King Edward I of England


Son of  King Henry III and Eleanor of Provence, father of Edward II  and husband of Margaret Wake

Edward I born at the Palace of Westminster on the evening of 17th June 1239 , popularly known as Longshanks, also as "Edward the Lawgiver" or "the English Justinian" because of his legal reforms, and as "Hammer of the Scots", achieved fame as the monarch who conquered Wales and who tried to do the same to Scotland. He reigned from 1272 to 1307, ascending the throne of England on 21st November 1272 after the death of his father, King Henry III of England.

He was an older brother of Beatrice of England and Edmund Crouchback, 1st Earl of Lancaster. He was named after Edward the Confessor. From 1239 to 1246 Edward was in the care of Hugh Giffard (the son of Godfrey Giffard) and his wife, Sybil, who had been one of the midwives at Edward's birth. On Giffard's death in 1246, Bartholomew Pecche took over. Early grants of land to Edward included Gascony, but Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester had been appointed by Henry to seven years as royal lieutenant in Gascony in 1248, a year before the grant to Edward, so in practice Edward derived neither authority nor revenue from the province.

Edward's first marriage at the age of 15 was arranged in 1254 by his father and Alfonso X of Castile. Alfonso had insisted that Edward receive grants of land worth 15,000 marks a year and also asked to knight him; Henry had already planned a knighthood ceremony for Edward but conceded. Edward crossed the Channel in June, and was knighted by Alfonso and married to Eleanor of Castile aged 13 on 1st  November 1254 in the monastery of Las Huelgas.

The children of Edward and Eleanor were

Joan of Acre born in April 1272  in Akko (Acre), Hazofan, Palestine form where she obtained her name.

It differentiates her from an earlier Joan born to the couple, who died in infancy. Joan of Acre was born while her parents were traveling to the Middle East on the Ninth Crusade. At least part of her childhood she spent in France with her maternal grandmother, Jeanne de Dammartin, Countess of Ponthieu. She was betrothed as a child to Hartman, son of King Rudolph I of Germany, but he died in 1282 after drowning in the Rhine.

On 30th April 1290, at Westminster Abbey, Joan married Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Hertford. He was nearly thirty years her senior. They had four children

Following her husband's death in 1295, Joan clandestinely married Ralph de Monthermer, 1st Baron Monthermer, a knight in her household, in January 1297. Her father, King Edward I, was enraged by this lowly second marriage, especially since he was arranging a marriage for her to Amadeus V, Count of Savoy. He had Monthermer thrown in prison, and Joan had to plead for the release of her husband. According to the St. Albans chronicler, she told her father, "No one sees anything wrong if a great earl marries a poor and lowly woman. Why should there be anything wrong if a countess marries a young and promising man?" At last her father relented, released Monthermer from prison in August 1297, and allowed him to hold the title of Earl of Gloucester and Hereford during Joan's lifetime. Monthermer and Joan had four children:

Joan died in childbirth on 7th April1307 at the manor of Clare in Suffolk, England, a family possession, and was buried with her stillborn child on  23rd April 1307, at the Augustinian priory there. Miracles were said to occur at her grave, especially the healing of toothache, back pain, and fever.

Alphonso, Earl of Chester born on 24th November 1273 at Bayonne, in Gascony, and named after his maternal uncle, King Alfonso X of Castile, who was his godfather..He died on 19th  August 1284 at Windsor, aged ten, shortly after the birth of his younger brother (later Edward II of England).. He was the ninth child of Edward I of England and Eleanor of Castile. During his lifetime, he was first in line to the throne.

His death left his brother as the only surviving male heir of Edward I.

 Alphonso was interred at Westminster Abbey.

Marguerite of France born in Paris in 1282 . She was the daughter of Philip III of France and Maria of Brabant. She was also the second Queen consort of King Edward I of England. She was nicknamed "The Pearl of France".

Three years after the death of his beloved first wife, Eleanor of Castile, at the age of 49 in 1290, Edward I was still grieving. But news got to him of the beauty of Blanche, daughter of the late King Philip III. Edward decided that he would marry Blanche at any cost and sent out emissaries to negotiate the marriage with her half-brother, King Philip IV. Philip agreed to give Blanche to Edward on the following conditions:

  1. a truce was concluded between the two countries

  2. Edward gave up the province of Gascony

Edward, surprisingly, agreed and sent his brother Edmund Crouchback, Earl of Lancaster, to fetch the new bride. Edward had been deceived, for Blanche was to be married to Rudolph I of Bohemia and eldest son of Albert I of Germany. Instead Philip offered her younger sister Marguerite, a young girl of 11, to marry Edward (then 55). Upon hearing this, Edward declared war on France, refusing to marry Marguerite. After five years, a truce was agreed, under the terms of which Edward would marry Marguerite, would regain the key city of Guienne, and receive Ł15,000 owed to Marguerite.

Edward was now 60 years old. The wedding took place at Canterbury on 8th September 1299. Edward soon returned to the Scottish border to continue his campaigns and left Marguerite in London. After several months, bored and lonely, the young queen decided to join her husband. Nothing could have pleased the king more, for Marguerite's actions reminded him of his first wife Eleanor, who had had two of her sixteen children abroad.

Edward and Marguerite had the following children

King Edward II of England

Thomas of Brotherton, 1st Earl of Norfolk born on 1st June 1300 at the Manor House in Brotherton. His mother was staying at Pontefract Castle and was following a hunt when she went into labour. He was born in the main house, later demolished due to disrepair in the 1930s, although the new (17th Century) wing still exists. He was named in honor of St. Thomas.

His father died when he was 7 years old. Thomas' half-brother, Edward, now became king of England. The Earldom of Cornwall had been intended for Thomas, but Edward instead bestowed it upon his favorite, Piers Gaveston, in 1306. When he was 10 years old, his brother Edward II of England assigned him and another brother, Edmund, the estates of Roger Bigod, 5th Earl of Norfolk who had died without heir in 1306.

In 1312 he was titled, "Earl of Norfolk" and on 10th February 1316 he was created Marshal of England. When his brother went to Scotland in the war, he was left Keeper of England. Thomas was known for having a hot and violent temper. He was one of the many victims of the unchecked greed of Hugh the younger Despenser, who stole some of the young earl's lands. He allied himself with Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March when they invaded England in 1326, and stood as one of the judges in the trials against both Despensers.

He married first, probably in 1319, to Alice Hayles, daughter of Sir Roger Hayles and Alice Skogan. She was supposed to have been a great beauty. Her father was the coroner of Norfolk, a title that held a different meaning in the 14th century than it does today; his post demanded that he collect and protect revenues for the king. Thomas and Alice had three children:

Alice Hayles died in 1330, when a chantry was founded for her soul in Bosham, Sussex. Thomas was married before 28th March 1335 to Mary Brewes, widow of Ralph de Cobham, Lord Cobham. He died on 4th August1338, and was buried in the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds. Thomas was also an ancestor of two of the wives of Henry VIII of England, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard

Edmund of Woodstock

Marguerite soon became firm friends with her stepdaughter Mary, a nun, who was two years older than the young queen. She and her stepson, Edward (who was two years younger than her), also became fond of each other: he once made her a gift of an expensive ruby and gold ring, and she on one occasion rescued many of the Prince's friends from the wrath of the King. In less than a year Marguerite gave birth to a son, and then another a year later. It is said that many who fell under the king's wrath were saved from too stern a punishment by the queen's influence over her husband, and the statement, Pardoned solely on the intercession of our dearest consort, queen Marguerite of England, appears.

In all, Marguerite gave birth to three children: Thomas of Brotherton, 1st Earl of Norfolk; Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent; and Eleanor of England (4 May 1306 - 1311).

The mismatched couple were blissfully happy. When Blanche died in 1306 (her husband never became Emperor), Edward ordered all the court to go into mourning to please his queen. He had realised the wife he had gained was "a pearl of great price". The same year Marguerite gave birth to a girl, Eleanor, named in honor of Edward's first queen, a choice of which surprised many, and showed Marguerite's un-jealous nature.

She never remarried after Edward's death in 1307, despite being only 26 when widowed. She lived out the remainder of her life in Marlborough Castle, by this time a dower house, and used her immense dowry to relieve people's suffering. Her saying was, "when Edward died, all men died for me". She died just 10 years after her husband, at the age of 36, and was buried at Greyfriar's Church, Greenwich.

14 February 1317 Marlborough Castle)

Eleanor and Edward would go on to have sixteen children, and her death in 1290 affected Edward deeply. He displayed his grief by erecting the Eleanor crosses, one at each place where her funeral cortčge stopped for the night. His second marriage when 60 at Canterbury on 10th September 1299, to Marguerite of France, aged 20)  and known as the "Pearl of France" by her English subjects; she was the daughter of King Philip III of France (Phillip the Bold) and Maria of Brabant, produced three children.

In 1255, Edward and Eleanor both returned to England. The chronicler Matthew Paris tells of a row between Edward and his father over Gascon affairs; Edward and Henry's policies continued to diverge, and on 9th September 1256, without his father's knowledge, Edward signed a treaty with Gaillard de Soler, the ruler of one of the Bordeaux factions. Edward's freedom to manoeuvre was limited, however, since the seneschal of Gascony, Stephen Longespée, held Henry's authority in Gascony. Edward had been granted much other land, including Wales and Ireland, but for various reasons had less involvement in their administration.

In 1258, Henry was forced by his barons to accede to the Provisions of Oxford. This, in turn, led to Edward becoming more aligned with the barons and their promised reforms, and on 15th October 1259, he announced that he supported the goals of the barons. Shortly afterwards, Henry crossed to France for peace negotiations, and Edward took the opportunity to make appointments favouring his allies. An account in Thomas Wykes's chronicle claims that Henry learned that Edward was plotting against the throne; and, in the spring of 1260, Henry returned to London and eventually were reconciled by Richard of Cornwall's efforts. Henry then forced Edward's allies to give up the castles they had received, and Edward's independence was sharply reduced.

Edward's character greatly contrasted with that of his father, who reigned over England throughout Edward's childhood and consistently tended to favour compromise with his opponents. Edward had already shown himself as an ambitious and impatient man, displaying considerable military prowess in defeating Simon de Montfort at the Battle of Evesham in 1265, having previously been imprisoned by de Montfort at Wallingford Castle and Kenilworth Castle. He gained a reputation for treating rebels and other foes with great savagery. He relentlessly pursued the surviving members of the de Montfort family, his cousins.

In 1269, Cardinal Ottobono, the Papal Legate, arrived in England and appealed to Prince Edward and his brother Edmund to participate in the Eighth Crusade alongside Louis IX of France. In order to fund the crusade, Edward had to borrow heavily from Louis IX and the French. It is estimated by scholars such as P.R. Coss that Edward raised and spent close to half a million livres.

The number of knights and retainers that accompanied Edward on the crusade was quite small, possibly around 230 knights, other sources stating 1,000. Many of the members of Edward's expedition were close friends and family including his wife Eleanor of Castile, his brother Edmund, and his first cousin Henry of Almain.

The original goal of the crusade was to relieve the beleaguered Christian stronghold of Acre, but Louis had been diverted to Tunis. By the time Edward arrived at Tunis, Louis had died of disease. The majority of the French forces at Tunis thus returned home, but a small number joined Edward who continued to Acre to participate in the Ninth Crusade. After a short stop in Cyprus, Edward arrived in Acre with thirteen ships. Then, in 1271, Hugh III of Cyprus arrived with a contingent of knights.

As soon as Edward arrived in Acre, he sent an embassy to the Mongol ruler of Persia Abagha, an enemy of the Muslims. The embassy was led by Reginald Rossel, Godefroi of Waus and John of Parker, and its mission was to obtain military support from the Mongols. In an answer dated September 4th, 1271, Abagha agreed for cooperation and asked at what date the concerted attack on the Mamluks should take place:

"The messengers that Sir Edward and the Christians had sent to the Tartars came back to Acre, and they did so well that they brought the Tartars with them"

Eracles, p461

The arrival of the additional forces of Hugh III of Cyprus further emboldened Edward, who engaged in a raid on the town of Ququn. At the end of October 1271, the Mongol troops requested by Edward arrived in Syria and ravaged the land from Aleppo southward. Abagha, occupied by other conflicts in Turkestan could only send 10,000 Mongol horsemen under general Samagar from the occupation army in Seljuk Anatolia, plus auxiliary Seljukid troops, but they trigerred an exodus of Muslim populations (who remembered the previous campaigns of Kithuqa) as far south as Cairo.

When Baibars mounted a counter-offensive from Egypt on November 12th, the Mongols had already retreated beyond the Euphrates, but these unsettling events allowed Edward to negociate a ten year peace treaty with the Mamluks. Upon hearing of the death of Henry III, Edward left the Holy Land and returned to England in 1274.

Overall, Edward's crusade was rather insignificant and only gave the city of Acre a reprieve of ten years. However, Edward's reputation was greatly enhanced by his participation in the crusade and was hailed by some contemporary commentators as a new Richard the Lionheart. Furthermore, some historians believe Edward was inspired by the design of the castles he saw while on crusade and incorporated similar features into the castles he built to secure portions of Wales, such as Caernarfon Castle.

One of Edward's early achievements was the conquest of Wales. Under the 1267 Treaty of Montgomery, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd had extended Welsh territories southwards into what had been the lands of the English Marcher lords, and gained the title of Prince of Wales although he still owed homage to the English monarch as overlord. Edward refused to recognize this Treaty - which had been concluded by his father - and in 1275, pirates in Edward's pay intercepted a ship carrying Eleanor de Montfort, Simon de Montfort's only daughter, from France to Wales, where she expected to marry Llywelyn. Edward then imprisoned her at Windsor. After Llywelyn repeatedly refused to pay homage to Edward in 127475, Edward raised an army and launched his first campaign against the Welsh prince in 127677. After this campaign, Llywelyn was forced to pay homage to Edward and was stripped of all but a rump of territory in Gwynedd. But Edward allowed Llywelyn to retain the title of Prince of Wales, and the marriage with Eleanor de Montfort went ahead.

Llywelyn's younger brother, Dafydd (who had briefly been an ally of the English) started another rebellion in 1282. But Edward quickly destroyed the remnants of resistance, capturing, brutally torturing, and executing Dafydd in the following year. To consolidate his conquest, he commenced the construction of a string of massive stone castles encircling the principality, of which Caernarfon Castle provides a notable surviving example.

Wales became incorporated into England under the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284, and in 1301, Edward dubbed his eldest son Edward Prince of Wales, since which time the eldest son of most English monarchs have borne the same title, the only exceptions being Edward III and Edward VII.

The subdual of Wales and its people and their staunch resistance was commemorated in a famous poem The Bards of Wales by the Hungarian poet János Arany in 1857 as a way of encoded resistance to the suppressive politics of Alexander von Bach in Hungary and the planned visit of Franz Joseph I, instead of a poem of praise.

Edward then turned his attentions to Scotland. He had planned to marry off his son and heir Edward, to the heiress Margaret, the Maid of Norway, but when Margaret died with no clear successor, the Scottish Guardians invited Edward's arbitration, to prevent the country from descending into dynastic war. Before the process got underway Edward insisted that he be recognized as Lord Paramount of Scotland, the feudal superior of the realm and, after some initial resistance, this precondition was finally accepted.

Edward presided over a feudal court held at the castle of Berwick-upon-Tweed in November 1292, where judgment was given in favour of John Balliol over other candidates. Balliol was chosen as the candidate with the strongest claim in feudal law, but Edward subsequently used the concessions he had gained to undermine the authority of the new king even summoning Balliol to do homage to him in Westminster in 1293. Edward also made it clear he expected John's military and financial support against France. But this was too much for Balliol, who concluded a pact with France and prepared an army to invade England.

In response Edward gathered his largest army yet - 25,000 men and razed Berwick, massacring almost the whole population of 11,000 inhabitants. He then proceeded to Dunbar and Edinburgh from where the Stone of Destiny was removed and taken to Westminster Abbey. Balliol renounced the crown and was imprisoned in the Tower of London for three years before withdrawing to his estates in France. All freeholders in Scotland were required to swear an oath of homage to Edward, and he ruled Scotland like a province through English viceroys.

Opposition sprang up, and Edward executed the focus of discontent, William Wallace, on 23rd August 1305, having earlier defeated him at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298

Edward's plan to conquer Scotland never came to fruition during his lifetime, however, as he died ion 7th July 1307 at Burgh-by-Sands, Cumberland on the Scottish border, while on his way to wage another campaign against the Scots under the leadership of Robert the Bruce. According to chroniclers, Edward desired to have his bones carried on Scottish military campaigns, and that his heart be taken to the Holy Land. Against his wishes, Edward was buried in Westminster Abbey in a plain black marble tomb, which in later years was painted with the words Scottorum malleus, Latin for Hammer of the Scots.  He was buried in a lead casket wishing to be moved to the usual regal gold casket only when Scotland was fully conquered and part of the Kingdom of England.

To this day he still lies in the lead casket, although the thrones of Scotland and England were united in 1603 following the death of Elizabeth I and the accession of James VI of Scotland to the English throne, and the Kingdom of Great Britain was created in 1707 by the Acts of Union 1707, uniting Scotland and England in an incorporating union, the conquest Edward envisaged was never completed. His son, King Edward II of England, succeeded him.

Unlike his father, Henry III, Edward I took great interest in the workings of his government and undertook a number of reforms to regain royal control in government and administration. It was during Edward's reign that Parliament began to meet regularly. And though still extremely limited to matters of taxation, it enabled Edward I to obtain a number of taxation grants which had been impossible for Henry III.

After returning from the crusade in 1274, a major inquiry into local malpractice and alienation of royal rights took place. The result was the Hundred Rolls of 1275, a detailed document reflecting the waning power of the Crown. It was also the allegations that emerged from the inquiry which led to the first of the series of codes of law issued during the reign of Edward I. In 1275, the first Statute of Westminster was issued correcting many specific problems in the Hundred Rolls. Similar codes of law continued to be issued until the death of Edward's close adviser Robert Burnell in 1292.

In 1290, by the Edict of Expulsion, Edward formally expelled all Jews from England. In the course of this persecution, he arrested all the heads of Jewish households. The authorities took over 300 of them to the Tower of London and executed them, while killing others in their homes. All money and property was confiscated.

The exact reason behind this expulsion has been a subject of some speculation, ritual murder being one such assertion in reference to the Jew, Isaac de Pulet, who was contained for the murder of a young Christian boy in Oxford. It has been also claimed, for example, that the persecution was for financial gain. But despite the fact that the Jewish community was thought to deal exclusively in moneylending, it is evident that by the time of Edward's reign, there was little left of the community to be made useful for the Crown financially. Jews had been harshly squeezed by King John and Henry III. Furthermore, Edward I had adequate financial resources from the Italian banking company of Riccadi before 1292, therefore there was virtually no financial motive behind Edward's persecution of the Jews.

The expulsion can also be viewed in the context of the 13th century's growing movement of anti-Jewish feeling; France, for example, had expelled all Jews from its cities. Edward's mother, Eleanor of Provence had expelled Jews from her estates in 1275. And it was Edward who introduced to England the practice of forcing Jews to wear denotive yellow patches on the outer garments, a practice to be taken up by Adolf Hitler over six centuries later.

The Mongol ruler Arghun sent several embassies to European rulers from 1287, in an attempt to mount combined operations against the Mamluks in the Holy Land. In 1287, he sent the Nestorian Rabban Bar Sauma, with the objective of contracting a military alliance to fight the Muslims in the Middle-East, and take the city of Jerusalem. Sauma returned in 1288 with positive letters from Pope Nicholas IV, Edward I of England, and Philip IV the Fair of France whom he had all visited. He met with Edward in the city of Bordeaux:[10].

"King Edward rejoiced greatly, and he was especially glad when Rabban Sauma talked about the matter of Jerusalem. And he said "We the kings of these cities bear upon our bodies the sign of the Cross, and we have no subject of thought except this matter. And my mind is relieved on the subject about which I have been thinking, when I hear that King Arghun thinketh as I think"

Account of the travels of Rabban Bar Sauma, Chap. VII.

In 1289, Arghun sent a third mission to Europe, in the person of Buscarel of Gisolfe, a Genoese who had settled in Persia. The objective of the mission was to determine at what date concerted Christian and Mongol efforts could start. Arghun commited to march his troops as soon as the Crusaders had disambarked at Saint-Jean-d'Acre. Buscarel was in Rome between 15th July and 30th September 1289. He was in Paris in November-December 1289. Buscarel then went to England to bring Arghun's message to Edward I. He arrived in London on 5th January 290. Edward, whose answer has been preserved, answered enthusiastically to the project but remained evasive and failed to make a clear commitment, probably due the difficult internal situation with the Welsh and the Scots. Edward sent a prominent English notable, Sir Geoffrey de Langley, to accompany Buscarel back to Persia.

Arghun then sent a fourth mission to European courts in 1290, led by a certain Chagan or Khagan, who was accompanied by Buscarel of Gisolfe and a Christian named Sabadin.

All these attempts to mount a combined offensive failed, mainly due the internal conflicts European monarchs had to deal with. In March 1291, Saint-Jean-d'Acre was conquered by the Mamluks in the Siege of Acre, and furthermore Arghun died on 10th March


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