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Edward I

Edward I


Edward IEdward I., of England, was a truly national kine, a typical representative in body and mind of the race he ruled, and he was, therefore, to his subjects an object of intense admiration. He was the eldest son of Henry III, and was born at Winchester in 1239. The contests bet ween bis father and the discontented barons of his kingdom early called him forth to active life, and his military and political talents proved the chief support of the tottering throne.


In 1270 Edward was led by the persuasions of Louis IX. of France to make an expedition against the Saracens in Africa. On his arrival at Tunis he found the French king dead; but he himself proceeded with his forces to the Holy Land, where he signalized his valor in several actions. Such was the terror he excited that an assassin was employed to murder him, who gave him a wound in the arm. A doubtful tradition relates that, upon suspicion of its being poisoned, it Was Slicked by his faithful spouse Eleanor of Castile; but those who were present mention no such devotion. He left Palestine after a stay of eighteen mouths, and was in Sicily when he heard of his father's death but his homeward journey was delayed by a disturbance in Guienne. Here a tournament, between Edward and the Count of Chalons, ended ill a serious affray, in which the English knights were victors. Two years elapsed before he reached England, when he and his queen were crowned at Wesminster in 1272.


Edward's first cares, after assuming the reins of government, were to restore order and justice throughout the kingdom, to repress the violences of the great, and punish the corruption of the judges. He prosecuted these objects with vigor, but with somewhat of an arbitrary spirit. It seemed no small part of his purpose to fill his coffers with the fines of culprits. His conduct towards the Jews was cruel in the extreme. A large number of these people had resorted to England after his mother's marriage, and had given a great impulse to trade and industry; but their prosperity excited the envy of the natives. Edward shared the national prejudice, and executed a great number of the Jews for alleged adulteration of the coin. He then expelled all the remainder of this devoted people, and con6scated their effects.


In 1276 Edward summoned Llewellyn, a native prince of "Vales, to do him homage; and upon his refusal, except upon certain condition!;, he marched next year into that country, and, driving Llewellyn to the mountains, reduced him, through want of subsistence, to surrender at discretion, and imposed upon him very humiliating terms. The indignation of the Welsh soon after incited them again to take up arms; but the event of their brave struggle was, that Llewellyn was slain while defending the passage of the Wye; his brother David put into the king's hands through treachery and executed as a rebel; and the independence of the country completely destroyed in 1282. It was thenceforth annexed to England, and nominally placed under common laws and government, but the actual union was not achieved till centuries later. The glory conferred on Edward's name by this acquisition was sullied, according to tradition, by his barbarous massacre of the Welsh bards, of the effect of whose animating strain.s, in reviving the national spirit. he was jealous.


The death of Margaret, daughter of Eric, King of Norway, and grand..daughter of Alexander III. of Scotland, confused the succession to the Scottish crown. There arose not less than thirteen claimants; but the demands of two-John Baliol and Robert Bruce-were superior. These were descendants of David, a younger brother of William the Lion, Baliol being the grandson of the eldest daughter; Bruce, the son of the second. Edward claimed a right to interfere, on the ground that William the Lion, when the captive of Henry II., had acknowledged himself a vassal of the English crown, and that Richard I. had no right to sell the deed of vassalage, since it was not his property, but that of all English sovereigns. on this pretence Edward appointed Baliol king. He did fealty to King Edward as sovereign lord of the realm of Scotland. Baliol soon felt the consequence of this disgraceful vassalage, as every suitor who was dissatisfied with the king's decision, appealed to Edward as his superior lord; and in the first year ofbis reign he was served with four citations to answer in the Court of England. He resorted to arms but his feeble resistance was soon subdued. Edward deposed Baliol and confined him in the Tower of London. After three years the royal captive was allowed to retire into Normandy, where he died in 1305.


Edward made a tour through Scotland exacting homage; and ou bis departure left the Earl of Surrey guardian of the land. War soon broke out again. The oppressions of the English government roused the patriotic indignation of William Wallace, whose warlike successes inspired a large number of his countrymen with resolution to throw off the yoke. In 1298 Edward hastened to the: border with an army of 100,000 men. He penetrated to Falkirk, where the Scottish army, under the command of the Steward of Scotland, of Comyn, and of Wallace, was posted to stop his further progress. A battle ensued, in which the Scots were defeated with great slaughter. Wallace alone preserving his division unbroken. Edward afterwards was obliged to return for want of provisions.


The Scotch insurgents gradually recruited their strength, and, in 1303, fell upon the English forces, foraging in three divisions near Roslyn, and successively defeated them. The English king, however, entering Scotland with an irresistible force, reduced it to deeper subjection than before. Wallace was betrayed, and was sent to London, where he was tried and executed as a traitor. But the spirit of the nation was still unsubdued; and Robert Bruce, grandson of the competitor for the crown, was able, in 1306, to place himself at the head of a new conspiracy for freeing his country. The news that Bruce had been crowned at Scone roused the old warrior of England, and the last effort of his life was to reach Scotland. He was upon the point of passing the border, when he was stopped by sickness at Burgh-oil-Sands, near Carlisle, where he expired on July 7th, 1307. His last wish was, that his bones should be carried at the head of the army as it marched onward.


His first wife, Eleanor of Castile, who died in 1290, left four sons. The title " Prince of Wales," borne by the eldest son of the British sovereign, was first given to the eldest of these, who was born at Caernarvon, and was afterwards Edward II. Edward I on the death of Eleanor, married Margaret of France, who bore him a daughter and two sons. Few princes have exhibited more vigor in action, or policy in council, than Edward I., or have obtained more of that glory which arises from success independently of justice. He was a brave soldier, a sagacious and successful statesman but cruelty, revenge, and excessive ambition seem to have been inseparable from the character of the early Plantagenets. The laws of the realm obtained so much additional order and precision during his reign, that he has been called the English Justinian. He first instituted the office of justice of the peace. He was vigilant to guard against clerical usurpatious, and is reckoned the first Christian prince who passed an act of mortmain. His manners were courteous his person majestic, though the length and smallness of his legs gave him the popular appellation of Longshanks. His passionate desire was to be a model of chivalry, and t.his led him into numerous adventures. It also narrowed his sympathy to the nobles, and caused him to despise the peasants and craftsmen who were eager to serve him. He also learned from St. Louis to esteem. his position as king as involving that "sacred majesty" which had belonged to the Roman emperors. This notion gave ground for some of the most arbitrary acts of his reign.




Jewish traders had followed William the Conqueror from Normandy, and had been enabled by his protection to establish themselves in separate quarters or "Jewries" in all larger English towns. The Jew had no right or citizenship in the laud. The Jewry in which he lived was exempt from the common law. He was simply the king's chattel, and his life and goods were at the king's mercy. But he was too valuable a possession to be lightly thrown away. If the Jewish merchant had no standing.ground in the local court, the king enabled him to sue before a special justiciar his bonds were deposited for safety in a chamber of the royal palace at Westminster he was protected against the popular hatred in the free exercise of his religion, and allowed to build synagogues and to manage his own ecclesiastical affairs by means of a chief rabbi. The royal protection was dictated by no spirit of tolerance or mercy. To the kings the Jew was a mere engine of fiutlncc. The wealth which he accumulated was wrung from him whenever the crown had need, and torture and imprisonment were resorted to when milder means failed. It was the gold of the Jew that filled the royal treasury at the outbreak of war or of revolt. It was in the Hebrew coffers that the foreign kings found strength to hold their baronage at bay.


That the presence of the Jew was, at least in the earlier years of his settlement, beneficial to the nation at large, there can be little doubt. His arrival was the arrival of a capitalist; and, heavy as was the usury he necessarily exacted, in the general insecurity of the time, his loans gave an impulse to industry. The century which followed the Conquest witnessed an outburst of architectural energy which covered the land with castles and cathedrals; but castle and cathedral alike owed their erection to the loans of the Jew. His own example gave a new vigor to domestic architecture. The buildings which, as at Lincoln and Bury St. Edmund's, still retain their name of "Jews' Houses," were almost the first houses of stone which superseded the mere hovels of the English burghers. Nor was their influence simply industrial. Through their connection with the Jewish schools in Spain and the East they opened a way for the revival of physical sciences. A Jewish medical school seems to have existed at Oxford; Roger Bacon himself studied under English rabbis.


But the general progress of civilization now drew little help from the Jew, while the coming of the Cahorsine and Italian bankers drove him from the field of commercial finance. He fell back on the petty usury of loans to the poor, a trade necessarily accompanied with much of extortion, and which roused into fiercer life the religious hatred against their race. Wild stories floated about of children carried off to be circumcised or crucified, and a Lincoln boy who was found slain in a Jewish house was canonized by popular reverence as St. Hugh." The first work of the Friars was to settle in the Jewish quarters and attempt their conversion, but the popular fury rose too fast for these gentler means of reconciliation. When the Franciscans saved seventy Jews from hanging by their prayer to Henry the Third, the populace angrily refused the brethren alms.


But all this growing hate was met with a bold defiance. The picture which is commonly drawn of the Jew as timid, silent, crouching nuder oppression, however truly it may represent the general position of his race throughout medieval Europe, is far from being borne out by historical fact on this side the Channel. In England the attitude of the Jew, almost to the very end was an attitude of proud and even insolent defiance. He knew that the royal policy exempted him from the common taxation, the common justice, the common obligations of Englishmen. Usurer, extortioner, as the realm held him to be, the royal justice would secure him the repayment of his bonds. A royal commission visited with heavy penalties any outbreak of violence against the king's "chattels." The Red King actually forbade the conversion of a Jew to the Christian faith; it was a poor exchange, he said, that would rid him of a valuable property and give him only a subject.


We see in such a case as that of Oxford the insolence that grew out of this consciousness of the royal protection. Here as elsewhere the Jewry was a town within a town, with its own language, its own religion and law, its peculiar commerce, its peculiar dress. No city bailiff could penetrate into the square of little alleys which lay behind the present Town Hall the Church itself was powerless to prevent a synagogue from rising in haughty rivalry over against the cloister of St. Frideswide. Prior Philip of St. Frideswide complains bitterly of a certain Hebrew who stood at his door as the procession of the saint passed by, mocking at the miracles which were said to be wrought at her shrine. Halting and then walking firmly on his feet, showing his hands clenched as if with palsy, and then Hinging open his fingers, the Jew claimed gifts and oblations from the crowd that flocked to St. Frideswide's shrine, on the ground that such recoveries of life and limb were quite as real as any that Frideswide ever wrought. Sickness and death in the prior's story avenge the saint on her blasphemer; but no earthly power, ecclesiastical or civil, seems to have ventured to deal with him.


Up to Edward's day, indeed, the royal protection had never wavered. Henry the Second granted the Jews a right of burial outside every city where they dwell Richard punished heavily a massacre of the Jews at York, and organized a mixed court of Jews and Christians for the registration of their contracts. John suffered none to plunder them save himself, though he once wrested from them a sum equal to a year's revenue of his realm. The troubles of the next reign brought in a harvest greater than even the royal greed could reap i the Jews grew wealthy enough to acquire estates, and only a burst of popular feeling prevented a legal decision which would have enabled them to own freeholds. But the which of Jewry after Jewry showed the popular hatred during the Barons' War, and at its close fell on the Jews the more terrible persecution of the law.


To the cry against usury and the religious fanaticism which threatened them was now added the jealousy with which the nation that had grown up round the Charter regarded all exceptional jurisdictions or exemptions from the common law and the common burthens of the realm. As Edward looked on the privileges of the Church or the baronage, so his people looked on the privileges of the Jews. The growing weight of the Parliament told against them. Statute after statute hemmed them in. They were forbidden to hold real property, to employ Christian servants, to move through the streets without the two white tablets of wool on their breasts, which distinguished their race. They were prohibited from building new synagogues, or eating with Christians, or acting as physicians to them. Their trade, already crippled by the rivalry of the bankers of Caitors, was annihilated by a royal order which bade them renounce usury under pain of death.


At last persecution could do no more, and Edward, eager at the moment to find supplies for his treasury, and himself swayed by the fanaticism of his subjects, bought the grant of a fifteenth from clergy and laity by consenting to drive the Jews from his realm. No share of the enormities which accompanied this expulsion can fall upon the king, for he not only suffered the fugitives to take their personal wealth with them, but punished with the halter those who plundered them at sea. But the expulsion was none the less cruel. Of the sixteen thousand who preferred exile to apostasy, few reached the shores of France. Many were wrecked others robbed and thrown overboard. One ship-master turned out a crew of wealthy merchants all to a sand-bank, and bade them call a new Moses to save them from the sea.-J. R. GREEN.




This Ode was founded on '" tradition current in Wales, that Edward the First, when he completed the conquest of that country,ordered all the Bards that fell into his hands to be put to death.


"Ruin seize thee, ruthless king! Confusion on thy banners wait; Tho' fann'd by conquest's crimson wing, They mock the air with idle state. Helm, nor hauberk's twisted mail, Nor e'en thy virtues, tyrant, shall avail To save thy secret soul from nightly fears, From Cambria's curse, from Cambria's tears '" Such were the sounds that o'er the crested pride Of the first Edward scatter'd wild dismay, As down the steep of Snowdon's shaggy side He wound with toilsome march bis long army. Stout Glo'ster stood aghast in speechless trance ; ,8. "To arms!" cried Mortimer, and couch'd his quiv'ring lance.


On a rock, whose haughty brow Frowns o'er cold Conway's foaming Rood, Robed in the sable garb of woe, With haggard eyes the poet stood; Loose his beard, and hoary hair Stream'd, like a meteor, to the troubled air, And with a master's hand and prophet's fire, Struck the deep sorrows of bis lyre. Hark, how each giant oak, and desert cave, Sighs to the torrent's awful voice beneath I O'er thee, oh King! their hundred arms they wave, Revenge on thee in hoarser murmurs breathe; Vocal no more since Cambria's fatal day, To high-born Hoel's harp, or soft Llewellyn's lay.


"Cold is Cadwallo's tongue, That bush'd the stormy main; Brave. Urien sleeps upon his craggy bed: Mountains, ye mourn in vain Modred, whose magic song Made huge Plinlimmon bow his cloud-topt head. On dreary Arvon's shore they lie, Smear'd with gore, and ghastly pale: Far, far aloof the affrighted ravens sail; The famish'd eagle screams, and passes by. Dear lost companions of my tuneful art, Dear as the light that visits these sad eyes, Dear as the ruddy drops that warm my heart, Ye died amidst your dying country's cries No more I weep. They do not sleep. On yonder cliffs, a grisly band I see them sit, they linger yet, Avengers of their native land:


With me in dreadful harmony they join, And wave with bloody hands the tissue of their line.


"Weave the warp, and weave the woof, The winding sheet of Edward's race. Give ample room, and verge enough The characters of hell to trace. Mark the year, and mark the night, When Severn shall re-echo with affright The shrieks of death, thro' Berkeley's roof that ring, Shrieks of an agonizing king!


She-wolf of France, with unrelenting fangs, That tear'st the bowels of thy mangled mate, From thee be born, who o'er thy country hangs The scourge of heav'n. What terrors round him wait I Amazement in his van, with flight combin'd, And sorrow's faded form, and solitude behind.


Mighty victor, mighty lord, Low on his funeral couch he lies! No pitying heart, no eye, affords A tear to grace his obsequies. Is the sable warrior fled? Thy son is gone. He rests among the dead. The swarm that in thy noon-tide beam were born! Gone to salute the rising morn. Fair laughs the morn, and son the zephyr blows, While, proudly riding o'er the azure realm, In gallant trim the gilded vessel goes, Youth on the prow, and Pleasure at the helm; Regardless of the sweeping whirlwind's sway, That, hush'd in grim repose, expects his ev'ning prey.


Fill high the sparkling bowl, The rich repast prepare, Left of a crown, he yet may share the feast; Close by the regal chair, Fell Thirst and Famine scowl A baleful smile upon their baffled guest. Heard ye the din of battle bray, Lance to lance, and horse to horse? Long years of havoc urge their destin'd course, And thro' the kindred squadrons mow their way_ Ye towers of Julius, London's lasting shame, With many a foul and midnight murder fed, Revere his consort's faith, his father's fame, And spare the meek usurper's holy bead. Above, below, the rose of snow, Twin'd with her blushing foe, we spread : The bristled boar in infant-gore Wallows beneath the thorny shade. Now, brothers, bending o'er the accursed loom, Stamp we our vengeance deep, and ratify his doom.


" Edward, lo! to sudden fate, Weave we the woof. The thread is spun. Half of thy heart we consecrate. The web is wove. The work. is done. Stay, ob stay I nor thus forlorn Leave me unbless'd, unpitied here to mourn: In yon bright track, that fires the western skies, They melt, they vanish from my eyes. But oh I what solemn scenes on Snowdon's height, Descending slow, their glittering skirts unroll? Visions of glory, spare my aching sight! Ye unborn ages, crowd not on my soul! No more our long-lost Arthur we bewail, All hail, ye genuine kings, Britannia's issue hail!


"Girt with many a baron bold, Sublime their starry fronts they rear; And gorgeous dames, and statesmen old In bearded majesty, appear. In the midst a form divine! Her eye proclaims her of the Briton line; Her lion-port, her awe-commanding face, Attemper'd sweet to virgin grace. What strings symphonious tremble in the air, What strains of vocal transport round her play! Hear from the grave, great Taliessiu, hear; They breathe a soul to animate thy clay, Bright rapture calls, and soaring as she sings, Waves in the eye of heav'n her many-color'd wings.


The verse adorn again Fierce war and faithful love, And truth severe, by fairy fiction drest. In buskin'd measures move Pale grief, and pleasing pain, With horror. tyrant of the throbbing br~st. A voice as of the cherub-choir, Gales from blooming Eden bear; And distant warblings lessen on my ear, That lost in long futurity expire. Fond impious man, think'st thou yon sanguine cloud, Rais'd by thy breath, has quench'd the orb of day? To-morrow he repairs the golden flood, And warms the nations with redoubled ray. Enough for me ; with joy I sec The diff'rent dooms our fates assign. Be thine despair, and scept'red care, To triumph, and to die, are mine." He spoke, and headlong from the mountain's height, Deep in the roaring tide he plunged to endless night. -T. Gray.


Edward I

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