Edward's leadership qualities were soon tested when Llywelyn ap Gruffydd declared himself ruler of North Wales and in 1256 rebelled against English control in his homeland. Edward and his father had put down the rebellion by 1257.
The harvests for the years 1256, 1257 and 1258 were poor due to bad weather and floods. Henry III had been living beyond the country's means and his expenditure on conflicts with the Welsh, disastrous campaigns in France and extensive building work on new churches had cost the country dear. Also, the Pope was requesting the money that Henry had promised him for a failed campaign to add Sicily to the Papal domains and was threatening to excommunicate the King if the money was not paid. The Barons's led by Simon de Montfort decided they needed to confront the King, and in April 1258 the Barons called Henry to meet them at Westminster to voice their concerns. The meetings ended with no general agreement apart from the fact that they should all meet again at Oxford on June 11th. At Oxford a Committee of 24 drew up a series of proposals know as 'The Provisions of Oxford', and as an act of faith, Simon de Montfort handed over his castles at Odiham and Kenilworth to the King's control. Initially Edward took the side of the Barons against his father, but the conflict was drawn out and when finally war broke out between the two parties Edward had taken his father's side. In April of 1264 Edward and the King captured the castle at Northampton and along with it the son of Simon de Montfort but in May, at the Battle of Lewes, Henry and Edward were captured themselves. Edward remained in custody until May of 1265 when he managed to escape. In August of the same year the armies of the Barons and the King met at Evesham and Simon de Montfort was killed. Although the barons were defeated a small band of rebels held out in Ely until 1267.
Edward took the cross (a commitment to go on Crusade) in 1268 and left for the Holy Land in July of 1270. In may of 1271, Edward helped relieve the city of Acre from the siege led by the Sultan of Egypt, but was later attacked by an Assassin. Edward survived the attack and began the journey home to England.
King Henry III died in November of 1272 and news reached Edward while he was in Sicily. Edward must have been confident that his selection as the next king was not contested as he travelled around Europe not reaching England until August of 1274. Edward was crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey on 19th August, 1274.
Llywelyn of Wales
Edward's first test as king was to deal with Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the prince of Wales. Llywelyn had not attended Edward's coronation, and failed to met king after several requests. The Welsh prince also stopped paying the sums of money to the English as agreed in the Treaty of Shrewsbury and so Edward had little option but to treat Llywelyn as a rebel and declared war on him. Support for Llywelyn collapsed in the centre of Wales but the North of Wales stood firm behind their prince. In July of 1277, Edward's army left Chester and began their attacks. A series of castles were built on the north coast of Wales from where Edward could leave troops to control the surrounding areas and which could be easily resupplied from the sea. By December, Llywelyn accepted defeat and the Welsh prince swore fealty to Edward at Westminster Abbey. Peace in Wales did not last long. In 1282 Llywelyn's brother David began another revolt and Llywelyn was killed in December of the same year. Edward continued his campaign against David during 1283, during which the construction of several important castles was begun. These castles included Caernarvon, Conwy and Harlech. David was captured in 1283 and executed several months after his arrest.
New laws and Parliament
Soon after becoming king, Edward set about reforming the laws of his kingdom. He instigated a review of all the land owners and their rights to own the land. From this information, he was able to plan his taxation more effectively to support his military campaigns. His first Parliament met in April of 1275 and in May, the Statute of Westminster defined the rules and privileges of these land owners.
The Eleanor Crosses
In November of 1290 Edward's wife Eleanor died. As Edward travelled back from Harby near Lincoln with her body to London, he stayed over night at several locations. Some time later, Edward arranged for crosses to be erected at each of these locations in memory of his wife.
Scotland and the Maid of Norway
In 1286 the Scottish king Alexander III died. He had no male heir and next in line for the Scottish throne was Alexander's grand-daughter Margaret, the Maid of Norway. Edward had arranged that his son Edward (II) was to marry Margaret and so unite the English and Scottish nations. Unfortunately Margaret died on the voyage to Scotland from her home in Norway. This left the Scottish throne vacant and the succession in dispute. The Scots asked Edward to mediate and from May to July of 1291 Edward met the claimants including Robert the Bruce. In 1292 Edward selected John Balliol who was a distant relation of Alexander as the new king. Balliol paid homage to Edward and Scotland came under English control.
Attacked from all sides
In May of 1294, relations with France dipped when Gascony was confiscated by Philippe IV. Edward went to Parliament to ask for funds to pay an army to fight the French but he met resistance. The Welsh and Scottish too were reluctant to pay for a war between England and France and a revolt began in Wales. Edward spent the end of 1294 and the beginning of 1295 dealing with the Welsh. In October of 1295, the Scots made an alliance with the French and Edward had little choice but to declare war on both. In November, Edward met with the first 'Model' parliament and it was agreed to raise the money needed to fund the campaigns. Edward took his army into Scotland in early 1296 and defeated Balliol at Dunbar on April 27th who was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Edward then removed the Stone of Scone on which the Scottish Kings were crowned and took it to Westminster. The Stone was to remain in London until very recently when it was returned to its rightful place. In 1297, Edward sailed to France to confront Philippe, but just before he left he was confronted by a group of Barons who were unhappy with the constant increase in tax that the king was demanding. In France, Edward arranged a truce and when he returned to England he signed the charters that forbade the King raising taxes without the consent of representatives of the whole country.
Treaty with France and war with Scotland
In August on 1297, Edward left England in the hands of three (?) barons and sailed to France. By October, he had managed to regain Gascony through a treaty with Philippe. Back at home, led by William Wallace, the Scots had rebelled and defeated the Earl Warenne and an English army at Stirling Bridge. Edward returned to England in the spring of 1298 and launched an attack on Scotland. Wallace was defeated at the battle of Falkirk on July 22 of 1298 by Edward and his archers with the powerful longbow. Wallace was not captured and managed to escape to France where he possibly remained until 1305 when he returned to Scotland and was captured. From 1300 until his death in July or 1307, Edward spent much of his time fighting or arranging a truce with the Scots. It was the rebellion led by Robert Bruce in 1306 which spurred Edward into his final march to Scotland but he was ill and at Burgh-on-Sands near Carlisle Edward died. He was succeeded by Edward (II), his youngest surviving son from his first marriage to Eleanor of Castile.