Thursday, January 5, 2017


A new year and back with English royalty again. Once again from Kings and Queens of England and Scotland.  The story of this king is a long one so I will do it in two parts.


EDWARD I ......  1272-1307 (Known as Edward Longshanks)

Born at Westminster Palace on 18 June, 1239.

Succeeded on 16 November, 1272 as King of England and Lord of Gascony (a diminution of Aquitaine to its northern territory; later he was accepted as Duke of Aquitaine after paying homage to the King of France); Overlord of Ireland, for which he paid homage to the Pope; Overlord of Scotland (for which he refused to pay homage to the Pope) and King of Scotland from 1296; Overlord of Wales, and King after 1282, when Wales was annexed into the territories of the English Crown.

Eldest son of his predecessor Henry.

Married:  1) in 1254 when he was 15 and she was 10, Eleanor of Castile, daughter of Ferdinand III King of Castile and Leon; she died in 1290.  2) Margaret of France, daughter of Philip III (Philip the Bold) King of France, and sister of the then regnant Philip IV (Philip the Fair); she survived him and died in 1317.

Children:  of Eleanor:  Eleanor, Joan (died 1265), John, Henry, Julian (Katherine), Joan of Acre (born 1271, died 107), Alphonso, Isabel Margaret, Berengaria, Mary Alice, Elizabeth, EDWARD Beatrice, Blanche.  of Margaret: Thomas, Edmund, Eleanor.

Died: of dysentery at Burgh-by-Sands (past Carliste (on the Solway Firth) on 6 July, 1307 aged 68, having reigned 35 years.

Buried:  Westminster Abbey,

Profile:  Very much in the cast of his grandfather's brother, Richard Coeur-de-Lion, Richard was outstandingly tall and lithe with long arms and legs.  His hair was silver-blond until it went surprisingly dark in adolescence and eventually turned bright milk-white.  He wore it at shoulder length and kept a clipped beard,   His speech was impulsive and indistinct.  Though he had a self-depreciative sense of humour, his face was notably lean and stern; he inherited his father's drooping eyelid.  His sparse cultural interests were music and architecture.

Edward was, in the eyes of his father, literally a Godsend, since Henry, through lack of desire had delayed his marriage until he was 28, and was then disappointed and indeed alarmed when three years passed before Eleanor was pregnant.  The boy was named after Henry's patron saint, King Edward the Confessor, whom the Pope had canonised with that title lesa than a century after his death.  (Before Edward "the First" there were, in fact, three Kings of England named Edward - the Elder, the Martyr and the Confessor).

In the same manner as Edward's own nomination of his heir as Prince of Wales - Wales being disputable territory at the time - Henry had created Edward Lord of Gascony at the age of 12.  Two years later as part of his busy intriguing between the desultory lootings of minor military campaigns in France, Henry arranged Edward's dynastic marriage.  Alfonso X had recently acceded to the combined thrones of Castile and Leon.  Alfonso had claims on Gascony.  Edward was betrothed to Alfonso's half-sister Eleanor of Castile, daughter of his lately-deceased father Ferdinand III and by this alliance took over Alfonso's claim to Gascony.  Edward sailed to Bordeaux and went on to Burgos, and the boy-and-girl marriage took place,  It was an exceedingly fruitful union and a rare, devoted companionship.  Eleanor travelled constantly with her husband and bore him campaign-children in Roue, Acre in the Holy Land, Bordeaux and Caernarvon,  Most of their 16 babies were girls and some survived them - though Joan of Acre died in the same year as her father.  Edward's eventual heir was his 14th child, born in the 30th  year of the marriage.  Edward, however continued to beget children well into his sixties.

Long before he was 20, Edward was overlord of Ireland and responsible for the good order of Gascony and of Wales, where he ruled the Marches as Earl of Chester.  He was not conspicuously successful as a general, and somewhat overplayed the role of a spoilt and roistering princeling predominantly interested in the ostentasious combats of set tournaments - though these demanded high skill and personal bravery. many dozens of knights could be killed during a single staged jousting match, and there were no favours for princes.  When he was 24, though he had originally admitted the justice of his godfather's, Simon de Montfort's, constitutional struggle against King Henry III, Edward rallied to support his father.  As the leading general on the royalist side in the civil war he eventually defeated Montfort.  His subsequent pacification of England was statesmanlike and authoritative, as High Steward he was virtually his father's Regent after 1268.  From 1270 until 1274 he was abroad on a crusade to the Holy Land, followed by a state tour of Europe and a re-conquest of troubled Glascony.  However, he had succeeded unchallenged to the English throne on his father's death in 1272.

Edward was a mature sovereign at the age of 35 with an extreme devotion to personal and political integrity.  His abiding principle, which is carved on his tomb in Westminster Abbey, was pactum serva, "keep your word", and it is fair to say that he mainly kept this code except in the numerous exigencies of war.  Edward devoted his long reign to the shaping of England as an integrated state of repute within Christendom, and even beyond; he exchanged personal missions with the King of Persia, a Mongol Tartar and not a Moslem.  In this quest to create a state he faced difficult local problems which he met by strong and arbitrary means.  Controversy is still valid over his treatment of the Scots, the Welsh and the Jews.

In his attitude to the outlying territories of England, Edward was a strictly conformist feudal monarch of his time.  Where he paid homage to a higher lord, he expected strong fealty from his own feudal dependents in turn. When he faced running revolt, and finally a war for outright independence in tribal Wales - then a far smaller pocket of territory than its geographaical area today - he occuped Gwynedd, Anglesey and Dyfed after ad pincer operation from the land and the sea, and annexed Waeles to the English Crown.  The last Welsh Prince of Wales, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, died in battle, and Edward symbolically presented to the Welsh people his own baby son, born in Caernarvon, but did not create him Prince of Wales until he was 16.  Ironically, Wales bequeathed to England a powerful weapon of future british imperialism, the Welsh long-bow and Welsh bowmen using it.   Edward;s appreciation of this weapon and his deliberate encouragement of its use throughout England made the long-bow arrow, which could penetrate four inches of oak, the most accurate and efficient weapon before the development of gunpower.

The conquest of Wales did not bring instant pacification.  Too much unregulated power had to be delegated to the despotic Lords Marcher, whose vast estates ram from Chester to Monmouth and far to the west, and whose bloody quarrels eventually toppled the royal dynasty.  War in Scotland was no more constructively successful.   The kingdom of Scotland centred on the fat Lothian lands of old Northumbria rather than on the Highland glens, had become deliberately orientated towards the Norman-Saxon civilisation of territorial and ecclesiastical feudalism, rather than observing the tribalism of the clans and the simpler church administration of Saint Columba.  Its centre tended to be Sassenach Edinburgh rather than the Celtic capital at Scone.  On the death of Alexander III of Scotland, a second cousin of Edward's who had married Edward's sister Margaret, the crown of Scotland passed to Alexander's granddaughter Margaret, 'the Maid of Norway' at the age of three.  In 1290 Edward carried through the betrothal of the young Queen Margaret to his own heir Edward, when both were aged six.  An eventual marriage would have led to a peaceful union of the lands of England and Scotland, but the maid died almost immediately, shipwrecked on a voyage to Scotland for her coronation.  There was a multiple dispute over the succession.  King Edward, as overlord, stepped in to arbitrate with a remarkably balanced Commission which deliberated for 18 months, and awarded the throne to John Balliol, who paid homage along with the Scottish peers.

I definitely will leave it there as my hands are objecting to further use right now so next time I will continue with the history of Edward I who to me seems not to have been too bad a king.  😊


  1. I agree with you, about his kingship. (Or whatever you call it)

  2. Married at ten and had 16 children!! Both Edward and Eleanor must have come from very sturdy stock.

    1. I was amazed at how many children they had but it doesn't actually state when the first child was born. One wonders though.