Non scherziamo di fatto parlando di wikileaks e un re medievale… La lettera Fieschi potrebbe benissimo essere precisamente quello, una fuga di notizie del medioevo ad opera di un’ammanuense che non volle che il mondo perdesse traccia di una storia davvero incredibile, ovvero la seconda vita di Edoardo II, Re d’Inghilterra. E’ la lettera di Manuele Fieschi, uno dei notai personali di Papa Benedetto XII, indirizzato al figlio di Edoardo II, Edoardo III, per dirgli che suo padre non era morto, bensì scappato dai sicari mandati ad ucciderlo a Berkeley nel 1327 per diventare un eremita in Italia, specificamente nella Valle Staffora, nell’Oltrepò Pavese. Il fatto che questo documento sia sopravvissuto, quando la stra-maggioranza dei documenti dell’epoca sono andati persi, per noi potrebbe indicare davvero un wikileaks medievale, non il solo caso. Quanto al bonarda… non esisteva ancora. Ma siamo sicuri che anche i vini dell’epoca erano altrettanto gustosi!
Edoardo II è passato alla storia come il re che preferiva i cortigiani di sesso maschile a sua moglie, Isabella di Francia. Ci sono però fonti che raccontano una storia molto più intrigante e complessa. Ad esempio, nel giugno del 1313: Edward e Isabella sono in Francia in visita ufficiale. Il padiglione di seta dove la coppia reale è alloggiata, prende fuoco una notte. I cronisti raccontano che Edward prese in braccio sua moglie e la portò al sicuro. Ne uscirono ustionati, soprattutto la regina. E ciò non sorprende… dato che erano nudi entrambi. Poiché all’epoca normalmente non si dormiva nudi, e re e regina trascorrevano la notte in camere diverse, con la servitù presente nella stessa stanza… bene, se l’incendio fosse scoppiato quando loro dormivano vestiti e separati, sicuramente sarebbe stata la servitù a portare in salvo la regina… vestita. Quindi, mentre è sicuro che Edward abbia amato alla follia certi uomini nella sua vita, è altrettanto chiaro che ha amato con passione anche sua moglie, Isabella.
In questa pagine potete scoprire la Lettera Fieschi e il suo racconto straordinario in dettaglio.
Full-page photograph of the Fieschi Letter
We wish to thank the staff of the Archives départementales de l’Hérault, Montpellier, for their kind help and permission to use photographs taken of archival material in their possession.
Ringraziamo gli Archives départementales de l’Hérault, Montpellier, per la grande gentilezza che ci hanno mostrato, e di averci concesso di pubblicare questa fotografia della Lettera Fieschi.
Elena Corbellini on the transcription of the Fieschi Letter:
I have created the following transcription using the the various photographs and latest scanned image kindly supplied to me by the Archives de l’Hérault of Montpellier. Of the (very few) existing transcriptions, only that of Cuttino and Lyman(1) (CL) differs from that of Germain, at least as far as I have seen. A copy of this was posted on our site at the beginning, but errors crept in as a result of digitalization, which compounded original printing errors.
I propose this transcription above all for reasons of utility, as the basis for all textual references from now onwards (form, language, content, etc). I employed the following criteria, as a consequence of certain differences also with CL.
1. Uppercase letters and punctuation inserted, as in the previous ‘historical’ transcriptions.
2. All abbreviations have been expanded in a homogeneous way. Nevertheless, I have maintained the alternation between cum and con where it is evident from the type of abbreviation or explicit, and I have resolved the isolated abbreviation for conjunctions or prepositions (= cum, con, chon, cun) always as ‘cum’.
3. I have maintained the oscillation in the desinences of the cases, also when they denote the destination of movement. I have indicated the final m of the accusative indicating the destination of movement only where an abbreviaiton was possible.
4. All alterations present in the writing out of the text by the scribe, such as cancellations and additions, are indicated in the footnotes. This is not only for the sake of rigor, but also because I believe they lead to interesting observations, to be explored in the analysis. And naturally, if other people wish to make observations, it will be a pleasure.
Premessa a Trascrizione Lettera Fieschi.
L’ho effettuata sulle diverse foto e sull’ultima scansione fornitami cortesemente dagli Archives de l’Hérault di Montpellier. Confrontata con le altre (poche) edite, delle quali solo quella di Cuttino e Lyman (CL) si differenzia dalla prima di Germain, almeno a quanto ho visto. Una copia di questa era stata data qui all’inizio, ma vi erano entrati anche errori e strani refusi di trasferimento a computer e qualche errore di stampa originario che si è riprodotto.
Per quanto io la proponga soprattutto in funzione di utilità, da tenere come base per riferimenti testuali diversi da ora in poi (forma, lingua, contenuto, ecc.) e sia certamente da migliorare, mi sento in dovere di indicare almeno alcuni criteri che ho seguiti, per via di alcune differenze anche con CL.
1. Normalizzate le maiuscole e inserita la punteggiatura, come nelle precedenti trascrizioni ‘storiche’.
2. Ho sciolte tutte le abbreviazioni in maniera omogenea. Tuttavia ho lasciato l’alternanza cum/ con nelle forme evidenti per tipo di abbreviazione o perché esplicite, e risolta l’abbreviazione isolata per congiunzione o preposizione (= cum, con, chon, cun) sempre in cum.
3. Ho mantenuto le oscillazioni nelle desinenze dei casi, anche per i complementi di luogo. Ho indicato la (m) dell’accusativo di moto a luogo solo dove era possibile un’abbreviazione.
4. Ho messo in nota le alterazioni nella scrittura del testo: cancellazioni, aggiunte. Non solo per un minimo di rigore, ma anche perché mi sembra comportino osservazioni interessanti, che intendo proporre presto. E naturalmente se verranno da altri… sarà un piacere.
English translation of the Fieschi Letter
In the name of the Lord, Amen. That which I heard of the confession of your father I wrote by my own hand and afterwards I took care to make it known to your highness. First he says that feeling England in subversion against him, afterwards on the admonition of your mother, he withdrew from his family in the castle of the Earl Marshal by the sea, which is called Chepstow. Afterwards, driven by fear, he took a barque with lords Hugh Despenser and the Earl of Arundel and several others and made his way by sea to Glamorgan, and there he was captured, together with the said Lord Hugh and Master Robert Baldock; and they were captured by Lord Henry of Lancaster, and they led him to the castle of Kenilworth, and others were kept elsewhere at various places; and there he lost the crown by the insistence of many. Afterwards you were subsequently crowned on the feast of Candlemas next following. Finally they sent him to the castle of Berkeley. Afterwards the servant who was keeping him, after some little time, said to your father: Lord, Lord Thomas Gurney and Lord Simon Bereford, knights, have come with the purpose of killing you. If it pleases, I shall give you my clothes, that you may better be able to escape. Then with the said clothes, as night was near, he went out of the prison; and when he had reached the last door without resistance, because he was not recognised, he found the porter sleeping, whom he quickly killed; and having got the keys of the door, he opened the door and went out, with his keeper who was keeping him. The said knights who had come to kill him, seeing that he had thus fled, fearing the indignation of the queen, even the danger to their persons, thought to put that aforesaid porter, his heart having been extracted, in a box, and cunningly presented to the queen the heart and body of the aforesaid porter as the body of your father, and as the body of the said king the said porter was buried in Gloucester. And after he had gone out of the prisons of the aforesaid castle, he was received in the castle of Corfe with his companion who was keeping him in the prisons by Lord Thomas, castellan of the said castle, the lord being ignorant, Lord John Maltravers, lord of the said Thomas, in which castle he was secretly for a year and a half. Afterwards, having heard that the Earl of Kent, because he said he was alive, had been beheaded, he took a ship with his said keeper and with the consent and counsel of the said Thomas, who had received him, crossed into Ireland, where he was for nine months. Afterwards, fearing lest he be recognised there, having taken the habit of a hermit, he came back to England and landed at the port of Sandwich, and in the same habit crossed the sea to Sluys. Afterwards he turned his steps in Normandy and from Normandy, as many, going across through Languedoc, came to Avignon, where, having given a florin to the servant of the pope, sent by the said servant a document to Pope John, which pope had him called to him, and held him secretly and honourably for a further fifteen days. Finally, after various discussions, all things having been considered, permission having been received, he went to Paris, and from Paris to Brabant, from Brabant to Cologne so that out of devotion he might see The Three Kings, and leaving Cologne he crossed over Germany, that is to say, he headed for Milan in Lombardy, and from Milan he entered a certain hermitage of the castle of Milascio, in which hermitage he stayed for two years and a half; and because war overran the said castle, he changed himself to the castle of Cecima in another hermitage of the diocese of Pavia in Lombardy, and he was in this last hermitage for two years or thereabouts, always the recluse, doing penance and praying to God for you and other sinners.
In testimony of which I caused my seal to be affixed for the consideration of Your Highness. Your Manuele de Fieschi, notary the lord pope, your devoted servant.
Traduzione italiana della Lettera Fieschi
In nome di Dio, amen. Le cose che ascoltai dalla confessione di vostro padre scrissi di mia propria mano e quindi procurai di portare a conoscenza della signoria vostra. Prima dice che, venendo a sapere l’Inghilterra in rivolta contro di lui, a seguito della minaccia di vostra madre, si allontanò dai suoi nel castello del Conte Maresciallo (il Conte di Norfolk) sul mare, che si chiama Gesosta (Chepstow). In seguito, spinto dal timore, salì su una barca con i signori Ugo Dispensario (Hugh Despenser) e il conte di Arundel e alcuni altri, e sbarcò a Glomorga (Glamorgan) sul mare, e qui fu catturato, insieme con il suddetto signor Ugo e maestro Roberto di Baldoh (Baldock) e furono presi dal signor Enrico di Longo Castello (Lancaster); e lo condussero nel castello di Chilongurda (Kenilworth) e altri furono (condotti) altrove a luoghi differenti. E qui perse la corona su richiesta di molti. In seguito, di conseguenza, foste incoronato nella vicina festa di santa Maria della Candelora. Infine lo mandarono al castello di Berchelee (Berkeley). In seguito il servo che lo custodiva, dopo qualche tempo, disse a vostro padre: “ Signore, il signor Thomas de Gornay e il signor Symon Desberfort, cavalieri, vennero per uccidervi. Se siete d’accordo, vi darò i miei vestiti, perché possiate fuggire più facilmente. Allora, con i detti vestiti, sul far della notte, fuggì dalla prigione; ed essendo giunto fino all’ultima porta senza opposizione, poiché non lo (ri)conoscevano, trovò il portinaio che dormiva, che senza esitare uccise; e, prese le chiavi della porta, aprì la porta ed uscì, e anche il suo custode, che lo custodiva. Vedendo i detti cavalieri, che erano venuti per ucciderlo, che era così fuggito, temendo l’indignazione della regina e il pericolo per le persone (loro stessi), decisero di mettere questo detto portinaio, estrattogli il cuore, in una cassa. E il cuore e il corpo del predetto portinaio come (fosse) il corpo di vostro padre astutamente presentarono alla regina, e come corpo del re il detto portinaio fu sepolto a Glocesta (Gloucester). E dopo che uscì dalla prigione del sopraddetto castello, fu accolto nel castello di Corf con il suo amico che lo custodiva nella prigionia, dal signor Thomas, castellano del detto castello, senza che lo sapesse il signor (signor) Johann Maltravers, signore del detto Thomas, nel cui castello stette segretamente per un anno e mezzo. In seguito, sentito che il conte del Canzio (di Kent), poiché aveva detto che lui era vivo, era stato decapitato, si imbarcò su una nave con il suo predetto custode, anche per volontà e consiglio del detto Thomas che lo aveva accolto, e passò in Irlanda, dove fu per nove mesi. In seguito, temendo di essere lì riconosciuto, preso l’abito di un eremita, ritornò in Inghilterra e approdò al porto di Sandvic (Sandwich) e in quello stesso abito passò il mare presso Sclusa (Sluys). In seguito si spostò in Normandia e dalla Normandia, come molti fanno, passando per la Linguadoca, venne ad Avignone, dove, dato un fiorino a un servo del papa, mandò per il detto servo una missiva al papa Giovanni, il quale papa lo fece chiamare a sé, e lo tenne segretamente con onori per oltre quindici giorni. Infine, dopo varie discussioni, esaminate tutte le questioni, ricevuta licenza, andò a Parisius (Parigi) e da Parisius in Braybantia (Brabante), dalla Braybantia a Colonia per vedere i tre re per motivo di devozione, e partendo da Colonia attraverso la Germania passò ovvero si diresse a Milano in Lombardia, e da Milano entrò in un eremitorio del castello (feudo) di Melazzo (o Mulazzo), nel quale eremitorio rimase per due anni e mezzo; e poiché al detto castello arrivò la guerra, si spostò nel castello (feudo) di Cecima, in un altro eremitaggio della diocesi di Pavia in Lombardia, e fu in questo ultimo rifugio per due anni all’incirca, sempre in ritiro, facendo penitenza, e pregando Dio per voi e gli altri peccatori. In testimonianza di ciò, stabilii si ponesse il sigillo in considerazione della vostra maestà.
Il vostro Manuele Fieschi, notaio del signore papa, devoto vostro servitore.
(traduzione di Elena Corbellini)
Word-for-word translation of the part of the Fieschi Letter which recounts the later life of King Edward II
You will find in brackets prepositions, pronouns and other words that are implicit in the case or tense of the Latin word being translated. We would love you to check the text with your trusty Latin-English dictionary, but you should look for the words NOT in brackets in the English.
|and||after||(he) exited||(the) prison||(of the) castle||aforementioned|
|(he) was||received||in||(the) castle||of||Corf||with||friend|
|his||which||gaurded||him||in||(the) prison||by means of|
|sir||Thomas||(the) castellan||(of the) said||castle|
|(being) ignorant||(the) lord||sir||John|
|in||which||castle||secretly||(he) was||for||(a) year||with|
|half||afterwards||heard||that||(the) count||(of) Kent||because|
|(he) had said||him||to live||(he) had been||decapitated||ascended|
|(had) received||and||crossed||to||Ireland||where||(he) was||for|
|(he) might be recognised||received||(the) habit||(of) a||hermit|
|(he) returned||to||England||and||(he) landed||at||(the) port|
|of||Sandwich||and||in||that same||habit||(he) crossed|
|by sea||at||Sluys||afterwards||(he) directed||steps|
|crossing||through||Lingua||d’Oc||(he) came||(to) Avignon|
|where||given||a||floren||(to) one||servant||(of the) Pope|
|everything||received||license||(he) went||(to) Paris||and||from|
|(he) could see||iii||kings||due to||devotion||and||leaving|
|(he) came||to Milano||in||Lombardy||and||from|
|Milan||(he) entered||a certain||hermitage||(of) castle|
|to||castle||Cecima||in||another||hermitage||(of the) diocese|
|(of) Pavia||in||Lombardy||and||(he) was||in||this||last|
|In||of which||testimony||(my) seal||(for the) contemplation|
|(of) your||lordship||(I) ordered||attached.|
|Your||Manuel||of||Fieschi||(of the) lord||Pope|
by Kevin McKenzie
Today we are proud to publish a major new post by Kevin McKenzie, who has been making invaluable contributions to The Auramala Project over the last year. A wizard in genealogy and heraldry – a field of study that none of us at the Project knew anything about at all until Kevin enlightened us – he has helped us bring the family tree of Eleanor of Castile’s matrilineal descendants up to the 18th generation, and has applied formidable reasoning to many problems involving inter-family relations that have perplexed us for some time. Such as, for example, the question of Cardinal Luca Fieschi’s parentage, but more on that in another post. Here is his superb work on a totally unexpected connection between Edward II and the Genoese. Ed.
As a descendant of Edward II (many times over), of Hugh Despenser the Younger and of Thomas Lord Berkeley, when I came across the work of the Auramala Project I found it to be an imaginatively put together, utterly compelling and meticulously sourced piece of research, and the Project’s subject matter particularly appealed to me for these obvious personal reasons. (Because I am both a lawyer by profession and an amateur historian – who perhaps because of my training is never inclined to accept received wisdom unquestioningly or without careful verification in the primary sources – I also found the Project’s research methodology extremely attractive). Of course, if we look sufficiently diligently, it is inevitable that many of us in Britain will find these same individuals within their large pool of mediaeval ancestors (the statistical likelihood is that more than 99% of indigenous Britons descend from King Edward III), and it was only whilst carrying out genealogical research into another of my (at first sight less distinguished and to me therefore more interesting) family lines that I stumbled across information which I thought might prove a useful contribution to the Project. This was in fact basically a spin-off from my research into the ancestry of my great great great grandfather, Thomas Macdonough Grimwood, a grocer and law clerk, born in late 1817 in Sudbury in Suffolk.
Thomas’s father, Captain Joseph Grimwood (brother to a Suffolk rector and cousin of an admiral friend of Lady Nelson whose sister was an early gothic novelist), was a timber merchant and tea dealer who, having brought the family to London by the mid-1830s, seems soon to have ended up, after losing an Admiralty case relating to the enforceability of a guarantee of the cost of repairs to his ship (which had been wrecked on a voyage to Tasmania), in a debtor’s prison (probably the Marshalsea). By the early 1840s, Thomas and his younger brother were living close to the Marshalsea and appear to have become law clerks with the purpose of trying to rescue their father, but by 1842 their mother, the daughter of a wealthy packet captain (who in 1814 had helped restore the Bourbon monarchy by making a special voyage to return Louis XVI’s exiled brother Charles to the Continent so as to rule pending the return of the gout-ridden Louis XVIII, and who had funded Thomas’s clothing and education by means of a trust of monies which he had loaned to the poet Wordsworth’s cousin), was already in the Shoreditch workhouse. Their father, when at some point he left the prison, was living in the nearby squalid Mint Street, showing up in the 1851 census as a “waste paper dealer”; one brother Cornelius was to die of cholera; and Thomas himself, now a “dock porter”, was to die the next year, 1852, aged only 34, of tuberculosis.
But to see the relevance of Thomas’s family history to the Auramala Project we must leap back a few centuries, to the early 14th Century, and look at a member of the family who ironically was not an imprisoned debtor, but a money-lender – to the King.
It was in the Gascon Roll “for the 13th year of the reign of Edward, son of King Edward” [ie the 13th year of the reign of Edward II], when researching the likely mediaeval progenitors of Thomas’s Grimwood family ancestors, that I happened to stumble upon the following record (footnote 1):
“For Bertrand de Mur and other merchants
28 January, Westminster
Grant to the merchants of Gascony to whom the King is bound for wine bought in 1318 and 1319 …
The King was lately bound to the merchants of Gascony in the sum of 1545 l 18 s 3 d st, for wine bought to his use by Stephen de Abingdon, his butler in August 1318, whereof he is still bound to … [there then follows a list of names which includes:] to Johan de Latour and Bernat Grimoard in 72 l of 90 l …”.
Elsewhere, in fact in the National Archives at Kew, I found the same Bernat Grimoard – or Bernard Grimward – described in the contemporary records as “an alien merchant of Lincoln” who hailed from “Besace” or “Besaz”, Gascony. This latter is clearly Bazas, near Bordeaux. These are the entries from their catalogue:
Intrigued by the clear suggestion that one of the earliest known individuals possessing an obvious variant of the surname Grimwood had emanated from Gascony, I then turned to further possible clues, both as to Bernard’s origins and his possible connection to the Grimwood family. Part of this detective work led me to Rietstap’s Armorial in the British Library. It soon transpired from this that the coat of arms of the family of Grimal, of Guyenne, Gascony, shows not only in chief the three silver stars on blue of the Grimwood family but also the black imperial or Hohenstaufen eagle displayed of the Grimaldi. Guyenne corresponds to the archbishopric of Bordeaux and included the Bazadais, the territory of Bazas – where Bernard Grimoard, Edward II’s wine merchant based in Lincoln was “of”. Bernard is the German version of the Italian Bernabo and it immediately then struck me that Grimal/Grimald is in fact the surname as originally used by the Grimaldi dynasty, the name Grimaldi simply being the genitive form, so as to denote “of the dynasty of Grimal(d)”.
|Famille de Grimal
D’argent, à l’aigle éployée de sable, au chef d’azur chargé de trois étoiles du champ.
Origine : Guyenne et Gascogne
|Famille de Grimal de La Bessière
D’argent, au lévrier de sable, au chef d’azur, chargé d’un croissant d’argent entre deux étoiles d’or.
Origine : Rouergue et Languedoc
As can be seen, the Sicilian branch of the Grimaldi quarter their arms with the black imperial eagle, which features on a number of versions of Grimaldi, Grimm and Grimal arms which also use the same silver and blue and colours as the Grimwood arms. And here I found another apparent coincidence: what has been described by the family as a martlet appears, holding an oak leaf in its beak, as part of the family crest embossed on the silverware of George Augustus Macdonough Grimwood (first cousin of Thomas Macdonough Grimwood) and his wife Betsy Maria Garrett (herself a first cousin of Dame Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first female doctor, and of Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett, the early pioneer of women’s suffrage).
The coat of arms of the family of Grimal of Guyenne, as can be seen, contains three silver mullets (or stars) on a chief made up of a blue background. This is just like those of the Grimwood coat of arms as registered by a branch of the family (that of Jeffrey Grimwood Grimwood) at the College of Arms in 1851 – but clearly long held prior to that, because I found an unquartered version of the same Grimwood arms in the earliest edition of Burke’s General Armory, dating from 1842 and thus well before this registration – and George Augustus Grimwood who was only an extremely distant cousin of Jeffrey, with their most recent common ancestor living in no later than the 16th or 17th Century, bore the same motto as him of “Auxilio Divino“. This translates as by divine assistance. An alternative translation is “Deo Juvante”, which is the Grimaldi motto. It occurred to me therefore that a black bird, originally intended to depict a black eagle, could easily, over many centuries, have been corrupted into a “martlet”. As if this were not coincidence enough, I then found that the collar of the Monagasque Order of St Charles which surrounds the coat of arms of the Grimaldi Princes of Monaco is made up of oak leaves, and that the mantling of their arms is of ermine, which mirrors that used for the tincture, or heraldic colour, of the bend which appears in the first and fourth Grimwood quarters of the coat of arms, as registered in 1851, of Jeffrey Grimwood Grimwood.
It also seems clear that the 1851 registration was a registration of quartered arms with one quarter termed “Grimwood” – thus implying these latter arms already existed prior to 1851. Over ten years ago, when first researching my grandmother’s Grimwood family ancestry, a visit by me to the College of Arms and discussions with both the College’s archivist and Richmond Herald confirmed that the College does not possess any extant record of these arms as existing before 1851. However this is not surprising, since the College’s foundation only dates from the reign of Richard III and that it would inevitably have no record of arms more ancient than that unless subsequently registered there. The existence of an armorial record for a similar version of the arms of Grimwood in the 1842 edition of Burke’s General Armory and the fact of the individual quarterings which formed part of Jeffrey’s arms as registered in 1851 being styled in their registration as for “Grimwood” act as further confirmation.
GRIMWOOD (R.L., 1851). Quarterly, 1 and 4, azure, a chevron engrailed ermine between three mullets in chief and a saltire couped in base argent (for Grimwood) ; 2 and 3, or, on a chevron gules, between three wolves’ heads erased sable, as many oval buckles of the first. Mantling: azure and argent; Crests – 1. upon a wreath of the colours, a demi-wolf rampant, collared, holding between the paws a saltire; 2. upon a wreath of the colours, a lion’s gamb erased and erect sable, charged with a cross crosslet argent, and holding in the paw a buckle or. Motto – “Auxilio divino.” Son of Jeffrey Grimwood Grimwood, Esq., J. P.
The black eagle “displayed” features in many versions of the Grimaldi coat of arms. It is often shown as on a gold background and so may (as it often does when borne on a chief in Italian arms (footnote 3)) indicate Ghibelline (imperial) allegiance (contrary to the general support of the Grimaldi family – like the Fieschi – for the opposing Guelph (papal) faction – but some families were divided and the Doria for instance, who intermarried, were Ghibelline) or instead perhaps a marriage to an heiress with a descent from the Hohenstaufen emperors – which would exist for instance with any descent from Catarina da Marano. Catarina was an illegitimate daughter of the Hohenstaufen Emperor Frederick II and wife of Giacomo del Carretto whose daughters Aurelia and Salvatica married Lanfranco and Rainier I Grimaldi respectively. Brumisan their sister married Ugo Fieschi and there appears to have been another sister who (as the Auramala Project shows elsewhere) was likely to have been Leonora the wife of Niccolo Fieschi – mother of Cardinal Luca Fieschi and grandmother of Niccolo Malaspina (“il Marchesotto”) of Oramala and his brother Bernabo with his connection to Bordeaux and Bazas.
Because of the similarity in terms of both names and their respective dates, and the heraldry, I had long supposed that this Bernard Grimward could be identical to Bernabo (or Barnaba) Grimaldi (fl. late 13th/early 14th Century) son of Lucchetto Grimaldi and progenitor of the Grimaldi lords of Beuil/Boglio. And I had already noted that Lucchetto’s brother Lanfranco Grimaldi married Aurelia del Carretto, a sister of Brumisan del Carretto – who appears (as is shown elsewhere by the Auramala Project) to have been the likely sister of Leonora, Cardinal Luca Fieschi’s mother.
Ian Mortimer, Ivan Fowler and Kathryn Warner’s ground-breaking research regarding the international connections of these prominent Italian families to Edward’s court now make our latter suggested identification of Leonora an even stronger possibility. Of course many of these people would have been wearing different hats and thus have been described in different ways in different contexts according to the purpose of any particular contemporary record. Thus it would seem we have Bernabo Grimaldi appearing in the Italian records as lord of Beuil or Boglio, as most likely the same person – or at least closely related to – the Bernat Grimoard (or Bernard Grimward) but who later (apparently first recorded in English records in 1286, thus some time considerably after the Grimaldi family’s flight from Genoa in 1271) crops up in the contemporary English records as Edward’s wine merchant and money-lender, trading between Lincoln and Bazas near Bordeaux – and apparently as progenitor or one of the earliest members of a family who established a line of descendants there, that of Grimal of Guyenne, and of a line descendants in East Anglia, the family of Grimwood.
When sharing this genealogical research with Ivan and Kathryn, in order to assist as part of our research to determine precisely how Cardinal Luca Fieschi’s mother Leonora’s family background could have made him a kinsman of Edward – and more particularly upon my sharing the fact that Bordeaux, a city so close to Bazas, appeared on Ivan’s map tracing the Europe-wide influence of the Fieschi against Edward’s travels as noted in the Fieschi Letter – Ivan then gave me an amazing piece of information. He told me that the individual who named Manuele Fieschi executor for his canonry in the diocese of Bordeaux was none other than Bernabò Malaspina, son of Niccolò Marquess of Oramala and Fiesca Fieschi. The canonry was conferred on 24th June 1335; the last executor was the abbot of Saint Croix of Bordeaux and another executor was the bishop of Bazas (Ep.o Vasat. = Episcopo Vasatensis = Bishop of Bazas).
The connection between Bernabo Malaspina and Bazas, and hence to Bernard Grimward, Edward’s wine merchant, was an “eureka moment” because not only do we have the name Bernabo (aka Bernard) cropping up here again (itself indicative of a possible relationship through family naming traditions), but also it is a known fact that Bernabo Malaspina’s mother was Fiesca Fieschi – a sister of Cardinal Luca Fieschi, the very man whose mother Leonora appears through independent research to have been the sister of Brumisan del Carretto. And Bernabo Malaspina would have been the great nephew of Lanfranco Grimaldi, who on the above basis was Bernabo Grimaldi’s uncle.
As Ian Mortimer writes, setting out here a tentative reconstruction of Edward II in Fieschi custody to the end of 1335: “After arrival in Avignon, he passed into the guardianship of his kinsman, Cardinal Fieschi, who sent him by way of Paris and Brabant … to Cologne … and then to Milan (ruled by Azzo Visconti, nephew of Luca’s niece, Isabella Fieschi). From there he was taken to a hermitage near Milasci, possibly Mulasco, where he would have been under the political authority of one of Cardinal Fieschi’s two nephews in the region, either Niccolo Malaspina at Filattiera or Manfredo Malaspina at Mulazzo itself, and the ecclesiastical authority of another nephew, Bernabo Malaspina, bishop of Luni. However, in 1334 troops began to gather for an attack on Pontremoli, which came under siege in 1335, hence the ex-king’s removal to the hermitage of Sant’Alberto, between Cecima and Oramala, an area also under the political influence of Niccolo Malaspina. The bishop for the area – the bishop of Tortona – was Percevalle Fieschi, another member of Cardinal Fieschi’s extensive family”.
And as an eureka moment the implications of this are threefold. Not only did the Grimward/Bazas/Malaspina/Fieschi connection (a) corroborate my own research based on heraldry which directly linked the family of Grimwood to that of the Grimaldi, but this would also (b) lend further support to the identification of Cardinal Luca Fieschi’s mother Leonora as being of the family of del Carretto – and thus explain how Cardinal Luca Fieschi was a king’s kinsman – and (c) explain why Bernard Grimoard/Bernabo Grimaldi was acting as a wine merchant to and lending money to Edward II (footnote 4).
The fact that they were joint creditors for a single debt shows very clearly that Johan de Latour and Bernard Grimoard were partners as merchants, and this Johan de Latour must clearly be a younger son of the family of the Barons de la Tour du Pin. There is also another version of the Grimal of Guyenne coat of arms which appears in Riestap’s Armorial which displays the pine tree of the family of de la Tour du Pin. “Johan Delatour” appears as a fellow wine merchant in conjunction with Bernard Grimoard in the contemporary record. According to The Foundation for Medieval Genealogy‘s pedigree for the Fieschi, a likely unnamed sister of Ugo Fieschi (with his del Carretto wife Brumisan) and Niccolo Fieschi (with his presumed del Carretto wife Leonora) married Albert, Sire de la Tour du Pin: Matthew Paris records that Pope Innocent IV arranged the marriage of his niece to “domino de Tur de Pin” in 1251 and that he accepted his bride “non ratione personæ muliebris, sed pecuniæ eam concomitantis”.
If he is not to be identified as a member of the family of Grimaldi, it seems unlikely to be coincidence therefore that Bernat Grimoard is mentioned in a contemporary record in direct conjunction with a fellow wine merchant named “Johan Delatour”.
As well as their having the same motto as the Grimaldi, and as part of the crest above their coat of arms a black bird which matches the black eagle also used by the Grimaldi, the tower in the de la Tour du Pin coat of arms appears as part of this same crest of the Grimwood family which I have deduced to descend from Bernard Grimward or a near relative of his. So there could well have been marriage to a de la Tour du Pin heiress at some point. Whatever the position, the latter family was clearly allied by marriage in around the mid to late 13th Century with both Bernard the wine merchant’s family and the Fieschi. As we have seen, part of George Augustus Grimwood’s crest was a silver tower – which matches the tower which also appears in the arms of the de la Tour du Pin – surmounted by the black bird holding an oak leaf in its beak, along with the motto “Auxilio Divino”. So this too further corroborates the heraldic evidence both of Bernard being the Grimwood ancestor and of his likely place on the Grimaldi tree – in order for him to have been a de la Tour du Pin cousin – as a younger son of Giacomo Grimaldi and Catarina Fieschi.
The use of the black imperial eagle by the Grimaldi in the various versions of their arms which I have found might perhaps have been part of a later attempt to reconcile with the Ghibelline faction (and I also note that support for the Guelph faction and the Ghibelline faction was apparently not a rigid divide), or it could simply have denoted a descent from the Hohenstaufen via an heiress – such as via Catarina da Marano, the wife of Giacomo del Carretto, who was an illegitimate daughter of the Emperor Frederick II.
In fact Bernat Grimoard, the wine merchant to Edward II, or his father, may well have left Genoa for Bazas and thus appeared in the latter place at the time of the Grimaldi exodus from Genoa. The timing of the banning of the Guelph faction from Genoa (1271) and their seeking refuge in territories outside Italy which were allied with the papacy would fit perfectly. And the fact that Bazas had connections with Bernabo Malaspina and Manuele Fieschi – who were part of the similarly Guelph-supporting Fieschi family which was allied by marriage with the Grimaldi – would also fit perfectly. The general political history of the Grimaldi is well-known. As a ready precis, here is an extract from their Wikipedia entry:
“The Grimaldis feared that the head of a rival Genoese family could break the fragile balance of power in a political coup and become lord of Genoa, as had happened in other Italian cities. They entered into a Guelphic alliance with the Fieschi family and defended their interests with the sword. The Guelfs however were banned from the City in 1271, and found refuge in their castles in Liguria and Provence. They signed a treaty with Charles of Anjou, King of Naples and Count of Provence to retake control of Genoa, and generally to provide mutual assistance. In 1276, they accepted a peace under the auspices of the Pope, which however did not put an end to the civil war. Not all the Grimaldis chose to return to Genoa, as they preferred to settle in their fiefdoms, where they could raise armies.
In 1299, the Grimaldis and their close family the Grosscurth’s [sic] launched a few galleys to attack the port of Genoa before taking refuge on the Western Riviera. During the following years, the Grimaldis entered into different alliances that would allow them to return to power in Genoa. This time, it was the turn of their rivals, the Spinola family, to be exiled from the city. During this period, both the Guelphs and Ghibellines took and abandoned the castle of Monaco, which was ideally located to launch political and military operations against Genoa. Therefore, the tale of Francis Grimaldi and his faction – who took the castle of Monaco disguised as friars in 1297 – is largely anecdotal.”
However, none of the Grimaldi family’s specific, personal political connections during this period appear to have been investigated by historians until now; in the Summer of Britain’s referendum on membership of the European Union, we would do well to remember the inter-European nature of politics and culture even at this early date, inter-European connections as outlined in this article which could clearly not have been invented by the writer of the Fieschi Letter; and it is surely only if it is to be read in total isolation from these and other new finds that the Fieschi Letter can reasonably be dismissed as a forgery or (as some have suggested in the light of the compelling evidence which indicates the contrary) else as a rather crude (and unexplained) attempt at falsification and blackmail.
- A complete copy of this record can be found online in the Gascon Rolls Project.
This silverware belongs to Adrian Grimwood, who lives in Kenya, is a distant cousin of mine and is a direct descendant of George Augustus Grimwood.
Guelph allegiance was often indicated instead by having in chief three gold fleur de lis on a blue background.
The Lincoln connection is also interesting in the light of Manuele Fieschi’s connection to that city too – although it could of course simply be that a supplier of wine to the King being based there was inevitable as it was an important centre of Edward’s court. Indeed, it was on 23rd September 1327, when he was at Lincoln, that Edward III received a letter from Lord Berkeley stating that Edward II had died on 21st September at Berkeley Castle.
Non c’è dubbio che il grande amore della vita di Edoardo II fu Piers Gaveston. Un cavaliere nobile della Guascogna, era atletico, forte, un valente combattente, e soprattutto bello e spiritoso. Amava la festa, la musica, la poesia, il torneo… Era elegantissimo (al punto che, nel 1310, fu redarguito dal parlamento inglese per avere un gusto nel vestire troppo sofisticato!) Edward lo amava alla follia… Gli faceva regali assurdi – certe volte regalandogli castelli, palazzi, terreni… intere contee – ad esempio la contea di Cornovaglia, nel 1307. Infatti, più volte i baroni e conti inglesi, invidiosi e preoccupati, cercarono di seperare i due. Per loro volontà Piers fu esiliato ben tre volte nel corso degli anni, ma sempre Edward trovò l’escamotage per farlo tornare da lui. Piers, certo, non aiutava la propria causa con il suo comportamento. Una volta in un torneo a Wallingford nel 1307, sconfisse tre potenti conti inglesi. Poi si divertiva ad inventare soprannomi per loro, come “pancia scoppiata”; per il conte di Lincoln, che si vede mangiava un po’ troppo. Insomma, Piers Gaveston si faceva odiare a tal punto che, nel 1312 fu catturato e ucciso dai baroni. Per il resto della sua vita, Edward onorava sempre la sua memoria, arrivando a mandare richieste a case monastiche in tutta l’Europa di pregare e dire messa per la sua anima. Onorare la memoria del defunto amore non fu sempre un atto pio, tuttavia. Nel caso specifico del primo anniversario della morte di Piers, ordinò una festa durante la quale ben 54 ballerini francesi si esibirono – nudi! Si vede che Edward cercava una distrazione…
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…
Today we interrupt our series of posts on Manuele Fieschi to tell you about an important event that took place in Pavia last Wednesday, when Kathryn Warner, British historian and biographer of King Edward II and his queen, Isabella of France, was with us in Pavia. We held an accademic debate on the Fieschi Letter and in general the hypothesis of the survival of King Edward II at the Biblioteca Universitaria of Pavia. Present were members of the Auramala Project team, and a number of history professors of the University of Pavia, as well as the general public. Professor Renata Crotti, teacher of Medieval History at the University of Pavia, moderated the event and contributed to the debate.
Elena Corbellini read aloud her new transcription of the Fieschi Letter in Latin, and Mario Traxino read aloud the Italian translation. With his Genoese accent, it really seemed that Manuele Fieschi had entered the room!
Line by line we deconstructed the Fieschi Letter, relying on Kathryn Warner’s encyclopaedic knowledge of 14th century England for the first part of the story, dealing with Edward’s overthrow and imprisonment in England, and then more and more on Auramala Project research as Edward’s steps take him towards Italy.
Line by line, we dissected the Feischi Letter and other evidence for Edward’s survival, such as the Melton Letter, for no less than three exhausting hours. Other university professors and academics present included Prof. Ezio Barbieri, diplomatist, Prof. Luisa Erba, historian, and Prof. Italo Cammarata, historian.
Ironically, even after three hours of debate we still hadn’t managed to debate absolutely everything… But we did make a video of the event, and we will post snippets of the most interesting bits over the coming weeks, so that our followers online can be a part of the debate, too.
This week at the Turin International Book Fair the book trailer Auramala is a finalist for the Antonello Prize for the Best Book Trailer. It is up against a daunting field of short films, many by large and established publishing houses like Mondadori and Feltrinelli, not to mention rock star Ligabue. The book trailer was produced by my old friend Giacomo Sardelli, director of the chilling short film The Ambulance and Further Up Yonder, which caused a sensation on the web back in December 2012 with its breathtaking footage from the International Space Station.
To celebrate being nominated for this award in such a prestigious event, here is a guest post by Giacomo Sardelli, on the making of the trailer. Well done Giacomo, once again your stylish work is being recognized!
How to make a book trailer
Auramala is a grand medieval adventure written by my Australian friend Ivan Fowler. It tells the story of two secret agents in the year 1338, who are on the traces of a mysterious king, whose destiny seems to contradict accepted history. After reading the book I decided that it deserved a book trailer with a cinematic touch, and this is the result.
The book trailer, the locations and the ammonite
Right from the start I wanted the book trailer to have a cinematographic look. Generally, book trailers favour animation and graphics over live action footage. Auramala has the good fortune of being set in a landscape that lends itself to filming, so I decided to base the book trailer of Auramala on two key elements: the location and, to hold the story together, the ammonite.
Ivan has lived in Pavia for years, and has acquired profound knowledge of the the city and its Province, which he loves. The pages of Auramala betray his passion for the Apennines of Pavia, the Oltrepò Pavese, which is as much a protagonist of the book as the human characters. For this reason I inserted into the shooting list some time-lapse sequences taken in the exact location of the book, a region that is still wild enough to allow for fields of view where there are no modern or non-medieval elements whatsoever.
To plan the timing of the shoots, above all for the time-lapse sequence, which can literally take hours, I used The Photographer’s Ephemeris, a neat, free app for PC and Mac, and available for Android and iOS for a fee. TPE allows you to find out exactly what time the sun rises or sets, and on which point of a horizon. An image is worth a thousand words:
Knowing the timing and direction of the sunset, I set up the shoot, deciding on the right angle as soon as I arrived on the spot. I shot the video footage in the surrounding areas when the light was not yet right for the time-lapse sequence, and got back to the spot where I was going to film the sunset just in time to set up the tripod.
Remote controlled slider For the tracking time-lapse shot I used a remote controlled slider that I finished constructing myself just the month before. It’s a bit of an ad hoc, hand-made job, but it does exactly what it’s intended to do, just right. The two motors allow it to slide at a normal speed for a regular tracking shot, but also ultra-slow for time-lapse. I still have to measure it exactly, but roughly speaking it will do a metre in 10-15 minutes on slowest speed. Perfect for a time-lapse sequence. Here is a photo taken with a smartphone on the day of the trial:
The second element I used is the ammonite, which plays a key role in Auramala, so it couldn’t be missing from trailer. It poses a question in viewers’ minds that can be answered by reading the book. The ammonite is in the hand of a character who, in 1338, is fleeing through the woods, and who has to hide it somewhere before his pursuers catch up with him. The sound of bells guides him to the Abbey of Sant’Alberto, where he finds a niche in which to conceal it. For these shots I therefore needed a brick-work niche, and the possibility to age it by 600 years, until the present, when the detective in the trailer discovers the ammonite inside it. I created the niche so as to have total freedom in positioning the camera, and so as to be able to modify it as I pleased. Some moss and dust (from Ivan’s garden and firewood-pile respectively) re-created a 600-year journey through time. Here is the result, the final shot and the mini set.
So, these are the simple techniques I used to achieve the result I wanted. If you have any questions about any other part of the video, I’ll be happy to answer.
Giacomo Sardelli, author of the blog Making Movies, studies Film and New Media at The Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti, “New Academy of Fine Arts”, or NABA, in Milan. After his first-aid adventures with The Ambulance and trip into outer space with the world-recognized Further Up Yonder, he is now working on a documentary in his experiences with a Ugandan tribe, the Karimojong. In the meantime, he has travelled backwards in time ot 1338 with an Australian story teller in search of King Edward II of England, and much else besides.
Old and new friends in Lunigiana
About an hour after leaving the Sanctuary above Mulazzo, I was in Corniglia, in the Cinque Terre, with one of my dearest and oldest friends. Stefano Castagneto has been a fundamental part of the Auramala Project right from the start, with his formidable skills in reading ancient documents and with his encyclopedic memory of the thousands of books and bibliographies he has read. His kitchen window frames a view of the Mediterranean Sea, the cliffs of the Cinque Terre and a white mountain-top church called Montenero, above Riomaggiore. But he and I were concentrated on what was on the table.
Salame, cheese, bread, a kind of ravioli called pansotti in walnut sauce, local vermentino (white wine), and of course everything I had on Mulazzo, its sanctuary and the Fieschis.
“Cut me another piece of salame, I’ll be back in a moment.” Stefano disappeared into his library, and reappeared shortly with a rare-book catalogue. “Here it is, I wanted to buy it myself a few years back, but it costs more than two hundred euro. A biography of Spinetta Malaspina. He was the foremost warlord in the area back in the 1330s. The only thing we know for sure about this ‘Castle Milascio’ is that war overran it. If there was a battle concerning Mulazzo in those years, you’ll find it in this book.”
“Professor Mortimer says the battle was actually a siege, of Pontremoli. Would that make sense, Stefano?”
He thought for a moment, stroking his enormous white moustaches. The salame slice disappeared and his glass was drained. “If it was a siege, yes. The soldiers would have been there for some time, perhaps months, and soldiers need to be fed. Often it was impossible to stop them ransacking the surrounding countryside for food. Mulazzo’s mountain is an easy day’s raiding from Pontremoli if you’re hungry. The Sanctuary would have been at risk.”
After a late night yarning about old times with Stefano, the next morning I was walking through the medieval gates of Mulazzo, on my way to a meeting with two archivists and the director of the Archives and Museum of the Malaspinas of Mulazzo. Francesca Guastalli, Monica Armanetti and Dario Manfredi, respectively. A short time later we were sitting in front of the ruins of Mulazzo Castle, and they were listening open-mouthed to the story I was telling them. Finally, Monica Armanetti replied.
“So the English researcher, Mortimer, essentially joined up the family dots? It was a Fieschi who wrote the letter, and the Margrave of Mulazzo was the nephew of Cardinal Fieschi, the head of the family. The Margrave of Oramala, near Cecima, where the King went next, was another nephew. The bishop here in the area of Mulazzo was the brother of the Margrave of Oramala, and the bishop of the area of Oramala was a Fieschi cousin. Put the family connections together, and the Fieschi Letter makes sense… So we might have had an English king here? This is the first we’ve heard of it!”
“I’m double checking Mortimer’s work, and trying to expand on it.” I explained. “I want to verify the information the Fieschi Letter gives. There must have been a war nearby, or directly involving Mulazzo, because the letter says he was moved to the area of Cecima due to conflict. I know there’s a biography of Spinetta Malaspina from 1940. Do you have it?”
“We don’t, but there’s rare book dealer in Bagnone, near here, who has a copy. We’ve often thought of purchasing it for our library. He’s a nice guy, I can take you there. If you tell him about the king, he might let you look at it.”
An hour later, after crossing the broad valley of the Lunigiana, we were knocking on the door of an elegant bookshop on a narrow, paved street in the walled town of Bagnone, where the medieval blends seamlessly with the modern. The gentleman in the bookshop knew Ms Armanetti well. He listened with growing incredulity to the story of Edward II. When he finally understood why we had come, he brought us the biography of Spinetta Malaspina, handling it with near-reverence.
“It’s a beautiful volume,” he told us “a supreme work of scholarship, which reports the original source documents in full, and has an exahustive analytical index. The only problem is that the signatures are unopened.” Ouch. Rare books are often worth more if unread, and one way to show that a book is unread is to leave the pages of the signatures uncut. It means that either you cut the pages open, or only one page out of every four is legible. This was where the pleading began. I was asking him to potentially reduce the value of a two-hundred-plus euro book.
“This is a fundamental moment in solving a mystery surrounding the death of a medieval king…” I began earnestly. Ms Armanetti chimed in “I’ve listened to all the evidence, and I really think there’s something in it. You don’t need to cut open all of the book, just the pages concerning the mid-1330s…”
In the end, bless him, he cut the pages.
The siege of Pontremoli
I sat there for a while, carefully making notes about the movements of local warlords in the 1330s, and writing down references. There was indeed an armed conflict at Pontremoli, very near Mulazzo(1). This siege was the final act in the feud between the Rossi family and the Da Correggio family, both of Parma. The two parties had reached a peace accord in June 1335. The peace was broken on May 8th, 1336, when the Rossi family fled Parma under accusations of attempting to murder a member of the Da Correggio clan, a certain Mastino. They escaped to Pontremoli, but Simone da Correggio and his ally Spinetta Malaspina laid siege to Pontremoli one month later, on June 13th, 1336. The battle for the town lasted until late October of the same year(3).
A contemporary chronicle makes a striking statement about this conflict: it calls the attacking soldiers ‘countryside wreckers'(2). This nicely sums up why the sanctuary of Mulazzo, just ten kilometres away, would not have been a safe place anymore for Edward II, if he was there.
The only actual armed conflict in the immediate vicinity of Mulazzo in the period described by the Fieschi Letter was the seige of Pontremoli, as Mortimer states. However, Mortimer unfortunately found the wrong year for this siege. He writes that it was in the summer of 1335, but in fact it began on June 13, 1336. Moreover, he speculates that troops would have begun to gather for this siege in late 1334, and it was in this moment that Edward II may have moved from Mulazzo to Cecima. As shown above, however, it would not have been possible to predict the siege of Pontremoli before May 8th, 1336, nor gather troops for it.
The timeline of the Fieschi Letter: a new proposal
All of this is important to the story of Edward II because it means we have to reconsider the timeline for the Fieschi Letter reconstructed by Mortimer in Medieval Intrigue. Mortimer believes Edward II arrived at Mulazzo around the beginning of 1332, then at Cecima in late 1334, so that he had been in Cecima for ‘around two years’, as the letter states, in spring 1336. On April 15th of that year, Niccolinus Fieschi went to London, met Edward III in person, and was simultaneously welcomed to the Royal Council. Mortimer, indeed, believes Niccolinus may have delivered the Fieschi Letter to Edward III on that very occasion.
But now we know that the conflict which Mortimer believed caused Edward II to leave Mulazzo in late 1334 was actually in summer of 1336, after Niccolinus Fieschi went to England to meet Edward III. The text of the Fieschi Letter reveals a clue to this conundrum if we read it carefully. It says that Edward II WAS in the area of Cecima for around two years(4). In other words, at the time of writing he had already left the area of Cecima.
If we go back to the theory that it was Arnaud de Verdale who took the Fieschi Letter to the Emperor in January 1339, this would mean that Edward II must have left the area of Cecima by the end of 1338. Furthermore, a man claiming to be Edward II travelled to Koblenz in September of 1338, where he met Edward III (there will be more on this tantalizing meeting in future, but for now we’re looking at the time-line). If Edward II fled the sanctuary near Mulazzo in June 1336, and then left the area of Cecima in the late summer of 1338, reaching Koblenz in September, it explains why the letter says he had been in Cecima for ‘around two years’, and was no longer there. It fits perfectly.
Mortimer has pointed out that the style of the Fieschi Letter changes drastically at the point in which Edward II leaves Avignon. Up to that point, the description of his journey is very rich in detail. The remaining part of the letter is comparatively lacking in detail, and covers at least five years in just a few, brief lines. This abrupt change is also clear in the English translation. Mortimer has suggested that it is due to the fact that Manuele Fieschi, the author of the letter, was based in Avignon. He would have met Edward II there in person, and heard his story up to that time in detail. Manuele would later have learnt of the ex-king’s remaining odyssey from a third party, perhaps a family member. Auramala Project researchers tend to agree with this interpretation.
After much consideration, we propose that this last section of the letter, the concise summary of the ex-king’s post-Avignon travels, could have been added to an earlier version, which only followed his wanderings up to Avignon, in order to prepare the letter for use as a diplomatic tool by Verdale in his dealings with the Emperor. We propose that this ‘update’ was made after Edward II left Cecima to go to Koblenz and meet his son, thus after late summer, 1338, and before the Pope’s letter to Verdale in January 1339.
Niccolinus Fieschi may have taken the first version of the letter, the story up until Edward II’s visit to Avignon, to Edward III in 1336. Verdale would have taken the second version, updated to his time ner Cecima, to the Emperor in January 1339. It is this second version that we know today, thanks to the anonymous scribe in Verdale’s cathedral of Maguelone, who copied it.
Ian Mortimer himself has seen the research contained in this post, and has made some thought provoking comments about it. Our next post will include a discussion of the points he makes, and a summary of the story so far.
(1) U. Dorini, Un grande feudatario del Trecento: S. M., Firenze 1940, pp 202-204. Concerning the siege of Pontremoli, Dorini makes use of various contemporary documents, including the Cortusi chronicles, and letters of Spinetta Malaspina. Spinetta Malaspina’s itinerary is a dizzying sequence of rapid movements and conflicts. In late 1335 he was involved in an attack against Pisa, before taking Sarzana in a surprise attack with a handful of men and the help of a traitor inside the town, on December 4th, 1335. In the spring of 1336 he was acclaimed governor of Lucca before turning around and leading his soldiers against Pontremoli on June 13th. In late July, while the siege of Pontremoli continued under the direction of Simone da Correggio, Spinetta was already fighting in the Marca Trevigiana, a region north of Venice, roughly 300 km away!
(2) Lit. ‘Guastatori di campagna’ Gio. Maria Ferrari, Cronaca Pontremolese, cit.: P. Bologna, La Storia di Pontremoli in Giornale Storico Letterario della Liguria, V, 1-2, January-February 1904.
(4) The exact text is ‘et fuit in isto ultimo heremitorio per duos annos vel circa’: ‘and he was in this last hermitage for two years or thereabout’. The verb ‘fuit’ is past tense, meaning that at the time of writing he was no longer in the hermitage.