But I Digress!

I confess, it is hard to focus on academia when the sun is shining after the usual long, dreary winter. I am still on Edward 1 by Michael Prestwich and after waiting for weeks got another book referred to by Prestwich which was “King Henry III and the Lord Edward by F.M. Powicke. Sadly (or not) that is an inter-library loan which gives me about a week to read it . Not happening.  I have however, read the last chapter in that book  which is the Epilogue:Edward I.

One thing that becomes clear when you venture into these books is that the English language was not used in the same way even 50 years ago as it is today. For example “the kings wardrobe”. Not what you think, it was basically the accounting office of the king’s household during Edward’s time. Inside of that was the provision of all things personal  to the king including his armies. From these accounts, historians attempt to piece together the lives of the royal families. Later, the kings wardrobe would come under the exchequers office.

Another linguistic term commonly used by historians is “seems to have” a rather elusive term politely exonerating them from any mistaken conclusions you might come to. You might say that there are linguistic conventions used by that profession.However, I do enjoy reading the English language as it was meant to be spoken, politely and with a natural flow to it. You may even expand your vocabulary as you go. To which end I always keep my tablet with me so that I can look up words I don’t understand or try to research people and places connected with King Edward. I end up on many adventures this way.

Upon reading that Edward started to build an Abbey in Cheshire I thought I would look for images of it on Google and I was off! Edward had made a vow as a young man to build an abbey if he was saved from a storm at sea. He chose Darnhall, Cheshire, initially but the people were not happy at all with this decision. Also, the site was too small for what he had planned. So a new site was chosen at Over, a few miles away and named Vale Abbey. Everything went swimmingly at first but then, Edward started to run out of money because of his war with the Welsh and the massive castle building projects he had going on there. He eventually abandoned the plan for Vale Abbey taking a good part of the masons with him.

The abandoned monks did everything to finish the building but just couldn’t do it so it was abandoned for 10 years until another prince Edward, the Black Prince, decided he would help them. THEN a hurricane struck and the nave was swept down. Finally, under Richard II it was agreed that the building could be finished but only on a much smaller scale.

However, that really is where the story starts because…the monks were NOT nice people! They became landowners when they were given the abbey and were harsh to their tenants. No one liked them. Discipline became lax and corruptness took hold, ending with one of the abbots being hacked to death for an alleged rape. One of the avenging group was a vicar. This is not my image of a vicar!

After much lawlessness and being taken under “royal supervision” (which apparently did not work, can you guess why?) the governing body of the Cistercians thought they might take a look and decided that the place was “damnable and sinister”. Things settled down for awhile. Eventually, the Abbey was dissolved under Henry VIII and passed through many hands, changing all the while, until very little of the original was left. Today it is home to a private golf club. And that about states it, all that history, the toil and strife of so many, the connection with royalty, is now a golf club.

And that is what happens when you go off searching for things! By the way, did you know that Edwards first language was French, his second Latin? How did he rule a country like that?

Current Events

Just a little aside to tell you what’s been going on. As in the previous post, I have been attempting to read Michael Prestwich’s, Edward 1. It has been slightly dry and definitely not as reader friendly as Marc Morris’s, A Great and Terrible King. Although I did feel that Marc’s book had a definite sympathetic bent towards Edward. Prestwich’s book is more a confusing reword of the facts of his reign as taken from the financial accounts of the time. This of course, is useful for citing your own research but so far, does little to flesh out the person of Edward himself in the way that Marc does.Again, let me caveat that with the fact that I am only partway into the book.

While there is no doubt that the facts are essential to proving the likelihood of a certain event taking place, it does take talent to bring that to the public. It is rather distracting to have numbers written all over the place when I am reading. Hopefully sometime in the near future they will find better ways to cite sources. That being said , I like it when the writer says that prior thoughts on a subject couldn’t have been correct because ……. and there is the fact.  We can never fully know what the motivations may have been behind someone’s actions unless we were there. History is always incomplete. We are a little more certain of the outcomes of their actions. Let me say this though, it is hard to even begin to imagine the world Edward was thrown into as a young man. The term “living large” would hardly describe it. Some were up to the task , like Edward, and some were not, like his father.” It is a pity that the closest most young men will get to this kind of history is in a video game. I would recommend Marc’s book as a good basic book that can hold your interest. When I am done with Prestwich’s book I will do some comparing. If my mind isn’t boggled by then.

In other news, I had put my Irish research to bed in order to get on with the Scottish side of the family and that is how I got into this thing with Edward. He was the scourge of the Scots and I became curious about all the claims against him. However, things suddenly started to crop up. First, I got an email by an offended second cousin who felt I had portrayed her in a bad light (which I have tried to rectify), then I got an email from a lady who has worked at Garden Hill for 20 years and suddenly came upon my post Life at Garden Hill. That was the home of my great aunt and uncle who ran the South Dublin workhouse. It was converted into offices. She wanted to know if I had more info and has colleagues writing about the St. James hospital which was built over it. The house will be torn down and replaced by a pediatric wing. Then just the other day, I got a long-awaited reply from William Healy, whose great grandfather was acquainted with the Phillips family (my mom’s family). He is trying to help me locate the graves of my great grandparents and is sending information on that. Mystery there is that everyone keeps saying that 3 brothers came to Canada instead of 2. I was told the first one died when he was young but I have not found a death record for him. That leads me onto another chase to see if either of these is true. It is all unexpected but exciting! I hadn’t thought of my posts as being permanently up there for people to read years after I wrote them. Lesson learned.