Friday, July 17, 2009

A Great & Terrible Medieval King - Edward I

One relatively well known fact in Cumbria is that back in medieval times Lanercost Priory was, for a short time, the centre of government for the UK. However the circumstances around this are less well known. We have blogged about medieval Lanercost previously - see our Medieval Court In Cumbria post.

A book well worth reading to learn and understand more about the king's time at Lanercost is the biography of Edward I by Marc Morris "A great and terrible King" in which he tells of the events of 1306 and 1307 when the King was at the end of his life.

Having earned his nickname as the "Hammer of the Scots", August 1306 saw him travelling across Northumberland, staying at Hexham Abbey. From here progress westward was slow but eventually the retinue reached Lanercost where it stayed as 1306 turned into 1307. For more about that medieval winter in Cumbria read our previous Winter Home For A Medieval King post.

Reversals in the Scottish campaigns galvanized Edward I and by mid March 1307 he finally reached Carlisle. It was from here that he planned his next campaign. Even though seriously ill he rode out at the head of the hastily assembled army and headed for the Solway Firth. It took 10 days to cover 6 miles .... a truly sad indication of his health and on 6 July he stopped at Burgh by Sands. The next morning, a Friday and the Feast of St Thomas, he died.

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