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Edward I
Edward I

Edward I (1239-1307), became king of England in 1272. As king, he conquered Wales and tried to gain control of Scotland. Edward belonged to the Plantagenet family of English rulers.

Edward I was born in Westminster (now part of London). He succeeded his father, Henry III, as king. Edward fought two wars against the Welsh, one in 1277 and another in 1282 and 1283. He conquered Wales in the second war. In 1301, Edward gave the title Prince of Wales to his son, who later became Edward II. Since then, it has become customary for English monarchs to give the title to their oldest son. In 1292, Edward chose John de Balliol as ruler of Scotland from among several men who claimed the Scottish throne. Edward demanded that Balliol pay homage to him. But this demand humiliated the Scottish people, causing them to revolt. In 1296, Balliol joined the rebel forces, but Edward forced him to surrender. Edward then took to England the Stone of Scone, the stone upon which Scottish kings had been given royal power for hundreds of years. He placed the stone in Westminster Abbey, where English monarchs were crowned.

But the Scots continued to fight England. They were led first by William Wallace and then by Robert Bruce. Bruce was crowned king of Scotland in 1306. Edward died while on his way to subdue the new king.

Edward's Scottish policy resulted in hostile relations between the English and the Scots for the next 250 years. It also led to an alliance between Scotland and France. As a result, England had to fight both countries at the same time. Edward's need for money to supply his army and government led him to call Parliaments more often than had any previous king. These Parliaments consisted of representatives of the nobility, of the church, and of the common people. In return for grants of money from Parliament, Edward agreed that taxes could be levied only with Parliament's consent. He also sponsored laws on a wider variety of topics than any previous king.

Edward I was not the first English king named Edward. Numbers are given to the kings and queens of England with the same name only if the monarchs ruled after the Norman Conquest of 1066. There were three Anglo-Saxon kings named Edward who ruled England before 1066: Edward the Elder (870?-924), Edward the Martyr (963?-978?), and Edward the Confessor (1002?-1066).