Short historical prologue of England for
In the Footsteps of
Not long after King John had signed Magna Charta in 1215, the Pope deemed the document null and void. The king had been forced to sign it and therefore it was not legitimate. As soon as John heard he had the Pope’s support, he broke his word on Magna Charta and ruled again in an absolute way. He had no plans on being forced to behave according to laws. After all, he was the King of England, and nobody but God ruled his fate. His actions provoked the First Barons’ War. The war would be fought between King John and the son of Philip Augustus, Prince Louis. This was because the English barons turned to Louis as he was the heir to the French throne, and he agreed to invade England in their name.
King John signs Magna Charta under the threat of the English nobles
In 1216 John died in Dover after some severe fighting at the English fortress situated there. Louis had his army gathered there but could not take the fortress as its design would not let the prince use all of his troops to advance. However, when King John died – some speculate he was poisoned, other that he lost his mind. What is sure is that it was not in battle however – the reason to fight died with him and Prince Louis was victorious. With his victory, the English barons now saw that the one who would be closest to claim the throne of England was not John’s nine-year-old son Henry, but the French prince. This made the barons crown Henry in a rush, not even using a real crown, but a piece of a simple golden necklace.
King Henry III
With Henry crowned, the throne of England was secure with him and the barons made Henry sign Magna Charta as king, however, omitting a few clauses, including the 61st clause. This 61st clause was the one mentioning that if twenty-five barons would meet they could force the king to resign. This made Henry more powerful than King John had been since there were fewer rules in Magna Charta for Henry to follow.
However, not all was over though. The French prince was still in England and had conquered a large portion of it. In addition, some barons were still loyal to the Frenchman, liking the idea of a French king in England better than an infant king. Henry’s guardian William Marshal was the one who would lead the royalist barons in their war against Prince Louis and the remaining barons. The war continued for a year until 1217 when the English royalist army prepared to move against French-controlled London where Louis’s temporary government had seated itself. Louis was going to try to counter-attack the English army, but in a naval battle in the Straits of Dover, the English navy destroyed the French convoy with reinforcements, and thus Louis’s plans for invasion came to and end.
The child king grew up under William Marshal’s guidance and came to be King Henry III when he came of age. During his reign a Second Barons’ War would pass. When Henry had reached majority he was eager to use his power as king, and he funded a major war in Sicily at the request of the Pope. Tensions for a civil war also grew higher when a French-born baron in English France married Henry’s sister without consulting with Henry first. This baron, Simon de Montfort, was a charismatic leader and he led an attack together with the now more and more concerned English barons against England in the 1260s. Montfort and Henry, accompanied by his son Edward Longshanks, met at the Battle of Lewes in 1264 where Henry was defeated and imprisoned together with his son by Montfort. The French baron and the rest of the English barons began to reform the country to a less absolute rule, giving the nobility a notable increase in power.
However, it would not work out as Montfort wanted when Edward succeeded in escaping and gathered a second royalist army. The rebels were beaten in battle in 1265 and revenge was exacted. The monarchy was restored and Henry put back to power. He died in 1272 leaving England to his son Edward I.
Edward Longshanks, the victor of the
Scots rebellion led by William Wallace
Edward I - later also known as Longshanks because he was so tall - was a king who looked to the English provinces in France, but also to his own island. Edward would be fighting two successive wars against Wales in which they would be subdued. In 1284 Wales was finally controlled by Edward and in 1301 Edward made his son, also named Edward, Prince of Wales, and instituted that each monarch’s eldest son would receive this title in the future.
Edward then turned his gaze at Scotland. He had prepared to invade Scotland but had little use for the army that was put together. The Scots nobles accepted Edward I as the King of Scotland and Edward prepared for a marriage to incorporate Scotland for future generations. However, when the child queen Margaret of Scotland died before Edward could marry off his son, he had to choose a Scots heir instead of letting his son rule Scotland. Edward agreed to the Scots proposition and chose a prominent Scots successor named John Balliol. In 1293, John had to pay homage to Edward, where he was required to raise an army to help Edward in a war against France. This was too much for the Scots king and instead of helping England against France, John sent a messenger to France with the proposition of a joint attack on England. Edward then raised an army to meet with John and he went on a rampage through Scotland destroying several towns and finally reached Edinburgh where he took the Stone of Scone, or the Stone of Destiny, which was held sacred by the Scots. John had to accept defeat in order to save Scotland and he was imprisoned by Edward in the Tower of London where he renounced his right to the Scottish throne.
With John imprisoned, Edward enforced his control over Scotland and quelled all rebellions which sprang from his sacrilegious theft of the Stone. William Wallace was the main focus of the rebellion, but Edward was successful in capturing him after the Battle of Falkirk in 1298 and executed him in 1305. Edward wanted to continue to invade Scotland to incorporate it, and led an army commanded by the Scots noble Robert the Bruce. However, before he could seriously threaten Scotland, Edward died in 1307 and gave way for his son to take the English crown.
Edward II, the first king to be deposed in England's history,
counted from William the Conqueror's rule
Edward II, ruled from 1307 when his father died, until January 1327 when he was deposed. Edward’s rule was filled with constant internal strife and revolts. He neglected his nobility forming a great discontent among the English barons, and his view of lower born people was not a very successful way of keeping the mob in place, to say the least. Edward’s weak rule led to an uprising by Robert the Bruce, the very same man who was going to help Edward invade Scotland. Robert had now formed a Scottish army and was conquering Scotland for his own gain, resulting in loss of power for the English. Edward tried to meet him but was utterly defeated at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 and had to drop all ideas of conquering Scotland for the moment.
After the war with Scotland, Edward had to look to his own lands. Civil strife was on the verge of engulfing the country, with Edward and loyal nobles on one side, and the Queen of France, Isabella – his own wife – on the other. As the civil war continued and Edward lost a continuous row of battles against the French queen and her English allies, Edward tried to flee by sea. His ship was intercepted and he was put in gaol in Kenilworth Castle long enough for Parliament at Westminster to depose him of his royal office and give the crown to his son Edward. Even with a new king, Isabella did not trust the English as they were seen as enemies except for this very short time of cooperation against the recently deposed king. Therefore Isabella demanded Edward to be transferred to a prison that was French-friendly. He was moved to Berkley Castle where he later died in 1327. Some speculate that he was murdered.
Edward III, the English king who started
The Hundred Years' War with France
In January 1327 Edward was crowned King of England, he was then fourteen years old. His reign would be one among few that would last for around fifty years, only comparable to Henry III among his predecessors. In his younger years, his mother Isabella ruled England efficiently through him until he reached majority and was married. When Isabella’s brother Charles IV, the king of France, died, Edward was the senior male heir that could claim the French throne (through his mother Isabella). His younger brother John, Earl of Cornwall, was the second senior heir, but others would follow later.
Edward waged war against Scotland to make in English dominated again and succeeded in this with help from his Scottish puppet-king Edward Balliol, the son of John Balliol who had defied Edward’s grandfather Edward I. With Scotland subdued, Edward turned to France.
Edward claimed that since he was the only living male senior heir to the French throne, he had the legal right to incorporate France into England. This was actively opposed by the French nobles who claimed that he was violating the old Salic law which stated that heirs who were bound to the throne could not claim it if they were connected through a female line. Since Edward was connected through just that – by his mother Isabella – the rightful heir to the French throne would be Edward’s cousin Philip VI, a son of Philip III.
The French nobles’ move angered Edward into attacking France in 1337. This would be the first action that provoked The Hundred Years’ War, a war that would continue longer than a hundred years, and with pauses in the battling, but nonetheless war. In 1340 Edward proclaimed himself King of France. At the Battle of Crecy in 1346 Edward defeated a French army with the company of his son Edward. In 1350 Philip VI died and was succeeded by John II who continued the war against England. Six years later he was defeated by Edward’s son alone at the Battle of Poitiers. The French had to pay a ransom of three million crowns and in 1360 when the first phase of the war was over, the Treaty of Brétigny made English influence in France rise to heights that had never before been seen.
Richard II, he succeeded his grandfather to the throne of England
but was deposed because he neglected important English elements
Despite his having a son, Edward was not succeeded by him. Edward IV, also known as the Black Prince, died ten years before his father did, and so the grandson of Edward was the one who became the next King of England. His name was Richard.
Edward IV - The Black Prince - never had the opportunity to become king, he died before his father did
Richard should not have become the next King of England, had his older brother not died in his infancy. When his father Edward the Black Prince died and then his grandfather Edward III, he became king at the age of only ten. His guardian John of Gaunt – who was the younger brother of Edward the Black Prince and son of Edward III – would act as king in his place until 1381 when he successfully dealt with a peasant mob at the age of fourteen. The revolt of the peasants was led by Wat Tyler, and though there were several thousand discontent rebels, he made peace with the ringleaders for the moment. Their rebellion was later punished by death and Richard never lived up to the promises he had given on that day to the mob.
Richard’s continued rule became an disliked one, especially by the nobles. Richard appointed a council of his most trusted barons while the nobles who had been demoted formed the Lords Appellant. They demanded that things were to return to normal and that war with France should be concentrated. Richard’s plans of peace with France did not appeal to the Appellant. They forced the English Parliament to remove Richard’s councillors with the motive that he was still a minor and not fit to rule. This made Richard arrest the leader of the Appellant, the Earl of Arundel, but the rest of the Appellant’s armies overpowered the young king’s smaller army quickly and Richard became arrested in return. He was put in the Tower of London where he bided his time.
As he grew in age, so he did in power. He successfully had the Earl of Arundel executed and escaped his imprisonment. He had the rest of the Lords Appellant either arrested or exiled and resumed power as king. He instantly made preparations for war in Ireland, focused on bringing the Green Island into English control. However, when he left England he made it vulnerable for attack. Richard’s guardian John of Gaunt had had a son, Henry Bolingbroke, who was to inherit all John’s lands. But when John died, Richard had instead confiscated the land and banished Henry from England. Now, with Richard gone, Henry made an attempt to invade England and reclaim his legal domains. He had been provided with an army by the French king and landed in Yorkshire. He had little trouble conquering his father’s lands though as Richard’s rule was worrying for the English nobility. From the start, Henry had only wanted to retake his own land, but spurred by the nobility, he was offered to take the English crown for himself.
As Richard returned from Ireland he was cornered by Henry’s army in Wales and taken to London where he was imprisoned once again. He admitted defeat and was taken before Parliament where he officially denounced his claim to the throne. In 1400, Richard was placed in Pontefract Castle where he died in February.
Henry IV’s reign was a short one and filled with internal rebellions. It was only because of his son’s superior military skills that these rebellions were quelled and Henry could stay in power. He was afraid of assassination plots and had the future King of Scotland, James I, captured and imprisoned through his whole reign. He died in 1413 and succeeded by his son, Henry who became Henry V, King of England and the strong ruler of the English by the beginning of 1419.
Henry V, the ruler of England in the Year of our Lord Fourteen Nineteen
The Coat of Arms belonging to Henry V