Ward's Book of Days.

Pages of interesting anniversaries.

What happened on this day in history

JUNE 17th

On this day in history in 1239, was born Edward I. 

Edward, known as Longshanks, is famous as ‘hammer of the Scots’. On his tomb, the inscription does read ‘Scottorum Malleus’ but Edward had more to his credit than merely hammering Scots. Edward strengthened Parliament and reduced the power of the nobility. He reformed the Common Law of England and introduced new statutes for the better governance of the realm. He subdued Wales and harassed Scotland but never conquered the Scots. 

Edward created a ‘Model Parliament’ which included representatives from shires, boroughs and the clergy. He was indebted for the idea to his uncle, Simon de Montford, to whom history gives the credit for creating Parliament.  

Edward brought down the Principality of Wales, which under Llywelyn ap Gruffudd had developed into an autonomous state. He invaded Wales on three fronts with naval support and blockaded Llywelyn in Snowdonia, forcing him into submission. He erected a series of castles and reorganised Wales into shires and hundreds.  

Edward became involved in Scotland upon the death of the Maid of Norway when the Scottish throne became vacant. Edward thought of himself as Overlord of Scotland with the king of Scots as his vassal king. He intervened in the selection process and placed his own man, John Balliol on the Scottish throne. When, in due course, the Scottish nobles compelled Balliol to make an alliance with France against Edward, Edward invaded and subdued Scotland, bringing back with him the famous coronation stone, The Stone of Scone.  

Edward had sixteen children by his queen, Eleanor. Many of them died young and most of them were girls, so Edward was succeeded by his fifteenth child Edward II. When queen Eleanor died, Edward was distraught. He demonstrated his love and grief by erecting twelve Eleanor Crosses, lavishly decorated stone monuments, at each of the places where her funeral cortege rested. Charing Cross, near to the London railway station, is fine example but sadly is a replica. Many of the originals are still standing.  

Edward was originally known as Edward IV, recognising three predecessor Saxon kings. Edward believed that he had a claim to the throne of France and to establish his French connection, was persuaded to change his title establishing the custom of numbering monarchs from The Norman Conquest.

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