, Edward I

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Edward I
b: 17 JUN 1239
d: 7 JUL 1307
Born in June 1239 at Westminster, Edward was named by his father HenryIII after the last Anglo Saxon king (and his father''s favourite saint),Edward the Confessor. Edward''s parents were renowned for theirpatronage of the arts (his mother, Eleanor of Provence, encouraged HenryIII to spend money on the arts, which included the rebuilding ofWestminster Abbey and a still-extant magnificent shrine to house the bodyof Edward the Confessor). As a result, Edward received a disciplinededucation - reading and writing in Latin and French, with training in thearts, sciences and music.
In 1254, Edward travelled to Spain for an arranged marriage at the age of15 to 9-year-old Eleanor of Castile. Just before Edward''s marriage, HenryIII gave him the duchy of Gascony, one of the few remnants of the oncevast French possessions of the English Angevin kings. Gascony was partof a package which included parts of Ireland, the Channel Islands and theKing''s lands in Wales to provide an income for Edward. Edward then spenta year in Gascony, studying its administration.
Edward spent his young adulthood learning harsh lessons from Henry III''sfailures as a king, culminating in a civil war in which he fought todefend his father. Henry''s ill-judged and expensive intervention inSicilian affairs (lured by the Pope''s offer of the Sicilian crown toHenry''s younger son) failed, and aroused the anger of powerful baronsincluding Henry''s brother-in-law Simon de Montfort. Bankrupt andthreatened with excommunication, Henry was forced to agree to theProvisions of Oxford in 1258, under which his debts were paid in exchangefor substantial reforms; a Great Council of 24, partly nominated by thebarons, assumed the functions of the King''s Council.
Henry repudiated the Provisions in 1261 and sought the help of the Frenchking Louis IX (later known as St Louis for his piety and otherqualities). This was the only time Edward was tempted to side with hischarismatic and politically ruthless godfather Simon de Montfort - hesupported holding a Parliament in his father''s absence. However, by thetime Louis IX decided to side with Henry in the dispute and civil warbroke out in England in 1263, Edward had returned to his father''s sideand became de Montfort''s greatest enemy. After winning the battle ofLewes in 1264 (after which Edward became a hostage to ensure his fatherabided by the terms of the peace), de Montfort summoned the GreatParliament in 1265 - this was the first time cities and burghs sentrepresentatives to the parliament. (Historians differ as to whether deMontfort was an enlightened liberal reformer or an unscrupulousopportunist using any means to advance himself.)
In May 1265, Edward escaped from tight supervision whilst hunting. On 4August, Edward and his allies outmanoeuvred de Montfort in a savagebattle at Evesham; de Montfort predicted his own defeat and death ''let uscommend our souls to God, because our bodies are theirs ... they areapproaching wisely, they learned this from me.'' With the end of thecivil war, Edward worked hard at social and political reconciliationbetween his father and the rebels, and by 1267 the realm had beenpacified.
In April 1270 Parliament agreed an unprecedented levy of one-twentieth ofevery citizen''s goods and possessions to finance Edward''s Crusade to theHoly Lands. Edward left England in August 1270 to join the highlyrespected French king Louis IX on Crusade. At a time when popes wereusing the crusading ideal to further their own political ends in Italyand elsewhere, Edward and King Louis were the last crusaders in themedieval tradition of aiming to recover the Holy Lands. Louis died ofthe plague in Tunis before Edward''s arrival, and the French forces werebought off from pursuing their campaign. Edward decided to continueregardless: ''by the blood of God, though all my fellow soldiers andcountrymen desert me, I will enter Acre ... and I will keep my word andmy oath to the death''.
Edward arrived in Acre in May 1271 with 1,000 knights; his crusade was toprove an anticlimax. Edward''s small force limited him to the relief ofAcre and a handful of raids, and divisions amongst the internationalforce of Christian Crusaders led to Edward''s compromise truce with theBaibars. In June 1272, Edward survived a murder attempt by an Assassin(an order of Shi''ite Muslims) and left for Sicily later in the year. Hewas never to return on crusade.
Meanwhile, Henry III died on 16 November 1272. Edward succeeded to thethrone without opposition - given his track record in military abilityand his proven determination to give peace to the country, enhanced byhis magnified exploits on crusade. In Edward''s absence, a proclamationin his name delcared that he had succeeded by hereditary right, and thebarons swore allegeiance to him. Edward finally arrived in London inAugust 1274 and was crowned at Westminster Abbey. Aged 35, he was aveteran warrior (''the best lance in all the world'', according tocontemporaries), a leader with energy and vision, and with a formidabletemper.
Edward was determined to enforce English kings'' claims to primacy in theBritish Isles. The first part of his reign was dominated by Wales. Atthat time, Wales consisted of a number of disunited small Welshprincedoms; the South Welsh princes were in uneasy alliance with theMarcher lords (feudal earldoms and baronies set up by the Norman kings toprotect the English border against Welsh raids) against the NorthernWelsh based in the rocky wilds of Gwynedd, under the strong leadership ofLlywelyn ap Gruffyd, Prince of Gwynedd. In 1247, under the Treaty ofWoodstock, Llywelyn had agreed that he held North Wales in fee to theEnglish king. By 1272, Llywelyn had taken advantage of the English civilwars to consolidate his position, and the Peace of Montgomery (1267) hadconfirmed his title as Prince of Wales and recognised his conquests.
However, Llywelyn maintained that the rights of his principality were''entirely separate from the rights'' of England; he did not attendEdward''s coronation and refused to do homage. Finally, in 1277 Edwarddecided to fight Llywelyn ''as a rebel and disturber of the peace'', andquickly defeated him. War broke out again in 1282 when Llywelyn joinedhis brother David in rebellion. Edward''s determination, militaryexperience and skilful use of ships brought from England for deploymentalong the North Welsh coast, drove Llywelyn back into the mountains ofNorth Wales. The death of Llywelyn in a chance battle in 1282 and thesubsequent execution of his brother David effectively ended attempts atWelsh independence.
Under the Statute of Wales of 1284, Wales was brought into the Englishlegal framework and the shire system was extended. In the same year, ason was born in Wales to Edward and Queen Eleanor (also named Edward,this future king was proclaimed the first English Prince of Wales in1301). The Welsh campaign had produced one of the largest armies everassembled by an English king - some 15,000 infantry (including 9,000Welsh and a Gascon contingent); the army was a formidable combination ofheavy Anglo-Norman cavalry and Welsh archers, whose longbow skills laidthe foundations of later military victories in France such as that atAgincourt. As symbols of his military strength and political authority,Edward spent some £80,000 on a network of castles and lesser strongholdsin North Wales, employing a work-force of up to 3,500 men drawn from allover England. (Some castles, such as Conway and Caernarvon, remain intheir ruined layouts today, as examples of fortresses integrated withfortified towns.)
Edward''s campaign in Wales was based on his determination to ensure peaceand extend royal authority, and it had broad support in England. Edwardsaw the need to widen support among lesser landowners and the merchantsand traders of the towns. The campaigns in Wales, France and Scotlandleft Edward deeply in debt, and the taxation required to meet those debtsmeant enrolling national support for his policies. To raise money,Edward summoned Parliament - up to 1286 he summoned Parliaments twice ayear. (The word ''Parliament'' came from the ''parley'' or talks which theKing had with larger groups of advisers.) In 1295, when money was neededto wage war against Philip of France (who had confiscated the duchy ofGascony), Edward summoned the most comprehensive assembly ever summonedin England. This became known as the Model Parliament, for itrepresented various estates: barons, clergy, and knights and townspeople.By the end of Edward''s reign, Parliament usually containedrepresentatives of all these estates.
Edward used his royal authority to establish the rights of the Crown atthe expense of traditional feudal privileges, to promote the uniformadministration of justice, to raise income to meet the costs of war andgovernment, and to codify the legal system. In doing so, his methodsemphasised the role of Parliament and the common law. With the able helpof his Chancellor, Robert Burnell, Bishop of Bath and Wells, Edwardintroduced much new legislation. He began by commissioning a thoroughsurvey of local government (with the results entered into documents knownas the Hundred Rolls), which not only defined royal rights andpossessions but also revealed administrative abuses.
The First Statute of Westminster (1275) codified 51 existing laws - manyoriginating from Magna Carta - covering areas ranging from extortion byroyal officers, lawyers and bailiffs, methods of procedure in civil andcriminal cases to freedom of elections. Edward''s first Parliament alsoenacted legislation on wool, England''s most important export at the time.At the request of the merchants, Edward was given a customs grant on wooland hides which amounted to nearly £10,000 a year. Edward also obtainedincome from the licence fees imposed by the Statute of Mortmain (1279),under which gifts of land to the Church (often made to evade deathduties) had to have a royal licence.
The Statutes of Gloucester (1278) and Quo Warranto (1290) attempted todefine and regulate feudal jurisdictions, which were an obstacle to royalauthority and to a uniform system of justice for all; the Statute ofWinchester (1285) codified the policing system for preserving publicorder. Other statutes had a long-term effect on land law and on thefeudal framework in England. The Second Statute of Westminster (1285)restricted the alienation of land and kept entailed estates withinfamilies: tenants were only tenants for life and not able to sell theproperty to others. The Third Statute of Westminster or Quia Emptores(1290) stopped subinfeudation (in which tenants of land belonging to theKing or to barons subcontracted their properties and related feudalservices).
Edward''s assertion that the King of Scotland owed feudal allegiance tohim, and the embittered Anglo-Scottish relations leading to war whichfollowed, were to overshadow the rest of Edward''s reign in what was tobecome known as the ''Great Cause''. Under a treaty of 1174, William theLion of Scotland had become the vassal to Henry II, but in 1189 Richard Ihad absolved William from his allegiance. Intermarriage between theEnglish and Scottish royal houses promoted peace between the twocountries until the premature death of Alexander III in 1286. In 1290,his granddaughter and heiress, Margaret the ''Maid of Norway'' (daughter ofthe King of Norway, she was pledged to be married to Edward''s then onlysurviving son, Edward of Caernarvon), also died. For Edward, thisdynastic blow was made worse by the death in the same year of hismuch-loved wife Eleanor (her body was ceremonially carried from Lincolnto Westminster for burial, and a memorial cross erected at every one ofthe twelve resting places, including what became known as Charing Crossin London).
In the absence of an obvious heir to the Scottish throne, the disunitedScottish magnates invited Edward to determine the dispute. In order togain acceptance of his authority in reaching a verdict, Edward sought andobtained recognition from the rival claimants that he had the ''sovereignlordship of Scotland and the right to determine our several pretensions''. In November 1292, Edward and his 104 assessors gave the whole kingdomto John Balliol or Baliol as the claimant closest to the royal line;Balliol duly swore loyalty to Edward and was crowned at Scone.
John Balliol''s position proved difficult. Edward insisted that Scotlandwas not independent and he, as sovereign lord, had the right to hear inEngland appeals against Balliol''s judgements in Scotland. In 1294,Balliol lost authority amongst Scottish magnates by going to Westminsterafter receiving a summons from Edward; the magnates decided to seekallies in France and concluded the ''Auld Alliance'' with France (then atwar with England over the duchy of Gascony) - an alliance which was toinfluence Scottish history for the next 300 years. In March 1296,having failed to negotiate a settlement, the English led by Edward sackedthe city of Berwick near the River Tweed. Balliol formally renounced hishomage to Edward in April 1296, speaking of ''grievous and intolerableinjuries ... for instance by summoning us outside our realm ... as yourown whim dictated ... and so ... we renounce the fealty and homage whichwe have done to you''. Pausing to design and start the rebuilding ofBerwick as the financial capital of the country, Edward''s forces overranremaining Scottish resistance. Scots leaders were taken hostage, andEdinburgh Castle, amongst others, was seized. Balliol surrendered hisrealm and spent the rest of his life in exile in England and Normandy.
Having humiliated Balliol, Edward''s insensitive policies in Scotlandcontinued: he appointed a trio of Englishmen to run the country. Edwardhad the Stone of Scone - also known as the Stone of Destiny - on whichScottish sovereigns had been crowned removed to London and subsequentlyplaced in the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey (where it remaineduntil it was returned to Scotland in 1996). Edward never built stonecastles on strategic sites in Scotland, as he had done so successfully inWales - possibly because he did not have the funds for another ambitiouscastle-building programme.
By 1297, Edward was facing the biggest crisis in his reign, and hiscommitments outweighed his resources. Chronic debts were being incurredby wars against France, in Flanders, Gascony and Wales as well asScotland; the clergy were refusing to pay their share of the costs, withthe Archbishop of Canterbury threatening excommunication; Parliament wasreluctant to contribute to Edward''s expensive and unsuccessful militarypolicies; the Earls of Hereford and Norfolk refused to serve in Gascony,and the barons presented a formal statement of their grievances. In theend, Edward was forced to reconfirm the Charters (including Magna Carta)to obtain the money he required; the Archbishop was eventually suspendedin 1306 by the new Gascon Pope Clement V; a truce was declared withFrance in 1297, followed by a peace treaty in 1303 under which the Frenchking restored the duchy of Gascony to Edward.
In Scotland, Edward pursued a series of campaigns from 1298 onwards.William Wallace had risen in Balliol''s name and recovered most ofScotland, before being defeated by Edward at the battle of Falkirk in1298. Wallace escaped, only to be captured in 1305, allegedly by thetreachery of a fellow Scot and taken to London, where he was executed. In 1304, Edward summoned a full Parliament (which elected Scottishrepresentatives also attended), in which arrangements for the settlementof Scotland were made. The new government in Scotland featured a Council,which included Robert the Bruce. Bruce unexpectedly rebelled in 1306 bykilling a fellow counsellor and was crowned king of Scotland at Scone.Despite his failing health, Edward was carried north to pursue anothercampaign, but he died en route at Burgh on Sands on 7 July 1307 aged 68.
According to chroniclers, Edward requested that his bones should becarried on Scottish campaigns and that his heart be taken to the HolyLand. However, Edward was buried at Westminster Abbey in a plain blackmarble tomb, which in later years was painted with the words Scottorummalleus (Hammer of the Scots) and Pactum serva (Keep troth). Throughoutthe fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the Exchequer paid to keepcandles burning ''round the body of the Lord Edward, formerly King ofEngland, of famous memory''. [Royal]
  • 17 JUN 1239 - Birth - ; Westminster
  • 7 JUL 1307 - Death - ; en route at Burgh on Sands
  • From 1272 to 1307 - Reign - King of the English
  • AUG 1274 - Crowned - King of England ; Westminster Abbey
John of England
24 DEC 1167 - 19 OCT 1216
Henry III
1 OCT 1207 - 16 NOV 1272
Isabella of Angoulême
1188 - 31 MAY 1246
Edward I
17 JUN 1239 - 7 JUL 1307
Family Group Sheet - Child
Birth1 OCT 1207Winchester Castle, Hampshire, England
Death16 NOV 1272 Westminster, London, England
Marriage14 JAN 1236to Eleanor of Provence at Canterbury Cathedral, Canterbury, Kent, England
FatherJohn of England
MotherIsabella of Angoulême
PARENT (F) Eleanor of Provence
Marriage14 JAN 1236to Henry III at Canterbury Cathedral, Canterbury, Kent, England
FatherRamon Berenguer IV, Count of Provence
MotherBeatrice of Savoy
MEdmund Crouchback, 1st Earl of Lancaster
Marriageto Blanche of Artois
MEdward I
Birth17 JUN 1239Westminster
Death7 JUL 1307en route at Burgh on Sands
MarriageABT 1254to Eleanor of Castile at Spain
Marriageto Margaret of France
Family Group Sheet - Spouse
PARENT (M) Edward I
Birth17 JUN 1239Westminster
Death7 JUL 1307 en route at Burgh on Sands
MarriageABT 1254to Eleanor of Castile at Spain
Marriageto Margaret of France
FatherHenry III
MotherEleanor of Provence
PARENT (F) Eleanor of Castile
BirthABT 1245
MarriageABT 1254to Edward I at Spain
FatherFerdinand III of Castile
MotherJoan, Countess of Ponthieu
MEdward II
Birth25 APR 1284
Death21 SEP 1327
Marriageto Isabella of France
FJoan of England
Marriageto Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Gloucester
Marriageto Ralph de Monthermer, 1st Baron Monthermer
Family Group Sheet - Spouse
PARENT (M) Edward I
Birth17 JUN 1239Westminster
Death7 JUL 1307 en route at Burgh on Sands
MarriageABT 1254to Eleanor of Castile at Spain
Marriageto Margaret of France
FatherHenry III
MotherEleanor of Provence
PARENT (F) Margaret of France
Marriageto Edward I
FatherPhilip III of France
MotherMarie of Brabant, Queen of France
[S240]Official Web Site of the British Monarchy, The
Descendancy Chart
Edward I b: 17 JUN 1239 d: 7 JUL 1307
Eleanor of Castile b: ABT 1245 d: 1290
Edward II b: 25 APR 1284 d: 21 SEP 1327
Edward III b: 13 NOV 1312 d: 21 JUN 1377
John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster b: 6 MAR 1340 d: 3 FEB 1399
Henry Beaufort b: ABT 1375 d: 11 APR 1447
John Berkeley d: 1546