Pope Clement V; a truce was declared with France in 1297, followed by a

peace treaty in 1303 under which the French king restored the duchy of

Gascony to Edward. In Scotland, Edward pursued a series of campaigns from

1298 onwards. William Wallace had risen in Balliol's name and recovered

most of Scotland, before being defeated by Edward at the battle of Falkirk

in 1298. (Wallace escaped, only to be captured in 1305, allegedly by the

treachery of a fellow Scot and taken to London, where he was executed.) In

1304, Edward summoned a full Parliament (which elected Scottish

representatives also attended), in which arrangements for the settlement of

Scotland were made. The new government in Scotland featured a Council,

which included Robert the Bruce. Bruce unexpectedly rebelled in 1306 by

killing a fellow counsellor and was crowned king of Scotland at Scone.

Despite his failing health, Edward was carried north to pursue another

campaign, but he died en route at Burgh on Sands on 7 July 1307 aged 68.

According to chroniclers, Edward requested that his bones should be carried

on Scottish campaigns and that his heart be taken to the Holy Land.

However, Edward was buried at Westminster Abbey in a plain black marble

tomb, which in later years was painted with the words Scottorum malleus

(Hammer of the Scots) and Pactum serva (Keep troth). Throughout the

fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the Exchequer paid to keep candles

burning 'round the body of the Lord Edward, formerly King of England, of

famous memory'.

EDWARD II (1307-1327)

Edward II had few of the qualities that made a successful medieval king.

Edward surrounded himself with favourites (the best known being a Gascon,

Piers Gaveston), and the barons, feeling excluded from power, rebelled.

Throughout his reign, different baronial groups struggled to gain power and

control the King. The nobles' ordinances of 1311, which attempted to limit

royal control of finance and appointments, were counteracted by Edward.

Large debts (many inherited) and the Scots' victory at Bannockburn by

Robert the Bruce in 1314 made Edward more unpopular. Edward's victory in a

civil war (1321-2) and such measures as the 1326 ordinance (a protectionist

measure which set up compulsory markets or staples in 14 English, Welsh and

Irish towns for the wool trade) did not lead to any compromise between the

King and the nobles. Finally, in 1326, Edward's wife, Isabella of France,

led an invasion against her husband. In 1327 Edward was made to renounce

the throne in favour of his son Edward (the first time that an anointed

king of England had been dethroned since Ethelred in 1013). Edward II was

later murdered at Berkeley Castle.

EDWARD III (1327-77)

Edward III was 14 when he was crowned King and assumed government in his

own right in 1330. In 1337, Edward created the Duchy of Cornwall to provide

the heir to the throne with an income independent of the sovereign or the

state. An able soldier, and an inspiring leader, Edward founded the Order

of the Garter in 1348. At the beginning of the Hundred Years War in 1337,

actual campaigning started when the King invaded France in 1339 and laid

claim to the throne of France. Following a sea victory at Sluys in 1340,

Edward overran Brittany in 1342 and in 1346 he landed in Normandy,

defeating the French King, Philip IV, at the Battle of Crйcy and his son

Edward (the Black Prince) repeated his success at Poitiers (1356). By 1360

Edward controlled over a quarter of France. His successes consolidated the

support of the nobles, lessened criticism of the taxes, and improved

relations with Parliament. However, under the 1375 Treaty of Bruges the

French King, Charles V, reversed most of the English conquests; Calais and

a coastal strip near Bordeaux were Edward's only lasting gain. Failure

abroad provoked criticism at home. The Black Death plague outbreaks of 1348-

9, 1361-2 and 1369 inflicted severe social dislocation (the King lost a

daughter to the plague) and caused deflation; severe laws were introduced

to attempt to fix wages and prices. In 1376, the 'Good Parliament' (which

saw the election of the first Speaker to represent the Commons) attacked

the high taxes and criticised the King's advisers. The ageing King withdrew

to Windsor for the rest of his reign, eventually dying at Sheen Palace,


RICHARD II (1377-99)

Edward III's son, the Black Prince, died in 1376. The King's grandson,

Richard II, succeeded to the throne aged 10, on Edward's death. In 1381 the

Peasants' Revolt broke out and Richard, aged 14, bravely rode out to meet

the rebels at Smithfield, London. Wat Tyler, the principal leader of the

peasants, was killed and the uprisings in the rest of the country were

crushed over the next few weeks (Richard was later forced by his Council's

advice to rescind the pardons he had given). Highly cultured, Richard was

one of the greatest royal patrons of the arts; patron of Chaucer, it was

Richard who ordered the technically innovative transformation of the Norman

Westminster Hall to what it is today. (Built between 1097 and 1099 by

William II, the Hall was the ceremonial and administrative centre of the

kingdom; it also housed the Courts of Justice until 1882.) Richard's

authoritarian approach upset vested interests, and his increasing

dependence on favourites provoked resentment. In 1388 the 'Merciless

Parliament' led by a group of lords hostile to Richard (headed by the

King's uncle, Gloucester) sentenced many of the King's favourites to death

and forced Richard to renew his coronation oath. The death of his first

queen, Anne of Bohemia, in 1394 further isolated Richard, and his

subsequent arbitrary behaviour alienated people further. Richard took his

revenge in 1397, arresting or banishing many of his opponents; his cousin,

Henry of Bolingbroke, was also subsequently banished. On the death of

Henry's father, John of Gaunt (a younger son of Edward III), Richard

confiscated the vast properties of his Duchy of Lancaster (which amounted

to a state within a state) and divided them among his supporters. Richard

pursued policies of peace with France (his second wife was Isabella of

Valois); Richard still called himself king of France and refused to give up

Calais, but his reign was concurrent with a 28 year truce in the Hundred

Years War. His expeditions to Ireland failed to reconcile the Anglo-Irish

lords with the Gaels. In 1399, whilst Richard was in Ireland, Henry of

Bolingbroke returned to claim his father's inheritance. Supported by some

of the leading baronial families (including Richard's former Archbishop of

Canterbury), Henry captured and deposed Richard. Bolingbroke was crowned

King as Henry IV. Risings in support of Richard led to his murder in

Pontefract Castle; Henry V subsequently had his body buried in Westminster



The accession of Henry IV sowed the seeds for a period of unrest which

ultimately broke out in civil war. Fraught by rebellion and instability

after his usurpation of Richard II, Henry IV found it difficult to enforce

his rule. His son, Henry V, fared better, defeating France in the famous

Battle of Agincourt (1415) and staking a powerful claim to the French

throne. Success was short-lived with his early death.

By the reign of the relatively weak Henry VI, civil war broke out between

rival claimants to the throne, dating back to the sons of Edward III. The

Lancastrian dynasty descended from John of Gaunt, third son of Edward III,

whose son Henry deposed the unpopular Richard II. Yorkist claimants such

as the Duke of York asserted their legitimate claim to the throne through

Edward III's second surviving son, but through a female line. The Wars of

the Roses therefore tested whether the succession should keep to the male

line or could pass through females.

Captured and briefly restored, Henry VI was captured and put to death,

and the Yorkist faction led by Edward IV gained the throne.

HENRY IV (1399-1413)

Henry IV was born at Bolingbroke in 1367 to John of Gaunt and Blanche of

Lancaster. He married Mary Bohun in 1380, who bore him seven children

before her death in 1394. In 1402, Henry remarried, taking as his bride

Joan of Navarre. Henry had an on-again, off-again relationship with his

cousin, Richard II. He was one of the Lords Appellant, who, in 1388,

persecuted many of Richard's advisor-favorites, but his excellence as a

soldier gained the king's favor - Henry was created Duke of Hereford in

1397. In 1398, however, the increasingly suspicious Richard banished him

for ten years. John of Gaunt's death in 1399 prompted Richard to confiscate

the vast Lancastrian estates; Henry invaded England while Richard was on

campaign in Ireland, usurping the throne from the king. The very nature of

Henry's usurpation dictated the circumstances of his reign - incessant

rebellion became the order of the day. Richard's supporters immediately

revolted upon his deposition in 1400. In Wales, Owen Glendower led a

national uprising that lasted until 1408; the Scots waged continual warfare

throughout the reign; the powerful families of Percy and Mortimer (the

latter possessing a stronger claim to the throne than Henry) revolted from

1403 to 1408; and Richard Scrope, Archbishop of York, proclaimed his

opposition to the Lancastrian claim in 1405. Two political blunders in the

latter years of his reign diminished Henry's support. His marriage to Joan

of Navarre (of whom it was rumored practiced necromancy) was highly

unpopular - she was, in fact, convicted of witchcraft in 1419. Scrope and

Thomas Mawbray were executed in 1405 after conspiring against Henry; the

Archbishop's execution alarmed the English people, adding to his

unpopularity. He developed a nasty skin disorder and epilepsy, persuading

many that God was punishing the king for executing an archbishop. Crushing

the myriad of rebellions was costly, which involved calling Parliament to

fund such activities. The House of Commons used the opportunity to expand

its powers in 1401, securing recognition of freedom of debate and freedom

from arrest for dissenting opinions. Lollardy, the Protestant movement

founded by John Wycliffe during the reign of Edward III, gained momentum

and frightened both secular and clerical landowners, inspiring the first

anti-heresy statute, De Heritico Comburendo, to become law in 1401. Henry,

ailing from leprosy and epilepsy, watched as Prince Henry controlled the

government for the last two years of his reign. In 1413, Henry died in the

Jerusalem Chamber of Westminster Abbey. Rafael Holinshed explained his

unpopularity in Chronicles of England: "... by punishing such as moved with

disdain to see him usurp the crown, did at sundry times rebel against him,

he won(himself more hatred, than in all his life time ... had been possible

for him to have weeded out and removed." Unlikely as it may seem (due to

the amount of rebellion in his reign); Henry left his eldest son an

undisputed succession.

HENRY V (1413-1422)

Henry V, the eldest son of Henry IV and Mary Bohun, was born in 1387. As

per arrangement by the Treaty of Troyes, he married Catherine, daughter of

the French King Charles VI, in June 1420. His only child, the future Henry

VI, was born in 1421.

Henry was an accomplished soldier: at age fourteen he fought the Welsh

forces of Owen ap Glendower; at age sixteen he commanded his father's

forces at the battle of Shrewsbury; and shortly after his accession he put

down a major Lollard uprising and an assassination plot by nobles still

loyal to Richard II . He proposed to marry Catherine in 1415, demanding the

old Plantagenet lands of Normandy and Anjou as his dowry. Charles VI

refused and Henry declared war, opening yet another chapter in the Hundred

Years' War. The French war served two purposes - to gain lands lost in

previous battles and to focus attention away from any of his cousins' royal

ambitions. Henry, possessed a masterful military mind and defeated the

French at the Battle of Agincourt in October 1415, and by 1419 had captured

Normandy, Picardy and much of the Capetian stronghold of the Ile-de-France.

By the Treaty of Troyes in 1420, Charles VI not only accepted Henry as

his son-in-law, but passed over his own son to name Henry as heir to the

French crown. Had Henry lived a mere two months longer, he would have been

king of both England and France.

Henry had prematurely aged due to living the hard life of a soldier. He

became seriously ill and died after returning from yet another French

campaign; Catherine had bore his only son while he was away and Henry died

having never seen the child. The historian Rafael Holinshed, in Chronicles

of England , summed up Henry's reign as such: "This Henry was a king, of

life without spot, a prince whom all men loved, and of none disdained, e

captain against whom fortune never frowned, nor mischance once spurned,

whose people him so severe a justicer both loved and obeyed (and so humane

withal) that he left no offence unpunished, nor friendship unrewarded; a

terror to rebels, and suppressor of sedition, his virtues notable, his

qualities most praiseworthy."

HENRY VI (1422-61, 1470-71 AD)

Henry VI was the only child of Henry V and Catherine of Valois, born on

December 6, 1421. He married Margaret of Anjou in 1445; the union produced

one son, Edward, who was killed in battle one day before Henry's execution.

Henry came to the throne as an infant after the early death of his father;

in name, he was king of both England and France, but a protector ruled each

realm. He was educated by Richard Beauchamp beginning in 1428. The whole of

Henry's reign was involved with retaining both of his crowns - in the end,

he held neither.

Hostilities in France continued, but momentum swung to the French with

the appearance of Joan of Arc in 1428. The seventeen year old was

instrumental in rescuing the French Dauphin Charles in 1429; he was crowned

at Reims as Charles VII, and she was burned at the stake as a heretic.

English losses in Brittany (1449), Normandy (1450) and Gascony (1453) led

to the conclusion of the Hundred Years' War in 1453. Henry lost his claim

to all French soil except for Calais.

The Wars of the Roses began in full during Henry's reign. In 1453, Henry

had an attack of the hereditary mental illness that plagued the French

house of Valois; Richard, Duke of York, was made protector of the realm

during the illness. His wife Margaret, a rather headstrong woman, alienated

Richard upon Henry's recovery and Richard responded by attacking and

defeating the queen's forces at St. Albans in 1455. Richard captured the

king in 1460 and forced him to acknowledge Richard as heir to the crown.

Henry escaped, joined the Lancastvian forces and attacked at Towton in

March 1461, only to be defeated by the Yorks. Richard's son, Edward IV, was

proclaimed king; Margaret and Henry were exiled to Scotland. They were

captured in 1465 and imprisoned in the Tower of London until 1470. Henry

was briefly restored to power in Settember 1470. Edward, Prince of Wales,

died after his final victory at Tewkesbury on May 20, 1471 and Henry

returned to the Tower. The last Lancastrian king was murdered the following



The Yorkist conquest of the Lancastrians in 1461 did not put an end to

the Wars of the Roses, which rumbled on until the start of the sixteenth

century. Family disloyalty in the form of Richard III's betrayal of his

nephews, the young King Edward V and his brother, was part of his downfall.

Henry Tudor, a claimant to the throne of Lancastrian descent, defeated

Richard III in battle and Richard was killed. With the marriage of Henry to

Elizabeth, the sister of the young Princes in the Tower, reconciliation was

finally achieved between the warring houses of Lancaster and York in the

form of the new Tudor dynasty, which combined their respective red and

white emblems to produce the Tudor rose.

EDWARD IV (1461-1470 and 1471-1483)

Edward IV was able to restore order, despite the temporary return to the

throne of Henry VI (reigned 1470-71, during which time Edward fled to the

Continent in exile) supported by the Earl of Warwick, 'the Kingmaker', who

had previously supported Edward and who was killed at the Battle of Barnet

in 1471. Edward also made peace with France; by a shrewd display of force

to exert pressure, Edward reached a profitable agreement with Louis XI at

Picquigny in 1475. At home, Edward relied heavily on his own personal

control in government, reviving the ancient custom of sitting in person 'on

the bench' (i.e. in judgement) to enforce justice. He sacked Lancastrian

office-holders and used his financial acumen to introduce tight management

of royal revenues to reduce the Crown's debt. Building closer relations

with the merchant community, he encouraged commercial treaties; he

successfully traded in wool on his own account to restore his family's

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