Gaveston, Piers

views updated May 23 2018

Gaveston, Piers (1284–1312). The most notorious favourite of Edward II was the son of a Gascon knight who served in Edward I's household. Whether his relationship with Edward II was sexual is not clear, but it seems likely that it was. It was certainly formed early, in adolescence. Piers was exiled by Edward I in the course of a quarrel with his son; once Edward II came to the throne he showered his waspish ‘brother’ with many favours, starting with no less than the earldom of Cornwall. Foolish rather than malign, Piers irritated the English nobility by his rudeness, giving them coarse nicknames; he also annoyed them with his skill in tournaments. He controlled royal patronage to an unacceptable degree. He was forced into exile by the king's opponents in 1309, and again in 1311; he returned to surrender at Scarborough in Yorkshire, and died at the hands of his opponents at Blacklow Hill in Warwickshire in 1312.

Michael Prestwich