Isabella and the Strange Death of Edward II
by Paul Doherty.
Robinson 2004 (2003).
On the one and only time I visited Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, way back in the sixties, the chamber where Edward II was reputedly murdered was billed as a highlight of the tour.
Later, as a student at Southampton University in 1969, I remember Ian McKellen playing Edward II in Marlowe’s play of the same name, raising shocked intakes of breath as he entered planting a kiss on the lips of the King’s favourite, Piers Gaveston.
The notorious manner of the king’s death — “by a red hot poker being thrust up into his bowels” according to the contemporary Swynbroke chronicle — often overshadows the complicated life and reign of Edward. Paul Doherty’s study promised a new look not only at Edward but also at Isabella, the wife he was betrothed to when both were still young.