Edward I and the Crown of France - Sarah Woodbury

Edward I and the Crown of France

King Edward as a historical figure looms large over my books, both the After Cilmeri series and my new book, Crouchback. Because in the middle ages, the King of England was also the Duke of Aquitaine, not to mention Norman, Edward had ties to France even before he became king. “France”, however, didn’t exist as we know it today, in that Aquitaine was a separate kingdom and the people there were not “French.” Aquitaine had come under the auspices of the kings of England after the marriage of King Henry II to Eleanor of Aquitaine in the late 12th century, as an addition to Henry’s already extensive “French” estates, which included Brittany and Normandy.

Over the next century, the Kingdom of France wrested all but Aquitaine away from the Kings of England. Thus, when Edward left for Crusade from Aigues Mortes, which we visited in the south of France, in alliance with the King Louis and his son Philippe, he was leaving from French-held territory. Although Louis died before he reached the Holy Land and his son, Philippe, decided not to fight anymore, Edward went on to Acre anyway. Despite the disintegration of the alliance, relations remained hospitable enough between France and England that Edward returned home through France, with no concern about a threat to him.

That came later, during the reign of Louis’ grandson, also named Philippe. Although Edward had gone to Paris in 1286 and successfully brokered a peace deal between France and Aragon, after 1291, Philippe turned against him. The dispute was over the Duchy of Aquitaine, which Philippe declared forfeit, under the excuse that Edward, whom he only referred to as the “Duke of Aquitaine” and not the “King of England”, hadn’t sufficiently bent the knee to him. To avert war, Edward agreed to marry Philippe’s sister and give up Gascony, which at the time was part of Aquitaine. The resulting treaty included a provision that Edward first give up all of Aquitaine to Philippe, after which Philippe would return to Edward the part that wasn’t Gascony.

Once Edward had done this, however, Philippe refused to give Edward either his sister or Aquitaine. The result was a lengthy war between England and France. Edward brought an army to France to fight, reaching as far east as the area around Toulouse, and prompting the fortification of castles in French-held territory. At one point, French troops attempted to invade England at Hythe, though they were beaten back by the townspeople. Along the way, both kingdoms went into debt—which, it could be argued, led directly to Philippe expelling France’s Jewish population from the country and destroying the Templars, both of whom were his moneylenders.

Hostilities were concluded by the Treaty of Paris in 1303, resulting in a return to the status quo of before 1294 and the marriage of Philippe’s daughter to Edward’s son, Edward II.

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