King Edward II had infuriated his barons by his refusal to consult with them or take their advice and instead was influenced by his coterie of hangers on such as Gaveston and Despenser. Revolt and open defiance of his rule was spreading throughout the old nobility and was to result in a crushing English defeat at the hands of the Scots.
Taking advantage of the unrest, Robert the Bruce of Scotland had not been idle and was gradually retaking the castles captured and garrisoned by Edward’s father and by 1313 only Stirling castle remained in English hands. The Scots besiegers were led by Edward, the brother of Robert Bruce.
Despite a bitter campaign to preserve Welsh independence, Llywelyin and David were finally killed. The Welsh would have to wait for more than 100 years before Glendower made a fresh claim for the principality.
Edward arrived back in England from his crusade in August 1274, he had been proclaimed king on the death of his father without opposition reflecting the regard for his prowess and renown as a warrior, called in his time “the best lance in the world”. He was crowned in 1274 at Westminster Abbey.
Edward was born in 1003AD in Islip, Oxfordshire, the son of Ethelred and Emma of Normandy. He was just ten years old when he was sent to Normandy with his brother Alfred to escape the Danish invasion. While there, he became interested in religion and it was this piety, plus reportedly attending daily confession that earned him the title “Confessor”. He was not a worldly or decisive man and is considered weak and uncertain by some historians. He did however forge strong links between the old English church and Rome, sending bishops to Pope Leo IX’s councils in 1049 and 1050AD.
Every schoolboy knows of Harold’s defeat at Hastings. How different that outcome might have been had Harold not been distracted and weakened by Hardrada’s invasion and Tostig’s treachery.
While much has been written about the King Harold’s struggle to repel the Norman invaders at Hastings on the 14th of October 1066, less attention has been given to an equally important battle fought by him and his forces just nineteen days earlier at Stamford Bridge in the East Riding of Yorkshire.