Edward II


Edward II
1284-1327, king of England 1307-27 (son of Edward I).

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known as Edward of Caernarfon

born April 25, 1284, Caernarfon, Caernarfonshire, Wales
died September 1327, Berkeley, Gloucestershire, Eng.

King of England (1307–27).

He was the son of Edward I. He angered the barons by granting the earldom of Cornwall to his favourite, Piers Gaveston; the barons then drew up the Ordinances (1311), a document limiting the king's power over finances and appointments, and executed the arrogant Gaveston (1312). The English defeat by Robert I at the Battle of Bannockburn (1314) ensured Scottish independence and left Edward at the mercy of powerful barons, notably Thomas of Lancaster. Edward defeated and executed Lancaster in 1322, freeing himself from baronial control and revoking the Ordinances. His queen, Isabella, helped her lover, Roger de Mortimer, invade England with other dissatisfied nobles and depose Edward in favour of his son, Edward III. Edward II was imprisoned and probably murdered.

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▪ king of England
byname  Edward Of Caernarvon  
born April 25, 1284, Caernarvon, Caernarvonshire, Wales
died September 1327, Berkeley, Gloucestershire, Eng.
 king of England from 1307 to 1327. Although he was a man of limited capability, he waged a long, hopeless campaign to assert his authority over powerful barons.

      The fourth son of King Edward I, he ascended the throne upon his father's death (July 7, 1307) and immediately gave the highest offices to Edward I's most prominent opponents. He earned the hatred of the barons by granting the earldom of Cornwall to his frivolous favourite (and possible lover), Piers Gaveston (Gaveston, Piers, Earl of Cornwall). In 1311 a 21-member baronial committee drafted a document—known as the Ordinances—demanding the banishment of Gaveston and the restriction of the King's powers over finances and appointments. Edward pretended to give in to these demands; he sent Gaveston out of the country but soon allowed him to return. In retaliation the barons seized Gaveston and executed him (June 1312).

      Edward had to wait 11 years to annul the Ordinances and avenge Gaveston. Meanwhile, the Scottish king Robert I the Bruce was threatening to throw off English overlordship. Edward led an army into Scotland in 1314 but was decisively defeated by Bruce at Bannockburn on June 24. With one stroke, Scotland's independence was virtually secured, and Edward was put at the mercy of a group of barons headed by his cousin Thomas of Lancaster (Lancaster, Thomas, 2nd Earl of, Earl Of Leicester, Earl Of Derby), who by 1315 had made himself the real master of England. Nevertheless, Lancaster proved to be incompetent; by 1318 a group of moderate barons led by Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke, had assumed the role of arbitrators between Lancaster and Edward. At this juncture Edward found two new favourites—Hugh le Despenser and his son and namesake. When the King supported the younger Despenser's territorial ambitions in Wales, Lancaster banished both Despensers. Edward then took up arms in their behalf. His opponents fell out among themselves, and he defeated and captured Lancaster at Boroughbridge, Yorkshire, in March 1322. Soon afterward, he had Lancaster executed.

      At last free of baronial control, Edward revoked the Ordinances. His reliance on the Despensers, however, soon aroused the resentment of his queen, Isabella (Isabella Of France). While on a diplomatic mission to Paris in 1325, she became the mistress of Roger Mortimer, an exiled baronial opponent of Edward. In September 1326 the couple invaded England, executed the Despensers, and deposed Edward in favour of his son, who was crowned (January 1327) King Edward III. Edward II was imprisoned and in September 1327 died, probably by violence. His career is recounted in Hilda Johnstone's Edward of Carnarvon (1946).

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Universalium. 2010.

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