Edmund Fitzalan, 2nd Earl of Arundel

Born: May 1, 1285

Marlborough, Wiltshire, England

Died: November 17, 1326

Hereford, Herefordshire, England (Age 41)

Arundel in History

Information is sparse for the upbringing of Edmund Fitzalan, but he became Earl of Arundel upon his father's death in 1302 and was granted his full inheritance when he came of age (1306). When Edward II came to the throne the following year and recalled his exiled favorite Piers Gaveston (creating him Earl of Cornwall and bestowing countless rewards on him), Arundel became one of several lords to call for his return to exile. By 1310, Arundel had joined the lords ordainer, who attempting to appeal to the king for more efficient government. Gaveston was temporarily exiled but returned to court in 1312. The magnates, furious, rebelled against the king, and Gaveston was ultimately captured and beheaded. Arundel was pardoned for his offenses the following year but was still an avid opponent of Edward II's government, refusing to provide troops for the Scottish expedition (1314) which culminated in the king's humiliating defeat at Bannockburn by a considerably smaller Scottish army. With this defeat, the king lost most of his credibility (not that he had much in the first place) and became a puppet of the magnates, most notably his cousin, the Earl of Lancaster.

Over the following years, Arundel seems to have become disillusioned with Lancaster's leadership (the earl, despite his triumphs over the king, was no leader) and slowly but surely switched his allegiance to the royal party, becoming an advocate for peace between the two factions. This policy was effective for a number of years, but by 1321, the growing influence of the Despensers in England's government once again alienated the nobility. Arundel remained completely loyal to the king and played a major role in the subduing of the rebellion in the Welsh marches (led by the Mortimers) and at the royal victory at Boroughbridge, which saw the defeat, capture and subsequent execution of the Earl of Lancaster. As a result of his loyal services, Arundel shared in the spoils of the fallen lords, greatly increasing his own wealth. Arundel continued to serve the king and even married his son to the daughter of Hugh Despenser the younger. However, when Queen Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer (who had escaped from prison) invaded England with intentions of deposing the king (1326), Arundel's fate was sealed. He became a primary target for the rebels and was captured and promptly beheaded. Though the royal party would ultimately gain the victory over the rebels under Edward III (1330), it was simply not quickly enough for the Earl of Arundel.

Arundel in Marlowe

Appears in: Edward II

The Earl of Arundel appears briefly in Edward II. First, he is seen pleading to the rebel lords, on the king's behalf, to allow him to see Gaveston before he is executed. Historically, Arundel was a staunch opponent of the king's favorite and most certainly would not have been intervening on his behalf. The earl is then seen informing the king and his party of Gaveston's death and the method in which it came by. Arundel seems to be the only magnate within the play whose allegiance does not waver from the king, a role he took on in the second half of Edward II's reign, historically.


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