Edward I - 1272-1307
Edward, known as 'Longshanks' because of his height, and the 'Hammer of the Scots' because of his success against the Scots, was a man of enormous energy. He finally subdued Wales in 1284, making his son Prince of Wales.
Edward had sixteen children by Eleanor of Castile, one born while he and his wife were on a Crusade. Edward's love for his wife is confirmed by the fact that, on her death in Nottingham, Edward had her body brought to London and erected stone crosses at every one of the twelve stops on the way. He married for the second time and had three children by his second wife Margaret of France.
His activities covered every aspect of government and continued his predecessors' efforts to curb Church and baronial power. The reason was that this interfered with the unification of the nation under a monarch.
In 1279 he set up the Statute of Mortmain to prevent landowners giving their lands to the church in order to avoid taxation, and to ensure their place in heaven.
In 1285 he created the positions of Justices of the Peace, a measure designed to curb banditry and violent crime. He also summoned, in 1295, lords, clergy and burgesses from each shire thus furthering the concept of a parliament. This was known as the Model Parliament, first proposed by Simon de Montfort.
Edward's energy was tinged with the ruthlessness needed to govern in a country still finding its feet. Having chosen John Balliol as King of Scotland in 1296, he then deposed him and removed the Stone of Scone to Westminster.
Traditionally Scottish kings had always been crowned on the Stone. His one setback was a defeat by William Wallace, the Scottish patriot, at Stirling but he took his revenge at Falkirk in 1305 and Wallace was taken prisoner and later hanged, drawn and quartered.
Key Events during the Reign of Edward I
1272 - In Sicily, returning home from a Crusade, Edwards hears that, on the death of his father Henry III, he has become King.
1274 - Edward returns to England to be crowned in Westminster Abbey.
1277 - Edward invades North Wales.
1282 - Edward invades North Wales again and defeats Llywelyn.
1284 - Welsh independence ended by Statute of Rhuddlan.
1285 - Statute of Winchester institutes the first Justices of the Peace.
1290 - Death of Eleanor of Castile at the age of 54.
1292 - Edward chooses John Balliol to be King of Scotland.
1296 - Edward invades Scotland and defeats and deposes Balliol.
1298 - Edward invades Scotland again and defeats William Wallace at the Battle of Falkirk.
1299 - Edward marrries Margaret of France.
1305 - Wallace is betrayed, tried and executed in London.
1307 - Edward invades Scotland again, but dies on his way north.