Edward was born on 17th June 1239, the son of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence. In 1254 he was created Duke of Gascony and married Eleanor of Castile.
In 1258, prompted by Henry III’s poorly judged involvement in the Sicilian Affair, a number of Barons led by Simon de Montfort demanded that the King agree not to make decisions without approval of a Council of Barons. Henry, nearly bankrupt and fearing Civil War agreed to sign the Provisions of Oxford.
Initially Edward sided with the Barons against his father but when, in 1264, Civil war broke out Edward led the King’s army against that of Simon de Montfort. Following defeat at the Battle of Lewes 14th May 1264 both Henry and Edward were captured.
Edward escaped his captivity in May 1265 and on 4th August at the Battle of Evesham succeeded in defeating the Baron’s army. De Montfort was killed during the battle.
In 1270 Edward left England to go on crusade. While he was away his father died and Edward became King on 21st November 1272.
Edward returned to England in 1274 determined to be a strong King. In 1277 he turned his attention to Wales and defeated Llywelyn ap Gruffydd. LLywelyn was forced to pay homage to Edward but was allowed to keep his title of Prince of Wales. In 1282 Llywelyn and his brother Dafydd rebelled against the English. Edward invaded Wales and by 1284 with both Llywelyn and Dafydd dead the Wales was brought under control of England by the Statute of Rhuddlan. Edward built a number of castles in Wales to keep the lands secure and in 1301 his eldest son, Edward, was invested as Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle. Since this time the eldest sons of all monarchs have borne the title Prince of Wales.
In 1290 Edward’s wife, Eleanor, died. Her body was carried in state from Lincoln to Westminster. Edward ordered 12 Eleanor Crosses to be made, one to be erected at each overnight stop along the route. The final one was placed at Charing Cross in London. Eleanor had given birth to 16 children during her marriage to Edward, six of whom were still living at the time of her death.
In 1292 Edward turned his attention to Scotland. The heir to Scotland, Edward’s granddaughter Margaret, who was betrothed to Prince Edward, died in 1290 leaving rival claimants to the throne. Edward was invited to arbitrate but only agreed to do so if he was recognised as overlord of Scotland. Having given the recognition Edward chose John Balliol as King of Scotland but refused to give up his role as overlord of Scotland. When, in 1295, Edward demanded Scottish military support against France, Scotland refused, made an alliance with France and prepared for war against England.
In 1296 Edward invaded Scotland and sacked Berwick. Scottish resistance was quickly overcome and Balliol was forced to surrender. As a mark of his supremacy Edward took the Stone of Scone, on which all Scottish monarchs had been crowned, to Westminster. In 1297 Scottish resistance to Edward began with a series of revolts led by William Wallace and Andrew de Moray. Scottish victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1298 led to Wallace being named Guardian of Scotland and further raids into Northern England. Determined to crush Wallace Edward invaded Scotland and defeated the Scots at the Battle of Falkirk. However, Wallace escaped capture until 1305 when he was executed. In 1306 Robert Bruce took over leadership of the rebellion against the English. Edward died on 17th July 1307 on his way to fight Bruce.