Today on November 20, 1272, Edward I, known as the Hammer of the Scots, was proclaimed King of England.
Edward I, commonly known as Edward Longshanks, succeeded his father Henry III to become King of England. Born into the House Plantagenet, he ruled over his kingdom for almost thirty-five years. Upon ascending the throne, he immediately took steps to strengthen the crown and parliament against the hostile English old nobility. Edward instituted many legal, criminal, and administrative reforms throughout the realm. By creating an efficient system for raising taxes, he was able to modernize the army and wage war. His temperamental personality and tall stature earned him the nickname, Longshanks. Edward became the most powerful monarch in Europe and embodied the ideals of a medieval king.
Edward is primarily remembered for initiating wars against Wales and Scotland. He ruthlessly suppressed rebellions in Wales and eventually conquered the entire country. He built a series of imposing castles across the countryside to enforce his will over the people. Edward’s first son was born in Caernarfon Castle in the heart of Wales. As a result, he named his son Edward II as the first Prince of Wales. The title has since become a royal tradition for naming the first heir. After subduing Wales, Edward turned his attention towards his northern enemy, the Scots.
In 1286, King Alexander III of Scotland suddenly died after falling from his horse. His granddaughter Margaret was his only surviving heir, but she too died shortly after. Edward seized the opportunity as Scotland’s nobles fought from the control of the crown. In 1296, Edward claimed to be the Overlord of Scotland and began colonizing parts of the countryside. The English army constructed a network of forts and garrisons to enforce his claim. Historians have also nicknamed him “The Hammer of the Scots.” The Scottish rebel William Wallace bitterly fought against the English, bravely defeating them at the Battle of Stirling. Edward eventually conspired with the Scottish nobles to capture Wallace, who he subsequently hanged and quartered.