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DWARD, the first of that name after William I the Norman, was made king at age thirty-five, which was the year of human salvation 1273. At the start of his reign he selected for his Privy Council the most pious men and those who were most effective for doing things well, and he created William Marton, a man of excellent mind and virtue, as Lord Chancellor of England. And to win over popular opinion, which had been offended when under his father Henry the people had complained in vain about the iniquity of the laws, he almost exceeded the bounds of kindness in addressing each and every man by name and giving so many indications of his good will. Then, in a parliament convened not long thereafter, he emended the old laws and handed down new, wholesome ones. Finally he appointed John St. John as governor of Aquitaine, a prudent man and likewise a brave one, and he ordered him to guard the province with more than usual care. For he was very angry at King Philippe for the murder of his cousin Henry, which I have recounted in my previous Book, and it was his opinion that the French king had been very complicit in that. And so both nourished hatred in their hearts, destined sometime to erupt. After this, nothing was more important to Edward than to avenge the murder of his cousin Henry, and so at the first moment possible he treated with Pope Gregory, whose friendship he had originally made in Syria, that he would not permit this criminal parricide to go unpunished. Because his murderer Guy de Montfort had become more powerful, having inherited the fortune of his father-in-law Count Rufus of Nola, he could not be caught, on his own authority Gregory declared him and his helpers to be counted among the impious. In the same year, after an earthquake which flattened many buildings, they say it rained blood in Wales, and that was a fatal omen for that nation, since that region was afterwards drenched in blood. At that time Lewellyn the son of Griffyn lorded it in Wales, and he, partly to create new seditions in England, and partly to make the French his allies, by means of messengers sent by St. Louis’ son Philippe asked for the hand of the daughter of Simon de Montfort Earl of Leicester, named Eleanor. At the time she, her mother, and her brother Henry were in exile in France. This the French king granted, and immediately sent the betrothed girl to her husband under escort of her brother Henry. While she was at sea and approaching Wales, she was captured with her brother and brought to Edward. When Lewellyn found this out, he was filled with rage and ravaged his way through the English countryside. Standing under arms and killing the first man he met, he devastated everything. Hearing of the Welshman’s fury, the king brought help to his subjects, and put down the Welshmen ranging through the fields so quickly that he compelled Lewellyn to to sue for peace and pardon, when he saw his affairs being drawn towards impending ruin. And this at length Edward grudgingly conceded, handing over the girl, her virginity intact. The Welshman, having gained peace, gave the traditional oath. After these things, Edward took into his friendship David, Lewellyn’s own brother, a lad in the flower of his youth, held him in honor, and transformed him from a pauper into a wealth man. But so far was Lewellyn from being mindful of these benefits that a little later he repaid the king with a bad deed. For, having lost his wife and at the same time neglecting his oath, he again invaded English territory and began to make depredations far and wide. But then, frightened by the arrival of the king, who came there swiftly to avenge so great a wrong, he set down his arms and once more sued for peace, which Edward again did not refuse, so as not to waste his effort in fighting among mountains and marshes, to which your Welshman was accustomed to retreat, as if into a fortress. At the same time, when Robert Archbishop of Canterbury was made a Cardinal and Bishop of Oporto, John, a member of the Franciscan order, was set over the see of Canterbury by Pope Gregory, the forty-seventh in his series. Here we can detect that an element of sincerity in our prelates existed then, since the law allowed few men to obtain two provinces at the same time. For when Robert gained the see of Oporto he resigned that of Canterbury. But, oh, this is a law all but obsolete! For now each bishop has multiple sees for the sake of wealth and power, so (as is reasonable to believe) he governs none of them properly, because bishops seem to measure the care of the flock entrusted to themselves according to the yardstick of greed, not duty. In this year, too, Alexander King of Scots swore homage to Edward in the traditional way. And Thomas, a man most learned both in the law and in Scripture, who previously belonged to the Council and household of Henry III, was made Bishop of Hereford. For this man, both most frugal and most upright, so lived his life at all times that after his death he deserved to be placed in heaven by both God and Man, and he is now famed for his miracles.
2. After these things, about the year of human salvation 1278, Edward, lacking money, devised a new thing for his profit. By an innovation introduced by King William the Norman, that those who possessed or cultivated urban or rural landholdings were regarded as either perpetual or temporary tenants, who receive the usufruct of the holding, while the ownership of the landholdings themselves belongs to definite landlords, and as a token of their ownership their tenants give or perform something annually, or give a pension in such a way that for a variety of reasons some temporary or permanent holdings are they are disseized by the municipal laws and the holdings revert to their original landlords, and then are by them bestowed on other tenants. This kind of holding is called a copyhold. But if the possessions are freeholds, then they lack this servitude and only the pension of such a holding rightfully belongs to the landlord. Therefore the king, since he was the principal landlord of very many holdings, and was not unaware that charters or deeds which they call evidences or copies were lost or destroyed, partly because of time’s passages, and partly because of the damage of wars, commanded by public edict that all possessors of landholdings should show by what right or title they held, sold, or bought them. What an outcry, what irate minds! With what hatred the king was suddenly regarded! Some commoners, not daring oppose themselves to royal commands, maintained their right of possession by what arguments they had, but these claims were not admitted because they were undocumented. So there was much debate about this matter, until John de Warrene Earl of Surrey, a man among men and a friend of the people, seeing that the king was spreading his net to gather in his prey, and that there was not a man who would cry out in opposition, decided he must intercede to stop such a harsh law. Therefore, haled before the magistrates they call justicers, he made his appearance, and, asked by what right he possessed his holdings, he drew his sword, saying, “This is the right by which I possess my ancestral holdings, and with this I shall also defend it.” Some historians (and this is not at odds with the truth) say that in a fight the earl killed one of the magistrates, named Alan. And when the king learned of his action, and that he was being ill-treated in all men’s conversations, he feared lest dissension would arise and abandoned his enterprise. And so this entire thing, which would have harmed by everybody, was concluded by one man’s presence of mind. In the same year died Walter Archbishop of York, who was succeeded by William Wickwane, who is counted as the thirty-seventh archbishop. In the selfsame year John Archbishop of Canterbury convened a synod of the clergy and wonderfully strengthened religion. In the following year the king, annoyed that his agrarian trick had not gone to his satisfaction, tried another way. He convened a parliament at Westminster in London, in which he first of all demanded money from the people, which nobody denied him, so that no man might be deemed ungrateful for his having quashed the landholding law. Then many things of benefit to the commonwealth were enacted, including this, that if any priest convicted of theft or any other capital crime would be handed over to his bishop in such a way that the bishop could not let him go before he had duly cleared himself of the guilt. But subsequently the responsibility of keeping condemned priests in custody was given bishops, of such a kind as I will describe elsewhere at the suitable place. Finally, the privileges, liberties and immunities granted by Edward’s father Henry III were renewed, confirmed, and endorsed for that league of German merchants called in German the Hansa, which that league had requested in exchange for an immense sum.
3. While these things were happening at home, behold, David, whom, as I have shown, fear (which rarely teaches long-lasting loyalty) had joined to the King of England, secretly defected from Edward to his brother Lewellyn Prince of Wales, and both joined arms to wage war on the nearby English. When the king learned of this, he was irate that both Lewellyn and David were heedless of the kindness he has shown them and had broken their oaths, and he decided the insults of these traitors could no longer be tolerated. So he held a levy of soldiers, gathered an army, and straightway headed for Wales to avenge the crime. Some, however, say that he sent John Archbishop of Canterbury before him, who tried to keep them in their allegiance with his goodly advice and reminders of the benefits they had received, and when they scorned his wholesome admonitions, they were excommunicated. But there was need for such ferocity to be subdued by arms, not words, so I do not think we should agree with those writers. Meanwhile the Welsh, having captured some castles, wasted everything with steel and fire, sparing neither sex nor age. But when they realized the king was approaching, not taking this lightly, in their habitual way they fled and hid themselves on Mt. Snowden, the highest and craggiest mountain they have, towards the north. The King, coming into Wales, knew that they had disappeared into the mountains with all their forces, and so he encamped no great distance from them. On the following day he led his horsemen out of camp, and filled all the flatland surrounding the roots of the mountain to the east and south, and he concealed his footmen, stationing hem a little distant from that place, higher up. Then he challenged the Welsh to a fight. When he saw they refused to come down to the flatland, to block every avenue of approach he first occupied the Isle of Anglesey, a traditional refuge for the Welsh. Then, lashing together some small ships, he made a bridge over the river Avon, into which discharges the stream which arises in the roots of those mountains, so that the enemy could not encamp across the river. Some write this bridge was made hard by a bay of the ocean called Regyd, from where one could sail to that island. And at that very moment in time, before the bridge had been planked, some young Englishmen were walking along the beach for recreation, and in their enthusiasm for walking they went a good deal farther than they thought. And because of a sudden attack by the Welsh while the sea was rising, some were killed by spears and arrows, while others were drowned. Because of the outcome of that adventure the Welshmen’s spirits were wonderfully improved, since they regarded this as an act of divine intervention. And, thinking of the ancient predictions of their prophets (on which they had frequently relied in the past, and had been deceived), they imagined the day had now come when their prince would rule England. Therefore Lewellyn was led to hope for success, and, leaving behind his brother David to guard the mountains, he himself descended with the nearest flatland with a choice band of young men. He was immediately confronted by Edmund Mortimer and a troop of soldiers. Here both sides joined battle, which hung in the balance for more than three hours, until Lewellyn died while fighting. Then, learning of their prince’s death, the Welsh fled, having lost about a third of their number. Having routed the enemy, the victorious Edmund brought Lewellyn’s head to the king, who was then at Caernarvan. Subsequently it was carried to London and fixed on a stake atop the Tower, where it long remained as a sign and token of the punishment meted out to seditious men. Some historians say that Lewellyn was not killed in battle, but that, when his men were attempting to break the bridge and were often being repelled by the English, he ran up to help, and when the enemy had scattered the fleeing Welsh in every direction, he chanced to receive a wound and then was recognized by his murderer Stephen Sward, who then beheaded him. But it does not matter at all where he died. Edward received the news of this victory and immediately moved his camp, and to pursue the enemy he sent his soldiers in all directions to block all the roads coming out of the mountains. He himself went up into them with the remainder of his army. When the Welshmen realized they were pent up in the mountains, they were panic-stricken like so many beasts, and each man scurried to hide himself in the thickest forests or in caves. Partly they went into the steep places, and partly they ran into the enemy and were either killed or captured. Among these was Lewellyn’s brother David, with many other partners in his faction, who not long thereafter paid the price with his head at Shrewsbury. Having thus conquered the Welshmen of the mountains, the king went on to subdue the rest who dwelt in the west and south. He gathered together all the soldiers whom I have said to have occupied the roads, and these had done great slaughter, killing more than 3,000 men. After the whole province had been pacified, Edward appointed as its governor Robert Torbiscus, a man of singular virtue, and, having left a sufficient garrison, he went back to London. And so Wales was conquered once more, in about the eighth year of Edward’s reign. Meanwhile he lingered at Gloucester and convened a parliament there, in which certain things concerning the state of the realm were decreed with are still in use, being laws full of equity. Then, since peace had been obtained, for three entire years nothing occurred of which I have to write.
4. After these things came a year which was the eleventh of Edward’s reign, and the year of human salvation 1294, notable for the death of Edward’s son Alfonso and the birth of his son Edward, and there were various prodigies. At the beginning of the year the air became very heavy, and then ensued the worst drought in human memory, so much so that it killed nearly all the crops. Finally there came great rains that beat down the grain, and so a famine spread throughout the realm that endured down to Edward’s death. In the selfsame year died William Archbishop of York, after he had sat for six years, and he was succeeded by John Roman, a man most distinguished for his learning and integrity of life. About this time William Marton, Lord Chancellor of England, realizing that great profit and delight comes only from learning, and so that he might provide this for his fellow citizens, founded at Oxford a college for those who pursue the goodly arts and endowed it with landholdings. Today it is called Merton College, and from it, as from a lavish fountain, pours forth a steady river of the goodly arts. And after dedicating such a work to the Muses, Marton was made Bishop of Rochester, a man worthy, to be sure, to have such a responsibility entrusted to him, although a responsibility requiring much care and diligence. In those days a rumor spread that Bordeaux, by far the strongest city of all Aquitaine, had entered into secret counsels with the King of France, that it would expel the English and admit his garrison. But before they could put this plan into effect, Edward, immediately hearing of it, crossed the sea and made his appearance with a large army. He executed the men responsible for this conspiracy and purged the city of men he held in suspicion. This business done, while he was free to attend to other matters with the help of his Privy Council, he fell into bad health, by which he was afflicted for a long time thereafter.
5. Meanwhile Christendom was thrown into great turmoil by discord between two kings, and this gave Edward the opportunity to avenge the murder of his cousin Henry, his greatest desire. For Pope Martin, at the instigation of King Charles of Sicily, cursed John Palaeologue, the Greek Emperor, for troubling Christendom. He, angered by this reproach, joined in league with King Pedro of Aragon, who was seeking to gain the kingdom of Sicily, rightfully his as the dowry of his wife Constantia, the daughter of Manfred, who had been deprived of life and kingdom by Charles. And John pledged his zeal, counsel, influence, wealth, and resources would be at Pedro’s disposal. Supported by this new friendship, Pedro dealt with Giovanni da Procida, a man of supreme authority, virtue, and nobility among the Sicilians, that in a single movement throughout Sicily all the French would be butchered at the same time, because they could no longer tolerate the arrogance of that nation. Hence that proverbial Sicilian Vespers, which we nowadays use to designate a sudden massacre. Learning of the Sicilians’ defection, Charles crossed to the island with a large army and besieged the city of Messana. Likewise the King of Aragon, when he heard that what he was anticipating had been done, hastened to Sicily and was hailed by all as their king upon his entry. Thoroughly frightened by this shift of opinion, Charles returned to Italy to await the reinforcements he had summoned from France. Meanwhile the kings hurled insults back and forth by means of messengers and letters, and invited each other to a single combat, so that in single fight they could determine who would live and who would reign. With Edward’s agreement they chose Bordeaux as the place, where they would come with a hundred chosen knights apiece. But the Pope forbade the battle. Then Pedro sent a fleet to Naples under the leadership of Rodrigo Loria, a stout fellow, and he fought a battle against Charles’ son Charles, came off the victor, and sent the young man, captured and promptly consigned to chains, to Spain. Lamenting Charles’ misfortune, the Pope denounced Pedro as impious. King Charles appeared a little later and, having raised the morale of the citizens of Naples, he crossed over to Africa, where he died. Amidst these things King Philippe of France besieged Girona, a city of Aragon. Pedro came to confront him, received a wound in the fight, and died soon thereafter. And also the French king, having gained Girona, was killed by a fever. But that deadly war was not ended by the death of these three kings, but rather it was continued much more bitterly by their successors. For their father Pedro designated his son Ferdinand King of Aragon and son Jaime King of Sicily, and they were vigorously seeking to advance their causes when Naples was taken by Roger, who had brought a fleet from the south of France to the coast of Tuscany, and had accepted Guy de Montfort, Count of Nola, as his ally. And Robert of Artois, the younger Charles’ governor of Sicily, occupied the city of Catania. After these things, partly by command of Pope Nicholas, the successor of Martin II, and partly by the authority of King Edward, the agreed on a treaty on these conditions, that Charles would be released from bondage and at his own expenses would make Pedro’s son Jaime King of Sicily. And, should he not perform this within three years, he promised he would return himself to imprisonment, giving to Jaime as hostages his two sons Robert and Louis, flourishing and noble young men. Likewise Rodrigo Loria released the noble Frenchmen captives of the French fleet, redeemed by their kinsmen. But he could by no prayers or payment of money be induced to let go Count Guy of Nola, he who, as I have said, had killed Edward’s cousin Henry at Viterbo. Rather, to ingratiate himself with the King of England, he kept him in custody, where he was killed. And so Guy paid Edward the penalty for that murder, and at length with his deserved death made atonement to the altar he had polluted with innocent blood. Now I return to my subject.
6. The annals say that for the sake of bringing about peace King Edward went to Aragon, since he was related to both kings. The peace made, he returned safely to England, when Philippe the Fair was made King of France after his father Philippe had died in Spain, as I have shown. Meanwhile the Welshmen, hating peace and their present good fortune, and thinking nothing to be feared for the sake of liberty, chose as their prince Rhys ap Maredudd, a man of supreme audacity and a kinsman of Lewellyn. He called together his clansmen and easily inflamed them, since they, like the rest, were constantly running to arms. Then in the countryside he conducted a levy of paupers and wastrels and, having scraped together no mean band, incited, solicited, and urged whoever he met, reminding them of the many reasons why they should cast the English yoke from off their necks and quickly take up arms to defend their liberty. And so, having collected large forces, he attacked the English, and either expelled or slaughtered the garrisons of towns and the less well-defended castles. He did this with such success that it appeared he would destroy all the English and gain the province, if Robert the governor had not used speed and ready counsel. For he, observing that his adversaries’ forces were daily increasing, decided it was not expedient for him to keep himself in one place until he had readied new soldiers and fortified places. And so, heedless of every danger, he left his places unguarded, collected all his English soldiers, and marched against his enemies, coming in square formation to the town of Abergavenney, in which his enemies were gathered. When ap Maredudd became aware that the English had arrived, and that they were far inferior in numbers and could expect no reinforcements now, he decided battle should be joined on the spot, and, wonderfully overjoyed, addressed his soldiers: “Now you see that our enemies, whom we greatly excel in strength and numbers, have rashly fallen into our hands. And I think this done by divine aid, so that we may avenge the death of our Prince Lewellyn and the others whom that treacherous nation has cruelly slaughtered, in despite of the law of war. How I feared lest Robert, an otherwise cautious man, would keep himself in some fortified place until help was sent by Edward! But behold, now he is throwing himself and his men against our swords. And so ready your arms now with good cheer, fiercely attack your enemy as you hasten towards plunder and glory.” When he had spoken these words, each man rushed against the approaching English, and the more the Welsh pressed, the more the English battle-line dug in its heels and resisted. In the end, seeing their enemy exhausted, they made an onrush and broke through the Welsh center. The Welshmen, unexpectedly driven back, dared neither to flee nor to fight, and fell on every side. Ap Maredudd was captured, and almost all the rest killed. The number of the slain was about 4,000. And so the Welshmen paid the deserved price for their mutiny. Ap Maredudd himself was taken to York, where by decision of the Privy Council he was beheaded. This victory gave incredible joy to Edward, who, before these things had occurred, held a parliament at Westminster, when about to depart for Bordeaux, in the thirteenth year of his reign. In that parliament laws were given the people, including many statues of great usefulness for the commonwealth. And likewise provision was taken for the state of the realm. These things having been settled, as I have said, the king went to France, and spent nearly three years in Aquitaine before he returned to England. This was the sixteenth year of his realm, the year of human salvation 1289.
7. In the following year a parliament was held at Westminster, in which the first order of business was the expulsion of the Jews, of whom there was a great multitude throughout England, so that the sheep might be separated from the goats. It was therefore ordained by public edict that within a few days they all depart with their goods. They obeyed parliament’s decree and went their separate ways. Thus that wandering nation left England forever, always wretchedly obliged to seek another land until it is finally destroyed. This would inflict less sorrow on men, if only they leave their literature behind them, without which I scarcely know how we can preserve our sacred life for the future. In the same parliament Edward revealed that he desired to bring help to our men in Asia and, since this was a matter pertaining to religion, he wanted priests to supply money, which they gave openhandedly. And after he received that money, domestic affairs took precedence over the intended war. Finally the king and nobles wished to embody in law that which was already established by chapter 37 of Magna Charta, which I mentioned in my preceding Book, that is, that that no man should be permitted to give landholdings to colleges of monks. For it was added that it should also be impermissible for monks or other members of the clergy to purchase possessions, so that such possessions might not become part of the endowments of monasteries or other church establishments. And they called this the law of mortmain, that things once given to colleges of priests should not be resold, as if they were dead, i. e., their use for other men was to be taken away forever. This law is carefully observed in such a way no holdings are given to the clergy by any man without royal permission.
8. In the same year died Alexander King of Scots, a man of singular virtue, who broke his neck when his horse fell. He left no surviving male issue, that which soon was the cause of many quarrels and deaths for the Scots themselves as well as the English. Alexander had been married to Henry’s daughter Margaret, as I have shown above in his life, by whom he fathered a son named Alexander, and a daughter he named Margaret after his mother. Alexander departed this life before his father, and Margaret married the King of Norway. Then, when Queen Margaret died, King Alexander married a daughter of Count Guy of Flanders for the sake of providing for his posterity. But by her he had no issue, and therefore could by no counsel avoid the final fate of his family. But by the his daughter whom I have said to have married the King of Norway was born a daughter, Margaret, who died before she was nubile, and with her Alexander’s line came to an end. Therefore on Alexander’s death the Scots were very anxious about whom to choose for their king, and, fearing that amidst these debates it would not come to violence, they sent ambassadors to Edward asking him to choose them a sovereign. Edward gladly gave the ambassadors an audience, and promised that he would not only not impede them, but that he would do his best to see that there was no violence in their creation of a king. Receiving this response, the ambassadors departed for Scotland and carefully described their embassy. When reported by the ambassadors, Edward’s undertaking was welcome to the Scots nobility, and, since traditional popular parliaments were being held and they begun debating about a common counsel, ambassadors were sent once more to Edward who gave him the power to choose a new king. The king, understanding their enthusiasm, convened a parliament, so as to discuss the matter promptly with his subjects before giving the ambassadors his response. Meanwhile in Scotland there was great contention for the throne between John Baliol, Robert Bruce, and John Hastings. For they derived their pedigree from David, brother of the one-time William King of Scots, since David’s three daughters had married into their families. And so the Scots nobility was divided. Some favored John Baliol, who derived his origin from David’s eldest daughter, but others Robert Bruce, who boasted of descent from his second daughter. Very few cast their votes for John Hastings, because he could only trace his lineage to David’s third and youngest daughter. But, to begin at the beginning, I shall briefly set forth David’s pedigree. By his wife Matilda, the daughter of Earl Ralph of Chester, he fathered a son, John, who died childless, and four daughters, Margaret, Matilda, Isabelle, and Alda. His first daughter Margaret married Alan of Galloway, who by her fathered two daughters, the elder of whom, named Dervogilla, was married to John Baliol, the father of that John Baliol was the first rival for the throne of Scotland. The second daughter, Mathilda, died unmarried. Isabelle, the third, married Robert Bruce, who had a son by her, Robert, the father of the second rival for the throne. The fourth, Alda, was married to Henry Hastings, who fathered by her a son, John, the father of the third rival. Here, although it was clear enough to whom the heredity should come, the matter nevertheless hung in doubt, since it is human nature for every man to aspire to a crown and to believe it the height of glory to command others. But now let my narrative begin where it left off. After discussing the Scottish matter with his nobles in parliament, King Edward replied to the ambassadors that he would preserve liberty and the commonwealth for both the people of Scotland and England by his own effort, counsel, and patronage. But since there was an interregnum, he particularly wished that the Scottish nobility would swear homage to him as the lord of Scotland and surrenderr all their castles into his power, and then he would devote himself to the choosing of a king. The ambassadors received this response and diligently reported Edward’s injunctions to the lords. And although they thought this request seemed harsh and unjust, that the King of England should style himself, not the umpire for the creation of a king, but rather the lord of Scotland, nevertheless, since they dissented among themselves, they obliged the king. This done, Edward went to York, where the Scots lords arrived not long thereafter. Here, after a long discussion, by the king’s decision eighty men were chosen, grave of years and most excellent in their wisdom, among whom were thirty Englishmen, and to them was given the power to choose a king. After they had ascertained to whom the throne of Scotland rightfully belonged, they unanimously pronounced Robert Baliol king. Edward approved their verdict, and by his authority confirmed John in his possession of the kingdom of Scotland. Thus made king, John first swore homage to Edward, then returned to Scotland on the very same day that is sacred to St. Andrew, the highest holiday among that nation, and was crowned amidst public joy. To gain greater favor form the English, he built an excellent hall at Oxford, in which he placed a college of students, endowed it with landholdings, and named it Baliol College after himself. But King John did not long remain in Edward’s good graces, for these were feigned. And, following the custom of his ancestors, at the first moment possible he embraced the friendship of the French and gradually became alienated from the English king, as will be told at the proper place below.
9. Amidst these dealings came the nineteenth year of Edward’s reign, the year of human salvation 1293, when John Archbishop of Canterbury died, having occupied his see for thirteen years. He was succeeded by Robert Winchelsey, the forty-eighth archbishop. And the king bestowed his three daughters in marriage. For he gave his first, Eleanor, to Henry or Eric (for I find both names written), Duke de Barry, his second, Margaret, to Duke John of Brabant, and his third, Joan, to Earl Gilbert of Gloucester. And thus Edward bound to himself by kinship three great and powerful men, who afterwards were often of great service to him. In this same year a great war between the Kings of England and France had its beginning. For the sake of protecting Aquitaine, Edward sent six outfitted ships to Bordeaux. Two of these were borne along the coast of Normandy, fearing nothing hostile, and were captured by a Norman fleet, a goodly part of their crews being hanged. Learning of this, Robert Tiptoft, the Admiral of England, gathered a great number of ships and sailed for Normandy. He sent ahead some boats for scouting, who encountered no ships on the sea. In his wrath he made a surprise attack on the mouth of the Seine, sacked it, killed many sailors, and cut out six ships. Then he stood out to sea a little and rode at anchor, to provoke the French to a sea-fight. For, besides the fact that the English were superior in the number and strength of their ships, they knew they were fighting against an enemy whom, as they hoped, an angry God would punish for breaking the treaty. And behold, there appeared some Norman ships returning from Gascony laden with wine. Robert attacked and easily captured them, killed about a third of their sailors, and sent them to England. Then the French king, bent on avenging the damage he had suffered in the port, energetically outfitted a fleet, and when he had filled with soldiers and the other things needful for sailing, he brought it out to sea, not far from the English fleet. During these events messengers shuttled to and fro, those of the one side looking for punishments for broken faith, the other seeking restitution for their lost goods. And now, although this tumult between the English and Normans had erupted rashly, unbidden by either king, so that they were less offended and more inclined to restoring the peace, Count Charles of Valois, King Philippe’s brother, a man harsh by nature and thirsty for revenge, urged his brother to retaliation. And so they went to war. Therefore the French fleet, eager for a confrontation, made sail for the English. And they, not shirking a fight, keenly joined the fray. From the beginning the battle was doubtful, and the slaughter much worse, as only to be expected in a battle of strong fleets. The fighting was protracted, until the French fleet was routed. Neither the annals nor the writers I am following give the number of lost ships, but all record that a great setback was suffered. Informed of this reversal, Philippe was deeply disturbed and first of all, under a pretext of upholding the law he appointed a day for Edward to appear before him in his capacity as beneficiary of Aquitaine and Ponthieu. Then, since he was sure that Edward would not make an appearance, since it would not be safe for him to come to Paris, where he had been summoned by the judges, he prepared his army. Meanwhile Edward sent his brother Edmund to Paris to plead his cause before the judges. But the judges, who preferred to search for the knot in the smooth reed (as the saying goes) rather than hear this case, did not admit Edmund’s arguments in behalf of his brother, pronounced Edward to be contumacious (i. e., recalcitrant and disobedient to the magistrates’ edicts), and ruled that he had forfeited all right to Aquitaine. These things done, the French king sent ahead secret messengers to Bordeaux to solicit the city, and ordered Arnulph Nella, his Master of Horse, to follow him with a fairly large army. When he arrived there, he took Bordeaux, already on the verge of surrender, and then received the neighboring peoples into his allegiance, partly in imitation of the example set by the principal city of Aquitaine, and partly induced by largesse. And the English, learning of the people’s alienation, which happened unexpectedly and most inconveniently, suddenly retreated to the coastal towns, and especially fled to Rioms and quickly fortified the town. After having lost a goodly part of Aquitaine and in view of the magnitude of the danger, Edward convened a parliament of nobles at Westminster, and extracted a great sum of money from the people for this war against the French king, and then he assembled a large army and readied himself for the expedition.
10. While these things were being managed by Edward, the Welsh were incessantly searching for a time and opportunity to rebel, and when they heard of the defection of the citizens of Aquitaine, they regarded this as a suitable occasion for inflicting on the preoccupied king punishment for the pain his severity had previously inflicted on them. And so they suddenly rose up against the English who held the region and butchered them everywhere. The English, thrown into confusion by this sudden misfortune, snatched up what arms they could, but when the rustic Welsh came running to the hubbub, they were compelled to retreat to their castles. Seeing this, Robert the governor sent messengers to Edward informing him of what had transpired and asking for aid. The king, hearing this and very annoyed, was afflicted by a double concern. For he itched to go over to France to recover what he had lost, yet for the moment, with this rebellion raised at home, he feared lest this evil spread more widely it he himself were absent. So for a while he was on tenterhooks, anxious and doubtful what he should do. In the end, at the urging of his Privy Council he decided he had to confront this domestic plague while sending his captains into Aquitaine to bring aid to his subjects. Therefore he sent to Aquitaine John de Bretagne, a man of great counsel and virtue, with a band of picked soldiers, and Robert Tipstoft, his Admiral, with a large number of ships, while he himself marched against the Walsh and subdued them upon his first coming. And his other army, arriving in France, threw such a fright into the French that they took to their heels in all directions, retiring within their strongholds. But some were captured or killed in their flight. Having defeated their enemy, the English took some towns by storm, but made bad use of their victory. Indulging in disorderly plundering they rashly poured over the countryside, which was their downfall. For Charles, sent by his brother Philippe with a strong army, suddenly appeared and stripped the roving Englishmen of their booty, and even killed a part of them. The fearful multitude that survived the slaughter was driven back to the seacoast or to the fleet. The captains of the army, John St. John and the other John, after they had rounded up their straggling men, sent two regiments to Pontoise to protect the place. And they sent the like number to St. Severe to reinforce the town with a garrison, while they themselves went to Riom to build fortifications. Learning of this, lest time for increasing their forces be granted to their enemies, Charles assigned Arnulph Nella, under whose leadership they had gained Bordeaux, the task of besieging Pontoise, while he personally hurried to Riom. Arriving there, he immediately threw a siege around the place and attacked it vigorously. For their part, the English and the Gascons put up an energetic defense and made a sally. But (as it happens in war) these few were easily thrust back by the multitude. While the fight went on at Riom in this manner, Arnulph stormed Pontoise and, having achieved this success, returned to Charles. Joining forces, they threw themselves into the siege of Riom with might and main. Although terrified, the English and the Gascons put up a resistance, and for a while opposed their enemies’ endeavors with equal confidence, at the same hurling missiles and stones on them. But in the end, when they saw they could defend the place no longer and had no hope of aid, in the middle of the night they departed and fled to the ships. But they all could not accomplish this in safety. For their enemies, perceiving the English flight, blocked the way and killed a handful of fugitives. But they were few in number, since all the others, learning the French had obstructed the road to the ships, made a virtue out of necessity and resisted until they fell into their enemies’ hands, the town having been captured. Winning this bloodless victory, the French spared the captive English nobles, but put the remaining English to the sword, together with the Gascons. After taking Riom, Charles went on to the beset St. Severe, a stoutly fortified town, which he gained by after a three months’ siege: its townsmen were compelled by famine to surrender, with guarantees of impunity. Having done these things with success, the victorious Charles returned to his brother Philippe. The English survivors of that army and these catastrophes, followed the two Johns their captains (whom some wrongly write to have died in these tumults) and went to Bayonne, where they kept themselves within its walls. This sad to have once been the city of the Tarbelli.
11. Receiving news of this overseas disaster, Edward was deeply troubled. First he spent a great deal of money on making King Adolf of Germany his ally for this war and entering into a league with him. Then for the aid of his subjects in Aquitaine he sent Hugh de Vere, Earl of Oxford, who took back St. Severe on his first arrival. Because of these constant wars the royal treasury was now empty, and his Treasurer William March, more than anyone else, thought that the damage of his indebtedness needed to be repaired. Aware that money was deposited both in monasteries and in churches, he thought that if he were to order this to be produced he would be committing no crime, but rather doing something worthwhile in putting this money into circulation for the good of the people, just as if everything were common property. Thus he could supply money to pay soldiers and address the present need. Therefore the military commanders to whom he gave the responsibility for committing this sacrilege stationed soldiers throughout the realm, and at one fell swoop they fetched out all the money stashed in holy places and brought it to Edward, as all over the realm the people groaned because their sovereign had not thought it right to keep his hands off money which was being reserved for the repair of sacred buildings. But the king, in need of money, shrugged the thing off and, not content with that plunder, in a parliament convened not long thereafter, in order to dispel his unpopularity made excuses for this work of his money-men. He effusively indicated what countless sums he was paying for his new army, what a large war impended, what great perils he and his nobilities would daily be undergoing for the sake of the commonwealth, and since the priesthood could not do the same, they should be helping the soldiers with their money. Using these arguments, he managed to obtain one half of all clerical income for one year. But, to show his gratitude in some part to the holy fathers for all the burdens imposed on them, he promised he would make some concession of advantage to the clergy, if only they would ask. Having consulted among themselves, the bishops requested that he would quash the law of mortmain, which they had realized was greatly harmful to their order. But the king, to whom nothing was more out of the question than to satisfy the bishops on that score, responded that it was not in his power to abolish that law without the consent of those councilors by whose advice it had been instituted, and he wished the prelates to be satisfied with that very fine answer. While Edward thus filled his coffers at the expense of the clergy, the Welsh rebelled and chose as their captains for war Marcod and Morgan, men eager for sedition. They gathered a large band of soldiers and harried the English everywhere, took some places, and killed many with no discrimination of age or sex. The king sent his brother Edmund with no mean number of soldiers. When he arrived in Wales, he rashly joined battle with the enemy and was defeated. Presumably that money gained by sacrilege was the downfall of his army, for with it his army had for the most part been paid. When it was announced that Edmund had been routed by the Welshman, Edward assembled a new army and quickly hastened there. In the end he pacified the province but with no small effort. Morgan, one of their two captains, was captured when betrayed by treason, and Edward decided not to kill him, but handled him gently and let him go after only a little cuffing about. In the year in which these things were transacted, there was such a famine that many men died.
12. Now it was the twenty-first year of Edward’s reign, and the year of human salvation 1294, when a great desire to save his skin ruined the honorable name of Thomas Turbiville, a man who could never be too treacherous. One of those captured a little earlier in the storming of Riom, to regain his liberty he promised King Philip that, were he permitted to return to England, he would deal with Edward in such a way as to be made Admiral. And, if he obtained that position, he would promptly deliver the fleet into the king’s hands. Philippe liked the plan and, the deceit being arranged, dismissed Thomas, taking two of his sons as hostages. Freed, Thomas fancied he was in heaven. Without delay he returned to England and, being a man of singular virtue, he was received kindly by the king. After some days had passed, remembering this scheme, by means of his friends he sued to be made Admiral of England. The king refused, fearing lest concern for his little sons tempt Thomas into treason. Meanwhile the French king outfitted a fleet and sent it to sea, and with spread sails it steered a course for England, to provoke the English into sending out their own fleet. For several days the French fleet rode at anchor awaiting Thomas’ arrival, and when he had not appeared by the appointed day, one ship approached the coast and set ashore some men familiar with the region to discover the reason for this delay. They chanced to be captured by the English, and when they failed to answer under interrogation, they were put to death immediately. So the French commander wrathfully sailed straight for Dover with all his ships, and, landing part of his forces, sacked the town. Thrown into sudden panic, the townsmen fled far away in every direction, seeking arms, with the result that a great multitude gathered. This marched to Dover in the evening, and, attacking the Frenchmen ranging the countryside for plunder, killed them everywhere. The French admiral, who had devoted his whole day to sacking the town, heard the shouting of his men as they ran towards the shore, and immediately dashed to his ships, carrying his loot. So the other Frenchmen, who had gone out into the countryside for their looting, were killed in a trice, to the number of slightly less than eight hundred. Few of the citizens of Dover were killed, since they had speedily recovered from their flight, come back, and, joined by others, had killed the enemy. But a great number of women and children, whom the enemy did not spare, perished. Amidst this hurly-burly there a monk named Thomas, a very innocent man, was killed, and thanks to him, as if he were a martyr most acceptable in the sight of God, many miracles were subsequently witnessed. While these things were being done, Thomas Turbiville, stung by chagrin and brooding because he had failed to commit the criminal treason he had planned, thought he should attempt something else. So he solicited John King of Scots to defect from the English king to Philippe, and at the same time informed Philippe of his scheme, urging him to send an army to Scotland to wage war against the English king. Thus he, confronted with new trouble elsewhere, would not be able to come to the support of his cause in Aquitaine. But neither part of the plan went forward. Furthermore, amidst these things Thomas was denounced to Edward for treason. Tried and convicted, he was executed at London. Meanwhile Pope Boniface VIII, desiring to resolve these quarrels between the kings, which had long since grown deadly, sent two Cardinals, first to Philippe in France, and then to Edward in England. They diligently did many things to promote peace, providing arguments why both sovereigns should embrace it. But at length, when they saw that the hatred in both kings’ minds was being impelled, or rather being satisfied, by arms, they returned to Rome, their business undone. At this time the king sent his brother Edmund and Earl Henry of Lincoln to Aquitaine with a choice band of young men, and they went to Bayonne, where they wintered together with the rest of the English. In this same year died Earl Gilbert of Gloucester and John Archbishop of York, succeeded by Henry, the Dean of the same college.
13. At this time Philippe’s brother Charles betrothed his daughter to Edward, the son of John King of Scots. Supported by this, the Scottish king formed a league with his French brother. Rendered haughty by this new kinship and partnership in war, at Philippe’s behest John began secret preparations for war against the English king. And so things were in motion, which boded that great peril would hang over the head either of the King of Scots or the English king. But nothing influenced King John other than his patriotism. For he was a Frenchman by birth, and lord of Harcourt, not the least significant part in Normandy, which Philippe de Valois subsequently made a count’s domain. For this reason, therefore, John was heedless of his oath given to the English king, and, in accordance with Scottish custom, unhesitatingly joined himself to his friend King Philippe. In Aquitaine, Edmund moved from Bayonne at the start of springtime and marched to the territory of Bordeaux, pitching camp alongside the city. Every day he offered battle to the Frenchmen of the garrison there. And they, seeing their enemy rashly (as they thought) coming near the wall, suddenly flung open the gates and made a mad dash against them. The English led the pursuing Frenchmen far from the city by feigning flight, and gradually enticed them to a place they had previously prepared for an ambush. This accomplished, they suddenly wheeled around and slaughtered their enemy, and, pursuing them as they fled towards the city, came close to killing them all. More than 3,000 men fell. The townsmen, taking back some of their own men within the walls, shut their gates against the English. Thus fended off by the townsmen, first the English sacked the suburbs, then set them afire. Afterwards some burghers of Bordeaux secretly dealt with Edmund about turning the city over to him. But this led to nothing, since they were caught red-handed and executed before they could perform what they had undertaken to do. Finding this out, Edmund decided he could waste no time, for he lacked the siege-engines requisite for storming the city. Therefore he went back to Bayonne, where a little later he died of disease. He left three sons, Earl Thomas of Lancaster, Henry, and John, whom he had by Blanche, formerly the wife of King Henry de Champaign, King of Navarre, by whom she had borne a single daughter named Joan, married to Philippe the Fair. After Edward’s death the English fortified their places as quickly as they could, and collected provisions from all over so they could more safely protect themselves from the enemy. Meanwhile Count Robert of Artois appeared bringing help to the citizens of Bordeaux. Learning of Edmund’s death, he led his forces against the English and exhausted them everywhere. In the meantime Edward, scarcely asleep over his affairs, had drawn Count Guy of Flanders and Duke Henri de Barry, on whom he had bestowed his daughter Eleanor not long before, into a league against the King of France. This Guy was born of Margarete, whom Thomas (whom I have mentioned above) had for his wife, and Guillaume de Dampierre, a Burgundian, and a little while previously he had succeeded Guillaume his brother, who had died childless. Therefore at the same time with their inroads the duke harried Champagne, and the count the territory of Flanders. Learning of these things, first Philippe sent Gualtere de Crécy with great forces to besiege Barry, and he began to besiege the town in such away that he compelled Henri to return home out of necessity. Then he himself hurried into Flanders with a great number of both foot and horse and encamped near Lille, and not long thereafter took by storm both the town and its castle. And at the same time Philippe’s brother Charles arrived from Aquitaine with a great force of soldiers, and with a great army Guy encountered him near Furnes. Here a battle was joined which long hung in the balance. In the end the French got the upper hand and Guy fled to Bergen. Meanwhile Edward crossed over to Flanders, and since a little earlier he had learned that the King of Scots was siding with King Philippe and had formed a new alliance, when he came to Ghent he brought it about that the French king, who was storm-tossed by events and prevented from fighting by the time of year, now preferred peace to war, took the lead in making a truce with him, which was arranged for the space of two years.
14. Having concluded this affair, King Edward returned to England, made preparations for war, and sent ambassadors to Scotland to announce King John’s day in court, issuing him a summons that he must appear at Newcastle prior to a certain day to plead his cause for violating his oath, and to instruct him that it was vain to hope he could act contrary to that Gospel verse, No man can serve two masters, since to whatever extent he entered into the French king’s good graces, to that same extent he would earn the hatred of the King of England, and so it would serve his very best interest to gratify Edward. Departing with these mandates, the ambassadors performed their duty with diligence. But the King of Scots was so far from giving a response calculated to appease these hostilities, that soon thereafter he sent Edward a letter full of complaints. Amidst these things Robert Bruce, who held a castle alongside the river Tweed called Werk, went over to the King of Scots. Learning this, his brother William, loyal to the English, asked Edward’s help in fortifying the castle, and he was sent one hundred soldiers. Robert attacked these while on thee road, killing them to a man. When Edward heard the news of this, his grief at the loss of his subjects was balanced by the consideration that the Scottish king had taken the lead in beginning the war. He therefore hastened to York, where he held a parliament in which he first declared war on Scotland, and then took back Huntingtonshire from the King of Scots (which Henry had a little earlier restored to King Alexander his father-in-law, as recounted in my preceding Book) on the grounds that he was an ingrate. Finally he imposed a tax. Having thus extracted a great amount of money from his people the king headed for Scotland with 4,000 horse, 30,000 foot, and a great number of Welsh and Irish auxiliaries. And, since he expected the war to be protracted, so that his people would be present in greater number to counter Scottish movements and his nobles would be at hand for consultation when strategy needed to be discussed, he commanded his Lord Chancellor, judges, and officials of the treasury to come to York and hold their usual assizes and trials there. Meanwhile the Scots, to keep the approaching English out of their territory, invaded the English countryside and, plundering everywhere, besieged Carlisle. And by an unheard-of incident they burned it. For a Scots spy who had been arrested and was in prison, when he heard of the arrival of his fellow-countrymen, killed himself and set the city afire, and afterwards a wind blew the fire through nearly all its suburbs. When they became aware that Edward was approaching with his army, they suddenly abandoned their siege and withdrew within their borders. Learning of their flight, the king hastened to besiege the town of Berwick. Encamping nearby, he gave the townsmen one day to deliberate about surrender. And right when this time expired, a fleet of twenty-four ships appeared off the shore. At sunrise the English caught sight of the royal army and, thinking a fight to be impending, they brought four ships in close to shore, landed, and fought with the inhabitants, but they were overwhelmed by the multitude of rustics and killed to a man. Receiving this setback, the angry king drew nearer the town, which the burghers handed over upon a pledge of personal safety. William Douglas, governor of the castle, did the same. Edward capitalized on this victory by taking from the Scots the castle of Dunbar and the town of Roxburgh, and gained control of the entire region surrounding Berwick in all directions. These operations consumed nearly the whole year, which was the twenty-third of his reign and the year of human salvation 1296.
15. At this time the truce had expired and two battles were fought between the French and the Flemish. The French won the first, and gained power over Count guy and his sons Robert and Guilleaume. Then a rebellion broke out and he suffered a great reversal. Fighting also broke out in Aquitaine. For when the French attempted to besiege Bayonne, in part the English within launched a sally, and in part those who had wintered elsewhere, aroused by rumor of their enemies’ arrival, came running and began a great battle. They fought until night, which broke off the combat, many being killed on both sides. The number captured by both sides was nearly equal. John, one of the army’s captains, was taken captive in that battle. But the other, Earl Henry of Lincoln, fled at its beginning, and this put an end to the victory they had in their grasp. After the battle Robert of Artois, the governor of Aquitaine, went to winter at Bordeaux with his French forces, and John de Bretagne, the third English captain, led his forces back into winter quarters at Bayonne. And, since in the interim the truce between Edward and Philippe had been renewed, after the winter a goodly part of the army returned to England, and after the truce had been made the kings exchanged captives. Edward, after confiscating all the goods of belonging to Scotsmen in England, and garrisoning the towns he had taken from the enemy, retired to York, intending to remain there until he could draw the King of Scots into a battle. And his expectation was not wrong. For the Scots, learning of Edward’s departure, immediately turned the neighboring countryside into vast wastelands with their sudden incursions, and with the same greed for plunder the invaded Northumbria, ravaging far and wide. When these movements were reported to Edward, he immediately sent against the enemy John St. John, who had recently been freed along with the other captives released by the King of France, together with a band of very sturdy young fellows. Although the Scots were suddenly surrounded, yet they did not delay the battle and joined in the fight. Both sides fought keenly for a little while, and then in the end the fearful Scots turned tail and were cut down everywhere. They say that 10,000 Scotsmen died that day, not counting the captives, of whom there were a goodly number. The survivors of the slaughter retired to Scotland with difficulty, having suffering many wounds. In order to make good use of his victory, and at length subdue or destroy his enemy, himself invaded Scotland within a few days and headed straight for Edinburgh, its capital. Suddenly drawing a wall around it, he besieged it and captured it on the eighth day of his assault, the burgers being granted their lives. This business having been satisfactorily completed, he flew to St. Johns (formerly called Perth), an excellently fortified town on the bank of the river Tay, and took it. While he stayed here, he daily sent out horsemen in every direction both to see if any enemy were coming against him, and for the sake of spreading terror. Meanwhile John King of Scots, now abandoning any hope of victory, sent him messengers concerning peace. After Edward had given them a very kind hearing, he replied that by no means would he offer peace to an enemy who was already defeated, but out of the goodness of his heart he would spare his life, if only King John would yield himself. When the Scottish king heard this, it is wonderful to tell how suddenly he was dumbstruck and downcast, partly because he said it was most miserable and bitter to give himself into the power of Edward, whom he regarded as his enemy, and partly because he saw his catastrophe was linked to that of his nation. And yet he was bereft of all hope of preserving his dignity, and to save his life he chose (as they say) the lesser of two evils, preferring to be shamefully stripped of his honor rather than to die a calamitous death, and so, driven by necessity, he yielded to the English King. Having conquered John in this manner, Edward strengthened all places with garrisons and immediately returned to Berwick. There he held a parliament of his nobles and reorganized the state of Scotland, making John Warenne its governor and giving him Hugh Cressingham and John Orneby as assistants, so that affairs would be managed by the counsel of a number of men, not just one. Although this organization of the state was thought to be fair, it was the cause of infinite evil. For, either because henceforth the English comported themselves slothfully, or because the Scotsmen could not long tolerate English rule out of their zeal for liberty, hatred gradually grew up, and fighting started between the two peoples, not without slaughter. After the king had commanded all the Scottish nobles who were present (and almost all of them were) to swear homage to himself, is said to have addressed them as follows: “My lords, just as I am henceforth obligated to protect the people of Scotland from all injury, and support it as if it were my own, so it is your duty to obey me and never for any reason to forget the oath by which you have just now bound yourselves to me, and I earnestly pray you do so. And so you will obtain from me all you can hope for which will pertain to your advantage, your dignity, your honor, and this hope will never deceive you.” Having done and said these things, since he estimated Scotland would be quite safe, he honorably dismissed the Welsh and Irish soldiers whom he had employed in waging that war. And a little later, leading John King of Scots, he returned victoriously to England.
16. At this same time Pope Boniface VIII, observing that Christian sovereigns were greedily and frequently imposing new taxes on clerical revenues for no good reason, and at their whim endlessly imposing tenths and twentieths on the clergy under the name of taxes, thought he needed to have a care for the immunity of the priestly order. Therefore he convened a synod at Lyon and issued an interdict that henceforth princes should impose no taxes on the clergy, nor should the clergy pay taxes, save at the bidding of the Pope. This edict is preserved at De Immunitate Ecclesiarum VI.iii, and, though it was not unreasonable, it was a cause of great discords among the English. For not long after his return from Scotland Edward convened a parliament at Bury, at the monastery of St. Edmunds, and since he was poverty-stricken, he impoosed a tax, first, on the people, and then on the clergy. The people, who could not refuse, said they would pay the required money. But the priests replied that they could not lawfully do so, because of the papal edict. The king reacted angrily to their response and ordered their goods to be confiscated and sold off, because they had refused to pay the prescribed tax. And so it came about that many of the clergy, to whose hearts nothing was dearer than peace, not wishing to suffer this inconvenience any longer, found various means of appeasing the king’s vexation. Only Robert Archbishop of Canterbury, a man of stout sprit, continued opposing his sovereign’s will after receiving many injuries and losing all his goods, and he openly preached that apostolic maxim, We ought to obey God rather than men. But the king, undeterred by the most holy prelate’s constancy, and unswayed by his wholesome admonitions, grew daily more incensed at his entire peope, harshly oppressed priests as if they were ingrates, and in one way or another did harm to those who grumbled at paying the required money. All men’s were so stirred up by these things that they could not hold their silence, either in the country side or in cities. What of the fact that no no place seemed able to tolerate such a government? But the nobles in particular cried out, whose heads were Earl Humfrey of Hereford and Earl Richard of Norfolk. For when the king commanded them to go to Aquitaine with a new transport of troops, both flatly refused to go, and so that no violence would be used against them after they had said these words, they defended themselves with a multitude of armed men and were escorted by large numbers of their friends. Immediately many other who were now openly alienated from the king imitated them, and were ready to begin a tumult. But Edward gave no indication of fear, dissimulated the thing, and prepared for his expedition to Flanders in support of the tottering fortunes of Count Guy. But, suspicious lest in his absence those two earls might stir up sedition in the name of the people, and lest many others might adhere to their party, first he took back into his good graces Robert Archbishop of Canterbury, and then a number of others he had previously offended, and commanded the archbishop himself to undertake the administration of the realm. These arrangements thus made, he left for Flanders. After the king’s departure, the earls, for whom nothing was dearer than the advantage of the people, lest they appear to do anything contrary to the requirements of reason, attempted nothing against the king by force. But they did come to London and for liberty’s sake openly discouraged and forbade the people to pay the newly-imposed tax, and the people heard them most eagerly. This thing was such a terror to the royal money-men that henceforth they did not dare collect taxes from any man.
17. Meanwhile, since John Warrene, a man now done in by old age, governed his Scottish province laxly and was not careful in its protection, and the other English did the same, thinking it save, they revived the Scots’ hopes of regaining their liberty, for they were vigilant in their own affairs. And so, most ready to burst their bonds, they entered into a conspiracy and chose as their captain William Wallace, a man most noble for the vigor of his spirits, but not likewise in his breeding or manners. He assembled a great multitude and suddenly made an unexpected attack on the English, caught them unwarily roaming over the whole land, and butchered them. The English, terrified by this sudden misfortune, took refuge in their castles, but such refuge was the salvation of only a few, for since they had been surrounded suddenly they were not given the time to flee and recover themselves. The rest who held fortified places, learning of this Scottish revolt, prepared themselves for resistance, and at the same time sent frequent messengers asking help from the king. While the Scotsmen thus raged under the leadership of Wallace, King Edward was in Flanders, where he had gone to bring relief to Count Guy, whom, as I have said above, King Philippe’s brother Charles had defeated a little previously in a singular battle not far from St. Omers. Here, when he hard the news of the Scottish rebellion, he at first did not believe the news, but then, when letters came flying to to him announcing the same thing, he ordered all his army wintering in York under the leadership of John St. John to go to Scotland and unite with the remaining forces commanded by John Warrene. John received the king’s letter, and since the matter called for speed, he immediately led his army into Scotland and, having consulted with his fellow-captain, pursued the Scotsmen. They, learning of the arrival of the English by means of spies, hid themselves in trackless valleys and impassible marshes, to avoid the enemy’s onslaught. When they perceived they were approaching, by messengers they pretended to sue the English for peace, as if despairing for their safety, threw up their hands, and offered hostages. But in truth they were devising an ambush. Therefore, to create greater belief, some promptly deserted to the English, who misled the English in his way until they were crossing the bridge at Stirling, which crosses the river Forth, and concealed themselves in ambush at a suitable place. Then, after the English realized they had been deceived by their enemy, who had exhausted them under the pretext of making a surrender, they were angry and rashly commenced crossing the bridge. And now a goodly portion were across, while the Scots, under arms, observed their crossing. The signal was given, and the burst forth from all directions and surrounded their enemy. It was a most wretched sight to see the English who had passed over the bridge being slaughtered by a multitude of their enemy, or approaching the clogged banks of the river and falling into the water, while those on the other side could not come to their aid because of the narrowness of the bridge. The Scots tried with all their might to capture the bridge, so that when it was gained they could destroy the remaining enemy. On their side the English, who realized that if they were to lose the bridge it would be all over for them, likewise struggled might and main to retain it. On the bridge itself the cruelest slaughter was committed by both sides, and eventually the English on the other side broke it, and in this way the other part of that army defended itself from enemy assault. No man who had crossed the bridge survived the massacre. Tradition has it that about 6,000 English died that day. Among these was Hugh Cressingham, and they say that to make his death more painful he was skinned alive. After this catastrophe the English, realizing that without reinforcements they could scarcely resist the their enemy, went back to Yorkshire. And because they were afraid, first they drew themselves up in battle order, and then they marched arranged in such a way that, should they be confronted with the necessity of fighting while on their way, they could meet this sudden eventuality with their army in fighting array. Before they came to Berwick, since they were preceded by the rumor of a greater slaughter than had actually occurred, those who held the town had abandoned it and retired into Northumbria. So, not unreasonably, this threw the English returning from Scotland into a panic, for they imagined the enemy had arrived here first by another route, so that after marching a little beyond the town they broke ranks and each man ran off in his own direction. And this stampede so terrified the locals that they constantly avoided the countryside and kept themselves within their towns, and the Northumbrians in particular betook themselves into Yorkshire with their wives and children. Meanwhile the Scots, who had been unable to pursue their enemies because the bridge was broken, were soon increased both in spirits and in strength, and they tirelessly came to besiege Berwick. Seeing it empty of the English, they fortified it with a garrison, and thus learning of their enemies’ panic, they attacked the other places in the vicinity and took them in a trice. After this, greedy for plunder they broke into Northumbria at a run, for the sacking and ruination of its inhabitants. For wherever they went they wasted everything, sacked, stole, burned, and either butchered young and old alike or led them off as captives. Then they went flying towards Carlisle, and since its burghers had previously fortified it and made it impregnable, they turned to looting. Therefore they set off for Newcastle, sacked and burned the town, and then, slaked with the blood of their enemies, they went back to Berwick loaded down with all manner of loot. Of this William Wallace and Robert Bruce, the leaders of the multitude, made a fair division, having first delivered a speech praising individual men for having bravely fought on behalf of their national freedom. Then, not long after their victory, they led the army home. Meanwhile the citizens of Durham and Carlisle invaded Scotland by another route, under the leadership of Robert Clifford, and they wasted the fields far and wide as far as Roxborough.
18. But meanwhile the internal sedition did not settle down. Rather it daily revived, spread further, grew hotter, and was on the verge of an eruption. For the present state of affairs was extremely hateful because the people’s liberty seemed to be dying of a protracted disease. And so all adherents of the popular faction disapproved of, complained about, and grieved over the king’s actions, and particularly his exactions of money. Now, without any dissimulation, they openly spoke, clearly groaned, and sought for a remedy. But when none was produced, at length they concluded that someday they would have to resist, even though they thought this could not be done without some bloodshed on the other side. And so, under the leadership of Earls Humfrey and Richard, the Commons were inspired by their pain to cast off its servitude. They took up arms and readied themselves for the fight that they hoped would free them of their domestic miseries. When Robert Archbishop of Canterbury ( it is incredible how much Edward relied on his counsels, prudence, and loyalty) perceived this, he opposed himself to the Commons, warning and showing that fear of foreign dangers always requires that private hatred must always be enchained by the tightest bond of concord, and he pointed this out with many words. But when he came to appreciate that his good advice counted for naught, then he arranged for men of all orders to be summoned to a parliament at London by the king’s son Edward, to address the heart of the matter. And so, having been given pledges of immunity, the nobles participated, and in the name of the people they spiritedly demanded that the ancient laws be restored to their former usage, and likewise that in the future no king might lawfully impose a tax on the people of England, as they had previously done at their whim, save with the approval of parliament. They also demanded that those who had heretofore belonged to their party not be held accountable for having spoken in favor of popular liberty. All these demands were granted by vote of parliament, and were approved both by Prince Edward, who was present, upon his oath, and by his father by means of a letter. The legislation about restoring the ancient laws easily came to naught, but that about taxation became so deeply rooted that even today it stands inviolate. And so it came into use that henceforth, whenever a sovereign decreed a parliament was to be convened, and thought that finances would be considered therein, he would immediately deal with the Archbishop of Canterbury so that he would convene a synod of bishops and the other clergy, and the king would send to them some members of his Privy Council, who would set forth the reason for the thing and ask in the king’s name that they would vote a specified amount of money by authority of Parliament. And so in the end the English people gained this measure of liberty from its sovereign, which it grips tenaciously so it will not be wrenched away. Let my discourse return to its subject. At this time Queen Eleanor died, a woman of singular prudence. The year in which these things were done was the twenty-fourth of Edward’s reign, the year of human salvation 1297.
19. But Edward, although it would have been very much in his best interest to be in England, nevertheless remained in Flanders and often in his own domain of Ponthieu. So he was tilling another man’s farm while leaving his own untended, as the common saying goes. While he negotiated for the freeing of Count Guy, who was being kept in custody at Paris by the King of France, he received no mean defeat at the hands of the Scots. But when he had made the arrangements, by the intervention of his friends a truce was granted the Flemish, and he and Philippe made peace. Then Philippe restored all Aquitaine to Edward, and since he was now a widower, bestowed on him his sister Margaret. With this business happily concluded, Edward returned to England, and not long thereafter went to York and convened a parliament of his nobles, to which he also summoned the Scots to see if they would choose to return to their sanity. They entirely failed to appear. Highly incensed, he began to prepare a great army, and appointed a day for all men on which he would commence his expedition against Scotland. And so, after a little while, when his arms and men were readied, he set out for Scotland on May 26, the decreed day. Making his entry in battle array, he penetrated to the interior parts where he understood the Scots were keeping themselves, for they were encamped not far from Falkirk. The king drew near the place and offered battle, coming down onto the flatland from a nearby hill. At dawn the Scots drew themselves up for battle, and showed themselves from the direction of the enemy camp. Then Edward urged his soldiers to remember their traditional virtue and gave the signal for battle. On the right wing, where the English cavalry was stationed, the enemy were driven back at the first encounter, and put to rout. On the left, when the first ranks of the enemy had been riddled with arrows and fell, the rest nevertheless put up a fierce resistance. but the end they were surrounded, and all were put to death. The annals report that more than 15,000 Scotsmen died that day. After gaining this victory, and running short of provisions (for he had only brought along enough for a few days), the king refrained from a pursuit. Having marched through the east of Scotland and leaving strong garrisons at the places he had captured, Edward returned to London not long thereafter. At this same time ambassadors sent by Pope Boniface arrived to beg Edward both to free John Baliol, sometime King of Scotland, who was being kept in custody, and also to restore to John’s son Edward the landholdings he had possessed in England. The king heard the ambassadors’ petition and had no hesitation in turning John over to them to be brought to the Pope, since he was well aware that he had no support among the Scots, either because he suffered from the hatred of the opposing faction or, as some say, because he had originally taken a rash oath of homage to the King of England, or, lastly, because he had made a coward’s surrender. But he refused to return the estates to Edward. And so Baliol obtained his freedom and henceforth lived out his life in France, after long entertaining false hopes that he would obtain a desired improvement in his fortunes This was the year of human salvation 1298, the twenty-fifth of Edward’s reign.
20. And while there was a pause from wars, albeit a very short one, the king received with great estate Margaret, bestowed on him by her brother Philippe, and he celebrated with great pomp this marriage designed to confer great concord. In the same year died Henry Archbishop of York, who was followed by Thomas Corbridge. Also, an eleven months’ truce was granted the Scots, who clung to their mountains. Meanwhile Pope Boniface was beset by the Scots’ entreaties, and was annoyed that his English possessions had not been restored to John Baliol’s son Edward. Therefore he issued an interdict that King Edward should henceforth not trouble the Scots with war, because that realm had previously been entrusted to papal power by the Scots themselves, and therefore he claimed that he alone had the authority to bestow it on, or take it from, whomever he wished. When he received this papal rescript, Edward convened a parliament of the nobles as soon as he could, and took quick consultation about the matter. Afterwards both by means of a letter and ambassadors he informed the Pope that the proprietary right over the land of Scotland belonged to himself and favored his cause, and therefore he would not permit himself to be wrongly deprived thereof. Hearing this, Boniface immediately cooled off, no doubt fearing lest his cause would disgracefully fail, were he more persistent in maintaining it. In the twenty-seventh year of Edward’s reign, which was the year of human salvation 1300, the truce with the Scots was renewed. Meanwhile the king ordered John Seagrave, a stout fellow but imprudent, to go to County Durham with a large army, to be at hand if the Scots (whom he knew for sure would not keep the peace) should suddenly begin some new enterprise. And he gave him as a lieutenant Ralph Confrey (a Scotsman, as some believe, one of the many that had followed Edward). When John came to the Border Country at a time when the truce was expiring, he learned by his spies that the Scots were in arms. So he attacked Scotland and made straight for Edinburgh. There he learned that no hostile activity was being readied by the Scotsmen dwelling in the mountains, and so he divided his army into three corps. He stationed two of these at four-mile interviews under Ralph’s command, while he himself retained the third, and there he pitched camp. He mainly formed this plan so that he could keep the army in one place, yet not be troubled by a shortage of provisions. But this put his enemies in higher spirits. For when the Scots learned by their scouts that the enemy’s army had been divided and John their captain was encamped with a few men nearby to the town, they immediately hastened there by night with a select band of young men, and a little before daylight they halted and put themselves in battle array. Meanwhile John had learned of the enemy scheme, and he was advised by his followers how he might more readily avoid it, either by abandoning the camp and joining himself with the rest of the army, or by summoning two or three troops of soldiers. But this man, possessed of greater spirit than prudence, did neither. For he encouraged his soldiers and promptly gave the signal, and at sunrise he ordered them attack the approaching enemy. The battle was fought energetically, and long hung in the balance, but at length the English, pressed by the multitude of their enemy, began to fall back. A few escaped, and John, seriously wounded, was captured together with twenty knights. But some horsemen in the next camp heard the shouts of the fleeing soldiers and snatched him from the enemy. After this defeat, Ralph led the remainder of the army back to England, when he saw no reason to fight the enemy more, since they were far superior in numbers and strength. When the king heard the news that this expedition had gone badly, he promptly convened a parliament of the nobility which decreed funds for a new war. When this was extracted from the people, he prepared and army and not long thereafter headed for Scotland, bent on avenging the killing of his subjects. Hearing of the king’s arrival, the Scots fled to their mountains and marshes, as was their national habit. Meanwhile Edward attacked Berwick and received its surrender. And then, leaving there in the hope of settling the matter, he wasted the countryside and harried the towns wherever he went. For when he drew near, he threw such fear into his defeated enemies that they begged for mercy, which he gave them.
21. Then Edward, gaining control of Scotland (for with the exception of some wooded tracts in the western part of the country, he held all its places), decided to shore up his Scottish affairs. And so he convened their nobles at St. Andrews, and they quickly arrived in droves. Only Wallace did not appear, who could not be deterred from his loyalty and his opposition by any entreaty or threat, so that he would agree to obey or tolerate English rule. In the parliament held here the king introduced many English national customs and laws. He made the Earl of Pembroke, Odomar de Valence, governor of Scotland, then commanded every noble to give his oath of fealty, and finally, so there would not be any shred of desire for royal majesty remaining among the people, he removed the stone seat on which Scottish kings sat at their coronation to be removed from Scotland to London, and even today it is preserved at Westminster. Having accomplished these things, Edward turned aside to Berwick on this return to England, and reinforced it with a garrison, repaired its walls, and bestowed largesse on its townsmen. Then he went to Lincoln, where he spent his entire winter and held a parliament. To gratify the people, in this assembly he ensured that the laws, immunities and privileges bestowed by his father and contained in Magna Charta were ratified. This so won over all men’s minds that the people voted a tax of fifteen percent of the income from one year’s harvest as a token of their gratitude for the benefit the sovereign had conferred upon his people. Likewise the king’s son Edward was created Prince of Wales. In the selfsame year the judges, the Lord Chancellor, and the other magistrates who had held their courts at York for seven years were recalled to London. In those same days died Thomas Archbishop of York, who was succeeded by William Greenfield. Two illustrious men also departed this life, John Warenne and Earl Edmund of Cornwall. Since this Edmund died childless all his estate passed to King Edward. Dissolving this parliament, the king returned to London, and for the following two years, while the Scots remained in their allegiance, he wonderfully devoted himself to martial preparations.
22. Meanwhile Robert Bruce, who had, together with William Wallace, stood forth as war-leader, and had finally gone over to the King of England, was eager to gain the throne, and dealt with the nobles so they would name him king. When he had assembled them, he is supposed to have spoken as follows: “It does not escape me, my excellent lords, that you and I both care for the welfare of our nation. Nothing was every more important for you who, after seeing John driven from his throne, energetically defended it against our most deadly enemies, the English. In this matter I myself was of no little help to you, so that for a little while we all were finally free from ever danger. In this mortal life, nothing is more hateful than disgrace, and nothing is worse, nothing more foul than the servitude which the English wish to impose, not only on ourselves, but on the land of Scotland forever. They work, strive, and fight for nothing else. Good God, who would refuse to lose a thousand lives, if he had them, rather than be led into slavery, especially when he had been born for glory and freedom, as you most especially are? And so, my very brave lords, let us either cling to this or lose it with dignity, so that we may attest we once tried to rid ourselves of the injuries inflicted by the English king. For when he had been created the umpire for giving us a king, he had no hesitation in appropriating for himself the right of dominion over Scotland. And I obeyed him out of necessity, not free will, so that I might spare my life for the service of my nation, from which I have never averted my mind. But since I can see all of this is right before your eyes and well-known, and has become fixed deep in your minds, at present I shall only explain to you what I think best to do. Thus far, we have not fought the English with good success. For although we have defeated them twice within two days, we still must fear lest we be overwhelmed by them, because we do not fight under the same command as they do. For they have a king at home to whom everything is referred, who diligently takes care, day and night, for the preservation of his commonwealth. When on campaign, all men obey him, everything is done according to his auspices, and, in sum, he is the single ruler and governor of all things, who is at hand everywhere with his counsels and his authority. But we multitude of kingless men are like a headless body . And (not to speak of the rest) that when we wage war, as you know full well, we argue about the most trifling of things and have no care to defend the entire body of the commonwealth. Hence we have suffered a number of catastrophes and our affairs have been brought to a wretched state and, unless we are quick to provide for this, we shall suffer worse. So let us create a king among ourselves, who by his authority and in the name of such high majesty may rule and protect us. This is a position owed to me by hereditary right. And if you choose to confer it on me, although it is a heavy burden, I nevertheless shall not refuse it.” When he said these grave words, they were given a favorable hearing by all men present. Only one, John Comyn, argued that the form of the commonwealth should not be changed, but his opinion did not carry the day. Therefore Robert was immediately made king. Some mistakenly say that he chose for himself the name of David, but, as I have shown above, was the name of his dynasry. He knew for sure that the English would take this deed very much amiss and come against him, so he perpared for resistance, hoping he would have the enthusiastic support of all orders.
23. After Odomar the governor learned of Robert’s conspiracy, he immediately betook himself and his garrison to Edinburgh, having sent his other soldiers to fortified places, and informed Edward of what had transpired. Learning the Scots had chosen themselves a king, he began to mutter threateningly and to exclaim aloud that he would fly to Scotland and kill off the Scots, sack all their towns, and destroy them with steel and fire once they had been sacked. Therefore, filled with wrath, he ordered Edward Prince of Wales to go to Scotland with goodly-sized forces, and, since he did not think that this young man had either the strength or the counsel to manage such a war, he commanded him to do everything in accordance with the opinion of his governor Odomar. Now it was the year of human salvation 1305 when Edward arrived in Scotland. He wasted the countryside, and at his first arrival he bestowed everything taken from the enemy upon his soldiers, and then he attacked those castles and towns ill-defended by the nature of their location, and fought other skirmishes elsewhere. It was a pleasant spectacle for the English, but not so for anyone else, to see the panic-stricken Scotsmen throw down their weapons, stretch out their hands, and beg for death, or, if they offered resistance, to fall after receiving many wounds. But after King Robert learned of the arrival of Prince Edward, because he had not yet assembled a proper army, he disappeared into remote places. He chose to do so because he hoped that he could attack the enemy with greater safety once they were dispersed, because he estimated they would be free of fear and ranging further afield. But the sequel went contrary to his expectation. For the Prince, in accordance with his plan, took a number of towns and fortified castles, partly by force, and partly by violence, together with a great number of men, including William Wallace, who not much later was taken to London and beheaded. While the English ran throughout the region, Robert prepared his army in the mountains, at the same time keeping watch for a place and time for attacking the enemy. But that he could do this without risk to his own head, he ordered every one of the soldiers to wear over his armor the white surplice he gave them. He used the very same surplice himself so as not to be distinguished from the rest by the color of his garment, nor be sought out by his enemy with a greater attack. Having done this, he went down to the flatland and followed behind his enemy, and in this pursuit they came to a town of Caledonia once called Castrum, set by the Tay and now called Dunkeld by its inhabitants. Here, seeing the English at no great distance, he made an attack and set upon their rear guard. The English who were last in the line of march, and therefore the first to receive this enemy attack, were frightened and thrown into a slight confusion, but the rest quickly came to their aid. Battle was joined, hot on both sides. Encouraging his men, Robert went in where the enemy were packed most closely. Having three horses cut down from under him, he was thrown on the ground and fought on foot. But while he and a handful of his followers fought in this way and energetically slew their enemies, his soldiers fighting on the other wing either fell or fled. And when he came running to their relief, trying by all means to retain the victory he had almost gained, he was surrounded by horsemen and he too was forced to take to his heels. Horsemen followed the fleeing Robert for several miles but were unable to catch him. The prince immediately informed his father of the victory he had now won. He, greatly overjoyed, thought that the time had at last come when he would have no trouble pacifying the province for many years, so he went flying to Scotland straightway, inspected it in all its regions, and partly executed the rebels and partly sent them captive to England. No small number of the latter subsequently paid with their heads at London. Among these were Simon Frizell and Earl John of Buchan, honorable knights. Robert Bruce’s wife Isabelle was also taken prisoner in that war, brought to London, and imprisoned. While the king thus subdued the Scots, he fell into bad health, and, greatly suffering from this, retired to Carlisle. Learning that Edward had left Scotland, King Robert, who after his defeat had been tormented by care and concern, was put in higher spirits than ever and prepared an army. But meanwhile the king, lingering at Carlisle and his disease gathering strength, died in the sixty-ninth year of his life, the thirty-fourth of his reign, on July 7. In some annals we read that he died in camp in Scotland, having given instructions that his body not be carried from there before Scotland had been completely defeated. Thus in his greatness of mind he imagined that province could be subdued swiftly and with little effort. His soldiers bore his body to London, and it was buried at Westminster. By his first wife Eleanor he fathered four sons, John, Henry, Alfonso, and Edward, and the last of these succeeded him on the throne, whereas the other three had died long before. Likewise he fathered five daughters: Eleanor, who was given to Henry Duke of Barry; Joan, who married Earl Gilbert of Gloucester; Margaret, whom Duke John of Brabant took for his wife; Elizabeth, who was twice married, the second time to Earl Humfrey of Hereford; and Mary, who became a nun. By his second wife Margaret he fathered two sons, Thomas and Edmund, and a single daughter named Margaret. He was tall in stature, of a dark complexion, and had a strong body free of fat, which he avoided by constant exercise. His face was handsome, his eyes dark, and when they blazed with anger they would become suddenly bloodshot and seem to shoot fire. His hair was black and curly. He enjoyed reasonably good health, and was possessed of a great mind which never failed him in adversity, and of good intelligence: he easily absorbed anything to which he applied his mind. He was a man of supreme prudence, very devoted to religion, and a bitter foe of priestly insolence. This he imagined to take its origin from their wealth, and it is for that reason he is said to have enacted the law of mortmain, that by htis means their luxury might be curtailed. He founded a Cistercian monastery in Cheshire, which, because of the dignity of its founder and the nature of its location he named Vale Royal. He was very devoted to maintaining steady friendships, but those he was not quick to receive back into his good graces those he had once come to hate. While he had free time, he was very devoted to the hunt. This is what I have to write about Edward I. I have mentioned above the men who were distinguished for intellect and virtue in his time, so have thought it superfluous to mention them here.
Go to Book XVIII