Edward II of England

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Caernarfon Castle,
Birth Sign
Caernarfon Castle,

From 1307 until 1327, Edward II was King of England for two decades. His reign is characterized by unrest and strife, the former as a result of his ongoing war with Scotland, and the latter as a result of his preferential treatment. Throughout his reign, he was beset by obstacles such as a lack of funds and hostility from barons and nobility. His reign on the throne was made worse by his inept or limited military talents. When Edward II was made Prince of Wales, he first rose to prominence. In a spectacular ceremony held in Westminster Abbey in 1307, he was knighted. He ascended to the kingdom the same year, upon his father’s death. His friendship with Piers Gaveston was the highlight of his reign, earning him the fury of nobles and barons to the point that Gaveston was executed and slain by the dissatisfied barons. Despite Gaveston’s death, King Edward II’s favoritism persisted, and he soon found a favorite in the Dispenser father and son combo. His partial behavior irritated everyone, particularly his wife, Isabella, who plotted against her loathed husband with her lover Roger Mortimer and eventually had him murdered.

Table of Contents

Childhood and Adolescence

Edward II was born in Caernarfon Castle, Gwynedd, on April 25, 1284. He was the fourth son of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile, the King and Queen of England. He was the only heir to the throne because his three elder brothers died before he was born.

Edward II was largely cared for by his foster mother, Alice de Leygrave, in his early years. Information about his education is unconfirmed. Guy Ferre is said to have trained him in riding and military duty while his religious instruction was handled by Dominican friars.

Reign & Accession

Edward II served as regent in charge of England for a year during his father’s absence in 1297. At the siege of Caerlaverock in 1300, the father-son combination set out for Scotland, with young Edward serving as commander of the rearguard.

In 1301, he was named Prince of Wales, making him the first English prince to wield the title.
Prince Edward befriended Piers Gaveston, the son of the King’s household knights, in the early 1300s. They had a really tight relationship. Gaveston’s social status was boosted significantly as a result of their strong connection. In 1306, King Edward knighted Prince Edward.

Gaveston was exiled to Gascony in 1307. The King’s decree for exile is thought to have been in response to Prince Edward’s recommendation that Gaveston be given the County of Ponthieu, which he had inherited from his mother. Some even claim that Gaveston and Prince Edward had a romantic relationship.

King Edward I’s ambition of a united British country was shattered when Robert the Bruce seized power as King of the Scots in 1307. Despite the fact that Prince Edward II was assigned to lead the expedition against Bruce, his forces were forced to retire due to orders from King Edward I.

In 1307, King Edward raised a new army for the Scottish conflict. The king became gravely ill just as Prince Edward was about to join the military troops, and he died as a result. On July 20, 1307, after King Edward’s death, Prince Edward was declared King of England.

As King of England, Edward II first summoned Piers Gaveston from exile and named him Earl of Cornwall, a title hitherto reserved for members of the royal family. The appointment infuriated the powerful barons, and he incurred the anger of nobles and magnates.

When King Edward II sailed for France in 1308, he named Gaveston as his ‘custos regni,’ or regent in command of the country while he was away. Barons despised Gaveston’s appointment because it granted him unparalleled authority.

Edward II married Isabella of France in 1308, hoping that the marriage would enhance his status in Gascony and provide him with much-needed finances. The discussions, on the other hand, proved to be difficult.

A great event was held for King Edward II and Isabella’s coronation and wedding feast, during which Gaveston played an important part. The English and French contingents were enraged by his presence at the ceremonial ceremonies.

The King’s continuous favoritism for Gaveston became a major point of dispute at the 1308 parliamentary meeting. A new parliament was convened two months later, during which the barons successfully forced Gaveston’s exile. Gaveston was originally supposed to go to Aquitaine, but he was instead transferred to Dublin, where he was made Lieutenant of Ireland.

During Gaveston’s exile, King Edward II tried multiple times to persuade Pope Clement V and Philip IV, as well as Church members, significant barons, and senior earls, to allow Gaveston’s return to England, but in vain. Finally, based on his assurance, the Pope lifted the Archbishop’s threat of excommunication against Gaveston, allowing him to return.

To appease Gaveston’s opponents, he agreed to reduce the royal steward’s and royal household marshal’s authority, to curb the Crown’s unpopular purveyance powers, and to repeal recently adopted customs legislation.

A baronial committee of 21 chosen members was constituted in 1310. They drafted the Ordinance, which curtailed the King’s authority and instead gave parliament control over the royal administration, abolishing the system of prises, barring the Frescobaldi bankers, and establishing a system to ensure that the Ordinances were followed. It also curtailed the King’s ability to wage war or grant land. It also exiled Gaveston, who was recaptured and executed upon his return in 1312.

Following Robert the Bruce’s ascent to prominence and reclaiming the kingdom of Scotland, King Edward II invaded Scotland. At the Battle of Bannockburn, however, he was soundly crushed. The barons took control of the governance after his defeat in war. By 1315, his cousin Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, had risen to become England’s true ruler.

The Great Famine, which sadly enveloped the whole of England between 1315 and 1321, dominated the time. The ascendency of the Scottish regime led by Robert the Bruce added to the problems. Edward Bruce, his brother, successfully conquered Ireland and became King of Ireland.

Hugh Dispenser and his son, Hugh Dispenser the Young, had become new favorites of King Edward II by 1321. The barons despised the association with the Dispenser once more. As a result, Lancaster exiled the two when the King supported the Dispensers in their territorial ambitions in Wales. Lancaster was defeated at the Battle of Boroughbridge in Yorkshire by King Edward II, who later arrested and murdered him.

His wife Isabella encountered exiled Marcher lord Roger Mortimer and became his mistress in 1325 while on a diplomatic expedition to France to arrange a peace pact. Soon after, the two entered England, executed the Dispensers, and toppled King Edward II, replacing him with Edward III.

On April 5, 1327, he was sent to Berkley Castle in Gloucestershire, following his banishment. He was assassinated in September of the same year.

Personal History and Legacy

Edward II’s marriage was more of an imperial arrangement to strengthen the kingdom than a love alliance, according to normal procedure among the royal families of the time. His marriage to Isabella of France was settled after a number of failed relationships.

On the 25th of January, 1308, King Edward II married Isabella. Edward III, John, Eleanor, and Joan were the couple’s four offspring. From his relationships with mistresses, King Edward II fathered an illegitimate son named Adam.

His marriage to Isabella went well for the most part. Isabella’s travel to Paris in 1325, however, altered the path of their relationship and the couple’s approaching future. She became Roger Mortimer’s mistress in Paris. The invasion of England and subsequent killing of King Edward II were meticulously planned by the two.

King Edward II was succeeded by his son, Edward III, after his death on September 21, 1327. His body was embalmed at Berkeley Castle before being transported to Gloucester Abbey and finally laid to rest beside the high altar.

Estimated Net Worth

King Edward II  net worth is unknown.