Edward was the eldest son of Henry III and towered over his contemporaries - he was the then rare height of six feet two inches. He was on a Crusade at the time of his accession and returned to England in 1274. Reigning for 35 years he was a strong and wise King. He married Eleanor of Castille and, after her death Margaret, daughter of Phillip III of France. Edward had 16 children by Eleanor and three by Margaret, the most of any Monarch. He carried out much needed reform and clarification of the law. Starting in 1277 he set out to resolve the Welsh problem which had proved so troublesome in Henry III's reign. The area around Snowdon and Anglesy harboured Llewelyn and other warlike princes. Llewelyn was killed in battle and the Welsh resistance collapsed. The Statute of Wales in 1284 arranged for administration under a mixed English and Welsh law. Castles were built to secure the Principality, including Caernarvon where Edward's son (Edward) was born and who was created Prince of Wales in 1301. During his campaign in Wales, it was found that the long bow used by the Southern Welsh, was an amazingly effective weapon which would revolutionise forthcoming conflicts. Edward next marched on Scotland and won a crushing victory at Falkirk but Robert Bruce arose and made himself King of Scotland. Although known as The Hammer of the Scots, Edward had not succeeded in subjugating that noble land. Edward may be best remembered by the Model Parliament called in 1295. He died of dysentry, marching against the Scots, on 7th July 1307 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
Edward I., Plantaganet, Longshanks, the third son of Henry III and his wife Eleanor; during the reign of his father took active part in political affairs. He was taken prisoner at Lewes in 1264 but escaping, he defeated the Earl of Leicester. In 1272 he went on a Crusade as far as Acre, where his daughter Joan was born, and although he inherited the crown that year, he did not return to England until 1274, being crowned on August 19, 1274. It is significant of the times that he was able to thus move in a leisurely fashion across Europe without fear of disturbances at home.
He fully accepted those articles of The Great Charter (Magna Charta) of King John which had been set aside at the beginning of his father's reign, and which required that the king should levy scutages and aids only with the consent of the Great Council or Parliament. The further requirement of the barons that they should name the ministers of the crown was allowed to fall into disuse. Edward was a capable ruler, and knew how to appoint better ministers than the barons were likely to choose for him. He was eminent not only as a ruler but as a legislator and succeeded in enacting many wise laws, because he knew that useful legislation is possible only when the legislator has an intelligent perception of the remedies needed to meet existing evils, and is willing to content himself with such remedies as those persons who are to be benefited by them are ready to accept. The first condition was fulfilled by Edward's own skill as a lawyer, and by the skill of the great lawyers whom he employed. The second condition was fulfilled by his determination to authorize no new legislation without the counsel and acquiescence of those who were most affected by it. Not until late in his reign did he call a whole parliament together as Earl Simon de Montfort had done. Instead, he called the barons together in any manner which affected the barons, and the representatives of the townsmen together in any manner which affected the townsmen, and so with other classes. In 1295 he summoned the "Model Parliament," so called because it became the form for future Parliaments.
Every king of England since the Norman Conquest had exercised authority in a twofold capacity: (1) as head of the nation and (2) as the feudal lord of his vassals. Edward laid more stress than any former king upon his national headship. Early in his reign he divided the Curis Regis into three courts: (1) The Court of King's Bench, to deal with criminal offenses reserved for the king's judgment and with suits in which he was himself concerned; (2) The Court of Exchequer, to deal with all matters touching the king's revenue; and (3) The Court of Common Pleas, to deal with suits between subject and subject. Edward took care that these Courts should administer justice, and dismissed judges and many other officials for corruption. In 1285 he improved the Assize of Arms of King Henry II., to assure national support for his government in time of danger. His favorite motto "Keep Troth" indicates the value he placed upon a man's oath.
Alexander III. was King of Scotland in the earlier part of Edward's reign, and his ancestors had done homage to Edward's ancestors, but, in 1189, William the Lion had purchased from Richard I possessions which Henry II. had acquired by the treaty of Falaise. The Lion's successors, however, held lands in England, and had done homage for them to the English kings. Edward would gladly have restored the old practice of homage for Scotland itself, but to this Alexander had never consented. Edward coveted the prospect of being lord of the entire island, as it would not only strengthen his position, but would bring the two nations into peaceful union. A prospect of effecting a union by peaceful means offered itself to Edward in 1285, when Alexander III. was killed by a fall from his horse, near Kinghorn. Alexander's only descendant was his grand-daughter Margaret, the child of his daughter and King Eric of Norway. In 1290 it was agreed that she should marry the Prince of Wales but that the two kingdoms should remain absolutely independent of each other. Unfortunately the Maid of Norway, as the child was called, died on her way to Scotland and this plan for establishing friendly relations between the two countries came to naught. If it has succeeded, three centuries of warfare and misery might possibly have been avoided.
Edward I. married in 1254 (1) Eleanor of Castile, daughter of Ferdinand III, King of Castile and Leon, and his wife Jeanne of Dammartin, who was the daughter of Simon Dammartin and his wife, Marie, Countess of Ponthieu, and on her death in 1279 that country came by descent to Eleanor. Jeanne of Dammartin died on November 20, 1290. Her body was brought for burial from Lincoln to Westminster, and the bereaved husband ordered the erection of a memorial cross at each place where the body rested. The years that followed were filled with wars with France and with difficulties in Scotland. Edward married September 8, 1299 (2) Margaret of France, daughter of Philip III., King of France. King Edward died, during the third invasion of Scotland, at Burgh-on-the-Sands near Carlisle, July 8, 1307, and was buried at Westminster. Margaret, the second wife of King Edward I., died February 14, 1317 and was buried at Grey Friars, London.
It was King Edward I. who first conferred the title Prince of Wales, thus designating the fourth son, Edward, who was the oldest to survive, and who later became Edward II., King of England.
Edward I lived a full life, and the range of his activities presents the historian with considerable problems. He played a major part in the political troubles of the later years of his father's reign; went on crusade; governed England during a period particularly formative for legal and parliamentary development; conquered Wales, and came close, or so it seemed in 1304, to subjecting Scotland to his rule.
He was not a purely English ruler. He held the Duchy of Gascony in south-western France, and took a very considerable interest in its affairs. As befitted a ruler of his stature, he played a major part in European diplomacy and war.
("The Genealogy of Homer Beers James", V1, JANDA Consultants, c 1993 Homer James)
He strengthened the crown and Parliament against the old feudal nobility. He subdued Wales, destroying its autonomy; and he sought (unsuccessfully) the conquest of Scotland. His reign is particularly noted for administrative efficiency and legal reform. He introduced a series of statutes that did much to strengthen the crown in the feudal hierarchy. His definition and emendation of English common law has earned him the name of the "English Justinian."
Edward was the eldest son of King Henry III and Eleanor of Provence. In 1254 he was given the duchy of Gascony, the French Oléron, the Channel Islands, Ireland, Henry's lands in Wales, and the earldom of Chester, as well as several castles. Henry negotiated Edward's marriage with Eleanor, half sister of Alfonso X of Leon and Castile. Edward married Eleanor at Las Huelgas in Spain (October 1254) and then traveled to Bordeaux to organize his scattered appanage. He now had his own household and officials, chancery and seal, with an exchequer (treasury) at Bristol Castle; though nominally governing all his lands, he merely enjoyed the revenues in Gascony and Ireland. He returned to England in November 1255 and attacked Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, prince of Gwynedd, to whom his Welsh subjects had appealed for support when Edward attempted to introduce English administrative units in his Welsh lands. Edward, receiving no help from either Henry or the marcher lords, was defeated ignominiously. His arrogant lawlessness and his close association with his greedy Poitevin uncles, who had accompanied his mother from France, increased Edward's unpopularity among the English. But after the Poitevins were expelled, Edward fell under the influence of Simon de Montfort, his uncle by marriage, with whom he made a formal pact. Montfort was the leader of a baronial clique that was attempting to curb the misgovernment of Henry.
Edward reluctantly accepted the Provisions of Oxford (1258), which gave effective government to the barons at the expense of the king. On the other hand, he intervened dramatically to support the radical Provisions of Westminster (October 1259), which ordered the barons to accept reforms demanded by their tenants. In the dangerous crisis early in 1260 he supported Montfort and the extremists, though finally he deserted Montfort and was forgiven by Henry (May 1260). He was sent to Gascony in October 1260 but returned early in 1263. Civil war had now broken out between Henry and the barons, who were supported by London. Edward's violent behaviour and his quarrel with the Londoners harmed Henry's cause. At the Battle of Lewes (May 14, 1264) his vengeful pursuit of the Londoners early in the battle contributed to Henry's defeat. Edward surrendered and became a hostage in Montfort's hands. He escaped at Hereford in May 1265 and took charge of the royalist forces, penned Montfort behind the River Severn, and, by lightning strategy, destroyed a large relieving army at Kenilworth (August 1). On August 4 he trapped and slew Montfort at Evesham and rescued Henry. Shattered and enfeebled, Henry allowed Edward effective control of government, and the latter's extreme policy of vengeance, especially against the Londoners, revived and prolonged rebel resistance. Finally, the papal legate Ottobuono, Edward's uncle Richard, Earl of Cornwall, and other moderates persuaded Henry to the milder policy of the Dictum of Kenilworth (Oct. 31, 1266), and after some delay the rebels surrendered. Edward took the cross (1268), intending to join the French king Louis IX on a crusade to the Holy Land, but was delayed by lack of money until August 1270. Louis died before Edward's arrival; and Edward, after wintering in Sicily, went to Acre, where he stayed from May 1271 to September 1272, winning fame by his energy and courage and narrowly escaping death by assassination but achieving no useful results. On his way home he learned in Sicily of Henry III's death on Nov. 16, 1272.
Accession and character.
Edward had nominated Walter Giffard, archbishop of York, Philip Basset, Roger Mortimer, and his trusted clerk Robert Burnell to safeguard his interests during his absence. After Henry's funeral, the English barons all swore fealty to Edward (Nov. 20, 1272). His succession by hereditary right and the will of his magnates was proclaimed, and England welcomed the new reign peacefully, Burnell taking charge of the administration with his colleagues' support. The quiet succession demonstrated England's unity only five years after a bitter civil war. Edward could journey homeward slowly, halting in Paris to do homage to his cousin Philip III for his French lands (July 26, 1273), staying several months in Gascony and reaching Dover on Aug. 2, 1274, for his coronation at Westminster on August 19. Now 35 years old, Edward had redeemed a bad start. He had been arrogant, lawless, violent, treacherous, revengeful, and cruel; his Angevin rages matched those of Henry II. Loving his own way and intolerant of opposition, he had still proved susceptible to influence by strong-minded associates. He had shown intense family affection, loyalty to friends, courage, brilliant military capacity, and a gift for leadership; handsome, tall, powerful, and tough, he had the qualities men admired. He loved efficient, strong government, enjoyed power, and had learned to admire justice, though in his own affairs it was often the letter, not the spirit of the law that he observed. Having mastered his anger, he had shown himself capable of patient negotiation, generosity, and even idealism; and he preferred the society and advice of strong counselors with good minds. As long as Burnell and Queen Eleanor lived, the better side of Edward triumphed, and the years until about 1294 were years of great achievement. Thereafter, his character deteriorated for lack of domestic comfort and independent advice. He allowed his autocratic temper full rein and devoted his failing energies to prosecution of the wars in France and against Scotland.
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