A Corfe Castle story

After the reign of Edward I, I can only assume there were great expectations from his son to successfully lead the country forward. Edward II was, however, a terrible king. He did not know how to cooperate with his barons, turning many of them to his enemies. He was a terrible military leader and was humiliated by the Scots. But his greatest weakness by far was his favouritism. Through his reign, Edward always had a noble whom he showered with gifts and attention. Many assumed he was gay, and his first crush was a nobleman called Piers Gaveston. In fact, when Edward married 12-year-old Isabela, the daughter of the King of France, it seemed that Gaveston was the centre of the event. He even wore some of the jewels Isabela had brought with her as her dowry.

This pattern of behaviour continued through his reign and eventually queen Isabela had enough; she managed to convince the king to send her and her son Edward to France to negotiate with the new king (by that time it was her brother) only to team up with an exiled nobleman named Mortimer and arrange an invasion.

Edward tried to raise an army, but he only managed to recruit 55 soldiers. Everyone hated him and stood in line to join the invading army of Isabela. Edward tried to escape with one of his favorites to Ireland but he was captured. For the first time in history, the barons had to develop an abdication process allowing them to give the crown to his teenage son who would become Edward III. Most of the historians also believe that not long after that, Edward II died in Berkeley Castle. The cause of his death did create debate (and I urge you to read the story from Berkeley Castle). The “proof” for his death appears in a letter that was sent by Lord Berkeley in 1327 confirming that the King was dead and that he had been buried. Usually when a king was dead, his body was put on display so there would be many witnesses who could confirm his death, but it did not happen this time…

But there is also a different ending to the story of Edward II. In 1330, three years after he was supposed to die, a group of conspirators were tried and executed because they planned to… free Edward II from his imprisonment in Corfe Castle. How odd, right? Why should anyone try to free a dead man? Well you could just say that since TV was not popular back then, the news about the King’s death did not spread that fast, but when you consider the list of conspirators… they include the Earl of Kent which was Edward II’s half brother, Sir John Pecche who was the previous constable of Corfe Castle, which means that he was incharge of the prisoners in Corfe castle until 1329… Another person who joined them was the Bishop of London…

So what do you think? Was Edward II the most senior prisoner in Corfe Castle? Was the news of his death just a clever trick made by Mortimer and Isabella to secure their job as the regents of Edward III? Unfortunately, it all happened almost 700 years ago so we can only guess, but this is why history is such a great thing.

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