Search This Blog

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Edward I of England

Edward I (1239 – 1307) was born at the Palace of Westminster, the eldest son of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence.


Edward was nicknamed Longshanks as he was very tall for medieval times (6ft 2) with very long arms and legs.

His height made him the tallest English king apart from the 6ft 4in Edward IV.

The English king was golden haired, ruddy cheeked and majestic with an inherited drooping eyelid.

Edward wore cleverly painted, indecently short tunics, fur-lined with wide, almost pointlessly long pointed sleeves.

He is said to have spoken with a lisp.


In 1254 at the age of 15 Edward married the placid 8-year old Spanish Eleanor of Castile.

Eleanor bore him sixteen children, though only one son, the future Edward II and five daughters survived infancy.

Edward was a bad tempered father but he loved his wife and he remained faithful to her. She accompanied him everywhere including on crusade and his military expeditions to Wales.

Eleanor died in 1290, of blood poisoning after sucking the pus out of her husband's septic battle wound, near Lincoln.

Her death affected Edward deeply and he displayed his grief by erecting twelve Eleanor crosses, one at each place where her funeral cortège stopped for the night.  Three still survive at Geddington and Hardingstone in Northamptonshire and Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire.

King Edward erected the original Charing Cross in London in the middle of the village of Charing at the spot where Queen Eleanor's coffin last halted on it's way from Harby, Nottinghamshire to Westminster. The cross was destroyed by Puritans in 1647.

Eleanor was finally buried at Westminster Abbey. The internal organs of the late Queen can be found at Lincoln Minister. They were not transported with her body to London as they would have rotted before they got there.

In 1299 Edward married Marguerite of France (known as the "Pearl of France" by her English subjects) (d 1318). The sister of Philip III of France, she bore him another two sons, Thomas and Edward and one daughter.


Edward I  had a kingly appetite and ate large quantities of meat such as beef, mutton, veal, game and poultry as well as some fish such as carp, eels, lamprey and pike.

Edward I ordered his sheriffs in 1274 to provide 278 bacon hogs, 450 porkers, 440 fat oxen, 430 sheep, and 22,600 hens and capons for his coronation feast.

His 1307 royal inventory showed seven forks- six silver and one gold and thousands of knives.

Edward was fascinated by the legends of King Arthur and his knights. He liked to establish Round Tables on the Arthurian pattern after special occasions.

The athletic Edward like many Kings of his day enjoyed hunting in the forests, hawking along the rivers  or participating in jousting tournaments.

The first ever recorded mention of cricket can be found in Edward's laundry accounts which mention a match at Newenden Kent.

Edward's motto was "Pactum Serva" (meaning "keep troth"). He later had this transcribed on his tomb.

IN 1296 Pope Boniface VIII issued “Clericis Laicos” which threatened excommunication for any lay ruler who taxed the clergy and any clergyman who paid the taxes. Despite being pious himself, Edward I retorted by decreeing if the clergy did not pay, they would be stripped of all legal protection and the King’s sheriff would seize their properties. The pope backed down.

To finance his war to conquer Wales, Edward I taxed the Jewish moneylenders. However, the cost of the king's ambitions soon drained the money-lenders dry. Anti-Semitism, a long-existing attitude, increased substantially, and when the Jews could no longer pay, the state accused them of disloyalty. Already restricted to a limited number of occupations, Edward abolished their right to lend money.

Edward decreed that all Jews (numbering about 16,000) must wear a yellow patch in the shape of a star attached to their outer clothing to identify them in public, an idea Adolf Hitler would echo 650 years later.

In the course of King Edward's persecution of the Jews, 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.

Finally, on July 18, 1290, the king issued the Edict of Expulsion, banishing all Jews from England. They emigrated to France and the Netherlands, as well as to countries such as Poland, which at that time protected them.


On November 16, 1272, King Henry III died and as his eldest son, Prince Edward became King of England as Edward I.

Prince Edward became the English king while travelling during the Ninth Crusade. He did not return to England for nearly two years to assume the throne.

Originally he chose to be called Edward IV (after Edward the Elder, Edward the Martyr and Edward the Confessor) who had all reigned before 1066 when numbering of Kings was introduced.

One day Edward was crossing Rochester Bridge on a horse hired from a certain Richard Lombard. When the poor animal was blown into the River Medway and drowned, Lombard received 12 shillings from the King in compensation for his loss.

King Edward passed a statute in 1275 decreeing that "time immemorial" was any point in time prior to the year when King Richard I began his reign in 1189.

Edward was one of the founding Fathers of Parliament. He made the House of Commons common by allowing in commoners to sit with the nobles.

The Model Parliament was originally called when Edward was informed, whilst hunting, that Llewelyn ab Gruffydd and his followers were revolting. His nobles, clergy and knights met under an oak in Sherwood Forest and decided to fight without delay. This was the first gathering of the Lords and Commons. By summoning frequent meetings to pass his orders onto his subjects, the English king gave Parliament an accepted place in the English system.

After the town of Winchelsea was submerged, Edward rebuilt it using a grid pattern. This was the first example in Britain of town planning.


In 1264 the future Edward I was captured with his father Henry III at the Battle of Lewes by the rebel leader, Simon de Montfort. The prince later escaped and Montfort was defeated at the Battle of Evesham in 1265. Within two years the rebellion was extinguished.

Edward led a crusade in the Holy Land between 1270-74, accompanied by Queen Eleanor, which resulted in little material gain. He led two raids into Palestine, and survived a Moslem assassination attempt.

At Acre during the Ninth Crusade, Edward was struck by an assassin's poisoned dagger. Eleanor devotedly cared for the king and saved his life. The Arabic word "assassin" was introduced into the English language through this incident.

Arriving in Sicily on his journey home, Edward was met on with the news that his father had died on November 16, 1272 and he was the new English king. Rather than hurrying home at once, he made a leisurely journey northwards. It took him nearly two years to return to England to assume the throne.

Edward established English rule over Wales between 1282-84. He promised the Welsh chieftains a prince who could speak no English and in 1284 he presented them with his baby son, starting the custom of the Crown Prince of Wales.

Edward I fleeced the farmers by constantly pushing up the wool tax to pay for his battles. The Welsh wars cost ten times the king’s annual income.

Following the death of young Margaret in 1290,  Scotland was left without a king. There were fourteen claimants and the competitors agreed to hand over the realm to Edward until a decision was made. John Balliol was chosen in 1292, however Edward continued to push his claim as overlord of Scotland. He continued to interfere in some of the legal affairs of Scotland, and insisted the Scots provided military service in his army. This caused the Scots to make an alliance with France.

Edward responded by invading Scotland in 1296 and taking Berwick-on-Tweed (see below) on March 30th in a particularly bloody attack. The English king decided to make an example of the town and massacred all its inhabitants.

Although the Scottish conflict seemed settled in 1296, it was started again by William Wallace, who started a rebellion. He defeated a large English force at Stirling Bridge in 1297 while Edward was in Flanders. Edward defeated Wallace at the Battle of Falkirk the following year. After that the Scots avoided open battle in favour of raiding England with small groups.

Edward I once built the largest trebuchet ever in order to lay siege to a Scottish castle. The sight of the giant trebuchet so intimidated the Scots that they tried to surrender, but Edward sent them back so he could use his new weapon to launch 300 lb projectiles at the castle.

The current coronation chair in Westminster Abbey, was originally made for Edward I. It incorporates the Stone of Scone, on which the Scottish kings were once crowned. Edward appropriated it in 1297 to demonstrate Scotland's subservience to the English monarchy.


Edward developed dysentery n his way to another campaign against Scotland, and his condition deteriorated. On July 6, 1307 he encamped at Burgh by Sands, just south of the Scottish border. When his servants came the next morning to lift him up so that he could eat, he died in their arms.

Edward's last words to his son, his successor Edward II, were "carry my bones before you on your march, for the rebels will not be able to endure the sight of me alive or dead."

The epitaph on his Westminster tomb reads "Here lies Edward, the hammer of the Scots."

The tomb of King Edward I in Westminster Abbey was opened in 1774 by the learned Society of Antiquaries. He was found clad in a purple cloak like a Roman emperor and his body was almost perfectly preserved.

Source Daily Express

No comments:

Post a Comment