Peter of Savoy (Hardback)
The Little Charlemagne
Where did the story that ended with the great Edwardian castles of north Wales begin? How was it that hundreds of men from Savoy built castles in north Wales? Whose stylised statue sits outside the Savoy Hotel in London on the site of his former palace? Whose castle of Pevensey endured successfully the longest English siege? Why does much of Switzerland speak French to this day? Why do we find elements of the Magna Carta in the Statutes of Savoy? Who was one of the greatest figures of the thirteenth century? Peter of Savoy, known to chroniclers of his homeland as The Little Charlemagne.
Peter of Savoy came to England as the uncle of Queen Alianor de Provence, the consort of King Henry III. He quickly found favour as one of Henry’s closest advisers and noblemen. Peter was in effect Queen Alianor’s right-hand man in England, her protector, and subsequently the protector of Lord Edward, the future King Edward I. He played a key role in Henry’s military and diplomatic efforts to recover his ancestral lands in France which culminated in the 1259 Treaty of Paris. This rapprochement between the Capetians and Plantagenets might have warded off the Hundred Years War, but it was not to be.
Nonetheless, the nineteenth-century monks of Savoy thought it his greatest accomplishment. Peter played a key role in the Second Baronial War which engulfed Henry’s reign, at first siding with Simon de Montfort but then changing sides as the reform movement veered toward xenophobia. Returning to Savoy he laid the foundations for the County of Savoy to become a powerful Duchy which in turn almost became a country before it was dismembered by Switzerland, Italy and France. His historical reputation suffered at the hands of English chroniclers keen to eulogise the Montfortian regime. This work is an attempt to discover the real Peter of Savoy.
Eleanor of Provence was born in the province of her name in 1223. She has come to England at the age of twelve to marry the king, Henry III. He’s sixteen years older, but was a boy when he ascended the throne. He’s a kind, sensitive sort whose only personal attachments to women so far have been to his three sisters. The youngest of them is called Eleanor too. She was only nine when, for political reasons, her first marriage took place, but she’s already a chaste twenty-year old widow when the new queen arrives in 1236. In a short time, this Eleanor will marry the rising star of her brother’s…By Darren Baker
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