We take a closer look at just who was Edward Longshanks, Edward I of England, and what makes him a polarizing figure in history.
The British Monarchy has seen some extraordinary figures over the years, and while some kings and queens are more widely recognised and remembered than others.
Edward I of England is a fairly polarizing figure in history, yet he is perhaps best known for his numerous campaigns and attempts to subdue Wales, and for being primarily responsible for significant administrative and legal reform in Britain.
But who exactly was the former king of England known as Edward Longshanks, and what kind of a mark did he leave on Britain?
Who was Edward I of England?
Edward was born way back in 1239, in June, at Westminster. He was the son of Henry III and became known as Edward Longshanks, along with ‘The Hammer of the Scots’.
He ruled over the throne from 1272 until 1307, and before his coronation when he ascended the throne, he is known as ‘Lord Edward’.
From an early age he was fascinated in the politics of his father’s reign.
He was a king unafraid of conflict with the first half of his reign being dominated by his fearsome campaigns in Wales, in which he was victorious.
He was also responsible for significant reforms in the British Isles, and shortly afterward Wales itself was brought into English administrative and legal frameworks, with Edward’s own son being proclaimed the Prince of Wales, which as you may know, is a tradition that still exists to this very day.
The life and times of Edward Longshanks
In 1254, Edward married Eleanor Castile, and his early life was rife with conflict and civil matters between his father and rebel barons. Edward was actually captured and held captive by Simon de Montford, who was a leader of the rebels. Edward was able to escape and lead a royalist army to victory at the Battle of Evesham in 1265. This was the battle in which his former captor, de Montford, was mortally wounded.
Edward left England in 1270 to join the Eighth Crusade. He was away for 4 years, before returning in 1274, determined to leave his mark on England and the British Isles.
His father died in 1272, making him king. He set his sights on Wales and in 1277 he invaded and was victorious, building a circle of castles in order to assert his authority. His rule soon led to rebellion, resulting in him invading once again.
He defeated Welsh leader Llewelyn ap Gruffyd where he was killed in battle and had his brother executed. This resulted in any hopes of Welsh independence being shattered.
Reform and death of Edward I of England
At home in England, Edward played a key role in numerous reforms, including inserting rights to the crown and increasing taxation to fund his military campaigns. Because of this, there was the need for more meetings in parliament, which went on to become a political part of everyday life.
Edward was so driven by profit, he would go on to expel all Jews from England in 1290.
Edward would go on to invade and conquer Scotland, which led to the capture and execution of William Wallace in 1305. By 1306, Scottish nobleman Robert the Bruce had rebelled and in 1307, while en-route to battle Robert the Bruce, Edward developed dysentery and died shortly afterward. He passed away on the 7th of July, 1307.