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The History of England from the Accession of Henry III. to the Death of Edward III. (1216-1377)
The Early Foreign Policy And Legislation Of Edward I
by Tout, T.F. (M.A.)

The Dominican chronicler, Nicholas Trivet, thus describes the personality of Edward I.: "He was of elegant build and lofty stature, exceeding the height of the ordinary man by a head and shoulders. His abundant hair was yellow in childhood, black in manhood, and snowy white in age. His brow was broad, and his features regular, save that his left eyelid drooped somewhat, like that of his father, and hid part of the pupil. He spoke with a stammer, which did not, however, detract from the persuasiveness of his eloquence. His sinewy, muscular arms were those of the consummate swordsman, and his long legs gave him a firm hold in the saddle when riding the most spirited of steeds. His chief delight was in war and tournaments, but he derived great pleasure from hawking and hunting, and had a special joy in chasing down stags on a fleet horse and slaying them with a sword instead of a hunting spear. His disposition was magnanimous, but he was intolerant of injuries, and reckless of dangers when seeking revenge, though easily won over by a humble submission."1 The defects of his youth are well brought out by the radical friar who wrote the Song of Lewes. Even to the partisan of Earl Simon, Edward was "a valiant lion, quick to attack the strongest, and fearing the onslaught of none. But if a lion in pride and fierceness, he was a panther in inconstancy and mutability, changing his word and promise, cloaking himself by pleasant speech. When he is in a strait he promises whatever you wish, but as soon as he has escaped he forgets his promise. The treachery or falsehood, whereby he is advanced, he calls prudence; the way whereby he arrives whither he will, crooked though it be, he regards as straight; whatever he likes he says is lawful, and he thinks he is released from the law, as though he were greater than a king."2

1 Annals, pp. 181-82.

2 Song of Lewes, pp. 14-15, ed. Kingsford.
Hot and impulsive in disposition, easily persuaded that his own cause was right, and with a full share in the pride of caste, Edward committed many deeds of violence in his youth, and never got over his deeply rooted habit of keeping the letter of his promise while violating its spirit. Yet he learnt to curb his impetuous temper, and few medieval kings had a higher idea of justice or a more strict regard to his plighted word. "Keep troth" was inscribed upon his tomb, and his reign signally falsified the prediction of evil which the Lewes song-writer ventured to utter. A true sympathy bound him closely to his nobles and people. His unstained family life, his piety and religious zeal, his devotion to friends and kinsfolk, his keen interest in the best movements of his time, showed him a true son of Henry III. But his strength of will and seriousness of purpose stand in strong contrast to his father's weakness and levity. A hard-working, clear-headed, practical, and sober temperament made him the most capable king of all his line. He may have been wanting in originality or deep insight, yet it is impossible to dispute the verdict that has declared him to be the greatest of all the Plantagenets.

The broad lines of Edward's policy during the thirty-five years of his kingship had already been laid down for him during his rude schooling. The ineffectiveness of his father's government inspired him with a love of strong rule, and this enabled him to grapple with the chronic maladministration which made even a well-ordered medieval kingdom a hot-bed of disorder. The age of Earl Simon had been fertile in new ideals and principles of government. Edward held to the best of the traditions of his youth, and his task was not one of creation so much as of selection. His age was an age of definition. The series of great laws, which he made during the earlier half of his reign, represented a long effort to appropriate what was best in the age that had gone before, and to combine it in orderly sequence. The same ideals mark the constitutional policy of his later years. The materials for the future constitution of England were already at his hand. It was a task well within Edward's capacity to strengthen the authority of the crown by associating the loyal nobles and clergy in the work of ruling the state, and to build up a body politic in which every class of the nation should have its part. Yet he never willingly surrendered the most insignificant of his prerogatives, and if he took the people into partnership with him, he did so with the firm belief that he would be a more powerful king if his subjects loved and trusted him. Though closely associated with his nobles by many ties of kinship and affection, he was the uncompromising foe of feudal separatism, and hotly resented even the constitutional control which the barons regarded as their right. In the same way the unlimited franchises of the lords of the Welsh march, the almost regal authority which the treaty of Shrewsbury gave to the Prince of Wales, the rejection of his claims as feudal overlord of Scotland, were abhorrent to his autocratic disposition. True son of the Church though he was, he was the bitter foe of ecclesiastical claims which, constantly encroaching beyond their own sphere, denied kings the fulness of their authority.

Edward's policy was thoroughly comprehensive. He is not only the "English Justinian" and the creator of our later constitution; he has rightly been praised for his clear conception of the ideal of a united Britain which brought him into collision with Welsh and Scots. His foreign policy lay as near to his heart as the conquest of Wales or Scotland, or the subjection of priests and nobles. He was eager to make Gascony obey him, anxious to keep in check the French king, and to establish a sort of European balance of power, of which England, as in Wolsey's later dreams, was to be the tongue of the balance. Yet, despite his severe schooling in self-control, he undertook more than he could accomplish, and his failure was the more signal because he found the utmost difficulty in discovering trustworthy subordinates. Moreover, the limited resources of a medieval state, and the even more limited control which a medieval ruler had over these resources, were fatal obstacles in the way of too ambitious a policy. Edward had inherited his father's load of debt, and could only accomplish great things by further pledging his credit to foreign financiers, against whom his subjects raised unending complaints. Yet, if his methods of attaining his objects were sometimes mean and often violent, there was a rare nobility about his general purpose.

Every precaution was taken to secure Edward's succession and the establishment of the provisional administration which was to rule until his return. Before leaving England in 1270, Edward had appointed as his agents Walter Giffard, Archbishop of York, Roger Mortimer, and Robert Burnell, his favourite clerk. The vacancy of the see of Canterbury after Boniface's death placed Giffard in a position of peculiar eminence. Appointed first lord of the council, he virtually became regent; and he associated with himself in the administration of the realm his two colleagues in the management of the new king's private affairs. Early in 1273 a parliament of magnates and representatives of shires and boroughs took oaths of allegiance to the king and continued the authority of the three regents. By the double title of Edward's personal delegation and the recognition of the estates, Giffard, Mortimer, and Burnell ruled the country for the two years which were to elapse before the sovereign's return. Their government was just, economical, and peaceful. Even Gilbert of Gloucester remained quiet, and, save for the refusal of the Prince of Wales to perform his feudal obligations, the calm of the last years of the old reign continued. It is evidence of constitutional progress that the administration was carried on with so little friction in the absence of the monarch. Roger Mortimer, the most formidable of the feudal baronage, was himself one of the agents of this salutary change. The marcher chieftain put down with promptitude an attempted revolt of north-country knights which threatened public tranquillity.

Edward first heard of his father's death in Sicily, but the tidings of the maintenance of peace rendered it unnecessary for him to hasten his return, and he made his way slowly through Italy. In Sicily he was entertained by his uncle, Charles of Anjou. Thence he went to Orvieto, where the new pope, Gregory X., who, as archdeacon of Liege, had been the comrade of his crusade, was then residing. From king and pope alike Edward earnestly sought vengeance for the murder of Henry of Almaine. Proceeding northwards, he was received with great pomp by the cities of Lombardy, and made personal acquaintance with Savoy and its count, Philip, his aged great-uncle. Crossing the Mont Cenis, he was welcomed by bands of English magnates who had gone forth to meet him. He was soon at the head of a little army, and in the true spirit of a hero of romance halted to receive the challenge of the boastful Count of Chalon. The tournament between the best knights of England and Burgundy was fought out with such desperation that it became a serious battle. At last Edward unhorsed the count in a personal encounter, which added greatly to his fame. This "Little Battle of Chalon" was the last victory of his irresponsible youth.

The serious business of kingcraft began when Edward met his cousin, Philip III., at Paris. The news from England was still so good that Edward resolved to remain in France with the twofold object of settling his relations with the French monarchy and of receiving the homage and regulating the affairs of Aquitaine. Despite the treaty of Paris of 1259, there were so many subjects of dispute between the English and French kings that, beneath the warm protestations of affection between the kinsmen, there was, as a French chronicler said, but a cat-and-dog love between them.1 The treaty had not been properly executed, and the English had long complained that the French had not yielded up to England their king's rights over the three bishoprics of Limoges, Cahors, and Périgueux, which St. Louis had ceded. New complications arose after the death of Alfonse of Poitiers in the course of the Tunisian crusade. By the treaty of Paris the English king should then have entered into possession of Saintonge south of the Charente, the Agenais, and lower Quercy. But the ministers of Philip III. laid hands upon the whole of Alfonse's inheritance and refused to surrender these districts to the English. The welcome which Edward received from his cousin at Paris could not blind him to the incompatibility of their interests, nor to the impossibility of obtaining at the moment the cession of the promised lands. He did not choose to tarry at Paris while the diplomatists unravelled the tangled web of statecraft. Nor would he tender an unconditional homage to the prince who withheld from him his inheritance. Already a stickler for legal rights, even when used to his own detriment, Edward was unable to deny his subjection to the overlord of Aquitaine. He therefore performed homage, but he phrased his submission in terms which left him free to urge his claims at a more convenient season. "Lord king," he said to Philip, "I do you homage for all the lands which I ought to hold of you." The vagueness of this language suggested that, if Edward could not get Saintonge, he might revive his claim to Normandy. The king appointed a commission to continue the negotiations with the French court, and then betook himself to Aquitaine.2

1 "Hic amor dici potest amor cati et canis," Chron. Limov., in Recueil des Hist. de la France, xxi., 784.

2 C.V. Langlois' Le Règne de Philippe le Hardi (1887), and Gavrilovitch's Le Traité de Paris, give the best modern accounts of Edward's early dealings with the French crown.
It was nearly ten years since the presence of the monarch had restrained the turbulence of the Gascon duchy. Edward had before him the task of watching over its internal administration, and checking the subtle policy whereby the agents of the French crown were gradually undermining his authority. Two wars, the war of Béarn and the war of Limoges, desolated Gascony from the Pyrenees to the Vienne. It was Edward's first task to bring these troubles to an end. Age and experience had not diminished the ardour which had so long made Gaston of Béarn the focus of every trouble in the Pyrenean lands. He defied a sentence of the ducal court of Saint Sever, and was already at war with the seneschal, Luke of Tany, when Edward's appearance brought matters to a crisis. During the autumn and winter of 1273-74, Edward hunted out Gaston from his mountain strongholds, and at last the Béarnais, despairing of open resistance, appealed to the French king. Philip accepted the appeal, and ordered Edward to desist from molesting Gaston during its hearing. The English king, anxious not to quarrel openly with the French court, granted a truce. The suit of Gaston long occupied the parliament of Paris, but the good-will of the French lawyers could not palliate the wanton violence of the Viscount of Béarn. The French, like the English, were sticklers for formal right, and were unwilling to push matters to extremities. Edward had the reward of his forbearance, for Philip advised Gaston to go to England and make his submission. Gratified by his restoration to Béarn in 1279, Gaston remained faithful for the next few years. Edward was less successful in dealing with Limoges. There had been for many years a struggle between the commune of the castle, or bourg, of Limoges and Margaret the viscountess. It was to no purpose that the townsfolk had invoked the treaty of Paris, whereby, as they maintained, the French king transferred to the King of England his ancient jurisdiction over them. They were answered by a decree of the parliament of Paris that the homage of the commune of Limoges belonged not to the crown but to the viscountess, and that therefore the treaty involved no change in their allegiance. Edward threw himself with ardour on to the side of the burgesses. Guy of Lusignan, still the agent of his brother abroad, though prudently excluded from England, was sent to Limoges, where he incited the commune to resist the viscountess. In May, 1274, Edward himself took up his quarters in Limoges, and for a month ruled there as sovereign. But the French court reiterated the decree which made the commune the vassal of the viscountess. To persevere in upholding the rebels meant an open breach with the French court in circumstances more unfavourable than in the case of Gaston of Béarn. Once more Edward refused to allow his ambition to prevail over his sense of legal obligation. With rare self-restraint he renounced the fealty of Limoges, and abandoned his would-be subjects to the wrath of the viscountess. This was an act of loyalty to feudal duty worthy of St. Louis. If Edward, on later occasions, pressed his own legal claims against his vassals, he set in his own case a pattern of strict obedience to his overlord.

While Edward was still abroad, his friend Gregory X. held from May to July, 1274, the second general council at Lyons, wherein there was much talk of a new crusade, and an effort was made, which came very near temporary success, towards healing the schism of the Eastern and Western Churches. At Gregory's request Edward put off his coronation, lest the celebration might call away English prelates from Lyons. When the council was over, he at last turned towards his kingdom. At Paris he was met by the mayor of London, Henry le Waleis, and other leading citizens, who set before him the grievous results of the long disputes with Flanders, which had broken off the commercial relations between the two countries, and had inflicted serious losses on English trade. Edward strove to bring the Flemings to their senses by prohibiting the export of wool from England to the weaving towns of Flanders. The looms of Ghent and Bruges were stopped by reason of the withholding of the raw material, and the distress of his subjects made Count Guy of Flanders anxious to end so costly a quarrel. On July 28 Edward met Guy at Montreuil and signed a treaty which re-established the old friendship between lands which stood in constant economic need of each other. There was no longer any occasion for further delay, and on August 2 Edward and his queen crossed over to Dover. Received with open arms by his subjects, he was crowned at Westminster on August 19 by the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Kilwardby, philosopher, theologian, and Dominican friar, whom Gregory X. had placed over the church of Canterbury, despite the vigorous efforts which Edward made to secure the primacy for Robert Burnell. He had been absent from England for four years.

Edward's sojourn in France was fruitful of results which he was unable to reap for the moment. Conscious of the inveterate hostility of the French king, he strove to establish relations with foreign powers to counterbalance the preponderance of his rival. When the death of Richard of Cornwall reopened the question of the imperial succession, Charles of Anjou had been anxious to obtain the prize for his nephew, Philip III., on the specious pretext that the headship of Christendom would enable the King of France to "collect chivalry from all the world" and institute the crusade which both Gregory X. and Edward so ardently desired. But the most zealous enthusiast for the holy war could hardly be deceived by the false zeal with which the Angevin cloaked his overweening ambition. It was a veritable triumph for Edward, when Gregory X., though attracted for a moment by the prospect of a strong emperor capable of landing a crusade, accepted the choice of the German magnates who, in terror of France, elected as King of the Romans the strenuous but not overmighty Swabian count, Rudolf of Hapsburg. As Alfonso of Castile's pretensions were purely nominal, this election ended the Great Interregnum by restoring the empire on a narrower but more practical basis. Though Gregory strove to reconcile the French to Rudolf's accession, common suspicion of France bound Edward and the new King of the Romans in a common friendship.

Family disputes soon destroyed the unity of policy of the Capetian house. Philip III., well meaning but weak, was drifting into complete dependence on Charles of Anjou, whom Edward distrusted, alike as the protector of the murderers of Henry of Almaine and as the supplanter of his mother in the Provençal heritage. Margaret of Provence, the widow of St. Louis, had a common grievance with Edward and his mother against Charles of Anjou. She hated him the more inasmuch as he was depriving her of all influence over her son, King Philip. It was easy in such circumstances for the two widowed queens of France and England to form grandiose schemes for ousting Charles from Provence. Rudolf lent himself to their plans by investing Margaret with the county. Edward's filial piety and political interests made him a willing partner in these designs. In 1278 he betrothed his daughter Joan of Acre to Hartmann, the son of the King of the Romans. The plan of Edward and Rudolf was to revive in some fashion the kingdom of Arles1 in favour of the young couple. Though Rudolf was unfaithful to this policy, and abandoned the proposed English marriage in favour of a match between his daughter and the son of the King of Sicily, the two queens persisted in their plans, and new combinations against Charles and Philip for some years threatened the peace of Europe.

1 Fournier's Le Royaume d'Arles et de Vienne (1891) gives the best modern account of Edward's relations to the Middle Kingdom.
It is unlikely that Edward hoped for serious results from schemes so incoherent and backed with such slender resources. Besides his alliance with the emperor, he strove to injure the French king by establishing close relations with his brother-in-law, Alfonso of Castile, who since 1276 was at war with the French. Earlier than this, he made himself the champion of Blanche of Artois, the widow of Henry III. of Navarre and Champagne. He wished that Joan, their only child, should bring her father's lands to one of his own sons, and, though disappointed in this ambition, he managed to marry his younger brother, Edmund of Lancaster, to Blanche. Though the French took possession of Navarre, whereby they alike threatened Gascony and Castile, they suffered Blanche to rule in Champagne in her daughter's name, and Edmund was associated with her in the government of that county. The tenure of a great French fief by the brother of the English king was a fresh security against the aggressions of the kings of France and Sicily. It probably facilitated the conclusion of the long negotiations as to the interpretation of the treaty of Paris, and the partition of the inheritance of Alfonse of Poitiers. Edward's position against France was further strengthened in 1279 by the death of his wife's mother, Joan of Castile, the widow of Ferdinand the Saint and the stepmother of Alfonso the Wise, whereupon he took possession of Ponthieu in Eleanor's name. Scarcely had he established himself at Abbeville, the capital of the Picard county, than the negotiations at Paris were so far ripened that Philip III. went to Amiens, where Edward joined him. On May 23 both kings agreed to accept the treaty of Amiens by which the more important of the outstanding difficulties between the two nations were amicably regulated. By it Philip recognised Eleanor as Countess of Ponthieu, and handed over a portion of the inheritance of Alfonse of Poitiers to Edward. Agen and the Agenais were ceded at once, and a commission was appointed to investigate Edward's claims over lower Quercy. In return for this Edward yielded up his illusory rights over the three bishoprics of Limoges, Périgueux, and Cahors. It was a real triumph for English diplomacy.

No lasting peace could arise from acts which emphasised the essential incompatibility of French and English interests by enlarging the territory of the English kings in France. The undercurrent of hostility still continued; and the proposal of Pope Nicholas III. that Edward should act as mediator between Philip III. and Alfonso of Castile led to difficulties that deeply incensed Edward, and embroiled him once more both with France and Spain. Under Angevin influence, both Philip and Alfonso rejected Edward's mediation in favour of that of the Prince of Salerno, Charles of Anjou's eldest son. Disgust at this unfriendliness made Edward again support the plans of Margaret of Provence against the Angevins. In 1281 Margaret's intrigues formed a combination of feudal magnates called the League of Macon, with the object of prosecuting her claims over Provence by force of arms. Edward and his mother, Eleanor, his Savoyard kinsfolk, and Edmund of Lancaster all entered into the league. But it was hopeless for a disorderly crowd of lesser chieftains, with the nominal support of a distant prince like Edward, to conquer Provence in the teeth of the hostility of the strongest and the ablest princes of the age. The League of Macon came to nothing, like so many other ambitious combinations of a time in which men's capacity to form plans transcended their capacity to execute them. Margaret herself soon despaired of the way of arms and was bought off by a money compensation. The league mainly served to keep alive the troubles that still separated England and France. In 1284 Philip gained a new success in winning the hand of Joan of Champagne, Count Edmund's step-daughter, for his son, the future Philip the Fair. When Joan attained her majority, Edmund lost the custody of Champagne, which went to the King of France as the natural protector of his son and his son's bride. With his brother's withdrawal from Provins to Lancaster, Edward lost one of his means of influencing the course of French politics.

A compensation for these failures was found in 1282 when the Sicilian vespers rang the knell of the Angevin power in Sicily. When the revolted islanders chose Peter, King of Aragon, as their sovereign, Charles, seeking to divert him from Sicily by attacking him at home, inspired his partisan, Pope Martin IV., to preach a crusade against Aragon. It was in vain that Edward strove to mediate between the two kings.

The only response made to his efforts was a fantastic proposal that they should fight out their differences in a tournament at Bordeaux with him as umpire, but Edward refused to have anything to do with the pseudo-chivalrous venture. At last, in 1285, Philip III. lent himself to his uncle's purpose so far as to lead a papalist crusade over the Pyrenees. The movement was a failure. Philip lost his army and his life in Aragon, and his son and successor, Philip IV., at once withdrew from the undertaking. In the year of the crusade of Aragon, Charles of Anjou, Peter of Aragon, and Martin IV. died. With them the struggles, which had begun with the attack on Frederick II, reached their culminating point. Their successors continued the quarrel with diminished forces and less frantic zeal, and so gave Edward his best chance to pose as the arbiter of Europe. Though Edward's continental policy lay so near his heart that it can hardly be passed over, it was fuller of vain schemes than of great results. Yet it was not altogether fruitless, since twelve years of resolute and moderate action raised England, which under Henry III. was of no account in European affairs, to a position only second to that of France, and that under conditions more nearly approaching the modern conception of a political balance and a European state system than feudalism, imperialism, and papalism had hitherto rendered possible.

In domestic policy, seven years of monotonous administration had in a way prepared for vigorous reforms. Edward's return to England in 1274 was quickly followed by the dismissal of Walter of Merton, the chancellor of the years of quiescence. He was succeeded by Robert Burnell, who, though foiled in his quest of Canterbury, obtained an adequate standing by his preferment to the bishopric of Bath and Wells. For the eighteen years of life which still remained to him, Bishop Burnell held the chancery and possessed the chief place in Edward's counsels. The whole of this period was marked by a constant legislative activity which ceased so soon after Burnell's death that it is tempting to assign at least as large a part of the law-making of the reign to the minister as to the sovereign. A consummate lawyer and diplomatist, Burnell served Edward faithfully. Nor was his fidelity impaired either by the laxity which debarred him from higher ecclesiastical preferment or by his ambitious endeavours to raise the house of Shropshire squires from which he sprang into a great territorial family. Edward gave him his absolute confidence and was blind even to his defects.

The first general parliament of the reign to which the king summoned the commons was held at Westminster in the spring of 1275. Its work was the statute of Westminster the First, a comprehensive measure of many articles which covered almost the whole field of legislation, and is especially noteworthy for the care which its compilers took to uphold sound administration and put down abuses. Not less important was the provision of an adequate revenue for the debt-burdened king. The same parliament made Edward a permanent grant of a custom on wool, wool-fells, and leather, which remained henceforth a chief source of the regular income of the crown. The later imposition of further duties soon caused men to describe the customs of 1275 as the "Great and Ancient Custom". It was significant of the economic condition of England that the great custom was a tax on exports, not imports, and that, with the exception of leather, it was a tax on raw materials. Granted the more willingly since the main incidence of it was upon the foreign merchants, who bought up English wool for the looms of Flanders and Brabant, the custom proved a source of revenue which could easily be manipulated, increased, and assigned in advance to the Italian financiers, willing to lend money to a necessitous king. A new step in our financial history was attained when this tax on trade steps into the place so long held by the taxes on land, from which the Normans and Angevins had derived their enormous revenue.

The statute of Westminster the First had a long series of fellows. Next year came the statute of Rageman, which supplemented an earlier inquest into abuses by instituting a special inquiry in cases of trespass. In 1277 the first Welsh war interrupted the current of legislation. The break was compensated for in 1278 by the passing of the important statute of Gloucester, the consummation of a policy which Edward had adopted as soon as he set foot on English soil. The troubles of Edward's youth had made clear to him the obstacles thrown in the path of orderly government by the great territorial franchises. He had been forced to modify his policy to gratify the lord of Glamorgan, and win over the house of Mortimer by the erection of a new franchise that was a palatinate in all but name. But such great "regalities" were, after all, exceptional. Much more irritating to an orderly mind were the innumerable petty immunities which made half the hundreds in England the appendages of baronial estates, and such common privileges as "return of writs," which prevented the sheriff's officers from executing his mandates on numerous manors where the lords claimed that the execution of writs must be entrusted to their bailiffs.1 These widespread powers in private hands were the more annoying to the king since they were commonly exercised with no better warrant than long custom, and without direct grant from him.

1 See on "return of writs" and a host of similar immunities, Pollock and Maitland's History of English Law, i., 558-82.
Bracton had already laid down the doctrine that no prescription can avail against the rights of the crown, and it was a commonplace with the lawyers of the age that nothing less than a clear grant by royal charter could justify such delegation of the sovereign's powers into private hands. Within a few months of his landing, Edward sent out commissioners to inquire into the baronial immunities. The returns of these inquests, which were carried out hundred by hundred, are embodied in the precious documents called the Hundred Rolls. The study of these reports inspired the procedure of the statute of Gloucester, by which royal officers were empowered to traverse the land demanding by what warrant the lords of franchises exercised their powers. The demand of the crown for documentary proof of royal delegation would have destroyed more than half the existing liberties. But aristocratic opinion deserted Edward when he strove to carry out so violent a revolution. The irritation of the whole baronage is well expressed in the story of how Earl Warenne, unsheathing a rusty sword, declared to the commissioners: "Here is my warrant. My ancestors won their lands with the sword. With my sword I will defend them against all usurpers." Nor was this mere boasting. The return of the king's officers tells us that Warenne would not say of whom, or by what services, he held his Yorkshire stronghold of Conisborough, and that his bailiffs refused them entrance into his liberties and would not suffer his tenants to answer or appear before them.1 Edward found it prudent not to press his claims. He disturbed few men in their franchises, and was content to have collected the mass of evidence embodied in the placita de quo warranto, and thus to have stopped the possibility of any further growth of the franchises. A few years later he accepted the compromise that continuous possession since the coronation of Richard I. was a sufficient answer to a writ of quo warranto. In this lies the whole essence of Edward's policy in relation to feudalism, a policy very similar to that of St. Louis. Every man is to have his own, and the king is not to inquire too curiously what a man's own was. But no extension of any private right was to be tolerated. Thus feudalism as a principle of political jurisdiction gradually withered away, because it was no longer suffered to take fresh root. The later land legislation of Edward's reign pushed the idea still further.

1 Kirkby's Quest for Yorkshire, pp. 3, 227, 231, Surtees Soc.
In 1278 it had been the turn of the barons to suffer. Next came the turn of the Church. Though Edward was a true son of the Church, he saw as clearly as William the Conqueror and Henry II. the essential incompatibility between the royal supremacy and the pretensions of the extreme ecclesiastics. The limits of Church and State, the growth of clerical wealth and immunities, and the relations of the world-power of the pope to the local authority of the king, were problems which no strong king could afford to neglect, and perhaps were incapable of solution on medieval lines. Edward saw that the most practical way of dealing with clerical claims was for him to stand in good personal relations to the chief dispensers of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. With a pope like Gregory X. it was easy for Edward to be on friendly terms; but it was more difficult to feel any cordiality for the dogmatic canonists or the furious Guelfic partisans who too often occupied the chair of St. Peter. Yet Edward was shrewd enough to see that it was worth while making sacrifices to keep on his side the power which, alike under Innocent III. and Clement IV., had given valuable assistance to his grandfather and father in their struggle against domestic enemies. Moreover the enormous growth of the system of papal provisions had given the papacy the preponderating authority in the selection of the bishops of the English Church. It was only by yielding to the popes, whenever it was possible, that Edward could secure the nomination of his own candidates to the chief ecclesiastical posts in his own realm.

In the earlier years of his reign Edward was luckier in his relations to the popes than to his own archbishops. But he found that his power at Rome broke down just where he wanted to exercise it most. He was disgusted to find how little influence he had in the selection of the Archbishops of Canterbury. Gregory X. sent to Canterbury the Dominican Robert Kilwardby, the first mendicant to hold high place in the English Church. Kilwardby was translated in 1278 to the cardinal bishopric of Porto, a post of greater dignity but less emolument and power than the English archbishopric. A cardinal bishop was bound to reside at Rome, and the real motive for this doubtful promotion was the desire to remove Kilwardby from England and to send a more active man in his place. Edward's indiscreet devotion to Bishop Burnell led him again to press his friend's claims, but, though he persuaded the monks of Christ Church to elect him, Nicholas III. quashed the appointment, and selected the Franciscan friar, John Peckham, as archbishop. Peckham, a famous theologian and physicist, had been a distinguished professor at Paris, Oxford, and Rome. He was high-minded, honourable and zealous, a saint as well as a scholar, an enthusiast for Church reform and a vigorous upholder of the extremest hierarchical pretensions. Fussy, energetic, tactless, he was the true type of the academic ecclesiastic, and alike in his personal qualities and his wonderful grasp of detail, he may be compared to Archbishop Laud. Though received by Edward with a rare magnanimity, Friar John allowed no personal considerations of gratitude to interpose between him and his duty. Reaching England in June, 1279, he presided, within six weeks of his landing, at a provincial council at Reading. In this gathering canons were passed against pluralities which frightened every benefice hunter among the clerks of the royal household. Orders were also issued for the periodical denunciation of ecclesiastical penalties against all violators of the Great Charter in a fashion that suggested that the king was an habitual offender against the fundamental laws of his realm.

Edward wrathfully laid the usurpations of the new primate before parliament, and forced Peckham to withdraw all the canons dealing with secular matters, and particularly those which concerned the Great Charter. The king set up the counter-claims of the State against the pretensions of the Church, and the estates passed the statute of Mortmain of 1279 as the layman's answer to the canons of Reading. Like most of Edward's laws the statute of Mortmain was based on earlier precedents. The wealth of the Church had long inspired statesmen with alarm, and a true follower of St. Francis like Peckham was specially convinced of the need of reducing the clergy to apostolic poverty. By the new law all grants of land to ecclesiastical corporations were expressly prohibited, under the penalty of the land being forfeited to its supreme lord. The statute was not a mere political weapon of the moment. It had a wider importance as a step in the development of Edward's anti-feudal policy, and may be regarded as a counterpart of the inquest into franchises, and as a means of protecting the State as well as of disciplining the Church. A corporation never died, and never paid reliefs or wardships. Its property never escheated for want of heirs, and, as scutages were passing out of fashion, ecclesiastics were less valuable to the king in times of war than lay lords. The recent exigencies of the Welsh war had emphasised the need of strengthening the military defences of the crown, and the new statute secured this by preventing the further devolution of lands into the dead hand of the Church. But all medieval laws were rather enunciations of an ideal than measures which practical statesmen aimed at carrying out in detail. The statute of Mortmain hardly stayed the creation of fresh monasteries and colleges, or the further endowment of old ones. All that was necessary for the pious founder was to obtain a royal dispensation from the operation of the statute. There was little need to fear that the new law would stand in the way of the power of the ecclesiastical estate.

A more distinct challenge to the Church was provoked by a further aggression of Peckham in 1281. In that year the primate summoned a council at Lambeth, wherein he sought to withdraw from the cognisance of the civil courts all suits concerning patronage and the disposition of the personal effects of ecclesiastics. To extend the jurisdiction of the forum ecclesiasticum was the surest way of exciting the hostility of the common lawyers and the king. Once more Edward annulled the proceedings of a council, and once more the submission of Peckham saved the land from a conflict which might have assumed the proportions of Becket's struggle against Henry II. Four years later Edward pressed his advantage still further by the royal ordinance of 1285, called Circumspecte agatis, which, though accepting the supremacy of the Church courts within their own sphere, narrowly defined the limits of their power in matters involving a temporal element. Again Peckham was fain to acquiesce. His policy had not only irritated the king, but alienated his fellow bishops. He visited his province with pertinacity and minuteness, and he was the less able to stand up against the king as he was engaged in violent quarrels with all his own suffragans. The leader of the bishops in resisting his claims was Thomas of Cantilupe. Restored to England by the liberal policy of Edward, Montfort's chancellor after Lewes had been raised to the see of Hereford, where his sanctity and devotion won him the universal love of his flock. Involved in costly lawsuits with the litigious primate, Thomas was forced to leave his diocese to plead his cause before the papal curia. He died in Italy in 1282, and his relics, carried back by his followers to his own cathedral, won the reputation of working miracles. A demand arose for his canonisation, and Edward before his death had secured the appointment of the papal commission, which, a few years later, added St. Thomas of Hereford to the list of saints.1 Thus the chancellor of Montfort obtained the honour of sanctity through the action of the victor of Evesham.

1 The processus canonisationis of Cantilupe, printed in the Bollandist Acta Sanctorum, Oct. 1, 539-705, illustrates many aspects of this period.
The second Welsh war interrupted both the conflict between Edward and the archbishop, and the course of domestic legislation. Yet even in the midst of his campaigns Edward issued the statute of Acton Burnell of 1283, which provided a better way of recovering merchants' debts, and the statute of Rhuddlan of 1284 for the regulation of the king's exchequer. The king's full activity as a lawgiver was renewed after the settlement of his conquest by the statute of Wales of 1284, and the legislation of his early years culminated in the two great acts of 1285, the statute of Westminster the Second, and the statute of Winchester. That year, which also witnessed the passing of the Circumspecte agatis, stands out as the most fruitful in lawmaking in the whole of Edward's reign.

The second statute of Westminster, passed in the spring parliament, partook of the comprehensive character of the first statute of that name. There were clauses by which, as the Canon of Oseney puts it, "Edward revived the ancient laws which had slumbered through the disturbance of the realm: some corrupted by abuse he restored to their proper form: some less evident and apparent he declared: some new ones, useful and honourable, he added". Among the more conspicuous innovations of the second statute of Westminster was the famous clause De donis conditionalibus, which forms a landmark in the law of real property. It facilitated the creation of entailed estates by providing that the rights of an heir of an estate, granted upon conditions, were not to be barred on account of the alienation of such an estate by its previous tenant. Thus arose those estates for life, which in later ages became a special feature of the English land system, and which, by restricting the control of the actual possessor of a property over his land, did much to perpetuate the worst features of medieval land-holding. It is a modern error to regard the legitimation of estates in tail as a triumph of reactionary feudalism over the will of Edward. Apart from the fact that there is not a tittle of contemporary evidence to justify such a view, it is manifest that the interest of the king was in this case exactly the same as that of each individual lord of a manor. The greater prospect of reversion to the donor, and the other features of the system of entails, which commended them to the petty baron, were still more attractive to the king, the greatest proprietor as well as the ultimate landlord of all the realm. Other articles of the Westminster statute were only less important than the clause De donis, notable among them being the institution of justices of nisi prius, appointed to travel through the shires three times a year to hear civil causes. This was part of the simplification and concentration of judicial machinery, whereby Edward made tolerable the circuit system which under Henry III. had been a prolific source of grievances.

While in the statute of Westminster Edward prepared for the future, the companion statute of Winchester, the work of the autumn parliament, revived the jurisdiction of the local courts; reformed the ancient system of watch and ward, and brought the ancient system of popular courts into harmony with the jurisdiction emanating from the crown, which had gone so far towards superseding it. This measure marks the culmination of Edward's activity as a lawgiver. During the five next years there were no more important statutes.


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