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Feb 23, 2014 Written by 

His death in Berkeley Castle, truth, tradition, doubts

The entrance to Edoard II's prison in Berkeley Castle The entrance to Edoard II's prison in Berkeley Castle

Many of you will have heard of how Edward II supposedly met a gruesome death in Berkeley Castle later that year. Reports at the time indicated that his death was due to natural causes, but word soon got out that he had been murdered. As the years passed, the story of his murder was embroidered with apocryphal details, and still today the idea that he was killed by means of a red hot poker has an unshakeable place in the popular imagination.

The ex-king was given a state funeral, though his features were hidden during the procession by a funeral mask, for the first time in English history. His body was buried in what is now Gloucester Cathedral, and a magnificent Gothic monument was later raised over his tomb. Since his death was announced, rumours to the effect that Edward II did not die in 1327 have always persisted. The Archbishop of York was convinced of it. Edward II’s half-brother, Edmund, Earl of Kent, became the protagonist of a failed attempt to free the King from a castle where he believed the old King was being kept prisoner in 1330. He was executed by Mortimer for his efforts. Even the Pope at the time believed that Edward II might not be dead. But surely the most astonishing version of events is that outlined in the famous Fieschi Letter, the letter that Manuele de Fieschi addressed to Edward II’s son, Edward III.

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