Legends of the Middle Ages
Earl of Cornwall, friend and companion of King Edward II
Piers Gaveston, 1st Earl of Cornwall (1284 – 19 June 1312) was an English nobleman of Gascon origin, and the favourite of King Edward II of England. At a young age he made a good impression on King Edward I of England, and was assigned to the household of the King’s son, Edward of Carnarvon. The prince’s partiality for Gaveston was so extravagant that Edward I sent the favourite into exile, but he was recalled a few months later, after the King’s death led to the prince’s accession as Edward II. Edward bestowed the Earldom of Cornwall on Gaveston, and arranged for him to marry his niece Margaret de Clare, sister of the powerful Earl of Gloucester.
Gaveston’s exclusive access to the King provoked several members of the nobility, and in 1308 the King was again forced to send him into exile. During this absence he served as the King’s Lieutenant of Ireland. Edward managed to negotiate a deal with the opposition, however, and Gaveston returned the next year. Upon his return his behaviour became even more offensive, and by the Ordinances of 1311 it was decided that Gaveston should be exiled for a third time, to suffer outlawry if he returned. When he did return in 1312, he was hunted down and executed by a group of magnates led by Thomas of Lancaster and Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick.