dward was the youngest son of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile, but he was the only son to live longer than his father. He was born in 1284 at Caernarvon Castle only a year after the castle's construction was begun. Edward may have been a lonely child as his father was always away fighting the Welsh, Scottish or French and his mother died when he was only young. His elder brothers had died before he was born and his sisters were married while they were young so Edward was on his own. This may explain the importance with which he regarded his friends. Edward I died on 7th July 1307 on the way to Scotland to conquer Robert the Bruce. The old King's dying request was that his son should carry his bones with him in battle until Robert was defeated, but Edward II had other ideas.
No taste for royal duties
Edward left Robert Bruce alone in the north and returned to London and to his friends. It seems that Edward II had no time for his royal duties. He preferred to spend time with Piers Gaveston who was a handsome Knight and Edward's companion since childhood. Gaveston was showered gifts and when Edward left for France in early 1308 to marry Isabella, the daughter of Philippe IV of France, Gaveston was left as Regent in charge of affairs in England.
Gaveston had arranged the celebrations for Edward and his new Queen on their return to England, but there were problems with the arrangements and Edward spent more time with Gaveston than Isabella at the festivities. This troubled the new Queen and her attendants. It also troubled Parliament who decided that Gaveston was not fit for the elevated position that Edward had given to him, and told Edward to dismiss his favourite knight. In June of 1308, Gaveston was given the role of Lieutenant of Ireland and he left England, but he had returned by the middle of 1309. A group of 21 lords were elected in agreement with Edward to oversee the management of Edward's affairs. They were known as the 'Lords Ordainers' and their most powerful member was Thomas, Earl of Lancaster. In August 1311, the Ordainers received permission from parliament to dismiss Gaveston and take control of Edwards affairs completely. Gaveston left the country in November, but was back at Edward's side by Christmas. The Lords declared war on their king in early 1312 and Edward with Gaveston moved to York to prepare for civil war. The barons found Gaveston at Scarborough Castle in May and although he was promised safe passage if he surrendered, Gaveston was taken to Warwick Castle and then executed on June 19 by the Earls of Lancaster, Warwick, Arundel and Hereford.
Since the death of his father, Edward had neglected the problem with the Scots. He had ventured briefly into Scotland in 1310, but gained nothing. Robert the Bruce had used the time to strengthen his position and in 1312 reclaimed most of the land in Scotland taken by the English. In June 1313 Bruce besieged Stirling Castle, the only castle left in English hands. The English governor of the castle Philippe de Mowbray came to an agreement with the Scots that if English forces had not reached the castle by midsummer 1314, Mowbray would surrender the castle to them. Bruce even let Mowbray leave the castle to inform the English king of the agreement. Edward had little choice but to prepared for war and called for an army to meet him at Berwick in June of 1314. Edward had collected a large army, double the size of the Scots'. The two armies met on June 24, Midsummer Day at the Bannock Burn where the Scots had prepared traps for the English troops. The English were defeated but Edward managed to escape to Berwick and then back to London.
The years 1315, 1316, 1317 and half of 1318 were extremely bad for Edward and England. Edward lost control of the country to the Ordainers led by the Earl of Lancaster and very heavy rain across Europe destroyed crops for several years in a row. Robert the Bruce was unopposed in the north and captured Berwick and invaded Ireland. On Edward's side was Hugh Despenser (the younger). The two sides were reconciled by the Treaty of Leake in August of 1318 arranged by the 'Middle Party' led by the Earl of Pembroke. A unified King and Ordainers combined their forces and marched north to regain Berwick from the Scots. While they besieged the town in June/July of 1319, a group of Scots invaded Yorkshire and defeated an army under the control of the Archbishop of York. Edward had to abandon the siege and return to deal with the Scots in Yorkshire (truce agreed?).
Hugh Despenser the Younger
Hugh Despenser the Younger and his father became Edward's new favourites at court and like Gaveston before them were richly rewarded by Edward. Hugh was given the title of Lord of Glamorgan and began to upset the Marcher Lords by obtaining their land in South Wales. The most powerful Marcher Loer was Roger Mortimer who sided with Lancaster against the king. In August 1321 the Marcher Lords with the help of Lancaster ensured that the Despensers were banished. The banishment did not last long and by January 1322, the Despensers were back. 1322 was the turning point for Edward when he first captured Roger Mortimer, sending him to the Tower of London and then the Earl of Lancaster was defeated at the Battle Boroughbridge. Lancaster was beheaded on March 22, 1322. Edward finally had his revenge for the murder of Gaveston ten years earlier.
Isabella, the 'she-wolf of France'
Following the death of Lancaster and the imprisonment of Roger Mortimer, Edward's new problem was his wife. Isabella may not have been very close to her husband especially when he had shown more interest in Gaveston and the Despensers. She started to openly oppose her husband and the Despensers and may have been visiting Mortimer in the Tower. Mortimer managed to escape from the Tower at the end of 1323 and he took a ship to France. In 1324, The French king Charles IV invaded Gascony and Isabella, as the French king's sister, asked to go to France to negotiate a peace. When Isabella reached France in 1325 it emerged that she had another agenda. She met up with Roger Mortimer and together they began to plot how to overthrow Edward and the Despensers. Isabella also managed to capture her own son, Edward (III) who had travelled to France to pay homage to the French king. The French king was not happy with his sister's actions and she had to go to Hainault where she managed to recruit an army. Isabella arranged the marriage of Edward (III) to Philippa, the daughter of the Count of Hainault. Isabella and Mortimer landed in England in September of 1326. Edward II had little support in England and had to retreat to Wales. Edward and the Despensers were captured at the end of 1326, the Despensers being executed for treason. The Barons confirmed that Edward (III) should become the keeper of the realm and in January 1326, Edward II abdicated in favour of his son. Aware that Edward II still could pose a threat to them, Isabella and Mortimer had the old king murdered at Berkeley Castle.