Monday, 16 January 2012

Here 'tis!  The first post of my brand spanking new blog-thingie!
Pray forgive me if I meander, ramble (without suitable footwear) and just witter along.  I've been reliably told that this is what Blogs are for.

Here's a thought ...

I've just finished reading The King of Thieves by Michael Jecks - an excellent read, by the way - and part of the plot involves the dark days of the medieval British monarchy when King Edward II was under the thrall (?) of Sir Hugh Despenser.

Now, as far as I see it, King Edward was first enamoured (and poorly influenced) by Piers Gaveston.  This angered the barons - possibly from jealousy of his influence over the king - and Gaveston was "removed".  Along comes The Despenser.  Perhaps on "rebound" from his first "boyfriend", Edward takes to Sir Hugh and begins lavishing wealth and power on him.

But The Despenser was of a different mould from Gaveston.  Greedy to the point of insanity - this was commented on by his contemporaries in a fairly venal period - Sir Hugh wasn't some vain, spoiled "toyboy".  He was intelligent, cunning and utterly ruthless!  He blatantly used his favour with the king to expand his personal wealth and power.  He was cruel ... but only as an aside to his rapacity.  As far as he was concerned, he enjoyed exercising his power over others but only as long as it didn't interfere with his profit.
His relationship with King Edward lasted until it forced Queen Isabella and Sir Roger Mortimer to act, knowing that it would be a "popular" uprising.

Why did King Edward allow this to happen?

After the first baron's revolt, the king was almost paranoid about his standing in his lands.  He was pressured by the French King and deeply hurt by Sir Roger - his finest general - so why did he allow Sir Hugh so much power?
Near the end, The Despenser had nearly more wealth - and therefore power - than the King himself.  Why did Edward allow a "favourite" so much power, power that might've allowed Sir Hugh to usurp the Crown?
Was it because he was still smarting from when the baron's "took away" his beloved Gaveston?  Did he want to cling to this new boyfriend, just to teach the barons a lesson?  Or did he truly love Despenser and was blind to the man's boundless ambition?

Truly, I don't know.  I suspect it was the former.  Edward II was like a spoiled child, expecting absolute compliance to his whims.  When Gaveston was removed, Edward was a spoiled brat, smarting at the lesson that even a King could only go so far.  He set out to dig his heels in and stick by Sir Hugh, regardless of any cost, in order to shout "I'm the King and I can do what I want!"

Not a good episode in the British history.


  1. Welcome to the blogosphere, Alan! Glad to see you will be using this forum to post about your reading...I'm looking forward to longer comments from you (and seeing what you read outside the realm of Crime Thru Time).

    Now I need to go look up The King of Thieves ;-)

    1. While I specialise in historical crime fiction, my library is quite eclectic, with a large section devoted to Forteana/paranormal, science fiction-fantasy and a very dated yet diffuse collection of role-playing games, such as "Paranoia", "Call of Cthulhu" and "RuneQuest".
      The latter is a by-product of my long involvement with RPG's as player, referee, club organiser and paid reviewer!

  2. Hi, I'm a friend of Linda's, welcome to blogland.
    I'm a fan of Historical mysteries, and other kinds of genre also. Will keep on eye on what you're reading.

  3. Thanks for your encouragement and interest! I'm flattered that I have anything to say that's worth reading. It encourages me not to gibber at the walls but to try to formulate my thoughts and put them into words.
    *this is definitely a work in progress*
    I promise to give you summat worth looking at and try not to offend; the latter being difficult with opinion but is mitigated by the ability to edit and consider ones words.