Edward I. Conquering hero to the English, meddling tosspot to the Welsh. Courtesy of a rediscovered flash drive, here are my revision notes on the guy for 'Paper 3: British Political and Constitutional History, 1050 - 1509', which I was studying back in Lent term of 2008. I've inserted lots of links to Wikipedia for further reading, to clarify which historian I'm referring to, and so on.
If you're interested, you can check out my other university essays and notes HERE.
Edward I, 1272 - 1307
Traditional: A great king, Hammer of the Scots and Conqueror of Wales.
Whig (eg. Stubbs): A qualified success – things went downhill after 1294.
Maddicott: Immediate reforms in 1274 are to restore order and royal authority, rather than a sign of greatness.
Richardson: Edward was a “pitiable strategist.”
Modern historians are less impressed by military success than their earlier counterparts. Many claim that even his success on the battlefield was more the result of brute force than of intelligent strategy. Such historians would argue that later campaigns, and the later reign as a whole, failed as lack of funds and troops made strategy more important; something Edward was ill-equipped for.
- Harriss: If parliament had a real right of consent it would have used it to avoid the annual levies of 1294-7.
- McFarlane: Edward was reticent about land patronage as it alienated land needed for his children.
- Musson and Ormrod: The demise of the general eyre left a gaping hole in the English judicial system and left the provinces without a means of redress. [But regular assize circuits from 1273, oyer and terminer, Trailbaston commissions used in 1305 and 1307]
Peter Langtoft: “there is neither king nor prince of all the countries, except king Edward who had united them.”
Annals of Connacht (1307): “Edward the Great, King of England, Wales and Scotland, duke of Gascony and Lord of Ireland.”
Chronicle of Bury St Edmunds (1296): “England, Scotland and Wales are under his sway. He has thereby acquired the former monarchy of the whole of Britain, for so long fragmented and truncated.”
Edward: The Early Years
- Born June 1239 to Henry III.
- Married Eleanor of Castile (aged 9) in 1254.
- Edward was given Gascony and spent a year there.
- After initially supporting Simon de Montfort, Edward fought against him, becoming a hostage after de Montfort’s victory at the Battle of Lewes in 1264.
- May 1265: Edward escaped and went on to defeat de Montfort at Evesham in August.
- In 1270 parliament granted a tax for Edward to go on crusade.
- Whilst he was away Henry III died 16th November 1272, Edward succeeded to the throne without opposition.
Edward: The First Phase (1272-7)
- Edward stayed away for the first 2 years, not returning until August 1274. Not because he was afraid, but because he felt the English throne was secure. He dealt with the more pressing problems in Gascony.
- As soon as Edward returned he set about making reforms. In September the sheriffs were changed and a new shrieval oath was returned. In October the Hundred Rolls inquiries were commissioned. Not to restore authority but to *assert* it; though realises he needs to keep the common people on side.
- Relation with individuals could be tense though. Eg. In 1274 he cheated the heir of the Countess of Aumale out of his inheritance by supporting a fake heir, and then buying the lands for the crown from the imposter at well below their market value.
- In this period Edward made it easier to access royal justice. Eg. Subjects were encouraged to bring “querelae” (informal petitions). In response the number of commissions of “Oyer and Terminer” (to enquire into and bring jury together to reach verdicts on accusations) increased. In April 1275, he passed the first statute of Westminster which gave new punishments for corrupt officials and codified existing laws in return for parliamentary taxation -> shows Edward was willing to work with the grain.
- November 1276 = First Welsh War of Independence; lasted until 1277 and cost c. £20,000 which, relatively speaking, wasn’t too bad. Llywelyn remained prince in name.
Edward: Phase Two (1278-85)
Continued to make legal reforms -
August 1278: statute of Gloucester enabled querelae to be brought to the eyre.
In October/December 1278 sheriffs were replaced with local gentry (who, it was believed, would be more sympathetic to locals) – makes them more accountable, not less open to corruption.
Second hundred rolls enquiries commenced in 1279 (to uncover encroachments into demesne land, knights fees, feudal rights and liberties) but was abandoned in the early 1280s – it was simply too big a task.
1285: Statute of Westminster II restricted the alienation of land.
Statute of Winchester codified the policing system.
Recoinage in 1279.
1284 new treasurer, John Kirkby and exchequer accounting practices were reformed in March 1284 with the Statute of Rhuddlan. From 1285 the exchequer pursued crown debts more vigorously.
Welsh War -
1282-3 Cost c. £100,000. Imposing English law in Wales meant Dafydd defected back to Llywelyn.
In 1284 the Statute of Wales made its conquer official.
Edward: Phase Three (1286-93)
- Edward goes abroad to deal with Gascony 1286-9.
- 1287 Welsh rebellion, result of a lack of reward for the Welsh who had allied with Edward during the war.
- 1289: Edward returns from Gascony to find his administration blighted by widespread official corruption. Commissioned an inquiry that results in the state trials of various judges and officials (eg. Ralph Hengham and Thomas Weyland who were both dismissed.)
- 1290: Statute of Quo Warranto (fixes Richard Is reign as legal limit of memory for property).
- Statute of Quia Emptores stopped subinfeudation (ie. Loss of revenue for lords!) in return for parliamentary grants to help repay Edwards’s £110,000 debt from Gascony.
- October 1292: Death of the chancellor, Robert Burnell, Edwards’s right hand man.
- 1293: centralisation of gaol delivery commissions.
- Ordinance of Conspirators (shows Edward’s increasing paranoia and desire or control in the localities)
- Scotland: Alexander III of Scotland had died in 1286 leaving only his daughter, Margaret of Norway. Many Scottish nobles joined the “Turnberry Band”, reserving their allegiance for Edward. In 1290 the Treaty of Birgham promised Scotland would retain its independence, but Margaret would marry Edward, later prince of Wales. Margaret died on the trip over from Norway however and Edward was called in to arbitrate between the claimants to the throne (inc. John Hastings and Robert the Bruce the Elder), choosing John Balliol who had both the strongest claim and the most support. Edward now considered himself official overlord of Scotland and demanded homage from Balliol in December 1292.
Edward: Phase Four (1294-1301)
- Demise of the general eyre. Some say this resulted in the collapse of justice.
- March 1294: Philip IV of France declared Gascony confiscate, making war inevitable. Edward demands his troops serve abroad (inc. Balliol and 18 Scot magnates as feudal service – they don’t because of 1294/5 Welsh rebellion).
- 1294/5: £54,000 spent on Welsh war.
- 1295: the Scots make a pact of mutual aid with the French and attack Carlisle in March 1296. English stormed Berwick and defeated the Scottish forces at Dunbar; Balliol was imprisoned and hundreds of lords were made to swear oaths of fealty in parliament at Berwick. English administration was set up to collect revenue for the wars, opposition emerged.
- 1296 Pope Boniface VIII proclaims, enforced by Archbishop Winchelsey, that the church was not to be taxed to fund Christian bloodshed, on pain of excommunication
- 1297: Edward goes abroad to fight in Flanders, forcing high taxes at home. In September his earls suffer a humiliating defeat by Wallace at Stirling Bridge in his absence.
- In November 1297 Edward was forced to issue the confirmation of the charters (“Confirmation Cartarum”) – proper consent would be needed to levy taxes, and no precedent would be made of 1297’s high taxes.
- * Opposition to foreign service. 1297 earls of Hereford and Norfolk refuse to serve in Gascony.
- 1298: Scottish defeat at Falkirk in July. Edward forced to make investigations of the boundaries of the royal forests.
- 1300: Another defeat for the Scots at Caerlaverock. In March Edward is forced to grant the Articles on the Charters because only £12,000 could be spared for the Scottish war.
- 1301: Another campaign, but Edward forced to agree a truce (Asinieres) by the French, who are prepared to send aid to the Scots.
- English mutiny at Berwick over unpaid wages. * English troops had outclassed and outnumbered the Welsh, the same was NOT true in Scotland. Men were ill-equipped and desertion was commonplace; only 2,500 of the 16,000 turned out to the summoned muster at Berwick in November 1299, and even those had deserted within a few days. *
Edward: Phase Five (1302-07)
- 1302: French defeated by the Flemings at the Courtrai. Forced the French to negotiate a truce with Edward, leaving him free to campaign in Scotland in 1303.
- 1304: majority of Scottish leaders surrendered to Edward, and a new Scottish council was elected.
- 1305: Wallace captured and executed as a rebel. A new pope, Clement V, annulled the Confirmatio Cartarum and ordered the clergy to pay a tenth for the next seven years.
- 1306: Rebellion of Robert the Bruce begins.
- 1307: Edward dies in July at Carlisle, whilst preparing for a campaign to Scotland against Bruce.
Was Edward a success pre-1294, failure thereafter?
- War: Starts off well, but not the best strategist, and under fire from all sides by 1297 – fighting in Scotland, Wales, Gascony and Flanders. Demands for feudal service abroad causes further tensions. Post 1294: foe more sophisticated.
- Church: Caused difficulties for him until Pope Clement V is elected in 1305.
- Finances: Difficult to raise enough – at least without making concessions to parliament. Edward I was in £200,000 debt to the Frescobaldi by the end of his reign. 1294-7 heavy tax on wool brought in £110,000 and there were still further seizures of wool in April and July 1297. People weren’t sick of the frequency of Edward’s plea of necessity so much as they just want him to keep ASKING. In his opinion however once they had recognised his plea once he didn’t see why they should have to go through the process again.
- Law and Order: Starts off well. After 1294 vagabond gangs, etc. Edward held two parliaments per annum in the early years, but they just ratified.
So, you could argue, a success pre-1294 but a failure thereafter. The fault lay more with external pressure than Edward himself. Then qualify both: Eg. After 1294, given the circumstances, Edward was actually fairly successful as the English held their own despite the funding problems. On the other hand, Edward did not face the civil wars of his father, Henry III’s, reign or the intense baronial opposition that led to the deposition of his son, Edward II.