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  1. Edward II (25 April 1284 – 21 September 1327), also called Edward of Caernarfon, was King of England from 1307 until he was deposed in January 1327. The fourth son of Edward I , Edward became the heir apparent to the throne following the death of his elder brother Alphonso .

  2. Aug 28, 2021 · Edward II, byname Edward of Caernarvon, (born April 25, 1284, Caernarvon, Caernarvonshire, Wales—died September 1327, Berkeley, Gloucestershire, England), king of England from 1307 to 1327. Although he was a man of limited capability, he waged a long, hopeless campaign to assert his authority over powerful barons.

    • Personal Qualities
    • Scotland
    • A Divided England
    • Civil War & Abdication
    • Death & Successor

    Edward was born on 25 April 1284 CE at Caernarfon Castle in Wales, the son of Edward I of England and Eleanor of Castile (b. c. 1242 CE). The prince was athletic, intelligent and keen on the arts but was prone, like most of his Plantagenet ancestors, to a violent and stubborn temper. Another peculiarity was Edward's passion for manual labour and skills like thatching rather than such traditional knightly pursuits as the medieval tournament. Edward had three elder brothers, but these had all died by the end of 1284 CE, leaving the prince as heir to the throne at a somewhat empty court and perhaps explaining his tendency to spend time with commoners. Edward was formally made the Prince of Wales by his father in 1301 CE, the first eldest son of an English monarch to be awarded this title in a tradition which still continues today.

    Edward I had conquered Wales and had been seemingly intent on adding Scotland to his kingdom but his death while on campaign in July 1307 CE gave the Scots a much-needed reprieve. Robert the Brucehad made himself king in February 1306 CE with the support of the Scottish northern barons, and the country was very far from giving up its independence despite Edward I's repeated attacks. Edward II was crowned on 25 February 1308 CE in Westminster Abbey; he was just 23 years old. His reign would be a disaster, and the only quality he seemed to share with his warrior-king father was his unusual height. The young king had no stomach for warfare and largely ignored his father's wishes to continue the campaigns in Scotland which allowed King Robert to pick off one by one the English-held castles in his kingdom and to make regular raids into northern England seemingly at will. Not until 1314 CE did Edward lead an army to Scotland, the motivation being the siege of the English-held Stirling Cas...

    Leaving foreign affairs to look after themselves, Edward II mostly spent his time with his pleasure-seeking friends amongst the comforts and attractions of London. One of these associates was Piers Gaveston (aka Peter de Gabaston) who had, despite his humble origins as the son of a mere knight, been made the Earl of Cornwall. Edward may have had a homosexual relationship with Gaveston (historians disagree on this point), but certainly his special favour is indicated in his gift of the earldom, one of the richest land areas and a title usually reserved for the sons of reigning monarchs. Whatever the real relationship between the two men, Edward did pursue convention and arranged for his niece Margaret de Clare to marry his special friend. In addition, the king had married Isabella (b. c. 1289 CE), the daughter of Philip IV of France (r. 1285-1314 CE) on 25 January 1308 CE, a diplomatic tie of significance and a union which produced an heir, Edward, born on 13 November 1312 CE and thr...

    Edward's kingdom became split into two groups: those for and those in opposition to their ineffectual king. The former were led by Hugh le Despenser, who had replaced Gaveston as the king's favourite (and probably lover), and the latter by Lancaster. The division even led to all-out warfare with the royalists defeating a rebel army at the Battle of Boroughbridge in Yorkshire in March 1322 CE. Edward then had Lancaster executed (the earl had the misfortune to have an incompetent axeman who needed three blows to do the deed) and summoned a parliament at York to remove any limits he saw to his royal power. There followed a persecution and purge of anyone deemed to have supported Lancaster, but another attempt to invade Scotland only ended in another ignominious defeat in which the king was forced to flee for his life to York. Edward had a knack for choosing the wrong friends, and his military failures were not at all what was expected from a medieval king. Unfortunately for Edward, he...

    Edward II, aged just 43, was murdered on 21 September 1327 CE at what had become his prison, the castle keep of Berkeley Castle. The orders for the execution likely came directly from his wife Isabella and her consort Roger Mortimer who quickly tired of the rumours and plots by the old king's supporters to restore him to his throne. Wishing to make it look like Edward had died a natural death, he was starved of food, but he still stubbornly clung on to life. The next method employed - if we are to believe later medieval chroniclers - was more successful but considerably more brutal: a red hot iron bar was shoved up into the ex-king's bowels. Whatever the actual method of execution, Edward was at least granted a decent burial in Gloucester Cathedral. Edward II's brutal reign and sticky comeuppance would later be immortalised in Christopher Marlowe's historical play Edward II (c. 1592 CE) which helped secure the king's lasting infamy as one of England's worst-ever monarchs. Edward was...

    • Mark Cartwright
    • King of England
    • War with The Barons
    • Conflict with Scotland
    • "Rule" of The Despensers
    • Abdication
    • Death
    • Fictional Accounts of Edward II
    • Legacy
    • References

    Edward was as physically impressive as his father, yet he lacked the drive and ambition of his forebear. It was written that Edward II was "the first king after the Conquest who was not a man of business".His main interest was in entertainment, though he also took pleasure in athletics and mechanical crafts. He had been so dominated by his father that he had little confidence in himself, and was often in the hands of a court favorite with a stronger will than his own. On January 25, 1308, Edward married Isabella of France, the daughter of King Philip the Fair and sister to three French kings. The marriage was doomed to failure almost from the beginning. Isabella was frequently neglected by her husband, who spent much of his time conspiring with his favorites regarding how to limit the powers of the Peerage in order to consolidate his father's legacy for himself. Nevertheless, their marriage produced two sons, Edward (1312–1377), who would succeed his father on the throne as Edward I...

    When Edward traveled to the northern French city of Boulogne-sur-Mer to marry Isabella, he left his friend and counselor Gaveston to act as regent. Gaveston also received the earldom of Cornwall and the hand of the king's niece, Margaret of Gloucester. But these proved to be costly honors. Various barons grew resentful of Gaveston, and insisted on his banishment through the Ordinances of 1311. An expression of Parliamentary power, the Ordinances, which referred to the king's "oppressive and destructive measures" severely restricted Edward's ability to make appointments without reference to Parliament, and also to spend money. Edward recalled his friend, but in 1312, Gaveston was executed by the Earl of Lancaster and his allies, who claimed that Gaveston led the King to folly. (Gaveston was run through and beheaded on Blacklow Hill, outside the small village of Leek Wootton, where a monument (Gaveston's Cross) still stands today). For four years, Lancaster, who was appointed Chief Co...

    During this period, Robert the Bruce was steadily re-conquering Scotland. In June 1314, Edward led a huge army into Scotland in hopes of relieving Stirling. On June 24, his ill-disciplined and poorly-led force was completely defeated by Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn. Contemporary chroniclers considered it one of the worst defeats sustained by an English army since 1066.Consequently, Bruce's position as King of Scots was secure, and he subsequently took vengeance for Edward I's activities by devastating the northern counties of England.The English, learning from defeat, never again fielded an army which relied on heavy cavalry charges, instead they fielded large numbers of longbowmen, dismounted men-at-arms and knights.

    Following the death of Gaveston, the King increased favor to his nephew-by-marriage (who was also Gaveston's brother-in-law), Hugh Despenser the Younger. But, as with Gaveston, the Barons were indignant at the privileges Edward lavished upon the Despenser father and son, especially when the younger Despenser began in 1318, to strive to procure for himself the earldom of Gloucester and the lands associated with it. By 1320, the situation in England was again becoming dangerously unstable. Edward ignored laws of the land in favor of Despenser: when Lord de Braose of Gower sold his Lordship to his son-in-law (an action entirely lawful in the Welsh Marches), Despenser demanded that the King grant Gower to him instead. The King, against all laws, then confiscated Gower from the purchaser and offered it to Despenser. In doing this, he invoked the fury of most of the Barons. In 1321, the Earl of Hereford, along with the Earl of Lancaster and others, took up arms against the Despenser famil...

    With the King imprisoned, Mortimer and the Queen faced the problem of what to do with him. The simplest solution would be execution: his titles would then pass to Edward of Windsor, whom Isabella could control, whilst it would also prevent the possibility of his being restored. Execution would require the King to be tried and convicted of Treason: And whilst most Lords agreed that Edward had failed to show due attention to his country, several Prelates argued that, appointed by God, the King could not be legally deposed or executed; if this happened, they said, God would punish the country. Thus, at first, it was decided to have Edward imprisoned for life instead. However, the fact remained that the legality of power still lay with the King. Isabella had been given the Great Seal, and was using it to rule in the names of the King, herself, and their son as appropriate; nonetheless, these actions were illegal, and could at any moment be challenged. In these circumstances, Parliament...

    The government of Isabella and Mortimer was so precarious that they dared not leave the deposed king in the hands of their political enemies. On April 3, Edward II was removed from Kenilworth and entrusted to the custody of two dependents of Mortimer, then later imprisoned at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire where, it is generally believed, he was subsequently murdered. The suspicion was elaborated in a later history by Sir Thomas More(1478–1535): The closest chronicler to the scene in time and distance, Adam Murimuth (1274 – 1347) an English ecclesiastic and chronicler, stated that it was popularly rumored that Edward II had been suffocated. The Lichfield chronicle, equally reflecting local opinion, stated that he had been strangled. Most chronicles did not offer a cause of death other than natural causes. Not until the relevant sections of the longer Brut chronicles (c. 1190), a Middle English poemcompiled and recast by the English priest Layamon, who was a poet of the early thi...

    The most famous fictional account of Edward II's reign is Christopher Marlowe's play Edward II. In recent years, several acclaimed productions have been staged in the United Kingdom, although the play is seldom performed in the United States outside of large cities and university towns. Derek Jarman's cinematic version of the play has much more to do with twentieth-century sexual politics than it does with Marlowe's drama.Margaret Campbell Barnes' Isabel the Fair, Hilda Lewis' Harlot Queen. Maureen Peters' Isabella, the She-Wolf, and Brenda Honeyman's The Queen and Mortimer all focus on Queen Isabella. Eve Trevaskis' King's Wakestarts shortly after the fall of the Despensers and ends with the fall of Mortimer. Most recently, Susan Higginbotham in The Traitor's Wife: A Novel of the Reign of Edward IIlooks at the reign and its aftermath through the eyes of Hugh le Despenser's wife, Eleanor de Clare. Medieval mystery novelists P. C. Doherty and Michael Jecks have set a number of their...

    While mainly remembered as a failure with respect to his ability to govern the country, for his defeat by Robert the Bruce, and death at the hands of rebels, Edwards's support for scholarship by founding Oriel College, Oxford and King's Hall, Cambridge represents an enduringly valuable contribution to learning and to the academy. He was king at a time when Baronial power was increasing, as was that of the Commoners, who were also represented in Parliament. Called upon to raise taxes and to contribute troops to fight warswhich were often of little benefit to themselves but furthered the personal interests of the king, they increasingly demanded a say in governance. The attempt to remove responsibility for financial management from the king represents ther beginning of a long move away from absolute monarchy towards shared governance. The concept of the state began to be more than the person realm of the king, who could more or less do what he wanted. What started to develop was the i...

    Blackley, F. D., and Gustav Hermansen. The Household Book of Queen Isabella of England, for the Fifth Regnal Year of Edward II, 8th July 1311 to 7th July 1312. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press...
    Doherty, Paul. Isabella and the Strange Death of Edward II. London: Constable and Robinson, 2003. ISBN 1-84119-301-1.
    Fryde, Natalie. The Tyranny and Fall of Edward II: 1321-1326. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1979. ISBN 9780521222013.
    Haines, Roy Martin. King Edward II: Edward of Caernarfon His Life, His Reign, and Its Aftermath 1284-1330. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2006. ISBN 978-0773531574.
    • Prince of Wales
    • King of England
    • Piers Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall
    • Conflict with Scotland
    • Political Factions
    • The Favourites
    • Rule of The Despensers
    • Edward Victorious
    • Queen Isabella's Resistance
    • Invasion by Isabella and Mortimer

    The fourth son of Edward I of England by his first wife Eleanor of Castile, Edward II was born at Caernarfon Castle. He was the first English prince to hold the title of the Prince of Wales, which was formalized by the Lincoln Parliament of 7 February 1301. (The story that his father presented Edward II as a newborn to the Welsh as their future native prince is unfounded; the story first appeared in the work of 16th century Welsh "antiquary" David Powel.) Edward became heir to the throne when he was just a few months old, upon the death of his elder brother Alfonso. His father, a notable military leader, made a point of training young Edward in warfare and statecraft starting in his childhood. Edward however preferred boating and craftsman work, things thought beneath kings at the time. It has been hypothesized that Edward's love for "low brow" activities was developed because of his overbearing and ruthless father. The prince took part in several Scots campaigns, but "all his fathe...

    The new king was physically as impressive as his father. He was, however, lacking in drive and ambition and was "the first king after the Conquest who was not a man of business" (Dr Stubbs). His main interest was in entertainment, though he also took pleasure in athleticsand in the practice of mechanical crafts. He had been so dominated by his father that he had little confidence in himself, and was always in the hands of some favourite with a stronger will than his own. Template:House of Plantagenet In the early years of his reign Gaveston held this role, acting as regent when Edward went to Boulogne in northern France, where, on 25 January 1308, he married Isabella of France, the daughter of King Philip IV of France, "Philip the Fair"; she was the sister of three French kings. The marriage was doomed to failure almost from the beginning. Isabella was neglected by her husband, who spent much of his time with the few friends he shared power with, conspiring on how to limit the power...

    Gaveston received the earldom of Cornwall with the hand of the king's niece, Margaret of Gloucester. The honour of marriage with a close relative of the King was generally reserved for more senior or proven nobles; the Earldom of Cornwall, at £4000 p.a. being one of the richest earldoms in the Kingdom, was viewed as belonging rightfully only to a son of the King, and had indeed been intended by Edward I for his second son, Thomas of Brotherton. The barons grew resentful of Gaveston and twice insisted on his banishment. On each occasion Edward recalled his friend, whereupon the barons, headed by the king's cousin Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, went to war against king and favourite and in 1312 Gaveston was executed as a traitor by the Earl of Lancaster and his allies, claiming that Gaveston led the King to folly. Gaveston was run through and beheaded on Blacklow Hill, outside the small village of Leek Wootton, where a monument (Gaveston's Cross) still stands today. Edward, appalled by th...

    During the quarrels between Edward and the "ordainers", Robert the Bruce was steadily re-conquering Scotland. His progress was so great that he had occupied all the fortresses save Stirling, which he besieged. The danger of losing Stirling shamed Edward and the barons into an attempt to retrieve their lost ground. In addition, Edward saw a chance for his sworn revenge against Lancaster, if he were to return home in front of a large, victorious army. Lancaster, his greatest Magnate, however refused to join the campaign. In June 1314 Edward led a huge army into Scotland in the hope of relieving Stirling. On 24 June, his ill-disciplined and poorly led force was completely defeated by Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn. Henceforth Bruce was sure of his position as King of Scots, took vengeance for Edward I's activities by devastating the northern counties of England.

    With the English disaster at Bannockburn, the advantage passed to Lancaster's party. Lancaster had shown some ability as a leader of opposition, but lacked creativity or the leadership ability of previous baronial leaders like Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester. He was the de factoleader because he was the wealthiest of the barons, not because of his skills. The perception was not that he wanted Edward to be more equitable with his distribution of gifts, but that he wanted Edward to give everything to him instead. He also was suspected of having made a secret understanding with Bruce, in hopes of keeping the king weak.Lancaster and Lord Warwick demanded changes to be made to the royal household, claiming that the King had ignored the Ordinances since Gaveston's death, had wrongfully appointed men to offices they did not deserve, and had wrongfully forgiven debts. The Bannockburn humiliation was explained as Divine punishment for Edward's flouting of the Ordinances, since the A...

    Since the death of Gaveston, the King had been showing increasing favour to his nephew-by-marriage (who was also Gaveston's brother-in-law), Hugh the Younger Despenser. Although the King listened to and trusted the advice given by Lords such as Pembroke and Hereford, he had little personal liking for them, in large part due to their involvement in the murder of Gaveston. He also had a large amount of trust and liking for Roger Mortimer of Wigmore, but that man was more valuable to Edward far away in Ireland, quelling revolts and the Scottish Invasion, than he could be as a court favourite. Accordingly, it was Despenser, of Edward's own age, who rose in the affections of the King, becoming as close to and favoured by the King as Gaveston had been. Initially with Despenser rose also William de Montagu, Roger Damory, and Hugh Audley. If the hatred the Barons had borne Gaveston had been very great, that they would eventually bear these four, in particular the Despenser family, would pro...

    By 1320, the Despensers were extraordinarily powerful in England. The younger Despenser had already been responsible for the killing of the Welsh rebel Llywellyn Bren, and had suffered no punishment. He had attempted to seize lands once associated with the County of Gloucester, for example Gwennllwg from Hugh Audley in 1317 (having already been granted the Lordship of Glamorgan, the richest part of the Gloucester inheritance, in that same year). He had also been made King's Chamberlain in 1318, granting him control over access to the King. And by 1320, it was evident that he was attempting to lay claim to the Earldom of Gloucester itself, whose rightful disposition was unclear. This attitude earned him the enmity of Hugh Audley and Roger Damory, the two former favourites and husbands of the other two Gloucester heiresses, whose marital inheritances were threatened by Despenser's ambitions. It also angered the Earl of Hereford and Roger Mortimer, both of whom had been angered by Desp...

    The victory of the rebels, however, proved their undoing. With the removal of the Despensers, many nobles in England, regardless of previous affiliation, now attempted to move into the vacuum left by the two. Hoping to win Edward's favour, these nobles were willing to aid the King in his revenge against the rebels, and thus increase their own wealth and power. Edward himself therefore not only desired revenge; he also had the means to attain it. The excuse for the opening of hostilities came when Lady Badlesmere of Leeds Castle, Kent, refused to give Queen Isabella - returning to London from Canterbury - lodging for the night, having been ordered by her husband Bartholemew de Badlesmere to grant access to no-one. Accordingly, the furious Queen ordered her men to force the gate. Ill-equipped to attack a well-defended castle, nine of the men perished, and the shamed Queen was forced to return to her husband - who used the incident as an excuse to raise an army, and attack Leeds Castle...

    It was unfortunate in the extreme for the Despensers that they should have engaged the hatred of the Queen so vigourously. She had never cared for any of the King's favourites; for the Despensers, she reserved a particular detestation, due to their ruthlessness and their manipulation of the King. She also hated the tyranny they were inflicting upon England, especially the imprisonment of noblewomen, and their treatment of the people of London (for whom Isabella cared - they had welcomed her upon her arrival to England), whom they subjected to unbearable taxation; and she detested the separation of children from their families, and the undermining of her respect and authority by the younger Despenser. Isabella's patience finally snapped during the Summer of 1322, during yet another Scottish Campaign. Isabella had, for the first time, accompanied the King to the border as part of the campaign, during which she stayed at Tynemouth Abbey. The Scots surprised Edward and Despenser at Blac...

    The King did not immediately give up hope of persuading the Queen to return to England. In reply to an earlier statement from her that she would not return "for fear and doubt of Hugh Despenser", he wrote to her in December, saying that he did not believe her to dislike Despenser, and claiming that Despenser had always done his utmost to advance the Queen (a statement which no doubt flabbergasted Isabella, considering that she was the daughter of a King and Queen, and Hugh le Despenser a mere Baron's son). He also flatly refused to her complaints. He then proceeded to order all of the Bishops in England to write to her in the guise of disapproving fathers, ordering her to return home - he even dictated the text of their letters. However, when Isabella's retinue (loyal to Edward, and ordered back to England by Isabella) returned to the English Court on 23 December, they brought shocking news for the King: Isabella had formed a liaison with Roger Mortimer in Paris. Furthermore, they w...

  3. The reign of King Edward II ended, chased through a Welsh rain storm and pursued by baying dogs. In the following days, Hugh was hanged, drawn and quartered at Hereford. Isabella tucked into a hearty meal as she relished the entertainment. Edward II went the way of all deposed kings.

  4. Mar 08, 2021 · "Edward II (25 April 1284 – 21 September 1327), also called Edward of Caernarfon,[1] was King of England from 1307 until he was deposed by his wife Isabella in January 1327. He was the sixth Plantagenet king, in a line that began with the reign of Henry II.

    • "Edward of Caernarfon"
    • Caernarfon Castle, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, Wales
    • April 25, 1284
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