Page:EB1911 - Volume 08.djvu/1018

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991
EDWARD I.

already ignominiously fled the country, and henceforth the influence of Godwine, and, after his death, of Harold, was supreme. In 1063 Harold made a great expedition into Wales, in which he crushed the power of King Gruffyd, who was killed by his own people. But despite his prowess and his power, he was the minister of the king rather than his personal favourite. This latter position belonged to his younger brother Tostig, who on the death of Siward in 1055 was appointed earl of Northumbria. Here his severity and arbitrary temper rendered him intensely unpopular, and in 1065 his subjects broke into revolt. They elected Morkere as their earl, then marching south demanded Tostig’s banishment. Edward desired to crush the revolt by force of arms, but he was overborne and forced to submit. The election of Morkere was recognized, and Tostig went into exile. Intensely mortified at this humiliation, the king fell sick, and henceforth his health failed rapidly. He was unable to gratify his intense desire to be present at the consecration of his new abbey of Westminster, the foundation of which had been the chief interest of his closing years, and on the 5th of January 1066 he died.

The virtues of Edward were monkish rather than kingly. In the qualities of a ruler he was conspicuously deficient; always dependent on others, he ever inclined to the unworthier master. But the charm of his character for the monastic biographer, and the natural tendency to glorify the days before the Norman oppression began, combined to cast about his figure a halo which had not attached to it in life. Allowed to keep her property by William the Conqueror, his widow, Edith, passed the remainder of her life at Winchester, dying on the 19th of December 1075.

Sources.—A number of lives of Edward are brought together in a volume of the Rolls Series entitled Lives of Edward the Confessor, and edited by Dr H. R. Luard (London, 1858). Of these by far the most valuable is the contemporary Vita Edwardi, which would appear from internal evidence to have been written by an unknown writer soon after the Norman Conquest—some time between 1066 and 1074. The other chief authorities for the reign are (1) the Saxon Chronicle, (C. Plummer, Oxford, 1892-1899); (2) Florence of Worcester, ed. B. Thorpe, English Historical Society (London, 1848-1849). Reference may also be made to J. M. Kemble, Codex diplomaticus aevi Saxonici (London, 1839-1848).


EDWARD I. (1239-1307), king of England, born at Westminster on the 17th of June 1239, was the eldest son of Henry III. and Eleanor of Provence. He was baptized Edward after Edward the Confessor, for whom Henry had special veneration, and among his godfathers was Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, his aunt Eleanor’s husband. His political career begins when the conclusion of a treaty with Alphonso X. of Castile, by which he was to marry the Spanish king’s half sister Eleanor, necessitated the conferring on him of an adequate establishment. His father granted him the duchy of Gascony, the earldom of Chester, the king’s lands in Wales and much else. The provision made was so liberal that Henry’s subjects declared he was left no better than a mutilated king. In May 1254 Edward went to Gascony to take possession of his inheritance. He then crossed the Pyrenees, and in October was dubbed knight by Alphonso and married to Eleanor at the Cistercian convent of Las Huelgas, near Burgos. He remained in Gascony till November 1255, but his father was too jealous to allow him a free hand in its administration. After his return, the attempts of his agents to establish English laws in his Welsh possessions brought Edward into hostile relations with the Welsh. Here also his father would give him no help, and his first campaign brought him little result. Edward became extremely unpopular through his association with his Lusignan kinsfolk, his pride and violence, and the disorders of his household. In 1258 his strenuous opposition to the Provisions of Oxford further weakened his position, but, after the banishment of the foreigners, he began to take up a wiser line. In 1259 he led the young nobles who insisted that the triumphant oligarchy should carry out the reforms to which it was pledged. For a moment it looked as if Edward and Leicester might make common cause, but Edward remained an enemy of Montfort, though he strove to infuse his father’s party with a more liberal and national spirit. He was the soul of the reconstituted royalist party formed about 1263. In 1264 he took a prominent part in the fighting between the king and the barons. At the battle of Lewes his rash pursuit of the Londoners contributed to his father’s defeat. Two days later Edward surrendered to Leicester as a hostage for the good behaviour of his allies. He was forced to give up his earldom of Chester to Leicester, but at Whitsuntide 1265 he escaped from his custodians, and joined the lords of the Welsh march who were still in arms. With their aid he defeated and slew Leicester at Evesham on the 4th of August 1265.

For the rest of Henry III.’s reign Edward controlled his father’s policy and appropriated enough of Leicester’s ideals to make the royalist restoration no mere reaction. So peaceful became the outlook of affairs that in 1268 Edward took the cross, hoping to join the new crusade of St Louis. Want of money delayed his departure till 1270, by which time St Louis was dead, and a truce concluded with the infidel. Refusing to be a party to such treason to Christendom, Edward went with his personal followers to Acre, where he abode from May 1271 to August 1272. Despite his energy and valour he could do little to prop up the decaying crusading kingdom and he narrowly escaped assassination. At last the declining health of his father induced him to return to the West. He learned in Sicily the death of Henry III. on the 16th of November 1272. On the 20th of November, the day of Henry’s funeral, he was recognized as king by the English barons, and from that day his regnal years were subsequently computed. Affairs in England were so peaceful that Edward did not hurry home. After a slow journey through Italy and France he did homage to his cousin Philip III. at Paris, on the 26th of July 1273. He then went to Gascony, where he stayed nearly a year. At last he landed at Dover on the 2nd of August 1274, and was crowned at Westminster on the 18th of the same month.

Edward was thirty-five years old when he became king, and the rude schooling of his youth had developed his character and suggested the main lines of the policy which he was to carry out as monarch. He was a tall, well-proportioned and handsome man, extravagantly devoted to military exercises, tournaments and the rougher and more dangerous forms of hunting. He had learned to restrain the hot temper of his youth, and was proud of his love of justice and strict regard to his plighted word. His domestic life was unstained, he was devoted to his friends, and loyal to his subordinates. Without any great originality either as soldier or statesman, he was competent enough to appropriate the best ideas of the time and make them his own. His defects were a hardness of disposition which sometimes approached cruelty and a narrow and pedantic temper, which caused him to regard the letter rather than the spirit of his promises. His effectiveness and love of strong government stand in strong contrast to his father’s weakness. Though he loved power, and never willingly surrendered it, he saw that to be successful he must make his policy popular. Thus he continued the system which Montfort had formed with the object of restraining the monarchy, because he saw in a close alliance with his people the best means of consolidating the power of the crown.

The first years of Edward’s reign were mainly occupied by his efforts to establish a really effective administration. In carrying out this task he derived great help from his chancellor, Robert Burnell, bishop of Bath and Wells. Administrative reform soon involved legislation, and from 1275 to 1290 nearly every year was marked by an important law. Few of these contained anything that was very new or original. They rather illustrate that policy which caused Dr Stubbs to describe his reign as a “period of definition.” Yet the results of his conservative legislation were almost revolutionary. In particular he left the impress of his policy on the land laws of England, notably by the clause De Donis of the Westminster statute of 1285, and the statute Quia Emptores of 1290. The general effect of his work was to eliminate feudalism from political life. At first he aimed at abolishing all franchises whose holders could not produce written warranty for them. This was the policy of the statute of Gloucester of 1278, but the baronial opposition was so resolute that Edward was forced to permit many immunities to remain. Though the most orthodox of churchmen, his dislike