Friday, 22 March 2013

King Edward I

Edward was born in June 1239 at Westminster, the son of Henry III.   He was also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots (Latin: Malleus Scotorum), and was King of England from 1272 to 1307.

In 1254, he married Eleanor of Castile.  Eleanor and Edward were married on 1 November 1254 in the Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas in Castile. As part of the marriage agreement, the young prince received grants of land worth 15,000 marks a year. Though the endowments King Henry made were sizeable, they offered Edward little independence. 

Uncommon for such marriages of the period, the couple loved each other. Moreover like his father, Edward was very devoted to his queen and was faithful to her throughout their married lives—a rarity among monarchs of the time. He was deeply affected by her death. He displayed his grief by erecting twelve so-called Eleanor crosses, one at each place where her funeral cortège stopped for the night. As part of the peace accord between England and France in 1294, it was agreed that Edward should marry the French princess Margaret. The marriage took place in 1299.
Edward and Eleanor had at least fourteen children, perhaps as many as sixteen. Of these, five daughters survived into adulthood, but only one boy outlived Edward: the future King Edward II. Edward I was reportedly concerned with his son's failure to live up to the expectations of an heir to the crown, and at one point decided to exile the prince's favourite Piers Gaveston.  Edward may have been aware of his son's bisexual orientation even though he did not throw the prince's favourite from the castle battlements as depicted in Braveheart. ;-)

Eleanor of Castile died on 28 November 1290 in Nottinghamshire.  Edward took his queen's body back to London and at every point they stopped on their journey, he ordered that a cross be erected.  They are still standing today and are places of pilgrimage for historians and history lovers alike.
By Margaret, Edward had two sons, both of whom lived into adulthood, and a daughter who died as a child. The Hailes Abbey chronicle indicates that John Botetourt may have been Edward's illegitimate son, however the claim is unsubstantiated.

Edward's early adulthood took place against a backdrop of civil strife between his father and rebel barons. Edward was himself held captive by rebel leader Simon de Montfort before escaping and leading royalist forces to victory at the Battle of Evesham in August 1265, where de Montfort was killed.

In 1270, Edward left England to join the Eighth Crusade. His father died in 1272 and Edward returned to London, arriving in August 1274.  He was determined to enforce his primacy in the British Isles. The first part of his reign was dominated by his campaigns in Wales. He invaded in 1277, defeated the Welsh leader, Llywelyn ap Gruffyd and built a ring of castles to enforce his authority. When his rule provoked rebellion, he invaded again. Gruffyd was killed in battle in 1282 and his brother David executed, ending Welsh hopes of independence. Wales was brought into the English legal and administrative framework and in 1301 Edward's son was proclaimed prince of Wales - a tradition that persists to this day.

At home, Edward was responsible for a variety of legal and administrative reforms, asserting the rights of the Crown, promoting the uniform administration of justice and codifying the legal system. His military campaigns necessitated increases in taxation which in turn required more regular meetings of parliament - by the end of Edward's reign, these had become an established feature of political life. The desire for financial gain contributed to Edward's expulsion of Jews from England in 1290.

In 1292, Edward was asked to arbitrate in a succession dispute in Scotland and nominated John Balliol as king. Balliol duly swore allegiance to Edward, but Edward's demands pushed the Scots into an alliance with France. Edward invaded and conquered Scotland. Opposition gathered around William Wallace, but he was captured by the English and executed in 1305. In 1306, the Scottish nobleman Robert the Bruce rebelled.

Edward was on his way to fight Bruce when he died, on 7 July 1307.


  1. Wonderful article. Longshanks has always interested me. Thanks for posting this...I am looking forward to more articles like this!

    1. I hope to whenever I can. I will post something about every aspect of my research as I go along.
      He was a strong King despite lots of war etc. He also was a model husband for the time, which is very surprising. He is also not the King that Hollywood would wish us to know. So, I am pleased to share about this great man.
      Thanks for your comment Michele, I greatly appreciate it.