BECK index

England, Scotland, and Ireland 1250-1400

by Sanderson Beck

Henry III and Parliament 1250-72
Edward I, Ireland and Wales 1272-90
Edward I and Scotland 1290-1307
Scotland and Robert Bruce 1306-29
Scotland 1329-1400
Edward II and the Ordinances 1307-27
Edward III and National War 1327-50
Edward III and Prince Edward 1350-77
War Taxes and the Peasants’ Revolt 1377-81
Richard II 1381-99
Ireland 1327-1400

This chapter has been published in the book Medieval Europe 1250-1400.
For information on ordering click here.

Henry III and Parliament 1250-72

England under Norman Kings 1095-1154
England under Henry II and Richard 1154-1199
England’s John and Magna Carta 1199-1226
England under Henry III 1227-1250

Bishop Grosseteste had opposed for years ecclesiastics being involved in secular offices, and he tried to stop secular interference in ecclesiastic courts. Grosseteste learned that Rome was taking an annual sum of 70,000 marks out of England; this was three times the King’s income. In 1250 Grosseteste went to Pope Innocent IV at Lyons to complain about papal privileges, secular powers limiting episcopal authority, legal maneuvers to avoid episcopal action, and men in pastoral positions who were unable or unwilling to carry out their duties. He orated about the decline of the Church that is impinged upon by Muslims, Greeks, and heretics. He blamed the papal curia for failing to purge the world of abominations and handing over thousands of souls. The Pope should set a shining example but has been perverted by earthly relatives. Those educated to save souls should not be subordinated to secular administrators. Before his death in 1253 Grosseteste protested to Pope Innocent IV that Italians, knowing no English and never setting foot in England, were making it difficult for the Church to minister to the English people.

In 1254 King Henry III gave Gascony to his son Edward and took up the cross for a future crusade. Relations with Castile eased that year when Edward was knighted by Alfonso X and wed his sister Eleanor; Alfonso renounced his claims to Gascony. Prince Edward was also endowed with Chester and the conquered lands in Wales. In 1255 a civil war broke out in Wales, and Llywelyn ap Gruffudd defeated and imprisoned his brothers Owain and David. Llywelyn II then led a Welsh revolt against the English for several years that expanded his domain. A campaign against Gwynedd led by Henry III in 1257 failed, and the next year an assembly of magnates swore allegiance to Llywelyn as prince of Wales. In the next four years he consolidated his power with a series of truces, and Llywelyn’s title was recognized by Henry in the 1267 treaty of Montgomery. Henry had replaced the council in Scotland dominated by the Comyns in 1255; but the Comyns seized King Alexander and power in 1257, and in March of the next year they formed an alliance with Llywelyn. A compromise in Scotland was worked out in November 1258 by Bishop Gamelin of St. Andrews and English mediators, and Alexander III came of age in 1261.

English domination advanced in Ireland during the reign of Henry III. In 1258 Brian O’Neill tried to revive the high-kingship, and Felim’s son Aedh gave him hostages in a confederation; but O’Donnell believed that every man should have his own world. The next year Aedh O’Connor brought in 160 foreign warriors called gallowglasses; but the confederates were defeated at Down in 1260, and Brian O’Neill was killed. Ireland held its first parliament in the summer of 1264. By then Edward had enfeoffed Walter de Burgh, who established peace in his earldom of Ulster. However, Aedh O’Connor succeeded his father Felim in 1265 and continued to fight Walter until the latter died in 1271.

Henry de Bracton served as a judge of King Henry’s court for about twenty years and by 1259 wrote his treatise On the Laws and Customs of the Kingdom of England that became the most important textbook for common law. He also compiled notebooks of 500 cases in English law out of 2,000 cases he marked. Most of these cases had been tried by William Raleigh and Martin Pateshull. Bracton believed that law is based on reason, and he tried to convert the mass of customs into a coherent system of jurisprudence. His work, though unfinished, became a textbook that was not surpassed until William Blackstone. He taught lawyers how to analyze a case to determine individual right and allowed each person to have their say. His main point is that government must be legal, that all popes, emperors, kings, lords, lawyers, freemen, and even serfs must be governed under law, which serves, obeys, and protects what is right. He noted that even Jesus Christ and his holy mother did not put themselves above the law.

King Henry III was distracted from the Castilian crusade against the Moors and a Palestine crusade when he accepted the crown of Sicily for his son Edmund. Henry began negotiating peace with France and asked for taxes for the huge papal debt of 135,541 marks he had to pay or have an interdict laid on England; but Sicily was taken over by Manfred, who was crowned at Palermo in 1258. Henry’s brother Richard of Cornwall was elected king of the Romans in 1257 and oversaw the negotiations with Louis IX that were conducted by Earl Simon de Montfort, Peter of Savoy, Hugh Bigod, and Henry’s half brothers Geoffrey and Guy of Lusignan. In the treaty of Paris in 1259 Henry gave up his claim to Normandy, Maine, Anjou, and Poitou but retained Gascony.

Many magnates of England had opposed Henry’s Sicilian adventure, and led by Hugh Bigot at Oxford in 1258 they demanded reform by adding twelve magnates to the king’s council of twelve. Henry, Edward, and the Poitevin half-brothers swore to the agreement. Pope Alexander IV released Edmund from his obligation in Sicily, but he did not send a legate to England despite requests. The Oxford group of four of the 24 elected a council of fifteen, made Hugh Bigod justiciar, and planned regular meetings of the great council or parliament. The chancellor and treasurer were also subject to the council. Henry prepared a campaign against Llywelyn in Wales but was persuaded by the council to make a truce, causing William of Valence and his brothers to resent the Oxford Provisions. Earl Richard of Clare, Earl Simon de Montfort, the Bigods, and Peter of Savoy had taken an oath to support each other. Now the barons who came in arms to the Parliament similarly swore to uphold the common enterprise of the Provisions. Knights were elected in shires to bring complaints to the council in Parliament.

The Parliament of October 1258 proclaimed in Latin, French, and English that it was the king’s will that things be done for the good of the realm by the council elected by the king and the community, and all freemen were required to take the oath sworn by the barons. The amendment of wrongs was to begin with the investigations made by the knights. Laws were discussed, revised, and became the Provisions of Westminster a year later. This common law was revised again in 1263 and became the famous statute of Marlborough in 1267. A financial committee of the justiciar, the treasurer, a royal clerk, and two judges selected the sheriffs annually from the knights elected by the shires. While Henry went to France for the treaty in 1259, justiciar Hugh Bigod presided over the council of regency. Edward promised to help those who feared that the barons would not fulfill their commitments to their subtenants; but he also swore to aid Simon de Montfort and the barons’ enterprise within his fealty to the king.

In 1260 Llywelyn besieged the castle of Builth and raided south Wales. Henry III ordered Parliament not to meet until he returned, and he began to suspect Edward and Simon de Montfort, the 6th Earl of Leicester. Henry summoned to London eight earls and 99 barons for armed service; but after knighting Simon’s sons, Edward went on a jousting tour before settling in Gascony. Simon asked that Archbishop Boniface investigate charges against him before any trial in the king’s council, and Henry agreed. The case was dropped, and Simon and Richard of Clare joined the King for a campaign against Llywelyn of Wales; but the truce was renewed. In 1261 King Henry began to oppose the Provisions, and Pope Alexander absolved him from his oath to uphold them. Henry imported mercenaries again, lived in the Tower of London, deprived Justiciar Hugh le Despenser and Chancellor Nicholas of Ely of their offices, and replaced the baronial sheriffs, giving his appointees custody of the royal castles. He made Philip Basset justiciar and gave him the right to use the royal castles to imprison disturbers of the peace. Pope Alexander threatened with excommunication those opposing King Henry under the pretext of reform.

Richard of Cornwall and the bishops meeting at Kingston mediated a compromise in which the king would select the sheriffs from the four knights each shire elected, though the final arbitration was decided by Richard of Cornwall. Angry Simon de Montfort did not participate and left England. The new Pope Urban IV issued a bull favoring Henry in 1262, and Henry announced that the charters of liberties would be enforced but that the ordinances and statutes had been annulled by the Pope; anyone opposing his royal right could be arrested. King Henry went to France to visit Louis as his vassal for Gascony, became ill, and was even believed dead. Llywelyn attacked Roger Mortimer again and Edward’s castles, and the lords of the marches would not defend them. While ill, Henry ordered the justiciar, chancellor and treasurer to allow no parliaments and named Edmund to represent the crown. Edward landed at Dover with armed knights in February 1263, and Simon de Montfort arrived in April to support the party of Roger Clifford and the Welsh marchers. Henry ordered a feudal host to gather at Worcester in August. Clifford plundered the manors of Hereford bishop Savoyard Peter of Aigueblanche, imprisoned him, and then seized Gloucester.

In London even Queen Eleanor was attacked by a mob and had to take refuge in St. Paul’s, and citizen leaders told King Henry to restore the Provisions. Edmund surrendered the castle in Dover, and Henry accepted their terms in July 1263. Earl Simon took over the Tower of London, and again Hugh le Dispenser became justiciar and Nicholas of Ely chancellor. Every shire was given a warden of peace to take over the administration of the royal sheriffs, who retained their financial duties. Henry surrendered Windsor and disbanded his foreign mercenaries, as barons who had opposed the Provisions swore to maintain them in order to keep their lands. Simon also ratified a peace with Llywelyn. Much injustice had been done, and Simon procured royal letters of pardon for the violent acts of his adherents. Meanwhile Edward was fighting for his castles in Wales and had been humiliated by the withdrawal from Windsor. The Parliament of October 1263 did not go well; Richard of Cornwall was elected by the wrangling parties to mediate, and the King regained control of the chancery and exchequer. Simon de Montfort was thrown from his horse and broke his leg.

In January 1264 Louis IX’s judgment in the Mise of Amiens favored his brother-in-law Henry III in freeing everyone from the obligation to maintain the Provisions. Simon de Montfort naturally rejected this and made an alliance with Llywelyn. In the anarchy the strong oppressed the weak, and Jews were devastated by Montfortians. Edward and Henry landed and began fighting rebels in the west. In April 1264 they attacked Northampton while the earls Simon and Gilbert took Rochester. At Lewes the King, Edward, and Richard of Cornwall were defeated by Simon’s barons, and clerks buried 600 dead. Henry and Edward became hostages, and prisoners were exchanged. The royal castles and those of fled barons were given to Simon’s partisans. Jews returned to their homes. The government was administered by Earl Simon of Leicester, Gloucester earl Gilbert of Clare, and the bishop of Chichester, and they chose a council of nine to advise the king. Queen Eleanor and exiles were raising forces in France. The papal legate issued sentences of excommunication and was elected Pope Clement IV. An attempt to rescue Edward failed; when he was returned to King Henry, both swore to obey the provisional government.

However, young Gilbert of Clare defected from Simon de Montfort and with the marchers joined Edward in taking control of the Severn. Llewelyn sent some troops to help Simon. While holding the King, Simon de Montfort, Hugh Despenser, and others were defeated and killed at Evesham on August 4, 1265 as Henry was rescued by Roger Leyburn. Edward secured Chester; Bristol and Hereford made terms while royal castles surrendered. London was fined 20,000 marks. King Henry made his son Edmund earl of Leicester and seneschal of England. Papal legate Ottobuono Fieschi arrived to govern the Church, make peace with the rebels, and preach a crusade. The bishops of London, Lincoln, Chichester, and Winchester were suspended and ordered to Rome, and the bishop of Worcester died in 1266. That year Parliament approved the Dictum of Kenilworth that enabled rebels to regain their property by paying fines according to their degree of guilt up to five years income maximum, which was about half an estate’s value. Ottobuono also mediated a peace treaty in which Henry recognized the conquests of Welsh prince Llywelyn and agreed not to harbor his enemies. In 1267 the Statute of Marlborough promulgated by an assembly of men from various classes established that legal measures could be taken against anyone taking the law into their own hands during the period of legal settlements. Some scholars have considered this a turning point in the ending of feudal law.

For five years the treasury had only an eighth its normal revenue, and so Pope Clement IV approved a tax of a tenth on the clergy to help pay the debts Queen Eleanor had incurred for the royal cause in France. The clergy also contributed an additional twentieth for one year in 1267 to help the disinherited. In 1270 a general tax of a twentieth on personal property for the crusade was approved by a large Parliament summoned by King Henry. Prince Edward led the English crusaders but did little to stop the Egyptian Mamluks’ conquest of Syria. In 1271 Henry III decreed that all wool workers of both sexes from Flanders and elsewhere would be welcomed and not have to pay taxes for five years. After twenty years of work Henry had dedicated Westminster Abbey to his patron saint Edward the Confessor in 1269, and his body was entombed there when he died in November 1272. Even though Edward was abroad, the succession was peaceful. Parliament met and ratified the royal council’s appointment of Walter de Merton as chancellor.

Edward I, Ireland and Wales 1272-90

Edward I was in Italy returning from the crusade when Henry III died in November 1272. After stopping in Rome to see Pope Gregory X, Edward went to Paris to do homage to Philippe III for Gascony, which he then visited. He was not crowned at Westminster until August 1274 though he had been managing the government from the continent. Robert Burnell was one of the trustees while Edward was on crusade, and he helped facilitate the smooth succession. When Edward returned to England, he appointed Burnell chancellor. Burnell was also bishop of Bath and Wells 1275-92, and he became a great land-owner. After Henri (Enrique) of Navarre died in 1274, his widow Blanche of Artois turned to Philippe III for protection, entrusting Navarre to him until her daughter Jeanne came of age. Then at the end of the following year she married Edward’s brother Edmund, who was earl of Lancaster, seneschal of England as earl of Leicester, and the greatest land-owner in England. Edmund then did homage to Philippe for her Champagne. The sister queens Marguerite (d. 1295) and Eleanor (d. 1291) outlived their husbands Louis IX and Henry III, helping to maintain peaceful relations between France and England.

An inquest in 1274 led to an investigation of local administrators who had usurped liberties and abused their rights. King Edward issued a statute in 1275 that elections should be free from interference by the great. That year he also prohibited Jews from lending money at interest. In 1278 thousands of Jews were arrested and charged with counterfeiting or clipping coins; 278 Jews were hanged, but others convicted of similar offenses were only fined. In 1287 Edward had Jews and their wives arrested, releasing them after receiving a large ransom. In 1290 his mother persuaded Edward to order all Jews to leave England or be hanged, and a reported 16,511 Jews were expelled. Edward summoned Parliament in the spring and autumn nearly every year. A tax of a fifteenth was collected in 1275 to pay for his recent travels, and that year knights were invited to Parliament. Edward was granted a customs tax on wool that added about £8,000 a year to his royal income. In 1278 Edward wanted to replace the Dominican Robert Kilwardby as archbishop of Canterbury with his friend Robert Burnell; but he was overruled by the papacy that selected the Franciscan John Pecham (1278-92), who fought the crown to maintain the Church’s rights and privileges.

The Westminster statutes of 1275 and 1285 improved common law. Quo warranto statutes investigated which royal franchises were held legitimately. In 1279 twenty-five commissions were appointed to investigate tenements and liberties in order to check abuses by land-owners, sheriffs, and bailiffs. That year the Statute of Mortmain prohibited land from being given to the Church without royal license. In 1285 Treasurer John Kirkby led an investigation to gather information on local officials for the Exchequer. Another commission looked into official corruption in 1289, and the judge Thomas of Wayland was dismissed and lost his lands. Adam of Stratton extorted so much money from the Cluniac monastery of Bermondsey in Gascony over the years that he was finally imprisoned in 1292. The 1283 and 1285 statutes of Acton Burnell helped merchants collect debts by establishing debtor’s prisons, and the statute of Quia Emptores of 1290 ended the subinfeudation of land.

In 1276 King Edward tried to end the battling in Ireland by giving all of Thomond to the Earl of Gloucester’s brother Thomas de Clare, who restored King Brian while expelling Turlough; but the next year Turlough defeated Brian, killing de Clare’s brother-in-law. De Clare had Brian executed; but he repented of it and supported Brian’s son Donough for the throne. Brutal fighting continued until Donough was killed in 1284; de Clare died three years later, but the vendetta between the O’Brien factions would go on for another thirty years. In Connaught after Felim’s son Aedh died in 1274, four men trying to gain the throne were killed in as many years. Ulster was calm after Earl Walter’s son Richard de Burgh came of age and was given seisin (feudal possession) of his lands in 1280. In six years the young earl gained control of Connaught too; but there the old Geraldine quarrel broke out in 1294. Earl Richard became the most powerful man in northern Ireland and assisted Edward in the Scottish campaigns of 1296 and 1303. Edward appointed the less powerful John de Wogan justiciar in 1295, and two years later in order to provide funds for Edward’s wars he summoned the first Parliament that included two knights elected from each shire. In the Irish Parliament of 1300 the cities and boroughs were also represented.

Dafydd ap Gruffydd plotted in Wales with Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn of south Powys; but they both fled to England when Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffydd took Gruffydd’s lordship. War broke out in 1276, but by the next year Edward’s paid army of 15,640, which was mostly Welsh, had regained the lands conquered by Llywelyn, who made a treaty at Conway. Llywelyn’s brother Owain was released after languishing in prison for 22 years. Edward even paid for Llywelyn’s wedding to Eleanor de Montfort at Worcester. Local sheriffs lost power in 1277 and again in 1286 during the King’s wars with Wales when keepers of the peace were elected to maintain order; they were succeeded by justices of the peace. Dafydd led another revolt in 1282, and a Welsh parliament at Denbigh even declared war. Archbishop Pecham of Canterbury excommunicated Dafydd. Edward hired a professional army of about 10,000 men for £60,000. Edward was victorious and gave marcher lordships to Earl Henry de Lacy of Lincoln, Earl Warenne, and Reginald of Grey. Roger Mortimer and the Queen also gained territory. Prince Llywelyn also revolted in the south but was killed. Dafydd was eventually captured, hanged, and quartered. This war in Wales required a tax of a thirtieth granted by the provincial assemblies of York and Northampton in 1283, and it cost Edward £150,000. Church property was destroyed, and he paid £2,300 in indemnities to 107 individuals and churches.

Royal castles were built in Wales from 1277 on and eventually cost about £80,000. Criminal law was made to conform with English laws in the 1284 Statute of Wales, though Welsh civil laws tended to remain. Edward’s son Edward was born that year at Caenarvon. The Welsh lord Rhys revolted in 1287; but he was defeated the next year by the justiciar Tybetot, the earl of Gloucester, though Rhys fled to the forest and was not tried and hanged until 1292. That year the Welsh resented a higher tax than was levied in England. While Edward was mobilizing to fight abroad in 1294, the Welsh Church was taxed for the first time. The Welsh resisted supporting the war and revolted again; but the King soon had raised three armies of more than 31,000 men, and after one defeat he subdued them at Maes Maidog in Caereinion on March 5, 1295. Five days later 500 Welshmen were slaughtered.

Alexander III did homage to King Edward in 1278 for his lands in England, but he reserved his kingdom of Scotland. After Alexander was killed in a fall from his horse on March 19, 1286, the magnates and prelates met in Parliament in April and named young Margaret, the maid of Norway, the first queen of Scotland and appointed as guardians Bishop William Fraser of St. Andrews, Earl Duncan III of Fife, Earl Alexander Comyn of Buchan from the north, and Bishop Robert Wishart, James the Stewart, and John Comyn of Badenoch from the south.

Pollution from burning coal was so bad in 1257 that Queen Eleanor was driven away from Nottingham castle. Complaints starting in 1285 indicate that London may have been the first city to suffer from air pollution. King Edward went to Paris to do homage to the newly crowned Philippe IV in 1286. Edward sold his rights in Quercy while securing his possession of Saintonge. He stayed on the continent three years attending to his duties as duke of Aquitane. He also mediated a truce at Paris between the Aragonese envoys and Philippe. Edward took up the cross for another crusade in 1287 but never went. In 1288 he obtained the release of Charles II of Anjou and Salerno by pledging 36 of his English and Aquitanian barons and forty citizens of Gascon as hostages. These were also released five months later after Charles fulfilled his obligations to Alfonso III of Aragon. Edward approved an ordinance for Gascony, Saintonge, and his lands in Limoges, Perigueux, and Cahors in 1289 that gave the seneschal of Gascony authority over the judges, auditors, proctors, advocates, and others with a salary of £2,000 so that he could not receive any money from the King’s officers.

Edward I and Scotland 1290-1307

In 1290 King Edward proclaimed the end of private warfare. His daughter Joan of Acre married Gilbert of Clare, earl of Gloucester, who as the greatest of the marcher lords of south Wales resented pledging fealty to the King. Gilbert went to war with Hereford’s earl Humphrey of Bohun, lord of Brecknock, who appealed to Edward. A commission of magnates investigated, and in 1292 the Parliament condemned both earls to be imprisoned, though they were freed after paying fines for their lands. The judges and Parliament had ruled that the King had the prerogative to over-rule local customs and laws for the common good.

Also in 1290 Edward’s daughter Margaret married the heir of the Brabant duke, and his son Edward was betrothed to Margaret, the maid of Norway and queen of Scotland; but Margaret died in September on her way from Norway to Scotland. This was soon followed by the death of King Edward’s own wife Eleanor of Castile. Edward re-appointed the guardians John Balliol, the eldest Bruce, Bishop William Fraser of St. Andrews, and John Comyn of Badenoch to govern Scotland and added his knight Brian fitz Alan. In June 1291 the nine competitors to be king announced that they would accept Edward as their superior and his decision regarding the succession. On November 17, 1292 Edward chose John Balliol as the rightful ruler of Scotland but as his vassal. That month Robert Bruce’s grandfather and father had resigned their claims to the Scottish throne and to the earldom of Carrick in his favor. Edward heard appeals from the Scottish court outside of Scotland, but King John rejected the English court. When John Balliol did not appear to answer charges of Macduff, the Parliament at Westminster ordered him to give up three castles to Edward.

At the beginning of 1293 Edward declared null the Treaty of Birgham and the agreements he had made during the interregnum. When England went to war in Gascony in 1294, Edward ordered English and Scottish ports closed. A council of twelve Scots was elected in July and made an alliance with Philippe of France on October 23, 1295. Edward then ordered John to surrender three more castles, but Balliol reacted by renouncing his fealty to Edward. The eldest Bruce died, and his son and grandson supported Edward against John. In 1296 the Scots raided Cumberland and Northumberland; but Edward himself led his army that massacred many on March 30 as it sacked Berwick, which he established as his capital for Scotland. The English led by the earl of Surrey defeated the Scottish army on April 27 at Dunbar, but Edward declined to install the elder Bruce as king. On July 2 John was forced to surrender his kingdom. Edward took over the central government of Scotland but not local administration. At the Berwick parliament on August 28 Edward received homage and fealty from 2,000 freeholders, but in late September he turned the government of Scotland over to Earl John of Warenne. William Wallace escaped from the English with help from his wife, who was killed. When he led a revolt in John’s name in 1297, John and seniors of the Comyn family were imprisoned in the Tower of London.

Battles between the English fleet and the Norman ships of France began in 1293. Philippe IV summoned Edward to appear at Paris in January 1294 to answer charges, but no safe conduct was offered. Edward was condemned by default in May, and he renounced his fealty to Philippe. Edward took control of the wool industry with a severe maltote tax that was a six-fold increase, built a large fleet, and levied knights and infantry (including pardoned criminals) for the war abroad. Judicial eyres and quo warranto investigations were suspended and were never really revived. In 1295 two burgesses as well as two knights were elected to Parliament from each city or borough. This pattern was later referred to as the “model parliament.” Diplomatically Edward used an alliance with his sons-in-law in Bar and Brabant and tried to keep Roman king Adolf on his side. Holland count Jan married Edward’s daughter Elizabeth on January 7, 1297 at Ipswich.

French armies led by Charles of Valois and Robert of Artois invaded Gascony. In 1296 Pope Boniface VIII forbade rulers to collect and clerics to pay any extra taxes without papal approval, and the next year Archbishop Winchelsea of Canterbury held a convocation in which the clergy refused to contribute. Only three of twelve bishops in Scotland did homage to Edward. He outlawed the clergy by threatening confiscation of property and imprisonment until they agreed to provide funds. Edward ordered that only English priests be given vacant benefices in Scotland.

In May 1297 Wallace and William Douglas led an attack on the justiciar Ormsby, who fled. The danger of Wallace’s raids convinced the northern province to provide a fifth, and the southern granted a tenth. Young Robert Bruce renounced the oath he made to Edward at Carlisle as given under duress. He said that he must join his nation, and he fought with Wallace, Bishop Wishart, and the steward James Stewart at Irvine in June; but the next month Wishart, Stewart, and Bruce went back to Edward’s side and were pardoned. Wallace crossed the Tay in August and besieged the castle of Dundee. Andrew Murray led the northerners, and he and Wallace massed their men on the north bank of the Forth. The English army reached Stirling and began to cross on a narrow bridge on September 11. After Cressingham and many others were killed, Surrey led the retreat to Berwick. Murray died of his wounds at Stirling, and Wallace became commander of the Scottish army. Scotland was suffering a famine, and Wallace invaded Northumberland and Cumberland in November to live off the land. He wrote to the merchants of Lübeck and Hamburg in October that trade with Scotland was safe again.

After Wallace’s Scottish victory at Stirling Bridge in September 1297, Edward had to make various promises to gain support for that war. In the future all aids, mise writs, and prises could only be taken with the consent of the whole kingdom for the common benefit except for accustomed aids and prises; the great charters were reissued with supplementary laws; the hated maltote tax on wool was repealed; those who had refused to aid Edward in Flanders were pardoned; Parliament granted a new subsidy of a ninth; and the clergy granted a tenth. Enlistment to reconquer Scotland was then begun. Edward confirmed the great charters and promised that no tallage or aid would be imposed in the future unless approved by magnates, knights, burgesses, and other freemen. The old Roman maxim that what touches all should be approved by all was often cited, especially by clergy. Then he went to Flanders and made his headquarters in Ghent. Edward’s armies in the south regained Bayonne, Bourg, and Blaye but could not take Bordeaux. In October 1297 a truce was made with France that was extended from time to time. Pope Boniface VIII began arbitration in 1298; but the treaty of Paris was not signed until 1303. Between 1294 and 1298 Edward spent £750,000 on war.

The two armies met at Falkirk on July 22, 1298. Edward had 2,000 cavalry and 12,000 infantry, including 10,000 from Wales using longbows. They destroyed Wallace’s army, killing a reported 10,000 Scots. Wallace resigned as guardian, and soon Robert Bruce and John the Red Comyn were acting as guardians of Scotland in the name of John. Fraser died, and Wallace got William Lamberton elected bishop of St. Andrews. David Murray was elected bishop of Moray, and both went to urge Pope Boniface VIII to support the Scots. When Lamberton returned, he was made chief guardian of Scottish castles. In May 1300 Bruce would be replaced by Ingeram Umfraville, and at the beginning of 1301 John de Soules was appointed sole guardian. On June 28, 1299 Pope Boniface published the papal bull Scimus fili arguing that Scotland was under the Roman Church and that Edward should send envoys to the papal court to claim the kingdom. Edward sent a reply basing his claim on ancient history, but Baldred Bisset argued that one kingdom should not be the subject of another’s king.

In 1299 Edward married Marguerite of France, and his son Edward was betrothed to Philippe IV’s daughter Isabella. Marguerite often persuaded Edward to pardon offenders or moderate his punishments. John Balliol was released to the papal envoy with the understanding that the status of Scotland would not be affected. Balliol spent the rest of his life on his ancestral estate of Bailleul in Normandy. Philippe persuaded Edward to make a truce with Scotland to extend until Pentecost 1301.

The double tax that attempted to take a ninth of assessed goods in 1297 yielded only £34,419 from a war-weary nation that had contributed £117,000 for a crusade and Edward’s travels in the fifteenth tax of 1290. Another double tax in 1294 had taken a tenth from the shires and a sixth from the towns after having been approved by London. The official enrollment of statutes began in 1299. The Parliament at Winchester in March 1300 ordered the great charters to be published in county courts four times a year; infringements were heard, judged, and punished by three good men elected in each shire. Edward had to concede that reports of commissioners were verdicts to be enforced, not just material to be examined, in order to get the subsidy of a twentieth raised to a fifteenth. Justices elected in 1300 to enforce the charters had their powers defined by the advice of prelates and magnates. The population of England had grown from about two million in 1086 to five million in 1300, and in the 13th century the money in circulation had increased from about £250,000 to £900,000. The population of Scotland during this era was about 400,000.

On February 14, 1301 the Parliament at Lincoln confirmed the charters and articles that King Edward had conceded from abroad. That year his son Edward was the first royal heir to be named the prince of Wales, which brought an income of £4,000 a year, and he became duke of Aquitane in 1306. Pope Boniface claimed Scotland for the Roman see; but the English Parliament denied his right. In the summer of 1301 Edward led another invasion of Scotland, but they withdrew in the winter after France mediated another truce with the Scots in January 1302 that would last until the end of November. By then more than fifty English lords had been granted land in Scotland. On November 12 King John wrote a letter to Philippe IV authorizing him to negotiate with the English on his behalf. Edward sent John de Segrave to lead the next invasion. The English were attacked near Edinburgh on February 24, 1303, and the Scottish forces led by John Comyn and Simon Fraser defeated them. King Edward in the Carta mercatoria granted foreign traders extensive privileges in exchange for their paying additional duties. On May 20 the Treaty of Montreuil was ratified, concluding a commercial agreement between England and France and recognizing Guyenne as belonging to England. Edward had abandoned his ally Flanders while Philippe IV gave up his alliance with Scotland.

Edward led his army and reached Edinburgh on June 4, ravaging fields and burning towns. In February 1304 Comyn and other magnates submitted to the King’s commissioners at Strathorde in Fifeshire; when they agreed to pay fines, the Scots were allowed to go and had their lands restored. A parliament met at St. Andrews and declared Wallace, Fraser, and the garrison at Stirling outlaws. Fraser and others gave themselves up, but Wallace refused. The English began besieging Stirling castle on April 22, and they were starved into surrendering on July 20. In February 1305 Edward appointed 21 Englishmen to meet with ten representatives of Scotland to devise an ordinance for governing Scotland. The bishop of St. Andrews became deputy to the Lieutenant, and young Robert Bruce and John Comyn were chosen for the council. The Scottish parliament and the Scottish nobles and prelates were given larger roles than in the plan of 1296. Earl John Stewart of Mentieth was rewarded for informing on Wallace, who was captured unarmed on August 3, 1305. After a short trial before five judges Wallace was hanged and quartered on August 23. That year Edward repudiated the concessions he had made to the Great Charter and the Charter of the Forest, and Pope Clement V gave him absolution.

King Edward vowed that he would avenge the murder of Comyn in Scotland in 1306, and he ordered the death of all who took up arms, even those who would be captured; but he was too ill to keep up with his invading army. He advanced only to Carlisle, where he died on July 7, 1307. His will ordered one hundred knights to go to the Crusades for a year, taking his heart with them, but this did not take place. Because of his wars, Edward I left England with a debt of £200,000, and customs had been mortgaged to the Italian banker Frescobaldi.

Scotland and Robert Bruce 1306-29

Robert Bruce was born at Turnberry castle in Carrick on July 11, 1274. His grandfather of the same name tried to claim the throne of Scotland in the Parliament at Scone on April 2, 1286, but this was contested by John Balliol, who was also descended from David I. After young Robert’s wife Isabella died, he in February 1302 married Elizabeth, daughter of Richard de Burgh, the earl of Ulster, a supporter of Edward. After his father died on April 21, 1304, Robert visited England to secure his inheritance of Annandale. In June he made a secret political alliance with Bishop William Lamberton of St. Andrews. John Comyn found out about it and met with Bruce. He agreed to support Bruce’s right to the crown in exchange for Bruce’s estates. After Bruce informed Edward of the agreement, he intercepted letters from Comyn to Edward planning Bruce’s death or imprisonment. Bruce killed the courier and then met with Comyn in a convent in Dumfries on February 10, 1306. After an argument Bruce stabbed Comyn with a dagger and left the sanctuary. He told what happened to his attendant, who went in and made sure that Comyn was dead. Bruce and his four brothers met with Scottish leaders at Glasgow, and he was crowned at Scone on March 25. Soon more than a hundred landholders were behind him. A price was put on his head, and Bruce fled to the island of Rathlin off Ireland. His queen and daughter Marjory were captured and imprisoned for eight years, and sixteen knights were tried at Newcastle and hanged by Edward’s orders.

After failing to intercept English ships, Robert Bruce and his men in January 1307 attacked the English garrison at Turnberry in his own earldom of Carrick. His brothers Thomas and Alexander landed at Loch Ryan in February, but they were wounded and captured by Dungal MacDowell in Galloway and sent to Carlisle, where Edward had them hanged. The English attacked Robert Bruce at Perth, unhorsing him three times, but he escaped and retreated to Athol with about five hundred men. In the spring of 1307 Bruce moved to the island of Arran with three hundred men. On May 10 with a smaller force he overcame Earl Aymer de Valence of Pembroke at Loudoun Hill in Ayshire, and three days later Bruce defeated the earl of Gloucester. In September some Galwegians paid Bruce a ransom for a short truce. In November the Inverlochy castle surrendered, and he advanced up the Great Glen. Ailing Edward I died in July and was succeeded by his son Edward of Caernarvon.

Robert Bruce claimed in a letter to Edward II that he had 3,000 men under pay, and Ross, Sutherland, and Caithness agreed to a truce until June 1308. Bruce was ill but managed to defeat the earl of Buchan in May 1308. Meanwhile James Douglas was defeating the English in the southwest. Alexander of Argyll submitted to King Robert in August, but his son, John of Lorne, fought back and was subdued by Robert and Douglas in October. Robert’s brother Edward Bruce devastated Galloway. The English blockade was broken when the Scots captured Aberdeen. Robert appointed Bernard of Linton chancellor, and the first Parliament met at St. Andrews on March 16, 1309. John Segrave led an English expedition against truce-breakers, but at the border he and Bruce agreed to suspend hostilities. By the end of 1309 Robert Bruce controlled more than two-thirds of Scotland, and the clergy recognized him as king in February 1310. King Robert seized £7,000 that he used to pay Scots, Germans, and Flemings who fought the English blockade to bring goods to Scotland.

While the Ordainers governed England, Edward II went north and sent Ingelard Warley to gather supplies for war against Scotland. He borrowed 3,000 marks from the earl of Lincoln and received contributions from religious houses. However, most earls disregarded his summons. In August 1311 Robert Bruce entered Tynedale and then burned Corbridge. Northumberland offered him £2,000 for a truce. Raiding continued the next year, and men on the border paid much for short truces, Lothian buying two for £2,000 each. The Scots could not take Berwick, but in 1313 they captured Perth on January 8, Dumfries castle on February 7, the Isle of Man in May, and Linlithgow in September. Robert announced in November that his opponents had one year to accept his kingship, or their lands would be forfeited. Douglas captured Roxburgh castle on February 20, 1314, and Randolph took Edinburgh on March 14. Robert ordered these castles demolished so that the English could not use them. Edward Bruce had begun besieging Stirling in 1313. Lack of supplies caused Stirling’s governor Philip Mowbray to promise he would surrender before mid-summer 1314 if he was not relieved by King Edward.

In May 1314 Edward II led about 20,000 troops to the border, and they reached Edinburgh in June. Robert Bruce divided his army of about 8,000 into four parts. On June 23 he killed Henry de Bohun with his battle-axe in single combat, and the next morning the armies engaged in the Battle of Bannockburn. The English cavalry did not know there were pits and buried stakes, and the arrows of their archers fell on their own attacking lines as well as the Scots. Robert Bruce ordered Robert Keith and his cavalry to attack the English bowmen. When Scottish guerillas arrived, the English began to flee, many being drowned in the marsh. Gilbert of Gloucester, Robert de Clifford, and 27 other barons were killed. The Scots captured hundreds of knights and made them pay heavy ransoms. In exchange for the earl of Hereford the Scots got fifteen prisoners including the wife and daughter of Robert Bruce and the bishop of Glasgow. Some believed the English lost because Edward had robbed monasteries on his way north and because the night before the battle his men caroused while the Scots fasted and prayed. Robert Bruce became a national hero for defending the independence of Scotland. Only Berwick was still held by the English, but in February 1315 John of Lorne drove a Scottish force off the Isle of Man. That summer Douglas and Murray raided Durham County, and Robert besieged Carlisle. In 1316 the Scots ventured into York and Lancaster.

When King Donnell O’Neill of Tir Eoghain (Tyrone) offered his claim to Ireland to Edward Bruce, the Scots could not resist the temptation to invade. Robert Bruce’s wife Elizabeth was the daughter of the Red Earl of Ulster, and he inherited the earldom of Carrick from his mother and gave it to his brother, providing a landing place on the Antrim coast. Edward Bruce led the invasion in May 1315 with an army of 6,000, and he was joined by Donnell O’Neill as well as O’Cahan, O’Hanlon, MacGilmurry, MacCartan, and O’Hagan. They sacked Dundalk on June 29 and defeated the army led by Earl Richard de Burgh of Ulster in September. That month England sent the chancellor of the exchequer, John de Hotham, back to Ireland, and a parliament met at Dublin on October 27. Rory O’Connor visited Edward Bruce at Coleraine, and they made war on the Galls, giving Rory control of Connacht. Bruce invaded Meath and defeated Roger Mortimer in December. In February 1316 the Scots defeated the justiciar Edmund le Botiller in Kildare. Edward Bruce held a parliament in Ulster and hanged many, and on May 2 he was crowned king of Ireland near Dundalk. The siege of Carrickfergus castle lasted several months before it surrendered in September. O’Neill remained supportive of Bruce, but most of the Irish were disillusioned by the Scots.

Robert Bruce joined his brother Edward at Carrickfergus in February 1317, and they ravaged the midlands. The mayor of Dublin suspected the earl of Ulster because his daughter was married to Robert Bruce, and he imprisoned Richard de Burgh on February 21. In March the new Pope John XXII warned Robert Bruce not to attack England, Wales, or Ireland, and he sent two cardinals to make peace. Donnell O’Neill sent a letter to the Pope calling himself the king of Ulster and accusing Thomas de Clare of having murdered Brian O’Brien in 1277 and the MacMurroughs in 1282, and Peter de Bermingham of killing the O’Connors in 1305.

After Dublin withstood a siege, Robert returned to Scotland with his starving army in April 1317. That spring Roger Mortimer of Wigmore was appointed justiciar of Ireland and arrived with an English army. He drove the Lacys out of Meath, and Edward Bruce retreated to the north. The English hired a thousand Genoese soldiers, who landed at Dublin in July. Mortimer was recalled in May 1318, but on October 14 the Anglo-Irish army led by John de Bermingham defeated and killed Edward Bruce near Dundalk. The earl of Ulster had Mortimer issue the O’Madden Tract which described the Scottish invaders as worse than the English. Mortimer was appointed justiciar in March 1319 and reached Ireland in June. Bermingham was made earl of Louth in May and was granted Louth for life. Those who sided with the Scots lost their lands, which were given as rewards. The princes appealed to Pope John XXII and condemned English rule in Ireland. Little was done to bring English law and culture other than a failed attempt to establish a university at Dublin in 1320. After appointing Earl Thomas fitz John of Kildare as his deputy in September, Mortimer returned to England.

Robert Bruce did not allow the papal legates to cross the border. In 1317 Bruce rejected a truce the papal envoys wanted to mediate because he wanted to take Berwick. Bribery enabled the Scots to do that on April 2, 1318, and they gained control of most of Northumberland. Scots raided Yorkshire in May, burning Northallerton and Boroughbridge. Pope John XXII excommunicated Robert Bruce in June and placed Scotland under an interdict.

The English army mustered more than 8,000 men at Newcastle in June 1319, and they began the siege of Berwick on September 7. That month Bruce sent a Scottish force led by James Douglas to attack Yorkshire. The Scots were victorious and moved on to Lancaster’s castle at Pontefract. Lancaster and his men left the English army to protect his lands while Douglas and the Scots escaped. The English withdrew from the siege, and a two-year truce was proclaimed on the first day of 1320. The bishops of St. Andrews, Dunkeld, Aberdeen, and Moray refused to obey a summons sent by Pope John. On April 6, 1320 King Robert, the bishop of St. Andrews, eight earls, 31 barons, and other nobility sent the Declaration of Arbroath to the Pope explaining that the Scots were fighting a legitimate war against English aggression for their independence and that Robert’s kingship was supported by the united community. A conspiracy to place William Soules of Liddesdale on the Scottish throne was discovered, and three of the signatories of the Arbroath Declaration and three others were convicted and hanged.

After the truce ended, early in January 1322 Randolph, Douglas, and the Steward invaded and ravaged northwest England. Robert Bruce plundered Cumberland in July. Edward II and his army attacked the Lothians; but the Scots avoided a direct confrontation, and Bruce’s scorched-earth policy left little for the English. When the starving English withdrew, Bruce pursued them and nearly captured Edward. Bruce led a raid into north Yorkshire in October. In January 1323 Andrew Harclay visited King Robert at Lochmaben, and they negotiated an agreement that would recognize Robert as king of an independent Scotland, and he would pay England £4,000 a year for ten years. Edward II disliked this so much that he had Harclay hanged in February. On April 18 the new Count Louis of Nevers ordered all Scots to leave Flanders, and on May 30 Scotland agreed to a 13-year truce with England. In January 1324 Pope John recognized Robert as king of Scotland. On March 5 Robert’s son David was born at Dunfermline.

In April 1326 Scotland signed a treaty of alliance with France, and Scottish scholars attended the universities of Paris and Orleans. In 1327 Scotland’s wool exports increased to 5,000 sacks a year. Robert Bruce went to Ulster in April to see if he could get support for an invasion of Wales; but Edward III was generally recognized in Ireland, and Bruce left in the spring. Then he led a campaign that tried to annex Northumberland to Scotland, raiding Durham County in June. Edward led the English army and met the Scots at Stanhope Park in August, but he withdrew to York. Then Bruce invaded Northumberland. Queen Isabella and Mortimer sued for peace, and finally on March 17, 1328 at Edinburgh a treaty was signed that was ratified by Parliament at Northampton in May. The English recognized Scotland’s independence, and Scotland paid England £20,000 in compensation for money they had extorted from northern England. Robert’s 4-year-old son David married Edward III’s 7-year-old sister Joan on July 16 at Berwick. On October 15 the papacy lifted the interdict on Scotland and the excommunication of Robert. Since 1327 Robert Bruce had been seriously ill, probably with leprosy, and he died on June 7, 1329.

Scotland 1329-1400

After King Robert died, Earl Thomas Randolph of Moray became guardian of Scotland for the child David II. James Douglas fulfilled the last wish of King Robert by taking his heart on a crusade to fight the Moors in Spain, where Douglas died on March 25, 1330. Edward III began ruling England himself in October. After the last installment was paid to England at midsummer 1331, Henry Beaumont brought the exiled prince Edward Balliol to England. On November 24 seven-year-old David II was crowned at Scone. On July 20, 1332 the earl of Moray died while preparing to defend against an attack by Edward Balliol, and the magnates chose Robert Bruce’s nephew Donald of Mar to be guardian on August 2. Nine days later Balliol’s forces defeated the Scots at Dupplin near Perth, killing the earl of Mar.

Edward Balliol was crowned at Scone on September 24; but he was driven out of the country in December after the capture of Andrew Murray in October. In March 1333 Balliol led the English in a siege of Berwick and was joined by Edward III in May. The English king repudiated the treaty of Edinburgh, and on July 19 he helped his namesake with a major victory at Halidon Hill, killing Archibald Douglas and taking Berwick. Young David II took refuge in France while his supporters stayed and fought for him. Henry Beaumont was made earl of Moray and Buchan, Richard Talbot lord of Mar, and David of Strathbogie earl of Atholi and steward of Scotland. Balliol held a parliament at Holyrood in February 1334. Other than the disinherited, few Scottish magnates attended. Balliol met with Edward III on June 12 and granted him land worth £2,000 a year that included the sheriffdoms of Berwick, Roxburgh, Selkirk, Peebles, Edinburgh, and Dumfries, the constabularies of Linlithgow and Haddington, and the forests of Ettrick and Jedburgh. Balliol did homage to Edward for what remained of Scotland.

Scotland had no guardian until 1334 when young Robert Stewart (David’s heir) and Earl John Randolph of Moray were appointed. That spring Randolph invited David II and his queen to live in France. Randolph returned to Scotland with the promise of French aid, and he and the steward Robert led the Bruce party in regaining most of southwest Scotland. Then they invaded the territories that Balliol had ceded. On September 27 David of Strathbogie was forced to change sides. Andrew Murray had been ransomed and led the Scots in besieging Beaumont in Dundarg castle, which capitulated by the end of the year; Beaumont went to England to get ransom money.

Edward III left Newcastle in November with only 4,000 troops and rebuilt Roxburgh castle before disbanding in February 1335. In July he marched out of Carlisle with more than 13,000 men. John Randolph was escorting the captured count of Namur to England to get a £4,000 ransom, but he was caught and imprisoned for several years. Edward III and Balliol established themselves at Perth in August, and David of Strathbogie changed his allegiance again to become Balliol’s lieutenant in the north. Fifty ships brought 1,500 men from Ireland in September, and they attacked the lands of the steward Robert. On November 29 William Douglas defeated and killed David of Strathbogie in the forest of Culblean. Murray used Bruce’s strategy of avoiding battles and dismantling fortresses, and he regained most of Scotland for David II. Edward III extended the truce to May 1336.

A council at Dunfermline reinstated Andrew Murray as guardian. He was attacked by the English on July 15 while he was hearing mass at Stronkalter. In late 1336 Murray destroyed the fortresses at Dunnottar, Kinneff, Lauriston, and Kinclaven. Before Edward III could arrive, the buildings at Aberdeen were demolished. Edward was building new fortifications and using them for administration. The Scottish scorched-earth policy left southern Scotland devastated. By 1337 Edward III had spent £51,000 in the last three years paying for soldiers and fortifications, and in March he appointed Earl Thomas Beauchamp of Warwick to lead his army in Scotland. Murray retired to his Avoch castle in Ross and died in the spring of 1338. Steward Robert was made guardian at the age of 22. Perth capitulated on August 17 before Balliol could relieve it. A parliament met there on October 24, 1339 and approved the siege of Perth. The Scots regained Edinburgh in April 1341.

David II was 17 years old when he returned with Queen Joan to govern Scotland in June 1341. A parliament at Scone in September raised revenues from the kirk, the sheriffdoms, and the burghs. In February 1342 David led a raid into Northumberland to the Tyne. On March 30 Alexander Ramsay captured Roxburgh castle, and after six months of siege Stirling capitulated on April 10. The English launched heavy raids in 1342 and 1345, and in 1346 the Scottish army was defeated at Neville’s Cross outside Durham, capturing David II. In May 1347 Edward Balliol tried to regain the Scottish crown, but he had only 3,360 men and purchased a truce on September 8 for £9,000. Yet the English had gained Berwick, Roxburgh, Peebles, Dumfries, Jedburgh, Selkirk, and Ettrick and would hold them for more than a century. Scotland defended itself with a citizen force of men who served at their own expense for forty days a year. After 1347 English armies never stayed in Scotland for more than three weeks. The bubonic plague came to Scotland in 1349; many people died, but few magnates were infected.

In 1351 the French promised one thousand troops if the English invaded. In the autumn of 1355 they sent Scotland a £7,000 subsidy. In the early 1350s the Scots regained territory, and King David rejected any English demand for overlordship. He was allowed to visit Scotland on parole in February 1352, but the Scots would not agree to be subject to the king of England to gain his release. David did not start a civil war and returned to the Tower of London in June. In 1355 the steward Robert married John Randolph’s widow, Euphemia of Ross. In November some Scots captured the town of Berwick and besieged the castle. Edward III returned from France and took back Berwick on January 20, 1356. In February the English ravaged Lothian and regained some border shires, but that year Balliol resigned his claims.

In the Treaty of Berwick on October 7, 1357 David II was ransomed for 100,000 marks (£66,667) payable over ten years of truce while 23 hostages were held. The truce was to last until 1384. As soon as King David returned, Queen Joan went to try to negotiate a peace treaty with her brother Edward III. A council met at Scone and ratified the ransom treaty on November 6. The council also recognized the burgesses as one of the “three communities” along with the nobility and clergy. Export duties on wool were doubled in 1358 and were triple the next year. New trading with England increased prosperity. David also went to London in 1359, but he could not achieve a peace treaty. He tried to get France to contribute to his ransom; but their war against Edward III blocked that, and in June 1360 David stopped making payments. Because taxation was not reduced and hostages were still held, people in Scotland resented David. His mistress Katherine Mortimer was stabbed to death on the road near Soutra. Earl Thomas Stewart of Angus was suspected and was arrested; he died in prison of the second plague that broke out in 1361. Queen Joan stayed in England and died there in 1362.

David hoped to marry Margaret Logie to produce an heir. Magnates circulated a petition that he dismiss her and his counselors. Not paying the ransom, David had money to pay soldiers and fortify castles. The earls of Douglas and March led a rebellion but had to submit. David then married Margaret in April 1363, and on May 14 the Steward was forced to pledge his loyalty to David. In May 1365 David agreed to pay £4,000 a year for his ransom. In 1366 national land valuations were reduced nearly by half. In June 1368 the parliament at Scone raised customs duties to four times what they were in 1357 for the ransom. In 1369 David used military force to make John of the Isles submit to his sovereignty. In 1370 Edward III lowered the installments to 4,000 marks. In the last year of David’s reign the chamberlain took in £15,359, mostly from export duties. By 1370 serfdom had disappeared from Scotland.

David II died childless on February 22, 1371 and was succeeded by his nephew Robert II. Parliament immediately sent a delegation to France to renew the alliance, and Robert ratified the Treaty of Vincennes on October 28. He did not always enforce the law, and because of the homicides in March 1372 the Parliament passed emergency laws for three years. In 1375 John Barbour, who had attended Oxford University, completed his romantic poem on the life of Robert Bruce in 7,000 rhymed couplets that includes one of the first odes to freedom. In 1376 the Scots raided across the border. When Richard II became king of England in 1377, Scotland stopped making David’s ransom payments, having paid £50,000. John Mercer had lost merchandise when one of his ships wrecked on the Northumberland coast in 1376. When he became chamberlain, he paid only half the last ransom payment in 1377, keeping 2,000 marks to pay for his lost merchandise. His son Andrew led a squadron of French, Spanish, and Scottish ships that sacked Scarborough in 1378. Border raids that year led to an incident at the fair of Roxburgh, and at the next fair the earl of March sacked and burned Roxburgh. On November 4, 1382 while he was sheriff of Lanark, the King’s nephew James Lindsay of Crawford murdered the thane of Glamis; but he was not punished.

In May 1383 the English demanded the return of land they lost since 1376. They threatened to invade if the remainder of David’s ransom was not paid. The French promised to send money and troops to Scotland if war broke out. In March 1384 the Scots took Locmaben castle and Teviotdale, and English retaliation was brief; they held only Berwick, Roxburgh, and Jedburgh. Scotland was allowed to join the English-French truce that would last until May, when France sent 1,500 troops and £8,000. Richard II led a massive army in July 1385. The Scots used the schism as an excuse to burn religious houses at Melrose, Dryburgh, and Newbattle. Faced with the Scotch scorched-earth policy, the starving English army had to withdraw. A truce was made in September, and the French left. When the war against France caused England to become bankrupt in 1388, the Scots invaded Ireland and northern England in the west and east, winning a victory at Otterburn on August 5 and capturing Hotspur. In December the three estates chose the King’s second son Robert Stewart to be guardian of the realm. In 1389 Robert II agreed to a long truce.

Robert II died on April 19, 1390; but it was not until August 14 that his oldest son, Earl John of Carrick, was crowned Robert III because the name John was considered unlucky. During the interval the burghs of Forres and Elgin with its cathedral were burned by Highlanders led by the new king’s brother, Earl Alexander Stewart of Buchan, who had been removed as justiciar of the north in 1388 and was called the “Wolf of Badenoch.” While Lowlanders spoke English, most Highlanders spoke Gaelic. In 1390 the amount of silver in the coins was reduced, beginning inflation. In 1392 Highlanders raided Angus. In 1394 Earl Thomas Dunbar of Moray paid protection money to Alastair Carrach of Lochaber, brother of Donald of the Isles. On September 28, 1396 at Perth the feuding Chatt and Kay clans fought a mortal combat before King Robert in which 48 out of the 60 participating were killed. In 1398 the Percies demanded land in Scotland. That year the estates sent an army to bring Donald and his brothers to justice. When Donald released Alistair, the council at Linlithgow in November 1399 ordered Donald to appear before Parliament.

In 1398 Robert III made his son David the duke of Rothesay and his brother Robert the duke of Albany. They and the new earl of Crawford met with the duke of Lancaster in March and extended the truce. To help enforce the laws the council at Perth in January 1399 made the duke of Rothesay the king’s lieutenant for three years When Richard II was deposed, the Scots raided England. After rejecting peace based on the treaty of 1328, on August 6, 1400 England’s Henry IV sent a letter to Robert III asking for his homage and fealty. Robert refused, and Henry led a campaign to Edinburgh that failed.

Scotland and Ireland 1400-1517

Edward II and the Ordinances 1307-27

Edward II began his reign by recalling his best friend Piers de Gaveston, who was given the earldom of Cornwall on August 6 and married the King’s niece Margaret de Clare. Antony Bek was restored to the see of Durham, and Edward wrote to Pope Clement V asking that Robert Winchelsey be reinstated as archbishop of Canterbury. He dismissed Treasurer Walter Langton and ordered his temporalities seized in September. Edward’s wine-drinking friend Walter Reynolds was appointed treasurer, and William Melton was given custody of the privy seal. The new King called off the Scottish campaign, and he ordered the earl of Richmond and Aymer de Valence, the earl of Pembroke, to keep the peace in the north. The Parliament met at Northampton and granted a fifteenth from the clergy and a fifteenth and a twentieth from the laity. Gaveston won jousts at a tournament in December but made enemies with his arrogant name-calling. After appointing the new earl of Cornwall keeper of the realm, Edward left for France, where he did homage to Philippe IV for Aquitane and Ponthieu and then married his 12-year-old daughter Isabella at Boulogne on January 23, 1308. That month the bishop of Durham and the earls of Lincoln, Warenne, Pembroke, and Hereford and five barons wrote letters patent at Boulogne expressing loyalty to the King but criticizing the oppression of the government. Gaveston ruled England until the King returned, and he was prominent at the coronation on February 25. Edward took the oath in French rather than in Latin.

The barons did not like Gaveston, and Henry of Lincoln led a party that included his son-in-law Thomas of Lancaster, Guy of Warwick, Humphrey de Bohun of Hereford, Aymer de Valence, and John de Warenne. At the Parliament in April they came armed and forced the King to promise to banish Gaveston by June 25. Edward recognized Lancaster as steward in May, but he granted Gaveston castles in England, land in Aquitane worth 3,000 marks a year, and appointed him his lieutenant in Ireland. Edward managed to get his excommunication annulled, and Lincoln and Pembroke returned to loyalty. He reversed the banishment and went to the Parliament at Stamford in July with Gaveston. In early 1309 Pope Clement V and Philippe IV sent envoys who persuaded Edward and Robert Bruce to accept a truce until November.

In October 1309 the earls of Lancaster, Lincoln, Warwick, Oxford, and Arundel refused to attend a council at York, and the following February they did not appear at the Parliament while Gaveston was there. On March 16 Edward agreed in letters patent to let Ordainers reform the realm and his household. The magnates chose seven bishops including the archbishop of Canterbury, the earls of Gloucester, Lancaster, Lincoln, Pembroke, Hereford, Warwick, Richmond, and Arundel, and six barons. Chancellor Langton was ordered to accompany the King, who then replaced him with Walter Reynolds. The truce with Scotland was extended twice to the summer of 1310. By then Edward was planning a campaign because he believed Bruce had broken the truce. Edward went north and stayed at Berwick until July 1311. The only earls who accompanied the King were Gloucester, Warenne, and Gaveston of Cornwall. Henry of Lincoln died in February and was replaced as regent by the Earl of Gloucester. Thomas of Lancaster inherited the earldoms of Lincoln and Salisbury, making him the richest earl.

Edward pawned the crown jewels for a loan of 4,000 marks. He came late to the Parliament at Westminster in August 1311 and offered to accept any ordinance about himself if Gaveston was left unharmed. The barons would not compromise, and the royal advisors persuaded Edward to avoid civil war by yielding. Parliament published the Ordinances on September 30, and the King ordered them proclaimed five days later throughout the land. They condemned Gaveston and dismissed all his relatives and friends, and his exile was renewed. The King’s cousin Henry de Beaumont and his wife Isabella de Vescy were also condemned along with the banker Amerigo dei Frescobaldi, who fled the country, never recovered his loans, and went bankrupt. The Ordinances required the king to stay in the realm and not to engage in a foreign war without the approval of the barons in Parliament. Great officers were to be appointed with the advice and consent of Parliament, which was to meet at least once a year. In November the magnates in Parliament promulgated more ordinances demanding that others be removed from court, including John Charlton, Ingelard Warley, and John Ockham. After Parliament dissolved, Edward went to Windsor and complained he was being treated as an idiot. Piers de Gaveston hid and joined the King for Christmas. Robert Bruce invaded Northumberland in September. After much devastation the Northumbrians bought a truce on February 2, 1312 for £2,000.

In January 1312 King Edward II ordered chancery to move north to York, and he tried to recall Walter Langton. A writ on January 20 restored all the lands of Gaveston, and in March he was assigned the port customs at Berwick to repay Edward’s debt. The King granted Gaveston custody of Scarborough castle, and conflict appeared likely. Archbishop Winchelsey excommunicated Gaveston, who had obtained many of the crown jewels.

Lancaster, Pembroke, Hereford, Arundel, and Warwick formed a confederacy to defend the Ordinances. Gloucester offered to hold London and the south. Tournaments were used to prepare for war. Rich Thomas of Lancaster led the opposition, and on May 4 he attacked Edward and Gaveston at Newcastle; but Gaveston escaped to Scarborough, and Edward went to York. Newcastle surrendered, and Lancaster seized the royal servants, arms, and treasure. Pembroke and Warenne forced Gaveston to capitulate, but he was assured personal immunity. However, Guy of Warwick captured Gaveston and threw him into a dungeon. On June 19 two Welshmen in Lancaster’s retinue executed Gaveston as an outlaw. Pembroke and Warenne came back to the King’s side. After a long debate in Parliament in the fall the barons apologized to the King and were given a general amnesty. The Parliaments in the spring and summer of 1313 accomplished little, and Edward made two trips to France. Winchelsey died, and Walter Reynolds paid a substantial amount to become archbishop of Canterbury. The Ordinance of the Staple required all merchants to export their wool only to the foreign port at St. Omer.

Meanwhile Bruce had raised a large army, and in August 1312 he invaded England again, burning Hexham and Corbridge. On December 6 he attacked Berwick by surprise with scaling ladders, but it was saved by a barking dog. However, the Scots took Perth on January 10, 1313 because the watch was negligent. The people of Durham paid £2,000 for a truce on June 24. James Douglas led Scots in a siege of Roxburgh in late February 1314, and then Thomas Randolph attacked the castle of Edinburgh. After Edward Bruce besieged Stirling castle, Philip Mowbray arranged a truce; if no English army relieved them before midsummer, they would surrender. News of these fallen fortresses stimulated Edward to summon the earls and barons, and he was supported by Pembroke, Hereford, Gloucester, Robert de Clifford, and Hugh Despenser. Pembroke was sent to reconnoiter, and on March 24 he was appointed lieutenant of Scotland. They aimed to raise 21,500 infantry from England and Wales. Instead of giving alms to monasteries, they took goods from them.

On June 23, 1314 the English led by Clifford tried to keep some Scots from fleeing; but they were separated from the main army and were put to flight. The English were dispirited, and for once Bruce was persuaded to risk a major battle the next day. The English warhorses were impaled on Scottish lances, and Gloucester was unhorsed and killed. The English were trapped in bogs, and their greater numbers could not be deployed. The English suffered one of their biggest defeats ever, and Northumbria was subjected to Scottish raids during the first half of the next year. By expelling the Scots from the Isle of Man in 1315 the English controlled the Irish Sea. Bruce attacked Berwick in January 1316, and their scorched-earth tactic made the famine and pestilence worse.

In England the earl of Pembroke presided over the royal council and governed. King Edward granted the implementation of the Ordinances. Walter Reynolds had been removed as treasurer in 1314, and in February 1315 Walter Langton and the elder Despenser were removed from the council. After Guy of Warwick died in August, Thomas of Lancaster took power. He arrived at the Parliament at Lincoln on February 12, 1316 and directed their attention to the Scottish war. The bishop of Norwich said that the King wanted Lancaster to be chief of the council and handle all his affairs. Because Lancaster controlled Parliament he could remove any member of the council who disagreed with him. Funds were raised for the war, and a muster was ordered for July at Newcastle.

Many officials hated Lancaster, and discord pervaded the kingdom. Six bad harvests in a row and torrential rains caused grain prices to multiply by eight. Cattle died in a plague, and the prices of food increased enormously. Government price limits were futile because dealers withdrew their goods until the law was repealed in 1316. The Scots continued to raid border counties and Yorkshire. A revolt in the Lancaster household led by Adam Banaster was suppressed by Robert Holland. Lancaster’s wife Alice Lacey left him and found refuge with Earl Warenne, causing a private war in Yorkshire. When the King ordered the royal army to gather at York, Lancaster had the bridges broken.

A third group called the Middle Party was led by Aymer de Valence of Pembroke. He and other envoys traveled to Avignon in late 1316, and many prelates and household officers joined their party. Bartholomew Badlesmere and Roger Damory made an agreement with Pembroke with Damory pledging £10,000 as security. The Middle Party wanted to maintain the Ordinances and reform the administration. In April 1318 they met leaders of the Lancaster party at Leicester and agreed on the reforms. Then King Edward swore he would confirm the Ordinances and accept Lancaster and the counsel of the barons. On August 9 Lancaster and the Middle Party made a treaty at Leake in Nottinghamshire to maintain the Ordinances, and Lancaster was pardoned. Parliament was summoned, and a standing council was established. Badlesmere became steward of the household, and helped Pembroke gain the power that Lancaster had exercised. Lancaster refused to attend the Parliament at York in January 1320. That summer King Edward went to France and designated Pembroke as keeper of the realm.

Hugh Despenser the elder claimed he had inherited Glamorgan and adjacent lands in Wales from Gloucester and wanted to become the earl. He persuaded King Edward that Gower had no legal heir and was crown property. Llewelyn Bren believed he had been dispossessed; after his complaint to King Edward was dismissed, he and his six sons took over Glamorganshire. Despenser had him executed and was blamed by Welshmen. In January 1321 the King ordered Hereford and other barons not to discuss affairs of the realm, and in March he forbade assemblies of men in the Welsh marches. This order was ignored, and confederates seized Newport and took over Glamorgan. At the York Parliament on May 2 the King produced a judgment for Despenser, though Wales was represented for the first time with 46 members. In May a league of Welsh marchers ravaged Hugh’s land in South Wales.

In the north Thomas of Lancaster organized an assembly at Pontefract on May 24 that was attended by northern magnates, who promised to defend each others’ lands. He invited more barons to meet at Sherburn-in-Elmet on June 28, and Bohun of Hereford and Roger Mortimer of Wigmore attended. Some sixty magnates pledged to destroy the Despensers because they were bad administrators and were ruining the finances of the kingdom. Edward called a Parliament at Westminster in July; but protesting barons wearing white bands charged the Despensers with being bad counselors and banished them, confiscating much of their ill-gained property, while Lancaster and five hundred of his followers were issued formal pardons.

In October 1321 Queen Isabella was denied hospitality by the constable Bartholomew de Badlesmere’s wife at the castle of Leeds in Kent that was part of her dowry, and six in her party were killed or wounded. So King Edward raised a large army with a muster of all men between the ages of 16 and 60, and they took Leeds castle. The seneschal Walter Colepepper and eleven of his men were hanged from the battlements, and Lady Badlesmere was taken to the Tower of London.

On December 10 Edward persuaded a convocation of bishops to condemn the banishing of the Despensers. In January 1322 he crossed the Severn at Shrewsbury, and the Mortimers submitted. Edward’s army took over the strongholds in the middle and southern marches, and he announced he would march against the magnates in the north. They took Tutbury on March 12. Lancaster’s alliance with Scotland was discovered, and Edward proclaimed him a rebel, sending a force led by the earls of Kent and Surrey to besiege Pontefract castle. Lancaster divided his army; Hereford was killed, and Roger de Clifford was seriously wounded. Lancaster tried to stop Edward from crossing the Trent, displaying his treason. Then he and his remaining troops fled, but they were defeated by Harclay at Boroughbridge in Yorkshire and surrendered. Edward ordered the prisoners brought to him at Pontefract, and on March 22 Thomas of Lancaster was beheaded. On May 2 the Parliament meeting at York restored Edward II’s power by repealing the Ordinances. Clifford, Dayville, Mowbray, Badlesmere, Henry Tyes, and fifteen other knights were hanged. Both Mortimers were imprisoned in the Tower while others fled to France.

In response to Scottish raids into northwest England in 1322 Edward II and his army attacked the Lothians. The Scots avoided a battle, and after suffering hunger and disease the English withdrew. They were pursued, and Edward barely escaped. Northerners including Bishop Louis de Beaumont of Durham and Earl Andrew Harclay of Carlisle began negotiating with the Scots, but Harclay was executed in March 1323 for suggesting a peace based on English recognition of Bruce as king of Scotland. On May 30 Pembroke, Robert Baldock, and the younger Despenser negotiated a 13-year truce.

Baldock became chancellor in 1323 and worked for reform, but the avarice of the Despensers alienated many. In September 1324 the younger Hugh Despenser deposited £6,000 with the Florentine bankers Bardi and Peruzzi, and by 1326 he had sent Peruzzi another £5,735. The younger Hugh Despenser was trying to get Edward’s marriage annulled, and in September 1324 Isabella’s estates were sequestered because of a feared invasion by France. English envoys could not settle conflicts over Gascony, which provided England with a substantial income and most of its wine. Charles IV had a fortified town built in Gascony, and in November 1323 the seneschal Ralph Basset had it burned down and hanged a French sergeant. In March 1325 Isabella sailed for France and was able to win recognition of Edward’s lands if he would perform homage. Edward declared in August that he was too ill to travel; but the Despensers persuaded him to invest 13-year-old Prince Edward with Gascony and Ponthieu, and he went and performed homage to Charles IV on September 21. King Edward had to pay £60,000 to relieve his duchy of Gascony plus 50,000 marks (£33,333) as a war indemnity.

Isabella became the mistress of exiled Roger Mortimer in Paris and wrote that she and Edward would not return as long as the younger Despenser was still at court. King Edward punished Mortimer’s wife and children, and Pope John XXII demanded that King Charles send away the adulterous Isabella and Mortimer. They visited Count Willem of Hainaut, Holland, and Zeeland, and his daughter Philippa was betrothed to young Edward. Willem offered her a force of Hainauters. English sailors refused to fight for King Edward because they were angry at Hugh Despenser.

The Queen’s company sailed from Dordrecht in September 1326 and landed with about 1,500 men in little Suffolk to destroy the Despensers. She was supported by the gentry of East Anglia, Thomas of Norfolk, Henry of Leicester, and the bishops of Ely, Lincoln, and Hereford. London was behind her rather than Edward, who offered a reward of £1,000 for Mortimer’s head. Londoners decided that no foreign troops would be allowed in the city; but none of London’s troops could serve a mile outside the city walls. Bishop Stapledon of Exeter came from Paris to warn Edward, but a mob in London had him beheaded. Henry of Lancaster led an army from the north and offered £2,000 for the head of the younger Despenser. Edward fled London to the west with the Despensers, Bishop Thomas Arundel of Ely, Earl John de Warenne of Surrey, and Baldock. Copies of Isabella’s letter demanding the death of the Despensers were posted, and on October 15 citizens forced Mayor Hamo de Chigwell to declare her enemies in danger. She called for an election, and Mortimer’s candidate and Edward’s enemy Richard de Bettoyne won and appointed John de Gisors constable of the Tower.

On October 26, 1326 magnates meeting at Bristol proclaimed Prince Edward keeper of the realm, and he issued writs for a Parliament to convene at Westminster. The elder Hugh Despenser had to give up Bristol, and on October 27 he was brought before Norfolk, Kent, Leicester, Mortimer, and other magnates, who condemned him without the right to answer for robbing the land and treason; he was hanged. Arundel and others were executed without trials in November. The younger Despenser was captured and accused of causing the loss of 20,000 English against the Scots by his incompetence, and he was hanged. Baldock died of his injuries in prison. The Bishop of Hereford demanded the great seal from Edward at Monmouth and took it to the Queen on November 26. At this time the royal treasury had £60,000.

In the Parliament at Westminster that began on January 7, 1327 the Commons were well represented. Edward II was charged with the following six crimes: following evil counselors; neglecting public business because of his amusements; losing Scotland, Ireland, and Gascony; injuring the Church; putting many great men to death; and breaking his coronation oath. On January 15 the archbishop of Canterbury speaking of the vox populi and vox dei announced that the magnates had unanimously deposed Edward II and replaced him with his son Edward. The King was persuaded to abdicate in favor of his son, and the reign of Edward III began on January 25. Edward II was held at Kenilworth, and Mortimer moved him to Berkeley castle in April. The Dominican Thomas Dunhead led a conspiracy that tried to free him from his dungeon; but he was recaptured, and Dunhead suffered a painful death. A Welsh attempt was discovered, and on September 21 Edward was killed. He was disemboweled so that no marks would show on his body, and they announced he died of natural causes.

Edward III and National War 1327-50

Edward III was crowned king of England at the age of 14 on February 1, 1327, and Henry of Lancaster was named chief of the regency council. Roger Mortimer was not on the council, but his interests were represented by Chancellor Hotham of Ely, Treasurer Orleton of Hereford, Oliver Ingham, and Simon Bereford. Henry was able to get his brother Thomas of Lancaster’s name vindicated, and his inheritance was restored. Queen Isabella’s dower was reinstated and increased to £13,333. Mortimer ruled through the Queen and began acquiring enormous grants of property from Despenser, Arundel, and others. On March 31 they signed a treaty that recognized Charles IV of France with what he had in 1324 and reduced English territory in Gascony. On January 24, 1328 Edward married Philippa of Hainaut. When Charles died one week later, Edward III put forward his claim to France by his mother; but Philip of Valois was made king.

The Queen and Mortimer planned to use the Hainaut mercenaries against Scotland; but after a brawl with the citizens of York, they were sent home. The English and Scottish armies nearly met in Northumberland, but the English withdrew to Newcastle despite their greater numbers. One hundred Scottish knights were invited to the Parliament at York on February 7, 1328, and the Treaty of Northampton recognized Robert Bruce as king of an independent Scotland with the border as in the reign of Alexander III. Bruce agreed to pay £20,000 in three years. This was intended to pay back the north for its losses, but Isabella appropriated much of it. Bruce’s 4-year-old son David was betrothed to Edward’s 7-year-old daughter Joan. This treaty was unpopular, and the government banned tournaments.

In October 1328 Lancaster refused to attend the Parliament at Salisbury which made Mortimer the powerful earl of the March. Lancaster was joined by lords who had lost land in Scotland, and they organized troops at Winchester. The archbishop of Canterbury asked the King to avoid using force, but Edward said he would fight rebels who did not submit by January 7, 1329. Henry Beaumont and three others were excepted, and they fled to France. Lancaster swore an oath, but the court did not accept it. Mortimer invaded the Leicester estates of Lancaster in January, forcing him to accept peace. Edward did homage to King Philippe VI on June 6, 1329. Norfolk and Kent had joined and then deserted Lancaster. Yet Isabella and Mortimer sent agents who fooled Kent into trying to rescue the late Edward II, who was rumored to be alive. In March 1330 Kent was arrested in the Winchester Parliament, tried, and executed.

Edward III’s son Edward of Woodstock was born on June 15, 1330. Lancaster with help from the keeper of the privy seal, Richard Bury, and a yeoman of the household, William Montagu, persuaded King Edward to free himself from Mortimer and his mother. With support from the King and Pope John XXII, Montagu interrogated suspects during a great council at Nottingham in October 1330. Edward and the conspirators arrested Mortimer and took him to London. A few weeks later Mortimer’s peers in the Parliament convicted him of treason, and he was hanged on November 29. Mortimer’s great estates went to the Crown, and Simon Bereford was also executed. Isabella surrendered her ill-gotten gains and was allowed £3,000 a year. King Edward valued chivalry and sponsored tournaments with jousting. In December he wrote to young David II asking him to restore lands to Beaumont and Thomas Wake.

In 1332 York became the administrative center for the next five years. Beaumont brought Edward Balliol to England and worked to organize an invasion of Scotland. However, Edward ordered the sheriffs of the five northern counties to forbid war preparations and to arrest anyone violating the peace. He did accept homage from Balliol, and he helped Beaumont raise money. Avoiding the prohibition of a land invasion, the disinherited sailed from the Humber and landed in Fife on August 6. Five days later they defeated a larger force of Scots at Dupplin Moor, and Balliol was crowned at Scone in September. He went to Roxburgh and recognized Edward III as his superior and gave him land worth £2,000 a year. Balliol went to Annan, where Archibald Douglas and the earl of Moray attacked him on December 17, and he fled to Carlisle. Edward at the York Parliament announced that he considered the 1328 treaty invalid because he was a minor and under a regency. In the spring of 1333 he led an army that besieged Berwick. A Scottish army came to relieve Berwick, but the English archers on Halidon Hill devastated them on July 19.

The English began governing the counties ceded by Balliol. New taxes raised more money in England, but tax quotas on communities affected the poor more. Philip VI invited David II to take refuge in France and persuaded Edward III to accept a truce to last until midsummer 1335. Edward and Balliol led the invasion in July with more than 13,000 men. However, after Edward returned to England, the Scots began winning battles. The English could only hold castles, and by May 1337 they retained only Lothian, the Borders and Dumfriesshire.

Chancellor John Stratford became Edward III’s best friend and closest advisor. Because the royal revenue was only £30,000 a year, Edward borrowed regularly from the Bardi and others. He collected an aid from the clergy for his sister’s marriage in 1333, and the Parliaments of 1333 and 1334 granted tenths and fifteenths. Direct taxation increased in 1336, and in August an embargo was imposed on the export of wool. In December the King authorized Count Willem of Holland to make military alliances on his behalf with the Low Countries to offer fees for service, and in May 1337 the bishop of Lincoln and the earls of Salisbury and Huntingdon formed a great coalition at Valenciennes against France. Duke Jan of Brabant was paid £60,000, and Emperor Ludwig IV was bought for 300,000 florins. On May 24 Philippe VI confiscated the duchy of Aquitane. Edward created the six new earldoms to strengthen his barons for war, and he borrowed £11,732 from the Peruzzi family. When the Low Countries defected from the alliance, Edward abandoned the burdensome continental coalition.

A great council at Westminster in September approved a tenth and fifteenth for three years. Westminster would be the seat of Parliament and the administration for the next forty years of Edward III’s reign. The King’s annual income was now up to £57,000. However, Edward had promised to pay allies £124,000 by the end of the year. Edward claimed the French crown in October. In February 1338 he was authorized to pre-empt half the wool in England (about 20,000 sacks) if he left the other half to his subjects. Based on this security, Edward could borrow more from the Bardi and the Peruzzi. However, his effort to create a monopoly on the export of wool soon broke down because of smuggling and discounted bonds. Ordinances at Walton in Suffolk made on July 12 established permanent policy. Edward left for Antwerp four days later and learned that only 2,500 sacks had arrived. That summer he borrowed £100,000 from Brabant.

In February 1339 the Commons in the Parliament declared, “No free man should be assessed or taxed without the common assent of Parliament.” The next month King Edward appointed Archbishop John Stratford of Canterbury his principal counselor, duke of Cornwall, and keeper of the realm. In September 1338 the Archbishop had received a letter from the Pope urging him to persuade Edward to cancel his imperial alliance. By 1339 Edward had borrowed £76,180 from William de la Pole, and in September he invaded France from Flanders. In early 1340 Edward made an alliance with Jacob van Artevelde in Flanders. Leaving the queen, his children, and the earls of Derby, Northampton, Suffolk, Salisbury, and Warwick as security for his debts, Edward returned to England. On February 8 at Ghent he proclaimed his right to be king of France.

The Parliament won conditions in four statutes in March and granted the ninth sheaf, fleece, and lamb from their lands and a ninth of the citizen’s goods for the years 1340 and 1341. When this was not enough, in July they authorized a loan of 20,000 sacks of wool provided that the owners would be compensated from the proceeds of the subsidy. Yet the Bardi and the Peruzzi were waiting for these proceeds because they had advanced the King £125,000. The unpaid Peruzzi went bankrupt in 1343, and the Bardi collapsed in 1346. During the summer of 1340 the English won a major naval victory over the French fleet at Sluis, killing 16,000, and then they besieged Tournai. Edward withdrew and accepted the Truce of Esplechin on September 25.

On November 30, 1340 Edward began to purge his administration by dismissing the chancellor and treasurer. Four judges and the wool merchants William de la Pole and Reginald Conduit were arrested. Edward took back the lands he had mortgaged. John Stratford withdrew to Canterbury. Robert Stratford and Roger Northburgh were dismissed but not imprisoned because they were clerics. Edward began appointing lay persons so that they would be subject to his royal courts. On December 14 Robert Bourchier became the first lay chancellor, and Robert Parving became treasurer. London became so corrupt that both the innocent and the guilty had to pay to stay out of prison. Tax collectors tried to exact a ninth from clergy who had already paid the tenth.

Parliament met in April 1341, but the King had his men block Robert Stratford from entering for more than a week. They passed a statute protecting the clergy against arbitrary arrest, intrusions by officials, encroachments on their jurisdiction, and payment of the ninth by those who had not had the chance to consent to it in Parliament. They could not be charged except before their peers. Officers of state were to be appointed and sworn in Parliament. In October the King annulled the previous statue, saying it had been forced upon him. Edward commuted the ninth for 30,000 sacks of wool. John Inge, a judge of the common pleas, pleaded guilty to taking money from the accused and litigants on many occasions. The £2-per-sack tax on wool began in 1342 and lasted twenty years.

Only the earl of Derby and the northern lords accompanied Edward III to Scotland in early 1342. When William Norwell was keeper of the King’s wardrobe 1338-40, its issues reached £410,292 and financed this expedition and in March the campaign led by Walter Manny to Brittany in support of John of Montfort against Charles of Blois. Another English army arrived in July and forced Charles to flee from Morlaix on September 30, 1342. Then King Edward himself came to Brittany; but the English were outnumbered and agreed to the truce of Malestroit in January 1343. That year young Edward was made the prince of Wales. In the spring Edward III repudiated the truce and planned three attacks on France. He led the first from Flanders; the earl of Northumberland went directly to Brittany; and Henry of Grossmont, the earl of Derby who had inherited Lancaster, landed in Aquitane in 1345 and stayed to reform the government until 1347. The King was reconciled with John Stratford, who helped persuade bishops to grant a tenth in 1344. Bishops began returning to offices in 1345. Gunpowder was being manufactured in the Tower in 1346-47 from 2,683 pounds of saltpeter and 1,662 pounds of quick sulphur.

In July 1346 Edward III led an army of 15,000 to Cotentin that captured and sacked Caen. They discovered a French plan to invade England and used it as propaganda for the war. In the battle of Crecy on August 26 the Welsh archers using longbows helped the English win a big victory as the 16-year-old Prince Edward “won his spurs” leading part of the attack without reinforcements. Then in August the English army was increased to 32,000 and besieged Calais, which surrendered after a year. The English won another important victory over the Scots at Neville’s Cross on October 17, 1346. These three victories were celebrated in England and increased support for the wars. Ransoms replenished the treasury, and Thomas Dagwood was rewarded with 25,000 gold écus for capturing Charles of Blois. King Edward founded the chivalrous Order of the Garter for 26 knights in 1348.

The bubonic plague reached England in the summer of 1348, Ireland in 1349, and Scotland in 1350. England lost about a third of its population to the Black Death, though few nobles died. Edward’s daughter Joan died of the plague on her way to Spain. In June 1349 the Ordinance of Labourers limited the maximum wage to wages in 1346 and required workers to complete their contracts before changing jobs. Parliament did not meet between April 1348 and February 1351. In 1349 the King crossed the channel with a small band to save Calais from a French attack. In 1350 the English defeated a Castilian merchant fleet off Winchelsea. That year the chief justice on the King’s bench William Thorp was imprisoned for taking bribes. The King’s Chamber benefited from the forfeiture of Thorp’s lands as it had from those of the earl of Desmond in 1346. The accounts of the Chamber were used to pay for war expenses.

Edward III and Prince Edward 1350-77

In 1351 the Commons complained that the merchants had laid a tax on all the people, and they asked the King not to levy this tax in the future without the consent of the entire Parliament. Edward III had banned admitting aliens bearing provisions to English benefices in 1344, and in 1351 the Statute of Provisors prohibited all papal provisions within the English church. England recovered economically from the Black Death and had record exports in the 1350s. Edward III also received at least £268,000 in ransoms from France, Scotland, and the duke of Burgundy. Because charges of treason had been used for such offenses as highway robbery and rioting, in 1352 the Statute of Treasons defined the crime to include killing the king or high officials or violating anyone in the royal family or making war against the kingdom or counterfeiting money. Also that year King Edward agreed that future feudal aids could only be raised after getting Parliament’s consent. William Edington began his royal service by collecting the hated ninth tax in 1340, and then he became keeper of the wardrobe 1341-44, treasurer of the exchequer 1344-56, and chancellor 1356-63. He inherited a huge debt, but as the military campaigns became more efficient and victorious, the finances of England improved. Income from ransoms and pillaging in the war helped many English barons and others become more wealthy. On February 10, 1355 a dispute over wine at Oxford led to men from the town killing 65 students. The university won extensive damages and imposed a heavy fine on the burgesses. The town was put under the authority of the university.

In 1355 Edward III appointed his son Edward his lieutenant in Aquitane, and he went there with a small force in the fall and plundered Languedoc. The King marched north in the winter to take back Berwick from the Scots, and in 1356 he sent Lancaster to Normandy with 1,000 archers and 1,400 soldiers. They relieved Pont Audemer and captured Verneuil, taking many prisoners and much booty. Prince Edward (later called the Black Prince because of his black armor) led the army of 6,000 and used defensive positions at Poitiers on September 19, 1356. After their archers devastated the French charge, the Prince led a cavalry charge that forced the French to flee and captured King Jean. For King Edward he bought fourteen captured nobleman for £66,000. England agreed to the Treaty of Berwick with Scotland in October 1357. The French at first accepted a treaty at London in May 1358, but it was not ratified. The English gained more in the second Treaty of London one year later, but the dauphin Charles and his court rejected its harsh terms. King Edward led an army of 12,000 and besieged Rheims in December 1359; but it was well defended, and the English withdrew after five weeks. Finally a treaty was concluded at Brétigny on May 8, 1360 that gave the English more of Aquitane with Calais, Ponthieu, and Guines, and King Jean’s ransom was set at three million écus. Edward renounced his claim to France, and the treaty was ratified at Calais on October 24.

Edward III’s third son John of Gaunt married Blanche of Lancaster in 1359. Prince Edward of Wales married his cousin Joan of Kent in 1361, and the next year his father granted him the principality of Aquitane. In 1361 Parliament passed more labor regulations, and after 1368 the justices of the peace had permanent jurisdiction for enforcement. In 1362 Parliament opened for the first time with a speech by the King in English instead of French, and he agreed not to tax merchandise without the consent of Parliament. Prince Edward made an alliance with Pedro I of Castile in 1362. That year John of Gaunt by marriage inherited Lancaster and became its duke. A second epidemic killed about a tenth of the remaining English population in 1361-62. When Charles V became king of France in 1364, one of Prince Edward’s spies learned that he intended to form alliances with Scotland and Castile and foment rebellion in Aquitane to recover lost territory and destroy England. In the Treaty of Guérande in 1365 Charles recognized John de Montfort in Brittany in exchange for his homage. Pope Urban V noted that Edward III had not paid his thousand marks a year since 1333. England was more at peace in the 1360s and had no direct taxation.

After Enrique of Trastamara’s French-backed overthrow of Pedro in 1366, Prince Edward led an army into Castile, and on April 3, 1367 they defeated Enrique at Najera to put Pedro back on the throne. Pedro said he would pay Prince Edward’s troops in Spain, but he broke his promise. In the autumn England’s hearth tax imposed on Gascony was bitterly opposed. Edward picked up an illness in Spain that weakened him for the rest of his life. The army expenses for this campaign cost the Prince 1,659,000 florins (£276,500). England’s long war with France resumed when Charles V challenged the English in southern France. When the King summoned Prince Edward to the French parliament in January 1369, he replied that he would come to Paris with 60,000 men. Pedro was assassinated and was replaced by Enrique again in March. Prince Edward led an attack against the French at Limoge in 1370; but his health deteriorated, and he returned to England in January 1371. Pedro’s heiress Constanza married John of Gaunt in September 1371, and the next year John with the council’s approval claimed the crown of Castile; but France backed Enrique in exchange for help from Castile’s navy against the English.

William of Wykeham replaced Edington as the King’s primary agent; he began as the King’s secretary in 1361, and he became keeper of the privy seal in 1363, bishop of Winchester in 1366, and chancellor in 1367. After his wife Philippa died in 1369, Edward III fell under the influence of Alice Perrers, who with the chamberlain William Latimer and household steward John Neville controlled access to the King; but they became involved in a scandal with the financier Richard Lyons. In February 1371 Parliament refused to grant a subsidy for the war until clerics were removed from offices, and they demanded the dismissal of Chancellor Wykeham (Bishop of Winchester) and Treasurer Brantingham (Bishop of Exeter).

Because of Prince Edward’s illness, his brother John of Gaunt became more prominent. In April 1372 the earl of Pembroke became the King’s lieutenant in Aquitane. Duke John IV of Brittany renewed his alliance with England in July. The Parliament that year excluded lawyers and sheriffs. In February 1373 Pope Gregory XI asked for 100,000 florins from the English clergy. In March the earl of Salisbury mustered nearly 5,000 men. Yet the French aided a revolt in Brittany, and John IV fled in April. John of Gaunt led a force to France, but he lost nearly half his men to hunger and disease while marching in the winter to Bordeaux. In April 1375 Edward collected a tenth from the English benefices held by cardinals. In May the English agreed to a truce at Bruges for 53,000 francs. Many believed it was a sell-out, and the English captain Thomas Catterton, who kept some of the money, was accused of treason. The truce would be extended until June 24, 1377. Between 1369 and 1375 England had spent more than £670,000 on the war.

The English Parliament did not meet in 1374 and 1375. In the spring of 1376 the angry Commons in the Parliament elected Peter de la Mare to be their speaker before the lords in the attack on the corruption of the court administration. Latimer and Lyons were imprisoned; Neville was dismissed; and Alice Perrers was banished. In a new process called impeachment the Commons made charges against officials and powerful persons responsible to the nation, and the Lords tried the crimes. Parliament advised Edward to choose nine lords to be on the council permanently. Prince Edward died on June 8, and John of Gaunt governed England during Edward III’s last year. Yet the Commons insisted that the King’s grandson Richard be installed as the prince of Wales and heir. John arrested William of Wykeham and de la Mare. The new council of nine was dismissed, and the acts of the “Good Parliament” were annulled. In the fall the great council examined Wykeham on charges related to ten years earlier, and he was sentenced to forfeit his temporalities. Prince Edward’s son Richard of Bordeaux was made prince of Wales, duke of Cornwall, and earl of Chester, and he received Wykeham’s temporalities.

The Parliament of 1376 refused to vote for a subsidy, and another convened in January 1377 and approved a poll tax. By then Bishop Houghton of St. David’s had become chancellor and Bishop Wakefield of Worcester treasurer. The Commons elected John of Gaunt’s steward, but the magnates insisted on seating the exiled Wykeham. On February 20 a mob in London attacked the residences of Gaunt and Henry Percy, and John got the mayor of London deposed. The spring Parliament quashed the sentences of those impeached. Prince Edward’s widow Joan mediated and helped John reconcile with Wykeham and restore his temporalities on June 18. De la Mare was also released. On June 21 Edward III died. He had reigned for more than fifty years and spent £130,000 on palaces, castles, chapels, and hunting lodges. Yet his military victories made him a popular king.

War Taxes and the Peasants’ Revolt 1377-81

John of Gaunt organized the elaborate coronation of ten-year-old Richard II on July 16, 1377, but he was not on the council of twelve magnates chosen by the Great Council the next day to advise King Richard. Four new earls were created. Thomas of Woodstock was given Buckingham, Henry Percy Northumberland, Thomas Mowbray Nottingham, and the royal tutor Guichard d’Angle Huntingdon. Parliament opened in October, and four wealthy Londoners raised £10,000 and the city of London £5,000. The Commons’ speaker de la Mare gained a promise that no law passed by Parliament could be repealed except by Parliament and that Parliament should elect ministers during the king’s youth. Committees began investigating abuses and government spending. A garrison gained Cherbourg, but Gaunt’s five-month siege of St. Malo failed. John Philipot captured the Scottish pirate John the Mercer. John Neville was sent to lead resistance to the French in Gascony. The squires Robert Hawley and John Shakell were imprisoned during an investigation of their claim to a ransom for a Spanish prisoner. They escaped in the summer of 1378, and the constable Alan Buxhall and chamber knight Ralph Ferres with armed men chased them into a church sanctuary and killed Hawley and a sacristan, upsetting many. That summer French and Castilian ships raided Cornwall, Hastings, Rottingdean, Dartmouth, and Plymouth, and they burned Rye.

In the Parliament at Gloucester in 1378 the Commons argued that they had no responsibility to tax for a war outside the realm. In 1379 John Arundel was sent to lead a campaign in Brittany, but the fleet was shipwrecked off Ireland. The Northampton Parliament in November 1380 passed a third poll tax, this time one shilling for all males older than fifteen. The 1377 poll tax was only four pence, and in 1379 it was a graduated tax that took more from the rich. In the 1370s a greatly reduced population was being forced to finance the war as before the plague. Between 1376 and 1381 England spent £467,000 on war. Resentment of the new tax was widespread, and evasion was massive. The government sent commissions of inspectors into the resisting districts in the spring.

The first general uprising began in Essex on May 30 when the people of Fobbing rejected the tax collector. Chief justice Robert Belknap came to Brentwood with a commission, but he was violently expelled. Houses were seized including Cressing Temple owned by the treasurer Robert Hales. Commons in Kent demanded that no more taxes be collected except the traditional fifteenths. Rebels attacked Dartford on June 4, and two days they later plundered Rochester castle. On June 7 they chose Wat Tyler as their leader. Canterbury was occupied, and its prison was opened on June 10. The controversial priest John Ball was released from the Archbishop’s prison; for twenty years he had been preaching that all people were created equal, criticizing social inequality and corruption in church and state. Tyler led people to Southwark, where they opened the Marshalsea prison before going on to burn chancery records at the Archbishop’s manor in Lambeth. Two London aldermen let them cross London Bridge on June 13. They opened the prisons at Newgate and Fleet and burned lawyers’ rolls in the New Temple. They attacked the bishop of Lichfield’s palace and drank his wine. Londoners damaged Gaunt’s Savoy palace. Most avoided looting, and a man who stole a silver goblet was lynched; but Flemings were attacked as foreigners, and Richard Lyons was beheaded. The Knights of St. John’s hospital burned for seven days.

King Richard ordered the mayor, sheriffs, and aldermen to announce a meeting at Mile End on June 14. Jack Straw led rebels in setting fire to houses of the prominent. At Mile End the Commons petitioned for the abolition of villeinage, for labor service based on free contracts, and for the right to rent land at fourpence an acre. The King granted these demands and said they could bring traitors to justice. People burst into the Tower which was not defended. They grabbed the archbishop and chancellor Simon Sudbury, treasurer Robert Hales, serjeant-at-law John Legge, and the friar William Appleton, took them to Tower Hill, and executed them.

On June 15 the keeper of the Marshalsea prison was found and executed. John Tyler was allowed to address Richard at Smithfield, and he demanded a written and sealed charter abolishing serfdom and sentences of outlawry, returning to the police law of Edward I, that there be no lordship under the king and that the estates of the Church be confiscated and divided among the laity. The angry mayor pulled Tyler off his horse, and he was killed. As the mob was about to charge, young Richard spurred his horse forward and boldly said, “Sirs, will you shoot your king? I am your captain, follow me.” He rode slowly to the north, and the crowd followed. Mayor Walworth gathered a force and surrounded them, but Richard pardoned them all and told them to flee or go home. Tyler’s head replaced Sudbury’s on London Bridge, and the London rebellion ended.

Villages around London had been plundered and burned. In the north there were outbreaks at York, Scarborough, and Beverley. Men armed themselves at St. Albans on June 14 and marched to London, and they objected to the abbot’s oppression of his tenants. William Grindcob led them, and they got a charter from the King. Townsmen assaulted the abbey the next day, opened the prisons, sacked the houses of officials, and burned charters of manorial rights. Also on June 14 peasants attacked the monastery Bury St. Edmunds, and the chief justice John Cavendish and the prior of Bury were quickly tried and put to death. Bury was the only town not given royal amnesty in December. The revolts in Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire began on June 15 and lasted three days. They beheaded the justice of the peace, Edmund Walsingham, opened the bishop’s prison, and destroyed its records. Documents of the Carmelites at St. Mary’s were burned in the public square. In Norfolk the knight Geoffrey Lister led the revolt, and he sent five emissaries with money to London for a charter about June 20, but Bishop Henry Despenser captured them on the way and executed the three peasants, sparing two knights. Despenser pursued the rebels and hanged Lister. On June 23 the revolt in Suffolk was subdued.

The government transferred the great seal from Arundel to Hugh Segrave on June 16 and began restoring order. One week later King Richard made a proclamation in Essex warning against rumors that he approved rebel deeds. The rebels in Essex were defeated by June 28. On July 2 the King revoked the pardons that he had “lately granted in haste.” The new chief justice Robert Tresilian began a judicial inquiry. However, reprisals were not allowed, and most of the guilty were acquitted or moderately punished. Jack Straw confessed and was executed. Grindcob and the Cambridgeshire captains were hanged. After a trial John Ball was executed at St. Albans. On August 30 King Richard ordered all pending cases transferred to the king’s bench, ending capital sentences. Much of the anger had been directed against the hated labor laws, and the poor revolted against rich burgesses who governed. Ball and the people did not object to religion but the hypocrisy of the rich, who could hardly enter the kingdom of heaven; their being in control was contrary to the will of God. The Commons elected Richard Waldegrave their speaker that year, and in Parliament he argued that the uprising was caused by the extravagance of the court, burdensome taxes, a weak executive, and inadequate national defense. The revolt accomplished little that was positive, but the hated poll tax was never imposed again.

Richard II 1381-99

In January 1382 Richard II married Anne of Bohemia, forming an alliance with those supporting Pope Urban VI during the schism. In November the French drove the English merchants out of Bruges. Bishop Henry Despenser of Norwich led a crusade into Flanders in May 1383, raising money by selling indulgences. They sacked Gravelines and entered Dunkirk before besieging Ypres, which was attacked because it was controlled by the French even though they supported Urban. When reinforcements did not come, Despenser led his forces back to England. In the fall Chancellor Pole brought four impeachment charges against Despenser in the Parliament. The bishop of Norwich had to forfeit his temporalities, but they were restored two years later. John Wyclif in his tract Cruciata criticized this abuse of the crusading motive. On January 16, 1384 a truce was arranged at Leulighen for nine months, and it was extended to May 1, 1385. During the Parliament in April 1384 the Carmelite friar John Latimer told King Richard that John of Gaunt was plotting to assassinate him. The King’s half brother John Holland had Latimer tortured so much that he died. Richard had a habit of insulting people and was greedy for glory. John of Gaunt led a border commission on Scotland and came into conflict with Earl Henry Percy of Northumberland. John Holland killed the earl of Stafford’s heir, and Richard swore he would treat his brother as a common murderer, stressing their mother Joan, who died a few weeks later.

Richard led an expedition into Scotland that did little more than waste the lowlands. On the way he named his two uncles, Edmund and Thomas, the dukes of York and Gloucester, and his chancellor Pole earl of Suffolk. After Portugal with a little help from a small English force defeated Castile in August 1385, Parliament in October voted a subsidy for an expedition. That year Richard commissioned thirteen stone statues of the English kings since Edward the Confessor. On March 8, 1386 Richard and his council recognized his uncle John of Gaunt as king of Castile, and John left England on July 9 to try to claim Castile. Richard’s close friend, Earl Robert de Vere of Oxford, was proclaimed the marquis of Dublin and then duke of Ireland.

King Richard’s policies were criticized so much in the Westminster Parliament in October 1386 that he dismissed the chancellor, Earl Michael de la Pole of Suffolk, and the treasurer, Bishop John Fordham of Durham, replacing them with the bishops of Ely and Hereford. Richard even said he might appeal to the king of France to put down a rebellion. A commission with wide powers was appointed for a year to investigate the royal household and servants. Minor officials were dismissed, and the earls of Arundel and Nottingham won a naval victory over the French-Castilian fleet off Margate. In February 1387 Richard avoided the commission by beginning a ten-month tour of the midlands and northern England. He held several councils but did not call a Parliament. In York he won over Archbishop Neville who was on the commission. In March the earl of Arundel and the navy captured fifty French and Flemish ships and stole their cargo of wine.

On August 25 at Nottingham judges signed a document that condemned the commission as contrary to the king’s will, arguing that the king alone should choose the business of Parliament and that he could dissolve it at will. They even suggested that those who acted against the king’s will should be punished as traitors. On November 14 Gloucester, Arundel, and Warwick accused five royal advisors. Three days later Richard Scrope gave a speech in front of Westminster Hall criticizing the royal favorites and demanding their arrest until the next Parliament could try them. Richard promised to arrest them and set February 3, 1388 for the meeting of Parliament.

Archbishop Alexander Neville of York fled his diocese disguised as a simple priest. King Richard sent de Vere to Cheshire to organize an army. Earl Pole of Suffolk crossed over to Calais, and the chief justice Tresilian took sanctuary in Westminster Abbey. Only Nicholas Brembre, who recently had been mayor of London, was arrested. Warwick advised against deposing the King, but he suggested they send a force against de Vere led by Earl Henry Bolingbroke of Derby and Earl Thomas Mowbray of Nottingham. Only Earl de Vere tried to fight, but on December 20 his army was trapped at Radcot Bridge in Oxfordshire and defeated by the forces of Bolingbroke and Mowbray. De Vere abandoned his army and escaped in the fog. King Richard withdrew into the safety of the Tower. The accusers camped near London in Clerkenwell fields. A parley was arranged in the Tower on December 30, and Richard saved his crown by promising to be governed by them. The commissioners purged the royal household by arresting the King’s tutor Simon Burley, the steward John Beauchamp, six chamber knights, the King’s secretary, and two clerks of the signet office. All the judges who had signed the Nottingham declaration against the commission were removed from the bench.

Richard sat on his throne during the “Merciless Parliament” listening to the charges. The accusers (called appellants) demanded judgment by default for the absent defendants, sentencing Pole, de Vere, and Tresilian to death and forfeiture of their lands. They argued that the favorites had taken advantage of the King’s youth and used corrupt practices to enrich themselves. Brembre was barely found guilty but was executed on May 5. One week later the chamber knights Beauchamp, James Berners, and John Salesbury were also put to death. The King was put under the control of the bishops of London and Winchester, the earl of Warwick, John Cobham, and Richard Scrope. Tresilian was discovered and, already having been condemned, he was taken to Tyburn and beheaded. The judges who pleaded guilty were banished to Ireland. The accusers received £20,000 for their work. Richard entertained the Parliament in Kensington, and on June 3 at Westminster Abbey the lords and Commons renewed their oaths of allegiance to King Richard, who promised to be a good king.

Also in February 1388 John of Gaunt and King Juan of Castile signed the Treaty of Bayonne. Gaunt renounced his claim to the throne of Castile for £100,000 and an annual pension of £6,000. His daughter Catalina by Constanza was to marry Juan’s heir Enrique. Gloucester kept Gaunt away from England by making him lieutenant in Gascony in May. In September at the Cambridge Parliament the Commons demanded the abolition of liveried retinues of lords. The lords opposed, but Richard gained support from the Commons by agreeing. A compromise was reached on liveries at a great council in 1390.

On May 3, 1389 Richard II declared himself old enough to rule England. He dismissed the chancellor, treasurer, and keeper of the privy seal, replacing them with the bishops of Winchester and Exeter, and Edmund Stafford. England and France agreed to a truce for three years in May, and it was extended during peace negotiations. John of Gaunt was made duke of Aquitane in March 1390, and he lessened hostilities in France. In November 1391 Parliament recognized Richard as free “as any of his progenitors,” annulling any statutes that limited his liberty. Richard used riots in London as an excuse to take control of the city. He declined to restore their liberties until they gave him £10,000.

Queen Anne died in June 1394, and King Richard left for Ireland in September, leaving Edmund of York as keeper of the realm. He traveled around Ireland subduing rebellion, and his concessions induced many native princes to submit. He returned to England in April 1395. John of Gaunt’s wife Constanza of Castile had died in March 1394, and he married his mistress Katherine Swynford in January 1396. In February 1397 the Parliament legitimized their Beaufort children.

Richard went three years without attending Parliament until January 1397. With their approval he restored the judges exiled in Ireland. The Commons complained about liveried retainers and requested that the excessive costs of the royal household be reduced. The King demanded they produce the petitioner, Thomas Haxey, who was convicted of treason. Richard pardoned him, but the Commons was required to apologize for the petition. That year Richard raised an army in Cheshire to guard him in London and intimidate the Parliament. His retainer John Bushy became speaker of the Commons, and he and the duke of Lancaster managed them. On March 9 England and France agreed to a truce for the next 28 years, and three days later Richard married seven-year-old Isabella, daughter of Charles VI. When the English evacuated Brest in June to fulfill a treaty, Gloucester and Arundel protested by refusing the attend the council.

Speaker Bushy impeached the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Arundel, in the Parliament for usurping power and executing Burley and Berners. He was convicted, forfeited his property, and was banished. Richard used a banquet in July to arrest Earl Thomas Beauchamp of Warwick, a false oath to lure Archbishop Arundel into custody, and a night visit to seize Thomas of Woodstock, the duke of Gloucester. In the September 1397 Parliament the act appointing the commission in 1386 and the pardons of 1388 were repealed. Eight lords, four of them Richard’s kinsmen, accused the three magnates for what they had done to their enemies in the Parliament of 1388. Arundel was called first, and the duke of Lancaster declared him guilty of treason, arguing that his pardon had been issued by the King under constraint. He was taken to Tower Hill and beheaded. Gloucester had already died in custody at Calais, apparently murdered, but he was condemned also. Warwick made an emotional confession, and his sentence was commuted to perpetual exile on the Isle of Man. The King made five men dukes—Henry Bolingbroke in Hereford, Thomas Mowbray in Norfolk, his half-brother John Holland in Exeter, his nephew Thomas Holland in Surrey, and his cousin Edward of Rutland in Aumale. John Beaufort became marquis of Dorset, and Thomas Despenser, Ralph Neville, Thomas Percy, and William Scrope were made the earls of Gloucester, Westmorland, Worcester, and Wiltshire.

The Parliament at Shrewsbury met on January 28, 1398 and annulled all the judgments and acts of the Merciless Parliament that were against the will of the King. All the lords and commons had to swear to uphold the acts of the 1397 Parliament. The men associated with the soldiers in the Oxfordshire campaign of the appellants were required to pay a fine. John Cobham had been on the commission and the committee, and he was banished. In return for the general pardon the Commons agreed to grant Richard the customs revenue for life; but all those who had been armed against the King were excluded from the general pardon. Seventeen counties in the south and east were required to confess their complicity and submit to the King, who collected 1,000 marks from each shire.

After talking to his father, John of Gaunt, Henry of Hereford told the King on January 20, 1398 that Thomas Mowbray of Norfolk had warned him that they both were going to be destroyed. Richard ordered him to put it in writing and bring it to the Parliament. A committee decided that lacking proof the conflict should be decided by a duel at Coventry on September 16. On that day King Richard ordered them to lay down their arms, and he banished Hereford for ten years and Norfolk for life. Richard gave out pardons in exchange for money. Those who criticized his regime were brought into court and forced to defend themselves by battle. In November the King gave concessions to the papacy to gain its support. In a time of peace Richard’s court was spending more than Edward III had during war.

John of Gaunt died on February 3, 1399. On March 18 the committee revoked his son Hereford’s license to appoint attorneys, and his exile was extended to life. Katherine’s estate and annuities were confirmed, but most of Lancaster’s estate was divided among the King’s relations Exeter, Aumale, and Surrey. This action threatened the right of inheritance. After the fourth earl of March died in Ireland in August 1398, Art MacMurrough revolted. Richard appointed Surrey his lieutenant and planned to go to Ireland again. Taking the crown jewels and royal treasury with him, Richard landed at Waterford on June 1, 1399, and he pursued MacMurrough in Leinster. Edmund of York was left as keeper of the realm.

Henry Bolingbroke went to Paris, where he was joined by Archbishop Arundel and his nephew. The duke of Burgundy was Richard’s ally in order to protect the wool trade in Flanders; but Henry made an alliance with the duke of Orleans, who gained more power to press his claims in Aquitane after Burgundy left Paris in June. This enabled Henry to get support, and in July he landed in Yorkshire with about fifty followers. He went to his stronghold of Pontefract and was soon joined by the earl of Northumberland, his son Hotspur, Earl Ralph Neville of Westmorland, and many men as they moved south. Edmund of York was afraid of the Londoners and moved the government to St. Albans and tried to raise troops. Counselors advised Richard to return from Ireland and went west to meet him. Edmund took refuge at Berkeley castle in Gloucestershire, where he submitted to Bolingbroke, who took him to Bristol. John Bushy and Henry Green were executed there on July 29. Aumale persuaded Richard to divide his army. Salisbury went ahead while Richard landed at Haverfordwest. His troops were tired and failed to raise more men. Richard disbanded them and went to join Salisbury in north Wales. Bolingbroke went to Chester, and Richard took refuge at Conway castle. Aumale and Worcester deserted Richard and joined Henry. Salisbury heard that Richard was dead and let most of his army scatter.

In August the archbishop Arundel and Henry Percy of Northumberland brought terms to Richard, who agreed to restore the Lancaster inheritance, to submit Henry’s claim of stewardship to Parliament, and to surrender five counselors for trial. Percy swore that Richard would remain king, and he was taken to Henry at Chester and then to the Tower. Londoners had already sent a deputation in support of Henry. Richard signed his resignation on September 29. The next day at a meeting of the estates and people his resignation was read in Latin and English, and 33 charges were made against him. Henry claimed the crown based on his descent from Henry III, and Archbishop Arundel put him on the throne and preached a sermon. Thus the reign of Henry IV of Lancaster began on September 30, 1399. Parliament met on October 6 and annulled the acts of the 1397-98 Parliament sessions, and they restored lands to the heirs of the victims. The acts of the Merciless Parliament were reinstated.

In December the earls of Kent, Rutland, and Huntingdon joined with Salisbury and Thomas Despenser in a conspiracy to kill Henry and restore Richard. King Henry IV raised an army in London and surrounded them at Cirencester in January 1400. An angry mob decapitated Kent and Salisbury. Huntingdon was killed in Essex, and a mob lynched Despenser at Bristol. Eighty rebels were brought to trial before King Henry at Oxford, and almost thirty were executed.

In his last two years Richard had tyrannically deprived men of property and their inheritance, tampered with the Parliament roll in order to condemn his enemies as traitors, and imprisoned men without trial. He had exacted oaths and taxes, and he used his private army to terrorize the people. On October 23 the Parliament decided to imprison Richard secretly for life, and he was taken to the country. In February 1400 his corpse was taken from Pontefract castle to London, where it was publicly exhibited before burial.

England of Henry IV, V, and VI 1399-1461

Ireland 1327-1400

In southern Ireland a dispute broke out into war in 1327 between Arnald le Poer and Maurice fitz Thomas. The latter was supported by the Butlers and Berminghams and the former by the de Burgos. In June all parties were forbidden to gather men-at-arms or to disturb the king’s peace. De Burgo and Maurice fitz Thomas worked out a peace agreement before the new justiciar John Darcy arrived in May 1329. In July he mediated a peace at Kilkenny between de Burgo, the Poers, and Barrys on one side and Earl James le Botiller of Ormond, fitz Thomas, and William de Bermingham on the other. Fitz Thomas was made earl of Desmond in August with the tail of Kerry County. In 1328 the Irish at Leinster chose Donnell, son of Art MacMurrough as king, but he and the leader of the O’Tooles were quickly captured. In April 1329 the O’Brennans and MacGilpatricks raided and burned in Kilkenny, and Brian O’Brien burned the towns of Athassel and Tipperary in August. Then the MacGeoghegans and some de Lacys killed Thomas le Botiller, and in November the O’Nolans in Carlow County took the earl of Ormond’s brother prisoner and had their lands devastated by the Earl’s retaliation. O’Dempsey took the Lea castle in February 1330. The justiciar hired Desmond’s army that included O’Brien, and Desmond defeated the O’Nolans and the O’Mores, regaining Lea castle. O’Brien killed Sheriff James de Beaufo of Limerick and many others, ravaging the land. Desmond and others were arrested for complicity with O’Brien, but they escaped.

In 1331 the Parliament at Westminster passed laws for Ireland forbidding the justiciar to grant pardons. Anthony Lucy was appointed justiciar in February. In November the earl of Ulster and the archbishop of Dublin were summoned by King Edward III. The earl of Desmond tried to be king of an independent Ireland. He was imprisoned along with Henry de Mandeville, Walter de Bermingham, and Walter de Burgo; William de Bermingham was executed. John Darcy arrived to be justiciar again in February 1333. The earls of Ulster and Ormond and other magnates got Desmond released on June 7, the day after Earl William de Burgo of Ulster was murdered by his own men, John de Logan and two Mandevilles. In 1335 the O’Mores, O’Byrnes, and O’Carrolls took up arms, and Maurice fitz Thomas led a campaign against Brian O’Brien. In June 1336 O’Brien burned Tipperary, and O’More incited the Irish of Leinster and Munster to make war. The justiciar led an expedition against them. In 1338 King Edward and his council ordered that the justices in Ireland must be English. A parliament was held at Dublin in October 1341, but Desmond did not attend.

The new justiciar Robert de Ufford arrived in June 1342. Late in 1343 the earl of Desmond took over the barony of Inchiquin in Cork County, and in early 1344 in a war against the Barrys he killed several royal officials. He sent an embassy to Pope Clement VI denouncing Edward III’s rule of Ireland, and he offered 3,000 marks to be the Pope’s representative in Ireland. In July his army of 1,000 men tried to conquer Youghai. In February 1335 Desmond summoned an assembly of nobles at Callan. Instead of attending the parliament at Dublin in June, he attacked Ely and Ormond but failed to take Nenagh castle. Ufford proclaimed royal service, and in the fall Desmond’s Askeaton castle and Castle Island were seized. Desmond escaped, but his followers were executed or had to give hostages or pay fines. Ufford died on April 6, 1346, and the Irish council chose Roger Darcy as justiciar. Walter de Bermingham was appointed in England and arrived on June 29. Desmond had surrendered and was allowed to go to England in September. He was released on bail in February 1348 and was pardoned in November 1349.

In June 1346 the Irish in Ulster killed several hundred English in Louth. Fulk de la Frene captured O’More’s son and killed the son of Roderick O’Carroll in September, and in November the justiciar Bermingham defeated O’More and O’Dempsey. The parliament at Kilkenny in October passed a subsidy for the wars; but in January 1347 the archbishop of Cashel and the bishops of Emly, Limerick, and Lismore blocked the collection because no bishop had assented.

Bermingham was summoned to the Parliament at Westminster in January 1348 and returned to Ireland in April to campaign against the O’Kennedys, the O’Carrolls, and Breen O’Breen. The bubonic plague reached Ireland in the autumn of 1348. Many people died, but the wars went on between the O’Connors, McDermot, and O’Kelly, and between the clans of the Anglo-Norman settlers of the de Burgos, de Exeters, Mac Costellos, and others. In Leinster the O’Tooles, O’Byrnes, and MacMurroughs rebelled. Insurrection was also fomented in the mountains south of Dublin by the O’Mores, O’Connors, and others. During the plague in July 1349 Thomas Rokeby became justiciar, and he was granted a retinue of twenty men-at-arms and forty mounted archers. In November 1351 he held a great council at Kilkenny which passed ordinances that mandated settling disputes between the English with common law. Each county was to have four wardens of the peace. Rokeby visited England, and then in September 1352 he led a campaign against MacDermot with a thousand men, driving him out of Muskerry by the end of the year. O’Byrne went to war again in April 1353, and the council garrisoned the strongholds in Dublin’s marches to subdue him. Earl Maurice fitz Thomas of Desmond replaced Rokeby in August 1355, but he died on January 25, 1356. Kildare acted as justiciar until Rokeby returned in October.

In January 1359 a parliament at Kilkenny granted a general subsidy for a war against Art Kevenagh. The earl of Ormond became justiciar in March and summoned councils in Dublin and Waterford in April. He defeated the MacMurroughs; but the O’Byrnes still fought the O’Tooles, and the midlands suffered war. In the spring of 1360 the campaign went to Munster. On July 27 a great council at Kilkenny sent messengers to King Edward saying that the magnates could not defend their lands in the marshes. Wars had left the treasury empty and occupied all the time of the justiciar. If help did not come from England, the Irish would rise up throughout the land.

Edward III sent to Ireland his 22-year-old son, Lionel, who was married to Elizabeth de Burgo, the heiress of Ulster. Lionel was designated the king’s lieutenant in July 1361, and he reached Dublin in September with 1,500 men commanded by the earl of Stafford. He transferred the seat of government to Carlow in order to be able to strike east and west. Robert Holywood of the exchequer was in Carlow by September. Lionel summoned a parliament to meet at Dublin in January 1362, and it granted a subsidy from the clergy and laity. That year Lionel was made the duke of Clarence. In September the O’Conchobairs burned fourteen churches in the Meath. In November 1363 Edward III ordered all of Ireland’s revenue to be used to hire men of Ireland for the war. Lionel led a campaign in Leix and went back to England in April 1364, leaving Ormond as his deputy. Lionel returned in December, and in February 1366 he held a parliament at Kilkenny that codified the laws of Ireland. Marriage between the English and Irish was forbidden, and other laws regulated their relations and customs. Irish living among the English were required to speak English. Games were to be replaced by the practice of archery and the use of lances. The Irish of Tipperary made war in the marches of Limerick, which had to garrison its borders. Lionel of Clarence left Ireland in November 1366.

Chief Justice Thomas de la Dale was made keeper of Ireland, and the King appointed Earl Gerald fitz Maurice of Desmond justiciar in February 1367. William of Windsor became the king’s lieutenant in March 1369, and he was granted £20,000 to maintain himself and his retinue in Ireland. He summoned a parliament to meet on July 30 at Dublin, where he announced that absentees were forfeiting their land. In the next two years he held six assemblies and obtained taxes from five of them. Windsor was removed in 1372, and Ireland’s chancellor Robert de Assheton replaced him in June. However, in September 1373 Windsor was appointed governor and keeper. Elected representatives went to meet with King Edward in February 1376, but most clergy, counties, and towns refused to empower them to grant subsidies. Osmond agreed to succeed Windsor in August to serve for one year with 120 men-at-arms and 200 archers.

In April 1378 the MacMurroughs, O’Byrnes, and O’Tooles of Leinster went to war, and the Irish council paid a force. Lionel of Clarence’s son Edmund Mortimer, earl of March and Ulster, was appointed the King’s lieutenant with all the revenues of Ireland and 20,000 marks for three years. In November 1379 a parliament at Dublin confirmed the Statutes of Kilkenny and granted new customs for three years and a subsidy from the clergy. O’Toole rebelled again in April 1381. The lieutenant died suddenly at Cork on December 26, and the Mortimer household withdrew toward Leinster and Meath. A council met at Cork on January 9, 1382, but no one wanted to be justiciar. King Richard II appointed seven-year-old Earl Roger Mortimer of March as his lieutenant with his uncle Thomas Mortimer as his deputy. A parliament at Dublin in June complained about the absent child governor, and in July 1383 Philip de Courtenay was appointed the king’s lieutenant. A year later he was at war against MacMurrough, O’Nolan, O’Byrne, and O’Toole. King Richard made Robert de Vere of Oxford the marquis of Dublin in December 1384 and then duke of Ireland so that he could be lord of Ireland and its profits. When Richard lost a struggle for power in England in 1387, de Vere fled and died at Louvain in 1392. In March 1387 the earl of Kildare was appointed to settle the disputes between Ormond and Desmond. Meanwhile the bishop of Meath acted for de Vere, but in April 1388 he was ordered to stop using his seal, banners, and pennons.

Thomas de Mortimer was appointed justiciar in March 1389; but after Richard regained power in May, he replaced him with John de Stanley for three years. Neill O’Neill was captured and was released in February 1390 in exchange for hostages. Thomas of Woodstock, the duke of Gloucester, was appointed lieutenant in May 1392 and was given 34,000 marks over three years, and Ormond became justiciar in July. In the north O’Neill led his army against Dundalk and ravaged the Carlingford peninsula.

On October 2, 1394 Richard II landed at Waterford in Ireland with an army of about 9,000 men. Gloucester joined him by the end of the month, and they drove MacMurrough out of Leighlin. He and others submitted, and O’Byrne, O’Toole, and O’Nolan were taken to Dublin with the King. A parliament at Dublin in December moved the exchequer back there from Carlow. Nearly every important chief in Ireland, except for O’Donnell and those in the northwest, submitted to King Richard.

When Richard left Ireland in May 1395, he appointed Earl Roger Mortimer of March as his lieutenant. The chamberlain William Scrope became justiciar. In April 1396 March was put over Ulster, Connacht, and Meath with Scrope over Leinster, Munster, and Louth. Despite the King’s efforts, the wars in Ireland continued. The earl of March was killed near Carlow in August 1398, and in June 1399 Richard returned to Ireland. Thomas le Despenser, who succeeded the late earl of Gloucester, claimed to be king of Ireland and would not submit to Richard, who marched south and burned MacMurrough out of his woods again. Then messages came from the council in England that Henry of Lancaster had landed in Yorkshire to claim his inheritance. Richard sailed from Waterford on July 27 and was captured by Henry in August.

Scotland and Ireland 1400-1517

Copyright © 2009 by Sanderson Beck

This chapter has been published in the book Medieval Europe 1250-1400.
For information on ordering click here.


Crusaders and Byzantine Decline 1250-1400
Eastern Europe 1250-1400
Catholic Ethics 1250-1350
German Empire 1250-1400
Scandinavia 1250-1400
Castile, Aragon, Granada, and Portugal 1250-1400
Italian City States 1250-1400
Dante and Marsilius
Petrarca and Boccaccio
Low Countries and Burgundy 1250-1400
France and National War 1250-1400
England, Scotland, and Ireland 1250-1400
Mystics, Wyclif, Gower, and Chaucer
Summary and Evaluation


World Chronology 750-1300
World Chronology 1300-1400
Chronology of Europe to 1400

BECK index