Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Mighty Longshanks

This is where we get the Eleanor Crosses from.

what's left of one of the original Eleanor Crosses,
in Northampton; the cross crumbled off the top

After having 11dy6 kidlets (that'd be 16), most of which alas failed to thrive, Eleanor of Castile demised whilst off to war w/ the Scots & everywhere her coffin stopped for the night on its sad way back to London, Edward ordered a cross built. Methinks there are only a few of em left but when ya consider they was built in the Middle Ages, nice construction work.  They were said to be devoted to each other & Eleanor accompanied him everywhere he went, leaving the kidlets behind.  Draw a deep breath to recite the list of said kidlets: 1st, a stillborn daughter; then Catherine demised at 3 mos; then Joan, demised at 7 mos; then John, demised at age 5 (so that whole nonsense about John being such a bad king that no other King of England was ever named after him was just bad luck in the child mortality rates); then Henry, demised at age 6 (these peeps were having no luck at all despite the prevelance of eggs & swimmers); then Eleanor, who wed an obscure dude called the Count of Bar; then Juliana, demised at 4 mos; then Joan of Acre, born on Crusade, who 1st married one of the important de Clare Gloucester peeps & then caused titters by wedding her Master of Horse like Elizabeth wanted to; then Alfonso, demised age 10; then Margaret, who wed a Duke of Brabant; then Berengaria, demised at 2 mos; then another stillborn daughter (Edward was full of girly chromosomes, wasn't he?); then Mary of Woodstock, who grew up to be a nun; then a stillborn son; then Elizabeth (which was replacing the Frenchie Isabella), who 1st married a Count of Holland & then bred lots w/ a de Bohun baron; & finally Edward of Caernarfon, the long-awaited heir YAY  Eleanor bred for 29 yrs straight!  OUCH.  Her eggs must've finally expired b/c Edward Jr was 6 when she demised & he was the baby.  Amazingly twas a quartan fever (a form of malaria) that kilt her & not childbirth.  Ya can't say she didn't try hard to do her queenly duty, huh?

tomb effigy of Eleanor of Castile
in Westminister Abbey

Eleanor actually wasn't liked by the English peeps much better than her predecessor Eleanor of Provence was.  She was seen as yet another greedy foreigner who had the bad habit of marrying her female rellies to wealthy English barons so they could get their goodies that way.  The besotted Edward made her many gifts of land so that she could have lots of income w/o begging Parliament for it.  He's one of the few English kings to not cheat on his wife & leave a passel of bastards in his wake.

Marguerite de France was the 2nd wife & about 11dy6 yrs younger than Edward, but she done her duty posthaste & produced a cpl of spare male heirs, Thomas & Edmund, & a daughter surprisingly named Eleanor.  He was 67 when the youngest was born so good on ya, Ed!  Tho it prolly helps to have a teenaged bride when you're that age.  His daughters gave him the frowns b/c they were all older than Stepmummy.  The only kids she got along well w/ was Edward Jr & Mary the Nun.

stone carving of Marguerite de France,
Edward Is 2nd wife; arentcha lovin' the hat?

Anyhoo, 1st Edward turned his attn to those pesky Welsh when his Marcher barons complained they were getting a tad uppity.  Llewellyn was married to the Demoiselle, daughter of the late, unlamented Simon de Montfort & Edward's Auntie Eleanor.  The Welsh, much like the rest of the peeps on the isles of mists & fogs & rain, perpetually fought amongst themselves & this generation was no different.  Llewellyn's bros Daffyd & Gruffyd had to RUN AWAY RUN AWAY to England after an unsuccessful assassination attempt on him, so they whinged to Edward a lot.  B/c he was sheltering this pair of criminals, Llewellyn said pffft to Edward when he was summoned to do homage.  Edward was NOT the sort of peep ya said pffft to.  He immediately gathered a humungous force under command of his bro Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, & invaded.  Llewellyn took one look at it & hmmm'd & said OK wait a sec mayhap I was a little hasty in pffft'ing at ya, let's parley.  He ended up w/ a considerable loss of territory from this, alas.  The Welsh peeps were not amused & poked Llewellyn lots & said, c'mon let's kick some English arse!  Whatcha waitin' for, huh?  So in a cpl yrs they started a war & Edward glared at the Welsh & decided they needed crushing beneath his boot heels. 

Edward's idea of war was of the slash & burn variety so he had great fun. Then to consolidate his victories he built 11dy6 castles in Wales & lots of them are still standing.

Beaumaris Castle

Caernafon Castle

Harlech Castle

He filled the castles w/ lots of soldiers to keep the Welsh in line, built English towns around em, executed 11dy6 Welsh princelings incl that whinging Daffyd, & called it a good day's work. Llewellyn was kilt & his infant daughter Gwenllian by the Demoiselle was taken into English custody & hurled into a convent.  The Statute of Rhuddlan made Wales merely an English principality subject to English law.  Longshanks was quite chuffed w/ his good self.

Then he did the same thing Llewellyn did, refusing to pay homage for the English lands he still hung onto in France.  There was supposed to be a war, but then the Frenchie king Philip said, hey, I got me 2 unmarried sisters here, which one do ya like?  Edward preferred the older one, Blanche, but she was unfussed at the notion of being shunted off on a dude in his 50s, so her 16 yo sister Marguerite got the honors.  Edward ended up liking her just as much as his 1st wife, so it turned out well in the end.

All this warring cost a lot more than 11dy6 groats & Edward borrowed most of it from England's Jews, who were the moneylenders & bankers of the time.  There was no way he was ever gonna pay this back.  So he decided it would be a good idea to just kick all the Jews out of England, period, plus confiscate all their goodies as they lined up to leave.  Double score for Team Longshanks!  This started a trend & wherever the Jews went after they left, eventually they'd get kicked out of there, too.

Then he set off north to hammer on those pesky Scots. The Scots had just plain run out of heirs in the direct line stretching back into the Dark Ages from Kenneth MacAlpin on down. They had to resort to a little girl called the Maid of Norway, the granddaughter of Alexander III, the last king, which would be another nice regency for em.  She was supposed to be betrothed to the then-infant Edward Jr & solve that pesky raiding issue once & for all.  Alas, she demised on board ship en route to her new kingdom.  They hiked up their kilts & scratched & said OK now who?

There were lots of wannabe kings w/ dribs & drabs of royal blood, but no one could decide which one to pick for crowning, so they were quibbling amongst themselves. It got so bad the Scots sent a delegation to Edward w/ all the names in a hat & said pick one willya? So he picked John Baliol, who was derisively called Toom Tabard (empty jacket) b/c reknowned for his brains alas he was not. This did not sit well w/ the Bruce contingent, esp as Baliol agreed to do homage to Edward & make Scotland an English fief. The Scots lords were outraged at this lowering of status & the infighting commenced posthaste. Somewhere in this mess is where we get Braveheart from, tho not blue as the movies would have us believe. William Wallace emerged as a darn good warrior on the Bruce side of the Scots melee & Edward determined he was going to treat those irksome Scots as he'd treat any fiefdom in rebellion....annihilate them.

This went on for 11dy6 yrs & Baliol was tossed out & Robert the Bruce crowned at Scone by Isabella Buchan after allegedly murdering his new main rival, John Comyn, in a church, & the Bruce took over. Edward swiped the Stone of Scone, making the Scots even madder, & he captured the Bruce's wife & daughter, too, so there was no breeding of male heirs for the Scots for yonks.  He exhibited them hanging in cages off the Tower of London when the weather was nice.  He trounced Wallace's forces at the battle of Falkirk & there was that nasty hanging, drawing, & quartering thing done to him in London. 

Suffice to say twas quite the mess & the Hammer of the Scots refused to cease pounding. Edward had the demises from that soldier's disease, dysentery, whilst in the middle of such & his surviving son by Eleanor of Castile became the king.....

statue of Edward I
having a really bad hair day!

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