Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick (c. 1272 – 12 August 1315).

Hello, dear reader and thank you for popping in – appreciated.

In Chapter Thirty of “The King’s Jew” we meet Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick.

Here’s a brief extract before I apprise you of the worth and high esteem Guy was held in medieval England.

Friday, October 27th 1307.

Westminster Palace.

Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, one of the most powerful barons in the land, was consumed by doubt as he strode towards the North entrance of the abbey accompanied by an armed guard of seven battle-hardened soldiers. Two torch-bearers led the way slowly through the ancient graveyard and their flames guttered and spluttered in the gusting wind buffeting around the tall buttresses surrounding the abbey walls. Guy had been charged with a task to which he was strongly opposed. A mission that offended his sensibilities. One that was against all he believed was right, an undertaking he knew would bring only shame and derision on this new King he served. Edward Secundus was a petulant man who acted purely on instinct without giving a thought to the long term consequences of his small-minded actions.

Guy de Beauchamp had been ordered to apprehend Sir Cristian Gilleson and bring him to the Palace of Westminster. He had argued vehemently against such an undertaking but a King is a King for all that and the King had Gaveston by his side. Gaveston the manipulator, the puppet master who pulled a string and the King jumped. The Earl shook his head as he remembered the meeting in the King’s chamber at Westminster Palace not a half hour ago.

“I want that Jew lover dead. For too long he has treated me with contempt and derision. He poisoned my father’s thoughts against me. He would himself become King. He is a traitor to us and as such I will see him dead before this day is over.”

Thus spoke the man, the King, Edward Secundus.

Extract ends.

Link to book http://bit.ly/1yop3AK

Guy de Beauchamp - Stained glass

Guy de Beauchamp – Stained glass

Guy de Beauchamp, 10th Earl of Warwick (c. 1272 – 12 August 1315) was an English magnate, and one of the principal opponents of King Edward II and his favourite Piers Gaveston. Guy was the son of William de Beauchamp who was a good friend to Sir Cristian Gilleson and succeeded his father in 1298. Guy’s worth was noted by King Edward the First and he was present when Edward died at Burgh by Sands in 1307.

The spot where Edward I dies in the marshy land at Burgh by Sands

The spot where Edward I dies in the marshy land at Burgh by Sands

After the succession of Edward II in 1307, however, he soon fell out with the new king and the king’s favourite Piers Gaveston. Warwick was one of the main architects behind the Ordinances of 1311, which limited the powers of the king and banished Gaveston into exile – again.

Edward I knighted Guy de Beauchamp at Easter 1296. Guy’s career of public service started with the Falkirk campaign in 1298. Here he distinguished himself, and received a reward of Scottish lands worth 1000 marks a year (£700 in those days – a fortune!). At this point his father was already dead, but it was not until 5 September that Guy did homage to Edward I for his lands, and became Earl of Warwick and hereditary High Sheriff of Worcestershire for life.

He continued in the king’s service in Scotland and elsewhere. In 1299 he was present at Edward’s wedding to Margaret of France at Canterbury, and in 1300 he took part in the Siege of Caerlaverock.

Early in 1307, Edward I made his last grant to Warwick, when he gave him John Balliol’s forfeited lordship of Barnard Castle in County Durham. On 7 July that year, near Burgh by Sands in Cumberland, Warwick was present with Cristian Gilleson when King Edward died. Together with Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, and Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, he carried the ceremonial swords at the coronation of King Edward II on 25 February 1308 (though I think he may have had his fingers crossed behind his back!)

The remains of Barnard Castle

The remains of Barnard Castle

Guy had made a promise to Edward I that he would give good counsel to his son (the future Edward II) but his suggestions and observations were in vain for Edward II seemed in thrall to the countenances of Piers Gaveston.

Before his death, the old king had exiled Prince Edward’s favourite Piers Gaveston, and Warwick was among those charged with preventing Gaveston’s return. The new king, however, not only recalled his favourite, but soon also gave him the title of earl of Cornwall. Warwick was the only one of the leading earls who did not seal the charter, and soon took on an antagonistic attitude to Edward II.

Gaveston was a relative upstart in the English aristocracy, and made himself unpopular among the established nobility by his arrogance and his undue influence on the new king. He gave mocking nicknames to the leading men of the realm, and called Warwick the “Black Dog of Arden”.

Gaveston was once more forced into exile, but Edward II recalled him in less than a year. The king had spent the intervening time gathering support, and at the time, the only one to resist the return of Gaveston was Warwick. With time, however, opposition to the king grew and Gaveston was again banished.

Gaveston’s third and final exile was short and he was back with Edward II within eight weeks. Archbishop Winchelsey responded by excommunicating Gaveston and a number of the barons set out in pursuit of him when the king left for York. Gaveston ensconced himself at Scarborough Castle, and on 19 May 1312 agreed to surrender to Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, as long as his security would be guaranteed.

Representation of Gaveston being brought to trial before Guy de Beauchamp

Representation of Gaveston being brought to trial before Guy de Beauchamp

Pembroke lodged his prisoner in Deddington in Oxfordshire. On 10 June, while Pembroke was away, Guy de Beauchamp forcibly carried Gaveston to Warwick Castle. Here, in the presence of Warwick, Lancaster and other magnates, Gaveston was sentenced to death at an improvised court. On 19 June he was taken to a place called Blacklow Hill – on Lancaster’s lands – and decapitated.

Guy de Beauchamp standing over the decapitated body of Piers Gaveston

Guy de Beauchamp standing over the decapitated body of Piers Gaveston

When Guy died on 12 August 1315 there were rumours that Edward II had caused him to be poisoned – this is doubtful though. He was buried at Bordesley Abbey in Worcestershire, an establishment to which his family had served as benefactors.

Guy de Beauchamp is probably best remembered by posterity for his opposition to King Edward II and for his part in the death of Gaveston. To contemporaries, however, he was considered a man of considerable learning and wisdom. His library was extensive. It contained several saints’ lives as well as romances about Alexander and King Arthur. As mentioned, Edward I entrusted the supervision of his son to Warwick. Likewise, before the earl of Lincoln died in 1311, he supposedly instructed his son-in-law Thomas of Lancaster to heed the advice of Warwick, “the wisest of the peers”.

Chronicles also praised Warwick’s wisdom; the Vita Edwardi Secundi said that “Other earls did many things only after taking his opinion: in wisdom and council he had no peer”. Later historians have reflected this view, in the 19th century William Stubbs called Warwick “a discriminating and highly literate man, the wisdom of whom shone forth through the whole kingdom.”

Guy's seal.

Guy’s seal.

In summation – I loved incorporating Guy de Beauchamp Earl of Warwick into “The King’s Jew” and do hope I served his memory well. – I liked him!

Thanks for reading – any questions?

Link to The King’s Jew Book http://bit.ly/1yop3AK

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An enlightened King – Alphonso the Tenth of Castile

Alfonso X – 23 November 1221 – 4 April 1284,(known as ‘The Wise’ was the King of Castile, León and Galicia from 30 May 1252 until his death.

Alphonso the Tenth

Alphonso the Tenth

He created an alliance with England in 1254 and thus renounced his claim to Gascony which was then held by King Henry III.

Alfonso X fostered the development of a cosmopolitan court that encouraged learning. Jews, Muslims, and Christians had prominent roles in his court.

One of the characters in my novel “The King’s Jew” is Yehuda ben Moshe who, though a Jew, was Alphonso’s personal physician and translated many ancient Arabic texts into the local language for Alphonso.  Link to book http://authl.it/2m5

As a result of his encouraging the translation of works from Arabic and Latin into the vernacular of Castile, many intellectual changes took place, perhaps the most notable being encouragement of the use of Castilian as a primary language of higher learning, science, and law.

Alfonso was a prolific author of Galician poetry, such as the Cantigas de Santa Maria, which are equally notable for their musical notation as for their literary merit. Alfonso’s scientific interests—he is sometimes nicknamed “the Astrologer” led him to sponsor the creation of the Alfonsine tables, and the Alphonsus crater on the moon is named after him.

As a legislator he introduced the first vernacular law code in Spain, the Siete Partidas. He created the Mesta, an association of sheep farmers in the central plain, but debased the coinage to finance his claim to the German crown. He fought a successful war with Portugal, but a less successful one with Granada. The end of his reign was marred by a civil war with his eldest surviving son, the future Sancho IV, which would continue after his death.

Alphonso the Judge

Alphonso the Judge

King Henry arranged for his son Lord Edward to marry Alphonso’s half-sister Eleanor. Part of this marriage treaty was that Alphonso would officiate at the knighting ceremony of Edward at Burgos in 1254. Edward was fifteen and Eleanor just thirteen.

From my novel here is a snippet of Alphonso’s part in the ceremony (and yes I did research this thoroughly) – From Chapter thirty-seven.

‘King Alfonso now addressed Edward and a flash of annoyance crossed his bearded face as the sounds of song could be heard from without.

“For what purpose, Lord Edward, do you wish to join our company of knights? I command you to speak in all honesty and reflect on your reasons, for if riches, comfort and honour are your desires, then you are unworthy.”

Edward took a deep breath before replying,

“I desire to be a knight that I might serve my God, honour my King and love my Lady wife to the best of my abilities.”

A round of cheering followed this remark which Bishop Boniface silenced with a look as he signalled Edward to rise.

It was then that Edward’s new wife Eleanor walked slowly and regally through the assembly towards the candidate. She came to his side and Cristian saw such a look of love pass between the young couple that his warrior heart all but melted at the sight. Even the hardened knights of four countries could see the show of devotion in the couple. Bishop Boniface harrumphed loudly and King Alfonso smiled at the match he had made for his half-sister who he held in such high regard.’  http://authl.it/2m5

One famous quote attributed to Alphonso upon hearing an explanation of the extremely complicated mathematics required to demonstrate Ptolemy’s theory of astronomy was “If the Lord Almighty had consulted me before embarking on creation thus, I should have recommended something simpler.”

Alphonso the Warrior King

Alphonso the Warrior King

Alphonso X was a man ahead of his time. Cultured, steeped in the ideals of chivalry and social fairness he thought no less of any man despite their religious differences. Jew or Christian, Muslim or Parsee in Alphonso’s eyes a man was a man and that was sufficient for him.

Bell, Book and Candle. The aftermath of an event that took place in Chapter Twenty-four of book one of “The King’s Jew”.

220px-Saintfrancisborgia_exorcism

I have been writing ‘modern’ Flash Fiction for quite some time. Flash Fiction is usually less than one thousand words and the subject matter comes from a given ‘prompt’. I have taken some of these works and ‘translated / transported’ them to Thirteenth century England – the setting for “The King’s Jew” trilogy – only book one is available at the moment and can be viewed here http://bit.ly/1yop3AK

London. December twenty-seventh, 1307.

It was the noise that disturbed him. Chanting, shouting, all in unison yet the words were indistinct to his tired brain.

It had been another cold night and sleep was a drug he seldom used nowadays.

Tiredness was part of his life; that and the waiting. But he couldn’t quite remember what he was waiting for.

Still the noise surrounded him, rising to a cacophony. Christ’s bones! What was it all about?

One eye opened slowly. The other joined its neighbour then closed tight shut as the dim light from a horn lantern sought entry. He didn’t like light. It disorientated him. Better to lie still and quiet. Wait for peaceful normality to return. No such luck!

Struggling to rise he got first to his knees then with a wide-mouthed sigh rose on unsteady legs, one arm supporting him against the rough wall of his chamber and looked around.

His space was full of people, strange people murmuring foreign-tongued words whose meaning eluded him. Latin?

“Go away. Leave me alone,” he screamed. “This is my place, not yours. Leave me be!”

Nobody listened, nobody heard. They carried on regardless.

A black-robed Benedictine monk, obviously the leader of this gaggle of strangers threw water in his direction; it spattered all over his unkempt lank black hair.

“Do that again and you’ll feel the edge of my blade you bastard!”

“Vade satana retro,” exhorted his tormentor.

More water came his way.

Another fool raised a book in the air and waved it in his direction.

The chants reached a crescendo; then silence. Deep, black mind-numbing silence and they all stared at him.

A bell rang and he knew he must leave this place and quick.

“There’s no peace with you idiots around. Get out of my way!”

After a while the people looked to their leader. He smiled, nodded with satisfaction and walked slowly round the room.

“We can go now,” he whispered, “the wandering spirit has departed and your cellar is free from such abominations.”

His assistant tugged urgently on his arm. “You spoke the words in the wrong order. The correct form is ‘Vade retro satana’.”

The young novitiate received a blow for his audaciousness and the priest made a mental note to have him flogged when they returned to Westminster Abbey.

***

In a cellar on the other side of town in London’s Queenhithe a ghostly figure appeared, looked round and smiled to himself, “Ah, The Queen’s Tavern. Peace at last. This is where the stranger slew me and I died unshriven. Here I will rest and continue my master’s work unhindered by the petty squabbles of Christian men.”

An hour later a comely girl had an urgent word with her master, the one-armed Eric.

“There is something evil in the cellar,” she mumbled.

Eric laughed and surveyed his crowded establishment. “Something evil you say? How can that be, girl? All the evil men in London are here at my tables.” He reached his one arm around her narrow waist and leaned in close saying, “Accompany me to the cellar now and I will teach you the meaning of ‘evil’.”

She slipped from his grasp and went about her work serving ale to the noisy throng but nothing on God’s Christian earth would ever persuade her to enter the cellar again. Not until the priests had been called anyway.

Down below the spirit slumbered and gathered his strength for the coming battle that had been foretold since the beginning of time.

Nobody heard the screams of the novice as the lash bit into his flesh.

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