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

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


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