Edward II

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Edward II

Edward II, 1284–1327, king of England (1307–27), son of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile, called Edward of Carnarvon for his birthplace in Wales.

The Influence of Gaveston

He became the first prince of Wales in 1301 and served in the Scottish campaigns from 1301 to 1306. The prince's dissipation caused his father to banish young Edward's friend Piers Gaveston, who, however, returned to England immediately on Edward II's succession (1307) to the throne. Edward married Isabella of France in 1308. Edward's reliance on Gaveston, both as intimate and adviser, to the exclusion of the baronial council, provoked a crisis. The barons forced Edward to banish (1308) Gaveston, but he soon returned (1309). In 1310 a baronial coalition compelled Edward to consent to the appointment of a committee of 21 lords ordainers to share his ruling powers. The committee drafted the Ordinances of 1311, which, in addition to banishing Gaveston, placed serious restrictions on the royal power. Gaveston was recalled (1311) again, however, and the barons resorted to arms, capturing and killing Gaveston in 1312.

Lancaster and the Despensers

Edward tried to renew his father's campaigns against Scotland, but his forces were routed by Robert I at Bannockburn in 1314. General disorder followed in England, and for a while the most powerful man in the country was Edward's cousin, Thomas, earl of Lancaster (see Lancaster, house of). Lancaster was supplanted (1318) by a moderate group of barons under Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke, who conciliated the king and maintained a relatively stable government until 1321. In that year, Lancaster led a rebellion against the king's new favorites, Hugh le Despenser (1262–1326) and his son. Lancaster was defeated and executed (1322). A Parliament at York (1322) revoked the Ordinances, and Edward, now dominated by the Despensers, regained control of the government. A truce was made (1323) with Robert I that virtually recognized him as king of the Scots. The Despensers carried through some notable administrative reforms, but their avarice caused them to make many enemies.

Abdication and Murder

When trouble threatened with the new king of France (Charles IV, brother of Edward's queen, Isabella), the queen went as envoy to France in 1325, taking her son (later Edward III). Having been alienated by Edward's neglect, she refused to return home while the Despensers ruled. Isabella, with her son and Roger de Mortimer, 1st earl of March, gathered a force and in 1326 invaded England. Edward II found no one to support him and fled westward. The Despensers were executed and Edward himself was captured and forced to abdicate (1327). He was imprisoned in Berkeley Castle and almost certainly murdered there.


See biography by H. F. Hutchison (1971); J. C. Davies, Baronial Opposition to Edward II (1918, repr. 1967); T. F. Tout, The Place of the Reign of Edward II in English History (2d ed. rev. by H. Johnstone, 1937); H. Johnstone, Edward of Carnarvon, 1284–1307 (1947).

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Edward II

weak English king whose love for Gaviston, Earl of Cornwall, so arouses the anger of the nobles that he loses the crown and is murdered. [Br. Drama: Marlowe Edward II in Magill II, 286]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Edward II

1284--1327, king of England (1307--27); son of Edward I. He invaded Scotland but was defeated by Robert Bruce at Bannockburn (1314). He was deposed by his wife Isabella and Roger Mortimer; died in prison
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Scholars have speculated that that there was a 1593 edition of the play, but it is not extant, and Fredson Bowers concludes that 'no such 1593 edition existed' ('Was There a Lost 1593 Edition of Marlowe's Edward the Second?', Studies in Bibliography 25 [1972], 144).
* All quotes from Edward the Second are taken from Christopher Marlowe: The Complete Plays.
This year Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver revived their lesbian noir comic pulp drama Dress Suits to Hire (at New York's La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club); Odalys Nanin was back with Beyond Love (at her own Macha Theatre); Nearly Naked Theatre's (Phoenix) heretical adaptation of Edward the Second let women portray villainous men and queered het relationships; and Christie D'Amore showed up in the stage interpretation of the Kathy Acker novel Don Quixote: Which Was a Dream (Santa Monica's City Garage).
[26] We know, too, that the parallel had some currency in England: the late Elizabethan manuscript version of Francis Hubert's Historie of Edward the Second (BL Harleian MS 2393a) explicitly compares Edward's reign to that of Henri III.
Edward II (in full The Troublesome Raigne and Lamentable Death of Edward the Second) Tragedy in five acts by Marlowe, Christopher.