Edward I of England

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: British History 1500 and before (including Roman Britain); Monarchs of Great Britain

Edward I
By the Grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, and Duke of Aquitaine
Reign 20 November 1272 – 7 July 1307
Coronation 19 August 1274
Born 17 June 1239
Died July 7, 1307 (aged 68)
Burgh-by-Sands, Cumberland
Buried Westminster
Predecessor Henry III
Successor Edward II
Consort Eleanor of Castile ( 1241– 1290)
Marguerite of France ( 1282– 1317)
Issue Joan of Acre ( 1271– 1307)
Alphonso, Earl of Chester ( 1273– 1284)
Edward II ( 1284– 1327)
Thomas, 1st Earl of Norfolk ( 1300– 1338)
Edmund, 1st Earl of Kent ( 1301– 1330)
Royal House Plantagenet
Father Henry III ( 1207– 1272)
Mother Eleanor of Provence (c. 1223– 1291)

Edward I ( 17 June 1239 – 7 July 1307), popularly known as Longshanks, also as "Edward the Lawgiver" 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 21 November 1272 after the death of his father, King Henry III of England. His mother was Queen consort Eleanor of Provence. He was voted the 94th greatest Briton in the 2002 poll of 100 Greatest Britons.

Childhood and marriage to Eleanor

Edward was born at the Palace of Westminster on the evening of 17 June 1239. He was an older brother of Beatrice of England and Edmund Crouchback, 1st Earl of Lancaster. 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 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 revenues from the province.

Edward's first marriage was arranged in 1254 by his father and Alphonso X, the ruler of Castile. Alphonso 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 Alphonso and married to Eleanor of Castile on 1 November 1254 in the monastery of Las Huelgas.

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 9 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 of 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.

Early adulthood before accession

In 1258 Henry was forced by his barons to accede to the Provisions of Oxford; the barons also were opposed to the Lusignans, Henry's half-brothers; Edward was at this time an ally of the Lusignans. This led to an attempt by the barons to control Edward's political activities by forcing four councillors upon him: John Balliol, Roger de Mohaut, John de Grey and Stephen Longespée. The councillors do not appear to have had much effect on Edward's behaviour, however, and on 14 March 1259 Edward made an alliance with the Earl of Gloucester, who had been a key instigator of the Provisions of Oxford. Thereafter Edward became more aligned with the barons and their promised reforms, and on 15 October 1259 he announced that he was allied with Simon de Montfort, and 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' 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.

English Royalty
House of Plantagenet

Armorial of Plantagenet
Edward I
    Joan, Countess of Gloucester
    Alphonso, Earl of Chester
   Edward II
    Thomas, Earl of Norfolk
    Edmund, Earl of Kent

Eleanor and Edward had 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 cortège stopped for the night. His second marriage, in September 1299, to Marguerite of France (known as the "Pearl of France" by her English subjects), the daughter of King Philip III of France (Phillip the Bold) and Maria of Brabant, produced three children.

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.

Military campaigns


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. 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 that Edward arrived at Tunis, Louis had died of disease. The majority of the French forces at Tunis returned home, but a small number of them joined Edward who continued onward to Acre to participate in the Ninth Crusade. After a short stop in Cyprus, Edward arrived in Acre with thirteen ships. While in Acre, Edward engaged in diplomacy with the Mongols hoping to form an alliance against Sultan Baibars of Egypt. In 1271, Hugh III of Cyprus arrived with a contingent of knights. The arrival of the additional forces emboldened Edward, who engaged in a raid on the town of Ququn. Soon afterward Edward signed a ten year peace treaty with Baibars. Around the same time, Edward was nearly assassinated but warded off his attacker, according to Matthew Paris, by bludgeoning his would-be assassin with a metal tripod. Upon hearing of the death of Henry III, Edward left the Holy Land and returned to England in 1274.

Overall, Edward's crusade was 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.

Welsh Wars

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 the Treaty which had been concluded by his father. In 1275, pirates in Edward's pay intercepted a ship carrying Eleanor de Montfort, Simon de Montfort's only daughter, from France (where her family had lived in exile) to Wales, where she expected to marry Llywelyn. The parties' families had arranged the marriage previously, when an alliance with Simon de Montfort still counted politically. However, Llywelyn wanted the marriage largely to antagonise his long-standing enemy, Edward. With the hijacking of the ship, Edward gained possession of Eleanor and imprisoned her at Windsor. After Llywelyn repeatedly refused to pay homage to Edward in 1274–75, Edward raised an army and launched his first campaign against the Welsh prince in 1276–77. 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.

However, Llywelyn's younger brother, Dafydd (who had briefly been an ally of the English) started another rebellion in 1282. Llywelyn died shortly afterwards in a skirmish. Subsequently, Edward 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 each English monarch has borne the same title.

Scottish Wars

Edward then turned his attentions to Scotland. He had planned to marry off his son 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. 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. The matter had been perfectly fair, and John 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. Indeed, Edward summoned John Balliol to do homage to him in Westminster in 1293 and 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.

Edward I depicted in Cassell's History of England (1902)
Edward I depicted in Cassell's History of England (1902)

Edward gathered his largest army yet and razed Berwick, massacring its inhabitants, and proceeded to Dunbar and Edinburgh. The Stone of Destiny was removed from Scone Palace and taken to Westminster Abbey. Until 1996, it formed the seat on King Edward's Chair, on which all English monarchs since 1308 have been crowned, with the exception of Mary I. In 1996, the stone was returned to Scotland, to return only during royal coronations. 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 (see Wars of Scottish Independence), and Edward executed the focus of discontent, William Wallace, on 23 August 1305, having earlier defeated him at the Battle of Falkirk (1298). His plan to conquer Scotland never came to fruition during his lifetime, however, and he died in 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. Against his wishes, Edward was buried in Westminster Abbey. 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 a personal union 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.

Government and law under Edward I

A portrait of Edward I hangs in the United States House of Representatives chamber. It was Edward who founded the parliamentary constitution of England and eliminated the divisive political effects of the feudal system.
A portrait of Edward I hangs in the United States House of Representatives chamber. It was Edward who founded the parliamentary constitution of England and eliminated the divisive political effects of the feudal system.

Unlike his father, Henry III of England, 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. He also instituted numerous reforms on the law, most noticeably via the series of Statutes issued during the early years of his reign. He spearheaded a wave of nationalism and solidified central authority over the country, a trend also used by contemporary monarchs.

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, this was 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.

Edward held to the concept of community, and although at times unscrupulously aggressive, ruled with the general welfare of his subjects in mind. He perceived the crown as judge of the proper course of action for the realm and its chief legislator; royal authority was granted by law and should be fully utilized for the public good, but that same law also granted protection to the king's subjects. A king should rule with the advice and consent of those whose rights were in question. The level of interaction between king and subject allowed Edward considerable leeway in achieving his goals.

Late in his reign, Edward I issued the first trailbaston commissions (1305–07). It was also during Edward's reign that the parliament began to meet regularly, though its use was still extremely limited to matters of taxation. It was during Edward's reign that the Model Parliament was convened. Traditionally, this is the start of the regular participation of the Commons in Parliament. Nevertheless by interacting with his magnates, Edward I obtained a number of taxation grants which had been impossible under the reign of Henry III.

Edward's character found accurate evaluation by Sir Richard Baker, in A Chronicle of the Kings of England: "He had in him the two wisdoms, not often found in any, single; both together, seldom or never: an ability of judgement in himself, and a readiness to hear the judgement of others. He was not easily provoked into passion, but once in passion, not easily appeased, as was seen by his dealing with the Scots; towards whom he showed at first patience, and at last severity. If he be censured for his many taxations, he may be justified by his well bestowing them; for never prince laid out his money to more honour of himself, or good of his kingdom."

Edward and the Jews

Though the Jews were expelled from England under the reign of Edward I, the reason behind it was far from financial. 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. As such, with the thirteenth century's growing movement of anti-Jewish feeling, and with France as the first country to expel Jews from her cities, the expulsion was as much a sop to popular opinion as a recognition that their coffers were empty. Moreover Edward's mother, Eleanor of Provence had expelled Jews from her estates in 1275 and it was only in 1290 that Edward formally expelled all Jews from England. It was Edward who introduced to England the practice of forcing Jews to wear denotive yellow patches on the outer garments, a practise to be taken up by Adolf Hitler over six centuries 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, in 1290, the King banished all Jews from the country, by the Edict of Expulsion, confiscating all of their their money and property.


  • He was known to be fond of falconry and horse riding. The names of his horses have survived: Lyard, his war horse; Ferrault his hunting horse; and his favourite, Bayard. At the Siege of Berwick, Edward is said to have led the assault personally, using Bayard to leap over the earthen defences of the city.
  • He was largely responsible for the Tower of London in the form we see today, including notably the concentric defences, elaborate entranceways, and the Traitor's Gate.
  • He initially intended to call himself Edward IV, recognising the three Saxon kings of England of that name. However, for unknown reasons, this designation does not appear to have been formally used, the King instead being known as 'King Edward' not only by custom (for a King would generally not be known by his regnal designation in ordinary conversation), but in all known formal documentation. Upon the accession of his son, also named Edward, the custom of the old reign was taken as rule - the new King was named Edward II, and the old Edward I. Technically, then, this established the custom of numbering English monarchs only from the Norman Conquest (although Edward is the only name that has been shared by pre- and post-Conquest monarchs).
  • He made extensive use of a large trebuchet called the War Wolf to besiege Scottish castles.
  • He was portrayed by Patrick McGoohan in Braveheart.
  • His Royal motto was pactum serva, 'Keep faith'
  • His life was dramatized in a Renaissance play by George Peele, The Famous Chronicle of King Edward the First.


Children of Edward and Eleanor:

  1. Daughter, stillborn in May 1255 in Bordeaux, France.
  2. Katherine, born 17 June 1264, died 5 September 1264 and buried at Westminster Abbey.
  3. Eleanor, born 17 June 1264 and died 12 October 1297. She married (1) Alfonso III of Aragon, (2) Count Henry III of Bar.
  4. Joan, born January 1265, buried at Westminster Abbey before 7 September 1265.
  5. John, born 13 July 1266, died 3 August 1271 at Wallingford, in the custody of his granduncle, Richard, Earl of Cornwall. Buried at Westminster Abbey.
  6. Henry, born before 6 May 1268, died 16 October 1274.
  7. Juliana (Katherine), born May 1271 in Palestine and died before September 1271.
  8. Joan of Acre born May 1271 and died 7 April 1307. She married (1) Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Hertford, (2) Ralph Morthermer, 1st Baron Monthermer.
  9. Alphonso, Earl of Chester, born 24 November 1273, died 19 August 1284, buried in Westminster Abbey.
  10. Margaret, born 15 March 1275 and died after 1333. She married John II, Duke of Brabant.
  11. Berengaria, born 1 May 1276 and died before 27 June 1278, buried in Westminster Abbey.
  12. Elizabeth? and Alice, died shortly after birth, January 1278.
  13. Mary, born 11 March 1279 and died 29 May 1332, a nun in Amesbury, Wiltshire (England).
  14. Elizabeth of Rhuddlan, born 7 August 1282 at Rhuddlan Castle, Denbighshire, Wales, died 5 May 1316 at Quendon, Essex, England. She married (1) John I, Count of Holland, (2) Humphrey de Bohun, 4th Earl of Hereford & 3rd Earl of Essex.
  15. Edward of Caernarvon, later Edward II, King of England, born 25 April 1284 at Caernarfon, died 21 September 1327. He married Isabella of France.
  16. Beatrice, born c. 1286
  17. Blanche, born 1290

Children of Edward and Marguerite:

  1. Thomas of Brotherton, 1st Earl of Norfolk ( 1300– 1338), married firstly, Alice Hayles and had issue. He married secondly, Mary Brewes and had issue.
  2. Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent, ( 1301– 1330), married Margaret Wake, 3rd Baroness Wake of Liddell and had issue. Executed by Isabella of France and Roger Mortimer following the overthrow of Edward II.
  3. Eleanor ( 1306– 1311), died young.
Retrieved from " http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_I_of_England"