a) Which historians have specialised in the reign of Edward I ? How have their views changed ? What is the current view of Edward I ?
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b) What are the principal documentary sources for his reign ?
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c) What problems faced Edward on his accession to the throne in 1274 ? What steps did he take to deal with them ? What were the 'Ragman Inquests'?
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d) What changes did Edward make in methods of legislation ? What was the significance of the Statutes? How did they differ from other forms of Common Law ? What problems did the statutes attempt to remedy ? What problems did they create ? Who benefited from Edward's statute legislation?
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e) What improvements did Edward make in the field of fiscal administration ? What changes took place in the assessment and collection of royal taxation ? What were 'Lay Subsidies' ? How were they authorised and who collected them?
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f) Why did Parliament develop in the reign of Edward I ? How did the king used parliament? What kinds of people did he summon to parliament and what did he expect of them ? What powers had parliament acquired by the end of his reign ?
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g) What were the principal objectives of Edward's foreign policy (including Wales and Scotland) ? How successful was he in achieving these aims ?
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h) What is the significance of the 'Confirmation of the Charters' in 1297 ? Did it constitute a major setback for the king ?
Katie Mooney ----
In 1297 Edward I's relationship with his subjects appears to have come to an head. His barons disagreed with the military service he tried to impose upon them, and were joined by the clergy in disputes over the taxes Edward levied to fight wars in France and Scotland. This was a problem for the king, as Edward was faced with the pressing need to defend his territories, while easing the threat of civil war. 

Edward signed the Conformation of Charters in 1297, which was basically to re-established the Magna Carta and the charter of the forest, but also stated military service could not be demanded without consent, and taxes could not be levied without the consent of the community of the realm, then only if the tax was seen to be profitable to the community. 

The significance of the conformation of the charters has raised some historical debates. It has been seen by historians, such as Rothwell, to be the sign of the end of the importance of the charters, which can be seen to decline in the minds of the barons until they became rarely in use after Edward II's succession. This can be noted as a change in style of the barons need to control the king, as different methods, such as the ordinances, began to be frequently used. The Conformation of the charters has also been seen by historians, such as Prestwich, not to be and end but an beginning to the struggle between Edward and his barons, and the king began to be seen to be separate from the crown. 

How did the conformation of Charters effect Edward's polices in his last years? Edward did become more careful in his actions, but he was not completely restrained as the charters can make one believe, and saw it to avoid the obligation the barons imposed by interpreting the conformations in his own way. In 1298 Edward was able to avoid the issue of raising taxes by claiming he would try to live of his own as long as he possibly could, though at this time his treasuries were already empty. He did try to follow this and to survive he sold much of his gold, leaving the crown bankrupt, and sold royal forest land, which was seen to be in violation of the Charters. 

It seems that, though Edward was placed under restraints, he still continued to try to avoid the clauses, which did bring him into dispute with his barons. Even though the Inpexiumus et confirmatios in 1300 bound him even closer to the issues in the charters, by making Edward hold to every article and clause within them, the confirmation of charters did not cause a complete setback as edward was still able to move under his own free will. This period can be seen to be an end to the major reforms of Edward's early reign as he did have to spend his last years trying to avoid any more expansion of the charters, but by the end of his reign and after the annulment of the conformations in 1305 by the pope, the charters seemed to lose interest for the barons who moved to other means to control the monarchy in Edward II reign.


  • 1) Powicke, F. M, THIRTEENTH CENTURY, 1998
  • 2) Prestwich, M, EDWARD I, Methuen, London, 1988 
  • 3) Rothwell, H 'Edward I and the struggle for the charters', p319-332, in Hunt, R.W et al. (eds.), STUDIES IN MEDIEVAL HISTORY PRESENTED TO F. M. POWICKE, Clarendon, Oxford, 1948
  • 4) Salzman, L.F, EDWARD I, Constable, London, 1968 
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 K.D.Mooney hiu45d@bangor.ac.uk

I) What changes took place in the organisation of the Royal Household during this reign ? What was the significance of these changes ?
Caryl Dane ----
As exchequer and chancery went 'out of court', other offices of the royal household remained to give immediate expression to the king's will and remained the pivot of Edward's administration and control.

The royal wardrobe, was where money paid into the king's chamber was stored and also dispensed.

In response to the demands of Edward's military campaigning, the staff of the wardrobe was expanded and split into specialised branches. The wardrobe became responsible for the financing of military operations and other royal ventures, particularly for paying mercenaries to supplement the feudal levies. Becoming far more than merely a domestic office, its staff of clerks eventually became independent of those of the chamber. Though still following the court it acquired a fixed base for storage of archives and accounts, first at the chapter house at Westminster and then at the Tower of London.

Nearly all of Edward's most important ministers began their careers as clerks in the wardrobe.

The keeper or treasurer of the wardrobe kept its accounts .

The second officer, the controller, was responsible for the custody of the archives, was keeper of the counter-roll of accounts and also of the privy seal. The privy seal, was needed to give force to the wardrobe's instructions now that the great seal was at a distance with chancery and exchequer.

Third in rank was the newly created cofferer, another financial officer of the wardrobe.

The crown had the traditional right known as prise, which entitled it to the compulsory purchase of foodstuffs for the royal household. Edward extended these powers for levying provisions for a whole army.

The heads of the wardrobe became officers of high importance in the government; a duplicate team of ministers set up over and sometimes against the ministers of the state, maintaining the king's power and financial autonomy through his household.

Caryl Dane 

j) Does Edward deserve his high reputation as the greatest medieval English king ? What criticisms can be laid against him ? What difficulties did he bequeath to the future ?

SEE BIBLIOGRAPHY SECTIONS Using the relevant volume of ENGLISH HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS find, read and annotate the following documents:

JSI 20/10/99

School of History and Welsh History - University of Wales Bangor