Piers Gaveston 1st Earl of Cornwall
(Abt 1284-1312)


Family Links

1. Margaret de Clare

2. Unknown

Piers Gaveston 1st Earl of Cornwall

  • Born: Abt 1284
  • Marriage (1): Margaret de Clare on 1 Nov 1307
  • Marriage (2): Unknown
  • Died: 19 Jun 1312 about age 28

  General Notes:

Piers Gaveston, 1st Earl of Cornwall (c. 1284 - 19 June 1312) was the alleged lover of King Edward II of England.

A Gascon by birth, Piers was the son of Sir Arnaul de Gabaston, a soldier in service to King Edward I of England. As a boy he entered the royal household, where he became a companion of Prince Edward in 1300. Prince Edward was delighted with the bold and witty Gaveston, and gave him many honours and gifts. This did not sit well with the king, who did not approve of his son's choice of such a low-born companion. When Prince Edward asked to bestow Ponthieu upon Gaveston, Edward I is reputed to have angrily refused.

King Edward then banished Gaveston who took residence at Scarborough Castle. He forced Prince Edward and Piers to swear an oath never to see one another again without his permission. Then Piers set sail for France, loaded down with many rich gifts from the prince. But as soon as his father died in July 1307, the new king recalled his "Brother Perrot" and endowed him with the county of Cornwall.

Gaveston was married to Margaret de Clare, a granddaughter of King Edward I and was created Earl of Cornwall by the king. He held lavish entertainments at Wallingford Castle. He was made guardian of the realm when Edward had to leave the country in 1308 to marry Isabella of France. Gaveston was unpopular with the new queen as well as with the nobles, and the two men, who were of approximately the same age, may have had a homosexual relationship.

Following his bungling of the coronation arrangements, Gaveston was sent away to Ireland as regent. He returned within the year, and made more enemies, the most powerful of whom was Thomas Plantagenet, 2nd Earl of Lancaster, a cousin of the King, whom Gaveston defeated in a tournament. Lancaster led opposition to Edward, forcing him to send Gaveston into exile yet again. When he returned, he was captured and beheaded by his rivals, including Guy de Beauchamp, 10th Earl of Warwick, at Kenilworth, Warwickshire. He would shortly be replaced in the king's affections by Hugh le Despenser.

Gaveston is a major character in Christopher Marlowe's play Edward II.

One of the more flamboyant dining clubs at Oxford University is named after him.

Piers married Margaret de Clare, daughter of Gilbert 'the Red Earl' de Clare and Joan of Acre Plantagenet Princess of England, on 1 Nov 1307. (Margaret de Clare was born in 1292 in Tunbridge Castle, Kent, England and died on 9 Apr 1342 in France.)

Piers next married.

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