Edward II, a red-hot poker or a 14th century myth?

Edward II died at Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire on 21st September 1327 and is buried at Gloucester Cathedral.

Edward II being crowned.

According to legend, he was murdered by being held down and having a red-hot poker inserted inside his backside, with his screams being heard miles away.  This cruel torture was most probably devised as punishment for his presumed sexual acts with men.

The method of murder was never stated officially and the men involved in it never spoke about it publicly, and 14th century chroniclers rushed to fill the gap with their own ideas. Some say merely that Edward II died at Berkeley without saying how, others that he died of natural causes, one that he was alive in the morning and dead in the evening, one that he died of illness, another that he died of sorrow and yet another that he was murdered ‘by a trick’.  Suffocation, strangulation and ‘either a natural death or by the violence of others’ are also given.

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Berkeley Castle.

So on the one hand, we have every 14th century chronicler stating that Edward II died at Berkeley Castle in September 1327, even if the wide variation in the causes of death they give indicates that few or any of them really knew what had happened, and the parliament of November 1330 presided over by Edward III himself stating that his father had been murdered.

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