Page images

whole island of Britain under his sway, and this he at first attempted by peaceable means, afterwards by violence, but in neither was he successful.

Alexander III. of Scotland died in 1287, and his crown fell to his grand-daughter, a child, named Margaret, the Maid of Norway; a marriage treaty, which was intended to unite the two kingdoms, was concluded between her and Prince Edward, but this arrangement failed through her premature death. Numerous competitors arose for the crown, and to avert the danger of civil war the states of Scotland unwisely referred the decision of their claims to Edward. He had recently arbitrated between the kings of France and Arragon concerning the isle of Sicily, but here he was too deeply interested to be just. Having assembled a large army on the border, his first step was to assert that he came to decide the dispute in his quality of sovereign lord, a demand which excited much surprise and remonstrance, but to which the states and the competitors were ultimately obliged to agree, as also to place in his hands the royal castles. A decision was at length given in favour of John Baliol, who did homage for his kingdom; but though acquiesced in for a while, this state of vassalage was odious to the great body of his people: they, rather than the nobles, took up arms, formed an alliance with France, and superseded Baliol. Edward advanced against them, mercilessly ravaged their country from one end to the other, and formally annexed it to England. Very many of the nobles submitted to him, but Wallace and Robert Bruce kept the field. Wallace was captured and executed; Bruce assumed the crown, and though most of his family fell into the hands of Edward, he still stub

bornly maintained the contest, until at length his great enemy died on his borders, in the twelfth year of the war, without having accomplished his object.

The statute law of England assumed much of its present shape in this king's reign, but his own proceedings were frequently of as arbitrary a character as those of any of his predecessors. His wars caused him to resort to the most violent means for raising money; he was obliged solemnly to confirm Magna Charta, to allay the discontents thus occasioned, but he paid little regard to its provisions, and is accused by the archbishop of Canterbury (Robert Winchelsey) of imprisoning freemen unconvicted of any offence for the mere purpose of extorting heavy ransoms from them, whilst his judges scrupled not to declare that it was for the common good that the king should be considered as above the laws and customs of the kingdom.

Edward died at Burgh on the Sands, near Carlisle, July 7, 1307, and was buried, contrary to his own directions, at Westminster, on Oct. 27.

His first wife, Eleanor of Castile, accompanied him to the Crusade, bore him four sons and eight daughters, and died at Grantham, Nov. 28, 1290. He afterwards married Margaret, sister of Philip IV. of France, who bore him two sons and a daughter, and survived him, dying in 1317.


Of his children, John, Henry, Alphonso, Berengaria, See pp. 353, 355, 358.

Several elegant crosses, known by her name, yet mark places where her corpse rested on its way to Westminster; these are not tokens of the affection of her husband, as usually supposed, but were erected by her executors in compliance with directions in her will.

and three others whose names are uncertain, died young.


Thomas of Brotherton, born June 1, 1300, was created earl of Norfolk

in 1313, and had the office of Marshal

Arms of Edward of Caernarvon. of England bestowed on him in 1315; he died in 1338, and was interred at Bury St. Edmund's.

Edmund of Woodstock, born Aug. 5, 1301, was created earl of Kent. He was beheaded at Winchester, March 19, 1330, on a charge of conspiracy against his nephew Edward III.; his daughter Joan became the wife of Edward the Black Prince.

Eleanor, born 1264, married Henry III., duke of Bar, and died in 1298.

Joan of Acre, born in Palestine in 1272, first married Gilbert, earl of Clare and Gloucester, and afterwards Ralph Monthermer, a private gentleman of her retinue; she died in 1307.

Margaret, born 1275, married John II. duke of Brabant, and died in 1318.

Mary, born 1278, became a nun at Amesbury in 1285, and died there, probably in the year 1332.

Elizabeth, born 1282, married first John, count of Holland, and afterwards Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford, who was killed at Boroughbridge, in 1322; she died in May, 1316.

Edward I. bore the same arms as his father and grandfather, but the badge ascribed to him is a rose or, stalked proper.


The character of Edward I. presented a strong contrast to that of his father, being resolute, unbending, and cruel. His na


Arms of Edward I.

ture was evidently most tyrannical, and his conduct in general oppressive to his subjects, and unjust to neighbouring states. His talents, however, were great, both for war and government; he favoured commerce and municipal institutions, and remedied many abuses of the law; he withstood the exactions and demands of the pope, and thus secured the independence of his crown; he enlarged his domains by the conquest of Wales, and apparently he only failed in his design against Scotland from having there to contend with men as able as himself, and animated by the consciousness of a good


A.D. 1272. Edward is proclaimed king, Nov. 20°; Walter Giffard, archbishop of York, the earls of Cornwall and Gloucester, are appointed regents, and Walter de Merton chancellor.

A.D. 1273. Edward passes through Italy and France, and repairs to Gascony, which he reduces to obedience d. Edmund, earl of Lancaster, suppresses an attempt to raise a civil war in the north of England.

He founded several towns in Gascony and some in Wales, which proved of great importance in prolonging the English rule in the former country. Some interesting particulars concerning the Gascon towns will be found in "The Domestic Architecture of the Middle Ages," vol. ii. pp. 169-173.

The years of his reign are computed from this day.

Gaston de Bearn, one of the chief malcontents (see p. 320), escaped to France; he was, however, sent back to Edward, by whom he was long imprisoned.

A.D. 1274. Edward settles some commercial disputes with the countess of Flanders (Margaret II.) He then returns to England, lands at Dover Aug. 2, and is crowned, with his consort Eleanor, Aug. 19.

Edward repairs to Chester, in September, when Llewelyn declines to meet him; he is in consequence summoned to attend the next parliament at Westminster.

Robert Burnell (afterwards bishop of Bath and Wells) is appointed chancellor.

A.D. 1275. A parliament held at Westminster, near the end of April, when several reformatory statutes are issued; especially one to restrain the usurious practices of the Jews. Llewelyn does not appear1.

Eleanor de Montfort and her brother Almeric (formerly treasurer of York) are captured at sea, near Bristol, by one of the king's ships'.

A.D. 1276. Llewelyn is again summoned to the parliament; he instead sends messengers to offer a ransom for Eleanor and her brother; it is refused; he is declared by the parliament to have forfeited his lands, and a force ordered to be raised against him.

At the same parliament justices are appointed to hear

He was required to do homage, and also to answer some complaints which his brother David had made to the king as his liege lord.

f He held the office until his death, at Berwick, Oct. 25, 1292.

The expulsion of this hapless race was near at hand, "and," says Matthew of Westminster, "that they might be distinguished from the faithful, the king ordered them to wear on their outer garments a sign like a tablet, of the length of a palm."

h He positively refused to come, saying that he remembered the fate of his father Griffin. See p. 313.

i Eleanor was affianced to Llewelyn, and on her way to marry him; she was, too, the king's cousin, and her seizure seems quite unworthy of the great prince that Edward is usually represented.

« PreviousContinue »