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The Most Infamous Impostors in History

The King, the Cat and the Devil

Much like with Lord Gordon-Gordon, little is known about the past of our next deceiver John Deydras (sometimes referred to as John of Powderham). It’s thought he might have been the son of a tanner and worked for sometime as a clerk. What we do know is that he made an audacious claim, a royally dangerous one at that.

The year was 1318 and into Beaumont Palace in Oxford walked a one eared man with quite a story to tell. He would actually claim to be the real son of the late King Edward I, more commonly known as Edward Longshanks due to his unusual height for the time or The Hammer of the Scots (you don’t need an explanation for that one) and that the current monarch was in fact an impostor.

When asked to elaborate on this most fantastical of stories he duly obliged. He claimed that when he was an infant, a sow bit off his ear while he was playing in the castle courtyard. Fearing that she would be severely punished for her carelessness, his nanny substituted him with another boy from the village who just so happened to end up becoming Edward II of England.

Of course Deydras had absolutely zero proof of this claim and thankfully for him the actual Edward II was said to have been amused by this and, given that nobody took the story seriously, the king may have even wanted to spare the man and keep him as his court jester. To make such a claim was to essentially sign your own death warrant.

Unfortunately for Deydras, the King’s wife, Queen Isabella, did not share her husbands sense of humor and was said to be “unspeakably annoyed” by this stunt, she wasn’t called She-Wolf of France because of her demure demeanor. Despite the King’s amusement, this was not a good time for him as well.

He had become deeply unpopular due to weak leadership and series of colossal military failures against the Scots led by Robert the Bruce. His marriage of convenience with Isabella was not so convenient for her and distractions like this were far from needed. So the Queen decided something had to be done about this pretender to the throne.

Deydras was finally arrested and brought before Edward at Northampton were not only did he reiterate his claim but insulted the King and challenged him to single combat. Edward would not see the funny side of this impudent challenge to his lineage and rule.

So instead of taking the throne, he would be tortured instead. Under torture, he confessed that the whole thing had been a lie, claiming that he had been put up to it by his cat who was actually a demon. Sadly for his cat, they were both hanged and burned.

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