Young Folks' History of England HTML version

15. Edward I, Longshanks, A.D. 1272—1307
The son of Henry III. returned from the Holy Land to be one of our noblest,
best, and wisest kings. Edward I.—called Longshanks in a kind of joke,
because he was the tallest man in the Court—was very grand-looking and
handsome; and could leap, run, ride, and fight in his heavy armor better than
anyone else. He was brave, just, and affectionate; and his sweet wife,
Eleanor of Castille, was warmly loved by him and all the nation. He built as
many churches and was as charitable as his father, but he was much more
careful to make only good men bishops, and he allowed no wasting or idling.
He faithfully obeyed Magna Carta, and made everyone else obey the law—
indeed many good laws and customs have begun from this time. Order was
the great thing he cared for, and under him the English grew prosperous and
happy, when nobody was allowed to rob them.
The Welsh were, however, terrible robbers. You remember that they are the
remains of the old Britons, who used to have all Britain. They had never left
off thinking that they had a right to it, and coming down out of their
mountains to burn the houses and steal the cattle of the Saxons, as they still
called the English. Edward tried to make friends with their princes—Llewellyn
and David—and to make them keep their people in order. He gave David
lands in England, and let Llewellyn marry his cousin, Eleanor de Montfort. But
they broke their promises shamefully, and did such savage things to the
English on their borders that he was forced to put a stop to it, and went to
war. David was made prisoner, and put to death as a traitor; and Llewellyn
was met by some soldiers near the bridge of Builth and killed, without their
knowing who he was. Edward had, in the meantime, conquered most of the
country; and he told the Welsh chiefs that, if they would come and meet him
at Caernarvon Castle, he would give them a prince who had been born in
their country—had never spoken a word of any language but theirs. They all
came, and the king came down to them with his own little baby son in his
arms, who had lately been born in Caernarvon Castle, and, of course, had
never spoken any language at all. The Welsh were obliged to accept him; and
he had a Welsh nurse, that the first words he spoke might be Welsh. They
thought he would have been altogether theirs, as he then had an elder
brother; but in a year or two the oldest boy died; and, ever since that time,
the eldest son of the King of England has always been Prince of Wales.
There was a plan for the little Prince Edward of Caernarvon being married to
a little girl, who was grand-daughter to the King of Scotland, and would be
Queen of Scotland herself—and this would have led to the whole island being
under one king—but, unfortunately, the little maiden died. It was so hard to
decide who ought to reign, out of all her cousins, that they asked king
Edward to choose among them— since everyone knew that a great piece of
Scotland belonged to him as over-lord, just as his own dukedom of Aquitaine