- We know that John of Gaunt and Henry IV claimed their ancestor, Edmund Crouchback Earl of Lancaster, to have been born before Edward I, however we have sources showing this propaganda to be specious.
- We know Henry III and Eleanor of Provence, to have had five children: Edward, Margaret, Beatrice, Edmund and Katherine. Sources such as the Flores Historiarum have previously attributed four others who apparently died in infancy between 1250 and 1260 but historical analysis (a) has suggested that these were “ghost children” created centuries before Weir begat so many.
- Henry and Eleanor married on 14 January 1236, when she was probably at least twelve, thus of age to consummate the marriage. Edward I was born in mid-June 1239 (b).
Now just suppose that an unrecorded, short-lived child was born earlier, or was even a twin, and that Lancastrian propagandists exploited the situation by trying to pin Crouchback to the earlier birth date? The names of dead children were often “recycled”. Suppose that the doomed infant was also called Edmund? Propaganda is easier to spread when there is an atom of truth behind it.
So we have a very unlikely hypothesis, but the idea of a prominent twin dying soon after birth happened with James II (born 1430 and the younger brother of Alexander). Scientists have discovered planets without travelling to them, purely by studying the magnetic fields of the known ones. We can only postulate, as Pierce did for a “second daughter” to Sir Richard Pole and his wife, Margaret Countess of Salisbury.
(a) The Children of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence (Margaret Howell) in Thirteenth Century England IV, as cited by Kathryn Warner in Blood Roses (ch.1, note 3).
(b) Henry III: Son of Magna Carta (Matthew Lewis) describes Edward I’s birth (ch.9, p.146).