The remains of a gay lover of medieval king Edward II have been located by scientists at Hulton Abbey in Staffordshire.
Anthropologist Mary Lewis believes her team have positively identified the body of Sir Hugh Dispenser the Younger, a man once described as “a sodomite, even it is said, with the King.”
Edward, who reigned between 1307 and 1327, had a string of gay relationships and has long provided material for writers and film makers alike.
The homosexual relationship between the King and Piers Gaveston has been the subject of several books and works of fiction.
Gaveston met an untimely end, stabbed to death by the King’s enemies.
Sir Hugh Dispenser suffered an even worse fate than Gaveston. A notorious criminal, he was hung, drawn and quartered.
“This form of public execution was high theatre that aimed to demonstrate the power of government to the masses,” Miss Lewis told The Telegraph.
“High treason dictated that the perpetrator should suffer more than one death.
“Dating of the Hulton Abbey skeleton indicates that he died no later that 1385, when this brutal and very public form of execution was handed out only to the most notorious political prisoners.
“This suggests that the skeleton at Hulton Abbey was a well-known political figure.
“If the remains are those of Sir Hugh Despenser the Younger, then this is the first time such an execution victim has been identified.”
Gay director Derek Jarman’s 1991 film Edward II portrayed the complicated relationships between Gaveston, the King and his wife Queen Isabella.
The Serpentine Gallery is hosting a retrospective of Derek Jarman’s work from the 23rd February to the 13th April.
Curated by artist Isaac Julien, it will showcase many elements of Jarman’s artistic work both in terms of painting and film
Details about the exhibition can be found on on their website or by calling 020 7402 6075.
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