Friday, 25 November 2011
Sandwiched between the warring factions in Folville's Law is young Prince Edward, eldest son of Edward II and Queen Isabella. The image is a contemporary likeness of him, done in his later years when he apparently sported a truly magnificent forked beard that should definitely come back into fashion. You have to love the massive sparkly hat as well.
Edward was later to become arguably the greatest monarch England ever had, but at this early stage in his life (he is just fourteen in the book) he was little more than a valuable pawn. His father, the increasingly embattled King Edward, needed to keep hold of his son and heir to prove that he was still in control and that the fate of the Plantaganet dynasty was in his hands. His mother needed to wrench the boy away from her estranged husband, thus making her and Mortimer look like deliverers rather than conquerors when they invaded England.
What did Edward make of it all? The pressures on his young shoulders must have been immense, but there is no way of knowing his inner thoughts. In contrast to the aggression and dynamism that characterised the high years of his reign, he was strangely passive at this stage, apparently willing to be used and exploited. His mother proved to have the greater influence on him, succesfully spiriting him away to France and keeping him there, despite the increasingly angry and pathetic letters his father sent demanding his return. At lat the King warned his son that unless he returned to England, his father would make a terrible example of him that would act as a warning to all faithless sons. The threat was hollow, and the prince stayed in Paris with his mother and the Flashman-esque Roger Mortimer, until the time came for the invasion fleet to gather in Hainault...