Edward I of England

Edward I
By the Grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, and Duke of Aquitaine
Reign Nov 20 1272 – July 7, 1307
Coronation August 19, 1274
Queen 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)
Born June 17, 1239
Died July 7, 1307
Burgh-by-Sands, Cumberland
Buried Westminster

Edward I (June 17, 1239 - July 7, 1307) , popularly known as "Longshanks" because of his 6 foot 2 inch (1.88 m) frame and the "Hammer of the Scots" (his tombstone, in Latin, read, Hic est Edwardvs Primus Scottorum Malleus, "Here lies Edward I, Hammer of the Scots"), achieved fame as the monarch who conquered Wales and who kept Scotland under English domination during his lifetime. He reigned from 1272 to 1307, ascending the throne of England on November 21, 1272 after the death of his father, King Henry III of England. His mother was Queen consort Eleanor of Provence.


Edward was born at the Palace of Westminster on June 17 or 18, 1239. He was an older brother of Beatrice of England and Edmund Crouchback, 1st Earl of Lancaster.

Edward married twice; his first marriage, in October 1254, was to Eleanor of Castile which produced 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 cortege 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 Philippe 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 in 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 Jews of England. 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 De Alamain. 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. This did not come to fruition. 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. Edward left the Holy Land and returned to England in 1272.

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

English Royalty
House of Plantagenet

Henry II
   William, Count of Poitiers
   Henry the Young King
   Richard I
   Geoffrey, Duke of Brittany
   King John
   Matilda of England
   Leonora of England
   Joan of England
Richard I
   Henry III
   Richard, Earl of Cornwall
   Joan of England
   Isabella of England
   Eleanor of England
Henry III
   Edward I
   Margaret of England
   Beatrice of England
   Edmund, Earl of Lancaster
Edward I
   Joan of England, Countess of Gloucester
   Alphonso, Earl of Chester
   Edward II
   Thomas, Earl of Norfolk
   Edmund, Earl of Kent
Edward II
   Edward III
   John, Earl of Cornwall
   Eleanor of England
   Joan of England
Edward III
   Edward, Prince of Wales
   Lionel, Duke of Clarence
   John, Duke of Lancaster
   Edmund, Duke of York
   Thomas, Duke of Gloucester
   Joan of England
   Isabella of England
    Richard II
    Philippa, Countess of Ulster
    Philippa of Lancaster
    Elizabeth of Lancaster
    Henry IV
    Catherine of Lancaster
    Edward, Duke of York
    Richard, Earl of Cambridge
    Constance of York
    Anne of Gloucester
Richard II

One of Edward's early achievements was the conquest of Wales. Under the 1267 Treaty of Montgomery, Llewelyn 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 recognise 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 created 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 child queen, Margaret of Scotland (Called 'The Maid of Norway') but when Margaret died with no clear successor, the Scottish Guardians invited Edward's arbitration, to prevent the country 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 judgement 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, proceeding 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 August 23, 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 lays in the lead casket as although Scotland and England united in 1707 to become the Kingdom of Great Britain, the conquest he envisaged was never completed. His son, King Edward II of England, succeeded him.

Government and law under Edward I

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 safeguard the preservation of royal rights and improve the administration of the law. He spearheaded a wave of nationalism and solidified central authority over the country, a trend also used by contemporary monarchs.

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).

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

To help finance his war to conquer Wales, Edward I taxed the Jewish moneylenders. However, the cost of Edward's ambitions soon drained the money-lenders dry. When the Jews could no longer pay, the state accused them of disloyalty. Already restricted to a limited number of occupations, Edward furthermore abolished their right to lend money at interest with the Statute of Jewry, 1275, and eventually restricted their extra-curricular movements and activities. This Statute also decreed ..."that each Jew after he shall be seven years old, shall wear a badge on his outer garmet that is to say in the form of two tablets joined of yellow fait {felt} of the length of six inches and the breadth of three inches." 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.

Patrick McGoohan as King Edward I in Braveheart
Patrick McGoohan as King Edward I in Braveheart


  • 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 animal; 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 reasons unknown he was called Edward I instead - establishing the custom of numbering English monarchs only from the Norman Conquest.
  • He was born on a Friday and died on a Friday.
  • He made extensive use of a large trebuchet called the War Wolf to siege Scottish castles.
  • He was portrayed by Patrick McGoohan in Braveheart.


Children of Edward and Eleanor:

  1. Daughter, stillborn in May 1255 in Bordeaux, France.
  2. Katherine, living June 17 1264, died September 5 1264 and buried at Westminster Abbey.
  3. Eleanor, born 18 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 September 7 1265.
  5. John, born July 13 1266, died August 3 1271 at Wallingford, in the custody of his granduncle, Richard, Earl of Cornwall. Buried at Westminster Abbey.
  6. Henry, born before May 6 1268, died October 16 1274.
  7. Daughter, born May 1271 in Palestine and died before September 1271.
  8. Joan of Acre born May 1271 and died April 7 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 March 15 1275 and died after 1333. She married John II, Duke of Brabant.
  11. Berengaria, born 1 May 1276 and died before June 27 1278, buried in Westminster Abbey.
  12. Daughter, 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, Flintshure, 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 Caernavon, later Edward II, King of England, born 25 April 1284 at Caernarvon, died 21 September 1327. He married Isabella of France.

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, Baroness Wake of Liddell and had issue.
  3. Eleanor (1306–1311), died young.



  • Michael Prestwich, Edward I (London: Methuen, 1988, updated edition Yale University Press, 1997 ISBN 0-300-07209-0)
  • Thomas B. Costain, The Three Edwards (Popular Library, 1958, 1962, ISBN 0-445-08513-4)
Preceded by:
Henry III
King of England
Succeeded by:
Edward II
Lord of Ireland
Duke of Aquitaine
Preceded by:
Matthew de Hastings
Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
Succeeded by:
Sir Matthew de Bezille
Monarchs of England
Alfred | Edward the Elder | Ethelweard | Athelstan | Edmund I | Edred | Edwy | Edgar I | Edward the Martyr | Ethelred | Sweyn I*† | Edmund II | Canute*† | Harthacanute* | Harold I | Edward the Confessor | Harold II | Edgar II | William I | William II | Henry I | Stephen | Matilda | Henry II | Richard I | John | Henry III | Edward I | Edward II | Edward III | Richard II | Henry IV | Henry V | Henry VI | Edward IV | Edward V | Richard III | Henry VII | Henry VIII‡ | Edward VI‡ | Jane‡ | Mary I‡ | Elizabeth I‡ | James I‡§ | Charles I‡§ | Interregnum | Charles II‡§ | James II‡§ | William III‡§¶ and Mary II‡§ | Anne‡§
* Also Monarch of Denmark | † Also Monarch of Norway | ‡Also Monarch of Ireland | § Also Monarch of Scotland | ¶ Also Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland, Overijssel and Drenthe

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