Legends of the Middle Ages
King Edward II
Tall, strong, well-formed and a handsome man.
Edward II, King of England is an impressive and strong man. Taller than his father (known as Longshanks and Hammer of the Scots) at 6’2", he is very tall for the time. Edward has long, fair, wavy hair, which he wears parted in the middle and falling on either side of his face to his jawline or shoulders – the prevailing fashion for men at this time. His mustache and beard are light brown and well groomed in a kingly manner. He is fair complected and eyes are of a striking green.
King Edward II History:
The second son of Edward I by his first wife Eleanor of Castile, Edward II was born at Caernarvon Castle in North Wales on the 25th of April, 1284. He was the first English prince to hold the title Prince of Wales, which was formalized by the Parliament of Lincoln on the 7th February, 1301. He acceded as King Edward II on 8th June 1307 – Edward did not pass his Welsh title to his son, Edward III who was born on the 13th of November, 1312 at Windsor Castle.
Edward became heir apparent at just a few months of age, following the death of his elder brother Alphonso. His father, a notable military leader, trained his heir in warfare and statecraft starting in his childhood. Edward I knighted his son in a major ceremony in 1306 called the Feast of the Swans whereby all present swore to continue the war in Scotland.
Edward I died on 7 July 1307 en route to another campaign against the Scots, a war that had become the hallmark of his reign. One chronicler relates that Edward had requested his son “boil his body, extract the bones and carry them with the army until the Scots had been subdued.” His son ignored the request, however, and had his father buried in Westminster Abbey. Edward II immediately withdrew from the Scottish campaign.
On 25 January 1308, Edward married Isabella of France, the daughter of King Philip IV of France, known as “Philip the Fair,” and sister to three French kings, in an attempt to bolster an alliance with France. On 25 February the pair were crowned in Westminster Abbey. Isabella was 12 years old at the time of marriage.
Edward II is a member of the House Plantagenet.
King Edward II Early Years:
Edward of Caernarvon (as he was known while his father was alive) was the son of one of the greatest and most loved Kings of England. After King Edward I had conquered Wales twice, with the final rebellion being trampled 1283, he built a series of castles and towns in the countryside and settled them with Englishmen ensuring his rule. The next year, Edward of Caernarvon was born in North Wales. King Edward presented his Welsh subjects Edward II as the Prince of Wales on February 7th, 1301. English Parliament officially proclaimed this as Edward of Caernarvon made his 17th year of age.
After the sacking of Wales before Edward II was born, Edward continued on towards Scotland. Initially, the Scots invited Edward peacefully to arbitrate a succession plan, but instead Edward claimed feudal suzerainty over the Kingdom of Scotland. In the war that followed, the Scots persevered, even though the English seemed victorious at several points. At the same time there were problems at home. In the mid-1290s, extensive military campaigns required high levels of taxation, and Edward met with both lay and ecclesiastical opposition. These crises were initially averted, but issues remained unsettled. When the king died in 1307, he left to his son, Edward II, an ongoing war with Scotland and many financial and political problems.
Despite his failure to conquer Scotland, the people of England revered Edward I as one the mightiest and boldest Kings of England. This was reinforced with Edward’s issuing of the Edict of Expulsion in 1290 (the banning of the Jews) with the Christian church and Bishops of England. This contributed to Edward II’s difficult transition to becoming King.
Rumors and talk of Edward II
Edward I took great pains to train his son in warfare and statecraft. He took part in several Scots campaigns, but all his father’s efforts could not prevent his acquiring the habits of extravagance and frivolity which he retained all through his life. The old king attributed his son’s defects to the bad influence of his friend, the Gascon knight Piers Gaveston, and drove the favorite into exile. Ironically, it is said that Edward himself chose Piers as a companion for Edward II to teach him manners, courtesy and honor. When Edward I died on the 7th of July 1307, the first act of the prince, now Edward II, was to recall Gaveston. His next was to abandon the Scots campaign on which his father had set his heart. This act alone began a split of the English common people, as well as the noblemen.
It was said that during the elaborate eight day celebration of Edward II’s marriage to Isabella of France that he spent more time and attention with his friend Piers Gaveston than with his bride. He gave all of Isabella’s wedding gifts and instead presented them to Piers. The king caused a huge scandal by ignoring Isabella and hugging and kissing Piers Gaveston in front of everybody.
On 6 August 1307, less than a month after succeeding, Edward II made Piers Gaveston Earl of Cornwall. This was a controversial decision as Gaveston came from relatively humble origins, and his rise to the highest level of the peerage was considered improper by the established nobility. Furthermore, the earldom of Cornwall had traditionally been reserved for members of the royal family, and Edward I had intended it for one of his two younger sons from his second marriage which King Edward II had once again ignored his father’s wishes.
It is treason to say so, but there is speculation among both the common people and the nobility that Piers and Edward II were lovers as well as friends. Piers was exiled from England three times, each time Edward fighting for his return. When he did return in 1312, he was hunted down and executed by a group of magnates led by Thomas of Lancaster and Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick.
King Edward II has never forgiven Thomas of Lancaster for the execution and is awaiting a time when he can exact his revenge. It will be difficult, as Thomas is one of the most powerful men in England, perhaps more so than Edward II himself.
Ordinances of 1311
The Ordinances of 1311 were a series of regulations imposed upon King Edward II by the peerage and clergy of the Kingdom of England to restrict the power of the king. The twenty-one signatories of the Ordinances are referred to as the Lords Ordainers, or simply the Ordainers. English setbacks in the Scottish war, combined with perceived extortionate royal fiscal policies, set the background for the writing of the Ordinances in which the administrative prerogatives of the king were largely appropriated by a baronial council. The Ordinances reflect the Provisions of Oxford and the Provisions of Westminster from the late 1250s, but unlike the Provisions, the Ordinances featured a new concern with fiscal reform, specifically redirecting revenues from the king’s household to the exchequer.
Just as instrumental to their conception were other issues, particularly discontent with the king’s favourite, Piers Gaveston, whom the barons subsequently banished from the realm along with members of Pier’s family. Edward II accepted the Ordinances only under coercion.
Current actions of King Edward II
In 1313 Robert the Bruce’s army recaptured Perth, Dundee, Edinburgh and Roxburgh from English occupation using stealth and surprise tactics.
In June, Stirling Castle was sieged by Robert the Bruce. Bruce and the English commander, Sir Philippe de Mowbray, came to an agreement that if English forces had not reached the castle by midsummer 1314, Mowbray would surrender the castle to the Scots. Bruce sent Mowbray to inform King Edward II of the agreement.
On December 23rd King Edward II called upon the Earls to provide men, arms, provisions and to meet at Berwick on the 10th of June 1314 to attack the Scots.
In February, Richard Bruce ordered that the castles at Roxburgh, Linlithgow and Edinburgh should be destroyed to prevent Scottish castles falling into English hands.
On April 15th King Edward II left London towards Berwick with his Royal Army, collecting Lords, knights and men along the way.