HumanitiesWeb HumanitiesWeb
Sort By Author Sort By Title

Sort By Author
Sort By Title


Get Your Degree!

Find schools and get information on the program that’s right for you.

Powered by Campus Explorer

& etc

All Rights Reserved.

Site last updated
28 October, 2012
Real Time Analytics
The History of England from the Accession of Henry III. to the Death of Edward III. (1216-1377)
The Sicilian And The Scottish Arbitrations
by Tout, T.F. (M.A.)

Edward I. had now attained the height of his fame. He had conquered Llewelyn; he had reformed the administration; he had put himself as a lawmaker in the same rank as St. Louis or Frederick II.; and he had restored England to a leading position in the councils of Europe. Moreover, he had won a character for justice and fairness which did him even greater service, since the several deaths of prominent sovereigns during 1285 left him almost alone of his generation among princes of a lesser stature. Of the chief rulers of Europe in the early years of Edward's reign, Rudolf of Hapsburg alone survived; and the King of the Romans had little weight outside Germany many. Edward had outlived his brother-in-law Alfonso of Castile, his cousin Philip the Bold, his uncle Charles of Anjou, and Peter of Aragon. But the conflicts, in which these kings had been engaged, were continued by their successors. Above all, the contest for Sicily still raged. The successors of Martin IV., though deprived of the active support of France, would not abandon the claims of the captive Charles of Salerno; and James of Aragon, Peter's second son, maintained himself in Sicily, despite papal censures and despite the virtual desertion of his cause by his elder brother, Alfonso III., the new king of Aragon. Each side was at a standstill, though each side struggled on. The personal hatreds, which made it impossible to reconcile the older generation, were dying out, and the chief obstacle in the way of a settlement was the stubbornness of the papacy. If any one could reconcile the quarrel, it was the King of England; and to him Charles' sons and the nobles of his dominions appealed to procure his release.

Edward was anxious to proffer his services as a peacemaker. The dream of a Europe, united for the liberation of the holy places, had not been expelled from his mind by his schemes for the advancement of his kingdom. If he could inspire his neighbour kings with something of his spirit, the crusade might still be possible. Other matters also called Edward's attention to the continent. He had to do homage to the new French king; he had to press for the execution of the treaty of Amiens, and his presence was again necessary in Gascony. His realm was in such profound peace that he could safely leave it. Accordingly in May, 1286, he took ship for France. With him went his wife Eleanor of Castile, his chancellor Bishop Burnell, and a large number of his nobles. He entrusted the regency to his cousin, Edmund, Earl of Cornwall, the son and successor of Earl Richard; and England saw him no more until August, 1289. Edward first made his way to Amiens, where he met the new King of France, Philip the Fair. The two kings went together to Paris, where Edward spent two months. There he performed homage for Gascony, and made a new agreement as to the execution of the treaty of Amiens, by which he renounced his claims over Quercy for a money payment, and was put in possession of Saintonge, south of the Charente. The settlement was the easier as for the moment neither king had his supreme interest in Gascony. Edward's real business was to make peace between Anjou and Aragon, and Philip IV. showed every desire to help him. Before Edward left Paris, he had negotiated a truce between the Kings of France and Aragon. Soon afterwards he went to Bordeaux. He made Gascony his headquarters for three years, and strove with all his might to convert the truce into a peace.

Grave obstacles arose, chief among which was the determination of the papacy to make no terms with the King of Aragon so long as his brother still reigned over Sicily. Honorius IV., in approving Edward's preliminary action, and exhorting him to obtain the liberation of the Prince of Salerno, carefully guarded himself against recognising the schismatic Aragonese. Edward himself was no partisan of either side. He was heartily anxious for peace and desirous to free his kinsman from the rigours of his long imprisonment. His wish for a close alliance between England and Aragon was unacceptable to the partisanship both of Honorius IV. and his successor Nicholas IV. Papal coldness, however, did not turn Edward from his course. In the summer of 1287 he met Alfonso at Oloron in Béarn, where a treaty was drawn up by which the Aragonese king agreed to release Charles of Salerno on condition that he would either, within three years, procure from the pope the recognition of James in Sicily, or return to captivity and forfeit Provence. Besides this, an alliance between England and Aragon was to be cemented by the marriage of one of Edward's daughters to Alfonso. Delighted with the success of his undertaking, Edward, on his return to Bordeaux, again took the cross and prepared to embark on the crusade.

Nicholas IV. interposed between Edward and his vows by denouncing the treaty of Oloron.1 Though well-meaning, he was not strong enough to shake himself free from partisan traditions, and though honestly anxious to bring about a crusade, he could not see that he made the holy war impossible by interposing obstacles in the way of the one prince who seriously intended to take the cross. While denouncing Edward's treaty, Nicholas encouraged his crusading zeal by granting him a new ecclesiastical tenth for six years, a tax made memorable by the fact that it occasioned the stringent valuation of benefices, called the taxation of Pope Nicholas, which was the standard clerical rate-book until the reign of Henry VIII. Despite the pope, Edward still persevered in his mediation, and in October, 1288, a new treaty for Charles' liberation was signed at Canfranc, in Aragon, which only varied in details from the agreement of 1287. Charles was released, but he straightway made his way to Rome, where Nicholas absolved him from his oath and crowned him King of Sicily. Edward was bitterly disappointed. He tarried in the south until July, 1289, usefully employed in promoting the prosperity of his duchy, crushing conspiracies, furthering the commerce of Bordeaux, and founding new bastides. At last tidings of disorder at home called him back to his kingdom before the purpose of his continental sojourn had been accomplished. But he still pressed on his thankless task, and in 1291 peace was made at Tarascon, between Aragon and the Roman see, on the hard condition of Alfonso abandoning his brother's cause. On Alfonso's death soon afterwards the war was renewed, for James then united the Sicilian and Aragonese thrones and would not yield up either. It was not until 1295 that Boniface VIII., a stronger pope than Nicholas, ended the struggle on terms which left the stubborn Aragonese masters of Sicily.

1 For his policy, see O. Schiff, Studien zur Geschichte P. Nikolaus IV. (1897).
Things had not gone well in England during Edward's absence. Edmund of Cornwall had shown vigour in putting down the revolt of Rhys, but he was not strong enough to control either the greater barons or the officers of the crown. Grave troubles were already brewing in Scotland. A fierce quarrel between the Earls of Gloucester and Hereford broke out with regard to the boundaries of Glamorgan and Brecon, and the private war between the two marchers proved more formidable to the peace of the realm than the revolt of the Welsh prince. Even more disastrous to the country was the scandalous conduct of the judges and royal officials, who profited by the king's absence to pile up fortunes at the expense of his subjects. The highest judges of the land forged charters, condoned homicides, sold judgments, and practised extortion and violence. A great cry arose for the king's return. In the Candlemas parliament of 1289 Earl Gilbert of Gloucester met a request for a general aid by urging that nothing should be granted until Englishmen once more saw the king's face. Alarmed at this threat, Edward returned, and landed at Dover on August 12, 1289.

The whole situation was changed by the king's arrival. Edward met the innumerable complaints against his subordinates by dismissing nearly all the judges from office, and appointing a special commission to investigate the charges brought against royal officials of every rank. Thomas Weyland, chief justice of the common pleas, anticipated inquiry by taking sanctuary with the Franciscan friars of Bury St. Edmunds. A knight and a married man, he had taken subdeacon's orders in early life and sought to little purpose to be protected by his clergy. His refuge was watched by the local sheriffs; finally, he was starved into surrender, and suffered to abjure the realm.1 He fled to France, whence he never returned. For some years the commission investigated the offences of the ministers of the crown. Though much that was irregular was proved against them, many charges broke down under inquiry, and, as time went on, the official class saw that their interest lay in condoning rather than in punishing scandals. Some of the worst offenders, such as the greedy and corrupt Adam of Stratton, were never restored to office;2 but Hengham, the chief justice of the King's Bench, was soon reinstated. There were not enough good lawyers in England to make it prudent for Edward to dispense with the services of such a man. A rigorous maintenance of a high standard of official morality meant getting rid of nearly all the king's ministers, and any successors would have been inferior in experience and not superior in honesty. Edward had to work with such material as he had, and on the whole he made the best of it. Scandalous as were the proceedings of his agents, their iniquities are but trifles as compared with the offences of the counsellors of Philip the Fair.

1 For the abjuratio regni see A. Réville in the  Revue Historique, 1. (1892), 1-42.

2 For Adam of Stratton see Hall, Red Book of the Excheque, iii., cccxv.-cccxxxi. Extracts from the Assize rolls recording the proceedings of the special commission will soon be published by the Royal Historical Society.
Fear of Edward drove nobles into obedience as well as ministers into honesty. Gloucester desisted unwillingly from his attacks on Brecon, and was constrained to divorce his wife and marry the king's daughter, Joan of Acre. In becoming the king's son-in-law, he was forced to surrender his estates to the crown, receiving them back entailed on the heirs of the marriage or, in their default, on the heirs of Joan. Thus the system of entails made possible by the statute De donis was used by Edward to strengthen his hold over the most powerful of his feudatories and increase the prospect of his estates escheating to the crown. Considered in this light, Gilbert's marriage with the king's daughter seems less a reward of loyalty than a punishment for lawlessness. In the same year as this marriage, Edward passed another law directed against the baronage. This was the statute of Westminster the Third, called from its opening words, Quia emptore. It enacted that, when part of an estate was alienated by its lord, the grantee should not be permitted to become the subtenant of the grantor, but should stand to the ultimate lord of the fief in the same feudal relation as the grantor himself. This prohibition of further subinfeudation stopped the creation of new manors and prevented the rivetting of new links in the feudal chain, which were the necessary condition of its strength. Though passed at the request of the barons, it was a measure much more helpful to the king than to his vassals. It stood to the barons as the statute of Mortmain stood to the Church.

Edward was bent on showing that he was master, and his new son-in-law and the Earl of Hereford became the victims of his policy. He forced the reluctant Gloucester to admit that the pretensions of the lord of Glamorgan to be the overlord of the bishop of LLandaff and the guardian of the temporalities of the see during a vacancy were usurpations. Seeing that his marcher prerogatives were thus rapidly becoming undermined, Gloucester put the most cherished marcher right to the test by renewing the private war with the Earl of Hereford which had disturbed the realm during Edward's absence. The king issued peremptory orders for the immediate cessation of hostilities. These mandates Hereford obeyed, but Gloucester did not. Resolved that law not force was henceforth to settle disputes in the march, Edward summoned a novel court at Ystradvellte, in Brecon, wherein a jury from the neighbouring shires and liberties was to decide the case between the two earls in the presence of the chief marchers. Gloucester refused to appear, and the marchers declined to take part in the trial, pleading that it was against their liberties. The case was adjourned to give the recalcitrants every chance, and after a preliminary report by the judges, Edward resolved to hear the suit in person. In October, 1291, he presided at Abergavenny over the court before which the earls were arraigned. They were condemned to imprisonment and forfeiture. Content with humbling their pride and annihilating their privileges, Edward suffered them to redeem themselves from captivity by the payment of heavy fines, and before long gave them back their lands. The king's victory was so complete that neither of the earls could forgive it. In 1295, Gloucester died, without opportunity of revenge; but Hereford lived on, brooding over his wrongs, and in later years signally avenged the trial at Abergavenny. Meanwhile the conqueror of the principality had shown unmistakably that the liberties of the march were an anachronism, since the marchers had no longer the work of defending English interests against the Welsh nation.1

1 Mr. J.E. Morris in chap. vi. of his Welsh Wars of Edward I. has admirably summarised this suit. See also G.T. Clark's Land of Morgan.
Another measure that followed Edward's home-coming was the expulsion of the Jews. Despite constant odium and intermittent persecution, the Jewish financiers who had settled in England after the Norman conquest steadily improved their position down to the reign of Henry III. The personal dependants of the crown, they were well able to afford to share their gains from usury with their protectors. They lived in luxury, built stone houses, set up an organisation of their own, and even purchased lands. Henry III.'s financial embarrassments forced him to rely upon them, and the alliance of the Jews and the crown stimulated the religious bigotry of the popular party to ill-treat the Jews during the Barons' War. Stories of Jews murdering Christian children were eagerly believed; and the cult of St. Hugh of Lincoln and St. William of Norwich,1 two pretended victims of Hebrew cruelty, testified to the hatred which Englishmen bore to the race.

1 See for this saint, Thomas of Monmouth, Life and Miracles of St. William of Norwich, ed. Jessopp and James (1896).
Under Edward I. the condition of the Jews became more precarious. The king hated them alike on religious and economical grounds. He rigorously insisted that they should wear a distinctive dress, and at last altogether prohibited usury. Driven from their chief means of earning their living, the Jews had recourse to clipping and sweating the coin. Indiscriminate severities did little to abate these evils. Meanwhile active missionary efforts were made to win over the Jews to the Christian faith. They were compelled to listen to long sermons from mendicant friars, and their obstinacy in adhering to their own creed was denounced as a deliberate offence against the light. Peckham shut up their synagogues, and Eleanor of Provence, who had entered a convent, joined with the archbishop in urging her son to take severe measures against them. There was a similar movement in France, and Edward, during his long stay abroad, had expelled the Jews from Aquitaine. In 1290 he applied the same policy to England, and their exile was so popular an act that parliament made him a special grant as a thankoffering. But though Edward thus drove the Jews to seek new homes beyond sea, he allowed them to carry their property with them, and punished the mariners who took advantage of the helplessness of their passengers to rob and murder them. Though individual Jews were found from time to time in England during the later middle ages, their official re-establishment was only allowed in the seventeenth century.1

1 For the Jews see J. Jacobs, Jews in Angevin England; Tovey, Anglia Judaica; J.M. Rigg, Select Pleas of the Jewish Exchequer; and for their exile B.L. Abrahams, Expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290.
Two generations at least before their expulsion, the Jews had been outrivalled in their financial operations by societies of Italian bankers, whose admirable organisation and developed system of credit enabled them to undertake banking operations of a magnitude quite beyond the means of the Hebrews. First brought into England as papal agents for remitting to Rome the spoils of the Church, they found means of evading the canonical prohibitions of usury, and became the loanmongers of prince and subject alike. To the crown the Italians were more useful than the Jews had been. The value of the Jews to the monarch had been in the special facilities enjoyed by him in taxing them. The utility of the Italian societies was in their power of advancing sums of money that enabled the king to embark on enterprises hitherto beyond the limited resources of the medieval state. The Italians financed all Edward's enterprises from the crusade of 1270 to his Welsh and Scottish campaigns. From them Edward and his son borrowed at various times sums amounting to almost half a million of the money of the time. In return the Italians, chief among whom was the Florentine Society of the Frescobaldi, obtained privileges which made them as deeply hated as ever the Hebrews had been.1

1 See on this subject E.A. Bond's article in Archæologia, vol. xxviii., pp. 207-326; W.E. Rhodes, Italian Bankers in England under Edward I. and II. in Owens Coll. Historical Essays, pp. 137-68; and R.J. Whitwell, Italian Bankers and the English Crown in Transactions of Royal Hist. Soc., N.S., xvii. (1903), pp. 175-234.
Among the troubles which had called Edward back from Gascony was the condition of Scotland, where a long period of prosperity had ended with the death of Edward's brother-in-law, Alexander III., in 1286. Alexander III. attended his brother-in-law's coronation in 1274, and the irritation excited by his limiting his homage to his English lordships of Tynedale and Penrith did not cause any great amount of friction. But the homage question was only postponed, and at Michaelmas, 1278, Alexander was constrained to perform unconditionally this unwelcome act. "I, Alexander King of Scotland," were his words, "become the liege man of the lord Edward, King of England, against all men." But by carefully refraining from specifying for what he became Edward's vassal, Alexander still suggested that it was for his English lordships. Edward with equal caution declared that he received the homage, "saving his right and claim to the homage of Scotland when he may wish to speak concerning it". Both parties were content with mutual protestations. Edward was so friendly to Alexander that he allowed him to appoint Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick, his proxy in professing fealty, so as to minimise the king's feeling of humiliation. The King of Scots went home loaded with presents, and for the rest of his life his relations with Edward remained cordial.

The closing years of Alexander's reign were overshadowed by domestic misfortunes and the prospects of difficulties about the succession. His wife, Margaret of England, had died in 1275, and was followed to the tomb by their two sons, Alexander and David. A delicate girl, Margaret, then alone represented the direct line of the descendants of William the Lion. Margaret was married, when still young, to Eric, King of Norway, and died in 1283 in giving birth to her only child, a daughter named Margaret. No children were born of Alexander's second marriage; and in March, 1286, the king broke his neck, when riding by night along the cliffs of the coast of Fife. Before his death, however, he persuaded the magnates of Scotland to recognise his granddaughter as his successor. The Maid of Norway, as Margaret was called, was proclaimed queen, and the administration was put into the hands of six guardians, who from 1286 to 1289 carried on the government with fair success. As time went on, the baronage got out of hand and a feud between the rival south-western houses of Balliol and Bruce foreshadowed worse troubles.

William Eraser, Bishop of St. Andrews, the chief of the regents, visited Edward in Gascony and urged the necessity of action. The best solution of all problems was that the young Queen of Scots should be married to Edward of Carnarvon, a boy a few months her junior. But both the Scots nobles and the King of Norway were jealous and suspicious, and any attempt to hurry forward such a proposal would have been fatal to its accomplishment. However, negotiations were entered into between England, Scotland, and Norway. In 1289 the guardians of Scotland agreed to nominate representatives to treat on the matter. Edward took up his quarters at Clarendon, while his agents, conspicuous among whom was Anthony Bek, Bishop of Durham, negotiated with the envoys of Norway and Scotland. On November 6 the three powers concluded the treaty of Salisbury, by which they agreed that Margaret should be sent to England or Scotland before All Saints' Day, 1290, "free and quit of all contract of marriage or espousals". Edward promised that if Margaret came into his custody he would, as soon as Scotland was tranquil, hand her over to the Scots as "free and quit" as when she came to him; and the "good folk of Scotland" engaged that, if they received their queen thus free, they would not marry her "save with the ordinance, will, and counsel of Edward and with the agreement of the King of Norway". In March, 1290, a parliament of Scots magnates met at Brigham, near Kelso, and ratified the treaty. Fresh negotiations were begun for the marriage of Edward of Carnarvon and the Queen of Scots, resulting in the treaty of Brigham of July 18, which Edward confirmed a month later at Northampton. By this Edward agreed that, in the event of the marriage taking place, the laws and customs of Scotland should be perpetually maintained. Should Margaret die without issue, Scotland was to go to its natural heir, and in any case was to remain "separate and divided from the realm of England".

The treaty of Brigham was as wise a scheme as could have been devised for bringing about the unity of Britain. In the care taken to meet the natural scruples of the smaller nation we are reminded of the treaty of Union of 1707. But a nearer parallel is to be found in the conditions under which the union between France and Brittany was gradually accomplished after the marriage of Anne of Brittany. In both cases alike, in France and in England, the stronger party was content with securing the personal union of the two crowns, and strove to reconcile the weaker party by providing safeguards against violent or over-rapid amalgamation. It was left for the future to decide whether the habit of co-operation, continued for generations, might not ultimately involve a more organic union. Unluckily for this island, the policy which ultimately made the stubborn Celts of Brittany content with union with France, never had a chance of being carried out here. Edward made every preparation for bringing over the Maid of Norway to her kingdom and her husband, and neither the Scots nor the Norwegians grudged his leading share in accomplishing their common wishes. But the child's health gave way before the hardships of the journey. Before All Saints' day had come round, she died in one of the Orkneys, where the ship which conveyed her had put in.

The death of the queen threatened Scotland with revolution. The regents' commission became of doubtful legality, and a swarm of claimants for the vacant throne arose, whose resources, if not their rights, were sufficiently evenly balanced to make civil strife inevitable. Since southern Scotland had become a wholly feudal, largely Norman, and partly English state, there had been no grave difficulties with regard to the succession. Now that they arose, there was doubt as to the principles on which claims to the throne should be settled. There was no legitimate representative left of the stock of William the Lion. The male line of his brother David, Earl of Huntingdon, had died out with John the Scot, the last independent Earl of Chester. The nearest claimants to the succession were therefore to be found in the descendants of David's three daughters. But there was no certainty that any rights could be transmitted through the female line. Moreover there was a doubt whether, allowing that a woman could transmit the right to rule, the succession should proceed according to primogeniture or in accordance with the nearness of the claimant to the source of his claim. If the former view were held then John of Balliol, lord of Barnard castle in Durham and of Galloway in Scotland, had the best right as the grandson of Earl David's eldest daughter. Yet less than a century before, the passing over of Arthur of Brittany in favour of his uncle John, had recalled to men's mind the ancient doctrine that a younger son is nearer to the parent stock than a grandson sprung from his elder brother; and if the view, then expressed in the History of William the Marshal,1 was still to hold good, Robert Bruce, lord of Skelton in Yorkshire, and of Annandale in the northern kingdom, was the nearest in blood to David of Huntingdon as the son of his second daughter. Beyond this there was the further question of the divisibility of the kingdom. So fully was southern Scotland feudalised that it seemed arguable that the monarchy, or at least its demesne lands, might be divided among all the representatives of the coheiresses, after the fashion in which the Huntingdon estates had been allotted to all the representatives of Earl David. In that case John of Hastings, lord of Abergavenny, put in a claim as the grandson of Earl David's youngest daughter.

1 Hist. de Guillaume le Maréchal, ii., 64, II. 11899-902.
Oil, sire, quer c'est raison
Quer plus près est sanz achaison
Le filz de la terre son père
Que le niês: dreiz est qu'il i père.
When so much was uncertain, every noble who boasted any connexion with the royal house safeguarded his interests, or advertised his pedigree, by enrolling himself among the claimants. Five or six of the competitors had no better ground of right than descent from bastards of the royal house, especially from the numerous illegitimate offspring of William the Lion. The others went back to more remote ancestors. A foreign prince, Florence, Count of Holland, demanded the succession as a descendant of a sister of Earl David, declaring that David had forfeited his rights by rebellion. John Comyn, lord of Badenoch, brought forward his descent from Donaldbane, brother of Malcolm Canmore. One claim reads like a fairy tale, with stories of an unknown king dying, leaving a son to be murdered by a wicked uncle, and a daughter to escape to obscurity in Ireland, where she married and transmitted her rights to her children. There was no authority in Scotland strong enough to decide these claims. Once more Robert Bruce raised the standard of disorder, and the appeal of Bishop Fraser to Edward to undertake the settlement of the question showed that the English king's mediation was the readiest way of restoring order.

In 1291 Edward summoned the magnates of both realms, along with certain popular representatives, to meet at Norham, Bishop Bek's border castle on the Tweed. Trained civilians and canonists also attended, while abbeys and churches contributed extracts from chronicles, carefully compiled by royal order, with a view of illustrating the king's claims. On May 10 Edward met the assembly in Norham parish church. Roger Brabazon, the chief justice, declared in the French tongue that Edward was prepared to do justice to the claimants as "superior and direct lord of Scotland". Before, however, he could act, his master required that his overlordship should be recognised by the Scots. It is likely that this demand was not unexpected. Even in the treaty of Brigham Edward had been careful not to withdraw his claim of superiority, and his action with relation to Alexander III.'s homage was well known. But the sensitiveness which their late king had shown in the face of Edward's earlier claims was shared by the Scots lords, and shrinking from recognising facts which they ought to have faced before they solicited his intervention, they begged for delay and drew up remonstrances. Edward granted them, a respite for three weeks, though he swore by St. Edward that he would rather die than diminish the rights due to the Confessor's crown. He had already summoned the northern levies, and was prepared to enforce his claim by force. His uncompromising attitude put the Scots in an awkward position. But they had gone to Norham to get his help, and they were not prepared to run the risk of an English invasion as well as civil war. Most of the claimants had as many interests in England as in Scotland, and a breach with Edward would involve the forfeiture of their southern lands as well as the loss of a possible kingdom in the north. When the magnates reassembled, the competitors set the example of acknowledging Edward as overlord. Fresh demands followed their submission, and were at once conceded. Edward was to have seisin of Scotland and its royal castles, though he pledged himself to return both land and fortresses to him who should be chosen king.

Edward then undertook the examination of the suit. He delegated the hearing of the claims to a commission, of whom the great majority, eighty, were Scotsmen, nominated in equal numbers by Bruce and Balliol, the two senior competitors, while the remaining twenty-four consisted of Englishmen, and included many of Edward's wisest counsellors. In deference to Scottish feeling, Edward ordered the court to meet on Scottish territory, at Berwick, and appointed August 2 for the opening day. Meanwhile the full consequences of the Scottish submission were carried out. On Edward's taking seisin of Scotland, the regency came to an end. The nomination of the provisional government resting with Edward, he reappointed the former regents, and allowed the Scots barons to elect their chancellor. But with the regents Edward associated a northern baron, Brian Fitzalan of Bedale, and the Scottish bishop, who was appointed chancellor, had to act jointly with one of Edward's clerks. Edward then made a short progress, reaching as far as Stirling and St. Andrews. He was back at Berwick for the meeting of the commissioners on August 2.

The first session of the court was a brief one. The twelve competitors put in their claims, and Bruce and Balliol supported theirs by argument. However, on August 12, the trial was adjourned for nearly a year, until June 2, 1292. On its resumption in Edward's presence, the more difficult issues were carefully worked out. A new and fantastic claim, sent in by Eric of Norway, as the nearest of kin to his daughter, did not delay matters. The judges were instructed to settle in the first instance the relative claims of Bruce and Balliol, and also to decide by what law these should be determined. On October 14, they declared their first judgment. They rejected Bruce's plea that the decision should follow the "natural law by which kings rule," and accepted Balliol's contention that they should follow the laws of England and Scotland. They further laid down that the law of succession to the throne was that of other earldoms and dignities. They pronounced in favour of primogeniture as against proximity of blood.

These decisions practically settled the case, but a further adjournment was resolved upon, and upon the reassembling of the court on November 6 the only question still open, that of whether the kingdom could be divided, was taken up. John of Hastings came on the scene with the contention that the monarchy should be divided among the representatives of Earl David's daughters. Bruce had the effrontery to associate himself with Hastings' demand. A short adjournment was arranged to settle this issue, and on November 17 the final scene took place in the hall of Berwick castle. Besides the commissioners, the king was there in full parliament, and eleven claimants, who still persevered, were present or represented by proxy. Nine of these were severally told that they would obtain nothing by their petitions. Bruce was informed that his claim to the whole was incompatible with his present claim for a third. It was laid down that the kingdom of Scotland was indivisible, and that the right of Balliol had been established.

The seal of the regency was broken: Edward handed over the seisin of Scotland to John Balliol, who three days later took the oath of fealty as King of Scots, promising that he would perform all the service due to Edward from his kingdom, Balliol hurried to his kingdom, and was crowned at Scone on St. Andrew's day. He then returned to England, and kept Christmas with his overlord at Newcastle, where, on December 26, he did homage to Edward in the castle hall. But within a few days a difficulty arose. John resented Edward's retaining the jurisdiction over a law-suit in which a Berwick merchant, a Scotsman, was a party. He was reassured by Edward that he only did so, because the case had arisen during the vacancy, when Edward was admittedly ruling Scotland. But Edward significantly added a reservation of his right of hearing appeals, even in England; and when the King of Scots went back to his realm, early in January, he must have already foreseen that there was trouble to come.

Edward never lost sight of his own interests, and it is clear that he took full advantage of the needs of the Scots to establish a close supremacy over the northern kingdom. Making allowance for this sinister element, his general policy in dealing with the great suit had been singularly prudent and correct. He was anxious to ascertain the right heir; he gave the Scots a preponderating voice in the tribunal; he rejected the temptation which Bruce and Hastings dangled before him of splitting up the realm into three parts, and he restored the land and its castles as soon as the suit was settled. There is nothing to show that up to this point his action had produced any resentment in Scotland, and little evidence that there was any strong national feeling involved. Scottish chroniclers, who wrote after the war of independence, have given a colour to Edward's policy which contemporary evidence does not justify. From the point of his generation, his action was just and legal. He had, in fact, performed a signal service to Scotland in vindicating its unity; and by maintaining the rigid doctrines of Anglo-Norman jurisprudence, he rescued it from the vague philosophy which Bruce called natural law, and the recrudescence of Celtic custom that gave even bastards a hope of the succession. The real temptation came when, after his triumph, Edward sought to extract from the submission of the Scots consequences which had no warranty in custom, and made Scottish resistance inevitable.

The expulsion of the Jews, the reform of the administration, the statute Quia emptores, the treaty of Tarascon, the humiliation of Gloucester, and the successful issue of the Scottish arbitration, mark the culminating point in the reign of Edward I. The king had ruled twenty years with almost uniform success, and his only serious disappointment had been the failure of the crusade. The last hope of the Latin East faded when, in 1291, Acre, so long the bulwark of the crusaders against the Turks, opened its gates to the infidel. With the fall of Acre went the last chance of the holy war. Before long the peace of Europe, which Edward thought that he had established, was once more rudely disturbed. Difficulties soon arose with Scotland, with France, with the Church, and with the barons. These troubles bore the more severely on the king because this period saw also the removal of nearly all of those in whom he had placed special trust. The gracious Eleanor of Castile died in 1290, at Harby, in Nottinghamshire, near Lincoln,1 and the devotion of the king to the partner of his youth found a striking expression in the sculptured crosses, which marked the successive resting-places of her corpse on its last journey from Harby to Westminster Abbey. A few months later Edward's mother, Eleanor of Castile, ended her long life in the convent of Amesbury, in Wiltshire. The ministers of Edward's early reign were also removed by death. Bishop Kirkby, the treasurer, died in 1290, and Burnell, the chancellor, in 1292, soon after he had performed his last public act in the declaration of the king's judgment as to the Scottish succession. Archbishop Peckham died in the same year. New domestic ties were formed, and fresh ministers were found, but the ageing king became more and more lonely, as he was compelled to rely upon a younger and a less faithful generation. Of his old comrades the chief remaining was Henry Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, while the removal of Burnell brought forward to the first rank prelates whose position had hitherto been somewhat obscured by his predominance. Prominent among these were the brothers Thomas Bek, Bishop of St. David's, and Anthony Bek, Bishop of Durham, members of a conspicuous Lincolnshire baronial family. Both of these for a time strikingly combined devotion to the royal service with loyalty to those clerical and aristocratic traditions which, strictly interpreted, were almost incompatible with faithful service to a secular monarch. Even more important henceforth was the king's treasurer, Walter Langton, Bishop of Lichfield, the most trusted minister of Edward's later life, a faithful but not too scrupulous prelate of the ministerial type, who stood to the second half of the reign in almost the same close relation as that in which Burnell stood to the years which we have now traversed.

1 See for this W.H. Stevenson, Death of Eleanor of Castile, in English Hist. Review, iii. (1888), pp. 315-318.


Terms Defined

Referenced Works