Saturday, 28 May 2011

Famous swimmers: Edward II

Much maligned, and apparently seriously misrepresented in Mel Gibson's movie, Braveheart, Edward II was born at Caernarvon on 25 April 1284 and died, murdered (probably at the behest of his wife and her lover) at Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire on 21 September 1327.

Edward was entirely unconventional. His long-term lover was a man, Piers Gaveston. His interests were un-kingly, ranging from rowing, estate management (including digging his own ditches), music and swimming.

He liked mixing it with common people, and according to a written source "spent a month swimming and rowing in the Fens in 1315 ....with a great company of common people.”    (Flores Historiarum, ed. H. R. Luard, vol. iii (1890), p. 165.)

Swimming was considered far less than appropriate for a King, and was not a common activity.

I wonder how he learned, and what motivated him?

I first read about Edward II's swimming proclivities in this book, Haunts of the Black Masseur: the swimmer as hero, by Charles Sprawson (1992). I'll do a review and separate blog entry on this book at some time

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