Scotlands History

King Edward I (1239-1307)

Edward ruled England from 1272 to 1307. He was a powerful and successful king, a skilled military leader and fearsome warrior. He was known as ‘Longshanks’ because he was so tall.

Edward took part in the ninth crusade. He survived an attempt on his life. Edward was stabbed with a poisoned dagger but fought off the assassin. Edward’s beloved wife Eleanor travelled with him to the Holy Land but died soon after they returned to England.

Edward conquered Wales and incorporated it into the Kingdom of England in 1284. He believed that he had the right to be recognised as overlord of Scotland. After the death of Alexander III the Scots nobles turned to Edward to judge their competing claims to the throne. He decided that John Balliol had the strongest claim.

When the Scots made an alliance with France and attacked Carlisle, Edward sent his army north. Edward made an example of the people of Berwick. Edward laid siege to the town then had Berwick sacked and its inhabitants slaughtered. Around 8000 people were killed – almost everyone in the town.

On 27 April 1296 the English army, under the command of John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, met and defeated the Scots at Dunbar. The Scots nobles were led away to English prisons. John Balliol was humiliated by Edward; stripped of his kingship and held captive in the Tower of London.  Balliol became known as ‘Toom Tabard’ - ‘empty coat’. 2000 Scots nobles and clergy were forced to swear fealty to Edward, signing the ‘Ragman Roll’.

King Edward I had taken Scotland. An English parliament sat in Berwick to govern and tax the Scots. Edward’s troops held castles across Scotland. In 1296 the Scots faced a bleak winter under Edward’s rule.

In time Edward Longshanks would be called ‘the Hammer of the Scots’.

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Listen to the Treaty of Birgham.