The Hunt for the King 37) New facts about William de Norwell’s Wardrobe Account of 1338

It has long been known that one of the pieces of evidence indicating that Edward II might have lived after September 21st, 1327, consists of two entries in William de Norwell’s Wardrobe Account dated 1338. William de Norwell was the clerk in charge of King Edward III’s Wardrobe, and drew up a detailed account book for the period July 12th, 1338, to May 27th, 1340. The two entries that may indicate Edward II’s survival are contained in this book, and both refer to a man called ‘William le Galeys’ who ‘called himself the father of the king’. This means, he was saying he was the father of King Edward III, in other words, he was claiming to be Edward II, more than ten years after his supposed death.
The Auramala Project has finally managed to take a closer look at these two entries, thanks to the help of Kevin McKenzie, who has already made several valuable contributions to the Project in terms of genealogy and historical research. Kevin very kindly took the time and trouble to go to the British National Archives Kew and personally photograph the relevant pages of William de Norwell’s Wardrobe Account book. Why was this necessary? The Wardrobe Accounts in question were transcribed and published in 1983 by Mary Lyon, Bryce Lyon, Henry S. Lucas and with the contribution of Jean de Sturler. However, if I only had a euro for every time Stefano Castagneto has said to me “Don’t trust transcriptions, always go back to the original document!”, I would be a rich man. So we went back to the original document, and it paid off, as you will see below.
The two entries are within a section of the accounts headed:
Translated, this means:
Here begin details of outgoing expenses made in the Wardrobe of Lord Edward, King of England and France, between July 11, the twelfth year of his reign as King of England (1338), and May 28th, the fourteenth year of his reign as King of England and France, firstly for charity, necessities, gifts, ambassadors, fiefs, clothes, care for horses, passage of men-at-arms, archers and mariners, and passage of horses.
The first entry that mentions William le Galeys is on folio 89 verso:
Francisco Lumbard servienti domini regis ad arma pro tot denariis per ipsum solutis pro expensis Willelmi le Glaeys qui asserit se patrem domini regis nunc nuper arestati apud Coloniam et per ipsum Franciscum apud regem sic ducti usque Confluenciam per manus proprias, 25 s. 6 d.
To Francis Lombard sergeant-at-arms of the lord king for the same amount of money spent by (means of) him for the expenses of William le Galeys who declared himself the father of the lord king and so/then recently stopped near Cologne and by (means of) him, Francis, taken thus to the king at Koblenz by own hands, 25 s. 6d.
The second entry that mentions William le Galeys is on folio 90 recto:
Francekino Forcet pro denariis per ispum receptis pro expensis Willelmi Galeys in custodia sua existentis quia nominavit se regem Angliae patrem regis nunc (videlicet per tres septimanas mense Octobris dicto anno xii) per manus proprias ibidem xviii die Octobris, 13 s. 6 d.
To Francekino Forcet for money by means of him received for the expensis of William Galeys being in his custody because he called himself king of England father of the king (as is evident for three weeks in the month of October of the said year xii [1338]) by own hands the 18th day of October, 13 s. 6 d.
In both entries the term ‘manus proprias – by own hands‘ almost certainly means directly from William de Norwell, the writer of the accounts.


Koblenz in 1572, from Wikimedia commons. Did Edward III meet his father here in 1338?
This entry is not dated, but refers to the time in which King Edward III was in Koblenz. The itinerary of Edward III as published by Mark Ormrod in his 2012 biography of that king, shows that Edward III was in Koblenz from September 1 to September 6, 1338, and so the event must have occurred in that time bracket. The entry refers to a Francis Lombard, who was a sergeant-at-arms of King Edward III. The word ‘Lombard’ most likely refers to his geographical place of origin. In the 14th century all of northern Italy was generically referred to as ‘Lombardy’ (though even as far south as Tuscany was sometimes referred to as ‘Lombardy’ in this period, for example by Dante). Francis Lombard spent 25 s. and 6 d. for the expenses of a certain William Galleys, who declared himself to be the father of the king (thus, he declared himself to be Edward II) and so, or and then (the Latin word nunc may mean either) was stopped. The word arestare may seem to mean ‘arrest’, but in fact it is an invention of medieval Latin and literally means to stop. However, we will be looking for other instances of the verb in Norwell’s account in order to confirm that the meaning is, indeed, to stop and not something else. Therefore, the Francis Lombard, probably Italian, stopped William Galeys near Cologne, and took him to King Edward III near Koblenz sometime between September 1 and September 6. William Galeys’ expenses amounted to 25 s. and 6d. A sergeant-at-arms like Francis normally received a daily wage of 12 s, to put this in proportion. The same amount of money was given to Francis Lombard. This logically indicates that Francis Lombard paid William Galeys’ expenses himself, perhaps for a two or three days, and was then reimbursed by William Norwell. When William Norwell asserts that he reimbursed Francis Lombard ‘by his own hands’, it means we can be sure this is a first-hand account of someone who actually met Francis Lombard, and was therefore in a position to verify that which he later wrote down.
This entry is dated October 13, 1338, so more than one month after the previous entry. This time, a smaller sum of money, 13 s and 6 d, is being given to a Francekino Forcet. Francekino seems to be a diminutive of Franciscus, the Latin for Francis. This is a version of the same given name used in the first entry, though Francis was an extremely common name, and this does not necessarily mean they were the same person. There is also a surname here, Forcet, which may very well be an alternative spelling of Forcetti/Forzetti. Four men with this name were involved with the Florentine banking firms of the Bardi (Dino Forzetti) and the Peruzzi (Francesco Forzetti and his two sons, Giovanni and Andrea. Dino Forzetti was a Bardi agent in England, and Andrea Forzetti was a Peruzzi agent in England. We cannot be sure, but it is possible that Francekino Forcet was the same man as Francesco Forzetti, who was a partner in the Peruzzi banking firm. Both the Bardi and the Peruzzi banking firms were heavily involved in lending very large sums of money to Edward III in this period. (1)
This time, money is being given to Francekino Forcet for another sum of money (it is not specified how much), received by means of him, for the expenses of William Galeys. Concerning this, it is necessary to specify that the Latin tex is per ipsum – ‘by means of him’. The sum of money was received by means of him. It is important to distinguish this from ‘by him’ – which would imply that it was Francekino Forcet himself who received the money. This is not that case, in Latin that would be ab ipso, not per ipsum. The construction per ipsum receptis literally means received by means of him, or through him. This means he was not receiving the money personally, he was the agent by which the money was received. So who did receive the money? Given the context of the Wardrobe Accounts, we may conclude that the Wardrobe (thus, King Edward III) received the money, by means of/through Francekino Forcet. Similarly, in the first entry, the expenses of William Galeys were paid by means of/through Francis Lombard, not by him personally, and in fact he was reimbursed by the Wardrobe. So, Francis Lombard was the agent by which those expenses were paid. If the Wardrobe received money  by means of Francekino Forcet, this may add weight to the speculation that he was indeed Francesco Forzetti: given that Forzetti was a banker, working for a form that regularly lent money to King Edward III
The money received by means of Francekino Forcet was for the expenses of William Galeys, who was in Forcet’s custody for three weeks in the month of October, 1338. The published transcription mistakenly writes ‘December’, but this is incorrect: we have verified with the original, and indeed this and all other entries before and after it on the page refer to October, not December. Therefore, according to this entry, William Galeys was in the custody of Forcet for three weeks in October, because (quia) he said he was the king of England, father of the king). This second entry is very specific: William Galeys was claiming to be Edward II, and because of this, he was in the custody of Francekino Forcet for three weeks in October 1338, for which expenses the Wardrobe received money through Forcet himself. It seems, effectively, to be saying that this payment of 13 s. 6d. is payment to Forcet for his services in organising money for the Wardrobe, to cover the expenses of William Galeys.
You certainly do not pay a person for receiving money himself. That makes no sense.
But you certainly do pay a person if you receive money through him – a service that is typical of bankers.
I believe that this new analysis of the two entries of William de Norwell’s Wardrobe Book that mention William Galeys strengthens the hypothesis that Francekino Forcet was, indeed, the partner of the Peruzzi banking firm, Francesco Forzetti.
Ian Mortimer in his book Medieval Intrigue (2010) pointed out the links between Edward III and the Florentine bankers, the Bardi and the Peruzzi, and pointed out the possible connection with Francekino Forcet. Mortimer put forward the hypothesis that these links may lie at the heart of mystery of William Galeys/Edward II. I believe that the present analysis and its conclusions concerning Francekino Forcet support that general hypothesis.
Ivan Fowler
[I want to thank both Kevin McKenzie and Kathryn Warner for the long discussions held with them, debating the meaning of these two entries.]
(1) Information on the Dino, Francesco, Giovanni and Andrea Forzetti is available in Ian Mortimer’s Medieval Intrigue, 2010, and in publications by Armando Sapori, including Storia interna della compagnia mercantile dei Peruzzi, Florence, 1935

Quella volta che in cui Edward ha lasciato a casa le catapulte

Probabilmente la cosa più nota di tutto il regno di Edoardo II è la sua sconfitta da parte degli scozzesi, alla grande battaglia di Bannockburn, nel 1314, che rese la Scozia a tutti gli effetti un paese indipendente per diversi anni. In fatti di guerra, Edward era il contrario di suo padre, Edward I, il cosiddetto ‘martello della Scozia’, che effettivamente sottomise gran parte di quel paese, e anche di suo figlio, Edward III, che avrebbe intrapreso con successo la Guerra dei Cento Anni contro la Francia, portando i suoi eserciti a vittorie leggendarie come le battaglie di Sluys, Crécy e Poitiers. Il nostro Edward non era un grande generale, e a parte qualche battaglia minore, perse quasi sempre. Addirittura, nel 1319 per liberare Berwick-upon-Tweed dagli scozzesi, cinse la città d’assedio – dimenticandosi di portare le macchine d’assedio! Sicuramente, avrebbe preferito mantenere sempre la pace, su questo non ci piove. Più volte rimandò campagne contro la Scozia, e le poche volte che mostrò grandi abilità politiche e diplomatiche per lo più o cercava di aiutare un suo favorito di corte oppure cercava di evitare scontri bellici. Tutto questo contribuì a creare la pessima fama che ha perseguito Edward attraverso i secoli. Nel medioevo, ci si aspettava da un re soprattutto capacità militari, e la sua popolarità sia con i contemporanei che con i posteri dipendeva soprattutto dai suoi successi sul campo di battaglia. Basta pensare a Re Riccardo I, Cuor di Leone. Lasciò suo regno nei guai economici e politici più profondi, ma in quanto grande combattente viene ricordato da tutti. Infatti, c’è un lato positivo di questo aspetto del carattere di Edward: fare la guerra era costosissima, e mentre suo padre gli lascio l’Inghilterra con gravi debiti, Edward alla fine del suo regno lasciò le casse della corona in ottimo stato. Certo, da buon pacifista, la vita da eremita tra le verdi colline dell’Oltrepò Pavese in Italia, come viene descritto nella Lettera Fieschi, gli sarà sicuramente piaciuta…

Edward e la Battaglia di Sluys – 24 giugno, 1340

Sotto un turbinio di nuvoloni grigi, un forte vento da sudovest sollevava schizzi spumosi dalla cresta delle onde, che andavano a flagellare la ferita di Edward ogni volta che la prua della nave sprofondava.

E’ il 24 giugno, 1340, e sua maestà Edoardo III, re d’Inghilterra, è ferito. E’ stato un colpo di balestra, sparato da un mercenario genovese, durante la prima grande carica delle navi inglesi contro la linea di navi difensiva francese che bloccava l’ingresso a Sluys, uno dei porti mercantili fondamentali per gli interessi economici e bellici degli inglesi.

Il porto di Sluys nel 1587

«Se almeno Vostra Maestà facesse la grazia di restare seduto!» esclamò il cerusico, esasperato.
«No! I miei uomini devono vedermi ritto, tutti quanti. Devono sapere che sono qui, in piedi, pronto a combattere.» 

Così inizia Edward. Il mistero del re di Auramala: con la più grande vittoria navale inglese prima dell’Armada spagnola e prima della Battaglia di Trafalgar. Infatti, già il 24 giugno 1340 si può dire Britain rules the waves – “la Gran Bretagna regna sulle onde”, uno degli slogan patriotici preferiti degli inglesi attraverso i secoli (quell’orgoglio nazionale che oggi ha portato al #Brexit era già ai massimi livelli con Edoardo III).

La grande vittoria inglese alla battaglia di Sluys
Moneta d’oro coniata da Edward III per celebrare la Battaglia di Sluys. Un’impressione di questa moneta è sulla copertina di Edward. Il mistero del re di Auramala

Eppure, in realtà la più grande potenza navale dell’epoca è la flotta genovese. E infatti, una forte contingente delle loro galee si è schierata a inizio giornata a fianco dei difensori francesi.

Le galee comandate da Egidio Boccanegra e dai suoi capitani avevano libertà di manovra, a vela o a remi. La loro forza erano l’agilità e la rapidità, nonostante l’imponente stazza.  Se quelle temibili imbarcazioni si fossero scontrate con le lente, impacciate cocche di Edward, ci sarebbe stata una strage di inglesi e la vittoria francese sarebbe stata certa. 

Genoa, galee visibili nel porto

Ma, nel romanzo, entro mezzogiorno, le imbarcazioni mercenarie genovesi disertano i loro ‘alleati’ francesi. Perché?

Come ha fatto il giovane re Edward III, sempre a corto di denaro, a riunire la sua grande flotta, e ad assicurarsi questo tradimento?

E’ molto semplice: contrattando debiti enormi con e grandi famiglie bancarie di Firenze, i Bardi e i Peruzzi. Debiti equivalenti a molte volte l’intero PIL d’Inghilterra all’epoca. Ma, si sa, i banchieri non cedono mai un mutuo senza una garanzia. Quale garanzia poteva mai offrire Edward III ai banchieri fiorentini, così sicura da convincerli a trasferire l’equivalente di miliardi di euro nelle casse della Corona d’Inghilterra?

E se quella garanzia fosse… un uomo?


Edward. Il mistero del re di Auramala è un romanzo storico basato sulla ricerca contenuta in questo blog, e precedenti ricerche effettuate dagli storici britannici Ian Mortimer e Kathryn Warner, che ringrazio di cuore per il loro prezioso aiuto.