Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Confessions of Piers Gaveston by Brandy Purdy

Piers Gaveston, favorite of King Edward II, is writing his memoirs for his lover. Piers recounts his atrocious beginnings. As a small child, his mother is burned at the stake for witchcraft while his father soldiers for Edward I. Piers is the youngest child and witnesses his mothers death. He bears the scars both mentally and with burned hands that he suffered while trying to free her. Raised by Agnes, his faithful maid and Dragon, his stoic bodyguard, Piers makes a life for himself selling his body to anyone willing to spend coin or provide housing. After being noticed while soldiering, he is sent to be a companion for the Prince. The King hopes that Piers will provide Edward with courage and gumption. The two boys become fast friends, but soon their relationship changes.The prince falls in love with his companion and is soon love sick. Piers tries to practice discretion, but the bonny Prince will hear nothing of it. He flaunts his new love and showers Piers with expensive presents. While Piers loves the glamor and luxury, he hates the feeling of being bought. When the King discovers the unnatural longings between the boys, he is furious and demands Piers banishment. Edward is inconsolable and Piers somehow manages to convince the King to let him stay with Edward. Time passes and Edward is made King.  Edward showers Piers with even more luxery, breeding hate from the noblemen in England. The noblemen soon become so enraged with jealousy for Piers that they demand his exile. Edward agrees to the separation, but takes the seperation badly. He writes lovelong letters to Peirs, his parrot, signing them Lovelorn Ned. Soon Piers is back. Upon his arrival back at court, he is surprised to learn that he has been created the Earl of Cornwall and is betrothed to Margaret de Clare, niece to Edward. Edward celebrates Piers return and soon plans an extravagant wedding for his favorite and his niece.  When the wedding takes place, Edward is fearful that Piers will love Meg more than himself and throws a temper tantrum. Piers is left to comfort not only his thirteen year old bride, but the king himself. Once satisfied that Piers' love is secure, Edward goes on as usual, showering Piers with gifts. When Edward leaves to collect his bride, he leaves Piers as his regent. This infuriates the nobles again. When Edward returns with Isabelle, Piers is horrified at the coldness of the new queen. Isabelle quickly learns the nature of the relationship between Edward and Piers. To complicate matters further, Edward gives Piers Isabelle's jewels. To avenge herself, Isabelle educates Meg on the real relationship between her uncle and her husband. While Meg doesn't understand this, she accepts it and soon moves to their country estate to be away from court gossip. Once again, Piers is facing exilement. He convinces Edward to send him to Ireland to rule there as regent. There things go well for Piers. He competently rules as regent, disarming rebels, striking peace between the warring Irish and spends time with his bride. When he is recalled, he is cautious. But upon arrival, he finds Edward as he once was. After winning a joust, he announces Meg's pregnancy, sparking another jealousy fit from Edward. But the pregnancy is short lived, Meg miscarries after a fall. Piers is once more in the good favors of the King and time passes. The noblemen of England present Edward with a list of grievances, one being Piers. Once more, Piers is exiled. He bounces around Europe, but soon returns to England for the birth of his daughter. While there, Edward arrives and pronounces that all the lands that were taken from Piers are restored. Piers is furious, knowing that this will be the death of him.  Soon Piers is on the run and is soon besieged by the noblemen. He surrenders to the kind Earl of Pembroke. But his safety is short lived when he is captured by the Earl of Warwick. Warwick tries him and has him executed. Edward is broken hearted and devastated.

I had never really been exposed to the story of Piers Gaveston. I was aware that Edward had a special relationship with Piers and then Hugh Despenser, leading to Isabelle's alliance with Roger Mortimer. Brandy Purdy breathes life into a long forgotten man. Piers has been long standing in history's forgotten men, but Brandy picks him up and gives him a voice. I find Piers to be a humble and understandable man, who was fated to be tied to Edward. I can understand Piers love of luxury and his inability to cut ties with his King and lover. I felt bad for Piers, who was loved but felt like a favored trinket instead of a lover and friend. A appreciated Brandy's details to all of the opulence that surrounded the King and Piers. The depth of detail about their clothes, jewelry, finery is very expressive. I can just imagine Piers strutting as a little peacock. I imagine that no woman ever wore finer clothes or more expensive jewelry that Piers. While this book does speak of the love between Piers and Edward, it is a historic look at a man that once was a powerful and haunting force.

Once again, I would like to thank Brandy for all her generosity. She is a magnificent author and I am very appreciative of her. You can find her here.

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