Edward I King of England

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series Plantagenet Monarchs

Edward I King Of England 1239-1307

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

Edward I Plantagenet King's Ancestors diagram


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

Edward I's the descendents

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.

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