Plantagenet, Angevin Line -- Reigned: 1307-1327
Edward II lacked the royal dignity of his father and failed miserably as king. He inherited his father's war with Scotland and displayed his ineptitude as a soldier.
Disgruntled barons, already wary of Edward as Prince of Wales, sought to check his power from the beginning of his reign. He raised the ire of the nobility by lavishing money and other rewards upon his male favorites. Such extreme unpopularity would eventually cost Edward his life.
Edward I's dream of a unified British nation quickly disintegrated under his weak son. Baronial rebellion opened the way for Robert Bruce to reconquer much of Scotland. In 1314, Bruce defeated English forces at the battle of Bannockburn and ensured Scottish independence until the union of England and Scotland in 1707. Bruce also incited rebellion in Ireland and reduced English influence to the confines of the Pale.
Edward's preference for surrounding himself with outsiders harkened back to the troubled reign of Henry III. The most notable was Piers Gaveston, a young Gascon exiled by Edward I for his undue influence on the Prince of Wales and, most likely, the king's homosexual lover.
The arrogant and licentious Gaveston wielded considerable power after being recalled by Edward. The magnates, alienated by the relationship, rallied in opposition behind the king's cousin, Thomas, Earl of Lancaster; the Parliaments of 1310 and 1311 imposed restrictions on Edward's power and exiled Gaveston.
The barons revolted in 1312 and Gaveston was murdered -- full rebellion was avoided only by Edward's acceptance of further restrictions. Although Lancaster shared the responsibilities of governing with Edward, the king came under the influence of yet another despicable favorite, Hugh Dispenser.
In 1322, Edward showed a rare display of resolve and gathered an army to meet Lancaster at the Battle of Boroughbridge in Yorkshire. Edward prevailed and executed Lancaster. He and Dispenser ruled the government but again acquired many enemies -- 28 knights and barons were executed for rebelling and many exiled.
Edward sent his queen, Isabella, to negotiate with her brother, French king Charles IV, regarding affairs in Gascony. She fell into an open romance with Roger Mortimer, one of Edward's disaffected barons, and persuaded Edward to send their young son to France. The rebellious couple invaded England in 1326 and imprisoned Edward. The king was deposed in 1327, replaced by his son, Edward III, and murdered in September at Berkeley castle.
Sir Richard Baker, in reference to Edward I in A Chronicle of the Kings of England, makes a strong indictment against Edward II:
Born: 25 April 1284 at Caernarfon Castle, Gwynedd
Murdered: 21 September 1327 at Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire
Buried: St. Peter's Abbey (Gloucester Cathedral), Gloucester, Gloucestershire
Parents: Edward I and Eleanor of Castile
Siblings: Eleanor, Joan, John, Henry, Julian (alias Katherine), Joan, Alfonso, Margaret, Berengaria, Mary, Alice, Elizabeth, Beatrice, and Blanche
Crowned: 25 February 1308 at Westminster Abbey, Middlesex
Abdicated: 25 January 1327
Married: 25 January 1308 at Boulogne Cathedral
Spouse: Isabella daughter of Philip IV, King of France
Offspring: Edward, John, Eleanor, and Joan
All rights reserved. For details and contact information:
See License Agreement, Copyright Notice.