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Philip. In the extremities in which Edward found himself for want of money, he disregarded the charter, and practised extortion; but in his attempts to raise money in an arbitrary way, he was boldly resisted by the Earls of Hereford and Norfolk. He threatened to hang them, but was soon compelled to yield and to promise that no tax should be levied but by the will of the Commons. This was the concession of a most important right, and out of it grew the present power of the House of Commons.
In the meanwhile, the oppressions practised by the English in Scotland roused the spirit of resistance amongst its people. It was then that the immortal Wallace led on his countrymen to glory and victory. The Scottish nobility felt jealous of a leader of birth inferior to their own, and when Edward appeared with an army of 100,000 men, he defeated the Scots with great loss at Falkirk (1298). But the spirit of the people was not John Comyn took the command. The Eng
to be quenched.
lish were defeated, and again Edward was compelled to march northward, at the head of an immense army, and accompanied by a fleet. Victory as usual followed his footsteps. After completing the conquest, he endeavoured to establish English laws and customs, and sought by every means to incorporate the kingdom with England. A large sum was offered for the person of William Wallace; and a man whom he trusted as his friend, Sir John Monteith, betrayed him. He was brought in chains to London, and the barbarous death there inflicted on this heroic man, must ever be the disgrace of Edward and of the age in which he lived. Soon after this event young Robert Bruce, grandson of the competitor of Balliol, escaping from England, presented himself to the Scots as their lawful king, and as such was crowned. He assembled his partisans and seized the castles, and Edward had to begin the work of conquest afresh. Full of wrath and vowing extermination, Edward had reached Carlisle, on his way to Scotland, when he was taken ill. He died in 1307; but before his death, he obliged his son to take an oath that he would not desist till he had completely subdued Scotland.
PARLIAMENT THE LAW.
During this reign not only was the Great Charter observed, but Parliament gained for itself distinct recognition, and by its power of granting or refusing supplies was enabled to extort privileges from the Crown. As knights of shires and deputies from burghs had seats in Parliament, it may be regarded, even at this early period, as representing the middle classes as well as the aristocracy and the church. Many statutes were passed during Edward the Third's reign for the better administration of justice, and for the prevention of corruption.
Cotemporary Events.-France: Philip Iv. (Le Bel) (1285). Scotland: Margaret of Norway (1286). John Balliol (1291). Robert Bruce (1306). The Christians expelled from Palestine (1291). Sicilian Vespers (1282). Franciscans and Dominicans founded in the thirteenth century. Popes of distinction: Innocent III. (1198-1226.) Boniface VIII. (1294-1305.)
Questions.-1. How did Edward 1. occupy the earlier part of his reign? 2. In what war did he first engage; and what was its result? 3. Write an account of the circumstances which led to the battle of Falkirk. 4. What progress did Parliament make in this reign?
10. Edward II. (surnamed Caernarvon.)
THE KING'S INCAPACITY-REBELLION OF BARONS-DEFEAT AT BANNOCKBURN-GENERAL MISRULE AND DEPOSITION OF THE KING.
The only events that marked the reign of this weak monarch were, the insurrections of the barons against himself and his two successive favourites, Piers Gaveston and Hugh Despencer. Gaveston was executed at Warwick Castle in 1312. These insurrections were headed by the Earl of Lancaster, the king's Henry III. cousin, who endeavoured to strengthen his party by an alliance with Scotland. Lancaster, in one of these Edward II. Edward, earl of Lancaster. revolts, was made prisoner, and beheaded, by Edward's order, at Pomfret Castle (1322).
By the victory gained over the English at Bannockburn (1314), the independence of Scotland was secured. The Scots, on that important day, were commanded by Robert Bruce, to whose genius and heroism they owed their success.
Edward's queen, Isabella, who entertained no friendly feelings towards her husband, visited the court of her father, Philip IV., king of France, on pretext of arranging some difficulty that had arisen on the subject of Guienne. While there, she became the leading spirit among the English malcontents and refugees; and collecting an army of 3000 men, she landed in England, proclaiming that her sole purpose was to free the king and kingdom from the oppression exercised by favourites. After Despencer's execution (1327), she summoned, in the king's name, a Parliament at Westminster, which deposed Edward on the ground of his incapacity to govern, proved by his neglect of public business, and his suffering himself to be swayed by evil counsellors. To these causes they attributed the loss of Scotland and of part of Guienne. The king was imprisoned, and shortly after, by order of the queen's paramour, Roger Mortimer, was barbarously murdered in Berkeley Castle by Lords Montravers and Gournay (1327).
It may at first surprise us to find a whole nation so dependent for its happiness and wellbeing on the will of one man. But if we remember that, at this time, when the king was sole administrator, his influence would necessarily be quickly felt by every class in the nation, our surprise will cease. The transition from the reign of the first to the second Edward, is one from a well-administered monarchy to a state of anarchy, corruption, and general misery, simply because the son fell so far short of the father in intellect, will, and a sense of justice.
Cotemporary Events.-France: Philip IV. Louis X. John 1. Philip v. Charles IV.
Scotland: Robert 1. The Swiss assert their independence (1308). The Popes remove from Rome to Avignon (1308), where they resided for 70 years.
Questions.-1. What was Edward the Second's character? 2. What led to the insurrection of the barons and the final deposition of the king?
THE HUNDRED YEARS' WAR WITH FRANCE PROVOKED BY EDWARD III. ASSUMING THE TITLE OF KING OF THAT COUNTRY, AND WHICH WAS TERMINATED BY THE EXPULSION OF THE ENGLISH IN 1453-PROGRESS OF PARLIAMENT ADOPTION OF THE SAXON TONGUE IN THE COURTS OF LAW.
[During this Epoch flourished Chaucer the father of English poetry and Wycliffe the reformer.]
1. Edward III.
FAILURE IN SCOTLAND-WAR FOR THE FRENCH CROWN-BATTLE OF CRESSY -SIEGE OF CALAIS-POICTIERS-DEATH OF THE BLACK PRINCE-PROGRESS OF PARLIAMENT-INTRODUCTION OF THE CLOTH MANUFACTURE
Edward II. married Isabella of France Edward III.
THE king being minor, Mortimer assumed the direction of
affairs. The unfortunate issue of an expedition against Scotland, and the disgust felt at seeing the queen-dowager Isabella and Mortimer living together, excited general discontent. This feeling Mortimer attempted to overawe by inspiring terror, and, with this view, he ordered, on some false pretext, the execution of his enemy the Earl of Kent, brother of Edward II. But as soon as Edward III.
EDWARD'S CLAIM TO THE THRONE OF FRANCE. [A.D. 1334.
had reached his eighteenth year, he resolved to free himself and the kingdom from this odious thraldom. Accordingly, accompanied by some friends, he entered the castle of Nottingham, and there seized Mortimer, who, without trial, was condemned by Parliament and hanged at Tyburn, near London (1330).
Edward, pursuing the policy of his grandfather, first directed his energies to the subjection of Scotland. He supported the title of Edward Balliol, who promised homage and fealty, in opposition to that of David Bruce, who represented the independence of Scotland. The victory gained by Edward at Hallidown Hill (1334), placed Balliol on the throne. But no sooner was the English army withdrawn, than the Scotch drove Balliol away and recalled Bruce ; and Edward's ambition at this time seeking a wider field, created a diversion in their favour.
The males of the elder branch of the Capet dynasty in France had died out with Charles IV. of France (1328). The French States-General had, in accordance with their questionable interpretation of the Salic law, decided that women were incapable of inheriting the crown; and by this decision Jane, daughter of Louis X., was excluded, and the crown devolved on Philip de Valois, grandson of Philip III.1 But Edward refused to submit to this decision of the States-General, and claimed the throne as his, assuming the title of King of France, by right of his mother Isabella, daughter of Philip IV. The English Parliament, on voting the supplies, which were enormously large considering the resources of the nation, stipulated, that if France were subdued the two kingdoms should for ever remain distinct and separate. Edward's ambition was further inflamed by three French traitors, who had revolted against their lawful sovereign, Robert d'Artois, brother