (or Jean) back anyhow? Edward confused matters even more in 1360 by saying he didn’t have to be king (of France) just so long as he kept the lands he rightful taken (or stolen). And then Jean (or John) died (see above) which ruined everything.

So by 1371 Edward was quite disillusioned with whole ransoming of Captured Kings

The Black Death

This appeared to appear from Asia and was caused by fleas on rats, although no doubt washing the hands would have helped stop the spread. Medical Science at the time was not much advanced although various cures were experimented with such as poking holes in people, wrapping them in hot wet blankets, cold wet blankets or pushing pigeons into various infected areas; unsurprisingly the death toll was high. Because Edward I & II had driven out the Jewish community the local population had no one to foist the blame onto, except the Church, who countered by saying it was all down to Devine Judgement, which was a daft thing to claim seeing as how a large number priests, bishops etc died too. Eventually there were so few rats the plague went away, for a while. One of the results being that many peasants had died, leaving the nobles with a reduced workforce thus the surviving peasants could just go and work for whom these pleased at what wages they, the peasants thought reasonable. Although various parliaments tried to do something to keep the peasants in their place things were not the same anymore and so set the scene for the rise of Socialism, Non-Conformities, Rat Catchers and experiments with washing hands.

 The Continued Rise of Parliament.

Edward’s principal problem with the body was that so many people were getting into Parliament that it had enough representatives to have a House of Commons and a House Of Lords who when they weren’t arguing with each other would both tell the king (ie respectfully suggest and advise) he couldn’t have any money. They became so full of themselves they assembled in 1376 on April 28th and didn’t go away until the 10th July, during which time they made so many speeches they insisted they were The Good Parliament. Edward was therefore obliged to dismiss his current group of advisors and have men appointed by Parliament (The Good) even if one who was a son of Roger Mortimer, just to remind Edward the III what had happened to Edward the II. They also insisted he have two bishops and to really confuse him they were both named William.  Luckily for Edward his very thin and serious son John of Gaunt invented, in 1377 a Bad Parliament which said everything the Good Parliament had done was possibly illegal, heretical, or treasonous and empowered Gaunt to throw people in jail if he felt like.

This was of great comfort to his father Edward (III of course) who at the time was suffering from a large abyss resulting in his death 23rd June 1377.

The Legacy of the Era of Edward III  

Because Edward had been good at fighting the Scots and The French his nobles admired and trusted him, thus for some years both were on the same side. As there were so many parliaments the common people thought they were being listened to. Also by codifying the Laws of Treason and felonies, people now had the right to know what they were being arrested or thrown into a dungeon for.  Fighting the French was also popular with the people; in particular as due to French foreign policy there were more popes than usual (ie One). Edward circumvented this difficulty by only choosing to listen to the one which had not be chosen by The French. In conclusion, it must also be mentioned that Edward was secure enough to make the wearing women’s garters by men of noble birth an act of Chivalry. Thus, he died beloved.

The Isles

In general England felt strong and independent, Scotland felt wealthy and independent, Ireland wasn’t listening to anyone outside of Ireland and thus sort of Independent; Wales however was stuck with the king’s eldest son being its prince so was continuing to invest in a Cultural Identity.

 

In the next Chapter, we shall look at the Circumstance of The Church during this era and the confusion arising when the Assertions that The King was God’s Appointed Regent and the Church being God’s Appointed Servants got all mixed up by kings and bishops.

 

A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 4 Edward II, And What Others Did About Him

 

A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 5- The Status of Women in the Middle-High-Middle Ages.

In this chapter we shall take a break off from kings, conniving nobles, fussy church folk and those who liked to pretend they were any of the aforementioned and consider the status of Women in the Medieval era. The reasons for this lurch is that we have just left Edward II who may or may have not been killed by nobles, but there seems to be a common misconception even to this day at that at the bottom of his fall was his cold cruel wife Isabella of France who being a mere woman also fell under the spell of wicked Roger Mortimer.

At this stage, the author of this work would like to say ‘Oh! Grow up!’

So, let us look at the matter in more detail.

The Basic Details

Women suffered from a bad press. Men in general, irrespective of intelligence and education were not inclined to understand the poetical and allegorical nature of parts of the Old Testament of the Bible so blamed women for Eve, or vice versa (it was a source of great theological debate). Also, if they did get around to reading stuff from the Elderly Greeks and Roman which of course had to be classical, these works were all about men apart with a few devious or hysterical women thrown in for dramatic effect; these works being written by men. It was thus concluded women were weak, devious, incapable of thought, emotional and not to be trusted out of your sight.

The fact that this could be applied in equal measure to your average male, in particularly the nobility and the higher officers of The Church was of course blamed on outside influences, especially women.

Thus, women were allowed only to get married and have children, or failing that enter convents. For anything else they had to have the permission of their fathers, brothers or husbands. If they insisted on surviving all male relatives then they were expected to marry the nearest available male. If he was already married she would have to seek another male; the one exception being the nobility; they were allowed to ask a bishop to find out a reason why the current marriage was illegal, immoral or inconvenient.

The Social Structure

Peasant Women.

These had less rights than their male counterparts, which was a bit of a problem seeing as in practice the male peasant was quite devoid of any rights. The law could be very harsh; if it was found out a woman had a child out of marriage, some male peasant had to pay a large fine to the local lord, irrespective if the lord was the father of said child. In addition to having children, cooking and keeping the hovel free of rats, they were also expected to work in the fields, forest etc. Those who survived all this to the ripe old age of thirty-five might be suspected of witchcraft.

Something More Than Peasant Women, Women

Although their status was something similar to Peasant Women, due to legal loopholes some women could keep some of their own property and income. They could also organise their own businesses, as long as a man knew about it. Women could be brewers or butchers, until men started to get queasy about the concept of that the person who brewed their ale could also wield a large axe.

Women Whose Husbands Were Commoners But Wealthy.

Whereas these women were still expected to produce children, they could have servants to boss about. When The Old Man was away for some reason, The Wife was expected to run his business. Sometimes the community and business partners found out she could do a better job than he could and his return might be difficult. Sometimes robbers waylaid him and no questions were asked.

Women With Titles

Generally, a daughter was set up to marry someone by the age they were four. The whole business being to organise alliances between families and of course produce male children. If they survived this they might be chosen to be lesser lady to some higherborn noble woman and either be loyal or insufferable if they were older than the said higherborn. Having a title allowed them at any stage to say they wanted to be a nun and get out of the whole messy business. There were many convents in those days.

Noble Women

Noble women basically had to have male children. If they didn’t it was their fault. If the poor mite died it was their fault. If the kid grew up and became a disappointment it was his fault. The father always wriggled out of the deal.

Very noble women were allowed to rule while their husband was off making a nuisance of himself somewhere or other. This was known as a regency and was a status not a style of ornate fashion. They usually ruled quite well and this was very unsettling for their hubby when he came back. They were also allowed to accompany their husbands on a crusade, whether they wanted to or not. Some were even more noble about it than their husbands. Therefore, it can be seen why some nobles felt more comfortable with their fluffy young mistresses.

Despite every male telling every other male that this was the one time they should listen to the teaching of The Church, there was still the sneaking suspicion that some women were alarmingly capable.

In England whereas the nobility had recovered from the shock of the Age of Matlhildas & Matildas (See Vol I King Stephen), there was still the worrying evidence that The Eleanors were still prevalent. Everyone still remembered how Eleanor of Provence had been worryingly more capable than husband Henry (III and a bit weak and wet) no matter how rude they were about her. Then the Dynamic Edward the I (and very grim) was supported by and so fond of Eleanor of Castile that he didn’t bother with mistresses and mourned her when she died (the fact that she was a canny and ruthless property dealer suggests he, being an invader and subjugator found she was of a like mind and therefore the ideal wife and helpmate). Naturally as both women were intelligent, well read, and capable they were not popular with the nobility who told their peasants why they should think the same way, but neither woman came as close to vilifications as……

Isabella of France (some time in 1295 – 22 August 1358), Edward II’s wife. As it will have been noted in the previous chapter being married to an Edward The II could not have been easy. Isabella and Peers Gaveston (Favourite the I) did try to work together by being so complicated that the barons never knew whether they liked or didn’t like each other. In 1311 she went with Edward on his campaign against the Scots and thanks to Edward nearly was captured by the Scots which did cause some marital strain. After Gaveston was murdered by Lancaster (the noble not the city) or welshmen she did try to raise Edward’s spirits by giving birth to a son. But this didn’t work as he lost a little war to the Barons and then the Scots and Isabella was nearly captured by both. Even if she did give birth to another son, it must be assumed some of the glamour was fading from the marriage, particularly as she, like the rest of the country suffered from the Dispensers. And around this time thanks once more to Edward’s ineptitude was nearly captured by the Scots again!

By now understandably fed up of Dispensers, Scots, Barons and Edward she fled to France where in order to invade England she and Roger Mortimer became lovers, raised troops, invaded England, dispensed with the Despensers and probably enabled Edward to flee England as live and uncomplicated life. She then made a big mistake of trying to rule England with Mortimer without being Just, Fair and Noble and was duly removed justly, fairly and nobly by her son Edward (the soon to be III), though the same courtesy was not extended to Mortimer.

Although she’d been instrumental in getting rid of the hated Dispensers and shoving her hapless and inept husband off of the throne because she was a woman and not allowed to do such things she was thence vilified. Had she been a man she would have simply been a chapter. Of course Christopher Marlowe’s play ‘Edward II’ has not helped, as there are folk who will take plays as actually history. There again being a character in a Christopher Marlowe play is hardly helpful to anyone’s public image.     

Women Who Took Up A Religious Life

Some of course did this out of conviction, others having seen what happened to mothers, elder sisters, cousins and so forth were quick to hitch up their skirts and scamper off to the nearest convent. This was the one course of action a woman could take without men interfering, as to do this might incur the Attention of The Church, which no one really wanted. This is only mentioned to illustrate the option and will be looked into in more detail in a separate chapter of The Church and other religious aspects.

A medieval singlewoman

This was not a unit of counting the population for statistical purposes, but a woman who was not married without being a widow or religious. Usually without a family they were obliged to find their own dowry. This being a system whereby the family of the woman paid a large sum of money for someone to marry her; today there are many parents of teenage daughters who wished this was still common practice. The Singlewoman was obliged to save up for her own dowry, which in some cases could be a pretty good excuse for putting off the event. There were also women who didn’t bother with such trifling excuses, such as Cecilia Penifader of Brigstock (1295–1344) who made a announcement she would remain unwed, whether this was made as a statement with dignity or followed by a vulgar noise has not been recorded, but she has had a book written about her and lived beyond 30 years of age.

Women of Low Virtue

This only applied to women who did not have titles or of nobility. These lower class women were naturally called whores and other demeaning names, which didn’t stop brothels from making money. This class of women couldn’t have been that ill-considered as their testimony in court was valid, particularly if it was embarrassing to some fellow whose rivals were sharp operators.

To say a woman of high birth was as such, was simply asking for you to get to suffer pain in all sorts of manners, unless of course you were a noble yourself and she was involved with a rival. Normally women in such circumstances were known as mistresses and were generally approved of particularly by wives who hadn’t cared for their husbands in the first place. As long as they didn’t try and influence him politically mistresses of kings were very much accepted, particularly if you were lucky enough for your wife to be one; this opened all sorts of doors for you. Sometimes the children of such relationships muddied the accession circumstance, but some nobles found this a useful way of upsetting rivals or even creating a Pretender to the throne; otherwise they were called Fitz-something and given some land somewhere and told not to get involved in anything.

Education

Whether men liked it or not some measure of education was necessary so that wives could look after things when The Old Man was somewhere else. Some nobles insisted their daughters were very well educated not just to impress others, but so they could spy on their husbands for Dad. Some miserable types complained that if women could write they would spend their time sending passionate letters to lovers. These were just sour-pusses because they didn’t get any of that type of letter.

The Church was naturally suspicious, but grudgingly accepted nuns who could write, just so long as they wrote favorable comments about Christianity and more importantly The Church. Any women who started to speculate about questions of theology were looked upon with concern for the sin of Female Independent Thinking and would be made to submit their work to a Bishop who would then get picky about their use of Latin Grammar.

Religion

This will be looked at in more detail in that separate chapter on The Church. Suffice it to say The Church with its Eve fixation was very suspicious of Women as being weak, devious, lascivious and other words they could fit into Latin. Generally, there were two schools of thought:

Younger members of The Church having read Genesis feared that women would either leap at them and tear off their clothes to force their attentions upon them, or by seductive female means would achieve the same end. It was best therefore if women were not allowed to do anything outside of the house, and religious men should only go into the houses when other men were there. These men also kept their bedroom doors locked, just in case.

Elderly members of The Church had the same opinions, they were of a grumpy stony outlook because in all their years they had never been in such dangers and thought that ‘typical’ or whatever Latin word they cared to use. They had given up locking their bedroom doors      

Some members of The Church had more moderate outlooks. They also kept their bedroom doors locked, for quite different reasons.

Warfare

Noble women often gathered or led armies when The Old Man was either doing that somewhere else or the fool had got himself captured. A few women were quite good at it, though men did not care to see it that way (See Vol 1- The Matildas). The English had had a narrow squeak with a welsh princess Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd earlier on in 1100-1136 who used to go around with her husband sharing raids and chopping Anglo-Normans to bits, but generally in this era in these Isles women did not often get involved with handing out the business end of sharp bits of metal; unless of course they were legendary. Whether any independently minded young women disguised themselves as boys, went off to war and subsequently unsettled hardened leaders of men who found themselves strangely attracted to the new lad is a matter to writers of fiction.

Conclusion

These days, although some men won’t admit it, they yearn for these simpler times, and have to be more subtle and inventive; unless of course they are morons in which case they say they are exercising they right to free-speech (and presumably exercising something else, which is why they keep their bedroom doors locked).

 

In the next Chapter we shall consider the Vigorous Edward III, which will no doubt be of relief to those male readers who are insecure (work it out for yourself for pity’s sake man!)

Edward II, And What Others Did About Him 

A True History of the Isles Part 21- 1135-1154 Who Is Who and Who is in Charge of England Anyhow?

A True History of The Isles Part 27-Eleanor of Aquitaine-Yes Mam! No Mam! At Once Mam!

 

A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 4 Edward II, And What Others Did About Him

Edward is not recorded as being a very good king and thus gives much opportunity for folk to right about his reign.

Had Life and Fate been kinder to him, Edward who became Edward II would have been a merely eccentric minor scion of the Plantagenets noted for his propensity to keep hunting dogs and indulge in rural management and maintenance, however as his three elder brothers died in infancy he was stuck with the job of being King of England.

The Early Years

Born on the 25th April 1284, starting off as being sickly he grew into a handsome, tallish lad. Initially the nobility were not worried; he liked to ride, hunt and care for hunting dogs, these were harmless pursuits, for those not at the business end of the hunt. The nobility and his father Edward (for purposes of clarification The I) did, however, worry when he started take part in the creation and maintenance of hedges and ditches, particularly as he liked to discuss the subject with The Very Common People. Even though he was left as regent in 1296-97 while his father fought in Aquitaine, Anjou, Maine, etc, he could still be found slipping out of meetings carrying his favourite shovel

The Court and The King (Edward the Elder), in the hopes of curing him of these unnatural tendencies had him accompany his father (Edward the I, that is) in 1300 to invade Scotland. The records are not clear if he indulged in any massacring or simply lectured the Scots on the benefits of strong hedge systems and efficient drainage; though it was recorded that he besieged (probably by digging a large ditch around it) and captured the singularly named Strawberry Castle in 1301. The same year he was officially made Prince of Wales and allowed to have the welsh give money to him. By now all the indigenous welsh princes had betrayed or killed each other into legend and their survivors were reinventing themselves as Descendants. Because Edward (to be the II) liked welsh music the population accepted him.

In 1305 Edward (still a prince) and Bishop Long Tom who was also in charge of royal finances argued over how much money he (The Kid) could have; Edward (The King one) sided with the bishop and sort of banished Edward (The ‘Kids! What can you do with them?’), but not so that it mattered. What had truly annoyed Edward (The Old Man) was his son’s relationship with an overly inquisitive young fellow, one Peering Gaveston who Edward (the boy) gifted with airs and graces which Gaveston flaunted. So angry did Edward (king and knew it) get that he pulled the hair from his son’s nose, varnished Gaveston and in 1306 invaded Scotland with an army and his son.

And later died.

Edward (Prince of Wales; II of England, Duke of Aquitaine, and other bits)’s Proclivities

Much has been and will continue to be written about this aspect of Edward (let’s call him the II at this stage)’s private life. Some lament upon the persecution he suffered, others say he was a useless king because of it, and some make a goodly income writing questionable fiction. In actual fact everyone is quite off the mark and missing the fundamental dynamics of the Middle Ages way of doing things.

When not persecuting heretics, other religions or failing to read the Bible properly, The Church disapproved of most things; particularly anything the nobility were doing. The nobility didn’t see it that way. The nobility couldn’t have cared less if their king borrowed his wife’s dress, hired two local young men and played at ‘The Innocent Maid and the Two Cruel, Lustful Robbers’ every Saturday night as long he obeyed the following rules:

1.To ensure there was at least one male heir to the throne and more if possible so there could be a decent power struggle, which all The Barons would benefit from.

2.To listen to and take the advice of The Barons, or at least most of them

3.Not to tax The Barons as a group.

4.To annoy The Church to the benefit of The Barons.

5.Not to execute a baron unless all the other barons said he had it coming.

6.If a war with France was necessary the King had to pay for it himself but if he won he should to pass out lands to The Barons.

7.If The King insisted on fighting The Scots he would have to pay for it, though Northern Barons could take part if they wanted to. But the King must make sure he always won.

  1. The King could have and was encouraged to have Supporters and Factions but not Favourites (See Vol I King John)

As it will be seen Edward (II and no options) was not very good at keeping many of these rules.

As regards the question of ‘Unnatural Proclivities’ it should also be noted this was a favoured means of accusing and hopefully disposing of your rival if you couldn’t afford a big enough army to defeat him and was a common feature of politics of the era.

In conclusion it should be noted, as regards proclivities, that Edward (the Not-The I) sired an illegitimate son, Adam, to whom he gave £13 and some spare change and told him to fight the Scots. Adam died in 1322 somewhere in Scotland, whether it was of Scots, not washing his hands or falling down an improperly constructed ditch it is not known, Edward (father of Adam) to his credit had him buried.            

Kingship The Early Years and Constitutional Crisis

Edward officially became The II on the 25th February 1308. From early on tensions with The Barons were high, but happily for the Isles these were formalised into a game known as ‘Where’s Peers?’. The rules were quite simple; Edward (now King) would elevate Peers Gaveston, The Barons would object and find a way to have him banished; Edward (II and why not?) would then find a way to bring Gaveston back and the whole thing would start again. Gaveston’s role was to flaunt and be rude to The Barons and Bishops. Eventually and unusually The Barons and The Bishops agreed on something and organised themselves and set up a very solid group known as The Ordinary Council who then formularised the rules (see above) but changing Rule 4 to ‘No Gaveston’. This document was known as The Encumbrance and to increase its stature a year was added to it, in this case 1311.

Initially Edward challenged it on the basis that as a king he could use Roman Civil Law which was very classical and thus proper. It was so complex it had to be laid on twelve tables and Edward was fond of picking the bits which suited him. The Council, with the aid of some judges pointed out everything being argued over was taking place in England, which was not classical and so English Common Law applied; being based on what everyone had done before, in England that is.

Edward and Gaveston in breach of Rule 7 went to Scotland where Robert or Bruce refused to help out and didn’t fight, thus Gaveston was obliged in 1312 to flee overseas. This time he did not wait for Edward to think of a reason why he could return and came back by himself. This allowed several barons led by Thomas of Lancaster to capture him. He was then killed by two Welshmen, they being nostalgic for the good old days in Wales when no one took treachery and killing of nobles personally.

Edward was understandably furious. Because Lancaster had gone about saying it was for the good of the realm a few barons were worried in case he might do the same to them ‘for the good of the realm’, thus they sort of shuffled over to the Edward’s side. All might have led to civil war but for France and Scotland.

Edward (II still), The French and The Scots (in that order)

France (and other bits)

Civil war was avoided when it was discovered that because everyone had been fussing about Aquitaine, Anjou, Normandy, Maine, etc  no one was ruling Gascony. Edward at once travelled to France to meet with Philip (IV, King of France, Father-in-Law etc). The problem was solved in June 1213 by the kings sharing a sailing trip up and down the River Sane, agreeing to which bits of Gascony each would rule and promising to reverently massacre non-Christians in The Holy Land, sometime in the future. Philip who quite understood about nobles said he would help Edward (son-in-law) massacre his if it would help. With spirits and consequently taxes raised, 1313 ended quite well for Edward.

The Scottish Question

In 1314 Robert, An Important Bruce began to cause trouble, again. In 1306 he had colourfully slain John Comyn (The Red & The III by the way) in a church; normally this would have been serious. Robert, however, said that John had changed sides and was ready to hand over Wallace (ie The Loyal) to The English, if he’d got the chance; thus John (The Red and now The Dead) had been bought by English gold and should be parcelled up as a rogue. By this argument Robert was able to prove the act to be one of politics and not murder so he was only slightly excommunicated and allowed to be king. This break gave him the opportunity to teach the Scots that actually they had not been invading England for the past a thousand years, but simply fighting off anyone who was on the border who might invade them first, including those devious Britons of Strathclyde who had been speaking welsh in quite the wrong place. Thus he was able to initiate a war of independence and started capturing castles in Scotland. At once (by Medieval terms) Edward (II of course) marched northwards.

The armies met either at Bannock Burn or Bannockburn; the English not sure whether they were fighting Robert, Bruce or Loyal Wallace or all three advanced backwards towards fearsome ranks of Scottish spearmen who were so cleverly organised that the English knights thought them to be hedgehogs. The Scots took advantage of this unsatisfactory state of affairs .and charged, firstly defeating, then slaughtering and finally scattering the English. Edward nobly wished to make a heroic stand but was bundled off by those of his barons who were still nervous of Lancaster.  This left Robert to say he thought he was The I of Scotland and entitled to bother the Pope on the matter. Robert then attempted to free the Irish by invading them and saying he should be their king. As was the custom of those times some Irish agreed, some did not.

Grim Times for Edward (II and so forth)     

All the barons felt the defeat at Burnt Banknock was Edward’s fault, and Lancaster said Edward should listen to him and drew up a treaty to prove it; Edward said it had Leakes in it, but being in a weak position because of famines which he was unfairly blamed for signed it in 1318, not realising in the small print was a clause which said Lancaster had not been involved in the murder of Gaveston. To compound his problems a one-eared man Powdered John, inspired by his cat (and probably Dick Whittington) appeared claiming he was actually Edward, and as a child had had his ear bitten off, making it impossible for him to wear a crown properly and that Edward (The Apparently II) was peasant which explained his fascination with ditches and hedges. Although John and (quite unfairly) his cat were hung this did not stop folk from saying Edward whether he was a II or not was turning out to be a bad king.

It was during these turbulent times that Edward fell under the influence of a family of apothecaries; The Dispensers. These were a devious father and son team who to confuse their foes were both named Hugh. Hugh The Elder took to persecuting nobles and stealing their lands while Hugh The Younger became Edward’s favourite (and so breaking Rule 8). Naturally in 1321 a war broke out, which in typical grasping fashion the father and son titled The Dispensers’ War. Although the barons forced the Dispensers to flee, Edward manage to capture Lancaster, but in an act of clemency only had his head chopped off. The Dispensers came back and with Edward exacted fearful retribution by saying all who had rebelled would know be known as The Contrary and made to wear corsets because Edward ruled they had big bellies, some chose to be executed to avoid the humiliation.

Feeling secure Edward in 1322 tried to invade Scotland but couldn’t find Robert anywhere. He was obliged to go home, only to find that in 1324 his brother-in-law Charles had become king of France and had claimed he could rule all of Gascony, and invaded Aquitaine to prove it; he left Anjou, Maine etc out of it to concentrate his forces. Although Edward gathered a smallish army together he was only able to arrange embassies and truces and eventually had to rely on his wife Isabella to sort it out. Thus, humiliated he returned to England to brood.

The Downfall

In a fit of petulance Edward blamed his wife Isabella, because she was French and while she was trying to sort out the mess he gave all her property to Hugh The Younger and said Hugh could be as rude to her as he liked. In addition, Edward said Hugh’s wife could look after his children. During this interlude Isabella met Roger Mortimer and found they had two things in common, get rid of both Edward and Hugh The Younger. Firstly, to make the business look genuine they indulged in a romantic affair, then gathered an army together and in 1326 sailed for England. Edward promptly made an impassioned speech to all English to gather about him. As folk were still getting used to being English and didn’t much understand each other’s accent, only 55 men turned up and they probably had been expecting to dig ditches and set up hedges. Edward had expected the Dispensers to protect him, but as they were only good at grasping failed dismally. Hugh the Younger being captured and horribly executed (or entertainingly if you didn’t like him), while his father in view of his advanced age was simply hung.

Edward was also captured but since this was not in a battle where anything could happen he could not be killed, as yet. Eventually everyone had to go and ask a Bishop what to do, naturally being of The Church he said that Edward (II,stillish) had been guilty of  ‘unnatural appetites’ and so not a strong king. In consequence, he should stay out of the way in a large house. In the meantime, while his son Edward (The III-in-waiting) was growing up Isabella and Roger Mortimer could sort of take executive decisions. During this period, several nobles used to visit Edward and say what a good, noble and generous thing it would be if he was to stop saying he was king. While Edward was pondering over this several traditionalists who disliked the idea of a woman being involved in government tried to rescue him. It was therefore decided there could be no more Edward II or otherwise.

The Fate of Edward (II)

The salacious and thus preferred version was that in 1237 he was murdered in a horrifying way, which is best not discussed here. This seems most unlikely as horribly killing a king was, as stated earlier, only permissible on a battlefield. This author after many minutes of research favours the idea that not knowing what to do with him Isabella and Mortimer allowed him to traditionally flee the country on the understanding he would pretend he was someone else, while they buried some hapless peasant in his place, claiming Edward had died of remorse because he had finally realised he had been a useless king.

It is therefore nearly, almost certain Edward either hid as a hermit in the Holy Roman Empire which was very big and thus accommodating, or feeling nostalgic for earlier times said he was Welsh and lived in Antwerp which was a very busy city and also easy to hide in. Either solution allowed him to live out his days in a romantic fashion with the option for being decently and enigmatically memorable.

Conclusion

Not suited for kingship but a source of endless literature factual, fictional or dreadful. However, as he was not that good as being a king, he enabled the growth of Parliament and for Robert (or Bruce) to be so incredibly famous that he is even liked in England.  

 

The next chapter will consider the role and station of women during this era. What was expected of them; what they actually did and what men thought about it all

 

The Era of a Pushy King (and some more laws)

A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 3 .The Era of a Pushy King (and some more laws)

Holidays over and once more to return to the gladsome but challenging task of writing a True history of these sceptic isles set in a large piece of water with bits of plastic in it…….

As we know Edward I was not really the first Edward to be king of England, but apparently that didn’t matter. As he was possessed of a ferocious countenance and being so tall he was known (behind his back) as Edward Longsocks no one felt inclined to argue with him. He was expected to be memorable though. He did not let anyone down.

Born on 17th June 1239 he was quite grown up during another of those eras of revolting barons and had been obliged to rescue his father at least once. After his coronation on 19th August 1274 he examined the royal records and found his suspicions confirmed in that his father had been a pious twit. He resolved to put some dignity and authority back into the Throne (and probably some new cushions).

Welsh Assistance

If there was one thing which upset the folk of South Wales it was having a prince from North Wales claiming he was prince of all The Welsh. Llewelyn ap Gruffyd had been very good at this, until, as was the custom of those days his brothers rebelled against him. Llewelyn retaliated in the winter of 1274 by saying it was Edward’s fault and refused to give him the customary sausage expected by the King of England. Seizing the opportunity Edwards astutely invaded in the winter of 1276 through South Wales thus doubling the size of his army. As mid-Wales is a place where anyone can get lost Llewelyn thought he might have got away with it, but Edward’s army finally found North Wales the next year. In November 1274 Llewelyn was left with just the North West of Wales, but was still allowed to say he was Prince of Wales, not that anyone in South Wales paid any attention. Thus, was Edward seen as a strong king.

By 1282 Llewelyn discovered that outside of Gwynedd no one was paying attention to him and even in that realm some troublesome folk were claiming he couldn’t tell them what to do because English laws were the proper ones. At this he understandably rebelled, aided by his previously disloyal brother Dafydd who had found out his rewards for siding with Edward in 1276 were pretty feeble. In those days, this sort of action was acceptable and quite chivalrous. The Welsh did quite well until Llewelyn was treacherously pushed off a bridge and Dafydd predictably had his head chopped off.  Although there were subsequent, heroic but small rebellions by 1292 Wales had been sort of subjugated. Edward was seen as a very strong king and in 1301 had his son crowned Prince of Wales; he had achieved this by having his pregnant wife Eleanor placed in Caernarfon Castle in 1284 and not allowed to come out until their son (Edward) had been born, despite this she survived, until 1290

Diplomacy and Wars

Initially Edward tried to be diplomatic and stop bits of France fighting other bits of France, claiming that he knew where Anjou, Aquitaine, Brittany, Normandy, Maine etc should be. In this effort, he was thwarted by the sudden intervention of some very arrogant Spaniards who invaded Anjou in support of some Sicilians who had courageously massacred French men women and children for the outrageous act of living in Sicily. Although Edward had shown the correct respect to the French King Philip by offering him the obligatory fromage he decided it would now be simpler if he tried to declare war and invaded Anjou, Aquitaine, Normandy, Maine etc. To do this he asked some German princes if they would care to join in, but they didn’t turn up, no doubt due to Holy Roman Emperors and some other German princes. Edward by now had lost interest because he had to go back and deal with the Scots.

Scotland (Of Kings and Councils)

All had been quite reasonable thanks King Alasdair mac Alasdair putting up with the English calling him Alexander III because they couldn’t keep track of the right title. Then in 1284 his son Alasdair (Just a Prince) at the age of 20 carelessly died leaving his widowed father hairless. Finding a wig was not an issue but obviously Alasdair (The Elder) needed sons. He married quite quickly and then in a hurry to get the son business started rode off on a dark and stormy  night to meet with his wife and obviously not concentrating rode over a cliff in 1286. The Scottish nobility then insisted his young and frail 7 year old Norwegian granddaughter brought over to rule, not surprisingly the poor child died on the way in 1290.

Because the Scottish William I (The Lion- not Conqueror-see Vol. 1) had been thoroughly dissolute in his relationships with women and the scots nobility were very good at family trees fourteen claimants turned up and there was much long and loud discussion. The matters thus became titled the Great Hoarse. Thanks to efforts of the vegetarians of the realm the number of claimants was narrowed down, they, having removed a Dutch duke with the discouraging name of Florence, someone who was very confusing because everyone in his family was called Humphrey and Eric II of Norway who was scandalously raiding Denmark with a bunch of outlaws. This left John Bayli-Oil who claimed to be related to King David I who had been very saintly and invented government in Scotland. Also, John wanted a college named after him. In competition was a powerful noble who had changed his name from Bruce to Robert; his claim was based Gaelic Frantic law which said not only must a claimant be a man related to a suitably dead king, have four fingers and a thumb of each hand and be of sound mind; this latter qualification obviously removed many claimants. This situation was temporarily made impassable as 50 scots nobles said they wanted a king with four fingers and a thumb on each handd and 50 scots nobles saying they thought a king with a college named after him was a splendid idea. Edward (The I) turned up with 16 scots nobles who hadn’t been initially invited and said John was a grand name for a king while ignoring any comments about his own grandfather. Thus, Scotland had a Johnish king.

John was not a great success as he didn’t have a coat, and gave into Edward’s demands that he pay The King of England his due in porridge. He also found out that in the small print Edward could demand that scots soldiers fight in any part of France he told them too. Feeling insulted many scots nobles told John he wasn’t king but he could flee to France because the French were better than the English. They then advanced on Carlisle and massacred people on the way. Edward gathered an army and in 1296 took back Carlisle, advanced on Berwick, took it bloodily, then did something similar at Dunbar. Due to errors in translation and transcription, he had been led to believe the Scots excelled at high teas, but found out they only had a large stone which in a fit of pique he took back to London and sat on.

At this stage, the Scots wisely opted to record all events in the form of ballads and laments in which they were heroic and the English treacherous. This gave them the moral high ground. Edward didn’t care however, as he said he ruled everywhere on the isles; this claim may have been disputed but those who challenged it were too remote to do much about the circumstance.

Civic Administration, the Continued Growth of The Common Persons and The Law.

What was starting to unsettle the barons and other nobles was the sight lots of the common people becoming wealthy by trade, craft, farming, fishing and crime. The latter was particularly infuriating to the barons as that had normally been their preserve. This re-distribution of wealth also encouraged Edward to listen to the Common People who were starting to complain that those officials appointed by the local nobility such as sheriffs and toreadors were failing even in the most simple of tasks. Edward proved this by citing evidence of at least Hundred Moles being loose in the land.  Rather than massacre the nobility Edward built statues in Westminster in 1275 and 1285 and with the aid of a devoted Italian official Warranto passed a law which stated no one could do what they used to do unless they could prove the king had said they could, and if they couldn’t then only the king could do whatever it was on that person’s property. If a noble still wouldn’t obey the law then Edward with the aid of a classically trained official Emptores would pull their hair until they relented.

It was during this heroically legalistic era that Edward discovered there were more people sitting on judge’s benches than there used to be. To ensure only genuine judges were sitting there he had each conjugate the phrase De Donis Conditionailbus in various tenses, those who failed were made to consume the royal purgative and have their hair pulled.

Finances

Even in those days Banking was said to be sin. But, due to institutionalised stupidity and hypocrisy the Jewish People were forced to operate it. As it will have been seen in the previous chapter everyone liked to blame The Jews for everything even if the Jews had not been involved. Edward wishing to stop the people from complaining about how much silver he was putting into coins, made all the Jews leave England but kept their property, thus demonstrating great piety and a complete absence of knowledge of the New Testament. This was an ill-conceived policy for those times as now the common people had no one to blame but themselves when they did something wrong, which of course they would not admit to.

Edward wanted to fight the French once again for Normandy, Anjou, Aquitaine, Maine etc and also the Scots who had found another man who had changed his name from Bruce to Robert. But he needed more money, since Parliament was allowed to ask him why and so take up time he was in a fix until it was discovered by an Italian pope that banking was not a sin if conducted by Italians as Italy was not a nation but a collection of cities all of which were in quite a state. In this way Edward was able to borrow large amounts of money and solve the Unconventional Crisis of 1294- 1297 during which Parliament had said he could not have near as much money as he wanted. Unfortunately, later on the Italian banks also said he couldn’t have as much as he wanted, so he told The Church in England he would borrow from them as they couldn’t charge interest. The Pope said he couldn’t do that as the Church in England only answered to God and sent a large Vatican official known as Papal Bill to enforce this ruling. Edward countered by claiming that if the English clergy wouldn’t pay money to an English king then he could make them English outlaws, but they could still answer to God if they wanted to. In the meantime, he would refuse to not know anyone called Bill if they spoke with an Italian accent. The impasse was solved when another Vatican official who was also named Bill but to avoid confusion went by the singular name of Elsie reached a compromise which ruled that Edward could ask for some money when he really needed it, in this case to fight The French; which at the time suited The Vatican just fine. However, some self-important parliamentarian Roger Bigfoot remonstrated so loudly he had to be promised by Edward that he, Edward, would fight the Scots as soon as he had fought the French.

The Final Wars

Because there were more French than Edward had expected that did not go well and under the terms of a new clause of Magna Carta Edward returned to fight the Scots; who were led by Bruce (who had changed his name from Robert to confuse the English) and Loyal Wallace. Edward angry with popes, parliaments and his son who insisted on building cottages and hedges, took it out on the Scots, brutally defeated them, hung several in cages and ensured Scottish bards and chroniclers even more steady employment. Edward was not totally successful as Bruce disguised as Robert escaped, raised another army and defeated the English when Edward was not looking. Edward marched back north, in such a hurry he did not think to wash his hands, took ill and died in bag of sand of the 7th July 1307.

Conclusion 

Although Edward had marched over much of the isles, defeating Scots and Welsh armies, he failed to completely conquer either nation, thus storing up problems for future kings of England. He also forgot to go to Ireland which enabled various Irish lords and those Norman lords who had become so confused they thought they were Irish to defeat those lords who thought themselves English (or Norman) until eventually the king’s representative in Ireland was an obscure character named Norminal. Whereas Edward still had bits of Anjou, Aquitaine, Normandy, Maine etc he had failed to stop other parts becoming French. In addition, he had been obliged to listen to various popes. Thus, although a fierce legalistic warrior king Edward must be considered to have been merely significant and not truly great (see Volume I: Alfred, Athel Stain, & William)

 

In the next chapter Edward II shall be discussed or dismembered depending whether you are a student of history or a contemporaneous noble.

 

A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 2 – Henry III (Part B. – Piety, Parliaments, Cross Barons and Rebellions)

A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 2 – Henry III (Part B. – Piety, Parliaments, Cross Barons and Rebellions)

It is unfortunate that although Henry III was not  magnificent, colourful, much of a warrior or generally bossy king he did reign by himself from 1227 to 1272, during a most busy and turbulent time, so it is necessary to make much of those years

As it will have been recalled in the previous chapter Henry’s minority had been one of  turbulence what with French and Scots nobility marching all over the place and the Welsh Prince Llewelyn being more important than Henry; things had got so bad that his mother had tried to rule for him, although she was a spirited and brave Isabella at the time only Mathildas and Eleanors were allowed to rule England (see Vol I) so she went and married a Hugh who was also an X. However, thanks to the efforts of the Papacy William (a loyal and noble marshal) and Hubert (just a clerk) Henry was able to reach his majority.

At once Henry was faced by several challenges, as follows

France (of course)

During his father’s reign, lots of land had been lost to the French King; the French nobility disputed this pointing out it was their and why didn’t the English stay where they were as there were lots of Scots, Welsh and Irish to conquer. However, under the terms of the Magna Carta, to get back everyone’s lands in France it was a requirement that an English King should make war on French king at least once in his reign, so since there was only a little Louis (IX) and 1230 was neatly configured year Henry led an English army to France. Because his education of the geography of France was poor he marched south instead of north, also Louis was practicing to be a reformer and even worse, a saint which meant Henry was also moral disadvantage. Luckily for him his advisors arranged a truce, so the war didn’t count. He went home.

Revolting Barons (What else)- The First Lot.

Some barons felt that Hubert was acting far beyond the authority of was what expected of a just a clerk and forced him into a chapel, then without asking Henry stole lands belonging to other barons, some of whom allied themselves with Llewelyn (of Wales of course) and fought the first lot of barons. Henry became so confused he thought the war might be something to do with France; he was thus obliged to ask an Archbishop to sort things out. A compromise was reached where all the barons said they would stop fighting if Henry accepted that it was all his fault. He did this and was praised for his gullibility, which was later altered by some sycophantic commentators to ‘humility’

Henry Does Something About It

What with the barons and the French Henry resolved to make himself appear more kingish, he used several stratagems

Kingliness – Henry resolved that whatever he did he should do it with dignity, ceremony, the backing of the Church and some of the more cultured barons, thus even if he actually didn’t make a decision people thought he had and in such a noteworthy way.

Piety and Piousnessability – Because Henry had been crowned twice by The Church which had also excommunicated Louis (Prince, VIII, etc), Henry became very pious. In those days this did not mean being kindly and reserved; a king’s piety was judged by how much money and land he gave to the Church, how many masses he attended and if he persecuted folk who worshipped the wrong way. And just to make sure Henry also went about saying how good Edward The Confessor had been, even if he had been just an Anglo-Saxon.

Marriage– Henry wisely married an Eleanor in 1236, which under historical precedence (see Vol I ref: ‘Eleanor of Aquitaine’) meant she could rule when he was away fighting French or Scots kings. As she did a better job than Henry this unsettled some barons who encouraged very common Londoners to throw cabbages at her; she countered by demanding ‘Queens Gold’ which entitled her to pass laws without telling Londoners and then fine them for breaking the laws for as much as she liked and when. Because Henry was devoted to her, no one argued, not because of him, but because Pope’s might excommunicate you if you did. They were so devoted they had many children. As Henry was pious there were no ‘natural children’; this avoided pretenders.

Jews– Due to a universal hopelessly incorrect reading of the Bible and financial hypocrisy amongst the nobility, the Jewish people were not liked. This was known as Anti-Semitism, or under its more correct term Idiocy. Like dysentery it was common Christian kingdoms but was not caused by not washing hands, but bypassing edicts or laws. As legally Henry owned all the Jews in England, he typically was not sure what to do but felt he should do something so he passed a law, which no one understood, but seemed to satisfy the Pope who was supposed to understand the Bible

Henry as King of England and Other Parts

Ireland– There had been an outbreak of death amongst the nobility who had been there for some time, probably caused by other nobles. On advice from his court Henry gave the land to supporters of his, who decided they didn’t want it and gave it back. In this way Henry found himself owning most of Ireland and he gave it to his son on condition that he wouldn’t give it back. No one consulted the Irish, this was not a good idea.

Scotland– At that time the scots didn’t see much point in invading England since they had enough fighting of their own to go around particularly as they had managed to go to war over The Isle lands (as opposed to the Highlands) with Norway which had stopped being Vikings. Henry sent daughters north to marry Scotsmen, and the king Alexander III said whereas he would be son-in-law of Henry, he would pretend not to recognise Henry if Henry dressed up as a king, which Henry pretended he had not heard.

Wales– Because Llewelyn had died in 1420 and his son Dafyd died in 1426 without recognisable sons another Llewelyn from the same family took over, he continued for some time to make Henry wish there was some way he could pretend he didn’t know Wales was there. He was spared further embarrassment when Llewelyn and his brother decided to have their own war.

Henry and International Affairs

Henry was very surprised in 1241 when he found out he had relatives in France who were rebelling against saintly Louis, so hoping the Pope was still on his side, Henry rapidly took a year to invade and didn’t do very well as he’d forgotten which French were for Louis and which ones weren’t. This was such a muddle that the most well known of all the Simon de Montforts being both English and French and having been on a crusade felt so exasperated that he authorised himself to suggest Henry should be re-named Charles, imprisoned and made to wear a wimple, as had happened in 910, luckily for Henry de Montfort went back to crusading. Henry meanwhile on his way back home met Louis and found out they could be friends which enabled their wives, ie Eleanor and her sister Margaret to broker a deal between the two nations.

Back home Henry attempted to be diplomatic and to be friends with the Holy Roman Emperor, buy Sicily for his son Edmund and go on crusade. None of these worked. He had to reluctantly go back to domestic affairs.

Henry and the Economy

Because parliaments were becoming popular and insisting that Henry explain why he wanted money, Henry attempted to try and reform the economy by making the silver coins longer than they used to be and claim that people’s money could go further, he was helped in this by his brother Richard. Once this was completed he then accumulated gold and spent it on Richard becoming King of The German in 1256, which was different from being Holy Roman Emperor, even though it was on the same land. Thus, Henry avoided any barons getting their hands on his gold.   He therefore established a tradition which is now known as Market Trading.

Barons, Revolts and Parliaments

Because Henry had cluttered up his court with French relatives and Simon de Montfort had come back from crusading there was much discontent gathering amongst barons and parliaments. This became more tense in 1258 when de Montfort decided to organise parliament so that the king couldn’t influence it, By June 1258 the barons and parliament had become so powerful they told the king he could only buy his provisions in Oxford. This caused more turmoil amongst competing factions so that by 1259 Henry’s son Edward and some barons said he could only shop in Westminster. Naturally this led to another revolt which would become the Second Baron’s War, though everyone had to wait until 1263 for Simon de Montfort to return to England so they all knew which side they were on. This started quite well for de Montfort and Henry ended up either hiding in the Tower of London or being captured but thanks to the efforts of his son ie Edward and some other barons in 1264 at Evesham de Montfort was slain and slaughtered and Henry was found.          

Aftermath

To spare Henry any more problems several bishops and barons gathered in 1266 to sort things out, this resulted in a rather bad-tempered document known as the Tantrum of Kenilworth.  This said quite plainly that the king could get his provisions wherever he wanted to and appoint who he wanted to and that all the rebels (who had survived) had to pay large fines and get their provisions where the king wanted them to. Also, Parliament should only advise and agree to any taxes the king asked for. As additional penalty on barons, common people were allowed to go back into the forests. All the king had to do was read Magna Carta occasionally. Thus, did peace and stability return to the realm.

The Final Years

Now that he was in his declining years Henry finally had time to go on a crusade and started out in 1270, but half way there reflected that his queen would make such a splendid dowager queen and his son a good king that he both chivalrously and piously died in 1272. His wife, Eleanor hoping he would become a saint dug him up to display the length of his beard, but this did not convince the Church and everyone had to wait until the 1950s before historians thought about writing books about him.

In the following chapter, we shall consider how these Isles had to cope with Edward I

A True History of The Isles (the ones off the west coast of France, that is) Volume 2 (or Vol. II)

A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 1 – Henry III (Part A. – The Major Minority)

A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 1 – Henry III (Part A. – The Major Minority)

As it will have been recalled in the previous volume during the 18th to the 19th October 1216 King John had died of peaches, cider, not washing his hands, Barons and taxation. But before and after that some pretty important events took place. (Dying of peaches, cider and not washing your hands would not have been pretty at all)

War with the Barons and French Nobility

John got into a war with many Barons who were angered by his tyrannical decisions to make them liable to tax. The Barons tried to gain the moral ascendancy by trying to claim this was The First Barons’ War; a casual view of English history will prove this was simply the First revolt to be given a title. To help them in their cause rather than hire lawyers and accountants they took the singular step of asking Louis, the son of King Philip (The Two and very astute) to be King of England. He and the Barons pretended that because he was grandson-in-law of Henry (The Two and very colourful) of England this was important.

Because John was generally useless at war Louis and the Barons initially did quite well seizing most of Kent (but not Dover) and also finding London. Here, he, Louis, was acclaimed but not crowned, because John still had the said crown. When John died William Marshal Earl of Pembroke having loyally and nobly served kings since Henry (The Two) rescued both by loyal and noble means John’s son Henry (who was but nine years old).  Even though it was done on the wrong day and in the wrong place Good William had Henry crowned King of England with help of a papal widget, which saved vital time spent trying to find a bishop. As the crown, obviously wouldn’t fit on a nine year old, they used a necklace. So impressed by this act were some of the barons that they recognised Henry (now a Three) even though they’d never met him, so were advised to look out for the little kid wearing a necklace.

As the papacy had been involved in the crowning (see: widget), it was only correct and proper that Louis was excommunicated, which meant priests, bishops etc could ignore or be rude to him without fear of retribution.  These, then became desperate times for Louis. Some Barons were in a sulk because Louis had naturally started to bring in other Frenchmen and not listening to the said Barons (sulking), so they naturally changed sides and his father (that’s Philip) was making fun of him for not subduing a constable who defended Dover. Thus, Louis sent one of his barons somewhere to find the supporters of Henry (The 3 x I) and bring them to battle. Marshal being a noble knight was only to courteous to oblige. This took place at Lincoln in May 1217, but was so poorly organised that neither side could agree on the date, and in the ensuing chaos one important commanding noble on Louis’ side was killed by a not quite as important noble on William Marshal’s side (being nine and not able to wear the crown; the king wasn’t allowed to take part). As was the convention of the day once an important commanding noble was killed, his side gave up and after an obligatory massacre or pardoning of the common soldiers the whole thing was over. By now Louis was in even more desperate circumstances and on learning that a vital supply of sandwiches had been captured by the forces of William (The Marshal) gave up and went back to France, just in time for his father to die, so that Louis could become The VIII, be horrid to the people of the South of France; and subsequently die in 1226 through not washing his hands.

At this juncture many of the nobility and subsequently their knights, lords, common folk etc realised they had nearly been taken over by France and as a resulted decided they should now all be English. This was greeted with much joy and acclimation. The Scots, Welsh and Irish also approved as it gave the Celtic nations someone to blame other than themselves for their mistakes, short-comings and especially in-fighting as one side could now be blamed as traitors, hirlings, rogues, etc.

The Years Of Henry’s Minority (without The French)

With the French, out of the way it became essential that royal authority should be resorted. Marshal (and a council) faced several problems.

Barons (naturally)

Some Barons who saying they had been loyal now felt they could do as they pleased, whereas those Barons who had not been loyal and were still alive, thought they could also do as they pleased because the loyal Barons were doing that, so who was going to stop Barons in general doing as they pleased? Anyway, they all would go scuttling off for their copies of Magna Carta if anyone complained too much.

Law and Order     

The judges were complaining about The Bench and after consulting with The Exchequer enough money was found to make a new one, this was of course The King’s Bench but judges could sit on it for him.

Forests and Rights

Under William (The Conquer of course) and subsequent kings any common people found in forests without the king’s permission would have bits of their bodies removed. Because of the rise of the Common People and the uncertainty of the Crown (which still wasn’t fitting Henry’s head), in 1217 a special Forest Law was enacted which allowed free men to pick up wood, grass, bits of soil, dig holes and make ponds in forests although anyone hunting anything could be fined or imprisoned, unless they could prove they were a king (or a noble with a charter to do such things). Even more controversially Common People could even say what was a forest or not and whether the law applied there or not; as a result, there was much rejoicing by lawyers who once more saw no end of gainful employment.  Some nobles who fell into suspiciously obscure holes or ponds wanted that part rescinded, but the judges who were now seated comfortably on the Bench thought otherwise.

The Welsh

Difficulties

There had always been problems with the Welsh. They did not invade quite so much as the Scots so it was always a surprise and when they did it was only to seize Chester or Shrewsbury or make some careless Marcher lord look ridiculous. Then there was the geography, although only a very small country the Welsh had contrived to huddle up in the north or the south; the latter entering into alliances with English kings whenever it suited them and former being more inclined to seize Chester etc whenever it suited them. This was very confusing for an English king as he never knew who was who and anyway, unlike Scotland which was conveniently in the north, Wales is side on so you never knew where they’d come incursioning or seizing from.

Llewelyn -Impressive

Providentially for those looking after the kingdom for young Henry (and his necklace) at this stage had arisen one Llewelyn ap Iorwerth of the powerful family which ruled the northern kingdom of Gwenydd. For a while he was on good terms with John (The Bad King) and married Joan who was naturally John’s daughter. With this sorted out Llewelyn then proceeded to conquer all the bits of Wales which didn’t see things his way, even in the South. This entitled him to added on ‘The Great’ to his name or to be correct in welsh Fawr. He fell out with John but because of Barons and Frenchmen, John couldn’t do much about it. During post-John, Marshal and some less treacherous fellow nobles entered into an alliance and treaty with Llewelyn. This allowed Llewelyn to keep whatever bits of England he had, do as he fancied in Wales and fight any English nobles on his border (the latter clause was mischievously put in by the council as pay-back for the Barons not obeying the council).

This left Llewelyn looking more impressive than Henry III who was still too young and stuck with a necklace. Sadly for Llewelyn who was watching eastwards (England)  this would all end when some English (cleverly if you were English; treacherously if you were Welsh) invaded across the Irish Sea (from the West) with a lot of Irish Mercenaries.

Scotland  

Annoyed that the English kept calling him Alexander and a ‘II’ at that and not correctly ,Alaxandair mac Uilliam; he son of William (The Lion- as opposed to the Lionheart) claimed he wanted some thiefes back who were in England and marched all the way to Dover to tell Louis (The French) he would make a better king that John. When things didn’t work out he marched back and finding out some of his scots clans were naturally, revolting embarked on the far easier task of fighting and massacring them, so England didn’t have much of a problem with him.

Ireland

Henry II and waves of Anglo, Cambro and High-bernian Normans had rushed into Ireland and  the Irish had been obliged to accept the King of England as their Lord. Because the Kings of England as well as Anglo, Cambro and Hi-bernian Normans couldn’t agree on anything they all slaughtered or deposed each other, until there were only Irish Lords and a few Cambro-Normans (who knew the rules) left. As the Normans on the mainland were busy converting to being English, the Irish Lord were able to take over, but instead claiming to be High Kings they hired themselves and their retinues to any English who were fighting each other, the Scots, Welsh or the French. This would prove to be a bit of a mistake.

The Usual Business

After William Marshal died in 1219 of age and being loyally noble (or nobly loyal- the medical records are not complete), the rest of the council settled down to accusing each other of treason, etc. Fortunately, in 1220 when it was found the crown would fit on Henry’s head The Pope arranged for him to him to have a proper coronation. The Pope then said it was just and right for Henry to be The III and it was a sin not to pay taxes to him AND give him castles.

The End of the Minority  

By 1223 and being a typical surly teenage, Henry took back the bits of England which Llewellyn had and then went around besieging English Barons who had been excommunicated by the Pope on the grounds of not paying their taxes and insisting on keeping their castles. In this he was aided by a loyal noble, Hubert who was famed for modestly accepting the job of being ‘just a clerk’.

With papal backing Henry was also allowed to massacre those who wouldn’t obey him as they were obviously heretics. Some evaded this by hiding in forests and pretending to be common, a few didn’t have to try very hard.

By the time Henry (III) was 16, truly fitted into a crown, he had begun to develop a reputation as being pious on the grounds of killing excommunicants, enabling everyone to be relieved he would not take after his father. Thus, he began to reign in his own shed.

In the next chapter, we shall look at the Reign of Henry III as an adult and what everyone thought about it.

A True History of The Isles (the ones off the west coast of France, that is) Volume 2 (or Vol. II)

 

A True History of The Isles (the ones off the west coast of France, that is) Volume 2 (or Vol. II)

Commentary

Whereas the 2016 vote by the citizenry of the UK to leave the European Union was a pretty spectacular bit of business, it almost pales (sic) into the mediocre when compared with the potential Hoo-Ahh released by the results of the 2017 General Election. Thus, we now have a political party sort of in power, embarking upon a series of complicated negotiations invoking the old political spirit Arthur Mandate is better than none, while not so much in the wings, but idling Stage Left biding his time is the ever constant character on the political scene Mr Hugh Bris.

It was a year ago in the aftermath of the aforementioned referendum that I embarked on my epic intent to write up a true history of these Isles 51vnj7ZqupL__SY346_(shameless plug) in order that we may all gain a better understanding as to how we managed to get in such a singular circumstance. I was quite surprised by the positive reaction, and encouraged by the indication that in the next five years the kindle sales might go into double figures have strode forth upon Vol 2 (or Vol II if you prefer)

So let us, away-

trilby

Introduction & Preface

Whereas it is quite in order that most histories should consider who was who and why; this author considered it quite unnecessary to dwell too much on the business, but to simply supply the reader with the bare facts and let them reach their own conclusions. This premise is possibly the most valid of any as people being people tend to keep changing their minds (or other people’s minds) as to who did what, why, when and just how important whoever it was’ part in it was anyway. Then there are those who wouldn’t know reality if it was wrapped in brick and dropped on their heads but they shouldn’t be reading this or the previous volume in any case. For this is a true and unbiased account of the history of these isles, which strips away all of the romance, preferential treatment, and has no truck with notions of which innocent nations or semi-nations have been hard-done by other nations for apart from aboriginal peoples in remote parts of the world basically; there an’t no such creature.

In the previous volume lay the foundations of how these isles came to be populated, by what types of folk, what they did, or didn’t do; what they should have done, and who had their names recorded and why. Thus, the reader will, by now, have a fairly reasonable idea of the states of the various peoples and nations at the time of the death of King John (currently The Only).

This volume will chart the progress from the aftermath of the death of King John (The Bad by popular consensus) up until the death of Henry the VII who having disposed of Richard The III (maybe not as bad as some folk would have) invented Tudors.

During this era (19th October 1216 to 21st April 1509), many important innovations and inventions took place, many of which have lasted until modern days. Some will be considered in depth, others for the sake of brevity barely mentioned, while some will be mostly ignored by the author who considers them detrimental to the academic flow of the book, and, thus, following the fine tradition of adding an element of controversy to an historical work.

Overall this is the era when English kings decided that the whole demeanour of the isles would be a lot neater if they finally convinced the royalty of Scotland, Ireland and Wales that the King (or if necessary Queen) of England should be the most important king (or worst-case scenario, queen) of the lot. This would enable the King (or if there was no alternative… Queen) of England to concentrate on the very important task of having wars with France otherwise France might become so important as to boss everyone else on the mainland of Europe, which was of course quite unacceptable; this was balanced by the view that the French had the same opinion about English.

In general, these twin policies would be the yardstick by which English kings (and when weedy princes died, queens) were judged by the nobility of England. Irish, Scots and Welsh royalty would counter this by dying heroically, being betrayed (heroically), rebelling and hiding (heroically) or proving they were legally English and should rule anyway.

This era also saw (if the king or queen was careless) the rise of parliaments, councils and the continued insistence of The Church that it was just as important as a king (or whether the church authorities liked it or not – queen). This gave rise an increase in literacy so that nobles could check if there was something sneaky The Church or the king (or-sigh- queen) was up too, or even better if there was something they, the noble(s) could take advantage of.

It was during this era that there was more attention having to be given to The Common People, some of whom had also started to read and so ask awkward questions of The Church; this did so amuse the nobility and royalty until The Common People tried the same thing with them. Matters were to become so turbulent that The Common People started to be bothersome about having rights and despite the best or worse efforts of the ruling classes actually obtained some. The first being during the upsetting times of the Plantagenets (or Angevin if you feel that way) whose colourfulness filtered down to the extent that by the end of the 12th Century the barons found they had lost all their serfs and were stuck with a lot of common people instead.

This era, is therefore possibly one of the most interesting as it is source of much of Shakespeare’s work, gave Cromwell a bit of a surprise when he found a copy of the Magna Carta and gave rise to the Celtic tradition of turning their mistakes into romantic legends and laments.

In conclusion, whereas these volumes are reasonably authoritative works on the history of these Isles the reader is strongly advised to read 1066 and All That by Sellar and Yeatman this being the definitive work on the subject up to the end of the 19th Century.

Thus over the course of the next few weeks the essays will commence and naturally continue.

The first one being a consideration of the state of the Isles during the period after King John (The boo-hiss king) died and it looked as if England might be confirmed as being another bit of France.

A Guide To The Results of an Election

Marketing Day- A True History of The Isles is a Book!!

A True History of the Isles Part 25 -The Era of The King John (Bad or a Bad Press?)

 

 

A True History of the Isles Part 25 -The Era of The King John (Bad or a Bad Press?)