Edward I of England

Edward I of England


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Edward I of England reigned as king from 1272 to 1307 CE. Edward succeeded his father Henry III of England (r. 1216-1272 CE) and was known as 'Longshanks' for his impressive height and as 'the Hammer of the Scots' for his repeated attacks on Scotland. In an eventful and often brutal reign, he fought in a crusade, subdued Wales, had a good go at conquering Scotland, and built many fine castles which still survive today, particularly in North Wales. He was succeeded by his son Edward II of England (r. 1307-1327 CE) and then his grandson Edward III of England (r. 1327-1377 CE).

Second Baron's War & Succession

Prince Edward was born on 17 or 18 June 1239 CE, the eldest son of Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence (1223-1291 CE). Known for his fiery temper and self-confidence, Edward was nicknamed 'Longshanks' because of his height - 1.9 metres (6 ft. 2 inches), an unusually impressive stature for medieval times. He was strong, athletic, and as good a horseman as he was a swordsman. Edward was a staunch supporter of the medieval tournament, an event he often took part in personally, once famously unseating the Count of Chalon in a tournament held in Chalon. Destined to be king, the young prince would still have to battle hard to ensure his father's and his own throne remained secure from usurpers.

Edward I was not content with ruling England & Wales but also set his sights on Scotland.

Henry III had successfully put an end to the Barons' War which had been fuelled by discontent over his father King John of England's rule (r. 1999-1216 CE) and his failure to honour the Magna Carta charter of liberties. Henry and his regent Sir William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke (c. 1146-1219 CE), considered the greatest of all medieval knights, defeated the rebel barons in battle at Lincoln on 20 May 1217 CE. Unfortunately, Henry did not grasp the lesson and his ineffective military campaigns, high taxes to pay for them, and excessive patronage of his French relatives only resulted in a second Barons' War.

The barons wanted a limit on royal power and stipulated in the 1258 CE Provisions of Oxford that taxes should go to the Treasury and not be available for the king's whims, and that a ruling council of 15 barons should advise the king. Another body, a parlement, was established as a place for discussion of policy to which knights of the counties and burgesses of certain boroughs were invited to participate. Henry repudiated the Provisions in 1262 CE and so a civil war broke out.

Things did not go well for the royalists. On 14 May 1264 CE, after the Battle of Lewes, the king and Prince Edward were both captured by the rebel leader Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester (l. c. 1208-1265 CE) who then made himself king in 1264 CE. Fortunately for Henry, his son Edward managed to escape confinement in May 1265 CE and so could help restore the rightful monarch to the throne.

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Edward, who had already gained valuable military experience from his father's campaigns in Wales, raised an army of loyalists and those barons already upset by de Montfort's self-seeking policies and defeated the rebels at the Battle of Evesham in Worcestershire on 4 August 1265 CE. De Montfort was killed, and Henry was restored but spent much of his later years away from politics and improving the country's architectural monuments such as Westminster Abbey and Lincoln Cathedral.

Edward's tomb was inscribed with the following legend: 'Edward I, Hammer of the Scots. Keep the Faith'.

Edward, in effect, acted as regent for his father and following Henry's death, probably from a stroke, on 16 November 1272 CE, Prince Edward became Edward I of England. As Edward was away on what is sometimes called the Ninth Crusade (1271-2 CE), the actual coronation did not take place until 19 August 1274 CE, as usual at Westminster Abbey. Edward would reign until 1307 CE.

Personal Life

Edward married Eleanor of Castile (b. 1242 CE) in October 1254 CE when she was 12 and he was just 15 years old but the match worked out well. Eleanor even accompanied her husband on his crusade and when she died in 1290 CE, Edward suffered her loss greatly. The passage of her coffin from Lincoln to London was commemorated by the setting up of 12 monumental crosses, and one of these, the last on the route, would give London's Charing Cross its name. Edward, already with a family of 11 daughters and four sons, did marry again, on 10 September 1299 CE, to Margaret (c. 1282-1318 CE), the daughter of Philip III of France (r. 1270-1285 CE). Margaret was more than 40 years younger than Edward, but the marriage was another success.

Subjugation of Wales

Henry III's string of military defeats in Wales (1228, 1231, and 1232 CE) had led to Henry conferring on Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (c. 1223-1282 CE) the title of Prince of Wales. The Welshman's independence was further asserted when he refused to attend Edward's coronation in 1274 CE. The new king was rather better at warfare than his father had been, though, and Edward was intent on taking revenge for the slight. Organising a massive army in 1276 CE, the English king marched into Wales and stripped Llywelyn of his lands, although he did permit him to keep his now-meaningless royal title. Nevertheless, the Welsh still had ambitions of freedom from English rule and Llywelyn's brother Dafydd stirred up yet another rebellion. The rebels were defeated and Llywelyn was killed in 1282 CE, his head presented to the English king in triumph and then displayed at the Tower of London. Dafydd was eventually captured, and he was executed, too, using the brutal method reserved for traitors: hanging, drawing, and quartering the victim.

Edward now became determined to thoroughly impose his domination of the region, particularly in North Wales where the rebels had had their headquarters, by building a series of mighty castles. From 1283 CE onwards such imposing fortresses as Caernarfon Castle, Conwy Castle, and Harlech Castle were built. The king made sure his castles were often built on sites of cultural and historical importance to the Welsh to send a clear message that a new order had begun in the region. He even went so far as to ensure his son Edward was born in Caernarfon Castle - the heart of the English administration in Wales - on 25 April 1284 CE and then bestowed upon him the title of Prince of Wales (formally conferred in 1301 CE). Thereafter, it became customary for an English monarch to give this title to their eldest son.

Despite the castles and the royal propaganda, the Welsh were not quite subdued and another major rebellion broke out, this time led by Madog ap Llywelyn, in 1294 CE. Edward, despite being forced to winter in Conwy Castle, managed to regain control of Caernarfon Castle by 1295 CE. Madog was then defeated by an army led by the Earl of Warwick at Maes Moydog in March 1295 CE, and Wales was henceforth administered as if it were a part of England, the region already having been divided up into shires in the 1284 CE Statute of Rhuddlan in order to beak up the old traditional kingdoms. A new series of castles was then erected to ensure continued obedience, which included Beaumaris Castle, perhaps the finest surviving example of a concentric medieval castle.

Administration in England

Edward attempted to avoid the errors of his predecessors by ensuring his home base of England was secure. The king made sure that the barons and their rights were protected, and that local administration was improved through a land survey (1274-5 CE) and better record-keeping (the Hundred Rolls). The 1275 CE the Statute of Westminster encoded 51 new laws, many based on the Magna Carta. Trial by jury was made mandatory (previously the accused had to consent to it) and Justices of the Peace were appointed.

The Model Parliament met for the first time in 1295 CE which had members from the clergy and knights as well as large estate owners, including two representatives from every shire and town (or borough). Membership of the parliament was still only given to those with wealth, but it was wider than ever before as Edward sought the best possible means to secure support for his greater revenue demands. The parliament also approved Edward's proposed military campaign in Scotland. The king might not have had any interest in limiting his own power or increasing that of the elite but his regular calling of parliament for the purposes of raising taxes nevertheless did kickstart the body as an ever-present institution in English government which acquired a character and precedence of its own. The inclusion of wealthy but untitled members was the beginning of what would become the House of Commons.

Another consequence of the need for funds was the attack on the kingdom's Jewish community. In 1287 CE Edward happily began to expel all Jews from his kingdom, confiscating their property to boost his war coffers and appease the Church who regarded the moneylenders as a threat. By 1290 CE, the policy resulted in almost all 2,000 Jews in the kingdom leaving, one way or another, and Edward was so pleased with his policy that he repeated it in Gascony (see below).

Attacks on Scotland

Edward was not content with ruling England and Wales but also set his sights on Scotland. The English king had hoped to gain control of Scotland via peaceful means when he arranged for his son to marry Margaret, the Maid of Norway who was the granddaughter and heir of King Alexander III of Scotland (r. 1249-1286 CE). Unfortunately, these plans came to nothing when Margaret died of illness on Orkney in September 1290 CE. Edward was then required to adjudicate who would be Alexander's successor (an event often termed the Great Cause): the powerful nobleman John Balliol (b. 1249 CE) or Robert Bruce (b. 1210 CE and grandfather of his more famous namesake). In 1292 CE Edward plumbed for Balliol, perhaps because he was the weaker of the two and so could be more easily manipulated. As it turned out, the Scots themselves grew tired of Balliol's ineffective responses to Edward's domination and open rebellion was in the air.

The English king was just then having problems elsewhere. Wales was about to witness the Madog-led rebellion of 1294 CE and Gascony was under serious threat in France - the king's only territory across the Channel since his father had signed it all away in the 1259 CE Treaty of Paris. Gascony, which provided a nice income through taxation of the flourishing wine trade, was indeed lost to the ambitious Philip IV of France (r. 1285-1314 CE) and the taxes Edward had imposed on the Scots to pay for his failed campaign in France was the final straw. In 1295 CE Scotland formally allied itself with France - the first move in what became known as the 'Auld Alliance' - and Balliol felt confident enough not to pay homage to Edward.

The English king responded emphatically to Scottish disobedience by forming a new army which he led in person to Berwick, the force totalling 25,000-30,000 men. At Berwick, according to the 14th-century CE chronicler Walter of Guisborough, Edward started as he meant to continue and massacred 11,060 of the town's residents. The king, earning the nickname 'the Hammer of the Scots', was now intent on total conquest, and by June he had gone a long way to achieving his goal. Balliol surrendered after the Battle of Dunbar (1296 CE), three English barons were nominated to rule Scotland and Edward even stole the Stone of Scone (aka Stone of Destiny) which was a symbol of the Scottish monarchy, relocating it to Westminster Abbey under the coronation chair. The stone was only returned in 1996 CE. There was, too, good news from France where Gascony was returned to Edward following the Pope's intervention in the dispute. The friendly relations were cemented by Edward's marriage to Philip III's daughter Margaret and the Prince of Wales' betrothal to Isabella, daughter of Philip IV of France.

Scotland was never quite subdued, though, and despite invasions in 1298 and 1300 CE, a major rebellion broke out led by the landowner (and later knight) William Wallace (c. 1270-1305 CE) - eponymous star of the 1995 CE film Braveheart - and Sir Andrew Moray of Bothwell. The rebels won a famous victory in September 1297 CE at the Battle of Stirling Bridge but Edward, leading his army in person, won another encounter in July 1298 CE at the Battle of Falkirk where 20,000 Scots were killed. Edward then sent more armies in 1301 and 1303 CE, recovering Stirling Castle in the process, but it was not until 1305 CE that Wallace was finally captured in Glasgow and then executed as a traitor in London. Still, in February 1306 CE, the Scots continued to rally around their figurehead, Robert the Bruce (b. 1274 CE), the grandson of John Balliol's rival for the throne back in 1292 CE. Making himself king in February 1306 CE, Robert had the support of the Scottish northern barons but was initially forced to flee to Ireland. However, both he and the Scots benefitted greatly from Edward's sudden death and the incompetence of his successor; King Robert would rule Scotland until 1329 CE.

Death & Successor

Edward died of illness, probably dysentery, aged 68 on 7 July 1307 CE at Burgh by Sands, near Carlisle when about to engage in yet another campaign against the Scots. He was buried at Westminster Abbey and, at his own command, his tomb was inscribed with the following legend: 'Edward I, Hammer of the Scots. Keep the Faith'. He was succeeded by his son Edward II of England whose reign until 1327 CE was blighted by military incompetence, excessive patronage of his friends, anarchy at home amongst his own barons and, the cherry on a far-from-splendid royal cake, a resounding defeat by the Scots at Bannockburn in June 1314 CE. Another Edward would succeed him, Edward III of England, the grandson of Edward I and final part of the trio that completed the 'Edwardian' period of medieval England (1272-1377 CE).


Edward I, King of England. Born 1239, died 1307. Reign 1272 – 1307

One of the most effective English kings, Edward was also one of Scotland's greatest adversaries. Through his campaigns against Scotland he would come to be known after his death as 'Scottorum malleus' – the Hammer of the Scots.

Intelligent and impatient, Edward proved to be a highly effective king. The reign of his father, Henry III, was marked by internal instability and military failure. Upon succeeding to the throne on 1272 Edward did much to rectify these issues. He managed to control and placate the unruly English barons and unite them behind him.

A learned scholar, Edward also took great personal interest in matters of administration and government and introduced reforms and ideas learnt whilst staying abroad in the family-held territory of Gascony. He also made great use of his Parliament – a strategy that helped maintain stability in the country and, more importantly for Edward, brought in regular sums of money to enable Edward to pursue his ambitions. Edward also devised far uglier means of raising money.

In 1275 Edward issues the Statute of Jewry that persecuted the Jewish population of England and imposed severe taxation on them. Proving both lucrative and popular, Edward extended this policy further. In 1290 the Jews were expelled from England – minus their money and property. The money raised from this dark practise was used to fund his his ambition to be overlord of the Scotland and Wales.

As a younger man Edward forged an impressive reputation as a man of action. Domestically and abroad Edward proved himself as a soldier and a leader of men. In 1266 Edward received international accolade for his role in the 8th and 9th Crusades to the Holy Land where he helped secure the survival of the beleagured coastal city of Acre.

It was while returning from the Crusade that Edward learned that his father, Henry III, had died and that he was now the King of England. Ambitious and impulsive, Edward wasted no time in enforcing his will on his neighbours.

As an ominous precursor for his plans for Scotland, Edward attacked Wales.

Edward attacks Wales

During the 1250s Edward's father, Henry III, had mounted military campaigns in an attempt to control and dominate Wales. After a series of disastrous defeats Henry was forced to negotiate a peace that saw the Welsh prince Llywelyn ap Gruffydd extend his territories into England. Henry also had to recognise the royal status of Llewelyn as Prince of Wales. Llywelyn in turn was to acknowledge Henry as his overlord.

Edward had experienced these failed campaigns first hand as part of his father's retinue and was determined not to repeat the same mistakes. Using the pretence of Llywelyn's refusal to pay homage to him in 1274 Edward raised a sizeable army and invaded Wales. Llywelyn was defeated and stripped of his territories.

In another uncanny foreshadowing of events to come in Scotland Edward's complete conquest of his neighbour was to be thrown into doubt by a courageous campaign for liberation.

In 1282 Llywelyn's brother Dafydd sparked a rebellion to rid Wales of English dominance. With Edward caught off-guard the rising had initial success. The death of Llywelyn in battle turned the tide for Edward however. Soon after Dafydd was captured and executed. Without strong leadership the Welsh rising failed.

To consolidate his stranglehold, Edward built a series of impressive castles across Wales (such as Caernarfon Castle) and in 1284 Edward issued the Statute of Rhuddlan that effectively annexed Wales and made it a province of England. The title Prince of Wales was handed to Edward's eldest son, Prince Edward (later Edward II) – a practise that continues to this day.

Edward plots against Scotland

In 1287 Alexander III, King of Scots, died suddenly after falling from his horse at Kinghorn. The succession crisis that followed presented Edward with a golden opportunity to expand on his conquest of Wales.

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With the absence of an immediate heir, the Scots throne looked likely to pass to Alexander's infant granddaughter, Margaret (the 'Maid of Norway') – the daughter of the King of Norway.

Rival Scottish claims for the right to succeed as the next monarch led to the Norwegians approaching Edward. Edward planned to wed his own son Edward to Margaret and thus control Scotland via matrimonial rights.

The Scots nobles, fearful of such a takeover, agreed that Margaret should be queen – but at the expense of Edward's marriage plans. Events were thrown into turmoil when Margaret died en route to Scotland.

Edward the Kingmaker

With the succession crisis still looming large and rival claimants still in fierce competition the Guardians of Scotland needed to find someone to adjudicate the claims and help break the deadlock. The perfect candidate was Edward.

As an internationally respected king and a recognised expert on legal matters of state Edward was a logical choice. With the benefit of hindsight this may seem to be the worst of decisions until you consider that England and Scotland had enjoyed an extended period of relatively peaceful co-existence. Claims of English overlordship over Scotland were seen to be a thing of the distant past. The Guardians were in for a very rude shock.

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In a series of political manouverings Edward insisted that he be recognised as feudal overlord of the Scots before a new Scots king be appointed. The Guardians refused but Edward, the legal expert, got his wish.

While there were two rival claimants (Robert Bruce and John Balliol) Edward's role was adjudicate. If there were more than two then, under medieval law, only a judge could be expected to pronounce a verdict. As a judge Edward had to have authority – and in royal matters authority meant overlordship.

Edward found other claimants for the vacant throne to put pressure on Bruce and Balliol. The plan worked and one by one they came forward to swear allegiance. From that point, with all principle claimants as his vassals, it did not matter who became king. Ultimately Balliol took the crown.

Edward's subsequent heavy-handed treatment of the Scots (demanding taxes and soldiers to help fight his wars) led to the first inklings of rebellion.

In 1295 the Scots signed a mutual aid treaty with France (later to be known as the Auld Alliance). This pact with Edward's enemy brought about swift retaliation from Edward.

Edward destroyed Berwick, slaughtering thousands of the town's inhabitants, before pushing deeper into scotland. The Scots met Edward in battle at Dunbar but was decisively beaten. repeating his accomplishments in Wales, Edward had now conquered Scotland.

In a similar tactic to the those he employed in Wales Edward stripped the country of its treasures and symbollic icons of nationhood as easily as he stripped Balliol of his status as king. Most notably the crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny was removed to be sent back to England. The message was clear – there was to be no other king in Scotland but Edward.

Edward's campaigning, however, had left him seriously short of funds. He could no-longer afford to build costly castles to control his new domain as he had in Wales.

Wars of Independence

Just as he had with the welsh, Edward had underestimated the Scots. Within a year rebellions to English control broke out – notably led by Andrew Murray in the north and William wallace in the south of the country.

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Edward left the matter of crushing the rebellion to his representative, John de Warenne, rather than take control personally. At Stirling Bridge Warenne's force was routed by Wallace and Murray's army.

Edward marches north and took control of his army and defeated Wallace's army at Falkirk. Wallace was later captured and executed. Once again Edward assumed that Scotland was conquered.

An interesting point to note is that the expense incurred in subjugating the Welsh meant that the same pattern of conquest and castle-building was not open to Edward. The success of that campaign could not so easily be emulated.

Enter the Bruce

Waiting in the wings for Edward was Robert the Bruce. Bruce's ambition to be king was finally realised in 1306. News of the coronation of a new Scots king brought Edward's army northward.

A series of swift victories saw Edward victorious and the new King of Scots on the run. Once again Edward assumed the job was done.

News of Bruce's return with a handful of followers was given scant regard. Edward would rue this inattentiveness. Within a year Bruce had defeated larger English forces and regained control of swathes of Scotland. A minor rebellion had become a sizeable rising. Not even the capture and execution of key Bruce supporters (including members of Bruce's own family) could reverse the tide.

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In Bruce Edward had met a formidable, ruthless and determined opponent – a man cut from the same cloth.

A Job Worth Doing.

Despite ill health and advancing years Edward, Hammer of the Scots, marched his army north to rid himself of Bruce once and for all.

In 1307, with Scotland in sight, Edward died at Burgh-on-Sands. The campaign for the conquest of Scotland passed on to his son, Edward II. The Scots were relieved to find that the brutal and effective military prowess displayed by the father were absent in the son.

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In 1314 Bruce routed a larger English force at Bannockburn. Recognition of Scotland's sovereignty came years later in 1328.

On his death bed accounts credit Edward's dying wish to be that his bones be left unburied as long as Scotland was unconquered. Mercifully this request was ignored. As arguably, England's greatest king (and Scotland's greatest enemy) his temporary interment would have lasted an awful long time.


Did Edward Take After the Saint He Was Named After?

Edward I was born in 1239 in Westminster and was the eldest son of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence. Henry is recorded to have been a pious man and named his first-born son in honor of his favorite saint, Saint Edward the Confessor. As he grew up, however, Edward would bear little resemblance to the saint he was named after. As a young man, Edward was recorded to have been arrogant, violent, and cruel. According to a story, a man once died of sheer fright in his presence. Apparently, Edward’s contemporaries found this tale easy to believe. In addition to his character, Edward was also distinguished for his physique. Standing at a height of 1.88 m (6 feet 2 inches), Edward earned the epithet ‘Longshanks’.

Saint Edward the Confessor whom Edward was named after. (anonymous / Public Domain )


Edward I King of England

Born to an unenviable heritage with the infamous John as his grandfather and Henry III a failing father. How would Edward I change the tide that had swept before him? Was it even possible and how would his life map-out and impact on the development and history of Britain? Find out about Edward his circumstances, his family and the events that shaped both his life and the life of a nation.

Edward I King after the turbulent period at the end of His father Henry III’s reign

The Prologue: Civil war with the 2nd Baron’s war was quelled to some degree by the death of Simon de Montfort but the undercurrents and rumblings continued. This harked back to the reign of King John and the endeavours of Magna Carta, the 1st Baron’s War and the right/need of the crown to raise taxes at the monarch’s discretion and whim. The core and most contentious issue between the barons and their king. The issue is not full resolved during Edward I’s reign but some progress is made. There is a dawning of realisation that whilst an anointed King might rule by divine right, he must also be capable of sustaining a body of the elite who would support and protect the king’s person and that mean’t some form of consultative postage was needed whether the king liked it or not.
The Baron’s and De Montfort are mainly motivated by self-interest but the pressure of the magnates, enables the concept of parliamentary process to germinate. There is evidence that supports that Edward I is refused and required to meet certain conditions in respect of the forests ( a major asset) in order to be able to level subsidies for his war efforts for example.
The Baron’s and de Montfort’s motivations are arguably still only about self-interest, the right to curb the king’s zeal to raise taxes always higher continues to be disputed. The introduction of the concept of indirect taxation in the form of the Wool Subsidy has a significant impact not only on this reign but the century to follow. This king’s ambitions to rule over all of Britain costs him dearly and the burden of tax to fund his exploits and conquests are huge.
Edward I is fighting on three fronts, Wales, Scotland and the French and despite some long term impact Edward dies heavily in debt and without securing Scotland. In the line of three Kings all with some substantial accepted birthright to the crown (John, Henry III, Edward I) what has been achieved? John lost his empire and in particular France, Henry III never really recovers from John’s failure’s and the problems persist into the 2nd Baron’s War but arguably whilst in debt Edward I has made some headway.

Edward I had inherited a difficult burden but his reign would leave a lasting legacy

Here with his family trees of his direct ancestors and descendants, together with a concise timeline and brief narrative of the major events in his life we can explore a brief overview of his reign. Despite the burden of debt he had increased during his reign at the time of his death there was some lasting impact on his realm. England was moving towards a united kingdom with the annexing of Wales.

There was also progress with early signs of a legal system that would acknowledge that a king could not rule without at least some tacit consent of his barons and local administrators as the early stages of parliamentary process begin to merge from disputes over acceptable levels of tax and terms of payment.

Edward I’s Family

Edward I’s Ancestors show an unbroken line of inheritance that is difficult to contest back to William the Conqueror but was as a result of the marriage that began the Plantagenet period between Mathilda and Geoffrey and their triumph in getting their son accepted and crowned King after Stephen. Once Edward had defeated Simon de Montfort at Evesham his claim to the throne was not seriously threatened or questioned.

You can point and click on the diagram below to view a larger version or download this Ancestors of EDWARD PLANTAGENET Download PDF v2.1 live

Following on from the largely disasterous reigns of Henry III and John but it is a critical time if the role and supremacy of the monarch is not to be further undermined or his own line challenged for its record of poor government.

Edward I’s Descendants

Who are the direct descendants of Edward I. This diagram shows the key descendants and as ever we will periodically update and can be downloaded as a pdf file for your free use. You can also request other file formats such as JPEG, TIFF, PNG.

The interim PDF version can be downloaded here.Descendants of EDWARD PLANTAGENET v2.1

You can see with just one section expanded how extensive this entire descendants chart will be, in green above Edward are also his primary direct ancestors. PDF file format is the most easily referenced file format but we are also looking at creating a library of th subsidiary family trees if you are interested, please just contact us here.

Edward I Chronology and Timeline

1258 Provisions of Oxford: the reform proposals imposed on Edwards father Henry III due to the mismanagement of the Sicilian Adventure. The provisions took powers away from the King and made him accountable to the Barons via Parliament.

1259 Provisions of Westminster: extended the change in the Kings accountability beyond the provisions for central government in the Provisions of Oxford to include local administration, but this was not as satisfactory to the barons as for may it would threaten their own local fiefdoms and right to enforce the law.

1261 Henry III seized the opportunity to repudiate the Provisions of Oxford: this directly led to the events that caused the Barons War. The circumstances are not unfamiliar hail back to John and Magna Carta. It was an unauspicious series of events that would create a poor climate in the lead-up to Edward I’s reign.

1264 – 1268 Barons War, a civil war led by Simon de Montfort and a body of the barons who were determined that the King should accept the limitations on royal powers which were set out in the Provisions of Oxford and Westminster.

1264 Edward defeated by Simon de MONTFORT Battle of Lewes and is taken hostage.

1265 Edward organises the campaign that leads to de MONTFORTs death at Battle of EVESHAM Worcestershire.

1267 Treaty of Montgomery in which Llywelyn ap Gruffudd was acknowledged as Prince of Wales by Henry III.

1270-1272 embarks on crusade and is wounded during an attempt on his life.

1272 – Edward I learns that he has succeeded to the throne on his way home from the Crusade. But he remains on the continent until 1274 detained by the affairs of Aquitaine this delays his eventual coronation
1274 – Edward is finally crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey.

1275 – 1290 Edward earns his name of the the Justinian as he implements a series of statutes designed to improve the efficiency of royal justice.

  • 1275 The Wool Subsidy: introduces the principle of indirect taxation as an export tax on Wool. This duty was introduced by Edward and enabled the crown to borrow against the consistent stream of revenue at a level that was unprecedented but when Edward increased it to an unsustainable level it there was inevitably a reaction. In the 14th century the crown would concede the right to Parliament o give or withhold consent to levels of indirect taxation. In the next 100 years the Wool Subsidy regularly contributed half to two thirds of the crown’s annual revenues. Hence the significance to the finances of the King.

1276-1277 and 1282 -1284 defeated Llewellyn ap Gruffydd and commences his determined plan to rule the whole of Britain not just England. He succeeds and Llewellyn was the last ruler of an independent Wales.

  • 1277 Treaty of Aberconway: Edward I completes his first stage of absorbing Wales into his kingdom, LLewellyn is not stripped of the title Prince of Wales but recognises Edward I as his overlord. Llewellyn makes a play to marry Eleanor daughter of Simon de Montfort but Edward mindful of her father’s conflict with his own father and the 2nd Baron’s War refuses the marriage. Llewellyn seeks to marry her anyway but she is captured by Edward’s pirate agents and imprisoned in Windsor Castle.
  • 1284 – Edwards ensures the Independence of the Welsh is ended by the Statute of Rhuddlan. Following Llewellyn’s rebellion, as overlord Edwards escheates the lands of Wales to be annexed and integrated with the English crown. he statute is also known as the Statutes of Wales, from this point forward England and Wales are unified, in law, at least. Thus begins the tradition of the heir of the current monarch becoming Prince of Wales.. The first formal English born Prince of Wales is the son to Edward, born in the same year.

1284 Edward (Prince of Wales) is born later Edward II

1290 – He expels the Jews in a move prompted by his own religious convictions but widely supported by the majority of England’s antisemitic majority.

  • His wife and Queen Eleanor of Castille dies at Harby in Nottinghamshire. Her body is brought back to London and a series of crosses erected at each stop along the journey from Lincoln to the most famous at Charing Cross. 3 of these crosses remain almost intact to his day.

1292 – Edward chooses John Balliol to be the new King of Scotland: after the death of Margaret Maid of Norway in 1290, there was no clear claim to the Scottish throne and 13 serious contenders known as the competitors in the name of the ‘Great Cause’ with Edward I as their acknowledged Overlord they accepted his right to arbitration. He selected John BALLIOL as his puppet king but it did not work and after Balliol’s own rebellion and papal intervention Balliol eventually is given into french hands and remains a political pawn to the end of his life and the Scottish question re independence is far from resolved and the wars of independence are fueled by Edward’s actions.
1294 PHILIP IV of FRANCE confiscates Aquitaine: Edward is left fighting on at least three fronts, the French, Scots and the Welsh rebels.

1295 – Edward Confirms Magna Carta: but he does so with additional articles of reform following political disputes with the leading magnates.

1295 – Model Parliament is summoned: a system introduced by Edward that would nominate two knights from each Shire to meet with two burgesses from each town to hear and ratify the taxation plan of the King, originally planned to meet twice yearly the reality was not so frequent. It did meet in this year. Again we see ideas from Magna Carta and strife with the Barons despite the death of de Montfort still making their mark in bringing the monarch to account.

John Balliol reneges on his allegiance to Edward and signs alliance with King Philip IV of France

1296 – Edward invades Scotland, defeats the Scots at Dunbar and deposes Balliol. He then takes over the throne of Scotland and removes the Stone of Scone to Westminster placed in the Coronation Chair. Even today the location of the Stone of Scone and indeed the independence of Scotland remains a hotly contested issue.
1297 – Scots rise against English rule and, led by William Wallace, defeat Edward I at the Battle of Stirling Bridge: the English are slaughtered as thy cross the Forth. Cressingham is captured ad skinned by the Scots. Edwards starts to exert a heavy price on the English with savage taxation.
1298 – Edward invades Scotland again and defeats William Wallace at the Battle of Falkirk: the Scots spearsmen are no match for the superior combination of the Longbow armed archers and th English Cavalry.
1299 – Edward marries Margaret of France: as ever marriages to French royals and nobility to an English King was a matter of truce making and power broking. Margaret was the 2nd prize as he had chosen Philips elder daughter Blanche of FRANCE originally promised to his heir (later Edward II) but after a 5 year feud after Philip reneged on Blanche a truce was struck with Margaret as part of the deal. They had 3 further children
1300 = Edward I’s final confirmation of Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest.

1301 – Edward makes his son Prince of Wales a tradition that has continued ever since this date. Marking the supremacy of the English over the Welsh. An important moment when you consider the later significance and connection of Owen Tudor and Queen Catherine of VALOIS, at a later poignant moment in our history.
1305 – William Wallace is executed in London. The place is still marked in Smithfield Market London. This deepens and further fuels the fissure between the English and the Scots in a sentiment that still finds fervant support to the 21st cenury,

1306 – Robert Bruce is crowned King of Scotland: he was one of the original competitors in the Great Cause but becomes a fugitive and hunted by Edward I not only himself but also his family, friends and supporters. Ironically he is saved by the new inept Kingship of Edward II following the death of his father.
1307 – Edward attempts to invade Scotland again, but dies on his way north: now his son Edward by his 1st wife would inherit the crown, sadly with fairly disasterous consequences.

Does Edward I leaves a meaningful legacy?

Whilst Edward dies heavily in debt his reign had left some lasting legacies
  • Conquering and uniting with Wales, creating the basis for the union to be formed, although at significant cost financially and in human terms and with Scotland unresolved, when he dies.
  • moving towards a more parliamentary process, Edward saw this as a consultation and did not want to be bound by the barons but he did move towards their position because of the force of their concerns ad his need to retain their support. The unintended consequences of Magna Carta were beginning to have a longer term impact. Whilst John had seen it as an act of convenience and expedience, its significance was beginning to evolve over time.
  • creates the revenue stream by the Wool subsidy that would fund the crown’s revenue providing half to two thirds of all its revenues for some considerable time to follow. It is of course arguable as to whether such revenues are fair and just and how there will be sanity check when the crown raises the levels too high. Subsequent to his reign that check and balance would be introduced and again helps to develop the concept of the House of Commons as well as the Lords.
  • the line of succession, the education of a future King? Another chapter in the Plantagenet story to be explored but with his sudden death there would not be much time for Edward II to get a grip of his reign.

A Postscript for Montfort and Magna Carta

In a brutal world where money and power can literally mean life or death all those that wielded power amongst the elite royal families, their barons and their nobility were no doubt driven by their own self-interests and survival. However alongside these personal and dynastic battles there is bubbling the beginnings of justice as opposed to just the rule of force and whim.

Whilst Simon de Montfort and his followers with his ideas for a Model Parliament and accountability of the King were also driven by their needs and self-interests they had set in motion post Magna Carta an unstoppable force that would take centuries but would lead the road to full democracy. Perhaps from the worst of kings in John comes the greatest if inadvertent gift and Edward I’s role as the Justinian fulfils his place in a set of chain reactions that would lead the failed peace treaty function of Magna Carta to become one of, if not the most iconic legal documents of all time. Edward I may have put down de Montfort’s rebellion and Lleweyllyn in Wales but he helps rather than hinders the development of justice, even if at times it is against or in spite of his self-interests.


Contents

Following a series of invasions beginning shortly after their conquest of England in 1066, the Normans seized much of Wales and established quasi-independent Marcher lordships, owing allegiance to the English crown. [1] However, Welsh principalities such as Gwynedd, Powys and Deheubarth survived and from the end of the 11th century, the Welsh began pushing back the Norman advance. [1] Over the following century the Welsh recovery fluctuated and the English kings, notably Henry II, several times sought to conquer or establish suzerainty over the native Welsh principalities. [2] Nevertheless, by the end of the 12th century the Marcher lordships were reduced to the south and south-east of the country. [2]

The principality of Gwynedd was the dominant power in Wales in the first half of the 13th century, with Powys and Deheubarth becoming tributary states. [3] Gwynedd's princes now assumed the title "Prince of Wales". [4] But war with England in 1241 and 1245, followed by a dynastic dispute in the succession to the throne, weakened Gwynedd and allowed Henry III to seize Perfeddwlad (also known as the "Four Cantrefs", [5] the eastern part of the principality). [6] [7] However, from 1256 a resurgent Gwynedd under Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (who became known as "Llywelyn the Last") resumed the war with Henry and took back Perfeddwlad. [7] By the Treaty of Montgomery of 1267, peace was restored and, in return for doing homage to the English king, Llywelyn was recognised as Prince of Wales and his re-conquest of Perfeddwlad was accepted by Henry. [8] [9] However, sporadic warfare between Llywelyn and some of the Marcher Lords, such as Gilbert de Clare, Roger Mortimer and Humphrey de Bohun continued. [10]

Immediate causes of war Edit

Henry III died in 1272 and was succeeded by his son, Edward I. Whereas Henry's ineffectiveness had led to the collapse of royal authority in England during his reign, [11] Edward was a vigorous and forceful ruler and an able military leader. [12]

In 1274, tension between Llywelyn and Edward increased when Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn of Powys and Llywelyn's younger brother Dafydd ap Gruffydd defected to the English and sought Edward's protection. [13] The continuing conflict with the Marcher Lords, particularly over Roger Mortimer's new castle at Cefnllys, and Edward's harbouring of defectors led Llewelyn to refuse Edward's demand to come to Chester in 1275 to do homage to him, as required by the Treaty of Montgomery. [14] For Edward, a further provocation came from Llywelyn's planned marriage to Eleanor, daughter of Simon de Montfort, the leader of a rebellion against the crown during the reign of Edward's father. [15] In November 1276, Edward declared war on Llywelyn. [16] However, his objective was to put down a recalcitrant vassal rather than to begin a war of conquest. [17]

Invasion of 1277 Edit

Early in 1277, before the main royal army had been mustered, Edward deployed, in south and mid-Wales, a mixture of forces comprising paid troops, some of the marcher lords' retainers and knights of the royal household. They met with considerable success as many of the native Welsh rulers, resentful of Llywelyn's overlordship, surrendered and joined the English. [17] In July 1277, Edward launched a punitive expedition into North Wales with his own army of 15,500—of whom 9,000 were Welshmen from the south—raised through a traditional feudal summons. [18] From Chester the army marched into Gwynedd, camping first at Flint and then Rhuddlan and Deganwy, most likely causing significant damage to the areas it advanced through. A fleet from the Cinque ports provided naval support. [18]

Llywelyn soon realised his position was hopeless and quickly surrendered. The campaign never came to a major battle. However, Edward decided to negotiate a settlement rather than attempt total conquest. It may be that he was running short of men and supplies by November 1277 and, in any case, complete conquest of Llywelyn's territories had not been his objective. [18]


Eleanor of Castile

Devoted wife, Spanish royalty, English Queen Consort and power behind the throne are just some of the descriptions one could use when describing the medieval queen and wife of Edward I, Eleanor of Castile.

An arranged marriage of the Middle Ages did not often result in a happy union, however this was the exception to the rule. Eleanor of Castile and Edward I’s betrothal not only cemented important political alliances by confirming English sovereignty over Gascony, but in the long run created a successful royal partnership.

The story of this sometimes overlooked royal begins in Burgos in 1241. Born Leonor, named after her great-grandmother, she became known as Eleanor. Born into royalty, the daughter of Ferdinand III of Castile and his wife, Joan, Countess of Ponthieu, she had in fact much royal lineage as the descendant of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II of England.

In her youth she would benefit from a high standard of education, unusual for the time her later responsibilities as queen would demonstrate this cultured beginning.

Meanwhile, whilst she was still very young her future marriage was being arranged, not to Edward I of England but to Theobald II of Navarre. Eleanor’s brother Alfonso X of Castile had hoped this marriage would allow a claim on Navarre, as Theobald was still not of age. Nevertheless, Theobald’s mother, Margaret of Bourbon had other ideas as she forged an alliance with James I of Aragon, blighting any chance of Eleanor’s marriage to her son.

Despite this initial setback, Eleanor’s prospects for making a successful marriage was still possible. This time her brother turned his attentions towards another area of possible ancestral claim, Gascony.

With much at stake for Henry III of England, the two parties entered into negotiations, eventually agreeing to Eleanor’s marriage to Edward with the inclusion that the Gascony claims would be passed on to Edward.

This was a critical alliance brokered by Henry III who subsequently allowed Edward to be knighted by Alfonso. This agreement would later be cemented by yet another marriage, this time Henry III’s daughter Beatrice to Alfonso’s brother.

With all the preparations already agreed upon by their families, Edward and Eleanor, who was only in her early teens, married in November 1254 in Burgos, Spain. As distant relatives with royal bloodlines and important family connections the two were the ideal match for such an arrangement.

After their marriage they spent a year in Gascony where Eleanor gave birth to her first child who sadly did not survive infancy. After just a year spent in France, Eleanor went to England, closely followed by Edward. However her arrival was not welcomed by all.

Whilst Henry III had been content with the negotiations ensuring English sovereignty over Gascony in southwest France, others had grown concerned that Eleanor’s relatives would take advantage as relations between the two royal families had not always been so cordial, especially since Eleanor’s mother had been rejected as a marriage prospect by Henry III.

Despite the circumstances, Edward was believed to have remained faithful to his Spanish queen, which was unusual for the time, and chose to spend much of his time accompanied by her, another anomaly for a medieval royal marriage.

So much so that Eleanor even accompanied Edward on his military campaigns, most surprisingly whilst she was pregnant with the future Edward II, to whom she gave birth at Caernarfon Castle whilst her husband quelled signs of rebellion in Wales. Their son Edward became the first Prince of Wales.

Edward I

Eleanor was unlike many of her counterparts as queen consort she was highly educated, interested in military affairs and had a keen eye for all things cultural and economic.

Her influence would prove to have an impact on her husband as well as the nation as her Castilian style would influence far-ranging domestic aesthetics, from horticultural design to tapestries and carpet design. This new style began to seep into the homes of the upper classes who embraced the new fashion of tapestries and fine tableware, demonstrating her cultural impact on the higher echelons of English society.

Moreover, as an intellectual and highly-educated woman, she found herself a patroness of literature, showing herself to have a wide variety of interests. She employed scribes to maintain the only royal scriptorium of Northern Europe at the time, as well as commissioning a variety of new works.

Whilst her influence on the domestic sphere was noteworthy, she was also heavily involved in finance, as initiated by Edward himself.

Her involvement with land acquisition between 1274 and 1290 led her to accrue a number of estates worth, around £3000. With her landholdings, Edward wanted to ensure financial security for his wife without drawing on much needed government funds.

Nevertheless, the way in which these estates were acquired did not help her popularity. Taking over debts of Christian landlords owed to Jewish moneylenders, she subsequently offered to cancel the debts in exchange for land pledges. Her association with such an arrangement however inevitably led to scandalous gossip, with even the Archbishop of Canterbury warning her about her involvement.

During her lifetime, her business dealings did not help her gain popularity, however her sphere of influence was growing. Her military involvement was both astounding and unusual, with Eleanor choosing to accompany Edward on many of his military manoeuvres.

In the midst of the Second Barons’ War, Eleanor supported and contributed to Edward’s war efforts by bringing over archers from Ponthieu in France. Furthermore, she remained in England during the conflict, maintaining control over Windsor Castle whilst Simon de Montfort ordered her removal in June 1264 upon hearing rumours about Eleanor’s call for troops to be brought in from Castile to contribute to the royalist war effort.

Whilst her husband had been captured during his defeat at the Battle of Lewes, Eleanor was held at Westminster Palace, until royalists forces were finally able to overcome the barons at the Battle of Evesham in 1265. From then on, Edward would play a more substantial role in government with his wife alongside him.

Battle of Evesham

There is still much speculation over how much of a role she played in political affairs, with her influence extending to her daughter’s prospective marriages. Moreover, her influence may not have been quite so formal but there appear to be indications in some of Edward’s policy-making choices which mirror that of the Castilian choices back in Eleanor’s home country.

Edward also continued to uphold, as much as he could, his obligations to Eleanor’s half-brother Alfonso X.

Whilst Edward’s military escapades took him far and wide, Eleanor became a loyal companion, so much so that in 1270 Eleanor accompanied Edward on the Eighth Crusade in order to join his uncle Louis IX. However Louis died in Carthage before they arrived. In the following year, upon the couple’s arrival in Acre, Palestine, Eleanor gave birth to a daughter.

In her time spent in Palestine, whilst she could not have an overtly political role in the proceedings she did have a copy of ‘De re militari’ translated for Edward. A treatise by the Roman Vegetius, it contained something of a military guide to warfare and the principles of fighting which would have been most useful for Edward and his medieval crusading compatriots.

Meanwhile, the presence of Edward in Acre led to an assassination attempt, leading to a serious wound inflicted by what was believed to be a poisoned dagger, leaving him with a dangerous wound on his arm.

Whilst Edward was able to recover thanks to the surgeon who was on hand to cut away the infected flesh from the wound, a more dramatic version of events has since been told. The story tells the tale of Eleanor, sensing her husband’s impending mortality, risking her life by sucking the poison out from his arm and saving her husband. Such a fanciful tale could be found more likely in a novel.

Once fully recovered, the united couple returned to England which had been governed by a royal council since Edward’s father, Henry III had passed away. A year later, Edward and Eleanor were crowned King and Queen Consort on 19th August 1274.

As King Edward I and Queen consort, they were believed to have lived in a convivial and happy relationship, both fulfilling their respective roles. As her fluency in English was questionable, much of her communication was in French. At the time, the English court was still bilingual.

During her time as queen she dedicated herself to charitable causes and was a patron of the Dominican Orders friars. Her influence extended to the arrangement of certain marriages which were carefully orchestrated, helping to sustain good diplomatic relations, all with the full support of her husband.

However her health began to decline as she began to make arrangements for the marriages of her two daughters. Sadly, whilst on a tour she eventually succumbed to her failing health in Harby, Nottinghamshire. She passed away with Edward at her bedside on 28th November 1290.

It would be another ten years before Edward remarried and in a touching tribute to his first wife, had his daughter named after Eleanor.

In a palpable display of his grief and undying affection for Eleanor, he commissioned the creation of twelve elaborate stone crosses known familiarly as Eleanor Crosses. A touching tribute to a loyal wife.

Jessica Brain is a freelance writer specialising in history. Based in Kent and a lover of all things historical.


Last years

The strain of these years provoked heavy collisions between Edward and his magnates. He had quarrelled violently with his archbishops of Canterbury, John Peckham (1279–92) and Robert Winchelsey (1293–1313), over ecclesiastical liberties and jurisdiction. In 1297 Winchelsey, obeying Pope Boniface VIII’s bull Clericis Laicos (1296), rejected Edward’s demands for taxes from the clergy, whereupon Edward outlawed the clergy. His barons now defied his orders to invade Gascony and, when Edward went to Flanders, compelled the regents to confirm the charters of liberties, with important additions forbidding arbitrary taxation (1297), thereby forcing Edward to abandon the campaign and eventually to make peace with France. Although Pope Clement V, more pliant than Boniface, allowed Edward to exile Winchelsey and intimidate the clergy (1306), the barons had exacted further concessions (1301) before reconciliation. Edward renewed the conquest of Scotland in 1303, captured Stirling in 1304, and executed Wallace as a traitor in 1305 but when Scotland seemed finally subjected, Robert the Bruce revived rebellion and was crowned in 1306. On his way to reconquer Scotland, Edward died near Carlisle.


On July 18, 1290, King Edward I of England, also known as “Edward Longshanks” or alternatively “The Hammer of the Scots,” issued the Edict of Expulsion, a royal decree ordering all Jews out of England. At the time, about 16,000 Jews resided in not so Merry Old England. Along with so many other pogroms, massacres, and forcible expulsions, Jewish people have had such a history of discrimination and exclusion that they have their own day of fasting and remembrance of various calamities and disasters, called Tisha B’Av, known as the “saddest day on the Jewish calendar.”

Digging Deeper

Tisha B’Av is best known for coinciding with the destruction of Solomon’s Temple (by the Babylonians in 587 BC) and when the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed yet again (by the Romans in 70 AD). Other Jewish disasters “celebrated” (remembered and lamented) include the murder of the Ten Martyrs, rabbis killed by the Romans during the reign of Hadrian (117-138 AD), the Holocaust, and other historic atrocities against Jews. The incredible number of tragedies occurring on Tisha B’Av include expulsions from England, France, and Spain, a massacre of Jews in France during the Crusades (1096), the entry of Germany into World War I, the approval of the “Final Solution” by Heinrich Himmler in 1941, and the transfer of thousands of Jews from Warsaw to the Treblinka death camp in 1942 among others. Other Jewish tragedies and calamities not having occurred on Tisha B’Av may be remembered as well. One particularly bad day that happened on Tisha B’Av was a Roman massacre near Betar, Judea of over 500,000 Jews in 135 AD when the Romans put down the Jewish Bar Kokhba’s revolt.

Expulsion of the Jews from Jerusalem during the reign of Roman Emperor Hadrian (r. 117-138). A miniature from the 15th-century manuscript “Histoire des Empereurs”.

Tisha B’Av is celebrated by the reading of the Book of Lamentations and a 25 hour fasting period. The day, which falls in either July or August from year to year in the Western (Gregorian) calendar, is considered a day particularly designed by God for terrible things. The 3 week period preceding Tisha B’Av is known as The Three Weeks, and the 9 days immediately prior to Tisha B’Av are known as The Nine Days. (Not particularly original naming!) Among other customs and practices regarding Tisha B’Av are the 5 prohibitions that include

No application of creams or oils

No wearing of (leather) shoes

No marital (sexual) relations.

Jews are expected to avoid work if possible, and various other solemn readings and rites may take place. Jews show their devotion to God during Tisha B’Av by not using a pillow to sleep with, or at least using one fewer pillow than normally used. Lamentations and tragic passages from the Torah and Talmud are read at the Synagogue, all of a mournful nature.

Lamenting in the synagogue, 1887. Painting by Leopold Horovitz (1839–1917).

Today, Tisha B’Av is celebrated inconsistently among Jews, with only about 22% Jewish Israelis following the fast and about 52% of Jewish Israelis avoiding recreational activities on the day of mourning. Some Israeli Jews even label laws restricting business or other activities on Tisha B’Av as religious coercion, much like many Americans chafed under the “Blue Laws” in the United States when Sunday’s had many limitations on business and other activities (such as hunting, liquor sales and the like).

Jewish people have a stunning number of tragic experiences to remember and lament, a testament to the tendency of human beings to strike out against other human beings that believe different things, worship differently, look or dress differently, or speak differently. While many other minorities around the world have been discriminated against, it is hard to think of any group that has suffered more discrimination than Jews. What do you think?

Poster held by a protester at an anti-war rally in San Francisco on February 16, 2003. Photograph by zombie of zombietime.com.

Question for students (and subscribers): What day of the year do you consider the saddest day of the year? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

The featured image in this article, a map by ecelan ( talk ) of the expulsions of Jews from European territories between 1100 and 1600, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

About Author

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.



Prince Edward, earl of Wessex

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Prince Edward, earl of Wessex, in full Edward Anthony Richard Louis, earl of Wessex and Viscount Severn, (born March 10, 1964, London, England), youngest child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, duke of Edinburgh.

Edward had three older siblings: Charles, Anne, and Andrew. He attended Gordonstoun School, a spartan boarding school in Scotland, and studied history at Jesus College, Cambridge. After Cambridge, he joined the Royal Marines but resigned his commission in 1987 in the middle of commando training. He worked briefly for musical theatre composer Andrew Lloyd Webber before setting up his own theatrical production company. This collapsed in 1991 with debts of £600,000 (almost $1 million). In 1993 he set up Ardent Productions, Ltd., which survived, mainly through making programs about the royal family’s past history, though seldom earning profits, until it folded in 2009. Despite these ups and downs, Edward won respect for his attempts to be the first child of a British monarch to seek a career in the private sector.

On June 19, 1999, Edward married Sophie Rhys-Jones (now Sophie, countess of Wessex), a public-relations consultant. On the wedding day, the queen bestowed on Edward the title earl of Wessex and Viscount Severn (the senior title represented a geographic reference that could be found only in history books, for Wessex had ceased to be a formal region of England many centuries earlier). Edward and Sophie had two children, Louise (born 2003) and James (born 2007).


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