Timelines to Visualize History

A Project by the Department of Medieval English Literature and Historical Linguistics, University of Düsseldorf

Begin End Event Description Keywords Related Events
1307 1327

Edward II

Edward was a king of England whose reign was marked by conflict with the nobles until he was eventually overthrown by his wife in favour of his son. He had a very close and controversial relationship with a man called Piers Gaveston, and it is rumored that this was the primary reason for his disposal.

Edward II was born on 25 April 1284, the fourth son of Edward I of England. Edward I died in July 1307 and, his three elder brothers having pre-deceased him, Edward II became king. He immediately recalled his favourite, Piers Gaveston from exile - Edward I had banished him to France for his bad influence on his son. Gaveston was given the earldom of Cornwall, previously a title conferred on royalty.

Opposition to the king and his favourite began almost immediately, and in 1311 the nobles issued the 'Ordinances', which attempted to limit royal control of finance and appointments. Gaveston was twice exiled at the demand of the barons, only to return to England shortly afterwards. In 1312, he was captured and executed by the barons.

In 1314, Edward invaded Scotland, only to be decisively defeated by Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn. Power was now in the hands of the barons headed by Edward's cousin Thomas of Lancaster, who by 1315 had made himself the real ruler of England. Yet Lancaster did little to initiate reform and parts of the country collapsed into anarchy.

By 1318, Edward and Lancaster had been partly reconciled, but the king had two new favourites, Hugh le Despenser and his son. When Edward supported the two Despensers' ambitions in Wales, a group of barons banished both father and son, prompting Edward to fight back. He defeated Lancaster - who had appealed to the Scots for help - at Boroughbridge in March 1322, executing him and recalling the Despensers, with whom he now ruled.

Edward's wife, Isabella of France, now emerged as a focus of opposition. In 1325, she was sent on a diplomatic mission to France where she met and became the mistress of Roger Mortimer, an exiled opponent of Edward. In September 1326, they invaded England. There was virtually no resistance and the Despensers were captured and executed. Edward was deposed in favour of his and Isabella's son, who was crowned Edward III in January 1327.

Edward II was imprisoned at Berkeley Castle and died there. The exact circumstances of his death are unknown, but it is rumored that he was murdered by the new regime.
History, Middle English Period, Kings + Rulers, Political