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Piers Gaveston

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Piers Gaveston
Inspection of Gaveston's head by the earls of Lancaster, Hereford, and Arundel
Bornca. 1284
Died19 June 1312
Cause of deathDecapitation

Piers Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall (ca. 1284 – 19 June 1312) was the favourite of King Edward II of England. Their contemporaries thought that the relationship between the two men was homosexual. The nobles of England grew jealous and angry as Gaveston rose in power. In 1312, civil war erupted. Gaveston was captured and killed. Gaveston is a major character in Christopher Marlowe's tragedy, Edward II.

Life[change | change source]

Gaveston was born about 1284 to a Gascon lord. About 1300, he entered the household of the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward II. The two young men were both about sixteen years old, and developed a close relationship some thought homosexual.

In 1307, Gaveston was banished by King Edward I of England, but recalled by his son when he became King Edward II in February 1308. Gaveston was made Earl of Cornwall, married Margaret, daughter of Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, and received money and land.

Gaveston was regent of the kingdom during Edward's short absence in France in 1308. He played a prominent part at Edward's coronation in February. As time passed, Edward II showed Gaveston more and more favour. Powerful nobles grew jealous and angry.

These nobles managed to have Gaveston banished again, but he was quickly recalled by Edward. The nobles gathered their armies as civil war neared. Gaveston and Edward fled together, but separated at Scarborough, England. Edward went to York. Gaveston was captured. He was run through with a sword and decapitated.

He was buried in the Dominican friary at King's Langley, Hertfordshire. In 1823, a monument was erected on the spot where Gaveston was thought to have been murdered. The inscription on the monument describes Gaveston as "the Minion of a hateful King" beheaded "by Barons as lawless as himself". Gaveston is a major character in Christopher Marlowe's tragedy, Edward II.

References[change | change source]