Piers Gaveston - Encyclopedia

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PIERS GAVESTON (d. 1312), earl of Cornwall, favourite of the English king Edward II., was the son of a Gascon knight, and was brought up at the court of Edward I. as companion to his son, the future king. Strong, talented and ambitious, Gaveston gained great influence over young Edward, and early in 1307 he was banished from England by the king; but he returned after the death of Edward I. a few months later, and at once became the chief adviser of Edward II. Made earl of Cornwall, he received both lands and money from the king, and added to his wealth and position by marrying Edward's niece, Margaret, daughter of Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester (d. 1295). He was regent of the kingdom during the king's short absence in France in 1308, and took a very prominent part at Edward's coronation in February of this year. These proceedings aroused the anger and jealousy of the barons, and their wrath was diminished neither by Gaveston's superior skill at the tournament, nor by his haughty and arrogant behaviour to themselves. They demanded his banishment; and the king, forced to assent, sent his favourite to Ireland as lieutenant, where he remained for about a year. Returning to England in July 1309, Edward persuaded some of the barons to sanction this proceeding; but as Gaveston was more insolent than ever the old jealousies soon broke out afresh. In 1311 the king was forced to agree to the election of the "ordainers," and the ordinances they drew up provided inter alia for the perpetual banishment of his favourite. Gaveston then retired to Flanders, but returned secretly to England at the end of 1311. Soon he was publicly restored by Edward, and the barons had taken up arms. Deserted by the king he surrendered to Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke (d. 1324), at Scarborough in May 131 2, and was taken to Deddington in Oxfordshire, where he was seized by Guy de Beauchamp, earl of Warwick (d. 1315). Conveyed to Warwick castle he was beheaded on Blacklow Hill near Warwick on the 9th of June 1312. Gaveston, whose body was buried in 1315 at King's Langley, left an only daughter.

See W. Stubbs, Constitutional History, vol. ii. (Oxford, 1896); and Chronicles of the Reigns of Edward I. and Edward II., edited by W. Stubbs. Rolls series (London, 1882-1883).

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