Tag: Edward I

X- for Cross – Eleanor Cross

I struggled to think of anything beginning with X so I am going to take it as a cross and the romantic story of Edward and Eleanor. As we are nearing the end of this Plantagenet journey I thought it would be fitting to end with a story of true love.

Edward I, Edward the Hammer of Scots, Edward who conquered the Welsh was also a man that had a soft heart for his family and his dearest beloved and beautiful wife Eleanor of Castile.

Eleanor effigy
Eleanor effigy

Eleanor’s Cross, in fact twelve crosses, are memorials that Edward erected following the death of his wife as she was travelling to meet him in Scotland in 1290. The twelve crosses were placed in towns along her cortege from Lincoln to Westminster. The most famous in folk etymology is chère reine — “dear queen” in French then to become Charing Cross. Although I would love to believe this, Charing was a hamlet that pre-dated Eleanor’s death and only the cross part thus now known as Charing Cross is true.

The other eleven crosses were placed at: Lincoln, Grantham, Stamford, Geddington, Hardingstone near Northampton, Stony Stratford, Woburn, Dunstable, St. Albans, Waltham, Cheapside. Unfortunately only three remain today Geddington, Northampton and Waltham Cross.

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Eleanor was the daughter of the king of Castile and came to England when she about 12 years old in 1254 to marry Edward the future king of England. She provided Edward with up to 16 children which seven of whom survived into adulthood. She travelled with Edward on all his campaigns and went on crusade in 1270. Whilst on crusade Edward was wounded with a poison arrow and it is said that Eleanor’s grief and worry over Edward was so immense she had to be removed from the room he was being treated in.

Me at Eleanor Cross in Charing Cross
Me at Eleanor Cross in Charing Cross

The monument at Charing Cross was constructed in Victorian times in front of the entrance to the station. The original monument was a five minute walk up Whitehall.

William Wallace

Wallace was born around 1272 and became the leader of the Scots revolt against the English and legendary figure for his beliefs and bravery. In 1297 Wallace took a band of thirty men to avenge the death of his wife Marion. It is said that the night before Wallace was seen at his wife house and the sheriff men surrounded the house but Wallace managed to escape. However his wife was taken from the house killed by the sheriff’s men.


The events themselves may not be so romantic and may fit more with a film Mel Gibson may appear. It is more likely that the attack was premeditated and was in the name of John Balliol who had been stripped of his authority as king of Scotland the previous year.

Wallace continued his attacks on the English and more and more Scots joined his cause and they drove the English out of Lanark, Perth and Stirling by August 1297 then spread onto Northumberland and Cumbria.

Edward I was campaigning in France when he heard the news about the Battle of Stirling Bridge and the defeated English. He returned to England and began assembling an army to take to Scotland. On Tuesday 22 July 1298 Edward I army crushed Wallace’s forces. Wallace continue guerrilla warfare against the English until August 1299 where he went to France to seek aid in his fight.

Wallace Trial

He returned to Scotland in 1303 and was made an outlaw by Edward I the following year. Wallace was betrayed and handed over to the English where in August 1305 where he was taken to the London.  His trial took place at Westminster Hall (now part of Westminster Palace) and was found guilty of treason. He was then chained to a hurdle, a piece of fencing, which was dragged through the street by two horses from Westminster to the Tower of London. The distance of about two and half miles where people were able to ridicule and throw stone and dirt, he was then taken to Smithfield via Aldgate a further three miles for continued humiliation.


Then at Smithfield he was hanged until near death before being cut down. Then in good old medieval fashion his penis and testicles were cut off and burned in front of him. Then his stomach sliced open and his internal organ cut out and again thrown in a brazier in front of Wallace to burn. The hangman then cut open Wallace’s chest and by hand pulled out his heart. It is not recorded if his heart was still beating at the time which was the aim of a skilled hangman to achieve. Finally Wallace was decapitated and quartered with his quarters sent to Scotland and his head put on a pike on London Bridge.

Usury – Moneylending in Medieval England

Usury is the lending of money at high interest rates something that was damned as sinful in medieval England. There many religions condemning the practice with similar statements such as ‘Those who charge usury are in the same position as controlled by the Devil’s influence. Those who persist in usury, they incur Hell’.

Usury 1 Usury 2

However, Jews carried out the practise in England by disguising interest payments. Noblemen and barons would lend money to Jewish communities to lend out to other citizens. The interest rates were around 30 to 40% and this made repayment of loans difficult for peasants who would often took out loans. If the noblemen recalled the money lent to the Jews and they were unable to pay they would have them murdered. In order to make the business profitable and spread the risk the Jews would lend across society.

Usury 4

Edward I borrowed money to fund various campaigns at home and in France until he had borrowed all the money the Jews had and then had them expelled from England. As it was only Jews who had circumvented the law Edward then turned to Italian financial lenders who by the 13th century had realised the profits in the lending markets and was becoming a growing industry.

Quercy – Treaty of Paris 1259

Quercy is a county in south-west France with Cahors as its capital. Henry II inherited Quercy as part of the Plantagenet domination within France following his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine.

In 1196 Richard I gave it to Raymond VI the count of Toulouse as his sister’s dowry. It was then awarded to Henry III from LouisIX of France as part of the Treaty of Paris in 1259 but was never actually controlled by Henry III. Edward I gave up his claim to Quercy.

Quercy Treaty of Paris 1259

It was again handed over to the Edward III King of England England in 1360 but was finally retaken by the French 1440.

The fortified medieval bridge over the river Lot at Cahors
The fortified medieval bridge over the river Lot at Cahors

Longshanks – Edward I

Edward was the son of Henry III and became King of England following his father’s death in 1272.

He was tall, over 6ft tall that earned him the nickname Edward Longshanks, and handsome and was known for his devious nature and bravery. He married Eleanor of Castille (another Eleanor) in 1254 and before her death in 1290 she have provided Edward with 16 children which 7 survived. Edward was truly in love with Eleanor and his children something that is covered on day X of my A to Z Challenge.

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In 1277 he mounted a campaign into Wales, this a campaign that saw a Welsh rebellion that lasted to 1283. Eventually to satisfy the Welsh, they would only accept terms if the appointed Prince of Wales was someone who did not speak English. Edwards agreed to the Welsh terms to keep them happy, but Edward was smart and devious and appointed his infant son who spoke no English being only a few months old.

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Problems arose in Scotland in 1290 when he appointed John Balliol to the Scottish throne. There was widespread opposition from the Scottish believing that Balliol was just a pawn for the English. A number of Scots rebelled led by William Wallace against the English. Edwards’s military skill and bravery led to Wallace and the rebellion being crushed and an example of Wallace was made where he was hung drawn and quartered.

In 1294 a war with France over Gascony broke out and already under financial pressures from the military campaigns in Scotland meant Edward needed to claim funds from parliament where there was strong opposition. Eventually a settlement was agreed with Phillip IV of France in 1299 with the marriage to his sister Margaret in 1299 who bore Edward three further children.

Edward I Tomb at Westminster Abbey
Edward I Tomb at Westminster Abbey

Edward died in 1307 on his way to Scotland. Buried at Westminster Abbey with the words inscribed ‘Here lies Edward I the hammer of the Scots.