1325 to 1380 The Age of Interference?
Some histories will look at this period from the standpoint of Edward (the III) , what Edward (the III) did and what people thought about what Edward (always the III) had done. Actually, this requires viewing from a wider perspective as there was a lot of interference going on, enacted by a number of people on each other, which in these days we would call International Politics as if we had invented it.
For convenience sake, we shall start with Edward who started out as ‘of Windsor’ on account of being born there 13th Nov. 1312
Edward Comes of Age
With his father (ex-Edward II) deposed in 1327 and possibly killed but more likely to be allowed to flee, Edward (still of Windsor) realised his situation was delicate because his mother Isabella was in a delicate relationship with The Roger Mortimer. Even though he (now Edward III) had been crowned in 1327,‘They’ were running the country and if her personal heath became delicate and she and Mortimer had a little delicatessen then, his position (Edward ie) would be so delicate as to be possibly fatal. This concern was not helped by Mortimer acting like Edward was his surly teenage son. Surly and teenage he might be, stupid he was not so in 1330 with the aid of the We-Hate-Mortimer group of Nobles he gently deposed his mother and not so gently disposed of Mortimer. Being chivalrous he imprisoned his mother in comfortable surroundings and used to visit her and later with grandchildren, so despite the efforts of Victorians she did not go mad, though was probably distraught about Mortimer (for a while)
Scotland- Successions, Pretenders, English folk and Davids Who Won’t Go Away
Robert (The I, The Bruce, The Famous etc) did not have a chance of being involved in all the fuss and drama as he was dying of an ‘unclean sickness’. Since everyone in those days was pretty grubby and generally dying through not washing their hands, why contemporaries should make such an issue of Robert in particular seems a bit unfair. Suffice it to say he expired in 1329.
He was succeeded by Daibhidh a Briuis (or as the English insisted David the II). As he was only aged 5 at the time and those charged with his regency died (probably of English or Pretenders) these were parlous times and he was often obliged to go into exile as well as be captured by the English.
David (for sake of clarity)’s main problem was the Balliol family who had been friends with the English or Anglo-Norman kings from the times of King Stephen and had even had a Matilda of their own (See Vol I). For this reason Balliols (or Belliols) had started to believe they could pretend to be Kings of Scotland, and the latest, Edward thought that kings of Scotland and England with the same name would be heavily advantageous to the Isles as no foes could be sure who was who or where so, in 1332 he said he was king(of Scotland, that is). Many Scots nobles didn’t see it that way kept deposing him no matter how many times the English kept undeposing him. With David (or Daibhidh) back in 1341 he (Edward, the Balliol) was obliged to flee to Galloway and raise a rebellion and in 1346 returned after David (the II or a Bruis) had made an English noble called Neville very cross, had been invaded for it and captured. Although Edward (the Pretender) thought he might profit no one really took him seriously and in 1356 he gave up and retired to a post office in Doncaster.
David would spend spent many years in England and Edward (the III) would insist the Scots paid to have him (ie David The Bruce-ish) back He would return to Scotland as we shall see.
The Hundred Years War
The French were led by Philip VI who was fortunate and had managed to seize the bits of France which English kings said were theirs and send pirates to raid the English coast This annoyed Edward The III so much that he said he could be a better King of France and intended to prove it by invading the afoementioned France. He firstly became friends with Louis VI which was a shrewd move. Louis was a very successful fellow having become King of the Germans in 1314, the Italians in 1327 and finally in Emperor of any Romans he could find in 1328, he rewarded Edward (III) by announcing he (Edward that is) could be a vicar in any parts of Germany he chose. Encouraged by this Edward formed an alliance with The Portuguese and was thus able to sluice the French off of the seas in 1340.
With all these advantages and control of the seas in plaice Edward invaded France in 1346 where his Gothically inclined son The Black Prince defeated the French at Crecy and Poitiers. This was also because Phillip VI had ceased and his son John (or Jean) was captured (or capture) with his own sons Phillip (or Philipe) and Louis (or Louis). All were held for ransom (or rancom), but in raising the gold (or d’or) the French nobility found difficulties (or tres excuses feeble). John gained the moral high ground when his son Louis cheated and escaped in1363 which was not allowed in Chivalry. In response John said he would now be a prisoner in England. He arrived in 1364 .Everyone greeted him with great celebration and feasting, and so three months later being of such good repute he died.
Other Nations Kings And Ransoms
It was a perfectly respectable thing to do to capture other people’s nobles and kings and demand large amounts of gold and silver for their return, but not so funny if the said peoples weren’t keen on having them back. This was a problem for the English Government during this era.
The Scots had managed to wrangle a deal to make easy instalment payments and so David (The II don’t forget) returned to Scotland in 1363. Once safe in Scotland and with England tangled up with the French he suggested later that instead of paying gold etc, a son of Edward III could be king after him; he then cannily dragged out the negations until dying 1371 of infidelity. In the meantime, he had knocked nobles etc into line, gathered so much extra money (by not paying England) that Scotland was now so solid it was basically independent and great friends with France.
Edward (III) had not noticed this because he was trying to get the French to pay for their king; they having more capital and land than the Scots. This confused the French as they thought he had said he was going to be King anyway, so why would they want John (or Jean) back anyhow? Edward confused matters even more in 1360 by saying he didn’t have to be king (of France) just so long as he kept the lands he rightful taken (or stolen). And then Jean (or John) died (see above) which ruined everything.
So by 1371 Edward was quite disillusioned with whole ransoming of Captured Kings
The Black Death
This appeared to appear from Asia and was caused by fleas on rats, although no doubt washing the hands would have helped stop the spread. Medical Science at the time was not much advanced although various cures were experimented with such as poking holes in people, wrapping them in hot wet blankets, cold wet blankets or pushing pigeons into various infected areas; unsurprisingly the death toll was high. Because Edward I & II had driven out the Jewish community the local population had no one to foist the blame onto, except the Church, who countered by saying it was all down to Devine Judgement, which was a daft thing to claim seeing as how a large number priests, bishops etc died too. Eventually there were so few rats the plague went away, for a while. One of the results being that many peasants had died, leaving the nobles with a reduced workforce thus the surviving peasants could just go and work for whom these pleased at what wages they, the peasants thought reasonable. Although various parliaments tried to do something to keep the peasants in their place things were not the same anymore and so set the scene for the rise of Socialism, Non-Conformities, Rat Catchers and experiments with washing hands.
The Continued Rise of Parliament.
Edward’s principal problem with the body was that so many people were getting into Parliament that it had enough representatives to have a House of Commons and a House Of Lords who when they weren’t arguing with each other would both tell the king (ie respectfully suggest and advise) he couldn’t have any money. They became so full of themselves they assembled in 1376 on April 28th and didn’t go away until the 10th July, during which time they made so many speeches they insisted they were The Good Parliament. Edward was therefore obliged to dismiss his current group of advisors and have men appointed by Parliament (The Good) even if one who was a son of Roger Mortimer, just to remind Edward the III what had happened to Edward the II. They also insisted he have two bishops and to really confuse him they were both named William. Luckily for Edward his very thin and serious son John of Gaunt invented, in 1377 a Bad Parliament which said everything the Good Parliament had done was possibly illegal, heretical, or treasonous and empowered Gaunt to throw people in jail if he felt like.
This was of great comfort to his father Edward (III of course) who at the time was suffering from a large abyss resulting in his death 23rd June 1377.
The Legacy of the Era of Edward III
Because Edward had been good at fighting the Scots and The French his nobles admired and trusted him, thus for some years both were on the same side. As there were so many parliaments the common people thought they were being listened to. Also by codifying the Laws of Treason and felonies, people now had the right to know what they were being arrested or thrown into a dungeon for. Fighting the French was also popular with the people; in particular as due to French foreign policy there were more popes than usual (ie One). Edward circumvented this difficulty by only choosing to listen to the one which had not be chosen by The French. In conclusion, it must also be mentioned that Edward was secure enough to make the wearing women’s garters by men of noble birth an act of Chivalry. Thus, he died beloved.
In general England felt strong and independent, Scotland felt wealthy and independent, Ireland wasn’t listening to anyone outside of Ireland and thus sort of Independent; Wales however was stuck with the king’s eldest son being its prince so was continuing to invest in a Cultural Identity.
In the next Chapter, we shall look at the Circumstance of The Church during this era and the confusion arising when the Assertions that The King was God’s Appointed Regent and the Church being God’s Appointed Servants got all mixed up by kings and bishops.
A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 4 Edward II, And What Others Did About Him