Holinshed Handout for Edward II

ENGL 514

Dr. Fike


The following passages come from Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, volume 2 (New York: AMS Press, 1965); some spelling is modernized to enhance readability:

Page 539:  "In the three and thirtieth yeare of his reigne, king Edward put his sonne prince Edward in prison, because that he had riotously broken the park of Walter Langton bishop of Chester; and because the prince had done this deed by the procurement of a lewd and wanton person, one Peers Gaveston an esquire of Gascoine, the king banished him [from] the realm, lest the prince, who delighted much in his company, might by his evil and wanton counsel fall to evil and naughty rule."

Page 546-47:  "Within three days after [the funeral of Edward I], when the lord treasurer Walter de Langton bishop of Coventry and Lichfield (through whose complaint Piers de Gaveston had been banished the land) was going towards Westminster, to make preparation for the same burial, he was upon commandment from the new king arrested, committed to prison, and after delivered to the hands of the said Piers, being then returned again into the realm, who sent him from castle to castle as a prisoner.  His lands and tenements were seized to the king's use, but his moveables were given to the foresaid Piers."

Page 547:  Regarding the "diverse wanton and light parts" that Gaveston promotes:  "For having revoked again into England his old mate the said Piers de Gaveston, he received him into most high favor, creating him earl of Cornwall, and lord of Man, his principal secretary, and lord chamberlain of the realm, through whose company and society he was suddenly so corrupted, that he burst out into most heinous vices; for then using the said Piers as a procurer of his disordered doings, he began to have his nobles in no regard, to set nothing by their instructions, and to take small heed unto the good government of the commonwealth, so that within a while, he gave himself to wantonness, passing his time in voluptuous pleasure, and riotous excess:  and to help them forward in that kind of life, the foresaid Piers, who (as it may be thought, he had sworn to make the king to forget himself, and the state, to which he was called) furnished his court with companies of jesters, ruffians, flattering parasites, musicians, and other vile and naughty ribalds, that the king might spend both days and nights in jesting, playing, blanketing, and in such other filthy and dishonorable exercises:  and moreover, desirous to advance those that were like to himself, he procured for them honorable offices, all which notable preferments and dignities, since they were ill bestowed, were rather to be accounted dishonorable than otherwise, both to the giver and the receiver...."

Page 587:  "Whereupon when they saw that such practices would not serve their turn, they came suddenly one night into the chamber where he lay in bed fast asleep, and with heavy featherbeds or a table (as some write) being cast upon him, they kept him down and withal put into his fundament an horn, and through the same they thrust up into his body an hot spit, or (as others have) through the pipe of a trumpet, a plumberís instrument of iron made very hot, the which passing up into his entrails, and being rolled to and fro, burnt the same, but so as no appearance of any would or hurt outwardly might be once perceived.  His cry did move many within the castle and town of Berkeley to compassion, plainly hearing him utter a wailful noise, as the tormentors were about to murder him, so that divers being awakened therewith (as they themselves confessed) prayed heartily to God to receive his soul, when they understood by his cry what the matter meant."