King Edward II
1284 - 1327

Relationship to me: Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Grandfather Gen -22  
 Born: 25 Apr 1284 Caernarfon Castle, Gwynedd
 Died: 21 Sept 1327 (murdered at Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire)
 Age 43  
 Father:      King Edward I 1239 - 1307
 Mother: Eleanor of Castile 1241 - 1290
 Married: Isabella, daughter of Philippe IV King of France c.1292-1358
 Children: King Edward III 1312 - 1377

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According to information passed on to me by Ian Caldwell, in Dec 2001: "Edward II born Carnavon Castle 25/4/1284, son of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile, ruled 8/7/1307-25/1/1327 (abdicated), married Isabella, (c.1292-1358) daughter of Philippe IV King of France, at Boulogne Cathedral on 12/1/1308, 4 children.

Edward was regarded as a weak king because he preferred basket weaving and gardening to soldiery and government. He had a lonely childhood as, although he was the 14th of Edward I 19 children, few of his brothers and sisters survived infancy. Three of his elder sisters were married before he was six, when his mother died, and a forth had entered a nunnery about the time he was born. Only his sister, Elizabeth, was close to him in age, being two years older, and he was sixteen when his half brother, Thomas, was born.

His closest childhood friend was Piers Gaveston, a handsome but affected knight from Gascony. They both were to lead extravagant lifestyles, found enjoyment in disrupting ceremonies and annoying members of the court by giving them rude nick-names. The king suspected they were having a homosexual relationship and several times banned Gaveston from Court but after his father's death Edward II called Gaveston back to court and made him Earl of Cornwall, a title usually reserved for the King's son. Piers married Edward¹s niece, Margaret, and when Edward went to France to collect his bride, Isabella, he made Piers Regent. Piers made all the arrangements for the coronation on 25th February 1308, and tried to outside all others present with his manner of dress and had the highest honour of carrying the king's crown. He caused further upset by his outward display of affection for Edward which upset the young queen. Gaveston also bundles the banquet arrangements which resulted in a poorly cooked and late meal. The barons forced Edward to banish Gaveston again, which he did by making him regent of Ireland in 1308, but within a year later Gaveston was back and continued to irritate the barons with his wit and sarcasm. He often arranged tournaments and, what must have been doubly irritating, he appeared able defeat any knight that rode against him. This was to particularly upset the vicious and haughty Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, one of the most powerful men in England, with vast estates and a huge private army. He led the opposition against the king and in the parliament of 1310 forced the king to agree to a committee of 28 barons, the Lords Ordainers, who effectively then government the country. They forced the king to permanently exile Gaveston, so Edward now made him lord of Man, but Gaveston would not stay away and turned up at the King's Christmas celebrations, as arrogant and obnoxious as ever. A group of barons led by Lancaster arrested Gaveston and executed him in June 1312 saying he was an enemy of the state.

Some believed that this execution had been unlawful and opposed what had been done, in particular Hugh Dispenser, a supporter of the King and friend of Gaveston¹s and as a result both he and his son, (Hugh the younger), rose in the King's favour.

Up in Scotland Robert the Bruce was reclaiming and re-building Scotland after the devastations of Edward I, and by 1313 the only castle remaining in English hands was Stirling, which was under siege, held by Sir Philip Mowbray, who told the king that unless he received reinforcements by 24th June 1314 he would surrender the castle to the Scots. On 23rd June Edward arrived with a large army, outnumbering the Scots by 2 to 1, but the Scots had had months to prepare for this battle and chose the site of Bannock Burn where they had dug pits and prepared traps, flinging the large English army into chaos. Edward fled the field.

Internally his own barons were divided between Lancaster and the royalist le Despencer camps. The Scots now freely plundered in the north, and the situation was made worse by a famine in England. Instead of trying to heal the divisions between the factions Edward acted unwisely, showering his favourites, the Despencers with wealth and making the younger Despencer lord of Glamorgan, upsetting Roger Mortimer, the most prominent of the marcher lords. This resulted in a confrontation in 1321 between Edward and Lancaster, supported by the Welsh marcher lords. Edward had to back down and he temporarily exiled the Despencers. However Edward remained on good terms with the Welsh, who hated Mortimer more than Despencer, and, in 1322 Edward led an army against Roger Mortimer whom he captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Edward then marched on Thomas of Lancaster whom he defeated, captured and the beheaded. Inspired by his success he continued his march into Scotland but here he met stiffer resistance and was forced to retreat, losing his baggage and plunder on route to the pursuing Scottish army. He agreed a truce with Scotland in May 1323.

The king and queen grew more distant to each other and Isabella began to cultivate a relationship with Roger Mortimer, the prisoner in the Tower. The Despencers were brought back in to favour and were contriving with Edward to have Isabella deprived of her estates. Relations with France were not good and when the queen requested that she visit France to aid negotiations Edward naively agreed. Almost as soon as she was back in France she was joined by Mortimer who now openly lived with her as her lover. When Isabella¹s young son, Edward, arrived in France to pay homage for the lands of Ponthieu and Aquitaine, of which he had been made respectively Count and Duke in September 1325, his mother refused to allow him to return to England. She and Roger now raised and army and sailed for England, landing at Harwich on 24/9/1326. Instead of putting up a fight Edward retreated to his stronghold in Wales. Over the next two months his supporters were captured and executed, including the Despencers, and the king himself was captured and held in captivity in Kenilworth Castle. Isabella now called a parliament on 20th January 1327 to request that the king be deposed, but parliament refused to do so without the consent of the king himself. When he was threatened with his own son losing his inheritance Edward gave in and agreed to abdicate on 25th January. He was then transported to Berkeley Castle where, following an attempted rescue, they decided to have him killed. After attempts to starve him to death failed he was held down and a red hot poker was inserted into his bowels, a frightful death".